Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Teaching RevolTeens How to Go Farther – Together , by Teen Librarian Christine Lively

From the time teens are born, their families and then their teachers celebrate, measure, and mark their lives based on what they can do “all by themselves.” Achievements are more important when they’re accomplished alone. The message is, “It’s only worth celebrating when you’ve done it without any help.”

We need to change the way we measure achievement. Finding and accepting help is something that RevolTeens do all the time in their quest to change the world. They don’t insist on doing it alone. Asking for help should be celebrated and lauded.

So many teens hit a brick wall at some point. Some of the crises they will face may center on academics, relationships, health, and opportunities. Tackling problems in any of these areas, and especially in a crisis, requires outside help. However, young people who have been conditioned to believe they should be able to tackle everything “all by themselves” often view asking for help as a sign of weakness and a cause for shame. Those teens suffer pain, and embarrassment that could largely be avoided. We need to start teaching kids, from a young age, to ask for help and that accomplishments achieved with outside help, are often life’s greatest wins. Building communities of support is often the difference between a teen thriving or struggling.


Mental health issues plague so many of us at some point in our lives. I am a young adult life coach and high school librarian. I’ve worked in middle and high schools for over a decade. I have three kids of my own who are 23, 20, and 17 years old, and one thing I know is that every kid I’ve worked with has needed to ask for help. Not all of them have asked and they suffer as a result. Kids are told that mental health problems can be life threatening and they’re instructed to keep an eye out for their own struggles and those of their friends. They’re given wonderful and well meaning information about the resources available – school counselors, therapists, and life coaches. They know all this, but they also have been told that they can do anything they set their minds to “all by themselves” dozens, if not hundreds of times since they were babies. As a result, asking for help sounds a lot like failure.

Teens who question the world around them and who challenge authority need allies and community around them. Those who recruit people to help them talk through ideas learn more about the world they’re questioning, and to help with their work will go farther and accomplish more together. Working together to achieve a goal is a critical skill that teens should be able to practice more often. This column has profiled dozens of RevolTeens who have been successful when they ask for help and work with their communities. Whether organizing marches to demand that Black Lives Matter, or working with friends to deliver groceries to elderly neighbors, or curating art exhibits to ensure greater diversity, the teens who successfully change the world do so with help from many others.

The COVID pandemic is making isolation a way of life for teens. According to the New York Times “Since the start of the pandemic, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has heard from many young adults experiencing anxiety and depression, which the organization attributes partly to social isolation. The group has cautioned parents and teachers to look for warning signs, including severe risk-taking behavior, significant weight loss, excessive use of drugs or alcohol and drastic changes in mood.” Now, more than ever, teens need to know that the support and help they need is still out there for them, even though they don’t see the helpers in their isolation.

Any successful social movement, campaign, or revolutionary change happens when people work together to help each other. RevolTeens need to be reminded that they don’t have to change their world alone. There are people who are ready to help them achieve their dreams from school counselors, coaches, teachers, family, and even those people who read about their accomplishments or learn about them through social media.

Life after school as an adult requires constant asking for help. We have to find help to get jobs, to find a place to live, and to pay our taxes often. Knowing how to ask for help, to work with others, and to not take the world on alone are skills we need to teach the teens in our lives as we support their learning and growing.

Savanna Williams is a teen in Kansas City who has asked for help from many people which has enabled her to donate her gorgeous paintings to help children and adults who are struggling. Savanna has founded her own nonprofit organization called Angel Hands Art Foundation which has a team to help Savanna successfully raise money and make donations. This RevolTeen is making a difference, but not all by herself.

Divya K. Chhabra, MD, a psychiatrist, activist, and writer in New York City, gave excellent advice to young activists in Teen Vogue. She advises, rest, reflection, and leaning on support to get you through a long fight for justice. “This may mean different people for different kinds of support. If you have a friend who makes you laugh, find joy in that connection. Find the friend who reliably understands your truth so you can commiserate together. Find the therapist who understands that therapy doesn’t start with a blank slate. It’s OK to choose your battles and to decide when something isn’t working for you.” Teens will need different kinds of support fron different people. If we’re teaching then to ask for and seek out help when they need it, we’ll be helping them take on big challenges, and helping to preserve their mental health.   

Asking for help, and accomplishing things with help must be celebrated in our kids – from the youngest ages. Yes, individual accomplishments are worth celebrating, but relying on others and accomplishing tasks together should be lauded even more loudly. If asking for help when they’re stuck on homework, a project, or helping around the house is acknowledged as an act of strength, courage, and intelligence, our kids will gain more experience and pride in moments when they realize they can’t do something alone.

About Christine Lively

Christine Lively a school librarian in Virginia. I read voraciously, exchange ideas with students, and am a perpetual student. I raise monarch butterflies, cook, clean infrequently and enjoy an extensive hippo collection. I am a Certified Life Coach for Kids 14-24 and my website is christinelively.com. Christine blogs at https://hippodillycircus.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/XineLively.

Holiday Romance Recommendations

Now that one of my absolute all time favorite holiday themed books – Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares has been made into a Netflix series, I can live safe in the knowledge that almost everyone is aware of its appeal. Another favorite of mine, Let it Snow, also received the Netflix treatment in 2019. But that has me thinking, what should be next?

Might I humbly suggest they adapt this?

As a more diverse title, it holds strong appeal. Twelve stories by some of the YA greats of our time, all edited by Stephanie Perkins? Yes, please.

That, however, has me at the end of my expertise on the subject, so I went looking for more. Here is what I found:

From the publisher:

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas—a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby. When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available. This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever . . . or is it?

Sounds promising!

Or maybe this:

From the publisher:

Charlotte “Charlie” Donovan knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He’s a star athlete, a National Honor Society member, and the most popular guy in school. Plus he contributes to the school paper, where Charlie is a co-editor. Basically, he’s exactly the type of guy Charlie’s looking for. The only problem is—he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie has a plan: rig the paper’s Secret Santa and win his heart with the perfect gift. The catch? She has no idea what to get him. Enter J.D. Ortiz–Teo’s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He’s easy going, laid back, disorganized, and spontaneous—the exact opposite
of Charlie (and Teo). But he knows what Teo wants, so she’s stuck with him.

Yet, the more time Charlie spends with J.D., the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

And for fans of the TV show Doctor Who, there is always this:

From the publisher:

Inside this festive book of Doctor Who stories, you’ll find timey-wimey mysteries, travels in the TARDIS, monster-chasing excitement and plenty of Christmas magic. Find out what happens when the Third Doctor meets Jackie Tyler, the Seventh Doctor and Ace encounter an alien at Macy’s department store, and the Ninth Doctor tries to get Rose a red bicycle for Christmas.

Do you have any favorite holiday romances you’d like to see get the Netflix treatment? Chime in below in the comments.

