Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Book Gallery: YA for Fans of Squid Game

I’m not going to lie, I only made it through 1 episode of Squid Game because the violence was too much for me personally. But Riley has watched it and talks to me about it – a lot. And she is just one of the many, many teens I know that are watching this show. So I thought I would put together for us a book gallery that highlights Teen/Young Adult fiction about deadly games, contests, etc. that teens who like the show may like to read. The titles here focus on teens being in peril and trying to survive, much like one of the elements of Squid Game. It is important to note, however, the survival aspect is not the overall theme of Squid Game, and it’s important that we take a moment to talk about that.

Part of the underlying commentary of Squid Game is about the brutality and exploitation of trying to survive capitalism. The contestants in Squid Game are there because they are in some way not surviving in a world that thrives on capitalism, sometimes because of decisions of their own and sometimes because of those around them. It also has a lot to do more specifically with Korean culture, which I want to acknowledge although I do not have a right to talk about those cultural contexts of Squid Game. In the world of YA, it seems thematically similar to a lot of early 2000s Dystopian, especially The Hunger Games, which of course was thematically and plot wise similar to earlier predecessors like Battle Royale. These are important literary and media conversations that have been happening that talk about the brutality of capitalism, exploitation, and more. If you have not watched the series, and even if you have, I recommend taking a deep dive into analysis of this series and why it is so widely popular, especially in this current moment. I have been reading a lot about it and it’s informative and fascinating.

So before we dive into the book gallery, I want to use this opportunity to talk with you about an old YA favorite of mine: HIT by Delilah Dawson. This title specifically has very good corollaries to the economic exploitation and brutality discussed in Squid Game.

In Hit, people who have debt must become assassins for the bank owning the debt in order to pay off – or, em, kill off – their debt. So here we meet Patsy, who becomes a teenage assassin to keep her mother alive because her mom can’t do it herself. So she’s given a list of 10 people she has to kill to pay off her debt and it turns out, they aren’t all strangers to her. It’s complicated. And it’s a wild ride that takes on capitalism, debt and more. So you can see how it’s a great companion read for Squid Game fans. There’s also a second book called Strike. I liked the series and think it’s a great read -a-like for Squid Game fans. It, too, is a searing commentary on capitalism, economic exploitation, and how hard it is to get out of debt once you get into it, and how very few people can avoid getting into it to survive this life.

There are a few other books that really tackle economic injustice and the brutality of capitalism well that may be of interest to Squid Game fans and they include Hungry by H. A. Swain and, of course, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Readers may also want to check out S.T.A.G.S. by M. A. Bennett.

Although the following books don’t all focus on the capitalism and debt aspect of Squid Game, they definitely have the I hope you survive this event, day, or night aspect. Some of the titles, like Panic by Lauren Oliver, do tap into economic anxieties which fuel the deadly small town competition. For some of the other titles on the lists its tradition, secrets or revenge that put their lives in peril. If you have readers who are looking for books that have that people in peril aspect, these reads might satisfy their reading interests.

Book covers pictured include: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater, This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher, Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz, Shade’s Children by Garth Nix, Surviving Antartica by Andrea White, Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott, Titans by Victoria Scott, A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, Panic by Lauren Oliver, #murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil, Ten by Gretchen McNeil, the Gone series by Michael Grant, Caraval by Stephanie Garber and Survive the Night by Danielle Vega

You may also find some other books of interest in these lists, which again don’t always touch on some of the social themes but still have the people in peril aspect.

YA Slasher Fiction: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/ya-slasher

YA Survival Stories: https://www.readbrightly.com/young-adult-survival-stories/

I am sure that there are a lot of other great titles that could be added to this list. And for those of us that have teens asking for books to read similar to Squid Game, there are several directions you can go. So if you have some recommendations to add, please leave a comment and tell us what you recommend and why.

More information about HIT by Delilah S. Dawson

NO ONE READS THE FINE PRINT.

The good news is that the USA is finally out of debt. The bad news is that we were bought out by Valor National Bank, and debtors are the new big game, thanks to a tricky little clause hidden deep in the fine print of a credit card application. Now, after a swift and silent takeover that leaves 9-1-1 calls going through to Valor voicemail, they’re unleashing a wave of anarchy across the country.

Patsy didn’t have much of a choice. When the suits showed up at her house threatening to kill her mother then and there for outstanding debt unless Patsy agreed to be an indentured assassin, what was she supposed to do? Let her own mother die?

Patsy is forced to take on a five-day mission to complete a hit list of ten names. Each name on Patsy’s list has only three choices: pay the debt on the spot, agree to work as a bounty hunter, or die. And Patsy has to kill them personally, or else her mom takes a bullet of her own.

