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Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

New and forthcoming YA and MG to know about

tltbutton7Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to teen readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get, but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething. All descriptions from the publishers.

 

 

speakSpeak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, Emily Carroll (ISBN-13: 9780374300289 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 02/06/2018)

The critically acclaimed, award-winning, modern classic Speak is now a stunning graphic novel.

“Speak up for yourself—we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless—an outcast—because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. Through her work on an art project, she is finally able to face what really happened that night: She was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. With powerful illustrations by Emily Carroll, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak: The Graphic Novel comes alive for new audiences and fans of the classic novel.

 

 

sky in the deepSky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (ISBN-13: 9781250168450 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 04/24/2018)

A 2018 Most Anticipated Young Adult book that is part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

 

 

all summer longAll Summer Long by Hope Larson (ISBN-13: 9780374310714 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 05/01/2018)

A 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.

 

 

 

light filters inLight Filters In: Poems by Caroline Kaufman, Yelena Bryksenkova (ISBN-13: 9780062844682 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/22/2018)

In the vein of poetry collections like Milk and Honey and Adultolescence, this compilation of short, powerful poems from teen Instagram sensation @poeticpoison perfectly captures the human experience. 

In Light Filters In, Caroline Kaufman—known as @poeticpoison—does what she does best: reflects our own experiences back at us and makes us feel less alone, one exquisite and insightful piece at a time. She writes about giving up too much of yourself to someone else, not fitting in, endlessly Googling “how to be happy,” and ultimately figuring out who you are.

This hardcover collection features completely new material plus some fan favorites from Caroline’s account. Filled with haunting, spare pieces of original art, Light Filters In will thrill existing fans and newcomers alike.

it’s okay if some things

are always out of reach.

if you could carry all the stars

in the palm of your hand,

they wouldn’t be

half as breathtaking

 

 

confusionConfusion Is Nothing New by Paul Acampora (ISBN-13: 9781338209990 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/29/2018)

Ellie Magari just learned that her mother is dead. Perhaps that would be sad if Ellie had ever met the woman. Exactly who was Ellie’s mom? Does it even matter that she’s gone? Perhaps a dead mom can still help Ellie figure out what it means to be a girl in the world today. Either way, Ellie wouldn’t mind a role model beyond her master chef Dad.

Fueled by the bighearted sounds of ’80s rock and roll, plus large doses of Cyndi Lauper’s girl-power joy, Confusion Is Nothing New is about friendship, family mysteries, and the perfect pizza. It’s also about fathers and daughters and girls who understand that it’s good to make things, but breaking things is okay too.

In fact, sometimes breaking things is required.

 

 

breakoutBreakout by Kate Messner (ISBN-13: 9781681195360 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek—two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town’s maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics—a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project—Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who’s really welcome in the places we call home.

 

 

bring me their heartsBring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf (ISBN-13: 9781640631465 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Zera is a Heartless—the immortal, unaging soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum: if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy Zera’s heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him—every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him—until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

 

 

heart of thornsHeart of Thorns by Bree Barton (ISBN-13: 9780062447685 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/31/2018)

Inventive and heart-racing, this fierce feminist teen fantasy from debut author Bree Barton explores a dark kingdom in which only women can possess magic—and every woman is suspected of having it.

Fans of Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor won’t want to miss this gorgeously written, bold novel, the first in the Heart of Thorns trilogy.

In the ancient river kingdom, where touch is a battlefield and bodies the instruments of war, Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. The same women who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia’s father announces an alliance with the royal family, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Determined to forge her own path forward, Mia plots a daring escape, but could never predict the greatest betrayal of all: her own body. Mia possesses the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

Now, as she untangles the secrets of her past, Mia must learn to trust her heart…even if it kills her.

 

 

 

girls resistGirls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution by Kaelyn Rich (ISBN-13: 9781683690597 Publisher: Quirk Publishing Publication date: 08/07/2018)
An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality.

Take on the world and make some serious change with this handbook to everything activism, social justice, and resistance. With in-depth guides to everything from picking a cause, planning a protest, and raising money to running dispute-free meetings, promoting awareness on social media, and being an effective ally, Girls Resist! will show you how to go from “mad as heck about the way the world is going” to “effective leader who gets stuff done.” Veteran feminist organizer KaeLyn Rich shares tons of expertise that’ll inspire you as much as it teaches you the ropes. Plus, quotes and tips from fellow teen girl activists show how they stood up for change in their communities. Grab this handbook to crush inequality, start a revolution, and resist!

 

pridePride by Ibi Zoboi (ISBN-13: 9780062564047 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/18/2018)

Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

 

 

what they dontWhat They Don’t Know by Nicole Maggi (ISBN-13: 9781492672654 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 10/02/2018)

Three secrets. One decision. A friendship that will change everything.

Find your own truth in this important, timely novel about reproductive rights.

Mellie has always been the reliable friend, the good student, the doting daughter. But when an unspeakable act leads her to withdraw from everyone she loves, she is faced with a life-altering choice—a choice she must face alone.

