Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cybils 2012

I am very excited, and honored, to be a first round panelist for the YA Sci Fi/Fantasy category for this year's Cybil awards.  The Cybils are the children and young adult literary blogger awards.  But don't fear, you can participate . . .

Public nominations are open from October 1st through October 15th, so please be sure to stop by the Cybils 2012 website and nominate your favorite - and most deserving - titles in the categories listed.  They have a complete FAQ to answer all your questions.

One day is not enough: Suicide Prevention Day (by Heahter B.)

World Suicide Prevention Day was September 10th, twenty days ago. I didn’t know it at the time. I found a postcard on my desk, buried in catalogs and other mail, reminding me of this fact just this morning. I have a love/hate relationship with these types of days. Part of me feels like it does a disservice to relegate awareness of these problems to just one day; it should always be on our minds. At the same time, I realize that awareness of so many worthwhile causes would fall by the wayside unless a big to-do is made about them one day a year; one week a year; one month a year. And even this one day passed me by without my noticing.

As people who can lead teens to useful information, maybe suicide and self-harm is more present in teen librarians’ awareness than others. We are sure to have up to date books on our shelves. We put out any bookmarks or posters with help lines that come our way. We smile at teens. We welcome them to our space. We help them feel important. We try. Sometimes it must work, right? But sometimes it doesn’t and though the failing isn’t ours alone, or at all, if a teen in our community commits suicide there isn’t one of us who hasn’t wished we could’ve done something to help.

Redifing the "3 Rs" for Banned Books Week

Karen Jensen, the teen librarian is:
A) A person of deep personal faith beliefs
B) A strong advocate for teens
C) A voracious reader
D) A defender of libraries
E) An outspoken defender of free speech and celebrant of Banned Books Week
F) All of the above

It was while majoring in Youth Ministry (Christian Education) at Mount Vernon Nazarene College (now Mount Vernon Nazarene University) that I became a loud mouth against censorship.  Yep, there I was at a conservative Christian college putting up an awesome display for Banned Books Week on the outside of my dorm room door (it truly was epic).  While I sat in chapel and learned how the Bible says we should be "in the world but not of it", I also came to understand that in order for me - or anyone - to truly be a person of faith, we had to be able to have access to the information we needed to make that decision for ourselves.  Information (and the free access to it) is the cornerstone of personal, authentic decision making.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Who watches the Watchers? (a guest post by Ashes author Ilsa J. Bick)

For the last two Saturdays, as part of The Sunnydale Project, I have shared with you some of my favorite Buffy read alikes.  Today, I share with you a guest blog post by an author of another amazing Buffy read alike, Ilsa J. Bick, author of both Ashes and ShadowsOne of the key characteristics of our girl Buffy is that she is a strong, independent, kick ass heroine.  And so is Alex, the main character in the Ashes trilogy.  Ashes is the story of "the changed" (the changed become zombie like in that they now eat human flesh, yummy) and Alex's quest to survive in a new world.  The moment that the change occurs and Alex is spared marks a turning point for our heroine in much the same way that Buffy's life is forever changed when she becomes The Chosen One, the slayer.  Like Buffy, Alex is reborn and must fight to hold back the darkness, both in the world and within herself.  You can read my review of Ashes (book 1) here and of Shadows (book 2) here.  Today, we'll let author Ilsa J. Bick tell you why librarians, though probably not technically Watchers, rock!
The Changed will grow in numbers.  The Spared may not survive.
The Ashes trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick, published by EgmontUSA

True story: I’m on tour for ASHES, and I go to this school library in Michigan to talk to about two hundred kids.  They’re nice.  Most kids are.  So we’re talking, and they’re into it and so am I—when, all of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I see this big, hulking, football kid, call him Brandon, unfold from the depths of the couch where he’s been hiding.  (Really.  The kid was tucked up, head down, arms crossed, legs going in that please-God-get-me-out-of-here jiggle we all know because we’ve all done it.)  Now, Brandon is really huge, neck like a tree trunk, muscles large as cantaloupes, buzz cut.  The kind of boy a football coach would throw his grandmother under the bus to put on the team, know what I saying?  I’m not indulging in stereotypes, really, but given Brandon’s behavior, I know he’d rather have his tonsils taken out with a fork.  Except something snagged him, lured him out of hiding.

Friday, September 28, 2012

But What About...? - A Guest Post from Lois Lowry

Looking Back: a book of memories
Lois Lowry, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
1998 ISBN: 978-0395895436
 Oh dear, it is happening already. And the book isn’t even officially published yet.

Two people who have read SON in an advance copy have contacted me to ask, “But what about Einar? Will he ever get together with Claire? You have to write another book!”

Take a step back in time with guest blogger Jennifer McGowan (Historical ya fiction spotlight)

Earlier this week I confessed that Historical Fiction is my Achilles heel (I even managed to turn a post about historical fiction into a post about epidemics - I am that awesome) when it comes to collection development - so I enlisted help! Today I bring you a guest blog post by someone who writes historical ya fiction, Jennifer McGowan.  Her ya historical, Maid of Secrets, comes out in the spring.

Why in the World write YA Historicals?

