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Literary Jukebox: A Tell Me Three Things Playlist

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 07:00

Teens’ Top Ten participants are invited to share reader responses on The Hub. This is a post by Ally Bolin.

Songs Jess from Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (published April 5, 2016) would enjoy.

  1. Every Breath You Take” by The Police
    This song is all about his guy watching this girl with every breath she takes. She doesn’t know that he watches her or loves her. My character Jess has no idea this guy is watching her and she doesn’t know who he is.
  2. Miss You” by the Rolling Stones
    Jess misses her mother who died a year before and now she has to deal with the tragedy of her mom’s death. This song is all about missing someone who you once loved.
  3. Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne
    This song really symbols someone running out on themselves and my character Jess does the same thing. She feels like she can’t keep doing right anymore. She is mentally and morally running on empty.
  4. Somebody that I used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra
    Jess used to know her father but now he is a stranger she used to know.This song is about a lover realizing he used to know the woman he loved and now they are total strangers.
  5. I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
    Jess will always love her late mother even though she now has a step mom. No one will ever take her place no matter what. This song symbols loving someone even after they may be gone or out of your life or just a promise to always love them.
  6. American Girl” by Bonnie McKee
    If Jess was in a good mood she would love this song and would just jam out to it. Jess has a good life and she knows that and this song is all about being happy and embarrassing that “All American Girl”.
  7. Royals” by Lorde
    Jess is at a new school which means she is a target for the mean girls. They believe they are the “royals” of the school. Jess will prove them wrong and show them they are far from that. The song “Royals” shows that the popular or rich people aren’t anything that fancy or fantastic.
  8. That’s What Friends are For” by Dionne Warwick & Friends
    The title says it all. Jess had to leave her best friend and now make new friends at her new school. Jess believes her best friend will always have her back and be there for her.
  9. Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars
    This “SN” person keeps talking to Jess and making her enjoy her new life a little bit more. This song is perfect because this mysterious guy sees the real Jess and like her for who she is, not the way she looks.
  10. Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding
    Jess would relate to this because she wants someone to love her and to believe she is worthy of love. She isn’t the prettiest or smartest but she will find someone that loves her.

Thanks for sharing, Ally!

The post Literary Jukebox: A Tell Me Three Things Playlist appeared first on The Hub.

Resources to Help Teens Choose a Career

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 07:00

It’s the time of year when many schools and groups focus on careers and career readiness. I don’t know about you, but I always felt dismay when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What do you want to do for a job?” I think many teens feel the same pressure to choose, perhaps long before fully knowing themselves and their options. Here are some titles for considering the possibilities.


Careers: The Graphic Guide to Finding the Perfect Job for You by Sarah Pawlewski, consultant

In this one-volume, comprehensive guide, each career’s two-page spread includes what skills and interests would lead to this career, related careers (and their page numbers in the book), and something I’ve never seen in a career book, “The Realities.” For instance, the photographer realities are, “Many hours are spent editing photos rather than shooting. Networking and building a reputation are key to having a successful career.”


Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance from Ferguson’s

This solid career reference set expands with each edition, including the changes brought about by social media and digital technology. Interested in different career tracks? Not sure what a job title means? There are over 820 different job descriptions here.


Occupational Outlook Handbook by the U.S. Department of Labor

Benefit from the very latest information on various jobs, straight from the source: the Department of Labor. The 2016-2017 version of the print book will be out on May 13, but the web site is a nice supplement for staying current between printings. (There is also a Young Person’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, from the publisher Jist Works, but its latest edition is from 2010.)


You got this!: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World by Maya Penn

Teen entrepreneur and activist Maya Penn shares her passion and ideas for helping other teens realize their own ambitions, get motivated, and change the world for the better, with anecdotes and suggested activities.



What Color is your Parachute? For Teens, Third Edition: Discover Yourself, Design Your Future, and Plan for your Dream Job by Carol Christen

This perennial favorite is updated and focused on helping high school and college students discover their skills, interests, passions, college majors, and best-matched jobs.


Online Resources can also be of help for teens thinking about their future careers. 

What are your go-to resources for career exploration? Let me know if I’ve missed any in the comments!

—Rebecca O’Neil, currently listening to Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

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Election Resources for Teens

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 07:00

Whether working in a public or an academic setting, or simply getting out in the community, yard signs and political ads bombard our lives during this election year. So how do we help teens navigate the serious issues, avoid bias, and understand the importance of voting?

By providing a variety of sources and creating an environment where teens can both ask questions in a safe environment and obtain accurate, and updated, information. In other words, we keep it professional and try to keep the teens respectful. We remain a library, a classroom, and professional. Here are some helpful election tools for your teens to learn about the election process and this year’s candidates.

CC image via Flickr user Michael Fleshman


Rock the Vote

Rock the vote is the “largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization” where teens can register to vote, demystifying the myths of what is needed to vote ahead of and on voting day for each state. Celebrities and musicals of various genres are used heavily as PR tools. The goal is to get youth to the polls.

I Side With

I Side With provides a 10 minute quiz that covers foreign policy, environmental issues, social issues, domestic policy, and more. What makes this unlike any other quiz and far better than other quizzes is the depth of each question (Tip: expand each section for additional questions so that you take the full quiz). Don’t feel pressure to know all the topics, the I Side With quiz is prepared to help the most uninformed or confused quiz taker. There is a box in which the issue is explained in a lengthy summary should you need. I was a little surprised at the small percentage difference between my results.

Ted-Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing

This Ted-Ed video explains the Electoral College in a quick, informative layout of a Ted Talk.  Ted Ed offers lessons from professionals with the entertainment of animators. In this video, teens can learn the difference between the Popular Vote and the Electoral College and how different states have different levels of importance.

Our Time

Our Time focuses on issues important to teens. The contributors are a vast group of individuals and partners focused on the issues that matter to the youth of America. They identify as “pro-generational” focusing on the majority views of their generation without focusing on political parties. They use the news, trends, and statistics to choose what to cover. If it’s in the public eye or on social media, they will cover it.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch covers human rights issues on a global scale.  Human Rights are a local and international issue. Candidates vary in opinions on issues such as the Syrian Refugee, LGTB issues, and National Security. Teens can search by issues or countries, can read for personal use or school use, and they will learn about foreign policies and basic human rights issues on a global scale.

Five Thirty Eight

Five Thirty Eight offers statistics on politics (and sports). Whether you care about primaries or the NBA playoffs, any stats fan or people who want knowledge at a quick glance, will enjoy the instant gratification of this site. There is also an Election Podcast if people prefer. No need to go to the website in that case, just search “fivethirtyeight” in your podcast app.

Real Clear Politics
With Real Clear Politics, politics and recent news are covered on a daily basis.  From primary results, interviews, and any news worth reporting, contributing articles are gathered from a variety of newspapers, magazines, and reporters.  It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but the layout separates topics by clear subjects so it can also be a quick reference.  There are also other Real Clear sites: Books, Religion, Health, Science, Market, Technology, and Education.

—Sarah Carnahan, currently reading A School For Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin and The Girl With the Wrong Name by Barnabas Miller

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Reading Star Wars Legends

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 11:00

With the announcement that Disney had purchased the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas, everyone got excited about the possibility of new content and story lines breathing life back into the franchise. It’s safe to say that The Force Awakens did that very thing as it made an approximate billion trillion dollars at the box office in December.

Now we’ve got new main narrative films in the pipeline and cool one-shot movies like Rogue One coming out. (I dare you to try to tell me you watched that trailer without drooling. You can’t. Trust me.) And we’ve also got new books just released or soon to be released connecting the movie stories together.

There are more than just these three obviously, with plenty more slated to come. These are just the ones I’m particularly excited about reading. Naturally, the folks at Disney had to come up with something to do with all of the books that had been written about what happened after Return of the Jedi. The most recent “non-canon” series showed Luke, Leia, and Han well into their sixties. Ultimately, the decision was made to cast these books as Star Wars “Legends.” Kind of like when comic book writers write a super hero’s story that is way different than the hero’s typical narrative and everyone just sort of labels it as something that “could happen” or something that happened in an alternate timeline or reality. Superman: Red Son is an example that comes to mind, where Superman actually ends up landing in Russia instead of Kansas and his whole story is changed based on that scenario.

All in all, Disney wanted to be able to move forward in their own direction with this franchise which is why they made the move. Maybe that will turn you off from reading any of the Star Wars Legends books, but if you make that choice, I think you’ll be missing out. There are some really cool characters and story lines out there and who knows? It’s quite possible that future stories will showcase characters and plot lines from these books. I already think that’s happening with Kylo Ren’s character and a character from one of the series mentioned below. So my recommendation is to read all the new Star Wars books coming out (naturally) but to also delve into these “Legends” and see how/if Disney adapts some of these stories.

