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

In this picture, I’m standing on top of Fontana Dam in rural North Carolina. At the time, I’d lived in Appalachia for nearly eight years and had lived in a small town near Fontana Dam for four. And yet, I’d never taken the opportunity to visit Fontana until the weeks before I moved away from the mountains.

Of course, I knew about the massive dam while I lived there. You can’t not know about Fontana when you live near it. It’s gargantuan, the largest dam east of the Rockies, and is nestled inside a luxurious, verdant valley. The reservoir lake beside it is extremely popular during the summer—a source of bliss for locals and tourists alike. While I knew Fontana existed, I never thought twice about how or why it had come to be built in this very rural mountain town. It was simply a building, a construction, a piece of the landscape that I didn’t quite note.

The version of me who’s standing on top of Fontana Dam is in the middle of one of the biggest moments of change in her life. She’s leaving Appalachia to return to her home state of Minnesota. She’s moving—physically and emotionally—across the country. She’s saying goodbye a place that brought her joy and peace and made her feel wholly part of the world. This change feels disastrous to her spirit, because she believes she’ll lose all the parts of herself she’s come to love, that she’ll have to re-learn how to find joy inside a place, when finding joy in the mountains came so easily to her.

Inside that sea of change, the seed of a story was born: I would write a book about the mountains and the people who there who had accepted and loved me so thoroughly. I would pour all my energy into creating a beautiful, lyrical project with a main character who loved the hills and valleys as much as I did. I would find a way to explain how very important Appalachia had become to me. But what would the story and plot be?

I tried my usual angles for writing, falling back on old tropes I loved: witches and curses and magic. In the end, the witch and the curse got tossed to the side, but the magic remained, and so too did my story of change. I didn’t want to leave Appalachia, but I knew I had to. What if I wrote the story I wished I live, one wherein I made the choice to stay, even though that wasn’t the right choice I needed to make.

Through the main character in A Wilder Magic—Sybaline—I was able to play out and see what it would be like to resist inevitable change. Inside that story, I wove in the history of Fontana Dam.

During and after the Great Depression, the Tennessee Valley Authority was created by Roosevelt. It would be the TVA’s job to create dams and electricity throughout the Tennessee Valley, serving six states throughout the South: Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi. It would provide jobs to a place hit hard by the Depression, would provide electricity to a place that had none, and would control flooding in its plentiful river basins. These are all good parts of the history of dam creation, but inside of that “good” history is one of deep sadness, for in the process, over 14,000 families were displaced from their ancestral homes. Entire towns were drowned beneath reservoirs. Cemeteries were uprooted and moved, while some graves were abandoned beneath the lakes.

Fontana Dam itself is home to the Road to Nowhere, a road the government promised to the community that would wind around Fontana Lake and lead to cemeteries from which access was cut off. The road itself is a dead end now, having never been completed. Now, people must travel by boat and over dozens of miles of treacherous, unkempt mountain trails to reach those cemeteries.

A fact that remains ever fascinating to me is that Fontana Dam, unlike other dams created by the TVA, doesn’t provide any electricity to surrounding towns. It was created to supply electricity to the nearby Oak Ridge facility where the atomic bombs were created (this fact is not included in A Wilder Magic).

My first goal in writing A Wilder Magic was to show my deep love for the mountains, and after learning this history, my second goal was to tell this piece of Appalachian history from multiple angles. I wanted to show how inevitable that change was for the communities that lived through it, and also how painful and difficult the experience must have been.

I hope everyone who reads A Wilder Magic is able to fall in love the Appalachia I found a home within and appreciate the history of the place.

About A WILDER MAGIC:

A WILDER MAGIC by Juliana Brandt

On Sale Date: May 4, 2021

9781728209647, Hardcover

9781728245737, Trade Paperback

From the author of The Wolf of Cape Fen comes a beautiful and lyrical story about one family with magic in their bones, and what happens when we have to give up what we love most.

For generations, Sybaline Shaw’s family has lived in an enchanted valley in the Appalachian Mountains, using their magic to help grow the land. But now the government has built a dam that will force the Shaws to relocate, and they’re running out of time before their home will be flooded.