Lise stands up—and speaks out—for what she believes in. And when she notices Mellie acting strangely, she gets caught up in trying to save her…all while trying to protect her own secret. One that might be the key to helping Mellie.

Told through their journal entries, this powerful, emotional novel chronicles Mellie’s struggle to decide what is right for her and the unbreakable bond formed by the girls on their journey.

 

 

chaosThe Chaos of Now by Erin Jade Lange (ISBN-13: 9781619635029 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 10/02/2018)

From the author of Butter comes an emotional coming-of-age novel about teen coder who gets roped into a dangerous hack, perfect for fans of John Corey Whaley and Adam Silvera.

Eli is coasting through high school, spending most of his time writing code. Each day is as boring as the next—until he receives a cryptic message in binary code, leading him to Seth and Mouse. They’re seeking a third member for a prestigious hacking competition, after their teammate and friend Jordan committed suicide last year. Intrigued by the challenge, Eli agrees.

But soon it becomes clear that Seth and Mouse are after more than winning a competition—they’re seeking revenge for the abuse that caused Jordan’s suicide. Eli is in way over his head, but he’s also hiding a dangerous secret that could lead to even more trouble if he isn’t careful. In a story about the shift of power from those who rule at school to those who rule online, the difference between bully and victim is blurred and Eli—whose coding skilled have taught him to make order out of chaos—will find the real world is much harder to control.

 

 

grim loveliesGrim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd (ISBN-13: 9781328809186 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 10/02/2018)

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.

 

 

teen trailblazersTeen Trailblazers: 30 Fearless Girls Who Changed the World Before They Were 20 by Jennifer Calvert, Vesna Asanovic (ISBN-13: 9781250200204 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 10/02/2018)

True stories of young women who made a big difference! From authors to activists, painters to politicians, inventors to icons, these inspiring teenagers are proof that girls can change the world.

Joan of Arc. Anne Frank. Cleopatra. Pocahontas. Mary Shelley. Many of these heroines are well-known. But have you heard of Sybil Ludington, a 16-year-old daughter of an American colonel who rode twice as far as the far better-remembered Paul Revere to warn the militia that the British army was invading?

This fascinating book features 30 young women who accomplished remarkable things before their twentieth birthdays. Visually compelling with original illustrations, this book will inspire the next generation of strong, fearless women.

 

 

what if its usWhat If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera (ISBN-13: 9780062795250 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/09/2018)

Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?

 

 

epicThis Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender (ISBN-13: 9780062820228 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/30/2018)

A fresh, charming rom-com perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Boy Meets Boy about Nathan Bird, who has sworn off happy endings but is sorely tested when his former best friend, Ollie, moves back to town.

Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.

Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.

After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?

 

 

wren huntThe Wren Hunt by Mary Watson (ISBN-13: 9781681198590 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 11/06/2018)

Thrilling, atmospheric, and filled with ancient magic, this lyrically written YA debut is perfect for readers of The Raven Cycle and Wink Poppy Midnight.

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated Irish village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she or her grandfather can do to stop it. Once Wren’s people, the Augurs, controlled an ancient, powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying the Augurs for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment as an intern amidst those who want her dead. But as the web of lies, deceit, and betrayal thickens around her, she finds herself hurtling towards a truth that threatens to consume her and reveal who she really is. Not only has she come to the attention of powerful Judge Cassa Harkness, but she is also falling dangerously in love with the one person she shouldn’t. . .

This captivating fantasy from an award-winning author is equal parts thrilling and romantic, perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater.

 

 

this is whatThis Is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow (ISBN-13: 9780062494238 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/06/2018)

This tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks: what will you fight for, if not yourself? You Don’t Know Me But I Know You author Rebecca Barrow’s next book is perfect for fans of Katie Cotugno and Emery Lord.

Who cares that the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is fifteen grand? Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And because ever since Hanna left—well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now—and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship.

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge—to ignore the past, in order to jump start the future—will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

 

 

resolutionsThe Resolutions by Mia Garcia (ISBN-13: 9780062656827 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/13/2018)

A heart-expanding novel about four Latinx teens who make New Year’s resolutions for one another—and the whirlwind of a year that follows. Fans of Erika L. Sánchez and Emery Lord will fall for this story of friendship, identity, and the struggle of finding yourself when all you want is to start over.

From hiking trips to four-person birthday parties to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable. But now with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.

Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them to one another—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, find your calling outside your mom’s Puerto Rican restaurant, finally learn Spanish, and say yes to everything.

But as the year unfolds, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heartbreaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.

 

 

 

our year of maybeOur Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon (ISBN-13: 9781481497763 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 01/15/2019)

From the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone comes a stunning contemporary novel that examines the complicated aftermath of a kidney transplant between best friends.

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie, too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

 

 

pay attentionPay Attention, Carter Jones Hardcover by Gary D. Schmidt (ISBN-13: 978-0544790858 Publisher: Clarion Books Publication date: 02/05/2019)

Bestselling author Gary D. Schmidt tells a coming-of-age story with the light touch of The Wednesday Wars, the heart of Okay for Now, and the unique presence of a wise and witty butler.

