Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Going Back in Time: Middle School-Style – Booktalks by Kearsten LaBrozzi

This month, my middle school book club and I talked historical fiction, naming titles, authors, and six words or phrases to describe the books.  As we shared our past month’s reads, two themes featured prominently: required reading is not always their favorite (e.g., My Brother Sam is Dead and Hound of the Baskervilles) and yes, they, too, read fanfiction!   

Here are just a couple of the books we talked about.

Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, & Other Female Villains by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrated by Rebecca Guay.  7th grader Galadriel recommends this collection of “bad girls” throughout history using these words/phrases: innocent or guilty, historical, women, interesting, and Typhoid Mary.  Each woman’s story is told, and then followed with a short comic of the writers, mother and daughter Jane and Heidi, arguing about each woman’s guilt or innocence.  Galadriel found Typhoid Mary’s story the most interesting: a cook who served up peaches and cream with a possiblyunintentional side of typhoid fever, and didn’t seem all that remorseful about the many infections (and several deaths) she caused. 

The Book Thiefby Marcus Zusak. Death, our narrator in The Book Thief, is tired. He’s carried many souls from here to…somewhere else, and doesn’t usually notice the survivors. Sometimes, however, the truly extraordinary make him care. Liesel, a young orphan in Germany in 1939, is one such case. Death checks in with her over the years, as she steals books and cherishes the words inside, and he collects the dead throughout Europe during WWII. Last month 7thgrader Annalise recommended that I read this one (I’d put it off for years, afraid I’d sob through it. I did), and I used these words/phrases to describe it: words, beautiful, World War II, fear, family, and devastating.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Maybe you have a hankering for the detective life, or are more than a little obsessed with Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. If so, why not try the original Holmes?  In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes and Watson investigate the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. His death appears to have been caused by a very large dog, which family lore claims haunts the Baskerville grounds. But is that just a convenient cover for a more dastardly plot? 8th grader Ayonna, who read the story for class, started out with slow as one of her six words/phrases, but followed with mystery, surprising, murderous, moorland and convicts.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler.  Octavia E. Butler was a wicked good, award-winning science fiction author, and it shows Kindred.  In it, 26-year-old Dana is swept back and forth in time, from the present day to America’s slave-owning past. In the past, she struggles with life as a slave while trying to ensure that the slave owner, Rufus, survives…as she’s discovered that he’s her ancestor. The words/phrases 7th grader Jordyn used to describe Kindred were scifi, slavery, historical fiction and time-travel.

My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier.  Revolutionary War, death, family, taverns, grief, and Lobster Backs (the British); these are the words and phrases 7thgrader Annalise used to describe this story of the Revolutionary War. Tim lives a quiet life with his British-supporting family until 1775, when his beloved older brother leaves the family to fight against the British. In a bout of teen-irreverence, Annalise referred to this required read as “My Bro Sammy Kicked the Bucket.”

Bonus: while I’ve heard a lot about fanfiction from many of my high school teens (I’ve been handing out Rainbow Rowell’s fantastic Fangirllike crazy), I hadn’t realized how many 7th & 8thgraders were reading – and loving – fanfiction! The middle schoolers in my book club recommended I try out Wattpad (http://www.wattpad.com) for both fanfiction and unpublished works. The site also offers a free mobile app, so these kids can read their Hetalia(a manga/anime in which world countries are argumentative and very attractive teens) fanfiction anywhere.

MG Review: Vordak, Time Travel Trouble

I always make sure and come home from ALA with books for Thing 1 and Thing 2, kind of my penance for going away for several days.  So this year I waited in line and got books signed by Vordak, a dastardly super villain.  I will only stand in line for Jonathan Maberry and my kids.  Just saying.

When I got home, my kids scoured through my posters and books and called dibs, and the first book that Thing 1 – the tween – chose to read was Vordak: Time Travel Trouble.  This is what she has to say about it.

