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Middle Grade Monday – This Guy

I’m on my way up north to spend my annual week hanging out with this guy:

Yes, he’s enormous, but technically still a middle grader. He’s just on the cusp, though, as he will be entering 7th grade this August. I’m excited to see what he’s into this year. For a look at what he read last year at my house, you can click here. Since I’ve been on my summer break, I’ve had the opportunity to pick up a few books for him:

Ghosts in the Fog is my ace in the hole, I think, but we’ll see. And if we get a chance to try any or the Irresponsible Science Experiments, I will try to document it here on the blog. As for the others, I think the Vietnam angle may hook him into Everybody Sees the Ants, and he’s not the most empathetic kid, so I’m hoping it will help him recognize bullying when he sees it and intervene. The copy of American Born Chinese is pristine, and I found it at a used bookstore for $1.99! I just want him to have it.

For myself, for the week, I’m taking several reading choices, but I’m mainly hoping to get to The Great Greene Heist and Mouseheart. Also, a certain someone managed to score an ARC of The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare for me at ALA, so I have that to look forward to when I get back.

What are you reading this summer?

Sunday Reflections: What the ukulele taught me about reluctant readers

As a child, I studied Suzuki method classical piano. I was technically proficient and was able to feel what the seemingly ancient pieces needed, pulling my own emotions out into my fingers and onto the keys. I was pretty good. But I disliked practicing, and once I progressed enough that it stopped being easy, my interest lagged. My fingernails grew long, only for my piano teacher to clip them once a week as I sat next to her on the bench. I’d be overcome as an audience member by the power and beauty of group performances, but I always played alone. I tried auditioning for the jazz band but was completely incapable of improvisation, so rigid was the training and so crippling was my own shyness. I tried buying my own sheet music for my teacher to help me with, but she was unable to connect with Queen or Tori Amos, and without her guidance and encouragement, my enthusiasm lagged. I was a reluctant musician. Eventually, it became clear to both of us that the only time I sat down to play were my weekly lessons. I quit when I was sixteen or seventeen.

Many years later, on a lark, my husband (who plays the trumpet) and I decided to learn this bit from The Jerk. 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqtmXnQZ6Qk]

This meant that one of us would need to learn the ukulele, and that person was me.

We went out that night to buy one. It was inexpensive enough that it didn’t feel like a “real” instrument to me, which allowed me to just have fun. I dug into the song, and quickly learned that it was arranged and performed in the movie by, no surprise, a ukulele jazz master. It might be a novelty song, but learning it would be a far cry from the sweet simplicity of the clip.

From Guitar Instructor
I’d only ever played the piano. I knew what the treble clef was, but the notations above it? No idea. I was starting over completely. But in starting over, I was starting fresh. There was no pressure, no baggage, no disappointment. The ukulele was fun, and I was having fun with music again.  Now, several years later, I’ve found an informal but regular ukulele circle in my town. I play with a dozen or two other uke enthusiasts once a month or so. We strum along and belt out the words to Hawaiian and old novelty tunes, Monkees hits, rock classics, and the occasional TMBG or Dead Milkmen song. I love it and am no longer reluctant in the least. Here I am at a poster session, playing my second ukulele along with my ILEAD team, singing about our project, the Robot Test Kitchen, and having fun
So here’s what this taught me about reluctant readers: they need to be listened to and supported. They might be excellent readers, but for whatever reason, they’ve lost the spark needed to continue doing it; it’s not fun for them. But if the spark is lost, it doesn’t mean it can’t be found or that it’s disappeared. It might take time. It will take patience. It will take a lot of compassion and good listening skills and understanding. I think back to my early piano years and wonder how it might have turned out differently for me if my teacher had really listened to me as I tried to figure out what I wanted to get out of music. I think about the kids who come to us looking for a way to connect with books or the library, even though they “don’t like reading”. What a risk they’re taking! What bravery! Even if they’re only there because the have to find something for school. These are the kids who need us as champions and friends, even more so than the kids who come to us eager for the next new thing and can go on for hours about their favorite books and authors. 
Maybe the word we use is wrong. Maybe reluctant doesn’t describe it at all. Maybe these are lost readers, wandering readers, searching readers, readers on a break, discriminating readers. One thing is sure: they are people who know themselves, know what they don’t like, and would probably know, if offered the right guidance and asked the right questions, which path would lead them back to the material that ignites that spark. Maybe it’s not fiction. Maybe it’s genre fiction. Maybe it’s a magazine dedicated to their hobby. Maybe it’s a ukulele.

