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YA A to Z: H is for Historical Fiction, a guest post by librarian Amanda Perez

Today in our YA A to Z series, new librarian Amanda Perez joins us to talk about Historical Fiction in YA Lit.

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Historical Fiction authors go through a great deal of research in order to present their readers with an accurate window into history.  The final product presented to teen readers is often a masterful look into that particular moment in time, which encourages the development of empathy and new perspectives.  The benefits of reading Historical Fiction are well documented and as such are often the focus of book reports.

It is important to note that Historical Fiction can also be fun and not just a homework assignment.  The genre is unique in that it enlightens as well as entertains. The current trend of genre-bending include the latest works of historical fiction, and they may well be thrillers, humorous tales, or tinged with fantasy. Below is a list of recently released Historical Fiction teen novels, with great reviews.

(All Book Summary’s taken from Amazon.com)

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What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper (2018)

After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her Papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and onto living her life. In the displaced persons camp where she is staying, Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor who she just might be falling for, despite her feelings for someone else. With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.

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Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon (2018)

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.

Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.

Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.

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The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and Lilit Thwaites (2017)

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

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Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough (2018)

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint.

She chose paint.
By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.

Joy McCullough’s bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia’s heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia’s most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman’s timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.

I will show you
what a woman can do.

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Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman (2017)

Caleb has spent his life roaming southern England with his Pa, little to their names but his father’s signet ring and a puppet theater for popular, raunchy Punch and Judy shows — until the day Pa is convicted of a theft he didn’t commit and sentenced to transportation to the colonies in America. From prison, Caleb’s father sends him to the coast to find an aunt Caleb never knew he had. His aunt welcomes him into her home, but her neighbors see only Caleb’s dark skin. Still, Caleb slowly falls into a strange rhythm in his new life . . . until one morning he finds a body washed up on the shore. The face is unrecognizable after its time at sea, but the signet ring is unmistakable: it can only be Caleb’s father. Mystery piles on mystery as both church and state deny what Caleb knows. From award-winning British author Tanya Landman comes a heart-stopping story of race, class, family, and corruption so deep it can kill.

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (2018) – Historical Fiction/Alternate History/Horror

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

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Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (2017) – Historical Fiction/ Multiple Timelines

Some bodies won’t stay buried.
Some stories need to be told. 

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the present and the past.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self-discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations–both yesterday and today.

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Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2017) – Historical Fiction/SciFi/ Multiple Timelines

2065: Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house more than a hundred years ago and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate.

1934: Amid the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine’s family’s situation is growing dire. She must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

1919: In the recovery following World War I, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail from England to America. But can she make it that far?

While their stories span thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined in ways both heartbreaking and hopeful. In Jodi Lynn Anderson’s signature haunting, lyrical prose, human connections spark spellbindingly to life, and a bright light shines on the small but crucial moments that determine one’s fate.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

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Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (2018) – Historical Fiction/Thriller

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s part of the secret resistance against the Third Reich, and he needs Sarah to hide in plain sight at a school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them. If she can befriend the daughter of a key scientist and get invited to her house, she might be able to steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. Nothing could prepare Sarah for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined. But anyone who underestimates this innocent-seeming girl does so at their peril. She may look sweet, but she’s the Nazis’ worst nightmare.

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The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls, edited by Jessica Spotswood (2018)

To respect yourself, to love yourself, should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced when you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs — whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.

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The Book of Pearl by Timothee de Fombelle (2018) – Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Joshua Pearl comes from a world that we no longer believe in — a world of fairy tale. He knows that his great love waits for him there, but he is stuck in an unfamiliar time and place — an old-world marshmallow shop in Paris on the eve of World War II. As his memories begin to fade, Joshua seeks out strange objects: tiny fragments of tales that have already been told, trinkets that might possibly help him prove his own story before his love is lost forever. Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon translate the original French into a work both luminous and layered, enabling Timothée de Fombelle’s modern fairy tale to thrum with magic. Brimming with romance and history, mystery and adventure, this ode to the power of memory, storytelling, and love will ensnare any reader’s imagination and every reader’s heart.

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Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (2017) – Historical Fiction/Thriller/Comedy

The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?historical13

 

Odd & True by Cat Winters (2017) – Historical Fiction/Horror

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

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The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (2017) – Historical Fiction/Mystery
When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly what she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she witnesses firsthand some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to-a stark contrast to her own upbringing-and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

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Guide Series by Mackenzi Lee (2017-2018) –Historical Fiction/Comedy

Summary for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Book 1):

A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi LeeSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

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Conqueror’s Trilogy by Kiersten White (2016-2018) – Historical Fiction/Alternate History

Summary for And I Darken (Book 1):

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

More Historical Fiction Series:

Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco

Charlotte Holmes Series by Brittany Cavallaro

Valiant Series by Lesley Livingston

Soldier Girl Series by Michael Grant

The Diviners Series by Libba Bray

Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

Jackaby Series by William Ritter

Meet Guest Blogger Amanda Perez:

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Amanda is in her first year as a Youth Librarian, currently at the Folsom Public Library, and has recently graduated with her MLIS from San Jose State University.  The fact that her nose was always stuck in a book should have been an early indicator of her eventual profession; however her undergrad degree is actually in Economics. When she’s not reading Amanda can be found attempting to keep up with her husband and two kids at their busy home.

