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Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Sunday Reflections: A Sea of Black Belts and the Myth of the Lazy Teen

Teenagers, they’re all so lazy and entitled, amirite?

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Having worked with teenagers for a over 22 years now, I know that there are certain truths that the general public holds self evident. The most popular among them is the idea that teenagers are lazy, entitled brats who are a menace to society. I thought about this perception of teens a lot this weekend as I sat in a sea of teenage black belts soaked in blood, sweat and, sometimes, tears.

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I spent my weekend at an International Tae Kwan Do Tournament in Dallas, Texas. There were 48 schools that gathered together to spend the weekend competing, among those competing were a mega ton of teens. I saw hundreds of teenage black belt walking around this weekend and having witnessed my own teenager get her black belt, I can tell you that a lot of hard work and dedication goes into the process. These kids spent more time and energy in this process than many of us will spend on any one single thing in our life time. It took my daughter a little over 3 years of 3 times a week classes, practice at home, and one of the most brutal tests you will ever witness. I don’t mean brutal in terms of getting beat up by other people, although that did happen, but I mean brutal in terms of the lengths of the test and the amount of physical and mental energy it demands of its test takers.

Many of the teens competed in a demo team competition late Friday night. Like my daughter, these teens committed hours and hours of time practicing to learn their routines and get their timing and precision just right. They practiced on Friday nights. They practiced on Saturday mornings. They practiced on Sunday afternoons. This is on top of the many hours of classes they attend regularly during the week. Every time I took my daughter to practice I marveled at this team’s dedication and hard work.

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The Bestie went with us this week to support The Teen. She spent her Friday night cheering on her friend. We got home late at night only to wake up just a few hours later to get up, drive back and do it all over again. She sat patiently for hours waiting for her best friend to participate in a 15-minute competition. She enthusiastically cheered her on. She is loving, kind, supportive and everything I would want in a friend. And in this moment, she was selfless.

The Bestie herself recently spent her own hours dedicated to making the cheerleading squad for the upcoming year (we’re so proud!). She took tumbling classes to perfect her flips and jumps. She worked tirelessly to maintain the grades she needed to be eligible. And then she spent evenings learning the routines she needed to know for tryouts. She’ll spend part of her summer going to camps and getting prepared for the next year. Cheerleaders are another group who are harmfully stereotyped, when the truth is they put a lot of hard work and dedication into their craft.

Many teens will spend time this summer in marching band camp, two-a-day football practices, church camp, science camp, volunteering, or working summer jobs.

Don’t get me wrong, some days I look over at my teen and she is laying like an invertebrate slug on the couch and I think if she tries to move she will have to ooze like a liquid blob across the floor. But this is actually a normal part of adolescent development. The teenage years are rivaled only by the baby and toddler years in the amount of physical change and growth that takes place. We give toddlers tons of leeway for behavior and sleep, but teenagers often don’t get the same consideration even though we know biologically that the same types of demands are being made on their brains and bodies.

Do teenagers sleep a lot? Yes, they often do. And science tells us that they need to. The amount of energy being expended behind the scenes to help their bodies and brains grow is monumental. A two-year old can throw a full blown tantrum in the candy aisle of the grocery store and we all make knowing eye contact with the parents because we’ve been there and understand. But heaven forbid a teenager walk into the library with a sullen expression and a clipped verbal interaction after a regimented eight-hour day of school.

Teens and sleep: Why you need it and how to get enough – NCBI

Want to know another secret? Even though I love my job, my co-workers, and my community, I’m sometimes cranky after an eight-hour day at work. I just want a moment after meeting the demands of everyone else around me to decompress. Because I am an adult, I often get to do just that. I get to manage my time and interactions outside of work. Teenagers often don’t. In fact, I can think of no other time in my life then my teenage years when there were so many outside demands put on my time, attention and attitudes. Young kids are given a lot of freedom to explore the world and play, we try to be empathetic to their needs, but less so with teenagers. School, extracurricular activities, jobs, chores, church and more – the demands and expectations that society puts on teenagers can be overwhelming.

As a librarian who works with teens, I have fought against the stereotypes we hold for teenagers my entire career. I have seen toddlers throw fits and adults berate staff over 10 cent fines, and no one has ever said let’s shut down the youth or adult services department. But have a bad interaction with a group of teens and staff are lamenting that we have to have teen services at all. Why do we want them coming into the library, we ask, when there behavior is so awful.

Teens are just like any other group of people. Some of them are truly awful. I, the teen services librarian and advocate, will secretly loathe a couple of the teens that use my space every once in a while. For one reason or another, we just won’t connect or I genuinely hate their attitude and approach to life. I will work hard to make sure that none of them ever know this, but if we’re going to be honest, it happens.

But I also think that we as a society do a really bad job of seeing all the positive things that teens are doing, how hard they work, and the demands that we put on this group of people who have so little say in what we ask of them. Every day there are teens solving problems, helping others, supporting people they love, and pursuing their personal dreams. There are teens getting up early to go to practices, staying late for more practices, and sacrificing weekend mornings that could be spent sleeping in or playing video games to do things that they have a passion for. We just keep overlooking it.

It’s an old marketing saying that a negative experience will be communicated by your customer to 7 other people. We don’t pass on the positive, because our expectation is to have a positive costumer service experience. But a negative customer experience, we’ll pass that on to everyone. It’s the same thing with teens. We, society, tend to focus on the negative and forget to tell each other about the positives.

This is me sharing with you a positive and reminding us all that we need to stop being negative about teens. They’re working harder than we and the media often give them credit for. As I looked out this weekend and saw a sea of teenage black belts, I am reminded once again that the way that we talk about teens just isn’t correct.

Also, maybe we need more YA with teens who do martial arts. Pretty please.

Friday Finds: March 24, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Support Libraries, Save the IMLS

Quick Book Review: The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend

Recently in Book Mail

Middle School Monday: I Wish Donald Trump Knew That… by J.

Getting Ready for May the Fourth: Some Star Wars STEAM Ideas

Things I Never Learned in Library School: The Best Made Plans . . . Still Sometimes Fail

#SJYALit: If You Don’t Get It, You Won’t Get It Right, a guest post by Shaun David Hutchinson

Book Review: Armstrong and Charlie by Steven B. Frank

Teen Book Club – Creating a Place to Read and Belong! (a guest post by Sheri Schubbe)

Book Review: Pyromantic by Lish McBride

Around the Web

THE KIDS AREN’T JUST ALL RIGHT—THEY’RE BETTER THAN US

Black and Latina Girls Keep Disappearing in Washington, DC

The Next Caldecott?

Social Media Provides Interesting Insights Into Mumps Outbreak

Ugh…Censorship

You Probably Believe Some Learning Myths

The Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of A Special Education Student

The White House Said After-School Programs Don’t Help Kids. Here’s What the Research Says

What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About Libraries

 

Book Review: Pyromantic by Lish McBride

pyromanticThe ARC for this sequel to her 2014 novel Firebug hit my doorstep extremely early, but I still dropped everything to read it – and I was not disappointed. I enjoyed this entry into McBride’s universe every bit as much as her previous novels. Rejoining her characters felt like coming home.

For some context, read my review of Firebug here.  We also have a great interview from her blog tour for Firebug here.

Summary from the publisher:

Ava is having a rough time. Getting rid of Venus didn’t set her free—she’s still Coterie. Her new boss seems like an improvement, but who knows if he’ll stay that way? The Coterie life changes people. And since Ava’s currently avoiding her friends after (disastrously) turning down a date with Lock, well, everything kind of sucks. And that’s not even taking into account the feelings she might have for him.

But when a mysterious illness starts to affect magical beings, it’s up to Ava and her team to stop its spread . . . or else one of them might be next.

I don’t really want to get into the plot here – too many spoilers. What I’d like to reflect on, however is Lish McBride’s ‘dual giftedness’ that makes her one of my favorite authors. As I said above, rejoining her characters felt like coming home. A model of ‘show not tell,’ McBride’s characterizations are delightful. Even her minor characters come fully fleshed with individual flaws and weaknesses. Her main characters are so fully realized that you feel they are close friends after reading the story. Secondly, McBride is gifted in the style of storytelling I like most, where individual threads of story are introduced individually and slowly woven together to form a complete and often bizarrely interrelated story. In the beginning, all you can see are the separate threads. By the end they make a picture so complete and detailed, without ever ‘overtelling.’

If I were you, I would drop everything to get my hands on a copy of Pyromantic. And if you haven’t yet read Firebug, or her other novels in this world Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone, you are in for a treat!

Pyromantic hit shelves on Tuesday, March 21st.

Teen Book Club – Creating a Place to Read and Belong! (a guest post by Sheri Schubbe)

Everyone who works with teens in an educational library setting knows it’s a struggle to compete for a their time and attention. We’re up against schoolwork, sports, various extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, social media and technology. We want teens to spend time in our libraries and love reading, but it can be challenging to get them in the doors. Three years ago, after being a classroom teacher for many years, I became our district’s library media specialist. One of my first goals was to start a book club and, over the past few years, it’s become one of the most successful extra-curricular activities in our school. This year we have 530 students in our school, and about 40 are involved in Book Club. Here’s what I’ve learned since its inception in 2014.

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  • Start by partnering with the Youth Services Librarian from your local public library. When the school and public library work together, a community is strengthened. Katelyn Boyle, the Youth Services Manager at the Peotone Public Library, assists in planning and is able to access books through our  interlibrary loan system. She even comes to each book club meeting! Our teens know her as a public library partner to their education, which is a positive thing.

 

  • Meet regularly. Our book club meets one Friday a month at 7:30 AM. Yes, that’s early, but this is the time that conflicts the least with sports, clubs, and part-time jobs. I serve a simple continental breakfast at each meeting and am flexible in allowing bus-riding students to arrive late. We only meet during the school year; we tried a summer meeting one time, but it was not successful.

 

  • Create a welcoming, comfortable, and accepting environment. In our Media Center, we push tables together so everyone faces each other. There are also couches and lounge chairs nearby, so students have a choice of where to sit at the meeting. From the beginning, students understand that there are no topics off-limits and all viewpoints are welcomed.There have been discussions where members have expressed different opinions, but we have never had a situation where a student was disrespectful to another. Our kids are aware and proud of this!

 

  • Select the books yourself. Some school librarians may disagree and believe it’s best to give students a choice, but Katelyn and I feel it’s best we take that responsibility. Our students trust us to pick books they will enjoy. And that is critical. Choose books they will enjoy, not books you, as the librarian, believe would enrich the curriculum. We’ve tried a few award-winning non-fiction titles, but they have not been well-received by our group. Students told us that they are too similar to their required reading for their classes. Listen to what your teens tell you! If they love what they’re reading with the book club and get involved in the discussions, they will keep coming back!

 

  • Obtain as many copies of your book club selection as possible to hand out at the meeting. Sometimes, we are unable to have enough copies for everyone, so our faster readers know to turn in their books to me as soon as they are finished. I keep a list and contact students when copies become available. To assure that we can obtain many copies of a book through interlibrary loan, we often choose titles that are a few years old.

 

  • Have activities and discussion questions prepared for each meeting. Sometimes, I’ll start with a brief readers’ theater, book trailer, author interview video, or book review video I find on the author’s website, on YouTube, or on the publisher’s website. In case it’s needed, I always have questions available in a jar that students can randomly pick to get discussion started. Most of the time, it’s not needed.

 

  • Offer opportunities for book club students to get involved with more than just the monthly meetings. For example, our students help decorate the media center, volunteer at the Eighth Grade Orientation Night to promote our program, work at our annual Barnes & Noble Bookfair, attend book-to-movie outings, participate in book craft events, and work as “Library Helpers” assisting with tasks in the school library. Some of our non-meeting activities are held at the public library to encourage students to become more familiar with the building and the resources available there.

 

  • Plan activities for your teens to share their love of reading with others. Reading to elementary students in the district or participating in community literacy events are great outreach activities. This year so far, our teens have led a literacy activity for children at the University of Illinois Youth Literature Festival and our district book fair.

 

  • Reward your awesome teen readers with an author visit. Our students love to read a book, and then meet the author. Even schools on a tight budget, like ours, can find local authors who do not charge a fortune, but give terrific and motivational presentations to teens. Always meet with students ahead of time and help them to prepare for the event by planning questions and comments for the author.

 

  • Promote your book club by reaching out to younger students in your district. It’s important to meet with middle grade students to  tell them about Book Club and encourage them to get  involved. The continuation of your program depends on new members each year. Ask your current members to tell eighth graders about the Book Club. Our middle schoolers love to hear from the high school students!