Unleashed Cover Reveal!

What if the worst thing you ever did was unforgivable?

Davy’s world fell apart after she tested positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. She was expelled from her school, dumped by her boyfriend, abandoned by friends, and shipped off to a camp that turns HTS carriers into soldiers. Davy may have escaped, but the damage has already been done. The unthinkable has happened. Now, even worse than having everyone else see her as a monster is the knowledge that they may have been right about her all along. Because Davy has killed.

On the run from government agents, Davy is rescued by Caden, the charismatic leader of an underground group of rebels. Despite Caden’s assurances that the Resistance is made up of carriers like her, Davy isn’t sure she can trust them. Then again, she doesn’t even know if she can trust herself . . . or her growing feelings for Caden. But if she doesn’t belong with Caden and his followers, is there anywhere she can call home?
UNLEASHED mini-teaser:

I thought being labeled a killer and losing everything—my future, family, boyfriend, friends—was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. It’s not. Finding out they were right. Finding out that’s exactly what I am?

That’s worse.

Read our review of Uninvited here.

We are super excited for Unleashed! It is scheduled to be released early in 2015. We’ll keep you updated on all the news.

Friday Finds – June 27, 2014

This Week at TLT
Sunday Reflections: I’m on my way, I’m on my way . . . to ALA
Find out what’s on Karen’s agenda for this year’s ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas – only friendly stalkers, please.
Luck be a Lady Tonight: Christie’s ALA 14 Highlights
You can also stalk Mz. Christie! (same rules apply)

Middle Grade Monday – Going to ALA?
Find out who I’d be stalking if I were lucky enough to be at ALA this year.
Viva Las Vegas: Christie’s Author Crawl ALA Vegas
Find out which authors Mz.Christie will be stalking (for signatures) at ALA.
Book Review: A Death Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
Sexual Violence Inside (and Because of) the Closet by Anthony Isom (#SVYALit Project)

Heather talks Minecraft After Hours & Letting Teens Lead… and Fall
Around the Web

Judy Blume shares her wisdom. –  And a NEW BOOK!

Nancy Garden, such an immense spirit!

Look who got quoted in this excellent article in defense of the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter 

The more people who share this message, the better. Especially when they are already trusted and respected.

It’s kind of amazing how little some of the public trust the good judgement of professionals. – Also, overreact much?

“Because we all know that pretty equals stupid and writing is for boys!”

In movie news, Sarah Polley is set to adapt Looking for Alaska for the big screen, and Warner Brothers has picked up the rights to Rick Yancy’s Monstrumologist series. 

Will ALSC’s recent policy change for awards committee members “bite itself in the butt?”

Some thoughts on Net Neutrality:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ft-bU9tn5c] 

In case you haven’t been creeped out sufficiently this week, watch the new teaser for the first Mockingjay movie:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dCB2U9lX48]

Minecraft After Hours & Letting Teens Lead… and Fall

Maybe it was because it was on Friday the 13th.
Maybe it was the heat, or all of the 5th grade classes I talked it up to.
Maybe it was those 4th graders who snuck in under the age limit.

Whatever it was, the Minecraft hangout and building contest that I hosted was both one of the biggest successes and most disappointing failures of my programming year so far. And that’s really been ok.

Here’s how it went down. Last fall I took a leap and started a Coding Club. In the months since, this group has grown tight knit and dedicated to both the idea of learning and playing with technology, and the library. As we discussed what else we wanted to do, Minecraft kept coming up.

What could we do with it?
Could the library have its own server?
Could we turn Coding Club into a Minecraft club?

I try to say yes as often as possible, but these were questions it was hard for me to answer. I’m not a gamer. The knowledge these kids have far exceeds mine in this realm, and as a part time librarian, I know that my limited time means limited abilities. But these teens had seemingly endless time and endless enthusiasm for both the game and getting it into our building. After mulling over the possibilities, one totally uncoached statement was the deciding factor for me. A member said, “Everyone likes playing Minecraft. But even though a bunch of us are in the same neighborhood, we’re playing with people all over the country, or world. That’s cool, but it just makes sense that we’d want to meet each other too. And the library seems like the natural place to do that. It’s where a bunch of kids can go in town and it’s ok for us to be there.”