Since yarn bombing is the only rebellion in Patsy’s past, she’s horrified and overwhelmed, especially as she realizes that most of the ten people on her list aren’t strangers. Things get even more complicated when a moment of mercy lands her with a sidekick: a hot rich kid named Wyatt whose brother is the last name on Patsy’s list. The two share an intense chemistry even as every tick of the clock draws them closer to an impossible choice.

Delilah S. Dawson offers an absorbing, frightening glimpse at a reality just steps away from ours—a taut, suspenseful thriller that absolutely mesmerizes from start to finish.

Sad Soup Books; AKA, Middle Grade and YA Fiction About Grief

We recently experienced a devastating loss in my family and, as Riley says, we all live in sad soup lately. That’s how she has described the grief that hangs over us each day, like we’re living in a big ole bowl of sad soup. I recently went looking for books for both of my girls to help them navigate the experience of grief, should they be interested in reading those kinds of books. So far they haven’t, which is fine because everyone handles it differently. But should they ever want them, I have some good suggestions to pass along now. So today’s book gallery is on the theme of grief.

Middle Grade Books about Grief

Here are some links to other great posts with lists of Middle Grade books that deal with the topic of grief

YA Fiction Books about Grief

Here are some links to other great book lists about YA fiction that deals with the topic of grief

I was actually in the midst of reading The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley when my father was in his car accident. Before the accident, I kept remarking that it was such a rich and meaningful look at loss and grief. So much so that when my father died, I had a hard time finishing the book because it hit too close to home. I did finish it and I’m glad that I did, but it was hard because it rang so very true to what I was thinking and feeling. So you’ll definitely want to add this to any book lists about grief.

Also, I want you to know that If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson is hands down one of the most beautifully written books ever written and it is a moving and beautiful exploration of grief.

As a parent who is grieving, I have found it difficult to have to navigate my own grief while helping my children, ages 12 and 18, navigate their grief. There are resources to help you help teens with grief.

For me, the biggest key has been allowing my kids to have space to feel their feelings and talk about them. If Riley wants to talk about sad soup, we talk about sad soup. If she doesn’t, then we don’t. We’ve talked a lot about the cycles of grief, that everyone goes through the process in their own time and in their own ways, and we have found ways to remember their beloved grandfather that works for each of them individually. And we take it moment by moment, day by day. And I’m not going to lie, every moment of this has been hard. I have been very thankful that I have the resources to research and read and learn and just . . . be. I hope when you have your sad soup days, you find comfort and healing in the ways that are right and healthy for you. And if that includes reading a book about grief, there are a lot of great ones out there for you.

How to Use the “Breaking Things Down” Bracket Meme as a RA Tool

Let me break this down for you

There is a new meme trend sweeping the social media landscape called “Breaking Things Down” or the Bracket Meme that invites you to, well, break things down. It looks like this:

It invites you to break a book down into it’s parts and it is fun. What a great RA tool for social media sharing. Let’s discuss.

Here’s how it works: You take a book and break it down into it’s parts. For example, a book can be 2/3 flirty and fun, and 1/3 it will rip your heart out. For the record, the trend isn’t just about books, but for our purposes here it’s ALL ABOUT BOOKS.

Here are some other examples for you to get a handle on the trend: https://www.buzzfeed.com/angelicaamartinez/twitter-meme-brackets

I made the A . S. King example above using a photo App called Over. Pretty much any app or program that let’s you add a background and text will work. If you use Canva, you can do it there as well. You can share plot elements, character descriptions, themes or even just funny notes about a book. I feel like every time I read an A. S. King book I don’t understand what’s happening but I keep going because in the end, she’s going to blow my mind. That’s what I wanted to capture in my breakdown of her upcoming book SWITCH, which did start with time actually stopping and then literally blew my mind.

Create Your Meme Step by Step

  1. Start with a plain white background.
  2. Add your book cover. You should be able to find and download a book cover easily on the internet. You want a clean cover, no background or edges.
  3. Use either a text block or a graphic to add 2 or 3 right parenthesis on the right side of your book cover.
  4. Next to your parenthesis, use a text box to add your description. A handwritten looking font looks best in my humble opinion, but you do you.
  5. After you have completed your image, save it as a .jpeg or .png
  6. Share it on your social media

Just Some Follow Up Thoughts

Just a note, it really helps if you have read the book and have some witty things to say about the book. I’m not always witty, so looking at a lot of other examples helped me out a lot. Luckily, a lot of authors have been sharing their own memes on Twitter and that helped.

Also, the Over app that I used let’s you choose a plain white background from the first step so it was a go to app for me for this project. If you were going to use something like Canva, you could even set up a template and just plug in your book cover and text each time. Setting up a template is a really good idea if you want to make more of these. I love and recommend using templates as often as possible for repeated images.