 

  • Communicate often with your readers. I use a group email (all students have a school gmail account) and my teacher website to touch base with my students regularly. I also use the Remind App for text communication. Recently, with administrative approval, we started a Peotone High School Book Club Instagram page. Students cannot post directly to the page, but may e-mail photos to our club gmail account for consideration. In addition to our current members, several of our junior high students and alumni follow the Instagram page. It’s another way to encourage younger students to join the group once they get into high school and to keep in touch with our grads.

 

  • Design a Book Club T-shirt. We design one each year that members can purchase at a reasonable cost. It gives us that “team” feel, and we look great when we dress alike for events. Consider adopting a slogan as well. We use a John Green quote, “Great books help you understand, and they help you to feel understood.” This year, since our teens participated in the Youth Literature Festival, I bought a professionally printed vertical banner for our group. It displays a beautiful book graphic with our school logo and our slogan. The kids love it!

 

  • Personally invite students to join Book Club. At any point in the school year, when I see a student who seems to need a “place,” I invite him or her to join. The mix of students in our group is one of my favorite things. Students who probably would never talk to each other in the Commons before school, are interacting and forming friendships at Book Club!

 

  • Word of mouth! Encourage some of your most enthusiastic members to tell their friends how much they love Book Club. Word will get around, and you’ll be thrilled when students wander into the library media center asking how they can join!

Sheri Schubbe

Library Media Specialist, IL

Book Review: Armstrong and Charlie by Steven B. Frank

Publisher’s description

armstrongCharlie isn’t looking forward to sixth grade. If he starts sixth grade, chances are he’ll finish it. And when he does, he’ll grow older than the brother he recently lost. Armstrong isn’t looking forward to sixth grade, either. When his parents sign him up for Opportunity Busing to a white school in the Hollywood Hills, all he wants to know is “What time in the morning will my alarm clock have the opportunity to ring?” When these two land at the same desk, it’s the Rules Boy next to the Rebel, a boy who lost a brother elbow-to-elbow with a boy who longs for one.
From September to June, arms will wrestle, fists will fly, and bottles will spin. There’ll be Ho Hos spiked with hot sauce, sleepovers, boy talk about girls, and a little guidance from the stars.
Set in Los Angeles in the 1970s, Armstrong and Charlie is the hilarious, heartwarming tale of two boys from opposite worlds. Different, yet the same.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

This was a fantastic book. While at its heart it’s about serious issues–racism, busing, and school integration–it’s also a book full of humor and is narrated by two characters with great, stand-out voices. Set in 1974 and 1975, Armstrong’s parents sign him up to be bused out of his neighborhood  from his all-black school in South Central LA to an, until now, all-white school, Wonderland, in the Hollywood Hills. Charlie, who is Jewish, is puzzled why suddenly everyone else in his neighborhood is leaving Wonderland to attend private schools or schools out of the area. A neighbor kid tells Charlie that Wonderland is “going downhill” and their parents don’t want them there. Charlie says those parents are racist, but Charlie’s dad says they’re just doing what they think is right for their kids. Charlie’s parents are doing the same.

 

As you might imagine, the integration isn’t seamless and Armstrong, who has a history of fights, is quick to be confrontational and bristles easily. Charlie and Armstrong share a table and, while they don’t get along well at first, end up becoming friends. But the path to that genuine friendship involves fights, theft, and what often feels like reluctant attempts to actually get to know each other. Along the way, the boys are helped out by their loving, compassionate families. Charlie has always been raised to stand up against injustice. His mother (currently lost in a fog of grief over the recent death of Charlie’s brother) is part of a consciousness-raising group. When Armstrong steals from Charlie’s lunch and Charlie gets mad, his father encourages him to stop and think for a second about why Armstrong stole. Armstrong also has the guidance of Mr. Khalil, his 95-year-old neighbor. The road to their friendship isn’t always easy, but then again, whose is? 

 

Armstrong and Charlie is a funny and thoughtful look at differences, friendship, family, and the changing times of the 1970s. This historical fiction story has broad appeal. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780544826083

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication date: 03/07/2017

#SJYALit: If You Don’t Get It, You Won’t Get It Right, a guest post by Shaun David Hutchinson

sjyalitI tell stories because the real world sucked for me when I was a teen.  No.  Sucked doesn’t even begin to cover it.  The real world nearly killed me.  The real world told me that I was going to hell because I was gay.  It told me I would die of AIDS or have the crap kicked out of me or spend my life as an unfulfilled sex addict or as someone’s campy gay best friend without a real life of my own.  I tried to escape the real world by reaching out to books and movies and television, but found only the same poison that infected reality.

 

More and more I’m seeing members of the YA community (led primarily by women of color) standing against and calling out books that feature harmful representation of race or gender or sexuality or disability.  Rather than allowing these books to continue to be published unchallenged, they’re taking a stand and shining a light on these problematic books and the system that continues to publish them.  At the same time, within minutes of someone calling out a book, someone else will come along and say, “What’s the big deal? It’s only fiction.”  You can set your watch by it. I promise.

 

It’s only fiction, right?  I can’t harm anyone, right?  Wrong.  We live in a big world, but as we’re growing up we often see only a small part of it.  That small part becomes our entire world.  We look to the people around us, the friends and family and schoolmates that inhabit our worlds, to catch glimpses of our possible futures.  And we use literature and movies and television as telescopes to view life outside of our worlds.  For many people, the future looks limitless.  They see they can be doctors or computer engineers or painters or world travelers.  Books and other artistic mediums help expand their worlds and show them infinite possibilities.

 

For kids from marginalized groups, their worlds begin much smaller.  When I came out, I knew exactly two gay people.  One was the best friend of my mother who had died of AIDS.  The other was my brother and, at the time, he wasn’t a particularly great example of what growing up gay could look like.  Matthew Shepard had been brutally tortured and murdered; Bill Clinton had signed the Defense Against Marriage Act, declaring I did not have the right to marry a member of the same sex; the U.S. military was actively discharging homosexual soldiers despite the heinous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule.  The real world was sending me a message, and I heard it loud and clear.  My world was small.  It was claustrophobic. So I retreated to books and movies and television and found more of the same.  Stories of shame.  Stories of death and depression.  If the gay character wasn’t killed as an object lesson, they were the butt of every joke.  I’d looked to books to escape from the real world, but there was no escape.

 

I did not fit the stereotype of gay men that so many writers at the time leaned heavily on.  Instead of finding positive stories that showed me a future where I could be myself and be happy, I found the opposite.  I found a handful of possible futures, and they were all grim.  So I tried to kill myself and nearly succeeded.  I didn’t attempt suicide because my parents rejected me or because I couldn’t accept that I was gay.  I attempted suicide because there was so much bad representation of gay life out there that I was no longer able to see the possibility of ever living a happy life.

 

Don’t tell me it’s only fiction.  Don’t tell me bad representation can’t harm anyone.  It can. It does.  It nearly killed me.

 

we are the antsI’ve gotten comments from readers that the acceptance the queer characters in my books receive from everyone around them is unrealistic.  They might be right.  I don’t think they are, but they could be.  And I don’t care.  I don’t write for those people.  I write books so that queer teens can see themselves, so that they can see a possible future for themselves.  Marginalized teens deserve the same opportunity to see themselves represented accurately and positively in the books they read as everyone else.  I’ve heard the argument that queer teens only make up a small percentage of the population, so it shouldn’t be important.  Well, screw that.  None of us should be willing to write off marginalized groups, no matter how many or few of us there are.  If you’re a writer and you think it’s not important enough to get it right, you shouldn’t be writing it.  Actual lives of actual people depend on getting it right.  If you think otherwise then you haven’t been paying attention.

 

We should all be speaking out about books with harmful representation.  Writers need to know that doing the bare minimum isn’t enough.  They need to get it right or write something else.  Publishers need to know that there are real consequences to publishing books with harmful representation and they need to promote diversity at every level of their operations to ensure harmful books aren’t being published, while at the same time promoting own voices books that are getting it right.  Publishers need to do more than simply pay lip service to the notion of diversity.  Teachers and librarians need to speak up about books that are harmful to the teens they serve, and actively seek out books that get it right so that they can put the right books into the hands of the teens who need them.

 

This isn’t a game.  This isn’t just fiction.  These are real lives, and if we’re not working to make those lives better, what the hell are we doing?

 

Meet Shaun David Hutchinson

shaunShaun David Hutchinson is the author of numerous books for young adults, including The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, which won the Florida Book Awards’ Gold Medal in the Young Adult category and was named to the ALA’s 2015 Rainbow Book List; the anthology Violent Ends, which received a starred review from VOYA; and We Are the Ants, which received five starred reviews and was named a best book of January 2016 by Amazon.com, Kobo.com, Publishers Weekly, and iBooks, and At the Edge of the Universe. He lives in South Florida with his adorably chubby dog, and enjoys Doctor Who, comic books, and yelling at the TV. Visit him at ShaunDavidHutchinson.com.

Things I Never Learned in Library School: The Best Made Plans . . . Still Sometimes Fail

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On paper, it’s the perfect program.

Con Con Flyer

An afternoon spent making as we help teens learn various tasks they may need to participate in cosplay? Sounds like a great idea. It was an idea sparked by a comment made by a presenter at ALA in 2016. And we ran with it because 1) we have an awesome Teen MakerSpace and 2) we have on staff a pretty spectacular cosplayer. We called in the Con Con, the convention to help teens learn about and get ready for conventions. Con Con wasn’t just a fun program idea, it’s fun to say.

So we started to plan. We experimented with ideas, spacing, layouts, staffing and budgets. The ideas were not a problem, but space, staffing and budgets really were. I developed a program planning worksheet to help us plan this program. A lot of time, thought and energy went in to investigating how we might be able to make our program idea a reality. As you can see, we even made flyers promoting our event, although they never were made public because we didn’t promote the event. We postponed it – not once, but twice. Then we cancelled it. Now we’re working on modifying it in ways that work realistically for our library.

Obstacle #1: Staffing

Our Teen MakerSpace is staffed by 2 part-time people, both of whom are both excellent with teens and enthusiastic about our cosplay con idea. But pulling them out of the Teen MakerSpace to do a program of this magnitude would leave the space unstaffed on another day and time, and this would be a problem for both our regular teen users and the circulation staff. The circulation staff is right across from our Teen MakerSpace and when the TMS is left unstaffed, which it sometimes is when an emergency or illness comes up, there is an increased burden on circulation staff who are left answering teen complaints about the TMS and dealing with the behavior issues of bored teens who came to the library to use the TMS only to find that it isn’t available on this day.

In addition, doing a program of this magnitude would require more than the 3 staff we have available to us. We were looking at sessions and stations and more. It’s a pretty big program idea to pull off with a small amount of staff.

Obstacle #2: Money

But staffing wasn’t our only issue, space and money were issues as well. Having a program of this magnitude would have ended up using a large portion of our yearly budget in one pop. This meant that we may have been forced to forgo important TMS supplies later in the year. And as I have mentioned before, our TMS is popular and well trafficked, I would hate to find ourselves without the supplies we needed later in the year because we spent all of our financial resources on one big program.

Obstacle #3: Space

And then there is the issue of space. If you have attended any conference or convention of any kind, you know that space is a huge issue. If we wanted to have multiple sessions for people to choose from, we needed multiple locations. We are a small library with one decent size meeting room. The demand for this space, both internally and from the public, is high, so finding a day and time that is available is already a challenge – that’s how we landed on a Sunday. We could have, in theory, also used our small genealogy room to host a class, but we know that we have many out of town visitors who come to use these resources, so if they happened to show up on that day then our plan would be a bust.

We discussed the pros and cons of having the program after hours vs. during normal operating hours so that we could have more space, but then we came back around to staffing. Each concern looped back into another concern. If we had the program after hours, we would need more additional staff but couldn’t afford to pull the additional staff off of the normal operating schedule.

The Value of Questions, Instinct and Experience

We postponed the program twice as we felt uneasy about some of the kinks we kept spotting in our plan. In the end, we decided that the negatives far outweighed the positives for our library at this time and we decided to scrap our plan for a large, one day con. Although it’s a great program, it’s not the right program for a library our size with a staff and budget our size at this time. I think all parts of that sentence are important – it wasn’t the right plan for OUR LIBRARY at THIS TIME.

Failure is Not Always Failure

But it’s not all a failure.

We are now working on adapting the sessions to fit into our TMS program model. You see, we rotate themes and ideas in our Teen MakerSpace. In April, for example, we will be celebrating National Poetry Month by hosting a variety of poetry related activities. We will be hosting Star Wars STEM activities the week of May the 4th. As part of our TSRC, we will be having Mod-A-Tee Mondays (I’ll be sharing more about that with you soon). This allows us to have drop-in programs that teens can come to at their convenience as opposed to ours and keeps our TMS new, fresh, and invigorating. So we’re breaking the Con Con sessions into modules for the month of October. October seems like a good time to learn some cosplay skills. This IS the right plan for OUR LIBRARY at THIS TIME.

We have a program model that is currently working well for us. It works for our library staffing, space, size and budgets. It’s working for our teens. It’s working for our community. It’s working for a small library with one public meeting/library program room with high demand. It just works, so instead of fighting against it we are embracing it. We took a step back, evaluated where we are at right now, and made what we feel is the best decision given all of the data we possess.

This is not the first time I have had a program idea fall through, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But it is a reminder to myself that planning is essential, and that even the best made plans sometimes fall through. I’m glad we listened to our gut about our concerns and pulled the plug and re-evaluated before we had an epic public failure (though yes, I’ve had those as well). We planned and we couldn’t make our original plan work, but that’s okay because we’re working on making a plan that works better for us. That means we’re good at our jobs.

Getting Ready for May the Fourth: Some Star Wars STEAM Ideas

Our weekly STEM program for 3 to 18 year old patrons took a turn for the galactic yesterday as we focused on Star Wars. None of the ideas I’m about to link to are my own, but I will tell you how well they worked for us and give you some tips for success.

81r2wmJ1JxL_SL1500_Our first activity was releasing Lego Star Wars figures from ‘carbonite.’ You can find the original post here. We used a combination of baking soda and water to freeze the minifigs into ice cubes. First hot tip – they don’t fit in standard ice cube trays. Luckily, I actually had some Star Wars themed jello molds (don’t ask) and they fit in those. We used vinegar to dissolve the ‘carbonite,’ but unlike the original post, I had the kids use pipettes to wash the baking soda away gradually. It really depends on your level of patience, but I think they had fun. Your mileage may vary.

Next we moved on to this activity – creating light saber cards. This was probably my favorite activity and the one I would consider the most teachable moment. If you scroll down in the post, you can find links to all the necessary materials, which were surprisingly affordable. There are also free printables to make the cards themselves. The blogger created one version for ‘May the Fourth’ and one for ‘May the Force,’ so you can use it year round.

We made balloon hovercrafts as detailed here. I’m sure you have some old CDs or DVDs and balloons around, and who doesn’t have a hot glue gun? Unfortunately, the other necessary piece (a pop up bottle lid) is much more difficult to find these days. Almost all of the items that used to have them, such as dish soap and sports water bottles, have switched to the new flip top model. I found them from some online vendors, but you either had to purchase thousands of them or pay exorbitant shipping fees. My best advice is to make friends with people who polish their hardwood floors – all of those containers still use the pop up lids, as does dish soap from the Mrs. Meyer’s company. It’s not ideal, but it is doable if you plan ahead (or have lots of friends with hardwood floors.)

We made these light saber sensory bottles, as well. The post recommends using VOS water bottles, which are quite expensive. We used the large Smart Water bottles because it is what I like to drink. I would recommend going with a smaller bottle, though.

Finally, we made some origami Millennium Falcons. There are many different versions of the instructions online, but the one I found easiest to follow is here.

Happy Star Wars day preparations to all!

Middle School Monday: I Wish Donald Trump Knew That… by J.

MSM1Creative writing…am I right? So many benefits for our students. Writing for expression. Empowerment. Literacy gains. Ownership. Imagination. Empathy.

I don’t do enough of it with our students. I’m working to change that. One of my goals is to make creative writing a cornerstone of my library practice.

A group of students recently participated in the creative writing exercise–“I wish everyone knew that…” This exercise is not new, of course—it’s not a revolutionary concept, but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. I love this activity. I added another writing prompt in case any student wanted to extend the idea:

I wish __________ (a specific person or group of people) knew that…

I thought that some students might choose that option and write about family, teachers, girls, etc. How small and limiting my thinking was! As always, our students are big thinkers who care about national and global issues.

I’m reprinting the work of one of our writers—J—with his permission and my thanks. No commentary from me is necessary, other than to say, our students deserve the world—and our time and respect as they work to one day change it.

I wish Donald Trump knew that not all Mexicans and foreigners come to the United States of America to sell drugs or rape or commit other crimes. Immigrants like me come to America or came to America to live a better life. To escape from their horrible jobs and get ones to provide for themselves and family. WE come to get better jobs. WE COME FOR OPPORTUNITIES!    J

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib—and my students are amazing. I look forward to seeing them every Monday!

Recently in Book Mail

Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething.

 

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

 

leaving kentLeaving Kent State by Sabrina Fedel (ISBN-13: 9781941861240 Publisher: Harvard Square Editions Publication date: 11/11/2016)

On May 4, 1970, the campus of Kent State University became the final turning point in Americans’ tolerance for the Vietnam War, as National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed student protestors, killing four and wounding nine. It was one of the first true school shootings in our nation’s history. A new young adult novel, Leaving Kent State (Harvard Square Editions), by debut author Sabrina Fedel, brings to life America’s political and social turmoil as it ushered in the new decade of the 1970s. Throughout the harsh winter of 1969-1970, Kent, Ohio, became a microcosm of the growing unrest that threatened the very nature of democracy.

Told from the viewpoint of seventeen-year-old Rachel Morelli, Leaving Kent State explores themes of the day that are strikingly similar to our own: terrorism, war, racial injustice, and gender inequality. As Rachel struggles to convince her dad that she should go to Pratt University in New York to pursue her dream of becoming an artist, Kent slips ever further off of its axis, in step with the growing discord across the nation. Caught between her love for her next door neighbor, Evan, a boy who has just returned from Vietnam, and her desire to escape Kent, Rachel must navigate a changing world to pursue her dreams.

“While our nation has largely forgotten what happened on May 4, 1970,” says the author, “it was a defining moment for the way in which Americans consider involvement in war. While popular sentiment initially blamed the students for the massacre, it became clear in the years immediately following that something had gone terribly wrong in our democracy for American troops to have opened fire on unarmed college students. In our own protest laden present, the shootings at Kent State remain a valuable lesson in the escalation of force during peaceful citizen protests.”

