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26. An Inclusive Summer Reading 2015 List for Kids and Young Adults

Early in 2015, Edith Campbell invited a handful of colleagues who share a passion for children, literacy, and diversity to work with her on a Summer Reading list. She invited us to suggest titles we had read and wanted to recommend. As conversations took place, the focus of the list became clear.

Books we recommend are ones written or illustrated by Native Americans or writers/illustrators of color. We want readers to become familiar with the names on the list and their creative work. As you'll see, not all the books are stories about Native Americans or People of Color, and some are ones in which characters are LGBTQIA or disabled.

Photo by Edith Campbell
As you look over the list, you'll see it is divided into three categories: picture books, middle grade, and young adult. Though we didn't compile the titles using a checklist, we ended up with a list that includes contemporary and historical fiction. There's speculative fiction and nonfiction as well. Some are new, and some are older. The list includes a graphic novel, too. Some titles are from major publishers, some are from small publishers, and some are self-published. And, some are available as audiobooks or e-books.

The Native writers and illustrators we included on the list are Wesley Ballinger, Eric Gansworth, Cheryl Minnema, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Tim Tingle.

We are Edith Campbell, Sarah Park Dahlen, Sujei Lugo, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Debbie Reese, and Ebony Elizabeth Thomas. We aren't an organization. We are six people who read and talk about books with each other and on social media.

We are sharing the list as widely as possible across media platforms to reach as many people as possible. We hope you'll order these books if you don't already have them, and, we hope you'll feature them in your summer programming and year-round, too.

On Facebook:

At Edith Campbell's blog, Crazy QuiltEdi

At Nathalie Mvondo's blog: Multiculturalism Rocks

At Lyn-Miller Lachmann's blog: 

At Debbie Reese's Tumblr:

On Nathalie Mvondo's account at Pinterest, we divided the books into three lists:

You can download a pdf and take it with you to the store or library:
The annotated list is 16 pages long.
The list of titles (without annotations) is 6 pages long.

In whatever way you prefer, we hope you read and share the list with family, friends, and at your local library, too! Meanwhile, we'll be reading and thinking about our 2016 list. 

Last road trip I took, I listened to the audiobook of Gansworth's If I Ever Get Out of Here. Hearing Gansworth read it, different parts of the story jumped out at me. I was surprised to find myself tearing up at some parts. As I head out later this week on a road trip, I'll finish listening to X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon. It will probably end up on the 2016 list we put together. 

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27. Instagram of the Week - May 25

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

This week we're looking at two popular hashtags that you can use to connect with patrons and other libraries around the world. Started by the Bernardsville Public Library in Bernardsville, New Jersey, the #libraryinmyhand hashtag is a way to show patrons all of the library resources that can be accessed from mobile devices in the palm of their hands. Based on the #instainmyhand pictures that are popular in Japan, the PicsArt Photo Studio app is used to layer a transparent screenshot of the library's website, databases, or social media pages on top of a photo of a hand. Although only in use for two weeks, the #libraryinmyhand hashtag has already been used by public, school, and academic libraries worldwide.

A second popular hashtag is #librariesofinstagram which serves as a way for libraries using the social media platform to unite and showcase their institutions. This hashtag is used on everything from photos of the library building itself, programs, collections, displays, games and trivia, and fundraising campaigns.

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28. FIVE Books to Giveaway plus New YALit Releases 5/25 - 5/31 with Author Interviews

Since today is Memorial Day, we want to say how much we appreciate the brave women and men who are past or present members of the armed forces and honor the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you for your service.

We also want to share eighteen new books releasing this week, with eight author interviews, and five giveaways of four of the titles. Let us know in the comments which ones you're itching to read.

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Martina, Jan, Shelly, Susan, Lisa, and Erin

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


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Kissing in America
by Margo Rabb
Signed ARC Giveaway (2 Copies)
U.S. Only

HarperCollins
Released 5/26/2015

I loved romances because when you opened the first page, you knew the story would end well. Your heart wouldn't be broken. I loved that security, that guaranteed love.

In real life, you never knew the ending. I hated that.

Sixteen-year-old Eva has never been in love. But when she meets Will, everything changes. With him, her grief over her father's death fades, and she can escape from her difficult relationship with her mother. Then, without any warning, Will picks up and moves to California. So Eva—with the help of her best friend, Annie—concocts a plan to travel across the country to see him again. As they leave New York City for the first time and road-trip across America, they encounter cowboys, kudzu, and tiny towns without stoplights. Along the way, Eva and Annie learn the truth about love and all its complexities.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Kissing in America?

I loved writing about Eva as a poet, her connection to writing and her struggle to write again, and including poems in the novel. KISSING IN AMERICA includes many classic and contemporary poems, by W. H. Auden, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, Nikki Giovanni, Marie Howe, and others, and I loved including those in the book (although getting permission was quite a lot of work!)

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Emancipated
by M. G. Reyes
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/26/2015

The good girl, the bad boy, the diva, the hustler, the rock star, and the nerd. Six teens legally liberated from parental control for six different reasons, all with one thing in common: something to hide.

Now they’re sharing a house in Venice Beach, acting like a family, and living their lies. No parents. No limits. No alibis. One witnessed a crime, another might be a murderer—and one’s been spying on them all.

As they cling to a fantasy of freedom and slowly let down their guards, the past creeps up on them. And when one of them gets arrested, everyone’s carefully constructed facade comes crumbling down.

In this steamy, drama-filled series, relationships are tested and secrets revealed as lies threaten to destroy their perfect setup.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Emancipated?

My favourite thing is probably the chance to try something really different from my previous books - a contemporary 'realistic' setting for character drama. Before EMANCIPATED I'd mainly written action-adventure for a younger readership - both THE JOSHUA FILES and GEMINI FORCE ONE (written under MG Harris) are for 10-14. The older reading age of EMANCIPATED allows me to explore issues of morality and life choices in a much more realistic backdrop.

OK - the set-up of six rather gorgeous and talented teenagers living independently in a groovy beach shack has elements of fantasy, but there are no secret societies, or futuristic technology, or time-travelling villains to drive the plot. Instead, everything that happens - and as the trilogy progresses these things will be pretty, pretty bad - is the result of choices that the characters make, often under difficult circumstances.

I was a huge fan of Breaking Bad, and EMANCIPATED allows me to play in a similar arena of tricky moral choices, the slippery slope to crimes and misdemeanors. And that was fun for me, very different, a wonderful challenge.


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Extraordinary Means
by Robyn Schneider
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/26/2015

From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down. Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Extraordinary Means?

Extraordinary Means is a dual narrative, and my favorite thing about the book is something that readers might not even notice: the two narrators don’t tell exactly the same story. Lane tells a coming of age story, which begins the moment he arrives at Latham House and ends when he leaves. His narrative is removed and introspective. And Sadie tells a love story. Her narrative begins the day she first sees Lane, more than a year after she’s arrived at Latham House, and it ends after the question of whether or not they want to be together has been answered. So her narrative is more in the moment, and closer to the story. I think writing it that way helped me to understand which parts of the story belonged to which characters.

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The Porcupine of Truth
by Bill Konigsberg
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 5/26/2015

The author of OPENLY STRAIGHT returns with an epic road trip involving family history, gay history, the girlfriend our hero can't have, the grandfather he never knew, and the Porcupine of Truth.

Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn't really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who's long held a secret regarding Carson's grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before. Together, Carson and Aisha embark on an epic road trip to find the answers that might save Carson's dad, restore his fragmented family, and discover the "Porcupine of Truth" in all of their lives.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Porcupine of Truth?

My favorite thing is probably the relationship between Carson and Aisha (Cars-Isha for short). There's a lot of humor, there's some fighting, and in the end there is a tenderness to their friendship that I really love. It's a strong bond they forge, and both characters have had trouble forming close friendships so it's a beautiful thing.

Purchase The Porcupine of Truth at Amazon
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View The Porcupine of Truth on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS


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A Sense of the Infinite
by Hilary T. Smith
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/19/2015

Winner - Heather C.

By the author of the critically acclaimed Wild Awake, a beautiful coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.

It's senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn't prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe's new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.

But most especially, she isn't prepared to lose Noe.

For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don't involve Annabeth. Without Noe's constant companionship, Annabeth's world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she's really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

Hilary T. Smith's second novel is a gorgeously written meditation on identity, loss, and the bonds of friendship.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about A Sense of the Infinite?

