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The top 25 children’s titles at my school this year

IMG_3181It’s almost the end of the school year (hooray!). I didn’t need to run a report to see what our most popular books were, since I watch them go in and out of the elementary library every day, but I thought I’d verify my guesses. As our top 25 list shows, graphic novels were hot (Raina Telegemeier could put out a new book every week and kids would still be clamoring for more from her—same with the Amulet series), Wimpy Kid is still going strong, and books nominated for the Maud Hart Lovelace Award (Minnesota’s “read and vote” award for kids) got lots of circulations (a fact aided by the pizza party kids who read a certain number of these books were able to earn). The titles on this award list included entries 1, 2, 3, 6, 17, and 19 on our top 25 list. What was hot at your school (elementary, middle, or high school) this year? Share your lists in our comments or find me on Twitter @CiteSomething. 

 

1. Fort DeFelice, Cynthia C.
2. Dinosaur boy Oakes, Cory Putman
3. Turn left at the cow Bullard, Lisa
4. Diary of a wimpy kid : double down Kinney, Jeff
5. Minecraft combat handbook Milton, Stephanie
6. The vanishing coin Egan, Kate
7. Dog Man Pilkey, Dav
8. Amulet. Book seven, Firelight Kibuishi, Kazu
9. Dog Man Unleashed Pilkey, Dav
10. El Deafo Bell, Cece
11. Pokémon : deluxe essential handbook : the need-to-know stats and facts on over 700 Pokémon. Pokémon
12. Amulet. Book one, The stonekeeper Kibuishi, Kazu
13. Minecraft essential handbook Milton, Stephanie
14. Amulet. Book two, The stonekeeper’s curse Kibuishi, Kazu
15. Diary of a wimpy kid : the long haul Kinney, Jeff
16. Dog Man. A tale of two kitties Pilkey, Dav
17. Appleblossom the possum Sloan, Holly Goldberg
18. Diary of a wimpy kid : old school Kinney, Jeff
19. Honey Weeks, Sarah
20. Amulet. Book four, The last council Kibuishi, Kazu
21. Diary of a wimpy kid : cabin fever Kinney, Jeff
22. Amulet. Book three, The cloud searchers Kibuishi, Kazu
23. Sisters Telgemeier, Raina
24. Amulet. Book five, Prince of the elves Kibuishi, Kazu
25. Drama Telgemeier, Raina

Mini Book Reviews: What I’ve Been Reading including books by Lauren Oliver, Claire Legrand, Caleb Roehrig, Justina Ireland and more

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, so I wanted to take a moment to share some quick reviews with you. Some of these titles are already out, a few more of them are digital ARCs I have downloaded off of Edelweiss. A few of the titles don’t even come out until October of this year, but you’ll definitely want to make sure to read them and share them with teens.

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

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Publisher’s Book Description

It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.

Karen’s Thoughts

We all have our go to authors, and Lauren Oliver is one of mine, which is why I have already read this and way in advance. It’s a haunting story of murder, betrayal, friendship, love and trying to right the wrongs of the past. Three friends were entranced with a story that was published without an ending, so they set out to make their own. The ending they got was, however, not what they expected. Five years later, the two remaining girls are trying to find out what really happened and clear their names in a town that hates them for what it thinks they’ve done. Lyrical and haunting, there’s a lot to consider here. Broken Things also takes on the topics of awakening female sexuality and the power that comes with it, desire, and what it means to be broken in a world that can be harsh and unforgiving. Coming in October 2018 from HarperCollins. Definitely recommended.

Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand

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Publisher’s Book Description

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Karen’s Thoughts

Much like Broken Things mentioned above, Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand (another of my instant buy authors) takes us into the world of female sexuality and friendship in lyrical and hauntingly beautiful ways. Here, we combine local myths and legends with a long string of disappearing girls and dip our toes into ritualism, magic, and secret societies. Readers will walk away from this one thinking long and hard about what it means to be a girl in today’s world. I wanted it to end slightly sooner than it did, but this one is powerful and moving. Readers will love it and I think it will become a classic. Comes out in October 2018 from Katherine Tegen Books. Definitely recommended.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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Publisher’s Book Description

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Karen’s Thoughts

I’m not going to lie, it was the zombies that drew me to this book. And it’s such a fresh and interesting take on zombies at that. But this is a powerful look at racism, and that subject will haunt you far longer and more profoundly then any of the zombies will. I came for the zombies, but appreciated the confrontation of our nation’s racist past, a past we still haven’t dealt with and an issue we are still struggling with today. I do have some slight concerns that this book may contain some unfortunate stereotypes regarding Native Americans and have some other reviewers expressing the same concern. Definitely recommended.

Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy

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Publisher’s Book Description

Jenny didn’t want to move to the creepy, possibly haunted town with her dad. But the cops are on to her, and the only way she can protect herself is by moving as far away from her hometown as possible and staying out of trouble.

But even after she moves, Jenny still gets the itch. The itch to light a match and then watch it burn.

It’s something she hasn’t been able to stop, ever since an accident years ago. Now, in a new town, Jenny has the strange feeling that someone is watching her every move. Will her arsonist ways be exposed? Or is the burning truth deep inside her a greater danger?

