Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu (reviewed by Chris D)

Legend by Marie Lu was a pretty unconventional choice of reads for me in the sense that it has some pretty strong romantic undertones (you know… actual human feelings.)  But I needed to pull the car out of the ditch and read something with some emotional depth rather than just for a good story.  Fortunately this has both.

In my opinion, you can never go wrong with dystopian, but this one really played to my love of history.  The book takes place, from what I can gather, about 100 years in the future and revolves around the lives of two distinctly different characters living in the flooded remains of Los Angeles, California in the “Republic of America”.  Chapters alternate between the two characters, one being a 15 year old criminal known as Day, trying to save his younger brother from a fatal flu.  The other, June, is a young, prodigious military cadet born into one of the Republic’s elite families.

After some unknown calamity (possibly a global flu pandemic or runaway climate change) the continental US is broken up into two countries; the Republic and the Colonies.  Another faction is mentioned, the Patriots, who seem to be a terrorist organization working against the Republic government.   The constant state of war among the groups reminds me of the civil war and brings to mind other works of fiction concerning a “second civil war,” such as many of the Harry Turtledove novels.

Salon and the Shushing Librarian

Things I Never Learned in Library School: To Shush or Not To Shush?

Just the other day I mentioned that I thought, perhaps, maybe, there should be a little more shushing in the library.  I know - it seems such a treasonous thought and sets back the fight against stereotypes 100s of years.   See: Renegade Library Thoughts.

Then today, I open up my browser and cruise online to find THIS article entitled Bring Back Shushing Librarians at (by Laura Miller)

Let's get the obvious out of the way, shall we?  Seriously, speaking of stereotypes, could they have found a more stereotypical picture to illustrate this piece? At least they mention that we are "highly skilled, well educated and socially aware."  Moving on.

Salon is referencing the latest finding of a PEW study that looks at what library users want from libraries and fourth on that list is "quiet study spaces for adults and children." 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

TPiB: The Fairy Garden (inspired by Return to Me by Justina Chen)

If you have visited a nursery lately, you have probably seen container gardens put together in whimsical ways and called "fairy gardens".  There are tons of places in stores and online that sell items to make your own, but they are not cheap.  I have been wanting to make one for a while now and then I began reading Return to Me by Justina Chen and knew I could wait no longer.

Return to Me is the story of Rebecca Muir, who is getting ready to leave for college when her entire life falls apart.  Her father leaves the family and it turns out that everything she thought she knew about herself and her family may be a lie.  Sometimes, we don't really know the people we love the most.

Return to Me is a thoughtful, spiritual journey of one young woman who must come to terms with radical change and accept parts of herself that she has long tried to deny.  It is about accepting yourself, forgiving others, and opening yourself up to love even if it means there is a chance that others can hurt you.

The mystery of movie making made simple: There's an app for that

You can use iMovie to create fun movie trailers that will work as commercials for your library, an individual program or your SRP.  Here's a tutorial on how to use it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Graphic Novel Review: Once Upon a Time Machine, reviewed by Karen D

 photo 15739430_zps59600daa.jpg

Once Upon a Time Machine 
edited by Andrew Carl, Chris Stevens, and Jason Rodriguez
Graphic Novel Anthology
Oct. 2012

Book Jacket Summary
Fairy tales have fueled our dreams and fired our imaginations for centuries. Step inside a time
machine built by a collection of today's finest storytellers, and enter a range of futures where familiar tales are reimagined in an astonishing variety of styles. Editor Andrew Carl and Producer Chris Stevens bring you the next wave of leading writers and illustrators, working alongside superstar creators like Farel Dalrymple (Pop Gun War), Ryan Ottley (Invincible), Khoi Pham (Daredevil), and Brandon Graham (King City) to deliver a reading experience that will delight generations young and old.

My Thoughts

This graphic novel anthology was a play on fairy tales set in an alternate reality or the far future. 

John Henry is a space mechanic that is being replaced by machines. Pinocchio is a computer that wants to be real. The Three Billy Goats Gruff is a girl trying to get medicine in an abandon city with robots guarding the buildings. The Tortoise and the Hare is a dangerous race with traps and betrayal. 

These stories are creative and vary from author to author. The artwork is suburb in each story and I found myself wondering what other works some of the artist have done. There were also panels between stories with a look at Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs that I would have loved to see in actual stories. I guess there is the expression- Always leave them wanting more! 

Teens will love the updated stories and I know there is an artwork style in this book that will for them.

Cover Reveal: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield

In this heart-wrenching and suspenseful teen thriller, sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.
Sometimes you have to be your own hero.

From the author:
Like I did with SCARS and HUNTED, I drew on some of my own experiences of bullying, abuse, and trauma to write STAINED and to give it greater emotional depth. Like Sarah in STAINED, I experienced abduction, imprisonment, periods of forced starvation, mind control, and having my life threatened. And like Sarah, I tried hard to fight against my abuser, keep my own sense of self, and escape. I hope readers will see Sarah's strength and courage, and appreciate her emotional growth as she reclaims herself.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 19, 2013

Cheryl Rainfield is the author of several gripping, realistic novels for teens including:
Parallel Visions: Kate sees visions of the future--but only when she has an asthma attack.
Hunted: Caitlyn is a telepath in a world where having any paranormal power is illegal. Monica Hughes Award finalist
Scars: Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself before it's too late. GG Literary Award Finalist, YALSA's Top 10 Quick Picks. 
Available For Pre-Order on:

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Day In the Life of a Library: Lock-In Preparation

A lock-in can be extremely rewarding for teens and libraries if done the proper way.  You, the teen services specialist, need buy in not only from your teens (which is relatively easy- I mean, if you don't have teens clamoring to stay all night in the library, email me, we need to talk), but also within your community (meaning the parents/guardians and other patrons) and your administration (not only your boss, but your director, the Friends of the Library, and the Library Board).  Getting that buy-in may not always be easy, but if you have a secure plan in place, I find it's a sure-fire way to start.

I have always tied mine in with a reading program (summer or winter) in order to have the teens EARN the privileged to stay the night.  I know that other libraries may not do this (I know others have special lock-ins for TAG groups, for instance) but I work (and have worked) in areas where teens need that extra push to read- they need a goal to work for, and the prizes that we're able to give may not be the encouragement that they need.  Having adults that care enough to spend the night with them, and crazy enough to plan fun and interesting activities, shows that there is someone out there that wants them to succeed enough to devote the time and energy to them.  And it is a LOT of time and energy, so much that I don't think anyone really realizes it from the outside. I know that a lot of my teens don't. On lock-in days alone, I am physically AT my building starting at 5 p.m., and do not leave before 8:30 a.m. the next morning (15 1/2 hours).  In addition, on lock-in days, I am gathering donations from sponsors and collecting last minute necessities and prepping for the day.  Easily, I work (and I mean WORK) 20 hours on a lock-in day.

A typical lock-in day will go like this:

Book Review: October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman

I first heard about October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard from Terri Lessene at the 2012 YALSA YA Literature Symposium, who described it by saying:

"it introduces Matthew Shepard to a generation too young to remember him."  

My heart sank when I heard that. Matthew Shepard's story was pivotal for me and many of my contemporaries.  I was two years younger, three inches taller, and twenty pounds heavier than him when this slight, bright, trusting young gay man was beaten to death in a hate crime that would later play a part in national hate crime legislation. A number of of my friends and classmates were in the midst of coming out, and Matthew Shepard's murder was a shattering event.

With the passage of time, most names and lives and stories will be forgotten,  but this is one name, life, story, that needs to remain in the public memory, and this slim volume is a beautiful, powerful way to aid in this.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Reflections: Renegade Library Thoughts

Like all professions, library land is full of its own sacred cows.  Today, I reflect on some of them as I wrestle with what I think of those sacred cows. 

Not everyone a reader, and that's okay

When a teen says they don't like to read, librarians have a tendency to say things like "You just haven't found the right book yet."  But you know, I have never found the right sport.  That's right, I hate sports.  I do not watch them.  I have seen at least one of each sport live and nope, it didn't make me a fan.  I think the reality is that some people are just not ever going to be pleasure readers - and that's okay.  Now, don't get me wrong, I think that everyone should know how to read.  Literacy is an important goal and key to life long success.  But at the end of the day is everyone going to walk into their house, throw their keys down on the table and pick up a book to spend their evening reading?  No, and that's okay.  We still have the information that they need to meet their needs when they get a new diagnosis at the doctor's office, or they want to research the best new car to buy, or when they want to learn how to garden or sew or cook.  Libraries have value beyond book circulation.  It breaks my heart when someone doesn't love reading the way I do, but I am coming to accept that for some people, reading will never be their "thing" and that is okay.

Reading by any other name?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Montgomery County Book Festival

I'm going to go meet Jonathan Maberry! Keynote Speaker

40 + Authors at the NEW
Montgomery County Book Festival
 February 2, 2013
Free Event Offers Area Readers of All Ages
a Chance to Meet Authors
And Enjoy Music, Food and Books

The NEW Montgomery County Book Festival presents over 40 authors on February 2, 2013. The list includes authors who write for Children, Teens, and Adults. The Opening Keynote author is NY Times Best Seller, Jonathan Maberry.  The Closing Keynote author, also a NY Times Best Seller, is Sherrilyn Kenyon.  There is a special presentation during the lunch hour by local author, Deeanne Gist.  Ten author panels repeat twice during the three panel sessions.  Many local authors are moderating the panels.  Short book signing sessions are scheduled between author panel sessions, as is a general signing session after the Closing Keynote.  See the website for the full list of authors.  Books are sold by Murder By the Book, food and drinks for sale at the concession and entertainment from a live DJ will provide music. Through the generosity of our donors, the Festival is free and open to the general public. It will be held at Lone Star College – Montgomery at 3200 College Park Drive, The Woodlands, Texas, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

For more information visit the website:
Join us on Facebook; Twitter @montcobookfest
Contact: Tabatha Perry, President;

Friday, January 25, 2013

Why YA? (again): Fear and loathing in YA literature

Last year, there was some brouhaha about the YA Literature label that prompted me to write a defense of YA Lit and sparked a series of posts where many of us - librarians, authors, readers - shared our favorite YA titles and what made them rich, moving pieces of literature.