If you read the book’s plot description, it sounds pretty dark. There’s depression, teen pregnancy, friendships dissolving. But it’s actually a very bright, funny, and hopeful book. There’s a real sense in which Annabeth’s life gets better in spite (and possibly because) of the fact that hard things are happening. And I have the feeling that if she looked back on that year in her life as an adult, she would feel a lot of love and pride.

The darkest times in my life have always had the brightest moments nestled within them—those moments of beauty or poetry or humor that are made more radiant in the context of pain. And that’s my favorite thing about A SENSE OF THE INFINITE: it could have been a relentlessly grim and depressing book, but it has that brightness instead.


Purchase A Sense of the Infinite at Amazon
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Chantress Fury
by Amy Butler Greenfield
Hardcover
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released 5/19/2015

Winner - Kira B.

The sea is coming. We are coming. And we will drown you all.

With a song, Lucy can control the wind and the water; she can bring castles and kingdoms to their feet. Since Lucy mastered her powers, King Henry has kept her close as he’s rebuilt England. She’s his best ally—and his workhorse. And now he’s called her to investigate attempted murder: His men claim they were almost killed on the Thames…by a mermaid. All Lucy can glean from the creature they’ve captured is a warning: The sea is coming. We are coming. And we will drown you all.

And then the floods begin. Swaths of London are submerged as the people scramble to defend themselves against the water—and the monsters—that are flooding their streets. As mistrust of Lucy's magic grows, the king relies on Nat, Lucy's great love, to guide them through the storm. But Nat is cold and distant to Lucy. He swore his love only a year before, and now he calls her “stranger.”

Lucy is determined to defeat this powerful new magic alone if she must. But then she hears an eerie song within the water…can it mean that she’s not the last Chantress after all?

Sweepingly romantic and crackling with magic, Chantress Fury triumphantly concludes the powerful Chantress trilogy.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Chantress Fury?

After I sold the CHANTRESS trilogy, so many writers warned me about the horrors of drafting Book 3. They were right in some ways: The deadlines for CHANTRESS FURY were tough, and so was the pressure to pull everything together once and for all. Yet I truly loved writing about a Chantress at the height of her powers, facing head-on all the challenges that come with being a powerful woman in her world. It was glorious to let out all the stops on the magic – to write about uncanny floods and devious mermaids and ferocious sea serpents attacking London (and that’s just for starters)! It was a wild ride that brings Lucy full circle, giving her a deeper sense of who she is, and where she ultimately belongs.

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View Chantress Fury on Goodreads

* * * *


Killer Within
by S.E. Green
Hardcover
Simon Pulse
Released 5/19/2015

Winner - Molly M.

In the heart-pounding sequel to the “zippy, gripping psychological drama” (Kirkus Reviews) Killer Instinct, teen vigilante Lane must face the secrets and unexpected consequences that arise in the wake of her first kill.

It’s been three months since Lane made her first kill—the sadistic Decapitator—and now she feels both closer and more alienated than ever from her united, grieving family. Haunted by conflicting memories of her mother, Lane resumes her role as the vigilante Masked Savior out of a feeling of obligation—but her heart just isn’t in it anymore. Now that Lane has felt the rush of deeper, darker thrills, a growing part of her wants to revisit its seductive power, and she’s not sure how long she can resist.

Meanwhile, the Masked Savior has inspired its own fan site, where groupies gather online to praise, document, and debate each delivered act of justice. But one of Lane’s secret admirers is becoming a cunning copycat, exacting “justice” on defenseless innocents, increasing the violence with each attack.

Someone is watching Lane, edging closer to making contact. Someone who knows her darkest secrets. Will Lane be able to stop the copycat and keep her identity protected? Or will she give in to the thrills that tempt her?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Killer Within?

My favorite thing about KILLER WITHIN is my main character, Lane. She's just so badass!

Purchase Killer Within at Amazon
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View Killer Within on Goodreads

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Lion Heart
by A.C. Gaughen
Hardcover
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Released 5/19/2015

Winners - Carissa K. and Allison M.

The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy delivers another action-packed and romance-filled adventure.

Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Only the greatest loves can survive great danger. . .

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape, she learns that King Richard's life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine needs Scarlet's help to free him. For a lifelong thief, this newfound allegiance to the crown-her family-is a strange feeling.


Scarlet knows that helping Eleanor will put her and those she loves back in Prince John's sights. Desperate not to risk anyone's life but her own, Scarlet formulates a plan to help save the king on her own. But fate-and her heart-won't allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long. Even if Scarlet and Rob can together stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England, will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Lion Heart?

Well, I think my very favorite thing is *CHOCK FULL O SPOILERS*, but my second favorite thing was developing the relationship between Scarlet and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor has been one of my favorite characters of all time--she's complicated and strong; she wielded incredible power and yet also had to invest her power in both her sons and her two husbands. She was a woman of powerful paradoxes!

There's this moment in LION HEART when Eleanor is attacked, and Scarlet has to fight like hell to save Eleanor and the ladies in her service. When it's over, the ladies take refuge at an abbey to clean up and regroup. They're all dirty and need to bathe, and Scarlet is bleeding--not drastically, but enough to get the water really gross, and in those days, you shared bathwater. She waits until the others bathe, and when she gets in the bath, Eleanor washes her hair, and the other women help clean her. Scarlet starts crying--this moment of intense vulnerability--and she just lets the other women help her.

This was a huge moment for Scarlet, to let someone else help her, but it was also this really emotional moment for me to write--it felt like me honoring all the women in my life who are there to pick me up when I'm broken, to wash my hair and heal me. Considering this book, this series, this whole dream of being a writer is something I wouldn't have accomplished without a tremendous amount of love in my corner, that tiny little thank you means a lot to me.


Purchase Lion Heart at Amazon
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* * * *


Maximum Ride Forever
by James Patterson
Hardcover
Little, Brown and Company
Released 5/18/2015

Winner - Alicia E.

THE NINTH AND ULTIMATE MAXIMUM RIDE STORY IS HERE! Legions of Max fans won't be disappointed by this encore episode in the beloved series about the incredible adventures of a teenage girl who can fly. As Maximum Ride boldly navigates a post-apocalyptic world, she and her broken flock are roaming the earth, searching for answers to what happened. All will be revealed in this last spectacular "ride"- a brand-new grand finale featuring all of the nonstop action, twists and turns that readers can rely on in a blockbuster Patterson page turner!

Purchase Maximum Ride Forever at Amazon
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View Maximum Ride Forever on Goodreads

* * * *


Sparks in Scotland
by A. Destiny and Rhonda Helms
Paperback
Simon Pulse
Released 5/19/2015

Winner - Alisha S.

First crush, first love, first kiss—Ava learns about more than her heritage while vacationing in Scotland in this addition to the sweet and clean Flirt series!

Ava is going on vacation to Scotland, where she’s supposed to learn more about her Scottish heritage. She’s excited to see the castles, abbeys, and coastal hills—and maybe even catch a glimpse of Nessie herself—but Ava doesn’t expect to meet Graham.

He’s cute, sweet, and has the perfect Scottish accent…but does he like her as much as she likes him?

And if there is something of a mutual attraction there, Ava wonders, is it worth pursuing a crush when she’ll be on the other side of the Atlantic in just two weeks?

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MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


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Charmed
by Michelle Krys
Hardcover
Delacorte Press
Released 5/26/2015

Indie has spent the last few weeks frantically searching for Paige. She's tried every spell imaginable, but witchcraft has gotten her nowhere, and she's going crazy with guilt. Despite what her warlock boyfriend, Bishop, tells her, Indie knows it's her fault her best friend was kidnapped by the Priory. And with the Priory destroyed, finding Paige feels more hopeless than ever-especially when Indie discovers that Paige isn't even on Earth. She's trapped in Los Demonios, an alternate dimension of Los Angeles filled with evil paranormals. No one who has gone there has ever come out.

Fueled by terror and loyalty, Indie is desperate to find a way into the underworld prison. She'll worry about getting out later. But facing the dark world's most dangerous witches and warlocks on her own means keeping her plan hush-hush-and forging alliances with some sketchy people, including a seriously sexy sorcerer.

Sometimes a witch must keep secrets from the people she cares about most. And sometimes she isn't the only one with secrets…

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Charmed?

*Hexed Spoilers ahead*

I love so many things about CHARMED—the alternate dimension prison city, the magic, the shocking twists and turns—but what I love most is Indie’s character development. In HEXED, Indie discovers she’s a witch at the same moment as she’s thrust into this centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, which leaves her a little bit dependent on Bishop, a seasoned warlock, for answers and protection. But in CHARMED, Indie fully embraces her powers and stands on her own as a witch. I love her transformation!


