Subscribe to SLJ
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Friday Finds: October 20, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Silhouette Cameo 101: The Manual It Doesn’t Come With, But Should (MakerSpace)

Book Review: Like Water by Rebecca Podos

Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

Book Review: Ruby & Olivia by Rachel Hawkins

TPiB: Easy Peasy DIY Jack-O-Lanterns

Book Review: Here, There, Everywhere by Julia Durango and Tyler Terrones

Around the Web

‘Doon’ series by Carie Corp, Lorie Langdon set to hit the small screen

New York City’s Libraries Will Forgive All Children’s Fines

Let’s talk about American Heart by Laura Moriarty.

In Defense of the Arts and Humanities in Our Public Schools


A Book Ban Like No Other


Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books

IMG_7423Now that I work in an elementary library, I’m reading a lot more titles for younger readers. Rather than review all of them like I usually do, especially as many are older, I’m going to steal Karen’s Post-it note review idea and share the titles with you that way. It’s been super interesting to me to see what the students (grades K through 5) check out. I’ve spent so long completely in the world of YA and am glad for an opportunity to work with younger readers and to read all of the great picture books, chapter books, and middle grade books I’ve missed out on!

Edward Bear says this was his favorite book, but it needed some dachshunds. 


Descriptions of the books are from the publisher.




Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence, Elizabet Vukovic (Illustrator)

The first book in a new chapter book series featuring a spunky Japanese-American heroine!

Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!

She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophiesomething special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before.

But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?




Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill, LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)

It’s the 1920s, and Bo was headed for an Alaska orphanage when she won the hearts of two tough gold miners who set out to raise her, enthusiastically helped by all the kind people of the nearby Eskimo village.

Bo learns Eskimo along with English, helps in the cookshack, learns to polka, and rides along with Big Annie and her dog team. There’s always some kind of excitement: Bo sees her first airplane, has a run-in with a bear, and meets a mysterious lost little boy.

Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill is an unforgettable story of a little girl growing up in the exhilarating time after the big Alaska gold rushes.


IMG_7468 (1)


Ghost (Defenders Track Team Series #1) by Jason Reynolds

A National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who sees something in Ghost: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?



Patina (Defenders Track Team Series #2) by Jason Reynolds
A newbie to the track team, Patina must learn to rely on her teammates as she tries to outrun her personal demons in this follow-up to the National Book Award finalist Ghost by New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Patina, or Patty, runs like a flash. She runs for many reasons—to escape the taunts from the kids at the fancy-schmancy new school she’s been sent to since she and her little sister had to stop living with their mom. She runs from the reason WHY she’s not able to live with her “real” mom any more: her mom has The Sugar, and Patty is terrified that the disease that took her mom’s legs will one day take her away forever. So Patty’s also running for her mom, who can’t. But can you ever really run away from any of this? As the stress builds up, it’s building up a pretty bad attitude as well. Coach won’t tolerate bad attitude. No day, no way. And now he wants Patty to run relay…where you have to depend on other people? How’s she going to do THAT?





Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm (Illustrator)

Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer.  At first she thought Florida might be fun — it is  the home of Disney World, after all.  But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park.  It’s full of . . . old people.  Really old people.

Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around.  She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own: facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors.  But the question remains — why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place?  The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer. . .



Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm (Illustrator)

Summer’s over and it’s time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she’s doing, she always tells him she’s fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time.

Not only is the whole middle school thing confusing . . . but life at home is confusing, too. Sunny misses her brother Dale, who’s been sent to boarding school. But when Dale comes back, she STILL misses him . . . because he’s changed.

Luckily Sunny’s got her best friend and a mysterious new neighbor on her side . . . because she is NOT going let all this confusion get her down. Instead, she’s going to remain Sunny-side up!




Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a touching look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.

Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day—until a plane struck the World Trade Center.

But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he hates and the grandmother he loves. Will’s father is gone, too, killed in a car accident that has left the family reeling. Naheed has never before felt uncomfortable about being Muslim, but at her new school she’s getting funny looks because of the head scarf she wears. Aimee is starting a new school in a new city and missing her mom, who has to fly to New York on business.

These four don’t know one another, but their lives are about to intersect in ways they never could have imagined. Award-winning author Nora Raleigh Baskin weaves together their stories into an unforgettable novel about that seemingly perfect September day—the day our world changed forever.




The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley


Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family’s bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can’t tell anyone who she really is. Elvin’s living on Harlem’s cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked.

When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin’s grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune — one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don’t find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved neighborhood will ever be the same . . .

In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, debut novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home.




Real Friends by Shannon Hale, LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

When best friends are not forever . . .

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?




Kristy’s Great Idea: Full Color Edition by Raina Telgemeier, Ann M. Martin 

Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are best friends and founding members of The Baby-sitters Club. Whatever comes up — cranky toddlers, huge dogs, scary neighbors, prank calls — you can count on them to save the day. Baby-sitting isn’t always easy, and neither is dealing with strict parents, new families, fashion emergencies, and mysterious secrets. But no matter what, the BSC have what they need most: friendship.

Raina Telgemeier, using the signature style featured in her acclaimed graphic novels Smile and Sisters, perfectly captures all the drama and humor of the original novel!



The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez

From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Pérez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.



