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Break Means Break Not Work: A Treatise Against Homework Over School Breaks, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

This week my school is out for fall break, but I still have a very large project to finish. This project is for my English class over a book that we have been reading for weeks. The project is over Dante’s Inferno and it’s a multiple part project. My class has been working on it for over 2 weeks and we will be presenting after the break. The problem is that the teacher hasn’t been giving us much time in class to complete each part. Each group has to write an essay, make a visual, and write a canto. Now, this may not seem like a lot, but she won’t give you a 100 if you just turn in a powerpoint. She wants things like videos or a whole diorama. I have no issue with the idea of making something like that, but I do have a problem with being told that I will have time in class when I won’t.

This teacher gave us two days for the essay, nobody finished. The teacher gave us two days to write our cantos, nobody finished. She has given us no time in class for our visual so obviously nobody has finished. We have no choice but to work over the break if we want to finish and make a 100. Everyone I have talked to is basically at the same point as us, and everyone is pretty concerned.

The project itself is fine. The instructions are easy to follow, but it’s just so many parts and not enough time. I thought the break was supposed to be my time to take some time away from doing assignments, but now it’s my time to finish a project. I know not many people get this break, but if they did then they would also want it to be an actual break.

Maybe you think I would have time to do this after school, but I don’t. I have tennis practice everyday after school except for Tuesday because that’s match day. Or maybe the other kids in my group could do it after school, but they can’t. They’re all in band. None of us have time. The break is our only option.

I was looking forward to this break. I have been working every night for hours. Some rest time would have been nice. This year has been stressful enough, but it’s getting even more stressful with this project.

I really just want a break, and I need it. Having to work is so tiring. I’m exhausted, but i have to keep working. Please make your breaks actual breaks. We all need it.

Riley, Teen Reviewer

I am a senior in high school and an avid reader. I have been reviewing books on this blog since 2012. I love musical theatre and listen to show tunes a lot. I also love murder books (both fiction and nonfiction), and she wants to go to college to be a forensic scientist after high school. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so I must put that hobby to good use for my mom.

Friday Finds: October 9, 2020

This Week at TLT

Book Review: Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Cindy Crushes Programming: Three Make and Take Programs for Teens, by teen librarian Cindy Shutts

Why are Teen Girls the new Sci-Fi Protagonists?, a guest post by Brea Grant

Raising Superheroes: How Tough Times Create Resilient Kids, by author Rebecca Behrens

Have Some K-Pop, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Around the Web

Lumberjanes’ Animated TV Series Based On Boom! Comics From Noelle Stevenson Eyed By HBO Max

‘The Inheritance Games’: Grainne Godfree To Write & Executive Produce YA TV Series In Works At Amazon

Nicola and David Yoon Launch YA Romance Imprint Starring Heroes of Color

Enrollment Is Dropping In Public Schools Around the Country

Book Review: Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Publisher’s description

Charming as a Verb

From the award-winning author of The Field Guide to the North American Teenager comes a whip-smart and layered romantic comedy. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and Jenny Han. 

Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He is a star debater and popular student at the prestigious FATE academy, the dutiful first-generation Haitian son, and the trusted dog walker for his wealthy New York City neighbors. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University.

There is only one person who seems immune to Henri’s charms: his “intense” classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers Henri’s less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself.

Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for. . . .

This is a sharply funny and insightful novel about the countless hustles we have to keep from doing the hardest thing: being ourselves.

Amanda’s thoughts

If, for some reason, you were to click on my name and read a bunch of my reviews in a row, you might think, good lord, she just looooves everything. But you know what? I don’t. I abandon probably three times as many books as I finish. If a book isn’t something I’m enjoying, unless I think it’s an actively harmful or horrible book, I’ll just set it aside and move on. I’m going to use my blog time to say, hey, look at this GREAT book. Reviews that just could be summed up as “this book was fine, I guess” don’t serve anyone. SO, that said, guess what? Yep! I looooooved this book.

Haitian American Henri is always hustling, beaming his Smile at everyone, but reserving his real smile for the few that really know him beyond his school persona. He runs a dog walking company that’s not so much an actual company as it is just him with a more professional looking front to get more business. Henri juggles the dogs, school, debate team, and preparing to hopefully attend Columbia, his dream school (well, maybe his. Definitely his dad’s dream school). His dad’s their building’s super and his mom recently traded in her life as a paralegal to become a firefighter. Black and poor, Henri knows he doesn’t have the same opportunities or connections that help his classmates at the Fine Arts Technical Education Academy sail easily through life, but he keeps working hard and Smiling, hoping it all pans out.

Senior year ends up holding many surprises, the biggest (and best) being Corinne, his upstairs neighbor and the most intense girl in his class. She blackmails Henri into helping her revamp her image as someone less uptight and socially awkward, hoping it will improve her college recommendation letters. And while Henri is game, he has no idea what he’s in for. Turns out that Cori is not just brilliant but totally and bluntly honest, hilarious, and almost always gets what she wants (usually thanks to a series of note cards to study from and exceedingly detailed multi-point plans). What starts as a weird transaction between the two turns into a real friendship (and more) as they get to see each other beyond the labels, preconceived ideas, and Smiles. But Henri messes it all up (and I mean ALL of it) when he makes a terrible choice that he justifies as evening the playing field but really is just SO. BAD.

