Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Soldering with teens: just like hot glue, but metal

tpibBefore I did it, soldering seemed like some kind of Super Advanced Tech Stuff that was way out of my league for teen programming. The only soldering I’d done was using a wide tipped soldering iron in stained glass work which, a friend observed, was more like using a bulldozer than the garden trowel required in soldering printed circuit boards. I’m here to tell you, folks: if you can use a hot glue gun, you can use a soldering iron.

Supplies

Soldering does require a good number of supplies. The startup costs are moderate, but easier to swallow when you keep in mind that most of the supplies can be purchased once and used multiple times. I started with this Elenco Learn To Solder kit which includes nearly everything you need and can be found for less than $12. This includes the project and a soldering iron. Additional items that you’ll need to pick up:

a kitchen sponge or high quality paper towels that can be dampened

a “helping hand” or “third hand” (optional)

non-slip shelf liners   that can be used as anti-static placemat style workspaces

a box fan if your meeting room has less than awesome ventilation

Preparation

Like with all programs, you want to be prepared. Take an afternoon and work on the project yourself. Watch some YouTube videos to see the techniques that other people use. Read some tutorials. Ask a friend to lend a hand if you know anyone who is into HAM radio or electronics or uses soldering in their work. You can do this.

When the day of the event comes, I suggest setting up each participant’s workstation before hand. There’s something about walking into the room to see tidy individual workspaces that immediately sets the tone for the group and says it’s not a free for all. It’s a focused class.

Troubleshooting

Some of the projects are going to work. Some are not. When they don’t, encourage the teen to look at all of the contacts and see if any solder is shorting out a connection. Check the direction of the pieces — are any inserted backwards? Make sure that they assembled the kit right side up… not upside down like I did the first time! Troubleshooting is part of the process and as valuable a lesson to work through as the soldering itself is. Not everything works the first time, and that’s ok.

Safety

Yes, it seems scary to give teens hot metal pointy sticks. But if you can imagine the group using a hot glue gun to attach seed beads, you can give them soldering irons. Make it clear how to be safe: the tips always need to rest in their holders when they’re not in use. Always watch where the iron is and be conscious of the cords (I attach a multi-outlet strip to the table with duct tape so that there aren’t cords trailing off of the table.) Unplug the iron and let it cool before you move it. Have a first aid kit at the ready just in case someone does get burned. If you are soldering with a large group in a room without good ventilation, setting up a fan to circulate air will make for a more comfortable experience.

Projects

I’ve used several different kits, and in addition to the above linked learn to solder kit, I really liked Adafruit’s Game Of Life kit. This is great for beginners because there are multiples of most of the pieces and you get a lot of practice at the actual soldering without needing to know a whole lot about the different components. Plus, you can connect them together, it flashes cool lights and there’s no obnoxious alarm!

Beyond kits, there are lots of small projects that you can tackle from basic circuits to light up corsages.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Fall 2017 Showcase and Giveaway

tltbutton7Beyond the people I work with and the people this blog has led me to get to know, by far the best aspect of blogging for TLT is the constant influx of books. All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to teen readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get, but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader.

 

 

HMH fall 17Today I’m sharing with you titles from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Fall 2017 list. All annotations are from the publisher. I’m also doing a giveaway for a few of these books. Enter via the Rafflecopter or by retweeting this post on Twitter (I’m @CiteSomething) between now and June 4th. I’ll give away 8 books, one book to each of 8 winners (4 through Rafflecopter and 4 from Twitter). Titles will be randomly selected. U.S. only!

 

 

 

lights cameraLights, Camera, Cook! by Charise Mericle Harper, Aurelie Blard-Quintard (Illustrator) (07/18/2017)

A zesty series for fans of MasterChef Jr. and Kids Cook-off! It’s “lights, camera, cook!” for four tween contestants—energetic Tate, charming Rae, worldly Caroline, and hyper-competitive Oliver—who are all about to enter a televised cooking competition.
What will the kids cook up? How will they all get along on- and off-camera? Which junior chef will have the grit—and maybe the grits—to make it through each challenge? And which junior chef will have to hang their apron up for good?
Bonus: Includes real cooking techniques for the aspiring young chef!

 

 

 

gameGame Change by Joseph Monninger (09/12/2017)

Seventeen-year-old Zeb Holloway is happy to work in his uncle’s auto repair shop and cruise through school without much effort. He’s a quarterback on his high school’s undefeated football team, but he never plays. Why would he when T.T. Munroe—a walking, talking highlight real— is around? That is, until T.T’s injured a week before the state championships.

Now Zeb is starting. As he assumes the role of QB and team leader, the entire town is watching him. And when a college recruiter says Zeb could have a future beyond his small New Hampshire town, he realizes there’s a bigger life out there for him . . . if he can play his heart out.

 

 

hangingThe Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook (10/03/2017)

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.

 

 

 

 

ghosts ofGhosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford (10/03/2017)

Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul.

This exciting sequel to a beloved book that was praised in a starred review as “an enchanting, empowering read” is sure to thrill both fans and newcomers. Like its predecessor, it’s a smart, suspenseful tale that offers ghosts, friendships, and a cast of unforgettable characters, all wrapped up in a cozy mystery.

 

 

 

sledSled Dog School by Terry Lynn Johnson (10/03/2017)

Eleven-year-old Matt is struggling in school and he has to set up his own business to save his failing math grade. But what is he even good at? The only thing he truly loves is his team of dogs, and so Matt’s Sled Dog School is born. Teaching dogsledding should be easy, right?

But people, just like dogs, can be unpredictable. And sometimes the bravest thing a person can do is admit they need help. Like Terry Lynn Johnson’s popular Ice Dogs, Sled Dog School is about overcoming adversity, finding your strengths, and your friends, and following your passions.

