July 27, 2017

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SLJ’s Guide to Pride: 20 Titles Spotlighting LGBTQA+ Experience

Though LGBTQA+ Pride Month is almost over, these great resources are perfect all year round! Below are 18 YA fiction titles featuring LGBTQA+ protagonists who fall for mermaids, join NASA, process lost love, try to save the world, and much more. In addition, two nonfiction favorites provide a solid introduction to queer history for tweens and teens. Lastly, a collection of SLJ articles highlight previous LGBTQA+ collections, showcase author interviews, and offer meaningful ways to create safe, inclusive library spaces for readers seeking LGBTQA+ material.

FICTION

redstarCOLBERT, Brandy. Little & Lion. 336p. Little, Brown. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316349000.

Gr 10 Up–Suzette has been devoted to Lionel from an early age, and vice versa. At first glance, they don’t look like siblings—a black girl and white boy barely a year apart in age—but their blended family is closely knit. At her parents’ insistence, Suzette has been away at boarding school since Lionel’s mental health began to deteriorate and he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Now she’s back in L.A. for the summer, and she finds more complications waiting. Suzette is dealing with the aftermath of a secret relationship with her roommate at school, new feelings for her childhood friend Emil, and an attraction to the same girl her brother likes, and the secrets Lionel wants her to keep are the last thing she needs. Intersectional and honest, this book covers topics of mental health, sexuality, and family without sugarcoating or melodrama. The supporting characters are just as vivid as the leads, with full personalities and backgrounds of their own (for instance, Emil is black and Korean and wears hearing aids) that are never a cheap plot point. Suzette is a sympathetic and flawed character, struggling to overcome her own fears to do right by the people she cares about. VERDICT A moving, diverse exploration of the challenges of growing up and the complicated nature of loyalty. Recommended for all YA collections.–Amy Diegelman, formerly at Vineyard Haven Public Library, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

DEOUL, Stefani. On a LARP. 164p. Bywater. Apr. 2017. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781612940953.

Gr 7 Up–On a class trip to a police station, Sidonie Rubin offers key insight into a murder case when she notices the victim in a crime scene photo looks like she was participating in a live action role-playing game, or LARP. When Det. Emma Macdonald asks for assistance, Sid can’t resist and recruits her eclectic group of friends to help. While keeping up with school activities, the teens use their tech skills to search the victim’s computer. They work to figure out the LARP connection and come up with plans to infiltrate the next LARP to find the killer. Taking place in New York City, the novel kicks off with Sid seemingly plummeting to her death, but it takes the time to catch readers up on how she got to that point. While the protagonist questions the group’s involvement with the murder investigation, her faith in her own brilliance guarantees that she won’t stop solving mysteries and that more adventures are on the way. The book is full of tech and nerd talk, but Sid and friends translate for those in need of an explanation. Sprinkled throughout are also contemporary YA novel concerns, such as Sid’s crushes on various girls. Teens may be baffled by 1980s references in a work of modern-day realistic fiction, but these instances won’t distract them from the overall plot. Deoul has put together a fast-paced narrative that doesn’t slow down until the story wraps up and the opening scene is finally explained. VERDICT An exciting mystery adventure for reluctant readers and a great selection for teens who enjoy contemporary fiction.–Rebecca Greer, Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, FL

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.

EMBER, Julia. The Seafarer’s Kiss. 224p. Interlude/Duet. May 2017. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781945053207.

Gr 8 Up–A flawed but unique mermaid romance for young adults. Ersel, a teenage Nordic mermaid, strives to escape the patriarchal system that values her only as a breeder. She is enamored with all things human and falls in love with a shipwrecked human girl. Ersel makes a deal with Loki, the trickster god, to collect a mermaid voice for him in exchange for legs. She obtains the voice, and Loki grants her wish. However, instead of giving Ersel two legs, he transforms her fins into eight tentacles. Ersel must outsmart the god to achieve her dreams. Readers will likely compare this tale to Disney’s The Little Mermaid and will be pleased with the parallels. The unique elements—the steamy same-sex romance and the interweaving of Norse mythology—give this story a lift. Unfortunately the writing is clumsy at times. VERDICT A good addition to YA retelling shelves.–Elaine Fultz, Madison Jr. Sr. High School, Middletown, OH

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.

redstarGIRARD, M-E. Girl Mans Up. 384p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062404176.