And this is a great social media/virtual programming challenge to get tweens and teens involved in. Create a hashtag and invite your library patrons to create their own memes. If you have a template you can even share it with them and include your library brand and logo on it. If you are worried about the cursing and such, create a submission email for them to submit them and then share them from your library social media in a more curated fashion.

As with anything, by the time you are reading this post it’s probably close to being played out, so act quickly. Though I just saw the above Buzzfeed post so it probably has a little shelf life left in it. But most importantly, it’s pretty quick, easy and fun to do and we’re all looking for ways to get more book covers into the eyeballs of our patrons, especially in the time of Covid, so I highly recommend this.

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

Photo by Kiya Morrison

We have been working on this project at White Oak Library District for a long time. We have had quite a few librarians who have worked on this project and of course our supervisors and managers.  I first wanted to do this when I went to a presentation on book boxes at the Young Adult Services Forum (ILA). A few libraries in our area have done this program. 

What is #LIBRARYCRATE?

#LIBRARYCRATE is a three-month library book box subscription. When you sign up for the service you will receive two to three library Young Adult (YA) books picked specifically for you to check out each month. While you must return the library books and subscription box, each month you will receive special mystery gifts to keep.

Who can sign up for #LIBRARYCRATE?

While #LIBRARYCRATE is a subscription service for Young Adult books that typically target a teen audience, both adults and teen may sign up for #LIBRARYCRATE. Just know that all the books that are selected for the #LIBRARYCRATE will be YA books.

We had to start with the box. The box was something we looked for. We wanted our box to be able to fit 2-3 YA books in it. The box size we ended up going with 12x 9 inches. We had to also come up with a name. We like many libraries love to have meetings and were able to come up with the name in one of our teen meetings. We choose #librarycrate.  We loved it because people could post about it online using the hashtag.  We then asked Kiya Morrison to come up with a box design. She is our marketing person. She is amazing.

Here are the two decisions we choose.

We then worked on how the box would work. We had our wonderful tech services department make barcodes for every box.  We have it as a standard checkout period for the box, but it cannot be renewed because we will need the box for the next patron.  We have instructions in each box for the patron about what to do with the box and also a survey that Kiya made that looks like an old book card that would go in old library books.

We put the event on our library calendar online. We used evanced and Faith Healy, my coworker, made it an event ribbon which covered two months. We also posted #librarycrate to our webpage. http://whiteoaklibrary.org/teen-promotional-events-one

We included a survey to sign up for #librarycrate online. We asked patrons to fill it out. Not every question is required but most are. Faith has added some really useful questions. Faith also created a QR  for the survey. It has been very useful.

The questions included are:

  • Name First
  • Name Last
  • Your Library Card Number
  • What subscription period are you signing up for? We have this service in quarters.
  • Your Pickup Branch
  • Do you have any food allergies? (This is has been really useful for religious restrictions also)

Select at least 3 of Your Favorite Genres to Read!

  • Action Adventure
  • Audiobooks
  • Biographies
  • Contemporary
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Fairy Tales
  • Graphic Novels
  • Historical
  • Horror
  • Humor
  • LGBTQ+
  • Manga
  • Mystery
  • Non-fiction
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Start a Series
  • Superheroes
  • Thriller
  • Other: Fill in the blank

Select at least 1 Genre You Don’t Want to Read. *

  • Action Adventure
  • Audiobooks
  • Biographies
  • Contemporary
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Fairy Tales
  • Graphic Novels
  • Historical
  • Horror
  • Humor
  • LGBTQ+
  • Manga
  • Mystery
  • Non-Fiction
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Start a Series
  • Superheroes
  • Thriller
  • I don’t have a genre I won’t read!

Other:

Any themes that you would like to avoid?  (This is one of the most useful questions)

  • No
  • Drug Use
  • Violence
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sex
  • Other:

Who are your favorite YA authors?

List a few of your favorite books.

List a few of your favorite fandoms. Example: Disney, Marvel, Mermaids, Dragons, etc.

List a few of your favorite characters.

List of few of your favorite literary tropes. Examples: The Chosen One, Fake Dating, Love Triangle etc.

What are your favorite TV shows?

Any else you would like to add?

This program is a lot of work, but it has been one of my favorites because we get to do Reader’s Advisory. We keep track of our picks in an excel spreadsheet and add columns for each month. If teens or adults renew we keep their records. We give them more time to pick up their box. You have to work with your Circulation Department to find a method that works for you. I am so lucky our circulation department is so awesome.  We put a hold on the box and copy the barcodes of the books and tape the barcodes on the box. This way we do not ruin the surprise of the box. We find this adds excitement. One tool I use is common sense media as a way to try to find books that fit the criteria. If a teen does not want sex in their book, this website lets me know what does go in the book. We have had a lot of 7th graders sign up and that do not want sex in their books sometimes. I want to make sure I pick the right books for the right readers. I also try to make sure to include a lot of books by authors of color. This has worked out well because the teens and adults have told me they love finding these authors who are often new to them. I love connecting readers with books.

Have you tried this at your library? What have you learned?

See Also:

https://www.ila.org/publications/ila-reporter/article/101/book-box-how-a-cardboard-box-became-our-trendiest-teen-program

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

Creating RA Reading Maps and Flow Charts

This is an example of a reading map created by NPR that helped to inspire my quest to make a reading flow chart

I’ve recently been exploring the concept of reading maps and reading flow charts. I’ve always wanted to create them to help reader’s find books, but found the idea of creating them from scratch overwhelming. But I’ve been tinkering a lot with them and am finally getting a better grasp on this process. Here’s what I’ve been learning.

Reader’s Advisory is the process of helping reader’s find new books that they would like to read. A RA reading map or flow chart connects readers from a starting point – a specific title or concept – with new titles by asking them a series of questions or connecting them with specific likeness factors in a visual format.

Fierce Reads and Epic Reads have been making amazing RA graphics for years and I have always been inspired by them to want to create better and more visual RA tools for my teens.

Example

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/pDyMWfsUpIMCegiwvaRzP5vFCyZsXAIAj-bXsT3LJE98kjaCJRu6zTu1f7kOIUMU0si55_MgvrF21UkQBylQhFlXCPbhrOb2MqZdiKfFeISxxJIxEhFMUfjDbUh4XAQ-TVsxR2oB5A

More Examples:

What books to give to middle schoolers

After looking at a lot of examples – and I mean a lot of examples – I then started doing some research to see what tools other reading map/flow charts creators might be using. This took me down the research rabbit hole.

Resources to Learn More about Reader’s Advisory Reading Maps and Flow Charts

Ontarian Librarian https://ontarianlibrarian.com/2015/02/13/interactive-readers-advisory-flow-chart-display/ – This is a great post about making a live version of the RA flowchart for a display. I highly recommend it.

Marketing Blog https://658point8.com/2012/08/13/readers-advisory-goes-graphic/

RA Beyond Lists https://wrappedupinbooks.org/2013/05/04/readers-advisory-resources-beyond-lists/

RA with Style slideshow https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1GOGFEgVS3oY5Wvx-HVqk4cI-lDrU2nxIbYLj-cqLoq8/edit#slide=id.g103ad0bd7_08

A lot of tools were mentioned, some of which I was even already familiar with. Whenever you can, go with what you already know and feel comfortable with.

Resources for Making Reading Maps and Flow Charts

Canva – this is a free resource that I actually use regularly both professionally and personally and I highly recommend it.

Piktochart – I have used this to create an infographic in the past and it also is a good resource.

Excel Flowbreeze – This tool is not free and has a pretty hefty price tag on it.

Lovely Charts

You can also Google Online Flowchart Makers and several additional resources come up. I ended up sticking with what I knew to work well and was already familiar with – Canva.

I then began researching basics of design and design tips to help me get some basic fundamentals out of the way. I wanted to know not only what tools to use, but what were considered best practices for design.

Information about Making General Flowcharts That Can Be Applies to RA Flowchartd

21 Design Tips for Flowcharts https://visme.co/blog/flowchart-examples/

Flowchart Tutorial https://www.visual-paradigm.com/tutorials/flowchart-tutorial/

How to Make a Flowchart in 5 Steps https://www.zenflowchart.com/how-to-make-flowcharts/

Because I like making a concrete plan for myself, I then settled on this basic process outline.

To Create an RA Flowchart

  1. Determine your topic
  2. Research what books you would like to put on your list
  3. Determine what factors you will use to connect them on a flowchart and establish your flow
  4. Use a graphic tool to create your flowchart
  5. Save, print, share

With all of this research and information in hand, I then set out to design my first RA flow chart. I sat down with a piece of paper and kind of made a handwritten rough draft of what I wanted it to look like and what titles I would include and what selection factors would get me to those choices.

With my rough draft in hand, I then set out to create my tool using an online creator. This was made in Canva using an example that I found doing some basic web searching. To create the graphic I used dotted lines and boxes to create the flow. I entered them in manually and it worked. I built up a model that allowed me to create the tool I had in my head. After wrestling with it for a bit, some things clicked in to place and it went pretty quickly for me.

After completing this graphic, I got smart and created a template for myself. I removed the book covers and put in boxes that I could fill. I also removed the text, leaving the colored boxes in the background to fill. Now I have a flowchart template that I can easily go in and fill whenever I need. Everything can be changed and filled to recreate this tool using new topics and book covers pretty quickly.

Over time, I would like to create some more templates to have on hand for the creation of easy and quick RA tools on demand. But for today, I’m going to be satisfied with having made this! It was a bit of a learning curve for me and I’m going to take a moment to be satisfied.