 

 

 

book of liesThe Book of Lies by Teri Terry (10/10/2017)

In this suspenseful, gripping novel, teen twin girls raised separately meet for the first time at their mother’s funeral. Quinn has been trained to never tell a lie. Piper is a practiced liar. Narrated in both voices, the story of their quest to learn truths that have been concealed from them is shadowed by a dark spell that beckons them to run at night with a pack of murdering ghost hounds. Suspense, menace, mystery, witchcraft, family secrets, mistaken identity, and romance are interwoven in a brilliantly written page-turner that will grab and thrill teen readers.

 

 

 

 

tentacleTentacle and Wing by Sarah Porter (10/10/2017)

Twelve-year-old Ada is a Chimera, born with human and animal DNA thanks to a genetic experiment gone wrong. Because being a “kime” is believed to be contagious, she has kept her condition—complete with infrared vision—hidden. But a surprise test outs her, and Ada is shipped off to a quarantined school for kimes.

There Ada meets kids of many different shapes, stripes, and appendages, such as a girl with dragonfly wings and a seal-boy. As she adjusts to her new life, Ada senses that the facility is keeping a secret that could upend everything the world knows about Chimeras. But will someone put a stop to her efforts to uncover the truth?

 

 

 

i neverI Never by Laura Hopper (11/07/2017)

Janey King’s priorities used to be clear: track, school, friends, and family. But when seventeen-year-old Janey learns that her seemingly happy parents are getting divorced, her world starts to shift. Back at school, Luke Hallstrom, an adorable senior, pursues Janey, and she realizes that she has two new priorities to consider: love and sex.

Inspired by Judy Blume’s classic Forever, I Never features a perfect, delicious, almost-to-good-to-be-true high school relationship . . . and it doesn’t shy away from the details. Destined to be passed from teen to teen, this is a young adult debut that will get readers talking.

 

 

 

retributionRetribution Rails by Erin Bowman (11/07/2017)

REDEMPTION IS NEVER FREE
When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang  because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.

 

 

truTru & Nelle: A Christmas Tale by G. Neri (11/07/2017)

Young Truman Capote thought life in New York City was going to be perfect, but things didn’t work out as planned. In fact, Tru is downright miserable. So he decides to run away to Monroeville, Alabama, and the only friend he’s ever had, Nelle Harper Lee. But things don’t go well there, either. Bad things seem to happen wherever he goes. The only explanation: he must be cursed.

Christmas is coming, and Tru’s only wish is to be happy. But it’ll take a miracle for that to come true. Luckily, a special feast brings the miracle he’s hoping for. Tru and Nelle: A Christmas Tale is based on the real life friendship of Truman Capote and Harper Lee.

 

 

victoriaVictoria: Portrait of a Queen by Catherine Reef (11/07/2017)

Catherine Reef brings history vividly to life in this sumptuously illustrated account of a confident, strong-minded, and influential woman.

Victoria woke one morning at the age of eighteen to discover that her uncle had died and she was now queen. She went on to rule for sixty-three years, with an influence so far-reaching that the decades of her reign now bear her name—the Victorian period. Victoria is filled with the exciting comings and goings of royal life: intrigue and innuendo, scheming advisors, and assassination attempts, not to mention plenty of passion and discord. Includes bibliography, notes, British royal family tree, index.

 

 

lilyLily’s Mountain by Hannah Moderow (11/14/2017)

Lily refuses to believe what everyone else accepts to be true: that her father has died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Lily has grown up hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with her dad. He’s an expert climber. There’s no way he would let something like this happen. So instead of grieving, Lily decides to rescue him. Her plan takes her to Denali and on a journey that tests her physically and emotionally.

In this powerful debut, Hannah Moderow has written an authentic Alaskan adventure that crosses terrain both beautiful and haunting—and ultimately shows the bond of family and the wonder of wild places.

 

 

 

monsterMonster Nanny by Tuutikki Tolonen, Pasi Pitkanen (Illustrator), Annira Silver (Translator) (11/14/2017)

The Hellman children must make do with a nanny while their mother is away at a spa. The only problem? Their nanny is a monster.

Grah is hairy, dusty, and doesn’t talk. When the siblings discover that other neighborhood kids have been left with similar creatures, they start to wonder where the monsters came from. With the parents away, the kids work together (between bickering) to figure out the mystery of the monsters.
Tolonen seamlessly intertwines contemporary life with a world full of strange creatures. Monster Nanny is at once a refreshing change of pace and a return to timeless adventure.

 

 

ever theEver the Brave (Clash of Kingdoms #2) by Erin Summerill (12/05/2017)

Ever the Divided. Ever the Feared. Ever the Brave.
After saving King Aodren with her newfound Channeler powers, Britta only wants to live a peaceful life in her childhood home. Unfortunately, saving the King has created a tether between them she cannot sever, no matter how much she’d like to, and now he’s insisting on making her a noble lady. And there are those who want to use Britta’s power for evil designs. If Britta cannot find a way to harness her new magical ability, her life—as well as her country—may be lost.

The stakes are higher than ever in the sequel to Ever the Hunted, as Britta struggles to protect her kingdom and her heart.

 

 

 

love lettersThe Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle (12/26/2017)

When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful.

When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?

This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.

 

 

 

avalancheAvalanche! (Survivor Diaries) by Terry Lynn Johnson (Author), Jani Orban (Illustrator) (01/02/2018)

A high-stakes adventure series perfect for fans of the I Survived series and Hatchet. Twelve-year-old twins Ashley and Ryan are skiing with their parents in Wyoming’s Grand Teton Mountains where there is a ground-shaking rumble. Unstable snow rushes downhill and buries them in icy white. It will take all of their knowledge and grit to survive.

With seventeen years of hands-on experience and training in remote areas,  survival expert Terry Lynn Johnson (Ice Dogs; Sled Dog School) creates on-the-edge-of-your-seat storytelling featuring the real skills that kids need to survive a disaster. This page-turner with illustrations includes survival tips from the National Avalanche Center and U.S. Forest Service. You could have a better chance of surviving a real-life avalanche after reading this book!
Stay calm. Stay smart. Survive. 

 

 

few redA Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield (01/02/2018)

On a hot day in July 1919, three black youths went swimming in Lake Michigan, unintentionally floating close to the “white” beach. An angry white man began throwing stones at the boys, striking and killing one. Racial conflict on the beach erupted into days of urban violence that shook the city of Chicago to its foundations. This mesmerizing narrative draws on contemporary accounts as it traces the roots of the explosion that had been building for decades in race relations, politics, business, and clashes of culture. Archival photos and prints, source notes, bibliography, index.

 

 

 

sky fullA Sky Full of Stars by Linda Williams Jackson (01/02/2018)

After the murder of Emmett Till, thirteen-year-old Rose is struggling with her decision to stay in Mississippi. Torn between the opinions of Shorty, a boy who wants to meet violence with violence, and Hallelujah, her best friend who believes in the power of peaceful protests, Rose is scared of the mounting racial tension and is starting to lose hope. But when Rose helps Aunt Ruthie start her own business, she begins to see how she can make a difference in her community. Life might be easier in the North, but Mississippi is home and that’s worth fighting for. Mid-Century Mississippi comes alive in this sequel to Midnight Without a Moon.

 

 

 

 

atariPlaying Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy (02/06/2018)

At the start of 1991, eleven-year-old Ali Fadhil was consumed by his love for soccer, video games, and American television shows. Then, on January 17, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein went to war with thirty-four nations lead by the United States.

Over the next forty-three days, Ali and his family survived bombings, food shortages, and constant fear. Ali and his brothers played soccer on the abandoned streets of their Basra neighborhood, wondering when or if their medic father would return from the war front. Cinematic, accessible, and timely, this is the story of one ordinary kid’s view of life during war.

 

 

 

your oneYour One & Only by Adrianne Finlay (02/06/2018)

Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack?

While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

 

 

 

calculusThe Calculus of Change by Jessie Hilb (02/27/2018)

A poignant and empowering teen novel of grief, unrequited love, and finding comfort in one’s own skin.

Aden isn’t looking for love in her senior year. She’s much more focused on things like getting a solo gig at Ike’s and keeping her brother from illegal herbal recreation. But when Tate walks into Calculus class wearing a yarmulke and a grin, Aden’s heart is gone in an instant.

The two are swept up in a tantalizingly warm friendship, complete with long drives with epic soundtracks and deep talks about life, love, and spirituality. With Tate, Aden feels closer to her mom—and her mom’s faith—than she has since her mother died years ago. Everyone else—even Aden’s brother and her best friend—can see their connection, but does Tate?

Navigating uncertain romance and the crises of those she loves, Aden must decide how she chooses to see herself and how to honor her mom’s memory.

 

MakerSpace Mondays: Making Wonder Woman Bracers/Cuffs

makermondayslogo

This weekend the Wonder Woman movie is finally here! And June 3rd, Saturday, has been declared Wonder Woman day in libraries: DC Celebrates Wonder Woman Day with Massive Global Event. We will be celebrating on Saturday at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) by making Wonder Woman cuffs/bracers.

wonderwoman2

Supplies needed:

  • Used/empty duct tape rolls or poster mailing tubes
  • Duct tape
  • Box cutter
  • Washi tape

wonderwoman3

I must admit that this activity necessitates a little bit of planning. It turns out that empty duct tape rolls are in fact the best way to make this activity. They are the perfect width and are thick enough to make good, sturdy cuffs (or bracers as my teens tell me they are called in Wonder Woman speak). You can also cut down an old poster mailing tube. We discovered this because we have a duct tape station in our Teen MakerSpace and the teens kept throwing away the cardboard tubes and we thought, surely there is something we can make with those. And there is! I will also note that there are tutorials out there for making duct tape cuff bracelets without the tubes. See, for example: Duct Tape Cuff: 4 Steps.

wonderwoman4

Step 1: Turning your duct tape roll into a cuff

You’ll want to use your box knife to cut a small piece out of your empty duct tape roll so you can slip it onto your wrist. Also, the empty rolls are slightly big for most wrists, so you have to cut them down to size. It takes only 2 cuts and then you can remove a one inch section. This is your opening to fit the cuff easily onto your wrist. For smaller wrists, you can cut a slightly larger piece out.

Step 2: Decorate your cuff using duct and washi tape

They don’t have to be Wonder Woman themed, but Wonder Woman themed is kind of awesome. But you can use any colors of tape and just make amazing wearable jewelry.

wonderwoman1

Sunday Reflections: The Long Term Effects of Trauma and the Kids We Traumatize

tltbutton5

We are driving home and it is dark. Thing 2 is quiet in the backseat. I realize that she has probably fallen asleep, it’s late and the drive is a little over an hour, but there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if she has died back there. Maybe the seat belt has cut off her airway. Maybe she has fallen asleep in that weird floppy way that kids buckled into cars do. So I resist the urge for as long as I can and then I ask The Teen, “Can you please check on your sister in the backseat?” And she does. She is used to checking on her sister asleep in the car.

****

When Thing 2 was five weeks old she stopped breathing and turned blue. She was sitting in one of those electric swings and The Teen and I are were doing something when I looked up and saw that she was turning blue. We would later learn that she had severe GERD caused by multiple food allergies and GI issues, that she had aspirated on the reflux causing her to quit breathing. That night in the ER she would be placed on a sleep apnea monitor that we used for months to help make sure that she didn’t quit breathing again in her sleep. We lived in a constant state of stress and fear.

