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ALA Midwinter 2014: Christie’s Highlights

Midwinter is called the “Business” conference because this is where most of the meetings happen for the awards and booklists for the year. The Youth Media Awards are Monday starting at 9, and anyone in youth and teen services are haunting the area or Twitter or media feeds to hear what’s been nominated and what’s won this year- and to see if their predictions were correct (and gloat whether you have it in your collection, right)?

However, there are still tons of things to do even if you aren’t on a committee, so take a look through the Midwinter Scheduler:

Exhibits: If you’re feeling brave, definitely try to attend Friday’s opening night exhibit gala and get your start at collection galleys for the new year! Publishers lately have been rotating stock on a daily basis, so what’s available on Friday will be different from Saturday and different from Sunday. Also be sure to hit up any book buzz or theater exhibits from publishers that you’re interested in- a lot of time the publishers hand out the more popular/buzzed about galleys there.

Meet-Ups/ Socials: If you want to network or meet other people that have similar interests, take a look for meet-ups or socials within round tables, associations, or unofficial meet-ups. There are blogger meet-ups, first time member orientations, and off-site socials every night.

Author Event Sessions: Yes, there are authors! Authors in the exhibits (check their websites and social media as well as their publishers for the most immediate updates), and authors speaking! Amy Ignatow is speaking at the Pop-Up Stage, Tom Angleberger is speaking, a whole panel of debut authors is being held, Donna Jo Napoli is speaking, David Lubar (whom I may stalk), Rainbow Rowell, and more!!!

Open Committees: If you want to take a look at what some of the committees actually do, search for some of the open committees. While you can’t crash award committees like the Newbery or the Stonewall Awards, committees like the Rainbow Project and the Amelia Bloomer Project are open to all observers, and are a great way to get involved and get experience.

Networking Uncommons: Some really great things happen at the Networking Uncommons, like the Guerrilla Storytime. If you don’t see something that interests you, make up your own, register it, and see what happens.

2014 Midwinter Alert: Rainbow Project Nominees Announced

The 2013-2014 Rainbow Project Committee announced their nominees for the 2014 Rainbow List on Monday. A committee of 9 members search all year long and talk and debate about books and whether or not they meet the criteria of the list, and this year they found 51 titles. The Rainbow Project is unique in that A. they create an annual bibliography and B. they work by consensus minus one. There are only two other book committees that works this way within the American Library Association framework: Over The Rainbow Project, which deals with LGBT books for adults, and the Amelia Bloomer Project, which looks for feminists books for youth ages birth through 18.

The Rainbow List meetings are open to the public, and will be discussing the nominees during the 2014 Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. Keep an eye on their blog for time and details, or search the Meeting Guide on the ALA site once it’s up and running.

So basically, a team of 9 librarians went through a ton of books (hundreds) and picked these to debate during ALA Midwinter. That should say something. 

Argo, Rhiannon. Girls I’ve Run Away With. 2013. 263p. Moonshine Press. $15.95. (978-0-9894396-0-2).

Barnes, David-Matthew. Wonderland. 2013. 192p. Bold Strokes Books, $11.95 (9781602827882).

Black, Holly. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013. 419 pp. $19.99. ISBN: 9780316213103. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction).

Black, Jenna. Replica.  Tom Doherty Assocaties, 2013. 368 pp. $9.99. ISBN: 9780765333711. Grades 6-12 (Middle/YA Fiction).

Block, Francesca Lia. Love in the Time of Global Warming. 2013. 240p.  Henry Holt and Co., $16.99 (0805096272).  Grades 9-12.

Bornstein, Kate. My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity. 2013. 312p. Routledge. $39.95. (978-0415538657).  Grades 9 & Up.

Clark, Kristin Elizabeth. Freakboy. 2013. 448 p. Farrar Straus Giroux $18.99 (9780374324728). Grades 7+.

Charlton-Trujillo, E.E. Fat Angie. 2013. 272p. Candlewick Press $ (0763661198). Grades 9 and up.

Demcak, Andrew. If There’s a Heaven Above. 2013. 275p. JMS Books LLC, $14.50 (9781611524161). Grades 10 and up.

Dos Santos, Steven. The Culling. 2013. 420p. Flux, $9.99 (9780738735375). Grades 9-12.

Egloff, Z. Leap. 2013. 223p. Bywater Books, $14.95. (978-1612940236). Age 14 and up.

Farizan, Sara. If You Could Be Mine. 2013. 256p. Algonquin Young Readers, $16.99 (9781616202514). Grades 9 and up.

Federle, Tim. Better Nate than Ever. 275p. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (9781442446892). Grades 4 and up.

Fishback, Jere’ M.  Tyler Buckspan.  2013.  198p.  Prizm/Torquere Press, Inc.  ISBN:978-1-61040-518-8. YA Fiction.

Georges, Nicole. Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir. 2013. 288p. Mariner Books, $17.99 (9780547615592). Grades 10-12.

Goode, John. End of the Innocence : Tales from Foster High #4. 2012. 298p. Harmony Ink, $14.99. (978-1613724941). Ages 14 and up.

Hartinger, Brent. The Elephant of Surprise. 2013. 222p. Buddha Kitty Books, $12.99. (978-0984679454). Ages 12 and up.

Hartzler, Aaron. Rapture Practice: My One-Way Ticket to Salvation: A True Story.  2013. 400p.  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99 (031609465X).  Grades 9-12.

Hoblin, Paul. Archenemy. 2013. 112p. Darby Creek Publishing, $7.95. (978-1467707213). Grades 9+.

Jackson, Corrine. If I Lie. 2012. 288 p. Simon Pulse, $16.99. (978-1442454132). Ages 14 and up.

Johnson, Alaya Dawn. The Summer Prince. 2013. 304p. Arthur A. Levine Books, $17.99 (9780545520775). Grades 9-12.

Karre, Elizabeth. The Fight. 2013. 128p. Darby Creek Publishing, $20.95. (978-1-4677-0596-7). Grades 6+.

Knight, Lania.  Three Cubic Feet.  2012.  137p.  Mint Hill Books.  $13.95.  ISBN: 978-1-59948-363-4.  YA Fiction.

Konigsberg, Bill. Openly Straight. 2013. 320 p. Scholastic. $17.99 (978-0-545-50989-3. Grades 7+.

Lam, Laura. Pantomime.  2013.  400 p. Osprey Publishing, $9.99 (9781908844378). Grades 9 and up (YA).

Levithan, David. Every Day. 2012. 336p. Knopf, $16.99 (9780307931887). Grades 9-12.

Levithan, David. Two Boys Kissing. 2013. 208p. Random House $16.99 (978-0-307-93190-0). Grades 7+.

Lo, Malinda. Inheritance. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013. 480 pp. $18.00. ISBN: 9780316198004. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction).

London, Alex. Proxy. L2013. 384 pages. Philomel, $17.99 (9780399257766). Ages 12 and up.

Mahurin, Paulette. The persecution of Mildred Dunlap. 2013. 202p. Blue Palm Press, $14.95 (9780977186617). Grades 9-12.

Malone, Jill. Giraffe People. 2013. 262p. Bywater Books, $14.95. (978-1612940397). Age 13 and up.

Marcus. Eric. What If? Answers to Questions about What It Means to Be Gay and Lesbian. Simon & Schuster. 2013. 192 pp. ISBN: 9781442482982

Maroh, Julie. Blue is the Warmest Color. 2012. 160 p. Arsenal Pulp Press, $19.95. (978-1551525143). Grades 10 & up.

Moon, Alison. Hungry Ghost (Tales of the Pack, Book 2). 2013. 295p. Lunatic Ink. $11.99. (9780983830931).  Grades 8 + (YA)

Moskowitz, Hannah. Marco Impossible. 2013. 247 p. Roaring Book Press $16.99 (9781596437210). Grades 6+.

Moynihan, Lindsay. The Waiting Tree. 2013. 218p. Amazon Children’s Publishing, $17.99 (9781477816424). Grades 9-12.

Ness, Patrick. More Than This. 2013. 480p. Candlewick Press, $19.99. (978-0763662585). Age 14 and up.

Parent, Dan. Kevin Keller 2: Drive Me Crazy. 2013. 104p. Archie Comics. $11.99. (978-1936975587). Ages 12 and up.

Pierce, Tamora. Battle Magic. Scholastic, 2013. 464 pp. $17.99 ISBN: 9780439842976. Grades 6-12 (Middle/YA Fiction)

Ryan, Tom.  Tag Along.  Orca, 2013.  208 p.  $12.95. ISBN:978-1-4598-0297-1.  ages 11-18.

Setterington, Ken.  Branded by the Pink Triangle.  2013.  158p. Second Story Press, $15.95. (9781926920962).  Grades 9-12.

Smith, Andrew. WingerSimon & Schuster, 2013. 448 pp. $16.99. ISBN: 9781442444928. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction).

Solomon, Steven. Homophobia: Deal with it and turn prejudice into pride. James Lorimer, 2013. 32 p. $12.95. (978-1459404427). Grades 4-7.

Stiefvater, Maggie. The Dream Thieves (The Raven Boys, #2). Scholastic, 2013. 416 pp. $18.99.  ISBN: 9780545424943. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction)

Sutherland, Suzanne. When We Were Good. 2013. 227 p. Sumach Press. $14.95 (978-7-927513-11-8).

Takako, Shimura, Wandering Son, v. 4. Fantagraphic Books, 2013. 200 pp. $19.99. ISBN: 9781606996058. Grades 6-12 (Manga).

Trevayne, Emma. Coda. Running Brook Press, 2013. 320 pages. $9.95. ISBN 978076244728. Grades 8 and up.

Trumble, J. H. Where You Are. 2013. 324p. Kensington Books, $15.00. (978-0758277169). Grades 9 and up.

Velasquez, Gloria.  Tommy Stands Tall.  2013.  108p.  Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press.  $9.95 (978-1-55885-778-0).  Ages 11 & up.

Vitagliano, Paul. Born This Way: Real Stories Of Growing Up Gay.  128p. Quirk Books, $14.95.(9781594745997). Grades 7-12.

Williams III, J. H. and W. Haden Blackman. Batwomn, Volume 3: World’s Finest.  DC Comics, New York, 2013. 168 pp. ISBN: 9781401242466. $22.99. Grades 9-12 (YA).

Coming Soon: a Taste and Tease

I was the only one of the TLT’ers to be able to go to ALA Midwinter, and I shared a lot of other bloggers’ frustrations with the ARC drops as I was wearing multiple hats- not only was I going as a rep for Teen Librarian Toolbox (so much so that I made That Guy tell SoHo and Zest Books that he was Karen, much to their hysteria) but I was also running the Rainbow Project meetings. So I missed out on some ARCs that I *really* wanted (*cough* The S-Word *cough*) but hopefully the reps will send them when they do get back to their offices.  And three books that I’ve been on the edge of my seat to read (Doctorow’s Homeland, Meyer’s Scarlet, and Lu’s Prodigy are either out or coming out next week.  BUT, I do have a top 6 of the ARCs that I am SUPER excited about that I thought I’d share with y’all…

ARC available on Netgalley, on sale August

On Sale June 2013, haven’t seen it *yet* on Netgalley or Edleweiss

On sale June 2013, egalley on Edleweiss

On sale February 19, short stories by Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Margaret Sthol, Melissa Marr, and more

on sale May 2103, back cover says there will be a  *keynote and signing at Texas Library Association Conference*

On sale June 2013, says there’s an ebook prequel promotion as well

Were you at Midwinter in Seattle?  What did you pick up and what are you excited to see coming out this spring/summer?  Share in the comments!

What I DIdn’t Learn In Library School: Making Conferences Successful: Christie’s Version

If you know anything by now, you know I don’t tend to run in normal circles, no matter what I look like.  So it stands to reason that I don’t do conferences as a normal, either. Maybe it’s the anxiety, maybe it’s my brain, who knows, but I just don’t seem to fit a typical conference go-er.  I like doing it my way, and it works- I come back energized  refreshed, and ready to tackle new things and ideas.  It’s completely the point of a conference to me. How do I do it?

Know Your Territory 

I always do research before I go to a new city for conferences, so I know one special touristy that I want to do: last time in Seattle it was EMP Museum by the Space Needle, and they’ve added so much that I think That Guy and I will go back.  But I also found where the nearest drug store to my hotel was (there’s always a chance I’ve forgotten something like Excedrin), where the nearest shopping mall was (for souvenirs for my staff), where the nearest shipping place was (to ship books and other things back, because I never make it to the Post Office spot on the exhibit floor, and sometimes it’s actually cheaper), how far it was to Pike’s Peak Market, how much a cab would take from places I wanted to go, where the nearest ATM for my bank is, and what places to eat were recommended by local newspapers.  And when I got to the hotel, I start asking the staff where they recommended to go to eat.  My budget never stretches as far as the ALA official dining guides, and the places around the convention center are always packed, so I make sure to talk to the locals to see what they eat when they’re working- and they’ve never steered me wrong yet.  I’ve had some of the best pizza, burgers, and Italian around.  
Find a library family 
I have a wonderful group of friends that unfortunately, I only see at conferences for the most part due to life.  So they are termed my library family.  I know that they’re going to be there every conference, and we catch up on what’s going on, share life, and have wonder times together.  SO GO FIND YOURS.  This isn’t as hard as you might think- find a group of people that you want to be around, and be around them every conference.  Patrick Sweeney talks about his Think Tank and how they rent a house every conference.  If a share house isn’t your thing (not mine), think about the people that you know and get along with that you’ve met along the way (via Twitter, committees, blogs, networking), and reach out and say HEY, ARE YOU GOING TO SEATTLE? Me, too?  Want to meet for dinner or something some night and talk, like, in person?   
Go to the socials
There is no time like a conference to find wonderful people who share your passion, no matter what it is.  And you’d be surprised who shares it.  Not sure where to start? 

ALSC is having Speed Dating.The New Membership Round Table is having a a social.  YALSA’s having a Happy Hour.  GLBT-RT is having a Social. Great places to meet people who share your passion, and at the most, you’re out a couple of hours of time at a great place!   
Know Your Limits
Everyone I knows goes to conference in the same mindset as they go to Disney World: I gotta do this, and I gotta do that, and I have to do this, and this and thisandthisandthisandthatandthisandthat…..  And then you’re frazzled and can’t breathe and can’t remember what you were doing or why you wanted to go to the conference in the first place.  Especially when a conference is in a different time zone/climate than you’re used to, and you have to get adjusted and thrown into everyone all in one day.  Use the tools available (the ALA Scheduler and the app, for example) to find out what you want to go to, and then find out WHERE it all is.  Because trust me, not everything is going to be in the convention center, and most will be scheduled on top of one another.  You’re going to have to pick and choose, and it may come down to whether to go to that workshop or stalk Jonathan Maberry…  (I know who wins, BTW)… 
Pack The Basics
You have your clothes.  You’ve searched the weather.  You’re all jazzed up about your tablet and your ultrabook and your smartphone, and you’re going to go PAPERLESS this conference!  Good for you! Just remember, you’re going to need your business cards and pens and paper.  Why? Because the vendors have give-aways that want your card, the booksellers are wanting you to fill out stuff, and if your laptop dies in the middle of a presentation, you’re going to have to take notes for back home (even if you didn’t get any of your way paid, you’re going to have to present to justify your time).  Don’t forget a good back back, because the freebie bags are crap and kill your shoulders. 

Everyone always says wear your normal work clothes- I wear what I’m comfortable in, which is my t-shirts and jeans, and no one seems to mind. I’ve also got spare batteries for my smart phone because I can never find a charger, and I pack a surge protector as That Guy and I have more gadgets than the hotel room has outlets, and running out the door at 6 a.m. for a session with this sign:  is a doomed day. 
Sit In On An Open Session
Midwinter is the “working” conference, where almost all of the book committees meet, and while there are a lot of closed sessions where you can’t come in, there are a number of open committee ones as well.  Search them out online, take a look at what they’re doing and do a little research before you go to conference, and then sit in on one of their sessions.  You’ll be surprised at what you find, and how hard these committees are working, and you might find a new thing to join.  Examples would be The Amelia Bloomer Project, The Rainbow Project, Amazing Audiobooks, Notable Children’s Recordings, SRRT Task Force meeting, and the YALSA Groups Work Session.

So those are mine.

What are your tips for making conferences successful for you?

A note from Karen: If you see Christie at Midwinter, please take a moment and say hi.  Also, remind her she is not allowed to come back home unless she has an ARC of Requiem by Lauren Oliver for Karen. Just saying.

2013 Youth Media Awards: Christie’s Predictions

I’m horrible with predictions.  I’ve never predicted any of the media winners correctly, although I’m pretty good with Super Bowl teams once they’re down to the final two. And I can tell which teens are going to act up, and which tweens need to talk before they come to me door.  But I’ve never gotten any of the youth media award winners correct.  EVER.  So, with that warning, I give to you my predictions for the 2013 Youth Media Awards.  Share your thoughts and your predictions in the comments!

For The Morris Award:

For the YALSA Award in Excellence in NonFiction:

For the John Newbery Award:

For the Randolff Caldecott Medal:

For the Coretta Scott King Award:

For the Michael L. Printz Award:

For the Stonewall Book Award (Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children & YA):

Guest Blog: Stonewall Book Awards by Peter Coyl

Looking to add children’s and young adult GLBTQ literature to your collection? Start with the Stonewall Book Award’s Mike Morgan and Larry RomansChildren’s and Young Adult Literature prize.  Added in 2010 to the first and most enduring awards for GLBTQ books, the Stonewall Book Awards, it is now one of three awards annually given by the Gay,Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association.  The Stonewall Book Awards are awarded for books exhibiting exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.  While many of the titles selected often appear on the Rainbow Book List, the Stonewall Book Awards are an official award of ALA, which means that the winners and nominees have the right to carry the official seal on the cover.

Every year, the Stonewall Committee of fourteen members including the chair read through hundreds of newly published books.  The committee is charged with selecting the best in three areas:  Literature (adult materials), Non-Fiction (adult materials), and Children’s and Young Adult Literature.  As such, the committee must read all types of materials, not just youth and young adult materials.  You need to have the time to read and critically analyze all the materials that come in, as well as participate in the substantive discussion of all the titles that are considered for nomination.

To volunteer to serve on the committee starts with a fairly easy process:  fill out the ALA committee volunteerform.  A list of all the GLBTRT committees is available here, and the instructions for the form can be found online.  Once you’ve filled out the form, appointments will be made by the Chair and Chair Elect of GLBTRT, and notifications will be made in a timely manner.  Since the Stonewall Awards are part of GLBTRT and not YALSA, you will have to hold an active membership in GLBTRT to qualify for service.
Once appointed and the committee is full, then the real work begins.  The committee Chairperson assigns specific publishers to each committee member, and throughout the year as the committee finds books that would fit the qualifications for the list (through reviews, publisher’s catalogs, ARCs, or other means), they fill out a spreadsheet and then committee members request those titles from the publishers they are responsible for contacting.  By the time the Stonewall Committee meets at the ALA Midwinter Meeting (this year in Seattle), we will have discussed hundreds of titles and narrowed down the field to the top 15 in EACH category.
During ALA Midwinter, the Stonewall Committee meets behind closed doors to discuss the 15 top titles in each of the three categories.  During these sessions, the 15 are narrowed down through discussions and debate, and a winner and four honor books are picked in each category.  The winner of the Stonewall Book Award’s Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature prize is announced during the Youth Media Awards on Monday morning, alongside the Newbery, Caldecott and Printz awards, making it an exciting time for committee members.
The amount of material published relating to the GLBT community has expanded in recent years, but there is not a lot comparatively speaking so the number of books considered for the Children and Young Adult Literature Award is significantly less than for adults.  However, there is more published every year, and hopefully more and more will be published in light of the recent strides across the country.  It makes for very interesting discussions to compare the adult materials to the young adult materials, especially in light of where different libraries catalog things.  I have a specialization in Youth and Children’s Services, but I still find the adult materials fascinating.
If you are going to the ALA Midwinter Meeting, then I highly suggest attending the Youth Media Awards on Monday, 28 for the announcement of the Stonewall Book Award’s Mike Morgan and Larry Miller Children’s and Young Adult Literature.  If you are in or around the Dallas Fort Worth area, I’ll be giving three presentations about the winners and honor books the following weeks:

       Wednesday, February 6, 7-8 p.m., Oak Lawn Branch Library (4100 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas, 214-670-1359

Thursday, February 7, 7-8 p.m., Audelia Road Branch Library (10045 Audelia Road, Dallas, Texas, 214-670-1350

Saturday, February 9, 5-6 p.m., North Oak Cliff Branch Library (302 West Tenth Street, Dallas, Texas, 214-670-7555

I’ll also be presenting at the Texas Library Association on Friday, April 26, at a presentation entitled Out of the Closet and Onto the Shelves: GLBT Literature Today, along with Rainbow Project incoming chair and TLT blogger Christie Gibrich and other members of the GLBTRT in Texas, and Tim Federle, author of the forthcoming book Better Nate than Ever.
Peter Coyl is a Manager with the Dallas Public Library and occasionally blogs at http.www.adventuresofaguybrarian.com. He currently serves on the Stonewall Award committee through June 2014. He can be emailed at peterdcoyl@gmail.com.

ALA Midwinter: The ARCs (April)

Well, you probably thought I was never going to get back to it. And yet, here they are: a look at some of the titles coming your way in April 2012. Hang on to your seat because there are a lot of them. Remember, these are just brief overviews to help you get an idea of what you want to look for not actual reviews (unless otherwise noted).  This is not, of course, a look at everything that is coming out, just the stuff I got ARCs for at ALA.

Belles by Jen Calonita

Front cover blurb: Two Southern girls. One life-changing secret.
Back cover blurb: “Jen Calonita keeps it fresh and funny!” – Meg Cabot, author of the Princess Diaries
First lines: Isabelle Scott kicked her legs, propelling herself to the ocean surface with a final burst of adrenaline even as her lungs screamed for air.

Jen Calonita is the author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series, so you know this is indeed going to be fresh and funny (who is going to argue with Meg Cabot?).  Isabelle Scott is taken from living life on the boardwalk of North Carolina to live with a long-lost uncle, and his privileged Southern family, after tragedy strikes.  Her and her cousin, Mirabelle Monroe, do not get along. But what happens when they find out that they aren’t really cousins, but sisters? 

Poison Most Vial: A mystery by Benedict Carey

Back cover blurb: Murder in the lab!
First lines: Squirming her shoulders like a penguin, head down under a spray of yellow hair, Ruby Rose pushed through the tangle of legs, arms, and backpacks at the door and tripped down the steps of DeWitt Lab School, annoyed about something but not sure what it was.

This year the SRC theme in Texas is mysteries, so I am looking high and low for new teen mysteries. It’s harder then you would think in the sea of fantasy and paranormals that currently dominate the market.  In this mystery, Ruby Rose’s father is the prime suspect when a famous forensic scientist turns up stone-cold dead. Ruby Rose may be the only one who can clear his name. Benedict Carey is a science reporter for the New York Times and is the author of Island of the Unknowns, which made the TXLA Lone Star Reading List.

Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers

Back cover blurb: From one of the most celebrated writers of young adult fiction comes an unforgettable novel of love, identity, and finding one’s voice. With a node to Cyrano de Bergerac, the story follows the romance of Karl, a shy, likable plumber’s assistant, and Florella, the just-out-of-reach girls he hopes to impress.
First lines: “Could I talk to you?”

Aidan Chambers is a multiple award winner, including the Michael L. Printz award for Postcards from No Man’s Land. And just in time for National Poetry Month, there are some poems inside the novel.  Fiorella is an aspiring writer and she asks Karl to bare his soul to her in letter form. Karl in turn convinces her favorite novelist to write the letter for him.  Can the two of them ever come together?

13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau

Back cover blurb: Some people won’t believe any of this story. You might be one of them. But every single word is true. Tony diMarco does catch a murderer, solve a mystery, and find a treasure – all in the first few days after he moves, unexpectedly, to 13 Hangmen’s Court in Boston. The fact that he also turns thirteen at the same time is not a coincidence.
First lines: Tony DiMarco kicked his sneakers off at the backdoor mat, as usual. He flung his book bag onto the kitchen table, as usual. But he didn’t raise the fridge for a slice of leftover cake as usual. It wasn’t an as-usual kind of day.

Tony DiMarco inherits a townhouse in Boston with the stipulation that only he is allowed to inhabit the house’s top floor. The house is not what they expect and to make matters even worse, he learns that someone was murdered in the very bed he is now sleeping in. The night before his 13th birthday he sets a baseball cap on a shelf, and wakes up in what appears to be 1939. In a mystery that spans several decades, Tony and Angelo search for a treasure hidden in the house while trying to avoid others who will stop at nothing to find it for themselves.  This book should appeal to J and younger teens looking for a good mystery or interested in sports.

Son of a Gun by Anne de Graaf

Back cover blurb: I was crazy. Crazy mad. That’s how I felt when I turned in my AK-47 rifle. The commanding officer’s growl still haunts me: “This gun is your god. You listen to the voice of your god and go where your gun tells you.”
First lines: Do you wonder who this boy is? This boy who is telling you this story? This boy is my brother.

In an opening piece, author Anne de Graff talks about the civil war in Liberia and how children are forced to fight in this war, being called upon to hurt others. She says that parts of this story will be hard to read just as they were hard to tell.  This is the story of Lucky (8) and Nopi (10); they are kidnapped and made to become child soldiers in Liberia’s 14-year-long civil war. This story is based on the true stories of former child soldiers interviewed by Anne de Graaf.  This will be an important multicultural title to help tweens and teens understand what it is like to live in a country torn by civil war where children are forced to be soldiers.

Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn

Back cover blurb: Tomorrow will be the last day of Nora’s junior year. Nora heads for the party in the park, laughing and chatting with her friends, eager to leave her usual quiet, careful self behind. Other kids are drinking beer, flirting, pairing off, dancing. Even the hostile presence of a jealous ex-boyfriend can’t spoiled the fun. In a few hours, though, Mister Death will make his move.
First lines: He opens his eyes. It’s still dark, way before dawn. He’d willed himself to wake at 3 a.m., and he’s done it. He hadn’t dared to set the alarm. What if someone heard it go off? No, he and his brother must leave the house without anyone knowing. Not his family. Not the neighbors.

Mary Downing Hahn can always be counted on for an eerie ghost story; here she writes a novel inspired by true crime and “of the real-life ghosts who have haunted her for most of her life.” This will be a must have.

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad (Full review here)

Back cover blurb: It’s been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. But three ordinary teenagers are about to change that – and their lives – forever.
First lines: “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” Mia Nomeland said, giving her parents an unenthusiastic look.
It seems like the opportunity of a life time. A chance, as a teenager, to go to the moon. But according to the back cover, there is something sinister waiting on the dark side of the moon and “no one is coming to save them.” There are some eerie black and white pictures inside the book and great chapter titles like “silence” and “contact”. And I love that it appears to be a straight Sci Fi book as opposed to fantasy (which I love also, it’s just that the Sci Fi genre – like many other genres these days – is being pushed aside in favor of the fantasy/paranormal market).

Lyga also gets the award for best packaging – ever!
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Full review here)
Back cover blurb: What if the world’s worst serial killer . . . was your dad?
First lines: It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful field. Except for the body.

Jazz is a likable teenager. He is also the son of one of the most prolific and notorious serial killers, now serving 32 consecutive life terms in prison for murdering more than 100 people.  He taught Jazz everything he knows, conditioning him from a young age to take over the family business. Jazz is trying very hard to find another way, so when a body ends up in a field he knows it is a new serial killer and he wants to use everything his father taught him to help solve the crime. I have read the first 100 pages of this book and it is sooooooo good. Lyga really knows how to build characters and turn phrases and crank up the mystery. A twist is coming.  This is a must read.

Side note – This title contains one of my favorite descriptions of a house:
The Dent house, a rickety colonial in a state of disrepair, sat along this drive like an afterthought, equisdistant between the McMansion and the main road. Everything about the house said, “Oh, that’s right, now I remember . . .” as though the house were slowly forgetting itself into nonexistence . . . Right here in the very middle of Middle America, hell had been born and suckled and matured. (Page 61)

Racing California by Janet Nichols Lynch

Back cover blurb: What if you had a chance to race with the pros?
First lines: Ouch! I rise out of the saddle to stomp on the pedals and my quads scream in pain.