Here are some interesting characters that are either introduced or expounded upon in Star Wars Legends novels:


Grand Admiral Thrawn – With the loss of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, an effectively intimidating character was needed to provide an antagonist for Han, Luke, and Leia. Luckily for Star Wars fans, Timothy Zahn stepped into the gap and wrote what is still often considered one of the best Post-Return of the Jedi book series. A trilogy comprised of the novels Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command introduced readers to Thrawn, a tactical genius who takes over the remnants of the Empire to battle the “New Republic” that Han and the Skywalker siblings are trying to establish. Thrawn is quite different from Vader or Palpatine but no less dangerous.

Boba Fett – Everyone loves Boba Fett despite his lack of actual lines in the Star Wars movies and the fact that he meets a less than exciting end in Return of the Jedi. K.W. Jeter’s The Bounty Hunter Wars details Boba Fett’s escape from the Sarlacc’s stomach, as well as some of his interactions with other jobs and bounty hunters prior to his stay at Jabba’s Palace depicted in the movie.

Another great Fett story line lies in the Legacy of the Force series (various authors). Tensions arise when Boba Fett becomes the leader of the Mandalorians and a member of his family is killed by a Solo. That whole series is great but Boba Fett’s character makes it particularly interesting.

Mara Jade – A strong female character was added to the universe with the addition of Mara Jade. Formerly a pupil of Emperor Palpatine, she leaves the service of the Empire and is introduced in the aforementioned Thrawn series. She eventually becomes a jedi and plays an important role in later book series including Legacy of the Force and even marries a well-known character from the movies.

Jacen Skywalker – One of three children Han and Leia have in the Legends universe, Jacen has a twin sister named Jaina and a younger brother named Anakin. The Skywalker children play a big role in a lot of different series including Young Jedi Knights (Kevin J. Andersen), The New Jedi Order (assorted authors), and Legacy of the Force. Jacen’s character arc is maybe the most interesting as he learns more and more about the Force. He begins to see stop seeing issues as black and white and this eventually leads him down a dangerous path. The character of Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens definitely had a lot of inspiration from this character.

So if you’re waiting in eager anticipation for new Star Wars stories and have never had the opportunity to delve into some of the Legends, I highly recommend it. You may find some similarities to the new movie(s) that you didn’t expect. But be warned, you may also find some stories you hope that Disney will use as well!

What are some of the new Star Wars books you’re most looking forward to reading?

— Ethan Evans, currently reading Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray and listening to Dark Places by Gillian Flynn whenever he’s driving somewhere

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What Would They Read?: Rey from Star Wars The Force Awakens

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 07:00

As we celebrate a beloved series and await the next installment, let’s explore some fantastic reads for our newest favorite heroine, Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Here are some great books, new and old, that I would recommend to Rey if she came into the library during her breaks from lightsaber training and flying the Millennium Falcon.

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Emilia and Tio, adopted siblings and best friends, are budding young pilots who are caught on opposing sides of a war to control Ethiopia, the last unconquered African country. This is an engaging historical fiction pilot story for Rey, who would have no trouble drawing parallels between herself and Tio, who is captured by the Italians and doing his best to escape, and her friend Finn with Tio’s sister Emilia, who follows after to help save him.

Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy

In the near future, daring pilot Chase Harcourt flies one of two elite prototype jets in a race to save the United States from a deadly cold war with China. Rey would love this book because Chase is a superbly gifted pilot, just like Rey, who also finds herself on the forefront of a battle between two great powers.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (2013 Margaret A. Edwards Award)

Alanna is a young girl determined to be a knight, so she trades places with her twin brother, pretends to be a boy, and enlists as a page. Alanna discovers her magic and her true identity which continues in a four-volume series. Akin to Alanna, Rey is discovering her connection to the Force as well as the secrets of her past. I think Rey would enjoy reading Alanna grow up from a stubborn young woman to a strong knight determined to protect her kingdom and break cultural barriers.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Beginning an epic dystopian trilogy, Ruby is sent away by her family to a containment camp for children with special abilities but manages to escape. Together with other runaways, Ruby searches for safety and the means to find her family while being chased by the military, bounty hunters, and an undercover rebellion. Since Rey’s family left her on Jakku and she’s waiting for them to return for her, Rey would identify with Ruby’s determination to be hopeful, even in the face of failure, to find her family and learn that maybe her friends can also be a type of family.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2016 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults,2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Teens’ Top Ten)

First in the Lunar Chronicles series, orphan and gifted mechanic Cinder sacrifices her chances at freedom to bring Prince Kai his android, secretly harboring vital information designed to thwart the Lunar queen Levana from ruling the Empire. Rey, too, has a penchant for helping droids and would love the opportunity to read about brilliant and noble Cinder and her later adventures.

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Orphan and former criminal Solara wants to find a new life, buying her way onto a ship run by an old classmate and enemy, Doran. When he discovers her, a series of events land them on a smuggling ship, the Banshee, and chased by galaxy police. Though opposite from her own background, Rey can still relate to Solara who wants to leave from a bad situation, and enjoy this exciting space pirate odyssey sure to kindle excitement.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2012 Alex Award)

Orphaned Wade lives a harsh existence in a slum but is a gifted gamer. Together with a small group of friends, he begins a virtual quest for a vast fortune which pits him against a powerful organization. Since Rey can relate to surviving a hard life, this journey of an unlikely hero might find her interest.

Lastly, since Rey viewed Han Solo and General Leia Organa as fascinating legends of her world, she might also like reading the adventures of their imagined children.

Young Jedi Knights: Heirs of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta

Jedi trainees Jacen and Jaina Solo, Lowbacca, Tenel Ka and the droid Em Teedee discover a wrecked TIE fighter and run into the fighter’s wrecked pilot who has been in hiding waiting for his chance to fight again.

May the 4th be with you!

— Kara Hunter, currently reading Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare and Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

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Women in Comics: 2016 Eisner Award Nominations

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 07:00

It’s that time of year again! The 2016 Eisner Award nominations have been announced and the list includes a ton of great female creators. So many, in fact, that there are too many for a single post. Rather than try to talk about all of these great comics, this post focuses on the nominees that will have the greatest appeal among teens and other fans of young adult literature.

Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover has once again earned a double nomination in both Best Digital/Webcomic and Best Continuing Series. This is an extremely fun series that follows a thief with a heart of gold on her adventures. Two volumes are currently available, Presto! (which was on YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels 2014 list) and Stealers Keepers! Also on the list for a second year in a row is Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona, which is nominated in the Best Graphic Album-Reprint. This one also qualifies for the currently ongoing 2016 Hub Challenge, so check it out now if you are participating!

Also nominated in the Best Continuing Series category is Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin, a series that follows a group of friends through their lives at college. The irreverent and off-beat stories are hugely entertaining and have so far been collected in two volumes. For more college adventures, but with a superhero twist, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson, which was nominated for Best New Series, follows Doreen Green as she tries to balance her life as a secret superhero with college life.

This year’s nominees in both the Best Publication for Kids (9-12) and the Best Publication for Teens (13-17) include a wealth of great titles by women, all of which are well worth checking out. Of particular note, Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola with art by Emily Carroll is an updated take on the Baba Yaga folk tale and is sure to appeal to those who enjoy creepy artwork and a modern take on familiar stories. Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova is also a great book that will have wide appeal. It tells the universal story of trying to fit in and make friends at a new school. Fans of This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki will also be excited to see that Mariko Tamaki’s newest work, SuperMutant Magic Academy has been nominated. These offbeat comics are all set at a boarding school that is slightly reminiscent of Hogwarts, but even more weird and hilarious.

In the category of Best U.S. Edition of International Material-Asia, both A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima and A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori made the list. These series have both earned YALSA recognition in the past as well and should definitely be in your Manga collection. As an added bonus, A Silent Voice qualifies for the 2016 Hub Challenge, so you have no excuse not to start reading it now!

Older teens will find plenty of interest amongst this year’s nominations as well. Lady Killer by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich brings a 1960’s style to the world of assassins. And, it just so happens, that the particular assassin in question is a housewife whose family has no idea about her extracurricular activities. Unabashedly violent and extremely engaging, Lady Killer’s nomination for Best Limited Series is well deserved. For those who prefer realistic stories and memoirs, Lucy Knisley’s Displacement, which is the moving story of a vacation that Knisley took with her grandparents, has been nominated for Best Lettering.