This book has everything going for it. The conversational tone, the standout characters, the excellent (and rocky) romance… everything. I’m a fast reader. Generally my approach is that I have to read as fast as I possibly can so I can keep flying through my TBR pile. But if I take the time to slow down, to make sure I’m really reading and not just skimming, to be sure I’m enjoying every well-crafted sentence and clever exchange, then I know I am loving a book. I stretched this one out over three afternoons, just so I could keep dipping back into Henri and Cori’s world. A completely satisfying, engaging, and memorable read.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9780062824141
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2020
Age Range: 13 – 17 Years

Cindy Crushes Programming: Three Make and Take Programs for Teens, by teen librarian Cindy Shutts

Today Teen Librarian extraordinaire Cindy Shutts has three fun make and take program ideas that would be fun for tweens and teens.

Shrinky Dinks

This is a classic craft. I used to do them all the time pre pandemic but now I realize it is an easy take and make. I am doing fandom Shrinky Dinks. I am including different coloring pages they can trace to make their image.


  • Shrinky Art Paper Kit
  • Sharpies
  • Coloring pages
  • Toaster oven or oven
  • Oven Mitt
  • Scissors
  • Optional: hole punch


  1. Trace your image from the coloring page with a sharpie on the Shrinky Dink page and color it in as needed.
  2. Cut your image from the Shrinky Dink page
  3. Use a hole punch if  you want to make your image a charm.
  4. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Please do this craft with parental or guardian supervision. Make sure you have an oven mitt to take the image in and out of the toaster oven.
  5. Place the image on a tray in the oven. Make sure your tray is for oven use. Please use an oven mitt.
  6. Watch the oven for 1-2 images. It should shrink. If  it curls and looks like it will not uncurl, remove the tray with the oven mitt and use the scissors to press down the image.
  7. Please wait to touch this Shrinky Dink until it has cooled.

Bottle Cap Pins

We had Riverdale comics in because we had already ordered comics before free comics book day. So our Crest Hill Branch teen librarian Faith Healy came up with doing a Bottlecap Riverdale Pin to help give the comics away.

Supplies Needed:

  • Bottle Caps               
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Character Sheet        
  • 2.2 in cloth pins
  • Hole punch for preparing the bottle cap

Here are Faith instruction’s

1. Make your own set of Riverdale Pins or Archie Comics Pins or mix and match. Choose your favorite eight characters to make your pins and cut them out to fit on the bottle caps.

2. Put down a light layer of Elmer’s glue on top of a bottle cap, place your chosen character on the bottlecap. Then place a light layer of glue on top of the character and on the sides. This layer will give the pin a sealing layer to stay nicer longer. Leave them to dry. Anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours.

3. Each bottle cap should have two holes punched in it. Open a safety pin and slide in the two holes.

4. Wear the pins, place them on your backpacks. Trade and share with friends.

Fairy Jars

This is a craft I have done many times. In fact last year I was doing one to two jar crafts a month. I loved doing fairy tale images and all different types of fandoms images. Hamilton images were very popular. You can do a theme. I think that works best.


  • Jar
  • Tissue Paper light colors work best
  • Image printed and cut out ot using the silhouette Cameo Machine
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Accent pieces such as ribbons and buttons and fake flowers
  • Glitter Glue (Optional)
  • Glue Brush
  • LED Tea light


  1. Place your image inside the jar. You can tape or glue the image inside the jar
  2. Place a layer of glue around the jar and then gently place the tissue paper around the jar. Trim off any extra. I am very careful about making sure the silhouette in the jar is not covered by the over fold of the tissue paper. You also want to create a very small part where there are two layers of tissue paper.
  3. Add another layer of glue on top of the tissue paper.
  4. Wait for it to dry
  5. You can use a layer of glitter glue on top if you want.
  6. Add accent pieces. I like to add my accent pieces to the top of the jar. I open the jar so I can see how it will be when I need to replace the light inside or turn it back on.
  7. Turn on the light and place it in the jar.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS


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.

Why are Teen Girls the new Sci-Fi Protagonists?, a guest post by Brea Grant

You can’t slingshot a rock right now without hitting a YA book about a teen girl surviving a dystopian apocalypse, discovering her magical powers, or finding a doorway to an alternate land. I’m not complaining but it’s interesting that teen girls are at the front and center of the science fiction/fantasy universe. What is it about the teen girl experience that lends itself to being a protagonist in an otherworldly adventure?

When writing my new graphic novel, Mary, I took a look at Mary Shelley’s personal history and built on it to create my own teen girl protagonist forging her own way and finding a magical world. My modern-day character, Mary, is the fictional descendant of Mary Shelley. She comes from a long line of writers and is expected to become a writer herself. Instead, she discovers that Mary Shelley was not writing about the fictional creature of Frankenstein’s monster but instead was writing a guidebook for her progeny so they could follow in her real footsteps — not as writers but as a doctor to monsters. When my current-day Mary discovers this, she must grapple with what she’s been told about the world and her future choices. It’s coming-of-age magnified.

Struggling with knowing what to do with your life is something most of us can all relate to…even in our mid-to-late 30s (note to self: figure out what you want to do) and beyond. Writing this graphic novel, I felt like I could take my own meandering path regarding my career choices and put it into a magical context and that somehow made it…easier to deal with? Mary could think about her life in a way that I couldn’t because her world was actually as strange as mine has always felt. If the world is actually bizarre, difficult to understand, and magical, maybe she (or myself by extension) wasn’t such a weirdo for not being able to fit into it. If the reason that you are unable to make a decision about what to do with your life is because there are monsters living among us and no one told you about them, maybe you weren’t so wrong to have trouble deciding whether or not to go to college (or insert other major life decision here)!

Mary Shelley herself happens to be an interesting heroine in real life. Shelley can be credited with being the mother of modern day science fiction as we know it. She was a pioneer. What people often forget is that she was only 19 when she conceived of the concept for Frankenstein, on a cold, dark night (true story!). When published, it was so outlandish that a woman would write something horrific that she didn’t put her actual name on its first published editions.

So, like a lot of heroines in science fiction novels, she was a rebel. She didn’t fit into the rules of her day. She had a relationship with a man against her parents wishes and was estranged from them for many years. She wrote and created in an unexplored genre that was unseemly for women. And like many of our modern-day heroines in the aforementioned apocalyptic situations, she forged her own way against the rules that had been set up. We don’t center YA novels around teenagers following the rules and upholding tradition. We center them around pioneering young people willing to take chances and break things. Shelley was definitely one of those. She opened up a magical door that was rarely opened for female writers while under the age of 20. Teen female protagonist for the win.

Being young encourages imagination. I am in the small minority of people who have the privilege of spending most of my days imagining worlds that don’t exist. Between the pull of adulthood, responsibilities and all of the very crushing realities of growing up, somewhere along the way, we lose our ability to just play. Science fiction and fantasy allow us to be imaginative. They allow us to escape — as writers or readers. So it may be obvious that age has a lot to do with the many examples we see of female protagonists fighting monsters, discovering worlds, and ending up winning the day. We associate science fiction — the ultimate place for imagination — with youth. Of course our main characters are youthful. They still are allowed to play.

But that doesn’t explain the choice of young women over young men as sci-fi protagonists. I would make the argument that the monsters/dragons/evil doers are stand-ins for the harsh realities of growing up and the tough decisions young women have to make. The female experience lends itself to the paranormal in the obvious ways our bodies change but also the way in which societal standards morph as we get older. As children, we can run, play and be free to think wildly but as we get older, those things start to be discouraged. A young girl covered in mud is much different than a 20-year-old. Dealing with these standards is like fighting off a demon. It is choosing to stand out and creating an entirely new set of rules. It’s difficult. I think it’s why we are seeing so many interesting trans characters in sci-fi as well. Trans people have known they were breaking societal rules for a long time. They have been fighting these monsters since the day they realized they wanted to wear a dress instead of a soccer uniform. Breaking out of these molds are otherworldly. For a young woman, something as simple as choosing to study engineering is comparable to teen heroine picking up a sword for the first time in an all-male league of dragon fighters. Although different worlds, it takes the same amount of courage to be a young woman who doesn’t quite fit into the mold of what is expected and to continue to push boundaries.

I love that we have these models for young women. It’s hard to be a thing if you can’t see it and we can see these boundary-pushing young women all over YA right now. So, if you’re never fought a monster before, how do you do it? You dive in like Katniss, Emika, Sunny, Starr and the many other teenage female protagonists who are fighting new fights, figuring their way through it, and on the other end, becoming the heroes of their own stories.

Meet Brea Grant

Brea Grant is a filmmaker/writer best known for her Emmy-nominated work on the Netflix series, EastSiders, and her most recent film, 12 Hour Shift, a comedy heist film starring Angela Bettis and David Arquette. It premiered at Tribeca in 2020. A month later, she starred in the horror film, Lucky, which she also wrote, directed by Natasha Kermani, which premiered at SXSW in 2020. Her first comic series is called We Will Bury You, which was published by IDW and co-written with her brother, Zane Grant. She co-hosts a weekly book podcast called Reading Glasses with author Mallory O’Meara on the Maximum Fun Network. She started in the film industry as an actress and has appeared on shows like Heroes, Friday Night Lights, and Dexter, as well as horror films like Halloween II and the recent indie favorite, After Midnight.

Brea online:




About Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter

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.

ISBN-13: 9781644420294
Publisher: Six Foot Press
Publication date: 10/06/2020
Age Range: 12 – 18 Years

Raising Superheroes: How Tough Times Create Resilient Kids, by author Rebecca Behrens

Today we are very excited to host this great post about resilient kids by author Rebecca Behrens. 2020 is proving to be a difficult year for our kids and Behrens shares tips to get them involved, give them space, and help grow resilient kids to survive the challenge that is 2020 – and life in general.