Karen’s Thoughts

Put this in the hands of fans of Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson when they ask what other twisted thrillers with an unreliable narrator you might have in your collection. It doesn’t match the skill in storytelling that Allegedly has, but it’s a satisfying read for those who want to read a twisted thriller where you’re not entirely sure what’s happening and who’s to blame. Broken families, compulsive tendencies, arson, and more are discussed in this twisted psychological thriller. This comes out October 2018 from Delacorte Press. This will have a lot of interested readers.

The Truth Lies Here by Lindsey Klingele

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Publisher’s Book Description

In small town Michigan, Penny, an aspiring journalist, teams up with the nerdy boy-next-door and the town’s star quarterback to find her conspiracy theorist father after he goes missing and several other townspeople turn up dead in the woods.

The deeper she digs, the weirder things start to get. Townspeople repeat the same phrases—verbatim. Men in black suits stroll around Main Street. Chunks of her memory go missing. Pretty soon, Penny’s research leads her to the long-ago meteorite crash in Bone Lake’s woods, and she’s going to have to reconsider her definition of “real” if she wants answers. . . .

Karen’s Thoughts

I read this simply because of the X-files comparison. And it’s an apt comparison, to be honest. A small town, a disappearing dad who loves a good conspiracy theory, and a lot of strange, unexplained events. The attempt to unravel the truth and the realization of what that truth is a fun and entertaining read. Sometimes, it’s nice just to read a fun, engaging book and this fits the bill. This is also a really authentic depiction of small town, rural, Midwestern life. Recommended.

Recently The Teen, who is an avid reading and reviews a lot of the ARCs I get for TLT, was going through all the ARCs on the shelf and proclaimed, “there is nothing here I want to read.” That has never happened before. It turns out, she is really wanting to read mysteries right now and there is, to be honest, not a lot of mysteries being released in YA. That doesn’t mean there are none, but there are definitely fewer than there has been in past years, a complaint I hear from many of my teens. So I started searching for some YA mysteries she hasn’t read and we landed on one new one, we liked it enough to read a previous book by that same author, and started a new series.

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

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Publisher’s Book Description

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get much worse, right?

But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox—but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.

Karen’s Thoughts

Because I’m a librarian, I don’t often buy books, I check them out from the library unless I’ve already read it and want a copy for my personal library. But this book had so much strong buzz, I chose not to wait and bought it. It is a very intriguing mystery. Our main character shows up at the scene of a murder and is drawn in to help solve it, in large part because once he showed up, he’s now a suspect himself. Oops. There is some really powerful LGBTQ content here in a really moving love story as characters embrace who they are and how they feel about each other. And then, of course, there is the mystery itself, which is a twisted plot that involves broken families, class warfare, and local drug culture. It’s very much a tale for our times, and it’s a good read too! Definitely recommended.

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

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Publisher’s Book Description

Flynn’s girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

Karen’s Thoughts

After reading White Rabbit, I decided I wanted to go back and read Last Seen Leaving. I actually ended up liking Last Seen Leaving even more than White Rabbit. Like White Rabbit, Last Seen Leaving contains some powerful LGBTQ content as well as our main character bonds with another character wile trying to discover what happened to an ex-girlfriend. I loved watching these two characters bond while solving this mystery. Politics, broken families, class, identity, and more are discussed here. There’s even some talk about female bodily autonomy and consent, including the importance of male as well as female consent in sexual situations. There are a lot of interesting nuggets packed into this engaging mystery. Definitely recommended.

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

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Publsiher’s Book Description

Of course I didn’t like Digby when I first met him. No one does.

The first time Philip Digby shows up on Zoe Webster’s doorstep, he’s rude and he treats her like a book he’s already read and knows the ending to.

But before she knows it, Zoe’s allowed Digby—annoying, brilliant, and somehow…attractive? Digby—to drag her into a series of hilarious, dangerous, and only vaguely legal schemes all related to the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that might be connected to the tragic disappearance of his little sister eight years ago. When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can’t say no.

But is Digby a hero? Or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exorcize his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies? And does she really care anyway?

This is a contemporary debut with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and a dynamic duo you won’t soon forget.

Karen’s Thoughts

This book is the first in a series which was recommended to me by a friend. I would have liked the book, except male main character is really manipulative and doesn’t respect the female main characters boundaries and she continues to not stand her ground, which causes her a lot of very real problems. I didn’t like this relationship dynamic at all so I won’t be continuing the series. The mystery itself was interesting, I just couldn’t stand this guy and the way he treated the people in his life. Teens will be drawn to the humor, the friendships and the mystery.

MakerSpace: Guitar Pick Jewelry

Because this year’s summer reading theme, Libraries Rock!, is music based, we have been trying to find ways to make our various MakerSpace activities music oriented. Luckily for us, we have a guitar pick punch that hasn’t been used very much in our space. Outside of the obvious – you can use it to make actual guitar picks – you can also use it to make guitar pick jewelry!

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You can do a variety of things with a guitar pick: decoupage it, glam it up with glitter and rhinestones, or you can engrave them. Since we also have a Silhouette Cameo, we will definitely be adding engraving guitar picks and turning them into jewelry for one of our MakerSpace activity stations. Your mileage may vary, because you don’t have to do very much to make cool guitar pick jewelry.

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Supplies:

  • Guitar pick punch (available for purchase at Amazon)
  • Plastic (can be purchased or you can use things like invalid credit cards and foot take out containers)
  • Small hole punch (1/16 for smaller holes)
  • Various jewelry making supplies and findings like o rings, cord, and pliers
  • A laptop and Silhouette Cameo for engraving (see section on engraving for less expensive methods)

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If you want to engrave your guitar pick, you can use hand held engraving tools or a Silhouette Cameo with an etching tool.

Making Your Guitar Pick

Making your guitar pick is simple and quick. You can buy a variety of colorful plastic strips online or you can use plastic found around the house. I’ve even used old bank and credit cards, making sure not to include any of my name or number in a way that can be seen. If you’re going to do something like decoupage your pick, you can even use plastic from take out food containers.

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After you punch out your guitar pick, you’ll want to use the small hole punch at one end of the guitar pick to make a hole so you can attach it to your jewelry with an o ring.

Engraving Your Guitar Pick

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You can buy an etching tool for the Silhouette Cameo which you can use to engrave your guitar pick. You’ll want to follow these instructions, with a slight modification. I suggest choosing the highest level of settings, including making 10 passes. We tried a variety of settings but found that making 10 passes really helped to make sure that you could see the engraving.

You can also do DIY engraving using a hand tool, which is less expensive. They have instructions at Instructables for this. There are also suggested ways of engraving at WikiHow.

Making Your Jewelry

With your guitar pick now ready to go, you can make whatever kind of jewelry you want to make following basic jewelry making principles. Necklaces and ear rings work best because of the size of the guitar pick. And of course, they make cool key rings.

The cost, time and skill for this project depends on how elaborate you make your jewelry, which makes it very customizable.

Planting Books, Growing Readers, a guest post by Liesl Shurtliff

 

rumpIn the beginning of writing my first fairytale retelling, Rump, I thought the story would focus solely on Rumpelstiltskin, isolated from any other fairytales. That didn’t last long. Midway through my first draft, I developed the character Red and very quickly realized she must be Little Red Riding Hood. Of course! She has a magic path. Her granny lives in The Woods. Soon I found myself making nods to other fairytales—Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, The Three Spinners—brief mentions, sometimes so obscure they’re hardly noticeable unless you’re paying close attention or really know your fairytales. My good friend and writing pal Kate Hannigan calls them “Easter Eggs.” (I’m sure that’s a thing, I just didn’t know it until she told me.)

 

 

redThese Easter Eggs delighted me. I loved making little discoveries and connections between familiar fairytales, and I suspected they’d delight readers as well. They also inspired all the other books in my (Fairly) True Tales series. Red, Jack, and Grump were all a result of Easter Eggs planted in a story that came before them, and they each have their own Easter Eggs. Goldilocks, The Frog Prince, Beauty and the Beast, Tom Thumb, Thumbelina, The Shoemaker and the Elves… They could all become their own story, or they might simply remain as they are, little delights for the reader to discover and enjoy for a brief moment, and then move on. I’ve planted seeds for more stories than I could ever write, but isn’t that grand? I’ve always preferred to have my creative well overflowing.

 

 

I feel similarly about my reading life. If you’re an avid reader, which I suspect you are, I imagine you’re to-be-read pile resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa, with more books than you could possibly read in a lifetime. It’s a constant struggle. How can I read all the books? There are not enough hours in the day. At the same time, I’m so grateful to have this problem, instead of the opposite, to know that there are so many wonderful books in the world worth reading, too many to read in a lifetime. It makes me mourn and rejoice all at once.

 

matildaBut this was not always the case for me. As a child, once I got past the struggle of learning to read, there was the ever-present, frustrating question of what to read. It’s not that I didn’t have access to lots of books, and there were plenty of grown-ups around to help me select them. My dad bought me books for my birthday. Teachers assigned their favorite books in class. I always loved read-aloud time, which is how Matilda by Roald Dahl came to be one of my favorite books. But to be perfectly honest, I was a somewhat stubborn and contrary child. I’d often reject a book that was assigned or suggested reading, even if I might have otherwise enjoyed it. Not only did I hate being told what to do, I also disliked being told what I would like. Sometimes I just wanted to make my own decisions, without input from anyone, but mostly adults.

 

 

wait till helenI remember one particular book I found in my school library in fourth grade. The book was face out, on the very top of one of the shelves. I liked the cover, and the title seemed ominous. Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn. I checked it out. I devoured this book. I remember reluctantly turning it back into the library, then later searching for it again. If it was on the shelf, I usually checked it out. If it wasn’t, I felt like someone had taken my book. I read it over and over. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to get my own copy. Maybe it was a thrill to chase that book down in the library. Would it be there? Would it be just as good the next time? (Update: I now have my own copy.)

 

 

 

ramonaI discovered many of my favorite books in this way, without anyone gifting, suggesting, or assigning. The Boxcar Children, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, and Sideways Stories from Wayside School, to name a few, were all books I found at the library or at home on the dusty bookshelves in the basement. Someone might have suggested them to me at some point, but in my memory, it felt like I chose them on my own, and that seemed to make all the difference. Reading was a private thing. I wanted to be alone with my books. I didn’t want anyone else to intrude in any way.

 

 

 

As a writer, I’m often thinking about ways to “hook” my reader, to draw them in, keep them turning the page. But perhaps the first hook for young readers isn’t the book itself, but their freedom to choose it. It’s great to book talk and recommend and read aloud and maybe even assign a book to read as a class on occasion. All these things can make a huge impact on our children’s reading lives, but if we want them to develop into life-long, independent readers with impossible book towers of their own, then we must also give them room to practice choosing books on their own and allow them to experience it without intrusion. Sometimes we grown-ups have to get out of the way.

 

This can be fun for us, though! We get to plant the books, place them with the covers out, sprinkling our fairy-reading dust, then hurry and hide and let the kids go on the hunt. Don’t say a word. The kids need to believe it’s all happening on its own. Just watch as they discover their books. Rejoice silently as they pick one up and start turning pages.

 

My librarian in fourth grade probably didn’t know the relationship I would develop with Wait Till Helen Comes, but she knew someone would enjoy it. I’m sure that’s why she put in on top of the shelf with the cover facing out. I imagine that as I checked it out again and again she smiled and gave herself a little pat on the back. That book was my reading “Easter egg”, a surprise, even a secret I got to keep for just a little while, until I had to bring it back. Then I’d go on to discover the next egg. It’s wonderful to have too many books to read in a lifetime, but it’s also wonderful to have just a few books, or maybe only one, that you chose yourself and love with your whole heart. I wish that for every child, whatever the book may be, I hope they find it, perhaps with a little behind the scenes help from a book fairy.

 

Meet Liesl Shurtliff

Photo credit: Erin Lake

Photo credit: Erin Lake

Liesl Shurtliff is the author of Grump. She grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and just as Snow White had seven dwarves, Liesl had seven siblings to keep her company! Before she became a writer, Liesl graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in music, dance, and theater. Her first three books, Rump, Jack, and Red, are all New York Times bestsellers, and Rump was named to over two dozen state award lists and won an ILA Children’s Book Award. She lives in Chicago with her family, where she continues to spin fairy tales. Visit her at LieslShurtliff.com. Follow her @LieslShurtliff.

 

About Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl Shurtliff

grumpFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Rump, comes the true story behind another unlikely hero: a grumpy dwarf who gets tangled up in Snow White’s feud with the wicked queen.

Ever since he was a dwarfling, Borlen (nicknamed “Grump”) has dreamed of visiting The Surface, so when opportunity knocks, he leaves his cavern home behind.
At first, life aboveground is a dream come true. Queen Elfrieda Veronika Ingrid Lenore (E.V.I.L.) is the best friend Grump always wanted, feeding him all the rubies he can eat and allowing him to rule at her side in exchange for magic and information. But as time goes on, Grump starts to suspect that Queen E.V.I.L. may not be as nice as she seems. . . .
When the queen commands him to carry out a horrible task against her stepdaughter Snow White, Grump is in over his head. He’s bound by magic to help the queen, but also to protect Snow White. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, the queen keeps bugging him for updates through her magic mirror! He’ll have to dig deep to find a way out of this pickle, and that’s enough to make any dwarf Grumpy indeed.

For Amanda’s review of GRUMP, hop on over here. 

Book Review: Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl Shurtliff

Publisher’s description

grumpFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Rump, comes the true story behind another unlikely hero: a grumpy dwarf who gets tangled up in Snow White’s feud with the wicked queen.

Ever since he was a dwarfling, Borlen (nicknamed “Grump”) has dreamed of visiting The Surface, so when opportunity knocks, he leaves his cavern home behind.
At first, life aboveground is a dream come true. Queen Elfrieda Veronika Ingrid Lenore (E.V.I.L.) is the best friend Grump always wanted, feeding him all the rubies he can eat and allowing him to rule at her side in exchange for magic and information. But as time goes on, Grump starts to suspect that Queen E.V.I.L. may not be as nice as she seems. . . .
When the queen commands him to carry out a horrible task against her stepdaughter Snow White, Grump is in over his head. He’s bound by magic to help the queen, but also to protect Snow White. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, the queen keeps bugging him for updates through her magic mirror! He’ll have to dig deep to find a way out of this pickle, and that’s enough to make any dwarf Grumpy indeed.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

Confession: I’ve never read any of Shurtliff’s books before. Rump, one of her previous books, is really popular in our library. A student noticed I was carrying Grump on the way to lunch one day and practically ripped it out of my hands. And now, having read this book, I totally get the easy appeal of these books: familiar worlds turned on their heads and great world-building. Looks like I have some backlist to read this summer.

 

Most dwarves are born deep underground, but Borlen (later nicknamed “Grump”) was born just under The Surface. As a result, he was always interested in The Surface and the ways of the mysterious world up there. What he wouldn’t give to escape to that world and not have to suffer his fate—being the Seventh in a mining crew. Mining crews have six dwarves; the Seventh is a slot reserved for those considered “a troublemaker or an idiot.” When he joins his crew, he mines his Fate Stone. It’s a rare reflecting stone that works like a magic mirror. To Borlen, it’s just another thing that makes him different. As he gets settled in his new crew, his differences really stand out. The depths make him dizzy and sick. He doesn’t sing while he works. The other dwarves peg him as a grump. There’s not much to like about his new life (or his old life, for that matter), so when he discovers a chance to escape to The Surface, he takes it. He’s quickly “befriended” by the Queen (who, of course, has no real friends and has nefarious reasons for wanting Borlen around) and is supposed to do her bidding—a command that becomes more complicated when he meets Snow White and then has to protect her and do her bidding. Their adventures together lead them to reconnecting with Grump’s mining crew, who are all forced to escape to The Surface and hide out with Grump and Snow White (whom Grump calls “Spoiled Brat”). It’s up to Grump, the allegedly useless Seventh, to figure out how to outwit the Queen and save Snow White.

 

There’s something so satisfying about reading a story where you know the characters and the world, then seeing it turned on its head. This fast-paced story will have readers mentally chiding Grump for going along with the Queen’s plans and cheering for him once he connects with Snow White. A fun look at friendship and belonging. If, like me, this book is readers’ first introduction to the author, they will surely be scrambling to go back and read her older titles. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781524717018
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication date: 05/29/2018

Sunday Reflections: Where are the children?

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When she was two, The Teen and I were shopping at Sears when Things 2 suddenly disappeared. In a panic, I began running around the store calling for her. Each moment that she was missing the intensity of my panic increased. I ran. I screamed. I shouted. I searched.

Soon, recognizing my distress, others joined in on the search. The store itself was just about to shut it all down and call a Code Adam when we found Thing 2 hiding in one of the clothing racks.

I’ve thought about this story a lot in the past couple of days as news came out that our government had lost almost 1,500 children. I thought about this story as I read about how ICE agents were separating children from their parents as they crossed the border into our country seeking asylum. I thought about the panic that I felt. I thought about the fear. I thought about the growing anguish. Please note, although both of these reports are about issues relating to immigrant children, they are separate news stories. It should also be noted that not all of this has just recently started happening, some of the reports go back to 2015 and 2016.

As ICE separates children from parents at the border, public outrage grows

I think, too, of a friend of mine that just lost their adult son in their twenties. I think about the incredible grief that they are experiencing. About the ways that their lives have shut down. About the ways their life will never be the same.

US lost track of 1,500 undocumented children

I think about the long term effects of childhood trauma. Of all the teens that come and visit us in the Teen MakerSpace and just the ways that divorce or having a parent incarcerated has and will continue to effect them.

Trump on Abused Immigrant Children: “They’re Not Innocent”

And I think of what it must be like to be a parent trying to bring your children to a safer country. To a country where you hope that you can escape violence or dream of a future where your child can get an education, a job, a house with a wife and two cars and a garage. But when you arrive there, strangers rip your child from your arms. They place your children in cages that resemble dog kennels at the dog pound. And then they lose them.

Abusive Conditions for Women and Children in US Immigration

Reports have said that some of these children are being trafficked.

U.S. Placed Immigrant Children With Traffickers, Report Says

Other reports say that some of these children are being sexually assaulted.

ACLU Report: Detained Immigrant Children Subjected To Widespread Abuse by Border AGents

All of these children are being traumatized.

The Federal Government Lost 1,475 Immigrant Children | Teen Vogue

Whatever is happening, all of these children are being traumatized. I said it twice because it’s really important that we understand what we are doing to a generation of children.

Childhood Trauma : Long-Term Effects and Symptoms

This is not the first time in our country’s history that this has happened. During slavery, children were ripped from the arms of their parents and sold off as property. Native American children were taken from their parents on reservations and placed into boarding schools to “tame” them. Japanese Americans and their children were placed in concentration camps during World War II.

No, the idea that we can be cruel to children is not a new one to our nation, and yet I find myself stunned at the recent news. I routinely read about bias and how even as young as kindergarten and preschool our nation’s children who happen to be anything other than white can be singled out, disproportionately punished, called on to participate less frequently and more. I don’t want to romanticize how our country treats its children. I don’t want to act shocked or stunned that this is happening. History has shown us who we are and what we are capable of doing.

And yet, there is something about this story that takes us to a place that I can not fathom. I can not fathom as a mother or a Christian or as a compassionate human being how anyone can rationalize ripping a crying child from the arms of a screaming parent, placing them into a cage, and then . . . losing them. I can not imagine government agents handing children over to traffickers. I can not imagine anyone doing the various things that I have read that our government and its agents are in fact doing to children.

I can not fathom as someone who has spent their lives learning about the development of children and advocating for their well being how anyone in a position of power that is supposed to care about people, represent the people, and put policies into place that provide for the well being of our country can think anything about this is a good or acceptable idea. These policies and practices will scar a generation of children and we will be left to pick up the pieces.

And please, do not suggest to me that since these children are not American citizens that we don’t have some type of obligation to them. Children are the most vulnerable among us and we have an obligation to all of the world’s children to do the least harm possible to them. Whatever is happening in the world of adult politics, if we can’t even agree to do our very best to take care of children, then we have genuinely lost the plot. The very basic tenant of very basic humanity should be that we do everything we can to nurture and protect children. It’s not even a selfless act, to be honest, what happens to each generation of children effects the adults they will become and the future of not just them, but our country, of our world. They will soon be our doctors, our lawyers, our teachers and our policy makers. What we are doing has immediate and long term implications. It really is that dire.

The long term effects of childhood trauma include physical health issues, mental health issues, substance abuse, and troubles bonding and forming meaningful relationships. It shapes their view of self and their view of the world. It impacts who they are and who they will become. There is both a high human and dollar cost associated with childhood trauma.

I thought we had all agreed that at a bare minimum, we all had an obligation to the least of these, the most vulnerable among us, our children.

Today I am celebrating 23 years of marriage to The Mr. All together, we have been together for a quarter of a century. That’s a really long time. We have had some really rough moments: we lost a child in pregnancy, we lost a house to a flood and an economic crisis, we’ve lost friends and family members, and there are times when we didn’t know how we were going to feed our children and pay our bills, but at the end of the day, I get to come home to this lovely man and two amazing children whom I richly adore. I can’t imagine any of the things happening to my children that I have read about in the last two days. And as my heart celebrates my blessings, it also aches because I look at what my country is doing to someone else’s children and I am angry, afraid, and heartbroken.

Today I will celebrate with my family and snuggle my children. Somewhere else, there are parents who had their children taken away by the U.S. government and its agents and no one can tell them where those children are.

This can not be acceptable for any of us.

Friday Finds: May 25, 2018

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Book Review: All Summer Long by Hope Larson

Summer Reading Chaos: How do we balance the needs of our community with those of our staff?

#ReadForChange: Get Really Real with Lilliam Rivera’s The Education of Margot Sanchez, a guest post by Marie Marquardt

DNA Profiling Program Recap by Michelle Biwer

Sunday Reflections: This is what happened when the The Teen asked me if .gov websites were trustworthy

Around the Web

Tributes Pour In for Richard Peck

My FanX craziness, annotated

The Brain Science Is In: Students’ Emotional Needs Matter

Jason Reynolds’ Commencement Address at Lelsey University

The Official List of Harper’s Fall 2018 YA Cover Reveals

Federal Agencies Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Migrant Children Placed With Sponsors

 

 

Book Review: All Summer Long by Hope Larson

Publisher’s description

all summer longA coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award–winning and New York Times–bestselling Hope Larson.

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he’s off to soccer camp for a month, and he’s been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it’s up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it’s a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin’s older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he’s acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

This will be an easy hit with fans of Raina Telgemeier, Victoria Jamieson, Jennifer Holm, and Shannon Hale’s Real Friends. I could probably bring 20 of these to work, put them on my desk, and have them all gone to 5th graders in a few hours.

 

There’s so much to like here. I loved everything about this graphic novel except the repeated use of the word “lame.” Why do people think it’s okay to still use that word? Barring that, which took me out of the story every time because I had to sigh and roll my eyes, it was fantastic. I love that it’s about a boy-girl friendship. Neighbors Bina and Austin have been best friends literally their entire lives. But as athletic Austin heads off to a month of soccer camp, leaving music enthusiast Bina behind, Bina feels at loose ends. She’s never really had to figure out what to do without Austin. She listens to music, plays her guitar, binges a tv show, and texts Austin, wishing he’d bother to text her back. It’s not that she doesn’t have anything else going on in her life, but it’s her first summer really on her own. Her older brother and his husband are adopting a baby, her other adventurous brother pops home and gives her a little pep talk, and she has a good relationship with her parents. She becomes friends (maybe, sort of, she thinks) with Charlie, Austin’s older sister. Charlie introduces her to new music, gets her into babysitting, and makes Bina feel kind of cool. And kind of used and frustrated. Middle school is a pretty typical time to discover just how complicated relationships, even lifelong ones, can be. So much is changing, but, as her mom points out, Bina is becoming more herself every day. She’s getting more into music, understanding more about social dynamics, and learning how to shape her own days without her best friend there to help her. When Austin returns from camp, things between them are definitely different, but they work it out, discovering that growing and changing doesn’t have to mean growing apart. Bina is a great character and a lot of readers will relate to her feelings and uncertainty. A solid addition to any graphic novel collection. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780374310714
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 05/01/2018

Summer Reading Chaos: How do we balance the needs of our community with those of our staff?

As my teethingsineverlearnedinlibraryschoolns are counting down the days left in the school year, I find myself counting down the days until summer reading begin, but with very mixed emotions.

This is my 25th year as a YA librarian, which means that it is the 25th summer reading program that I have planned. I have worked in several systems and have experiences several different approaches to summer reading. And, of course, I have spent 25 years listening to my peers talk about their experiences in their library systems. I have to be honest with you, there is a lot that concerns me. I’m not sure we’re doing right by our staff when it comes to summer reading.

Many public libraries put a lot of emphasis on summer reading programs. It’s our bright shining moment. SRPs help prevent summer slide, a real thing. We spend a lot of time, money, energy and resources focused on this part of our programming. It’s stressful. It’s time consuming. It can be a make or break deal for a lot of library systems, which means its a make or break deal for a lot of youth services librarians.

A book with summer in the title

A book with summer in the title

There are, of course, benefits:

1. Helping with that summer slide issue is a real and true thing.

2. Especially during the beginning of summer, a lot of teens now have some free time so it’ can help them fill up that free time and get them into the library.

3. Parents are always looking for things to do with their kids during the summer to help fill all those newly freed up hours and it is no doubt good pr because it makes parents happy

But SRPs can be incredibly hard on staff.

Some libraries, for example, have really long SRPs and have a rule stating that youth services staff can’t take vacation during SRP. This means that if you are a parent of school aged children who also works with youth in the library, you can’t take vacation during the only time of year that your kids can take vacation. And this rule almost always only applies to youth services staff because most public library summer reading programs focus on children and teens (though, for the record, my current library system has a very strong and robust adult summer reading program as well).

Another book with summer in the title

Another book with summer in the title

I understand why libraries have these rules in place. Most libraries don’t have enough staff and trying to allow staff off for vacations during your biggest yearly event can be difficult. Of course, there’s also the flip side where you’re trying to beg your brother who lives in another state to please not get married in June because getting the time off would be incredibly hard. For the record, I did get the time off, but it was not easy and there were long lasting hard feelings. And goodness forbid someone have a serious illness or injury during the summer months because absolute chaos can ensue.

As staff begin to realize the very real limitations that come with summer and working in youth services, it can be one of the most reviled parts of the library system to work in. Staff starts defecting for other departments because everyone wants a summer vacation. Youth services staff become resentful because they realize that other departments are not subject to the same rules and restrictions. I know a lot of genuinely gifted and passionate librarians who have left youth services for other departments because of the stress and demands that are put on youth services compared to other departments. We have lost some of our best and brightest because of burn out.

I often wonder, too, about the amount of time and money that goes into summer reading program compared to the rest of the year. Some libraries spend literally thousands of dollars on summer reading and are forced to find ways to do programming throughout the rest of the year for little or zero dollars. There are, after all, only so many crafts you can do with all the toilet paper rolls from the bathroom. And I can’t help but think it has to be a let down for all those kids and teens to come out of an amazing summer reading program and then be asked to come back in September for a program where we make whatever it is we’re making with that discarded toilet paper roll. There’s a bit of an inconsistency in how we present ourselves to the public when we are pouring all of our time, energy and resources into only three months of the year and then trying to make ends meet the other nine months of the year. I’m not convinced that it sends the message we want to be sending.

Hey look, another book with summer in the title

Hey look, another book with summer in the title

And yes, I know not all libraries are the same. Some of them are better staffed, better funded, and are better equipped to do knock your socks programs all year round. Some are staffed in ways that allow vacation during the summer. But the reality is, for a lot of libraries, summer reading programs are where it’s at. But this presents some very real challenges for staff. They’re being asked to maintain a year round participation that is being elevated by an influx of money, resources and marketing for a yearly event. They are being asked to commit themselves emotionally and physically often in unrealistic ways for this three month period of the year. They’re being asked, often demanded, to forego family reunions and family vacations in the only time of the year when families can go on vacation. In many of our library systems, the stakes are too high for our youth services departments during the summer.

I am not here to question the need for or validity of summer reading programs. I understand their value and support all that they offer to children, teens, and local communities. I am, however, asking us to take a step back and evaluate their role in our year-round programming, the amount of staff time and money they take up, and the extra demands they put on our staffs. I’m asking that we evaluate how libraries can work to spread the burden out so that it’s not just the same staff being asked to sacrifice in the same ways year after year. And I’m asking if we are making youth services in some ways an undesirable department to work in and losing some of our potentially best people by the extra demands placed on youth services departments during these three months of the year.

I'm sensing a theme here

I’m sensing a theme here

I’m asking that we step back and find a way to balance the needs of our communities with the needs of our staff to find a way to better meet the needs of both, and year round.

All it takes is a few moments on Twitter or Facebook, or on a youth services discussion forum, to realize how stressed our staff are about summer reading programs. Maybe it’s time we asked ourselves if there was a way to make this better for them while still reaching our goals for our community.

#ReadForChange: Get Really Real with Lilliam Rivera’s The Education of Margot Sanchez, a guest post by Marie Marquardt

ReadForChange copyTeen Librarian Toolbox is excited to be partnering with Marie Marquardt for her #ReadForChange project. Hop on over to this post to learn more about the initiative. Today, she and Lilliam Rivera join us for a conversation about gentrification, taking action, writing a novel that is just one voice of the many unheard voices in the publishing industry, and her excellent book The Education of Margot Sanchez. 

 

 

Take care not to listen to anyone who tells you what you can and can’t be in life.

– Meg Medina

 

Taking up space in the South Bronx

 

educationofThe Education of Margot Sanchez is a perfect summer read. It’s at times fun and funny, at other times heartrending and poignant. Much like Meg Medina’s fabulous Burn Baby Burn, this novel drops the reader deep inside summer at a very specific time on a very unique collection of New York City blocks. It’s crafted so well that we can feel the humidity in the air and the heat rising from the asphalt.

 

Most of Margot Sanchez’ summer “education” happens in and around the Sanchez & Sons supermarket – once a “welcoming oasis in a sea of concrete buildings” in the South Bronx, the supermarket, owned by Margot’s dad, has seen better days. As Margot explains: “the blue paint is peeling, the posters are the same from five years ago, and there’s some funky odor that I can’t place.”

 

While the supermarket stayed the same, Margot went through some big transformations. The most important: she got into the prestigious Somerset Prep, and she finally made friends with Serena and Camille, the coolest girls in school. Reading how Margot had to change to fit in with the cool girls will, for almost anyone who has been through middle school and early high school, evoke poignant reminders of painful times. Because Margot’s experience is so relatable, and because her decision to go to Somerset was shaped more by her parents’ aspirations than her own, we feel sympathy for Margot, even though she has done some incredibly stupid stuff.

 

Case in point: Margot used her parents’ credit card to charge six-hundred-dollars-worth of clothes, since hanging out with Serena and Camille transformed her style from thrift store bo-ho chic to designer Taylor-Swift-inspired. (Like I said: cringe-worthy). Margot’s adventures in shopping landed her at Sanchez & Sons for the summer, instead of in the Hamptons with all of her Somerset friends.

 

At first utterly disdainful of her work and most of the people she encounters there, Margot eventually discovers and embraces her unique identity (even while wearing a hairnet and serving up sliced meats to the neighborhood church ladies!). Her transformation is aided by Moises, an anti-gentrification activist with a bad reputation, and Elizabeth, her former best friend who chose art school over Somerset.

 

While drawing us into this unique South Bronx neighborhood and the fabulous characters that inhabit it, The Education of Margot Sanchez also pulls readers into some complicated questions about family, ethnicity, social class, identity, and the impact of gentrification on particular communities. The story also playfully sifts through an enormous heap of gendered expectations. (Note, for example, that “Sanchez & Sons is owned by a man with only one son, who goes by the nickname ‘Junior’. The other child is Margot, whom everyone calls ‘Princesa’.)

 

Margot is a list-maker. Her final list of the summer is the “Get Really Real List.” This is the perfect way to end a novel that’s so real, so honest, and so deeply embedded in a particular place. I enthusiastically recommend The Education of Margot Sanchez to anyone who’s looking for a summer read that’s both super funny and incredibly thought-provoking.

 

“The Audacity to Believe that I Deserved Some Shelf Space”: A Chat with Lilliam Rivera

downloadMARIE: Tell us about the moment when you knew that this story had to be written, and that you needed to be the one to write it.

LILLIAM: The moment I knew The Education of Margot Sanchez had to be written was back in 2013. I kept thinking of the many young adult novels I read as a teenager. The Judy Blumes. The S.E. Hintons. I devoured those books and so many more at my local library. Because of the abundance of those books, I had the audacity to believe that I deserved some shelf space. That perhaps a Latina coming-of-age story set in the South Bronx, New York can be just one voice of the many unheard voices in the publishing industry that takes up some space.

MARIE: What are some of the things you’re doing to create the world that you want to live in?

LILLIAM: This is an interesting question. I grew up in a household where we were taught to navigate spaces that were not meant for people with my last name. My family is very active politically and that has fed down to my own writing. I believe I can create works of art that speaks on my own struggles —colonization, racism, and class. Even when I am writing in a contemporary setting or near future, these are the things that I write towards. How does this work with creating the life I want to live? I try to bring this to the many students I speak to across the states and to my own kids. I love speaking to young people and letting them know that their voices are so desperately needed. To be heard and to be seen, it’s really what most people want.

MARIE: For readers who want to take action, themselves, what ideas can you share?

LILLIAM: The amazing part about being young right now is the many different social media accounts out there. Communicating with someone with the exact same interests as you is so much easier. Young people can control the narrative, away from propaganda. They don’t have to settle to hearing what is happening in the world through only a few outlets. It’s an amazing period to be active, to take action. You can find like-minded people online and that can spur you into having uncomfortable conversations and to be part of social movements.

 

Let’s Get Reading!: Gentrification, from A to Z

 

Margot RFCLucky for us, Lilliam recently posted a great article on Teen Librarian Toolbox about one of the most significant themes in this novel: gentrification. She’s got several great recommendations there for people who want to learn more and read more. So, head on over to that article for all the details. You can find it here.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, inspired by Margot, I will give you the short list:

 

Lilliam’s Really Real Gentrification List

“Gentrification and the Criminlazation of Neighborhoods” – The Atlantic

“Health Effects of Gentrification” – Centers for Disease Control

How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the fight for the Neighborhood by Peter Moskowitz

The Color of Law: A forgotten History of How Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

 Lilliam's Gentrification List

Let’s Get Loud!
“It’s an amazing period to be active, to take action!”

Ready to take action?  Here are a few recommendations that Lilliam Rivera says are “doing the work”.

Black Youth Project
(BYP100)
A national organization of 18-35 year-old Black organizers and activists, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. Using a Black queer feminist lens, BYP100 “envisions a world where all black people have economic, social, political, and educational freedom.”

Immigrant Youth Coalition
An organization led by undocumented youth that works to empower immigrant youth in California to stand up to injustice and criminalization of immigrants.

 

 

United We Dream
This fabulous immigrant youth-led organization is making a second appearance on our list, and for good reason: “At United We Dream, we transform fear into finding your voice. We empower people to develop their leadership, their organizing skills, and to develop our own campaigns to fight for justice and dignity for immigrants and all people.”

Million Hoodies Movement for Justice
A human rights organization with chapters around the country that is “building next generation human rights leaders to end anti-Black racism and systemic violence”

 

 

 

¡ Pa’lante!
This summer, let’s get really real and #ReadForChange

If you’re hoping to start your summer with a free signed copy of The Education of Margot Sanchez, here’s a link to the giveaway. We’ll be announcing the winner on Twitter @MarieFMarquardt and Instagram marie_marquardt June 1!

 

Meet Marie Marquardt

Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Marie Marquardt is the author of three YA novels: The Radius of UsDream Things True, and Flight Season (available 2/20/18). A Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, Marie also has published several articles and co-authored two non-fiction books about Latin American immigration to the U.S. South. She is chair of El Refugio, a non-profit that serves detained immigrants and their families. She lives with her spouse, four kids, a dog and a bearded dragon in the book-lover’s mecca of Decatur, Georgia.