Turn Left at the Cow by Lisa Bullard

Thirteen-year-old Trav has always wondered about his dead-before-he-was-born dad. But when he heads from California to his grandmother’s house in rural Minnesota, hoping to learn about his past, he gets more than he bargained for.
It turns out his dad was involved in a bank robbery right before he mysteriously disappeared, and the loot from the take is still missing. Along with Kenny and Iz, the kids next door, Trav embarks on a search for the cash. But the trio’s adventure quickly turns dangerous when it becomes clear that someone else is looking for the money—someone who won’t give up without a fight!

New and forthcoming YA and MG to have on your radar

tltbutton7Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething.

All descriptions from the publishers.



alls faireAll’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson (ISBN-13: 9780525429999 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/05/2017)

Calling all Raina Telgemeier fans! The Newbery Honor-winning author of Roller Girl is back with a heartwarming graphic novel about starting middle school, surviving your embarrassing family, and the Renaissance Faire.

Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind—she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.

As she did in Roller Girl, Victoria Jamieson perfectly—and authentically—captures the bittersweetness of middle school life with humor, warmth, and understanding.




night shiftNight Shift by Debi Gliori (ISBN-13: 9780451481733 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/05/2017)

From beloved author and illustrator Debi Gliori (No Matter What) comes Night Shift, a groundbreaking lushly illustrated picture book based on Gliori’s own personal history with depression.

Fighting dragons is one way of fighting depression. This book is another.

Through stunning black and white illustration and deceptively simple text, author and illustrator Debi Gliori provides a fascinating and absorbing portrait of depression and hope in Night Shift, a moving picture book about a young girl haunted by dragons. The young girl battles the dragons using ‘night skills': skills that give her both the ability to survive inside her own darkness and the knowledge that nothing—not even long, dark nights filled with monsters—will last forever.

Drawn from Gliori’s own experiences and struggles with depression, the book concludes with a moving author’s note explaining how depression has affected her and how she continues to cope. Gliori hopes that by sharing her own experience she can help others who suffer from depression, and to find that subtle shift that will show the way out.

A brave and powerful book, give Night Shift to dragon fighters young and old, and any reader who needs to know they’re not alone.



list ofA Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland (ISBN-13: 9780399546594 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/05/2017)

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.

Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.



warcrossWarcross by Marie Lu (ISBN-13: 9780399547966 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/12/2017)

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.



theres someoneThere’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins (ISBN-13: 9780525426011 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/26/2017)

It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she’s still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii.

Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.

Stephanie Perkins, bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss, returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.



that inevitableThat Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (ISBN-13: 9781101994979 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/03/2017)

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history. The imperial tradition of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage. But before she does her duty, she’ll have one summer of freedom and privacy in a far corner of empire. Posing as a commoner in Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire’s greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an extraordinary bond and maybe a one-in-a-million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process.

Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved not by the cost of blood and theft but by the effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a surprising, romantic, and thought-provoking story of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.


things i'mThings I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni (ISBN-13: 9780735228047 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/03/2017)

Fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and All the Bright Places will laugh and cry as they read this heartbreaking and life-affirming novel about love after the most profound loss.

Seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler has just dropped out of high school. She can barely function after learning of Jonah’s death. Jonah, the boy she’d traded banter with over texts and heartfelt e-mails.

Jonah, the first boy she’d told she loved and the first boy to say it back.

Jonah, the boy whose suicide she never saw coming.

Tess continues to write to Jonah, as a way of processing her grief and confusion. But for now she finds solace in perhaps the unlikeliest of ways: by helping her father with his new alternative funeral business, where his biggest client is . . . a prized racehorse?

As Tess’s involvement in her father’s business grows, both find comfort in the clients they serve and in each other. But love, loss, and life are so much more complicated than Tess ever thought. Especially after she receives a message that turns her life upside down.

Funny, heartbreaking, hopeful, and wondrous, in the vein of Six Feet Under and I’ll Give You the SunThings I’m Seeing Without You is a beautiful examination of what it means to love someone, to lose someone, and to love again.



cucumber questCucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G. (ISBN-13: 9781626728325 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 10/10/2017 Series: Cucumber Quest Series #1)

What happens when an evil queen gets her hands on an ancient force of destruction?

World domination, obviously.

The seven kingdoms of Dreamside need a legendary hero. Instead, they’ll have to settle for Cucumber, a nerdy magician who just wants to go to school. As destiny would have it, he and his way more heroic sister, Almond, must now seek the Dream Sword, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Queen Cordelia’s Nightmare Knight.

Can these bunny siblings really save the world in its darkest hour?

Sure, why not?

Adapted from the popular webcomic series, Cucumber Quest, The Doughnut Kingdom is the first graphic novel of a clever, adorable, and hilarious four-volume heroic adventure that is sure to make you hungry for sweets and action.


sparrowSparrow by Sarah Moon (ISBN-13: 9781338032581 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/10/2017)

Sparrow has always had a difficult time making friends. She would always rather have stayed home on the weekends with her mother, an affluent IT Executive at a Brooklyn bank, reading, or watching the birds, than playing with other kids. And that’s made school a lonely experience for her. It’s made LIFE a lonely experience.

But when the one teacher who really understood her — Mrs. Wexler, the school librarian, a woman who let her eat her lunch in the library office rather than hide in a bathroom stall, a woman who shared her passion for novels and knew just the ones she’d love — is killed in a freak car accident, Sparrow’s world unravels and she’s found on the roof of her school in an apparent suicide attempt.