YA A to Z: Friends and Troublemakers, a guest post by author Lisa Brown Roberts

Today as part of our ongoing attempt to build an index of topics in YA from A to Z, author Lisa Brown Roberts is joining us to talk about friends and troublemakers. Please share with us your favorite friendships and troublemakers in YA lit in the comments.

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As much as I enjoy writing YA romance, I love writing friendship just as much, if not more (it’s probably why I write friends-to-lovers romance).

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In my newest book, Spies, Lies, and Allies: A Love Story, there’s a bestie because we all need one, but I also tried something new: writing an enemies-to-allies friendship. Heroine Laurel has a summer job at her dad’s company working alongside Trish, who’s determined to make things hard for Laurel. The girls are opposites, and at first Laurel’s goal is to stay out of Trish’s way, but by the end of the summer their relationship has transformed.

As I wrote this book, I realized Trish was a stand-in for one of my dearest high school friends. Amy and I were opposites- she was punk and I was Princess Di (for real, I had the haircut and everything). She was sarcastic, hilarious, and loved to challenge authority. I was a people pleaser and afraid of getting in trouble, yet somehow our orbits intersected. Amy pushed me out of my good-girl zone, daring me to take risks and have fun. The first time I experienced being  pulled over by the police, Amy was driving. When I was almost suspended for a prank (um, make that twice), Amy was my partner-in-crime.

We worked in the same mall, in candy stores right next door to each other. Once again, I was the good girl, wearing a black-and-white Russel Stovers’ uniform complete with bow tie that we called the “penguin suit.” Amy rocked her punk clothes, Doc Martens, and purple-streaked hair at the funky local snack shop. She gave away candy to cute boys and when those same boys flirted with me, I followed the rules – no free stuff from me!

When we didn’t have customers, we stood outside our respective stores and bonded. We talked and laughed and swooned over David Bowie and Robert Smith and Billy Idol, and checked out guys and took turns watching each other’s stores so the other person could run off to do whatever. Some of my favorite high school memories are of those evening and weekend mall shifts. Whenever I watch the mall scenes from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I tear up a bit thinking of Amy.

Our shining mall moment was the night Amy called me and whispered, “Get over here now. INXS is in my store.” This was the eighties, friends, and INXS was big – and oh so sexy. My first thought was that if they saw me in my penguin uniform, I’d be humiliated. But I hurried next door anyway, casually strolling in like it was no big deal to see these sexy rock stars selecting candy and nuts.

Amy, always cool, smack-talked and joked with them while I just…stared. After they stocked up on snacks, they took a peek in my store, where I rushed to stand behind the glass candy cases and tried to act cool. Needless to say, they bought nothing from me. Somehow Amy and I held in our squees until they were far out of earshot.

Last summer, while attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Atlanta with amazing authors and readers, I received the shocking news that Amy had died suddenly of an aneurysm. I was at dinner with writer friends when I found out, and I pretty much fell apart. My writer friends were lovely and kind as I blubbered and told them all about Amy, and the INXS story, of course.

Returning to the hotel, my friends asked the Uber driver to play INXS. Our party Uber had a fun light system, and as INXS blasted through the speakers, the lights shimmered in time with the music. I cried and cried, and laughed, too, remembering my old friend while being comforted by new friends.

Spies, Lies, and Allies was written during the last year of my dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s and the same year Amy died. It was the hardest book I’ve written – striving for romantic comedy as I grieved. Yet to my surprise, this book became an homage to both my father and my friend. As a writer, I can’t ask for more than that.

Cherish your friends, new and old, whether you’ve known them for a lifetime or just one summer. And if you’re lucky enough to have a troublemaker friend, hug them extra-tight.

About Spies, Lies, and Allies:

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

There’s a crazy guy running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting –– in a good way. But I can’t even think about him that way because Crazy Guy says any fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous weirdo with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/spies-lies-and-allies-a-love-story.html

About Lisa Brown Roberts:

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Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies.   Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people. Connect with Lisa at www.lisabrownroberts.com.

Author Links:

Author Website: WWW.LISABROWNROBERTS.COM

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LBROWNROBERTS

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorLisaBrownRoberts/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisabrownroberts/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8287979.Lisa_Brown_Roberts

Newsletter: http://lisabrownroberts.us15.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=1f2f19aa89bc2b30b56c3d1f2&id=4accff162c

MakerSpace: DIY Faux Enamel Pins

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All things old are new again, and enamel pins are all the rage. In fact, I picked up some super cool Dumplin ones from Julie Murphy at TLA. And you can buy them at a lot of craft and hot trendy stores. Hot Topic, for example, sells a wide variety of enamel pins.

You can buy these Mermicorno enamel pins at Hot Topic: https://www.hottopic.com/product/tokidoki-mermicorno-blind-box-enamel-pin/10844289.html

You can buy these Mermicorno enamel pins at Hot Topic: https://www.hottopic.com/product/tokidoki-mermicorno-blind-box-enamel-pin/10844289.html

 

But you can also make your own, or a variation of them at least. In April we are doing a variety of Mod Podge crafts, including DIY Faux Enamel Pins, and this is one of the examples I made to help me outline the instructions.

