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1. Organization Part 2: The Reading Binder

In July, I wrote a post about how I keep organized, both in reading/reviewing and then all that other stuff I do during the day.

After a conversation on twitter this week, I realized I left off something important: The Reading Binder. It's a source of awe and good-natured ribbing in some circles, and it's the only way I can handle award and booklist committee work. (I wasn't on committee in July, so I forgot about it.)

What you need:
1. A 3-ring binder
2. Tabbed separators
3. Loose leaf paper
4. 3-hole punch
5. Highlighters

The first section is for administrative stuff. I print out committee policies and procedures, schedules, rosters, and contracts/agreements I had to sign, etc. This is so I can always go back and look, and be reminded of what we're doing. When I chaired Outstanding Books for the College Bound, I also had another section of chair stuff, which was more of the same, but chair-specific. Also, because Outstanding Books was such an overwhelming charge, I had another section with articles about the history of the list, and another one with previous lists.

The next section is for the actual books. The first page is my at-a-glance sheet, which I'll explain more about later. In the book section, each nominated book gets its own page (or more.) For YALSA committees, there's an actual nomination form that gets sent out for each book, with citation info, annotation, and why it was nominated. I would copy this form into Word and add a picture of the book cover and print it out. For my reading notes, I make them on the back of this sheet, or tape them on, or make them on a sheet of loose leaf that I then put in the binder with the nomination form. For committees that don't have a nice nomination form (like Cybils), each book gets a sheet of looseleaf with my notes. The form my notes tend to take are things I jot down while reading and then after I finish, a paragraph or more of my thoughts about a book, including strengths and weaknesses as a contender for whatever I'm evaluating it for.

There are some various levels of organization within this section. When I was on Nonfiction, there were 2 sections--one for books I hadn't read yet with just the nomination forms, and one for the books I had read. On Outstanding Books, I had to keep an eye on all sections, and had a different section for each sublist (this was helpful when I had to run meetings, too.) Within the "have read" section, I find it's most useful to put the notes and forms in the order they'll be discussed at meetings. (Usually in the order they were nominated.)

The organization in this area will vary depending on the committee. It will also vary during committee time. Nonfiction had a short list, which was announced in December, but the actual winner wasn't decided until midwinter, when it was announced. After we made the short list, I pulled those nominations to the front, away from the ones that we were no longer considering. On Outstanding Books, we narrowed the list down a bit before midwinter, so I pulled out the books that were no longer under consideration.

Now the first page of this section is the at-a-glance page. The at-a-glance is a spreadsheet print-out. There's a column for the name of the book, a box where I can check if I've read it, and a box for brief notes (maybe a sentence or two). This is also color-coded (time to break out your highlighters.) I use a basic green/yellow/red coding system (it's a traffic light) green are for the books I love and I'll cry if they don't make it to the finals. Red is the books I loathe and I'll cry if they do make it to the finals. Yellow is for everything else. YES, there is also a spring green and orange level. The at-a-glance is for when I need a quick snapshot of where my thinking is on the list as a whole. This is something that needs to be redone (and reprinted out) on a regular basis--at least once a month--as more titles are added and my thinking about the books shifts.

This is different from my status page, which is usually in my date book. This is a list of all the books I haven't read yet, and whether or not they're checked out/on hold/at a different library/need to buy/have an ARC/review copy is coming/etc. (Also, due dates and how many renewals I have left). I then just cross the book off the list when it's read and hand-write in more titles as they're nominated. This is something I have to redo weekly.

Also, let's talk meeting notes. Grab your looseleaf! When you have a face-to-face meeting or a group call or chat and take notes... notes on general committee stuff get files int he admin front section. Notes on titles are appended on the end of my notes on a title. (as are re-read notes.) For committees where things are just discussed on email (and committees that use email in addition to face-to-face), I usually just save the email in a separate folder, but I will jot down some things that other people mentioned if I'm thinking about them and am working on a response.

Now, obviously, the make-up of the binder and how things work changes a bit with each committee, as they require different things, but this is the overall idea of how I work.

