School Library Journal The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Thu, 28 Jul 2016 04:00:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Boy Who Lived Returns: Libraries Celebrate a New “Harry Potter” Book Wed, 27 Jul 2016 16:03:18 +0000 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on July 31. Check out what they're doing!]]> harry potter 8As the publication of an eighth “Harry Potter” story looms and in anticipation of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, a film based on a Hogwarts textbook, releasing in November, libraries are planning magic- and Muggle-filled fetes.

On July 31, the official script for Jack Thorne’s play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany, will be made available to the world. It is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will have its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30. As many fans know, July 31 is the birthday of Harry Potter—and his creator.

Since it’s been almost 10 years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the literary world is anxious to see what the Hogwarts clan has been up to since then. Check out what libraries around the country are doing, and add your own festivity plans to the comment section below.

Eti Berland, Head Librarian, Saul Silber Memorial Library, Blitstein Institute of Hebrew Theological College, Skokie, IL

We host an intergenerational children’s literature book club, which includes our college students, alumni, faculty, friends, a prepublished author, an author, and, most important, children! Inevitably, our book discussions turn to Harry Potter, so we’ve embraced it and host a yearly Harry Potter/fantasy genre celebration. Our participants created amazing and delectable treats for last year’s celebration. We also watched parts of Library of the Early Mind, the 2010 documentary film about children’s literature, in which Arthur A. Levine discusses acquiring [the first Harry Potter book]. We also looked at and discussed images from the New York Public Library “ABC of IT” exhibit.

Leanne Statland Ellis and daughter, Layla,  dressed up as Hermione and Hedwig.

Leanne Statland Ellis and daughter, Layla, dressed up as Hermione and Hedwig.

This year, we celebrated with a sorting hat activity, an epic Harry Potter trivia quiz, Harry Potter coloring, and a graffiti board for people to respond to the question, “Why Fantasy?” The last was inspired by Graeme Whiting’s articleThe Imagination of the Child” and Scholastic’s Harry Potter response boards. We also had mini–Harry Potter puzzles, thanks to my first BookExpo America trip. While waiting for Cursed Child to come out, we took a page out of SLJ‘s book and had young patrons do 30-Second Booktalks to help provide excellent suggestions of fantasy reading for our community. A couple of our participants, Leanne Statland Ellis and her daughter, Layla, even dressed up for our party (as Hermione and Hedwig).

During our first book club this fall, we’re planning an informal reading to bring the magic of the stage play to our library—and to introduce our new students to the wonders of the book club.

MaryAnn Burden, Youth Services Librarian, Chester Library, NJ

We’re having a Harry Potter party for middle school and high school kids, but I’ve told the fourth and fifth graders, who are huge fans, that they can come, too.  Activities include having a trivia contest, making two potions, and a few crafts. [We’ll also] have Hogwarts snacks and Butterbeer. I have a few door prizes to give away, too, including a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Jerri Heid, Youth Services Manager, Ames Public Library, IA

We have been hosting a Semester of Hogwarts, which began in June. This semester we’ve had Harry Potter movie Saturdays, showing the the first movie and each subsequent film, building up to the Harry Potter birthday party in July. [We’ll also have] three different trivia contests—one for families, one for teens, and one for adults—called Harry Potter Battle of Books in August. In September, our Teen Advisory Group will be organizing a Harry Potter 5K fundraiser run event. The semester will end with the Yule Ball in January. The [event] is in partnership with the School of Education at Iowa State University and [has taken place] with the help of some interns, great volunteers, and an awesome teen librarian and a library director, giving me all those capabilities and permissions I’ve needed.

Flyer for Emmet O'Neal Library's Harry Potter–themed Financial Literacy program

Flyer for Emmet O’Neal Library’s Harry Potter–themed Financial Literacy program

Matthew Layne, Young Adult Librarian, Emmet O’Neal Public Library, Mountain Brook, AL

At a Teen Advisory Board meeting last fall, a few teens were lamenting how much they missed the Harry Potter programs of their youth. I decided to transform an ongoing financial literacy series for teens I was working on into seven parts [thematically linked to the “Harry Potter” books], and have an eighth program, which would be a Hogwarts-style feast.

In the first program, students got sorted into their houses with a four-sided die and the sorting hat. We made wands, discussed basic budgeting issues facing young people, and watched the first film.

For the second, we made Butterbeer floats and I brought in a college counselor from one of our local schools to talk about options when choosing a school.

The third focused on Alabama databases that teach college readiness skills. We also made chocolate frogs with these really cool molds I picked up off Amazon and the type of melting chocolates you can pick up at any craft store.

The fourth was another aspect on budgeting. We talked about saving for big-ticket items and the perils and pluses of credit cards and loans.

For our fifth, we had a Dolores Umbridge–themed class on interviewing and résumé techniques. The sixth was on investing basics, and the seventh was a panel of wizards. I brought in graduates to talk about their experiences in college and the job world.

On July 30, we’ll have our Hogwarts feast. We’ll distribute copies of Cursed Child at midnight, play games, and watch the final Deathly Hallows film.

(This series is made possible by a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation through Smart Investing @ Your Library ®, a partnership with the American Library Association.)  


Upper Moreland’s Harry Potter party flier

Becky Tkacs, Youth Services and Outreach Coordinator, Upper Moreland Free Public Library, Willow Grove, PA

[We are] hosting our first-ever Muggle Quidditch tournament on July 28, and we are so excited! After our sporting event, we are having a Harry Potter movie and pizza party. We have an online poll going so fans can vote for their favorite film.

Amy Truter, Librarian, Children and Teen Services, Sunnyvale Public Library, CA

My public library is going to have two Harry Potter–related events this month. For the elementary kids, we’re holding a scavenger hunt on Thursday, July 28, with small prizes for those who finish. For teens, we’re having a full birthday party for Harry Potter and making our own magic wands. I haven’t finalized all the details yet, but I’m definitely going to bring cake and other treats.


Flyer for Burlingame Library’s celebration.

Kathy von Mayrhauser, Children’s Services Manager, Burlingame Public Library, CA

We are having a Harry Potter party on July 31. There will be refreshments, crafts, and Harry Potter Trivia; costumes are encouraged. The local bookstore will be selling copies of the new book.





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Getting In on the Action | SLJ Spotlight Wed, 27 Jul 2016 15:30:23 +0000 For readers looking for books that will grab them, hold their attention, and leave them wanting more, action and adventure stories are just the thing. With fast-paced plotlines, cliff-hanger suspense, and breathless escapes, these new titles will have readers humming the “Mission Impossible” theme song.

Beil, Michael D. A New Recruit. 400p. (Agents of the Glass: Bk. 1). ebook available. Knopf. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385753210; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385753227. A New Recruit by Michael Beil

Gr 4-7 –A fun and interesting series starter reminiscent of the “Mission Impossible” franchise. The Agents of Glass is a secret organization that fights against a dangerous group known as Entropy (NTRP). When Andy Llewellyn witnesses a bank robbery and finds a bag of money on the street, he does the right thing and returns the fortune to the bank. His honesty sparks the interest of the Agents, and they recruit him to join their effort. Andy soon finds himself working against NTRP and its plans to control the minds of the affluent children of the city. But who can he trust? Winter Neale is popular and engaging. Jensen Huntley is a news-hungry conspiracy theorist with a penchant for justice. Andy must watch both of them to decide what to do and whom to stop. Armed with a piece of special glass that can see the evil that surrounds people like the flames of a fire, Andy and his handler Silas must stop NTRP and save the world from falling into chaos. Readers will be taken on an adventure full of twists and turns and questions about honesty and sacrifice. VERDICT A solid purchase for middle grade mystery and action-adventure lovers.–Elizabeth Speer, Weatherford College, Weatherford, TX

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Children of Exile. 304p. ebook available. S. & S. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442450035. POPChildren of Exile by Haddix

Gr 4-8 –Twelve-year old Rosi has spent her entire life away from her parents. She, her brother, and the other children from her hometown were brought to Fredtown as infants to be kept safe from danger. This small, structured, and simple community named after the Norwegian word for peace is the only environment the children have ever known. When the Fred-parents abruptly inform the children they will be returning home, questions flood Rosi’s mind but are left unanswered. The children are forced onto an airplane heading to a place that feels foreign, where they are greeted by biological parents who are strangers to them. At first, Rosi is desperate to return to Fredtown. Then she begins to uncover mysteries and question what she’s been told all along. Haddix brilliantly sets up her story, giving readers just enough information to keep them grounded while elevating tension through Rosi’s uncertainty. Fast-paced action, plot twists, and cliff-hanger chapter endings will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Haddix’s tone and language and the absence of graphic violence make this an ideal selection for younger readers eager for a dystopian novel. VERDICT Fans of Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember and Haddix’s own “Shadow Children” series will want to be first in line for this book.–Beth Parmer, New Albany Elementary Library, OH

McGee, Ron. Ryan Quinn and the Rebel’s Escape. 368p. (Ryan Quinn: Bk. 1). HarperCollins. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062421647.Ryan Quinn and the Rebel’s Escape

Gr 5-8 –McGee’s debut novel offers readers a plot-driven and action-packed whirlwind tour around the world. Ryan Quinn and his family finally settle down in New York, when someone shady starts following him. Then his mother gets kidnapped and his dad goes missing (he was supposed to be in Thailand on business). Ryan soon finds out that his parents both work for the Emergency Rescue Committee, an organization that saves rebels around the world from certain death. And they have been training Ryan for this dangerous work his whole life. Ryan wants nothing to do with it, but he feels compelled to take action to find his dad and save his mom. Readers will root for Ryan and feel sympathy for him because of his situation. Secondary characters are mostly formulaic. The writing seems more like a screenplay, with many play-by-play action scenes. Despite the beautiful settings in which Ryan finds himself, there isn’t much in the way of description, making this best suited for kids looking for a fast read with an emphasis on plot over character development. VERDICT Ideal for fans of Alex Rider and libraries with a large action fanbase.–Rachel Reinwald, Lake Villa District Library, IL

redstarMagoon, Kekla. Rebellion of Thieves. 256p. (A Robyn Hoodlum Adventure: Bk. 2). Bloomsbury. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619636552. POP Rebellion of Thieves by Magoon

Gr 5-8 –Magoon immediately draws readers into the world of 12-year-old Robyn Loxley, who establishes her leadership in the rebellion against evil despot Ignomus Crown. Readers do not need to be familiar with book 1, but the story will be more satisfying for fans of the first novel. Robyn and her band of thieves have found a way to infiltrate Castle District by entering the Iron Teen competition. A fancy dinner at the governor’s mansion awaits the winning finalists, and Robyn is certain she can win. But they will need to successfully break out the political prisoners locked inside the mansion, including Robyn’s mom, to overthrow Crown’s oppressive government. Readers see Robyn mature and grow as the leader of the rebellion. Robyn is at the helm of the battle to bring back justice to Nott City, but her struggle is internal as well. The heroine is starting to understand that she’s part of something greater than herself and learning how to share the heaviness of her responsibility by counting on others. Woven throughout are themes about social justice and personal integrity. The diverse cast of characters and familial traditions connected to cultural heritage add complexity and appeal. Magoon’s writing exemplifies the best in what readers and educators seek in diversity in children’s literature. VERDICT A satisfying and nuanced follow-up to this hit series. Readers will anxiously anticipate the next installment.–Lettycia Terrones, California State University, Pollak Library, Fullerton, CA

These reviews were published in School Library Journal’s July 2016 issue.

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Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer | SLJ Review Wed, 27 Jul 2016 14:00:37 +0000 Stringer, Lauren. Yellow Time. illus. by Lauren Stringer. 40p. S. & S./Beach Lane. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481431569.

PreS-Gr 2 –Stringer re-creates those last days of autumn when the trees are no longer putting on a fiery show of colors and the leaves are one gusty day away from shuddering to the ground. Short, declarative, yet lyrical sentences set the stage (“The squirrels are too busy to notice, and the geese have already gone.”). Stringer [...]]]> redstarStringer, Lauren. Yellow Time. illus. by Lauren Stringer. 40p. S. & S./Beach Lane. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481431569.PB-SP-Stringer-Yellow Time

PreS-Gr 2 –Stringer re-creates those last days of autumn when the trees are no longer putting on a fiery show of colors and the leaves are one gusty day away from shuddering to the ground. Short, declarative, yet lyrical sentences set the stage (“The squirrels are too busy to notice, and the geese have already gone.”). Stringer continues to remind readers of the sounds (“Crows love yellow time. They fill still-leafy trees with their voices announcing its coming…”) and the smells (“wet mud and dry grass with a sprinkle of sugar”) of autumn and discusses the changing of the seasons (“Yellow time comes before white time. Every time.”). When the wind begins, everyone is ready: the trees, the children, the crows, and even the busy squirrels that use the fallen leaves for their lofty nests. The watercolor and acrylic illustrations, subtly reminiscent of Lois Lenski’s work, are full of movement and emotion. Stringer’s rendering of the autumn landscape and its diverse inhabitants, round faces lifted to the sky, remind readers of a moment in time. VERDICT This gorgeous picture book is a fine addition to seasonal and classroom collections, but it stands alone for its language and deft artwork. A lovely, evocative read-aloud.–Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence, RI

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

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A Girl and Her Furry Amigo | Up Close with Juana Medina Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:00:38 +0000 1607-UpClose-Juana_MedinaAfter the success of the minimalist picture books Smick! and 1 Big Salad, Juana Medina has created a 96-page hybrid picture book/beginning chapter book/illustrated novel, which, according to the author, has been in the works for some time. Here’s a bit about how Juana and Lucas (Candlewick, Sept. 2016) came to be.

How did you decide on the format?
From the moment I started working on this book, I knew how I wanted it to feel. I wanted the typography to be dynamic at parts, to convey emotions in a vivid way. I also wanted to have Spanish peppered throughout the book, not as a didactic exercise but to show further depth into Juana’s personality. And every now and then, breaking the format to present diagrams felt like a nice way to take a break from reading and learn a little further about each character, according to Juana.

Because this book is loosely based on a personal story, using ink and watercolor for the illustrations seemed more personal than taking the digital route (not that digital illustrations are impersonal!). Perhaps this has to do with growing up reading books illustrated by Ralph Steadman, Quentin Blake, Jean-Jacques Sempé, and Jules Feiffer, whom I admire greatly—ink illustrations feel like part of my childhood.

One can’t help but notice the similarities between your bio photo and blurb and your protagonist (right down to the pigtails). How much of the story is autobiographical?
A fair amount of the story is autobiographical, but just as memories tend to be, time gets warped and events in the book happen a bit differently from how it all unraveled in real life. The sentiment, though, is true to personal history. Had I made it strictly autobiographical, it would have been hard to keep track of all cousins, friends, and relatives in the story! It was fun to be able to give it a bit of a twist.

Juana is such a vivacious and spirited child. She is often challenged and frustrated by what adults ask of her, yet there’s never a doubt that she’ll work things out on her own terms. Where does that kind of self-possession come from? Is that something that you believe can be fostered?
I do believe we can give children encouragement and empowerment to be self-possessed. I was hoping, to share a story of someone who is vulnerable, who isn’t perfect, and yet is determined to achieve what she wants…even if it leads her to completely unexpected results!

My father died when I was a baby. My mom remarried when I was four. I grew up in a country in war. I think these factors, among others, allowed for deep introspection at a very early age. This introspection came along with the realization that being self-sufficient could be at times a good thing. I tried to retain some of that in Juana as a character, I didn’t want the character to be broken or a victim but empowered and curious and even a little sassy. I thought reflecting on the way I remember thinking of the world at the time could be an interesting way to connect with new generations that are growing up.

It is rare for American kids to meet a contemporary child living in another part of the world. Is her relationship with her dog, Lucas, part of what makes her experiences feel so universal?
The universality of feelings like fear, dread, excitement, joy, and hope are not foreign to any child. I hope this book allows for an emotional connection. I fear that children’s books presenting characters of color could fall into categories that hurt their readers rather than empower them. When the books based in Latin America or with Latino characters are overwhelmingly about struggling with immigration and poverty or when books about African American children are mostly about slavery, we’re not only discouraging children from reading but labeling and segregating them even further. I’m not saying no children’s book should ever address poverty, immigration, or slavery, but these can’t be the only subjects touched upon when it comes to telling stories about these communities. Children want to see themselves reflected in the books they read; this helps them build their own identities as well as expand their knowledge and sense of wonder. I wanted to present a character (and a loyal sidekick) to whom children could relate, whether they are boys or girls, whether they live in Patagonia, Wichita, or Ankara.

1607-UpClose-Medina_CV-Juana-n-LucasThis book really is a love letter to Bogotá, capturing its natural beauty and vibrant life, but always through the lens of a child. And, of course, through your joyful art. How did you balance the amount of text and artwork?
This was like making a three-layer cake. One layer, sharing the love for a place I adore; another one, sharing a personal story; and the third layer, making it fun. I wanted to make sure the prose would be humorous and engaging and that the visual narrative would not serve as a mere crutch but to give more depth to the story.

In having a bilingual element, I wanted to make sure this wouldn’t fall into the didactic category. I don’t want to be educating the readers; I want to have fun with them!

My intention was for the typography to act as a voice. To have pauses, hesitation, sighs, elements we often use in spoken language but that are not always conveyed in print. Giving typography life and letting it work sometimes as form (words to be read) and sometimes as image allowed for a richer visual narrative and further expression.

Can you talk about the decision to sprinkle bits of “the Spanish” throughout rather than write a bilingual text?
This is a book written in English, about a child who is learning the English. This was a hard concept to explain. Spanish allows for some contrast between languages and a deeper understanding of Juana’s world. I thought of this as an element that could bring the readers closer to the character, whether they know Spanish or not.

I believe children are very smart and will discover what the words in Spanish mean as they read the book, without the need for footnotes or help from adults. I remember feeling very proud of myself when I could discover things on my own; hopefully they’d do so, too!

Your spare but expressive art style reminds me of the work of Marc Simont in the best possible way. Who are your favorite illustrators and artistic influences?
What a great compliment, thank you! Marc Simont’s work is stunning; there’s so much to learn from all the stories he illustrated.

There are a great number of influences and illustrators I admire, the list is long! But Sempé, Quino, and Quentin Blake are three illustrators/cartoonists I have looked up to since I can remember. Their use of line, playfulness, and ability to convey emotions are breathtaking.

I understand that this is just the beginning of the adventures of Juana and Lucas. Can you tell us where they will go from here?
That’s right! This is just the beginning. Juana and Lucas are about to embark on new adventures that will surely take them to completely new and unexpected places. This time, Juana won’t be flying anywhere or having to learn any new languages, but there’s someone new, causing so much distraction that she can’t even focus while eating her ice cream.



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Pax by Sara Pennypacker | SLJ Audio Review Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:00:33 +0000 PENNYPACKER, Sara. Pax. 5 CDs. 5:35 hrs. HarperAudio. Feb. 2016. $25.99. ISBN 9780062443960. digital download. 

Gr 4-7 –Somewhere close, sometime soon, war is coming. Twelve-year-old Peter and his fox, Pax, are forced apart by a father whose noble intentions have devastating results. When Peter’s father enlists in the military, he pressures Peter to return Pax to the wild, while Peter is sent 300 miles away to live with his grandfather. Almost immediately, Peter realizes his grave mistake and [...]]]> redstarPENNYPACKER, Sara. Pax. 5 CDs. 5:35 hrs. HarperAudio. Feb. 2016. $25.99. ISBN 9780062443960. digital download. Pax

Gr 4-7 –Somewhere close, sometime soon, war is coming. Twelve-year-old Peter and his fox, Pax, are forced apart by a father whose noble intentions have devastating results. When Peter’s father enlists in the military, he pressures Peter to return Pax to the wild, while Peter is sent 300 miles away to live with his grandfather. Almost immediately, Peter realizes his grave mistake and knows he must get home to Pax. Both boy and fox rely on the kindness of strangers to survive: for Peter, an acerbic veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; for Pax, a pair of orphan siblings. Pennypacker creates a viscerally affecting story of the impossible nature of war—“Do you think anyone in the history of this world ever set out to fight for the wrong side?”—and the inescapable consequences that befall the youngest and smallest in the wake of death and destruction. The simple title, beyond the name, proves to be an undeniable prayer for peace. Michael Curran-Dorsano’s gentle narration, infused with just the right emotional vibrato, magnifies Pennypacker’s extraordinary tale with immediacy and impact. VERDICT A must-have for all libraries serving middle grade students. [“With spare, lyrical prose, Pennypacker manages to infuse this tearjerker with a tender hope, showing that peace and love can require just as much sacrifice as war”: SLJ 12/15 starred review of the Balzer + Bray book.]–Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

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

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Comic-Con International Lures YA Comics Creators | SDCC 2016 Wed, 27 Jul 2016 12:44:19 +0000 Pokemon writer Hidenori Kusaka plays Rock Paper Scissor with the audience while artist Satoshi Yamamoto takes a photo.

Pokémon writer Hidenori Kusaka plays Rock Paper Scissor with the audience while artist Satoshi Yamamoto takes a photo.

With Pokémon Go fever sweeping the country, the San Diego Convention Center seemed like one big PokéStop during Comic-Con International, the biggest comics convention in the United States. Rare Pokémon, both cosplayed and virtual, roamed the halls, and the creators of the Pokémon Adventures manga, writer Hidenori Kusaka and artist Satoshi Yamamoto, were on hand for several autograph sessions and a spirited panel in which they played Rock Paper Scissors with their fans for real prizes. Those unmoved by Pokémon Go madness still had plenty to enjoy at the con.

Several teen-friendly graphic novels won Eisner Awards, including Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy (Best Publication for Teens), Kate Beaton’s Step Aside, Pops (Best Humor Publication), Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette (Best Digital/Webcomic), and Rep. John Lewis’s graphic memoir March: Book Two, created in partnership with writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell (Best Reality-Based Work).

Rep. John Lewis leading a procession of children after his panel.

Rep. John Lewis leading a procession of children after his panel.

The day after the Eisner Awards ceremony, Lewis recounted his experiences on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama, when a group marching for voting rights for African Americans was turned back by state troopers wielding billy clubs, bullwhips, and tear gas. Lewis dressed for the panel as he had for the march, in a trench coat with a backpack containing books, an apple, an orange, and a toothbrush and toothpaste in case he was arrested; at the end of the panel, he led a procession of children and supporters to the convention floor, where he signed copies of March: Book Three.

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood in cat ears

Novelist Margaret Atwood was at the convention to promote the first volume of her new superhero story, Angel Catbird, which will comprise three graphic novels. The story, illustrated by Johnnie Christmas, is about a superhero who is part human, part cat, and part bird. Atwood first conceived it as a way to raise awareness of the dangers of allowing cats to roam freely outdoors, which is bad for the cats and the birds who are frequently their prey.

American YA author Matthew Kirby and French graphic novelist Mathieu Reynès discussed creating stories for young adults in a panel sponsored by Europe Comics, a coalition of European publishers and agents that is working to make European comics available digitally. Kirby, who also writes middle grade novels, made the distinction that those books are primarily concerned with independence, while young adult novels are more about identity. “Once you step away from your parent and you are out on your own, which is what a lot of those middle grade adventures are all about, that first time that you are facing the world alone and taking on this challenge, then it’s this question of who am I?” he said. “That is central to that period of adolescence, and that begins at 10, 11, 12, but it goes all the way into adulthood.”

Graphic novelists Cecil Castellucci and Nate Powell.

Graphic novelists Cecil Castellucci and Nate Powell.

Reynès said that most comics in France are either targeted at young children or adults. Until recently, teens read manga or American comics, and French publishers are starting to notice. When Kirby asked Reynès was considering that untapped market when he started making YA graphic novels, Reynès said no: “It was the story I wanted to tell. Maybe I am still a young adult. I tell what I want to tell to readers, and it seems like the people I have touched most are young adults.”

At the Best and Worst Manga of 2016 panel, critics and librarians went through a rapid-fire rundown of their favorite new and continuing series for teens and adults—plus a few duds. Recommendations included the new volleyball series “Haikyu!!,” the new edition of Fruits Basket, and the Eisner-nominated A Silent Voice, a high school story about bullying. Manga journalist Deb Aoki, who organized the panel, has posted the full audio and slides at her blog, “MangaComicsManga.”

Luke Perry and other members of the Riverdale cast sign autographs at the Archie booth.

Luke Perry and other members of the Riverdale cast sign autographs at the Archie booth.

Archie Comics rolled out the latest reboot of a classic comic, the new Betty and Veronica, by Adam Hughes, and they also had a lineup of actors from the upcoming Riverdale television show at their booth.