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Supplies Needed:

  • Shrinky dink plastic
  • Acrylic or enamel paint
  • Paint brushes, with fine brush tips
  • A laptop/PC with a printer OR tracing paper and pens
  • A vinyl cutting machine OR a pair of small but good scissors
  • A toaster oven
  • E6000 glue
  • A pin back
  • Mod Podge
  • A brush or paint sponge to apply the Mod Podge
  • Black Sharpie, fine tip

Step 1: Making Your Pin Shape

We’re going to be working with Shrinky Dink plastic, which has a 3 to 1 ratio. So whatever design you make needs to be 3 times bigger than the size you want your project to end up as. So if you want a 1 inch pin, you need to start with a 3 inch design.

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We used a laptop to create our designs in the Silhouette Cameo design studio. This made it easy to get intricate and precise cuts as the Silhouette machine did all the cutting for us. We had to make several attempts before we found the right cut setting and found it helps if you tell the machine to make multiple passes. This Silhouette School tutorial has some recommended cut settings: Best Shrinky Dink Silhouette CAMEO Cut Settings – Silhouette School. Though I realize not all libraries have a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, I highly recommend purchasing one because of the wide variety of projects and types of projects you can do with one. It certainly increased the quality of our project here because we could make more designs.

If you don’t have a Silhouette Cameo machine, you can simply trace an image onto your Srinky Dink plastic and cut it out by hand. If you want more details in your design and you are cutting out by hand, be sure to use smaller, sharp scissors to give you more control. Persia Lou has a tutorial on doing DIY Enamel Pins and provides templates that you can use to trace and have a successful first attempt.

Please note, you can also print directly onto Shrink plastic if you make sure and purchase the right kind. You could either print an outline and then paint it or print a full color image and skip the painting step.

Use a black Sharpie to make bold, black outlines on your pin shape, especially if you have various areas within your design.

Step 2: Painting Your Pin Shape

You’re going to want to paint your pin shape BEFORE shrinking it. The color will darken a bit as it shrinks, so try not to start out with too dark of a color.Use a small tipped brush to paint your design. You can even use a toothpick to paint in small areas.

Step 3: Shrinking Your Pin Shape

It is recommended that you use a dedicated toaster oven for any and all crafts. We have a specific toaster oven for our Teen MakerSpace which we use for Shrinky Dinks and Sculpey clay projects. Follow the directions on your packaging for times and temperature. Basically, your pin shape will start to curl up as is shrinks and then will suddenly go flat. Wait a second or two after it goes flat, and then take it out of the oven to cool.

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Step 4: Seal the Deal

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You’ll want to give your finished pin a coat of glossy Mod Podge to seal the paint and give it that glossy enamel pin finish. Wait for the Mod Podge to dry completely before doing any final steps.

Step 5: Apply Your Pin Back

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After your pin has fully dried, you can then use the E6000 glue to apply the pin back to the back of the pin. Well, that’s a weird sounding sentence. You can use any type of pin back, but the traditional enamel pin has a tie pin closure on the back. You can buy these at most craft stores in the jewelry findings section.

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I had fun making these pins and am looking forward to making some more. It took me several attempts to work out all of the details, but once I did this was a fun, easy and semi-quick craft.

Sunday Reflections: The Truly High Cost of Childhood Trauma

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I first ran across the research regarding the long term effects of childhood trauma last year, and have commented frequently on how important I think this research is. As someone who works with teens, and even though they don’t like being called children in many ways teens are in fact children, I have felt compelled to read as much as I can about the long term effects of childhood trauma. And, I suppose, as an adult and a parent who has lived with childhood trauma, I have been interested to learn as much as I can about it. As parents, the long term effects of childhood trauma can very much effect how we parent. It turns out that the sins of the father can in fact be generational, not because of familial curses or a retributive god, but because the effects of childhood trauma can be passed down from generation to generation.

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I wrote about the long term effects of childhood trauma earlier this week in discussing THE FALL OF INNOCENCE by Jenny Torres Sanchez, a book that looks at a teen who suffered a traumatic event as a young child. She believes that she has learned to deal successfully with her trauma, but a variety of events that happen in high school illustrate that she clearly has not.

There is a huge emotional and mental burden that exists when we discuss the long term effects of childhood trauma. It can effect bonding and stability. It can mean the adaptation of unhealthy coping mechanisms which are then passed on to the next generation of children. But because I am writing this in America and America no longer seems to care about the emotional or physical or mental health of its citizens, not even its children, let me discuss the high cost of childhood trauma in terms that many Americans do seem to care about: cold hard cash.

Child abuse and neglect costs our nation $220 million every day. – Source: http://www.preventchildabuse.org/images/research/pcaa_cost_report_2012_gelles_perlman.pdf

Childhood trauma is wildly expensive, both immediately and in the long term. It’s not just expensive for the child or the family of the child, but it comes at a great cost to us all.

There is a high monetary expense that comes along with the long term effects of childhood trauma.

But first, let’s take a moment to discuss childhood trauma. Childhood trauma can occur in many ways: physical and emotional abuse, sexual abuse or assault, divorce, observing parental domestic violence, loss of a home, natural disasters, food instability, sudden death of a parent or sibling, chronic illness, and chronic bullying are just a few sources of childhood trauma. Childhood trauma is an event that effects the emotional or physical well being of a child and effects their stress levels.