Is there a Cybils binder? I'm in the process. I'm on second-round, so I have just over a month to look at 5 books, so I don't really need a binder. But, I'm reading a lot of the nominations now, partly as a personal armchair, but also just to be ready to go when January 1st rolls around. I'm putting together a binder so I can remember my thoughts and feelings on any titles that make it to the second round.

What's your system for tracking committee or other assigned reading? Do you have any questions about my crazy binders full of books?


Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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2. Reread #43 Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I have now read Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers three times. (The first review; the second review.) It is a book that is a pleasure to reread. (Not every book is.) I enjoy Grave Mercy because it is intriguing and compelling.

It is set in Brittany in the late 1480s. You can read more about the time period in which this historical novel is set. One of the central characters is Anne of Brittany. Some might feel it is heavy on politics, but, I enjoyed the politics and the tension.

I wish the author had included more, at the very least more real names. For example, instead of "king of England" or "England's king" I wish she'd named him: Henry VII. There were places she could have been more specific, grounded the book more into history. I'd have LOVED an author's note. I'd have also loved an indication of which characters were historical people and which weren't. 

Grave Mercy is not your traditional historical romance. (Well, now that I think about it. If Philippa Gregory can have witches and curses in her Cousins' War series, and be considered "historical" romance, then Grave Mercy might rightly be included as well.) For those that love, love, love romance, I think there is plenty of it in Grave Mercy. I think that is one of its most satisfying features. For those that love fantasy and/or mythology, I think it has some appeal as well. The heroine, Ismae, is Death's daughter and his handmaiden. She lives in a convent, of sorts, dedicated to serving Death. She is a trained assassin. She kills those that her lord (Death) has marked for death.

One of her assignments brings her close to Duval, the half-brother of Anne of Brittany. They share a common goal: to protect Anne, to protect Brittany. But she's been taught--trained--to trust no one, to love no one. So this assignment will test her certainly!

The book has plenty of action, drama, mystery, and politics.
"Are you drunk?" I try to put as much scorn into my words as he did.
"No. Yes. Perhaps a little. Definitely not enough." The bleakness is back and he turns to stare into the flames.
I am torn between wanting to leave him to wallow in his despair and wanting to rush to his side and chase that look from his eyes. That I long to do this appalls me, sets panic fluttering against my ribs.
"I suggest you return to your room," Duval says, his gaze still fixed woodenly on the fire. "Unless you have come to practice your lessons of seduction on me?" His mouth twists in bitter amusement. "That could well entertain me till sunrise."
I jerk my head back as if I have been slapped. "No, milord. I had thought only to pray for your soul if Madame Hivern had seen fit to poison you. Nothing more." And with that, I turn and flee the room, then bolt the door against the disturbing glimpse of both his soul and mine. Whatever games are being played here, he is master at them, and I will do well to remember that. (155)
"What is my fair assassin so afraid of? I wonder."
"I'm not afraid."
Duval tilts his head to the side. "No?" He studies me a long moment, then rises out of his chair. I hold my breath as he crosses to my bed. "Are you afraid I will draw closer, perhaps?" His voice is pitched low, little more than a purr. My breath catches in my throat, trapped by something I long to call fear but that doesn't feel like fear at all. (174)
His smile flashes, quick and surprising in the darkness. "When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice. I bid you good night." (218)

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. I'm Brave! by Kate & Jim McMullan

I'm Brave is Kate & Jim McMullan's fifth book about things that go. When I was a book seller, these were my "go to" books for toddlers into all things that go. The McMullan's happen to be among the rare creators of picture books featuring garbage trucks. Considering the fervor with which many toddlers adore garbage trucks, I am always surprised by how few picture books about them are on

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4. Blog Tour and Giveaway: Murphy, Gold Rush Dog by Alison Hart (Peachtree Press, 2014)

Recommended for ages 7-10.

Author Alison Hart specializes in writing historical fiction for young people, and her skills at this genre are evident in her newest book, Murphy, Gold Rush Dog, the second in a recent series, Dog Chronicles, which features heartwarming stories of heroic dogs from different historical periods.  

