Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Friday Finds: June 7, 2019

This Week at TLT

Book Review: Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

The top 25 children’s titles at my school this year

DIY A Universe of Space Art

DIY Galaxy Rocks

Book Review: The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos

Take 5: Things I Learned at Book Expo America 2019

Around the Web

Barnes & Noble Is Sold to Hedge Fund After a Tumultuous Year

In One Year, People Visited Public Libraries More Than a Billion Times

7 New and Upcoming Reads Perfect for Pride Month

Summer 2019 movie, TV, and book release dates you need to know

High Schoolers Who Work At Walmart Will See A New Perk — SAT And ACT Study Help

The top 25 children’s titles at my school this year

It’s the end of the school year (hooray!). I didn’t need to run a report to see what our most popular books were, since I watch them go in and out of the elementary library every day, but I thought I’d verify my guesses. As our top 25 list shows, graphic novels were hot (Raina Telegemeier and Dav Pilkey could put out a new book every week and kids would still be clamoring for more from her—same with the Amulet series), Wimpy Kid is still going strong, and books nominated for the Maud Hart Lovelace Award (Minnesota’s “read and vote” award for kids) got lots of circulations (a fact aided by the pizza party kids who read a certain number of these books were able to earn). The titles on this award list included entries 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 14, 15, 22 and 25 on our top 25 list. What was hot at your school (elementary, middle, or high school) this year? Share your lists in our comments or find me on Twitter @CiteSomething. 

  1. The terrible two Barnett, Mac.
  2. Dog Man : Lord of the Fleas Pilkey, Dav.
  3. Cursed Coville, Bruce.
  4. Fuzzy mud Sachar, Louis, 1954-
  5. Fish in a tree Hunt, Lynda Mullaly.
  6. Dog Man : Unleashed Pilkey, Dav.
  7. Minecraft combat handbook Milton, Stephanie.
  8. Crenshaw Applegate, Katherine.
  9. Webster : tale of an outlaw White, Ellen Emerson.
  10. Minecraft essential handbook Milton, Stephanie.
  11. Diary of a Wimpy Kid : The Meltdown Kinney, Jeff.
  12. Smile Telgemeier, Raina.
  13. Amulet. Book eight, Supernova Kibuishi, Kazu, 1978-
  14. Book Scavenger Bertman, Jennifer Chambliss.
  15. The Hero Two Doors Down : Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend Robinson, Sharon.
  16. Pokémon : Deluxe Essential Handbook : The Need-to-Know Stats and Facts on Over 700 Pokémon Pokémon.
  17. Dog Man Pilkey, Dav.
  18. Dog Man : A Tale of Two Kitties Pilkey, Dav.
  19. Amulet. Book one, The stonekeeper Kibuishi, Kazu,.
  20. Guinness World Records, 2017 : Gamer’s Edition Glenday, Craig.
  21. Dog Man and Cat Kid Pilkey, Dav, 1966-
  22. Soar Bauer, Joan, 1951-
  23. Game Over, Super Rabbit Boy! Flintham, Thomas.
  24. Amulet. Book two, The stonekeeper’s curse Kibuishi, Kazu,.
  25. Last in a Long Line of Rebels Tyre, Lisa Lewis.

DIY A Universe of Space Art

Regular TLT readers may recall that I have a space obsessed Tween so we are loving this year’s summer reading theme. It’s like the perfect present was handed to me on a platter in terms of arts and crafts. I do a lot of my program and craft trial runs at home and with this year’s theme I got the perfect assistant. Today I’m going to share with you five projects that fit right into this year’s A Universe of Stories theme, all of which can be modified in various ways to be done as a tween/teen program or in a makerspace.

Project 1: DIY Galaxy Painting

Thing 2 actually did this painting entirely by herself. She saw a YouTube video and knew that she wanted to do this. She found a canvas in the garage and asked if she could have it. She then watched a YouTube video, busted out the paints and turned the canvas into her own galaxy painting. Again, I think it is important to understand that this 10-year-old did this entirely on her own, that’s how easy this is. She proudly hangs it in her space themed room.

You can find a step by step tutorial here:

Project 2: Vinyl on Canvas

I have a Silhouette Cameo at home (and had one in my previous Teen MakerSpace), which I use primarily for making t-shirts. However, you can also use vinyl on canvas to make canvas art. Here we spray painted a canvas a solid cover and let it dry. I then made my image on my Cameo and used transfer tape to place it on the canvas. It’s a pretty simple design, but it’s exactly what she wanted.

