School Library Journal http://www.slj.com The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Thu, 25 Aug 2016 13:04:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.9 The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter | SLJ Audio Review http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/multimedia/the-first-time-she-drowned-by-kerry-kletter-slj-audio-review/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/multimedia/the-first-time-she-drowned-by-kerry-kletter-slj-audio-review/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=189519 Kletter, Kerry. The First Time She Drowned. 8 CDs. 10:19 hrs. Listening Library. Mar. 2016. $50. ISBN 9780399567933. digital download. 

Gr 9 Up –Eighteen-year-old Cassie is facing the world for the first time since checking herself out of the mental institution where she has spent two and a half years. She agrees to attend her mother’s alma mater and try to make a fresh start, but illness and the pressures of social engagement prove too much for her, [...]]]> redstarKletter, Kerry. The First Time She Drowned. 8 CDs. 10:19 hrs. Listening Library. Mar. 2016. $50. ISBN 9780399567933. digital download. The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

Gr 9 Up –Eighteen-year-old Cassie is facing the world for the first time since checking herself out of the mental institution where she has spent two and a half years. She agrees to attend her mother’s alma mater and try to make a fresh start, but illness and the pressures of social engagement prove too much for her, despite the offers of help from roommate Zoey, a kindly school counselor, and charming surfer Chris. As she struggles to keep her head above water, she examines how her relationships with her self-absorbed and domineering mother, her well-intentioned but ineffectual father, and her seemingly perfect brother have molded her perception of herself. Cassie’s family abuses alcohol and drugs, and her anger erupts in occasional profanity. Kletter’s lyrical prose is beautifully performed by Jorjeana Marie. The result is an emotionally wrenching narrative of physical and mental abuse, suicide, and self-doubt that will linger with listeners long after its hopeful conclusion. VERDICT This beautifully written and performed story will appeal to adults as well as teens who enjoy realistic fiction. [“Sophisticated readers who enjoy dark realistic fiction will be satisfied by this lyrical novel”: SLJ 1/16 review of the Philomel book.]–MaryAnn Karre, Vestal, NY

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

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SLJ and Scholastic Announce 2016 School Librarian of the Year Award Winners http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/slj-and-scholastic-announce-2016-school-librarian-of-the-year-award-winners/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/slj-and-scholastic-announce-2016-school-librarian-of-the-year-award-winners/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=192103 Today, School Library Journal and Scholastic recognize School Librarian of the Year Award winner Todd Burleson, of Illinois, and finalists Anita Cellucci and Laura Gardner, both of Massachusetts. These school librarians all display outstanding achievement and innovative use of technology.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year. I’ve never worked harder or had more fun than my time working with students and encouraging collaboration in the library,” says Burleson, the director of his school’s resource center. He transformed his elementary school library into an IDEA Lab, an integrated, technology-driven space where students can exercise their creativity.

Library teacher Cellucci created a dynamic and collaborative safe haven for students at her high school, based on a school-wide Guided Inquiry Design Process. Gardner, a teacher librarian, engaged her middle school students through multiple and unique leadership opportunities.

To learn more about the School Librarian of the Year Award and this year’s honorees, visit http://slj.com/librarianoftheyear.

Read the full press release from Scholastic below.

Contact:
Roger Jarman, School Library Journal, rjarman@mediasourceinc.com, 646-380-0746
Brittany Sullivan, Scholastic, bsullivan@scholastic.com, 212-343-4848

2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year Announced

Winner Todd Burleson and Finalists Laura Gardner and Anita Cellucci Recognized by School Library Journal and Scholastic for Outstanding Achievement and Innovation in the School Library

NEW YORK, NY – August 25, 2016 – The 2016 School Librarian of the Year Award winner and two finalists were announced today by School Library Journal (SLJ). Sponsored by Scholastic Library Publishing, this award honors K–12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies. The 2016 School Librarian of the Year, Todd Burleson of Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, IL, will receive a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 worth of print and digital materials from Scholastic Library Publishing. Laura Gardner of Dartmouth Middle School in Dartmouth, MA and Anita Cellucci of Westborough High School in Westborough, MA were both selected as finalists and will each receive $500 in materials of their choice from Scholastic Library Publishing.

The September 2016 issue of School Library Journal featuring winner Todd Burleson as the cover story is currently available in print and online. To read the full article, visit: http://slj.com/librarianoftheyear

A panel comprised of industry professionals including 2015 School Librarian of the Year, Kristina Holzweiss, judged all nominations based on several criteria including: exemplary service to fulfill the needs of students and the school community; creativity in programming and use of content; collaboration with teacher peers, staff, and administrators; demonstrated student engagement; exemplary use of technology tools; and more.

Quotes about the 2016 School Librarian of the Year Award:

Todd Burleson, 2016 School Librarian of the Year

“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year. I’ve never worked harder or had more fun than my time working with students and encouraging collaboration in the library. My passion for learning, I’ve been told, is slightly contagious and I am excited to share my experiences and continue my professional growth with educators across the country.”

Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal
“These outstanding educators provide an inspiring model for us all, demonstrating how individual, impassioned leadership can make a difference in the lives of young people. School Library Journal is honored to highlight their work through the School Librarian of the Year Award, which underscores the critical role of librarians and media specialists in supporting student engagement and learning. SLJ looks forward to working with the 2016 honorees in advancing the profession and raising awareness in the broader community of the great work that librarians do.”

Allison Henderson, Vice President and General Manager, Scholastic, Library Publishing Division
“These passionate librarians have transformed their schools’ libraries into vibrant spaces that present learning in interactive and exciting ways, paving the path for student success. At Scholastic, we believe recognizing the hard work, creativity and dedication of teacher librarians like Todd Burleson is important to showcase how their roles enrich schools and communities. We are excited to see how the School Librarian of the Year Award winners will share with their peers, fostering future generations of creative-thinkers and joyful readers throughout the country.”

About the 2016 School Librarian of the Year Winner and Finalists:

2016 School Librarian of the Year Todd Burleson, Hubbard Woods School, Winnetka, IL

Transforming Hubbard Woods School’s library into an IDEA Lab—an integrated, technology-driven space where students can exercise their creativity—has been the highlight of Todd Burleson’s seven-year tenure as a library media specialist. In an effort to enhance classroom learning and empower students to think critically, Burleson, director of Hubbard Woods’ resource center, established daily blocks of time where students are welcomed into the lab to experiment with hands-on makerspace activities including coding, assembling robots, woodworking, sewing, laser cutting and 3D printing. Burleson extends this theme of innovation outside the library by engaging families in fun competitions and training them to use new technology. When he isn’t working with K–4 students or their parents, Burleson presents his best practices with the library community and colleagues at national conferences, on his blog, and through professional development seminars within his district.

Finalist Anita Cellucci, Westborough High School, Westborough, MA
Library teacher Anita Cellucci created a dynamic and collaborative safe haven for students at Westborough High School, based on a school-wide Guided Inquiry Design Process. Working closely with teachers and guidance counselors, Cellucci used this research model to support students’ social-emotional learning, encouraging them to take the lead in their own individualized learning experiences using print and online tools. In response to a growing number of mental health issues within her school, Cellucci secured a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which promoted awareness and established coping strategies for teachers, students and the community at large. Cellucci also serves as a coach for the school’s Poetry Power Club and the Teen Advisory Board, regularly speaks at education conferences, and facilitates professional development programs.

Finalist Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA
Through the ongoing support of parent and student volunteers, teacher librarian Laura Gardner, NBCT, established a dynamic makerspace in the Dartmouth Middle School library. Every day, students are empowered by choice as they explore their creativity using the library’s research and makerspace tools including a Lego wall, green screens, Touchcast, and more. To further engage students through leadership opportunities, Gardner brings young volunteers to conferences and committee meetings to present on their unique work in the library. Using social media, Gardner actively stays up-to-date with new technology, shares regular updates with families, and proudly celebrates her students’ accomplishments.

To learn more about the 2016 School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year Award, visit: http://www.slj.com/awards/school-librarian-of-the-year.

 

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Yes, He Can! Todd Burleson, SLJ’s 2016 School Librarian of the Year http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/yes-he-can-todd-burleson-sljs-2016-school-librarian-of-the-year/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/yes-he-can-todd-burleson-sljs-2016-school-librarian-of-the-year/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 12:50:28 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=191995 Photo by Saverio Truglia

Photo by Saverio Truglia

Hubbard Woods School, Winnetka, IL

“Please keep robots out of the sawdust” is the kind of phrase heard around the library at Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, IL, where media specialist and SLJ 2016 School Librarian of the Year Todd Burleson is director of the resource center, as the school calls the library. The “Willy Wonka of school librarians” is how Erin Donaldson, PTO communications director for the K–4 school, describes Burleson. And like the fictional candy maker, Burleson has an infectious energy and insatiable curiosity, which have transformed his library into a world of pure imagination. The “IDEA Lab” sign over the entrance to the maker space area gives people a hint of what’s in store. (IDEA stands for Innovation, Design, Engineering, and Art.)

In spring of 2015, Burleson presented a detailed proposal—down to an itemized list of furniture and technology needed—to turn the 5,000-square-foot traditional library into a space for project-based learning. “We loved the presentation just short of tears,” says Donaldson. In June 2015, the Hubbard Woods PTO unanimously approved the plan, allocating $50,000 to capital improvements for the project as the volunteer group’s gift for the school’s 100th anniversary. At the same time, the Winnetka Public School District was interested in expanding STEAM spaces and making Hubbard Woods a pilot program for its elementary campuses.

“I’m blessed that I work in such an amazing school district,” says Burleson, who, with parent volunteers, transformed the library over the summer. Stacks were put on wheels, heavy oak tables were replaced with flip-top models that can be hidden or brought out at a moment’s notice, and chairs swapped for stools, some allowing fidgety students to wobble as they sit.

A research center next to the library became the maker space. “[Todd] has been remarkably dedicated to this task and has a brilliant mind for knowing what will support our project-based, progressive philosophy in a manageable way,” says former Hubbard Woods principal Daniel Ryan. The IDEA Lab opened in fall 2015, complete with manipulatives (Rigamajig and LEGOs), robotics (Dash and Dot, Sphero, and Bloxels), and engineering toys (K’nex and SnapCircuits), along with iPads, two laptop carts, and sewing machines. Even leftover cardboard boxes from new equipment were saved. Inspired by the viral video Caine’s Arcade, students could tinker with the boxes, leading to the Cardboard Challenge, a family event held at the school last October.

Burleson reads a picture book to first graders. Courtesy of Todd Burleson/ Hubbard Woods School

Burleson reads a picture book to first graders.
Courtesy of Todd Burleson/ Hubbard Woods School

The former third and fourth grade classroom teacher says that it’s rewarding to see kids become empowered by tinkering. “That element of coding or programming is probably the most exciting thing I’ve seen from students,” says Burleson, describing that moment “when they realize they’re no longer just consumers—they can create programs or have a device do something they want it to.”

Other teachers at Hubbard Woods have witnessed changes, too. Math facilitator Judith Campbell noticed remarkable shifts in student confidence, problem-solving, and collaboration when they produced videos for Earth Week. “I watched in amazement at the independence and motivation these students had,” says Campbell. “This was a clear outcome of the work they had been doing all year in the IDEA Lab.”

It’s hard to find an aspect of the school that hasn’t been impacted by Burleson’s vision of marrying books and bytes. He has hosted children’s authors, including Wendy McClure, Bob Staake, John Klassen, and Tamera Will Wissinger. STEM projects are focused around ways to use tech to facilitate reading and writing. In one engineering challenge, students built a wagon to transport books to classrooms. Other students learned to publish their own ebooks using Book Creator software. Donaldson notes another memorable directive from Burleson: “Wear your smock to the library….we’re using the Sphero to make a Jackson Pollock painting today.”

For Hubbard Woods’s 100th-anniversary program, Burleson taught kids to create robot music videos that were screened as introductions to live performances of the same music by students. Music teacher Gary Wendt says, “I prepared the kids musically in the music room, and [Todd] worked with them on the technology and videoing in the resource center.” Burleson is a “global thinker,” Wendt adds. “It’s such a joy to work with someone who has no borders around the library and resource center environment.”

Courtesy of Todd Burleson/ Hubbard Woods School

Courtesy of Todd Burleson/ Hubbard Woods School

Burleson’s colleagues attest to his 24/7 enthusiasm. “There were many times I’d come in to work after the weekend and there would be some sort of new contraption in the middle of the IDEA Lab,” says Kristin Osborn, Hubbard Woods tech associate, who works closely with Burleson in the space. “Todd would get ideas in his head and then build things for a new lesson plan the following week.” In the spring of 2016, the students created a giant outdoor geometric sculpture; the group bought the $50 worth of supplies they needed at a hardware store.

The campus community has a strong interest in performing arts; for the past 15 years Hubbard Woods has run a TV station, WGST, which Burleson has headed for eight years. “When I started, we were using VHS tapes,” he says, noting that in 2015, a grant from the Winnetka Public Schools Foundation funded new cameras, lights, and production equipment. “Eventually, we transferred the whole thing to…computers and putting it on the Internet.” The library renovation also allowed the production studio to move out of the school’s basement and into the IDEA Lab, taking advantage of new technology.

The video production class is part of Hubbard Woods’s fourth grade curriculum, and while it’s optional to come in before school to tape a newscast, Burleson says that nearly all students participate. It’s a rite of passage for fourth graders to report while wearing the designated blue blazer stored in the studio. “At 7:30 a.m. one recent cold Midwestern morning, I visited Todd’s school,” says Gail Bush, director emeritus of the school library program at National Louis University, where Burleson earned an MLS in 2013. “It is remarkable to see these fourth graders apply themselves to their tasks…and then just as readily joyfully dance around the studio post-recording as any child would delight in a job well done.”

Burleson deflects praise like this, attributing much of his success to a well-endowed school district with supportive leadership and active parent volunteers. The school, which serves 243 students (only two percent English language learners and no low-income students) in grades K–4, has an $18,000 annual library budget. “I want teachers who may not be in a district with this much support to not lose heart, to not lose faith,” he says. “I try really hard to boil it down to the absolute bare bones. You don’t have to have the most fancy robot or piece of software. You can do just about anything with creativity and flexibility.” More than 200 educators and administrators have toured the IDEA Lab to get inspiration for maker spaces in their own communities.

Burleson shares ideas with the hope that school librarians can replicate them, even with a limited budget. The IDEA Lab genesis is chronicled on his blog, where he shares general tips, such as a holiday gift guide for STEAM toys. He also writes a monthly column for the PTO newsletter. “He’s super generous,” says Donaldson. “There’s no arrogance. There’s no ‘me’ in it at all.” People can follow along on the Hubbard Woods School IDEA Lab Facebook page, Twitter, or on SeeSaw, a cloud-based app that creates digital portfolios of student work. A frequent presenter at state and national conferences, Burleson, and a group of Winnetka Public School teachers and administrators, presented a two-day workshop around “Design Thinking in Makerspaces” at the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit this summer.

While some parents joke that he doesn’t sleep, the librarian has another insight. “My dad told me once that if you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life,” he says. “I wake up every day so excited about what could happen that I can barely wait to get to school and get started.”


Lynch-Grace-Hwang-2016-TNGrace Hwang Lynch is a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has written for PBS, PRI, Salon, and BlogHer. Follow her on Twitter @HapaMamaGrace.

About the Award

SLJ presents the third annual School Librarian of the Year Award in partnership with sponsor Scholastic Library Publishing. The award honors a K–12 library professional for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools and services to engage children and teens toward fostering multiple literacies.

This year’s award recognizes one winner and two finalists from a strong pool of 48 applicants. The winning school librarian receives a $2,500 cash award, plus $2,500 worth of print and digital materials from Scholastic Library Publishing. The two finalists each receive $500 in materials of their choice from Scholastic Library Publishing.

THE 2016 JUDGES:  Kristina Holzweiss, 2015 School Librarian of the Year and librarian and library media specialist at Bay Shore (NY) Middle School; Jodi Mahoney, principal, Greenbrook Elementary School, South Brunswick, NJ; and the editors of School Library Journal.

Read more about the award.

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Creating a Safe Space: Anita Cellucci, 2016 School Librarian of the Year Finalist http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/creating-a-safe-space-anita-cellucci-2016-school-librarian-of-the-year-finalist/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/creating-a-safe-space-anita-cellucci-2016-school-librarian-of-the-year-finalist/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 12:45:24 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=191999 Photo by David Fox Photography

Photo by David Fox Photography

Westborough High School, Westborough, MA

Anita Cellucci wanted to become a school librarian “to create that safe space in a way that enriches the community,” she says. Mission accomplished, and much more: At Westborough High School (WHS) in central Massachusetts, Cellucci has turned the library into a safe space to read and learn about anything, including mental health. A recent survey of adolescents by the MetroWest Health Foundation found that many of the 1,045 WHS students, especially girls, were experiencing suicidal thoughts. Cellucci envisioned the library as a place where, along with reading and relaxing, teens could learn about mental wellness and break down stigmas, adopting the pledge #Iamstigmafree.

She made mental health education part of WHS’s library curriculum, with the goal of creating a more empathetic community. While students already sought her as a trusted adult, “Kids go to kids,” she notes. “If they have the tools, they are likely to give them better information.”

With a $5,000 federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant that supplemented her $21,000 annual budget, Cellucci funded mental health programs such as yoga, a writing marathon, field trips to slam poetry competitions, and a new Psychology and Literature senior seminar, which Cellucci co-teaches with WHS English teacher Kathy Stoker. “A visionary like no other” is how Stoker characterizes the librarian—“one of the most resourceful, intelligent, diligent, passionate, and enthusiastic educators with whom I have worked.”

An oversized coloring sheet at Cellucci’s library offered  students a chance to relax during finals in May and June. Photo courtesy of Westborough High School library

An oversized coloring sheet at Cellucci’s library offered
students a chance to relax during finals in May and June.
Photo courtesy of Westborough High School library

Seminar students developed a guided-inquiry design project, choosing from topics such as music and art therapy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. One boy lacked confidence in his academic and social abilities, Stoker recounts. “Instead of giving up on him like a lot of people did, [Anita] asked him to take a leadership position in a day seminar. He was awestruck that someone believed in him that much.” In November, Stoker and Cellucci will present on “Educators Exploring Empathy in Emotional Intelligence” at the National Council of Teachers of English convention. Cellucci also spoke about guided-inquiry design at the 2015 American Association of School Librarians conference.

Cellucci has a gift for making people feel at ease, says Westborough Public Library director Maureen Ambrosino, a 2009 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. Frequent collaborators, the two organized a Teen Advisory Board and a community literacy project based on Laura Harrington’s novel Alice Bliss (Viking, 2011), a coming-of-age story about a military family that touches on mental health issues. “Not every city or town is lucky enough to have such close relationships between public and school libraries,” says Ambrosino. “Any time I ask other school librarians if they know Anita, they all have the same response—a huge smile, and words to the effect of, ‘Of course! She’s amazing!’”

While the public library’s adult book clubs were discussing Alice Bliss, Cellucci named it WHS’s 2015 summer reading pick, so students would be ready to talk about it during the school year. Eighteen staff members at WHS also signed up for discussion groups with other adults at the school, including WHS parents. In April 2016, Cellucci used grant funds to bring Harrington to campus for a student writing marathon.

“Anita places students and their voices and passions at the center of all her planning,” says Concord-Carlisle Regional High School librarian Robin Cicchetti. In central Massachusetts, Cellucci is known for encouraging student expression—whether that takes the form of weekly lunchtime musical performances or Power Poetry Thursdays. She also chaperones students to participate in the state’s Louder Than a Bomb teen poetry slam festival.

Currently president of the Massachusetts School Library Association, Cellucci has presented before state legislators about the importance of using libraries for mental health outreach and brought students to the statehouse to testify about her program. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners uses her mental health initiative as a model for grant writing. At WHS, only 5.5 percent students are economically disadvantaged. One of Cellucci’s goals is for other school librarians to have resources to dream big, and to advocate for more—and more equitable—funding for school libraries, and certified librarians, across the state.


Lynch-Grace-Hwang-2016-TNGrace Hwang Lynch is a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has written for PBS, PRI, Salon, and BlogHer. Follow her on Twitter @HapaMamaGrace.

About the Award

SLJ presents the third annual School Librarian of the Year Award in partnership with sponsor Scholastic Library Publishing. The award honors a K–12 library professional for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools and services to engage children and teens toward fostering multiple literacies.

This year’s award recognizes one winner and two finalists from a strong pool of 48 applicants. The winning school librarian receives a $2,500 cash award, plus $2,500 worth of print and digital materials from Scholastic Library Publishing. The two finalists each receive $500 in materials of their choice from Scholastic Library Publishing.

THE 2016 JUDGES: Kristina Holzweiss, 2015 School Librarian of the Year and librarian and library media specialist at Bay Shore (NY) Middle School; Jodi Mahoney, principal, Greenbrook Elementary School, South Brunswick, NJ; and the editors of School Library Journal.

Read more about the award.

 

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Unstoppable Ambassador: Laura Gardner, 2016 School Librarian of the Year Finalist http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/unstoppable-ambassador-laura-gardner-2016-school-librarian-of-the-year-finalist/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/unstoppable-ambassador-laura-gardner-2016-school-librarian-of-the-year-finalist/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 12:43:20 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=192002 Photos by Peter Pereira

Photos by Peter Pereira

Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

At the Dartmouth (MA) Middle School Library, the 20 members of the MakerClub and the 40 Lunch Bunch Book Club participants get first dibs on borrowing and using library materials, and they also have a say in purchasing decisions. That’s just part of why they love it there. School libraries of the past were often “friendly places for a quiet time of studying without being interrupted,” says eighth grade library volunteer Nathan Stone. With teacher librarian Laura Gardner at the helm, the DMS library has those qualities. But, Stone says, “we are also all about innovation.”

When Gardner arrived at the DMS library, administrators told her, “‘We want you to make this a fun place,’” she recalls. “We want students to want to be [here].” Eight years in, her passion for books and learning is evident in the library volunteer program that has expanded from 10 students when she arrived to more than 65, plus six adults. (See “How To Run a Library Volunteer Program that Students Love”). Now, Gardener says, kids walk down the hallways with books open in front of their faces, even bumping into people because they are so absorbed in their stories.

“I’m most proud of what we do to promote reading at the school and what a reading culture we have,” says Gardner, a self-described book lover with a soft spot for realistic fiction. As the sole librarian in this middle-class community where 20 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, she works with an annual budget of $13,000, supplemented by $5,000 from PTO-organized Scholastic book fairs. Eighth grader Nate Westfall gave $20 of his allowance money to buy books for the library last year. “His allowance is split into three categories: spend, save, and donate. His ‘donate’ category is my library,” Gardner says. Her students got a taste of advocacy in February, when Gardner invited lawmakers to the campus for the Massachusetts State Legislative breakfast, and kids and parents advocated for school library funding.

Gardner’s library has more than 65 student volunteers.

Gardner’s library has more than 65 student volunteers.

While increasing the collection tenfold, from 10,000 to 100,000 titles, Gardner added to popular genres such as dystopian romance, fantasy, and graphic novels, and built up the nonfiction collection. “Working with the English Language Arts teachers, she realized how limited our nonfiction section was,” says DMS assistant principal Carl Robidoux. For Gardner, reading is also intertwined with mastering 21st-century learning tools. The DMS library holds the distinction of placing the most books on hold in the district with the MassCat system, a network for resource-sharing among school, medical, law, special, and small public libraries. “The most important thing is that we have kids reading good, complex books on many different topics and thinking critically about what they read,” says Gardner, who appeared on Dartmouth Community Television earlier this year. She works closely with teachers as well, showing them how to use various web platforms and working to increase rigor and encourage independent research and proper citation in class assignments.

Opportunities for tech exploration at the library include a LEGO wall, and an HP Sprout mini-3-D printer, along with robotics tools such as Spheros, Ozobot, and littleBits. The library also hosts a class set of desktop computers, two laptop carts, and 10 iPads. Students can use a green screen to make videos with iPads.

Gardner is a 2016 ambassador for the iPad video production app Touchcast, and her students have made more than 200 videos for class projects—and for fun—over the past two years. For a recent project, students analyzed Public Service Announcements (PSAs) from the Ad Council and made their own PSAs on teen social media use. During the library’s Hour of Code competition, Gardner brought in a parent who programs professionally; the event culminated in a luncheon for top coders. Solo STEM exploration flourishes, too. Last year, a sixth grader named Oliver taught himself how to use Tinkercad and printed 15 projects. Gardner says, “I want [the library] to be a place where students always feel welcome, [and] where they belong, whether they are completely crazy for books or they like to tinker in the maker space.”


Lynch-Grace-Hwang-2016-TNGrace Hwang Lynch is a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has written for PBS, PRI, Salon, and BlogHer. Follow her on Twitter @HapaMamaGrace.

About the Award

SLJ presents the third annual School Librarian of the Year Award in partnership with sponsor Scholastic Library Publishing. The award honors a K–12 library professional for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st-century tools and services to engage children and teens toward fostering multiple literacies.

This year’s award recognizes one winner and two finalists from a strong pool of 48 applicants. The winning school librarian receives a $2,500 cash award, plus $2,500 worth of print and digital materials from Scholastic Library Publishing. The two finalists each receive $500 in materials of their choice from Scholastic Library Publishing.

THE 2016 JUDGES: Kristina Holzweiss, 2015 School Librarian of the Year and librarian and library media specialist at Bay Shore (NY) Middle School; Jodi Mahoney, principal, Greenbrook Elementary School, South Brunswick, NJ; and the editors of School Library Journal.

Read more about the award.

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Kickstarter Campaign Launches for Native American Comics Anthology http://www.slj.com/2016/08/books-media/kickstarter-campaign-launches-for-native-american-comics-anthology/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/books-media/kickstarter-campaign-launches-for-native-american-comics-anthology/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 15:35:49 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=192092 SLJ Best Book Moonshot Vol. 1, has spearheaded a crowdsourced funding campaign to finance the second installment of the award-winning anthology of Native American comics.]]> Print

AH Comics, the publisher of 2015 SLJ Best Book Moonshot Vol. 1, has spearheaded a crowdsourced funding campaign to finance the creation of a second installment to the award-winning anthology of Native American–themed comics. The same team that brought together indigenous artists and writers from across North America wants to do the same for the second volume, once again edited by the acclaimed Hope Nicholson.

“I was drawn to this project because I saw the opportunity to showcase a lot of new talent that was creating indigenous comics that people weren’t aware of,” said Nicholson about the first volume. “Showcasing a diversity of cultures across North America from creators who are in those communities was a very exciting prospect. I’m happy to keep working to create spaces to showcase new voices.”

In our original review of the first volume, School Library Journal said, “The artwork is as diverse as the stories collected, and readers will eagerly anticipate the next vignette. A great addition to any library where comics fly off the shelf.” The publisher hopes to build upon the success of Moonshot Vol. 1 by including some of the same contributors, such as Richard van Camp and Haiwei Hou. The second volume will include more than 30 creators.

"Wolf Spirit" artwork by Marvel's Echo/Vision Quest, Daredevil and Jessica Jones artist David Mack! Get this as a limited edition signed print for backing the project!

Wolf Spirit artwork by Marvel’s Echo/Vision Quest, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones artist David Mack.

“What motivated AH Comics to create a second volume was the huge amount of support Volume 1 received. As a producer and creator myself, it was such an honor to see the overwhelming response for it,” Andy Stanleigh, President and Chief Visual Engineer of AH Comics told SLJ.  “From the authors and artists we worked with who adore the book to the readers who send us emails and messages on Facebook and Twitter with their reviews to the reviewers themselves and fans we see personally at shows. How could we possibly not do a Volume 2?”

The publisher has dubbed the “Moonshot” collections as “celebration[s] of storytelling” and has taken the crowdfunding route because Kickstarter is a fantastic platform to get the storytellers engaged with the audience. Backers are being offered personalized signed art, hardcover books, and continued updates. “All of it works together to communicate with the existing, and new, fan base right from the start, fans who quite literally personally have a hand in the book’s creation,” adds Stanleigh.

The expected publication date of the second volume is June 2017.

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One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/one-half-from-the-east-by-nadia-hashimi-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/one-half-from-the-east-by-nadia-hashimi-slj-review/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=189493 Hashimi, Nadia. One Half from the East. 272p. HarperCollins. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062421906. 

Gr 4-8 –After Obayda’s policeman father loses a leg in a car bombing in Kabul, her family moves to a rural village to be near their extended relatives. When her father retreats from life because of his injury, an aunt suggests that the girl be allowed to be a bacha posh and live as a boy. Obayda would have a better [...]]]> redstarHashimi, Nadia. One Half from the East. 272p. HarperCollins. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062421906. MG-Hashimi-One Half from the East

Gr 4-8 –After Obayda’s policeman father loses a leg in a car bombing in Kabul, her family moves to a rural village to be near their extended relatives. When her father retreats from life because of his injury, an aunt suggests that the girl be allowed to be a bacha posh and live as a boy. Obayda would have a better education and more opportunities, and the presence of a boy would bring luck, and perhaps a baby brother, to the family. “Obayd” struggles at first, but once she makes friends with Rahima (another bacha posh), she gains confidence and enjoys her new life. Their joy is short-lived. When Rahima is married off to a local warlord at the age of 13, Obayda makes a desperate attempt to keep her freedom. Told in clear, vivid prose that combines detailed descriptions of daily life with a good dose of adventure, this story has more information about bacha posh than Deborah Ellis’s The Breadwinner and is a welcome addition to books about Afghanistan such as Trent Reedy’s Words in the Dust and Andrew Clements’s Extra Credit. The depiction of a country and family in turmoil is realistically handled, and Obayda’s father does recuperate from his injuries with her help. VERDICT This is an excellent title that will offer students a window into life in Afghanistan and open interesting, age-appropriate conversations about gender expectations and roles in different countries.–Karen Yingling, Blendon Middle School, Westerville, OH

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

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The Swan Riders by Erin Bow | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/the-swan-riders-by-erin-bow-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/the-swan-riders-by-erin-bow-slj-review/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=189490 Bow, Erin. The Swan Riders. 384p. (Prisoners of Peace: Bk. 2). ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481442749. 

Gr 10 Up –This sequel picks up shortly after the conclusion of The Scorpion Rules. Greta Gustafson Stuart, former princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a newly minted Artificial Intelligence. In agreeing to become an AI, Greta has saved herself and fellow hostage Elián Palnik while avoiding the wrath of [...]]]> redstarBow, Erin. The Swan Riders. 384p. (Prisoners of Peace: Bk. 2). ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481442749. YA-SP-Bow-The Swan Riders

Gr 10 Up –This sequel picks up shortly after the conclusion of The Scorpion Rules. Greta Gustafson Stuart, former princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a newly minted Artificial Intelligence. In agreeing to become an AI, Greta has saved herself and fellow hostage Elián Palnik while avoiding the wrath of Talis—the all-powerful AI who rules the world with the judicious use of satellite weaponry, carefully chosen hostages, and his Swan Riders, who act as part army and part cult. Greta is the first new AI in more than a century. Haunted by memories of her time as a hostage growing up at Precepture Four—including torture, friendship, and Xie, the future queen and the lover Greta had to leave behind—the protagonist struggles to cling to what is left of her humanity while learning about her capabilities as an AI. With the future of the world hanging in the balance, Greta will have to use everything she knows about being AI and human to bring her two dramatically different worlds together. Quick recaps and Greta’s own memories bring readers up to speed in this fast-paced sci-fi novel, although having knowledge of the first book is ideal. Bow dramatically expands the world here by introducing more of the landscape as Talis, Greta, and two Swan Riders travel across Saskatchewan toward the AI home base near Montana. Interludes from Talis’s point of view—in his present form as an all-powerful AI and in flashbacks to his time as the idealistic Michael Talis, who wanted to save the world—add another dimension to this disturbingly likable character. Weighty subject matter and heavy questions about what is best vs. what is right are tempered with humor and Greta’s wry first-person narration. Like its predecessor, this installment has a thoughtfully diverse cast of characters with familiar faces and newer additions, including Francis Xavier, a stoic, dark-skinned Swan Rider born with one hand. VERDICT A fascinating follow-up and stunning story that is a must-read for fans of the first volume.–Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library

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

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Preserving a Brownstone—and the Legacy of Langston Hughes http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/preserving-a-brownstone-and-the-legacy-of-langston-hughes/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/preserving-a-brownstone-and-the-legacy-of-langston-hughes/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 20:49:19 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=192027 Langston Hughes in 1936

Langston Hughes in 1936

“I been scared and battered./My hopes the wind done scattered.” So go the opening lines from the poem  “Still Here” by Langston Hughes, the great U.S. poet, author, and hero of the Harlem Renaissance. The same downtrodden (but ultimately hopeful) sentiment could be applied to his brownstone in the East Harlem section of New York City. Hughes, long a favorite of middle and high school teachers and librarians for his jazz-inspired poetry and scrutiny of race and social justice, lived in the three-story Italianate-style house for two decades until his death in 1967. Though it’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982, it’s currently crumbling away and needs a champion.

Enter Renée Watson, a Harlem-based educator and author who’s been walking by Hughes’s empty home for years. Growing up in Portland, OR, she memorized Hughes’s poetry as an elementary student, and read the works of writers who participated in Harlem’s cultural revival of the 1920s and 1930s. Watson has said his powerful poetry spoke to her, mirroring her own life. As an author of teen novels (This Side of Home [Bloomsbury, 2015]; the upcoming Piecing Me Together [Bloomsbury, 2017]) and well-received picture books (Harlem’s Little Blackbird [Random, 2012]; A Place Where Hurricanes Happen [Random, 2010]), witnessing the home of a beloved fellow writer sit idle and forgotten was a call to action she couldn’t ignore.

Renee Watson. Photo courtesy of NAACP

Renée Watson. Photo courtesy of NAACP

So Watson recently launched a nonprofit called I, Too, Arts Collective to gather established and up-and-coming authors in order to help them create and present their work. “The brownstone will not only be the headquarters for the collective’s workshops and meetings but it’ll also play host to artists and writers from the community for their own readings and events,” she explains. Taking ownership of the brownstone is the ultimate goal, but for now Watson’s nonprofit is raising money to cover the first-year costs, including the lease, renovations, and programming materials. To date, she’s closing in on the $40,000 minimum required for a three-year lease, with nearly $28,000 in hand.

The brownstone at East 127th Street in New York City.

The brownstone at East 127th Street in New York City.

But Harlem is changing—and fast. Important landmarks are being sold off and even torn down to make way for a new generation of city dwellers, marking this project with a sense of urgency. For Watson, securing Hughes’s home is significant not only for its literary prominence but also because it’s a vital cultural and historical space that’s begging to be preserved. The general public as well as educational institutions are being called upon to lend a hand. Watson and her collaborators are reaching out for funds via an Indiegogo page and plan to offer special perks to libraries and schools that donate. Some of those incentives include author visits via Skype from Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Daniel José Older, as well as signed books from a diverse group of children’s authors and artwork from illustrators.

Watson urges librarians and other school staff to share the campaign page on their social media. Spreading the word to young people is also part of her plan. The Harlem youth population, says Watson, should know about those who came before them. Saving Langston Hughes’s home is a way to pay tribute. It’s still here, in the neighborhood—and just needs to be shown a little love.

 


Editor Jennifer Kelly Geddes, a Harlem resident herself, writes frequently for Parents.com and Highlights

 

 

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Morton Schindel, Founder of Weston Woods Studios, Dies at 98 http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/morton-schindel-founder-of-weston-woods-studio-dies-at-98/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/morton-schindel-founder-of-weston-woods-studio-dies-at-98/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:18:45 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=192016 Morton Schindel, founder of Weston Woods Studios, provider of audiovisual materials adapted from award-winning children’s books, died on Saturday, August 20, 2016, at age 98. Schindel produced more than 300 motion pictures and 450 recordings that are found in school and library collections today. His films have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Schindel with some of his favorite "wild things." Photo courtesy of Scholastic.

Schindel with some of his favorite “wild things.” Photo courtesy of Scholastic

Schindel found that a special filming technique was needed to faithfully transfer the artwork of children’s picture books from page to screen. He developed an iconographic style of filmmaking in which a motion picture camera would glide in front of the original artwork, giving the still imagery cinematic life. By having the visuals move at a deliberate, controlled pace, the camera captured the mood and action that the illustrator conveyed on the pages of the book.

In 1996, Weston Woods Studios was acquired by Scholastic, with Schindel as an advisor. Weston Woods, has gone on to produce more than 200 additional films based on the books of Scholastic and other publishers. These films have been honored with 15 Carnegie Medals, awarded by the American Library Association, for best video of the year based on a children’s book.

Richard Robinson, chairman, president, and CEO of Scholastic said, “Mort Schindel not only founded the art form and business of creating films based on outstanding children’s books, he also helped generations of teachers and librarians understand how they could reach more children with these great stories through the medium of film, video, and television. He pioneered this important art form by working with hundreds of authors and illustrators, including Maurice Sendak, William Steig, and Robert McCloskey, winning their support by making creative films like Where the Wild Things Are, Blueberries for Sal, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and The Amazing Bone, which adhered absolutely to the spirit and story of the original printed work.”

Schindel graduated from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in economics, and received his masters in curriculum and teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the latter school as the only graduate “who never earned a dime as a librarian or a classroom teacher” but nonetheless became “a teacher to millions.”

He is survived by his wife, author Cari Best of Connecticut; a sister, Elaine Martens of New Jersey; children; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; nieces; and nephews.

 

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Non-Nonfiction: Harry Potter and Hamilton | Adult Books 4 Teens http://www.slj.com/2016/08/teens-ya/non-nonfiction-harry-potter-and-hamilton-adult-books-4-teens/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/teens-ya/non-nonfiction-harry-potter-and-hamilton-adult-books-4-teens/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 15:21:10 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=191952 Hamilton: The Revolution to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to an examination of the Dark Knight.]]> I once wrote in this space that when I rule the library world, plays and poetry will be immediately freed from the shackles of “nonfiction” and Dewey numbers, but I can’t seem to find where I wrote it right now, and the point bears repeating anyway. Plays are obviously just as fictional as novels and short stories, after all, and I can’t see how poetry is closer to informational books than fiction. For that matter, essays and humor probably deserve better than the 800s, too.

I offer the above prelude to explain the strange hodgepodge of reviews below. Of the seven reviewed titles, six will be labeled nonfiction and one will be a graphic novel. Strangely, the graphic novel is a nonfictional account of the author’s life, while one of the nonfiction titles is a purely fictional play script, and another nonfiction title is an amalgam of a play based on history plus a nonfiction account of its creation. In all honestly, I actually love the blending of genres and styles on display. I just wish we librarians had a better way to present them to the public than our generally binary distinction of “fiction” and “nonfiction.”

In any case, teens should love all of the below books, starting with the obvious blockbuster of the bunch (and the most obviously fictional), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’m not sure that there is much I can add to the onslaught of news, opinion, and reviews about the newest entry in the apparently unending world of Harry Potter. My younger brother was 13 when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published, making him one of the first teenagers to know who Harry Potter was. Now he’s 32 and our 10-year-old niece has just finished reading the original series. Having now made it through an entire generation and, with The Cursed Child, an author change, Harry Potter has gone beyond beloved series to cultural icon for the ages.

Moving on to another blockbuster, let’s talk Hamilton. Long before the musical, I wrote a review of Jean Fritz’s children’s biography of Alexander Hamilton:

When choosing one’s favorite founding father (as we all, eventually must) liberals could do a lot worse than Alexander Hamilton—a genuine war hero, who was nonetheless very thoughtful about whether the Revolution was the right thing; a virulent opposer of slavery; the primary author of the Federalist papers; a proponent of a strong central government, and founder of the Federalist party; creator of the national bank; and a generally honorable man who accepted his duel with Burr but refused to return fire.

 

So I felt vindicated when Lin-Manuel Miranda turned my personal favorite founder into a national rock star (and more than a little satisfied when his renewed fame saved Hamilton’s place on the 10 dollar bill, to the detriment of one of his biggest detractors, Andrew Jackson). The book reviewed below contains the libretto, as well as annotations from Miranda, a set of gorgeous photographs, and more. It’s a treat for anyone who loves the musical already but also a great introduction for newbies.

Of course, the aspect of Hamilton that has resonated most strongly for many viewers and listeners is Miranda’s reappropriation of the founding moment for people of color——through his multicultural casting, use of hip-hop music, and emphasis on our most antislavery founder. This ties the musical neatly with our next book, Mychal Denzel Smith’s Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education. Smith’s memoir adds another important voice to our national discussion, and it’s an eloquent one.

Our two “purest” nonfiction titles address two more hot-button current issues——feminism and nerd culture——through the lens of history. If you don’t know why nerd culture is such a thorny issue, google “Ghostbros” or check out this incredible article by Devin Faraci over at birthmoviesdeath.com (plus its follow-up). In short: our culture, especially movies, has been taken over by the properties that were once the cult objects of outcasts and nerds——and a minority of those outcasts and nerds haven’t handled the move to prime time too well. Glen Weldon’s The Caped Crusade takes us back to that long ago time when not every child (and adult) in America (and the world) could recite Batman’s origin story like biblical verse. Weldon uses Batman specifically to track the history of nerd culture and the ways it has crossed paths with mainstream culture over the past 80 years. It’s a great read that puts much of contemporary culture into its proper context.

A much narrower history, Nathalia Holt’s Rise of the Rocket Girls addresses feminism—specifically the role of women in the workforce—by focusing on the female “computers” who helped put a man on the moon. Back before the machines on your desk, lap, and pocket were called “computers,” that word was used for a person who calculated (computed) numbers. And starting in the 1940s, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, began employing women as the computers who powered their research. A thought-provoking book, especially for the budding young feminists (male and female) of today.

Finally, we have a pair of memoirs. Nicolaia Rips’s Trying To Float is mainly comic, telling of her quirky upbringing in the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. A great read on its own, it should be an easy sell when teens learn that Rips wrote the book as a teen herself. Evie Wyld’s Everything Is Teeth is the graphic novel referred to above, and despite the format, it is much darker, dealing with Wyld’s obsessive phobia of sharks and the anxieties this fear comes to stand in for.

I warned you this lot was a hodgepodge, but together they offer a huge cross-section of “nonfiction” that should give teens plenty to think about, and maybe inspire them to write some of their own.

 

FICTION

Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Special_Rehearsal_Edition_Book_CoverTHORNE, Jack & John Tiffany. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. 320p. ebook available. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Jul. 2016. Tr $29.99. ISBN 9781338099133.

Playwright Thorne and director Tiffany (who previously collaborated on Hope and Let the Right One In) worked with J.K. Rowling to extend the Harry Potter universe with an eighth “installment” in the form of the script from the new West End production. The book starts where the last chapter of Deathly Hallows left off—19 years after the main events of the series—with Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione all saying goodbye to their children as they leave for Hogwarts. As Albus, Harry and Ginny’s youngest son, attends Hogwarts, he is plagued by the Potter legacy—something he never wanted—and, as he’s sorted into Slytherin, is terrible at Quidditch, and constantly compared to his famous father, he becomes reclusive and angsty. His sole friend is Scorpius Malfoy, the only son of Draco Malfoy—prompting further separation from his father. When Albus hatches a plot to go back in time to save the life of Cedric Diggory—what Albus views as the biggest mistake his father made—time becomes distorted and Harry is left to examine his own life, his relationship with his son, and how love can sometimes be much more complicated than it seems. This is an interesting extension of the “Harry Potter” universe, but readers should go into it knowing that it’s its own beast. Rowling didn’t write it (much to the fury and vitriol of many fans), and it is in script form, so it loses some of the magic that won over millions of readers back when it all began. However, many of the themes that made the original series great are still in abundance—love and friendship conquering all, facing your flaws and accepting them—so that it simultaneously still feels like a “Harry Potter” tale while remaining its own story. VERDICT It is unlikely that the script will create new Potter followers, owing to its format (reading a script vs. reading a novel is a whole other ballgame), but it’s a well-crafted and enjoyable read.–Tyler Hixson, School Library Journal

GRAPHIC NOVELS

EverythingIsTeethWYLD, Evie. Everything Is Teeth. illus. by Joe Sumner. 128p. Pantheon. May 2016. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781101870815.

Wyld’s graphic memoir reflects on her youthful fascination with and horror of sharks and reveals glimpses of her adult life. Much of the work takes place at her family’s summer home in rural, coastal Australia. Here young Evie senses sharks everywhere—in the river and ocean but also swimming next to the truck or through the crops. She finds a book called Shark Attack and idolizes Rodney Fox, a survivor whose wounds are graphically depicted. Back in Peckham, England, Evie fears sharks in her bath and while on the sofa or in her bed. Her brother starts coming home with signs of being beaten, and he takes comfort in the stories, real and imagined, that Evie tells him of shark attacks. She watches Jaws with her father as he drinks glass after glass of wine. Back in Australia, the young woman has some shark-themed excursions with her family and experiences more shark worries, including imagining her brother and mother being killed by one. Throughout, these animals are a source of dread as well as stand-ins for other anxieties. While the other members of her family display a broad range of emotions, Evie almost always looks concerned, fretful, trepidatious in the illustrations. The beak-nosed people and sparse landscapes are in stark black-and-white, with color appearing only rarely, notably in the various sea creatures depicted. VERDICT Evie’s youth as well as the lure of sharks may help this title appeal to teens, though the overarching tension and the final scenes of her father’s death may speak to a more mature or adult audience. For any collection where graphic memoirs are popular.–Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids 

NONFICTION

RiseHOLT, Nathalia. Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. 352p. ebook available. Index. notes. photos. Little, Brown. Apr. 2016. Tr $27. ISBN 9780316338929.

We take so much for granted now, but in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, women who wanted a career other than homemaker were mostly limited to becoming teachers, nurses, or secretaries, and there was no such thing as maternity leave. However, a few smart young women who loved math were hired to be human computers for the Jet Propulsion Lab in California. What we think of as computers now hadn’t been invented yet. These women spent their days writing equations and computing numbers with pencils, paper, and slide rules to give the male engineers the information they needed to build rockets, satellites, and space shuttles. This selection will surprise and thrill teens not only because it honors the crucial work of these female scientists but also because it shows their individual humanity—their favorite fashions, their personal relationships—within the broader context of the international space race, changes in American society brought about by feminism and integration, and transformations in American daily life brought about by evolving technology. Teen book clubs will enjoy discussing the pros and cons of all-female work groups, the costs and benefits of space exploration, and more. Readers will want to search online for information about the Juno probe, mentioned in the “1970s–Today” section as orbiting Jupiter in July 2016. The extensive notes section details the many first-person interviews conducted by the author, plus the archival materials she used. VERDICT An engaging, inspiring offering that will appeal to fans of history, science, and feminism.–Hope Baugh, Young Adult Services Manager, Carmel Clay Public Library, Carmel, IN

HamiltonMIRANDA, Lin-Manuel & Jeremy McCarter. Hamilton: The Revolution. 288p. illus. ebook available. notes. Grand Central. Apr. 2016. Tr $45. ISBN 9781455539741.

This glorious, oversize testament to the multiple Tony Award–winning musical Hamilton is a joy to anyone who loves the soundtrack or who has been lucky enough to score tickets to the show. Miranda’s annotations are in the margins of the lyrics, which are usually overlaid on full-spread photographs of the cast. He explains the many homages to rappers of his youth, as well as why he used literary devices, changed music tempos, and added fiction when Ron Chernow’s biography couldn’t fill in the gaps. Thirty-two essays offer teens even more background knowledge of how the show was created and often include lyrics that were cut from the final show. Through interviews with cast members and mentors, readers will be engrossed in the narrative and listening along to the soundtrack. The line “Immigrants: We get the job done,” from “Yorktown (the World Turned Upside Down),” stirs rousing applause during performances, and the revolutionary twist of multicultural Americans portraying the Founding Fathers will be inspiring to young people. VERDICT An uplifting, gorgeous, diverse, and emotional libretto that will be performed in high schools as soon as the rights are available, and a must-have for initiated and uninitiated alike.–Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL

TryingRIPS, Nicolaia. Trying To Float: Coming of Age in the Chelsea Hotel. 272p. Scribner. Jul. 2016. Tr $25. ISBN 9781501132988.

Rips’s delightful memoir will amuse readers of all ages. Her eccentric childhood, spent growing up in an apartment in the famous Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street in Manhattan, is described with wit and humor. Spanning from preschool entrance to the end of eighth grade, her work addresses her struggle to make friends and fit in at school. The insightful anecdotes are so well-done that readers will assume that Rips is an adult, but the teenage author graduated from high school in 2016 and this is her first book. Young adults will hope that a sequel covering her years at La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts is forthcoming and wonder if she is as funny in person as she is on the page. The tenants of the Chelsea are not the famous ones of the past, but those portrayed were important for the young girl, whose parents did not arrange the usual playdates. Rips’s parents are depicted as creative optimists from the Midwest, and, fortunately for readers, her father tired of her troublesome tales about school and suggested that she write them down instead of complaining. VERDICT This hilarious selection will make readers laugh and could encourage young people to keep a diary and try their own hand at writing.–Karlan Sick, formerly at New York Public Library

InvisibleredstarSMITH, Mychal. Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education. 240p. ebook available. Perseus/Nation. Jun. 2016. Tr $24. ISBN 9781568585284.

Smith picks up the conversation started in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. Spurred by the pain surrounding recent shootings of young black males, he dissects white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, class-based elitism, self-hatred, violence, and untreated mental illness. If it sounds like a lot, it is, but don’t be dissuaded; Smith is in control and delivers the message in short chapters, each with personal revelations and current cultural references. Young people will relate to his examination of Kanye West, LeBron James, Dave Chappelle, and Frank Ocean. Smith’s honesty is raw and often funny (“I visited the campus once before deciding Hampton would be it, based on my highly sophisticated decision-making rationale: it just felt right, ya know?”), and his punches land squarely. Teens can’t help but ponder the inequality of our nation’s policies while also examining their effects on personal life. Smith challenges readers to ask the questions that will allow us to restructure, rephrase, and reconsider what we are ashamed of. What if we shifted our language to “invite in” all that is different from us? What if we no longer placed the burden of bravery on the marginalized, the people who try to fit into a hostile world? “Change is not inevitable, and building a world of true justice and equality will not happen if we don’t commit to building those new selves.” Smith will continue to be a voice for our nation in years to come. VERDICT This is a commanding read that deserves a place in all libraries. It will make a great book group discussion, especially when paired with Coates’s memoir.–Pamela Schembri, Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, NY

BatmanWELDON, Glen. The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. 336p. S. & S. Mar. 2016. Tr $26. ISBN 9781476756691.

By studying Batman’s fan base over the superhero’s 80-year history, Weldon, a devotee himself, arrives at an interesting theory: the Batman brand exploded when marketers figured out how to appeal to both “nerds” and “normals.” The key to Batman’s survival has been his mutability. First appearing in 1939, he appealed to boys. A decade later, the censorship of comics pushed Batman underground, where he was picked up by rebellious teens; by the 1960s, pop culture, spearheaded by fan Andy Warhol, had transformed him into campy fare. These boys, teens, and men took from Batman’s iconography their own definitions of what it meant to be male, and to be a hero, in distinctly changing times. (Female admirers are few, although Weldon does include them when he can.) Batman’s competing identities threatened his future as a character and an industry. Over the last five decades, young artists from three media—print, TV, and film—achieved a synthesis of Batman iterations while reestablishing his core persona as a childhood survivor of violence who swears to avenge his parents’ death by fighting crime. Comics began to reference the pointy ears and slick capes of the first comics, and nerd culture was born. Today Batman is grim but not nihilistic, obsessed but not crazy, and as a hero, he resonates. Weldon puts all this together in an analysis enhanced by beautiful color plates of Batman comics dating back to the hero’s inaugural year. VERDICT A must for comics fans who will be first in line for a go at this dense but readable text.–Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY

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Connect With Your Principal | Take the Lead http://www.slj.com/2016/08/opinion/connect-with-your-principal-take-the-lead/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/opinion/connect-with-your-principal-take-the-lead/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:04:56 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=190318 Every school librarian media specialist wants to have the support of the school principal. Despite repeated efforts to talk with administrators, school librarians often feel ignored. This can stem from a difference in the way school librarians and school-level administrators communicate and make decisions.

There are several similarities between these two positions, especially in terms of their potential impact. Both hold the possibility of touching every student and teacher in the school. Also, both positions are in the midst of monumental change, and librarians and principals are both working hard to manage these shifts. Principals no longer spend most of their time on logistical and managerial concerns. There is more focus on the principal being held accountable for student performance data. Meanwhile, school librarians are navigating an ever-changing landscape of new information resources and new technology. They are being called on to be knowledgeable of instructional practices, program trends, and informational resources, while working with teachers and leading the school in digital literacy.

1608-TaketheLead-ducksinRowDespite the commonalities, there is a disconnect between how school librarians communicate and how principals make decisions. From the school librarian point of view, the disconnect can be viewed as lack of support or indifference to the library program. Often, this isn’t the case. Principals tend to avoid getting involved with the school library because they do not fully understand the role the librarian plays in improving teacher instruction and student performance. Administrator training programs do not devote time to learning how to supervise or even understand the role of a school librarian. So it is vitally important that when you have the ear of your principal, you use that time well by remembering these guidelines.

BE READY. Having your needs thought through ahead of time will benefit you. Always have at hand a list of expenses that you would like to have met so that whenever an opportunity arises, you are ready.

BE SOLUTION-ORIENTED. Often, the principal is faced with problems to solve. Those don’t usually come with suggested solutions. You want to identify the problem you are trying to address and how your proposed solution will help address it.

BE CONNECTED. The solution needs to be connected to the school’s improvement plans. It is not enough to say that you want to increase literacy by boosting circulation. You also need to be connected to your fellow teachers. Be sure that you have vetted your strategy with others.

BE SUCCINCT. Principles have very little time, so stay focused on the problem and solution. Most administrators need to know the following details in order to make a decision: What are we currently doing, what is the gap in performance, and what solution are you proposing? How will it address the gap, will it cost anything, and how will it impact teachers’ day-to-day work?

BE STUDENT-CENTERED. Most importantly, when talking to administrators, remember that they want to know how this solution will positively impact students. There is always a balancing act principals must play between adult-centered decisions and student-centered ones. Effective principals look for what will benefit students.

Administrators and school librarians are trying to provide the best education to create productive members of society. If you focus on addressing student needs with a plan in mind, the conversation will not be just about ideas but about action that can take place to address a need. You can work through the solution together, but you need to provide that starting point.

2015–16 Lilead Fellow David Blattner is chief technology officer and executive director of media and virtual learning for Iredell-Statesville (NC) Schools.

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Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/spontaneous-by-aaron-starmer-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/spontaneous-by-aaron-starmer-slj-review/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=189487 Starmer, Aaron. Spontaneous. 368p. Dutton. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525429746. 

Gr 10 Up –From the author of “The Riverman” trilogy comes a wholly original YA tale of identity, friendship, love, lust, and gory, grisly death. Covington High is facing a unique crisis: one by one, members of the senior class are spontaneously combusting, inexplicably blowing up in a mess of blood and guts. As the body count increases and the government gets involved, 12th grader [...]]]> redstarStarmer, Aaron. Spontaneous. 368p. Dutton. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525429746. YA-HS-Starmer-Spontaneous

Gr 10 Up –From the author of “The Riverman” trilogy comes a wholly original YA tale of identity, friendship, love, lust, and gory, grisly death. Covington High is facing a unique crisis: one by one, members of the senior class are spontaneously combusting, inexplicably blowing up in a mess of blood and guts. As the body count increases and the government gets involved, 12th grader Mara Carlyle attempts to figure out what’s going on, with the help of her best friend Tess and an FBI agent. This darkly hilarious, fast-paced title will have readers turning pages to uncover the mystery along with Mara, whose witheringly sarcastic first-person voice calls to mind Alice Roosevelt Longworth (“If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me”). Starmer excels at crafting delightfully bizarre situations and skewering current trends and pop culture tropes. He has compiled a diverse body of students whom he kills off with gusto. Underneath the humor, however, lie genuine emotions: Mara falls in love with loner Dylan, reevaluates her friendship with Tess, and examines herself and her own attitudes. While not all readers will warm to a narrator who so blithely disregards the adage against speaking ill of the dead, many will find it refreshing to encounter an unapologetically snarky female protagonist. Sexual situations and references to drug use make this more suitable for older teens. VERDICT Those who appreciate strange and unusual fare will gravitate to this explosive new offering; hand it to fans of Libba Bray, A.S. King, David Lubar, and Andrew Smith.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

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

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NanoBots by Chris Gall | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/nanobots-by-chris-gall-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/nanobots-by-chris-gall-slj-review/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:00:20 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=189484 Gall, Chris. NanoBots. illus. by Chris Gall. 40p. Little, Brown. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316375528. 

PreS-Gr 2 –Hard at work in his musty basement, a brilliant young inventor constructs a crew of mighty but minute NanoBots, each with its own special skill and the ability to change the world. For example, MechanoBots can infiltrate the “hardest-to-reach places” and fix anything with their built-in tool arrays; HeloBots utilize rotors to fly in swarms and can form [...]]]> redstarGall, Chris. NanoBots. illus. by Chris Gall. 40p. Little, Brown. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316375528. NanoBots by Chris Gall

PreS-Gr 2 –Hard at work in his musty basement, a brilliant young inventor constructs a crew of mighty but minute NanoBots, each with its own special skill and the ability to change the world. For example, MechanoBots can infiltrate the “hardest-to-reach places” and fix anything with their built-in tool arrays; HeloBots utilize rotors to fly in swarms and can form any shape needed; ChewBots gobble down “nasty, icky stuff” (e.g., ground-into-the-carpet bubble gum); and the MediBot patrols bodily nooks and crannies to repel “germy invaders.” Entered in a science fair, they are placed next to a giant-size robot (cobbled together from household items such as a bucket, plunger, and blow-dryer) and suddenly feel “very, very small.” However, when the Big Bot falls to pieces, it’s the NanoBots to the rescue. Exploding with energy and humor, Gall’s zoomed-in digitally created artwork conveys each miniscule machine’s personality and functionality. An author’s note introduces the science of nanorobotics and potential applications of devices with capabilities similar to the characters introduced here. VERDICT A pleasing amalgamation of imagination, STEM concepts, and superhero-style storytelling perfect for group reads and small group sharing.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

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

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Teens Review “A Week of Mondays,” Monster Fiction, and More http://www.slj.com/2016/08/teens-ya/teens-review-a-week-of-mondays-monster-fiction-and-more/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/teens-ya/teens-review-a-week-of-mondays-monster-fiction-and-more/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 11:30:29 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=191763 Groundhog Day–type YA, a monstrous tale, and more.]]> SLJ‘s teen reviewers cover Jessica Brody’s Groundhog Day–type YA, a monstrous tale, and more.

brody_mondays

BRODY, Jessica. A Week of Mondays. Farrar. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374382704. Gr 8 Up–Ellie’s an average good girl but when she messes up her relationship and gets dumped, she ends up reliving that day over again. In the end, she sees that what she needed and really wanted was right in front of her.

Well, I feel like the cover should have all her different looks, not just random looks. I feel like they should show her different school pictures. I love how she tries to make things right, but then she realizes that what she thought was right was all wrong!

It totally describes life and relationships for teenagers.—Madeline H., 15

ANOTHER TAKE

If anyone desires the title of best hater of Mondays it is Ellie. She has been reliving the worst Monday of her life over and over again just for her to realize that she can’t seem to keep her boyfriend, and he always seems to break up with her. Forget groundhogs, it is a revenge of the Mondays.

I like that for each of the Mondays, there is picture of Ellie with the look of the day. I think that the planner is also a nice touch showing the next day’s dates are changing, but the day isn’t.

I enjoyed the emotional rollercoaster that is living the same day over and over again. Not believing, trying to fix things and failing, doing something crazy just to get to tomorrow, giving up, and fixing the right things.—Samantha A., 15

GOSLEE, S.J. Whatever: Or How Junior Year Became Totally F$@cked. Roaring Brook. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626723993.
Gr 9 Up–
Mike Tate is excited for junior year. He has a great group of friends, a great family, and a great girlfriend. But then his girlfriend breaks up with him, and he starts to realize that he might not be straight. And this is only the tip of the iceberg in the comedy of errors that will become Mike’s junior year.

The cover of Whatever is hideous. It’s generic, and it looks like something you would do as a first Photoshop project in a high school photography class. It’s boring, bland, and there is nothing else to be said.

The most compelling aspect of this book is that the dialogue is actually fairly realistic. The characters sound like teenagers. They swear, but they don’t use ridiculous slang. They just sound like ordinary people. One of my main pet peeves with YA fiction is that so often the characters don’t sound realistic at all. However, in Whatever, the characters definitely did. They spoke like the sort of people one encounters on a daily basis in high school, and this was highly refreshing.

Whatever by S.J. GosleeHaving a bisexual main character was also equally refreshing, as bi characters usually show up in “issues books” rather than rom-coms and high school dramas.

The most disappointing thing about this book was that it felt so formulaic. It hit all the marks that most at least slightly comedic coming out stories do. There’s the “no way, I can’t be gay” main character, the supportive (read: pushy) female best friend, the surprise homophobic friend, the surprise supportive friend, and the-hate-to-love main relationship. It is territory that’s been covered much better in a lot of higher-quality books, to the point where I felt like I’d read Whatever before, even though it is a new release.

Additionally, there was a disturbing tendency for characters to handwave the main character’s bisexuality as a “phase” or him being “confused.” This went to the point of a major character telling Mike, the main character “no, you’re gay” when he told her he was bisexual. This just felt gross, creepy, and biphobic, which made the reading experience rather uncomfortable.

One of the weirdest things about this book was how much it felt like fanfic. Not in that it felt like the characters were borrowed from something, but in that it hit all the tropes of a generic High School AU. Additionally, the writing style, which was extremely low on physical descriptions, contributed to the fanficlike feel of the narrative. In all, Whatever was a rather odd and unfulfilling reading experience. Or maybe I’m just kind of sick of generic coming out realistic fiction stories when I look for LGBT fiction and want to read a fantasy novel or historical novel with major, plot important LGBT characters for once.—Ella W., 16

gray_gildedGRAY, Lucinda. The Gilded Cage. Holt. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627791816.
Gr 9 Up–Katherine and her brother, George, are swept away to the high society of England upon the sudden death of their obscure and previously unknown grandfather—a world very different from their farm in Virginia. But Katherine soon learns this new life is far from glamorous when her brother mysteriously drowns and despite everyone’s insistence that it was merely an accident, Katherine knows that foul play was involved– but who would believe a silly young girl on the verge of insanity with grief?

The cover did well to convey to the onlooker that the story takes place in the Victorian era, but any further reflection ends there. I personally don’t see how a woman in a navy dress facing an iron gate as snow falls around her is supposed to represent a murder mystery, but there may be some meaning that I fail to see. Regardless, I was not impressed with the choice of imaging.

The most compelling aspect of the story was the promise of a murder mystery, and it did not disappoint. Sixteen-year-old Katherine suddenly comes into massive fortune after the sudden death of her until recently unknown grandfather, only for her brother to drown shortly after their arrival to the estate. But who would believe a silly orphaned girl who claims foul play was involved when it easier to call it an accident?

The constant plot twists and cliffhangers had me burning through the pages with my free hand balled into a fist due to the suspense and social inequalities, but I do wish the story were a little more detailed, giving the characters more time to develop and keep readers guessing. Also [I would’ve liked if] the romantic moments [were] a little more believable.—Meghan S., 17

MILLS, Wendy. All We Have Left. Bloomsbury. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619633438.
Gr 7 Up–
This book is about two 16-year-old girls, Jessie and Alia. Both of them have a past over what happened in the 9/11 attacks.

I liked how the author used the 9/11 attacks in the story. What I didn’t like was the characters. The author wrote two stories about two girls. When I started reading the book, it was kind of boring. It started off with the story of Alia and it pretty much explained her morning and what she was going to wear.—Amy O., 18

ANOTHER TAKE         

All We Have LeftAll We Have Left is a story of family, forgiveness, and learning how to deal with the past. Taking place in both 2016 and 2001, it deals with the interconnected stories of two girls whose lives are dramatically impacted by 9/11 in very different ways.

The cover was okay, even if the color scheme was rather insipid. It’s a pretty generic “inspiring teen novel (TM)” cover, down to the purple and blue and the “oh-so-clever” double image that’s both a tree and the New York skyline. It’s utterly generic, and there’s really nothing else to say about it.

The most compelling element of this novel is that both of the characters’ points of view are quite complex. While Jesse’s decision to engage in hate speech is an utterly unsympathetic and disgusting one, she is portrayed very well as an ultimately good person who simply made a very bad decision that she is more than willing to pay the consequences for when she realizes what she’s done. Alia is also a very sympathetic character who behaves in a realistic manner in the face of the trauma of 9/11 and in her interactions with her parents, who she sees as overbearing. Considering that the novel is a character driven one, such sympathetic characters are a plus.

I was quite disappointed in this book because it seemed as if it was a middle-grade book that had been retooled for a high school audience, albeit not very well. The characters had high school student-esque discussions of sexual topics and relationships, but never swore, not even in interior monologues. I honestly do not know any student who would unironically say “eff you” unless they had some deep (and usually religious) compulsion against swearing. This does not seem to be the case with any of the characters in All We Have Left. Instead, they use substitute curses in an unrealistic jarring manner that jerked me out of the narrative every time one came up, and ultimately made the reading experience unpleasant. Additionally, the book was very much “Inspirational teen fiction (TM)”, and rather cloyingly uplifting at times.

To be quite honest, I actually found this book pretty dull, contrived, predictable, and juvenile. It seems more like a book that will be used in classrooms than something that teenagers will actually pick up, read, and enjoy. It’s just all kind of dull, and territory that has been tread before in better ways.—Ella W., 16

penaflor_unscriptedPEÑAFLOR, Lygia Day. Unscripted Joss Byrd. Roaring Brook. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626723696.
Gr 6 Up–From afar, it must look as if Joss Byrd has a perfect life. But up close, the life of a child actor can be hard and tough, as Joss has to remember again and again in her journey through the production of a new movie, The Locals.

I thought the cover was artsy but misleading. The book is about a sixth grader, but the girl on the cover looks like a high schooler. I liked the writing style. I thought it portrayed the way Joss would actually think in real life very well, because a lot of authors sometimes make younger characters sound more like adults. I also liked the setting; it was fun to imagine all the places in my mind as I was reading.

Some parts of the plot seemed a little weird to me. I think there could’ve been a little more drama around her dyslexia, because that didn’t really contribute much to the story other than making the lines harder to learn and memorize. I also thought it was strange how a lot of the cast and crew knew or must’ve suspected something was going on between Viva and Terrance but no one bothers to mention that when Terrance’s wife shows up. And I found it weird how Rodney stayed in character even when they weren’t shooting. And coming up and creeping out Joss and Chris would probably not be acceptable, especially if Joss was complaining and uncomfortable about it. Even if it’s to make his acting better, it just struck me as really weird. And Chris just meeting this random girl and having crew members and cast CHEER HIM ON to go sleep with her when he’s only in high school seems extremely weird to me. I know this is a lot of things, I just think the plot was a little off at times, like it could’ve been thought through better than it was.—Zoe D., 13

romney_MonsterROMNEY, J.P. The Monster on the Road Is Me. Farrar. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374316549.
Gr 7 Up–Koda is a boy living in a world with demons. Crows haunt the town of Kusaka playing with high schooler’s minds. A series of deaths lead Koda and his friends to face a merciless, eyeless demon in order to save the people of Kusaka.

The cover wasn’t as eye-catching as it could be. It looked like a novel about hunting. On the cover you could have something involving Japanese culture in it, like an illustration of Kusaka, or of Kotenbo.

The plot was very interesting, I loved the idea of crows haunting people’s minds. I really liked Moya, I was a little confused on what she was, (perhaps a goddess?), but I think that added some mystery to her.

I wanted to see more into Haru’s life and Yori’s life. But, overall the book as very good and I would recommended it to my friends.—Audrey H., 14

rubens_playlistRUBENS, Michael. The Bad Decisions Playlist. Clarion. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544096677.        
Gr 9 Up–
A teenager infatuated with drugs and girls is slacking off in school and making bad decisions that might lead him on the way to going to an Academy. But a stranger is now entering into this teenager’s life and maybe things might change.

The thing I like about the cover is I think that it truly speaks to what the book is about, with one thought bubble with a kid below it playing a guitar, which shows that this kid likes music but makes lots of bad decisions.

The plot is very straightforward. Austin Methune really has to focus on summer school, because if he doesn’t pass he’ll be going to an Academy. A stranger rolls into town and everything changes. I really like the plot because it really keeps you right on your feet with some interesting material. This book did not disappoint me in any way. Because unlike other books, this one was interesting at all times, with something new at every turn of the page.–Dante A., 17

SIROWY, Alexandra. The TellingSIROWY, Alexandra. The Telling. S. & S. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481418898.
Gr 8 Up–This book is about a small town island, and a high school girl dealing with her brother’s death. But then she starts to see reminders of him everywhere. I thought the cover was a little weird, but mysterious in a way that made you want to know what the book is about.

I thought that the plot was really interesting and made me keep on reading. Everything was so unexpected, but in a way that made sense. I thought that the ending was really crazy but satisfying if not a little bit violent.

I kind of wanted to hear more about Josh at the end, because the author portrayed it like the main character liked him and her stepbrother, but it wasn’t really clear what was happening between them at the end.—Kaitlyn H., 14

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As School Begins, Louisiana Endures Record Floods http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/as-school-begins-louisiana-endures-record-floods/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/industry-news/as-school-begins-louisiana-endures-record-floods/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 18:36:09 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=191901  

Soldiers conduct evacuations by boat during severe flooding in Tickfaw, LA on August 13, 2016. Photo: Army National Guard

Soldiers conduct evacuations by boat in Tickfaw, LA on August 13, 2016. Photo: Army National Guard

Two feet of rain in two days, dumping over seven trillion gallons of water. Over a quarter million people affected, with 40,000 homes destroyed and countless residents forced into shelters. Sadly, this isn’t a rehashing of Katrina and Rita, two devastating storms that forever changed Louisiana in 2005. It’s the flood of 2016, exactly 11 years later, which hit early this month just as kids were getting ready for the new school year. The amount of water dropped on the state was three times that of Katrina.

With the news coverage of this tragedy somewhat overshadowed by newes about the Olympics in Rio and the contentious race for the White House, Louisiana is suffering again, this time in Baton Rouge and Lafayette—and at the worst possible time. School had just resumed in early August when the rain began. Then the rivers rose and homes started to flood. “It came down off and on during the day on Thursday [August 11], but then a torrential downpour started that evening and continued all night and the entire next day,” says Tiffany Whitehead, upper and middle school librarian at Episcopal School in Baton Rouge. Whitehead returned to work on August 22, albeit under challenging circumstances. “Four world language classes are being housed in the library until their classrooms are restored. Everyone is working hard to overcome the obstacles faced by having a number of classrooms out of use. We are just thankful to be able to return to school and have some sense of normalcy for our students and faculty members,” Whitehead reports.

On Saturday, August 13, the Comite river crested at over 34 feet and the Amite river in Denham Springs hit 46 feet, the highest it’s ever been. Chrystal Gauthreaux, the librarian at Eastside Elementary School in Denham Springs, lives in Baton Rouge. She reports that 15 of the 46 schools in the district were flooded. “We started school on August 4, but have been out since the 12th.” The rain finally eased up on August 14.

Although some districts remain closed indefinitely (including one whose superintendent is living in a shelter), Louisiana state superintendent John White has said that most should reopen in two weeks, according to a Washington Post report. The biggest challenge in reopening schools is the fact that teachers and other essential personnel are themselves displaced.

The flood of 2016 wasn’t caused by hurricanes, as in 2005, but the feeling in Louisiana is eerily similar. “Back then we had panicked parents searching for housing and schools for their children,” says Tanya Bares, the librarian at St. James Episcopal Day School in downtown Baton Rouge. “This current situation is like a flashback to a very uncertain time 11 years ago.” Bares adds that her campus didn’t take on water, but the homes of many faculty, staff, and students were affected.

“We’re now dealing with a huge amount of backwater flooding because there’s no place for this rain to go,” says Whitehead. The homes of her parents, grandparents, and brother were all flooded. Whitehead’s school also sustained damage, including the foreign language department, two gyms, and classrooms attached to these buildings. “The school library at nearby Tanglewood Elementary, where I used to work, was flooded with nearly two feet of water,” she adds.

Water continues to creep up in both the St. James parish, which is south of Baton Rouge, and in parts of Acadiana, west of the city, explains Bares. “We still don’t know the extent of the loss, but experts are saying it could be worse than Katrina.” After a whole summer of working hard to get schools ready for kids, coping with the flood of 2016 has been overwhelming for school teachers and librarians. “I cannot imagine the heartbreak of so many who lost both their homes and their classrooms,” says Whitehead. For now, says Bares, the goal is to provide students a safe place to learn, even though where they are living may not be their home.

Meanwhile, schools are assessing the damage. Last week, officials returned to Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School, which took on almost four feet of water in its buildings, including a wing that had only just been spruced up with new paint and wallboard, according to news reports. The library was also overrun by hundreds of worms, covering the carpets. Officials at this high school and other affected institutions are in the process of finding temporary locations to hold classes.

Bares reports that the American Library Association, the American Association of School Libraries, and the Louisiana Library Association are mobilizing to determine which school libraries were hit the hardest. “It’s been a tough summer in Baton Rouge, with a lot of tension, but I’m proud of our city and how the community has come together to help during this disaster,” says Whitehead.

While many schools are not equipped at the moment to receive donations of books, Truman Early Education Center in Lafayette is, as Kate Messner reports. Cash donations can be made to the Red Cross, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, or Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana.


Editor Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a New York City mom of two who writes regularly for Parents.com and Highlights.

 

 

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Family, Magic, and Identity: Zoraida Córdova on “Labyrinth Lost” http://www.slj.com/2016/08/teens-ya/family-magic-and-identity-zoraida-cordova-on-labyrinth-lost/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/teens-ya/family-magic-and-identity-zoraida-cordova-on-labyrinth-lost/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 14:33:12 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=191758 Labyrinth Lost combines teen angst, Latinx traditions, and the power of love. SLJ caught up with the YA author to chat about her writing process, favorite characters, and more.]]> Photo by Sara Jane Jaramillo

Photo by Sara Jane Jaramillo

Zoraida Córdova’s Labyrinth Lost (Sourcebooks/Fire; Sept., 2016) combines teen angst, Latinx traditions, familial bonds, and the power of love to create a unique urban fantasy. SLJ caught up with the YA author to chat about her writing process, favorite characters, and more.

What inspired you to write Labyrinth Lost? Was this a project that you’ve been working on for a long time?

Labyrinth Lost was inspired by my love of fantasy worlds. I wanted to write about family, magic, and the search for identity. I also wanted to create a magical system that was inclusive of people of color. I’ve had different incarnations of Labyrinth Lost in the works, and even after we sold it 2014, it still went through many revisions. I have character drafts and notes that go back before that. It’s been in my mind for a long time, and now seems to be the perfect time for it.

How did you go about creating this complex world of the brujas (witches) and Los Lagos (the Underworld)?

I knew I didn’t want to take from preexisting mythologies. I started by creating a pantheon of gods for the brujas. I created their own form of praying and spells, called rezos and cantos. I tried to act like a magical cultural anthropologist and fill in the needs and gaps for the world I was creating. I wanted it to feel grounded in reality, but still new.

Alex’s love for her family is the heart of this novel. How did you go about constructing such nuanced relationships among the sisters and with her extended family?

That’s such a cultural thing. I come from a big Ecuadorian family. My mom and her brothers and sister are close. My cousins are my brothers and sisters. My grandmother is our heart and soul. The magic of Labyrinth Lost is generational and passed down by blood. In order for Alex to come to terms with her magic, she must understand her family and where she comes from. So I wanted to evoke a similar bond as the one I grew up with.

As referenced in the title, the novel has many points in which the protagonist is turned around and put in surprising situations. Did you have a specific method of keeping track of all the plot points and twist and turns?

I like to break scenes down and write them on post-its and index cards. I usually tape them to my wall, but sometimes I lay them out on my floor. I also color-code them. I know there are computer programs that can help me out with the same, but maybe I just need an excuse to buy office supplies. I also like to feel like I have physical control in moving these scenes around.

YA-HS-Corvado-Labyrinth LostThere’s some obvious chemistry between Alex and Nova. There are also some sparks flying between Alex and her best friend Rishi. I love that Alex’s possible bisexuality was a nonissue. Did you always intend to include this “untraditional” love triangle?

I’d like to see more sexual orientations represented as a nonissue. I know this is dependent on the kind of social circles and regions people grow up in this country. When I wrote Alex and Nova, my intention was to write an antilove story. That was the very first incarnation of Labyrinth Lost. In a way, the love triangle is more like an acute angle than a closed triangle. I wanted to keep love out of this because my main concentration is Alex’s family and rescuing them. Still, the more edits that went into the book, the more I developed the motivations of each character. I realized that there is so much love in Alex’s heart. Nova and Rishi just bring out different kinds of love.

Which character was your favorite to write? Which one was the most difficult? Which do you identify with the most?

My favorite character to write is Lula, Alex’s sister. Lula is carefree, beautiful, and confident. She’s unapologetic in everything she does. But something tragic happens to her that shatters that confidence. Book two in the “Brooklyn Brujas” series is going to be her story, and that’s going to be a lot of fun for me to explore.

My most difficult character to write was Nova. He’s got some edges that will never be smoothed out. He’s morally ambiguous and a survivor. That doesn’t always make for a good ally.

I identify with Alex in a lot of ways. I grew up with a single mother and a little brother. But we had a large family network that never made me feel as if I was missing a paternal figure. My mother, like Alex’s mother, is extremely selfless and hardworking. Alex’s culture is her magic, and it takes her a long time to connect with that. I felt the same way when I was in high school trying to figure out my place in the world. Sometimes I couldn’t write Alex because it felt too close.

You’re also one of the cofounders of “Latinxs in Kidlit” blog. Now a few years since its foundation, how do you feel about the website’s reception and impact on publishing?

I feel really proud of what we’ve accomplished. Cindy Rodriguez, Sujei Lugo, Lila Quintero, and everyone just work well together. They put a great effort in keeping this site going. As we move forward, it’s important to make sure that books by and about Latinx are accessible for those looking for them. We’ve always been here. It’s just a matter of getting the books in the hands of readers. As long as people keep reading the blog, we’ll keep running it.

What words of advice would you give young aspiring authors of color?

Don’t worry about the market. Write the book of your heart, and the market will follow you.

You’ve written about mermaids and also some new adult titles. Are the writing experiences different in comparison to writing Labyrinth Lost?

The Vicious Deep was a book I desperately wanted to write. The story of Tristan and his quest was very organic for me. I wrote it because it was the story I wanted to read. My romance novels in the “On the Verge” series were so much fun to write. I wanted to tell the story of twentysomething women who are looking for their place in the world, and the men who love them. I wanted to write about “unlikable” and strong women. With Labyrinth Lost, I needed to tell that story. I’m glad I get to write more installments for the “Brooklyn Brujas.”

What are working on next?

Right now I’m working on [the second installment of] the “Brooklyn Brujas” series. I also have some proposals I’m working on. I have so many stories I want to tell. I wish there were more hours in the day!

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Motor Miles by John Burningham | SLJ Review http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/motor-miles-by-john-burningham-slj-review/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/books/motor-miles-by-john-burningham-slj-review/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=189480 Burningham, John. Motor Miles. illus. by John Burningham. 32p. Candlewick. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763690649. 

PreS-Gr 2 –After Alice Trudge and her son Norman give Miles a home, they realize he is a difficult dog. Miles doesn’t like walks, other dogs, or much of anything except car rides. The next-door neighbor solves the problem by building the pup his own car. Once Miles masters driving, he takes Norman to school and on trips in the [...]]]> redstarBurningham, John. Motor Miles. illus. by John Burningham. 32p. Candlewick. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763690649. Motor Miles by John Burningham

PreS-Gr 2 –After Alice Trudge and her son Norman give Miles a home, they realize he is a difficult dog. Miles doesn’t like walks, other dogs, or much of anything except car rides. The next-door neighbor solves the problem by building the pup his own car. Once Miles masters driving, he takes Norman to school and on trips in the countryside. In fact, Miles’s whole attitude improves. When Norman grows too big for the car, Miles stops driving. Adventures seem to be over until Norman and Miles discover their neighbor’s new building project: an airplane. The matter-of-fact narration makes the story of a car-driving dog entirely believable. The watercolor, pen, and pastel illustrations perfectly capture Miles’s postures and expressions to reveal his opinions and emotions. The spreads of the two friends traveling through panoramas of the four seasons underscore their joy and camaraderie. VERDICT This whimsical tale of friendship will delight Burningham fans and deserves serious consideration for a place in most collections.–Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University Library, Mankato

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

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When Book Sharing Backfires|Scales on Censorship http://www.slj.com/2016/08/censorship/when-book-sharing-backfiresscales-on-censorship/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/censorship/when-book-sharing-backfiresscales-on-censorship/#comments Mon, 22 Aug 2016 13:49:17 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=190314 I will finish my library degree this summer and would like to work in a school library. I’ve interviewed with three principals. I asked about the school district’s selection policy, and none knew of one. This makes me very nervous. How should I approach this?
Good for you for asking the question. It is troubling that the principals aren’t aware of a selection policy, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Board policy manuals should be available in the administrative office and the library of every school. Ask to see it, and take the time to read the policy. Your question and request may help these principals focus on more than filling a position.

I’m an elementary librarian in a private Christian school. A first grade teacher asked students to bring their favorite book to share. One brought in a “Captain Underpants” title. A parent lodged a complaint because she doesn’t think the school should be endorsing the book. The teacher’s contract wasn’t renewed. How do I help calm a faculty that’s nervous about the outcome of this complaint?
Asking children to share favorite books isn’t an endorsement of a particular title. It is a good way to get students engaged in reading, but if the school is so concerned about what is shared, then there is another way to approach the assignment. Teachers could ask students to select their favorite book from the school library and share it. I’m assuming that the library collection reflects the Christian principles of the school. That said, I think there’s more to this case. My bet is there were other issues, and the administration used this complaint as the final straw needed to terminate the teacher.

Let the administration know that the faculty is nervous and needs reassurance. This should be addressed in a faculty meeting at the beginning of the school year.

An eighth grade social studies teacher requires her students to read and write an analysis of current events. She told them they couldn’t use Internet news articles. We do provide the local newspaper, but we don’t have the budget for magazine subscriptions. I asked the teacher to alter her assignment, and she blamed the library for not subscribing to the resources she needs.
There are many ways that school libraries can provide the necessary resources for students to complete assignments. Databases at most public libraries may be remotely accessed with a public library card. Ask a public librarian to come to the school and take student applications for cards. Then show them how to access articles they need.

Suggest to the teacher that she bring her students to the library for training in how to identify reliable and balanced Internet news articles. This is good training that will serve them well now and for future assignments.

Many schools allow faculty to post material and supply needs on the school website. Appeal to parents to donate news magazines, or ask a civic organization to chip in and help. By no means get into an argument about fault. It’s always best to offer a solution to a problem. Otherwise, the real losers are the students.

I’m a librarian in a public library near a university. Many of our patrons are faculty and their families. The parents tend to think their children are “gifted” and complain that storytime isn’t challenging for preschoolers. I recently read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems. A parent filed a complaint, saying that it was too simple. Now this parent follows me around while I suggest books for children to borrow.
This is a common problem. Let all parents know that pre-school children, regardless of how “gifted” they are, have short attention spans in a group situation. They may sit for a much longer period when a parent reads to them. You should tell them that your goal is to introduce children to age-appropriate books that are “too good to miss,” ones that children respond to with great delight.

Lead parents to classic picture books such as Make Way for Ducklings that have more text. Suggest that they choose a book to read together, and one, or several, that the child chooses. This way, everyone wins.

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Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World To Play | SLJ DVD Review http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/multimedia/bounce-how-the-ball-taught-the-world-to-play-slj-dvd-review/ http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/multimedia/bounce-how-the-ball-taught-the-world-to-play-slj-dvd-review/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.slj.com/?p=189477 Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World To Play. 71 min. Dist. by Alexander Street. 2015. $295. ISBN unavail. 

Gr 9 Up –Director Jerome Thelia’s insightful documentary delves into our instinctual drive to play ball and explores how this fundamental need crosses cultures, time, and even species, whether players use a ball made from plastic bags, rags, and twine or the factory-made spheres thrown and kicked on million-dollar playing fields. Human and animal subjects share screen time in locales [...]]]> redstarBounce: How the Ball Taught the World To Play. 71 min. Dist. by Alexander Street. 2015. $295. ISBN unavail. Bounce How the Ball Taught the World To Play DVD

Gr 9 Up –Director Jerome Thelia’s insightful documentary delves into our instinctual drive to play ball and explores how this fundamental need crosses cultures, time, and even species, whether players use a ball made from plastic bags, rags, and twine or the factory-made spheres thrown and kicked on million-dollar playing fields. Human and animal subjects share screen time in locales as varied as Orkney, Scotland, and the Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While each narrative offers the audience a fresh perspective, the cumulative effect provides the film with its sense of cohesion. Lending authority to the production are numerous experts in the fields of primatology, sociology, anthropology, and neuroscience. Each finds significance in how ball playing affects our collective lives, particularly as it pertains to brain development and the evolution of communication and socialization skills. An animated retelling of an ancient Scottish myth and sequences of juggler Michael Moschen’s hypnotically beautiful feats of dexterity blend in with David McLain’s lush cinematography. The world music score complements the stunning visuals. VERDICT The prohibitive cost may be too steep for many libraries, limiting the availability of this fascinating and thought-provoking documentary, though it’s highly recommended for library systems where budgets are ample. It will resonate with audiences of all ages.–Audrey Sumser, Akron-Summit County Public Library, OH

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

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