Me: Who is Vordak?
Tween: An evil villain, but he is not very good at it.  He has attempted 38 times to try and destroy Commander Virtue and all 38 times he has failed.

Me: Does he have any special powers?
Tween: No, he makes all kinds of stuff like an acid pit and a piranha pit.

Me: So who is Commander Virtue?
Tween: He can fly, he has super strength.  And he has a cool costume.  That’s  not really a power, but it is cool

Me: Why do you think people would like reading the Vordak books?

Tween: Because it is about time traveling, and time travel is cool – like bowties.  You get to see what happens before and after you were born.  Vordak is trying to prevent Commander Virtue from becoming a superhero, so he goes back in time 35 years.

Me: Who do you think would like the Vordck books?
Tweens: People who like superheroes, time travel, and funny things.  Vordak is very funny.

 Vordak made a “Reading Rules” poster for ALA. You can buy it at the ALA Store.

Like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Origami Yoda books, the Vordak series (yes, it is a series) is a hybrid between the graphic novel/comic book format and a chapter book with fun illustrations and snappy dialogue.  It is a great cross promotional series for the very popular Despicable Me movies.

MG Book Review: Frosting and Friendship by Lisa Schroeder (reviewed by Tween reviewer Ceci)

A review of Frosting and Friendship by Lisa Schroeder from tween reviewer Ceci

But first how I got an advanced reader copy of this book.
My class had an assignment to write a letter to a famous person. I chose Lisa Schroeder because I loved her books, It’s Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets. I GOT A LETTER BACK!!!!! Lisa Schroeder wrote back to me! That was REALLY exciting, the letter came to my school. Then I started to review books for TLT and asked my Auntie Karen if she could get an ARC from Lisa Schroeder and she could! A few days after talking to her a package came to my house with a ARC of Frosting and Friendship, a letter, and bookmarks to share with my friends! OH MY GOSH! I can’t even tell you how excited I was. I screamed, I was sooooooooo happy!(Karen’s note: She did scream. They sent video footage. It was awesome that Lisa helped me make this moment happen for Ceci.)


Well here’s the review! You’ll have to wait until September to read the book though!


This book is about a girl named Lily who makes too many plans. Yikes! She joins a club called the Baking Book Worms. But Lily doesn’t know how to cook. And the club has a rule: bake the snacks, don’t buy. 

Then Isabel, one of Lily’s friends, wants to plan a surprise party for Sophie who is turning 13. YAY! But she is already in a band with Zola and Abigail trying out for the spring fling against other bands. And she is trying to learn how to cook! But she says YES!

Everyone is in way over their heads.

Read the book, in September, to find out what happens next. Also read It’s Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets.


Love and Peace
Ceci

Goodreads Synopsis for Frosting and Friendship: Has Lily bitten off more than she can bake? A sweet treat from the author of It’s Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets.

On a scale of zero to ten, twelve-year-old Lily Hubbard is a zero when it comes to baking. Her cookies turn out salty, her cakes tend to lean, and things are always overcooked.

When Lily is invited to be a part of a mother-daughter book club called The Baking Bookworms, she is excited—and terrified. It seems like she’s the only one who didn’t inherit the baking gene.

But she does have the music gene, which is why she’s forming a band that will audition for their school’s annual Spring Fling. If, that is, Lily can balance her priorities. Because Isabel, one of the Baking Bookworms, has asked Lily to help plan a surprise party for their mutual friend Sophie. And the task is…creating a showstopping, mouthwatering, thirteenth-birthday-party-worthy dessert. Uh. Oh.

Soon, Lily finds herself knee-deep in sugar and sheet music as she tries to juggle her responsibility to her bandmates AND give her friend the best party ever.

Aladinn, 2013. ISBN: 9781442473967

Sunday Reflectons: True Confessions of a NON Reluctant Reader (tips from a librarian parenting a reluctant reader)

Beginning tomorrow, April 15th, we are celebrating and discussing Reluctant Readers this week with Orca Books.  Tomorrow you can also begin entering a giveaway for a mini collection of books from Orca Books.

