February 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Magic and Mayhem: New Tales of the Supernatural | JLG’s Booktalks to Go Teen

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The supernatural has long been a popular teen lit subject. Today’s young adult novels explore even more areas, such as controlling the wakened spirits or blending the past and present with a steampunk flare. The mixture of magic, mayhem, adventure, and mystery lend themselves to creepy tales teens won’t be able to put down. Try the following selections chosen by the editors at Junior Library Guild. You’ll find yourself caught in the plots yourself.

Barnhill, Kelly. The Witch’s Boy. Algonquin. 2014. ISBN 9781616203511. JLG Level: FM : Fantasy/Science Fiction Middle (Grades 5–8).

Witch's BoyPeople gathered around the small dead child and they shook their heads. “We should have known he’d bungle it,’ they said. “He saved the wrong one. The wrong boy lived.” Building a raft shouldn’t have ended in tragedy for Ned and Tam, but it did. Now Ned has lost his brother and best friend. Weak and broken, he finds himself in a position to save his village from the Bandit King. To do that he must find courage he never knew he had and make an alliance with the enemy’s daughter.

Love Barnhill’s work and want to bring her to your school? Skype with her! There’s no cost for a typical visit. You’ll find details on her website. Be sure to read her hilarious responses to frequently asked questions. Meet the cast of her latest work on her publisher’s website. There’s also a great author essay that takes you behind the scenes in the writing of the novel. Though teen librarians may not recognize the artist behind the cover art (award-winning Jon Klassen), check out the backstory behind the author’s reaction. Watch a video of Barnhill reading from the book on YouTube.

Lu, Marie. The Young Elites. Putnam. Oct. 2014. ISBN 9780399167836. JLG Level: JLG Level: FH : Fantasy/Science Fiction High (Grades 9–12).

Young EliteSurviving the blood fever seems like a miracle when so many of the infected died. Yet, Adelina survives―hair turned silver and a scar leaving evidence of her missing left eye. Danger lies ahead for the teen, as many think that the survivors have special powers. They are called the Young Elite. They keep their identities secret, as the king seeks to destroy them. Who can she trust? Who is her enemy? Adelina cannot be sure. She must control her powers while learning to trust herself.

Read an excerpt on the publisher’s page. Learn more about Lu’s other series on her website. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritter, William. Jackaby. Algonquin. 2014. ISBN 9781616203535. JLG Level: MM : Mystery/Adventure Middle & HS (Grades 7–11).

JackabyAs a last resort Abigail Rook seeks employment as the assistant to R. F. Jackaby, a private detective who specializes in unexplained phenomena. Though not convinced she’s cut out for the job, Abigail is taken on by Jackaby as he investigates his next case. As it turns out, she notices the ordinary, making her perfect for the job. Anyone can notice the extraordinary, and she will need that in order to save herself from the series of crimes she’s about to encounter.

Meet the cast of Ritter’s debut novel on the publisher’s website. Follow him on Twitter. You can read an interview with the author on FictionFare. As this is the first book in the Doctor Who-meets-Sherlock-Holmes-type series, keep your eyes open for book two.

Stroud, Jonathan. The Whispering Skull. Disney-Hyperion. 2014. ISBN 9781423164920. JLG Level: MM : Mystery/Adventure Middle & HS (Grades 7–11).

Whispering SkullLockwood & Co. are back with another ghostly investigation sure to tingle your spine. What seems like a simple task of sealing a coffin with silver to prevent any further ghostly appearances, turns into a compelling, fast-paced adventure. Complicating matters is Lucy’s psychic ability which seems more connected to the skull in the jar. There are other things in this house to fear besides me. No one hears it but her.

For information about everything from his background to his work schedule, visit Stroud’s website. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. A series site has been developed where you’ll find video and excerpts from the novels. Don’t miss the haunting book trailer.

Yovanoff, Brenna. Fiendish. Penguin/Razorbill. 2014. ISBN 9781595146380. JLG Level: FH : Fantasy/Science Fiction High (Grades 9–12).

FiendishTime marches on while Clementine is trapped in the cellar of her home. She’s bound by the willow roots, eyes sewn shut, and no idea how long she’s been there. After her rescue the now-teen is determined to find the truth. Who sealed her in the closet? Why was she down there? And why is her cousin the only one who remembers she ever existed?

Read the author’s blog on her website. You can follow her on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Additional Resources

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

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

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

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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.

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  1. These are all interesting books to read for. But somehow and to an extent that perhaps implies paranormal influence to the readers.