Friday, November 30, 2012

New Adult: A Broken Promise, Now a Rose by Any Other Name (by Chrisite G)

I have been following with waxing and waning interest for the last few months the chatter about the "New Adult" trend that publishers have been introducing.  You can trace it back to St. Martin Press back in 2009, when they wanted to market books as coming-of-age stories with characters in their twenties.  You can actually trace it further back to an online contest, sponsored by #YALitChat, and they had a really decent turnout for it.  The winners got the first 50 pages of their manuscripts looked over by St. Martin, and a lot of them were really idealistic.  Blogger and author Kristan Hoffman, who won the contest, stated that she felt that New Adult could really take off, "Especially since New Adult could offer a variety of “flavors.” Sci-fi, fantasy, romance, historical, thriller, literary … Just like the Young Adult umbrella, New Adult can (and probably will) cover all these genres and more."

Take 5: Vampire Books with Bite

There are no shortage of YA Vampire books, many of them extremely popular.  So here are 5 that are not wildly popular that I think should be - and as an added bonus, there are no sparkling vampires.

Book Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

So I am starting a new list, 10 MORE books you should read if you are a Buffy fan.  And the first book that goes on that list you ask? The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. (You can read the original list of Buffy related reads here.)

At this point, I am only interested in vampire books if 1) there is a twist on typical vampire conventions, 2) the vampires in no way sparkles and 3) they have a female character who doesn't play into typical female stereotypes and make me want to give 1,000 warnings of please don't do this to my teens as I hand them the book.  Okay, obviously there are a few things I wouldn't want my teens to do I think as I hand them this book - like become a vampire - but you know, all in all I can hand this book to my teens without that twinge in my conscience.  In fact, this is a really good book.  Let me tell you why.

“You don't dwell on what you've lost, you just move on."-Allison 
Julie Kagawa, The Immortal Rules

1.  A Different Point of View
Our main character, Allison, starts out as a Unregistered Human.  This means she has to stay below the radar because she is offered no protection and isn't giving a regular "donation" of blood to help keep the vampires alive.  BUT, on page 78 of the book our Allie is forced to make a life saving decision that will render her kinda of alive - she becomes a vampire.  So the rest of our tale is a journey into the heart and soul of a vampire that we already know and admire as a human and watching her struggle to not become the very monsters that she hates.  Kagawa introduces us to a character we care about, changes her into the monster she despises, and then let's us journey with her into this new, uncharted territory.

“Hunger flickered, always there, but I pushed it down. I was a vampire. Nothing would change that. But I didn't have to be a monster.”
Julie Kagawa, The Immortal Rules

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Night of Firsts

Last night I was invited by Dr. Joni Bodart to speak to her MLS students.  Since she teaches on the West Coast (I miss you place where I grew up), I had to drop in via my computer.  It was a night of firsts for me.

The first thing you should know is that it was such an honor to be asked by Dr. Bodart.  She is a giant in the field, and has always been a huge inspiration.  I did my final MLS project on Booktalking.  As you know, she has written a variety of booktalking books - which I referred to in my research.  So, being asked by her, yeah pretty cool.

Outside of a few conference speaking engagements, it was the first time I had ever talked to MLS students.  It turns out, I have a lot to say.  I spoke about the need for advocacy at all levels.  If you work with teens, you know that often you have to advocate for teen services right there in your own building.  You're fighting for funds, staffing, space.  That's not always true of course, thankfully many libraries have understood and embraced the need for teen services.  But even those that do, they often weren't originally set up for it in terms of space and teens need a space - a space for ya books, to get together in the library.  So yeah, I did talk about advocacy.  Some of my favorite pieces that I have ever written is about advocating in the library and the way that you can put the building blocks into place to get staff interacting with teens in positive ways.  Here are a couple of those pieces:

Take 5: Weird Science

I recently received a special grant from my Friends of the Library grant to update our YA collection.  They tacked on an additional $500.00 with the challenge that they wanted me to add more math and science related books in the collection.  So the challenge was this: Can you find some YA titles that talk about science and math?  Here are my Take 5; 5 ya titles with enough science to meet the bill but action, adventure and more . . .

Book Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

The jungle hides a girl who cannot die (front cover blurb)

The Fountain of Youth. The Holy Grail. It seems like we are always on the quest for immortality.  But what if scientists had found the answer in a simple flower found deep in the rainforest?  In Origin by Jessica Khoury, they have - but at what cost?

Origin by Jessica Khoury
Razor Bill, 2012
ISBN: 978-59514-595-6
"I am told that the day I was born, Uncle Paolo held me against his white lab coat and whispered, 'She is perfect.' Sixteen years later, they're still repeating the word. Every day I hear it, from the scientists or the guards, from my mother or my Aunt Brigid. Perfect." - First lines, Jessica Khoury

Pia is an immortal, the first of her kind.  Bred through several generations at a secret scientific facility called Little Cam, she is perfect - at least that is what she has always been told.  But her secret comes with many costs, one of which is that she has never left the secret lab that she calls home.  She has never seen the world, never played with children, never learned history.
"You are immortal, Pia, and you are perfect . . . " (p. 1)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: Gravity by Melissa West

"President Cartier is the smallest of the five, so petite she looks almost like a child in an adult’s chair. Her brown hair curls in perfect waves, just like Lawrence’s. Her olive skin shows her age, creasing in fine lines across her face, the heaviest lines around her eyes. To her right sits Alaster Krane, the European president, known for his stunning height and overpowering attitude. His skin and eyes and hair are as black as the night sky. Down the table to President Cartier’s left are the African and Asian presidents. The African president is the only other female, and her skin is as fair as mine, but while I have nearly black hair, hers is fiery red. The Asian leader sits quietly. He’s always quiet, as though he prefers to think more than speak, a quality I wish some of the other leaders would possess. His looks are perfectly symmetrical, and I imagine he was very beautiful when he was young.

