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Diversify YA Life: Islamic Mythology & Middle Eastern Folktales

Fri, 04/15/2016 - 07:00

Jinns have made a remarkable appearance in YA fiction in the last couple of years and with it comes diverse characters.

A Jinn is any of a class of spirits, lower than the angels, capable of appearingin human and animal forms and influencing humankind for either good or evil.

Below, you’ll find a list of YA fiction about Jinns.

When Zahara is released from her lamp she finds herself in a world where her magic is forbidden but when the King offers her permanent release, she must decide between freedom from the lamp or love.

This twisted tale changes one plot detail from popular Disney stories.  Whole New World asks what would happen if Jafar was the first one to summon the genie.

Azra, a Jinn, is evading her Jinn duties and masquerades as a human but when she discovers her powers are different from her Jinn friends, she must find out if her new powers will save or endanger her friends.

When Zayele is forced to marry a prince of Baghdad, she finds a Jinn and wishes to trade places.

Nalia is a powerful Jinn who was sold in the Jinn slave trade.  She’s stuck in a bottle and must grant wishes for her horrible Hollywood master. One day Nalia meets Raif who promises to free her but it’s a high price and Nalia isn’t sure she can trust him.

Amani lives in Dustwalk where nothing happens.  When her sharpshooting skills fails to aid in her escape, she finds a wanted stranger to help.

Islamic Mythology & Middle Eastern Folktales Printable Booklist

— Dawn Abron, currently watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown

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2016 Teens’ Top Ten Nominees Announced!

Thu, 04/14/2016 - 10:10

The moment is finally here! Here are the 2016 Teens’ Top Ten Nominees!

This year’s list of nominees features 26 titles that were published between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015.

The nominees are as follows:

  • Baker, Chandler. Alive. Disney/Hyperion.
  • Bardugo, Leigh. Six of Crows. Macmillan/Henry Holt & Co.
  • Black, Holly. The Darkest Part of the Forest. Little, Brown & Co.
  • Boecker, Virginia. The Witch Hunter. Little, Brown & Co.
  • Brockenbrough, Martha. The Game of Love and Death. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books
  • Childs, Tera Lynn, and Tracy Deebs. Powerless. Sourcebooks Fire.
  • Cornwell, Betsy. Mechanica. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books.
  • Dinnison, Kris. You and Me and Him. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books.
  • Doktorski, Jennifer Salvato. The Summer After You and Me. Sourcebooks Fire.
  • Doller, Trish. The Devil You Know. Bloomsbury.
  • Heltzel, Anne. Charlie, Presumed Dead. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Kaufman, Amie, and Kristoff, Jay. Illuminae. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Laurie, Victoria. When. Disney/Hyperion.
  • Matharu, Taran. The Novice: Summoner: Book One. Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends.
  • Nielsen, Jennifer, A. Mark of the Thief. Scholastic/Scholastic Press.
  • Niven, Jennifer. All the Bright Places. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Priest, Cherie, Illustrated by Kali Ciesemier. I Am Princess X. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine.
  • Schmidt, Tiffany. Hold Me Like a Breath. Bloomsbury.
  • Schreiber, Joe. Con Academy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Sedgwick, Marcus. The Ghosts of Heaven. Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press
  • Simmons, Kristen. The Glass Arrow. Tor Teen.
  • Stohl, Margaret. Black Widow Forever Red. Disney/Marvel Press
  • Stone, Tamara Ireland. Every Last Word. Disney/Hyperion
  • Westerfeld, Scott, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti. Zeroes. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse.
  • Weingarten, Lynn. Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse
  • Yoon, Nicola. Everything, Everything. Random House/Delacorte Press.

A full list of the nominees with annotations can be found at

Encourage teens to read the nominees throughout the summer so they are ready for the national Teens’ Top Ten vote, which will take place August 15 through Teen Read Week (October 9-15). The 10 nominees that receive the most votes will be named the official 2016 Teens’ Top Ten.

In celebration of the nominees being named, YALSA will be giving away 40 sets of the nominees through its 2016 Teens’ Top Ten Book Giveaway, generously funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Interested applicants can apply now through May 1, 2016 via this online form.

Learn more about the Teens’ Top Ten at

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International Stories in Verse for National Poetry Month

Mon, 04/11/2016 - 07:00

Books can allow readers to experience other parts of the world than where they live, exposing them to new cultures. Novels in verse can be an especially accessible way to access these stories, since the sparse, vivid language focuses on images and emotions, painting a picture of other times, places, and experiences.

These novels in verse tell stories of struggles from around the world, and are great to feature for National Poetry Month and year-round.

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg

A young girl in rural Haiti has a powerful dream of becoming a doctor. But can that dream overcome extreme poverty and a devastating earthquake? Her interest is in both traditional ways of healing and modern medicine, and her hope is to honor her brother who died as a child. This is an inspiring story beautifully told.

Caminar by Skila Brown

In this novel in verse, the horrors of the Guatemalan civil war serve as a backdrop for a young man’s coming of age. This can serve as a conversation starter for discussions on gender and war. 

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle

In this beautiful novel in verse Margarita Engle tells us the story of the Panama Canal and the people who built it despite incredible hardship and cruelty. This history was unknown to me, and will likely be unfamiliar to teen readers as well.

All of Margarita Engle’s books are fantastic, so don’t limit yourself to picking up just one.

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney

An inspiring and revealing story of a young Sudanese refugee’s experience. Poetic verse and captivating illustrations make this a great book to hand to a reluctant reader.

The Good Braider by Terry Farish

In beautiful, sparse prose, Farish tells the story of a Sudanese refugee family making a new life in the United States. This is a long, hard, and ultimately hopeful journey of a young Sudanese refugee from a country terrorized by war to Portland, Maine, where cultural differences present a continuing struggle.

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Veda is an accomplished dancer, so when an accident causes her to to lose part of her leg, she’s devastated. This story is one of resilience as she learns to dance with a prosthetic and connects to dance on a more spiritual level. Teens can relate to Veda, who realistically experiences jealousy and frustration even as she’s determined to learn to dance again.

Do you have a favorite novel in verse that set outside the United States? Please share in the comments.

— Molly Wetta, currently reading If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #11

Sun, 04/10/2016 - 21:02

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!

I’ve been on a graphic novel and nonfiction streak.

I finally read Nimona, and thought it was a lot of fun. I’m not generally a fan of manga, but A Silent Voice was a great look at bullying and people with disabilities, and seemed to be a very sensitive portrayal of the characters. The teens in my library tend to be drawn to the fantasy and action-filled manga, so I was glad to familiarize myself with this title so I could potentially recommend something a little different to them. I was a big fan of My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, so I was excited to check out Trashed. I was surprised by how much research went in to it! 

I really liked Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and thought it was a great introduction to several topics legal history, and the graphics were really well done. It was great paired with Rad American Women A-Z, which introduced me to a lot of women in history that I wasn’t familiar with.

The only fiction I’ve crossed off my list is one audiobook. I listened to Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and it was enchanting! The narration and sound effects definitely added to the experience, and I think this is the perfect title to recommend to families looking for a road trip audiobook.

I’ve finished  11 titles for the challenge, so I’ve still got a way to go. I plan on reading some of the Alex Award winners, as past titles honored have really been great for me personally and great for readers’ advisory. I’m also excited to read Half Wild by Sally Green and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

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 Instagram, Twitter, and our Goodreads group. If you’ve finished the Challenge, a) bravo! and b) fill out this form.What have you been reading for the challenge? What are you most excited to get to? Share in the comments!

— Molly Wetta, currently re-listening to Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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Booklist: Books to Celebrate Earth Day and the Environmentalist in All of Us

Fri, 04/08/2016 - 07:00

Friday, April 22, 2016 is National Earth Day, a day celebrated around the globe to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Started in 1970 and gaining momentum in the 1990s, Earth Day is great time to reevaluate the impact that we are having on the planet. Environmentalism has often been a cause taken up with passion by teens and new adults, and one recent study shows that during the recession years, conservations efforts among teens rose.

In honor of Earth Day, here is a list of nonfiction and fiction titles that explore a variety of aspects of environmental issues and conservation actions.



It’s Getting Hot in Here: The Past, Present, and Future of Climate Change by Bridget Heos

Exploring the science behind global warming, Heos examines the past, present, and future of climate change, the effects of political denial, and how we can work together, tackle, and lessen the impacts of a warming world.

Plants Vs. Meats: The Health, History, and Ethics of What We Eat by Meredith Sayles Hughes

Covering the historical, nutritional, and ethical impacts of what and how humans eat, Hughes brings in discussion around popular diets; the health and science of what we ingest; environmental impacts of food production; political, ethical, religious factors that lead to personal decisions; and what the future of food may look like.

The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World by Nancy F. Castaldo

Another look at the impact that food production has on the environment with the importance of plant biodiversity prolonged by seed preservation. It also explores the impact of monocultures and genetic engineering on food production.


Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman

A guide to help teens navigate conflicting information around environmental issues that are represented in a variety of newsfeeds. Full of resources and ways that teens can make a difference. Also, see the updated resources and information from Fleischman on the book’s website.

Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World by Bill Nye

Nye applies his scientific rigorous understanding of the world to climate change, showing opportunities in today’s environmental crisis as a new beginning to create a cleaner and healthier world.

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni

Investigative journalism  in a graphic novel format  Part diary, part documentary, this looks at our relationship with the planet and explains what global warming is all about.


Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani (Great Graphic Novels 2014)

Graphic novel memoir about three leading primatologists that have often risked their lives to study endangered primates in their diminishing habitats.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind With the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip M. Hoose (2013 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist)

By looking at the remarkable life of B95, a 20-year-old robin-sized shorebird, we see a species of rufa red knots in peril of extinction due to environmental issues.

World Without Fish: How Could We Let This Happen? by Mark Kurlansky (2012 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Nominations)

Could it be possible that the main fish we eat, tuna, salmon, cod, and swordfish, could become extinct within fifty years? Kurlansky shows the environmental state of our oceans and the dwindling supply of our oceanic food supply, and what we can do to help preserve our seas.


We Are the Weather Makers: The History of Climate Change by Sally M. Walker (2009 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

An adaptation by Sally Walker of Tim Flannery’s adult book Weather Makers. This book  looks at climate change and gives suggestions for how young people can  reduce the carbon emissions in their homes, schools, and communities.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat by Richie Chevat and Michael Pollan (2010 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award Nominations)

An adaptation for teens of Michael Pollan’s book for adults. With facts, photos, graphs, and visuals, this book encourages youth to consider the personal and global implications of their food choices.

The Green Teen: The Eco-friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet by Jenn Savedge

Filled with easy  tips for things that teens can do increase conservation efforts.


Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry-Oil-Powered Car, and a Cross-country Search for a Greener Future by Greg Melville (2009 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

A humorous road-trip from Vermont to California fueled by leftover vegetable oil collected from restaurant grease and dumpsters along the way. Many stops on the way look at institutions seeking alternative energy options for a greener future.

American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (2009 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

Many teens encounter Henry David Thoreau and his writing during their course of study in the high school years. This anthology is a collection that explores some of the finest environmental writing in the United States since Thoreau’s Walden days.

An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming by Albert Gore

A young reader’s companion to the documentary of the same name, Gore explores the causes and effects of global warming.


