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Friday Finds: March 30, 2018

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Book Review: The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding

YA A to Z: Being Heard – Anne Frank, Diaries and Teens, a discussion of Anne Frank with Author Mary Amato

Book Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Book Review: Rookie on Love edited by Tavi Gevinson

YA A to Z: Financial Literacy and Teens by Michelle Biwer

Sunday Reflections: This is What Happened When I Took My Teen to See Love, Simon

Around the Web

Jacqueline Woodson wins the world’s largest prize for children’s literature, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

Understanding Transgender Teens

LGBTQ+ Diversity In YA Novels Is Getting Better, But Queer Girls Are Still Being Left Behind

Canceled Deals and Pulped Books, as the Publishing Industry Confronts Sexual Harassment

Why So Many Public Libraries Are Now Giving Out Seeds

Constantin Film Preps Young Adult Fantasy Feature ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’

 

 

Book Review: The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding

Publisher’s description

summer of jordiSeventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she’s thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship.

But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosseplaying bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she’s struggling to prove to her mother—the city’s celebrity health nut—that she’s perfectly content with who she is.

Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

 

Amanda’s thoughts

If you are not reading Amy Spalding’s books, you are totally missing out. Her dialogue is A+ and I always want to be best friends with all of her characters. This book was no exception.

 

17-year-old Abby has always viewed herself as the quirky, funny sidekick in her own life—the one who watches cool things happen to other people and is there for advice and clever one-liners. Because of this view of herself, she kind of can’t believe it when Mexican American Jordi Perez, who is cute, cultured, serious, and seems to have it all together, reciprocates her crush. Both girls get a summer internship together at Lemonberry, a faux vintage clothing store. Abby runs a fashion blog and Jordi takes excellent photographs. Though they’ve gone to high school together, they don’t really know each other—in fact, Abby can’t even remember Jordi’s name at first. It’s a summer full of unexpected things for Abby, who also ends up becoming best buds with Jax, a lacrosse-playing friend of her best friend’s boyfriend (Jax is convinced this makes them friends-in-law, so of course they should hang out). Jax ropes Abby into eating and rating burgers all summer as part of his dad’s new Yelp-like app. Jax is a gem of a character—funny, supportive, and so much more than the cliche that it seems like he may be. While Abby has a cool internship, a rad girlfriend, and great friends (including some unexpected new ones), it’s not all roses. Abby repeatedly mentions that she’s fat. When she says something about being fat and Jax starts to say she’s not, she points out to him that she is, which isn’t bad, but “acting like fat’s an insult is.” She’s cool with her body and her weight, for the most part, though she is a little self-conscious especially when she and Jordi start making out (a not-so-unusual feeling for anyone). Though she runs a fashion blog, she never posts pictures of herself on it. She’s particularly self-conscious about pictures of herself, not because she doesn’t like to look at them, but because she would like to avoid all of the fat-hating comments from people who may view them. It just seems easier and safer to not put herself out there. Then there’s the issue of her mother, a food blogger, who seems to constantly view Abby as a disappointment. Abby is pretty sure her mother would prefer her to be straight and thin, things she more or less says outright to her. But despite the feeling of being a disappointment to her mother, things are mostly going great… until they aren’t.

 

This book has a super wide appeal—it’s an excellent romance full of joy and happiness. Abby’s zest for fashion is contagious—my own closet is full of mostly black and extremely boring, but I loved reading about Abby’s outfits and the clothes at the shop. Though there is a fight and some fallout/heartbreak, this is a feel-good book with tons of charm, humor, and heart. This funny, sweet, summer read was the perfect thing to spend a blizzardy day off of work reading. 

 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781510727663
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication date: 04/03/2018

YA A to Z: Being Heard – Anne Frank, Diaries and Teens, a discussion of Anne Frank with Author Mary Amato

Today as a part of our ongoing A to Z look at teen issues, teen fiction and more, author Mary Amato is discussing Anne Frank and diaries with us.

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On March 28, 1944 a radio address changed Anne Frank’s relationship to her diary. Gerrit Bolkestein, the Dutch Minster for Education, Art, and Science gave the address from London, where the Dutch government was in exile. In it, he asked for the Dutch people to save written evidence of the persecution and oppression that they had endured or were enduring under the German occupation. Diaries would be particularly useful.

When Anne heard about Bolkestein’s interest in collecting personal records, she turned to her own diary with a new passion and began seriously revising. The prospect of sharing her words with a larger audience must have given Anne a sense of purpose and power, a feeling that her experience and her expression of that experience was valid and valuable.

The fact that Anne was intentionally revising her diary for possible publication is a remarkable detail about the Frank story that many readers don’t know—one that I didn’t know until a recent visit to the Anne Frank House.

The gift of a diary to a child or teen is an old-fashioned tradition, a sweet gesture that typically comes with the modest hope that the child will enjoy writing down his or her thoughts. Who knows, the child or teen might even enjoy sharing the entries with his or her own children in the years to come.

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In June of 1942, when Anne received the cute red-and-white checked diary for her 13th birthday, she began writing in it with the typical mix of reluctance and desire. Most kids want to write, but don’t know what to write about. In her diary, she noted that writing might be a substitute for something she wanted but didn’t have at that moment: a close friend. Anne named her diary Kitty, after a character in one of her favorite books, and began to write as if writing to a friend. Ordinary stuff.

In July, life for the Frank family changed radically. Anne’s older sister Margot received a call-up notice from the Nazis to return to Germany and work in a labor camp. Otto Frank knew what this meant, and he had a plan. The family went into hiding in a series of walled-off rooms in the rear of the building of the spice-distribution company where he worked. When the Franks took that desperate act, Anne took her diary with her.

“The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings, otherwise I’d absolutely suffocate.” –March 16, 1944.

Most of the readers of Anne’s diary know this much of Anne’s story, and many assume that the published edition (known most commonly in English as The Diary of a Young Girl) was Anne’s one and only diary. The red-and-white checked book was Anne’s first diary. After it was full, Anne wrote in several additional notebooks, and—a heartbreaking thought—we don’t have them all. According to the Anne Frank House, nearly all of 1943 is missing. The Diary of a Young Girl is a compilation of her original diary, three notebooks, and the revision on loose sheets of paper that she began after hearing the radio address and that she was working on up until the time of her arrest and deportation to Bergen Belsen in 1944, where she died in March of 1945, just a month before the death camp was liberated by British troops.

When I was first read Anne Frank’s diary, I couldn’t imagine or understand anything as horrific as the holocaust. I wasn’t Jewish and knew only the basics about World War II. I connected with Anne because I was the same age and, by that time, also a serious diarist.

It was my mother who gave me my first diary. Although she had cancer at the time, I’m certain that she thought she would beat her disease, that she had no inkling that she was giving me the tool that would help me most to cope with her death. Because the culture in which I grew up was all about silent stoicism and the suppression of emotions, my diary became the only place to voice the truth of what I was experiencing, the only place for me to cry, to scream, and to ask questions.

At the time, even though most of what I wrote was for myself, I also wrote some things with the goal of sharing my experience. The biggest platform I could hope for was a mimeographed and stapled literary journal that my English teacher, Mr. McCauley, organized. The emotion I remember feeling when I first saw my words in print was a sense of relief. Seeing my words in print made me feel real and valued. Publication was the permanent proof of not only my existence, but also the worth of my existence.

I think about that and then I think about Anne and how powerless she was and how the thought that her diary might be published must have energized her in the darkest time.

And now I’m also thinking about the Parkland, Florida, students, the survivors of that school shooting, and what happened when they began speaking the truth of their experience. What has struck me is how radically some things have changed. Social media and the internet has enabled the voices of children and teens to be received and delivered at a dizzying speed. A speech written by a teen and given at a small-town meeting can be recorded and uploaded onto YouTube one day; and, within 24 hours, that student can be on CNN.

