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Friday Finds: November 13, 2020

This Week at TLT

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

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

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

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

Book Review: The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Have Some 2021 Books, by Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

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

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

Around the Web

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

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

What A Biden Presidency Could Mean For Education

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

How to Continue Activism in a Racist Country

Friday Finds: November 6, 2020

This Week at TLT

Bullies, best friends and phones: Will Covid shift the balance toward real-world socializing? a guest post by Sheila M. Averbuch

Cindy Crushes Programming: Teen Volunteering During a Pandemic, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

VoteAmong Us, a Look at the Big Game Tweens and Teens are Playing Right Now

Have Some Teen Slang, By Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Sunday Reflections: A Love Letter to Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek

Around the Web

Cynthia Leitich Smith Awarded 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature

Hydrogen Peroxide, Lollipops, and Toilet Paper: Check Out Pandemic Library Take-Home Kits

Bestselling YA Author Jason Reynolds Will Host 2020 National Book Awards

In Michigan, Undocumented Immigrants Form Learning Pod So They Won’t Lose Their Jobs

Friday Finds: October 23, 2020

This week at TLT

Post-It Note Reviews: Voting, bands, ghosts, and more!

Cindy Crushes Programming: 5 Tips On How To Get Teens To Your Virtual Program, by Cindy Shutts

Feeling Empowered and Voting for the First Time, by Teen Contributor Morgan Randall

Book Review: Real Talk About Sex and Consent: What Every Teen Needs To Know by Cheryl M Bradshaw

On Taking My Teen to Vote for the Very First Time

First Time Voting, by Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Around the Web

Haley Lu Richardson to Lead Romance Adaptation From ‘To All the Boys’ Producers

America’s School Funding Crisis: Budget Cuts, Rising Costs And No Help In Sight

Amazon orders ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ series

Lawyers say they can’t find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration

This 14-year-old girl won a $25K prize for a discovery that could lead to a cure for Covid-19

Friday Finds: October 16, 2020

This Week at TLT

Book Review: You Know I’m No Good by Jessie Ann Foley

Take 5: Creepy(ish) Teen Reads for the Month of October (and always)

Morgan’s Mumbles: Taking Mental Breaks, by Teen Contributor Morgan Randall

On Writing Black Sidekicks and Fleshing Out Supporting Characters, a guest post by Ben Philippe

An Examination of the Troubled Teen Industry, Thirteen Years in the Making, a guest post by Jessie Ann Foley

Dyslexia Awareness Month: What Makes a Book Dyslexia Friendly?

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

Around the Web

The History of Black Towns and Communities in the U.S., From Tulsa to Rosewood

8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up

CDC: Almost all of the US kids and teens who’ve died from COVID-19 were Hispanic or Black

Eric Hale is the first Black man named Texas Teacher of the Year: ‘I’m not the first to deserve it’

Twitter suspends accounts claiming to be black Trump supporters

HBO Developing Adaptation Of Ibi Zoboi’s ‘Pride’

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

On the Power of Rereading

I’ve always been what I like to refer to as a ‘chronic rereader.’ It started, of course, when I was a young child and demanded Make Way for Ducklings every night for what probably seemed an eternity to my poor mother. It continued once I learned to read for myself. I had a shelf full of books and would reread them constantly. I vividly remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott books over and over again. In fact, I stopped counting the number of times I’d reread Little Women when I hit 50.

This had certain advantages when I was a child. It built and reinforced a really spectacular vocabulary. I learned a great deal about narrative structure, and am even able to readily predict certain tropes before they are made evident.

In my current position as a children’s librarian, it helps me to defend the reading habits of many of the young people I serve. A parent who complains that all their child wants to read is Diary of a Wimpy Kid books on repeat will find no ally in me. What they will get is an earful about vocabulary development and reading comprehension, as well as fostering a love of reading. Followed, of course, by a list of read-alike titles to suggest but not force on their child.

But what does rereading mean to me now, as an adult? In our current circumstances it provides a great deal of comfort to revisit beloved characters and settings. It also offers an opportunity to reevaluate the books you like to recommend to readers. Do they hold up after a few years? Are they really as great as you remember?

I recently reread some of my favorite books to recommend to reluctant teen readers, Hold Me Closer Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride. I’m pleased to report that they more than hold up. Her world building skills are in great evidence in these books, as is her gift for characterization. If you haven’t had a chance to read these, I strongly recommend them.

So go forth and be a champion of rereading!

Friday Finds: August 28, 2020

This Week at TLT

Humor in YA, a guest post by Hope Bolinger

Book Review: Not Your #Lovestory by Sonia Hartl

Finding the Drama: How I used Musical Theatre to inspire my first novel, Sing Like No One’s Listening, a guest post by Vanessa Jones

RevolTeens: Helping Teens Tell Their Story in the Time of Covid, by Christine Lively

Morgan’s Mumbles: Preparing for Online Classes, by teen contributor Morgan Randall

Book Review: The Whitsun Daughters by Carrie Mesrobian

Book Review: Throwaway Girls by Andrea Contos

Creating RA Reading Maps and Flow Charts

Reflections on Raising a Teen while Being a Teen Librarian as She Becomes an Adult

Around the Web

2020 Latinx Releases

119 Black-Owned Bookstores in America That Amplify the Best in Literature

Hot Off The Press: September 2020 (YA Only)

15 YA Books To Read If You Really Miss Traveling

Young Adults’ Pandemic Mental Health Risks

‘We’re Living The News’: Student Journalists Are Owning The College Reopening Story

Friday Finds: August 21, 2020

This Week at TLT

Post-It Note Reviews: Toxic masculinity, Somali refugees, surprise siblings, and more!

Cindy Crushes Programming: Make and Take Kits for Pandemic Programming, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Take 5: Afrofuturism for Teens

Judge a Book By Its Cover — Sometimes, a guest post by Pintip Dunn

Take 5: MG and YA Lit that Talks About Periods and Puberty

Why Does Nobody Ever Call the Police? by Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Around the Web

13-year-old Brayden Harrington shares advice Biden gave to help him with stutter

Writing Your Way Out Of The Closet

Georgia Teachers’ Back-To-School Rap About Virtual Learning Goes Viral

Friday Finds: August 7, 2020

This Week at TLT

Book Review: Queerfully and Wonderfully Made: A Guide for LGBTQ+ Christian Teens edited by Leigh Finke

Morgan’s Mumbles: 15 Journals to Keep by teen contributor Morgan Randall

Cindy Crushes Programming: Animal Crossing and the Virtual Library, by Cindy Shutts

New Books Alert: Book set in Nigeria, a prep school, a prison, a performing arts school, the world of K-pop, and more!

Have Some Doodles, by Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Book Review: The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg

Around the Web

What is white privilege?

Mississippi School District Asks Over 100 Students to Quarantine After 7 Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

27 Best Middle-Grade Books About Anxiety

Universal Teams With LeBron James And Maverick Carter’s SpringHill On Adaptation Of ‘New Kid’

Most Teachers Concerned About In-Person School; 2 In 3 Want To Start The Year Online

Closer than Sisters: a guest post by author Sasha Laurens

A WICKED MAGIC is about Dan and Liss, closer-than-sisters best friends who’ve transformed themselves into witches. As the book begins, we learn three things about them: one, just after Dan had her first kiss with a boy named Johnny, Liss began dating him; two, Johnny’s missing; and three; Dan and Liss aren’t speaking. If that has you expecting a story about heartbreak, you’re dead-on. But if you’re expecting that heartbreak to be about Johnny, you’ve got something else coming.

In writing A WICKED MAGIC, I wanted to show how friendships can be a lot messier, more complicated and harder to navigate than romantic relationships. That was certainly my experience in high school and college. In fact, the conflict between Dan and Liss over Johnny is based on something that happened to me: my best friend really did start dating the boy I’d had my first kiss with a few weeks earlier. At the time, I was more confused than angry. After all, my friend had invested a lot of energy in trying to make sure the boy and I ended up together. But she’d wanted a boyfriend a lot more than I had, so I reconciled myself to their relationship because she deserved it more than me. I didn’t realize at the time that was the first crack in our friendship. When it finally collapsed months later, I felt used and disrespected by the person I’d been closest to. That heartbreak hurt a lot more than the fact that I hadn’t held the boy’s interest.

