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Things I Never Learned in Library School: On Being a Teen Librarian 2 Weeks After the Election of Donald Trump


I knew eventually something like this would happen, I just didn’t think it would be so soon. The call came on Friday. A co-worker, her nephew took his own life. He was both black and gay and he saw the writing on the wall and he was scared. He read the news, he heard the hate, and he saw no future for himself. Just days later Trump supporters were seen praising the election results while making a Heil Hitler salute. (See: At White Supremacist Meeting: Nazi Salutes, Heil Hitler Chants ; White Nationalists Quote Nazi Propaganda, Salute Donald Trump)


Last night I went for a walk with The Teen. We walked long and far as she told me how sad she was about the racist things she was seeing and hearing in the middle school.

Why don’t you go back to where you came from? . . . .

I can’t wait until we build that wall . . . .

You are a terrorist . . .


Another friend reported that last week there were 2 sexual incidences at work. In one, an employee asked maintenance to get them a garbage can and they replied, “No, I’d rather see your tits.” In another, someone said a sexually assaultive remark and replied, “That’s just how men talk.” (See: Trump’s ‘locker room talk’ ; Donald Trump, ‘Locker-Room Talk’ and Sexual Assault)


In the meantime, Donal Trump has met with the press and is already attempting to attack Freedom of the Press. He has tweeted out about the New York Times 7 times, stating that they are “not nice.” He has tweeted about Hamilton the Musical. You know what he hasn’t tweeted about? He hasn’t tweeted about the rising incidence of hate crimes, many of which are being carried out in his name. This is Trump’s America now some say, as they taunt, harass, and intimidate others. (See: Donald Trump Personally Blasts the Press – The New Yorker ; Billionaires vs. the Press in the Era of Trump ; Trump Says Freedom of the Press Must Go Because He’s ‘Not Like Other People ; Donald Trump’s War on Press Freedom)


I was a librarian on 9/11. It was a scary time. I was in the library, working, when the towers fell. I remember the fear of not knowing what comes next. But there were some things that brought me comfort. The press, for example, was not under assault and being intimidated by our elected leaders.

This feels like scary new territory.

Freedom of the press and speech, those were things a lot of us took for granted. That fight had already been fought and won, I thought. As a librarian, it was – to me – a given. Now suddenly it is something I have to keep reminding myself and others to be vigilant about.


A. S. King is one of my favorite teen authors. She writes surreallism. In her novel, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, “from ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions–and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do anything to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.” The book was written in 2014, and here we are in 2016.

The Hunger Games was a warning my friends, not a guide book. Dystopian literature was not meant to be a sounding board for government leaders, but a warning call to world citizens.

And yet here we are, 2016. Freedom of the press is being assaulted in the nation that felt so strongly about it that they made it the first item in the Bill of Rights. The very Nazis we once applauded Indiana Jones for defeating our saluting our newly elected leader. Men are talking about sexual assault and proclaiming, “that’s just how men are.” And our children are lining up to call each other racial slurs.


At a recent conversation over at School Library Journal, YA author Michael Grant suggested that now was not the time to worry about little things like representation in kidlit and cultural appropriation. But the truth is, maybe we are here because we didn’t worry about it sooner.

See also: Spending the Day After the 2016 Election with Teenagers

Book Review: Gap Life by John Coy

Publisher’s description

gap lifeCray got into the same college his father attended and is expected to go. And to go pre-med. And to get started right away. His parents are paying the tuition. It should be an easy decision.

But it’s not.

All Cray knows is that what’s expected of him doesn’t feel right. The pressure to make a decision—from his family, his friends—is huge. Until he meets Rayne, a girl who is taking a gap year, and who helps him find his first real job, at a home of four adults with developmental disabilities. What he learns about himself and others will turn out to be more than any university could teach him—and twice as difficult.


