School Library Journal The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Fri, 18 Apr 2014 04:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Virginia Middle School Librarian and Her Book Club Raised Funds to Provide 15,000 Meals for Students in South Sudan Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:34:52 +0000 SLJ of how her book club read Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water (Houghton Mifflin, 2010)—a book about the civil war in South Sudan and its thousands of children orphans and refugees—and how the story prompted her students into action, exercising their computer literacy skills in a fundraising campaign for students of South Sudan. ]]> FeedandRead Jacob and Girls 300x220 How Virginia Middle School Librarian and Her Book Club Raised Funds to Provide 15,000 Meals for Students in South Sudan

The “Feed and Read Sudan” group, librarian Lauren McBride (far right), Sudan Sunrise’s Heather Flor (far left), and Sudanese-American activist and former-”Lost Boy” Jacob Atem (center)./Credit: Eileen Chesnakas

This year I had the opportunity to help a group of sixth graders elevate awareness in their community—as well as within themselves—about the ongoing crisis in Africa’s South Sudan and help my students raise funds to provide a group of South Sudanese students with school lunches and textbooks.  It all started with a book club.

At the start of the 2013-2014 school year, I launched a book club for students in my middle school—Seneca Ridge Middle School in Sterling, Virginia—with the goal of introducing students to a variety of literature genres.

In October, we read and discussed the inspirational A Long Walk to Water (Houghton Mifflin, 2010), by Linda Sue Park based on a true story. The story follows Salva Dut, one of thousands of orphans and refugees from the Sudanese Civil War referred to as the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” Separated from his family during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1985-2005), Salva traveled hundreds of miles by foot, seeking refuge from violence and starvation. Despite insurmountable adversity, Salva led over 150 Lost Boys to relative safety in Kenya where they settled in a refugee camp. Eventually, Salva emigrated to America, where he started Water for South Sudan, a nonprofit organization that drills wells to bring clean water access to the villages of South Sudan. During one of our book club meetings, we visited Water for South Sudan’s website and watched videos of how they are transforming lives in South Sudan.

LongWalktoWater How Virginia Middle School Librarian and Her Book Club Raised Funds to Provide 15,000 Meals for Students in South Sudan

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park./Credit: Penguin Australia

Through reading the book and the research related to the book, my students were shocked to learn of the living conditions in Sudan. This was the first time they had learned of the Sudanese Civil War, the Lost Boys, and that many people in South Sudan don’t have basic necessities such as clean water access and everyday food. My students said they wanted to help and decided to enter a competition called Step Up Loudoun, a local Virginia youth competition that celebrates middle and high school students for taking action to address issues in the community.

Eager to help out, the Step Up Loudoun organizers connected us with a nonprofit based out of Washington, D.C. called Sudan Sunrise. Sudan Sunrise is a nonprofit organization that works with people of diverse religious and tribal backgrounds to facilitate peaceful reconciliation, education, and community building in South Sudan.

In November, Heather Flor, the director of advancement at Sudan Sunrise, met with our book club. Heather provided the background and history about the current humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, showing us pictures and videos from her recent trip to the country, and presented us with a variety of active projects we could support.

We decided to focus our fundraising efforts on providing free school lunches and shipping donated textbooks to South Sudanese students. A mere eight cents could purchase a student lunch, and one dollar could ship a textbook. We called our group “Feed and Read Sudan,” and we got to work.

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The “Feed and Read Sudan” group raised funds for the Manute Bol Primary School in Turalei, South Sudan./Credit: Sudan Sunrise

Over the next few months, my sixth graders worked to create a blog “Feed and Read for Sudan,” a Facebook page, and a “Feed and Read for Sudan”-dedicated Gmail account. They used computer literacy skills, like using Microsoft Office tools, in order to publish flyers and posters to promote the fundraising project. They built a secure lockbox to collect cash donations and worked with Sudan Sunrise to set up an online donation form. We worked with Sudan Sunrise to create an online presentation using to raise awareness amongst their classmates about the past and ongoing crisis in Sudan and educate them on the types of library materials and resources available to help broaden their global awareness.  The “Feed and Read Sudan” group and Sudan Sunrise co-presented the online presentation to other sixth grade students during their study hall period.

Meanwhile, conditions in South Sudan deteriorated when a conflict between the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar resulted in violence, chaos, internal displacement, and widespread hunger in December 2013.

As the conflict situation unfolded across the ocean, we, at Seneca Ridge Middle School, were all reminded of the need to spread awareness and help ease the suffering of the South Sudanese people.

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A student from the Manute Bol Primary School in Turalei, South Sudan./Credit: Sudan Sunrise

In late February, Heather contacted me to let me know that Sudan Sunrise was hosting Jacob Atem, a former-Lost Boy and Sudanese-American leader and founder of the Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization. Jacob was traveling to Northern Virginia to lobby for U.S. aid for South Sudan in front of Congress. He was arriving in less than two weeks, and Heather wanted to see if there would be an opportunity for him to speak at our school.

We immediately reserved the school auditorium for a free community discussion led by “Feed and Read” featuring Jacob. The school administrators and our Parent Teacher Organization got behind the project, and we opened the event up to the entire school district. We advertised through our school newsletter and website. Sudan Sunrise lent their help by sending out a press release using their newsletter, Facebook page, and Twitter. Local newspapers promoted the event.

The event in early March of this year was incredible.  Hundreds of community members filled the auditorium to listen to Jacob present his inspiring story of overcoming the odds. Our “Feed and Read” group led a question and answer session in front of the crowd.

As a result of this event and fundraising efforts, “Feed and Read Sudan” raised over $1,200.00—or the equivalent of 15,000 student meals—for Sudan Sunrise. As a bonus, on April 1 our students competed in the Step Up Loudoun competition and won the award for “Biggest Global Impact.”

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The “Feed and Read Sudan” group participated in a local competition for good works and took home prize for “Biggest Global Impact.”/Credit: Eileen Chesnakas

The effort put forth by my students involved in this project is testament to how school libraries and librarians can help today’s students become active participants in our global society and how librarians can create their own local “Feed and Read” groups connecting students to global literature and doing good works in the world. As librarians, we have the unique positioning and opportunity to teach students how to use 21st-century skills to make a difference. School libraries are places where young people can become global leaders, and make positive contributions to the world.


For more information about the Manute Bol primary school that was featured in “Feed and Read Sudan’s” efforts, watch this Youtube video for a highlight of the school’s accomplishments in 2013.

Lauren McBride is a school librarian at Seneca Ridge Middle School in Sterling, Virginia of the Loudoun County Public School District. She has an MSLIS from the Pratt Institute (NY) and is a certified and licensed library media specialist

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SLJ Columnist Pat Scales Addresses Censorship Concerns in Libraries Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:00:03 +0000 SLJ columnist Pat Scales responds to a range of censorship issues from librarians around the country. ]]> ScalesOnCensr Scales Web SLJ Columnist Pat Scales Addresses Censorship Concerns in Libraries

SLJ columnist Pat Scales

I’m a collection development librarian for a very large public library. It’s our job to order books for the entire system. One of the bookmobile librarians is extremely conservative and doesn’t want us to send the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (Abrams) or “Captain Underpants” (Scholastic) series to her bookmobile. She says she’s read that these books have been banned in some libraries, and she can’t defend them. Circulation data reveals the popularity of these books, but we can’t seem to convince her.
The first thing this librarian needs to understand is that the bookmobile doesn’t belong to her. It belongs to the public, including children. These are extremely popular books among young readers, and the readers need access to the books, whether in the children’s room of the main library or on the shelves of a bookmobile. It’s true that these series have been challenged, but they also have been successfully defended. Present the situation to the library director. It may be time to review the library’s collection development and circulation policies. I hope these policies include a procedure for dealing with challenged materials. The bookmobile librarian must understand that it’s not her job to judge what patrons are reading, and she mustn’t let her personal views affect her professional services. She may need reassurance that she won’t have to face challenges alone.

I work in a private K–12 girls school that serves an international population. I recently recommended Little Women to a sixth grader. The girl did an oral book report on the novel in class. The teacher, who isn’t Christian, complained to me because she didn’t like the Christmas scene in the book. I was left speechless. How do I respond?

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The story is about the March family, and they just happen to celebrate Christmas. This doesn’t mean that everyone who reads the book is Christian. Ask the teacher how she would feel if a student reported on a book set during Rosh Hashanah or Ramadan. I would hope she’d engage students in conversation about religious or secular observances in their families. This seems especially appropriate for a school that serves an international population. You aren’t promoting Christianity by recommending Little Women. Neither is a reader by reporting on it.

I’m a librarian in a high school with a student body of 2,500. Many of our girls belong to sororities. The school doesn’t sanction these organizations, and some of the behaviors generated by rush create issues at school. Last fall, the girls had a contest to see who could lose the most weight. This prompted uproar among parents, and they have requested that we ban books that deal with eating disorders in the library. One of the books they specifically wanted removed is Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls (Viking, 2009).
I can’t think of a book that promotes eating disorders, but I can think of many that ask teens to think about the health risks. One of those books is Wintergirls, and I wish the sorority girls would take the time to read it. Do not remove any book from the library just because parents have requested it. Tell them they can file a formal challenge, and then let the process work. Speak with the school administration and counselor, and suggest that the school sponsor a series of eating disorder workshops for parents and their daughters. There are health professionals who’d volunteer their time to work with the groups. Perhaps you could lead a mother-daughter book club and focus on books that deal with eating disorders. Let the parents know that some of the most important books are ones that give pause. These proactive measures may save the books and the girls.

I’m on a committee to select summer reading novels for middle school readers. Some on the committee want all students to read the same book. I would like to offer choices. How do I make my case?
There are many different thoughts about summer reading. It makes sense for middle school students to have choices to promote reading. There is also an access issue, unless the school intends to purchase the summer reading choice for every student.

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Down with the Dinos | Touch and Go Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:39:46 +0000 With brief texts offering a touch of drama and some basic facts, Oceanhouse Media’s “Smithsonian Prehistoric Pals” series, based on the books by Dawn Bentley, have found an audience with young children. Fans of the series will be familiar with Triceratops Gets Lost and It’s Tyrannosaurus Rex!. The developer has recently released A Busy Day for Stegosaurus and Pteranodon Soars; both of those productions are reviewed below.

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Interior screen from ‘A Busy Day for Stegosaurus’ (OM) Carr

From the moment she awakens until she settles down to sleep, it’s A Busy Day for Stegosaurus ($2.99; PreS-Gr 2). The story, based on the book by Dawn Bentley (Soundprints, 2003), begins as this Jurassic creature leaves her egg-filled nest at dawn in search of food. The slow-moving dinosaur encounters other animals, both friendly and predatory (there’s a fight with an allosaurus, but the spikes on Stegosaurus’s tail and the bony plates along her back protect her). As the day progresses, viewers learn about the diet, habits, and habitat of these mighty creatures. Returning to her nest later in the day, Stegosaurus discovers her eggs have hatched.

The story is clearly narrated by Al Gates and each word is highlighted as it is read. If they choose,  children can read the story on their own, or record a narration. A simple swipe turns pages, and a tap on a picture will bring forth voiced labels; a double tap to a paragraph will cause it to replay. Individual pages can be selected from the on-screen menu. Karen Carr’s art depicts lush landscapes and offers some few close-up images and dramatic perspectives. Background sound effects such as animal calls and cries enhance the story, but there is little animation besides panning and zooming on the pages. A straightforward production with limited interactivity for young dinosaur fans.—MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NY

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Interior screen from ‘Pteranodon Soars’ (OM) Carr

Less story than vignette, Pteranodon Soars (Oceanhouse Media, $2.99; PreS-Gr 2), based on Dawn Bentley’s book of the same title (Soundprints, 2004), follows a female of the species as she takes flight, dives for fish, eats, easily evades a mosasaur (“her enemy”) lurking in the water, dives again, and carries food to her hatchlings on a cliff side nest. Following the 12 pages of scenes are three short paragraphs of pteranodon facts (fewer than in a strong encyclopedia entry). The sole interactive features are language-based: tap any word to see it highlighted and hear it read; tap a portion of the illustration to see its label and hear it voiced (“water,” “prey”). Additional enhancements are atmospheric sound effects—surf, wings, cries, splashing—and gentle pans and zooms (app, not user, controlled).

The home screen offers “Read To Me” (Al Gates reads; user turns pages); “Auto Play” (narration plus automatic page turns); and “Read Myself” options. Carr’s illustrations are gorgeous; Bentley’s sentences are simple, clear, and fairly short. One quirk is the obscure placement of the settings. Absent from the home screen, they’re tucked under an arrow (then the familiar gear) icon once you enter the app. From the settings, viewers can mute sound effects, select pages, and record an apparently limitless number of narrations. Each can be named separately and emailed for sharing—a great feature for classrooms or reading instruction. Pteranodon Soars is most suited to those settings or situations; it’s not as strong a choice for fact-hungry dinosaur enthusiasts looking to be immersed or dazzled.—Emily Lloyd, Hennepin County Library, Eden Prairie, MN

For additional app reviews, visit the Touch and Go webpage.

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“Americans Who Read More Electronically Read More,” reports Harris Poll Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:05:51 +0000 From the Findings/Summary:

With the additional options of reading on your computer or your phone, these days it seems as though just about the only thing standing between Americans and a good read is setting aside the time. Americans seem to be embracing their broader options, as the majority (54%) currently read e-books, including two-thirds of Millennials (66%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,234 adults surveyed online between March 12 and 17, 2014.

The Number of Books We Read

When asked to consider any format – not just hardcovers and paperbacks, but electronic formats as well – a strong majority of Americans (84%) say they read at least one book in an average year, with over a third (36%) saying they read more than ten.

On average, Americans report reading roughly 17 books per year. Looking at demographics, Baby Boomers and Matures (whose readerships average roughly 19 and 25 books per year, respectively) both read more in a typical year than Millennials (13). Women, meanwhile, (23) read twice as many books as men (11).

Two-thirds of Americans (65%) purchased at least one book in the past year, with one in ten (9%) purchasing over 20 and an average of over 8 books purchased. Women also purchased more books in the last year, on average, than men (10 vs. 7, respectively).

Format and the Number of Books Read

Those who read either more or exclusively in the e-book format are more likely to read over 20 books in an average year (30%) than either those who read more/only in hard copy (18%) or those who read in both formats equally (21%). They also report a higher average readership per year than either hard copy hardliners or equal-opportunity readers (22.5 books vs. 16 and 15, respectively).

Looking at the number of books purchased in the past year, with a reported average of 14 books, those favoring e-books purchased roughly twice as many as those preferring hard copies, who purchased an average of less than seven.

Print: The Most Popular Format (By Far)

However, in terms of overall users, the hard copy format is still king. Nearly half of Americans (46%) say they only read hard copy books, with an additional 16% saying they read more hard copy books than e-books. Seventeen percent (17%) read about the same number of hard copy and e-format books, while 15% read more and 6% read exclusively in the electronic format.

About half of Americans (51%) say they read the same amount in the past six months as they did before, while nearly a quarter (23%) read less in the past six months and fewer than two in ten (17%) read more. Younger Americans often get blamed for declining readership nationally, but Millennials (21%) were more likely than their elders (14% Gen Xers; 15% Baby Boomers and Matures) to have read more in the past six months.

Further reinforcing the interplay between reading format and overall readership, those who read either more or exclusively e-books are more likely to indicate reading more over the past six months (29%) than those preferring hard copies (13%) or those who reading both formats equally (16%).

The full text report summary is accessible here (4 pages; PDF). It includes methodology and four tables:

1. Books Read In A Year (Any Format): By Generation, Gender & Preferred Format

2. Books Purchased In The Past Year: By Generation, Gender & Preferred Format

3. Readership – Hard Copy Vs. Electronically: By Generation, Gender & Children in Household

4. Reading More/less In Past 6 Months: By Generation, Gender & Preferred Format

Similar Research

See Also: Pew Internet Releases New Report: “E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps” (January 16, 2014)

The percentage of adults who read an e-book in the past year has risen to 28%, up from 23% at the end of 2012.

At the same time, about seven in ten Americans reported reading a book in print, up four percentage points after a slight dip in 2012, and 14% of adults listened to an audiobook.

[Our emphasis]  Though e-books are rising in popularity, print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits.

Most people who read e-books also read print books, and just 4% of readers are “e-book only.

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Playground Lessons: What Kids Learn at Recess | Focus On Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:00:43 +0000 SLJ140401w FT FO KidsCliming Playground Lessons: What Kids Learn at Recess | Focus On

More in this article:

For Teachers and Students

At its simplest, the playground is where kids can kick at the clouds from the swings, but at its most complicated, it’s a microcosm of the real world, with similar stresses and question marks. Children learn to conduct transactions and navigate relationships with others as they process insights into their own personalities. It can be fun, but it can be scary, sad, and frustrating, too. Surrounded by laughing and chattering playmates, kids may also feel lonely as these new aspects of life loom large. What are caregivers to do? Sharing similar childhood experiences helps, but when young eyes roll at the sound of “Well, when I was your age…,” the voices of peers, as represented in the titles listed here, can make an even greater impact.

These selections are a natural fit for a variety of Common Core State Standards, calling on readers and listeners to contemplate the central message, make connections between images and text, and participate in group discussions of the text. While these “technical” skills are important academically, they can prove personally useful as kids glean information that’s meaningful outside (pun intended) of the books. They’ll see themselves in the photographs, artwork, quotes, and stories. They’ll find solid suggestions for handling anger and bullies, making friends, and learning patience. They’ll learn about celebrating themselves; the rewards of cooperation, sharing, and kindness; the need for following rules; and the value of honesty. Life on the playground means not only the occasional skinned knee but bruised feelings, too. The following resources can soothe emotional wounds and help kids get back to the joy of kicking at those clouds.

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Making Friends

BECKER, Bonny. A Bedtime for Bear. illus. by Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick. 2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763641016.

PreS-K–Bear is ready for sleep, but Mouse won’t settle down. After Bear’s annoyance reaches a noisy crescendo, the little guest finishes his bedtime routine, and all is quiet—for a bit. Charming artwork makes this unlikely pair all the more endearing, and the humorous tale illustrates that true friendship takes patience and gives love in return.

JOOSSE, Barbara. Friends (Mostly). illus. by Tomaso Milian. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780060882211.

PreS-Gr 2–With fun details and silly words like “gruffly” and “zurly,” Joosse chronicles the ups and downs of friendship, demonstrating that being pals is not always smooth sailing. Joyful artwork fills the pages with energy and color, adding to a cheerful and honest look at the very next relationships after family that kids will learn to navigate.

KELLY, Mij. Friendly Day. illus. by Charles Fuge. Barron’s. 2013. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781438003450.

PreS-Gr 2–Mouse tells Cat that today is Friendly Day, so the feline cannot eat him. Cat spreads the news, and animals everywhere commit hilariously random acts of kindness. Bear reveals it was a ploy by Mouse, but suggests Friendly Day can still happen. Kids will laugh at the delightful rhymes and artwork and may be inspired to start their own Friendly Day.

PACE, Anne Marie. Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover. illus. by LeUyen Pham. Hyperion/Disney. 2013. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9781423175704.

K-Gr 2 –Tucked in amid the fun of a sleepover is a nice message about friendship and reassuring a buddy who is feeling uncertain about things, which, in this case, involves eating tentacle soup and playing with a mummy. The delightfully creepy context and comically detailed illustrations drive home the idea of enjoying all kinds of friends.

WILLEMS, Mo. Leonardo, the Terrible Monster. illus. by author. Hyperion/Disney. 2005. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780786852949.

PreS-Gr 2–To prove that he really is a terrible—as in scary, not inept—monster, Leonardo finds a victim in pitiful little Sam. Leonardo takes credit for Sam’s tears, but when the boy unloads his issues, the monster realizes he has a higher purpose. With his trademark minimalist humor in words and art, Willems delivers a satisfying message about friendship. Audio and video versions available from Weston Woods.

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Celebrating Uniqueness

BURSTEIN, John. Can We Get Along?: Dealing with Differences. (Slim Goodbody’s Life Skills 101 Series). Crabtree. 2009. lib. ed. $26.60. ISBN 9780778747888; pap. $8.95. ISBN 9780778748045.

Gr 2-5–Before recommending strategies to resolve conflict, the author highlights interesting examples of the very differences (religious, cultural, physical, etc.) that may cause it. Nearly every spread contains a reflective feature challenging kids to more closely examine their viewpoints. A positive, useful tool illustrated with color photos and drawings.

SHANNON, George. Turkey Tot. illus. by Jennifer K. Mann. Holiday House. 2013. RTE $16.95. ISBN 9780823423798.

PreS-K–Turkey Tot is a resourceful, hopeful fellow who refuses to let farmyard naysayers get him down. When he conceives an out-of-the-box idea for gathering plump berries, Hen’s observation that Turkey Tot “has been different since the day he was hatched” morphs from criticism to compliment. Watercolor, pencil, and digital collage illustrations pop against ample white space.

SPINELLI, Eileen. When No One Is Watching. illus. by David A. Johnson. Eerdmans. 2013. Tr $16. ISBN 9780802853035.

PreS-Gr 2–An introverted little girl bubbles over with spirit and imagination, but she keeps her joyful bursts of energy to herself and her best friend for now. Spinelli’s endearing protagonist encourages shy children to celebrate who and where they are right now in life. Johnson’s illustrations, rendered in earthy shades, fill the pages with likable faces and activity.

YERKES, Jennifer. A Funny Little Bird. illus. by author. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 97814022 80139.

PreS-Gr 1–An invisible bird, tired of being ignored, takes measures that get him noticed but by the wrong kind of critter: a fox. When the bird is himself, however, he can hide his small friends from predators, and he realizes he should be proud of this quality. The minimal, jewel-toned artwork against abundant white space packs a wonderful punch.

Dealing with Bullies

LUDWIG, Trudy. Confessions of a Former Bully. illus. by Beth Adams. Tricycle. 2010. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781582463094; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780307931139.

Gr 3-5–In trouble for bullying, Katie must make amends for the pain she has caused. She decides to turn her journal into a book to educate others about bullying. Written in a tween’s voice and illustrated with cartoon drawings, Katie’s musings about both sides of the problem will engage and educate the target audience.

MULLARKEY, Lisa. TJ Zaps the Smackdown: Stopping a Physical Bully. illus. by Gary LaCoste. (TJ Trapper, Bully Zapper Series: Bk. 6). ABDO/Magic Wagon. 2013. lib. ed. $27.07. ISBN 9781616419103.

Gr 2-4 –Kids will find themselves—and good information—in this honest, accurate take on the multiple impacts of bullying. TJ helps Ethan contend with Niko, a cruel boy on their basketball team. The story addresses verbal and physical bullying, as well as the solutions to stop it, but the message is never preachy or heavy-handed.

O’NEILL, Alexis. The Recess Queen. illus. by Laura Huliska-Beith. Scholastic. 2002. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780439206372.

K-Gr 2–Playground bully Mean Jean meets her match in Katie Sue, the spunky new kid. First unaware of and then undeterred by the Recess Queen’s tyrannical rule, Katie Sue uses joy, confidence, and grace to change recess for the better. Readers will soak up O’Neill’s fun writing, Huliska-Beith’s rollicking, bold artwork, and the great message about courage and second chances.

WISHINSKY, Frieda. A Noodle Up Your Nose. illus. by Louise-Andrée Laliberté. (Orca Echoes Series). Orca. 2004. pap. $6.95. ISBN 9781551432946.

Gr 1-3–Kate must invite her entire class to her birthday party, including Violet, who tries to ruin the festivities after a misunderstanding. A truce appears possible, but Violet resorts to her bullying ways, and Kate is certain her party is doomed. Simple but expressive pencil sketches dot the text, and kids will identify with the characters.

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Learning to Share

BERGER, Samantha. Martha Doesn’t Share! illus. by Bruce Whatley. Little, Brown. 2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316073677; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316186735.

PreS-K–Martha, an expressive little otter, refuses to share anything with her younger brother, but in time, she realizes toys and treats don’t mean much if there’s no one with whom to enjoy them. Berger reveals the rewards of savoring the good stuff with family and friends in this sweet, simple story complemented by Whatley’s soft watercolor palette.

GRAVES, Sue. Not Fair, Won’t Share. illus. by Desideria Guicciardini. (Our Emotions and Behavior Series). Free Spirit. 2011. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781575423753.

PreS-K–Like a rock tossed in a pond, Nora’s refusal to share has a ripple effect; waves of anger wash over classmates and the teacher, bringing a fun activity to a halt. Everyone takes a time-out and eventually comes back together to apologize and move forward. Colorful cartoon drawings portray the full representation of hurting and healing.

GRIMES, Nikki. Almost Zero. illus. by R. Gregory Christie. (A Dyamonde Daniel Book Series). Putnam. 2010. Tr $10.99. ISBN 9780399251771; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781101657171.

Gr 3-5–Dyamonde pushes too hard for a new pair of sneakers, so her mom shows her the difference between wants and needs by emptying her closet. When a classmate’s family loses everything in a fire, Dyamonde chooses to share much of her wardrobe and discovers that giving to others beats getting new high-tops. Bold, thick line drawings punctuate the text.

LESTER, Helen. All for Me and None for All. illus. by Lynn Munsinger. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2012. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780547688343.

K-Gr 2–Gruntly is a pig in every sense of the word. He even snips the wool and plucks the feathers off the backs of farmyard friends to fluff up his own pillows. At last, though, his greed catches up with him. Written and illustrated with delightfully wry humor, this story of learning how to share will entertain kids and adults alike.

O’CONNOR, Jane. Fancy Nancy: Too Many Tutus. illus. by Robin Preiss Glasser. (I Can Read Series). HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062083081; pap. $3.99. ISBN 9780062083074; ebk. $4.99. ISBN 9780062083098.

K-Gr 2–Nancy decides to contribute her bounty of tutus to a school swap-and-shop, but it isn’t until she lends purchase points to a classmate to help her buy a new tutu they both covet that she truly discovers that giving can be its own gift. With her trademark joie de vivre, Nancy shows just how fun sharing can be.

WILLEMS, Mo. Should I Share My Ice Cream? illus. by author. (An Elephant and Piggie Book). Hyperion/Disney. 2011. RTE $8.99. ISBN 9781423143437.

PreS-Gr 2–Elephant has a problem: to share or not to share his ice cream with Piggie. With his signature spare style that packs a comedic wallop, Willems encourages readers to laugh as they follow Elephant’s humorous, honest crisis of conscience and craving while thinking about what they would do in a similar situation.

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Being Honest

DUNGY, Tony & Lauren Dungy. The Missing Cupcake Mystery. illus. by Vanessa Brantley Newton. (Ready-to-Read Series). S. & S./Spotlight. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442454644; pap. $3.99. ISBN 978 1442454637; ebk. $3.99. ISBN 9781 442454651.

K-Gr 2–In this cheerfully illustrated beginning reader featuring a loving family, Jade’s mom agrees to buy cupcakes on the condition that they are for after dinner. Yet when it’s time for dessert, one of the sweet treats is missing. Jade confesses to eating the cupcake and learns that while disobeying is wrong, telling the truth about it is right.

GIFF, Patricia Reilly. Big Whopper. illus. by Alasdair Bright. (Zigzag Kids Series). Random. 2010. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780385746885; lib. ed. $15.99. ISBN 9780385909266; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9780553494693; ebk. $4.99. ISBN 9780375896361.

Gr 2-4–Destiny and her classmates are supposed to share a discovery, and desperate to think of something, Destiny claims the first President, “Abraham Washington,” is her ancestor. It’s a humorous fib but a fib nonetheless, and it causes her great stress. Small, appealing ink images are sprinkled throughout this gentle look at the cost of telling lies.

JONES, Christianne. Hello, Goodbye, and a Very Little Lie. illus. by Christine Battuz. (Little Boost Series). Capstone/Picture Window. 2011. lib. ed. $22.65. ISBN 9781404861671; Tr $7.95. ISBN 9781404874985.

PreS-K–Larry is quite the fibber until a little girl named Lucy calls his bluff. In dire straits, he ’fesses up and gains a friend in the process. Larry’s matter-of-fact delivery of his whoppers is hilarious. The characters are charmingly drawn, and the bright, patterned backgrounds complete the appeal.

MARTINEAU, Susan. Being Honest. illus. by Hel James. (Positive Steps Series). Smart Apple Media. 2011. lib. ed. $28.50. ISBN 9781599204895.

Gr 2-4–Cartoon kids mingle with photographed kids in bright, colorful two-page layouts featuring realistic scenarios and questions that teachers and parents can use to encourage children to explore the best ways to handle honesty-related challenges—keeping secrets, making excuses, cheating, and others. Solid nuggets of advice round out the spreads.

Patience, Rules, and Cooperation

ALBERTO, Daisy. No Rules for Rex! illus. by Jerry Smath. (Social Studies Connects Series). Kane. 2005. lib. ed. $15.95. ISBN 9781417687541; pap. $5.95. ISBN 9781575651460.

Gr 1-3–Rex has had enough of rules! His parents suggest a rules-free weekend, but Rex soon realizes life as a free-for-all is not as fun as it sounds. This selection for the just-shy-of-chapter-books crowd combines colorful, funny illustrations with an enjoyable story line and a few factoids about rules in real life to highlight the benefit of boundaries.

BARTON, Bethany. This Monster Cannot Wait! illus. by Bethany Barton. Dial. 2013. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780803737792.

PreS-K–Barton takes a funny look at learning patience through the eyes of Stewart, a snaggle-toothed, green-haired monster who is very excited about an upcoming camping trip. With help from his parents, he finally understands that good things really do come to those who wait. Kids will commiserate and laugh along with Stewart in this very amusing book.

KRULIK, Nancy. I Hate Rules! illus. by John & Wendy. (Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo Series: Bk. 5). Grosset & Dunlap. 2003. lib. ed. $13.55. ISBN 9780613602969; pap. $3.99. ISBN 9780448431000; ebk. $3.99. ISBN 9781101098622.

Gr 2-4 –Suzanne breaks a rule, but Katie gets punished for it. When a magic wind transforms the third-grader into the school principal, Katie dispenses with all rules, and mayhem ensues. The chaos is fun at first, but ultimately Katie must save Mr. Kane’s job. Cute artwork captures the characters throughout.

ROBBERECHT, Thierry. I Can’t Do Anything! tr. from French. illus. by Annick Masson. Magination. 2013. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781433813092; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781433813108.

PreS-Gr 1–It’s hard to let loose a wild imagination in a world full of rules, but the spunky protagonist recognizes there’s a time and a place for almost everything. This engaging story of a frustrated little girl is a great conversation starter about acceptable behavior—if the giggles brought on by the entertaining illustrations don’t distract.

STEINKRAUS, Kyla. Let’s Work Together. (Little World Social Skills Series). Rourke. 2012. lib. ed. $24.21. ISBN 9781618101358; pap. $7.95. ISBN 9781618102683.

Gr 1-2–From science lab partners to authors and illustrators, working together is the key to success. The range of examples demonstrating cooperation presented in this title is an effective statement about its importance in the lives of kids and adults. In addition, strategies for working together are offered in kid-friendly terms. Bright photos reinforce the text.

YOLEN, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? illus. by Mark Teague. Scholastic/Blue Sky. 2013. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780545143158.

PreS-Gr 2–Giggles will grow with each successive illustration of dinosaurs throwing tantrums in this story about getting mad, which presents a delightful opportunity to talk about appropriate responses when life isn’t going your way. After the comical spreads showing mammoth meltdowns, peaceful, helpful advice is offered: take a breath, apologize, and, best of all, give a hug.

Alyson Low is a Youth Librarian at the Fayetteville (AR) Public Library.

For Teachers:

Kids for Peace. Kids for Peace, Inc. (Accessed 2/23/14).

This is a great website for inspiring and informing efforts to bring about peace through positive participation. Project ideas, a peace pledge, and instructions for starting a local chapter empower kids to become community contributors.

For Students:

It’s My Life: Friends. Bullies. PBS Kids. (Accessed 2/23/14).

Gr 2-5 –Kid-friendly in tone, content, and organization, this informative website defines bullying and offers guidance for dealing with it. The main text is accompanied by a video game that is educational and fun. Peer quotes, additional resources for support, and suggested offline activities are also provided.

Taking Charge of Anger. KidsHealth. (Accessed 2/23/14).

Gr 2-5 –There’s much useful material here, including a discussion of triggers kids will recognize and a list of “Anger Busters,” all delivered in a supportive tone. Links to related topics, for example, “Talking About Your Feelings” and “Train Your Temper,”are provided for those needing additional resources.

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‘Red Madness’ Author Gail Jarrow on Solving a Medical Mystery | Up Close Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:00:29 +0000 Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat. She weighs in on the disease, her research process, and the scientific method.]]> SLJ1404w COL UC Jarrow Gail Red Madness Author Gail Jarrow on Solving a Medical Mystery | Up CloseA potentially fatal disease with a simple cure, pellagra menaced impoverished and vulnerable populations for centuries, causing symptoms such as a striking red rash, insanity and mental confusion, and physical weakness. The roots of pellagra eluded scientists until the early 20th century, when Joseph Goldberger, a physician and epidemiologist, found that the malady was caused by extreme nutritional deficiencies. In the meticulously researched Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat (Boyds Mills, 2014), author Gail Jarrow describes how this “medical mystery” unfolded. Jarrow spoke to SLJ about her experiences uncovering this now little-known disease, the scientific method, and her research process.

Why isn’t pellagra more well known?
Because it is a medical success story. Although pellagra struck millions of people in the first half of the 20th century, it is so rare today that it has been forgotten. I have met Southerners who heard a grandparent talk about the dreaded disease, but few American doctors today have ever seen a case.

Before 1902, American doctors either had never heard of pellagra or thought it was a disease that didn’t exist in the United States. Yet pellagra had been a scourge without a cure in Europe for hundreds of years.

How did you first hear about pellagra?
I stumbled on the subject more than a dozen years ago while researching scurvy for a magazine article. As I looked through books in the Cornell University Library stacks, I noticed one about pellagra. It caught my eye because I had met the author, a local dermatologist and professor of nutritional sciences. Her story about this forgotten disease intrigued me.

SLJ1404w COL UC RedMadness CV Red Madness Author Gail Jarrow on Solving a Medical Mystery | Up CloseWhy did Dr. Goldberger succeed in solving the mystery where so many others hadn’t been able to?
I wanted to show the importance of following the scientific method. Early researchers and doctors missed critical clues. When they analyzed the results of tests and experiments, they ignored evidence that contradicted their pet hypotheses. Their tunnel vision led them to the wrong conclusions.

Goldberger approached the mystery with an open mind and was observant enough to see the key to pellagra’s cause. But even after he proved his hypothesis, some scientists and doctors refused to believe him.

Your book is appropriately subtitled “a medical mystery.” Did you feel like a detective as you uncovered the truth?
I went back to the beginning—the first report of pellagra in the United States—and worked toward the present. I experienced the twists and turns, errors, and confusion as if I were by the side of the pellagra investigators. The deeper I dug into the past, the more secrets I learned.

You include very powerful images of those afflicted by the disease. How did you find and select these photographs?
I found most of them in old government reports and hundred-year-old books written by doctors to educate each other about the “new” disease. Red Madness also contains photographs from the South during the early 1900s.

How did you balance discussing both science and social issues?
The medicine, history, and society were intertwined. The answer to the pellagra mystery, as Goldberger realized in 1914, was wrapped up in the South’s history and in the economic and social system after the Civil War. I couldn’t tell the story without including those factors.

What surprised you?
I was shocked by the number of people who continued to die many years after Goldberger and his team discovered pellagra’s cause and publicized the ways to prevent it. Although many Southerners were so impoverished that they couldn’t afford a better diet, others simply ignored Goldberger’s advice.

This happens today, too. The medical community constantly warns us about the effect on our bodies of certain behaviors and diet choices. People ignore it, even though the evidence is everywhere.

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Philadelphia’s Free Library Gives 98,000 Library Cards to Students Without One Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:00:26 +0000 From Newsworks/WHYY:

The schools and the library have merged their databases and determined that roughly 98,000 of the school district’s 136,000 students do not yet have cards for the city’s public libraries. Based on that data merge, the library and the district will now distribute personalized library cards to every student without one.


“No matter what your age, no matter what your circumstance, there’s a card that everyone should have,” said [Philadelphia Mayor, David] Nutter as he pulled from his wallet a red and white library card, brandishing it for the cameras to see.


The Free Library has also helped eight district schools set up their own libraries, including [James G.] Blaine [Elementary School].

But like most district schools, Blaine does not staff a librarian. Principal Gianeen Powell said the school has relied on parent volunteers and City Year members to assist with student book borrowing. (Blaine is one of two district elementary schools that have been targeted for district-led renaissance turnaround. The school will stay under Powell’s leadership, but all faculty will have to reapply for their jobs.)

According to the district, only 11 of its 212 schools are currently assigned a librarian from the central office. The district counts J. R. Masterman and Central in this number; these schools had library services returned to students in September following a $205,000 donation from an anonymous benefactor.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s Proposed Budget Will Include Money For Six-Day Service at All Library Branches (March 5, 2014)

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Spring Burst: Upcoming Titles from Little Brown Fall | 2014 Preview Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:00:30 +0000 LittleBrownPreview Image1 225x300 Spring Burst: Upcoming Titles from Little Brown Fall | 2014 Preview

Little, Brown editor, Pam Gruber, with upcoming title Diamond Boy/Rocco Staino

April 1 may have been April’s Fools Day, but for the folks at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, it was all business as they presented their Fall 2014 list of titles to librarians—a list with plenty of big names. Director of School and Library Marketing Victoria Stapleton kicked off the event by highlighting Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones who has written an autobiographical picture book, Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar, coming out this September. The book is a family affair, with Richards’s daughter Theodora Richards providing the artwork.

It’s no surprise that James Patterson has a new bookKenny Wright Superhero out March 2015—a middle-grade series—will feature a black superhero and a graphic novel look with Cory Thomas contributing the illustrations. Teen favorites Paolo Bacigalupi and A. S. King both have new titles due out in October: Bacigalupi has a contemporary thriller called The Doubt Factory, while King’s Gloria O’Brien’s History of the Future is about a girl who faces the future by looking at the past. In January 2015, author Holly Black returns to her fairy tale roots with The Darkest Part of the Forest, which will feature a prince in a glass coffin.

LittleBrownPreview Image2 225x300 Spring Burst: Upcoming Titles from Little Brown Fall | 2014 Preview

Titles to be released at the Little, Brown preview on April 1./Rocco Staino

Previews are educational as well as being informative, and this upcoming November will be ripe with book releasesEditor Alvina Ling shed light on the walled section of Hong Kong called Kowloon, the setting for Ryan Graudin’s The Walled City which was described with a newly coined term “histopian” (or a combination of historical and dystopian fiction). Editor Kate Sullivan warned librarians never to board a pirate ship that pulls into an Arizona parking lot, as the characters in The Map to Everywhere did, written by husband and wife team Carrie Ryan and John. Editor Connie Hsu shed light on some lesser-known figures of the Civil War—including female spies and other “bad asses”—as she took viewers through Ben Thompson’s Guts & Glory: The American Civil War. Similarly, Jared Chapman’s picture book Pirate, Viking & Scientist illustrated that using the scientific method can be a great formula for friendship.

Editor Pam Gruber took us around the world with her array of new titles. South Africa was our first stop, with Michael Williams’ Diamond Boy. Set in the blood diamond fields of Africa, the work is a companion novel to his Now Is the Time for Running (2011). Next we took a look at the Australian outback, with Wildlife (September, 2014) by Fiona Wood, a story of friendship told in alternating points of view. Meanwhile, Andrea Davis Pinkney’s novel in verse, The Red Pencil (September, 2014), illustrated by Shane Evans, tells the story of a Sudanese girl who reclaims her voice through art.

If you are looking for a middle grade cross between the television show Lost and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, then check out Pseudonymous Bosch’s Bad Magic (September, 2014). Or if a cross between the films The Goonies and Holes is more your thing, If You Find This (March, 2015) —the debut-middle grade novel by Mathew Baker about three misfits that includes musical dynamics—should be added to your list. (Kudos must go to Baker who will be donating his royalties to school music programs.)

Some interesting authors were present at the event, such as Josh Sundquist, a paralympian and motivational speaker who’d lost his leg at the age of nine to bone cancer. Sundquist has written a memoir entitled We Should Hang Out Sometime, out in January 2015, which describes his awkward love life. (A quick look at his YouTube channel makes it clear that this will be an enjoyable read.)

My favorite title of the afternoon was Kat Yeh’s The Truth About Twinkie Pie (due next February), a touching book about food and family that includes some recipes—and may cause a Twinkie revival.

DanSantat 400pix 196x300 Spring Burst: Upcoming Titles from Little Brown Fall | 2014 Preview

Picture book author Dan Santnat addressed the crowd at the Little, Brown Fall 2014 preview./Rocco Staino

The preview culminated with an appearance by author and illustrator Dan Santat, who spoke about Beekle, his picture book about an imaginary creature who journeys to the “real” world in search of a friend to complete him. Santat discussed the joys of fatherhood and described the book as a love letter to his young son. Attendees left smiling with an autographed copy of Beekle and a bag full of advanced readers copies.

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Lincoln@Gettysburg Examines the Role of Telegraph During Lincoln’s Presidency | DVD Pick Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:00:18 +0000 lincolnatgettysburg Lincoln@Gettysburg Examines the Role of Telegraph During Lincolns Presidency | DVD Pickstar Lincoln@Gettysburg Examines the Role of Telegraph During Lincolns Presidency | DVD PickLincoln@Gettysburg. 60 min. Dist. by PBS. 2013, released in 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781608830299.
Gr 9 Up–Narrated by David Strathairn (the actor who portrayed Secretary of State William H. Seward in Lincoln), this film offers an intriguing look at two familiar topics, the battle at Gettysburg in July 1863 and President Lincoln’s famous address a few months later. The documentary reveals Lincoln’s utilization of the telegraph for communication with his generals in the field, with the use of historical photographs, battle reenactments, and commentary from historians and writers, including Harold Holzer, Eric Foner, Jeff Shaara, and General Colin Powell. In 1863, a crucial year of war, General Robert E. Lee invaded the North, and just before meeting Union forces at Gettysburg, telegraph wires were cut and Lincoln was left waiting for news until the battle’s final day, July 4. The carnage left people stunned. As news spread, there was a call for a national cemetery at Gettysburg, and Lincoln was invited to speak at the dedication. Knowing that newspapers would cover the event and telegraph his message across the nation, Lincoln carefully crafted a 272-word document that sustained democracy and inspired hope for war-weary citizens. He resolutely believed in the words of the Declaration of Independence and in technology, in this case the telegraph, to enhance his powers of control and leadership. History classes studying the Civil War can utilize this outstanding film for a fresh look at a well-worn topic and to contemplate how Lincoln would have used Twitter or other social media.–Patricia Ann Owens, formerly at Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, Mt. Carmel, IL

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Common Core Flip-Flop: Governor Cuomo Changes Mind About Using Common Core Test Results For Teacher Evaluations Tue, 15 Apr 2014 22:26:28 +0000 Cuomo from saeba 300x199 Common Core Flip Flop: Governor Cuomo Changes Mind About Using Common Core Test Results For Teacher Evaluations

Gov. Cuomo has been criticized for his recent change of position regarding use Common Core testing to directly weigh in on teacher’s evaluations.
Photo by Saebaryo (

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, once a staunch supporter of rigorous teacher evaluations based on the results of students’s Common Core State Standards testing, questioned—in public on April 1—“whether school districts should evaluate their teachers through tough new standards known as the Common Core,” according to an April 2 web article on the New York Post.

