School Library Journal The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:57:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 East Harlem Bookstore Launches Book Drive to Aid Unaccompanied Child Immigrants Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:01:18 +0000  East Harlem Bookstore Launches Book Drive to Aid Unaccompanied Child Immigrants

Donations to La Casa Azul’s book drive for unaccompanied child immigrants. Photos courtesy of La Casa Azul Bookstore.

As President Obama, Latin American leaders, and political pundits debate what do with the influx of 50,000 unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States from Mexico and Central America since October 1, a bookseller, a professor, and members of the El Barrio community in Manhattan’s East Harlem neighborhood have begun a project to serve the educational and emotional needs of the detained children.

East Harlem’s La Casa Azul Bookstore, in collaboration with Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project (U-LAMP) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/Safe Passage Project, has spearheaded a book drive and a series of programs to collect Spanish-language and kid-appropriate books for young immigrants in the New York City region, and to raise awareness about their current situation.

The drive, taking place at the bookstore, is the brainchild of bookstore owner and activist Aurora Anaya-Cerda and longtime friend Isabel Martinez, a Latino Studies professor at John Jay, part of the City University of New York system.

 East Harlem Bookstore Launches Book Drive to Aid Unaccompanied Child Immigrants“One day we were talking about this situation over coffee, and we decided to do something about it,” Anaya-Cerda told School Library Journal. “Since there are about 100 children in the Children’s Village at Dobbs Ferry, New York, which is not that far away from us, we came up with this project to help these children in need.” Martinez has been working with undocumented minors since 2006. Her grandmother entered the United States as an unaccompanied teenage migrant, and the topic is close to her heart, and also her research area.

Since the drive kicked off on Thursday, July 10, hundreds of books have flowed in. The first donations came from celebrated Latino authors Rudolfo Anaya, Julia Alvarez, and Sandra Cisneros, followed by 200 books from Penguin. In addition to the book drive, two films exploring immigrant issues will be screened at the bookstore: Which Way Home on Thursday, July 24 and the Spanish language Sin Nombre on Sunday, August 10. The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health has also joined the project by donating the funds for materials to make greeting cards for the detained children and families. The cards will accompany the donated books.

EH 140724 CasaAzul East Harlem Bookstore Launches Book Drive to Aid Unaccompanied Child ImmigrantsAnaya-Cerda explained that the book drive is only the beginning of her efforts. “After the drive is over, we’ll be calling for volunteers to sort the donations. Then, the bookstore staff will be delivering books and spending time at the facility with the kids and families at least one day a month for the remainder of the year.” They are only accepting donations of age-appropriate, culturally relevant, Spanish-language books for preschool to middle school grade levels. The drive ends on August 10.

More on how to support the book drive from La Casa Azul Website:

1. Purchase books at La Casa Azul Bookstore, in NYC.
Mention the Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project (U-LAMP) and receive 10 percent off your book purchase.

2. Ship new/like new books to:
La Casa Azul Bookstore
143 E. 103rd St
New York, NY 10029
Attn: Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project (U-LAMP)

3. Email La Casa Azul Bookstore with questions at

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Chronicle | 2014 Preview Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:14:17 +0000 SLJ was in San Francisco for Chronicle's Fall 2014 Preview where illustrated children's books with vibrant visuals were the showstopping hits. ]]> BearsSeaEscape resize Chronicle | 2014 PreviewSan Francisco’s Chronicle Publishing House was packed with librarians and booksellers for the Fall 2014 Preview. The program opened with the unveiling of the summer reading partnership between San Francisco Public Library and Chronicle Books and featured art inspired by Sue Ganz-Schmitt’s Planet Kindergarten (2014), illustrated by Shane Prigmore.

It’s hard to not be overly gushy and enthusiastic about Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up (Sept.), an interactive book extraordinary in its simplicity and innovation. Guests of the preview were able to “visit” with its author, Tullet, via videochat as he sat in his studio apartment in Paris.

Children and adults alike will love the nods to books and movies in the new Benjamin Chaud book The Bear’s Sea Escape (Aug). The first book featuring Chaud’s father and son ursine pair, The Bear’s Song (2013) was compared to the “Where’s Waldo” series, as readers are presented with busy spreads where they attempt to locate the main characters. In Sea Escape, Chaud shows mini-scenes from the the  cross-section of a ship, including a hilarious homage to the movie Titanic, with Papa Bear at the prow of the ship, having a bit of a self-pitying Rose moment. Two floors below him, the audience watches a screening of the movie itself.

Before Flora and the Flamingo received a Caldecott honor earlier this year, Chronicle had already signed on for a sequel (and a sequel’s sequel) to the inventive wordless picture book about a ballerina who befriends a flamingo. In its follow up, Flora and the Penguin, Flora takes to the ice and forms an unexpected friendship with a penguin. Original art from this title was displayed along with the scarf that provided the color inspiration for the book.

FloraPenguin resize Chronicle | 2014 PreviewWhen editor Tamra Tuller finishes working on a book, she shared that she never reads the finished copy.

“By that point, I’ve already read it nine million times, and I’m always worried I’ll find an error that will be unfixable.”

Her exception was the finished book Rhyme Schemer by K. A. Holt (Oct.).

“I picked it up just intending to browse through it. I couldn’t put it down all day. [While riding the] BART on the way home, I was laughing and crying like a crazy person.”

Illustrations were just as big a draw. Ryan Hayes’s cover design of Barry Jonsberg’s The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee (Sept.) shows how the main character Candice likes all her ducks in a row and how she’s just like the yellow duck in the middle, swimming her own way.

Ginee Seo, director of children’s publishing, grew up a huge fan of comics, and she told attendees how Cathy Camper’s Lowriders In Space (Nov.) blew her mind. The book’s illustrator, Raul the Third, is a fine artist from Boston, and his style for this title was inspired by his childhood experiences as a kid with no money for art supplies. He had to get creative with cross-hatching and basic ink colors from ballpoint pens and lined classroom paper.

LowridersSpace resize Chronicle | 2014 PreviewBram Stoker’s niece and Sherlock Holmes’s sister, crime fighters and mystery solvers, are back! Senior designer Jen Tolo Pierce focused on the cover art in her presentation of Colleen Gleason’s second “Stoker & Holmes” book: The Spiritglass Charade (Oct.). As with the first book, when working on the cover art, Chronicle chose an object that was intrinsically related to the story. An artisan glassblower from North Carolina designed an orb for the cover. This process is done in one sitting—which can take up to eight hours. “You feel like you’re falling into it, just like the one in the book,” says Jen. Participants were able to examine the actual orb, which shifts mysteriously when turned.

Attendees were also lucky enough to experience the nonstop comedy show that is author and illustrator Mac Barnett. In Telephone (Sept.), his latest picture book (illustrated by Jen Corace), zaniness abounds as the message a mother bird attempts to pass on to her son is told and retold (and misheard) to hilarious results. What a hoot! Barnett started off his talk by discussing several different career paths he almost took, including his plan to be a professor of Icelandic literature.

In the present, he set out to prove that adults are excellent and mature listeners, as illustrated by a game of telephone.

Telephone resize Chronicle | 2014 PreviewI was in the middle of the room, and what I heard and passed on was “The language of birds is anxious.” When we got to the grand finale of listening, the report was:

“The language of turds is dangerous.”

Much hilarity ensued at that point, and the laughter rose again when Mac revealed his original sentence: a quotation from Gilbert White, an English clergyman:

“The language of birds is very ancient….Little is said, but much is understood.”

Afterward, we looked at other books, including backlist titles and more upcoming gems.

Here were a few top choices:

Based on the song by Bob Marley and  adapted by his daughter Cedella Marley, the multicultural, exuberant One Love illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Aug.) will also be available as a board book.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld’s Duck, Rabbit (Aug.) is simply hilarious, A sturdy board book that will hold up to multiple reads.

Lorena Sminovich’s You Are My Baby: Pets, and You Are My Baby: Woodland (Sept.) are elightful board books that allow readers to flip two sets of pages: one for the parent animals and the other, smaller nested pages for the baby animals Kids can laugh at the mismatches they create in this mix-and-match game and delight when all the babies are back with their parent.

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The Numberlys Imag.N.O.Tron | Touch and Go Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:12:04 +0000 photo4 600x450 The Numberlys Imag.N.O.Tron | Touch and Go

I’m a big fan of Moonbot Studios—that “secret zero-gravity colony inhabited by interstellar beings” in Shreveport, LA. Co-founder and author William Joyce and his crewe have produced some wildly imaginative, successful productions, including The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore of Oscar-winning fame. That story has seen several incarnations, the last an Imag.N.O.Tron version featuring “augmented reality.” If you haven’t yet seen how that works, take a peek at our demonstration. As viewers hold an iPad over the book version of Morris Lessmore, characters begin to move, pages flutter, and books whisper. It’s pure magic.

Now Moonbot has created an Imag.N.O.Tron app for The Numberlys, their homage to classic films of the 1920s, specifically Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The Numberlys features a futuristic world filled with machinery and numbers, but devoid of color and letters. In that world five rotund creatures set out to make something “different” and through trial and error forge the 26 letters of the alphabet. School Library Journal’s reviewer praised that production, calling it a “cinematic” with a “gorgeously rich orchestral soundtrack.” Moonbot Studios has since produced a Numberlys film and William Joyce and Christina Ellis’s The Numberlys is now a book (Atheneum, 2013).

Like the augmented Morris Lessmore, viewers will need a copy of the book to activate the Numberlys Imag.N.O.Tron (iOS, $.99; Android, $.99; Kindle HDX, $.99). Unlike Morris Lessmore, this app is less story enhancement than gameplay. With device and book in hand Imag.N.O.Tron adds motion and sound (grinding gears, marching feet) to many of the story’s scenes, but the real goal is to locate and collect the letters of the alphabet and various toys on its pages. To capture them viewers must hold a phone or tablet on “camera” mode over a page of the book; a tap to a glowing object or letter will lock it in. Children who have enjoyed the Numberlys story app will recognize the accented voice Mike Martindale, who lets them know just what they have found.

Once captured the items can dropped into the toy box (letters are first presented as simple puzzles that must be pieced together) along with the digits 0-9. On the toy box stage children can play or build with whatever assortment of toys they have collected—possibly gears, a helicopter, pipe fittings, a pulley, and others items befitting an industrial setting. Number and alphabet games are also available; both involve dragging letters or digits into their corresponding outlined shapes. Letters and words (“piston” “gear” “box” “book,” etc.), are sounded out and pronounced and numbers are voiced when completed. Words and numbers are also illustrated, offering concept reinforcement. Because it takes a little maneuvering and effort to capture the images and unlock the alphabet game, the app is best suited to children with some fine motor control and a little patience, but those that persevere will be rewarded with an opportunity for imaginative play and the stunning graphics we have come to expect from Moonbot.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

cphoto 600x450 The Numberlys Imag.N.O.Tron | Touch and Go

In the toy box with The Numberlys Imag.N.O.Tron (Moonbot) Joyce and Ellis



For more app reviews visit the Touch and Go webpage.

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Generation Tablet | Next Big Thing Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:39:49 +0000 slj1407w-TK_NBT-multitaskingkid

They are the rising tablet generation: the young children entering early-learning programs at public libraries or in preschools. Some of these kids, like my four-year-old daughter, have had their hands on tablets for their whole lives.

Launched in April 2010, the iPad ushered in a new era of computing. The tablet was introduced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs as a “lean back” device built for casual use in a relaxed environment. In other words, a toy, not a tool. These “toys” have come to dominate the market, taking a huge bite out of traditional computer sales and creating a new app-driven market.

Four years in, I’m starting to think that maybe tablets aren’t so good. They’re wonderful devices, don’t get me wrong—providing unbelievable computing power in a simple-to-use package. But they aren’t good for developing technology problem-solvers.

Back when I had to back up my first computer onto 92 floppy disks—and walk uphill to school both ways, as I recall—computer users had to be creative. My friends and I played around with OS/2, a series of operating systems created by Microsoft and IBM, because we were too cool for Windows 3.1. We opened the boxes and learned how to work with the hardware that powered our software. Kids today have it too easy.

Our challenge as librarians supporting early learning is finding ways to develop creative and curious children—kids who explore and hack in physical and virtual worlds. The safe, easy, and lovable tablet doesn’t help with this problem.

We must find ways to employ technology as a tool, thoughtfully engaging our children. How about a chore chart? Encourage parents to create one on a tablet so that the device shines as a tool meeting a need beyond entertainment. Our four-year-old has her own Google account with a calendar for her activities. She can look at her color and see when things are happening.

Helping parents find ways to model technology use with children is important. It’s even more critical that we empower kids to use technology and technical thinking themselves to solve problems. Traditional building toys like blocks and Lincoln Logs get kids to think about the logical process of construction. They learn about the importance of a strong foundation and the need to support roof structures. More importantly, they learn about trial and error, perseverance in problem-solving, and the need to think creatively in order to find a solution.

Our challenge is to replicate this in the digital tablet world. We need to find (or build) apps that support constructivist learning, creative thinking, and problem-solving for young learners. To find tools that young kids can use to track data and manage their lives. To create a stuffed animal inventory database—or a weekly calendar with pictures for scheduled activities.

I envision early childhood education as a makerspace and programming boot camp that prepares our kids to use the tools of our digital world, not just the toys. Oh, and if they could help shore up our economy (and our retirements) as high-tech enabled workers, that wouldn’t be so bad either.

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Educator and Library Leader Kay E. Vandergrift Dies at 73 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:49:30 +0000 kay87 Educator and Library Leader Kay E. Vandergrift Dies at 73Kay E. Vandergrift, an esteemed educator and leader in the field of children’s and young adult literature who served as professor and associate dean emerita at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information (SCI), died July 1 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She was 73.

Vandergrift was born in 1940. She received a B.S. in library education at Millersville State College in Pennsylvania before going on to study at Teachers College at Columbia University, where she earned an M.A. in elementary education in 1965. In 1978, she received an Ed.D. in elementary education. Vandergrift worked as a school librarian and also taught at Columbia University School of Library Science, as well as at Barnard College, Queens College, and several other institutions.

Vandergrift joined Rutgers University in 1985 and retired in 2004. During that time, she served as chair of the Department of Library and Information Science, director of the MLIS program, director of distance education, and associate dean. She was a beloved teacher and invited many children’s book authors to visit her classes, sparking and fostering a love of literature among her students. During Vandergrift’s time at Rutgers, the Department of Library was consistently ranked among the top 10 programs in North America and as the best program in Services for Children and Youth by U.S. News and World Report.  She also realized the school’s decade-long dream of offering a program in information and technology to undergraduates with the founding of the Information Technology and Informatics degree program.

In addition to her scholarly accomplishments, Vandergrift was known for her ability to nurture and mentor both students and colleagues. Rocco Staino, contributor editor for SLJ and retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York, was a student of Vandergrift’s in the 1970s at Teachers College and praised the professor’s forward-thinking approach to children’s literature.

“She was always on the cutting edge in having teachers and librarians present controversial topics to kids. I specifically remember reading The Grass Pipe (Little, Brown, 1969) by Robert Coles, which was about two ninth graders experimenting with marijuana, and Norma Klein’s Mom, the Wolfman and Me (Pantheon, 1972), [in which] an 11-year-old girl describes her life and relationship with her mother, who has never married.”

Author Marc Aronson, a lecturer at Rutgers School of Communication and Information, spoke of Vandergrift’s influence in his own path toward education. “I got to know [Vandergrift] when I worked in publishing through our mutual admiration for Paul Fleischman, some of whose books I had the good fortune to edit,” Aronson said. “She and I stayed in touch, and when I grew interested in teaching, I approached her about coming to Rutgers. Though she had retired, she was most gracious in facilitating my connections with the school. So I feel I got to know and admire her twice: through books, and through teaching—two passions we shared.”

Her influence, however, spread beyond the walls of Rutgers. Vandergrift was one of the first professors to establish a significant Web presence, spearheading the use of the Internet as a teaching tool. Her website, a self-declared “means of sharing ideas and information with all those interested in literature for children and young adults,” was considered an important resource for those working with children and linked to more than 500 other sites. Like a Wikipedia for children’s literature, the site collected information on publishers, biographies of well known authors, bibliographies for librarians, analyses of literary works, and more. Vandergrift’s “Snow White” site, an in depth examination of the Grimm’s fairy tale that compiled several resources, such as criticisms, alternate story versions, and illustrations, was particularly well received and was featured as an outstanding scholarly site in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 1997.

Vandergrift also wrote and edited a number of books, including Mosaics of Meaning: Enhancing the Intellectual Life of Young Adults Through Story, Ways of Knowing: Literature and the Intellectual Life of Children (both Scarecrow, 1996), and Child and Story: The Literary Connection (Neal-Schuman, 1980).

Her myriad awards and honors included the Teaching Excellence Award from the Association for Library and Information Science Education in 2001, the Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching from Rutgers University in 1996, and a Mellon Grant from Rutgers’s Zimmerli Art Museum in 1997.

Vandergrift’s former colleagues at Rutgers spoke of her enduring impact that her presence had in the field of librarianship and of children’s and young adult literature.

Michael Joseph, rare books cataloger at Rutgers, who worked with Vandergrift, praised her legacy. “Vandergrift was a multifaceted figure, a cutting-edge educator with boundless knowledge and expertise in children’s literature. Foremost among her interests were a concern with the representation of gender, race and ethnicity, illustration, and how technology might mediate education,” he said. “Although Kay withdrew from active participation in children’s literature after her retirement, her passionate commitment to the field is alive in the work of her many illustrious and dedicated students.”

“Kay Vandergrift was an extraordinary individual who used her many talents and creativity to advance education,” said Claire McInerney, acting dean of Rutgers SCI. “She was an intellectual who nevertheless had her feet on the ground and was able to launch new programs, nurture young scholars, and deal with the practical issues of university administration—all with a positive spirit and a sense of humor.”

Rutgers has established a scholarship fund for library and information science students in Vandergrift’s honor. Those who are interested can contact Linda Christian, Director of Development for the SCI.

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Opinion: Dear Congressman, Research Shows Closing School Libraries and Cutting Certified Librarians Does Not Make Sense Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:00:49 +0000 SarahLittman rezie Opinion: Dear Congressman, Research Shows Closing School Libraries and Cutting Certified Librarians Does Not Make Sense

Author and advocate Sarah Darer Littman

Last April, after I’d criticized my congressman—Jim Himes of District 4 in Connecticut—in a column, he asked if we could meet for a “deep dive” on education issues so he could understand why they have become so polarizing.

During our meeting, I asked him this question:

If we truly care about literacy, why are we spending so much money on standardized testing when our high needs schools don’t have functioning libraries with a certified media specialist?

His response was to ask me if there is research to justify the salary of a media specialist. My answer was a resounding “Yes!”

There is ample research, and I gathered much of it myself from existing studies while also conducting my own informal online research questionnaire for school librarians and librarians.