Amanda’s thoughts

Here’s a thing I liked about this book right off the bat: the premise. That’s specific, right? What I mean is, I liked the idea of  a story about a teen who is pretty sure that heading right to college isn’t the right track for him. We don’t see a whole lot of this in YA and I certainly know plenty of teenagers who took a gap year, or a few gap years, or have decided that maybe college isn’t for them at this point in their lives. It’s nice to see this feeling in YA. I hesitate to say something like “it’s nice to see this uncertainty” because Cray, the main character, isn’t necessarily uncertain. He certainly knows he doesn’t want to be forced to attend the college both his dad and grandpa did and become a doctor just like they did—just like nearly everyone in his family does. And really, if there’s a time to feel really uncertain, and to reclaim that word as, if not positive, then at least okay, it’s when high school is ending. Everything you’ve ever known is changing, it’s likely you’re about to be on your own (to varying degrees) for the first time ever, and, no pressure, you’re also supposed to be figuring out exactly what it is you want to do with the rest of your entire life. It’s okay to feel like maybe you need to step back and figure out what it is that you want, which is exactly what Cray does.


The plot is pretty well summed up in the publisher’s description above, so I’m just going to talk some more about other specifics that I liked. It takes a lot of guts for Cray to walk away from what his parents have planned for him–a fully paid for education and other benefits, like a new car. He’s led a very privileged life, and to be able to walk away from these things is also coming from a place of privilege, but he’s determined to make his own way. His controlling father demands Cray get a job and pay rent, which Cray promptly does. Cray’s choice to overrule his parents’ plans for his future leaves them feeling mad, disappointed, betrayed, and humiliated. Cray’s work at the group home turns out to be harder but more interesting than he originally thought (his initial summation of working overnights at this job as being “paid to sleep” turns out to not exactly be accurate). The members of the house he works at are great, well-developed secondary characters. The guiding principle of their house is helping people live as independently as possible, which of course also becomes the ideal that Cray begins to work toward in his own life. Part of me couldn’t quite buy that Cray, who’s inexperienced, would land a job like this, but then I started to think of all the young adults I know around Cray’s age who’ve held these exact jobs. I also really appreciated seeing so many teenagers in this book with jobs of all kinds.


We only really get to see Cray’s life for a short chunk of weeks, just over the summer. Because this is a short, fast read, some details are dealt with on a pretty surface level. A longer book would’ve allowed more exploration of his relationship (or potential relationship) with free-spirit Rayne, who’s also taking a gap year, or his falling out with a close friend (and more about why Jett and Nora dislike Rayne so much). That said, the quick pace works for this story, because it keeps the focus tightly on Cray and his struggle over what to do with the next year. During the summer, Cray makes some serious missteps, whether it’s being unprofessional at his new job or misjudging things with Rayne, all of which further reinforce how young Cray is and how little he really knows yet about anything.


Teen readers will find plenty to discuss and relate to in Gap Life as Cray tries to figure out the future and worries that maybe his gap year will become a gap life. An honest and unique look at forging your own way and embracing uncertainty. 



Full disclosure: John and I share an agent, the fantastic Andrea Cascardi at Transatlantic Literary Agency. 

Review copy courtesy of the author and the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781250088956

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication date: 11/22/2016

Middle School Monday: Reading Incentive Programs Limit More Than Choice

MSM1That a school librarian has something to say about reading incentive programs is not new. I’m not here to tell you whether or not to do them—but rather to talk about the one aspect of incentive programs that I see to be particularly damaging.

Several teachers I’ve known have used (and use) Book Adventure to track and or quiz student reading. Students then come into the library for an ‘ADVENTURE’ book. [When I first started at my current school, I misunderstood and thought students were asking for an adventure story. After initially thinking, ‘wow, these kids are really into adventure,’ I then understood.] Sigh. We’ve all probably been in this situation…and felt miserable watching a student put a book back on the shelf because it is not on an arbitrary list.

Here’s the problem with Book Adventure that came apparent very quickly as I started searching for books that students and I were choosing to see if they ‘qualified’. THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH #OWNVOICES AUTHORS AND STORIES. Let me give some examples of gaps that are simply not acceptable.