Take 5: Afrofuturism for Teens

Even though I have been a teen services librarian doing collection development for 26+ years, I still learn new things every day. I recently learned about Afrofuturism, which is the term used to describe “a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science and philosophy of history that explores the developing intersection of African diaspora culture with technology”. It was coined by a man named Mark Dery in 1993. It was around this time that I was beginning my career in librarianship, so why am I just now hearing about it? Mostly, because I am a white woman practicing in a profession that is dominated by other white women just like me. I learned about this term in large part thanks Twitter conversations that I saw taking place but also because there is growing and better representation in the youth literature being published for our kids. Today I am going to share with you 5 titles that I have heard being talked about in the discussions of Afrofuturism. If you, like me, would like to learn more about this topic to be a more knowledable librarian and better serve your patrons, I highly recommend reading up.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Publisher’s Book Description:

Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.

Karen’s Thoughts: This was brilliant. It also came out yesterday and you should definitely get it and read it.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Publisher’s Book Description:

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Karen’s Thoughts: I read this book when it first came out and it has appeared on the NYT Bestseller list for quite some time, as has its sequel. It’s an epic read with amazing world building.

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this stunning fantasy adventure from debut author Charlotte Nicole Davis.

Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst

THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS

The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls–they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.

When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta’s most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It’s going to take more than luck for them all to survive. 

Karen’s Thoughts: I have not yet read this title, but I’m intrigued by the comparison to Westworld and The Handmaid’s Tale.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

Publisher’s Book Description:

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.

And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Karen’s Thoughts: This is another title on the list that I have not yet read, but in addition to being Afrofuturism it also falls solidly into the CliFi genre, which are books that talk about climate change. This is definitely on my TBR pile.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Publisher’s Book Description:

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

Karen’s Thoughts: I have long known about this book and it is my own personal failing that I have not yet read it. If you, like me, have been derelict in reading this important and seminal author then you should join me in correcting that right away. It’s important to recognize reading gaps and make course corrections.

This was a huge knowledge gap for me and it may be for some TLT readers as well. I’m excited to have learned more so that I can do better, be better and better serve my patrons.

Tale as Old as Time: Fairy Tales, Mythology and Folktales Retold – a booklist for the 2020 SRP reading theme

In preparation for the upcoming summer reading program theme Imagine Your Story, I recently spent some time working on a comprehensive booklist of fairy tale, folktale and mythology retellings. I used as my starting point this great post from Epic Reads, the source of the graphic below. I had help from my friends and fellow librarians Rachel Strolle, who blogs at Rec it Rachel ,and Mary Hinson, who blogs at Mary Had a Little Book Blog. The original Epic Reads post appeared in 2014, so together the three of us worked to add new MG and YA titles posted since that date.

Image Source: Epic Reads

For the purposes of this post I looked at MG (Middle Grade) and YA (Young Adult) titles. This is probably not a complete list so if you have titles to add, please leave a comment and let us know what age group and category the title you are mentioning would fall under. Thank you!

Various Popular Series that Cover Multiple Fairy Tales

Disney’s Twisted Fairy Tales by Liz Braswell

  • Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid)
  • As Old as Time (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Once Upon a Dream (Sleeping Beauty)
  • A Whole New World (Aladdin)
  • Straight on ‘Til Morning (Peter Pan)

Disney Villain series by Serena Valentino

  • Fairest of All (Snow White)
  • The Beast Within (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Poor Unfortunate Soul (The Little Mermaid)
  • Mistress of Evil (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Mother Knows Best (Rapunzel)
  • The Odd Sisters

Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski (Middle Grade)

  • Fairest of All (Snow White)
  • If the Shoe Fits (Cinderella)
  • Sink or Swim
  • Dream On
  • Bad Hair Day
  • Cold as Ice
  • Beauty Queen
  • Once Upon a Frog
  • Genie in a Bottle
  • Sugar and Spice
  • Two Peas in a Pod
  • Seeing Red
  • Spill the Beans

The Grimm Series by Adam Gidwitz (Middle Grade)

  • A Tale Dark and Grimm
  • In a Glass Grimmly
  • The Grimm Conclusion

Descendants by Melissa De La Cruz* (Middle Grade)

  • The Islde of the Lost
  • Return to the Isle of the Lost
  • Rise of the Isle of the Lost
  • Escape from the Isle of the Lost

The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson (Middle Grade)

  • Disney After Dark
  • Disney at Dawn
  • Disney in Shadow
  • Power Play
  • Shell Game
  • Dark Passage
  • The Insider