Sold. I think they even said something about “community building.” Be still my librarian heart! So I gave them the go-ahead with the understanding that I would assist them with whatever they needed, but that I would only be able to be that — an assistant and facilitator. The planning and execution would be up to them.

What if we built our own server?
What if I donate my server to the library?
What if we just have a building contest?
Can we have fabulous prizes?
Can we have pop and Doritos?

Prizes, pop, and chips I could handle. The server questions were harder, but week after week the kids worked on their server, creating an environment in which a crowd of people could build. Moms took me aside and asked my opinion on letting their kids play online games. Moms told me they thought I was wonderful for giving their kids a place to fit in. Moms thanked me. Which was weird because I wasn’t really doing much. I was just opening our meeting room twice a month and listening for the most part.

Fast forward to last Friday night. Fabulous prizes in hand, snacks at the ready, we opened the library after hours and fifteen teens came in. That might not sound like a lot to some, but in a town where my SRP registration maxes out under 75 most years and I’m happy to get 5 kids at most programs, I was floored.

I welcomed the kids and introduced our illustrious Coding Club members, who went on to explain how the building contest would unfold, what the fabulous prizes were, the theme (design a symbol of what Minecraft means to you), and how to access the server.  At which point we realized that Minecraft was down. After a half hour snack break, everyone rushed back to their computers — it was back up! Game on!

And then we overloaded the server. 

From that point on, it just never worked right. We hadn’t planned on that many people playing. My teen had been certain that the server he was building had enough RAM. I trusted his assessment. As I watched him feverishly work to figure out the problem, testing it one way, and then another, I tried to placate the rest of the kids, encouraging them to go back for another snack or just hang out until everything was up and running. He looked me in the eye, and with all of the emotion a 12 year old (yes! he is only 12!) boy can pack in one pitiful look, he was pleading for help. And there wasn’t a whole lot I could do.

It was humbling and I felt horrible. But we kept working through it. We declared the building competition postponed, shared the server address for people to use from home, and decided to give them one week to construct their ideal symbol of Minecraft, at which point I’ll email them all a survey and ask them to vote.  Everyone seemed to leave happy, or at least happy enough in the case of my intrepid Coding Club teen.

On the one hand, it felt like a great failure that the program didn’t go how we planned and we ran into so many technical problems. But at the same time – what success! Great numbers, teen leadership and problem solving, a community began developing, a plan was made to continue the work started, and several people expressed interest in a repeat program.

But oh, my poor 12 year old, right? Maybe not. I pulled out my 40 Developmental Assets list, and started mentally checking them off. Other adult relationships? Supportive neighborhood? I was doing that. Community values youth; youth as a resource, service to others? Wow, this is going better than I thought! Planning and decision making, responsibility, involvement in youth programs… high expectations. And there it was. I had high expectations. It was crystal clear that I did. And he had high expectations of himself, he planned ahead, made executive decisions, and took responsibility for this youth program. This was a success, no doubt about it.

This year I’m taking part in ILEAD-USA, a months long leadership and technology workshop funded by a grant from the State of Illinois. One of the first things I learned there was the concept of Failing Forward. In this way of thinking, a perceived failure is not the end point; it’s the beginning of a new avenue of learning and growing. It’s hard to embrace. Just writing about it here was difficult – no one likes to admit that they’ve done something that turned out 180 degrees from where you planned for it to go. But we both learned so much from this experience. Not just about Minecraft, but about ourselves, each other, trust, perseverance, finding fun.. and RAM.


Sexual Violence Inside (and Because of) the Closet by Anthony Isom (#SVYALit Project)

We live in a fortunate time. Once upon a time, homosexuality was viewed as either a disease or else an abnormality; things have certainly been changing as hatred toward homosexuality, AKA anti-gay discrimination, may not be viewed as abnormal but certainly as backward or retrogressive. This is a good thing. As a young gay man affianced to the love of my life, I both represent and benefit from the steady march of time. 

There is a disturbing trend which marches alongside progress, however, this idea that stories in which gay characters are represented as paradigms of romantic behavior trump those stories which highlight the often painful journey toward acceptance of oneself with which most teens relate. Don’t get me wrong. I adore BOY MEETS BOY or OUT OF THE POCKET or ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE. I am all over the current swell of young adult titles relating the transgender experience, for example: FREAKBOY, BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN, I AM J, FAT ANGIE. Andrew Smith’s GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE is the first book I’ve ever read narrated by a bisexual character, and I think it a major literary achievement not to mention his best published work to date. Gay characters deserve diverse stories and experiences not simply because it is truly representative of our vast world but also because a singular story is always limited and boring. Everyone knows gay people are anything but limited and boring. Seriously.