Here is what my research tells us:

It tells us children in poverty grow up with fewer books in the home and less access to bookstores and public libraries than their higher Supplemental Education Services counterparts (Neuman and Celano, 2001).

It tells us that even after for adjusting for factors such as parental education, father’s occupation, and social class, the impact of having books available in the home is as strong a predictor of school success as socioeconomic status (Evans, Kelley, Sikora, and Treiman, 2010). Despite this, Congress substantially reduced funding for organizations like Reading is Fundamental, which provide books to populations in need.

A substantial body of research—34 studies to be exact—known as the “School Library Impact Studies,” which includes data from 23 states and one Canadian province, was summarized by Debra Kachel, project director of the Pennsylvania School Library Project, et al (2013) at Mansfield University, and provides a wealth of evidence about the positive correlation between properly staffed and funded school libraries and improved student achievement.

“Although the effects of poverty still remain a primary force in determining student academic success, state after state showed that such socioeconomic conditions could not explain away the impact of school library programs, especially school library staffing, funding, and quality collections,” Kachel concludes.

If we’re trying to close the achievement gap, library cuts make even less sense. According to Keith Curry Lance, co-creator of the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service and a long-time state and national leader in the development and use of public library statistics, his 2011 SLJ report with Linda Hofschire, a research analyst at the Library Research Service at Colorado State Library, was the first to document the fact that, on average, states that gained school librarians between the midpoint of the post 9/11 recession (2004-2005) and the next recession (2008-2009) had significantly better reading scores than states that lost school librarians during the same interval. Furthermore, among states that gained librarians, the test score improvements for poor, black, and Hispanic students were greater than for all students. As for English language learners, states that gained librarians maintained their reading scores, while states that lost librarians saw their scores drop noticeably.

The SLJ findings could not be explained away by overall school staffing trends, and an additional study by the Library Research Service (Lance and Hofschire, 2012) noted that the findings persisted regardless of the socioeconomic status of students.

himes official lrg resize Opinion: Dear Congressman, Research Shows Closing School Libraries and Cutting Certified Librarians Does Not Make Sense

Congressman Jim Himes of District 4 in Connecticut. Official portrait from state of Connecticut.

I received 128 responses to my questionnaire from librarians representing 24 states. With a few rare exceptions, the overall picture reveals library policy decisions that make little or no sense. Library budgets, if there are any at all, have been cut dramatically.

Alice Sajdera, a school library media specialist in Lincoln, Massachusetts, said that over the last five years, her budget has shrunk by 30 percent. That makes it difficult to meet the needs of her students.

“At current levels, we maintain the collection; we don’t grow it. I can’t meet the demands of the significant changes to the curriculum.”

That’s for the libraries that remain. A librarian in Ohio reported that her district closed all of its K–8 libraries. In one district in New Hampshire, “ Technology integrators’ were hired for the elementary schools instead of librarians. This follows the building of new schools that have ‘book collections’ rather than libraries. The emphasis is on technology and iPads. The ‘book collections’ are staffed by volunteers or paraprofessionals.”

From Delaware: “District is considering elimination of all library positions and replacing librarians with non-certified ‘technology specialists.’ Administration states that libraries are obsolete in a technology age.”

This is the latest wrongheaded policymaker trend: dismantling libraries into technology “commons,” based on the mistaken notion that digital learning provides a magical cure-all for the achievement gap. As Neuman and Celano observed  in their book Giving our Children a Fighting Chance: Poverty, Children and the Development of Information Capital (Teachers College Press, 2012) based on their 10-year Philadelphia library study:

“The very tool designed to level the playing field is, in fact, un-leveling it…With the spread of educational technology, the not-so-small disparities in skills for children of affluence and children of poverty are about to get even larger.”

From Massachusetts I heard: “We have closed about six libraries completely in my district in the past four years. One was turned into a ‘high tech’ center. All the books were removed and they now use it for online classes and lab time.”

I received a similar story from a librarian in Illinois: “The high school library was converted to a learning commons. The primary focus of the commons is to provide tutoring services and study tables for students who are not meeting academic standards. The library certified staff was cut from two to one. The fiction collection was moved across the hall to the testing center. The district was attempting to support the needs of the students who were not ‘passing’ the state test.”

There is no evidence that turning libraries into “drill and kill” facilities to improve test scores will turn students into critical thinkers or lifelong readers. In fact, the school impact studies and the Philadelphia library study tell us that doing so may well have a deleterious effect, particularly on our most vulnerable populations.

Kids need library resources and librarians to teach them media literacy. It’s not enough to hand a kid a Chromebook or an iPad and to think they can learn by Googling. A respondent from New York pointed out, “…a librarian is uniquely qualified to meet Common Core State Standards. With emphasis on research, reflection, analyzing, interpretation, etc, librarians have the ability to share multiple sources and teach evaluation.”

With limited budgets, how do we justify the cost? My question for policy makers: how do we not justify the cost, given the overwhelming research on this issue? As a librarian from Massachusetts so rightly observed, “The key to all education is literacy. This is what we overlook when libraries are cut or closed.”

What we can cut is the time and money we’re spending on standardized testing. One magnet school in Hartford, Connecticut spent 59 out of 180 days in testing last year. With spending on standardized testing fees up 30 percent in five years, and more than doubling in some of the larger urban districts like Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, school districts have started to ask tough questions about which tests are necessary, and what, exactly, they tell educators about students.

Educational researcher and linguistics expert Stephen D. Krashen suggests scrapping the massive expense of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, and using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for measurement purposes. The NAEP is administered to small groups who each take a portion of the test every few years. Results are extrapolated to estimate how larger groups would score. There’s no teaching to the test or test prep, because the tests are zero stakes.

“If we are interested in a general picture of how children are doing, this is the way to do it. If we are interested in finding out about a patient’s health, we only need to look at a small sample of their blood, not all of it,” Krashen suggests. “The money saved by vastly reducing standardized testing can be invested in improving libraries in high-poverty areas: If we do this, we will be investing in solving the problem, not just measuring it.”

Our children have been suffering for over a decade because policymakers have chosen to ignore the research on libraries and literacy. We can’t afford to let politicians play dumb any longer.

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning novelist of books for young people and a political columnist for Her latest YA novel, Backlash, will be published by Scholastic in April 2015.

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Folklore and fantasy thrive in “Midwinterblood”| Audio Pick Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:00:35 +0000 midwinterblood  Folklore and fantasy thrive in Midwinterblood| Audio Pickstar  Folklore and fantasy thrive in Midwinterblood| Audio PickSedgwick, Marcus. Midwinterblood. 5 CDs. 5:49 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $45. ISBN 9780553552133. digital download.
Gr 9 Up–Midwinterblood is comprised of seven vignettes, with settings ranging from the future to Viking times and a variety of characters, including vampires, ghosts, and humans. Common to all the stories is the Scandinavian island, Blessed; a mysterious dragon orchid; and Eric and Merle, who play different roles in each story. This unusual book for teens (many of the stories feature adult characters only) goes backwards in time, beginning with a story that takes place in 2073. While each narrative could stand alone, combining them into one volume with the barest threads of connections (similar to Olive Kitteridge or Let the Great World Spin) makes the book noteworthy. The audiobook is expertly narrated by British actor Julian Rhind-Tutt, whose hushed English voice is perfect for the recording. Sedgwick’s sparse prose is beautifully read with a haunting, dreamlike quality that lets listeners experience the horror, mystery, romance, and tragedy that abounds in the book. Melancholy yet lovely music briefly separates the vignettes.–Julie Paladino, East Chapel Hill High School, NC

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Middle Grade Fiction Giveaway; Conference With Service to LGBTQ Youth Focus | SLJTeen News Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:16 +0000 “True Confessions” Giveaway
Confessions 198x300 Middle Grade Fiction Giveaway; Conference With Service to LGBTQ Youth Focus | SLJTeen News
Middle graders, even if they are not middle children, will identify with Charlie, the so-called confessor in Maria T. Lennon’s Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child. She used to be a mean girl in order to hang with the popular crowd, but is trying hard to navigate middle school’s social minefields without causing harm. Readers will relate to her struggle to do the right thing when it might cost her popularity, and stardom.
Confessions2 198x300 Middle Grade Fiction Giveaway; Conference With Service to LGBTQ Youth Focus | SLJTeen NewsHere’s a way to have something fresh for kids the first week of school. HarperCollins is going to pick five winners who will receive Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child and the new sequel Watch Out, Hollywood! More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child, featuring Charlie. To enter, send an email to with your name, shipping address, and email address. Email entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on Aug 1. Winners will be selected in a random drawing and notified via email. One entry per person, please; prizes will only be shipped to U.S. addresses. Even if you don’t win, you can still download a free CCSS-aligned discussion guide for the novels.

Time to Thrive—Supporting LGBTQ Youth, Feb. 13-15, 2015

timetothrive Middle Grade Fiction Giveaway; Conference With Service to LGBTQ Youth Focus | SLJTeen NewsIf serving your diverse teen population is a priority, you need to know about this conference. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association has just opened registration for Time To THRIVE, the second annual national conference to promote safety, inclusion and well-being for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The conference program is designed to serve a wide range of youth-service professionals in discussing the best practices for serving LGBTQ youth and their families in schools, libraries, community centers, healthcare systems, and beyond.

Held over President’s Day Weekend, the event will take place at the Hilton Portland (OR) and Executive Tower. Hilton has earned a 100 percent in HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates American workplaces based on their commitment to LGBT equality. Portland is also one of 25 cities in the country to earn a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Municipal Equality Index, a nationwide evaluation of LGBTQ inclusivity in municipal law.

The HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools Project is also partnering with the Oregon Safe Schools Coalition as a sponsor and supporter of upcoming trainings across Oregon. During a training on August 4 in Portland, the Q Center will also be presenting on Oregon’s antibullying law and their work to ensure its implementation.

For more information on the conference, visit

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Guadalajara | Consider the Source Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:42:19 +0000 filguadalajara1 300x179 Guadalajara | Consider the Source

Guadalajara International Book Fair, 2013

How can we bring high quality Spanish-language books into American libraries? Here’s one answer: I recently spent an afternoon with Kay Cassell. a fellow professor at Rutgers, and Linda Goodman of Bilingual Publications. Linda helps connect librarians in the United States with books written in Spanish from around the world. Kay and I were meeting with her to plan a trip to the Guadalajara International Book Fair for our students. Earlier this year, Thom Barthelmess told me that his students at Dominican University would be going to Guadalajara as well, so I thought it was an event worth discussing here. The fair is a conduit to Spanish books that all librarians should know about. This year it runs November 29-December 7, but it’s the first three days that most librarians choose to attend.

Linda has been attending the Guadalajara Book Fair since it began in 1987. She explained that the Guadalajara event is different from those in Bologna, Frankfurt, and London. It was created to show the world the best of Mexican publishing, not to sell rights. The focus of the fair has since expanded to include most South and Central American nations; Argentina, for example, is the featured guest country this fall. Guadalajara juggles its identities by having large halls in which publishers display books, another space for rights sales, and then a separate location for literary events. In the evening there are music and cultural activities. To put it another way, at some fairs, where the real action is sales, a librarian can feel like a guest; in Guadalajara the goal is sharing information about authors and books.

1345139909 fil guadalajara 01 528x264 300x150 Guadalajara | Consider the Source

Chilean Pavilion at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, 2012

The language of the fair is Spanish. The books, which range from academic and art volumes to literary fiction and picture books, are in Spanish. The events are conducted in Spanish and many conversations are in Spanish. So Guadalajara has the most to offer to a librarian who can at a minimum read the books s/he finds intriguing.

But think of the opportunity the fair presents. It is, of course, an occasion to discover many wonderful titles that belong in libraries—books that can serve students whose native language is Spanish and titles for Spanish-language learners. (Linda and other distributors there can arrange to make them available for purchase in the United States). But beyond that the fair can open our eyes to how books for children, tweens, teenagers, and adults can look. Just browsing in Linda’s office I saw a volume printed top to bottom; an inviting graphic novel for elementary grade students on Galileo that had more information on his astronomical discoveries than I’ve ever seen in any comparable title; and a publisher whose entire line—including a stunning alphabet book with brilliant black-and-white photos—is entirely devoted to children’s titles featuring cats. Who knows what treasures await in the halls of Guadalajara? I look forward to finding out.


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Art Heist Capers, Super-Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YA Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:26:36 +0000 With works by heavy hitters such as Scott Westerfeld, Gregory Maguire, Andrew Smith, Katherine Paterson, Garth Nix, Jacqueline Woodson, and Maggie Stiefvater, this month’s column is chock-full of upcoming YA and nonfiction titles that will have teens adding to overflowing TBR piles. There’s something below for reluctant readers (Peter Jay Black’s Urban Outlaws), history buffs (Timothée De Fombelle’s Vango), aspiring actresses (Dahlia Adler’s Behind the Scenes), wannabe scientists (Sandra Markle’s The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bat ), and Game of Thrones enthusiasts (The Kiss of Deception).

Adler, Dahlia. Behind the Scenes. 360p. Spencer Hill. 2014. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781939392978; ebk. ISBN 9781939392985.

Gr 9 Up–Everyone Ally Duncan knows is jealous of her best friend, Hollywood star Vanessa Park, but Ally is not. Van has always wanted to be an actress, and Ally couldn’t care less about living that life. But when her father’s medical bills threaten her ability to attend Columbia in the fall, Ally knows that she needs to find a way to make money, fast. Van hires her as an assistant, and the protagonist finds that life on the set is just as superficial as she suspected, until she gets to know Van’s costar, Liam. As Ally starts to find herself attracted to Liam, Van’s publicist convinces the actors to pose as a couple to attract more publicity for their new show. Overall, this is an enjoyable pick that merges a handful of topics—family, illness, friendships, and relationships—successfully.–Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ

Akins, Karen. Loop. 336p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250030986; ebk. ISBN 9781250030993.

Gr 9 Up–Bree is a Shifter, one of the lucky few born with the ability to travel through time. For Shifters in the 23rd century, history exams are hands-on affairs. When Bree’s midterm sends her to the 21st century, she bungles it magnificently. The teen manages to kidnap a boy named Finn, lose a valuable device belonging to a temporal smuggler, and earn a ‘D’ for her trouble. Later, when she returns to retrieve the contraband, she accidentally transports Finn back to the future with her.  The intricate plot circles back on itself, exploring themes of inevitability and predestination. Akins avoids many of the paradoxes that plague time-travel stories, laying out the rules of Shifting, then tweaking those rules without breaking them. Loop is time well spent.–Tony Hirt, Hennepin County Library, MN

Trial by Fire Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAAngelini, Josephine. Trial By Fire. 384p. (The Worldwalker Trilogy: Bk. 1). ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250050885.

Gr 8 Up –Lily Proctor knew she shouldn’t have gone out on Friday night with her best friend, and now boyfriend, Tristan. Lily has powerfully debilitating allergies, can’t handle even a sip of alcohol. When the vodka slipped into her soda sends Lily into a fever-induced seizure, she is transported into another world, Salem, by an evil version of herself. Salem features Crucibles (witches who control technology) and monsters that haunt the shadows. Lily must befriend Rowan Fall, a moody yet irresistible man who becomes her guardian, and train with Rowan and his friends, Caleb and Tristan, to become the strongest witch Salem has ever seen. Meanwhile, the cruel Lillian is doing everything in her power to stop any scientific advances, and will stop at nothing to see the downcast Outlanders that Lily has allied with completely destroyed. Much like Anna Jarzab’s Tandem (Delacorte, 2013) and Shannon Delaney’s “Weather Witch” books (St. Martin’s), Angelini’s latest series opener combines the best elements of a magical fantasy with hints of sci-fi, history, and romance.–Eden Rassette, Kenton County Public Library, KY

Bellin, Joshua David. Survival Colony 9. 336p. ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781481403542. LC 2013034595.

Gr 7 Up –Fourteen-year-old Querry Genn is a member of Survival Colony Nine, the last remaining human group on a war-ravaged Earth. The colony is nomadic. They must move at the slightest hint of danger or risk being attacked and consumed by the Skaldi, an alien creature that invades and mimics a human host until they eat the person from the inside out. No one lives through a Skaldi attack except for Querry, who miraculously survived—minus his memories. Now, the protagonist’s father, a domineering man who has led the colony all over the desert, is desperate for his son to recover his past for the sake of the colony’s survival. The novel’s premise feels like a mix of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host (Little, Brown, 2008) and Justin Cronin’s The Passage (Ballantine, 2008). The Skaldi are terrifying creatures, but perhaps not as terrifying as the desolate landscape that Querry and the colony must traverse. There’s only survival. Survival Colony 9 will appeal to sci-fi fans who will anxiously await the planned sequel.–Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ

Urban Outlaws Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YABlack, Peter Jay. Urban Outlaws. 320p. Bloomsbury. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619634008.

Gr 5-8–Heads up, fans of Alex Rider: here’s the next thing. Five British tweens use their advanced skills in hacking, thievery, and deception to take from the powerful and give to those in need. In this first book of the series, the Urban Outlaws (Jack, Charlie, Obi, Slink, and Wren) investigate a villain who uses a supercomputer for nefarious purposes. The gripping plot twists through underground lairs, rooftop break-ins, shadowy government interrogations, and more—almost all at night—with all the fancy tech gadgetry, disguises, and awesomely dangerous athletic skills readers could want. Characters, while distinguished primarily by their independent skills, show off their individual personalities with ready-for-television snappy dialogue. A fun, fast pick worthy of every middle-grade collection, this may even catch the attention of older reluctant readers.–Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

Bond, Gwenda. Girl on a Wire. 360p. ebook available. Amazon/Skyscape. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781477847824.

Gr 7-10 –The Garcias and Maronis, two prominent circus families, have been feuding ever since Nan Maroni had been accused of cursing her fellow performers decades earlier. Not believing in old feuds or magic, 16-year-old Jules Maroni, Nan’s fearless high-wire walker granddaughter, convinces her family to take a gig with Cirque American. The Maronis are greeted with icy stares by the performers, especially the Garcias, but it is not until strange things begin to happen—objects from the past appearing and causing similar accidents as the last time the two families worked together—that Jules begins to take her family’s history seriously. The heroine teams up with an unexpected ally, the handsome and talented Remy Garcia, to uncover the truth before it is too late. With a thrilling mystery, a hint of magic, and a touch of romance, Girl on a Wire takes readers into the fascinating world of circus performers.  The characters’ motives are believable and the resolution does not feel contrived. Jules and Remy have a relationship of equals, with each pushing the other to better their performances. There are some sweet scenes between the two, but this is not a romance novel. The excellent quality of the narrative makes it a solid choice for readers seeking a unique setting and a strong female protagonist.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

Adrenaline Crush Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YABoyle Crompton, Laurie. Adrenaline Crush. 192p. ebook available. Farrar. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300616.