Then my eyes drift to Zeus, my breath catching. He stares into the screen, ominous and powerful, like he knows so much more than any of the others. I’ve never met him, and I pray I never will. I study him as though I’m seeing him for the first time. Long white hair that must reach the center of his back. Eyes like a predator. He looks human, like Jackson and the other Latent Ancients, but now that I’m looking at him closely I realize that nothing about him is warm. From his expression, to his face, to his posture. Everything about Zeus oozes danger. I clear my throat to push back my fear.

They begin with the regular stuff—the laws of the treaty, discussion of amendments (there never are any), and a reminder of our responsibilities as humans. I almost scream for them to get to the attack. Law looks as tense as I feel.

Finally, President Cartier focuses on the main camera, her face solemn. “Today, there were four attacks across the world, one in each of the four governing territories. We believe the actions were that of a vigilante Ancient group. They have all been apprehended, returning our world to safe order.” She turns to Zeus. “Mr. Castello, to your knowledge, can you guarantee there are no other threatening groups, and furthermore, do you agree to maintain our peaceful separation until coexistence can safely commence?”

“Vigilante Ancients?” Law asks, but I’m too shocked to respond. Because Zeus Castello has just walked off the stage.

The leaders jump up. One yells after him.

The screen cuts to black."

Random Dystopia Generator; a journey through genre fatigue and what happens when the market becomes oversaturated (a not a book review)

Without a doubt, Dystopian is a hot genre right now.  I have read a ton - I have bought a ton - and my teens are definitely asking for them.  But after a while, they are all starting to blend together.  Recently I began reading The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse (awesome cover), and I began to realize what my problem as a reader has become.  Let me take you on a trendy reading journey. (Please note, this is not a review.)

In the beginning of our book, Alenna sits at home with her family when the government comes to arrest her parents for being rebels.  As I read this opening sequence, it immediately brought the beginning of Crewel by Gennifer Albin to mind.  Crewel came out earlier, but I had already read it.

Then Alenna is taken to a facility to watch a live feed of lost souls that are sent to a place called The Wheel.  The purpose of this feed is to demonstrate how you don't want to be a lost soul; it's all about reinforcing government control.  This brings about almost every dystopian to mind, but particularly ones like Delirium by Lauren Oliver and Matched by Allie Conde.

Then Alenna is taken to a place where she has some testing done to determine whether or not she will stay in her community or be sent to The Wheel; to determine whether or not she is a Lost Soul.  Again, it has the familiar ring to it.  Whether they are testing you to see what your skill is or whether or not you are "Divergent", it seems the government is very much in to testing.  Beware government testing.

Then we get to The Wheel.  Think Katniss being placed in The Arena or kids coming up the elevator in The Maze Runner by James Dashner, or even the outer areas in Unwind by Neal Shusterman.  The Wheel has a Lord of the Flies survival feel to it.  If you learn one thing from reading dystopian fiction, learn this: the end of the world brings out the basest, most survivalist tendencies of mankind.  It ain't pretty.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TPIB: My first love (and break up): Crush, Dumped, Kiss and The DateBook (with two bonus creative display ideas)

Ah, teenage love.  The agony. The ecstasy.  That first kiss. That first heartbreak.  This is one of the glorious hallmarks of the teenage years. 

Zest books has 4 great titles that cover this topic for you:
Crush: a girl's guide to being crazy in love
Dumped: a girl's guide to happiness after heartbreak
Kiss: a girl's guide to puckering up by Erin Elisabeth Conley
The Date Book: a girl's guide to going out with someone new by Erika Stalder

Debbie Thomas fails to win the ice skating gold at the same time that Karen fails to win the girlfriend gold
The night that Debbie Thomas was trying to win a gold medal in Olympic figure skating, my ex-boyfriend stood outside my door with a dozen red roses begging me to take him back.  Here's the thing: I really, really wanted to - but I was too filled with pride to let him know that and I regreted it every day for years afterwards.  Let's rewind.  I was "dating" a guy named Mike.  We had met my Sophomore year at a theater production after party when I bumped into him, literally.  We started talking and then we started dating.  The thing is, I was what they call a "late bloomer" and this was my first boyfriend and I was petrified.  And not so good at the smooching.  So one day Mike called and broke up with me.  The actual conversation went like this:
Mike: I want to break up with you
Me: Okay
Mike: Aren't you going to like cry or something?
Me: No, why, is that what you want me to do?
Mike: Yes, because then I would know that you like me
Me: That's so immature. How come my telling you I like you doesn't answer that question?
Mike: (silence as he realizes his stupid ways)
So later that evening, Debbie Thomas laces up her skates, Karen pulled up a chair in front of the TV, and Mike showed up with flowers.  The truth is, breaking up with me to see how I would react was a real insert expletive here move.  As was my not just saying okay, I forgive you let's not do this again.  The moral of my first romance story: pride can be a real heartbreaker. - Karen

That's right ladies and gentleman, I was dumped.  I think most of us are at one point or another.  And sometimes, we have the horrible task of having to be the dumper (arguably better than being the dumpee).  Sadly, this was not the last time I was dumped, read on . . .

Top 10: Middle Grade Fiction, Graphically Speaking

If your job description is anything close to what I've seen, you get to fill in the blanks for the nebulous population known as the "tweens"- that 10-12 year old scary time where they can't quite fit in with the teenagers because they're "little" kids but they want to DO everything the teenagers do, from HALO tournaments to lock-ins, and are tired of the "baby" things that the little kids are doing.  Welcome to the "Tween zone" - kinda like the Twilight zone, but with tweens.

To a point, they're right.  Their development and needs are different than younger kids, but they're also different than teens, so what works for them won't work for other groups.  The humor and sarcasm that works with teens won't work with a lot of tweens, and the smoothing that you do with younger kids won't work with them either.  Their reading habits differ as well- they need to be pushed into that world of inbetween books (whether you have it as junior high or juvenile or tween or chapter books) before they jump from picture to teen books.  This is the time where a lot of kids will loose that love of reading- often times because they struggle in making the transition from picture book to "grown up", and don't have the encouragement.