Fast forward to now.  I have been loving and looking forward to the upcoming movie release of Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.  It has zombies, a definite plus in my book.  And this is a title - like the works of Daniel Kraus - that has wide age and cross genre appeal.  So imagine my surprise when today I became aware of a post at Read Now Sleep Later in which blogger Alathea discusses Marion's views on having his book, Warm Bodies, labelled as YA.  Needless to say, they aren't pretty.

It's a Mystery, how to find mysteries with an inspriational message

When young mystery lovers plow through Ladd Family Adventure Series and the Boxcar Children, it becomes harder to find appealing books in the genre without a dark mix of violence, sex and the occult.

Some Christian authors, however, are striving to fill that void through mysteries that delicately weave biblical principles into the plot. Among them is Virginia Ann Work, author of the Jodi Fisher Mysteries, and Robert Elmer, author of The Adventures Down Under series.

Work’s book, The Mystery of the Missing Message, is the tale of Jodi Fischer and her friend Lexie Marshal, who find a missing wallet and baby’s sock while riding their horses. They also discover a mysterious cabin they would have thought was deserted -- if not for the sound of a footstep inside.

Jodi’s mom and dad are missionaries to the Indians in Canada, which lends itself easily to sharing biblical principles.

TPIB: Guitar Pick Jewelry (a recycled craft)

Several months ago, I bought my girls guitar pick necklaces at a local craft fair.  A few weeks later, Christie sent me an e-mail, she had found a guitar pick punch.  I didn't have to buy the necklaces - I could make my own! And wouldn't this be the best craft idea ever with my tweens and teens? Why yes, yes it would.

So, I bought the punch and had a program with my library teens where we made guitar pick jewelry.  You can purchase the guitar pick punch at or at ThinkGeek.

In addition to making guitar pick jewelry, I had it set up so that teens can play Guitar Hero in the background.  This helped them manage waiting to take turns for certain steps of the process.  And Guitar Hero - that's an appropriate tie-in.

Available from Think Geek
Here's what you'll need
Guitar pick punch
Discarded magazines
Colored card stock
Clear contact paper
Jewelry findings for bracelets and ear rings
Cording for necklaces
Additional decorative beads
A sewing needle

A Quick Tip
The guitar pick punch is designed to be used with harder plastic items that can actually be used as a pick, like discarded credit cards.  Because the magazine pages themselves are too thin, we found it worked better if you reinforced the image you wanted to make your guitar pick out of by adhering it to card stock on the back and covering it with clear contact paper on

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The post in which I rant about book covers, again

Time and time again, we read about the white washing of book covers.  And all those pretty book covers with model like beauties with long, flowing hair wearing long, flowing dresses - usually seen gracing the covers of paranormal romance. (See: Body Image and YA Book Covers)  But today THEY HAVE GONE TO FAR.

Book cover from, you can go buy the book there if you want.

“Red hair is my life long sorrow.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables 

You Mock My Printz! The 10-1 Book Club

This past October, sixteen freshmen and sophomores got together in their school library, after school, with the express goal of finding the best teen book of the year over the four months that would follow.  It's a big job, but they had plenty of help on hand: five librarians, four public and one school, that had come together to make the job a fun and easy one.  Recently, I wrote about the benefits of networking with teen services librarians in nearby locations.  This school year, one of my networking projects has been this multi-library book club that began as a combination joint TAB and Mock Printz book discussion group.  The 10 to 1 Book Club meets between October (10) and January (1) and narrows the field from ten books to the one it thinks is the best of the bunch.  It's been a real success, and we are extra excited heading toward the Youth Media Awards to see how close we came to matching the Printz award and honors books.

It's not always straightforward to connect teens with the newest, best reviewed fiction.  Library budget and processing cycles mean it may be months before a newly released book makes it onto the shelves.  Heavy course loads and highly demanding extracurriculars limit the amount of time teens have to read recreationally.  Busy teens have difficulties making it to the library between school, sports, extracurriculars, jobs, family responsibilities, and doing that essential teen task: hanging out.  Additionally, we have noticed that while participation may be strong early in the school year, as obligations mount, attendance can dwindle in the springtime.  Our book club took both of these factors into account.  We have structured the group for the teens, making it easy for them to get to the meetings by spreading them around at the four local libraries as well as the school library, and only meeting between October and January.  We have all made a commitment to providing multiple copies of the books, and using displays, and the same bookmarks, posters, and stickers to promote them at all of the libraries.

All involved libraries used uniform signs, spine labels, and bookmarks to highlight the titles.

Choosing the books

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Teaching Empathy: The Clever Stick by John Lechner, a tool for discussing Autism

The Clever Stick is a quiet fable about a stick, who has always been clever and been able to think many wonderful thoughts. But the stick has one problem – he can’t speak. So he cannot share his thoughts with any of the forest creatures he meets.

Regular readers know, I care about Autism.  Three of my nephews are on the spectrum, severely low functioning, non verbal.  But one of my nephews does the most amazing thing using those little wooden

Book Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt (with a TPIB)

Tonight we're going to party likes it's 1962!

When you find that your boyfriend is cheating on you with a cyber wife, there is only one thing you can do - swear off all technology and return to a time where life was simpler.  That's right, Mallory is Going Vintage.  Back to the 1960s, 1962, to be exact.  Mallory finds a "to do" list from her grandmother's Junior year and decides she is going to complete it for her.  All she has to do is:
(1) find a steady boyfriend (for someone)
(2) become secretary of the pep club (but she'll have to start it first)
(3) sew her own Homecoming dress (in just a couple of weeks)
(4) host a dinner party and
(5) do something dangerous

Seems easy enough, right?  But living without modern day conveniences can be a drag, although an often humorous one.  Breaking up is hard to do, and finding yourself can be even harder.  

I will tell you right off the bat, Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt gets 4.5 out of 5 stars and I think everyone should read this book.  Why?  In the spirit of the list making mania in Going Vintage, I will tell you in list format.  Lists are a thing in Going Vintage, Mallory uses them a lot. They are part of what make this book fun to read. And quirky.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What Makes a Mystery GOOD (guest post by Jennifer Rummel)

Get a Clue!

What Makes a Mystery GOOD? I’m a sucker for mysteries. I like the murder mysteries best and I’m always on the lookout for more teen mysteries. The bulk of mysteries I read are adult cozies, often from a series.  Here’s what I like about mysteries.

The Top 10 Clues to a Mystery

A Great Cover
The cover (and the title) draws the reader in initially. With so many books, the few teen mysteries might lose out to other genres. Having a great cover will draw readers to the book, even if they aren’t necessarily mystery readers.  One of my favorite teen mystery covers and titles is Death by Bikini.

Book Review: Sparks by S.J. Adams

Ten Commandments of the Holy Church of Blue
  1. Matters of the heart come first.  Especially someone else's heart.
  2. Be thou not an asshole.  This is the point to all religion.  Everything else is just commentary.  But exceptions can be made for people who deserve it.
  3. Goest thou on holy quests- do amazing things.  Silly, helpful, and seemingly pointless things are also acceptable.
  4. Taketh thou any detours or side trips or odd suggestions that come up, for they will lead thee to knowledge, and to adventure, and bring thee closer to Blue.
  5. Never put thy words in the mouth of Blue. Thou knowest not what sort of Spark of Blue is inside of thee, or what sort is inside of others. The entire Church of Blue is an educated guess. Remember this. Don't get cocky.
  6. Floss thy fucking teeth. Thou only getteth one set.
  7. Weareth thou no garment that costeth thou more than a tank of gas.
  8. Thou Shalt Not Maketh Thy Home in Nebraska (Nebraska is bluish hell).

Monday, January 21, 2013

TPIB: Flashback Movie Nights

I LOVE having movie nights with my teens.  It doesn't matter what type of movie it is, it seems like we always have a good time, and it is one of my least labor-intensive programs because I find the movie, double check that it works with my umbrella movie licensing agreement, figure out a simple craft that they can do while watching or just have tables out so they can doodle or do homework or duel, and BOOM, instant program!

It seems that recently with my teens the older the movie is, the better the response.  I'm not sure why that is.  It may be that they're not familiar with the older movies (when we watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off, there was only one in the audience that knew the movie).  It may the fact that the areas where I've always worked are the areas that give the movie industries nightmares and me explaining over and over that it has to be legally in Wal-Mart and Target before I can show it or I'll get fired. (Miss, I have The Hobbit on DVD, can we watch it?  My uncle got it at the gas station, and it's even in English.  Or what about Warm Bodies? He can get that one, can we watch it for our February movie?).  I've shown Where is Roger Rabbit?, Ferris Bueller, Cry Baby, and as much as I want to show them The Lost Boys, The Blues Brothers or The Breakfast Club, I'm prevented by my current system from showing R-rated movies, even with permission slips in hand.

Book Review: Scowler by Daniel Kraus

Some children are born to monsters, and 19-year-old Ryan Burke is one of those boys.  He grew up on a farm under the thumb of a monster wearing the mask of a man, a man that he called father.  As his father's violence grew, Ryan shrank.  Until one morning, his father tells him his mother is sick and he should not bother her in any way.  Ryan knows that something beyond a beating from a baseball bat has taken place, and he looks.  In this single event, life forever changes and his family decides to run.  Ryan runs for 36 hours and in many ways, he is never the same again.

Fastforward to the present time: The monster wearing a man's face sits in jail, the farm has stopped producing anything of value, and the remaining family are waiting to move any day now and start a new life.  Ryan's sister looks up to the sky waiting for a coming meteorite shower, but that is not the only storm that is coming.  The night the meteorite falls will change everything forever, and once again Ryan and his family will find themselves trying to run from unspeakable terror.