Syabline and her cousin Nettle can’t imagine life without the valley and its magic, so they decide to stay. Using magic, they build an invisible wall around their home. As the water rises, they learn a terrible truth: the water will continue to rise, leaving them to live beneath the lake itself.

There is also a consequence to using magic selfishly, one that might transform both her and Nettle forever. If she can’t find a way to escape, Syballine and the ones she loves could be trapped in the valley forever.

Meet Author Juliana Brandt

JULIANA BRANDT is an author and kindergarten teacher with a passion for storytelling that guides her in both of her jobs. She lives in her childhood home of Minnesota, and her writing is heavily influenced by travels around the country and a decade living in the South. When not working, she is usually exploring the great outdoors. She is also the author of The Wolf of Cape Fen. You can find her online at julianalbrandt.com.

Introducing HEARTDRUM, a new publishing imprint that centers Native storytellers by Cynthia Leitich Smith

As someone who has spent 27+ years buying books for public libraries, I have always been astounded by how hard it is particularly to find titles about and by Native voices. And when you ask people about Native representation that typically refer to Westerns, Little House on the Prairie, or The Indian in the Cupboard, all of which rely on harmful stereotypes and most of which are not in any way, shape or form written by someone who is tribally enrolled in a Native tribe. None of these titles are good representation and many of them are, in fact, harmful representation.

So I was very excited to hear that author Cynthia Leitich Smith would be starting her own publishing imprint called Heartdrum. Smith is herself a Muscogee Creek author and has been long active in the publishing business, so she is the perfect person to head up an initiative like this. I recently got a press release package from Heartdrum and it says that, “the Heartdrum imprint will fully center intertribal voices and visions but also welcome all young readers.” It goes on to say that “the imprint will offer a wide range of heartfelt, innovative, groundbreaking and unexpected stories by Native creators, informed and inspired by lived experience, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes.”

Today I am excited to share some of their newest and upcoming titles with you.

Ancestor Approved, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Publisher’s Book Description:

A collection of intersecting stories set at a powwow that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

In a high school gym full of color and song, Native families from Nations within the borders of the U.S. and Canada dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. They are the heroes of their own stories.

Featured contributors: Joseph Bruchac, Art Coulson, Christine Day, Eric Gansworth, Dawn Quigley, Carole Lindstrom, Rebecca Roanhorse, David A. Robertson, Andrea L. Rogers, Kim Rogers, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Monique Gray Smith, Traci Sorell, Tim Tingle, Erika T. Wurth, and Brian Young. 

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Publisher’s Book Description:

In this modern take of the popular classic Peter Pan, award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek) brilliantly shifts the focus from the boy who won’t grow up to Native American Lily and English Wendy—stepsisters who must face both dangers and wonders to find their way back to the family they love.

Stepsisters Lily and Wendy embark on a high-flying journey of magic, adventure, and courage—to a fairy-tale island known as Neverland.

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family—and their friendship?

Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children.

A boy who calls himself Peter Pan.

This book comes out in June of 2021

The Sea in Winter by Christine Day

Publisher’s Book Description:

The story of a Native American girl struggling to find her joy again.

It’s been a hard year for Maisie Cannon, ever since she hurt her leg and could not keep up with her ballet training and auditions.

Her blended family is loving and supportive, but Maisie knows that they just can’t understand how hopeless she feels. With everything she’s dealing with, Maisie is not excited for their family midwinter road trip along the coast, near the Makah community where her mother grew up.

But soon, Maisie’s anxieties and dark moods start to hurt as much as the pain in her knee. How can she keep pretending to be strong when on the inside she feels as roiling and cold as the ocean? 

This book is out now

Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young

Publisher’s Book Description:

Brian Young’s debut novel, inspired by Navajo beliefs, features a seemingly ordinary boy who must save the life of a Water Monster—and help his uncle suffering from addiction—by discovering his own bravery and boundless love. An outstanding debut from a promising young Navajo author.

When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he’s in for a pretty uneventful summer. Still, he loves spending time with Nali, and with his uncle Jet—though it’s clear when Jet arrives that he brings his problems with him.