I grew up in a family of readers.  I have always read.  And for 20 years now I have been a teen (youth) services librarian.  I’m not going to lie, I didn’t always understand reluctant readers.  How can someone NOT like to read? It is a concept that I just couldn’t get my mind around.

And then I became a mom.  I did everything they say to do, everything I tell my parents in the library to do.  I read to my children every single day.  My house is full of books for all age levels, from board books to Shakespeare.  There is not a room that doesn’t have at least 50 books in it in this house.  My kids obviously see me read every single day.  I let my kids choose a book from every single Scholastic Book order that comes home.  Do you know how many of those books my Tween has actually read – from cover to cover? Very few.  My tween is a sometimes reluctant reader. 

I had always imagined myself the mother of a girl like me, someone who read every book and would have to be bribed to put the book down at the dinner table and actually make eye contact.  My biggest worry while pregnant with my first child was, “What if she doesn’t like science fiction?”  It never occurred to me to worry that she wouldn’t love to read, that seemed like a given.  To be fair, when she starts a book she loves she will sometimes finish it and tell me how much she loved it.  But I am pretty sure she has started more books than she has finished.

This has all been a great lesson for me as a librarian, and forced me to really evaluate the strategies that I have always shared with those concerned parents at the Reference Desk.  I have to grin and bear it as she reads a Wimpy Kid book for the 1,000th time when I know she has a super fabulous book that I just checked out and brought home from the library.  I have upped the emphasis on letting her pick out the books, no matter what I know (or think I know) about the other books on that book order form.  I’m not going to lie, I cringe when she reads a Puppy Place or Rainbow Fairy book.  I worry that they aren’t challenging her and that she is missing out on all this good stuff, but I don’t want to push her and make reading an issue.

We have been reading the various MG titles that I get to review together at night, and she does really enjoy that.  So chalk one up to reading aloud together, that does seem to be a good strategy.  We have also started listening to audio books in the car, which she also loves (though I have to be careful because right now I am listening to Scowler by Daniel Kraus and I have to make sure to turn that one off, definitely not tween friendly – though awesome).  Click here for a list of our top fave MG titles from last year.

So here’s what I’ve learned:


You can do everything right, everything they tell you to do, and your kid may still be a reluctant reader – but keep trying.

It is true what they say, the right book can make all the difference.  When she likes a book, she really seems to be more into reading.

Choice matters.  Her reaction to the books she chooses is completely different to the ones that she is required to read for AR points at school or the ones that I suggest.

Audio books can be a really fantastic tool.  Visit your library, check some out, and try them with your reluctant readers.

I remember reading that you should never send your child to bed as a punishment because that adds a negative connotation to bedtime.  I feel the same way about reading: It shouldn’t be a punishment, it shouldn’t be a source of discomfort, it shouldn’t be a source of tension between parent and child.  And yes, that is not always easy.  Find ways to build it into your daily routine without having to fight or get angry about it.  This is something that has come up in discussion with The Mr. and I as I remind him not to criticize the books she chooses to read – or to make a negative comment when she is reading Wimpy Kid again (it makes him cranky) – and to just let her read and enjoy the experience.

Take your child to the library and bookstore – often.  For one, this helps give them the choice in picking out their reading materials.  It also helps build reading into their life as it becomes a part of their established routine and identity.

If you can, get them a magazine subscription.  Everyone loves getting mail, and magazines can be short and sweet to read through.  Write your child letters and send them through the mail, have family and friends participate as well.

Get your child a journal and have them practice writing as well.  Writing and reading are tied together in many ways, and having your child practice writing will also help them think about reading and vice versa.