Daniel Kraus is the author of Rotters, a book that still haunts me to this day.  I was anxiously looking forward to this new release.  From the title to the premise, I have been intrigued.  While reading Scowler, I live tweeted my thoughts.  You can read the Tweet review, or jump below to the longer, traditional review. Scowler by Daniel Kraus will be published in March of 2013 by Delacorte Press. ISBN: 978-0-385-74309-9. This review refers to an advanced readers copy.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What I DIdn't Learn In Library School: Making Conferences Successful: Christie's Version

If you know anything by now, you know I don't tend to run in normal circles, no matter what I look like.  So it stands to reason that I don't do conferences as a normal, either. Maybe it's the anxiety, maybe it's my brain, who knows, but I just don't seem to fit a typical conference go-er.  I like doing it my way, and it works- I come back energized  refreshed, and ready to tackle new things and ideas.  It's completely the point of a conference to me. How do I do it?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

SOHO Teen Presents...Deviant by Helen FitzGerald

When 16-year-old Abigail's mother dies in Scotland--leaving a faded photo, a weirdly cryptic letter, and a one-way ticket to America--she feels nothing. Why should she? Her mother gave her away when she was a baby, leaving her to grow up on an anti-nuclear commune and then in ugly foster homes. But the letter is a surprise in more ways than one: Her father is living in California. What's more, Abigail discovers she has an eighteen-year-old sister, Becky. And the two are expecting Abigail to move in with them.

After struggling to overcome her natural suspicions of a note from beyond the grave (not to mention anything positive) Abigail grows close to her newfound sister. But then Becky is found dead, the accidental victim of an apparent drug overdose. As Abigail wrestles with her feelings and compiles a "Book of Remembrance" of her sister's short life, she uncovers a horrifying global plot aimed at controlling teen behavior: one that took her sister's and mother's lives, with vast implications.

I've only read an excerpt of this one so far and my mind is already buzzing around the possibilities!  First off, Abigail is a Scottish foster teen.  And from the way she describes it, it pretty much resembles the crumbling foster system that I am used to working with with my foster home youth.  She was abandoned as a baby and given to a woman to live with who was the only family that Abigail had ever known.  At the age of nine, the woman tells Abigail she has cancer and within a week, she is dead, thrusting Abigail into the System.

Now, seven years later, Abigail finds out her birth mother has died and left her a large sum of money, a letter telling her her father is alive, and a ticket to Los Angeles.  So many questions for a young girl who trusts no one...

I cannot wait to read the rest of this one!!!!  I'm already on pins and needles wanting to know what will happen next!


Today is the last day to enter the SOHO Teen giveaway!!!!  We will announce the winners on Monday!  Good luck and have a great weekend!

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Friday, January 18, 2013

SOHO Teen Presents...The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble

“I found out two things today. One, I think I’m dying. And two, my brother is a perv.”

So begins the diary of 14-year-old Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad eighth-grade year. Her single mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her 16-year-old brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs— difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.

Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her. Beatified. Literally. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that Casey didn’t survive the accident at all. He’s an “A-word.” (She can’t bring herself to utter the truth.) Soon they discover that Jenna isn’t just dying: she’s being poisoned. And Casey has been sent back to help solve the mystery that not only holds the key to her survival, but also to their mother’s mysterious depression and father’s disappearance.

Let's give some mad props to Joy Preble for setting this book in Houston, Texas!  I love Southern settings for books that aren't total overkill.  So, woot for Texas.

Now, let's also give some mad props to one of the most talked about books amongst myself and other librarians because everyone is wanting to read this book, they all love the cover, and for those who have read it, RAVE about it.   

I love it because it is finally a MG mystery that isn't Gilda Joyce.  Don't get me wrong, my teens read Gilda Joyce books but this is one that looks YA and is just as easily enjoyed by MG readers as older adult readers.  Jenna is funny without being overly sarcastically annoying and the whole concept is fresh.  Order it now and read an'll love it!

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Some Good Advice

"Dear Abby, My parents don't let me go out with my friends, even though I'm an A student."

"Dear Abby, My dad is overseas in the military and my mom seems like she's under a lot of stress and is taking it out on me."

Dear Abby wrote a book for teens in 1960. Image via cc on Flickr.
Pauline Phillips passed away this week.  For decades she doled out advice and quips to dedicated readers everywhere in her syndicated Dear Abby column.  I was a loyal reader, especially in my teen years when everything seemed so topsy-turvy and as a shy person, I was loathe to ask advice of anyone who actually knew me.  Reading her column, I imagined myself in her readers' shoes, wondered what the rest of their lives were like, pondered just what brought them to put pen to paper and write to a newspaper columnist - not a stranger, just a friend who hadn't met them yet.

"Dear Abby, I think I'm in love... but he's much older than me..."

"Dear Abby, I had a miscarriage.  I can't tell anyone.  I'm fifteen."

Get Your Generations On! (Older characters in YA lit - and my grandma)

It seems a truism in YA lit that adults often seem far and few between.  Even when they are there, they don't often play a significant role. And older adults? Forget about it.  I have really been thinking about this since our discussion earlier this week about siblings in YA lit: Siblings? We don't need no stinkin' siblings.  I guess I have been thinking about family dynamics and multi-generational characters in the lives of teens.

