What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<August 2014>>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
     0102
03040506070809
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Welcome to my Tweendom, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 348
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
A blog filled with books for the contemporary tweenster! I am a school librarian. And an avid reader of children's and YA fiction, with the occasional dabble in the world of grown up non fiction
Statistics for Welcome to my Tweendom

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 5
1. El Deafo, by Cece Bell

After an illness at age 4, Cece loses her hearing.  She is soon equipped with a hearing aid that involves wearing a pouch around her neck attached to some "ear globs".  Cece is happy to hear again, but now has to learn how to understand once more.  To top things off, Cece now has to go to a new school.

A good thing about the new school is the other kids are wearing hearing aids too, and Cece is learning some useful skills like lip reading and using visual, context and gestural clues to help in understanding.  Cece is just finding her way, when her family decides to leave the city and head to the country, where she will be going to a regular school.

Cece gets a brand-new-BIG-for-school-only-around-the-neck hearing aid (The Phonic Ear) that comes with a microphone for her teacher to wear and is superpowerful.  What nobody expects is that it comes with the added feature of having a super long range, allowing Cece to hear not only her teacher teaching, but whatever her teacher is doing when she is out of the room as well (yes...even *that*!).

Cece has to negotiate the things that all kids go through at school - including navigating a friend who is not-so-nice, and getting her first crush.  Things unique to her situation include dealing with friends who TALK TOO LOUD AND TOO SLOW, and those who refer to her as their "deaf friend".

This is more than a graphic memoir - it is a school and family story for all kids.  Cece is an imaginative and emotional kid with whom readers will identify.  There is an accessibility to Bell's art that immediate draws you in and you can't help but cheer with her successes and cringe with her tears.  Fans of Telgemeier and Varon will readily scoop this up off of the shelves, and it *will* be passed hand to hand.  I am certain I will see many doodles of Cece and her friends in the margins of writer's notebooks this coming school year.  Do yourself a favor...get more than one!

0 Comments on El Deafo, by Cece Bell as of 7/25/2014 12:53:00 AM
Add a Comment
2. Under the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Theodora Tenpenny may live in Manhattan, but it's not a glamorous existence for her.  She lives in a ramshackle house with her absent minded math genius mother and her grandfather Jack.  But right on page 4, Jack is killed and leaves Theo only with the dying message of "Look under the egg."

Not much for a 13 year old who is trying to keep it together to go on.  So between gardening, taking care of her chickens and pickling for food, scanning the streets for useful objects and caring for her mother, Theo needs to unravel what her grandfather's wishes were.

Theo is up in her grandfather's art studio one day trying to figure out the mystery when a mouse runs up her leg and she jumps up and spills some rubbing alcohol on one of Jack's paintings - the painting unlike his other paintings.  The egg.  As Theo desperately tries to clean the rubbing alcohol off, the colors smear and smudge and she is devastated at losing this last bit of Jack.  But when she looks closely she realizes that under the egg, a different painting is revealing itself.  Could this be what Jack's dying words were about?

Theo is at a neighborhood diner owned by a friend of Jack's where she forms an unlikely friendship with Bodhi - another 13 year old who has just moved down the block and happens to have Hollywood parents.  Where Theo's existence is positively Little House on the Prairie, Bodhi's is the Jetsons in comparison.  Theo surprisingly lets Bodhi in on the secret painting, and soon with Theo's art history knowledge and Bodhi's internet skills, they are on the trail to the truth.

Woven into the text are explanations of fine art, as well as bits of history involving WWII.  There are also real life bits of NYC living including the Staten Island Ferry, Grace Church, the Met and the Jefferson Market Library.  All of these true things had me actually google Spinney Lane to see if it was one of those Manhattan streets I've walked by a million times but not walked down.

This is a solid summer mystery with a really fantastic sense of place.

0 Comments on Under the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald as of 7/13/2014 2:53:00 PM
Add a Comment
3. It's Summer Throwdown Time!

It's year 3 of the #summerthrowdown, y'all!  What is the summer throwdown, you ask? Well, it started as a friendly competition between teachers and librarians to see who could get the most reading done in a month. Over the years it has morphed into a read-o-rama, where we all try to read as much as we can to inform our readers advisory skills.

When I do the #summerthrowdown I tend to read across age groups so that I can recommend books to all constituents in our school - from the 4 year olds to the 15 year olds to parents and care givers.  So while you will be hearing about the tween titles more fully here, I am going to give a couple brief synopses of some of the books I have read and enjoyed that fall out of the tween age group.

First off we have Noggin, by John Corey Whaley.  Travis Coates opted for a radical treatment to his cancer - having his head removed and placed in a cyrogenics lab to await a possible body donation sometime in the future.  But the future comes sooner than anyone can imagine.  After only 5 years, Travis is still 16 and his best friend and girlfriend seem to have moved on, his parents are off and he feels like a freak.  How will he make it through this transformation?






Next, we have Alex London's follow up to Proxy called Guardian.  The Rebooters have taken over and the Reconciliation has placed Syd (Yovel) at its head, given him a bodyguard and are trying to reform the world.  Power, however, is an interesting thing and perhaps the leanings of those in charge of the Reconciliation aren't where they should be.  Larger than life characters and constant action will keep fans of the first installment wanting more.






A Time to Dance, by Padma Venkatraman is a stunning account of dancer Veda's journey as a dancer.  She has always wanted to dance, has breathed rhythm and feels strongly enough to go against her mother's wishes for her education.  Where a terrible crash leaves her an amputee, Veda has to find a way to dance again. Beautifully written, this story is a must read.







And finally Toms River, by Dan Fagin.  I am still working on this one, but this account of small towns and industrial pollution has this former resident of Niagara captivated.  I keep having to read bits aloud, because I simply cannot believe what was going on unbeknownst to most residents of Toms River in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.  Fascinating and horrifying all at once.







So head on over to the Summer Throwdown and get reading!










0 Comments on It's Summer Throwdown Time! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
4. What's In A Name

creative commons search "name"
As someone who has a background in feminist studies, I know that the naming of things is important.  There is a power in a name, and politics exist within the realm of naming as well.

What does this have to do with libraries and librarianship? Quite a bit.

When I was in library school back in the mid 90s, my graduate school was going through reaccreditation.  One of the issues on the table was renaming the school.  On the table was changing the degree from a Masters in Library and Information Studies to a Masters in Information Studies.  Heated debates ensued, but at the end of it all, the students felt that it was really important to leave the word library in the title of the degree.

In the world of school libraries, after a stint of media centers, it seems that the term of favor now is Information Commons.  My response to this is that I think that the very idea of information commons is implicit in the idea of libraries.  I do understand that the term IC is probably much sexier when it comes to funding. Whenever I tell folks I am a school I usually get a chuckle and nudge and told either I don't look like a librarian, or asked if I still teach Dewey.  I know if I told them I was worked in an information commons in an academic setting I might get a little more respect.  I find myself, however, sticking to the terms library and librarian.

Trust me, I have done plenty of reflection regarding whether or not I am simply becoming one of those "GET OFF MY LAWN" people.  I really don't think that is it.  I don't think that I am clinging to something that is outdated.  Rather, I think that folks really need to broaden their view of what it means to be a librarian and work in a library.

What do you think is in a name?

0 Comments on What's In A Name as of 6/24/2014 11:13:00 PM
Add a Comment
5. The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

Fast talking basketball kid Josh lives for the game.  It makes sense since his father Chuck "Da Man" Bell was a player in his own right back in the day.  Chuck played the European League, but now stays home to take care of the house while Josh's mom is the Vice Principal at his school.  Josh's twin Jordan (JB) lives for basketball too, but things are starting to shift.

Miss Sweet Tea in her pink Reeboks has caught JB's attention, and Josh isn't quite sure how to be without JB.  He finds himself missing his brother's wisecracks and bets.  He's not used to being one.  Even on the court their flow has changed, and Josh crosses a line in a way that he wouldn't have even considered before.

Girls and basketball aren't the only things that the Bell family is dealing with.  Mrs. Bell is trying, trying, trying to get Chuck to deal with his health issues.  He is a man who likes his treats, he gets fired up over his sons' games, and he simply refuses to see a doctor despite his spells.

This story of the love of the game, shifting allegiances and family will take readers on a journey they are not likely to forget.  There's a rawness and realness to Josh both on and off the court.  Alexander's free verse brings the pace of the story up, but there are moments that give the reader real pause as well. For example in Basketball Rule #3 Alexander writes:" Never let anyone / lower your goals. / Others' expectations / of you are determined / by their limitations / of life. / The sky is your limit, sons. / Always shoot / for the sun / and you will shine."  And the poem Dear Jordan will leave you breathless.

The Crossover is a quick read, but it is a book that should and will be reread. Add this to your TBR pile, asap!

0 Comments on The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander as of 6/11/2014 3:35:00 AM
Add a Comment
6. Sunday Musings - Gender and Reading - Gendered Reading

By Copyright by Fritz W. Guerin, St. Louis. [Public domain]
Gender seems to be perpetually in the air in the world of librarianship and children's literature.  I have been in this field for a while now and have worked in some different settings, but my setting of well over 10 years now has been in a school.

Over the past month or so I have been paying more attention than usual to our collection, gender and circulation.  I first started off simply with a post-it and two columns.  Each time a student would check out a book, I would mark off the column with the gender identification.  Every day the results would be similar.  The boys and girls in my school check out a similar amount of books.

I then decided to utilize the catalog software. (Anyone who knows me knows that I *love* running statistics!) I started off looking at the top ten patrons (those with the highest number of check outs) for the month, then I ran it back to the last 9 months of the school year.  The results?  Out of the top 10 patrons, 7 of them are boys.  Open the stats up to the top 50 patrons and the gender mix gets closer - 26 girls and 24 boys make up our top 50.

I have many thoughts about the why of this.  We have 4 librarians shepherding our students through their years at school.  Our early childhood librarian is a man, so one of the students first looks at what a reader looks like is Jesse.  We are very mindful about the books we share with our students, and we try incredibly hard to make sure there is a variety with characters who are diverse in all sorts of ways.  When we find stereotypes, we talk about them with the students.  We don't go in for the "Girl's Read" "Guys Read" variety of booklists or book talks.  In fact, two of my favorite anecdotes about assumptions helped make me more aware of my own gender bias after being steeped in this girls vs boys culture my whole life.  We have a boy who is a super reader, and he mostly (to my knowledge) was a reader of graphic novels.  He pretty much read everything we had for his age group by the time he was done with 4th grade.  At the end of the year, I ask the students to reflect and I ask them their favorite title.  His favorite title of all time?  The Penderwicks by Birdsall.  We also had a group of middle school boys who quietly came into the library and methodically checked out every single Clique book.  They didn't hide them, read them out in the open, and felt no shame along the way.

It's really up to the adults in the room to set the tone and fight against the pink and blue tide.  Create a reading culture, make sure you are not perpetuating the stereotype by handing boys sports books and girls friendship books.  Highlight books that get outside of the gender box.  Remember, there are no such thing as boy books and girl books, no matter what some marketing departments might say.

0 Comments on Sunday Musings - Gender and Reading - Gendered Reading as of 5/25/2014 11:08:00 AM
Add a Comment
7. The Secret Hum of a Daisy, by Tracy Holczer

Grace is used to traveling from place to place with her wandering mom, so when she passes and Grace has to stop, she is worried.  She knows that if she could just stay with Mrs. Greene and Lacey she will be alright.  But that is not the plan.  The plan is that she has to stay with her grandmother.

The problem is, she never met her grandmother before.  In fact, all she knows about her is that she kicked her mom out of the house when she was a teenager and pregnant with Grace.  Grace feels that if her grandmother didn't want her then, how can she possibly want her now?

Once she lands in her mother's hometown, she starts to see signs and find clues that her mother is still with her.  It's just like when she was younger and they would move to a different place -- her mother would send her on a scavenger hunt through the town.  This time, it all starts with an origami crane, stuck in the bushes on Grace's first day of school after the funeral.  "Mama thought birds were signposts sent to let us know we were headed in the right direction.  We'd look for birds on road signs, in murals or billboards, anywhere they might show up.  So I took that bird as a sign of encouragement." (pg. 57)

But is Grace on the right path?  Is trying to make her grandmother angry so she will send her back to Mrs. Greene the right thing to do?  Or should she stay in her mama's town and learn more about her mama, her late father and grandfather and her grandmother as well?  Should Grace give her a chance?

This is less a story of loss than it is a story of finding oneself.  Grace is quiet and thoughtful and is torn apart with her idea of Before mama died and After mama died.  The passing of her mother is fresh (days old at the start) and the reader joins Grace on this journey of trying to do more than simply exist in the After.  The Secret Hum of a Daisy possesses a simplicity that I find refreshing.  There is a poetry to the prose that is as far from flowery as you can get, but manages to land just right.  Several times I had to pause, close the book and just sit in wonder for a moment.  This is one that will simmer with you for a very long time after you read the final words.

Beautiful.

0 Comments on The Secret Hum of a Daisy, by Tracy Holczer as of 5/3/2014 4:01:00 PM
Add a Comment
8. Why Libraries?

A couple of weeks ago my twitter feed kept revealing a #whylib hashtag. Some of the most creative folks in my PLN were participating, so of course I clicked through and have spent quite a bit of time reading the stories of how so many of the people I admire ended up in libraries.

I didn't start out ever thinking I'd be a librarian.  The public library was always part of my life growing up.  I wrote a post for the Nerdy Book Club outlining my early experience with libraries. (Please excuse the typo in the text!)

My journey to being a librarian didn't start until I was well into my undergrad years.  Originally I was setting my sights on earning a PhD in History.  After meeting quite a few TAs who were mid thesis and having some serious conversations with them, I started to think more about options for someone graduating with a degree in History and Women's Studies.  After a bit of exploring, I starting thinking about Archival Studies...after all, my favourite bits of history were the research ones - especially those dealing with primary sources.  In the last year of my BAH I applied at UBC's program for Archival Studies.  It was not meant to be.  In hindsight it makes lots of sense, but at the time it did sting.  I took a year after graduating to take some extra classes and thought about library school.

Interestingly enough, once I decided on library school, I asked one of my History professors for a recommendation to McGill's program and she told me she thought I was making a mistake.  She had come the other way...she had been a librarian, and then went back for a PhD in History.  She told me that my love of research would be lost in library school.

She wrote me the letter and the next year I started my MLIS at McGill in Montreal.  The degree is a 2 year program that I attended full time.  The summer between first and second year I scored a job in a special library (thanks, Uncle Michael!) and pretty much decided that special libraries were where I wanted to land.  The second year of my program, I was free to take some optional courses and I decided to take a course in YA lit.  My sights started to shift.

My graduation year was 1996  -  a very different time.  This was a time that the NYC libraries came to Canada to recruit folks.  Entry level jobs were scarce in Canada and many of my classmates were moving to the States to work.  My roommates and I attended ALA in San Antonio resumes in hand hoping to score an offer before graduation.  I was still of two minds - special libraries or YA?  An offer came for each, and ultimately I followed my heart and became the YA librarian at a branch of the New York Public Library.

I landed at the perfect branch for me, which is a lucky thing when you think about the fact that there are 81 branches plus the research libraries.  My teens were little goths and punks and comic book addicts and poetry writers.  I know, right?  I had a fantastic branch manager who let me try things like zine workshops and other programs that hadn't been done in house before.

Ultimately my journey has brought me to school libraries, and I have to say this is where I think I belong.  I am lucky enough to work with a team of librarians (also a rare thing for a relatively small school) who challenge me professionally in a school where I am allowed to take risks.

At the end of the day, I am glad I didn't take my History professor's advice.  While I don't pull on the white gloves and tweezers to look at primary resources, I get to have conversations with kids about their reading and their lives.  Every now and again I get an email out of the blue from a former student who has something great to say.  I am immersed in amazing literature written for children and teens. I am exploring technology and learning about and using resources I hadn't heard of the year before.  Each day is different, and I have to say I love it.


0 Comments on Why Libraries? as of 4/13/2014 11:11:00 PM
Add a Comment
9. Jane, the fox & me, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault


I am smitten with this graphic novel that hits all of the right spots for any tween who has ever felt alone.

Hélène has been dumped by her friends. Not only dumped, but they are actively making her life intolerable.  Huddled in the hallways of school, snickering when she walks by, writing on the walls of the girls' bathroom.  "Hélène weighs 216! She smells like BO?" There's nowhere to hide.

Hélène finds some solace in her reading of Jane Eyre.  She reads better when her old friends aren't on the bus.  If they are she can at least look like she's not listening even when she can't help but hear them.

Hélène doesn't want to burden her mother with what is going on. Her mother works so hard for the family, and Hélène doesn't want to add to her pile of things.  But her mother does have to take her shopping downtown when it is announced that Hélène's class will be going to the woods to nature camp for four nights.  Four night with Geneviève, Sarah, Anne-Julie and Chloé.  And bathing suits will be involved.

Not surprisingly Hélène is selected into the tent of outcasts.  Which is okay with her because at least it's quiet.  But a chance encounter with a fox and noticing the empathy in someone's eyes combine to shift Jane's world of exile.

Exquisitely drawn, this is a book to be owned.  And shared.  I borrowed it from the library, but then quickly purchased the English and French versions.  Jane's life is depicted in black and white, while the Jane Eyre portions are awash in blocks of color.  I would buy this book for the panels on pages 58-59 and 74-75 alone.  I look forward to reading the (original) French version to see what nuances might be different.  This is a quiet book, but it is not to be missed.

0 Comments on Jane, the fox & me, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault as of 3/28/2014 6:15:00 PM
Add a Comment
10. A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd

Sometimes a book will just call out to you.  It tells you that it was meant for you and that you need to read it.  The first time I heard the title A Snicker of Magic, I was intrigued.  The first time I saw the delightful cover, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

Felicity Juniper Pickle is a collector of words.  Not in the same way that some of us are, she is lucky enough to see words.  Words surround certain people and things, and when Felicity sees them, she writes them down in her always present blue notebook.  When her little sister Frannie Jo asks for a poem, Felicity can pluck them out of the air and combine them into a soothing rhyme for her.

There are two things that Felicity Pickle cannot do, however.  She cannot comfortably speak those words in front of anyone, and she can't stay in one place too long.  The first thing she can work on, but the second thing is all because of her Mama.

Her Mama is cursed with a wandering heart.  She loads her girls up into her beat-up van and travels around with them.  This last jaunt has brought the Pickles home to where Mama grew up: Midnight Gulch.  Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, but a few generations ago the magic seemingly up and left town right along with the famous Threadbare brothers.

But for Felicity, Midnight Gulch does turn out to be a magical place.  First of all, she acquires her very first friend - Jonah Pickett.  And Jonah, it turns out, has a secret and a bit of a magical identity as well.  As he takes Felicity under his wing, she sees the things that could be -- the things that she didn't even know she was longing for as Mama shuttled them around "Per-clunkity-clunk, per-clunkity-clunk" across the country.

Natalie Lloyd has created the kind of world that readers want to jump into.  This small Tennessee town should exist and feels like it does.  Perfectly quirky, the characters are interwoven, layered and kind. Turns of phrase verily melt in your mouth, and beg to be read aloud.  This is a heart-song book, if ever there was one.

0 Comments on A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd as of 3/4/2014 11:42:00 AM
Add a Comment
11. Time, time, time....

Holy cats!  It's been a while.

February was an incredibly busy time around school and this blog has suffered for it.

Rest assured, I have been reading and will be reviewing a couple of titles shortly.  I have been reading all over the place lately, but a couple of good tween fits were among the stack.  Look soon for recommendations of:

Nightingale's Nest, by Loftin - a foray into magical realism that packs a punch.











The Meaning of Maggie, by Sovern - an incredibly likable Maggie adjusts to the changes around her.











0 Comments on Time, time, time.... as of 2/27/2014 11:12:00 PM
Add a Comment
12. The Mother-Daughter ALA

I did not attend ALA proper this year, but I did manage to road trip down with my 10 year old daughter to take a turn on the exhibit floor.

If ALA is ever local to you and you have kids who are old enough to handle the relative overwhelming nature of the floor, I highly recommend it.

The publishers all treated her with care, and we timed it so that she got to meet Tom Angleberger and have him sign a copy of Horton Halfpott complete with illustration.

It was fun seeing ALA through her lens.  She couldn't believe that arcs were for the taking, and she is super-excited to have some new titles to blog about this spring.

0 Comments on The Mother-Daughter ALA as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell

Rooftoppers sat on my shelf for about two months before I pulled it down to give it a read.  I had heard the murmurs that it was not to be missed, and a few pages in I was kicking myself for leaving on the shelf for so long.

Sophie is plucked out of the sea where she has been bobbing in a cello case after the ship she was presumably traveling on went down.  Her rescuer is bachelor Charles, who lives on his own and is decidedly a cerebral sort of gentleman.  According to the National Childcare Agency, Charles is ill equipped to care for a one year old girl, but he knows he possesses all the love necessary to do right by the child.  The NCA decides to let Charles care for the girl for the time being, and worker Miss Eliot vows to stop by to make sure that all is well.

Sophie's upbringing is by all means unconventional.  She is schooled at home according to what Charles deems important: Shakespeare, geography and the art of whistling.  Sophie, however, cannot stop thinking about the mother she is sure she lost when the ship went down.  Charles has alway told Sophie to "never ignore a possible", and though her memories are improbable, they are not impossible. Sophie is certain her mother is still alive and playing the cello somewhere, and she has a growing desperation regarding finding her.  Her phantom memories of trousers worn at the knee are no longer enough.  Once the NCA decides that a girl of Sophie's age needs alternate guardianship and Sophie finds a long overlooked clue, she and Charles decide not to ignore the possible and head to Paris.

Paris is where the adventure truly begins.  A world Sophie never could have imagined is right above her on the rooftops, and it seems that Charles' upbringing was the perfect thing to prepare Sophie for the next steps of her life.

Katherine Rundell has written what can only be described as a modern classic.  It has the feel of a story that has been around for an age, one that is timeless, but somehow has not been done before.  The turns of phrase are magical without crossing into the realm of purple.  Rooftoppers begs to be read aloud, and deserves a place of honor on bookshelves everywhere.

0 Comments on Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Real Life Tween Reader

D is a girl who reads all the time.  Seriously.  All. The. Time.

She is always up for a recommendation, has no problem with abandoning a book that doesn't fit, and is super enthusiastic about books.  I asked her if she would answer some reading questions, and she answered with an enthusiastic "Yes!"

Do you consider yourself a reader?
Yes.  A serious one. I love to read and get upset when someone tries to interrupt me.

What are your favorite genres to read?
I love to read Realistic Fiction, but my favorite books are FANTASY!

How do you select the books you want to read?
I look at books that might seem interesting and I read the blurb.  I also get book recommendations and look for other books an author may have written.

What is your favorite book so far?
My favorite book so far is...Hunger Games, When You Reach Me, Harry Potter series, Proxy, Crook series, Ranger's Apprentice series, Sea of Trolls series, Cherub and MORE!

What is your favorite thing about reading?
That it takes me to a different world.

Do you read on an e-reader/phone/computer?
No.  I like the feel of paper and the solid form of a book.

What kinds of books do you think are the most popular with kids your age?  Why?
I think fiction books are most popular with kids my age because we like how we can be in a world that isn't possible, or won't happen to us.  We like how we experience problems that most likely won't happen to us now-a-days.

What are you currently reading?
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

0 Comments on Real Life Tween Reader as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle

I was going back through old reviews assuming that I had blogged Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle.  Ooops!  If you feel a need to catch up before this one, head over to HuffPo and see what they have to say.

We start off with Nate escaping from his dreary bullied existence in Jankburg to go live with his Aunt Heidi in Queens and understudy for E.T. in E.T.: The Musical.  He's not sure how he is going to make it sans best friend Libby.

His first dose of rehearsal is complete with a sense of disorientation, dread and filled with full time theater kids.  You know, the ones that attend the Professional Performing Arts School for kids?  The ones who have side-eye implied in their questions?  Nate isn't exactly seasoned in theater, but what he lacks in experience he makes up for in enthusiasm and observation skills.  Before he knows it, he is assigned to be Alien #7 as well as one of two understudies to be E.T.  It becomes apparent before long that there is some dissension among the ranks of the director (who doesn't even remember Nate's name), producers and choreographers of the show.

Nate, however, has other things to worry about.

Things like the fact that Libby seems to have taken up with one of his old bullies back in PA...in a romantic way.  Things like the other E.T. understudy, Asella, wants to take him out for mani-pedis and run lines.  Things like the secret admirer Nate seems to have acquired.

Listen, I'm going to be honest with you -- I am not a musical girl.  I have an active disdain for many if not most things theater, but do you know what?  Federle won me over.  Why?  Because these books aren't about Broadway or call backs or auditions.  These books are about the characters.  Nate is a kid who is definitely a square peg.  He doesn't fit in in his small town, or in his family and frankly he's not a perfect fit in the theater either.  But what Federle does so well is write the relationships.  There aren't any throw-away characters in here.  Everyone is here for a reason and works in a way to either build Nate up, or help him learn something about himself.  The character dynamic doesn't go one way either.  Often Nate helps other characters be more of themselves (Aunt Heidi, Jordan, Asella).

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention these books fill an enormous void.  Yes, Nate is gay, but as he puts it in the first book - "My sexuality, by the way, is off-topic and unrelated".  Federle makes Nate's sexuality only one facet in his life.  There is no hammer of message coming down, which I appreciate and I think readers will too.

Five, Six, Seven, Nate isn't just for theater kids.  Or gay kids.  Or small town kids.  It's the kind of book that crosses genders and genres.  Because after all, it's all about relationships.


0 Comments on Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. Favorite Reads of 2013

Wow!  2013 was quite a year for books.  I kept getting nervous while choosing the next book since I kept reading good books.  I was ready to be let down, but thankfully there were very few let downs for me.  Please enjoy the following top 5s from my reading year.  Let it be noted that these lists haven't been balanced in any way...they are my from the heart favs!

Top 5 Picture Books

What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings, by Joyce Sidman
The Mighty Lalouche, by Matthew Olshan
Ball, by Mary Sullivan
The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, by Jen Bryant







Top 5 Tween Books

P.S. Be Eleven, by Rita Willaims-Garcia
Flora & Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo
Seeing Red, by Kathryn Erskine
The Real Boy, by Anne Ursu
From Norvelt to Nowhere, by Jack Gantos







Top 5 YA Books

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black
Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang
Proxy, by Alex London
Winger, by Andrew Smith
Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff

0 Comments on Favorite Reads of 2013 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. On the Horizon

One of the best things about living in NYC is the proximity to so many publishing houses.  We are often able to attend a variety of publisher previews where editors and library marketing folks let us in on what is coming up.

Last week I was able to attend a preview at Penguin (since the 3rd graders I usually teach at that time were at the Natural History Museum).  Here are some of the upcoming titles that I am excited to get my hands on!

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, by Sheila Turnage
I adored the first one, and we were lucky enough to host Sheila at school last fall.  Her characters are unforgettable, and I can't wait to dive back into one of my favorite towns. (Publishing February 2014)








The Last Wild, by Piers Torday
I'm intrigued by the premise of a world where animals no longer exists.  It is being touted as a "quest, a tearjerker and an environmental fable".   It sounds like it will be a perfect fit for so many of my readers! (Publishing in March 2014)







The Sittin' Up, by Shelia T. Moses
Bean and Pole of the Low Meadows are very upset that Mr. Bro. Wiley has passed, but they are also excited to be attending their first sittin' up.  Countrified and quirky, just like I like them!  (Publishes January 2014)










The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, by Brenda Woods
Biracial Violet's mom is white and her dad (who died before she was born) was black.  Violet is tired of being the only brown person in her world and starts to reach out to her late father's family.  I'm hoping this will be as good as I want it to be!







The Nethergrim, by Matthew Jobin
I starred this as soon as the editor said, "smart literary fantasy with enough air and land to satisfy dreamers and realists alike."  It was also promoted as a read next for Ranger's Apprentice fans. (Publishes April 2014)









Nightingale's Nest, by Nikki Loftin
Winner for the best cover, this book is "inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story" and seems like it has just the right amount of magical realism. Blurbed by Anne Ursu as well!



0 Comments on On the Horizon as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. Maker Monday - aka Passive Programming in the School Library

Today I attempted my first Maker Monday, and I have to say, it was a modest success.  It does help that I have my own daughter with me who is willing to jump in to any and all things crafty.  I started easy, with a craft that many children already know.

Paper snowflakes.

But I took it up a notch by asking the kids to write a hope or dream for the New Year on their snowflake.


I simply printed out step-by-step directions, along with diagrams of the necessary folds.  I found it necessary to individually ask some kids to come over to the table, but most were willing and they were all willing to help one another.  I had a mix of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th graders complete the craft.

I told a couple of the parents that this would be a Monday thing, and there was only positive feedback.

0 Comments on Maker Monday - aka Passive Programming in the School Library as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. Anna Was Here, by Jane Kurtz

Anna is a worrier.  But she is also a planner, which helps to alleviate some of those worries.  Her weekly Safety Club meetings also help.  She doesn't let the fact that the only other member left is Jericho - Anna's Sunday school teacher and part of her minister father's college group.  But it is in one of these very meetings, that Jericho lets some news slip.  News that Anna hadn't heard.

Anna's family is moving to Kansas.

This unleashes a whole new set of worries for Anna.  She's prepared for weather emergencies in Colorado, not Kansas.  She is going to have to sleep in a house that belongs to a church!  She is going to have to deal with cousins.

Little does Anna know that there will be emergencies that will change her family and make her look at the big picture instead of focusing on her own private worries.

Anna Was Here is a charming book that explores family and faith in equal measure.  Anna's family is Christian and their faith truly does drive their actions and their interactions.  Even if readers are not religious they will be able to identify with the themes of moving, getting past oneself and shifting allegiances.  Anna's relationships with her cousins and her conflict with her dad are perfectly age appropriate and it's refreshing to see her grow out of behaviors and into herself.  A perfect read for those kids who are fighting the change of growing up, and for those families who are looking for Christian books for kids.

0 Comments on Anna Was Here, by Jane Kurtz as of 8/28/2013 1:36:00 PM
Add a Comment
20. Tween Book List

For those of you who are not members of ALSC, you should know that they have just published a booklist for tweens.  I took a look at it, and as someone who has read 17 of the titles, it is a solid list.  In fact, my most favorite tween read of the year is on that list.  Why not head over and check it out!

0 Comments on Tween Book List as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. What book did *you* write?

I love sharing a desk with two other librarians.  It's wonderful to have folks that I respect to bounce ideas off of.  We get to discuss books and movies and kids.  Both of these librarians have written books and our students know this, so eventually almost every kid asks me, "Stacy...what book did *you* write?"
They are often shocked to find out that I have not written a book, and that I am not writing a book, and even more so that I have no desire to write a book. The thought of writing fiction terrifies me.  I am a happy consumer of story, and while I do produce story in my daily life, I have neither the chops nor the talent to dive into something as arduous and time consuming as writing for others.
I have dabbled in group creation like writing camp, and I am noticing all of the folks committing to writing during #nanomo and #nerdlution . What I have learned is that it is not for me.  I have also learned that figuring this out has set me free.
I have often thought about writing.  I do enjoy writing my own poetry, and if I ever were to do all the necessary work to create a book, it would likely be the wonky non-fiction that I love.
My hat is off to those who are passionate about writing and story. Know that there are equally passionate readers out there, and we salute you!

0 Comments on What book did *you* write? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes....

Things have been quiet around here.  I have been thinking.

I started Tweendom at a time when parents were asking and asking for books for their middle graders.  That market has clearly exploded, and while I still adore reading for this age group, I feel a bit like I am in an echo chamber.  So many folks are reviewing so often, and by the time I get around to blurbing a book, I feel like all that I would have said has been said already.

But I'm not quite ready to give it all up yet.  So now, I am thinking of changing scope. (Curse naming my blog after a specific age-group!) I will be blogging some cool stuff I am doing in my role as a school librarian.  I will also be blogging some of the bigger issues going on in the education and library worlds.  There will still be recommendations as well, but they will definitely be interspersed with the other stuff.

Thanks for hanging in!

0 Comments on Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.... as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. On the Clipboard

Here are some of the books that I found checked out on the clipboard this week!

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio











Kiki Strike and the Empress's Tomb, by Kirsten Miller











Sugar and Ice, by Kate Messner











Home is East, by Many Ly













Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka











What have your tweens been reading lately?

0 Comments on On the Clipboard as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
24. Jack Strong Takes a Stand, by Tommy Greenwald

Jack Strong is a typical middle school kid who goes to a typical middle school. He does well in school, he doesn't make trouble, and he pretty much blends in the middle of the pack with regard to popularity. Jack even goes as far as saying that he *likes* school...especially Cathy Billows (who is pretty enough to make Jack's eyebrows hurt), his favorite teacher Mrs. Bender, and his relaxing bus ride home.

Jack's troubles start when he reaches home.

This is when his schedule kicks in.  Jack has after school and weekend activities.  Many after school and weekend activities.  Jack's dad thinks that these activities are going to look great on Jack's college applications.  So whether it's soccer, cello, tennis, test prep, Chinese, swimming, math tutor, karate, little league or youth orchestra Jack is expected to give it his all.

The thing is, Jack doesn't like all of these activities.  Some of them are great, but others just make him tired.  More and more often Jack finds himself missing out on all of the social activities that his peers are engaging in.  After winning his little league game, Cathy (of the eyebrows) invites Jack to go with her and some friends to grab some hotdogs, but Jack's dad has scheduled a tennis clinic and he isn't allowed to go.

Jack has had enough.  The next Monday, when he gets home from school he hits the couch.  Soon it's time for him to go to soccer, and he decides he's not going to go.  When his dad gets on the phone to tell him why he should get going, Jack has this to say - "Dad, do you really want to know what the other kids are doing?  I'll tell you.  They're at the party you didn't let me go to because I had to get better at cello.  And they're getting the free ice cream sundaes that I missed because I had to get better at Chinese.  And they're celebrating winning the World Series, but they're celebrating without me, because I had to get better at tennis." (p. 69)  So Jack decides to go on strike.  He is staying on the couch until his folks let him drop some of his after school activities.

What follows is an interesting and insightful look into the life of an over scheduled kid.  Sure Jack's dad wants what is best for him, but can he even hear Jack when he says he'd like to drop some activities? Tommy Greenwald has a knack for the kid voice.  Jack (just like Charlie Joe) is authentic and likable. His strike, which in other hands could have seemed like a bratty move, doesn't come across that way at all.  Jack's agency and his heart come across loud and clear, and readers won't be able to help but root for his success.

0 Comments on Jack Strong Takes a Stand, by Tommy Greenwald as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. On the Clipboard 2013/2014 School Year

Well it's that time again.  The books are circing and the librarians are on our toes trying to provide stellar readers' advisory.  At the end of the day, some kids still find things on their own or from recommendations from friends.  Here are some titles that have appeared on the clipboard lately.

Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made, by Stephan Pastis











Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, by Robin Jarvis











Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel











Dear Pen Pal, by Heather Vogel Frederick











What have your tweens been reading lately?

0 Comments on On the Clipboard 2013/2014 School Year as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts