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RevolTeens: Look for the Helpers, by Christine Lively

When we’re overwhelmed by tragic and traumatic news stories, social media fills up with stories of loss and injustice – each story seemingly more upsetting than the last. We start to complain and feel that nothing good is or could happen in the world. All seems lost and terrible. Inevitably, people start quoting Mr. Fred Rogers in response to help us regain our perspective.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

When it comes to teens and young adults, we don’t usually get this perspective adjustment as has been the case this month. As the Coronavirus or COVID-19 began to rage in the US, the news media and social media went into a frenzy over college “spring breakers” crowding beaches in Florida and crassly explaining that they didn’t care if they or others got sick because of it. The adults swarmed with wagging fingers, shaking heads, and outrage. ‘How could they? Those kids are disgusting, selfish and horrible!’ and on and on it went.

Though I don’t condone their behavior, of course, I found the response to it to be predictably vitriolic and all too convenient. These young faces became the emblems of privilege, cruelty, and flagrant disregard for others.

They are not, of course, the only teens. There are many more teens and young adults who are “The Helpers” whom Mr. Rogers described. I didn’t have to look too hard to find them. They are out there working to ensure that people stay safe, get what they need, and are cared for. The just aren’t receiving the same screaming news coverage that the spring breakers are.

One of the most inspiring of these teens is  17 year old Avi Schiffmann from Mercer Island outside of Seattle. According to a Democracy Now interview with Schiffmann on March 13, 2020,  the website he created https://ncov2019.live/data has been visited by “tens of millions from every country on earth. It tracks deaths, numbers of cases locally and globally, and provides an interactive map, information on the disease, and a Twitter feed. The resource updates every minute or so, and pulls information from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and elsewhere.” The website is incredibly helpful because it offers raw numbers, rates of increase, and shows trends that help you see the virus without any lens or particular point of view. Schiffmann started the site in December as a way for people to get raw and up to date information without requiring them to download information that might be out of date when they get it. It’s a remarkable way to help people. Avi Schiffmann is absolutely a teen who is revolting and helping us all take control of the information that we need to make decisions and get through this crisis. That you have probably not heard of him tells you that adults are much more interested in maligning selfish teenagers than lauding the brilliant, selfless, and hardworking ones.

Teens are also maligned as spreading, believing, and falling victim to rumors and bad information on social media. While it’s true that they do sometimes believe false stories they hear, adults do too. There’s an awesome group of teen helpers who are committed to teaching other teens how to find reliable information and identify “fake news.” MediaWise https://www.poynter.org/mediawise/ From the Poynter Institute website:

“The MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network is a group of dozens of teens fact-checking misinformation and disinformation they find on their social media feeds. These teens have continued their fact-checking work despite unprecedented challenges — school closures, classes moving online, SAT testing, grades, final exams and even delayed graduations.

The TFCN has reported on whether you can catch coronavirus by touching money (our rating: needs context), if China is seeking approval to kill patients with the virus (our rating: not legit), if wearing a mask will protect you from COVID-19 as many videos on TikTok claimed, and the teens even debunked a claim that weed can kill coronavirus.”

The Poynter Institute is committed to teaching media literacy and helping people find the difference between fact and fiction. Their Teen Fact-Checking Network is a group of eighteen fierce teenagers who are fighting misinformation where teens encounter it most – on social media. They’re creating videos to show other teens how to debunk misinformation online. This group of RevolTeens have collected their debunking information about the Coronavirus here: https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2020/how-the-coronavirus-is-creating-chaos-for-teens-and-why-theres-hope/ The article includes profiles of the fact checking teens and information to help kids learn more about the virus without bias. They have a pretty cool group of social media and traditional media ambassadors, too!

Then, there’s Shaivi Shaw from Rancho Santa Margarita, California. This 15 year old has recruited her high school friends to help her assemble 150 sanitizing kits for homeless people which include hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, lotion, and reusable masks that she bought with her parents. This RevolTeen isn’t waiting for adults to take action.

‘”It’s important for people to step in and just do whatever they can, even if it helps just one person,” she told CNN.’ https://www.insider.com/teen-makes-sanitizing-kits-for-homeless-amid-coronavirus-outbreak-2020-3

Shelters are struggling to keep up with the needs of their residents, and Shaivi’s efforts are surely making a difference. She’s launched a GoFundMe that has already raised over $17,000 to create more of these kits for the homeless in her own state of California and she hopes to expand to worldwide distribution. https://www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-sanitation-kit-for-the-homeless-community

Then there are the teens who are focused on helping the elderly who are sequestered during this quarantine period.

Cathy Free got a call she never wanted to get. Her visits to her 79 year old mother would be canceled for the next several weeks or months to protect her mother and the other residents of her Utah care center. Free took to FaceBook to write about how anxious and fearful she was about her mother’s spirits and loneliness now that she won’t have family visits.