Of course not all children will respond to childhood trauma in the same ways. Personality is a factor, as is personal resilience. Children with more stable homes and supportive parents will have different responses to childhood trauma. When we talk about privilege, we must acknowledge that some children are more privileged than others and this privilege can help insulate them from the same traumas and impacts how they respond to said trauma. The point is, not all children will respond in the same way to the same trauma because no two children are the same.

So what, in fact, are some of the long term effects of childhood trauma?

Mental Health

Mental health issues can be caused by childhood trauma and can effect children long into their adult lives, especially if they do not have the resources necessary to help deal in effective ways with the childhood trauma. We know that 1 in 4 adults in America struggles with mental health issues, and there is a real financial cost for society that comes with these mental health issues. In particular, many adults who have experienced childhood trauma can experience PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Physical Health

Many adults who have experienced childhood trauma also have higher rates of obesity, eating disorders, and heart disease. In addition, many adults experience addiction, which we will discuss below. These physical effects all come with a cost.

Addiction

Addiction can also be caused by childhood trauma. As we wrestle here in America with the opioid crisis and we talk about doctors over prescribing pain killers, I think it is important that we acknowledge the role of mental health issues and self-medication in addiction. Back in 2006 when I had a very traumatic pregnancy that ended in a loss, I was prescribed a pain medication to help me with the physical pain that resulted. I was surprised when taking that medication also helped to dull the emotional pain that I was feeling and remember calling my cousin and saying, “You know, I understand now why people get addicted to this stuff.” I was in a very bad emotional place and that medication that I was prescribed really dulled that emotional pain, which is why I personally decided not to take it. But I had other factors in place that helped me through that difficult emotional time and helped me with the pain. I stood at the edge in that moment and realized how easy it would be to fall into substance abuse and addiction.

Incarceration

Reason studies indicate that there are high rates of sexual abuse among incarcerated individuals, especially incarcerated females. It is believed that the high rate and long term effects of sexual abuse among women is directly impacting the higher number of incarcerated females, and we know that there is a high societal cost to incarceration.

Job Instability

Mental health issues, addiction, low self-esteem and poor coping methods can all impact job stability. And high job turnover means higher training costs for businesses. And although I believe there are many factors that are contributing to the need for families to rely on housing and food assistance, including a lack of full-time jobs that pay a livable wage, I also believe that it is possible that one of the long term effects of childhood trauma is job instability, and it contributes to the need for government assistance.

I believe that we, as a society, should do everything we can to help decrease the amounts of childhood trauma happening. In addition, I believe that we should do everything we can to help our children deal with this trauma in healthy ways to help our children heal and develop healthy coping strategies. This would include seriously addressing issues like childhood hunger and health, including providing affordable health care, and improving every American’s quality of life by creating a country with more stable jobs that provide a truly livable wage. I believe that we should do this because it is the humane thing to do, because these are our children. But if that argument doesn’t work for you, I also believe we should do this because it saves us more money in the long term.

As a society we can choose to invest in public education, affordable healthcare, and creating systems where families can thrive and maintain a healthy work/life balance or we abandon our children now and pay in the future by funding prisons, watching our workforce dwindle to a handful of privileged few who have earned an education that can sustain our future, and having to find knee-jerk reactionary ways to handle things like the opioid crisis. One approach seems to make more sense than the other because it invests in healthy children and a healthy society. Investing in happy, healthy children today will minimize the amount of money we have to spend cleaning up our mess tomorrow. And clean up always seems to cost more than just doing the right thing from the beginning does.

Childhood trauma doesn’t just effect the child, or the immediate family of the child. It ripples out in both space and time causing a myriad of effects that have a lot of repercussions for society as a whole. When one part of the body is sick, the entire body is sick. When our children are sick, when they grow up to be sick adults, then we as a nation are sick. No man is an island; what happens to the most vulnerable of us happens to the whole of us. I can’t help but look around at our world today and see how truly sick we are, and I think one of our first steps in healing and finding true health has to be doing a better job of caring and providing for our children, not just because it is the humane and moral thing to do, but because all of society will benefit from it. If we don’t invest in the health and well being of our children now, we’ll just be paying for it in different and more negative ways in the future. I think we should chose health.

Keeping History Alive Through Inspiration L.B. Schulman, author of Stolen Secrets

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. In its honor, we are proud to share this guest post by author L. B. Schulman.

In 1959, the Israel parliament officially chose the date one week after Passover to be dedicated as Holocaust Remembrance Day. That’s today, April 12th. In honor of this important day, I would like to share the inspiration and intent behind my young adult novel, Stolen Secrets–a contemporary story with a Holocaust mystery at its core.

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The idea for Stolen Secrets began in my car, while listening to a Holocaust survivor on NPR. It dawned on me that one day, we would lose all of our firsthand witnesses. No more speakers at schools or interviews on the radio. How would this impact society’s ability to empathize with this tragic historical time?

This led me to consider one of the most influential Holocaust victims–Anne Frank. She touched many people with a diary that recorded the daily life of a Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in the annex apartment behind her father’s business. This book was published in 70 languages. Over 30 million people have read it. Ballets, operas, plays, movies, and works of art found their inspiration from the thoughts of this young victim.

