Friday, May 30, 2014


10 books to read if you're not traveling this summer.  From PW.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them will be released November 18, 2016.  From The Wrap.

Seeking an LGBTQ middle grade blockbuster.  From SLJ.

Request to ban Two Boys Kissing from Virginia high school library denied.  From SLJ.

The importance of LGBTQ visibility in children's books.  From The Guardian.

Dav Pilkey talks about books that changed him.  From The Age.

11 thing that will happen when you go on the Harry Potter studio tour as an adult.  From BuzzFeed.

We need diverse children's books, but are we willing to discuss them with our kids?  From SLJ.

What it's like to hand out a banned book on World Book Night in Idaho.  From PW.

Here's the back story on the hold of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  From SLJ.

John Green one of the 100 most influential people.  From Times Magazine.

What's wrong with poetry books for children - a teacher's lament.  From Education Week.

What will be the next big YA subgenre?  From Bookish.

The career of David Levithan.  From LA Review of Books.

S.E. Hinton on how The Outsiders worked its way into the mainstream.  From Dallas News.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Crunch by Leslie Connor

Dewey Mariss and his siblings are in the middle of a crunch.  There's no gas anywhere, and their parents are stuck up north.  It's up to the Mariss kids to keep things running at home, and it's up to Dewey to manage the family bicycle-repair business, which is booming!  Can Dewey handle all the bikes?  And what should he do when bike parts start to go missing?

I loved this.  Loved loved loved.  Let me count the ways.  First off, the setting was really interesting.  Just looking at the cover and reading the description didn't immediately make me think about a dystopian setting sometime in the future.  And the fact that we're sometime in the clearly near future and gas has run out was what set the story in motion, but it wasn't about the dystopia itself.  Like, you know, Hunger Games, and all those.  That was just the time we're in.  We don't get a lot of information about the world.  It's mentioned there have been gas shortages before.  And that maybe gas running out entirely will cause electric cars to come back.  The police have a couple electric powered pods.  But otherwise, we're just in a regular old world where something just slightly futuristic and dystopic is happening.  Usually I want lots of world building, but this felt just right for the kind of book it was.

The story itself was not about the world, but about Dewey and his family and how they try to handle things while their parents are gone.  The parents are absent for a completely logical reason - their father is a truck driver, and for their parent's anniversary their mother went on a trip with him.  Then the gas ran out and now they're stuck far away.  The parent's don't just disappear.  They call home every night to check on their children and see how they're coping and do what they can to reassure them.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Poet and author Maya Angelou dies at 86

Story from The Boston Globe

Story from The New York Times

Story from USA Today

Story from ABC 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris.

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

The Fine Art of Pretending comes out September 2014.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Buzz builds for Mortal Instruments finale.  From PW.

Why you'll always love YA.  From Bustle.

Something might actual come of all the outcry over lack of diversity in children's books.  From The Huffington Post.

12 charming tidbits about Beverly Cleary.  From Mental_floss.

Lauren Oliver talks about her new YA novel Panic.  From NPR.

Elmer - celebrating differences for 25 years.  From The Guardian.

So excited about Raina Telgemeier's new graphic novel Sisters!  From The Washington Post.

In sad librarian news, a distract in Pennsylvanian has one librarian covering all 15 elementary schools.  From SLJ.

Dramatic drop in reading among teens?  From SLJ.

What it's like to watch The Fault in Our Stars in a room full of teenagers.  From The Huffington Post.

Dear Media, Let me help you write that article on YA literature.  From Teen Librarian Toolbox.

Why libraries matter.  From The Atlantic.

Beyond slut shaming: in praise of the "bad girls" of YA literature.  From the hairpin.

Where are all the fat girls in literature?  From The Huffington Post.

15 teen feminist books everyone should read. From Flavorwire.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Treasure Hunters by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

The Kidd siblings, Tommy, Storm, and twins Bick and Beck, have lived on their family boat their whole lives, joining their parents on treasure hunting expeditions.  But now their mom has vanished in Cyprus, and their father has just disappeared off the deck of the boat during a storm.  Beck is convinced both his mother and father are still alive, although his siblings are not convinced.  They all agree to continue their parent's treasure hunting business, and it isn't long before they find themselves in the middle of a hunt that leads them all the country and into all kinds of trouble.

It was just OK.  I haven't read James Patterson's Middle School series.  But this read like a book someone who is used to writing for adults wrote for kids.  If that makes any sense.  The whole thing felt very forced.  There were no genuine kid voices, or actions for that matter.  Possibly both their parents are dead and they're all just carrying on?  OK.  Sure.  Bick and Beck are supposed to have these epic Twin Tirades where they have blowup fights that resolve themselves quickly.  They were unimpressive.  All the dialogue felt stilted and forced.  The Kidd family is being pursued by a bunch of surfer henchmen, who all speak in a stereotypical surfer manner, lots of "dude" and so forth.

The plot itself I found weak and not particularly interesting.  There was plenty of running about and escaping various things, which perhaps some kids would find fun, but there are so many better books that involve running around and escaping that are better written with more of a plot and better dialogue.

I did like the illustrations that went along with the story.  The idea is the Bick is writing the story and Beck is providing the illustrations.  That was fun and I liked the style, but it didn't make the story itself any better.

One you can pass on.

Monday, May 19, 2014


What it's like to read for a book award committee.  From PW.

Libraries working to bridge the culture divide.  From The Huffington Post.

McDonald's is giving away digital books with their Happy Meals.  Better than a cheap plastic toy!  From Marketing Magazine.

Do libraries serve kids with disabilities?  From School Library Journal.

Meg Cabot is releasing Princess Diaries spinoffs.  From The Wall Street Journal.

There's some good books on the list, but there's some bad ones too (cough Rainbow Fish cough).  Take it with a grain of salt.  50 of the best books published in the last 25 years.  From The Huffington Post.

Middle grade writer Mragi Preus is inspired by history.  From Star Tribune.

The strange triumph of The Little Prince.  From The New Yorker.

How to keep kids reading through summer.  From CNN.

Vintage children's books covers from around the world.  From Flavorwire.

15 (problematic) lessons learned from Sweet Valley High.  From Bustle.

Friday, May 16, 2014

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Elise Dembowski has always been an outsider.  She makes one final attempt to change herself and make friends, and when that fails she thinks she's ready to give up for good.  Then Elise comes across and underground party and finds her passion - DJing.  With it come real friends and crushes, but Elise still hasn't made her night life and the rest of her life come together.

Elise is an odd duck.  The kind of kid who I see in high school sometimes and I just want to tell them to hang on until they can go to college.  That it's going to get so much better for them.  She's not interested in things most other kids her age are interested in.  She doesn't like the sorts of clothes they wear so she doesn't dress like most kids.  Without common interests, Elise is alone most of the time.  She doesn't really know how to interact with people her own age.  Elise gets teased and bullied constantly.  She's always alone.  School is a torment for her.

The book kind of starts in the middle of the story.  Elise is reflecting back on her attempt to reinvent herself the summer between freshman and sophomore year.  She buys new clothes.  She studies pop culture and TV even though she doesn't care about any of it.  And on the first day of school she realizes it's never going to work.  She's always just going to be herself.  Elise decides she's going to kill herself.  But after cutting herself she realizes she doesn't actually want to die, but just wants to be noticed and cared about.

This attempt comes back to haunt her later on, when someone starts an online journal under Elise's name.  The journal says things about how everyone hates her (Elise) and she wants to kill herself.  Elise doesn't know who's doing it, but everyone at school thinks it's really her.

While Elise is suffering at school, she's blossoming in the underground club scene.  She accidentally stumbles upon the party during one of her evening walks and, amazingly to her, makes friends with two girls, who introduce her to the DJ Char, who takes her under his wing.  Elise feels like a different person there.  A confident person with friends who is talented and has something to give.  As DJing becomes more important to her, Elise finds it hard to keep on getting up to go to school each day.  And DJing can't magically make all her problems go away.

Elise continues to struggle with her feelings of worthlessness.  She starts hooking up with Char, even though she knows he fools around with lots of other girls.  When Elise is offered her own DJing gig, rather than be happy for her, Char is jealous and wants her to turn it down.  Elise doesn't know what to do.  She's gone so long believing that she'll never be good enough, never be what anyone wants.  I wanted to grab Elise and shake her and say, "Don't listen to that stupid boy!  You're going to be awesome!  He's just jealous of you!  Also you should probably stop hooking up with him!"

Elise's two worlds collide when her parents see a journal entry on the fake Elise's site that says she's going to kill herself.  Her parents, of course, freak out and set out to find her.  With everything out in the open, real change can finally be made.

The book doesn't end with everything being fixed and better.  But we are left with the feeling that Elise is going to be OK.  She's found a place for herself, and she's found a way to bring that person she is at night into the rest of her life.