What then is disturbing about this current trend of promoting gay “happily ever after” stories above stories of rape, incest, child molestation? Once again, gay characters deserve diverse stories and experiences. Thus as I watch the pendulum swing from fierce hatred, erasure, and mischaracterization of gay teens to the wealth of LGBTQ young adult literature our culture experiences I find myself asking, “What about all those gay teens who still have it hard?” I suppose I cannot help but go there because my native state is South Carolina, my native culture is African-American, my native religion Seventh-Day Adventism. Within all three portions of my youth, there is stiflingly little room for the gay man I’ve become. The gay seventeen-year-old who loved his best friend more than he himself could quite articulate nearly perished in the closet he helped society build for him to live inside.

Two books, separated by more than a decade, written about teenage boys and their forays into the greater meaning of their sexual selves truly dig into this topic of Sexual Violence in Young Adult Literature in dynamic ways. There is this bleak moment from Jim Grimsley’s DREAM BOY that takes place just before Nathan, our protagonist, is brutally raped by one of his boyfriend Roy’s best friends:

“Weariness. The hollow place in Nathan is echoing now, the inner wind is ripping him to rags, entering through the place where Dad tore him, the opening that Burke sees now, the wound that does not close. The dark attic fills with the sound that only Nathan can hear, the one note of the one song. He has knelt in this way before, there is nothing to do but let go again, with his head throbbing. It is as if he deserves it, as if both he and Burke understand that he is made for this use; Dad opened a hole in Nathan, and now anyone can use it. He opens his mouth, he makes a circle. Burke pushes inside.”

A great deal of abusive language occurs between Nathan and Roy throughout the book before Burke actually brutalizes Nathan. Like Nathan’s father, Roy often tells Nathan he cannot share their “secret”, that Nathan is not his boyfriend, and even a moment of jealousy occurs between the two boys as Nathan speaks briefly with a girl outside school because Roy has decided, that day, to ignore him entirely. This one poignant sentence sums up much of Nathan’s experience with Roy: “Roy will treat Nathan as he pleases, and Nathan expects the coldness. In the daylight Nathan will be invisible.”

And yet, throughout much of their relationship, Nathan first learns the truth of how he feels about what his father does to him. Another sentence from the book tells us “that what pleases him with Roy terrifies him with his father.” Both times I read this book I could not help but wonder whether Nathan would have felt half the things he did about Roy—the times he glimpsed his father’s rage in Roy’s discomfort, those moments he realized himself unequal compared to Roy—had his father never toyed with him as a child.

Nick Burd’s THE VAST FIELDS OF ORDINARY examines a different type of abusive relationship, one perhaps more akin to millennial experiences. The first time we see Dade Hamilton, our narrator, and Pablo Soto together in a scene, the same language which pervaded Nathan and Roy’s relationship exists here: “We don’t tell anybody about this.” “I already have a girlfriend. I don’t need another one.” This paragraph, taking place directly after Dade professes his love for Pablo (“I love you.”), forces knots in my stomach every time:

“I peered up at him to see his reaction. He’d screwed his face up into a look of disgust. He moved forward and grabbed me, pushed me against the wall, and raised his fist back behind his head. He was ready to punch me. I thought back to the first time he’d touched me, of all the times he touched me, of the way he pushed my face away whenever I tried to kiss him and how that didn’t stop me from trying over and over again.”

Two brief lines of dialogue later, we read this line: “He smacked me across the face. Hard.”

These books need not represent the brunt of LGBTQ youth experiences in this country. Let me be the first to say I am glad this isn’t the case. Yet with the swell of greater human rights, let us not forget how much work is still to be done. In every high school there aren’t just gay teens bursting out of the closet, many of them find themselves doing so due to or in line with abusive relationships because, despite Glee and Modern Family and LGBTQ-positive YA fiction, the reality of boyfriends or girlfriends is still underrepresented. Out of fear of being caught, both Pablo and Roy, each in his way, maintained sexual engagement with Dade and Nathan because it felt good and little understanding as to how to relate to their sexual partner outside of sex existed on their television screens during primetime or in the books they read (or didn’t). As we’ve learned with homosexuality in general, lack of representation breeds fear and encourages malcontent, most of all inside the person realizing how little of themselves they actually see on a daily basis.

Let us not make this same mistake with victims of sexual abuse who also happen to be gay.

Anthony L. Isom writes young adult and children’s fiction, serves as fiction editor for the East Jasmine Review (an online literary magazine), and volunteers regularly as both actor and stagehand at the local Croswell Opera House in downtown Adrian, Michigan. Currently, he is working feverishly toward joining his literary voice with the millions of others speaking to young people worldwide. “As is a tale, so is life; not how long it is, but how good it is is what matters.” 

This is the first in a series that Anthony is writing on the GLBTQ experience in #SVYALit.

Book Review: A Death Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

Publisher’s Description: 

A deadly pandemic, a budding romance, and the heartache of loss make for a stunning coming-of-age teen debut about the struggle to survive during the 1918 flu.

For Cleo Berry, the people dying of the Spanish Influenza in cities like New York and Philadelphia may as well be in another country–that’s how far away they feel from the safety of Portland, Oregon. And then cases start being reported in the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode–and into a panic. Headstrong and foolish, seventeen-year-old Cleo is determined to ride out the pandemic in the comfort of her own home, rather than in her quarantined boarding school dorms. But when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she can’t ignore the call. As Cleo struggles to navigate the world around her, she is surprised by how much she finds herself caring about near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies begin to pile up, Cleo can’t help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?

Riveting and well-researched, A Death-Struck Year is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history. Readers will be captured by the suspenseful storytelling and the lingering questions of: what would I do for a neighbor? At what risk to myself?

An afterword explains the Spanish flu phenomenon, placing it within the historical context of the early 20th century. Source notes are extensive.

Karen’s Thoughts:

It probably is weird, but I love a good plague. I recorded and watch the movie Contagion often. I have been excited for months to see the premiere of the new series The Last Ship. So I have been very excited to read this book, and it did not disappoint.

A Death Struck Year tells the story of Cleo during the Spanish Influenza outbreak in the early 1900s. When we first meet her, she is in a boarding school for a short period of time while her brother and his wife, her guardians, are on a trip. As the outbreak begins spreading, the school is quarantined, large gatherings are prohibited, etc. Cleo sneaks out of the school to go home understanding that she will not be permitted to return.

At home, Cleo volunteers for the Red Cross where she goes out and knocks on doors to distribute safety brochures. On her very first day she comes to a home where the family is severely ill and gets them to the makeshift hospital. Overwhelmed by what she has seen, she isn’t sure if she can come back the next day, but as someone who suffered an accident herself and was saved by another she is motivated to return time and time again because she knows that if she doesn’t these people will die alone in their homes.

A Death Struck Year excels in some of the storytelling elements that draw me to the epidemic crisis genre. By focusing on this single town, Lucier really captures the intense, claustrophobic feeling that happens when you realize the world is both much smaller and much bigger than you realized in the face of impending death and despair. Readers get to know individual characters and then, because this is the reality of life, we learn that many of them do no make it.

For me, a person who is not a huge historical fiction reader, it was truly fascinating to read about a real life epidemic in a historical setting and more fully understand how the limitations of the time contributed to the rapid spread of the disease. For example, the medical advancements we have today weren’t available and that plays a part in the treatment of those who succumb. And Cleo’s family has a harder time getting home during this crisis because they must travel by train. It was so very interesting to read about cranking one’s car to get it started and how the telephone operator would just shut off a call because it was determined as she listened that the call wasn’t an emergency. These historical details really interested me and were a fascinating part of Cleo’s story.

Cleo herself was a rich and interesting character because day after day she must make the unselfish decision to put herself in harm’s way to help those in this great time of need. She defies some cultural norms with her strong, fiercely independent choices. It is through her eyes that was see this pandemic play out, which gives it a fierce immediacy that draws you in.

There is a little chaste romance that begins to bloom in the midst of our story and I liked the authenticity of it, the way that Cleo and Edmund slowly and realistically were drawn to each other. As I read it I thought to myself, my homeschoolers and Inspirational fiction readers who are drawn to historical fiction will really love this story. Although I did also note that a scene where Cleo and her friend discuss stealing and reading a brochure on birth control (including douching, which we now know is not a form of birth control at all) would be an issue for some.

For an interesting companion read, check out Plus One by Elizabeth Fama which is set in a dystopian present day based on rules established as a result of the events of this same Spanish Flu outbreak. Or check out any of these additional YA novels that involve outbreaks. And of course, readers who enjoyed A Death Struck Year would also really enjoy Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.

SLJ gives A Death Struck Year a starred review (4/01/2014). I highly recommend A Death Struck Year for its solid characterization, pitch perfect pacing, fierce immediacy and the spot on insight into a town plagued by a very deadly disease. 

Released in March 2014 from Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 9780544164505

Viva Las Vegas: Christie’s Author Crawl ALA Vegas

Now, while I do go to conferences for sessions and learning, and comradere and advanced reading copies, I also go to further my collection habit. Not funko pop figures (although that’s getting pretty bad) but signed books. And conferences are one of the best places as librarians understand my addiction! While I think that the Texas Library Association has the best way of queuing author lines (they have a whole section of the exhibit floor sectioned off just for author signing sessions, and set schedules so that the exhibit floor doesn’t get crowded up and backlogged), you will still find me going around with copies of my favorite books. In fact, I have been working since 2010 to get my copy of Zombies vs Unicorns completely signed, and I will one day get it finished.

I’ve put my list of authors I’m hoping to see/hear/get signatures from below the break.

Note: the books/series listed after the authors are the ones that I like/know them for, not the ones that they are signing for; check the ALA Scheduler to see titles or their publisher’s website. 

Also, these are my crush authors- there are more out there attending ALA Annual that I would love to get signatures for to give to my “kids” and my heart family, but I have to be choosy; there’s only myself and That Guy, so we can only be in two lines, and we’re flying to Vegas- mailing back tons of books or trying to fly with bags of books does not do my budget any good.

I’ve shown you mine- who are you looking forward to seeing? Share in the comments!


Scott Westerfeld, Uglies series, Midnighters series, and a Zombie vs Unicorn author
(Simon & Schuster Author Event)


Neal Shusterman, Unwind Trilogy
 (Simon & Schuster Meet the Author event) 
Tim Federle 5,6,7, Nate!  and Hickory Daquiri Dock
 (speaking at the Rainbow List/Amelia Bloomer Panel & Simon & Schuster Author Event)
Sara Farizan If You Could Be Mine and Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel
 (speaking at the Rainbow List/Amelia Bloomer Panel & Workman/Algonquin Author Event)
Stan Lee 
(does anyone even know if you can get anything signed when he speaks?!??!!)
Jonathan Maberry Rot and Ruin Series
  (Simon & Schuster Author Event)
Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince, Love Is The Drug, and Z vs U author (Scholastic Author Event)
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief and I am the Messenger (Scholastic Author Event) 

Ellen Hopkins, Tricks and Rumble
(Simon & Schuster Author Event)

Matt de la Pena, The Living and Mexican Whiteboy
(Random House Children’s Author Event)


Mo Willems, Don’t Let the Pigeon series (Disney-Hyperion Author Event)

Avi, Nothing But The Truth and Sophia’s War (Simon & Schuster Author Event)
Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children (Lerner Publishing and I believe also the Stonewall Awards Brunch)

Lauren Myracle, ttfn and yolo
(Abrams Books Author Event)

Marie Lu, Legend Series and The Young Elites
(Penguin Young Readers Author Event)

Ally Condie, Matched Trilogy and Atlantia

Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Cycle Series and Wolves of Mercy series (Scholastic Author Event)
Cassandra Clare & Holly Black, The Iron Trials and U vs Z author/editors (Scholastic Author Event)
Coe Booth, Bronxwood, Tyrell and Kendra (Scholastic Author Event)

Jay Asher, Th1rteen R3asons Why and The Future of Us
(Penguin Young Readers Author Event)

Judy Blume (really- do you not know who she is?!??!!)
(Simon & Schuster Author Event)

Leigh Bardugo, Grisha Trilogy (Macmillan Children’s Author Event)
Raina Telgemeier, Drama and Smile (Scholatic Author Event)

Stonewall Awards Brunch
Kevin Henkes, The Year of Billy Miller and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
(HarperCollins Children’s Books Author Event)

Middle Grade Monday – Going to ALA?