I soon discovered that many schools no longer require students to read The Diary of Anne Frank. The power of Anne’s voice seemed to be fading away. Were we relegating future generations to learning about history through dry textbooks? I decided to try and revive Anne’s story through my own novel, while taking a look at the crucial role that witnesses of all kinds contribute to a deeper understanding of history.

In Stolen Secrets, sixteen-year-old Livvy must move to San Francisco, where she discovers an estranged grandmother. The woman has Alzheimer’s and shouts out memories from her time at Bergen Belsen concentration camp that can’t be verified as truth or dismissed as hallucination from a debilitating disease. When Livvy uncovers a concentration camp journal in her grandmother’s home, she wonders who wrote it, why her grandmother has kept it hidden for six decades, and what, if anything, it might have to do with Anne Frank who was in the same concentration camp at the same time.

I realized how little I knew about what had happened to the eight annex residents, including the Frank family, after they were betrayed. On August 8th, 1944, the residents were sent to Westerbork, a work transit camp, where they pulled apart dusty old batteries all day long. A month later, they were packed like cattle on a harrowing three day train ride to Auschwitz.  Ironically, they were sent on the very last train to ever leave Westerbork. Had they remained hidden one more month, they might have all survived.

At Auschwitz, the family was separated. Men in one line, women, in the other. This was the last time that Anne saw her beloved father, Otto. Anne, her sister, Margot, and their mother labored hard, hauling heavy stones, for two months, until it became clear that the Russian army was advancing to liberate the camp. In a panic, the Nazi’s moved as many Jews to Bergen Belsen in Northern Germany as possible. Anne and Margot were sent, but their mother was forced to stay behind. She died of exhaustion and starvation a few weeks later.

Bergen Belsen did not have a gas chamber, but it was overcrowded with people dying of infectious diseases. In fact, over 50,000 people died there. Sometime in early spring, Margot succumbed to Typhus. Anne, at age fifteen, believing that her entire family was gone, died a few days later of the same disease. Only a month later, Bergen Belsen was liberated by the British.

Of the eight original residents who had hid in the annex, Otto Frank was the sole survivor. He returned to his work place where one of the family’s helpers, Miep, gave him Anne’s diary, which she had gathered together after the Nazi’s tore the attic apart, scattering the pages. It took Otto a month before he could bear to look at it. He found Anne’s words to be powerful, but highly personal. Two years later, he was finally convinced to let a publisher turn the diary into a book. The rest, as they say, is history.

For myself with my own book, I found it challenging to incorporate a real person’s life into a fictional scenario. I didn’t want to inadvertently teach readers an invented history. I did this by limiting the imagined details of what happened to Anne and applying them to my main character’s high-stakes hypothesis of her grandmother’s secret. In the end, I couldn’t avoid a few inventions, but they are duly noted in the Author’s Note. I wish I could say more about the twists and turns in the ending, but I won’t spoil it!

I am happy to say that the United States Holocaust Museum now offers Stolen Secrets to their adult and teen guests. The book was named a notable selection by the Sydney Taylor Book Awards, which selects quality literature that authentically portrays the Jewish experience. But the best news of all happened via a Facebook post, when a reader wrote that she was inspired by my book to buy The Diary of Anne Frank for her daughter.

I had an “aha” moment. Even without firsthand witnesses, we can effectively teach history in memorable ways. Authors and artists, with the help of librarians, educators, and word of mouth, can pass along fresh new works to readers. Together, we can create for future generations a connection to a past that must never be forgotten.

Meet Author L. B. Schulman

STOLEN SECRETS is L.B. Schulman’s second young adult novel. Her debut, LEAGUE OF STRAYS, was published in 2012. She grew up in Maryland and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and a pair of loveable mutts. When she isn’t writing, she’s visiting genealogy sites, trying to find famous people she’s related to. You can visit her online at LBSchulman.com.

The Long Term Effects of Childhood Trauma and THE FALL OF INNOCENCE BY Jenny Torres Sanchez

Earlier this week, Junot Diaz wrote one of the most compelling and heartbreaking looks at the long term effects of childhood trauma in a personal essay for the New Yorker. In it, he discusses being raped at the age of 8 and how that trauma played out over and over again into his adult life and affected his mental health, his ability to form meaningful relationships, and his ability to maintain a solid career. If you haven’t yet read it, I highly recommend that you do so now.

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As I read an early ARC of THE FALL OF INNOCENCE by Jenny Torres Sanchez earlier this year, I was equally moved by how Sanchez takes on the the long term effects of childhood trauma. From school shootings, domestic violence, parental loss and natural disasters, our children are effected many ways by childhood trauma. My children were forced to flee their home in the midst of dangerous flooding in the early morning hours and it effected every aspect of our lives. There were not only those moments of terror as we waded through waist deep raging waters to get to higher ground and safety, but the many months afterwards where we had to clean up and rebuild our lives. It has been seven years since that natural disaster and to this day we still have moments where we remember something that we lost in that flood. And in many ways that flood was nothing compared to the trauma many of our children are facing.

As a victim myself of repeated childhood sexual violence in the 8th grade, I am all too well aware of how long that trauma can effect you, how difficult it is to overcome it, and how even more than 30 years later the most innocent of moments can trigger you. We owe it to our children and to the health and well being of the human race to do more to protect and preserve our children and to address that various ways in which trauma can impact their lives.

How Childhood Trauma Can Affect Your Long-Term Health

The Fall of Innocence in particular takes on the topic of violence. The main character, Emilia Dejesus, is the victim of violence by a stranger near her elementary school at a young age. Fast forward to the future, now in high school, Emilia believes she is doing okay, until triggering events occur that remind her of that trauma. It effects her relationship with her boyfriend, her ability to be intimate, her sense of self and safety in the world. But that’s not all it effects, as it effects everyone around her. Her brother, her parents, and even her boyfriend can not escape the tentacles of consequence that radiate out from that traumatic moment in her life. Every individual caught within the radius of her life is impacted by that trauma, because we do not suffer in isolation.

Childhood Trauma : Long-Term Effects and Symptoms

What follows is Emilia’s unraveling, which the reader is invited to experience intimately through this gut wrenching and emotional tale. There is no happy ending here, as there often isn’t when a child suffers trauma that haunts them throughout their life. Addiction, mental health issues, ability to form meaningful attachments, self-doubt and self-sabotage, these are just a few of the long term effects that can be traced back to childhood trauma. When looking at the data, one can’t help but notice that there are a high number of sexual abuse victims that populate our prisons, especially our female prisons. And today we know that 1 in 4 adults are facing a mental health crisis at the same time that over 100 people die a day in our country as part of the opioid epidemic. It is important, I think, that we began to really examine how childhood trauma really impacts not only our children, but the adults they will become.

The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse

The Fall of Innocence is hands down a must read book for every man, woman, and teen. It uses the gift of storytelling to help us examine the long term effects of childhood trauma and asks us to start a conversation that we need to be having. It pulls no punches as it dives in deep to the emotional wreckage of a life left in ruins. You will sob. The Teen also read this book but she had to take some breaks in between readings to read something that she found more uplifting to help break up the emotional intensity. In the end, she came to me and we talked a lot about this book. I will talk a lot about this book for the rest of my life as not only is it moving and haunting, but it is necessary and relevant. This is a topic we should be talking about more prolifically and I’m thankful that Sanchez did the hard work of setting this story to page, and she did so quite well indeed.

Complex trauma: how abuse and neglect can have life-long effects

Publisher’s Book Description:

For the past eight years, sixteen-year-old Emilia DeJesus has done her best to move on from the traumatic attack she suffered in the woods behind her elementary school. She’s forced down the memories–the feeling of the twigs cracking beneath her, choking on her own blood, unable to scream. Most of all, she’s tried to forget about Jeremy Lance, the boy responsible, the boy who caused her such pain. Emilia believes that the crows who watched over her that day, who helped her survive, are still on her side, encouraging her to live fully. And with the love and support of her mother, brother, and her caring boyfriend, Emilia is doing just that.

But when a startling discovery about her attacker’s identity comes to light, and the memories of that day break through the mental box in which she’d shut them away, Emilia is forced to confront her new reality and make sense of shifting truths about her past, her family, and herself.

Will be published June, 2018 from Philomel Books

Sunday Reflections: What if we are our own worst enemies? A reflection on librarianship.

I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. And the enemy was in us.” – Platoon

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When I was a teen, I was obsessed with the movie Platoon, in large part because Charlie Sheen was one of my James Deans. Yes, I know it turns out that he was absolute trash, but we didn’t know it at the time. But because of this obsession, I had purchased the Platoon soundtrack – on vinyl thank you very much – and memorized the closing speech which contains the line above. The line above has always stuck with me and I keep thinking about it lately in terms of the MLS and the devaluing of libraries, in part through the devaluing of the library profession by none other than librarians. Hear me out.

Before I begin, let me just take a moment to say that I have the utmost respect for paraprofessionals. I myself started out as a paraprofessional YA associate before choosing to go on and get my MLS. Some of my best friends are paraprofessionals, including my best friend who happens to be a nondegreed director of a small, rural library. Our very own Amanda MacGregor, who is my most trusted reviewer and someone I go to frequently for advice and information, is not an MLS librarian, though I believe you all know I love, value and respect her fiercely. This is not a diatribe against paraprofessionals or anyone who works in the library; it is, however, a reflection on how we talk about the profession and the lingering effect it has and how people perceive the value of the library.

Time and time again, I hear many people talking as if the MLS no longer matters in any way, shape or form, and this concerns me. There is even, recently, a vote discussing whether or not the director of the ALA – the American LIBRARY Association – should hold an MLS. And I was surprised by how many people felt that this prerequisite was an obviously absurd idea. I feel quite differently about this; I believe that the director of the ALA should be a person who holds an MLS from an ALA certified school. To me, to forgo putting someone with an MLS as the director of the ALA would be like putting someone who doesn’t have a background in psychology in charge of the APA or someone who isn’t licensed in medicine in charge of the AMA. I want someone who has the education, knowledge and experience to be directing the organization.