With the recent boom in Young Adult fiction series such as Twilight, The Hunger Games, The Mortal Instruments and, of course, Harry Potter, the obvious sub-genre for an author interested in writing Young Adult novels would seem to range from contemporary paranormal to futuristic dystopian.  With novels like these, readers can explore larger-than-life magic or mythical beings or evil governments sprawling out of control… and escape into a world that just isn’t quite real. Seems like a terrific formula of success, doesn’t it?
So of course, I didn’t follow it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End

photo courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

There will be two parts to this post.  The first, in which I discuss the amazing book Son by Lois Lowry, the final book in The Giver quartet.  And the second, in which I discuss why this book was so near and dear to my heart and I get super personal.  Go refill your tea/coffee/other beverage and join us.

Son will be released by October 2, 2012, and for many Lowry fans, this has been a long awaited book.  This is the story of Claire, who lived in the same community as Jonas during the events of The Giver.  Claire is a few years older than Jonas and was given the assignment of birthmother.  During her delivery, something goes wrong and she has a c-section and because of the complications, she is released from her assignment and sent to work at the fish hatchery.  But Claire's son?  Oh Lois Lowry, you really did it this time.  Claire's son is Gabriel.  And Claire wants him back.

For those of you who felt a little disconnected to Gathering Blue and Messenger, this book solves all of these issues and it is in this book where all the pieces of the puzzle between the three novels begin to fit together. Claire makes the decision to find Gabriel and tracks him down in the nurturing center, lying about just wanting to volunteer, just to spend a few precious moments with him.  When Jonas leaves with Gabriel in The Giver, Claire leaves the community too, stowing away on a supply ship.  Next, she wakes up after being rescued from the water near death and finds herself in a community so unlike her own that she is almost like a newborn child, learning things all over again.  Her memories have also faded and she is not sure where she came from or why she left.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Epidemics, take II

We were talking about Epidemics on the Yalsa-bk listserv and some people reminded me of some great titles that I didn't mention on Tuesday:

The Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
The Stand by Stephen King
The Kill Order by James Dashner
Pandemia by Jonathon Rand
Earth Abides by George Stewart
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry
The Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
The Cobra Event by Richard Preston

Also, in her book Reality Rules, Besty Fraser has a chapter on "Natural Disasters and Disease Epidemics" that includes titles like Jim Murphy's An American Plague and Susan Bartoletti's Black Potatoes.  And don't forget the nonfiction title Invisible Microbe by Jim Murphy.

And so I spent this morning avoiding everything I am supposed to be doing and made an RA poster to do a display.  You can download the poster at

MG Moment (Book Review): Capture the Flag by Kate Messner

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner is a contemporary mystery with a touch of history (in the form of historical facts), just perfect for middle grade students and younger tweens.

Anna, Jose and Henry (7th graders) don't meet each other at a special reception for THE flag that inspired the writing of "Star Spangled Banner".  They do, however, meet each other the next day when they are all snowed in at the airport.  And it turns out they all have something in common, their ancestors all played a part in history and their family is part of a secret society that has pledged to protect important works of art and history.

While stranded at the airport the news breaks in to announce that the flag was stolen from the Smithsonian museum.  What are three resourceful - and bored - kids supposed to do while stranded at the airport?  Why try and find the flag of course.  Could the flag be at the airport? 

Delivering the message with Messenger

photo courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I've never read Messenger until now.  And I literally just closed the book five minutes ago and I am completely in awe of this amazing book. 

For those of you who were left with the ambiguous ending of The Giver and felt as if you had questions to be answered, you must read Gathering Blue and Messenger.  While Gathering Blue does not answer those questions, the characters in the story play a pivotal role in Messenger and I literally did a double take when reading Messenger because for some reason, I never expected my questions to be answered.  But Lois Lowry...answer them you did.

Messenger takes place in a community six years after Gathering Blue left off.  This community is a community which welcomes all and they live in a village of no secrets, peace, and altruism.  Matty, the main character in this book, is a young man who has come to the village and lives now with an older blind gentleman called "The Seer".  Matty helps cook for him and in turn, "The Seer" treats Matty as his own child, a beautiful reciprocal relationship that was very much missed in Gathering Blue.

Danger does exist in this book, as it did the others, by means of the Forest.  The Forest seems to be attacking villagers and entangling them in the vines and branches, almost attacking deliberately.  The Forest had never been a danger in the past but as Matty sees this Forest change, so to do the people of the village.  Some of them becoming mean and bitter and even their appearance changing.  Matty learns of the Trade Mart, where many villagers go to trade for things, such as a coveted gaming machine or for our times, a slot machine.  It seems as if people are trading more than goods though and the ominous Trade Mart is very much a dark and mysterious trade and Matty is desperate to know what is going on.

It is nearly impossible for me to give away spoilers for the previous books by telling more about Messenger.  It pains me to leave this post feeling so unfulfilled but if you are re-reading these books, you will thank me in the end.

But I will say that in Messenger, I felt as if the theme of interdependence was more heavily revealed as the community cannot function with just half of its villagers in support of one thing and because of the discord and the strife, the Forest begins to retaliate and becomes a symbol of the discord in the village.  The worse off the villagers become the more the Forest seems to be gaining on the village and ready to take over.

