School Library Journal The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Sun, 23 Nov 2014 01:31:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tennessee School District’s Tech Policy Blocks Students’ Constitutional Rights, ACLU Says Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:56:22 +0000 Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate.’” “My daughter shouldn’t have to trade away her rights to free speech and privacy just to get a quality education,” Pomerantz states in an ACLU media release. Jamie Williams, Frank Stanton legal fellow at the EFF, told SLJ that while the WCS policy is “well intentioned and designed to see to student safety and network security,” in the end it “opens doors to abuse of rules.” In comparison, the Metro Nashville Public Schools’ policy on BYOT items clearly outlines when and why technology could be confiscated and the steps for students and parents to follow if an infraction occurs. WCS’s acceptable use policy  also grants the school the option to install of a mobile device management client “for the purpose of managing the device while on the WCS network.” Castelli’s letter to the WCS board notes that the policy “permits a search of any BYOT device…whether or not the interest underlying the search is important or compelling. The policy also places no limits on the type of data that can be extracted from the device during the search or how the data can be used.”  He concludes that there is potential for “arbitrary and abusive” use of these searches. WCS policy rules about social networking among students on and off campus also concerns Pomerantz. “Students participating in any social media site are not permitted to post photographs of other students or WCS employees without permission from a teacher of administrator,” according to the WCS policy, which adds, “Personal social media use, including use outside the school day, has the potential to result in disruption to the classroom.  Students are subject to consequences for inappropriate, unauthorized, and illegal use of social media.” “[T]he policy’s social media guidelines impermissibly restrict students’ constitutionally protected off-campus speech,” according to an EFF article about the WCS policy by Williams and EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo. Williams points out that students must sign off on all aspects of the district’s tech policy in order to participate in school activities on school computers, WCS is “[f]orcing students to use school equipment to participate in school functions means forcing them to give up their rights.” In his letter to Looney and the WCS board, Castelli wrote that “denial of participation in WCS’s computer and Internet program does not merely deny students a benefit, it denies them an equivalent education—to which they are unquestionably entitled.” He adds that computer and Internet access “are, in this modern world, fundamental to a complete education.” “Our attorneys are looking into the letter from the ACLU and will be providing a response,” a representative from the WCS Board told SLJ. “Until then, it would be inappropriate for the Board to comment.” According to a local media source, the Williamson Herald, Looney released the following statement in response to the ACLU-TN’s letter: “Our attorneys are reviewing the request…The district remains committed to protecting the constitutional rights of our students while maintaining a safe and secure learning environment for them.” During a WCS board policy committee meeting on November 3, the technology policy did not appear on the formal agenda, according to Lindsay Kee, Communications Director for ACLU-TN. Leading up to a full session Board meeting on November 17, Williams said he hoped for a “quick conclusion” and an immediate recall of the policy. The more attention this issue receives, he said, “the better to make good policies from the beginning” for other school districts as they manage their own technology programs. As of November 21, he had not hear from WCS, and the school board did not respond to SLJ’s requests for comment. April Witteveen is a community and teen services librarian with Deschutes Public Library in Central Oregon.  She is the upcoming chair of the Printz 2016 Committee and has served on the YALSA Board.]]> 0 Jacqueline Woodson and Ursula K. Le Guin Shine at the National Book Awards Ceremony Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:54:07 +0000 Woodson 223x300 Jacqueline Woodson and Ursula K. Le Guin Shine at the National Book Awards Ceremony

Jacqueline Woodson won the award n the Young People’s Literature category for her work Brown Girl Dreaming. Photo by Rocco Staino

The third time was the charm for Jacqueline Woodson on the evening of November 19, when she was awarded the 2014 National Book Award (NBA) for Young People’s Literature for her book Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin, 2014) at the NBA ceremony hosted by Daniel Handler (aka “Lemony Snicket”)  in New York City. Woodson had been a finalist for the award in 2003 for Locomotion (Putnam, 2003) and in 2002 for Hush (Putnam, 2002). Told in verse, Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir of her youth growing up in South Carolina and New York City during the 1960s and 70s.

In announcing Woodson’s win, author Sharon Draper, chair of the judging committee, let it be known that Brown Girl Dreaming was the unanimous decision of the judges, who also included authors Sherri L. Smith (Flygirl; Putnam, 2008) and Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me; Random House, 2009), as well as Starr LaTronica, outgoing president of the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC), and bookseller Dave Shallenberger.

Woodson prevailed over two-time finalists Eliot Schrefer, author of Threatened (Scholastic); Steve Sheinkin, who wrote The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights (MacMillan); Deborah Wiles, author of Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two (Scholastic); and first-time finalist John Corey Whaley, who wrote Noggin (S. & S.).

NBAfinalists 300x300 Jacqueline Woodson and Ursula K. Le Guin Shine at the National Book Awards Ceremony

NBA finalists in the Young People’s Category (l to r): Steven Sheinkin, John Corey Whaley, Jacqueline Woodson, Deborah Wiles, Eliot Schrefer Photo by Rocco Staino

While accepting the award, Woodson congratulated her fellow finalists, saying, “I love how much love there is the world of YA literature.” Commenting on the merger of publishers Random House and Penguin, she thanked her “fabulous blended family.”

Woodson also inadvertently became entangled in a controversy caused by comments, some of them alluding to Woodson’s race and watermelon, made by the evening’s host, Handler, following her acceptance speech. Both Handler and his comments were the topic of outrage on social media the next morning ranging from a tweet from Lee & Low Books (“Pro tip: If you’re a white person hosting an award ceremony, do not make jokes about race. I repeat, DO NOT MAKE JOKES ABOUT RACE”) to a post on “The Mary Sue” blog titled: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Daniel Handler Makes Racist Joke at Expense of African American Author.

Watch the C-SPAN video of Handler’s remarks after Woodson’s acceptance speech.

Handler apologized the day after the ceremony on Twitter, saying, “My job at last night’s National Book Awards #NBAwards was to shine a light on tremendous writers, including Jacqueline Woodson…and not to overshadow their achievements with my own ill-conceived attempts at humor. I clearly failed, and I’m sorry.”

Ursula Jacqueline Woodson and Ursula K. Le Guin Shine at the National Book Awards Ceremony

Ursula K. Le Guin Photo by Heather McCormick

Legendary author Ursula K. Le Guin was also honored at the event with the 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Accepting the honor, Le Guin, author of the “Earthsea Cycle” series, warned the audience, many from the publishing industry, that what is needed are “writers who know the difference between making a commodity and crafting a work of art.”

Le Guin also lambasted the publishing world for the high prices charged to libraries for ebooks. “I don’t want to see American literature sold down the river,” said Le Guin. “The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. It is freedom.”

Libraries also got a shout-out from Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book, when she accepted the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. First Book has distributed over 115 million new books and educational resources to children of low-income families.

The 65th annual National Book Awards are presented by the National Book Foundation.

See also:

Jacqueline Woodson’s ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’ Wins 2014 National Book Award

SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s Literature

Pictures of the Week: The 2014 National Book Awards Ceremony

Video: Jacqueline Woodson Keynote | SLJ Day of Dialog 2014

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Behind the Scenes: The 2014 SLJ Best Books List Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:41:35 +0000 BestBooks web tease 600 Behind the Scenes: The 2014 SLJ Best Books List

Boasting 70 stellar titles, the SLJ 2014 Best Books were revealed November 20 at a Twitter event that kicked off at 7 PM ET. The list is broken down into four different categories—picture books, middle-grade fiction, young adult fiction, and nonfiction—and represents the notable, can’t-miss books out of the thousands of children’s and YA titles published each year. This list often features books that will go on to garner coveted awards, such as this year’s Brown Girl Dreaming, which recently won Jacqueline Woodson the National Book Award.

The Best Books represent a long, painstaking process that begins months in advance, with SLJ’s book review editors starting in early fall to revisit titles that have received starred reviews the previous year and homing in on those that they believe are not simply great but truly excellent. Over several intensive meetings—with separate discussions devoted to each category—taking place over a period of months, editors nominate the titles they feel truly deserve inclusion, arguing for and defending the merits of a particular title. After lengthy discussion, several rounds of voting are held, with editors retaining the option to bring back books that may not have made the cut the first time round, in what is informally termed “the zombie round.” Often, a single editor may champion a particular title and even successfully convince the rest of the team of the book’s distinction.

Integral to the process is not only selecting high-quality literature but also a solid balance of titles. For instance, editors made an effort to include picture books that appeal to toddlers as well as to older readers, nonfiction that tackles both science and technology as well as humanities and the arts, and fiction that represents protagonists with a wide variety of experiences, among many other criteria. Editors also paid close attention to a book’s impact on its targeted audience; for example, Byron Barton’s vibrant picture book My Bus was considered a strong choice because it appeals to toddlers and novice readers alike.

Often, trends that editors noticed on the list represent those in the larger publishing world, such as the high number of wordless picture books (Marla Frazee’s The Farmer and the Clown, Raúl Colón’s Draw!), titles about the concept of creating books and literature (Katy Beebe’s Brother Hugo and the Bear, Marie-Louise Gay’s Any Questions?, Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, Lois Ehlert’s The Scraps Book), and memoirs or novels that blurred the lines between autobiography and fiction (Cece Bell’s El Deafo, Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters, Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming).

While librarians may already be well aware of these books, SLJ hopes for the list’s impact to disseminate and be felt among those outside of the library community as well. In her December editorial, editor-in-chief Rebecca T. Miller emphasizes the need to put books directly in the hands of users: “Engage patrons, caregivers, and teachers directly, list in hand. Encourage users, for instance, to check out a Best Books title before they buy it as a gift.”

This year’s process also represented a change in the formation of the list. As in the past, careful attention was given to each starred title, the new process also resembled a Caldecott or Newbery Award Committee meeting, with timed discussion and voting, as well as editors being given a list of criteria to keep in mind as they debated.

Once the list was finalized and complete, the editors took to social media to announce the Best Books, in their fourth annual Best Books Twitter Party, with editors speaking briefly about their personal favorites and tweeting fun categories of mock superlatives: for instance, Chris Raschka’s The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra was named “most likely to inspire you to bust a move.” Librarians, publishers, and even authors of some of the books attended the event and weighed in, voicing their opinions about the selected offerings.





View the list.

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College Daze: YA Novels that Tackle the Undergraduate Years | SLJ Spotlight Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:00:14 +0000 As teens make their final decisions on their higher education options, they’ve already begun fantasizing about their post-high school lives. The following novels explore that time before college, in which the line between adult- and childhood is blurred and growing up is the only option.

playlistforthedead 197x300 College Daze: YA Novels that Tackle the Undergraduate Years  | SLJ SpotlightFalkoff, Michelle. Playlist for the Dead. 288p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062310507; ebk. ISBN 9780062310521.

Gr 9 Up –Accustomed to operating outside of the major social scene, Sam is disappointed when a rare party he attends is ruined by a fight with his best friend, Hayden. Disappointment fades quickly when he discovers that Hayden killed himself afterward. Rocked by the tragedy, Sam is left puzzling over tracks that his friend left for a playlist and struggling to figure out who he is without Hayden around. Despite the heavy subject matter, the overall tone of the book is less somber than the title would indicate, and it is a quick, engaging read. Falkoff nails the war-zone mentality and painful symbiosis of high school friendships. The mixture of grief, anger, and guilt that Sam works through is realistic and well written, and his reactions to Hayden’s music choices further illuminates not only his struggle but also how their friendship was beginning to change. The characters and concept work better than the plot—it gets an all-loose-ends-tied-up treatment at the end. This is especially frustrating as an entire eerie subplot is explained away in the course of a short paragraph. The strong characters, dialogue and the use of the playlist to structure the book make this a good pick for struggling readers. Hand this to fans of the movie Superbad and Spotify-obsessives.–Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, NJ

mybesteverything 199x300 College Daze: YA Novels that Tackle the Undergraduate Years  | SLJ SpotlightTOMP, Sarah. My Best Everything. 400p. Little, Brown. Mar. 2015. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316324786; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316324762. LC 2013039870.

Gr 9 Up –Luisa “Lulu” Mendez dreams of leaving her dead-end small town behind. She cannot wait to immerse herself in the University of San Diego’s biochemistry program in the fall. So she is devastated when her dad admits that he has lost her college funds in a bad investment. Lulu is determined to make her college dreams a reality, and when a confiscated distillery turns up at the junkyard where she and her best friend work, she sees it as a bit of serendipitous luck. Although Lulu is not a party girl, she is aware that the moonshine business, illegal or not, is still thriving in the rural mountains of Virginia. Roni and Bucky do not take much convincing to go along with her plan—some extra cash will hurry her friends’ wedding date along—and through some creative paperwork, the still disappears from the impound lot where it sits awaiting a trial. Lulu has recently met Mason Malone, whose family wealth comes from generations of “shining.” There’s an instant attraction between the two, and although Mason is a recovering alcoholic who has sworn off the family business, he reluctantly agrees to share his knowledge with the three 18-year-olds so that they can operate the still without blowing themselves up. As the still starts producing and the enterprising friends see the money coming in, college no longer seems out of reach—but will she be able to walk away from Mason at the end of the summer? And will her unorthodox college fund scheme mean his destruction as he edges closer and closer to his addiction? Lulu narrates the story in second-person, as a confessional of sorts to Mason, and readers will race to turn the pages as it becomes apparent that Lulu’s gamble may result in the destruction of the people she cares about the most. A wholly original and most satisfying debut.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

ontheedge 198x300 College Daze: YA Novels that Tackle the Undergraduate Years  | SLJ SpotlightVan Diepen, Allison. On The Edge. 304p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Dec. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062303448; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062303462.

Gr 9 Up –College-bound Maddie finds herself in the middle of a dangerous gang war after witnessing the murder of a homeless man. With a target on her back, she is unexpectedly defended by an underground gang and in the midst of it all begins to fall for their mysterious leader, Lobo. As their relationship heats up so does the danger, and Maddie becomes an essential piece to bringing down a gang-run human trafficking ring. While the relationship between Maddie and Lobo is the focus of the story, the thriller-type subplot set in the Miami underbelly steals the show. The sometimes violent, always gripping action of a vigilante underground gang rescuing trafficked girls keeps the pace moving and the tone from becoming saccharine. The menace of this dark world is a nice foil to the unexpectedly sweet development of young love, and adds a desperation and sense of urgency to their romance. The friendship between Maddie and her friends is especially multifaceted, and readers will appreciate the honest examination of the complex emotions of friendship as they learn to allow their relationship to evolve while facing big life changes. While the hyper-gritty street life may be over-the-top and border on unrealistic, the struggle of the characters to do right at all costs will resonate with teen readers.–Sarah Townsend, Norfolk Public Library, VA

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SLJ Best Books Cover | December 2014 Thu, 20 Nov 2014 23:45:28 +0000 Morales CV DIG OPT 800pxNAMEPLATE SLJ Best Books Cover | December 2014

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Pictures of the Week: The 2014 National Book Awards Ceremony Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:29:09 +0000

Ursula! Ursula! Ursula! Goddess of American letters, look away from the flash #NBAwards

— Heather McCormack (@HuisceBeatha) November 19, 2014

On November 19, notables from the literature world gathered at Cipriani’s Wall Street restaurant, in New York City, to fête the winners of the 65th annual National Book Awards, sponsored by the National Book Foundation. Children’s literature and young adult authors were present and decked out in their shiny best, including Ursula Le Guin, who accepted an award for her distinguished contribution to American letters and stole the show with her rousing speech, during which she torched Amazon for its pricing dispute with Hachette Publishing, defended science fiction writers, and was quoted as saying:

“We need writers who remember freedom.”

Watch her rousing speech on YouTube.

