School Library Journal The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Sun, 21 Sep 2014 12:33:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pictures of the Week: Huck Scarry at Book Launch for ‘Best Lowly Worm Ever’; Lonesome George Unveiled Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:43:04 +0000 Lonesome George is unveiled at the Museum of Natural History.]]>  


Huck Pictures of the Week: Huck Scarry at Book Launch for Best Lowly Worm Ever; Lonesome George Unveiled

Iconic author and illustrator Richard Scarry’s son Huck Scarry at the launch of the newly discovered and never-before-published Best Lowly Worm Ever (Random, 2014) at Forbes Gallery in New York City on September 17. Photo by Rocco Staino.


LonesomeGeorge Pictures of the Week: Huck Scarry at Book Launch for Best Lowly Worm Ever; Lonesome George Unveiled

Lonesome George, a Pinta Island tortoise (a subspecies of Galápagos tortoise native to Ecuador’s Pinta Island) and the last of his kind, who died at age 102 in 2012, was unveiled at the Museum of Natural History September 18. George was also the subject of Jean Craighead George’s Lonesome George (HarperCollins, 2014).


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Sponsored Content: Get Your FREE FROSTFIRE Advance Readers’ Copy Today! Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:12:26 +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: Get Your FREE FROSTFIRE Advance Readers’ Copy Today!In 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

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Move Over, Waldo | SLJ Spotlight Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:00:02 +0000 Two new books offer kids seek-and-find challenges in a format that they won’t be able resist: the foldout. Josh Cochran’s New York unfolds to reveal more than six feet of colorful scenes and iconic landmarks from Brooklyn’s Coney Island to the Bronx Zoo. James Gulliver Hancock’s Park takes readers through the seasons via a panoramic panel of silly scenarios, humming with activity and oversize creatures, wandering ninjas, and folks out for a bit of fresh air. In both titles, words are limited to a list of items to find and an occasional sign.

insideandout 234x300 Move Over, Waldo | SLJ SpotlightNew York: Inside & Out. illus. by Josh Cochran. 16p. Candlewick/Big Picture. Sept. 2014. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9780763675202. LC 2013953402.

Gr 2-5 –They’ve been around for a while, but the concertina, or foldout, book has recently seen a mini-revival: witness Chris Oxlade’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Design Line, 2014), illustrated by Mike Lemanski, and James Gulliver Hancock’s Park (Lonely Planet, 2014), among others. Cochran’s title joins this group with a six-and-a-half-foot-long illustration of New York City. Starting with Brooklyn’s Coney Island and ending with the Bronx Zoo, the vibrant panel is packed with detailed images of neighborhood scenes and city sights from morning to night: Eddie’s Sweet Shop, the Museum of Natural History, the Chrysler Building, Madison Square Garden, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more, in a delightful jumble (buildings 20 blocks apart sit next to each other). New York’s newest skyscraper, One World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) can be seen on the skyline. The reverse of the panel offers interior views: the spiral ramp of the Guggenheim’s main gallery, a basketball game in play at Madison Square Garden, customers inside Katz’s Deli, etc.). There is no text per se, just a challenge to find 80 New York icons “from the Brooklyn Bridge to a baseball cap” (illustrations provided). As children adventure on this search-and-find mission, they’ll appreciate the many touches of humor: monkeys cavorting on the Guggenheim Museum, King Kong scaling the Empire State Building, window washers working on high, messengers bicycling about, and buskers performing, as well as a mysterious abundance of pizza slices and bananas to spot throughout the city. More fragile than most, but well worth adding to collections.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

park 211x300 Move Over, Waldo | SLJ SpotlightPark: A Foldout Book in Four Seasons. illus. by James Gulliver Hancock. 6p. Duo Pr. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781938093302.

Gr 2-5 –In urban parks across the country, skateboarders share spaces with soccer players, seniors with sunbathers, and squirrels with sparrows. Whatever the species, these park-goers pack into green spaces and own them with resolve, often oblivious to their neighbors’ activities and antics. Hancock illustrates this urban phenomena on a panel that unfolds to nearly five feet as it unveils a landscape filled with people and creatures enjoying a variety of pastimes (fishing, bicycling, and sledding) and treats (ice cream, cocoa, and hot nuts) as the seasons change. A closer look reveals all sorts of wacky goings-on and peculiar scenarios: a young man riding a huge bee, birds sipping sodas, giant carrots and strawberries growing in a garden, ninjas and gnomelike figures strolling about, and a few skeletons waving from the sidelines as fall turns into winter. There is a lot to pore over here, and fans of Martin Handford’s “Where’s Waldo?” (Candlewick) will relish this title. As in those books, readers are assigned a mission: “to find lots of fun stuff.” The back pages list people, animals, and objects to locate and wordless stories to follow as they develop over the year. The silly scenes detailed in pastel artwork and the hide-and-seek challenge are sure to garner an appreciative audience.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

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NSBA, New Regency, and Penguin Books to Distribute “12 Years a Slave” to U.S. High Schools Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:29:43 +0000 9519347 max 600x400 NSBA, New Regency, and Penguin Books to Distribute “12 Years a Slave” to U.S. High SchoolsThe National School Boards Association (NSBA) has partnered with New Regency, Fox Searchlight, Penguin Books, and the filmmakers to make copies of the feature film, book, and study guide 12 Years a Slave available to public high schools.

Educators are required to get their principal’s approval in order to receive materials, according to the site.

From the release:

This nationwide educational initiative was the brainchild of director Steve McQueen and Montel Williams, and now “12 Years a Slave” educator toolkits are available to all public high school teachers timed to the 2014-15 school year.  Educators who gain permission to teach “12 Years a Slave” to their students will receive a free kit which includes: a DVD copy of the film (edited version with disclaimer/parental consent requested); a paperback copy of the Penguin book; the “12 Years a Slave” printed study guide; and a letter from Steve McQueen.

Any U.S. public high school teacher with permission to add this to the high school curriculum may go to and click on the button for teachers to opt in and request an educators’ toolkit for their school.

9519394 max min 300x200 NSBA, New Regency, and Penguin Books to Distribute “12 Years a Slave” to U.S. High Schools“I am thrilled that my dream of having ‘12 Years a Slave’ available to high school students is finally a reality. Solomon Northup’s powerful story needs to be shared and remembered for generations to come. This is a wonderful opportunity for our youth to learn about the past,” said Steve McQueen, director of “12 Years a Slave.”

“12 Years a Slave,” winner of Best Motion Picture of the Year, as well as Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards®, is a film that depicts the harrowing tale of a New York State-born free black man kidnapped in Washington, D.C.  in 1841 and sold into slavery.

Photographs courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot Titles Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:15:00 +0000 SneakPeak graphic Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesWelcome to the inaugural SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek, a monthly web-exclusive feature that will showcase reviews for highly anticipated books in advance of our upcoming print issue. The following middle grade, YA, nonfiction, and professional reading titles have been selected by SLJ reviews editors for their appeal, potential popularity, and overall quality. We hope you enjoy this early access to the full reviews of the season’s must-read picks. Check back on the first week of October for more noteworthy books for children and teens.

Gr 5-8

SLJ1410 Fic5 8 Berry Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesBERRY, Julie. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. 368p. Roaring Brook. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781596439566; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781596439573.

Gr 6 Up– In this Victorian boarding school murder mystery, seven young women find themselves gloriously free from adult supervision when their judgmental, penny-pinching headmistress and her good-for-nothing brother die suddenly during dinner. Rather than alert the authorities and risk having the school shut down and all the students sent home, the girls decide to keep things under wraps and proceed as if the late headmistress and her brother were still alive. But first they’ll have to bury the bodies in the garden without attracting the notice of busybody neighbors, potential suitors, a suspicious housekeeper, and a host of charmingly annoying villagers with a penchant for showing up at the worst possible moment. While juggling mounting debts and increasingly precarious fabrications in order to keep up their charade, the students also try to discover who poisoned the deceased—and why. Berry’s prose is reminiscent of the dark comedy and melodrama of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” mysteries. Each girl at Saint Etheldreda’s School is defined largely by an adjective that precedes her name: Dear Roberta, Disgraceful Mary Jane, Dull Martha, Stout Alice, Smooth Kitty, Pocked Louise, and Dour Elinor. The nicknames are illustrative of the insidious ways in which women and girls were pigeonholed and denigrated in the patriarchal society of 19th–century Great Britain, and over the course of the story, the characters prove that their supposed weaknesses are often the sources of great strength and ingenuity. That said, the device is used throughout the entirety of the book and will wear thin with some readers. The pacing slows midway, though kids will want to read on—if only to find out if the sisterhood winds up behind bars for all of their shenanigans. Overall, this is a well-researched, clever, and deliciously dark comedy with an emphasis on female empowerment.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

SLJ1410 Fic5 8 Bosch Bad Magic Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesBosch, Pseudonymous. Bad Magic. illus. by Gilbert Ford. 400p. ebook available. Little, Brown. 2014. Tr $17.00. ISBN 9780316320382.

Gr 4-6 –Bosch is back with a novel that’s part mystery, part adventure. This series opener features sixth grader Clay, the younger brother of the hero from Bosch’s popular “Secret” books (Little, Brown). After an incident with some graffiti, Clay finds himself spending his summer at Earth Ranch, a camp for delinquent youth on a remote volcanic island. While at camp, Clay encounters a motley crew of eccentric kids; a llama that understands Spanish; a mysterious library; and, perhaps, even a bit of magic. Bosch employs, to great effect, his signature irreverence and hilarity packed into parenthetical asides and footnotes. The end result is a wacky, suspenseful mashup of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and a summer camp tale that is a delight to read. Bad Magic is a clever and playful novel. An excellent addition to middle grade fiction collections.–Amy Koester, Skokie Public Library

SLJ1410 Fic5 8 Rundell 198x300 Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesRedReviewStar Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesRUNDELL, Katherine. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms. 256p. S. & S. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442490611; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442490635. LC 2013021053.

Gr 4-6- –Twelve-year-old Wilhelmina Silver—aka Will, Wildcat, Madman, Cartwheel—has what she considers to be an idyllic life. Since her mother’s death when she was five, she has been “raised” on a remote farm in Zimbabwe by her father, the farm foreman. She has been free to explore and run like the wind; ride bareback on her horse, Shumba; and has a pet monkey to keep her company. She is at home in the bush and sleeps in trees, if necessary, and routinely steals fruit and sets fires with her best friend Simon and the rest of the farm boys. She’s a good reader and keen observer, but her formal education has been sketchy at best. The things she knows to be true are not easily quantified or necessarily valued. When her father dies, she is left in the care of Captain Browne, the kindly farm owner, and his scheming and manipulative new wife. When it is announced that the farm is to be sold and Will is to be sent to a private school in England, the girl’s golden world is shattered. Leaving behind all that she has known and loves and adjusting to a cold, inhospitable climate is just part of her challenge. She has always been a quick study and a fierce competitor and there is no place for her to shine in the snooty, highly regimented school. Driven by desperation and the girls’ cruelty, Will runs away and has to work out for herself what is real, valuable, and true. Rundell’s vivid and compelling prose brings both worlds to life on a visceral level and propels her characters forward. Readers will be engaged by Will’s voice (and her colorful linguistic twists), ache for her through her sorrow and loss, and celebrate her newly sparked confidence and resolve. Warning: there will be cartwheels!—Luann Toth, School Library Journal

RedReviewStar Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesStroud, Jonathan. The Whispering Skull. 448p. (Lockwood & Co.: Bk. 2). Disney-Hyperion. 2014. lib. ed. $17.99. ISBN 9781423164920; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781484711460.
Gr 5-8 –In this spine-chilling sequel to The Screaming Staircase (Hyperion, 2013), Stroud again demonstrates his ease in the world of the macabre and truly frightening. Lucy works for Lockwood & Co., one of many agencies dealing with The Problem. Fifty years ago, for no apparent reason, the dead rose and began to walk among the living. Agencies employ psychic children to help dispatch the dead permanently. In this second installment, the group (Lucy, leader Anthony Lockwood, and bumbling researcher George) finds themselves drawn deeper into the mystery of The Problem. A supposedly simple job dispatching an unruly cemetery ghost leads to the discovery of black markets, obsessive cults, mysterious collectors, and a bone mirror that drives anyone who looks into it completely mad. As in the first novel, the descriptions of the different types of spirits are nightmarishly frightening (one episode with rat-ghosts is especially gruesome.) Lucy’s growing abilities to communicate with the dead, especially the nasty spirit attached to a skull in Lockwood’s home, add an additional layer of menace to an already creepy tale; Lockwood’s secrets add intrigue and suspicion. The plot gallops along at a breakneck pace, giving little respite from the horrors within. For fans of scary fare, this page-turner is a dream (or nightmare) come true.–Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla, Darien Library, CT

RedReviewStar Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesVan Leeuwen, Jean. The Missing Pieces of Me. 240p. Amazon/Two Lions. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781477847299; pap. ISBN 9781477816189.

Gr 4-6 –This is the poignant story of sensitive Weezie, who is growing up in an 1980’s Oklahoman trailer park with an overworked and unloving Mama. The fifth-grader is nearly convinced that she is a completely bad person, thanks to her mother’s uncompromising expectations and lack of affection, combined with her own penchant for lying to protect herself from the other kids’ curiosity about her life. Van Leeuwen beautifully balances dialogue with action and the internal narrative of her hero to create a forward-moving tale that will carry readers along, feeling alternately sad and proud for Weezie all the way. All of the secondary characters are simple, defined by one or two primary characteristics, but feel full-bodied thanks to the variation in their voices and thoughtful details, such as the teacher who “ran her fingers through her hair, making it stand out like a dark cloud around her head… when she was thinking.” Unlike many protagonists of this age group, Weezie is on the innocent and naive side, and nothing shockingly bad or jarringly uncomfortable happens. Ultimately, this quiet book reveals the capacity for good within the characters—despite the hard and unyielding heart of Weezie’s mother—and leaves readers with a sense of empathy and understanding about the importance of self-confidence. Recommended for readers who can handle getting emotionally involved with their protagonists, such as fans of Karen Hesse.–Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

Gr 9 & Up

Carey, Anna. Blackbird. 256p. HarperCollins/ HarperTeen. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062299734; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062299758.

Gr 9 Up –Fast-paced second-person narration places readers squarely in the head of an amnesiac teen girl who only knows that she has a blackbird tattoo on her wrist and that someone is trying to kill her. Quickly adopting the nickname Sunny, the main character soon finds herself framed for theft. Not trusting the police, she manages to find sanctuary among a group of wealthy Los Angeles teens. Romantic tension builds between the protagonist and Ben, her rescuer. Sunny soon discovers abilities she didn’t know she had: being able to dodge assassin’s bullets and also excelling in close hand-to-hand combat when cornered by pursuers. Tantalizing flashes of memories, along with clues from her assailants, reveal that Sunny is a family-less teen runaway who depended on a handsome friend to survive the rigors of being hunted by the jaded elite. Plenty of plot twists will leave readers guessing as to who is trustworthy. Inspired by Richard Connell’s classic short story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” the novel draws to a satisfying close but leaves plenty of room for a sequel.–Madigan McGillicuddy, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Atlanta, GA

SLJ1410 Fic9up condie 198x300 Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesCondie, Ally. Atlantia. 320p. Dutton. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525426448; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698135604.

Gr 9 Up –A fast-paced fantasy adventure tale in a richly drawn dystopian future. Despite her lifelong dream of living Above, recently orphaned Rio has promised her twin sister, Bay, that she’ll stay in their underwater city of Atlantia when they come of age. In one shocking moment, however, Bay is headed Above, and Rio is left alone, separated from the last person who knew the secret of her hidden siren voice and loved her anyway. As Rio tries to find her own way to get Above, she also discovers pieces of Atlantia’s hidden past and its uncertain future. Ultimately, the protagonist will have to rethink everything she’s been taught and make courageous decisions on her own in order to reunite with her sister and save the world she loves. Complex characters, including Rio’s antihero aunt, and a realistically slow and subtle first romance make this a book teens will relate to, even non-genre fans. A slowly unfolding backstory perfectly complements all the action. Despite a bit of a didactic lean in the final chapters, this is a title that’s sure to be immensely popular with teens, especially those who enjoyed Condie’s “Matched” trilogy (Dutton).–Sunnie Lovelace, Wallingford Public Library, CT

Ellis, Kat. Blackfin Sky. 304p. Running Pr. Teen. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9780762454013; ebk. $9.95. ISBN 9780762455546. LC 2014933663.

Gr 9 Up –Sixteen-year old Skylar Rousseau is late to class, which is no surprise. The real surprise comes when she’s told by her shocked friends and family that she’s been dead for more than three months. Skylar is adamant that this is all a practical joke and that she remembers the past 97 days just fine—then she begins having dreams of lying with her own dead body in a coffin. Ellis creates a tone that is playful yet eerie, drawing readers into the oddities of the town of Blackfin one bit at a time. It becomes evident that Sky’s life has always been peppered with the occult, from the way her home (enigmatically called Blood House) seems to speak to her in code, or how she sees faces in the wooden panels of her wall. As she tries to solve the mystery of her own disappearance, the protagonist starts unraveling a dark past that threatens to change life in Blackfin forever. The town residents are a colorful bunch, and Ellis deftly captures teenage dynamics and mannerisms while maintaining each character’s trademark eccentricity. The work ends with an explosive resolution, alongside plenty of questions and tales to be explored. Readers are left satisfied yet hopeful for a continuation of Sky’s journey. This page-turner is sure to keep teens who love spooky sleuth novels up well into the night.–Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal

Murgia, Jennifer. Forest of Whispers. 328p. ebook available. glossary. Spencer Hill. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781937053567.

Gr 8 Up –Sixteen-year-old Rune has been raised since birth by Matilde, the crone who lives in the cottage just beyond the Hedge that separates the village from the foreboding Schwarzwald. Until now, the Black Forest has protected Rune from the terrible events of the past. But those long-ago secrets—whispers of magic, witchcraft, and murder—soon replace the safety and comfort of the forest with menace and evil. The teen begins to hear her dead mother, rumored to be a powerful witch, speaking to her. And those murmurs are urging Rune to wreak havoc on the village and the people who burned her mother at the stake. Laurentz is the son of the Electrorate. A chance meeting with the protagonist reveals dark secrets in his own family. Certain he has been bewitched, Laurentz is no longer sure whom to trust. Murgia’s dual narration makes this historical fantasy a compelling read. The plot-driven text quickly moves the story forward, and the vivid descriptions of 17th-century southwestern Germany pull readers in. Lead and supporting characters are a bit flat and two-dimensional, but the pacing and narrative are absorbing. A solid novel for fans of historical fantasy that are looking for a fast-paced, action-filled tale.–Elaine Baran Black, Georgia Public Library Service, Atlanta

RedReviewStar Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesPERKINS, Stephanie, ed. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. 336p. LSt.  Martin’s Griffin. Oct. 2014. Tr. $18.99. ISBN 9781250059307; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466863897.
Gr 7 Up–Twelve of the best-loved and best-known young adult authors–Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, and Matt de la Peña among them–have contributed stories to this appealing collection. Most have a Christmas setting, but Hanukkah, the winter solstice, and New Year’s Eve are also represented. Most are realistic, but Holly Black, Kelly Link, Jenny Han, and Laini Taylor have contributed tales steeped in fantasy or the supernatural. What all 12 selections have in common is teen romance at its most fragile and meaningful. Never mind the winter holidays; booktalk this title all year round.–Virginia Walter, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

SLJ1410 Fic9up Smelcer Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesRedReviewStar Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesSmelcer, John. Edge of Nowhere. 154p. Leapfrog. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781935248576.

Gr 7 Up –Sixteen-year-old Seth Evanoff mourns his mother’s unexpected death. For comfort, he eats more than his share of junk food and escapes from life through a portal of video games on his tablet. Seth works with his father on a commercial salmon fishing boat in the Prince William Sound, and during a storm, he and his loyal dog, Tucker, are tossed into the drink. So begins the coming-of-age journey of Seth and Tucker as they toil and swim among a chain of remote islands toward home. Seth uses wisdom from his Native Alaskan culture and common sense to survive a summer season of challenges. Smelcer’s prose is lyrical, straightforward, and brilliant. This is an example of authentic Native Alaskan storytelling at its best. Readers are drawn immediately into this realistic modern-day vision-quest scenario and easily identify and empathize with the characters. The excitement and fast pace of the action are reminiscent of Jack London stories. This novel would make a versatile addition to any secondary English or multicultural curriculum. Not to be missed.–Naomi Caldwell, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL

SLJ1410 Fic9up Spears Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesSpears, Kat. Sway. 320p. St. Martin’s Griffin. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250051431; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466852198.

Gr 9 Up –Jesse Alderman, aka Sway, can get you what you want, no matter what. Drugs, popularity, money, anything, but it comes at a cost. After his mom chased some prescription drugs with vodka and ended up dead on the bathroom floor, Jesse doesn’t care about much, as long as he gets paid and people live up to their end of the bargain. But that all ends when school bully Ken Foster asks him to convince Bridget Smalley, an all-around wonderful person, to go out with Ken on a date. Jesse thinks this is just another business transaction until he meets Bridget and finds himself falling in love with her. Now, he’s opening up to all kinds of people, including Bridget’s younger brother, Pete, who feels alone and damaged because of his cerebral palsy, and Mr. Dunkelman, a man who lives at the nursing home where her grandmother lives. However, the more he feels for Bridget, the more he attempts to pull away from her and anyone who might care about him. And, now that the protagonist has made Ken appear like a nice guy in Bridget’s eyes, she starts to pull away from Jesse, as well. From the first page, readers won’t ever want to leave Jesse behind. At first glance, this novel seems like a typical Cyrano de Bergerac–type story, but it is much deeper than that, touching on topics such as parent abandonment, disabilities, bullying, and love. The main character’s transformation and personality are well developed and believable, and readers will root for him along the way, even though he makes it difficult. References to drugs, alcohol, and suicide make it better suited for older teens. A engaging story that will stay with readers long past the final page.–Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library, OR


SLJ1410 NF PrS Roget Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesRedReviewStar Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesBryant, Jen. The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus. illus. by Melissa Sweet. 42p. bibliog. chron. further reading. Eerdmans. 2014. Tr $17.50. ISBN 9780802853851.

Gr 2-5 –Those who have relied upon a thesaurus (meaning treasure house in Greek), either in print or through the tool menu of word processing software, will gain a greater appreciation for the reference tool in this beautifully designed picture book biography of its creator, Peter Roget. Bryant describes bibliophile Roget, taking him from a timid, studious child who was always compiling lists to an accomplished doctor who by 1805 had compiled the beginnings of the first thesaurus. Busy and exuberant, Sweet’s charming watercolor illustrations, layered over collages of vintage images and fonts, capture Roget’s passion for classification while also providing readers new opportunities for discovery (Latin translations of animal names, mathematical terms, and a plethora of synonyms). Expertly researched and well written, Bryant’s narrative not only details the creation of the thesaurus; it also conveys a sense of Roget the man: his shy nature, his keen intelligence, and his passion for knowledge. There truly was a particular blend of artistry and intellect that went into Roget’s book, as evidenced from a reproduced page from the original thesaurus. The book contains extensive back matter, including an incredibly detailed time line that goes into the man’s other inventions (the slide rule, the pocket chess set) and an author and illustrator’s note, as well as Roget quotations that are sure to inspire if not a love of language then at least a search for the perfect turn of phrase. An excellent illustrated biography.–Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library

Professional Reading

SLJ1410 Prof Bird Wild Things Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesRedReviewStar Introducing SLJ Reviews Sneak Peek: A First Look at Hot TitlesBIRD, Betsy, Julie Danielson, & Peter D. Sieruta. Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature. 288p. bibliog. illus. index. notes. Candlewick. 2014. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780763651503; ebk. ISBN 9780763667719. LC 2013946618.

Three popular kidlit bloggers take readers on a wild ride through children’s literature that is as entertaining as it is educational. Like the tone of their respective blogs, the writing style is breezy and conversational. Fans and students of children’s literature will learn a lot, be entertained, and come away with interesting trivia and anecdotes. For instance, readers will learn the secret identities of some famous authors who wrote under pseudonyms before they became well known. But what really stands out is hinted at in the subtitle, “acts of mischief in children’s literature.” The authors do a fine job of debunking the notion that children’s literature is all “fuzzy bunnies” and “pots of honey.” As explored throughout the text, great works of children’s literature provide a way of coping with childhood issues by offering a world that is just as complicated and tough as the one adults live in. The authors’ knowledge shines through and with its extensive source notes and a thorough index, this title is not to be missed. A perfect choice for children’s literature courses.–Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY

All of the above reviews will appear in School Library Journal‘s October 2014 issue. Check back on the first week of October for more stellar books for children and teens.

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A National Effort to Read to Kids 15 Minutes a Day Needs Our Support Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:45:32 +0000 SLJ1409w FirstSteps A National Effort to Read to Kids 15 Minutes a Day Needs Our SupportRemember the adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, pediatricians have a new one: “A book a day builds your brain today!” OK, I just made that little ditty up. But there is a lot of research, and, now, a national effort, that supports just how vital reading really is.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) made big news back in June 2014 when they announced that doctors will begin dispensing some new advice to parents of young children. During well-child visits, pediatricians will inform parents and caregivers that reading aloud, along with singing and talking to young children on a daily basis, contributes to brain development and kindergarten readiness. According to AAP’s president, James M. Perrin, “fewer than half of children younger than five years old [in the U.S.] are read to daily.” Combine this unfortunate statistic with the “30 million word gap” that contributes to a learning deficit, particularly among poor children, and the time was ripe for doctors to prescribe reading far and wide.

Now, you might be saying, “Well, yes, we know this.” Children’s librarians commonly offer similar recommendations during family story times, early literacy classes, and parenting workshops. They go out into the community to talk to literacy groups, childcare providers, etc.“What more do you want us to do?”

Well, for one, check out the website: “Read Aloud 15 Minutes.”

”Read Aloud 15 Minutes is a nonprofit organization that is working to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes the new standard in child care,” according to the site. “When every child is read aloud to for 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.”

In 2012, this group launched a simple call to action: Read Aloud for 15 Minutes, with a decade-long commitment: partnering with other organizations and businesses that are invested in child development and education to make reading aloud every day for 15 minutes the new parenting standard and thereby change the face of education in this country.

“Our goal is to have every library, hospital, daycare provider, literacy organization, and K–2 school sharing this message,” says cofounder and executive director Bob Robbins. He went on to say that projected statistics show “40 to 50 million babies will be born in the next decade in the U.S., and if nothing changes, then we know that 15 million of them will be ill-prepared for kindergarten.” Read Aloud for 15 Minutes is ambitious and enthusiastic with its goal: they want to aim their message at all socioeconomic levels, not just low-income ones. They are aiming for the proverbial sweet spot: systemic change.

So my hope for everyone who is reading this column? I want you to get your library to partner with this organization and help spread this message. Read Aloud for 15 Minutes has three main campaign “pulses” during the year. March is “Read Aloud” month, July is “Seize the Summer,” and coming up in October? “Let’s Talk! Nourishment of the Brain for Babies.” Perfect timing for you to sign up on their website under the “get involved” link and add yours to the growing list of partnering organizations before October’s campaign of “Let’s Talk!”

There is no financial commitment for partners. All you have to do is share the organization’s three monthly themes with your community. As of August, the organization had close to 1,000 partners with representation in all 50 states. Robbins stated that “we will rest when we have every library in the country involved in the campaign.”

So what are you waiting for? We could take that statistic of 1,000 partners and double or even triple it. And in the process, let’s showcase the power of children’s librarians by helping to spread this simple message, one child at a time.

LisaKropp A National Effort to Read to Kids 15 Minutes a Day Needs Our SupportLisa G. Kropp is the youth services coordinator at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in Bellport, NY.

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Ken Burns, Curated | Touch and Go Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:27:37 +0000 photo8 300x225 Ken Burns, Curated | Touch and GoKen Burns has been busy. The award-winning filmmaker’s seven-part television series, The Roosevelts, premiered on PBS this week, and Ken Burns, the app, was just released (Ken Burns LLC/Big Spaceship/Red Glass; iOS, Free lite version, $9.99 in-app full version; Gr 9 Up).

The app is both a visual time line of American history and a thematic compilation of clips from Burns’s documentaries, which have been praised  for their wide-angle treatments incorporating interviews and archival photos and videos. The app’s time line, which also serves as an index, is a string of discs featuring images from the documentaries covering aspects of our nation’s history from 1619 to the present. Each disc is a link to a short clip from one of Burns’s feature-length films or series. The discs bunch up between the years 1850 and 1950—a period he has spent much time researching for “The Civil War” (1990); “Jazz” (2001); “The Dust Bowl” (2012); “The War” (2007); and other histories.

Viewers can travel the time line following the sequence of excerpts chronologically through the centuries, hop from clip to clip pursuing their interests, or access all the clips available under a film title (excerpts from 25 films are available).

photo3 300x225 Ken Burns, Curated | Touch and GoThe excerpts are also curated. Under the themes of “Art,” “Hard Times,” “Innovation,” “Politics,” “Race,” “War,” and “Leadership” are 3 to 20 scenes selected by Burns from his films. In his introduction to the app, the filmmaker states that these groupings or “playlists” allow viewers to see history through a different lens. The past “is just random events. However, over the course of time we see things emerging. Patterns. Interconnections. In the case of history, it’s all about ghosts…if you are aware, then history becomes that guide to the present, and you are able to participate not just in that moment, but in all moments.”

photo5 300x225 Ken Burns, Curated | Touch and Go

Screen from “Chinese Exclusion” from the film ‘The West.’

The playlists offer viewers opportunities to make numerous connections, including those that Burns points out in his introductions to each set: connections between perceptions of the political situation during the prohibition era and our reading of the current political climate, the thread of race through the American narrative, and how war brings out the worst in humankind and sometimes the best. And the list goes on. Under “Hard Times,” for example, are 10 scenes including the clips titled “Share the Wealth” from the film Huey Long; “Hunger and Thirst” from Prohibition; “FDR’s Fireside Chat” from Empire of the Air; and “Hard Times” from The Dust Bowl. The free “lite” version of the app includes the entire “Innovation” playlist—14 scenes from 10 different films. Topics related to art, music, and sports (particularly baseball), also make frequent appearances.

Functionality is smooth, the clips load quickly, and both visual and sound quality are excellent. A “Watch the Film” tab (on static screens) brings viewers to local PBS stations to view the full-length films, and/or to iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon where they can purchase the episodes and/or series. A thoughtful look at the panorama of American history and one man’s oeuvre.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

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Guest Kvetching: Transparency is Paramount | Consider the Source Thu, 18 Sep 2014 01:28:16 +0000 fact or fiction Guest Kvetching: Transparency is Paramount | Consider the SourceConsider this: the current push to invigorate our students’ critical-thinking skills has created a demand for more nonfiction for children and teens. This need has stimulated a resurgence in the variety of approaches to the genre. While it’s a welcome expansion, there is a downside: the blurring of the line between fiction and nonfiction without the full disclosure that readers deserve.

I consider this a problem. Readers, particularly young readers, must know what information they can trust. If a book includes components that are fictionalized, it’s the responsibility of authors, illustrators, and editors, along with sales and marketing personnel to let them know. There are multiple opportunities to provide this transparency in a physical book, including but not limited to: title, subtitle, documentation, and other back matter.

The Common Core is a likely contributing factor in this recent experimentation in approaches to nonfiction. But as someone who has been working in the field of children’s publishing for more than 25 years (first as an editor), it’s also clear that every so often ideas and conversations surface about how to best inspire students to access texts in ways that help nurture their critical-thinking skills. Attempting to provide a larger and more diverse body of work that falls in the category of (shudder) “informational texts” is a good thing. However, anyone who writes nonfiction understands that it takes time to do the research necessary to make a nonfiction piece credible and accountable, while providing young readers with enough plot and character development to deliver a compelling story.

There are certainly ways to speed up this process. Inventing dialogue, creating narrators, writing something “based on” a true story, and so on. I do not have an issue with these techniques, or with many other intriguing and creative approaches, as long as they are identified for readers. For me, the problem arises when I feel duped or manipulated into thinking I am reading nonfiction and discovering I am not—or worse, not being able to determine whether anything was made up, save writing to the author.

I know I am not alone in this feeling. I have had many conversations with peers on this topic, including a few with Marc Aronson, on whose blog I am currently guest kvetching. Earlier this month, Marc summed it up succinctly in an answer to a question Elizabeth Bird posed to him about invented dialogue in nonfiction. He responded, “We should be honest about saying what we do and do not know.” Exactly.

And in an A Fuse #8 Production post on August 25, 2014, Bird wondered: “If a book is entirely accurate but seems to come from the lips of its biographical subject, what is it worth in the pantheon of nonfiction?

People will always say that worrying along these lines is ridiculous. If the books are good and spark an interest, isn’t that enough?  Why do you have to require strict accuracy at all times? My argument would be that when biographies are written for adults, people are meticulous (hopefully) about maintaining authenticity. Why should we hold our kids to different standards?”

I second Bird’s sentiment and add the following: not only should we hold our students to the same standards, indeed kids might argue that they hold us to certain standards—trustworthy information.

For me, the issue is simple: practice truth in advertising. If a subtitle says “a true story,” then it should be. If the story has been embellished or fabricated in any way, readers should be informed—in an author’s note, a prologue, a subtitle, or in some other way. Transparency is paramount.

Tanya Lee Stone’s nonfiction work has received such notable awards as an NAACP Image Award, Robert F. Sibert Medal, Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, and a Golden Kite. Her work often focuses on unknown or little-known histories. She has a B.A. from Oberlin in English, a M.Ed., and teaches writing to undergraduates at Champlain College.

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Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts Wed, 17 Sep 2014 20:48:49 +0000 The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Ken Burns’s seven-part documentary film about the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, recently premiered on PBS. Ranging from picture-book accounts to more in-depth biographies, the books featured here will both inform and inspire.]]> The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Ken Burns’s seven-part documentary film about the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, recently premiered on PBS (visit the website for video excerpts, a photo gallery, and related lesson plans). Whether viewed in the classroom or at home, this fascinating look at three members of perhaps the most influential family in American politics is sure to generate interest among young readers. Ranging from picture-book accounts to more in-depth biographies, the books featured here will both inform and inspire.


Roosevelts1 223x300 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Pakrs. by Barb Rosenstock. illus. by Mordicai Gerstein. Dial. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803737105.

Gr 1-4–In 1903, President Roosevelt read a book by Muir that called upon the government to save America’s disappearing forests, and asked the respected naturalist to take him camping in California’s Yosemite wilderness. This fictional account of the resulting trip describes how Teedie and Johnnie visit giant sequoias and breathtaking vistas, share stories underneath the stars, and “[imagine] a different future for America,” one that includes millions of acres of protected lands. Captivating text and stunning color-saturated illustrations portray two commanding individuals while underscoring the grandeur of the scenery and historical impact of their meeting.

roos2 235x300 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts Colonel Theodore Roosevelt. by David A. Adler. Holiday House. 2014. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780823429509.

Gr 5-8–Adler introduces a gutsy individual with an “outsized personality” who was “sometimes controversial, often loved, and never dull.” The engrossing narrative seamlessly integrates primary quotes, interesting anecdotes, and historical events to depict Roosevelt as family man, politician, reformer, and adventurer extraordinaire. Enhanced throughout with black-and-white period photographs, political cartoons, and other images, this well-researched, evenhanded, and readable account introduces a president who “ably led the nation through turbulent times.”

roos3 242x300 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts Teedie: The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt. by Don Brown. illus. by author. Houghton Mifflin. 2009. Tr $16. ISBN 9780618179992.

Gr 2-5–Introducing a 10-year-old who was timid, scrawny, and tormented by asthma attacks, Brown tells the story of how this “undersize boy” grew up to be a “larger-than-life man.” Lively text sprinkled with quotes and often-waggish watercolors relate significant childhood incidents as Teedie intently examines a dead seal found lying in a New York City street; resignedly faces the “drudgery” of lifting weights and rowing to build his frail form; or takes up boxing after an encounter with bullies. Roosevelt’s perseverance, intelligence, and down-to-earth essence shine throughout this engaging tale.

roos4 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt. by Doreen Rappaport. illus. by C. F. Payne. Disney/Hyperion. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423124887.

Gr 2-6–Rappaport’s stirring title, excerpted from one of Roosevelt’s speeches, sets the tone for a picture-book biography that deftly pairs well-chosen primary quotes with eloquent narrative. Chronological spreads touch upon the highpoints of Teddy’s personal and political life, painting a vivid portrait of his irrepressible personality, can-do attitude, and heartfelt passions. Whether depicting majestic landscapes or relaxed at-home moments, C. F. Payne’s gorgeous paintings are as grand as their subject matter. A compelling and elucidating introduction to an American icon.

roose5 214x300 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts What to Do about Alice? How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove her Father Teddy Crazy! by Barbara Kerley. illus. by Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780439922319.

Gr 2-5–What could be harder than herding cattle across the Dakota badlands, leading the Rough Riders in a battle charge up Kettle Hill, or facing down a grizzly? Raising a high-spirited daughter, of course! Teddy’s unconventional, unruly, and irrepressible first-born is brought to life as she greets White House visitors with pet snake in hand, jumps into a swimming pool fully clothed, grabs both hearts and headlines, and proves her proclivity for “eating up the world.” The ebullient fact-filled text and bold and blithesome artwork suit the unforgettable Alice to a tee.


roos6 231x300 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts A Boy Named FDR: How Franklin D. Roosevelt Grew Up to Change America. by Kathleen Krull. illus. by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher. Knopf. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375857164; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9780307982520.

Gr 3-5–How did Roosevelt, “the ultimate rich kid,” become a president who “did so much for ordinary people in America?” From pampered and privileged boyhood to his post-polio reentry into politics, smooth-flowing, quote-filled narrative and warm-hued oil paintings highlight influential moments, revealing how FDR was groomed “to feel responsibility for others” by both parents and teachers, met various challenges with courage and perseverance, and found inspiration in his cousin Teddy and wife Eleanor. A summary of his presidency, time line, and excerpts from famous speeches are appended.

roos7 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts Franklin and Winston: A Christmas that Changed the World. by Douglas Wood. illus. by Barry Moser. Candlewick. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763633837.

Gr 4-6–This is a riveting account of the 1941 White House summit between America’s 32nd president and British Prime Minister Churchill, a pivotal meeting that forged an alliance and determined the course of World War II. The narrative incorporates quotes from public speeches and private moments to relate historic events and reveal a burgeoning friendship. Handsome full-page paintings shimmer with vitality to set the scene and bring both men to life.

Roosevelts8 249x300 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts Franklin Delano Roosevelt. by Russell Freedman. Clarion. 1992. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9780395629789.

Gr 5-8–Spanning from the Great Depression to World War II, Roosevelt’s presidency occurred during turbulent times, and Freedman steers readers through complex historical happenings, social movements, and contemporary trends with lucid and readable text. Packed with primary quotes, the narrative objectively examines accomplishments and controversies in both FDR’s public and personal lives, while memorable anecdotes, commentary from contemporaries, and a wealth of black-and-white photos reveal the man beneath the exterior.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities. by Richard Panchyk. Chicago Review Pr. 2007. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781556526572.roos9 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts

Gr 4-8–Well-written and accessible, this biography is presented in an invitingly open format with clearly subtitled sections and an array of period photographs, documents, and political ephemera. Panchyk interviewed people who knew FDR personally, and their insightful first-person remembrances appear in boxed entries throughout the text. This useful resource also includes content-expanding activities appropriate to both classrooms and households such as charting genealogy, designing a war bond poster, or staging a political debate.


Roosevelts10 206x300 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts Eleanor. by Barbara Cooney. illus. by author. Puffin. 1999. pap. $6.99. ISBN 9780140555837.

Gr 1-4–Cooney’s concise text and period-evoking paintings shed light on Eleanor’s privileged but pain-filled childhood and touch upon events shaped the remarkable woman she would become. Daughter of a mother who considered her “a disappointment” and an affectionate but unpredictable father, the plain, serious-minded little girl was orphaned at age nine, and languished in her grandmother’s gloomy household. Placed under the guidance of an inspiring headmistress at her British boarding school, she finally began “to think for herself, to ask questions, to be passionately committed to life and the lives of others.” A heart-stirring story about overcoming challenges and finding one’s place in the world.

roos11 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts Eleanor, Quiet No More: The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt. by Doreen Rappaport. illus. by Gary Kelley. Disney/Hyperion. 2009. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780786851416.

Gr 3-8–“Do something every day that scares you.” In this picture-book biography, Rappaport pairs clarion quotes from her subject with spare and lyrical text to render an affecting and informative portrait of the First Lady of the World. Beginning with Eleanor’s loveless childhood and proceeding through her education, marriage, and career as politician and humanitarian, handsomely illustrated spreads not only present chronological events, but also convey her growing self-confidence as she fights for her convictions and finds her voice.

roos12 227x300 Meet Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor: Great Books About the Roosevelts Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s Remarkable Life. by Candace Fleming. Atheneum. 2005. $24.99. ISBN 9780689865442.

Gr 4-8–Insightful, intimate, and impossible to put down, this outstanding biography paints a compelling picture of “an extraordinary woman who devoted her life to making the world a more just, more tolerant, more understanding place.” Fleming weaves well-researched primary quotes and accounts into a mainly chronological narrative that touches upon Roosevelt’s fortes and flaws, accomplishments and controversies. Extensive sidebars and an abundance of period photos and reproductions enrich the telling and allow the author to tease out the important “motifs of Eleanor’s life.”

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Public Library Of Cincinnati And Hamilton County Begins Offering Career Online High School Diploma Program Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:28:19 +0000 The Public Library Of Cincinnati And Hamilton County announced today that they’re now offering library users the opportunity to earn accredited high school diplomas and career certificates via Career Online High School.

The Career Online High School program is marketed to libraries by Gale.

Here’s the library’s web page with FAQs about the program including a promotional that’s also embedded below.

Last month we posted the New Jersey State Library was launching a high school diploma program.

In June, the Sacramento Public Library began offering the program.

We first posted about the Career Online High School program when it launched at the beginning of 2014 at the LA Public Library.

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Should ‘Girl’ Books Be Labeled? | Scales on Censorship Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:26:39 +0000 SLJ censorship columnist, Pat Scales, provides answers to these matters and more. ]]> I’m a teen librarian in a small public library. We have had so many challenges to YA literature that the library director has suggested that we merge the teen and adult collection. She thinks this may eliminate some of the issues.

A library that has a sudden increase in the number of challenges is likely the target of an organized group. It’s frustrating to deal with such groups because they mobilize via the Internet and are relentless. I’m sure you must have a selection policy that includes a reconsideration process. This should be followed to a tee. Require that those bringing the challenges complete the form in its entirety. My bet is that these people haven’t read the books. They have a right to challenge, but they don’t have a right to control the way the library serves its patrons.

I sense that the library director is simply tired of constantly dealing with challenges, but to merge the collections would not solve the problem. What would happen to the teen program if this were done? Would teens even want to come to the library if identifying interesting books is so difficult? Teens need to be embraced, not dismissed.

A local women’s organization has complained that our public library doesn’t have enough books that present a positive image of women and girls. I pointed out a number of titles, but they want them labeled with a girl silhouette so that girls may spot them quickly. This isn’t something that the library wants to do, but this organization is taking the issue to the library board.

Hopefully the library board will leave this decision to the professional staff. Does the library have a policy on labeling? New issues related to labeling are cropping up in public and school libraries. The American Library Association is currently updating its statement on labeling and will eventually make it available on the Office of Intellectual Freedom website. It can serve as a guide for libraries as they update polices.

I’m sure the women’s organization has good intentions, but labeling books is a slippery slope. Male readers may not give books like Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Mighty Miss Malone (Random, 2012), Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie (Candlewick, 2005), or Jacqueline Kelly’s The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Holt, 2009) a chance if they are labeled with a girl symbol. Suggest that the library provide a bibliography of books with strong female characters for the organization to distribute to members or on their website if they have one. Let them know that the library will work with them and provide a display for Women’s History Week in March. Suggest that the organization develop a brochure that lists such titles and place it in bookstores in town.

A parent sent a link to the Facts on Fiction website to the school superintendent in my district who directed the English consultant to call a meeting of all English teachers and ask that they not teach any books that are on the site. This leaves out titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Sounder, which they have traditionally taught. The teachers are concerned that they may have very few books to teach.

This site actually uses graphs to rate books for “Mature Content,” which includes a detailed graph for Profanity, Sexual Content, Violence/Illegal Activity, Tobacco/Alcohol/Drugs, and Disrespectful/Anti-Social Behavior. The ultra-conservative organization appears to target books typically used in the English or Language Arts curriculum. Take time to peruse the site, and you will quickly see that these “reviewers” don’t really know the books, because according to them, To Kill a Mockingbird won the Caldecott Medal and the main character is 12. There are no illustrations in To Kill a Mockingbird, and the character telling the story is an adult remembering an event that happened when she was six.

Ask teachers to look up every book they teach, and take note of misinformation. Then ask for a meeting with the superintendent. Let him know that teachers know the literature better than the folks at Facts on Fiction, and assure him that they know how to present it to students. This may seem time consuming, but it may be the only way to win this battle. Encourage teachers to ask students to think about the issues that organizations like Facts on Fiction have with books they study. Trust their intelligence to analyze the literature and express their personal opinions, orally and through writing assignments, regarding each work. There will be varying reactions, but literature is intended to make readers think.

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Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YA Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:00:49 +0000 Annie Cardi and Dawn O’Porter’s debut novels deal with tough stuff and Brenna Yovanoff and Cat Winters return with spooky works that are sure to give teens nightmares. Long anticipated books by A. S. King, Marie Lu, Meg Wolitzer, Frank Portman, and Jandy Nelson are just some of this month’s hot titles for teens. From surreal fiction to pulled-from-the-headlines nonfiction, the following titles will hook young adults and have them asking for more.


Bacigalupi Doubt 198x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YABacigalupi, Paolo. The Doubt Factory. 486p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.ISBN 9780316220750; ebk. ISBN 9780316220743.

Gr 9 Up–Alix Banks lives a cushy life in a rich, mostly white, Connecticut suburb. She attends a prestigious private high school, is loved by her parents, and gets along with her ADHD younger brother. Her privileged world is shattered when her school is attacked by the enigmatic renegade 2.0, who appears to be stalking her. Alix’s father is well connected, and soon the house is swarming with security professionals, including Alix’s own personal bodyguard. But that doesn’t protect her from a terrifying encounter with 2.0, whose real name is Moses Cruz. Moses tells Alix that her father’s company, Banks Strategy Partners—otherwise known as the Doubt Factory—was the lead defense consultant for several major corporations that produced faulty drugs and other products that caused countless people to die. Is her devoted dad really a killer? Bacigalupi’s characters are clearly drawn and believable. This gripping, outstanding contemporary story cites actual cases of corporate greed, which adds realism to the plot. Suspense builds at a steady pace, leading to increasingly dramatic plot twists and a climax that will leave readers’ hearts pounding.–Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT

Bergin, Virginia. H2O. 336p. Sourcebooks Fire. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492606543.

Gr 6 Up–How hard could it possibly be to avoid the rain? According to the account of Ruby Morris, it’s a lot harder than one might think: Ruby hails from the wet and dreary United Kingdom. After an imminent meteor strike is avoided, events lead to an alien bacterium-laced rain that is fatal and contagious. Stranded and devoid of any parental guidance, Ruby must cross vast distances and make choices even when no right answer exists.The story and language will provide readers with an international scope and convey the tragic impact of the apocalyptic events. Young teens will find the protagonist entertaining and relatable.  Attention to detail, coupled with a very strong main character, will draw readers in and make them think twice about leaving the house—at least not before checking the sky for signs of rain.—Chad Lane, Easton Elementary, Wye Mills, MD

SLJ1409 BK Fic5 8 Black 198x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YABlack, Holly & Cassandra Clare. The Iron Trial. 304p. (Magisterium: Bk. 1). ebook available. Scholastic. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545522250; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545522274.

Gr 5-8–All his life Callum Hunt has been warned by his father that practicing magic is a guaranteed death sentence, the only certain way to make sure he doesn’t reach his 18th birthday. When Call is summoned to attend the entrance exams for The Magisterium, he promises his father he will deliberately fail the test to avoid the dangerous lure of magic school. Unfortunately, magic is in Call’s blood, and though his permanent limp and sarcastic attitude do not appear to serve him well during testing, he is selected with two other “Iron Years” to be a pupil of the greatest mage of all, Master Rufus. Black and Clare have created a unique world in The Magisterium, adroitly sidestepping reader fatigue with the many post-Harry Potter “magical academy” fiction series. The diverse main trio’s multidimensional portrayals leave aside easy characterizations in favor of complex motivations which add depth to each character. Best of all, a late-stage reveal of the novel’s true hero and villain neatly turn fantasy tropes on their heads.–Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla, Darien Library, CT

Blair, Kelsey. Pick and Roll. ISBN 9781459406025; ISBN 9781459406018; ISBN 9781459406032.

Boateng, Johnny. Hustle. ISBN 9781459406056; ISBN 9781459406049; ISBN 9781459406063.

Forsyth, Christine A. Power Hitter. ISBN 9781459405905; ISBN 9781459405929.

ea vol: 136p. (Lorimer Sports Stories). Lorimer. Sept. 2014. $16.95. pap. $9.95. ebk.

Gr 6-10–In Hustle, Johnny Huttle is a promisingly skilled point guard. He works hard and he plays hard, but he just can’t seem to overcome the natural ability of Rex. The two friends have been playing street ball and school basketball since they were little, and basketball is their ticket out of their dangerous Vancouver, British Columbia neighborhood. The problem is that Rex is being offered all the temptations that high school celebrity can bring. In Pick and Roll, Jazz is a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court. Her confidence is shaken when her well-placed screen leaves a member of a rival team with a concussion. Blair captures the intensity of women’s basketball with an otherwise authentic description of the plays and emotions experienced by true competitors. In Power Hitter, 13-year-old Connor Wells’s dad is in Orlando, and his mother is undergoing a mysterious treatment that necessitates a trip for Connor from Ontario to Winnipeg to stay with relatives he hardly knows. The Campbells are gracious people who are willing to take Connor into their home and lives and make Connor their baseball project. Power Hitter is a pleasant enough fantasy for those who can appreciate an innocent coming-of-age baseball story. Overall, this series is recommended for struggling readers who crave a sporty literary snack, but who aren’t prepared for the raw prose of Paul Volponi’s Black and White (Viking, 2005).–Jodeana Kruse, R. A. Long High School, Longview, WA

jasmineskies 206x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YABrahmachari, Sita. Jasmine Skies. 336p. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807537824.

Gr 6-9–Fourteen-year-old Mira Levenson, born and raised in England, is about to meet her mother’s family in India and experience a country very different from the one in which she grew up. She will stay with her mum’s first cousin, Anjali, who has a daughter about the same age. The family lives in Kolkata (Calcutta), where Anjali runs a refuge for homeless children. Though the cousins have chatted via Facebook and Skype, the protagonist wonders if they’ll get on well in person. Mira’s narration successfully introduces the beauty and difficulties of Kolkata, offers glimpses of contemporary life in the subcontinent, and highlights the tension between the traditional and modern. Readers will likely recognize Mira’s own conflicting emotions about love, religion, and loyalty. She struggles with her love for Jide, her best friend in London, and her developing feelings for 16-year-old Janu, a former street orphan who now works at the refuge. Mira also wonders why her mother and Anjali have kept their families apart. The girl’s dreams and reality collide before she returns to London in a fast-paced, satisfying conclusion. An evocative look of living and loving two cultures.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

Cardi, Annie. The Chance You Won’t Return. 352p. ebook available. Candlewick. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763662929. LC 2013946619.

Gr 9 Up–Driver’s Ed is turning junior year into a nightmare for Alex. She keeps having panic attacks when she gets behind the wheel. But that is nothing compared to home, where her mother has had a psychotic break and is convinced that she is Amelia Earhart. Alex is acutely embarrassed and desperate to keep her friends and new boyfriend in the dark about her home life. Her father needs Alex’s help with taking care of her younger siblings while he tries to get his wife the care she needs. Alex often sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night to have heartfelt talks with “Amelia,” in whom she can confide more easily than when she was “mom.” The novel’s central theme is a clever, deft twist on the idea of leaving home. At a time of life when teenagers should be the ones departing, even just by learning to drive or going to dances, the author has Alex’s mother threatening to abandon the family without ever saying it. As Amelia, she is looking over charts and maps, preparing for a final flight, and Alex fears that her mother may disappear and like Earhart, never return. A novelist to watch.–Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT

SLJ1409 BK Fic5 8 Cerra Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YACerra, Kerry O’Malley. Just a Drop of Water. 320p. Sky Pony. Sept. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781629146133.

Gr 5-8–This historical novel takes place in Coral Springs, Florida in the days leading up to and after September 11, 2001. Jake Green struggles with the knowledge that one of the hijackers was living in his town prior to the attacks. His best friend and neighbor, Sam Medina, an Arab Muslim, is targeted by boys in their class whose actions and behavior toward persons of Arab descent is disrespectful and volatile. Sam’s father is taken into FBI custody after the discovery that he serviced the hijacker at the bank he worked at prior to the attacks. Jake soon finds himself at odds with his immediate family as he defends his best friend’s honor and tries to help bring Mr. Medina home. Tensions run high at Jake’s house as he tries to make sense of his mother’s prejudices. His interest in history and war leads him to develop a relationship with a mysterious neighbor who lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor and its aftermath. Historical fact and realistic fiction elements are woven together with an expert hand, making readers care about this moment in history and giving educators an excellent book sure to spur thoughtful discussion.–Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

Clare, Cassandra & others. The Bane Chronicles. 528p. illus. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Nov. 2014. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781442495999; ebk. $11.99. ISBN 9781442495661.

Gr 9 Up–While he does not have a starring role, Magnus Bane, Warlock extraordinaire, is one of the most popular characters in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments” and “Infernal Devices” series (both S. & S.). Fans of Clare’s books will eagerly devour the 10 short stories, which were previously only available as individual ebooks. The tales are organized chronologically, with the majority of them taking place during the Victorian-era Infernal Devicesseries; two feature Bane and Alec, including their hilarious first date. Every story is preceded by a quotation and a one-page comic, drawn in manga-style, highlighting an important scene. Clare has teamed up with authors Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan to flesh out the lengthy life of Bane, giving readers a unique insight into the characters and events they know from Clare’s other books. At the same time, readers unfamiliar with the “Shadow Hunters” series will easily be able to pick up this book and enjoy it without much confusion. The stories are equally engaging and are organized well, seamlessly building on one another. An essential purchase for any library that has a Cassandra Clare following.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

Demas, Corinne. Returning to Shore. 208p. Carolrhoda Lab. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781467713283; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781467724036. LC 2013018618.

Gr 6-9–While her mother goes off for her honeymoon with her third husband, Clare is shipped off to spend the summer with her father, a man she hasn’t seen since she was three. There’s barely a road and no cell reception on the tiny island off Martha’s Vineyard where he lives, and the summer residents know him simply as an eccentric whose obsession with turtles stands in the way of their grand houses. Clare wonders if she’ll be able to connect with this man with whom she shares biology but little else. The book’s themes—environmental destruction and sexual acceptance—[are] aimed squarely at younger teens. A good title to bridge middle grade readers to slightly more mature stories and narratives.–L. Lee Butler, Stoughton High School, MA

catatthewall 202x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAEllis, Deborah. The Cat at the Wall. 144p. House of Anansi/Groundwood. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781554984916.

Gr 5 Up–Clare was a girl from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At 13, she dies and finds herself transformed into a cat, living in Bethlehem, Israel. As a girl, she always wanted to be the center of attention, so being an ignored stray seems cruel. She follows two Israeli soldiers into a seemingly empty house on the West Bank. As the situation escalates with the discovery of a young Palestinian boy, Clare reflects on her actions during her last year of life as a human. Set on Israel’s West Bank, the harsh reality of the story is tempered by the first-person narration of a cat who understands all languages. Ellis is neutral; she doesn’t take sides, nor does she attempt to explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, the miscommunication and actions of the individual characters are examined. Readers are plunged into the narrative, in the same way Clare must face her new feline life. The narrative alternates between the present on the West Bank and flashbacks to Clare’s life as a human. The pacing is appropriately measured, and the setting is vividly described—concisely but evocatively conveying tension, unease, and instability. It is an excellent choice for book clubs and classroom use, and will easily evoke discussion.–Amy Seto Musser, Denver Public Library

Foley, Jessie Ann. The Carnival at Bray. 224p. Elephant Rock. Oct. 2014. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9780989515597. LC 2014937608.

Gr 9 Up–This promising debut, set in the heyday of grunge, tells the story of Maggie Lynch, a displaced Chicagoan and grunge music fan, living in a quiet town (Bray) on the Irish Sea. Maggie was uprooted from her friends, her music scene, and her beloved Uncle Kevin when her romantically fickle mother married her latest boyfriend, resulting in a move to his hometown. During her time of difficult adjustment to Ireland, Maggie falls in love with Eion the very moment a devastating loss hits her family, leading to rebellion and a journey to Rome to see Nirvana and fulfill Uncle Kevin’s wish for her. Foley sets the scene vividly, writing that Bray has a “soggy sort of grandeur” and weaving in the tiny cultural differences that Maggie has to navigate as an American. Foley has also populated Bray with a host of quirky, loving, and memorable background characters, which enriches the story. Recommended for teens who enjoy travelogue romance stories or novels about rock music.–Susannah Goldstein, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City

SLJ1409 BK spot5 8 Fontanez 199x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAFontánez, Edwin. The Illuminated Forest. illus. by Edwin Fontánez. 336p. Exit Studio. 2014. pap. $18. ISBN 9780983189169.

Gr 6-9–Fontánez weaves a tale of loss, anger and hope through the stories of a young boy, a stray cat, an evil and abusive man, a ghost, and the plants and animals of the tropical island. After the death of his beloved young mother, Minerva, 12-year-old Mateo reluctantly returns to his grandparents’ rural Palo Verde home to grieve. Meanwhile, a once-beloved stray cat that was abandoned wanders into Mateo’s yard, looking for safety and rest, but is afraid to trust after enduring abuse and living in the wilderness. Minerva’s ghost wanders the Forest, unsure of where she came from and why she is there, watching over the cat and Mateo, but unable to intervene. Mateo and his friend Sergio have many dramatically dangerous adventures, from which they recover quite extraordinarily. Black-and-white drawings, some covering full pages, give the feeling of a journal in which the author is recording thoughts and impressions. Mateo’s story and the descriptions of Palo Verde’s lush and simple community are quite memorable.–MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NY

Gallardo, Adam. Zomburbia. 361p. (Zombie Apocalypse: Bk. 1). Kensington/KTeen. Sept. 2014. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781 617730986; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9781 617730993.

Gr 9 Up–Courtney Hart, 16, is a typical teen living after the zombie apocalypse that wiped out the human population in the world’s major cities. Courtney also carries a gun for protection, and her school closely resembles a high-security prison, built to keep humans safe inside and zombies outside. The virus that created flesh-eating zombies pushed survivors to escape to smaller rural areas. However, Courtney starts to notice a horrifying trend: a crop of very humanlike zombies have started to gang up on humans. The heroine suspects it has something to do with a methlike drug called Vitamin Z that is made from actual zombie brains and that she sells. When one of her friends succumbs to zombification after getting high with Courtney on Vitamin Z, the teen starts reevaluating her life and whether the popular crowd and boy she’s been dating are truly her allies. Fans of zombie fiction will devour this book; teens who haven’t made the leap (or shuffle) to the genre will be hooked. A gory, campy read.–Julie Shatterly, W. A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC

Hastings, Avery. Feuds. 272p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250057716; ebk. ISBN 9781250045706.

Gr 9 Up–In an alternate future that is harshly segregated, Davis, a “Prior,” and Cole, an “Imp” could not be more different. Davis is part of an elite group of humans with enough money to genetically modify themselves into perfection. She gets the best education, goes to the hottest parties, and has the freedom to concentrate on her passion—ballet. Cole lives in the Slants with the other poor, imperfect humans. He is a fierce opponent in the FEUDS, an underground cage-fighting competition run by Priors. When Cole’s FEUDS sponsor, a political rival to Davis’ father, blackmails him into infiltrating a Prior party, everything changes. Cole becomes aware that a deadly virus covered up by the government is killing off Priors. He never meant to become involved, and he certainly never meant to fall in love with his mark. Feuds is fast-paced and plot-driven. Hastings has created a fascinating society where the so-called ideal humans start dying off from a virus that is directly related to the modifications that made them perfect. While the premise is not entirely unique, the story is executed well. Feuds ends with an unexpected cliff-hanger. Readers will eagerly await the sequel.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

Hosie, Donna. The Devil’s Intern. 240p. Holiday House. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823431953; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9780823432653. LC 2014002402.

Gr 10 Up–Hosie has written a book that will not only entertain but maybe even enlighten. Seventeen-year-old Mitchell Johnson has spent the last four years in Hell, where he is the Devil’s intern in the accounting office. With the number of new arrivals on the rise, Hell’s finances are strained. Fortunately, the Devil has a plan to use his Viciseometer, a time-travel device, to limit the number of those destined for Hell. Mitchell sees it as an opportunity to change his fate and revisit the day he met his fate with a bus. After stealing the Viciseometer, he travels back to the past with three of his friends (a Viking prince, a 17th-century peasant, and a wild-haired gal from the 1960s) and attempts to alter history, only to learn that life and death are complicated and unpredictable. Interesting characters, nonstop adventure, and humor with a touch of heart will not disappoint teens looking for a dark comedy.–Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI

Jacobs, Evan. Self. Destructed. 254p. (Gravel Road). Saddleback. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781622507221.

Gr 7 Up–Michael is a high school junior who likes to run and dreams of one day becoming a pediatrician. When Ashley, a beautiful girl from an affluent family, falls for Michael, he can hardly believe his luck. Life is grand until the couple have an argument that leads to their breakup. Unable to move on from the relationship, Michael becomes dangerously drawn to his father’s gun case. He takes a gun to school with an intention that is not fully clear until the end of the book, but the weapon is never fired. Michael ends up in prison and eventually on parole. Can he change his life around, or is he on a path to his own self-destruction? Much of the story takes place within the landscape of Michael’s mind. Readers become well-acquainted with the teen’s internal healing process. Ultimately, the book’s appealing design will help it find readership, and Michael’s likability will have teens pulling for the troubled young man.–Alison O’Reilly Poage, formerly at Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library, NY

SLJ1409 BK Fic9up Talon Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAKagawa, Julie. Talon. 416p. ebook available. Harlequin Teen. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211395.

Gr 9 Up–In this fantasy set in present-day California, Ember and her twin, Dante, are sent to live with guardians in a beach town for the summer. It’s supposed to be their last period of free time before they start training for their life’s work. Ember and Dante are dragons, and Talon is the government agency that assigns their work, educates them, and makes sure they blend in well with their surroundings and fellow humans. Talon has an ancient enemy in St. George, a militia whose sole purpose is to seek and destroy all dragons. When Garrett, one of St. George’s most promising soldiers, is sent to find a sleeper dragon in the same small beach town, he and Ember cross paths. With a rogue dragon as a catalyst, the two must sort through the truths they thought they knew about each other’s sides—their lives depend on it. Ember is a strong-willed heroine who isn’t afraid to take risks and questions the motives of those who run Talon. This modern-day fantasy with a splash of romance is an entertaining read. Kagawa weaves an evenly paced narrative with a strong theme of loyalty. Readers who have outgrown Christopher Paolini’s Eragon (Knopf, 2003) and those who appreciate a good old-fashioned love triangle will enjoy this first installment of the saga.–Stephanie DeVincentis, Downers Grove North High School, IL

King, A. S. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. 308p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316222723.

Gr 9 Up–King returns with another wholly original work of magical realism. This eerie, provocative title centers on Glory O’Brien, on the verge of graduating high school. Though talented and whip-smart, Glory is an outsider whose social interactions are largely limited to her only friend, Ellie, who lives across the street in a commune, and her father, a one-time painter who’s been floundering since the suicide of Glory’s mother 12 years earlier. Both girls realize they have the power to see the past—and future—of strangers around them, and Glory slowly understands that an incredibly disturbing, Handmaid’s Tale–esque future lies in store, with the rights of women and girls being eroded and a second civil war breaking out. King has developed an unusual protagonist, yet one with a distinct and authentic voice. Elevating herself above the pack and imbuing her novel with incredible nuance, King artfully laces themes of disintegrating friendship, feminism, and sexuality into the narrative, as well as some provocative yet subtle commentary on the male gaze and the portrayal of women in our culture. This beautifully strange, entirely memorable book will stay with readers.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

mortal heart by robin lafevers r Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YALaFevers, Robin. Mortal Heart. 464p. (His Fair Assassin: Bk. 3). ebook available. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547628400. LC 2014001877.

Gr 9 Up–This thrilling series conclusion narrates the fate of 17-year-old convent-raised Annith who impatiently awaits her assignment to serve as the god Mortain’s Handmaiden of Death. When the Abbess appoints her as Seeress, Annith is even more distraught, knowing that the position will condemn her to a life of celibacy and isolation. Vowing to confront her superior and aided by both the Helloquins (damned souls seeking redemption) and the Arduinnites (protectors of women and innocents), the teen escapes to the Breton court, where Duchess Anne and her followers are strategizing against the invading French. Distressed over her true parentage, Annith finds comfort in the Helloquins leader Balthazar, who has secrets of his own. LaFevers again mesmerizes her readers through the political struggles of 15th-century Brittany and the intrigues of the followers of Mortain. Clear, fast-paced, dramatic prose reveals the story via short, action-packed chapters, and the expert craftsmanship of the writing is worth savoring. A plethora of strong females and their romantic relationships will have wide appeal for teens, making this a definite purchase where Grave Mercy (2012) and Dark Triumph (2013, both Houghton Harcourt) are popular and a strong story that can stand on its own.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI

Legrand, Claire. Winterspell. 464p. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442465985; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442466005. LC 2013019385.

Gr 9 Up–Legrand’s YA debut is set in two worlds in 1899: New York City and the magical world of Cane, a country of humans, mages, and faeries. Seventeen-year-old Clara Stole’s mother, Hope, dies a gruesome death, leaving Clara and her family grief-stricken and at a loss. The teen is determined to uncover who was responsible for her mother’s murder. Clara uncovers photos of her mother’s body with markings on it matching those on the statue in her godfather’s shop. Does he know who killed Hope? There was a curse placed on the statue that Godfather breaks, and the statue becomes human. Godfather and Clara fight the magical creatures that come for Nicholas, the former statue, but they take Clara’s father instead. She and Nicholas enter a magical door into Cane and the quest to find him begins. Readers will appreciate the in-depth character development and the action-packed pace in this stand-alone novel. In this unique retelling of The Nutcracker, the author weaves the original story and characters together seamlessly with a rich setting and spins a romantic and dark new tale.–Jesten Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA

Link, Kelly & Gavin J. Grant, eds. Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales. 480p. ebook available. Candlewick. Sept. 2014. RTE $22.99. ISBN 9780763664732.

Gr 9 Up–Between these pages readers will find entries by literary greats as well as new authors. Some of these tales are moving, others terrifying, but they all have one thing in common: monsters. In Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Moriabe’s Children,” a girl hears the kraken that drowned her father calling her to come to them. A disobedient teen discovers that interstellar space pirates are more monstrous than the creatures she’s been taught to fear in the amusing “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind)” by Holly Black. In “This Whole Demoning Thing” by Patrick Ness, a young demon discovers how to be true to herself through music. And “Left Foot, Right” by Nalo Hopkinson is an eerily touching story about one girl’s crippling grief and the monsters that guide her through to the other side. From vampires to ghosts and from strange creatures made of mercury to half-harpies, these beasts will broaden readers’ perspectives. Long after the last page is turned, these tales will linger in readers’ brains, in their closets, under their beds, and in the shadows.–Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO

SLJ1409 BK Fic9up Lu 198x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YALU, Marie. The Young Elites. 368p. Putnam. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399167836; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698171725.

Gr 8 Up–A rollicking series opener from the author of the “Legend” series (Putnam). Imagine surviving a plague of fever, only to be marked as an abomination by your countrymen. Most survivors of the sickness that vanquished thousands in this alternative medieval world possess a strange and unique marking, whether it be a facial coloring, oddly tinged hair, or, in Adelina’s case, a missing eye. Called malfettos, some are endowed with magical gifts that enable them to control wind, fire, earth, and even humans. All Adelina has ever wanted is to feel accepted and loved, but she’s ignored by her father, and her sister doesn’t have the power to save her. She becomes a member of the Dagger Society, an Elite group of malfettos bent on using their supernatural abilities to escape the Inquisition’s genocide and place their leader, Enzo, on the throne of Kenettra. Adelina struggles with an increasing distrust of Enzo, her fellow Elites, and herself, all while learning how to control her powers of illusion and disillusion. Lu seamlessly melds an unforgettable and intoxicating historical fantasy narrative with a strong female protagonist that grapples with an issue experienced by all young adults—acceptance of one’s self. Brimming with engaging battles—physical and emotional—and meticulous backdrops, Lu’s new series will be a surefire hit with old and new fans alike.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

McCowan, Patricia. Honeycomb. ISBN 9781459805798. LC 2014935397.

Thomas, Erin. Forcing the Ace. ISBN 9781459806450. LC 2014935378.

ea vol: 144p. (Orca Limelights). ebook available. Orca Book. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.95.

Gr 6-10Honeycomb follows the efforts of 15-year-old Nat as she and two other girls enter a Young Performers contest at the fictional Tall Grass Music Festival in Manitoba, Canada. Jess, her best friend, plays the guitar and sings, while the slightly older Harper thinks she’s in charge. Harper tries to assert her supremacy because her parents are professional musicians, while at the same time driving a wedge between Nat and Jess, who have been friends since elementary school. In Forcing the Ace, readers are not told Alex’s age. An aspiring magician, much to the disappointment of his surgeon father, he enters a contest for teens and finds himself paired with a girl who is a novice. Both novels emphasize the necessity of cooperation and persistence, as well as the importance of education and family. These high-interest, low-vocabulary stories will appeal to reluctant readers, especially those with an interest in the performing arts.–Marlyn Beebe, Long Beach Public Library, Los Alamitos, CA

Martinez, Claudia Guadalupe. Pig Park. 248p. ebook available. Cinco Puntos. 2014. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781935955764; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781935955771. LC 2013040645.

Gr 7 Up–Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga is facing a summer of uncertainties as her fictitious Chicago neighborhood, Pig Park, sits in the shadow of an abandoned lard company that moved its plant to China. The subsequent decline in population and economic downturn causes local businesses to flounder and Masi’s school closes. In desperation, struggling community members agree to build a huge pyramid in their central park to attract tourists. The youth are pressed into heavy labor and clerical work to prepare for its grand opening. An unseen university professor also funds the project, sending his student Felix to help organize community efforts. Later, his colleague Belinda wants them to wear brightly colored, traditional Mexican clothing and sprinkle Spanish in their speech—whether they are of Mexican descent or not. The summer is filled with a first crush, an absent parent, fear of losing home and friends, and community engagement. Readers will appreciate the strong characters and identify with the protagonist’s teen angst.–Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, IL

MaryTheSummoning Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAMonahan, Hillary. Mary: The Summoning. 240p. (Bloody Mary). ebook available. Disney-Hyperion. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423185192. LC 2014004254.

Gr 7-10–Shauna, Jess, Kitty, and Anna all gather in the bathroom in Anna’s house, ready to summon Bloody Mary. Jess, the leader of the group, starts chanting while the other three girls are anxious to be done with the ritual. None of them really expects anything to happen, until a hand appears in the mirror. Elated, Jess cannot wait to try again, but this time, she changes things around. Mary appears in the mirror, but instead of being contained, she starts to come out. She grabs Shauna, cutting her skin and trying to pull her back into the mirror with her. Soon, Mary appears in any shiny surface, and the girls’ lives are in danger—Shauna most of all. Descriptions are vivid, especially details about Mary and her hauntings. The story has enough creepy elements that will linger with readers. This modern take on the popular urban legend is definitely not for the faint of heart.–Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL

Morgan, G. A. The Fog of Forgetting. 303p. (The Five Stones Trilogy: Bk. 1). Islandport Pr. 2014. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781939017239. LC 2013901201.

Gr 5 Up–An exciting blend of fantasy and adventure. Chase, Knox, and Teddy are on their way to begin their summer vacation with a trip to Fells Harbor. Things are going fine until they meet Evelyn and Frankie, who convince them to take a boat ride around the harbor. Suddenly, they arrive in a strange new world called Ayda, a land of magic, where destiny is controlled by the “daylights,” a power that acts differently in each person. Ayda is a land filled with danger, allies, and enemies where nothing is what it seems. Each country in Ayda has a magic stone and a stone keeper, a powerful person tasked with keeping the stone safe. However, there are dark forces trying to take control of all five stones. When Frankie is kidnapped, the children set out on a rescue mission. They must do all they can to stop the enemy from gaining control of all the magic stones before they can return home. Morgan excels at world-building; Ayda and each of the countries are unique and have their own characteristics. Filled with the type of danger and magic that will please fans of Brandon Mull’s “Beyonders” series (Aladdin) and C. S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia.”–Patrick Tierney, Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary School, RI

Myracle, Lauren. yolo. 240p. Abrams/Amulet. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419708718.

Gr 9 Up–Maddie, Angela, and Zoe are beginning their biggest adventure yet—college. They encounter many challenges—failure, drunkenness, heartbreak, and successes— and ultimately discover their true friends. Maddie embraces the California lifestyle and is assigned to a suite with three other girls referred to as the “Esbees” because they are from Santa Barbara. In the first few months of college, Maddie is almost unable to continue with the yolo (you only live once) mission especially when her parents can’t afford to fly her home for Thanksgiving break. Angela enters college drawn to the Greek lifestyle of partying, fraternity socials, and the appeal of belonging but sees that she may not agree with all of the initiation rituals and the unwritten rules. Zoe decides to attend a liberal college and try a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, Doug but realizes that they have both moved on. After overcoming her depression, she also learns that she loves to run to release stress, and she experiments with her sexuality. Zoe faces failure in a creative writing class when a professor does not recommend her to keep moving through the program, but she is not discouraged. Told in Internet-age style of text messages and tweets first seen in Myracle’s ttyl (Abrams, 2004), the girls try to embrace the free-spirited yolo philosopy as they grow into their young adulthood.–Jessica Lorentz Smith, Bend Senior High School, OR

ill give you the sun small 198x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YANELSON, Jandy. I’ll Give You the Sun. 384p. ebook available. Dial. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803734968.

Gr 9 Up–A resplendent novel from the author of The Sky Is Everywhere (Dial, 2010). Fraternal twins and burgeoning artists Jude and Noah are inseparable until puberty hits and they find themselves competing for boys, a spot at an exclusive art school, and their parents’ affections. Told in alternating perspectives and time lines, with Noah’s chapters taking place when they are 13 and Jude’s when they are 16, Jude’s takes are peppered with entries from her bible of superstitions and conversations with her grandmother’s ghost, and Noah continuously imagines portraits (complete with appropriately artsy titles) to cope with his emotions. In the intervening years, a terrible tragedy has torn their family apart, and the chasm between the siblings grows ever wider. Vibrant imagery and lyrical prose propel readers forward as the twins experience first love, loss, betrayal, acceptance, and forgiveness. Readers will forgive convenient coincidences because of the characters’ in-depth development and the swoon-worthy romances. The novel’s evocative exploration of sexuality, grief, and sibling relationships will ring true with teens. For fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (St. Martin’s, 2013) and Melina Marchetta’s realistic fiction.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

SLJ1409 BK Fic9up OPorter 198x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAO’Porter, Dawn. Paper Airplanes. 272p. ebook available. Abrams/Amulet. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419711848.

Gr 10 Up–In this captivating and at times gritty debut, O’Porter presents a funny and poignant coming-of-age friendship of Flo and Renée. It’s 1994, and the 15-year-olds are each facing their share of troubles on the small British island of Guernsey. Flo’s parents have split up, and she’s dealing with a critical mother at home and an incredibly domineering best friend at school. Renée is an extroverted troublemaker at school, but feels like a stranger in the home she shares with her bulimic younger sister and emotionally unavailable grandparents. The girls bond over the shared experience of familial tragedy and become close friends, exchanging notes on paper airplanes and finding in each other the support they crave. Readers will be drawn into the story, which moves quickly through alternating first-person narrations. By the end, each girl comes to learn the importance of friendship and forgiveness and that the past, while not forgotten, doesn’t have to define you. Though their behavior can be frustrating at times, readers will root for the pair and will also eagerly await the sequel.–Amanda Mastrull, Library Journal

O’Rourke, Erica. Dissonance. 496p. ebook available. S. & S. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442460263. LC 2013033578.

Gr 9 Up–Delancy Sullivan is a Walker, someone with the genetic ability to travel to parallel worlds. When choices are made in the “Key World,” an alternate reality is established where an echo follows a different path. Walkers maintain order and balance between these multiple universes and the Key World to ensure harmony for all. On a routine training mission things go terrible wrong, and if not for Del’s unconventional thinking, she and her sister Addison would have been lost. As a result the Consort, the governing council for Walkers, suspends Del from Walking, determining that her reckless ways need proper supervision. Headstrong and determined, Del questions the Consort’s motives as well as her parents’ secret involvement in a mysterious multiverse anomaly. O’Rourke brilliantly builds an intricate and complex alternate science-fiction universe that contains beautiful imagery and visualization. The pacing and attention to detail drive the plot forward, while the link between Walking and music is fascinating. The well-defined characters deal with important themes such as family, loyalty, romance, and betrayal. Throw in a pseudo love triangle, forbidden romance, sibling rivalry, a witty grandpa, and a cliff-hanger ending, and fans will be longing for the next installment.–Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

Parker, Natalie C. Beware the Wild. 336p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062241528.

Gr 8 Up–In Sticks, Louisiana, Phineas Saucier had just fought with his sister, Sterling, when he jumped the fence and ran into the swamp. Sterling anxiously awaits Phin’s return, but it’s not Phin who emerges from the swamp hours later. Instead, a girl named Lenora May appears and somehow slips into Sterling’s family, erasing and replacing Phin’s very existence. Sterling is positive she isn’t crazy, but no one, not even her oldest friends, seems to remember Phin. The only person who believes her is a troubled boy named Heath. The two of them band together to send Lenora May back to the dangerous place she came from and rescue her brother. The swamp, however, has power of its own and Lenora May isn’t about to return willingly. This is a creepy, atmospheric book that will draw readers in. Parker has created a supernatural setting that manages to feel new and yet strangely familiar, reminiscent of Brenna Yovanoff’s work. Beware the Wild breathes new life into the teen supernatural genre.–Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH

Perry, Jolene. Stronger Than You Know. 243p. ebook available. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807531556.

Gr 9 Up–Joy is a 15-year-old who has been removed from her mother’s care and placed in the home of her aunt and uncle after suffering years of abuse and neglect by her mother and her mother’s “friends.” The novel flashes back to Joy’s terrible moments of imprisonment in her mother’s trailer, but the story’s strength lies in the protagonist’s recovery process and how she learns to trust and become part of a family. The teen’s phobias and difficulties are depicted with honesty and sympathy, and readers will struggle along with her as she begins to interact with her new family and her peers. While the subject matter is tough, this realistic title will draw teens in with its believable characters, including the well-written portrayal of the adult protagonists.–Sarah Wilsman, Kent Free Library, Kent, OH

SLJ1409 BK Fic9up Portman 196x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAPortman, Frank. King Dork Approximately. 368p. Delacorte. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385736183; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780385905916; ebk. ISBN 9780375985676.

Gr 10 Up–High school sophomore, aspiring rock star, and self-proclaimed outsider Tom Henderson is back in the sidesplitting follow-up to Portman’s acclaimed King Dork (Random, 2006). The book opens with Tom being sent to a new school in the wake of the shutdown of his old school—this time without Sam Hellerman. New horizons provide more humorous opportunities for Tom to cast a snarky eye over all he sees, from Little Big Tom, the teen’s hapless and deeply uncool stepfather, to Clearview High, where school spirit reigns supreme. Portman has crafted a perceptive protagonist, whose brilliantly wry observations will keep readers laughing and whose voice is infused with an all-too-believable mix of innocence and cynicism. An typical adolescent boy despite his intelligence and depth, Tom is realistically frank, dropping in sexual jokes and thoughts, along with the references to rock artists and musicians. The author excels at description and tone. Tom is a winsome character who rings true and whose escapades will keep readers engaged.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Reed, Amy. Damaged. 384p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Oct. 2014. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9781442456990.

Gr 9 Up–Eighteen-year-old Kinsey Cole knows people can only bear so much bad fortune. That’s why everyone knows Kinsey’s best friend Camille died in a car accident when Kinsey was driving. It’s also why Kinsey hasn’t cried since the accident and is trying to avoid Camille’s boyfriend, Hunter. Even without her friend, the protagonist is still struggling to stick to her plan to go to college and get away from the small town of Wellspring, Michigan, and her mentally unstable mother once and for all. The only problem is that Kinsey is quietly falling apart. When Hunter invites her on a road trip to San Francisco, she jumps at the chance to get away from all the memories and start her real life. Nightmares that may or may not be Camille haunting the heroine add a surreal element to this contemporary story as Kinsey and Hunter travel across a largely barren landscape on their way to California. Reed offers a well-plotted and excellently written meditation on grief, loss, and the power of new beginnings in this striking novel about two wretched characters trying to make themselves whole.–Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library

Hoop Dreams 194x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAschultz Nicholson, Lorna. Hoop Dreams. 136p. (Podium Sports Academy). Lorimer. Sept. 2014. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781459405875.

Gr 8 Up–Allie McLean, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a senior basketball player at the Podium Sports Academy in Calgary, Canada. Captain of the team, she already has a full scholarship to Duke University. Her parents are divorced, and Allie is increasingly frustrated that her mother spends so much time with a revolving door of boyfriends rather than taking care of her two younger siblings or attending Parent’s Weekend at Podium. As a result, the teen immerses herself into school, her new boyfriend Jonathon, and basketball, the one activity in which she feels she has the most control. When her basketball coach asks if she is interested in coaching at a sports camp, she eagerly accepts and anticipates a summer that will not involve her family or going home. Soon, those plans begin to unravel. The protagonist learns an important lesson about who she can really count on during bad times. Schultz Nicholson is a former athlete with an excellent knowledge of basketball and other sports, and that is reflected in the details of on the court play-by-play that she provides. This hi-lo book’s evenly paced plot and familiar high school situations will resonate with readers, especially teen athletes.–Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State University, NH

Summer, Mary Elizabeth. Trust Me, I’m Lying. 336p. Delacorte. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385744065.

Gr 8 Up–Julep Dupree is a liar. Trained by her father in the family grifting business, she is adept at trading lies for money to pay the bills. Good thing, too, because the tuition for St. Agatha’s High School is high. Julep isn’t alarmed when she returns home one evening to find that her father missing, but the tousled state of the apartment leaves her with a hollow feeling and sets her on a chase to find him and the “mark” that perpetrated the ransacking. Best friend Sam is worried for her, but the teen pushes off his concern, even as she begins to get unusual and convenient attention from the class heartthrob, Tyler Richland. Together, the three high school students work to discover answers to all of Julep’s questions, a mission that will prove deadly for one of them. Summer has penned a debut novel chronicling the life of a teenage grifter that is outrageous and believable. The characters are well developed and leave readers looking forward to the next installment in this series.–Colleen S. Banick, Westport Public Schools, CT

Sussman, Elissa. Stray. 384p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062274557; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062274588.

Gr 7 Up–Sixteen-year-old princess-in-training Aislynn attends classes to hone vital skills like sewing and flirting—but her most important endeavor at the academy is to learn how to contain her “curse,” magical abilities that must be squashed in order to be deemed “safe” and marry a rich male heir. Aislynn is not doing a great job in keeping her powers under wraps and gets reassigned to fairy godmother classes. A demotion of this magnitude is a fate almost as horrible as any young royal could imagine—but the worst of all would be to “stray” from the right path and leave society. She studies how to use her magic in a controlled way and care for her charge. Sweet young Linnea has lost her parents and is associated with a bad family (her maternal aunt is an infamous stray known as the Wicked Queen). The heroine soon discovers that the world she believed in is built upon lies and manipulations designed to keep those in power at the top. This fun tale will appeal to reluctant readers. Sussman explores some unique themes, including a LGBTQ relationship, and even a yummy recipe in this fantasy with supernatural and romantic elements.–Tara Kehoe, New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton

Tabak, Lawrence. In Real Life. 256p. Tuttle. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780804844789.