One of the effects of this incident is that I became afraid to drive at night in the car with my baby. You see, with her turned around rear facing so I couldn’t see her, I worried that she would aspirate again. I had zero confidence in the apnea monitor. This was my baby we were talking about. My baby that I had fought through pregnancy loss and hyperemesis gravidarum and a separating placenta and fibroid tumors to bring into this world. My baby that I had already seen turn blue. So I stopped driving anywhere at night. And sleeping. I stopped sleeping.

My road to motherhood has been paved with a lot of trauma. I nearly died. I lost an early pregnancy in complicated ways. And then I finally gave birth to my second child after a high risk pregnancy complicated by hyperemesis gravidarum. I then suffered PPD and my baby had “colic”. It was a couple of years of constant trauma and stress. And last night, driving home in the dark, I was reminded of the long term effects. I think a lot about the effects of trauma.

There have been a lot of recent studies about childhood trauma (see additional information below). Childhood trauma literally rewires the brain. It is associated with increased rates of addiction. There is nothing good that comes from childhood trauma. I can assure you that at the age of 44 I still carry the effects of the sexual abuse I suffered as a young teen with me.

****

Thing 2 is now eight years old. When she was two, our town flooded and we had to escape through knee high raging (and freezing waters). She doesn’t remember the house that we lived in when this happened. She doesn’t remember many of the people we knew during this time of our lives. But she does remember the night of the flood. She remembers being carried by a stranger through the water. She freaks out when she sees commercials for disaster movies with a tsunami or flooding. She should remember nothing, but yet she seems to remember the fear associated with the rising waters.

1 in 5 children in America goes to bed hungry. They live in a constant state of economic stress and financial insecurity. 1 in 4 struggles with a mental health issue. 1 in 5 will be the victim of sexual abuse. Many more will be the victims of or witness to violence. There’s a lot of childhood trauma happening all around us every day.

At the same time, we are witnessing what I believe to be our least compassionate moment in my history. We are willing to let sick children die if they are poor because apparently healthcare is not a right. We are willing to let children starve because they are poor because apparently food and water are not a right. We continue to let the children in Flint be subjected to lead tainted water. We want the right to harm children in the name of religious freedom. We want to strip away education and healthcare and food subsidies, the very thing that will get a lot of these children through their childhood so that they can become successful adults. We are causing trauma to our children in the name of political power and political parties and greed and prejudice. And yet I look at the results of childhood trauma and I can’t help but think, we’re not just hurting the children, we’re hurting ourselves, we’re hurting each other, we’re hurting our country, we’re hurting our future. Nobody really wins here when we hurt our children.

Our country is in the midst of one of the greatest opioid epidemics in our history they say. Addiction is highly associated with mental illness and childhood trauma they also say. What if the answer to our crisis is that we need to be more compassionate to our children?

****

We arrived home safely last night and I put Thing 2 to bed. She chose to come snuggle with me as she slept and I held her close and kissed her head as I prayed over her, thankful that we made another car ride home in the dark and she kept breathing. And I prayed for all the children in our world. May the adults in our world choose to create a world with less childhood trauma so that our children can thrive.

We need to do better.

For More Information:

Effects of Complex Trauma | National Child Traumatic Stress Network

How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD – The Atlantic

Childhood Trauma Linked to Brain Changes and Addiction

Trauma and Substance Abuse – National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Friday Finds: May 26, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Maker Mondays: How do you make those cool graphics for social media?

Resources: #MHYALit – Teens and Addiction Brochure

Book Review: Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager and Zoe More O’Ferrall

Blog Tour: Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn and Molly Knox Ostertag

Maker Spaces and Books: It’s Not Either Or, It’s Both And

Trickle Down Economics May Not Work, But Trickled Down Hate Surely Does

For your summer TBR: Backlist YA you don’t want to miss

Around the Web

The Emotional Labor of Librarianship

For these Philly librarians, drug tourists and overdose drills are part of the job

Texas May Soon Pass Horrific Anti-LGBTQ Laws

Read New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Remarkable Speech About Removing Confederate Monuments

President Trump’s Budget Proposal Calls For Deep Cuts To Education

President Donald Trump’s FY2018 Budget Cuts Nearly All Funding for IMLS, NEA, NEH, CPB

Nearly 2 Million Kids May Lose After-School Care

How to Talk With Kids About the Ariana Grande Concert Attack

How Roger Ailes Degraded the Tone of Public Life in America

For your summer TBR: Backlist YA you don’t want to miss

tltbutton6The amount of books that appear here cause me a fair amount of anxiety. And that’s not me whining about getting so many great books sent to me to consider reviewing for TLT; that’s me saying that my anxiety disorder can turn anything into something to worry about, even something seemingly good like towering stacks of books. I am constantly updating lists—what books came in, what I for sure will review, what I need to skim to see if I want to review it, etc. Plus I keep putting books on hold at the library, like I have time for them. Then I go to Edelweiss to request more. Then I decide to fall down a research hole as I write. I know I’m speaking to my people when I say that there are just SO MANY books and why can’t I read them all? WHY?

