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A Teen and Tween Librarian's thoughts on books, reading and adventures in the library.
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1. Author Guest Post: Julie Mata-Kate Walden Directs Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway

Please welcome author Julie Mata to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Her second book in  the Kate Walden Directs series is Bride of Slug Man, is out this month! 

About the Book: (from Goodreads) After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn't hurt that he's pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.

With rumors spreading in school and between sets, Kate finds herself juggling more than just call times and rewrites. And judging from the whispers Kate hears about Tristan Kingsley,she suspects that he isn't interested in having a fellow film-buff friend; he just wants to prove himself as the best filmmaker in school by winning the Big Picture Film Festival. Kate vows to enter too, and tries to focus on just making the best movie she can.

But between the cut throat popularity contest, a bully situation that goes from bad to worse, and several on-set mishaps, Kate is going to need all the movie magic she can get to make sure Bride of Slug Man hits the big screen.


Plucky…not Perfect

by Julie Mata




Can I admit to a tiny pet peeve? It’s certain “mean girl” and “mean boy” characters in children’s books. You know the ones—everything they do and say is mean and their nasty behavior is usually aimed at the main character. They appear to have no role other than to cause problems for the MC. In contrast, the MC is the sympathetic “good kid” who sometimes suffers from terrible flaws like being toogenerous or too concerned about their friends and family.

Here’s my peeve—I raised two girls, hung out with a lot of middle school-age kids, and none of them fit either of the “good kid/bad kid” descriptions. I saw nice kids who had bad days and said mean things, even to their friends. I also saw kids who—yes—were more troubled, who had issues, but were still capable of kindness, humor and friendship.

In other words, they were real kids. When I sat down to write about Kate Walden, I wanted her to be a strong, likeable, funny character, but I also wanted her to be real. In Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man, Kate has already finished one movie to great acclaim. All the kids at school want to be in her next project. Suddenly, a cute new boy shows up who also likes to make movies, and they become rivals. Kate struggles with spiteful feelings. She makes bad assumptions and nurses a grudge.  Really, couldn’t that be any of us on a bad day? Luckily, Kate learns from her mistakes, which is what I think parents should hope for—not that our children will be perfect “good kids,” because that’s a huge expectation to put on anyone, but that they will learn from their stumbles and grow emotionally as they grow physically.

Let’s face it—middle school years can be tough. Innocent childhood is receding and adulthood looms on the far horizon like a scary gray fog. Like a lot of kids at that age, Kate worries about her social standing and what other kids think of her, but she’s also a plucky girl who’s not afraid to pursue a big dream. Hopefully, middle grade readers can relate to her character and maybe even see some of themselves in her humorous antics and social misfires.





About Julie: Julie Mata grew up outside Chicago and currently lives in Wisconsin, where she owns a video production business with her husband.. She loves movies and once wrote and directed her own short film. She also loves traveling, gardening, and reading a really good book. Her first book was Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens. For more information, including a downloadable curriculum guide and a filmmaking tip of the month, visit her website: juliemata.com.
Twitter: @juliehmata



Follow along on the Bride of Slug Man blog tour!

Monday, May 18
GreenBeanTeenQueen
Wed. May 20
Once Upon a Story
Thurs, May 21
Read Now, Sleep Later
Fri, May 22
Curling Up with a Good Book
Tues, May 27
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wed, May 28
BookHounds YA
Thurs, May 29
The Brain Lair
Fri, May 30
Kid Lit Frenzy

Want to win a copies of the Kate Walden Directs books? Fill out the form below to enter!
-Contest thanks to Big Honcho Media and Disney-Hyperion Books
-One entry per person
-US Address only please
-Ages 13+
-Contest ends May 28

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2. Anna Banks Interview-Joyride Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway


Please welcome Anna Banks to GreenBeanTeenQueen as part of her tour for her new book Joyride!

About The Book: (from goodreads:) A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

-Your Syrena Legacy series features mermaids and Joyride is contemporary. Why did you make the switch? Was one genre easier or more difficult to write?

I didn’t intentionally make the switch to contemporary. I’m not familiar with how you should even write contemporary, because I hadn’t read too many before this. But it’s Carly who compelled me to write it. She has a story to tell even if it’s not fantasy, and I can’t ignore the her strong voice. Fantasy is much easier for me to write. I get to create a world in fantasy, where in contemporary, the world has already been created. You’d think that would be easier but it’s not. Sticking within the boundaries of this world and still telling an interesting story is hard writing. A lot of fantasies have high concept plots, it’s expected, and contemporaries tend to focus on character. In JOYRIDE, I tried to write a balance between plot and character. I hope you enjoy it. J


-What's the best prank you ever pulled?

I’ve pulled a lot of pranks in my time but here’s the most recent. I was selling one of my Coach purses on craigslist and agreed to meet a lady in a parking lot so she could buy it. We had texted and confirmed our appointment. When she got there, she told me I didn’t have any business selling a Coach purse for that much money and that I should just give it to her. Ummmm, no. She pretty much pitched a fit for like fifteen minutes that I wouldn’t give her my purse. So after our confrontation, I downloaded a picture of a black cat, made lost posters for it with the lady’s number on it and put a $500 reward on it. Every available street light in town got a poster. I’m pretty sure she’s going to have to switch her number.

-If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be?

Warren from the Shatter Me series. Obviously, the guy is hot. But I’d want to pick apart his brain, and unfortunately he and I are amused by much of the same things. I think we’d get kicked out of the restaurant and that’s when our real dinner would begin.


-What books are on your nightstand right now?

I’m at RT, so I’ve got some steamy romance novels on my hotel night stand—and don’t think I’m not reading them all, either!

Want to win a copy? Leave a comment below!
Contest thanks to Macmillan Books!

-One entry per person
-Contest ends May 28
-Ages 13+
-US/Canada Address Only Please

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3. Middle School Princess Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway




Inspired by Meg Cabot's newest book, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, Mac Kids asked bloggers what they would do if they woke up and discovered they were a princess or prince.

If I woke up and discovered I was a princess, I would be both nervous and excited. I would immediately want to check out my new royal castle's library (because a castle has to have a library!) and I hope that it would look just like Belle's castle, because isn't that what every bookish princess wants? 

I would also use my new princess powers for good and bring books and libraries to kids all over my kingdom. I would make sure my kingdom had libraries with great teen and children's librarians. I would even build a library just for kids and teens and staff it with the best librarians possible (all my friends of course who are the most amazing librarians ever!) And then one of my first acts as princess would be to bring a litfest to my kingdom bringing in authors and illustrators from all over the world. If I could, I would also use my powers to fund libraries outside of my kingdom and bring books to children everywhere I went. 