One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds something extraordinary. A Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story—a Water Monster—in need of help.

Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to help Uncle Jet heal from his own pain.

This book comes out in May of 2021

Native voices are featured in less than 1% of the kid lit titles published in previous years and are sorely lacking on our library shelves. I have long respected and admired the writing of Smith and she is the perfect person to be leading this initiative. I’m looking forward to reading all of the books!

The Tween and Friends Top 14 Reads in 2014

Many Friday nights I have anywhere from 2 to 5 preteen girls hanging out at my house. Not all of them are readers, but two of them are very fervent readers. In fact, I was surprised recently to learn that The Tween’s BF had almost 5 times the AR points as her, which is astounding when I think about how very much The Tween reads. Though to be fair, The Tween still reads largely in the MG category, which means her books are often worth fewer points, while the BF reads a ton of YA books which can tend to be worth more points. Also to be fair, The Tween reads a lot of the ARCs we get for TLT to give me her point of view and they are, of course, worth no points. Anyhow, it’s always interesting to talk to the kids that come to my house about books. Last Friday I had The Tween and Friends put together a list of their Top 14 Reads of 2014. For the purposes of this list I didn’t not limit it to new books, but just wanted to see of all the books they read between them what they liked best in 2014.

1. A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

This should be surprising to no regular TLT reader. The Tween was crazy about this book and we even took the BF to Tween Reads to meet the author, where they both got their own signed copies. I also listened to this on audio because my daughter was such a huge fan and to be honest I really liked it a lot. When I ask The Tween why she likes it her #3wordbooktalk is “magic, hopeful, happy”.

2. The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke

The Tween actually just read this book this past week. I sent her off to the Scholastic Book Fair and she came home wanting 3 books: The Neptune Project, The Spider Ring and the 3rd book in the Land of Stories series. She bought both The Neptune Project and The Spider Ring, both of which she read immediately. She commented frequently that it was “sad” and that she “wants to speak to dolphins” while reading. In the end she said, The Neptune Project is “one of those books that just really gets to you and make you realize that you have a good life.” Note: The Spider Ring technically has a January 2015 publication date but it was sold early at her school’s Scholastic Book Fair.

3. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

The Tween’s BF LOVES this series and since I do too, we talk about it a lot. She thinks she is weird because she “likes bloody books”, but I keep assuring her that lots of people do which is why mystery and horror are so popular. We even talked a little bit about why people are drawn to these types of stories and how they help us process the darkness of life in a safe environment. Not that she cares about any of that, she just thinks the books are incredibly cool.

4. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer

One of the best things about this new group of Tweens is that they are just now finding both the Harry Potter and Twilight series. So while I was there to experience it the first time, it is fun watching them experience it for their first time. The BF is a HUGE fan of the Twilight series. Although I will be the first to point out some of its flaws (I can’t stand the scene, for example, where Edward disables Bella’s vehicle to stop her from doing something she wants to do under the pretense that he is protecting her, it genuinely enrages me), I can’t help but remember the appeal for young teens who are just starting to think about romance.

5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This year I took The Tween to a Dallas meet and greet for the movie. Then I took her and her friends to see the movie. AND THEN she read the book. That’s right, she did it totally backwards. But her and her friends were compelled to read the book after watching the movie (which is also true for If I Stay), which is why I am a big champion of book based movies. The Tween didn’t cry at the movie (I sobbed like a big baby) but she did cry reading the book. All of the tweens said they liked the positive relationship in the book and that was why they were drawn to it.

6. Savvy by Ingrid Law

It was the BF who insisted this book be put on the list, neither The Tween or I have read this one yet. But that same girl who likes bloody books, she said she liked this book because “it’s one of those feel good books”. A reminder that readers aren’t drawn to just one type of book and we can take what we know about our readers and introduce them to new types of books as long as we keep them connected to the appeal factors of our audience.

7. The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer and Brandon Dorman

This is one of The Tween’s favorite series at the moment. She won’t stop talking about it and – shhhhh don’t tell – I went ahead and bought her book 3 for Christmas. Land of Stories fits nicely into the twisted fairy tales genre that is really popular at the moment, but The Tween also says she really likes the good brother/sister relationship.

8. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I was really impressed when they brought up this book because I know that 1) it’s not something they had to read for school and 2) neither one of them saw the movie (The Mr. and I went but did not take The Tween). That means that they discovered this book on their own, and yes probably sparked in part by the movie advertising, but they chose to read it and connected with it. The appeal factor for them was that it is “different than most stories.”

9. Leisl and Po by Lauren Oliver

The Tween is a huge fan of Lauren Oliver, who happens to be the first author she met in person on what our family refers to as Lauren Oliver day. She got a signed copy of Leisl and Po probably two years ago, but read it for the first time this year where she really became a fan of fantasy. In fact if you ask her, she’ll tell she is a “fantasy girl.” The appeal factor here is once again the relationships. The Tween states that Leisl and Po “taught the meaning of having a good friend.” I mean if you’re cool with your good friend being a ghost and all.

10. Dark Life by Kat Falls [Read more…]

Tweens Read: That time I took The Tween and a friend to a book festival to meet Natalie Lloyd and Jennifer Ziegler

It is only incredible motherly love that could make me wake up at 4:30 A.M. on a Saturday and drive almost 5 hours. I mean, do you know how early 4:30 A.M. is? And on a Saturday. A SATURDAY!

The Tween, Natalie Lloyd and Tween 2

As you may know, earlier this year The Tween, who is now 12, had some amazing life moments in part thanks to the authors Natalie Lloyd (A Snicker of Magic) and Jennifer Ziegler (Revenge of the Flower Girls). So when I learned that both authors would be at this year’s Tweens Read book festival, I really wanted to try and take her so she could meet them if at all possible. And meet them she did. This is an account of our day, the day in which I woke up at 4:30 A.M. and drove two pre-teen girls almost 5 hours on a Saturday. And yes, I really do want a cookie.

Jacqueline Woodson was the keynote speaker. I didn’t hear a lot of what she said because the event far surpassed capacity and was standing room only, but you can find awesome quotes as people tweeted the day at #TweensRead14. There are also lots of great pics there. It is my understanding that there were over 1,600 people pre-registered, most of them kids ages 10 to 14. The halls were flooded with young, enthusiastic readers – at times almost impassable. It was a glorious sight to behold. [Read more…]

This is what happened when I asked Twitter to recommend MG & YA lit titles for those asking about Ferguson

Inspired in part by Robin’s post yesterday on talking with her middle grade students about Ferguson and the book Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth, I wondered what kind of list we could put together quickly to recommend to students who were wondering about the events happening in Ferguson. So I went to Twitter and asked for everyone’s suggestions. Here’s what they recommended:

If you have titles to recommend and add to this list, please share in the comments. We believe that literature can help us understand current events and sharing these titles can help our communities process events happening at Ferguson.

Book Review: Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler

As many of you know, I took The Tween to ALA Annual recently and we had an amazing experience, in large part thanks to Scholastic. While there, she became passionate about wanting to read a book called REVENGE OF THE FLOWER GIRLS by Jennifer Ziegler. This past week, Jennifer Ziegler contacted me and she sent The Tween a copy of the book and wrote her a little letter. The Tween, of course was delighted and sat down immediately to read it. Today she is going to share with you her thoughts about the book. Then, at the end of this post, we have a little something we would like to do and we need your help.

Publisher’s Book Description:

In this middle-grade Bridesmaids, hilarity ensues as triplets have to stop a wedding!

One bride. Two boys. Three flower girls who won’t forever hold their peace. What could go wrong with this wedding? Everything!

The Brewster triplets, Dawn, Darby, and Delaney, would usually spend their summer eating ice cream, playing with their dog, and reading about the US Presidents. But this year they’re stuck planning their big sister Lily’s wedding. Lily used to date Alex, who was fun and nice and played trivia games with the triplets, and no one’s quite sure why they broke up. Burton, Lily’s groom-to-be, is not nice or fun, and he looks like an armadillo.

