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TPiB: Free Comic Book Day at the Last Minute

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We’ve ALL been there. We’ve been meaning to get something together and it’s falling through the cracks due to summer reading, personal things, random things blowing up. Someone higher than us saw something in the newspaper or an online article and says, HEY WE NEED A PROGRAM FOR THIS DAY and says YOU! DO THIS! Or we’re just completely drained because it’s *MAY* and really, I want summer vacation.

There’s no reason you can’t have a completely AWESOME FCBD celebration at your library at the last minute. All you have to do is search within yourself and it will all be OK.
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FIND YOUR COMIC STORE
No, you’re not going to go begging for comics. First, the store actually PAYS for those comics (FREE in Free Comic Book Day means they give them away) but more often than not your comic store will be doing something wonderfully cool in addition to giving away the comics. Cosmic Comics and Cards, my local shop, always has a barbeque going with hotdogs and other food for his customers, and gets costumed characters (a variety each year that donate their fee to charity) to come out and take pictures. See what your local store is doing, and see if you can piggyback on what they’re doing by either doing a library outreach (card sign-up or just helping at the event in a library shirt) or handing out flyers at your library to let people know. That goodwill comes back to you, trust me.
FIND YOUR GAMING MOJO
Look around your library and talk to your staff, and see what you have. Do you have a gaming console (Wii, XBox 360, PS3)? See if you can get your hands on games like DC vs Mortal Kombat, Lego Marvel Superheros,  Lego Star Wars,DragonBall Z, or other games that can be set up for two or more players, and have a free play gaming day. See if someone would be willing to lend their board games for an afternoon with the promise that you’ll take good care of them, or see if the library would be willing to purchase some outright. There are a lot of comic related games out there, including:
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Or if you have players in your area, let it be known that you’re having free play for
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or
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I’ve found that all I have to do reserve some tables, set down basic rules (no trading cards, no trick battles), and just watch them play. Ideally, I have prizes relating to the games played (sealed packs of cards from the latest release) as a door prize, but a lot of times teens and young adults just want a place to play. 

FIND YOUR COLLECTION
Don’t forget to showoff your collection. You may not have a comic or graphic novel collection, or it may not be in the best shape, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a display. Pull science fiction novelizations of comic related books (want to start a fun debate with people, pull all the books that Lucasfilms and Disney have now decided don’t belong in the Starwars cannon), and all the movies that you have that are based off of comics and graphic novels. 
FIND YOUR INNER SLOTH
Finally, if you have a public performance license that covers them, show comic based movies all day. Pop popcorn or encourage teens and young adults to bring snacks (and have them clean up afterwards- you’d be surprised what they’ll do if you ask and put guidelines on the program) and either roll out a TV or set up a projector and take over a wall. The entire Avengers cannon (starting with Iron Man all the way through Thor: The Dark World) is based on comics, or show the Tobey Maguire Spiderman then the Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man and debate the merits between the two.  Or show movies that feature the casting of future superheros such as Chronicle (still superpowers yet stars the future Human Torch) or Fast and Furious (with Gal Godot rumored to be Wonder Woman in the 2017 Justice League movie).
 
 Introduce them to Mystery Men, one of the best movies about the need for strange superheros. 
 
Or, take a movie that the teens and you really don’t like and turn it into a RiffTrax/Mystery Science Theater opportunity and completely trash it while watching it. Surely you can think of a few comic related bombs that would fit the bill…

Book Review: Live Through This by Mindi Scott

An interesting thing happened when I started the #SVYALit Project, people started asking me if I had read such and such a book yet because I really needed to. And honestly, I am glad each and every time because I want to make sure we are reading and discussing as many relevant titles as possible. And that is how I came to read Live Through This by Mindi Scott recently, it was highly recommended by a friend.

Trigger Warning: This review will involve triggers


Live Through This is the story of Coley Sterling, a girl who seems to be living the perfect life on the outside. But it starts to unravel as she is forced to find ways to deal with the truth about what is happening to her. With the chance of having her first real boyfriend, a decade’s worth of lies and abuse are on the verge of unraveling and Coley isn’t sure how to deal with the reality of what happens to her in the dark of night.