Aside from all the bookish things I would do, I would make sure that Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan got to own a sports team, since that's his dream. If I get my dream library and get to bring books to everyone I meet, then Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan should get something too, right? 

What would you do if you woke up and discovered you were a princess? That's what happens to Olivia in Meg Cabot's new book, From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess. Want to win a copy of the book? Leave a comment below!

Contest thanks to Macmillan Kids Books
Contest ends May 26
One entry per person please
Ages 13+
US Address only please

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4. Author Guest Post: The Songs of Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

 About the Book: (from Goodreads) Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer.

Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She's volunteering in the medical tent. She's like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries.

When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them...

I am excited to welcome author Sarvenaz Tash to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Her newest book, Three Day Summer, is all about Woodstock. She captures the atmosphere and the music and I wanted to know more about the music in the book and the playlists she made to get inspired to  write. I love this playlist and listening to it gets me in the mood for summer (and to read Sarvenaz's awesome book!) Be sure to check  out the rest of her tour stops as well!



It will probably come as no surprise that I love the music of the 1960s. And although I myself was a teenager during the bizarre grunge/pop hybrid that was the mid- to late ‘90s, I actually spent most of my high school years listening to this music instead.

I made two Spotify playlists to go with my Woodstock love story, Three Day Summer. One features the songs—and in some cases, some of the very performances—that my two main characters Cora and Michael hear during the festival itself. The other I like to refer to as my “’60s milieu” playlist, and I filled it with not only some of my favorite songs of the decade, but some of the tunes that I think best embody the many facets of it: from its socially conscious anthems to its feel-good pop to its trippy soundscapes. (I do have one strong caveat: Beatles songs are not available on Spotify and that’s the only reason they are not included on this list!)

Here then are the songs I chose for the Three Day Summer—In the Mood soundtrack (followed, of course, by the playlist itself!):

1“Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” The Byrds
Between the out-of-this-world harmonies and the profound lyrics (partially taken from the Bible no less!), this is just one of those songs that makes me feel calm, reflective, and peaceful. I thought it was fitting since the peace sign is one of the most enduring symbols of the 1960s.

   “Happy Together” The Turtles
True to its title, this song just makes me feel toe-tappingly happy and, I think, is indicative of the some of the best pop to come out of the decade. Plus it’s about being head over heels in love which, of course, also goes along with the book.

   “Piece of My Heart” Janis Joplin
I’m not sure it’s possible to find a more gutsy and gut-wrenching performance of a song that’s both about heartbreak and about girl power. (This line: “I’m going to show you, baby, that a woman can be tough” is a particular favorite to belt out in the shower! Amiright, ladies?). Janis plays an important role in the book and she performed this song at Woodstock too!

“"America” Simon & Garfunkel
Another song with harmonies that slay me in the best way. I also think the lyrics portray both the hope and the heartache that came with the changing face of what it was to be young in 1960s America.

  :"You Keep Me Hangin’ On” The Supremes
The sound of Motown was a huge, indelible part of the 1960s and The Supremes were for sure the queens of it.

  “Build Me Up Buttercup” The Foundations
Yes, this has played at every Sweet 16 you’ve been to since the beginning of time (or, at least, since 1968) but there’s a reason for it: you simply must sing and dance along to its unshakeable beat.

     “Somebody to Love” Jefferson Airplane
From another Woodstock performer, I love the contrast of this song to the one before it and I think it’s a great example of some of the more psychedelic sounds of the decades. Plus lead singer Grace Slick is another fantastic rocker chick that embodies the feminist spirit of the decade.

     “Don’t Worry Baby” The Beach Boys
You can’t love the ‘60s without loving the beautiful harmonies of The Beach Boys and this one is one of my very favorite love songs of theirs . . . that also just happens to be about drag racing.

     “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” Nancy Sinatra
Remember all that girl power I mentioned before? In the age of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, this kiss-off anthem just fits right in. Plus I know that Nancy wore a lot of fabulous go-go boots to perform it—and what is more ‘60s than that?!

  “Joy to the World” Three Dog Night
The lyrics don’t make a whole lot of sense (why is this person friends with a bullfrog?!) but you can’t help singing along anyway as this ode to the world is quite joyous indeed.

  “I’m a Believer” The Monkees
Full confession: The Monkees were my first-ever concert (see the first paragraph of this post) and I’ve adored them for practically as long as I can remember. Though they started out as a made-for-TV Beatles parody band, they ended up with some truly spectacular songs in their oeuvre. This bouncy number is a particular favorite.

 “Bad Moon Rising” Creedence Clearwater Revival
Also performed at Woodstock, this song comes in at a key point in the story. I also think it has a particular rock/bluegrass vibe that was a big part of the ‘60s sound.

  “Time of the Season” The Zombies
I find this song both sultry and trippy, which I think showcases yet another facet of the decade.

  “My Generation” The Who
The ultimate anthem for the teen population of the 1960s? I think so! Of course, I’m not sure how the Who feel now about belting out lyrics like “I hope I die before I grow old” but I think that it’s hard to find a song that better embodies the universal feeling of being young and misunderstood.

15.  “A Change Is Gonna Come” Sam Cooke
A song that remains as beautiful and pertinent today as it did when it came out, Cooke was directly singing about the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the hope for a better tomorrow that led so many to fight for equality.


Follow the Tour:

Mon, May 11
What a Nerd Girl Says
Tues, May 12
GreenBeanTeenQueen
Wed, May 13
Mother Daughter Book Club
Thurs, May 14
Curling Up with a Good Book
Fri, May 15
The Compulsive Reader

Mon, May18
The Hiding Spot
Tues, May 19
Adventures of a Book Junkie
Wed, May 20
Proseandkahn
Thurs, May 21
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Fri, May 22
Word Spelunker

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5. The Eternity Key Trailer

The Eternity Key is here! Check out the awesome book trailer!

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6. Into the Dark Series Ambassador Post #3

Get ready for some awesome preview quotes from The Eternity Key!


The book releases on April 28! If you haven't read The Shadow Prince, don't worry! It's out now so check your local library or bookstore (it's out in paperback!)


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7. Gabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen and Daryle Conners PLUS Giveaway


About the Book:
 (from the publisher) Case File: The First Unsittable

 The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task...until now.

After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It's a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby's audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye.

Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?



GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: i was first intrigued by this book when I saw it billed as "Babysitters Club meets Men in Black." Two things I loved as a tween and teen combined? I was sold. And luckily, Gabby Duran lived up to my excitement. 


Gabby is a super babysitter-she's like Kristi, Claudia, Mary Ann, and Stacy combined with a dash of super nanny. So of course she would be awesome at babysitting aliens! And she gets some crazy clients! A kid that can turn into a giant slug? Gabby to the rescue! The story is filled with lots of humor and though there are aliens, it's sci-if light, so u think readers who typically shy away from science fiction would still be interested. Tweens are sure to get a kick out of Gabby's adventures, while feeling grateful about their own babysitting charges! Lots of fun and I'm looking forward to book two! 


Want to win a Gabby Duran prize pack? Thanks to Disney Publishing, one lucky winner will receive a copy of Gabby Duran and the Unsittables, a Gabby Duran tumbler, and a lightup UFO flyer. 

Fill out form below to enter!
-US Address only
-one entry per person
-ages 13+
-contest ends May 2

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8. Blog Tour Guest Post : The Water and the Wild by K. E. Ormsbee PLUS GIVEAWAY



Please welcome K. E. Ormsbee to GreenBeanTeenQueen! K.E. Ormsbee is the author of The Water and the Wild. I asked her to share about libraries and I love the libraries she talks about! She even shared pictures and I want to visit these libraries now!

About K. E. Ormsbee: I was born and raised in the Bluegrass State. Then I went off and lived in places across the pond, like England and Spain, where I pretended I was a French ingénue. Just kidding! That only happened once. I also lived in some hotter nooks of the USA, like Birmingham, AL and Austin, TX. Now I'm back in Lexington, KY, where there is a Proper Autumn.

In my wild, early years, I taught English as a Foreign Language, interned with a film society, and did a lot of irresponsible road tripping. My crowning achievement is that the back of my head was in an iPhone commercial, and people actually paid me money for it.

Nowadays, I teach piano lessons, play in a band you've never heard of, and run races that I never win. I likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. I still satiate my bone-deep wanderlust whenever I can.



I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say I grew up in the library. Both my parents were educators who read to me constantly and taught me how to read for myself. They created one insatiable bookworm. I munched through books with a voracious appetite, and I looked forward to my weekly visit to the library more than I did trips to the pizzeria. Oh yeah. I was a Supreme Nerd.

Growing up, I was well acquainted with many public library branches in my hometown of Lexington, KY. I knew which branch had the best Middle Grade section (Beaumont), which had the best storyteller (Lansdowne), and which had the coolest CD collection (Central).

On occasion, I even got to visit the behemoth William T. Young Library on the University of Kentucky’s campus. Truth be told, a college library was pretty boring stuff to nine-year-old Kathryn, but I lovedskipping through the automated sliding bookshelves, deliciously terrified that the motion sensors might not detect me. To be crushed in the Anthropology section would be a spectacular way to go, reasoned Little Kathryn. I was a pretty morbid kiddo.

I’ve always considered libraries to be magical places, and I’ve discovered some rather spectacular ones in my travels, from London to Prague to Seville to Cambridge. I mean, take a peek at this teeny but cozy library at King’s College, Cambridge:

(Magical, right? Magical.)

It wasn’t until my senior year of college, however, that I discovered the Library of Dreams, the Library to End All Libraries, MY FAVORITE LIBRARY. In 2011, I set foot in the newly opened Library in the Forest in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. And yes, this library is just as cool as it sounds. 



Library in the Forest, which is located on the edge of nine wooded acres, is Alabama’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified facility. My personal favorite feature of the library is the Treehouse Reading Room, a special space where you can read suspended above the forest.


I spent many days studying at Library in the Forest, soaking in the natural light from its giant windows and watching kids explore the surrounding area on class field trips. Whenever I reached my writing limit, I knew I could just rip out my earbuds, swing on my backpack, and step out into the great outdoors for a hike.

But it’s not just Library in the Forest’s location or facilities that make it so cool. It’s the people who tirelessly work to provide the community with great programming and countless opportunities for kids and teens to learn and explore. What makes the library extra special to me is all the time I spent there with friends who loved the winning combo of books, nature, and community-minded programming just as much as I did.

It seems rather fitting, then, that I worked on revisions for The Water and the Wild while at Library in the Forest, since the importance of nature, stories, and friendship are all central to Lottie Fiske’s story. I think all three of those things carry a little bit of magic in them, whether they’re found in the pages of a fantasy book or in a library just outside Birmingham, Alabama.


So! Next time you’re in the area, be sure to stop by the very special Library in the Forest. I hope you’ll feel the magic, too.

About The Water and the Wild: A green apple tree grows in the heart of Thirsby Square, and tangled up in its magical roots is the story of Lottie Fiske. For as long as Lottie can remember, the only people who seem to care about her are her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things are happening on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot's getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless—until a door opens in the apple tree. Follow Lottie down through the roots to another world in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.


Want to win a copy? Leave a comment below to enter to win a signed copy! 
-One entry per person
-Ages 13+ up
-Contest ends April 30

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9. Into the Dark Character Profiles

I love knowing how author's see their characters, so these character profiles for Haden and Daphne from Bree Despain's Into the Dark Series are so much fun! I especially love reading who the inspiration was for each character. 


Character Profile: Daphne Raines

Name: Daphne Raines (a.k.a. The Cypher)

Hair color: Golden blonde

Eye color: blue

Height: Just little over 6 feet

Build: Tall and curvy--often described as looking like an amazon.

Favorite food: BBQ bacon cheese burger with avocado and a single onion ring.

Favorite drink: Rootbeer!

Special skills: singing, guitar, floral design, animal charming, can hear special tones and music put off by all living/organic things. Uses these tones and sounds to read people and situations. (May be able to do even more with this ability--like control the elements.)

Weaknesses: Abandonment issues from being raised without her father, has difficulty letting people in, overly focused on her goals, can't drive.  

Life goal: Become a world famous musician on her own merit--not because her father is athe Joe Vince "the God of Rock."  

Character inspirations: Taylor Swift meets Dean Winchester from Supernatural Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender. 

Character Profile: Haden Lord

Name: Haden Lord (a.k.a. Lord Haden, Prince of the Underrealm)

Hair color: Dark brown hair in daylight. Appears midnight black in the dark.

Eyes: Jade green with amber fire rings around his pupils. Sometimes, especially when vexed or otherwise emotional, it looks like he has actual flames dancing in his eyes.

Height: about 6'4"

Build: Big and muscular like a Spartan warrior.

Favorite food: Braised hydra in plum sauce and steamed griffin's milk  . . . or pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Favorite drink: Pomegranate nectar--definitely not soda like Daphne, it burns!

Special skills: tracking, hunting, sword fighting, hand-to-hand combat, languages, stealth--to the 
point of being almost invisible in the dark, playing the guitar and singing (he just doesn't know it yet!)

Weaknesses: Impulsive, sometimes selfish, occasionally compassionate of the less fortunate, sentimental about his deceased mother, too human.