Purchase Charmed at Amazon
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* * * *


I Am Princess X
by Cherie Priest
Hardcover
Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 5/26/2015

Best friends, big fans, a mysterious webcomic, and a long-lost girl collide in this riveting novel, perfect for fans of both Cory Doctorow and Sarah Dessen, and illustrated throughout with comics.

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.

Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.

Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.

Princess X?

When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There's an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby's story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon - her best friend, Libby, who lives.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about I Am Princess X?

I really love the way the fantasy-themed web comic threads through the contemporary mystery - I think they're a perfect complement to one another, and the artist did an amazing job of capturing the vibe I was hoping for.

Purchase I Am Princess X at Amazon
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View I Am Princess X on Goodreads

* * * *


Immaculate
by Katelyn Detweiler
Hardcover
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 5/26/2015

Mina is seventeen. A virgin. And pregnant.

Mina is top of her class, girlfriend to the most ambitious guy in school, able to reason and study her way through anything. But when she suddenly finds herself pregnant—despite having never had sex—her orderly world collapses. Almost nobody believes Mina’s claims of virginity. Her father assumes that her boyfriend is responsible; her boyfriend believes she must have cheated on him. As news of Mina’s story spreads, there are those who brand her a liar. There are those who brand her a heretic. And there are those who believe that miracles are possible—and that Mina’s unborn child could be the greatest miracle of all.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Immaculate?

The strong females. Especially the main character, 17-year-old Mina, as she has to face down this massive transformation of her goals, dreams, values, beliefs in the aftermath of finding out about her totally unexpected pregnancy. The entire map of her future is, virtually overnight, shifting into something completely unrecognizable. And there are the female friendships that define her as well, the powerful bonds that shape her story: her mom, her little sister Gracie, her two closest friends, Hannah and Izzy. Mina has this fierce net of women around her at all times, to catch her when she needs it most, but at the end of the day, she has to be her own strongest supporter.

My dad always raised me with the idea that it’s not what happens to us in life that matters, but how we deal with what happens. This book is all about “dealing” with a quite unexpected happening, and how someone—how Mina—becomes better and braver because of that ultimate test of character. And it’s also about how the rest of her relationships evolve, too, the struggles that test these bonds to their limits and ultimately make them stronger than they’ve ever been.


Purchase Immaculate at Amazon
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View Immaculate on Goodreads

* * * *


The Cage
by Megan Shepherd
Hardcover
Balzer + Bray
Released 5/26/2015

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman's Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Cage?

I love how THE CAGE has an unabashedly old-school sci-fi feel. The book is about six teenagers put in a "human zoo" by an all-powerful, psychic race, and though it's often terrifying for them, it's also sort of fun. Their alien captors don't quite understand humanity, so they make quirky little mistakes while trying to recreate our world. Some of the captives also find that they sort of enjoy the easy life and luxury of captivity. It has a TWILIGHT ZONE or PLANET OF THE APES feel, which were some of my favorite types of sci-fi stories growing up.

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MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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A Conspiracy of Princes
by Justin Somper
Hardcover
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 5/26/2015

The newly crowned Prince Jared, ruler of All Archenfield, has inherited a kingdom in crisis. The murder of his older brother has revealed a traitorous plot in his court, calling into question who, if anyone, Jared can trust as he ascends the throne. Now the realm is on the brink of invasion from the brutal princes of Paddenburg and Jared must travel to neighboring kingdoms in search of allies to defend his throne. Little does he know that an even more dangerous plot is hatching in the Archenfield court--one that threatens to remove Jared from power. One put in motion by the very people he left in charge.

The second book in Justin Somper's Allies & Assassins series delivers another twisted tale of high-stakes betrayal and political machinations set amid a lush medieval background.

Purchase A Conspiracy of Princes at Amazon
Purchase A Conspiracy of Princes at IndieBound
View A Conspiracy of Princes on Goodreads

* * * *


Daughter of Deep Silence
by Carrie Ryan
Hardcover
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Released 5/26/2015

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

Purchase Daughter of Deep Silence at Amazon
Purchase Daughter of Deep Silence at IndieBound
View Daughter of Deep Silence on Goodreads

* * * *


Dime
by E. R. Frank
Hardcover
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Released 5/26/2015

The realities of teen prostitution are revealed in this eye-opening, heartbreaking story from the author of America, which Booklist called "a piercing, unforgettable novel" and Kirkus Reviews deemed "a work of sublime humanity."

As a teen girl in Newark, New Jersey, lost in the foster care system, Dime just wants someone to care about her, to love her. A family. And that is exactly what she gets-a daddy and two "wifeys." So what if she has to go out and earn some coins to keep her place? It seems a fair enough exchange for love.

Dime never meant to become a prostitute. It happened so gradually, she pretty much didn't realize it was happening until it was too late.

But when a new "wifey" joins the family and Dime finds out that Daddy doesn't love her the way she thought he did, will Dime have the strength to leave? And will Daddy let her?

Purchase Dime at Amazon
Purchase Dime at IndieBound
View Dime on Goodreads

* * * *


P.S. I Still Love You
by Jenny Han
Hardcover
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 5/26/2015

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing.

Purchase P.S. I Still Love You at Amazon
Purchase P.S. I Still Love You at IndieBound
View P.S. I Still Love You on Goodreads

* * * *


Shadow of the Wolf
by Tim Hall
Hardcover
David Fickling Books
Released 5/26/2015

A stunning re-imagining of Robin Hood, the first in an exciting new trilogy.

Forget everything you've ever heard about Robin Hood.

Robin Loxley is seven years old when his parents disappear without a trace. Years later the great love of his life, Marian, is also taken from him. Driven by these mysteries, and this anguish, Robin follows a darkening path into the ancient heart of Sherwood Forest. What he encounters there will leave him transformed . . .

The first book of a trilogy, Shadow of the Wolf is a breathtakingly original--and utterly compelling--retelling that will forever alter the legend of Robin Hood.

Purchase Shadow of the Wolf at Amazon
Purchase Shadow of the Wolf at IndieBound
View Shadow of the Wolf on Goodreads

* * * *


The Death Code
by Lindsay Cummings
Hardcover
Greenwillow Books
Released 5/26/2015

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is the dark and compelling sequel to the bestselling The Murder Complex, which Booklist praised as "carefully crafted . . . chilling" and Justine magazine called "a must for fans of action-packed dystopians like The Hunger Games and Divergent."

With short, fast-paced, alternating point-of-view chapters, The Death Code starts several weeks after The Murder Complex ends. Zephyr keeps the secret about Meadow close—that if she dies, The Murder Complex will be destroyed, too. Meadow, desperate to find her brother, father, and little sister, is determined to fight fearlessly to the end, even if it means sacrificing herself and her friends, new and old. The Death Code introduces a memorable cast of secondary characters and delivers a vivid and scary thrill ride read. For fans of La Femme Nikita, Legend, and Hanna.

Purchase The Death Code at Amazon
Purchase The Death Code at IndieBound
View The Death Code on Goodreads

* * * *


The Edge of the Shadows
by Elizabeth George
Hardcover
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 5/26/2015

The much anticipated third installment of the Whidbey Island saga.

Whidbey Island, a place of secrets and mystery, is home now for Becca King, still in hiding from her criminal stepfather. But Becca and her friends have new worries, as a series of fires are being set, the latest causing a fatality. Is one of the newcomers to blame? Perhaps it’s Isis Martin’s brother, just back from a school for troubled kids, or Parker, a musician fired by his bandmates. Meanwhile, Becca herself continues to slowly explore her own paranormal abilities under the tutelage of Diana Kinsale.

Elizabeth George, nominated for an Edgar and an Agatha award for The Edge of Nowhere, her first book set on Whidbey Island, proves once again that she is a suspense novelist without peer.

Purchase The Edge of the Shadows at Amazon
Purchase The Edge of the Shadows at IndieBound
View The Edge of the Shadows on Goodreads

* * * *


The Eternal City
by Paula Morris
Hardcover
Point
Released 5/26/2015

From master of suspense Paula Morris comes a tale of gods and goddesses, thrilling romance, and mystery set in present-day Rome.

Laura Martin is visiting Rome on a class trip, and she's entranced by the majestic Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon. . . . Everything in this city seems magical.

That is, until the magic seems to turn very dark.

Suddenly, statues of Cupid and ancient works of art come to life before her eyes. Earthquakes rumble and a cloud of ash forms in the sky. A dark-eyed boy with wings on his heels appears and gives her a message. Laura soon realizes she is at the center of a brewing battle -- a battle between the gods and goddesses, one that will shake modern-day Rome to its core.

Only she and her group of friends can truly unravel the mystery behind what is happening. As tensions mount and secret identities are revealed, Laura must rely on her own inner strength to face up to what may be a fight for her life.

Acclaimed author Paula Morris brings the ancient world to vivid life in this unstoppable tale of friendship, love, and the power of the past.

Purchase The Eternal City at Amazon
Purchase The Eternal City at IndieBound
View The Eternal City on Goodreads

* * * *


The Tenderness of Thieves
by Donna Freitas
Hardcover
Philomel Books
Released 5/26/2015

A summer romance filled with danger and lies

Jane is ready for a fantastic summer. In fact, she’s pretty sure the universe owes her one.

This past winter, Jane was held at knifepoint during an armed robbery and the specter of that night still haunts her. A summer romance with one of the town bad boys -- sexy Handel Davies, who takes her breath away and makes her feel like a bolder version of herself -- seems like the universe’s way of paying her back.

But bad boys always have secrets, and Handel’s secret just might shatter Jane completely.

This suspense novel marries psychological thriller with summer romance and is perfect for teen fans of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.

Purchase The Tenderness of Thieves at Amazon
Purchase The Tenderness of Thieves at IndieBound
View The Tenderness of Thieves on Goodreads

* * * *


Tiny Pretty Things
by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 5/26/2015

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Purchase Tiny Pretty Things at Amazon
Purchase Tiny Pretty Things at IndieBound
View Tiny Pretty Things on Goodreads

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29. An Inspiring Weekly Digest You NEED to Know About!


This is your brain.













And this is Maria Popova who will gladly pick it each and every Sunday morning if you register to receive Brain Pickings, her weekly free website digest that I promise you offers unlimited inspiration to keep you keepin’ on – personally, professionally and any way you need to. 



Ms. Popoval, “a cartographer of meaning in a digital world,” continues to offer visitors to her website “an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy and more.” 
The Sunday digest offers the week’s most “unmissable” articles.


Here’s who and what came my way last Sunday, May 17:

Wendell Berry on How to Be a Poet and a Complete Human Being 

The Heart and the Bottle (by Oliver Jeffers): A Tender Illustrated Fable of What Happens When We Deny Our Difficult Emotions   

The Magic of Moss and What It Teaches Us About the Art of Attentiveness to Life at All Scales


I owe fellow writer and friend Ellen Reagan untold thanks for first connecting me to
what’s now my weekly dose of inspiration, insights and mind-whirling knowledge I never even knew I needed to have.

WOW’s!” and sighs and smiles and “I didn’t know that’s!” usually punctuate my first reading of the digest.
At the end of the day, I return to save/copy to my journal particularly relevant and/or meaningful quotes and lines  - about life, love, children, work, writing, disappointment, joy, wonder, marriage, you-name-it.
Throughout the week that follows I find myself forwarding at least one article or quote to someone I care about.

You can listen here to Maria Popova talk about how and why she created Brain Pickings.
You’ll be so happy she did.

And do subscribe to the weekly digest. 
You’ll be so happy you did.

Happy Brain Pickings!

Esther Hershenhorn

P.S.
You can also savor Maria Popova's delicious and nourishing fare via Facebook and Twitter.
(www.facebook.com/brainpickings.mariapopova/Brain Pickings @brainpickings


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30. TURNING PAGES: GATEWAY by SHARON SHINN

So, May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month, right? And I'm loving (unintentionally) digging out all of these books which feature Asian characters in unpredictable and non-stereotyped scenarios. Here's another speculative fiction novel I just...... Read the rest of this post

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31. #BookADay: FOX AND SQUIRREL MAKE A FRIEND by Ruth Ohi (my sister!!), published by Scholastic Canada

#BookADay: FOX AND SQUIRREL MAKE A FRIEND by my awesome sis, Ruth Ohi (published by Scholastic Canada). This was a "Best Books" selection by the The Canadian Children's Book Centre and a "First and Best" Toronto Public Library Selection!

"Is there room for someone else in Fox and Squirrel's friendship? Fox and Squirrel are the best of friends. But when Yellow Bird comes along, he and Squirrel frolic high up in the treetops where Fox can't reach. Fox feels like Squirrel doesn't need him anymore. Can Squirrel help Fox see that there's room in their friendship for another?

The simple text and joyful art together deliver a heartwarming tale with a subtle but profound message about the strengths of friendship, loyalty, and acceptance."

More about my sister and her school visits: http://RuthOhi.com

More about the book: http://www.scholastic.ca/…/v…/fox-and-squirrel-make-a-friend

---------------------
More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

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32. Looking for Blog Contributor for Adventures in YA Publishing - Plus WHITE ROSE ARC Giveaway

Things have been a little bit hectic here at Adventures lately. We're all on crazy deadlines, dealing with sick family members, last days of school, getting kids off to Madagascar (That would be my daughter, who's headed there for eight weeks) and, of course, book festivals, school visits, and so on.


Which brings me to my point. We could use a little help! : )

Image via Tabako


We have an opening here at AYAP for an intern who, if things work out, would become a permanent contributor. 

The selected intern will help coordinate giveaways and interviews, which involves contact with authors, data entry,  and html formatting. We will teach you everything you need to know, so if you have an interest in blogging about YA books, either because you love to read them or because you're an aspiring author, this is the perfect opportunity. The position is virtual and you set your own hours and pace.

Adventures in YA Publishing is a three-time Writers Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers Blog, and depending on the time of the year and what we're up to, we get between 80,000 to 200,000 visitors a month, not counting RSS feeds and email subscriptions.

If you're interested, please send your resume or summary of qualifications and interest to us at ayaplit at gmail dot com.

THIS WEEK'S GIVEAWAY


The White Rose (The Lone City #2)
by Amy Ewing
ARC Giveaway

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a n ew ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won’t be able to put down until the final shocking moments.


Question of the Week

I'm looking at my calendar for the summer and having mini-meltdowns already. Somehow, summer is such a time sink and I have final pass pages for Persuasion, and revisions for Book Three (which I think has a title I can't wait to share!). I also have a whole new book to write. And a TON of books I need to critique or read.

If you struggle like I do, here are my favorite quotes on finding time to write and making time to read:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he'd had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instruction on Writing and Life

“I am always chilled and astonished by the would-be writers who ask me for advice and admit, quite blithely, that they "don't have time to read." This is like a guy starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn't have time to buy any rope or pitons.” 
~ Stephen King



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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33. 2015 Summer Name Generator

question marksWhat’s Your Summer Name?

Do y’all remember the fantabulous Winter Name Generator? Well, it’s definitely not winter anymore, so it’s time for new names. I’m thinking that it’s time for . . . SUMMER NAMES!!! Introducing the wonderfully weird and wonky Summer Name Generator! (This is version 2.0. If you want two special summer names, you should try out last summer’s, too!).

Here’s how the Summer Name Generator works. Find the first initial of your first name in the list below. That word is your summer first name. Then look at the list of the months below and find the month of your birthday. That word is your summer last name. For example, my name begins with an E and my birthday is in March, so my new summer name would be Pool Noodle Surfer. I’m into it!

  • A – Sunny
  • B – Sunshine
  • C – Water Slide
  • D – Sandy
  • E – Pool Noodle
  • F – Flip Flop
  • G – Beachy
  • H – Jumprope
  • I – Leafy
  • J – Bicycle
  • K – Thunder
  • L – Sunglasses
  • M – Grass
  • N – Popsicle
  • O – Roller Coaster
  • P – Vacation
  • Q – Lake
  • R – Canoe
  • S – Festival
  • T – SPF
  • U – Forest
  • V – Starry
  • W – Zipline
  • X – Hiking
  • Y – Nature
  • Z – Explorer
  • January – Shorts
  • February – Backpack
  • March – Surfer
  • April – Frisbee
  • May – Speedboat
  • June – Water Bottle
  • July – Lightning
  • August – Firecracker
  • September – Hummingbird
  • October – Sprinkler
  • November – Hopscotch
  • December – Picnic

It’s heating up fast outside and soon it’ll be vacation time. Get ready by grabbing your sweetest swimwear, favorite flip flops, coolest sidewalk chalk, and brand-new SUMMER NAME! What’s your new, wacky summer name? Share it in the Comments below!