But it’s not just about whether or not the director of the ALA should hold an MLS. More and more, I hear professional librarians talking as if the MLS education is completely unnecessary, and I would argue that this is harmful to our profession. What we say and do matters and transforms how people think about our profession. If we ourselves devalue our profession, than why shouldn’t our public, including community boards and legislators? I think of it somewhat as branding, and we are hurting our brand.

One of the last library systems I worked at went from having a staff of around 80 people and 12 MLS librarians to around 40 employees and only 2 MLS librarians. All specialists, including children’s librarians, were done away with. But of course, none of the services or programming were, so now fewer and less invested people are tasked with doing the same responsibilities. At another library, the retiring MLS director was replaced with the city’s marketing manager who had never worked in the library. The benefit is that the library gets a lot of good marketing, but the daily business of the library – it’s philosophy and foundations of the library in the community – was no longer at the core.

In contrast, at one system I worked at an individual from the business world was hired to be an operations manager, but this person worked closely with the library director, an experiences MLS librarian, to keep the foundations of librarianship at the center while blending those ideals with that of the business world to keep the library moving forward in terms of budgeting and HR practices.

But what happens when we start saying that librarians and librarianship aren’t really necessary in libraries? What happens when we devalue professional librarians? I would argue that those outside the library community see this and take that discussion one step further. If librarians aren’t important, if the education and experience isn’t important, then perhaps libraries themselves aren’t that important?

How many times have I, an MLS librarian, been asked if I am a volunteer? Too many too count. How many times have I been asked why I need a degree to do my job? Again, too many to count. The truth is, we don’t do a very good job of informing our public about what we do, why it matters, and why having educated and professional librarians involved in the library is important. And if it doesn’t really matter, then why should our communities support them with their tax monies?

Have you ever worked at a library where it has been suggested that staff could be let go and replaced by volunteers? I have, and it’s very disheartening. But I also think, we do this to ourselves in some ways. When staff are reduced, workloads are not reduced in kind. We replace retiring professionals with paraprofessionals to reduce staffing costs and the library is populated with fewer and fewer librarians. Sometimes, there are no professional librarians to be found.

This conversation gets tricky because not all libraries are the same. For example, there are a lot of small, rural libraries out there being well run by passionate paraprofessionals and a just a handful of staff to cover the circulation desk. You can not compare a small rural library with a large urban library system, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. But when even our largest library systems begin to do away with professional librarians, it definitely communicates a message to the larger public about the value of both librarians and libraries. And I would argue that this message is not in our favor.

These past few weeks we have seen public school teachers fighting for respect and pay that matches their job. We demand of our teachers a degree and hold them to a standard, and yet teachers are another maligned profession. We do not culturally value teachers, in part I would argue because it is seen as a feminized profession, much as librarianship is. But these past few weeks, teachers have united together and demanded to be fairly compensated for their work.

In comparison, I continue to see librarians degrading the profession in the ways that we talk about our field, in the ways that we don’t demand adequate compensation for our jobs, or the ways in which library directors eliminate professional staff and professional development when forced to make budget cuts.

As I mentioned, I was a paraprofessional before I became an MLS degree holding librarian. I have been dedicated and passionate about my job every step of the way. But getting my degree changed who I was as a librarian. My education really helped me understand so many aspects of both my job and my teens. It made me a better librarian.

The irony is that today, when I hear people say that they want to get their MLS, my knee jerk reaction is that I want to tell them not to do it. Not because I don’t believe in it, I think it has tremendous value and I think it helps establish us as a profession. No, I want to tell them not to do it because I understand that the job prospects for MLS librarians are shrinking. Libraries now hire fewer and fewer librarians, and we are often inadequately compensated salary wise for our level of education and experience. Many libraries now only want to hire degreed librarians in management positions, though it is hard for MLS librarians to get the experience required for those positions because we aren’t hiring librarians in non-management positions for them to get the necessary experience.

So yes, I would like the director of the American Library Association to hold an MLS degree from an ALA certified school. To me, that helps communicate the value of the library profession to the public that we serve. I would also, for the record, like the ALA to spend part of its financial resources marketing the idea of libraries to the general public in much the same way that you see the AMA marketing the medical field to the public. And for the record, I am not an ALA member because I can’t afford the fees.

But this post isn’t really about the director of the ALA, as I mentioned, I’m not an ALA member and I don’t get a vote. But what this post is, I hope, is a reflection on how I worry that we librarians have become our very own enemies when it comes to branding and marketing of libraries. If we continue to devalue the educational foundation of our profession, does that not in some way devalue the idea of libraries themselves? I would argue that it is possible that it does and we see that in the ways our boards ask us to replace full-time professional positions with 2 part-time paraprofessional positions and the ways in which our legislators slash our hours and our budgets.

The conversation is, of course, bigger than this post. For example, do we need age specialists? I would argue that we do. I know that my teens are better served because they have a librarian who has taken the time to study adolescent development, just as babies are better served by someone who has studied early childhood development. And of course, there is something to be said about paraprofessionals who have worked with and trained with good, quality librarians. And there is something to be said about how overwhelmingly white our profession is and about how in a profession dominated by women men rise to leadership positions faster and more often. These are all valid conversations that we need to be having.

My point is this: I would like us all to consider the ways that we talk about our profession, our education, our experiences, and the very concept of a library and to consider the ways in which we may be undermining our very own profession. I want us to consider whether or not we are being our own enemies and to make the changes necessary to be advocates instead.