So what do you do?  I like pulling my hybrid books- those books that still have the graphics and illustrations throughout the book to keep their interest, but have the story and characters that build depth and encourage their thought process and critical thinking.  While they're a relatively new genre (think Captain Underpants), they're still mostly found under juvenile fiction, and can get lost between copies of Wonder, The Giver, and Mark of Athena.

I've pulled together the TOP TEN books that my "tweens" are DEVOURING that have a twist- they're books, but are illustrated or graphic novels without delving into the world of manga.  And they can easily be turned into a book program- take leftover notebooks or journals and have them create their own illustrated journals.  Have an origami program and create characters from the books. Draw yourself in the style of the books and see who has the best character!

If you know of titles that fit but didn't make the list, share in the comments below!

Monday, November 26, 2012

EarlyWord has posted their Best Books Spreadsheet!!!

NEWS FLASH!  For those of you who are looking for a comprehensive list of the 'Best Books of 2012' lists, look no further!  Nora Rawlinson, at EarlyWord, has just put out her Children's and Teens Spreadsheet, featuring over 150 titles and giving those of us in collection development or those of us just looking for an excellent resource an early Christmas present!!!

Make sure you check it out here:

And make sure you join me along with Nora and others at the YA Galley Chat on Tues., Dec. 18, from 4 to 5 pm, Eastern by following the hashtag via Twitter: #ewyagc.

Have a great week!

What's the (Short) Story?

In my review of The Curiosities, I mention that short stories seem to be a hard sell to teens.  Most often, they are also a mixed bag; I have yet to come across a short story collection where I thought every story was a divine work of inspiration (although The Curiosities comes close).  But here are 5 short story collections that I think are must have for teens and the libraries that serve them . . .

Book Review: The Curiositites: a collection of stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff

A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.

Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.

A world where fires never go out (with references to ice cream.)

Are you curious?

The Curiosities began as a writing experiment between three friends, popular YA Lit writers Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Breena Yovanoff.  And it ended with an awesome epic amazing curiously awesome collection of short stories.

The Curiosities is a fun look not only into the paranormal world, but into the world of writing and at a glimpse into the life of 3 friends who happen to be writers.  These stories are unedited and contain a variety of hand written notes throughout; in fact at one point, one of the authors circles a bunch of "it is" in one story and says that if she was editing the story, she would use more contractions.  Some of the other notes include:

"Full disclosure: I still don't really know what this title means. But I liked how it sounded." (p. 212)

"I almost convinced myself I could give this story a less unhappy ending, but that wouldn't really be in keeping with the prompt." (p. 78)

"Contrary to popular belief, this IS an ending." (p. 10)

There are notes about the stories, notes about each other as a writer and fun things like a hand drawn diagram of Brenna's brain, Tessa's liver and Maggie's heart.

Karen's Pick for a Holiday Season Gift Book

Friday, November 23, 2012

#mustacheyoutoread (Join the campaign!)

It all began because Kearsten, the teen services librarian at Glendale Public Library in Arizona,  Tweeted us a picture of a display she put together.  More accurately, she came up with the idea and her teen volunteers helped her put the display together.  It was simple really, but genius.  Her teens held up a fake mustache and a copy of the book they recommended and the slogan was: We #mustacheyoutoread.

So now we are on a campaign and we need your help.  We want to help these teens go viral.  So join us on Twitter please.  Tweet your book recommendations with the tag #mustacheyoutoread.  Bonus points if you include a picture of yourself with a fake mustache and the book you are recommending.  You can cut out paper mustaches or draw mustaches on your finger for the ever popular fingerstache.  Please include an @GlendaleTeenLib so the teens will see it.

Here are some of their pics . . .

Join me in supporting these teens, pretty please.  Tweet them today.  You can find Kearsten on Twitter @Kearsten or here at the beginning of each month with her booktalks.  Also, please leave them a comment.  If you do Tweet them, you can copy and paste the link to your Tweet in the comments.  Christie G. has been going to town with this and has a lot of fun pics.  And this was obviously the inspiration for our TLT holiday card.

Our Holiday Wish to You

What They Didn’t Teach Me in Library School: How to Find My Balance

Librarianship is one of those professions is more of a calling than a job.  Requiring at least a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, countless continuing education credits, thousands of hours of reading on personal time to familiarize yourself not only with your collection but also with new materials, and keeping up with latest trends in technology and culture, librarianship is not for the faint of heart, or for those who “just want to read all day.”

Unfortunately, while library school gave me a wonderful foundation for how to handle things professionally (cataloging, evaluating children’s and YA literature, reader’s advisory and reference, etc.), it did not teach me how to find my balance between what my professional (work) duties need and what my personal (life) wants are.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I'm Thankful For by Christie G

Thanksgiving is a tricky time of year.  Most librarians will be off Thursday and Friday, yet your library will be open Wednesday and Saturday, so if your family is further away than a traditional Thanksgiving song there is no way you're seeing family for the holiday unless they're coming to you.  As a holiday, it means different things to different people and cultures, and traditions can run deep, as can feelings.  The basic premise, however, is to be thankful, and so I thought I'd share, in what has been a spectacularly manic year, what I'm thankful for from 2012.

That Guy.  That Guy is the guy that I fell for my freshman year in college, and we've been together ever since.  I lucked out in that he gets me, he gets my passion, he supports anything and everything that I want to do, and thinks that all my ideas, no matter how strange or weird they might seem to others are worth it.  He helps chaperone teen lock-ins and run library programs, he volunteers, he deals with my craziness and keeps me sane.  I don't know where I would be with out him.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (reviewed by Christie G)

"I had an open mind, at least by Gatlin's standards.  I mean, I'd heard all the theories.  I had sat through  more than my share of Sunday school classes.  And after my mom's accident, Marian told me about a Buddhism class she took at Duke taught by a guy named Buddha Bob, who said paradise was a teardrop inside a teardrop inside a teardrop, or something like that.  The year before that, my mom tried to get me to read Dante's Inferno, which Link told me was about an office building that caught fire, but actually turned out to be about a guy's voyage into the nine circles of Hell.  I only remember the part my mom told me about monsters or devils trapped in a pit of ice.  I think it was the ninth circle of Hell, but there were so many circles down there that after a while they all sort of ran together.
After what I'd learned about underworlds and otherworlds and sideways worlds, and whatever else came in the whole triple-layer cake of universes that was the Caster world, that first glimpse of blue sky was fine by me.  I was relived to see there was something that looked like a cheesy Hallmark card waiting for me.  I wasn't expecting pearly gates or naked cherub babies.  But the blue sky, that was a nice touch."

10 Things I am thankful for . . .

Today is a day of thanks, and I have plenty to give.

I am thankful for . . .

1) The opportunity to get up every day and do what I love both as a teen services librarian and as a blogger. I know that I am inordinately blessed to have found myself doing exactly the things I am supposed to be doing in life.

2) Stephanie, Christie, Heather - fantastic partners in crime and working hard to make a difference in the lives of teens. Plus, they are totally cool.

3) The sometimes TLTers who share booklists, book recs, book reviews, program ideas and more.  Kearsten, Maria, Karen D and Eric Devine are all honorary TLTers - to name just a few - who help cover topics that us regular TLTers don't consider our best topics.

4) The authors who write fantastic books and make our jobs so much easier.  I love nothing more than hearing a teen come back and say, "I loved that book you told me to read."  With your words, you make a difference.

5) The publishers who help make this blog possible by sending ARCs and making sure we know about upcoming titles.  The truth is, blogging has made me a much better teen services librarian because I have grown so much in my knowledge of collection development tools and resources like Edelweiss and Netgalley.  And I have found that ARCs make it so much easier for me to decide whether or not a book title will work in my community.  The publishers I have met are just as passionate about books and stories and the power behind the words as most librarians are.

6) Everyone who does guest blog posts.  It's nice to get different points of views, hear different stories, and hear about new books.  Also, sometimes it is nice to take a day off of blogging (I never knew how much "work" this would be) and spend time with my kids.  A special thanks to the authors who take time out of very busy promotional schedules to write a guest blog post.  You make me feel like a rock star for a day.

7) Blog readers! You give me a forum to share my passion, get different points of view, and, let's face it, it's so much more fun and fulfilling when you are talking with someone.  I talk to myself sometimes, it's much less fun than talking to you.

8) My teens, of course.  I love getting to be a part of their lives and being invited in. They are smart and witty and they our not only our future, but our here and now.  Library services to teens matter because teens themselves matter.

9) The Mr., who is incredibly supportive and sometimes a participate in all things TLT.  When he picks up a book and reads it, I get his two cents.  And he gives up a lot of time and energy to support me and my passion for TLT.  He has also opened his wallet on occasion to pay for prizes, shipping prizes, and sending me to conferences.  All in all, he is a good egg indeed.

10) My kids.  Man I love them.  And to be honest, they are incredibly patient when they wake up in the morning and come out to the kitchen and see me typing.  They know that when I say give me 5 more minutes I mean 10.  They ask me about the books I read, and sometimes they read them with me.  A special shout out to the Tween who has appeared in a lot of posts around here, giving her opinion, sharing her art work, and just generally being her awesome self.  And oh yeah - they get dragged to a lot of meet the author events.  They have met Lauren Oliver, Michael Scott and Claire Legrand to name just a few.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Take 5: True Confessions of a Sci Fi Reader with Maria Selke

I’ve always been a science fiction reader.

Well, “always” if you count the fact that there wasn’t much science fiction available for younger readers when I was a kid. I got my start in fantasy with Narnia. I ventured into science fiction with A Wrinkle in Time, and never looked back. I continued to read fantasy and historical fiction, of course, but I also gobbled down science fiction like cyborgs were about to take over the earth. 

Recently, though, I realized that my passion for science fiction felt very past tense. Almost everything I read and reread was published before the dawn of the 21st century. The more I talked about my love for the genre, the more people came to me for reading suggestions. While Bradbury, Clark, and Herbert are fabulous, it was time to hit the books and update my repertoire.  I gave myself a SciFi Summer challenge.

I started by trying to express why I think science fiction is such an important genre. It really boils down to this – science fiction is the genre that helps us envision and create a better future. We may read about environmental catastrophes and plot a way out of the path of destruction. We may shiver in fear as humans turn on each other, and turn instead to compassion.  We may read about marvelous science that sparks our desire to cure or explore or explain. I’ve gone into more detail about “Why Sci Fi” on my blog, if you’d care for a more in depth discussion.

Since the start of June, I have read thirty-seven books that I classified as science fiction. While I’m trying to find newer titles, I did succumb to the lure of a Fahrenheit 451 reread after the passing of Ray Bradbury. Let me tell you, that book is just as relevant today as it was when it was published. If you haven’t read it, or you haven’t read it lately, be sure to get a copy! It’s available as a graphic novel adaptation as well, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the original.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

I'd thought he was angry, and he was, a bit, but when I looked into those eyes, I saw that what I had mistaken for anger was really terror.  He was even more scared that I was.  Scared that without the net, his job was gone.  Scared that without the net, Mum couldn't sign on every week and get her benefits.  Without the net, my sister Cora wouldn't be able to do her schoolwork.

"Trent," he said, his chest heaving.  "Trent, what have you done?"  There were tears in his eyes.
I tried to find the words.  We all do it, I wanted to say.  You do it, I wanted to say.  I had to do it, I wanted to say.  But what came out, when I opened my mouth, was nothing.  Dad's hands tightened on my arms and for a moment, I was sure he was going to beat the hell out of me, really beat me, like you saw some of the other dads do on the estate.  But then he let go of me and turned round and stormed out of the flat.  Mum stood in the door to my room, sagging hard against the door frame, eyes rimmed with red, mouth pulled down in sorrow and pain.  I opened my mouth again, but again, no words came out.
I was sixteen.  I didn't have the words to explain why I'd downloaded and kept downloading.  Why making the film that was in my head was such an all-consuming obsession.  I'd read stories of the great directors -- Hitchcock, Lucas, Smith -- and how they worked their arses off, ruined their health, ruined their family lives, just to get that film out of their head and onto the screen.  In my mind, I was one of them, someone who had to get this bloody film out of my skull, like, I was filled with holy fire and would burn me up if I didn't send it somewhere.
That had all seemed proper noble and exciting and heroic right up to the point that the fake copper turned up at the flat and took away my family's Internet and ruined our lives.  After that, it seemed like a stupid, childish, selfish whim.  