As a librarian, these are some of the things that I talk to parents about when they stand before me at the reference desk, stressed out because their children don’t like to read.  I recently spoke with a parent of a 7 year old girl who only wanted her child to read classics like Little Women, etc.  She said she wanted her child to be challenged and learn vocabulary words.  In the end, I was able to remind her that at the end of the day, all reading is good reading.  Learn big vocabulary words is not the only goal of reading, it also helps us to develop critical thinking skills as we evaluate the situations are characters are and think about what we would do.  Reading helps us develop empathy and compassion while encouraging critical thinking, problem solving, and predictive reading skills.  As we sit and read and ask ourselves what might happen next, we must remember that those skills are some of the skills necessary in innovation and creativity.

Take it from this librarian and mom, the right book really does make all the difference.  So keep searching and don’t give up.

YA for NJ is Live!

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In case you missed it, YA for NJ is a charity auction going on NOW through December 6 to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.  Items are being auctioned off via ebay.  There are a TON of signed books and ARCs, with at last count over 170 YA and MG authors participating.  Follow YAforNJ on Twitter or Facebook, and put in your bids!  It’s for a good cause, and they are wonderful lots!  And who wouldn’t want signed books or ARCs for presents!  Curious if your favorite YA/ MG author is participating?  Check out the list after the break!

Authors who are participating in the YA for NJ auction- Did your favorite make the list?

1. Katie Alender
2. Elise Allen
3. Tara Altebrando
4. Swati Avasthi
5. Sean Beaudoin
6. Daphne Benedis-Grab
7. Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman
8. Josh Berk
9. Holly Black
10. Coe Booth
11. Liz Braswell
12. Libba Bray
13. Kate Brian
14. Elise Broach
15. Anne Brown
16. Teri Brown
17. Alexandra Bullen
18. Jessica Burkhart
19. Niki Burnham
20. Jen Calonita
21. Anna Carey
22. Kay Cassidy
23. Cecil Castellucci
24. Jennifer Castle
25. Cherry Cheva
26. Colleen Clayton
27. Susane Colasanti
28. Zoraida Cordova
29. Eireann Corrigan
30. John Coy
31. Leah Cypess
32. Gitty Daneshvari
33. Jenny Davidson
34. Jocelyn Davies
35. Cathleen Davitt Bell
36. Timothy Decker
37. Melissa DeLaCruz
38. Matt De La Pena
39. Sarah Dessen
40. Julia DeVillers
41. Erin Downing
42. Dan Ehrenhaft
43. Simone Elkeles
44. Elizabeth Eulberg
45. Gayle Forman
46. Aimee Friedman
47. Natasha Friend
48. Margie Gelbwasser
49. Lisa Graff
50. Lisa Greenwald
51. Adele Griffin
52. Kimberly Griffiths Little
53. Alissa Grosso
54. Melissa Glenn Haber
55. Megan Kelley Hall
56. Jenny Han
57. Kim Harrington
58. Pete Hautman
59. Gwendolyn Heasley
60. Deborah Helligman
61. Leanna Renee Hieber
62. Jeff Hirsch
63. Ellen Hopkins
64. Jennifer R. Hubbard
65. Jennifer Jabaley
66. Jim Jennewein
67. Antony John
68. PG Kain
69. Melissa Kantor
70. Kristen Kemp
71. Kody Keplinger
72. A.S. King
73. Gordon Korman
74. Amy Goldman Koss
75. Bob Krech
76. Nina LaCour
77. David LaRochelle
78. Martin Leicht & Isla Neal
79. Claire Legrand
80. David Levithan
81. Sarah Darer Littman
82. E. Lockhart
83. David Lubar
84. Eric Luper
85. Carolyn Mackler
86. Mari Mancusi
87. Andy Marino
88. Wendy Mass
89. Terra Elan McAvoy
90. Megan McCafferty
91. Kelly McClymer
92. Kathy McCullough
93. Abby McDonald
94. Lauren McLaughlin
95. Lisa McMann
96. Amy McNamara
97. Brian Meehl
98. Kate Messner
99. Kate Milford
100. Barney Miller
101. Sarah Mlynowski
102. Carley Moore
103. Sally Nemeth
104. Michael Northrop
105. Sarah Ockler
106. Lauren Oliver
107. Kenneth Oppel
108. Micol Ostow
109. Iva-Marie Palmer
110. Lisa Papademetriou
111. James Patterson & Christ Tebbetts
112. Marlene Perez
113. Stephanie Perkins
114. Helen Phillips
115. Gae Polisner
116. Kim Purcell
117. Matthew Quick
118. Randi Reisfeld
119. Patrick Ryan
120. Leila Sales
121. Lisa Ann Sandell
122. Pat Schmatz
123. Karen Schreck
124. Eliot Schrefer
125. Victoria Schwab
126. Elizabeth Scott
127. Kieran Scott
128. Rebecca Serle
129. Darren Shan
130. Alyssa Sheinmel
131. Courtney Sheinmel
132. Sara Shepard
133. Abby Sher
134. Linda Joy Singleton
135. Jon Skovron
136. Alexander Gordon Smith
137. Jennifer E. Smith
138. Carol Snow
139. Sonya Sones
140. Jordan Sonnenblick
141. Jerry Spinelli
142. Caissie St.Onge
143. Ann Stampler
144. Natalie Standiford
145. Rebecca Stead
146. Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
147. Laurie Stolarz
148. Francisco Stork
149. Stephanie Kate Strohm
150. Carol Tanzman
151. Mary G. Thompson
152. Rachel Vail
153. Alison Van Diepen
154. Siobhan Vivian
155. Ned Vizzini
156. Cecily VonZiegesar
157. Adrienne Vrettos
158. Melissa Walker
159. K.M. Walton
160. Robin Wasserman
161. Lynn Weingarten
162. Nancy Werlin
163. John Corey Whaley
164. Alecia Whitaker
165. Daisy Whitney
166. Ellen Wittlinger
167. Jake Wizner
168. Jacqueline Woodson
169. Alexa Young
170. Sara Zarr