Scott does not pull any punches. On the very first page we are introduced to Coley in a night time scene where you think there is a hot and heavy make-out scene happening between her and a boyfriend you haven’t met. But very quickly, you realize that things are very wrong in the world of Coley as she opens her eyes and realizes that no, this is real and is happening again. This was hands down the most realistic and heartbreaking scene of abuse I have read. So in the very first chapter we learn that someone in Coley’s house is sexually abusing her.


We also learn that Coley uses a very common coping mechanism: disassociation. For Coley, she just shuts down while everything happens to her. Sometimes she can pretend in her mind that something else is happening, which is very well depicted in this first chapter.

“Dissociation is a psychological process that often occurs in response to extreme trauma or pain. It is an automatic response determined by severity of the trauma and the individual’s ability to endure psychological pain and emotional distress. Dissociation is a disruption in normal information processing and allows the person to block negative emotions and experiences from consciousness and compartmentalize traumatic memories.” – Mothers of Sexually Abused Children 

It is partly because of this tendency to dissociate that Coley is able to pretend during the normal course of her day that all is well on Planet Coley. But there are three major events that happen that force Coley to lift the veil:

1. Coley starts to date a boy named Reece. This developing relationship causes a crisis of sorts for Coley as she wrestles with guilt and shame and worries about having to be intimate with him.

2. As the abuse against Coley escalates, her abuser forces her during one incident to look at him, making it impossible for her to dissociate. He even asks her a question, forcing her to actually speak and engage with him. This makes everything very real for Coley.

3. One day Coley comes home and sees her abuser on the couch with her younger sister who is about the age Coley was when her abuse started – which is age 7 – and she begins to stay up at night fearfully protecting her little sister. This anxiety and lack of sleep make functioning during the day nearly impossible and it begins to be hard for Coley to hide her crisis from others.

These three events combine to create a crisis in which Coley begins first to unravel and then she is forced to finally be honest with herself and others about what has been happening to her.

Scott does a really good job of presenting Coley’s story. In particular I though that Scott did a profound job of depicting dissociation and the slow then quickly accelerating unraveling of Coley through some very realistic crisis points. A lot of times non-abuse victims wonder how abuse can happen in families for so long and Scott does a really good job of depicting the complex and messy feelings that come into play, including trying to protect the only home and family you have ever known; that tendency to want to pretend that the evil that happens in the dark of night can somehow seem unreal when the sun comes up. And yet there is that anxiety that comes every night and Coley wonders, will she be safe this night? Scott also does a really good job of both humanizing the abuser, who both is a loving family member at times and a very manipulative abuser at others. He is particularly good at subtly suggesting that Coley is somehow complicit in and even enjoys the abuse; that it is somehow a mutual relationship when it is not, it is an abusive situation that Coley has been conditioned and manipulated to participate in since the age of 7.

I will admit, I was stunned when I learned who the abuser actually was when it was revealed about halfway through the novel. It’s one of those things that make you go back and re-read. When sexual abuse is revealed, victims are usually not believed because everyone looks at the abuser and thinks but he (sometimes she) is such a nice guy. Scott took this sexual abuse issue and really pulled back that curtain, demonstrating to readers how even the nicest seeming people and most beloved family members can end up being someone’s abuser. The complexity of this issue and their relationships, even the abusers belief about himself, is really depicted in strong ways. I think that every outsider who wonders how these things happen will get a very good look at the complexity of the issues reading this book. I highly recommend this book with the warning for sexual abuse survivors that it does have some triggering sexual abuse scenes and that I think the psychology of the situation, which is where this book excels, could also be very triggering.