  • Ahem. Not one Matt de la Peña book is part of Book Adventure. Not one. This is our 2016 Newbery Award Winning Author. This is the author who just won NCTE’s Intellectual Freedom Award. Where is he?
  • Walter Dean Myers. Walter Dean Myers! Some of his novels are there, but no Monster. Monster! Printz Award Winner (and still fits within the K-8 Book Adventure framework).
  • Jason Reynolds? Not one.
  • Meg Medina? Nope.
  • Daniel José Older? Rita Williams-Garcia? Kekla Magoon? No. No. No. What?
  • Gene Luen Yang who is currently our National Ambassador for Young People’s LIterature has American Born Chinese included in Book Adventure, but that’s it. No Boxers. No Saints. No Shadow Hero, Avatar or Secret Coders.

You get the idea…

Reading Incentive programs that are tied into quizzes from outside sources [like AR or Book Adventure] can limit choice for students. What is the single biggest factor for reading engagement? Choice. Choice! In this way, reading incentive programs obviously limit access to choice-based reading, but they also limit access to books written by diverse authors.

[If you’re wondering, I searched for white authors of comparative success/critical acclaim and found a higher percentage of books included. There is definitely a Masters Project there, MSLS students!]

So, what are we to do? Our 7th Grade English Teacher, Ms. Thomas, has devised a wonderful work-around. Her students pick any book they want to read for her classroom reading. If there already is a quiz in Book Adventure, great. If not, she reads the books herself and writes quizzes for the students using Quia. Is that time consuming? Of course. But she rightly felt like it was necessary to support students’ reading AND support diverse authors and literature. [Yea, Ms. Thomas!]

I’m not trying to pick on Book Adventure—it is a free program and I love free programs. I also appreciate that the text on their site indicates that they WANT more quizzes created and they recognize that more quizzes = more choice for students. [For Book Adventure, you can submit to be a quiz creator.] During this coming year and summer [and well forever], I want to make sure that more books are included that are #ownvoices stories. I just read Ghost by Jason Reynolds this weekend. [Wonderful!] That is the first quiz I’d like to create. Then, I’ll start with the authors/gaps listed above and move on from there.

Will you help? If you’re already a quiz creator for Book Adventure or a similar reading incentive program, will you be intentional about including more diverse books? Or, will you consider registering to upload quiz content? I just filled out my application for Book Adventure. [Find more information at bookadventure.com/frequently_asked_questions.aspx.]

Does this make me love reading incentive programs? No. I’ve read too many valid arguments against them. However, realistically, I know teachers are going to continue to use them, so we have to work to support and promote #ownvoices titles to ensure that they are included.

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib. I see a lot of quizzes in my future. And, I don’t even LIKE quizzes about books that have only one correct answer. But, that’s another post…

Have a great week!

Sunday Reflections: On Being Appreciated and Making a Difference

sundayreflections1I spent the first 21 years of my career as a school librarian. First, I served in an elementary school where 97% of the students lived in poverty. The smallest things I did in the students lives were noticeable, from keeping school supplies and personal wellness items available to them at all times, to advocating for free reading time, I knew I was making a difference. I felt appreciated by my students and their parents, to be honest I always have. On the other hand, the school administration tended to treat me as a catch all employee. Whenever something needed to be done, it was assigned to me, regardless of the fact that my time was completely scheduled. They had little understanding of what it took to run a library and teach classes all day, as well as support instruction and advocate for students, and no interest in learning.

Next, I served in a middle school with a 65% poverty rate where teachers generally survived 1 to 3 years. I lasted 5. My administration mostly left me alone to do my job, which was nice, until a new administration came in and made it difficult for students to leave their classrooms, even to come to the library. There was a general lack of understanding of my role and the role of the library on campus, and no interest in learning. But the same things were true. Whether or not my supervisor (aka the principal) understood my role in the building, I knew I was making a difference. It was there in the eyes of the students who told me, “I never thought I liked reading until I met you.”

Finally, I was librarian at a middle school with only 40% of the students living in poverty (the district average.) It was not as easy to see the difference I was making in the student’s lives, as many of them came to me already loving to read. I did, however, have more time to do my actual job of running the library, teaching classes, and supporting instruction. Until the administration changed. Before the change, I was evaluated on a regular schedule and received ratings related to how I was performing my actual job duties. After the change, I was evaluated sporadically, but always received the highest marks in everything as long as I willingly took on every job that was sent my way. I became tech support for a school with 800 laptops. I managed the student log ins to every platform available to them. I lost my assistant. And gradually, I became less and less of a librarian. It was sad. Not only was I unappreciated by my administration and coworkers, I could no longer see the difference I was making in the lives of my students.

Now, ideally, one would be both appreciated and able to see the difference one is making in the population being served. And by appreciation, please let me be clear, I mean that coworkers and supervisors understand and value the contributions you make to the organization while performing your primary functions as a librarian. Having one or the other would be enough, but having neither is the signal that it is time to leave.

I am currently working as a children’s librarian in a public library system. I’ve been here for 5 months. I am mainly working with preschool aged children, but I also get to work with all ages doing STEM programming. Am I appreciated? Yes. My supervisors have all held my position at one time – even my branch manager. I am treated with respect and my contributions are valued. Am I able to see the difference I am making? Yes. It’s there on the faces of the children I serve and the faces on their parents. I am seeing little minds grow and learn, and it is beautiful.

I know this probably isn’t the normal Sunday Reflections material you come to read, so thanks for getting to the end of it. And, if you find yourself in a similar position to the one I was in, neither appreciated nor making a visible difference in your position, I would respectfully suggest that it is time to consider a change.

Friday Finds: November 18, 2016

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

#MHYALit Sunday Reflections: The hard work of getting help and getting better

Embracing Content Creation Queries – Guest post by Lynette Pitrak

Middle School Monday: Finding, Funding, and Flooding

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA November and December 2016

#MHYALit: For My Suicidal Friends, On the Election of Donald Trump, a guest post by Olivia James

Now What? On Being a Librarian and a Book Lover After the 2016 Election

My Teen Daughter Gave Me Permission to Write about her Eating Disorder, ARFID By Stephanie Elliot

Around the Web

The National Book Awards Make a Powerful Statement

You might want to be following this Twitter feed

Some really great guidance

Signal boost

Preschools: When It’s Done Right, The Benefits Last

Announcing the Ultimate End of the Year List Sequence: 31 Days, 31 Lists

In the war on fake news, school librarians have a huge role to play

The Term ‘Graphic Novel’ Has Had A Good Run.


My Teen Daughter Gave Me Permission to Write about her Eating Disorder, ARFID By Stephanie Elliot

MHYALitlogoofficfialMy daughter has an eating disorder and it’s unlike the usual suspects. Everyone is familiar with bulimia and anorexia nervosa, but what my daughter has is called ARFID, which stands for Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

ARFID, simply put, is the fear of eating – extreme picky eating; the fear that if you try something new, you might very well die. It sounds completely unbelievable, but this is the mind-thought of those who have the disorder. It has nothing to do with feelings of self-esteem or image issues, and almost everyone who has it suffers from depression, anxiety, and other social issues. It is most definitely a mental disorder and is listed in the DSM-5. Children and adults with ARFID will gag or vomit if new foods are introduced to them. They restrict foods, only eating a bank of small ‘safe’ foods, and distant themselves from friends and family. The disorder can get so bad that some turn to self-harm and have suicidal ideation.

My daughter McKaelen is 17 and she’s had ARFID for almost her whole life, but was only diagnosed when she was 15. For years we knew something was wrong – she was an extremely picky eater, she became reclusive, avoided friends, was distant with us, and didn’t participate in any family occasions that involved food. Doctors and therapists had no answers for us. She was healthy, growing at an above-average pace, and appeared normal. Only when we found a specialist in ARFID who could properly diagnose her did we find a way to recovery.

While McKaelen was in a 20-week outpatient program to learn to get better, I was writing a fictional account of her experience. This was therapy for me. We had been dealing with her eating disorder for years and years and I was learning so much. If I could write about her experience, and share the knowledge I was gaining about this mental disorder in order to help others learn, then I was going to do it. About halfway through her intense therapy, I knew I had to tell her I was writing about her experience. If she felt uncomfortable about it, I would stop. Instead, she embraced the idea and I kept writing.

sadperfect_09eWhile Sad Perfect is fiction, the symptoms of ARFID, and the accompanying anxiety, depression, and social distress in the book are true to what my daughter personally experienced. With McKaelen’s permission and thoughtful input, I share her story so that other teens going through something similar will be able to read this and know they are not alone.

I want struggling teens to know that their disorder has a name. They need to know that they’re not an anomaly, they are not the only kid who can’t try a food, and that it’s okay. These kids need to know that when they sit at the dining room table and they feel threatened, paralyzed, and incapable of doing the simple everyday task of eating a meal, it’s because they may have ARFID. They also need to know that it is a disorder that is not very well-known yet, but people in healthcare are finally talking about it, there is help available, and they can get better, with the right care and treatment plan.


Stephanie Elliot is the author of Sad Perfect (FSG, 2/28/17) and is an advocate for ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband and her three children.

For more book information please visit http://www.stephanieelliot.com.

For more information on ARFID, please visit http://stephanieelliot.wixsite.com/arfid.

Now What? On Being a Librarian and a Book Lover After the 2016 Election

It's been a week since the election. Emotions are high. Many people are legitimately fearful for their safety and well being given both the rhetoric of the campaign and the increase of hate crimes since the election. My teens are scared. So here's a look at what I am going to be doing as both a librarian and as a private citizen to help educate myself and other about civil rights and many of the issues being discussed. For more information, check out the hashtags #booksfighthate and #ownvoices.whattodo2

  1. As a LIBRARIAN, here's my plan for this week. Will be multiple tweets.

  2. 1) go through my collection. Walk through the shelves & write down every book that falls into one of these categories . . .

  3. Feminist YA
    Civil Rights
    Religious Freedom
    Sexual Violence
    Mental Health

  4. Native Americans
    2) Find online lists to compare.
    3) order and fill holes
    4) focus on #ownvoices
    5) make reading lists
    6) schedule displays

  5. This what I'm going to do as a private citizen that loves books https://t.co/sQrNpfkEIU

    This what I’m going to do as a private citizen that loves books pic.twitter.com/sQrNpfkEIU

  6. In addition, write and call all your elected representatives at every level and demand that they keep us safe & preserve democracy

  7. 7) start doing the same right now for 2017 titles


#MHYALit: For My Suicidal Friends, On the Election of Donald Trump, a guest post by Olivia James

MHYALitlogoofficfialTrigger warning for suicide, real talk about racism, sexism, and mental illness.

This post originally was posted on November 11, 2016 on We Got So Far To Go

I’m scared about the election of Donald Trump for many, many reasons, but one of the most pressing is the fact that it has retraumatized a number of already vulnerable people. I have seen reports (although currently unsubstantiated) of up to 8 trans youth who committed suicide on election night alone. While I do not have hard evidence of these suicides, I find it easy to believe that number or a higher number based on the number of personal friends I have who have quietly told me or others that they are in a place where they don’t feel safe. My office had to open extra space for individuals who were afraid to be alone. People are feeling hopeless and helpless, and when you apply those feelings to populations with histories of trauma, mental illness, disability, harassment, and discrimination, you end up with people who don’t see the point in living. That is dangerous.


I’ve lived most of my life with some level of suicidal ideation. I like to think I have a degree in hopelessness, since I spent my entire time in undergrad wanting to die. I know this isn’t quite the same, but I’d like to talk a little bit about how I get through. Maybe it will help you. I hope it does. If any of the reasons in here feels like pressure or doesn’t work for you, skip it. Take care of yourself. Please.


  1. First and foremost, I want you all to know that your fears are valid. Anyone who tells you that you’re overreacting or that we can get through this and we’ll all be ok can suck an egg. We don’t know what will happen in the next four years. Whatever is happening politically, we have already seen acts of harassment, violence, and hatred around our country in the last couple of days. If you have feelings of fear, grief, and hopelessness, don’t for a minute think that you’re “crazy” or even that you’re alone. Pay attention to those feelings. Take care of those feelings. Step one is to notice that you are feeling things and let yourself feel the feelings.


  1. That being said, it’s easy to let feelings of hopelessness and depression overwhelm you. It’s easy to think that there is no reason to go on living, because there are so many things to be afraid of and so many things that can hurt you or the people you love. But despite the Bigness of what we face and your feelings, there may be some things that you have forgotten. I know, I know, you don’t want to be reminded that good things exist. Of course they do. But the bad things are outweighing the good right now, aren’t they? Well, maybe. But it doesn’t matter how many bad things there are, it doesn’t change the nature of the good things. No matter how awful things get, my cats will still be Very Fuzzy. That sensation will still be pleasurable to me. There is nothing in the world that can change that. Try to remember a few of the things that don’t change because of the bad things, whether that’s your significant other, a pet, your favorite game, a good book, your preferred form of exercise, or what. You may find it harder to enjoy things right now, but keep in mind that what has changed is YOU not the activity. Remember that there are good things in the world too. The bad things still exist and they’re still bad. But they’re not IT. They’re not the whole story. You are actively lying to yourself when you say that nothing is good. Hold yourself to a higher standard, and do not let Donald Trump win by taking away the joy of Pokemon Go or Dungeons and Dragons or Moscato.


  1. I’ve seen quite a few people say that the things they used to care about don’t matter anymore. They’re too trite. Why should we care? Here is why. I believe that just being alive is not a good. Some of you may. But I personally think that the reason life is a good is because of all the things that make a person smile or laugh or have any amount of joy or good feeling. So it really does not matter how trite or small a good thing is. It is literally the reason for life if it makes you smile. I have given up on feeling guilty over my pleasures or worrying about laughing in inappropriate situations or missing the big picture. We are all fighting on the big picture front. We need to focus more on the small front in this moment. It is ok for your joys to be trite. They are still joy. Sometimes I laugh at butts. I don’t care how immature and pointless it is. It brings me joy. So butts are important. Whatever you care about? It is important because you care about. Please do not stop caring.


  1. Ok, this is pretty much here because of Number 3. I find that when I’m being incredibly judgmental of the things that should bring me joy, it’s because my brain is focused on the Big Picture and whether this will Change the World. Does it Matter? Honestly, no, whatever is happening in this exact moment probably won’t make a difference in the larger scheme of things. But that probably doesn’t matter if you focus on this exact moment. Life is made up of this exact moments. Most of the time they’re Do you have footie pajamies or a comfy blanket? Do you have a soft cat? Can you eat something delicious? If you have anything like that available, do it and try to only pay attention to that good thing. Turn your focus completely to it. It may just be a moment, but those moments, again, are the reason for living. That’s ok. It’s ok for those small moments to be all of it. If this moment’s only purpose is to give you a brief reprieve from depression, that seems like a pretty amazing purpose to me.


  1. Let’s talk for a second about hope. I have spent the last few days talking to as many people as I can. Connections are what keep me alive. What is astounding me is the resilience of the people around me, and the kindness of the people around me. The first impulse of every person I know is to ask if I’m ok, to see how others are, to volunteer their time, money, and resources to help other people. Racism and sexism are alive and real. I cannot deny that. At the same time, even the people who have unintentionally supported the racist and sexist systems are looking around and trying to see what they can do differently. People are acting. People are fervent to ensure the safety and health of their families and friends. There is someone there who can be this hope for you. Start a conversation with someone, anyone, and I will bet you that even if you’re asking about them, they will ask within the first 30 seconds how you are. This is one of the Good things. Not even the KKK can take it away.


  1. Your existence is important. If you die, we are losing. I cannot stop using this Audre Lorde quote because it is so perfect, and when I copy pasted it, the formatting was absurdly large. I think I’m going to keep it that way because it’s just that important.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

bamfordListen to Maria Bamford. If you have issues with the current political elite, the best revenge you can exact is to stay alive and thrive. We cannot fight without you.




  1. And finally, remember that people need you. Maybe this is selfish of me, but I cannot handle anyone else dying right now. I need you here. I need to know that you’re ok. And I honestly mean this: anyone, any time, if you are afraid and not ok, email me. I will talk to you. I will listen. Your fears and your feelings are real and valid, and I still believe that you can survive.


You all have my deepest love and support. Please, contact someone if you feel unsafe. See your therapist, talk to a close friend, call a hotline. Stay with us. We are stronger with you.


Meet Olivia James

11193332_10152762213502601_1744363452546004244_nOlivia is a marketer by day and a writer by basically every other time. If you met her you’d probably think “well there’s a big ol’ nerd” and you’d be right. You can often find her playing Dungeons and Dragons, cuddling with her cats, or ranting at anyone who will listen about social justice. Olivia has a weird obsession with octopuses and Latin, which is why it’s very important to her that it’s octopodes not octopi. In addition to blogging at “We Got So Far To Go” and doing actual work that she gets paid for, Olivia’s current projects are a young adult sci fi novel and her wedding to the coolest nerd partner anyone could ask for.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA November and December 2016

It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents). Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers November 2016 and December 2016 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (September and October 2016 titles) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers. I also have a 2017 master list that I’m working on. I tweeted screenshots of each month yesterday and am happy to send you the list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.


November 2016

marianMarian by Ella Lyons (ISBN-13: 9781634774215 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publication date: 11/03/2016)

Life changes for Marian Banner when she leaves the countryside for the big city of Nottingham with her father, Sir Erik the Fortunate, and Marian doesn’t think it’s an improvement. She must trade braids and leggings for jewelry and dresses, and hunting and wandering the woods for dancing and a life at court. But into Marian’s dull new world comes someone exciting—a girl named Robin Hood who is as courageous and dedicated as she is small. Robin is determined to become a knight, and she won’t let her gender stand in her way. The two girls quickly become inseparable.

Their friendship changes as time passes and becomes something much more serious—and more magical. When Marian’s father is killed and the king takes an interest in her, she’ll need Robin to prove she’s the hero she always wanted to be.


jess-chunkJess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (ISBN-13: 9780374380069 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 11/08/2016)

The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy. Now she’s a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first she has some unfinished business with her dad. So she’s driving halfway across the country to his wedding. He happens to be marrying her mom’s ex-best friend. It’s not like Jess wasn’t invited; she was. She just never told anyone she was coming. Surprise!

Luckily, Jess isn’t making this trip alone. Her best friend, Christophe—nicknamed Chunk—is joining her.

Along the way, Jess and Chunk learn a few things about themselves—and each other—which call their feelings about their relationship into question.

(For my review in SLJ of this title, head here.)


timekeeperTimekeeper by Tara Sim (ISBN-13: 9781510706187 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 11/08/2016)
Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.


avengedAvenged by E.E. Cooper (ISBN-13: 9780062293923 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/08/2016 Series: Vanished Series , #2)

Avenged is the conclusion to the Vanished duology, an absorbing, psychological suspense story about friendship, deception, jealousy, and love, perfect for fans of the Pretty Little Liars series and We Were Liars.

Everyone believes Beth’s death was an accident, except for Kalah. The girl she loved was stolen from her, and now Kalah’s broken heart wants revenge. In order to crack Brit’s perfect alibi, Kalah pretends to be Brit’s best friend—with the sole mission to destroy her.

Kalah knows that playing Brit’s game is deadly. One wrong move could cost someone her life, including her own…but the more lies Kalah tells, the closer she is to the twisted truth.



gravityGravity by Juliann Rich (ISBN-13: 9781626394834 Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Publication date: 11/15/2016)

A shot at Olympic gold in ski jumping. It’s a dream that has been the exclusive property of male athletes. Until now.

For seventeen-year-old Ellie Engebretsen, the 2011 decision to include women’s ski jumping in the Olympics is a game changer. She’d love to bring home the gold for her father, a former Olympic competitor whose dreams were blown along with his knees on an ill-timed landing. But can she defy the pull of gravity that draws her to Kate Moreau, her biggest competition and the girl of her dreams?