Set in 1900, this early chapter book is told in the first person by our canine hero, Murphy, a sled dog on the Alaskan frontier who's headed to Nome--and the Alaska gold rush--with his cruel master.  He manages to free himself and sets off wandering through the town dreaming of "a home filled with kind words--and maybe even bacon."  Could any dog want more than that?  Murphy has the good fortune to be taken in by a young girl named Sally and her mother, who've come from Seattle to make a new life on the frontier--not as gold miners, but with a typewriter, which Sally's mother plans to use to type letters and documents for the miners.

When the hardships of Alaska's frontier get too much for Sally's mother, she plans to book passage back to Seattle for the two of them.  But Sally is determined to find gold despite her mother's caution that almost no one winds up rich in the gold fields.  Sally decides--without her mother knowing, of course--to set off on her own to stake a claim and raise enough money that they can buy a cabin and stay over the winter in Nome.  She takes Murphy with her, but can Murphy keep Sally and himself safe, with threats from wolves, grizzly bears, and harsh storms in the Alaska wilderness?  As one would expect given the young audience this book is aimed at, there is a happy ending for all in store.  

The book is abundantly illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery, whose pencil sketches evoke the hardships of the Alaskan frontier.  Some examples of the artwork follow:





This book does an effective job portraying the realities of the gold rush in Alaska, particularly how the young reader sees that very few people actually got rich through finding large gold nuggets.  Hart peppers the text with plenty of evocative details of mosquitoes, saloons, dance halls, and n'er-do-wells of the frontier, as well as including some Native American characters who play a minor role in the narrative.  Back matter includes additional historical background about dogs in Alaska, the Nome gold rush, a brief bibliography, and suggestions for further reading.  I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical books such as the American Girl series or the Dear America books or to those who favor books about animals.  

For more on Murphy, Gold Rush Dog, check out these other blog tour stops:


If you would like to win a copy of this book, please leave a comment below with your e-mail address!

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5. Sky Jumpers: Forbidden Flats (2014)

The Forbidden Flats (Sky Jumpers #2) Peggy Eddleman. 2014. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

In the first book, Sky Jumpers, readers are introduced to Hope, Aaren, and Brock. Three kids who risked their lives to save their community of White Rock. Bandits had come, threatened everyone, threatened to steal the drugs that keep them safe from a deadly plague. Against all odds, these three manage it all. They take risks. They take chances. They face the elements. They cling to hope. They think of the people they love whom they are trying to save. It's an intriguing, dramatic read.

In the second, Hope, Brock, and Aaren will have to do it all over again. The world-saving. Not from bandits, mind you. An earthquake has occurred. This quake changes their community. It opens up a crevice, I believe, that releases gases into the air which interact with the Bomb's Breath. Life as they knew it is over. The Bomb's Breath is dropping lower and lower and lower day by day. Within a month, their community will lose its healthy pocket of air. But there is a tiny bit of hope. One of the adults knows of a mineral (or metal?) that can counteract and reverse everything. Their town can be saved if a) they send a team to a far-away community in the Rocky mountains b) if the team is able to travel to the town and back within the time period c) if the trade goes well in the first place. They send adults. They send kids. It's a good thing they send kids. Their guide is Luke. And for better or worse, Luke seems to dominate most of this book. Luke and Hope. The book is their journey to and from. Will they be able to save White Rock?

Did I love The Forbbiden Flats as much as I loved the first novel in the series? No. Not really. I wanted to. I did. But I was a bit disappointed in the sequel.

As the title suggests, this one takes place almost exclusively out of the community of White Rock. As this group travels together new communities and settings are introduced. We get a glimpse here. We get a glimpse there. Nothing deep or substantive. Mainly what the book is about is Hope's newfound interest in rocks. Do you enjoy reading about a person who becomes passionately interested in rocks? I wasn't. The main relationship focus of this book is between Hope, the heroine, and Luke, the guide they hire. Hope's relationships with Brock and Aaren are less important, I'd say. Hope has struggled with belonging in her own community, and, I suppose this book is suggesting that maybe Hope will one day choose differently, that she may find where she belongs someplace out there.