In 2012 Kirkus said, “Coley finds that her childhood strategy of quiet endurance, rather than preventing the abuse, enables it to escalate. What makes this more than another “problem” novel is the author’s steadfast refusal to deal in stereotypes and easy answers. Coley’s more than the victim of sexual abuse–just as her abuser is more than a collection of abusive behaviors. Who we are and what we do are different things. Oversimplifying character motivations would have made this a less harrowing read but also a less powerful one. Unraveling her thicket of tangled emotions is a confusing and painful journey for Coley, but the bedrock truth she uncovers sustains her: Freedom from molestation is a human right. Required reading for anyone who’s ever wondered “why didn’t they just tell someone?” (Kirkus Reviews, 10/01/2012)

Christa Desir says, “I loved this book for the complexity and nuance of the issue of culpability. It does it better than almost any book I’ve seen on the issue of incest. It has the same sort of fearlessness of Sapphire’s PUSH.”

Publisher’s Description: From the outside, Coley Sterling’s life seems pretty normal . . . whatever that means. It’s not perfect—her best friend is seriously mad at her and her dance team captains keep giving her a hard time—but Coley’s adorable, sweet crush Reece helps distract her. Plus, she has a great family to fall back on—with a mom and stepdad who would stop at nothing to keep her siblings and her happy.

But Coley has a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully-crafted façade. That for years she’s been burying the shame and guilt over a relationship that crossed the line. Now that Coley has the chance at her first real boyfriend, a decade’s worth of lies are on the verge of unraveling.

In this unforgettable powerhouse of a novel, Mindi Scott offers an absorbing, layered glimpse into the life of an everygirl living a nightmare that no one would suspect.

Published by Simon Pulse in 2012. ISBN: 9781442440609.  

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign

It’s a sad truth that the hardest part of my job – and the most time consuming – is going through every resource I can to try and find books with diverse characters or written by diverse authors. As a woman, I know how empowering it is for me to see positive depictions of women in the media, so I want those for my tweens and teens as well. I want them to read about and see on the covers a diverse population that looks more like the real world we live in.

As I mentioned the other day, the Tween and I have been doing a rewatch of Buffy. I never noticed how the cast really lacked diversity, especially in the beginning seasons. In fact, the first recurring POC character wasn’t introduced until season 3 – and he’s a bad guy named Trick. It is possible that some of the other main characters identify as nonwhite, I don’t know, but that’s not what you see on the screen. In later seasons Principal Wood was added to the cast, but if I was being honest about this show I love, it gets an F in diversity. And a lot of people feel that Middle Grade and Young Adult books get an F in diversity as well.

To understand the magnitude of the issue, School Library Journal looked at 2013 titles and found that there were five – yes, 5 – middle grade titles released in 2013 that featured a black boy as a main character.

Do be sure an check out the SLJ article because there are some interesting comments. For example, Kate Messner discusses her Silver Jaguar Society books, which include Capture the Flag and Hide and Seek, which have a diverse cast of three main characters. They are fun mysteries, sort of in the vein of National Treasure for middle grade readers.

Diversity matters because we life in a diverse world. There are 7 billion people on this planet. There are 313.9 million people living in America. Only 63% of those Americans identify as White, Non Hispanic. That means that 37% of the U.S. population identifies as something other than Caucasian. But do 37% of our books feature Tweens and Teens that identify as POC? The answer is no.  There is a lot of really good information about this at Diversity in YA and I suggest you spend some quality time there.  They really take a look at the bestseller lists, break down what is happening and share upcoming titles that you’ll want to add to your collection.

Diversity is about more than just representation for POC. It is about better representation for woman, for GLBTQ teens, and for characters with disabilities. So when things recently reached a tipping point, a campaign was put together: #WeNeedDiverseBooks. This campaign is really important and I hope that everyone will participate.

What can you do?*

RIGHT NOW (or sometime before May 1), take a photograph that in some way states why you think we need books that represent all of us. The photo can capture whatever it is you want to highlight. The planners suggest holding a sign that says “We need diverse books because _____.” Send your photo to weneeddiversebooks@yahoo.com or submit it via the Tumblr page. Starting at 1:00 PM EST on May 1, 2014 people will be using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks to share the photos.

On May 2, 2014 there will be a Twitter chat–again using that hashtag–at 2:00 PM EST. Share your thoughts on existing problems with the lack of diversity in children’s and young adult literature, and share the positives, too.

On May 3, 2014 at 2:00 EST there will be book giveaways and a “put your money where your mouth is” component to the campaign. 

Visit the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Tumblr, often

*I totally lifted the What Can You Do section of this post off of Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature blog.  Visit it here for some great discussion on the representation of American Indians in children’s and YA lit.

Take 5: Christie’s To Drool for in May

May is here and we are all gearing up for summer reading, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a LITTLE time for ourselves….  Here are 5 books that are being published in May that I can’t wait for….

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Gabe is having a tough week. Normally the funny kid at the lunch table, he’s on edge from trying to kick his soda addiction and ditch his long-standing nickname, “Chunk.” So when news breaks that his beloved marching band camp has been cancelled due to lack of funding, he’s furious. What makes him even madder? The school’s vending machine money—which had previous been collected by the band—is now sponsoring the new cheer squad.

The war is ON. And Gabe is leading the charge. No one will be safe from the Geekers’ odd brand of wrath: not the principal, the band teacher, the local newspaper, and certainly not the cheerleaders and their jock boyfriends. Like the saying goes, it isn’t over until the fat boy sings…

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Years of cuts have devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing. The authorities cannot cope. And the population has maxed out.
 
The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment. The country is aghast, but the politicians are unshakeable. No more free housing for single parents, no more child benefit, no more free school meals, no more children in need.
 
It’s time for the young to take to the streets. It’s time for them to RIOT.
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Brad Baron is used to looking lame compared to his older brother, Blake. Though Brad’s basically a genius, Blake is a superhero in the elite Justice Force. And Brad doesn’t measure up at his high school, either, where powers like super-strength and flying are the norm. So when Brad makes friends who are more into political action than weight lifting, he’s happy to join a new crew-especially since it means spending more time with Layla, a girl who may or may not have a totally illegal, totally secret super-power. And with her help, Brad begins to hone a dangerous new power of his own.

But when they’re pulled into a web of nefarious criminals, high-stakes battles, and startling family secrets, Brad must choose which side he’s on. And once he does, there’s no turning back.


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London’s underworld is no place for a young woman, even one who is strong, smart and part-automaton like Mila. But when master criminal Jack Dandy inadvertently breaks her heart, she takes off, determined to find an independent life, one entirely her own. Her search takes her to the spangled shadows of the West End’s most dazzling circus.

Meanwhile, taken captive in the Aether, Griffin King is trapped in an inescapable prison, and at the mercy of his archenemy, The Machinist. If he breaks under the hellish torment, The Machinist will claim his powers and control of the Aether itself, and no one in either world will be safe—especially not Finley Jayne and her misfit band of friends.

Finley plunges headlong into the Aether the only way she knows how, by temporarily dying. But she cannot parry The Machinist’s maneuvers.

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The Selection changed America Singer’s life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she’s made her choice . . . and she’s prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Middle Grade Monday – April 28, 2014

I’m always on the lookout for a good new middle grade – probably not for the reason you might think. I’m honestly not as good at middle grade discovery as I am at young adult. Partially, it’s a personal preference. I also follow more YA authors on Twitter, so that avenue of discovery is easier. And, to be completely honest, middle grade titles are much more likely to leave me a sobbing, emotional wreck than YA titles. Right now, that’s not what I’m looking for in a good read.

So, cue my excitement when Karen’s tween announced that Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic is her new favorite book. After checking to make sure it wouldn’t leave me an emotional wreck, I downloaded the audio version from my public library to listen to on my way back from Easter weekend. I have to admit I was initially put off by the accent the narrator uses for the main character (Felicity Pickle, age 12) – although it certainly matches the southern vernacular used in the book. Gradually, though, as I was drawn deeper into the story of Felicity and her family, I found myself agreeing with the narrators choice of accent and unable to imagine it being read in another voice.

Felicity and her younger sister, Frannie Jo, have been residents of many places, only staying just so long before their Mama’s wandering heart takes off and they become transplants yet again. This time, Mama has brought them to stay with their Aunt Cleo in Midnight Gulch, which just happens to be where Mama grew up. Midnight Gulch used to be a place where magic was as common as the leaves on the trees, until an unfortunate conflict between two brothers caused the town to lose its magic. Now all that’s left is a ‘snicker of magic.’ Some of that magic, however, lives on in Felicity, who sees words floating in the air and her sister Frannie Jo, who hears music no one else can hear.

Natalie Lloyd has created a richly detailed back story for this town and its inhabitants, weaving magic throughout. I would highly recommend listening to the audio version of this book, because the word choice used in description leaves a distinct visual impact. Every time I think about the book, I see colors everywhere! Whoever chose the cover illustration did a marvelous job of conveying that essential part of the story.

This book has been getting a lot of buzz on Twitter the last few days, especially on the #titletalk discussion. I’m excited to hear what the tween has to say about it. Maybe we can get her to do a book review?

True Confessions of a Former Slut Shamer – A Slut Shelf Giveaway

It’s true, I was one. A slut shamer that is. I judged you based on what you were wearing, calling you a slut in my head. You see, I fell victim to the lie that a girl, a woman, is only worth her sexuality. And it’s an insidious lie. So very deceitful because you and I – we are more than just how we look and whether or not we preserve our pure virgin snow white flower gift for a man on our wedding night.

“The problem with slut is when it comes to young, young girls,” she said. “Once that name gets attached to you. Like to a girl of 12? Boom. It ruins your life. You’re spending years getting over it.” But she said more. Slut also means that you’re nothing. That any guy can have you. That you have no self-worth.” – from Slut, How Do We Explain the Word to Our Girls

There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. I’m not sure how we let ourselves believe that what we do in such a small amount of that time completely overshadows all the other parts of our lives. And I’m not sure why we let ourselves believe that our sexuality is somehow all about men, about pleasing them and fulfilling their needs, as if it was wrong to have needs and desires of our own. We let ourselves believe the lie and we are teaching these lies to each younger generation. Slowly, I’m starting to understand how dangerous the lie is and why we have to change what we teach the girls that come after us.

“Every snarky suggestion for a woman to “open books, not your legs” or viral outrage and scorn over a leaked sex tape systematically reinforces a Rape Culture in which women can only belong to one of two exclusive binaries: the morally sound and intelligent virgin or the morally bankrupt, uneducated slut”. – Lauren Miller


Let me tell you when the real moment of change came for me. Several years ago I read an online essay by a “former slut” (her words, not mine). She was a girl who was very sexually active in high school and she was ridiculed and exiled for it. She left school broken, lonely and ashamed. The thing is, she also revealed that she was very sexually active because she had been a victim of childhood sexual abuse and she was trying to find a sexual experience that would make her feel safe. She needed to erase that damage that had been done to her and write over it with a new sexual experience. And that’s when it hit me: we never truly know what is happening on the inside of another person. This topic comes up again when you discuss Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller, which I highly recommend.

Then I also had what us religious types like to call a “Come to Jesus Moment.” In the Bible, there is a story about a woman at a well. The men around her call her a slut, basically. They say her punishment is that she must be stoned. And Jesus, well he just looks at them and says, essentially, if you are free of sin then you are more than welcome to stone her to death, who wants to go first? When we slut shame people, our words and our actions are those stones, and they hurt. They can forever shape what a young person thinks or feels about themselves, their sense of worth. And by picking up those shame stones we are suggesting that we have nothing of our own to worry about.

The worst result of slut shaming is the impact it has on our culture and how we treat victims of rape and sexual violence. You know how a news report comes out and says a woman was raped and you think in your head, yes but look what she was wearing. That is the most insidious lie that comes out of slut shaming. No matter how a girl dresses or how many times she has chosen to have sex, a girl (or woman and yes even a man) never deserves to be raped. Dressing a certain way isn’t an invitation for rape. Being sexually active isn’t an invitation for rape. In fact, there is no rape invitation. Rape is a crime and deserves to be investigated and treated as such each and every time.

The truth is, our culture sends very confusing messages to our young girls. We sexualize them day in and day out. We tell both men and women that girls are objects to be ogled and groped, sexual play things put on this Earth to satisfy the sexual desires of a man. And we tell men that they can’t help themselves because boys will be boys after all. And then, when a girl decides to embrace her sexuality, we turn our backs on her; we vilify her. Female sexuality has become a game that girls can’t seem to win. A confusing and dangerous game. Healthy female sexuality is good for everyone; it’s what we call a win-win situation for society.

“So that’s the thing about judging and labeling girls “sluts”. You put their sexuality on trial in a way that justifies sexual violence against them.” – Christa Desir


So I slut shame no more. Female sexuality is a healthy and normal thing. How a person dresses and when and who a woman chooses to have sex with is both none of my business and a infinitely small part of their life. It does not determine their value or worth. It is a personal choice and I can’t force my own values and choices onto others. And I know that there is no universe in which I deserve to pick up a rock and stone another. And no matter what, no one ever deserves to be raped.

Why I am I sharing all of this? Last week author Alexandra Duncan discovered that her book, Salvage, had been placed on a shelf in Goodreads labelled “Slut Shelf”. So she put out a challenge to do a slut shelf giveaway. Yesterday, #SVYALit Project author Christa Desir wrote her own post about The Slut Shelf and Sexual Violence, which is important and you should read it. She is also doing a Slut Shelf giveaway. And today we are doing our own giveaway that includes an ARC of the book The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher (and you should read Lourdes’ fabulous essay about this book here) and a signed copy of Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (thank you Trish!!) Simply leave a comment between now and Friday at midnight to be entered. U.S. residents only please.

Talking with Teens About Slut Shaming
Slut Shaming part 1 and part 2
Discussing The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Sunday Reflections: Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Fresh Eyes

I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. So huge that we have had entire time periods here dedicated to it. So I was very excited when the Tween asked a couple of weeks ago if she could watch Buffy and I decided that yes, she was probably old enough for the first couple of seasons.

It has been interesting to watch it again for the first time through fresh eyes. When Buffy first came on I was in college. my high school days long past. But the Tween is just on the verge of teenagerdom, the high school years yet to come. Sometimes it has been awkward (“Mom, why are they always kissing?”, “Wait, did they just have sex?”), sometimes it has been funny, (“I like Xander, he says funny stuff.”) and sometimes it has led to some great and important dialogue – mainly about standing up for yourself, empowering messages that we don’t give to girls often enough I believe. Girls so often are taught to be demure, to shrink, to smile, to be nice, to be ladylike – with ladylike implying easy to get along with. But there are so many moments in life where standing up for yourself – and what is right – is so important. And I feel that Buffy is helping me show my daughter that she can be strong, powerful, confident, and believe in herself.

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Yesterday we came to the end of season two and the beginning of season three. If you don’t know and don’t want to be spoiled, then stop reading because HERE BE SPOILERS aplenty.

For those of you who have seen the show or don’t mind being spoiled, here’s a recap: Angel is now Angelus and he is opening the gates of hell, the only way to stop it once it begins to open is by killing Angel. That’s how season 2 ends, with Buffy being forced to kill the man she loves in order to stop the destruction of the entire world. When we meet her again in season 3, it is in an episode called Anne where Buffy is trying to deal with emotional aftermath of what has happened; she has run away and is living on her own. As a side note, this theme is mirrored in ways in the Doctor Who episode The Snowmen when after suffering great emotional loss, the Doctor runs away, denies who he is, and must be reminded before he again decides to return to helping others.

But back to Buffy . . .

At the end of season 2, in Becoming, Part 2, Angel and Buffy are fighting. Buffy appears in every way to be losing this fight. Then Angel comes at her with a sword and taunts, “No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take that all away and what’s left?” he asks. And she looks him right in the eye and says, “Me.” That’s it, one single word. But such a powerful message. Take everything else away, she has herself.

And when we meet her again in Anne, she seems to have forgotten this message. She is lost, using her middle name, denying her destiny, trying to handle life alone. She runs into a girl she knows from before who is now going by the name Lily. Lily is a lost girl who takes on the identity those around her wish her to take. She has no strong sense of self and, just wanting to find someone to love her and a place to belong, she is willing to become whatever she thinks she needs to become to fill that emptiness in her.

She is soon recruited into what seems at first a religious, self-help themed cult but because this is Buffy they are of course demons. But like cults and other groups of this sort, they gain their power by purposefully preying on the weak and the lost and here we find an amazing example of not only empowerment, but a stark reminder that people in power like to disenfranchise the “other” and strip them of their identity and hope to make them easier to control. These kids are lined up in sack cloth like garments and a demon comes to each one of them and asks, “Who are you?”  And each one in turn replies, “No one.” They give this answer in part out of fear, because they know it is the right answer to give to keep themselves alive. But they also give this answer because they have come through the courses of their life to believe it to be true.

But then the demon comes to Buffy/Anne and asks, “Who are you?” And she confidently and defiantly raises her head and says, “I’m Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Then she proceeds to kick some ass because that is what vampire slayers do.

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And then, the head demon guy grabs Lilly and threatens to kill her – to kill them all – if they continue to fight back. There is a pause while everyone is forced to consider, what are we willing to sacrifice for true freedom? But then Lilly answers for herself by pushing the demon and signalling that the revolution must continue. She takes a stand in that moment for herself. She chooses to be brave. She chooses action over inaction, knowing that the costs could be high.

As I watched this with my daughter, I was glad that we got to see this moment of empowerment. And it clearly demonstrates that life – knowing yourself, standing up for yourself – isn’t always easy. Buffy gets lost several times along the way throughout the course of the show. She makes some bad decisions. The people in her life that love her often make bad decisions. But they keep regrouping, both personally and as a family unit. That too is an important message, forgiveness, both of self and others. You don’t have to stay stuck in a moment, you can choose to move forward.

Buffy is not a perfect show, and no show is. For example, Buffy is punished in the worst ways imaginable for deciding to be a sexual creature. And I would argue that in that moment the shows creators also make the mistake of conflating sex with love/happiness. And later in the series Xander is raped by Faith who is inhabiting Buffy’s body and if I am remembering correctly they never call it rape. And I have a really hard time watching episodes after the attempted rape by Spike.

But for its sometimes faults, it is so powerful to have this show which focuses on the life of a female superhero (and yes, she is a superhero) in such realistic and empowering ways. I love those moments on the show when she looked and basically said, no matter what I always have me.  And then the next episode came around and reinforced that message. I want my daughter – all daughters really – to know that no matter what, they always have themselves and that is worth everything. I want my daughter to be like Buffy, because when we fail our daughter’s we risk them becoming like the Lilly’s of the world and that puts them in great personal danger. Plus, when we teach our daughters to be Buffy, we might just help be saving the world. A lot.

Friday Finds – April 25, 2014

This Week at TLT
Book Reviews
Rant: Because Faking It isn’t Real, or Helpful
Zest Books Week 2014
Take 5: Your High School Survival Pack
Life Hacks with The How To Handbook (Plus, some of my favorite Life Hacks posts/resources)
Duct Tape! Check out Sticky Fingers, plus learn from my mistakes – cool tips
You’re graduating high school, now what?
TLA Redux: Christie’s Speaker Notes
Previously at TLT
More Duct Tape crafts! And more!
Around the Web 
Find out what kind of Grisha you are before the final book in Leigh Bardugo’s Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, comes out.
The Guardian on de facto school resegregation in the United States.
Not a Drop to Drink has been optioned for a movie! 

TLA Reduex: Christie’s Speaker Notes

So, a couple of weeks ago I presented with Peter Coyl, the chair of the Stonewall Committee, and author David Levithan (Two Boys Kissing, Every Day) at the Texas Library Association about awesome books dealing with GLBTQI/QUILTBAG topics, issues and characters.
 (for those that don’t know, QUILTBAG stands for Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Allied/Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer. It’s a newer term, not as widespread in it’s usage, but it’s meant to be all-inclusive of the community and easier to say and be more memorable. 
At any rate, I promised people my notes (why they want them I have no clue) so here they are and downloadable on Scribd for all to enjoy.

You’re graduating high school, now what?

I stayed up all night last night reading an ARC of GLORY O’BRIEN’S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE by A. S. King (dear lord people, so much glorious goodness coming this fall – make a note to read it!). This book is many amazing things, but it perfectly captures that moment when you graduate from high school and realize you have to figure out what comes next. For a lot of teens, the what next is college. For some, like Glory, it is a gap year. For others, it is straight to work.

Yesterday we talked about high school, but here are a couple of books from Zest Books that can help us all with the moments that come after high school.

77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College by Halley Bondy

I’m not going to lie, my favorite item in this book was number 23: Spend quality time in the library . . . without doing homework. I was lucky enough to go to college in a town with two colleges, and the other college – Kenyon College – had the most amazing bookstore ever. We used to go all the time and hang out there; you would find wondrous things that you never knew existed. If you ever find yourself in Mount Vernon Ohio, go there. Even if you are kinda maybe a little bit close, drive in for a visit.

Some other good tips include taking a class that has nothing to do with your major, learn a language you’ve never studied, try a sport you’ve never tried (intramurals can be a good way to do this), and join an a capella group (or at least watch the movie Pitch Perfect and do this vicariously). And as an aside, many of these will apply to those who choose an alternate, non-college plan after high school. You can even find alternate ways to do some of the education related ones – like study a language or take a class outside of your major – by using your local library resources or taking a local community class.
Undecided: Navigating Life and Learning After High School by Genevieve Morgan
The truth is, most of us don’t have our lives figured out when we graduate high school. I changed majors mid-stream and have a whole extra year of credits (and debt!) to show for it. Want to know what’s even better? I have an undergraduate degree in youth ministry that I basically don’t use (although I will admit the info was very informative to being a YA librarian). And college isn’t the right choice for everyone. And sadly, for many teens, it isn’t really an option at all.Undecided is a pretty good look at the many options that one has after high school, including not only higher education but military services and internships. There is a brief section on gap years (I just like saying gap years because I only learned they were called that last year – in a YA book no less!). Undecided also acknowledges the issue of money and has a chapter dedicated to budgets and planning. I really liked that this section talked about debt and acknowledged that anything they said in the book might already be irrelevant because the conversation kept changing so quickly: “Media reports regularly address what is going on with student loan debt, and things are changing so fast that what I tell you today probably will be out of date tomorrow” (page 68).  But the reality is, “Many college students and grads (even not-so-recent grads) are shackled by debt and the inability to get a job with a high enough salary to pay off that debt” (page 69). I thought the end advice was very spot on: “Take on as little debt as possible to pay for your education – even if this means needing more time to get your degree and working. Or going to a state school instead of a private college. If you do get a loan, read your contract carefully” (page 70).

So while I thought 77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College was fun and even insightful, I found Undecided to be a very important and helpful tool. Of course one is aimed more at high school students who are trying to figure out what comes after high school and the other is aimed at students who are past that point and are already in college.  They both meet their stated goals and are good resources.

77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish High School by Halley Bondy. Zest Books, 2014. 191 pages. ISBN: 978-1-936976-00-3.

Undecided: Navigating Life and Learning After High School by Genevieve Morgan. Zest Books, 2014. 247 pages. ISBN: 978-1-93676-32-4.