Evan has the chance to cycle in the Amgen Tour of California with a Tour de France winner. Janet Nichols Lynch began her writing career as a cycling journalist and is herself a cyclist so this should have tons of authentic action. And it is great to see a sports book on the ya market that looks at cycling.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Back cover blurb: A bold plot leads an orphan on a terrible journey . . . to the brink of treason
First lines: If I had to do it all over again, I would not have chosen this life.

In a kingdom on the verge of civil war, a contest is held to find a young man to impersonate the king’s son.  All may not be what it seems in this fantasy adventure and Sage must discover the truth and save himself and his land.

The Storm Makers by Jennifer E. Smith

Back cover blurb: Enter the world of the Storm Makers, where there’s magic behind every forecast.
First lines: Only Ruby knew about the stranger in the barn.

Strange storms keeping happening on the farm and a stranger comes and tell twins Ruby and Simon that Simon is a storm maker; he is part of a group of people who are entrusted with controlling the weather. Soon Simon is in grave danger as he tries to master his powers in time to stop a rogue Storm Maker’s deadly plans.  Storms and weather are a popular theme right now in J/Tween lit it seems so this will be a good title to add to the collection.  Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and this title is geared to the upper end of the J/lower end of the YA market.

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

Back cover blurb: Long before there was a Mysterious Benedict Society, there was a brilliant young boy named Nicholas Benedict
First lines: The train station at Pebbleton, dark and sooty though it was, glistened in the mist.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a wildly popular mystery series, and rightfully so. Here young readers are invited to learn about the beginning of the society and the enigmatic Mr. Benedict himself. This is a must have. Pair it with one of my other favorite mysteries: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.
Next ARC preview: May 2012

ALA Midwinter Highlights: The ARCs (January and February)

On Monday I shared with you things I loved and learned at the ALA Midwinter exhibits. Today, I share with you the best part of ALA – the ARCs (Advanced Reader’s Copy).  So this is not the world’s longest blog post ever, today we will cover titles set to be released in January or February of 2012.  Other attendees got different arcs (Pandemonium *cough cough*) because it depends on what time of day you visit and other factors so I recommend that you visit other blogs throughout the year to get reviews of upcoming titles.  The February 2012 edition of VOYA has a list of recommended blogs so that is a good place to start.  Some that you will definitely want to keep an eye on include Girls in the Stacks and the YA Bookshelf.  Stay tuned here, too, because I will be reviewing my ARCs in order of release date (and bringing you updates about teen issues, programming, marketing and more.)  These next few posts will just be an overview of the ARCs I received for your enjoyment.

January 2012

Pure Love, Pure Life: Exploring God’s Heart on Purity by Elsa Kok Colopy (Zondervan)
Since this is published by Zondervan, you know right off the bat that it has a Christian message, which in this case is sexual purity. This is aimed at older teens so it is filled with a lot of information, stories and discussion questions.  There are no pretty pictures or sidebars to catch one’s eye; it’s focus is on really digging into the meet of the issue and making you think. At the end of each chapter there are a list of discussion/journal questions.

The Boy Project (Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister) by Kami Kinard (Scholastic)
Cover blurb: “I, Katie McAllister, will change my image before the end of the school year. By ‘change my image’ I mean ‘get a boyfriend.’ And I know exactly how I’m going to do it . . . “
First line: I am starting this experiment because I have no choice.
With an appealing cover and some fun internal elements (such as note cards, quizzes, notes, etc.), this title should appeal to readers.  I haven’t read the entire work so I can’t give you a definitive go for it, but the first few chapters have a catchy tone to them, an authentic voice in the narrator and just enough spunk that this should be a success.  It definitely capitalizes on the inclusion of visual elements we see in titles like The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and fans of that will probably like this title as well.

In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)
Cover blurb: A stunning tour-de-force set in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake
Opening line: “I am the voice in the dark, calling out for your help.”
The earthquake in question takes place in Haiti.  There is a note to the reader from the author at the beginning that discusses his response to the Haitian earthquake and claims that little in the book is made up.  A brief browse through the book makes it clear that this is a look at light versus darkness, hope versus despair and how in the midst of darkness one can in fact find hope.  At the end of the author’s note he writes: But we’ve all been in darkness, so we all know the other side of it – that sometimes, afterwards, there is light.  There are not a lot of titles on the topic of Haiti so on that basis alone it seems like it would be a good multicultural addition.  It will be interesting to read.

Fracture by Megan Miranda (Walker & Company)
Back cover description: A lot can happen in eleven minutes.  Decker can run two miles easily in eleven minutes.  I once wrote an English essay in ten. No lie. And God knows Carson Levine can talk a girl out of her clothes in half that time.  Eleven minutes might as well be eternity under water.  It only takes three minutes without air for loss of consciousness. Permanent brain damage begins at four minutes. And then, when the oxygen runs out, full cardiac arrest occurs. Death is possible at five minutes. Probably at seven. Definite at ten. Decker pulled me out at eleven.
First line: The first time I died, I didn’t see God.
To be honest, I can’t wait to read this one.

The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis (Amulet Books)
Back cover blurb: A good girl. A bad boy. A fairy tale that’s true. A truth that is no fairy tale.
First line: Blood. There is blood everywhere.
This is the story of a boy named Abel, who is raising his 6-year-old sister by himself. Anna is drawn to him and the tale he tells about an orphan queen with a diamond heart.  As Abel weaves people into his story, they begin to turn up dead.  Fairy tale themes are popular right now.

Winterling by Sarah Prineas (Harper Collins Childrens)
Cover blurb: “Simmering magic and enchanting adventure. A mischievous delight” Ingrid Law, author of Savvy and Scumble
First line: The dog fled. He raced down a shadowy forest trail lit by the full moon.
This is a fantasy tale where a young woman named Fer discovers an “enchanting, dangerous land” through her reflecting pool.

There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff (G. Putnam’s Sons)
Cover blurb: What if God were a teenage boy?
First line: Oh glorious, most glorious glorious! And yet again glorious!
Meg Rosoff is the Printz Award winner from her previous work, How I Live Now.  This is the tale of Bob, a teenage boy who also happens to be the creator of heaven and earth.  It is also the story of Lucy, who works at the zoo and has a sunny disposition.  One day Bob sees Lucy walking in complete joy and he knows that he must have her. Bob’s assistant, Mr. G., thinks this is a horrible idea because when Bob falls in love, people die.  When his heart breaks and he sheds tears, cities tend to flood.
I read a portion of this book and it is well written and interesting, but I am not sure how people who believe in a God, any God, will react to the premise.  It will be interesting to see how it all wraps up.  It is definitely for more mature, sophisticated teen readers because of the storytelling mechanism and the frank sexual discussion.

The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg (Dial Books)
Cover blurb: Brie’s life ends at sixteen: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, and the news breaks her heart – literally.
First line: There’s always that one guy who a hold on you.
Based on the description, it seems that this book employs the narrative devise used in If I Stay by Gayle Forman or The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold where the narrator, Brie, is looking down from heaven after her death. The book begins by a quote from a song by Ani DiFranco and every chapter title is a song lyric. The cover is stunning and this is on the top of my “to read” pile.

Irises by Francisco X. Stork (Arthur A. Levine Books)
Cover blurb is an excerpt from the story itself
First line: Kate had finally agreed to pose under the willow tree.
Irises is the story of two sisters, Mary and Kate, who are bound together by a mother who lays in a permanent vegetative state.  The two struggle to find ways to survive and their lives are influenced by 3 separate men. From the description this looks to be a tale about growing up and making important life decisions with some discussion of quality of life.

February 2012

BZRK by Michael Grant (Edgmont)
Cover blurb: Warning: Possession of this material could put you in grave danger.  It contains revelations about a secret high-stakes game – some might call it a war – for control of your brain.
First line: A girl sat just three chairs down from Noah talking to her hand.

BZRK by Michael Grant is a transmedia experience; you can read the book, but there is tons of online content that you will want to check out that enhances the story.  There is even an app you can buy (I have not done so yet so I can’t comment).  I am 160 pages into this book and have some mixed feelings about it: On the one hand, it is great to be reading a more traditional science fiction story. No dystopian future, just advances in modern day technology (in this case nanotechnology) and what it means for contemporary society.  On the other hand, this book has a wide variety of main characters, some of whom are teens and some of whom are adults, and at times it reads like a book written for teens and at other times it reads more like an adult novel. The change can sometimes be disconcerting.  Given some of the adult content, this is definitely for older teens (and adults will also love it).  Grant just jumps right into the story so it takes a while to figure out what some of the terminology means, but it is a compelling read so you want to know and keep reading.  At the heart of BZRK there are two competing factions using various forms of nanotechnology (nanos and biots) to fight for their cause.  One side wants to create a type of insect like hive mind that will result in peace among humans, the other side values the concept of free will (in all of its messy glory).  There are some profound discussions to be had in the pages of this book about science, ethics, free will and more. This book also has one of the most disturbing bad guys I have ever encountered and I appreciated a lot of the creepy elements they brought to the story. Also, this has some of the best opening chapters that I have read in a while; I may not have fully understood yet what was happening, but I was hanging on the edge of my seat to find out more.  This truly is a great example of the emerging transmedia trend in books so you will want to look into for that reason alone.  Full review coming soon, but Michael Grant is a great author (he is the author of the Gone series) and he is not disappointing so far.  Put this book into the hands of Michael Crichton and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card fans.

More about BZRK
Weekly articlePublisher’s
A Q&A at Eleusinian Mysteries
A Youtube Sneak Peek
An you definitely need to check out the official GoBZRK site.  There is an app you can buy that goes along with the book.

Read more about transmedia in School Library Journal

And yes, yes I did only get one arc for the month of February. Next: March (there are so many it has to be its own post) and the Girl Meets Boy giveaway (begins January 29th).

ALA Exhibits Highlights, part 1

This past Saturday I got to spend the day in the librarian version of heaven – the ALA Midwinter exhibits hall.  Here I mingled with my fellow geeks and ran into people I have known for years online, learned about some new products and services and picked up a ton of ARCs (which will be subject of my next post).  AND – I got to touch an ARC for Pandemonium, the sequel to Delirium by Lauren Oliver (sadly, they did not understand our need to possess it and they were not giving them out so I had to make do with just touching it).  So here are some of the highlights from Saturday . . .

1.  VOYA
I have been very honored since 2001 to be a reviewer for VOYA and in the past 6 months they have made my dreams come true by publishing two articles written by me (look for Karen Jensen in the October 2011 and February 2012 issues of VOYA) – BUT, I have never met a single person from VOYA in person.  Ever.  We always just talk via e-mail (usually to ask really Karen, are you going to turn in that review anytime soon). That all changed on Saturday when I met Edward Kurdyla and RoseMary Honnold. They were incredibly nice and we talked about things like the erosion of the English language and library budgets. RoseMary has been such a presence in the Young Adult/Teen Librarian world (I have even used some of her programs over the years) and it is always nice to meet peers who share your passion and understand your geekiness.  Part of the reason I began the TLT blog, FB and Twitter account was because I think there is tremendous value and inspiration and support in being involved in a community of teen librarians and you definitely get that with VOYA.  I have said it before and I will say it again, VOYA and School Library Journal should be your #1 tool in your toolbox. Also, please be sure to participate in YALSA and the various YALSA listservs.

2.  Figment
On Saturday I met and talked at lengths with two young ladies promoting a new social networking site called Figment; it has been active now for a little over a year. Figment.com is a free online community for teens and young adults to “create, discover, and share new reading and writing.”  They are in the business of encouraging teens to write, share and edit one another’s works.  They also have some great tools for teen librarians across the platform, but especially for schools that include discussion groups and daily writing prompts.  A lot of amazing teen authors are involved sharing their writing stories and giving tips to help teens become better writers.  You can learn more about their services for educators at www.figment.com/educators.

Some of the upcoming programs and contests they will have include:
Figment daily themes
Digital Learning Day: Now through February 1st
Girls with Grit Contest: Now through February 29th
Meg Rosoff will be making an appearance beginning January 24th and running through February 10th
Shannon Hale contest: January 24th – February 6th

The site is well designed, colorful and appealing, and easy to navigate.  You will definitely want to check it out and share it with all of your teens.

Without a doubt Fantasy and Science Fiction is dominating teen publishing these days (although I suspect there will be a renaissance of contemporary fiction fueled in part by the success of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and some of our other favorites) – but what I keep noticing is that there are not enough mysteries for teens (although do check out the Sherlock Holmes series by Maureen Johnson, The Name of the Star was just nominated for an Edgar Award for best mystery for young adults).  This year the Texas Teen Summer Reading Challenge is mystery focused so I am looking hard.  SOHO TEEN will be launching in January of 2013 with an emphasis on publishing mysteries for teens (so yay!!!!).  You can read a sampler of some of their titles online.

4. Guildcraft
Like many of you, I get my craft supplies primarily through Oriental Trading or by hitting my local craft store.  However, Guildcraft is adding more tween and teen crafts to their catalog so you may want to add it as a place to look for craft ideas and supplies.  They did have a craft kit to make bottle cap necklaces which I have done with my teens before and I highly recommend.  Also, I bought my daughter a necklace that tied a washer onto a string as the main component of the necklace.  Then, they made various bottle cap charms and put a small but strong magnet on the back of each so that the necklace can easily be changed.  Better explanation can be found here.

5. Discussion Guides
Throughout the day I was able to pick up discussion guides for a variety of titles including Girls Meets Boy edited by Kelly Milner Halls, The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and more.  If you have a book you are looking at using in the classroom or in your public library programming, be sure to check the publishers websites to see if they have discussion guides available. Many publishers are aware that we are looking for them and creating some good guides to help us use their titles in our libraries.

Some sites to check:

6. Zest Books
I am always looking for eye catching nonfiction for teens and, without a doubt, Zest Books has some.  They have a Teen Advisory Board that helps them in their title development and marketing which may help explain why their titles seem to be on point.  I have purchased a few titles before and they are smaller and if I am remembering correctly paperback.  Some of the titles I am looking forward to in 2012 include The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions from Pop Culture That You should Know About . . . before it’s too late and Scandalous! 50 Shocking Events You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends).  In November they will be releasing a title called Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves which has the potential to be powerful and amazing so keep your eyes open for it.

7. Egalleys
Many publishers are jumping on board with both feet into using egalleys to help promote their titles.  To see galleys be sure to sign up with NetGalley.com.  I use Net Galley and it is free and easy to use; you simply register and then select galleys that you would like to preview.  The only catch is that you must be approved by the publisher.  Some publishers, for example, are not currently accepting blogger requests. Random House, Disney Hyperion and the Lerner Publishing Group were just some of the publishers that were actively promoting egalleys at ALA Midwinter.

8. The End of Paper Catalogs
Many publishers mentioned that they were phasing out the physical, hard copies of their catalogs and would be going strictly to online catalogs.  Scholastic, for example, was encouraging librarians to go online as opposed to taking the catalogs and mentioned that soon there would be no option.  Without a doubt this is better for the environment and cuts down on marketing costs, but I imagine some will have a hard time making the transition. Although I am sure that many are already using the online versions to cut down on the amount of catalogs they get in the mail and have to try and find a place to store.

9.  Meeting Lauren Myracle

There were lots of debut authors at ALA Midwinter (I will introduce you to one at #10), but I was excited to meet popular teen author Lauren Myracle.  She was funny and humble and gracious and it was so cool to meet her.  She signed a copy of Shine for me and a ton of other fans.  I can’t tell you why Lauren Myracle called me a “naughty girl” in my signed book, but let me assure you that this girl is a ton of fun.  If you ever get the chance to meet her, jump at it. Throughout the day there were a variety of author signings and it was definitely a highlight of the exhibits.  Authors are our rock stars after all.

10.  Debut YA Author Jenny Torres Sanchez
Not too long ago we were talking on the YALSA-BK listserv about books about boys with weight issues – well, here one is.  The Downside of Being Charlie is the debut work of Jenny Torres Sanchez.  Charlie is an ex-fat kid who is having a hard time adjusting to the new him.  As a coping strategy for his complicated life Charlie turns to photography. I always love a book that encourages teens to be involved in art and self-expression and I see a natural promotional tie-in here with The 2012 Project. The Downside of Being Charlies has a June 2012 publication date.  Jenny was incredibly approachable and if she is going to be out doing author tours, or if you can get her to visit your school or library, I recommend you check her out.

And the most exciting thing, I ran into two local teens who had paid their own way into the exhibits because they loved books and reading THAT MUCH! They were excited to see a Clockwork Prince t-shirt and were big fans of Cassandra Clare.  I met them while looking at the Pandemonium arc and they too were bummed they couldn’t have it.  It was so great to see teens with passion and initiative.  And they agreed to have their picture taken for The 2012 Project.

Without a doubt, ALA Midwinter was an exciting, inspiring, and amazing learning opportunity.  It was also great exercise.  Later this week I will talk about some of the ARCs I picked up and some great upcoming releases in teen fiction.  Also coming this week, information about a great contest opportunity for you or one of your teens to win a copy of Girl Meets Boy edited by Kelly Milner Halls and signed by all 12 popular teen authors that contributed stories.