Unfortunately, what hasn’t changed is that there are still people out there who believe that young people should not be taken seriously, that young voices aren’t worthy of time or respect, that young voices shouldn’t be trusted or even actively silenced. How heartbreaking it was to see and hear the ridiculing of the Parkland students by some adults and the accusations by others that the students must be paid actors or shills for liberal adults in power.

From the time Anne’s diary was published until his death, Anne’s father Otto Frank—the only member of the immediate family that survived the death camps— had to deal with numerous people who claimed that the diary was a forgery, a ploy for sympathy, a propaganda tool. Today the Anne Frank House has to continue in the fight and has taken successful legal action against deniers.

What hasn’t changed is that teens need and want to be heard. Perhaps more than ever, the diary is a tool that can help.

On a personal note, I have to say that when I finally made my pilgrimage to the Anne Frank House, I was worried that the place would have the emotionally-flat atmosphere that some museums can have. And during the initial part of the visit, my fears were confirmed. The building itself is drab and unremarkable looking. Snaking my way through the first few rooms along with so many tourists, holding the audio wand to my ear, and straining to peek at the various photographic and textual displays, I felt nothing. But the second half of the tour is different. When you pass by the specially-constructed false bookshelf and duck through the portal to the secret annex of the building, the rooms where Anne, her family, and four other Jews lived in hiding for two years, the audio portion suspends, and you are forced—wisely—to experience the heart of the museum silently. You walk through the small rooms and see where Anne slept and wrote. You listen to the sound of your footsteps, the creaking of the floorboards, the hushed whispers of the visitors in the next room, and it hits you as it has never hit you before. To be any age and have to be quiet, contained, restrained minute after minute, day after day, month after month within these dark walls would be a nightmare. But to be fourteen?

I have a deeper understanding now, how, at a time when a young girl’s voice was quite literally suppressed, her diary gave her both a place to speak and the hope of being heard.

If you work with teens and haven’t encouraged diary writing, please consider trying a station with supplies in the library.  No need for expensive blank books—pretty or thick books can be intimidating. Some businesses will donate small notebooks and pens, or small, thin diaries can be made on the spot by folding and stapling standard copier paper. I have a pdf of tips for download and display.

Encourage Diary Writing Display

And if you have a teen in your personal life, consider giving a diary as a gift. I recommend something plain and small with a gentle reminder that writing can be a powerful friend.

Meet Mary Amato

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Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s and YA book author, poet, playwright, and songwriter. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, produced onstage, and have won the children’s choice awards in Ohio, Minnesota, Utah, and Arizona. She teaches popular workshops on writing and the creative process around the country.

Book Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

thefinalsixPublisher’s Book Description:

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

Karen’s Thoughts:

I have a tendency to be drawn to big issue books that make a powerful statement. My reviews often contain the words powerful, necessary, impactful, etc. But the truth is, I DO like to read fun books just for the fun of it. And some of my favorite ones involve outer space or the prospect of outer space.

The Final Six is a mixture of Space Camp + Climate Change + Political Thriller. This is a pretty thrilling combination if you ask me.

It begins by establishing that the world is on the brink of imminent destruction from climate change. The crisis feels real and far too close to home. So a group of teens are selected to compete in a training and they will be whittled down to “the final six”, the six teens that will be sent with some A.I. technology into space to help terraform and colonize a planet to save the human race. So there’s a little bit of reality show competition thrown in here as well.

While in training, Naomi first sets out to jeopardize the mission because she does not want to leave her brother. But she soon begins to suspect that they are not being told the truth about the mission, their future, and a past failed mission. So Naomi, a wicked smart scientist and excellent hacker, begins to investigate, with the help of Leo, who very much wants this mission to take place because he feels he has nothing else to live for. I very much loved reading about this strong, confident and remarkably intelligent young woman and her relationship with both her family and the developing relationship with Leo.