“I told her to keep happy thoughts.” That’s how Leia Carrico kept her little sister, Caroline, calm during the first night they spent stranded in the Northern California wilderness. The girls, just five and eight years old at the time of their ordeal, had wandered off a deer trail while looking for a “sunny spot” in the woods near their home, and soon found themselves wandering in circles.

Once the girls realized they were hopelessly lost, they stopped to wait under the shelter of a bush they nicknamed their “huckleberry home.” The sisters stayed hydrated by licking rainwater droplets off of leaves, and they stayed positive by focusing on things they loved, those “happy thoughts” about their family and trips to the ocean. At night, Leia bravely kept watch for wild animals—like bears and mountain lions—while Caroline tried to rest. The girls kept yelling for help, even losing their voices—but not before searchers heard them and cut through bramble bushes for a dramatic rescue, after forty-four harrowing hours alone in the woods.

Stories like the amazing Carrico sisters’—and my own, far less dramatic childhood brushes with wildlife and severe weather—have helped inspire the fictional survival stories I write for young readers. In researching my books, I’ve uncovered many stories of kids whose daring and determination have helped them get through maritime mistakes, natural disasters, being stranded in the wilderness—not to mention times of serious emotional stress. I’ve also picked up a few tips for parents and families who want to encourage resourcefulness and resilience in their kids, both while out exploring the world and sheltered at home.

A little training does a lot of good Crucially, the Carrico sisters, once they recognized that they were lost, stayed in one place to better their chances of being found. They also knew the risks of dehydration and that fresh rainwater on leaves would be their safest bet for a drink. The girls’ survival knowledge—Leia had even learned how to safely start a fire to keep warm!—was thanks to wilderness training from a local 4-H club, family camping trips, and what they’d seen in the movies.

Some suggestions for training in your own family could include:

Consider signing your family up for outdoors or survival skills training if available from a group in your community—such as a scouts organization4-H, or the Red Cross.

Set aside some time to talk to your kids about how to stay safe outdoors or in an unexpected survival situation—such as getting stranded on the highway, or how to handle a major power outage at home.

Always be prepared Whether you are planning an epic backcountry trek or a ten-minute stroll in a state park, you should always go into nature prepared. Follow these tips to set out safely:

Make sure to always tell others where you are planning to be and when you expect to be back. (This advice goes for both adults and older teens hiking alone and families outdoors together.)

Weather conditions can change suddenly, so wear layers that can keep you comfortable when the temperature rises or drops.

Bring plenty of snacks and water—considering the weight of what you pack along is important, but in general it’s better to have more than you need than not enough.

This probably goes without saying, but a working cell phone to get help in an emergency is a must, whether you’re going near or far into nature. This past August, a Pennsylvania family was rescued from a Mount Washington trail in New Hampshire after they got disoriented on a daytime hike. Luckily, they had a cell phone and were able to call for help. Rescuers finally reached them in the dark, just before 11:00 p.m.—saving them from an overnight on the mountain, where temperatures were dropping fast. It was the third search-and-rescue call of the day—all of those hikers were fortunate they had charged phones (so watch how much juice you have left while taking selfies on the trail).

Safer at home: Natural disasters, extreme weather, and even now global pandemics are an unfortunate part of life. Even while you’re at home, these events can impact safety, security, and physical and mental health. The good news is, a little preparation in putting together an emergency kit can make these events a lot easier for your family to overcome.

Make sure your family’s kit is well-stocked—experts recommend a three-day supply of food and water, plus necessary medications, toiletries, and other supplies to stay safe and comfortable at home in extreme conditions.

A great tip is to pack coloring books, puzzles, and other non-electronic toys in your emergency kit, so you don’t have to use precious battery charge to stay occupied.

Look for lists of what to include at Ready.gov and your local Red Cross website. Make sure to consider what the most common natural disasters are in your area!

Did you have trouble finding toilet paper or tissues last March—or even your pantry staples? You don’t need to panic-buy and stock a closet full of Charmin, but it’s a good idea to set aside a little extra of your most-used household and grocery items so the next time there’s a blizzard—or a stay-at-home order—you don’t have to make a harried Target run.

The comfort of familiar or favorite things can also help kids cope when the world seems scary outside. As a child, I was terrified by summertime tornado warnings. But whenever we had to shelter from the storm, my mom let us grab some treats from the “deep freeze” freezer in the basement—like our supply of frozen Girl Scout cookies. Somehow, Thin Mints always made waiting out the storm a little easier.

Model resilience: While tough times—like the novel coronavirus pandemic, or after an earthquake, flood, or other natural disaster—put strain on all family members, they are also an opportunity to teach resilience. Dr. Sheila Modir, a pediatric psychologist in Orange County, suggests creating a “Family Coping Box” that is filled with items to help soothe when someone is feeling stressed. Perhaps most important is maintaining an open dialogue in your family about emotions in difficult times, to make sure kids are comfortable sharing their Big Feelings about the challenges and changes going on in their homes, schools, and communities. Need help getting started?

The American Library Association offers a variety of disaster resources online.