 

One of the lists I started making was recent books I’ve missed but for sure want to make time to read this summer. I tend to read in order of publication date and review about 6 weeks into the future, so if a book appears here after it’s been published, I might not get around to reading it. Sad but true. So, as I started to make a list of books, I began to think of what books I’d want to tell people they should go back and seek out if they somehow missed them when they first came out. I went back just a few years to make this list and tried to keep it from growing totally out of control. I’m including a teeny excerpt from my review of the book and you can click on the title and author to go to the full review, should you want to learn more. If you’re looking to build your list, or make a display of great recentish books (from the past year or two) that definitely deserve to be discovered this summer, here is a good place to start. Have some favorites from the past few years that people should pick up this summer? Let us know! Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething

 

out of darknessOut of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

The novel begins in media res (you know—in the middle of things). It’s March 18, 1937. Did you need some time to adjust to how completely emotionally obliterating this book will be? Too bad—welcome to page one, where we are faced with the rubble of a recently exploded school littered with bodies. No, check that—it manages to be worse than that: riddled with bits of bodies. Let’s make it worse: bits of children’s bodies. Sufficiently upset? Perez is just getting started.

We leave this heart-wrenching and gruesome scene to jump back to September 1936. Naomi and her twin siblings Beto and Cari are new to town, having recently been relocated from their San Antonio barrio to an oil-mining town by the twins’ father (and Naomi’s stepfather), Henry (their mother is dead). Naomi, who is Mexican, and her biracial siblings are instructed by Henry not to speak Spanish. The children seem to pass as white, but Naomi faces the town’s ugly racism. African-American Wash, the siblings’ one friend, is no stranger to racism either. The foursome quickly become friends, but keep their friendship secret, mainly getting together in wooded areas removed from the judging and gossiping of others. Wash is the one saving grace in Naomi’s fairly unhappy life. Her classmates are constantly whispering about her. The girls hate her because she’s pretty and the boys just want to get in her pants. She does make one girl friend, and a few of the neighbors are friendly, but even if she had a thousand friends, it wouldn’t erase what is happening at home. 

 

 

kissing tedKissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

The thing I loved best about this book was how seriously funny it was. Riley is as bold as she is awkward. Her little inner voice, often speaking to the boys she likes, made me laugh. She can’t help but blurt out things that she knows are weird or embarrassing. She talks about having a second brain that takes over when she’s around boys she likes and makes her come off sounding like a babbling idiot. I also loved that Riley and Reid are best friends with zero potential for something more. They are JUST friends. And this book doesn’t take what could be a very predictable route of having them realize, over the course of writing in the notebook and seeking out dates, that they actually love each other. They don’t. As someone who has had a boy BFF since I was 12, I appreciated the hell out of this storyline. I kind of wished this was a flip book and I could have finished Riley’s story and flipped it over to start Reid’s story.

 

 

gabi a girlGabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

In Gabi, we have a protagonist who challenges expectations, thinks for herself, and isn’t afraid of putting herself out there or making mistakes. I can’t rave enough about how wonderful this book is. Not only does Quintero unflinchingly address important issues, she’s created multifaceted characters who leap off the page. Gabi and her friends became so real to me that I often forgot this was fiction—it truly felt like reading a real teenager’s diary. I finished the book feeling honored to have watched Gabi grow as a poet and a young woman. I set the book down when I was done wishing I could read books of Gabi’s diaries from the high school years prior to this one, or to see a diary of what her life will hold now that she’s heading off to college. An all-around brilliant and outstanding look at one ordinary year in the life of an extraordinary teenage girl.

 

 

see no colorSee No Color by Shannon Gibney

Kit is the one who really pushes this conversation, asking her family what they actually think about Alex being the only black person in an otherwise white family. She says she sees how people stare at their family. “But it’s like this secret, you know? Like no one is supposed to actually admit that she’s black, or maybe more that she’s not white.” Of course, we all know what her father does, right? “Alex is only half black,” he says. Just in case anyone forgot. But this family doesn’t see color. Later, Alex exasperatedly says to Kit that she doesn’t even know what “mixed,” her dad’s favorite word, is supposed to mean. “Mixed. As far as I can tell, it means closer to white for Mom and Dad, and the lightest shade of black for everyone else.” Later, her father, apparently trying to be loving and reassuring, tells her, “I just want you to know that your mother and I, we will always see you as just you, as Alex. There’s nothing black—or particularly… racial–about you to us because you’re our little girl and always will be.” Alex notes that the way he says “black” is cringe-inducing, “like it was the worst thing a person could be,” but that when her dad says “mixed,” he sounds prideful. More of these conversations happen over and over with her family.

 

 

what we sawWhat We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

There is a lot to talk about here. I have pages and pages of notes. Hartzler’s novel addresses the role social media plays in rumors and bullying, rape culture, slut-shaming, speaking up, and consent. He pushes Kate to think about what consent looks like and models both what it does and does not look like in her relationship with Ben. There is a wonderful scene where Mr. Johnston takes Reggie to task for making it seem like he couldn’t help himself if he were to rape a drunk girl. “You’re saying that our natural state as men is ‘rapist,’” Mr. Johnston says to Reggie. He asks the boys in class to brainstorm what you could do with a drunk girl instead of rape her. Bring her water, drive her home, find her friends, just walk away. THIS is the conversation that we all need to be having—not girls, here’s how you don’t get raped, but boys, here’s how you don’t rape.

 

 

cut both waysCut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

This is where I want to point out that all of this is Plenty of Plot. These are not small things. They are also not Too Many Things going on. The plot reads like a very realistic look at the life of any teenager—many small daily dramas and an overall sense of feeling equal parts lost and excited. The plot is basically A Teenager Lives the Life of a Teenager. Anyone who has read Mesrobian’s previous books also knows that she writes truthfully and graphically about sex. (I hate that easily shocked pearl-clutching censors have stolen the word “graphic” as a descriptor and given it a negative connotation. I just mean “graphic” as in a clear and realistic picture.) Given that pretty much the basis of the entire novel is Will’s newly awakened sexuality, and the fact that he has two partners he’s sexually involved with, there are plenty of descriptive sex scenes here. The characters stay out all night, swear, lie, drink, smoke pot, and do all of the other stuff that happens in real teens’ lives.

