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Robin’s Top 10 Books for 2013

So yes, to be honest, this is a somewhat odd list. These are the top 10 books I enjoyed in 2013. A couple of them are children’s books, a couple of them were published before 2013, a couple haven’t come out yet (and one I haven’t finished.) What can I say? Being a librarian is weird.

Let’s start with the children’s books. I have friends with a 4 month old who will go completely still if you read to him (a kindred soul.) My first encounter with Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry was at his house, but I have yet to find a toddler who doesn’t sit still for it. It is the perfect combination of engaging text and illustrations, regularly punctuated by the truck saying “Beep! Beep!” which all toddlers seem to love. This book is a wonder – you should by it for all of your expectant friends. The other children’s book is Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately the Milk. I was just excited to find one of his I can read without getting completely freaked out. My twin 5 year old friends loved it, too.

Two of my favorite books from this year haven’t come out yet – Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins and The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. I have to be honest, I would read a washing machine manual written by either of these authors, so when I get my hands on an advanced copy of one of their titles, I can’t resist. I reviewed Rebel Belle for TLT here. I can say with the utmost confidence that IKoM is going to be a very important book for a very long time. Add both to your list for next year.

Sarah Rees Brennan continued last year’s brilliantly funny, gender-swapped gothic fantasy Unspoken with this year’s Untold. Most readers I’ve seen comment on it are overwhelmed by the feels. I’m just along for the ride (it’s a good one.) Also, team Angela.

You can read my review of Meg Rosoff’s Picture Me Gone, which I was unsurprised to find on the National Book Awards shortlist for Young People’s Literature. (I was a bit surprised to find it in the Young Adult category of the NYT Notable Children’s Books of 2013. It belongs in the Middle Grade section. Feel free to argue with me in the comments.)

Jasper Fforde (my favorite author) finally had his sequel to The Last Dragonslayer published in the US this year. You can read my review of Song of the Quarkbeast here.

Holly Black is a certifiable genius. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is just excess evidence in this case. I gush over it here.

What can I say about Eleanor and Park that hasn’t already been said? It has one of the world’s most adorable authors (you should follow her on Twitter.)  It’s beautiful and sweet and charming and completely draws you in to its world. And it’s devastating. I confess that this is the one I haven’t finished. It just hurt too much. I could see where certain things were going and I couldn’t cope. It’s waiting for me, though, right there on my bookshelf for when I am ready. That says a lot, doesn’t it, that it’s on my top 10 list and I haven’t finished it?


And finally, there is Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. I realize that this was published in 2012, but I finally got around to reading it a couple of months ago. I remember there being a rather significant buzz about it when it came out. I also remember there being several books published in that time frame with very similar titles, and getting them all confused. The buzz was sufficient for it to make it onto my (extremely limited) library purchase list, though, and I finally picked it up when I was stuck supervising something extremely boring at work. It is amazing! I was immediately drawn in to the story, and delighted to find that the author had so completely realized her fantasy world. If you missed it as well, I highly recommend it.

Robin’s 10 Favorite Posts of 2013

2013 has been a banner year at Teen Librarian’s Toolbox! (Especially for me, since this is my first year.) Here are my 10 favorite TLT posts from this year, in no particular order:

The one where Karen talks about racial stereotypes and their impact on our teens (including the backlash from the world’s most adorable cereal commercial.)

The one about how the internet is only ‘free’ if you can pay for it. What.

The one where Karen is brave enough to call out an actor on her favorite show for being (at the very least) thoughtless. 

The one where Christie teaches us how to deal with library life by channeling The Avengers.

The one where Heather takes actual teens to a conference and the world doesn’t come to an end.

The one where we acknowledge that working in a library doesn’t protect you from…anything, really.

The one where I try to help everyone learn to use Tumblr, and mostly help Karen.

The one where Karen gets bonus points for asking A.S. King her most morbid interview question ever.

The one where Christie advocates giving teens boxcutters. (Just kidding, it’s the TPiB about Duct Tape crafts.)

This list of telltale signs that you work with teens. Don’t skip the comments!

12 Blogs of Christmas: Diversity in YA

It’s time to kick off our 3rd annual 12 Blogs of Christmas.  Here we share with you some of our favorite blogs to discuss MG and YA lit, be inspired by new craft ideas, or just learn more about teen issues and culture.

 
di·ver·si·ty

diˈvərsitē,dī-/

noun
noun: diversity
1. The state of being diverse; variety
from merriam-webster dictionary

 

Blog #1

  

From the Blog’s About Page:
 
Diversity in YA was founded in 2011 by YA authors Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo as a website and book tour. While the tour is over, we’ve revived the website as a tumblr! We celebrate young adult books about all kinds of diversity, from race to sexual orientation to gender identity and disability. We hope you’ll enjoy celebrating them with us.

Why I Love It:
 
Technically, this is a blog via Tumblr. But it is chock full of in depth discussions, title recommendations, and useful statistics.  If you care about diversity in YA lit, this is a resource you need to be reading everyday.  If you don’t care about diversity in YA lit, then I hope you are not a ya librarian because all YA librarians need to care about this topic.  We live in a diverse world, our teens deserve – and need – to see themselves authentically reflected in the books that they read.  And though my personal rallying cry is that we need to expand our definition of diversity to include things like class differences, spiritual lives and belief practices, and moving beyond normative gender stereotypes, we definitely need to be thinking about and discussing race and sexuality in our ya lit.  Diversity in YA is a great place to be doing this.

Some of my favorite posts include:
Diversity in ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults
Gay in YA (graphic via Epic Reads)
Link: 5 YA Titles that Feature Characters with Asperger’s or Autism
Beyond Diversity 101: On Bisexual Characters and YA Literature
Diversity in Secrets (guest post by Amy Reed)

Flashback TLT Posts

Diversity Discussions on TLT

Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit


Gender Issues on TLT
I’m Just a Girl? Gender issues in YA Lit
Girls Against Girls
Teach Me How to Live: talking with guys about ya lit with Eric Devine
Let’s Hear It for the Boys: Boys and body image
Who Will Save You? Boundaries, Rescue and the Role of Adults in the Lives of Teens
The Curious Case of the Gender Based Assignment

GLBTQ Discussions on TLT
You want to put WHAT in my YA?
Taking a Stand for What You Believe In
Annie on My Mind and Banned Books Week on My Calendar
Queer (a book review)
Top 10: For Annie and Liza (Annie on My Mind)