Various Fairytale Retellings and Series by Fairy Tale

Aladdin

  • The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury – Aladdin

Beauty & the Beast

  • East by Edith Pattou
  • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
  • Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
  • Spirited by Nancy Holder
  • Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
  • The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison
  • Stung by Bethany Wiggins
  • The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle
  • Beastly by Alex Flinn
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Beast by Brie Spangler
  • A Cruse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon (this book comes out in 2020)
  • Everlost (The Skinjacker series) by Neal Shusterman
  • Beastkeeper by Cat Hellison
  • Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin) by Robin LaFevers
  • Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
  • Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston
  • Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston
  • The Queen’s Council by Emma Theriault

Cinderella

The Frog Prince (The Princess and the Frog)

Goose Girl

  • Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith
  • Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Hansel and Gretel

The Little Mermaid

Little Red Riding Hood

Rapunzel

Rumpelstiltskin

  • A Curse As Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
  • Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Rump by Leisl Shurtliff (MG)
  • The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn
  • The Wishgranter (Ravenspire #2) by C. J. Redwine

Sleeping Beauty

The Snow Queen

  • Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce
  • Winter’s Child by Cameron Dokey
  • Stork by Wendy Delsol
  • The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine
  • Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (MG)
  • The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
  • The Snow Queen series by K. M. Shea
  • Stealing Snow by Daniella Page

Snow White

Snow White and Rose Red

  • Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Circuse Rose by Betsy Cornwell

 Twelve Dancing Princesses

Other Series related to Fairy Tales or Fairy Tale Like

  • Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris (MG)
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (MG)
  • Hamster Princess by Ursula Vernon (MG)
  • Septimus Heap by Angie Sage (MG)
  • Twice Upon a Time by Wendy Mass (MG)
  • Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke (MG)
  • The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer (MG)
  • The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (MG, not recommended by several people for the way it discusses body image and racism)
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdeah – 1,001 Nights
  • Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh – Shahrazad story
  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – Grimm’s Fairy Tale (MG)
  • The Princess and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (graphic novel)
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – General fairy tale themes
  • The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (MG)
  • The Ever Afters series by Shelby Bach (MG)
  • Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu (this book comes out in 2020)

Books about Fairies in General

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
  • The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
  • Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr
  • Need series by Carrie Jones
  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
  • The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
  • Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins
  • The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
  • The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black
  • Mirrorworld series by Cornelia Funke
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles by Ton DiTerlizzi (MG)
  • Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull
  • Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith
  • The Faerie Path series by Allan Frewin Jones
  • Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paoini
  • The Falconer series by Elizabeth May

Books about Dragons

  • Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle) by Christopher Paolini
  • Seraphina by Rachel Harman
  • Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
  • Firelight by Sophie Jordan
  • Talon by Julie Kagawa
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Scorched by Mari Mancusi
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris d’Lacey
  • Fallen Isle series by Jodi Meadows
  • Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst
  • The Aurelian Cycle (Fireborne is book #1) by Rosaria Munda
  • Spark by Sarah Beth Durst (MG)
  • The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill (MG, GN)
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (MG)
  • Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells
  • Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Books about Mermaids in General

  • The Syrena Legacy (Of Poisedon is book #1) by Anna Banks
  • Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
  • Tempest by Tracy Deebs
  • Waterson by Amanda Hocking
  • The Siren by Kiera Cass
  • Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Waterfire Saga (Deep Blue is book #1) by Jennifer Donnelly
  • The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler (MG)
  • Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman
  • The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova
  • Undertow series by Michael Buckley
  • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
  • Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell

Books about Unicorns in General

  • The Unicorn Rescue Society by Adam Gidwitz
  • Beasts of Olympus: The Unicorn Emergency by Lucy Coats
  • The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko
  • Here There Be Unicorns by Jane Yolen
  • Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Rampant (Killer Unicorns) by Diana Peterfreund
  • Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville (MG)
  • Mirrorworld series by Cornelia Funke
  • The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horowitz (MG)
  • Zombies vs. Unicorns

Classic Literature and Folktale Retellings

Alice in Wonderland

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

  • East by Edith Pattou
  • Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Mulan

  • Reflection by Elizabeth Lim – Mulan
  • Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1)  by Elizabeth Lim (Mulan)
  • The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas

Peter Pan

The Prince and the Pauper

  • Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Robin Hood

  • Hood by Jenny Elder Moke (this book comes out in 2020)
  • Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Other Classic Lit Retellings

  • Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige –– Retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  • The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins –– Retelling of The Singing Bone by the Brothers Grimm

Folktale Retellings

  • Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste – Haitian folktale “the Magic Orange Tree” (MG)
  • Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Mexican folklore, 2020 publication date)

MG and YA Retellings: MYTHOLOGY

African Mythology Retellings

  • Zorah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  • Children of Blood and Boneod and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (African gods) (MG)

Asian Mythology Retellings

  • Eon by Alison Goodman
  • Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  • Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
  • The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee (The Monkey King)
  • The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas
  • A Thousand Beginning and Endings short story collection edited by Ellen Oh
  • The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Egyptian Mythology Retellings

Norse Mythology Retellings

Greek / Roman Mythology Retellings

Hades and Persephone Retellings

Cupid / Psyche Myth Retellings

  • Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block
  • Destined by Jessie Harrell
  • Lovestruck by Kate Watson
  • Only Everything (True Love #1) by Kerian Scott
  • Cupidity by Caroline Goode
  • Thwonk by Joan Bauer

Helen of Troy Retellings

Rick Riordan Books

Percy Jackson & the Olympians

  1. The Lightning Thief (2005)
  2. The Sea of Monsters (2006)
  3. The Titan’s Curse (2007)
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth (2008)
  5. The Last Olympian (2009)

The Heroes of Olympus

  1. The Lost Hero (2010)
  2. The Son of Neptune (2011)
  3. The Mark of Athena (2012)
  4. The House of Hades (2013)
  5. The Blood of Olympus (2014)

Rick Riordan Presents

  • Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
  • The Storm Runner by J. C. Cervantes (Mayan gods)
  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (Fox spirit)
  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez (Cuban science fiction)
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (African gods)
  • Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Navajo gods, not recommended by Dr. Debbie Reese)

As I mentioned above, although we put a lot of time and effort into researching this list, I’m sure we are missing titles and if you would like to add to the list please feel free to do so in the comments. Also, if you find any books that may be in the wrong category or that should not be on this list for one reason or the other, please let me know in the comments. You’ll note that there are a few titles on the list that have a note that they are not recommended, I chose to include this note rather then just leave the titles off of the list so that those who may not be aware of the concerns may investigate those concerns.

The Billie Eilish Readalike Playlist

Billie Eilish has been popular in my house for a while now, probably since first hearing the song Lovely back in 2018. My favorite Billie Eilish song is “You Should See Me in a Crown”, while Thing 2 seems particularly fond of “Bad Guy”. So the other day, as I watched a group of pre-teen and teen girls choreograph a dance to a Billie Eilish song, I had a moment of inspiration: I wonder if I could create a reading RA list based on Billie Eilish songs. So I sat down and started researching her various songs and what they meant. It turns out, there are websites that help you do this.

I then started getting serious about this project. I even turned it into an RA sheet for my work. So what follows is a list of a variety of YA books based on theme and song that teens may enjoy reading if they like the music of Billie Eilish. This was a fun list to create, and it is by no means complete. It only touches on a few of her songs and even on those songs there are a lot more books we could add. So if you have some titles you would like to add, please feel free to do so.

Books About Toxic Relationships

“Bad Guy”, “When the Party’s Over” and several other Billie Eilish songs are about toxic relationships, both romantic and friendships. So here are a few YA books about toxic relationships that your teens may be interested in reading.

You Should See Me in a Crown

“You Should See Me in a Crown” is inspired by the BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch. In it Andrew Scott, also known as the Hot Priest from Fleabag, plays Moriarty, Sherlock’s arch-nemesis. At one point he proclaims, “you should see me in a crown.” The rest is history. The series is a lot of fun and was extremely popular, I even had a very successful Sherlock party at the time. So here are a bunch of Sherlock retellings or books that are Sherlock Holmes like that teen readers will find interesting.

Books About Mental Health and Depression

One of Billie Eilish’s early hits was a song called “lovely” that she sings with Khalid. It’s a very melancholy song about mental health and depression and it appears on the soundtrack for the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. The title began kind of as a kind of sarcastic nod to how depressing the song is. While listening to it someone said, “oh how lovely” and the rest, as they say, is history. Here a few YA books about mental health and depression that your teens may like.

Dark Books about Dark People doing Dark Things

“Belly Ache” and “Bad Guy” are told from the point of view of monsters, whether that means psychopaths or literal monsters depends on the song. Billie Eilish has stated in many interviews that she likes to write songs that tell the story from the point of view from the monster under your bed. Here are several YA books that are about psychopaths and monsters.

Climate Change

Billie Eilish is an advocate for knowing and working to fix climate change. The topic of climate change appears in her most recent video “All the Good Girls Go to Hell”. Here are a few YA fiction titles on climate change that teens may be interested in reading. If you are Googling for additional titles, you may want to also search under the term “cli-fi”, which is a shortened version of climate change.

Basically Dark, Twisted and Kind of Awesome

If you had to describe Billie Eilish’s aesthetic, you might say she is basically dark, twisted and a lot of fun. So here are a bunch of YA books that are basically dark, twisted and a lot of fun. I like to think that Billie Eilish would like these books and recommend them to her fans.

A Brief Discussion of What It’s Like to Be a “Military Brat” in Youth Literature

I grew up in, on and around military bases. I was, as the saying goes, a military brat. What this means is that I grew up with family members who were in or worked for the military. My Dad was in the Air Force and my Mom worked for AAFES, which is a civilian organization that works with the military to staff the various places on bases where military personnel buy their groceries and such.

What it means in real life is that I moved every 2 or 3 years. By the time I graduated high school I had lived in 2 countries, 4 states, and attended 9 different schools. As a grown up, I haven’t really thought a lot about growing up as a military kid, except when I’m on Facebook and I see all my friends posting about elementary school friends and I remember that military life gave me some gifts but robbed me of others. Sometimes that romanticism of childhood friendship in youth literature burns with the force of a 1,000 suns.

However, I now work at a library that is incredibly close to one of the military bases that I grew up on. In fact, it’s where I lived when I was in the 9th and 10th grade, a teenager myself. The base is still there, though changed some and renamed. For the first time in my professional life, I know that statistically a portion of the kids who walk into my library are probably there because their parents were stationed in the area.

On Monday, I started listening to the book Fish in a Tree by because it is about a young girl with dyslexia and I am raising a child with dyslexia. But I was struck by another element of the story: Ally is the child of a military father and she talks about having to move a lot. This is a theme that doesn’t come up very often in youth literature, despite the fact that we as a nation invest more money than other nations our size in our military and we have been engaged in more than 3 wars since 9/11. So while we thank soldiers for their service on a daily basis, we often ignore the fact that they have kids in our literature.

The first time I really noticed an authentic discussion about what it’s like to grow up in a military family was when I read the historical fiction book If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth. The second time was while reading the contemporary title Beneath the Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles. Both of these also talked in depth about what it’s like to move frequently. And Cowles talks specifically about what it’s like to be on a military base, including visiting some of the unique shops that you can find on a military base. And the brilliant The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson invites us into the life of a teen girl who is living with a parent haunted by PTSD.

There is a lot of historical fiction about soldiers, but there is a real under representation of military kids in youth literature, especially when you consider that there are 1.2 million kids of military families in the United States. In addition, more than 2 million children have experienced a parent being actively deployed since 2001. There are more interesting facts about military children here. A brief glance of current offerings indicate that the topic is better represented in younger literature.

Looking around online I found several book lists of interest:

10 Great Picture Books for Military Families

Operation Here We Are: Children’s Books about Military Life

Operation Here We Are: Books for Kids with Deployed Family Members

Goodreads has a list of 59 YA books that contain military themes, although several books on this list are about having a sibling in the military or going into the military yourself, which is not necessarily the same as growing up as a child with military parents.

Even if you don’t live or work near a military base, you may have military kids in your classroom or life, because at some point our parents get out of the military. So please take a little bit of time to read what it’s like to be the child of a person in the military and share those stories with the young people in your life who aren’t. It’s not just the individual in the military that serves, entire families are impacted by military service, in small and big ways.

Educator’s Guide to the Military Child During Deployment

It’s weird to me now, sometimes, when I look at my kids and realize that they have no idea what it’s like to be a military kid. I’ve worked hard to try and make sure that we have moved as little as possible for my children because it personally affected me quite profoundly. Both of my girls have been on a military base once or twice as a baby, but they haven’t been for years and have no recollection of it. They have no real knowledge or understanding of how different my life was from theirs because we are no longer a military family. Well, not directly. They know that their grandparents served and we’ve talked some about what that means, but they’re life is very different than mine, which has its positive and negatives. But my hope is that they will one day have people in their lives who have known them since they were little who aren’t related to them by blood.

Do you have some books to add to our recommended reading list on books that feature children in military families? Please share with us in the comments.

Take 5: YA Lit for Teens That Love to Bake

Recently, The Teen developed a love of baking. I’m all for it because I get to eat a lot of yummy treats. And wanting to be a supportive mom but also being a librarian, I’ve put together a goody bag of YA literature that features teens that bake, which you can find below.

The Teen baked shark cookies for Shark Week

I asked for recommendations on Twitter, and you can find the entire conversation here: https://twitter.com/TLT16/status/1165658378460434432. There are a lot of mouth watering reads to be found.

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

A novel full of heart, humor, and charm from Newbery Honor winner Joan Bauer!

When twelve-year-old Foster and her mother land in the tiny town of Culpepper, they don’t know what to expect. But folks quickly warm to the woman with the great voice and the girl who can bake like nobody’s business. Soon Foster – who dreams of having her own cooking show one day – lands herself a gig baking for the local coffee shop, and gets herself some much-needed help in overcoming her biggest challenge – learning to read . . . just as Foster and Mama start to feel at ease, their past catches up to them. Thanks to the folks in Culpepper, though Foster and her mama find the strength to put their troubles behind them for good.

Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu

Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!

Y’all… I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acedvedo

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life? 

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she’s decorating a cake. Unfortunately, everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable.

But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems—only her dad’s about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed.

If you have any YA reads that feature teens that like to cook or bake, please leave a comment below and let us know about the title you recommend.