With the help of an insightful therapist, Sparrow finally reveals the truth of her inner life. And it’s here that she discovers an outlet in Rock & Roll music…



scarecrowThe Scarecrow Queen: A Sin Eater’s Daughter Novel by Melinda Salisbury (ISBN-13: 9781338192957 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/31/2017)

The final battle is coming . . .

As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever . . .

Explosive, rich and darkly addictive, this is the stunning conclusion to Mel Salisbury’s internationally best-selling trilogy that began with The Sin Eater’s Daughter.




eat your feelingsEat Your Feelings: The Food Mood Girl’s Guide to Transforming Your Emotional Eating by Lindsey Smith (ISBN-13: 9781250139412 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 01/02/2018)

Lindsey Smith, The Food Mood Girl, shows how you can transform your lifestyle by learning from your cravings and using mood-boosting ingredients every day

Blending together Lindsey Smith’s passion for health and wellness, food and humor, Eat Your Feelings is a humorous, lighthearted take on your typical diet book.

Busy young professionals wrestle with long hours, an exhausting dating culture, and the stress of the modern world. As days whiz by, it’s normal to gravitate toward food—a quick slice of pizza, a chocolate bar, or a bag of chips—that fulfills a craving of the moment or gives a quick energy boost. And this impulse makes sense. Food gives us a sense of pleasure and joy. It can provide us with satisfaction and comfort. Food can awaken each of our senses to something new each time we eat. It gives us energy, and quite literally sustains life as we know it. It should be emotional.

If you are feeling sad, stressed, exhausted, hangry, or bored, it’s comforting to eat dishes you love and crave. But Lindsey Smith shows how simple it is to make those same meals and snacks with mood-boosting ingredients that will physically nourish instead of processed foods. In Eat Your Feelings, Lindsey Smith, the Food Mood Girl, will look at ways to eat healthy food based on what people tend to crave the most during heightened emotional states, introducing recipes with crunchy, cheesy, creamy, sweet, and salty themes and drink alternatives for those who tend to chug soda or coffee when all worked up.

It’s crucial to listen to your cravings: they are the gatekeepers that unlock the secrets to our unique bodies. But a major element of the Food Mood lifestyle is love, and revolutionizing the way you treat your body and your cravings will not only rid yourself of hanger pains but will also teach you how to listen and respond to your body with healthy ingredients and recipes.



girl on pointeGirl on Pointe: Chloe’s Guide to Taking on the World by Chloe Lukasiak (ISBN-13: 9781681197371 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/23/2018)

Chloe Lukasiak is a big believer that things happen for a reason. She knows that life would be easier without disappointments, bullying, and medical issues-but sometimes it takes challenges to inspire you to achieve big things. From her status as fan favorite on the hit reality television show Dance Moms through her life as a social media star with millions of fans, Chloe has found that self-acceptance and kindness are the key to getting over the rough spots in life and realizing your passions. This full-color, heavily designed book featuring never-before-seen photos, inspirational quotes, and Chloe’s own doodles and poetry offers exclusive insight into Chloe’s world as well as a message that will inspire all readers to be their very best selves.



art of

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis (ISBN-13: 9780062659002 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/30/2018)

Based on the author’s own childhood, this is a raw, powerful, but ultimately uplifting debut novel about an immigrant Greek boy coming to terms with his sexuality in an abusive household, from television personality Angelo Surmelis.

Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.

Tired, isolated, scared—Evan’s only escape is drawing in an abandoned church that feels as lonely as he is. And, yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. It’s Henry who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he’s more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. But as things with Henry heat up and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by avoiding attention at all costs.



elenaThe Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson (ISBN-13: 9781481498548 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 02/06/2018)

From the critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe comes a mind-bending, riveting novel about a teen who was born to a virgin mother and realizes she has the power to heal—but that power comes at a huge cost.

Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.

This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.

As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.


where i liveWhere I Live by Brenda Rufener (ISBN-13: 9780062571090 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 02/27/2018)

From debut author Brenda Rufener comes a heart-wrenching and evocative story perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why, Girl in Pieces, and All the Bright Places.

Linden Rose has a big secret—she is homeless and living in the halls of her small-town high school. Her position as school blog editor, her best friends, Ham and Seung, and the promise of a future far away are what keep Linden under the radar and moving forward.

But when cool-girl Bea comes to school with a bloody lip, the damage hits too close to home. Linden begins looking at Bea’s life, and soon her investigation prompts people to pay more attention. And attention is the last thing she needs.

Linden knows the only way to put a stop to the violence is to tell Bea’s story and come to terms with her own painful past. Even if that means breaking her rules for survival and jeopardizing the secrets she’s worked so hard to keep.



this heart of mineThis Heart of Mine by C. C. Hunter (ISBN-13: 9781250131652 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 02/27/2018)

A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living, took more courage than dying?

This Heart of Mine is a haunting, poignant tale about living and dying, surviving grief, guilt, and heartache, while discovering love and hope in the midst of sadness.



poet XThe Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (ISBN-13: 9780062662804 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 03/06/2018)

Fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds will fall hard for this astonishing #ownvoices novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.  But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.



no filterNo Filter by Orlagh Collins (ISBN-13: 9781681197241 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 03/06/2018)

This poignant, sweepingly romantic debut novel told in dual POVs is perfect for fans of Everything, Everything and All the Bright Places.

Anyone who follows Emerald on her social media accounts only sees a perfect life–her loving, wealthy family, tight-knit group of friends, and devoted internet following. But the truth hides behind the scenes of her perfectly framed, filtered photos. . . Emerald’s family is far from happy, and when she finds her mom unconscious on the bathroom floor, she can no longer keep it a secret.

Sent to stay with her grandmother in an isolated beach town with spotty wi-fi while her mother recovers and her father works non-stop, Emerald fears the long, lonely summer ahead of her. Then she meets Liam, an aspiring songwriter with his own troubles, and neither of them can deny their connection. But with secrets and lies all that they’re used to, can they really fall for each other–brave and true–with no filter?


in sight ofIn Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner (ISBN-13: 9781250143839 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication date: 03/13/2018)
An emotional, full-hearted teen novel about love, loss, and mental health from award-winning author, Gae Polisner.

Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He introduced Klee to the great museums of New York City and the important artists on their walls, he told him stories made of myths and magic. Until his death.

Now, forced to live in the suburbs with his mom, Klee can’t help but feel he’s lost all the identifying parts of himself—his beloved father, weekly trips to the MoMA, and the thrumming energy of New York City. That is until he meets wild and free Sarah in art class, with her quick smiles and jokes about his “brooding.” Suddenly it seems as if she’s the only thing that makes him happy. But when an act of betrayal sends him reeling, Klee lands in what is bitingly referred to as the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens in Northollow.

While there, he undergoes intensive therapy and goes back over the pieces of his life to find out what was real, what wasn’t, and whether he can stand on his own feet again. Told in alternating timelines, leading up to the event that gets him committed and working towards getting back out, Gae Polisner’s In Sight of Stars is a gorgeous novel told in minimalist strokes to maximal effect, about what makes us fall apart and how we can put ourselves back together again.



image notNow a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy (ISBN-13: 9781492652380 Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire Publication date: 04/01/2018)

Fandom and first love collide for Iris on the film set for her grandmother’s famous high-fantasy triology—perfect for readers of Fangirl!

Unlike the rest of the world, Iris doesn’t care about the famous high-fantasy Elementia books written by M. E. Thorne. So it’s just a little annoying that M. E. Thorne is her grandmother—and that Iris has to deal with the trilogy’s crazy fans.

When Iris gets dropped in Ireland for the movie adaptation, she sees her opportunity: if she can shut down production, the Elementia craze won’t grow any bigger, and she can finally have a normal life. Not even the rascally-cute actor Eamon O’Brien can get in her way.

But the crew’s passion is contagious, and as Iris begins to find herself in the very world she has avoided her whole life, she realizes that this movie might just be amazing…



life insideLife Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles by Jessica Burkhart (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781481494649 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 04/10/2018)

Your favorite YA authors including Kami Garcia, Ellen Hopkins, Maureen Johnson, and more recount their own experiences with mental illness in this raw, real, and powerful collection of essays that explores everything from ADD to PTSD.

Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t get out of bed? Not the occasional morning, but every day? Do you find yourself listening to a voice in your head that says “you’re not good enough,” “not good looking enough,” “not thin enough,” or “not smart enough”? Have you ever found yourself unable to do homework or pay attention in class unless everything is “just so” on your desk? Everyone has had days like that, but what if you have them every day?

You’re not alone. Millions of people are going through similar things. However issues around mental health still tend to be treated as something shrouded in shame or discussed in whispers. It’s easier to have a broken bone—something tangible that can be “fixed”—than to have a mental illness, and easier to have a discussion about sex than it is to have one about mental health.

Life Inside My Head is an anthology of true-life events from writers of this generation, for this generation. These essays tackle everything from neurodiversity to addiction to OCD to PTSD and much more. The goals of this book range from providing home to those who are feeling alone, awareness to those who are witnessing a friend or family member struggle, and to open the floodgates to conversation.

Participating writers include E.K. Anderson, J.L. Armentrout, Cyn Balog, Amber Benson, Francesca Lia Block, Jessica Burkhart, Crissa Chappell, Sarah Fine, Kelly Fiore, Candace Ganger, Kami Garcia, Meghan Kelley Hall, Cynthia Hand, Ellen Hopkins, Maureen Johnson, Tara Kelly, Bennett Madison, Karen Mahoney, Melissa Marr, Kim McCreight, Hannah Moskowitz, Scott Neumyer, Lauren Oliver, Aprilynne Pike, Tom Pollack, Amy Reed, Cindy Rodriquez, Francisco Stork, Wendy Tolliver, Rob Wells, Dan Wells, Rachel Wilson, and Sara Zarr.




Breaking Barriers: Wonder Woman and the Bold Women of Medicine, a guest post by Susan M. Latta

bold womenWonder Woman is a strong female comic book character but there is more to her than muscle. She boldly and intelligently outsmarted her enemies. When Warner Bros./DC Comics blockbuster movie Wonder Woman came out earlier this summer I began to think about the characteristics shared between Wonder Woman and the women in my YA nonfiction book Bold Women of Medicine: 21 Stories of Astounding Discoveries, Daring Surgeries, and Healing Breakthroughs, Chicago Review Press. (For Amanda’s review of this title, please pop on over here.)


Wonder Woman and the Bold Women of Medicine were controversial when they first appeared and remain so today. They were both unrestrained by the social norms of the era. The women medical pioneers weren’t supposed to be interested in science or medicine; many men and women considered these subjects much too advanced or gruesome for a woman. The treatments medical women perfected; whether it was Sister Elizabeth Kenny’s polio treatment, or Helen Taussig’s research in treating babies with serious heart defects, or Virginia Apgar’s assessment of newborn health, all proved that women could and did have a stake in medicine.


In 1939, Superman starred in the first comic book to showcase just one character, followed by Batman later that same year. And in 1941, Wonder Woman, an Amazon who hailed from an island of women only “came to the United States to fight for peace, justice, and women’s rights.”[i] Much like Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman also had a secret identity as a shy secretary named Diana Prince.  But as Wonder Woman, she was resilient.  And what more could the world want than a strong female character that still possessed tenderness and compassion.


William Moulton Marston, a trained psychologist, expert in lie detection, and a man influenced by several strong women including Margaret Sanger, (who heavily influenced the comic book character) created Wonder Woman. He was raised by strong women and predicted that one day women would rule the world.


The original inspiration behind Wonder Woman was women’s fight for equal rights. Marston believed that a woman must break the “chains” and free herself. And the same went for Wonder Woman except that if she didn’t use her power for the greater good, she’d be forced to return to weakness (and chains).


Clara Barton, 1904 (Library of Congress)

Clara Barton, 1904 (Library of Congress)

Wonder Woman was more than just a comic when she first appeared, included in each issue was a feature titled, “Wonder Women of History.” This insert heralded a real life heroic woman who possessed the same Wonder Woman qualities of “daring, strength, and ingenuity,” that in the early 1940s, qualities that were not usually attributed to women. Incidentally, Florence Nightingale was the first “Wonder Woman of History,” followed by Clara Barton, and Elizabeth Blackwell, all three of which I profiled in my book Bold Women of Medicine.

The bold women of medicine displayed strength in the ways they pursued science and medicine. Many of the medical pioneers shied away from the tenderness Wonder Woman exposed, and in that way, they are different. When women first entered the male-dominated medical world, they felt they had to be void of emotion because they believed that was the only way they would succeed.


Mary E. Walker in Dress Pants Uniform [Credit] Wikimedia Commons

Mary E. Walker in Dress Pants Uniform [Credit] Wikimedia Commons

Marie Zakrzewska, nicknamed Dr. Zak because she tired of Americans mispronouncing her name, was the third woman to be granted a medical degree in the United States. She was initially not promoted in her first career as a midwife because the professors believed she had a snippy nature and angered too quickly. But she did not behave any differently than the men, her “fault” was that she was a woman.  Dr. Zak (almost sounds like a superhero), pushed women to become scientific thinkers and not rely on traditional female qualities of comfort and nurture to care for the sick. She believed woman must behave as “male physicians” or they wouldn’t succeed.

Mary Edwards Walker, a civil war surgeon, refused to be constricted by clothing traditions of the 1800s. She donned pants, covered by a long coat-like dress. Mary didn’t care what others thought of her; she only wanted to serve. She was the only woman ever to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, which in fact was stripped from her shortly before she died because she didn’t meet the combat qualifications. The medal was restored to her posthumously in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter.


Edna Adan Ismail with nursing graduates of the Edna Adan Maternity and Children's Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland

Edna Adan Ismail with nursing graduates of the Edna Adan Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland

Like Wonder Woman, many of the Bold Women of Medicine do practice both the rigors of science and the art of compassion. Dr. Catherine Hamlin and Midwife Edna Adan Ismail, both still practicing, see women being mistreated every day and do their utmost to both stop the abuse and heal with surgery and care. Dr. Sister Anne Brooks, an osteopathic physician who is also a nun, before her recent retirement, fought illness with both touch and tough love. She provided education to the poverty-stricken citizens of Tutwiler, Mississippi so that they could return to good health. But if they didn’t comply, her blatant question was “to ask them if they’ve bought their coffin yet.”


Bertha Van Hoosen, 1948.[Credit]Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm

Bertha Van Hoosen, 1948.[Credit]Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm

The Bold Women of Medicine believed that they had every right to pursue the study of science, even though men didn’t believe women could handle the difficulty of a medical education. If women were admitted to lecture hall and surgical theaters, it was believed they might “contaminate” the male students. Many of the male and female medical students fainted while watching surgeries and Bertha Van Hoosen was one of those women. She said, “I am not only going [into the surgical amphitheater] but I am going to stay until I faint, and when I come to, I am going to remain, no matter how many times I faint.”





As I researched these women, I found that perseverance was a common trait. Yes, they were smart and well educated but they never gave up. Every one of them fought or still fights insurmountable odds, and that is what I admire most about them. Even today there are ongoing challenges for women in medicine, especially in terms of wages. The 2016 Medscape Physician Compensation Report states that overall, women physicians make 24 percent less than their male peers.


Dr Catherine Hamlin with trainee midwives at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital, Ethiopia 2009. Photo: Lucy Horodny, AusAID

Dr Catherine Hamlin with trainee midwives at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital, Ethiopia 2009. Photo: Lucy Horodny, AusAID

Each new generation of women in medicine leads the way, encouraging more women to choose work in a health-care field. The bold women of medicine don’t have Wonder Woman’s special powers, but they work diligently to become today’s real-life wonder women.