My favorite memories are of those moments spent at my grandparents house. My grandma knew all my favorite foods and would make them every time I cam to visit.  As a young child, I would go to the grocery store with her and she would buy me and 8 pack of crayons and a coloring books.  Even when I visited during college, she would take me to the grocery store and buy me and 8 pack of crayons and a coloring book, for memory sake.  When I had children of my own, she began taking them and buying them an 8 pack of crayons and - yep - a coloring book.

Two of my favorite people
In the last few months of my grandfather's life he developed dementia.  Sometimes, while we were sitting at the dinner table, his mind would slip back into the past and he would talk about things as if he was in another time and place.  I got a glimpse of life in the past, and to be honest, it wasn't always pretty.  In those moments I learned that my grandfather was not always the man I thought he was, but I also learned that over the space of a lifetime people grow and change.

In high school, we had an assignment where we had to interview a World War II survivor to learn first hand what the world was like then.  I will never forget sitting knee to knee with this older gentleman and learning about the hunger that sat constantly in the pit of his belly, the long lines at the gas stations as you waited to get just the few gallons of gas your ration coupons would buy, the feeling of knowing that a loved one was never coming home.

My experiences with my own grandparents always makes me think, it is too bad we don't show more multi-generational relationships in ya lit.  So today, I want to spotlight a few titles that I think show the wisdom that comes from being in relationship with the generations before us.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

SOHO Teen Presents...Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon

17-year-old Sophie lies on her deathbed in California, awaiting the inevitable loss of her battle with cancer…
17-year-old Declan stares down two armed thugs in a back alley in Galway, Ireland…
17-year-old Anat attempts to traverse a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt…

All three strangers should have died at the exact same moment, thousands of miles apart. Instead, they awaken together in an abandoned hospital—only to discover that they’re not alone. Three other teens from different places on the globe are trapped with them. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With their individual clocks ticking, they must band together if they’re to have any hope of surviving. 

Soon they discover that they've been trapped in a future that isn't of their making: a deadly, desolate world at once entirely familiar and utterly strange. Each teen harbors a secret, but only one holds the key that could get them home. As the truth comes to light through the eyes of Sophie, Declan, and Anat, the reader is taken on a dark and unforgettable journey into the hearts of teens who must decide what to do with a second chance at life.

I am already a huge fan of Michelle Gagnon after reading Don't Turn Around and while I have only read an excerpt of this novel, she definitely does not disappoint.   The book opens with each character describing their time of death, some sudden and some expected but all three pack a powerful punch into this time-traveling mystery.  

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SOHO Teen Giveaway

Today is GIVEAWAY and CONTEST day, it seems, at Teen Librarian Toolbox!  Earlier, we talked about the Guitar Notes and Luna Guitar Contest, and we're also having a most excellent giveaway by SOHO Teen!  If you missed hearing about them, see our introduction post from Monday.  If you're going to ALA Midwinter in Seattle, make sure to put them on your list of must sees and stop by Booth 2542.  Tell them Teen Librarian Toolbox sent you!  

And if you haven't already, enter our giveaway for books and prizes!

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Win a Signed Copy of Guitar Notes AND a Luna Guitar!!!!

So, back in August, Karen wrote about her love for Guitar Notes by Mary Amato.  It was so wonderful, it made Karen's 2012 List of Favorite Reads.  Now, Egmont USA (publishers of Guitar Notes) and Luna Guitars are coming together to give away a signed copy of Guitar Notes and a beautiful Safari travel-sized guitar and backpack case to help unleash your inner songwriter.  

Entries will be accepted January 15 through February 12.  Enter through the Luna Guitars website.

Details and rules:

The Mary Amato Safari Tattoo Contest Rules



The Luna Gift of Music promotion is open to any citizen of planet Earth, with the following exception. Employees, officers and directors of Luna Guitars and its respective parents, subsidiaries, consultants, agents and suppliers, as well as their immediate families and persons living in the same household as such individuals, are not eligible to enter or win.


Promotion begins January 15, 2013 7AM EST and ends February 12, 2013 at 6PM EST. Winner will be announced February 15, 2013 in the TRIBE TALK newsletter from Luna and on the blog of Egmont USA children's publisher based in Manhattan.


To enter the Safari Tattoo Contest, you must register at least email address, first name, and last name, using the link on the Contest Entry page. LIMIT ONE (1) ENTRY PER EMAIL ADDRESS FOR THIS PROMOTION. (Note that this will also add contestant to the TRIBE TALK subscription list.) 


The winner will be randomly selected betweenFebruary 12th and February 14th, 2013. If a potential winner cannot be contacted or the prize notification is returned as undeliverable, that winner will be disqualified and an alternate winner may be selected.