Don’t forget to bid, and to check back to make sure you win!

Top 10: Middle Grade Fiction, Graphically Speaking

If your job description is anything close to what I’ve seen, you get to fill in the blanks for the nebulous population known as the “tweens”- that 10-12 year old scary time where they can’t quite fit in with the teenagers because they’re “little” kids but they want to DO everything the teenagers do, from HALO tournaments to lock-ins, and are tired of the “baby” things that the little kids are doing.  Welcome to the “Tween zone” – kinda like the Twilight zone, but with tweens.


To a point, they’re right.  Their development and needs are different than younger kids, but they’re also different than teens, so what works for them won’t work for other groups.  The humor and sarcasm that works with teens won’t work with a lot of tweens, and the smoothing that you do with younger kids won’t work with them either.  Their reading habits differ as well- they need to be pushed into that world of inbetween books (whether you have it as junior high or juvenile or tween or chapter books) before they jump from picture to teen books.  This is the time where a lot of kids will loose that love of reading- often times because they struggle in making the transition from picture book to “grown up”, and don’t have the encouragement.

So what do you do?  I like pulling my hybrid books- those books that still have the graphics and illustrations throughout the book to keep their interest, but have the story and characters that build depth and encourage their thought process and critical thinking.  While they’re a relatively new genre (think Captain Underpants), they’re still mostly found under juvenile fiction, and can get lost between copies of Wonder, The Giver, and Mark of Athena.

I’ve pulled together the TOP TEN books that my “tweens” are DEVOURING that have a twist- they’re books, but are illustrated or graphic novels without delving into the world of manga.  And they can easily be turned into a book program- take leftover notebooks or journals and have them create their own illustrated journals.  Have an origami program and create characters from the books. Draw yourself in the style of the books and see who has the best character!

If you know of titles that fit but didn’t make the list, share in the comments below!


Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney.  I cannot keep these on the shelves, in English or in Spanish.  They are constantly moving, and the request list is always long.  And with the movies continuing to be popular, I don’t think my list is leaving any time soon.


Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke.  Zita is a kick-butt heroine who doesn’t blink when her best friend is abducted by aliens.  So far there are two books in the series, but I’m hopeful more are on the way.


Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell.  My tween girls are IN LOVE with these books- these are Nikki’s diaries as she goes through moving to a new school  fighting for an iPhone with her mom, and other 8th grade struggles.


The Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger.  Tying into the popularity of the Star Wars franchise, Angleberger puts these characters into tweens mindsets and humorous situations, and gives instructions for how to create the origami versions both in the back of the books and on his website.


NERDS series by Michael Buckley.  The unpopular 5th graders aren’t what they seem- they’re actually running a secret spy ring within the school itself.  Transforming themselves into amazing super spy heroes, the outcomes are hilarious  and keep my tweens laughing.

 

Bone series by Jeff Smith.  First published in 2005, New York Times Bestseller, still extremely popular.  Just fair warning, however, that there may be “inappropriate subjects” (smoking and other issues do appear throughout the books)  


Artemis Fowl:  The Graphic Novel.  This one actually surprised me, because I hadn’t had anyone asking for the books, but they’ve really been asking for the graphic novel.  I think it’s great, and I’ve actually been able to turn some of the graphic novel readers into series readers while waiting for the read of the graphic novels to come out.  And it doesn’t help that I have the author’s page bookmarked where he does all eight books in eight minutes…


Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.  Babymouse can skew young, but my tweens can’t get enough.  The schoolhouse drama between Babymouse and her nemesis Felicia Furrypaws goes on and on and on, and the adventures seem endless!


Lunch Lady series by Jarrell J. Krosoczka.  Taking her Breakfast Brunch through a series of ongoing adventures is the brave Lunch Lady, fighting with weapons like the spatu-copter, the spork phone, GPS gum, ziti microscopes, and carrot thumb drives.  Like Babymouse, this series does skew on the younger side.


Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon.  Danny is unique, the only dragon, and is constantly getting into situations eerily similar to the ones that tweens face (having to watch a younger sibling and things go wrong, being bullied, etc.)  The humor laced throughout the books, as well as the as-is-well endings, gives this series’ off beat humor a home in tweens’ hearts.
 
 
What are your tweens reading?

My Tween top 10, from a tween’s point of view

For today’s Top 10, I thought we would dicuss MG lit (middle grade literature, for tweens ages 10-12ish – sometimes defined as ages 8-12ish).  So let’s ask a tween.  I conveniently happen to have one sitting around that I gave birth to.  And she loves to read.  So here’ what she is reading, and loving. And if you are still wondering what makes something MG as opposed to YA, check out this interesting blog post – with a graphic! – from Upstart Crow Literary.

10 Rules for Living with My Sister by Ann M. Martin

What I want you to know is that she loved this book so much that after she turned the last page and closed the book, she went and got 2 pieces of construction paper and created a list like those featured in the book which is now on her bedroom door.  Nobody told her to do it.  There was no school assignment involved.  She just did it.  It was an impressive look at how reading can inspire.

Tween take: It shows how sisters can be annoying and it is funny. I did the poster because there is one in the book and I wanted to see how me and my sister were alike and how we were different.  Making the poster was fun.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

We read this book aloud at nights, but it only took a couple of nights because we both loved it so much we kept reading.  Finally, the last night, we threw caution (and bedtimes) to the wind and just stayed up and finished the book.  Then we held each other and cried.  This is a great book for all ages actually and if you are a librarian, use it in programming and if you are a mom, spend a couple of nights snuggled up with your kids reading it out loud.  Reading this book aloud with my tween has been one of my favorite life moments; we were both really touched by the story.  Tween is a big animal lover. This is hands down one of my favorite MG titles of the year and again, I think everyone of every age should read it.