Book Mail: New and forthcoming titles for all ages

Book mail is still arriving here at the Minnesota branch of TLT, just not in the same quantity as it used to, pre-pandemic. One of my 2021 goals is to try to switch more of my reading to digital, which is not my preferred way but is clearly what needs to be done if I’m going to keep up with forthcoming books. As always, I’m grateful for all the publishers who send so much good book mail my way. Everything I get goes back out the door in some fashion. If you follow me on Twitter (@CiteSomething), you see all the giveaways I do there. Be on the lookout for more soon!

All descriptions from the publishers.

The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless

The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless by Charlotte Markey (ISBN-13: 9781108718776 Publisher: Cambridge University Press Publication date: 09/10/2020, Ages 12-17)

It is worrying to think that most girls feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and that this can lead to serious problems including depression and eating disorders. Can some of those body image worries be eased? Body image expert and psychology professor Dr. Charlotte Markey helps girls aged 9-15 to understand, accept, and appreciate their bodies. She provides all the facts on puberty, mental health, self-care, why diets are bad news, dealing with social media, and everything in-between. Girls will find answers to questions they always wanted to ask, the truth behind many body image myths, and real-life stories from girls who share their own experiences. Through this easy-to-read and beautifully illustrated guide, Dr. Markey teaches girls how to nurture both mental and physical heath to improve their own body image, shows the positive impact they can have on others, and enables them to go out into the world feeling fearless!

Lunch Will Never Be the Same! #1

Lunch Will Never Be the Same! #1 by Veera Hiranandani, Christine Almeda (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593096901 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 6-8)

Written by Newbery Honor-winner Veera Hiranandani, with all-new illustrations by Christine Almeda!

Phoebe G. Green has never given much thought to food, but when a new French classmate enters the cafeteria with a lunchbox full of unusual foods, a new love is born. Spunky and likable, Phoebe is a budding foodie who’s sure to win over your heart—and stomach!

Phoebe loves her pet fish, Betty #2 (named after Betty #1, may she rest in peace), making lists, and her best friend Sage. But when Camille, a tall French girl, arrives at school with unusual lunches, Phoebe can’t seem to think about anything else, including her friendship with Sage. Thanks to Camille, Phoebe discovers goat cheese, butter lettuce, and cilantro (although she’s convinced that’s not a real word). She’s determined to get invited to her new friend’s house for dinner to see what other mysterious food Camille eats. But what about Sage? Can Phoebe make a new friend and keep an old one?

Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf by Hayley Krischer (ISBN-13: 9780593114117 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 14-17)

Ali Greenleaf and Blythe Jensen couldn’t be more different.

Ali is sweet, bitingly funny, and just a little naive. Blythe is beautiful, terrifying, and the most popular girl in school. They’ve never even talked to each other, until a party when Ali decides she’ll finally make her move on Sean Nessel, her longtime crush and the soccer team’s superstar. But Sean pushes Ali farther than she wants to go. When she resists—he rapes her.

Blythe sees Ali when she runs from the party, everyone sees her. And Blythe knows something happened with Sean; she knows how he treats girls. Even so, she’s his best friend, his confidant. When he tells her it was a misunderstanding, she decides to help him make things right.

So Blythe befriends Ali, bringing her into a circle of ruthless popular girls, and sharing her own dark secrets. Despite the betrayal at the heart of their relationship, they see each other, in a way no one ever has before.

In her searing, empowering debut novel, Hayley Krischer tells the story of what happened that night, and how it shaped Ali and Blythe forever. Both girls are survivors in their own ways, and while their friendship might not be built to last, it’s one that empowers each of them to find justice on their own terms.

The Infamous Frankie Lorde 1: Stealing Greenwich

The Infamous Frankie Lorde 1: Stealing Greenwich by Brittany Geragotelis (ISBN-13: 9781645950264 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 10-14)

A pre-teen international thief turns over a new leaf (sort of) to right the societal wrongs in her snooty new town in this upper middle grade series starter for fans of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls and Heist Society, Stuart Gibb’s Spy School, and Ocean’s 8.

Being the protégé (and daughter) of the man responsible for some of the world’s biggest heists has given Frankie Lorde a unique perspective. And a special set of skills. She can spot an FBI agent in a second, pick a lock in two, and steal a Bugatti in three. (Even if she’s technically too young to drive it.) Frankie and her dad are a team, and their jobs are the stuff of international awe.

And then Dad is arrested.

Sent to live with her uncle, who she barely knows and who is, ironically, a cop, Frankie is forced to navigate an entirely foreign world: suburbia. She has to go to middle school, learn what kids her age wear and eat and do for fun—and, alas, it doesn’t involve lifting expensive watches. 

But life in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the richest towns in America, also opens her eyes to a startling reality, and seeing the stark contrast of the the super-rich and the super-not-rich who support the community living side-by-side gives Frankie an idea. What if she were to put her less-than-legal know-how to good use, turning the tables and evening the score . . .?

Fresh, fun, and timely, Stealing Greenwich introduces a smart, slick young criminal mastermind with a heart of gold who is sure to become a darling for middle grade set.

Closer to Nowhere

Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins (ISBN-13: 9780593108611 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 10-13)

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s poignant middle grade novel in verse about coming to terms with indelible truths of family and belonging.

For the most part, Hannah’s life is just how she wants it. She has two supportive parents, she’s popular at school, and she’s been killing it at gymnastics. But when her cousin Cal moves in with her family, everything changes. Cal tells half-truths and tall tales, pranks Hannah constantly, and seems to be the reason her parents are fighting more and more. Nothing is how it used to be. She knows that Cal went through a lot after his mom died and she is trying to be patient, but most days Hannah just wishes Cal never moved in.

For his part, Cal is trying his hardest to fit in, but not everyone is as appreciative of his unique sense of humor and storytelling gifts as he is. Humor and stories might be his defense mechanism, but if Cal doesn’t let his walls down soon, he might push away the very people who are trying their best to love him.

Told in verse from the alternating perspectives of Hannah and Cal, this is a story of two cousins who are more alike than they realize and the family they both want to save.

Concrete Kids by Amyra León: 9780593095195 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Concrete Kids by Amyra León, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593095195 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/13/2020 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)

In Concrete Kids, playwright, musician, and educator Amyra León uses free verse to challenge us to dream beyond our circumstances — and sometimes even despite them.

Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. 

Concrete Kids is an exploration of love and loss, melody and bloodshed. Musician, playwright, and educator Amyra León takes us on a poetic journey through her childhood in Harlem, as she navigates the intricacies of foster care, mourning, self-love, and resilience. In her signature free-verse style, she invites us all to dream with abandon—and to recognize the privilege it is to dream at all.