Safari Tattoo Guitar plus padded gig bag, and an autographed copy of Guitar Notes by Mary Amato


The name and hometown of the winner shall be published February 15, 2013 in the TRIBE TALK newsletter from Luna and on the blog of Egmont USA, a children's publisher based in Manhattan. The winner will also be contacted via his or her registered email address and be available afterward through Luna's newsletter archive page.

SOHO Teen Presents...Escape Theory by Margaux Froley

Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counselor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the-wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide.

 Devon dives into her new role providing support for Hutch’s friends, but she’s haunted by her own attachment to him. The two shared an extraordinary night during their first week freshman year; it was the only time at Keaton when she felt like someone else really understood her.  As the secrets and confessions pile up in her sessions, Devon comes to a startling conclusion: Hutch couldn't have taken his own life. Bound by her oath of confidentialityand tortured by her unrequited love—Devon embarks on a solitary mission to get to the bottom of Hutch's death, and the stakes are higher than she ever could have imagined.

While the concept of boarding school mystery isn't exactly new, the way that Escape Theory takes it on totally is.  The chapters are split into sessions that Devon has as a peer counselor and really moves the story along as the mystery of what happened to Hutch starts to unravel.  

I love Devon's voice and again, another excellent addition to the SOHO Teen imprint.  That's three months of excellent mysteries back to back...I couldn't be any more pleased! 

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Siblings? We don't need no stinkin' siblings (Family in YA Lit)

The other day an interesting conversation popped up on my Twitter feed, which I then hijacked.  Lindsey Leavitt (@lindsey_leavitt), Jessica Day George (@JessDayGeorge), and Shannon P (@StalkintheBooks) were talking about the way that siblings, and a lack thereof, were depicted in YA Lit.  It really put me in a position to pause and think about diversity in a new way, and challenge my own personal bias.

The Twitter Talk

It all began when I saw a Tweet from Jessica Day George challenging that notion that all siblings fight, which is the trend in ya lit as she sees it.  So we began chatting back and forth about family dynamics.  Where were the families with 3 or more siblings?  Why were siblings always engaged in such hostile relationships?  So I have spent some time these last few days thinking about diversity in ya lit and how that applies to things beyond just race and religion, but to family structures.

Examining Personal Bias

SOHO Teen Presents...Who Done It?

Can you imagine the most cantankerous book editor alive? Part Voldemort, part Cruella de Vil (if she were a dude), and worse in appearance and odor than a gluttonous farm pig? A man who makes no secret of his love of cheese or his disdain of unworthy authors? That man is Herman Mildew.

The anthology opens with an invitation to a party, care of this insufferable monster, where more than 80 of the most talented, bestselling and recognizable names in YA and children’s fiction learn that they are suspects in his murder. All must provide alibis in brief first-person entries. The problem is that all of them are liars, all of them are fabulists, and all have something to hide...

Okay, so a few things before I talk about this book.  This anthology featuring stories from some of the gods and goddesses of YA literature was written to benefit 826NYC which you may or may not have heard of.  I had not.  So, I went to their website and was amazed.  From their mission statement: 826NYC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our belief that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this in mind we provide drop-in tutoring, field trips, after-school workshops, in-schools tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of our free programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student's power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.

Super awesome.  This makes me want to buy tons of this book and pass it out to everyone that I know because not only does it benefit a nonprofit which sounds AH-MAZING, but it features stories by some of my favorite authors!

When I first picked up this book, I almost put it down.  I am not a short story kind of person and anthologies remind me of being an English undergrad and give me the heebie jeebies.  But upon opening the book, I quickly realized that this book was not like any other anthology I'd ever seen.

What the synopsis does not mention is that this party is held in an old abandoned pickle factory (mentioned on the invitation) and immediately you realize that this is a book that is just a little different.  You see, all of the 80+ YA authors have written a short story to prove their innocence.  And if you are fans of these authors, the stories are perfect representations of their personalities, their writing styles, their tweets (if you're a big Maureen Johnson fan), and each one had me rolling on the floor laughing.

Not only is this book perfect for your collections but perfect for your reluctant readers.  I found myself flipping around and reading the book in little five minute segments.  Short attention span readers? Done.

Definitely a perfect addition to the SOHO Teen lineup and shows the big time variety of the books that this imprint plans to publish.  

And now I want to eat pickles.  Maybe that's just the pregnancy talking...


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Monday, January 14, 2013

SOHO Teen Presents...What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.”

On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most.

I was lucky enough to read this book before the week kicked off and let me just tell you, when it comes to fact, no let me show you.  Because I had to Google and find videos to really understand this concept:

Okay, so now that you understand the concept of this awesome sport it will help you understand how different and awesome this book is!  Allie, Rob, and Juliet with their fatal allergy to sunlight must find some fun thing to do at night when hanging out and this is their newly discovered passion.  However, while scaling buildings one night, Allie is pretty sure she witnesses a murder.  Her friends semi-believe her but it is a bit hard to believe and so Allie decides that she will just figure this out all on her own. This book is rife with new concepts in YA literature and involves such a great cast of characters that it is a perfect read for guys and girls.  