 

 

original fakeOriginal Fake by Kirstin Cronn-Mills with art by E. Eero Johnson

Frankie’s hero is Uncle Epic, a street artist from the Minneapolis area. He can’t believe the wild twists and turns his life takes on when he’s swept up in Uncle Epic’s world when he’s befriended by cousins Rory and David, whose actual uncle is Uncle Epic. “Cool stuff never happens to me,” Frankie thinks. Before long he’s part of Epic’s street team, helping prepare and install art pieces all around the city. That’s pretty cool, and just as cool is the fact that Frankie finally feels like he has friends. Rory is the prettiest girl in Frankie’s grade, with a reputation for using boys then breaking their hearts—naturally he has a crush on her. David is a skirt-wearing gay kid with a quick sense of humor and a creative streak a mile wide. Frankie’s experience with Epic’s art projects combine with his resentment of Lou to fuel his own public art projects—ones whose purpose is both humor and revenge—which end up giving him more attention than he could have expected. Suddenly, Frankie’s helping Rory yarn bomb, helping Epic with his art, drawing attention (under a pseudonym) for his own weird public art, and trying to stay off the police’s radar. Though he keeps landing in hot water with his parents, as he sneaks out night after night, it’s all worth it to Frankie, who finally feels like he has something that’s his.

 

 

ask meAsk Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann

Sometimes I read a book and it’s so glaringly obvious that this is an adult writing a teenager—nothing feels natural or genuine or believable about the teen voice. That isn’t the case here. Addie shines as a “real” teenager. She’s secretive and touchy and honest and curious. She makes a choice that she isn’t willing to allow to define her, then learns that the things that define her are changing. A gorgeous, smart, achingly real look at the things that make us who we are and reminds us that who we are is always changing.  

 

 

 

meet me hereMeet Me Here by Bryan Bliss

MEET ME HERE will inspire important conversations about post-traumatic stress disorder, expectations, friendship, and toxic masculinity. On the surface it could seem like Thomas and Mallory’s friendship just fizzled out, or like Jake just isn’t himself, or like our main characters are feeling an uncertainty about their futures that might come from it being graduation night— a time for endings, beginnings, and thoughts of the future. But Bliss infuses every one of those things with much deeper issues that get explored more thoroughly as the story goes on and as secrets are revealed. This well-written and affecting book is a must-have for every collection. Teen readers may not be in exactly the same situations as Thomas or Mallory but will recognize the feelings of uncertainty and the pressures of expectations as well as appreciate the quiet thread of hope woven throughout. 

 

 

wild swansWild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

There is a lot I love about this book, but the things I love best are Ivy’s friendships. She has three best friends–Claire, Abby, and Alex. Mexican American Alex and his mother live in Ivy’s granddad’s carriage house. They’re basically family. Tension arises when Alex begins to have feelings for Ivy that go beyond the realm of their brother-sister relationship. Ivy isn’t feeling it–or maybe she is, but she won’t let herself feel it because she’s too afraid of what it might do to their friendship. Alex is hurt by her rejection, and that hurt multiples when Ivy begins to date biracial Connor, a poetry protege of her granddad. Ivy’s friend Claire is GREAT. She’s my new book best friend. She’s outspoken and brilliant and unabashedly a feminist. She nudges Abby and Ivy toward conversations on sex, slut-shaming, fat-shaming, birth control, feminism, agency, loyalty, and double standards. She has no problem calling people on their garbage. She supports other girls—she and Ivy have a pact not to talk trash about other girls. The girls are GREAT. Ivy feels annoyed at the expectation that she be “nice.” Claire, who is bi, makes sure no one defaults to heteronormative comments. And both girls speak up when Abby has trouble accepting that her 6-year-old sister Ella (formerly Eli) is transgender. All of the other stuff–the disastrous days with Erica, the new sibling issues, the boy drama–make this book extremely interesting and well-done, but it’s the friendship that I’m here for. Give me more of this, please, YA novels. Girls TOTALLY sticking up for each other, looking out for each other, having frank conversations about huge issues. MORE. PLEASE. 

 

 

badThe Bad Decisions Playlist by Michael Rubens

Part of the real joy of this book was seeing how events unfolded, so I won’t tell you too many plot details. The story wasn’t predictable—or when it was, I was roped in enough to believe it wouldn’t take that turn or play out that way. Austin is a great character who experiences a lot of wonderful things in this story (when he’s not busy falling down hills and nearly being killed by a lawnmower, or breaking expensive instruments, or getting in trouble for stealing a car) and even though I KNOW he makes bad decisions, and that people in his life make bad decisions, I thought maybe they’d turn it around. His relationship with Josephine is fantastic. She’s smart, funny, and his total opposite, but they connect through music and when she’s able to see past Austin’s reputation. She’s in his life at just the right moment, as he grapples with the reality of his father and is able to be as involved in making music as he’s always wanted to be. Austin’s journey isn’t an easy one to observe. I spent a fair amount of time wincing and lecturing him in my head. The ending of the book isn’t tidy or necessarily completely happy, but it is satisfying. You know me—I’ll take a realistic ending over a “happy” ending any time. A fun, smart, at times heartbreaking read about families, love, choices, consequences, and the power of music.

Trickle Down Economics May Not Work, But Trickled Down Hate Surely Does

text2Today is the last day of school and two teenage girls are sitting in my living room waiting to go to Six Flags. We’re skipping school on the last day of what has arguably been the worst year of school in their lives. You see this year, their school has been plagued by incredibly high amounts of sexual harassment, sexual violence and good old fashioned violence. This was not the case last year. This year seems, somehow, different.