Tween take: It was sad, but in a good way.  I loved the ending but my mom says I can’t tell you why.

Judy Moody by Megan MacDonald

We have actually been a fan of these books for a while and the Tween is currently doing a re-read.  In fact, she read 5 this weekend.  She read them at the park, at the dinner table, pretty much non-stop.  Judy Moody is funny, inspiring and relatable.  Judy Moody fans (and all my Tween’s friends) also enjoy Clementine and Ivy & Bean.  Think old Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary titles.
Tween take: These books are very funny.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Come on, this one is no surprise.  Jeff Kinney gets it just right with the blend of humor and pathos, and those drawings really help.  This is the most read series in my house (multile times) and we even pre-ordered the most recent entry into the series.  There was begging involved.  And Scholastic book orders.

Tween take: Also very funny. 

Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

This book was not at all what the Tween and I were expecting – a Star Wars book.  It is in fact a humorous and touching story about a boy who just wants a little bit of attention and how his love of Star Wars helps him with that.  It is told in multiple points of view and presented as kind of a trial.  This is tremendously popular at my library, with my Tween and The Mr. even enjoys the series as well.

Tween take: They show team work and they are funny. 

Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

The Tween and I journeyed to meet Lauren Oliver earlier this year, and she has a signed copy of Leisl and Po.  I was excited when this new MG title came out by Oliver because I think that meeting her really opened the door to reading for my Tween.  This is another book that we started reading aloud together in bed at night and I finished on my own because I just couldn’t put it down.  Eventually the Tween always finishes it as well.  Look, you can’t really go wrong with Oliver.  She has some amazing storytelling skills and writes amazing MG fantasy.  Trust me and the Tween.

Tween take: It’s good, it’s good.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

This book was, of course, last week’s TLT Rec of the Week so you may know a lot about it at this point.  I will say this: as you can see by the tween’s list, she has a strong affection for funny, realistic MG fiction.  She is just now dipping her toes into fantasy, and she is very easily scared.  I wasn’t sure how she would do with this but she really liked it.

Tween take: It’s very spooky.

Wonder by R J Palacio

This is a book that every. single. person. on the planet should read.  It is the touching story of a boy who looks different (I often think of the move The Mask) and how the world reacts to him.  It is told from different points of view, including his, his sister’s and his sister’s boyfriend.  If this book doesn’t move you and make you really think, then you’ll want to retrace your steps and figure out where you left your heart behind.

Tween take: It’s a good book.  It shows how being different can be okay.

Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski

I actually got a signed copy of the ARC of this book for the tween at ALA, I can’t remember if it was midwinter or annual.  And like a lot of girls, she is of course interested in fairy tales and princesses.  We have seen every disney movie and both versions of Snow White that came out last year.  You could argue that taking her to see Snow White and the Huntsman was a little much, but she did pretty good with it – although she definitely preferred Mirror Mirror.  So, she immediately began reading this book and since she has finished I know that she has given it to at least two friends who have also read and enjoyed it.  This is a twisted fairy tale, which is very popular.  It was also just announced as bieng a Texas Blue Bonnet nominee.  And there is another book coming out soon.  We recommend it.

Tween take: Oh, that’s such a good book.  It shows how touching stuff you have never seen in your life can be bad.

The making of this list: The tween and I scoured her shelves and really talked about what she read, how she felt about it and why.  Then after I typed up the list and my experiences watching her read, I had her come in and give me her “Tween take”.  Please leave her a message in the comments and encourage her as a reader.

Some of her other favorites:
Fudge by Judy Blume
All those funny pet and bad pet stories sold by Scholastic
The Basher Science books sold by Scholastic
Baby Mouse and Bad Kitty
The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter (we listen to these on audio in the car)
Capture the Flag by Kate Messner
Tails of Sring Break by Anne Warren Smith
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari
The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks