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A Teen and Tween Librarian's thoughts on books, reading and adventures in the library.
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1. MLA 2016 Booklist-YA (and MG) Lit Update

For those of you that attended the Missouri Library Association Conference last week (or for those that missed it!) here is the booklist of titles I talked about. I'd love to hear your thoughts on them and if you have any favorites of 2016!

Origin Stories & Retellings (fairy tales, classics, history retold, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland)
Sequels and Series
Contemporary Fiction continues to rise
Creative formats (Replica by Lauren Oliver, Between Worlds by Skip Brittenham)

Middle Grade/Young YA:
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz
It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan
Shadow Magic by Joshua Kahn
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Young Adult:
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
The Reader by Traci Chee
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
When We Collided by Emery Lord

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2. Celebrating Roal Dahl

2016 is the 100th birthday of Roald Dahl. The publisher of his books, Penguin Random House, has set up a special blog tour to celebrate the occasion.  

When I was in fourth grade, we read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I had always been a reader but something about this book made me really fall in love with it. I loved it so much that I  wrote a letter to Mr. Dahl telling him how much I enjoyed the book and probably other fourth grade things like about what I liked to do, that I loved to read, and all that kid letter writing stuff.

I didn't realize that Roald Dahl had passed away just a year before and I'm not sure my teacher did either. She sent my letter along to the publisher. Several weeks later I received a package at school that was full of Roald Dahl goodies-bookmarks, posters, a mobile (I think for James and the Giant Peach but I don't remember!) and other book swag. The publisher wrote me back and said they were sorry to let me know that Roald Dahl had recently passed away but they were so happy that I loved his books and they wanted to share some special things with me since I was a reader and a fan.

I was always an incredibly shy kid. I felt more comfortable with books and didn't like to talk much at school. I didn't have a lot of friends and never really felt like I fit in in elementary school.

Yet when that package of book swag arrived, I was suddenly the most popular girl in my class. Reading was cool. Everyone wanted to share in the excitement in hearing back from the publisher. We had read the book as a class and everyone was excited to see what I got. Since I took the initiative to write the letter to the author and share my love of the book, I was the hero of the class.

My popularity didn't last forever and I was OK with that. I didn't want it to. But I always remember the feeling that Roald Dahl and his US publisher gave shy fourth grader me. I felt like my love of books mattered. That I wasn't odd for loving to read and visiting the library every day I could. That it was cool to be a fan of an author and to write to the author and tell them how much you liked their books. The day I opened that box of swag all about Roald Dahl, I felt like being a reader was my super power.

I think that moment may have been one to put me on the path to librarianship, even if I didn't realize it at the time. Now I get to share the wonderfulness of Roald Dahl's books with numerous readers and help them discover their own reading super powers. His books are some of my forever go-to choices for reading aloud. There have been many fantastic audiobooks produced of his titles as well that I suggest for family listening. His books are classics and reach across generations and I believe they will continue to do so. He never spoke down to children and I think that's something children of any year and time period want-to be respected and to be heard. I know when I received that package in fourth grade, I felt as though I had been heard.

Thank you Roald Dahl for all of your wonderful contributions to children's literature and for making me feel

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Alcatraz Series by Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Adventure
Release Date: 9/6/2016
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About the Book: (from publisher) The Dark Talent is the fifth action-packed fantasy adventure in the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series for young readers by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. This never-before-published, fast-paced, and funny novel is now available in a deluxe hardcover edition, illustrated by Hayley Lazo.

Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom
of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even
worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and
his friend, Bastille, is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the
Highbrary—known as The Library of Congress to Hushlanders—the seat of Evil
Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way
to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all?

“Like Lemony Snicket and superhero comics rolled into one.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I am so, so, very excited about this book release everyone! About nine years ago, not long after I first started working in the library, I came across a new book called Alcatraz Vs the Evil Librarians. I was looking for books for tween readers, especially books to suggest after Harry Potter, and this one just sounded so fun-a boy who has a talent of breaking things, a grandfather who shows up late to everything, and librarians who  have an evil plot to take over the world? I couldn't resist. 

I read the first Alcatraz book and I loved it. In fact, you can read my original review of Alcatraz Vs the Evil Librarians I posted not long after I started this blog! Since then, this series has been one of my go-to suggestions for tween and adult readers looking for a great series. I suggest it when they're looking for humor, fantasy, or just a good book. It's especially great as a family read aloud-there's something for everyone and I can really pull in adult readers with the fact that many are familiar with Brandon Sanderson's adult fantasy titles.

My patrons and I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the fifth book in the series-book one starts with an epic opening preview that we haven't gotten to see yet. I am so glad Tor Books was able to release all five of the Alcatraz series in beautiful new hardcover editions that are illustrated. I can't keep these books on my library shelf and I love having these new editions to hand to patrons. 

If you haven't discovered the Alcatraz Smedry series, you must do so! I know you won't be disappointed.  Of course, I can't tell them if I'm really an evil librarian or not, but if I was, I wouldn't be telling you to read this ridiculous fiction (or would I?)

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4. Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi 
Release Date: 8/30/2016 
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

About the Book: Alice was born in the magical world of Ferenwood but doesn't have any magic herself. In a land where color is magic, Alice is the lightest of all and doesn't fit in. The only person who ever made her feel special was Father-but he disappeared three years ago leaving Alice with her uncaring Mother and her three brothers. When Oliver Newbanks, an old nemesis, tells Alice that he needs help completing his task (the magical undertaking all children of Ferenwood must complete) and that he knows where Father is and can bring him home, Alice is faced with a tough choice. Oliver's magic lies in deciet and Alice is never sure if she can trust him but she wants Father home more than anything. The journey will be dangerous and take her into the odd land of Futhermore where nothing is as it seems and time must not be wasted. In a world filled with strange creatures and rules. Alice must find herself and her magic to bring Father home. 

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: There's been a trend lately in middle grade fantasy with more books appearing for this age group that are quirky, magical, Alice in Wonderland-types. Futhermore firmly fits into that category. With a magical land that never quite makes sense, things are measured in time, twisting rules that you, numerous villages with various quirks and citizens who want to eat up visitors for their magic, Furthermore is quite a twisty read. 

Alice's story is a fine one for readers who enjoy this type of twisting and somewhat confusing and creative fantasy. But I can also see more sophisticated readers getting frustrated as well. The author can easily get characters out of various escapades by adding some new revelation. There are multiple asides from the author/narrator as well, but these don't always work and instead some of the humor that is supposed to be there falls a bit flat. The narrator interjections are inconsistent. It also takes a long time for more explanations of the world building, but once you get there I thought it was well done if a bit convenient at times. 

Alice's story takes awhile to get going and once we get to her adventures in Furthermore, the story is fun and there are lots of unique adventures that Alice and Oliver have. But I was very let down by the ending which felt too quickly wrapped up. It felt like we went through a lot of meandering and adventure only to have it solved in an instant. It was as though someone said "hey, this book is getting too long-wrap it up now and stop writing!" It felt too abrupt and too clean an ending and answer for such an epic adventure. After multiple chapters and pages of a journey, everything was wrapped up in about twenty pages, so I was left with little closure and this was a bit of a let down. 

I do think Futhermore would be a good choice for readers who enjoy Wonderland-esque tales and I think some readers will very much get into Alice's adventures and the wondrous world of Furthermore. It's an engaging enough read and I think young readers will enjoy it and I think it may have some limited reader appeal-at least from my experience with the fantasy readers at my library. I just wish there had been some tighter writing and more depth to the novel. I had higher hopes for this one and while I enjoyed it,  I can't say it will be memorable for long after I read it but I had fun while reading.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from purchased ebook from personal library

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5. Blog Tour: The Thing About Leftovers by C.C. Payne AUTHOR GUEST POST

Please welcome author C.C. Payne to GreenBeanTeenQueen! She's here to talk about her latest novel, The Thing About Leftovers and her favorite books featuring food.

About the Book: (From Goodreads): Fizzy is a good Southern girl who just wants to be perfect. And win the Southern Living cook-offThe being perfect part is hard though, since her parents’ divorced and everything in her life has changed. Wary of her too-perfect stepmom and her mom’s neat-freak, dismissive boyfriend, she’s often angry or upset and feels like a guest in both homes. She tells herself to face facts: She’s a “leftover” kid from a marriage that her parents want to forget. But she has to keep all of that to herself, because a good Southern girl never yells, or throws fits, or says anything that might hurt other people’s feelings—instead she throws her shoulders back, says yes ma’am, and tries to do better. So Fizzy tries her best, but it’s hard to stay quiet when her family keeps getting more complicated. Fortunately, the Southern Living cook-off gives her a welcome distraction, as do her new friends Miyoko and Zach, who have parent issues of their own. 

My Top Five Food-Themed Books:

 1.) The Thing About Leftovers by C. C. Payne (that's me!): In the South, we love you with our food. In this novel, 12-year-old Fizzy Russo does just thatattempting to love her parents, new stepparents, and new friends with fried chicken, cheese grits, Kentucky Hot Browns (an open faced sandwich with Texas Toast, turkey, ham and bacon, covered with Mornay sauce, smothered in cheese, topped with a slice of tomato and baked until gooey and browning at the edges) and the like, and to win their love in returnnot to mention The Southern Living Cook-Off. Fizzy believes that winning the cook-off that will cause everyone to forgive her and love her more. (I listed my own book first because if you stop reading here, I hope it's to go buy my book, and because I can't yet afford to be the kind of author who humbly never mentions her own workbut I TOTALLY aspire to be that kind of author, so please buy the book!)

2)  Close to Famousby Joan Bauer: 12-year-old Foster McFee is making the world a sweeter place one cupcake at a time! She makes some unlikely friends with her fabulous cupcake creations (I told you food is love!) including a retired, reclusive movie star, a would-be documentary filmmaker, and the folks down at Angry Wayne's Bar & Grill who sell her cupcakes for her. I love the way Foster overcomes, pushing herself, practicing, and persevering . . . in baking and in life.

3)  Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary: I wouldn't dare make a list without including this classic, Newbery Honor Book. Most chefs say they can tell a lot about another chef simply by what he or she does with an egg. And so it is with Ramona Quimby, who cracks an egg on her head in the school cafeteria. Plus, the food at her family's favorite restaurant, Whopper Burger, sounds deliciousI'd definitely like to have my next birthday party there!

4)  For a younger crowd, I recommend Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett because . . . mashed potato snow? Hamburger storms? Pancakes floating down from the sky? Sign me UP for that! This imaginative picture book, with detailed, delightful drawings, and great humor, remains a fave in my familyit's one that you truly never tire of reading aloud.

5)  For older readers, I recommend Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray, because when the going gets tough, the tough get baking! Ruth's first step to dealing with any problem is baking a cake"sweet potato bundt cake with rum-plumped raisins and spiced sugar glaze" or "apricot almond pound cake" and the like. And she shares her recipesas well as humor, warmth, and wisdomas she deals with her teenage daughter, college-student son, out-of-work husband, live-in mother, estranged father, and financial strain. 

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6. Libraries & Pokemon Go

Today I'm at the ALSC Blog talking about why Pokemon Go and libraries are a perfect partnership. Come check it out!

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7. Flawed by Cecelia Ahern Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway

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Visit Cecelia's website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

About the Book: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan. But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED. In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything.

I am so excited to be participating in the blog tour for Flawed, Cecelia Ahern's YA debut. Cecelia is one of my favorite authors, so of course I jumped at the chance to ask her a few questions about her new book! 

You've published many novels, but this is your first for YA. What inspired you to make the jump to young adult fiction? Is writing for YA different than writing for adults?

I had no grand plan to write YA, what I did and what I always do is to write whatever story is most powerful in my head at the time. My novel THE BOOK OF TOMORROW was seen as a crossover book for YA and adult and I have had younger readers ever since I wrote PS I Love You so I didn't feel like I was taking a great leap or that I had to adjust my writing. What was different was the concept of the story, the pacy thriller like feel, the fact that it is saying a lot about the society that we are living in while maintaining the same feel as my other novels. I didn't have to adjust anything about my writing, I just got into the head of my character Celestine and saw the world from her eyes. I wrote the first draft in 6 weeks, it just flowed from me, I wrote it with passion and rage and with so much heart. This book had to be written, I had no choice in the matter! My heart was pounding the entire time, it was an overwhelming story to write from start to finish. 

Is there anything in your dystopian world that was inspired by current events? What gave you the idea to create this word?

I was inspired by the fact I believe we live in a judgemental world, one that is quick to publicly shame people, to finger point and hold people accountable for their mistakes,  or for their decisions that society deems to be a mistake. Society mocks and judges, and the opportunity for second chances  is rare.
Flawed is not set in the future, it is today, it is our modern world, contemporary society. It is everything we say and do to each other now, we already label people so I took it one step further by creating an actual morality court where The Guild and its 3 powerful judges reside.
Angelina Tinder was found Flawed because she travelled to a country where Euthanasia was legal and assisted her mother's death. The Guild branded her in her home country despite the fact she carried it out legally. This mirrors the abortion situation in Ireland where 12 women a day travel to the UK for abortions but it is illegal in Ireland. In the famous X case, the court stopped a 14 year old girl who was raped, from travelling to the UK for an abortion.

Flawed at Birth children are taken from their flawed parents at birth. This is similar to aboriginal children in Australia who were forcibly removed from their parents in order to "dilute the gene pool" and we had a similar case in Ireland where children were taken from single unmarried mothers and raised in state institutions.

A famous footballer who cheats on his wife is brought to a Flawed court but his wife becomes the media target as it's discussed why he cheated, whose fault it is, as I believe is the case in reality. 

Celestine's mother is a famous model who judges people by their appearance, as do many people. She feels she can't trust people who have any physical flaws and I fear there is a great pressure on teenagers, and all ages, to have a certain flawless appearance which is impossible & unattainable naturally.

Parents are found Flawed for removing their son who has cancer from hospital and trying to find alternative methods. This is based on a real case where parents of a boy were arrested for taking him from hospital. 

Of course the most obvious comparison is World War 2. The Flawed rules are similar to the anti - Jewish decrees and the Penal Laws in Ireland.

Everything I write about in Flawed is real. What's terrifying is reading this novel thinking how awful it would be and then realising these things have happened in our past, are happening in our present. You don't have to look far in this world to find regimes like that in Flawed.

Your first book was published when you were 21. Has your writing process changed as you've published more novels?

Flawed is my 13th novel and of course there's been a real growth in my writing, as you would hope for and expect over 13 years. I think they're deeper, darker and better. They are still emotional journeys about people going through difficult dark moments in their lives, with hope and humour.

You've written novels, short stories, plays and for TV. What do you enjoy about writing in different formats and styles? Do you think one comes more naturally than another?

Writing novels is my first love. I have such freedom in my novels to go wherever I want. I can work alone and truly create my own world. I enjoy the challenges that TV and film bring, the main difference being that they are collaborative processes and I work to a network's brief even if the network say they don't have a brief. They always do!! 

What were some of your favorite novels as a teen?

I don't remember the book choices being as ripe and plentiful as they are now but I did read a huge amount. I don't recall YA specialised sections in book stores so I just took what appealed to me from adult shelves. Early in my teens I read Sweet Valley High, the Babysitters Club, the Famous Five, then moved on to novels like Cane River by Lalita Tademy, John Grisham. The Diary of Anne Frank is my most read novel. I also loved Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon McKenna. 

One of the things I really enjoyed most about reading Flawed was how much it made me think about our current culture. How much time do we spend judging others or worrying about what people will think of us? Our culture is full of gossip, rumors, reality TV, and social media and each of those carries with it a way to form opinions on everyone and share our thoughts in a very public forum. Celestine is thrown into the middle of a battle and she's seen as the face for both sides-is she a hero for standing up to the Flawed or is she a catalyst for change? There is a lot to discuss and I think Flawed could make a great book discussion title!

Thanks to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, one lucky winner will receive a copy of Flawed as well as some swag from both sides of the pond!
-Contest open to ages 13+
-US/Canada address only
-Contest ends 4/12
-One entry per person


Follow the tour for more chances to win and to find out more about Flawed!

April 5- Nite Lite Book Reviews (US)
April 5- Two Chicks on Books (US)
April 5- Green Bean Teen Queen (US)
April 5- Writing.ie (Ireland)
April 5- Overflowing Library (UK)
April 6Icey Books (US)
April 6Supernatural Snark (US)
April 6- Paper Cuts Blog (US)
April 6Serendipity Reviews (UK)
April 6Bleach House Library (Ireland)
April 6Bart's Bookshelf (UK)
April 7- Forever Young Adult (US)
April 7Bumbles and Fairytales (US)
April 7Rainy Day Ramblings (US)
April 7Swoony Boys Podcast (US)
April 7A Daydreamer's Thoughts (UK)
April 7The Bibliomaniac (UK)
April 7Kirstyes (UK)
April 7Wrath Queen's Books (UK)

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8. ALSC Blog: Library Town

Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about our recent Spring Break program, Library Town. Come join me!

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9. Dear Books: Please Update Your Libraries

There is nothing worse than coming across a book you are really enjoying only to be pulled out of it because of some outdated and incorrect library reference. I know that authors and illustrators will not always get everything 100% accurate, but I when I read books that show a very dated stereotype, or something that is just so incorrect, I always wonder why. I feel like authors and illustrators should know better! And it's not just older books-it happens in new books too!

I recently read A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper and illustrated by Anna Raff. 

I absolutely loved this book! It's a creative look at libraries through the eyes of a library card. It's perfect for my outreach visits and storytimes about the library and promoting what value there is in a library card. Anna Raff gets major points for illustrating a very cool and hip librarian as well!

But the librarian tells card to shush and is a bit annoyed when he shows up. And then library card helps his new owner stamp across all his books and stamp dates to return them. There's also mostly talk about how you can check out lots of books at the library-but libraries are so much more than books! We have computers, movies, music, devices, toys, databases, downloadable content, programs, meeting spaces-so much to offer!

Sure, there are small libraries that still may use stamps-but most libraries don't. I feel like for an new book it could provide an updated view on libraries. 

And what about books that clearly violate a library policy? Most libraries I know have some sort of policy about unattended children. Libraries have an age limit to where children can be left alone. Yet in two recent picture books, the parents tell the kids "I'll be in the adult area-be back soon. Have fun!" leaving the kids alone. 

Sure, it's fiction, it's fun, and I wanted to love The Not So Quiet Library  but the librarian in me just couldn't take the Dad leaving the son (who appears to be pretty young!) alone in a multi-level library. It's a public building!!! My librarian self just couldn't get past it. I would be chasing him down explaining our unattended children policy and reminding him he needs to be with his child. Sigh...

I know, I know-let it go. But then it happened again! And this time in a book that's not a silly story but a book intended to teach readers about the library:

OK, maybe you can convince me that the boy in The Not So Quiet Library is old enough to be on his own but not true for the boy in Library Day! Especially when his Dad drops him off for storytime and leaves him there by himself! NOT OK! Not to mention how incredibly outdated this one is in its many references and illustrations of the library. This came out this year but it feels like it was written twenty years ago. I'm not the only one who has this problem-Goodreads is full of librarians who feel the same way.

And I hate when books show illustrations or photographs of a librarian reading a book at storytime, only they are holding the book the wrong way and not showing the pictures! That's not how you do it! That's not storytime! It's so frustrating!

(So this picture is really for no storytime happening, but I like it as an example of this is how you don't read your books in storytime! Show those pictures!!!)

Have any books shown libraries or librarians in a good light-or more realistic light-lately? Kwame Alexander gets the award here for the best representation of a librarian in recent literature. 

The school librarian in Booked is smart and funny, a bit nerdy and a bit cool (like many librarians I know!), is always encouraging the kids to read and try something new and is always searching for a book they will like. He cares about his students, is happy to have them in the library and encourages them to use the library and all its resources. 

Do you get frustrated with libraries in librarians in books? Any recent bad (or good) representations of libraries and librarians you've read recently? 

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10. Picture Book Review: Dig In by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Mary Peterson

Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Mary Peterson

Release Date: 3/1/2016

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As a librarian who does toddler storytime, I am always on the lookout for great new toddler books. It feels like I repeat the same books over and over with my little ones. So I get very excited when a book like Dig In! comes across my desk.

Dig In! is a child's exploration of playing outside in the dirt. From digging in the dirt to finding worms, snails, rocks and then water to make messy mud, each page takes a new experience or discovery and presents in from a young child's view. The text is simplistic enough that young children can follow along and the overall book is engaging and exciting. It's short enough to be read aloud in toddler storytime even with antsy toddlers.

The illustrations, which according to the book were created using linoleum block prints on paper with some digital touch ups, are bright and colorful. They really pop on each page which makes them great for a crowd. The block prints help everything have it's defined space and it adds a bit of texture to the dirt, which I think young readers will find especially engaging. It's almost as if you can reach your hand out and touch the dirt on the page.

As Springtime approaches, Dig In! is a great new choice to add to storytime. It's perfect for a messy storytime where you get to play in the mud and it's a wonderful encouragement to families to get outside and play.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from  copy sent by publisher for review

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11. Yes We Crab Reading Challenge: Final Update

It's the end of February which means the end of Yes We Crab! I wanted to read 20 books this month and post once a week. My blogging goal failed, but I did make my reading goal of 20 books-yay!

Here's what I finished the month up with:

 My Dog's a Chicken by Susan McElroy Montanari, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
When a young girl isn't allowed to get a dog, she decides she'll turn a chicken into a dog. A pretty cute picture book for the K-2 crowd.

 A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper, illustrated by Anna Raff

-My new favorite book to read at Library-themed outreach events and storytimes! This is a unique look at libraries through the eyes of a library card. And it's adorable!

 Swap! by Steve Light

-I just love Steve Light's pen and ink illustrations. Did you ever play that game where you started out with something small then had to go all around to try and upgrade and swap your item for something bigger? That's what this reminded me of-only with pirates.

 Whoops! by Suzi Moore, illustrated by Russell Ayto

-A new pick for storytime. Three animals who can't make any sounds seek out a lady with a spell that might help-only things keep going wrong. This is a perfect read-aloud with a hilarious ending.

 Peep and Egg I'm Not Hatching by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Joyce Wan

-A very cute tale about having courage perfect for the preschool set. Plus it's illustrated by Joyce Wan so you know Peep and Egg are adorable.

 No, No, Gnome! by Ashly Anstee

-Who can resist gnomes? I love them! This is a nice gardening tale with a gnome twist. I'm saving for when I get all the requests for Spring/garden/planting books. 

 Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller

-Move over Mo Willems and Bob Shea! Perfect for fans of books that break the fourth wall and have a great sense of humor. I'm planning on writing more about this one-it's a great storytime option and read aloud!

 The New Guy (And Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding

-Contemporary YA Romance. Reviewed for Booklist

 A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shwan K. Stout 

-Historical MG-a great read for middle grade to compare historical events (thoughts and actions towards German-Americans in 1940s) to now. Reviewed for AudioFile.

 Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

-Regency YA romance-a tounge-in-cheek look at the regency era. Reviewed for Booklist.

 Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

-Another Kate DiCamillo novel-and it's brilliant! More to come soon when I write a longer review!

How did you do on your Yes We Crab Goals? Any great reads you found this month?

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12. Yes We Crab Reading Challenge Update!

Well, we're halfway through the #YesWeCrab reading challenge that several of my friends and I decided to do for February. I'm doing OK-not reading as much as I wanted and not posting what I wanted at all, but that's fine-I can catch up!

You can see what Abby the Librarian has been reading as well-she's got a great update! And you can follow the hashtag #yeswecrab on Twitter and see what others are up to!

Here's what I've read so far this month:

-I listened to the audio version of this one and it was fantastic! A magical anthropological fantasy-such a great combination and so unique! I loved the characters and it made me think about cultural appropriation in the name of research which was fantastic. 

-Another audiobook, this time for review for AudioFile. Perfect for time travel fans-I loved the thought and detail put into the time travel elements in this one. Also be warned the cliffhanger is a doozy!

-A great contemporary YA debut from an adult author. Reviewed for Booklist. 

-New Adult-ish sequel to The Intern, reviewed for Booklist.

-A fantastic picture that is non-fiction told in a poetic verse. The illustrations are beautiful and the author's notes and endpapers add to the reading experience making this one accessible to a wide range of ages. This is a book to watch come award season. 

-A cute "field guide" for newborns. This one came across on the new cart at work and I had to look at it. It's sure to make any new parent laugh and smile. There's also a "A Baby's Guide to Surviving Mom" which I haven't seen yet, but I'm sure both can be added to the baby shower arsenal. 

-Once again, Hurley's illustration style and minimal prose create a perfect preschool storytime book, this time about the day in the life of a family of rabbits. I got nervous when the fox started to come after the rabbits, but thankfully the circle of life is just hinted at and no rabbits are harmed-phew! I could not have handled Jorey Hurley's adorable rabbits being eaten!

-A pig who wants to wear shoes? Elizabeth Rose Stanton has the perfect quirky sense of humor in both her text and illustrations to pull it off. Plus, there's a pig pooping which equals instant storytime classic.

 Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato

-There's going to be a wedding, but they're worms! Who's the bride and who's the groom? Does it matter? Such a cute book that can have broad appeal-from science tie-ins to marriage equality to just plain fun. I mean, how cute are those worms?

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13. February Reading Challenge: Yes We Crab!

Caldecott is over, family birthdays are over for a few months, and life is starting to get back into a routine that doesn't include piles of picture books every evening. (Well, at least picture books to take notes with-Toddler GreenBean ensures we have piles of picture books to read every night!!)

I really want to get back to reading for fun and reading chapter books again, but I feel so overwhelmed and I don't know where to start! Enter my wonderful friends and our February Reading Challenge-Yes We Crab!

Five years ago I met these lovely ladies at ALA Midwinter: Angie, Abby, Katie, Kelly and Drea  I often tell people that our fist meeting was like going to summer camp, meeting your best friend, and then having to go back home. Luckily, we get to see each other at least once and sometimes twice a year at ALA and we keep up with each other via Twitter, Email, Facebook. We are always sharing program ideas, library talk, and what we're reading. So when the others all said they wanted to do a reading challenge, we all jumped at the chance and Yes We Crab was born.

It's easy to join in! All you have to do is set a goal for yourself and follow along. Post your progress on Twitter with the hastag #yeswecrab and we'll cheer you along! Your goal can be about reading, about keeping up with blogging-anything! 

My Yes We Crab Goal: Read 20 books (and yes, picture books totally count!!!!) and write a blog post at least once a week. 

What's your February Reading Goal? Can we do it? Yes We Crab!

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14. My 2016 Caldecott Journey

Photo Credit: Horn Book

Just over a week later and I am still reeling from my amazing Caldecott year. Now comes the fun part of celebrating and sharing our winning titles! I had a wonderful time being part of the 2016 Caldecott Committee. Everyone was so kind, thoughtful, and caring and we really listened to each other as we shared and talked about books-and that made such a huge impact on me and my committee experience.

Our committee really bonded and even though we've only met in person a handful of times, I have had some of the best discussions about books with them and they are people I will always love and respect.
Photo credit: Rachel Payne
Being on the committee is a lot of work. Some people have asked me if it was easier or harder than when I was on Printz, and it's hard to say. In some ways, I felt I was reading more and getting more done with picture books-several pages of picture books also can mean several books whereas several pages of a chapter book can sometimes barely be a dent at all. But Caldecott was a completely different thing-analyzing art and illustration over the text which was very new to me. I cherish the experience and conversations I had with my fellow committee members-it's really made me look at picture books in a new way and I feel like I'm a better librarian because of it. I also truly believe that being on a committee helps you trust the process even more! 

The things that made such an impact on me in our committee discussions are also things that I think can help make an impact on any book discussion. Listen openly and listen to everyone, read, read, and read some more and take lots of notes, and learn to let go. I wish more book discussions could follow these practices-I think we would go far if we did! Even outside of book discussions, these are things that I plan to really focus on and practice at work-listening to everyone and learning to let go. I think doing so can make me a better manager and help me to serve our patrons even more. Who knew committee work had such broad implications on our lives? :)

I am so proud of our group and the work we did. If you haven't already, head on over to The Horn Book, where our amazing chair Rachel shares about our winners. I am so excited to share our books with the world and with the kids in my library. I'm already planning storytimes and outreach using these books and I hope you do too! If you do, I would love to hear about it!

Photo Credit: Elise Katz

After lots of reading and discussing, we eagerly got up early Monday morning to make our calls. Our phone calls were so incredible! Our illustrators cried, we cried, we cheered-it was joyous. I will never forget that moment when we told Sophie Blackall she was the 2016 Medal Winner and I broke down in tears as we cheered (and she cried on the other end of the phone-a surefire way to make sure the committee cries along with you!) I can't wait to be with my Caldecrew again in June at Annual-this time with our illustrators along with us to celebrate our hard work! 

To future award committees-you can do it! It will be a journey of a lifetime and savor every moment! To my Caldecrew-you are all amazing! Thank you for a wonderful experience that I will never forget! Thank you for letting me make 14 wonderful new best friends who I can't wait to see again and share books with! And to our five fantastically talented illustrators-thank you for creating beautiful art to share with the world. You make being a librarian the best job in the world!

Enjoy this year's winners-I know you will!

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15. Where Have You Been?

My blog has really suffered this year-but for a good reason!

I have been spending my time working on the 2016 Caldecott Committee! We're getting down to the wire now with our meetings starting next week, so this past month has been incredibly hectic.

Nope, no Caldecott eligible titles in this photo-this is my son's giant to-read pile, but you can use your imagination and pretend to understand the amount of reading I've been doing this year!

So, what is it like to be on an award committee? Well, it's lots and lots of reading. And then lots and lots of note-taking. Luckily, I've had some help in that area:

Now that Midwinter is getting closer, there's even more reading, note-taking, reading again, reading what others have said in their nominations and preparing your notes for what you want to say in all of your discussions. 

That's where I've been and what I'll be up to over the next couple weeks. There most likely won't be many new blog posts until Midwinter is over. I can't wait to see what all the other committees award at the Youth Media Awards Announcements! Here's to a great year of reading!

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16. ALSC Blog: Back to Basics

Today I'm  over at the ALSC Blog talking about how we're getting Back to Basics at my library.

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17. Voyagers Giveaway

Voyagers: Project Alpha by D. J. McHale

About the Book: Earth is in danger! Without a renewable source of clean energy, our planet will be toast in less than a year. There are 6 essential elements that, when properly combined, create a new power source. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy. And only a spaceship piloted by children can reach it and return to Earth safely. First the ideal team of four 12-year-olds must be chosen, and then the first element must be retrieved. There is not a mistake to be made, or a moment to lose. The source is out there. Voyagers is blasting off in 3, 2, 1…

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I was thinking the other day about trends in middle grade lit and I realized that science fiction and stories set in space are becoming more popular. Add that to the multi-platform trend of middle grade books written by various authors (think 39 Clues, Spirit Animals) and you've got a winner. I know that I have an audience of readers ready to go crazy over Voyagers. I mean, what's more exciting than the idea that only kids can save the world and they have to go into space and have adventures in order to do so? In some ways, Voyagers could be likened to Star Trek for tweens if kids were sent on a mission. 

The books are action packed, part mystery, part science fiction, part adventure and they are lots of fun. The cast of characters is also diverse. I really love Piper, who is in a wheelchair, yet demonstrates that that won't stop her from traveling in space and being part of the team-she can do what everyone else can. (If you're a savvy reader, you'll figure out from the cover of book 1 who gets chosen for the mission, but there are still surprises along the way, so don't worry!) 

The additional elements on VoyagersHQ.com are engaging and fun. I love the videos of the possible candidates and the quiz-kids really get a chance to feel like they're part of the Voyagers mission. 

The series is fun and exciting and sure to be a hit with middle grade readers who are fascinated by space-and can also be a good intro into science fiction for young readers. 

Want to win The Voyagers Experience prize pack?

Get the full Voyagers experience! One (1) winner receives:
·         The first two books in the series;
·         Branded iPhone6 case and home GadgetGrip button to deck out your device while experiencing the Voyagers app.

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Random House Children’s Books.

FIll out the form below to enter! One entry per person. Contest ends 11/22


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18. Flannel Friday: Buddy and the Bunnies by Bob Shea

Flannel Friday is a weekly roundup of posts about storytime and flannelboard ideas. You can visit the website here.

Librarian confession time-I am not a crafty librarian. Crafts for me mean fingerprints or play-dough. I wish I could knit cute puppets to use in storytime, but if I'm lucky, I can make an ok paper bag puppet. And my flannels just aren't pretty-so I rarely make them. (I'm more of a print it off from Kizclub and use magnets type of librarian!)

But I wanted a way to tell Buddy and the Bunnies by Bob Shea so that the kids knew who was talking. I'm reading the book, puppets weren't going to work. And since this is one of our state picture book award nominees, I'm planning on reading it a few times. In the past, the kids have had trouble knowing which character was speaking. So I made Buddy and Bunnies. While reading, I'll point to each character and move them on the flannel board to help the kids visualize who's speaking.

So here's my Buddy and Bunnies:

"I will eat you Bunnies!"

My first Buddy was a bit scary, so I had to make a happy Buddy too. 

The whole set. (Yes, I know the bunnies multiply by the end of the book, but I stuck with the original three to keep it simple) 

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19. Please Look Up: Part 2

A month ago I wrote a post about how often I see parents looking at their phones instead of engaging with their kids at the library, especially in programs. The feedback I received from this post called me judgy, said there was no way I could know the whole story, and that most likely these kids were being engaged at home. It's true you can never know the whole story, but I still believe it's all about balance.

I was inspired to write my original post because it's something I see happen a lot at the library, but it's also something very personal to me. Being glued to technology is something I see happen every day in my family.

"family time" 

This photo is of a recent family get together. My son is just off to the right of this picture, playing with toys and hoping to catch the attention of his family. Instead, they're plugged in to their phones (and the ironic thing is my father-in-law captured this family moment on his phone!) It frustrates me on a regular basis when I'm with family and instead of engaging with each other, especially with my toddler, they are hooked to their phones. Alerts go off, an article must be read, a text must be sent-it happens all the time. My husband and I are trying very hard to put our phones up and leave them out of reach and ignore them until after my son goes to bed. Are we perfect? Not at all. But we're trying to make engagement a priority. 

I know I'm not the only one concerned about this. There have been so many books published recently about families needing to unplug, screen addiction, and engaging as a family. The New York Times has published articles recently: "How to Cut Children's Screen Time? Say No To Yourself First." and "Screen Addiction Taking a Toll on Children." I'm not the only one noticing it. 

Just look at this graph from Pew Internet Research about when people think it's OK to use their cellphones-it's a growing trend everywhere! (The entire article on mobile use is a fascinating read-be sure to check it out!)

When we model that behavior of being plugged into technology, no matter where we are-home or the library, it shows our kids that technology is more important. Do we have to unplug completely forever? No. It's all about balance. So let me tell you another story. 

I was at the library last week and I was roving the department, straightening books, cleaning up, and checking on patrons. We have a play area with early literacy toys and a really cool Eric Carle carpet and it's just off of the picture books, so it's perfect for families to hang out and engage. There was a young mom there with her nine-month-old son. She had actually brought a toy for him to play with (I'm not sure if she didn't know we had toys at the library, which is entirely possible, or if she just wanted to also bring something from home.) She had checked out an iPad from the library and was using it to type something up. As I was cleaning and straightening, I observed this mom. Even though she was plugged in to technology and would type on the iPad, she would pause every few minutes, look over at her son, talk to him, play with the toy with him and engage before she went back to her work. Later she and her son browsed through books together and she talked to him about what there was at the library and what books they were getting and she was fully focused on her child. She was using technology but she was also balancing it to engage with her son. That balance is so lost. Instead we end up making excuses as to why we need to be plugged in all the time.

A couple of days after that, I had a busy morning filled with lots of toddlers and their parents. And the entire morning made me smile because all morning long, I observed the parents talking to their kids, playing with toys, reading books, and talking to the other parents and making new friends. I overheard a dad singing with his daughter about putting the toys away and a mom showing her toddler and preschooler how to do the simple origami dog we had out as a passive activity. Watching the kids light up as they talked and played with the adults around them was awesome. 

Yes, we need to use computers to get school work done. Yes, we need the library to be a place for our family to come and hang out. Yes we need to use the library computers to check email, take of something for work, or just play and have fun. We never know the whole story and we never know what someone is going through. But it only takes a moment to pause, look up, and engage. Sing a song with your kids at storytime. Laugh at a book together. Watch their puppet shows. It's all about balance. I hope we can all get there together. 

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20. Heather Petty Author Guest Post-Writing Lock and Mori

About the Book: (from Goodreads) In modern-day London, two brilliant high school students, one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James "Mori" Moriarty, meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.

Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more.

FACT: Someone has been murdered in London's Regent's Park. The police have no leads.

FACT: Miss James "Mori"Moriarty and Sherlock "Lock" Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.

FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.

FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock's one rule--they must share every clue with each other--Mori is keeping secrets.

OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can't trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

GreenBeanTeenQueen: “I'd love to know what inspired Ms. Petty to write about what her research process was like, how she updated Sherlock Holmes and what inspired her to write about Sherlock Holmes.”

Inspiration to Write Sherlock
I was rabbit-trailing through the internet, following links from other links into oblivion, when I came across this cool sounding article that was discussing how often heroes and villains in a nemesis relationship share character traits. And one of the observations by the writer was that it’s hard to judge that comparison for Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, because we only get to view Moriarty as a character through Sherlock’s eyes. No one else even meets him in passing. I hadn’t noticed that when I’d read the Sherlock stories as a kid, so it opened up this giant gap in the story for me. Because what if Sherlock lied to Watson?

Those kinds of “What if?” questions almost always lead to way more and eventually become larger book ideas for me. I started to wonder what if Sherlock and Moriarty had way more of a past then Sherlock let on? What if they’d known each other high school? What if something that happened back then turned them into enemies?

I can’t really pinpoint when I decided to make Moriarty a girl. It was just part of the questions process. I had the idea in my head as Sherlock and Moriarty playing rivals, but probably best friends when it came right down to it—those kinds of friends who hurt each other over and over, but out of some twisted love place. And then I randomly thought that it might be more interesting if Moriarty were a girl. No one would ever expect a girl to be the center of a criminal ring like that. She could so easily hide among the men who serve her. All of that really opened up a whole world to me, of a female villain/anti-hero—one who uses her intelligence instead of her sexuality as a weapon, one who plays the “bad boy” in the relationship with “good girl” Sherlock, one who is vaguely sociopathic and gets away with it like her male counterparts have forever. I was so excited about the idea of that, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I knew I had to write it. 

The Research
This book was actually the first contemporary I’d ever written, which came with a lot more limitations than I thought it would. For example, London is not only a real city, but a really well-known and popular city. I was so used to being able to craft my own town that I found it intimidating to realize that I had to make sure this one was true to life. I had to get it right. But every time I started planning a research trip, some big family thing would happen making it impossible. So I dove into the research the way I would for any other detail in a story. I drew on everything I knew, read whatever I could get my hands on and watched anything I could find that was set in the city. I also was lucky enough to have friends who had lived in London offer to read the manuscript and help me fix anywhere that I’d misstepped.

Many of my friends were incredibly generous with their time and experiences for all the different elements in the book. They also listened to my whines and worries and let me talk through plot elements until I’m sure they were sick of hearing about it. Doing your book research is vital. But I think it’s equally important for a writer to be humble enough to recognize their lack of experience and to seek out help from those who have lived through it. Really, approaching all of your research with humility is the best way to make sure you’re really learning and not just twisting another person’s lived experience into your own existing parameters.

The Update
I’ve never really been interested in writing a book in a historical time period, so I knew right away that I would be modernizing the characters. Really, though, I feel like that was a much easier task than doing the historical research to get late-Victorian London right. The harder part of the book idea was crafting the characters. I needed to present these two icons as real-to-life London teenagers. I knew if I stayed true to their ages and made them more real, I’d be sacrificing the slick/unflappable/cool image that people even slightly familiar with the stories and adaptations have come to expect. But in the end, I was okay with that. I didn’t want them to be already who they become anyway. I wanted this to be their start, and for the series to track how and why they go from that to who we know them to be as adults.

The Inspiration to Write
I was always a huge reader, but I never thought about becoming a writer until my high school English teacher, Author Terri Farley (Phantom Stallion series) read an assignment I'd turned in and basically told me I needed to be writing. So, I joined the school paper. Then, in college, when I was kind of over the Journalism thing, I applied for a fiction writing class with Author and Professor Susan Palwick, who later taught me one-on-one. She really helped me find my niche as a kidlit writer.

I joined SCBWI shortly after I graduated, and my very first regional conference critique (of a really horrible middle grade book) was from Ellen Hopkins, whose debut novel CRANK was coming out later that year (2004). She was very patient with my rookie writer ways and encouraged me to keep going. But I got pregnant soon after that and floundered for a bit with my writing until Author Cynthia Cotten read one of my silly LiveJournal posts one night and told me I should be writing YA. She pointed me in the direction of authors like Melissa Marr, Charles de Lint, and Holly Black. I was especially taken by Holly Black's Tithe series, and started writing my own YA within days of reading VALIANT.


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21. Ghostlight by Sonia Gensler Blog Tour-Author Guest Post

Please welcome Sonia Gensler to GreenBeanTeenQueen

(photo credit: Eden Wilson Photography)

Writing horror for young readers

Growing up is scary and painful, and violent, and your body is doing weird things and you might, to your great horror, become something beastly and terrible on the other side. 

—Greg Ruth, “Why Horror is Good for You (and Even Better for Your Kids)”

Every day young people deal with horror landscapes, both physical and psychological. They face the gauntlet-like labyrinth of school hallways, and the confinement of overcrowded classrooms. They defend against emotional and/or physical bullying, all while feeling haunted by the “stupid” things they’ve said or done. In fact, young people often feel downright monstrous—their bodies are changing too quickly, or not quickly enough, their emotions are fraught with ups and downs, and the world just doesn’t make sense. 

I know all this from having been a teenager, and also from having taught young people for ten years. These experiences have somehow led me to write a certain kind of horror.

A lot of horror is about gore, grotesquery, and jump scares—and there’s a cathartic benefit to that experience. I try to write the horror of mystery and dread. Gothic horror is all about dealing with extreme transitions, facing the uncanny, and acknowledging repressed emotions that insist on spilling out against your will. I write this sort of horror for the apprehensive teen that still lives inside me. Mostly I just wish to entertain, but I can’t help hoping that teen and tween readers will recognize parts of their own experience, see themselves in the protagonists who overcome their fears, and somehow feel less strange and alone. 

About the BookThings that go bump in the night are just the beginning when a summer film project becomes a real-life ghost story!

Avery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.

Unfortunately, Julian wants to film at Hilliard House, a looming, empty mansion that Grandma has absolutely forbidden her to enter. As terrified as Avery is of Grandma’s wrath, the allure of filmmaking is impossible to resist.

As the kids explore the secrets of Hilliard house, eerie things begin to happen, and the “imaginary” dangers in their movie threaten to become very real. Have Avery and Julian awakened a menacing presence? Can they turn back before they go too far?

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22. First & Then Superlative Blog Tour and Author Guest Post: Books Most Likely to Make You Cry On Public Transportation

I love the idea of a superlative blog tour for First & Then by Emma Mills-such a fun blog tour! I was given the superlative of "Most Likely to Make You Cry on Public Transportation" and of course, I had to ask Emma herself which books make her cry:

I would have to say Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is the book that makes my cry the most! My father first read this book to my sister and I when we were kids, and I remember so clearly the overwhelming sense of loss I felt right along with Jesse. A beautiful—but tough to take!—book about grief.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – it has wrung the most book-fueled tears from me in my adulthood. Hazel’s relationship with her parents really gets to me.

Marrying Malcolm Murgatroyd by Mame Farrell—I first read this in junior high and shed more than a few tears. Very bittersweet, lovely middle grade story.

Before I share my own list, I first need to tell you something-I don't cry too often at books. Which honestly, I find a bit strange because I'm an emotional person and I cry at just about everything else, but books really have to get me to get me bawling. And these books did! So fair warning when reading on public transportation (or anywhere!):

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling-OK, I admit this one is cheating a bit, because seriously, what HP fan can read this one (or pretty much any book from 4-on) without bawling like a baby?

If I Stay by Gayle Forman-I cried so much at the end of this book and had to mourn that it was over. So I was incredibly grateful for the sequel-which yes, also make me cry.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley-Oh my goodness, this book just gets you in every emotional way and just tears at your heartstrings and makes you laugh and cry and smile all at the same time.

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern-I actually listened to this one on audiobook while driving-bad idea. It turned me into a blubbering mess and it was hard to sob and drive at the same time!

What books make you cry?

About the Book: Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

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23. Need to Know YA 2015-MLA/KLA Join Conference Presentation

Today I'm presenting at the Missouri Library Association/Kansas Library Association Join Conference! I'm presenting on "Need to Know YA of 2015" My session is only 45 minutes, so I sadly don't get to talk about very many books, so I made a long booklist of books I'm talking about as well as others to know. Here is my handout and booklist from the session. And if you're at the conference, I'd love to see you!

Need to Know YA 2015

MLA/KLA Joint Conference

Sarah Bean Thompson

Trends in YA

Religious Extremism and Cults, End of the World Beliefs
Devoted by Jennifer Matthieu
Eden West by Pete Hautman
No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oaks
Seed by Lisa Heathfield
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Watch the Sky by Kristin Hubbard

Mental Illness
Calvin by Martine Leavitt
Disappear Home by Laura Hurwitz
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes
Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Footer Davis is Probably Crazy by Susan Vaught
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
The Last Time We Said Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
The Law of Loving Others by Katie Axelrod
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Playlist For The Dead by Michelle Falkoff
Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
Twisted Fate by Norah Olson
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B by Tessa Toten
The View From Who I Was by Heather Sappenfield
Your Voice Is All I Hear by Leah Scheier

Retellings of Arabian Tales
A Thousand Nights L.K. Johnston
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury (coming in 2016)
Rebel of the Sands Alwyn Hamilton (coming in 2016)
Sequels and Popular Authors
The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
Another Day by David Levithan
Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mass
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Fairest and Winter by Marrisa Meyer
Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams Garcia
The Heir by Keira Cass
Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
I Crawl Through It by A.S. King
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Magus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
P.S. I Love You by Jenny Han
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Stand Off by Andrew Smith
Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Websites to Know

Need to Know Middle Grade/Younger YA
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
George by Alex Gino
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Monstrous by MaryKate Connolly
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susan Nielsen

Older YA
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromley
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Buzz Books (with Some Issues)
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Hugely Buzzed Books-AKA-The Next Big Thing?
An Ember in the Sabaa Tahir
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

Need to Know Non-Fiction
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin
Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson

Other Books to Know
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas
Audacity by Melanie Crowder
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Ink and Ashes by Valynee E Maetani
Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
Lumberjanes Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder
The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
The Novice by Taran Matharu
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
A Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly
Serpentine by Cindy Pon
Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm
Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Tommy: The Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
Untwine by Edwidge Danticat
Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

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24. Blog Tour: The Toymaker's Apprentice-Sherri L. Smith Author Guest Post

Sherri L. Smith's newest book is based on The Nutcracker. Taking on a classic story is always interesting and I love knowing how authors research and make a well known story their own, so I wanted to know more about the research process for The Toymaker's Apprentice.  

Most people don’t realize that the Nutcracker ballet has its origins in an E.T.A. Hoffman story, Nussknacker und Mausekönig published in 1816.  Some thirty years later, Hoffman’s strange story caught the imagination of Alexandre Dumas—the man who wrote The Three Musketeers and other popular novels.  It was Dumas’ version that Tchiakovsky based his ballet upon.  Luckily for me, as a kid, I fell in love with both the Hoffman story and the ballet.  As an adult, I found myself still daydreaming about the mysterious godfather Drosselmeyer, and the story behind the story.  So it wasn’t much of a stretch to think that one day I would tackle those questions for myself.
In my office is a blue binder stuffed to the gills with indexed pages:  18th Century Clothing.  Asia.  Turkey.  Arabic Cooking.  Clockmaking.  Nuts.  You name it.  When I finally decided to tackle this book, I amassed so much information that the novel sank.  It disappeared from view under the weight of too many possibilities, which took me ten years to assimilate and resurface with a story worth telling.
            It’s a strange thing when you are a writer.  The book the world sees is only one version of a multiverse of books I’ve written or imagined, all a different variation on the same story.  The version of Toymaker that you will read took several passes of research.  From that initial binder (I even recruited my mother into researching various time periods for me) to the last round of spelunking into the history and politics of 1815 Europe, and toy and clockmaking of the period, I did as much research as I could from libraries and a laptop in California.  I read up on lifespans of the various animals in the books, and the land speed of mice versus humans.  How to crack nuts.  Christmas traditions in Nuremberg.  I could give you a long list and sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump talking about shrimp. 
The idea is, you find out as much as you can, set it in the back of your mind, and then tell the story.  I find my brain will pull out the supporting details it needs to keep the story alive and moving forward.  Because of this method, which is rather like sifting for gold, I am always researching stories whenever I read or learn about something new.  I remember in patting myself on the back one day for inventing catacombs beneath the city of Nuremberg that worked perfectly for my story.  Then I went back and looked at my notes.  There are catacombs!  And they still work as if I made them myself! 
The best news for all us struggling writers out there is, if you’re midstream in a story and can’t come up with a good idea based on what you know, it doesn’t mean the story doesn’t work.  You just need to do more research.
About the Book: (from Goodreads) Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family.   


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25. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

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About the Book: After an accident leaves Samantha homeless and fatherless, she's not sure what to do. It's Missouri, 1849 and her dreams of being a musician are not going to be easy-she's a girl and she's Chinese American. Without a place to go, she's invited to a local hotel run by her landlord. But he has other plans for Samantha in mind-namely working in his brothel. Samantha fights back and finds herself needing to escape and fearing for her life. She meets a slave who works at the hotel named Annamae, who is also planning to run. So together they disguise themselves as boys and set off on the Oregon Trail to find Annamae's brother and and a new life for Samantha. As Sammy and Andy, they meet up with a group of cowboys who become unexpected allies. But if they knew the truth, the group could be in trouble-Annamae and Samantha are both wanted by the law. A powerful story of friendship and family.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Who knew the world needed a YA Western? It's not a genre I get asked about regularly (although here in Missouri I do get asked this question once in awhile). Stacey Lee knew we needed an amazing girl powered YA Western featuring a diverse cast of characters and lots of keep you up reading adventure-and I'm so glad she did!

At first glance, Under A Painted Sky might be a hard sell to readers. Like I said, it's not every day I get asked for the western genre or even historical fiction. But there's one way to sell this book-have readers just open it up and read the first chapter-or even the first two chapters. The book starts with such a bang and within just a few pages, our main characters have met up and are off on the trail. There's not much waiting around for the adventure to start-it's there from page one. And it never stops. Each chapter brings a new setback on the trail, a new hardship, a new adventure, a new crisis to overcome. The details of trail life are hard and brutal (and eye-opening for readers who might be very familiar with this period in history) But it's not all dreary. There is lots of humor injected into the story as well. I love Annamae and her various quips and the cowboys can be a jovial bunch.

The thing I loved most about Under a Painted Sky, aside from how fast paced the plot is, is how diverse the cast is. Sammy and Andy meet up with cowboys who are from Texas and one of the cowboys, Petey, is from Mexico. Along the trail they meet up with people who have come from all over-a group from France, a gang of boys from Scotland. I listened to this book on audio and this is where I really fell in love with the audio-the narrator does an excellent job with all the various languages and accents.

I will admit that Sammy is a bit too perfect at times. She has overcome a lot of odds in a society that is against her and while that makes her a strong character, it also felt a bit too perfect. She can speak many languages so she can translate along the trail, she can play the fiddle (mostly seen as a man's instrument), she is well educated. I liked that she fought against expectations, but at times it felt a bit too much for the novel overall. Sammy could always save the day.

The friendship that develops between Andy and Sammy is the strongest relationship overall. They develop a strong and powerful bond and it's a beautiful picture of female friendship. They have been through something very hard and it's not going to get easier from here-the road ahead of them is still full of many trials and tribulations. Yet through it all they grow close to each other and find family in each other. I loved seeing two strong female characters in this book and I enjoyed reading about both of them.

The cowboys-Petey, West, and Cay-add another element to the novel both of drama and fun. Cay is the most lighthearted-always joking, flirting with various girls they might meet up with, and having fun along the way. Petey and West are more serious with West having the most difficult background and prejudices to overcome. His story is handled deftly. Sammy develops feelings for West, but as she's keeping her true identity a secret from the boys, the romance isn't very angsty. And since they have bigger things to deal with-like surviving-there's not much dwelling on the idea of a starcrossed romance. There is still romance in the book, but it's not the main plot point and I felt that it was well done and added a nice depth to the novel without feeling out of place. The focus is on Andy and Sammy, their friendship and the overall trip to California.

I absolutely loved this book. I've been suggesting to everyone and couldn't stop talking about it after I read it. I even got Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan to read it (which is huge!) and he enjoyed it. (He loved that there wasn't much angst in it as well) I would recommend it on audio, as the narrator does a wonderful job, but reading it is just as enjoyable-I couldn't wait to get through the last disc and finished the last 80 pages by reading it myself. I can't wait to see what Stacey Lee has in store for us next-I'm sure it will be wonderful! Even if you think you don't need a YA Western, give Under A Painted Sky a try-you might be surprised to discover a book in a genre you never knew you enjoyed.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook checked out from my library and finished book received from publisher

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