 

 

hope more powerfulA Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming (ISBN-13: 9781250105998 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 01/24/2017)

The stunning story of a young woman, an international crisis, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Adrift in a frigid sea, no land in sight—just debris from the ship’s wreckage and floating corpses all around—nineteen-year-old Doaa Al Zamel floats with a small inflatable water ring around her waist and clutches two children, barely toddlers, to her body. The children had been thrust into Doaa’s arms by their drowning relatives, all refugees who boarded a dangerously overcrowded ship bound for Sweden and a new life. For days, Doaa floats, prays, and sings to the babies in her arms. She must stay alive for these children. She must not lose hope.

Doaa Al Zamel was once an average Syrian girl growing up in a crowded house in a bustling city near the Jordanian border. But in 2011, her life was upended. Inspired by the events of the Arab Spring, Syrians began to stand up against their own oppressive regime. When the army was sent to take control of Doaa’s hometown, strict curfews, power outages, water shortages, air raids, and violence disrupted everyday life. After Doaa’s father’s barbershop was destroyed and rumors of women being abducted spread through the community, her family decided to leave Syria for Egypt, where they hoped to stay in peace until they could return home. Only months after their arrival, the Egyptian government was overthrown and the environment turned hostile for refugees.

In the midst of this chaos, Doaa falls in love with a young opposition fighter who proposes marriage and convinces her to flee to the promise of safety and a better future in Europe. Terrified and unable to swim, Doaa and her young fiance hand their life savings to smugglers and board a dilapidated fishing vessel with five hundred other refugees, including a hundred children. After four horrifying days at sea, another ship, filled with angry men shouting insults, rams into Doaa’s boat, sinking it and leaving the passengers to drown.

That is where Doaa’s struggle for survival really begins.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea is an emotionally charged, eye-opening true story that represents the millions of unheard voices of refugees who risk everything in a desperate search for the promise of a safe future. Melissa Fleming sheds light on the most pressing humanitarian crisis of our time and paints a vivid, unforgettable portrait of the triumph of the human spirit.

 

 

ten milesTen Miles One Way by Patrick Downes (ISBN-13: 9780399544996 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/21/2017)

The powerful story of a mind at the edge of unraveling, held together by love and acceptance.

Nest and Q walk through the city. Nest speaks and Q listens. Mile by mile, Nest tells Q about her life, her family, her past . . . and her Chimaera, the beast that preys on her mind and causes her to lose herself. Q knows only that his love for Nest runs deeper than the demon that plagues her thoughts, that he loves her in spite of—or perhaps because of—the personal battle she fights every day.

A beautifully-written, haunting story.

 

 

 

DEACONDeacon Locke Went to Prom by Brian Katcher (ISBN-13: 9780062422521 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/09/2017)

The love life of an awkward teen takes an unforgettable turn after he brings his grandmother to prom in this funny, offbeat, and smile-inducing contemporary romance that is pitch perfect for fans of Jesse Andrews and Robyn Schneider.

Promposals are taking over Deacon Locke’s high school and there is no place left to hide. But even with graduation looming, shy and unusually tall Deacon doesn’t think he can get up the nerve to ask anyone to the dance. Especially given all the theatrics.

It isn’t until Deacon confides in his witty and outgoing best friend Jean that he realizes should could be a great person to take. Only problem is Jean isn’t your typical prom date. She’s older. A lot older. And she’s Deacon’s grandmother.

But when Deacon meets Soraya—a girl unlike any other he’s ever met—he fears he has totally squandered his chances of having a prom he’ll never forget. Deacon couldn’t be more wrong. About everything.

 

 

ramona blueRamona Blue by Julie Murphy (ISBN-13: 9780062418357 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/09/2017)

From Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, comes another fearless heroine, Ramona Blue, in a gorgeously evocative novel about family, friendship, and how sometimes love can be more fluid than you first think. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

 

 

it's not likeIt’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura (ISBN-13: 9780062473417 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/09/2017)

This charming and bittersweet coming-of-age story featuring two girls of color falling in love is part To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and part Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like the fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California, she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy…what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

 

 

my fairyMy Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson (ISBN-13: 9781510714113 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 05/16/2017)

Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.

With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen is a Cinderella retelling for the modern reader. The novel expertly balances issues like sexuality, family and financial troubles, and self-discovery with more lighthearted moments like how one rogue shoe can launch a secret, whirlwind romance and a chance meeting with a drag queen can spark magic and light in a once dark reality.

 

 

queer thereQueer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager, Zoe More O’Ferrall (illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780062474315 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/23/2017)

This first-ever LGBTQ history book for young adults will appeal to fans of fun, empowering pop-culture books like Rad American Women A-Z and Notorious RBG.

World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them. Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 23 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.

By turns hilarious and inspiring, the beautifully illustrated Queer, There, and Everywhere is for anyone who wants the real story of the queer rights movement.

 

 

songs about a girlSongs About a Girl by Chris Russell (ISBN-13: 9781250095169 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 05/30/2017)

Pure wish fulfillment for anyone who hasn’t gotten over the One Direction breakup

Charlie Bloom is happiest behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. When former classmate Olly Samson gets in touch out of the blue, asking her to take backstage pictures of his new band, she takes him up on it. Charlie dreams of becoming a photographer, and it’ll be good experience.

But Olly’s band, Fire&Lights, isn’t playing ordinary gigs. They’re stars on the rise, the hottest boy band in the country—and Charlie is immediately catapulted into the band’s surreal world of paparazzi, sold-out arenas, and screaming fans. Soon enough, she becomes caught between Olly and Fire&Lights’ gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West. As the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles on a secret about the band—and herself—hidden within the lyrics of their new #1 single.

Music. Fame. Heartbreak: Chris Russell’s Songs about a Girl is the perfect next read for anyone who has ever wanted to say, “I’m with the band.”

 

 

washed ashoreWashed Ashore by Kerr Thomson (ISBN-13: 9780545904209 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/30/2017)

On a wild Scottish island, a tragedy washes up on the storm-beaten shore: the bodies of a whale and a man. Fraser, desperate for adventure, and Hayley, visiting from Texas, become tangled in the mystery.

But Fraser’s younger brother Dunny is distraught by the discovery. He hasn’t spoken in years, and lately he’s been acting more strangely than ever.

Together, the three meet a man living in the abandoned caves nearby. They start to wonder if he might lie at the center of something darker than they had previously thought. For the whispering sea conceals a terrible secret, and to discover the truth, one of them must learn to listen…

 

 

breakingBreaking by Danielle Rollins (ISBN-13: 9781619637405 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/06/2017)

Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Weston Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school–or her demanding mother, Dr. Gruen–her two best friends became the family she never had.