As always, I'm going to end this post and ask that you go here and enter our contest to win a full set of the books in either audio or hardcover from our amazing sponsors, Books on Tape and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and if you'd like some additional entries, an extra entry to all of you who comment below and let us know how you're liking this series!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

True Confessions of a Reluctant Historical Fiction Reader That is Obsessed with Epidemics: Top 10 Books about Epidemics

"Bring out your dead." - Monty Python and the Holy Grail

When I was in the 8th grade, my history teacher was oh so kind as to send a note home to my parents letting them know I was failing history.  As you can imagine, that did not go over well.  And thus began my hate affair with history.  I have a hard time remembering facts, I am more of a concept girl.  Ask me to write an essay and I can knock your socks off, but ask me to remember a date and we suddenly have an issue.  You know those people that can walk around quoting facts and reciting lines from their favorite movies and TV shows? Yeah, that's not me.  And because I always struggled with history, that might explain why I struggle with historical fiction.  I am not it's number one fan.  But I read it.  Occasionally.  I mean, you know, once in a blue moon.

But, I am a huge fan of epidemics.  I wouldn't want to live in one, but like zombie fiction, they make us question who we are and what we will do to survive.  In fact, of all the historical fiction books that I have ever read, hands down my favorite is Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. Here we have a female character, 14-year-old Mattie Cook, fighting to survive an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia.  Fever is a great read because it gives you those little historical facts, but with plenty of action and adventure and a fairly kick butt heroine, especially for the time period.  Plus, people die from the fever.  Yes, it is sad and no, I have no idea what my fascination with epidemics is (don't judge).  I can tell you that The Mr. is sick of watching the movie Contagion, so the other night I mixed it up a bit and kicked it old school and watched Outbreak (based on the book by Robin Cook of course).
"I'm not dead yet."
"Well, he will be soon, he's very ill."
"I'm getting better."
"No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment." - Monty Python and the Holy Grail

So, now you know, Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson is my favorite Historical Fiction book for teens.  And, here are some other great books that deal with epidemics, only a few of which are historical fiction as many of them are science fiction - it turns out that plagues are a great way to make both vampires and zombies (you know I LOVE the Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry) and bring about the end of the world.  And one of them is even nonfiction.

"He's only mostly dead." - The Princess Bride

The Giver keeps on giving with Gathering Blue

photo courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Now, I had always been a huge fan of The Giver but when I started my first library job in 2004, I was working with a teacher who asked me if we had the 'sequel' to The Giver checked in.  I looked at her like she was crazy and told her that The Giver didn't have a sequel!  She quickly put me in my place and informed me that it not only had a 'sequel' but it was also a 'trilogy' and the third book was expected to be published in the upcoming months.

I was shocked, excited, and very humbled as I went with her to the shelf and pulled out Gathering Blue.  Now, first let me mention that I use the words 'sequel' and 'trilogy' VERY loosely because these books are companion novels to The Giver.  There is no continuation of Jonas and Gabriel's story, for obvious reason if you're read it, but instead, there is what could be considered another world in which the same themes are occurring and it is considered to be written in the same future time period as the world in which The Giver was set.

But astonished as I was, I patiently waited the three weeks for the book to be returned and then read it immediately.  And, at 10:51 AM on September 21, 2012, have just finished reading it for the second time so that I could be refreshed and renewed on this beautiful book.  Gathering Blue is the story of Kira, recently orphaned after her mother's death, who is learning to live in a society in which she had been protected all of her life by her mother because of her disability.  Kira is crippled, her leg described by Lowry as 'twisted', and in this society in which Kira lives, the weak or disabled are sent off into the fields at birth.  Basically, if you can't work and contribute to society, you are no good to them and are sent off to death.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Show Me How to Live: Guest blogger Eric Devine talks YA Lit with the boys in his class

Today, ya author of Tap Out and high school teacher Eric Devine presents a guest post on getting boys to read.  As you know, trying to turn teenage boys into readers can be a challenge.  So Eric sat down with the boys in his class and asked them what they wanted in the books that they read.  Here is that discussion.

Show Me How to Live

As a YA fiction writer, I write books that I hope teenage boys will read. As a high school English teacher, I try to foster readership for all my students. Based on my conversation with a mostly white, middle class group of sophomore boys, and my own inclinations as a writer and educator, I may be striving for the impossible.

The Questions

I asked my aforementioned boys the following:

1.     What do you like about Young Adult literature?

2.     What do you dislike about Young Adult literature?

3.     Do you read YA for pleasure? If so, why? If not, why?

 First off, the boys had a difficult time defining “Young Adult literature”. I narrowed the field to stories about anyone 14 to 17 years old. One of the girls said, “Like Hunger Games? Or Twilight?” I affirmed her response and that got the ball rolling. Sort of.

Celebrating 19 years of The Giver by Lois Lowry

I am absolutely thrilled to share with you a week’s worth of posts about The Giver and the power that this book has had in the nineteen years that it has been available.  For starters, the reason that I decided to celebrate The Giver is because Lois Lowry has a new book releasing on October 2, entitled Son.  Son is the final book in The Giver series and a long awaited companion to this set for those of us who are hardcore Lois Lowry fans.  