In addition to these categories, new members will be inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame at this year’s ceremony. Tova Jansson, the famed Finnish cartoonist who created the Moomin strips, has been selected as one of the Judge’s Choice candidates, who will be automatically inducted. Beyond this, Eisner voters have also nominated a number of possible inductees including Lynda Barry, Francoise Mouly, and Rumiko Takahashi. Lynda Barry is the creator of Ernie Pook’s Comeek and a well-known educator on creativity who has written a number of books on the topic including Syllabus, a book that is sure to fascinate anyone interested in teaching creativity. Francoise Mouly is an editor and publisher who, with her husband Art Spiegelman, launched Raw magazine which would go on to publish Spiegelman’s Maus. Rumiko Takahashi is probably best known in the U.S. for Ranma 1/2, but U.S. fans may not know that she is considered “the bestselling female comics artist in history” with her work sold all around the world.

Picture of The Moomins by Tove Jansson.

Whether you are a long time comic fan or new to the format, these books are all great additions to your to-be-read list. Who’s read some of them already? Let me know which are your favorites in the comments!

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Month in Review: April 2016

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 08:00

Here at The Hub we hope you all are getting in the swing of spring! Here are some highlights of posts at The Hub and around the web of interest to library workers serving teens.

At the Hub:

Books and Reading:

Teens and Librarianship:

-Emily Childress-Campbell, currently reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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It’s Your (Monthly) Monday Poll: May

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 07:00

Happy first Monday of May, Hub readers!

Last month, we asked which series finale or next installment you’re most looking forward to this spring, and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King was the favorite by a landslide (48% of the vote!). Tied for second were The Crown, Kiera Cass’ final book in the Selection series, and The Last Star, the final book of Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy, with 16% percent each. A Court of Mist and Fury was a close third, with 14%, and The Rose and the Dagger had 8% of the vote.

Today we’re going to revisit a poll theme from several years ago: your favorite YA siblings, updated with some more recently-published characters. Did we leave out your favorite siblings? Tell us in the comments!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

-Carly Pansulla, currently re-reading The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (yes, I did flip back to the first page as soon I finished my first fevered read-through).

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #14

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!


I’m feeling a little shocked that it’s May already (I work in a school; crunch-time is descending!), but there are still over seven weeks of reading time left in this year’s Hub Reading Challenge, and I’ve got lots of titles I’m hoping to fit in before June 23rd.

Lately, I’ve read the latest Ms. Marvel installments (Vol. 3: Crushed, from the 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list, and Vol. 4: Last Days as well, which is not for the Hub 2016 Reading Challenge, but I really really love Ms. Marvel, so I’m planning to keep reading the series as long as G. Willow Wilson is writing them). I also finally got my hands on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (this year’s Morris Award Winner), and am half-way through The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, a 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.


Ms. Marvel continues to delight me because of its many progressive (and sometimes very meta) components. We’ve got a female superhero whose physical form is not mega-sexualized in the artwork, an origin story that nods cheekily to fandoms and the way they inform and influence what becomes canon, an American protagonist whose Muslim faith is prominently and positively portrayed as the source of her strong moral compass, a teenager whose relationship with her family is both fraught and deeply loving, and genuinely action-packed storylines. Plus, jokes. It’s been fun to see the characters reach new depths as we get to know them better, and watching Kamala try to survive her first real crush and save the day (again) was equal parts hilarious and tender.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda follows Simon through several months of turmoil when a classmate sees  – and takes screenshots of – his anonymous emails with another guy, which are decidedly flirtatious in nature. Simon isn’t out. The classmate suggests Simon help set him up with a girl Simon is close friends with; it feels like blackmail. Simon’s voice in this was direct, funny, and endearing, and I hadn’t previously realized it was set in my current city-of-residence (Atlanta), so there were some fun local elements for me. I’m happy to have read this, and be able to book-talk it (I’ll be targeting my theater students, as much of the novel’s drama unfolded parallel to Simon’s musical rehearsals).

I’m currently reading* The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, and have been struck by the quiet but implacable power of grief propelling the novel along. Our protagonist, Matt, is clearly hurting (he’s just lost his mother), and I’ve been very moved by Reynolds’ depiction of the ways Matt can acknowledge his pain, to himself and others, and the ways he just can’t yet. Equally compelling is the strong sense of place in this work; Matt’s neighbors know him, and he knows them, and the specific intimacy of community – when it holds you up, when maybe it feels too close – is very effectively drawn. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes.

What have you been reading for the Challenge lately? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media; look for the #hubchallenge on InstagramTwitter, and our Goodreads group. If you’ve finished the Challenge, a) bravo! and b) fill out this form.

-Carly Pansulla, currently reading The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

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SYNC Audiobooks for Teens

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 07:00

The SYNC Audiobooks for Teens program, sponsored by AudioFile Magazine, and powered by OverDrive, will start next week on May 5th to give teens, librarians and educators the opportunity  to download a selection of free audiobooks during a 15-week program that ends on August 17, 2016.

Each week, SYNC offers a thematic pairing of  two YA books or a YA book with an classic adult book. You must download the Overdrive app to the device of your choice to access the audiobooks each Thursday after 7 pm (EST). Each week’s selections are only available for download for one week, so if you don’t download them during that time period, you won’t be able to get them later, since they aren’t archived. Teens, librarians, club leaders, and educators can sign up for email or text alerts to receive reminders of when they’re available.

Many of the selections are award-winners or titles frequently assigned for summer reading. They are notable for their excellent narration that enables readers to master the listening skills so necessary for literacy. During the summer of 2015, the SYNC program gave away more than 129,000 downloads to 41,000 participants.

With the continued discussions of the loss of reading skills over the summer, SYNC hopes to help keep teens engaged and stimulated throughout the summer. Public librarians have also used SYNC as part of their summer reading programs.

SYNC has a toolkit you can use to publicize it to teens and other librarians by going to their website. There are downloadable posters and a brochure with the list of each week’s audiobooks, and even audio snippets of the books you can listen to.

I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to listen to books I may not have read, or adult books I wouldn’t normally listen to. I really love that they’re free and that I can keep them forever once I’ve downloaded them. I’ve only participated over the past three or so years. Since this is the seventh year of the program, I’ve missed out on a lot of great audios! So you don’t miss out like I did, the list of what’s available is here, with annotations from WorldCat. You can also go to SYNC’s website to see the list too.

VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Katie Coyle (Dreamscape Media) 

Sixteen-year-old Vivian Apple returns home after the alleged ‘Rapture’ to find her devout parents gone and two mysterious holes in the roof. Vivian never believed in the Rapture, or the uber powerful Church of America. Now that she has been left behind, Vivan’s quest for the truth begins.


THE GREAT TENNESSEE MONKEY TRIAL by Peter Goodchild (L.A. Theatre Works) 

Presents a dramatization of the Scope Trial in a small-town Tennessee courtroom in 1925 which set the stage for the ongoing national debate over freedom of inquiry and the separation of church and state in a democratic society.


THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER by Melinda Salisbury (Scholastic Audio)

For four years sixteen-year-old Twylla has lived in the castle of Lormere, the goddess-embodied, whose touch can poison and kill, and hence the Queen’s executioner–but when Prince Merek, her betrothed, who is immune to her touch returns to the kingdom she finds herself caught up in palace intrigues, unsure if she can trust him or the bodyguard who claims to love her.



Los Angeles lawyer and law professor, Jim Gash, tells the amazing true story of how, after a series of God-orchestrated events, he finds himself in the heart of Africa defending a courageous Ugandan boy languishing in prison and wrongfully accused of two separate murders. Ultimately, their unlikely friendship and unrelenting persistence reforms Uganda’s criminal justice system, leaving a lasting impact on hundreds of thousands of lives and unearthing a friendship that supersedes circumstance, culture and the walls we often hide behind.

100 SIDEWAYS MILES by Andrew Smith (Tantor Media) (2015 Best Books for Young Adults)

Finn Easton, sixteen and epileptic, struggles to feel like more than just a character in his father’s cult-classic novels with the help of his best friend, Cade Hernandez, and first love, Julia, until Julia moves away.



THIS BOY’S LIFE by Tobias Wolff (Highbridge Audio)

Wolff’s account of his boyhood and the process of growing up includes paper routes, whiskey, scouting, fistfights, friendship, and betrayal in 1950s America.



EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone (Ideal Audiobooks) 

Consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off, a girl coping with Purely-Obsessional OCD learns to accept herself and take control of her life through her experiences in poetry club.



EGG & SPOON by Gregory Maguire (Brilliance Audio) (2015 Best Books for Young Adults)

In 1905 czarist Russia, an impoverished country girl Elena and the aristocratic Ekaterina meet and set in motion an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and the witch Baba Yaga.


