Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Influenced by Influencers, a guest post by Jessica Patrick

I have a five-year-old son, and, without even knowing how it happened, the two of us found ourselves down the wormhole of child toy influencers on YouTube. These kids get filmed by their parents opening and playing with toys – new toys every episode, always opening, opening, opening. Always holding the box up to the camera, brand logo clearly displayed. Although my son enjoyed these videos, something about them always made me wildly uncomfortable – something about the parents exploiting these children, making money off their youthful love of play. Then one day I googled a particular channel that kept popping up on my son’s little kid algorithm and saw this toy-opening child, and his parents, made $29 million in 2020.

Yikes.

These videos are now banned in our house. I just can’t.

But even with these toy videos outlawed, I can’t get away from this influencer culture entirely. It’s everywhere! In addition to being an author, I’m also a high school librarian, and everywhere I look, I see how much and how thoroughly my own students are, well, influenced by these influencers.

I knew things were serious when I started to hear answers like Soundcloud rapper, YouTuber, and sponsored Instagrammer to the old “what do you want to be when you grow up” question. And, honestly, who can blame these high school kids for having dreams like this? When there are eight-year-olds making millions on millions of dollars per year for playing with toys on camera vs adults sitting at a desk for eight hours a day making barely above minimum wage…which life looks more aspirational? I’d want in on that action, too.

I found myself coming back to the idea of social media influencers a lot, so, even though the standard suggestion is to avoid too much pop culture in your writing to keep your books timeless, I decided to explore a little bit of influencer culture in my latest YA novel This Is For Tonight.

This Is For Tonight takes place over a weekend at a music festival, and it features rival YouTubers, Andi and Jay, competing in a corporate-sponsored contest for social media influencers to win an interview with the festival’s headlining band.

Andi has a YouTube channel all about crafting because it’s her passion and she loves sharing it. Her channel is a small one, with a handful of followers, but they are a true community. Andi is proud of the content she creates, even though it isn’t getting her a wide audience or making her money.

She has an opportunity to make more money off of her channel, but it involves completely abandoning what she loves and changing herself.

Does she want to do that? Is the money worth it? Why is she doing any of this in the first place?

Jay is a very popular YouTuber who runs a prank channel. In his videos he tricks people and laughs at them for clicks and ad revenue – and business is very good. His most popular video is one where he makes his own grandmother think he’s been hit by a car, and he has also been filmed smashing someone’s phone, stealing someone’s dog, and pushing someone into a small lake.

As we get to know Jay, however, we learn that his online personality is mostly an act, that it’s just a role he plays for the camera because he knows people love it and it will make him money.

How responsible is he for the content he puts out in the world…especially if he profits from it? Is there a difference between curating a personality for the internet and an actor playing a role on TV or in a movie?

I thought these were such interesting questions – ones that I kept coming back to as I watched the fifteenth YouTube video of a kid getting excited over a corporately sponsored new toy (and then hearing my own kid ask me to buy him this toy) or scrolling through my own Instagram feed to find picture after heavily-filtered picture of a Z-list celeb trying to sell Tummy Tea (and then having that flash of feeling bad about my own body, despite knowing that what I’m looking at isn’t even real). And I especially mulled over it all as I had one of my own Instagram posts (about state testing, of all things) unexpectedly go viral.

I don’t know the answers. And I don’t know that our influencer-obsessed culture will be able to agree on answers, anyway. But I certainly enjoy being part of the conversation…as long as I don’t have to watch another toy video ever again.

Meet the author

Jessica Patrick runs a high school library by day, writes YA romance by night, and pets as many dogs as possible in between. She lives in Southern California with her cute family and she has an MFA from Spalding University, an annual passport to Disneyland, and about 75 tabs open on her internet browser. She is the author of This Is For Tonight.

She has also writes as Jessica Love and is the author of In Real Life and Push Girl.

Website: http://www.jessica-patrick.com

Twitter: @readwritejess 

Instagram: @readwritejess

About This Is For Tonight

When Andi attends a music festival with one goal in mind – capture an interview with a famous band so she can pay for college – she gets more than she bargained for in this YA novel about family ties and finding your own way.

Andi Kennedy needs to make money for college, and fast. But her little YouTube crafting channel, while fun, isn’t exactly a money maker. So she’s heading to the world-famous Cabazon Valley Music and Arts Festival with a goal – film a video that will launch her channel into popularity and turn it into a legit money making venture, even if it means selling out her creative vision.

Instead, she finds obnoxious Jay Bankar, the annoyingly hot host of a popular prank channel who is the actual worst. Andi hates everything Jay stands for, which makes the undeniable connection she feels with him really freaking inconvenient. Soon she finds herself competing with Jay for an interview with the festival’s headlining band, which could be the key to turning her little channel directly into college tuition. But she’s starting to discover that there is more to Jay than his jerky on-screen persona, and she has to decide what’s more important – winning, or giving a second chance to a guy who couldn’t be more wrong for her. 

ISBN-13: 9781250757159
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: 05/04/2021
Age Range: 13 – 18 Years

Book Review: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Publisher’s description

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Amanda’s thoughts

Sometimes the thing that I just really want to say about a book is “this was really enjoyable and cute.” Guess what? This book was really enjoyable and cute. The summary up there covers all the highlights and plot twists, but does nothing to capture just how much FUN this story was. The layers of their relationship really made the story—their Twitter battle, their chatting on the Weazel app, their real-life interactions, and the many little twists and turns that happen in all of those ways of communicating. Pretty much my favorite form of people falling for one another is via sarcastic banter. Pepper and Jack nail this—and they also do honesty and vulnerability pretty well, too.

That’s it. That’s the review. This was a really fun, cute, sweet story that was exactly what I was looking to read in one afternoon while curled up on the couch with the dogs. I tend to gravitate toward more serious YA, or YA featuring underrepresented identities and voices. But sometimes, I just want something light, and this rom-com totally hit the mark. It’s not often I keep my reviews this short, but honestly, the plot is totally summarized in the publisher’s description and I just wanted to share that this book was enjoyable and just what I needed. Good fun.

ISBN-13: 9781250237323
Publisher: St. Martin”s Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/21/2020

DIY Stop Motion Book Trailers Using Giffer

My library recently put out a call asking for staff to help promote our most circulated titles for 2019 in several categories. Seeing as how I have a deep love and devotion to YA literature, I quickly put together stop motion mini-book trailers for our top 5 circulating titles for 2019. As my library shared them I retweeted them and a lot of people contacted me to ask me how I made them and the answer is: Giffer.

The Giffer app allows you to make quick and easy Gifs which you can share on social media. You can get the Giffer Pro version for $2.99 in the App store, which is the version that I have. It does most of the work for you and it’s pretty quick and easy to learn and use. I have used it several times to make short promo pieces, Lego mini-movies, and more. I’ve tried several different options and this is my go-to app because of how quick and easy it is to use.

To make my little movies I used three things: a pad of Post It notes, a Sharpie, and my cell phone.

I looked up some of my favorite quotes from each title and wrote them on their own Post It. I then took a photo of each quote and saved it. I also took a photo of the book, which I pulled from our collection. There were a couple of titles that were checked out so I printed off a copy of the cover and used that photo.

Then I found a picture I wanted to draw for each title. For Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, I drew a turtle. I looked up how to draw a simple turtle and went through each step, taking a new photo each step of the process. It looked something like this.

For The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas I wanted to draw a rose growing up out of the concrete, as quoted in the book. It looked something like this.

After taking my photos, I uploaded them into Giffer. Giffer allows you to rearrange the order, slow down or speed up the timing, etc. You then just publish your Gif and it gives you a sharing link.

Here’s my Turtles All the Way Down by John Green stop motion promo thingy: https://giffer.co/g/xoDDzlfc.gif

And here it is tiled and filling the entire screen: https://giffer.co/g/xoDDzlfc/tiled

And here’s my The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas stop motion promo thingy: https://giffer.co/g/ZgAssZer

The sharing link gives you an option to download the Gif when you select the three dots on the right hand side of the screen. Downloading the Gif allows you to share it on social media or in a post like this so that it’s right there and your viewers don’t have to click to a separate page.

I’m obviously no artist but I like to think that it’s part of the charm. I made 5 Gifs in around 10 minutes. It cost me absolutely nothing because I already owned the app and I had fun posts to share with our readers on social media withing a half hour of being asked to help with this promotion.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to promote books, I’m a fan.