Taking on the Plastics Crisis

Taking on the Plastics Crisis by Hannah Testa, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223338 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/13/2020 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)

In this personal, moving essay, youth activist Hannah Testa shares with readers how she led a grassroots political campaign to successfully pass state legislation limiting single-use plastics and how she influenced global businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. Through her personal journey, readers can learn how they, too, can follow in Hannah’s footsteps and lower their carbon footprint by simply refusing single-use plastics.

Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, youth activist Hannah Testa, the founder of Hannah4Change, chronicles both her personal and political mission to save the Earth’s oceans by limiting single-use plastic products.

Kwame Alexander's Free Write: A Poetry Notebook

Kwame Alexander’s Free Write: A Poetry Notebook by Kwame Alexander (ISBN-13: 9781728222189 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 11/03/2020, Ages 8-14)

From the Newbery-Medal winning author of The Crossover and The Undefeatedcomes an exciting , interactive, poetry notebook—empowering kids to express themselves in verse.

Have you ever written a poem? How about rap lyrics or a letter or even a list? ‘Cause those can all be poetry too. Wanna give it a try? Bestselling author and poet extraordinaire Kwame Alexander created this super-fly notebook just for YOU! It’s bursting with cool activities, sizzling poetry starters, inspirational quotes, and lots of space to create. So grab your pen or pencil ’cause it’s time to give your words FLOW and RHYTHM and RHYME.

Incredible stories. Award-winning storytellers. Epic adventure, mystery, and fun? We’ve got it all in Ghostwriter, the extraordinary new series from the Emmy-award winning hit Apple TV+ show, created by your friends at Sesame Workshop.

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha (ISBN-13: 9781682815090 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 12/01/2020, Ages 14-18)

Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…

With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain for years.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers intofood.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

A Curse of Roses includes themes, imagery, and content that might be triggering for some readers. Discussions of religious-based self harm, religious-based eating disorders, and religious-based internalized homophobia appear throughout the novel.

Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty)

Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty) by Diana Ma (ISBN-13: 9781419749964 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 12/01/2020, ages 13-18)

The first book in an epic and romantic YA series following the fictionalized descendants of the only officially recognized empress regent of China

Gemma Huang is a recent transplant to Los Angeles from Illinois, having abandoned plans for college to pursue a career in acting, much to the dismay of her parents. Now she’s living with three roommates in a two-bedroom hovel, auditioning for bit roles that hardly cover rent. Gemma’s big break comes when she’s asked to play a lead role in an update of M. Butterfly filming for the summer in Beijing. When she arrives, she’s stopped by paparazzi at the airport. She quickly realizes she may as well be the twin of one of the most notorious young socialites in Beijing. Thus kicks off a summer of revelations, in which Gemma uncovers a legacy her parents have spent their lives protecting her from—one her mother would conceal from her daughter at any cost.

Be Dazzled

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala (ISBN-13: 9781492682691 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 01/05/2021, Ages 14-18)

Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making—for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything—and everyone—else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store—or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

Crown of Bones

Crown of Bones by A. K. Wilder (ISBN-13: 9781640634145 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 01/05/2021, Ages 14-17)

Raise. Your. Phantom.

In a world on the brink of the next Great Dying, no amount of training can prepare us for what is to come…

A young heir will raise the most powerful phantom in all of Baiseen.
A dangerous High Savant will do anything to control the nine realms.
A mysterious and deadly Mar race will steal children into the sea.
And a handsome guide with far too many secrets will make me fall in love.

My name is Ash. A lowly scribe meant to observe and record. And yet I think I’m destined to surprise us all.

Clues to the Universe

Clues to the Universe by Christina Li (ISBN-13: 9780063008885 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 8-12)

This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.

The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.

Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?

As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

Amari and the Night Brothers

Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston (ISBN-13: 9780062975164 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/19/2021, Ages 8-12)

Artemis Fowl meets Men in Black in this exhilarating debut middle grade fantasy, the first in a trilogy filled with #blackgirlmagic. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, the Percy Jackson series, and Nevermoor.

Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.

So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.

Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny—especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

Unchosen

Unchosen by Katharyn Blair (ISBN-13: 9780062657640 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/26/2021, Ages 14-17)

Katharyn Blair crafts a fiercely feminist fantasy with a horrifying curse, swoon-worthy sea captains, and the power of one girl to choose her own fate in this contemporary standalone adventure that’s perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and Seafire, and for anyone who has ever felt unchosen.

For Charlotte Holloway, the world ended twice.

The first was when her childhood crush, Dean, fell in love—with her older sister.

The second was when the Crimson, a curse spread through eye contact, turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating monsters.

Neither end of the world changed Charlotte. She’s still in the shadows of her siblings. Her popular older sister, Harlow, now commands forces of survivors. And her talented younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One—who, legend has it, can end the curse.

When their settlement is raided by those seeking the Chosen One, Charlotte makes a reckless decision to save Vanessa: she takes her place as prisoner.

The word spreads across the seven seas—the Chosen One has been found.

But when Dean’s life is threatened and a resistance looms on the horizon, the lie keeping Charlotte alive begins to unravel. She’ll have to break free, forge new bonds, and choose her own destiny if she has any hope of saving her sisters, her love, and maybe even the world.

Because sometimes the end is just a new beginning.

Bump

Bump by Matt Wallace (ISBN-13: 9780063007987 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/26/2021, Ages 8-12)

A moving and triumphant middle grade contemporary debut from award-winning author Matt Wallace about a heroic young girl—who dreams of becoming a pro wrestler—learning to find courage and fight for what she loves. Perfect for fans of Kelly Yang, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds’ Track series!

MJ knows what it means to hurt. Bruises from gymnastics heal, but big hurts—like her dad not being around anymore—don’t go away. Now her mom needs to work two jobs, and MJ doesn’t have friends at school to lean on.

There is only one thing MJ loves: the world of professional wrestling. She especially idolizes the luchadores and the stories they tell in the ring. When MJ learns that her neighbor, Mr. Arellano, runs a wrestling school, she has a new mission in life: join the school, train hard, and become a wrestler.

But trouble lies ahead. After wrestling in a showcase event, MJ attracts the attention of Mr. Arellano’s enemy at the State Athletic Commission. There are threats to shut the school down, putting MJ’s new home—and the community that welcomed her—at risk. What can MJ do to save her new family?

Can't Take That Away

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore (ISBN-13: 9781547605309 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 03/09/2021, Ages 12-17)

An empowering and emotional debut about a genderqueer teen who finds the courage to stand up and speak out for equality when they are discriminated against by their high school administration.

Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother’s spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice. 

Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey’s tormentor and others in the school. It’s up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights—and they refuse to be silenced. 

Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore’s Can’t Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.

The Prison Healer

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni (ISBN-13: 9780358434559 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 04/13/2021, Ages 12-16)

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.
 