RevolTeens took action.

Ms. Free’s high school friend is now a Middle School teacher and high school softball coach. She asked her students if they could imagine not being able to see their families for weeks and maybe months. They decided that they’d write letters to Ms. Free’s mother and the other residents in the care home and deliver them.

Each letter is addressed to “Dear Special Person,” and they are so sweet that they’ll restore your faith in humanity.

‘“I’m so sorry that you can’t see your families,” wrote Ryan Christensen, 14. “If I know one thing about humans, it’s that when they go through some bad part in their life, they are strong. I believe that you can get through this bad part in your life and will be strong all the way through.”’ The full story can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/03/21/mom-is-stuck-inside-amid-coronavirus-outbreak-these-teens-i-have-never-met-gave-us-hope-amid-hardship/

These Revolteens and many more are “The Helpers” that Mr. Rogers’ mother told him about. Though we may be frustrated and angry at some teens’ behavior during this crisis, but when you believe in teens’ capacity for compassion, action, and thoughtful change, you just have to “look for the helpers” and there you’ll find the RevolTeens. They don’t accept the world as it is, they’re using their big brains, hearts, and resourcefulness to change the world – for the better and for all of us even in this unprecedented crisis.

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. Christine blogs at https://hippodillycircus.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/XineLively

Writing on Wheels, a guest post by Kit Rosewater

I wasn’t an athletic kid.

That’s what I said to people if they asked what I was into. I said I was a theatre geek, a book nerd, one of those kids who only worked out when lifting a stack of books or swinging around a fake plastic sword.

Those were lies, of course, though I didn’t quite realize it at the time.

As a younger kid—think elementary school age—I actually loved being athletic. I won medals at the annual “jog-a-thons” my school held in second and third grade. When I read books like Bridge to Terabithia, I related hardcore to Jesse’s dreams of winning his classmates’ unofficial morning race. I rode bikes on mountain trails with my much more experienced older cousin and had the scars from falling over and over to prove it. But more than any other activity, I loved roller skating at the YMCA with my sister every day after school in fourth and fifth grade.   

We would snap our fingers and shake our hips whenever Will Smith’s jam “Getting’ Jiggly Wit It” came over the speakers. We learned how to crouch low to gather speed, cross one skate over the other, skate backward, the whole caboodle. Those were some of the best afternoons of my childhood.

I don’t remember when the transition happened between me loving both the arts and sports to me thinking I had to choose between one or the other. I suspect it had to do with that phenomenon a lot of middle school kids face, where they feel like they need to fit into a label… or else they won’t fit in anywhere. 

In sixth grade the whole grade level had to perform two weeks’ worth of physical ability tests for our PE groups. Out of groups A (for the super sporty kids), B (the pretty sporty kids), C (the kids with nothing special going on), and D (the kids who needed serious coordination help) … I got placed in C. 

Whelp, guess I’m not an athlete, I thought. 

I tucked my skates, helmet, and knee and elbow pads away onto a high shelf in the garage. I picked up my books and busied myself with other creative, artsy activities. 

As I grew up in middle school, then high school, then college, my labels grew and solidified around me. Every time I felt breathless on a run with friends, or missed a basket when shooting hoops at the park, I hid behind my self-imposed label. 

“I’m not athletic!” I would whine. And then I’d shuffle off before someone could challenge what that kind of declaration even meant.

For years I learned how to push myself in reading and critical thinking. I grew in my craft as a writer. I found out that just because I was interested in something (like being an author), that didn’t mean I was inherently good at it. I had to work really hard at every stage, but I slowly learned that with enough practice, patience, perseverance, I could figure out how to steadily improve in anything I set my mind to. 

Fast forward to early 2017, when I had just moved to Austin, Texas and was playing host to friends from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Under an Austin page of events, I found two roller derby leagues operating with open bouts (roller derby games) outsiders could buy tickets to go see.

From the moment those derby teams hit the track, I was hooked

I had never seen such diversity in a team of players before. Suddenly it didn’t seem to matter how tall or short you were, how much you weighed, how muscular your arms were… anyone could be lacing up and rolling onto the rink. I could be lacing up! Roller derby had taken everything I thought I knew about sports and the types of people who called themselves “all-stars” and turned it all upside down. I had to know more.

Meanwhile, I was still waist-deep in my efforts to become an author. I was working on a different project that had started to lose its shiny appeal. My agent and I discussed setting that project aside and trying something new. This time as I mulled over ideas, I turned over my childhood memories and experiences like stones. I tapped on them, wondering which ones were duds and which were geodes, full of glimmering possibility. 