How can Ellie soar through the air when all she feels like doing is falling hard?



of-fireOf Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (ISBN-13: 9780062433251 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/22/2016)

An atmospheric and romantic debut fantasy perfect for fans of Ash and The Winner’s Curse.

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


December 2016

18-months18 Months by Samantha Boyette (ISBN-13: 9781626398047 Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Publication date: 12/13/2016)

Alissa Reeves came out for Hannah Desarno. Hannah is smart, beautiful, and has just gone missing. Worse, she isn’t Alissa’s first girlfriend to disappear. Eighteen months ago, Alissa was caught kissing bad girl Lana Meyers. Too scared to admit her feelings for Lana, Alissa let her friends blame Lana. Weeks later when Lana disappeared, no one in their small town thought much of it until months later when her body was found.

With Hannah gone, Alissa finds herself following clues that will help her discover what happened to both girls, and the truth will change everything.

Middle School Monday: Finding, Funding, and Flooding

MSM1Has our libraries’ mission to fill our shelves with books that reflect our students—and the world—ever been more important? We need reflective literature and #ownvoices books for all of our students. All the time.

Today, let’s talk about money. Yes, money. Because to make a commitment to filling our shelves with diverse books, reflective literature and counterstories is absolutely crucial (it’s not optional, fam). But, to have an actual plan for making it happen? That’s even better.

Lack of funds can’t be a barrier to getting the books our students need. I think I was at our school for two weeks last year before I asked my principal for more money. Always start with your own administration! Back up your ‘ask’ with data and student stories. If you happen to be at a Title I school, ask for some of the Title I funds—I can’t think of a better way to spend that money than on engaging, reflective literature that is going to increase the amount of reading our students do.

I’m lucky—I have an extremely supportive administration, and yes, they show that support in the way of funds for our library (after I asked for those funds). For my students, though, I’m greedy. To truly transform our collection, I needed more.

We all need more, don’t we? Are there ever enough books? [Both rhetorical questions.] Money is out there for us to diversify our shelves and programming—we simply have to be intentional about looking for it.

Last year, as I faced a collection that was woefully out of date and out of touch with my students, I turned to Donor’s Choose for books I could use with students in the classroom and for classroom reading. I had eleven Donor’s Choose projects funded last year. In my experience, donors like to support projects that involve BOOKS. That describe clear ways those books will be enjoyed and used by our students. If you’ve never used Donor’s Choose before, give it a try. Identify a set of books that you need. Perhaps your fiction collection needs more fantasy series with diverse characters. Let me rephrase that. ALL of our fiction collections need more fantasy series with diverse characters. We all need more LGBTQA+ titles. We all need more mysteries, realistic fiction, graphic novels, sci-fi, and poetry that feature diverse characters. That are written by #ownvoices authors.

We all need more class sets! Through Donor’s Choose last year, I received class sets of Shadowshaper, The Crossover, Open Mic, and Booked.


I love Donor’s Choose. Last year was my first year at my current school and because of a transformed collection, space, and policies, circulation rose 175%. That would not have been possible without Donor’s Choose and those 11 funded grants. Read more about Donor’s Choose here. [Also enjoyable to support other educators’ projects across the country!]

For this school year, my library was fortunate to be a recipient of a Laura Bush Foundation Grant. [Please read more about this wonderful grant program here.] My application focused on the need to make our collection more reflective of our students, their lived experiences, and their interests. I included specifics—specific titles, specific ways I would use the funds, specific data on what reflective collections can do.

The first batch of books ordered with Bush Foundation funds have been delivered and our library is flooded—flooded with reflective literature. It’s pure joy. Below are some pictures of these books, including a class set of You Don’t Even Know Me by Sharon Flake.


In addition to grant programs above, the below resources might be helpful for identifying a grant program that would fit with your school. [Already missed the deadline for this year? Mark your calendar for next year!]

I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib. Money for reflective books is out there! Let’s find it!