But let's shoot back in time to 1993.  I was nine.  The average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.16.  Bill Clinton was President of the United States and the World Trade Center was bombed for the first time.  Windows 3.1 NT was released by Microsoft.  The World Wide Web was born.  And Lois Lowry published The Giver

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Embrace the Slayer: Embrace by Jessica Shirvington (TheSunnydaleProject)

"It's time for you to know who you are . . . " - Jessica Shirvington

Last Saturday I told you about my absolute favorite Buffy readalike, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. Today, I am going to share another readalike with you - the Embrace series by Jessica Shirvington (technically called The Violet Eden series).

Into every generation a chosen One is born and Buffy is our girl. She fights. She slays. She quips. But the deal is, she honors her destiny while staying true to the core of who she is. And girl can seriously kick butt.

Meet Violet Eden. She too has a destiny (please note the angel wings on the cover - it is a big hint). She becomes aware of it when strange voices begin to whisper to her. And then there is the matter of a strange tattoo that is appearing on her arm. Violet doesn't know her destiny when we first meet her, but in some ways she has already been in training for it.

The Violet Eden series begins with book 1, Embrace (read my review here), and continues with book 2, Entice, which just came out this month. They are written by Jessica Shirvington and published by Sourcebooks Fire.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Fill-Ins: Diversity in YA Lit

In today's Friday Reflection, Christie G joins our ongoing discussion on diversity by sharing insights from her Latino teens.  Though Christie and I serve communities that are very diverse, we both still find it hard to find ya literature that represents this diversity in both the characters in the books and on the covers.  For today's Friday Fill-Ins, we're asking you to share titles that you think handle diversity well.  You know the drill, fill in the blanks in the comments.

A title that handles diversity well is ________________________________ by ___________________.

Friday Reflections: Hispanic/Latino YA and A Discussion with My Teens by Christie G

Christie G and I work at two separate branches for the same library system.  Like most library branches, they each have their own unique clientele.  Christie's branch, she calls it a "twig", is a smaller branch that is also part of a recreation center.  It's a pretty cool set up.  And she has a lot of regulars every day after school.  Christie also has a high Latino population that she serves.  So today she is going to share some of her unique reflections as part of our series on Diversity.

Karen J asked me to write a post on my teens and how they like Hispanic /Latino characters in YA fiction.  And I realized that I couldn’t do, although not for lack of trying.

I live in a RED state.  I work in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.   I talk a LOT with my teens.  When we’re slow, I sit down with them in the back and we talk.  They come into my office and talk.  We are definitely talkers.

We embrace our cultures.  We cheer on the Mexican soccer teams with the same ferocity we cheer (or more often curse) the Dallas Cowboys.   It’s not uncommon to have mariachi music and dancers practicing in the community rooms across the hall, or quinceneras renting out the gym for the night.   

Yet my teens laugh when I try to talk to them about books featuring Latino/Hispanic teens. 

“It doesn’t fit us, Miss.”

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: Between You and Me by Marisa Calin

You’re asking me to listen?

I can see your retaliation pressing to escape, and then:

You are so caught up in your own little world that you have no idea what’s going on with the rest of us.  Suddenly you want to talk to me, and I’m supposed to jump at the chance?  Well, sorry, I can’t be ready just because you are.  I have my own things to deal with but what would you know!

Bloomsbury August 2012
ISBN: 9781599907581
"The words ring painfully true; humiliation fills my chest.  The line between this exercise and life is way too blurred.  I stare at you.  Faltering, I find anger much easier to experience, and hear my defensive words cut through the silence.

Well, then I can’t image why you would want to be friends with me in the first place!

My voice cracks, making me sound less resilient than I’d hoped.  I swallow, and look at the floor.

Mia’s voice pulls me from the moment.  Not far enough." - Marisa Calin

Thursday Throw Down: Royal Rivalry

So, last week, we decided that no matter what, RIVER would take everyone down if she was in battle mode.  No one thought Buffy could take her, and poor Echo didn't have any votes.
So this week, since we're talking Fairy Tales, which of these fairy tales would you rather your story be?  (I did try to pick the most non-depressing ones...  Did you know that the Little Mermaid actually dies in the end from a broken heart?)

Snow White, who was so hated by her step-mother that she was almost killed by her not once but four times (the huntsman, tightly laced stays, poisoned hair combs, and then the famous poisoned apple)?


Sleeping Beauty, who was cursed by a wicked fairy to die on her 16th birthday, but instead must sleep until wakened by a king's son's kiss?


Cinderella, given over to nasty stepmother and stepsisters, and only if you're pious and good will your reward of marriage to the prince come?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, or share your own fairy tale!

Top 10 Cinderella retellings
Top 10 Twisted Fairytales

In the Kitchen at The Library as Incubator Project with Myra McEntire

And check out my review of both Hourglass and Timepiece by Myra McEntire
The Hourglass series is published by EgmontUSA

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Once Upon a Time Top 10: Twisted Fairy Tales

upon a time girls were locked in towers and saved by princes.  Today, sometimes we lock boys in towers and the princess gets to save the day.

Fairy tales are tricky business.  Here we just spent the last week talking about YA lit and how it influences body image, and now we're talking about fairy tales.  Without a doubt fairy tales can leave readers - girls especially - reeling in gender stereotypes and feeling disempowered.  The original fairy tales usually didn't even have happy endings.  And now our happy endings are saccharine sweet and gag inducing.  I, personally, get sick of waiting for the girl to wise up, use her brain or just save herself already!!  But today's fairy tales have a lot of cool twists and turn convention on its side.  I won't say that twisted fairy tales are always groundbreaking in the way they present women, but at least they put enough of a spin on the classic fairy tales (and just some good ole classics) as to be new, inventive, and a fun read.  So here are 10 of my favorites.