When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Weston Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There’s a reason the students of Weston are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth . . .

With suspense and danger at every turn, Danielle Rollins keeps readers on the edge of their seats with this haunting thriller.

 

 

song of theSong of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (ISBN-13: 9781681192970 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/06/2017)

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. Her father is a wherryman, as was her grandmother. All Caro needs is for the river god to whisper her name, and her fate is sealed. But at seventeen, Caro may be too late.

So when pirates burn ships and her father is arrested, Caro volunteers to transport mysterious cargo in exchange for his release. Secretly, Caro hopes that by piloting her own wherry, the river god will finally speak her name.

But when the cargo becomes more than Caro expected, she finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies. With much more than her father’s life at stake, Caro must choose between the future she knows, and the one she could have never imagined.

 

 

the possibleThe Possible by Tara Altebrando (ISBN-13: 9781619638051 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/06/2017)

Another twisty psychological suspense from the author of The Leaving, where a teen searches for answers about her mother’s dark history, telekinesis, and the power of will.

What if . . . no one knows the truth about you? It’s been thirteen years since Kaylee’s biological mother, Crystal, once infamous for her supposed telekinetic ability, got a life sentence for killing Kaylee’s little brother in a fit of telekinetic rage. Today, Kaylee’s living a normal life with her adoptive parents and almost never thinks of Crystal. Until a woman shows up on Kaylee’s doorstep, asking to interview her for a podcast about her mother. Was the whole telekinesis thing a hoax, or does Crystal have some kind of special powers? Is it possible that Kaylee has them, too? It would certainly explain some of the stranger things that have happened to her over the years.

What if . . . she did the interview? Met her mother for the first time since the trial? Can her mother prove she can make things happen with her mind? Can Kaylee do the same? And what if she has been doing it, all along? As the podcast begins airing, everyone in Kaylee’s life–everyone in the country–is hearing this dark history and asking questions that even Kaylee has never dared ask herself.

The Possible is a twisty, surprising story, and an exploration of the power of our own minds, the power of will, and how our histories define us . . . or not.

 

 

Ali - Saints and MisfitsSaints and Misfits by S. K. Ali (ISBN-13: 9781481499248 Publisher:Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication date: 06/13/2017)

Saints, Misfits, Monsters, and Mayhem is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

 

 

we come apartWe Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan (ISBN-13: 9781681192758 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/13/2017)

Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.

Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship slowly blossoms into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and their hope and dreams of a better future. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

This illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve finished.

 

 

little wrecksLittle Wrecks by Meredith Miller (ISBN-13: 9780062474254 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/27/2017)

In this haunting and explosive debut, Meredith Miller explores the truth behind three girls on the cusp of adulthood, and all the shocking realizations that come under the guise of growing up. Perfect for fans of I’ll Give You the Sun and Girl in Pieces.

Ruth, Magda, and Isabel are different from everyone else. They can see beneath the seemingly perfect, cookie-cutter exterior of their small town of Highbone, Long Island. They know that below the surface, each house is filled with secrets, indifference, and violence.

These girls refuse to become willing participants of these fake lives. Instead, they are determined to fight every condescending comment, every unwelcome touch, and every lie they’ve been told.

When the opportunity to commit the perfect crime appears, the girls finally start to see their way out of Highbone. But for the first time, Ruth, Magda, and Isabel are keeping secrets from each other. As they drift apart, the weight of reality starts to set in. These girls can’t save each other. They might not even be able to save themselves.

 

 

this is howThis Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes (ISBN-13: 9780062379931 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/11/2017)

The author of Girl Against the Universe and Liars, Inc. plunges readers into a world where the internet is always watching—and judging—in this compelling story about mistakes, repercussions, and online vigilante justice. Perfect for fans of Sarah Darer Littman’s Backlash or Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything.

After waking up from a coma, Genevieve Grace can’t remember the car crash that killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTuber turned teen music idol. Genevieve knows she was driving, but because of what’s been reported in the media, everyone assumes the other driver, Brad Freeman, is guilty. As she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—what if she’s the one at fault?

While the internet and social media viciously condemn Brad, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house near Zion National Park to hide from curious classmates and intrusive reporters. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident. And eventually, she will have to come to grips with what happened…and her role in it.

 

whos that girlWho’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh (ISBN-13: 9780062447777 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/11/2017)

This laugh-out-loud debut is filled with hilarious awkward encounters, a supportive LGBTQ organization, and too many cheesy lyrics to count—all with the compulsive readability of Audrey, Wait! and Boy Meets Boy.

Junior Nattie McCullough has always been that under-the-radar straight girl who hangs out in the cafeteria with her gay-straight alliance friends. She’s never been the girl that gets the guy, let alone the girl that gets a hit song named after her. But when last summer’s crush, smoking-hot musician Sebastian Delacroix—who has recently hit the mainstream big-time—returns home to play a local show, that’s just what she gets. He and his band, the Young Lungs, have written a chart-topping single—“Natalie”—which instantly makes Nattie second guess everything she thought about their awkward non-kiss at that June pool party. That it was horrific. That it meant nothing. That Sebastian never gave her another thought.

To help keep her mind off of Sebastian and his maybe-about-her, maybe-not-about-her song, Nattie throws herself into planning the school’s LGBTQIA dance. That proves problematic, too, when Nattie begins to develop feelings for her good friend Zach. With the song getting major airplay and her once-normal life starting to resemble the cover of a gossip magazine, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her brief moment with Sebastian was the stuff love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

 

 

what goes upWhat Goes Up by Katie Kennedy (ISBN-13: 9781619639126 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 07/18/2017)

Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Interworlds Agency. They’re not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents’ legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to go–he’s certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing.

And then something happens that even NASA’s scientists couldn’t predict . . .

From the author of the acclaimed Learning to Swear in America comes another high-stakes adventure that’s absolutely out of this world.

 

 

1616 Ways to Break a Heart by Lauren Strasnick (ISBN-13: 9780062418722 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/25/2017)

Natalie and Dan were electric from the moment they met. Witty banter and sizzling chemistry made falling in love easy—even inevitable. He was in awe of her subversive art and contagious zest for life; she was drawn to his good-guy charm and drive to succeed as a documentary filmmaker.

But that was before. Before hot tempers turned to blowout fights. Before a few little lies turned to broken trust. Before a hundred tiny slights broke them open and exposed the ugly truth of their relationship.

