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Friday Finds: February 15, 2019

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

New books alert: Writing advice, Latinx teens on a road trip, Muslims in love, and so much more

Fight the Power: Music as a Social Force, a guest post by Lisa Krok

Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Fortnite Party, by Cindy Shutts

Feminist AF: The Amelia Bloomer Project, by Ally Watkins

Post-It Note Reviews: Books for younger readers featuring a biracial protagonist, homeless kids in India, babysitters, and more

Book Review: Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan

My MARVELous Vocabulary: a guest post by author Jerry Craft

Sunday Reflections: Are Teens Reading Less?

Around the Web

Federal Watchdog Issues Scathing Report On Ed Department’s Handling Of Student Loans

‘We Live With It Every Day': Parkland Community Marks One Year Since Massacre

J.J. Abrams & ‘The Other Two’s Chris Kelly Developing Half-Hour ‘They Both Die At The End’ At HBO

31 YA Books By Black Authors That You Can’t Miss This Year

My MARVELous Vocabulary: a guest post by author Jerry Craft

NewKid HC cAs far back as I can remember, I have always loved comic books. Way before I had ever heard the term “graphic novel,” or aspired to create one, I remember running to my local candy store almost every week to buy the latest issues. But even though I bought them, I didn’t always read them. I had never heard the term “reluctant reader,” back then, but that’s exactly what I was. Occasionally, I would read my comics cover to cover, but those were mainly the issues that had more action scenes and fewer pages with our heroes as their secret identities. Those pages I would quickly scan in order to get the gist.

In junior high school, comics were looked at as some type of contraband that teachers would confiscate “to keep them from rotting our brains.” In fact, by the time the school year came to an end, some of those teachers would have larger comic collections in their bottom desk drawer than most of us had at home. So that was what I expected. Until Mr. Krupka, the first teacher I ever had who not only liked comics, but he actually encouraged us to read them. We quickly realized that if Mr. Krupka took one of our comics, it was only because he wanted to read it first! And much to our surprise, he even returned them!

With the exception of Mr. K., few of my teachers ever saw how comics helped to build my vocabulary. Especially Marvel Comics, because I couldn’t even read the cover without having to go and consult my family’s 400-pound Miriam Webster Dictionary (a book that looked more like I would use it to recite some type of ancient incantation than look up a word). But I had to because every title I bought had some type of fancy adjective before the name of the hero.

The Uncanny X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, The Invincible Iron Man, Astonishing Tales, The Macabre Man-Thing, and of course, Spider-Man who was both “amazing” AND “spectacular!” And if that wasn’t enough, I also had to go back to the dictionary to see what my favorite hero was trying to prevent! An apocalypse? . . .  Total annihilation? . . .  I went back to that gigantic dictionary so many times that not only did I build my vocabulary, I also built up my arm strength! (Have I mentioned how heavy it was?) So the better my reading skills and vocabulary, the less intimidated I was about reading other types of books. Even though I STILL didn’t really enjoy reading. It was not as if I COULDN’T read other books—I just didn’t WANT to. There’s a huge difference between the two.

Reading comics also encouraged me to write and draw my own comic books, which I absolutely loved (and obviously still do.) By the time I got to high school (in Riverdale), I was confident enough in my skills that I tried to talk my earth science teacher into allowing me to make a comic book instead of writing a term paper. And she let me! My comic was all about the life of a plant and how winter came in the form of an onslaught of spaceships armed with freeze rays! I still remember how our heroes transported supplies by using the xylem and phloem systems! Let me type that again . . . because I used that in my comic, I STILL remember xylem and phloem! And that’s without having to look it up!

By the time I was a college student at the School of Visual Arts (SVA), my comics were even better. And I also began to realize that between comic books, which I still loved, and TV cartoons like Schoolhouse Rock, did not rot my brain at all. If anything, they nourished it. But it still amazed me how many teachers did not understand. (Luckily, many of the teachers at SVA were cartoonists, so of course, they got it.) 

When I got out of college, it was very hard for me NOT to use my platform to help teach. So I created a comic strip called Mama’s Boyz — the story of a mom raising her two teenage sons while also running the family bookstore. Needless to say, Mom spent a lot of time trying to get her sons to read. In addition to literacy, over the years, I also used my comic strip to teach my readers about healthy eating, diabetes, teenage pregnancy, and organ and tissue donation. And the NY Daily News even commissioned me to develop a series of comic strips for their AIDs supplement. Miraculously, I pulled it off.

Fast forward  twenty years, during which time I published about two dozen books on my own because I NEVER thought that mainstream publishing would be interested in the types of stories that I wanted to tell. Stories with African-American protagonists where, even if they dealt with serious issues, still have to convey a sense of hope. And because I love to make people laugh, I wanted to add humor. There are sooo many important books by African-American authors who cover a myriad of topics, from historical to contemporary fiction, and my goal is to add my stories to complement their narratives so that kids can get a wide range of African-American life.

And that brings us to New Kid, my middle-grade graphic novel that follows the life of Jordan Banks, a 12-year-old boy from the Washington Heights section of New York City. More than anything, he wants to go to art school. But much like my parents, Jordan’s mom and dad don’t think that being an artist is a real job, which means they think he’ll probably live the rest of his life in their basement. So they send him to a prestigious and predominately white private school in Riverdale, a very affluent community. (Just like my parents did to me.) Each day, Jordan leaves his African-American and Latinx neighbors and tries to fit into a community that he has only seen on TV. But because he is also small for his age, and light-skinned with straight hair, he doesn’t always feel a part of the kids from his neighborhood, either. So, in essence, it’s a classic fish-out-of-water story. 

The teaching aspect comes from examining many of the nuances of trying to fit into the setting of Riverdale Academy Day School. The microaggressions, the code-switching, the “being confused with other Black kids” . . . (And English teachers will like that I teach kids about metaphors!)  But Jordan’s not perfect either. My goal is definitely not to blame, it’s to open eyes while also opening mouths that will look forward to having healthy conversations. I’d love for New Kid to be a book that African-American kids proudly claim as their own, while other kids see it as a book that always embraces them without ever being condescending. And it’s very important for me to make them laugh.

So with your help, we can start healthy discussions, and if the book does well, then maybe, I can finally move out of my parents’ basement.

Thank you!

CraftJerry ap 1 Credit Hollis KingJerry Craft is an author and illustrator whose most recent book is New Kid (HarperCollins, February 5, 2019). Craft has worked on numerous picture books, graphic novels, and middle grade novels, including The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrik Henry Bass. He is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning syndicated comic strip. He has won five African American Literary Awards and is a cofounder of the Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts and now lives in Connecticut. Visit him online at www.jerrycraft.com.

Friday Finds: February 8, 2019

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

What’s new in LGBTQIA+ YA February 2019

DIY Neon Signs

How Fairytales Help Us Navigate the World, a guest post by author Maureen McQuerry

The Life Saving Slogan: You are Not Alone, a guest post by Shelley Sackier

Book Review: LGBTQ: The Survival Guide for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel Madrone

More Than an Identity, by teen contributor Elliot

Sunday Reflections: Raising Daughters & the Fight for Full Bodily Autonomy

Around the Web

Ohio city to stop observing Columbus Day, make Election Day holiday instead

Anne Ursu returns to themes of fantasy and female empowerment in her new novel, The Lost Girl

First The Sun Is Also a Star Trailer

Denver Teacher Negotiations At An Impasse

 

How Fairytales Help Us Navigate the World, a guest post by author Maureen McQuerry

Between Before and After_Rd3When I was little, my mother read me fairytales. I remember Andrew Lang’s books, The Tall Book of Fairytales, and a peculiar story about a girl who jumped rope and could skip through a key hole and light as a feather on dandelion thistle. It took me years to track down Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep, again. My father told a different kind of story. Especially when he was drinking. He told stories of surviving alone on the streets of Brooklyn as a ten year old flu orphan, about stealing food from Wallabout Market and hoping for the kindness of strangers. These were the stories that haunted his life.

It took me years to see the connection between the two types of stories I grew up with, and it was a fairytale, specifically Hansel and Gretel, that helped make that link. As I wrote my YA historical novel Between Before and After, I realized that the theme of survival and eventual redemption in my novel was intimately tied to Hansel and Gretel, and in a risky move, I wove a retelling of the fairytale between the chapters.

In Fairytales, the woods are dark and dangerous places where anything might happen. There are many tales of children lost, abandoned, or sent into the woods at the request of a parent or evil stepmother.  Author and fairytale expert Terri Windling put it this way in her blog post Into the Woods,10: Wild Children: “The heroism of such children lies … in the ability to survive and transform their fate — and to outwit those who would do them harm without losing their lives, their souls, or their humanity in the process.” No one leaves the mythic woods unchanged. This is a truth I wanted to capture in my own novel.

Between Before and After is a mother daughter dual narrative set in 1919 Brooklyn, New York and 1955 San Jose, California.  In researching my novel I discovered that in late 1800’s New York, up to 30,000 abandoned or orphaned children filled overflowing orphanages or lived on the streets. This vast number of orphans was due in part to the overwhelming number of destitute immigrants living in crowded tenements. By 1900 there were 16 million Irish immigrants alone. During these years, childbirth was still the number one cause of female mortality, leaving impoverished fathers with young children.

Then the Spanish flu arrived with its scythe and black cloak.

Many children became half-orphans, abandoned by one parent after the other died. For these children, the streets of our cities were the woods of the grimmest fairytales, dark, full of predators and danger.