Carter Jones is astonished early one morning when he finds a real English butler, bowler hat and all, on the doorstep—one who stays to help the Jones family, which is a little bit broken.

In addition to figuring out middle school, Carter has to adjust to the unwelcome presence of this new know-it-all adult in his life and navigate the butler’s notions of decorum. And ultimately, when his burden of grief and anger from the past can no longer be ignored, Carter learns that a burden becomes lighter when it is shared.

Sparkling with humor, this insightful and compassionate story will resonate with readers who have confronted secrets of their own.

 

 

past and other thingsThe Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson (ISBN-13: 9781481498579 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 02/19/2019)

Six Feet Under meets Pushing Daisies in this quirky, heartfelt story about two teens who are granted extra time to resolve what was left unfinished after one of them suddenly dies. 

A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up.

Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead.

As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.

Critically acclaimed author Shaun Hutchinson delivers another wholly unique novel blending the real and surreal while reminding all of us what it is to love someone through and around our faults.

 

On World Refugee Day 2018, #ReadForChange with Alan Gratz’ Refugee

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 Alan Gratz join us for a conversation about immigrants, refugees, taking action, and his middle grade novel, Refugee.

 

 

“No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

Warsan Shire, “Home”

 

Three Children, Three Boats, Three Courageous Journeys to Find a New Home

 

refugeeToday, June 20, 2018, is World Refugee Day. I can think of no more timely, more meaningful, or more compelling book to recommend on this day than Alan Gratz’ Middle-Grade novel, Refugee.

 

The first time I met Alan, he gave me his card. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the tagline under his name: “Putting fictional kids in danger since 2006.” Alan certainly lives up to this promise in Refugee. The novel deftly weaves together the harrowing stories of three young teens who set off with their families in search of safety: Josef, fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel, escaping a crumbling Cuba in 1994, and Mahmoud, leaving war-torn Aleppo in 2015. Readers travel with brave young teenagers across oceans and seas, through ship wrecks, shark attacks, robberies and extortion. We also experience, with the story’s protagonists, moments of extraordinary beauty, as people reach out to help one-another through times of unthinkable distress.

 

As someone who works with immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers in the United States, I think perhaps the most compelling aspect of this story’s construction is how well it de-centers the contemporary narrative, depicting a global flow of real human beings who seek safety across space and through time. Joseph’s family journeys from Germany to Cuba, Isabel’s from Cuba to the United States, and Mahmoud’s from Syria to Germany. Their stories remind us that people from all regions of the world, of all ethnicities, religions, and social classes, find themselves in the impossible situation of having no alternative but to leave behind everything they know and seek safety among strangers.

 

In other words: these refugees could be you or me.

 

World-Refugee-Day-1 (1)Refugee is carefully-researched, historically accurate, and nothing short of brilliant, for many more reasons than I can explain here (you’ll just have to read it for yourselves!). Alan Gratz manages to weave together these three families’ stories in ways that unflinchingly portray the evil effects of de-humanizing entire communities, while also reminding us of the enormous capacity we humans have to endure suffering, to act out of love, and to do what is right and good. Be forewarned: If you are human (and I’m assuming you are), you will shed tears. Some will be tears of joy.

 

One of the themes that Refugee explores invisibility and visibility. Mahmoud, in particular, reflects often on his journey: “Mahmoud’s first instinct was to disappear below decks, to be invisible. Being invisible in Syria had kept him alive. But now Mahmoud began to wonder if being invisible in Europe might be the death of him and his family. If no one saw them, no one could help them. And maybe the world needed to see what was happening here.”

 

In honor of Mahmoud, Isabel, Josef and all the real people on whom their story is based, let us all open our eyes and see! And then let us take courageous action to build refuge together, in these tempestuous times.

 

“Changing the Hearts and Minds of my Readers”: A Conversation with Alan Gratz

 

Photo by Wes Stitt

Photo by Wes Stitt

MARIE: 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.

 

ALAN: The story of Refugee began with the MS St. Louis, a real ship that set sail from Nazi Germany in early 1939 with nine hundred and thirty-seven passengers on board, almost all of them Jewish refugees bound for Cuba.

I was still looking for a way into the story of the MS St. Louis for young readers when my wife and daughter and I took a family vacation to the Florida Keys in early 2015. One morning we got up to walk along the small patch of beach in front of our resort, and we ran right into a homemade boat someone had used to come to America. There was room on the wooden benches for thirteen people, and abandoned clothing and plastic water bottles still littered the floor. The back end had an old rusty engine that had been yanked out of a car or a tractor and was attached to a propeller shaft. There were plastic paint buckets to bail it out along the way, and the whole bottom of the boat and all the seams were covered with Great Stuff—that foam insulation that comes from a spray can. That and the painted plywood walls were all that kept the seawater out.

One day the boat wasn’t there, and the next day it was. Whoever had been aboard had arrived in the night while we were sleeping, just a few hundred yards away from our room. The day before, while my daughter had been swimming in the pool and my wife and I had been reading books in hammocks in the shade, whoever had been on board this boat had been steering north, avoiding oil tankers and sharks and the American Coast Guard in a desperate, dangerous attempt to find refuge in America.

That boat was a wake-up call for me. I knew that immigrants and refugees were trying to reach America every day, by land, air, and sea, through channels official and unofficial, but because I didn’t live at the front lines of that struggle I didn’t see it every day. And out of sight was definitely out of mind. I wanted to do something about that. That’s when I knew this was a book I had to write. I wanted to write a book about the MS St. Louis, but I wanted to write a book about Cuban refugees too.

And then, every day, doing their part to make sure none of us forgot, newspapers and news channels and the Internet were showing us devastating image after devastating image of the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian Civil War. The Syrian Civil War began in 2011, and is still going on. More than two million Syrians have been killed or injured, and seven plus years of war have left around eleven million Syrians—half their entire population—homeless. I wanted to write a book about the MS St. Louis, and I wanted to write a book about Cuban refugees, and now I wanted to write a book about the Syrian refugee crisis too.

And then I realized, I could write a book about all three. I would tell the story of Josef, a Jewish boy trying to escape Nazi Germany for Cuba with his family on board the MS St. Louis in 1939, of Isabel, a Cuban girl trying to escape communist Cuba with her family for America on board a raft in 1994, and of Mahmoud, a Syrian boy trying to escape the Syrian Civil War for Germany with his family in the present day.

My sincere hope for young readers who pick up Refugee is that it, like that homemade raft I stumbled across in Florida, makes the invisible visible again.

 

 

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

 

ALAN: My family and I sat down recently to talk about all the causes we wanted to support, and how much we could afford to give, and now we make regular contributions to a variety of social, environmental, and political groups. Beyond that, I figured that what I do best is write, so I would use my talents to help bring awareness to the issues and causes I support. And that’s been paying off. Kids across the country (and around the world!) are reading Refugee and advocating and working for change. Kids are working with their local refugee aid groups in their communities, they are raising money for UNICEF, they are calling their congresspeople and championing refugees. The book hasn’t even been out for a year yet, and the response from young readers has been amazing. I hope, in some small way, that I’m helping make the world one I want to live in by changing the hearts and minds of my readers!

 

 

MARIE: For readers who are moved to take action themselves, what’s your advice?

 

ALAN: Start local. Almost every community has a local refugee aid or resettlement organization, and they can use things larger world-wide organizations like UNICEF can’t–they need things kids can help collect, like socks, coats, blankets, and canned food. If they want to look more globally, organizations like UNICEF and Save the Children work on behalf of young refugees around the world, providing necessities and education. But the simplest thing kids can do is to become a friend to refugees. If there are any refugees at their schools, or in their churches or neighborhoods, just saying hello and getting to know them and being a friend is a tremendous thing to someone who has been displaced against their will and is starting all over again.

 

MARIE: Thanks so much, Alan. This theme of working in our local communities is one that I’ve heard from so many of our featured authors, from Jodi Lynn Anderson, talking about combating climate change, to Lilliam Rivera on gentrification. I love this idea of getting to know our neighbors and working with them to build a better world – from the ground up!

 

 

“Out of sight… out of mind. I wanted to do something about that.”

 

Ready to learn more? First, be sure to read Alan’s very informative Author’s Note, at the end of Refugee. Then, dive into one of these four non-fiction books – all excellent, and all appropriate for young readers:

 

519PzgQWh-L._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale is an illustrated book presenting five true stories of young people who survived the harrowing experience of setting off in boats in search of asylum.

 

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana and Abigail Pesta is the memoir of a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who survived a massacre, immigrated to the United States, and struggled to overcome her trauma through art and activism.

 

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ismael Beah offers a first-hand account of a young man’s recruitment as a child soldier, release, and eventual rehabilitation at a UNICEF center.

 

Outcasts United: An American Town, A Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference

By Warren St. John is an excellent and engaging story of a refugee youth soccer team in a small southern town turned upside down by the process of refugee resettlement. (Note that there is a young adult version of the book).

 

And now, two documentaries:

 

Human Flow was shot over the course of one year in 23 countries. It shares stories of the more than 65 million people who have been forced from their homes since World War II

 

Fire at Sea explores life in Lampedusa, Italy, an island has become a landing spot for boats filled with refugees fleeing Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

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“The simplest thing: Become a friend to refugees.”

Ready to take action? Let’s follow Alan’s advice and start local!

 

There are many agencies that work officially to resettle refugees nationwide. Contacting one of the agencies working in your community is a good place to start. To find out who’s working in your area, check out this UNHCR website and then click on the link toward the bottom:

 

While these local resettlement agencies always can use supplies and material support, the best way to get involved is to build relationships and friendships.  Many local communities have innovative non-profits and community groups that foster this work.  Make sure to ask your local refugee resettlement agencies about these sorts of groups and opportunities in your area. Here are some examples in my community of metro-Atlanta:

 

Friends of Refugees

 

Global Village Project

 

Clarkston Community Center

 

Of course, if we start to open our eyes, as Alan Gratz is urging us to do, we will realize that refugees are our neighbors and our classmates. Refugees worship with us, shop in the same stores as us, and play sports on the same fields. The best thing we can do is make new friends. It’s that easy!