When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.
 
Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.
 
But no one has ever survived.
 
With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.
 
From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.
 

ParaNorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse: Cooke, Stephanie, Costa,  Mari: 9780358168997: Amazon.com: Books

ParaNorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse by Stephanie Cooke, Mari Costa (ISBN-13: 9780358164586 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 07/06/2021, Ages 8-12)

A witch named Abby and her three friends—a wolf-girl, a ghost, and a pumpkinhead—band together to try and save their supernatural town from an invasion of rabid (but adorable!) chaos bunnies in this enchanting middle-grade graphic novel for fans of Making Friends, The Okay Witch, and Lumberjanes.

It’s fall break in the supernatural town of North Haven, and young witch Abby’s plans include pitching in at her mom’s magical coffee shop, practicing her potion making, and playing board games with her best friends—a pumpkinhead, a wolf-girl, and a ghost. But when Abby finds her younger sister being picked on by some speed demons, she lets out a burst of magic so strong, it opens a portal to a realm of chaos bunnies. And while these bunnies may look cute, they’re about to bring the a-hop-ocalypse (and get Abby in a cauldronful of trouble) unless she figures out a way to reverse the powerful magic she unwittingly released. What’s a witch to do?

In this deliciously humorous, cozy, and bewitching graphic novel, sometimes the most of powerful magic comes from our connections to family and friends (but kicking bunny butt is great, too).

Post-It Note Reviews: Graphic novels galore!

So glad I’ve been doing routine installments of these Post-It Note Reviews for quite a while now because, WHEW! is this what my current attention span is best suited for at the moment. Here’s to being able to concentrate more in 2021, right? I really went heavy here with graphic novels, which has been my comfort reading of choice these past many weeks!

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the post-it reviews follow.

Child Star by Brian “Box” Brown (ISBN-13: 9781250154071 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 06/30/2020, Ages 14-adult)

Child Star is a fictional documentary-style graphic novel about how growing up in the spotlight robs young actors of a true childhood.

Child star Owen Eugene had it all: a hit sitcom on prime time, a Saturday morning cartoon, and a memoir on the bestseller list. The secret to his success was his talent for improvisation . . . and his small size. On screen he made the whole world laugh, but behind the scenes his life was falling apart. Hollywood ate him alive.

Inspired by real-life child stars, bestselling author Brian “Box” Brown created Owen Eugene, a composite character whose tragic life is an amalgam of 1980s pop culture.

(POST-IT SAYS: If you don’t know Brown’s books–particularly this one on Andre the Giant—get on that! This documentary-style look at a fictional child star follows a predictable path yet always feels interesting and engaging. Can’t wait to see what he tackles next!)

Flamer by Mike Curato (ISBN-13: 9781250756145 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 14-18)

Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love. 

“This book will save lives.” —Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of National Book Award Finalist Hey, Kiddo 

I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both.

I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel . . . unsafe.

It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone’s going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.

(POST-IT SAYS: A brutal but ultimately hopeful read. Full of bullying, slurs, and doubt, but also full of friendship and acceptance. Masterful storytelling and deeply affecting and dynamic art. Powerful message: you are enough.)

The League of Super Feminists by Mirion Malle, Aleshia Jensen (Translator) (ISBN-13: 9781770464025 Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly Publication date: 10/13/2020, Ages 12-18)

This primer on feminism and media literacy teaches young readers why it matters

The League of Super Feminists is an energetic and fierce comic for tweens and younger teens. Cartoonist Mirion Malle guides readers through some of the central tenets of feminism and media literacy including consent, intersectionality, privilege, body image, inclusivity and more; all demystified in the form of a witty, down-to-earth dialogue that encourages questioning the stories we’re told about identity. Malle’s insightful and humorous comics transport lofty concepts from the ivory tower to the eternally safer space of open discussion. Making reference to the Bechdel test in film and Peggy McIntosh’s dissection of white privilege through the metaphor of the “invisible knapsack,” The League of Super Feminists is an asset to the classroom, library, and household alike.

Knights and princesses present problems associated with consent; superheroes reveal problematic stereotypes associated with gender; and grumpy onlookers show just how insidious cat-calling culture can be. No matter how women dress, Malle explains, there seems to always be someone ready to call it out. The League of Super Feminists articulates with both poise and clarity how unconscious biases and problematic thought processes can have tragic results.

Why does feminism matter? Are feminists man-haters? How do race and feminism intersect? Malle answers these questions for young readers, in a comic that is as playful and hilarious as it is necessary.

(POST-IT SAYS: Useful as a very basic intro to feminism, sexism, and representation. Could stand to have an intro, a conclusion, and a more intersectional approach. The title also doesn’t really fit with/indicate the content. A good overview but could have been stronger.)

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Granddaughter by Brea Grant and Yishan Li (ISBN-13: 9781644420294 Publisher: Six Foot Press Publication date: 10/06/2020 Ages 12 – 18)

Angsty teenager Mary Shelley is not interested in carrying on her family’s celebrated legacy of being a great writer, but she soon discovers that she has the not-so-celebrated and super-secret Shelley power to heal monsters, just like her famous ancestor, and those monsters are not going to let her ignore her true calling anytime soon.

The Shelley family history is filled with great writers: the original Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, the acclaimed mystery writer Tawny Shelley, cookbook maven Phyllis Shelley…the list goes on and on. But this Mary Shelley, named after her great-great-great-great-great grandmother, doesn’t want anything to do with that legacy. Then a strangely pale (and really cute) boy named Adam shows up and asks her to heal a wound he got under mysterious circumstances, and Mary learns something new about her family: the first Mary Shelley had the power to heal monsters, and Mary has it, too. Now the monsters won’t stop showing up, Mary can’t get her mother Tawny to leave her alone about writing something (anything!), she can’t tell her best friend Rhonda any of this, and all Mary wants is to pass biology.

(POST-IT SAYS: Fun concept with great art, especially the excellent monsters. Mary is a good main character—angsty, goth, and certain she’ll never live up to her family’s legacy. Hope there’s more to come.)

The Girl Who Wasn’t There by Penny Joelson (ISBN-13: 9781492698852 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 11/03/2020, Ages 14-18)

For fans of Karen M. McManus and Kara Thomas comes this riveting new young adult crime thriller packed with mystery and suspense, from the acclaimed author of I Have No Secrets

Nothing ever happens on Kasia’s street. And Kasia would know, because her chronic illness keeps her stuck at home, watching the outside world from her bedroom window. So when she witnesses what looks like a kidnapping, she’s not sure whether she can believe her own eyes…

There had been a girl in the window across the street who must have seen something too. But when Kasia ventures out to find her, she is told the most shocking thing of all: There is no girl.

