School Library Journal http://www.slj.com The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Fri, 28 Apr 2017 18:42:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.14 School Library Tech Budgets Rise | SLJ 2017 Technology Survey http://www.slj.com/2017/04/research/school-library-tech-budgets-rise-slj-2017-technology-survey/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/research/school-library-tech-budgets-rise-slj-2017-technology-survey/#respond Fri, 28 Apr 2017 18:00:29 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=218652 Click to enlarge

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Chart Design and Illustrations by Jean Tuttle

School librarians are enjoying a technology boom as tech budgets blossom. As a result, new digital tools are making their way into classrooms, maker spaces, and school libraries.

Median spending on technology doubled in the last two years, from $1,000 during the 2014/15 school year to $2,000 for 2016/17, according to School Library Journal’s latest School Technology Survey. The survey was sent to newsletter subscribers last fall, with 1,037 responding. From robotics to virtual reality devices, cutting-edge tech is working its way into students’ hands.

Show, don’t tell

While budget bumps help with tech adoption, so does nimble promotional work by school librarians. They’re inviting school and district technology coordinators into libraries so they can see students’ use of tech for themselves. Respondents say 45 percent of the money they spend on technology stems directly from their school or district’s technology budget. It’s important, then, to make sure those who control those funds understand how the money gets used. While school librarians go about such advocacy in different ways, “show, don’t tell,” at least, seems to be going a long way.

Jennifer Wenzel, librarian at Muhlenberg Middle School in Laureldale, PA, personally invites her district tech coordinator to visit her library to see how students and teachers are using existing tech—and to talk about how they could integrate new technology into the space.

“Then in decision-making meetings, he has decent knowledge of our current status and our vision for the future,” says Wetzel. “It was awkward at first, but now he engages with students and understands their strengths and weaknesses, how long it takes to get things done, and why we need high-quality technology.”

Hannah Little, library director at the Webb School in Bell Buckle, TN, says that her maker space has become her technology director’s base of operation. “He loves to experiment with new technologies,” she says.

These on-site field trips are apparently effective. A whopping 68 percent of respondents say their school and district technology coordinators are supportive, or very supportive, of the technology school librarians are bringing into the schools.

Finally, one school librarian reports that if all else fails, extreme measures can be taken.

“Bring them candy often,” jokes Shara Weiss, the librarian at both Central High School and Central Middle School in Park Hills, MO, who has been working closely with students on programs including screencasting, which lets users make videos by recording what they do on their computer screens.

Enter VR

The newest technologies trending with consumers in general are also making their way into schools, and in particular the library, say respondents. More specifically, students are dabbling with virtual reality and 360-degree videos. VR goggles are in 12 percent of libraries, while three percent boast wearable technology, devices worn on the body that transmit data about the wearer.

Forty-nine percent of respondents note they have maker activities in the library, with options ranging from running 3-D scans to learning how to design for the web. Students are also experimenting with animated films, game design, and video production, along with engineering and robotic programming through electronic building sites, such as LEGO.com.

Even in schools where high tech isn’t the norm, school librarians are eager to learn how these programs and gadgets work, with 49 percent interested in diving deeper into virtual reality or 360-degree video, and 53 percent hoping to gain more understanding about circuitry and robotic kits, such as littleBits.

Lisa Wright, the school librarian at West Yadkin Elementary in Hamptonville, NC, “assists students with VR and green screen types of applications,” she reports. Meanwhile, Alison M. Brooks, the librarian at Apollo Middle School in Antioch, TN, adds that she’s teaching students how to use iMovie and green screen technology. She also uses Nearpod, online lessons, and “will hopefully get into the VR side.”

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Yes to smartphones

One conduit for tech to settle into schools may be the kids themselves. Student-owned smartphones and other personal mobile devices are allowed—at least sometimes—in classrooms at 40 percent of schools. To that end, 34 percent noted that policies against using phones in classrooms are relaxing.

When they can use them, students are putting their handhelds to use as digital readers and calculators, app runners, class poll processors, as well as research and project helpmates.

In some cases, school librarians are selecting technology on the basis of whether it’s user-friendly and accessible via the Internet from any mobile device, “including cell phones, as that is the only way many students have access to the internet at home,” notes Jennifer Wright, a librarian at Beaver River Central School in Beaver Falls, NY.

Coding takes off

Opportunities to try computer programming and coding, with tools such as Scratch, are offered in 36 percent of school libraries. Of that group, one in five say they’ll be participating with students in the Hour of Code this year, an online-based event involving more than 200 tutorials.

Kathleen Gocksch, the school librarian at PS 008 Isaac Varian School in the Bronx, NY, is already in her third year of participating in Hour of Code with her students, she says. Students at River Dell Middle School in River Edge, NJ, already spend a week on the initiative. Librarian Mary Kay Risi is planning to expand on it even further by add coding resources in the maker space.

As coding champions, school librarians may be opening doors to students with no other way to learn it. No computer science classes at all are offered in 34 percent of schools.

Limited access

Certain kinds of websites are off limits to librarians and students alike at school. One-quarter of respondents say they are unable to access YouTube, or streaming services, including Netflix and Pandora. One-third of school librarians say they can’t get on any social media sites at all; only 21 percent say they are using social media with students, while another 31 percent would like to learn how to weave it into classroom learning.

It’s possible these sites are off limits due to lack of bandwidth in schools. Bandwidth—the capacity for devices to transmit data online—is a concern for nearly one-third of respondents. Sites that push out video and music require substantial bandwidth.

That said, 68 percent of the survey respondents now report that they have “adequate bandwidth,” compared with 63 percent during the 2014–2015 school year.

Job security

As school librarians continue to introduce students to new technologies, they’re becoming known as tech experts in the process. That perception helps more of them feel secure in their positions. About 28 percent tied technology skills to job security in 2014–2015; that number jumped to 32 percent in the 2016–2017 school year. Interestingly, though, that number was 55 percent in 2012.

Leveraging that reputation for tech expertise, however, requires school librarians to advocate for themselves, their budgets, and the practical worth of the tech tools they want to bring to their students. It is crucial that administrators understand that the roles of a school librarian include technology integrator, information literacy teacher, curriculum developer, and staff professional development coordinator, says Brenda Lemon, Chapman (KS) Unified School District 473 librarian. “If they only see the school librarian as someone who ‘handles the books,’ then it’s easy to replace that person with a [para librarian]. Schools will then hire tech integration and curriculum specialists, not knowing that the school librarian can do those same tasks and more,” says Lemon.


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Interview with YA Fiction Author Christina June http://www.slj.com/2017/04/interviews/an-interview-with-ya-fiction-author-christina-june/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/interviews/an-interview-with-ya-fiction-author-christina-june/#respond Fri, 28 Apr 2017 14:27:44 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219917 It Started with GoodbyeChristina June is the author of It Started with Goodbye (May 2017). June divides her time between writing young adult contemporary fiction and working as a school counselor in Washington, DC, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

It Started with Goodbye is a modern-day take on the classic story of Cinderella. What inspired you to write the book?

It was a literal abandoned shoe. I was walking into my school the morning after the Homecoming dance and saw a lone girls’ dress show laying on the side of the road. I knew immediately that I needed to write a Cinderella story, but I wanted to make sure my narrator pushed back against the rules she was given. It was important to me that she have agency and make her own choices when possible.

I also wanted to explore that moment when teens realize their parents are humans and come with their own baggage. I’m a high school counselor by day and I watch kids have this lightbulb moment all the time. It can be difficult to comprehend that your parents have screwed up, especially ones who have been sticklers for rules. My main character, Tatum, gets some valuable insight into what makes her stepmother tick, which changes her whole outlook. That kind of information can be pivotal.

You describe your main character, Tatum, as an imperfect “every girl”. Can you elaborate on that more and explain why it is important to represent these types of characters in YA?

There are a lot of “chosen one” stories in YA, which I love, but I think it’s also important to show ordinary characters who have flaws and screw up because that’s reality. Tatum isn’t particularly special and she even remarked how she feels pretty average and middle of the road. She also thinks she’s right all the time and over the course of the book, she realizes she was wrong about a lot of things. She grows from her experiences and tries to take the high road when trying to repair the relationships with her family and friends. Everyone makes mistakes–but it’s what you do next that’s important.

Is Tatum you at 16? How are you and Tatum similar? How are you different?

Yes, she is very much me at 16. And, probably me now.  We both like to be right, we both have snarky senses of humor, we both wallow when we’re upset.  I think that I am much quicker to seek harmony in conflict than she is. I don’t have much artistic talent, though I definitely appreciate those who do.

Although Tatum is still in high school, she runs her own graphic design business. Why did you feel it was important to make her an entrepreneur?

I figured if she was on house arrest for the summer and angry about it, she would need something to help channel all her negative energy. I’d never read about a teen with her own business before, nor a graphic designer, so voila! I also enjoy how the work Tatum does really lifts her up and helps her regain her confidence over the course of the summer.

With this being your debut novel, what was your biggest creative challenge?

Probably the fact that everything was new! It’s easy to second guess yourself in this process, but I’ve been very fortunate to have an excellent team to work with and hold my hand. I ask a lot of questions and I’m grateful for all the support I’ve been given. Creatively, working with deadlines and not having the freedom of all the time in the world is both a challenge and a benefit. I’m one who likes to marinate on ideas before executing, so having to limit my mulling-over time into a small window has been an adjustment, but one that I think has been successful thus far.


 

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The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/the-big-bad-fox-by-benjamin-renner-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/the-big-bad-fox-by-benjamin-renner-slj-review/#respond Fri, 28 Apr 2017 13:52:14 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219913 RENNER, Benjamin. The Big Bad Fox. tr. from French by Joe Johnson. illus. by Benjamin Renner. 192p. First Second. Jun. 2017. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781626723313.

Gr 3-6 –The proverbial fox may be a menace to the henhouse—but not the hero of this work. The titular character lacks gumption, guile, or cunning, and the chickens send him running each time he ventures into the farmyard. Taking pity on the fox, the wolf proposes playing the long game: stealing eggs and [...]]]> redstarRENNER, Benjamin. The Big Bad Fox. tr. from French by Joe Johnson. illus. by Benjamin Renner. 192p. First Second. Jun. 2017. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781626723313.

STAR-GN-Renner-TheBigBadFoxGr 3-6 –The proverbial fox may be a menace to the henhouse—but not the hero of this work. The titular character lacks gumption, guile, or cunning, and the chickens send him running each time he ventures into the farmyard. Taking pity on the fox, the wolf proposes playing the long game: stealing eggs and eventually eating the hatched chickens. The fox successfully makes off with the eggs, but things get complicated when the chicks emerge and (surprise, surprise!) assume that the fox is their mother. Though this work is similar in look and tone to typical comic strips (bulging-eyed, caricaturelike characters with exaggerated expressions; occasional slapstick violence; motion lines), there’s a sophistication to the art that recalls the author/illustrator’s roots as a celebrated filmmaker and cartoonist. Renner sets the individual scenes against a white backdrop, free of borders, resulting in a clean design, and the use of color, texture, and shading is top-notch. While much of the humor derives from somewhat predictable setups, such as the fox’s botched attempts at proving that he can be just as intimidating as the wolf, it’s sure to tickle young funny bones, and the author injects the narrative with a sly, edgy sensibility that sets this title apart from more typical fare. This one has heart, too, depicting the fox’s burgeoning feelings of affection toward his unlikely ward. VERDICT Bound to keep adults and kids alike laughing, this is a winning selection for comic book fans, reluctant readers, and those who enjoy subversive comedy.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

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

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Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/midnight-at-the-electric-by-jodi-lynn-anderson-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/midnight-at-the-electric-by-jodi-lynn-anderson-slj-review/#respond Fri, 28 Apr 2017 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219309 ANDERSON, Jodi Lynn. Midnight at the Electric. 272p. HarperCollins/­HarperTeen. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062393548.

Gr 9 Up –Adri’s, Catherine’s, and Lenore’s lives are intertwined but not in the way that one would think. Adri lives in 2065 Kansas, Catherine lives in 1930s Kansas, and Lenore lives in England in 1919. As Adri is preparing to go to Mars, she stays with her cousin in Kansas, where the training takes place. Upon settling in, she comes across letters written [...]]]> redstarANDERSON, Jodi Lynn. Midnight at the Electric. 272p. HarperCollins/­HarperTeen. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062393548.

STAR-YA-Anderson-MidnightattheElectricGr 9 Up –Adri’s, Catherine’s, and Lenore’s lives are intertwined but not in the way that one would think. Adri lives in 2065 Kansas, Catherine lives in 1930s Kansas, and Lenore lives in England in 1919. As Adri is preparing to go to Mars, she stays with her cousin in Kansas, where the training takes place. Upon settling in, she comes across letters written from Lenore to Beth. Through journals and, later, letters, Catherine narrates her own story of being in Kansas during the Dust Bowl. Told through straight prose, letters, and journal entries, the novel is engrossing and will engage even reluctant readers. This beautiful work expertly blends historical and futuristic fiction genres. The author threads mystery into each teen’s story, keeping an even pace as she reveals secrets, betrayals, and heartbreak. Anderson deftly tackles love, friendship, and grief in this touching exploration of resilience and hope. VERDICT A must-have for all YA collections.–Erin Holt, Williamson City Public Library, Franklin, TN

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

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What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle & others | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/whats-your-favorite-color-by-eric-carle-others-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/whats-your-favorite-color-by-eric-carle-others-slj-review/#respond Fri, 28 Apr 2017 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219312 CARLE, Eric & others. What’s Your Favorite Color? illus. by Eric Carle & others. 40p. Holt. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805096149.

PreS-Gr 2 –Carle and 14 other picture book artists share their favorite colors through memories, poems, and child-friendly snippets in this collection of testimonials. Despite the emphasis on the visuals, text and illustrations in each spread are equally strong. From Philip C. Stead’s gentle ode to the many shades of green to Jill McElmurry’s tactile imagining of [...]]]> redstarCARLE, Eric & others. What’s Your Favorite Color? illus. by Eric Carle & others. 40p. Holt. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805096149.

STAR-PB-Carle-WhatsYourFavoriteColorPreS-Gr 2 –Carle and 14 other picture book artists share their favorite colors through memories, poems, and child-friendly snippets in this collection of testimonials. Despite the emphasis on the visuals, text and illustrations in each spread are equally strong. From Philip C. Stead’s gentle ode to the many shades of green to Jill McElmurry’s tactile imagining of a cool black garden, the entries each offer different perspectives. A few contributors provide insight into the artistic process by speaking to the properties of the colors they admire. Carle loves “the challenge” of yellow, which muddies immediately if mixed with another color. Melissa Sweet lauds the many moods of the color gray, while Rafael López appreciates the way in which the hue works in harmony with other colors. Other artists express simple statements of affection that will resonate with child audiences. Mike Curato’s joyous illustration of a raccoon holding a cone piled high with ice cream that’s his favorite color, mint (as in mint chocolate chip), is a unique take that will get budding artists thinking outside the box. Though the focus is on individual colors, the illustrations are far from monochromatic. Carle’s bright yellow sun smiling on a white background is more the exception than the rule: William Low’s busy Bronx streets glow with myriad tans, beiges, and deep chocolates of brick buildings, and Lauren Castillo’s thick oil paints depict a tangible frosting of white snow over the deep greens and blues of a forest night scene. VERDICT A creative collection to savor one-on-one or to spark classroom art and writing exercises.–­Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN

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

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MI District Adopts “Mixed Reality” Technology for Students http://www.slj.com/2017/04/technology/mi-district-adopts-mixed-reality-technology-for-students/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/technology/mi-district-adopts-mixed-reality-technology-for-students/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 14:45:25 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219727 Utica-techkids-webStudents at Utica Community Schools in Sterling Heights, MI, are using mixed reality to explore interactive 3-D models of objects and concepts that would otherwise be abstract to them, such as a beating human heart or Newtonian physics.

The students are using zSpace, a mixed reality system for K–12 education. According to Elizabeth Lytle, director of education and product experience at zSpace, mixed reality blends augmented and virtual reality technology. In virtual reality (VR), users wear a headset and headphones to become fully immersed in a virtual environment. In augmented reality (AR), users see computer-generated images overlaid on the real environment. Mixed reality combines elements of both.

“We have true augmented reality in our zView software, and then the actual interaction is really a cross between VR and AR,” says Lytle. “We’ve just transitioned to [the term] ‘mixed reality,’ which is defined as a combination of those elements.”

With zSpace, students work in groups of two in front of the zSpace all-in-one desktop computer system. One student—the driver—wears a pair of tracked glasses and uses a handheld stylus to manipulate 3-D images in the zSpace. Another student—the passenger—wears a pair of follower glasses to see the 3-D images controlled by the driver.

Utica-techkids2-webUtica Community Schools has the zSpace system installed in computer labs at four of its elementary schools. Each zSpace lab has 16 student stations, which accommodate two students each, plus one teacher station. The teacher station includes zView software, which allows the teacher to project the images onto an interactive whiteboard for class demonstrations. So far, the district has been using zSpace primarily for science in grades three to six. However, the system offers content for K–12 science, math, engineering, geography, English language arts, and art.

Catherine Einhaus, director of elementary programs at Utica Community Schools, says the technology enables students to experience a real-life application of concepts, particularly in science. Normally studying the internal workings of the human body is a somewhat abstract concept for students. Beyond pictures and videos, they generally don’t get to see organs—such as the human heart—at work. With zSpace, however, students can explore an interactive 3-D model of a functioning heart. They can move it around, look inside, and even feel the heartbeat through the stylus.

A new Dimension to biology

Einhaus says teachers sometimes begin a lesson by letting students work with a 3-D model in zSpace to explore and discover the concept on their own. The teacher can then use that visual and tactile experience as a foundation for her lesson. Afterwards, the students can repeat the zSpace activity to deepen their understanding of the concept even further.

“I really think it has worked to provide our students this opportunity to think about their learning, be reflective about their learning, and then also to deepen their understanding of some of those scientific concepts that we’ve been working to instill in our lessons,” says Einhaus.

Lytle, a former teacher, emphasizes the collaborative learning aspect of zSpace. She was part of the company’s first pilot program. At that time, the system didn’t include the passenger glasses option. As an educator, she was concerned that “the technology was going to take students farther away from working together and really engaging with each other and solve problems,” she says. “It was the students who helped us see that they wanted to be together on the system, so we had to figure out the glasses solution.”

Utica Community Schools has been collaborating with zSpace on the implementation. The company provides professional development for the teachers, as well as information about how to align zSpace content with lessons. For its part, Utica Community Schools provides zSpace with feedback on its educational content. Lytle says the company also shares its plans with the school district to solicit their input.

“ZSpace has been very receptive to our input in terms of the additional activities and lessons that would support our science curriculum and our pacing,” says Einhaus.

ZSpace offers a couple of different pricing models. According to Lytle, most school districts opt for the annual subscription model, which costs approximately $22,000 for 10 zSpace systems, on-site professional development, on-site installation, and the zSpace software and accompanying lessons.


Leila Meyer is a freelance education and technology writer based in British Columbia.

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Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb | SLJ Audio Review http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/return-to-the-secret-garden-by-holly-webb-slj-audio-review/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/return-to-the-secret-garden-by-holly-webb-slj-audio-review/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219303 WEBB, Holly. Return to the Secret Garden. 4 CDs. 5:13 hrs. Dreamscape. Dec. 2016. $29.99 ISBN 9781520064765. digital download.

Gr 3-6 – Emmie and the other orphans of the Craven Home for Orphaned Children are being evacuated from London to Misselthwaite Manor on the eve of World War II. The chaos of displacement mirrors Emmie’s loneliness and frustration. This powerful historical setting is the backdrop for Webb’s lovely sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden. As Emmie [...]]]> redstarWEBB, Holly. Return to the Secret Garden. 4 CDs. 5:13 hrs. Dreamscape. Dec. 2016. $29.99 ISBN 9781520064765. digital download.

STAR-AU-Webb-ReturntotheSecretGardenGr 3-6 Emmie and the other orphans of the Craven Home for Orphaned Children are being evacuated from London to Misselthwaite Manor on the eve of World War II. The chaos of displacement mirrors Emmie’s loneliness and frustration. This powerful historical setting is the backdrop for Webb’s lovely sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden. As Emmie becomes acclimated to her life on the Yorkshire moors, we watch her sense of curiosity overtake her resentment. Although presented as a sequel, this book stands on its own merit. As Emmie reads Mary Lennox’s diaries, readers are given enough background information to understand the parallels between the two novels. The secret garden quickly becomes a character, offering Emmie safety and room to grow. With beautiful imagery and evocative prose, Webb invites readers into the English countryside. Emmie’s friendships with Jack Craven and Mr. Sowerby, the gardener, are explored with sensitivity and authenticity. Webb expertly crafts the story lines, providing drama in just the right places. Maggie Ollerenshaw’s narration is engaging, with pacing that reflects the plot. VERDICT For fans of The Secret Garden, this is a must-read. For those not familiar with the earlier novel, this is a sweet and satisfying tale of friendship and growth.–Terri Perper, Olney Elementary School, MD

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

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Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/words-in-deep-blue-by-cath-crowley-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/words-in-deep-blue-by-cath-crowley-slj-review/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219306 CROWLEY, Cath. Words in Deep Blue. 288p. Knopf. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101937648.

Gr 9 Up –An astonishingly realistic look at loss, grief, love, and the importance of words. Rachel Sweetie’s world changed forever the day her little brother Cal drowned. In the eight months since, she’s failed to graduate from school and alienated most of her friends. Rachel’s family seems to think returning to live with her aunt in their old hometown will help. She’s up for [...]]]> redstarCROWLEY, Cath. Words in Deep Blue. 288p. Knopf. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101937648.

STAR-YA-Crowley-WordsinDeepBlueGr 9 Up –An astonishingly realistic look at loss, grief, love, and the importance of words. Rachel Sweetie’s world changed forever the day her little brother Cal drowned. In the eight months since, she’s failed to graduate from school and alienated most of her friends. Rachel’s family seems to think returning to live with her aunt in their old hometown will help. She’s up for the change of scenery, if only it didn’t mean seeing her ex–best friend Henry. Before moving, Rachel wrote a letter to Henry professing her love and left it in his family’s bookstore, Letter Library. Customers communicate with one another by writing in and marking up a select set of books and by leaving letters in between the pages. Henry never responded. He and many of the other characters are undergoing losses of their own, in varying degrees. The secondary characters are multidimensional and well defined, and their struggles are equally touching. Readers will identify with and root for them. This poignant tale exquisitely chronicles the journey from hopelessness to learning to live again. The charismatic and well-crafted cast will immediately draw readers in. There aren’t pat happy endings for anyone, and the story is better for it. VERDICT This rewarding novel packs an emotional wallop; a must-purchase.–Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT

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

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Technology to Aid the Struggling Reader http://www.slj.com/2017/04/webcasts/technology-to-aid-the-struggling-reader/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/webcasts/technology-to-aid-the-struggling-reader/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 21:22:01 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219761 Thursday, May 18, 2017, 3PM-4PM ET / 12PM-1PM PT
Join this free, resource-rich program for tips on how to leverage technology to help new and struggling readers. Learn about the best storytelling apps, digital sources of high-interest content for kids and teens, and more.
Register Now!]]>
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Presented by: ISTE and School Library Journal
Event Date & Time: Thursday, May 18th, 2017, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET / 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PT

Register Now

Our popular series returns with all-new presentations on technology in the education space, from helping struggling readers to sorting fact from fiction when it comes to digital information. Led by top practitioners in the field, these one-hour free programs will offer practical insight into these hot topics in tech, with implications for schools and libraries.

Session #3: Technology to Aid the Struggling Reader

Join this free, resource-rich program for tips on how to leverage technology to help new and struggling readers. Learn about the best storytelling apps, digital sources of high-interest content for kids and teens, and more.

Panelists

  • Michele Haiken – English Teacher, Rye Middle School, Rye, NY; Adjunct Professor of Literacy, Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY
  • K.C. Boyd – Lead Librarian, East St.Louis (IL) School District
  • Cynthia Merrill – Literacy Consultant

Moderator

  • Kathy Ishizuka – Executive Editor, School Library Journal

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Can’t make the date? No problem! Register now and you will receive an email from School Library Journal with the URL to access the archive for this event.

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Maker Spaces, STEM, Library Management | Professional Reading http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/books/maker-spaces-stem-library-management-professional-reading/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/books/maker-spaces-stem-library-management-professional-reading/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:00:36 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219535 1704-PR-FarmerFarmer, Lesley S.J. Managing the Successful School Library: Strategic Planning and Reflective Practice. 264p. bibliog. index. ALA Editions. Dec. 2016. pap. $60. ISBN 9780838914946.

School librarians who are balancing the demands of curriculum and teaching, collection development, and technology may not see themselves as managers or leaders, but according to Farmer, they are. The author emphasizes how, beyond vision and mission statements, librarians need to take the time to analyze what it means to manage a successful school library in order to strengthen their programs. Delving into what an ideal school library program looks like and how the library should align with school goals, she challenges readers to examine their own schools and their cultures and to consider their personal management styles. Many helpful resources are included in each chapter, along with a list of references. “Managing Resources” offers some useful tools for maintaining print and electronic materials. In “Managing Funding,” the author refers readers to websites that provide fund-raising advice, but there is no listing for library grants. That omission notwithstanding, the content is valuable. Throughout, “Food for Thought” boxes raise questions for contemplation. Each chapter ends by encouraging users to apply the tenets of school librarianship to themselves. ­VERDICT Whether readers have just begun their careers or have years of experience, they will benefit from this thorough dissection of each aspect of managing a school library. An excellent addition.–Laura Fields Eason, Parker Bennett Curry Elementary School, Bowling Green, KY

1704-PR-Flores-MakingScienceFlores, Christa. Making Science: Reimagining STEM Education in Middle School and Beyond. 194p. bibliog. photos. Constructing Modern Knowledge. Nov. 2016. pap. $24.95. ISBN 9780997554304.

A fascinating look at the intersection of science and the maker movement. Flores focuses on constructionism, or the science of learning by doing. True constructionist education is achieved through problem-based science in the learning space. Aimed at teachers and librarians seeking evidence of the benefits of the maker movement in the classroom or library, this title serves as a sampling of successfully executed projects for a wide range of ages. Case studies in electronics, robotics, recycling, and more provide excellent examples of learning in action. Open-ended questions fuel the projects, and students are asked to produce evidence of learning not through tests but through journals, portfolios, and other self-driven projects. However, the book does have drawbacks. The activities described were completed in schools, where there is already structure in place for maker-based learning. Reading the descriptions of these amazing endeavors will be inspiring but also potentially frustrating for those just starting to plan a maker space, especially since the schools mentioned are almost ­exclusively private or charter. However, the stories included are worth reading. ­VERDICT Despite some flaws, this resource has a place in the professional collection of any school or library interested in the maker movement.–Deidre Winterhalter, Oak Park Public Library, IL

1704-PR-GravesGraves, Colleen & Aaron Graves. The Big Book of Makerspace Projects. 304p. illus. index. photos. McGraw-Hill. Oct. 2016. pap. $20. ISBN 9781259644252.

Equal parts guide and inspirational tome, this volume fills a gap in the existing maker literature as a one-stop source for easily achievable, clearly described classroom projects. The authors present 51 tried and tested activities with concise instructions and clear photos. Each entry contains insightful tips for classroom use to ensure that novice and expert maker librarians alike will be able to lead students with confidence. The book effectively incorporates both projects requiring pricey materials (Sphero robots, Makey Makey kits) and those necessitating supplies that many libraries will already have on hand (balloon hovercrafts, Popsicle stick kazoos). Libraries with an existing maker space and a budget to accrue additional materials will find the equipment-intensive projects far more achievable than will libraries with limited funds. Both authors teach in high school settings, but some projects are suitable for younger makers; middle and even upper elementary school students could certainly tackle some of the more difficult projects with a supportive teacher-librarian at the helm. The Graveses also include hashtags and their social media account information to encourage project sharing and maker community building. VERDICT Librarians clamoring for a maker guidebook will appreciate this much-needed resource full of projects for almost all levels.–Amy M. Laughlin, Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

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Celebrating Dads with Poetry: Hope Anita Smith on “My Daddy Rules the World” http://www.slj.com/2017/04/interviews/up-close/celebrating-dads-with-poetry-hope-anita-smith-on-my-daddy-rules-the-world/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/interviews/up-close/celebrating-dads-with-poetry-hope-anita-smith-on-my-daddy-rules-the-world/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:00:51 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219677 My Daddy Rules the World, a joyful tribute to fatherhood.]]> 1704-UpClose-Smith_MyDaddyRulestheWorldSmith dedicates My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads (Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks, May 2017), her latest stellar collection of illustrated poetry, to “every man ‘fathering’ a child and to those who stand in the gap.” The poems are a testament to the myriad roles fathers play in the daily lives of children, whether they stay at home or serve abroad in the military, and Smith honors each depiction with warmth and respect. SLJ chatted with Smith about how the work came together.

Who knew fatherhood could be so joyful! Did you sense from the outset that the tone would be celebratory?
I did. There has always been a soft spot in my heart for the way fathers interact with their children. I also felt that dads don’t get their due. I remember making wonderful gifts for my mom and writing her poems for special occasions, while my dad got a wonky ashtray (he never smoked), a finger-painted muslin tie, or a pair of socks.

I wanted to pay homage to dads. Let them know that even though we don’t always show it, we see them and we applaud them.

The poems are directed at a much younger audience than some of your previous work. What inspired that decision?
It’s true; this collection is for a much younger audience. That idea was the brainchild of my editor, Christy Ottaviano. She has always had a very quiet way of stretching me in new directions.

There is so much movement in the collection: dancing, playing catch, learning guitar, wrestling, etc. How did you narrow down what types of scenes you wanted to include?
It was very difficult to decide. I had poems about camping out in the backyard, climbing dad like a mountain, pretending to drive the car—the list goes on and on. I chose scenes that resonated with me, based on what I saw in other families and what I wished for myself.

Photo by Everard Williams Jr.

Photo by Everard Williams Jr.

Your artwork here is, as always, gorgeous. How do you convey such tenderness and love with torn paper and without any facial expressions for clues?
Thank you for the compliment. I believe our expressions of love, joy, hurt, etc., are much more visible in our body language than in the looks on our faces. I didn’t come to the table knowing this. I learned it after I knew that I was going to illustrate this book. I had been led to believe that men are tough and don’t display their feelings. I worried that the art would be stiff and lack expression. But once I started making the images, I realized that not having facial features created a space for a mirror that allowed readers to see themselves in each piece.

Mentorship and the value of sharing knowledge are strong themes throughout. Do you hope readers will come away with a renewed appreciation of their dads?
I absolutely do hope that. I think I have shone a bright light on dads even in my first two books, The Way a Door Closes and Keeping the Night Watch. C.J.’s father (because my characters speak to me) made sure that I didn’t typify him in any way. He was a good dad. He [made] a misstep, and by returning to his family, he was a better dad. He showed us how it’s done.

There are wonderful men in the world giving love and support to children. I have been blessed to have a few men who have nurtured me. I hope this collection sings their praises.

There is also a bit of truly silly fun in poems such as “Haircut” and the call-and-response poem “Daddy!”—poems meant to be read aloud. Were you inspired by your experiences with in-school workshops?
Yes, I do a lot of storytelling, and I make it a point to get the kids involved. I’m telling the story, but I let them know I’m going to need their help. They take their role seriously. They’re alert and ready to jump in and be part of the tale. And there is so much love in laughter.

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YA: Mean Girls, “Mad Miss Mimic,” and Mars | May 2017 Xpress Reviews http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/books/ya-mean-girls-mad-miss-mimic-and-mars-may-2017-xpress-reviews/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/books/ya-mean-girls-mad-miss-mimic-and-mars-may-2017-xpress-reviews/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:00:12 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219476 1704-Xpress-YA-CVs

Alsaid, Adi. North of Happy. 304p. Harlequin Teen. Apr. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780373212286. POP

Gr 8 Up –Carlos, 18, lives a sheltered, affluent life in Mexico City. His future is all set out for him by his well-intentioned father. But when his older brother Felix comes for a visit, he encourages Carlos to follow his dream of cooking instead. Suddenly, Felix is tragically killed by a stray bullet, and Carlos begins to question everything in his life. But Felix hasn’t completely left him; his ghost keeps Carlos company, pushing him to follow his heart. Carlos buys a one-way plane ticket to the United States, to eat at a famed restaurant on a tiny island near Seattle, something the brothers had dreamed of doing. There Carlos meets Emma, the chef’s daughter, and they instantly connect. His time with Emma is a respite from his solitary pain. The protagonist is given a dishwasher job at the restaurant, and he begins to learn the ins and outs of the kitchen, eventually securing early morning cooking lessons with the chef. But there’s a catch—Carlos must end his relationship with Emma. As Carlos pursues his dreams, the visits from Felix become fewer and fewer. This is a story of how tragedy can make us question the things that matter most in life. Alsaid has created a quiet, introspective novel dealing with love, loss, and the spaces in-between. Readers will appreciate the peek at a small Washington island and a fine restaurant. This title will also appeal to budding chefs and fans of the popular culinary arts movement. VERDICT Recommended for all YA collections.–Emily Valente, Brooklyn Friends School

Chima, Cinda Williams. Shadowcaster. 560p. (Shattered Realms: Bk. 2). HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Apr. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062380975.

Gr 8 Up –This volume continues the vast and expansive story of the Seven Realms and again jumps forward in time to a land of young warrior orphans who have resumed the war of their dead parents. In this sequel to Flamecaster, Chima brilliantly brings to life Alyssa ana’Raisa, who is the teenage heir to the Gray Wolf Throne, and young Capt. Halston Matelon of King Gerard’s army. Their fates are unfairly tangled in the grudge match between King Gerard and the witch Queen of the Fells, and their connection blossoms from the deep understanding of fighting a war that no longer makes sense. Both characters have parents who are alive, setting them apart from most of the rest of the child warriors of the Seven Realms, and have been fighting a war for just about half their lives. Both lead armies, and both have the weight of their sides’ desire to win squarely on their young, increasingly unwilling shoulders. With betrayal, love, loss, and a spectacular twist, this well-crafted series installment can be read as a stand-alone, as it focuses on a new cast of young, well-developed characters, the next generation of the Seven Realms. Familiar characters make appearances, drawing the thread through the Realms without being heavy-handed. VERDICT A solid, engaging fantasy that will resonate with new readers of Chima’s work and fans of her previous titles.–Nicole Coover-Thompson, Maine West High School, Des Plaines, IL

Dalton, Ryan. The Black Tempest. 448p. (The Time Shift Trilogy: Bk. 2). Jolly Fish. Apr. 2017. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781631631061.

Gr 7-10 –Twins Valentine and Malcolm Gilbert return in this follow-up to The Year of Lightning. Val, Mal, and their friends are enjoying a quieter end to their freshman year as things have (mostly) returned to normal after their narrow escape from time traveler Lucius Carmichael. The peace does not last long. While the group are paying tribute to a fallen friend, two young adults appear through a portal, and with them come a new host of troubles. Tyrathorn and Ashandara, warriors from a far-off kingdom named Everwatch, are trying to stop a man known as the Black Tempest. His power, and that of his second-in-command, the Frost Hammer, is unlike any that the twins have ever faced. They train with siblings Thorn and Asha to try to overcome this new threat to their town and, possibly, the world and time itself. The plot reveals a few surprises, all of which fit the story line well. Characterizations remain strong, and even the newest characters have distinct personalities. The scientific explanations of how the twins manipulate time are adequate, and more background is given about their powers, which helps readers understand just how extraordinary their abilities are. The last chapter is an excellent cliff-hanger that will leave teens wanting more. VERDICT A must-purchase for collections where science fiction is in demand.–Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ

Darrows, Eva. Dead Little Mean Girl. 256p. Harlequin Teen. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780373212415.

Gr 6-10 –Emma is having the hardest year of her life. Her parents divorced, her mother just came out as lesbian (not a problem, just new), and her mom’s girlfriend has the worst daughter in the world. Plus, Emma has to deal with school and friends while dodging the ploys of her evil stepsister, Quinn Littleton, who seems to cause trouble wherever she goes. Quinn is always dressed in the finest clothes and is one of the most beautiful people in school. But it turns out that Quinn isn’t as bad as she seems, and maybe Emma isn’t that innocent herself. Too bad it takes the death of her mean girl stepsister to make Emma understand the hardships Quinn was experiencing. Though this is an accessible and easy read, it will leave readers with a lot to ponder. Darrows delves into the topic of bullying and goes further, asking the question, Why is the bullying going on in the first place? This YA novel will have teens thinking about how they can stop the cycle. VERDICT This nuanced portrayal of bullying and family drama would be a great choice for any antibullying campaign, especially in school or public libraries serving teens.–Rena Gibson, Ralph Ellison Library, Oklahoma City

de la Cruz, Melissa. Alex & Eliza: A Love Story. 368p. Putnam. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524739621. POP

Gr 7 Up –With the popularity of the musical Hamilton still going strong, de la Cruz has struck while the iron is hot and shone a light on the extraordinary wife of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, Eliza Schuyler. The writings about Eliza are sparse, but the author puts that limited knowledge to good use and imbues her fictional version with a strong-willed and charming personality that will instantly have readers cheering for her. Though the research involved here is evident, the historical accuracy still ends up being a bit shaky. By focusing only on the initial courtship between Eliza and Alexander, de la Cruz turns Hamilton into something of a dashing white knight but never acknowledges the interest that existed between him and Eliza’s sister Angelica—in fact, Angelica acts quite coldly toward him. This depiction is only enforced during an imagined arranged engagement between Eliza and another real-life figure named Henry Livingston that results in him drunkenly trying to take advantage of her the night before the wedding. This relationship never existed, and adding an attempted assault just so that Alexander can swoop in and save the day feels not only clichéd but irresponsible. The seeds of potential are peppered throughout the story, but they unfortunately become too overshadowed by unnecessary characterizations. VERDICT Fans of the musical will be excited to see this novel, even though it plays fast and loose with the facts. Purchase only where Hamilton frenzy is still strong.–Kate DiGirolomo, Library Journal

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

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

Destefano, Merrie. Lost Girls. 360p. Entangled Teen. Jan. 2017. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781633756052.

Gr 8 Up –Rachel fell asleep while listening to Taylor Swift’s latest album, and today she woke up in a narrow ditch at the side of a road. Shivering and half buried in a pile of wet leaves, Rachel has no recollection of what happened before she crawled out of the ditch, missing a full year of her life. To reconcile her past and present, Rachel finds the will to improve her condition. Her declarative memories are slowly coming back, and she is determined to solve the mystery of her past. Although Rachel is a fighter, it is unclear how she traces such a complicated journey almost on her own as a teenager with amnesia. As a whole, the book has a coherent structure, uncovering Rachel’s remembrances of her past. Much of the narrative features Rachel’s relationships with her friends, in particular her boyfriend Dylan. Also, her investigation takes her to an underground fight club where “the only rule is there are no rules.” Interspersed throughout her memories are brief reflections on Rachel’s relationship with her family, especially her father and her brother. Less notable is her mother, who is almost entirely absent through the whole story. This mystery represents less explored aspects of teenage life and includes many captivating scenes. VERDICT A good choice for suspenseful YA shelves.–Taraneh Matloob Haghanikar, University of Northern Iowa

Halahmy, Miriam. Behind Closed Doors. 208p. Holiday House. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823436415.

Gr 8 Up –This work explores the complicated relationships between two teen girls and their families. Fifteen-year-old Josie Tate struggles to juggle school, a job, and her mother’s growing hoarding tendencies. Josie uses the money from her job to pay for food and clothing because her mother’s illness has left her unemployed. Things seem to get better for Josie when she meets Jordan, an Olympic hopeful. However, Jordan’s rich family makes her even more aware of the strangeness of her living situation. By contrast, Tasha Brown is a teen whose popular facade hides her growing fear of her mother’s boyfriend. She avoids interactions with him by partying with her best friend, Dom, and managing several overnight stays with friends. The two protagonists are brought together unexpectedly when Josie’s mother is thrown into jail for tax evasion and Tasha runs out of places to stay. Josie realizes she will need help to figure out how to save her mother. Tasha has to decide if she will give her mother another chance. The young women must learn to work together to fix the problems the adults in their lives have created. Child abuse, social services, mental illness, and homelessness are thoroughly examined in the process. Josie and Tasha start out as frenemies and then become friends, and the roles they play shift over the course of the narrative, which helps with the pacing of the story. VERDICT A strong choice for realistic fiction shelves.–Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH

Henstra, Sarah. Mad Miss Mimic. 272p. Penguin/Razorbill. Jan. 2017. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780143192374.

Gr 9 Up –In 1872 England, beautiful and wealthy 17-year-old Leonora Somerville is dutifully seeking a suitable husband under her older sister’s critical eye. Leonora’s speech is flawed by a stutter and sudden, startling, fluent outbursts of another’s voice. Her peculiar disorder frightens others but intrigues handsome Francis Thornfax, the business partner of Leonora’s brother-in-law, Dr. Dewhurst. Despite Leonora’s attraction to Thornfax, she has questions about his secretive opium import business, the experimental “charity” treatments given to the poor by Dr. Dewhurst, and the fatal explosions in London credited to the pro-opium terrorist Black Glove. Gradually, Leonora learns the truth from enigmatic Tom Rampling, an apprentice to Dr. Dewhurst, who has feelings for her. Leonora’s often self-imposed silence makes her an astute observer and narrator. Her strange mimicry outbursts erupt when she is stressed and metaphorically can’t find her own voice. However, late in the narrative, her mimicry disorder vanishes with surprisingly little acknowledgement or resolution. Though the romantic elements are predictable, readers will appreciate the spunky heroine, the Dickensian cast of characters, the interesting historic references to 19th-century opium use, and the action-filled plot. VERDICT Romance fans will enjoy Leonora’s high-society lifestyle, her conflicted attraction to rich Thornfax and poor Tom, and her willingness to take risks to uncover the truth. A fine additional purchase for romantic historical fiction shelves in medium to large collections.–Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC

Maberry, Jonathan. Mars One. 448p. S. & S. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481461610. POP

Gr 8 Up –The year is 2026, and the world is preparing for its first manned mission to Mars. Forty individuals have been chosen to be the first Martians, and genius 16-year-old Tristan Hart is one of them, along with his brilliant parents, despite having to leave his high school sweetheart, Izzy, behind forever. Everyone’s eyes are upon Tristan and the others participating in Mars One, but there are those who don’t want them to go, including a radical religious terrorist group called the Neo-Luddites, who will attempt anything to sabotage the mission. On the flight to the Red Planet, the protagonist must deal with his feelings for Izzy, the weight of advancing humankind by becoming one of the first people to set foot on Mars, and the suspicion that someone on board is the enemy, trying to send them all to their death. Maberry’s latest takes a while to get going (the Mars One crews lift off halfway through the hefty volume), but once it does, it cranks through a series of misfortunes on board that dial up the tension. Tristan is a believable narrator, and readers feel his distress and excitement. A diverse group of characters add to the overall feeling of unity that shines through the story. VERDICT A popular choice for sci-fi shelves, this is a thrilling albeit slow-starting adventure that will satisfy teens—if they can get through the first half before they make it to space.–Tyler Hixson, School Library Journal

Pierce, Nicola. Kings of the Boyne: 1690; The Battle Draws Ever Closer. 336p. Dufour. Mar. 2017. pap. $13. ISBN 9781847176271.

Gr 10 Up –In 1690, the deposed James II gathered a Catholic army to battle for control of Ireland against the newly instated king of England, William of Orange, a Dutch Protestant. This fictionalized historical account of the Battle of the Boyne plays with perspective to give readers a more than complete understanding of the Jacobite and Williamite forces clashing in Ireland, where, propelled by religious fervor and the dream of a free Ireland, the Irish joined both sides of the war. Readers with knowledge of British and Irish history will immediately recognize a well-researched novel. The third-person narrator shifts focus primarily (although not exclusively) among Gerald O’Connor, a young Irish Catholic soldier fighting for James II; James himself; King William; and Daniel Sherrard, a young Irish Protestant soldier fighting in William’s forces. Owing to the many voices, it will become difficult for teens to feel emotionally attached to the characters, despite their careful development. This slowly plotted book dwells more on the attitudes, motivations, and aspirations of individuals rather than on the action of battle, which doesn’t begin until well over halfway through the work. Most likely only advanced readers and history buffs will be patient enough to make it to the gruesome scenes of war, where both muskets and scythes are employed. By the end, readers, like the characters, will realize with sadness that “war is stupid.” VERDICT Purchase for British and Irish history buffs only.–Mariah Manley, Salt Lake City Public Library

Skrutskie, Emily. The Edge of the Abyss. 296p. Flux. Apr. 2017. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781635830002.

Gr 8 Up –Cassandra Leung has become an official member of Santa Selena’s crew. She abandoned her sea monster (a Reckoner), lost her family, and was deceived by Swift, the one person she trusted. Now she must find her place in this world of pirates. Cas learns that there are many Reckoners that were stolen and are now demolishing the ecosystem of the ocean, and all the pirates look to her for a solution. They must destroy the illegal Reckoners to save the sea. To do so, Cas must learn to rely on all those she has lost throughout this journey. She must accept that she will have to kill those she was raised to protect. And she must decide whose side she is on once and for all. Skrutskie’s sequel to The Abyss Surrounds Us is just as engaging as its predecessor. It introduces pirates as a group who work together to protect their life force, the ocean, after being turned away from society. Just like Cas, the audience will struggle as they wonder whom they should support. Readers will love this sci-fi adventure story. VERDICT Purchase where the first novel and sci-fi are popular.–Jessica Strefling, US Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit Library

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Middle Grade: An Immigrant’s Story, Lucha Libre, and More | May 2017 Xpress Reviews http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/books/middle-grade-an-immigrants-story-lucha-libre-and-more-may-2017-xpress-reviews/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/books/middle-grade-an-immigrants-story-lucha-libre-and-more-may-2017-xpress-reviews/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:00:01 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219479 1704-Xpress-MG1-CVs

Carey, Elizabeth Doyle. The Test. 254p. (Junior Lifeguards: Bk. 1). Dunemere. Apr. 2017. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780998499741.

Gr 5-7 –Jenna is getting tired of no longer being the best middle school swimmer on her Cape Cod team. Some newer girls have moved in and stolen her glory, so when she sees the fliers for the Junior Lifeguard program, she gets excited. Jenna manages to convince her friends to join her in the tryouts, and her coach agrees to let her take a break from the team for the summer in order to try out for the program and go through the training. Jenna and her friends have to conquer multiple tests, and their relationships become strained in the process. Secondary characters Piper, Selena, and Ziggy all come with their own family histories and backstories. Some of these are rather clunkily inserted, such as Ziggy’s parents’ opposition to capitalism. Still, this novel is brimming with wholesome tween drama and boy crushes. It brings to mind the cheery it-all-ends-well tone of books from another era, but it also perpetuates stereotypes of middle school girls being obsessed with the cute boys surrounding them. Some scenes attempt to add more emotional heft but fall flat in the face of overwhelming fluffiness. VERDICT An additional purchase for elementary and middle school libraries, a solid option for devoted tween swimmers, and a good choice for libraries in Cape Cod.–Kate Olson, Bangor School District, WI

Freeman, Ruth. One Good Thing About America. illus. by Katherine Honesta. 160p. glossary. websites. Holiday House. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823436958.

Gr 4-6 –Spanning a school year, this touching novel in epistolary format relates the triumphs and travails of a young Congolese refugee, Anaïs, and her family. Settled in Maine, the plucky nine-year-old diligently writes letters home to Oma (her grandmother), who has requested updates in English only. Hoping to help the child acclimate to life in a foreign country, Oma asks Anaïs to include in every missive at least “one good thing about America.” Realistically portraying the writing of an English language learner, the text is peppered with grammatical errors and misspellings. As the narrative progresses, readers see marked improvement in the tween’s writing. Anaïs’s voice feels true as she shares her experiences, which include befriending other immigrant children in her class, participating in traditional American activities such as trick-or-treating and Christmas decorating, and contending with a health emergency that tests her maturity and resolve. However, the letters often simplistically refer to political unrest—Anaïs’s older brother and father are hiding from the government as they try to make their way to a refugee camp in Kenya—and young readers may struggle to fully comprehend the gravity of the situation. Freeman’s characterization of African and Middle Eastern immigrants is well done, and she deftly dispels stereotypes about these cultures. When an American classmate asks Anaïs why she doesn’t wear a hijab like another Somali classmate, the protagonist responds, “Really?… You think Africa is one small place?” Helpful back matter includes links to informational websites, an author’s note, an ELL vocabulary list, and a French glossary. VERDICT Highly recommended for libraries seeking timely stories about the immigrant experience.–Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA

Garza, Xavier. Maximilian and the Lucha Libre Club/Maximiliano y el club de lucha libre. illus. by Xavier Garza. 208p. (Max’s Lucha Libre Adventures: Bk. 3). Cinco Puntos. Nov. 2016. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781941026403; pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781941026410. BL

Gr 3-7 –Maximilian is back in this third book in the series. Wrestling with keeping his lucha libre life and his feelings for Cecilia, the girl of his dreams, a secret, Max doesn’t think his life can get any more complicated. When Paloma, the only friend who knows that Max’s uncle is the great Guardian Angel—the greatest luchador of all time—moves away, Max doesn’t know whom he will be able to talk to about lucha libre. He receives a ticket and backstage passes to attend the Big Brawl in Los Angeles and travels with his uncles and Vampiro Velasquez. He is quickly inducted into the Lucha Libre Club—a group for kids who are related to luchadores—which Paloma is a part of. With the help of Vampiro Velasquez, who provides valuable life lessons as well as instruction on wrestling techniques, the protagonist discovers what makes the Guardian Angel more than just a man in a mask. Written in English and Spanish, this story is filled with excitement and addresses the problems and everyday worries of kids like Max. Illustrations accompany each chapter, and all readers, including reluctant ones, will find something to interest them; the addition of the female luchadoras and their young relatives is a nice touch. Readers of all ages will discover wisdom within the story, especially in the character of Vampiro Velasquez, who reminds us that time passes for everyone. VERDICT Highly recommended, particularly for bilingual collections and where the author’s books are popular.–Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, League City, TX

Khan, Joshua. Dream Magic. illus. by Ben Hibon. 352p. (Shadow Magic: Bk. 2). Disney-Hyperion. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484737620.

Gr 4-7 –The kingdom of Gehenna is in an uproar, and the people are blaming their queen, 13-year-old Lilith Shadow. She used magic, which is forbidden to women and girls, and now the zombies are leaving their graves, a troll army is on the way, and citizens are disappearing from their houses. All the major players are present in this welcome return visit to Castle Gloom, especially Lily’s brave and resourceful friend Thorn. The two must find out the real reason for the chaos before it is too late. Unfortunately, one of their major allies, kingdom executioner (and Thorn’s mentor) Tybalt, is missing and presumed dead. Unsure whether an ancient curse or something even more sinister is at play, Thorn sets out to defend Lily and her kingdom on the back of his giant bat, Hades. Appearing as a ghost and in dreams to both Lily and Thorn, Lily’s father, Lord Shadow, provides critical guidance: “Imagination is the fuel of magic. Magic is an art like music or dancing. Sometimes the best way to learn is just by doing it.” The real villains are identified, and a battle of wits, will, and daring rescues ensues, with not only lives at stake but also the future of all the kingdoms. This book stands well on its own, but familiarity with the first installment, Shadow Magic, will enhance enjoyment. Although Thorn and Lily are young people enmeshed in a very adult struggle, their voices and emotions ring true and are age appropriate. Occasional black-and-white illustrations enhance the text. VERDICT With loads of adventure, an intriguing mystery, and socially relevant touch points, this third entry is likely to circulate well where there are fans of the previous two installments.–Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY

Krawitz, Susan. Viva, Rose! 220p. Holiday House. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823437566.

Gr 4-6 –Rose and her family are Russian Jewish immigrants living in El Paso, TX, in the early 1900s. Rose discovers that one of her older brothers, Abraham, has lied to their parents concerning his whereabouts and has joined Pancho Villa’s army. While trying to have a letter delivered to Abe telling him to give up his outlaw ways and come home, Rose is kidnapped by some of Villa’s soldiers and taken to their camp. There she becomes the playmate/servant of a young and very spoiled girl named Dorotea. Rose finds her brother and tries to convince him to leave with her. The book is filled with danger and suspense. It also contains a lot of history about Pancho Villa and how he fought for the poor of Mexico. The characters of Rose and Dorotea are the most well developed; Rose is quite mature for a 13-year-old. Her first-person narrative is delivered in a straightforward voice with very little emotion, which often doesn’t do justice to the harrowing events in the story. VERDICT A fine supplementary purchase. Hand to fans of historical fiction.–Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC

O’Donnell, Liam. The Case of the Missing Mage. illus. by Mike Deas. 208p. (Tank & Fizz: Bk. 3). Orca. Apr. 2017. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781459812581.

Gr 3-6 –An action-packed detective story set in a land of monsters and magic. Tank and Fizz, monster detectives, are called upon to help their friend Aleetha, a wizard in training, discover the reason for the disappearance of mages from various disciplines. The villains make use of a cloaking spell, so the sleuths are the only two who can actually witness the kidnappings. Combining magic and technology, the trio sneak into the Shadow Tower to get to the bottom of the mystery. Two-tone illustrated panels interspersed between chapters add extra detail to what is already an action-oriented tale. While a quick pace moves the narrative along, characters are a bit flat and world-building is nonexistent. The plot is interesting but ultimately not compelling. Reluctant readers may be drawn to the illustrations as well as to the antics of the heroes, but those looking for richer detail will be unsatisfied. Give to fans of Ursula Vernon’s “Dragonbreath” series or Jennifer Holm’s “Squish” series. VERDICT Recommended for libraries where the other books in this series are popular; an additional purchase elsewhere.–Jenni Frencham, Columbus Public Library, WI

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A Huge Milestone for “The Outsiders” | Pictures of the Week http://www.slj.com/2017/04/industry-news/a-huge-milestone-for-the-outsiders-pictures-of-the-week/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/industry-news/a-huge-milestone-for-the-outsiders-pictures-of-the-week/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:54:03 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219683 Excited guests gathered at the Good Story in the Arlo Hotel in New York City on April 25 to celebrate S.E. Hinton and the 50th anniversary of the publication of her novel The Outsiders. The landmark young adult novel, which Hinton penned while still a high school student, introduced Ponyboy Curtis and other beloved characters to the world in 1967. The book’s popularity among teens has never flagged.

 

First edition cover of The Outsiders, circa 1967.

First edition cover of The Outsiders, circa 1967, Viking

 

S. E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders

S. E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders, addresses the crowd

 

 

Rocco Staino and S.E. Hinton celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders

SLJ Contributor Rocco Staino and Hinton celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Outsiders

 

Hear what S.E. Hinton had to say in conversation with SLJ contributor Rocco Staino on the 45th anniversary of the publication of The Outsiders.

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New Kid-Lit Landmarks To Be Named During Children’s Book Week http://www.slj.com/2017/04/industry-news/new-kid-lit-landmarks-named-during-childrens-book-week/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/industry-news/new-kid-lit-landmarks-named-during-childrens-book-week/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:06:26 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219487 United for Libraries (a division of the American Library Association), Centers for the Book, and a library in maple sugar country are celebrating Children’s Book Week (May 1–7, 2017) with dedications of three Literary Landmarks that recognize a variety of beloved children’s literature.

virginia sorensenMiracles_on_Maple_Hill_1956_cover

On Monday, May 1 in Pennsylvania, the Edinboro Branch of the Erie Public Library will recognize the author Virginia Sorensen. The plaque will be a tribute to the sugar houses of rural northwest Pennsylvania, which were the inspiration for Sorensen’s 1956 Miracles on Maple Hill (Harcourt, 1956). That title, the story of a family who move to maple sugar country to help the father, a POW, overcome the trauma of war, was awarded the 1957 Newbery Medal.

In addition, the event will also recognize the library’s bookmobile on which Sorensen drew inspiration for her novel Curious Missie (Harcourt, 1953).

mark twain

330px-Mark_Twain,_Brady-Handy_photo_portrait,_Feb_7,_1871,_croppedThe site where Mark Twain created the iconic characters in his idylls of the Mississippi River will be recognized on Wednesday, May 3. Quarry Farm in Elmira, NY, now part of Elmira College, was the home of Twain’s sister-in-law, Susan Crane. It still retains the octagonal study where Twain wrote, located about 100 yards from the main house. The characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were more than personifications of American childhood. They “demonstrated that being young was not the same as being immature,” said Dr. Joseph Lemak, director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies. “Seeing an unjust world through a child’s eyes might inspire us to make it better.” The landmark is sponsored by the Empire State Center for the Book, and it’s the 22nd landmark for the state of New York.

Barbara Park

Barbara ParkThe Arizona Center for the Book will be dedicating the first literary landmark for Arizona on Friday, May 5 at the Cherokee Elementary School in Paradise Valley. The landmark will recognize author and famed resident of Paradise Valley Barbara Park, who died in 2013. The author of the popular “Junie B. Jones” series was inspired to write Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus when she noticed a young Cherokee student walking home after he missed the school bus.

The Literary Landmark program is administered by United for Libraries. The Literary Landmarks for Children’s Book Week was spearheaded by the American Library Association/Children’s Book Council joint committee. “The ALA/CBC committee jointly works on many projects to highlight children’s books. Dedicating Literary Landmarks during Children’s Book Week is an excellent example of this partnership,” says Susan Polos, cochair of the committee. “Perhaps in 2018 we can have seven dedications, one for each day of Children’s Book Week.”

Children’s Book Week events expanded in 2017, which is its 98th year. The new additions include reformatted book awards and original materials, including artwork.

RELATED: SLJ‘s Fuse #8 Production blogger, Betsy Bird, rounded up a collection of public children’s literature statues around the country.

 

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Picture Books: Fatherhood, Fears, and More | May 2017 Xpress Reviews http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/books/picture-books-fatherhood-fears-and-more-may-2017-xpress-reviews/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/books/picture-books-fatherhood-fears-and-more-may-2017-xpress-reviews/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:00:14 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219477 1704-Xpress-PB-CVs

Agaoglu, Basak. The Almost Impossible Thing. illus. by Basak Agaoglu. 32p. Philomel. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399548277.

PreS-Gr 2 –This title is about a completely impossible creature: a rabbit with exceptionally long ears who takes flight after a series of failed attempts. He’s finally launched, propelled by his ears and the help of 21 other rabbits, all engaged in an uncomfortable-looking exercise of ear twirling. A case could be made that stranger things have happened in children’s books. Horton did hatch an egg, after all, and Charlotte spun lifesaving phrases into her web. However, those stories have settings, but this one does not. Agaoglu’s loose, fluid lines are not without charm, but they are largely lacking context. At times, viewers explore a landscape of mountains or float on an inner tube; at others, they are indoors with a chalkboard or in a ball pit. Cast adrift in a vague landscape populated by animals as varied as a zebra, fox, polar bear, and turtle, readers are left unmoored. VERDICT The lessons of persistence and cooperation are all very well, but many other stories have tackled them more successfully. For a look at cooperation, try classic folktales such as “The Turnip” or “Why the Sky Is Far Away”; for texts that tackle determination, use Crockett Johnson’s The Carrot Seed instead.–Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY

Bachelet, Gilles. Mrs. White Rabbit. illus. by Gilles Bachelet. 32p. Eerdmans. Feb. 2017. Tr $17. ISBN 9780802854834.

Gr 1-4 –It seems wholly appropriate that a picture book based on a character from the odd world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice would be mighty curious itself. Written in the form of a diary by the wife of the White Rabbit, who is always late—as it turns out, for some pretty sordid reasons—the story relays the trials and tribulations of Mrs. Rabbit’s days. In very adult and sophisticated language, she tells of her utter unhappiness with her life in a household that includes a teenage daughter who appears to border on anorexic in her efforts to become a bunny model, twin boys who play marbles with their own scat, and a young lad who is precociously interested in girls. The jokes are largely adult: for example, the White Rabbit is a drunkard who needs to be fetched from the palace in a wheelbarrow. The illustrations are fantastic, with incredible detail, but much of the humor will be appreciated only by those who know the Alice stories. Readers who haven’t been previously exposed to the tales will likely be confused and put off by the dolorous tone of the text. VERDICT Bachelet is undoubtedly an incredibly talented and funny illustrator, but the palpable anger of Mrs. White Rabbit and the many specific references to Alice’s world may bewilder young readers. Older readers familiar with Wonderland will likely find the book most amusing and enjoy the intricate, colorful illustrations.–B. Allison Gray, Goleta Public Library, CA

Bright, Paul. The Hole Story. illus. by Bruce Ingman. 32p. Andersen. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781512439502.

K-Gr 2 –In this original British tale, Hamish and Hermione are two holes who leave their abode in a wedge of Swiss cheese and seek a new home “where holes can be useful” and bring joy. After attempting to take up residence in the king’s sock and the queen’s knickers, the holes create decided unhappiness and chaos in the royal palace. As Hamish and Hermione move into new homes, their colors change to suit each situation, encouraging readers to spot their hiding places and figure out the inevitable impact they will have on the secondary characters. The warmly hued illustrations contain subtle details, such as the dish running away with the spoon in the opening pages, reinforcing motifs and inviting discussion. Appropriately, the holes’ adventures are conveyed through a series of circular vignettes, underscoring the idea that all things have a purpose in life. It is with relief that Hamish and Hermione, through the efforts of the royal carpenter, find a home in freshly carved flutes for the prince and princess. However, the king and queen are not too thrilled at hearing their children practice until the wee hours of the morning, so the holes are still somewhat of a nuisance. VERDICT While lengthier than the average picture book, this quirky read-aloud asks questions about what it is that makes one special, and the clever solution is delivered in a humorous and delightful way.–Rachel Zuffa, Racine Public Library, WI

Crossley, Kimball. When I Am with Dad. illus. by Katie Gamb. 32p. Two Little Birds. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780991293575.

PreS-Gr 2 –Elizabeth likes everything neat, tidy, and organized, but things with her dad aren’t always so well planned. In spare words and revealing acrylic illustrations, this slender picture book examines realistic issues facing many children while emphasizing the importance of loving the whole person, regardless of differences. Two young girls spend the day with their dad, and because Crossley doesn’t reveal their background, the book will be applicable to children in single-family or two-home situations. Problems arise, however, such as when the girls’ dad doesn’t know how to do their hair or has to take them into the “wrong bathroom.” A heartfelt illustration shows Elizabeth’s consternation at not going into the clearly labeled women’s restroom, for she is old enough to recognize this distinction. But she is still young enough that her dad needs to protect her and her sister, as shown by her kid sister scrambling up the grocery store’s shelves in the background while her dad’s back is turned. With a subdued palette and expressive lines, Gamb’s art is the perfect accompaniment to Crossley’s words. VERDICT This is a welcome addition to picture book collections about families and fathers, especially because there are too few titles of quality about realistic issues.–Rachel Zuffa, Racine Public Library, WI

Enova, Dušan. Eco, el hada de la naturaleza. illus. by Maja Lubi. 32p. Picarona. Nov. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9788416648689.

K-Gr 3 –Translated into Spanish from Slovenian, this allegorical tale follows the crusade of Eco the water/nature fairy, Daimoon the dragon, and a human boy named Bell as they join forces to battle the evil lake creature, Wardoo. When Wardoo falls in love with Eco, he strives to be worthy of her—until he notices that Bell has monopolized her attention. In a jealous rage, he undermines the dikes protecting Bell’s village. Daimoon flies to the rescue and buries Wardoo forever under a landslide of boulders. Enova’s needlessly ponderous and overly ambitious fairy tale introduces a hodgepodge of narrative threads that have nothing to do with the story’s principal message: to love and protect nature and all its gifts. The assertion that people must be taught to respect their environment comes across as ineffectual and redundant because Bell and his people were already living in harmony prior to Eco’s extraterrestrial appearance. The concept that hate and jealousy destroy from within and without is connected only loosely to the message of environmental responsibility. The murky resolution is made tolerable by Lubi’s pastel illustrations, which complement Enova’s simplistic tale. The wide-eyed, cherubic characters are evocative of Precious Moments figurines. VERDICT Although convoluted and didactic, this effort could be used as a springboard to teach young readers respect for the environment. An additional purchase.–Mary Margaret Mercado, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ

Fuller, T. Nat. A Good Day for a Hat. illus. by Rob Hodgson. 32p. Abrams Appleseed. Mar. 2017. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781419723001.

PreS-K –Mr. Brown knows that today is a good day for a hat. And he would know, because he has one for every occasion—a wide-brimmed hat for rain, a cozy earflap hat for snow, even a chef’s hat for the big Bear County Cook-off! But today, a mischievous rabbit is creating chaos with its magic wand. Each time Mr. Brown opens his front door, something has changed, causing the bear to go back inside to change his hat. Finally, Mr. Brown must leave his house or be late to meet mousy Miss Plum. So he stacks several hats on his head and arrives at Miss Plum’s just in time for a surprise birthday party for him! Luckily, his friend has just the right hat for that! This bright and cheerful hat-filled book (don’t miss the whimsical endpapers) is similar in tone and structure to Brian Won’s Hooray for Hat! and Jory John’s Goodnight, Already! The illustrations, created digitally with pencil, crayon, and ink, use a presentational perspective; kids will feel as though they are looking at a theater pantomime through a proscenium. Flat, geometric shapes create backgrounds, and loose-limbed characters stare directly at viewers. VERDICT Although the book fails to pull readers in emotionally and there’s no explanation for the pesky rabbit, the repetitive structure, plot-driven narrative, and large, easy-to-read font make this a fun storytime title for toddlers or preschoolers.–Amy Seto Forrester, Denver Public Library

Gravett, Emily. ¡El lobo no nos morderá! illus. by Emily Gravett. 32p. Picarona. Feb. 2017. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9788416648245.

PreS-K –In this Spanish-language translation of Gravett’s Wolf Won’t Bite, three confident circus pigs capture a wolf in the wild using a large net and invite all to come to the show. They make the wolf stand on a stool, wear a gigantic bow, jump through hoops, and much more, all while promising that the wolf won’t bite! The wolf’s confused expressions will keep young readers fairly certain that the pigs are right—he will not bite—but after shooting the wolf from a cannon and sawing him in half, the pigs make the mistake of placing their heads in the wolf’s mouth. Suddenly the wolf is no longer confused, and young readers will quickly notice the smile forming on his face. The fun illustrations on white backgrounds and the large text wonderfully portray the circus atmosphere, and the ending will leave children wanting to read the story again. VERDICT Recommended for all Spanish picture book collections.–Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, League City, TX

Hula, Saskia. Gilbert y sus horripilantes criaturas. illus. by Eva Muszynski. 32p. Picarona. Nov. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9788416648726.

K-Gr 2 –This catalogue of creepy creatures centers on Gilbert and his insensitive mother. All of these beasties are hidden in every nook and cranny of his formidable home. Deciding that Gilbert is old enough to be left alone, his mother callously departs for the pharmacy. Before he can protest, the door slams shut. Gilbert can practically hear the distant gnashing of teeth. What’s worse, he has to go to the bathroom. How is he to safely navigate through the perilous corridors? He must make allies. The rhinoceros is the perfect choice, but where is he? Down the list Gilbert goes, but none of the animals can be found. At last, he makes it to the bathroom, bare-bottomed and directly under a wild, dangling poisonous spider! After a hair-raising moment, Gilbert realizes that he has finally found an ally—at least until Mom gets home. Hula’s spot-on tale about overcoming fears—real or imaginary—and forging ahead to personal triumph is smartly accompanied by Muszynski’s predominantly dusky purple watercolors. The ominous shadows teem with skulking terrors, and Gilbert’s expressive eyebrows convey his every emotion. However, the small font size makes it difficult to enjoy this otherwise excellent story. VERDICT A smart, humorous, and gently encouraging tale for timid souls everywhere.–Mary Margaret Mercado, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ

Jacobs, Kim, retel. Princess Sophie and the Six Swans: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm. illus. by Kim Jacobs. 40p. Wisdom Tales. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781937786670.

Gr 1-3 –The story of the six brothers transformed into swans by a jealous and wicked stepmother is one of the best loved Grimm tales, although, as the author says in her note, it was around long before the Grimms included it in their collection. The feisty and determined sister, now named Sophie, is a fully fleshed-out character whose commitment to saving her brothers, even at great pain and eventually danger to her own life, will inspire admiration. The painterly illustrations are lovely and capture a real sense of “once upon a time, long ago and far away.” The colors are soft and have an ethereal quality. VERDICT A solid addition to most folklore collections. Suitable as a read-aloud or for independent reading across elementary levels.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

Kelly, John. Can I Join Your Club? illus. by Steph Laberis. 32p. Kane Miller. Jan. 2017. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781610675932.

K-Gr 2 –Hoping to make some new friends, Duck eagerly visits Lion, Snake, and Elephant, inquiring about joining each animal’s club. Despite his best efforts—including donning accessories to look more like each animal and making enthusiastic attempts to replicate their special sounds—Duck is simply unable to make the cut. He cannot roar like Lion, hiss like Snake, or trumpet like Elephant. Time and again, poor Duck’s applications are “DENIED,” and he is told that he’s just not what the club is looking for. Rather than admit defeat, plucky Duck decides to start his own club in which everyone is welcome. Soon the all-inclusive group is the most popular, and everyone learns that “you can never have too many friends.” Dynamic illustrations add humor to the story, and the animals’ exaggerated movements and expressions are sure to elicit giggles. VERDICT The onomatopoeia included in the animal sounds also makes this an entertaining choice for reading aloud. With a lighthearted but important message of tolerance and friendship, this is a solid addition to any library. Join the club!–Whitney LeBlanc, KIPP New Orleans Schools, LA

KipLing, Rudyard. The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Adventures. retold by Joe Rhatigan & Charles Nurnberg. illus. by Debra Bandelin & Bob Dacey. 28p. Quarto/MoonDance. Dec. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781633221130.

Gr 1-4 –When classic books are abridged and truncated (in this case called “a modern retelling”), the question always arises as to whether the heart of the story remains intact or whether it has been lost in oversimplification. Will the abridgement whet children’s appetites so that they will approach the original version when older, or will they possibly believe they’ve already read it and pass it by? Rhatigan and Nurnberg have managed to make the story accessible to younger readers while preserving the main plot and characters. The narrative moves along quickly and maintains the drama of the original tale of little Mowgli, who is adopted by a wolf pack, befriended by Baloo and Bagheera, and threatened by Shere Khan, the vicious tiger. The illustrations are bright and flow across the spreads. An alert child may spot characters from other Kipling tales. VERDICT Buy where there is interest in other Kipling classics and their movie versions.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

Laguarda, Elena, María Fernanda Laguarda, & Regina Novelo Quintana. Ati y su caja de besos. illus. by Alejandra Kurtycz. 56p. (Ati: Bk. 2). Uranito. Sept. 2016. Tr $7.95. ISBN 9786079344993.

PreS-Gr 2 –Ati is a little dragon who shares an important message with children and caregivers alike in this Spanish-language picture book. Ati attends his grandmother’s birthday party, where he encounters his aunts, whose affectionate greetings make him feel uncomfortable. After Ati asks his grandmother for help coping with the situation, he finds a creative, healthy, and safe way to interact with these family members. Instead of allowing his aunts to smother him with hugs and kisses, Ati creates a caja de besos, or a box of kisses, to simply give to his aunts when they greet him. Children and the adults in their lives will learn that healthy boundaries and self-care are important to staying safe and that they should always tell a trusted adult when they feel uncomfortable. The back of the book includes templates for readers to create their own box of kisses and provides readers with tools and reminders for identifying situations of potential risk. This book offers concrete direction for self-care and is accessible enough for the very young. Bright, simple watercolor illustrations enhance the text. VERDICT Equal parts creative and practical, this follow-up to Ati el dragon de las estrellas will be appreciated by children and caregivers because of its discussion of a noteworthy topic. Educators would also benefit from this critical addition to their Spanish collections.–Natalie Braham, Denver Public Library

Loth, Sebastian. Josefina. illus. by Sebastian Loth. 96p. Uranito. Jan. 2017. Tr $8.95. ISBN 9788416773039.

K-Gr 2 –In this Spanish-language picture book, Josefina is a chicken who lives a very happy life; she spends her days searching for worms, soaking up the sun, and taking baths—until one day, when she notices that the other chickens have eggs and she does not. She tries and tries to lay an egg—she does yoga, reads books on the subject, and more, but nothing works. Josefina becomes sad, and to top it off, it rains for three whole days. But as the sun comes out, she decides that enough is enough and does something she has always wanted to do—she buys herself some skates. As Josefina enjoys herself, something unexpected happens. Young readers will love this fun and hopeful chicken and be inspired by her unwillingness to let anything keep her down. The humorous illustrations combine with the short and clear text to paint a lovely picture of Josefina. VERDICT Young readers will find a beautiful lesson in this story; recommended for all Spanish children’s collections.–Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, League City, TX

Nencini, Patrizia. ¡Brum, brum, brum! illus. by Vinicio Salvini. ISBN 9788416648412.

––––. ¡Naricitas y narizotas! illus. by Annalisa Sanmartino & Giulia Torelli. ISBN 9788416648405.

ea vol: 7p. Picarona. Feb. 2017. Board $11.95.

PreS-K –These titles present delightful rhymes that feature engaging vocabulary. Both board books are fun to read aloud and may be adapted to common song tunes for a richer early literacy engagement. ¡Naricitas y narizotas! features an interesting range of animals who revel in taking in the aromas of their favorite foods. For example, Hippopotamus takes a whiff of just-baked cake, and Panda enjoys smelling his feast of green bamboo stalks. The illustrations are in bold colors and are rendered in harmonizing hued palettes. They use accessible geometric shapes, including circles, rectangles, curves, and ovals, along with circle-shaped cutouts, to form each animal’s nostrils. As readers turn the page, the cutouts form the shape of the next featured food item. These cutouts complement the thick board book pages, making this title even more accessible to tiny hands and readers. ¡Brum, brum, brum! also uses this cutout motif to good effect. “Brum brum” is a common onomatopoeia used in Spanish to represent the sound of vehicles. Trucks, tractors, school buses, and motorbikes all make appearances. Nencini’s delightful rhymes offer fun alliterations for readers to share aloud with little ones. She assigns each of her animal characters—from bears to kangaroos to badgers—charming names, including Amadeo, Valentín, Romeo, and Jacinto. Seeing unique Spanish-language names in books for children is a definite plus. VERDICT Welcome additions to any children’s literature collection that seeks to be responsive to the rich language assets and early literacy needs of Spanish-speaking caretakers and children.–Lettycia Terrones, Los Angeles Public Library

Paglia, Isabella. ¿Mamá, sólo hay una? ISBN 9788416648832.

––––. ¡Qué grande eres, Papá! ISBN 9788416648818.

ea vol: illus. by Francesca Cavallaro. 48p. Picarona. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.95.

K-Gr 2 –These vibrant Spanish-language picture books celebrate adoption and blended families. In ¿Mamá, sólo hay una? two girls take turns praising their mothers until one says that she has two mothers—her birth mother and her adoptive mother. The other girl accuses her of lying. The adopted girl, with the help of some friends, explains that yes, it is possible for her to have two mothers. Ultimately, she says, what matters isn’t how children end up with their mothers but that their mothers love them. ¡Qué grande eres, Papá! follows a similar story line, with a boy and a brother and sister celebrating their fathers. Another child mentions that his birth father left before he was born, so his stepfather is raising him with his mother. The same lesson is imparted, this time with the help of a friend who has a single dad. Both of these books are serviceable introductions to adoption and blended families and boast colorful, attractive illustrations. There is no mention of families with parents of the same gender. There’s also a reinforcement of traditional gender roles—the two mothers in Mamá are praised as beautiful, nice, and smart and work as an office administrator and a teacher, while the first two fathers mentioned in Papá are smart, strong, and brave and work as a mechanic and a veterinarian. It is refreshing to see that the third father takes care of the housework, but even that gets put into a gendered context when it is said that he does it just as well as mom. VERDICT Consider as a first purchase where Spanish-language titles about families and adoption are needed. An additional purchase elsewhere.–Molly Hone, Pequannock Township Public Library, NJ

Rodari, Gianni. Una escuela tan grande como el mundo. illus. by Allegra Agliardi. 40p. Picarona. Feb. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9788416648863.

PreS-Gr 3 –Translated from Italian to Spanish, this sparsely worded guide is directed at readers of all ages. Rodari’s posthumously published reaffirmation of his personal philosophy is a gentle reminder that all experiences—good or bad, exciting or boring—contribute to the person we ultimately become. The book follows the exploits of a spunky redhead in a hot-air balloon designed to resemble Earth, and invites readers to view the entire world as a school and each life path as a lesson. Every person, encounter, or interaction teaches the protagonist to keep venturing into the world. The message is similar to that of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go: learning is an ongoing process that gives life meaning, making the unknown more important than the known. Agliardi’s brightly detailed, childlike illustrations nicely complement the message of internal and external exploration as a means of personal growth. VERDICT For anyone starting school, a new job, or any other grand adventure. A strong Spanish-language choice for picture book collections.–Mary Margaret Mercado, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ

Roth, Carol. Hold Your Temper, Tiger! illus. by Rashin. 32p. NorthSouth. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735842748.

PreS-K –Little Tiger has a temper that flares up when he does not get his way, which is often. When Mama Tiger tells him to wash his tail at bath time, he yells, cries, and stomps his feet, and his tantrums get even worse when he’s denied more cookies. One day, when Little Tiger refuses to clean up his toys, Mama gives him an ultimatum. “Don’t make me ask you again,” she says. “I’M NOT DOING IT!” he bellows. She warns him to “hold” his temper “or else,” which frightens Little Tiger enough to make some effort to control his volatile emotions to avoid the risk of losing playtime, books, or even his coveted dessert. The crucial question is where to hold his temper: In his pocket? In his hand? In his underwear? Finally, Little Tiger discovers that the perfect place to keep his anger in check is in a baseball cap. Reminiscent in many ways of the protagonist of Molly Bang’s When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry, Little Tiger does not run off to a quieter place to cool down but releases his temper only to capture it again. It may seem odd that a hat is able to store emotions, but Roth uses the cap to suggest that it’s OK for Little Tiger to express himself privately without completely losing his temper. Rashin’s bold red background conveys the overall mood of the story, and the quirky pictures of Little Tiger exhaling blue, green, and red flames (some with ghoulish expressions) add a comical element to a tale about the frustrating difficulties of handling emotions. VERDICT A picture book that will find an audience among preschoolers who are learning to deal with anger issues.–Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY

Rouss, Sylvia A. Sammy Spider’s First Bar Mitzvah. illus. by Katherine Janus Kahn. 32p. Kar-Ben. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467789318; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781467794121.

K-Gr 3 –Sammy, the cute, curious spider in this long-running series, has celebrated all of the Jewish holidays, gone to school with Josh Shapiro, learned about Jewish values, and traveled to Israel. In this installment, he sneaks into Mr. Shapiro’s tallit bag (the small, zippered velvet bag he uses to carry his prayer shawl and kippah to synagogue) to attend Josh’s cousin Ben’s bar mitzvah. When the Shapiros arrive at the synagogue, Sammy crawls out of the bag and into a large bowl of candy just as Mr. Shapiro grabs a handful. Sammy clings to a piece of candy in Mr. Shapiro’s pocket and watches the bar mitzvah boy receive his own prayer shawl, open the ark, and chant from the Torah. At the conclusion of the service, everyone throws the candy at Ben so that he will have “a sweet life filled with Torah and good deeds.” Sammy flies through the air with the candy and luckily is picked up by Josh and safely (and miraculously!) returned home to Mrs. Spider. The bright cut-paper illustrations, typical of the series, help to depict a contemporary Jewish synagogue during this important life cycle event. A brief paragraph with additional information is appended. VERDICT Schools and libraries where the Sammy Spider books are popular will welcome this latest addition, which could also be helpful in preparing a young child who is attending a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony for the first time.–Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL

Wang, Andrea. The Nian Monster. illus. by Alina Chau. 32p. Albert Whitman. Dec. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807556429.

PreS-Gr 2 –While decorating for Chinese New Year, Po Po tells Xingling about the Nian Monster, who used to eat entire villages. The New Year traditions involving loud sounds, fire, and the color red successfully scared him off. Unfortunately, that was thousands of years ago, and he’s not afraid anymore! The Nian Monster returns and threatens to eat Shanghai. Using other New Year traditions of long life noodles, sticky rice cakes, and fireworks, Xingling successfully saves her city. Chau’s watercolor illustrations are filled with warm colors and humor. In one spread, a crowd of people in Yu Garden flee the Nian Monster—except for one person, who would rather take a selfie with the mythical beast. The monster, who looks more adorable than menacing, spreads chaos at other Shanghai landmarks, such as People’s Square and Oriental Pearl Tower, but the quick-thinking Xingling is never afraid as she enacts her plans. An author’s note discusses language and some New Year’s traditions seen in the story. VERDICT This tale of New Year’s high jinks has enough information to be enjoyed by those who have never encountered the holiday, and the focus on Xingling’s wits and the monster’s antics will be a draw for those who have celebrated it their entire lives. A fun read-aloud that’s sure to induce giggles.–Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington County Public Libraries, VA

Wang, Zaozao. An’s Seed. tr. from Chinese by Helen Wang. illus. by Li Huang. 40p. Candied Plums. Dec. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781945295133.

K-Gr 4 –A philosophical tale about how doing things at the appropriate time will lead to effective results. A master monk gives each student—Ben, Jing, and An—a thousand-year-old lotus seed and tells them to grow it. The students have their own ideas and put them into action. Ben wants his seed to grow fast. He waits and waits, but the buried seed never sprouts, and he is so angry that he gives up. Jing chooses the best flower pot and uses the best fertilizer, and his seed starts to sprout. He then covers it with a golden lid. Unfortunately, the seedling withers and shortly dies. When spring finally comes, An plants his seed in the corner next to the pond. The seed sprouts, and one summer morning, the lotus flower blooms. Simple text and appealing pictures illustrate the story of the three young monks’ activities simultaneously to provide interesting pictures of their different personalities. However, a couple of pages with text set on darker colored illustrations are a bit challenging to read. The last three illustrations, which feature a green tone, are very appealing. The simplified Chinese characters with transliterated romanization can be used for learning or teaching Chinese for correct pronunciation. “Words and expressions” of Chinese script and the Pinyin pronunciation with the English equivalent provide one-on-one meanings between Chinese and English words. VERDICT This book is useful for teachers, parents, or librarians with Chinese skills to teach students who are interested in learning Chinese. Best shared one-on-one.–Ching-Yen Donahue, BookOps, New York

Xiao, Mao. CeeCee. tr. from Chinese by Helen Wang. illus. by Chunmiao Li & Yanhong Zhang. 40p. Candied Plums. Dec. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781945295140.

K-Gr 2 –This title keeps readers wondering why a girl is not engaging with the other children in their activities. The others play shuttlecock, hopscotch, and beanbag tag. They swing on swings, spin flying saucer discs, float in bumper boats, sing in the choir, have a picnic, and crowd around while CeeCee sits alone. Everyone is wondering, is she sick? Is she in a bad mood? Why doesn’t she join in the fun? Finally, the answer comes when the girl is thanked for being the most wonderful model for a portrait an artist is painting. This book has simple text and colorful illustrations, which emphasize the contrast between the child’s stillness and the noise around her. Overall, the artwork details are too small and too crowded, with many people and activities around the girl that make her hard to find. The simplified Chinese characters, with Roman transliteration directly above the Chinese scripts, provide guidance on Chinese pronunciation. The Pinyin pronunciation directs the proper Mandarin tones. VERDICT This is an interesting tale recommended for teachers, parents, and librarians with Chinese skills to read to children. A very sweet story with a surprising ending.–Ching-Yen Donahue, BookOps, New York

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Thriving During Leadership Change | Take the Lead http://www.slj.com/2017/04/opinion/thriving-during-leadership-change-take-the-lead/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/opinion/thriving-during-leadership-change-take-the-lead/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 16:37:52 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219629 Changes in leadership are inevitable in today’s educational climate. Principals relocate and move up the career ladder with dizzying speed. District leaders switch school systems every few years. As soon as you educate your administrators on your school library program’s value, new ones come in, and you’re back at square one. You’ll find that turnover can derail your program—but only if you let it.

One of the biggest challenges facing our profession is that school leaders don’t always understand the value that school library programs bring to our schools. Administration classes don’t include instruction on the library’s pivotal role. Accordingly, they can view the position as adjunct. This can lead to turning their librarians into fundraising coordinators, interventionists, social committee chairs—all jobs that take away from the crucial work of collaborating with teachers to provide in-depth student instruction. Educating new leaders on the essentials of our thriving library programs is exhausting but necessary work.

What are the new head’s priorities? Luckily, as a librarian, you know how to research! Learn about the background of your new administrator. If they are from a different district, network with a librarian there. Did they support a materials budget? A flexible schedule? Clerical staff? Perhaps the prior district did not have librarians. If you uncover information that causes concern, take comfort in the possibility that your new leader hasn’t seen an exemplary model of a dynamic library program.

Adapt and communicate

Find out the new person’s educational focus. Is it instructional technology? Advocacy of literacy? Is the vision for the school a STEM or arts focus? A great thing about school library programs is that we can adapt them to meet specific building and district needs while still holding true to our mission. We’re flexible. Everything we do can be tied back to a strategic goal. If your administrator is interested in STEM, focus your communication on how you provide your students with hands-on opportunities through your library maker space program. If they are into literacy, highlight your diverse, well-rounded collection and provision of a schoolwide reading promotion program that offers students choice in their reading. Find a way to highlight how the library can help the administrator move the program in the direction of his or her passion.