 

“A desperate, dangerous attempt to find refuge in America” A Call to Action NOW.

 

One final note, because this weighs so heavy on my heart…

 

Even though this book is entitled Refugee, all of the stories Alan tells are, technically, those of asylum seekers. (If you’d like to better understand the difference, listen to this recent NPR interview with a U.S. Asylum Officer). Asylum seekers with similar stories to those we read about in Refugee are in the news headlines these days for reasons that are simply unthinkable. Last month, the United States Department of Homeland Security instituted a new practice that routinely separates child asylum seekers from their parents and holds them in child detention centers. One, recently opened in El Paso, is quite literally a tent city.

 

Families_3_twitterWhile I don’t generally climb up on a soapbox in these newsletters, I’m gonna do it now. I believe there is a moral imperative for every single one of us to resist this action by the U.S. government.  It simply contradicts basic human decency, and it’s heartbreaking.

 

If you want to learn more about this and take action, follow #KeepFamiliesTogether and #FamiliesBelongTogether. You also can check out the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to stay informed about proposed legislation and actions in your community, and go to Families Belong Together (a movement sponsored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance) to sign a petition and find other actions.

 

Thank you.

 

#ReadForChange with Refugee!

 

If you can’t wait to get your hands on REFUGEE, here’s your chance!  Follow this link to the giveaway, which runs until the end of June. We’ll be announcing the winner on Twitter @MarieFMarquardt and Instagram marie_marquardt July 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. 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.

Book Review: Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye

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, a starred review, which originally appeared in the June 2018  School Library Journal.

 

super late★Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye (ISBN-13: 9781449489625 Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing Publication date: 05/01/2018)
Gr 8 Up—Cartoonist Kaye, who is transgender, reveals the many ups and downs of starting hormone replacement in this collection of strips from her webcomic Up and Out. In a “Before” section, she writes about her life before fully understanding her identity and transitioning, which helps ground the short, disconnected comics. The strips begin four months into Kaye’s decision to take hormones, and express her joy and excitement along with her impatience, frustration, dysphoria, and internalized transphobia. She describes moving home, changing her name, and coming out and explores self-image, reactions from others, misgendering, and more. Kaye shares many affirming experiences such as her parents using the right pronouns, her forays into trying out different clothes and makeup, and her reminders that she is valid no matter how she looks or is perceived, but never shies away from moments of frustration or self-loathing. The strips are like reading a diary—raw, honest, emotional, and not always uplifting. While Kaye’s feelings are complicated, she is ultimately hopeful. The simple line drawings add warmth and whimsy to the small snippets of text. Though Kaye focuses on her experiences as an adult, teens will relate to her reflections on identity and acceptance. VERDICT An important and accessible work, especially given that relatively few books tackle the process of transitioning.

Celebrating Seven Years of TLT: A look back at favorite posts

tlttabgraphicThe older I get, the more I think the passage of time is the fastest, most puzzling thing ever. Where do the days go? Where do the years go? Multiple times a week, my husband will exclaim, “How is it 8:00 already?” and I will almost always follow that up with, “How are we in our FORTIES already?” So when Karen said we were coming up on the 7 year anniversary of Teen Librarian Toolbox, I thought, but didn’t I just write a post for the 6 year anniversary? I did… if you consider one year ago to be “just.” Given that in my brain the 9os were, at most, ten years ago, I may not be the best judge of the passage of time. Last year for this same anniversary post, I reflected a bit on why I love writing for TLT and what it means to me. This year, I’m going to share some of my favorite blog posts that I’ve written. I feel a little weird writing that sentence, but you know what, I am so grateful to have this platform to share books and ideas I’m passionate about. So, here we go!

 

 

svylaitprojectMy first blog post for TLT was in September 2014. It was called “Talking about sexual violence in young adult literature with a teen book club.”  I don’t think I need to expand upon that—you get what it’s about. Here’s a snippet from that post:

After the meeting, some of the members chose to send me further thoughts. One member shared with me that this was the first time she discussed sexual violence with a group. “I liked how comfortable I felt discussing what I had read with the group. In other situations, mentioning to someone that I had read a book about sexual violence usually ended with an odd look and an abrupt ending to any discussion I had hoped to spark.” She goes on to say that she valued the open discussion we had. “It’s what I wish I could have with a teacher, a friend, even a sibling without feeling weird for bringing it up.” She says she wishes we had had even more time to discuss our books and this topic because talking “about a topic that society seems to shy away from isn’t an opportunity I get often.”

 

SUPERNEWEST PURPLEI have loved working on larger projects we have done like the Mental Health in YA Lit project and the Sexual Violence in YA Lit project. It’s so great to see what comes from people who guest post for us and how we can expand conversations on these important topics. I particularly loved coordinating the posts in the Sexual Violence in LGBTQIA+ Young Adult Literature series. Those explored some ground I don’t think we’ve seen covered a whole lot yet. Those posts ran the first two weeks of August 2015.