The triplets can’t stand to see Lily marry someone who’s completely wrong for her, so it’s up to them to stop the wedding before anyone says “I do!” The flower girls will stop at nothing to delay Lily’s big day, but will sprinklers, a photo slideshow, a muddy dog, and some unexpected allies be enough to prevent their big sister – and the whole Brewster family – from living unhappily ever after?

The Tween’s Thoughts: 

I really liked this book because it was very funny. I also liked how the girls were trying to stand up for their sister because they thought someone else was better for their sister, that the guy she was going to marry was wrong for her. I really liked the characters. I liked Lily who was supposed to get married to Burton; she was friendly and tried to think positive, and she was good to her little sisters. And I really liked Darby because she was quiet but knew how to help; she kind of reminded me of myself. Dawn, who is one of the triplets, had a really bad temper. I really liked Alex; he was nice and spent time with the triplets in a way that showed he cared about them. Burton’s mom was really controlling and kept calling the triplets “barbarians”. Burton was allergic to a lot of things and my little sister is allergic to 13 foods so I felt kind of bad for him because having allergies can really change the way you have to live your life. Plus his mother was pressuring him so much and he didn’t really have control over himself.

The story takes place in Texas! But Lily cried because she was going to have to move away after marrying Burton, which she really didn’t want. I thought it was really wrong that she had to change so much just to try and fit his needs. It was really sad because she was letting this man control her and she wasn’t really happy with it.

I really recommend book. I think it has some great life lessons about being true to yourself and not letting other people control you. Some parts were really sad and made me want to cry because I could relate to them. And in some parts, it was really very funny. This is now my second favorite book.

And Now a Word from the Librarian Mom:

This past week The Tween received letters from both Natalie Lloyd and Jennifer Ziegler. And for a variety of reasons, we ended up with two copies each of both A SNICKER OF MAGIC and REVENGE OF THE FLOWER GIRLS. These books were given to us from the kindness of others who reached out to my daughter and it truly touched us both. So we want to pay it forward as they say and send a set of the books on to some other pre-teen girl (or boy). My daughter is a huge fan of these books, she talks about them to me all the time and she really recommends them. We would appreciate your helping us send this set to another girl(or boy): Please leave us a little comment letting us know the first initial/name (please no last names) of someone you think would love these books and a way to get in contact with you. On this upcoming Saturday, The Tween will put all the names in a hat and draw one out. We’ll then contact that person for the mailing information and send the books on so that she can share her love of these books with one of her peers. Sadly, postage is super expensive, so U.S. residents only please (and I’m so sorry!). I know that many of you work with kids who maybe don’t own any books of their own, or maybe a kid who is struggling with moving, or making friends, or whatever. Maybe getting a package in the mail (or hand delivered by you) is just what they need. It certainly made my Tween’s day.

And again, thank you so much to Natalie Lloyd, Jennifer Ziegler, and everyone at Scholastic (especially Tracy!). Seriously, this mom just really thanks you.

Take 5: MG Lit Titles from Scholastic Reviewed by My Tween

The other day I got a box of books in the mail from Scholastic (Thanks Scholastic!) and I had set them on the table which has become my office. Later that evening, I heard a shriek of delight from the Tween: “You didn’t tell me you got the new Jedi Academy” she screamed with joy. It turns out, there were a lot of books in that box she coveted. So she spent her first few free days of summer reading. This is not surprising, because this is how she spends a lot of her free time. In fact, we’re getting ready to drive to Las Vegas at the end of the month for ALA Annual and she talked me into buying her an Exhibit Hall pass so she could go in one day with me and see what it was like. I think she is hoping she’ll get to meet a few of her favorite authors and I know she is hoping to just touch tons of books. So since she spent the weekend reading, I thought I would have her share her thoughts with you. I added my thoughts as a note underneath hers.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

A Snicker of Magic is a book about this little girl who collects words and moves to a little town called Midnight Gulch. But Midnight Gulch was no ordinary town you see there used to be magic in this town. But it was lost when the brothers Stone and Berry duel for love; the magic is lost so Felicity must use her power to help her mom stay in Midnight Gulch and help the town regain the magic. So to figure out the end of the story read my favorite book A Snicker of Magic. I totally loved this book; it was awesome in every way. The characters were funny and kind. It had a lot of details. I really hope one day I can try some blackberry sunrise ice cream.