Life Goal: To have his honor restored and to reclaim his standing as heir to the throne of the Underrealm. (Or so he thinks.)

Character inspirations: Prince Zuko fromAvatar: The Last Airbender, Sam Winchester from Supernatural, Castiel from Supernatural, Thor and a little bit of Loki.  


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10. Judge a Book By Its Cover: Baby GreenBean Edition

Guys, blogging with a baby is hard. Really hard. I have so many blog posts written in my head that I just need to sit down and actually take the time to write out, which is so much easier said than done. I don't know what it is about blogging that just seems to take up so much more energy, but man, it drains me. 

But becoming a mom hasn't changed my reading. I still read-A LOT. I listen to books and I read books and there are books all over my house, probably more than usual if you count the amount of board books all over the floor at any given moment. Reading isn't hard, it's just finding the time to write the reviews. Sigh. I'll get there.

The fun thing is I have a great reading buddy. Baby GreenBean loves to read which makes this librarian mama very happy. But what really interests me is his fascination and interest in certain books. He judges my books by their covers on a regular basis and I find it so interesting what books he's drawn to. I've tried to snap pictures when I can, so I thought I'd share some of the books Baby GreenBean has most interested in:



I like to think that he has fantastic taste in books and knew this one was getting award buzz which is why he tried to grab it every time he saw it anywhere in the house. I'm not sure what he found so appealing-maybe the colors were calming? But anywhere the book was, Baby GreenBean was sure to find it!



I think it was the bright colors and smiling face that got his attention. Plus, it's a graphic novel-what's not to love? 





Really, who wouldn't want to read a book about dragons? Baby GreenBean was all about this book and would never let me read it because he wanted it for himself! He loved flipping through the pages of this one and even decided to try napping/reading it at one point. I guess thick books make good pillows. 



 



Ok, I admit, this one might be cheating. He wasn't feeling well this day and snuggling together and reading books for committee prep might have been more my choosing than mine, but he still picked up the book!


Other books he's been interested in, but I didn't get pictures of:


I think it's the bright colors in A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd that he liked a lot. Plus, that ice cream does look really good.


He likes big books! He's been very interested in getting his hands on my ARC of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir lately.


Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan has been re-reading Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin and left his large hardcover laying around. Baby GreenBean opened it up and was very intrigued by the maps on the first page.  I think he's going to be a fantasy reader. 




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11. Into the Dark Series by Bree Despain

You might remember hearing about Egmont closing their doors in the US earlier this year. I was so sad to see this publisher say goodbye. I had met wonderful people at Egmont during various ALA conferences and they were always so wonderful. They were also publishing lots of fantastic books, including a series that I had enjoyed recently, Into the Dark by Bree Despain. 

I am a sucker for greek mythology and Into the Dark was a new take on Hades and Persephone, which I was intrigued about. So when Bree Despain put the call out for Into the Dark Ambassadors, I knew I needed to help! I'll be posting some previews, giveaways, and other goodies about the series in anticipation of book two, The Eternity Key, coming later this month. Be sure to check out the first book, The Shadow Prince, if you haven't already! And just to refresh your memory, here's my review of The Shadow Prince and a sneak peak:


GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I really love stories based on Greek Mythology, so when I first heard about Into the Dark I was excited but wary. The Persephone myth seems like a popular trend right now in YA and I wasn't sure how yet another offering of the story would measure up. I was not disappointed as Into the Dark has a fresh, unique take. It may be inspired by the myth of Persephone, but the story is original take on the myth of Persephone as a launching point for a new tale about the Underrealm.

At first glance, it might seem like another girl meets boy with supernatural powers romance. But don't let first impressions deceive you. Yes there's romance between Haden and Daphne, but it's not insta-love. It's a relationship that's brewing all throughout the novel as the two spend time together and get to know each other. Haden isn't a brooding, mysterious lead. Instead he's somewhat awkward as he's trying to navigate a human world he doesn't understand. He's from the Underrealm and his lessons about humans are dated at times so his language and manners are a bit stiff as he tries to figure out how to communicate with Daphne. I found this aspect of Haden actually charming and funny at times. Sometimes his mannerisms reminded me of a cross between Sheldon Cooper and Data from Star Trek which is kind of an odd statement about a romantic lead I know but I found it endearing. 

Daphne is a strong character who is independent-and not about to be swept off her feet by a mysterious stranger. Daphne and Haden don't have a "meet cute" moment. In fact Haden messes up their first meeting pretty badly and ends up getting punched in the face-not your typical love at first sight moment which I appreciated. Daphne wants to make her own choices about her future and Haden wants her to as well instead of trying to control her or decide her future for her. And there's no love triangle-yay!!!

The cast of supporting characters is well rounded and not just stock sidekicks and best friends. They are all involved in the future of the Underrealm-even if they don't realize it. Both Daphne and Haden have characters around them but they are all woven into the story together. The story is mainly about Daphne and Haden but there are rich subplots with Daphne's new friend Tobin determined to find his missing sister and Daphne's estranged father wanting to make up for lost time. I really enjoyed the layered plot and how all the stories and characters tied together. I felt it made the novel have more of a mystery feel than just romance. There are lots of twists and while some things were a bit predictable, I was still pleasantly surprised by others. 

This is the first in a series and while there are still many unanswered questions at the end, I didn't feel as though I was led hanging. The book had a good conclusion that left me satisfied while still eager for more. A great start to a new series perfect for fans of mythology.

Full Disclosure: reviewed from egalley from publisher

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12. ALSC Blog: Shaking Up Summer Storytimes

Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about our plans for summer programming and some changes to our summer storytimes.

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13. Blog Tour: Author Guest Post by Margi Preus PLUS Giveaway



Photo Credit: Shirleen Hieb Photography

I love to hear what writer's have to say about libraries. I relate so much to what Margi Preus shares about growing up surrounded by stories. May we all be as lucky!