There is intrigue and backstabbing and romance, everything you want in a good book. I found it very enjoyable and didn’t want to put it down.

I will say, the only unbelievable part to me is that in the back of my head I kept thinking: there is no way that any adults would be willing to send teenagers alone on a space mission to do this and there is no way they could realistically train in such a short amount of time, but I also kept being willing and able to suspend that disbelief because I was enjoying the read. At the end of the book some of the teens, and I’m not going to spoil which ones, take off for space and I am looking forward to the next installment to find out what happens.

I highly recommend this book.

For more Climate Change Fiction (Cli-Fi), check out:

What is CliFi? An Earth Day Primer

YA/Teen | Eco-Fiction

For More Books that involve space travel, and I’m excited to see this theme re-surging in YA this year, check these titles out:

We Love These 6 YA Books Set in Outer Space

Our Most Anticipated Science Fiction Novels of 2018

Book Review: Rookie on Love edited by Tavi Gevinson

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in the March 2018  School Library Journal Xpress Reviews. 

 

rookieGEVINSON, Tavi , ed. Rookie on Love. 288p. illus. Penguin/Razorbill. Jan. 2018. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780448493992.

Gr 9 Up –Essays, comics, poetry, interviews, conversations, advice, and how-to articles examine the ups and downs of affection in young lives in this anthology. Standout pieces include Janet Mock’s advice on crushes and rejection, Jenny Zhang on self-respect and demeaning relationships, Emma Straub’s “Book Love” about books and opening a bookstore, Sukhai Rawlins’s beautiful ode to her Wampanoag grandmother, and John Green and Rainbow Rowell’s conversation about writing about teenagers. Other contributions address digital communication in modern relationships, sibling bonds, confessional letters, emotional fortitude, boundaries, being single, music, dogs, crushes, jealousy, and friends. Most entries are short—only a few pages—and the variety of formats helps the collection feel lively. Black-and-white spot art, with small touches of pink, is scattered throughout, bringing the zinelike feel of Rookie to the page. The inclusion of various kinds of love (for romantic partners, for books, for music, for siblings) with all different outcomes makes for an inclusive reading experience. Readers may most enjoy dipping in and out of this collection or jumping around to find what speaks to them at a particular moment in time. An assortment of teenage Rookie readers, grown-ups, Rookie regular contributors, and high-profile names mean some pieces are more polished than others, but all brim with honesty, passion, and, often, humor. VERDICT An empathetic, genuine, and affirming collection that will attract older teens.

YA A to Z: Financial Literacy and Teens by Michelle Biwer

13489777212478Media literacy and fake news have been hot topics in youth services lately, but financial literacy is often lower on the radar of educators and students. Most states do not require students to take finance classes in school.

April is Financial Literacy Month, so now is a great time to highlight personal finance topics at your library. One option is to bring in a speaker. In the past I have invited a representative from a local credit union to talk about basic money management practices. There are also many online resources with finance guides for educators and young people, including from the Federal Reserve.

If you want to go a less formal route, there are a number of resources that could be featured on a bookmark or display in the teen area of your library.

Mint is a free online budgeting tool which can be used to help you set and reach your financial goals. Teens may like that it also has an app for tablets and smartphones. PC Mag ranks Mint highly.

Nerdwallet is a website which allows you to compare different financial institutions, credit cards, insurance and more. It does not require a login and is free to access.

The Financial Diet is a Youtube channel targeted towards young adults that covers finance topics in a simple way.

Planet Money is an NPR podcast that covers genuinely interesting topics related to money in a humorous and relatable way that will appeal to teens.

Am I missing resources you have promoted with your teens? Let me know in comments.

Sunday Reflections: This is What Happened When I Took My Teen to See Love, Simon

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Last night I took The Teen and a friend to see Love, Simon, the movie based on Simon VS. The Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I have never been in a movie where the audience whooped and hollered and audibly gasped and applauded so loudly. And it was a pretty full theater. It was an epic, joyous experience.

I also had a very profound and personal conversation with The Teen about this movie afterwards. And no, this is not a post where I will share with you that she came out to me, because if the movie taught me anything it’s that that information would not be mine to share. My revelation is about me.

But first, some background.

I became a Christian when I was in high school. I’m a 45-year-old woman who grew up right as the AIDS crisis was being discussed in the news. In all fronts of my life I was constantly being told that about the “gay agenda” and how abhorrent the gay lifestyle is.

I then went on to college and got my degree in youth ministry from a conservative Christian college, a Nazarene university. The Nazarenes consider themselves a “holiness” denomination. At the time I went to a Nazarene university you couldn’t go to the movies, you couldn’t dance, and The Mr had family members who wouldn’t even let cousins go swimming in the same pool because it was considered mixed bathing and inappropriate.

But I also found a safe sense of self and place in the conservative Christian church. I knew I belonged, I knew what I believed, and I knew I had a purpose. For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged somewhere. I felt safe. I felt at some type of internal peace that I hadn’t known I was lacking.

This was all at the height of the Christian Evangelical movement. I only listened to Christian music, I went to Christian concerts, I frequented Christian bookstores. I often wrestled with what it meant as a teen librarian to give teens access to materials that were against my personal beliefs.

But I also began to notice a growing disconnect with the message of love I heard preached from the pulpit and the absolute anger, violence and hatred I heard spoken by my fellow Christians regarding marginalized groups, particularly the GLBTQ community. And as I my heart filled more and more with hate for the other, I felt less and less Christlike, and further away from my God.

At the same time, I had become friends with several members of the GLBTQ community, and couldn’t help but notice that they did not have this same level of hatred in their hearts. In fact, they were often more loving, more kind, and more accepting of others than my Christian peers. They seemed, in fact, more Christlike in that the way they lived their lives modeled more truly the lack of judgment, the lack of hate, the abundance of love that Jesus preaches over and over again in the Bible that my faith is supposed to be based on.

Slowly, over time, I began to believe that if we were to say that God loves, saves and forgives anyone, then that has to include everyone. And over time as my understanding of who I believe God is changed, I started to go to a more progressive church that better reflected my understanding of my faith.

But it came at a great cost.

I lost friends, family, and that very sense of place and security that had brought me out of some of the darkest places I had ever known. I had to start all over again, and in my 40s, and that was . . . hard, to say the least. Not as hard, of course, as it is to be a member of the GLBTQ community in a world that actively seeks to dehumanize you, but it was still amazingly hard.

So last night after Love, Simon, The Teen looked at me and asked me what I thought of the movie and I surprised even myself because I started crying as I explained my answer. You see, I really care about people, I really care about teens in particular. I have dedicated my life to serving and advocating for them in libraries this past 24+ years. It has been challenging and I have learned and grown a lot. But I am also in a state of constant tension regarding my beliefs.

I want teens to feel radically free to be themselves because I hate that identifying at GLBTQ puts a teen at a higher risk of suicide and homelessness because of how much our world hates them. I don’t want to in any way contribute to that. But I have also been taught for most of my adult life that to accept someone as GLBTQ is to lead them to sin and eternal damnation, and as someone who cares about them, I don’t want to contribute to that either. It often feels like no matter what I do or believe, I am hurting teens. That’s the power of indoctrination, it’s so very hard to shake.

I now identify as Methodist, a Christian denomination that is very much wrestling with the issue of being a member of and accepting members of the GLBTQ community. For the past few years, the church has been in a constant state of possible split over these very issues.

I explained all of this to The Teen in the best way I knew how: I’m a 45-year-old woman who grew up in a time where the GLBTQ lifestyle was completely demonized and I come from a conservative Christian background that is slowly changing as I come to better understand what it means to be a follower of Christ and to live in alignment with the simple commandment: Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.

I’m a work in progress. As a human. As a librarian. As a mother. As a friend. As a Christian.