In a galaxy not so far away: Star Wars Reads Day (TPIB: Space)

In a galaxy not so far away . . .

“The Force is strong with this one.” 
– Darth Vader, Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope

The Force is coming strongly to libraries across the country on October 6- StarWars Reads Day is being held nationwide in conjunction with Lucasfilms and its publishing partners (Abrams, Chronicle Books, Dark Horse, Del Rey, DK Publishing, Random House Audio, Scholastic, Titan Magazines and Workman).  While registration is closed for libraries that want to be labeled an “official site,” you can still join in the celebration of all things Jedi and Sith.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Where's My Glass Slipper? Top 10: Cinderella Retellings

I am a HUGE fantasy addict.  HUGE. I will admit it.  Give me a well written fairy tale, and I can curl up and be completely content for the afternoon.  Even better, give me something that has a twist in it.  Since we’re talking about Cinderella, here are my top ten retellings that fall within YA…

Body Image and YA... a Pause Point, with Christie and Karen

Christie's Pause:
It’s interesting where things start.  Karen J. asked a simple question about a book, I answered, and boom, we have six blog posts in the past month talking about body image and YA literature, and I’m sure many more to come.  I think we’ve opened up an important dialogue, and it’s interesting to see that other bloggers in the YA blogsphere are talking about it now, so I’ll be interested to see where the conversation goes.
In the US, we’re a very visual and “now” culture- we want the latest, the newest, and the shiniest, and it’s these trends that drive what publishers decide to give the green light.  If there weren’t a perceived need for photo shopped pictures on magazines and covers, for models that are baby fresh faced and size 2, for a world where a plus sized model is considered a size 10, then we wouldn’t see such things.  We’re rapidly approaching the world that Scott Westerfeld describes in his Uglies series:  it’s the norm in certain areas that teens are getting plastic surgery on their 16th birthday to change their appearance for cosmetic reasons.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

"And maybe she’d been right to do it.  Maybe it was Cinder’s duty as a cyborg to sacrifice herself so all the normal humans could be cured.  Maybe it did make sense to use the ones who had already been tampered with.  But Cinder knew she would never forgive Adri for it.  The woman was supposed to be the one to protect her, to help her.  If Adri and Pearl were her only family left, she would be better off alone.

She had to get away.  And she knew just how she was going to do it." - Cinder, Macmillan January 2012

The Cover Story: body image and ya lit book covers

So these past few weeks Christie G and I have been talking about body image and teen fiction. Which got me thinking: What about the book covers themselves?

We know from research that the images that teens see in the media affect the way they perceive their own bodies. 3 out of 4 girls feel worse about their bodies after reading fashion magazines (Love whose body? Spark, a movement thank you Cheryl Rainfield for the link). It has happened to us all (although apparently not to white men near as often): you're flipping through the pages of a magazine and slowly, you come to a realization: your hips are too big, your stomach isn't flat and those clothes they are wearing - I could never pull that off. Take a moment to watch this video on Cause and Effect: How the Media You Consume Can Change Your Life (Thank you RobinReads for the link):

Now let's talk about all of this in the context of teen fiction book covers. We already know that teen book covers are whitewashed (check out the Book Smugglers article on Cover Matters: On Whitewashing). But how is weight depicted on teen fiction book covers?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Necromancing the Slayer (The Sunnydale Project)

“Most people felt lost after high school. Sometimes I felt like I'd never really been found in the first place.”  - Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

The first book I ever reviewed for VOYA was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer book by Nancy Holder.  I have read almost all of them, and for a while they took up about two shelves of my YA collection.  And then one day came the sad news that they were being discontinued.  Since that time, I have been on my own personal slayer quest: to find Buffy readalikes.  I have throughout the years found a few, but my favorite has hands down been the book Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride.

"Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?" (from Goodreads) (Henry Holt &Co., 2010 ISBN 9780805090987)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Fill-Ins: My favorite Stephen King as a Teen

As we discussed in today's Why YA? post, Stephen King is definitely an honorary YA author.  It seems like almost every teen reads a Stephen King book at some point (as well they should!).  So in today's Friday Fill-In we're going to share our favorite Stepehn King title as a teen.  And today we have a special double bill of FFIs, so be sure and tell us what Stephen King books your teens are still asking for.  You know the drill, fill in the blanks in the comments.

When I was a teen, my favorite Stephen King book was ________________________________ because __________________________________.
I find that my teens today still love to read ____________________________ by Stephen King.

Why YA? Stephen King as Honorary YA Author by Chloe Jacobs

At some point in their life, every teen will read a Stephen King book.  I remember being in the 6th grade when we were supposed to be reading The Hobbit, instead I spent that week reading It by Stephen King.  I didn't take away from it what you would think I would, no fear of clowns, sewers or spiders.  No, instead I took away a deep longing for a childhood of mystery and friendship and a special bond forged in one one magical (and yes, terrifying) town.  Today, author Chloe Jacobs shares with us her love of YA lit and Stephen King.  (PS, please don't tell my 6th grade teacher, but I have still never read The Hobbit.)
We have a lot offantastic young adult fiction to choose from these days. Everything the heartcould desire. From contemporary stories about fitting in and finding love, tohorror and dystopians. Vampires and magic. Books for young adults are deep,dark, smart, and amazingly refreshing. They challenge teens and adults alike.They ask us to believe in ourselves and what we can do. They don’t patronize teens,talk down to them, or pander to the expectations of a society that onlypretends to understand what our young people go through on a daily basis. Not comparedto the fodder that was available for the age group even ten or fifteen yearsago.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday Throw Down: Whedonverse Women

So last week, we discussed Vampire Victors, with the clear winner being SPIKE.
This week, let's take a spin around the Whedonverse, and figure out who would win...
Buffy Summers, the wise cracking, uber slayer...
River Tam, psycic and assassin from Firefly/Serenity
Echo (aka Caroline Farrell), Active and activist from Dollhouse

Vote for your favorite in the comments! 
A part of The #Sunnydaleproject

Strike Yer Colors! There Be Pirates Here! Arrrrr! (TPIB: Talk Like a Pirate Day)

Arrrghhhh! September is always a fun month programming-wise.  You have Banned Book Week, you have National Library Card Sign-up Month, you have all the Back-To-School activities, you have International Make Your Mark Day (September 15th-ish, see blog post here) but my absolute favorite program to do in September is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

September 19, 2012 is the 10th anniversary of Talk Like a Pirate Day, and HOW can you let this programming opportunity pass you by?  It’s perfect for all ages, because of the wide variety of crafts, activities, and movies that you can show; and if you’re like me, you are responsible for more than just the teen population. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Discuss: Is Fat the Last Acceptable Prejudice?

Lately, Christie and I have been having discussions about the portrayal of obesity in teen fiction.  So we have been reading and talking about the concept.  Here is a look at some of our posts and book reviews:
Every Day by David Levithan, a book review
Butter by Erin Jade Lange, a book review
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, a book review
Skinny by Donna Cooner, a review
A Second Opinion: Every Day by David Levithan
10 Titles that deal with Obesity and Body Image (with links to some good articles)
The Cover Story: Body image and ya book covers
Top 10 Books about Eating Disorders
A moment to pause and reflect on body image and ya lit

It began because we both had read Every Day by David Levithan.  Christie and I had completely different reactions to Every Day (see the two reviews of Every Day above).  I mentioned the obese character in my review, but for Christie - that was a complete stumbling block for her, a deal breaker.  A few weeks later, there was some discussion of the topic on Twitter and it was clear that many people agreed with Christie and were enraged and offended by the depiction of obesity in Every Day.  Without a doubt, it is clear that both "A" (the main character) and Rhiannon are both disgusted by the obese body that A one day inhabits.  In fact, of all the characters that A can find a way to be sympathetic to, this obese young man is not one.  As Christie mentions in her review, there is no sympathy for the grotesque fat guy when there is for even the drug addict.

Around the same time, Christie stumbled across an interesting blog post by author Rae Carson, so we decided that she would read and review The Girl of Fire and Thorns to make a comparison.  At the same time, I had been reading both Butter and Skinny.  In fact, I read Butter and Skinny back to back and I thought they both dealt with the subject well.  I liked that both of the stories address some of the emotional components to over eating.  I particularly liked how Skinny came to some of her decisions to change her weight in some ways for herself, although there were obviously some outside influences. (Weighing on Weight by Rae Carson)

Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

"When Papa dies, she will be queen of Orovalle.  She wants to rule and I do not, so it is ironic that by marrying King Alejandro, I will be queen of a country twice as large, twice as rich.  I don’t know why I am the one marrying.  Surely Joya d’Arena’s king would have chosen the beautiful daughter, the queenly one. My mouth freezes, midchew, as I realize that he probably did.
I am the counteroffer." - Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson

Fire and Thorns #1
Greenwillow Press September 2011
ISBN: 9780062026484

Book Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

In 1963, approximately 1 in 22 teens were considered obese.  Today, 1 in 6, or 22%, are considered obese. More and more teens are turning to weight loss surgery to help them lose and control their weight.  This is the story of Ever Davies and her quest to control both her weight and the vicious voice inside her head that she calls Skinny.

Skinny by Donna Cooner
Coming from Scholastic Point in October of 2012
ISBN: 978-0-545-42763-0

“It just wasn't fair. God made some people naturally skinny and some people naturally fat. I'd never know how my life would have been different if I'd been one of the ones He made skinny. I didn't know how He chose. This one will be blonde, with long thin legs and great skin. This one will be short and fat with legs that rub together when she walks. I just knew I wasn't one of the lucky ones.”  - Skinny by Donna Cooner

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I remember . . .

I was at work in the library on September 11, 2001.  I had just given my notice and was set to begin at a new library, Marion Public Library, on September 17th.  I remember talking on the phone to my husband as he told me what was happening.  There were staff members watching the news in the staff lounge.  We all went home.

That night The Mr. and I went to church for a special prayer service at our church.  When we came out, the roads were a virtual parking lot and there were flashing police lights everywhere.  It looked like Armageddon and we had no idea what had happened.  It turned out that everyone was just trying to get gas because the truth is, no one knew what was going to happen next.  Here I was about to move and start a new job, and as far as we knew World War III could be starting.