And now Natalie wants Dan to know just how much he broke her.

Over the course of one fateful day, Dan reads sixteen letters that Natalie has secretly, brilliantly hidden in places only he will find. And as he pieces together her version of their love story, he realizes that she has one final message for him. One that might just send his carefully constructed life tumbling down.

Unfolding through letters, texts, and chats, Lauren Strasnick’s smart, sexy, page-turning new novel is the ultimate he said/she said breakdown of a relationship gone wrong.

 

 

galleryThe Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz (ISBN-13: 9780062467775 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/25/2017)

A beautiful and evocative look at identity and creativity, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls is a stunning debut in magical realism. Perfect for fans of The Walls Around Us and Bone Gap.

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is in a coma. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she hasn’t ever before. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

 

 

everything all at onceEverything All at Once by Katrina Leno (ISBN-13: 9780062493095 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/25/2017)

A soaring novel by the critically acclaimed author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce and The Lost & Found, perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven and Rainbow Rowell.

Lottie Reaves is not a risk taker. But she’s about to take a leap into the unknown…

When Lottie’s beloved Aunt Helen dies of cancer, it upends her careful, quiet life.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the world-famous author of the bestselling Alvin Hatter series. She knew a thing or two about the magic of writing, and how words have the power to make you see things differently.

In her will, Aunt Helen leaves Lottie a series of letters—each containing mysterious instructions. As Lottie sets about following them, she realizes they’re meant to make her take a risk, and, for once in her life, really live. But when the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about her aunt’s past—and the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series—Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fears once and for all.

Part mysterious adventure, part love letter to the power of books, this is a brilliantly woven novel about loving, reading, writing, grieving, and finding the strength to take a leap.

 

 

inevitableThe Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger (ISBN-13: 9781250116222 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 07/25/2017)

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together, to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad. And to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy links Birdie and Bash together – yet neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall – hard – the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

 

 

 

authenticsThe Authentics by Abdi Nazemian (ISBN-13: 9780062486462 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/08/2017)

The Authentics is a fresh, funny, and insightful novel about culture, love, and family—the kind we are born into and the ones we create.

Daria Esfandyar is Iranian-American and proud of her heritage, unlike some of the “Nose Jobs” in the clique led by her former best friend, Heidi Javadi. Daria and her friends call themselves the Authentics, because they pride themselves on always keeping it real.

But in the course of researching a school project, Daria learns something shocking about her past, which launches her on a journey of self-discovery. It seems everyone is keeping secrets. And it’s getting harder to know who she even is any longer.

With infighting among the Authentics, her mother planning an over-the-top sweet sixteen party, and a romance that should be totally off limits, Daria doesn’t have time for this identity crisis. As everything in her life is spinning out of control—can she figure out how to stay true to herself?

 

 

bad girl goneBad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews (ISBN-13: 9781250058812 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 08/08/2017)

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

 

 

art of feelingThe Art of Feeling by Laura Tims (ISBN-13: 9780062317353 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/15/2017)

Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven’s New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places, this contemporary YA novel explores the friendship between a girl in constant pain and a boy who feels nothing at all.

Since the car accident, Samantha Herring has been in pain, not only from her leg injury, but also from her mother’s death, which has devastated her family. After pushing away her friends, Sam has receded into a fog of depression.

But then Sam meets Eliot, a reckless loner with an attitude and an amazing secret—he can’t feel any pain. At first, Sam is jealous. But then she learns more about his medical condition…and his self-destructive tendencies. In fact, Eliot doesn’t seem to care about anything at all—except maybe Sam. As they grow closer, they begin to confront Sam’s painful memories of the accident—memories that may hold a startling truth about what really happened that day.

 

 

you don't knowYou Don’t Know Me but I Know You by Rebecca Barrow (ISBN-13: 9780062494191 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/29/2017)

There’s a box in the back of Audrey’s closet that she rarely thinks about.

Inside is a letter, seventeen years old, from a mother she’s never met, handed to her by the woman she’s called Mom her whole life.

Being adopted, though, is just one piece in the puzzle of Audrey’s life—the picture painstakingly put together by Audrey herself, consisting not only of the greatest family ever but of a snarky, loyal, sometimes infuriating best friend, Rose; a sweet, smart musician boyfriend, Julian; and a beloved camera that turns the most fleeting moments of her day-to-day routine into precious, permanent memories.

But when Audrey realizes that she’s pregnant, she feels something—a tightly sealed box in the closet corners of her heart—crack open, spilling her dormant fears and unanswered questions all over the life she loves.

Almost two decades ago, a girl in Audrey’s situation made a choice, one that started Audrey’s entire story. Now Audrey is paralyzed by her own what-ifs and terrified by the distance she feels growing between her and Rose. Down every possible path is a different unfamiliar version of her life, and as she weighs the options in her mind, she starts to wonder—what does it even mean to be Audrey Spencer?

Rebecca Barrow’s bright, honest debut novel about chance, choice, and unconditional love is a heartfelt testament to creating the future you truly want, one puzzle piece at a time.

 

sliderSlider by Pete Hautman (ISBN-13: 9780763690700 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 09/12/2017)

David can eat an entire sixteen-inch pepperoni pizza in four minutes and thirty-six seconds. Not bad. But he knows he can do better. In fact, he’ll have to do better. He’s going to compete in the Super Pigorino Bowl, and he has to win it, because he borrowed his mom’s credit card and accidentally spent two thousand dollars on it. So he really needs that prize money. Like, yesterday.

As if training to be a competitive eater wasn’t enough, he’s also got to keep an eye on his little brother, Mal (who, if the family believed in labels, would be labeled autistic, but they don’t, so they just label him “Mal”). And don’t even get started on the new weirdness going on between his two best friends, Cyn and HeyMan.

Master talent Pete Hautman has whipped up a rich narrative shot through with equal parts humor and tenderness, and the result is a middle-grade novel too delicious to put down.

 

 

 

victoriaThe Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes (ISBN-13: 9781481480895 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 09/19/2017)

A shy, rule-following teen winds up joining a local rock band in this laugh-out-loud, heartfelt coming-of-age novel.

Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.

But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.

From debut author Janelle Milanes comes a hilarious and heartfelt tale of the spectacular things that can happen when you go after what you really want.

 

 

starfishStarfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (ISBN-13: 9781481487726 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 09/26/2017)

A gorgeous and emotionally true debut novel about a half-Japanese teen who grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school.

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.