I’ve lost a lot on this journey. I’ve gained a lot on this journey. The journey is just beginning, every evolving, never ending.

I’m trying to raise my children differently as Christians. I believe that they are more loving, more accepting, more Christlike. My prayer for them is that they will be.

But I’m not going to lie, I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because there are those that tell me I am leading them to hell by raising them to be so loving, and as a parent that terrifies me.

I am glad that we went and saw Love, Simon, not just because it was a triumphant and joyous movie, but because it helped us to have a conversation I think we really needed to have about who I was, who I am becoming, and why it is sometimes so very hard for me to embrace things that are so much easier for her. I want her to know that the journey of faith isn’t a smooth, straight path, but a rocky one that is challenged again and again and that sometimes, you have to make hard decisions to stand up for what you believe in.

I also want her to know that I love her with a fierce passion and that I believe God does too, no matter what happens in this life.

Friday Finds: March 23, 2018

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Book Review: Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

Putting the Science Back in Library Science: Collection Development, Diversity Audits, & Understanding Teens – Analyzing Data for Decision Making

Collecting Comics: March 2018 with Ally Watkins

#ReadForChange: American Dreams and Nightmares in Ibi Zoboi’s American Street, a guest post by Marie Marquardt

YA A to Z: Guilt, Shame and Blame – Heroin Overdose Deaths in Teen Fiction, a guest post by Kerry Sutherland

Around the Web

Native American Literary Symposium’s 2018 “Welcome” Includes Statement about Sherman Alexie; Public Backlash to American Indian Library Association’s Decision to Rescind Alexie’s Award

The Big Student Walkout; DeVos On School Safety; The First Amendment On Campus

ACLU: Student suspended for cursing after call to congressman’s office during gun protest

Young Futurists 2018: These Are the Leaders This Country So Desperately Needs

 

 

Book Review: Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Publisher’s description

hurricanCaroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and — worst of all — Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back.

But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.

Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother — before Caroline loses her forever.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

How great is it that we are starting to see more LGBTQIA+ main characters in middle grade books?

 

The summary up there does a fairly efficient job of presenting the major plots points of this novel. The summary doesn’t, however, convey how rich the narrative voice is or how vivid the characters are. Caroline lives on Water Island, a place she refers to as “a dumb rock.” Her mother left one year and three months ago, though Caroline isn’t particularly sure why or where she may have ended up. Caroline attends Catholic school, where she says she is “the littlest girl with the darkest skin and the thickest hair.” She’s always been the odd girl out, but the arrival of Kalinda, a new student from Barbados, changes that. The other girls don’t suddenly accept her once she and Kalinda become best friends, but they do kind of ignore her. More importantly, Kalinda seems as taken with Caroline as she is with her. Caroline can see things that other people can’t (specifically a woman in black who seems to show up all over the place, including the bottom of the sea) and suspects maybe Kalinda can, too. Also, it doesn’t take long for Caroline to realize she has a crush on Kalinda, and can only hope that maybe Kalinda could feel the same (a hope that fades after hearing Kalinda say it was disgusting, gross, and wrong when they see two women holding hands). When a letter Caroline writes to her confessing her feelings falls into the hands of the mean girls, suddenly the small bits of happiness Caroline was finding are threatened. With her feelings now exposed and their time together potentially limited, Caroline thinks it’s more important than ever to find her mother, even if that means searching the spirit world (and maybe not returning from it). Caroline has spent so long just wanting some answers, but now that she’s uncovering them, they may be too much to handle.

