School Library Journal The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Sat, 30 Aug 2014 04:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Teens Review ‘Mary’, ‘Of Monsters and Madness’, and More Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:43:45 +0000 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.]]> Is creepy back in vogue? All of the featured titles have an eerie element: the ghost of Bloody Mary, an addicted teen set on revenge, and a riff on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And the covers are all knock-outs.

MaryTheSummoning Teens Review Mary, Of Monsters and Madness, and MoreMonahan, Hillary. Mary: The Summoning. (Bloody Mary: Bk. 1). Disney/Hyperion. Sept. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781423185192.

Gr 7 Up—Jess, Kitty, Anna, and Shauna attempt to summon the ghost of Bloody Mary when things don’t go quite as planned. Salt becomes their best friend when trying to fend off the attacking spirit, bloodthirsty and having no mercy.

This book was fantastic! There were twists in the plot my mind never thought of. I’ve never seen a take on Bloody Mary quite like this. Monahan does a really good job of letting you get a little too attached to the good characters and very cross with the bad characters.

I never saw the ending coming! I really expected Shauna to sacrifice herself or for Kitty to get taken and the book be left at a cliff-hanger. Monahan made me really want Jess to get hurt, and that’s what makes a good writer, a good writer.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys a good scare every now and then, as well as fans of Katie Alender’s “Bad Girls Don’t Die” series (Disney-Hyperion) or Paranormal Activity.—Kim, age 14

bodies we wear Teens Review Mary, Of Monsters and Madness, and MoreRoberts, Jeyn. The Bodies We Wear. Knopf. Sept. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780385754125.

Gr 9 Up—When Faye was just 11 years old, a group of men destroyed her life with a powerful drug called Heam, and she has been out for revenge ever since. However, as new people appear in her life and her careful plans begin to dissolve, Faye is forced to reconsider what she really wants.

I absolutely tore through this book, and I’m not entirely sure why. The main plot of revenge wasn’t terribly attention-grabbing for me. I never gained interest in whether Faye would be able to “overcome her desires.” In addition, I felt that some of the plot and character development was far too rushed. A lot of important events could have been given more time.

At the end, Faye killed a man and lost all thirst for what she had been chasing for years. The petition inexplicably worked—didn’t Gazer (her adoptive father) say that they signed papers that prevented it from doing so? Faye’s mom accepted her again, seemingly for no reason at all. Rufus just died. Faye suddenly realized a lot of things that should have taken her longer to understand, especially given her past. In short, the ending was too happy to fit the novel. This sounds demented, but I would have liked to see Faye struggle.

I think it was the little things that kept me reading her story. Faye was a beautiful character, both relatable and likable. Arnold Bozer provided an interesting subplot. The premise of Heam was what first caught my attention and is definitely one of the most intriguing elements of the book.

The Bodies We Wear had just enough to keep me hooked, but I left wanting a little bit more. The most compelling aspects of the book were Heam and Paige. The description of the drug Heam and the fates of its users laid the groundwork for the book, and I enjoyed reading about something from a world entirely different from my own. As for Faye, it was nice to see a fighter.—Lucy L., age 15

bamboo rat Teens Review Mary, Of Monsters and Madness, and More

Salisbury, Graham. Hunt For the Bamboo Rat. (Prisoners of the Empire: Bk. 4). Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Sept. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780375842665.                           

Gr 7 Up—Zenji is a Japanese American teen who is hired by the military to be a spy in the Philippines during WW2. He is captured during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, and this is his story.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat and wanting more and more. The suspense and action that this book creates totally amazed and fascinated me. I can’t imagine this book being any better than it already is.

People who like historical fiction books will love this book. If you enjoy reading about POWs, fighting, and spying, this is also a great book.—Saketh D., age 13

monsters and madness Teens Review Mary, Of Monsters and Madness, and MoreVerday, Jessica. Of Monsters and Madness. Egmont USA. Sept. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781606844632.

Gr 7 Up—Annabel Lee has been summoned to Philadelphia by her father from her home in Asia. Unaccustomed to the rich life, Annabel makes friends with her maid Maddie. She soon starts to hear about murders and the dangers of going out at night. She falls in love with her father’s assistant Allan Poe; at night, she finds his cousin Edgar, another assistant who seems to know too much about the murders.

I thought the book was good, because it had notable characters like Edgar Allan Poe, and had a good sense of historical fiction. I liked the change from Edgar to Allan; it was a cool idea and gets you thinking about what happens when he drinks the serum. I think fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix would enjoy this book, as well as fans of R. L. Stine.—Prid C., age 13

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UK Laureate Malorie Blackman will not Be Silenced Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:37:11 +0000 MalorieBlackman UK Laureate Malorie Blackman will not Be Silenced

Children’s author Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman, the United Kingdom’s first black children’s laureate (2013-2015), recently found herself the focus of a racial firestorm following an interview she gave to UK Sky News. The headline of the original online article, published August 24, read “Children’s Books ‘Have Too Many White Faces.‘”

Following the article, Blackman found herself facing a “wave of racist attacks both on Sky’s website [in the comments section] and directed personally at [her] on Twitter,” she shared in the Guardian.

Additionally, she says the words from the Sky News headline “never passed her lips.” After complaining to Sky News, the article’s headline was changed to “Call For More Ethnic Diversity In Kids’ Books.”

The author, who was recognized with a prestigious Order of the British Empire for her services to children’s literature, has published over 50 books, among them is the award-winning “Noughts and Crosses” series, in which the dark-skinned Crosses rule the white-skinned Noughts. The first title in the series was originally published in the U. S. by Simon & Schuster in 2005 under the original title and then later reissued as Black & White (2007).

In an August 25 tweet, Blackman wrote that she was taking a temporary break from Twitter following the racist vitriol that following the Sky News article, but Blackman was soon back on the social media site the next day to acknowledge the outpouring of support from her readers and fellow writers, such as Carnegie medal-winner Patrick Ness of the “Chaos Walking” trilogy (Walker) and Chocolat author Joanne Harris (Penguin, 200).

On Twitter, Blackman shared that she has taken a short break to author an article published in the Guardian on August 27, where she told her side of the story, starting from the Sky News fallout. In her piece, she used the opportunity to emphasize her earlier message: there continues to be a need for more diversity in children’s literature.

“…for those children’s publishers who may feel more diversity in the books they publish is no longer needed in the 21st century, I invite them to read the comments under the Sky interview. They reinforce rather than detract from my arguments,” she writes in the Guardian. “Change is a fact of life. We move forward or we stagnate. My hope is that the UK publishing industry as a whole will embrace that fact.”

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Playing With the Narrative | SLJ Spotlight Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:00:41 +0000 SLJ1408 Spotlight 9up Narrative 300x211 Playing With the Narrative | SLJ SpotlightFiction for teens continues to evolve, and authors are pushing the boundaries of the genre in creative ways. Whether it’s a heavily illustrated volume or a multi-perspective narrative, YA books have taken lives of their own, especially evident in these novels in verse, poetic prose picks, and diary-format entries.

Aronson, Marc & Charles R. Smith Jr., eds. One Death, Nine Stories. 160p. Candlewick. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763652852; ebk. ISBN 9780763670832. LC 2013957275.

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

Hall, Sandy. A Little Something Different. 224p. ebook available. Feiwel and Friends/Swoon Reads. Aug. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781250061454.

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

Hopkins, Ellen. Rumble. 560p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Aug. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781442482845; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442482869.

Gr 9 Up –Matt’s gay brother Luke committed suicide because he couldn’t take the bullying any more. Matt blames everyone for his brother’s death: his friends, his dysfunctional parents, and the middle school teachers and counselors who did nothing to halt the torment Luke experienced daily. The protagonist’s temper is perpetually balanced on a knife’s edge, and it takes very little to push him into a rage. Matt’s only peace comes when he is with his girlfriend, Hayden. However, she seems to be pulling away to spend more time with God and her youth group, many members of whom were Luke’s worst bullies. Matt has no faith in an imaginary deity and no forgiveness for those who used their theology to justify their abuse of his brother. His hatred is eating him up inside, but he can’t let it go or he’ll have to confront the real reason for his anger. Hopkins’s latest novel in verse is timely and poignant. Matt is a wonderfully faceted character that readers will alternately sympathize with and dislike. His actions are directly related to his emotional turmoil, and teens will understand his pain and admire his intellect, even while shaking their heads over his actions. The work doesn’t gloss over uncomfortable or difficult topics. Hopkins’s realistic, truthful approach to bullying, religion, and homosexuality make this a powerful story for even the most reluctant readers.–Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL

Magoon, Kekla. How It Went Down. 336p. ebook available. Holt. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805098693.

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

Pattou, Edith. Ghosting. 392p. Amazon/Skyscape. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781477847749; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781477897744.

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

Qitsualik-Tinsley, Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley. Skraelings. illus. by Andrew Trabbold. 89p. (Arctic Moon Magick: Bk. 1). Inhabit Media. Oct. 2014. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781927095546.

Gr 7 Up –Kannujaq’s life revolves with the seasons, moving with his dog sled to follow the hunts that make life sustainable for the Inuit people. This nomadic lifestyle contrasts sharply with the villages of the Tuniit, who stay in one place in homes that cannot be moved. When Kannujaq comes upon a Tuniit village under siege by giant-men in enormous boats, he becomes drawn into their dispute and it changes his world forever. The authors, both scholars of Inuit language, history, and cosmology, have selected a singularly important and interesting time for Skraelings: the sunset of the ancient Dorset (Tuniit) culture and the dawn of contact and colonization for the Inuit. Told by a conversational third-person narrator, this novella captures the fear and wonder of the age. Heavy graphic illustrations further reinforce the gravity of the tale and an Inukittut pronunciation guide is included. Skraelings is a well-written, engaging introduction to the complex history of the peoples of the Arctic and their struggles for survival against the environment and each other.–Sara Saxton, Wasilla Public Library, Wasilla, AK

RedReviewStar Playing With the Narrative | SLJ SpotlightQuintero, Isabel. Gabi: A Girl in Pieces. 378p. Cinco Puntos. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781935955948; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955955; ebk. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955962. LC 2014007658.

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

RedReviewStar Playing With the Narrative | SLJ SpotlightWalrath, Dana. Like Water on Stone. 368p. further reading. glossary. maps. Delacorte. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385743976; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375991424; ebk. ISBN 9780385373296. LC 2013026323.

Gr 8 Up –Thirteen-year-old Aremenian twins Shahen and his sister, Sosi, live in the 1914 Ottoman Empire with their loving parents; younger sister, Miriam; and older brothers Misak and Kevorg. A Christian like the rest of their family, their 19-year-old sister, Anahid, is married to Asan, a Kurd, and is expecting a baby. Life is pleasant in their mixed religious community where their family makes its living as millers. However, when the cruel and hateful leaders of the Ottoman Empire decide at the start of World War I that the Armenians are “traitors” and should be eliminated, genocide ensues. Anahid is hidden by her in-laws at the risk of their own lives. Forced to leave their parents and brothers behind to certain death, Shahen, Sosi, and little Miriam barely escape and make a harrowing journey across the mountains, hoping for rescue and to somehow reach their uncle who lives in America. As Ardziv, an eagle, soars above, he adds a note of magical realism and a sense of omnipresent poetic narration to the authentic voices of the family members as he witnesses their joys, shock, and heartbreak. This beautiful, yet at times brutally vivid, historical verse novel will bring this horrifying, tragic period to life for astute, mature readers who enjoy books in this format or genre such as The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle (Holt, 2008) and Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys (Philomel, 2011). A cast of characters, and author note with historical background are thoughtfully included.–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

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Arapahoe High School Unveils New Library and Park Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:09:59 +0000 Araphoe ClarityCommons reszie 300x225 Arapahoe High School Unveils New Library and Park

The front desk area of Arapahoe H.S. library currently in the process of renovation following the Dec. 2013 school shooting. Photo courtesy of Arapahoe High School.

Students of Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado, returned to school August 15 to a newly renovated library and outdoor space, Clarity Commons Park, reported the Denver Post. Both spaces provide a chance for students and the community to heal following the tragic shooting that occurred at the school last December.

On December 13, 2013, a student, 18-year-old Karl Pierson, brought a gun to school after a disagreement with a teacher and shot 17-year-old student Claire Davis. After police pursuit, Pierson was found in the school library, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. Claire passed away eight days later at Littleton Adventist Hospital.

During the week that the Davis family held vigil by Claire’s side, the family bonded with hospital staff, including Jason Dunkel, the hospital’s director of business development. Following the girl’s death, Dunkel and the family came together, wanting to honor Claire’s memory and help her friends to move on from the tragedy. The idea of an outdoor garden space came about and, according to Dunkel, the Littleton Public Schools (LPS) district felt the space would be a positive step for students and donated almost an acre of land on Arapahoe’s campus for the project. Dunkel tapped into his fundraising resources at Adventist Hospital, involving staff, board members, the hospital’s own foundation, and the surrounding community.

In just five months, Dunkel estimates Clarity Commons Park, named after Claire, raised $125,000 in cash donations and nearly $300,000 of in-kind contributions of material and time, which were used to build paved brick walkways, erect walls with garden seating, as well as granite pillars inscribed with inspirational sayings.

On August 16, which would have been Claire’s 18th birthday, an unveiling of an inspirational pillar took place at the park with Arapahoe principal Natalie Pramenko and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper present—and members of Claire’s family, according to a CBS local news station. Ultimately, the intention for the space is to be a fun, relaxed environment for the students—and the school will use it as an outdoor classroom as well.

While the school’s library is open to students, it is still in the process of renovation. For the library’s design and building process, school administrators gathered one student from each grade to form a team to help redesign the library. Addison Callahan, 18, who graduated last spring, tells the Denver Post that the new library “was the last piece we really needed for students to get back to normal.” Callahan says the library will boast a technology help desk run by the school computer club, power outlets throughout the space (instead of a single computer lab), and three large study rooms to emphasize the collaborative nature of the school and space.

Nicole Seavall, another student on the design team, noted to the Littleton Independent that the library is “a place for students to be the Arapahoe Warriors and still be together in this one space.” Seavall handled much of the interior design details of the library, like a memory book signed by all students to be placed in a time capsule, comfortable furniture, a café space, and a large compass to be placed above the central room. Seavall says the compass will be a reminder for students to “keep moving forward and find your direction of learning.” There will be plenty of bookshelves in addition to an e-library, but the shelves will be lower profile along with larger windows so the space feels open and light.

The new library, once completed, will cost an estimated $1.1–$1.35 million and will be roughly double the size of the original facility. Donations from construction and engineering firms—and furniture companies—helped reduce the expense. Littleton Public Schools have established the Arapahoe High School Moving Forward Fund to further assist the project. Approximately $800,000 is still required for the project. Any monies raised will go towards the library remodel, book replacement, and facility repairs.

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‘Tactile Picture Books’ Creates 3-D Print Titles for Blind Children Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:05:41 +0000 From New Scientist:

A new project is printing Braille picture books for visually impaired children. Each page turns the pictures from the original book into raised 3D shapes alongside traditional Braille text.

“The advantage of 3D-printing is really about making one-of-a-kind objects,’ says Tom Yeh, who heads up the Tactile Picture Books Project at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Later this year, Yeh’s group will work with the National Braille Press in Boston to offer children a copy of Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin that has a page customised with the child’s name in Braille.

Direct to Full Text Article

Direct to Tactile Books Project Web Site

See Also: Take a Look at a Few 3D-Printed Books

See Also: Conference Poster/Abstract by Members of the Tactile Books Project Team: “Tactile Picture Books for Young Children with Visual Impairment” (6 pages; PDF)

Full citation and other materials here.

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Teen Book Buzz Fall 2014 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:33:49 +0000 Register Now!]]> SLJ2014FallTeenBookBuzz Header 550px Teen Book Buzz Fall 2014

Presented by: Harlequin Teen, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Llewellyn, and Egmont & School Library Journal

Event Date & Time: Thursday, September 18th, 2014, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET / 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PT
register button Teen Book Buzz Fall 2014
From family strife during the Vietnam era to an alternative Victorian London, our sponsors will be featuring new and forthcoming releases that are sure to appeal to your tween and teen readers. Get ahead of the curve and discover the latest and greatest hot reads during SLJ’s Fall 2014 Teen Book Buzz! Join representatives from Harlequin Teen, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Llewellyn, and Egmont as they tell us about books that will have every teen chatting at their lockers. You do not want to miss this exciting webcast!
Michelle F. Bayuk, Associate Sales and Marketing Director, Egmont USA
Lisa DiSarro, Director of School & Library Marketing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Natashya Wilson, Executive Editor, Harlequin TEEN
Dodie Ownes – Editor, SLJTeen

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Sponsored Content: News Flash from Griffin Teen: Amanda Hocking is Back Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:12:26 +0000 Amanda Hocking made headlines when her self-published Trylle trilogy sold millions of e-copies. And when St. Martin’s Press re-released the trilogy in print, it spent a combined total of 23 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, reaching as high as #2.

NOTE: This content was sponsored and contributed by Macmillan.

frostfire 198x300 Sponsored Content: News Flash from Griffin Teen: Amanda Hocking is BackIn Frostfire, the first book in Hocking’s magical new YA series, readers meet Bryn Aven—an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes. Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who’s determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royalty. She’s not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden. But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin—a fallen hero who she once loved—appears to be up to something dangerous, kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

For more information about our teen titles, download the 2014 Books for Teens poster now or request a copy by e-mailing your full name, title & mailing address to

If you’re a librarian in the United States, please request your complimentary advance reader’s copy by e-mailing (Please include “FROSTFIRE” in your subject line.)


**If you’re a librarian in the United States and interested in being pre-approved to download our e-galleys, please follow these steps:

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Whitelisting is only available to librarians currently employed in the U.S.


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Throwback Thursday: A Sendak Photobomb Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:00:44 +0000 From the vaults of School Library Journal, we bring you this image…

Sendak to post Throwback Thursday: A Sendak Photobomb

We were there when Maurice Sendak received the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are. That’s an SLJ staffer on hand to “make a wild thing out of Mr. Sendak” as he spoke to New York Times book review editor George Woods.

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Portrait of an Author: SLJ Chats with Jandy Nelson About ‘I’ll Give You the Sun’ Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:05:14 +0000 I'll Give You the Sun is told not only in alternating narratives but also in alternating time lines. SLJ caught up with the author to talk about her unique writing process, love of magical realism, and casting wishlist for the optioned film version.]]> Jandy Nelson photo credit Sonya Sones Portrait of an Author: SLJ Chats with Jandy Nelson About Ill Give You the Sun

photo by Sonya Sones

Already optioned for film, former literary agent Jandy Nelson’s sophomore effort, I’ll Give You the Sun (Dial, 2014), is making waves in young adult literature world. Her portrayal of artist fraternal twins Jude and Noah is told not only in alternating narratives but also in alternating time lines. SLJ caught up with the author to talk about her unique writing process for this book, love of magical realism, and casting wishlist for the optioned film.

I’ll Give You the Sun is told from the perspectives of Noah and Jude, who are artistic fraternal twins. It’s hard enough to get the voice just right in a novel with one point of view. How did you accomplish that with two narrators and two different time lines?
For me, that was one of the biggest challenges in writing this book. I really wanted to make sure that their voices and their emotional and psychological lives were distinct. I realized fairly early on that in order to do that, I would have to write their stories separately. I wrote Noah’s story from start to finish. And then Jude’s story from start to finish. While I was writing one side, I sometimes wanted to cheat, so I had to lock the file of one twin while I worked on the other twin’s file. I really wanted to stay in the world and time frame of the character. That’s one of the reasons the book took so long to write, because in some ways, it was three novels. My vision had always been to have the two stories be a braid and have the time periods and narratives intertwine.

Your debut novel, The Sky is Everywhere (Dial, 2010), focused on the power of poetry to help a person overcome grief. Your latest focuses on the power of art to unite people. What inspired you to write this tale about artists?
I love visual art. I’m really crazy about it. That was definitely the inspiration for the focus—my passion for it. I do believe in the power of art to help people heal and unite. It can really change the world. For me, the characters just showed up fully formed, name included. And these protagonists all had complicated relationships with art. While I was writing, I felt like Art was another character in the novel. I love writing love stories, and not only stories about romantic and familial love. In a way, this is a love story between each character and Art.

Do you base the sibling relationships in your work on your own experiences growing up?
I grew up with brothers and I’m really close with them. I definitely draw on my relationship with them and our really profound love, interconnectedness, and camaraderie. I’m the youngest in my family and the only girl. And the closest brother to me in age is five years older. And I feel that because we are such different people with distinct interests and passions, we’ve been able to have much more sibling harmony rather than sibling rivalry in our lives. For many of the characters that I write about, that is not the case. Their family situation and sibling dynamic lean much more toward competition than in my family.

I just love writing about siblings and families because they are mini-civilizations without the parents. It’s such rich fodder—loaded, layered, and intricate. No one fully gets you like a sibling or can really get to you like a sibling.

As a twin myself, I was fascinated with your portrayal of the protagonists. Especially poignant is the pair’s sometimes-cruelty toward each other. However, they also share such a bond of interconnectedness. Do you think this type of connection is unique to twin-hood?
It’s probable that the incredible interconnectedness and even rivalry exists among all siblings. Specifically in this novel, Jude and Noah have very jealous natures. Grandma Sweetwine says to them at one point, “’You have enough jealousy in your palms to ruin your lives 10 times over.’” Noah also believes that they have rattlesnakes in their bellies. These particular twins have that [jealousy] in their natures. The clincher here is that their mother is a dynamic, charismatic woman who is also very withholding in a way and little bit distracted, and I think all of that together created this perfect storm for their relationship to go awry.

There are threads of magical realism in this novel: Jude’s book of superstitions and her belief that that she’s communicating with her grandmother’s ghost. How did you decide to add this extra layer in Sun?
Jude came to me as a superstitious 16-year-old girl, so I don’t even think I decided that for her.  But I felt that she was this girl whose world had gone completely out of her control and this was her way to exert some control, however illogical it might seem to other people. This also came about quite naturally because I’m insanely superstitious. And my whole family is, too. Like Jude, I had a grandmother who was superstitious. So within our family, we have members who walk around with charms in our pockets and we’re always searching  for four-leaf clovers.

As far as her grandmother’s ghost, that surprised me as well. Grandma Sweetwine just wouldn’t shut up until finally, I received a huge revelation. Of course Jude is talking to her dead grandmother! She was the one person who made Jude feel safe and hopeful. I remember when it happened because I made a new file for the book and labeled it “Holy Crap.”

ill give you the sun small Portrait of an Author: SLJ Chats with Jandy Nelson About Ill Give You the Sun

Once that revelation came to you, did you refer to any other magical realism writers?
I grew up reading authors of magical realism. Gabriel García Marquéz is a god to me. I love the genre; there are elements of it even in Sky. I’m very interested in walking the line between realism and magical realism. I feel like it’s a good interpretation of life. Real life is full of magic.

Noah struggles with accepting his sexuality, and Jude goes back and forth between trying to be “that girl” that her mother warns her about and attempting to hide the markers of her sexuality. Why do you think it’s so important to include this aspect of teen identity in YA lit?
I think for teens, navigating sexuality and the way it relates to identity can be confusing and challenging. So for me, exploring it becomes a natural part of coming-of-age stories, especially in the books that I write. To date, I’ve been writing love stories, and I think that the confusions, joys, and complications of love come to the forefront. The teens in my novels tend to have these raging hormones combined with a big, hopeful wanting to fall in love. Whether they’re gay, straight, male, female, they’re all trying to figure out how to be a sexual person in the world. It’s confusing for everybody, adults and teens alike, in its catastrophic mess and sublime joy. I’m interested in exploring it.

I feel like one of the metaphors that took me through writing the book was Michelangelo’s idea that the statue was in the marble and he just had to carve until he found it. In terms of all the characters in the later time frame story, they’re kind of trapped in a stone prison—a lot of it having to do with their identity. If they could just break out of all the societal and familial expectations, they could find a way to be true to themselves and their hearts. And this involves their sexuality in most cases—and them trying to find a way to break out of the prisons they’ve concocted for themselves.

Noah imagines painting portraits in his head whenever he’s experiencing a strong emotion. What kind of portrait is he most likely creating in his mind at the novel’s close?
That was my favorite part about writing this story. I just loved creating those paintings; it was a total joy for me. There’s one part of the novel where Noah says, “this is the painting, painting itself.” I feel like at the end of the novel, the painting would be every color in the universe exploding onto a canvas at once.

Paranormal romance and dystopian genres are waning these days. Do you think there’s a resurgence of the realistic fiction genre?
I absolutely think there is. There’s a real renaissance of realistic fiction going, and it’s expanding to include works that aren’t solely realistic. There are some clear successes such as Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and Gayle Forman’s books. I think publishing is incredibly cyclical. Who knows what’s around the corner? After a time people want something else—with so much dystopian, people have a hunger to see their physical world represented. I’m excited to see what’s around the corner.

Congrats on I’ll Give You the Sun being optioned for film. Any news on that front? If you had the ability to do it, who would you cast as the main protagonists?
No news yet, because it was so recent. It was one of the most  exciting days of my life. Right now, they’re looking for writers and directors, but [there's] no talk about cast yet. I’m hoping they go for young unknowns. I will say that I hope Javier Bardem will play Guillermo. So fingers crossed.

Can you tell us a little bit about the research that you did for the book?
I took a stone carving class with Barry Baldwin, and that was fascinating. I’m awful by the way. But I’m glad that I did, because I had this idea that sculpting was very Michelangelo-esque: tap, tap, tap. It’s completely different. You’re working outside, and you have these badass tools and drills. It was so interesting to hear the professor talk about the stone as if they were lovers.

sky is everywhere Portrait of an Author: SLJ Chats with Jandy Nelson About Ill Give You the Sun

Reprint edition of Nelson’s first book, The Sky Is Everywhere.

How was the writing process for this title different from how you wrote Sky?
I don’t know how it started, but by the end, I was writing in a room with the only light coming from the computer screen, earplugs in, and a sound machine blasting. It became this portal into the story. It was the best writing experience of my life. I felt so deeply immersed in the world of the story and so intimate with the characters. I wonder if part of it was the dark chamber aspect. It completely blocked out my world in a way that I’ve never done before.

Do you think you’ll try that for the next book?
I think I will. I’m sort of addicted to it now. Every book sends you on a different journey. The new book is also about siblings. The working title is Fall Boys and Dizzy in Paradise. It’s about two brothers, a sister, and their father, who mysteriously disappeared 16 years earlier. The story takes off when a very enigmatic girl shows up and throws a bomb into their lives. It takes place in a Northern California dusty town.

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Two Second Graders Pitch to Restore School Library on Indiegogo Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:36:18 +0000 Indiegogogirls Two Second Graders Pitch to Restore School Library on Indiegogo

Josephine Sinclair ( left) and Sarai Williams (right) at Willow Creek School Library. Photos courtesy of Willow Creek Academy.

Social media’s waters are teeming with requests for money. But few have cherubic second graders Josephine Sinclair and Sarai Williams, both age seven, leading their crowdfunding campaign—while arguing whether unicorns are fiction or nonfiction. The fundraising effort “Dr. Seuss Wants You!” went live August 7 on the crowdfunding website with the two girls aiming to raise funds to restore the school library at Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito, California.

With Josephine’s mom, Kate Stohr, a co-founder of Architecture for Humanity who is experienced at fundraising herself, and Sarai’s mother, Shanti Williams, a library assistant at the San Francisco Public Library’s Richmond Branch, the girls had some solid muscle behind them.

Crowdsourcing on Indiegogo wasn’t their first attempt at raising funds. Initially, the girls launched a lemonade stand—pricing their concoction at $108 a glass, according to their Indiegogo video. Not making much of a dent toward the money they needed for books, furniture, computers—and even a school librarian—the two headed to cyberspace to try their luck there as one of the girls, Josephine, is an avid YouTuber, says Stohr.

“We thought we would make money if we made a video,” says Josephine. “We kind of thought it would be fun.”

Fun is what the two are clearly having in two videos that are live on their Indiegogo page. In the video, the two are shown shelving books and challenging their tiny peers to read a book to parents—if mom and dad pledge $5 to the project.

Willow Creek Academy, a 13-year-old charter school, lost its school library in 2013 when the school, which shared the location, merged with another school, says Susan Newmeyer, president of The Willow Creek Foundation. Parents volunteered to help, donating books, rigging an Apple computer to check out titles, and kitting the two-story space with some furniture so the 350 K-8 students could come for tutoring and occasional reading.

Indiegogogirls moms Two Second Graders Pitch to Restore School Library on Indiegogo

Sarai and her mother, Shanti Williams, (left) and Josephine and her mother, Kate Stohr (right).

The Sausalito Public Library is just a mile away and is staffed with a “wonderful librarian,” Erin Wilson, says Newmeyer. However, she also explains that typically both the parents of many Willow Creek’s students work, so taking their kids to the library in the afternoon is not possible for all.

“Parents don’t have time to take kids after-school to the library,” she says. “That’s why it’s important to create a culture and appreciation for literacy at the school.”

A goal of $20,000 is set for phase one of the fundraiser—the funds will go toward grade-specific materials, more computers, and the part-time salary of a school librarian, 10 hours a week.

“But we’d like [the librarian] every day,” says Royce Connor, now in his second year as head of the school, who’d learned about the campaign after the girls’ parents had already started the process.

To date, the campaign has raised north of $4,800, about 24 percent of their goal—and approximately 11 percent of the $54,000 the school believes they’ll need to completely restore the school library. Tons of “perks” (services or goods backers receive in exchange for donating) remain unclaimed online—from a personal thank you video ($25) to even a video chat from Josephine and Sarai as they read a favorite bedtime story ($1,000).

With the fundraiser live until October 6, the girls have a few more surprises they plan to launch, including books donated from author Isabel Allende. The girls have another video to unveil and have already absorbed one educational lesson from the time they’ve invested in helping their school library.

“About the unicorn,” says Sarai, “I think we both think it’s not real.”

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Librarians React to ‘Amelia Bedelia’ Hoax Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:10:56 +0000 Amelia Bedelia author Peggy Parish, it was a “teachable moment” according to one librarian. ]]> AmeliaBedelia Librarians React to Amelia Bedelia Hoax

‘Amelia Bedelia’ by Peggy Parish.

Last month, New York-based writer and editor EJ Dickson confessed in a July 29 article on the Daily Dot that, five years ago, as a sophomore in college, she had edited Wikipedia articles with false information—including the page for Peggy Parish, the author of the “Amelia Bedelia” book series. As a joke, both Dickson and a friend submitted that the character was inspired by a maid Parish had met in Cameroon who was known for her many feathered hats, a fabricated story.  The falsehood was never taken off the site and has since been quoted as fact in numerous publications, including Iowa’s Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, much to Dickson’s surprise.

While Dickson’s admission cleared her conscience, it also called into question what is considered a credible source and started a larger discussion about the value of information and the importance of evaluating information sources.

“It’s the kind of fact that’s not going to hurt anybody, but it’s muddying the water as far as the real truth goes,” said Shayne Russell, a librarian at Kenneth R. Olson Middle School in Tabernackle, New Jersey.  “I just think [Dickson’s prank] falls into the category of [ir]responsible online citizenship. It’s not doing a lot of damage, but it’s irresponsible. None of us… want to see kids getting involved in this.” While Russell, who has been a middle school librarian for two decades, isn’t thrilled about misinformation being propagated, she doesn’t want to demonize Wikipedia entirely. “Social media is here to stay. Middle school kids need to know how to deal with it,” she said. “I want kids to learn how to be a member of a community that adds value to the community.”

She points out that false facts were disseminated long before the Internet, saying, “Kids would find a mistake in the Encyclopedia Britannica. We’ve always had information that wasn’t right that got published in more than one place. It’s just more noticeable on Wikipedia, I guess.”

At North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey, school librarian Martha Hickson is using the hoax as a lesson plan. “My thought as a librarian, desperately trying to teach high school students to ascribe value to information and information sources, is that it’s a fantastic teachable moment,” she said. Besides mentioning Dickson’s prank, Hickson talks about the oft-repeated myth that Ian Gutgold invented the hair straightener—a false fact that still crops up in Google searches. Still, perhaps the greatest example to drive home her point is given by the students. “I ask them if they have ever edited a Wikipedia entry,” she said, “and four or five [students] will raise their hands.”

Deb Logan, the media specialist at the Mount Gilead Middle School / High School in Mount Gilead, Ohio, has a similar approach. “I look for examples about why my kids need to question sources, and here’s one I’ll add to my file,” she said. Also in the file is the false accusation that John Seigenthaler, a pallbearer at Robert Kennedy’s funeral, was involved in his assassination. Moreover, Logan uses the song “Summer Nights” from Grease as an example of how the truth can be adjusted depending on who’s telling it.

“I want kids to question sources, not just Wikipedia. I want them to look at websites and say, ‘Who is the author?’  Look at who links to the site. The fact that a reputable source links to them would lend some credibility.”

Hickson agrees. “The fundamental principal of librarianship is to match the information source for the information need,” she said. “It’s my responsibility as a consumer to go to the very best sources for the information I need. Buyer beware.”

Logan and Hickson both state that educating students on placing value on information sources is imperative. Logan uses a worksheet that students fill out as they start using the Internet to get them used to looking for certain attributes, like authorship and the URL ending. Hickson has similar lesson plans.

“Among the skills I teach my students are skills associated with Web evaluation,” she said. “First and foremost, look for statement of authorship and credentials. Make sure the credentials match the subject matter. Look at the [currentness] of [the] content, and look at the qualities of the site in general, like spelling and grammar errors.  We introduce this to them as freshman, and they find it very arduous.”

Even harder than discerning a reputable site from a discredited one is stopping the rapid dissemination of false information. “Whatever it is that you’re doing, even if you’re just fooling around, your actions have consequences,” Russell said. “Even if you don’t know it until five years later.”

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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Supporting Common Core Standards with Audiobooks| Listen In Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:00:56 +0000 SLJ1408w FT ListenIn Supporting Common Core Standards with Audiobooks| Listen In

Key Ideas and Details

Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure

Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

The academic-year cycle is upon us again and teachers and librarians are searching for fresh ideas to engage students. Although the discussion of efficacy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—with its focus on informational texts—continues, the framework provides a national springboard for guiding instruction.

The section “Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction,” states that “students must be immersed in information about the world around them if they are to develop the strong general knowledge and vocabulary they need to become successful readers and be prepared for college, career, and life. Informational texts play an important part in building students’ content knowledge.”

More and more nonfiction titles are becoming widely available as audiobooks, many with the same exceptional narration and attention to production detail that we have come to expect from fiction titles. We found that the following standards, from the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading, were well supported by the following selected audiobooks.

From urban farming and bird migration to World War II history and providing medical care to the poor, these audiobooks offer learning extensions across many grade levels for research, class discussion, and group projects.

Elementary School

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table. 1 CD with tr book. 17:52 min. Live Oak Media. 2014. $29.95. ISBN 9781430117421.

PreK-Gr 3 –This true story of Will Allen, a former professional football player turned dedicated urban farmer, is an excellent companion to Wendell Minor’s My Farm Friends (below). Peter Jay Fernandez narrates with a deep, expressive baritone and deliberate pacing, giving time for listeners to “read” Eric-Shabazz Larkin’s lively illustrations, and delight in the carefully selected soundscape and finely tuned production details. The story of his teaching lab, Growing Power Farm in Wisconsin, will motivate listeners to grow their own vegetables and herbs. The afterword, read by Will Allen, gives three important hints to urban farming (start a worm factory!), and the Growing Power website ( is an essential follow-up for students.

Minor, Wendell. My Farm Friends. 1 CD with tr book. 8:24 min. Live Oak Media. 2012. $29.95. ISBN 9781430110965.

PreK-Gr 3 –Tom Bodett introduces many familiar farm animals with his slight drawl and laconic tone, highlighting the rhyming text and unusual facts. Background sound effects reinforce the information as young listeners learn that pigs don’t sweat, cows drink lots of water to produce milk, and other information conveyed by Minor’s simple words. Adequate time between page turns allows students to see that horses sleep standing up and chickens always have red combs. A list of “My Farm Friends Fun Facts,” read at the end of the book, adds more details, such as the fact that one pound of wool can make seven miles of yarn! This is a fine addition to curriculum units on farm animals.

Sweet, Melissa. Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. 1 CD with tr book. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2012. $37.75. ISBN 9781470335052.

K-Gr 3 –The story of puppeteer Tony Sarg, designer of the world-famous high-flying balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, is expressively performed by John McDonough. This read-along for young listeners combines a beautifully illustrated book with a narrator whose pacing enhances the experience by allowing time to look at Sweet’s charming pictures. Teachers will want to use the author’s note to set the context of “performing on Broadway,” and definitely will refer to Sweet’s discussion guide (, which includes activities and alignments to Common Core State Standards.

Middle School

Hoose, Phillip. Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95. 3 CDs. 3 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2012. $39.97. ISBN 9781469282091.

Gr 5 Up –Science, fascinating facts, and a compelling story combine to reinforce listeners’ awareness of one small shore bird and its fight against extinction. Hoose’s comfortable baritone lends additional credibility to this remarkable journey of rufa red knot, for many years observed migrating an unbelievable distance— equivalent to flying to the moon and halfway back again. Listeners will want to have the beautiful print edition at hand to enjoy color photographs and additional information for classroom research.

Sheinkin, Steve. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. 3 CDs. 4 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $27. ISBN 9780804167444.

Gr 5-8 –In July 1944, more than 300 sailors were killed on the docks of Port Chicago, California, in a huge explosion. Most of the sailors were African American and none of them had been trained to safely handle munitions. Moreover, no white sailors did this kind of work. After the blast, many of the men refused to return to this dangerous assignment. Fifty of them were charged with mutiny, although their actions did not fit the Navy’s own definition of that crime. Dominic Hoffman’s unadorned narration, with its measured pacing, serves the story well. Sheinkin turns history into an adventure, taking facts and figures and blending them into an exciting and heartbreaking exposé of war, racism, and injustice gone amok. Students will want to visit the Port Chicago website ( for additional information and to learn that these men have not been forgotten.

High School

Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. 12 CDs. 14:30 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. $49.95. ISBN 9781611761696.

Gr 8 Up –This is so much more than a story of the United States winning the gold medal in rowing at the 1936 Olympics in Germany. It’s the story of the boys and men from the University of Washington who overcame much adversity just to sit in that boat, of their triumph over the hardships of the Great Depression in the Northwest, of rising above family dysfunction, and of grit and determination on the part of those who rowed as well as those who coached and loved them. Edward Herrmann’s restrained tempo and mellow intonation allows all of the story’s emotional highs and lows to take center stage, elevating an excellent book into a remarkable listening experience.

Earl, Esther. This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl. 7 CDs. 8 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $59.97. ISBN 9781480585492.

Gr 7 Up –Part memoir, part homage, this work follows the short life of the young cancer patient to whom John Green dedicated The Fault in Our Stars. Told by Esther as well as her parents, siblings, and friends, it is by turns funny, thoughtful, and heartbreaking. Esther was a bright, engaging young woman whose insights into living with, and realizing she would soon die from, cancer are captivating, and Esther’s musings on her relationship with God will be of particular interest to Christian teens. Her parents, Lori and Wayne, are excellent narrators of their own writing, while Christina Panfilio’s careful pacing and inflection perfectly portray Esther’s teen voice when reading the girl’s own words. Other narrators (among them Nick Podehl, Luke Daniels, and Amy McFadden) read the parts of Esther’s siblings and friends. Green’s heartfelt introduction and occasional insertions will be especially appreciated by his many fans. Students can find Esther’s conversations on YouTube, which may spark their interest in making their own videos.

Kidder, Tracy & Michael French. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. 6 CDs. 7:22 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $35. ISBN 9780804121699.

Gr 9 Up –Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist and epidemiologist, has spent his adult life working to bring quality health care to the poor, particularly in developing countries. Kidder expertly weaves Farmer’s personal story—his unconventional upbringing and his stellar academic career—with the grueling hours spent battling multiple drug-resistant diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS as he struggles to provide individualized health care to his many impoverished patients around the world. This fascinating, complex, and thought-provoking book is narrated by Lincoln Hoppe with a mixture of steadiness, solemnity, and admiration. Hoppe’s conversational style perfectly suits Kidder’s ability to give an intimate glimpse into the seeming chaos of Farmer’s life. Students can follow up by listening to Farmer answer 10 questions regarding his controversial beliefs regarding health care (

Sharon Grover is head of youth services at the Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, WI.
Lizette (Liz) Hannegan was a school librarian and the district library supervisor for the Arlington (VA) Public Schools before her retirement.

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Rick Riordan: Live from Mount Olympus Tue, 26 Aug 2014 22:28:12 +0000 Register Now!]]> RickWebCast 0923 550x196 Rick Riordan: Live from Mount Olympus

SPONSORED BY: Disney Hyperion

SCHEDULED EVENT DATE: Tuesday, September 23, 2014– 1 PM EDT/10 AM PDT– 60 minutes

register button Rick Riordan: Live from Mount OlympusFew people are allowed on Mount Olympus (a.k.a. the Empire State Building, 600th floor), but literary demigod Rick Riordan can bring you along with him—virtually, of course. Think you (or your classroom or school) can stump Rick Riordan when it comes to Greek mythology? We’ll be testing him live! You’ll have a chance to submit a question when you register, and if your question is chosen you’ll receive a signed copy of Rick Riordan’s new illustrated collection, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods. SLJ Reviews Editor Kiera Parrott will be on hand to ask the questions.

You’ll also get to hear an exclusive excerpt from the final book in the best-selling Heroes of Olympus series, The Blood of Olympus – all broadcast live from New York City’s legendary Empire State Building.

register button Rick Riordan: Live from Mount OlympusCan’t make it September 23rd? No problem! Register now and you will receive an email from School Library Journal with the URL to access the archive for this event.

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Ferguson Libraries Step Up to Serve Community in Turmoil Tue, 26 Aug 2014 20:37:07 +0000 Libraries in the Ferguson, MO area provided educational services and creative programs for children and families while the start of school was postponed for two weeks because of unrest in the area.

As demonstrations continued in response to the shooting death by Ferguson police officer of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, the Ferguson-Florissant School District decided to delay the schools’ opening for an indeterminate number of days.

The protests of Browns death have involved the use of tear gas by police and resulted in two more non-fatal shootings by police. Brown’s death has brought to the surface racial tensions in Ferguson, a mostly black suburb of St. Louis, which has a police department made up of 53 officers, only three of whom are non-white.

The schools eventually opened their doors as of Monday, August 25, according to the New York Times.

Ferguson Library

Last week, Ferguson Library created an “ad hoc school on the fly” while the public schools were closed, where children could be taught by working and retired teachers, with volunteers helping them manage the students. Grouped by their grade level, children learned math and science in the mornings and arts in the afternoons.

“We started the program Monday, people started hearing about it Tuesday, by Wednesday I had everyone in the world calling up trying to help,” said Scott Bonner, the library director. “This is a concrete example of the community coming together for the good of the community.”

Carrie Pace, an elementary art school teacher, came to the library director with the idea of creating a temporary educational program with no idea how many students would actually participate. Near the start there were about 40 students and by last Thursday about 150 students participated. As a result, the library started using the Baptist church up the street to house some of the classes.

In addition, several community groups approached the library to provide special programs for the students, from teaching them how to create Tibetan prayer flags to presentations by scientists and artists.

Director Bonner said that this is the type of work that libraries were made to do, providing continuing education, cultural enrichment, and being a meeting space for the community.

“This is totally, exactly, right in the wheel house of what any library does, what every library does. We have a dramatic moment, and a dramatic circumstance caught the nation’s attention, but this is exactly what libraries do every day,” he said.

Bonner, who became the library’s director just last month, stayed up until 2:30 a.m. every night scanning news outlets and Twitter feeds to make sure that the protests were far enough from the library that it was safe to keep it open. He wanted the library to be a “quiet oasis” separate from the demonstrations where people could get water, charge their phones, and feel welcome regardless of their views on the issues.

In addition, the library is accepting book donations through Powell’s books that will help diversify the collection, which is hard because of the library’s limited budget. The project was spearheaded by Angie Manfredi, a blogger who contacted Bonner about creating a list of desired books and crowdsourcing donors online. So far the library has received 20 books with more than 50 more expected to arrive. Manfredi is planning to create another “Books for Ferguson” booklist to be approved by Bonner soon.

Florissant Valley Branch

The Florissant Valley Branch of the St. Louis County Library also provided family-oriented programs that started last Tuesday. It offered fun activities that included letting children and parents play with art supplies, board games, and LEGOs.

LEGOs at the Florissant Valley Branch 300x199 Ferguson Libraries Step Up to Serve Community in Turmoil

Children play with LEGOs at the Florissant Valley Branch

And in partnership with the Magic House, an interactive children’s museum, the Florissant Valley Branch was able to offer free lunches and make and take projects by extending its program with Operation Food Search.

“I think it’s easy to get very caught up, ‘Oh, these awful thing has happened and what’s going to bring us together?’ Well, there are just so many people in our community that are working to make that a reality,” said Laura Kasak, Florissant Valley branch manager.

In the future, Kasak hopes to be able to offer counseling services in the library “to help with the healing process” for members of the community. She is currently talking with potential partners like the Lutheran Child and Family Services to make that happen.

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The March Goes On | Touch and Go Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:02:41 +0000 The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom last August saw the release of a number of new resources on that historic day and the Civil Rights Movement. This year, two of those resources have iPad iterations. Both include text, images, and videos that are essential viewing for students studying the era. Add them to your collection today. Both are free. 

photo3 300x225 The March Goes On | Touch and Go

Screen from ‘His Dream, Our Stories’ (Comcast NBCUniversal)

Those seeking information on the 1963 March on Washington will find a wealth of material on that event—and others that led up to it—in Terry Golway’s powerful His Dream, Our Stories: the Legacy of the March On Washington (MetroDigi, Comcast NBCUniversal, Free, via the iBook app; Gr 6 Up). Outstanding writing and more than 20 compelling videos tell the story of the gathering on the Washington Mall that culminated in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Among the many who braved the overwhelming crowds (estimated between 200,000 and 300,000) and record-breaking heat to attend—and/or share their stories here—were Jesse Jackson, Mamie Chalmers, Peter Yarrow, and Andrew Young. In addition to reminiscences of that day, the app provides context for each vignette with details on the Greensboro sit-ins, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Detroit Walk to Freedom, and the Atlanta Student Movement.

Mamie Chalmers remembers hearing Dr. King speak at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. She talks about her arrest (and five days in jail) after sitting down for sandwiches where African Americans weren’t being served, and her participation in a demonstration where she was sprayed with water from a high-pressure hose that resulted in permanent hearing loss in one ear. Jesse Jackson recounts his arrest in Greensboro, NC, Dr. King’s “broken promise” message, his memories of the civil rights leader’s death, and talks about the work that still needs to be accomplished.

The numerous visuals include black-and-white archival photos of individuals, events, and documents, often several to a screen. Originally written to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, this updated e-version includes fascinating bonus material including interviews with event organizers Roy Wilkins and Dr. King just days prior to the march. There’s also an interactive component that allows readers to upload and save their own stories and photos for personal use and/or sharing on social media. Readers can also submit a story for possible inclusion in a future edition.

Viewers will come away with a better understanding of the era and be able to grasp the enormity of the struggle for freedom as they listen to the voices of those who were part of the movement. An excellent springboard for further study or classroom discussion.—Celeste Steward, Alameda County Library

photo4 300x225 The March Goes On | Touch and Go

Screen from ‘Spies of Mississippi’ (Jeff Zeff Design)

Spies of Mississippi: The Appumentary (Joe Zeff Design, Free; Gr 7 Up) is an amazing collaboration between the written word and visual arts. The app, based on the book by Rick Bowers (National Geographic, 2010; also an iBook) and Dawn Porter’s documentary film of the same title (Trilogy Films, 2014 ), takes viewers inside the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission’s (MSSC) clandestine, “state-funded” campaign to maintain racial segregation in the state during the 1950s and ’60s. As noted in the foreword of Bowers’s book, the history of the MSSC is a story that involves “spies and counterspies, agents and double agents, informants and infiltrators…[along with] dedicated civil rights workers and fearless student activists, truth-telling journalists and justice-seeking lawyers who dared to challenge the status quo.” This will be a shocking history lesson to most, and the app combines text; archival photos; police reports and other documents (some made public as recently as 1998); and film clips (introduced with music), to tell the story.

The MSSC actively sought to thwart the work of civil rights activists before, during, and after the 1964 Freedom Summer, and the book, film, and app draw connections between it and the activities of the white supremacist organizations, including the deaths of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. Interactive biographies of individuals that make appearances in Porter’s film are provided as well as three film segments and a timeline containing numerous resources.

photo2 300x225 The March Goes On | Touch and Go

Screen from ‘Spies of Mississippi’ (Jeff Zeff Design)

Teachers will appreciate the extensive Common Core aligned lessons plans with weblinks and discussion questions for grades 6-8 and 9-12 as well as an “all grades” resource list and suggestions for related enrichment activities. Students will be fascinated with the story and find the app’s visual elements particularly compelling. Also available are additional stories of citizens’ experiences during the era, submitted through a joint venture sponsored by the Library of Congress and Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and hosted on the AARP website. Viewers can also submit their own stories. A first-rate production.—Joy Davis, Ouachita Parish Public Library, Monroe, LA

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

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Columbus Library Expanding Book Delivery Program to Public Schools Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:48:00 +0000 From the Columbus Metropolitan Library:

Tomorrow, Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) will begin delivering bins of carefully selected books to 16 elementary schools in the Columbus City Schools (CCS) district. This new service is part of a larger CML effort to impact early literacy and third grade reading.

CML piloted the book delivery program with Groveport-Madison’s six elementary schools during the 2013-14 school year, and will seek to expand this service based on its success.

Each classroom in the schools below will receive a bin that contain fiction and nonfiction books that are identified as being “high interest” – books students in each grade level will be interested to read.

“We strive to be an out-of-school learning resource for students in Franklin County,” said CML CEO Patrick Losinski. “But we’re also working on ways we can support teachers and ensure that the right books are getting into the hands of kids in their classroom to foster their interest in reading.”

CCS selected the 16 elementary schools based on which high schools that school’s students will attend. CML will deliver and pick up the bins at the beginning of the school year but CCS will eventually take over the transportation.

See Also: Columbus Metropolitan Library Announces New Position To Work With Area Schools (August 22, 2013)

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Celebrating Titles that “Mind the Gap” at ‘The Horn Book’ at Simmons Event │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:01:05 +0000 It’s not too late to register for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate this year’s Boston Globe-Horn Book award recipients at the Mind the Gap event at Simmons College on October 10. Authors and illustrators will speak about the behind-the-scenes drama and inspiration for their work. At the Colloquium, sessions will examine the trends in current publishing in an effort to discuss how to fill the gaps. Attendees will also be able to meet the honorees and have books signed. In the meantime, brush up on the winning titles by reading the following booktalks and checking out the resources for teaching them.

review of the day knock knock by daniel beaty Celebrating Titles that “Mind the Gap” at ‘The Horn Book’ at Simmons Event │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoBEATY, Daniel. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me. illus. by Bryan Collier. Little, Brown. 2013. ISBN 9780316209175. JLG Level: CE : City Elementary (Grades 2–6).

Every morning, I play a game with my father. He goes KNOCK KNOCK on my door, and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to the bed. Then I get up and jump into his arms. “Good morning, Papa.”

One day, the boy’s father stops knocking on his door. Morning after morning the boy waits for the sound. His dad isn’t even home anymore. What will the boy do if there is no one to teach him to how shave or drive a car? Who will teach him to dribble a ball?

Check out the blog of award-winning actor, singer, and writer, Daniel Beaty. Don’t miss his amazing performance in a YouTube video. View examples of illustrator Bryan Collier’s work on his website; Kirkus posted an interview with Collier. From Sesame Street to the Department of Health & Human Resources, resources abound to support children with incarcerated parents. After sharing the title with  students, they may want to help children in need. Read about a community who held a “Pay It Forward Day.” Of course, check out the Angel Tree project is a ministry of the Prison Fellowship, which has been in service since 1976. Check your community for local organizations.

Josephine1 Celebrating Titles that “Mind the Gap” at ‘The Horn Book’ at Simmons Event │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoPOWELL, Patricia Hruby. Josephine. illus. by Christian Robinson. Chronicle. 2014. ISBN 9781452103143. JLG Level: BE : Biography Elementary (Grades 2–6).

Josephine dressed the performers, but she learned all the dances. When she met an opportunity to take their place, she stepped in and danced. Just a kid, Baker ran away from home to join the Dixie Steppers. Once, she even hid in a costume trunk rather than be left behind. Dancing was in her blood and fame was just around the corner. Her biggest obstacle was not, however, her age or her talent. It was her skin color. Yet Baker was not about to let racial prejudice stop her. “I shall dance all my life…I would like to die, breathless, spent, at the end of a dance.”

Powell, a storyteller and dancer herself, introduces readers to the colorful, real-life character of Josephine Baker. The exuberance of the age is vibrantly illustrated by Christian Robinson, who has worked for Pixar Animation Studios. Chronicle Books has produced a charming book trailer with lively music that will set toes to tapping. Kids will want to know more about the girl who refused to take no for an answer. They can find more information at A Civil Rights activist, Baker even wrote to Martin Luther King, Jr., offering her support. She was one of the only women to speak at the March on Washington. And, yes, there is video of Josephine doing her banana dance, but you may just want to watch that yourself.

portchicago50 Celebrating Titles that “Mind the Gap” at ‘The Horn Book’ at Simmons Event │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoSHEINKIN, Steve. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Roaring Brook. 2013. ISBN 9781596437968. JLG Level: HH : History – High School (Grades 10 & Up).

“From the moment they arrived at Port Chicago, most of the men lived in constant fear of a catastrophic explosion. Seventeen-year-old Spencer Sikes was convinced he’d die at the base.

‘Boy, I’ll never make it back home,’ he thought as he worked. ‘I’ll never see my mom again.’

As it turned out, Sikes was on a date 30 miles from the base when a massive blast destroyed two ships, the pier, and everyone who was anywhere near it. The disaster took the lives of 320 men and wounded hundreds. That date saved Sikes’s life. His job, like every other Negro sailor on base, was to load ammunition into ships. When his division was called back to duty, 50 men refused to handle the ammunition. They were arrested and labeled mutineers. If they were found guilty, they could be shot. The year was 1944. The little-known event sparked the beginning of desegregation in the U.S. military.

Known as The Port Chicago 50, this naval trial, involving only black soldiers, caught the attention of Thurgood Marshall. Even with his involvement, the soldiers were doomed during this time of civil injustice. Told from the point of view of the sailors, Sheinkin recounts the Port Chicago story after doing an enormous amount of research, which he includes in his source notes. An extensive bibliography of books, articles, oral histories, and U.S. Navy records rounds out the back matter.

A view of the author’s website includes historic photographs of the sailors and their work. If students wonder how to say his name, share the pronunciation in his own voice from At the Naval Historical Center website, students can read the Court of Inquiry to see the facts, opinions, and recommendations from the trial. The National Park Service has information about the Port Chicago National Memorial.

review rules of summer by shaun tan Celebrating Titles that “Mind the Gap” at ‘The Horn Book’ at Simmons Event │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoTAN, Shaun. Rules of Summer. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2014.  ISBN: 9780545639125. JLG Level: CE : City Elementary (Grades 2–6).

Little brothers are bound to break the rules―especially when they can’t begin to guess what they are. “Never be late for a parade” or “Never eat the last olive.” Both boys quickly realize that if rules really are meant to be broken, they are definitely not without consequences.

From examples of his art to the answers to frequently asked questions, a visit to Tan’s website reveals more about the writer and artist. The book’s website features extra support material such as videos and a teacher’s guide. Rules of Summer also has an app and a book trailer. Connect the style of Tan’s work to surrealism, using the online collection at MoMA, Ducksters, and the Gallery Museum activities. The Classroom Bookshelf featured the title and includes additional teaching ideas. Check the JLG BTG Spring 2014 LiveBinder for other resources.

Additional Resources

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

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

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


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Let’s Geek Out: SLJ Goes to Fifth Annual LeakyCon Mon, 25 Aug 2014 19:59:35 +0000 SLJ gives a peek into the event and what it’s like to be part of LeakyCon’s exclusive after-hours event at Universal Studios theme parks. ]]> LeakyLetsGeekOut Let’s Geek Out: SLJ Goes to Fifth Annual LeakyCon

Banners of “Let’s Geek Out” greeted attendees in the lobby of the Orange County Convetion Center in Orlando, FL. All photos courtesy of Jessie Carter and Wendi Riggins.

LeakyCon (July 30–August 3) is a multi-fandom, multi-track, multi-day convention that “celebrates everything about being a fan,” says its website. “It blends the nerdy fun of a Comic Con with the community and excitement of South by Southwest…” It’s punctuated with sing-alongs, concerts, and breaking world records. To a good chunk of attendees LeakyCon isn’t just a convention, it’s a yearly pilgrimage to see friends and the people they admire, all while geeking out over their favorite fandoms together.

The event started in 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts as a Harry Potter-centric convention. Since then, attendance has grown to an estimated 5,000+ attendees, and LeakyCon now touts itself as a convention that brings together people from a variety of fandoms and allows participants to run the bulk of programming. LeakyCon found itself for the second time in its five-year run in sunny Orlando, and for the first time at the Orange County Convention Center.

Leaky OpeningCeremony 300x224 Let’s Geek Out: SLJ Goes to Fifth Annual LeakyCon

Attendees wait for Opening Ceremony to begin.

This year’s programming choices for attendees consisted of two programming tracks: General and Literature. For those looking for panels and meet-ups dedicated favorite fandoms, rocking concerts, the vendor room, and exciting main stage events, the General was the right pick. And for aficionados of authors such as John Green, Maureen Johnson, Rainbow Rowell, Holly Black, and Scott Westerfeld—and for those who want to be involved in sessions that involve writing, publishing, and getting to know authors on a more personal level—the Lit Track is a must-do. What if you want it all? Registrants can sign up for both tracks. (However, Lit and General programming happen at the same time, so those attendees have to pick and choose between conflicting sessions.) If particularly overburdened with cash, then participants can also register as a Rock Star, which allows them to do everything—plus have priority seating at main events, priority placing in various lines, and be guaranteed a couple of signings.

Banners blaring the messages “Let’s Geek Out” hung wherever the eye could see as conference goers shuffled into lines for registration. Even though registration opened two hours late, spontaneous song-and-dance numbers going on behind the registration desks, volunteers running through the crowd giving high fives, and hugs shared between folks running into old friends after a year, the excitement and positivity remained high.

Leaky DiagonAlley Let’s Geek Out: SLJ Goes to Fifth Annual LeakyCon

Diagon Alley opened in Universal Theme Parks in early July 2014, and LeakyCon’s Open at the Close event was one of the first private events to ever be held in the park.

Aside from registration, Wednesday programming was very light: a meet-up for each of the four Hogwarts Houses, Star Trek and Star Wars fans, LeakyCon alumni, and a Q & A panel for presenters. Wednesday’s focus—for the majority of attendees—was the Open at the Close (OATC) event, a private event held at Universal Studios theme parks that only 1,500 of the estimated 5,000+ attendees were lucky enough to purchase tickets to. OATC event guests were allowed into both Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Theme Parks starting at 5 p.m.

However, at 10 p.m., the fun really began. All OATC participants made their way back to Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley for private park hours from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Wizarding World. LeakyCon attendees were treated to free food and drinks all evening, shows put on by park staff, and no lines for the Hogwarts Express ride. Even Olivander’s, the Harry Potter wand shop—usually packed full of people during the day—could be stepped into with just a small group of close friends to make the moment even more magical.

Caption: Watch the video below to see LeakyCon attendees at the Open at the Close event go on the Hogwarts Express – London Cross ride where they must go through the brick wall in order to access the Platform 9 3/4—to the train that will take them to Hogwarts Castle.

The Hogwarts Express from School Library Journal on Vimeo.

Caption: Watch the video below to see the animated goblin that greets ride goers at the Gringott’s Bank ride, which opened this year at Universal Theme Parks.

Harry Potter at Universal Theme Park from School Library Journal on Vimeo.

On Thursday, July 31, the convention itself finally kicked off, with fan programming filling the time that led up to the Opening Ceremony. Fan-run meet-ups and panels subjects included “How Do You LeakyCon?” a panel led by LeakyCon alumni to answer any First Year attendee questions, a SuperWhoLock event for fans crossing over between the worlds of Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Sherlock in the fanfiction world, and a Nerdfighter meet-up for lovers of the YouTube video blog “VLogbrothers” hosted by brothers Hank and John Green (yes, that John Green). By mid-afternoon, a line start to form for Opening Ceremonies and with good reason. Has your favorite television show ever done a musical episode where the characters sing throughout? Now combine characters from Doctor Who, “Harry Potter,” Supernatural, Back to the Future, “Hunger Games,” Game of Thrones, Portal, and throw in an Alice in Wonderland–type character to be a guide through the chaos. LeakyCon’s Opening Ceremonies was everything you could have asked for in a multi-fandom, crossover, musical fanfiction.

Once the Opening Ceremonies were finished, the masses were released to check out the Vendor Hall. Featuring everything from handmade wands to original art work being drawn on site, this LeakyCon’s Vendor Hall was the biggest yet. A main stage had random, fun programming running on it, food vendors made sure there was always something to eat, and the signing lines were comfortably fit into the same space. (This made it convenient for those not interested in getting something signed, but who may have wanted a glimpse of their favorite writer or actress.) With a communal space of chairs, tables, and board games, it was a great place to sit with random strangers and form new friendships while purchasing all your favorite geek merchandise.

Friday and Saturday hosted the bulk of the event’s programming, including main stage events, concerts, shows, panels, signings, and photo booths. From Hannah Hart’s talk about what she thought might be various characters’ from the—“Harry Potter”—series drink of choice in “Potions 101” to “How Fandom Is Changing the World” featuring “My Drunk Kitchen” host Hanah Hart, anti-bullying advocate Meghan Tonjes, and YouTuber Lauren Bird discussing projects like Equallity FTW, Coverflip, and Project For Awesome—and how fandom can give anyone the power to change the world—the overarching idea of LeakyCon was clearly a place for people to fangirl, or fanboy, safely while also focusing on today’s social issues.

Leaky TumblrAskBox Let’s Geek Out: SLJ Goes to Fifth Annual LeakyCon

The Tumblr live-action “Ask Box” made its debut with surprise guests being set in the hot seat for 10 minutes of rapid fire Q & A.

Tumblr users were thrilled to see their favorite social media platform become a main event at this year’s LeakyCon. The Tumblr live-action “Ask Box” made its debut with surprise guests being set in the hot seat for 10 minutes of rapid fire Q & A. Tumblr swag was also handed out to enthusiastic participants.

LeakyCon is known for fan-run programming, which allows fans to submit and run the majority of the daily panels and meet-ups. This keeps programming fresh and relevant to what convention attendees want to see. It’s a great strategy that lessens the workload on the convention staff and brings in a plethora of new ideas every year. It also allows those who create and run these panels to feel like a true part of the convention and encourages them to come back every year. That’s where LeakyCon shines: community.

The Lit Track hummed this year. Added in 2011, it has grown as quickly as LeakyCon itself. Run by the ever unpredictable YA writer Maureen Johnson (who arrived at this year’s LeakyCon using a Segway), this year’s authors featured convention regulars John Green and Robin Wasserman, as well as Stephanie Perkins, Lev Grossman, among others. From “I Made You. Now I’m Going to Kill You,” a panel on why authors kill favorite characters to, “The Book Was Better: Having Your Book Made Into A Movie,” where authors discussed how it felt to have their books turned into a movie and how to deal with that process, the Lit Track seems to be a great way to get an honest look at favorite authors. “I Was A Teenage Writer,” had popular YA lit authors reading excerpts of stories they wrote as teens. The Lit Track panelists also chatted about the power of the fandom community and how it has influenced things like increased diversity in today’s fiction.

Leaky Crowns Let’s Geek Out: SLJ Goes to Fifth Annual LeakyCon

LeakyCon attempted to break a World Record this year by having the most people wearing crowns.

Aside from General Programming, Lit Programming, and the Vendor Hall, what else was there to do? While resting Con-weary feet and sitting around for a little over 20 minutes, attendees attempted to set the world record for most people wearing paper crowns. All crowns had to be made of paper, but could be decorated in any fashion. Some of participants made elaborate crowns, showing off their favorite fandoms, some just winged it, others found affordable paper crowns for sale in the vendor room. (No word on whether or not the record was officially broken yet.)

Leaky Ribbons Let’s Geek Out: SLJ Goes to Fifth Annual LeakyCon

LeakyCon goers trade ribbons as part of the fun.

Collectors had a ball attempting to track down or trade ribbons. These ribbons could be found at vendor booths, panels, and even in random flower pots around the convention center. Ribbons were introduced to the convention in 2012 and have grown to become a large part of the social scene. There were ribbons for a vast variety of things including quotes, panel themes, vendor names, fandomships, and more.

If that weren’t enough, Friday (August 1) and Saturday (August 2) evenings were wrapped up with live music from a variety of popular YouTube artists, most notably Meghan Tonjes, Lauren Fairweather, Harry and the Potters, and Molly Lewis. LeakyCon regular Hank Green was unable to make it due to touring this year, but thanks to some sneakiness from convention staff and Green’s wife, he was Skyped into one of the live shows and the crowd sang “Accio Deathly Hallows” to him to let him know he was missed.

While everyone loves the rock concerts, many will agree that the crowning jewel of the multi-day conference is the Esther Earl Rocking Charity Ball, which this year wrapped up on August 3, Esther Earl Day. “Prom, but you know, cooler,” is how it’s described to those who have never been. A live DJ plays today’s latest hits, the crowd dances and sings along, and often times the authors and stars join in, solidifying the community feel of the event. At one point, the DJ started to play the controversial song “Blurred Lines” (Robin Thicke), which caused the entire audience to stop dancing and boo until a new song was put on. Once new music began playing, they resumed dancing the night away, making it clear, even at a dance party, this is a group of people was passionate not just about fan culture but also social issues.

Leaky Depressionpanel 224x300 Let’s Geek Out: SLJ Goes to Fifth Annual LeakyCon

The fan-led panel “Anxiety, Depression, and a Drug Called Fandom” dealt with emotional and mental issues, and how fandom has been used as a coping mechanism.

After the whirlwind that was Friday and Saturday, LeakyCon wrapped up with a few panels on Sunday, including Closing Ceremonies. Slideshows from previous LeakyCons were shown, many thanks yous and hugs were doled out, and the cosPLAY—or best costume contest—winners were announced, and Esther Earl Day postcards were handed out to fill out to send tidings of love to our friends or family (and have them mailed on LeakyCon’s tab).

Then the announcement portion started, and though the crowd was exhausted and starting to wind down after almost five days of events, they still managed a collective gasp.

In 2015, LeakyCon would go back to its roots as a Harry Potter-focused convention, with events popping up around the country. Its name will be changed to “GeekyCon,” and the event will proceed to evolve and grow with the wants and interests of its diverse fan base. Following this announcement, there was a collective cheer and a chant of “GeekyCon” to show the attendees’ acceptance and excitement for the new name.

Leaky GeekyCon 170x170 Let’s Geek Out: SLJ Goes to Fifth Annual LeakyConLeakyCon illustrates the power of fandom and community. Whether you are looking to hang out with your favorite YA authors, see your favorite YouTuber live, run your own panel, start a movement to change the world, or just hang out and have a weekend of bonding with your best friends over your favorite fandoms, GeekyCon/LeakyCon has it all. With a great community atmosphere, an extremely open minded and accepting attendee fan base, and a plethora of creative souls with energy to spare, it’s something you really should experience at least once.

Jessie Carter is an entrepreneur from Burlington, Iowa. She owns and operates a local art studio, dabbles in freelance web development, volunteers at STEM events, and is addicted to running panels at conventions. During her free time she enjoys gaming, reading, writing, and getting lost in her favorite fandoms. Follow her @ReinDesdemona.


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A New Picture Book Biography About a Transgender Girl | Up Close Mon, 25 Aug 2014 19:51:52 +0000 SLJ1408w UpClose I Am Jazz A New Picture Book Biography About a Transgender Girl | Up Close

Jazz Jennings, a 14-year-old transgender teen, and Jessica Herthel, the director of the Stonewall National Education Project, are the coauthors of the new picture book, I Am Jazz (Dial, 2014.) Inspired by Jazz’s childhood, it covers her discovery at the age of two that she had “a girl’s brain in a boy’s body.” Jazz’s parents took her to a pediatrician, where she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Soon after, Jazz began transitioning and publicly identifying as female. Told in simple language and geared to early elementary school readers, I Am Jazz is a unique and much-needed addition to literature on the subject of transgender children.

SLJ1408w UpClose Jazz Jennings A New Picture Book Biography About a Transgender Girl | Up Close

Jazz Jennings

In your experience, what have been the hardest aspects of being a transgender child (and now a transgender teen)?
Jazz: Being transgender is one big challenge in itself. It’s difficult when you have people trying to tell you who you are or how you should think. They can be cruel and unkind and not open to acceptance. But I know that they don’t determine who I am—I decide. I have the right to make my own decisions whether people respect it or not. Being transgender makes you a stronger person. The challenges you overcome help you better understand yourself and the world around you.

Throughout I Am Jazz, it is clear that your parents and siblings were supportive and able to help you transition. But some teachers and kids were quite ignorant or cruel. Have things gotten better for you over the years?
Jazz: Things have definitely gotten better. My parents and siblings look out for me and protect me. Our family wants to spread the message of peace and equality for all. My teachers and peers are great as well. I’m only friends with the people who will accept me for my true heart no matter what. The administrators at my school don’t tolerate bullying among the students and they look after me.

Jessica, how did you first get involved in the writing of this book?
Jessica: As a person who had done a lot of theater growing up and had many gay friends, it was important to me that my three daughters understood, from a very early age, that love is love and that we should value people for who they are on the inside, not based on their outsides or whether they look or act like a stereotypical notion of a “boy” or “girl.” I was having success with this concept until my kids entered school and were exposed to only a very traditional idea of family. At that point, I decided not to go back to work as a lawyer, as I’d planned, but rather to start volunteering with my public school system in the hopes of encouraging teachers to present more diverse representations of family in elementary schools. I met Jazz’s mom, Jeanette, while volunteering on a committee geared toward making schools safe for every child, and out of our friendship this project was born.

What was it like to co-author a picture book? What do you hope kids and/or parents who read it will take away from it?
Jazz: Co-authoring a picture book was a great experience and cool journey. I hope this book will help others to be who they are and stay true to themselves. I want this book to educate kids about what transgender means and that being different is okay. This way if they ever meet a kid like me, they will learn to accept them and love them for their personality. This book was created to help others, and that’s what I hope it does.

Jessica: I hope that this book reaches three main audiences: families that have a transgender child; communities that have been affected by controversy surrounding a transgender child (for example, those school districts featured in the news due to their decision to allow, or not allow, transgender kids to use the restrooms of their preference); and parents who consider themselves to be allies of the LGBT community and want their kids to grow up to be informed and compassionate allies, too. My wish is that families come away with not only a greater understanding of what it means to be transgender, but also a greater willingness in general to embrace other people’s uniqueness.

SLJ1408w UpClose JessicaHerthel A New Picture Book Biography About a Transgender Girl | Up Close

Jessica Herthel

How did it come about that I Am Jazz would be a picture book (as opposed to a biography, a chapter book, or middle grade fiction)?
Jessica: It was an obvious choice for me, because I want parents to feel empowered to tackle this important subject with even the youngest kids. Jazz began self-identifying as a girl as soon as she learned to talk; obviously, then, we can’t wait until our children are in middle school to have this conversation. Plus, I had a built-in focus group at home to help me with revisions of the manuscript!

Were there any particular challenges in adapting Jazz’s story for young readers?
Jessica: The only challenge I anticipated was the illustration of the page where Jazz says, “I have a girl brain but a boy body.” For weeks I racked my brain as to how this could be effectively conveyed in a picture. But the hugely gifted Shelaugh McNicholas of Tea Time with Sophia Grace and Rosie (Orchard, 2013) fame took it in stride, with the brilliant idea to illustrate the page by using real-life drawings that Jazz had made before, during, and after her transition.

Jazz, with your work supporting TransKidsPurpleRainbow, along with your many public appearances, you have become a well-known advocate for transgender rights for kids and teens. What is it like to be in the spotlight?
Jazz: It’s a lot more difficult than it seems. Although everyone’s compliments and messages of kindness are dear to my heart, I feel so humble. I’m just an ordinary kid; I just feel like me. I do what I believe is right to help others and spread my message. Being in the spotlight is critical because I know we are saving lives, and that’s the greatest change I can be proud of.

Through your work you’ve met many interesting people and celebrities. Was there anyone that made you star struck? 
Jazz: Even though it was an awesome experience to get to meet amazing celebrities, I wasn’t star struck. They are people just like me and you, and should be treated equally and respected for who they are as individuals. But, I must admit I loved meeting Jennifer Lawrence because she was really funny and kind.

What advice would you offer to other transgender kids and teens?

Jazz: Just always stay true to yourself no matter what. Express your inner emotions, and don’t let others tell you who you are. If your parents are not supportive, find a friend or adult who is. Let them guide you and help you open up. Let your feelings blossom, and keep growing. Don’t let the opinions of others make you shrivel, for you are a beautiful person no matter what anyone says. Be the beautiful flower you are.

Are you planning any sequels?
Jessica: Jazz is an extraordinary kid with so many stories to tell. I get goose bumps just thinking about her, and how many people’s lives she and her family have changed by being brave enough to come forward with their truth. I would love to write another book with Jazz—perhaps focusing on her triumphant, two-year fight to regain her spot on the girls’ soccer team—and if enough people support this project to justify a sequel, I’ll get to work on it right away!

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Let’s Talk About Banned Books: Using Them, Displaying Them, and Dealing with Challenges to Your Library Collection Mon, 25 Aug 2014 16:11:54 +0000 Register Now!]]> SLJwebcast BannedBooks2014 Header 550px Lets Talk About Banned Books: Using Them, Displaying Them, and Dealing with Challenges to Your Library CollectionPresented by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, Open Road Media & School Library Journal

Event Date & Time: Thursday, September 11th, 2014, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET / 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PT
register button Lets Talk About Banned Books: Using Them, Displaying Them, and Dealing with Challenges to Your Library CollectionSome of the most popular and widely respected children’s and YA books have been challenged in schools and libraries across the country. Banned Books Week is celebrated the last full week in September and strives to make the public aware of books that have been banned or challenged in schools and public libraries, as well as in bookstores and other venues.  What do you do to prepare for those challenges and keep important books in the hands of readers?

Join SLJ for an important discussion with SLJ columnist Pat Scales, along with authors M.E. Kerr and Todd Parr as they provide practical advice when dealing with book challenges and hear the authors’  perspective on their books that have been banned over the years. You’ll also hear from Youth Services librarian Heather Acerro on ways that librarians can celebrate, display, and use these books.

Pat Scales – Columnist, School Library Journal. Pat Scales is a retired middle and high school librarian whose program Communicate Through Literature was featured on the Today Show and in various professional journals. She received the ALA/Grolier Award in 1997, and was featured in Library Journal’s first issue of Movers and Shakers in Libraries: People Who Are Shaping the Future of Libraries. Ms. Scales has served as chair of the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Wilder Award Committees. She is a past President of the Association of Library Service for Children, a division of the American Library Association. Scales has been actively involved with ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee for a number of years, is a member of the Freedom to Read Foundation, serves as on the Council of Advisers of the National Coalition Against Censorship, and acts as a spokesperson for first amendment issues as they relate to children and young adults. She is the author of Teaching Banned Books: Twelve Guides for Young Readers, Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your School Library and Books Under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children’s Books. She writes a bi-monthly column, Scales on Censorship, for School Library Journal, a monthly column for the Random House website, curriculum guides on children’s and young adult books for a number of publishers, and is a regular contributor to Book Links magazine.
M.E. Kerr – M. E. Kerr was born Marijane Meaker in Auburn, New York. Her interest in writing began with her father, who loved to read, and her mother, who loved to tell stories of neighborhood gossip. Unable to find an agent to represent her work, Meaker became her own agent, and wrote articles and books under a series of pseudonyms: Vin Packer, Ann Aldrich, Laura Winston, M. E. Kerr, and Mary James. As M. E. Kerr, Meaker has produced over twenty novels for young adults and won multiple awards, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her lifetime contribution to young adult literature.

Todd Parr
– Todd Parr is the author of more than thirty books for children, including the New York Times bestselling The I Love You Book, The Earth Book, and The Thankful Book. He lives in Berkeley, California. For a complete list of Todd’s books and more information, visit

Heather Acerro
 – Heather Acerro is the Head of Youth Services at Rochester Public Library (MN) where she is building an innovative, dynamic, and interactive space for children to learn, collaborate and create. She writes reviews for School Library Journal, serves on the board of The Reading Center: Dyslexia Institute of Minnesota and is the current chair of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee.

Kiera Parrott – Book Review Editor, School Library Journal

register button Lets Talk About Banned Books: Using Them, Displaying Them, and Dealing with Challenges to Your Library CollectionCan’t make it on September 11th? No problem! Register now and you will get an email reminder from School Library Journal post-live event when the webcast is archived and available for on-demand viewing at your convenience!

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