Gr 9 Up–Seth Gordon, or ActionSeth, obsesses over two things: Brit Leigh’s Facebook page and becoming a Starfare pro-gamer in Korea. When he earns a free spot at Nationals through a gaming tournament, convincing his parents to allow him to go requires a bargain with his dad: Seth must bring home money or quit gaming. Luckily, Seth wins $2000, but his mom jeopardizes his gaming career when she moves to an Institute in California—a yoga-heavy, technology-light community. His mom thinks it’s the ideal solution to his gaming problem and would prefer that he focus on his mathematical talents and getting into college. Seth convinces his dad to allow him to stay in Kansas with him. His dad agrees, with a caveat: Seth must get a job. The teen gamer begins working at a restaurant, where he meets Hannah. Seth’s placement in Nationals and his U.S. rankings draw the attention of Team Anaconda in Korea, and he convinces his parents to allow him to go. This book will appeal to gamers (especially those interested in learning about the Korean gaming scene) and teens looking for a light read.–Adrienne L. Strock, Nashville Public Library

Accidental Highwayman 199x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YATripp, Ben. The Accidental Highwayman. illus. by Ben Tripp. 304p. Tor Teen. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765335494; ebk. ISBN 9781466822634.

Gr 6 Up–Tripp explains that this story of Kit Bristol, accidental highwayman from the mid-18th century, turned up in his ancestor’s sea chest. Orphan and trick rider, Kit works for James Rattle, whose mysterious nocturnal activities lead to a bloody death. Kit obeys his master’s last instructions, pulling back the curtain on a magical world that lives alongside his own. Kit must help fairy princess Morgana defy her father and escape marriage to King George III of England. As they journey to Ireland’s free Faerie state, they pick up a circus performer, a baboon, and a mildly delusional elderly gentleman to round out their motley crew. Fairy attacks from Morgana’s enemies impede their progress until they decide to form a carnival show to hide in plain sight. Humorous mayhem ensues. Tripp ably conveys the protagonist’s subtle sense of the ridiculous through his many mishaps, and conversations between magical creatures and uninformed mortals add to the book’s humor. Readers will delight in Kit and Morgana’s “opposites attract” romance, drawn onward by a rollicking plot. Tripp’s detailed black-and-white illustrations are worth a second look. Fantasy readers, especially fans of Cathrynne Valente’s work, will enjoy the author’s elegant turns of phrase.–Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT

Vail, Rachel. Unfriended. 288p. Viking. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780670013074; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698144804. LC 2014006247.

Gr 6-9–When Truly is invited to the popular table by her former best friend, Natasha, she is excited to finally get a chance at the “in” crowd. Unsure if she is really accepted by them, she worries about doing and saying the wrong thing. Popular Natasha is torn between being a good friend to Truly and being jealous of the attention that she gets. Meanwhile, Hazel, Truly’s current best friend, who is decidedly unpopular and anti-popularity, is hurt and angry at being abandoned by her friend. She seeks revenge by hacking into all of Truly’s online accounts. The addition of social media amplifies each snub, misunderstanding, and deliberate meanness. Truly is depicted as a complex young adult, not a single-minded social climber, while Natasha’s mean streak is the obvious product of questionable parenting. As these young people navigate the already awkward world of middle school, the fact that accusations, rumors, and lies are made public for the world to see make adolescent mistakes much more grave. A solid choice that will ignite meaningful discussion.–Patricia Feriano, Our Lady of Mercy School, Potomac, MD

Waters, Tawni. Beauty of the Broken. 368p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481407090; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481407106.

Gr 9 Up–Mara Stonebrook knows she does not belong; she is “different.” Her small town is conservative and strictly religious. She attends a parochial school even though her parents are far from wealthy. Her mother drinks to forget that she is married to an abusive bully who punishes her and Mara’s older brother Iggy, because he is not his biological son. Mara has managed to escape her father’s abuse for 15 years, but she knows that if anyone finds out her deepest secret, that she is a lesbian, she will be punished as an abomination in the eyes of their conservative church. Keeping her secret is easy until Xylia comes to town. A free-spirited transplant from San Francisco, Xylia encourages Mara’s artistic talent and returns her feelings. The reverend’s son takes a picture of them the two girls kissing, and they fear that they will be outed. Shortly after school starts, Mara is raped by the reverend’s son and is told that if she reveals that he is the perpetrator, he will release the photograph of her and Xylia. For months, Mara lives in a fog, but when her friend Henry, a Native American, is mistakenly arrested for the rape, she knows she has to tell the truth, whatever the circumstances. The aftermath is severe but frees Mara. Emotionally wrenching, this novel will resonate with students struggling with their own sexual orientation.–Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL

winters cure 198x300 Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAWinters, Cat. The Cure for Dreaming. 368p. chron. ebook available. further reading. photos. Abrams/Amulet. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781419712166.

Gr 9 Up–What if you could tell a person’s true nature just by his appearance? Emotional vampires would be represented with fangs and a ghastly pallor; feeble, miserable individuals would flicker in and out of existence. Winters’s latest historical novel, set in Portland, Oregon, in the year 1900, explores this question and others. The daughter of a cruel dentist, Olivia Mead is called onto stage at a show to be hypnotized by the young yet famous Henri Reverie. Her furious father enlists Reverie’s help to browbeat Olivia into her proper role as a woman, forcing her to “see the world the way it truly is.” When Olivia realizes she cannot voice her dissent and that she can truly see peoples’ natures, she must take her future into her own hands with the help of Reverie. Winters combines the history of women’s rights in the early 20th century with a spellbinding story of a young woman caught at a crossroads between family and self. A strong female protagonist, realistic dialogue, and well-written prose allow readers to become immersed in Olivia’s rather unique (and sometimes frightening) world.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

Yovanoff, Brenna. Fiendish. 352p. ebook available. Penguin/Razorbill. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595146380.

Gr 9 Up–Yovanoff’s writing is as thrilling and uneasy as the tales she spins. In a chilling hook, Fiendish opens with Clementine DeVore, buried in a cellar in New South Bend for 10 years with a hex bag tied to her throat and her eyes sewn shut. Impossibly, her rescuer, Eric Fisher, heard her breathing and dug her out of the ground to return her to her family, only for Clementine to discover that most people had forgotten her existence after “the reckoning.” In a town segregated into fiendish people of the Willows and those who are afraid of them, the protagonist learns the hard way that cruelty is sown when people fear the unknown. Her particular brand of magic being strongest of them all, Clementine’s reappearance means another reckoning is looming, one in which the creepy, frightfully unpredictable Hollow spills over its borders and terrified townspeople reduce the Willows to cinders. Richly detailed with adolescent “firsts,” such as Clementine’s self-consciousness at needing a bra and her first kiss with Fisher, and equally so with grand scenes of the reckoning, this horror tale will give teens goosebumps from start to finish.–Jamie-Lee Schombs, Loyola School, New York City

Graphic Novels

AUSTEN, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 376p. illus. by Po Tse. ISBN 9781927925171.

Hugo, Victor. Les Misérables. 336p. illus. by Tszmei Lee. ISBN 9781927925157.

ea vol: Crystal Silvermoon, ed. (Manga Classics). Udon. 2014. Tr $24.99.

Gr 8 Up–Les Misérables relates the tales of those who suffer the injustices and moral qualms of life. The manga primarily focuses on the love and struggles of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, and Marius, before and during the Paris Uprising. While some attractive art nicely expresses their plights and eventual ascent, certain design choices gives the atmosphere too pleasant a feel. A similarly upbeat style works much better for Pride and Prejudice, which takes full advantage of manga’s characteristics. The flowery decorations, screentones, chibi form create a fun and charming tone for this love story and work of social commentary. King successfully refines these hefty texts down to their core elements. Between a quick pace and the use of common English, these adaptations are a much easier format for  reluctant readers to enjoy. Faithful translations of the originals, making both of these titles worthy of their esteemed names.–Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada

review of the day el deafo by cece bell Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YABell, Cece. El Deafo. illus. by Cece Bell. 248p. Abrams/Amulet. Sept. 2014. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781419710209; pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781419712173.

Gr 2-6–Cece loses her hearing from spinal meningitis, and takes readers through the arduous journey of learning to lip read and decipher the noise of her hearing aid, with the goal of finding a true friend. This warmly and humorously illustrated full-color graphic novel set in the suburban ‘70s has all the gripping characters and inflated melodrama of late childhood: a crush on a neighborhood boy, the bossy friend, the too-sensitive-to-her-Deafness friend, and the perfect friend, scared away. The characters are all rabbits. The antics of her hearing aid connected to a FM unit (an amplifier the teacher wears) are spectacularly funny. It is her superpower. She deems herself El Deafo! inspired in part by a bullied Deaf child featured in an Afterschool Special. Cece fearlessly fantasizes retaliations. Nevertheless, she rejects ASL because it makes visible what she is trying to hide. She loathes the designation “special,” and wants to pass for hearing. Bell tells it all: the joy of removing her hearing aid in summer, the troubles watching the TV when the actor turns his back, and the agony of slumber party chats in the dark. Included is an honest and revealing afterword.–Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City

SLJ1409 BK FicGN 9up Crane Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YACrane, Jakob. Lies in the Dust: A Tale of Remorse from the Salem Witch Trials. illus. by Timothy Decker. 128p. Islandport Pr. Sept. 2014. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781939017338. LC 2013958057.

Gr 8 Up–Based on historical documents, this somber graphic novel will help readers understand that not all of the accusers had ill intentions during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Ann Putnam Jr. stepped forward 14 years after this period of irrational fear with a letter that was read in front of the church congregation asking for forgiveness. A bit of poetry, dialogue, and the actual letter written by Putnam poignantly express the guilt she felt. Illustrated in pen-and-ink, full-page black-and-white drawings mixed with smaller panels take readers on a trip through Salem. Decker’s attention to detail keeps the story moving forward and draws readers in even when there is no text present. Students who are fans of the witch trials or the European influence on America will appreciate and understand the power of a word such as witch.–Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI

Hatori, Bisco. Millennium Snow. tr. from Japanese by Honyaku Center. illus. by Bisco Hatori. 416p. (Millenium Snow: Vol. 1 & 2). Viz Media. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781421572451.

Gr 7 Up–Chiyuki was fated to die from birth. Despite her condition, she remains optimistic for the sake of others and always strives to see the next snowfall. Fate may have other plans though, when Toya, an anemic vampire whose blood could save her, drops into her life. Only the most powerful of bonds will heal his wounded heart. Even with the possibility of living 1,000 years, Chiyuki never seems self-serving, making her a delightfully conceived counterpart to Toya. The tone never becomes tragic, thanks to some nicely interspersed humor and the addition of the werewolf Satsuki. This title has a tenderness to it that other vampire romances lack; it chooses to focus on the time people share together within their allotted lifespan. It is only by understanding and saving one another that Chiyuki and Toya can build a true bond and find eternal love.–Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada

Kagami, Takaya. Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign. tr. from Japanese by Adrienne Beck. illus. by Yamato Yamamoto & Daisuke Furuya. 200p. (Seraph of the End: Vol. 1). Viz Media. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781421571508.

Gr 7 Up–A mysterious virus kills adults but spares children, causing human society to collapse. Unfortunately, this makes way for vampires to take over, enslaving the human children and bringing them down to an underground city. Yuichiro is a single-minded protagonist, a boy who yearns to destroy the vampire overlords, but who lacks a plan to achieve that goal. His friend Mikaela acts as though he is a willing victim, but he uses his time with powerful vampire Lord Ferid to get information that will help Yuichiro escape the city and ultimately discover that there is still life in the human world after all. This story is filled with action and conflict, both physical and emotional. Yamamoto’s black-and-white illustrations are eye-catching and powerful, capturing architectural details of crumbling cities, extreme close-ups of conflicted characters, explosions, and fight scenes with equal skill.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

Kawahara, Kazune. My Love Story! Vol. 1. adapted by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane. tr. from Japanese by JN Productions. illus. by Aruko. 184p. (My Love Story!!). Viz Media. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781421571447.

Gr 7 Up–Takeo is big and manly in a macho kind of way. His best friend, Sunakawa, is handsome in a pretty/pointy-haired way, which means that girls always find him attractive. One day Takeo rescues a girl named Yamato from a groper on the train, and she starts falling in love with him. Unfortunately for Takeo, he is too dense to realize this and spends most of the story convinced that Yamato is really in love with Sunakawa. This event and the subsequent misunderstandings make up about 90 percent of the plot, but then there is a twist at the end that takes the romantic story in a much different direction (avid manga readers won’t be quite so surprised). Aruko’s illustrations capture and heighten the farcical nature of the tale. This is a quick read for manga fans who are looking for a light and simple work.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

SLJ1409 BK FicGN 9up Takami Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YATakami, Koushun. Battle Royale: Angels’ Border. tr. from Japanese by Nathan Collins. illus. by Mioko Ohnishi & Youhei Oguma. 280p. (Battle Royale: Angels’ Border). Viz Media. 2014. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781421571683.

Gr 10 Up –Two short stories expand the inner lives and past histories of characters originally appearing in the Japanese novel Battle Royale (Viz, 1999). Haruka, on watch with class representative Yukie, attempts to come to terms with her hidden romantic feelings for her classmate with whom she is supposed to be fighting to the death, and Chisato remembers a past encounter with popular cool kid Shinji that revealed a talent for deception and hidden depths. These short episodes expand upon characters dispatched over a few chapters late in the original source, creating motivation for the actions that ultimately caused their respective deaths in the Program. Initially considered exploitative by critics, Takami’s cult novel spawned manga and film adaptations and is even considered by some to be a thematic prototype for Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” series. Despite the work’s controversial violence, these vignettes focus instead on the ties that bind students who are instructed to ignore those human connections. The artwork, appropriately, has an emotive, romantic quality.–Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH

For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings subjects as diverse as graphic novel memoirs, tragic true crime stories, and science mysteries.

SLJ1409 BK NFicGN 5up Andrews Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAAndrews, Arin. Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen. 288p. ebook available. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481416757; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481416771. LC 2014010948.

Gr 9 Up–In this memoir, a female-born, transgender teenager describes the challenges presented by his transition. Andrews was always pleased to be called a tomboy as a child; in spite of his body, he felt like a boy, and his mother’s insistence that he wear dresses and take part in pageants was painful. Andrews’s relationship with his first girlfriend, a lesbian, helped him become aware of the fluidity of gender and sexuality and realize that it wasn’t so bad to be different. However, his mother saw his girlfriend as a terrible influence and forbade the boy from seeing her. A YouTube video introduced the teen to the idea of being transgender. With the help of a family therapist specializing in gender dysphoria and an adolescent LGBT support group, Andrews began the journey toward transition and taking on his true identity. The teen writes frankly and bravely about his transition and romantic relationships. This nonfiction account from an actual transgender teen author—as opposed to a novel, such as Cris Beam’s I Am J (Little, Brown, 2011)—is enlightening.–Brandy Danner, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Coe, Alexis. Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis. illus. by Sally Klann. 224p. appendix. bibliog. notes. Zest/Pulp. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781936976607.

Gr 9 Up–The year was 1892, and 19-year-old Alice Mitchell was in love with Freda Ward, 17. She determined that if she couldn’t marry Freda, nobody else would, either. The two women devised a plan to marry, with Alice posing as a man. However, their scheme was uncovered, and their families forbade the relationship. Freda moved on with her life and discovered other loves. Alice was unable to accept life without Freda and decided to kill her former lover when she visited Memphis. This true-crime drama uses primary-source documents of letters and transcripts from the trial to provide a rich, detailed description of Alice’s successful murder plot and the events following the verdict that declared Alice insane and sentenced her to an asylum. This is a captivating account, and readers will quickly become absorbed in the suspense surrounding Freda’s murder.–April Sanders, Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL

SLJ1409 BK NFicGN 5up Denenberg Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YADenenberg, Barry. Ali: An American Champion. 96p. bibliog. chron. photos. reprods. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481401418; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481401432. LC 2013045383.

Gr 4-8–A first-rate biography of an American legend. Starting when Ali (then Cassius Clay) was 12, the book relates his commitment to the sport, describing how after school was over, the boy worked until 6 pm, then trained until midnight. Denenberg also talks about Ali’s endless badgering of his opponents. Interspersed throughout is information about the turmoil of the time period, such as African Americans’ fight for desegregation and equality. There’s also material on the Vietnam War and how Ali reacted by joining the Nation of Islam, changing his name from Cassius Clay; his refusal to enter the army; and his association with civil rights leader Malcolm X. Most of the engaging narrative is done in the format of newspaper articles, man on the street interviews, and breaking news transmissions, all created by the author. Denenberg does an excellent job of capturing the era.–Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover, AL

Kyi, Tanya Lloyd. 50 Body Questions: A Book That Spills Its Guts. illus. by Ross Kinnaird. 108p. chart. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. notes. Annick. 2014. lib. ed. $22.95. ISBN 9781554516131; pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781554516124.

Gr 4-6 –A humorous look at the human body. This title provides answers to 50 questions through seven cleverly titled chapters, each dedicated to a different topic, such as “That Takes Guts” for digestion, “Blood Ties” for the brain and lung, and “Gray Matters” for the brain. While answers are brief and succinct, readers will find themselves amused by the witty illustrations and inspired to seek more detailed sources. Text boxes disguised as blood spatter “Body Bytes” and band aid–covered areas expand upon the answers and give information on key people and events. A fun and quirky romp through human anatomy.–Meaghan Darling, Plainsboro Public Library, NJ

Lewis, J. Patrick. Harlem Hellfighters. illus. by Gary Kelley. 32p. Creative Editions. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781568462462. LC 2013041370.

Gr 6 Up –This beautifully illustrated collection of free-verse poems introduces readers to the Harlem Hellfighters, a group of black American soldiers who fought in World War I, impressing the French with their courage and tenacity while also inspiring Europeans with their music, “a mix of primitive jazz, blues, and upbeat ragtime.” Despite the picture book format, the sophisticated writing style will be best understood by older readers. The poems are of varying quality: some read more like expository text with some figurative language thrown in, while others feature strong imagery that will help readers visualize the sights and sounds of war. Kelly’s atmospheric, pastel illustrations in muted tones are a perfect match for the time period, documenting the violence of war in Europe and the horror of lynchings at home. Those who look closely may notice that the illustrator has referenced some other works of art that are detailed in the artist’s note. Refer students who would like to know more about these brave soldiers to Walter Dean Myers’s The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage (HarperCollins, 2006). This title imparts the mood and feeling of the war well and serves as a good jumping-off point.–Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

genetics  Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YAMooney, Carla. Genetics: Breaking the Code of Your DNA. illus. by Sam Carbaugh. 128p. (Inquire and Investigate). chart. chron. further reading. glossary. index. websites. Nomad. 2014. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781619302082; pap. $16.95. ISBN 9781619302129.

Gr 6-10–This exploration of genetics uses the question “How are traits inherited from one generation to the next?” as a jumping-off point. Each chapter explains key discoveries and advances that have led to our current understanding of genetics, starting with Gregor Mendel. The book also examines genetic mutations and scientific advances in the field, such as DNA fingerprinting, genetically modified organisms, and cloning. Written in a conversational style, this text renders complex content comprehensible. Given minimal but generally sufficient instructions, students are asked to recreate a version of Mendel’s experiment, create a Punnett square, extract DNA from fruit, and create a model depicting meiosis, among other tasks. Black-and-white, comic booklike illustrations impart some information but mostly add humor. Sidebars contribute additional facts, including scannable QR codes that link to helpful videos, such as clips on sexual reproduction and mitosis available though YouTube on Hank Green’s Crash Course channel. A solid STEM resource recommended for general interest as well as supplemental curricular use.–Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY

Ray, Jane. The Little Mermaid: And Other Fishy Tales. illus. by Jane Ray. 173p. (The Story Collector). notes. Boxer Books. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781907967818.

Gr 4-8 –Ray retells seven stories in her trademark flowing style (“the truly wonderful thing about a story is that you can change it and make it yours”) in this attractive volume. Most of the selections are familiar, originally coming from Japan, Denmark, Germany, East Africa, ancient Greece, and the Orkney Islands, as well as from the Inuit people. All the tales involve some magic: a poor fisherman carried by a turtle to an undersea kingdom to marry the Dragon King’s daughter; a young court musician rescued from drowning by a dolphin that is enchanted by his singing; and Raven the Creator, paddling his kayak into the belly of a whale to find the beautiful dancing girl who is the fish’s “heart and spirit,” among others. There is exceptional technical quality and detail in Ray’s various-sized graphic scratchboard illustrations and artistic sensibility in their placement throughout the volume. Her choice of colors—bright red, orange, golden yellow, turquoise, and muted shades of green, aquamarine, taupe, and even gray and black—result in a visually stunning book. A gorgeous collection.–Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH

Rosen, Michael J. Girls vs. Guys: Surprising Differences Between the Sexes. 64p. ebook available. photos. diags. Twenty-First Century. Nov. 2014. lib. ed. $33.27. ISBN 9781467716109. LC 2013021833.

Gr 6-10–This title provides interesting fodder in the ongoing “battle of the sexes” while citing results from recent experimental research measuring phenomenon such as the amount of sweat each gender produces, the effect each gender’s voice has on plants, and which sex will most likely be the first to recover from a romantic breakup. Deft writing helps relay cutting edge information about the brain’s function and differences between the sexes. Colorful photos captioned with key information give it the feel of a university prospectus, while a graphic diagram of the brain near the back of the book will enable readers to visualize the parts of the brain referenced in earlier pages. This choice may pave the way to further discussion and serve to inspire students to conduct their own social experiments.–Kathryn Diman, Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, ME

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

SLJ1409w AB4T Stars Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YA

BROCKMEIER, Kevin. A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of the Seventh Grade. 208p. Pantheon. 2014. Tr $24. ISBN 9780307908988. LC 22013031895.
In this masterful memoir, Brockmeier takes three significant narrative risks, any one of which could have opened him up to charges of gimmickry, trivialization, or both, but which together combine to produce a moving portrait of young adolescence. In the realm of gimmickry is Brockmeier’s odd decision to tell his story in the third person—a trick which might have gotten old quickly but for his second strange decision: to limit the scope of his memoir to his year as a seventh-grader. These two narrative tools give the memoir the feel and shape of a novel, but could have resulted in a very trivial book indeed were it not for Brockmeier’s third narrative risk: an incredibly gimmicky break into the realm of metafiction at the book’s midway point, in which contemporary Kevin freezes time to discuss young Kevin’s life, and whether he would have wanted never to have been born. It’s a play straight out of It’s a Wonderful Life, but it works beautifully to give thematic heft to the memoir, showing readers just how crucial this one year in Brockmeier’s life was: his self-consciousness came to a crucial breaking point; almost all of his friends turned on him, bullying him mercilessly; and yet he began to come into his own as a writer. The moment of metafiction represents what truly was a turning point in Brockmeier’s life, and anyone who suffered through middle school in self-doubt or was bullied, will find Brockmeier’s story emotionally resonant and ultimately optimistic.—Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA

GRAEDON, Alena. The Word Exchange. 370p. Doubleday. 2014. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9780385537650. LC 2013033165.

Graedon’s debut novel is an SAT-prep dystopian masterpiece. Anana works for her father, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language. But the NADEL is dying, along with the printed word. Americans are so dependent on their memes (wearable smartphones) that they welcome the invention of implants and mind-controlling technology. Unfortunately, corporations (including one helmed by Anana’s ex-boyfriend) misuse the tech, and viral word flu devastates the country. Not only do those affected substitute created words for real words, but they also become nauseous and mentally unstable. Thousands die, riots ensue, and the protagonist must find her missing dad to help solve the mystery of the communication disaster. Anana, her family, and friends speak like a SAT vocabulary prep book, using words like “amanuensis,” “ouroboros,” and “scurf.” That alone makes this book accessible to teens who think the SAT Vocabulary Novels from SparkNotes are an insult. But, Graedon also creates delightful new words, and, though they are slow-going at first, chapters from the point of view of word flu sufferers are stand-outs. Well-read bibliophiles will recognize the literary connections, especially to Lewis Carroll and Samuel Johnson. Give this to teens who don’t mind a slower novel than Max Barry’s Lexicon (Penguin, 2013), and who like to explore dystopian mind games of M.T. Anderson’s Feed (Candlewick, 2004).—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL

GROSSMAN, Lev. The Magician’s Land. 401p. Viking. 2014. Tr $27.95. ISBN 9780670015672. LC 2014010097.

“Can a man who can cast a spell ever really grow up?” This question is posed in The Magicians (Viking, 2009), the first book in Grossman’s trilogy that concludes with The Magician’s Land. Many coming-of-age stories are about leaving childhood behind but this fantasy series has always presented a more interesting idea; growing up means holding on to a bit of childlike magical thinking to fuel the dreams that will change the world. This is the journey readers have taken with Quentin as he’s aged from a sullen teenager to a prematurely hoary 30-year-old man. Banished from Fillory, with no kingdom to lead and nowhere else to go, Quentin returns to Brakebills in search of a job. After his tenure as a professor at his alma mater is cut short, he takes on the adventure of a magical heist. Meanwhile, Fillory is dying. Eliot and Janet are determined to find a way to save the collapsing magical world, but the end might be inevitable. The parallel narratives move at a slower pace than typical teen readers may expect, but there are numerous plot threads to resolve here, and Grossman does each one justice with satisfyingly loving details. An older reader who has followed the series will relish these moments, especially when the dual narratives converge. Fans won’t be disappointed with this emotional conclusion, full of the author’s wry voice, sharp characterization, and unique ability to blend pop culture with fantasy.—Joy Piedmont, LREI, New York City

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

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Chattanooga Library Board Responds to Audit’s Allegations Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:32:56 +0000 chattanooga library board responds to audits allegations Chattanooga Library Board Responds to Audit’s Allegations

Last week the board of the Chattanooga Public Library (TN) responded to a city audit released in late August, which criticized Library Director and LJ librarian of the year Corinne Hill and top staffers for receiving excess travel reimbursements (since repaid), and stated that two employees have been reported to the state for suspected fraud for taking paid speaking and consultant jobs on library time.

The audit, triggered by calls from a library staffer to an anonymous hotline, cleared the library of wrongdoing in its weeding and computer equipment disposal, but called out the library’s lack of consistent policies. “The Library lacks documented policies and procedures for many key areas and the majority of operating policies in place remain antiquated,” the report found, adding that many of the policies, left over from the previous city-county organization, had never been formally adopted, and were not in line with those of the rest of the city government.

James Kennedy III, chairman of the library board, told LJ, “The Chattanooga Library Board of Directors looks upon the recent City Auditor’s report as an opportunity to address some policy and procedure issues that may have been vague or outdated.” According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Kennedy also delivered a personal vote of confidence in Hill when the audit report was first issued, saying “We will get to the bottom of it and get it right without any hesitation. Corinne is right there with us. She’s world class.”

For her part, Hill told LJ, “We’re not shying away from this. We own this as much as we own the accolades. This is our mess to clean up. Am I disappointed in some of my staff, yes; and am I disappointed in myself, absolutely; but that doesn’t mean we just roll over.”

While admitting that disappointment, Hill stopped short of offering an apology. “I thought it was more important to accept the responsibility for the situation; to say ‘the buck stops with me and it doesn’t matter anymore who did what, we’ve got to move forward and simply fix it.’”

The board took issue with some of the specifics mentioned in the audit, saying that certain reimbursements were actually in line with library policy and additional leave had been granted though not properly recorded, but it accepted the broad mandate to step up the library’s efforts on adopting new policies and seeing them applied. “It is the Board’s responsibility to resolve the outstanding issues identified in the audit report including governance, compliance, and accountability,” the board wrote. “It is imperative that we do this to keep the people of Chattanooga proud of the great work that goes on at their Public Library.”

A tighter ship on a tight timeline

To that end, the board set “an aggressive yet realistic schedule” to resolve the systemic issues by the end of 2014. Specifically, the board plans to establish governance and by-laws committees, as well as a new member board manual and training schedule for board members.

Hill has specific action items as well. She will hire an external auditor; create a new employee orientation and manual; establish an annual staff training session; adopt the city of Chattanooga’s human resources policies and procedures; publish a clear set of policies relating to salary, benefits, vacation, and leave and review it with every employee; implement the city system to automate vacation and leave timekeeping; and “take appropriate disciplinary actions and job performance reviews that demonstrate the expected ethical performance by all employees.”

Following the audit, system administrator Meg Backus, who was cited in the audit, resigned in early September. Assistant director Nate Hill, an LJ Mover & Shaker, was suspended pending a hearing to be held on September 15. At press time, no results of the hearing had yet been released. City auditor Stan Sewell reported Nate Hill and Backus to the state comptroller’s office, but it is unclear whether any future action will be taken from that direction. “The Comptroller’s office has broad authority to review government entities including the Chattanooga Library. It is our policy not to comment further,” John Dunn, Public Information Officer for Tennessee’s Comptroller of the Treasury, told LJ.

The library board requested that Corinne Hill “consider hiring a chief administrative officer to oversee all personnel related functions and to ensure compliance with all policies and procedures.” This is something Hill had already told LJ she planned to do—“someone to come in and dot the Is and cross the Ts”—as she described the position. Hill is working with her HR department to create descriptions for the new officer and several other vacant positions.

The board also cited the history of the library to explain the context in which the policy gap arose. Until 2011, the library was a joint city-county entity. When the city took over, there was no precedent in the state for the transition, so the library was still in the process of developing the library’s procedures and bringing them into compliance with the city’s when the audit occurred.

“This is really just phase two of our transformation, to continue to rebuild the library system,” said Hill. “I had to make decisions when I first came in, there’s so much, what do we do first? A lot of what we worked on was our outward facing persona. If you’re not relevant in the community you can have the best business practices in the world, but if no one’s coming…? We did bring policies forward, just apparently not as quickly as folks wanted us to…. It is going to be a busy couple of months but it is not going to derail us in any way. A year from now we’ll be better because of this.”

City auditor Stan Sewell seemed satisfied with the board’s response. He told LJ, “I received an extensive response from the Chattanooga Public Library’s Board. It appears the Board recognizes the deficiencies, accepts responsibility as being charged with governance, and is engaged in the process of ensuring corrective actions are taken. The City’s Audit Committee has requested our office to follow-up on the Library’s progress in implementing bylaws, policies and procedures, as well as any employee discipline, prior to their next meeting in November.”

While the board’s response expressed disappointment “in not being provided more timely information by the Director on the city audit report,” Hill told LJ she hadn’t heard anything from the board that would suggest that she will be disciplined. The board response also cited the outward facing work the library has done on Hill’s watch. “As a Board, we believe the Public Library has made great strides in updating its collections, its delivery of services, and in being relevant to a diverse set of customers that are interested in reading researching and innovation. There is renewed interest in the community for the Public Library.”

Lessons in leadership

In addition to learning to prioritize the substance of internal governance differently, Hill told LJ she’s learning a lot about leading her library from this situation. “It is one thing to lead through disruptive change. What I’ve encountered in the last two weeks is leading in a crisis, and that’s…a whole different set of skills. You have to nurture your staff, keep them informed enough to keep them balanced. I am finding that really interesting and challenging in a good way,” she said. “How are we going to keep these guys okay and still in a good enough place when everything dies down that we can keep them moving forward? I don’t want them to lose faith in me and the vision.”

Hill said her unusual frankness is motivated by a desire to share the benefit of this experience with the rest of the profession. “It really bothers me because more times than not, people hit a crisis and they don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “I think that’s a mistake, I don’t think that is fair to the rest of us: we don’t get a chance to learn.”

This story has been updated to include a comment from Chattanooga city auditor Stan Sewell.

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Inspire Inquiry with Digital Nonfiction and Imagery Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:39:35 +0000 Wednesday, October 8th, 2014, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM ET / 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PT
What new, differentiated strategies can school librarians use to support students – and their classroom teaching colleagues – in evaluating, synthesizing, and contextualizing nonfiction digital content? What experiences can be offered that will inspire students to communicate, collaborate, and think both critically and creatively within a framework of inquiry-based learning? Get new answers in this powerful, practical, 60-minute discussion with live Q&A! Register Now!]]>
SLJ 550x196 Inspire Inquiry with Digital Nonfiction and Imagery

Sponsored by: Britannica Digital Learning and School Library Journal

Event Date & Time: Wednesday, October 8th, 2014, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET / 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PT

Summerteen2013 exhibitor register Inspire Inquiry with Digital Nonfiction and ImageryTechnology is making it easy for students to find all kinds of information and images online. Yet the expertise of school librarians is needed now more than ever to empower students with curiosity, match each learner to the right sources that will make nonfiction content relevant, interesting, and accessible, and help them transform what they find into useful, practical knowledge.

What new, differentiated strategies can school librarians use to support students – and their classroom teaching colleagues – in evaluating, synthesizing, and contextualizing nonfiction digital content? What experiences can be offered that will inspire students to communicate, collaborate, and think both critically and creatively within a framework of inquiry-based learning?
Get new answers in this powerful, practical, 60-minute discussion with live Q&A! Britannica Digital Learning experts and our experienced panel members will share how to:
  • Provide differentiated learning experiences for students conducting research with digital resources
  • Provide engaging opportunities for students to create and publish their research findings as a form of assessment
  • Support standards across the curriculum, including the Common Core, related to using search terms effectively, gathering relevant information, comparing and contrasting information from multiple text and multimedia sources, assessing the credibility and accuracy of sources, reading for evidence and constructing arguments, and more.
  • Employ new and practical ideas for using nonfiction articles, primary sources, images, and other digital content to enliven an inquiry-based learning environment.


Deana Beecher has been a library media specialist in Decatur Township in Indianapolis, IN since 1999. Currently at Decatur Central High School, she previously spent 4 years teaching in Western Kentucky, two as a high school media specialist and two as a classroom teacher.  Deana’s driving passion is to create independent users of information.

Kim Blankenship has been a Library Media Specialist for 23 years.  For the past three years,  she has been the librarian at Wellington Elementary School,  a new 21st century media center located in Lexington KY.

Barbara Romersheuser has been the District Library Media & Textbook Coordinator for the Eagle County Schools in Eagle, Colorado for the past six years. Her responsibilities include supervising 9 elementary/4 middle/2 high school facilities and one virtual media center.  Prior to this she has served as a middle school media specialist, Asst. Principal, and Master Teacher.


Doreen Wolfgram is a Curriculum Specialist with Britannica Digital Learning. She travels the United States introducing the company’s resources to schools and libraries, with a special focus on the products’ curriculum applications to the Common Core and state standards. Doreen spent 15 years teaching language arts and social studies.

Summerteen2013 exhibitor register Inspire Inquiry with Digital Nonfiction and ImageryCan’t make it on October 8th? 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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]]> 0 An inspirational woman’s life in review in “Sally Ride”| Audio Pick Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Sherr,, Lynn. Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space. 11 CDs. 13:30 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. $44.99. ISBN 9781494503406. 2 MP3-CDs. Gr 9 Up–Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space, impressive had earned a newly minted doctorate in physics from Stanford when she applied for the space program, beating out a thousand applicants for the job. Her focus was on her work and that dedication led to all of her successes. Published originally for the adult market, this [...]]]> sallyride 226x300 An inspirational womans life in review in Sally Ride| Audio Pickstar An inspirational womans life in review in Sally Ride| Audio PickSherr,, Lynn. Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space. 11 CDs. 13:30 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. $44.99. ISBN 9781494503406. 2 MP3-CDs.
Gr 9 Up–Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space, impressive had earned a newly minted doctorate in physics from Stanford when she applied for the space program, beating out a thousand applicants for the job. Her focus was on her work and that dedication led to all of her successes. Published originally for the adult market, this audiobook will light a spark in girls who do not yet know that the sky is literally their limit. Ride spent much of her post-NASA years encouraging young women to study math and science. Written by Ride’s close friend, news commentator Lynn Sherr, this is an objective look at the astronaut’s complex life with all of her strengths and her shortcomings. Ride kept her lesbian relationship with partner Tam O’Shaughnessy hidden from the public. Even close friends, including Sherr, were surprised by its revelation in her obituary. While listeners will never know Ride’s reasons for keeping her sexual orientation private, this biography will inspire young women who have grand ideas by knowing that this woman let nothing stand in her way. Pam Ward’s narration is straightforward, objective, and suits the book beautifully.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

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Graphic Novel Resources; Collection Development Grant; Green Cooking for Teens | SLJTeen News Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:46:31 +0000 Graphic Novel Help for the Classroom is Here

GraphicNovelClassroom Graphic Novel Resources; Collection Development Grant; Green Cooking for Teens | SLJTeen NewsThanks to three of SLJ‘s Good Comics for Kids bloggers—Brigid Alverson, Robin Brenner, and Eva Volin—for assembling a great list of titles and resources for teaching with graphic novels. You’ll find everything from booktalks to online resources, and a list of publishers who provide book discussion guides and lesson plans.

Make sure you don’t miss Alverson’s Teaching with Graphic Novels, an insightful and well-informed piece that should be shared widely with educators.

Apply for the Margaret Edwards Teen Collection Development Grant

teenreader Graphic Novel Resources; Collection Development Grant; Green Cooking for Teens | SLJTeen NewsThis grant awards $5,000 for a library to use towards improving or expanding its teen collection. Funds may be used for print, non-print and digital materials. All personal YALSA members who represent a public library or school library are eligible to apply. Up to four grants will be awarded in 2014. All applicants must be current personal members of ALA/YALSA at the time the application is submitted. Applications must be submitted via an online form by December 1. This grant is funded by YALSA’s new Margaret A. Edwards Endowment.

Share a Recipe and Inspire Teen Chefs

The popularity of tween and teen cooking shows continues to build, so capitalize on that with a cooking program at your library. Inspire teens with The Green Teen Cookbook: Recipes for All
Seasons−Written by Teens, for Teens (Zest Books, $14.99 pap., ISBN 978-1-936976-58-4) edited by Laurane Marchive and Pam McElroy.

greenteencookbook Graphic Novel Resources; Collection Development Grant; Green Cooking for Teens | SLJTeen NewsCompiled with the young yet enthusiastic teen chef in mind, and covering every meal of the day plus desserts and snacks, this fully illustrated guide offers a range of more than 70 green, low-budget recipes from and by teens from around the world. With essays exploring fair trade and organic food, eating seasonally and locally, and more that aim to better inform teens’ culinary judgments, this book is sure to help readers shed guilt over that fried takeout and take the first steps to a better lifestyle.

For a chance to win a free copy of The Green Teen Cookbook, applicants should email Zest Books a preferred mailing address and a  favorite recipe that they would recommend to a new chef. Five people will be chosen at random from entries received by midnight on September 26, and will be notified via email by October 1. Entrants will be added to the Zest Books enewsletter list for the latest news on Zest’s nonfiction teen reads. Bon Appétit!



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Minding the Gaps, Part II: Highlighting Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Recipients │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:39:03 +0000 The Horn Book’s “Mind the Gaps” event at Simmons College on October 10, brush up on the winning titles that will be showcased by reading the following booktalks and checking out the resources for teaching them.]]> When does a biography become fiction? For which Boston Globe-Horn Book award recipient has Sony picked up the movie rights? What is missing in the world of children’s publishing? For the answers to these and other pressing questions, sign up today for the Mind the Gaps 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.

the animal book Minding the Gaps, Part II: Highlighting Boston Globe Horn Book Award Recipients │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoJENKINS, Steve. The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest—and Most Surprising—Animals on Earth. illus. by author.  Houghton Harcourt. 2013. ISBN  9780547557991. NE : Nonfiction Elementary (Grades 2–6)

One of the most recognized collage artists has done it again. Jenkins brings together 300 of the world’s most amazing animals. From full-spread illustrations of an actual size Siberian tiger to the Goliath birdeater tarantula, which encompasses an entire page, these creatures will have readers poring over the encyclopedialike volume. Bursting with incredible facts—the hairy frog breaks the bones in its own feet when it needs to defend itself; the fragments pierce its skin and act as claws—the title will be read again and again. The final sections include burning questions to the author: Where do your ideas come from? How do you make the books?

And don’t miss the video of how Jenkins makes his books. Check out his website for more pictures and biographical information. The Horn Book’s Roger Sutton spoke with the author/illustrator in his column, Talks with Roger. For classroom use, you’ll find a Jenkins-inspired lesson plan, author study, and a Classroom Bookshelf post in the JLG BTG Spring 2014 LiveBinder.

Awards and honors include: Booklist 2013 Lasting Connections, Science; NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12: 2014; Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2013; Booklist 2013 Top 10 Books for Youth, Science & Health; Horn Book Fanfare, Best Books of 2013, Nonfiction; ALA 2014 Notable Children’s Books, Middle Readers; Boston Globe-Horn Book Award 2014 Nonfiction Honor.

Grasshopper Jungle 201x300 Minding the Gaps, Part II: Highlighting Boston Globe Horn Book Award Recipients │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoSMITH, Andrew. Grasshopper Jungle. Dutton. 2014. ISBN 9780525426035. JLG Level: YM : Mature Young Adults (Grades 11 & Up).

Who knew that the end of the world would come through the invasion of mutant, people-eating praying mantises? Certainly not Austin and Robby, who watched fate unfold as the guys who bullied them and called them “candy cane faggots” dropped a stolen artifact, igniting a series of events no one could predict. Though Austin records the history of the small town of Ealing, Iowa, it is better explained in the words of his girlfriend: “I love how, whenever you tell a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything else that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion.”

Visit Smith’s website for more information about his other books. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. For links to interviews and other resources, check out A book trailer is available and kids will be delighted to know that the movie rights have been optioned.  Find the answers to burning questions about the book’s development in a video interview. Click for the direct LiveBinder tab which contains the above resources.

review rose under fire 200x300 Minding the Gaps, Part II: Highlighting Boston Globe Horn Book Award Recipients │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoWEIN, Elizabeth. Rose Under Fire. Disney-Hyperion. 2013. ISBN 9781423183099. JLG Level: HH : History – High School (Grades 10 & Up).

Ferrying planes across World War II France turns to tragedy when Rose Justice is captured by German pilots. Mistakenly sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp, the American girl experiences horrors she will never be able to forget. She meets inmates that will change her life forever and lives a story that must be told to the world.

Wein’s riveting fictional recounting of the Ravensbrück medical experiments is, of course, based on truth. Her website and blog describe her research resources. You can follow her on Twitter. Readers who are interested in the medical experiments may wish to examine the artifacts at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum or at These sites also include information about the Nuremberg Trials, in addition to the Library of Congress. In 1959, 35 of the “Rabbits,” as these female inmates were known, came to the United States for medical treatment. An article in the Friends Journal explains the project to offer emotional support as well.

Rose Under Fire is Wein’s second Boston Globe Horn Book Award recognition. It also received the following awards and honors: SLJ’s Best Books of 2013, Fiction; Best Books of the Year 2013: Teen & Young Adult; Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2013, Children’s Fiction; Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2013; 2014 Schneider Family Book Award Honor; YALSA 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults, Top Ten; 2013 Cybils Awards, Young Adult Fiction, Finalist; 2014 Josette Frank Award; 2014 Indies Choice Finalist, Young Adult; 2014 E. B White Read-Aloud Honor, Young Adult.

boxersSaints Minding the Gaps, Part II: Highlighting Boston Globe Horn Book Award Recipients │ JLG’s Booktalks to GoYANG, Gene Luen. Boxers.  illus. by author. ISBN 9781596433595.
––––.Saints. 176p. ISBN 9781596436893. First Second. 2013. JLG Level: GH : Graphic Novels High (Grades 9 & Up).

They say there are always two sides to a story. Yang’s two-volume, graphic novel retelling of the Boxer Rebellion presents parallel story lines of two young people caught in a world where no one is safe. Little Bao calls on the gods to fight against the Christians who bullied his village, while Vibiana struggles with her country and her newfound Christianity. History comes to life, bringing the complicated past into issues that are relevant even in the future.

Yang’s website includes his blog, videos, and tweets. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. First Second has posted a teacher’s guide. Supplement it with a website on historical figures of China or the resources on, which include a book reading by the author. You can watch a book trailer on You Tube.

Awards and honors include: SLJ’s Best Books of 2013, Fiction; Booklist 2013 Lasting Connections, Social Studies; Booklist Top 10 Books for Youth 2013, Religion & Spirituality; Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2013, Children’s Fiction; National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, 2013 Longlist; Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2013; Booklist Editor’s Choice: Books for Youth, 2013, Fiction; 2013 National Book Award Finalist; Bulletin Blue Ribbon 2013, Fiction; Horn Book Fanfare, Best Books of 2013, Fiction; YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2014, Top Ten; 2013 Cybils Awards, Graphic Novels: Young Adult, Finalist; Booklist Columnist’s Choice—Best Books of 2013; L. A. Times Book Prize Finalist 2013, Young Adult Literature; Booklist 2014 Top 10 Books for Youth, Graphic Novels; Boston Globe-Horn Book Award 2014 Fiction Honor.

See also: Celebrating Titles that “Mind the Gap” at ‘The Horn Book’ at Simmons Event │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

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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Pew Report Finds Millennials Are Readers, Library Users Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:00:01 +0000 Pew Internet Pew Report Finds Millennials Are Readers, Library UsersThe Pew Research Center Internet Project issued a new report September 10 on the library habits of Americans under 30. “Younger Americans and Public Libraries” examines the ways Millennials—those born between 1985 and 1998—engage with libraries, and how they see libraries’ roles in their lives and communities. The good news is that young people are reading as much as older adults, and are even more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months. Also, their library use is holding steady. Nonetheless, the report warns, their levels of engagement vary in a number of ways.

The report, authored by Kathryn Zickuhr and Lee Rainie, is the latest analysis to emerge from the Pew Internet public library research initiative. The series of surveys, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conducted between 2011 and 2013, looked at the role of libraries in the lives of Americans age 16 and older. The first, in 2011, took basic soundings on e-reading habits. A 2012 survey looked at library services. And a survey released earlier this year, which analyzed some 6,000 responses, was a typology of library users, offering insights beyond straight demographics. All the information collected in previous surveys was then analyzed along generational lines for this report—examining, as Rainie, the Pew Research Center’s director of Internet, science, and technology research, described it, “a slice of data run through a lens that we know librarians are interested in.”

The study separates Millennials into three distinct groups: high schoolers, aged 16–17; college-aged (although not necessarily attending college), 18–24; and young adults, 25–29. Their reading habits, library usage patterns, and attitudes about libraries often diverge significantly but taken together offer a portrait of the ways younger Americans read and interact with libraries.

Millennials read about as much as older adults, with 43 percent saying that they read a book in some format (print, audiobook, or ebook) every day. As a group, they are also as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past 12 months, and more likely to have used a public library website.

One of the survey’s most interesting findings is that, despite the major presence of technology in their lives, 62 percent of the group as a whole agrees there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the Internet,” as opposed to 53 percent of older Americans. Still, 98 percent of all Millennials believe that “the Internet makes it much easier to find information today than it was in the past,” and 79 percent of those surveyed hold that “people who are without internet access are at a real disadvantage.” A full 98 percent of Millennials use the Internet, as opposed to 82 percent of those over 30.

At the same time, only 57 percent of those surveyed believed that “it’s easy to separate the good information from the bad information online.” Some 61 percent of all Americans—those over 30 as well as the Millennials—have a library card, and roughly half of the younger Americans have visited a library in the past year.

However, the report notes that Millennials do not seem to be engaging with libraries to the fullest extent possible. Overall, physical visits to the library in 2013 were down from 2012. Only 36 percent of the Millennials surveyed had used a library website in the past year, and a mere 19 percent felt they “know all or most of the services your library offers.” Although 71 percent agreed that public library services are important “because they promote literacy [and] love of reading,” younger individuals are much less likely to feel that their local public library’s closing would have a major impact on their family or community.


If there’s one thing Millennials have in common, it’s how difficult they are to classify. “Younger Americans,” the report states, “especially fascinate researchers and organizations because of their advanced technology habits, their racial and ethnic diversity, their looser relationships to institutions such as political parties and organized religion, and the ways in which their social attitudes differ from their elders.”

These inconsistencies are not just statistical. Librarians often see contrasting Millennial behaviors in action. Laureen Cantwell, Reference and Distance Services Librarian at Colorado Mesa University and a Millennial herself, serves a range of young people from dual-enrolled high-schoolers to older college students. “I see a lot of what’s known as satisficing,” she told LJ, which means they feel satisfied in their research when a sufficient answer is reached, often at the expense of looking deeper into information resources. “They go with what they can find as opposed to sleuthing out what they need—they’re not employing all their options.”

Not everyone agrees. Kimberly Matthews, executive director of the Trenton Free Library and coauthor of the 21st Century Library Blog, sees her Millennial patrons as critical thinkers who want to know how online resources are going to serve them, rather than trusting what others—including library or Internet sources—might tell them. And Derrick Feldman, lead researcher for the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, believes that a sense of community involvement is crucial to this demographic’s engagement with libraries, especially with content accessible anywhere and everywhere.

All agree, however, that Millennials are a largely pragmatic generation with few illusions that the Internet has all the answers—even as they acknowledge its importance—and that there is a strong need for the kind of information literacy that libraries can provide them. The Pew findings indicate that younger Americans may be open to that message as well. “Millennials are interesting and distinct in ways that people who serve them through libraries would like to know,” Rainie told LJ. “This generation is on the frontlines watching libraries change, and they have expressed appreciation for it.”

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Free Tablet Giveaway on Read an Ebook Day, September 18 Mon, 15 Sep 2014 20:20:26 +0000 readebookday Free Tablet Giveaway on Read an Ebook Day, September 18 September 18 will mark the first annual Read an Ebook Day, an occasion to celebrate and raise awareness for reading on digital devices. According to a press release from OverDrive, a digital distributor of ebooks that initiated the idea for Read an Ebook Day and is supporting it with free tablet giveaways using social media, readers around the world are encouraged to take part in this digital reading day by borrowing from their library’s ebook selection or purchasing an ebook from an online retailer.

The Pew Research Center study conducted a survey “Tablet and E-Reader Ownership Update” among a sample of 6,224 Americans last year, and it showed “the number of Americans ages 16 and older who own tablet computers has grown to 35 percent, and the share who have e-reading devices like Kindles and Nooks has grown to 24 percent. Overall, the number of people who have a tablet or an ebook reader among those 16 and older now stands at 43 percent.”

Reading device ownership is growing. To participate in OverDrive’s tablet giveaway, where the company “will be giving away a tablet every hour via social media,” according to Heather Tunstall, a public relations specialist at OverDrive, use the hashtag #eBookDay on Facebook or Twitter to share your story about what ebooks mean to you. Or comment directly at

“We have seen very enthusiastic responses so far, and look forward to a fun-filled holiday,” says Tunstall over email.

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YALSA Hosts Teen Read Week Twitter Chat Today Mon, 15 Sep 2014 16:00:27 +0000 TeenReadWeek YALSA Hosts Teen Read Week Twitter Chat Today  Teen Read Week (TRW), a national adolescent literacy initiative created by Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), is coming up October 12–18. Hashtag into the Twitter conversation (#trw14)
on September 15 from 2–3 pm EST to engage in YALSA’s “Marketing Your TRW” and share your marketing ideas and advice. For those unable to make the chat, tune into YALSA’s discussion forum “2014 TRW Marketing Ideas.

Also catch the next YALSA Twitter chat on September 29 from 2–3 pm EST, about TRW displays and decorations.

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