 

Readers will instantly be drawn in by the narrative voice, the strong characters, the various mysteries (like where is her mother, are there ghosts, what does her father know, and what will happen with Caroline and Kalinda). The setting, packed full of evocative details, add further richness to this unique story. Caroline is dealing with a lot—racism and poor treatment because of the darkness of her skin, absent parents, homophobic classmates—all things that make her feel very alone, bullied, and unloved. Though it was difficult to read how she was treated, the ending begins to provide hope that Caroline will have more people in her support network than she could have guessed. An intense look at relationships and self-discovery. Give this to introspective readers who may relate to Caroline always feeling on the fringes. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781338129304
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/27/2018

 

Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

Now that I work in an elementary library, I’m reading a lot more titles for younger readers. Rather than review all of them like I usually do, I’m stealing Karen’s Post-it note review idea and sharing the titles with you that way. It’s been super interesting to me to see what the students (grades K-5) check out. I’ve spent so long completely in the world of YA and am glad for an opportunity to work with younger readers and to read all of the great picture books, chapter books, and middle grade books I’ve missed out on!

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

 

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The Haunted House Next Door by Andres Miedoso, Victor Rivas

Meet Desmond Cole! A fearless eight-year-old who runs his own ghost patrol, looking for ghosts, monsters, and mischief makers everywhere. Oh, and he just so happens to be my new best friend…and thank goodness! Because I’m afraid of everything.

Welcome to Kersville, a town with a spooky history and a collection of ghosts and spirits who are major mischief-makers. Most kids spend their days without ever seeing or dealing with a ghost, but some kids get stuck with a haunt. When that happens, they call Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol. Desmond is the hall monitor of ghosts and monsters. There’s no job too spooky, icky, or risky for Desmond.

I’m not like that at all. My name’s Andres Miedoso. I’m Desmond’s best friend. We do everything together…including catch ghosts. Seems cool, right? There’s only one problem: I’m afraid of everything.

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

 

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Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Vol. 1: BFF by Amy Reeder, Natacha Bustos

LUNELLA LAFAYETTE is a preteen super genius who wants to change the world-but learned the hard way that it takes MORE than just big brains. Fearful of the monstrous INHUMAN genes inside her, life is turned upside down when a savage, red-scaled tyrant is teleported from prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call TODAY. The pair are many things, and together the most amazing Marvel Team-Up.

COLLECTING: MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR 1-6

 

 

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Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Series #1) by Roshani Chokshi

Best-selling author Rick Riordan introduces this adventure by Roshani Chokshi about twelve-year-old Aru Shah, who has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

 

 

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The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958

Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn’t have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear – speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family.

But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn’t matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.

 

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Captain Coconut and the Case of the Missing Bananas by Anushka Ravishankar, Priya Sundram

Meet the ace detective Captain Coconut, whose great brain can solve any mystery, large or small. In The Case of the Missing Bananas, Captain Coconut finds himself on a slippery trail of peels and numbers. A detective tale that grips the reader’s attention with its innovative illustrations and humorous raveling and unraveling of clues and numbers! This is the first book in the Captain Coconut series.

 

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The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle.

So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?

 

 

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Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring by Angela Cervantes

A room locked for fifty years.

A valuable peacock ring.

A mysterious brother-sister duo.

Paloma Marquez is traveling to Mexico City, birthplace of her deceased father, for the very first time. She’s hoping that spending time in Mexico will help her unlock memories of the too-brief time they spent together.

While in Mexico, Paloma meets Lizzie and Gael, who present her with an irresistible challenge: The siblings want her to help them find a valuable ring that once belonged to beloved Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Finding the ring means a big reward — and the thanks of all Mexico. What better way to honor her father than returning a priceless piece of jewelry that once belonged to his favorite artist!

But the brother and sister have a secret. Do they really want to return the ring, or are they after something else entirely?

 

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The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America: A TOON Graphic by Jaime Hernandez

How would a kitchen maid fare against a seven-headed dragon? What happens when a woman marries a mouse? And what can a young man learn from a thousand leaf cutter ants? Famed Love and Rockets creator Jaime Hernandez asks these questions and more as he transforms beloved myths into bold, stunning, and utterly contemporary comics. Guided by the classic works of F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada, Hernandez’s first book for young readers brings the sights and stories of Latin America to a new generation of graphic-novel fans around the world.