WORDS IN THE DUST by Trent Reedy (Scholastic Audio)                                   

Zulaikha, a thirteen-year-old girl in Afghanistan, faces a series of frightening but exhilarating changes in her life as she defies her father and secretly meets with an old woman who teaches her to read, her older sister gets married, and American troops offer her surgery to fix her disfiguring cleft lip.



THE BOY BORN DEAD: A STORY OF FRIENDSHIP, COURAGE, AND TRIUMPH by David Ring, David Wideman, John Driver (christianaudio) 

In 1953, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, a baby boy was born–dead. The attending physician set his little body aside and tended to his mother for eighteen minutes. Now, more than sixty years later, that boy leads an internationally known ministry that encourages hundreds of thousands every year. The Boy Born Dead traces the roots of this harrowing, humorous, and heartfelt story … the real-life events of David Ring.


ZAC AND MIA by A.J. Betts (Dreamscape Media)

The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t–couldn’t–be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note–then a friendship neither of them sees coming.


I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson (Brilliance Audio) (2015 Michael L. Printz Award, 2015 Best Books for Young Adults)

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways … until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else — an even more unpredictable new force in her life.


HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon (Recorded Books) (2015 Best Books for Young Adults)

When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white, and in the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree.



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN EX-COLORED MAN by James Weldon Johnson (Tantor Media)

In James Weldon Johnson’s emotionally gripping and poignant look into race relations, a half-white half-black man of very light complexion must chose between his heritage and the art that he loves and the ability to escape the inherent racism that he faces by passing as a white.

by David Levithan (Full Cast Audio) (2016 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner)

When Paul falls hard for Noah, he thinks he has found his one true love, but when Noah walks out of his life, Paul has to find a way to get him back and make everything right once more.



DONNY’S BRAIN by Rona Munro (L.A. Theatre Works) 

The acclaimed Scottish playwright Rona Munro has created a remarkable story about a man who wakes up from a car crash with brain damage. Now, he sees the world as the person he was three years ago, when his life and loves were in a very different place.



In a smart, compelling format with updated facts, plenty of photos, graphs, and visuals, this book encourages kids to consider the personal and global health implications of their food choices.



GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith (Listening Library) (2015 Printz Honor Winner)

Austin Szerba narrates the end of humanity as he and his best friend Robby accidentally unleash an army of giant, unstoppable bugs and uncover the secrets of a decades-old experiment gone terribly wrong.


THE YOUNG WORLD by Chris Weitz (Hachette Audio)

Jefferson, with his childhood friend Donna, leads a tribe of teenagers in New York City on a dangerous quest to find an antidote for a mysterious illness that wiped out all adults and children.



SYMPHONY FOR THE CITY OF THE DEAD:DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH AND THE SIEGE OF LENINGRAD by M. T. Anderson (Brilliance Audio) (2016 YALSA Excellence in NF Award finalist)

National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson delivers a brilliant and riveting account of the Siege of Leningrad during World War II and the role played by Russian composer Shostakovich and his Leningrad Symphony.


FAT ANGIE by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (Brilliance Audio)

Fat Angie’s sister was captured in Iraq, she’s the resident laughingstock at school, and her therapist tells her to count instead of eat. Can a daring new girl in her life really change anything?



ON THE JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta (Bolinda) (2009 Michael L. Printz Award)

Taylor Markham is now a senior at the Jellicoe School, and has been made leader of the boarders. She is responsible for keeping the upper hand in the territory wars with the townies, and the cadets who camp on the edge of the school’s property over summer. She has to keep her students safe and the territories enforced and to deal with Jonah Griggs, the leader of the cadets and someone she’d rather forget. But what she needs to do, more than anything, is unravel the mystery of her past and find her mother who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road six years before.

by Nelson Mandela (Highbridge Audio)

The award-winning radio series documenting the struggle against apartheid through intimate first-person accounts of Nelson Mandela himself, as well as those who fought with him, and against him.



THINGS FALL APART by Chinua Achebe (Recorded Books) 

First published in 1958, this novel tells the story of Okonkwo, the leader of an Igbo (Ibo) community who is banished for accidentally killing a clansman. The novel covers the seven years of his exile to his return, providing an inside view of the intrusion of white missionaries and colonial government into tribal Igbo society in the 1890s.


JUBA! A NOVEL by Walter Dean Myers (HarperAudio)

In Five Points, New York, in the 1840s, African American teenager William Henry “Juba” Lane works hard to achieve his dream of becoming a professional dancer but his real break comes when he is invited to perform in England. Based on the life of Master Juba; includes historical note.



PENNIES FOR HITLER by Jackie French (Bolinda)

It’s 1939, and for Georg, son of an English academic living in Germany, life is full of cream cakes and loving parents. It is also a time when his teacher measures the pupils’ heads to see which of them have the most ‘Aryan’ shaped heads. But when a university graduation ceremony turns into a pro-Nazi demonstration, Georg is smuggled out of Germany to war-torn London and then across enemy seas to Australia where he must forget his past and who he is in order to survive. Hatred is contagious, but Georg finds that kindness can be, too.

by Cristina Henríquez (Penguin Random House Audio)

Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better. When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.



From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of “The Port Chicago 50” and “Bomb “comes a tense, exciting exploration of what the Times deemed “the greatest story of the century”: how Daniel Ellsberg transformed from obscure government analyst into “the most dangerous man in America,” and risked everything to expose the government’s deceit.


BONE GAP by Laura Ruby (HarperAudio) (2016 Michael Printz Award winner; 2016 Best Books for Young Adults & 2016 Top Teen Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying.


CLASSIC AMERICAN SHORT STORIES by Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin, James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, and O. Henry (Naxos AudioBooks)

Represented here are 16 short stories by seven great American writers, dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Sharon Rawlins — currently reading The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The post SYNC Audiobooks for Teens appeared first on The Hub.

Fandom 101: The Raven Cycle

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 07:00

Art Print from Maggie Stiefvater’s Society 6 Page

If you’ve been anywhere near Tumblr, you have probably encountered the always growing fandom for Maggie Stiefvater’s young adult fantasy series The Raven Cycle. Particularly in the weeks leading up to the release date (today!) of The Raven King, the last book in the series, the originally small fandom has grown astronomically.

If you haven’t read the books you might be confused to say the least about what the series is actually about. The official description of the first book in the series The Raven Boys is:

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

While this is probably the most concise way to sum up the basic plot of the series, it hardly does justice to how unique and multifaceted it is.  Stiefvater takes another crack at it saying, 

Still confused? But really intrigued? Let’s see if we can look at a few of the many components that really get to the heart of why so many readers are so passionate about this series.

Art Print from Maggie Stiefvater’s Society6 Page

“How much do you know about Welsh Kings?”

Unlike the British  mythology of King Arthur, there aren’t too many fantasy novels out there about the Welsh king Owen Glendower.  There’s a freshness to these legends of sleeping kings that makes your average reader willingly and eagerly suspend their disbelief when Richard Campbell Gansey lays out all facts that argue that Glendower was buried in rural Virginia. As Gansey, Blue and the other raven boys discover, “that there was such a thing as magic in the world” and readers are with them every step of the way.

For readers looking for other stories inspired by Welsh mythology try:

The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

And if you really want to take a deep dive into some of the foundational stories in Welsh folklore check out one of the many editions of

The Mabinogion

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures.”

Art Print from Maggie Stiefvater’s Society6 Page

Though Blue Sargent is not a psychic herself she lives in a house filled with clairvoyant women who support themselves by doing tarot readings for the locals, and sometimes mess around with rituals in their free time. Not only does a very specific prophesy loom large throughout the series, “If Blue were to kiss her true love, he would die”, themes of fate, the past, the future, and whether any of the above are controllable, motivate and drive every character.

For fans looking to try their hand at reading tarot Stiefvater painted her own version of the tarot  which was nominated for best deck/best illustrator by the International Tarot Foundation.

Rural Fantasy

Categorizing young adult fantasy is tricky. In terms of readers’ advisory you can’t stop at “fantasy” and really find readers what they want. In generally accepted terms The Raven Cycle might be considered “urban fantasy” since in is set in the present with fantastical elements and relies heavily on a sense of place. The setting of The Raven Boys is the opposite of urban as it takes place in the fictionalized small town of Henrietta, Virginia. Steifvater lives in a similarly small town in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia and her deep love of the region is palpable in the loving detail she uses to craft her setting. It also allows her comment on issues of old Southern wealth and rural poverty through her characters. The conflicting feelings of loving home and a claustrophobic need to get out and find something bigger and better can be highly relatable for teens, especially in a genre like fantasy that often takes place in both fictional and actual cities instead of small towns.

A Lady of many talents (and internet presences) 

Maggie Stiefvater. Photo by Robert Severi.

The fast growth of The Raven Cycle fandom may be due in part to Stiefvater’s very active Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook Page, and Sound Cloud. Before Steifvater was a writer she was a visual artist and still makes art for her own books. As an incentive to pre-order books from her favorite small bookstore, she paints bookplates specifically for the books purchased from The Fountain Bookstore in Virginia. She also writes music (typically a mix of traditional Celtic instruments) to accompany her books as well as compiling playlists inspired by her characters. Her ask box on Tumblr is perpetually full and she consistently answers questions from her fans about everything from The Raven Cycle to writing, to leaving home for college. Much of the excitement surrounding the release of the final book comes from her constant hinting about two of the most loved ships within the fandom becoming canon, and her promising, amidst shouts of dread and dismay from the fandom, that Richard Campbell Gansey will die at the end of the series, as was prophesied in the first book. This kind of engagement with her young fandom is not without it’s problems. She has put a moratorium on answering questions about certain characters, and has had to establish boundaries pertaining to fan works containing adult content. These kinds of issues surrounding authors and social media are a potential topic for discussion if you serve teens in this fandom.

Dream Me a World of Fan Works

Credit: Terrible Nerdy on Tumblr

The outpouring of fan works for such a relatively small and new series has been incredible. For just a few examples see the winners of the contest that Stiefvater sponsored. Much of the fan art for the series depicts fan’s head canons that cast many of the main characters as people of color to the point that Stiefvater has been asked if this is actual canon. She’s quick to credit the fandom and not herself for this. Due mostly to the popularity of the two main ships in the series: “Bluesey” (Blue Sargent/Richard Campbell Gansey) and “Pynch” (Adam Parrish/Ronan Lynch) The Raven Cycle fandom has created a huge amount of fanfic. Check out the nearly 2,000 works on Archive of Our Own, but mind the authors’ ratings (G is for “gen” which typically means no sexual contact and E is for “explicit” which speaks for itself) and tags to make sure you find what you want and avoid what you don’t want (remember some people already have copies of The Raven King so you’ll want to check for spoilers!).

If you haven’t already taken the plunge into this truly unique and engrossing series and all the fan works it created it’s a great time to dive in since there’s no more waiting for the next installment. For long time fans, happy release day!

-Emily Childress-Campbell, Currently listening to The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (of course.)

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How to Help Teens Discover Poetry

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 07:00

Halfway through college, I still hated poetry.

I kept it hidden pretty well. You’re not supposed to hate poetry if you’re an English Education major. You’re supposed to love anything to do with writing and uphold all of these classic poets and authors who have been upheld since (what feels like) the beginning of time.

But mostly, I got bored reading poetry. Sure, it was something I was capable of doing, but it definitely wasn’t something I enjoyed. Like most students, I looked at poems as a short piece a writer double-dipped in things like “metaphors” and “conceits” before giving them to teachers to use as a way to make their students’ heads hurt as they tried to figure out the “deeper meaning” of each poem. Poetry just seemed like a lot of work.

Then Ted Kooser came to do a reading at my college.


I only went because my English professors were providing extra credit for those who attended. Then I promptly squeezed the arms of my chair as hard as possible for the next hour or so as Ted Kooser read a variety of his works.

I did not realize poetry could be like this, I thought to myself. See, Ted didn’t really seem to worry about rhyme or meter or that type of thing. His sole concern seemed to be finding ways to relate everyday moments in ways that made you stop and think. To recognize something and describe it in a way that you didn’t expect but made you blurt out “Exactly! That’s exactly right!” once you heard or read it.

And that’s when I realized that I didn’t hate poetry. I just hadn’t found the right poet until that moment. I proceeded to buy and eat up all of Ted’s books. I talked with professors and researched online and found other poets who wrote in a similar vein that I liked. Poets like Billy Collins, Donald Hall, Naomi Shihab Nye, Taylor Mali, and Tania Runyan.

Many young adults don’t enjoy poetry, but you can help them find find “their” poet and discover the joys of poetry.

I started writing poems and sending them out in the hopes of getting published. I sang the praises of poetry wherever I went. Here are some ways I’ve tried to promote poetry in my classroom and library:

  1. Go through the submissions process yourself in full view of your students or patrons – I know that not everyone loves to write and even fewer people love to write poems but modeling is so important when it comes to generating interest in students and/or patrons. If you show people that you’re not just paying lip service to poetry but you’re in the same boat as them, sending out your work to different publications, they tend to take it more seriously. I have created what I’ve named “The Pillar of Rejection” in the school library where I work now. I post the collection of poems I’m trying to get published and, as the inevitable rejections rush in, I proudly display them for all students/patrons to see. (Taking the time to white out the email addresses of the literary magazines if they’re the editor’s personal email. Some lit. magazines are run by only a few people!) The students at my school like to come in and read my rejection slips. They’ll chuckle and then look at me out of the corner of one eye to see if I’ll be offended. That gives me a chance to talk to them about rejection and how even the best writers get rejected all the time.
  1. Try to build a diverse collection of poetry – If it took me until I was twenty to find the perfect poet to act as a gateway into a love of poetry, it stands to reason that you’ll need a good collection of works from poets of different backgrounds and styles to meet diverse needs. I think it’s especially important to weave together a balanced collection of classic and contemporary poets. You don’t want to ostracize fans of either group. Contemporary poems are often the ones that are easier to connect with young people but, at least in my experience, those poems often end up connecting me with classic poets based on style and allusion.
  1. Don’t turn down your nose at poetry some might not consider “literary.” – One year when I was an English teacher, I spent a class period listening to and breaking down the poetic elements of Disney songs with my students. I wish you could have seen the look of horror on the faces of most of the males in my classes as their bearded, male English teacher did a word-for-word reenactment of “Part Of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. It seems ridiculous but it was nice to see students connect with poetry through something they interacted with on a daily basis: their music. We’d talk about how when students found a particular selection of song lyrics they liked, there was no reason we couldn’t recognize the poetic elements that were there. We’d talk about metaphors and similes and students would be amazed at the frequency with which poetic elements showed up in songs. Whenever I decorate for National Poetry Month, I make sure to try to post song lyrics from different bands to prove to students that poetry affects them in ways they’ve never thought about.

Here are poems I love to prescribe to people who tell me they’re not into poetry:

Spoken Word:

I think it’s important to show people (which in my case is mostly students) that writing is not something to take for granted. Being able to put words together in ways that move people is a skill. Showing others that there are specific poets who will speak to them is important to me because, as a teacher and now as a librarian, I’ve seen the faces of my students fall as they begin a poetry unit.

“Mr. Evans,” they say. “I don’t get poetry. I hate it.”

“No,” I reply as I pass them a book by Ted Kooser or Billy Collins. “You just haven’t found the right poet yet.”

— Ethan Evans, currently reading Made for You by Melissa Marr and listening to Dark Places by Gillian Flynn whenever he’s driving somewhere

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Booklist: Fiction and Nonfiction for Teen Poets and Writers

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 07:00

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month to encourage the reading of poetry and increase awareness of American poetry.  It is a great time to support and inspire the teen writers and poets who frequent your library!  Below is a sampling of fiction and nonfiction books to help you do just that.

YA Fiction Featuring Teen Writers

Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Ever since her beloved Uncle Joe died, aspiring writer Anna has lost her muse.  This poignant debut novel follows Anna through her grief journey as she struggles to rediscover her passion for writing and cope with the knowledge that she may not have known her uncle as well as she thought.

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (2015 Morris Award Winner, Best Fiction for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Top Ten)

In this novel in journal format, Gabi explores her feelings about her friend’s pregnancy, finds her voice in poetry, and works on her school’s zine.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

During November of her senior year, Darcy wrote a novel for National Novel Writing Month that was picked up by a major publisher.  In this unique book, chapters from Darcy’s novel alternate with her adventures in New York as she foregoes her first year of college to dedicate herself to the publication process.

Nonfiction:  Writers on Writing

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

In this memoir, King shares humorous and heartwarming stories of his childhood in Maine and how he came to be one of the most prolific horror writers in America.  He also frankly discusses his problems with substance abuse and alcoholism and his recovery from a near-fatal accident in 1999, along with a healthy dose of practical advice for aspiring writers.

Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee

Marvel Comics Creator Emeritus Stan Lee chronicles his life from its humble beginnings as the son of Jewish immigrants to writing training films for the US military during World War II, as well as his tenure at Marvel in this funny, colorful graphic novel.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

In free verse, Woodson tells the story of her childhood as an African-American girl growing up in the 1960s and 70s, and how she found her identity through poetry and storytelling.

Poetry to Inspire the Writer in Everyone

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle (2016 YALSA Nonfiction Award Finalist)

In this evocative memoir in verse, Engle details her childhood growing up in Cuba and the United States during the Cold War years.

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

In 2015, rapper and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda took Broadway by storm with a hip-hop musical about US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.  This book contains a complete libretto of Miranda’s revolutionary hip-hop poetry including his own annotations, as well as behind-the-scenes information about the show.

The Watch That Ends the Night:  Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf (2013 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

This riveting free verse novel tells the story of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in twenty-four distinct voices.  Perspectives include characters from all walks of life, from first-class passengers “Unsinkable” Molly Brown and John Jacob Astor to a Lebanese teenage girl on her way to a new life in America and the ship’s rat.  Enjoy this in print format, or the award-winning audio narrated by a full cast!

— Elizabeth Norton, currently reading Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #13

Sun, 04/24/2016 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm on June 23, so sign up now!

Hello fellow Challengers! How is your reading? Recently, I’ve finished What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe, Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa, and More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera and the three books are very different. What If is just an incredibly fun read. I actually let myself fall behind on some beloved podcasts to listen to What If at the gym instead, which is really saying something! Wil Wheaton does a great job narrating and the questions are truly absurd and entertaining.

Fans of the Impossible Life and More Happy Than Not are more similar because they are more serious works of fiction. And yet More Happy Than Not is about learning to deal with memories and past events when it seems easier to forget and Fans of the Impossible Life is not about running away from the bad stuff but trying heal and embrace it. Both were really lovely and I especially liked how Silvera explored the nature of identity and the weight of our pasts in More Happy Than Not.

Right now, I’m looking forward to reading more from the Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list like Challenger Deep and The Bunker Diary. I’m also planning on tracking down lluminae: The Illuminae Files_01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff on audio since I love a good science fiction novel!

What are you looking forward to reading? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media using the #hubchallenge on Instagram, Twitter, and our Goodreads group.

If you’ve finished the Challenge already, fill out this form.

— Anna Tschetter, currently reading Gotham Academy, Vol. 2: Calamity by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl

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Reality Scoop: National Autism Awareness Month

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 10:00

April is National Autism Awareness Month. According to the National Autism Society one of the nations leading grassroots autism organization, as many as one in 500 teens are thought to have autism,  Statistics have also proven that the possibility of boys having autism is more typical than in girls. Teenagers that have autism have most likely been diagnosed when they were young during their toddler years.  It should also be noted that autism is a developmental disorder and should not be mistaken for a personality disorder.  Teens that are autistic can learn skills to help interact socially with others.  In addition, most autistic teens are able to engage in school classes and age appropriate activities. Many teens with autism have been found to have an above-average intelligence.

The National Autism Society found that autism can be hard to distinguish because it is what is called a spectrum disorder. When you hear someone talk about the spectrum, this means the different severity levels of autism that require support. Level 3, requiring very substantial support, Level 2, requiring substantial support, and Level 1, requiring support.  This also means that teens with autism are all different on the spectrum levels and will not have the same symptoms, this is why it is called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Ultimately, autism affects all teens differently.

cc image via Flickr user Vladimir Pustovit

Autism Speaks is a foundation that is working hard to raise awareness of autism.  The Autism Speaks foundation has found that many educators are not prepared to adapt their teaching methods to meet the state standards and the increasingly diverse needs of teens with autism.  Veronica Fleury an author that writes for the University of North Carolina’s Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders has been advocating to help teachers focus more on students with autism and hopes that schools will realize that jobs in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can be ideal careers for many teens with autism.  Fleury has proven with her research that many college students with autism are interested in concentrating on STEM courses.  According to Fleury, “High school students with ASD also need ample opportunities to practice skills across settings throughout the school day…  Teaching them to monitor their own behavior can help them to use their skills in a variety of settings.”

It should also be acknowledged that not every individual with autism supports the message and work of Autism Speaks.

There are a lot of books that feature teens with autism. These books show varying degrees or levels of compassion and understanding to teens with autism and relay the message that we should treat teens with autism with kindness and warmth.  Most importantly we need to remember just because a teen has autism, it should not define who they are, nor should we expect teens with autism to let it define what they can achieve in their lives.  We should remember that the possibilities of positivity, growth, and success for teens with autism are limitless.

YA Fiction about teens with autism

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

This science fiction novel set in the near future where a comet is on an imminent course to crash into Earth stars Denise, a biracial teen with autism who is desperately trying to secure her family passage in a spaceship that may be their only chance of survival. Complex, flawed characters and a plot as thought-provoking as it is suspenseful will satisfy fans of Salvage by Alexandra Duncan or Starglass by Phoebe North.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork 2010 ALA Best Books for Young Adults Award; 2010 Teen Book Schneider Family Book Award Winner

Marcelo, a sheltered autistic teenager is asked by his father to spend the summer working at his law firm in the mailroom to help him experience life in the “real world.” While there Marcelo learns about a romantic relationship with the female coworker, rivalry, anger, and deception.

Rules by Cynthia Lord 2007 Newbery Award Honor Book; 2007 ALA Notable Children’s Book; 2007 Middle School Book Schneider Family Award Winner

Catherine, a middle school student, is concerned about appearing normal. Although she loves her autistic brother, David, she is embarrassed by his odd behavior. Catherine really wants to impress Kristi the new girl next door and doesn’t want her family to mess things up for her. In an attempt to cope, Catherine creates “rules” for David to help him understand how the world works. When she befriends Jason, a nonverbal paraplegic who uses a book of pictures to communicate, she begins to realize that being normal is not all there is to life. Catherine learns that it is more important to accept others than to follow normal rules of behavior.

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Bascom 2010 Middle School Book Schneider Family Award Winner

Jason is a 12-year-old autistic boy who wants to become a writer.  He loves to write online and through a writing forum community he has made a friend Rebecca who really likes his writing.  Jason relates what life is like being autistic as he tries to make a connection with his online writing friend and plans to meet up in person.  The only problem is that Rebecca doesn’t know that Jason is autistic.  The pain and fear that Jason feels when contemplating whether he should meet Rebecca or keep the relationship strictly online where everything is safe and sound is overwhelming.  If he doesn’t take a chance he may never have a chance at a real friendship.

Colin Fischer by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz

14-year-old Colin Fischer is an autistic freshman. He is high-functioning and very smart but fails to fit in socially because he doesn’t know how to interact with other teens.  Colin loves to investigate things and he keeps a notebook filled with his research with his ideas and information that he has been keeping for many years.  Colin is not good at any sports.  In fact, he is possibly the most uncoordinated teen ever.  However, he does enjoy jumping on the trampoline, which has a strangely calming effect on him.  Colin’s first two days at high school are full of quirky events.  He gets sent to the principals office, becomes a witness in a shooting incident at school, partakes in a fight, decides to not tell his parents the truth, and best of all solves a crime and makes some new friends.

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Kehoe

At seventeen, Daisy feels imprisoned by her brother Steven’s autism and the effect it has on her life.  Her only escape is playing her trumpet and submerging herself into the world of jazz, but when her parents decide to send Steven to an institution, Daisy is not ready to let him go.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher an autistic teen boy decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog. Christopher is a super champ when it comes t math and science, although when it comes to emotions, he finds those to be particularly complex for him to compartmentalize and deal with. Christopher tells us “I know all of the countries of the world and their capital cities, and every prime number up to 7,057.”  When he finds a neighbor’s dog, named Wellington murdered he decides to write about it.  The chain of events that occur through Christopher’s investigation of Wellington’s murder unravel a bit more than he bargained for.  Christopher begins to see through his own understanding the impact of his being autistic has had on his family.  He won’t give up until he finds out the truth. Not knowing that in seeking the truth he will  have to endure the most painful experiences and all of the coping skills he has learned will be challenged.

Non-fiction titles that focus on teens with autism

Same but Different by Holly Robinson Peete

Peete is an Autism Speaks board member and her book Same but Different is written in diary form and is inspired by the experiences of Peete’s twins RJ and Ryan Elizabeth.  The wonderful thing about this book is that it expresses how important it is for teens with autism to connect with one another and shares many experiences that teens with autism can relate with.

Autism Playbook for Teens by Irene McHenry

This book is broken into three parts, section one teaches teens to calm their body and mind. Teens will learn practical strategies to manage anxiety and self-calm.  Section two will teach teens how to identify their thoughts and feelings to build independence. The  power of expressing feelings, basic meltdown prevention strategies, and steps to improving their self-esteem are covered. Section three offers practical strategies to help teens reach out and connect with others. Teens will learn how to be a social scientist, advocate for themselves, make friends, and more.

Growing up on the Spectrum by Lynn Koegel

This book offers reassurance, solace, and practical solutions that can help teens with autism. Following up on their work in Overcoming Autism, which offered advice for teaching young children on the spectrum, Lynn Koegel and Claire LaZebnik present strategies for teens and young adults living with autism. By addressing universal concerns, from first crushes and a changing body to how to succeed in college and beyond, Growing Up on the Spectrum is a beacon of hope and wisdom for teens with autism.

Living with Autism by Megan Atwood

Living with Autism features fictional narratives paired with firsthand advice from a medical expert to help preteens and teenagers feel prepared for dealing with autism during adolescence. Topics include causes and prevention, current treatments, alternative treatments, public understanding and support, survival tools, learning to cope, ways to help friends with autism, and living with autism.

Did you know that something that seems as simple as going to the movies is not an option for many families affected by autism?  The Autism Society is working AMC Theatres to bring specials-needs families Sensory Friendly Films every month.  This sounds like such an amazing partnership, they turn up the lights, turn down the sound so anyone can get up and dance or walk around, sign and even shout!

Editor’s Note: Please also explore the coverage of of books feature characters with autism at Disability in Kidlit. For more information on serving neurodiverse teens, YALSA offers an archived webinar free to members.

— Kimberli Buckley, currently reading The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten, 2016 Schneider Family Teen Book Award Winner 

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Movie List: Movies to Inspire the Spirit of Earth Day

Thu, 04/21/2016 - 07:00

Earth Day is Friday, April 22 2016. This year there will be a landmark signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement, a United Nations effort to combat climate change. While it is actually better to get outside and take part in a conservation effort as a way to personally celebrate Earth Day, here is a list of teen friendly movies to get you into the spirit of things.


FernGully: The Last Rainforest, 20th Century Fox

By way of Australia, this 1992 classic introduced us to Crysta, a fairy in a tropical rain forest that was previously free from human intervention. After she accidentally shrinks a young logger named Zak, they have to work together to prevent more deforestation and the ominous pollutive company Hexxus.

WALL-E, Disney

Wall-E is a lonely robot left behind to clean up the planet after it has been abandoned by humans after it was destroyed by mass consumerism. He inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

Into the Wild, Paramount Vantage (2010 Fabulous Films for Young Adults)

Based on the 1996 book by Jon Krakauer, a young college graduate leaves his worldly possessions behind to experience the great outdoors. His body is found in the Alaskan wilderness, this is the incredible story of a young man seeking enlightenment, but only finding death.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind; Kaze No Tani No Naushika, Disney

Caught between two warring nations, pacifist and warrior Princess Nausicaä struggles to prevent them from destroying themselves and their dying planet.

Whale Rider, Newmarket Films (2009 Fabulous Films for Young Adults)

Young Pai confronts the barriers of cultural roles, gender expectations, and generational conflict as she ascends into Maori leadership. When a pod of whales become beached on her tribes’ shore, she brings her people together to save the whales.

Hoot, New Line Cinema (Book was 2003 Best Books for Young Adults)

Based on the book by Carl Hiaasen, this follows three teens that join together to try to protect an endangered owls’ habitat from getting destroyed by the construction of Mother Paula’s All American Pancake House.

The Day After Tomorrow, 20th Century Fox

After global warming triggers a new Ice Age where tornadoes flatten the city of Los Angeles and a tidal wave engulfs New York City, climatologist Jack Hall must rescue his son, Sam, who is stranded in New York City with a very small band of survivors.

Princess Mononoke, Disney

A young warrior in search of a cure for a deadly virus becomes entangled in a clash between the forest’s animal gods and the humans that are destroying the forest for mining purposes.

The Lorax, Universal Pictures Entertainment

Based on the Dr. Seuss classic, this is the story of a young boy trying to impress a girl by finding the things she dreams most of – real trees. He meets the salty Lorax, who is doing his best to protect what little nature still exists, and learns to scary truth of what happened when the Once-ler took most of the world’s forest.


An Inconvenient Truth, Paramount Classics

Former Vice President Al Gore explains and presents arguments about the dangers of global warming, and how we are at a level of crisis. While it addresses the issues that there are those that discredit anti-global warming causes, and  also gives suggestions to how we can eradicate some of the impact of a warming planet.

Gimme Green, Jellyfish Smack Productions (2010 Fabulous Films for Young Adults)

Looks at the impacts of American lawns, and how they are embedded in American culture. This humorous look brings up effects lawns and lawn preservation has on the environment, our wallets, and our perspective.

–Danielle Jones, currently reading Head of a Saint by Socorro Acioli

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Words, Words, Words: The Bard and Me

Wed, 04/20/2016 - 07:00

Growing up with a high school English teacher for a mother meant that nothing was off-limits in our house when it came to reading. In addition to the usual bedtime stories of childhood, my mom often spun a kid-friendly version of whatever story she was teaching her students for me. As I was always a high-level reader, it was not long before I was cutting my teeth on the classics at my parents’ encouragement, and I vividly remember the day in April during third grade when Mom woke me with the announcement that “Today is William Shakespeare’s birthday, and he died on his birthday, too!” This fact tweaked something in my young mind—did everyone die on their birthday, or was Shakespeare unlucky? I never could figure it out.

The summer after fifth grade, we started taking family trips to Stratford, Ontario every year. I grew to love Stratford as a place of picnics, pretty scenery, and great theater; but more than that, I loved the challenge it posed. The first trip, we saw a musical, but the summer after sixth grade, it was The Taming of the Shrew, and a few weeks before we went, Mom pulled down her battered Shakespeare anthology from a shelf and presented it to me. I remember the feeling of awe and intimidation that washed through me when I held it—this was my mom’s book, it even had her name in the cover from her college days, and it felt precious, almost holy. Shakespeare was harder than any of the classics I had read before, but I had my mom to help me with the hard parts. Seeing the play after reading it was a magical experience. I knew what was going to happen, but the effect of seeing the words on the page brought to life in the dark hush of Stratford’s Festival Theatre was something else entirely. This was the beginning of a lifelong love affair between the Bard and me. Every summer we saw a play. Every year I would take out Mom’s Shakespeare anthology and read it before I saw it. By the time high school rolled around, I had several plays and most of the sonnets tucked away in my mind.

High school brought the chance to experience even more Shakespeare in the classroom: Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Hamlet. Mom was still my guide when I needed one, though more often than not, I would refer to her Shakespeare anthology, which had long since been relocated from her bookshelf to mine, for her notes before asking questions. My senior year was also Mom’s first year teaching Senior English, so even though she was not my teacher then, we waded through much of the curriculum together, including many long discussions of Hamlet’s angst and in-depth analysis of Prospero’s final speech in The Tempest.

College came along, and Mom’s Shakespeare went with me. I did not decide to major in English until I was a sophomore, but the book was a little piece of home. After sophomore year, I got the chance of a lifetime—a one-month intensive seminar on Shakespeare and his contemporaries in London and Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

Seeing live Shakespearean plays after reading them never lost that magical quality, and nowhere has it ever been stronger than on that trip. By day, we studied, but not just textbook studying. We read the histories as a group over a shared spaghetti dinner before we saw all three parts of Henry VI and Richard III, four plays in rapid succession in just over twenty-four hours. We spent a day at Hampton Court Palace, another at the Tower of London, and learned a deeper context for Shakespeare’s writings as we saw production after production. We went to the Globe, ate lunches in pubs where Shakespeare had done his writing, stretched out on the lawn of the Houses of Parliament under the shadow of Big Ben to do homework. Not only was I seeing the best live Shakespeare plays the world has to offer, I was literally walking in the footsteps of my hero. Learning in this context made the stories even more accessible and made me appreciate them that much more. I was more than grateful for the experience, but I thought it would end up being a fun memory, not anything I would ever use in real life.

I was wrong about that. This appreciation has spread into my professional life. One of my jobs now is to manage the high school required reading collection for my library. I can commiserate with students’ intimidation, but I can also put the plays they are reading into the context of modern YA novels. Romeo and Juliet is the original star-crossed lovers story. Hamlet’s angst and indecision has deadly consequences, but today’s teens may feel the same angst over choosing a college. Modern YA literature, too, is full of the same tropes as Shakespeare used, and Shakespeare retellings abound, so the stories are more accessible now than ever. One of my favorite displays for my teen space is “Not Your Teacher’s Classics,” featuring classics displayed next to modern retellings—always loaded with the Bard.

As an adult and a professional, Shakespeare still has a profound effect on my life. Mom’s anthology has pride of place in my home, the trips to Stratford and England filed away in my memory. My cat is named Bianca after the sweet sister in The Taming of the Shrew, because you never forget your first Shakespeare. My love affair with the Bard has a long history and a bright future. I hope that the combination of my passion and the current accessibility of Shakespeare brings those stories to life for my teens, and ignites that same passion in future generations.

— Elizabeth Norton, currently reading Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #12

Tue, 04/19/2016 - 13:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm on June 23, so sign up now!


It took me awhile, but I finally finished lluminae: The Illuminae Files_01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, which I read and loved, though I sort of wish I’d listened to it instead (it’s a 2016 Top Ten Amazing Audiobook.)  I was swept away by the action almost instantly, but the format…the format was so disruptive for me I found reading it a bit of a struggle.  I generally enjoy books with unusual storytelling–epistolary, journal entries, and the like–but the actual printed formatting of lluminae kept pulling me out of the experience as I scanned to see which bits I could skip (I found the document headings and page detritus were pretty repetitive and unnecessary except as decoration to add an air of authenticity.)  Plus, I found turning the book this way and that in order to read one particular characters’ sections was difficult; lluminae is not a small book!

All that said, the story itself was excellent.  Compelling characters, solid plot twists, some truly scary (and disturbing) passages, and a satisfying-but-open conclusion made me very glad I stuck with it.  As a friend of mine said, lluminae was good enough that it didn’t require any gimmicky formatting; I’m curious to check out the audiobook to see how that changes my reading experience.

Have you read or listened to anything you want to try again in a different format?  What are you reading or listening to now?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media using the #hubchallenge on Instagram, Twitter, and our Goodreads group.

If you’ve finished the Challenge already, fill out this form.

— Julie Bartel, currently reading Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and one of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs mysteries

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Booklist: YA Fiction for Fans of Game of Thrones

Tue, 04/19/2016 - 07:00

WINTER IS COMING; I promise it is and it arrives on April 24th.

Game of Thrones is very violent and very sexual; do teens watch really watch it? Yes! Some of them even watch it with their parents.  Why is Game of Thrones so popular?  It’s about maniacal kings and powerful women and dragons and war and magic. What’s not to like?

Whichever theme your teens find intriguing, there’s a book for that.

Maniacal Rulers

A reimagining of Alexander the Great where seven people have secrets and missions.

Laia is a Scholar, the lowest of the low, and her brother has been taken by The Masks.  He is her only living family member and she will risk her life to find him.  Elias is a Mask but he doesn’t want to be.  Laia and Elias’ paths cross when Laia goes undercover as a slave at Elias’ military school to get information on her brother.

King Gaius has a plan to take over Mytica at the expense of everyone including his son, Magus.

Powerful Women

Celaena Sardothian is plucked from the salt mines prisons as The Crowned Prince’s Champion to compete to be the king’s personal assassin.  Calaena must fight men three times her size, magical queens, and her own demons to become champion.

Lia, a First Daughter, is betrothed to a prince she has never met to bring peace to the kingdoms.  Lia believes in love and doesn’t want to be used as a pawn so she runs.  In her new life, Lia meets two charming men; however, one is the prince determined win her love and bring her back and one is an assassin who is hired to kill her.

Kelsea, the daughter of dead Queen Elyssa, reemerges to claim the throne.  Her uncle, the Red Queen, of the neighboring kingdom, and others will stop at nothing to kill Kelsea.

Ismae, Sybella, and Annith have escaped horrible circumstances to join a convent of assassin nuns to fight for St. Mortain, the God of Death.

Elli is the Saadelah, next in line to be queen, and has accepted her duty to serve and protect the Kupari people with ice and fire magic.  When her time to reign has suddenly begun, something goes tragically wrong and Elli is forced to hide in the Outlands with the thieves and murderers.  Her time in the Outlands is full of family, love, and a new purpose.

Safi, a Truthwitch, and Iseult, a Threadwitch, just want to escape their lives as they know it to be free and live in peace but Safi made a big mistake and now they are on the run.

Mythical Creatures

Seraphina has a secret; she’s half draconian. When a member of the royal family is murdered by a dragon, Seraphina must keep her secret while finding the murderer even if it’s her family.

Fletcher, an orphan, learns he has the unique ability to summon demons.  After a near attack from neighborhood teens, Fletcher goes to a elite school to train but he soon finds out that he must compete with noble’s kids who will stop at nothing to be the best.

Nic is a slave in Ancient Rome and on a mission to raid Julius Caesar’s tomb, he finds Caeser’s bulla.  After he puts the bulla around his neck, he gains world ending powers that are coveted by the good and the bad.

Kyra is an orphan and a fast climber and she survives by her whits.  Once day, she is summed by the Assassin’s Guild to become an assassin but she realizes that this might be a mistake.

After killing a wolf, Feyra’s punishment is to live in a giant mansion.  She soon discovers that her captor isn’t an animal but a honorable fey.


Kestral is a Valorian and the General’s daughter.  Arin is a Herrani slave who is purchased by Kestral. Kestral has the gift of seeing lies but can she see Arin’s lies?

Mare Barrow is a Red-a lowly, uneducated, slave with disgusting red blood.  The Silvers are like gods because they have powers and their veins run with silver blood.  Mare doesn’t want to be drafted but she has no choice until a stranger changes her life.  She soon finds herself betrothed to a Silver prince and forced to maintain the oppression of the Reds.

The Kingdom of Winter has been overturned and stripped of their magic.  The eight survivors go on a quest to retake their kingdom and their magic.

The royal family has been murdered and their confidant, Connor, goes on a mission to find their missing eldest son to take the throne.  The crowned prince, however, is lost and Connor finds orphans to train to impersonate the prince.

Lea is a hired assassin and a devout follower of Safraella, the goddess of death and resurrection. Lea’s relationship with a member of a feuding family causes strife and Lea finds herself fighting to survive.


Elizabeth is a witch hunter and when she is accused of witchcraft; she becomes the hunted.

Katsa is a graceling-someone who can kill with one touch.  She’s the king, her uncle’s, personal assassin but when she meets Po she discovers new things about herself.

Wilhelmina was a princess until her parents and her country was destroyed by the King.  Now orphaned, Wil and has been tasked to spy on the royal family and if their cover is blown, it could mean death.

Kel can walk through worlds and he uses this special ability to smuggle and trade antiques.  When his smuggling almost kills him, Delilah comes to his rescue.

Printable of Game of Thrones read a likes.

— Dawn Abron, currently binge-watching Making a Murderer

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Resources for Discussing Human Trafficking with Teens

Mon, 04/18/2016 - 07:00

The idea for this post came from watching the documentary Playground: The Child Sex Trade in America published in 2009 through Netflix. I was disturbed to say the least and then just a few short weeks later, I read E.R. Frank’s Dime (2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults) about a girl lured into the sex industry. Frank’s gripping portrayal of pimping and prostituting is vivid, unforgiving, and gut-wrenching. But how much do students know about sexual slavery and sex trafficking?

Tenth grade students at the high school where I work do a unit on social justice. Their choices for a topic frequently center around sex trafficking because Patricia McCormick’s Sold is a part of their class reading. So what kinds of resources are available to help students learn about these topics, from the shocking statistics about its frequency in the United States, when so many shows, documentaries, and books focus on Asian countries?

I’d recommend starting with another video, created by Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, and published online. Tricked: Inside the World of Teen Sex Trafficking “will help students understand and spot the scouting and manipulating techniques that are commonly used by traffickers. Using testimony from survivors of sex trafficking, as well as insider information from a former trafficker, we talk about how to avoid susceptible behaviors. We also provide insights on how to get help if students or their friends get trapped in this terrible situation.”

The Polaris Project is another great resource because it not only focuses on sex trafficking but labor trafficking and in addition to information and facts, there is a hotline and information on how to help. For many students, projects where they can begin to advocate on behalf of others is the next logical step after reading about the issues. Contributing to issues of global importance empower our students.

If reading is where you want to start to introduce the topic, suggested titles include The Queen of Water by Laura Resau and María Virginia Farinango, Tricks and Traffick by Ellen Hopkins, Sold by Patricia McCormick, On The Edge by Allison van Diepen, and a new book published this month called Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw, which is set in India and features two girls on different sides of culture and class intersect.

And as with the above referenced video from Fairfax, if videos and documentaries are a way to pique interest, watch Tricked: Inside the World of Teen Sex Trafficking, Chosen, In Plain Sight, Half the Sky, or Girl Rising.

Either way, a conversation needs to happen with students in the United States to make them aware of the dangers that lurk within their community, within their country, and around the world regarding sexual slavery. The more light that is shed on this $150 billion dollar global industry, the easier it will be to identify and combat it.

— Alicia Abdul, currently between books

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