What do I call that? Genre 101 with Georgia McBride

I love speculative fiction so much that when I started Month9Books, I added the commonly misunderstood term to our tagline: “speculative fiction for teens and tweens where nothing is as it seems.” Those of you who are genre fiction fans, and in particular speculative fiction fans, may already know what it means. But for those of you who hear only the “wah wah wah” of Charlie Brown’s teacher when I use it, this one’s for you.

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term used to encompass a variety of genres and sub-genres. The easiest way to understand what it means is to break down the word speculative. It has “speculate” in it. According to Barron’s Reference Guides Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus, to speculate means to “form an opinion without any definite evidence.” As a transitive verb, Merriam Webster says in essence, to speculate is to theorize or wonder. As in, I wonder what would happen if, or I think if  X happened, we would all do Y.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Girls Against Girls {Book Review, Discussion & Giveaway}

My heart speeds up.  I see a single bead of sweat start to fall down my cheek.  Soon that bead of sweat will be a tear, but not quite yet.  She is coming.  I stand at the bus stop waiting to go to school and she is coming.  I am in the 5th grade, alternately known as hell - thanks entirely to her.  Today we are in for a special treat.  Her mother is a nurse and she has stolen a needle from her. As she plunges it into the skin of my arm over and over and over again, I know I can't do this anymore.  So the next morning I force my little brother to walk to school with me, even though I have been told that I can not.  It is not safe where we live. We walk under the freeway overpass where in the future weeks a drunken man will grab me by the ankle.  We walk and we walk and we walk, morning after morning, because whatever dangers are out there, even the rapist they keep talking about on the radio, they don't compare to the dangers that wait for me every morning at the bus stop.   Nothing is more dangerous than her festering hatred, and I don't even know how I earned it.  Thank God that because of my parent's divorce, I get to go to a different school next year.  I hope I can make it that long.
5th grade sucked for me. Truly and to its core.  There would be some other bad years, but nothing that compared to that one.  I remember when I was pregnant with my first child and The Mr. and I went to find out the sex of our baby, I wanted desperately for it to be a boy because I knew first hand how hard this world is for girls, and sadly it is often other girls making it that way. We have two little girls.  Last night the tween cried because the girl assigned to sit by her on the bus every day refuses to do so because she thinks the tween is "weird".  Ahhhh, the glory of Girls Against Girls.  Sometimes I wonder, is there anything worse than being a teenage girl?

Girls Against Girls by Bonnie Burton is a nonfiction title from Zest Books that really challenges girls to think about why they do the things they do to one another and ways to end the cycle of girl against girl violence, which is primarily emotional and psychological but can get physical.  We all know what they say about "cat fights".

"Hey, how long till the music drowns you out?
Don't put words up in my mouth,
I didn't steal your boyfriend"
Lyrics by Ashlee Simpson, Boyfriend

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Review: Uncool, a Girl's Guide to Misfitting In by Erin Elisabeth Conley

The Unrules:
  • Be kind to your fellow misfits.
  • Believe that black is a color suitable for any occasion, worthy of even being added to the rainbow.
  • Think.  Be.  Think and be different.
  • Throw caution to the wind.  Take chances with fashion, hobbies, hopes, and dreams.
  • Be OK with wearing things that your mother, grandmother, or nosy old neighbor thinks are ugly.
  • Don't be afraid to look weird.
  • Write a blog.  Make a documentary film.  Publish a zine.  Learn the accordion.  Build a radio-controlled blimp.
  • Express your individuality in a healthy, creative way.
  • Let your inner geek speak- whether it's through music, art, science, origami, circus school, or whatever.
  • Do something slightly risky (but never dangerous) every once in a while.  Take up the sport of spelunking (cave exploring), or invite your gym teacher to join you for lunch.
  • Have patience with people who are different from you.  (You know, the ones who are so "normal" they're practically clones.)
  • Find something to believe in, a worthy cause of sorts.  Volunteer and invest some genuine spirit into it.
  • Feel free to pop over to the Dark Side, but don't move there.
  • Orbit Planet Normal in your mother ship, but don't inhabit it.
  • Don't change just because someone else thinks you should.
  • Know that even though you may misfit, there is always someplace you are welcome in the world.

We've Only Got This One Earth: Environmental teen programs and 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment

If you read much science fiction, you know that in the future we are forced to colonize another planet because we have destroyed Earth.  We only one life to live, and one Earth to live it on.  But have no fear, there are a lot of things we can do to help save this 3rd rock from the sun that we call Earth, and they are outlined for you in 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment by Lexi Petronis.  This little book is a great addition to your collection and has some little nuggets that you can pull out and do some Earth friendly (Earth Day is April 21) programming. 

Bottle Cap Crafts
One of my favorite teen programs I ever did was called Bottle Cap Crafts where we did nothing but make crafts out of, you guessed it, bottle caps.  You can paint the bottle caps and use them to decorate picture frames.  Put stickers in them and decoupage them to make necklaces, key chains, zipper pulls and more.  You can also fill them with beads and small items and epoxy to create shadow box necklaces.  You see these a lot at craft shows as they are very popular and easy to make.  If you glue a magnet onto the back of the bottle cap and string a washer onto a piece of string for the necklace, you can create easily interchangeable pieces.  Here are 50 bottle cap crafts on Squidoo.