Gr 9 Up–Dyna is a young daredevil and outdoor challenge junkie who loves nothing more than reveling in the mountains and forests of her mid-Hudson Valley home. The teen comes by her thrill-seeking naturally from tattooed and free-spirited parents and an older brother whose addiction is skydiving. A fast and flirty bike ride with a guy from school turns dangerous: Her impromptu cliff climb leads to a desperate fall into a shallow part of the swimming hole—and a splintering open break on her ankle. Doctors warn that it may not ever be right again. Jay, then just an afternoon’s diversion, was there to get her help, maybe even save her life, and the two become romantically involved as Dyna attempts to recover. He is a little tame for wild-girl Dyna, but the chastened and more subdued daredevil likes him just fine. Her mom forces Dyna to sessions at a wellness center for physical and mental therapy, and that brings Pierce into the picture. A young injured veteran, who lost his leg in the course of saving another soldier overseas, Pierce assists Dyna’s therapy group and challenges her assumptions about where her life will go next. Thoughtful teens will enjoy this satisfying read with well-crafted characters and a nice sense of place.–Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA

Brown, Rachel Manija & Sherwood Smith. Stranger. 432p. Viking. Nov. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780670014804; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101615393.

Gr 7 Up–Intrigue, feuds, hypocrisy, and a love triangle fill the pages of this dystopian tale narrated by a diverse cast of characters in alternating chapters. After a solar flare, all electronic devices are useless. A mysterious, wounded stranger wanders into Las Anclas (formerly Los Angeles) with a secret; Ross has narrowly escaped the diabolical ruler Voske, who desires a rare book that Ross possesses. Mia’s family shelters Ross as he heals and receives warrior training from 16-year-old Jennie, Mia’s best friend and the town’s teacher. Both teens are attracted to the newcomer, and he can’t decide between them. Authors Brown and Smith create a village in which flora and fauna exhibit flesh-eating powers and symbiotic relationships with select people. Some humans remain “Norms” while others are “Changed,” and therein lies the only prejudice; no one looks askance at homosexuality and all races are appreciated. Stranger is a fresh story with well-developed characters, fast-paced action, a fantastical world, and a hint of romance.–Laura Falli, McNeil High School, Austin, TX

Chang, Leonard. Triplines: An Autobiographical Novel. 236p. Black Heron. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781936364091; ebk. ISBN 9781936364107.

Gr 8 Up–A thought-provoking story of a Korean American boy growing up in Long Island with an abusive, alcoholic father. Lenny observes his parents’ marital troubles and financial stresses, tries to avoid his father’s rages, and sympathizes with his hard-working mother. Though his father has few redeeming qualities, young Lenny does try to understand the source of the violence and drinking—perhaps it was his father’s difficult childhood, or brutal experiences in the South Korean Navy. Readers will root for the precocious protagonist. He’s teased at school by racist bullies, but because he doesn’t speak Korean, he also has trouble fitting in with his mother’s church group and communicating with his grandmother. The story really takes off when Lenny gets involved with an older pot-dealing teen. Sal offers to pay Lenny to guard a patch of marijuana hidden in a swamp, and then help harvest it. The protagonist soon discovers library research as a means to learn about everything, from cultivating marijuana to descrambling cable TV signals. The ending is harsh but satisfying. This is a welcome addition to a multicultural library collection. Teens will relate to Lenny’s desperate wish to understand his father, and his eventual realization that some things will never change.–Miranda Doyle, Lake Oswego School District, OR

girl from well Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAChupeco, Rin. The Girl from the Well. 304p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781402292187.

Gr 9 Up –This tale continues and reimagines the Japanese folktale of “Okiku and the Nine Plates.” The title character is a ghost wandering Earth to free the souls of murdered children who live chained to their murderers. The author delivers on this interesting premise, which lends itself to some creepy moments, as the protagonist avenges the murdered children. A human teenage boy, Tark, catches her attention because she can sense something in him, tied to the strange moving tattoos his mother gave him when he was five. As she gets to know more about Tark and his disturbed mother, a friendship forms as they travel to Japan to figure out his story. A dark novel that will appeal to horror fans, lovers of Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl (S. & S., 2008), and also potentially to teens interested in Japanese culture.–Sarah Jones, Clinton-Macomb Public Library, MI

Cooner, Donna. Can’t Look Away. 272p. Scholastic/Point. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545427654; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545634014. LC 2013049369.

Gr 9 Up–Torrey Grey (Beautystarz15) is a YouTube teen sensation. Her videos on fashion and shopping “hauls” have earned her articles in Teen Vogue and a league of online worshipers. Younger sister Miranda could not care less about beauty or fashion; her main interests lie with comics and superheros. While accompanying Torrey and a friend on a video shoot, Miranda is killed by a drunk driver while standing in the middle of a crosswalk. Sympathy for Torrey is quickly changed to blame when a video of an argument between Torrey and Miranda, recorded shortly before the accident, is posted. Newspaper articles about the accident and aftermath and tips from Torrey on fashion introduce chapters. Thoughtful messages about regret and the price of fame are poignant without being heavy-handed. Day of the Dead customs are significant aspects of the story, which makes for a unique multicultural twist. The portrayal of the impact of a child’s death on a family is authentic. The protagonist’s pain and remorse are raw and deeply defined. Although Torrey’s story is atypical, common themes of fitting in, boy-girl relationships, and sisterhood are universal.–Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

de Fombelle, Timothée. Vango: Between Sky and Earth. tr. from French by Sarah Ardizzone. 432p. ebook available. Candlewick. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763671969. LC 2013955696.

Gr 7 Up–A thrilling historical adventure set in the mid-1930s, this novel opens with a dramatic scene in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris where 19-year-old Vango is about to become a priest. Just before he is ordained, he is falsely accused of a murder. After scaling the Cathedral, the teen’s exploits unfold across rooftops, on land and sea, and even by the Graf Zeppelin airship. Vango’s journey takes him from the Sicilian Islands, where he was raised by a nanny under mysterious circumstances, to Germany where Nazi power is on the rise. He remains just one step ahead of a determined—and somewhat comedic—police superintendent and several other characters whose obsession with capturing Vango leads to more questions than answers. With numerous characters and a winding and often complicated story, this breathtaking tale is guaranteed to keep teens on the edge of their seats, and will appeal to confident readers who enjoy intricately plotted tales.–Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA

jewel ewing Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAEwing, Amy. The Jewel. 368p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062235794.

Gr 9 Up–Violet lives in a city divided into five concentric circles; with the poorest in the farthest outlining ring (The Marsh) and the wealthiest (The Jewel) at the center. The women of the Jewel are unable to produce healthy babies, so every year girls from the Marsh are tested and purchased to become surrogates; surrogates who demonstrate skills and are able to control the way the baby looks and special talents the child might have. Violet was tested at age 12 and taken from her family to be trained and sold after her 18th birthday. In this corrupt circle, Violet falls in love with an escort who has been hired to teach Violet’s mistress’ niece how to be a woman; a love that is ill-fated. Ewing writes a fast-paced story that takes readers into the inner workings of a society that is obsessed with power and perfection. Fans of Lauren DeStefano’s “The Chemical Garden” trilogy (S. & S.) will enjoy this YA debut.–Lisa Nabel, Dayton Metro Library, OH

Fehlbaum, Beth. Big Fat Disaster. 288p. Adams Media/Merit. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440570483; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781440570490.

Gr 9 Up–Colby is fat, and her family never lets her forget it. Her family appears perfect on the outside—politician father, beauty-queen mother, two perfect sisters. Her father is in the midst of an important campaign when Colby accidentally discovers a photograph of him with another woman. Once her father’s affair and misuse of campaign money are exposed to the media, the image her family has tried to maintain is destroyed. After her father abandons them, Colby, her sisters, and their mother have no choice but to move into a trailer behind her estranged aunt’s house in Texas, and the family blames her for their misfortune. Fehlbaum focuses on many of the issues that teenagers deal with today: body-image shaming, eating disorders, domestic violence, bullying, rape, depression, victim blaming, and suicide. Colby’s story can be emotionally upsetting and frustrating; this book is best suited for mature readers.–Annalise Ammer, City of Rochester Public Libraries, NY

Feuer, Stephanie. Drawing Amanda. illus. by S. Y. Lee. 292p. ebook available. Hipso. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780988739444; ebk. $6.95. ISBN 9780988739451.

Gr 7 Up–The aptly named protagonist Inky Kahn attends an exclusive international prep school in New York City. Introverted and artistic, Inky connects with a game developer online and is given a drawing assignment. The teen uses his crush as the model for the project, not realizing that the site is run by a creepy pedophile. The main character and his friends use their unique skills to take justice into their own hands. Feuer expertly leads readers into a deep dive through real and raw issues that young adults face: a parent’s death, overcoming grief, friendship issues, and Internet security. Although there are heavy concepts throughout the story, the topics are handled in an age appropriate way. Lee’s intermittent illustrations help pull readers into Inky’s the plight. A debut novelist to watch.–Chad Lane, Easton Elementary, Wye Mills, MD

Finnegan, Amy. Not in the Script. 368p. (If Only). ebook available. Bloomsbury. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619633971; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781619633988.

Gr 9 Up–Emma Taylor is a Hollywood starlet who is used to living her life in front of the camera. In the tabloids, she’s developed a reputation as the good girl who falls for bad boys. When she is cast in a lead role on the television show, Coyote Hills, with reformed Hollywood bad boy Brett Crawford, both of their reputations are on the line again. While the media concocts a romance between the two, Emma is secretly falling hard for another castmate, fashion model-turned-Hollywood newcomer Jake Elliott. Mystery surrounds Jake’s family life. Their under the radar budding relationship is threatened when the tabloids reveal footage of a kiss between Emma and Brett. Teens will appreciate the behind-the-the-scenes look at celebrity life and the entertainment industry. The drama between Emma and her childhood best friend Rachel, as well as between the protagonist and her manager mother is realistic and relatable. Emma’s wit and humor will keep readers with her right until the end.–Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CT

justonenight1 Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAForman, Gayle. Just One Night. 40p. Viking. 2014. ebk. $.99. ISBN 9780698184893.

Gr 9 Up–Forman adds the final puzzle piece to Allyson and Willem’s happily-ever-after in this euphoric e-novella connecting Just One Day and Just One Year (both Dutton, 2013). After spending one life-altering day in Paris with free spirit and charming Shakespearean actor Willem De Ruiter, homebody American good girl Allyson “Lulu” Healey was separated from her Dutch fling and spent the first volume trying to locate him, while ultimately finding herself. In the second book, readers are given Willem’s perspective of that same year. In this slim digital volume, the pair first makes tentative steps toward each other, as they slowly fill in the gaps for each other and anxious readers. As much a comedy of errors as an exhilarating romance, misunderstandings are unraveled, new and old characters are introduced, and twists of fate are wholeheartedly embraced. Fans will devour this enthralling epilogue to the duology.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Grace, Amanda. No One Needs to Know. 240p. ebook available. Flux. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738736259.

Gr 9 Up–Olivia and her twin brother, Liam, are wealthy latchkey kids who don’t see their parents much. Zoey is a working-class girl helping support her single mother and little sister in their rough neighborhood near Seattle. When Liam falls for Zoey, Olivia and the other girls at her school don’t approve, since Zoey has a reputation as a notorious boyfriend-stealer. But when Liam invites Zoey to come with him and Olivia to their lake house, Olivia and Zoey discover a mutual attraction. It’s a surprisingly sweet take on two girls falling in love and struggling with their feelings, their families, and their baggage, but not with any homophobia—not even from the jilted brother, who is surprised but approving. Told in alternating viewpoints, readers see Olivia and Zoey navigate their feelings and their complex social situation with clear writing and a well-paced plot. There is some language and drug usage, but the general message of love and support among different people shines through brightly.–Kyle Lukoff, Corlears School, New York City

Messenger of Fear Michael Grant Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAGrant, Michael. Messenger of Fear. 272p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062207401; pap. $12. ISBN 9780062354440; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062207425.

Gr 9 Up –Mara wakes up one day in a strange place. She is confused and scared by her mist-shrouded, grass-covered, pitch-black surroundings. She is soon approached by a beautiful young man who emerges from the mist and calls himself the Messenger of Fear. He demands justice for those who can not speak for themselves by observing their lives prior to their moment with him and playing a simple game of life and death. Mara travels with the Messenger across this unfamiliar universe to confront the truth of why she is in this unique world and what is her purpose in it. Grant’s new series starts off with a bang and never lets up. Mara is a strong, relatable character who stands up for herself, while also regretful of some of the things she has done in her past. The games the Messenger of Fear plays with his victims are gruesome and graphic, which will delight those readers who enjoy a little gore and horror in their books. Even though the twist ending will probably be guessed by those readers who pay close attention to the text, it is still a satisfying one. A promising start to a series with a truly unique concept.–Christopher Lassen, Brooklyn Public Library

Gray, Claudia. A Thousand Pieces of You. 368p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062278968.

Gr 9 Up–An engaging first book in a new trilogy by the author of the popular “Evernight” series (HarperCollins) that focuses on the possibility of multidimensional travel and its implications. The novel grabs readers from the first page: Marguerite Caine is hot on the trail of her father’s suspected murderer. She and two graduate assistants are able to travel between dimensions using “Firebird” lockets that her scientist parents developed—the theory being that one can only jump into a dimension where a version of oneself already exists.  As Marguerite unravels the truth and discovers more about herself with each leap, further questions arise: Is it ethical to hijack another body—even if it’s an alternate version of yourself? Are there cycles of betrayal? Does fate really exist? Background information is weaved seamlessly in this well-blended mix of adventure, sci-fi, and romance that will appeal to a wide audience.–Sherry J. Mills, Hazelwood East High School, St. Louis, MO

Griffin Unfinished Life of Addison Stone 9up Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAGriffin, Adele. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. 350p. Soho Teen. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781616953607; ebk. ISBN 9781616953614.

Gr 8 Up –Everyone knows who Addison Stone was, even if they didn’t know anything about her. Addy was a small-town girl with dreams of artistic immortality. Her talent was incredible, and she landed an agent almost the moment she set foot in New York at the age of 17. Soon her life became a whirlwind of parties, love affairs, and bursts of creativity. But Addison was keeping secrets, and burning too brightly.  This fictional biography of a visual and performance artist Addison Stone is compelling and tragic from the very first page. Griffin tells the teen’s story through compiled interview excerpts from those who knew, loved, and hated her. The media, which include texts to and from her friends, paint a picture of a brilliant artist full of life and potential, but also reveal the young woman’s unbalanced mental state and her loved ones’ concern. Interspersed are photos and reproductions of the protagonist’s artwork, magazine covers and articles, and interviews with Addison herself for various publications, layering level upon level of reality to the story. Readers will be caught up in the drama right up to the end.–Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL

Gurevich, Margaret. Making the Cut. illus. by Brooke Hagel. 384p. (Chloe by Design). Capstone. Aug. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781623701123. LC 2013050317.

Gr 6-8 –Sixteen-year-old Chloe Montgomery is a self-described fashion addict. Not only does she devour fashion magazines and TV shows, but she is also an aspiring fashion designer. When her favorite fashion reality show, Design Diva (think Project Runway), offers teen designers an opportunity to audition for the teen version of Design Diva, she decides to apply. With the support of her parents, best friend Alex, and a few inspirations, she makes the final cut and lands a spot on the show. Much to her chagrin, her nemesis, Nina, also gets a spot. Filming in New York is more difficult than Chloe anticipated, and the competition is fierce and intimidating. Chloe has difficulty conquering her self doubt and her suspicions about Nina’s true intentions. The fun and frothy plot reads quickly, and the fashion sketches add to the enjoyment of the book. This will find a fan base with fashion and reality TV show addicts alike.–Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL

Hidier Bombay Blues 9up Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAHidier, Tanuja Desai. Bombay Blues. 560p. Scholastic/PUSH. Aug. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545384780; ebk. ISBN 9780545633871.

Gr 10 Up –In this lengthy sequel to Born Confused (Scholastic, 2002), 19-year-old, American born NYU student, Dimple Lala travels to Bombay with her Indian parents and her longtime DJ boyfriend, Karsh Kapoor, to attend the wedding of a cousin, Sangita. As Dimple immerses herself in family, culture, photography, music, love, and a search for self, Karsh embarks on his own spiritual journey, which draws him away from her. Traditions begin to falter when Sangita abruptly announces she is not marrying but instead pursuing a burgeoning art career. Sangita’s sister, Kavita, opens up to the family about her homosexuality. While Dimple struggles to understand her unraveling relationship with Karsh, she has a spontaneous sexual affair with a “Cowboy” she just met. The protagonist and her remarkably progressive desi parents help Sangita and Kavita’s traditional parents accept the liberated lives of their daughters. Visits to Bombay locales, temples, and landmarks add vivid authenticity to this middle-class story of self-discovery. Dimple narrates the ups and downs of her spiritual, cultural, sexual, and social journey in a challenging, often rhythmic “blues” style of inventive words, elliptical phrasing, colors, music, and artistic references. For Dimple, exploring Bombay becomes a liberating metaphor for expressing passions and establishing beliefs.–Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC

DRIFT Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAHutchins, M. K. Drift. 400p. Lee & Low/Tu Bks. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781620141458; ebk. ISBN 9781620141465. LC 2014002568.

Gr 7 Up –Tenjat is a farmer who wants more than a life of planting cassava on the shores of hell. Hell is their ocean, which is filled with naga monsters that feed on people who get too close to the shore. The teen wants to be a Handler, one who fights the nagas and helps support their island—a massive Turtle on which the islanders live. He does not want to be a farmer or a father who slows down the island by bearing children. In spite of the pleas of his sister, Eflet, Tenjat refuses to get married, and joins the Handlers, even though the group might have been the cause of his parents’ death years ago. Eflet has many secrets of her own though, and they could change the way Tenjat has understood their world. As the protagonist hones his fighting skills, a budding romance with his trainer complicates his internal conflict. This book has an interesting premise rooted in Mayan folklore. The world-building is clear and well-developed; details about the setting’s mythology are deftly integrated into Tenjat’s story and will engage high fantasy fans. Themes of marriage, family, friendship, and loyalty are evident throughout and are not overly done.–Kristyn Dorfman, The Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY

Johnson, Alaya Dawn. Love Is the Drug. 352p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545417815; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545662895.

Gr 10 Up –Her mother calls her Emily, but she calls herself by her last name, Bird, and so does Alonso, known as Coffee, the strangely compelling drug-dealer and diplomat’s son who attends Bird’s private Washington, DC, school. When Bird wakes up after eight days in a coma to discover she was drugged at a party and left with no memory of what happened, she turns to Coffee for help—even though the authorities, including the mysterious Roosevelt, insist that he was the one who poisoned her. But Emily suspects that Roosevelt, her boyfriend Paul, and possibly even her scientist parents are involved in a conspiracy: a conspiracy that is connected to the Venezuelan flu, a virus planted by terrorists that is currently killing hundreds of thousand around the globe. The author of The Summer Prince (Scholastic, 2013) writes beautifully. The story is strongest when following Bird, a self-described “assimilated” DC black girl, as she tries to stay true to herself amid not only the terror of the quarantine, but also the restrictive expectations and assumptions of her family and classmates. Teens looking for a fast-paced tale with diverse characters will find it in Johnson’s latest offering.–Eliza Langhans, Hatfield Public Library, MA

Johnston, E. K. The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim. 312p. Carolrhoda Lab. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781467710664; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781467724067. LC 2013020492.