Against all odds many of these immigrant children survived their sojourn through the woods without losing their humanity. Many, of course, did not. Surviving childhood is not always easy nor is it guaranteed. And that’s what the fairytales have warned us about all along.

This is my family’s story, but it’s the story of thousands of children who have had to follow breadcrumbs on perilous journeys to find their way home.

What is it about fairy tales that compels us, that resonates with the themes in our own lives?

JRR Tolkein in his magnificent essay “On Fairy Stories” talks of the eucastic turn or happy ending.  The fairy story “denies universal defeat…giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy. Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.” While fairy tales acknowledge and warn us of the existence of evil, they never pretend that evil is good or that despair has the final word. Fairy tales persist because in their themes, they tell us truths about the world.

  • The world is not a safe place: Myth reminds us that world is not a predictable and safe place. Fairies leave changelings, labyrinths hide monsters, shapeshifters cast spells. The mythic world is never tame.
  • There is no easy way out of the maze: when Theseus finds his way to the heart of the maze, he still must battle the minotaur, birds eat breadcrumbs, dragons swoop in, and we must travel through the dangers.
  • We often fear the wrong things: We fear outside enemies, but it’s our own greed, jealousy and hubris that most often cause our downfall.
  • We are all more than meets the eye: The reluctant hero discovers strengths she never knew she possessed.
  • We can fight dragons and win: As G.K. Chesterton says, “Fairy stories are more than true, not because they tell us there are dragons, but because they tell us dragons can be defeated.”
  • All stories are about transformation: no one leaves the woods unchanged. Without change there is no story.

Children still struggle in the woods today. Some are still locked in the witch’s house by parents’ addictions, cruelty, or dire circumstances. There is still a need for tales of hope, stories that say circumstances no matter how dark need not define you.

 

4bf19d_1a05afe193ac49afb4bd9ae3537f1160~mv2Maureen McQuerry is an award winning poet, novelist and teacher. Her YA novel, The Peculiars (Abrams/Amulet) is an ALA Best Book for YA 2013, winner of the Westchester Award. Her MG fantasy duo Time Out of Time, includes Beyond the Door, a Booklist top Ten Fantasy/SciFi for Youth, and The Telling Stone, a finalist for the WA State Book awards. Between Before & After, a YA historical novel (HarperCollins/Blink) will be released in Feb 2019. She taught middle school through college for almost twenty years specializing in gifted education.  In 2000 she was awarded the McAuliffe Teaching Fellowship for WA State.

Find out more: www.maureenmcquerry.com

https://www.instagram.com/maureenmcquerry/

https://twitter.com/maureenmcquerry

Friday Finds: February 1, 2019

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

Shout! Laurie Halse Anderson Continues to be the Voice We Need Shouting in the World About Sexual Violence in the Life of Teens

Cindy Crushes Programming: Harry Potter Inspired Dragon Eggs

New books alert: YA, middle grade, memoirs, and more!

Kicky’s Post It Note Reviews: Royals, Twisted Fairy Tales, a Rabbit, a Robot, and Pure Evil

Around the Web

Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity

BuzzFeed’s Unpaid 19-Year-Old Quiz Genius on Her Tricks, the Layoffs, and Jonah Peretti

ALAMW: What Happened, and What Should Happen Next

Homeland Security Created A Fake University In Michigan As Part Of Immigration Sting

Friday Finds: January 25, 2019

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Penguin Random House 2019 Showcase: Books featuring coders, witches, royalty, refugees, and circus folk

Feminist AF Fashions and the YA Characters That Rock Them

Honoring the Heart of History, a guest post by author Roshani Chokshi

Do You Know: Reflection Press & Children’s Books as a Radical Act, a Diversity Audit Resource

Book Review: Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Around the Web

Black Children Don’t Have Nick Sandmann’s Rights

Teachers Vote Yes On Deal To End Los Angeles Strike

 

Honoring the Heart of History, a guest post by author Roshani Chokshi

39863498When I first set out to write THE GILDED WOLVES, I had imagined a fun and lighthearted story set in an alternative Paris during the late 19thcentury. Something about that era had always tickled my imagination. I blame watching Moulin Rouge dozens of times when I was a kid…dreaming about mahogany stages, feathered silk gowns that trailed over frosted champagne flutes fallen from poet’s hands…the power of seizing an audience’s imagination so thoroughly that they followed you as if your mere shadow promised salvation. To me, 1889 Paris was opulence incarnate. What I hadn’t realized was how that imagery of an era was only slice of what it truly represented to millions of people across the world. 

In particular, writing this story made me rethink how fiction sheds light on historical truths. Nineteen century Paris is a celebration of juxtapositions. That feeling of artistic revolution was still true, but it was only a portion of the vast truth of that era. This was the epoch of Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec, of the Moulin Rouge and its red windmill promising liberation. This was a time that earned its place in “La Belle Epoque” or “The Beautiful Years.” But it was also the Age of Imperialism, an age wherein many parts of Europe set sail to colonize swathes of Asia and Africa under the guise of a “civilizing mission” to bring civilization to the “dark and savage” parts of the world.

This is something that struck me in particular as someone acutely aware of how colonialism has shaped my cultural heritage. My mother is from the Philippines, which was controlled by Spain for 300 years. My father is from India, which was similarly controlled by the British. It’s a hard truth to stomach how an era that looked so beautiful on the outside was also a time for outside forces to enslave, extort and erase the native cultures of other civilizations. This really came to a head for me when I started delving into the details of the 1889 Exposition Universelle, the world fair that incentivized the creation of one of France’s cultural icons, the Eiffel Tower. 

Once, the Eiffel Tower served as the entrance to the world fair. The world fair had multiple cultural pavilions, all of which celebrated the civilizing might of Western European powers. Their biggest draw that attracted nearly 28 million visitors was a human zoo, then advertised as a “Negro Village” where viewers could watch natives in their “natural habitat.” This is the kind of term that makes the soul recoil. It’s dehumanizing in the extremes, and something that was not a historical one-off incident. During the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, there was another human zoo, this time featuring Igorots, indigeneous Filipinos who ceremonially butchered dogs and were then forced to do so for spectacle. Hearing those stories put my own past into perspective, as I started thinking about the stories that have become forgotten, slowly swept under the rug of the highlight reels of various centuries. 

When I started writing THE GILDED WOLVES, I made the decision early on to honor the heart of the history even as I set the book in an alternate world and infused it with its own magic system. At some points, I faced pushback from early reviewers for the decision I made, but I stand by my word choice and the presentation of uglier truths. There is a great danger in sanitizing the grotesque at the risk of offending someone’s modern sensibilities. We do not live in a beautiful world. At best, it is gilded, which does not mean that it’s without beauty and splendor. For me, there’s a huge responsibility among children authors to reflect the world’s spectrum of color, ethnicities, religious backgrounds. Our histories are highlight reels, often smoothed over by the patina of 

conquerors and the threads lost between bloodshed and colonialism. Even though that was not the focus of the story, it is the backdrop. It is the emotional context which informs how the characters interact with each other and with their world.

My hope for my stories is that they spark curiosity and conversation. With this story in particular, I hope it encourages readers to be more critical of their surroundings and of history. I hope it encourages them to look to the shadows, and lift the darkness and confusion, and see what hidden truths lie there. I hope they question what is gold and what glitters. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SIC_0760-719x1024Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of Aru Shah and the End of Time, The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes, and The Gilded Wolves. Her work has been nominated for the Locus and Nebula awards, and her books have appeared on Barnes and Nobles Best New Books of the Year and Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year lists. Chokshi lives in Georgia, but doesn’t have much of a Southern accent. Alas.

Her novel, The Gilded Wolves, is available now.

Set in a darkly glamorous world The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts:

An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Friday Finds: January 18, 2019

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

Thoughts on Collection Development

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Mugs

Book Review: The Whispers by Greg Howard

Helping Patrons Find What They’re Looking for On Our Shelves

Sunday Reflections: My Wild and Weird YA Librarian Resume

Around the Web

Forget Screen Time Rules — Lean In To Parenting Your Wired Child, Author Says

2019 Walter Awards

Vaping has created teen nicotine addicts with few treatment options

Under Rainy Skies, Los Angeles Teachers Take To The Picket Lines

 

 

Friday Finds: January 11, 2019

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

Book Review: Standing Up Against Hate: How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of WWII by Mary Cronk Farrell

How History (and Librarians) Inspire Freedom of the Press, a guest post by Mary Cronk Farrell

DIY Book Trading Cards

Book Review: Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi

WRITING YOUR OWN STORY (SORT OF), a guest post by Greg Howard

Book Review: Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

Book Review: Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams, a teen perspective

Around the Web

Parkland Shooting Panel Report Calls For Arming Teachers, Chronicles Slew Of Blunders

2019 Video Game Release Schedule

12 of Our Most Anticipated Historical YA Fiction of 2019

Send Girls to See Captain Marvel

 

 

Friday Finds: January 4, 2019

tltbutton3This Week at TLT

What’s new in LGBTQIA+ YA January 2019

Take 5: 2019 Resources to help with planning, promotion and marketing

Cindy Crushes Programming: Nail Polish Gems

The 2019 Project: Feminist AF!

Sunday Reflections: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Around the Web

The 10 Most Anticipated Young Adult Novels of 2019

How Harry Potter Has Brought Magic To Classrooms For More Than 20 Years

January 2019 YA book releases you don’t want to miss

Don’t miss these LGBTQ+ YA books being released in 2019

The Beginning of the End of Snow Days