School Supply Swap (Swap, Don't Shop p. 82)
At the beginning of the school year - or half way through - host a school supply swap to get rid of those unused supplies that teens buy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

TPIB: Project Fashion, part 2 with Jeaneology, Junk Box Jewelry and more

Get Your Fashion On
(fashions drawn by my tween)
I am a Project Runway junkie and have posted some Project Runway inspired TPIBs before, but now I have some great ideas for yet another Project Fashion TPIB thanks to several great How To books by Zest Books:

Junk Box Jewelry, 25 DIY Lost Cost (or no cost) Jewelry Projects by Sarah Drew
Jeanealogy: Accessories, Clothing, Gifts by Nancy Flynn.

Also, I found some helpful resources that help explain the things people are saying that I have never really understood, like what an A-line dress or a Peter Pan collar is.

Fashion 101: A Crash Course in Clothing by Erika Stalder is such a cool book; it is literally a reference guide for the fashion illiterate like me.  It explains things like what a bias cut is (fabric cut across the grain of the fabric) as well as being a reference guide to tons of types of dresses, shoes, belts and more.  Each entry has an illustrated pic as well as giving you basic info like what it is, who made it hot and how you can rock it.  Who made the vest hot? 80s teen queen Debbie Gibson brought the vest out of the menswear closet and style icon Kate Moss still loves to rock the vest (p. 44).  Sections covered include dresses and skirts, tops and coats, pants and shorts, shoes and underthings. There is an index included.  This is a great tool not only for your teens, but for you - you can put together your own Fashion Jeopardy game as part of your Project Fashion program.  Or toss a bunch of thrift store clothes and have a Fashion 101 challenge where teens have 60 seconds to find something with an A-line collar, a dropped waistline, etc.

The Book of Styling: An insider's guide to creating your own look by Somer Flaherty helps teens find their fashion look with a handy quiz and then it helps you put together your "look".  This is an everything and the kitchen sink book of awesome fashion info.  And throughout there are little program snippets right there for you to use including creating a mood board (p. 18), a GNI with a themed movie night (p. 54) and making your own styling kit - one of my faves (p. 66-67).  Here we also discuss body type (Cameron Diaz is a rectangle while Drew Barrymore is an apple), shopping tips (buy used!), and styling others (in case you want to be a stylist).  I can picture using a bunch of Barbies and Barbie clothes to do some fun styling practice.  This is a case where thrift stores are your friend.  You could even deconstruct Barbie clothes to make originals.  Zombie isn't a style in the book of styling, but you can make awesome Zombie Barbies. Just saying. 

TPIB: Spatacular, turn your library into a stress busting spa

The fashion industry spends millions of dollars advertising to us girls.  I have no idea if my skin needs the $100.00 skin cream or the $200.00 one.  I just know that those little pimples that pop up (yes, still) are the bane of my existence.  Gah!  But - you can have a spa party at your library that emphasizes information over glamour and give teens some fun products they can make at home for a fraction of the cost.  You can also teach them some fun stress relief ideas because we all know, our teens are mega stressed out!

The Books

Girl in a Fix: Quick Beauty Solutions (and why they work) by Somer Flahery and Jen Kollmer
Girl in a Funk: Quick Stress Busters (and why they work) by Tanya Napier and Jon Kollmer
Skin: The Bare Facts by Lori Bergamottot

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dead Strange reads

What do Area 51, the Bermuda Triangle and The Great Pyramid at Giza all have in common?  They are some of the great world mysteries that we like to debate and discuss.  They are also some of the topics discussed in Dead Strange: the bizarre truths behind 50 world-famous mysteries by Matt Lamy.  Dead Strange is part of the Zest Books Pop Culture series, which I adore, so is written in the trusted and easy to browse format.  Like other topics in the series, it is a great resource for putting together trivia contests, doing a scavenger hunt and teaching teens how to use an index, and having fun with your various social media sites. 

Fun facts inside:
  • The Dead Sea scrolls do not mention Jesus
  • The Catholic church still performs exorcisms
  • The heads at Easter Island have bodies attached to them
  • Almost all cultures have a Flood myth/story
  • The London police may have invented sneakers while trying to solve the Jack the Ripper case
  • The Knights Templar invented banking - and checks
  • Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, is the most famous thing to come out of Scotland
  • Some Nostradamus prophecies have come true, including Hitler and World War II
  • There is still no verifiable scientific cause for spontaneous human combustion
  • Many of the stones at Stonehenge have been lost, stolen or collapsed
You can also pair up teen fiction titles with the various Dead Strange topics to create a fun display.  Here are a few of my favorites . . .

Book Review: Queer- The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke

 My Big Gay Revelation
 For me, the signs were probably there from the start. I was the kind of little
 kid who played dress-up in his mom’s clothes, ran around singing show tunes
 at the top of his voice, and pretend-flirted with other boys. (My parents even
 have pictures of me kissing one of my boy cousins on the lips when we were
 in diapers!) In grade school, I also fooled around with some other boys in my
 neighborhood and from my school. But I didn’t really think about it in terms
 of whether I was gay or straight or whatever. I knew lots of boys who did
 stuff like this, and it didn’t seem like a big deal. 

 It wasn’t until around sixth grade, when I started developing deep crushes on
 other boys, that I started thinking I might be a little different. But I still
 couldn’t put my finger on it. I had never even heard the word gay until some
 older boys from another school tried to insult me by calling me that. I did a
 little research in the library to find out more and discovered a whole history
 of people who not only had sex with people of the same gender but had
 passionate romantic relationships as well. In fact, there was an entire
 community of people who felt the same way I did; it was a delicious
 wonderland of queerness! I realized it was OK to like other boys in “that
 way,” and even though it took a little while to find other boys who liked me
 back, I knew that I wasn’t “abnormal” or “weird”—just a little bit different.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review: Regine's Book, a teen girl's last words by Regine Stokke

"Waiting for death is dehumanizing.  To feel your body just getting worse and worse. To have to wait for answers. For the only answer that matters: Will you live or will you die? Most teenagers spend their time worrying about how they've done on a test, but others - like me - wait to find out if they'll survive long enough to have another birthday. The world is unfair. For those of you who go on to live a long and happy life, I want you to try and give something back to the world. Think of all those other people whose lives are spent in suffering. Give. It is unbelievably important." (p. 111)

In Autumn of 2008 Regine Stokke became incredibly ill and was eventually diagnosed with cancer, more specifically a form of Leukemia.  She started a blog to share her story and it garnered a huge following with its heartbreaking and sincere look at life with cancer.  Her goal was to share what it is like to live with an illness, but as too often happens with cancer, it became a record of her last days.

"The fear of not existing never goes away." (p. 205)

Mike A. Lancaster, author of Human.4 and The Future We Left Behind weighs in on his Top 5 Sci-Fi least for today...

The top 5 of anything is difficult. So a top 5 science fiction books is always going to be a hard ask. I’ve chosen five books that made a huge impact upon me; that have stayed with me – some for decades; that have informed my writing life or taught me something new about my craft; or that are simply so good that I urge everyone to read them.

Are they the best science fiction novels ever written? I’m not going to make that claim. I’m sure people will notice my glaring omissions rather than celebrate my actual choices, but I’m okay with that. These are just the five books I want to tell you about.

Are they my absolute favourites? Today, yes. Ask me tomorrow and I may have a different answer.

87 Killer Parties: teen programs from 87 Ways to Throw a Killer Party

So I'm sitting at my desk and the PR department sends me an e-mail: They're putting together next month's calendar and I need to tell them what teen stuff I want to add. I need a handy tool that I can grab something out of and run with.  Wait, what's that you say?  87 Way to Throw a Killer Party by Melissa Daly.  Yes, I'll take one of those thank you.

Sometimes, I just need the spark of an idea and then I can run with it.  I am not ashamed to steal - I mean borrow, I am a librarian, we lend and borrow - ideas from others.  And here are 87 of them for you.  You can take the basic framework presented and augment it to fit your library needs. Let's examine a few, shall we . . .

Heroes and Villains Party (page 28)
This theme automatically makes me think of Comic Con, and I think every library should host it's own Comic Con if they have the staff, space and budget.  First, you obviously need to invite your teens to wear costumes to this event.  If you can, set up a photo booth.  We have gotten the local high school art club to paint wooden photo stands with the holes cut out for guests to put their heads through as well.  (Actually, I have also made my art major husband do these for me to.  I mean asked - I asked.)  You can also mix up some Kryptonite punch (recipe included in the book) and have a "cage match" where attendees vote by applause who will win.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Stephanie's Top 5 Sci-Fi Reads

I was never a big science fiction reader until college.  I thought that it was dorky and that I wouldn’t like any of it.  In college, however, I took this excellent class taught by Dr. Minor (RIP) and from that moment on, I am forever a sci-fi fan.

I love Mike A. Lancaster's book so much that I thought we could both write a list of our top 5 sci-fi books and then, when your teens get hooked to science fiction (or yourself) you would automatically have a reading list.  His is much more refined than mine but I was super excited that we both had 5 different titles!  So, here is my list of 5...and tomorrow, we will treat you to Mike's along with a contest!

1. Ubik by Philip K. Dick 

Book Review: Zoo Station (a memoir)- the story of Christiane F.

And then I had a thought:  I was the one scrounging to get all that money together, so at the very least I should try some of it.  Let's see if that stuff really is as good as everyone always makes it out to be , with their dreamy expressions and blissed-out looks.  That's really all I was thinking.  I didn't realize that over the past few months I'd been subconsciously getting myself ready for H.  I wasn't aware that I'd fallen into a deep, dark hole, and that the song "Station to Station" had knocked me down and run me over.  No other drug seemed like it could help me get out again, so all of a sudden, the next logical step down my path was obviously heroin.  All I could think about was that I didn't want those two junkies to walk away and leave me alone again- stuck in this fucking mess I was in.  I told them that I wanted to try some.  Chicken was barely coherent.  But he got really furious.  He said: " Don't do that.  You have no idea what you're doing.  If you do that, then you'll end up just like me in time flat.  Then you'll be a zombie, too."  He knew that we all called him that.
So despite what the newspapers always say, it wasn't like I'd been victimized by some evil dealer, or seduced by a junkie.  It wasn't at all the case that I'd been turned into a heroin addict against my will.  I don't know anyone who'd been forced to shoot up against his will.  Most teenagers get into H all on their own, when they think they're read for it, like I was.

Retro Movies with Reel Culture: 50 Classic Movies You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends) by Mimi O'Connor

Retro can be cool.  And let's face it, there are some great classic movies out there.  In fact, a lot of our ya lit, TV shows and movies like to drop those classic movie references in there and sometimes, teens can be lost.  But don't fear - there is a book to help! Isn't there always?

Reel Culture: 50 Classic Movies You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends) outlines 50 significant movies from 1938 to 1991. This is a great browsing titled put together in chronological order.  It is an interesting look at some of the classic movies that helped define our culture at the time; the movies that we keep going back to time and time again.  Each title has about a 2 to 3 spread that outlines the movie, answers what all the fuss is about and tells you the stuff that people are still talking about.  Reel Culture than gives you a few significant quotes from each movie: "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." (p. 13)

Reel Culture is part of Zest Books Pop Culture series (which also includes Scandalous, The End, Dead Strange, and How to Fight, Lie and Cry Your Way to Popularity (and a Prom Date).  Each book in the series has the same browsable format with insets of pictures, interesting facts and more.  Although teens will enjoy flipping through these titles, they will appeal to adults as well and they provide some good basis for teen programming.  Read on for some specific programming examples.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tales from the Crib: Babysitting 411 with Don't Sit on the Baby by Halley Bondy (TPIB)

Raise your hand if your first job was babysitting. (Karen raises hand.) Raise your hand if you had any clue what you were doing. (Karen puts hand down.)  In this post we talk about this great babysitting guide and I will share with you a step-by-step program to help give your teens the information they need to be great babyistters.  Read on.

Beginning sometime around the 6th or 7th grade, I began my illustrious career of babysitting.  I remember the first time I babysat for this one family, their "daughter" (I put daughter in quotes because she may have been a demon, I'm not really sure) locked the TV remote control in the bathroom.  When he parents came home the dad had to take the door off of the hinges if they ever wanted to change the channel again - or, you know, pee.  Surprisingly, it was the beginning of a beautiful babysitting relationship and every Thursday night the parents would go bowling and I would sit in their kitchen, talk on the phone and watch Twin Peaks and eat all of their food while their children slept.  Don't worry, before they slept I would do real babysitting stuff.

Speaking of real babysitting stuff, what exactly is that?  Don't Sit on the Baby: The Ultimate guide to Sane, Skilled and Safe Babysitting by Halley Bondy can help you with that part.  This is basically, and quite literally, the ABCs of babysitting.  Part A is the "babysitting breakdown", Part B covers essential skills, and Part C covers the business side of babysitting.  I love that this book has a  part c and includes things like making a resume and deciding how much to charge.  Having been on the other side of babysitting now, I hate when you ask how much they charge and they are all, "whatevs".  Not helpful.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Emotional Soundtrack: What Keeps Me Sane

So the other day I talked about things that I just couldn't go back to, even if I wanted to (if you missed it, go here).  Today, I thought that I'd share things that give me comfort.  It's a rocky place out there, and while I consider myself a stable person, there are things that can rock you to your core- things that happen with your teens/tween, within your professional life, within your personal life, or within the world in general.  We, as teen advocates, should be embodying and modeling ways that are at least generally healthy ways to cope with whatever life throws at us, because you never know who's watching.  We can (and do) break down in private, but we can't exactly go screaming through the stacks to let off steam, as much as we would like to.  Someone, unfortunately, is bound to notice, whether it's our teens, our patrons, or our boss.

So, I thought I'd share what keeps me as sane as I can be [which I've been told is up for doubt some days :) ], and please share yours in the comments below.  I think we'd all like to learn different ways to keep on keepin' on.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Get active, change the world: Social campaigns for teens (Teens Can Make a Difference)

If you spend any time looking at the 40 Developmental Assets (which you should), you'll note that several of them touch on the idea that teens want (and need) to have a sense of purpose and feeling of control over their lives and futures; they need to know that they can have a positive influence on the world in which they are living.  But if today's current spate of dystopian fiction is any indication, we are living in a world with an increasingly bleak looking future.  I think the popularity of dystopian fiction reflects some of the hopelessness and despair that is par for the course in the teen years, but it is also a distinct reflection of the economic despair and concern that influences our current climate.  Having given you that ultra cheery look at the current zeitgeist, let me tell you that there are people out there every day working to make positive changes in our world - and offering teens the opportunity to do the same.  Today I share with you several campaigns that you can share with your teens and help them get involved in being a positive force in the world - and helping them meet the 40 Developmental Assets in their lives.  Remember, more positive assets equals more positive teens.  Our job is to get the information to them, the rest is up to them.

Teenage Depression  * Bullying  *  Dating Violence  *  Human Trafficking  * Being a Guy  *  Being a Girl  * Saving the Earth  * and More . . .

Symposium in six words: Visuals and trust matter; reading's social.

I was very happy to be able to attend this year’s Symposium in St. Louis. The hotel was right across the street from the Arch, which was thrilling,
and the Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott decision began, is what I saw out the window each morning.  The Courthouse was an especially moving place to be. A courtroom had been restored to look like it might have during the case. Walking out of that room to see the sun shining through a skylight – just as Dred and Harriet Scott might have seen as free citizens – after the second case but before the devastating US Supreme Court decision took it away – was very powerful.

Aside from getting a history lesson I wished I had gotten in my own teen years, I learned a lot about what is happening for today’s teens. This was an incredibly useful conference, at which I took copious notes and tweeted like an actual Twitter person.  Instead of rehashing the excellent programs I went to individually, I'll play off the six word memoir trend with this six word summary of what I learned:

Visuals and trust matter; reading's social.

To further explicate...
The topic of the Symposium was “Hit Me with the Next Big Thing”, which each speaker interpreted differently. Across the many presentations that I attended or followed on Twitter (hashtag #yalit12 - check it out on Twitter or via Karin Perry's Storify) I noticed several themes came up again and again, with similar messages approached in different ways.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


There's been a lot of talk lately about some of the BIG issues in YA Lit, so take a moment to check out our posts about them:

Body Image

Is Fat the Last Acceptable Prejudice?
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
Today is Love Your Body Day


Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit

Family: Siblings, Parents and Grandparents

Multigenerational relationships in YA lit
Siblings? Family size in YA lit 


I'm Just a Girl? Gender issues in YA Lit


Guys and YA Lit with Eric Devine


You want to put WHAT in my YA?
Taking a Stand for What You Believe In

My Emotional Soundtrack: Things I Can't Go Back To by Christie G

As librarians and teen advocates, we are always talking (one way or another) about bibliotherapy- giving books to a patron as a type of therapy, a way to work out their problems and issues when they may not want or cannot talk to someone about it- whether it's drugs, death, abuse, or just questioning the world around them.  Media, whether it's books or movies or songs, can have such a lasting impression on a person that sometimes it's forever linked with a particular incident or a moment in time, and we encourage that in our culture.  We have "our song" for when we have special relationships, and we have "our favorite" movie, which we all know changes depending on the year.

: the use of selected reading materials as therapeutic adjuvants in medicine and in psychiatry; also : guidance in the solution of personal problems through directed reading

But what about the media that are tied to not-so-pleasant episodes in our personal soundtrack?  What books/movies/songs are tied to those icky bits that you can't bear to go back to?  I'll share with you mine, you share yours in the comments below...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review: Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Synopsis: On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go. (from Goodreads)

It has always bothered me that libraries have Science Fiction sections and then we interfile Fantasy books as if they are one and they same; they are not sir.  To completely oversimplify things: Sciency things are science fiction while things with magic and dragons are fantasy.  An exception to this rule would be the Dragonriders of Pern series by McCaffrey as her dragons are genetically engineered, so sciency.  (Two points: 1. yes I know sciency isn't a word and 2 Georgia McBride from Month9Books will soon be doing a Genre 101 post so check back for a better explanation, this is just a book review).