Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Friday Finds: June 4, 2021

This week at TLT


Shh! We’re talking about a quiet book, a guest post by Tricia Springstubb

Cindy Crushes Programming: Reading Colors Your World! by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Book Review: Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

Post-It Note Reviews: Stories about ghosts, chaos bunnies, grief, reform school, and more!

Around the Web

QPoC Reads of 2021

High School Valedictorian Swaps Speech To Speak Out Against Texas’ New Abortion Law

Friday Finds: May 21, 2021

This Week at TLT

Historical Fiction in the Making, a guest post by Rita Williams-Garcia

Book Mail: New and forthcoming books for tweens and teens

Cindy Crushes Programming: Shadow and Bone Mini Book Charms: Take and Make, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Book Review: Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Big Bend National Park and MG/YA Novels Exploring National Parks, a guest post by Cliff Burke

Book Review: Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas

Around the Web

Here Are 45 Movies Coming Out This Summer That Are Totally Worth Your Time

Now Accepting Proposals for Fall 2021 National Ambassador Virtual Events. Deadline June 25

Tulsa Race Massacre Book List

A sneak peek at Blackout, the summer’s hottest YA release

The Case For Universal Pre-K Just Got Stronger

4 High School Seniors on Why They’re Attending HBCUs Over Ivy League Schools

Friday Finds: May 7, 2021

This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: What Do We Do When We Know the Book is a Lie?

The Queer Kids Are All Right, a guest post by James Sie

The Reality of Unrealistic, a guest post by Emery Lee

Perfectly Imperfect, a guest post by Corey Ann Haydu

Author Molly E. Lee on “The Creative Spark”, a guest post

The Black Best Friend, a guest post by Joya Goffney

Joy, Connection and Community: Finding Pride in Books During a Pandemic, a conversation between Robin Stevenson and Tom Ryan

Book Review: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Influenced by Influencers, a guest post by Jessica Patrick

Cindy Crushes Programming: 10 Popular Fandoms to Base Teen Programming On, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

The Drowned Histories of Appalachia, a guest post by author Juliana Brandt

Book Review: When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson

Fun Fiction can Sell STEM, a guest post by Susan McCormick

Around the Web

The pandemic has killed off snow days in New York City’s public schools

Netflix Legal-Drama Movie ‘Monster’: Plot, Cast, Trailer & Netflix Release Date – RELEASED TODAY!

Republicans Come Out Against Universal Daycare, Saying It’s for Soviets and Abnormal People

A Proclamation on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day, 2021

Nation’s Largest HBCU Sees Record-Breaking Donations

Netflix Releases Trailer for “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie”

Friday Finds: April 23, 2021

This Week at TLT

Sibling Stories, a conversation between Erin Soderberg Downing and Jacqueline West

Book Mail: New and upcoming titles for all ages

Come Learn About Middle Grade Graphic Novels with Me!

Cindy Crushes Programming: 10 Tips for Using Roll20, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Why I Love to Write Middle-Grade Stories, a guest post by Ena Jones

The Kids Might Be Alright: Bringing Media Literacy to the Classroom, a guest post by Olivia Tompkins

Have Some LGBTQ+ Books, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Where Stories Come From, a guest post by Jaye Robin Brown

Around the Web

Dove Cameron and Jordan Fisher to Star in “Field Notes on Love” Movie Adaptation

Pandemic Lessons: With numbers rising, how does Covid impact kids and teens?

Sanders And Top Progressives Push To Make College Free For Most Americans

A Tennessee Teen Was Killed By Police Inside His School. Here’s What We Know.

More bodycam video released of fatal shooting of teen girl in Ohio and protesters again hit the streets

Friday Finds: March 19, 2021

This Week at TLT

Resources for Discussing the Rise in Asian American Violence in the United States

The Author-Reader Relationship: Reaching Beyond Expectations, a guest post by Halli Gomez

Cindy Crushes Programming: #LibraryCrate – A Library Subscription Service, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

The Made-up Parts Have the Most For-reals in Them, a guest post by Grant Farley

Have Some April and May YA Books, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Sunday Reflections: Things I Don’t Know if I Can Forgive You For, Part II, a Lament for a Year in a Deadly Pandemic

Around the Web

CDC Says Schools Can Now Space Students 3 Feet Apart, Rather Than 6

Recent Rise in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Doesn’t Mean Anti-Asian Racism Is New

Friday Finds: March 5, 2021

This Week at TLT

When Being Different Makes Us Powerful, a guest post by Jessica S. Olson


Cindy Crushes Programming: 3 RPG Games I Want to Try on Roll20, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Take 5: Middle Grade Book Lists for 2021 New Releases

Book Review: Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira

“Who do you think you are?” a guest post by Monica Gomez-Hira

Climate Change Fiction: Multicultural, Diverse, Global, and with Animals, Too! a guest blog by author Claire Datnow

Around the Web

6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

HBO Max Options Marissa Meyer’s ‘Instant Karma’ Novel for Series

17 Great LGBTQ Middle Grade Novels You Need In Your Life

Kid Lit Community Rallies Against Anti-Asian Racism

“What’s Mine and Yours” Complicates the School Segregation Story

Education in Prison: Remote Learning During COVID-19 Has Failed Students

Lifelong Educator Miguel Cardona Confirmed As Education Secretary

Climate Change Fiction: Multicultural, Diverse, Global, and with Animals, Too! a guest blog by author Claire Datnow

Fiction can be a powerful way for students to understand how climate change has and will affect their future. Cli-Fi (climate change fiction) can serve as a springboard for lively discussions. In addition, stories offer ways in which students can envision and adjust to climate change through new technology and social adaptations. The ideas discussed below can be used  to encourage  class reading, enrich a unit on this topic and, hopefully, inspire students to do research, or create their own stories, poems, drawings of the future altered by climate change.

I began writing Red Flag Warning: An Eco Adventure (for Middle Grades and up) three years ago, horrified by the wildfires sweeping around the globe. My novel relates the dramatic story of three special young people from across the world, the amazing animals that are part of their lives, and the terrible threats of wildfires—threats that affect the entire world. Climate change is a serious reality to write about. The good news is that after decades of misinformation, denial, and inadequate attempts to reduce the dire impact of climate change, young people around the world are searching for ways to understand and to take action. 

Keeping this in mind, I decided not to sugarcoat the truth. Instead, I choose decided to weave a solid base of scientific knowledge into a compelling story, in order to create a hopeful, yet realistic ending rather than gloomy or magical fairytale one. For me, the books I write will always be grounded in science. Telling a moving story does not mean making up facts—we have enough of that already—the basis of the narrative has to be the truth and reality of climate change and the need for social injustice. 

After I’d completed Red Flag Warning, I saw more clearly how I’d woven diverse, multicultural, indigenous, and global themes into my story. The three protagonists are: Aisyah from Sumatra, Indonesia, whose ancestors are the Batak people: Kirri  from Australia, whose ancestors are Aboriginal: and Hector from Northern California with roots in the Native American people of Mexico. The three draw strength and pride from the ancient wisdom of their ancestors. And, although they come from very different backgrounds the three become close friends. 

As a writer and teacher I understand we need diverse stories to serve as mirrors that reflect ourselves and helps build pride in our identity. We also need multicultural stories that serves as windows through which we can begin to understand people of backgrounds different from our own. By weaving these strands together, I hope that Red Flag Warning delivers a powerful message: young people can work together to take action to heal the Earth.  Compelling narratives interwoven with science can entertain, educate, and inspire readers. As storytellers we hold the keys to touching our readers’ hearts, to ignite their imagination to build a bridge to tomorrow that will empower them to take action for the greater good of humanity and the wellbeing of the Earth. 