I remembered how much I had loved running, and biking, and most of all—skating—when I was a kid. 

I finally decided not to choose between labels anymore. I had found my next big project. 

If young readers take any one point away from The Derby Daredevils series, I hope it’s that they realize they don’t need to choose what kind of person they are. After reading Book 1, they might want to lace up their own pair of skates. Or not! Whatever they choose to be into and excited about, there’s plenty of room for them to explore lots of activities and interests and hobbies. Being good or not so good at something right away doesn’t determine how much we get to love it. We can be book nerds and runners, theatre geeks and MVPs…

…readers and daredevils. 

Meet Kit Rosewater

Kit Rosewater writes books for children. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her spouse and a border collie who takes up most of the bed. Before she was an author, Kit taught middle school theatre and high school English, then worked as a children’s bookseller. She has a master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. Books 1 & 2 of her debut middle grade series The Derby Daredevils roll out in Spring and Fall 2020 through Abrams. Catch her online at kitrosewater.com or @kitrosewater.

About The Derby Daredevils: Kenzie Kickstarts a Team

The first in a highly-illustrated middle grade series that celebrates new friendships, first crushes, and getting out of your comfort zone. 

Best friends Kenzie “Kenzilla” Ellington and Shelly “Bomb Shell” Baum are counting down the days to their roller derby debut. It looks like their dream is coming true when Austin’s city league announces a junior league. But there’s a catch. To try out together, the Dynamic Duo will have to form a team of five players… in just one week! 

As they start convincing other girls that roller derby is the coolest thing on wheels, Kenzie has second thoughts. Why is Shelly acting like everyone’s best friend? Isn’t she supposed to be Kenzie’s best friend? And things get really awkward when Shelly recruits Kenzie’s neighbor (and secret crush!) for the team.

With lots of humor and an authentic middle grade voice, the first book of this empowering series follows Kenzie, Shelly, and the rest of the Derby Daredevils as they learn how to fall—and get back up again.

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4079-4
Illustrator: Sophie Escabasse

Publisher: Abrams Books
Publication date: 03/24/2020
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

Kit would love if it you would support one of two independent bookstores in this tough time for everyone: Bookworks of Albuquerque or Bookpeople of Austin, TX.

Book Review: Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Publisher’s description

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.

In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

Amanda’s thoughts

Only two months and a few dozen books into 2020 and I’m ready to call something one of my favorite books of the year? Yes, yes I am. This stunning book is easily the best thing I’ve read so far this year.

After their sister Ana falls to her death, the remaining Torres sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, survive only because they have to. Rosa looks for meaning with animals, particularly in an escaped hyena she feels certain has something to do with her dead sister’s spirit. Iridian hides out in books and writing, haunted by her final words to Ana. And Jessica spends her time with the worst possible boy to be with. They see snippets of things that point to Ana somehow being back, wanting something, needing something, though they’re not sure what her message is.

The power and beauty of this book is in the lovely writing and the magnificent, unforgettable characters. This is a story about what happens when girls become ghosts, when girls become animals. This is about what happens when girls embrace anger, when girls attack, when girls grow sick of the imprints men leave upon them. This is about aching, desperate, trapped, screaming girls. This is a warning and a celebration of what happens when girls become feral, become hunters, when girls decide they are not sorry. This haunting story is about sisterhood and death, about power and pain, and about confronting men and boys who are meddling cowards and abusers. A fierce story of heartbreak, grief, connection, and the complications of the human heart. Absolutely not to be missed.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781616208967
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication date: 03/24/2020

Ages 14-18

Is the Truth All It’s Cracked Up To Be? a guest post By Risa Nyman

“Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” – Buddha

“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is a declaration we all know by heart. But if you aren’t on the witness stand, is that a motto you must live by? Are there any gray areas?

When we are children, adults pound it into our developing brains that the truth is sacrosanct. Recently, I watched a funny video of a cousin pressing her four-year-old daughter to explain the origins of some blue marker on a white counter, only to be told repeatedly by the little girl that “the dog did it.” That was her story, and she was sticking to it. Perhaps this sweet, adorable child is a natural born fibber or a natural born secret-keeper.

Then, we grow up, and a new paradigm emerges. We learn that honesty may carry unintended consequences that can take an emotional toll on both the truth-teller and the truth-hearer.

Should you tell Aunt Gertrude she got fat? Does your friend have to know the person she likes doesn’t like her? Or like the mother in my debut novel, can you decide to protect your child from the truth about how his father died?

The decision to keep a family secret is at the heart of my debut middle grade novel, Swallowed by a Secret (published January 21, 2020 from Immortal Works Press).