So I said I was disappointed. That doesn't mean I hated it. That doesn't mean I disliked it. It means I didn't love, love, love it the same way as the first book.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg

Categorical Universe of Candice PheeCandice Phee marches to the beat of her own drummer. Candice might tell you, though, that she doesn’t see any drummers around, and that she’s sitting still at the moment, thank you. Candice is very literal, and very sure of her world. She knows quite well that none of her schoolmates like her, but she likes everyone anyway. I’ve seen several reviews which assert (as does Candice’s friend Douglas Benson’s mother) that she must be autistic, or somewhere ‘on the spectrum.’ Candice’s response? “I’m me.”

Candice’s outlook may be generally positive, but this doesn’t mean her world is an easy one–her baby sister died of SIDS; her mother has had a double masectomy and is (understandably) suffering from depression; her father had a business blow-up with Rich Uncle Brian before Candice was born, and has been frustrated in his job ever since. More than anything else, Candice wants to fix her family. She knows it won’t be easy, but she has to try. And when Douglas Benson confides that he believes that he is from another dimension and needs to get back to his real family, Candice is skeptical, but can’t quite bring herself to NOT believe him.

Candice is one of the most endearing, engrossing characters that I’ve read about in a long time. From her hilarious interactions with her teachers (regular and substitute) to her philosophical worries about her pet fish (does the fish think of her as a deity? Is it ethical for her to allow the fish to think so?), to her heartfelt attempts to heal her family’s wounds, every moment in this lovely novel was affecting. The book comes to a satisfying conclusion, so there’s no reason for the author to write a sequel, but I wouldn’t be at all upset to spend more time with Candice.

Posted by: Sarah


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7. Come Write In: a Family Creative Writing Program

November is nearly upon us. That means fall leaves, wooly sweaters, gluttonous behavior on the fourth Thursday of the month, and, of course, National Novel Writing Month.

Inaugurated in 1999 by the intrepid Chris Baty and a group of friends, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has become an international movement to inspire average joes like you and me to get off our duffs and write that novel we’ve always dreamed of penning. One month. One novel. It’s as simple as that.

According to NaNoWriMo, 310,000 adults participated in the writing frenzy in 2013, and 89,500 youth participated in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. Personally, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, and the experience has been so deeply fulfilling I decided that I, as a children’s librarian, needed to get on this Young Writers thing.

What’s really grand about NaNoWriMo is that this non-profit organization provides you everything you need to make hosting a Young Writers program easy as pie. Just take a gander at these lesson plans and activities. If you’re a teacher, everything aligns to the Common Core. If you’re a public librarian, you can pick and choose a variety of activities to do with your young peeps.

I have some ridiculously talented people on board, too. I’m working with poet Hannah Jane Chambers, YA author Bethany Hagen, and YA writer Jennifer Mendez to make the magic happen.

At our library, Hannah Jane, Bethany, and I had an idea of creating a series of Come Write In events for the entire family which we hope we’ll be able to implement next year. Parents and kids could come to the library on Saturdays throughout the month of October to start planning their NaNoWriMo projects. On November 1, we could celebrate our hard work with a party / write-in where participants can get cracking on their novels. Jennifer Mendez will be hosting Intergenerational Come Write In events at her branch throughout the month of November replete with paper, pens, and plenty of outlets for the BYO-Laptop types.

What better way to get kids and teens engaged in literature than to have them write it themselves? And, hey, why not model that behavior? November is just a few days away. It’s not too late to sign up and write a novel of your very own.

****************************************************

Our guest blogger today is Megan Bannen. Megan is an Assistant Branch Manager for Johnson County Library in Kansas (although the children’s librarian in her will never die).

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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8. Teaching Writing in Middle School: Notes from the Saturday Reunion #TCRWP

By the time I arrived at Cornelius Minor’s TCRWP workshop, State-of-the-Art Workshop Teaching of Writing in Middle School, harnessing Methods Specifically Described in the New Units of Study, I had been up since… Continue reading

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9. The “Share” Time

Long ago, most teachers I knew had a ritual that they held near and dear to their hearts. At the end of every writing workshop, a child sat in the Author’s Chair and… Continue reading

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10. ‘Tis the Season for New Holiday Books

The end of summer means the beginning of searching for new holiday books to add to our collection. I usually order new Halloween and Thanksgiving books in September, and new Christmas and Hanukkah books in October (unless Hanukkah is unusually early, as it was last year). Any new general winter-themed books that are not about winter holidays are usually ordered in November or early December.

