School Library Journal The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Sat, 23 Aug 2014 16:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dig It! Library Gardens Sprout Up Coast-to-Coast Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:00:54 +0000 SLJ1408w FT Gardens Opener Dig It! Library Gardens Sprout Up Coast to Coast

Photo by Grace Hwang Lynch

At the Nature Explorium in Centereach, New York, children can taste and smell flowers and herbs, build boats and float them down a creek, and try playing musical instruments from different cultures. This is not an amusement park or a private museum with a pricey entrance fee. Rather, the Nature Explorium is part of the Middle Country Public Library (MCPL) in Centereach and is free to all patrons. The 5,000-square-foot outdoor garden and learning space is a dramatic example of how libraries are creating gardens to expand their mission.

A little dirt under the fingernails can go a long way toward teaching nutritional literacy and environmental awareness. Library gardens also provide opportunities for literary tie-ins or a primer on aquaponic farming. Other times, these oases simply offer a place to rejuvenate the soul.

“It’s a way to get patrons into the library,” says Tracy LaStella, coordinator for youth services at MCPL. “We’re all struggling with that all the time, and having an outdoor space or outdoor programs is another way to reach people in the community.”

Opened in 2010 after three years of planning, MCPL’s Nature Explorium was a forerunner in bringing outdoor learning to libraries. LaStella says MCPL’s innovative atmosphere made it relatively easy to find support among local businesses and civic organizations. Half of the garden’s $300,000 start-up cost came from donors or grants. Some of the fundraising efforts tied into the love of literature, such as the library’s Book Path initiative, in which individual donors could purchase a brick inscribed with the name of their favorite book or a quote. The other half of the funding came from the library’s general budget. The Nature Explorium is now host to a variety of programs, such as a poetry-themed Haiku Hike, nature journaling workshops, and a sensory garden full of herbs.

SLJ1408w FT Gardens Middle County Dig It! Library Gardens Sprout Up Coast to Coast

Young gardeners at the Nature Explorium,
a 5,000-square-foot garden and learning space
at the Middle County Public Library in Centereach, New York.
Courtesy of Middle Country Public Library

Fostering nutritional literacy

The concept of gardening at libraries is taking root, so to speak, as librarians reexamine their role in their communities and a changing society. “The definition of literacy has been greatly expanding over the years,” says Helen Bloch, children’s librarian at the Oakland Public Library (OPL) in California. Bloch and other librarians see a dearth of knowledge about nature and nutrition among their youngest patrons. Seminars about garden programs are increasingly popular at regional library conferences.

“Libraries are meeting the needs of the community. One of the needs is sustainable food and living,” says Abbe Klebanoff, head of public services at the Lansdowne Public Library (LPL), located in a Philadelphia suburb. “Ours is supposed to be a sustainable demonstration of food production.”

Across the country, librarians have encountered children who didn’t know that food grows in the ground, but also kids who are willing to try a new vegetable for the first time simply because they grew it themselves. Pizza, salsa, or salad gardens—in which ingredients for those dishes are grown, harvested, and prepared at the end of summer—are popular programs. “I’ve seen a kid pick up a piece of raw kale, eat it, and pronounce it delicious,” says Karen McIntyre, a librarian at the Westmeade Elementary School in Nashville, Tennessee.

In urban Oakland, many library patrons live in apartments without yards for planting. “I really think literacy is not just encouraging families to read,” says Bloch, “but also providing a physical space so families with varied interests and varied cultures can gather.”

The need for children to connect with nature is evident across the economic and geographical spectrum. Kimberly Alberts, children’s and teen librarian at the Hudson Library and Historical Society (HLHS), located in a suburb of Akron, Ohio, notes, “In an affluent area where [kids] have access to all the technology, it’s good for them to experience the roots of being kids and experiencing the outdoors.”

Small-space gardens

While most facilities don’t have the land or budget to create a Nature Explorium, many are implementing gardening programs tailored to their resources and demographics. Patios or courtyards adjacent to children’s reading rooms can be turned into gardens with raised planting beds or large pots. Alberts says, “No matter what kind of space you have, whether you’re in the middle of a downtown urban library or if you have a beautiful reading area, this is something you can do.”

Some innovative gardens do not even require dirt. At the Cranbury School in Cranbury, New Jersey, media specialist Kelly Fusco started an aquaponics program in the cafeteria. A large tank houses goldfish, while mint, basil, and bell peppers grow in a mixture of rocks and water. These plants, along with strawberries grown in small pots, get nutrients from fish waste, and the system is replenished with rain water. First- and fourth-graders work together to feed the fish and monitor the plants.

SLJ1408w FT Gardens Middle County Dig It! Library Gardens Sprout Up Coast to Coast

The Middle County Public Library aims to make literacy, learning,
and appreciation for nature all part of children’s library experience.
Courtesy of Middle Country Public Library

Curricular tie-ins

For many libraries, gardening enhances existing programming rather than standing alone as a separate activity. At OPL, the garden outside the children’s room entrance was an offshoot of a 2013 summer reading program called “Reading Is So Delicious.” The outdoor reading programs take place on Thursday afternoons, immediately following the free lunch served by the Alameda County Food Bank every weekday. While garden themes often revolve around cooking, programs can also help launch lessons about Native Americans or flora and fauna, such as HLHS’s Butterfly Garden.

While many schools have already implemented gardens as part of their science or general curricula, school librarians often take the lead. McIntyre came up with the idea for a garden after talking with Westmeade Elementary’s physical education teacher, who was concerned about the students’ poor diets and inactivity. McIntyre says, “Many places are still fighting the battle to use the library as an integral part of the overall school curriculum.”

Planted in 2009, the Westmeade garden now inspires many educational tie-ins. “I use the garden with English literature, writing, journaling, and observing differences over time,” McIntyre explains. “It connects in ways far beyond science.” She also takes advantage of the garden to reinforce local culinary culture, hosting a fried green tomato party each year.

Seed money

Libraries commonly rely on grants and local fundraisers to fund gardens. The HLHS container garden was started with plants donated by a local garden center, planted in pots borrowed from staff. LPL started a “Bookworm” program two years ago with a $500 grant from a local nonprofit organization, the Lansdowne Yeadon Elm Street Program. During library seminars, children make healthy snacks and feed the leftovers to the red wiggler worms, which create compost. Klebanoff says, “We had all this compost, so I thought, ‘Why don’t we do a library garden?’”

With another $500 grant from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Klebanoff used the compost produced by the library wriggler “bookworms” to plant tomatoes, peppers, and herbs in a small outdoor garden. While introducing many children to the tastiness of fresh vegetables, the garden also serves as an outdoor setting for the library’s popular story time, an opportunity to teach young patrons more about nature.

OPL was awarded an $8,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The library used it to purchase gardening supplies and 300 new books, marked with stickers that indicate they are part of the gardening program, as well as hiring an instructor for weekly gardening lessons.

SLJ1408w FT Gardens Cranbury Dig It! Library Gardens Sprout Up Coast to Coast

At the Cranbury (NJ) School, fish tank water cycles through a watering
and irrigation system for strawberries, peppers, mint, and basil.
Courtesy of The Cranbury School

How to ensure a lasting harvest

Gardening and nature groups with local chapters, such as Master Gardener and Horticulture Society organizations, have been key resources for library gardens. Some regional library conferences—such as the Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California or the Northeast Ohio Regional Library System—have also included gardening presentations. Veterans of library and school gardens say that growing a program slowly and gathering community support is crucial to long-term success. Since 1971, the Hacienda Science Magnet School in San Jose, California, has maintained a garden that blossomed into a one-acre outdoor classroom. Kevin Keedy, science resource teacher at Hacienda, stresses the importance of having a committed group of volunteers, as well as staff, to oversee the long-term vision. “It’s easy to get a grant to start stuff, but you need someone to keep it going,” he says.

Many librarians start off as their gardens’ sole caretakers. With a staff of only two at LPL, Klebanoff watered and turned the soil mostly by herself last summer. This year, she has seven youth volunteers. “A couple kids who helped last year said they ended up enjoying it and wanted to continue,” she says. “They also said they were going to bring friends!”

Because teachers and librarians are often overburdened, McIntyre says that it’s key to notice people who show interest, and nurture a core group of volunteers. She does this by inviting families to a spring garden picnic, when people sign up to water and weed during the summer.

Such activities, McIntyre says, illustrate a fundamental, shared quality of both libraries and gardens. “It ties back to the basic premise that the library is a place you go for refreshment of your soul,” she says. “Whatever you need to learn, you go there to find out. It opens up this whole amazing developmental idea. To me, that’s what a library has always been.”

Grace Hwang Lynch (@HapaMamaGrace) is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has also been published on PBS Parents, Salon, BlogHer, and xoJane.

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A Photo Gallery of Six Library Gardens Fri, 22 Aug 2014 19:50:43 +0000 Garden3 225x300 A  Photo Gallery of Six Library GardensWhile researching our August, 2014 feature article “Dig It!,” about library gardens, we heard from a wide group of librarians undertaking inventive gardening projects with children. Here’s a photo gallery of what they were up to over this summer and last, along with descriptions.

C. Burr Artz Public Library, Frederick County, MD

Details from Stephanie Long, assistant children’s services supervisor: I started the garden last summer, 2013, on the terrace at the library in an effort to introduce inner-city children to the concept. Carly Reighard, a library associate in my branch, helped me with the project last year and this year. I had just come down to the main, urban branch in my system that January from a small, rural one. We have a lovely outdoor terrace on the second floor of my library, so it seemed the perfect spot.

We have three beds that we maintain: a corn and carrot bed, an herb bed, and a flower and veggie bed. The children came in May to help us plant the seeds and make signs to mark the dirt. They come every other Monday to help weed, water, and harvest. We start all of the programs with a garden-related book, an explanation of what’s growing, and a short tutorial on how we weed and harvest the garden. Once we weed and/or harvest, we let them water the garden. The program is designed for those aged three and up, so it’s not perfect. There are some carrots growing really close to the corn, but it’s grown very well this year, and the kids have been have a blast helping us with it.

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Ames Public Library, Ames, IA

Details from Anastasia Tuckness, library assistant, youth services: We had a library garden last summer, from May through September, 2013. We used a plot in our city’s Community Garden that was 10 by 40 feet, which was huge! The Community Garden is located a few blocks from our library. We started it because we needed to do outdoor programming for the summer, since our building was under renovation, and it fit so well with the summer theme, “Dig into Reading.” We held weekly morning work sessions and monthly evening programs. We didn’t have a lot of attendance, and it was a lot of work, but we enjoyed it, and so did the people who came.

We kept a blog of the garden’s progress.

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Orlando Public Library, Orlando, FL

Details from Diane Norris-Kuczynski, assistant head of youth services: The Orland Park Public Library has only one main library, located one block west of a major thoroughfare. As you can see from the  photos below, the seven containers are situated near our benches in the front of the library.  Although patrons have full access to the plants, they have never been picked, poked, or vandalized in any way.

This is the third year of our garden. We have grown strawberries, potatoes, carrots, assorted herbs, beans, peas, and peppers. The children in my environmental club care for the plants and are rewarded by harvesting the vegetables and herbs. I have to say, I have learned as much as the children have from this wonderful project. We learned this year that potatoes develop “berries” after flowering. These berries contain seeds that can be dried and used to plant new potatoes next year.

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Shreve Memorial Library, Atkins Branch, Shreveport, LA

Details from Anika Parsons, assistant branch manager/adult services librarian: The gardening program was created because I have a history of gardening in my own family. I thought that it would be great to give the patrons of the library a look into the history, benefits, the “do not’s” and how-to’s of gardening. Although there are so many things that can be learned from this experience, I thought that the most important lessons to be learned were about “Earthly Goodness” and “How to Garden Anywhere,” the names of two programs we ran. They were comprised of bi-weekly informational and directional programs that coincided with the actual planting, upkeep, and harvesting of our own garden.

We invited master gardeners, culinary professionals, herbalists, and many others to give the participants a wealth of information from soil testing, water conservation, and pollution, to healthy eating choices and how to prepare these organically grown goodies. This is the second year that we have had a community garden and have planted and harvested crops throughout the entire year, with a focus on introducing new vegetables and fruit to the community. This program was devised with the entire family in mind and has yielded great fruit.

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Matheson Memorial Library, Elkhorn, WI

Details from Jennifer Wharton, youth services librarian: The gardens began as part of our “We Explore” program series and were initially funded with budget money and as part of a grant from United Way. It is a collaborative project with the Elkhorn Area School District and Parent Connections Programs. We started this summer with three pizza gardens (tomatoes, peppers and basil) and with pumpkins. We plan to co-write a grant in the fall to expand the gardens next year.

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Alameda County Library, Centerville Branch, Fremont, CA

Details from Annabelle Blackman, librarian II, Fremont Main-Children’s Dept, and a Girl Scout Troop Parent Leader:

The front of the library has been re-landscaped with drought-tolerant plants and a new bubbler (water-saving) system. Girl scouts helped with a landscape plant proposal and worked side by side with city workers on planting and irrigation system. The Fremont City Park Superintendent invited the troop to be part of this year’s Arbor Day declaration and tree planting.

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‘If I Stay’ Needs a Pulse | Film Review Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:37:45 +0000 If I Stay Mia and Adam resize If I Stay Needs a Pulse | Film Review

Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Adam (Jamie Blackley). All photos courtesy of Doane Gregory.

If any film adaptation of a young adult novel cries out for an omnipresent voiceover, it’s If I Stay. Though some of the smart, droll banter from Gayle Forman’s best seller (Dutton, 2009) has been lifted from the page onto the screen, the voice of the protagonist, classical music geek Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz), comes off as taciturn and a bit sullen, with her sarcasm toned-down and minus her razor-sharp observations, such as in Moretz’s prior performances in Kick-Ass and its sequel—and even her guest stint on 30 Rock. She also becomes like the young women Mia derides in the book—the ones who put their boyfriends first and who say “we” instead of “I.” Her romance with older rocker Adam overwhelmingly takes up most the screen time, to the neglect of all else, though the setup is more dramatic than this case of first love.

The storyline remains an attention grabber, filmed in a wintry, overcast Vancouver doubling for Portland, Oregon. Taking advantage of a snow day, Mia takes to the road with her family—her hipster rocker parents and little brother—for a snowboarding trip, when their car collides with a truck. Her mother is instantly killed and the others have been gravely injured. In a slightly supernatural twist, Mia has an out-of-body experience. Unscathed, she observes the rescuers trying to save her and her family, though no one can see or feel her—it’s not quite Ghost; Mia can’t walk through walls. Her corporeal body lies comatose and is whisked off to a hospital, and the spectral teen hops into the ambulance with her body. In the operating room, a nurse whispers in the injured Mia’s ear that it’s up to her if she wants to continue living (“You control this whole thing”), cueing the flashbacks of her life pre-accident and especially her on-and off-again relationship with Adam. The plot unfolds like a remix tape that could be labeled “My So-Called Wonderful Life.”

If I Stay Adam If I Stay Needs a Pulse | Film Review

Adam is played by Jamie Blackley.

Tall, lean, and speaking in a monotone, Adam (Jamie Blackley) is the perfect boyfriend—maybe too much so. He makes the first move, asking out the jeans-and-sweater cellist Mia, who loves Beethoven, not Bieber, and attempts to understand classical music. He doesn’t cheat, and he fluently “rock-talks” (as Forman calls it) with Mia’s folks. He’s also  a bit bland.

Overall, the life-or-death urgency is underpowered, when a few jolts are needed: the car accident is also underplayed, taking place off screen and not depicted nearly as graphically as in the book. Forman’s Mia memorably describes the hospital cafeteria and vividly paints a picture of her angel-loving, eccentric grandmother. On screen, the hospital setting is antiseptic and most of the supporting characters are nondescript. Readers get to know Mia’s world; for viewers, it’s all about Mia and Adam. Forman’s first-person prose flows over the course of 24 hours, but the film stops and starts, with the scenes between Mia and Adam dragging the pace. The actors, though earnest, give off low-flying sparks. After they have a precipitous falling out, Mia describes the days afterward as “brutal.” “Listless” might be more fitting.

Through no fault of Moretz’s performance, Mia’s priorities come off a little skewed. In the source material, Mia has empathy even for the driver who causes the fatal collision; there’s no such reflection here. Viewers could be forgiven if they have forgotten that both of her parents have perished. In some ways, so has the movie. Inadvertently, Mia comes off as self-centered as the film builds to answering the questions: Has she been accepted at Julliard? Will she move to New York City, with or without Adam? One could say, she’s dying to know—but the audience is probably less so as the film gently treads to the dried-eyed conclusion.

If I Stay opens in theaters on Friday, August 22.

Directed by R. J. Cutler

Rated PG-13

106 min.

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Award-Winning Author Elaine Marie Alphin Dies at 58 Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:39:25 +0000 Elaine Marie Alphin Award Winning Author Elaine Marie Alphin Dies at 58

Elaine Marie Alphin

Elaine Marie Alphin, a celebrated and award-winning children’s book and young adult writer, died August 19, following a long illness. She was 58.

Alphin, whose maiden name was Bonilla, was born in 1955 in San Francisco. Her aspirations to become a writer started early, when she was three years old. She and her father spent many hours walking together and and telling each other stories, an experience that cemented her desire to become a writer.

After attending Rice University in Texas, Alphin received a Watson Research Fellowship, a grant given to graduating college seniors to fund independent study and travel outside the United States. Alphin spent the next year in England, doing research for a novel she was writing about Richard III and his murder of his nephews. She assumed she would write fiction for adults, but she when met Arthur Alphin, whom she would later marry, he encouraged her to consider writing for a younger audience. She took the advice, turning her Richard III story into a work for middle-grade readers, Tournament of Time (Bluegrass, 1994).

Alphin made her publishing debut in 1991 with the middle-grade Ghost Cadet (Holt), the story of a boy named Benjy who helps the ghost of a cadet who died in the Civil War find a missing watch. The book was popular and resulted in a follow-up, Ghost Soldier (Holt, 2001).

CounterfeitSon Award Winning Author Elaine Marie Alphin Dies at 58Alphin also wrote for young adults, including Picture Perfect (Lerner, 2002) and The Perfect Shot (Carolrhoda, 2006). She addressed some dark, serious themes in age-appropriate ways. Counterfeit Son (Harcourt, 2000), which SLJ described as a “solidly written, fast-paced read,” centers on the 14-year-old son of a serial killer who targeted young boys. After suffering abuse and neglect from his father, the protagonist takes on the identity of one of his father’s victims. The novel was one of Alphin’s most successful YA works. It earned her the 2001 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery and was named a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

In Simon Says (Harcourt, 2002), Alphin developed a story about a talented and artistic teenager at a boarding school attempting to express himself through his paintings. The book also explored a same-sex relationship between the protagonist and another student. Alphin started writing the book in 1977 when she herself was struggling with the idea of becoming an artist, and Simon Says has resonated with readers more than any of Alphin’s other works, according to a 2007 interview with author Cynthia Leitich Smith.

ABearforMiguel Award Winning Author Elaine Marie Alphin Dies at 58Alphin’s creativity and enthusiasm for writing were noted by those who knew and worked with her. Shannon Barefield, former editorial director of Carolrhoda Books, who edited several of Alphin’s titles, told SLJ, “Working with Elaine was a joy because she cared with every fiber of her being about creating the best possible literature for young peoples—and she had the talent to match that passion. As a writer, she was the real deal, a creative wordsmith with a brilliant knack for storytelling. As a human being, she had a vitality and a generosity of spirit that I saw reflected in her relationships, her strong convictions, and most certainly her books.”

Alphin also wrote books for very young readers, such as A Bear for Miguel (1996) and Dinosaur Hunter (2003, both HarperCollins). Though her novels were well received, she was also noted for her quality nonfiction, including History Makers: Dwight Eisenhower (Lerner, 2004), which she cowrote with her husband, and Germ Hunter: A Story about Louis Pasteur (Carolrhoda, 2003), a Bank Street College Children’s selection. Andrew Karre, editorial director of Carolrhoda Books, who worked with Alphin on An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank (Carolrhoda, 2010), praised her: “I only got to work on one book with [Alphin], but I got to know her as a skillful writer, a dedicated researcher, and a human being with a keen eye for injustice. It’s a loss for readers everywhere that [she] didn’t get to tell more stories.”

In addition to her writing, Alphin was also an enthusiastic supporter of her fellow writers and an active voice on SLJ’s blogs. She was involved in writing workshops, conferences, and retreats. She also wrote a book for adults on the art of crafting children’s literature, Creating Characters Kids Will Love (Writer’s Digest, 2000).

Karen Grove, consulting editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, worked with Alphin on many of her novels. “[Alphin] was one of those authors editors dream about,” she told SLJ. “[She was] passionate about literacy and writing for children, always cheerful, and exceedingly interested and caring about everyone around her. She could brighten a day with nothing more than a call to say hello or an unexpected card in the mail. Some of my fondest memories are of the long conversations we had about family, books, [and] current events. Elaine had an incredible spirit, and she will be greatly missed by many.”

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Ferguson Public Library Offers Lessons for Students in Limbo Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:29:44 +0000 FergusonTwitter crop Ferguson Public Library Offers Lessons for Students in Limbo

On Aug. 15, the Ferguson Library tweeted this photo. Photo courtesy of Ferguson Library’s Instagram feed.

According to an August 20 article on, “teachers have set up shop… [in the library] providing activities and instruction for children awaiting the start of class.”

At present, the Ferguson-Florissant School District in Missouri has postponed the start  of school for  over a week—the first day was scheduled for August 14—leaving students in a state of limbo.

The Ferguson Library “has used Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to offer residents a place of respite for them to get bottled water, check their emails, and avoid the unrest developing on Ferguson’s streets,” according to the same article, since  the recent unrest  in Ferguson, after the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed  black teenager, by a Ferguson policeman on August 9.

On August 20, “about 120 children showed up to the library for lessons and activities, though staff only expected about 60. Teachers also began hosting classes in the nearby First Baptist Church.”


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A Mystery Unravels | Touch and Go Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:58:10 +0000 Prepare to spend time with this app. On opening it you’ll find yourself in a labyrinth and a mystery, and it’s up to you to decide where the story goes. Download the first chapter (it’s free) and experience the adventure described below.

loose strands 225x300 A Mystery Unravels | Touch and GoRoland Bartholomew Dexter III lives a life of rigid rules and inflexible routines. His family runs a barbershop that, oddly, has only one customer. The boy works in the shop sweeping the floor and, because his family is so poor, helps to recycle the hair into everything his family needs from clothing to (gross!) dinner (hairburgers, toupée brûlée, anyone?). The most important rule, according to his parents, is that Roland never ever go outside. The boy begins considering the possibility that his family is trapped and that the rules are meant to keep them inside. Soon, however, thanks to a visit from a girl named Becky, Roland discovers that his dreams of the outside may well be the key to saving his family.

photo1 225x300 A Mystery Unravels | Touch and Go

Screen from ‘Loose Strands’ (Darned Sock) Frizzell

In the vein of the wildly popular stories in which readers are able to dictate the direction the story takes, Markian Moyes’s Loose Strands (Darned Sock Productions, $4.99; Gr 3-6) illustrated by Jeff Frizzell, allows viewers choices at certain story junctures. Each decision has ramifications, of course. Once a decision is made, a story map flashes onto the screen. The map, a seemingly endless grid, has lines circling through the boxes indicating the pages readers have already visited. When a choice eliminates certain avenues, those boxes are filled in.

With text pages that can turn in any direction and richly drawn, often animated illustrations that are reminiscent of Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black’s artistic style in The Spiderwick Chronicles (S & S), readers will delight in this intricate, interactive story that unfolds, and changes, along a strand of hair. From start to finish it’s a long trip, but once children have completed the story, chances are they will want to go back and explore all its possible outcomes.Wayne R. Cherry, Jr., First Baptist Academy, Houston, TX

For additional app reviews visit our Touch and Go webpage.

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Chicago Public School Librarian K.C. Boyd: The Heartbeat of Her School Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:37:40 +0000 KCBoyd resize Chicago Public School Librarian K.C. Boyd: The Heartbeat of Her School

Wendell Phillips Academy school librarian KC Boyd

When librarian K.C. Boyd first came to Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago in 2010, it was ranked second to last among schools in Illinois. Since then, according to a June 2012 WGN news broadcast about the high school, its overall test scores have jumped, especially in reading: 18.2 percent of students are meeting or exceeding state standards, compared with 6.5 percent in 2012, and the school has moved from a level three rating to a level one, (or an “Excellent Standing”). Boyd has transformed the school’s reading culture and pioneered the school’s use of social media. And while she isn’t entirely responsible for the school’s turnaround—the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit organization that helps chronically low-performing schools, became involved in 2010 as well—she’s definitely had an impact.

Many of Boyd’s students are what she refers to as reemergent readers, or students who have come back to reading after losing interest. These students, she says, haven’t had library services since elementary school. Because there was no one in their lives to encourage leisure reading, many gave up around third or fourth grade and in high school found it jarring to be assigned novels to read by teachers. Boyd’s work was cut out for her, but she took a nuanced approach to her students.

“I didn’t start off with what I thought they should be reading. I listened to them.”

Her students most enjoyed reading manga, poetry, vampire stories, and street lit—and Boyd based her purchasing decisions on their preferences.

Though many educators might shy away from incorporating street lit into their collections, Boyd has been a big proponent of the genre and believes that it “[serves] as a teaching tool.” She’s sensitive to her students’ backgrounds, as many come from neighborhoods where violence or crime is common. She can warn students against risky or dangerous behavior, but “if they read a story with characters in similar situations, that story sits with them much more than what I would ever say. Street lit feeds into the social and emotional issues my students are dealing with.”

KCBoyd pinterest Chicago Public School Librarian K.C. Boyd: The Heartbeat of Her School

K.C. Boyd has pioneered the use of Pinterest in her school.

Boyd’s willingness to purchase these street lit titles shows a deep understanding and perception of her community. The books are usually softcovers, and, Boyd says, by the time they come back to the library, they’re bent and clearly used, because parents, siblings, and cousins end up reading them as well.

“I have parents who like reading books within the genre, and they like checking out books from me.”

Her flexible approach has worked: “I used to drag kids into the library. Now they come in willingly.” Not only that, many of these teens have moved on to more complex materials. The students whom Boyd met a few years ago as freshmen have recently graduated, and she couldn’t be happier. As the entire class of 2014, they earned $2.3 million of scholarship funds. “I’m proud of them. They’ve come a long way.”

While Boyd’s gains in the school’s reading culture have been phenomenal, she hasn’t stopped there. Social media is her latest frontier, and she has truly pioneered the school’s use of Pinterest. While preparing for Black History Month this year, she chose to use the site to share Internet resources instead of a more traditional list, teaching students how to scan and pin their own images.

The use of Pinterest took off around the school, with both students and staff becoming intersted, and Boyd continued the effort, creating a Pinterest board for National Poetry Month this past April. A recent legacy project with one of the English classes uses Pinterest to archive former administrators and noteworthy alums, such as singers Sam Cooke and Nat King Cole.

“Things have changed,” Boyd says. “[Librarian] positions are becoming very tech oriented.” But she thinks it’s crucial that school librarians stay current with the needs of their staff and patrons. “In today’s libraries, you have to be the heartbeat of your school.”

Boyd’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed by her peers. Currently enrolled as a doctoral student at Dominican University’s School of Library and Information Science, she’s garnering attention in the greater library community.

“She’s a really rising powerful star,” Joyce Valenza, SLJ blogger and assistant professor at Rutgers University, School of Communication and Information, said. “She speaks for an underserved community and [represents] the positive force of the voice of a teacher librarian.”

Boyd is aware how difficult the situation is for librarians, particularly now, with cutbacks in library services throughout the country, including within the Chicago Public School District. This past June, at a meeting for the Chicago Board of Education, Chicago Public School librarian and mom Megan Cusick, informed the board that “staffing projections show more than half of all CPS schools will lack a certified librarian next year,” according to a June 25 Chicago Sun-Times article. “31 of the 50 schools that received children from closed schools do not have a ‘professionally staffed school library,’” testified Cusick.

Chicago Public School District has had its share of budgetary woes in the past years, not the least being a wave of public schools closures in the past year. It takes gumption to be a leader in this landscape of librarian cuts.

“I was a kid in a suburban school, and I had library services in elementary, middle, and high school. I had a foundation for reading,” she said. “I want the same thing I had for my students. Every kid deserves to have a library program and a certified librarian to provide them with services.”

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A Girl Who Loved Reading and Triumphed in Math | Consider the Source Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:46:45 +0000  
Bu8qLo1IAAMiGP2.jpg large 300x232 A Girl Who Loved Reading and Triumphed in Math | Consider the Source

Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani

My colleague and friend Sue Bartle sent me this thrilling notice: for the first time in its history, the Fields Medal, sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize for math,” has been awarded to a woman. Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani is an Iranian immigrant who teaches at Stanford and everything about her story is wonderful for those of us who work with young people. As a trail-blazer in abstract math and a leader in her profession, Dr. Mirzakhani and her work counteract the hopelessly outdated idea that girls aren’t good at math, don’t like it, or require that it be linked to concrete, personal concerns to succeed in it. All of those are beliefs, stereotypes, projections, and cultural creations that say nothing about the potential of girls and women to engage in any branch of the sciences. As the Fields Medal recipient stated, “This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians. I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.”

The more I read about this exceptional mathematician, the more I see how suited she is to be discussed as a role model in our world of children, books, and libraries. As a child she loved books and reading, and thought she might become a writer. Math wasn’t her best subject and it was only in high school that she considered it as a career. Today, the long-distance, “slow-and-steady” approach characterizes her work, allowing her to avoid “the low-hanging fruit” to “think big.”

And then there is the matter of her background. Too often the depiction of girls growing up in predominantly Muslim countries focuses on the limitations some people within these societies impose—in matters of dress, marriage, and educational horizons. While that is true enough at times, this picture misses the ways in which some of those same societies encourage girls to study medicine, math, and engineering. Indeed the cultural image of girls as being uninterested in the sciences is a problem we need to work on in the United States. Not only does Dr. Mirzakhani’s work and success open up possibilities for girls and young women in the West, it challenges us to look again at cultural expectations around the around the world.

Two notes for your fall calendar, one personal, one of general interest.
The personal: I’ll be joining Betsy Bird in the first New York Public Library Literary Salon of the fall on September 6 at 2 PM in the Berger Forum at the 42nd Street Library. We will be considering what nonfiction for younger readers and teens has been, is, and is becoming.

The general: The first Text Set training will take place September 16-17 in Chicago. There is more information about this and the above event at this site.

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NJ State Library to Launch High School Diploma Program at Select Public Libraries Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:53:23 +0000 From the New Jersey State Library:

The New Jersey State Library (NJSL), an affiliate of Thomas Edison State College, has announced the launch of its Online High School Completion Program, which will allow NJ residents to earn an accredited high school diploma and credentialed career certificate at their local library. The groundbreaking program is designed to reengage adults in the education system and prepare them for entry into post-secondary education or the workforce.

The State Library was awarded a Literacy Innovations Program grant in the amount of $146,475 from the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The funds will be used to purchase scholarships to Gale’s Career Online High School Program, part of the world’s first accredited, private online school district, which will be offered to NJ residents at no cost to the applicant. The following libraries have been selected to offer this program to their communities:

Camden County Library System
Elizabeth Public Library
Long Branch Free Public Library
Scotch Plains Public Library
Somerset County Library System
Trenton Free Public Library


Gale, part of Cengage Learning and a leading provider of educational content, tools and services to libraries, schools and businesses, recently announced the launch of Career Online High School to its library partners. NJSL’s Career Online High School Program will be the first implementation of its kind to be offered across the state.

Read the Complete Announcement

See Also: Gale, Libraries Team To Offer High School Diplomas (January 9, 2014 via Library Journal)

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Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High-Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YA Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:36:31 +0000 How It Went Down about a black teen who is shot by a white man, is especially timely with recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and just the right title for young adults grappling with streaming headlines. And, a new book from the queen of verse novels, Ellen Hopkins, will entice fans of the format. The following fiction and nonfiction titles for teens will be perfect for late-summer reading and back-to-school shelf-browsing.]]> Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down (Holt, 2014), about a black teen who is shot by a white man, is especially timely with recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and just the right title for young adults grappling with the headlines streaming in every day. And, a new book from the queen of verse novels, Ellen Hopkins (Rumble), will entice fans of the format, while Dana Walrath’s lyrical historical fiction work about the 1914 Armenian genocide (Like Water on Stone), will illuminate and win new ones. The following fiction and nonfiction titles for teens will be perfect for late-summer reading and back-to-school shelf-browsing.

Ghost House Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAAdornetto, Alexandra. Ghost House. 320p. (The Ghost House Saga: Bk. 1). ebook available. Harlequin Teen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211302.

Gr 7 Up –Chloe Kennedy has just lost her mother. The teen is upset and unnerved by her mother’s death, as she was a source of comfort, wisdom, and stability. She also taught Chloe that ghosts shouldn’t be feared, but simply told to go away. And she was correct—right up until her death. Chloe and her brother Rory have been sent to stay temporarily at their grandmother’s newly renovated estate in England to allow their father time to recover. Chloe soon encounters Alexander Reade, who died more than 150 years ago, but has not passed over. From their first meeting, Alexander and Chloe are drawn together. However, it is not just the earthly divide that separates the two, but also the presence of the evil specter Isobel, Alexander’s sister-in-law and former lover. Isobel will stop at nothing, even murder, to prevent Alexander from moving on. A final, interesting twist revealed on the very last page should spark readers’ anticipation for the next installment in this gothic romance series.–Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT

Alender, Katie. Famous Last Words. 320p. Scholastic/Point. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545639972; ebk. $18.99. ISBN 9780545639989.

Gr 8 Up –Willa’s new stepdad, Jonathan, is a movie director, which is how she finds herself transplanted to Hollywood from suburban Connecticut. On the plus side there’s Marnie, a new friend at school, and Reed, Jonathan’s cute, young assistant who seems to like Willa as much as she likes him. Unfortunately, there’s also a murderer, aka the Hollywood Killer, on the loose who enjoys re-creating iconic scenes from classic movies, such as the final attack scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds. Wyatt, Willa’s unfriendly chemistry lab partner at school, seems oddly obsessed with the crimes. As if that weren’t enough, Willa’s new house is haunted. The ghost is desperate to tell her something; Willa thinks it might have something to do with the Hollywood Killer. The plot moves at a breakneck pace as Alender has jam-packed her latest novel with murder, ghosts, and romance. Fans of the author’s “Bad Girls Don’t Die” series (Disney-Hyperion), as well as readers who enjoy suspense and supernatural elements with their romance, won’t be disappointed.–Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY

Alten, Steve. Sharkman. 276p. Taylor Trade. Oct. 2014. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9781630760199; ebk. $11.99. ISBN 9781630760205.

Gr 8 Up –As the result of a car accident caused by texting while driving, Kwan Wilson is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic. His mother died during the crash and his overbearing father cannot forgive Kwan and sends him to live with his grandmother. He agrees to volunteer at an aquatic stem cell research center once he sees that he will be able to spend time with a lovely assistant. Kwan’s guilt and frustration help him to justify his willingness to risk his life by injecting himself with shark stems cells and Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Kwan’s crippled body not only heals, but continues to evolve into a body builder’s physique with hyper senses, allowing him to once again be a basketball superstar. His adaptations spiral out of control and he develops the physical characteristics and predatory instincts of a bull shark. The conclusion—like the rest of the novel—is a fun ride once readers suspend disbelief when it comes to the over-the-top action sequences and the main character’s remarkable cunning. The novel is packed with scientific information on topics such as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), diving, and shark physiology, making it a great addition for collections promoting STEM fields.–Sherry J. Mills, Hazelwood East High School, St. Louis, MO

Anjelais, M. Breaking Butterflies. 272p. Scholastic/Chicken House. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545667661; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545667678.

Gr 9 Up –The childhood dreams of two women who have been friends since they were little girls have mostly come true. One has a boy named Cadence and the other has a girl named Sphinx. The young mothers planned for their offspring to marry each other, and when brilliant, handsome Cadence and sensitive but plain Sphinxie are teens, the pair seem to be following that path. However, the older Cadence gets, the clearer it becomes that he has serious emotional issues that prevent him from actually connecting with another person. But Sphinxie and all who meet him are drawn to the young man, even when he physically and psychologically threatens and hurts those who love him. This is a suspenseful and well-written exploration of mental illness and how it affects friendships, families, and relationships. The private moments between the two teens will leave readers worried, agitated, and eager to keep reading.–Sarah Jones, Clinton-Macomb Public Library, MI

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up SL Aaronson Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAAronson, Marc & Charles R. Smith Jr., eds. One Death, Nine Stories. 160p. Candlewick. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763652852; ebk. ISBN 9780763670832. LC 2013957275.

Gr 9 Up –Kevin Nicholas, a popular high school football player, has committed suicide, though readers don’t know that at first. In fact, through nine stories, each told by a different author and from a different point of view, readers come to know only a little about Kevin himself. Instead, readers observe the reactions of Kevin’s sister, his best friends, people who barely knew him, even of the funeral home workers who handles his body. Each chapter deals with the process of initiation, acceptance, growing up, and moving on even in the face of death. The authors included are all well-known young adult writers, such as Ellen Hopkins, Rita Williams-Garcia, and A. S. King, and it is clear that they know and understand their audience. Despite the differing perspectives and characters, the writing is remarkably consistent in tone. The vignette feel of each section may appeal to reluctant readers who can manage a narrative in small chunks without losing the arc of the story itself. More enthusiastic readers will devour it whole.–Katherine Koenig, The Ellis School, PA

Bassett, Kate. Words and Their Meanings. 360p. Flux. Sept. 2014. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9780738740294.

Gr 9 Up –When 17-year-old Anna O’Malley’s “bruncle” (uncle raised as her brother) Joe dies, she suppresses her grief and refuses to open up about him. She embodies Patti Smith circa 1973, writing daily Patti verses on her forearm and conducts morning corpse yoga where she lays absolutely still in her bed. Anna also gives up her promising talent for writing. Her family and best friend are at a loss as to how to help her move on and are afraid of awakening past destructive and suicidal grief responses. While seeing her ninth psychologist in under a year, Anna strikes a “deadaversary” bargain with her family to return to normalcy to avoid “crazy Bible camp” in Hell, Michigan. As she starts to comply with the bargain, the teen’s life begins to move on with a new job, a love interest, and a glimmers of happiness. Bassett’s debut novel scores a hat-trick of literary merit in a strongly crafted and complex plot, deeply drawn characters with palpable grief, and beautifully woven and rich prose.–Adrienne L. Strock, Teen Library Manager, Nashville Public Library

Blount, Patty. Some Boys. 336p. Sourcebooks Fire. Aug. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781402298561; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781402298578.

Gr 9 Up –If you saw Grace Collier walking down your high school hallway you’d likely step out of her way. With her “ass-kicking” studded boots and leather wristlets people think of Grace as a girl who can take care of herself. Which is why no one believes her when she claims Lacross star and ultra-popular man on campus, Zac, raped her at a party. Some Boys starts roughly one month after Grace is assaulted, and is told through her perspective and that of Ian, Zac’s best friend. When Grace and Ian are thrown together to complete a Breakfast Club—style spring break detention, the two are both forced to relive the events of the party. What starts out as mutual hatred quickly turns to admiration, respect, and a touch of romance. Blount hits home with this novel, depicting rape culture without apology. Discussion questions at the back of the novel make it a great book-club choice for libraries willing to tackle the tough topics. A great addition to most YA collections.–Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR

Compulsion zpsa31ce116 Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YABoone, Martina. Compulsion. 448p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481411226.

Gr 9 Up –After the death of her mother, and her loving caretaker Mark’s losing battle with cancer sends him to hospice, Barrie Watson makes her way from San Francisco to live with her Aunt Pru on her family’s estate on Watson Island in South Carolina. Curious about her father, who died in a fire that led to her mother’s facial scars and reclusiveness, Barrie is eager to meet relatives on both sides of her family for the first time. What she discovers is far more complicated than the open-armed reunion she’d desired. Watson Island is bound by an old curse that has kept its three founding families, the Watsons, the Beauforts, and the Colesworths, at odds with one another for years. The mysterious Fire Carrier that appears over the river outside of her window each night holds the key to some part of the curse, and the yunwi (spirits that keep watch around Watson Landing) are clearly trying to communicate something to the protagonist. She uses her gift for finding things that have been lost, with some help from dreamy Eight Beaufort, to figure out the secrets that have held her family captive. Boone’s debut mixes a Southern gothic setting with fantasy and romance for an engrossing, albeit over-the-top mystery. This book will appeal to fans of paranormal and traditional romances.–Joanna Sondheim, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City

Daley, James Ryan. Jesus Jackson. 278p. Poisoned Pen Pr./Poisoned Pencil. Aug. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781929345069; ebk. $5.99. ISBN 9781929345076. LC 2014938496.

Gr 8 Up –Jonathan Stiles, 14, just learned that his older, football star brother has died in a freak accident. He already struggles to understand his parents’ divorce, how to survive his first year of high school, and his ever-increasing questions about religion. The first-person narrative will easily draw readers in and through a series of flashbacks, teens will come to understand older brother Ryan’s previous role as mediator between Jonathan and their squabbling parents. Caught between their strict Catholic mom and Buddhist Dad, religion has become a bone of contention within the family. During ninth-grade orientation, Jonathan and his new best friend, Henry, take a shortcut through the woods where they find Ryan and his football buddies, and the brothers have a falling out. That’s the last time Jonathan sees Ryan alive. Jonathan is a multidimensional character who learns to make a leap of faith and must be willing to accept the consequences for his leap. An engaging, suspenseful read that teens will not be able to put down.–Julie Shatterly, W.A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC

de Gramont, Nina. The Boy I Love. 288p. ebook available. S. & S./Atheneum. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442480568.

Gr 8 Up –Wren and Allie, best friends since childhood start off their sophomore year at a brand-new school, Williamsport High. Wren is quickly plunged into the limelight when she discovers an alligator walking home from her bus stop. She is interviewed on the local news and soon the entire school knows who Wren is overnight. Allie, “the pretty one,” is having a more tough time and beginning her sophomore year at a new school is harder than anticipated. Allie discovers one good thing at Williamsport though—Tim Greenlaw, a junior, who she has had a crush on since junior high. The only problem is that Tim seems more interested in Wren than in her. But things are not always as they appear: Wren’s father is losing his job and her family will be losing their farmhouse and horses because they are months behind on their mortgage, and Wren don’t exactly have a romantic relationship—but she has promised to keep his secret. At a high school party, everything comes crashing down when Tim’s secret about his sexuality is revealed. In a North Carolina small town where interracial marriages were prohibited not long ago, the tension between fitting in and staying true to your identity will especially resonate with teens.–Jesten Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up Delaney Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YADelaney, Joseph. A New Darkness. 352p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062334534; ebk. ISBN 9780062334558.

Gr 8 Up –The tale of Tom Ward from “The Last Apprentice” series (HarperCollins) continues. At 17, Tom is no longer an apprentice, but the Chipenden Spook after the death of his master. As a Spook, Tom’s job is to protect his territory from ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, witches, and any other beasties that threaten the villagers. Reluctantly, he takes on his own apprentice, a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, named Jenny. Jenny and Tom encounter a formidable new threat, the Kobalos. The Spook calls on his alliance with the witch, Grimalkin. The trio hopes to find out more about the Kobalos, but little does Tom know that Grimalkin has a much bigger plan. A plethora of action involving ghastly creatures, sword fights, and magic coupled with just enough backstory and description make this novel engaging enough to keep even the most reluctant reader turning pages until the end. Tom’s story has a doozy of a cliff-hanger that is sure to bring teens back for more. Delaney fans and new readers are sure to enjoy this first book of a planned trilogy.–Mindy Whipple, West Jordan Library, UT

thewrenchies Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YADalrymple, Farel. The Wrenchies. illus. by Farel Dalrymple. 303p. First Second. Sept. 2014. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781596434219.

Gr 10 Up –In the far future, demonic Shadowsmen rule over a grim wasteland. They inflict adults with despair, corrupting them into zombies—or worse. Bands of fierce, foul-mouthed children fight against this oppression, and the Wrenchies are the greatest of these gangs. An ancient and arcane comic book creates a portal between our time and this bleak future, allowing a lonely outsider named Hollis to join the Wrenchies on their crusade. Together they embark on a quest to destroy the source of the world’s corruption. Kind, sensitive Hollis feels out of his depth, not born to battle like the rest of the gang. Readers will connect with his need for belonging and delight in the acceptance he finds among the Wrenchies. The plot unfolds in a stream-of-consciousness, reality blending with dreams, mystical visions, and drug-induced hallucinations. Dalrymple’s art vibrates with violent action, awash in colors alternately lush and lurid. With its abundant violence, profanity, and drug use, The Wrenchies is not for the squeamish, but offers breathtaking adventure for those with a strong heart and a stronger stomach.–Tony Hirt, Hennepin County Library, MN

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up Farizan Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAFarizan, Sarah. Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel. 304p. ebook available. Algonquin. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781616202842.

Gr 9 Up –Leila, an Iranian American teen, attends a private high school, where her parents have high expectations for her future. She has made it to her junior year without romance complicating her life, and that’s just fine with her. Leila would just as soon not have everyone find out that she likes girls. But when beautiful, confident, worldly Saskia breezes into the narrator’s life, everything turns upside down. Saskia easily lures the innocent Leila, and confuses her with mixed signals. With a plot that unfolds naturally, good writing, and vivid character development that leaves readers alternately cringing and aching for the protagonist, teens will find a satisfying coming-of-age novel. Fragments of Persian culture are incorporated smoothly within the narrative. Books featuring gay and lesbian teens of Middle Eastern descent are rare, and this engaging high school drama fills that need.–Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library

Fitzpatrick, Becca. Black Ice. 400p. S. & S. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442474260; ebk. ISBN 9781442474284.

Gr 9 Up –After a horrifying prologue depicting a young girl’s kidnapping and murder near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this thriller commences one year later, when 17-year-old Britt and her best friend Korbie head out for a hiking trip in the Tetons. When Britt finds out that Korbie’s older brother, her ex, will be at their family cabin too, she’s torn between trying to win him back and trying to get over him. A freak storm makes the friends lose their way. When the teens knock on the door of a cabin looking for assistance, they unwittingly become part of a plan that its handsome occupants are in the midst of concocting. Britt finds evidence that the two men may have been involved in the disappearance of several women. Convincing them to leave Korbie behind and to take her with them as a guide, the heroine tries keep them all alive during the storm, while also plotting her escape and piecing together the clues to what happened to the missing women. The mystery builds with each chapter and the writing is good enough to sustain a sense of foreboding with each page. Britt has realistically complex feelings towards her parents, best friend, and ex-boyfriend, and many teens will enjoy the mix of horror, mystery, and chick lit.–Sunnie Lovelace, Wallingford Public Library, CT

Gaither, Stefanie. Falls the Shadow. 352p. ebook available. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442497535. LC 2013035560.

Gr 8 Up –Cate Benson lost her big sister Violet at the age of 12. However, in a future world devastated by war and disease, some are fortunate enough to secure their children’s legacy through cloning. So, shortly after her funeral, the new Violet comes home complete with Violet’s memories. In fact, because of her heightened clone abilities, New Violet may be even better than the girl she replaced. She may also be a murderer. After four years, Cate is used to covering and making excuses for her replacement sister, but this time, Violet has vanished and the paparazzi and the anti-cloning faction are having a field day. Cate sets out to find her, accompanied by her crush Jaxon, and Seth, his best friend. Soon, they get too close to a secret that threatens the entire way of life that Cate has come to know. This nail-biting thriller explores the moral and philosophical ramifications of cloning, with a fair share of action, and the requisite romantic angle. Gaither has laid a solid foundation with this intriguing concept and compelling characters.–Erik Knapp, Davis Library, Plano, TX

Gillies, Isabel. Starry Night. 336p. Farrar. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374306755; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780374306762.

Gr 7 Up –Wren has dreamed about spending the fall semester of her junior year at the exclusive Saint-Rémy art school in France ever since she first learned about the program. Wren wants to look up at the same sky and stars that influenced Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, her favorite painting. Her parents support her dream and try not to put too much pressure on her to finish the application while maintaining the grades required—Wren has a learning disability and they understand her creative process. Her father is the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she is finally invited to attend a special gala event. Even before the night begins, she can feel that this party might bring her something extra special. At dinner Wren is seated next to Nolan, the hottest guy she has ever seen up close. He’s a senior in high school, but kind of famous already because of his band. That night they make a connection that might change everything she thinks she knows about herself, her friends, and love. The conversational style will give readers the feeling that the protagonist is a close friend sharing her deepest secrets. The author’s YA debut is best as an aspirational pick for younger teens.–Joy Piedmont, LREI, New York City

satansprep Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAGuarente, Gabe. Satan’s Prep. illus. by Dave Fox, et al. 112p. Sky Pony. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781628735925.

Gr 9 Up –Trevor Loomis is a slacker. His life never amounted to much before he got zapped to death by a cheap amp. Unsurprisingly, the start of his afterlife doesn’t appear to be too promising, either. As a minor, his is remanded to attending St. Lucifer’s Academy for the Hopeless and the Damned. Nicknamed “Satan’s Prep” for short, it’s not uncommon for students to be eaten before homeroom, bullied to death by demons, or be personally dissected in science class. Trevor deals with his hellish new school with the same irreverence and disinterest he did in his mortal life. After making friends with “Skeevy” Stevie and catching the eye of the beautifully mysterious Persephone Plumm, Trevor finally finds in death something worth fighting for. This graphic novel collects Guarente’s inventively demonic version of high school. A surprising cliff-hanger on Trevor and Persephone’s doomed relationship may have teens clamoring for more.–Ryan P. Donovan, Southborough Public Library, MA .

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up SL Hall Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAHall, Sandy. A Little Something Different. 224p. ebook available. Feiwel and Friends/Swoon Reads. Aug. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781250061454.

Gr 9 Up –If ever two people should get together, it’s Gabe and Lea. They share a love of creative writing, watch the same TV reruns, order the same Chinese take-out on the same nights, and repeatedly wind up in the same place at the same time as if by magic. But Gabe is painfully shy and full of self-doubt, and Lea is so lacking in confidence that neither of them can give voice to the obvious chemistry that radiates between them. The magnetic pull is so strong, in fact, that everyone they come in contact with can feel it, and it is through Gabe and Lea’s interactions with others that their stories unfold. In a progressive series of month-by-month vignettes, their creative writing teacher, college classmates, roommates and friends, a coffee shop barista, diner waitress, bus driver, and even the resident park bench and squirrel relate their impressions and conversations with the protagonists as they take part in a “one step forward, two steps back” dance of attraction and avoidance. A fun, light romance that will appeal to male and female readers alike. A good choice for reluctant readers as well.–Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up hiaasen Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAHiaasen, Carl. Skink No Surrender. 288p. Knopf. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780375870514; lib. ed. $21.99. ISBN 9780375970511.

Gr 9 Up–Richard and his cousin Malley are best friends. But while Richard is pretty levelheaded, Malley tends to get into trouble. So Richard is only mildly surprised to discover that she’s run off with a guy she met on the Internet in order to avoid being sent to boarding school in New Hampshire. Richard wants to go find her, and luckily he runs into what may be the perfect person to help him do just that: a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida named Skink. With Skink at the helm, the two set off across Florida in search of Richard’s cousin. Skink, a favorite character from Hiaasen’s adult novels, is incredibly memorable. Whether it’s diving in to a gator-infested river after a rogue canoe, getting his foot run over by a semi while trying to save a baby turtle, or hiding out in the sand to save the next turtle, Skink is always full of surprises. And like a cat with nine lives, one never knows how he’ll make it out or what will happen next. One thing’s for sure: readers will want to be along for the ride.–Necia Blundy, formerly at Marlborough Public Library, MA

Hill, Chelsie & Jessica Love. Push Girl. 240p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne Bks. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250045911; ebk. ISBN 9781466846050.

Gr 8 Up –High school junior Kara is popular with the “right” people, has a to-die-for athletic boyfriend, and is sure to be her school’s next homecoming queen. However, when she learns that her parents are contemplating a divorce, she drives off recklessly in her car and ends up in a debilitating accident. Paralyzed from the waist down, Kara’s dreams of being a dancer are totally dashed, and her in-crowd friends and boyfriend are nowhere to be found. Instead, it is her lifelong friend Amanda (whom she has recently ignored) and her ex-boyfriend Jack who devote themselves to helping her find meaning in life once again. Star of the TV series Push Girls, Hill endured the same type of injury which her protagonist undergoes and also founded the Walk and Roll Foundation that Kara initiates in the novel to aid people with spinal cord injuries. The writing duo’s personal experiences informed the realistic dialogue and fully developed main character. Kara’s accepting her fate and the ups and downs of her relationships with family and friends will keep the attention of teens. This tearjerker is sure to be popular with readers.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up SL Hopkins Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAHopkins, Ellen. Rumble. 560p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Aug. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781442482845; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442482869.

Gr 9 Up –Matt’s gay brother Luke committed suicide because he couldn’t take the bullying any more. Matt blames everyone for his brother’s death: his friends, his dysfunctional parents, and the middle school teachers and counselors who did nothing to halt the torment Luke experienced daily. The protagonist’s temper is perpetually balanced on a knife’s edge, and it takes very little to push him into a rage. Matt’s only peace comes when he is with his girlfriend, Hayden. However, she seems to be pulling away to spend more time with God and her youth group, many members of whom were Luke’s worst bullies. His hatred is eating him up inside, but he can’t let it go or he’ll have to confront the real reason for his anger. Hopkins’s latest novel in verse is timely and poignant. Matt is a wonderfully faceted character that readers will alternately sympathize with and dislike. Hopkins’s realistic, truthful approach to bullying, religion, and homosexuality make this a powerful story for even the most reluctant readers.–Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL

goodsister Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAKain, Jamie. The Good Sister. 304p. ebook available. St. Martin’s Griffin. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250047731.

Gr 9 Up –Asha and Rachel are left to grapple with their “good” sister Sarah’s mysterious death along the California coastline. Neglected by their overly lenient, flower-child mother, Asha struggles with the loss of her beloved sister and her own confusion over her relationship with her best friend, Sinclair. Rachel distracts herself with boys to avoid the guilt over sleeping with Sarah’s boyfriend before she died, and details are slowly revealed that hint at a secret reason for Rachel’s destructive behavior. Typical birth order tropes are fleshed out into believable characters that, along with an unraveling mystery, compel readers to turn the pages. Fans of emotional powerhouses such as Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002) and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (Penguin, 2007) will enjoy the novel’s insight into the complexities of sisterhood, adolescence, and the “good” and “bad” behavior therein.–Hannah Farmer, Austin Public Library, TX

Kelly, Nikki. Lailah. 352p. (The Styclar Saga: Bk. 1). Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250051516; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781250064240.

Gr 8 Up –Just when we thought the vampire fad was overplayed and finally vanquished, Kelly slams readers with an exciting new world—three worlds, to be exact: vampires vs. humans vs. angels. The brave, heart-stealing heroine is named Lailah—or is it Francesca? She’s lived for over two centuries at the supreme age of 17 and cannot recall past lives upon her return to the human dimension. Kelly opens her debut fantasy thriller with an aside explaining how Lailah (an Angel-Vampire hybrid) was created, and readers journey with her to piece together the past, flee across continents to escape the The genuine characters are dynamic and charming regardless of where their loyalties lie. The archetypal love triangle is a messy game of tug-of-war between Gabriel, Lailah, and Jonah, driving the story and superimposing on the desperate war between realms, making this equal parts romance and supernatural adventure. Vivid and cleverly crafted, this novel will appeal to fans of Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules (Harlequin Teen, 2012) and Courtney Allison Moulton’s “Angelfire” series (HarperCollins).–Jamie-Lee Schombs, Loyola School, New York City

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up Kulper Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAKulper, Kendall. Salt & Storm. 416p. Little, Brown. Sept. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316404518; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316404501. LC 2013041664.

Gr 9 Up –Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe’s destiny is to become the next witch of Prince Island. It’s the 1860s and Avery is descended from a long line of witches that use their magic to keep the island’s whaling men safe at sea. When the protagonist turned 12, before fully unlocking her magic, her mother dragged her away from her training at her grandmother’s cottage to raise Avery in town to be a proper society lady without magic. A Roe witch cannot be killed but can be maimed. Avery’s once-beautiful mother was severely beaten and left with a devastating facial scar before Avery was born. To protect Avery from this fate, her mother cast a spell that prevents the girl from ever leaving town to see her grandmother. The teen has the gift of accurately interpreting dreams. After repeatedly dreaming of being a slaughtered whale, Avery knows her fate and despairs of ever escaping to fully master her magic and prevent her death. Then she meets tattooed Tane, a harpooner from an island near New Zealand, who comes looking for answers to help him avenge his murdered family. He believes his powerful magic can help Avery break her mother’s spell. Kulper’s debut seamlessly blends fantasy elements with the more realistic life of a whaling settlement during the 19th-century. –Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton

Lewis, R. C. Stitching Snow. 336p. ebook available. Disney-Hyperion. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423185079. LC 2013046571.

Gr 7 Up –Essie is the only female living in mining settlement Forty-Two and earns her keep by “stitching” or repairing junk-tech for the local miners. She is an unwelcome presence, despite her much-needed expertise, and leads a precarious and solitary existence. When a shuttle crashes, leaving a stranger named Dane without a functional ship, Essie begrudgingly agrees to help him. It turns out that Dane is on a search for Princess Snow, the royal heir who went missing eight years ago. Once he realizes that Essie is indeed the princess, he kidnaps her, intending to use her as a bargaining chip in a prisoner swap. Forced to divulge secrets that she has long guarded, Essie convinces Dane that she is no friend of the court and the two join forces. This is a superb sci-fi retelling of “Snow White.” Lewis does a marvelous job of slowly revealing the backstory of Essie’s royal childhood, her incestuous relationship with the king, and the mystery surrounding her real mother. Inventive nods to the original fairy tale, such as the seven droids Essie built and the death scene of the evil queen, are expertly done.–Amy Nolan, St. Joseph Public Library, St. Joseph, MI

Ludwig, Elisa. Coin Heist. 302p. Adaptive Books. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780996066600; ebk. ISBN 9781632950161.

Gr 7 Up –Four teens devise an audacious plot to rob the U.S. Mint. The aspiring thieves attend a prestigious private high school, but come from disparate social groups—a football scholarship student; a cool, popular prom organizer; a science nerd, and a rock band slacker. In this novel that is The Breakfast Club meets Ocean’s Eleven, the characters are somewhat clichéd, as is their unlikely partnership. Chapters are narrated in the first person by each teen, revealing the protagonist’s strengths and inner turmoil. The teens’ voices are authentic, using a lot of American slang, and inject some sexual innuendos. Readers will increasingly sympathize with the protagonists as their backstories are developed more. This title will find a place in most collections, especially where Kiersten White’s “Kiki Strike” series (Bloomsbury) and Ally Carter’s books are popular.–Michelle Anderson, Tauranga City Libraries, New Zealand

McBride, Lish. Firebug. 336p. Holt. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805098624; ebk. ISBN 9781627791601.

Gr 8 Up – Having the ability to start fires with your mind is all fun and games until those powers are used against you. Ava’s firestarter capabilities are at the mercy of a mystical mafia called the Coterie—a group that killed her mother and is now set on assassinating one of the only people she cares for. Few have gone against the will of the Coterie and survived. McBride’s follow-up to the popular “Hold Me Closer Necromancer” series maintains her trademark dark humor and engaging, quippy characters. The book exists in the same universe, and possesses the same feeling of incredibly high stakes from the beginning. Readers looking for a fast-paced narrative will undoubtedly be satisfied with the rollicking plot and its riffs on the classic formula of rebels on the lam. Hand this to fans of her previous series and readers who enjoyed Catherine Jinks’s The Reformed Vampire Support Group (Houghton Harcourt, 2009).–Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, NJ

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up McCarry Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAMCCARRY, Sarah. Dirty Wings. 224p. St. Martin’s. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250049384; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781250027115; ebk. ISBN 9781250027108.

Gr 10 Up– In this lyrical and romantic coming-of-age tale of friendship, rebellion, and identity, McCarry has penned a prequel to her debut, All Our Pretty Songs (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013). Teenage Maia, a gifted pianist, has lived a sheltered life under the eye of her watchful mother, while Cassie, a free-spirited runaway, exists without rules or boundaries. When the two meet, an all-consuming friendship sparks between them, as Cassie urges Maia to shed her constricted existence in favor of Cassie’s more decadent lifestyle: punk rock concerts, goth outfits, and boys. The narrative leaps forward and backward in time, focusing on two periods: Maia and Cassie as they first meet (“Then”) and after they’ve run off together (“Now”). Though the book is presented as a retelling of the myth of Persephone and Demeter, it’s a very loose reshaping that readers who aren’t paying close attention to the clues—or who aren’t familiar with Greek mythology—may easily miss. McCarry’s hauntingly beautiful, darkly poetic language is her strength, and a sense of magical realism pervades the narrative throughout, hinting at danger lurking on the periphery. Fans of Francesca Lia Block’s works will devour McCarry’s sensual prose.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

McKay, Sharon E. War Brothers: The Novel. 206p. Annick. 2014. lib. ed. $21.95. ISBN 9781554516483; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781554516476.

Gr 7 Up –In this terrifying and shocking account based on actual events, Jacob is abducted and forcibly inducted into The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda. Jacob’s life before going away to school was fairly typical. All of that changed after he went away to school. Reuniting with his old friend Paul and asked to look over the scrawny new boy Norman, the boys are unprepared when the LRA comes to their school in the middle of the night. Jacob is beaten. He awakens the next morning in time to see Tony, along with several other children, forced to kill another in order to prove their worth to their new “family.” As Jacob, Paul, and Norman fight off starvation and plot their ultimate escape, they find unlikely allies in a cook within the army as well as a deformed girl who is often ignored by the generals. As with the graphic novel of the same name, McKay does an effective job of bringing this story to life. The protagonist’s struggles are heartbreaking, but his fierce determination and unflinching will to survive will surely prove to be an inspiration to readers.–Ryan P. Donovan, Southborough Public Library, MA

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up SL Magoon Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAMagoon, Kekla. How It Went Down. 336p. ebook available. Holt. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805098693.

Gr 9 Up –When 16-year-old Tariq, a black teen, is shot and killed by a white man, every witness has a slightly different perception of the chain of events leading up to the murder. Family, friends, gang members, neighbors, and a well-meaning but self-serving minster make up the broad cast of characters. The police bring their own personal biases to their investigation of the case. When all points of view are combined, the story of a young man emerges and with it, a narrative that plays out in communities across the country every day. Heartbreaking and unputdownable, this is an important book about perception and race. How It Went Down reads very much like Julius Lester’s Day of Tears (Hyperion, 2005) in a modern setting and for an older audience.–Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

Marriott, Zoë. The Name of the Blade. 368p. Candlewick. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763669577; ebk. ISBN 9780763674168. LC 2013955946.

Gr 6 Up –Mio Yamato has owned a beautiful and dangerous katana for most of her life, a gift passed down from her beloved Ojjichan (grandfather), meant to become hers when she turns 16. She knows she shouldn’t take it out earlier than her 16th birthday, but with her parents away on a trip and a Halloween party to get ready for, the teen takes it down just days before it was meant to be hers. To and from the party, she begins to see dark figures and omens everywhere. The Nekomata, an ancient cat monster begins stalking those close to her, and a boy she has only seen in her dreams shows up to aid her against the monster she has apparently set free. Since everything has come from the sword, Mio feels like she has to make it right, especially when the monster threatens her best friends. What follows is a crucial battle for a highly sympathetic character and a clever twist on Japanese mythology. Readers will be rewarded with unique and fun characters, a truly dire conflict, and a lifetime-spanning love story.–Heather Talty, formerly at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City

Maxwell, Lisa. Sweet Unrest. 336p. Flux. Oct. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780738740812.

Gr 9 Up –A romantic ghost story, voodoo spells, and the humid-drenched Southern locale all combine for a satisfying mix of contemporary and historical fiction. When Lucy Aimes’s family moves to an old plantation near New Orleans for her history professor father’s work, she becomes plagued with vivid dreams featuring the handsome Alex and surprisingly familiar Armantine. Lucy soon learns, with the assistance of a local mystic, that the dreams are much more than they seem. Readers will be enthralled by the heady descriptions of New Orleans and mysticism. Intertwining a bit of voodoo lore with an enjoyable mystery, Maxwell produces a well-written, spellbinding, and informative story that teen readers are sure to snap up.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

Nadol, Jen. This Is How It Ends. 320p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Oct. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781481402101; Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481402118.

Gr 7 Up –When five Vermont teens meet in the woods one cold night, they plan to drink a few beers and hang out. When one of the teens finds a pair of binoculars in a nearby cave, the lighthearted get-together takes a decidedly sinister turn. As the they take turns peering through the lens, each sees a haunting vision of his or her future. At first, the friends dismiss the visions as hallucinations, but as the weeks pass, the protagonists discover that the visions are becoming reality. Told from the point of view of Riley, the story keeps readers guessing as vision after vision turns into reality. When Riley looks through the binoculars, he sees himself in bed with his best friend’s girlfriend, Sarah. Riley has a crush on Sarah, but he would never betray his best friend, or would he? When Natalie looks through the binoculars, she sees her father’s murder. A few days later, when her father is found dead, fingers point to Natalie, but did she do it? Nadol weaves a tales of taut suspense and tender new romance as the teens struggle to resist the fulfilment of the visions. Each of the teens are plausible characters, likable and flawed at the same time.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up SL Pattou Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAPattou, Edith. Ghosting. 392p. Amazon/Skyscape. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781477847749; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781477897744.

Gr 9 Up –This swift, free-verse page-turner follows seven teens and the events before, during, and after an evening that permanently alters their lives. Once childhood friends, they have gone their separate ways. Maxie moved away with her family and recently came back; Chloe is pretty and popular; Emma and Brendan play varsity sports; and Felix smokes marijuana to escape his unhappy family life. They are reunited (joined by Chloe’s boyfriend Anil) on a late summer night right before the beginning of school year, and a series of bad decisions lead to a terrible tragedy. The story features increasing tension coupled with first-person narration that moves the plot along rapidly as each character picks up the story line left off by another. The narration gives readers the chance to see exactly what all of the characters are thinking and a glimpse of their families and homes. After the tragic event, the characters all demonstrate personal growth and maturity. What begins as a story featuring typical teens haunted by the past, and dismayed by the present, turns into one where everyone is reminded that mistakes can be learning experiences and that people can adjust to what one character concludes is a “new now time.”–Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State University, NH

crazy Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAPhillips, Linda Vigen. Crazy. 320p. Eerdmans. Oct. 2014. pap. $9. ISBN 9780802854377. LC 2013048058.

Gr 7 Up –“To my mother, whose fault it never was, and to my sister, my soul mate in survival,” reads the dedication to Phillip’s compelling debut novel that is loosely based on the author’s experiences growing up around bipolar disorder. It’s 1963 and 15-year-old Laura has always been told that her mother suffers from nervous breakdowns. So while other mothers are baking cookies for the PTA fundraiser and helping their daughters sew dresses for home economics class, Laura’s mother spends the day sitting in a rocking chair with a vacant stare. No one in Laura’s family, particularly her father, will discuss her mother’s frightening behavior. There’s a palpable tension in Laura’s house as everyone tiptoes around her mother, waiting for her to snap. Laura pushes away her passion for art and her best friend, for fear she will end up just like her mom. It isn’t until the protagonist finally seeks support that she sees light in the darkness of her mother’s mental illness. Told in first-person free verse, Crazy is a beautifully written and emotionally impactful novel about growing up around bipolar disorder in a time period when even doctors didn’t truly understand the ramifications of such a disease. Phillips’s poetry coupled with her personal experiences truly make this a poignant read. It should be in the hands of anyone—teen and adult—who has ever felt powerless at the hands of mental illness.–Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up SL Qitsualik Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAQitsualik-Tinsley, Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley. Skraelings. illus. by Andrew Trabbold. 89p. (Arctic Moon Magick: Bk. 1). Inhabit Media. Oct. 2014. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781927095546.

Gr 7 Up –Kannujaq’s life revolves with the seasons, moving with his dog sled to follow the hunts that make life sustainable for the Inuit people. This nomadic lifestyle contrasts sharply with the villages of the Tuniit, who stay in one place in homes that cannot be moved. When Kannujaq comes upon a Tuniit village under siege by giant-men in enormous boats, he becomes drawn into their dispute and it changes his world forever. Told by a conversational third-person narrator, this novella captures the fear and wonder of the age. Heavy graphic illustrations further reinforce the gravity of the tale and an Inukittut pronunciation guide is included. Skraelings is a well-written, engaging introduction to the complex history of the peoples of the Arctic.–Sara Saxton, Wasilla Public Library, Wasilla, AK

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up SL Quintero Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAQuintero, Isabel. Gabi: A Girl in Pieces. 378p. Cinco Puntos. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781935955948; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955955; ebk. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955962. LC 2014007658.

Gr 9 Up –Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez has a lot to deal with during her senior year. Her best friend Cindy is pregnant; her other best friend Sebastian just got kicked out of his house for coming out to his strict parents; her meth addict dad is trying to quit, again; and her super religious Tía Bertha is constantly putting a damper on Gabi’s love life. In lyrical diary entries peppered with the burgeoning poet’s writing, Spanglish, and phone conversations, Quintero gives voice to a complex, not always likable but totally believable teen who struggles to figure out her own place in the world. While the narrative is chock-full of issues, they never bog down the story, interwoven with the usual teen trials, from underwhelming first dates to an unabashed treatment of sex, religion, and family strife. The teen isn’t all snark; there’s still a naiveté about whether her father will ever kick his addiction to meth, especially evident in her heartfelt letters to him. When tragedy strikes, readers will mourn with Gabi and connect with her fears about college acceptance and her first sexual experience. A refreshing take on slut- and fat-shaming, Quintero’s work ranks with Meg Medina’s Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick, 2013) and Junot Diaz’s Drown (Riverhead, 1996) as a coming-of-age novel with Latino protagonists.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Rosen, Suri. Playing With Matches. 256p. ECW. Sept. 2014. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781770411821.

Gr 7 Up –Sixteen-year-old Raina Resnick cannot catch a break. After two years as Queen Bee in her Manhattan private school, she is unceremoniously “counselled out” (read: expelled) and sent to live with her strict Aunt Mira. Her new life in a tight-knit Jewish community in Toronto is hardly the fresh start she was hoping for. Between a headmistress who is constantly scrutinizing her every assignment and an older sister (former BFF) who won’t speak to her, Raina is desperate to find her niche. A chance meeting on the bus with young, single Jewish woman helps unveil a hidden talent: matchmaking! After her success matching Tamara and Jeremy, Raina sets up the anonymous MatchMaven account and is ready for business. Things get really complicated when her sister Leah turns to MatchMaven for help finding The One after her broken engagement—a breakup for which Raina is blamed. But the more she tries to help others find love, the less her friends and family love her. Raina is well drawn, and supporting characters all add humor and poignancy to the story. This charming story of growing up and owning up, will ring true with readers, particularly those who share her cultural traditions.–Elaine Baran Black, Georgia Public Library Service

Sheerger, Sarah Lynn. The Opposite of Love. 272p. ebook available. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807561324.

Gr 8 Up –Rose and Chase are an unlikely pairing, until you compare their home lives. Rose is a wild child, at least according to her strict adoptive parents. She is determined to find her birth mother, no matter the cost or time it takes. Chase comes from an abusive home and fears that his anger will be just as out of control as his father’s. Just as Rose and Chase start to trust and open up to each other, they are wrenched apart. Rose retreats from the world and Chase tries to move on. Then, a cryptic email from Rose sends Chase and their mutual friends on a race to find her before things get any worse. The time periods also shift between the present (when Rose sends her email) and the past. There are many themes running throughout the story, including teen pregnancy, truancy, drinking, smoking, and faith, all of which are handled with a gentle touch. The novel is for teens looking for a realistic story with a satisfying if not completely happy ending. –Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up SL Sharaya Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAShraya, Vivek. God Loves Hair. illus. by Julia Neufeld. 110p. Arsenal Pulp. Sept. 2014. pap. $18.95. ISBN 9781551525433; ebk. ISBN 9781551525440.

Gr 10 Up –Through 21 short stories, Shraya takes readers on an emotional journey with a boy who is discovering and developing a gender identity in a heteronormative environment. The tales recount the narrator’s life growing up in a Hindu family in Canada, and how his religion, ethnicity, brown skin, hair, and family’s expectations intersect. Each story is accompanied by mixed-media illustrations with comic-book appeal, that along with the work’s Indian and American pop-culture references and its intersection of race and gender, bring a fresh and vibrant addition to YA LGBT literature. Librarians should be on the lookout for this queer coming-of-age story that offers an endearing and honest voice, as well as a heartbreaking account of adolescence.–Sujei Lugo, Simmons College, MA

Theule, Larissa. Fat & Bones: And Other Stories. illus. by Adam S. Doyle. 112p. Carolrhoda. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781467708258; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781467746236. LC 20130303064.

Gr 7 Up –With its light page count and atmospheric illustrations by Doyle, illustrator of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle (Scholastic) covers, Theule’s short work has sophisticated themes and artwork that could appeal to a wide range of teens. The stories, while not necessarily interconnected, all take place during the same time period on the same farm, with the same characters being referenced in multiple stories. Bones’s father, the old farmer Bald, has died, and that sets in motion the events of the various stories. Readers meet a wide-eyed mouse who endeavors to confess his feelings to the one he loves; a group of pigs who must have their hooves made into soup; and the titular characters, Fat and Bones, who hate each other for some unknown reason. All of the stories are about relationships, whether that is of enemies, friends, or lovers. The themes of tension and choices are not heavy-handed, and the artwork sustain the dark, slightly sinister mood. These stories are recommended for middle schoolers who aren’t afraid of a dark twist.–Jessica Ko, Los Angeles Public Library

Thompson, Paul B. Lost Republic. 256p. ebook available. Enslow/Scarlet Voyage. Sept. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781623240004. LC 2013048978.

Gr 7 Up –Its 2055 and the S. S. Sir Carlton is the last existing steamship in the world set to go on its final cross-Atlantic voyage. Shadowing this fateful sail is the highly celebrated maiden voyage of the Sunflyer, a solar powered luxury ocean vessel of the future. The Sunflyer’s roster is filled with the world’s A-list celebrities and society elite while the Carlton’s roster is more eclectic, reflective of a diverse group of passengers wanting to experience a moment in history. Among this group of passengers are eight teens, each believing they are on the verge of a newly promising journey to fulfill their own individual future goals. En route, the ship loses all technological contact and runs up on an undetected land mass. The Carlton survivors are thrown for yet another jolt when they are taken hostage by a group of medieval knights and are then handed over to a group of soldiers who only speak Latin, claiming to be Roman Legionnaires. This work provides vast opportunities to discuss and compare the ethical issues of a tech-dependent world vs. one dependent on natural resources. Readers will enjoy this epic time travel adventure.–Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA

SLJ1408 BK Fic9up SL Danawalrath Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAWalrath, Dana. Like Water on Stone. 368p. further reading. glossary. maps. Delacorte. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385743976; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375991424; ebk. ISBN 9780385373296. LC 2013026323.

Gr 8 Up –Thirteen-year-old Aremenian twins Shahen and his sister, Sosi, live in the 1914 Ottoman Empire with their loving parents; younger sister, Miriam; and older brothers Misak and Kevorg. A Christian like the rest of their family, their 19-year-old sister, Anahid, is married to Asan, a Kurd, and is expecting a baby. Life is pleasant in their mixed religious community where their family makes its living as millers. However, when the cruel and hateful leaders of the Ottoman Empire decide at the start of World War I that the Armenians are “traitors” and should be eliminated, genocide ensues. Anahid is hidden by her in-laws at the risk of their own lives. Forced to leave their parents and brothers behind to certain death, Shahen, Sosi, and little Miriam barely escape and make a harrowing journey across the mountains, hoping for rescue and to somehow reach their uncle who lives in America. As Ardziv, an eagle, soars above, he adds a note of magical realism and a sense of omnipresent poetic narration to the authentic voices of the family members as he witnesses their joys, shock, and heartbreak. This beautiful, yet at times brutally vivid, historical verse novel will bring this horrifying, tragic period to life for astute, mature readers.–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

WOLITZER, Meg. Belzhar. 352p. Dutton. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525423058; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101600276.

Gr 9 Up –Devastated by the death of her first love, 15-year-old Jam Gallahue is having difficulty moving on with her life. After nearly a year of being mired in grief, her parents send her to a boarding school in rural Vermont that specializes in “emotionally fragile” teens. Once there, she is surprised to have been one of five students selected by the legendary Mrs. Quenell for a class called Special Topics in English. It seems that the entire semester—Mrs. Q’s swan song before retirement—will be devoted to the works of Sylvia Plath, and the students are given special red leather journals in which to record their reactions to the assigned readings. Jam is unenthusiastic at first until she realizes that these are no ordinary journals. When she and her classmates, all of whom have endured debilitating losses, begin to writing in their pages, they are transported to their former lives, at least for a while. The teens bond over their experiences in what they call Belzhar, and are able to share their stories and look out for and protect one another. As the semester progresses and the notebooks begin to fill up, they must each confront some inner demons and make some tough choices about their future paths. Wolitzer spins a smart and engrossing tale of trauma, trust, and triumph. Their voices ring true and the emotional truths are authentic. Exploring the themes of self-reflection and the recurring notion that “words matter” make this title a perfect choice for book groups and discussions.–Luann Toth, School Library Journal

For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings subjects as diverse as graphic novel memoirs, survival stories, science mysteries, and an environmental call-to-action.

ABIRACHED , Zeina. I Remember Beirut. tr. from French by Edward Gauvin. illus. by Zeina Abirached. 96p. diag. maps. Graphic Universe. Oct. 2014. lib. ed. $29.27. ISBN 9781467738224; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781467744584.

Gr 7 Up–Abirached’s companion to A Game for Swallows (Graphic Universe, 2013) reveals numerous details from her childhood in Beirut during the war from 1975 to 1990 war. “I remember” is a recurring phrase and provides a personal frame of reference for the effect of war on kids. Some are simple childhood memories of Kit Kat candy bars, bad haircuts, and her father’s obsession with recorded classical music. Many are exquisite visual packages of the trauma experienced by a young girl: documenting the series of bullet holes in her mother’s car windshield over time, spending a night at the school when it was unsafe for the students to leave, keeping a backpack of her treasured items next to her bed, and collecting war shrapnel the way some collect rocks or seashells. Most evocative are the family images: family members as playing pieces, pawns in a board game of war; holding hands as they cross the street to the “other side” of the city; the gulf between the adult author living in Paris and her family in Beirut. With her signature style of arresting graphic layouts of images in stark white and solid black, Abirached offers a pastiche of poignant memoirs from living in a strife-ridden city.–Barbara Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics. 256p. bibliog. glossary. index. notes. photos. reprods. Chicago Review. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781613746868. LC 2013047408.

Gr 6 Up –In this collective biography, Atwood chronicles the wartime exploits of 16 distinctive women from the United States, Europe, and Australia. The book is well balanced, covering women from the Central and Allied powers. Content is organized by the type of job the women performed—and there were many: resisters and spies, medical personnel, soldiers, and journalists. Their great contributions are made more vivid with Atwood’s engaging narrative. She points out that while there were ideological, social, and economic differences among the women, there was also a commonality uniting them: patriotism. Readers get an idea of the intensity of these women’s fervors through the quotes from diaries, letters, and interviews. Woven throughout the stories is the larger history of the war itself—the causes, battles won and lost, and outcomes.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

shackleton Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YABertozzi, Nick. Shackleton. illus. by Nick Bertozzi. 125p. First Second. 2014. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781596434516.

Gr 7 Up –Ernest Shackleton is most famous for his plan to cross the Antarctic by foot, which was a miserable failure (their ship Endurance was crushed by the ice, and the crew was stranded for months on end) and yet defied incredible odds (all of the men in the expedition survived). The story is told primarily through dialogue, which helps to personalize this chapter in history, but the informational text and maps will help readers grasp the full impact of the challenges the men faced on this expedition. The book is filled with humanizing touches, like the ways the men kept up morale with practical jokes and playing games together on the ice. Like the famous photographs of Shackleton’s expedition, Bertozzi’s black-and-white artwork captures the bleakness and the majesty of the surrounding snow and ice. An excellent choice for readers who enjoy nonfiction, graphic novels, explorers, true adventure, and impossible dreams.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

SLJ1408 BK NFic5up SL FadMania Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YABix, Cynthia Overbeck. Fad Mania!: A History of American Crazes. 64p. bibliog. chron. ebook available. further reading. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Twenty-First Century. Oct. 2014. lib. ed. $34.60. ISBN 9781467710343. LC 2013034669.

Gr 5 Up –Don’t be fooled by the size of this slim volume. Inside, readers will find a collection of fads from the last 100 years that fascinated before quickly fading from mainstream American culture. Following a brief introduction to the nature of fads, each craze is presented in chronological order by decade, beginning with the 1920s and ending in the post-millennium years. While many more crazes exist than are discussed here, Bix explores the more notable ones that have dominated the past century. Audience members will be intrigued by entries on dance marathons and goldfish swallowing, but equally engaging are the specific examples, world records, and casual facts that Bix includes in each entry that provide additional support and context. Each chapter is filled with striking photographs as well as decade-specific sidebars that list the time period’s milestones, further enhancing the connections between pop culture and history. Don’t expect to see this title linger on the shelf for long.–Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH

SLJ1408 BK NFic5up Burcaw Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YABurcaw, Shane. Laughing at My Nightmare. 256p. photos. Roaring Brook. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626720077.

Gr 10 Up –Burcaw is like any other 21-year-old guy. He loves sports, video games, and bathroom humor; enjoys hanging out with his friends; and has had several girlfriends. The only thing that makes him different is that he has done all of this while in a wheelchair. Burcaw was born with a rare neuromuscular disease known as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which hinders his muscles’ ability to grow and repair themselves. Instead of growing bigger and stronger with age, he becomes weaker and smaller. As a result of the disease, Burcaw depends on his friends and family when it comes to completing everyday tasks. Throughout, he shares many humorous and touching stories about growing up and living with his disease. These tales leave nothing to the imagination, including descriptions of how he uses the bathroom or has sexual interactions, and the author occasionally employs some graphic language. Burcaw’s narrative will resonate with readers, who will laugh along with the funny stories, cringe at the awkward moments, and tear up at the emotionally charged parts.–Annalise Ammer, City of Rochester Public Libraries, NY

Campbell, Jeff. Daisy to the Rescue: True Stories of Daring Dogs, Paramedic Parrots, and Other Animal Heroes. illus. by Ramsey Beyer. 320p. Zest. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781936976621.

Gr 6 Up –Well-documented cases of animals rescuing men, women, and children are recounted with precision, organized into four divisions: domestic, trained, wild, and legendary animals. Campbell draws on opinions from professionals and anecdotal evidence, gleaned from ancient to modern times, to understand animal motivations. In an introduction, Campbell discusses whether we can ever know an animal’s motivation and how to verify the accuracy of these accounts. The author’s voice is strongly felt throughout, tinged with sarcasm, pathos, and a touch of belief mixed with skeptcism as to the existence of moral courage in these animals. Tender souls will weep over the family dog who was fatally injured saving his owner from a cougar, leaving his skull cracked and his body macerated. When the jaws of the cougar were prised from the head of the brave dog, he arose for the last time to make sure his beloved boy was safe. Similarly, Campbell describes a guide dog who led his master out of the Twin Towers, through the soot and cinders, later dying due to respiratory injuries. The documentation shines in this presentation.–Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

Fleischman, Paul. Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines. 208p. bibliog. chart. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Candlewick. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763671020; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780763675455. LC 2013953458.

Gr 6 Up –Written in a lively style, lavishly illustrated, and timely in its subject matter, this well-researched book is a call to action: now is the time to save our environment. The author describes his technique as getting altitude, or getting above the problem, to see the big picture. Rather than simply offering a list of simple things kids can do to help the environment, he offers more complex solutions for becoming aware of the issues, such as noticing that there is a problem, becoming aware of defense mechanisms preventing people from acting, and learning about systems like capitalism that allow environmental threats to continue. Each chapter, divided into nifty topic-highlighted paragraphs, is filled with historical facts and current events, sidebars, photographs, and definitions of key terms. The presentation of facts and the author’s positive message are what shine here. An excellent and thought-provoking take on a well-worn subject.–Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community College, Mt. Carmel

Freedman, Russell. Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America. 96p. bibliog. chron. ebook available. index. notes. photos. reprods. Holiday House. Oct. 2014. Tr $20. ISBN 9780823429219.

Gr 7 Up –With the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 approaching, this book captures a significant struggle in history, focusing on the two years leading up to President Lyndon Johnson signing the act into law. Freedman gives readers the necessary context they need to understand the Civil Rights Movement and the importance of Selma, Alabama. Through short chapters, skilled, fluid writing, powerful photographs, and firsthand accounts of the clash between black and white Americans, Freedman has crafted an account of a crucial time in history. This well-organized work is ideal for research projects. Like Ann Bausum’s Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement (National Geographic, 2013), this is a strong, engaging look at the subject. A first choice for libraries looking for titles on the Civil Rights Movement.–Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TX

REthinking Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAHill, Katie Rain with Ariel Schrag. Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition. 272p. further reading. notes. websites. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481418232; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481418256. LC 2014013051.

Gr 8 Up –Like most transgender children, Katie, who was born and raised as a boy named Luke, was aware of her difference early on, though it was years before she found the word to describe herself. Other family problems made it easy for her to withdraw into a serious depression without being noticed. When Katie finally came across the word “transgender” and read descriptions of what it meant, she risked everything and reached out to her mother, who was supportive and relieved to understand her child better. She promised to help Katie make the transition to her internally identified gender of female, if Katie promised not to kill herself. The book opens with Katie starting college. Having chosen to be an out and open transgender activist while still in high school, she decided to “go stealth” at college, a term used to describe transgender people who prefer not to be identified as such. The writing style is open and straightforward. This is a worthwhile addition, given how few transgender memoirs there are for teens.–Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library

Kaye, Megan. Do You Know Who You Are? 192p. chart. illus. DK. Aug. 2014. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781465416490.

Gr 6-9 –Teens, especially girls, will find this interactive book engaging and will enjoy reading it on their own or with a group of friends. With journal activities, quotes, and more than 60 quizzes, the book can be read cover to cover or browsed. Readers will feel as though they’re diving into a diverting combination of teen magazines and online activities. The quizzes cover a variety of topics—the zodiac, personality traits, leadership style—and are presented with illustrations, tables, and check lists. The authors invite readers to write or draw on different pages, which limits its use as a library item. Despite this drawback, this is an amusing read that should provide teens with hours of fun.–Denise Moore, O’Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD

tothisday Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAKoyczan, Shane. To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful. illus. by Glenda Tse, et al. 72p. further reading. websites. Annick. Sept. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554516391.

Gr 6 Up –Bullying is sensitively handled in this long-form poem that originated as a spoken word poem performed by the author. Here, Koyczan uses personal anecdotes and borrows from the experiences of others to create a moving piece about the effects of bullying. The metaphors are very vibrant and relatable. This work will help young people facing similar situations. The triumphant ending lets readers know that overcoming the hatred of others is possible. The epilogue contains reactions from witnesses and victims of bullying and statistics about its far-reaching effects. Also included is a helpful list of resources for all types of bullying victims. The brightly colored, full-page illustrations by different artists stand out and can overshadow the text at times. The poem flows nicely, and is an excellent choice to read aloud. Purchase where resources about bullying for struggling preteen and teen readers are needed.–Morgan Brickey, Marion County Public Library System, FL

Kyi, Tanya Lloyd. When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival. illus. by David Perkins. 128p. further reading. index. notes. Annick. Sept. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781554516834; pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781554516827.

Gr 4-8 –Survival stories are hot, and these true—and astonishing—tales should have no trouble finding an eager audience. A variety of survivors are described here: Juliane Koepcke, who fell from an airplane into the South American rainforest; Jimmy Sanchez, who was trapped in a Chilean mine; and Kathy Ledtke, who found herself aboard the ill-fated Costa Concordia, among others. The fast-paced writing and intriguing topic will easily attract readers. Overall, this is a thrilling, well-sourced book, ideal for research or for browsing.–Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

Lewis, J. Patrick & George Ella Lyon. Voices from the March on Washington. 128p. bibliog. further reading. index. websites. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. Oct. 2014. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781620917855.

Gr 5 Up –In this collection of 70 short poems, Lewis and Lyon introduce the 1963 March on Washington through the perspectives of those who took part. The participants, young and old, come from all over (a group of students from Spelman College, an Iowan farm girl, an unemployed college graduate, and a six-year-old riding atop her father’s shoulders), and they express a variety of feelings: wide-eyed optimism, frustration, cynicism, and apprehension. The book contains plenty of detail and references to actual people, including the organizers (A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin), the speakers, and singers Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, and Joan Baez. Many Southern marchers, accustomed to Jim Crow laws, drink alongside whites at public water fountains for the first time. The poems keep the action moving forward, as the marchers arrive, assemble, and are inspired by the significance of the peaceful demonstration. This well-crafted introduction to the Civil Rights era deserves a wide audience, as these poems, with their plain-spoken.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

SLJ1408 BK NFic5up Macy Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAMacy, Sue. Sally Ride: Life on a Mission. 160p. (A Real-Life Story). bibliog. chron. diag. further reading. index. notes. photos. websites. S. & S./Aladdin. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442488540; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442488564.

Gr 5-8 –Macy’s comprehensive, admiring biography offers detail and perspective about Ride’s groundbreaking career and contributions. Her coverage of Ride’s childhood and education and pioneering career at NASA is similar to that found in dated titles such as Sally Ride: A Space Biography by Barbara Kramer (Enslow, 1998). Macy relates how Ride’s educational and sports accomplishments, hard work, and ambition and self-confidence allowed her to become an astronaut and a role model for countless girls. The strongest part of the book is Macy’s treatment of Ride’s post-astronaut career as an educator and advocate for increased education and opportunities in the sciences, especially for women. The author praises Ride’s refusal to cash in on her post-NASA fame and describes her ceaseless efforts to promote educational and public service projects. She also touches on Ride’s personal life, including the posthumous disclosure of a female life partner, putting into the context of Ride’s lifelong desire to maintain her privacy and let her work and achievements speak for her. The text will help readers put her public achievements and contributions and her quiet personal life into perspective.–Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO

Mangan, Lucy. Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: The Complete Story of Willy Wonka, The Golden Ticket, and Roald Dahl’s Most Famous Creation. 224p. bibliog. filmog. index. photos. reprods. Penguin. Sept. 2014. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9780147513489; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780698163942. LC 2014007560.

Gr 6 Up – In time for the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s classic, this work takes an in-depth look at the origins of the iconic tale of Charlie and his golden ticket. In an almost-scholarly tone, each chapter covers a distinct topic, such as the British author’s inspiration for the beloved title, the book’s impact on popular culture, and comparisons among and the reception of the various film and stage adaptations. Managan’s work explores Dahl’s tragic family history and relationships with the editors and illustrators that helped him bring his iconic story to life. This title will especially strike a chord with fans of Dahl’s work, students of classic children’s literature, and those interested in the early days of modern publishing. The thorough back matter, including archival, full-color photos; extensive bibliography and further reading lists; delightful illustrations and reproductions; and quotations from those intimately connected with the various iterations, make this a stand-out title for creative writing, English, popular culture, film, and kid lit courses. Especially useful for making comparisons across media, this book ensures that Dahl’s legacy will endure as long as an everlasting gobstopper.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Mendoza, Patrick. From Bunker Hill to Baghdad: True Stories of America’s Veterans. 170p. glossary. index. notes. Teacher Ideas Press/Libraries Unlimited. 2014. pap. $40. ISBN 9781598844665; ebk. ISBN 9781598844672.

Gr 9 Up –In this noteworthy collection of 20 stories about veterans from various wars, author and storyteller Mendoza (who died in 2012) relates the courageous and inspiring accomplishments of individuals—mainly ordinary citizens—who heeded the call of duty to serve their country. Arranged in chronological order by war, starting with the American Revolution and ending with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these highly readable and informative stories expose the ugliness of war and highlight military tactics, but mainly pay tribute to the supreme valor and sacrifices of various veterans. Mendoza has given war a human face. A Vietnam War veteran, he illustrates how individual actions can impact history. A strong and unique take on the subject.–Jeanette Lambert, Nashville-Davidson County Schools, TN

Peters, Marilee. Patient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Epidemics. 168p. further reading. glossary. illus. index. notes. Annick. Sept. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781554516711; pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781554516704.

Gr 5-8 –Seven epidemics are fully explained here, starting with the Black Plague and ending with AIDS. The author gives each disease a human touch by introducing a perceived “ground zero” person who might have been responsible for spreading each disease. For example, New York City’s Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary, cuts quite a tragic figure. In part because of lax government supervision, she ended up dying while under forced quarantine. The book reads like thriller, with gripping accounts of how these diseases affected people. A sense of drama permeates this volume: there are mysteries to be solved here, and the fate of the world depends on the answers. Cartoon illustrations interspersed throughout break up the text, and several pages feature an arresting red background. Extensive source notes make this a fine source for report writers and any young epidemiology enthusiasts.–Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

Prince, Liz. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir. illus. by Liz Prince. 256p. Zest. Sept. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781936976553.

Gr 9 Up –Prince knew from an early age that she was not a typical girl. The only pictures of her in a dress were from when she was a baby and could not protest. She hates dresses and all things “girly.” Fortunately, she had supportive parents who did not force her into traditional gender roles and who let her wear the kinds of clothing she wanted. Most of Prince’s friends were boys, and her fantasies and playtime were devoted to being a hero, not a princess. Her wardrobe choices made her the target of ridicule and bullying in Boston and in Santa Fe, where her family moved when she was in early elementary school. In their first neighborhood, most of her friends were boys, but she found some girlfriends after the family moved. It was the first time she found girls with similar interests in comics and Ghostbusters, and it was also when she realized that she did not want to be a boy but, rather, wanted the freedom that came with being one. Meeting a good friend of her mother’s, who encouraged her talent and interest in comics, and transferring to a very small, highly experimental high school helped her become comfortable with her choice as a tomboy. Purchase where graphic novel memoirs are in demand.–Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL

SLJ1408 BK NFic5up Reef Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YAReef, Catherine. Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life. 176p. bibliog. chron. further reading. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Clarion. Aug. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780547821849. LC 2013021340.

Gr 7 Up –The lives of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were marked by exceptional artistic talent, political fervor, and an all-consuming passion for each other that even outlasted their two marriages. Private and professional heartbreak and an idiosyncratic outlook on life and the world influenced the pair’s intensely personal paintings. Readers will learn much about the artists in this dual biography, including information on their numerous love affairs. Still, every relationship clarified for the couple that they couldn’t really exist or produce art without the other. Superb examples of Rivera’s and Kahlo’s paintings are reproduced in glorious full color, replete with rich Mexican-folkloric and earth tones, and the work is filled with excellently reproduced contemporary photos that place events in historical and personal context. Striking use of color elsewhere, as on chapter-opening and back-matter pages, also figure into the handsome design. A well-rounded treatment of two giants of 20th-century art, this volume tracks the separate and combined trajectories of its subjects’ lives and careers and allows for comparisons and contrasts.–Carol Goldman, Queens Library, NY

Scandiffio, Laura. Outlaws, Spies, and Gangsters: Chasing Notorious Criminals. illus. by Gareth Williams. 148p. bibliog. index. Annick. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781554516216; pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781554516209.

Gr 4-8 –This entertaining collective biography focuses on the ever-popular subject of lawbreakers. The book begins with a profile of the Mad Trapper in the early 1930s, touching on the early uses of the two-way radio, and closes with the high profile manhunt of Osama bin Laden, when President Obama could watch the mission as it unfolded via a video feed. In between, Scandiffo provides an account of the capture of other infamous lawbreakers, focusing on different methods, such as undercover spying (which resulted in the arrest of Aldrich Ames) and the uses of collaboration between various countries and their citizens to catch international criminals, such as Manual Noriega and Adolf Himmler. In the case of the international criminals, the author briefly acknowledges that the country’s methods of capture may be controversial. The book is engagingly written, with a minimum of sidebar references, which works well for the fictionlike narrative style. It would be a welcome addition, especially in collections where high-interest, collective biographies are in demand.–Patricia Feriano, Our Lady of Mercy School, Potomac, MD

jane austen Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YATodd, Janet. Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels. 112p. illus. index. reprods. Sterling/Andre Deutsch. 2014. Tr $39.95. ISBN 9780233003702.

Gr 6 Up –This book for the avid Austen fan presents information on the author’s work in the context of her own life. The book examines the relationships between Austen’s personal experiences and her profession, covering the author’s early life and works and the places and people that influenced her. Chapters include “Loves,” “The Professional Author” (where readers will find information on Austen’s fellow women writers), and “War and Peace” (a look at the influence of ongoing British wars). There are also sections on specific examples of Austen’s writings interspersed throughout. Fold-out envelopes contain copies of original documents, including Austen’s own writings, maps, and other ephemera. Each section is enhanced by drawings, paintings, and photos, some done by Austen’s own family, that illuminate significant aspects of her life. The references to movies based on Austen’s writing add to the fan appeal. A lovely title that will please readers who love her books.–Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT

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

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National Library Lock-in Event Features Authors, Games, and Minecraft Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:32:19 +0000 homerlockin National Library Lock in Event Features Authors, Games, and Minecraft

Teens participating in the lock-in at Homer (AK) Public Library.

Teens from libraries across the continent came together to play and compete online in the annual National Teen Library Lock-in on August 1. It was a Friday night, when most public libraries are usually closed, but for the past few years libraries across the continent, large and small, have opened their doors for the event. Most years, participants chat virtually with young adult authors, try their hand at crafts, and compete in games like Minute to Win It. This time, the planners added another component—Minecraft.

While teens huddled in front of computers is nothing new in public libraries, many are typically navigating fantastical worlds, building new structures, and avoiding near-death on their own. This year, lock-in organizers decided to expand the collaborative activities associated with the event and include a continent-wide Minecraft session, encouraging joint media engagement. With more than 70 libraries planning to participate, this was to be no small task.

The idea was born last winter as I (Claudia) was searching for new ways to virtually connect area teens with other libraries in real time at Homer Public Library. Homer, Alaska is, after all, a relatively remote place. Digital technology offers a landscape where remote connections are becoming easier and possibilities for collaboration are almost endless.

During a previous lock-in, attendees tried playing Wii games online with patrons from other libraries, but the technology was awkward. Since Homer teens are also Minecraft fans, I thought it might be fun to try again, this time with a multi-player game that is popular and a good fit for libraries that offer programs aimed to foster STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills. I presented the idea to the 2014 National Teen Lock-in coordinators, Tinna Mills of Chippewa River District Library and Nikki Branam of Cleveland Bradley County Public Library, who quickly embraced this new opportunity.

LibraryLock in logo National Library Lock in Event Features Authors, Games, and MinecraftThe National Teen Library Lock-in grew out of an event coordinated by San Diego County Library‘s Jennifer Lawson in 2011 and has become a popular celebration that connects teens across the country. Each year, librarians volunteer their time to coordinate group activities like virtual author visits and multi-library contests in addition to planning the specific events at their own location. An event wiki is filled with event suggestions, contest guidelines, and Q & A between librarians. There is no one way to participate. Some sites hosted all night activity-rich events while others chose to open up their libraries for teens to play Minecraft.

It was obvious from day one of planning that more than just enthusiastic librarians were needed to make a national Minecraft event happen. Enter Jack Makled, computer support technician also at Chippewa River District Library. Jack enthusiastically took over the setup of the rented servers and their maintenance during the event so 100 players could explore the pre-generate Pirate world simultaneously during the lock-in. (The lock-in also included a Hunger Games–type world which allowed 30 players at a time to compete in a survival/combat game.) Jack also developed a website for librarians new to the sandbox indie game (Minecraft in Libraries) to answer the pre-event questions.

While Jack, myself, and the many other lock-in librarians were busy managing the servers and their own events, volunteer administrative assistants energetically joined the effort to lead the players in building challenges and imaginative adventures and helped keep social aspects of the game in check. Collaboration, improving technology, enthusiastic librarians, volunteers, and teens made for a successful night.

If any part of this collaborative event sounds like fun to you, planning the 2015 lock-in event will begin this winter. To participate or if you have questions, contact lock-in coordinators.

Claudia Haines is a youth services librarian at Homer Public Library (AK); Jack Makled is a computer support technician at Chippewa River District Library (MI).

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YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News Bites Tue, 19 Aug 2014 21:41:38 +0000 GRANTS, SCHOLARSHIPS, AND COMPETITIONS

yalsa logo240 2 YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News BitesThe Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), is looking for submissions forits 2014 Maker Contest. Entries can include any youth-oriented crafting curricula. Submissions are due by September 1 and can be submitted here.

YALSA has also announced the recipients of its 2014 Teen Read Week Activity grant. The grant was funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and was awarded to 10 libraries to help fund its Teen Read Week activities. Each grant is worth $1,000. Recipients of the grant were selected based on the overall impact, need, and cohesiveness of their literacy-based programs. You can see a list of the finalists here.

PEN YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News BitesThis week, PEN announced the winners of the 2014 Literary Awards, celebrating some of the most outstanding voices in literature, spanning a wide array of genres and including both distinguished and emerging writers alike. All of the winners will be honored at the Literary Awards Ceremony to be held on Monday, September 29, 2014 at The New School in New York City. View the full press release here.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is now accepting nominations for the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, an award honoring nonprofit libraries and library organizations for exemplary contributions to their communities. Winners are honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC and host a two-day visit from StoryCorps to record community member stories. Approximately 30 finalists are selected as part of the process and are featured by IMLS as part of a six-week social media and press campaign. Nomination forms are due October 15, 2014. Find out more about the nomination process here.

In late July, the winners of the 2014 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced. Named for the pioneering comics creator and graphic novelist, Will Eisner, the awards are given out in more than two dozen categories during a ceremony each year at Comic-Con International: San Diego. See a full list of winners here.

review eleanor and park 200x300 YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News BitesThe Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) announced the finalists for the 2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction. Established in 2008, the award allows for the sum of $5,000 to be presented annually to the author of a young adult title selected by the ALAN Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Committee as demonstrating a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit. This year’s top prize went to Rainbow Rowell for her novel, Eleanor & Park. Read the list of finalists here.

On August 1, it was announced that three Follett products nominated by K-12 educators and administrators from around the country have earned recognition in the eSchool News’ Readers’ Choice Awards for 2014-15. Follett’s Destiny Library Manager has been named one of the winning products and services, while Aspen Instructional Management System and Follett Shelf each received honorable mentions. The Readers’ Choice winners are recognized in eSchool News’ August issue, as well as on the publication’s website.

Ebooks and E-Libraries

In late July, major upgrades were made to the statewide ebook project eVoke Colorado. The project team has purchased the initial collection, implemented new design elements, and integrated functionality with OverDrive and library catalogs. Earlier this year, the project achieved milestones allowing library users to search and access e-content alongside physical content, see real time availability, and download titles from within library catalogs.

WorkingWithLibrariesCover 194x300 YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News BitesIn late July, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund released Working With Libraries! A Handbook For Comics Creators in order to provide comics creators with an insider’s perspective on the library world. The handbook details the basics of public, school, and academic libraries, explains the collection development process, and offers suggestions for ways comics creators can collaborate with libraries in developing events and programs. Click here for a free download.

Upgrades, Launches, and partnerships

In mid-July, Start Publishing announced the addition of its newest imprint, Mason Crest EBooks. Formed in 2012, Start Publishing specializes in the publication of ebooks and will introduce Mason Crest’s general trade books into the EBook market. Find out more here.

Scholasticlogo 170x170 YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News BitesScholastic announced, at the end of July, that its digital reading platform Storia will no longer support ebooks. Originally launched in 2012 as an app designed for individual operating systems, the company said that the soon-to-be released Storia School Edition will be a streaming service, available through a subscription model for children in for pre-k through Grade 6. Subscriptions will start at $2,000 and will be based on the size of the school. Read more here.

BookUp, an afterschool reading program from the National Book Foundation, has initiated its first summer session in partnership with New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development. Launched in 2007, BookUp is a series of extracurricular reading groups lead by published authors, designed to inspire middle-school students to develop a lifelong passion for literature and learning.

naacp logo fb 170x170 YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News BitesThe National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, and American Urban Radio Networks, the nation’s largest African American owned radio network company, have joined forces in a reading literacy campaign. “NAACP Reads” has produced radio public service announcements voiced by Tatyana Ali, Bobby Jones, Jermaine Dupri and other notable individuals. With the support of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the program aims to reinforce the importance of early literacy development in the effort to increase reading proficiency for African American and low-income students. Listen to the public service announcements here.

On August 8, United Way of New York City and United Healthcare held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new reading corner at the East Side House Settlement’s Early Childhood Program at the Mott Haven Center in the Bronx. The reading corner is made possible by donations from UnitedHealthcare and Scholastic. Learn more here.


this weeks comics going ape for sesame street e1367605160884 170x170 YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News BitesTo celebrate the its 45th season airing this fall, Sesame Workshop and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will present “Somebody Come and Play”: 45 Years of Learning on Sesame Street,” a free multimedia exhibition for children and Sesame Street fans of all ages. Named after the classic Sesame Street song, “Somebody Come and Play” will feature items from the archives of Sesame Workshop and the Library for the Performing Arts, as well as a child-friendly area where children can enjoy Sesame Street books, games, apps, and ebooks. The exhibition will be on display in the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery, Shelby Cullom Davis Museum at NYPL from September 18, 2014 through January 31, 2015. Learn more here.

More Bites

Discovery Education resize 170x123 YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News BitesDiscovery Communications today announced a comprehensive program to support the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, a White House program that seeks to improve the expected life outcomes of boys and men of color—while simultaneously altering public perception of them—through public-private partnerships. The one-hour program will be simulcast on Father’s Day in 2015 on Discovery Channel and other U.S. networks, including the Oprah Winfrey Network, as well as Discovery’s online properties, and will also be made available to educators. Learn more about the broadcast here.

Lexia Learning, a Rosetta Stone company, today announced year-end results from the Kansas Reading Initiative in which the use of the Lexia Reading Core5 program has outpaced expectations, driving substantial gains in student achievement. Educational Design Solutions, a Kansas-based company, is Lexia’s statewide partner for the Kansas Reading Initiative. Find out more here.

SPaul 170x120 YALSA Maker Contest; NAACP Launches Literacy Campaign; Storia Is Streamed | News BitesIn late August, the expansion of the laptop giveaway program was announced at Minnesota’s Saint Paul Public Library. Initiated by anonymous donors with the Friends of the SPPL and launched in 2014, the program awarded computers and training to three student participants from Saint Paul Public Library’s Rondo branch homework center. In the next year, the program’s donors will award 27 more laptops to students participating in any of the six homework centers in the Saint Paul Public Library system.

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A New Approach to Sharks: Author Katherine Roy’s Work in the Field Tue, 19 Aug 2014 20:57:02 +0000 Roysharkclose A New Approach to Sharks: Author Katherine Roys Work in the Field

Katherine Roy aboard the Derek M. Baylis, Mirounga Bay, Southeast Farallon Island, photo credit Patrick Conroy

Doing intensive research in preparation for a work of nonfiction is par for the course these days for children’s book authors, but for Katherine Roy, this doesn’t just mean tracking down hard-to-find primary source material—it’s entailed getting to know sharks in intimate detail. Roy, whose debut book Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands (Roaring Brook) is released this September, spent time in 2012 with a team of scientists, accompanying them on boats as they studied great white sharks in Farallon Bay off San Francisco’s coast.

Though Roy did plenty of reading prior to the trip on sharks, she says that the trip was invaluable. She was able to interact with two key researchers, Sal Jorgensen and Scot Anderson, who have been working with the sharks for years.

“It helped me make the book a lot more accurate,” she said, “being there, having that hands-on experience, seeing the colors of the water, asking a million questions about the sharks, as [the scientists] tagged them, and [about] the water clarity, seasons, birds, all these different things that contributed to the atmosphere of the book.”

Roy used the opportunity to inject her book with the most accurate information possible. For instance, she dispelled the belief that great white sharks hunt by detecting the scent of blood in the water. Though the sharks do use their sense of smell, Roy said, they rely primarily on their strong sense of vision when hunting.

“When they actually zoom in on and target a seal, they’re using their eyes,” she said. “They have great eyes.” Roy saw an example of this in action when scientists used a fake seal made from carpet to lure the predators to the surface—something that would never have happened had the sharks only been using smell.

Hands-on learning was key for Roy. She took the opportunity to dissect the body of a baby hound shark at the California Academy of Sciences, getting a detailed look at the shark’s gills, which are very similar to those of a great white.

Dissect A New Approach to Sharks: Author Katherine Roys Work in the Field

Roy dissects a baby hound shark. Photo credit: Katherine Roy, courtesy of John McCosker and the California Academy of Sciences

Roy learned, too, that though fieldwork is immensely rewarding, it presents its own challenges. “It can be really slow, depending on whether the animals feel like coming up,” she said. “It takes extraordinary patience….I didn’t really realize that until I was out there.”

But the benefits are great for those scientists who have devoted their lives to studying the animals. Roy described how Anderson has observed the same group of sharks since 1987, and she says that he and his colleagues are often content to spend a single afternoon merely watching the water for signs of the animals. It’s an endeavor the artist admires—and one to which she can readily relate, as an author who also “labors over something for so long” and must wait to see the fruits of that hard work.

Researchers A New Approach to Sharks: Author Katherine Roys Work in the Field

Researchers Sal Jorgensen and Scot Anderson discuss GPS tags for the sharks. Photo credit: Katherine Roy

And Roy hasn’t stopped with sharks. She’s planning a picture book on elephants, set to release from Roaring Brook next year, called How to Be an Elephant and recently returned from a trip to Kenya, where she visited the Sheldrick Orphanage (a rescue and rehabilitation center for baby elephants), the Mpala Research Centre, Giraffe Centre, Amboseli National Park, and the Samburu National Reserve, as well as Tsavo West National Park, Tsavo East National Park, and Lake Nakuru.

Much of what she’s observed has truly been by chance. She was lucky enough to see a bull elephant get collared (or tranquilized and fitted with a tracking device) at Samburu, a moment she describes as her own Jurassic Park experience (referring to a scene in the film where a paleontologist gets up close with a sedated triceratops).

RoyElephantJP A New Approach to Sharks: Author Katherine Roys Work in the Field

Roy with a tranquilized bull elephant. Photo credit: Yiwei Wang, Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

Though the event sounds simple, a lot of planning went into it. “[The elephant] trumpeted and ran off, [and] the other females near him and the babies took off,” Roy said. “For the next ten minutes, we kept our distance in the jeep, but also made sure that we monitored him, [because] he could fall asleep in a bad position.” She also notes that the elephant was in musth, or heat, making aggression more likely. However, the process went off without a hitch: the elephant fell asleep quickly, the Kenya wildlife service was on hand to watch for poachers, and the team quickly got the collar on.

Spending time with elephants gave Roy a better sense for what the herbivores are like. She spoke of how much time the animals spend eating, from 15 to 20 hours a day to support their great bulk. They reminded her a little of big cows, but they can shift gears quite fast when they need to, said Roy, mentioning a moment when the animals felt their calves were threatened.

“I was surprised at how they can shift from being like any herbivore to being highly aware beings.”

Royelephantherd A New Approach to Sharks: Author Katherine Roys Work in the Field

Photo credit: Katherine Roy, Amboseli National Park, Kenya

The fieldwork has clearly been exhilarating, but Roy also finds it allows her to apply real nuance to her books, from the ability to perfect the hues of blue in the ocean to the anatomy of these creatures. Getting the details right is essential, she believes, citing the example of a researcher at Mpala looking at one of her sketches and pointing out that the forehead of a female elephant is more angled and the back more curved than that of a male elephant’s, something Roy herself wouldn’t have realized.

“That’s why you go,” she said, “so that kids are getting the most up-to-date information on these animals.”

Studio A New Approach to Sharks: Author Katherine Roys Work in the Field

Roy in her studio in New York City, completing the cover for Neighborhood Sharks. Photo credit: Tim Stout.

At the same time, she’s passionate about bringing a creative vision to her art. “Drawings can go where photographs can’t go, to reveal something new or teach something differently. I’m excited about that as an author/illustrator, to try something new in nonfiction, a new approach to animals.” Neighborhood Sharks is full of metaphor and innovation, such as an image of a shark’s body drawn to resemble an airplane to emphasize its speed and efficiency in the water or an illustration of an eye chart with pictures of seals, sea turtles, and other things sharks identify while hunting.

For Roy, nothing can replace the experience of visiting the sites she’s writing and drawing about. “You have to go. You’re going to learn things you’d never learn [otherwise]. You’ll get clarification on things you’d never know.”

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Understanding Ferguson: Resources on Protest, Nonviolent Resistance, and Civil Rights Tue, 19 Aug 2014 15:53:44 +0000 NeverBeen 197x300 Understanding Ferguson: Resources on Protest, Nonviolent Resistance, and Civil RightsA St. Louis bookstore, LeftBankBooks, is devising a reading list for educators and parents, with titles including Never Been a Time: The 1917 Race Riot That Sparked the Civil Rights Movement (Walker & Company, 2008), Boy, Snow, Bird (Riverhead, 2014), and Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It (New Press, 2013), to offer to educators, parents, and to youths to understand—and discuss—what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri. The  violence, racial dynamics, and conflict has history and precedence and lends itself to talking about race, protests, figures influential in both, and the civil rights movement. The store is also “curating a list of articles, poems, and other online content to explore race in contemporary America,” according to its website. LeftBankBooks has asked if you have recommendations to add to either list, tweet it to them using the hashtag #FergusonReads. (See below.)

SLJ blogger Mark Flowers recently reviewed two books about black youth in America on his blog Adult Books 4 Teens, and we here at School Library Journal have begun to curate our own booklist and media resource of recommended titles for upper middle school and high school—and younger ages. If you have a title that you think belongs on this growing list, leave us a comment.

Here are some of our recommendations:

Race (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007) by Marc Aronson

The Influencing Machine (W.W. Norton & Company, 2012) by Brooke Gladstone

A Dream of Freedom (Scholastic, 2004) by Diane McWhorter

Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World (Dutton, 2006) by Jane Breskin Zalben

Black & White: The Confrontation Between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor (Calkins Creek, 2011) by Larry Dame Brimner

After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance (Charlesbridge, 2009) by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Respecting our differences (Free Spirit, 1994) by Lynn Duvall

Multimedia for upper middle school and high school:

PBS Frontline documentary “L. A. P. D. Blues“; accompanying online PBS resource: “The Legacy of Rodney King

Article “The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921

NPR audio clip “Teaching the L. A. Riots at Two City Schools

Books for younger kids:

Under Our Skin: Kids talk about race (Holiday House, 1997) by Debbie H. Birdseye; age 10 and up

Let’s Talk about Race (Amistad, 2008) by Julius Lester; ages 4 – 8

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The Book Is Far Superior to the Ebook for Early Literacy | Up for Debate Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:00:56 +0000 KathyKleckner 200x200 The Book Is Far Superior to the Ebook for Early Literacy | Up for DebateI agree with Annie Murphy Paul’s July article in School Library Journal, “Eight Reasons Why Print Trumps Digital for Reading,” and here are some additional points she did not include:

Support for adult-child interaction is the primary criteria for assessing the value of early literacy materials. It is fully established that the adult-child relationship is the foundation of healthy, early child development in all its dimensions, including literacy development, and by this key standard, books are exemplary while the ebook present problems.

It is the book, not the ebook, that invites and sustains parent-child interaction and the personal and intimate experience of sharing and talking through reading. Books need us. The book needs the adult to hold it, turn pages, and to teach those not-so-easy motor skills. The book is completely controlled by the child or adult, not software. It is the book that is silent, every time, without the voice of the adult or child. It is the book that sits, enticingly, in the child’s field of vision, until the child might notice it, bring it to her parent and say, “Read this one, Mommy.”

And it is the book that presents the beauty of art in various dimensions, free of the shiny, lit, shrunken uniformity of the screen. On this point, I cannot emphasize enough how much better the book is at presenting art and how important this is to developing the love of reading—and art—for the child and the adult and the adult and child together.

Ebooks, on the other hand, are a form of screen time. They require the use of devices that are built for isolated, solitary, “personal” experience. I see it constantly with children—and adults—everywhere and with all types of screen use: screen time is almost always alone time. The way the reading device is used by both children and parents detracts from adult-child interaction, which makes ebook use a problem for early literacy and child development. We don’t know that anything librarians say or do will significantly change the solitary nature of device use.

I also see constantly when parents want to connect with their child, they “step away from the device.” I see families communicating, moving, and reading away from screens. I think that the socially engaging quality of books explain why parents prefer books by a huge margin, according to 2011 and 2012 Pew Research surveys. The human, rich, real world qualities of librarians, library programs, and library books are more valuable than ever to help children and families counter the effects of screen time and support adult-child relationships.

Professional librarians need science to identify best practices for supporting early literacy and to protect our credibility. Only books possess the body of research, as backed by an American Association of Pediatrics article published in June 2014 about literacy and early childhood, required to guide our recommendations for reading materials that best support early literacy development. The frequent references I read regarding the “promise,” “potential,” and “possibilities” of ebooks—or any technology use with young children—are expressions of hopeful thinking without sufficient research.

Presently, we can be informed by what teachers, psychologists, pediatricians, and researchers are saying about the overuse of screens and concerns related to reading from screens. Information to this end is readily available. (Consider: ”The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens,” “Researchers Voice Concern Over Ebooks’ Effect on Reading Comprehension,” and ”Being a Better Online Reader.”) Librarians have an important role in fostering the early habits that will best help children avoid harms that may accrue later, if not immediately, and support lifelong reading.

Librarian skills in assessing sources of information on this topic are as important as ever. I can see how businesses heavily market ebooks, because ebooks provide higher profit margins. Many who write and speak about technology use and children are in enterprises or careers that depend on technology use. I hope librarians will become more aware of these pressures and maintain our commitment to best practices.

I agree that parents could benefit from librarians as “media mentors.” For this role, I agree with Aaron Schmidt, a principal at the library user experience consultancy Influx, who wrote last year in Library Journal, about putting people first and keeping technology subservient to goals, such as literacy, without making technology itself the goal. In other words, use technology to serve people rather than trying to fit people into technology. Books are the right technology that fit young children. As parent educators, I think we know that children will benefit if they follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, which limit total media use, including ebook use. We can help children by disseminating and explaining these guidelines, encouraging parents to follow them, and finding ways to help parents follow them. Advocating the principle “Don’t insert technology when the real-world experience is better” is wise guidance for parents and children that will help them all through life—but especially with regard to books and early literacy.

Kathy Kleckner is a children’s librarian in Minnesota. She is passionate about children’s picture books and conscientious about helping children become readers. She has experience in academic, school, bookmobile, urban, and suburban libraries.

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Ebooks Enhance Development of the Whole Child | Up for Debate Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:00:53 +0000 MarianneMartens 200x300 Ebooks Enhance Development of the Whole Child | Up for Debate

Marianne Martens

Pete is sitting at his desk
when his teacher says,
‘Come on, Pete
down that hall
to a room with books
on every wall.’
Where is Pete going?
The library!

Does it matter whether Pete the Cat will select a book from a physical wall or virtual wall at the library?  Goodness no! The ideas, art, messages and meaning in a book are what matter more than the format.  Thinking beyond what is on the page can strengthen a young child’s—indeed anyone’s—imagination. We want to give the creative genius of author Eric Litwin and artist James Dean credit for the invention of the character and book series “Pete the Cat” (HarperCollins).

DorothyStoltz 200x300 Ebooks Enhance Development of the Whole Child | Up for Debate

Dorothy Stoltz Credit: Adreon Hubbard

When the best new media tools are expertly selected and appropriately used with children, such tools can support and enhance adults’ role in supporting development of the whole child, especially three-to-eight year-olds, the focus of this article.

Used to complement rather than replace print, the finest ebooks, enhanced ebooks, and book apps (collectively referred to here as “ebooks”) on the market put traditional picture book content in new containers that—like traditional print books—educate and entertain.

The best ebooks:

  • have interactive elements that support and enhance, rather than distract from the text and art of the book;
  • have good navigation that allows the user to be in charge (including the option to turn off interactive elements); and
  • provide an integrated experience, which can add a third dimension to the text and art of a traditional picture book.

In an era when access to technology will help to determine the future success of our children, libraries have the opportunity and responsibility to provide access to such technology. Even more important, however, is the potential for librarians to serve as  media mentors—helping children and grownups select what Anne Carroll Moore, the first children’s librarian at New York Public Library from 1906 to 1941 (and also writer, critic, and advocate for children’s libraries), would call the right book for the right child at the right time. We like to help people find the right ebook or other new media tool for the right child at the right time, and instruct children and adults in the proper use of such tools.

“The librarian’s role is to provide the best developmentally appropriate tools in print or other formats to support healthy child development, early learning and literacy, and to promote parent and child relationships,” says Cen Campbell, founder of, a think tank that supports training of library staff and advocates for the mindful use of new media with young children. “Librarians can encourage children and their parents and caregivers to use books and ebooks wisely.”  (We sit on the advisory board.) 

Storytimes that include the use of new digital reading formats can offer tips for parents and caregivers to do just that, in ways that enhance but don’t replace face-to-face interactions. Librarians can show children how to increase their level of learning by using new media just as they can use print books to learn and develop new skills.  In this way, librarians can help families and children use these materials sensibly, and empower parents and caregivers to select, access, and handle ebooks in accordance with their own values about media.  By engaging caregivers in conversations, librarians can help them develop what the American Academy of Pediatrics calls a Family Media Use Plan.

What does it mean to read in digital formats compared to in print? Print titles are not all equal. Well written, high quality paper-based books with beautiful illustrations exist in the market place alongside low quality print books with poor writing and mediocre illustrations that often function as promotional material for other branded merchandise.

The same diversity is true for ebooks. Ones that focus on clever tech tricks at the expense of high quality text and art are not the ones we, as media mentors, would recommend. In-app purchases that require readers to pay to access additional content are also problematic. To help families avoid these poor quality and highly commercialized ebooks, librarians should offer guidance and reader’s advisory, or rather “appvisory,” to their patrons.

As for the users, important questions to ask—based on our literature review—include: Is media time a relatively small part of a young child’s daily experience?  How is the media being used? Are families focused on joint-media engagement, or co-viewing? Are families considering the advice of health organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics?

Do children primarily spend time playing and interacting with parents and other children?  Does the app or media experience reduce a child to a mere spectator? Many apps are designed for a certain level of interaction.  Does an app or computer program become an avenue for play that uses the imagination? Is it appropriate for the child’s age, and is it used intentionally?

As media mentors, it is up to us to learn about new formats and resources for young people, but also to stay on top of the latest research on the impact of their use on the children we support. Chip Donohue, Ph.D., director of distance learning at the Erikson Institute, an independent institution of higher education focused on early childhood, looks for media research that supports author Lisa Guernsey’s “3 Cs”: context, content, and the individual child. Guernsey, who wrote Screen Time: How Electronic Media— From Baby Videos to Educational Software—Affects Your Young Child (originally published as Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children from Birth to Age Five by Basic Books, 2007), is director of the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation.

”Relationships between context, culture and creation (constructivism) are at the center of the Early Childhood approach,” says Donohue, describing how early childhood educators are “wired” to focus on the importance of children learning through relationships with grownups.   It turns out that media can support and enhance a teacher’s role in developing the whole child as one more tool in an educator’s toolkit.

Every Child Ready to Read @ your library®, the American Library Association’s initiative to engage and educate parents, promotes the use of five early literacy practices with children: talk, sing, read, write, and play. These can all be supported using librarian recommended print books and ebooks.

Moore’s famous guiding principle for librarians to provide “The right book for the right child at the right time” has not diminished in relevance, even if the term “book” might now also include ebooks, enhanced books, and book apps. As Pete the Cat might sing,

So, I got my book!
And, I’m walking along reading.
What’s right?  What’s wrong?
Print book or ebook?
Either way, my book is easy to carry
…and I got it at the library!

Dorothy Stoltz coordinates programming and outreach services at Carroll County (MD) Public Library. She is chair of the ALSC/PLA Every Child Ready to Read Oversight Committee.  Her latest ALA Editions book, The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces, is due out at the end of 2014. She can be reached at

Marianne Martens is assistant professor at Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science and a member of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee. You can read more about her work at, and she can be reached at

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Miley Cyrus, Teen Titans, and Dust Bunnies | Graphic Novel News Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:18:40 +0000 Fame: Miley Cyrus this week in print and digital formats.]]> Bluewater’s “Fame” series, which has already covered David Beckham, Britney Spears, and Justin Bieber, now turns its attention to Miley Cyrus. DC Comics is preparing to launch the beloved Teen Titans in the “Earth One” series. Crowdfunding is working its magic for Dust Bunnies illustrator Brett Brooks as he launches a Kickstarter campaign for his new graphic novel, Deuces Wild.

Miley Cyrus’s Life Turned Into a Comic Bookmileycyrus Miley Cyrus, Teen Titans, and Dust Bunnies | Graphic Novel News

How often do you get handed a headline like this? Fame: Miley Cyrus will be released this week by Bluewater Productions and will be available in print and digital formats. The book, written by Michael L. Frizell and drawn by Juan Luis Rincón, will feature two covers: an alternate Patrick Nagel inspired cover by Nelson Hernandez and the regular edition by famed comic book artist Joey Mason (at right). The “Fame” series was launched in 2010 as a companion piece to the successful “Female Force and “Political Power biography titles. The comic allows Bluewater to delve into the celebrity culture and understand how a person rises to fame, deals with the new-found celebrity status and continue to produce in the public eye. The series includes actors, sports figures, recording artists and royals. A five-page preview plus cover images are available here.

Teen Titans Earth One no watermark 151x300 Miley Cyrus, Teen Titans, and Dust Bunnies | Graphic Novel NewsTeen Titans: Earth One Coming from DC Comics

DC Entertainment has announced the next installment in the series, Teen Titans: Earth One. Award-winning creators Jeff Lemire (Justice League United, Green Arrow) and artist Terry Dodson (Wonder Woman) reinvent DC Comics’ youngest heroes, with an all-new mythos in an all-new world. Author Lemire’s goal with the “Earth One” books is to take superhero comics and set them in more of a real world setting. “I am approaching it like I’m doing the movie version of the Teen Titans. It has to be completely accessible and also very relatable,” he said. “As much as I could, I tried to make these characters real teenagers with real personalities, and artist Terry Dodson gives these characters so much personality.” Watch for this series to launch November 2014.

Take a look at Good Comics for Kids for a preview of the latest title in the Teen Titans Go! series, #5, which I’m calling Oh,The Humanity!

 Kickstarter Campaign for Indie Graphic Novel
DWcrewshot Miley Cyrus, Teen Titans, and Dust Bunnies | Graphic Novel NewsAuthor/illustrator Brett Brooks had a story in his head that just had to get out, and in true indie fashion, he put together a Kickstarter campaign in order to launch Deuces WildThis sci-fi action graphic novel follows four bounty hunters in their pursuit of a rogue assassin. Set in deep space in the House sector, The Deck—an imperialist 52-member conglomerate whose hierarchy is structured after the ranks of playing cards—puts a bounty out on the Two of Diamonds (Deuces) after he goes maverick and begins lashing out against his own government. The graphic novel is set to be released in 2015; for more information, see the comic’s website.

DustBunnycover 176x300 Miley Cyrus, Teen Titans, and Dust Bunnies | Graphic Novel NewsBrooks’s earlier title Dust Bunny is the gritty, crime-noir tale of Dust, a law-enforcing bunny held together by static electricity, and his microscopic partner Mite. Sweeping the streets of Basement City for answers regarding a highly respected figurehead’s murder, the duo embarks on an investigation full of twists, turns, and eccentric characters. But following the killer’s tracks proves to be a dangerous path, as what begins as a black-and-white case quickly escalates into an unraveled conspiracy more threatening than anything Basement City has ever seen. Both titles are appropriate for ages 12 and up.






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‘Til We Meet Again: New Series Installments for Intermediate Readers │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go Mon, 18 Aug 2014 21:25:47 +0000 Children in second through fourth grades often exhaust a complete series in a matter of weeks. New entries to a returning series are met with cries of “Can I check it out first?” For kids searching for chapter books that introduce them to characters who feel as they do, the following titles selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild will be just right.

With the turn of the publishing calendar, a new JLG Booktalks to Go: Fall 2014 LiveBinder has been created. Titles are now sorted by interest level. Clicking on that tab will take you to the books and their resources. The Spring 2014 LiveBinder will continue to be posted.

Charlie Bumpers vs the Squeaking Skull ‘Til We Meet Again: New Series Installments for Intermediate Readers │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go HARLEY, Bill. Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull. illus. by Adam Gustavson. (Charlie Bumpers). Peachtree. Sept. 2014. ISBN 9781561458080. JLG Level: A+ : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3–5).

It’s almost Halloween and Charlie Bumpers has two things on his mind: winning the costume contest and becoming “de-scared.” For the first time he gets to trick or treat without his little sister, but the trade-off is a sleepover with a horror movie. His friends will laugh if he screams like at the last show he saw. The lure of big candy from large houses is too much to resist.

Master storyteller Harley guides readers on a roller coaster ride of laughs and thrills. He provides resources for teachers on his website, in addition to posting lyrics to his songs and digital downloads of his stories. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube. Read more about the illustrator on the publisher’s website. A must-see is the Charlie Bumpers Blog where you’ll find short posts and a book trailer― just right for your readers.

Annika Riz ‘Til We Meet Again: New Series Installments for Intermediate Readers │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoMILLS, Claudia. Annika Riz, Math Whiz  illus. by Rob Shepperson. (Franklin School Friends: Bk. 2). Farrar. 2014. ISBN 9780374303358. JLG Level: A : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3–5).

Annika Riz loves math. Everyone in her house loves math. So when her teacher tells her about a sudoku contest, she is determined to do whatever it takes to win. In the meantime, her Franklin School friends need to bake cookies for the school carnival. How hard could it possibly be?

Read about the author on her website where you can also find her blog. A Common Core State Standards (CCSS) curriculum guide for the series is available. You can follow her on Twitter. Connect with the illustrator at the publisher’s website. Betty Crocker has a website for kids’ baking. Kids interested in sudoku can check out Daily Sudoku for Kids.

Frank Einstein ‘Til We Meet Again: New Series Installments for Intermediate Readers │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoSCIESZKA, Jon. Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor. illus. by Brian Biggs. Abrams/Amulet. (Frank Einstein: Bk. 1). Aug. 2014. ISBN 9781419712180. JLG Level: A : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3–5).

Science, robots, an evil villain, and Universal-Strength Peanut Butter Bubble Gum―who could ask for more in a chapter book? Frank Einstein is determined to win the Midville Science Prize with an invention that will change the world. But spies are everywhere and the fight to save his Grampa Al’s shop brings twists to a plot that races to the finish line.

Blending science with humor, Scieszka introduces his new series. Readers will want to know the correct pronunciation of the beloved author. His website is not-to-be-missed for fun, links to Guys Read, and his Favorite Answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Check out the amazing illustrations in the first of six books on the illustrator’s website. You can follow Scieszka and Biggs on Twitter. An activity guide with science experiments, word find, and other activities, as well as a teaching guide with extensive vocabulary and CCSS questions are available on the publisher’s website. Additional resources are posted in the Fall 2014 LiveBinder, such as the Wonderopolis lesson, “Do Robots Wonder?” and Tobey’s Robot Workshop at PBS.

Justin Case Rules Tools ‘Til We Meet Again: New Series Installments for Intermediate Readers │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoVAIL, Rachel. Justin Case: Rules, Tools, and Maybe a Bully. illus. by Matthew Cordell. (Justin Case: Bk. 3). Fewel & Friends. 2014. ISBN 9781250039781. JLG Level: A+ : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3–5).

Justin Case is in the fourth grade for goodness sake, but the rules are different. His friend Noah is mad, and he can’t figure out why. Then there is his teacher Mr. Leonard whose raised eyebrow shuts them all up as completely as mute button. His little sister continually breaks the no kissing rule. And it’s the girls who come to his rescue when the boys give him the silent treatment. Everything gives him something to worry about.

Delightful illustrations and the poignant commentary of Justin Case’s life unite for a hilarious third installment of the series. On Vail’s website you’ll find links for teens and kids. Learn about the author’s interests and past jobs. Introduce new readers to the series with the book trailer. A visit to Cordell’s website reveals a glimpse at his portfolio and links to his blog. The Styling Librarian has a great interview with Cordell on her blog. Follow the author and illustrator on Twitter.

Case of the Stolen Sixpence ‘Til We Meet Again: New Series Installments for Intermediate Readers │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoWEBB, Holly. The Case of the Stolen Sixpence: The Mysteries of Maisie Hitchins. illus. by Marion Lindsay. (The Mysteries of Maisie Hitchins). Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2014. ISBN 9780544339286. JLG Level: ME : Mystery/Adventure Elementary (Grades 2–6) .

Maisie Hitchins gets her chance to be a detective when the butcher delivery boy loses his job for theft. She quickly learns that the work is harder than she expected. Wearing disguises can be dangerous. Finding time to investigate when there are chores to be done is difficult. Proving her friend’s innocence puts her in a dilemma when she uncovers the truth of the crime.

Set in Victorian London, young readers get a taste of life in the past in the new series. For those without much experience, a visit to Primary History Victorian Britain reveals information about children of the time period. On the author’s website readers get a taste of the first chapter. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. The series has its own website, featuring activities and an author video interview.  What interesting new job is the illustrator doing? Find out by reading her bio on her website. Kids may wonder about their fingerprints while reading the book, so include the Wonderopolis lesson, “What’s So Special About Your Fingerprints?” in your plans. Budding detectives can learn more about spy work at FBI Kids.

Additional Resources

The resources for the above titles have been organized in a new JLG Booktalks to Go: Fall 2014 LiveBinder. Titles are sorted by interest level, PreK-3, 3-6, 5-8, and YA. Check out our award-winning Spring 2014 LiveBinder which organizes resources for spring releases. All websites are posted within each LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.

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

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


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Teens Teach Tech Grants, Giveaways, and Teens’ Top Ten Voting Opens | SLJTeen News Mon, 18 Aug 2014 20:09:48 +0000 Looking for a way to get your older patrons up to speed on the latest tech gadgets, but short on staff time? Turn to your teens for help by having them apply for a Teens Teaching Tech grant. Chronicle has a galley for every reader in its giveaway basket, including The Spiritglass Charade, with its captivating cover. And it’s time for teens to vote for their favorites from the YALSA Teens’ Top Ten 2014 nominee list!

Teens Teach Tech Grants Application Now Available

VolunteenNation Teens Teach Tech Grants, Giveaways, and Teens Top Ten Voting Opens | SLJTeen NewsTeen advisory groups can apply for a $250 grant from Volunteen Nation to hold a Teens Teaching Tech program in the library. Teens Teaching Tech is a workshop series designed to provide older adults with one-on-one support with their modern devices from teens in the community, and to foster and cultivate intergenerational relationships.

Volunteen Nation supplies the training materials and funding for promotional flyers, print-outs and volunteer staff T-shirts. You can find out the very simple grant application here; just get your teens to do it by midnight EST September 15.

Trio of Galley Giveaways from Chronicle Books

spiritglass Teens Teach Tech Grants, Giveaways, and Teens Top Ten Voting Opens | SLJTeen Newsrhymeschemer Teens Teach Tech Grants, Giveaways, and Teens Top Ten Voting Opens | SLJTeen Newslowriders Teens Teach Tech Grants, Giveaways, and Teens Top Ten Voting Opens | SLJTeen NewsIn The Spiritglass Charade, a “Stoker & Holmes” novel by Colleen Gleason, Sherlock Homes’s niece Mina and Bram Stoker’s sister Evaline use their wits and clever contraptions to investigate crime in Victorian steampunk London. Click here to request an advance copy.

The bully becomes the bullied in Rhyme Schemer by K. A. Holt. This is a heartrending—and hilarious—novel in verse. Click here to request.

Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper was a huge hit at ALA in Las Vegas. Three friends go on a wacky adventure into space to win the lowrider contest and make their dreams to open a garage come true. Space facts and Spanish vocabulary bring this intergalactic adventure down to earth. A free galley is available here.

Teens’ Top Reads Voting is Open

TeensTopTen logo web Teens Teach Tech Grants, Giveaways, and Teens Top Ten Voting Opens | SLJTeen NewsTeens’ Top Ten, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Voting opened August 15 and runs through Teen Read Week, which is taking place October 12-18. Readers ages 12 to 18 can vote online on the YALSA website; the winners will be announced the week after Teen Read Week. Check out the trailer below for a quick overview of the 25 nominated titles.

The top ten titles will be announced on October 20, so be sure to check back for the list of winners.

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For 1:1, Content Is Key | Next Big Thing Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:00:05 +0000 Harris-Christopher_Contrib200x200pixBack in January, I wrote that 2014 would be the year of 1:1. Little did I know the extent to which this would become true in my rural region. Seven of the districts that I serve are implementing some level of 1:1 for 2014-15. The districts are all quite small—from just under 500 students to about 1,500—which can both help and hinder deployment.

The variety of models and hardware purchased will provide a real-world lab for exploring what works for school tech. Most of the districts are using Chromebooks, but two are going with Android tablets (LearnPads and Kenna tablets from TeacherTube), and one is considering either Microsoft Surface tablets or Windows netbooks. The smallest district is going full 1:1, while some others are looking to implement for grades 3–12.

My role is to facilitate a successful adoption throughout the region. One might think that as a former tech coordinator, I’d focus on professional development (PD). That will be a critical part of deployment, but the most important element is content.

Teaching teachers how to use technology works…but only for a while. If they don’t have material or killer apps that keep them using the technology, even the best PD won’t matter. Curricular content and related apps that meet instructional needs will make new technology stick.

The great news is that our libraries are well placed to deliver content. As I noted in an earlier column, we’ve been buying digital content and ebooks for classroom use for quite a while. For some, buying content without 1:1 devices seemed like putting the cart before the horse. But waiting around for a horse doesn’t get anything started. Build a cart, and you’re all set for a horse, a person, or a device to start pulling. The content and apps are the cart. Even if we can’t pull the cart quite yet, at least we’re making progress while getting up to speed on 1:1.

In our region, we’re also looking for more instructional resources that we can deliver through the library and library learning portals. Enough with the journal articles: we need real content designed for classroom teaching. I mean material such as Rosen’s PowerKnowledge and Core Concepts packages for science, ABC-CLIO resources for high school social studies, and Capstone’s expanding PebbleGo products for younger learners. Teachers can understand and implement these tools on new 1:1 hardware. These are sticky products that will ideally encourage daily use of Chromebooks and tablets.

The other key is to acquire quality apps. These tools have to both solve a problem and feel easy enough to use in order to allow for a smooth transition. For English teachers, that might mean a research support tool like NoodleTools or EasyBib. Or the new editing tool, Poetica, which integrates with Google Docs and makes beautiful use of standard correcting marks.

This is the time to share and build together. If 1:1 is coming to a third of my small, rural districts, it’s only a matter of time until it arrives in yours. Whether through BYOD or another hybrid adoption, we need to be ready to support the new hardware. Yes, we must be the source for PD as well, but the classroom content is what will make 1:1 truly work as the. What other apps would you recommend?

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