2012 Printz Award Winner John Corey Whaley remembers . . .

In honor of the anniversary of 9/11, we are re-running a piece written by the 2012 Printz Award Winner John Corey Whaley on the book Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan.  This piece originally appeared on April 18, 2012 as part of our Why YA? series.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shelf Talkers: The "C" Word in Teen Fiction

My Judy Blume fan.  Because Judy Blume "gets it".
Several years ago my grandmother went to the ER and they opened her up and said they were sorry, but there was nothing they could do for her.  She had cancer and, because she didn't know it was there, it was so advanced that in just a couple of months it took her from us.  It was quick and unexpected, but often cancer is not.  Sometimes it hangs over you for years

I met and began dating The Mr. when I was 18 years old.  On my 20th birthday we got engaged.  I met the man who would be my father-in-law exactly once.  He was at home in the midst of what would turn out to be an all to brief period of remission from lymphoma.  By the time we got engaged he had already passed away.

Many years later, my friend  (my mentor, my adopted mom) would call and tell me that she too had cancer.  Unlike the others in my life, she would survive (thank God and modern medicine).  She was fighting cancer at the same time that I laid on bed rest fighting HG and trying to make sure my baby made it into this world.  We would call each other and talk about what it was like to have fallen down the rabbit hole that our lives had become.  I am the librarian I am today, and the persona I am today, in large part because of what she taught me.  I am thankful every day that we both made it out of that rabbit hole.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Top 10 Things I Learned From Buffy The Vampire Slayer by Christie G

10.  Librarians are freaking awesome.
Well, I knew this anyway, but Giles was the epitome of what I actually wanted a high school librarian to be.  A wealth of knowledge, a touchstone when you needed someone to listen, a father figure in your darkest hours, and he could definitely kick demon and vampire butt.  The fact that he knew magic and didn’t practice because he was scared of his own powers didn’t hinder, either.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Fill-Ins: I never realized that . . .

Last night during a Twitter chat LizB (@lizb, blogger for School Library Journal) revealed that she was an adult when she realized that there was a scene in Deenie by Judy Blume where Deenie "takes care of her own needs".  True confession: I never realized this.  Never.  Then someone else was discussing how they didn't realize that Lyra had sex in the Golden Compass trilogy.  I only read book one so I get pass on that one.  But I remember once a patron complaining that they cussed in the early HP books, which I had read and as they sat there and complained to me I was like - there was no cussing.  The truth is, sometimes we just don't realize things when we read, they go completely without notice.  So today is our day to share those things that we learned about our favorite books later in life.  You know the drill, fill in the blanks in the comments.

I never realized that ________________________________ in the book ________________ by _______________________.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Missing the Mark: how young adult (teen) services in libraries are designed to fail

I have worked at 4 different library systems in my 19 years as a teen services librarian and they have ranged from big, well-funded systems to smaller, not so well-funded systems.  I have been a teen services team leader where I had the luxury of directing a staff of 2 other teen services staff members, but mostly I have gone it alone.  And often I have had a job description that really entailed the job of 2 1/2 full time librarians, yet I did it all in 37 hours a week.  As I reflect on my experiences and on the experiences of other teen services librarians, I can't help but notice that most library systems continue to set up their teen services in a way that are in fact designed to fail.  There are, of course, always exceptions: there are libraries out there doing amazing things with great budgets and a team of staff members dedicated to serving teens.  But there are still many libraries that are asking staff members to perform miraculous feats in the face of challenging conditions.  Below are what I find to be the top 4 challenges to teen services in our libraries.  Let me know in the comments if you agree or if there are other challenges that you would like to discuss.


As a whole, libraries themselves are now underfunded.  And teen librarians having traditionally gotten the smallest piece of that pie (if any).  Yet, in many ways, teen librarians are challenged to appeal to one of the most visually sophisticated audiences with some of the highest competition out there.  It is hard to meet the technology needs, the collection needs, and the programming desires of this age group without reasonable funding.  Crafts from recycled toilet paper rolls work great with toddlers, less so with teenagers.

Thursday Throw-down: Vampire Victor

One of the things that the teens and I love to do is get into these huge discussions about what would happen if different characters from all the different books we've read would meet up.  How would they interact with each other?  How would they react?  If there was a fight, who would win?  Which is the biggest bad?  Who has the best power?  The list of questions goes on.  So, I figured why not bring our discussion to the YA blogsphere.

So, for today's THURSDAY THROW-DOWN, who would be the Vampire Victor of these three?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

TPIB: Bring Out Your Dead! Zombie Programming Redux

Teen Read Week (a Yalsa event) and Halloween is coming, and the creepy crawlies are coming, and oh, what fun we get to have.  Personally, the best way to celebrate is with ZOMBIES!  Vampires?  Been there, done that.  Monsters?  Baby things.  But ZOMBIES- oh, mysterious appeal, grown-up creepiness that will fascinate your teens.

THINGS TO THINK OF:  What type of program do you want to have?  Do you have the staff to have an all-out Zombie Day of programming, or do you need to tone it down to movies and a craft?  What resources do you have available?  I’ve put together what I’ve done at various libraries for a variety of different programs that can be thrown together for different styles and different ages.

Zombie Attack Prep Drill
·         Pregame prep:  gather a variety of sizes of sweatpants, sweatshirts and t-shirts from your house and other staff members, and then separate them according to type.  Place each type (pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts) into pile in a separate corner of the room.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

10 Things I Never Learned In Library School, part 2 (Christie G)

So, in another post I talked about times when library school doesn’t prepare you for real life in public libraries.  When you are working closely with a community, you definitely become part of their world, and are shown things that you wouldn’t see as an outsider- there are things that I know that I’ve encountered during my years as a librarian that others haven’t, whether it’s because of where I was working, or how closely I was working within the community. 


I Never Learned In Library School

I Never Learned How to Lock Down the Library During a SWAT Maneuver
Once we had to lock down the library I was working in for three hours while the city’sSWAT team raided the apartment complex next door.  We were contacted by the commander, we were not allowed to let anyone in or out, so we had extra programming that day for the kids that were there- I had my PS2 there at the time, so we had a spontaneous gaming day with the console and other board games until we were given the all clear.  To this day I don’tknow what they were searching for.

10 Things I Never Learned in Library School, part 1 (Karen J)

Yesterday Christie shared a fab post about that parts of your job as a librarian that they don't prepare you for in library school.  As someone who works with teens, you often get invited into their inner sanctuary.  There is nothing that will prepare you for some of the things that you will encounter while working with teens.  Here is a look at 10 situations that I have encountered that library school could never have prepared me for.

I Never Learned About The Grandmother
I once had a grandmother come in asking for a book she could give to her 14-year-old granddaughter so she could learn to "take care of her own needs" and not end up a pregnant teenager.  And yes, we have a book for that.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Book Review: Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick

Shadows is the high octane sequel to Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick.

Ashes Review

In Ashes, an EMP changed a large portion of the population, turning them into what can best be described as what we call zombies.  The Changed roam and eat the flesh of those that remain unchanged.  At the end of Ashes, our main character Alex found herself in a town called Rule hoping to find help for a fellow survivor named Tom; he was left injured as the two fled for their lives.  The town of Rule is populated by survivors that have organized themselves into a survival group that appears almost as a religious cult.  All is not what it seems in Rule.

Shadows picks off where Ashes left us, Alex is trying to escape Rule and finds herself in an enclave of zombies.  The zombies may be the least of her problems.

Where's My Library School Class For This? (by Christie G.)

There are some days where everything they teach you in library school goes completely out the window, and does nothing to prepare you for how to handle things.  There is no reader’s advisory class, no technical services semester, no reference or database class, no children’s and young adult literature class that can prepare you for when one of your kids (because really, they consider me theirs, so how can I not consider them my kids?) comes to you in tears because death sneaked into their lives somehow and stole something precious and irreplaceable- a friend, a neighbor, a relative, a parent.

This happened to me this week.  One of my kids came in to my office in tears looking for a safe place to break down.  Someone special to them had been killed accidentally two days before, and they only learned about it earlier in the day, and needed somewhere quiet and safe to grieve and to try to make sense of something so senseless.  There are no words that you can give that they haven’t heard from their parents/guardians, their teachers, or their guidance counselors.  The old standbys of “Everything happens for a reason,” “They’re looking down at us from heaven,” “They’re in a better place,” “Soon you’ll remember all the happy times you had together,” don’t work and get thrown by the wayside.  All you can do is to listen and to let them get things out, and be perhaps the one person in their life who doesn’t judge or give platitudes that have no meaning to a twelve year old whose encounter with death may in fact have been the first in their entire life.

Nothing in library school can teach you this.  There is no class.  This is not a reference interview.  There is no practicum.  There is no thesis paper.  This is the downside to being part of the beating heart of your community- in order to experience the magnificent highs, you have to share in the shattering lows.  But the fact that I *am* a person my kids feel they can turn to when they have problems means that I am doing something valuable within this community.  And that is worth the heartache.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

X Marks the Spot: Family in the Whedonverse (The Sunnydale Project)

One dark night I drove down an unknown road to watch the X-files with a friend. A big X in the window let me know that I had come to the right house. That night, a friendship was forged that opened my heart and changed my life. Two amazing souls walked into my heart and taught me more than I could ever hope to know about thinking and feeling and being . . . and about family.  It was here, while watching the X-files, Buffy and Angel, that I learned that we were doing the very thing that Joss Whedon wrote about in his shows: making a family.

And because life is fluid, and celebrities are vain, David Duchovny walked out of my life and Buffy the Vampire Slayer walked in. And in this 'verse I learned a wonderful truth: family is not just those you were born into, but those you chose to love and share yourself with.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Book Review: Ask the Passengers by A. S. King (reviewed by Jenny Torres Sanchez)

It was author Jenny Torres Sanchez that introduced me to the marvelous writings of A. S. King, so I thought I would let her review Ask the Passengers for us today.  Besides, you probably already know that I love the book.  So here is another point of view.  Stay tuned at the end and enter to win a chance to Google+ Hangout with A. S. King.

Kingism- A short narrative from the point of view of a seemingly odd, out of place, or nonsensical object/subject but which holds incredible meaning and is interjected throughout an awesome novel. Ex: including narrative from the point of view of a pagoda in a story decidedly not about pagodas (Please Ignore Vera Dietz).

Ask the Passengers by A. S. King
October from Little, Brown and Co.
ISBN: 978-0-316-21824-5