twas-nochebuena

(image taken from Roseanne Greenfield Thong’s website)

We have such a strong collection of excellent holiday books that any new book that I add to the collection is either something by a very popular author (Jan Brett) or offers something unique to the collection…characters of color, such as ‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Thong or Thanksgiving stories that go beyond describing a shared meal with family, such as The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing.

jeremy_dreidel

We have plenty of Hanukkah books that explain the various activities of that holiday in simple picture book format, so I am always keen to find Hanukkah books that go beyond “we light the candles and spin the dreidel” basics. One of my favorite Hanukkah related books remains Jeremy’s Dreidel by Ellie Gellman for its touching and positive portrayal of a young boy and his father, who is blind.  Books that focus upon the religious origins of Christmas and Hanukkah are also very popular in our community, so Lee Bennett Hopkins’s latest poetry collection, Manger, should enjoy lots of checkouts this season. National Geographic’s Celebrate Hanukkah (part of its Holidays Around the World) is a striking look at how the holiday is celebrated worldwide.

Do you have any new holiday favorites this year, or any titles that you are eagerly anticipating? What Halloween books have been popular with your patrons this year? Talk about it in the comments!

 

 

 

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11. Not So Horror(ible) YA Books




There are a lot of great horror, but I have a group of students who want to read the genre, but don't care to get scared.  And with that, the birth of this list began.  This is a collaborative list, and I am so thankful to the librarians who helped are out there. Some I've read, some I haven't, but with collective expertise, this could be a helpful list for humorous horror :)





DEVILS AND DEMONS:

Soul Enchilada by David Maccinis Gill

Prom Dates from Hell Rosemary Clement-Moore

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Croak by Gina Damico




 









MONSTERS:


Killer Pizza Greg Taylor

Cold Cereal trilogy by Adam Rex




ZOMBIES:

Warm Bodies Isaac Marion

 Eat Brains Love Jeff Hart

 Bad Taste in Boys Carrie Harris

The Infects Sean Beaudoin
Gil’s All Fright Diner by Martinez










WITCHERY AND MAGIC

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer Lish McBride

Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

A Bad Day for Voodoo by Jeff Strand









VAMPIRES:

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side Beth Fantasky

 Thirsty by MT Anderson

Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley

Fat Vampire by Adam Rex

Reform Vampire Support Group by Jinks













GHOSTS:

School Spirit by Rachel Hawkins

Intertwined by Gena Showalter

The Twelve-Fingered Boy by John Hornor Jacobs
















Other:

The Savages by Matt Whyman
















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12. Walking and Talking with . . . Jenni Holm!

This is our second “Walking and Talking” installment by the clearly multi-talented Steve Sheinkin.  This week?  Jenni Holm discusses how she works and gives some background on the blood, sweat and tears that went into The Fourteenth Goldfish.WalkingJenniHolm1 Walking and Talking with . . . Jenni Holm!

WalkingJenniHolm2 Walking and Talking with . . . Jenni Holm!

Be also sure to check out the first Walking and Talking with . . . John Corey Whaley.  Big thanks to Steven too for letting me post these!

share save 171 16 Walking and Talking with . . . Jenni Holm!

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13. Oral Mentor Texts + a Giveaway!

Assuming that children understand the elements of a story is assuming too much. These elements must be taught if they are meant to be used in the writing process.

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14.

Your hope for Little John & Gayle keep you turning the page. Nightingale's Nest by @Nikki_Loftin http://buff.ly/1pA6Ohb #WeReadDiverseBooks CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS - NIGHTINGALE'S NEST by Nikki Loftin

from Google+ RSS http://ift.tt/1tlJEBi

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15. Do you know about the MAE Award?

Many ALSC Members are also YALSA members. At the request of the Chair of the 2015 MAE Jury Award for Best Literature for Teens, here is information about an Award in which many of you might be interested.

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YALSA members who have run an exceptional reading or literature program in the 12 months leading up to Dec. 1, 2014 are eligible to apply for the 2015 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens, which recognizes an outstanding reading or literature program for young adults.

Do you run a spectacular teen book club that engages underserved audiences? Did your summer reading program or literature festival connect teens with literature in an innovative way? Is your Reader’s Advisory always three steps ahead of a trend? Have you connected teens to literature or helped them gain literacy skills via some other exciting means?  Whether the program was large or small, if it was good, you could win $500 for yourself and an additional $500 for your library by applying for this award!  Individual library branches may apply.

The MAE Award is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust. Applications and additional information about the award are available online.  Applications must be submitted online by Dec. 1, 2014. For questions about the award, please contact the jury chair, Tony Carmack (tcarmac@yahoo.com).  The winner will be announced the week of Feb. 9, 2015.

Not a member of YALSA yet? It’s not too late to join so you can be eligible for this award. You can do so by contacting YALSA’s Membership Marketing Specialist, Letitia Smith, at lsmith@ala.org or (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390. Recognize the great work you are doing to bring teens together with literature and apply today!

 

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16. Review: Gracefully Grayson

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: Grayson Sender is twelve years old.

Grayson is lonely, even surrounded by classmates, even at home, living with cousins, an aunt and uncle.

Grayson is lonely in part because of Grayson's parents death years ago, leading to Grayson being the odd child out at home.

Grayson is lonely because Grayson cannot connect with others because Grayson is hiding the most important part of who Grayson is.

In Gracefully Grayson, Grayson gradually gains trust and friends until Grayson can reveal the truth: that Grayson is a girl inside. Grayson is a transgender girl.

The Good: I'll be honest Grayson broke my heart, because of how lonely she is. Of how unable to connect with those around her.

At school, Grayson tries out for the play and takes her first step towards her true self by asking to play the part of a girl. One of the happy-tear moments I had was -- spoilers -- when the cast welcomed Grayson, became her friend, treated her like they'd treat anyone else.

Then there were the sad-tears of those who bullied Grayson, and of Grayson's aunt who believes that Grayson is in part causing the problems by not continuing to hide her truth.

And I cried at all the things Grayson did, in hiding. Doodling pictures of girls, but doing it in such a way that people wouldn't know. "If you draw a a triangle with a circle resting on the top point, nobody will be able to tell that it's a girl in a dress. To add hair, draw kind of a semicircle on top. If you do this, you'll be safe, because it looks like you're just doodling shapes."

Loving glitter pens and being prepared with lies to explain why she has the purple and pink ones.

Wearing a sweatband to pretend it's a hairband.

Pretending basketball pants and a t-shirt are somehow a gown, with the wide pants a full skirt.

And how important it is to Grayson, to anyone, to have their own truth by the truth others see. That it's harmful, the years and the lies of pretending to be something other than who she is.

At the end of Gracefully Grayson, someone tells Grayson that "I know it may feel like there are people who are against you, but I want you to remember that most people in the world are good. Look for the people who extend a hand to you. And when they do take it." This, in a nutshell, sums up the book. There are people against Grayson, for various reasons. But there are just as many good people in Grayson's world.

And the question left to the reader is this: is the reader one of the good ones? Does the reader extend a hand to those around them?

I'm making this one of my Favorite Books of 2014, because it is such a beautiful book and Grayson is such an endearing twelve year old.

Links: author interview at Diversity in YA; Bookfabulous Review; Robert Bittner Review at Gay YA;



Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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17. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, 272 pp, RL: YA

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer is just flat out brilliant, both for the subject matter and how the author chooses to tell the story.  And in this, Belzhar is ideally pitched to its audience, in tone and content. Even the cover image is perfect! Wolitzer is an award winning writer of books for adults, most recently The Interestings, as well as The Ten Year Nap, which I read and enjoyed immensely.

0 Comments on Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, 272 pp, RL: YA as of 10/24/2014 5:35:00 AM
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18. YALSA Wiki Write-In Day: Contribute Content

The YALSA Wiki is one of the many web resources available to members. While it’s a great passive source of information, one of the assets of a Wiki is that anyone can edit its pages. YALSA and the Website Advisory Board call upon you (yes, you!) to share your knowledge and add content to the YALSA Wiki on Wednesday, October 29, International Internet Day.

We have identified several Wiki pages that could use some success stories, anecdotes, or other member input. All you need to do is create a Wiki account and edit! Don’t worry about messing anything up. Revisions are tracked and committee members will be cleaning up formatting as needed.

The following pages could particularly use some content from YALSA members or others with appropriate knowledge:

If you’ve never edited a Wiki page before, we’ve put together some instructions to get you started.

How to add content to the Wiki:

  • Create an account and log in
  • Navigate to the page you want to edit and click on the Edit tab at the top of the page
  • Add your content — see Wiki formatting guidelines below
  • Use the “Show Preview” button to see your changes before you save
  • Click Save Page to save your changes
  • Enter the words from the Captcha and press Enter
  • Your content is now published!

Wiki formatting can look a bit tricky if you’re not used to it. Here are some of the basics that will help you add content:

  • To link to an external site, use single brackets, the website URL, and what you want the link to say:
    [URL Website Title] [http://www.ala.org/yalsa/getinvolved/participate YALSA website]
  • To link to another page on the Wiki, use double brackets and the full page title:
    [[Page Title]] [[Get Involved in YALSA]]
  • To create or add to a bulleted list, add a * at the beginning of each line:
    *Item 1
    *Item 2
  • To create or add to a numbered list, add a # at the beginning of each line:
    #Item 1
    #Item 2
  • To italicize, enclose the words in two apostrophes: ”italics”
  • To bold, enclose the words in three apostrophes: ”’bold”’

For more on formatting, see the MediaWiki article on formatting.

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19. Neighborhood Sharks

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands  by Katherine Roy David Macaulay Studio (Roaring Brook Press), 2014 Grades 2-5 The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her school library.  The shark section gets a lot of traffic in my elementary school library. Many young readers are fascinated by the creatures, so I was excited when I heard about

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20. Atlantia by Ally Condie Giveaway

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About the Book: Rio lives Below in Atlantia. Since the Divide, Below in Atlantia is the safest place to be. The intricate water system of tunnels and habitats makes a safe environment for the surviving humans. But Rio longs to go Above.

After the death of their mother, Rio promises her twin sister Bay she will stay Below and they can be together. But when Bay unexpectedly chooses to leave for Above, Rio is left to figure out just why Bay left. With a dangerous mentor in her aunt, Rio tries to uncover what happened to her mother and tries to formulate a plan to escape through the complex system of Atlantia to Above.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: It's hard to describe Atlantia. It's a little bit dystopian,  an underwater world setting, a story about sirens, and a little bit of mystery. It's a book that has a lot going on!

The main part of the story focuses on Rio, who is trying to find a way out of Atlantia and escape to Above where she longs to be. Things are unveiled slowly throughout about Rio's gift as a siren and as to how and why the Divide occurred and how Atlantia was formed. If you're a reader who wants all the information up front, you're going to have to be patient because things are uncovered bit by bit. Hints are dropped throughout and things mentioned and then layers are added to the story to slowly answer the questions Rio and the reader have.

Rio is a siren, as is her aunt and sirens are one of the miracles of Atlantia. I really liked the siren lore and aspects of the novel and it was unique without feeling like a paranormal. I think even readers who typically shy away from novels with magical creatures would find these sirens to be engaging and very human.

The plot is interesting and the story is engaging, but it does have a bit of a slower pace, which might surprise some readers, especially fans of Matched. The writing is rich and detailed though and Atlantia is an interesting world to uncover.

The great thing about Atlantia is that it's a stand alone novel-yay! Don't worry about having to commit to a series-it's all right here in one book.

Would you like to win a copy of Atlantia? One lucky reader will receive a signed copy thanks to Penguin Books for Young Readers! Leave a comment below to enter.

-One entry per person
-Contest ends 10/28
-US Address only Please
-Age 13+

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21. Angel Island; Gateway to Gold Mountain

by Russel Freedman. Chinese poems translated by Evans Chan. Clarion Books, 2014. (Library copy). This nonfiction text for young people covers the west coast immigration center Angel Island in San Fransisco Bay. Between 1910 and 1940 more than half a million people from 80 countries passed through this station. After being examined medically and interrogated, they often waited weeks or months in

0 Comments on Angel Island; Gateway to Gold Mountain as of 10/24/2014 11:41:00 AM
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22. Magic in the Mix (2014)

Magic in the Mix. Annie Barrows. 2014. Bloomsbury. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Magic in the Mix is the sequel to Magic Half. I enjoyed both Magic Half and Magic in the Mix. Both books star Miri, a middle child. In the first book, Magic Half, Miri travels back in time and "rescues" Molly, a girl living in 1935. Molly fits right in with Miri's family when the two return. In fact, Miri and Molly are the only two that remember Molly's true origin. To everyone else, Miri and Molly are twins. Molly has always been a part of their family. In the second book, Molly and Miri do more time traveling. First, they travel back in time to 1918. Molly recognizes her mother, Maudie, and her aunt, Flo. The two are teens. Flo sees Molly and Miri as unwelcome intruders--gypsies, she calls them. Maudie, on the other hand, while still thinking of them as gypsies, sees them as potential friends. Second, they travel back in time to the Civil War era. I'm not exactly sure the book names a year. If it does, I can't recall it. Here's where everything turns tricksy. Molly and Miri aren't the only ones doing time travel. (view spoiler)

I liked the book fine. However, there were several things that didn't charm me. I don't necessarily enjoy the family scenes. I don't know about the two youngest, but the oldest four children are irresponsible, disobedient, and disrespectful. All of the children are rude and insult one another. I didn't like some of the phrases they use. The children think absolutely nothing of lying and sneaking around. The dad. Has he had even a sentence or two in either book that could count as characterization? The mom. On the one hand, her children are always, always doing something they shouldn't be, and are very proud of the fact. But she seems to have only one tone: angry. The time travel also seemed even less realistic to me. I'm not sure how either girl managed to fool anyone in the Civil War era. (Rolling up your pants so they just see your T-shirt doesn't seem very a very authentic way of passing, even if you go the extra step and take off your glasses.)

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. Construction by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock are the creators of fantastic books about all the things that gigantic, hardworking vehicles specialize in. The illustrations provide all the details little listeners love and the texts are packed with onomatopoetic words that make these books fun to read and especially entertaining. Their newest book, CONSTRUCTION, begins, Dig the ground. Dig the ground.

0 Comments on Construction by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock as of 10/24/2014 5:34:00 AM
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24. App of the Week: 2048

2048
Title: 2048
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

2048 may be 2 to the eleventh power, but it’s also the name of a game I have noticed a lot of people playing lately. It’s based on a paid game, Threes!, which has won numerous game design awards, but the story behind 2048 involves a teen game developer, Gabriele Cirulli who tackled the design as a weekend project then released the game as open-source so that anyone can use the code behind it to build their own versions. You can play through a browser as well.

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This game really doesn’t support STEM — the applicability of math to success is minimal. Instead, you combine the same numbers to perform the additive operation. But the real challenge is in thinking ahead and positioning your number tiles. Moving one tiles moves ALL the tiles, and the number of moves available to you are finite.

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It’s easy to see how 2048 builds adopts the gaming strategies in Threes!. There are many, many knock-off versions of these games around, and much digital ink has been spilled from both amateur and professional quarters discussing strategies. There are ads in the free version, too. But for free, 2048 is an easy way to give these sorts of games a go. As Wired categorized them, these are games that are “Hard Enough to Be Played Forever.”

Have a suggestion for an App of the Week? Let us know. And check out more YALSA Apps of the Week in our archive.

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25. We Need Diverse Books Needs Us!


Well, maybe not "need" but how about we could all help?

We Need Diverse Books (the group, not simply the concept) has announced a new award - The Walter (named for Walter Dean Myers) - and is kicking off an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for it.

There are some gooooooood bonuses for funders... and a way to simply help spread the word by using the #SupportWNDB hashtag on Twitter (tomorrow during the hashtag party at 1 PM EST sure, but even beyond that!)

Here's all the We Need Diverse Books/Walter/Indiegogo information in one handy dandy place. 

Please check it out. Please support. Because we really do need diverse books.

0 Comments on We Need Diverse Books Needs Us! as of 10/23/2014 9:36:00 PM
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