The book blog Pop! Goes the Reader has compiled a list of twenty-five recent survival titles to give middle-grade and young adult readers hope in tough times.

You can also ask your local librarian for an age-appropriate “overcoming adversity” booklist to read together as a family, then let the conversations flow.

Be the helpers: In an ongoing Vanderbilt University study, two thousand families across the United States are volunteering to collect their own COVID-19 swabs at home, which they then mail to researchers. The study hopes to gain information about how many kids get infected with the virus, and then how much they spread it to others they’re in close contact with—and the study’s results could help schools open safely in the future. For the families currently involved, it’s a way to contribute to science from home.

Eight-year-old Benna Schlub in New York City also found a way to help from home: She slipped notes under the doors of the elderly residents of her apartment building during the coronavirus outbreak this spring, offering to pick up their groceries and essentials so they didn’t need to put themselves at risk to shop in stores.

Kids have also found ways to contribute as budding inventors—ten-year-old Matthew Valerio in California invented a mask-and-T-shirt combo with snaps to encourage kids to always have a face mask handy. And the Ellis family in Ontario, Canada, created a “hug glove”—a plastic sheet with sleeves to allow the kids to hug Grandma without risking direct contact. Encouraging kids to creatively problem solve to find ways to help in the midst of a pandemic helps them stay connected to their communities while developing confidence—and building their STEM skills.

Some suggestions for your family to join “the helpers” now and in the future could include:

Using fabric remnants at home to sew face masks for your family’s use or to donate to healthcare workers.

Signing up to become disaster volunteers with an organization like the Red Cross.

Donating food, clothing, books, other supplies, or funds to national or local organizations responding after emergency situations. Coordinating a bake sale, a book drive, or a fundraising walk/run is a great way for kids and families to make a difference and connect with their communities in a meaningful way.

Kids are naturally resilient and resourceful—just look at the Carrico sisters’ story of survival. “They saved each other,” the girls’ mother told reporters, adding, “I raised superheroes.” Kids are capable of amazing, heroic things, and that includes their ability to cope and bounce back from whatever challenges nature, or life, throws their way. The opportunity to grow their resilience superpower can be a silver lining, in even the toughest times.

Rebecca Behrens is the author of the critically acclaimed middle-grade novels When Audrey Met AliceSummer of Lost and FoundThe Last Grand Adventure, and The Disaster Days, which is a Junior Library Guild selection, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book, and an ILA Teachers’ Choices selection. Look for her latest thrillingly realistic survival story, Alone in the Woods, in October 2020. You can visit her online, and view resources for parents and educators, at www.rebeccabehrens.com.


From the author of The Disaster Days comes a thrilling survival story about two former best friends who must work together to stay alive after getting lost in a remote national forest.

Jocelyn and Alex have always been best friends…until they aren’t. Jocelyn’s not sure what happened, but she hopes the annual joint-family vacation in the isolated north woods will be the perfect spot to rekindle their friendship.

But Alex still isn’t herself when they get to the cabin. And Jocelyn reaches a breaking point during a rafting trip that goes horribly wrong. When the girls’ tube tears it leaves them stranded and alone. And before they know it, the two are hopelessly lost.

Wearing swimsuits and water shoes and with only the contents of their wet backpack, the girls face threats from the elements. And as they spend days and nights lost in the wilderness, they’ll have to overcome their fractured friendship to make it out of the woods alive.

Praise for The Disaster Days:
“A realistic, engrossing survival story that’s perfect for aspiring babysitters and fans of John Macfarlane’s Stormstruck!, Sherry Shahan’s Ice Island, or Wesley King’s A World Below.”–School Library Journal
“The strength of this steadily paced novel that stretches over four days of a scary disaster scenario is that Hannah doesn’t figure everything out; she stumbles, doubts, and struggles throughout it all.”–The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Fans of survival thrillers in the vein of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet will enjoy this tense, honest tale of bravery…an excellent (and refreshingly not didactic) teaching tool on natural-disaster preparedness.”–Booklist
“The relentless progression of a variety of disaster scenarios will keep readers turning pages…equally suspenseful and informative.”–School Library Connection
“Behrens uses immersive details and situations effectively viewed from Hannah’s perspective to create a suspenseful, vivid story filled with lessons about responsibility and overcoming adversity.”–Publishers Weekly 

From Sourcebooks Young Readers October 1, 2020 ISBN 9781492673378

Have Some K-Pop, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

K-Pop has been making a comeback for while now, and it’s proving to be very popular with teens. Many teens are very invested in certain groups and some even learn numerous dance routines that go with songs. So, here are a few songs that I enjoy by popular K-pop groups.

Back Door by Stray Kids

Love Shot by EXO

Lovesick Girls by BLACKPINK

Psycho by Red Velvet

Fancy by TWICE

All of these songs are fairly new, the oldest one going back only a year. These groups are usually some of the most well known, except for BTS which was left off the list because most people know of that group. There are obviously more groups and each group has numerous good songs, so if you find that you enjoy K-pop then there is plenty of songs out there.