When twelve-year-old Rocky learns his mother has told him a bogus story about how his father died, he is gut-punched. His misery is compounded when his mother puts the For-Sale sign on the front lawn right after the funeral. She fears that if they remain in their town, someone will blurt out the truth before she’s ready.

Rocky’s mother is desperate to maintain control of the secret, because she knows that once you crack open a secret, it cannot be Humpty-Dumptied again. What she doesn’t anticipate is that Rocky will embark on a journey of risks, eavesdropping and snooping to discover the truth about the father he thought he knew.

In Swallowed by a Secret some of my own secrets are threaded through. As I wrote, I grappled with the knowledge that when this book is published, I would be exposing the hidden elephant crouching underneath the rug in my own life. I kept a visual of a fork in a road in my head that make the choices also clear. One side beckoning me toward the truth and the other to the vault where secrets are locked away.

My own decision to include some of my truths in my fiction piqued my curiosity about what other authors do. Memoirist Dani Shapiro says in her podcast, Family Secrets, that “writing about feelings that are weighing on us helps…it has physical benefits.”

The creation of the hashtag #ownvoices honors the works of so many whose writing is enhancing with the authenticity of their own truths. They demonstrate a commitment to sharing their heritage, ethnicity, disabilities, gender issues and more through their writing.

Real life joins fiction in a powerful way.

In a 2009 interview with Fiction Writers Review award-winning author Maile Meloy said,“I think you have to find an emotional connection to the story, to make anyone else care about it, but I would find writing only what I know to be limiting.”

Choosing to tell or write the truth isn’t always easy or simple, and sometimes not for the faint-hearted. And like Rocky, I have learned, along the way, that secrets are epidemic, and no one’s family is immune.

Risa has been an aspiring middle grade author for about six years after a strange event that involved three pennies led her to take a deep dive into creative writing, which is now a priority and passion ⏤ unless grandchildren are nearby. At other times, you might find Risa reading, exercising or doing therapeutic ironing.

Novels in Verse for Teens by author Lisa Krok

Librarian Lisa Krok sometimes writes posts for us here at TLT. Today, she is here to talk with us about her new professional book that is now available.

I wrote this book for teachers and librarians as a professional guide to aide them in reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through verse novels. During my two years serving on YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers committee, I found that one of the biggest reasons that teens may be reluctant or striving readers is because they have not yet found books that reflect their life experiences. I used Rudine Sims Bishop’s Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors (1990) as my personal guideline. I searched throughout the year to find books for this list that teens from all different types of backgrounds could identify with.  Teens in marginalized demographics across varying races and religions, identifying as LGBTQ+, sexual assault survivors, facing mental illness, disabilities, foster care, and more deserve to see themselves reflected in books, too. Another big reason novels in verse work well for reluctant readers has to do with the physicality of the book. With more white space, fewer words per page and font that varies in size, style, or format, they can be more appealing to teens who may be intimidated by too many words on the page. Teens who previously wouldn’t even think of reading an inch-thick book discover they can read bigger books. This in turn can help build confidence and increase their motivation to read even more.

Another important feature of novels is verse is voice. Generally, verse novels present a first- person narrative, which invites the reader into the life of the protagonist. The short lines of verse can be rhythmic, almost asking the reader to “hear” the speaker. This lends itself to addressing topics that can be deep or emotionally intense. The white space on the pages of novels in verse can be thought of as a silence to be filled in by the reader’s imagination. A favorite quote of mine, which I included in my book is from former Poet Laureate Rita Dove.  “Verse novels offer the weight of each word, the weight of the sentence, the weight of the line, the weight of white space, heightened attention to sound, and deep allegiance to silence.” Deep allegiance to silence…just take that in for a moment.

Novels in verse also provide counter-stories to singular narratives that are often told by books considered to be classics or canon. Scholars Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Dr. Kim Parker, and Tricia Ebarvia are all cited in my book for their work on the value of avoiding the single narrative through counter-stories. Counter-stories can help fight bias and hate by seeing and valuing teens who may otherwise feel erased by the dominant culture. I also recommend viewing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story”.  Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” TED Talk . Counter-stories can also help build empathy by seeing another side of the story.

 So, what is in the book? I have created the layout in a way that I think is most useful for teachers and librarians. The first section is research-based information about why and how novels in verse can be used to reach all teens, especially those in marginalized communities or those who are reluctant/striving readers. Part two is a large readers advisory section hosting 53 verse novels. Each book listed includes the following: a cover image (when permissions were available), bibliographic information, grade level advisories, content tags, a brief summary, and poetry activities for teens to further engage them with the literature. Each activity is accompanied by curriculum connections (CCSS and AASL standards) to make lesson planning easier for teachers and librarians. A wide variety of poetry activities are presented throughout the book, with each exercise correlating somehow to the featured novel in verse. A glossary of poetic devices and a standard author/title index are provided. The really special part is the content tag index, which corresponds to the tags listed in the reader’s advisory section. This enables librarians and teachers to quickly find books to pair with the experiences and interests of specific students.

Available now from ABC-CLIO/Libraries Unlimited

Verse novel authors Nikki Grimes, Padma Venkatraman, and Margarita Engle have given the book rave reviews, as has professor/poetry guru/author Sylvia Vardell. I hope you will explore their incredible work, which is included in my book along with many other amazing novels in verse.

Buy from Barnes & Noble

Buy from Amazon

Add it on Goodreads

Request it at your Indies.

Meet the Author

Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, is the adult and teen services manager at Morley Library and a former teacher in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. She is the author of Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians, available now from ABC-CLIO. Lisa’s passion is reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through young adult literature. She was appointed to the 2019-2020 YALSA Presidential Advisory Task Force, served two years on the Quick Picks for Reluctant Reader’s team, and is serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA 2021) committee. Lisa can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach.

Friday Finds: Special Professional Development Edition

Many of us are currently in a position to take advantage of online learning opportunities while we do our best to quarantine/isolate/distance ourselves in an effort to flatten the curve of Covid19. But where to start?

Free Archived Webinar Sites

Public Library Association

Infopeople

Programming Librarian

Demco Ideas & Inspiration

Maryland State Library Resource Center

Library Connect

Booklist Webinars Archives

ALA List of Professional Development Resources

Public Libraries has a list of 5 free professional development resources to check

Library Blogs

School Library Journal

Show Me Librarian

ALSC Blog

YALSA Blog

5 Minute Librarian

New York Public Library Blog Channels

Places to Check Out

PLA Professional Tools

Public Libraries Online

Did I miss anything you love? Chime in in the comments!

Post-It Note Reviews: Graphic novels, road trips, repeat proms, guides to democracy, and more

I do my best to get a LOT of reading done, but can’t even begin to attempt to read all the books that show up here. Even if I quit my library job, I still couldn’t read them all.  I read just about every free second I have—sitting in the car while waiting for my kid, on my lunch breaks at work, sometimes even while I’m walking in the hall at work. A lot of that kind of reading isn’t super conducive to really deep reading or taking many notes. Or maybe I’m reading in my own house, but while covered in sleeping dachshunds, or while trying to block out the noise of kids playing. I might not get around to being able to write a full review, but I still want to share these books with you, so here are my tiny Post-it Note reviews of a few titles. I also do these posts focusing on books for younger readers. It’s a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers.

All summaries are from the publishers. Transcription of Post-it note review under the summary. 

Hex Vet: Witches in Training by Sam Davies

In a world where magic is an ordinary part of daily life, two young apprentice veterinarians pursue their dreams of caring for supernatural creatures.

Have you ever wondered where witches’ cats go when they pull a claw? Or what you do with a pygmy phoenix with a case of bird flu? Nan and Clarion have you covered. They’re the best veterinarian witches of all time—at least they’re trying to be. But when an injured rabbit with strange eyes stumbles into their lives, Nan and Clarion have to put down their enchanted potions and face the biggest test of their magical, medical careers…and possibly lose some dignity in the process.

Hex Vet: Witches in Training is the debut original graphic novel from acclaimed cartoonist Sam Davies (Stutterhug) and explores a truly spellbinding story about sticking together and helping animals at all costs.

(POST-IT SAYS: Large panels and minimal dialogue make this genuinely entertaining story fly by. Fans of magical creatures will love this action-filled story. Ages 8-11)

Sanity & Tallulah (Sanity & Tallulah Series #1) by Molly Brooks

Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are best friends on Wilnick, the dilapidated space station they call home at the end of the galaxy. So naturally, when gifted scientist Sanity uses her lab skills and energy allowance to create a definitely-illegal-but-impossibly-cute three-headed kitten, she has to show Tallulah. But Princess, Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds is a bit of a handful, and it isn’t long before the kitten escapes to wreak havoc on the space station. The girls will have to turn Wilnick upside down to find her, but not before causing the whole place to evacuate! Can they save their home before it’s too late?

Readers will be over the moon for this rollicking space adventure by debut author Molly Brooks.

(POST-IT SAYS: Smart girls in space! An adventurous 3-headed kitten and a space station possibly under threat mixes with humor and fun, diverse characters. Fans of sci-fi will adore this. Ages 8-12)

The Long Ride by Marina Budhos

In the tumult of 1970s New York City, seventh graders are bussed from their neighborhood in Queens to integrate a new school in South Jamaica.

Jamila Clarke. Josie Rivera. Francesca George. Three mixed-race girls, close friends whose immigrant parents worked hard to settle their families in a neighborhood with the best schools. The three girls are outsiders there, but they have each other.

Now, at the start seventh grade, they are told they will be part of an experiment, taking a long bus ride to a brand-new school built to “mix up the black and white kids.” Their parents don’t want them to be experiments. Francesca’s send her to a private school, leaving Jamila and Josie to take the bus ride without her.

While Francesca is testing her limits, Josie and Jamila find themselves outsiders again at the new school. As the year goes on, the Spanish girls welcome Josie, while Jamila develops a tender friendship with a boy—but it’s a relationship that can exist only at school.

(POST-IT SAYS: Solidly a middle grade novel. The struggles and challenges with race, class, gender, friendship, and adolescence are real and honest. A smart look at bussing, integration, and change. Ages 10-14)

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell, Aurelia Durand (Illustrator)

Who are you? What is racism? Where does it come from? Why does it exist? What can you do to disrupt it? Learn about social identities, the history of racism and resistance against it, and how you can use your anti-racist lens and voice to move the world toward equity and liberation.

“In a racist society, it’s not enough to be non-racist—we must be ANTI-RACIST.” —Angela Davis

Gain a deeper understanding of your anti-racist self as you progress through 20 chapters that spark introspection, reveal the origins of racism that we are still experiencing, and give you the courage and power to undo it. Each chapter builds on the previous one as you learn more about yourself and racial oppression. Exercise prompts get you thinking and help you grow with the knowledge.

Author Tiffany Jewell, an anti-bias, anti-racist educator and activist, builds solidarity beginning with the language she chooses—using gender neutral words to honor everyone who reads the book. Illustrator Aurélia Durand brings the stories and characters to life with kaleidoscopic vibrancy.

After examining the concepts of social identity, race, ethnicity, and racism, learn about some of the ways people of different races have been oppressed, from indigenous Americans and Australians being sent to boarding school to be “civilized” to a generation of Caribbean immigrants once welcomed to the UK being threatened with deportation by strict immigration laws.

Find hope in stories of strength, love, joy, and revolution that are part of our history, too, with such figures as the former slave Toussaint Louverture, who led a rebellion against white planters that eventually led to Haiti’s independence, and Yuri Kochiyama, who, after spending time in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during WWII, dedicated her life to supporting political prisoners and advocating reparations for those wrongfully interned.

This book is written for EVERYONE who lives in this racialized society—including the young person who doesn’t know how to speak up to the racist adults in their life, the kid who has lost themself at times trying to fit into the dominant culture, the children who have been harmed (physically and emotionally) because no one stood up for them or they couldn’t stand up for themselves, and also for their families, teachers, and administrators.

With this book, be empowered to actively defy racism to create a community (large and small) that truly honors everyone.

(POST-IT SAYS: Phenomenal resource. I truly wish everyone would read this. Drives home the point that diversity and inclusion are not enough—you have to be actively anti-racist. Empowering and educational. Ages 12-18)

More to the Story by Hena Khan

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.

When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.

Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all…

(POST-IT SAYS: A sweet and quiet story of family, friendship, missteps, and identity. Really lovely with plenty of parallels to Little Women, but those unfamiliar with the source material will do just fine. Ages 9-12)

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People by Elizabeth Rusch (3/31/2020)

All of the challenges facing our democracy today… problems with the electoral college, gerrymandering, voter suppression, lack of representation, voter disinterest, citizens who cannot vote, lobbying, money…lead to two questions: why doesn’t every vote really count? And what are we going to do about it?

Author Elizabeth Rusch examines some of the more problematic aspects of our government but, more importantly, offers ways for young people to fix them.

(POST-IT SAYS: Packed full of information, contemporary examples, and appealing visuals. Educates as well as inspires participation and action. For many, this comprehensive book will be an eye-opening look at the abuses and failures of government. Ages 13-18)

The Night of Your Life by Lydia Sharp (3/03/2020)

He’s having the worst prom ever… over and over again.

Does a perfect prom night exist? JJ’s about to find out.

All year, JJ’s been looking forward to going to prom with his best friend, Lucy. It will be their last hurrah before graduation — a perfect night where all their friends will relax, have fun together, and celebrate making it through high school.

But nothing goes according to plan. When a near car crash derails JJ before he even gets to prom, a potential new romance surfaces, and Lucy can’t figure out what happened to him, things spiral out of control. The best night of their lives quickly turns into the worst.

That is… until JJ wakes up the next day only to find that it’s prom night all over again. At first, JJ thinks he’s lucky to have the chance to get innumerable chances at perfecting the night of his life. But each day ends badly for him and Lucy, no matter what he does. Can he find a way to escape the time loop and move into the future with the girl he loves?

In the end, JJ might not get the prom he wanted, but he may well get the prom he needed…

(POST-IT SAYS: I never get tired of stories with a Groundhog Day premise. this light, fun prom story is a quick read all about figuring things out, getting it right, and learning when to move on. Ages 13-18)

All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins (3/03/2020)

In this contemporary YA for fans of Becky Albertalli, one girl decides it’s time to be really be herself–but will that cost her the best friend who once meant everything to her?

Ever since her mom died and her family moved to a new town four years ago, sixteen-year-old Vetty Lake has hidden her heart. She’d rather keep secrets than risk getting hurt–even if that means not telling anyone that she’s pretty sure she’s bisexual.

But this summer, everything could change. Vetty and her family are moving back to her old neighborhood, right across the street from her childhood best friend Pez. Next to Pez, she always felt free and fearless. Reconnecting with him could be the link she needs to get back to her old self.

Vetty quickly discovers Pez isn’t exactly the boy she once knew. He has a new group of friends, a glamorous sort-of-girlfriend named March, and a laptop full of secrets. And things get even more complicated when she feels a sudden spark with March.

As Vetty navigates her relationship with Pez and her own shifting feelings, one question looms: Does becoming the girl she longs to be mean losing the friendship that once was everything to her?

(POST-IT SAYS: This exploration of sexuality and adolescence is quiet but powerful. Realistic, sensitive, and tender, full of really beautiful writing, this character-driven story will be relatable and affirming for many readers. Ages 14-18)

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha

A powerful and moving teen graphic novel memoir about immigration, belonging, and how arts can save a life—perfect for fans of American Born Chinese and Hey, Kiddo.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together.

So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated.

Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother.

Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.  

(POST-IT SAYS: An insightful look at the life of a young immigrant trying to find where she fits as she redefines home, culture, family, and friendship. Heartfelt and excellent. Ages 12-18)

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

From New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes a middle-grade road-trip story through American race relations past and present, perfect for Black History Month and for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Jason Reynolds.

How to Go on an Unplanned Road Trip with Your Grandma:

Grab a Suitcase: Prepacked from the big spring break trip that got CANCELLED.

Fasten Your Seatbelt: G’ma’s never conventional, so this trip won’t be either.

Use the Green Book: G’ma’s most treasured possession. It holds history, memories, and most important, the way home.

What Not to Bring:

A Cell Phone: Avoid contact with Dad at all costs. Even when G’ma starts acting stranger than usual.

Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with New York Times bestselling Nic Stone and an eleven-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn’t always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren’t always what they seem—his G’ma included. Real historical elements like the Green Book, the subject and namesake of the recent Oscar winning film, make this an educational and powerful read.

(POST-IT SAYS: An immensely readable inter-generational road trip that reveals secrets, history, and hard truths about race, civil rights, and family. I adore Scoob and G’ma. Ages 9-12)

What Are Librarians Doing for Teens During Shutdown?

Last week, Stacey Shapiro shared with us some thoughts on virtual programming during shutdowns. You can read that post here.

Last night I asked on Twitter what everyone was doing and got some great responses. Some librarians are hosting online gaming and D&D sessions using Discord. If Discord is new to you, you might want to check out this Discord 101 tutorial.

You can see all of the replies and get some inspiration by following this Tweet and reading through the replies:

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Shower Melts by Cindy Shutts

I love doing bath and body programs. I based this programming on this recipe.

Aromatherapy Shower Melts

Supplies

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sea salt or Epsom salt
  • up to 2 tsp of water
  • Peppermint or lemon 10 drops 10
  • Bowl 
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Tablecloths
  • Use Food gloves for mixing

Steps:

  1. Mix dry ingredients in the bowl ½ cup of Baking soda and ¼ Epsom salt
  2. Add water slowly and mix. The mixture should stick together but not look wet. Add more water as needed.
  3. Add ten drop of the lemon or peppermint
  4. Move mixture in the plastic conditioner you should have enough for 2-3.
  5. Wait 24 hours for it to Dry

Final thought: This was a great program and when I get back to work I plan to do more programs like it.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

cindy

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.FacebookTwitterShare

The Bad Man With the Nice Smile, a guest post by Victoria Lee

Content warning: discussion of sexual assault, rape, child abuse, and gaslighting.

In September 2019, Netflix released a new miniseries, Unbelievable. The show followed the true story of a young girl who claimed a stranger broke into her house at night and raped her. But when she reports what happened to the police, parts of her story don’t seem to match up. As the series unfolds, we become aware of all the ways the system—but also the girl’s friends and family—have become biased against her. She’s a resident in a group home, a former delinquent, a foster child with a history of acting out, who had made accusations of abuse before. Everyone seems to assume that she is lying for attention.