Gr 7 Up –Siobhan is a typical teenager. Her hobbies include composing music, hanging out with friends, and driving her first car. Her biggest conflict is whether or not to tell her parents that she would rather pursue music than go to a university. All of that changes when she meets Owen Thorskard, currently failing algebra and potentially the nation’s next great dragon slayer. Owen, nephew of famous Slayer Lottie Thorskard, goes to high school by day and trains to protect the rural town of Trondheim by night. The two teens become friends when it becomes painfully evident that Owen needs a math tutor. Little does Siobhan know that she’s signing up for a lot more than tutoring. Soon she finds herself working as Owen’s personal Bard. Johnston seamlessly blends fantasy with realistic fiction; readers will have a hard time remembering that dragons aren’t an everyday aspect of life. Suggest this title to reluctant readers as the fast-paced plot and witty dialogue will keep them turning pages until the tale’s exciting conclusion.–Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR

evil Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAKnudsen, Michelle. Evil Librarian. 352p. ebook available. Candlewick. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763660383.

Gr 8 Up –If Louise Rennison and Christopher Moore had a bibliographic love child it would be this cheekily narrated supernatural offering. Cyn is initially thrilled when her teasing BFF Annie finally shows signs of infatuation, until she discovers the object of Annie’s affections is the new school librarian. Mr. Gabriel’s attention to Annie unsettles Cyn and readers alike. At first suspecting the creepy Gabriel is a manipulative and inappropriate authority figure (awful enough), Cyn learns that he’s a horned and winged demon. He wants brainwashed Annie for his human consort, when he returns to his realm to fight for the throne with the life essence he’s poached from her classmates. Musical theater crush, Ryan in tow, Cyn fights to save her best friend; enlisting help from the ill-fated, the duped, and the demonic, all while struggling to keep her hormones in check and trying to create a kick-ass barber chair for the school’s production of Sweeney Todd. The protagonist is the most developed character. Her narrative voice and the novel’s dialogue make it worth the read. Occasional swearing, a dash of romance, and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments round out Knudsen’s enjoyable comedic tale, reminiscent of the original “Buffy” film.–Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ

Lane, Lindsey. Evidence of Things Not Seen. 240p. Farrar. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300609.

Gr 9 Up –Tommy Smythe is brilliant, awkward with people, and missing. His classmates haven’t seen him, his father can’t find him, and no one knows where he could have gone. As the days tick by with no sign of him, Tommy’s fascination with theoretical physics and science leads some to wonder if Tommy has managed to do the impossible—to step through a portal or pass into another dimension. The story unfolds through interviews with witnesses, scraps of scribbled notes from Tommy himself, and private moments between seemingly unrelated people. Tommy’s disappearance is at the forefront of some stories, at the back of others. Chapters are arranged by lead-characters or items, some more hard-hitting than others, but the picture of a small border town caught up in a mystery and bound by its secrets is an intriguing one that Lane does well. Some chapters do deal with more adult subject matter (drug use, teen pregnancy, racism, prostitution) and adult language is prevalent throughout, but isn’t gratuitous.–Clair Segal, Horace Mann School, New York City

Little, Kimberley Griffiths. Forbidden. 400p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062194978.

Gr 9 Up –In this novel set in ancient Syria at the time of Hammurabi, 16-year-old Jayden is betrothed to Horeb, future king of her tribe, a contract she views with apprehension. When her mother dies in childbirth, Jayden, her sister Leila, and her father are left behind to bury the dead. While mourning at her mother’s gravesite, Jayden meets a mysterious young man from the south who tells her his name is Kadesh and that he has been stranded in the desert after an attack on his trading caravan. As Kadesh travels with her and her family, Jayden falls in love with him, a forbidden romance because of her betrothal to Horeb. When Horeb turns violent, Jayden must find a way to save herself, her family, and Kadesh. Middle Eastern dance is a major part of this story. The protagonist and the women of her tribe dance to celebrate betrothals, to ease childbirth, and to mourn death. This is a fast-paced, entertaining choice which will appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance, as well as readers interested in this dance form.–Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ

Lupica, Mike. Fantasy League. 304p. Philomel. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399256073.

Gr 5 Up –Charlie “The Brain” Gaines may be an average seventh grader in most respects, but he possesses an uncanny knowledge about football teams and a sixth sense about game strategy. A so-so linebacker for his own Pop Warner team, the Culver City Cardinals, Charlie would much rather be on the sidelines, calling plays along with the coach. Best friend Anna Bretton shares Charlie’s passion for football, as it is in her blood—her grandfather and uncle own and manage the Los Angeles Bulldogs. She invites Charlie to meet Grandpa Joe and Uncle Matt at a game, and it isn’t long before Gramps is captivated by Charlie’s commentary. His advice to replace the quarterback with an older and relatively unknown player named Tom Pinkett helps to turn around their losing record. Signing Pinkett to the team turns out to be a winning idea, and when word gets out that the call was made by a 12-year-old, Charlie is hounded by the media and thrust into a spotlight he isn’t sure how to handle. Nearly losing his friendship with Anna, Charlie learns a lesson about fame and valuing relationships. This will be devoured by young football fans, who appreciate intricate game details and won’t mind a touch of heartwarming sentiment.–Vicki Reutter, State University of New York at Cortland

McBride, Susan. Very Bad Things. 240p. Delacorte. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385737975; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780385907040; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385371025.

Gr 7 Up –Katie has mostly recovered from the tragedy of her father’s suicide and is excited about her future: graduation and college with her boyfriend Mark, a popular hockey athlete. She attends a prep school on scholarship and has found a best friend in her roommate Tessa. Katie’s senior year takes a sudden turn, though, when a mysterious package arrives at the dorm for her and contains a gruesome object within. Soon she’s questioning who she can trust and trying to piece together a story from a hazy night of partying that resulted in the death of an innocent teen girl. Fans of Sara Shepard’s “The Pretty Little Liars” series (HarperCollins) will appreciate the high drama and plot twists.–Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

Maguire Egg and Spoon 9up Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAMaguire, Gregory. Egg & Spoon. 496p. Candlewick. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763672201; ebk. ISBN 9780763675820.

Gr 7 Up –With one brother conscripted into the Tsar’s army and another bound to serve a local landowner, Elena is left alone to care for her widowed and ailing mother in early 20th-century Russia. When an elegant train bearing a noble her age rolls through their barren village, Elena and her counterpart, Cat, accidentally swap places. Twin journeys to restore their former stations in life lead to encounters with murderous kittens, royal families, and even the famed witch Baba Yaga, and the challenges that lie ahead go far beyond a simple mix-up. Maguire marries the traditional “Prince and the Pauper” narrative to the Russian folktale of Baba Yaga with his trademark wit and aplomb. His lyrical descriptions of the drab countryside are equally detailed and moving as the charmed, floating courts of the Romanov dynasty. Each character is well-drawn and fascinating, whether its the prim, terrified governess to young Ekaterina or Baba Yaga herself, a cannibal with a heart of gold constantly cracking wise in her enchanted, walking house. Egg and Spoon is a beautiful reminder that fairy tales are at their best when they illuminate the precarious balance between lighthearted childhood and the darkness and danger of adulthood.–Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, NJ

Martinez, Jessica. Kiss Kill Vanish. 432p. HarperCollins. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062274496; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062274519.

Gr 9 Up –Wealthy Valentina is taking a chance with falling for her father’s 24-year-old employee, Emilio. It’s a chance that seems absolutely worth it until the night when, while hidden in a closet, she sees him shoot a man point-blank while her father stands and watches. Terrified and confused, the teen flees to Montreal, leaving behind the comforts her father’s success in the art trade have brought her—the yachts, the Klimts and Picassos that adorn her Miami mansion, and the freedom to never have to think about money. Her reality up north is radically different. Accompanied only by Emilio’s mandolin, under the simple moniker Jane, she busks for money, barely making enough to eat, when an encounter with Lucien, a spoiled and cocky artist, lands her a job as his muse and model. She manages to coast by until a run-in with Emilio at an art show spirals her back into his arms. From the heat of Miami to the cold streets of Montreal, Martinez’s modern-day film noir is a wild ride for romance and thriller fans alike.–Joanna Sondheim, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City

CLARIEL Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YANix, Garth. Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen. 400p. HarperCollins. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780061561559.

Gr 7 Up –Over a decade has passed since Nix’s last Old Kingdom novel, Abhorsen (HarperCollins, 2003), but he has lost none of his skill in depicting this fantasy realm. Nix sets Clariel 600 years before his other Old Kingdom novels, in a time when the king is old and weary and the current Abhorsen prefers to hunt game rather than Free Magic creatures and necromancers. Clariel is a young woman who is close kin to both the King and the Abhorsen but with little knowledge of either. She has reluctantly come to the capital city of Belisaere with her mother, Jaciel, who has been declared a High Goldsmith. Clariel would prefer to roam free amongst the forest near her childhood home of Estwael and seeks any way to escape the odious city with its lifeless streets and political squabbles. Clariel’s instructor in Charter Magic, Magister Kargrin, promises his help to leave the city in return for her aid in capturing a Free Magic creature that he believes is in league with Governor Kilp. Little does she realize the effect that the touch of the creature will have on her or the depths to which Kilp will stoop to assuage his ambition. Nix pens a compelling character in Clariel while his skill in rendering both politics and magic is strong. This excellent work can be enjoyed independently of the other Old Kingdom novels, but will certainly draw readers to those works.–Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Novak, Ali. My Life with the Walter Boys. 384p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781402297861.

Gr 8 Up –Jackie is used to high-rise apartments, the big-city life, and the prestige of attending a private school. Then, catastrophe strikes and her parents and sister are killed in a car accident. Jackie’s nearest living family member isn’t equipped to take care of her so he ships her off to her mother’s childhood friend, Katherine Walters, in Colorado. Katherine lives on a horse ranch with 12 kids (11 boys and one girl). Jackie arrives to the house to a pretty cold welcome, especially because her new bedroom was Katherine’s sanctuary and art studio. Six of the brothers attend the narrator’s school where the attractive Walter boys are sought after by all of the girls. As she struggles to make friends and acclimate to her new environment, she begins to embrace her newfound siblings. Especially confusing for the protagonist is the palpable chemistry that grows between her and one of the brothers. Ultimately, life with the Walter boys helps Jackie cope with the loss of her family while embracing another one, and pushes her to discover who she really is in this coming-of-age novel.–Jessica Lorentz Smith, Bend Senior High School, OR

Ostow, Micol. Amity. 368p. Egmont USA. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781606841563; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781606843802.

Gr 9 Up –Can a house be evil? Connor and Gwen know that it can. Two families, separated by 10 years, both move into Amity. Once they do, the house will not let go until it’s wrenched every bit of terror out of them. Connor’s vivid nightmares haunt him even in the daylight. Gwen, brought to Amity by her family to recover from her mental breakdown, senses the danger her family is in, but can’t get them to believe her. Ostow’s YA horror novel, inspired by the true-crime history of the Amityville Horror house, is told in two distinct voices in alternating sections. The thrilling plot keeps the pages turning and provides a few genuine gasps along the way. Steer teen horror fans who aren’t quite ready for Stephen King, Peter Straub, or John Ajvide Lindqviste to this one.–Elaine Baran Black, Georgia Public Library Service, Atlanta

Pearson Kiss of Deception 9up Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAPearson, Mary E. The Kiss of Deception. 496p. (The Remnant Chronicles). ebook available. Holt. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805099232.

Gr 9 Up –This genre-bending novel begins with 17-year-old Princess Lia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, about to undergo a ceremony of preparation for her wedding to the prince of Dalbreck, a man she has not yet met but already loathes. Rather than follow the demands of her father and the expectations of her mother, Lia and her maid, Pauline, slip away before the wedding can take place and travel to the coastal town of Terravin. Disguised as tavern maids, the teens manage to remain hidden until two strangers come to town; young men, each with their own agenda—one the prince Lia should have married, one an assassin bent on killing her. Pearson, author of the popular “Jenna Fox Chronicles” (Holt), has created the first in a marvelous new fantasy series that is sure to find an audience with devotees of Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” and John Flanagan’s “Ranger’s Apprentice” books (Philomel). Romance, adventure, mysticism—this book has it all and it just may be the next YA blockbuster.–Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

ISLA Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAPERKINS, Stephanie. Isla and the Happily Ever After. 352p. Dutton. Aug. 2014. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9780525425632.

Gr 9 Up– When Isla, loopy on medication after a dentist appointment, finds herself in the same Manhattan café as her crush object, Josh, she’s able to do something she’s never managed in the three years they’ve attended the same boarding school in Paris: talk to him. Lo and behold, it turns out that he likes her too, and once they’re back in France, a relationship blossoms. Alas, the course of true love never did run smooth, and pressures both internal (Isla’s self-doubt) and external (Josh’s father’s Senate reelection campaign) force them apart. Is their love strong enough to bring them back together? Fans will relish appearances by characters from Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss (2011) and Lola and the Boy Next Door (2013, both Dutton) in this sweet, charming series third that will make readers feel like they’re in Paris too. Realistic characters, spot-on dialogue, and a truly delightful romance make for a novel that will delight the author’s fans and win her legions of new ones.–Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

Philpot EveninParadise Spotlight1 Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAPHILPOT, Chelsey. Even in Paradise. 368p. HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062293695; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062293718. LC 2013047956.

Gr 9 Up –Julia Buchanan is an enigma with a famous name—thanks to her father, a former senator. When she arrives at St. Anne’s boarding school in her junior year, the other students observe her from a distance, assuming they know everything about her because of what they’ve heard. Charlotte Ryder, a scholarship student, doesn’t even give much thought to Julia until a random act of kindness brings them together. The girls quickly form the kind of close friendship that, to the outside world, looks like they’re falling in love. Being Julia’s best friend introduces her to a new normal: sneaking out of the dorms at night, spending summers in Nantucket, and keeping dark secrets. As Charlotte spends more time with Julia and the rest of the Buchanans, she begins to love them all as though they were her own family, and they come to rely on her to keep Julia from falling apart. There is tragedy in the Buchanan past, and Charlotte’s need to know the truth—and her growing feelings for Julia’s older brother, Sebastian—threaten to disrupt a delicate balance. Philpot’s debut is a mournful meditation on the intensity of love in all its forms: familial, platonic, and romantic. Inspired by Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the text blends elements from these novels to create something that is a modern romance and classic tragedy.–Joy Piedmont, LREI, New York City

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. The Red Pencil. illus. by Shane W. Evans. 336p. Little, Brown. Sept. 2014. Tr $17. ISBN 9780316247801; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316247818.

Gr 5-7 –Set during the early years of the Darfur conflict, this stunning collaboration between Coretta Scott King Award winners Pinkney and Evans tells a moving story of the scarring effects of war but also brings a message of hope and inspiration. Twelve-year-old Amira wishes to attend school, but her mother, “born into a flock of women/locked in a hut of tradition,” does not support the girl’s aspirations and expects her to only marry and bear children. In contrast, Amira’s father praises her talents and gifts her with a special “turning-twelve twig” that she uses to sketch her dreams in the goz (sand). These dreams are brutally shattered when the Janjaweed militants invade and cut a swath of terror through her village. After enduring a heartbreaking loss, Amira and her family must rally their strength in order to make the treacherous journey to the Kalma refugee camp. There, the girl is given a red pencil; this simple gift reveals a world of endless possibilities and imbues the tween with a strong sense of agency. Amira’s thoughts and drawings are vividly brought to life through Pinkney’s lyrical verse and Evans’s lucid line illustrations, which infuse the narrative with emotional intensity.–Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA

Portes, Andrea. Anatomy of a Misfit. 336p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062313645.

Gr 9 Up –Anika Dragomir is the third most popular girl in school, despite being of mixed heritage in an overwhemingly white neighborhood. She’s smart, attractive, and knows that the most popular girl, Becky Vilhauer, is a bully. Still, Anika clings to the tenuous friendship for fear of the total social annihilation that Becky will put her through if she displeases her in any way. When she finds herself falling for former nerd turned hottie, Logan McDonough, she manages to keep their relationship secret by arranging regular midnight rendezvous. In a clandestine act of defiance as employee of Bunza Hut, when she is angered by her boss’s hateful treatment of her best friend/coworker, she exacts revenge by covertly dosing him with her mother’s valium and routinely stealing from the till. But it’s not until her feelings for Logan become muddled by his own personal spider stew that Anika finds her life completely unraveling. Told in the first person, Anika’s droll voice shines, and her emotions are palpable. After a heartbreaking tragedy, Anika’s ending will leave readers cheering.–Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

SNOW LIKE ASHES Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YARaasch, Sara. Snow Like Ashes. 432p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062286925; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062286949. LC 2013047971.

Gr 7 Up – In classic fantasy style, Meira is a feisty orphan girl with aspirations of being a soldier for her icy province, Winter, which has been enslaved by a neighboring territory. Her weapon of choice: the chakram, or throwing circle. Meira partners with her childhood playmate, an heir to the throne, in a quest to locate the broken locket that holds the magic for their province. Meira has romantic feelings for this young man, so she is startled when it becomes apparent that she will be used as a pawn to forge a marriage alliance with another territory. As the story unfolds, the history of the provinces is revealed, magic explained, and all is not as it seems. The plot and writing are superlative, and fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone (Holt, 2012) and the like will not be disappointed.–Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL

Reilly, Nichola. Drowned. 304p. Harlequin Teen. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211227.

Gr 7 Up –In the future, there will be only water and one’s distance from the rising tides. This is where strong-willed Coe finds herself with the water always rising on the small island where she has lived since her birth. There are only so many places of dry land left on Earth, and in order to make sure inhabitants don’t get washed away into the tide, Coe’s people, who have dwindled to 496, have created a standing formation in order to stay safe. In this formation, the closer one is to the rising waters, the lower her station in life. Unfortunately, Coe is the Craphouse Keeper, and it’s just as dirty and smelly as one might imagine and closer to the edge of the water than she’d like to be. Then, her former playmate, Princess Star, daughter of the King of Coe’s people, has asked for Coe to be her new Lady-in-Waiting, which brings Coe protection from the tides as well as gorgeous clothes and fragrant baths. There’s also Tiam, the beautiful boy who has stood next to her in the formation since they were children, and with whom she’s desperately in love. But, Princess Star has a plan for him, too. This suspenseful and dramatic tale will make readers feel just as trapped as Coe feels by the rising tides. Coe is an interesting and well-developed character that teens will root for every step of the way, and the other inhabitants of her island provide foils and allies alike. The book ends on a cliff-hanger, and readers will clamor for a sequel.–Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library, OR

Always a catch Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YARichmond, Peter. Always a Catch. 288p. Philomel. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399250552.

Gr 9 Up –Jack Lefferts is trying to find his place in the world. He has a difficult relationship with his father; the two of them have never quite seen eye to eye, until Jack is given the chance to transfer to Oakhurst Hall Boarding School. It is a prestigious academy where Jack will presumably receive an excellent education. Jack’s piano talent is the key to his acceptance into the school, but he surprises everyone by trying out for the football team instead. Jack must balance his time on the gridiron with school work and his music. The story moves quickly as the football season progresses. Jack as well-crafted character, for whom readers will root. Jack faces a true test of who he is and what kind of player he wants to be when he finds out that members of his team are using steroids. Richmond has written a story that will appeal to fans of the genre and authors, such as Mike Lupica and Tim Green. There are moments of teen drinking and drug use that make this title for older readers.–Patrick Tierney, Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary School RI

Ritter, William. Jackaby. 304p. Algonquin. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781616203535; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9781616204341.

Gr 9 Up –Fans of Jonathan Stroud’s The Screaming Staircase (Disney-Hyperion, 2013) will appreciate Ritter’s initial foray into the realm of supernatural. When Abigail Rook abandons university, and her parents’ hopes, she arrives at the fictional New England town of New Fiddleham. There, she promptly meets R. F. Jackaby, a paranormal detective, and is flung into the investigation of a serial killer suspected of being nonhuman. Where Ritter excels is in the fast and furious plotline—events unfold rapidly while satisfying tastes for mystery and a small amount of gore. Avid lovers of fantasy will enjoy this quick read.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

Roy, Carter. The Blood Guard. 288p. Amazon/Two Lions. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781477847251.

Gr 4-8 –When Ronan Truelove’s mother arrives unexpectedly to pick him up from school, Ronan assumes she’s just there to give him a ride to gymnastics class. Instead, Ronan and his mom are suddenly involved in a terrifying high-speed car chase by suited robot assassins. Ronan’s mom explains that not only is Ronan’s father missing but that she is a member of a secret society, the Blood Guard, dedicated to protecting the 36 Pure Souls, whose goodness must be preserved to stop the world plunging into darkness and evil. When his mother drops him off at the train station with only the cryptic advice “Trust no one,” Ronan starts to understand why up to now his life has been a progression from one martial arts class to another—he was unknowingly in training for the Blood Guard all along. Conveniently meeting up with Greta, a sarcastic friend from a past school who happens also to be an expert in the use of firearms, and his assigned Blood Guard protector Jack Dawkins, Ronan sets off on a whirlwind adventure, to prevent the agents of evil from stealing the souls of the pure. Although Ronan’s exploits are reminiscent of Alex Rider and Percy Jackson, the background mythology comes from the Christian Old Testament with a touch of Men in Black. Roy writes so well that the story is completely fresh and manages to be funny while dealing with superhuman enemies and apocalyptic terror. Ronan is an appealing hero, and readers will want to see what happens next. A great new series for middle school students who love fantasy and adventure.–Jane Barrer, United Nations International School, New York City

THEY ALL FALL DOWN Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YASt. Claire, Roxanne. They All Fall Down. 352p. Delacorte. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385742719; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375990724; ebk. ISBN 9780307977007.

Gr 9 Up –Junior year promises to be life-changing for Kenzie Summerall. It’s been two years since her brother’s tragic death and her mother became seized with a fear of accidents, holding Kenzie practically hostage in her own home. It hasn’t been too bad for Kenzie who has had less than a hopping social life until now. Now Kenzie is voted onto a list of the top 10 hottest girls in school. All of a sudden there are popular boys noticing her in the hall and parties to attend. It all seems like a harmless popularity game until the girls on the list start dying in their own tragic accidents one by one. It is up to Kenzie to determine whether it is simply a coincidence, a curse, or the act of a killer before it’s too late. Part high school drama, part mystery, this fast-paced novel will appeal to a broad range of readers who will have a difficult time putting it down. The surprise discovery at the end begs for a sequel.–Betsy Davison, Cortland Free Library, NY

Schindler, Holly. Feral. 432p. HarperCollins/ HarperTeen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062220202.

Gr 9 Up – Two brutal attacks are described in detailed flashbacks: one resulting in death, the other in extreme psychological trauma. Although each event happened at separate times and were miles apart, the victims seem to be eerily connected: both were burgeoning writers on their school newspaper staff; both lived a somewhat marginalized existence when compared to their BFFs; both were victimized in retaliation for their investigative reporting; and one wants the other one dead. Seventeen-year-old Claire Cain was rescued by Chicago police after having barely survived being attacked by a gang for snitching on them to clear her best friend’s name. Even though she’s been receiving treatment for the trauma, Claire continues to relive the horrible attack in her dreams. When Claire’s father gets the opportunity to take a sabbatical from his job to do anthropological research in the small Missouri town of Peculiar, Claire and her dad are hopeful that the change of scene will help her heal. She soon gets swept up in the town’s frantic search for a missing girl named Serena Sims. Claire accidentally stumbles upon Serena’s broken corpse in the icy woods behind the high school; it is surrounded by what seems to be the town’s entire feral cat population. With the discovery of Serena’s body and the casual handling of her death by the local police, Claire’s investigative juices, which have lain dormant for months, resurface driving her to dig for the backstory and the truth behind the heinous act. Readers who like a gripping psychological thriller will thoroughly enjoy this tale with echoes of classic Hitchcock. Issues of cliques, peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem, post-traumatic stress syndrome, teacher-student relationships, and pet abandonment will provide substance for discussion.–Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA

Shull, Megan. The Swap. 400p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062311696.

Gr 5 Up –This is realistic fiction with a twist—two characters form an unlikely friendship when they swap bodies. Meet Ellie: a girl who lives with her mom and is entering seventh grade with her former best friend, Sassy. Sassy is crazy in love with Jack Malloy, “The Prince.” Jack, an eighth grader, has it all: good grades, athletic ability, great manners, and good looks to boot. When circumstances land both Jack and Ellie in the nurse’s office on the first day of school, they admire the ease at which each other has it in life. The next thing they know, that strange new nurse is gone and they are in each other’s bodies. Now they have to make it through the weekend—filled with soccer tryouts, doctor appointments, hockey practice, and sleepovers—before they can get the nurse to switch them back. Told in alternating perspectives, Shull creates two authentic main characters with unique tween voices. They deal with familial issues (death, divorce) as well as social (bullying, sibling relationships, friends) with clumsy grace. The book is heartbreaking and hilarious. A great, entertaining read that will appeal to boys and girls. Ultimately this is a highly recommended purchase.–Stephanie DeVincentis, Downers Grove North High School, IL

100 sideway miles Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YASmith, Andrew. 100 Sideways Miles. 288p. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442444959; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442444973.

Gr 9 Up –Finn Easton has lived his life in the shadow of a book. As a child, Finn was severely injured and his mother killed in a freak accident: a dead horse landed on them when it fell off a truck that was traveling over a bridge. After the accident, his father took many of Finn’s unique characteristics (his name, heterochromatic eyes, propensity to measure time in miles traveled by the Earth in orbit, struggle with epilepsy, and a particular scar along his back) and made them into a character in a Robert Heinlein–esque novel, The Lazarus Door. The novel has attained cult status around the world and made Finn’s life a nightmare. The only person who treats him as though he is not the character in the book is his best friend, Cade Hernandez, the tobacco-chewing, sex-obsessed, teacher-baiting hero to their classmates, beloved for his pitching skills and his ability to get most people—especially girls—to do whatever he wants. Late in their junior year, Julia Bishop moves in and Finn falls in love. She is creative and funny. When she announces that she is moving back home to Chicago shortly after Finn’s birthday, he is heartbroken, but decides to continue with his planned road trip with Cade to Dunston University in Oklahoma, a school they plan to attend unless Cade is drafted by the major leagues or is given an athletic scholarship to another university. The trip is the first time Finn has been out of California or away from home, and Cade helps him cut the cord by throwing away his cell while on the road in Arizona.  This will appeal to teens who like novels with a bit of an absurdist edge, such as Libba Bray’s Going Bovine (Delacorte, 2009).–Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL

Smith, Dan. My Friend the Enemy. 288p. Scholastic/Chicken House. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545665421; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545665438. LC 2103042572.

Gr 6 Up –Twelve-year-old Peter lives just outside a small town in England during World War II and is feeling the effects: rations are tight, tensions are high, and many of the men are on the front lines of the battle. A German plane crashes in a field near Peter’s home, and the town is thrown into a frenzy when it is discovered that the German soldier inside the aircraft escaped death by parachuting into the nearby woods. Peter and his friend Kim are exploring in the forest when they come upon the soldier. Seeing that he is just a scared young man, the two friends decide not to turn him in, and instead they find him a safe place to stay and help him recover from his wounds.  Filled with action and tense situations, this story will keep readers engaged from its explosive beginning to its dramatic ending; lovers of historical fiction will especially appreciate this interesting take on life on the homefront during World War II. Although Peter and Kim have an emotional understanding that seems beyond their years, their struggles will remind readers to look for the humanity in everyone, even in those considered enemies.–Sarah Reid, Broome County Public Library, Binghamton, NY

Stiefvater, Maggie. Sinner. 368p. Scholastic. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545654579; ebk. $18.99. ISBN 9780545654586.

Gr 9 Up –Cole St. Clair, the bad-boy frontman of the band NARKOTIKA is back in LA and the spotlight. He had it all—stardom, good looks, money, women—and then it all went terribly wrong. Suffering from destructive behavior and addiction, Cole fell hard and then just disappeared. But Baby North of has decided to chronicle Cole’s possible comeback or failure on her reality show as he produces his first album since the band’s demise.Complicating matters is his “relationship” with Isabel Culpeper. She knows the real Cole and his dark secret. In order to heal, they both must reflect on what truly matters in life and whether or not they are worthy of happiness and love. Stiefvater’s companion novel to the “Wolves of Mercy Falls” series (Scholastic) is brilliantly written. The alternating chapters from Cole’s and Isabel’s points of view not only drive the plot, but also capture the intensity and vulnerability of these deep, but flawed, characters. This powerful and compelling story is certain to be a hit with fans of the series and bring new ones to the pack.–Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

lies we tell ourselves Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YATalley, Robin. Lies We Tell Ourselves. 384p. ebook available. Harlequin Teen. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211333.

Gr 9 Up –As seniors in Jefferson High School’s class of 1959, Sarah Dunbar and Linda Hairston have much in common. Both are strong-willed and smart. Both love to sing. Both are desperate to break out of the mold society prescribes for young ladies. Yet despite their similarities, the teens stand on opposite sides of the school integration debate. Sarah is one of eight black students selected to integrate the all-white high school. Linda hates the turmoil these students have caused in her community and truly believes the pro-segregation editorials her father writes for the local newspaper. But when they are forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda slowly learn to respect each other and—eventually—become friends, and then something more. Set in Virginia, this well-paced, engrossing story features strong female characters living in the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Each chapter title is a “lie” that either Sarah or Linda tells herself as a defense mechanism against intense racial tension and strict gender roles. This format, along with alternating viewpoints, work well with the story. It’s a beautifully written and compelling read.–Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TX

WESTERFELD, Scott. Afterworlds. 608p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Sept. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781481422345; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481422369.

Gr 8 Up –Darcy Patel, just graduating from high school and accepted to the college of her choice, has a written a book that has been picked up by a major publisher. She decides that instead of going directly to college, she will move to New York City, live on her advance, and edit Afterworlds and write the sequel. She heads to the city with no friends, no place to live, and a sense of adventure and excitement. Lizzie, traveling home from a visit with her father, changes planes at the Dallas airport where terrorists attack and she is almost killed. During those moments when she hovers between life and death and plays dead so that she will not be shot, she travels to the afterworld where she meets Yamaraj, who guides her back to life. As a result of this near-death experience, she can now see ghosts and travel back and forth between the real world and the afterworld; she has become a “pschopomp.” And yes, Lizzie and her story are actually Darcy’s book. Westerfeld has once again written a story with characters so compelling and a plot so intriguing that despite the book’s length, readers still want more. With the interweaving of Darcy’s rewrite of Lizzie’s story, the background of Hindu legend and death gods, and the allusions to the YA literary world, including mentions of the Printz award and BookExpo America, this is a book that can be enjoyed on multiple levels. The blend of realism and supernatural is especially strong. A riveting and unique read.–Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas

White, Kiersten. Illusions of Fate. 288p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062135896; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062135919.

Gr 8 Up –Jessamin Olea earns her way into a boarding school in Albion where she is considered second class by the other students and referred to as “Island Rat” because she is from the island of Melie. She spends most of her time studying and alone until she meets Finn, a young lord who belongs to the nobility of Albion.Readers will be intrigued by the mysterious birds that visit Jessamin as she learns more about Finn’s world and the danger that surrounds him. Lord Downpike, one of Finn’s enemies, is trying to do away with him and only Jessamin can stop Downpike’s wrath. While the protagonist has no powers, she fortunately has good instincts and is about to help Finn. Jessamin is a strong, well-developed character to whom readers will relate; even readers who are not typically fans of the genre may be drawn into the narrative by the realistic voice of the main character. This well-written historical fantasy has romance, suspense, a fairy-tale feel, and a great ending that will leave teens cheering.–Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI

Whitney, Daisy. The Fire Artist. 275p. Bloomsbury. Oct. 2014. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9781619631328.

Gr 7 Up –In the not-too-distant future, elemental arts have replaced sports as the world’s most popular form of spectator entertainment. Young people gifted with the ability to control fire, ice, earth and wind are recruited into “leagues,” whose teams perform extravagant stunts before sold-out crowds. Rare and highly desirable, an elemental gift can be acquired legally, through genetics at birth, or illegally, through a directed lightning strike to the heart or through a wish exchange with a “granter.” Aria Kilandros, the daughter of two elemental artists, appears to have inherited no such gift herself. Something her abusive and controlling father, who “want(s) another fire child more than anything in the world,” simply cannot accept. Every night, he sets Aria’s hands on fire in a cruel, crude attempt to release fire power from her body. Desperate to get away from her father and save herself, Aria uses both illegal methods to become a fire artist. And though her ill-gotten skills do catapult her out of the Florida backwaters and into the prestigious leagues of New York City, Aria’s every day is shadowed by the fear that her Faustian bargain will be discovered. Fantasy readers will root for the smart, tough Aria and be awed by her beautifully articulated and actualized desire for independence.–Susan Wengler, Saint Dominic Academy, Jersey City, NJ

Wilson, Rachel M. Don’t Touch. 432p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062220936; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062220950.

Gr 8 Up –Caddie is starting over: she’s earned a spot at the performing arts high school for her junior year, and reconnects with an old friend in doing so. Caddie’s parents are also starting over, in new, individual lives. Caddie is pretty sure that her dad will come back, as long as she listens to the part of her brain telling her not to touch anyone. No skin contact would be difficult anywhere, but it’s doubly hard when rehearsing as Ophelia to her crush’s Hamlet. This novel offers a good look at Obesseive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders, though it stops short of exploring treatment and recovery. The protagonist connects with a former therapist, but her healing seems more about pulling herself up by her own bootstraps than utilizing therapeutic methods. There is an Author’s Note describing the Wilson’s own struggles with OCD. Pair with Aaron Karo’s Lexapros And Cons (Farrar, 2012) for another look at OCD in teens.–Brandy Danner, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

wildlife Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAWood, Fiona. Wildlife. 385p. Little, Brown/Poppy. Sept. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316242097.

Gr 9 Up –This story takes place in the mountains outside Melbourne, Australia. Sib’s class is spending a quarter of their 10th grade year at Mount Fairweather, an “outdoor education campus” of their private school. The students go on solo hiking overnight trips, have to follow chore charts, and learn to adapt to shared living spaces. Holly, Sib’s best friend and a drama queen, has dominated their relationship since childhood. Sib is likable but not popular, naïve but not clueless, smart but not a show-off: Why does she cling to someone this mean and insecure? When Ben Capaldi, a catch, moves in on unsuspecting Sib, she’s all aflutter at first. But as she befriends Lou, a defiant newcomer, she realizes that her self-worth is all tied up in what others see and expect of her. Lou, privately battling grief and loss, isn’t an easy person to know or to take advantage of; she’d rather be alone. Still, she’s self-possessed; when she chooses to speak, it’s through a performance of the Beatles’s “Blackbird” that earns her the audience’s hushed silence. Before Fairweather, Lou had another life. Memories of her first times with Fred suggests that puppy love can be the real thing; in fact, Lou and Sib relate losing their virginity with such refreshing candor that Wildlife validates the sexual needs of girls everywhere.–Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY

Worthen, Johnny. Eleanor. 356p. (The Unseen: Bk. 1). ebook available. Jolly Fish Pr. Jul. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781939967343.

Gr 7 Up –This is a fast-paced paranormal story of love and family, remembrance and survival. Eleanor Anders lost her family at a young age due to a tragic incident. As the sole survivor, she fled into the forest for safety. When she was finally saved by Tabitha, she was not quite certain how long she had been in the woods. All she knew was that she needed Tabitha and miraculously, Tabitha needed her. Ten years later, Eleanor is in high school in the small town of Jamesford, Wyoming. She is shy and withdrawn and hopes to go mosty unnoticed. Tabitha is close to death from cancer and Eleanor is petrified of a future alone. Tabitha is the only person on earth that she can trust, and the only person that knows her true secret. When the tall, dark, and mysterious David Venn comes back into Tabitha’s life, Eleanor doesn’t understand why she’s so drawn to him and almost risks exposing her secret to stay by his side. This first installment of the three-part series is based on a Navajo legend. Worthen’s handling of the volatile issues of racism, societal inequalities, gossip mongering, peer pressure, bullying, death, and abandonment will provide readers with numerous opportunities for in-depth discussion.–Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA

Zhang FallingIntoPlace 9up Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAZhang, Amy. Falling into Place. 304p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062295040.

Gr 8 Up –Liz Emerson, a junior, “accidentally” runs her car off an icy roadway. Ashamed and depressed about the person she has become; detesting the loneliness when her widowed businesswoman mother travels; tired of being equally admired and deservedly hated by peers, she decides to end it all. Told from the inventive and effective viewpoint of Liz’s childhood “imaginary friend,” illuminating scenarios fluctuate between the hospital where Liz hangs on to life, to Liz’s early youth, to past and present interactions between Liz and those around her. Liz and her two best friends, Kennie and Julia, party hearty often and treat others cruelly, yet it’s Liz who confronts the guys’ basketball team as they sexually taunt a lesbian classmate. Liz pushes pregnant Kennie to have an abortion, prods Julia into drug dependency, and plots to bully Liam who has a crush on her, yet she silently acknowledges and internalizes her faults, wishing someone would make her pay. After an unsuccessful last-ditch effort to get help, she designates herself as that someone by planning her suicide. Although the subject matter is heavy and there are a few easily brushed-off awkward moments, the breezy yet powerful and exceptionally perceptive writing style, multifaceted characters, surprisingly hopeful ending, and pertinent contemporary themes frame an engrossing, thought-provoking story that will be snapped up by readers of Todd Mitchell’s Backwards (Candlewick, 2013) and Gayle Forman’s If I Stay (Dutton, 2009.)–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

Graphic Novels

Carroll Through the Woods 9up Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YACarroll, Emily. Through the Woods. illus. by Emily Carroll. 208p. ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Jul. 2014. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781442465954; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781442465961. LC 2013030969.

Gr 8 Up –Not exactly a book of fairy tales, these illustrated short stories are more a series of ruminations interwoven with dreams and fairy tales. Classic elements are here—there’s a girl in a red hooded cloak, and a girl who wears a ribbon around her throat—but the entries expand and wander in different (and darker) directions. The illustrations (done in ink and graphite on Bristol board and then digitally colored) fill the entire page, so at first glance the work looks more like a picture book than a graphic novel. The hues are bold and striking, with the color red dominating the pages in the form of sunsets, flushed cheeks, bloodshot eyes, twisted word balloons, a deep crimson ruby, and even pools of blood. This collection contains four new stories and one (“His Face All Red”) that was originally published as a webcomic on Carroll’s website. This is a beautifully rendered but deeply chilling collection of vignettes that will be most appreciated by teens and adults who are fans of fairy tales, horror, and the things that hide in the dark.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

Gaiman Graveyard Book 5 8GN Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAGAIMAN, Neil. The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Vol 1. adapted by P. Craig Russell. illus. by P. Craig Russell, et al. 192p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Jul. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062194817.

Gr 5 Up–The award-winning tale about an orphaned boy raised in a graveyard by ghosts is successfully adapted for the graphic novel format by Russell and his cadre of artists. The arresting opening image of a bloody knife sets the tone for this sometimes gory, but often playful, illustrated version. A toddler’s family is murdered by a mysterious stranger, and the denizens of the neighboring cemetery (ie. ghosts, vampires, and even a werewolf-type creature) take on the responsibility of being his caretakers. Renamed Nobody “Bod” Owens, the inquisitive boy grows up among the specters, making friends with a human girl, and escaping from several brushes with death. The panel’s dark blues, grays, and purples are punctuated with vibrant greens, yellows, and crimson red. Each chapter is illustrated by an artist or two, who in turn infuse the entry with their own technique, while reflecting the story’s original heart and atmosphere. This adaptation celebrates friendship, loyalty, and family with similar humor and aplomb. The concluding interlude segues eerily into the next volume, for which middle graders will anxiously be waiting.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

harrop the isobel journal 9upGN Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAHarrop, Isobel. The Isobel Journal: Just a Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens. illus. by Isobel Harrop. 208p. Capstone/Switch Pr. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781630790035.

Gr 7 Up –Blogger and Tumblr fan Isobel Harrop, 18, shares her thoughts and insights on the highlights of her life. Through a scrapbook-type journal—much like the one teens may have by the side of their beds—full of drawings, taped-in pictures, and ticket stubs, Isobel tells readers about her desire to make beautiful things, and her difficulty fitting in with the arty kids. She shares her feelings on love, wanting to put forget-me-nots inside her crush’s head; and breakups, hating boys who make fun of things she likes. The slightly moody, artistic, confused young adult narrator embodies most teen readers. Reminiscent of Tavi Gevenson’s “Rookie Yearbooks” (Drawn & Quarterly) and Jessica Anthony’s Chopsticks (Penguin, 2012), this creative mixed-media work by a UK teen will devoured quickly—and will inspire readers to created their own illustrated notebooks. For those who are ready to move past Rachel Renée Russell’s “Dork Diaries” (S. & S.) –Sarah Knutson, American Canyon Middle School, CA

Liniers macanudo 9upGN Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YALiniers. Macanudo. tr. from Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem. 96p. (Macanudo: Bk. 1). Enchanted Lion. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781592701544.

Gr 7 Up –This collection of comics that were originally published in the Argentine newspaper La Nacion combine elements of different comic strips that have been popular among American audiences. There are several recurring characters, such as Martin the penguin, Fellini the cat, and Z-25 The Sensitive Robot, who find themselves in humorous and surreal situations. The ink and watercolor artwork is vibrant and cartoony, and the artistic style is a cross between the Jim Meddick’s Monty and Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie ouevres. Some comics are surreal, as in Gary Larson’s “The Far Side.” A few look at childhood relationships in a nostalgic and sentimental way akin to Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes.” Others mix the sweet and the absurd like Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County.” There is no ongoing story line and each strip stands on its own, so this title would be a good choice for those looking for a sweet, lighthearted graphic novel.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

Telgemeier SISTERS 5 8GN Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YATELGEMEIER, Raina. Sisters. illus. by Raina Telgemeier. 208p. Scholastic/Graphix. Aug. 2014. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780545540599; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780545540605; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780545540667. LC 2013008700.

Gr 4 Up –Telgemeier has returned with a must-have follow-up to Smile (Scholastic, 2010) that is as funny as it is poignant, and utterly relatable for anyone with siblings. This realistic graphic memoir tells the story of Raina; her sister, Amara; and her brother, Will, as they take a road trip with their mother from California to Colorado to join a family reunion. The author’s narrative style is fresh and sharp, and the well-placed flashbacks pull the plot together, moving the story forward and helping readers understand the characters’ point of view. The volume captures preadolescence in an effortless and uncanny way and turns tough subjects, such as parental marriage problems, into experiences with which readers can identify. This ability is what sets Telgemeier’s work apart and makes her titles appealing to such a wide variety of readers. Not only does the story relay the road trip’s hijinks, but it also touches on what happens with the advent of a new sibling and what it means to be truly sisters. Fans of the graphic novelist’s work will be sure to delight in this return to the Telgemeier’s family drama.–Krishna Grady, Darien Library, CT

For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings subjects as diverse as author memoirs, how to break into the fashion industry, science mysteries, and a programming with Scratch primer.

Behnke, Alison Marie. Up for Sale: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery. 72p. bibliog. ebook available. further reading. index. notes. photos. websites. Twenty-First Century. Sept. 2014. lib. ed. $34.60. ISBN 9781467716116. LC 2013022607.

Gr 7 Up –“In modern times, slavery has a different face and goes by a different name: human trafficking” states this well-sourced overview of human rights violations. Although the book is fairly brief, it offers a good first look at human trafficking, and the text is substantial enough to provide an overview for those unfamiliar with the topic. Though Behnke includes examples of trafficking in the United States, she also casts her eye globally, looking at debt bondage, sweatshops, forced prostitution, the illegal selling of body organs, child soldiers, and children illegally taken from families and sold for adoption. The narrative is concise, clear, and factual, and there are plenty of photos and text boxes to break up text, though they are sometimes repetitive, and stock photos are occasionally used. While this book doesn’t get too close to its difficult subject, the images and stories, especially those of young people, will inform teen readers. A strong stepping-off point for further inquiry into the subject.–Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR

HANCOCK , James Gulliver. Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of 50 Famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff. illus. by James Gulliver Hancock. 112p. Chronicle. 2014. pap.$19.95. ISBN 9781452114569.

Gr 8 Up –This quirky visual take on famous figures goes heavy on graphics to present brief profiles of people based around objects associated with them. Hancock explains in his introduction that people’s relationships to their possessions have always interested him, discussing how Che Guevara is associated with his beret or Grace Kelly with her scarf: “Like possessions, small quirks reflect a person’s identity—their clothes, their favorite food, the house they grew up in, the people they know.” Hancock has chosen an array of well-known individuals, from royalty (Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana) to musicians (Elvis Presley, John Lennon) to artists (Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol) to politicians (Margaret Thatcher, Barack Obama) to scientists (Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci). Crammed to the brim with whimsical line drawings depicting the subjects’ hobbies, romantic partners, favorite articles of clothing, vices, and more, each page explodes with creative and intriuging details. An irreverent tone runs through the work; for instance, Billie Holiday’s page features an image of heroin with the words “abused this.”  Hancock has captured the essence of his subjects with these snarky and humorous mini-biographies. Browsers will be in for a treat, and more artistic readers may even be inspired to create their own portraits of celebrities or friends.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

PoisonedApples Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAHeppermann, Christine. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. 128p. ebook available. illus. photos. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062289575.

Gr 8 Up –Traditional folk and fairy tales collide with feminist observations of modern beauty and hygiene culture in this compilation of 50 free verse and easy to read poems. Each one grapples with the state of femininity with caustic wit, heavy with criticism. Readers will also be treated to moody and eye-catching artwork that complements the poems perfectly. The accessibility of the poems coupled with the striking book cover and photos will appeal to a wide range of readers. The poems should spark interesting questions and insights for contemplation about obtaining a pop culture–derived, air-brushed perfection. Overall, however, this is an engaging and enjoyable volume.–Mindy Whipple, West Jordan Library, UT

McGuire, Kara. The Money Manual: A Guide to Cash, Credit, Spending, Saving, Work, Wealth, and More. 208p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. Capstone. Aug. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781623701352.

Gr 6 Up –This solid book explains the choices teens can make now that will impact their future credit and financial life. It is well organized into four sections: earning, saving, spending, and protecting. Each one has three chapters that offer informative options and practical advice. The section on earning covers making money, from getting a job and becoming an entrepreneur to deciphering one’s paycheck. The part about saving discusses options, investing, time horizon, risk, and diversification. Spending discusses budgeting, expenses, borrowing, credit cards, paying for college, figuring costs of college, and tools for financial aid. Protecting your property looks at different types of insurance, as well as how to protect against identity theft and what readers should do if they think their identity has been stolen. Up-to-date tips and resources include statistics, worksheets, sample documents, websites, and apps. Side bars share financial experiences of young entrepreneurs, investors, and others. This handy manual teaches teens about financial literacy in a helpful, casual tone. Clear and accessible explanations will help readers to build a “rock solid financial future.”–June Shimonishi, Torrance Public Library, CA

LEARN TO PROGRAM SCRATCH Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAMarji, Majed. Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math. 288p. No Starch Press. 2014. Tr $34.95. ISBN 9781593275433. LC 2013043492.

Gr 5 Up –This book delves into the world of Scratch and the limitless ways in which students can use it to learn concepts relating to logic, math, and digital design. Scratch is an MIT-created visual programming language aimed at imparting knowledge of programming concepts to young users. This textbook-like guide covers the fundamentals of Scratch, building in difficulty as chapters progress. Basic programming concepts such as the usage of variables, string processing, and lists are discussed in detail, as are the different methods in which said concepts can be demonstrated in Scratch. Chapters mimic those from math and science textbooks, with conceptual ideas listed first and followed by rich diagrams and images, a summary, and finally example problems and challenges. Explanations are offered on how to transfer skills learned in Scratch to actual programming languages like Python, C++, and Java, which sets this book apart from other lessons that do not present a clear enough link from Scratch to the real world of programming languages. Overall, this is a solid volume that fills a void in the current literature on how to play with and manipulate Scratch.–Amy M. Laughlin, Darien Library, CT

Markle, Sandra. The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery. 48p. further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Millbrook. Sept. 2014. Tr. $29.27. ISBN 9781467714631. LC 2013030953.

Gr 4-6 –This informative title sheds light on a mystery of nature: how little brown bats, nature’s insect eaters, are mysteriously dying in their caves during hibernation. Each chapter takes readers into the problems that plague this endangered member of our ecosystem, describing how teams of scientists examined how “white-nose syndrome,” caused by a fungus called Pd, is infecting the brown bat population. Scientists have searched different caves and mines in the eastern United States and discovered that Pd affects bats by damaging their wings. Since this discovery, they have been exploring ways to change the conditions so that these small mammals can survive hibernation. The text is written in a clear tone, providing information on the plight of the bats in an accessible style. The book integrates textual and visual information well, and strong back matter allows students to do additional research. An excellent work that will enlighten readers about a growing problem in the natural world.–Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI

Morgan, Genevieve. Undecided: Navigating Life and Learning After High School. 256p. bibliog. further reading. index. websites. Zest. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781936976324. LC 2013951198.

Gr 10 Up –Some students know exactly what they want to do after graduating from high school, whether continuing their education or starting careers. Others aren’t as sure. Morgan’s book targets these readers, taking them through the many options available today—both traditional and nontraditional. Part one is a planning guide and asks readers to analyze what fuels their passions, gives advice on how to make a plan for the future, and evaluates how much money is needed to fulfill one’s goals. In parts two through five, teens are given the pros and cons of each possible scenario post-graduation, including attending college, both two year and four year; engaging in service, both domestic and foreign; obtaining a job, whether getting hired or starting one’s own business; and traveling, for fun, to perform service, or to learn a language. Morgan gives substantial advice and suggestions on how to make the right choice and how to succeed once that choice has been made.–Elizabeth Kahn, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Jefferson, LA

StoriesofMyLife Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAPaterson, Katherine. Stories of My Life. 320p. chron. photos. Dial. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803740433; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101620656.

Gr 6 Up –A beloved author shares family lore and personal history in a collection of stories wending casually from her parents’ youth to her husband’s recent death, with many illuminating stops—geographical and temporal—in between. This set of personal tales offers the same openness and vibrant detail that helped Paterson garner Newbery Medals and National Book Awards. The chapters and accompanying photographs lace together family history with professional triumphs and struggles, sometimes leaping decades and continents in one or two sentences, with many episodes focusing on her family’s experiences during her childhood in China and her own adult missionary life in Japan. Longtime fans will delight in the origin stories dotted throughout, revealing inspirations for familiar characters, locations, and incidents. In the introduction, Paterson dismisses the notion of publishing her memoirs, and the meaningful compilation of anecdotes here does not present as a single, cohesive narrative. Some chapters display a nuanced interweaving and a sense of resolution, while others appear as lists or simple, chronological accounts. Paterson’s Christian faith and her missionary background inform many of the tales, and her robust family relationships suffuse the entire book with contented warmth. For those of us never invited to dinner in Paterson’s undoubtedly welcoming home, this book allows us at least to imagine the stories we might hear while doing the dishes.–Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY

Rawl, Paige with Ali Benjamin. Positive: A Memoir. 288p. ebook available. further reading. glossary. notes. websites. HarperCollins/Harper. Aug. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062342515; ebk. ISBN 9780062342539.

Gr 7 Up –This realistic and honest biography of a young woman living with HIV will draw readers in, shedding light on this difficult topic. Though Rawl was born with HIV, she never experienced symptoms of the virus or AIDS, as she was diagnosed early and used medications. In middle school, she confided in a friend about her HIV-positive status, who told others, leading to bullying and name-calling from fellow students as well as lack of support from her school’s administration. While the experience was painful, Rawl eventually gained control of her life. Now a college student planning to study molecular biology, she is an advocate against bullying and an HIV/AIDS educator. Through short chapters, teens will get a sense of the girl’s life, including her happy childhood, the strong bond between her and her mother, and the difficulties she faced, as well as gain accessible information on HIV/AIDS. Back matter incorporates websites and resources on AIDS, HIV, bullying, and suicide. The book beautifully conveys what it’s like to grow up with HIV, dispelling myths about the virus and imparting useful knowledge.–Paige Bentley-Flannery, Deschutes Public Library, Bend, OR

BrownGirlDreaming Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YAWoodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. 320p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399252518.

Gr 4-7 –“I am born in Ohio but the stories of South Carolina already run like rivers through my veins” writes Woodson as she begins her mesmerizing journey through her early years. She was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, “as the South explodes” into a war for civil rights and was raised in South Carolina and then New York. Her perspective on the volatile era in which she grew up is thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse, (Martin Luther King is ready to march on Washington; Malcom X speaks about revolution; Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat only seven years earlier and three years have passed since Ruby Bridges walks into an all-white school). She experienced firsthand the acute differences in how the “colored” were treated in the North and South. “After the night falls and it is safe for brown people to leave the South without getting stopped and sometimes beaten and always questioned; We board the Greyhound bus bound for Ohio.” She related her difficulties with reading as a child and living in the shadow of her brilliant older sister, she never abandoned her dream of becoming a writer. With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience, from her supportive, loving maternal grandparents, her mother’s insistence on good grammar, to the lifetime friend she meets in New York, that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss.–D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH

Wooster, Patricia. So, You Want to Work in Fashion?: How to Break into the World of Fashion and Design. 192p. (Be What You Want). bibliog. ebook available. further reading. glossary. illus. notes. Atria/Beyond Words. Sept. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781582704531; pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781582704524.

Gr 7 Up – This inspirational title emphasizes the importance of schooling and finding a niche in the industry and covers all the areas of career interest: design, styling, production, public relations, retail, media, modeling, and photography. A variety of engaging profiles and interviews of successful fashion professionals of all ages is distributed throughout. A special emphasis on teen and young adult fashion success stories will encourage readers to follow their dreams. Relevant quotes from fashion notables often serve as transition markers for topic changes within a chapter. Some simple, black-and-white drawings and handcrafted word art provide a bit of decoration. The text is written without gender bias, and many of the profiles and interviews are of males. The book closes with a few DIY projects to get readers started and a list of resources. Those who enjoy fashion television will enjoy the many references and nods to perennial small screen favorite Project Runway. Teens will enjoy poring over the well-written, relatable text and uncovering new blogs, classes, and even a website that allows readers to create their own fashion magazine. A fun and informative read for fashion fans.–Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT

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

EH140617 YA Everything INeverToldYou Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YANG, Celeste. Everything I Never Told You. 304p. Penguin Pr. Jun. 2014. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9781594205712.

Lydia is dead. So starts this compelling tearjerker that is a mystery buried inside a painful family drama. Set in 1970s Ohio, readers experience first-hand the racism felt by Asian Americans and mixed-race families, as well as the sexism and bourgeoning women’s movement of the time through the alternating narratives of members of this dysfunctional family. Mom and Dad are trying to live vicariously through their teen middle child, Lydia. She is pressured to pursue a medical career, and to fit in socially; both things that were lacking in the mother and father’s lives respectively. The older brother, who is just on his way to Harvard, and the younger sister are relegated to non-favored status by the parents, and we watch the effects of that dynamic and others as this family struggles with secrets, guilt, and the pain of mourning and not knowing the truth. Readers will find themselves mentally screaming at and crying for these characters, turning page after page, and hoping for solace and answers in this narrative. Not until the very end will they find out the truth about what caused Lydia’s demise, and gain some understanding of the motives for the torturous actions of the protagonists. The somewhat hopeful ending seems a bit forced, but teen girls especially will flock to this book. Hand this one to fans of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002), and tell them to read it with a box of tissues close at hand.—Jake Pettit, American School Foundation, Mexico City

bellweather rhapsody Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YARACCULIA, Kate. Bellweather Rhapsody. 352p. Houghton Harcourt. May 2014. Tr $25. ISBN 9780544129917. LC  2013026339.

Rabbit Hatmaker has been working towards one goal for years: making it to Statewide. The typically reserved small-town high school senior is thrilled to unpack his bassoon for the first time at the prestigious music conference with peers from around New York. His twin sister, drama queen and vocalist Alice, hopes her second year affords her the chance to be a social butterfly and show others the ropes. But neither knows about the murder/suicide that happened 15 years ago at the festival’s Catskills venue, the faded Bellweather Hotel, in the very room to which Alice is assigned. At the weekend’s outset, Rabbit gains instant popularity by speaking up to the arrogant orchestra conductor, while Alice is left in the shadow of her famous roommate, a preternaturally talented flutist and daughter of Statewide’s notorious director, diva Viola Fabian. ­­When that roommate goes missing (Alice swears she saw her hanging from the ceiling pipes) and a snowstorm bears down, tensions heighten as long buried secrets and sublimated desires are forced to the surface for those gathered in the sprawling, atmospheric Bellweather. Racculia tells her multilayered coming-of-age/mystery/suspense novel from a variety of viewpoints, successfully intertwining the haunted past of the world-worn adults with the hopeful future of the gifted teens. Laced with dark humor and remarkable insight, this smart page-turner offers an insider’s look at the competitive nature of high school music performance, the higher stakes professional world, and the complex relationships that lie within both.—Paula J. Gallagher, Baltimore County Public Library, MD

adam Art Heist Capers, Super Powered Fantasies, and Creepy Horror Tales | What’s Hot in YASCHRAG, Ariel. Adam. 320p. Mariner. June 2014. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9780544142930.

A story set in 2006 against a background of gay-marriage demonstrations and the rise of transgender rights. The opening chapter of Schrag’s debut novel finds Adam climbing a tree leading to Kelsey’s bedroom window in Piedmont, California, hoping to score. He doesn’t, and his shame follows him to the cafeteria the next day where all of his friends are paired up and discussing summer plans. How to be cool and avoid more shame? He decides, too quickly, to visit his older sister, Casey, a lesbian, in New York for the summer, and this geeky awkward straight boy is put into even more geeky awkwardness. “This is my shithole,” Casey welcomes him, “And this is June.” June is wearing a T-shirt that reads: I WON’T GO DOWN IN HISTORY BUT I’LL GO DOWN ON YOUR SISTER. Adam notes to himself, in a wry and sarcastic voice, “Just in case the shaved head and bull nose ring hadn’t tipped me off that she was gay.”  Thus begins a summer that will change his life forever: he falls in love with Gillian, a lesbian, and she falls in love with him, believing him to be transgender. This unexpected and entirely original love story is laugh-out-loud hilarious, tender, and insightful—an all-around brilliant romp of a coming-of-age story. Teens will feel they have hit the jackpot when they find it.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA

The original reviews of the above works appeared in SLJ’s June print magazine.
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University of Illinois and Freedom to Read Foundation Offer Intellectual Freedom Course Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:36:32 +0000 Emily Knox resize University of Illinois and Freedom to Read Foundation Offer Intellectual Freedom Course

Professor Emily Knox will be teaching the “Intellectual Freedom and Censorship” course that is part of an effort through the Freedom to Read Foundation and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. All images courtesy of UIUC.

From August 26 until October 10, 2014, the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is teaming up with the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) to offer an online course called “Intellectual Freedom and Censorship,” through the foundation’s Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund. This will be the first time that money from the memorial fund will be used for an education-related project.

Emily Knox is an associate professor at GSLIS who will be teaching the online course—as she has twice before.

“I love teaching this course—it really helps me think about new paths for research,” says Knox. “My primary research area is intellectual freedom and censorship.  The research [from my dissertation on the arguments that challengers make to justify removing, relocating, and restricting books] will be expanded in a forthcoming monograph from Rowman & Littlefield.”

The class will cover topics including the historical roots of intellectual freedom, pro- and anti-censorship arguments, access and privacy, and free speech versus hate speech. Students will also discuss policies and handling patrons. A press release from the FTRF mentioned that guest speakers and videos will be part of the lessons. Students will be required to build what Knox calls a “challenge portfolio” which includes a letter to the governing board, a community plan, and a short reflection paper, along with other documents.

“It really helps the student think through the importance of policy and how they will respond to a challenge in their institution,” Knox said. “Members of the information profession are on the front lines of providing access to information to everyone.  Supporting intellectual freedom is one of our core ethical principles. This course gives both a framework for understanding that support and a methods for putting our values into practice.”

University of Illinois reszie University of Illinois and Freedom to Read Foundation Offer Intellectual Freedom CourseSixteen students are currently enrolled, though Knox is hopeful that the number will increase. The course is open to any student enrolled in a Library and Information Science program. Students who don’t attend the university can partake in the class as well.

Registration information: Those at Illinois and other institutions in the WISE consortium ( are able to register via the WISE system. For those at non-WISE institutions, please contact Tonyia Tidline, GSLIS director of professional development, at (217) 244-2945 or

“I hope students are able to explain why supporting intellectual freedom is important and feel prepared to handle a challenge,” Knox said.

Although Knox says she’s never experienced any censorship personally—though she’s certainly had some discussions over controversial material acquisitions—she’s a fan of reading banned books, including J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series (Scholastic) and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little Brown, 2009).

“I’ve always loved thinking about censorship, access, and banned books,” Knox said.  “My mom was a high school librarian for over 30 years and she always brought home Banned Books Week literature and encouraged me to read banned books.  Several of my elementary school essays were on banned books.”

Now, as a professor rather than a student, Knox hopes for lively discussions in the classroom and will have to wait for the future to judge whether her teachings were successful or not.

“One of the hardest things about teaching is that it’s sometimes difficult to know if a course has been successful,” she said. “You hope that the students have achieved the learning objectives but often you don’t know that you’ve been successful until many years down the road.  I hope to hear from one of my students in the future that going through the challenge portfolio exercise helped them successfully defended a challenge.”

Carly Okyle is a freelance journalist who has written for,, and Guideposts magazine. Her blog “The D Card” is candid look at living with disability issues.

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Soon to Be Famous Author Winner, School Librarian Joanne Zienty Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:00:43 +0000 The Things We Save, has had a huge year—and it almost didn't happen. ]]> JZienty feature 300x209 Soon to Be Famous Author Winner, School Librarian Joanne Zienty

Winner of the “Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project” Joanne Zienty.

Despite the sub-zero temperatures and snow in Wheaton, Illinois on that January day in 2014—30-below, to be exact—Joanne Zienty ventured out to her local library branch. She was hoping someone there could help her mail out her book The Things We Save, before the deadline for submissions to the “Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project” passed.

“I didn’t find out about the contest until it was two or three days before the deadline to submit,” she said. “I thought, ‘I have to submit my book.’”

As if the weather wasn’t enough of an obstacle, fate threw in another snag. Although the library was open and had a copy of her self-published book, the woman who would have been in charge of submitting the piece—the contest rules dictated that the submissions must come from a librarian—wasn’t in that day and wasn’t scheduled to work the following day, either. If Zienty waited any longer, it would be too late. She had worked for six years on the manuscript, writing during school vacations and on weekends. To give up now was unthinkable. Then, a thinkable solution came forward.

“I thought, ‘you’re a librarian. You can submit it.’ I filled out the rest of the application and e-mailed it off with this huge explanation about self-nominating,” she said.

So, just as she had self-published the book via the website CreateSpace when her 30 query letters didn’t receive a response, she self-nominated her work. Next, she had to wait for the results to see how her story compared to the other 102 manuscripts submitted, one round at a time. “I made the top 15, then the top three. One [of the other finalists] was a mystery novel and the other was contemporary women’s fiction. I felt really good but didn’t think I’d win because the mystery book would be easier to promote.”

JoanneZienty Soon to Be Famous Author Winner, School Librarian Joanne Zienty

Zienty was honored for her book “The Things We Save” at the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project ceremony on April 16, 2014.

The Things We Save tells the story of a woman named Claire who returns to Chicago for her grandmother’s funeral and helps her father pack up items from her childhood home as he gets ready to sell it. In the process, she learns new truths and mends old relationships. Although Zienty originally assumed that her fictional family drama would appeal to women more than men and book groups more than casual readers, the 20 librarians from across the state who judged the works disagreed.

“When my name was announced… it was very validating to me that all of these strangers thought my book was good and worth promoting” she said. “It was incredible.”

Watch Zienty’s reaction of her win at the “Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project” ceremony on April 16, 2014 (starting at 39:15 in the video).

As the winner of the contest, the mother of two will embark on a year of promotion at public libraries throughout Illinois. She’ll participate in author events like booktalks and readings. With the publicity she’s earned, the Chicago native will be able to engage a much larger audience. Still, Zienty isn’t used to the attention.

“I’m still kind of dealing with everything that’s come with winning the project,” she said, “because now libraries want to schedule me to make appearances, and I’ve had interviews, and that hasn’t been my life before April. It’s an adjustment. I’m a writer, so I’m more likely to sit and observe others than step out into the spotlight.”

In addition to being a writer and observer, Zienty is a media specialist at the Forest Elementary School Library in Des Plaines, Illinois. Though this year was her first at the school, she’s been a media specialist for seven years and a teacher for a decade. “Teaching is a passion of mine. Writing is something I do on the side to amuse myself and entertain others as well.”

While the story is entertaining, it may have ties to more somber events. “My older brother passed away when I was nine, and he was 16,” she explained. “I put the emotions and memories from that experience into my writing. I’ve always been fascinated by artifacts that we save in our lives that we connect with other… people who are significant to our lives and events that take place. I wanted to look at how doing that can be a good thing to keep us connected to people and places we lost, but it can also be harmful if the memories connected to those things and the people are kind of holding us back from letting bad feelings and memories go.”

Another bit of personal information that ended up on the page was Zienty’s portrayal of the south side of Chicago. True to her roots, Zienty is a fan of the White Sox and the Blackhawks. She’s also a fan of a local business called Oberweis Dairy where she enjoys in blueberry pie ice cream, filled with blueberries and chunks of crust. As for Chicago’s best-known indulgence, deep dish pizza, she keeps it simple.

“I’m a pizza purist,” she said. “There’s a place called Giordano’s, and I’ll get a stuffed pizza with spinach, but I don’t generally put stuff on pizza.” In all of Chicago, however, she says her favorite thing is Lake Michigan, and the preserved open space of the lake front. “I can’t imagine not living near some body of water,” she said

Water happens to be the subject of Zienty’s next book, which is also set in and around the Great Lakes area. She characterizes it as Young Adult fiction and an adventure. Set in the future, this book will deal with the idea of climate change and global warming. When water becomes controlled by a corporation, three teenagers go on a quest to change the system.

“I like being topical, and I think it’s an important topic,” she said. “I kind of want to write a book that will offend both conservatives and liberals. Literature is meant to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. I read a quote that said publishers don’t want to read any more dystopian, but we’ve had [dystopian] forever.”

When asked to clarify, Zienty talks about Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury is one of her favorites, but her taste in literature runs the gamut.

“[F. Scott Fitzgerald] encapsulates description so well,” she said. “If I can ever write a description as well as Fitzgerald, I can die happy. Tom Wolfe just makes me laugh and is such a satirist.”

Philippa Gregory and Gillian Flynn were other must-read authors for Zienty, and it’s not surprising that the librarian, who describes herself as a question-asker and a people-watcher, feels more comfortable talking about others than talking about herself. Her 400-page work is a bit too adult for her students, so when they ask about her work, she talks to them about the self-publishing process. At her first appearance after her win, at the Wheaton Library that started it all, she put together a presentation about the important libraries in her life and the significance of each.

“I couldn’t imagine standing up there just talking about myself and my book,” she said. “It was exciting and a lot of fun but nerve-wracking, too.”

Now, more than six months after she braved freezing temperatures to submit her book, what does she think of winning?

“It’s been a hectic summer so far, but that’s alright. I’m enjoying it. “

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Dollars Invested in Teen Library Services Pay Off Tue, 22 Jul 2014 02:42:43 +0000 IMLS logo Dollars Invested in Teen Library Services Pay OffThis new report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will provide the librarians working with teens the fuel they need to convince library stakeholders that dollars invested in teens are well spent. According to a 2011 Pew report, 72 percent of 16-17-year-olds used the public library in the previous year. As evidenced in the report, IMLS and others, such as the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program, are continuing to support programming and activities for teens and those who serve them in public libraries.

In a review of recently funded initiatives, it is clear that IMLS is collaborating with libraries on traditional and innovation-based programming ideas. Multnomah County Library (OR) received $118,354 in LSTA Grants to States funds as part of a two-year project to design a homework help tool for middle and high school students. A 2014 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program grant to the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Oklahoma in the amount of $354,367 builds LetsMove Dollars Invested in Teen Library Services Pay Offon the results of IMLS-funded Learning Labs by investigating how 24 middle school students engaged in project-based STEM learning to create information in a school library Learning Lab/Makerspace.
IMLS also has partnered with the Let’s Move! national initiative to get kids moving and eating healthy food using interactive exhibits,outdoor spaces, gardens, and programs to create Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens. Read the report for inspiration and affirmation.
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SummerTeen 2014 Authors Hit the Mark with New Releases │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:23:06 +0000 School Library Journal‘s SummerTeen 2014 is nearly upon us. This amazing free event features some of the best YA authors―up close and personal. It’s not too late to register. Round up some colleagues or teens and host a party. In the meantime, check out the latest releases from the featured guests. Resources for the titles selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild are included in the award-winning LiveBinder, JLG’s BTG.

crossoverkwame e1399644982353 SummerTeen 2014 Authors Hit the Mark with New Releases │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoALEXANDER, Kwame. The Crossover. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. ISBN 9780544107717. JLG Level: SM : Sports Middle (Grades 5–8).

Twins, Josh and Jordan, come well-coached to their junior high basketball team. Their dad was a champion baller himself. And though they’ve always done everything together, the year they are 12 the ties between them begin to unravel. JB finds love and Josh resents being left behind. Add a mom that holds them to high standards and a dad who ignores his potential health issues, and Josh has his poetry-writing hands full.

Alexander’s novel-in-verse works well as a read aloud and has an educator’s guide. Check out the author’s videos on his website; you can follow him on Twitter. Videos of basketball greats, such as Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant, are posted in the LiveBinder.  As hypertension is a strong factor in the plot, a link to TeensHealth is also available in the LiveBinder. For older students, check out Alexander’s novel, He Said, She Said (HarperCollins, 2013), which tells the story of a bet that becomes an unlikely romance between a high school quarterback and Harvard-bound Claudia.

112013justoneyear SummerTeen 2014 Authors Hit the Mark with New Releases │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoFORMAN, Gayle. Just One Year. Dutton. 2014. ISBN 9780525425922. JLG Level: YM : Mature Young Adults (Grades 11 & Up).

Fans of Just One Day (Dutton, 2013.) rejoice! Willem and Allyson’s story returns as he wakes up in a Paris hospital and spends a year searching for her. Traveling from Merida to Mumbai, Willem begins to understand himself, reconnecting with the life he lost prior to the beating that separated him from Allyson. Delaying his life for that one day had changed everything; this is his chance to try again.

Learn about upcoming events on Forman’s website. Follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Read an excerpt of both books in the series on Penguin’s book detail page. Watch the video of Forman discussing the series. The movie version of her novel, If I Stay (Dutton, 2009), is set for release in August.

Like No Other SummerTeen 2014 Authors Hit the Mark with New Releases │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoLAMARCHE, Una. Like No Other. Penguin/Razorbill. Jul. 2014. ISBN 9781595146748. JLG Level: CH : City High School (Grades 10 & Up).

Everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet―two teens forbidden to be in love. But that was forever ago. That doesn’t happen anymore, right? Wrong. Devorah is Hasidic; she’s not even supposed to be alone with a guy. Yet when fate delivers the forever-rule-following teen to an elevator with a non-Jewish black boy, her feelings, beliefs, and thoughts begin to unravel. Jaxon, on the other hand, has never been good with girls, yet he finds he can talk to this beautiful girl with ease. They want to be together. They are willing to make sacrifices. However, Devorah’s religion makes it as difficult for the two as it did for the Shakespearean lovers all those years ago.

Check out the author’s blog and follow her on Twitter. Listen to her read an excerpt from the novel. You can also read an excerpt on the publisher’s website. Learn more about Devorah’s culture in A Life Apart: Hasidism on PBS. This is LaMarche’s second YA novel. (Five Summers, Penguin, 2013).

Diamond Boy SummerTeen 2014 Authors Hit the Mark with New Releases │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoWILLIAMS, Michael. Diamond Boy. Little, Brown. Dec. 2014. ISBN 9780316320696. JLG Level: Y : Young Adults (Grades 9 & Up).

Patson arrives at the Marange diamond fields with dreams of finding a girazi, a stone so valuable it can change his family’s life. First, though, he must stay alive. With the death of his father, and the disappearance of his sister, the teen must leave his dreams and the dangers of South Africa in order to truly save his family.

A companion to Now Is the Time for Running (Little, Brown, 2011), the novel is set in the dangerous diamond mines of Zimbabwe. Teens can read about the horrific camps in the South African industry. Newsela has a related informational text piece, Wars, Poverty and Greed Keep Millions Enslaved, which ranges in Lexile from 1200L to 660L, but no test is currently available. Become a fan of the author on Goodreads and stay tuned to the publisher as the release date draws nearer.

Additional Resources

Check out our award-winning LiveBinder which organizes all of the above resources. All websites are posted within the LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Simply go to JLG Booktalks to Go where you will see the LiveBinder main tabs. Each tab is a book title. Under each color-coded tab are gray subtabs with links to media, websites, and other related documents. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. 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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Tag Team: Collaborations in Books Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:28:42 +0000 Shadows feature Tag Team: Collaborations in Books

Jim Di Bartolo and Kiersten White are the authors behind the Scholastic title “In the Shadows.”

Collaboration has been in the air this past year, from authors Twig and Craig George working together to finish the Ice Whale (Penguin, 2014), the last book left behind by their late mother, Jean Craighead George, to young adult writers such as David Levithan and Andrea Cremer coming together. While the success of almost every novel represents a collaborative effort—with agents, editors, reviewers, and many others working to ensure that the book gets out there—some reflect an even greater degree of teamwork than others. For collaborative teams, such as author Lex Hrabe and novelist and painter Thomas Voorhies as well as illustrator Jim Di Bartolo—who has previously collaborated with wife Laini Taylor on the National Book Award finalist Lips Touch: Three Times (Scholastic, 2009)—and Kiersten White, author of the best-selling “Paranormalcy” trilogy (HarperCollins), who have recently worked together with awe-inspiring and creative results, working with others is paying off. These teams, who will be participating in SLJ’s SummerTeen panel July 24, shared the rewards, challenges, and secrets to working together.

With In the Shadows, which SLJ called a “dark, moody, and mysterious hybrid novella,” collaborative team, Bartolo and White, took a unique approach. Comprised of two entirely separate narratives—one wordless, consisting of images (drawn by Di Bartolo) and one prose (written by White). Involving a witch, a possible death, and many unsolved secrets, this is a haunting, intricately crafted work that should intrigue readers—and keep them coming back for a second or even third read to see how each piece of the puzzle fits together. For White, the opportunity to work with a visual artist had always interested her, and when she met Di Bartolo, an illustrator—at Comic Con several years ago, they discussed the possibility of collaboration. When Di Bartolo’s agent contacted White, the possibility became a reality, and White says, “There was much awkward, joyful kitchen dancing that day.”

Though the authors did get to work together, White says that what made collaboration so easy was that “we were both more or less in charge of our own half of the story, so we mainly talked how the two time lines would match up, timing of reveals, while having artistic freedom within our own sections. It was all fun with no butting heads!” Technology facilitated the dialogue, and the two relied primarily on Skype conversations, before switching over to email later on.

In-depth planning and outlining before getting started led to an easier process when it came down to the actual writing and drawing. “It was some tight plotting and a lot of back-and-forth on the outline to create a mystery that unfolded exactly how we wanted it to,” says White, “but all the time spent hammering it out made it so that when it was time to create everything, we had smooth sailing.”

Quarantine feature Tag Team: Collaborations in Books

Both Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies make up the author Lex Thomas of Scholastic’s “Quarantine” series.

The idea of working together came a little more organically for authors Voorhies and Hrabe, who together, under the name Lex Thomas, have written the successful, dystopic “Quarantine” series, about a high adrenaline, take-no-prisoners Mad Max–esque world in which an out-of-control virus results in the closing off of a high school.

“In our case, it was a little bit of luck,” Hrabe says. “We had friends in common, and among our friends, we particularly bonded over certain movies and books from our childhood, ones that most people didn’t feel nearly as passionately about as we did.” The two originally started writing comedic screenplays together, which taught them the basics of story craft and structure—and made them realize how enjoyable working together was: as Hrabe says, “It was fun just coming up with scenarios and jokes that cracked us up.”

The concept that would become “Quarantine” came not out of a rigid planning session but was the unintended consequence of their method for working under deadline: procrastination. “We talk about movies, life, new ideas sometimes for hours before getting down to business.” During one of those moments, Voorhies came up with the idea of a story where high school was literally dangerous, where, as Hrabe later put it “walking from your locker to class alone might be enough to get you killed.” Sitting in traffic days later, Hrabe, who loved the idea of the setting as a metaphor for how perilous high school can be, tried to come up with reasons why such a threatening environment would exist. “But why would students be abandoned by adults yet still be in school?” he asked. “Everything I came up with required too much explanation…until I thought: What if they were toxic? And they needed to be quarantined first?”

Coming up with the concept is crucial for them, after which they jointly sketch out an outline. After coming up with an idea, one writer will work on a draft, sending it to the other for revisions, talking through their thoughts on the manuscript. It’s admittedly a high-stress venture, says Voorhies. After working through a draft, “Usually our deadline is looming at this point, and we are so strapped for time that we can’t afford to disagree on an issue for very long.”

For all authors, the end result remains the same: a single, cohesive work. Says Voorhies, “I think when you’re writing with a partner, the objective is to revise the thing until it has one vision, one take on a story, and one voice to the writing, despite the fact that two people wrote it.”

SummerTeen 550px Tag Team: Collaborations in Books

Check out Matthew Quick, Gayle Foreman, and other YA authors in the upcoming July 24 SLJ SummerTeen virtual online event. Register at: (For those unable to watch and participate on July 24, the event will be in our archives.)

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How Librarians Can Help Fight the Culture of Slut-Shaming Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:38:05 +0000 uses for boys 199x300 How Librarians Can Help Fight the Culture of Slut ShamingEverything about the word “slut” changed for me when I read an online article by a woman who shared her experiences as a former slut. Ostracized at school for her sexual behavior, this woman revealed that as a teenager, she had multiple sex partners as a means to redress her sexual abuse as a child. She was attempting to write over that abuse with positive experiences—to take back control of her sexual life.

Reading her story was, for me, one of those eye-opening moments. I was reminded that whatever my—anyone’s—personal beliefs may be, we can never understand others unless we truly hear their stories. Now, I am thinking about what we can do to better understand slut-shaming in the teen community and to help to put an end to it.

Slut-shaming is the practice of branding girls who are sexually active and shaming them for their behaviors. In the 1985 cult-classic movie The Breakfast Club, Ally Sheedy’s character makes a pithy declaration about why female sexuality and the naming that goes along with it is a no-win situation. “If you don’t do it, you’re a prude. If you do, you’re a slut.” And if you earn that label, you will be shamed.

Slut-shaming and YA lit

the truth about alice 198x300 How Librarians Can Help Fight the Culture of Slut ShamingFast forward almost 30 years. Have things gotten better for young women? Not necessarily—based on any number of YA books about the topic, and my own observations. For instance, in Uses for Boys (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013) by Erica Lorraine Scheidt, protagonist Anna’s first sexual experience occurs at the age of 13 on the bus on the way to school. A boy grabs her hand and places it on his crouch, forcibly holding it there until he ejaculates. Two of his friends watch. The boys spread the story, and she is branded, alienated, and rejected for what was in fact an act of sexual abuse.

In Fault Line (S. & S., 2013) by Christa Desir, Ani is gang raped at a party. She too is labeled, and in response, becomes very sexually active. In her mind, if she can’t escape the label, she might as well fulfill it. Similarly, in The Truth About Alice (Roaring Brook, 2014) by Jennifer Mathieu, a rumor spreads that Alice slept with two boys in one night at a party. She’s instantly labeled, regardless of whether the story is true. In a uniquely interesting storytelling device by Mathieu, we don’t hear from Alice until the end of the book. Author Chelsea Pitcher’s novel The S-Word (Gallery Bks., 2013) mirrors the truth that some teenage girls have been driven to suicide by the extreme bullying aspect of slut-shaming.

13600711 192x300 How Librarians Can Help Fight the Culture of Slut ShamingMany of these scenarios also play out in real life. As adults, we need to resolutely face this issue and talk to kids about why slut-shaming can’t be tolerated. Our culture has a complicated female sexuality problem. We sexualize girls at a young age, and we objectify women in order to sell everything from hamburgers to sports cards. Yet, we stigmatize women who take control of their sexuality, especially if they adopt the same practices men are often lauded for: having multiple partners, engaging in sex outside of marriage, and embracing one’s sexuality. Multiple partners will often earn a man a pat on the back. It will earn a woman a negative label.

Mathieu points out in a post on the Teen Librarian Toolbox website that slut-shaming hurts men as well as women. “We view sexuality through restrictive gender roles,” she writes, and the flip side to slut-shaming is our equally destructive view of male sexuality. Starting young, many men are told that virility is a primary characteristic of manhood. This leaves late-bloomers in a vulnerable spot. Choosing to wait, or being slow to become interested, will lead teens to be labeled gays, geeks, or something else.

How librarians can change slut-shaming culture

fault line 198x300 How Librarians Can Help Fight the Culture of Slut ShamingLibrarians can do something good with the attention this issue is receiving in literature, blog posts, and the national news. But many of us will need to step outside of our comfort zone and talk to teens about slut-shaming.

As people who work with youth, we must continually examine our culture and engage with teens to break down these harmful stereotypes. One way to do this is through collection development. Whatever our personal bias, we must actively develop diverse collections, and seek and purchase titles with varying discussions about teenage sexuality. According to the Guttmacher Institute, now in its 50th year of researching sexual and reproductive health, the average age of first sexual experience is 17. Teens are having sex, and they need sex-positive titles that help foster healthy sexual identities and values.

A useful upcoming book about slut-shaming conundrum is Some Boys (Sourcebooks, 2014) by Patty Blount, in which protagonist Grace finds herself labelled and rejected after accusing the town golden boy of rape. Alienated and bullied, Grace contemplates ending her life. But she also speaks out, trying to raise awareness about rape and how the harmful ways that our culture views women contributed to her shaming.

some boys 200x300 How Librarians Can Help Fight the Culture of Slut ShamingBlount, along with the other authors here, raises discussion points that help us talk with teens about the dangers of slut-shaming. She also asks us to think differently about teenage sexuality, culture, and gender norms.

We librarians can help de-stigmatize female sexuality by providing sex-positive examples in our collections. For instance, in This Side of Salvation (S. & S., 2014) by Jeri-Smith Ready, we are presented with a female protagonist who is sexually experienced and confident. She has an understanding of her desires and is comfortable asking for what she wants. Her boyfriend, however, is inexperienced and wants to wait. Here, we see negative stereotypes challenged. Teens discuss sex—and then when they decide to proceed, they responsibly navigate issues such as birth control.

Creating a safe space and supportive programming initiatives

Those of us working with teens can also declare our libraries safe spaces by creating well-crafted codes of conducts and anti-harassment policies, educating our teens and staff about what they mean, and following through and enforcing them when needed. Our policies must involve discussion of factors including touching, and they should also discuss how we talk to and about one another. Make it known that behavior such as sexual harassment and slut-shaming will not be tolerated in your school or public library.

We can also use a variety of programming initiatives to help teens engage thoughtfully with these topics. If you have a book discussion group, don’t shy away from talking about books such as 13 Reasons Why (Penguin, 2007) by Jay Asher, a story in which Hannah shares the 13 reasons why she ended her life, most of them centering on an incident of slut-shaming, or any of the titles mentioned above.

You can also contact local organizations that work with youth and put together discussion panels and resource guides, as well as host educational seminars. Your local hospital may have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurse who can come and do some sessions with your staff and your community. Local rape crisis centers may also be able to assist you in providing educational programming. Organizations such as the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) or Scarletteen are also good resources for information. And the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape has a curriculum available online to teach sexual harassment prevention in schools for grades one through 12.

Let’s do our part to erase the scarlet letter of slut-shaming, for the sake of teen boys as well as girls.


karen jensen portrait 170x170 How Librarians Can Help Fight the Culture of Slut Shaming

Karen Jensen, a 2014 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, is the creator of the site Teen Librarian Toolbox and a part-time librarian at Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas. Her book, The Whole Library Handbook:Teen Services (ALA Editions, 2014) co-edited with Heather Booth, was released earlier this month.

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AASL Approves New Mission Statement of Empowerment Sun, 20 Jul 2014 17:15:22 +0000 At the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, the AASL Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve a new mission statement: The American Association of School Librarians empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.

AASL2 300x231 AASL Approves New Mission Statement of EmpowermentDuring AASL’s mission statement discussions, three key components rose to the top,” said Eileen Kern, chair of the working group. “First is that the role of the school librarian is evolving and changing. School librarians serve as the guiding light in transforming learning through new tools and technology.  Second is that the essence of school libraries is teaching and learning. This concept places school libraries at the center of any discussion dealing with education. Last is our association’s need to work with leaders, within and outside our profession, to be our voice in the transformation process.”

AASL President Terri Grief agrees, stating “ We are ‘transforming learning’ both inside our association and out.” AASL members have much to look forward to in the coming year, including a chance to present at the 2015 ALA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

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Library and Education Groups File Net Neutrality Comments with FCC Sat, 19 Jul 2014 14:00:22 +0000 The 42 page document containing comments on net neutrality filed with the Federal Communications Commission today can be accessed here.

11 organizations signed the comments including:

American Association of State Colleges and Universities American Council on Education American Library Association Association of American Universities Association of College & Research Libraries Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Association of Research Libraries Chief Officers of State Library Agencies Council of Independent Colleges EDUCAUSE Modern Language Association

Eight days ago ten of the eleven organiztions listed above published a  joint set net neutrality principles.

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Amazon Launches Kindle Unlimited Ebook Subscription Service Sat, 19 Jul 2014 13:14:45 +0000 We posted some extended comments focusing on what this and other ebook subscription services might mean for the library community the other day when news of Kindle Unlimited leaked. We’ve included some of them at the bottom of this post and added a few new thoughts.

Today, the Kindle Unlimited service was formally announced.

Fast Facts

A subscription of $9.99/month provides

Unlimited Access to 600,000 ebooks Unlimited Access to 2000 audiobooks All ebooks and all audiobooks available to all subscribers at all times (aka no waiting list)

Worth noting that many of the titles Amazon is touting are also part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). This service is available at no extra charge to Amazon Prime subscribers who own a Kindle device. Subscribers can “borrow” one book per month.

In terms of ebook content, Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) offer just about the same content.

Let’s compare some major differences:

KU is available to all. KOLL only available to Amazon Prime subscribers. KU provides access to about 2,000 audiobooks as of today. KOLL does not offer this service. KU is available on on both Kindle devices and apps. KOLL only available on Kindle device. KU has no limit on how many books you can view/read. KOLL only permits one book per month.

Additional Details and Info About Some Titles Available (From News Release)

Unlimited reading: Access over 600,000 books including best sellers like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Water for Elephants, Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, All the King’s Men, Wonder Boys, Ask for It, The Princess Bride, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, The Atlantis Gene, Kitchen Confidential, The Sisterhood, Crazy Little Thing, The Blind Side, and The Giver, plus thousands of classics such as Animal Farm, To the Lighthouse, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Cat’s Cradle, and The Good Earth, as well as books featuring beloved children’s characters from Sesame Street, and useful reference titles including books from the For Dummies series and Lonely Planet travel guides.

Unlimited listening: Keep the story going with unlimited access to more than 2,000 audiobooks from Audible with Whispersync for Voice, and switch seamlessly between reading and listening to customer favorites like the Hunger Games trilogy, Life of Pi, The Handmaid’s Tale, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, The Great Santini, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Winter’s Tale, Boardwalk Empire, El Narco, Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies, Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, The Finisher, Johnny Carson, The Stranger I Married, and Life Code.

Kindle exclusives: Choose from hundreds of thousands of books only found on Kindle, including Brilliance by Marcus Sakey, The Hangman’s Daughter series by Oliver Pötzsch, War Brides by Helen Bryan, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct and Matthew Hope books, When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath, Chasing Shadows by CJ Lyons, and Sick by Brett Battles.

Short Reads: For a quick escape, select from thousands of books that are 100 pages or less, including Kindle Singles from Stephen King, Andy Borowitz, and Nelson DeMille, and short fiction from Amazon Publishing’s StoryFront imprint.

Free three-month Audible membership: In addition to the thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible included in Kindle Unlimited, subscribers get a complimentary three-month Audible membership, with access to more than 150,000 titles.

Popular Kindle features: Enjoy all the great Kindle features customers love such as Whispersync, Popular Highlights, X-Ray, customer reviews, and Goodreads integration.

Read and listen everywhere: Access across Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps for iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and phones, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Windows 8—so you always have your library with you and never lose your place.

Comments from Gary Price

First Posted on July 16, 2014, Edited and Extended July 18th

One thing that WILL happen because of Amazon’s apparent growth in the all-you-can-read market (regardless of what they precisely plan to offer) is that there will be a greater awareness of the availability of ebook subscription services.

Are libraries ready to compete (or call it what you like) with these services not only today but also in the future? As I pointed out earlier this week, a recent AP article about Oyster and Scribd makes no mention that many public libraries offer collections of ebooks free to cardholders, new books unavailable from subscription services at least at this time. This article was published by many news organizations.

Since the leak of the Kindle Unlimited service on Wednesday coverage has been seen on MANY blogs, new sites,, tv, newspapers, etc. Very few, if any, make mention that libraries offer ebooks to cardholders. If the library community (as a whole) could only get a small percentage of this type of coverage for the services we provide (and library services are also free to the end user) things might be different in terms of the public awareness of what we offer.

Throughout the period (as ebook subscription services have come online during the past few years) I have suggested that the library community (especially the public library world) become familiar with these services and at least discuss their possible implications for libraries in terms of library usage, collection development, and budget.

I’ve also explained (or at least tried to) that whether or not these services become all the rage and move people away from the public library for content they will also play a role in public perception and relevance of the library which is still often focused on books/ebooks and being quiet by the media. In other words, Oyster and Scribd have to do a good job marketing their services to thrive and survive.

Of course, Amazon is one of the best at creating buzz about and attention for whatever they do. Sadly, and far from a new concern, is that libraries don’t do a good job of marketing, especially on a meta (national or even state) level. Yes, there are some excellent examples of libraries doing great work in marketing but again I am talking big picture.

I believe that what we are seeing today is just a portion of what will become available moving forward especially as Amazon, Oyster, and Scribd expand and services focusing on specific subjects or genres come online. In other words, these services will look different in the future in terms of the content they offer. Expect more.

My number one reason for pointing out the possibility of these services becoming mainstream over the past three years was (and remains) an attempt to make libraries proactive, aware, and get them planning for the future, versus—as we too often see—reactive, with an “oh no, the sky is falling” mindset.

Will all of the ebooks library’s have acquired at very high prices (and cannot be sold to others even for pennies on the dollar) mean little in a few years? Will we be paying later for what what we are paying for today? I don’t have any answers but I do think it deserves a discussion.

By the way, I realize that not every public library user will want to pay to or can afford to pay for a subscription service. These issues need to be part of the discussion. However, we’re seeing what was once fee-based content services offer free ad-supported services. For example, Hulu is introducing more free content this summer and the entire Spotify collection of about 13 million tracks is completely free for tablet and desktop users who don’t mind some commercials each hour.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see ad-supported ebooks become part of the landscape in the future.

Finally, I think it’s worth noting (in this case as a point of information) that Amazon has a great deal of DATA (close to three years worth) about how people borrow, read, interact, and return ebooks borrowed from a library. This is valuable information they can use to make their service very appealing to current library users.

Where do they obtain this data? The answer is simple. If you have ever borrowed (or assisted someone borrowing) a book on OverDrive and placed it on a Kindle,  you and/or your library shared the data with Amazon. My guess is this was part of the reason why OverDrive was able to work out a deal with Amazon. This massive warehouse of data can be extremely valuable to a lot of what Amazon does and it’s likely they also share some of it with publishers.

As we’ve also pointed out for privacy and transparency reasons, Amazon has a permanent record (unless the user manually removes it) of every ebook borrowed from OverDrive and placed on a Kindle device for reading. If the user makes digital notes in the book Amazon also has that data permanently in their database unless the user manually removes it.

So, when, if ever, will a discussion begin?

UPDATE:  Scribd has issued a statement about what appears to be the new Amazon ebook subscription service:

“The apparent entrance of Amazon into subscription market is exciting for the industry as a whole. It’s validation that we’ve built something great here at Scribd. Publishers, authors and readers alike have all seen the benefit, so its no surprise they’d want to test the waters. Successful companies don’t fear competition, but rather embrace it, learn from it and use it to continue to fuel their own innovation which is exactly what we intend to continue doing.”

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2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Finalists Announced Sat, 19 Jul 2014 11:08:31 +0000 The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has announced the finalists for the 2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction. Established in 2008 to honor the wishes of young adult author Amelia Elizabeth Walden, 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. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 30.

The finalists are:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott (Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks.)

The Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman (S. & S./Atheneum)

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks.)

Winger by Andrew Smith (S. & S.)

winger 195x300 2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Finalists Announced openlystraight 197x300 2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Finalists Announced milkofbirds 198x300 2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Finalists Announced jumpedin 201x300 2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Finalists Announced eleanorandpark 199x300 2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Finalists Announced

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