 

 

MHYALitlogoofficfialThe Mental Health in YA Lit project has been especially important to me. I’ve loved seeing so many more books coming out that accurately and compassionately portray mental health. The work on the project and my continued focus on this subject has lead me to presenting on this topic at NerdCon, Teen Lit Con, and for the International Bipolar Foundation. It also lead to many great real-life discussions about books that address mental health, like this one with my former teen book club.  Here’s a bit from that post:

I asked if having more fictional characters facing mental health struggles helped actual teens. They all agreed that it normalizes these experiences and gives teens a peek at someone they might be able to relate to. They said that by seeing characters struggle in stories, they can see into other experiences, especially if they themselves don’t have this particular issue. They said that it helps them know how people suffer and it shows how they might be able to help or react. They said they often worry they’ll say the wrong thing to someone who is struggling and like to see examples of how to be supportive. “I like it when books teach me how to treat people,” one girl said. (Have I mentioned I heart my teens?)

 

 

GLSEN-NSCS-2015-Cover_0I also am grateful to have this platform to share the National School Climate Survey results about LGBTQ students’ experiences in school. The report is long, but I condense much of it to just the highlights to help remind educators what the school climate looks like for so many kids.

 

One of my main focuses over the years at TLT has been to write about as many LGBTQIA+ YA books as possible to help get these books the exposure they need and to aid in collection development. This tag will take you to those books and posts. 

 

 

 

I’ve had a blast writing book reviews, coordinating guest posts, taking part in blog tours, doing cover reveals, hosting giveaways, getting endless book mail, and meeting tons of people through connections with this blog. Here’s to many more years of TLT goodness!

Book Review: Tsu and the Outliers by Erik Johnson

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 June 2018  School Library Journal.

 

tsuTsu and the Outliers by Erik Johnson (ISBN-13: 9781941250242 Publisher: Uncivilized Books Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Gr 7–10—Tsu, a nonverbal boy, is mocked by his peers and those around town for riding “the short bus”; they call him “dumb,” “idiot,” “freak,” and “unusual.” The local police in his rural town and a mysterious, apelike scientist want information from Tsu about the accident that his school bus was involved in and the creature that was seen shortly after. Tsu does not offer them any answers or tips but does haltingly speak to his mother to tell her he has to go away for a while. Densely drawn scenes, particularly outside, where most of the book takes place, are cluttered and sometimes hard to parse. The mostly black-and-white palette is punctuated by spots of a third color, which varies from section to section and helps images stand out; however, the overall effect is still a visual jumble. Readers are thrust right into the action, with little to no backstory about Tsu, the creature, or the scientist, and the thin plot feels like it is just starting to ramp up when it abruptly ends. Though Tsu isn’t explicitly described as autistic, the author heavily implies that he is, and the decision to imbue a character who has a disability with mystical powers is a tired cliché. VERDICT An additional purchase.

What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA June 2018

tltbutton7It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers June 2018 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (May 2018) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list and am working on one for 2018. I’m happy to send you the list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

Looking for more information on LGBTQIA+ books or issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

 

June 2018

social intercourseSocial Intercourse by Greg Howard (ISBN-13: 9781481497817 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Beckett Gaines, a gay teen living in South Carolina, has his world turned upside-down by a jock in this laugh-out-loud novel that’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets The Parent Trap.

Beck:
The Golden Girls-loving, out-and-proud choir nerd growing up in the “ass-crack of the Bible belt.”

Jax:
The Golden Boy, star quarterback with a slick veneer facing uncomfortable truths about himself and his past.

When Beck’s emotionally fragile dad starts dating the recently single (and supposedly lesbian) mom of former bully, Jaxon Parker, Beck is not having it. Jax isn’t happy about the situation either, holding out hope that his moms will reunite and restore the only stable home he’s ever known. Putting aside past differences, the boys plot to derail the budding romance between their parents at their conservative hometown’s first-ever Rainbow Prom. Hearts will be broken, new romance will bloom, but nothing will go down the way Beck and Jax have planned.

In his hilarious and provocative debut, Greg Howard examines the challenges of growing up different in a small southern town through the lens of colorful and unforgettable characters who stay with you long after the last drop of sweet tea.

 

summer of usThe Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse (ISBN-13: 9780316391139 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

A swoon-worthy story about five best friends on a whirlwind trip through Europe, perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Jennifer E. Smith.

American expat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?

Author Cecilia Vinesse delivers a romantic European adventure that embraces the magic of warm summer nights, the thrill of first kisses, and the bittersweet ache of learning to say goodbye to the past while embracing the future.

 

 

mariamMariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim (ISBN-13: 9780062445735 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Three Pakistani-American teenagers, on a trip through the land of pork ribs, mechanical bulls, and Confederate flags. It’s going to be quite an adventure.

The summer after her freshman year of college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala, and religious but closeted Umar.

But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what could be a better escape than a spontaneous road trip down to New Orleans?

With the heartbreaking honesty of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ mixed with with the cultural growing pains and smart snark of When Dimple Met Rishi, this wry, remarkable road-trip story is about questioning where you come from—and choosing the family that chooses you back.

 

summer of saltSummer of Salt by Katrina Leno (ISBN-13: 9780062493620 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Magic passed down through generations. An island where strange things happen. One summer that will become legend.

Practical Magic meets Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap in this lush, atmospheric novel by acclaimed author Katrina Leno.

Georgina Fernweh waits impatiently for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has touched every woman in her family. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.

Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, falling in love, and the mystery behind one rare three-hundred-year-old bird—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

 

last summerThe Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood (ISBN-13: 9781492622192 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 06/05/2018)

One summer will challenge everything the Garrett sisters thought they knew about themselves—and each other in this captivating new novel by Jessica Spotswood.

As the oldest, Des shoulders a lot of responsibility for her family and their independent bookstore. Except it’s hard to dream big when she’s so busy taking care of everyone else.

Vi has a crush on the girl next door. It makes her happy and nervous, but Cece has a boyfriend…so it’s not like her feelings could ever be reciprocated, right?

Kat lands the lead in the community theater’s summer play, but the drama spills offstage when her ex and his new girlfriend are cast too. Can she get revenge by staging a new romance of her own?

Bea and her boyfriend are heading off to college together in the fall, just like they planned when they started dating. But Bea isn’t sure she wants the same things as when she was thirteen…

Told through four alternating points of view, readers will laugh, cry, and fall in love alongside the Garrett girls.

 

 

cardboardThe Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell (ISBN-13: 9781524719388 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Awkward, and All’s Faire in Middle School, this graphic novel follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical homemade costumes as they explore conflicts with friends, family, and their own identity.

“A breath of fresh air, this tender and dynamic collection is a must-have.” —Kirkus, Starred

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters—and their own inner demons—on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be—imagine that!

The Cardboard Kingdom was created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez. The Cardboard Kingdom affirms the power of imagination and play during the most important years of adolescent identity-searching and emotional growth.

 

 

brujaBruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas Series #2) by Zoraida Cordova (ISBN-13: 9781492650652 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 06/05/2018)

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…

 

 

dear rachelDear Rachel Maddow: A Novel by Adrienne Kisner (ISBN-13: 9781250146021 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/05/2018)

In Adrienne Kisner’s Dear Rachel Maddow, a high school girl deals with school politics and life after her brother’s death by drafting emails to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in this funny and heartfelt YA debut.

Brynn Haper’s life has one steadying force–Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project–and actually getting a response–Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick’s death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn’s archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

 

 

running with lionsRunning with Lions by Julian Winters (ISBN-13: 9781945053627 Publisher: Novelstream dba Interlude Press Publication date: 06/07/2018)

Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie Sebastian Hughes should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing, and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood-best-friend Emir Shah shows up at summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends spark more than just friendship between them.

 

 

 

sometime afterSometime After Midnight by L. Philips (ISBN-13: 9780425291634 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Late one night in a dingy Los Angeles club, Nate and Cameron meet and discover they have much more in common than their love of an obscure indie band. But when Nate learns that Cameron is the heir to a soul-sucking record label—the very one that destroyed his father’s life—he runs away as fast as he can. The only evidence of their brief but intense connection is the blurry photo Cameron snaps of Nate’s Sharpied Chuck Taylors.

When Cameron’s sister Tess—a famous model and socialite—posts the photo on Instagram for her legions of fans, the internet just about breaks with the news of this modern fairy tale. “Anyone know the owner of these shoes?” she writes. “My Prince Charming brother is looking for his Cinderfella!” But while the viral sensation begins to bring the pair back together, their own demons and pasts might get in the way of any happily ever afters . . .

 

 

supermoonSuperMoon by H. A. Swain (ISBN-13: 9781250116277 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/12/2018)

A futuristic thriller about the colonization of and culture clashes between the Moon and Earth from H.A. Swain, the author of Hungry and Gifted.

Sol is the month between June and July on the thirteen-month Moon calendar. It’s the only time teenagers have to themselves between rigorous scientific training and their ultimate lab assignments in their colony on the Moon. Their families emigrated from Earth to build better lives; but life on the Moon is far from perfect, as Uma learns on the eve of Sol.

Uma meets an Earthen girl who becomes a fast friend, and much more. What Uma doesn’t know is that the girl is assigned to infect Uma with a plague that a rogue faction of Earthen scientists hope will wipe out Moon soldiers. Will Uma be the cause of a pandemic? Whom can she trust, and moreover, whom does she love?

 

 

final draftFinal Draft by Riley Redgate (ISBN-13: 9781419728723 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Laila Piedra doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and definitely doesn’t sneak into the 21-and-over clubs on the Lower East Side. The only sort of risk Laila enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before graduation, Laila’s number one fan is replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who sees nothing at all special about Laila’s writing.

A growing obsession with gaining Nazarenko’s approval—and fixing her first-ever failing grade—leads to a series of unexpected adventures. Soon Laila is discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, and the beauty of temporary flings and ambiguity. But with her sanity and happiness on the line, Laila must figure out if enduring the unendurable really is the only way to greatness.

 

a love songA Love Song for Mr. Dakota by Gene Gant (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-431-9 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press Publication date: 06/12/2018)

Reeling from his parents’ divorce, trying to care for his alcoholic mother, and ridiculed at school for being biracial, Brodie cannot afford to lose the only two people he has in his corner: his girlfriend, Fawn, and his best friend, Abel. But a family emergency takes Abel to another city, Fawn decides she needs time to herself, and Brodie is alone.

In his attractive new English teacher, Mr. Dakota, Brodie finds an unexpected ally. The young teacher is no stranger to betrayal and loneliness, and what begins as friendship soon becomes something deeper and more dangerous. Brodie’s new desires scare and confuse him, even if they’re not reciprocated. Overcome, he makes a choice that may ruin more lives than his own… if he cannot find the courage to stand on his own when doing so is the most difficult.

 

 

art ofThe Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan (ISBN-13: 9781944995652 Publisher: Amberjack Publishing Publication date: 06/19/2018)

Seventeen-year-old Mattie has a hidden obsession: escapology. Emphasis on hidden. If anyone from school finds out, she’ll be abandoned to her haters. Facing a long and lonely summer, Mattie finally seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist. Following in Houdini’s footsteps, Miyu helps Mattie secretly transform herself into an escapologist and performance artist.

When Will, a popular athlete from school, discovers Mattie’s act at an underground venue, Mattie fears her secret persona will be exposed. Instead of outing her, though, Will tells Mattie a secret not even his girlfriend knows. Through a blossoming friendship, the two must find a way to express their authentic selves.

Told through the perspectives of the witty main characters, this funny and fresh debut explores the power of stage personas and secret spaces, and speaks to the uncanny ways in which friendships transform us.

 

 

unbindingThe Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara (ISBN-13: 9781510727052 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 06/19/2018)

A clever, romantic novel based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny.

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Breathlessly romantic and brilliantly subversive, The Unbinding of Mary Reade is sure to sweep readers off their feet and make their hearts soar.

 

my crunchy lifeMy Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick (ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-392-3 Publisher: Harmony Ink Press Publication date: 06/26/2018)

John Lennon fought for world peace, but sixteen-year-old hippie hopeful Kale Oswald’s only made it as far as tie-dying his T-shirts with organic grape juice. Now he’s ready to cement his new hippie identity by joining a local human rights organization, but he doesn’t fit in as well as he’d hoped.

After landing himself in the hospital by washing down a Ziploc bag of pills with a bottle of Gatorade, Julian Mendez came clean to his mother: he is a girl stuck in a boy’s body. Puberty blockers have stopped the maturing of the body he feels has betrayed him. They’re also supposed to give him time to be sure he wants to make a more permanent decision, but he’s already Julia in his heart. What he’s not sure he’s ready to face is the post-transition name-calling and bathroom wars awaiting him at school.

When Kale and Julian come face-to-face at the human rights organization, attraction, teenage awkwardness, and reluctant empathy collide. They are forced to examine who they are and who they want to become. But until Kale can come to terms with his confusion about his own sexuality and Julian can be honest with Kale, they cannot move forward in friendship, or anything more.

 

 

drum rollDrum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (ISBN-13: 9780062791146 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/26/2018)

Find the confidence to rock out to your own beat in this big-hearted middle grade novel. Not to be missed by fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Drama and Tim Federle’s Better Nate Than Ever!

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Now she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.

But this summer brings a lot of big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. To top it all off, Melly’s not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?

Book Review: I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain by Will Walton

Publisher’s description

funeralHow do you deal with a hole in your life?

Do you turn to poets and pop songs?

Do you dream?

Do you try on love just to see how it fits?

Do you grieve?

If you’re Avery, you do all of these things. And you write it all down in an attempt to understand what’s happened–and is happening–to you.

I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain is an astonishing novel about navigating death and navigating life, at a time when the only map you have is the one you can draw for yourself.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

Things in Avery’s life are not going great. He’s laid up after being injured in a car accident. His mother has (finally) gone to rehab. He’s temporarily living across the street from his home with his grandpa, whom he calls Pal, and his grandpa’s girlfriend, Babs. Things are a little weird with Luca, his neighbor and best friend—they’d made a plan to be each other’s firsts, but this seemingly simple plan is complicated by life and complex feelings. Through all of this, Avery, who writes poetry, is discovering the work of many other poets (Plath, Berryman, Sexton, O’Hara, Ginsberg, Dickinson), thanks to his English teacher, and finding his own voice and ways of processing life.

 

Walton’s novel will challenge readers. It’s a mix of narrative, poems, imagined conversations/dreams, and bits of a eulogy. As we move back and forth in time, readers will see that Avery is speaking at Pal’s funeral, but it takes a while to find out how we got there. Avery’s grief, pain, loss, fears, love, hope, passions, and identity all get expressed and explored through poetry and music. This short book packs a powerful punch as it looks at grief, love, addiction, and hope. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780545709569
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 05/29/2018

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

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