As you might have predicted by now, she wasn’t lying. But by the time her attacker was caught and brought to justice, the damage was done; the girl had already been abandoned by everyone she should have been able to trust, just because she didn’t match the vision of what a “real” victim looked like in their heads.

The idea of real victims is a pervasive and pernicious one. Turn on the news and you’ll hear a litany of all the things that real victims do: they wear the right clothes, they don’t go out at night, they report the crime to the police and they don’t wait to do it, they have never made these kinds of allegations before. We are told these things even though victims cannot control the behavior of their aggressors, even though being in foster care or having mental illness or having been previously victimized all substantially increase your likelihood of experiencing future violence. Even though externalizing behaviors like drug use and acting out are often symptoms of having survived abuse.

As a child, I was sexually abused for four years, from ages twelve to sixteen. The perpetrator—although maybe I should say the molester or the rapist or the abuser, all of which are less sanitized and therefore strike me as more accurate—was a close friend of the family. He was my neighbor, my triathlon coach, a man so enmeshed in our lives that I described him to other people as my uncle because any lesser word seemed inadequate to describe the relationship he had with my family. He was in his early thirties and looked like Orlando Bloom and every single one of my friends who came over to the house commented on how ungodly hot he was.

When I was thirteen, I even wrote a character in one of my stories to look just like Brian. (We will call him Brian, because that is, in fact, his actual name. F you, Brian.) The character was the love interest, and was also the protagonist’s teacher. As you can see, already I knew that my job as victim was to romanticize such things. That was the only way to survive.

Brian was not a man in the bushes, was not unshaven in a stained wifebeater; he had no substance abuse problems that I was aware of; he was just a guy. A tall, athletic, well-educated, charismatic, attractive guy. Kids loved him, and he loved kids. Me, on the other hand…I couldn’t be a victim.

I was not what a victim looked like. I was a problem child. I spent too much time on the internet, and listened to angry music, and skipped class and stole my parents’ credit card and shoplifted and screamed at teachers and once threatened to kill a boy who touched me wrong. I was the girl that other girls weren’t allowed to be friends with. I was the girl they prayed for at night. I was the girl who wore boys’ clothes, all black, and kissed other girls and insisted it wasn’t a phase.

Therefore, I was not believed. Not by my family, not by my therapist. I was believed by the crisis team that was called in to evaluate me when the staff at the psychiatric hospital I was later admitted to following a suicide attempt suspected abuse. But at that point the damage was done—I swore to the crisis team that nothing had happened, their suspicions were unfounded, anything I had to say to keep the past buried. I couldn’t deal with being told, once again, that I wasn’t a victim.

Eventually, other girls came forward about my abuser, and he was charged by the state, and ultimately convicted. But this isn’t the kind of trauma you move past. Not just the trauma of the abuse, but the trauma of being told you’re too villainous to ever be victim.

This is why I wrote The Fever King and The Electric Heir. In the series, Dara and Noam both experience abuse in different ways. Dara was physically and sexually abused by a father figure, whereas Noam became enmeshed in an unhealthy, manipulative, exploitative relationship with a much older and much more powerful mentor figure. Both characters are, ultimately, abused by the same man, but their experiences of that abuse are different. The books follow how each character comes to terms with what happened to him, and begins the process of healing. Their abuser, like mine, was charismatic and respected and good-looking—he wasn’t the rapist hiding in the bushes or the drunk frat bro, he was a pillar of the community. When people look for the bad guy, they aren’t looking for Brian. They aren’t looking for Calix Lehrer.

That’s why it was so important to me to write about abusers who don’t fit our vivid stereotype of what an abuser ought to look like—that makes it more difficult to recognize abusers in the real world. And equally so, not all victim/survivors fit the same mold. Some survivors withdraw from the world and become quiet and nervous and fear sex. Other survivors lash out, angry, furious, willing to burn down anything that tries to hurt them again. And still others seem oddly unbothered by what happened to them, numb to the pain or burying it so deep they no longer feel it anymore.

All of these reactions—and others—are okay. The only “right” way to respond to trauma is the way that helps you survive.

I don’t think that good and varied representation of victim/survivors and abusers in literature is a panacea. Abusers are very skilled, after all, at gaslighting their victims (and everyone else). But wide representation of survivors and perpetrators is one step toward chipping away their power and undermining the stories they try to tell about villains and victims and heroes.

Meet Victoria Lee

Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering that spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whiskey. Lee writes early in the morning and then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her partner.

www.victorialeewrites.com Facebook: @victorialeewrites, @amazonpublishing Instagram: @sosaidvictoria, @amazonpublishing, Twitter: @sosaidvictoria, @amazonpub

About The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.

ISBN-13: 9781542005074
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Publication date: 03/17/2020
Series: Feverwake Series #2

Ages 14-17