            The stories of writers who as children were non-readers or slow readers or were saved from gangs or a life of crime by fairy godmother-like librarians—these stories are fascinating, and we readers thrive on hearing them.
By comparison, my own story is as dull as dirt. I grew up in a pleasant Minnesota town where people were generally good to each other. We had fine schools and nice teachers. I had a wonderful family and many friends. I was never bullied, nor do I think I was a bully. I was a good student. And I always liked to read. In short: a thoroughly dull and nondramatic life.   
            Except that it wasn’t. My world was populated with trolls and gnomes and golden castles that hung in the air—thanks to the stories my father told. I knew where fairies danced at night and that nissen(little people) were to blame for hiding my mother’s sewing scissors—because she told me that herself. I lived in a storied landscape and a world of stories, not least because my elementary school had a big, vibrant library stuffed full of books, and a librarian who made sure good books, important books, stayed on the shelves—even books that parents objected to, like (believe it or not) Harriet the Spy, the book that made me want to become a writer, or Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, a book that caused me to wander about in a daze for a full week, mind-blown.
            I may not have lived an outwardly exciting life, but through books, I sailed with Jim Hawkins and rafted with Huck Finn, sat under a Spanish cork tree with Ferdinand, wandered the magical realm of Narnia, made way too many donuts with Henry Huggins, and had tea on the ceiling with Mary Poppins.
            I felt every kind of emotion and lived through times both devastating and joyous. I was grumpy with Harriet, knew the comfort of friendship with Mole and Toad and Rat, felt loneliness and privation on the Island of Blue Dolphins, suffered prejudice with Hannah in The Witch of Blackbeard Pond, felt wildly free and independent with Pippi, and wept with Wilbur over the death of our mutual friend, Charlotte.
Like readers before me and after me, I learned to empathize, at least in part—and maybe a big part—because of books. And by books I mean novels. Fiction transported me to many worlds where I made friends and even lost a few, and where I experienced every kind of hardship and sorrow as well as the best kinds of delight, pleasure, and joy. Thanks to stories, my life was never dull, has never been dull, and never will be dull.  And thanks to my elementary school library and librarian, I got a good start down the road to adventure just when it counted the most.




About Enchantment Lake: On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as seventeen-year-old Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hotdish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? 

Would you like to win a *signed copy* of Enchantment Lake
Fill out the form below to enter. 
Contest thanks to University of Minnesota Press!
(open to ages 13+, one entry per person, contest ends April 8)

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14. Library Programs: Fairy Tale Bash

Over Spring Break, we had a full week of programming ranging from storytime to a Lego-Build-Along. Since Ms. A was hosting a Cinderella programming for the tweens the week after Spring Break, I wanted to make sure I had something fairy tale themed for the younger kids who might have wanted to attend the tween program but couldn't because they were too young. I've also been wanting to do a big fairy tale party for a long time, so I thought this would be perfect timing.

I hosted the Fairy Tale Bash on Friday night at 7pm. It was a busy day and the weather was rainy and yucky, so combined with the theme, I thought I'd get a large turnout. Surprisingly, I only ended up with six kids, so I ended up not using the songs I had planned because they were content to read all the books-yay! But even with the low turnout, we still had a blast and I have plenty of stuff to recycle for next time!

I sadly didn't remember to take many pictures until the room was getting taken down. I only have a few to share-sorry!

Here's what I did:

For books, I pulled a variety and since I had a small group, I let the kids choose which books they wanted to read. I used fractured tales and retellings since I wanted something the kids most likely hadn't read before, they entertain the parents as well, and they're fun!


I actually had more books than I needed, but the kids picked everything but The Sunflower Sword to read, so having a small crowd meant for more reading time!

I had planned on singing The Grand Old Duke of York and using the Five Knights in Shining Armor rhyme from Storytime Katie (without the flannel board, because I am not the flannel queen like Katie!) and the song Curtsy Like a Princess from Storytime Katie,  but I ended up forgetting about these when we ended up having an extended storytime and conversation about fairy tales!

After the books, I let the kids loose at all the stations I had planned (which again, was plenty and way more than I really needed!)


-Princess and the Pea-I had the kids hide the pea under a mattress and then try and guess where it was hiding. They had lots of fun hiding the pea from their parents!

-Jack and the Beanstalk Counting Game-I made beanstalks out of paper plates and paper towel tubes. I added a paper castle and some cotton balls on the plates to create a castle in the sky. I got the idea from several things I found on Pintrest, but modeled my beantalks after the ones on Fantastic Fun and Learning. I then put out bowls of beans and some dice and had the kids roll the dice, then place that number of beans on the plate. They quickly learned to set the beans on the plates gently and ended up balancing a bunch of beans on the beanstalk (I think the highest count was around 80!) They had a blast with this one and it was easy to make.

-Three Little Pigs House Building-I used cotton balls as the straw, Popsicle sticks as the sticks, and legos as the bricks. The kids built houses and then tried to blow them down and see which one was the strongest. Another very popular activity!

-Goldilocks and the Three Bears Opposites-I created a chart in Word and printed it out for the kids. It had six boxes and each box contained a word-hot, cold, big, small, hard, soft. I put out various magazines and had the kids find items in the magazines that matched the words to fill in their opposite charts. I also put out crayons in case they wanted to draw their own items in, but I think everyone took the magazine route-cutting and gluing was too much fun.

-Fairy Tale Maps-Since I wasn't sure what age I'd end up with, I wanted something that was easy for the younger kids but that could be more detailed for the older kids. I provided paper and crayons and invited the kids to draw a map of a fairy tale world. They drew maps of how to get through the forest to granny's house and how to help Goldilocks out of the bear's house. It wasn't very popular with the young crowd I had.

-Fairy Tale Matching Game-I printed of pictures of various items and the names of fairy tales and fairy tale characters. I then cut them out and scrambled them up. The kids had to match things like Jack to the Beanstalk, Goldilocks to Porridge, Cinderella to the Glass Slipper, Hansel and Gretel to Candy, Snow White to an Apple, Sleeping Beauty to a Spinning Wheel, Rapunzel to a Tower, Little Red Riding Hood to a Basket. The kids knew most of the matches but they did get stumped on a few. The parents commented on how much they loved this activity because it asked the kids to remember details from the stories and it gave them a chance to talk about the fairy tales and recap the stories with their kids.

-Photo Ops-We have some large painted cardboard face cutouts that we've had forever. One is Little Red Riding Hood, one is Rapunzel, one is Humpty Dumpty and one is Yoda. I used everything except Yoda, although I did debate bringing Yoda out just for fun! Humpty Dumpty is a nursery rhyme, but since I only had princess-types, I wanted something else. I also was lucky enough to borrow these awesome My Little Pony foam noodle horses from another branch:


I used these in the photo op section as well. The best part was when the kids started posing the ponies into the face cutouts and the ponies became Rapunzel! I thought about using the ponies with some sort of jousting something, but I had so much already, I opted not to do that.

At each station I included some basic instructions for each activity as well as some talking points for parents. I saw the parents actually read the suggestions for what to talk about at each station and then talk to the kids, so I think it went over pretty well.

I also had a huge book display of various fairy tale books and many of the books checked out. 

The program was open for grades pre-K-grade 5, but I had mostly pre-K-Kindergarten. 

What I learned:  I will for sure repeat this program because it was so much fun, the activities were easy to put together, and the kids loved it. They stuck around until 8:30 playing with everything and making sure they visited every station. I would change the time though and make it a bit earlier. I think 7 was just too late and the following week we hosted another evening program at 6:30 which had a much larger turnout. I avoided using any specific theme other than fairy tales, but I think catchy names and characters are an initial draw, so maybe I would add something to appeal to that (although I really wanted to not focus on anything Disney!) I would also like to come up with a big dance or movement activity to go along with the fairy tale theme and I would encourage the kids to come in costume as well. Overall it was a lot of fun and I can't wait to do it again!


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15. New Non-Fiction for Inquisitive Teens: Rockin Books from Zest

Zest Books is a fantastic publisher of non-fiction for teens. If you're looking for fun, engaging, and informative non-fiction, add these to your collection!



Secret societies are fascinating. Did you  know there's even a secret (and pricey!) club at Disney? Some of the groups may be familiar, some may be new, but all have interesting secrets to share! 

For teens looking for a fun read exposing secret clubs and societies, this is a book that would be a blast. It could also be a fun starting point for research projects. 



With so much information coming at teens, how do they know who and what to trust? How can they find out information for themselves? Debunk It helps teens sort out what's true and what's false. 

Debunk It helps teens sort out information and decide for themselves what to believe. 




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16. Blog Tour: Rockin' the Boat by Jeff Fleischer PLUS Giveaway

Rockin' The Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries- From Joan of Arc to Malcom X

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About the Book: We love to root for the underdog, and when it comes to underdogs, few are more impressive than the world’s great revolutionaries.

After all, it’s pretty hard to find a more powerful opponent than the world’s biggest empires and emperors. And that’s part of why we’re drawn to the stories of revolutionaries. Many of these men and women were born into virtual dystopias, and they fought throughout their lives, against all odds, to forge a path to a better future. And whether they succeeded, failed, or succeeded only to become a new kind of enemy, there’s something inherently fascinating about that effort to change the world.

Rockin’ the Boat tells the stories of fifty such iconoclasts — including the gladiator Spartacus, the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca, the inspired religious fighter Joan of Arc, the abolitionist John Brown, women’s rights icon Margaret Sanger, and Maori chief Hono Heke — from an incredibly diverse set of places and times. Each entry includes a mix of history, biography, and analysis, and is supplemented with photos, sidebars, and an incredible amount of trivia as well.

As a result, Rockin’ the Boat provides a unique and powerful view of history — a view from the bottom up, through the eyes of people who dared to imagine a different world from the one in which they lived.

You know what I always think is weird? History is not my favorite subject (sorry GreenBeanSexy Man history teacher!) I found it interesting enough but never anything I wanted to keep researching or read about in my free time. Yet I'm a sucker for books that give interesting tidbits and facts about cool people and events in history. I'm not sure why. Maybe it makes history a bit more engaging? Maybe I can handle the small snippets? I'm not sure. But even if you have readers who may snub their nose at a history book, they should still give Rockin' the Boat a chance.

There are 50 people profiled in the book. Some are well known and others are not. Each section is short and they can be read in order (chronologically) or you can jump around and read about whoever you're interested in that moment.  Pictures and clever captions add to the lighthearted appeal of the book.

Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below! 
-One entry per person
-Ends March 30
-Ages 13+
Contest thanks to Zest Books!

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17. Blog Tour: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman


Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: 3/10/2015

About the Book: Three months after the events in Seraphina, Goredd is facing a brewing war between dragons and humans. Seraphina discovers that there may be a way that she and the other half dragons may be able to fight the dragons in a powerful way. Seraphina is given a task to gather other half dragons and sets off on a journey to find those she's only known in her mind garden in real life. Along the way she encounters a dangerous someone from her past who can enter into others minds and control them and has her own motives for gathering the half dragons together. Seraphina needs to keep herself and the others safe and embrace a powerful new destiny.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: When someone is looking for an epic high fantasy, especially one featuring dragons, I have to suggest Seraphina. The characters, worldbuilding and story are so rich and unique that I know it will be a great read for someone wanting lots of high fantasy detail. The same can be said for Shadow Scale which is a richly detailed sequel to Seraphina.

Shadow Scale is a sequel and I do think readers should read Seraphina first because things would make a lot more sense, but I do love that Shadow Scale isn't just a continuation of the story introduced in Seraphina, but also has it's own new plot and storyline. So often sequels just feel like someone took the first book, cut it in half, and the sequel is just more of the first story. Shadow Scale does not suffer from that problem and it stands well on its own feet with details continuing the story as well as introducing a new villain and journey for Seraphina

Characters from the first book are there as well as many new faces giving the book a very large cast of characters. Yet each character is balanced well and I felt as though I knew each character well. Ms. Hartman has a talent for creating characters that you fall in love with and you feel as though you know them and they are part of your life as you read the story. Each of the half dragons we meet have a great story and we get to know them, yet the story never feels bogged down in telling their backstories or giving information about them. It's all wonderfully weaved into the plot.

I was sucked into the book and got lost in Seraphina's world. The book is long, but it has a very quick pace. The worldbuilding is wonderfully done. As Seraphina travels around The Southlands, each new region and city has a distinct culture and atmosphere. The new villain introduced is frightening. Maybe because I listened to part of the book on audio as well and the narrator does a fantastic smarmy and manipulative voice that it added to the character's evilness, but she was chilling! 

I also love that these books feature a romance without it being a big central focus of the story. It's there, but Seraphina and Kiggs know that they have bigger things to deal with than their feelings for each other. Seraphina has larger battles to fight than analyzing her feelings for the Prince and I love her for it. 

Shadow Scale is a fantastically rich and engaging sequel that is sure to please fans of the first book. I would happily read more from this world and Seraphina and I love visiting her again for awhile.

Full Dislcoure: Reviewed from ARC received from publisher

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18. ALSC Blog: Programming Over Breaks

Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about programming over school breaks and how much is too much. I'd love for you to join the conversation!

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19. Book Awards: It's More Than Appeal


I love being part of the Youth Media Awards. There is nothing like being in that room during the announcements and eagerly awaiting the titles of each award to appear. I was thrilled, shocked, and surprised with this year's choices which always makes for a fun experience. 

One thing I saw on social media and heard in the crowd murmurings after the announcement over and over again was how pleased people were that this year the books had appeal. It always went along the line "finally, a book that's popular/I can teach/give to kids/put in my library/say I enjoyed." But that's not the point of the awards. Yes, it's nice when a chosen title is cherished and loved by many (it's never all-every book has a critic). But that's not the point of the awards. 