[i] Lepore, Jill. The Secret History of Wonder Woman. New York: Vintage Books, A Division of Penguin Random House, 2014, Introduction.


Meet Susan M. Latta

Photo Credit: Sarah Pierce

Photo Credit: Sarah Pierce

Susan Latta earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Mass Communications from Iowa State University and her masters in business administration from Drake University. She has worked in several fields including advertising for a large agency in St. Louis, Missouri, and in marketing and finance for the family business, McGarvey Coffee in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She earned a master of fine arts in writing for children and young adults from Hamline University. In addition to Bold Women of Medicine, Susan has written on history, biography, and geography for Appleseeds and Faces magazines and completed freelance work for Heinemann Leveled Books and ABDO Publishing. Susan has three adult children and lives with her husband and two Golden Retrievers in Edina, Minnesota.

Connect with Susan online: 

Twitter @lattasusan, Instagram suslat, Facebook Susan McGarvey Latta

Librarian Humor: Regional Picture Books You Never See in the Library, but Maybe Should


In the spirit of books like B is for Buckeye: an Ohio Alphabet book, I present to you a little bit of librarian humor. This was inspired by my child who stood in an ant hill while watching the homecoming parade on Saturday. For those of you not from Texas, ants are a real problem here in Texas. You can be standing where it appears there are no ants in sight and suddenly find yourself under attack. They swarm, they bite, and it is awful. Later you get a little white head full of puss on your bite and it itches. A lot. So I tweeted this after it happened:

I then invited everyone on Twitter to join in on the fun, and they did not disappoint. Here’s a look at some of our fun Regional Picture Books that you never see in the library, but maybe should.
Regional Picture Books//

  1. Regional picture books you never see

    I accidentally stood in an ant hill: A Texas Childhood

    What would your region's be?

  2. @TLT16 OK, one more.
    This Isn't From Whole Foods So I Won't Eat It: Autobiography of a Picky Northern California Child.

  3. @TLT16 a picture book for young Chicagoans featuring a parking ticket ala "I'm just a bill" #regionalpicturebooks

  4. @leslie_kuo @TLT16 Wait, I Was Eating What? An Adult Learns Things About Her Military Childhood From Twitter #RegionalPictureBooks

  5. @TLT16 Snakes eat breakfast too! (Your toes would do, so wear your shoe) S. Fla #regionalpicturebooks

  6. @TLT16 Texas Wildlife: Bites & Stings featuring: Fire ants, mosquitos, cotton mouths, scorpions and alligators


  7. Why is everyone buying toilet paper, milk and bread? A Virginia snow story #RegionalPictureBooks

  8. The Place Where No One Knew How to Drive in the Rain: A DC Metro Area Travel Tale #RegionalPictureBooks

  9. @TLT16 Listening to strangers ask "isn't Delaware part of Pennsylvania?": A First State childhood #RegionalPictureBooks


Sunday Reflections: On Having a Growth Mindset

tltbutton5If you follow me on Twitter, you may already know that I have recently acquired a ukulele.

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 1.30.51 PM


This marks a rather startling change in my life. Well, actually, attending a workshop titled Ukuleles in Storytime was probably when the change occurred. I’m not entirely sure why I signed up for that pre conference session, except that it sounded like it could be fun. You see, for most of my life I’ve had a very fixed mindset about playing an instrument. I can’t do it. I can sing, but I can’t read music or play an instrument. I’ve tried a couple of times, without much success. Of course, before now I lacked any motivation. There’s nothing like an adoring audience of 3 to 5 year olds to motivate you to learn new things. So I’ve decided I can do it. I can learn to play the ukulele, at least well enough to entertain my group of storytime regulars. I

The last few years I spent in the school library I heard a lot about having a growth mindset, and how important it is for children to have one. You can read more about it here. A fixed mindset – the belief that you can’t do something – limits your potential. It’s an easy trap to fall into. How many of us know someone who will willingly state “I can’t do math.”

But it’s not just a problem for children. It’s a problem for us, too. How many things, really worthwhile things, do you regularly avoid because you honestly believe you’re no good at them? And what will it take to motivate you to overcome that belief? I look forward to hearing your stories. Anyway…back to the Hokey Pokey.

Sunday Reflections: How to Help those affected by Hurricane Harvey

tltbutton5Although my family lives in the state of Texas, we are far enough inland and away from the storm that we are not being affected. We are expected to have rain through all this week and there is a flood warning in effect, but it will be nothing compared to what is happening in the South. The people in Southern Texas are going to need a lot of help in the coming days, weeks, months and I am trying to compile resources for those who would like to help. Please note, I have seen it mentioned multiple times that you should donate to local resources if you can to help make sure the money gets directly to the people impacted by this devastating storm.

Specific Kid/YA Lit and Library Related Aid:

KidLit Cares: Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort – Kate Messner

Disaster Relief and Support for Libraries | Texas Library Association

Additional Types of Aid:

Helping Out After Hurricane Harvey: Where, What & How To Donate

Here’s How To Help The Victims Of Hurricane Harvey | HuffPost

Aid Hurricane Harvey victims – CNN

Houston mayor establishes Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund |

How to Help the Victims of Hurricane Harvey : Teen Vogue

If you are not in a position to donate money, please consider donating blood if you are able. Also remember that many pets and animals will be impacted so consider donating things like pet food as well.

