March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

New Titles for Fans of Holly Black, Chris Crutcher, and More | JLG’s Teen On the Radar

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Thrilling plotlines bring familiar characters into circumstances that might send most teens running for help. Guarding a door while his partner steals five dollars is nothing compared to Antsy’s associate’s real goal. Who would have thought that fifteen minutes in the back seat of a Volkswagen would lead to events that rock the town? Teens go to wild parties every night, yet one turns fatal for all but three survivors (and one of them is already dead). At fourteen, Matteo runs a drug empire. Stranger than life, and more engrossing, the following novels, selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild, mark the return of favorite authors.

Coldest Girl in ColdtownBLACK, Holly. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Little, Brown. 2013. ISBN 9780316213103. JLG Level: CTH : Current Trends High (Gr 9 & Up).

Tana’s complex life changes abruptly after a sundown party where a window is opened. Someone should have known better. Coldtown has kept vampires and the infected inside their walls, so attacks occur far less often. This time it is different. Everyone is dead except for Tana, and her escape from the vampires may have infected her. Her ex-boyfriend is seriously infected, but the teen’s past experience drives her to try to save him. A chained vampire comes along for the ride. Can she get to Coldtown before it’s too late? She doesn’t want to be a vampire, but will she have any choice? Black writes with just enough humor to keep a dark and oft-told tale fresh and entertaining.

CRUTCHER, Chris. Period.8. Greenwillow. 2013. ISBN 9780061914812. JLG Level: HI : High-Interest High School (Gr 10 & up).

Period.8Lots of kids have study halls―classes where you can do homework, eat lunch, or take a nap. Mr. Logs runs Period 8 like Las Vegas. Kids can talk about whatever they like― what happens there, stays there. When Paulie tells Hannah he had sex with another girl, it becomes class discussion. In her anger, Hannah refuses to listen to his explanation. Then a classmate goes missing. The connection between the two events becomes clearer when Paulie realizes that not everyone in Period 8 is telling the truth. Someone is lying. Kids are in trouble, and they are all in danger. In classic Crutcher-style, realistic teen issues drive a gripping plot with a staggering conclusion.

FARMER, Nancy. The Lord of Opium. S & S/Atheneum. 2013. ISBN 9781442482548. JLG Level: FH : Fantasy/Science Fiction High (Gr 9-12)

Matt never expected to live forever; he was cloned for spare parts for El Patron. With the death of his master, he inherits all possessions and becomes the drug lord of the Land of Opium at age fourteen. With power comes responsibility. Matt sees the opportunity to use his authority to investigate genetic experiments and perhaps end the inhumane treatment of microchipped slaves. His country also has a biosphere with animals long extinct, and scientists who could potentially save the world. However, the Dope Confederacy that surrounds his country is hungry for his resources, while the United Nations has its own agenda. Can he avoid an invasion from enemies outside Opium while struggling with adversaries within?  What must he sacrifice towards the goal of saving them all? Farmer’s sequel to The House of the Scorpion (S & S, 2002) delves further into ethical issues of scientific research and moral treatment of those in servitude.

SHUSTERMAN, Neal. Ship Out of Luck. Dutton. 2013. ISBN 9780525422266. JLG Level: Y : Young Adults (Gr 9 & up).

Antsy is back (Antsy Does Time, 2008) and more entertaining than ever. The Bonano family joins Old Man Crawley for a Caribbean cruise to celebrate his eightieth birthday―”a suitable gift is expected.” Before the ship even leaves the dock, Antsy finds himself in a dilemma―help a cute girl named Tilde who is involved in criminal activities or take a chance that she might blow the whistle on his own less-than-ethical deeds. In his quandary, Antsy leaves the details to Tilde, who takes him into Hello-Hello, which according to his cabbie means “Hell of Hells. It’s the place you drop through de bottom of all de other places.” It is a destination where you pay for both ways before you drive anywhere. Spending time with a stowaway who has a political agenda may not be what Antsy expected for his all-expenses-paid vacation. What transpires will be life-changing, and not just for him. A hilarious romp that will have readers laughing out loud.

For audio/video versions of these booktalks, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild 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


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Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.

Empowering Teens: Fostering the Next Generation of Advocates
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