In January of this year, my daughter began texting me from school, “Mom, I don’t feel safe.” All in all, she’s told me a couple of times a month in the last 5 months that she no longer feels safe at school.

On Monday, a mom reported in an online FB group that WHILE IN CLASS two boys held her daughter down on the floor and touched her inappropriately. Another boy tried to video tape it. Apparently no one in that classroom, including, the teacher, tried to stop it.

Last week, in this same FB group, it was reported a “prison brawl” had broken out in the cafeteria. It apparently started because one boy told another boy that she should be a slave.

We are apparently up to about a fight a day. And girls are not safe in the school hallways and classroom. Boys taunt them, ask them to suck their dicks, send them pics, or they just reach out and touch them because they think that they can.

This is a small, conservative town. It’s one of those safe, middle class suburban bedroom communities that advertises in Pleasantville like billboards to attract new taxpaying homeowners. The highly rated school systems is one of its major appeals. Along with the green spaces and walking path and splash pad. It is, or at least it was, the American Dream personified.

This is the same school my daughter went to last year. The same kids. But new and worse problems. Something has changed. It’s true, one of those things that has changed this year has been the school principal, and I definitely think that is part of the problem. But I also think one of the things that has changed is our culture. Things that were once hidden are now more out in the open. Hate, racism, sexism . . . they have been on full display of late and I can’t help but look at what is happening at my daughter’s school and think it’s trickle down hatred.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that these things have always existed in our schools. I have worked with teens for 22 years and I have sat in many a room and talked with many a teen and heard about the latest fight or heard them talk about how “boys will be boys”. But somehow, this year has seemed different. Perhaps it’s because I have known these kids since the 3rd grade and have seen a sharp and dramatic change in such a short amount of time. Perhaps it’s because this is my kid, my daughter. But mostly it’s because last year she never told me once that she didn’t feel safe at school.

That’s a powerful statement. “I don’t feel safe at school.” As a mother, your alarm bells will ring and your mama bear claws will come out. As someone who has dedicated their life to working with teens, I see something new and different happening to and in my teens and I despair. I fear that we are poisoning our teens with our hate. It seeping into them and coming out in ways that has intensified everything. Yes, teens have always fought, but are they fighting more? Yes, sexual violence has always been a problem in our schools, but has it gotten worse? Anecdotally I can say that for my daughter in this school, the answer is yes. I wonder if it’s true nationwide, worldwide?

Racism is taught. Kids are not born racist, they are taught it by their parents, their peers, their culture.

Sexism is taught. Kids are not born sexist, they are taught it by their parents, their peers, their culture.

Hatred. Anger. Fear. Selfishness. Greed. Violence. Power. All these negative traits, the very worst of who we are, are rising to the surface in ways that need to be addressed culturally if we love and want to save our children.

This year is over for us now and I will breath a maternal sigh of release. For a few months, there won’t be anymore texts saying mom there is blood on the floor and I don’t feel safe, please come pick me up. For a few months, we get a reprieve. But what happens next year?

As a mom, as someone who loves and works with teens, I implore you. I implore us all. Maybe we should take a moment to reflect on what’s happening in the world around us and how it is affecting our kids. Because I’m scared at what I am seeing and hearing.

Maker Spaces and Books: It’s Not Either Or, It’s Both And

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The other day a fellow librarian asked me if I had read a book yet and when I responded no, she replied, “oh that’s right, you’re all about making now, you don’t really do books anymore.” It has taken me a couple of days to process this information and to form a real response. The truth is, libraries have always been about more than books, and I as a teen services librarian have always been about more than books. It’s not an either or proposition, it’s both and.

I am about making.

I am about books.

These are not mutually exclusive statements.

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Before I had a Teen MakerSpace, I regularly did library programming for tweens and teens. It was an expected part of my job. I still do that programming, I just do it differently. I do it on a more continual basis. I have assistants (that part is pretty glorious actually). But the truth of it is, it’s still just programming. Every moment I spend in the Teen MakerSpace is comparable to every moment I previously spent doing a teen program.

I have also worked really hard to make sure and emphasize books in our Teen MakerSpace. Every station that we have, every activity that we do, must have a couple of books in the Teen MakerSpace Collection that supports it. We try to remember to pull these books out and put them on display right there near the station or activity. We use them. We encourage our teens to use them. Our Teen MakerSpace Collection goes hand in hand with everything we do in our Teen MakerSpace.

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But we don’t just promote nonfiction in our Teen MakerSpace, we promote our Teen Fiction collection as well. We put up displays, we promote our collection, we have “what staff are reading” walls, etc. We do RA, we talk about books with our teens, even while we are making. We have done displays on books that relate to making in any possible way, including Sci Fi, books about movies, books with teens who make films, books with teen hackers and coders, books with gamers, and more. There are a lot of ways you can pull books from your teen fiction collection into the space and cross promote both making and teen reading.

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The truth is, libraries are always evolving. Books have and will continue to be the core of what librarians do, what I do. But it has and never will be the only thing that librarians do, what I do.

I am about making.

I am about books.

And they both work together for the good of teens in the public library.

5 Ways to Incorporate Books into a MakerSpace

1. Buy nonfiction that corresponds to every station or activity that you do in your MakerSpace

Have a 3D printer? There are books for that. Coding, electronics, robotics, Legos and more. We have books on every topic. If you can do it in our teen makerspace, you can read a book about it.

2. Promote “making” related teen fiction in your makerspace

There are good YA books that feature teens as coders, hackers, gamers, film makers, music makers and more. In addition, almost any sci fi or survival book features technology or survival skills that can be related back to making. Think creatively and cross promote.

3. Put up a “What’s New” display in your makerspace

We have two actually. One is a wall in the Teen MakerSpace that just features book covers that we have printed out and put up. The other has the physical books so that they can be easily grabbed.

4. Put up a what staff is reading display

We use the same printed book cover on the wall format to keep up a what staff is reading display. All three Teen Services staff members share what books they are currently reading with any teen that comes into the space.

5. Talk to teens while making about books

I love to talk about books. And the glorious thing about making is that it’s pretty easy to have a casual conversation with a teen while you are doing it. So ask your teens, hey what have you been reading? What’s your favorite book?

Blog Tour: Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn and Molly Knox Ostertag

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From the publisher:

It is eight years after Colleen Cavanaugh’s home world was invaded by the Derichets, a tyrannical alien race bent on exploiting the planet’s mineral resources.

Most of her family died in the war, and she now lives alone in the city. Aside from her acquaintances at the factory where she toils for the Derichets, Colleen makes a single friend in Jann, a member of the violent group of rebels known as the Chromatti. One day Colleen receives shocking news: her niece Lucy is alive and in need of her help. Together, Colleen, Jann, and Lucy create their own tenuous family.

But Colleen must decide if it’s worth risking all of their survival to join a growing underground revolution against the Derichets … in Sharon Shinn and Molly Knox Ostertag’s Shattered Warrior.

My thoughts:

Colleen lives in a world ravaged by war. The survivors are basically enslaved by the alien race and live in constant fear. She still lives in the half-ruined grand old mansion Avon, in which her family used to live, isolating themselves from the poorer families except for the annual parades when they would toss gold coins to the masses. Now she is one of the masses, struggling daily to earn enough money for food and avoid the notice of the Derichets, who regularly make people ‘disappear.’ This is what happened to her sister and niece, Lucy. When she is able to retrieve Lucy from the Derichets, her anger over what has happened, both to her sister and Lucy, but also to her world, motivates her to begin to resist the Derichets.

At first glance, this world seems so different from the one in which we live. Indeed, it is easy for me to avoid acknowledging this same world exists in places on our own planet. It is an effective and brilliantly written and illustrated way of introducing this world to those of us who are fortunate enough not to live in it, while saying to those who do, “I see you.” Even in our own country, there are young people who are basically enslaved by minimum wage, lack of child care, lack of access to medical care, etc. They live in constant fear, both of the authorities and of the criminals the authorities should be policing. They struggle daily just to provide food for their families and a safe place to live. One wrong step, one unfortunate circumstance, and it could all come crashing down around them.

In short, Shinn and Ostertag have done an amazing job in creating a classic science fiction narrative which both imagines new worlds and shows us the realities of the one in which we live. While I’d highly recommend this title for any collection serving teens in grades 7 and up, I’d also recommend it as a possible class read for a high school civics, modern history, or world cultures class as a way to introduce these concepts and foster discussion.

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SharonShinnSharon Shinn has published more than twenty-five novels, one collection, and assorted pieces of short fiction since her first book came out in 1995. Among her books are the Twelve Houses series (Mystic and Rider and its sequels), the Samaria series (Archangel and its sequels), the Shifting Circle series, and the Elemental Blessings series. She lives in St. Louis, loves the Cardinals, watches as many movies as she possibly can, and still mourns the cancellation of “Firefly.”
MollyKnoxOstertagMolly Knox Ostertag grew up in the forests of upstate New York and read far too many fantasy books as a child. She studied cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and now lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys the beach year-round but misses good bagels. While at school she started drawing the award-winning webcomic Strong Female Protagonist, which continues to update and be published through Kickstarter and Top Shelf Comics. She draws comics about tough girls, sensitive boys, history, magic, kissing, superpowers, and feelings.

Book Review: Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager and Zoe More O’Ferrall

tltbutton6Publisher’s description

This first-ever LGBTQ history book of its kind for young adults will appeal to fans of fun, empowering pop-culture books like Rad American Women A-Z and Notorious RBG.

World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them. Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 23 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.

By turns hilarious and inspiring, the beautifully illustrated Queer, There, and Everywhere is for anyone who wants the real story of the queer rights movement.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

queer thereThere is a LOT of information packed into this book! The introduction explains how often assumptions are made about historical figures’ sexuality and gender identities, erasing their real identities and erasing the important contributions made by LGBTQIA+ people. The introduction also discusses the choice to use the word “queer” to encompass all of these people and provides a quick overview of the language related to queerness and terms/labels used.

 

We get a quick tour through worldwide queerness throughout history (Europe, Africa, Asia, Latina America, Oceania, North America) and the effects of colonization and religion as well as looking at how LGBTQIA+ people were accepted, persecuted, and criminalized throughout history. There is also plenty of emphasis on the activism and achievements of queer folks throughout history.

 

Each chapter focuses on one individual from history and begins with a short tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) summary to grab your interest. The chapters give in-depth information about the subjects’ lives. Readers will learn about people they may already be familiar with, such as Joan of Arc, Ma Rainey, Frida Kahlo, Alan Turing, Harvey Milk, and George Takei. Other historical figures include Roman Emperor Elagabalus (born a boy, lived as a woman, married 5 women and 2 men while a teenage emperor); Kristina of Sweden (a “gender-bending” queen who romanced men and women); Juana Ines De La Cruz (a Mexican nun who fell for her benefactor’s wife); Abraham Lincoln (and his “intimate friend” Joshua); Lili Elbe (one of the first people to undergo gender confirmation surgery); Josef Kohout (a gay Holocaust survivor); and Glenn Burke (a gay baseball player). A glossary is appended as is an extensive bibliography and notes. Written in a very conversational tone, this book is an important addition to library collections. Get this one up on your displays—there are plenty of teens who will be so glad to see a spotlight being shone on the important contributions of LGBTQIA+ people throughout history. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062474315

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 05/23/2017