A number of other new YA properties were announced during and immediately before the con:

  • Titan Comics announced that they have licensed Assassin’s Creed: Awakening, a manga set in the universe of the Assassin’s Creed. As they are doing with their Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Pink manga, Titan will publish the story first as a series of comics and then in graphic novel format. Titan also has a graphic novel based on Matthew Kirby’s YA title Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants novel
  • Dark Horse announced Soupy Leaves Home, by Cecil Castellucci and Jose Pimienta, a Depression-era story about a girl who leaves an unhappy home, disguises herself as a boy, and rides the rails. The original graphic novel will be published in April 2017.
  • Lumberjanes publishers BOOM! Studios unveiled concept art for SLAM!, a story about roller derby, which will be part of their BOOM! Box imprint. The publisher also announced that a movie based on David Petersen’s Mouse Guard is in the works.
  • The children’s graphic novel publisher Papercutz announced a new line, Charmz, original graphic novels targeted at early-teen readers. The line will feature stories in several different genres—sci-fi, slice-of-life, and light horror—that revolve around relationships and crushes. Some are original, and some are imported from France, and all are planned to be series.
  • Oni Press will publish new editions of John Allison’s Bad Machinery in a smaller trim size. The current books are an oversize 9″ x 12″ format, while the newer ones will be a backpack-friendly 6″ x 9″. The content will be the same as in the larger editions, just shrunk down more, and Oni will continue to publish the series in both formats.



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Not Your Typical Adaptations | Adult Books 4 Teens Tue, 26 Jul 2016 21:22:28 +0000 Pride and Prejudice to a choose-your-own adventure version of Romeo and Juliet, the following works bridge the gaps between old classics and our current understandings.]]> One of the most common complaints about modern Hollywood movies is that they are so often “based on” some previous property: a best-selling novel, a comic book character, a TV show, or a previous movie. It’s a complaint that I happen to think has considerable merit, but this column offers a helpful reminder that the plundering of old intellectual property is a process that’s been going on in literature (and many other formats) for pretty much as long as we’ve been making art.

For example, when Hogarth Press claims that Shylock Is My Name (reviewed below) “retells” Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, they are making a highly problematic claim. While it is clearly true that author Howard Jacobson had Shakespeare’s play in mind (and probably in front of him) as he wrote, the play itself is part of a long series of adaptations and retellings. Shakespeare probably got the idea from a story in Giovanni Fiorentino’s Il Pecorone, but if he didn’t, he may have gotten it from the Gesta Romanorum, a Latin compilation of popular tales. Both of these texts ultimately got their version of the Merchant story from a long line of folk tales about “human flesh bonds,” which plays the central role in all of these plays, stories, and novels. How much of Jacobson’s novel is derived specifically from Shakespeare’s play, and how much from the previous versions upon which Shakespeare relied? While we could probably arrive at a more or less definitive answer to that question, the fact that we can pose it at all is far more interesting.

This discussion of the long lineage of adaptations of the flesh bond story also points to an issue that I’ll touch on below several times: Exactly how much of a previous work has to be retold for it to be considered an adaptation? Some of the books I’ll discuss won’t seem much like adaptations to many readers, but they are nevertheless “based on” previous works in some sense or another—an altogether more tenuous, and sometimes more intriguing, classification. But while tracing the lines of influence of cultural borrowings is a fascinating endeavor (to me at least), for the most part I’ll focus instead on highlighting the considerable pleasures and true artistry that can be found in these seven works.

Since I’ve already touched on the subject, we’ll start with two very different Shakespeare adaptations. Ryan North’s Romeo and/or Juliet immediately shows off some of the problems of adaptation I’ve been discussing. To begin with, as in his previous book To Be or Not To Be, North makes the audacious (and hilarious) claim that Shakespeare’s plays (in this case Romeo and Juliet) are plagiarized from (that is, “based on”) the book North claims to have discovered, which is a “chooseable-path adventure.” Essentially, according to North, Shakespeare simply followed one of the many possible paths through this book and wrote it down. Readers can choose any number of hundreds of paths through the work, many of which create entirely new plots, subplots, characters, and situations. (My favorite is the mini-adventure “Nurse’s Quest,” which is a perfect send-up of old 1980s computer games like King’s Quest.) A joyous romp through a tragedy seems like a contradiction in terms, but then Shakespeare is nothing if not contradictory.

Our other adaptation on the Bard’s work is the previously mentioned Shylock Is My Name. Jacobson takes one of Shakespeare’s most problematic plays and leans into its most problematic issue: its portrayal of Judaism. Where The Merchant of Venice has been used to make every imaginable claim about the attitudes of the playwright (and Renaissance England in general) toward Jews, Jacobson takes the idea and makes it his moral center, grounding the novel in contemporary Judaism, with heavy references to the Nazis and anti-Semitism in general. Jacobson, though, is not immune to the problems of adaptation, and he adds such flourishes as a character named Shylock, who is actually the literary character from Shakespeare’s play, magically implanted into the modern world of his novel.

Moving on from Shakespeare, we encounter another giant of British Literature: Charlotte Brontë. Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele and Catherine Lowell’s The Madwoman Upstairs both take cues from Brontë’s most famous work, Jane Eyre, reworking it in new and imaginative ways. Faye chooses the more straightforward path of adapting the story of a young governess who falls for her socially superior employer. Faye ups the ante considerably by bringing murder into the mix: her Jane has a criminal past and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. Still, this remains primarily a fun update of a classic. Lowell, on the other hand, starts with the real world of Brontë, making her protagonist, Samantha Whipple, a descendant of the great novelist. The novel is set in the present day and concerns Whipple’s conflicted relationship with her famed ancestor, as well as with her more recent relatives, such as her recently deceased father. But Lowell still manages to imbue her novel with the same elements of mystery and gothic romance as her model and should have teens aching to read or reread Jane Eyre.

Three final works show another way of triangulating our way around the issue of adaptation. Of all the books featured here, Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible is the most obviously a straightforward adaptation of its source material. The subtitle says it all: “A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice.” As our reviewer points out, the closeness of the plots between Eligible and Pride and Prejudice at times veer on the implausible (perhaps a hint as to why some of the other books in this column chose different paths), but for lovers of Jane Austen, this should be an entertaining, funny read.

Suzanne Feldman’s Absalom’s Daughters, on the other hand, is less a retelling than a companion to Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! The novel is set in the 1950s (about a century after the source material) and concerns two half-sisters, one identified as black and one as white, who drive from Mississippi to Virginia in search of a promised inheritance. Like Faulkner’s story, Feldman’s work follows an impoverished young protagonist (or two) seeking wealth and identity. And like Faulkner, Feldman grapples with themes of inheritance, race, money, and family. This is clearly still in the world of “based on,” but rather than simply retelling a plot, the author is mining the themes and ideas of Faulkner to create a rich new work.

Finally, taking a tack somewhere between Sittenfeld and Feldman, Bryan Doerries’s graphic novel The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan at once retells the adventures of Odysseus (as most memorably captured by Homer in the Odyssey) and recontextualizes them in the lives of modern American soldiers in Afghanistan. The soldiers take turns literally retelling stories of Odysseus before telling their own tales, adding new layers of resonance.

Companion, retelling, adaptation—these words have different, sometimes overlapping, meanings. But all of them get at the idea of intertextuality. In the common phrase I’ve been using, some piece of all of these titles is “based on” a previous work. But perhaps a more meaningful way of grasping these connections is to say that they are opening a communication with those previous iterations. Whether by updating settings, recapitulating or deconstructing themes, or finding new meanings for old stories, all of these books work to bridge the gap between old classics and our current world and understandings.


janesteeleFAYE, Lyndsay. Jane Steele. 432p. Putnam. Apr. 2016. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9780399169496.

With the heart of a Dickens novel and clear homage to Jane Eyre, Faye’s title, set during the same period as Brontë’s celebrated work, introduces readers to Jane Steele as she recounts her ragged journey through childhood into the home and heart of the mysterious Mr. Thornton, recently returned from India with his young ward. After the death of her beloved mother, Jane is left with an aunt who despises her and a cousin, Edwin, who stalks her every move. She is to be sent to boarding school under the tutelage of Mr. Munt, a religious fanatic who brooks no deviance from his many rules. Before she goes, Edwin is determined to have his way with her—only to end up dead. As Jane discovers, the first murder is the hardest, but she is unafraid to follow through. After Mr. Munt’s death, Jane flees to the streets of London, where she discovers a notice of employment at her childhood home. As governess in her old, now radically changed home, the heroine—in Jane Eyre fashion—falls for her boss. Because her history is filled with murder and misdeeds, Jane knows she cannot marry this honorable man. But he, too, has a past. Murder, mystery, the Sikh Wars, love, lust, and assumptions made in haste thrust Jane into a world she compares to that of Jane Eyre. VERDICT A rollicking good read; teens who are well versed in the works of the Brontës and Dickens will enjoy the comparisons, while those not familiar might be moved to find out more.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA

absalomFELDMAN, Suzanne. Absalom’s Daughters. 272p. Holt. Jul. 2016. Tr $26. ISBN 9781627794534.

In this nod to Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Cassie, a light-skinned African American girl, and her white half-sister, Judith, could easily be Absalom’s daughters. Both girls, uneducated and dirt-poor, live in a small town in 1950s Mississippi. Though born to the same white father and different mothers, the girls did not know of their relationship until their father abandoned Judith and her mother, forcing Judith to make deliveries to Cassie’s family laundry. Judith has a powerful singing voice and dreams of becoming a singer on the radio, and Cassie struggles with a grandmother who schemes to arrange her marriage. When a letter arrives from a distant relative suggesting they may be in line for an inheritance if they arrive in Remington, VA, by a specified date, Judith is determined to go: fame awaits. With her mother’s blessing, Cassie leaves to avoid her grandmother’s plan. Escaping in an old junk car, they head north on a road trip, encountering kindness and hostility. The girls are given the opportunity to look forward in their lives, and arriving at their destination provides some answers and allows each young woman to create her own future. The use of the derogatory term for African Americans may offend some teen readers, but it is contextual and well within the culture of its time. Thematically, it helps to explain Cassie’s thoughts about herself and her feelings about being a young woman of color. VERDICT Ideal for fans of historical fiction and those interested in learning more about the grim realities of Jim Crow and the harshness of poverty in the 1950s.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA

ShylockJACOBSON, Howard. Shylock Is My Name. 288p. Crown/Hogarth. Feb. 2016. Tr $25. ISBN 9780804141321.

This entry in Hogarth’s Shakespeare series, in which contemporary authors retell the Bard’s plays, lets Jacobson loose on The Merchant of Venice. Though at first a little murky, the story eventually comes through. Our “merchant” is now an art dealer named D’Anton, and our “moneylender” is Strulovitch, who has a wayward teenage daughter, Beatrice. The girl has fallen in with a footballer who may have a history of making Nazi gestures. Luckily, Strulovitch has someone to bounce his problems off of, namely, the titular Shylock, whom he meets in a cemetery. Shylock is in fact the character from the play, transplanted to present-day England in a bit of magical realism. After Strulovitch meets the footballer, Howsome, he demands the pound of flesh from him in a shockingly hilarious twist. Enter D’Anton, who offers the pound in his own way. Jacobson’s in-depth exploration of Judaism will likely go over the heads of those unfamiliar with the subject. However the main narrative, of a rebellious teenager, a slightly dim footballer, and double and triple crossing, will still hold appeal to those who are studying the play. VERDICT  Most useful as an additional read for those studying Shakespeare or contemporary Judaism.–Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library

madwomanLOWELL, Catherine. The Madwoman Upstairs. 352p. Touchstone. Mar. 2016. Tr $25.99. ISBN 9781501124211.

In this debut novel, Samantha Whipple is the last surviving descendant of the Brontë family. Her father, who died when she was 15, was obsessed with his ancestors, and now Samantha is at Oxford, hoping that studying the Brontës will lead her to a rumored family legacy. She lives in a 14th-century tower room (included on public tours of the campus) that was once used to quarantine plague victims, and it contains a painting called The Governess. Samantha argues about authorial intent with her tutor, James Timothy Orville III, who seems disinclined to discuss the Brontës with her and instead assigns her to read Browning, Pope, and The Old College Book of Disciplinary Procedures. Meanwhile, volumes of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey start showing up on Samantha’s doorstep—and not just any copies but Samantha’s father’s personal possessions, books that she thought were destroyed in the fire that killed her father. Lowell’s dry wit and her ability to combine academic discussion with mystery, romance, and elements of Gothic literature make this a sure-fire hit for teens who like smart and funny books. VERDICT Fans of the Brontë sisters will devour this adaptation.–Sarah Flowers, formerly of Santa Clara County Library, CA

RomeoNORTH, Ryan. Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure. illus. by Natasha Allegri & Others 400p. Riverhead. Jun. 2016. pap. $20. ISBN 9781101983300.

With Shakespearean and classic romantic literature being introduced in high school, this book seems a perfect fit for teens. After all, Romeo and Juliet are teens, and they’re in love—unless they’re not. It’s up to readers to choose. Maybe Romeo can’t get past his lust for the unattainable Rosaline, or he’d rather hang out with his best buds Mercutio and Benvolio. Maybe Juliet follows her parents’ advice and marries Tom Paris, or she flees the Capulet household to escape the arranged marriage and become a pirate. If the pair do manage to meet and fall in love, can they escape a tragic end? North has turned Shakespeare’s play about star-crossed lovers into a seemingly endless game of choices, with the ability to play as either Romeo or Juliet and a guarantee that any path taken will turn into an outrageously silly adventure. For some threads, North cleverly inserts original passages from Shakespeare’s work to heighten the comic effect. Gamers will be attracted to the format, and fans of North’s comic book series “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” will already be familiar with his signature brand of humor. More than 80 artists have contributed an eclectic mix of original illustrations that highlight the hilarity of many of the possible endings. VERDICT Even incurable romantics are sure to find this a fun parody and a welcome diversion from the required reading list.–Cary Frostick, formerly with Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

eligibleSITTENFELD, Curtis. Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice. 512p. Random. May 2016. Tr $28. ISBN 9781400068326.

With her latest, Sittenfeld has crafted an entertaining modern update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, though one that at times strains credulity. Like their Regency counterparts, the 21st-century Bennets are approaching crisis—potential financial ruin as a result of Mr. Bennet’s heart attack—but are blissfully oblivious. To put things right, Liz, a successful magazine writer, and Jane, a yoga teacher contemplating artificial insemination, return from New York City to the family home in Ohio. When Chip Bingley, the former star of a Bachelor-esque show and still single, enters the scene with his arrogant sister Caroline and the seemingly pompous Fitzwilliam Darcy in tow, it’s clear that romance is on the horizon. While the story is compulsively readable, the pop culture references make it unwieldy at times. As always, Sittenfeld soars when it comes to portraying relationships, and teens will particularly enjoy the witty barbs that fly between Caroline and Liz. Often, however, the author’s attempts to hew closely to Austen’s plot result in some odd choices. Where in the original, Mrs. Bennet’s desire to marry Lizzy off to the unctuous Mr. Collins stemmed from understandable motives, here, her insistence that Liz become involved with her cousin, a socially inept dotcom millionaire, is downright bizarre. Nevertheless, this is an overall breezy read that will have savvy teens laughing. VERDICT Although this work doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny, it’s an utterly engrossing, hilariously over-the-top send-up that will appeal to Sittenfeld fans, Janeites, and lovers of chick lit.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal


odysseyDOERRIES, Bryan. The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan. illus. by Justine Mara & others 160p. Pantheon. Apr. 2016. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9780375715167.

Using the classic tale of Odysseus’s journey home from the Trojan War as a metaphor, Sgt. Jack Brennan mandates storytelling for the last night of his Marines’ deployment in Afghanistan. Each of Odysseus’s adventures is paired with a modern struggle faced by returning soldiers. For example, after Brennan tells the story of Odysseus’s men being trapped by the Lotus Eaters, one of his soldiers relates how his recovery from shrapnel led to Oxycontin abuse, a DUI, and stripped rank. The theme of soldiers helping one another through post-traumatic stress disorder runs through the work, which was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Five different artists illustrated the book, and their sections are scattered, which makes for minor character inconsistencies. Containing no graphic language or sex, this title can be easily paired with Homer’s The Odyssey in a classroom setting. VERDICT Perfect for school libraries in military communities or where The Odyssey is part of the curriculum.–Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL


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New Collaboration Eases Path to ESSA Implementation Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:32:14 +0000  

President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act.

President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Educational content provider Rosen Publishing and political action committee EveryLibrary have joined forces to provide pro-bono strategic consulting services to state-level school library stakeholders to help them craft their plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Through ESSA, signed into federal law last December, school librarians were formally recognized as “specialized instructional support personnel.” That means school library programs have new opportunities for funding.

“ESSA has created tremendous new opportunities for states to put effective school library programs to work for their students,” says Roger Rosen, President of Rosen Publishing. “The success that ALA and AASL had in Washington getting school library issues into the bill was a singular achievement. But each state’s approach to ESSA Implementation will be local and distinct. We are proud to provide new donor funding to EveryLibrary so they can expand their pro-bono work with the school library community.”

What needs to happen now

But first, each state has to adapt its education laws to these new ESSA provisions. Otherwise, the federally-won battle will just have to be fought again and again at building and district levels.

The federal government is requiring states to develop an ESSA Implementation Plan that addresses at least three action areas: standards and assessment, accountability, and school improvement. Each state has a task force set up to do that.

The project’s goals

That’s where the new collaborative project comes in. Those state task forces don’t have to include any librarians. The goals of the project are to ensure that each task force has school library stakeholders on it, and that every possible way to expand the stature of school librarians, as authorized under federal law, is explored. “If we’re not at the table, we’re going to be on the table,” says John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary.

“We’re not working on a building or district level now—that will be years down the road. EveryLibrary efforts are limited to state-level planning processes,” explains Chrastka. “Of the 18 states we spoke to, which range geographically from Alaska to Florida, only two had school librarians assigned to a work group, and another two proactively requested school librarians be seated at the table.”

Tough challenges

EveryLibrary will be reviewing each state’s laws or code for school library program standards. If there aren’t any, then a point of reference will need to be identified—quickly—on a case-by-case basis.

Adaptability among the stakeholders is going to be key. The planning processes will be as varied as the states themselves. They could include meetings of educational stakeholders, listening tours by state DOE or board leadership, a task force or working group model, public comment on proposed rule changes, all of those, or none. That means there’s no one-size-fits-all playbook.

“EveryLibrary’s leadership is helpful in getting the various stakeholders organized and seeing the bigger picture,” shares Kafi Kumasi, associate professor at Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science in Detroit. “As an example, John Chrastka stressed the importance of our school library reps being on all 10 of the task forces set up in Michigan. While it was too late to actualize this, we saw things differently in terns of what groups we ‘belong to’ and who needs to hear our perspective.”

The clock is ticking

Each state is required to deliver its ESSA Implementation Plan to the U.S. Department of Education by the end of April 2017 for the 2017–18 school year. Some states will be done sooner, having issued their calendars in January or February. Others are only just getting started now. “Given the reality that time is of the essence…we hope to be on the ground with a basic plan in place to be part of developing New Hampshire’s vision as schools gear up to open this fall,” reports Susan Ballard, program director at Granite State College School of Education in Concord, NH.

“Here’s where the rubber hits the road,” says Miriam Gilbert, director, Rosen Digital, speaking on behalf of Rosen Publishing. “There is still time to get the administrative authorization language in, state by state. Otherwise, school library programs can’t be included in appropriations. Some states have a very clear timeline. Others are more opaque.” The dates for public hearings are different for every state, which is what makes the effort demanding. “In some places, we are late to the game. We stand ready to coach and train,” says Chrastka.

“Librarians are so lucky to have the support of Rosen and EveryLibrary. Seriously, they gave us a starting point and really pushed me to be an advocate outside of my district and use my skills in a way I haven’t before,” says Stephanie Ham, director of library services for Nashville Public Schools. “Building an amazing team of library leaders across the state from a variety of districts and backgrounds, we are working to have a voice on committees and push our supports to speak up for what librarians—not just libraries—can do to support student success.”

Supporting stakeholders          

“We are helping state level school librarian stakeholders tactically, to get what was won for them by ESSA into their state implementation plans. We are helping them get a seat at the table and lobbying. We are not working on policy issues, though,” notes Chrastka. “[The American Library Association] ALA and [the American Association of School Librarians] AASL have that covered.”

EveryLibrary is also educating stakeholders with sample rewrites of law and code, existing policy papers,  ALA and AASL talking points on the value of school librarians, and how to write comments that identify how school libraries support educational goals.

Key questions the stakeholders are walked through include:
What are the terms used in your state for “School Librarians” and “School Library Programs” as defined in ESSA?
Where in state law or administrative code are school librarian positions mentioned?
What terms currently exist in state law or administrative code for ‘Specialized Instructional Support Personnel’ as defined by ESSA?

Along with tools from EveryLibrary, the newly minted AASL Position Paper defining an Effective School Library Program, and the U.S. Department of Education Future Ready Schools Initiative model are being used to develop individual state plans.

The role of individual librarians

What’s the most important thing one school librarian can do? “Be prepared to articulate a policy vision during the public comment period, which will vary by state. Look to your state library association or chapter for that info, and learn the deadlines,” advises Chrastka. An overall state-by-state calendar of ESSA dates and deadlines is available on

“We need many voices in the choir,” adds Gilbert. “Academic librarians, those directing school library education programs, parents and students need to be recruited to speak during public comment periods. That’s what EveryLibrary is doing, providing the framework to identify the stakeholders, how to reach them and get them involved. We’ve had tremendous progress in Idaho, Tennessee, Florida, Miami, Georgia, Virginia, and Montana.”

A team effort

“We could not be effective in this project without the policy work that AASL and ALA have done,” says Chrastka. “Their Unpacking ESSA tool kit provides the standards-based and outcomes-based framework that each school library stakeholder group needs to use in their particular policy setting. Rosen Publishing’s donation allows us to provide our support for free.That, along with their network, has added the capacity we needed to tackle this in all 50 states. We did not anticipate being able to get directly involved with school libraries until 2018, and then in the usual election or funding negotiation capacity. We’re excited to be doing this now. The win for school libraries from ESSA is huge.”

Gilbert agrees. “School Librarians were the ones left behind in the No Child Left Behind Act. It was the hard work of AASL and ALA that got that wonderful language into ESSA, as only they could do. A door has opened. We’re talking about a nationwide impact on learners, to be embedded in the fabric of learning…that’s profound.”

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Brendan Kiely’s and Jason Reynolds’s CSK Author Honor Speeches for “All American Boys” Tue, 26 Jul 2016 16:40:34 +0000 All American Boys on June 26 during the CSK Award’s Breakfast at the American Library Association's Annual Meeting in Orlando. SLJ presents both speeches, published together for the first time.]]> 000 All American BoysCoauthors Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds each delivered remarks about their Coretta Scott King (CSK) Author Honor win for All American Boys on June 26 during the CSK Award’s Breakfast at the American Library Association’s Annual Meeting in Orlando. Reynolds also received a 2016 Honor for his The Boy in a Black Suit. His acceptance speech helped launch the CSK committee’s blog and was originally published there. Kiely’s address is published on for the first time.

Calling In by Brendan Kiely

To be included here because of a book that I cowrote with Jason, someone I love as dearly and closely as family, for an award with a legacy and meaning that is the very best of American history, and to be among Coretta Scott King Author Honorees of the past and today—writers I admire and who are the very best of American letters—this is an honor of a lifetime, and this white boy stands before you trembling with humility and gratitude.

Firstly, I want to thank all the librarians and educators who support All American Boys and who have championed it and opened conversations about police brutality, race, racism, systemic racism, whiteness, and white privilege in your communities. You all do the tough, frontlines work of engaging young people and nurturing young minds and bodies. Minds matter. Bodies matter. Because there are too many minds and bodies missing. Tamir Rice, Treyvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray. Some names are familiar, but many are not, because there are many, many, too many, missing today, and they shouldn’t be.

This is why I say Black Lives Matter, every time I get behind a microphone. Because young minds and bodies are missing. I cannot bring them back, so the question is what do I do going forward? This is a time for action. Art is action. Love is action. Education is action.

As a white, heterosexual, cis-gender, able-bodied man, when I think about the Peace, Brotherhood, and Non-Violent Social Change this award stands for, I try to think about how and when the pieces of my identity stand in the way of those goals.

In All American Boys, as in all my work, I especially want to reckon with whiteness, because, as a white person, I can’t talk about racism, or the process or desire to dismantle the system that supports it, or eradicate racism itself, without first grappling with whiteness. It is whiteness itself that perpetuates that racism. As Quinn learns in All American Boys, you cannot have an institution that systematically disenfranchises people without also empowering others to systematically benefit from that injustice.

Brendan Kiely. Photo by Gary Joseph Cohen

Brendan Kiely. Photo by Gary Joseph Cohen

To speak truth to power, in other words, I have to first speak truth to myself. I live in the comfort of the privileged positions of my identity and I want to call people who also live with any of those elements of identity into the space of discomfort, so that together, we might do less harm as white people, as cis-gender heterosexuals, and as able-bodied people. This is my educational mission. This is my artistic, literary mission. To join the revolution against complacency, bigotry, exclusion, and hate, the revolution against injustice.

A line of graffiti I saw on a nearly 2,000-year-old wall in Rome encapsulates it for me: the role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible.

Revolution. Action. It does not begin in the street—although it needs to get there. It does not begin in Congress—although it needs to get there. Revolution begins in the heart. And I believe that it is in that beautifully intimate space between a reader and a book, where the spark ignites, the fuse lights, and the flame rises in the heart, where revolution feels irresistible.

This was a revolution started by others, and I am honored to stand here today in the presence of these heroes, and the long list of giants who are the literary tradition of this award and ceremony. But this is also a revolution propelled by so many others today.


Jason Reynolds. Photo by Kia Dyson

And so to the organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement that still continues: I am with you in revolution. To the organizers fighting for the dignity of all people in bathrooms across America: I am with you in revolution. To the people outside, right now, and to all the people from Stonewall to The Castro who are mourning for Orlando: I am with you in revolution. I cannot be a leader, but I will write and write and write until I am dead in the ground to remind you that I love you. You are giants I strive to walk with when I write.

I’m so proud to have my name on a book with Jason Reynolds—thank you for trusting me as we embarked on this together. Thank you Jackie Woodson, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Matt de la Peña for your early and galvanizing support. I am honored to have published the book with Justin Chanda and Caitlyn Dlouhy, and the whole S. & S. team who worked double time to make the book a reality—thank you, all of you. To the Coretta Scott King committee members, who have given this book an honor I will forever be grateful and humble to be a part of, thank you so much!

And a huge thank you to all the librarians and educators who said YES to this book, and who said yes to getting it in the hands of young people—young people who want to talk, who are ready to talk, who want to dig in, because they have less of a stake in the world that is, and rather, a much greater stake in the world that could be. Thank you everyone who said YES to this love. Because love is. Love is art. Love is education. Love is accountability. You’ve heard it before, but it always bears repeating: Love is love is love is love is love.

MACHETES by Jason Reynolds

if you listen closely
you can hear the machetes
cutting the air
in half
connecting for half a second with something
breathing and growing
breathing and growing
before being chopped
down like sugar cane in a Louisiana field
yes there are machetes everywhere
the sound of them cutting the air

chop CHOP
chop CHOP

we try not
to bend in the wind
try not to bow or bow
try to wrap fingers around our own
saccharine souls
and brace ourselves
for the

chop CHOP
chop CHOP
the machetes
cutting the air in half
coming for us

seems like folks like us be best
when we broken open
when we melted down
when we easier to digest

if you listen closely
you can hear the machetes
cutting the ears off

chop CHOP
chop CHOP

cold steel against our cheeks
be black sheep siblings
be black boy pillows

chop CHOP
chop CHOP

ears lopped off
leaving our drums in the dirt
like we ever needed ears
to hear God
like we ever needed ears to hear
the machetes
cutting the air
in half
the machetes
cutting the eyes out
retinas ripped
light left as a stain on the angry end of a blade
life in black and white blur
like we ever needed eyes to see red
to see gold
to see sunshine laughing yellow
|to see those machetes
cutting the air
in half

chop CHOP
chop CHOP

those machetes
cutting us
in half

chop CHOP

dropping us down
to a manageable size
like gigantism be the only reason we giants
what you gon do with this ten foot fire in my belly?
what you gon do with tidal wave under my tongue?
aint nobody ever told you we always find our legs?

if you listen closely
you can hear the machetes
cutting the air
in half

chop CHOP

and if you listen even closer
you can hear
in the sliver of silence
between those chops
the clapping

clap CLAP
clap CLAP

the clapping of yester-generation’s
freedom songs
protest warriors
unpopular opinions
uncomfortable confrontation
unhinging truth

clap CLAP

and this generation’s
freedom songs
protest warriors
unpopular opinions
uncomfortable confrontation
unhinging truth

clap CLAP
clap CLAP

the clapping of kids in the street
and grandmas at church
the clapping of aunties watching
their nieces lead the march now
the clapping of new connections
new routes
new alleyways
new allies
new chances
new dances
at house parties
because we’ve never needed
eyes ears or legs
to boogie because boogie
be our heartbeat
and if you listen closely
you can hear our heartbeat
in syncopation with that

clap CLAP
clap CLAP

our laughter
clap CLAP

our singing
clap CLAP

our dancing
clap CLAP

our fighting
clap CLAP

our praying
clap CLAP

our crying
clap CLAP

or trying to breathe and grow
in the midst of all this


yes there are machetes everywhere
and if you look closely
really closely
closer than closely
you can see the machine
turning its wheels
churning out those machetes

this machine
distant yet all around
like sky
and cold
and perfect for sharpening steel
because it has no finger to prick
it has never felt the sting of skin rolling back
because it doesn’t have skin
and the excuses of history keep its conveyor belt
rolling out
machete after machete after machete
to cut the air
of so many of us
in half

no this machine
it does not feel
but it does speak

it says
get to work

chop chop

MACHETES © copyright 2016 Jason Reynolds, used with permission of Pippin Properties, Inc.







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Wild Things! | SLJ Spotlight Tue, 26 Jul 2016 16:06:00 +0000 No matter the season, no matter where one lives, there are innumerable opportunities for kids to interact with the natural world and be introduced to some of its varied and colorful flora and fauna. Whether large or infinitesimally tiny, predators or helpful plants and creatures, all offer something to stimulate the senses and secrets to be discovered. Just walk outside, take some time, and be as quiet as possible. The wild will come to you!

redstarGodwin, Laura. Owl Sees Owl. illus. by Rob Dunlavey. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553497823. Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin

PreS-Gr 1 –“Soar/Glide/Swoop/Swoosh.” A young owlet leaves his nest one night for a solo adventure—and, by the light of the moon, sees his reflection in the water. “Owl/Sees/Owl.” Startled, he makes his way back home, where he finds safety in the comfort of his nest. “Sister/Brother/Mama/Home.” With only a few words per page, this poetic picture book is inspired by reverso poetry. Words that lead up to Owl seeing himself in the water are rearranged as he returns home. The mirroring of repetitive, rearranged text, coupled with tranquil, mostly blue watercolor and mixed-media illustrations, makes for a meditative and soothing experience for all readers. This is an ideal storytime choice for very young children because of the large print and thoughtful placement of text; basic words and concepts make this an obvious selection for early literacy enthusiasts. Fans of the author’s previous work One Moon, Two Cats will once again appreciate her introspective yet economical use of words to convey exploration and peacefulness. Fans of Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon and Martin Waddell’s Owl Babies will also love this calming story about an owl’s first adventure. VERDICT Those who enjoy poetry and picture books will find quiet contemplation in this obvious choice that will appeal to any audience.–Natalie Braham, Denver Public Library

Lloyd, Megan Wagner. Finding Wild. illus. by Abigail Halpin. 32p. Knopf. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781101932810. Finding Wild

K-Gr 2 –Inspiring children to claim the “wild” where they can find it, this notable debut is a paean to the beauty, fun, and relevance of the natural world. Emerging from the subway, two children travel through fields, forests, mountains, and meadows, exploring the many pleasures to be found outdoors. Evocative language encourages the use of all five senses when journeying through the landscape. “Wild is full of smells—fresh mint, ancient cave, sun-baked desert, sharp pine, salt sea. Every scent begging you to drink it in.” City dwellers are emboldened to seek out and investigate nature hiding amid the buildings and streets, as the children return home and discover an urban oasis. Multitextured digitally finished watercolor and pencil illustrations portray the varieties of nature, from a tiny sprout and shiny spiderweb to a lakeside trail and a pack of baying wolves. Colorful spreads provide space to feel the grandeur of the environment. VERDICT In an age when children spend less and less time outside, this ode to the wonder of the natural world is a step in the right direction. Perfect for a city-critters or nature unit.–Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

Pak, Kenard. Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn. illus. by Kenard Pak. 32p. Holt. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627794152. Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by K. Pak

PreS-Gr 1 –A girl wearing a red scarf greets a nippy late summer morning. The child wanders through woods, by a creek, and across farmland and finally arrives in town, encountering all sorts of flora and fauna along the way. She greets everyone in a friendly tone, saying hello to trees, blue jays, foxes, distant thunder, breezy wind, and the approaching chill in the air. In the end, returning home, it’s “Goodbye, summer…Hello autumn!” Short sentences are positioned over the pictures. The spare text and muted watercolor illustrations blend perfectly to create a feeling of wonder at the change of seasons. This is an upbeat look at the promise of fall’s glories. VERDICT A gentle, gorgeous welcome to summer’s end and fall’s beginning, perfect for storytime or one-on-one reading.–Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

redstarStringer, Lauren. Yellow Time. illus. by Lauren Stringer. 40p. S. & S./Beach Lane. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481431569. Yellow Time by L. Stringer

PreS-Gr 2 –Stringer re-creates those last days of autumn when the trees are no longer putting on a fiery show of colors and the leaves are one gusty day away from shuddering to the ground. Short, declarative, yet lyrical sentences set the stage (“The squirrels are too busy to notice, and the geese have already gone.”). Stringer continues to remind readers of the sounds (“Crows love yellow time. They fill still-leafy trees with their voices announcing its coming…”) and the smells (“wet mud and dry grass with a sprinkle of sugar”) of autumn and discusses the changing of the seasons (“Yellow time comes before white time. Every time.”). When the wind begins, everyone is ready: the trees, the children, the crows, and even the busy squirrels that use the fallen leaves for their lofty nests. The watercolor and acrylic illustrations, subtly reminiscent of Lois Lenski’s work, are full of movement and emotion. Stringer’s rendering of the autumn landscape and its diverse inhabitants, round faces lifted to the sky, remind readers of a moment in time. VERDICT This gorgeous picture book is a fine addition to seasonal and classroom collections, but it stands alone for its language and deft artwork. A lovely, evocative read-aloud.–Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence, RI

Thompson, Jolene. Faraway Fox. illus. by Justin Thompson. 32p. HMH. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544707115. Faraway Fox by J. Thompson

K-Gr 2 –Due to suburban sprawl, a young fox has been separated from others of his kind. Readers hear his thoughts about missing his mother’s advice and hunting skills, the games he played with his brother and sister, and the roaming he did with his father. All the while, he seems to be the only fox around and is navigating forlornly the human-made world that has grown up around him. Eventually, he notices a new kind of human development—a huge tunnel being built to connect the urban area with a wildlife preserve, which now allows him to reconnect with many other foxes. He is home again. This story would make a suitable read-aloud for young children, but it must be accompanied by an age-appropriate explanation of habitats. Factual information about special wildlife tunnels and bridges around the world and their importance in helping to minimize humans’ toll on habitat destruction is appended. The art is clear and spans spreads completely with colorful saturation. VERDICT A primary purchase where young naturalists abound.–Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID

These reviews were published in the School Library Journal July 2016 issue.

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Titles for a Tune-Filled Bilingual Storytime | Libro por libro Tue, 26 Jul 2016 14:00:41 +0000 Above illustration from LITTLE CHICKIES/LOS POLLITOS  by Susie Jaramillo, published by Canticos/Encantos Media.

Above illustration from LITTLE CHICKIES/LOS POLLITOS
by Susie Jaramillo, published by Canticos/Encantos Media.

Hablar/Talk. Cantar/Sing. Leer/Read. Escribir/Write. Jugar/Playing.

These are the basic tenets of Every Child Ready To Read 2 (ECRR2). Yet one of these, singing, can be challenging to meet, as it can be difficult to find songs in Spanish to incorporate into library programs or to have in our collections for families to borrow. As with children’s books for, by, or about Latinos, the market for children’s music in Spanish has been mostly overlooked. Here are a few new and not-so-new wonderful titles.



CANETTI, Yanitzia, sel. Uno dos tres: My First Spanish Rhymes. illus. by Patrice Aggs. Frances Lincoln. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781847801937.
PreS-Gr 2 –With 25 simple rhymes from the Spanish-speaking world and an included CD, this book is a good resource for families and program planners. The book has been divided into eight different categories such as “A Day on the Farm” (“¡A la granja!”) and “Bedtime” (“¡A dormir!”) that will be useful in planning storytimes. Children and adults alike will find the CD helpful. The rhymes are recited slowly, sometimes twice, then followed by the musical version.

COLATI LAÍNEZ, René. Señor Pancho Had a Rancho. illus. by Elwood Smith. Holiday House. 2013. ISBN 9780823426324.
PreS-Gr 2 –I usually shy away from English song translations, but this bilingual (or Spanglish) version of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” is such a riotous one, it is hard to resist. More than a translation, it is two stories taking place side by side, one on the left-hand page, the other on the right. Bit by bit, the two sides—Old MacDonald’s farm and Señor Pancho’s rancho—interact, ending in a cacophony of animal sounds. Even though the images are not that easy to see in a group read-aloud setting, children will still catch on to the silliness taking place and will love singing the catchy “cha, cha, cha, cha, cha” chorus.

De Colores: Bright with Colors. illus. by David Díaz. Amazon/Two Lions. 2011. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780761459347.
PreS-Gr 3 –This popular folk song (which is also the anthem of the United Farm Workers of America) celebrates the arrival of spring. There are several picture book editions of this song, but Díaz’s stylized illustrations, aside from being a feast for the eyes, match the warmth of the words in the tune so well; this title outshines all other iterations.

DOMÍNGUEZ, Angela. Maria Had a Little Llama/María tenía una llamita. illus. by author. Holt.

2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805093339.
PreS-Gr 2 –What makes this translation of the well-known “Mary Had a Little Lamb” stand out is the setting. Children in the United States don’t often encounter books set in Peru. This title offers a perfect opportunity to expand points of reference about the Spanish-speaking world while they have fun singing.

JARAMILLO, Susie . Los pollitos/Little Chickies. illus. by author. (Cantícos). Little Pickle/Encantos. 2016. Board. $14.99. ISBN 9780996995900.
Toddler-PreS –A delightful accordion-style board book featuring one of the most well-known Spanish songs for children. The illustrations are large and clear enough to be used during a storytime program. For a one-on-one read, there are flaps to open and a wheel to spin that will keep younger ones engaged.

JARAMILLO, Susie. Elefantitos/Little Elephants. illus. by author. (Cantícos). Little Pickle/Encantos. 2016. Board. $14.99. ISBN 9780996995917.
PreS-Gr2 –Using the same format as she did in Los pollitos/Little Chickies, Jaramillo presents another traditional Spanish children’s song, this time involving an increasing number of elephants swaying on a spider’s web. Sing along with the book as the children learn the song. But for some real fun, have the children make a giant spider web on the floor with some yarn; then they can be called into the web one by one until they are all in. That’s, of course, the moment when the web falls apart and they all fall down!


Cha, Cha, Cha: Spanish Learning Songs/Canciones infantiles. Performed by Jorge Anaya. Whistlefritz. 2010. CD. $11.99.
PreS-Gr 2 –The songs in this CD (also available in MP3 format) have a catchy Latin rhythm accompanied by an accordion, a guitar, maracas, and other percussion instruments. And yet the music does not overpower the lyrics, making it very easy for children to hear and learn them. Have fun singing those songs and swaying those hips!

Coloreando: Traditional Songs for Children in Spanish. Performed by Marta Gómez. GLP Music. 2013. CD. $12.99.
PreS-Gr 3 –The selections here are all well-known traditional Spanish songs. Gómez performs in an understated and mellow style that is very appealing and makes the lyrics clear and easy to follow. This charming CD is a wonderful addition to any library with a Spanish collection.

¡Comé bien! Eat Right! Performed by José Luis Orozco. Smithsonian Folkways. CD. 2015. $14.99.
PreS-Grade 3 –Orozco is probably the best-known performer in the United States of music in Spanish for children. In this latest, Grammy-nominated recording, as the title suggests, the theme is healthy eating and nutrition, but, more important, the songs are just plain fun. Imagine having a Conga line across the library as you sing “The Fruit Conga”! Many of the songs in this CD are riffs on well-known children’s songs, so don’t forget to introduce children to those as well. For example, when singing “Sabrosos colores,” make sure you also sing the original “De colores.” A 40-page booklet with bilingual notes is also included.


NAIDOO, Jamie Campbell, & Katie Scherrer. Once upon a Cuento: Bilingual Storytimes in English and Spanish. ALA Editions. 2016. pap. $48. ISBN 9780838914113.
This book provides 18 ready-to-use program plans for bilingual storytimes, as well as several templates for designing your own. There are also recommendations for books, songs, apps, and professional resources. Aside from this, the book provides a well-articulated rationale for bilingual programming and outreach.
This website has a wealth of activities, songs, games, and links to other helpful sites.

Lucia Acosta is a children’s literature specialist and reviewer. She served on the 2015 Caldecott and the 2013 Pura Belpré Award committees.


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The Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue by Suzanne Slade | SLJ Review Tue, 26 Jul 2016 14:00:10 +0000 Slade, Suzanne. The Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue. illus. by Stacy Innerst. 48p. bibliog. chron. Calkins Creek. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629790992. 

K-Gr 4 –Slade teams up with Innerst for this pleasant picture book biography of composer George Gershwin, with a focus on Gershwin’s introduction to music as a child and the various influences that led to his unique musical style. The culmination of the story is the creation and [...]]]> redstarSlade, Suzanne. The Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue. illus. by Stacy Innerst. 48p. bibliog. chron. Calkins Creek. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629790992. The Music in George’s Head George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue by Suzanne Slade

K-Gr 4 –Slade teams up with Innerst for this pleasant picture book biography of composer George Gershwin, with a focus on Gershwin’s introduction to music as a child and the various influences that led to his unique musical style. The culmination of the story is the creation and performance of his grand composition Rhapsody in Blue, in 1924. Innerst’s acrylic spreads are almost entirely done in blue and gray tones, with broad brushstrokes, scanned textiles, and paper adding texture; each scene is striking. Slade’s narrative is highly readable and lightly peppered with musical onomatopoeia. She vividly describes the sounds of New York City and the “rattle-ty bang” of the railroad train that inspired Gershwin to write his famed piece. Rather than offering an overview of his relatively short life, Slade provides a deeper look into his creative process and the ways in which he melded classical, ragtime, jazz, and blues to create a sound purely his own. Key phrases inked in script among the typed words weave the illustrations and text together. Terms such as staccato are defined by their very placement and spacing on the page. A detailed author’s note, time line, and bibliography add further depth to this well-researched work. VERDICT Readers will get a glimpse into Gershwin’s mind and find the music within. Highly recommended for purchase.–Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA

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

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Innovative Outreach To Help the Youngest Learners Tue, 26 Jul 2016 13:50:54 +0000 Outreach services can help you grow your patron base beyond the bread and butter of any library—the regulars. Because of staffing logistics, though, leaving your building, for however noble a cause, is challenging. But what children’s librarian doesn’t love a challenge? The proof: these library teams going above and beyond in innovative ways to reach new users.

Reap benefits for years to come


A home visit sponsored by the Port Washington (NY) Public Library

The Parent-Child Home Program began 50 years ago as an intensive model to combat the lack of school readiness in low income children, and those deemed to be “at risk,” such as kids whose parents can’t read. Today, 40 percent of the children served come from families where English is not the first language. Toddlers age 18 months–three are typically chosen for the two-year program. They receive approximately 46 home visits between September and June. A trained home visitor brings the family a book one week, and an educational toy the next. The home visitor models early literacy and learning skills by sharing the book and toy with the child and caregiver in an interactive, casual format designed to increase the comfort level of the caregiver as their child’s first teacher. Over the two years, each family receives 46 toys and 46 books, both with guide sheets that include tips for verbal interaction. The home visitor also acts as a conduit to the community, connecting families to a swath of resources, including food, housing, and education. At the end of the program, the home visitor helps the caregiver enroll the child in a high-quality preschool, Head Start, or kindergarten.

While the program has a presence around the world, only two public libraries operate one—so far. Coincidentally, they are both on Long Island, NY. Middle Country Public Library in Centereach and Port Washington Public Library in Port Washington have been at it for 20 and 18 years, respectively.


Through a Port Washington Public Library initiative, a company provides free computers to families and children who need them.

Fran Powell, the coordinator in Port Washington, is a cheerleader for the program, which is supported at her library through the Port Washington Library Foundation. “The wonderful connection with the library is getting these families to become lifelong library users,” says Powell. She recalls the day when a girl in sixth grade walked up to her in the library and said “Do you remember me? You used to come to my house and read to me.” Currently, Port Washington has 14 families, mostly Latino, enrolled in the program and two home visitors. One of the home visitors, Rodrigo, is bilingual. A benefit of having a public library run the program is the ability to share information such as library newsletters, story time schedules, and school district offerings with the families in a more relaxed, familiar manner. Powell sums up the power of the program. “When I see parents and children from those families walk through our door, into the library, I know we are doing the right thing.”

Get big results with a small staff

Parachute folding

The Pepin (WI) Public Library

The Pepin Public Library, located in Pepin, WI, is open 30 hours a week, but staffed only by library director Christie Rundquist and three, as Rundquist puts it, “very part time employees.” Yet she still makes it a priority to spend time at the village hall, where families go for their quarterly WIC appointments. WIC, the nutrition program for women, infants, and children, serves 53 percent of all infants born in the United States. Yes, 53 percent. So chances are good that Rundquist will make a connection with a library family during these outreach visits. Better yet, she will get to advocate for the library as a piece of the pre-kindergarten educational puzzle.

Rundquist realized that during the WIC appointments, which are made once a quarter, caregivers were struggling to conduct business while taking care of their young children in tow. Rundquist decided to set up shop for a few hours, often repeating her storytime of oversized picture books, scarves, and songs to a cycling audience of one or two tots at a time. She doesn’t mind. “It is important to get books into the hands of these children, so I asked other community organizations for cash donations so I could purchase new, age-appropriate books,” explains Rundquist. She lets each child choose a book as their “forever book” each quarter, so that a family who attends all four WIC appointments can receive four books for each child in a year. She conducts story time in a small kitchen within sight of the office the grown-ups go to. The tots can walk back and forth if they need the reassurance of seeing mom for a moment.

Rundquist began the outreach program a few years ago, after receiving a grant from her local Indian Head Federated Library System. The WIC office opens at 8 am. Yet Rundquist is there, building community. “I can introduce parents who weren’t coming to the library to our services, like the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program, at the same time that I introduce books, music, and large movement activities to their little ones,” says Rundquist.

Multiply the results of your outreach efforts


A color-mixing STEAM program at Chicago Public Library

What if your library could take individual outreach visits and magnify them in quantity and quality? The Chicago Public Library did just that with three ISTEAM vans providing STEAM-based story hours to over 200 Head Start and Early Head Start sites. Each site is visited twice during the school year, with the second visit scaffolding on the vocabulary, themes, and stories of the first. During the 2015–16 school year, the library conducted 3,500 outreach visits, reaching about 8,000 preschoolers.

A vital piece of the ISTEAM story hours is the introduction of vocabulary that is unique to STEAM disciplines. “Scientists have their own language that they use to describe their work and themes, so it is important that young children are introduced to these words in a natural, organic way,” explains Elizabeth McChesney, director of children’s services. During a building themed session, for example, children build with foam blocks, while wearing hard hats and safety goggles. Librarians will ask questions and allow the young students to form hypotheses and share their thoughts in open-ended dialogues that enhance vocabulary.

One unexpected outcome that McChesney found inspiring was getting new books into the hands of the Head Start teachers, who often lack funds to purchase them. The library was able to leave books behind in each classroom relating to the theme of that particular story hour.

Another important aspect to this outreach was building a connection to the family. The library would print out a simple letter in five different languages for Head Start staff to send home. This way, families knew the library had visited.

Expansion plans include ISTEAM visits to home daycare providers, and quarterly caregiver programs to share STEAM and early literacy tips and projects, empowering them to continue the dialogue at home. “The program rolled out kind of quietly this year, but it was quickly evident in the reactions of kids and teachers alike that the library was providing good, innovative service,” notes McChesney. The service will likely be sustainable and strengthen the early learning skills of children—a win-win.

Turn partygoers into patrons

Community baby showers—when Rotary clubs, Kiwanis clubs, health centers, or United Way affiliates collect donations for maternity wards and pediatric health agencies—aren’t a new concept. What has given them a fresh spin is the recent involvement of public libraries. That makes perfect sense, given the strong potential for cross-agency partnerships and community resource sharing.

While the showers are very often held right in a library’s community room, plenty of outreach is involved. First, the children’s librarian needs to attend meetings of local community organizations that are probably not a traditional literacy agent. That librarian needs to advocate to these groups that the library belongs at the same table, so to speak, in order to provide strong services across the community. This takes time and planning, as staff must do research to locate agencies, find meeting times, initiate contact, and then arrange staffing. Often, these organizations have already laid a lot of the groundwork, and are looking for drop-off locations to house the baby shower donations. The public library is a perfect fit, able to call for new and like-new clothing, blankets, and diapers on their digital platforms and in their newsletter.

Some libraries, such as the Albuquerque Public Library in New Mexico and the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library in West Virginia, take this idea a step further. They each host a community baby “fair” for new or expecting parents to receive free information from local organizations that serve young families, refreshments, small gifts, and other surprises. The quarterly community fairs at Albuquerque are sponsored by the local library foundation.

This past May, 21 vendors attended the community baby fair at Clarksburg-Harrison – a record number for a library program, reports Erica Perry, children’s librarian and organizer of the event. Perry contacted hospitals, birthing centers, and health organizations months in advance. “I go to their events, and they come to my events,” she notes. Vendors brought information and giveaways, and local restaurants even provided lunch. A guest speaker addressed the concerns of new moms. No sign-ups were required. Over 100 patrons dropped in during the two-hour window.

The strength of this type of outreach is seen, says Perry, in the young families coming in to check out materials and attend programs for the first time— because they were introduced to the library through that little community celebration.

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The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry | SLJ Audio Review Tue, 26 Jul 2016 13:00:56 +0000 Berry, Julie. The Passion of Dolssa. 10 CDs. 11:43 hrs. Listening Library. Apr. 2016. $60. ISBN 9780147525819. digital download. 

Gr 7 Up –This magnificent tale is set in post-Crusades 13th-century France. A pious young noblewoman blessed with the gift of healing, Dolssa de Stigata is judged a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church and sentenced to burn at the stake. Forced to watch her beloved mother burn first, Dolssa is surprised when someone cuts the ropes binding [...]]]> redstarBerry, Julie. The Passion of Dolssa. 10 CDs. 11:43 hrs. Listening Library. Apr. 2016. $60. ISBN 9780147525819. digital download. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

Gr 7 Up –This magnificent tale is set in post-Crusades 13th-century France. A pious young noblewoman blessed with the gift of healing, Dolssa de Stigata is judged a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church and sentenced to burn at the stake. Forced to watch her beloved mother burn first, Dolssa is surprised when someone cuts the ropes binding her hands and feet and implores her to run. Driven into hiding from the churchmen dispatched to track her down, Dolssa is found nearly dead from starvation and exhaustion by a young tavern keeper and matchmaker, Botille, who vows to protect the young heretic despite the danger posed to herself and her family. Unlikely allies, the girls unwittingly put an entire village at risk in their effort to stand up for their beliefs. The account is told in alternating voices by Dolssa, Botille, and Arnaut d’Avinhonet, a Dominican friar. This lush and compelling book is enhanced by brilliant narration by Jayne Entwistle, Allen Corduner, and Fiona Hardingham. Lucky listeners will be haunted by their voices long after the book concludes. VERDICT Highly recommended for all junior high and high school audio collections. [“An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry’s latest is a must for middle and high school libraries”: SLJ 3/16 starred review of the Viking book.]–Lisa E. Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH

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

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28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World by Charles R. Smith Jr. | SLJ Audio Review Tue, 26 Jul 2016 13:00:13 +0000 Smith, Charles R., Jr. 28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World. 1 CD w/Tr book. 68:45 min. Live Oak. Jan. 2016. $31.95. ISBN 9781430120247. 

Gr 2-5 –Each of the 28 entries in this excellent work, written to be used during Black History Month, highlights the achievements of an African American man or woman, or the details of a court decision or historical event, the effects of which are still felt today. Vibrant poetry begins many of [...]]]> redstarSmith, Charles R., Jr. 28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World. 1 CD w/Tr book. 68:45 min. Live Oak. Jan. 2016. $31.95. ISBN 9781430120247. 28 Days Moments in Black History That Changed the World by Charles R. Smith Jr.

Gr 2-5 –Each of the 28 entries in this excellent work, written to be used during Black History Month, highlights the achievements of an African American man or woman, or the details of a court decision or historical event, the effects of which are still felt today. Vibrant poetry begins many of the selections, followed by further information that provides a quick overview of the subjects’ significance. Highlighting individuals from Crispus Attucks to Barack Obama, this presentation offers a rich overview of African American history. The stellar cast of narrators—Dion Graham, William Jackson Harper, Zainab Jah, January LaVoy, Robin Miles, Lizan Mitchell, Jonathan Earl Peck, and Carter Woodson Redwood—use their vocal talents to bring the words to life. Rich, lyrical voices unite to proclaim freedom, rejoice in justice, and impart information, while occasional appropriate background music and sound effects enhance the production. Having each entry on a separate track makes this an easy tool for teachers to use. The material, however, is best appreciated while viewing Shane W. Evans’s bold, textured mixed-media illustrations. Ah, but what about leap years? An open-ended 29th day is included, singing of hope for the future. VERDICT This is an exceptional production that merits a place in any library serving children. [“Highly recommended as a reference book, an example of poetic forms, and a work of art”: SLJ 1/15 review of the Roaring Brook book.]–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

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

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Creative Play with “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” | Touch and Go Tue, 26 Jul 2016 12:22:09 +0000 There are a number of “Eric Carle” apps for young children with a concept focus: in Eric Carle’s My Very First App (Philomel/Night & Day Studios), a matching game, children learn about animals and their homes, while Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar (Penguin/Night & Day Studios) offers levels of math activities. StoryToys has recently released an app with a creative focus, based on the artist’s books. Cathy Potter reviews it below.

hungryYoung children will have hours of fun experimenting with colors, textures, and shapes in The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Creative Play (StoryToys Entertainment, iOS, $2.99; PreS), the latest in the suite of apps inspired by Eric Carle’s iconic picture books. The app includes 20 templates featuring characters from Carle’s works including Brown Bear, Mr. Seahorse, and the Mixed-Up Chameleon.

Navigation is intuitive. A menu at the top of the screen provides users with options for drawing, painting, or creating collage art. Kids can tap the scissors for cut-paper collage mode, touch the brush to paint, or select the pencil for drawing. The menu includes an impressive array of textures, patterns, and colors from which to choose. Collage art in the style of Carle is created by tracing dotted lines on the template to add various patterns of paper to the page, an activity that also provides an opportunity for users to exercise their hand-eye coordination. Background music can be switched on and off; on, the music provides a soothing ambiance for young artists.

Children who wish to create their own pictures may choose a blank canvas instead of the templates. As they work, a curved arrow serves as an undo button allowing them to clear their work one step at a time in both drawing and painting modes. There’s also the option to save pictures to a gallery or the iPad’s camera roll.

Creative Play will encourage young children to imagine, illustrate, and possibly write as they create their own masterpieces; its simplicity belies its possibilities. And, after spending time with some of their favorite characters, children just may be inspired to revisit their favorite Carle books. Language options are available, as is a trailer.—Cathy Potter, Falmouth Elementary School, Falmouth, ME

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How To Crowdsource a Library Mon, 25 Jul 2016 20:38:17 +0000 img_7930

The fully-stocked junior/senior high school library in Greenville, CA

“Just. One. Book.” On June 7, writer and mom of two Margaret Elysia Garcia opened her blog, “Throwing Chanclas,” with those three powerful words. It was a crowdsourced plea for donations to rebuild the library at the Greenville Junior/Senior High School (GHS) in her rural hometown of Greenville, CA. The Indian Valley Academy charter school, which has shared the building since 2012, would benefit from the new collection as well.

The current stacks were woefully out of date. Perennially short on funds, the school had stopped purchasing new texts for the library approximately 20 years earlier. Administrators made the collection completely off-limits to students once the part-time librarian’s aide position was eliminated in 2006. When Garcia and other parents volunteered to check out and re-shelve books, they were told that staff union restrictions prohibited it.

“So here’s what I’m asking,” Garcia continued. “Will you donate a book? A real book. Something literary or fun—something that speaks to your truth, [the kids’] truths. Something that teaches them something about the world. Makes them feel less alone?”


Margaret Elysia Garcia

Garcia had wanted to launch a similar campaign for years. “We’re a very rural community that doesn’t have a lot of resources,” she says. “We’re pretty isolated here. A lot of our kids don’t have access to many age-appropriate books.” Garcia felt the need was especially urgent since the town’s small branch library wasn’t open on weekends and there is no bookstore in Greenville, a town of only 1,100 roughly 175 miles north of Sacramento. She also knew the transformative power of reading firsthand: A self-described shy Army brat who moved often as a child, she relied on the characters of books to serve as companions as she made the transition to each new town. Plus, her 13-year-old attends the charter school and her 11-year-old will be entering in the fall. “I wanted these kids to be able to physically browse shelves,” she says. “It’s one thing to search for a specific book online; it’s a completely different experience to discover that perfect book that you didn’t even know existed.”

Where previous GHS administrations had replied no to her offer to help rebuild the library, new principal Jerry Merica-Jones said yes, as did Indian Valley Charter School director Sue Weber. “Anything we have to do to get books in kids’ hands,’” says Weber. “I never expected this reaction, though. I thought we’d get a few hundred books.”

As Garcia’s call for help spread, texts poured in. Thousands of them.

Her original blog post was shared more than 3,000 times, helped by two online writers’ organization to which she belongs. Author Neil Gaiman retweeted one of her Twitter posts, as did Monty Python’s Eric Idle.

At the request of donors, Garcia posted a wish list to and to the bookstore in a neighboring town, which offered a twenty percent discount on all volumes purchased for the project. The wish lists made it easier for donors to know what the schools needed and to avoid duplication – or in some cases to duplicate deliberately in order to create classroom sets.

She and the faculty at the schools particularly wanted books by women, by people of color, and those told from the LGBTQ point of view. They requested graphic novels and zines and comics as well as science books and poetry books and classics to grab the attention of both devoted and reluctant readers, provide resources for teachers, and help instill a love of reading that would hopefully last a lifetime. “Books provide a window to the world that you don’t get in any other context — a different cultural experience — especially for kids in a small town, and we need that,” says Merica-Jones.

As the volume of donations became apparent, the community pitched in to help. Neighbors arrived to recycle boxes and packaging. Students from both schools, through with classes for the summer, volunteered to unpack, sort, and shelve books; send a thank you note to every donor; and begin scanning texts. “The kids felt like it was Christmas opening the boxes,” says Garcia. “A title would catch someone’s eye and I’d hear, ‘Can I take a break? I want to stop and read this one!’”

After discussion with students, the schools have decided to organize the library by genre for easy browsing and will use the TinyCat system to catalog the new collection. Students and volunteers, led by Garcia, will check out and re-shelve books once classes begin. The staff union restrictions expired after the position was vacant for five years, confirms Merica-Jones.

Volunteers are also giving the physical space a much-needed makeover. In fact, students at Indian Valley Academy had brainstormed ways to reimagine the library space as part of an XQ: The Super School Project competition just months earlier. Among their ideas now being implemented: repaint the walls a friendly blue with clouds (art students will tackle this task in the fall), separate the junior high books to make them easier to locate, add area rugs and bean bag chairs (already contributed by donors), and provide dedicated computer stations (made possible by grants and donations).

Garcia estimates the schools have received approximately 10,000 books, as well as a telescope, bookshelves, gift cards, school supplies, DVDs, offers from authors to Skype throughout the school year, and more. The collection has grown so robust, Greenville has been able to donate more than 2,000 duplicates to nearby schools.

A few of the happy benefactors of Just. One. Book.

A few of the happy benefactors of Just. One. Book.

“We really struck a chord,” says Garcia. “We received so many books from librarians and signed books from authors. And we got a lot of donations with notes from people who said, ‘I grew up in a small town, and I lived in the library, and books saved me. I know there has to be a kid in your town like me. I want to give back.’” There were so many touching messages that Garcia and Weber have decided to keep them in a notebook in the new library as a reminder of the outpouring of generosity that the town experienced.

As Merica-Jones says, “This has just been a miraculous, serendipitous experience.”

Mary Giles, the former deputy editor of Family Fun, reports and writes on a variety of topics surrounding children from her home in Massachusetts. 

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Trend Alert: Kite-Making Workshops Mon, 25 Jul 2016 20:36:09 +0000 We’ve caught wind of a new trend—kite-making workshops taking place in public libraries across the country. We asked around to see what’s up—and away!

Seasonally inspired in Larchmont, NY

larchmont kites

Program participants test their homemade kites. Photo courtesy of Larchmont Public Library

Kite-making workshops at the Larchmont (NY) Public Library are an annual favorite. For six years, the library has offered this program for kids during April, national kite flying month. The program has become so popular that it is now offered at other times of year, and for expanded age groups.

Rebecca Teglas, head of the children’s department, has always loved kites. “I was inspired to start the kite program because flying kites forces people to slow down in a busy world,” she says. “Also, there’s a lot to learn about science and math when it comes to flying kites.”

Teglas uses a recycled paper kite project she found online as the core of the program, and she begins with an inspiring video of a kite flying festival. The kite-making activity incorporates STEM skills such as measuring precisely and understanding the concept of lift. Plus, she always starts the program with an age-appropriate story—about kites, of course.

Crafty customers in Madison County, GA

baseball kite

The proud maker of a baseball kite. Photo courtesy of Madison County Library

The Madison County (GA) Library’s program began as a patron’s idea. She suggested the library try a kite making workshop—and offered to lead it. The library paid for the materials and provided staff assistance, but the patron planned the activity, making paper kites with a wooden dowel structure, decorated with paint and tissue paper. The program was offered as part of the library’s summer reading activities and was filled to capacity.

The experience was overwhelmingly positive for the library and reminded the staff that successful program ideas can come from anyone. Branch manager Jennifer Ivey reflects, “We paid attention to what our patrons are asking for, and if they really want something, maybe they can help make it happen! I don’t see any reason not to repeat this program.”

Science in the sky in Brooklyn, NY

The Clinton Hill branch of the Brooklyn (NY) Public Library was awarded a grant from the JM Kaplan Fund last year to spend on presenters and supplies, which allowed it to experiment with new programs. The branch is very close to a park with wide open spaces—perfect for flying kites—so they gave it a try.

brooklyn kite

A plastic bag kite in progress. Photo courtesy Brooklyn Public Library

Library supervisor Tracey Mantrone recalls the inspiration. “Living in an urban area, kids and families are clamoring to learn about science and nature,” she says. “We were working with a local summer camp on developing nature walks, and we thought this would tie in well.” She used the book Kites for Everyone: How to Make and Fly Them by Margaret Greger and Del Greger (Dover, 2006) to find instructions for a simple kite that would fly well, and developed a program for two groups of seven- to 12-year-old campers. Participants cut and decorated durable colored plastic trash bags and fit them over a dowel frame. The library provided kite string and a device to prevent tangling, and with simple safety instructions, the campers went straight from the library to the park to fly their kites. “The best part was that the kids got to actually use something they’d made from scratch, and it worked!” says Mantrone. Books about wind, lift, and flight deepened the science connection, and the library repeated the program in April to celebrate national kite flying month.

Arts and culture in Madison, WI


Artist Julio Flores with his own kite. Photo courtesy Madison Public Library

Madison (WI) Public Library’s recent kite program stood out because it is for adults. Led by artist Julio Flores, the program incorporated art, culture, and spiritual history. Flores led a series of workshops on kite-making, as he learned it from his grandfather as a child growing up in Cataño, Puerto Rico. The workshops were offered through the library’s maker space, the Bubbler, and were part of a series of craft programs representing diverse cultures.

Flores specializes in traditional Puerto Rican paper crafts, particularly masks and kites. This workshop, like most Bubbler programs, was artist-initiated. The library provided space and materials and handled all the promotion and other logistical arrangements, while the artist developed and led the workshop.

Like many of the library’s programs for adults, this one began as a workshop for kids. Adults accompanying their children requested a more in-depth version for older participants, and Flores was happy to oblige. “We see adults as an underserved population when it comes to maker programs, so we were excited to host this,” says Rebecca Millerjohn, whose title is deputy bubblerarian. “These experiences can help adults understand that maker spaces are for all ages.”

So are kites. There are a lot more library kite programs out there. Clearly, something is in the air!

Melanie Baron is the marketing and communications specialist for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation in North Carolina. She has consulted with libraries and museums around the country, and is proud to have been a founding staff member of ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center.

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Neal Bascomb on “Sabotage” and the Norwegian Fight Against the Nazis Mon, 25 Jul 2016 17:41:55 +0000 Sabatoge, about a riveting moment in World War II history.]]> From British SOE (Special Operations Executive) training camps to the harsh Norwegian winter landscape to an actual secret Nazi fortress perched above a gorge, Neal Bascomb has vividly brought to life the terror and intrigue that surround the heavy water sabotage operations, otherwise known as “the greatest act of sabotage in all of World War II.” SLJ spoke with Bascomb about his research process and what he hopes teen readers will take away from this lesser-known World War II account. Bascomb will be speaking at SLJTeen Live on August 10 as part of the “Stranger than Fiction” panel. Register for the free virtual event here!

In Sabotage, each of the Norwegian commandos who were involved in the heavy water sabotage, regardless of how big or small their role, received a full and complex portrait. Was it important for you that readers come away with not only a great story but a sense of empathy and understanding for the resistance fighters and the trials they went through for their country?Sabotage_ hires cover

Absolutely. As much as this narrative is about atomic science and the race to build a weapon unlike any before, it is a story of people at its heart. They drove the events; they shaped them. I wanted to know what motivated them, were they afraid, and how they managed to overcome those fears to execute these incredible missions that halted a key ingredient to the Nazi atomic research program. These individuals were not born heroes. Before the war, they were clerks, engineers, scientists, plumbers, and the like. Ordinary folks. History thrust great trials upon them, and they rose to the occasion.

Throughout Sabotage, you showcase quieter instances of resilience and quick thinking that may be unfamiliar to readers long accustomed to bombast in war stories. I’m thinking of leader Jens-Anton Poulsson’s brilliant way of keeping his men busy with chores during the day and lectures at night. With your work do you aim to present an alternative take to mainstream narratives on war?

I’m so glad this came through in the reading. Take Einar Skinnarland. He was incredibly tough and brave, but he still had moments where he was far from an unalloyed hero. On his parachute drop into Norway, he stood at the edge of the hole in which he would drop through, and he hesitated. He was not sure he could jump. The dispatcher almost had to shove him through. This did not make Einar any less of a hero, but it showed his humanity. Same with Jens-Anton Poulsson and his men telling each other stories at night to solidify their bond, to keep them together in a situation where they had thoughts of giving up and giving in. This is the truth, and to paint it any different would have been a disservice to them—and history. Also, I hope readers come away believing that they, too, could rise to the occasion because I show how much these Norwegians had their own doubts.

A hallmark of your work is the incredible amount of attention and care you dedicate to the bibliography, source notes, and other forms of back matter. When tackling such a rich subject such as World War II, where do you begin?

In researching my books, I always start with what has been written before. There were already a few works on the heavy water sabotage mission. I plumbed their bibliographies and read everything that they based their histories upon. I also read books on related subjects (German atomic history, Norway during World War II, British SOE history). Then I looked for magazine, newspaper, and scholarly articles. Once I felt like I knew everything that had already been written on the subject, I began my primary research. I scoured archival collections throughout the world. For Sabotage, there was great treasure in the Norwegian Resistance Museum in Oslo, as well as the British archives. After collecting everything possible there (and I am talking thousands of documents), I started reaching out to the individuals who experienced these events, as well as their families. I was looking for their recollections and any primary resources (diaries, memoirs, letters, etc.) that they may have had. Researching is typically a two-year process for me, but it’s one of the most rewarding parts of writing a book!

Photo by Meryl Schenker

During your research process, did you ever find yourself in disbelief over a piece of evidence (a record, a recounting, a diary excerpt, etc.)? How did you manage to sync together so many different perspectives?

Of all my books, I probably had more first-hand, primary source material on this one than any other I’ve written. There were secret reports, diaries, memoirs, letters, and more. Every memoir looks at events in a different way, sometimes in terms of how they unfolded, but more often, they are slanted to the perspective of the individual who is telling them. By reviewing the source material, I can judge where perspectives overlap and where they contradict. Often it’s a judgment call on whom to believe, whose recollections appear closest to the “truth.” Thankfully with Sabotage, I had so much material that my judgment was as well informed as possible.

I found your discussion of the psychological effects World War II had on the men of Operation Grouse and Operation Gunnerside in the epilogue refreshing. Was it difficult interviewing the family members of the Norwegian commandos?

Interviewing the family members was absolutely essential to telling this story in a real way. They [the families] were very open. Talking with them was not difficult, really. In some ways, I felt like I was almost allowing them to remember and understand who their fathers were. Furthermore, some of these individuals [discussed in the book] have been lost to history. They never earned the credit they deserved. In writing Sabotage, I hoped to restore the Norwegian resistance fighters to their proper place. Now that the book has come out, I’ve received some great letters from the families—their happiness is praise enough.

One of the larger things that I took away from Sabotage was just how long it can take to properly plan, prepare, and execute a military operation, even for missions such as parachute drops (waiting weeks for the right amount of moonlight). Do you hope readers will have a deeper understanding of just how complex and time consuming war is?

Yes. Yes. Yes. We often only hear about the great moments of action, but so much goes into preparing for these missions—and they are often the most dramatic part. Of course, the infiltration and sabotage of [the power station] Vemork by [Operation] Gunnerside is an edge-of-your-seat narrative, but that operation lasted only a few hours. Months went into gathering the necessary intelligence and assembling and training the team. And even more time went into preparing and surviving before the operation could take place. In these periods, the grit, intelligence, and skills of the saboteurs is tested every bit as much as they were during Gunnerside itself. Further, Leif Tronstad, the scientist turned spymaster who planned these operations, but was never on the ground, is every bit as interesting as the commandos themselves. Without him, the destruction of Vemork would never have been possible. Readers need to know why—and how.




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Gain Support When You Support District Goals | Take the Lead Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:26:46 +0000 AltobelliIn a relatively large district like mine—Albuquerque (NM) Public Schools—tying the school library to district priorities can seem simultaneously obvious and impossible. I have encountered few district initiatives that wouldn’t be improved by their close and careful integration with school library programs and resources, but school and district administrators sometimes do not realize the potential lurking helpfully within their walls.

This past year, the Lilead Fellows project has helped me refine and articulate strategies that yield results, fitting library programs into and around existing district goals. The way to success, for me, at least, has been to start small, build a network of library advocates, dream big, and never stop working for transformative change.

Sometimes, especially during times of administrative transition, it can be difficult to sync up with academic goals that are not yet fully defined. Through these changes, of which my district has had several recently, my department focuses on aligning library programs with our district’s practical and logistical priorities.

My department has never had a formal role in hiring or placing teacher librarians, but this year, we placed librarians in elementary schools for summer school. I might dream of inquiry-based curriculum throughout the district, but help with placement was what my district needed, and the project was successful. Since we knew each librarian’s background, we were able to align placements with their philosophies, experience, and commuting preferences, the latter being surprisingly important in a sprawling city. Now we have happy principals who have one less thing to worry about, and happy regular-year librarians who will come back to organized libraries. Plus, we have laid the groundwork for more in-depth collaboration with administrators.

It’s hard to predict where the best future partnerships might develop. I try to be proactive about promoting what our librarians are doing—and what they could do in the future with the right support. Every district meeting, no matter the official subject, is an opportunity to figure out how librarians can help fix problems or improve practices. A series of meetings about student logins offered a chance to position librarians as the potential digital integrationists my district increasingly needs. This led to the inclusion of our library department as a presenter at the annual district Tech Camp for teachers and principals.

Our participation will support district goals as they relate to digital resources and give us a chance to show, with real-life examples, everything that libraries and librarians offer. The amazing work of our librarians is the most powerful argument we have, and hearing about what has worked with students in our district resonates more than any study could. That power is amplified when a teacher returns to her school site and talks about how she’s improved her practices through working closely with her librarian and using library resources.

Between the librarians and my department, we surround our colleagues with information and options. Wherever they turn, there’s a friendly librarian with a potential solution or improvement. As a district administrator, I might have a meeting about new furniture with a principal who has chosen not to hire a librarian. In the course of that meeting, I might mention some of the great things teacher-librarians are doing in our district. The principal will be much more likely to follow through and hire a librarian. The same applies if they attend a larger principals’ meeting and hear about the ways other schools are successfully integrating technology in the classroom through collaborations between teachers and librarians.

Ultimately, I’ve found that the best way to promote successful partnerships is to, well, be a librarian. We listen to questions and help people figure out what they really want to know or do. We help people be successful, whatever they’re trying to accomplish or create. We offer solutions, and we help people figure out how to find solutions on their own. We show up, listen carefully, offer guidance, help with other people’s projects, collaborate, teach, and learn. We have all the answers—or we know how and where to look them up, which is just as good.

Rachel Altobelli is director of library services and instructional materials for Albuquerque Public Schools and a 2015–16 Lilead Fellow.

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