(POST-IT SAYS: The main character has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, which is rare to see in YA. Thriller-ish story about human trafficking—a quick read. Curious what people with ME think of the rep.)

Class Act by Jerry Craft (ISBN-13: 9780062885500 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 8-12)

New York Times bestselling author Jerry Craft returns with a companion book to New Kid, winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize. This time, it’s Jordan’s friend Drew who takes center stage in another laugh-out-loud funny, powerful, and important story about being one of the few kids of color in a prestigious private school.

Eighth grader Drew Ellis is no stranger to the saying “You have to work twice as hard to be just as good.” His grandmother has reminded him his entire life. But what if he works ten times as hard and still isn’t afforded the same opportunities that his privileged classmates at the Riverdale Academy Day School take for granted?

To make matters worse, Drew begins to feel as if his good friend Liam might be one of those privileged kids. He wants to pretend like everything is fine, but it’s hard not to withdraw, and even their mutual friend Jordan doesn’t know how to keep the group together.

As the pressures mount, will Drew find a way to bridge the divide so he and his friends can truly accept each other? And most important, will he finally be able to accept himself?

New Kid, the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal, is now joined by Jerry Craft’s powerful Class Act.

(POST-IT SAYS: A perfect book. Truly. Tackles serious topics while still being funny and just so real. The kids address race, class, colorism, microaggressions, and friendship. As great and maybe better than New Kid.)

Displacement by Kiku Hughes (ISBN-13: 9781250193537 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 08/18/2020, Ages 12-18)

A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother’s experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps in Displacement, a historical graphic novel from Kiku Hughes.

Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.

These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself “stuck” back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive. 

Kiku Hughes weaves a riveting, bittersweet tale that highlights the intergenerational impact and power of memory.

(POST-IT SAYS: I loved the art, the powerful look at existence and resistance in the camps, and the look at modern-day parallels. A moving exploration of what it means to be displaced.)

Twins (Twins #1) by Varian Johnson, Shannon Wright (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338236132 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 8-12)

Coretta Scott King Honor author Varian Johnson teams up with rising cartoonist Shannon Wright for a delightful middle-grade graphic novel!

Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods, and are partners on all their school projects. But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran — a girl who wants to join the chorus, run for class president, and dress in fashionable outfits that set her apart from Maureen. A girl who seems happy to share only two classes with her sister!

Maureen and Francine are growing apart and there’s nothing Maureen can do to stop it. Are sisters really forever? Or will middle school change things for good?

(POST-IT SAYS: Absolutely adored this. Get like 6 copies for your library—this will fly off shelves! Great art and pitch perfect story about siblings, identity, confidence, friendship, and middle school.)

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (ISBN-13: 9781984829665 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 09/29/2020, Ages 14-17)

The stunning sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin. Incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American juvenile justice systemPerfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Angie Thomas.

In the highly anticipated sequel to her New York Times bestseller, Nic Stone delivers an unflinching look into the flawed practices and silenced voices in the American juvenile justice system.

Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister grew up a block apart in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Wynwood Heights. Years later, though, Justyce walks the illustrious halls of Yale University . . . and Quan sits behind bars at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center.

Through a series of flashbacks, vignettes, and letters to Justyce—the protagonist of Dear Martin—Quan’s story takes form. Troubles at home and misunderstandings at school give rise to police encounters and tough decisions. But then there’s a dead cop and a weapon with Quan’s prints on it. What leads a bright kid down a road to a murder charge? Not even Quan is sure.

(POST-IT SAYS: Whew. This is another must-read of 2020. A powerful examination of why someone may get involved in a gang, the school to prison pipeline, the justice system, and the importance of support. Profound.)

Lunch Will Never Be the Same! #1 by Veera Hiranandani, Christine Almeda (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593096895 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 6-8)

Written by Newbery Honor-winner Veera Hiranandani, with all-new illustrations by Christine Almeda!

Phoebe G. Green has never given much thought to food, but when a new French classmate enters the cafeteria with a lunchbox full of unusual foods, a new love is born. Spunky and likable, Phoebe is a budding foodie who’s sure to win over your heart—and stomach!

Phoebe loves her pet fish, Betty #2 (named after Betty #1, may she rest in peace), making lists, and her best friend Sage. But when Camille, a tall French girl, arrives at school with unusual lunches, Phoebe can’t seem to think about anything else, including her friendship with Sage. Thanks to Camille, Phoebe discovers goat cheese, butter lettuce, and cilantro (although she’s convinced that’s not a real word). She’s determined to get invited to her new friend’s house for dinner to see what other mysterious food Camille eats. But what about Sage? Can Phoebe make a new friend and keep an old one?

(POST-IT SAYS: I never saw this series when it was pubbed in 2014, but so glad to discover it in this reissue. Nice look at friendship and navigating making a new friend without forgetting old friends. A solid, fun read with appealing art. Easy to recommend.)

Logan Likes Mary Anne! (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix Series #8) by Gale Galligan, Ann M. Martin (ISBN-13: 9781338304541 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 8-12)

Another Baby-sitters Club graphic novel adapted by New York Timesbestselling author Gale Galligan!

It’s the first day of a new school year, and while Mary Anne doesn’t know what to expect from the eighth grade, she’s looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. One thing she definitely doesn’t expect is to meet Logan Bruno, who just moved to Stoneybrook!

Logan has a dreamy southern accent, he’s awfully cute… and he might be interested in joining the BSC. But the baby-sitters aren’t sure if Logan would make a good club member, so they send him on a job with Mary Anne as a test. Logan and Mary Anne hit it off, but Mary Anne isn’t sure of where their friendship could go. Life in the Baby-sitters Club has never been this complicated — or this fun!

(POST-IT SAYS: Can I please get all 200is iterations of the BSC books as graphic novels ASAP?! Another excellent addition to the series here. Logan is adorable and I still want the BSC as my besties. Really fun.)

Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramée (ISBN-13: 9780062836717 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/14/2020, Ages 8-12)

From the author of A Good Kind of Trouble, a Walter Dean Myers Honor Book, comes another unforgettable story about finding your voice—and finding your people. Perfect for fans of Sharon Draper, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds.

Eleven-year-old Jenae doesn’t have any friends—and she’s just fine with that. She’s so good at being invisible in school, it’s almost like she has a superpower, like her idol, Astrid Dane. At home, Jenae has plenty of company, like her no-nonsense mama; her older brother, Malcolm, who is home from college after a basketball injury; and her beloved grandpa, Gee.

Then a new student shows up at school—a boy named Aubrey with fiery red hair and a smile that won’t quit. Jenae can’t figure out why he keeps popping up everywhere she goes. The more she tries to push him away, the more he seems determined to be her friend. Despite herself, Jenae starts getting used to having him around.