Once you know your leader’s priorities, make a communications plan to grab attention and educate. Tailor your message to their passions and strategic needs. Your administrator will be pressed for time, so present your story succinctly with visuals: infographics, captioned photos, and videos. Anchor these accomplishments with research results from state library studies, grounding your assertions and showing that it’s not just you saying that your program is essential—it’s a national expectation that is solidly research-based. You are the expert on library programs. Lead with confidence.

Find opportunity

Your leadership will change. Prepare now by documenting the awesome things you do in your library. Produce video testimonials of teachers discussing how your collaboration led to increased student learning. Show students engaged in inquiry, reading, and making. Beef up your website, highlighting the learning in your library. Invite district administrators and parents to see your lessons. You’ll create advocates who will be ready to proclaim the library gospel when new leadership arrives.

Change is hard on staffs and on new administrators. They hear a lot of negative noise and have to tackle resistance. Be a shining light of positivity. Cheerlead your new head’s agenda as you enhance your program. It’s a win-win. Get involved in district or building committees that your leader champions. Show your instructional leadership outside the library. It will give you credibility and the opportunity to develop your library program in fresh ways.

Panter-Suzanne-Contrib_webSuzanna L. Panter is the innovator facilitator for school libraries in Tacoma (WA) Public Schools.

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Six YA Titles That Epitomize #OwnVoices http://www.slj.com/2017/04/diversity/six-ya-titles-that-epitomize-ownvoices/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/diversity/six-ya-titles-that-epitomize-ownvoices/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:40:14 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219534 Childrens-Books-Infographic-2017The hashtag #diverselit is so 2015. The hot Twitter hashtag now is #OwnVoices, which indicates that a book was written by a member of a marginalized community that it depicts. In 2017, when still only 28 percent of children’s/YA books published each year represent people of color, and when fewer still portray marginalized experiences (such as disability, sexual orientation, or religion), it is important to note the ties and tensions between diverse representation and diverse creators. Black, Native, or Latinx authors wrote only six percent of all children’s (that included YA) literature published in 2016, according to the latest data from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center.

Fiction is for everyone, of course, but nobody knows a community better than someone who is a part of it. The reason we call for diverse books is so that all kids can develop empathy and understanding of others—and also so that the most marginalized and at-risk kids can see themselves reflected in a positive light. While publishers have begun to respond to the calls for diverse books, the majority of those being released are coming from white authors—not the marginalized groups who are struggling so much to be heard.

So enter #OwnVoices, which responds to this wide gap between diverse books written by outsiders and diverse books written by diverse creators. The hashtag was started by YA author Corinne Duyvis, and it encompasses all forms of diversity, including disability, sexual orientation, and religion. #OwnVoices is an adjective that describes a book, not a person. By definition, writing about a person who shares your identity makes your story #OwnVoices, and the point of the hashtag is to identify characters who are marginalized. To that end, it is inappropriate and imprecise to use the hashtag to describe a person. “#OwnVoices writers” is a nonsensical term because it can describe anybody writing about their personal experience. The hashtag calls attention to stories written by and about the same marginalized group as the author.

While being of a particular identity does not make you speak for the experiences of everyone who shares that identity, it is certainly a credential unlike any other. One need only to look over the past two years to find numerous egregious and offensive missteps and insensitive books written by people who aren’t in the same group as their protagonists (to start, simply check Twitter or your favorite YA book blog for takes on When We Was Fierce, The Continent, or Carve the Mark.) Diversity matters, but authenticity and accuracy matter even more. It is vitally important that publishers make acquiring #OwnVoices books a priority, and it is just as essential that librarians strive not just to purchase diversely, but to purchase books by marginalized authors and illustrators, who often face adversity and institutional bias during the publishing process.

While the numbers are low, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some #OwnVoices titles out there to celebrate. Here are some recent and upcoming releases of note, coupled with a suggestion for readalikes.

YA-SP-AbdelFattah-TheLinesWeCrossThe Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Scholastic. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338118667.

A timely dual-perspective novel about a refugee girl from Afghanistan who wins a scholarship to a prestigious school and her male classmate, whose father advocates for Australia to close its borders to refugees.

Major themes: New kid at school, standing up to your parents, racism and prejudice, microaggressions

Readalike: Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill. Delacorte. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780385741781.

north of happyNorth of Happy by Adi Alsaid. Harlequin Teen. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780373212286.

Carlos graduates from a fancy high school in Mexico City and, on a recommendation that his late brother made, flies to Washington State to avoid the internship his father arranged for him. He ends up in a high-end restaurant, falling in love, and cooking staff meals in an attempt to get the chef to notice him.

Major themes: Grief, class, forbidden love, finding your passion

Readalike: Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos. HMH. 2013. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780544439535.

we-are-okWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour. Dutton. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525425892.

Taking place over the first few days of winter break, this quiet book deals with the aftermath of two losses—the grandfather who raised Marin and the best friend who may have been something more, had Marin not run off. Two friends try to reconcile, and consider their sexuality.

Major themes: grief, questioning of sexuality

Readalike: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. S. & S. 2012. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781442408937.

when dimpleWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481478687.

Dimple goes to a tech camp to get a break from her parents’ talk of an arranged marriage. There, she meets Rishi—who happens to be the future husband her parents selected. They have to find a way to work together, when liking Rishi means that Dimple will be going along with her parents wishes, something that she’s not completely happy about.

Major themes: computer programming, arranged marriages, romance, camp

Readalike: Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen. Little, Brown. 2006. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780316011310.

gem & dixieGem & Dixie by Sara Zarr. HarperCollins. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062434593.

A what-if that readers have probably dreamed of—finding a bag of money—comes true for two sisters living in poverty, with an addict mother and a mostly absent father. They take a few days to consider their options, reconnect, and treat themselves the way their parents never have.

Major themes: family, abandonment, food insecurity, poverty

Readalike: If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780545417310.

YA-SP-Zoboi-AmericanStreetAmerican Street by Ibi Zoboi. HarperCollins. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062473042.

A different kind of immigrant tale, this one has a touch of magic. It tells the story of Fabiola, a teen girl whose mother is detained as they emigrate from Haiti. She winds up in Detroit with her aunt and cousins, who have assimilated into the African American culture, while Fabiola desperately misses Haitian culture.

Major themes: drugs, gangs, immigration, magic realism

Readalike: The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu. Running Pr. 2014. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9780762459162.

Sarah Hannah Gómez is a former school librarian. She now works as a freelance writer and editor and fitness instructor. She is a doctoral student in the Language, Reading and Culture program at the University of Arizona. Find her on Twitter @shgmclicious or at shgmclicious.com

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YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten; L.A. Times Book Awards Announced http://www.slj.com/2017/04/industry-news/yalsas-teens-top-ten-l-a-times-book-awards-announced/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/industry-news/yalsas-teens-top-ten-l-a-times-book-awards-announced/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 14:16:31 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219579 YALSA Teen Top Ten2017 Teens’ Top Ten Nominees Revealed
The nominees for YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten were announced on April 13, during National Library Week, by the stars of Everything, Everything, the film adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s debut YA novel. The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where young adults nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Nominators are members of teen book groups in 15 school and public libraries around the country. Readers ages 12–18 will vote online between August 15 and the close of Teen Read Week™ (October 8–14) on the Teens’ Top Ten site. The winners will be announced the week after Teen Read Week. View an annotated list of the nominees here (pdf).

The Lie Tree US VersionThe L.A. Times Book Award for Young Adult Fiction goes to the much recognized The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Abrams). The SLJ Best Book has already been awarded the Costa Book Award for children’s book, Costa Book of the Year, and Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Fiction. It has also been nominated for several others, such as the Andre Norton Award.

Best Buy Community Grants Program
The Best Buy Community Grants Program provides support to community-based organizations that are located within 25 miles of a Best Buy facility. Eligible programs must create hands-on learning opportunities for underserved teens to learn about, experiment with, and interact with the latest technologies to build 21st-century skills. Eligible programs must deliver community-based youth programs for teens ages 13–18 that occur outside of normal school hours, and serve a diverse population. Examples of program activities include computer programming, digital imaging, music production, robotics, and gaming and mobile app development. The average grant amount is $5,000; grants will not exceed $10,000. Public and nonprofit community-based organizations (e.g., community centers, schools, and libraries) are eligible to apply. Online proposals may be submitted May 1–19, 2017. Visit the Best Buy website to review the full program guidelines.

andre norton2016 Andre Norton Award Jury Recommended Reading List

As part of the SFWA Nebula Awards process this year, the Andre Norton Award Jury went to work reading eligible young adult and middle grade fiction. Starting early in 2016, six volunteers had the difficult task of narrowing down a lot of fiction. Through all that reading, they’ve come up with a recommended reading list in addition to the finalists that have already been announced.

Lee & Low BooksLee & Low Books recently announced the results of its fourth annual New Visions Award for new authors of color. This year, in partnership with First Book and the NEA Foundation, the award expanded to two winning manuscripts: Operation Yellowbird, by coauthors Ming and Wah Chen, who are identical twin sisters with a shared love of Chinese history and adventure stories, and The Wind Called My Name, by Mary Louise Sanchez. Born and raised in Wyoming, Sanchez received the 2012 Emerging Voices Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Winning authors receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a standard publication contract with Tu Books, the middle grade and young adult imprint of Lee & Low Books. Three New Visions Award finalists were also announced: Searching for Superman by Jasmine Wade, Angel Dressed in Black by Robin Farmer, and Sun-Kadelic: An Afro-Futuristic, Historical Fiction by Jiton Davidson.

Update: YALSA’s Quick Picks and Amazing Audiobooks @ The Hub
The team of “The Hub” bloggers for the Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers and Amazing Audiobooks lists have been selected. They will soon start posting on the member blog to highlight nominated titles. Read more here.

If you have a field suggestion for a title that the blogging groups should consider, nominate using the Amazing Audiobooks form or the Quick Picks form. The full details on eligibility and criteria can be found on the Amazing Audiobooks Blogging Group Function Statement and Quick Picks Blogging Group Function Statement.

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Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/goldfish-ghost-by-lemony-snicket-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2017/04/reviews/goldfish-ghost-by-lemony-snicket-slj-review/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=219300 SNICKET, Lemony. Goldfish Ghost. illus. by Lisa Brown. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626725072.

K-Gr 3 –In a droll twist on the typical “beloved dead pet” story, this one opens with a death—reimagined as an otherworldly birth—of a boy’s pet goldfish. Born upside down and floating on top of his fishbowl, Goldfish Ghost, who remains in that position throughout, slowly drifts out of the boy’s bedroom and along the idyllic seascapes of Cape Cod [...]]]> redstarSNICKET, Lemony. Goldfish Ghost. illus. by Lisa Brown. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626725072.

STAR-PB-Snicket-GoldfishGhostK-Gr 3 –In a droll twist on the typical “beloved dead pet” story, this one opens with a death—reimagined as an otherworldly birth—of a boy’s pet goldfish. Born upside down and floating on top of his fishbowl, Goldfish Ghost, who remains in that position throughout, slowly drifts out of the boy’s bedroom and along the idyllic seascapes of Cape Cod in search of companionship. The many shrieking seagulls pay him no heed, the busy vacationers already have friends and family, and the mass of deceased sea creatures floating above the ocean aren’t quite Goldfish Ghost’s scene. Eventually, the melancholic little specter finds a forever home in a lighthouse with the former lighthouse keeper, a grandmotherly presence who places him gently in the warm light that “once shone for sailors at sea.” Unlike most picture books about death, this take is wholly unconcerned with the emotional repercussions felt by the pet’s owner, and instead focuses squarely, and with deadpan charm, on answering one of life’s most baffling and enduring questions: What happens when we die? And his answer is, perhaps surprisingly for the author of the delightfully dark “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” rather comforting. Brown’s signature India ink and watercolor illustrations add to the subtle tongue-in-cheek humor, depicting the titular former pet in stark black-and-white (with a single flat and staring eye) against the colorful blues, greens, and coral shades of the vacation town. As in her previous works (The Airport Book; Mummy Cat), relatable details and visual Easter eggs add depth and dimension to the setting and supporting cast of characters. VERDICT Can a book about death and the afterlife be refreshing and funny? In the hands of Snicket and Brown, indeed it can. This oddball offering should find a welcome home in any picture book collection.–Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

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

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