Here’s a short YouTube tutorial on applying vinyl to a canvas:

Project 3: Stencil Painting on Canvas

The Mr. is an artist so he hand drew a stencil using painters tape to make the canvas you see below. You can also use a Silhouette Cameo to make a stencil. Your first step is to paint the background color of your canvas. You then lay your stencil on the dry canvas and add an additional layer of paint. Let it dry a bit and then remove your stencil.

To make the picture below, he painted the canvas gold. He then applied the stencil and painted the black parts. With the stencil still in place, he then splattered white paint over the black to make it look like stars. You can do this either as a stencil or a reverse stencil, either way works. There are some good DIY instructions here.

Remember, although a vinyl cutter helps, you can make your own stencils using just a computer and a printer (see the YouTube video below) or free hand drawing on contact paper.

Project 4: Digital Media 1

Last week, I shared with you some tools that you can use to make out of this world digital media photos. This photo comes from that post. I am in the process of transferring this photo onto canvas using this method.

Project 5: Digital Media 2, Framed Collage

Using the same digital media hacks mentioned directly above, I made Thing 2 a series of space themed photos with inspirational quotes. I then used my Instax Square printer to print four of the pictures off, which I framed. I used galaxy themed scrapbook paper in the background to bring all the photos together. Please note, you can print photos using most printers, you don’t need an Instax Square printer, I just happen to currently be obsessed with instant photography.

We have loved each and every one of these projects and I highly recommend them. Although I did these at home, I have done versions of them in library programs or in my Teen MakerSpace. The ones with paint take a little bit more time as you need to allow layers to dry a bit, but every project was done within an hour or two and then allowed to dry over night.

DIY Galaxy Rocks

For today’s episode of Cindy Crushes Programming, Cindy Shutts is going to walk us through creating our own galaxy rocks – a perfect activity for this year’s A Universe of Stories summer reading theme.

Our Summer Reading Program began at out library last week and our theme is “Read Under the Stars.” I wanted a space themed program for this week and I have always wanted to make Galaxy Rocks, so we did. Here’s a tutorial on how create your own galaxy rocks.


  • Rocks
  • Glitter Paint
  • Metallic Paint
  • Black Acrylic Paint

Step One:

Get a rock and paint it black and let it dry for about 10 minutes. Rocks dry faster than a lot of other materials.

Step Two:

Paint with the metallic paints next. There are two methods you can do one is do dots with different metallic paints or just paint with one metallic color. I liked the effect of one metallic color better but it really depends on what the teens or you want their rock to look like.

Step Three:

I used multiple types of glitter paint with a lot of layers. I try to let it dry a little before adding the next layer.

Step Four :

Let rock dry. I recommend having a paper plate for the teens to take the rocks home.

Final Thoughts: I loved this craft and the teens who came loved it too. I had low attendance but realized it was scheduled on the 8th grade graduation of both of the local middle schools, which made sense. It’s an important reminder that scheduling is everything.

Here’s a DIY tutorial on YouTube that you may find interesting:

Take 5: Things I Learned at Book Expo America 2019

This past week I was very fortunate in that my library sent me to Book Expo America to learn about upcoming releases (thank you Fort Worth Public Library!) It was my first time going to BEA and there was a lot of information to take in and lots of new upcoming titles to learn about. Here are a few of the things that I learned.

Graphic Novels are HOT!

Meg Cabot and Kami Garcia on the DC Panel at BEA 2019

In the past at both TLA and ALA, there is a graphic novel/comic book alley which is kind of separate from the main publishing aisles but that was not the case at BEA. Graphic Novels were front and center and if I had to estimate, I would say it is a good solid 1/5 of upcoming publishing. Many well established YA authors, like Meg Cabot and Kami Garcia, are jumping into the graphic novel fray with DC Comics. Several publishers are launching graphic novel lines. And the one book I wanted to get to take home to my kids was – you guessed it – a graphic novel. I got the book, by the way, and got to be the hero. In fact, Thing 2 has, who you may recall has had a difficult time with reading, sat right down and read it once I put the coveted item into her hands.

Middle Grade is also HOT!

Middle Grade panel at BEA 2019

Though I do believe a lot of the YA was saved until BookCon, which I did not attend, there was a noticeable amount of Middle Grade being offered at BEA. I have been noticing the growth in the distribution and marketing of MG for quite some time now. Booklist recently had a special MG issue and School Library Journal recently hosted the Middle Grade Magic all day webinar, similar to its annual Summer Teen event. Like with graphic novels, you also see a lot of YA authors diving into the middle grade market. There are a lot of great middle grade titles coming our way and I can’t wait to read them.

Is Young Adult publishing on the downward slope of a high peak?

Popular YA author Leigh Bardugo makes her adult debut with Ninth House

As someone who has been a YA librarian for a while now, I can’t help but notice that there seems to be a slow down of the YA publishing market after a couple of decades of real growth. I believe in housing they call this a bubble and it’s possible that the bubble has burst. Some signs of this include the fact that a lot of YA authors are moving into the adult, middle grade and graphic novel markets. There were some hot properties by established YA authors up for grabs, but there are a lot of new names on the horizon and it’s been a while since a title or series has really taken hold of the public interest globally like vampire and dystopian properties did just a decade ago. Certainly The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and a few other titles have hit hot and have had some staying power, but overall YA feels like it’s trying to find its footing again right now while publishers take a deep dive into middle grade. It’s also interesting to note that a lot of what’s being published as older middle grade right now would have been younger YA just a few years ago.

Publishers are slowly but surely starting to really diversify

Author Rick Riordan uses his publishing line Rick Riordan Presents to promote diverse authors with a middle grade emphasis

With the creation of initiatives like We Need Diverse Books and the hard, dedicated work of a wide variety of people calling for representation, this year’s upcoming titles appear to be some of the most diverse and inclusive titles I have seen in my 26 years of buying books for libraries. I saw a lot of titles with LGBTQIA+ and POC representation and I’m very excited for what I can buy for my patrons this upcoming year.

Libraries can learn a lot about marketing from BEA

The moment you walk into BEA you are hit from floor to ceiling with book culture. It’s an exciting energy that is all about books. There are large banners everywhere. There are visual displays everywhere. It’s a pretty amazing experience that can’t help but get you excited about books.

I know that we don’t have the money to recreate what I saw at BEA, but I’m here to tell you that we should do everything we can to highlight books in this way and just really create this exciting, inviting book culture in our libraries. Take a look at this Penguin wall:

It’s just a question and some post-it notes but it was powerful and impactful. Throughout BEA you could stop by anytime and see several people scouring the wall and adding their own voice. Here’s mine:

Now that I’ve shared with you some of my takeaways from BEA 2019, if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of books to go order.

Friday Finds: May 31, 2019

This Week at TLT

New books alert: A royal romance, a North African-inspired fantasy, a feminist look at reproductive rights, and more

Digital Media: A Remix Tutorial – How an Old Photo Becomes Something New

Digital Media: Using Photo Apps to Make Pride Photos

What’s new in LGBTQIA+ YA May 2019

Digital Media: Using Apps to Take Your Photos Out of This World

Around the Web

Playing Teen Sports May Protect From Some Damages Of Childhood Trauma

Makey Makey Creators Announce GameBender, A New Game System

This campaign is bringing summer reading to kids in ‘book deserts’

Solving The Tech Industry’s Ethics Problem Could Start In The Classroom

The 17 Most Anticipated YA Books to Read in June

Digital Media: A Remix Tutorial – How an Old Photo Becomes Something New

So this week we’ve been talking about using digital media apps to remix photos. Regular readers know that I am a big fan. I used to want to be a photographer growing up, but we never had the money for good equipment and I will never know if I have any talent or skills. But now I have a smart phone and a variety of apps and I loved to create using my device. Over the years I have shared with you a variety of apps and today I’m going to take you through a walk through. Doing digital media with teens in the teen makerspace is one of my favorite activities and the teens like creating amazing images to share on their Instagram. I also use my designs to make posters for displays and to share right here on TLT.

See the background of the painting in the picture below? We’re going to turn it into something completely different. The take away here is that you can turn anything A into something completely different and amazing B. As The Teen was painting this picture, I really liked the background so I took a picture of it before she added the trees. I’m constantly taking random photos because you never know when you can use it and turn it into something different. That’s trick 1: take a lot of photos, even of the most random things, because you never know what they can become.

So here’s the picture of the background, which is our starting point.

I then uploaded this photo into the Hipstamatic camera app. This app has a steep cost to it but it has a lot of elements that I like. One of my favorite effects is the Shanghai photo effect, which I used here.

After saving my first remix, I then uploaded this image into the Word Swag app. This is one of my favorite text and font apps, but I don’t like the filters and such. I used Word Swag for text and text only, but your mileage may vary. A little cropping, a little text and viola . . . I created this.

I use my digital media apps to create icons for TLT and I’m not going to lie, the walls of my home are covered in pictures of my children I have created using the technique I just shared with you. I have no less than 3 different printers that I use to print my photos, which I discuss here. I have also turned my photos into postcards, buttons, and canvas. The Teen and friends make fun of me because they know I’m going to be taking pictures, but they also love that they have a lot of great photos that capture some of their favorite memories.

Some of my favorite apps are:

  • PS Express: for cropping photos, filters, effects and more
  • Instamag: for making photo collages
  • Word Swag: for adding text
  • Hipstamatic: for filters
  • Be Funky Pro: again, for filters
  • Comic Book: for creating comic and graphic novel pages
  • Candy Camera: for stickers
  • SuperImpose X: for blending two or more photos
  • Fotorus and Enlight are more advanced apps that I’m just learning how to use

Do you have a favorite photo app? I’m always looking for new ones to try so please share yours in the comments.

Digital Media: Using Apps to Take Your Photos Out of This World

This year many public libraries are participating in a summer reading program that is out of this world – literally – with the Universe of Stories theme. I happen to really love 2 things: mixing photos with photo apps and a tween who wants to be an astronaut, so I am here for your space programming needs. Today I am going to share with you how you can set up a simple photo booth station and help tweens and teens create out of this world photos with just a few simple apps.

Step 1: Set Up Your Photo Booth

You can create a photo booth anywhere in the library with just a bit of space. If you have one, you can set up an actual photo booth with a screen. If not, you can use a blank space of wall or a tri-fold presentation board setting on a table. A white background works well, but any solid color background will work. What you want is a contrast because we are going to extract some of the images. You can also use a green screen and I am here to tell you that you can use a bright green tri-fold presentation board as a green screen to do things like head shots.

There is a previous post here where I talk about some simple green screen photo tricks.

You can set up your photo booth as part of a program or if you have a makerspace set it up as part of your makerspace. You’ll also need access to an tablet or smart phone with some preloaded photo apps to mix your photos.

If you want, get creative and make photo booth props as well, though they aren’t necessary.

Step 2: Mixing Your Photos

After you have taken your photo, you’re going to use your device to mix your photos with backgrounds, filters, stickers and more. Here are are a few of my favorite apps, tips and tricks.

PhotoShop Express (PS Express)

This is a good starting app to do things like apply basic filters or turn your photo into a black and white photo. Sometimes, black and white makes for a good silhoutte that you blend with a background (more on this in a minute). PS Express also allows you to do things like enhance colors, fix lighting, etc. You can download this app for free and use a lot of the features, though there is a cost to unlock additional features.

The PS Express app also has a Beta feature that allows you to add bokeh lighting and . . . the cosmos. This is a picture of The Teen leaning over a bridge staring at a lake but thanks to the PS Express app it looks like she is looking into the Aurora Borealis. This is the only photo that I created using only 1 app.


The Mextures app allows you to mix some simple lighting and effects with a picture. I use this app to add radiance which creates the purple hue that works well for galaxy photos. The radiance feature I use is called Bonfire. The Mextures app has an initial cost of $1.99 and there are additional in store purchases you can make (I only have the initial purchase).

The photo below was created by turning a photo into black and white and then adding the bonfire radiance feature to give it the purple and blue highlights.

SuperImpose X

I have long enjoyed blending two photos together but had a hard time finding an app that did this well and was easy to use. A lot of them require you to “cut out” the part you want using a lasso feature that requires a precision I could never master. Before finding SuperImpose X, I had to use two apps to do this but SuperImpose X is so easy to use that I only use the one! This makes me happy. This app costs 4.99 but it is totally worth it.

SuperImpose X works in layers, which means that you have to layer your pictures. You always want to start with the first layer being your background picture. To make a galaxy photo, you can find copyright free background images to use as your background layer.

Your second layer is going to be your layer that has your photo of your person. You use the mask feature to cut out your person. SuperImpose X has an Auto Mask Person feature that makes everything better. Occasionally I have to fill in a few details, but for the most part it works like a charm.

After you have used the mask feature to cut out your person, you can then use the blend feature to blend your two layers together. There are a variety of options and you can mix and match until you find the balance that you like best.

Candy Camera

Candy Camera is an app I like for the stickers feature and only the stickers feature. I’ve used it many years now to make my family Christmas cards and have made some fun space themed photos featuring Thing 2 using some space stickers. (Yes, as a matter of fact, we do just happen to have an astronaut space suit laying around the house, why do you ask? LOL) This app can be downloaded for free and additional sticker packs have an additional charge.

Using a variety of apps, I was able to take pictures that each had actually 3 people in them (and I’m not showing you the original photo because I don’t have the other teens permissions to share them online) and turn them into these final photos. Beginning image after two other teens were cropped out:

Final image:

Beginning image after 2 other teens were cropped out:

Final image after mixing:

Word Swag

The final app I want to share with you today allows you to add text to a picture with a variety of fun fonts. It’s by no means the only app that does this, but I find it to be the quickest, the easiest, and to have the funnest fonts. You can literally roll the dice – there is a die icon on the bottom right of your screen – and it will show you a variety of layouts and options. This app can be downloaded for free and there are additional in app purchases that you can make, though I use the free version.

I used Word Swag to turn one of the above pictures into this great image:

After you make these images, you can do things like share them on social media, print them, or print them and then decoupage them onto a canvas if you want to take your program to the next level. I have both a Selphy and Instax Mini printer and find printing with them to be a ton of fun. If you’re going to do canvas decoupage, follow these steps.

This is a pretty easy and fun program and it gets tweens and teens thinking creatively while learning some basics of digital media. My home is full if pictures just like you see above decorating my walls.

Friday Finds: May 24, 2019

This Week at TLT

Book Review: Brave Face: A Memoir by Shaun David Hutchinson

Book Review: Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan

Cindy Crushes Programming: Find a Good Book with Miss Cindy

Writing Myself a New Story, a guest post by Jasmine Warga

Teen Services 101: Serving Teens, Challenges and Rewards

Around the Web

New Releases: Complicated Friendships, Classics Made Modern, and So Much Murder

The Ultimate YA Summer Reading List

Once A Homeless D.C. Teen, Now A Georgetown Graduate

Robert Smith Pledges To Pay Off Student Loans For Morehouse College’s Class Of 2019

Sarah Jessica Parker throws shade at de Blasio’s proposed library cut

Book Review: Brave Face: A Memoir by Shaun David Hutchinson

Publisher’s description

Critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants—described as having “hints of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five (School Library Journal)—opens up about what led to an attempted suicide in his teens, and his path back from the experience.

“I wasn’t depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay.”

Shaun David Hutchinson was nineteen. Confused. Struggling to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was and how he fit into a community in which he couldn’t see himself. The voice of depression told him that he would never be loved or wanted, while powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him.

A million moments large and small over the years all came together to convince Shaun that he couldn’t keep going, that he had no future. And so he followed through on trying to make that a reality.

Thankfully Shaun survived, and over time, came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.

Amanda’s thoughts

I’m a big fan of memoirs. While most of my reading is of children’s and YA books, when I do grab an adult book from the library, it is frequently a memoir. I like the deep dive into someone’s life. I like seeing them raw and unpacking their challenges and successes. So when a memoir comes out by one of my favorite YA authors, you can bet I will devour it.

For me, this had an added element of interest. I’m the same age as Hutchinson—we both graduated high school in 1996. We were both depressed and anxious teens, kept journals (and hung onto them all this time—I have a whole bin of my journals from elementary school through college), listened to a lot of the same music, wrote for the school paper, and so on. For me, as an adult reader, I really felt myself right there with Hutchinson because I really *saw* him. I would’ve been friends with him. My computer-programming, D&D-playing, fantasy-novel-reading husband would’ve been friends with him.

I spent the whole memoir really wanted two things for Hutchinson: for him to find his people and for him to get the mental health help he needed. And that’s really want this whole memoir is about. We follow Hutchinson through high school and a few years of college. We watch him go from an excited ninth grader positive about his future to a severely depressed and self-loathing older teen who can’t see anything good in his present or his future, feels like a failure, and grows increasingly reckless. We watch him participate in drama and debate, work various jobs, hang out with his close girl friend, play D&D, and half-heartedly date and make out with some girls. Meanwhile he’s feeling increasingly irritated, having meltdowns, lashing out while alone, and writing in his journal about his misery and his suicidal ideation.

We also see Hutchinson really struggle with being gay. He writes a lot about how his negative and limited idea of what it would mean to be gay came from the culture and stories around him at this time in the 90s. He wasn’t able to see beyond horrible stereotypes and miserable endings. He simply didn’t have any other examples. And he certainly didn’t have any kind of community to help him work through these thoughts. Even as he came to understand that he was gay, he still lacked examples of love or romance or happiness. His view of his life, already complicated by his untreated depression, grew darker.

Eventually, Hutchinson attempts suicide and ends up in a psychiatric treatment facility. There is a content warning for this part of the book to allow readers to skip over the details included here. He then summarizes life after this time—the ups and downs of both relationships and various treatments. He leaves readers with the important message that it can indeed get better, though it can take a while to get there. And, most importantly, it’s okay to ask for help—that struggling alone and putting on a brave face isn’t required.

This is a powerful and painfully honest look at surviving while finding your place, your people, and self-acceptance.

Review copy (e-ARC) courtesy of Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781534431515
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 05/21/2019