Karen’s Thoughts: I have heard her talk about this book for a while now. She has had friends come over and she tells them to read it. And I have had several people her age in my library and when they ask me about book recommendations I say, “my daughter who is your age loves this book and thinks everyone should read it.” Every time they have read the book description and walked out with the book. (ISBN: 9780545552707)


Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
This new book is about two sisters who go on a road trip to visit their cousins. Along the way they go through ups and downs so they have to help each other and figure out ways to get along. But when their car breaks down they have to stay behind in a car with a snake in it. On the way home they figure out the meaning of sisterhood. Read this amazing book, it was very funny and I like that the author was putting parts of her own childhood into it. I am a big fan of Smile and this did not disappoint.

Karen’s Thoughts: Smile by Telgemeier is one of the most re-read books in our house. The Tween has read it numerous times. She recently had a friend spend the night who quickly borrowed it. It is also very popular in my library. Interestingly enough, the Tween was recently sitting on the couch, looking up information on her phone and writing it down on a piece of paper. She soon read to me a report she had written on Telgemeier. She didn’t have an assignment, she just wanted to learn more about the author. I have been very impressed with how much Telgemeier has inspired in my daughter. (Publishes in August)

Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 by Dave Pilkey


This funny book is about two boys George and Harold who make their principal think he’s a superhero. But when the turbo toilet 2000 comes back and there is a duplicate George and Harold the boys must help Captain Underpants battle the turbo toilet 2000. I definitely recommend this funny book.

Karen’s Thoughts: This series is still very popular with Middle Grade readers and all my copies are always checked out. (Publishes in August)


Jedi Academy Return of the Padawan (Star Wars Jedi Academy book 2) by Jeffrey Brown


It’s a new year for Roan at the Jedi Academy and it’s going to be even harder than last year. When Roan loses his friends and goes to the dark side he must figure out what to do with himself. Find out what side he ends up on in the end. I like this series because it is funny and makes me think about life.

Karen’s Thoughts: I had immediately given the Tween Sisters because I knew how much she loved that author. As I mentioned above, I was surprised, however, when she later when through the titles herself and said very excitedly, “You didn’t tell me you got the new Star Wars Jedi Academy book.” So this is obviously another series that she highly recommends. (July 2014. ISBN: 978-0545621250)

Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack


As a young girl Cleopatra does not like work so when she has a chance to go to space and fight battles she isn’t going to pass down the offer. With help from friends she becomes a great fighter. Find out what happens. This book was very funny and I really liked the talking cats.

Karen’s Thoughts: Graphic novels are very popular right now with my Tweens at my library. Our copy that I ordered for the library came in last week and it is a lot of fun. (April, ISBN: 9780545528436)


Bad Hair Day (Whatever After #5) by Sarah Mlynowski)


Another day in a fairytale but this time in Rapunzel . But when Jonah ruins Rapunzel’s  hair and Abby cuts all of it off the kids have to find out how to get Rapunzel her  happily ever after and defeat Frau Gothel . How will Abby and Jonah get out of this mess? This is book 5 and I have read the other four. I like this series because the brother and sister try to make life happier for other people.

Karen’s Thoughts: With the popularity of Frozen and other twisted Fairy Tales that feature female empowerment, I highly recommend this series. I read the first couple of titles and really enjoyed them. I particularly like the brother/sister relationship, the positive spin, and the humor. It’s really interesting because the Tween is inching closer to teendom and so now she is straddling the MG and YA lit categories. She has read (and likes) Divergent and she recently read The Fault in Our Stars (which she did not love and did not cry), but she still likes some of these younger titles. (April, ISBN: 9780545627283)

Take 5: Villains

Muwhahahah . . . Twirling my mustache here for this post.

Earlier today Christie shared some of her favorite villains in comics and graphic novels, so let’s take a look at villains in MG and YA lit. In the immortal words of Loki, “I am burdened with glorious purpose.” And my purpose today is to share these books with you. . .