And here are a few YA books for KPop fans

Riley, Teen Reviewer

I am a senior in high school and an avid reader. I have been reviewing books on this blog since 2012. I love musical theatre and listen to show tunes a lot. I also love murder books (both fiction and nonfiction), and want to go to college to be a forensic scientist after high school. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so I just put that hobby to good use for my mom.

Big, Funny, and Proud, a guest post by Rebecca Elliott

That’s my character Haylah in my book Pretty Funny for a Girl. And I don’t necessarily mean “big” in the physical sense, although Haylah (known as “Pig” to her friends) is dealing with body confidence issues surrounding her plus-size figure. She’s big in her personality, ambitions, opinions, and passions. I wrote the character as a reaction to the message we are so often spoon-fed—that girls are pretty, meek, innocent, and sweet, or else they are slutty and objectified. Either way, girls are passive and not yet a fully formed thing, and when they are, they’re past their best.


This narrow description, consistently shoved in our faces by the media and society, literally fits NO teenage girl I have ever met. EVER.

Girls are exciting and passionate and strong and ambitious and fierce and wonderfully weird and a hundred different things in any given moment. And girls are funny. So frickin’ funny. Yet often the girls who know they’re funny, know they’re clever, know their personality is brighter and bigger than any room could possibly hold still feel like a no one. Why? Because the crappy societal pressures, ever more present in today’s Instagrammy world, tell them they don’t live up to the impossible and downright dull expectations we put on girldom.

Using stand-up comedy, which is a big fear for a lot of people, seemed like a good way to explore my main character’s bravery, not in a dystopian-hero-saving-the-world kind of way, but in more of a relatable way. Even if it’s not a career readers are interested in, I think there’s so much in stand-up that teens can identify with: the intense vulnerability and the desire to be noticed and heard but not to be judged. Plus it’s a good excuse to make a lot of jokes and hopefully make readers laugh. Because, as Haylah says, “When you find the funny in this serious world that is so often full of pain and cruelty, it’s like discovering a diamond in a cave of crap. It’s precious.”

So aside from my own life-long love of comedy, this is another reason why I chose to have Haylah deal with both body image and her confidence as a comedian at the same time. Because girls are already in many ways standing on a stage feeling like the world is staring at them and judging them, and I wanted my character to voluntarily take that leap onto centre stage and find the confidence to proudly be herself, to say, “This is me, with all my perfect imperfections, and dammit I have a voice and deserve to be heard!”

I very much didn’t want the body image thing to be the central theme of the book. So often when plus-size female characters are the main protagonists of books and movies, their weight is the major factor, the main narrative hook to hang everything else from. But guess what: when you are bigger, that usually isn’t the main thrust of your own narrative  (and I certainly never wanted to lead her towards some “happy” ending where she loses the weight and all is well with her world—like thin people have it all sorted too!).

Yes, Haylah feels that she’s big and at times wrestles with the way that makes people perceive her, but for the most part she’s quite happy with herself and what she thinks about way more than the way she looks is her ambition to do something amazing—become a stand-up comedian. I only wish that the way we look, particularly for teenagers, could take a back seat to the way more important stuff, like our passions and ambitions.

Whilst, as with most of us, Haylah may always struggle a little with her body confidence, I think she’d also say that one of the coolest realisations as a feminist is that there is no right or wrong way for a girl to look, to dress, to act, so be you big, small, loud, shy, “masculine,” “feminine,” high-heeled and preened, DM-wearing and pierced, and anything and everything in-between and outside—it’s ALL GOOD, and it’s all beautiful. We are sold, particularly on social media, the ideal of “perfection,” whereas the message should, of course, and particularly in respect to teenagers already bombarded by judgement and pressure, be that YOU ARE PERFECT REGARDLESS. By getting on stage and being the girl she is, nothing more, nothing less, Haylah isn’t proving that she thinks herself perfect, but that she’s happy in her own skin; as Sophia Bush so eloquently put it, “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.”

So I hope one of the central themes of the books is screw the haters, screw the ridiculous expectations of society and social media, the only opinion of you that matters is your own opinion. So be whoever the hell you want to be and be proud—shoulders back, tits out, and go show the world who you really are.

I hope the book resonances with readers, and particularly those closest to my heart—the gobby, opinionated, wildly inappropriate, larger-than-life girls who make you laugh until you pee your pants. The girls who need to shake off society’s ridiculous expectations of them, jump under the spotlight and crack on with joyously wobbling their funny bits in the face of life.

Meet Rebecca Elliott

REBECCA ELLIOTT is an author and illustrator of many picture books and The Owl Diaries early chapter book series. Pretty Funny for a Girl is her first YA novel. She earned a degree in philosophy and once did a brief stint in a dull office. Now, she enjoys eating angel delight, loudly venting on a drum kit, and spending time in her sunny garden. She lives in England with her family, some chickens, and a cat named Bernard.

Find Rebecca’s book at Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/pretty-funny-for-a-girl/9781682631478

Rebecca’s site/social:





About Pretty Funny For a Girl

Pretty Funny for a Girl

A candid and laugh-out-loud journey of family, friends, and fierce mistakes.

Haylah Swinton is an ace best friend, a loving daughter, and an incredibly patient sister to a four-year-old nutcase of a brother. Best of all, she’s pretty confident she’s mastered making light of every situation—from her mom’s new boyfriend to unsolicited remarks on her plus-sized figure. Haylah’s learning to embrace all of her curvy parts and, besides, she has a secret: one day, she’ll be a stand-up comedian star.

So when impossibly cool and thirstalicious Leo reveals he’s also into comedy, Haylah jumps at the chance to ghost-write his sets. But is Leo as interested in returning the favor? Even though her friends warn her of Leo’s intentions, Haylah’s not ready to listen—and she might just be digging herself deeper toward heartbreak. If Haylah’s ever going to step into the spotlight, first she’ll need to find the confidence to put herself out there and strut like the boss she really is.

Rebecca Elliott’s hilarious and authentic narrative voice is sure to capture readers’ hearts as her plus-sized, teenage heroine navigates learning to love the body she’s in while dealing with friends, family, and boys.

ISBN-13: 9781682631478
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company
Publication date: 10/01/2020
Age Range: 12 – 16 Years

RevolTeens: Teens and Art Changing the World, by Christine Lively

Everything is just too serious. I realize that this is not news to anyone. There are so many overwhelming terrible things happening that it’s hard to find hope or joy in the news. There are so many news articles about how teens have been hit hard by the pandemic and quarantine.

But, I have learned in the last year, one of the most amazing things about teens is that they will remind us that they can find hope and joy as an act of revolution. The spirit of teens never fails to amaze me, and this month I’m amazed at their commitment to art and justice.

In Teen Arts Councils around the country high school students work to learn about arts and exhibitions in museums and advise the curators during their time of service. Many Teen Councils also design programs where they give tours to other teens and facilitate discussions with artists. They also host their own exhibitions and sometimes social events just for teens to come and enjoy the Arts.

Many art museums have teen art councils. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston describes their Teen Art Council this way:

“The Teen Arts Council (TAC) is the MFA’s leadership development program for Boston-area teens. The TAC offers participants the opportunity to engage with art, culture, and history; develop workplace and team building skills; and learn about a range of professional options and career paths.

  • Advise the MFA on engagement strategies for local teens
  • Implement programs and events for peers and the general public
  • Learn about the arts and cultural sector in the City of Boston by engaging with the city’s other teen programs and cultural institutions”

As with all RevolTeens, though, many of the Teen Arts Council members at these museums have not been content to continue the status quo, they have begun revolting.

This year, the Teen Creative Agency, a Teen Council at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, revolted against the injustices they saw at the museum and launched a campaign to challenge the museum’s directors to do better.

According to Teen Vogue, when a photo was published that suggested that the museum had donated money to the Chicago Police Department, the Teen Council wrote an Open Letter to the museum’s director powerfully challenging her to acknowledge the ways that the Chicago Police had abused their power and demanded that the museum clarify their relationship with the CPD. They launched a petition to gain attention and support for their efforts through their Instagram account @TCAAMCA

“We realized this is bigger than we thought,” says Vivian Zamora, an 18-year-old recent alumnus of TCA. “It’s not just cops. There’s mistreatment of part-time staff, not enough transparency. A lot of our work now is pointing out how this institution works.”

These RevolTeens are not afraid to question not only adults, but revered institutions and demand that they answer for problems, and injustices that they have been able to ignore.

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts recognized the powerful perspective of teens. They decided to launch  the museum’s first exhibition curated entirely by high school students titled “Black Histories, Black Futures,” The exhibit contains works by 20th century artists of color, and brings a fresh new perspective to the collection, as well as bringing young people into the museum. According to the Museum’s website: 

‘The teen curators—fellows from youth empowerment organizations Becoming a Man (BAM), The BASE, and the Bloomberg Arts Internship Boston program managed by EdVestors—used skills they developed as paid interns in a pilot internship program at the MFA to research, interpret, and design the exhibition. Their work highlights areas of excellence within the Museum’s collection and lays foundations for the future.”

The museum recognizes the energy and the change that teens bring into the work that they do. Collaborating with teens should be a priority for more institutions going forward as they look for ways to increase their social relevance, appeal, and community involvement.

Finally, the Studio Museum Harlem has held a teen art photography education program for eight months every year during which teens learn the art of photography. This year, of course, the whole process has been drastically changed. From the Museum’s web page:

“The online photography exhibition Hearts in Isolation: Expanding the Walls 2020 features work by the fifteen teenage artists in the 2020 cohort of the Museum’s annual program, Expanding the Walls: Making Connections Between Photography, History, and Community. Launching July 30th, the first online edition of the annual Expanding the Walls exhibition marks the program’s twentieth anniversary.

During their eight months in the program, Expanding the Walls participants from New York City–area high schools explore digital photography, artistic practice, and community—a term that took on new meaning this year, when students could no longer gather with one another and their mentors but had to complete the program remotely. As a result, their photographs reflect on themes of home and safety.”