If you know of additional resources, please add them in the comments.

Recently in Book Mail

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 7.48.21 AMBook mail has picked up considerably – all of these have arrived on my doorstep within the last two weeks. I’m not entirely sure why things have picked up, but I am also admittedly not an expert on publishing and its seasons. But who’s complaining? I guess my one complaint is that I don’t have enough time to read all of these. If there is anything in particular that jumps out at you, feel free to let me know in the comments. Here are a few highlights:


Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 7.53.12 AM

Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

The sequel to the highly praised novel The Jumbies takes Corinne and her friends on another spine-tingling adventure under the sea.

Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.

To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. The only thing more perilous than Corinne’s adventures across the sea is the foe that waits for her back home.

With its action-packed storytelling, diverse characters, and inventive twists on Caribbean and West African mythology and fairy tales, Rise of the Jumbieswill appeal to readers of A Snicker of Magic, A Tale Dark and Grimm, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 7.57.57 AMSwing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm , illustrated by Matthew Holm

In the mid-1970s Sunny Lewin is back, star of her personal show, facing the prospect of Middle School, and dealing with the problems of her somewhat dysfunctional family — in particular her older brother, Dale, who has been sent off to a military academy because of his delinquent behavior.


Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo

This beautiful, collectible book is the story of The Wizard of Oz retold from the perspective of Toto the dog, written by master storyteller Michael Morpurgo, and illustrated in full, glorious technicolour by the sensational Emma Chichester Clark.

The winning pairing of Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark had huge success with their re-telling of Pinocchio and are set to create another instant hit with this must-have gift for every child of seven or over (and children at heart).

Toto is a charming, funny, characterful retelling of the classic story of The Wizard of Oz, all told through the eyes of Toto the dog, whose wit and charm suffuse the book.

All the favourites are there: Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion, in a tale that is wonderfully familiar, but full of surprises too, as Michael Morpurgo brings his inimitable storytelling talents to this beloved story. The always-hungry Toto, obsessed with sausages, is a loveable and loyal narrator, and gives a unique spin on one of the most original stories of all time!

Emma Chichester Clark, famously a dog-owner with an illustrative blog about her own Plum Dog, brings amazing, lush colour illustrations to the book, conjuring this vivid story to unforgettable life.


Tumble & Blue by CASSIE BEASLEY


The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (No publisher’s summary available.)

My thoughts are mixed on these titles. I didn’t read the first Jumbies book, and I’m usually reluctant to read sequels if I haven’t read the others, but I’ve heard such good things about these books. I did read Sunny Side Up and enjoyed it, so will probably be reading the sequel. The last sequel I’ve highlighted, The Silver Mask, has no publisher’s summary available, which isn’t that surprising considering how full of twists and surprise this series is – and how reliant it is upon them. I’ve read books one and two of the Magisterium series, and will probably invest in books three and four eventually. I’m not certain how to feel about Toto. Michael Morpurgo is a fantastic writer, but I’m not a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz in general. This is probably a second tier choice for me.

Finally, the title I’m most conflicted about is Tumble & Blue. I sincerely disliked Circus Mirandus, although I thought it was well written. (I know that’s an unpopular opinion *shrugs*.) On the other hand, I felt the same way about Kelly Barnhill’s The Witch’s Boy, and yet fell in love with The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I can only hope it will be another of those situations.

Sunday Reflections: At Least They’re Coming to the Library ISN’T Always the Right Idea

tltbutton5Yesterday 95 people came into my library asking about solar eclipse glasses. The day before it was 75. I wasn’t there either day, but the Circulation staff started keeping track. That’s 170 people who came into the library and walked away empty handed. That’s a lot of negative experiences for patrons and staff both.

We did have solar eclipse glasses. We gave out roughly 1,000 pairs beginning on August 14th, first come first served while supplies last. They were gone in less than an hour. And yet all week long they read online or heard from their friends that they could go to the library to get solar eclipse glasses. The media kept pushing the narrative that you could get solar eclipse at the library, and many libraries have been struggling this week with this very same scenario.

I’ve seen several of my fellow librarians comment that well at least they’re coming into the library. But I maintain that this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Yes, they’re coming into the library, but many of them are leaving empty handed and upset and this is a bad thing. In their mind, we failed to deliver this one time they finally came to us for something and for many people, they won’t be coming back. They came to us, we failed to deliver, and now we’ve broken trust.

This is not the first time something like this has happened to libraries. We are often a victim of the infamous “They”. It goes something like this.

Patron: They said that you have x, y or z.

Staff: I’m sorry, but we don’t have that.

Patron: But THEY said you did, that I could get it at the local public library.

Staff: Well, THEY don’t work here, and I’m sorry but we don’t have that. (We don’t really say this, we just think it in our head. We always do our best to try and satisfy the patron or re-direct them to someone who can genuinely help them.)

We can try and offer an alternative solution. For example, we can have a handout prepared with solar eclipse information and a DIY tutorial for making your own solar eclipse glasses. But for those people who want solar eclipse glasses and want them now, this will not be a way to satisfy them. We’ll do our best, as we always do. But the truth is, for some people this is the first time they have come to us for something and we have failed them. They’re not coming back. And that’s too bad. Because we have lots to offer, but it can be hard to come back from a negative experience.

We can’t always control the narrative, unfortunately. Though we need to work really hard to do so. But this is another one of those moments when forces outside of the library put the library in a really unfortunate position. The solar eclipse is tomorrow, and patrons will stop coming in and asking for eclipse glasses. But I hope they keep coming in and asking for things we can provide for them, because we have lots to offer and we work hard at it.

A Grief Moderated: Middle Grade Fiction for Young Readers Dealing with Loss – Guest Post by Kerry Sutherland

middlegrademondayMost tweens and young teens have experienced death, perhaps of a distant, elderly relative or of a beloved pet. What about those who have lost a parent, sibling, or close friend? When a teacher, guidance counselor, or concerned adult approaches us for recommendations for middle grade fiction that will support the management of the complicated emotional and social issues only a child who is suffering over the death of a someone close to them can understand, here are a few recent titles with characters who are on the same difficult journey as these young readers.

Five Elements series by Dan Jolley

Twelve-year-old Gabe has lived with his Uncle Steve since his parents died in a car wreck when he was three, so when Gabe and his friends disobey his uncle’s orders and create a dangerous situation for them all, Gabe feels responsible for his uncle’s ensuing disappearance. His quest to find his uncle as well as the hope that his mother may be alive in an evil shadow dimension creates emotional drama within the adventure this group of Elementalist friends undertakes. Gabe’s friend Brett brings along some devastating emotional baggage of his own: he blames himself for the drowning of his older brother Charlie while the two of them were the only ones in a boat together (“he knew it was his fault”) and is sure that his family hates him for their loss. His overwhelming guilt (“more than he can handle”) leaves him open to manipulation, as this fantasy series deals with much more than fictional monsters and powerful artifacts. As his twin sister Lily stands by him through the dangers they face, the greatest support she offers him is the acceptance of the reality they face in a future without their brother, because “no matter what we do, Charlie’s still gone.”

 The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

Convalescing in a hospital for children with tuberculosis in World War II England, twelve-year-old Emmaline sees what no one else in the converted mansion can see: winged horses in mirrors. The Horse Lord, who asks for Emmaline’s help to keep an injured horse, Foxfire, safe, tells Emmaline in a letter that “death isn’t the end,” but what Emmaline discovers after her closest friend dies and her obsession with the horses hits an overwhelming pitch is horrifying for both her and readers. She endangers her own life to protect Foxfire, but she finds out that the sister and parents with whom she has been looking forward to reuniting died in a fire before she came to Briar Hill, and as the only survivor, she has somehow blocked her memories of the tragedy, as well as her helplessness to save those she loved most. As she struggles for her own life through her illness, she has the chance to carry the hope and strength she feels when she is with Foxfire into reality and share it with other children who are sick and alone. She knows that “certain special people who die before their time become winged horses,” so her desire to help Foxfire is clearly an attempt to atone for her failure to save her family. This bittersweet story seems like a sure hit for girls who love horses, but the depth of Emmaline’s grief is revealed in the suppression of her memories, a coping mechanism that some young readers may relate to and need help working through as they manage their grief.

The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano

When ten-year-old Emmaline’s mother dies, her father is unable to let go, holding them both hostage to his grief, as “it seemed as though everything else had died” with his wife. He crafts a machine that he is sure will bring her back, ignoring his living child for two years as he pours his love and time into a dream of the past. Emmaline hates the machine and what it has done, reprimanding him for not accepting the finality of death, essentially reversing roles and pressing him to take care of her and practical matters as a parent should. The machine proves itself by using memories to provide a few moments with a loved one, but Emmaline knows that memories are irreplaceable, and while she misses her mother, she is thrown into a new grief when one of her close friends drowns as they are ice skating together. The brief time she takes to cry for her mother distracts her from Oliver, as she and Oliver’s brother Gully leave Oliver behind when Emmaline becomes upset over Oliver’s comments about the machine. The two share the guilt and forge ahead, leaning on each other with a hard lesson learned that “everything could be taken away in heartbeat.” Memories are vital, but holding on to the past keeps us from continuing to live and love in the present and future: “if someone was still close enough to hold on to, then you should hold on.” This story is a heartbreaking reality of emotions packaged in a fantasy, much like the author’s other titles, most of which speak to grief in accessible ways.

More titles that may be helpful for young readers dealing with grief:

Waiting for Augusta by Jessica Lawson (death of father)

Lemons by Melissa Savage (death of mother)

Jelly Bean Summer by Joyce Magnin (brother who is MIA)

Stay by Katherine Lawrence (father is dying of cancer, protagonist speaks to twin brother, who died in utero)

The Kane Chronicles trilogy by Rick Riordan (death of mother is a motivating force in the Kane siblings’ quest)

Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger (death of adoptive parents’ daughter in the past affects protagonist’s relationship with her new family)


Kerry Sutherland is the young adult librarian at the Ellet branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library in Akron, Ohio. She has a PhD in American literature from Kent State University, along with a MLIS from the same. She reviews middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction for School Library Journal, and is a published author of short fiction, novels, poetry, professional and academic work. She loves cats, Shadowhunters, Henry James, anime, and NASCAR.

Twitter: @catfriends

Instagram: @superpurry