Are you a Middle Grade fan going to ALA Annual in Las Vegas this year? Here are the list of middle grade authors I’d want to queue up for if I had the opportunity:

  • Jon Scieszka – He’ll be there promoting his new Frank Einstein book, the beginning of a middle grade science series about a 10 year old boy genius who likes to invent, Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor.
  • Joan Bauer – She will be promoting her newest middle grade, Tell Me, about twelve year old Anna, who is spending time with her grandmother when she notices another girl her age who seems to be in trouble. I love all of her books; they are very popular at school.
  • Jarrett KrosoczkaLunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle is the latest in Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady series of graphic novels for the upper elementary set. I’d love to have these for the school collection, they are hilarious. 
  • Jennifer Holm – She’ll be there with her newest middle grade novel, The Fourteenth Goldfish, which features Ellie, an eleven year old girl who suspects the her newest classmate is actually her grandfather (a scientist obsessed with the secrets of youth.)
  • Holly Black – HOLLY BLACK, OMG!!!!!!!! She’ll be there to sign Doll Bones.  You’d be a fool not to go meet her. OMG!!!! Wish I were going. *sobs*
  • Tim Federle – He’ll be there with Five, Six, Seven Nate (sequel to the Stonewall Award Honor Book Better Nate Than Ever.
  • Deborah Wiles – She’ll be there to promote her Sixties Trilogy, which so far includes Countdown and Revolution.
  • Jacqueline Woodson – With her autobiographical work Brown Girl Dreaming, Woodson opens up a window onto early events that contributed to her inspired writing talent. Like Holly Black, a MUST MEET. She’s completely amazing (I met her about 15 years ago.)
  • Vince Vawter – He will be there with his Newbery Award Honor Book Paperboy.
  • Tom Angleberger – The Origami Yoda author will be there with his newest novel The Quickwick Papers: Poop Fountain.
  • Avi – How could you not? Will be there to promote the American Revolution story based on actual events, Sophia’s War.
  • Rita Williams GarciaWith P.S. Be Eleven, the amazing author has a sequel that more than meets expectations raised by the first, One Crazy Summer. 
  • Cynthia Kadohata – The Newbery Medal winning author be there to promote her newest novel, Half a World Away.
  • Merrie Haskell – She will be there with her Schneider Family Book Award Winner, Handbook for Dragon Slayers.
  • Christopher Paul Curtis – The multiple award winning author will be there to promote his Elijah of Buxton. He is well worth the wait.
  • Raina Telgemeier – she’ll be there promoting the brilliant middle grades graphic novel Smile and the upcoming Sisters.
  • Pseudonymous Bosch – He will be there to promote his interactive Write This Book and The Name of this Book is Secret.

    And those are just the Middle Grade authors! All of you going to ALA this year are a lucky bunch.

Luck be a Lady Tonight: Christie’s ALA 14 Highlights

Everyone has their own reasons for attending conferences- I love to go to different places, and take in all the librarianship-ness, and I get to meet up with my library family; those people whom I’ve connected with through committees along the way that have become part of my heart family that I don’t see save through conferences. This is the first year in 10 that I’m not on a book committee (having just finished my term as chair of the Rainbow Project), and while I’ll be assisting in a variety of events, I have my own top picks for this conference. The trick is going to be getting to them with things spread out across Vegas (investing in cab money and a monorail ticket is going to be key, along with a new pair of tennis shoes), and in at least one case, getting a seat!

My highlights for sessions/panels are below the break. What are you most interested in seeing? Share in the comments!


Rainbow List/ Amelia Bloomer Project Author Panel
Saturday, June 28: 8:30 am @ Neopolitan IV, Caesars Palace
I’m extremely excited about this one as I helped get the two committees together, and I’ve worked on both in the past. I love that they’re working together on an author panel, and I hope that this becomes a regular event at Annual. The line-up of authors is spectacular, as well!

William Klaber, author of The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, and Rita Williams-Garcia, author of P.S. Be Eleven and One Crazy Summer, from the 2014 and 2011 lists respectively. The powerful way these authors treat social injustices stemming from racial and gender discrimination and gender non-conformity in their writing suggest they will be compelling speakers.
Tim Federle is the author of Better Late than Never, a Stonewall Honor book, and it’s sequel Five, Six, Seven Nate! Sara Farizan is the author of If You Could Be Mine, which recently won a Lambda Literary Award, as well as the upcoming Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel. Both authors were on the 2014 Rainbow List.

 Stan Lee: Auditorium Speakers Series
Saturday, June 28: Noon @ N249, Convention Center
OMG! This is the one where I’m worried about getting a seat- maybe I can get That Guy to get squatter rights and save one for me while I dash from Caesar’s over to the Convention Center. 

Treat yourself to magical superpowers, a sinister conspiracy, and an
unlikely hero with Stan Lee, known to millions as the man whose Super Heroes propelled Marvel to its preeminent position in the comic book industry and whose co-creations include Spider-Man™, The Avengers ™, X-Men™, Iron Man™, The Incredible Hulk™, The Fantastic Four™, and hundreds of others.
Lee will talk among other things about his forthcoming action-packed illustrated novel Zodiac, based on the Chinese Zodiac. Co-written with Stuart Moore and illustrated by Andie Tong, it follows Steven Lee, a young Chinese-American teen who is drawn into a mysterious conspiracy surrounding twelve mystical pools of energy and a power-hungry secret organization. (January 2015, Disney Publishing Worldwide.)


Space Planning Primer
Sunday, June 29: 8:30 am @ S222, Convention Center

I’m working on rearranging my library, but we have such little space to work with and have to deal with the existing furniture. Even though I’m going to conference completely on my own money, I want to see if this will have any ideas for my work situation.

This interactive workshop will provide a primer for assessing space needs and planning library space use. Attendees will be able to choose from an array of topic-based consultation stations, each focusing on building block basics, the most current application techniques, and emerging trends. For each topic, identification of the most important “how tos” and most helpful resources will enable attendees to define their vision for a new or renewed library environment.This interactive workshop will provide a primer for assessing space needs and planning library space use. Attendees will be able to choose from an array of topic-based consultation stations, each focusing on building block basics, the most current application techniques, and emerging trends. For each topic, identification of the most important “how tos” and most helpful resources will enable attendees to define their vision for a new or renewed library environment.

Getting a Bigger Piece of the Pie
Sunday, June 29: 1 pm @ N240, Convention Center
We always seem to be going through funding crises at the library, and it always seems to be an uphill battle with my library being at the bottom because we have the lowest circulation- yet we have the most programs and the highest number of youth and young adults coming in the door. With changes in the structures, i want to see what I can improve on.

Learn from the experts about how to get to know, communicate with, and influence those who approve your library’s budget. Even in tough times, there are strategies to get your more.

Change Does Not Suck
Sunday, June 29: 4 pm @ N239/241, Convention Center
We are going through a lot of change in my system, and I’m going through a lot of changes in my personal life. So I want to see what this can do to help me, and how I can use these strategies in my professional and personal life. I *like* change, the problem is when not everyone is on board, and that’s what I’m batting my head against.

Change is not only inevitable, it is necessary. In this session librarians from a variety of organizations will discuss strategies on coping with change on both a personal and institutional level; how to make hard choices and decide what must be prioritized; and how to get buy in for change from managers, staff, and other stakeholders. This lively session will include real-world examples and lessons learned. Participants will be encouraged to weigh in and share their own stories of making change happen. 

 Stonewall Book Awards Brunch
Monday, June 30: 10:30 am @ Champagne, Paris Hotel
This is a ticketed event, so be sure to have a ticket if you want food. If you want to come hear the speakers, you are welcome to come and listen in the back (this is also true of the speeches of the Newbery and Caldecott ticketed events- YMMV)
Celebrate the winners of the 2014 Stonewall Book Awards at the annual brunch. The Stonewall Book Awards are the oldest awards honoring the best in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender writing. Join the GLBT Round Table as it recognizes the winners and honorees in fiction, non-fiction, and children’s and young adult categories. Winners can be found here: http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2014/01/2014-stonewall-book-awards-announced ; however, authors may not all appear.

Comic Bakery: Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, & Jerzy Drozd
Monday, June 30: Noon @ Graphic Novel/Gaming Stage, Convention Center Exhibit Hall
I love all of these author/creators, so I can’t wait to hear what they’re doing. If Karen’s tWeen is still in town, I’m betting I can take her with me to participate.

A live performance graphic novel theater involving lots of audience participation and silliness. Raina Telgemeier (Drama), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), and Jerzy Drozd (Cap’n Cat) will perform chapters from some of their latest comics. 

The Library Games
Monday, June 30: 5:30 pm @ Ballroom G, Las Vegas Hotel
This just sounds like an awesome mash-up, and I’m interested to see what the challenges are.

First there were the Olympic Games, then the Hunger Games became all the rage. Combine the two and you get The Library Games! Four brave teams of librarians competing in several fast-paced, cut-throat events to take home the trophy and be crowned the champions of libraryland. Audience participation and voting will be crucial to the outcome, so make sure you are there to witness history in the making.