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A Surprise Fiction Win and a Dazzling Le Guin at the National Book Awards 2014 Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:15:08 +0000 The evening featured a surprise win in fiction for Phil Klay’s Redeployment (Penguin Pr.), a first book of stories by a former U.S. Marine who was stationed in Iraq for 13 months as a public affairs officer. Other fiction finalists looked as if they had an edge—for instance, Marilyn Robinson, up for Lila (Farrar), has been a fiction finalist twice and a nonfiction finalist once. Still, Klay’s accomplished stories of life in battle and afterward has received considerable praise since its spring publication. Not only was it a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a New York Times best seller but Klay was a 2014 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree. As a stunned Klay explained in his acceptance speech, being a marine means wondering what to say to a father whose marine son has meant so much to you or to a middle schooler disappointed that you haven’t killed anyone. “I don’t have the answer to those questions, but the book was the only way to start really thinking them through,” he concluded. Other winners were less surprising if certainly satisfying. Jacqueline Woodson, who won the Young People’s Literature Award for Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Bks: Penguin), has been an NBA finalist twice before and had an indisputably large cheering section at the event. She concluded her acceptance speech by noting, “It’s so important that we talk to our old people before they become our ancestors and get those stories.” Louise Glück, the 12th Poet Laureate of the United States and a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award winner, finally (and tearfully) won the Poetry Award for Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar) after having been an NBA finalist three previous times. Evan Osnos, the Nonfiction Award winner for Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (Farrar), currently a New Yorker staffer, was Beijing bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, where he contributed to a series that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Like his fellow winners, he stressed how humbled he was in the presence of his fellow finalists and concluded his acceptance speech by thanking “the people in the pages of this book; they live in a place where it is dangerous to be honest, and I tried to do them justice.” The evening opened with sharp reminders of the value of books beyond glittery awards—even if, as the risk-takingly (and sometimes inappropriately) funny  master of ceremonies Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) observed, “This is all pretty glam.” The Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community was given to Kyle Zimmer, founder of First Book, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that since 1992 has distributed 120 million books to impoverished children worldwide at little or no cost. In accepting, Zimmer spoke eloquently of the importance of bringing together books and needy children, pointing out that 45 percent of children in this country are raised in homes that are poor or near poor and that 80 percent of such children read below proficiency level, creating a situation that is very much like a “permanent recession.” Putting on a hobbit persona, she said, “The giant spiders are heading our way, and we are all standing together, we are all holding our swords, and our whole story hangs by a thread.” Audience members were urged to find their “inner Bilbo Baggins.” Ursula K. Le Guin, winner of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, threw down an even greater challenge to the audience. After proclaiming of the award “I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long”—that is, fantasy writers like herself—she went on to deliver a spirited attack on the market forces that dominate publishing today. “I see sales departments given control over editorial,” said Le Guin. “I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write” If Le Guin made the gathered publishing dignitaries uncomfortable with her admonishments (and there were uncomfortable stirrings, along with scattered applause), at least one person yelled out, “I love you.” And what’s not to love about an author who proclaims, “But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.”]]> 0 ‘Katniss and Mouse’ Game in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1′| Film Review Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:11:38 +0000 mockingjay1 Katniss Katniss and Mouse Game in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1| Film Review

Katniss Everdeen played by Jennifer Lawrence. All photos courtesy of Murray Close/Lionsgate.

Just as the messianic rebel leader Katniss Everdeen has found her footing, the hit “Hunger Games” film series has become more assured with its latest installment, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1, while retaining most of the scaffolding of Suzanne Collins’s novel (Scholastic, 2010­­). The decision to halve the final part of the trilogy allows the filmmakers to tell Mockingjay’s serpentine story line with ease and to take time in the building of tension while letting the characters, and the audience, catch their breath. (Collins also adapted the screenplay.) In other words, this is not a case of a film cramming in too much plot in too little time.

Like the best seller, the movie doesn’t stand alone. The script assumes viewers are in the know. At this point in the story, an all-out war has broken out between the decadent dictatorship in the Capitol, hell-bent on restoring its power, and the surrounding districts. The rebels of militarist District 13 have saved Katniss’s life, and its leadership now props up the reluctant heroine as “the face of the revolution,” making her the star in its propaganda videos (called “propos”) to counter the beamed in messages from President Snow (played by the slithering Donald Sutherland). However, Katniss’s fellow victor in the previously seen Hunger Games—and love interest—Peeta, has been captured by Rose and is being used as a weapon to taunt Katniss. The lethal cat-and-mouse game between Katniss and Snow dominates over the low-simmering relationship tension from loyal nice guy Gale (Liam Hemsworth), with the puppy dog eyes.

This time around, most of the story is set in the dark and cavernous underground lair of District 13, where Katniss and the survivors of her decimated home, District 12, have taken refuge. (Like the Spartans, District 13’s inhabitants have grown up trained for warfare.)

mockingjay1 Effie 300x200 Katniss and Mouse Game in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1| Film Review

Effie Trinket become a political refugee in this installment.

One of the strongest pleasures of Collins’s world-building, whether in print or on screen, has been the mash-up of varied references. The endless tunnels and multiple levels of District 13 call to mind what may be the first dystopian movie ever, Fritz Lang’s 1926 Metropolis, where the enslaved are forced to burrow for the above-ground elite. A clandestine rescue mission takes its visual cues from the last half-hour of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty (2012), and there’s the equivalent of a visit from John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate (1962), in which someone gets brainwashed.

As the emotionally stripped down Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence achieves equilibrium. More reactive in this installment than in the first two movies, she brings more depth to her role than most stars fronting a franchise and goes for broke without going over-the-top. Besides Katniss, the film has an additional savior: the de-blinged Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks). Katniss’s bubble-headed, entirely superficial (and proud of it) escort has become a political refugee—while still trying to right fashion wrongs. Banks brings a much needed lightness to a movie that begins on a downbeat note that reverberates throughout. With so many other of Katniss’s allies dropping like flies, it’s reassuring to see a familiar face.

Perhaps the main point of contention among the book’s fans is how to divide Collins’s narrative. The filmmakers have chosen a less-than-obvious moment to conclude the first part. Right when audiences assume it’s over, the film proceeds for another five minutes. Nevertheless, it’s not a deal breaker. Audiences will certainly return for the conclusion of Mockingjay.

(The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 will open in November 2015.)

Directed by Francis Lawrence

123 min.

Rated PG-13 (massacre of thousands, implied torture, and overall high body count)


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Jacqueline Woodson’s ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’ Wins 2014 National Book Award Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:00:16 +0000 Brown Girl Dreaming takes the top prize at the 2014 National Book Awards. Finalists in the young people’s literature category include Eliot Schrefer’s Threatened, Steve Sheinkin’s The Port Chicago 50 , John Corey Whaley’s Noggin, and Deborah Wiles’s Revolution.]]> browngirldreaming 198x300 Jacqueline Woodsons Brown Girl Dreaming Wins 2014 National Book AwardJacqueline Woodson’s book Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Bks./Penguin) has won the National Book Award for young people’s literature.

Finalists in the young people’s literature category include Eliot Schrefer’s Threatened (Scholastic); Steve Sheinkin’s The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights (Roaring Brook/Macmillan); John Corey Whaley’s Noggin (Atheneum/S. & S.); and Deborah Wiles’s Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two (Scholastic).

The judges in the young people’s literature category were Sharon M. Draper, Starr LaTronica, Dave Shallenberger, Sherri L. Smith, and Rebecca Stead.

Watch Jacqueline Woodson read from and discuss Brown Girl Dreaming at School Library Journal‘s 2014 Day of Dialog.

Read SLJ reviews of the winner and finalists.

Read the National Book Foundation press release announcing 2014 winners and finalists in all categories.

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Ditch Holiday Programming | Opinion Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:54:50 +0000 Kendra Jones pic 300x289 Ditch Holiday Programming | Opinion

Kendra Jones

Every year, youth services staff ask these kinds of questions: “Do you do a Hanukkah/Christmas storytime/program in your library? If so, what do you do?”; “Do you decorate your library for the holidays?”; “Is it important to represent all the holidays in the winter?” And every year, I get ranty about this.

This year, I’d like to challenge you to eliminate holiday-themed programming in your library. You may say, “It’s fun! People want it! I want it!” and I will say to you, “Lots of things are fun! People can get it for free in many other places! And I don’t care what you want—programs are for your patrons (all patrons), not for you!” If you love Christmas, use your programming expertise and plan something for your church or your friends and family—all of them willing participants who likely feel the same way you do.

Allow me to further explain why you should not provide holiday programs this winter, or ever.

You are not an expert on holidays. You cannot accurately explain the meaning behind Hanukkah, Christmas, or any holiday when a young patron asks about them. Nor should you.

If a patron asks about the birth of Christ, you would not tell them your personal beliefs. Rather, you would show them the wide variety of materials available on the topic. You would perform a reference interview to make sure you are answering their question as best you can with the resources you can access. Unless you plan on hosting community members to talk about the various holidays of their cultures and you plan on doing this all year round, just don’t go there. You run the risk of deeply insulting someone who celebrates a certain holiday if you present it inaccurately. This falls under the same category as offering medical or legal advice—just don’t do it! You are representing the library when you present a program on work time. And unless your library is coming out as Christian, you shouldn’t be presenting programs about Christian holidays (or any holidays).

Stop thinking from a traditional, privileged point of view. It often appears as if Anglo tradition is screaming, “It’s not fair! I want to do Christmas in the library!” in a Veruca Salt tone, stomping its privileged feet. However, it is not your right to celebrate Christmas in a public institution. It is your right to celebrate whatever you want on your own time and your job to help patrons find places, outside the library, offering celebrations or events around any holiday in which they might be interested. Remember that those who celebrate holidays during the winter do not need the library to help them celebrate.

Conversely, those who do not celebrate Christmas, specifically, have very few places (basically their own home, if they have one) where “holiday spirit” is not constantly in their face. The library should be one of these places.

We are not being diverse by including a holiday like Hanukkah in our themed winter programs, though we may think we are. Ask yourself, “Why Hanukkah?” Did Jewish patrons request this type of programming? Have you spoken with leaders in your Jewish communities? Muslim communities? Native Peoples? Indians? And on and on and on?

Have you connected with any of these groups in your community? If you answered, “No” to any of these questions, maybe you should spend time building relationships instead of planning Santa’s visit. Do not ignorantly and selfishly pick holidays from non-Anglo cultures that happen about the same time as Christmas. Not cool, people. Celebrate diversity by allowing all people to participate in all library programs. I really like what Angie Manfredi, head of youth services at the Los Alamos County Library System, said on the “Storytime Underground” Facebook page in regards to inclusive, diverse programming: ”…I have 10 pagan patrons and 100 Christian ones. Doesn’t it make more sense for me to have a program for the 100? But ya know? I don’t want to provide services and programs to the 100 people at the cost of 10. It’s that simple to me.”

Still not convinced? Let me paint you a picture. It’s Wednesday, and you’re nine years old. You come to the library every Wednesday for the library’s craft program. Today your mom says you cannot go. Today the craft is making Santas and reindeer, and your family’s religion prevents you from participating. The one place in the world that should be open and inviting for all has just excluded you. And as librarians, we have failed for allowing this to happen.

Step outside yourself this year, get creative, and offer programs in which everyone in your community can participate. If you are having a hard time explaining to patrons and staff why you are leaving Santa out of the library this year, here’s Angie on Facebook once again: “I have books for everyone; I’ll be happy to help you find them and even recommend some favorites. Please feel free to share them with your families and children and in your churches and ceremonies. But we are a public institution and we’ll be programming around snow so that every kid can feel welcomed, not just the majority.”

Finally, some food for thought from Mark Twain. “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Kendra Jones is a children’s librarian at the Wheelock Library of the Tacoma (WA) Public Library system. She is a toddler-wrangling Twitter addict (@klmpeace) blogging at “Read Sing Play” and “Storytime Underground,”where she is a joint chief and creator of Storytime University.

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SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s Literature Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:49:51 +0000 School Library Journal reviews of the National Book Award Finalists in the Young People’s Literature category, as well as some relevant pieces from our bloggers and interviews with the authors.

NationalBkFinalist2014 CVs SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s Literature

 SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s LiteratureSchrefer, Eliot. Threatened. 288p. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545551434; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545551441. LC 2013018599.

Gr 7 Up–After the death of his mother and sister, Luc is left in the hands of a moneylender, Monsieur Tatagani. One of many orphans forced to do Tatagani’s bidding, Luc has found a way to be useful and earn a few coins wiping glasses in a bar in Gabon. One night a man shows up with a monkey and a silver attaché case, claiming to be a researcher sent by the National Geographic Society to study the chimpanzees in the interior. The mysterious man, called “the Prof,” offers Luc a job as his helper. From this modest beginning comes a tale of survival and discovery for both humans and chimps. There are no easy answers here, but deep themes are explored. The plight of the endangered chimps is brought to the attention of readers, as are the challenges of socioeconomic status and geographic realities of Gabon. There are times when Luc’s voice as an uneducated orphan adolescent seems vivid and real, at other times less so. Still, the valor and soul of Luc is captivating. Fascinating and sure to lead to discussion.–Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO

the port chicago 50 SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s LiteratureRedReviewStar SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s LiteratureSheinkin, Steve. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Roaring Book. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781596437968.

Gr 7 Up—In the summer of 1944, 50 sailors, all of them African American, were tried and convicted of mutiny by the U.S. Navy. They had refused to follow a direct order of loading dangerous rockets and munitions on ships bound for battle in the Pacific after an enormous explosion had killed more than 300 of their fellow sailors and other civilians working on the dock. At the heart of this story is the rampant racism that permeated the military at all levels, leaving minority sailors and soldiers to do the drudge work almost exclusively while their white counterparts served on the front lines. Through extensive research, Sheinkin effectively re-creates both the tense atmosphere at Port Chicago before and after the disaster as well as the events that led to the men’s refusal of this one particular order that they felt put them directly in harm’s way. Much of the tension in this account stems from the growing frustration that readers are meant to feel as bigotry and discrimination are encountered at every turn and at every level of the military. There is a wealth of primary-source material here, including interviews with the convicted sailors, court records, photographs, and other documents, all of which come together to tell a story that clearly had a huge impact on race relations in the military. This is a story that remains largely unknown to many Americans, and is one of the many from World War II about segregation and race that is important to explore with students. Abundant black-and-white photos, extensive source notes, and a thorough bibliography are included.–Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

Courageous African American WWII Sailors Profiled in The Port Chicago 50 | Audio Pick


noggin 198x300 SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s Literature

Whaley, John Corey. Noggin. 352p. S & S/Atheneum. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442458727; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442458741. LC 2013020137.

Gr 9 Up–Travis Coates, 16, is dying of cancer, so he accepts an offer from a cryogenic group to have his head removed and frozen with the hope that it would be attached to another body in the future and he could be reanimated. Five years later, he  “wakes up” with a new body and is still 16. There are a few minor problems with his new life–he is a celebrity/freak and gets more attention than he wants, he has to get used to a body that has different abilities than his old one, and he has to go to school with kids he doesn’t know. The biggest problem is that Travis’s best friend and his girlfriend are now 21 years old and have moved on with their lives while he feels like he has simply taken a nap. Cate is engaged and not interested in in a relationship with a teenager. Travis is obsessed with the idea that he can win her back and won’t accept her repeated “no.” He tries various means to convince her that he’s still the one for her: some hilarious, some touching, some inappropriate, but all definitely sophomoric. The premise of the story is interesting although far-fetched. The author does a good job of describing the emotions and reactions of all of  the characters, but Travis’s fixation on Cate becomes tiresome and a plot twist at the end feels like it was thrown in just to make the story longer.–Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC

Though our reviewer didn’t much enjoy John Corey Whaley’s Noggin, our teen reviewers certainly did.

Teens Review 17 & Gone, Landry Park, and Whaley’s Latest

Teens Review Spring 2014 Releases, Second Take on Whaley’s Noggin


revolution 230x300 SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s LiteratureRedReviewStar SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s LiteratureWiles, Deborah. Revolution. 544p. (The Sixties Trilogy: Bk. 2). Scholastic. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780545106078.

Gr 5-8–In Wiles’s second installment of the trilogy, readers are offered two alternate viewpoints from very different worlds within the same Greenwood, Mississippi town during the tumultuous Freedom Summer of 1964. Sunny, a 12-year-old white girl, is worried about reports of “invaders” descending upon the sleepy Southern enclave and causing trouble. Meanwhile, Raymond, a black boy from Baptist Town (known among the white citizens as “Colored Town”), is becoming increasingly aware of all the places (especially the public pool and Leflore’s theater) he is barred from attending due to Jim Crow laws. As Sunny’s worldview is suddenly expanded as she begins to learn more about the sinister underbelly of her seemingly perfect town, her story intersects with Raymond’s. Among the cadre of brave young volunteers working to register black Mississippians to vote—a mix of white and black members of various civil rights associations—is Jo Ellen, the older sister from Countdown (Scholastic, 2010). As in the first book, song lyrics, biblical verses, photographs, speeches, essays, and other ephemera immerse readers in one of the most important—and dangerous—moments during the Civil Rights Movement. While Sunny’s experiences receive a slightly deeper focus than Raymond’s, readers are offered a window into each community and will see both characters change and grow over the course of the summer. Inclusion of primary source materials, including the text of a real and vile pamphlet created by KKK members, does not shy away from the reality and hurtful language used by bigots during this time period. For those looking to extend the story with a full-sensory experience, the author has compiled YouTube clips of each song referenced in the book on a Pinterest board ( With elements of family drama and coming-of-age themes that mirror the larger sociopolitical backdrop, Revolution is a book that lingers long after the last page.–Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

Revolution | A Conversation with Deborah Wiles by Jennifer M. Brown

History comes to life in Wiles’s second “Sixties” installment | Audio Pick


browngirldreaming 198x300 SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s LiteratureRedReviewStar SLJ Reviews of the 2014 National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s LiteratureWoodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. 320p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399252518.