Gr 9 Up–The expression man up refers to many things. It suggests that “real men” take responsibility for their actions. Real men act bravely in the face of adversity. For Pen (short for Penelope), 16, it is a little more complicated than that. She has a difficult time knowing how to man up when she cannot even classify her own gender identity. For her, the LGBTQ lexicon carries too much cultural baggage and too many expectations. Pen does not want to define herself too closely, especially when everything in her world seems to be crashing down around her. Her best friend Colby has recently become a terrible bully, her parents are more and more unsupportive, and her older brother has been kicked out of the house. On a positive note, her crush, Blake, has taken an interest in her. Pen tries to navigate all of this, while still figuring out who that person is staring back at her from the mirror. This is a fresh title in the growing sea of LGBTQ YA literature. Pen and her peers are neither quirky nor whimsical. They cuss, drink, smoke pot, hook up, and get into fights. There is no sugarcoating in this very real portrayal of an aspect of teen life that many experience. VERDICT Recommended for fans of YA urban fiction as well as those who prefer grittier LGBTQ lit.–Jaclyn Anderson, Madison County Library System, MS

This review was published in the School Library Journal July 2016 issue.

redstarKAPLAN, A.E. Grendel’s Guide to Love and War. 320p. ebook available. Knopf. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399555541.

Gr 8 Up–When the Rothgars move in next door, high schooler Tom Grendel’s summer takes a turn into uncharted territory that proves often terrible, definitely weird, and occasionally wonderful beyond words. He has struggled with the death of his mother and his father’s post-traumatic stress disorder for years; the appearance of the Rothgars, anti–manic pixie dream girl Willow, and inveterate bullies Rex and Wolf in particular push him to more deeply confront love, loss, and what it means to claim one’s self. A well-crafted cast of characters and (mostly) winning humor help carry a narrative that never shies away from a nuanced portrayal of the pains and joys of adolescence and of the ability to find strength in embracing life’s absurdity. Kaplan cleverly sprinkles elements from the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf throughout, adding a layer that attentive readers might appreciate. The allusions never run too deep, however, and those unfamiliar with the classic work won’t miss much. VERDICT An outstanding YA novel balancing comedy with substantial themes of love, death, and healing.–Ted McCoy, Leeds Elementary and Ryan Road Elementary, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2017 issue.

KARCZ, Lauren. The Gallery of Unfinished Girls. 352p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jul. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062467775.

Gr 8 Up–Mercedes Moreno is an award-winning artist. But she’s in a bit of a slump and is going through a lot. Mercedes’s mom just rushed to Puerto Rico to be with her comatose mother, leaving the high school senior to take care of her 14-year-old sister, Angela. Complicating matters further, Mercedes is in love with her best friend Victoria and everyone seems to know it except for Victoria. A week later, a piano appears on Mercedes’s front lawn. Angela falls in love and starts to play all the time. Shortly after the piano shows up, so does a new neighbor named Lilia, and she’s a painter like Mercedes. Lilia soon becomes a part of the Moreno sisters’ lives. She helps Angela, who might be a savant, on the piano. Lilia also invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estates. It’s here that Mercedes finds clarity, begins to create, and feels inspired again. As her life continues to weigh on her, Mercedes spends more and more time at the estates and soon realizes she can’t handle living two lives: one inside the estates and another outside of them. This is a great title that tackles death, love, creativity, growing up, and moving on. There are no tidy endings here, but that just makes this book that is sprinkled with some magical realism more relatable. It’s a good read for fans of Natalie Standiford’s How To Say Goodbye in RobotVERDICT A strong purchase for most libraries.–Faythe Arredondo, Tulare County Library, CA

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.

KENNEDY, Katie. What Goes Up. 336p. Bloomsbury. Jul. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619639126.

Gr 6-9–A refreshingly down-to-earth interplanetary adventure. The story follows a brief period in the lives of two extraordinary teens as they vie for an elite, exclusive spot in one of NASA’s most important, and secretive, programs. Only two applicants from across the nation will be selected, and the competition is fierce. Rosa is highly talented and has trained her whole life for this type of competition. Eddie is the ultimate misfit: a smart but unusual, “out of the box” thinker. Rosa and Eddie endure a series of grueling tests, and eventually both make Team 3, along with a third teen alternate. When they run into aliens from another dimension, things really start to get weird. Kennedy offers an excellent blend of believable teenage angst and well-explained physics and astronomy conundrums. The pace is blistering and will keep readers quickly turning pages, and the author uses humor to maintain a light and engaging tone throughout. The thought-provoking twists will make for interesting classroom discussions. VERDICT An original and funny adventure. Hand to teens who enjoy sci-fi with a twist.–Chad Lane, Tulip Grove Elementary School, MD

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2017 issue.

redstarKONIGSBERG, Bill. Honestly Ben. 336p. ebook available. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545858267.

Gr 9 Up–Ben Carver works hard trying to please his friends, his teammates, his teachers, and, most important, his father. Barely keeping up with his classwork, extracurricular activities, and friendships, Ben wonders if he does all of these things for himself or just to placate those around him. He grapples with staying true to himself, even if he isn’t sure who that self is yet. This follow-up to Openly Straight is told from Ben’s perspective as a scholarship student living among privileged classmates as well as a teen wrestling with the consequences of living by other people’s expectations. Well-rounded characters take readers from serious, thoughtful discussions to typical teen pranks with ease. A boarding school story along the lines of Andrew Smith’s Winger, this is equal parts serious and funny as it addresses homophobia, hazing rituals, and cheating while also delighting readers with a slice-of-life tale set at a private academy. VERDICT A first purchase for public libraries wishing to add diverse titles to their collection; give this to fans of Andrew Smith, Brent Hartinger, and John Knowles.–Jenni Frencham, Columbus Public Library, WI

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2017 issue.

redstarLACOUR, Nina. We Are Okay. 240p. Dutton. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525425892. POP

Gr 8 Up–Her first semester of college behind her, Marin stays alone in the dorms over break, even with the threat of a snowstorm looming, rather than return to San Francisco, where bad memories lurk. Her best friend Mabel comes to stay with her, and over the next few days, Marin contemplates the events of last spring and summer and deals with her complicated relationship with Mabel. Slowly, readers learn more about Marin’s life: the surfer mother who drowned when Marin was young, the father she never knew, the loving grandfather who raised her but whose concealed secrets kept a wall between them, and the painful events that sent Marin fleeing San Francisco. LaCour’s use of settings is masterly: frigid and desolate upstate New York reflects Marin’s alienation, while vibrant San Francisco evokes moments of joy. Though there’s little action, with most of the writing devoted to Marin’s memories, thoughts, and musings, the author’s nuanced and sensitive depiction of the protagonist’s complex and turbulent inner life makes for a rich narrative. Marin is a beautifully crafted character, and her voice is spot-on, conveying isolation, grief, and, eventually, hope. With hauntingly spare prose, the emphasis on the past, and references to gothic tales such as The Turn of the Screw and Jane Eyre, this is realistic fiction edged with the melancholy tinge of a ghost story. VERDICT A quietly moving, potent novel that will appeal to teens, especially fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal December 2016 issue.

redstarLEE, Mackenzi. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. 528p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062382801. POP

Gr 9 Up–A trio of high-born, determined, and wildly charismatic teenagers get more than they bargained for in this rollicking 18th-century Grand Tour of the Continent gone awry. Endearing rake Lord Henry Montague (or Monty) and his biracial best friend (and unrequited love), the infinitely patient Percy, leave England to drop Monty’s fiercely intelligent sister Felicity off at finishing school. The friends then spend a year traveling. After the Grand Tour, Monty will return home to help his demanding father run their estate and Percy will go to Holland to law school. If Monty’s dad catches wind of him still “mucking around with boys,” Monty will be cut off from the family. The trip is intended to be a cultural experience. However, no one could have predicted that one seemingly petty theft would set off an adventure involving highwaymen, stowaways, pirates, a sinking island, an alchemical heart, tomb-raiding, and a secret illness. From the start, readers will be drawn in by Monty’s charm, and Felicity and Percy come alive as the narrative unfolds. The fast-paced plot is complicated, but Lee’s masterly writing makes it all seem effortless. The journey forces Monty and friends to confront issues of racism, gender expectations, sexuality, disability, family, and independence, with Monty in particular learning to examine his many privileges. Their exploits bring to light the secret doubts, pains, and ambitions all three are hiding. This is a witty, romantic, and exceedingly smart look at discovering one’s place in the world. VERDICT A stunning powerhouse of a story for every collection.–Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Great River Regional Library, Saint Cloud, MN

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2017 issue.

MOLDAVSKY, Goldy. No Good Deed. 352p. Scholastic/Point. May. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545867511.

Gr 9 Up–Sixteen-year-old activist Gregor Maravilla is determined to make a difference in the world and is heading off to a summer camp in upstate New York—Camp Save the World—for teens just like him. He has high hopes that his chosen cause, Feed the Children, will catch the attention of billionaire philanthropist Robert Drill, the founder of the camp. Almost immediately upon arrival, however, Gregor discovers that camp will not be the idyllic experience he has dreamed of. The other campers are even more focused on being politically correct and having the most important world-saving cause than he is, and Gregor learns that Drill is not as involved in the camp as the teen expected. While the protagonist’s friendship with movie star Ashley develops, the relationships among the campers deteriorate because of a competition for the best cause. Campers are soon known only for their causes (diabetes, Styrofoam, children), and protesting becomes the sole activity they engage in. Pranks ensue and chaos reigns as Gregor and his fellow campers realize that there is no way to out-activist one another. The biting social satire and witty wordplay in this fast-moving story will engage any socially aware teen but may leave less savvy readers lost in the intended humor. VERDICT A strong purchase for large high school library collections and recommended reading for fans of Moldavsky’s Kill the Boy Band.–Kate Olson, Bangor School District, WI

This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2017 issue.

redstarORMSBEE, Kathryn. Tash Hearts Tolstoy. 384p. S. & S. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781481489331.

Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old Kentucky filmmaker and Tolstoy superfan Tash Zelenka’s summer takes an unexpected turn when her web series, Unhappy Families (a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina) goes viral. The newfound fame causes tension between Tash and her best friend Jack, who also works on the series. Tash is easily caught up in the increased social media attention, her fans’ expectations, and the criticisms. She is also grappling with her complicated relationship with her sister, Klaudie, who drops out of acting in the series to more fully enjoy her last summer before college. Plus, Tash must deal with her flirtation with vlogger Thom, her confusing feelings for Paul (Jack’s brother and Tash’s other best friend), and her worries about the end of the series and her impending college applications. Tash is also beginning to come out to people as romantic asexual and needs to figure out how to share her identity with Thom, whom she will be meeting soon at the Golden Tuba independent web awards. Tash and her group of artsy theater friends are vibrant, creative, and thoughtful. They may not always totally understand one another, but their admirable and complicated friendships have so much heart. The much-needed asexual representation plays a significant role in the story, with readers privy to Tash’s thoughts on identity and conversations with friends about what the term means. VERDICT Funny, well written, and compulsively readable, this will especially appeal to readers with an interest in web series. A strong choice for YA shelves.–Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Great River Regional Library, Saint Cloud, MN

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

OSEMAN, Alice. Radio Silence. 496p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062335715.

Gr 9 Up–British teen Frances Janvier is a study machine, focused on doing whatever it takes to get into Cambridge. Her public persona is academic nerd, but in private, she is a rebel. Frances is a fan of offbeat podcasts, and her favorite by far is Universe City, whose agender main character (who is also the show’s creator) goes by the name of Radio Silence. Frances has joined a fandom Tumblr account, using the moniker Toulouse, and occasionally posts sketches that reflect how she thinks the characters and settings might look. When she receives a message from the creator asking if she is willing to provide graphics for the show, she can’t believe it. Frances is even more dumbfounded when she discovers that the mysterious Radio Silence is, in reality, Aled Last, who lives directly across the street from her. Likewise, Aled can’t believe that his graphic artist, Toulouse, is Frances. They become fast friends and spend the majority of the summer working together on the podcast. But as the start of Frances’s senior year in high school and Aled’s first year at university approach, a revelation changes their close relationship. With their friendship in ruins and Aled miles away and spiraling into a dangerous depression, Frances must face long-buried fears and desires to find a way to save him. Oseman is a master at combining sardonic wit with angst to create believable characters and a compelling contemporary story that will resonate with teens. VERDICT A top pick for any YA collection.–Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2017 issue.

PHILLIPS, L. Perfect Ten. 352p. Viking. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780425288115.

Gr 10 Up–High school senior Sam Raines is desperate for a relationship after two years without a date. He’s willing to do just about anything for true love, including participate in a Wiccan ceremony at his friend’s insistence. The problem is, it seems to work. When eligible boys begin coming out of the woodwork, Sam struggles to make sense of his sudden and seemingly endless set of options on his quest for love. Phillips gets off to a clunky and unpolished start, with prose that sometimes feels forced and characters who validate stereotypes even as they make efforts to combat them. The conversation also occasionally veers into vernacular that doesn’t quite feel genuine. However, once past the setup and initial mysticism, the story sheds these issues and finds its footing. Despite the fading presence of ambiguously supernatural elements throughout, this surprisingly tender rom-com explores relationships with an authenticity that’s full of heart and poetic splendor. The novel bravely examines some of the pitfalls of young love in a manner that neither makes Sam unlikable nor lets him off the hook for his behavior. His decisions and actions aren’t always admirable as he navigates his way through his mistakes and inexperience, yet they will be sure to elicit sympathy from those who have had their own misadventures in love. Realistic recreational drug use and nongraphic discussions of sex are included. VERDICT Once past the first few chapters, fans of Stephanie Perkins or David Levithan will discover much to love about this sweet confection of a tale.–Alea Perez, Westmont Public Library, IL

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.

RUSSO, Meredith. If I Was Your Girl. 272p. ebook available. Flatiron. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250078407. POP

Gr 9 Up–After a violent incident in her Atlanta suburb, Amanda moves to small-town Tennessee to make a new start with her estranged father. Finally living openly as her true self three years after she, then known as Andrew, attempted suicide, Amanda needs the safety and relative freedom of a fresh beginning. A new set of risks and opportunities open up to her as she makes friends with a group of girls harboring their own secrets, navigates a tense relationship with a father who is terrified of what the world will do to his child, and begins the first romance of her life. This is everything a coming-of-age novel should be—honest, complicated, and meaningful. Amanda navigates the teenage world with a cautious bravery that will grip readers by the heart. Russo, herself a transwoman from Tennessee, handles every issue in the story—from pot and promposals to hormones and support groups—with a deft hand, both gentle and honest. The result is a narrative that transcends the typical “issue” novel to be a beautiful tale in its own right. VERDICT A highly recommended purchase for any collection serving teens.–Amy Diegelman, Vineyard Haven Public Library, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2016 issue.

redstarSÁENZ, Benjamin Alire. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. 464p. ebook available. Clarion. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544586505. POP

Gr 9 Up–It is the first day of senior year, and Sal feels as if his life is exactly as it should be. He has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican American extended family. Sal’s best friend, Samantha, is almost like his sister. She really gets him, and more often than not, she finishes his sentences and knows exactly what he is thinking, even when he won’t admit it. Sal is an inward thinker who struggles with anger that has begun to boil just under the surface. After tragedy strikes Samantha’s life and leaves her reeling, Sal and his father take responsibility for her well-being and bring her into their family circle. At the same time, Sal befriends Fito, a streetwise teen trying to find his place in a world not of his own choosing. Sal and Samantha show Fito that his life has purpose, just as they discover the same about their own lives. Sal’s history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-changing events force him and Samantha to confront serious issues of faith, loss, and grief. The themes of love, social responsibility, death, and redemption are expertly intertwined with well-developed characters and a compelling story line. This complex, sensitive, and profoundly moving book is beautifully written and will stay with readers. VERDICT A must-purchase title, recommended for all school and public libraries.–Amy Caldera, Dripping Springs Middle School, TX

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2017 issue.

redstarSILVERA, Adam. History Is All You Left Me. 320p. ebook available. Soho Teen. Jan. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781616956929. POP

history-is-all-you-left-meGr 10 Up–No one understands what Griffin is going through after Theo, his ex and the love of his life, dies. No one, perhaps, except Theo’s new boyfriend, Jackson. In a narrative that alternates between past and present, Silvera offers a gem of a story about first love and great loss. Griffin’s voice is strong and affecting, and as readers come to know Theo’s history and the depth of Griffin’s love, the loss becomes more and more poignant. Griffin has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and while his illness is a sensitively portrayed and central part of his life, it is not the defining theme of the novel: his grief and loss are the focus. Griffin’s transformation as he moves from resentment and rage at Jackson to compassion and connection is profound to witness. But perhaps most memorable is the protagonist’s slow, dawning realization of Theo’s deep imperfections. It is so easy to idolize a first love, and even easier to idolize someone who has died. Griffin’s gradual awareness of Theo’s flaws is the true heart of this standout title. VERDICT With a cast of beautifully realized characters, a powerful narrative voice, and genuine portrayals of complex teen situations, this work is a must-have.–L. Lee Butler, Hart Middle School, Washington, DC

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2016 issue.

SUGIURA, Misa. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret. 400p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062473417.

Gr 9 Up–When high school junior Sana, who is Japanese American, moves from her lifelong home in Wisconsin to California, she can socialize for the first time with other Asian American teens. She arrives at her new school with a number of secrets, including her suspicion that her father has been cheating on her mother for years. Sana is also sure that she herself is a lesbian. And now she has a crush on Jamie, a whip-smart Latina classmate, and Sana has another secret that she’s sure she must conceal from her new crowd of friends. In addition, Sana also copes with her emotionally cold mother and faces racial profiling by a local cop when she’s with a group of Mexican American friends. Sugiura handles the story adroitly; readers will feel Sana’s onslaught of emotions, understand her missteps as she chooses dishonesty over opening herself to rebuke in several situations, and cheer for her strengthening capacity to own her identity, trust her friends, and see her parents’ relationship with empathy. Major and minor supporting characters of every age and both genders are just as credibly realized as Sana as her narration unfolds. VERDICT An essential and delightful choice that realistically celebrates a teen’s discovery of trust in herself and in others.–Francisca Goldsmith, Library Ronin, Worcester, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

NONFICTION

POHLEN, Jerome. Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights with 21 Activities. 192p. chron. filmog. further reading. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Chicago Review. Oct. 2015. pap. $17.95. ISBN 9781613730829.
Gr 5-8–Tackling everything from Sappho, the Daughters of Bilitis, and the Lavender Menace to Dan Savage, Gladys Bentley, and Ellen DeGeneres, this title offers a comprehensive view of LGBTQ history. While the topic is often framed through the lens of marriage rights, this book provides a multifaceted perspective, emphasizing gay and lesbian figures’ places in history. Readers learn that Louisa May Alcott, Maurice Sendak, Marlene Dietrich, Bayard Rustin, and Alan Turing were all members of the LGBTQ community, though many of them were not “out.” Readers also gain an understanding of the scope of LGBTQ erasure that has occurred from Pohlen’s discussion of how in Emily Dickinson’s love poems the words she and her were changed to he and her. While many have whitewashed LGBTQ history, Pohlen discusses two transgender individuals of color who were present at Stonewall (both were teens at the time), Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. In addition, Pohlen emphasizes that while the Stonewall Riots were an important turning point in American history, they were not the only time that the queer community has stood up for its rights. The text is upbeat, conversational, and often humorous in tone. Smattered with compelling photographs, biographical sidebars, and interactive activities (of varying quality), this vital and inclusive history fleshes out the LGBTQ education readers have long been denied, bringing it to light and giving it the attention it deserves. VERDICT A necessary purchase for collections that serve middle grade and teenage patrons.–Ingrid Abrams, The Town School, New York City

This review was published in the School Library Journal October 2015 issue.

PRAGER, Sarah. Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World. illus. by Zoë More O’Ferrall. 272p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. notes. websites. HarperCollins. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062474315. POP

Gr 7 Up–Short and straightforward profiles of queer figures throughout history, ranging from ancient and obscure to modern and well known. The people profiled represent a diverse set of ethnicities and gender and sexual identities, living up to the term queer in its full meaning. The historical background provided is very readable but cursory and occasionally inconsistently presented. Some profiles focus on the individuals’ queer identity, while others put the emphasis on their historical impact. For example, Joan of Arc’s military career is thoroughly explained while her preference for men’s clothes is only mentioned. The tone of the book is positive and lighthearted despite the many unhappy endings but at times can come across as glib (“The relationship between queer people and the Catholic church was…um, strained during Father Mike’s life, to say the least”). With the exception of a few references to sexual acts, the content is appropriate for a wide range of ages, particularly if the book is used in a guided or teaching context. Each chapter opens with a graphic novel–like line portrait of the subject by O’Ferrall. Overall, the title distinguishes itself from materials that take a traditional approach to history that often ignores or omits mention of sexual or gender identity. VERDICT An enjoyable and accessible, if inconsistent, introduction to an important side of history. Public and school libraries will strongly want to consider, both for re-creation and education.–Amy Diegelman, formerly at Vineyard Haven Public Library, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.

Articles and interviews

SLJ interviews with debut authors of outstanding queer lit:

SLJ‘s interview with Queer, There, and Everywhere author and Quist LGBTQ history app developer Sarah Prager.

SLJ‘s interview with If I Was Your Girl author Meredith Russo.

SLJ reports and guides on creating more LGTBQ-inclusive spaces for teens:

LGBTQ & You: How to Support Your Students.

Help LGTBQ students feel safe in their college journey with LGBTQ and College Bound | College Ready.

Bullying is on the rise, according to a 2016 survey by the Human Rights Campaign. Here is SLJ’s report on ways to make their libraries a safer space.

Interviews with authors of important LGBTQ nonfiction:

SLJ‘s Q&A with Jazz Jennings about her memoir Being Jazz.

Beyond Magenta author Susan Kuklin spoke with SLJ about her book on transgender teens.

SLJ‘s Curriculum Connections Q&A with Stonewall author Ann Bausum.

LGBTQ Collection Development:

Enhance your collection with some slightly older recommended reads, from SLJ‘s Spotlight on LGBTQ in Genre Fiction.

A comprehensive resource list of print and online sources from LGBTQ Lit: Speaking Out Focus On.

Extra Helping‘s Just Another Day in an LGBTQ Comic explores the benefits of lighter fare for readers of all ages.

 

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SLJTeen Live! Virtual Conference
Join us on August 9 for SLJTeen Live! This free, entirely virtual conference will feature more than 20 YA author panelists and keynote speakers, plus two hours of panels on innovative and creative approaches to teen services and programming. No teen librarian will want to miss it.
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