Environmental literacy can be integrated into subjects and activities already in the curriculum. In this way climate/environmental stories can serve as a springboard to lively discussions, projects, or research.  Fortunately there are variety of novels to choose from at all levels. For a comprehensive list visit: https: https://dragonfly.eco/category/books/ya-fiction/Additional resources are listed at the end of Red Flag Warning: An Eco MysteryFor a free Teacher Handout,  “How to Become an Eco Detective: An Interdisciplinary Unit for Writing Across the Curriculum visit: mediamint.net

I will end this blog by quoting from a review by Professor Karl Schinasi:

In Red Flag Warning Claire Datnow has written an uncommon kind of YA novel. It’s not just that it’s a work of “eco-fiction.” It’s not just that she weaves scientific ideas seamlessly into her narrative. It’s not just that science and magical realism (one of the characters telecommunicates with an orangutan) appear together in the novel. It’s not just that through three protagonists we’re exposed to three different countries, their environments and their cultures. It’s not just that Mrs. Datnow’s characters care as much about animals and the natural world as the care about other homo sapiens. The novel contains all of these elements. The striking achievement of this novel, at least to this reader, is the author’s ability to include and combine these and other separate and sometimes disparate ideas into one short novel, and also in the end, produce a book that easily can be categorized as educational and a “good read.”

BIO: Claire Datnow was born and raised In Johannesburg, South Africa, which ignited her love for the natural world and for diverse cultures. Claire taught creative writing to gifted and talented students in the Birmingham, Alabama Public Schools. She earned an MA in Education for Gifted and Talented and a second MA in Public History. Her books for middle schoolers include The Adventures of the Sizzling Six, an eco-mystery series, and Edwin Hubble, Discoverer of Galaxies. Claire’s most recent novel, Red Flag Warning: An Eco Adventure, weaves in the theme of global climate change. Claire’s books for adults include a memoir, Behind The Walled Garden of Apartheid and The Nine Inheritors. Claire has received numerous scholarships and awards, including the Alabama Conservancy Blanche Dean Award for Outstanding Nature Educator, a Beeson Samford Writing Project Fellowship, a Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Scholarship, and Birmingham Public School Teacher of the Year. Claire’s Monarch Mysteries was long listed for the Green Book Award 2020. Together with her students she founded a nature trail, now named in her honor, the Alabama Audubon-Datnow Forest Preserve. She enjoys visiting schools to inspire students to write their own eco-mystery stories, to become wise stewards of the Earth, and to take action in their own communities. 

Middle Grade Titles to Get Excited About

There are lots of wonderful upcoming Middle Grade titles to be excited for – here are just a few I’m looking forward to reading:

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

From the Publisher:

Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

All You Knead is Love by Tanya Guerrero

From the Publisher:

Tanya Guerrero’s All You Knead Is Love is a contemporary middle grade coming-of-age novel about a twelve-year-old multiracial Filipino and Spanish girl who goes to live with her grandmother for the summer, gaining confidence through a newly discovered passion for baking, perfect for fans of Hello, Universe and Merci Suarez Changes Gears.

Sometimes you find home where you least expect it.

Twelve-year-old Alba doesn’t want to live with her estranged grandmother in Barcelona. She wants to stay with her mom, even if that means enduring her dad’s cutting comments to them both.

But in her new home, Alba forms a close relationship with her grandmother, gains a supportive father figure and new friends, and even discovers a passion and talent for baking. And through getting to know the city her mother used to call home, Alba starts to understand her mother better—and may just be able to make their family whole again.

The Plentiful Darkness by Heather Kassner

From the Publisher:

In Heather Kassner’s spine-chilling fantasy novel, reminiscent of Serafina and the Black Cloak, an orphaned girl chases a thieving boy into a magician’s land of starless, moonless gloom where other children have gone missing before her.

In order to survive on her own, twelve-year-old Rooney de Barra collects precious moonlight, which she draws from the evening sky with her (very rare and most magical) lunar mirror. All the while she tries to avoid the rival roughhouse boys, and yet another, more terrifying danger: the dreaded thing that’s been disappearing children in the night.