Vordak

“Slip on your acid-free gloves, make sure you have a duplicate copy of How to Grow Up and Rule the World (just in case something should happen to this one) and try to follow along as the incomparable, superior-in-all-ways Vordak the Incomprehensible teaches you a thing or two about villainy. Now you, too, can try (and fail) to attain Vordak’s level of infamy.”
Publisher’s Description (EgmontUSA 2011, 9781606840139) 


H.I.V.E.
Otto Malpense may only be thirteen years old, but so far he has managed to run the orphanage where he lives, and he has come up with a plan clever enough to trick the most powerful man in the country. He is the perfect candidate to become the world’s next supervillain.”
Publisher’s Description (Simon & Schuster 2007, 9781416935711) 
Blaze (love in the time of supervillains)
Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her “sext” photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now” – Publisher’s Description (Sourcebooks Fire 2013, 9781402273438)

Evil Genius
“Cadel Piggott has a genius IQ and a fascination with systems of all kinds. At seven, he was illegally hacking into computers. Now he’s fourteen and studying for his World Domination degree, taking classes like embezzlement, misinformation, forgery, and infiltration at the institute founded by criminal mastermind Dr. Phineas Darkkon. Although Cadel may be advanced beyond his years, at heart he’s a lonely kid. When he falls for the mysterious and brilliant Kay-Lee, he begins to question the moral implications of his studies for the first time. But is it too late to stop Dr. Darkkon from carrying out his evil plot?”
Publisher’s Description (HMH Books for Young Readers 2005, 9780152059880) 

 
Cloak Society

The first in a thrilling, action-packed middle grade trilogy, which School Library Journal declared “will likely find the same wide appeal as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.

“The Cloak Society: An elite organization of supervillains graced with extraordinary powers. Ten years ago the Cloak Society was defeated by Sterling City’s superheroes, the Rangers of Justice, and vanished without a trace. But the villains have been waiting for the perfect moment to resurface. . . .”

Publisher’s Description (HarperCollins 2012, 9780062095473)

Take 5: Upcoming Middle Grade Titles with Diverse Protagonists

In the spirit of the We Need Diverse Books campaign, here are 5 upcoming middle grade titles that fit the bill: 

 
I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin


An eleven-year-old’s world is upended by political turmoil in this searing novel from an award-winning poet, based on true events in Chile.

Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile—until the time comes when even Celeste, with her head in the clouds, can’t deny the political unrest that is sweeping through the country. Warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates disappear from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore.

The country has been taken over by a government that declares artists, protestors, and anyone who helps the needy to be considered “subversive” and dangerous to Chile’s future. So Celeste’s parents—her educated, generous, kind parents—must go into hiding before they, too, “disappear.” To protect their daughter, they send her to America.

As Celeste adapts to her new life in Maine, she never stops dreaming of Chile. But even after democracy is restored to her home country, questions remain: Will her parents reemerge from hiding? Will she ever be truly safe again?

Accented with interior artwork, steeped in the history of Pinochet’s catastrophic takeover of Chile, and based on many true events, this multicultural ode to the power of revolution, words, and love is both indelibly brave and heartwrenchingly graceful. 

An eleven-year-old’s world is upended by political turmoil in this searing novel from an award-winning poet, based on true events in Chile.

Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile—until the time comes when even Celeste, with her head in the clouds, can’t deny the political unrest that is sweeping through the country. Warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates disappear from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore.
The country has been taken over by a government that declares artists, protestors, and anyone who helps the needy to be considered “subversive” and dangerous to Chile’s future. So Celeste’s parents—her educated, generous, kind parents—must go into hiding before they, too, “disappear.” To protect their daughter, they send her to America.

As Celeste adapts to her new life in Maine, she never stops dreaming of Chile. But even after democracy is restored to her home country, questions remain: Will her parents reemerge from hiding? Will she ever be truly safe again?

Accented with interior artwork, steeped in the history of Pinochet’s catastrophic takeover of Chile, and based on many true events, this multicultural ode to the power of revolution, words, and love is both indelibly brave and heartwrenchingly graceful. – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/I-Lived-on-Butterfly-Hill/Marjorie-Agosin/9781416953449#sthash.HUiKxlYs.dpuf

An eleven-year-old’s world is upended by political turmoil in this searing novel from an award-winning poet, based on true events in Chile.

Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile—until the time comes when even Celeste, with her head in the clouds, can’t deny the political unrest that is sweeping through the country. Warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates disappear from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore.
The country has been taken over by a government that declares artists, protestors, and anyone who helps the needy to be considered “subversive” and dangerous to Chile’s future. So Celeste’s parents—her educated, generous, kind parents—must go into hiding before they, too, “disappear.” To protect their daughter, they send her to America.

As Celeste adapts to her new life in Maine, she never stops dreaming of Chile. But even after democracy is restored to her home country, questions remain: Will her parents reemerge from hiding? Will she ever be truly safe again?

Accented with interior artwork, steeped in the history of Pinochet’s catastrophic takeover of Chile, and based on many true events, this multicultural ode to the power of revolution, words, and love is both indelibly brave and heartwrenchingly graceful. – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/I-Lived-on-Butterfly-Hill/Marjorie-Agosin/9781416953449#sthash.HUiKxlYs.dpuf

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj

What’s the one thing you want most in your life? Abby Spencer wants a life of excitement!

Well, sort of. Actually, that’s a lie. All Abby really wants is to meet her father. It’s not that she’s ungrateful for what she has – nice mom, adorable grandparents, great friends – but she feels like something’s missing. And she’d never tell anyone that.

Abby knows her dad lives in India, but she’s never met him and doesn’t know much else about him. But Abby’s mom realizes it’s time to have the big talk. It’s time for Abby to finally meet her father.

But does he want to meet her? Is Abby ready for the truth? Abby’s about to find out that her dad lives a very different life in a very different country and she’s going to experience it all, for better or worse. This is what happens when all your wishes come true…

Dust of Eden by Mariko Nagai



Imagine your country is at war. Now imagine everyone around you thinks you’re the enemy. 

Mina Tagawa is just like any other American girl in middle school, sharing secrets with her best friend. But all that changes in December 1941 when Pearl Harbor is attacked. Suddenly her classmates are calling her a Jap, her father is arrested by the FBI, and newspaper headlines in Seattle and throughout the West Coast warn people not to trust Japanese Americans. Within weeks, Mina’s family is forced to leave their home and sent hundreds of miles away to an internment camp. For the next three years they live under armed guard – Americans treated as enemies. This powerful novel in verse visits a little-known moment in our country’s history with honesty that is both thought provoking and inspirational. 

Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

Saving the school–one con at a time.

Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz…. But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good.

Then Keith Sinclair–loser of the Blitz–announces he’s running for school president, against Jackson’s former best friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby hasn’t talked to Jackson since the PDA, and he knows she won’t welcome his involvement. But he also knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the election whatever the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team to ensure the election is done right: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess and cheerleader. Charlie de la Cruz, point man. Together they devise a plan that will bring Keith down once and for all. Yet as Jackson draws closer to Gaby again, he realizes the election isn’t the only thing he wants to win.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


One of today’s finest writers tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse
In vivid poems, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South. Raised in South Carolina and later New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place, and describes the reality of living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world.

Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories—something she’s always loved to do, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Readers will delight in witnessing this gifted author discover her love of stories and storytelling and seeing the first sparks of the writer she was to become.

All book descriptions are provided by the publisher

The School for Good and Evil: A World without Princes Booktrailer

As you may recall, our Tween reviewer Ceci LOVED The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. When I got a copy of the next book, which comes out in April of 2014, I knew I had to get her to read it for us. There was squealing. She is reading it now and will get back to us with her review. Until then, check out the very amazing looking trailer that debuted over at Entertainment Weekly.

But in case you don’t know the beginning of the story, here’s the trailer for book 1:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqnU3ZqvL1k?rel=0]

And here’s the trailer for book 2, A World without Princes:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDHTWDnwBbU?rel=0]
The School for Good and Evil: A World without Princes by Soman Chainani debuts April 15, 2014 from Harper Teen. ISBN: 978-0-06-210492-2.