The exhibit can be viewed fully online here: Hearts In Isolation: Expanding the Walls

If you are feeling bleak and alone, go visit the work of these remarkable and brilliant RevolTeens and remind yourself that the future is in their hands, and they have the heart, brilliance, hope, courage, and joy to make this world so much better.

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.

How to Write Books that Aren’t Exciting, a guest post by Bryan Bliss

When I first came up with the idea for Thoughts & Prayers, I paused. Coming off the heels of my previous novel—We’ll Fly Away, which dealt with the death penalty—I was reminded of a writing mentor’s response when one of his eager MFA students really went for it.

“A bit much.”

A school shooting book? Really? While I have made a career writing about current topics, I’ve always been hesitant to go too “ripped from the headlines” for fear of trading on pain and trauma in the name of publishing a relevant novel. Plus, if I’m honest, the voices of my two teenagers were in my head, reminding me I write books that—and I quote—aren’t very exciting.

Teens, right?

But…fair enough.

I’ve always been interested in the subtle moments of adolescence. The rages and the furies, yes. But in smaller quantities—only used to offset the quieter moments when kids are alone with one another, when they feel vulnerable and connected in a way that is so intimate, so real, I often believe adults spend the rest of their lives seeking that same connection. That same sense of truly being accepted. Having somebody you can count on, no matter what.

This urgency is well known to anyone who writes or reads young adult literature. But too often, it can become a hyper-reality, especially in so-called issue novels. I don’t fault any writer who wants to tell a story in the moment. In fact, I often wonder if I would do the same if I could only pull it off with any skill. But if we begin thinking teenagers are only searching for that sort of rush—an adrenaline shot in 300 pages—we miss out on the need, the desire, to develop and investigate interior lives. To encounter big traumas on the page and relate them to the different-sized traumas we all face.

I am not trying to be an apologist for my novels or suggest that there aren’t many other authors working in these same, subtle places. Writers I respect, like Nina LaCour, Sara Zarr, Francisco X. Stork, and Lamar Giles (to name a few) are masters at presenting stories that are simultaneously beautiful, complicated, and joyful. These authors give teenagers an opportunity to see a familiar, often challenging world—the world as it could be—in the pages of books that honor the struggles and wonders of real life.

Again, grain of salt coming from the guy who wrote a book about a teenager on death row and followed it up with a story about three teenagers dealing with the after-effects of a school shooting.

A bit much, indeed.

But We’ll Fly Away was a death penalty book only in shorthand. And Thoughts & Prayers is less about a school shooting and more about how teenagers are so damn strong, so damn resilient—so damn brave. Both books may have been conceived by focusing on a Big Issue, but my stories never stay on such high a shelf for very long. Instead, they always find their centers, their true weight, in the moments when one teenager looks at another teenager and says, “Don’t worry. I’m here for you. I’ve got you.”

As you can imagine, my children are not impressed with this argument—especially as they are both voracious readers who finish books in single sittings, gripped by stories that I admittedly will never be able to write for them. In fact, when I told my son about this blog, he grimaced and said, “All I want is one book with a happy ending!”

This is a criticism I won’t take as quickly. Yes, my books rarely resolve with two teenagers holding hands under an arcing rainbow, a neat bow. But ambiguity and messiness do not indicate a lack of hope or happiness. There is always a path through the muck and the darkness in my books—even if it doubles back on itself time and time again.

All we need is a sliver. All we need is a spark, a chance. The smallest hint of light. Anything to draw us forward, even a single step. Because the more we see it—in novels or real life—the more we believe it exists.

What’s more exciting than that?

Meet Bryan Bliss

Bryan Bliss is the author of four novels, including Thoughts & Prayers, which released today, and We’ll Fly Away, a 2018 National Book Award longlist selection. He teaches in the MFA program at Seattle Pacific University and lives in St. Paul, MN with his family.

Check out Amanda’s review of Thoughts & Prayers here.

About Thoughts & Prayers

Thoughts & Prayers: A Novel in Three Parts

Fight. Flight. Freeze. What do you do when you can’t move on, even though the rest of the world seems to have? 

For readers of Jason Reynolds, Marieke Nijkamp, and Laurie Halse Anderson. Powerful and tense, Thoughts & Prayers is an extraordinary novel that explores what it means to heal and to feel safe in a world that constantly chooses violence.

Claire, Eleanor, and Brezzen have little in common. Claire fled to Minnesota with her older brother, Eleanor is the face of a social movement, and Brezzen retreated into the fantasy world of Wizards & Warriors.

But a year ago, they were linked. They all hid under the same staircase and heard the shots that took the lives of some of their classmates and a teacher. Now, each one copes with the trauma as best as they can, even as the world around them keeps moving.

Told in three loosely connected but inextricably intertwined stories, National Book Award–longlisted author Bryan Bliss’s Thoughts & Prayers follows three high school students in the aftermath of a school shooting. Thoughts & Prayers is a story about gun violence, but more importantly it is the story of what happens after the reporters leave and the news cycle moves on to the next tragedy. It is the story of three unforgettable teens who feel forgotten.

ISBN-13: 9780062962249
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/29/2020
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years