Book Review: Examining Toxic Masculinity in TRADITION by Brendan Kiely

Earlier this year, both TLTer Amanda MacGregor and myself wrote posts about toxic masculinity.When we look at large mass shootings, one of the common denominators that keep occurring is that of domestic violence, which is tied in to toxic masculinity. At the most basic, toxic masculinity is defined as:

adherence to traditional male gender roles that restrict the kinds of emotions allowable for boys and men to express, including social expectations that men seek to be dominant (the “alpha male”) and limit their emotional range primarily to expressions of anger. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxic_masculinity

How Boys Suffer: The Boy Code and Toxic Masculinity 

Toxic masculinity is a topic that YA author Brendan Kiely takes head on in his upcoming release, TRADITION.

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Publisher’s Book Description:

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Brendan Kiely, a stunning new novel that explores the insidious nature of tradition at a prestigious boarding school.

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

Karen’s Thoughts:

I picked up Tradition solely because it was written by an author I respect. Brendan Kiely worked with us here at TLT earlier for the Sexual Violence in YA Literature project with his book The Gospel of Winter. He also co-authored All American Boy with Jason Reynolds. These are both phenomenal works of literature and I was very much looking forward to Tradition. The timing of this book is, in my opinion, perfect for our culture which is sincerely trying to discuss the issue of toxic masculinity, sexual harassment and violence, and the #metoo movement. I was in no way disappointed by this book. I knew that it would talk about sexual violence, but I was quite surprised by how straight forward it is in tackling the topic of toxic masculinity.

Jamie Baxter is a male athlete who comes from a world that embraces toxic masculinity and is thrown into a new world where it thrives. In his previous school, his views were challenged some by his girlfriend, who made him think about issues such as race and misogyny. But a very violent act makes puts his future in jeopardy and fills him with both self loathing and self doubt. As often happens, everyone in Baxter’s life goes out of his way to give him a second chance. And there is something to be said here about how many chances we give to white men who commit horrific acts as compared to how we respond when marginalized groups, such as people of color or women, commit acts that are deemed socially unacceptable. Now Baxter is thrust into this new world where he must wrestle with who he is and what he has done, but everyone wants to reward him for the very behaviors that have grievously injured another. It is anger most of all that Baxter fights against; this anger inside himself that being on the field seems to heighten. This is a culture that tells boys to “man up” or to “grow a pair.”

Baxter is given a scholarship – class issues and privilege are touched upon in this title as well – to an elite private school, but it means that he has to engage once again in a sport which encourages him to be aggressive in ways he seems to have trouble controlling when immersed in this culture. And to make matters worse, his peers are very privileged young men who wholly embrace toxic masculinity and the many myths that prop it up, including that of the sexual prowess and dominance of men. The female students at this school are seen very much as objects by his teammates and many of the school traditions encourage this treatment of the female population.

When Baxter arrives, he meets Jules. Jules is a feminist out of water in this school – and my hero! She stands in the courtyard handing out flyers for the clinic. She sets a tampon on her desk because she refused to be ashamed of the fact that she menstruates. She challenges the status quo and enlists several friends in her fight against it. These friends include a gay best friend and another outsider who is carrying some very real trauma with her.

The tensions build and the things that you are pretty sure are going to happen do in fact happen. I’m not going to lie, some of these scenes were really hard to read. But then the four friends put together a plan to raise awareness because the system, as it often does, fails them. There are a lot of powerful scenes, discussions and issues packed into this book.

Some of the things that I think that Kiely does especially well are:

He provides a really powerful contrasting sexual scene where consent is very well illustrated to balance scenes where consent is not given. This scene is so powerful and necessary and delicately handles the discussion of consent.

There is a lot of discussion here and some good examples of what it means to be an ally. Baxter takes a lot of risks in both small and big ways to stand up for what he believes his right. And there is a realistic cost to him for doing so.

Although many characters within the book question what happened to them, which is a normal response to sexual violence, at no time does the reader, which I really think is important.

There is a lot that happens around the word NO in this book and I just found it uplifting to read. Not why it happens, of course, but the ways in which the victims choose to become survivors and to be bold in stating the truth about what happened to them.

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This is a strong addition to all collections and in the discussion of both toxic masculinity and sexual violence. It is powerful, challenging, moving, heartbreaking and inspiring. The horror of what happens is boldly proclaimed the true horror that it is. Adults are portrayed in more than one way. The realities of the issues are laid out in no uncertain terms. I highly recommend this as a companion novel to Sex & Violence by Carries Mesrobian for a complex look at toxic masculinity.

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I also highly recommend the recent work of Chessy Prout, #IHaveTheRightTo, which is her very real experience of sexual assault at an elite boarding school told in her own words. I think it is very important that we take this fictional narrative written by a male and put it with this real life experience told from a female survivor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encourage Diary Writing Display

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

Meet Mary Amato

maryamato

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

Book Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

thefinalsixPublisher’s Book Description:

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

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

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

Karen’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I highly recommend this book.

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

What is CliFi? An Earth Day Primer

YA/Teen | Eco-Fiction

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

We Love These 6 YA Books Set in Outer Space

Our Most Anticipated Science Fiction Novels of 2018