The Ghost With Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking, and the Search for Lost Species by Scott Weidensaul (2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

A look at the approximately 30,000 species of animals and plants that go extinct every year, and those rare occurrences when a supposedly extinct species makes a surprise reappearance.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1999 Outstanding Books for the College Bound)

First published in 1962 this book   caused enough alarm and outrage that it led to the banning of the pesticide DDT. Still considered a quintessential book in the environmental cannon.

A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation by Aldo Leopold (2009 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

Another classic for nature lovers and conservationists, this collection of essays and photos has been hailed as some of the finest nature writing since Thoreau’s Walden.



Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Younger teens will appreciate this fictional and thrilling account of biotechnology gone awry, and what the frightening implications could be if ever an event was to occur.

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer (2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

A tale of survival in the deep wilds of Gabon, living among a group of Chimpanzees threatened by hunting and deforestation.

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E. K. Johnston (2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2015 Morris Award Finalist)

An alternate world where dragons thrive on carbon emissions. In an alternate  world where dragons thrive on carbon emissions, and people are unable to give up their use of fossil fuels. Dragon populations are starting to boom requiring the dependency of dragon slayers.


Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

Filled with ecological mysteries and online predators this is one wild ride through the Florida wilds.

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer   (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 14-year-old Sophie’s life is upturned when her mother’s bonobo sanctuary is attacked and she has to rescue the apes and somehow survive in the jungle.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (2011 Printz Award, 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

A look into the potential future where we need to scavenge our oil from grounded oil tankers. Young Nailer spends his days dismantling toxic waste heaps, until he finds a girl on a shipwrecked tanker, and has to make the choice to strip the tanker or save the girl.


Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

A modern Romeo and Juliet with the differing sides being over the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park.

Empty by Suzanne Weyn

When oil supplies are gone and global warming is leading to devastating storms, teens join together to lead others to a more environmentally-friendly society.

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd

In this eco-thriller, England is the first country to start carbon dioxide rationing in an attempt to combat global warming. Sixteen-year-old Laura documents the first year with  rationing as things spiral in and out of control.


The Law of Ueki by Tsubasa Fukuchi

Manga series full of supernatural beings in a tournament over who gets to be the next god of The Celestial World. Each being picks a junior high school student to fight for them. Ueki has the power for recycling trash, giving this an underlying conservationist message.

Boys, Bears, and A Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

Jenna, an ardent environmentalist, is spending the summer in rural Canada. She finds that not everyone agrees with her beliefs  and her “Green Teen” initiative is not as well-received as she anticipated.

–Danielle Jones, currently reading The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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Throwback Thursday: Tenderness by Robert Cormier

Thu, 04/07/2016 - 07:00

It’s easy to focus on exciting new releases in YA fiction, but there are titles that stand the test of time and are still relevant to today’s readers. Throwback Thursdays highlights those novels with enduring themes and appeal.

It may seem like just yesterday when you read about the disturbing main character in Cormier’s Tenderness, but the current reader who is 16 years old was not even born when this book was published.  Television and books today are populated with crime shows, serial killers, and loads of suspense, but these books have always had an audience.

Lori is looking for tenderness.  Not the kind she receives from her mother’s boyfriends, but true tenderness where someone will notice and care for her.  She hopes to find that tenderness in Eric.  Eric is also looking for tenderness.  This tenderness seems to always be out of reach, except for that fraction of a moment before death.  The death he brings to others.  Eric is finally leaving jail at the age of 18 for killing his parents.  He claims it was self-defense, but Detective Proctor knows better.  He believes that Eric has also killed at least two other girls, but can’t prove it. This novel will keep you filled with anticipation as Lori and Eric’s lives intersect and as Detective Proctor is determined to make sure that Eric will never kill again.

#TBT Tenderness by Robert Cormier, published in 1997  

Readers who enjoy Tenderness can pick up other thought provoking titles by Cormier, such as We All Fall Down, The Rag and Bone Shop, and Heroes.

Hand Tenderness to readers who loved:

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, published in 2012

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, published in 2013

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, published in 2012

— Mariela Siegert, currently reading Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

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