But when the two are paired up for a class debate about the proposed name change for their school, Jenae knows this new friendship has an expiration date. Aubrey is desperate to win and earn a coveted spot on the debate team.

There’s just one problem: Jenae would do almost anything to avoid speaking up in front of an audience—including risking the first real friendship she’s ever had.

(POST-IT SAYS: This was great! All of the characters are interesting and stand out, but introverted, anxious Jenae is wonderful. Excellent look at friendship, social anxiety, social justice, and finding your voice. Loved it.)

Book Review: The Project by Courtney Summers

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, a STARRED review, which originally appeared in an issue of School Library Journal.

The Project

St. Martin’s/Wednesday Bks. Feb. 2021. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250105738.

 Gr 9 Up–A young woman’s determination to reveal the truth behind an apparent cult exposes a more complicated look at doubt and belief than she could have imagined. Lo Denham barely survived the car accident that killed her parents. Her sister, Bea, credits her miraculous recovery to Lev Warren, leader of the Unity Project, an outwardly innocuous religious group that performs acts of service and community outreach. Bea gives up everything to join them. Years after being abandoned by her sister, Lo—who works as an assistant at an investigative magazine—follows in her path, desperate to uncover the truth behind the Project and to save her sister. With promises of atonement, redemption, and salvation, Lev’s message begins to penetrate Lo’s skepticism—how far will she go to get the real story? And once she discovers it, can she bear what it may reveal? Masterfully written and pulling no punches, the narrative moves back and forth in time, showing events from both Bea and Lo’s perspectives. Summers creates and sustains almost unbearable tension, exploring sacrifice, loss, forgiveness, miracles, surrender, grief, and lies. The unflinching look at Bea and Lo’s desperation is devastating, especially as both chase healing and salvation to counteract emptiness and loss. Readers will question the truth and everyone’s motivations in this world full of manipulation and mind games. Secondary characters are of various races; Bea and Lo are described only as having brown hair.

VERDICT A gripping, flawless psychological thriller ready to leave readers shattered.

Friday Finds: November 13, 2020

This Week at TLT

Welcome to Meteor(ite), New Mexico, a guest post by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia

The Book for Our Times: True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News by Cindy L. Otis

Morgan’s Mumbles: Journal Prompts for Teens and the People who Serve Them, by Teen Contributor Morgan Randall

2019 GLSEN National School Climate Survey results about LGBTQ students’ experiences in school

Book Review: The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Have Some 2021 Books, by Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

#FactsMatter: The 2021 Project Focusing on Nonfiction and Information Literacy

Sunday Reflections: It Wasn’t as Many as I Wanted, but Maybe it was Just Enough to Change the World

Around the Web

“Other countries have social safety nets. The U.S. has women.”

We Can’t Just Keep Thanking Black Women Every Time They Save Us

What A Biden Presidency Could Mean For Education

Quawan “Bobby” Charles Was Found Dead and Disfigured Like Emmett Till. His Family Wants Answers.

How to Continue Activism in a Racist Country

Welcome to Meteor(ite), New Mexico, a guest post by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia

In this piece from Miss Meteor co-authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia, the authors take you to Meteor, New Mexico, a town known for two things: the space rock that crashed into the desert nearby, and the annual Miss Meteor beauty pageant. Here, main characters Chicky Quintanilla and Lita Perez take you on a tour of Meteor.

Lita: Hi there, I’m Lita Perez, contestant in the Fiftieth Annual Meteor Regional Pageant and Talent Competition Showcase (otherwise known as the Miss Meteor pageant), here to show you some of our town’s most famous sites. I’m lucky to be joined today by my pageant manager, Chicky Quintanilla.



Chicky: *Looks at Lita* Me now? Okay, uh, hi I’m Chicky. Kind of a behind the scenes person really. I usually leave the Vaseline smiling and baton twirling to Lita. Too soon? Sorry. But come on, it was pretty funny, right?

 Lita: In the distance you’ll see some of the most beautiful cactuses in New Mexico, each one with their own personality and astrological sign (no really, ask Chicky). Everyone wave hello to Señora Strawberry, who, as you probably guessed from the streamers, recently had a birthday!



Chicky: Also the important historical site of meetings of our destructive witch coven, responsible for basically any ruckus that gets kicked up around town. I mean seriously, we’re very dangerous people. Steer clear.

 Lita: On our right is the Meteor Meteorite Museum, housing one of the most stunning space rocks in the world. This crown jewel from the sky crash-landed into this very desert more than fifty years ago. And no, that has nothing to do with me, it’s just an astronomy fact, why, what did you hear? Okay moving on…

 Chicky: Yeah, also the historical place where Junior Cortes, famous Meteor artist, painted all the cornhole boards for every tournament for the last five years. But also the site where he traitorously practiced that infamous non-sport in absolute secret even from his alleged friend and soon to be girlfriend. Sorry I’m probably doing this wrong, but that wasn’t very cash money of him, and I felt like the world should know.

 Lita: A trip to Meteor would never be complete without a stop at Selena’s Diner, owned and operated by the Quintanillas. Don’t miss their world famous nopal grilled cheese and jalapeño cupcakes!



Chicky: Yeah, just don’t come on Wednesdays after school if you want to be able to actually eat the food. Fresa’s on the grill that day and she’s more into her reflection in the spatula than actually preparing something edible. *Coughs* I mean uh, come every day or I’ll be wearing Converse with a hole in the heel all winter. Ha.

Lita: And there is one other reason people come from miles around to visit Meteor. But that’s probably not a secret I should tell just yet, so you might have to stick around to find out. 

 Chicky: Um, what she said. And sorry for the mumbling. *Looks at Lita* Are we done now? I’m starving.

Meet the authors

Photo credit: Christina Grout

Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, raised in the same town as the world’s largest wisteria vine, and taught by their family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. They are the author of The Weight of Feathers, When the Moon Was Ours, Wild Beauty, Blanca & Roja, and Dark and Deepest Red.

Photo credit: Tia Reagan

Tehlor Kay Mejia is an Oregon native and the author of  the YA novels We Set the Dark on Fire and We Unleash the Merciless Storm and the middle grade novel Paola Santiago and the Drowned Palace. Her short fiction has appeared in the All Out and Toil & Trouble anthologies from Harlequin Teen. You can find her on Twitter @tehlorkay.

About Miss Meteor

Miss Meteor

A gorgeous and magical collaboration between two critically acclaimed, powerhouse YA authors offers a richly imagined underdog story perfect for fans of Dumplin’ and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history.

But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands.

So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

ISBN-13: 9780062869913
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/22/2020
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years

From Amanda’s review: This layered story with fantastic characters shows that trying to blend in sometimes just hides the many wonderful ways you were made to stand out. Like Chicky and Lita find out, there is space for you. You belong, just as you are.