Following his signing of the new $138 billion New York State (NYS) budget in Albany on April 1, the governor is quoted as saying:

“If you said Common Core testing was premature for students and you just halted the grades on the transcript, then what is your opinion about the impact of Common Core testing on teachers’ evaluations and what should be done? We need to address it…”

The governor has been a strong supporter of education reform, in particular reforms related to teacher’s evaluations. His recent change in heart is possibly tied to the enormous backlash of parental, teacher, administrator, and student protests following the first week of NYS Common Core statewide testing—in the English Language Arts—approximately two weeks ago.

However, a month ago—on February 16—Governor Cuomo publicly declared, along with New York State Education Commissioner John King Jr. and United Teachers Union President Richard Iannuzzi, a “groundbreaking agreement on a new statewide evaluation system that will make New York State a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement.”

ArneDuncan RalphAlswang CFAP 2 300x220 Common Core Flip Flop: Governor Cuomo Changes Mind About Using Common Core Test Results For Teacher Evaluations

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is firmly sticking with Common Core implementation and teacher evaluation reform. Photo by Ralph Alswang (

The agreement puts into policy the new statewide teacher evaluation system based on “multiple measures of performance including student achievement and rigorous classroom observations.” The agreement also  allows the state to hold onto the $700 million grant from President Obama’s Race to the Top program that requires tougher teacher evaluations with student testing taken into account. (Prior to the agreement, a lawsuit filed by the teachers union against the State Education Department had blocked the teacher evaluations, causing the state to be in peril of losing the $700 million grant.)

However, to speed the implementation of teachers evaluations reform—and keep the $700 million federal grant—Cuomo “gave the State Education Department and teachers unions 30 days to agree on a new effective teacher evaluation system, or the Governor would propose an evaluation system in the 30-day budget amendments,”  according to the governor’s NY Students First website.

With Common Core losing traction and with massive pushback following the rollout of the first week of Common Core exams, the governor is definitely reconsidering his prior position on teacher’s evaluations that tied the evaluation to student performance on Common Core exams, and with significant reason. (The results of the Common Core exams won’t be counted in student assessments for the next two years.)

“Thousands of students opted out of the statewide English Language Art exam last week,” according to an April 11 article on CBS Local.

womenonthewall 300x200 Common Core Flip Flop: Governor Cuomo Changes Mind About Using Common Core Test Results For Teacher Evaluations

Common Core has become a vehicle of political divide, not only bipartisan, but within camps.
Meme from Photo by Gage Skidmore (

Cuomo’s public reconsideration of his prior stance on teacher evaluation reform makes the NYS Education Chief John King Jr., a policy implementer of CCSS and rigorous teacher’s evaluations, an easy scapegoat. “Delegates from the state’s largest teachers union targeted King with a ‘no confidence’ vote,” the first weekend of April, according to an April 11 article from the Associated Press (AP).

(The teachers union referred to is United Teachers, the very same union whose president had declared public unity regarding the agreement over the new statewide teacher evaluation system with King and Cuomo less than a month prior to the vote.)

The AP article goes on to say:

“The delegates, from the 600,000-member New York State United Teachers, also withdrew support for Common Core standards as applied in the state and said they supported parents pulling their children from related testing.”

So far, nationwide, the numbers are stacked on Common Core’s side—along with rigorous teacher’s evaluations based on student exam performance. Forty-four states, the District of Columbia, four territories (Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have adopted the Common Core State Standards, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website.

U.S. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, is standing by Common Core and the NYS education chief, saying the latter is a “remarkable leader” at a New York University (NYU) event April 10, almost a week following the union’s anti-King vote.

At the NYU event, Duncan also said according to a Newsday article:

“Any time you challenge the status quo, any time you raise the bar, [there is] lots of pushback. Change is scary.”

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It’s an Ebook World for Young Readers 13 and Under Says PlayCollective Report Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:15:04 +0000 2boysreading eReading 300x242 It’s an Ebook World for Young Readers 13 and Under Says PlayCollective Report

According to the study by PlayCollective and Digital Book World, 92 percent of children under 13 are using their e-readers at least once a week.

The majority of students 13 and under are picking up e-readers to enjoy their favorite books—with 92 percent doing so at least once a week—says the third part of a three-part study “Exploring the E-Reading Habits of Children” released earlier this year.

The report, from the strategy group PlayCollective and the publishing online retailer Digital Book World, found that two-thirds—or 67 percent—of children under-13 are reading digital books compared to just 54 percent in 2013.

“A generation of avid child e-readers is finally among us,” say researchers of the study, who interviewed 899 parents about whether their children read digital books and built the study on the 603 who answered yes.

Ebook adoption has grown throughout libraries, schools, and at home as students gravitate to the digital media and the devices that deliver the digital media.

School libraries are diverting more of their material budgets to ebooks, eager to grow their online collections, and students are increasingly using tablets and readers for schoolwork and assigned reading.

Parents are also eager to have their students fluent in these new media skills, believing they are important to their success in school.

Although focusing primarily on digital reading behavior and tools, the study found that print remains the most popular format that parents choose when reading with their children. Students prefer print as well—at least for now. While researchers noted that parents gravitate to the printed word for a bedtime story or two, their children are leaning towards the digital format, with 40 percent preferring digital books to the 26 percent who prefer print titles.

ipadbook eReading 300x245 It’s an Ebook World for Young Readers 13 and Under Says PlayCollective Report

More than half of the parents participating in the study stated their children ask for ebook versions of the tales they already own in print form.

More than half—or 54 percent—of parents also stated that their children ask for ebook versions of the tales that they already own in print form. Researchers believe this data points to children considering the two versions as different ways to connect with the material—rather seeing it as repetitive material.

“This appears to indicate that children do now view print and ebooks as redundant, but as unique reading and companion experiences,” say researchers from the study.

As expected, tablet ownership has grown along with ebook reading, from 72 percent of families owning these devices and using them as primary digital reading platforms for their children in the fourth quarter of 2012, to 82 percent owning a tablet today. Researchers note that the growth is correlated to parents believing that ebooks increase their children’s literacy skills, their motivation to read, and bring enjoyment.

Still, there is room for improvement, even at such high adoption rates, notes the study. Parents are hungry for more delivery options, particularly subscription service plans and even additional “quality full price ebooks” over free versions or library ebook rentals. Their decisions, however, appears to lean toward whatever direction their children choose, as student demand is apparently driving ebook adoption by parents eager to feed their family’s hunger and interest.

“Finally, although parents are still the primary purchasers, they are more likely than ever to follow their children’s desires in selecting what to read,” says the report.

The full report is available online for $99 at Digital Book World.

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Q&A: Kathleen Krull on the History of Zoos Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:08:07 +0000 Kathy Krull credit Lili Gonzalez Q&A: Kathleen Krull on the History of Zoos

Author Kathleen Krull. Photo by Lili Gonzalez.

Zoos and animals have long been a huge part of our culture. In her latest picture book What’s New? The Zoo!: A Zippy History of Zoos (illustrated by Marcellus Hall), author Kathleen Krull fills readers in on the ins and outs of fascinating animal collections and menageries from ancient times to the present day.

What inspired you to tackle the topic of zoos?

It was an editor with vision, Cheryl Klein at Arthur A. Levine Books, who came to me with this topic. She thought a book on the history of zoos sounded like a lot of fun, and I agreed. We were surprised to find it hadn’t been done before. She knew of my penchant for books that require a ton of research to poke into the interesting and preferably funny intersections of history. This was what might be called a longitudinal study—looking at a narrow topic over the course of centuries—and I had just completed another one, on a very different topic, for Arthur A. Levine Books, Big Wig: A Little History of Hair.

zoos Q&A: Kathleen Krull on the History of ZoosWhat was the strangest fact you came across while researching the book?

Too many strange facts to count—from the first zoo being established in present-day Iraq to Darwin getting his evolutionary ideas while watching Jenny the orangutan to the way giraffes always seemed to make the biggest splash with audiences. But what most struck me was that zoos turned out to be a fascinating lens on world history and civilizations. After that first zoo opened in Iraq, the idea caught on in Egypt, Greece, and China. The Aztecs had such an incredible collection of animals that it took 600 men and women to care for them. After Columbus brought new species from the New World, animal collections flourished across Europe. And so on to the present day, with all sorts of zoo innovations.

There was a real sense of affection for the animals here, from their keepers and from the public.

People just love animals, perhaps because being around them is a natural stress-reliever. Different countries and different generations treat animals in different ways. I think Gandhi said it best: “The greatness of a nation…can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

zoo1 Q&A: Kathleen Krull on the History of Zoos

Illustration from What’s New? The Zoo! ©2014 by Marcellus Hall. Used with permission from Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books

What kind of research did you do for the book?

I read everything about zoos from their beginnings until now. Many of my sources were scholarly tomes from the library at the University of California-San Diego. A considerable amount of cool info and numerous great zoos didn’t make it into the book. I wouldn’t call this a definitive history but more of a “best of”—a collection of the most colorful moments.

What do you think are some of the biggest changes between the early zoos and today?

The general trend from the past to today has been toward kinder treatment of the animals in captivity and the use of zoos to protect endangered species. I think zoos will always be places where kids learn to love animals and even envision future careers working with them. Zoos are an important way that kids get inspired by nature.

What’s your favorite zoo?

I will admit I’m partial to the last zoo mentioned in this book, the justifiably world-famous zoo in San Diego, where I live now. The combination of perfect weather, gorgeous vegetation, and the kindly way the animals are mostly unenclosed makes for a lovely day. I’ve been there with family, friends, and tourists of all ages. Probably my most memorable visit was years ago, when I had the opportunity to visit it with the artists Alice and Martin Provensen—seeing the animals through the eyes of these highly visual people was a gift.

Panda Q&A: Kathleen Krull on the History of Zoos

Illustration from What’s New? The Zoo! ©2014 by Marcellus Hall. Used with permission from Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books

What do you see the zoo of the future looking like?

I’ve read some intriguing predictions, like getting to visit woolly mammoths and other long-extinct animals after their DNA has been cloned to re-create them. Also predicted are zoos constructed entirely of super-high-definition 4-D TV screens that portray animals in the wild so realistically that they will no longer need to be captured and brought in. Kids who get inspired by zoos today will doubtless find high-tech ways to improve them in the future.

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Thanks to NBA Star LeBron James, Akron Public Schools Has One of the Largest E-Libraries in Country Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:45:51 +0000 LeBronJames 300x225 Thanks to NBA Star LeBron James, Akron Public Schools Has One of the Largest E Libraries in Country

The Lebron James Family Foundation has been instrumental in creating one of the largest e-libraries in the country in the Akron (OH) School District./David Shankbone, Creative Commons

Akron Public Schools is like many public urban school districts in the country—lacking funding to achieve performance goals that need investments in technology. With Ohio’s Race to the Top goal to “reduce performance gaps by 50 percent in reading,” the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) and its Wheels for Education program, started by Akron native and Miami Heat NBA star LeBron James, has given Akron Public Schools one of the largest e-library sites in the country.

Completely online, the e-library can be accessed by any Akron student, from elementary to high school, each with his or her own log in information. On March 28, the Akron Beacon Journal reported that “The third-graders, as in every elementary building in Akron Public Schools, are patrons of the nation’s most expansive e-library… With more than 3,400 books available, teachers can expand the library by simply requesting new titles.”

Wheels for Education has committed to providing a lifetime supply of books—in addition to the $100,000 of books already donated. (The spending of the $100,000 can be broken down into both  multi-use licenses cost for each ebook and textbook purchases.)

According to LJFF executive director Michele Campbell, they will “continue to take a new class of Akron kids every year, [because] we want to concentrate our efforts on changing graduation rates in Akron.”

The e-library is possible because of a partnership between LJFF and Sebco Books, a south Florida–based national book distribution company that was “impressed with [LeBron’s] commitment to education,” according to Campbell. (Sebco is, in turn, in partnership with ABDO Publishing, a popular school and children’s book publisher for this venture.)

LJFF logo Thanks to NBA Star LeBron James, Akron Public Schools Has One of the Largest E Libraries in Country

Credit: The LeBron James Family Foundation

Danny Comer, owner and vice-president of Sebco, says his company had originally donated print books but an e-library “logistically makes more sense.” Comer explains that ABDO provides their titles and Sebco “hosts” the ebook files on their server, thus serving as the library administration for Akron Public Schools. (Comer says that Sebco and ABDO are educational, not retail, operations.) They sell their titles with a multi-user license, allowing for an unlimited number of copies of a book to be “checked out” when needed. It is a feature that comes in handy when multiple students in the same class have a project on the same topic.

The e-library is enhanced by the LJFF donation of approximately 1,300 Hewlett-Packard laptops and desktops and 700 Samsung tablets, portioned out to every school in the district. Desiree Bolden, manager of Extended Learning at Akron Public Schools, noted that the school district also pitched in and “provided Chromebooks…to all buildings.”

Bolden explains that the technology donation has an added bonus, because it does not just enhance e-library access but rather also allows access to “online assessments, curriculum, tests… everything a digital world requires.”

The decision to transition to an e-library was a logical one, because “[Akron] students are ‘digital natives.’ Technology to them is like breathing,” Bolden says and adds that classrooms are now a hybrid of “using paper, pencil, tablets open, powerpoints on desktops, tubs of paper books, all in rotation.”

Bolden says “the program is still new” but that Akron Public Schools and LJFF are “determined that [students] will have access” to whatever they need in order to succeed.  A donated e-library certainly is a large step in that direction.

Mythili Sampathkumar is a UN reporter and freelance journalist based in NYC and loves visiting old libraries and used book stores in every city she travels. Follow her on Twitter @RestlessRani.

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SLJ’s 2014 Spending Survey: Savvy Librarians Are Doing More with Less Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:25:00 +0000 SLJ's spending survey, sent to school and public libraries, found that libraries' use of digital tools, ebooks, and other resources continues to grow—while budgets do not.]]> SLJ140401w FT Spending SLJ’s 2014 Spending Survey: Savvy Librarians Are Doing More with Less

Illustrations by David Flaherty. Charts by SLJ Staff.

In an increasingly digital world, school and public libraries’ use of digital tools, ebooks, and other resources continues to grow—even as their own budgets do not.

So says the most recent spending survey from School Library Journal (SLJ), in which youth services and school library media center librarians responded to a series of questions about budget, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and digital resources, including ebooks. Librarians were vocal about where they see the need for change. The adoption of digital tools and content sat high on their must-do list, even if money to support the shift was not sufficient.

“I would like to add to my databases and ebooks, but the funding is not there for it,” says school librarian Joan Abraham from Lee Williams High School in Kingman, AZ. Abraham supplemented her small budget by getting free ebooks from a vendor, as well as making use of free databases provided by her state library.

Jessica Wismar, a library media specialist with Bethel (CT) High School, also voiced her wishes to expand an ebook collection for her students—but lacks the financial resources as well.

“A main concern is finding the funds to be able to build and maintain an ebook collection with some depth of selection,” says Wismar. “Ebooks are prohibitively expensive, and library budgets are not often increased to compensate for this expense.” The 43 percent of school libraries buying ebooks in 2012-2013 spent an average of $1,100 on them, and 34 percent expect to spend more this year, according to the survey.

Wismar and Abraham are hardly alone in looking to adopt more digital materials for their schools. Nearly half (45 percent) of school librarians say they’re purchasing more digital reference materials than they did two years ago. And almost half (47 percent) of those who responded to the survey say they’re seeing the use of digital reference materials increase.

Print reference use is on the decline, in keeping with the digital adoption, with 59 percent of those surveyed stating that the use of print reference in their school libraries is on the decline. As a result, three-quarters (79 percent) of school librarians plan to purchase fewer print references going forward, with two-thirds (66 percent) of public librarians following this path as well.

“Our biggest shift is to digital,” says Elizabeth vonTauffkirchen, children’s services coordinator at Pine River Library in Bayfield, CO. “We are spending more on digital and less on physical copies, especially in regard to books on CD.”

SLJ1404w FT Spending Chart1 SLJ’s 2014 Spending Survey: Savvy Librarians Are Doing More with Less

Source for all charts: 2014 School Library Journal and Public Library Spending Surveys

Shrinking budgets

Though the numbers reveal an increasing push toward digital materials, both school and public librarians say they have even smaller budgets than they used to. School media budgets have fallen about 0.5 percent, say survey respondents, with public library YA budgets down 1.1 percent, and their children’s materials budgets decreased by 1.4 percent.

While 85 percent of school librarians can gain access to electronic resources for free from their state, like Arizona’s Wismar, just 59 percent of states in the western and mountain regions of the U.S. have those free resources—meaning huge costs if they must pay for them on their own.

School librarians work with media budgets that average $6,970 a year—or a spending allowance of about $10.64 per student annually, according to the survey. Elementary schools budgets are lower, with just $8.86 to spend on each student, with middle schools slightly higher, spending $9.55 on overall materials per student. High school budgets, however, are significantly better padded, at $13.47 per student.

Yet school librarians are expecting those numbers to fall in the 2014-2015 school year by an average of 1.6 percent. High schools expect budgets to dip even further, by 3.4 percent. Public library YA services programs are also expecting a drop—of 1.3 percent for the coming year, with children’s materials budgets dropping 1.2 percent. But overall public library materials budgets increased by 1.8 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to a 2013 Library Journal survey. School and public librarians are feeling squeezed, with collections suffering.

“Spending? What spending? I have virtually no budget, down for the 2014-2015 school year to $1,000,” says Lila Page, library media specialist with Greene (NY) Central Schools. “The book budget was cut in half from last year, when it was a whopping $2,000. I am spending all of my funding on fiction and graphic novels for the students to read. It is impossible to do careful collection development with such a low budget.”

Lorraine Wiener says that after years of having no funds, she needs to upgrade DVDs, computers, and ebooks, as well as purchase databases. “The entire collection needs help,” says Weiner, school librarian at Inglewood (CA) High School.

“We were just starting to look at the Common Core needs when the city came into a financial mess and slashed our budget,” says Angela Pilkington, youth services librarian at the Burlington (IA) Public Library. “We will not have a book budget (except what we receive in donations) for 2014.”

SLJ1404w FT Spending Chart2 SLJ’s 2014 Spending Survey: Savvy Librarians Are Doing More with Less

The Common Core factor

School librarians are closely engaged in the rollout of the CCSS and evaluating its impact on libraries. Many respondents stated that new standards have not changed their spending patterns yet. However nearly half, or 47 percent, have spent more on nonfiction materials, compared to what they spent just two years ago, particularly at elementary schools.

“Spending shifts are taking place to address the need for more informational texts to support Common Core,” says Trisha Connolly, a librarian at the Washington Elementary School in Evanston, IL.

Diane Johnson, a librarian at Sunkist Elementary School in Port Hueneme, CA, says that the CCSS is starting to influence the books she buys as well. “When we purchase books, I have Common Core standards in mind,” she says.

Others are concerned about stretching already meager funds to purchase CCSS resources that their teachers and districts want.

“If more materials are requested, then our budget is not enough,” says Mingzhu Chen, a school librarian at City as School High School in New York City.

SLJ1404w FT Spending Chart3 SLJ’s 2014 Spending Survey: Savvy Librarians Are Doing More with Less

Using their own money

How are school librarians managing to stretch their budgets, then? Some are building partnerships with public libraries so that students can access books the school library doesn’t carry. Two-fifths of school libraries also report they’re communicating with the local public library about decisions such as book purchases to ensure they’re not doubling up on titles.

“I also have been trying to buy more books that will assist with school assignments,” says Danielle Diamond, head of teen services at Coal City (IL) Public Library District. “Many changes have been made to the school curriculum. I try to consult with teachers prior to a new school year. I check in regularly to school campuses to try to stay in touch with what the kids are doing in the classroom so I can order materials accordingly.”

School librarians are also taking their few dollars to the sales rack—literally. Some surf used book sites and remainder lists online, note upcoming public library book sales to get a first look at retired titles, and even snag display racks at stores going out of business to stretch their dollars.

Judith Rodgers, media specialist at Wayzata (MN) Central Middle School, got “two very useful rolling display racks from a Borders bookstore,” she says, and purchased wooden bookcases from an estate sale.

They’re also padding their budgets themselves. Ninety-four percent of school librarians responding to an poll reported that they’re dipping into their own pockets, using personal funds to help ends meet at their media centers.

Pam Meiser, a library information teacher with the Barbara B. Rose Elementary School LMC in South Barrington, IL, has an agreement with her public library where she can request bags of books for teachers, and arrange for them to be delivered and picked up from the school. For other materials, she just writes a check—from her own bank account.

Librarians who choose not to open their own wallets, however, are still using book fairs, one of the most popular sources for extra funds and undertaken by an average of 65 percent of schools—although just 14 percent of high schools.

“I run a Scholastic Book Fair, do Scholastic Book Club orders, take book donations, solicit funds from the parent group and the student council, and buy books at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale and at used bookstores,” says Martha Hovanec, a librarian at Pennsville (NJ) Middle School.

Among high school librarians, 37 percent rely on gifts or donations. Some schools have a parent/teacher organization like the PTA that helps bolster finances.

Navigating tight budgets is a familiar reality for both school librarians and those who work with younger patrons in the public library sector. Looking to the year ahead, they will likely have to continue drawing on their resourcefulness. Just ask school librarian Marcella Kehler of York Haven (PA) Elementary School: “I have to spend smarter and stretch further.”

About this survey

SLJ’s school and public library children’s/YA resource surveys were emailed in December 2013 and closed in January 2014, with 347 school and 421 public librarians responding. School results based on total were weighted by a breakdown of elementary, middle, and high school libraries nationwide. Public library results were weighted by population served.

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Google Reveals Email Scanning Practices in New Terms of Service Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:00:56 +0000 For some background on the email scanning issue take a look at this post from March 19th, “Google Admits to Data-Mining Student Emails.”

From Reuters:

Google updated its terms of service on Monday, informing users that their incoming and outgoing emails are automatically analyzed by software to create targeted ads.

The revisions more explicitly spell out the manner in which Google software scans users’ emails, both when messages are stored on Google’s servers and when they are in transit, a controversial practice that has been at the heart of litigation.


Google’s updated terms of service added a paragraph stating that “our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.

Review the Changes to Google’s Terms of Service

Read the Complete Reuters Article

See Also: Privacy: Google Amends Terms to Clarify that Data is Analyzed for Ads (April 3, 2014)

and in other Google/Privacy Related News…Google Tests a Way to Follow You to the Mall (WSJ via Google Cache)

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Pet Picture Books | SLJ Spotlight Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:00:24 +0000 DogVsCat 237x300 Pet Picture Books | SLJ SpotlightLuckily, it’s impossible to have too many picture books about everyone’s favorite pets. These stories are fresh and funny and the illustrations are as irresistible as our best feline and canine pals.

Adderson, Caroline. Norman, Speak! illus. by Qin Leng. 32p. Groundwood. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781554983223.

PreS-Gr 2 –A boy visits the animal shelter in hopes of finding the perfect dog, but he is overwhelmed by the multitude of choices. Finally, he asks the shelter worker which one has been there the longest, and she leads him to Norman’s cage. Out pops a short little pup with no tail. Not having a tail is no disability for Norman. Instead, he wags his whole rear end. The family falls in love with him because he’s funny and friendly and he greets them at the door with a “funny-brown-hula-stump-wiggle-wag dance.” The boy tries to teach him the simplest tricks, but the canine just cocks his head and stares at him, and he decides that Norman may not have been the smartest dog at the shelter. Then, at the park one day, they meet a Chinese man who talks to Norman, and the dog does exactly what the man tells him. Norman’s former owners were Chinese! The family sets about learning a few commands to accommodate their new pet. Throughout this lovely story, it is clear that the boy and his parents love Norman just as he is. Simple ink drawings set against ample white space make the endearing dog come alive on paper. This title will be a surefire hit with children.–Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Gall, Chris. Dog vs. Cat. illus. by Chris Gall. 32p. Little, Brown. May 2014. Tr $17. ISBN 9780316238014. LC 2013015639.

PreS-Gr 2 –Starting with illustrations on the endpapers, readers know immediately that they are in for a treat with this picture book. On the same day, Mr. Buttons returns home with a “friendly-looking dog,” while Mrs. Buttons find the perfect “smart-looking cat.” Clearly, these newcomers are not going to get along, and each one sets out to make the other leave (“Dog rubbed some party balloons on the rug and stuck them to cat. Cat popped them with sharp claws, nearly giving Dog a heart attack. Cat filled Dog’s water bowl with hairballs. Dog poured the water over Cat’s head during naptime.”). The exaggerated traits of both animals are wonderful. Small details, such as the dogs at the animal shelter holding signs saying “I’ll be your best friend” and “I want to lick you!” are a hilarious contrast to the cats in the pet store window with signs such as, “And you are?” and “I’m kind of a big deal.” The colored-pencil illustrations are remarkable, and the animals’ dialogue, expressions, and body language are priceless, as is the funny conclusion. A terrific addition to any friendship or pet storytime.–Brooke Rasche, La Crosse Public Library, WI

Gantos, Jack. Rotten Ralph’s Rotten Family. illus. by Nicole Rubel. 48p. (Rotten Ralph Rotten Readers). Farrar. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374363536.

K-Gr 2 –Ralph’s fans will welcome this new addition, though the adventure rolls out in the usual way and predictably ends with the naughty feline showing a momentary display of sweetness. In this episode, Sarah has to decline a party invitation because she can’t find a single cat sitter in town willing to spend time with Ralph. His reputation has impacted his best friend’s life, and she sends him to his room, demanding that he change his ways. Ralph waxes nostalgic about the good old days when he lived with his own cat family. But a visit to the family farm reveals relatives just as rotten as he is and reinforces the fact that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Some readers may be perplexed by the difference between Ralph’s vividly depicted childhood memories and reality. The transformation makes sense only if one assumes that the pictures in Ralph’s mind are candy-coated, and this recognition may prompt some meaningful discussions about human behavior and also serve as a lesson in inference. Rubel’s signature cartoon illustrations contain all the humor one could want in this latest chapter book about the incorrigible yet charismatic cat.–Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT

Gravett, Emily. Matilda’s Cat. illus. by Emily Gravett. 32p. S. & S. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442475274; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442475281. LC 2012049731.

PreS-Gr 1 –The day Matilda put on her cat suit and made mischief of one kind and another, her aloof and rather skittish feline just said, “No.” Despite the child’s best efforts, Matilda is unable to engage her pet in playing with wool or boxes, climbing trees, or riding bikes. After a failed tea party, drawing session, and bedtime story, the youngster takes off her cat suit and gets ready for bed and finally captures the tabby’s attention. The energetic watercolor artwork is pure Gravett, with plenty of visual jokes and with characters—girl and cat—who express their feelings with every fiber of their being. For every overly exuberant youngster who has ever attempted to win the affections of a feline, this picture book offers reassurances that the friendship bond will most like occur but perhaps not on the child’s timetable.–Luann Toth, School Library Journal\

Huneck, Stephen. Sally Goes to Heaven. illus. by Stephen Huneck. 48p. Abrams. Apr. 2014. RTE $18.95. ISBN 9781419709692. LC 2013010063.

K-Gr 2 – In this final story about Sally, the black Labrador realizes that she is too tired to eat and lies down in the sun. The next morning, she wakes up in heaven. The remainder of the story relates the cheerful activities available to her in her new surroundings. No longer feeling pain in her joints, Sally can now “pounce and bounce” with other animals and enjoy her favorite treat of ice cream. She comments on these explorations in the same simple sentence structure evident in the previous books. While this tale is not as eventful as the earlier books, fans will still appreciate the attractive folk-art woodcuts. Done in black, tan, red, and green, they enhance both the solemnity and tranquility of Sally’s afterlife. The text is again in a bold black design on a white background, usually at the bottom of the page, which will aid those children who are just learning to follow words on a page. A picture frame is included on the final endpapers—it can be easily removed for library circulation. This title can help children remember the good times in both Sally’s or their own pet’s life.–Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

Kenah, Katherine. Ferry Tail. illus. by Nicole Wong. 32p. Sleeping Bear. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781585368297. LC 2013024887.

PreS-Gr 2 –Walter enjoys being a ferry dog. Greeting passengers and posing with babies makes him feel loved, and keeping sea gulls off the deck is just plain fun. But on the day Walter notices Cupcake (the Captain’s cat) has taken his place as the chef’s bacon taster and the engineer’s entertainer, he runs off the ferry the first chance he gets. Life on land is no better, though, and when Walter discovers how difficult it is to make new friends, he realizes who he misses most and that sometimes, an adversary might become a good friend. Wong’s naturalistic drawings make it easy to sympathize with Walter and applaud for the spoiled cat as she helps him find his way home.–Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada

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No More Pink: Independent Readers with Independent Female Protagonists │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:29:16 +0000 The girls in today’s selections for independent readers aren’t exactly “sugar and spice” and put a fresh spin on the traditional depiction of girls in children’s literature. From a naughty girl-turned-spy to a best friend who sometimes makes mistakes, these strong female characters, no matter what their age, make their own choices, even when it’s scary to do so.

Violet Mackerels Possible Friend No More Pink: Independent Readers with Independent Female Protagonists │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoBRANFORD, Anna. Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend. illus. by Elanna Allen. S. & S./Atheneum. 2014. ISBN 9781442494558. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Making new friends gives Violet a few worrying concerns. Her next-door neighbor Rose has the perfect pink and white bedroom and special carpet that requires her to walk in her sock feet. At her house, they make their yogurt, wash dishes by hand, and create their own gifts. Violet is certain that Rose will not want her homemade birthday present. How will she ever find the courage to even go to the party?

A crafter herself, Anna Branford often sells her work at her local market in Melbourne, Australia. Check out her ideas or send her a message on her website. For teaching ideas about the first books in the series, visit the series website.

Fly away No More Pink: Independent Readers with Independent Female Protagonists │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoMACLACHLAN, Patricia. Fly Away. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. 2014. ISBN 9781442460089. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Lucy’s father planned to be a poet, but became a poet and a cow farmer. Her mom loves the opera. Though he doesn’t yet talk, two-year-old Teddy secretly sings to Lucy. Her sister Gracie’s high-pitched voice is perfect. Lucy is good at words, especially poetry. Unlike the rest of the family, she has no music. Nothing happens when she tries to sing, until the day her brother’s life depends on it.

If students are curious about opera, direct them to a video of Verdi’s La Traviata, complete with English subtitles. Lucy’s mama likes the music of Langhorne Slim. Watch him perform on The David Letterman Show. Curious about Dutch Belted Cows? Visit the website of the Dutch Belted Cattle Association of America. Read more about North Dakota, where Lucy’s story is set. Be sure to check out their Sky Cams to see current video in locations around the state. A video interview of the author is available on Authors Revealed. A bibliography of titles can be found on Listen to MacLachlan pronounce her name and find other resources on

Lulus mysterious mission No More Pink: Independent Readers with Independent Female Protagonists │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoVIORST, Judith. Lulu’s Mysterious Mission. illus. by Kevin Cornell. S. & S./Atheneum. 2014. ISBN  9781442497467. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

The third book in the “Lulu” series begins with the departure of her parents on an adult vacation. Lulu must stay home with the babysitter, a no-nonsense woman named Sonia Sophia Solinsky. When Lulu’s plans to thwart her warden fail, she takes a bribe to accept spy training―under the very tutelage of her enemy. Total obedience will be worth it when she earns her medal of success, the Double L.

How do you say the author’s name? Listen to her at Fans of previous releases will be delighted to see that Lulu may have a new adventure, but her all-about-me spirit is still the same.

Like Carrot Juice No More Pink: Independent Readers with Independent Female Protagonists │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoSTERNBERG, Julie. Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake. illus. by Matthew Cordell. Amulet. 2014. ISBN 9781419710339. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

It promised to be a wonderful year. Then Eleanor did a very mean thing to her best friend Pearl. She didn’t mean to do it. Life was simple before Ainsley came to town. On top of that she has a solo in the school play. Who knew that things could go wrong so quickly?

On her author website, Sternberg presents her biography by relating her life to classic children’s literature. You can read about her other books on her website as well. Follow her on Twitter. A curriculum guide is a welcome addition to the available resources. Read the illustrator’s biography on his website where you’ll find he is also an author. You can follow him on Twitter. The JLG Booktalks to Go LiveBinder includes these and additional resources.

Additional Resources

In an effort to organize these links, I have created a LiveBinder. All websites will be posted within the LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources will be added. Simply go to JLG Booktalks to Go where you will see LiveBinder main tabs. Each tab is a book title. Under each color-coded tab are gray subtabs with links to media, websites, and other related documents. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Please visit JLG’s new LiveBinder, JLG Booktalks to Go.

For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)


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Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre-Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YA Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:20:17 +0000 Dorothy Must Die to Sally Green’s witchy Half Bad and E. Lockhart’s much-anticipated We Were Liars– offer teens a plethora of attention-worthy narratives.]]> Teen readers have probably already heard buzz about E. Lockhart’s much-anticipated We Were Liars and Danielle Paige’s revisionist take on Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz. But that’s not all. The following fiction and nonfiction titles, from Justin Somper’s first foray into YA (Allies & Assassins) and Gail Jarrow’s gruesome Red Madness to Sally Green’s witchy Half Bad and Tess Sharpe’s poignant murder mystery (Far From You), offer teens a plethora of captivating and attention-worthy narratives. For more of what’s hot in YA, read on.

Armentrout Dont Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAArmentrout, Jennifer L. Don’t Look Back. 384p. Disney-Hyperion. Apr. 2014. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9781423175124; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9781423187738.

Gr 7-10–From the very first page, readers are thrust into the mind of confused amnesiac Samantha, who finds herself at the center of the mysterious disappearance of her best friend, Cassie. The protagonist was the last person known to see Cassie alive; the problem is that the teen remembers nothing of their last night together and, for that matter, nothing of her life at all. With the help of her brother and the compelling and handsome Carson Ortiz, Samantha figures out that the old Sam might be one that’s worth forgetting. Popular, powerful, and mean, she and her best frenemy Cassie had ruled the school and put down anyone in their path. The action-filled plot and the shocking revelation of the murderer’s true identity will leave fans of suspense and mystery thoroughly satisfied.–Joanna Sondheim, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City

Bassoff Deluca Lost Girl Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YABassoff, Leah & Laura DeLuca. Lost Girl Found. 216p. chron. further reading. glossary. maps. Groundwood. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781554984169; ebk. $14.95. ISBN 9781554984183.

Gr 8 Up–This poignant and gripping story follows Poni, a young girl growing up in a Sudanese village. The emotional tale depicts the challenges of Poni’s everyday life before the war. Against all odds, she must find a way to stay in school, deflect any young boy’s attention, and fight for her life to survive malaria. After her entire village is wiped out following an airstrike and her family is presumed dead, she must flee Sudan with a group of refugees to the safety of a refugee camp far away. Once she gets there, she discovers the horrors going on at the refugee camp and must escape. After she’s free, a nun in Nairobi offers her shelter, the continuing education the teen has been longing for, and, ultimately, help getting to America. This short, quickly paced narrative will stay with readers for the rest of their lives.–Candyce Pruitt-Goddard, Hartford Public Library, CT

21914coldcalls Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YABenoit, Charles. Cold Calls. 288p. Clarion. Apr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544239500; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780544239111.

Gr 7 Up–Eric, Shelly, and Fatima are three teens from different schools and backgrounds who have only one thing in common: a midnight caller who knows their secrets. Secrets the teenagers are desperate to keep hidden. So desperate in fact that they agree to do as the caller demands. The mysterious antagonist’s demands are simple: bully selected targets at their schools. When the protagonists meet at an anti-bullying class and realize what they have in common, they set out to discover just who their mutual foe is and stop their secrets from being shared before their lives are ruined. With a quick pace, this psychological thriller takes readers for a ride, providing clues to the secrets the characters are trying to hide but without disclosing all of the information until later chapters.–Heidi Grange, Summit Elementary School, Smithfield, UT

Brezenoff Guy Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YABrezenoff, Steve. Guy in Real Life. 385p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062266835. LC 2013021584.

Gr 9 Up–After some late night drinking at a heavy metal show, high school sophomore Lesh Tungsten literally runs into senior Svetlana Allegheny when her bicycle crashes into him. What begins as an accident evolves from wariness to friendship, especially after Lesh discourages an unwanted admirer of Svetlana’s. They soon discover their mutual interest in gaming—he, online, and she, role-playing—and as they navigate their differences, the teens learn that the roles they play aren’t as important as who they really are, especially when together. Whether reading it as a brief glimpse into the world of gaming and MMOs (massively multiplayer online games), a romance, or a tale of self-discovery, Brezenoff’s novel works on many levels, and its depth and humor will appeal to many readers. For fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl  (St. Martin’s, 2013), gamers, and readers in-between.–Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH

Cooper Changers Drew Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YACooper, T & Allison Glock-Cooper. Drew. 288p. (Changers Series: Bk. 1). Akashic/Black Sheep. 2014. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781617751950. LC 2013938807.

Gr 9 Up–Ethan wakes up on his first day of high school to discover that he is no longer the same person he was when he went to sleep—overnight he was transformed into a beautiful girl. His parents inform him that his father was a Changer and that this is the first of four transformations. He will experience each year of high school in a new body, and at the end of his senior year, he will get to choose which body he will live in for the rest of his life. The premise is similar to David Levithan’s Every Day (Knopf, 2012), except in this universe the character experiences each identity for an entire year. The imaginative premise is wrapped around a moving story about gender, identity, friendship, bravery, rebellion vs. conformity, and thinking outside the box. By the end of this book, readers will be invested in this character and will want to know what  Ethan’s future holds and how he will physically and emotionally transform over the next installments.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

De la Cruz Ring Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YADe la Cruz, Melissa. The Ring & the Crown. 384p. Disney-Hyperion. Apr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423157427.

Gr 9 Up–In an alternate 20th century, the world is controlled by a united Franco-British Empire and backed by a Merlin. Aelwn Myrddyn, the beautiful and powerful daughter of  Merlin, returns from exile to find that her childhood friend, Marie-Victoria, the sickly daughter of the Empire’s Queen, will be engaged to Prussia’s Prince Leopold in order to solidify a peace treaty. Isabelle of Orleans, royalty from the formerly independent France, is forced to break off her engagement to Leopold. The royal engagement has made London’s coming-of-age season all the more glamorous, and for Ronan Astor, it means a chance to marry rich and save her family’s decaying status. Bestselling author de la Cruz expertly writes from five different perspectives, allowing readers to emotionally invest in the protagonists’ lives. This character-driven novel has fabulous balls, glitzy gowns, and plenty of drama and plot twists, making it hard to put down.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

Fama Plus One Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAFama, Elizabeth. Plus One. 384p. Farrar. Apr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374360078.

Gr 9 Up–In the alternative reality of Fama’s plot-driven latest, American society has been divided into “Smudges,” people who are awake at night, and “Rays,” privileged individuals who get to live during the day. Sixteen-year-old Sol le Coeur is a factory-working Smudge who is willing to risk everything to make sure her ill grandfather holds his great granddaughter before he dies. Her plan lands her in the care of a young Ray medical apprentice, handsome D’Arcy Benoît. Sol’s mission goes awry when she accidentally kidnaps the son of the Night Minister. She and D’Arcy are thrown together on a romance-laced adventure that takes them from the caves of a nature preserve to the steam tunnels of Chicago University. With this title, it’s the breakneck-paced story, which takes place over the course of a few days, and characters such as the Noma (F-bomb-dropping, heavy-makeup wearing rebels) that will keep readers invested until the cliff-hanger ending.–Chelsey Philpot, Boston University, MA

Fantaskey Buzz Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAFantaskey, Beth. Buzz Kill. 368p. Houghton Harcourt. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547393100. LC 2013011423.

Gr 7-10–Millie Ostermeyer writes for her school newspaper, hangs out with her friends, worries about her widowed father, and wonders about the new guy at school. She’s a lot like her literary heroine, Nancy Drew. Millie and her mother would read the mysteries together, while the latter was dying of cancer, and now the books have a special meaning as the teen tries to deal with her grief. When the head football coach at her school is found dead, Millie’s detective skills kick into high gear. As Chase helps her look for clues, they soon become friends, taking tentative steps toward a romance. The narrative emulates the “Nancy Drew” series (Penguin) formula: short chapters with cliff-hangers endings. For readers who want a solid mystery with a dollop of romance.–Diana Pierce, formerly at Leander High School, TX

Flood Infinite Sky Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAFlood, C. J. Infinite Sky. 256p. S. & S./Atheneum. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481406581; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481406604. LC 2013023281.

Gr 7 Up–It’s the start of summer and 14-year-old Patrick (aka Trick) arrives with his family in their caravan and illegally camps on the edge of the paddock near Iris’s house. The boy and his family are Irish Travelers, and while 13-year-old Iris is intrigued by the visitors, her dad wants them off his land. While tensions escalate between the two families, Trick and Iris develop a secret friendship which soon blossoms into first love. Tragedy strikes—readers have been forewarned as the opening prologue features the narrator contemplating a coffin—and Iris is forced to confront the confusing intersection of love, loyalty, and culpability. Told in the first person, this is a moving story of a young English girl’s coming-of-age.–Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY

Gavin KNIGHTLEY AND SON Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAGavin, Rohan. Knightley & Son. 272p. Bloomsbury. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619631533; ebk. $11.99. ISBN 9781619631540.

Gr 7 Up–Darkus Knightley’s father has been in a coma for four years. During that time, Darkus went through his detective dad’s files and began trying to solve unfinished cases. His father suddenly wakes up and strangely enough, his recovery coincides with an uptick in crime. The crimes seem to be related to people reading a book called The Code. The elder Knightley is worried about including his son in his investigations; he is convinced that all of the little schemes and crimes are linked into a nefarious network he calls The Combination. Can they figure out the connection between all of the seemingly random crimes? Gavin has created a fun “Sherlock Holmes”–style adventure, with modern twists and a bit of humor. This is a quick and fun read; a great choice for choice looking for a new mystery to dive into.–Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ

Green Half Bad Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAGreen, Sally. Half Bad. 416p. Viking. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780670016785.

Gr 8 Up–Good witch or bad witch? This is the question that plagues 17-year-old Nathan, the product of two witches, one white, and one the infamous, hated black witch, Marcus. Readers will be intrigued by this work from the very beginning, as it opens in medias res, with Nathan living in a cage but attempting at every opportunity to escape, being submitted to beatings and ill treatment from a strange woman. Nathan’s feelings of self-loathing that grow as a result of the ostracism he experiences from those around him, coupled with a yearning to know more about Marcus, will resonate; the first-person narration expertly conveys his anguish and alienation, as well his search for a sense for identity. Some of the violence (beatings, bullying, and even torture feature here) may be off-putting to more sensitive readers, but lovers of dark fantasy should enjoy this energetic, gripping volume.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

3514toalltheboys Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAHan, Jenny. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. 368p. S. & S.  Apr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442426702; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442426726. LC 2013022311.

Gr 7-10–In this lovely, lighthearted romance, high school junior Lara Jean writes never-to-be-mailed letters to every boy she’s ever liked. The teen falls for Josh, the boy next door. The catch: he’s her older sister’s very recent ex-boyfriend. But when her letters are accidentally sent out, the protagonist is desperate to convince Josh that she’s over her crush. Peter, a popular boy at school, also received one of Lara Jean’s love letters, and—hoping to make his ex-girlfriend jealous—agrees to be her “pretend” beau. Once older sister Margot leaves for college in Scotland, Lara Jean’s interactions with Josh are more complicated. Family traditions are skillfully woven into the first-person narrative, including some from the mother’s Korean heritage. Readers will be intrigued by the narrator and Peter’s complicated relationship. Does she really love Josh, or is Peter the one for her? Readers will remember the Song sisters and the boys in their lives long after the final page turn.–Miranda Doyle, Lake Oswego School District, OR

Hawkins Rebel Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAHawkins, Rachel. Rebel Belle. 352p. Putnam. Apr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399256936.

Gr 7 Up–Harper Price is not your typical Southern belle. When the ancient powers of a Paladin are passed on to her during Homecoming, her life changes instantly. According to the legend of Charlemagne, a Paladin is a guardian charged with protecting a particular being. In Harper’s case, this being is none other than her sworn enemy, David Stark. As her new abilities grow, they threaten to ruin her relationships with her parents, her boyfriend, and her best friend. With Rebel Belle, Hawkins provides a soft place for readers of her “Hex Hall” series (Hyperion) to land. Rife with legendary beings and their accumulated lore, the novel presents a worthwhile heroine in Harper Price.–Colleen S. Banick, Westport Public Schools, CT

Haydu Life By Committee Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAHaydu, Corey Ann. Life by Committee. 304p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062294050; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062294074.

Gr 9 Up–Tabitha has hit puberty, gaining new curves, and has gotten a little boy crazy. Her best friends, feeling she has changed too radically, have dropped her cold. Searching for friendship, she stumbles onto an online community called Life by Committee that makes her feel brave and a part of something. LBC members share secrets and are given assignments by the group’s leader, tasks they say will help one grow as a person. Tabitha’s secret is that she kissed someone else’s boyfriend. Her assignment is to kiss him again. Haydu captures the wild emotions of adolescence: the surging hormones, the power of getting people to pay attention because of your body, and the confusion over how that makes you feel. The narrative includes plenty of current teen concerns: online safety, gay friends, first love and sexual experience, drugs, sibling jealousy, and school achievement pressure—all culminating in a final scene pulled straight from the movies.–Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT

Klise Art of Secrets Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAKlise, James. The Art of Secrets. 272p. Algonquin. Apr. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781616201951.

Gr 6-10–A suspicious fire, possibly a hate crime, destroys Saba Khan and her family’s apartment and possessions. The Khans rely on the generosity of their neighbors and donations from Saba’s school, a prestigious private school near downtown Chicago. Siblings Kendra and Kevin Spoon, two of the teen’s classmates, decide an auction would be a great way to raise money to help the Pakistani American family. Soon the Spoons find a unique piece of artwork for the auction, and the event becomes big news that everyone wants in on. The art goes missing, and anyone involved in the auction is a suspect. This novel is told in variety of formats, including journal entries, email, text messages, newspaper stories, and police reports. Ten different characters share their points of view, leaving readers to work out exactly what happened and who might be guilty. For fans of realistic fiction with plot twists, mysteries, and epistolary-type novels.–Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL

KWAYMULLINA  The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAKwaymullina, Ambelin. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. 384p. ebook available. Candlewick. Apr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763669881.

Gr 7 Up–This debut YA novel and series opener by indigenous Australian Kwaymullina is set in a postapocalyptic Australia where humanity’s abuse of the environment has caused a societal and environmental chaos called the Reckoning. Ashala Wolf is one of many young people who have developed strange abilities, such as causing earthquakes, manipulating clouds and the weather, and traveling through time and space in dreams. The government fears people with these abilities, who are referred to as Illegals, and rounds them up for detention in facilities rumored to host terrifying experiments. This is a creative take on some well-worn tropes of the genre: repressive government, youth with unusual powers. The world-building is particularly interesting, as the author incorporates elements of the aboriginal creation story of the Dreamtime and Grandfather Serpent into the protagonist’s visions. Give this one to dystopia fans who are looking for a unique perspective.–Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ

teaser we were liars Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YALockhart, E. We Were Liars. 240p. Delacorte. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385741262; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375989940; ebk. ISBN 9780375984402.

Gr 9 Up–Cadence Sinclair Easton comes from an old-money family, headed by a patriarch who owns a private island off of Cape Cod. Each summer, the extended family gathers at the various houses on the island, and Cadence, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and friend Gat (the four “Liars”), have been inseparable since age eight. During their 15th summer however, Cadence suffers a mysterious accident. She spends the next two years—and the course of the book—in a haze of amnesia, debilitating migraines, and painkillers, trying to piece together just what happened.  The story, while lightly touching on issues of class and race, more fully focuses on dysfunctional family drama, a heart-wrenching romance between Cadence and Gat, and, ultimately, the suspense of what happened during that fateful summer. The ending is a stunner that  will haunt readers for a long time to come.–Jenny Berggren, formerly at New York Public Library

Lucier A Death struck Year Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YALucier, Makiia. A Death-Struck Year. 288p. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544164505; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780544306707.

Gr 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Cleo Berry frets over an uncertain future devoid of plans, dreams, and ambitions. However, when the Spanish influenza strikes her hometown of Portland, Oregon, she does not hesitate to volunteer for the American Red Cross. Lucier’s vividly accurate description of the 1918 pandemic will make readers tremble over the teen’s fate, wondering whether she will be next on the list of victims. Cleo faces the ultimate dilemma: Given a choice between herself and others, who will she choose in the face of calamity? The pace of the writing is swift, and the author spares little in her account of those afflicted and others who sacrificed their own lives to help save them: loved ones and strangers burying individuals on their own without burial societies, members of the Red Cross going door-to-door in search of the sick, and young people dying as easily as their elders from the disease. In the same vein of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793 (S. & S., 2000), Lucier’s debut novel deserves a place in all high school collections.–Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY

McCahan Love and Other Foreign Words Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAMcCahan, Erin. Love and Other Foreign Words. 336p. ebook available. Dial. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803740518.

Gr 8 Up–Josie Sheridan, 15.4 years old, knows a lot about social language. With a schedule that involves both high school and college courses, she has learned to adapt her communication style in order to fit in with both groups. However, Josie can’t seem to wrap her head around the language of Love. To the precocious teen, all-consuming love is scientifically impossible. Her best friend, Stu, is the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” type, and her school friends make lists of the guys for which they could fall. When her older sister Kate gets engaged, it only furthers her misunderstanding of the matter. The protagonist finds Kate’s fiancé to be intolerable and makes it her mission to break them up. Meanwhile, Josie attempts to decode the meaning of love for herself and see just what all the fuss is about. These coming-of-age moments add a nice bit of heart to Josie’s journey. Give this to cerebral teens who want a quirky love story.–Kimberly Castle-Alberts, Hudson Library & Historical Society, OH

Maciel Tease Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAMaciel, Amanda. Tease. 336p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062305305; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062305329.

Gr 9 Up–Who is responsible when a bullied teen commits suicide? Sara and her friends find themselves embroiled in a legal nightmare after new classmate Emma hangs herself following months of their ruthless harassment. In Sara’s mind, Emma was at fault: she stole Sara’s boyfriend, so retaliation was fair game, and suicide was an unwarranted overreaction. That the story is told from a bully’s perspective adds complexity to this compelling, ripped-from-the-headlines novel. The characters are three-dimensional and nobody is completely right or wrong in this realistic exploration of how bullying-related suicide affects everyone involved. Family bonds and a tentatively blossoming romance play a vital role in Sara’s journey to self-awareness. This nuanced look at a controversial topic will keep readers hooked until its satisfying conclusion and makes great fodder for discussion among high school students.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA

always emily michaela maccoll Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAMacColl, Michaela. Always Emily. 282p. Chronicle. Apr. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452111742.

Gr 7 Up–Based on the Brontë family of writers, MacColl’s story is filled with life and death, mystery, and witty humor. The main premise involves Emily and Charlotte uncovering Branwell’s nefarious activities and exposing a local mill owner, Master Heaton. The strong-willed sisters join forces to uncover Branwell and Heaton’s secrets and to reunite a family. Charlotte and Emily are the most richly drawn characters, and their often-contentious relationship is engaging. Their personalities are balanced by the supporting characters, including their father, the house manager, and a young man Emily finds on the moor. MacColl succeeds in creating a vivid sense of place with her intricate details about Masonic rituals and the lush descriptions of the moors, Emily’s place of sanctuary. Readers will be satisfied with the ending, and their curiosities will be piqued to read more about the Brontë family.–Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY

Matson Since Youve Been Gone Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAMatson, Morgan. Since You’ve Been Gone. 464p. S. & S. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442435001; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442435025. LC 2013041617.

Gr 7 Up–Emily is bereft when her bubbly and energetic best friend, Sloane, leaves without saying goodbye at the beginning of what should have been the best summer of their lives. Sloane was the one who planned their adventures and befriended everyone they met, and Emily is feeling more than a little lost when a letter arrives from Sloane containing a list of tasks for Emily to do over the summer. Hoping that the list contains clues to Sloane’s whereabouts that will become clear as she crosses items off, Emily tackles the challenges, making new friends, overcoming her fears, and gaining confidence as the summer goes on. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book with a terrific romantic subplot and an ending that ties up the loose ends believably and satisfyingly.–Stephanie Klose, School Library Journal

Miller Free to Fall Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAMiller, Lauren. Free to Fall. 480p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062199805; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062199829.

Gr 9 Up–When Rory Vaughn, 16, gets accepted to a prestigious boarding school, she’s elated. Even Lux, her decision-making app, tells her that Theden Academy is the best way to assure her perfect future. Yet, within her first few days there, Rory finds so much more than what she’d expected on the surface, and inconsistencies about her own birth lead the teen to question her own past, present, and vision for the future. With friends and teachers who encourage her to follow the illustrious path of Theden alums, she wonders why she finds herself so drawn to the rebellious hacker North and his outsider, anti-Lux lifestyle. Engaging and thought-provoking, Free to Fall should appeal to a variety of readers with its blend of action, secrecy, and romance, and it provides excellent discussion opportunities.–Jessica Miller, West Springfield Public Library, MA

Paige Dorothy Must Die Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAPaige, Danielle. Dorothy Must Die. 464p. HarperCollins/Harper. Apr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062280671; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062280695.

Gr 9 Up–In this edgy update of Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz, Kansas teen Amy Gumm gets sucked into a complex assassination plot to dethrone the megalomaniac and magic addict Dorothy. Oz is no longer the cheerful Technicolor world made popular by the Judy Garland–starring film, and it has been drained of its fairy-tale glimmer by the red shoe–wearing despot and her crew of twisted friends. Roles are reversed as good and evil witches band together in the revolutionary group of the Wicked to train Amy to kill Dorothy. Debut author Paige doesn’t hold back in this fast-paced action novel, and the body count mounts as the tale progresses. Teens will identify with the heroine’s insecurities and feelings of abandonment caused by her parents’ divorce and her mother’s subsequent drug abuse. Plot twists will keep readers guessing, and Amy’s affinity to her pet mouse Star will garner some chuckles. Give this cinematic upper-YA novel to fans of A. G. Howard’s Splintered (Abrams, 2012), Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars (Dial, 2006), and TV shows such as Once Upon a Time and Grimm.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Pakkala Jasmine and Maddie Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAPakkala, Christine. Jasmine and Maddie. 192p. Boyds Mills. Apr. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781620917398.

Gr 6-10–Jasmine has moved from New Hampshire to Clover, Connecticut, looking for a fresh start. Her father’s death from cancer filled her with a rage that culminated in a physical assault on a girl where she used to live. Now her mother is working two jobs and they live in a trailer park, which Jasmine finds humiliating. Her anger smolders. In contrast, Maddie appears to have it all—caring parents, three siblings, a beautiful home. Yet Maddie has her own issues—she harbors a one-sided sibling rivalry exacerbated by an identity crisis, and she is further humiliated when she doesn’t make the soccer team and her best friend does. Maddie and Jasmine’s Emily Dickinson project brings the two girls together. Over the course of the story, both girls act out, seek forgiveness, and then turn around to repeat the same mistakes. This is a sometimes painful story tempered with honesty, growth, and a true effort to move on in an imperfect world.–Kathy Cherniavsky, Ridgefield Library, CT

Sharpe Far From You Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YASharpe, Tess. Far from You. 352p. Disney-Hyperion. Apr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423184621; ebk. ISBN 9781423187844.

Gr 9 Up–The day Sophie is released from rehab starts the “now” of this story, which alternates with flashbacks from the past. Readers learn that the teen has had two close calls with death, the first in a crippling car crash with her friend Mina and Mina’s brother Trev. The second was when Mina was murdered in front of her in what is assumed to be a drug deal gone bad. Now that she’s free, Sophie is obsessed with finding Mina’s killer. Somehow she must overcome everyone’s belief that her relapse caused Mina’s death and enlist help in solving the crime. As readers follow Sophie’s sleuthing, they learn that Mina was more than just her best friend; she was also her first love. This romance is full of struggle and strong emotions, likely to find an appreciable YA audience.–Genevieve Feldman, San Francisco Public Library

Sitomer Caged Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YASitomer, Alan Lawrence. Caged Warrior. 224p. Disney-Hyperion. May 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781423171249; ebk. $15.99. ISBN 9781423186595.

Gr 9 Up–In run-down Detroit, 16-year-old McCutcheon Daniels’s mother has left, and his druggie, lowlife father is training him to be a champion in a mixed martial arts ring. The teen is forced to compete in these bloody and dangerous matches for the Mafialike Priests, where life and limb are at risk as his father racks up thousands in gambling dollars. McCutcheon gets a pittance in return that he uses to lovingly care for his five-year-old sister, Gemma, in a shabby apartment. Despite all his challenges, the protagonist is likable and tries to be a good guy, and when his science teacher gets him into a competitive, highly academic charter school, he knows he is at a crossroads. This fast-paced, engrossing, and intense story balances repulsive behavior, profane language, and even child prostitution with gentler moments where McCutcheon cares for Gemma and is attracted to a nice girl out of his league. Mature readers of Tap Out by Eric Devine (Running Pr., 2012) will be drawn to this book.–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

somper Allies Assassins Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YASomper, Justin. Allies & Assassins. 496p. ebook available. Little, Brown. May 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316253932. LC 2013017968.

Gr 9 Up–From the first page of this hefty volume, the Princedom of Archenfield is plunged into mystery, danger, and intrigue. Prince Anders, who has ruled the kingdom through just two peaceful years, has been found dead, and his 16-year-old brother Jared has automatically become Prince of All Archenfield. Though he is clever and kind, Jared is not prepared to assume the crown. Luckily, he has the Twelve; officers of the court whose job is to advise, teach, and protect him. But can Jared trust them? In the few days before his brother’s funeral and his own coronation, Jared and the clever young Physician’s Apprentice, Asta, investigate the mystery of Ander’s murder, keenly aware that the murderer may be targeting Jared as well. Somper keeps the mystery alive with many red herrings, surprises, and plot twists, while deftly setting up the scenario for a sequel. Fans of medieval adventure, murder mysteries, and romance will all find something to like here, and readers will eagerly await the continuation of the this engrossing saga.–MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NY

Stewart Blue Gold Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAStewart, Elizabeth. Blue Gold. 300p. further reading. websites. Annick. 2014. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781554516353; pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781554516346.

Gr 9 Up–The human price of technology is explored from the perspectives of three teen girls in this character-driven, realistic fiction novel. Set in the present, the story is told from three viewpoints. Fiona, a middle-class Canadian teen, is concerned with her popularity and self-image, especially as it relates to communication and technology devices. A split-second bad decision haunts her virtually, and she learns a big lesson in digital responsibility. Half a world away, Sylvie is a Congolese refugee living in Tanzania, where maintaining basic needs is a daily battle. Coltan, a mineral used in the technology that helps power cell phones and computers, is a resource that her people have killed and died for, and Sylvie is desperate to save her family in the wake of her father’s death. In China, Laiping works long hours in a factory assembling cell phones, enduring conditions that have caused her fellow employees to develop serious medical conditions and in extreme cases take their own lives. The writing strikes a good balance between character development and action and uses a straightforward tone to deliver the story.–Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

Venkatraman A time to dance Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAVenkatraman, Padma. A Time to Dance. 320p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399257100. LC 2013024244.

Gr 6 Up–Despite the pressure from her parents to become an engineer, Veda dreams of being a dancer. She studies the classical Indian dance, Bharatanatyam, and has reached the competition finals. Impressed with her graceful lines and skill, the judges award her first place, and Veda is ecstatic. After posing for pictures, she is injured in an accident on the way home and her leg has to be amputated below the right knee. Eventually Veda receives a prosthetic limb that allows her to walk and dance once again. Veda is placed with a student teacher, Govinda, who not only supports her as she relearns and strengthens her dancing but also becomes her friend. This exceptional novel, told entirely in verse, captures beautifully the emotions of a girl forced to deal with a number of challenges and how she overcomes them on her way to becoming a confident young woman.–Laura Fields Eason, Henry F. Moss Middle School, Bowling Green, KY

Weitz the young world Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAWeitz, Chris. The Young World. 384p. Little, Brown. July. 2014. Tr $19. ISBN 9780316226295; ebk. ISBN 9780316226271. LC 2013022285.

Gr 9 Up–A postapocalyptic novel told from the point of view of three teens in New York City who have banded together after a mysterious sickness wipes out the entire population of children and adults. The survivors are faced not only with the breakdown of society but also certain death when their hormonal levels even out. When food dwindles in the neighborhood where their tribe has hunkered down, they decide to risk a trip to the main branch of the New York Public Library to find a scientific study that may explain the origins of the sickness. In the course of their journey lives are lost, bravery tested, and childhood relationships become something more. What they eventually find is a research island where secret experiments are being fiercely guarded, but the brainiac of the group is able to trick their captors into letting him try to find a cure. Chapters written from alternating perspectives offer the chance to see how the same situations are interpreted by either the boy next door, the sweet girl with the tough exterior, or the intellectual with traits common to people with Asperger’s. The action moves quickly, and the context of a broken NYC is so compelling that readers will find it hard to put this book down.–Sunnie Lovelace, Wallingford Public Library, CT

For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings subjects as diverse as graffiti art, vernacular photography, and the live-entertainment industry.

Earl This Star Wont Go Out Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAEarl, Esther & others. This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl. 448p. Dutton. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780525426363. LC 2013035838.

Gr 7 Up–Through letters, journal entries, blog posts, stories, poems, and drawings, readers get to know the life and times of Esther Grace Earl, the young woman to whom John Green dedicated The Fault in Our Stars (Penguin, 2012). Although she died from cancer in 2010 at only 16, Esther (known affectionately as “Star” by her family) was a prolific writer, a “nerdfighter,” a “Harry Potter” enthusiast, and a deeply spiritual person. She inspired—and continues to inspire—several online communities and a dedicated Internet fan base. This unique title will be appreciated by fans of John Green and those looking for an uplifting and emotional tear-jerker.–Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

Ganter graffiti school Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAGanter, Chris. Graffiti School: A Student Guide with Teacher’s Manual. 176p. chron. diag. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Thames & Hudson. 2013. pap. $24.95. ISBN 9780500290972. LC 2012956283.

Gr 7 Up–This in-depth volume supplies readers with a lion’s share of knowledge on the often-marginalized art form of graffiti. Ganter supplies a brief background of the art form, from its historical presence in ancient Pompeii through the modern-day hip-hop movement. After defining specific graffiti terminology, Ganter examines different methods and styles. The art descriptions are nicely supplemented with clear instructions along with visual examples. Ganter notably addresses the issue of legality by outlining the parameters of where readers can practice this art form without breaking any laws. The author uses general sketches in red and black ink for the first half of the book to portray the various graffiti designs. The latter portion relies upon full-on color to illustrate the different spraying styles. Sample exercises for teachers to use in the classroom are also included. Consider purchasing for middle school and high school art classes, particularly in urban areas.–Keith Klang, Port Washington Public Library, NY

Handler Girls Standing on Lawns Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAHandler, Daniel. Girls Standing on Lawns. illus. by Maira Kalman. 64p. photos. Museum of Modern Art. May 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9780870709081.

Gr 7 Up–Vernacular photography is, as this book describes, photographs taken without artistic ambition. The people and places are long gone, but these photographs of girls standing on lawns remain. Found, anonymous, and removed from their original context, these snapshots have now been given a new life. With text by Handler and paintings by Kalman based on snapshots from collection of the Museum of Modern Art, this is a short, beautiful, and nostalgic book. The spare text ponders the matter-of-factness depicted in the snapshots and the occasional colorful paintings are as playful as the original black-and-white source material. The minimal text has the rhythm and simplicity of a children’s book, but there is a thought-provoking complexity present that will appeal to teens and adults. This title can also help to inspire creativity, as the idea of using found photographs as the basis for a narrative provides endless possibilities for young adults, teachers, and programming librarians.–Billy Parrott, New York Public Library

Jarrow Red Madness Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAJarrow, Gail. Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat. 192p. bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Boyds Mills Press/Calkins Creek. Apr. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781590787328. LC 2013953464.

Gr 6 Up–This haunting insight into a little known epidemic from the early 20th century provides statistics, firsthand accounts, pictures, and an easy-to-follow narrative of the pellagra outbreak in the United States. The book details the baffling uprise of pellagra, a life-threatening disease characterized by weakness, rash, and insanity; the medical investigation that ensued; and the eventual changes that were made in America’s diet to combat both this sickness and other maladies caused by nutritional deficiencies. This title is descriptive and well researched, with a striking bold-red color scheme. An excellent addition to nonfiction collections in school and public libraries.–Tammy Turner, Centennial High School, Frisco, TX

showtime meet people behind scenes kevin sylvester Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YASylvester, Kevin. Showtime: Meet the People Behind the Scenes. 88p. diag. illus. photos. reprods. Annick. 2013. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781554514878; pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781554514861.

Gr 6-8–Eleven individuals involved in the behind-the-scenes aspects of putting on a live show are introduced; a vocal coach, a promoter, even a long-haul trucker—all play important roles. Machiko Weston is a set designer, Hiro Miura makes instruments, and Al Domanski is a pyrotechnics expert. Each section describes the occupation, gives background information about professional, and ends by revealing the skills and education needed for the particular job. Having real people explain their work creates a personal, welcome feel. The book is colorful, with clear action shots and large type. A final chapter, “Welcome to the Show,” briefly discusses other positions, such as security guard and director of live entertainment. These jobs are more in tune with the actual performance night. This is an accessible read for teens interested in all aspects of the large-scale live-entertainment industry.–Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

And from SLJ’s Adult Books 4 Teens blog, the following titles are perfect for teens looking to cross over to adult books.

young women in 19th century america Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAKIDD, Sue Monk. The Invention of Wings. 384p. Viking. Jan. 2014. Tr $27.95. ISBN 9780670024780.

Adult/High School–In 1803, on Sarah Grimke’s 11th birthday, her parents give her Handful (a slave name Hetty), who is 10. So begins this powerful novel spanning 30 years told in alternating chapters between the two. Sarah is a member of a large Charleston family who owns 14 slaves. Throughout, theirs is a complex relationship beautifully brought to life via the dual points of view. Searching for purpose in her life, Sarah moves to Philadelphia to become a Quaker while Handful struggles with the disappearance of her beloved mother and joins forces with a free slave who is planning a revolt against the slave owners. Sarah and her sister become the first female abolition feminists, and by the late 1830s, they are the “most famous and infamous women in America.” The extensive author’s note clarifies what is fact and what is fiction. Teens who like historical fiction and family sagas will find this novel’s strong characterization, palpable tension, and beautiful writing hard to put down.–Jane Ritter. Mill Valley School District, CA

victorian violence Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YALEVINE, Daniel. Hyde. 448p. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2014. Tr $24. ISBN 9780544191181.

Adult/High School–Though The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been retold and reimagined countless times, Levine separates his novel by delving deeply into the original text and drawing out all of the hints, implications, and loose ends in the story to create an even more plausible, more energetic, and more powerful work than Stevenson’s justly classic novella. Hyde and Jekyll’s precarious double life becomes complicated when an MP named Sir Danvers Carew becomes overly interested in Jekyll’s psychological research, but the real troubles begin when Hyde realizes that there may be another personality lurking within their shared body. Levine’s novel is exquisite–layered and thematically complex while remaining true to the story’s roots as a mystery thriller. Teen readers of that genre–especially those with a Victorian bent, such as Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist (S & S, 2009)–should be enthralled. Meanwhile fans of Stevenson’s story–-which has never lacked for teen readers–will be pleasantly surprised by Levine’s ingenious take.–Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA  

archetype Beach Reads, Royal Intrigue, and Genre Bending Tales | What’s Hot in YAWATERS, M. D. Archetype. 384p. Dutton. Feb. 2014. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9780525954231.

Adult/High School–Emma wakes up in the hospital with no memories. Fortunately, her devoted husband, Declan, is by her side, helping her relearn everything, from the words for colors to the way they met. But the more she recovers, the less she believes anything he, or her doctor, tell her. If she was in such a terrible accident, where are her scars? Waters expertly lays out the puzzle pieces, keeping the answers just out of reach. Archetype has elements of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986) and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (Knopf, 2005), but the author has created a future world, and a dynamic heroine, all her own. This is the perfect fast-paced, dystopian thriller for teens ready to move into more complex fare.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City

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

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Apply by June 1 for YALSA/Dollar General Teen Read Week Grants Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:29:48 +0000 41614TRWDollarGeneral Apply by June 1 for YALSA/Dollar General Teen Read Week GrantsThe Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation are seeking innovative and literacy-focused Teen Read Week™ programming proposals. Each of the 10 winning libraries will receive a $1,000 grant to incorporate into this year’s Teen Read Week (October 12-18), which will be centered around the theme, “Turn Dreams into Reality”.

41614TRW14 Apply by June 1 for YALSA/Dollar General Teen Read Week GrantsYALSA is encouraging libraries to submit innovative proposals that are directed toward underserved teen populations, including but not limited to, teens with disabilities and teens who speak English as a second language. There are a few eligibility requirements, including YALSA membership; for complete rules and to submit an application, visit the Teen Read Week Grants site. Proposals are due by June 1.

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Sue Townsend, Author of the ‘Original Bridget Jones’ Series, Passes Away at 68 Mon, 14 Apr 2014 18:23:32 +0000 425906911 e37fe24225 m Sue Townsend, Author of the Original Bridget Jones Series, Passes Away at 68

Sue Townsend was the creator of the British book character, Adrian Mole, sometimes referred to as the “original Bridget Jones.”

Sue Townsend, author of the wildly popular “Adrian Mole” book series, died April 10 in Leicester, England after a stroke. She was 68-years-old.

Townsend’s “Adrian Mole” series, which began in 1982 with the publication of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 (Avon), followed─in journal-entry form─the travails of a self-indulgent, Bridget Jones–esque adolescent. Townsend continued with the series as Mole matured into adulthood, with books such as The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (Harper Collins, 2003), The True Confessions of Adrian Mole (Penguin, 2003), and Adrian Mole: The Prostate Years (Michael Joseph, 2009). Though many of the novels focus on Adrian’s fairly commonplace concerns—a crush on a fellow classmate, the desire to become a published authors—social and political satire were also big themes with early works taking aim at England under Margaret Thatcher’s rule and later ones taking a satirical look at the Gulf War or unemployment. The books were in high demand, and of Adrian Mole: The Cappacuino Years (Soho, 2000), School Library Journal said, “Townsend’s lively prose sparkles, giving life to the myriad trivial events of Adrian’s day.”

13783702184 97fc6c39ef z 600x400 Sue Townsend, Author of the Original Bridget Jones Series, Passes Away at 68

Sue Townsend leaves behind a legacy of popular books.

Born in 1946 in Leicester, Townsend left school as a teenager and married at age 18. A single parent at 23, she held a number of factory and shop jobs but wrote extensively on her own for almost twenty years before joining a writers group at age 35. Townsend’s first play was Womberang, for which she garnered the Thames Television Playwright Award. Her other works for the theater include The Great Celestial Cow, Ten Tiny Fingers, Nine Tiny Toes, and The Queen and I, in which the British monarchy was abolished, forcing Charles, Diana, and Queen Elizabeth Ito live among commoners. Many of her works used humor and satire to shed light on significant social issues.

Townsend suffered from diabetes and later became blind and needed the use of a wheelchair. She is survived by her husband and four children.

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