When Trick Aidan, the worst of the roughhouse boys, steals her lunar mirror, Rooney will do whatever it takes to get it back. Even if it means leaping into a pool of darkness after it swallows Trick and her mirror. Or braving the Plentiful Darkness, a bewitching world devoid of sky and stars. Or begrudgingly teaming up with Trick to confront the magician and unravel the magic that has trapped Warybone’s children.

The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga

From the Publisher:

An extraordinary new novel from Jasmine Warga, Newbery Honor–winning author of Other Words for Home, about loss and healing—and how friendship can be magical.

Cora hasn’t spoken to her best friend, Quinn, in a year.

Despite living next door to each other, they exist in separate worlds of grief. Cora is still grappling with the death of her beloved sister in a school shooting, and Quinn is carrying the guilt of what her brother did.

On the day of Cora’s twelfth birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her doorstep with a note. She has decided that the only way to fix things is to go back in time to the moment before her brother changed all their lives forever—and stop him.

In spite of herself, Cora wants to believe. And so the two former friends begin working together to open a wormhole in the fabric of the universe. But as they attempt to unravel the mysteries of time travel to save their siblings, they learn that the magic of their friendship may actually be the key to saving themselves.

The Shape of Thunder is a deeply moving story, told with exceptional grace, about friendship and loss—and how believing in impossible things can help us heal.

Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen by Kate McGovern

From the Publisher:

Maple is in fifth grade—again. Now everyone will find out she struggles with reading—or will they? An engaging read for anyone who has ever felt different.

Maple Mehta-Cohen has been keeping a secret: she can’t read all that well. She has an impressive vocabulary and loves dictating stories into her recorder—especially the adventures of a daring sleuth who’s half Indian and half Jewish like Maple herself—but words on the page just don’t seem to make sense to her. Despite all Maple’s clever tricks to hide her troubles with reading, her teacher is on to her, and now Maple has to repeat fifth grade. Maple is devastated—what will her friends think? Will they forget about her? She uses her storytelling skills to convince her classmates that she’s staying back as a special teacher’s assistant (because of budget cuts, you know). But as Maple navigates the loss of old friendships, the possibility of new ones, and facing her reading challenges head-on, her deception becomes harder to keep up. Can Maple begin to recognize her own strengths, and to love herself—and her brain—just the way she is? Readers who have faced their own trials with school and friendships will enjoy this heartwarming story and its bright, creative heroine.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Friday Finds, February 19, 2021

This Week at TLT

Book Review: Reckless, Glorious, Girl by Ellen Hagan

Questions, Anyone? a guest post by Neal Shusterman

Cindy Crushes Programming: 10 Tips for Make and Take Crafts During a Pandemic

Balance in the Time of Productivity Culture: Jen Petro-Roy and Life in the Balance

Tips for Writing A YA Series, a guest post by Rena Barron

Book Review: The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan

Sunday Reflections: The Things We Won’t Buy, a Reflection on Generation Z, Conscious Capitalism, and “Cancel Culture”

Around the Web

Georgia Republicans Are Doubling Down on Racist Voter Suppression

STXtv Developing TV Adaptation Of Hafsah Faizal’s YA Fantasy Adventure Novel ‘We Hunt The Flame’

New Zealand Will Offer Free Sanitary Products At Schools To Fight Period Poverty

The Creation Of The Magnificent Makers

COVID-19 and a Lost Generation of Unhoused Students

Friday Finds: February 5, 2021

This Week at TLT

Around the Web

25 Books By Black Authors To Add To Your Reading List This Month

Timeline, Bibliography & Lesson Links for Black History Books

For Hafsah Faizal, Coding Was a Gateway to Writing

Police in Libraries: What the Cop-Free Library Movement Wants

Teen-Led ‘Homegirl Project’ Ushers Young Women of Color into Politics

The Disinformation Pandemic Is Real. Fighting It Will Require Compassion.