The mystery, the suspense...all there and in perfect amounts for the teen reader who wants more than a hokey mystery novel but a mystery novel that even adults would love too.  All in all, very impressive debut book from SOHO Press and I can't wait to tell you more about the rest of the books this week!


And now, Jacquelyn Mitchard will share her awesome answers to some of the questions that I sent over for her!

Favorite book when you were a child: Charlotte's Web, by EB White

Book you've faked reading: Remembrance of Things Past (OMG BORING)

Something others think is completely weird about me but I find completely normal is: I have a morbid fear of eggs because they're one cell

If stranded on a desert island, what are the five items you would bring with you? My iPad (if I had one), my dog (Dante), Nonfat Vente Salted Caramel Mocha Extra Hot with Whip, Philosophy Amazing Grace Body Butter, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, my Maui Jim's (that's six, but I don't really HAVE the iPad)

Most embarrassing teen moment: At awards night, I got up and actually started walking up the aisle to accept the English prize only to realize that they'd called Linda Bubon's name

What was the happiest day of your life? The day I found out I was pregnant, and the day I found out I wasn't pregnant

Do you have a favorite mystery writer and what book would you recommend by this writer for all to read? Denise Mina, and it's called 'Field of Blood,' an AWFUL name and an AMAZING book

Zombies or Vampires?  Vampires. Please. A little elegance? Dumb flesh-eating morons versus people who've seen epochs of culture and been master of all of them, and then grown bored?

Describe your book in 140 characters: 3 BFF'S, doomed by genetics to live by night, do battle with a human monster

One thing that you wished people would ask you but they never do: What's your REAL talent? (I can repeat any song lyric I've heard once, word for word)


Don't forget to enter our drawing for some awesome prizes via SOHO Teen!  There will be more than one winner!!!  =)
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Welcome to SOHO Teen!

While in Anaheim at ALA '12, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Daniel Ehrenhaft and Meredith Barnes who were more than eager to tell me about the new endeavor of SOHO Press, an imprint dedicated to YA mysteries!  I was more than intrigued and after a lovely champagne toast and kickoff, I knew that I wanted to spread the word about this amazing imprint and the books that were coming out in 2013.

After reading the Spring '13 sampler with some of the titles I'll be discussing this week and reading the Fall '13 sampler, I couldn't resist.  SOHO Teen is a new imprint that will knock your socks off and leave you wanting more and more.  With award-winning authors like Jacquelyn Mitchard and Jon Scieszka and debut authors like Margaux Froley, you are bound to find titles your teens will like and that you will find live up to the mystery genre and the SOHO mystery reputation.

Later today I will bring you a review and a few extra goodies for the first book coming out in this imprint, What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard but for now, I'll leave you with a book trailer with a little taste of what SOHO Teen has up their sleeves.  And don't forget to enter our drawing below for some excellent prizes, courtesy of SOHO Teen! 

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Reflections: What I Wish Library Patrons Knew

I have seen a variety of articles online lately about hotel clerk secrets, or fast food worker secrets.  Some of these articles have been insightful and helped me better understand the workers point of view.  Some of them have been terrifying.  Really, you're going to put Pledge in my cup and spit in my food?  So I thought I would take a moment and talk about some of the things that happen in the public library and why they happen the way that they do.

So here's what you need to know about libraries:

Our job is to support the informational, recreational and educational needs of the people in our communities.  That's a lot of people.  So we have to create policies and services that help us reach those goals with a finite amount of staff, money, and resources.  In order to help serve as many people as possible, we have to put limits on our services.  In addition, just like everyone else, the last few years have seen budgets and staffing cuts.  At the same time, library use has gone up.  That's right, just like you are trying to stretch your home budget, libraries are trying to stretch their budgets.  It's not always pretty. So while there used to be two people on the Reference Desk help the public, there is now only one (say this in your best Highlander voice).  And I used to be able to get 5 books for $100.00, but now I can only get 4.  Trust me, I hate it way more than you do because I believe in the power and importance of libraries in communities.  So here are some common responses to the things that we hear patrons say and ask . . .

Patron: You have to have a degree for that?

Yes, I have a master's degree in library science.  Every person in the library is important to making the library the spectacular place that it is.  But we all do different things which require different skills and knowledge.  I can use a computer, but I can't set up or fix our computer network, we have a tech department for that.  Sometimes I can't answer your questions about other departments.  BUT, I can put together awesome library services, in part, because I spent the time getting the background knowledge I needed to make that happen. 

Patron: I wish I got paid to read.

So do I! Actually, I don't (get paid to read that is).  I read. A lot actually.  But I do it all on my own time (even when I'm doing it for work to do things like school visits, booktalks and reader's advisory).  At work I do the following: put together book orders; work with budgets; research and plan programs; put together marketing plans and materials for the library's youth services and programs; put together school visits; research adolescent development and current popular culture trends; communicate and train staff about working with teens, current teen trends, and popular titles; put together displays; keep records to communicate with my admin; network with area teachers and agencies that work with youth . . . to name just a FEW of the things that I do.

Patron: Have you read book x, y, or z?
Me: No, but I have heard good things about it.
Patron: I can't believe you haven't read it . . .