The Youth Media Awards such as the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz are given for excellence in literature to a child (or young adult for Printz) audience. These books are for excellence in text and art, for literary quality and merit. The criteria states "Committee members must consider excellence of presentation for a child audience."  Nowhere in the criteria of these awards does it say the books must be bestsellers, be popular, be teachable in a classroom, or have wide appeal for the majority of readers.

Why do we demand such appeal factors and popularity from our children's and young adult book awards? We don't hear such outcry and push back over adult literary awards such as the Pulitzer or the National Book Award. Do we expect only books for children and teens to be appealing and are we more accepting of "boring and not appealing" books winning adult literary awards? Or do we just have a hard time defining literary merit when it comes to books for youth and instead want to focus on the readability and popularity of a selected title?

One thing I thought about often when I served on the 2013 Printz Committee was how to define literary merit. It's something the committees think about and discuss a lot throughout the year-it's at the forefront of every reading and every conversation. One way I thought about it was how often I am told that children's and teen books have no literary merit, are fluff, or are not well written. For everyone who sees the value in books for youth there is always someone who does not. I thought about finding the book that proved this value-that showed that books for youth have just as much literary weight as any other award winning book. Sometimes those books of high literary quality aren't the bestselling, popular, most beloved books, and that's okay.

What we seem to forget during the Youth Media Awards is that there are books for every reader. Just because we deem something unappealing doesn't mean there isn't an audience for it.


Not everyone will love every book and that's okay. That's our right as readers. But we have to remember to respect each readers right and remember that the Youth Media Awards are given not because of popularity or supposed appeal, but for literary quality. And it's not our job to agree with all their choices or love each choice made, but to respect and appreciate the hard work each committee member put into this past year of reading and appreciate the search of literary merit in children's and young adult books, regardless of how appealing each title may appear. 

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20. ALSC Blog: Committee Work Prep



Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about how reading Good Night, Gorilla to baby GreenBean is helping me prepare for a year of committee year. Come join me!

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21. One Witch at a Time Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway


About the Book: In this reimagining of "Jack and the Beanstalk," an unsuspecting girl brings one witch's magic into another witch's province, stirring certain disaster.

One Witch at a Time is a sequel to The Brixen Witch, but it can completely stand alone. It's a fun fairy tale retelling with a new spin and fairy tale fans are sure to love it.

I got to ask Stacy DeKeyser about her writing and love of fairy tales-I'm hoping she decides to explore those unanswered questions in Hansel and Gretel and gives us another book!







-What inspired you to write books with a fairy tale/folklore theme?

It started with the Pied Piper. There are so many unexplained things in that story. Why didn’t the villagers pay the piper for getting rid of the rats? And then, why did the piper take it out on the kids? I decided to try and write my own version of the Pied Piper story that answered some of those questions. The result was The Brixen Witch. Writing that book made me realize that every fairy tale has unanswered questions. For example, “Jack and the Beanstalk”: If Jack is clever enough to climb the beanstalk and steal stuff from the giant, how can he also be dumb enough to trade a cow for a handful of dried beans? I love exploring those questions and trying to fill in the blanks with plausible answers.


-Why do you write for middle grade readers?

Those were the books that made me a reader. And the themes that middle grade books explore—finding your place in the world, coming to terms with all the craziness life throws at you—have limitless possibilities, and they are topics that I still struggle with every day. I never get tired of writing about them. Lastly, I think middle grade books tend to preserve the most classic, traditional form of storytelling. (Sort of like fairy tales!) A middle grade book needs a good plot that keeps moving, and characters you care about. And the best stories broaden a reader’s experience while they entertain. That’s what I love to read, and it’s what I try to write.

-What book (or books) would you recommend for someone wanting to start reading middle grade?

Oh, wow, where do I start?

Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) and Because of Winn Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) both prove that a short, simple story can be very satisfying and profound. Any book by Barbara O’Connor. Historical fiction (Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff is a favorite of mine) can make readers curious about the facts of history. If you think you don’t like poetry, try Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. And of course I love fantasy, especially Jonathan Stroud’s books. I love his long sentences and complex plots. I love how he never underestimates his readers.

-If you were trapped in a fairy tale, which one would you choose?


“Hansel and Gretel.” First of all, Gretel has a buddy, which would be nice. Secondly, she’s the hero of the story! She rescues her brother and kills the witch. And what’s going on with that witch, anyway? What makes her want to eat children? She’s clearly very clever, to build a whole cottage out of gingerbread. Couldn’t she put that talent to use for good instead of evil? I’d love to know her story.

Stacy DeKeyser is the author of The Brixen Witch, which received two starred reviews and was a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Pick, and its sequel, One Witch at a Time, as well as the young adult novel, Jump the Cracks and two nonfiction books for young readers. She lives in Connecticut with her family. To learn more and to download a free, CCSS-aligned discussion guide, visit StacyDeKeyser.com.

One lucky winner will receive a set of Stacy DeKeyser’s bewitching reads for middle grades---ONE WITCH AT A TIME in hardcover and THE BRIXEN WITCH in paperback.  (U.S. addresses only. One entry per person. Contest ends February 20)

Leave a comment below to enter!



Follow the One Witch at a Time Tour for more about the book and more chances to win!


Mon, Feb 9
Cracking the Cover
Tues, Feb 10
Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wed, Feb 11
Mother Daughter Book Club
Thurs, Feb 12
GreenBeanTeenQueen
Fri, Feb 13
The Book Monsters
Mon, Feb 16
Word Spelunking
Tues, Feb 17
Read Now, Sleep Later
Wed, Feb 18
Small Review
Thurs, Feb 19
Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Feb 20
The Flashlight Reader

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22. KEEP YA WEIRD: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith PLUS GIveaway

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About the Book: This is the history of the end of the world. After an accident in their small Iowa town, Austin and his best friend Robby, and his girlfriend Shann, are caught in the end of the world. Giant six-foot-tall unstoppable praying mantises are hatching. It's up to Robby and Austin to save the world. But Austin is dealing with teenage emotions and hormones and is caught between his love for Shann and Robby. Survival, hormones, and giant man-eating bugs-you know what I mean.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: There's a reason the tour for Grasshopper Jungle and the upcoming book The Alex Crow is titled "Keep YA Weird." Ask anyone about Grasshopper Jungle and I'm sure one of the first things they will say is "it's weird." Yep, it's weird. But it's also very good.

Yes, the book is about giant praying mantises that hatch, mate, and eat as they take over the world. But that's just one part and actually it's not the biggest part of the novel. This is more Austin's story about figuring out his history, his story, and dealing with his conflicted feelings about Robby and Shann. I saw someone describe it on Facebook as a "bi-gay-straight love triangle set at the end of the world" and I think that's a pretty good description.

We recently read Grasshopper Jungle  for my book club and I mentioned how it's a bit of a "coming-of-age" novel (even though I really hate that term) and someone else pointed out that they didn't think Austin ever really comes of age. Austin is "selfish" as Robby describes in the novel and I don't know that even by the end of the book he is less selfish or any less conflicted. But that's part of what makes Grasshopper Jungle so good. There are no happy endings or easily resolved conflicts. This is a history and history is messy and confusing. Life doesn't always make sense.

I actually really loved Austin and Robby and loved their relationship. I liked Shann alright too, but I felt her character kind of got dropped about halfway through (this is Austin telling the story after all) but I would have liked to know more about Shann towards the end of the book as well. But back to Austin and Robby. Austin often refers to Robby as a hero and Robby is just so even-keeled and kind that I felt like I would be friends with Robby in real life. (I'd probably be friends with Austin too, but I think I would be just as annoyed with him as his friends are.) Robby really shines throughout, partly because of his actions and partly because of the way Austin talks about him. But Robby is a fantastic character and I absolutely loved the dialogue and the interplay between Robby and Austin.

Austin recording of history is honest and hilarious. He points out how roads converge and I found all of his recordings digging deeper into his own history as well as what else happened to have everyone end up at this moment fascinating. His job as historian is one he takes seriously and his comments are wry and serious which also makes them funny. And this is a teenage boy we're talking about here, recording a very honest history of being seventeen, so there is a lot of talk about being horny, having sex, and thinking about sex. Yet I never found any of it graphic or out of place. It fit Austin's history.
The most gruesome thing in the book is all of the bugs eating people, which would often feel very Twilight Zoney or like a B-Science Fiction movie.

There are many ways you could sell Grashopper Jungle to readers. It's a science fiction end of the world story, giant bugs who eat people, a love triangle, or a boy trying to get a handle on life and figure things out. But any way you sell it to readers, I think it will be enjoyed. It's a weird, crazy book that I had a ton of fun with.  And I'm so glad Andrew Smith is keeping YA weird.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley received at ALA conference from publisher

Thanks to Penguin and Keeping YA Weird, I have a copy of Grasshopper Jungle to giveaway! One lucky winner will get to enjoy the weirdness! Fill out the form below. One entry per person, US Address only please. Contest ends March 1. And stay tuned for more Keep YA Weird giveaways and a review of The Alex Crow!

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23. New Blogs to Check Out!

I have the best staff in the world. I know all you other youth services managers think your staff is the greatest, but I'm here to tell you that while you might have an awesome staff, my youth services staff is truly amazing. I am constantly inspired by all they do and I feel so lucky to get to work with them every day.


Two of my amazing staff members have blogs that you really need to check out!


Pamela is one of my staff members who has a passion for tween services. She and one of my other staff, Miss. A, team up regularly to provide very fun and creative tween programs. We've always tried to provide programs for this age group, but with Pamela and Miss A as our tween power team, they are making it happen! She recently published an article with VOYA on last year's summer tween programs. She also works on our tween book groups and is pursuing her MLS and is already a fantastic librarian. The Moose is her favorite animal, which means anytime we get a new Moose picture book, it goes straight to Pamela!



I knew Valerie from the library world before she started working at my library and every time I got to talk to her, I thought she was so cool. So I was thrilled and delighted when she wanted to join our team! She is our teen librarian and she is bringing lots of energy and creativity into our teen department and I love watching her interact with the teens. She has great passive programs and is one of the most geekily awesome people I know. Valerie also loves Star Wars, Cosplay, and Sherlock which makes her even more cool.

Check out their blogs and they write about library programs, book reviews, and adventures in the library. They are both fantastic resources! I am lucky to have them!

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24. Blog Tour: Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye PLUS Giveaway




Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

Release Date: 3/3/2015

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About the Book: Did you know a gravy boat can change your life? Charlotte and Tobias Eggers do. After a prank on their terrible nanny involving gravy and tadpoles ends in a misunderstanding, Charlotte and Tobias's father packs them in the car, drives them to the desert, and leaves them outside of Witherwood Reform School. Before he can change his mind, a car accident leaves him with amnesia. Charlotte and Tobias have no choice but to enter Witherwood Reform School with is odd teachers, fierce animals, and unending chocolate pudding. But Witterwood is no ordinary school-the headmaster has perfected mind control. Can Charlotte and Tobias escape before it's too late?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Obert Skye is a middle grade reader favorite at my library. He's a regular fixture at our local children's lit festival and he makes quite an impression on the kids. Each year I have a new group coming into the library asking for his books and eagerly wanting more. I'm delighted to report that Mr. Skye has a new series and it's one I know my fans will devour!

Charlotte and Tobias are pranksters and they're also very smart. They know to question things about their new school and they're determined to figure out the secrets of Witherwood. But what happens when the school gets the best of them and they get sucked in? And what happens when your father doesn't even remember that he's looking for you?

Witherwood Reform School is the first in a new series that is perfect for readers who enjoy their humor to be a little dark, their characters slightly mischievous, and mysteries with a side of suspense. Told in the vein of Lemony Snickett and Jason Segal's Nightmares, readers who want something that's just a bit dark, just a tad creepy, and with a slight silliness will be sure to be lining up to get their hands on this one. There are plenty of questions remaining about this mysterious reform school so readers will be eagerly anticipating book two.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher 


Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below to enter!
One entry per person
US Address only
Contest ends March 10
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25. Tune in Tuesday

Tune In Tuesday is a monthly feature where I share some of my favorite music to use in library programs!

This month I'm going with an oldie but a goodie-Greg and Steve!



I grew up on Greg and Steve. I dance around the living room with my mom to Popcorn. Listen and Move is one of the best preschool dance songs ever. Greg and Steve's version of The Freeze is the only freeze song I ever use because it's the best!

I love how so many of their songs are action based. They ask the kids to get up and move, dance, and encourage various movements. I use Animal Action 1 & 2 pretty much every animal storytime I ever do. Same with Can You Leap Like a Frog. I love the skills kids learn from Listen and Move-it requires the kids to remember what movement each musical piece stands for. Anytime I have any program with a bear, you know we'll be using Goin On a Bear Hunt. I love Bop 'Til You Drop as a variation of The Freeze and using different styles of movement with the kids. The Boogie Walk is a great bunny hop type dance that's a lot of fun. (The awesome Miss P will be using it for our upcoming Giant Wiggle Party). And I use Dance With Your Teddy Bear as part of our stuffed animal sleepover.

Sure some of the songs may sound a bit dated now, but the kids and the parents don't care-they're having fun! Greg and Steve are still making music and it's still a blast.

Check out my favorite collection,  Kids In Motion.


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