Gr 4-7–“I am born in Ohio but the stories of South Carolina already run like rivers through my veins” writes Woodson as she begins her mesmerizing journey through her early years. She was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, “as the South explodes” into a war for civil rights and was raised in South Carolina and then New York. Her perspective on the volatile era in which she grew up is thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse, (Martin Luther King is ready to march on Washington; Malcom X speaks about revolution; Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat only seven years earlier and three years have passed since Ruby Bridges walks into an all-white school). She experienced firsthand the acute differences in how the “colored” were treated in the North and South. “After the night falls and it is safe for brown people to leave the South without getting stopped and sometimes beaten and always questioned; We board the Greyhound bus bound for Ohio.” She related her difficulties with reading as a child and living in the shadow of her brilliant older sister, she never abandoned her dream of becoming a writer. With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience, from her supportive, loving maternal grandparents, her mother’s insistence on good grammar, to the lifetime friend she meets in New York, that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss. This should be on every library shelf.–D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH

Video: Jacqueline Woodson Keynote | SLJ Day of Dialog 2014 by Kathy Ishizuka

Review of the Day: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson | A Fuse #8 Production by Betsy Bird

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CA Librarians Gear Up For Summer with iREAD’s Read to the Rhythm Programming Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:40:59 +0000 CLA Nov 2014 CA Librarians Gear Up For Summer with iREADs Read to the Rhythm Programming

Conference goers at the iREAD preconference at the CLA Annual.

Children’s and teen librarians made homemade instruments, painted piano keys on clay pots, downloaded the Vine app onto their phones, and absorbed dozens of other ideas for programs, displays, outreach, and marketing during iREAD’s (Illinois Reading Enrichment and Development) Summer Reading Program event on November 7 at the California Library Association’s (CLA) Annual Conference (November 7–9).

IREAD (K−8) is a “coordinated, self-supporting effort to develop and provide high-quality, low-cost resources and products to enable local library staff to promote reading [and life-long learning],” according to the program’s website. While IREAD has been the CLA-endorsed program since 2013, California libraries are free to choose any summer reading program product.The California Summer Reading Program is a project of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.”

This year, iREAD’s theme is Read to the Rhythm, which is bound to mean a fun and noisy summer for all ages in participating libraries. Members of the CLA Summer Reading Program committee took turns highlighting creative tips and ideas following this theme for every age group. For the youngest patrons, Rachelle Lopez, youth services librarian at the Ontario City Library, suggested putting on a hoedown, complete with cattle calls, line dancing, and homemade clip clop instruments that sound like horse hooves. Another harmonious idea is to set up interactive flannel board displays at toddler eye-level, allowing little ones to match the silhouettes of instruments with their images.

Jill Harris, youth services librarian at the San Rafael Public Library, presented a cabaret of ideas for kids and tweens, from playing snippets of songs and asking kids their names, to presenting an instrument “petting zoo.” Dance parties are always popular, especially when kids and tweens get to choose the music and decorations—and if that’s too daunting, encourage kids to make their own instruments from common household objects.

EvaMitnick adj CA Librarians Gear Up For Summer with iREADs Read to the Rhythm Programming

Eva Mitnick is the coordinator of Children’s Services at the Los Angeles Public Library.

Teens thrive on challenging hands-on activities, and Courtney Saldana, the supervising librarian of youth services at the Ontario City Library, offered up a fine selection of music-based craft projects.  Sheet music looks stylish and is available all over the Internet, so why not print out a bunch and use it to decoupage anything from picture frames to bike helmets? Cassette tapes may be unfamiliar objects these days, but teens still love the idea of mix tapes. Challenge them to make playlists for characters in their favorite books.

IREAD presents an adult summer reading program as well, and Morgan Pershing, adult services librarian at the Santa Clara City Library, urged librarians not to forget the grown ups. There are so many benefits to offering an adult program, said Pershing. Adults are role models for kids, reading helps strengthen aging brains, and, of course, even adults like to get rewards sometimes. Most importantly, adults vote, and so it’s important to create library programs and services that resonate with them in order to create more active library supporters. According to 2014 statistics from CLA, there are more adult participants in the summer reading program than teens in some California public libraries.

Music-themed decorations will add a harmonious note to libraries next summer.  Elyse Barrere, young adult librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library, noted that drawn-on and decorated CDs make fantastic mobiles and backgrounds to displays. Sheet music can also be used for display backgrounds, as well as for origami and greeting cards. Sprinkle some musical puns—”It only takes a minuet to get into treble”—on your displays to extend the musical leitmotif.

For libraries wishing to make community giving a part of their summer reading program, CLA offers a statewide, charitable initiative linked to the Read to the Rhythm theme. Anna Hartman, teen services librarian at the San Diego County Library, headed a presentation that described how libraries can seek out groups that will offer free music or dance programs, and then collect voluntary donations from the audience that will be used toward a cause.

Between presentations, audience members had a chance to attend small breakout sessions. It was hard to choose only two out of the 12 sessions available, especially when they included topics ranging from crafts to Common Core to outcomes to Vine. The room hummed with excited discussion, punctuated every now and then by what sounded an awful lot like homemade didgeridoos.

Participants left the preconference laden with cowbells, maraca pens, and plenty of inspiration about ways to create the most rocking summer reading program ever in 2015.

Eva Mitnick is the coordinator of children’s services at the Los Angeles Public Library in California.

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Project ReimaginED: Online Coffee Klatch for Educators Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:01:01 +0000 ProjectReImaginEDProject ReimaginED is an online forum serving up tools, lessons, and other resources for K−12 teachers and technology coaches to strengthen the Common Core and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards they’re serving students. Backed by ISTE and the National Council for Literacy Education (NCLE), the program has already attracted more than 130 members since launching last week and is collecting ideas and lessons through December 2015.

With the adoption of Common Core State Standards across the country, the demand for high-quality tools and tutorials that stitch these requirements into curriculum has never been higher. Educators are hungry for ways to learn what their cohorts are doing, and want to share about their own successes as well. A central online spot is an efficient way to connect, collaborate, and capture details they’re using with their own students.

Signing up for Project ReimaginED is free and takes seconds on the site. Once logged in, users can take part in discussions on infographics, images, and the use of online assessments. Tech tools are also being discussed from iPads to apps, and there are links to events as well. Members are even trying to rein themselves in a bit, their excitement palpable on the message boards.

“Please let me know if there is something specific a teacher needs,” writes one educator from Pine Grove, PA. “There are literally millions of sites out there, and I did not want to overwhelm them with an abundance of resources.”

ISTE is inviting users to submit lessons on the site through the end of the year, provided the lessons align to standards, which the organization will review and publish. Educators interested should hurry though. The top two submissions will be selected in January 2105, with winners sent to ISTE’s Conference and Expo set for June 28−July 1 in Philadelphia next year.

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The Ebook Dilemma: Thoughts on Selecting the Right Ebook Model | Tech Tidbits Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:20:46 +0000 My husband and I are both high school teacher librarians but in different districts. This is mostly awesome as we share ideas, innovations, and solutions. But sometimes there is also a bit of envy involved. For example, his district recently earned Race to the Top funds. There are lots of exciting things in store for the St. Vrain (CO) District, and the one that inspires the most envy in me is their expenditure of $200,000 to start a district-wide OverDrive ebook library.

I must frequently remind myself that it is futile to covet my husband’s resources. Every district, every school, and even every classroom has different demographics, tools, and human resources to draw from. Public education can never be a one size fits all paradigm. But I am still left wrestling with how to make ebooks available to my students.

EH140626 McGraw Hill Follett eBook The Ebook Dilemma: Thoughts on Selecting the Right Ebook Model | Tech Tidbits

I started my ebook journey three years ago by purchasing 198 FollettShelf titles. All of the books I purchased were one-student-at-a-time checkouts, but they were outright purchases which will remain in our collection forever. For example, I purchased The Hunger Games ($14.99), Catching Fire ($17.99), and Mockingjay ($17.99).  When I search the item number for these books now, I find that that Scholastic is no longer offering them. According to customer service at Follett, the pricing model for ebooks changed in November of last year; I will find the same pricing structure for most publishers.

Now, ebooks are available several ways: a 12- or 24-month rental for a single patron check out, an outright purchase for a single patron checkout, or an outright purchase for simultaneous use by multiple patrons. There are also books available for purchase which expire after a pre-defined number of checkouts. Most popular titles are sold with the rental model. For example, if I wanted to purchase “The Hunger Games” trilogy today, I could do so for a 24-month access, single patron checkout. Each book in the series would cost $12.99 each, but would disappear from my collection in two years.

These ebooks haven’t seen a lot of usage, as most of my students still prefer to have a paper copy in their hands, but I do believe it’s only a matter of time. Lacking a sudden influx of cash, I really need to make wise purchasing choices for my library and expanding my ebook collection by renting books seems wasteful. Maybe I’ll change my mind someday. After all, many of our books are popular for a year or two and then fall out of fashion as a new book or series is released, so the rental model would be an automatic weeding of my collection. But until more of my students start regularly using ebooks, I have found a model that meets my needs in a much more affordable format.

Brain Hive is an online ebook provider with 3,000-plus books in their collection. I have subscribed to their service and pay nothing until a patron checks out a book. So instead of purchasing a bunch of ebooks and hoping my students will like them and check them out before the rental period expires, I can encourage them to explore the Brain Hive collection and I only pay $1.00 for each book actually checked out. Recently, my student aide and I discovered that, for two dollars, we can each check out and read the same book at the same time! This is a model I can sell to my teachers who require students to read a novel each quarter. We often have students ask for multiple copies of a single title so they can read a book with their friend. The ability for several students to read the same book at the same time, allows me to encourage them to give the ebook format a try. The books are categorized by level: elementary, middle school, and high school, as well as genre. This is a wonderful opportunity for our struggling readers to access books at their reading and interest levels.

brain hive The Ebook Dilemma: Thoughts on Selecting the Right Ebook Model | Tech Tidbits

It’s not all sunshine and roses, however. I can’t control what titles are in the Brain Hive collection, and some of the most popular books aren’t available. But they do have some award-winning titles, and their collection is growing all the time. For the time being, before I submit print orders, I’m going to first see if the wanted titles are available in the Brain Hive collection so I can avoid duplicating books and get the most for my limited budget.

I believe utilizing Brain Hive’s service will save me money because currently, very few of my students are checking out ebooks. For the month of October, our patrons checked out 487 print nonfiction books and 502 print fiction books. They checked out only six ebooks in total. Until the tipping point where students are using more ebooks than print, I feel that Brain Hive is a solid platform to introduce my students to the digital experience for a minimal investment.

See also: Ebooks Take Hold in Schools—Slowly

Krista Brakhage is a teacher librarian at Poudre High School, Fort Collins CO.




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Back to the Future | Consider the Source Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:30:08 +0000 In October, I had the chance to speak with two classes at Novi High School in Novi, MI. The students were as bright, engaging, and as interested as you could possibly want—a high school version of a college seminar. I had a similar experience a couple of weeks later with middle school students at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA. Both schools asked me to talk about my research process as their students were engaged (for the first time for the younger students) in their own research projects. This was a bit of a challenge since I begin by reading everything I can about a subject, something students embarking on a two-week project can’t possibly do. Still, I found some commonalities in our methods and challenges, and showed them examples of the steps I took researching my books, including Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies (Candlewick, 2012).

fbi letter to martin luther king jr1 240x300 Back to the Future  | Consider the Source

F.B.I. letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. (National Archives, College Park, MD).

That book, and my talk, began with one of the two redacted versions of a letter that the F.B.I. sent to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and which the Civil Rights leader interpreted as an injunction to kill himself. I asked the students under what circumstances could our government have considered a note of this sort legal. Later in the book, I included the second version of the letter, which, seemingly randomly, blacked out new lines and restored others. The students in both schools jumped in with bright, apt questions and responses. And then, just a couple of days ago I saw this: Dr. Beverley Gage, a Yale history professor who is writing book on Hoover, had found a copy of the same letter with no editing/censoring at all.

I quickly sent the link to my hosts at the two schools. It was just too perfect; the article collectively matched our class discussions. That was nice, but the real gold in this is what it tells us about history; the past keeps changing. New evidence yields new knowledge, or, at least nuances of what we once thought. And it’s not just documents that can produce this information. One of my favorite moments in talking about If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge (National Geographic, 2010) comes when I show a photo of a skeleton found buried very near the site. Strontium isotope testing, I explain, allows archeologists to determine the location of the soil that produced the grass eaten by the cows that produced the milk that the child drank as his or her teeth were being formed. Thus, we know from the skeleton’s teeth, that this person grew up in what is now Switzerland. New technology that explores deep into the structures of matter gives us new tools to examine the past.

And then there are new perspectives—as when Adrienne Mayor (The Griffin and the Dinosaur, National Geographic, 2014) realized that the original descriptions of the legendary griffin read like factual accounts. After 10 years of research, Mayor determined these referenced a fossilized skeleton of the beaked, four-legged Protoceratops.

New discoveries, new tools, and new perspectives constantly yield a new past—history is alive, coming into view right now. Reading about Dr. Gage’s discovery at Yale was a wonderful experience. It would be great to find more such treats on my computer after every school visit. In turn, I hope we can make sure that students see history as an adventure, a detective story, unfolding right now and not as a set of unyielding key points to be rehearsed and memorized for tests.

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LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YA Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:15:58 +0000 Sexual orientation is a big part of a teen’s identity and the protagonists in the latest books for young adults grapple with that complex question, including Alyssa Brugman’s Alex as Well, Samantha Hale’s Everything Changes, and an anthology of writings by teens from Harmony Ink Press. Also making waves are clever spins on timeless tales, including Sarah Cross’s Tear You Apart and Althea Kontis’s Dearest. And, horror masters Barry Lyga and R.L. Stine are joined by newcomer Courtney Alameda with her spine-tingling Shutter. The following works are sure to pique teens’ interest and keep them coming back for more.


Adrian, Susan. Tunnel Vision. 320p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Jan. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250047922; ebk. ISBN 9781250047915.

Gr 7 U –Jake Lukin has a secret talent: if he holds an object that belongs to a person, he can instantaneously “tunnel” to that person—envisioning them physically, pinpointing their location, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel. After Jake reveals his skill at a high school party, he quickly finds himself on the run from government agents who would harness his talents for their own purposes. This YA novel is a heart-racing thriller set at full throttle from the opening page, and it never decelerates. –Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL

alemeda LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAAlameda, Courtney. Shutter. 384p. ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250044679.

Gr 8 Up –A paranormal ghost-hunting story that is a standout in the genre. With the ability to see spiritual auras, Micheline and her tetrachromat crew are the fiercest cadets in the Helsing Corps, an organization with an illustrious history that specializes in dealing with the undead. However, when they aggressively enter a dangerous situation they are unable to control, each of them is infected with a soulchain that will turn deadly if they are unable to break it within seven days. Through detailed scientific processes that are richly explained, Alameda has created a unique world of ghosts, reapers, and exorcisms. Frightening from the first page, this novel is sure to please horror fans, particularly those familiar with ghost and vampire legends.–Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ

Bao, Karen. Dove Arising. 336p. (Dove Chronicles: Bk. 1). ebook available. Viking. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780451469014. LC 2013041198.