But when I looked at young adult fiction, I rarely saw stories about these confusing, formative and painful kinds of friendships. Often, the central relationship in YA is a romantic one—which can be great! But often this means that in these stories, relationships with friends are set up so they’re not a source of tension. Instead, the best friend plays a supporting role, cheering on the main character role as she pursues her crush (and saves the kingdom, wins prom queen, etc.).

In the real world, not all friendships are so perfect. Our best friends have the power to delight us or destroy us, to lift us up or to make us small, to make us feel like we belong or like no one will ever understand us. And all of that unfolds between two people who will probably never communicate about what they want from the relationship the way romantic partners do, because friendship is supposed to be easy, right?

The relationship at the core of A WICKED MAGIC is not a romance: it’s the broken bond between Dan and Liss. Both girls have struggled with trauma and guilt over Johnny’s disappearance, and that strain proved too great for their friendship to bear. Dan is left feeling that Liss took advantage of her, because she couldn’t stand up to Liss’s take-no-prisoners personality. When Dan stops speaking to her, Liss faces the dangerous task of rescuing Johnny alone. The girls have to confront the role they each played in their toxic friendship if they want to have any hope of saving Johnny—or of finding their way to happiness.

I admit that when I started writing, there was more than a little pathos in play. Poor innocent Dan was the stand-in for me, and Liss was the charismatic mean girl who embodied all the friends who had hurt me. In that first draft, I wanted there to be a palpable feeling that Dan was probably better off without Liss, who needed Dan more than she’d realized. I had no idea how—or even if—they were going to end up friends again by the final chapter.

The more I wrote, however, the more it seemed that Dan saw herself as a helpless victim, who was unaware of the pain she’d caused to others. That sense of victimization wasn’t just stopping her from getting over her break-up with Liss, it was also stopping her from doing all she could to rescue Johnny and from facing her own problems, including her depression. While teenage-me had never let a boy get kidnapped by a demon, it hit close to home. 

But A WICKED MAGIC isn’t just told from Dan’s perspective. The story includes Liss’s point of view too (and that of Dan’s new best friend, Alexa). That meant I had to spend a lot of time in Liss’s head. At first, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to connect with her; after all, she was based on my frenemies. But as I wrote from Liss’s perspective, I found myself sympathizing—and even identifying—with her. She had definitely wronged Dan, but it wasn’t intentional. She was working through her own problems, like anxiety, an emotionally abusive mother, and an absent father. Those problems weren’t so different from those my friends had faced—or from problems I had faced, for that matter. Suddenly, it didn’t seem fair that on top of all that, Dan expected Liss to take care of her, when Dan could barely admit her what she needed to herself, let alone confess it aloud to Liss.

Ultimately, I realized that both girls bore responsibility for the failure of their friendship. More than that, they hurt each other for the same reason: they’re both desperately unhappy, for reasons that feel beyond their control. That pain leads them to treat other people, as well as themselves, poorly. Recognizing that was the key that would allow them to forgive each other and move on—or even become friends again.

I still think about that high school best friend, the one who dated the boy who gave me my first kiss. I haven’t been in touch with her for years. I wonder what she would think of Dan and Liss, and if she’d see us in their story. I wish I had understood back then that none of us are born knowing how to be perfect friends. It’s something we learn from each person who comes into our lives. But learning always entails mistakes. If we want to move forward, we have to face those mistakes with compassion for ourselves and others.

SASHA LAURENS grew up in Northern California, where she learned to drive on Highway 1’s switchback turns and got accustomed to the best weather in the world. After studying creative writing and literature at Columbia University, she lived in New York for years and, at various times, in Russia. She currently resides in Michigan, where she is pursuing a PhD in political science. A Wicked Magic is her first novel (Razorbill, July 2020).






Pre-orders can request free AWM stickers here: https://www.sashalaurens.com/pre-order-campaign