Morgan’s Mumbles: Journal Prompts for Teens and the People who Serve Them, by Teen Contributor Morgan Randall

I know right now is really stressful for a lot of us, and I think journaling helps a lot. Below I have compiled 31 journal prompts (I know this is a little late for all of November but pick and choose a journal prompt for each day to complete your month with) I really like and I think are really helpful to reflect on:

  1. How can you make sure to fill your cup, before you begin to give yourself before others?
  2. List 20 things that make you smile.
  3. List three things you would do if you weren’t afraid.
  4. Write about something you forgive yourself for.
  5. What does your ideal look like?
  6. Pretend money isn’t an object, what would you do?
  7. What made you happy today?
  8. What is your favorite thing to do to treat yourself?
  9. What traits do you admire in someone? (What about yourself?)
  10. Where do you want to be in the next year? (five years? Ten years?)
  11. Who are the people you miss the most?
  12. What compliment do you want the most? (Give it to yourself, genuinely sometime soon!)
  13. What are three things you are grateful for today?
  14. What’s one thing you would like to do more of?
  15. What bothered you today? (Have a brain dump of everything that is irritating you, if you feel comfortable when you finish this rip out the page, tear it up, burn it, dissolve it in water, or find another way to destroy it)
  16. Write an encouraging letter to your younger self.
  17. Who is your biggest hero and why?
  18. What do you often dream about? (Develop on why you dream about this)
  19. Use 10 words to describe yourself.
  20. What does your self-care routine look like? (if you don’t have one make your ideal one!)
  21. Make a 15 song playlist that describes how you feel.
  22. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
  23. What goals are you working towards right now?
  24. Write about a place where you feel safe.
  25. Describe the outfit you feel the most confident in.
  26. Write out ten positive affirmations. (Begin to use these every day when you wake up!)
  27. Write yourself a thank you letter.
  28. What do you see in others (or others’ lives) that you want? Why do you want it?
  29. Identify your negative self-talk. What are the doubts you plant in your own mind?
  30. If you could give everyone one piece of advice, what would it be?
  31. Am I showing up fully as myself without any masks? (If not, what masks are you wearing?)

Morgan RandallTeen Contributor

Morgan recently graduated high school and is currently enrolled to attend college in the fall getting her BA in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis on Design and Technology. She loves theatre, writing, reading, and learning. But something that has always been important to her is being a voice for those who feel like they don’t have one, and being a catalyst for change in any way possible.

2019 GLSEN National School Climate Survey results about LGBTQ students’ experiences in school

Cover of The 2019 National School Climate Survey research report. The cover photo features three students marching in the 2019 World Pride parade, with their fists in the air. The student on the right is wearing a transgender pride flag, and the center student is wearing a jacket with a rainbow on the back and a Keith Haring illustration of a brown fist in a broken handcuff below the word Resist! in rainbow letters.

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, released its biennial National School Climate Survey, which documents the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth in schools from across the country, in October. 20 years of research shows that dedicated school support and resources for LGBTQ+ students works, leading to less verbal and physical harassment over that time period. Also, “LGBTQ+ students feel safer and more supported with: anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies, teachers and school staff who are supportive of LGBTQ students, gender and sexuality alliances, and an LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum.”

Against a black background, yellow and white text reads: 20 years of research shows that dedicated support for LGBTQ+ students works.  A chart labeled “Victimization based on sexual orientation has decreased over time” and shows indicators for verbal harassment, physical harassment, and physical assault varying from 1999-2007 and decreasing from 2007-2019. Source: 2019 National School Climate Survey. Learn more at glsen.org/nscs.

The 220 page report (which is available as a PDF) looks at discrimination, harassment, assault, biased language, school resources and support, and more, and examines how these factors affect educational performance, safety, and mental health of LGBTQ teens. The report is filled with statistics, charts, and graphs that drive home the point that LGBTQ students face a lot of opposition at school and frequently don’t feel safe or supported.  Being knowledgeable of the potential struggles and understanding where they (and you!) can go to find useful resources (books, websites, helplines, etc) is a major step in the right direction.

As GLSEN reports, “ The survey has consistently indicated that specific school-based supports are related to a safer and more inclusive school climate, including: supportive educators, LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, inclusive and supportive policies, and supportive student clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances or Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs).” Also, “In addition, this installment of GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey also includes an extensive exploration of how school climate has changed since we began conducting this survey, including insights into how racist remarks and harassment, feelings of safety regarding citizenship, gender-based discrimination, and LGBTQ student identities have all changed over time.”

Thumbnail of a poster highlighting the experiences of LGBTQ student of color, immigrant LGBTQ students, and transgender students, over time.

This report should be required reading for anyone who works with students of all ages. 

The following data is taken from the survey results. Though the report in quite long, it’s important reading. The report does offer summaries of survey points. All infographics are from GLSEN and available to download and share.  The summary points from this report includes offensive slurs. 

Findings of the 2019 National School Climate Survey include: 

Illustration of a pensive femme person of color who has purple hair and wears a black turtle neck and blue earrings. Against a lime background, pink and white text reads: 86% of LGBTQ students were harassed or assaulted at school. Source: 2019 National School Climate Survey. Learn more at glsen.org/nscs.

Anti-LGBTQ Remarks at School

• Almost all  LGBTQ students (98.8%) heard the word “gay” used in a negative way often or frequently at school.

•96.9% of LGBTQ students heard the phrase “no homo” at school

• 91.8% of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks about gender expression

• 87.4% of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks specifically about transgender people (e.g., “tranny” or “he/she”)

• 52.4% of students reported hearing homophobic remarks from their teachers or other school staff, and 66.7% of students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from teachers or other school staff.

Illustration of two people a femme Black person with locks who wears gold earrings and a gold eyebrow ring to the left of a light skinned person with shaggy brown hair wearing eyeliner. Against a blue background, green and white text reads: 2 in 5 LGBTQ students of color were bullied or harassed based on race or ethnicity. Source: 2019 National School Climate Survey. Learn more at glsen.org/nscs.

School Safety, Harassment, and Assault at School

• The vast majority of LGBTQ students (86.3%) experienced harassment or assault based on personal characteristics, including sexual orientation, gender expression, gender, actual or perceived religion, actual or perceived race and ethnicity, and actual or perceived disability.

• 32.7% of LGBTQ students missed at least one entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, 8.6% missed four or more days in the past month.

• Nearly a fifth of LGBTQ students (17.1%) reported having ever changed schools due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at school.

• 25.7% of LGBTQ students were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in the past year based on sexual orientation, 21.8% based on gender expression, and 22.2% based on gender.

• 68.7% of LGBTQ students experienced verbal harassment (e.g., called names or threatened) at school based on sexual orientation, 56.9% based on gender expression, and 53.7% based on gender.

• 44.9% of students reported experiencing some form of electronic harassment (“cyberbullying”) in the past year.

• Over half of students (58.3%) were sexually harassed at school in past year.

The high incidence of harassment and assault is exacerbated by school staff who rarely intervene on behalf of LGBT students.

• 56.6% of students who were harassed or assaulted at school did not report these incidents to school staff.

• The most common reasons that LGBTQ students did not report incidents was because they doubted that effective intervention would occur or the
situation could become worse if reported.

• 60.5% of students who had reported incidents of victimization to school staff said that staff did nothing or told them to ignore it. 

Illustration of a white person wearing a black sleeveless shirt and yellow bandana in their light brown hair. Against a blue background, yellow and white text reads: Anti-LGBTQ discrimination means more missed school, lower GPAs, and lower self-esteem. Source: 2019 National School Climate Survey. Learn more at glsen.org/nscs.

Discriminatory Policies and Practices

Most LGBTQ students (59.1%) reported personally experiencing any LGBTQ-related discriminatory policies or practices at school. Specifically, LGBTQ students reported being:

• Prevented from using bathrooms aligned with their gender identity: 28.4%.

• Disciplined for public displays of affection that were not similarly disciplined among non-LGBTQ students: 28.0%.

• Prevented from using chosen names/pronouns: 22.8%.

• Prevented or discouraged from participating in school sports because they were LGBTQ: 10.2%.

• Prohibited from discussing or writing about LGBTQ topics in school assignments: 16.6%.

Illustration of a Black person with short curly blonde hair wearing white glasses, red lipstick, pink earrings, and a black turtleneck. Against a magenta background, blue and white text reads: 84% of transgender students felt unsafe at school because of their gender. Source: 2019 National School Climate Survey. Learn more at glsen.org/nscs.

The report goes on to discuss: 

*absenteeism (“LGBTQ students who experienced higher levels of victimization based on their sexual orientation were nearly three times as likely to have missed school in the past month than those who experienced lower levels (57.2% vs. 21.7%))

*academic achievement (“Were nearly twice as likely to report that they did not plan to pursue any post-secondary education (e.g., college or trade school) than those who experienced lower levels (9.9% vs. 5.8%);” and “Had lower grade point averages (GPAs) than students who were less often harassed (3.03 vs. 3.34).”)

*psychological well-being (“Had lower self-esteem and school belonging and higher levels of depression.”)

Additionally, it breaks the data down by gender, orientation, race, ethnicity, school type, location, region, and more.

GLSEN offers many recommendations for turning these statistics around, such as giving students more access to LGBTQ-related information (literature, history, etc), forming GSA groups, providing professional development to increase the number of supportive teachers and staff, ensuring school policies are not discriminatory, having anti-bullying and harassment policies that make it clear that they provide safety for LGBTQ students, and teaching an inclusive curriculum.

Against a yellow background, black and white text reads: LGBTQ+ students feel safer and more supported with Anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies, Teachers and school staff who are supportive of LGBTQ students, Gender and Sexuality Alliances, An LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum. Illustrated icons of books, people, an instructor at a chalkboard, and a court gavel are next to text. Source: 2019 National School Climate Survey. Learn more at glsen.org/nscs.

LGBTQ students experienced a safer, more positive school environment when:

– Their school had a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) or similar student club.

– They were taught positive representations of LGBT people, history, and events through their school curriculum.

– They had supportive school staff who frequently intervened in biased remarks and effectively responded to reports of harassment and assault

– Their school had an anti-bullying/harassment policy that specifically included protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

– Transgender/gender nonconforming students in schools with official policies or guidelines to support trans/GNC students had more positive school experience, including less discrimination and more positive school belonging.

Thumbnail of a poster highlighting the benefits of GSAs for LGBTQ students.

“Instituting these measures can move us toward a future in which all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed in school, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Previously at TLT:

Many posts for collection development and ways to support and affirm LGBTQIA+ students can be found by searching the tag LGBTQIA+ on the blog.

Also check out:

The Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools Project, which “is one of the few LGBT and gender-inclusive programs in the country that has a K-5 focus with resources to help elementary schools and educators address bias-based bullying—including anti-LGBT slurs and gender put-downs.”

Unfamiliar with GLSEN?

From their site: GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.

@GLSEN on Twitter

I am thankful for the hard work GLSEN does to support and affirm LGBTQIA+ students to make sure they receive safe, supportive, and inclusive educations. I’m donating to them today to help fund their  programs, advocacy, research, and policy work and hope you will too.

Book Review: The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

The Magic Fish

Publisher’s description

Tiến loves his family and his friends…but Tiến has a secret he’s been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together.

Real life isn’t a fairytale. 

But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through? 

Is there a way to tell them he’s gay? 

A beautifully illustrated story by Trung Le Nguyen that follows a young boy as he tries to navigate life through fairytales, an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected. The Magic Fish tackles tough subjects in a way that accessible with readers of all ages, and teaches us that no matter what—we can all have our own happy endings.

Amanda’s thoughts

I’m writing this on November 6th, in the morning, before we know the election results. Here’s why this is significant: concentrating this week has been HARD. I have accomplished a great many tasks like washing my windows, doing yard work, and whatever else keeps me in perpetual motion and makes my anxiety motor rev a little slower. But I haven’t been able to read much. And I certainly didn’t intend to try to write anything for TLT this week. And yet, here I am. Why? Because this book is lovely and wonderful and special and, apparently, magic. It held my attention (I read it in one sitting), it made me cry, and it’s just SO good that I had to share it here.

This book is beautiful in every sense of the word and in every aspect of its presentation. The art is dynamic and full of detail, the shifting color palette works so well, the writing is spectacular, and the emotional heart of the story is stunning. Is this just a list of gushing love and appreciation instead of an actual professional-sounding book review? YES.

Tiến’s story is also beautiful. He and his family (especially his mother, who gets her own emotional and powerful story) spend their time together reading fairytales as a way to connect, share, and, for his parents, to work on their English. He has two best friends, one of whom he has a crush on, and they are so supportive and loving and kind. While Tiến is worried about coming out to his parents, readers don’t have to share that worry: we see the love and the support.

This is a story about immigrants, about shared language and connection, about a life left behind, about fitting in, about family, about being yourself, and about love. Tiến learns about the power of stories, about happy endings, about stories changing when they need to. The book ended abruptly but perfectly, leaving me crying and wishing everyone had the love and support Tiến has.

Also? This book has THE BEST dance scene. My heart. You’ll see when you read it. WHEN you read it.

Beautiful and moving, this book will stick with me. I hope it gets the attention it deserves. Go add it to your library queue or order it from your local indie now.

ISBN-13: 9781984851598
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication date: 10/13/2020
Age Range: 12 – 17 Years