See ya around,

En-Szu, a.k.a. Pool Noodle Surfer

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34. News & Newsletter

sitting in my office, contemplating what to write...

I've been wanting to try out TinyLetter for a little while now, having subscribed to a few newsletters that use it, and so I took some time to create a newsletter aimed at sending out information, musings, etc. about my upcoming collection, Blood: Stories, which Black Lawrence Press will release in January.

Why create such a thing when I've already got this here blog? Because I think of this blog as a more general thing, not really a newsletter. I will put all important information about Blood here (as well as on Twitter, and I'll make a Facebook author page one of these days), but the newsletter will have more in-depth material, such as details of the publishing process, background on the stories, etc. There will be some exclusive content and probably even some give-aways, etc. I probably should have titled it Etc., in fact... And it's not all limited to Blood — if you take a look at the first letter, you'll see some of the range I'm aiming for. That letter is public, and some of the future ones will be, too, but for the most part I expect to keep the letters private for subscribers only. (I've always wanted to be part of a cabal, and now I've started my own!)

One of the things I note in that first letter is that Mike Allen is running a Kickstarter to raise funds for his fifth Clockwork Phoenix anthology, and all backers can now read a 2006 story of mine that Mike first published, "In Exile". This is, as far as I remember, the only story I've ever published set in the typical fantasy world of elves and wizards and all that. (To learn why, read the newsletter!) Mike made an editorial suggestion for the manuscript that completely fixed a major problem with the story, so I've always been tremendously grateful to him, and I'm thrilled that it's now available to backers of this very worthy Kickstarter.

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35. Hot Dogs, get your Hot Dogs

Galactic Hot Dogs, that is! Cosmoe’s Weiner Getaway is the first book in a three part series written by Max Brallier and published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

The book has taken off on Funbrain.com, a popular gaming website for children that has been a launch pad for some of the biggest blockbuster hits in children’s book publishing. Jeff Kinney’s ever popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid got its start there as a free book in 2004 and now has over 150 million copies in print.

Other titles such as Rachel Renee Russell’s Dork Diaries series, Lincoln Pierce’s Big Nate and Brandon Mull’s best-selling fantasy series The Beyonders all of gaining wider audiences due to their popularity on Funbrain and its sister site Poptropica.

Galactic Hot Dogs seems to be destined for the same success. More than six million children have read the book on Funbrain since its debut in the fall of 2013 when individual chapters were posted. What sets this apart is that more than a million children have played the story-based Galactic Hot Dogs game that went live on Poptropica two months ago. Like many books that are popular on the site, it appeals to 8- to 12-year-olds who appreciate its kooky hero, Cosmoe, and its humorous, comic-strip-style illustrations.

Recently, multiplatform books with online gaming components have become essential tools in the children’s book publishing industry. They are clearly seeking to reach young readers who are migrating to digital and mobile reading. Sixty-seven percent of children between the ages of 2 and 13 read e-books, according to a report released in January by Digital Book World and PlayCollective, up from 54 percent in 2012.

While many fear that sites such as Poptropica and Funbrain might detract from reading time, authors and publishers clearly seem to think differently. Some publishers have found that interactive games can increase print sales rather than erode them. Scholastic’s multiplatform game and book series, 39 Clues, which started in 2008, has more than 17 million copies in print.

Clearly there is core audience for this new books to gaming crossover market and they are buying the print books. I think this is definitely the next “big” thing in the children’s digital world.

Allison Santos

ALSC Digital Task Force

Director, Princeton Children’s Book Festival

Princeton Public Library, NJGalactic Hot Dogs

The post Hot Dogs, get your Hot Dogs appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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36. Brian Katcher, author of THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK, on avoiding distraction

We're honored to have Brian Katcher stop by to tell us more about his latest novel THE IMPROBABLY THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK.

Brian, what was your inspiration for writing THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK?

My editor called me up and asked me to write a book about nerds. I told her she had found her author. I didn't need to do ANY research.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The hardest scenes to write were the ones where Zak talks about losing his father to cancer. I've never lost anyone before their time.  My favorite scene was the one where Zak has to fight his way through an SCA battlefield. It was funny and exciting, or at least it was to write.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

David Levithan's NICK AND NORA'S INFINITE PLAYLIST was certainly an inspiration for this book. One crazy night, the sort of thing that happens very seldom in one's life. And if you like the crazy nerds having an adventure genre, there's Antony John's THOU SHALT NOT ROAD TRIP. And of course my PLAYING WITH MATCHES.

How long did you work on THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK?

About a year.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

That as long as I'm writing about something I'm passionate about, it's fun. When I tried to do something trendy (apocalypse books, etc), I failed.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK?

That no matter how mainstream geeks and nerds have become, we're still just a bunch of awkward nice guys and girls who are too shy to talk to you.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I never wanted to be a writer, so it came as no surprise that my first book, PLAYING WITH MATCHES, was repeatedly rejected. It was published by literally the last place I sent it to, which, much to my surprise, was a division of Random House. My Second book, ALMOST PERFECT, won the ALA's Stonewall award. Then I hit a five year dry spell. My other published book, EVERYONE DIES IN THE END, came out last year. I have two and a half books that will probably never see the light of day, and one I'm trying to find a home for.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

I was down and out in Mexico, wondering what an American could do to mend a broken heart. It was either write a book or join the Zapatista rebels and try to overthrow the Mexican government. And, as I'm an abject coward, I chose the former.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I can't stand any distraction, not even music. I used to work at coffee shops because there I couldn't be distracted by the internet, but then they all got wifi. I usually write at home after my family has gone to bed. But how can I concentrate on my book when the Wikipedia entry for 'Ernest Goes to Camp' is so poorly written?

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Actually write your stupid book instead of just talking about it; get peer feedback, and stick with it.

What are you working on now?

Another assignment from my editor. It's about an idiot man-child who goes back to elementary school to prove to his wealthy father that he's responsible enough to inherit the family business.

That's actually an Adam Sandler movie. You'll just have to wait and see how my next book turns out.

Oh, and I also do book reviews for www.foreveryoungadult.com  Stop by and say hi!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zakby Brian Katcher
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/19/2015

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Award-winning author Brian Katcher's hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date at a sci-fi convention.

When Ana Watson's brother ditches a high school trip to run wild at Washingcon, type-A Ana knows that she must find him or risk her last shot at freedom from her extra-controlling parents.

In her desperation, she's forced to enlist the last person she'd ever want to spend time with—slacker Zak Duquette—to help find her brother before morning comes.

But over the course of the night, while being chased by hordes of costumed Vikings and zombies, Ana and Zak begin to open up to each other. Soon, what starts as the most insane nerdfighter manhunt transforms into so much more. . . .

Purchase The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak at Amazon
Purchase The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak at IndieBound
View The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Katcher was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1975. He attended the University of Missouri, Columbia, before dropping out of society and bumming around Mexico for three years. He’s worked as a fry cook, a market researcher, a welding machine operator, a telemarketer (only lasted one day), and a furniture mover. He lived on an Israeli military base one summer, and once smuggled food into Cuba. When he’s not writing, he works as a school librarian. He lives in central Missouri with his wife and daughter. He still hasn’t paid the parking ticket he got in West Virginia in 1997.


What did you think of our interview with Brian Katcher, author of THE IMPROBABLY THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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37. What Makes a Picture Book Mega-Hit?

It’s not that it’s impossible to predict the “next big thing” in children’s literature, but it’s also not exactly a hard science.  Indeed, whenever a publisher starts spending beaucoup de bucks on a given title (hardcover f&gs, a serious marketing campaign for a debut author, etc.) I cringe a bit.  They’ve made their bets and they’re willing to bank on them.  I, on the other hand, make my own kinds of bets.  As a Materials Specialist it’s my job to figure out how many copies of any given title should be added to my library system.  Sometimes it’s a no brainer.  And sometimes I’m far off the mark.

Now picture book blockbuster hits, for whatever the reason, are where I fall down the hardest.  It’s not just that I can’t see them coming.  It’s often that I’m blind to whatever esoteric elements are in play, making those books big time hits.  With that in mind, today I’m going to talk about some of the top picture book blockbusters to come out in the last ten years.  Please note that I’m avoiding picture books with TV or other media tie-ins.  These are the folks who got where they are on their own merits.

BookWithNoPictures

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak – It’s not the first time someone did this idea (the Elephant and Piggie title We Are In a Book does something very similar to what Novak does here) but I’ll admit that I haven’t ever seen anything exactly, precisely like this. With that in mind I bought a reasonable number of copies for my library system.  Then it took off like gangbusters.  Folks who’ve never even heard of Novak were pulling it from the shelves.  I’m not going to say it’s the most successful celebrity picture book of all time, but it sure comes close.  Wowzah.

DayCrayonsQuit

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers – Though it’s by no means as pro-union as Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, one does wonder what the anti-union folks out there think about Daywalt’s smash success.  Definitely didn’t see this one coming.  I figured it was a bit wordy and long for total and complete New York Times bestseller domination but about the time it was on the list for 4+ months I knew we had a genuine blockbuster on our hands.

FancyNancy

Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glaser – You know, it’s very cool in some circles to disparage FN, but as crazy huge hits go, I’m a fan.  It’s a lot smarter than folks give it credit for.  You can trace its initial popularity to its sheer untold gobs of pink fanciness, but it sustains its hold on the marketplace in large part because of the writing.

GoodnightGoodnight

Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld – No idea.  None.  We see fun construction equipment picture books all the time.  And we see popular subjects mixed with the bedtime book genre all the time too.  Robots go to bed.  Dinosaurs.  But for whatever reason, this hit all the right buttons.  I can’t account for it.  Consider me broadsided by its success.

LittleBlueTruck

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry – I don’t think I realized, until this very moment, that the illustrator of the book is the same woman behind Kathi Appelt’s lovely 2015 title When Otis Courted Mama.  Huh!  In any case, this is a case of a book that’s a huge hit everywhere in the country except NYC.  I only know about it because it’s always on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list.

PeteCat1

Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean – This is one picture book that can credit its massive success to its creators’ self-promotion.  It’s also one of the rare self-published books to go mainstream and then blockbuster success.  Doesn’t hurt matters any that there’s a catchy little YouTube song that goes with it.  Other books have tried to replicate its success.  So far, no takers.

Pinkalicious

Pinkalicious by Victoria & Elizabeth Kann – According to legend, this book came about when an editor heard the song “Fergilicious” and thought it would make sense (post-Fancy Nancy‘s success) to do a book called “Pinkalicious”.  So the Kanns were hired and that was that.  Like Pete the Cat, subsequent sequels have only been credited to one of the original creators.  So there’s that.

PressHere

Press Here by Herve Tullet – Rarer than the self-published picture book that becomes a massive success?  The imported picture book.  Translations don’t usually yield the kind of crazy popularity enjoyed by Tullet’s best known title.  Still, the King of Preschool Books managed to make his sense of humor, style, and originality work here in the States.  No small feat.

Now what did I miss?

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38. Heather Dixon, author of ILLUSIONARIUM, on writing on a train

We're thrilled to have Heather Dixon here to tell us more about her latest novel ILLUSIONARIUM.

Heather, what was your inspiration for writing ILLUSIONARIUM?

Terry Pratchett.  The Discworld books are stories that I can read over and over and over, and so a lot of that humor transferred over into Illusionarium—including wry footnotes.  He has recently passed on, which broke my heart.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

I’d say every scene I’ve gotta write is like being bled by leeches.  It’s an agonizing process. Definitely the scenes where Jonathan’s sister was getting hurt, those were hard for me—she never really had a way to fight back.  But I absolutely adored the scenes with the character Lockwood in them.  He stole the show.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

Possibly fans of the "Larklight" series by Phillip Reeve, or the "Airborn" series by Kenneth Oppel would like Illusionarium; also fans of steampunk in general.  And of course, those who love Terry Pratchett!

How long did you work on ILLUSIONARIUM?

About four years.  Crazy.

What do you hope readers will take away from ILLUSIONARIUM?

Mostly I just hope readers are entertained and enjoy the humor!  Esp. the footnotes, lol.
At the core, Illusionarium is a story about inner compasses.  So what people take away from that is up to them, I think.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I write on the train.  My commute is about 2 hours a day, so that's great writing time.  When I'm on deadline, I spend entire Saturdays on the train too--just going end-of-the-line to end-of-the-line, typing away.  The train is a great place to write.  I can't get any writing done at home...too much other work to do!

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a retelling of the Nutcracker.  We'll see if it goes anywhere!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Illusionariumby Heather Dixon
Hardcover
Greenwillow Books
Released 5/19/2015

What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he's a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

 Purchase Illusionarium at Amazon
Purchase Illusionarium at IndieBound
View Illusionarium on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


386042Heather Dixon grew up in a large family with four brothers and six sisters. She is a storyboard artist as well as a writer, and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Viennese waltz is her dance of choice. She is the author of the novel Entwined.



What did you think of our interview with Heather Dixon, author of ILLUSIONARIUM? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,
Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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39. Comic: Plot For Sale

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40. New Trailer Unleashed for Black Mass

Warner Bros. Pictures has unleashed an official trailer for Black Mass. The video embedded above offers glimpses of Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger; this character is based on the real-life criminal who was one of the most wanted gangsters in United States history.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the story for this movie was inspired by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s bestselling nonfiction title, Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, The FBI, and a Devil’s Deal. This movie is set to hit theaters on September 18th. (via Variety.com)

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41. Mike Curato Interviewed by Martha Brockenbrough: The #LA15SCBWI Pre-Conference Interview

Click on over to read this chat between SCBWI Team Blog's Martha Brockenbrough and debut author/illustrator Mike Curato.


They talk day jobs and publishing dreams, polka dot elephants and shows at cupcake stores. Martha even gets Mike's time-traveling advice to himself years ago, which includes this gem:

"Make things that make you smile inside."

Mike's publishing journey is one of our "SCBWI Success Stories" featured at the upcoming 2015 SCBWI Summer Conference on a Friday afternoon panel (that I'll be moderating, and that will also feature Martha herself!)

Mike will also be co-leading a Saturday Breakout session with agent Brenda Bowen on "The Artist Agent Relationship!"

We hope you can join us for #LA15SCBWI – and perhaps it will be the path to your own SCBWI Success Story! Detailed conference information and registration here.

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

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42. #NLLD15 First Time Attendee

So, at some point in February, I decided that I would apply for YALSA’s travel stipend to attend #NLLD15.  I was hopeful and I received the award.  So, I planned my trip, contacted my state coordinator, packed my bag, and was off to Washington.

dupont circleI arrived at 12:30 on Sunday at Ronald Reagan International Airport.  I took Southwest and was able to get a pretty economical ticket.  I found my way to the METRO station, purchased a Smart Ride Card, and hopped on the Metro toward Dupont Circle.  I was on my way to the First Time Attendee Session at the ALA Washington Office.

I stopped for a quick photo on Dupont Circle.  I think Annette Bening made a bigger deal out of it in the “America President” than it was.  Three quick blocks and I stopped at Kramer Books & Afterwords Café for Lunch.  They have an amazing brunch/luncheon menu on Sundays and it is a restaurant attached to a bookstore. Nirvana!  I had the crab cake open faced sandwich.  ( I found it on Urban Spoon.)ala office

After lunch, I walked the 2 blocks to the ALA Washington Office.

The meeting for first time attendees was amazing.  We worked on techniques for speaking with Senators and Representatives.  We talked about “the ask”.  I even managed to take a selfie with the presenter, Stephanie Vance.

Working on your asking skillsThe training was inspiring.  We had the opportunity to meet other librarians and media specialists from across the country.

I headed back to the host hotel after the meeting to meet up with my state delegation for dinner.  We went to a local restaurant and talked about our goals and appointments for the next day.  Oops!  I was supposed to make some appointments!

The next morning, we had a full day of sessions on the different issues and pieces of legislation affecting libraries at the host hotel.  Our state coordinator found a few minutes to have a pastry.Florida delegationCharlie takes a break

Since, I hadn’t made any appointments the day before, I took the list of representatives that were not yet contacted from Florida and made some calls to set up appointments with their staffers.  I managed to contact all but two and schedule appointments throughout the next day.

 

In the evening, we attended a reception for the librarians at the Dirksen Building, where some of the Senate Committees meet.  I met the YALSA President and the Director and we were photobombed during a selfie.  I also managed to photobomb the President of ALA during a speech to the delegates.

YALSA prez director and me           Working on my testifying

After a quick breakfast the next morning, we were off to the Capitol to visit and discuss the issues.  As usual Southern charm rules and the Florida delegation was warmly received by the staffers of our Representatives and Senators.  Our delivery was professional and I believe our message was heard.  I was encouraged that most were interested in us because we were their constituents in the districts.

It was an interesting experience that I would love to have the chance to repeat.

office visit1

After a quick bite in the underground cafeteria, I was off to the METRO for one last ride to the Airport.  Thank you, YALSA for the opportunity to #act4teens and represent the interests of Florida libraries in Washington.

Grand Central Station           Metro seal

 

======

Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a library advocate and board member for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Find her online at www.eliterateandlevelingup.com or follow her on Twitter @VandyPD.

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43. Now That You're Here Book Review

Title: Now That You're Here Author: Amy K. Nichols Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers Publication Date: December 9, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0385753890 304 pp. ARC provided by publisher Here's another book in the current parallel universes mini-trend, Now That You're Here by Amy K. Nichols. There's dual narration by Danny, a street artist in Phoenix who lands in his doppleganger's body

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44. Summer Personality Quiz

Hi!

PurpleWizard50 created a quiz to help you answer the question: What Should You Do This Summer?

1. Yay! It’s finally summer! What do you want to do? a) Check out some sunny beaches. b) Stay at home and read. c) Go to a new and exotic city. d) Visit your friends and relatives.

2. Wow! It’s burning out there! What do you do to cool off? a) Take a dive in an outdoor swimming pool. b) Sit in front of the A/C until your teeth freeze. c) Run through the sprinkler with a home-made paper fan. d) Head to your bestie’s place for a movie marathon in her air-conditioned basement.

3. What’s your favorite summer treat? a) Ice cream sundaes. b) Fresh fruit juice smoothies. c) Icy cold “mocktails.” d) Those twin Popsicles.

4. How would you describe yourself? a) Sporty and fun. b) Bookworm-y and quiet. c) Unique and artsy. d) Social and a great BFF.

5. What is your favorite hobby? a) Playing sports and swimming. b) Reading and being alone. c) Painting or drawing. d) Hanging with your bestie.

Results!

Mostly A’s: Sports are totally your thing. You would rather run around the neighborhood to warm up than sit in a warm woolen blanket — not that that has anything to do with summer. Hit up some beaches and maybe the local pool.

Mostly B’s: You like being lonely. You would rather make a fort out of pillows and sit in there, reading a book for hours. Stay at home this summer and read your favorite books. Or if you’re going out of town, pack an extra suitcase for books!

Mostly C’s: You’re different and artsy. You would rather make your Mother’s Day gifts and cards than buy them from the mall. Check out an exotic country or head to art school. Or art school in an exotic country.

Mostly D’s: You and your BFF are inseparable. You would rather shop with her than shop alone, no contest. This summer, hang with her. Have sleepovers, playdates, shopping sprees, gossip sessions, whatever. Just have fun!

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45. How Teamwork Brought Me Closer to Teens

When I started working at a multi-branch system, my whole world turned upside down; I came from the craziness of a single library system with a large teen population to a smaller branch with a tiny teen population.  Although this has thrown me for a bit of loop, I decided that in order to stay in touch with teens, and not let my years of experience lay by the way side, I will work more closely with my colleagues who do serve a large teen population. In other words I’d outsource myself.

What I mean by “outsourcing” is literally working more closely with colleagues to provide and implement new programs and services. Through these interactions, I have been able to step out of my home library branch and visit other branches to present, and implement, new programs and services. Although I still need to build up teen programming, at my main branch, I sincerely believe that we should not let an obvious factors like location, or lack of a teen audience, keep our ideas from getting to our colleagues and teens all over the city. In fact, for this summer, I was able to get two of my colleagues excited about a no sew blanket program; this singular program will be at three branches instead of one! Furthermore, the best thing about working with your colleagues is that they are just a phone call, or e-mail away, and are willing to try new things, and/or help us out in any way they can. More importantly, by co-hosting programs at different branches, we have access to information that will help us gauge the interests of the entire teen community.

Through these exclusive opportunities, we can not only get suggestions from actual teens, we can also get very valuable feedback, which could easily change the way we evaluate our programs and services. Either way, this is definitely a win-win situation for all of us since we can take this valuable information back to our branches and plan programs and services that will get teens into our buildings. By establishing a stronger connection between ourselves and our colleagues, we have a much better chance of finding out what teens are really looking for at our libraries and in our city. Not to mention, this partnership will allow us to get know our colleagues interests and talents, which is very advantageous and re-assuring because we know there are other people in our systems who are just as passionate as we are about serving teens.

Along with co- planning, and co-hosting programs with our colleagues, I want to continue the dialogue about taking the extra step in getting to know our teens. Although we may try every social media outlet we know and make a million flyers, we need to remember that if we want to know what teens want, we have to go into our communities and find out from the source itself. Again, we have our standard outreach programs and resources, but we need to keep trying other methods of connecting with teens. For example, if schools are having a volunteer fairs, we can pick up the phone and ask if we can set-up a booth. Another example: if we know teens are flooding the local coffee shop to study, why not drop off flyers there or maybe host a passive program at the venue. The sky is the limit with ideas so try one and run with it. However, don’t forget about the obvious factors, which are working with teachers and school administrators to get the word out that the library does offer teens programs and services. I know it can be a pain communicating with teachers and administrators, but persistence really pays off. Whether we invade the local high schools, create Teen Advisory Boards, visit other branch libraries, or hang out at Teen Centers, the best way to find out what teens want is to ask! This is the best data we could ever ask for so let’s run with it and work together to make it known that teens have a place in public libraries and, more importantly, that they have people in their corner who truly care about their interests and well-being.

Now that we have an idea of what teens want, and have a team of people who are willing to help makes these ideas a reality, the next part is to enjoy ourselves. Despite the countless amounts of hours we put into implementing programs, the real payoff is to see teens enjoy themselves and actually say they want to come back for the next program. More importantly, it’s imperative that we show our teens that we really enjoy these programs so get involved with them! Whether it’s an art project, a fitness program, or a presentation, become part of the program as well. One program that I had the most fun with was our Silent Library program, which involved a lot of prep and organization; I was literally exhausted, but, when I saw what these teens had to go through, my sides hurt from laughing so much, which made them laugh even more because I was in pain from laughing. Planning, and implementing programs, is only is a step towards having fun; the real fun is watching, and interacting, with our teens so dream big, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and enjoy!

 

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46. Super Animals!

Look! In the library! Is it a librarian? Is it a book? Faster than a reading turtle! Able to carry books taller than a giraffe’s neck! Wilder than a monkey checking out library materials! It’s SUPER ANIMALS!

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Imagine if all of your favorite Super Animals from picture books, chapter books and graphic novels arrived at the library to…Save the Day!  HeroBear and the Kid by Mike Kunkel, Ready Rabbit Gets Ready by Brenna Maloney, Extraordinary Warren, A Super Chicken by Sarah Dillard, Superworm by Julia Donaldson, Fashion Kitty and the Unlikely Hero by Charise Mericle Harper, Super Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold, Superfab Saves the Day by Berengere Delaporte, Turbo the Hamster in Captain Awesome Takes a Dive by Stan Kirby, all of the Super-Pets in the DC Super-Pets series, and a brand new book, Super Fly: The World’s Smallest Superhero! by Todd H. Doodler.  Picture it!  Now we are ready to create comics at the Super Animals! summer reading program at the library.

Read Superworm by Julia Donaldson (or one of your favorite super animal books.)

Create your own comic book:

  • Draw a Super Animal. Supplies for each table include colored 8 x 11 paper, white paper, pencils, markers, glue sticks, and scissors.
  • Draw Big! Draw one Super Animal in action with your group of kids. (If you have more time, have everyone draw one BIG Super Animal and display them around the room. Supplies: colored pencils and butcher paper.
  • Talk about your Super Animal.
  • Describe your super animal. A Super Frog? A Super Flamingo?

    Super Flamingo! by JC and P.  Photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

    Super Flamingo! by JC and P. Photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

  • What is their super power? Check out the Big Book of Superheroes by Bart King for super ideas.

    photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

    photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

  • Share a story idea.
    One story idea:  The children’s chapter books are disappearing from the library! They start to re-appear a month later in the outside reading garden in the shape of animals.  First, a HUGE penguin book sculpture appears, the following week, a HUGE zebra.  Every Saturday after Book Buzz, another new chapter book disappears.  Who is taking the books out of the library?   Is it Sneaky Snake?  Or Master Mouse?  And why are they making animal sculptures out of children’s chapter books?
  • Who will save the day?
  • Continue to share Super Animal powers around the room.
  • Create a comic with six frames and dialog bubbles so kids can tell their animal’s story: intro to your super animal, where? what? how? and an ending.  (You can always add more.)
  • ZAP! Act out your Super Animal comic book.  (If you have time.)

    photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

    photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Explore more Summer Reading programs at Deschutes Public Library.