Gr 7 Up –Set on the Moon in the not-so-distant future, this series opener follows an introverted teenager who has spent her life working hard and obeying the rules of the Committee, the governing body of the Moon. Water has been scarce and money is tight, but Phaet and her mother always find a way to provide for her little brother and sister since Phaet’s father’s death nine years earlier. When the teen’s mother is quarantined, however, it is up to her to find a way to keep her family out of the filthy, poverty-stricken district known as “Shelter.” Though it means deferring her dream of studying to become a scientist, the protagonist decides to join the Moon’s Militia. Competition is fierce, and Phaet will need to work harder than ever before and learn everything she can from the top trainee, a quiet boy named Wes, who often seems more machine than human. Perceptive readers will recognize a burgeoning romance between the pair. Fans of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (Tor, 1985), Veronica Roth’s Divergent (HarperCollins, 2011) and Marie Lu’s Legend (Putnam, 2011) should flock to this well-written debut effort by 19-year-old Bao.–Liz Overberg, Darlington School, Rome, GA

Bliss, Bryan. No Parking at the End of Times. 272p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062275417.

Gr 8 Up –This haunting and elegiac tale opens with Abigail and her family living in a van parked on the San Francisco streets. Months earlier, Abby’s unemployed father took the family from their North Carolina home to follow “Brother John” across the country to a place where they would all meet the end of days together. The world was due to end at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Now it’s January, the world did not end, and Abby, her twin brother Aaron, and her parents still have no home. With no school to attend, Abby and Aaron’s only escape from the close confines of the van is the predatory self-anointed preacher’s “church” (an empty store). Abby wants to continue to be the good girl her parents expect and to protect her brother from getting mixed up in dangerous street drama, but most of all, she wants to go home. Bliss offers a stark portrayal of a family lost and a searing perspective on homelessness. An interesting choice for book discussion and recommended for readers of realistic fiction.–Tara Kehoe, New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton

brugman LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YABrugman, Alyssa. Alex As Well. 224p. Holt. Jan. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781627790147.

Gr 10 Up –Fifteen-year-old Alex Stringfellow has lived her entire life feeling like she’s two people, male and female. Though previously identified as male, Alex decides to begin living as a female. What Alex doesn’t know is that she was born intersex, and her parents had chosen not to tell her. To make her transition to living as a female easier, Alex enrolls in a new school where she quickly makes friends. While her adjustment is mostly smooth, Alex is concerned about how her friends will react if they find out she’s a lesbian or if they find out about her “noodle.” Her transition at home is less easy. After telling her parents, “I’m a girl,” Alex’s father leaves home and her mother struggles with Alex’s gender identity and often handles it with fits, abuse, and attempts to control her child. Brugman tackles a sensitive issue with grace and grit. The strong protagonist often acts with more maturity than her parents. This work is best suited for fans of problem novels, teens struggling with identity issues of all kinds, and readers looking for a good contemporary fiction title that has teeth.–Adrienne L. Strock, Teen Library Manager, Nashville Public Library

Carey, Janet Lee. In the Time of Dragon Moon. 480p. Penguin/Kathy Dawson Bks. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803738102; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101593851.

Gr 8 Up –Uma has always had difficulty finding acceptance within the Euit tribe in which she has grown up. Her father is the Adan, the Euit tribal healer, but her mother is an English midwife. Uma serves as her father’s apprentice and dreams of succeeding him as Adan one day, but Euit tribal law forbids a woman as a healer. When English soldiers invade the village and abduct her father, Uma is taken with him to the royal court at Pendragon Castle, where her father is commanded to provide a cure for the queen’s infertility on pain of death. When she becomes the queen’s designated healer, Uma is soon embroiled in deadly court intrigues involving dragons and the fey folk. Set in the same world as Carey’s Dragon’s Keep (Harcourt, 2007) and Dragonswood (Dial, 2012), this title can be read independently. The author’s world-building is detailed and fascinating, and Uma is a strong, admirable heroine.–Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ

All Fall Down 199x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YACarter, Ally. All Fall Down. 320p. (Embassy Row: Bk. 1). Scholastic. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545654746; ebk. ISBN 9780545654784.

Gr 8 Up –As she has been told repeatedly, Grace Blakely’s mother was killed in an unfortunate fire that destroyed the small antiques shop she owned. But Grace was there, and she remembers the gun, the bullet wound in her mother’s chest, a man with a facial scar, and an explosion just before the shop was engulfed in flames. After three years in treatment for post-traumatic stress, the 16-year-old has returned to where she spent her childhood. With her father constantly away on military missions, she’s once again living in the U.S. embassy in Adria, Italy, where her grandfather serves as ambassador. She knows everyone thinks she’s crazy, but the teen is determined to prove that her mother was murdered. As the ambassador’s granddaughter, she is expected to observe embassy protocol, but when she spots a man with the same facial scar she remembers from the antiques shop, her reaction threatens U.S. diplomatic relations with every country on Embassy Row, not to mention Adria itself. Grace’s justifiable anger and spunk are sure to resonate with teens. With its intrigue and clever plot twists, this series opener will leave readers hungering for more.–Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

Cross tear you apart 201x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YACross, Sarah. Tear You Apart. 384p. Egmont USA. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781606845912; ebk. ISBN 9781606845929.

Gr 8 Up –An otherworldly spin on the “Snow White” fairy tale and a companion novel to Kill Me Softly (Egmont USA, 2012). Seventeen-year-old Viv Deneuve is the Snow White figure in this tale. A dark-haired beauty with blood red lips, Viv is a sitting duck. If her jealous stepmother doesn’t poison her first, then her cursed boyfriend Henley is charged with hunting Viv down and cutting out her heart. Her only chance of survival is to stay as far away from Henley as possible, but that’s hard to do when she is desperately in love with him. When Viv is invited to an underworld club by the same prince who is supposed to break her curse, she wonders if she can leave Henley and her heart behind. But Prince Jasper isn’t Prince Charming. And once Viv enters the underworld, Jasper’s father isn’t going to let her go home. The protagonist decides to take her fate into her own hands. Cross deftly takes the all-too-familiar Disney fairy tale tropes (fair maiden, handsome prince) and turns them on their heads. These tales are dark and sinister (Viv worries her prince has a dead girl fetish) and filled with a diverse cast of characters. A great read for fans of the television show, Once Upon A Time.–Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ

Dickerson, Melanie. The Princess Spy. 304p. ebook available. Zondervan. 2014. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780310730989.

Gr 9 Up –It’s April 1413, and 18-year-old Margaretha, eldest daughter of Duke Wilhelm of Hagenheim, is reluctantly entertaining the pursuit of her latest suitor, Rowland Fortescue, Earl of Claybrook, when a handsome, severely injured stranger, Colin, arrives. The heroine is immediately drawn to the alluring young man and the daunting information he insists that he must share with her father—information that could put her and her entire family at risk, but could also save their lives. Talkative, sheltered, and carefree, Margaretha must undertake the task of spying on Lord Claybrook and his men to learn for herself if what Colin has warned her of is true and if so, how she can save her family from certain death. The story and the characters are believable, and the author seamlessly weaves details about this Holy Roman Empire village and courtly life, while maintaining the narrative’s even pace. An appropriate title for teens who enjoy princess-themed Christian romance.–Susan Harris, Ridgeway High School, TN

Doyle, Arthur Conan. A Study in Scarlet. illus. by Gris Grimly. 288p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062293756.

Gr 7 Up –A great way to introduce young adult readers to Sherlock Holmes. This unabridged version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1887 novel has been updated with Grimly’s signature dark and stylized illustrations. The artwork suits the sinister, bizarre nature of the tale—the characters have crazy, twisted hairstyles, super skinny necks, and are reminiscent of graphic-novel figures. Readers will quickly become absorbed in the story of the first time that Holmes meets his future partner Watson, who has just returned from an exhausting military stint in Afghanistan. Even though this mystery was originally published in a bygone era, the sinister plot will hook modern-day readers. Hand it to teens and expect them to come back for more literature from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.–Julie Shatterly, W. A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC

Dunn, Patricia. Rebels by Accident. 320p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. Dec. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781492601388.

Gr 9 Up –Miriam and her best friend Deanna land in jail following an ill-advised attempt to crash a party shortly before the police arrived. Egyptian American Miriam, always kept on a tight leash by her parents, is convinced her life will end following the party incident. Instead, she’s handed a worse fate; her irate parents send her to Egypt to live with her notoriously strict Sittu (grandmother). Deanna’s mother decides that she should go, too, so they are promptly shipped off together. Sittu, however, strikes little resemblance to the harsh woman described by Miriam’s father and clearly has a few secrets up her sleeve, as they begin to suspect her online activities have something to do with the civil unrest bubbling up around them. Miriam and Deanna’s trip coincides with the dawn of the Arab Spring on the eve of the protests in Tahrir Square. Miriam’s growing self-awareness and reluctant connection to her Egyptian identity and Sittu are the primary focus. A sweet coming-of-age tale that sheds light on the plight of anyone who feels like an outsider.–Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

playlist for the dead 198x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAFalkoff, Michelle. Playlist for the Dead. 288p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062310507; ebk. ISBN 9780062310521.

Gr 9 Up –Accustomed to operating outside of the major social scene, Sam is disappointed when a rare party he attends is ruined by a fight with his best friend, Hayden. Disappointment fades quickly when he discovers that Hayden killed himself afterward. Rocked by the tragedy, Sam is left puzzling over tracks that his friend left for a playlist and struggling to figure out who he is without Hayden around. Despite the heavy subject matter, the overall tone of the book is less somber than the title would indicate, and it is a quick, engaging read. Falkoff nails the war-zone mentality and painful symbiosis of high school friendships. The mixture of grief, anger, and guilt that Sam works through is realistic and well written, and his reactions to Hayden’s music choices further illuminates not only his struggle but also how their friendship was beginning to change. The strong characters, dialogue and the use of the playlist to structure the book make this a good pick for struggling readers. Hand this to fans of the movie Superbad and Spotify-obsessives.–Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, NJ

Feinstein, John. The Walk On. 368p. (Triple Threat: Bk. 1). Knopf. 2014. lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385753470; Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385753463; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385753487. LC 2013044495.

Gr 6 Up –This book begins with freshman Alex Myers, a new transplant to Chester Heights, PA, at varsity football tryouts where he meets fellow newbie, Jonas Ellington. Unbelievably, both are superior to the upperclassmen in their positions, quarterback for Alex and wideout for Jonas. Dictated by the quest for another State Championship, and the subsequent scholarship offers for upperclassmen, high school football politics kick in, and Alex finds himself playing backup behind two lesser quarterbacks. The starting quarterback, who happens to be Head Coach Gordon’s son, quickly honors Alex with the nickname “Goldie” in recognition of Alex’s faultless throwing arm. While most of the school blindly cheers the dictates of Coach Gordon, the school newspaper is a breeding ground of investigative reporters, one being freshman Christine Whitford. Football action on the field, suspicious events off the field, combined with modern dilemmas faced by both teen and adult characters, make this coming-of-age story a page-turner for all mystery and sports fans. Feinstein’s latest is an excellent addition to sports-fiction collections.–Sharon Lawler, Texas Bluebonnet Award Committee

Ford, John C. The Cipher. 320p. ebook available. Viking. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670015429.

Gr 9 Up –Robert “Smiles” Smylie is a slacker who barely gets by in life. He is surrounded by geniuses–from his father, who invented a key encryption code used by every secure website in the world, to Ben, his best friend who is convinced he has solved The Riemann Hypothesis, a virtually unsolvable mathematical principle involving prime numbers. Smiles tries to prove his worth by accompanying Ben to a conference where he hopes to show his father that he is truly worth something. When Ben gets kidnapped by people who don’t want his work to see the light of day, Smiles must use his intellect and street smarts to help his friend, potentially changing the world in the process. Ford has written a unique story involving dense mathematics principles and makes them accessible to a young audience. The thriller aspects of the story are exciting and keep the pages turning. The design of the book enhances the experience; the chapter numbers, for example, are all prime numbers. The Cipher is an exciting tale with a twist ending that teens will enjoy.–Christopher Lassen, Brooklyn Public Library

Forman i was here 199x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAForman, Gayle. I Was Here. 288p. Viking. Jan. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780451471475; ebk. ISBN 9780698170544.

Gr 9 Up –Cody and Meg have been inseparable since childhood. They planned to leave their small town in Washington and move to Seattle to go to college, but that changed when Meg got a full scholarship to a small, prestigious private college in Tacoma, WA. Having no scholarships or money saved, Cody is now stuck in town, cleaning houses to have a little bit of money to give to her mom toward living expenses and to take a couple classes at the local community college. Those classes have gone by the wayside, though, since news came of Meg’s suicide. Meticulously planned, her former best friend ordered a poison that had a high fatality rate, and sent emails to friends and family on a timed delay so that no one could interfere with her fatal decision. Cody struggles to figure out why Meg took her own life and puzzles over a suspicious line in her friend’s suicide email. The distraught but determined teen begins to encrypt files on Meg’s laptop, which lead her to a suicide support group and posts from All_BS, a Pied Piper–type character who encourages suicide as a way out. As she goes further down the rabbit hole, Cody comes to the realization that she needs to forgive Meg, and, more importantly, herself. Teens will clamor for this latest offering from the author of If I Stay (Dutton, 2009). Have multiple copies in your collection.–Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL

Gibbons, Faye. Halley. 208p. NewSouth. 2014. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781588382900; ebk. ISBN 9781603063289. LC 2014933020.

Gr 7 Up –As this historical novel opens, the title character, a 14-year-old girl living in the mountains of Georgia, is recording her father’s recent death in the family bible. After this sad start, things only get harder for Halley, her younger brother, and their mother Kate. They move in with Kate’s parents: a cruel preacher, his put-upon wife, and their youngest son. Kate takes a dangerous job at the local mill, while every action Halley tries to improve their lot—taking on sewing jobs to raise money to buy a gravestone for her father, trying to get accepted to a boarding school for farmers’ children—is thwarted by her vicious grandfather. He steals her savings, whips her brother, intercepts her mail, and tries to stop his children from marrying the people they love. Gibbons perfectly captures the cadences of Georgia hill country speech; it is rhythmic and lovely, even when the characters are speaking of hard, rough things. The plot is compelling as the author adeptly covers loss, coming of age, and small-town attitudes and values without sugarcoating. Gibbons expertly depicts the complexity in “simple” mountain life. With shades of Richard Peck in this novel’s DNA, Gibbons’s tale features a strong and unique voice.–Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT

hale everything changes 200x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAHale, Samantha. Everything Changes. 264p. Bold Strokes/Soliloquy. 2014. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781626393035.

Gr 9 Up –For several months, 17-year-old Raven has become increasingly aware that she is not attracted to boys. No member of the opposite sex has ever caused her heart to flutter. Then Raven meets Morgan, an art student at a nearby college, and she experiences fireworks for the first time. When the older girl offers to help Raven prepare for her art history midterm, she accepts the offer. The tutoring session concludes with Raven giving Morgan an awkward kiss, and the two later express their mutual attraction. Morgan, who is openly gay, offers patience and reassurance to the teen, agreeing to keep their relationship secret until she feels comfortable telling others. Raven discovers that in order to live her life, she must be honest with everyone about her sexual orientation. Readers will feel Raven’s anguish as she wonders if the comfort and pleasure of acceptance from family and friends will evaporate once she opens up to them. Hale’s novel will be enjoyed by all teens, but especially those experiencing life decisions similar to Raven’s. An honest and sympathetic portrayal of coming to terms with one’s sexual identity.–Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State University, NH

hand the last time 200x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAHand, Cynthia. The Last Time We Say Goodbye. 400p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062318473.

Gr 8 Up –For Lex, since her brother committed suicide, questions about their last goodbye have haunted her. Filled with regret, she ponders their last words and not being able to show him how much she loved him while he was still alive. The narrative unravels in perfect pacing, drawing readers into this emotional story. With a rocky home life in a small town in Nebraska, Lex begins pulling away from her friends, breaks up with her boyfriend, and struggles with life in general. When her therapist, Dave, assigns her the task of writing down her thoughts in a journal, flashbacks of the siblings’ relationship and the protagonist’s interactions with their parents fill in the gaps. Raw, emotional, and gripping, this book is Hand’s first realistic fiction title, and fans of her popular “Unearthly” series (HarperCollins) will follow her genre change willingly. An excellent and thoughtful exploration of grief.–Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom Public Library, MI

HarmoniousHeartsFS LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAHarmonious Hearts: A Harmony Ink Press Anthology. 294p. Harmony Ink. 2014. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781632161864; ebk. $6.99. ISBN 9781632161888.