It's a great story and also deals with those tricky themes of bullying and identity that can so easily become heavy handed and preachy.  It was an finding yourself with an edge, realistically portrayed.  I found Elise's voice to very true and on point.  Highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Boneseeker by Brynn Chapman

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Boneseeker by Brynn Chapman.

Arabella Holmes was born different and raised different. After it became apparent she wouldn't fit the role of a proper 1900's lady, her father, Sherlock, called in some lingering favors, and landed her a position at the Mutter Museum. The museum was Arabella's dream; she was to become a purveyor of abnormal science. What her father called a BoneSeeker.

Henry Watson arrives at the Mutter Museum with a double assignment--to become a finder of abnormal antiquities and to watch over and keep Arabella Holmes. An easy task, if he could only get her to speak to him instead of throwing knives in his general direction.

But this is no time for child's play. The two teens are assigned to a most secret exploration, when the hand of a Nephilim is unearthed in upstate New York. Soon, Arabella and Henry are caught in a fight for their lives as scientific debate swirls around them. Are the bones from a Neanderthal ... or are they living proof of fallen angels, who supposedly mated with humans according to ancient scrolls?

Sent to recover the skeleton, they discover they are the second team to have been deployed and the entire first team is dead. And now they must trust their instincts and rely on one another in order to survive and uncover the truth.

Boneseeker comes out June 17, 2014.

Monday, May 12, 2014


Eoin Colfer appointed the laureate for children's literature in Ireland.  From PW.

Culturally diverse books chosen by SLJ's review editors.

A Manhattan's children's book tour.  From The Huffington Post.

Catching up with Wonder author J.R. Palacio.  From PW.

The Fault in Our Stars trailer is the most like video in YouTube history.  From BuzzFeed.

John Green is doing quite well for himself.  Quite well indeed.

Disabled characters in YA literature.  From SLJ.

New York Public Library ends its plan to renovate the 42nd street building.  From infoDocket.

The power of children's literature.  From Ploushares Literate Magazine.

Ninjas seems to be on the rise.  This delights me.  From SLJ.

10 lies kid's books told us.  From Sparknotes.

How to support LGBTQ students in the library.  From SLJ.

If Ayn Rand wrote The Rainbow Fish.  From The Toast.

Why representation matters.  From YALSA The Hub.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars comes out May 13, 2014.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Kyle Keeley loves games.  Games of all kinds.  Computer games, video games, board games, it doesn't matter.  When Kyle finds out that his favorite game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, is behind the construction of the new town's library, Kyle can't wait to see it.  Then he learns that the library is having an invitation only lock-in for the first night, and 12 12 year-olds will be chosen.  Kyle is determined to be there, and to compete in Mr. Lemoncello's best game yet.

I LOVED this!  No, not just because it took place in a library, although, fine, that helped.  But aside from all the library love, it was a great story with fun characters.  We learn that working together is better than working alone, and that it's never too late to win the game.

It's also a wonderful book to entice gamers.  You can try to work out all the puzzles the characters in the book are trying to work out.  I preferred to just keep reading and not try to work it all out for myself, but the potential is there and I can see a lot of kids really getting into that part.  There's actually a secret puzzle hidden somewhere in the book.  Author Chris Grabenstein has a note at the end of the book saying that if you're one of the sharp people who figured it out to email him and let him know.  I, of course, have no idea what it is.  But you might figure it out!

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is secret ode to library awesomeness.  Or maybe not so secret.  I didn't think the book came off as heavy or preachy in anyway, telling children they should appreciate their library and knowledge and learning and figuring things out and all that.  It just made it seem like doing all those things could actually be really exciting and fun, and check out all the amazing stuff you can figure out if you have the resources!  So cool!  Go libraries!

Kyle is up against a bunch of other kids to win the game, some who are his friends, and some who are kind of jerks.  His biggest rival is Charles, one of those disagreeable people who are always nice and polite when adults are around but a total bully when they're not.  As time ticks by, Kyle figures out that working together might be a better strategy then going at it solo.  Of course, Charles tries to sabotage Kyle and his team at every turn.  That jerk.  Don't you worry, he gets his comeuppance at the end.

Kyle's friends have different strengths, but they all love gaming and solving puzzles.  They are smart cookies who are supportive of each other.  It's all very nice and heartwarming and they triumph.  What's not to love!

I totally wish this Mr. Lemoncello's library was real.  It sounds pretty awesome.  A must read!
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