Check out some of the other SUPER animal summer reading programs:
Wildlife Superheroes at NYPL
Be a Hero, Save a Butterfly at Arnolds Park Library
Great Stuffed Animal Superhero Sleepover & Storytime at Belvedere Tiburon Library
Animal Superhero Show at Mason Public Library

Comic Book Websites:
www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/
artroche.com
www.mykidsadventures.com/create-comic-strip-kids/
http://www.toon-books.com

The fabulous Dana Horrocks and Lindsey Krabbenhoft share four Superhero and Hero songs to get us ready for Summer Reading at the library! Thank you, Dana and Lindsey. 

Are you ready for Every Hero Has a Story at your library? My library cape is on…SHAZAM! 

Happy Summer Reading!

Super Animals! by JC and PF photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery and the ComicBook! app.

Super Animals! by JC and PF photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery and the ComicBook! app.

Please share your comic book and super animal ideas or photos in the comments below.

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.

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47. #BookADay | YOU NEST HERE WITH ME by Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple and Melissa Sweet (Boyds Mill)

Heidi and Jane were kind enough to answer Three Questions for me earlier this year:

Three Questions With Jane Yolen: Advice For Young Writers, Books, Tea and YOU NEST HERE WITH ME

Three Questions With Heidi Stemple: Advice For Young Writers, Owls and YOU NEST HERE WITH ME

---------------------

More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

 

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48. SIX BY SONDHEIM for writers


The other day I watched the terrific documentary SIX BY SONDHEIM. (available streaming on HBO-Go, or on Amazon or iTunes.) It's part biography, part show-biz history, following Sondheim's career guided by six important songs in his life. It's excellent, and I was particularly struck by how many nuggets of wisdom I found, profound insights into not just Sondheim's creative process, but a creative life in general. Though he is writing musicals, obviously, I think that much of this is applicable to novelists as well. Just replace "put on a show" with "publish." You should watch the doccy yourself because I can't do it justice... but I can provide six things that I found worth remembering:


1) On "writing what you know":  "Part of the author is always in what he writes, and partly [it's] a work of imagination. It's like what Faulkner said about Observation, Imagination and Experience - you can do without one of them, but you can't do without two."

Sondheim was paraphrasing Faulkner, but yeah. This is good advice. You may not have lived something yourself, but if you have good observation and imagination skills, you can still bring it alive on the page.

2) On harsh reality: At 15, he showed Oscar Hammerstein something he'd written.... Oscar was nice about it, but Stephen said he wanted to get REAL feedback, just like he would rate it against something professional. (Young Stephen thought his own work was terrific, and was pretty sure he was about to be the first 15 year old with a Broadway show.)

Oscar said,"Oh well in that case, this is the worst thing I've ever read." Sounds pretty harsh, but Oscar then went on to show young Stephen point-by-point how his work was failing, and Stephen had to agree. Awkward! But a learning moment. You may not want to hear that your work isn't good enough - but if you are submitting to agents and editors for publication, they will expect your work to be on par with that of a professional.

And even excellent professionals get a LOT of stinging rejections!

3) On imitation: "One of the things he [Oscar] told me to do was not to imitate him. 'If you write what you feel it will come out true. If you write what I feel, it will come out false. Write for yourself and you'll be 90% ahead of everyone else.'"

4) On learning to write: "You can't learn in a classroom and you can't learn on paper. You can only learn by writing and doing. Writing and doing. A friend says 'write something, put it on. Write something, put it on.' -- well, you can't always put it on, but that's the only way to do it. That's how everyone who's ever been good got good.

5) On failure: "I experienced real failure when I did I Hear a Waltz... we thought, well, this'll be an easy job and we'll make a quick buck. Those are reasons never to write a musical.

It was a respectable show. It was not lambasted by the critics. It was politely received by critics, and politely received by audiences, and had no passion, and no blood, and no reason to be. And I learned from that, the only reason to write is from love. You must not write because you think it's going to be a hit or because it's expedient, or anything like that. It's so difficult to write, it's so difficult to put on a show, that if you have the privilege of being able to write it, write it out of passion

That's what failure taught me." 

6) PROTIP: "I work entirely with Blackwing pencils for a number of reasons. One is, it's very soft lead, and therefore wears down very quickly, so you can spend lots of time resharpening. Which is a lot easier and more fun than writing." ;-)




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49. Francesca Zappia, author of MADE YOU UP, on writing what you love

MADE YOU UP is the debut novel by Francesca Zappia, and we're excited to have her here to tell us more about it.

Francesca, how long did you work on MADE YOU UP?

I've been working on MADE YOU UP for over ten years. It hasn't looked the way it does now until just recently, but the characters and settings have always been there, and they've evolved as the story evolved.

What do you hope readers will take away from MADE YOU UP?

I hope they'll take away from the book that it's okay to ask for help. Needing help isn't a weakness, and if you look, there will always be someone willing to help you, whether the issue is inside yourself or with some situation outside you.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I'll write just about anywhere as long as I have my computer and headphones. I do most of my writing from home, because public spaces feel too...well, public. Sometimes, if I feel like I'm hitting a wall, I'll switch from computer to a notebook and pen. Sometimes I have to go straight loose-leaf paper and let them fall on the floor after I write on them. I pretty much always have to have music though--each story has specific songs or genres of music that fit it best, and listening to those helps center me on that particular story.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Write what you love. If you're in a position where you can't write what you love, at least make it interesting to you. If you can't make it interesting to you, then come up with a new idea. If writing is what you love, then writing what you don't like will only depress and frustrate you, and that's no way to live.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Made You Upby Francesca Zappia
Hardcover
Greenwillow Books
Released 5/19/2015

 Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Francesca Zappia lives in central Indiana and majors in computer science at the University of Indianapolis. She spends most of her time writing, drawing her characters, and reading. Made You Up is her debut novel.

(Note from the formatter: Made You Up is a phenomenal debut novel. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!)




What did you think of our interview with Francesca Zappia, author of MADE YOU UP? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

0 Comments on Francesca Zappia, author of MADE YOU UP, on writing what you love as of 5/24/2015 7:49:00 AM
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50. New Voice: Stefanie Lyons on Dating Down

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Stephanie Lyons is the first-time author of Dating Down (Flux, 2015). From the promotional copy:

At Café Hex, Samantha Henderson can imagine being the person she really wants to be. 

It’s her place to daydream about going to art school and getting away from her politician father. It’s her place to imagine opening herself up to a new kind of connection, away from her family and the drama of high school.

Enter X—the boy she refuses to name. He’s older, edgy, bohemian . . . in short, everything she thinks she needs. 

Her family and friends try to warn her that there may be more to him than she sees, but still she stays with X, even as his chaos threatens to consume them both.

Told in waves of poetry—whispering, crashing—Dating Down is a portrait of exhilaration and pain and the kind of desire that drives a girl to risk everything.

In writing your story, did you ever find yourself concerned with how to best approach "edgy" behavior on the part of your characters? If so, what were your thoughts, and what did you conclude? Why do you think your decision was the right one?

I did struggle with how much to tell. My story is about a girl who spirals downward while in a bad relationship. It’s odd because—as far as the drugs and partying—I didn’t feel I needed to censor. But the sex, well, that was the part I wrote around for many edits until finally realizing it just wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t go there. So I did. And it hasn’t been a problem out in the real world with readers.

I guess my new mantra is anytime I take off my seventeen-year-old hat and put on my writer’s hat, I’m doing a disservice to the story.

As someone with a MFA in Writing for Children (and Young Adults), how did your education help you advance in your craft? What advice do you have for other MFA students/graduates in making the transition between school and publishing as a business?

My MFA made all the difference. I was a sponge while I was at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Time there is an endless source of creative inspiration and information: The lectures and discussions. Talking about books. Why you did or didn’t like a particular one. Turning something in on a monthly basis and knowing someone’s on the other side ready to read it and help you make it better.

All these things gave me “aha” moments. And the people I met were super talented and supportive. I didn’t just gain a degree, I gained lifelong writing friends.

As for advice for other MFA students making the transition, I’d definitely say, know that when you’re creating something that is the creative process. Once you create it and turn it over to an agent or editor that is the business process.

The creative process is personal. The business process isn’t. Learn to separate the two and you will have a much easier time.

Ruby is a vital part of the creative process.

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