Gr 9 Up –In the publisher’s first Young Author Challenge anthology, the authors of these LGBTQ short stories range in age from 16 to 21. The stories share common themes of hope, love, acceptance, and happiness. The entries include many genres, such as fairy tales, the supernatural, science fiction, fantasy, and realism. Standouts include “Tess” by Becca Ehlers. Here, girlfriends Sam and Tess reassess their relationship when Sam, who is not yet ready to be out, heads to New York for college. In “Paranormal Honor Society” by Leigh Taylor, Andi, who prefers the pronouns “ze” and “hir” and calls hirself “gender fluid,” starts a new school and is immediately embraced by the paranormal club. The teenagers work to solve the mystery of who has been killing women in their town, certain something supernatural must be behind the deaths. Some club members wonder if Andi could be the murderer, though as one humorously points out, “You’re confusing gender fluidity with werewolves again.” Other narratives cover coming out, opposites attracting, careless insults, a wish granted, and a boy who never speaks. What the selections may lack in sophistication, they more than make up for in spirit in this wonderfully diverse collection.–Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Apollo High School Library, St. Cloud, MN

Holmes, Kathryn. The Distance Between Lost and Found. 320p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062317261.

Gr 7 Up –When high school sophomore Hallelujah attends a church camping trip in the Great Smoky Mountains, she does not expect much. Over the past few months, her life has been reduced to a series of negatives. She used to have friends. She used to be confident. She used to sing. She used to be good friends with Jonah. She used to have faith in God. Now she is sad, quiet, insecure, and lonely thanks to the ruthless slandering and bullying campaign headed by the handsome and seemingly perfect preacher’s son, Luke. When Hallelujah, Jonah, and another girl, Rachel, become separated from the group while hiking, the trio become lost. As hours pass and then days, the teens find that staying alive is only part of their struggle. In addition to the cold weather, torrential rain, hunger, and sundry health crises, the characters deal with a host of emotions involving their pasts—guilt, resentment, fear, forgiveness, hate, and love. This is a perfectly balanced novel wherein the heroine wrestles with survival of not just her body but of her spirit as well.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

Girl Defective 195x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAHowell, Simmone. Girl Defective. photos by Henry Beer. 320p. ebook available. S. & S./Atheneum. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442497603.

Gr 9 Up –Australian author Howell brings stateside her intriguing story of a coming-of-age summer for 15-year-old Skylark Martin. The teen lives above the family record store in a small Melbourne suburb with her home-brewing, stuck-in-the-past father, and endearing younger brother, Gully, whose social issues have manifested as an obsession with being a detective and near-permanent wearing of a pig-snout mask. Sky is blunt in her depictions of them and her mother, who left the family to reinvent herself as performance artist Galaxy Strobe. Flawed but likable Sky is drawn to the 19-year-old, enigmatic, worldly Nancy, who introduces her both to recreational drugs and underground parties. There’s an element of mystery to the story, with posters around town of a girl who died and has some connection to both those parties and the record store’s attractive new hire, Luke. But while Nancy is outrunning her past, and Luke seeks to make sense of his own, Sky finds a future that holds some promise. Howell’s writing is engaging and well suited to the pacing of the story, and the Aussie references are part of the charm.–Amanda Mastrull, Library Journal

Kantor, Melissa. Better Than Perfect. 336p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062279231.

Gr 9 Up –Juliet has a charmed life. She is a high school senior with a perfect family, boyfriend, and most likely a perfect score on her SATs. Juliet wants to go to Harvard and has the perfect plan to achieve her goals. Then a bomb goes off in the teen’s life. Her father moves out, and her mother ends up in psychiatric hospital. Then the protagonist meets the less-than-perfect Declan, whose family encourages her to join their band. Spending time with Declan and the band has Juliet questioning her life choices. Perhaps there is a future for her that is “better than perfect. Kantor poignantly captures what a broken marriage can do to the whole family. The characters are well developed, and readers experience Juliet’s pain as she realizes her parents’ fallibility. The narrative skillfully reflects the protagonist’s ups and downs.–Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TX

Khoury, Jessica. Kalahari. 368p. ebook available. Penguin/Razorbill. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595147653.

Gr 9 Up –Having grown up traveling the world with her zoologist parents, Sarah doesn’t have many friends that are human, let alone her own age. Now her mom is dead and it’s just Sarah, her father, and their research assistant Theo camped in the middle of the Kalahari. Enter Avani, Joey, Sam, Miranda, and Kase, five teenagers signed up for an educational safari led by the teen’s father. But when he and Theo leave the others on the first night in pursuit of dangerous poachers and never return, Sarah is left to keep herself and the visitors safe while simultaneously searching the desert for her dad and Theo. It doesn’t take long for the group to discover that they are dealing with something far bigger than poachers as they come across a silver lion and a murdered Theo. They become the prey after they discover a top-secret laboratory that has unleashed a deadly virus. Khoury’s latest novel is enthralling and filled with suspense, taking readers on a roller-coaster ride. This story is a entertaining and will capture teens’ attention.–Betsy Davison, Cortland Free Library, NY

kontis dearest 199x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAKontis, Alethea. Dearest. 288p. (Woodcutter Sisters: Bk. 3). ebook available. Houghton Harcourt. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544074071. LC 2014000737.

Gr 7 Up –Kontis continues to artfully interweave fairy-tale plots and nursery-rhyme references, as Friday (who is, true to form, loving and giving) sews patchwork outfits and tends to the refugee children in the kingdom of Arilland, now ruled by Sunday and ex-frog Rumbold. While investigating a tower, she almost falls into the sea, rescued from certain death by seven swans, who can return to their human forms only at night. One swan in particular, Tristan, captures her heart, and with the help of Rampion (an enchanted servant and sister to the swans) and others, Friday sets out to break the spell and save Arilland from destruction by the evil Mordant, Gana, and the Infidel. Readers will enjoy spotting storybook references from many sources (helpers named Wendy, John, and Michael; a town called Hammelyn). Magical adventure, occasional humor, and moments of gentle romance make this a good choice for younger to mid-teen readers.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

Laurie, Victoria. When. 336p. Disney-Hyperion. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484700082.

Gr 9 Up –Maddie has always seen the date people will die, but does not realize what she is seeing until one day, in first grade, her father is killed on a date she told him about two years prior. The tragedy sends Maddie’s life spinning out of control: her mother can no longer function without alcohol, they leave the city to live in a small community, Maddie’s ability challenges her facility to make friends, and her mother cannot hold down a job. They survive on her father’s wrongful death settlement. Maddie, now 16, also makes ends meet by charging a small fee to tell people their death dates. A mother comes for a reading for her youngest son, but Maddie notices that the woman’s older son will die in a week instead. When the older boy goes missing a week later, FBI agents show up at the protagonist’s school because they suspect Maddie and her best friend, Stubby, of foul play. The plot is filled with false turns, which will keep readers engaged until the surprising ending.–Lisa Nabel, Dayton Metro Library, OH

Number7 194x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YALidh, Jessica. The Number 7. 272p. Adams Media/Merit. Dec. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440583063; ebk. ISBN 9781440583070.

Gr 7 Up –Louisa and her sister are brought to Pennsylvania by their widowed father to live in the home of his once-estranged, now-deceased parents. Louisa soon begins receiving calls from her dead grandmother through an old telephone in the attic. The calls share family secrets and events that took place in Sweden during World War II. It is through these phone calls that the narrative jumps between present day to the past. Louisa is a sweet-natured, somewhat introspective teenager who is still grieving from the loss of her mother, trying to figure out how to open up to her father and sister. She is in the center of a fairly innocent love triangle and is well adjusted to the idea of her father dating someone new. The main character of the historical sections, Gerhard (Louisa’s grandfather), is fleshed out, and the tension in those historical chapters builds well. He is only slightly older than Louisa’s 16 years, and the severity his circumstances versus her “which-boy-to-choose” situations eventually hits home for her. The story is interesting and highlights a part of World War II history that isn’t often addressed. Strengths include a light romance, some interesting historical references, and strong pacing.–Heather Massa, East Rockaway Public Library, NY

Blood of My Blood 198x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YALyga, Barry. Blood of My Blood. 480p. (I Hunt Killers: Bk. 3). ebook available. Little, Brown. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316198707. LC 2014003643.

Gr 9 Up –Jasper “Jazz” Dent is locked in a storage locker with two dead bodies, trying to nurse his own bullet wound in the dim light of a fading cellphone. Picking up (without pause) from the cliff-hanger ending in Game (2013), Lyga’s series about the 17-year-old son of escaped killer Billy Dent continues as he tries to aid the police in his father’s recapture. Unaware that his girlfriend Connie has been lured by Billy to a Brooklyn tenement house and imprisoned with Jazz’s mother, and that his hemophiliac friend, Howie, has been attacked, Jazz faces his demons alone—including repressed memories with sexual undertones, and the creepy voice of Billy educating his son on the acumen required to be a good serial killer (appearing in italics). The worrisome genetic factor plagues Jazz yet propels him in the right direction to foil some copycat killers and elude authorities long enough to solve his own life’s mysteries. Obstructing the law, the teen follows clues that take him back home to Lobo’s Nod for the chilling climax and surprise ending, despite red herrings thrown in the readers’ path at every turn. As a trilogy wrap-up, this gory winner with raw appeal requires having read the first two titles.–Vicki Reutter, State University of New York at Cortland

Napoli, Donna Jo. Hidden. 384p. bibliog. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Dec. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442483002.

Gr 7 Up –Readers who enjoyed Donna Jo Napoli’s Hush (S. & S., 2007) and wondered about the fate of eight-year-old Brigid finally have their answers. The author uses her amazing ability to find the bare bones of an old story and flesh them out into a rich, living tale. This time, it is the story of Alfhild, feared female pirate of 10th-century Norse lore. Brigid survives her plunge into icy waters when escaping the slave ship she and her sister Melkorka were aboard. Upon realizing that Mel did not escape with her, she is determined to find her sister, no matter the long odds. But how to find one beautiful slave girl possibly traded anywhere in Europe? Brigid, or Alfhild as she comes to be called, ponders this question as she learns, grows, and thrives. Brigid is a fictional character but Alfhild is an actual historical figure—this blending to fit a historical framework produces continued good fortune, which lends the work a folktale feel at times. Napoli seamlessly weaves cultural, mythological, and historical information together, immersing the readers in Norse life.–Lisa Crandall, formerly at the Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI

Nichols, Amy K. Now That You’re Here. 304p. (Duplexity: Bk. 1). Knopf. Dec. 2014. lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385753906; Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385753890; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385753913.

Gr 7 Up –Danny Ogden was trying to blend in with the crowd before he was jolted from his universe to that of Eevee Solomon’s. Lucky for Danny, Eevee is intrigued by this sudden change in demeanor and personality from the Danny she knew. She enlists the help of her best friend Warren and together—with the help of their physics teacher —the three explore the scientific explanations for Danny’s universe jumping. Danny and Eevee develop feelings for each other and when they arrive at a possible answer, they have to come to terms with what might happen if Danny stays or goes. This science-fiction tale takes place almost entirely in present day. Its short chapters in alternating voices lends it a quick pace. Eevee is a strong lead—smart, grounded despite her parent’s divorce, and secure with her strongest friendship. Although we never get to know the Danny originally in Eevee’s universe, the parallel Danny is empathetic, thoughtful, and very trusting considering what had just happened to him. Nichols adeptly simplifies the complex concepts of string theory and parallel universes without condescending to readers. The short chapters develop into a mystery set against a sweet romance that will envelop teens. –Stephanie DeVincentis, Downers Grove North High School, IL

oliver vanishing girls 198x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAOliver, Lauren. Vanishing Girls. 368p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. Mar. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062224101.

Gr 9 Up –Different as night and day, sisters Nick and Dara are practically joined at the hip. Nick is perpetually the cool and calm older one who calls the shots. Dara is always tagging along, longing to be in the spotlight. That was before the accident that left Dara injured and Nick shaken to the core. Now, the siblings barely speak to each other; they live together but never cross paths. Nick gets a job at a local amusement park and begins to interact with people again, mostly with her longtime best friend, but also with her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Parker. As the summer continues, a young local girl goes missing and Nick finds herself getting more involved with the ensuing drama than she ever expected. Oliver’s characterizations and background stories are well-developed and compulsively readable. The relationship between Nick and Dara drives the plot and is very realistic. The twist the author incorporates at the end is dramatic without being absurd and was completely unexpected. Recommend to teens looking for a well-written work with a juicy ending. They will not be disappointed.–Morgan Brickey, Marion County Public Library System, FL

Payne, Mary Jennifer. Since You’ve Been Gone. 216p. Dundurn. Feb. 2015. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781459728189.

Gr 8 Up –Fifteen-year-old Edie is no stranger to starting over. She and her mother have been evading her abusive father for longer than she cares to remember. This time however, things are different. Edie doesn’t just have to move to a new town and make new friends. She is forced to relocate to London, leaving her beloved cat behind at a moment’s notice. As if adjusting to a new country weren’t enough of a challenge, Edie finds herself at the center of a missing person case when her mother does not return home from her new job. With the help of unlikely ally and romantic prospect Jermaine, Edie’s search for her mother takes her all over the city. It is on this journey that she realizes it’s time to stop running and start living. This realistic novel is a quick read abd readers will enjoy this fast-paced sojourn through London. For fans of Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes (HarperCollins, 2005).–Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR

Salisbury, Melinda. The Sin Eater’s Daughter. 320p. Scholastic. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545810623; ebk. ISBN 9780545819732.

Gr 7 Up –Seventeen-year-old Twylla has a gift and a curse as the embodiment of a goddess on Earth: she is worshipped and she can kill men in seconds with the briefest of touches. Twylla’s mother is a Sin Eater, one who eats symbolic foods of the deceased person’s sins at their grave site; Twylla is set to pursue this path until the Queen of Lormere takes her from her home to become the goddess Daunen Embodied. Every month, the teen ingests a poisonous substance that reinforces her position as the goddess’s personification and the kingdom’s executioner, and every month Twylla becomes more isolated. Her only hope of escape lies with her future marriage to Lormere’s prince, Merek. Possible deliverance comes in the form of a new guard who joins her service—Lief is different from the others. As the protagonist grows closer to Merek and Lief, she becomes more aware of how truly trapped she is in her role with the Queen—and how much she will have to sacrifice to break free. Salisbury’s luscious world-building and mythology make this fantasy a worthy read. Twylla is strong and sensible, and teen fans of royal intrigue titles will be rooting for her.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

Santopolo, Jill. Love on the Lifts. 272p. (Follow Your Heart). Penguin/Speak. Jan. 2015. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780147510938.

Gr 7-10 –Your boyfriend was just caught kissing another girl. But you get to escape the embarrassment and post-breakup social slump by traveling with your family on an annual trip to the Galaxy Ski Resort. Your older and more experienced sister, Angie, has hatched a plan to help you get over your philandering boyfriend in less than a week: fall in love on the lifts or, at the very least, kiss a boy. As soon as you accept the plan as exactly the remedy your broken heart needs, Angie is plowed over by a skier and you have some choices to make. Should you stick with your sister while she recovers from her minor injuries or should you choose from one of the 11 different boys who could be a new romance? In this “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure”–style book, readers gets to select the path of the story by making decisions at various points in the plot’s development. This is a quick, breezy tale with with very light character development. The interactive format is the true attention-grabber.–Lynn Rashid, Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, MD

smith big game LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YASmith, Daniel. Big Game. 272p. Scholastic/Chicken House. Mar. 2015. pap. $6.99. ISBN 9780545766357; ebk. $6.99. ISBN 9780545766364.
Gr 6 Up –In Oskari’s Finnish mountain village there is a tradition known as the Trial. On the eve of a boy’s 13th birthday he spends the night on the mountain. Whatever game he brings back indicates the kind of man he’ll be. Oskari’s father, a fearless hunter, brought back a bear when he was just 13. Oskari is small and doesn’t even have the strength to fully draw back the string of the traditional bow in order to shoot an arrow straight. Everyone in the village, including Oskari himself, doubts that he will be able to kill anything. While on his Trial, Oskari comes across a strange metal pod in the woods. Out of it emerges the President of the United States whose plane, Air Force One, has just been shot out of the sky. The president’s would-be assassins are hunting him and, by association, Oskari as well. It soon becomes clear that Oskari’s mission is not to hunt and kill, but rather to use his knowledge of the wilderness to save the president. Initially the assassins appear to be terrorists, but Oskari and the president soon learn that the nefarious plan is far more complicated and insidious. This fast-paced page-turner will appeal to fans of action-packed plots and is recommended for reluctant readers.–Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY

Shepherd, Megan. A Cold Legacy. 400p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062128089; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062128102.

Gr 9 Up –The final volume of the “Madman’s Daughter” series (HarperCollins) accomplishes something too often lacking in trilogies—a third volume that is as compelling and well-written as the first installment. In this entry inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Juliet, Lucy, Montgomery, Balthazar, and Edward have escaped from their pursuers to the Scottish estate of Juliet’s friend and benefactor, Elizabeth von Stein. They find the isolated estate inhabited by a number of young women and girls, “wards” of Elizabeth, and one very strange male child named Hensley, Elizabeth’s son. Juliet also discovers that the secrets of the rich woman’s ancestor Victor Frankenstein have been preserved by the family, and with no legitimate heirs, Juliet has been chosen to receive the knowledge of “Perpetual Anatomy.” In addition to the outer turmoil, Juliet continues to worry whether or not as her father’s daughter she, too, has the “madness” gene. The skillfully drawn and well-developed characters face their emotional upheavals and outside dangers with aplomb. Fast-paced and romantic, this page-turning volume results in mixed emotions—contentment with the ending, but still a desire for more.–Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas

Stetz-Waters, Karelia. Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before. 304p. Ooligan Pr. Nov. 2014. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781932010732.

Gr 10 Up –It’s 1989, and the state of Oregon is attempting to pass legislation against gays, and Triinu Hoffman’s high school principal makes no secret about how he feels on the issue. The teen knows she is a lesbian, understands that she might be up for a challenge. Classmate Pip Weston has bullied her for years, but she doesn’t let that stop her from continuing to discover who she is. The principal does not make it easy for Triinu and neither do the girls she encounters in her quest for companionship. This is a true coming-of-age novel that is open and honest as relationships develop between Triinu and several love interests. High schools will not be able to keep this book on the shelves as it intertwines a variety of issues and challenges that teens endure. There are some sex scenes as the protagonist develops relationships with different young women and strong language that is organic to the situations in which they occur. A good discussion starter for mature teens.–Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI

Blue Lily Lily Blue 198x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAStiefvater, Maggie. Blue Lily, Lily Blue. 400p. (The Raven Cycle: Bk. 3). Scholastic. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545424967; ebk. ISBN 9780545662901.

Gr 9 Up –Having inhaled the first two installments in this thrilling series about four Virginia schoolboys on a quest to find a legendary Welsh king, teens will be anxious to see where Stiefvater next leads Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. The volume picks up directly after The Dream Thieves (Scholastic, 2013) and the quest takes some bizarre and dangerous twists. Blue Sargent and the psychically talented women of 300 Fox Way take center stage this time. Blue’s mother Maura has disappeared, and it’s not immediately clear if she wants to be found. Despite the fact that “time and space were bathtubs that Maura splashed in,” Blue and Mr. Gray, Maura’s ex-hitman boyfriend, begin to think she’s underground and in trouble. Informed by several mystical and live sources that there are three ancient sleepers in the nearby mountain caves, one of which is not to be awakened, the young people are hurled toward a subterranean encounter of the weirdest kind. Throughout, the prose is crisp and dazzling and the dialogue positively crackles. Blue and the Raven Boys come into their own over the course of the novel and realize their individual strengths and the power of their collective bonds, making them unstoppable. –Luann Toth, School Library Journal

stine party games 199x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAStine, R.L. Party Games: A Fear Street Novel. 288p. ebook available. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250051615.

Gr 9 Up –Lurking on Fear Street are many more page-turning (albeit formulaic) horrors from the beloved author. This first installment of the revamped series has the classic Stine recipe: told from one character’s point of view in a linear chronology, with a focus on plot over character or context development. Each chapter is a cliff-hanger and readers can anticipate the type of scare they’re in for—until the final twist. The novel is written from the perspective of contemporary teenager Rachel, who is delighted to be invited to her crush Brendan Fear’s birthday party on his remote private island. The cursed Fear family and has a terrifying reputation, and when teenagers start being murdered at Brendan’s party, it seems the curse is becoming a reality. The simple language and horror themes will appeal to many readers, including reluctant ones. A volume that proves why Stine’s books endure.–Lisa Nowlain, Darien Library, CT

Stirling, Tricia. When My Heart Was Wicked. 192p. Scholastic. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545695732; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545695756.

Gr 9 Up –Debut novelist Stirling has written a delightfully dark and twisty story for those who never quite outgrew fairy tales. Removed from the custody of her abusive, dysfunctional mother when she was 13 years old, Lacy has spent the past three years with her loving father and free-spirited stepmother. But following the death of her father to prostate cancer, her mother, Cheyenne, insists that Lacy leaves her stepmother’s home in Chico and moves to Sacramento with her. Adding to the stress of going to a new school and making new friends, Lacy grows increasingly aware that something is very wrong with her mother and that she, herself, is being pulled into darkness. This enigmatic novel will keep readers guessing from the first page to the last. No clear answers will frustrate and delight readers. Stirling is an author to watch.–Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

Thorne, Bella with Elise Allen. Autumn Falls. 224p. Delacorte. Nov. 2014. lib. ed. $21.99. ISBN 9780375991615; Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780385744331; ebk. ISBN 9780385385237.

Gr 7 Up –At the start of this realistic novel by the Disney Channel actress, Autumn Falls’s father dies in a car accident. Already planning to move to Aventura, Florida to take care of Eddy, their grandmother, the grieving family settles in the quiet town. Switching to a new school gets even harder for Autumn, when on her first day at Aventura High, her brother runs his skycam into her, which leaves a giant bump on her forehead. Someone takes a photo and posts it on the student portal. The pranks continue to make her adjustment period difficult. Autumn begins to write in a journal that Eddy gave her, and magical things occur. Every time the protagonist writes “I wish” in her journal, she receives her wish, just not always how she expects it. A feel-good book with believable and well-developed characters and an evenly paced plot. Its discussion of bullying, death, friendship, and family makes it a timely and resonant read.–Jesten Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA

tomp my best everything LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YATOMP, Sarah. My Best Everything. 400p. Little, Brown. Mar. 2015. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316324786; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316324762. LC 2013039870.

Gr 9 Up –Luisa “Lulu” Mendez dreams of leaving her dead-end small town behind. She cannot wait to immerse herself in the University of San Diego’s biochemistry program in the fall. So she is devastated when her dad admits that he has lost her college funds in a bad investment. Lulu is determined to make her college dreams a reality, and when a confiscated distillery turns up at the junkyard where she and her best friend work, she sees it as a bit of serendipitous luck. Although Lulu is not a party girl, she is aware that the moonshine business, illegal or not, is still thriving in the rural mountains of Virginia. Roni and Bucky do not take much convincing to go along with her plan—some extra cash will hurry her friends’ wedding date along—and through some creative paperwork, the still disappears from the impound lot where it sits awaiting a trial. Lulu has recently met Mason Malone, whose family wealth comes from generations of “shining.” There’s an instant attraction between the two, and although Mason is a recovering alcoholic who has sworn off the family business, he reluctantly agrees to share his knowledge with the three 18-year-olds so that they can operate the still without blowing themselves up. Lulu narrates the story in second-person, as a confessional of sorts to Mason, and readers will race to turn the pages as it becomes apparent that Lulu’s gamble may result in the destruction of the people she cares about the most. A wholly original and most satisfying debut.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

Van Diepen, Allison. On The Edge. 304p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Dec. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062303448; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062303462.

Gr 9 Up –College-bound Maddie finds herself in the middle of a dangerous gang war after witnessing the murder of a homeless man. With a target on her back, she is unexpectedly defended by an underground gang and in the midst of it all begins to fall for their mysterious leader, Lobo. As their relationship heats up so does the danger, and Maddie becomes an essential piece to bringing down a gang-run human trafficking ring. While the relationship between Maddie and Lobo is the focus of the story, the thriller-type subplot set in the Miami underbelly steals the show. The sometimes violent, always gripping action of a vigilante underground gang rescuing trafficked girls keeps the pace moving and the tone from becoming saccharine. The menace of this dark world is a nice foil to the unexpectedly sweet development of young love, and adds a desperation and sense of urgency to their romance. The friendship between Maddie and her friends is especially multifaceted, and readers will appreciate the honest examination of the complex emotions of friendship as they learn to allow their relationship to evolve while facing big life changes. The struggle of the characters to do right at all costs will resonate with teens.–Sarah Townsend, Norfolk Public Library, VA

waltman slump 208x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAWaltman, Kevin. Slump. 304p. (D-Bow’s High School Hoops: Bk. 2). Cinco Puntos. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781941026007; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781941026014; ebk. ISBN 9781941026021. LC 2013026452.

Gr 8 Up –In this follow-up to Next (Cinco Puntos, 2013), basketball star D-Bow enters his sophomore year, and the dreaded slump that goes with it. Girl problems and concerns about his dad’s health keep him distracted, making it difficult for him to take the leadership position that his status as starting point guard would typically demand. In the end, D-Bow makes good decisions and learns how to be a team player. While the protagonist makes typical teen mistakes, he listens to the adults in his life and learns from his errors. His relationship with his coaches is particularly well drawn. Fans already engaged in D-Bow’s story will find the same strong characters and fast-paced basketball action they enjoyed in the first book. Readers will be left wondering what will await D-Bow in his junior year, as he begins to be recruited by colleges. This series will be a great addition to any collection that needs more YA sports-themed books.–Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

West, Carly Anne. The Bargaining. 416p. ebook available. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442441828.

Gr 8 Up –After fights at school and the accidental death of her best friend (and worst enemy), Penny needs some time away, or at least her parents think she does. The teen’s mom dumps her two states away with her dad and stepmom, April. April has a grand plan to renovate an old house in some remote woods over the summer and expects Penny to go with her. While it’s not an ideal situation, Penny goes along with it only to discover that things are not as they seem in the North Woods. No one willingly sets foot in the area and Penny is sure she hears voices and laughter and she keeps seeing things. A pervading sense of creepiness drives this book. The scary parts are truly terrifying, akin to old school Stephen King novels, not to be read before bedtime. Give to teens who claim they aren’t afraid of things that go bump in the night.–Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH

yancey infinite sea 225x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAYancey, Rick. The Infinite Sea. 320p. Putnam. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399162428; ebk. ISBN 9781101599013. LC 2014022058.

Gr 9 Up –The majority of the first-person narration in this second book in “The 5th Wave” series (Putnam) shifts between Ringer, a beautiful teen with deadly aim, and tough-but-tender Cassie, who thought she was the lone surviving human. A third-person viewpoint is used for Evan, an alien who has shifted his allegiance in the face of true love and Ben (Zombie), badly injured but still in command of the ragtag paramilitary group of creatively nicknamed children and teens. The action springs back and forth in place and time as readers learn why Poundcake no longer speaks, how Evan is related to super-strong Grace, and why chess is important to Ringer. Yancey keeps the pressure on, as Cassie and Ben seek to protect the younger humans and outsmart the devious Silencers. Ringer struggles to maintain her humanity in the face of nanotechnology and Evan struggles with turning his back on what his species has been working toward for thousands of years. Yancey’s writing will keep action-craving readers enthralled. With a 5th Wave movie in the works, and alien questions left unanswered, expect readers to be interested in this series for the foreseeable future.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

Graphic Novels

Ashihara, Daisuke. World Trigger. Vol 1. 192p. VIZ Media. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781421577647.

Gr 7 Up –A gate to another world has opened in Mikado City from which invaders from another dimension attacked, causing a defense group called Border to fight back. Osamu Mikumo, a Mikado City high schooler, is a member of the Border defense, but hides this secret identity from others. New transfer student Yuma Kuga is has even bigger secrets of his own. The two boys form an unlikely friendship that has far-reaching implications for the future. This is an exciting manga with a lot of physical and psychological action, including battles against gigantic monsters, tension between members of Border, and the constant threat of secrets being exposed. Ashihara’s artwork is very dynamic, particularly in action sequences when the movement affects the size and shape of the panels. During these scenes, panels jut out and overlap at crazy angles, heightening the narrative’s pace. A thought-provoking start to a series that manga fans will snatch up quickly.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

SLJ1411w GN Davis MotherlessOven 214x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YADavis, Rob. The Motherless Oven. illus. by Rob Davis. 160p. SelfMadeHero. 2014. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781906838812.

Gr 9 Up –In a bizarre, topsy-turvy world where children make parents, and knives rain from the sky, Scarper Lee’s deathday looms before him like a ticking time bomb. The teen has resolved himself to his fate—even if his hairdryer mother and makeshift wind-powered brass sculpture father haven’t quite yet—when new girl Vera Pike arrives and throws a wrench into the status quo. When his father disappears, Scarper, Vera, and new friend Castro Smith escape their daily routine to find him. During their journey, they face a field of abandoned mother creatures, a gaggle of elderly police officers, and their own mortality. In an Odyssey-like quest, the trio searches for the fabled Motherless Oven, where humans were supposedly first fashioned, and hopefully the answer to all of their prayers. Heady topics such as existentialism, destiny, religion, and love make this a quirky title rife for discussion. Davis’s dark and shadow-filled art appropriately mindbends and illuminates the text. For teens who enjoy graphic novels that are disturbing and beautiful all at once.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Parker, Jeff. Meteor Men. illus. by Sandy Jarrell Kevin Volo. 128p. Oni Pr. 2014. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781620101513; ebk. $14.99. ISBN 9781620101520.

Gr 8 Up –A meteorite falls on Alden’s parents’ property and soon the orphaned teen encounters the alien organism that used the rock as transport to the planet. The alien is one of many that has landed on Earth, and governments and scientists try to determine their intent as Alden tries to learn how to communicate with the one in his woods, as well as find his friend who disappeared just after the landfall. Parker gives every character involved a recognizable humanity beyond their role in the story—soldiers and scientists are more than just stand-ins for exposition or authority—and this helps make the story complex and affecting. The artwork has a rumpled, lived-in feel that suits and supports this tone and yet also delivers some cleverly executed spectacle to heighten the drama and provide some scale and perspective. The ending is optimistic and disquieting, and will likely provoke strong reactions and discussion.–Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH

kissoftherose 210x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAShouoto, Aya. Kiss of the Rose Princess. 180p. VIZ Media. Nov. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781421573663.

Gr 7 Up –Anise’s father gave her a rose choker and told her that if she ever removed it she would face a terrifying punishment. But wearing it draws unwanted attention as she is constantly reminded that she is violating her school’s dress code. When the choker mysteriously disappears, the teen receives several magical cards, each one able to summon a knight who has the power to help her. These knights happen to be boys at her school, and each one is attractive in a different way. Some of them don’t want to listen to her, while others like being bossed around, and when they talk to her in school it brings even more unwanted attention. The protagonist evolves as she begins to see each of the boys differently and discovers their hidden strengths and flaws. What is not completely clear in this volume is why these boys need to protect this “rose princess.” However, there are hints that in future volumes Anise will face several challenges, in the form of a demon lord and her angry father. Shouoto’s traditional manga–style drawings are filled with windswept energy that help propel the story forward. There is a lot of crashing action, and panels teem with objects in motion, from wild, flying hair to dramatically falling rose petals. Fans of fantasy/romance manga will enjoy this book and will look forward to future installments to learn more about what happens to Anise and her knights.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library


For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings subjects as diverse as a collection of creative work by Native American teens, graphic novel-style books about famous artists, short biographies on Latino heroes, and a cookbook for young adults.

Dreaming in Indian 229x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YACharleyboy, Lisa & Mary Beth Leatherdale, eds. Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices. 128p. illus. photos. reprods. Annick. Nov. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554516872; ebk. ISBN 9781554516889.

Gr 6 Up –This dynamic, creative work is an interactive portal that introduces readers to the lives of 64 indigenous Native American young people. The writers include an award-winning throat singer, a fashion model, a hip-hop dancer, a tribal leader, an activist, a graphic designer, a comic book creator, a chef, a dancer, a musician, a makeup artist, and a rapper, and the contributors communicate powerfully who they are in their own words and images. The visuals are a blend of bold, contemporary digital graffiti and indigenous art at its best, and the end result is a collage of profound, sometimes gritty photos and digital images. The text is a combination of awe-inspiring poetry, prose, and poignant captions. No topic is left untouched—identity, racism, gender, bullying, abuse at boarding schools, adoption, mixed heritage, runaways, suicide, drug, poverty, coming of age, death, and sex, though the tone is positive and success stories are emphasized. Not to be missed.–Naomi Caldwell, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL

takingflight 197x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YADePrince, Michaela & Elaine DePrince. Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. 249p. photos. Knopf. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385755115; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385755122; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385755139. LC 2013048188.

Gr 6 Up –In this moving memoir, DePrince, who in 1995 was born in war-torn Sierra Leone but went on to become an acclaimed professional ballerina, tells her story. Her struggles started early: it was discovered that she had vitiligo, a medical condition that results in blotchy, irregular patches of skin, and her biological parents both died when she was only three. DePrince was sold to an orphanage, where she was starved and abused and where she witnessed the brutal murder of her pregnant teacher, a memory that would forever haunt her. After the orphanage was bombed, DePrince and the other orphans fled to a refugee camp. When she was four years old, she and her best friend, Mia, were adopted by the same family and taken to live in the United States. Just before leaving, DePrince found a magazine photograph of a ballerina, and her dream of becoming a dancer was born. Her supportive family did everything they could to help her attain her goal, but the girl still encountered challenges, including prejudice from those who believed African American dancers to be less suited for the craft. However, she persevered and succeeded, becoming the youngest principal dancer for the Dance Theatre of Harlem and joining the Dutch National Ballet. ond her years. An uplifting story about overcoming the odds.–Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover, AL

SLJ1409w libro TNr LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAHerrera, Juan Felipe. Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes. illus. by Raúl Colón. 96p. further reading. notes. Dial. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780803738096. LC 2013044661.

Gr 4-8 –A dazzling collection of short biographies on 20 Latino men and women who have shaped United States history. Profiled chronologically, each entry provides a succinct but lyrical description of how these heroes have made their mark. From the arts (Desi Arnaz, Joan Baez, Rita Moreno) to the sciences (Luis W. Alvarez and Ellen Ochoa), the breadth of influence covered is vast and aptly demonstrates the diversity within the Hispanic community. California Poet Laureate Herrera packs relevant info and kid-appropriate details (Tomás Rivera meeting the “library lady” for the first time; Dennis “Dionisio” Chavez being bullied because of his name) without overwhelming the work, infusing the narratives with engaging text. Colón’s portraits are luminous. His use of watercolor and pencils gives each entry an ethereal cast, elevating the subjects to an almost beatific place of honor. This visually and textually stunning title is one to cherish and celebrate.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Holland, Jennifer S. Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom. 246p. notes. photos. Workman. 2014. pap. $13.95. ISBN 9780761174417.

Gr 5-8 –In this heartwarming work, Holland whips up enthusiasm for the selfless acts of different animals. The book is divided into “Superheroes” (animals engaging in thrilling acts of bravery, such as dolphins who rescue divers from great white sharks), “Everyday Heroes” (creatures still making an impact, including a llama that comforts the elderly and disabled), and “Big-Picture Heroes” (those unknowingly contributing to a larger effort, such as housecats that, through in-vitro fertilization, are gestating and giving birth to endangered black footed kittens). A charming design enhances the text. Inspirational quotes set the mood for each section, insets throughout add related facts, and eye-catching photographs add to the adorable factor. A sweet look at the animal kingdom.–Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

Art3 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAIngram, Catherine. This Is Dalí. illus. by Andrew Rae. ISBN 9781780671093.

––––. This Is Pollock. illus. by Peter Arkle. ISBN 9781780673462.

––––. This Is Warhol. illus. by Andrew Rae. ISBN 9781780670140.

ea vol: 80p. (This Is…). bibliog. illus. photos. reprods. Laurence King. 2014. Tr. $15.95.

Gr 10 Up –Ingram’s eye-grabbing graphic-novel profiles convey each artist’s life story and particular panache with a combo of witty narrative, vivacious illustrations, reproductions of pivotal artworks, and the occasional photo. The book design is superb: each volume features a pen-and-ink portrait of its subject on the front cover and a personal quote that imparts each man’s essence on the back cover. Biographical highlights and astute and accessible discussions of artworks are woven into a tapestry of historical events, contemporary cultural trends, and art history context. Bright-colored comic book–style illustrations interpret and expand upon the texts with drama, humor, and insight. Eloquent, informative, and amusing, the series’ urbane viewpoint and sometimes-titillating images make it best suited for more mature readers.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

Kamkwamba, William & Bryan Mealer. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition. illus. by Anna Hymas. 304p. ebook available. photos. Dial. Feb. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803740808.

Gr 4-7 –This youth edition of the original adult book of the same title has been skillfully adapted for younger readers. Kamkwamba recounts a period from his childhood living in a small Malawi village. His family was poor, but they got by working as farmers. Kamkwamba was in elementary school, about to graduate to secondary school, when the drought and famine of the mid-2000s upset the patterns of local life. The author deftly describes the devastating effects upon his family: they ate insects, and rations were reduced to only a single mouthful daily. Many around them suffered even worse. Somehow, the family struggled through until the rains returned to nourish a new crop, but they couldn’t afford Kamkwamba’s school fees. He farmed with his father but also discovered a local library, where he taught himself to engineer a windmill to draw water to irrigate the fields. Those around him thought he was crazy as he salvaged motor parts, a PVC pipe, his father’s broken bicycle, and anything else he could find. Kamkwamba did successfully harness the wind, managing to light his family’s house, charge community cell phones for a small income, and pump irrigation water. This is a fascinating, well-told account. An inspiring, incredible story.–Dorcas Hand, Annunciation Orthodox School, Houston, TX

levine writer LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YALevine, Gail Carson. Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink. 304p. index. HarperCollins/Harper. Dec. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062275301; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9780062275295; ebk. $6.99. ISBN 9780062275318.

Gr 5-8 –In this follow-up book to Writing Magic Creating Stories That Fly (HarperCollins, 2006), fantasy author Levine doles out realistic and helpful guidance to aspiring authors. This title is an extension of her blog, and Levine provides her audience with the common nuts and bolts of the profession, offering this advice: writers write, they keep writing, and they save everything they write to use again. Levine’s tone is conversational and upbeat and her suggestions easy to follow, tinged with an underlying sense of encouragement that will bolster readers. She discusses common difficulties, warning young people not to get hung up on minutiae and letting them know that confronting challenges is a surmountable part of the craft. Each chapter ends with appealing and doable exercises. Levine urges her audience to cast away self-criticism and to write and rewrite, underscoring that this is an enjoyable, important process. An engaging and valuable addition.–Patricia Feriano, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD

greenteencookbook LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAMarchive, Laurane & Pam McElroy, eds. The Green Teen Cookbook: Recipes for All Seasons—Written By Teens, for Teens. 144p. index. photos. Zest. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781936976584; ebk. $14.99. ISBN 9781936976591.

Gr 8 Up –Written for teens and by teens, this title is ideal for young adults interested in starting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The book opens with some informative narrative sections, such as “How to Eat Healthfully,” “How to Eat Seasonally,” and “Eating Organic, Vegetarianism.” These sections, penned by cooking or gardening professionals, don’t push the writers’ views onto readers but give insight into why the book was written. The real “meat” of the book comes from the recipes written by teens. Readers will enjoy quotes from the teen chefs that provide helpful hints or reasons why this is their favorite recipe. Also included with most of the recipes is a “helpful hint” box giving the user an easy way to scale down the recipe or use alternate ingredients to change the flavor. The book also contains a resources section listing local farmers markets across the country, as well as online resources to search for more recipes or find healthy living advice. A great addition to any nonfiction cookbook collection.–Joanne Albano, Commack Public Library, NY

Mercer, Bobby. The Robot Book: Build & Control 20 Electric Gizmos, Moving Machines, and Hacked Toys. 224p. (Science in Motion). further reading. photos. websites. Chicago Review. 2014. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781556524073.

Gr 4 Up –A concise title that introduces readers to the basics of robotics and building simple robots. The projects here all call for home appliances and everyday electronics, such as cell phones, toys, and computers, which are cited as the best sources for at-home robotic experimentation material. In order to complete these activities, students will need tools that include pliers, tape, screwdrivers, paperclips, and other more expensive pieces of equipment like motorized toy trucks, LED lights, and old CD computer drives, among other items. Those interested in tinkering with electronics will find the tasks engaging and thorough.–Amy M. Laughlin, Darien Library, CT

Platt, Richard. The Ultimate Book About Me. 144p. chart. diag. glossary. illus. maps. photos. Barron’s. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781438005577. LC 2014932008.

Gr 4-8 –This fun guide answers fascinating questions about the human body. Whether kids read from cover to cover or skim, they’ll find intriguing facts to keep them engaged. The book deals with many subjects: lifespan, genetics, senses, gender, emotions, and more. The information is presented in clear, bite-size pieces, ideal for students with little knowledge of the subjects. While vivid and colorful, the photographs and illustrations don’t distract from the material. Amusing and creative, this title is ideal for reluctant readers. A solid pick for report-writers and browsers alike.–Kris Hickey, Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH

Debbie Reber Doable Cover 200x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAReber, Deborah. Doable: The Girls’ Guide to Accomplishing Just About Anything. 208p. chart. diag. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jan. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781582704678; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781582704661; ebk. $9.46. ISBN 9781481403306. LC 2014005614.

Gr 7 Up –Author and life coach Reber brings her impressive mentoring expertise to tween and teen girls. The step-by-step self-help guide shows readers how to maximize their potential by setting—and achieving—realistic goals. Through a no-nonsense instruction and do-it-yourself coaching advice, Reber presents a well-thought-out plan for all readers to personalize and execute. Logically ordered, the book opens with an overview of the eight steps in Reber’s doable philosophy: define your do, detail the little tasks, defend against obstacles, develop support systems, determine what success looks like, do the work, deal with setbacks, and deliver the goods. The book addresses lofty successes and everyday victories, providing examples and insight for those wishing to achieve any goal, no matter how small. Reber instructs without preaching, and her suggestions are precise and comprehensible.–Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT

Rusch, Elizabeth. The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans. 80p. (Scientists in the Field). diags. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544099999. LC 2013050150.

Gr 5-8 –Rainforests and savannahs, coral reefs and tundra—readers are most likely familiar with these fields in which scientists work. But this time, it is the energy of the physical movement of the global ocean that is the field, and here in this world of watery physics, a series of imaginative, innovative engineers have been designing, building, and experimenting to successfully harness this inexorable surge of energy. Rusch’s readable text follows three very varied groups of visionary engineers on this quest: Mike Morrow and Mike Delos-Reyes (who are working on a device that will allow people to sit upon the ocean floor), Annette von Jouanne and her team (working on a floating design), and the cofounders of Ocean Power Technologies, the first to win a permit to generate “ocean electricity” to be marketed to homes and businesses on the Oregon coast. This pellucid look into a promising field of alternative energy and into the scientists devoting their lives to bring concept into reality is informative, intriguing, and inspiring.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

schutten hello from 2030 233x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YASchutten, Jan Paul. Hello from 2030: The Science of the Future and You. 224p. index. notes. photos. Atria/Beyond Words. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781582704746; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481409469. LC 2013044906.

Gr 5 Up –Ever wonder what food we’ll be eating in 15 years? How about what kind of cars we’ll drive or where our energy sources will come from? Schutten isn’t quite sure, either, but he knows enough about the scientific trends to make some fair guesses in this introduction to science forecasting for the 21st century. Basing his assumptions on Moore’s Law (which states that computer processing power doubles every two years), Schutten hypothesizes that other facets of the scientific world work the same way. In each chapter, Schutten discusses a different area of science, including space, energy, food, health, and robotics, and he covers the growing concerns that affect each issue. Robot lovers will enjoy the “Age of the Robot,” a chapter where futuristic cars, robosoldiers, and other gadgets are discussed. Colorful graphics are included and pair nicely with the text. This book will spark discussion. Hand it to a science lover, and watch the conversation flow.–Keith Klang, Port Washington Public Library, NY

Thompson, Laurie Ann. Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters. 230p. chart. further reading. illus. websites. S. & S./Simon Pulse. 2014. LC 2013044580.

Gr 7 Up –Teens with an entrepreneurial and charitable bent will find this book a trove. Each chapter covers a specific aspect of starting a social change campaign: identifying a social passion, finding a mentor, managing money, recruiting other teens to help, and more. Entries begin with a real-life story of teens whose projects had a positive impact. Not only are the accounts inspiring, they shed light on practical matters, such as how to make your project stand out from others. For instance, Zach, a young man who paired his passion for baking with raising funds to fight breast cancer, used the same pink signage and the same pink tablecloth at every bake sale to set himself apart. Other accounts relate pitfalls of spearheading social change. The author balances the upbeat, can-do tone with a thread of decorum and caution. This is a fine resource.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

Weeks, Marcus. Heads Up Philosophy. 160p. (Heads Up). chart. glossary. illus. index. photos. reprods. DK. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781465424488.

Gr 9 Up –This basic overview of philosophy will draw readers in with its dynamic design, starting with the eye-catching cover, which includes quotes such as René Descartes’s famous “I think, therefore I am” to pique interest. The book starts with a brief introduction and a chart that answers the question “What Do Philosophers Do?” Weeks organizes the material thematically by the branch of philosophy being highlighted, making the text ideal for browsing. Each section uses different font sizes, graphics and images, sidebars, and inset text boxes, enabling the author to convey a great deal of information without overwhelming readers. Weeks also integrates biographical sketches of selected male and female philosophers with intriguing facts about each figure and their personal struggles, which makes the subject much more engaging for students. A solid introduction to the subject.–Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY

Nonfiction Graphic novles

meier marx 229x300 LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YAMaier, Corrine. Marx. illus. by Anne Simon. 72p. further reading. Flying Eye Books/Nobrow. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781907704833.

Gr 9 Up –A graphic novel biography of Karl Marx that offers an intricately illustrated window into his personal travails and career. Maier and Simon present Marx’s early years, his career highs and lows, his complex personal life, and how his works affected history. The illustrations help to explain concepts, such as capitalism, labor relations, economics, and communism. The extensive use of reds, orange, and yellow adeptly leads readers through the many phases of the man’s tale. The narrative contains quotes and references from historical texts written by the subject and his colleague Friedrich Engels. This book is an excellent introduction to Marx and how his views shaped world history. –Annalise Ammer, City of Rochester Public Libraries, NY

Mizuki, Shigeru. Showa: A History of Japan, 1939-1944. tr. from Japanese by Zack Davisson. 536p. (Showa: Bk. Vol. 2). notes. Drawn and Quarterly. 2014. pap. $24.95. ISBN 9781770461512.

Gr 9 Up –Renowned manga artist Mizuki’s autobiographical graphic novel series continues where Showa: A History of Japan, 1926–1939 (Drawn & Quarterly, 2013) left off, with Japan on the brink of World War II. The narrative recounts the war years, shifting between pivotal events in the Pacific theater and the author’s personal anecdotes. There is quite a bit of humor as Mizuki balances serious scenes of battle and politics with cartoonish depictions of his antics bumbling through a newspaper delivery route, trade school, and service in Japan’s army. The work is often critical of Japan’s wartime actions. This account puts a very human face on a complicated time in history. Readers can easily jump into this installment without having read its predecessor, and military buffs will be especially riveted by the detailed account of naval battles. Recommended where the first title has an audience.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA

Vansant, Wayne. The Battle of the Bulge: A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 1944-1945. illus. by Wayne Vansant. 104p. appendix. diag. further reading. maps. Quayside/Zenith. 2014. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9780760346228. LC 2014012286.

Gr 7 Up –The creator of the Normandy (2012), Bombing Nazi Germany (2013), and The Red Baron (2014, all Zenith) graphic novels, now addresses the major battle that led to Germany’s surrender. The photo-realistic and full-color illustrations—Dwight D. Eisenhower, Adolf Hitler, and other major players are authentically captured—add gravity. This work is factual and mostly neutral, not going into the reasons behind the war, only the military strategies employed by each side. A useful resource in exploring this historic battle and a fine edition to classrooms as well as libraries.–Sarah Knutson, American Canyon Middle School, CA

The original reviews of the above works appeared in SLJ’s November print magazine.

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A young sleuth solves mysteries in “Spy Catchers of Maple Hill”| Audio Pick Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:00:49 +0000 Blakemore, Megan Frazer. The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill. 7 CDs. 8 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $45. ISBN 9781490627595. Playaway, digital download. Gr 4-6–The year is 1953, and fifth grader Hazel Kaplansky is a girl in search of a mystery. When rumors begin flying that the Russians are operating a spy ring right in her small New England town, Hazel knows she is the girl for the case. She’s the smartest, most relentless person she knows, and she’s ready to put [...]]]> spycatchers A young sleuth solves mysteries in Spy Catchers of Maple Hill| Audio Pickstar A young sleuth solves mysteries in Spy Catchers of Maple Hill| Audio PickBlakemore, Megan Frazer. The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill. 7 CDs. 8 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $45. ISBN 9781490627595. Playaway, digital download.
Gr 4-6–The year is 1953, and fifth grader Hazel Kaplansky is a girl in search of a mystery. When rumors begin flying that the Russians are operating a spy ring right in her small New England town, Hazel knows she is the girl for the case. She’s the smartest, most relentless person she knows, and she’s ready to put her surveillance skills to the test. Her number-one suspect is the mysterious Mr. Jones, the recently hired gravedigger in her parents’ cemetery. With the help of the new boy at school, Samuel, Hazel sets out to expose the truth. Narrator Meredith Orlow perfectly captures the spirit of this Cold War–era story, portraying neighbors turning against neighbors and whispers becoming rumors and lies. Orlow uses distinct voices for everyone, allowing each character’s unique personality to shine. The result is a twisting, turning period mystery featuring a dynamic heroine in search of answers during an unsettling time in American history.–Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary School, Glen Rock, PA

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JFK Essay Contest; Toyota Video Challenge; Gale Cengage Grant; Hunger Games Mental Mapping | SLJTeen News Tue, 18 Nov 2014 23:55:46 +0000 The Hunger Games, a mental mapping contest!]]> JFK Profile in Courage 2015 Essay Contest Now Open for Submissions

The annual Profile in Courage Essay Contest invites students from across the nation to write an essay describing an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1956. The competition is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and generously supported by John Hancock Financial.

JFKcourageessay JFK Essay Contest; Toyota Video Challenge; Gale Cengage Grant; Hunger Games Mental Mapping | SLJTeen NewsWith a first place prize totaling $10,000 and additional $1,000 and $500 prizes, this is a fantastic opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in his 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage (Harper),which recounts the stories of eight senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions . Students are asked to write an original and creative essay of 1,000 words or less; the deadline for entries is Monday, January 5.

Students and educators will find complete information on the award, eligibility, and past winners at the Profile in Courage Essay Contest website.

Promote Teen Driver Safety: Toyota and Discovery Education Video Challenge

teendrive365 JFK Essay Contest; Toyota Video Challenge; Gale Cengage Grant; Hunger Games Mental Mapping | SLJTeen NewsToyota and Discovery Education have partnered to launch the 2014-2015 TeenDrive365 Video Challenge.  Formerly known as the Toyota Teen Driver Video Challenge, the initiative is now in its fourth year and invites teens across the U.S. to create short videos to inspire their friends and family to drive safely and avoid distractions. Research shows that the first year after a teen gets their license will be one of the most dangerous years of their life.

Ten finalists will be chosen and their entries will be posted online for public vote.  The winner of the public vote will receive the People’s Choice Award along with a $5,000 cash prize and a trip to see a taping of a Velocity network show.

Additionally, a panel of judges will select a first, second, and third place winner.  The winners will be selected based on the creativity, content, and presentation of their videos.  The grand prize winner will receive a $15,000 cash prize and work with a Discovery film crew to reshoot their video as a professional, TV-ready PSA.  The second place winner get a $10,000 cash prize along with a trip to attend a taping of a Velocity network show and the third place winner will receive a $7,500 cash prize.

Last year, more than 1,000 videos were submitted by teens from all 50 states.  Teens can submit entries through March 16, 2015.  Complete details on the submission process as well as resources for parents, educators, and student can be found at TeenDrive365.

ALA’s Gale Cengage Learning Financial Development Award

dollarsign JFK Essay Contest; Toyota Video Challenge; Gale Cengage Grant; Hunger Games Mental Mapping | SLJTeen NewsHere’s a great opportunity to put your library’s successful financial development project in the limelight—nominate it for the Gale Cengage Learning Financial Development Award funded by Gale Cengage, Inc.  Any public, school, or academic library is eligible, and with a winning purse of $2500, it is well worth the time and effort to submit an application.

The award recognizes an innovative, creative, well-organized project which successfully developed income from alternative sources. The alternative sources may include, but are not limited to: individual gifts, foundations, endowments, “challenge” grants, and related efforts. American Library Association is now accepting online nominations—deadline for submission is December 1. Winners will be selected by the end of February 2015 and announced in early March 2015.

Teaching Mental Mapping, Inspired by The Hunger Games

panemmap JFK Essay Contest; Toyota Video Challenge; Gale Cengage Grant; Hunger Games Mental Mapping | SLJTeen NewsJust in time for the November 21 theater release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, reference publisher ABC-CLIO is inviting junior high and high school students to channel the book’s to win $100 worth of ABC-CLIO books for their school’s library and movie tickets. The contest requires teens to work in small groups to create a mental map of the nation of Panem and reproduce that geographic region on paper. Each mental map and corresponding reflection will count as one entry into the contest. The deadline to submit an entry is December 5, and winners will be announced December 12. For more details on the contest, mental mapping, and geography concepts visit Reel to Reel from ABC-CLIO.

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13-Year-Old Girl Wins Minecraft Hunger Games Tournament on International Games Day Tue, 18 Nov 2014 22:00:56 +0000 IGD winner2 13 Year Old Girl Wins Minecraft Hunger Games Tournament on International Games Day

Minecraft Hunger Games participants, Messiah (left), and its new world champion Catherine (right), at the Providence (RI) Community Library on November 15, 2014. Photo courtesy of PCL

Ninety-two libraries worldwide participated in the Minecraft Hunger Games (MHG) tournament on the seventh annual International Games Day (IGD), sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) on November 15. At the end of the event, Catherine, age 13, representing the Providence (RI) Community Library (PCL), had captured the title of IGD’s Minecraft Hunger Games world champion.

Ed Graves, a librarian at PCL who organized this year’s MHG tournament at the Rochenbreau branch, said the winner, an eighth grader at the Nathan Bishop Middle School in Providence, is one of the library’s “regular afterschool gamers.” She also belongs to the library’s afterschool Minecraft gaming club.

Gaming is an area where “the kids are experts,” says Graves. “We’re seeing what they’re passionate about.”

Minecraft is a huge part of this generation’s culture and an effective way to hook young patrons, explains Eli Neiburger, deputy director of the Ann Arbor (MI) District Library (AADL) who helmed this year’s MHG tournament. “[Minecraft is] closer to computer programming than any other game.”

IGD: Expanding

Launched in 2008, IGD “helped…communities make the connection between content, information, recreation, and games in libraries that people already make with those same things around books,” says Jenny Levine, the former-director of ALA’s Games and Round Table (GGRT) who ran the event for its first five years.

IGD 1 13 Year Old Girl Wins Minecraft Hunger Games Tournament on International Games Day

Patrons play table top games on International Games Day in 2013 at the San Mateo (CA) County Library Photo courtesy of San Mateo County Library (

In partnership with the Australian Library and Information Association (Australia’s version of ALA) and Nordic Game Day (a gaming day sponsored by Nordic libraries), IGD invites libraries from around the world to showcase their gaming programs and services, including board games and digital games. The purpose? To encourage patrons to interact with a diverse group of peers, share their expertise with others, and develop new strategies for gaming and learning.

Diane Robson, director of ALA’s GGRT, tells SLJ that this year, the sponsors approached them. This hasn’t always been the case, and she saw it as a sign of how the reputation and popularity of IGD, and gaming, has grown. This year’s sponsors for table top games included GameTable Online; Good Games; Looney Labs; Simply Fun; Starline Publishing; Steve Jackson Games; and USAopoly. (The games sets are distributed free to the first 500 registrants.)

“For libraries without a budget, [registering for IGD] is a good way to build up your games,” Robson says.

Robson tried to recruit libraries in regions that haven’t been active in IGD before, including China and parts of Eastern Europe, but she wasn’t able to get them on board to participate this year, which she partly attributes to server firewall issues for the online aspect. Another obstacle with recruiting libraries in other countries is that IGD’s pitch letter and its website are both only available in English. However, she shares, IGD plans to provide translated versions in the not-so-distant future.

Minecraft Hunger Games: How it works

IGD2 300x199 13 Year Old Girl Wins Minecraft Hunger Games Tournament on International Games Day

Gamers playing online video games on International Games Day 2013 at the Bloomington (IL) Public LIbrary. Bloomington (IL) Public LIbrary (

For this year’s MHG tournament, participating libraries—70 from North America, 11 from Europe, and 14 from Australia—selected their two best players, one boy and one girl, to fight for their library’s honor.

Based on the popular commercial online construction game Minecraft, Minecraft Hunger Games (also referred to as Minecraft Survival Games) is a mash up of Minecraft with tropes from “The Hunger Games” series. To play, the library (or individual) must have Minecraft installed. PCL, says Graves, purchased its games licenses from However, the Hunger Games server, which provides the modifications to the Minecraft software, is generally free, says Neiburger. “You just need a server.” (Which AADL provided.)

According to Neiburger, to participate in the games, each library registers as a “district” with its own specialty. For example, Ivanhoe (CA) Branch Library, District 79, was “The Art Deco Clock District.” He says it’s helpful for someone on site at the library to be the point person who ensures there are two computers loaded with Minecraft software, a valid Minecraft login, and an Internet connection.

Then, during the week leading up to IGD, this year, November 10−14, each library conducted “reapings,” or MHG matches, to decide who their “tributes” from each region would be.

“On Saturday [November 15], we have regional semifinals,” says Neiburger, where the winners from each region—i.e. northeast, southwest, etc.—play each other starting at 3 pm ET.

Those winners move on to nationals, and then the winners advance to internationals. Participating in IGD, kids work to improve at the games used in the event, a feedback loop that many kids don’t get to achieve in the school system, argues Neiburger, who says the confidence transfers to other areas.

Graves adds, “If we can create opportunities for our teens to be leaders in a safe environment, it’s a win win for everyone.”

More resources about IGD and Minecraft Hunger Games:

International Minecraft Hunger Games in a nutshell:

FAQs about International Minecraft Hunger Games:

Email AADL to inquire about joining the Minecraft Hunger Games server:

Getting started with Minecraft multiplayer:

Minecraft handbooks from Scholastic:








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SLJTeen Unlocks the Secrets of the Past with Debut Author Jessica Lidh Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:46:55 +0000 The Number 7 takes readers on a trip to the past, exploring Sweden's role in World War II while examining one family's ability to deal with grief in the present.]]> Jessica Lidh Author Headshot GR 1 SLJTeen Unlocks the Secrets of the Past with Debut Author Jessica LidhWhen most people think about Swedish-American fiction, Willa Cather might come up. But for young adults, there really isn’t much out there. In The Number 7 (Merit Press, 2014) debut author Jessica Lidh combines a contemporary coming-of-age story with historical fiction, allowing her to expose a little-known controversy from World War II about Sweden’s “neutrality” and the role it played. Louisa, her 16-year-old modern-day protagonist, discovers an unusual channel into her Swedish family’s past and slowly begins to unfold a story that may begin a healing process in the present. SLJTeen caught up with Lidh to talk more about The Number 7 and her writing process.

First of all, thank you for reminding me that the history we are taught is not all the history that is. Tell me about the research you had to do on Sweden during World War II to ensure you were presenting a historically accurate portrayal.

I was first made aware of Sweden’s neutrality when I was visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. At the time I was dating a Swedish boy, and I vividly remember him pausing at a map of Europe during WWII. The countries were color-coded by occupation and Sweden was white. Unoccupied. Neutral. He made a point of explaining to me how embarrassing it was for him to see that. So when I sat down to write a story about a phone call from the grave, I wanted to tell a story of embarrassment and shame, but also one of redemption. Gathering firsthand accounts was so important to me. I visited the American Swedish History Museum in Philadelphia, and I asked any Swede I knew to share his or her story of growing up in Sweden in the 1940s. I had to ask delicately, though, because even today it’s still a very sensitive topic.

Louisa is someone I would like to hang out with—her self-deprecating sense of humor, intelligence, and curiosity really shine through. One of my favorite early moments in The Number 7 is when she explains her use of “the deficients”—words like “fine,” “good,” or “nice.”

Louisa’s the girl I wish I had been in high school. She’s much more confident in herself than I was. She’s also observant, and she’s acutely aware of the people around her. With the deficients, I wanted to show how many of us struggle to fully express ourselves, especially when we’re hurting. Adolescence is already so hard without the tragedy of losing a parent, so it’s extra tough for Louisa and her sister, Greta. No one teaches them how to deal with their mother’s death in a healthy way. Louisa thinks it’s easier to mask her feelings by lying when someone asks how she’s doing, and Greta thinks it’s best to just stay silent. But it’s this type of avoidance that ends up nearly destroying their family.

Memories are very important to Louisa; she even has a numbering system for these, particularly those of her mother, who has recently died from breast cancer. How does this contrast with the way that her father and sister Greta deal with their memories?

While Louisa’s father tries to convince her it’s better to move forward, Louisa recognizes there’s no escaping the past. The same memories that remind her dad of loss bring Louisa joy. She keeps memories of her mother on a numbered list in her pocket, but Greta chooses not to share her memories with anyone, as if she’s afraid someone might take them from her. It’s not until the family openly talks about how much they’re suffering that any of them start to heal.

The American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia, PA, holds many surprises for Louisa, including an introduction to fika. Tell SLJTeen readers a bit about that Swedish tradition.

Fika is one of my most beloved Swedish customs. Its translation means “coffee pause” or “coffee break.” Unlike America, where coffee is often an on-the-go beverage, fika is a time to relax and enjoy company. It’s a form of communion in a way. Workers and students alike will take a break to sit and savor a coffee and cinnamon roll with friends. I try to replicate that atmosphere of “pausing” when I’m writing and expending a lot of creative energy. Fika is as much about the mindfulness as it is about the coffee.

There are two parallel stories in The Number 7—Louisa and her family working through the grief which followed her mother’s death, and that of Louisa’s ancestors in Sweden, debating the Nazi takeover of much of Scandinavia and their position on the war. Did you write one of the stories before the other, or did you write this as it appears in the book, in alternating chapters?

I wrote the parallel stories at the same time, and it was surprisingly easy shifting back and forth through a period of roughly 60 years. The Swedish story line was well-mapped in my head, so it was Louisa’s narrative that I needed to uncover. As she was searching for her own role in her grandfather’s story, I too was looking for the connection. As she began discovering this man she never knew, her character began slowly revealed herself to me. There is a lot of nostalgia in this book. Louisa and I are suckers for family. Her journey to find her grandfather became my homage to my own grandparents, with whom I feel so intricately interwoven. My story is their story, and their story is mine.

Being at a new school is always a cause for anxiety. It is compounded for Louisa as she becomes very friendly with one of the high school’s most sought-after guys, Gabe, as well as one of its coolest dudes and barista, Chris.

When I first sat down to write the romance, I had a precise picture of which boy Louisa would choose in the end, but further into the story, the decision became less clear. I too ended up falling for both boys. So I hated having to write one of the boy’s eventual downfalls because I really liked him. I felt sad for him because he’s one of the characters whose struggle continues past the end of the book. He doesn’t get the happy ending.

Number7 194x300 SLJTeen Unlocks the Secrets of the Past with Debut Author Jessica Lidh

Readers will know right away from the book cover that a phone plays an important role in this book. (No fancy dresses or headless girls here!) Was this inspired by your own rummaging through an attic or basement?

Prior to graduate school, I managed a shop located in an old repurposed farmhouse. It was filled top to bottom with Swedish antiques. One dark and rainy day, when the shop was absent of customers, I discovered a rotary telephone sitting casually on a stack of old books. Something about the unplugged phone gave me the heebie-jeebies, and I was terrified that the thing would just start ringing and I would be compelled to answer it. Who would be on the other end? I wondered. I ended up buying it to find out. The Number 7 was my answer.

LIDH, Jessica. The Number 7. 272p. Adams Media/Merit. Dec. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440583063; ebk. ISBN 9781440583070.

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