Booklist: Read-a-Likes for Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

This piece originally appeared on the YALSA Hub blog in 2018.

You can also shop the list at Bookshop.

Are you ready to go big or go home with self-proclaimed fat girl, reluctant beauty queen, and all-around icon Willowdean Dixon of Dumplin’ fame? Have you read Julie Murphy’s delightful novel about Willowdean and its companions Puddin’ and Dear Sweetpea already? Have you seen the Netflix movie? Are eagerly waiting for Pumpkin? If the answer to any of those questions is “Yes!” then look no further for some read-a-likes to keep you busy while you wait for that next installment.

If You Want More Beauty Queens (Reluctant or Otherwise!):

  1. The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander: Austin is almost as tired of waiting for someone else to pull her into the annual Christmas parade as she is of being the butt of Dean Ottmer’s jokes and Austin has a surefire way to fix both her problems: become a hood ornament/Sweetheart in the No-Jesus Christmas Parade.
  2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: What happens when a plane filled with 50 beauty queens crashes in the middle of nowhere? Definitely not anything you’d expect as the remaining contestants turn their beauty-pageant honed skills to surviving on a hostile island and unearthing a massive conspiracy. Then the sexy pirates show up!
  3. Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg: Lexi has a Great personality with a capital “G” making her the witty girl everyone likes. The only problem is Lexi is tired of being that girl. Turns out a change in appearance can do a lot to improve a girl’s social status. But family problems and new friends (and crushes) force Lexi to ask some tough questions about herself and do some things that even a Great personality won’t make easy.
  4. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson: Prom season is always hectic in Campbell and competition is always fierce. Liz knows most people in Campbell don’t see her as prom queen material. The better question is if Liz is ready to step out of the ensemble and use her solo to convince them otherwise.

If You Want More Fat Positive Stories:

  1. To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin: Savannah is marking time until she graduates and starts college. It’s just another year before she’ll be in college like her sister, but that feels like an eternity as she tries to deal with her mom’s constant pressure to diet more and eat better not to mention figuring out the whole getting into college thing. Cute new guy George could be the perfect distraction. But only if both of them can learn how to focus on the now instead of worrying about what happens next.
  2. The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burgers in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding: Abby Ives is seventeen, gay, and totally obsessed with all things fashion–especially growing her plus-size style blog as a way to break into the fashion industry. Abby’s clear plans for her future get very complicated when she starts interning at a local boutique. Suddenly Abby is competing for a job with Jordi Perez–the girl she also starts dating–and traveling across LA helping lacrosse bro Jax find (and eat) the best burgers.
  3. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson: When her best friend and two other students die under mysterious circumstances, Mila Flores does the obvious thing: resurrect the girls to get their help to find the killer.

If You Want A Fun Ensemble Cast:

  1. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli: Turns out it’s way easier to keep the beat in drumming than it is in real life. Leah thought she had the hang of both but with high school almost over, Leah is struggling to stay on track with her friends–especially when she still hasn’t figured out the right way to tell all of them that she’s bisexual and one friend in particular that she’d like to be a lot more than friends. (This one also counts is a great fat-positive book but how can I not include Leah and friends in a section about an ensemble cast?)
  2. The Truth Commission by Susan Juby: After years of being fodder (along with her parents) for her sister Kiera’s best-selling graphic novel series, The Diana Chronicles, Normandy Pale is ready to come into her own. She’d like to be known for her own strengths and accomplishments instead of constantly being compared to her hapless counterpart in the Chronicles. But it turns out it’s hard to stop being a muse. Especially when you never asked to be one.
  3. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert: Suzette and her brother Lionel have been “Little” and “Lion” for years. Technically they’re step-siblings and their family gets a lot of strange looks sometimes since they’re all Jewish but Suzette and her mom are black while Lionel and his father are white. They’ve never let that change how close they are. That was before Lionel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Suzette was sent across the country to an East coast boarding school while he got treatment. Now it’s summer and Suzette is home in Los Angeles where she expects everything to be familiar and easy. Instead, Suzette soon realizes that it’s going to be harder to go back to being Little and Lion than she thought.

If You Want A Sweet Romance:

  1. The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo: Clara Shin is good at two things: getting into trouble and making people laugh. When her latest joke goes too far ending in a fight and a fire, even Clara’s usually laid-back father Adrian knows that things have gone too far. Clara’s plans for a laid-back summer and a vacation with her Instagram-famous influencer mom are cancelled. Instead Clara gets to look forward to working on her dad’s food truck, the KoBra, to pay back the school for fire damage. Worse, she’ll be working with her nemesis Rose.
  2. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills: Claudia is certain that working with Iris on the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for extra credit is going to be torture. But somewhere between bombing her audition and shopping for materials to help with costume production, something funny happens. Suddenly instead of sticking to what she knows and keeping her head down, Claudia’s world is starting to get bigger. Soon Claudia realizes that appearances can be deceiving as she discovers a boy band obsession, the ineffable Gideon Pruitt, and perhaps most surprisingly of all an unexpected friendship with the last person she expects
  3. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: Amanda Hardy is new to Lambertville, Tennessee and nervous about starting at a new school for her senior year. She isn’t sure what to expect when she moves in with her father who she hasn’t seen in a few years. She isn’t sure if this town will be any kinder to her than the hometown she had to leave. Grant Everett sorely tests Amanda’s resolve. He is funny, kind, and no one Amanda ever thought she could be with. Getting closer to Grant makes Amanda feel safe and known. So much so that she wonders if it might be time to let Grant see all of her–including the secrets from her past.

If You Want More Feminist Heroines:

  1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: Xiomara Batista finds her voice and a way to finally be seen when she discovers her high school’s slam poetry
  2. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: Viv doesn’t know what to expect when she distributes the first issue of her zine, Moxie, in secret to her classmates. In the pages of her zine she calls out sexist jokes, harassment, and unfair dress codes and asks girls at the school to join her in protests that quickly gain momentum and help the Moxie movement take on a life of its own. As the stakes rise for what the zine and the Moxie girls are fighting for, Vivian has to decide how far she’s willing to go for what she believes.
  3. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero: In the midst of a difficult year Gabi finds solace in an unlikely place. Gabi always knew she liked writing and poetry. She just didn’t realize discovering the poetry within herself (and around her) would have the power to change everything.

Let’s Talk About the 2018 Printz Award

So how about those Youth Media Awards? (I previously talked about my library’s mock printz for this year and shared some predictions in this older post.)

Every year the American Library Association’s (ALA) division called YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) (among others) has committees of dedicated librarians choosing the best of the best books in various categories for things called the Youth Media Awards. In YA literature, the biggest award is the Printz for outstanding overall books. Other awards include the Morris which is for best debut.

Speculation on what will and will not make the Printz cut is a hot topic in library circles and heavily debated since the official criteria leaves a lot up to interpretation. I spend a lot of time trying to guess contenders both for myself and for my job where I chair a committee that chooses shortlist titles for a systemwide Mock Printz.

This year I came up with this short list. The first six titles were on my library’s Mock Printz shortlist and the final four were ones that I hoped would win something.

  1. Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  4. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  6. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  7. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  8. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  9. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  10. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

So how did my predictions stack up? Pretty well. While I still with I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Jane Unlimited, and American Street had gotten more attention I’m happy to say my committee’s shortlist was pretty on point. I’m not going to detail all of the awards here (you can find the full roster of winners and honors in ALA’s press release) I will say my committee covered about 80% of the winning titles between booktalks and our Mock Printz program.

Here are the wins for the books I mentioned here:

  1. Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Printz honor, Newbery honor, Coretta Scott King honor)
  4. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (Stonewall winner, Nonfiction award finalist)
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Printz honor, Coretta Scott King honor, Morris Award winner)
  6. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  7. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore (Best Fiction for Young Adults booklist selection)
  8. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  9. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman (Printz honor, nonfiction award winner)
  10. American Street by Ibi Zoboi (Best Fiction for Young Adults booklist selection)

Have you read any of these or are they on your radar? Do you follow the youth media awards every year?

 

Let’s Talk About the Printz Award, my library’s Mock Printz, and how you can join in

Every year the American Library Association’s (ALA) division called YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has committees of dedicated librarians choosing the best of the best books in various categories for things called the Youth Media Awards. In YA literature, the biggest award is the Printz for outstanding overall books. Other awards include the Morris which is for best debut.

Speculation on what will and will not make the Printz cut is a hot topic in library circles and heavily debated since the official criteria leaves a lot up to interpretation. I spend a lot of time trying to guess contenders both for myself and for my job where I chair a committee that chooses shortlist titles for a systemwide Mock Printz.

This year, I thought it would be fun to get blog readers involved and try to do a Miss Print Mock Printz.

As a starting point here is the shortlist my committee came up with:

  • Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Spinning by Tillie Walden

Because of time constraints (we do the Mock Printz as a live two hour discussion) we only cover five or six books at most. This list is determined based on titles the committee enjoyed, books getting buzz and critical acclaim (starred reviews from publishers and the like), and general appeal. We also try to cover a variety of genres which is something the real Printz doesn’t have to do. Now, a few of my favorites of the year did not make the cut with our shortlist so to the above contenders I would add:

  • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi

There could be other books I’ve read that are just as likely as contenders which I’m forgetting. There could be titles I’ve never read or even heard of that will get attention from the committee. It’s hard to say and they read much more widely than I would.

That said, I feel good about this list and comfortable predicting that at least some of them will be Printz contenders.

This year I’m feeling pretty on point with my pre-awards reading. I have read 4 of the 5 Morris finalists (still need to get to Devils Within from the titles there) and 2 of the 5 nonfiction award finalists (The 57 Bus and Vincent and Theo). These are the only two awards that give a shortlist before the award announcements at ALA’s midwinter conference. Knowing and having read so many of the titles in play this year I’m very excited to see how the awards shake out this year.

I’m going to post an update for this post after my library system has their Mock Printz with our winners and then I’ll do another follow up after the actual awards are announced.

Until then:

Have you read of the Youth Media Awards? Do you follow them? What books would you predict for the Printz award?

If you want to try to read some of the shortlist (including my four extra picks) you still have plenty of time to track them down at your library and I’d love to hear thoughts as you read them!

  1. Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  4. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  6. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  7. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  8. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  9. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  10. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

High School Booktalks (I Am Princess X, The Scorpion Rules, The Game of Love and Death)

These are three booktalks I recently put together. They’re very similar to my review content but I thought I’d post them all here for reference anyway since I did shorten everything.

As always I pulled my booktalks from my reviews but this time I shortened them. It was an interesting exercise in seeing how much you can distill a plot summary (the answer is a lot!).

Feel free to use these to present to readers but PLEASE if you are posting them anywhere be sure to credit me and link back to this blog.

Here they are!

I am Princess X by Cherie PriestI Am Princess X by Cherie Priest: May and Libby created Princess X on the day they met in fifth grade. Libby drew Princess X while May wrote the stories. Together they made sure that Princess X became an indelible part of their childhood. That was before Libby and her mother died in a car crash. Now May is sixteen and looking at another long, lonely summer in Seattle. That is until she spots a Princess X sticker on the corner of a store window which leads her to IAmPrincessX.com where May finds a webcomic. In the comic, the princess’ story is eerily similar to Libby’s. And filled with clues only May recognizes. Which means that the only person who could have created the comic is May’s best friend–Libby–who is still alive and needs May’s help in I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest with illustrations by Kali Ciesemier.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin BowThe Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: Charged with saving humanity from itself, the powerful artificial intelligence Talis swiftly establishes a series of rules and initiatives to maintain peace. Oh, and he also takes over the world. Four hundred years later, Talis’s every word is recorded in the Utterances and some cultures believe he is a god. They might be right. Talis takes hostages to make clear the exact cost of any declaration of war. The Children of Peace are the heirs to thrones and ruling positions around the world. They are hostages living under the constant threat of execution. If war is declared the lives of both nation’s hostages are forfeit. Greta Gustafson Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a seventh generation hostage. She knows to follow the rules even with her country on the brink of war. Elián Palnik is a new hostage who refuses to accept any of the tenets of the Children of Peace, forcing Greta to question everything she believes and all of the rules as she struggles to save Elián and herself in The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow.

The Game of Love and Death by Martha BrockenbroughThe Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough: Over lifetimes Love and Death have carefully chosen their players, rolled the dice, and waited for any opportunity to influence the Game in their favor. Death has always won. Always. But Love has faith in his latest player Henry Bishop. A white boy adopted by a wealthy family, Henry’s life is easy even in the midst of the Depression that still grips the United States in 1937. His bright future is assured thanks to his adoptive family. All he has to do is claim it. Even without the stakes of the Game and her role as Death’s player, Flora Saudade is an unlikely match for Henry. An African-American girl born just a few blocks from Henry, Flora supports herself as singer in Seattle’s nightclubs while she dreams of following in the footsteps of pilots like Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman. The odds, and the Game itself, are stacked against Henry and Flora. But with true love and free will at play maybe, just this once, anything will be possible in The Game of Love and Death (2015) by Martha Brockenbrough.

Fall into Your Next Book Display

Since September is finally here, it was time for a new book display at the library.

While I enjoyed my Summer Reading display and the RA fortune tellers seemed to be a hit, I also knew I didn’t want to be tied to a specific set of books for this display.

Since I wanted to do a back to school or fall themed display, I decided to go punny with “Fall into Your Next Book” which is versatile enough that I could stock the display with whatever titles are on hand. I also can trot this display out again next year and just change out some of the titles I highlight.

Working on my trusty sheet of foam core with help from PicMonkey I made five images for the display.

IMG_0241So as you can see I have nice autumn tree clip art with “Fall into Your Next Book.”

For the books to highlight I chose some titles I like that have fun connections to fall/back to school.

Here are the titles along with the quotes:

  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: “You think it’s so easy to change yourself. You think it’s so easy, but it’s not. True, things don’t stay the same forever: couches are replaced, boys leave, you discover a song, your body becomes forever scarred. And with each of these moments you change and change again, your true self spinning, shifting positions–but always at last it returns to you, like a dancer on the floor.”
  • Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero: “Living a lie is painful, and doesn’t do anyone any good. I had to be true to myself, because, either way, God would know if I was lying.”
  • Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber: “She was completely soaked in blood. Her hair swung in red tangles around her shoulders, and her face was a gleaming mask, her eyes like hard diamonds.”
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: “It’s the surf on your face, the deadly magic of November on your skin.”

Here’s the display stocked with books:

IMG_0238

Summer Reading Display with Reader’s Advisory Fortune Tellers

In the midst of summer reading madness at the library, I finally had a chance to make a new display (now that Ingrid’s epic glittery GLBT display is ready to come down). Summer is crazy at my library (and every public library) so I knew I wanted something that would be simple to stock and require minimal upkeep.

For me this summer, that meant a summer reading display because it allows me to pull titles from our summer reading section (a list I helped make so I like all of the titles already!) and also anything else that looks cool on the shelves.

I decided to skip the trivia/giveaway portion I’d been adding to my displays because it’s just too busy to expect staff to run around getting free books while doing all of their other work. But I still wanted to do something fun.

Several months ago I read an article from Molly Wetta (she blogs at Wrapped Up in Books and maybe you recognize her from when she contributed to Poetically Speaking 2015?) called “If Books are Magic, Librarians are Wizards: Readers’ Advisory as Fortune Telling.” The article has a lot of great ideas, but what really spoke to me was the idea of passive reader’s advisory with paper fortune tellers (or maybe you know them as cootie catchers?).

This is a picture of the fortune teller Molly talks about in her article.

I decided to adapt that idea for my Summer Reading Display. I wanted something that could be easily reproduced so I started by finding a printable template. And, believe it or not, there’s a site for that.

DownloadableCootieCatchers has a blank template you can download and edit. They also share a lot of fun user-created fortune tellers. In retrospect I could have edited mine a bit more to make it a little cooler but I decided to keep it basic.

Pick a color . . .

Pick a color . . .

Now pick a number . . .

Now pick a number . . .

Until you get your answer!

Until you get your answer!

I included a blend of titles from my system’s summer reading list (like All Our Yesterdays). And some reader’s choice options (in addition to Graphic Novels I also included fantasy, mystery or adventure).

Here’s the full display:

The image is from my library's summer reading art. I adapted it using PicMonkey.

The image is from my library’s summer reading art. I adapted it using PicMonkey.

And here’s a close up of the sign:

I added all of the text here except for "Summer Reading 2015" which is part of the original graphic.

I added all of the text here except for “Summer Reading 2015” which is part of the original graphic.

I made two versions of my sign. One with the text above and one that just reads “What will you read this summer?” That way, if the fortune tellers become more trouble than they are worth (or just aren’t a hit) I can still keep the display without it being inaccurate. I added the white text suggesting people pick a display book just in case someone is drawn to the display when the fortune tellers are not fully stocked.

Like my Blind Date with a Book Display I really like this idea and I’m hoping I’ll be able to use the fortune teller aspect again in future displays.

What do you think? Would you be into an RA fortune teller? If you work in or use a library, have you seen/tried passive RA ideas before?

High School Booktalks (Open Road Summer, The Screaming Staircase, All Our Yesterdays)

Now that Summer Reading is approaching it’s time to start thinking about booktalks for outreach and class visits. I’m on the YA Steering Committee at my place of employ which means that I present booktalks at every Fall and Spring new books presentation.

This spring we highlighted books from the summer reading list for our library system (which I helped pick and am in love with. You can find the full list online. I helped pick the middle school and high school titles.) and went with a shorter format to talk about more books.

As always I pulled my booktalks from my reviews but this time I shortened them. It was an interesting exercise in seeing how much you can distill a plot summary (the answer is a lot!).

Feel free to use these to present to readers but PLEASE if you are posting them anywhere be sure to credit me and link back to this blog.

So here are the three books I presented:

Open Road Summer by Emery LordOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord: Reagan wants to leave her bad-news ex and her bad girl reputation behind. She just isn’t sure how to do that. Country music star Lilah Montgomery is embarking on her first major solo your–with best friend Reagan in tow. Their plans for a girls’ only summer are quickly derailed when Matt Finch joins the tour as Lilah’s opener. Between his clean-cut good lucks and enough snark to match Reagan barb for barb, Reagan knows her plans for a drama free (and boy free) summer are in big trouble. Over the course of one unforgettable summer Reagan will learn that best friends are forever, mistakes can be left behind, and sometimes love is worth the risk.

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan StroudThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Lockwood & Co. Book 1): Unlike most psychic investigation agencies, Lockwood & Co. does not employ adult supervisors who can’t see ghosts anymore. Instead the agency is run jointly by its young operatives who can see ghosts: Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins, and–often much to her own surprise–Lucy Carlyle. When their latest case ends with a burn down house and threats of legal action (despite the ghost being effectively removed), Lockwood & Co. is faced with the imminent failure of the agency. The trio has one option to keep the agency open: accept a case clearing the most haunted house in London of its malevolent spirits. Lockwood says the case should be easy, he says that a lot. But matters involving ghosts–and murder–are rarely simple matters as Lockwood & Co. is about to find out.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin TerrillAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill: Em has tried everything she can thing of to prevent the completion of a time machine that will break the world. All of her attempts have failed, leaving Em with one last, terrible option: She has to kill the man who will build it. Marina has loved her science prodigy neighbor James since forever. More than she loves herself sometimes. After one disastrous night everything Marina thought she knew about James (and even herself) will be thrown into question as she scrambles to protect James at any cost. Em and Marina are on opposite sides in a race to protect time. Only one of them can come out alive.

 

 

High School Booktalks (The Brokenhearted, Proxy, The Scorpio Races, Unspoken)

With Summer Reading, it is time for outreach and booktalks. Here’s another set of booktalks I gave in a high school outreach.

As always I pulled my booktalks from my reviews but I have also been trying to shorten them.

Feel free to use these to present to readers but PLEASE if you are posting them anywhere be sure to credit me and link back to this blog.

So here are the three books I presented:

The Brokenhearted by Amelia KahaneyThe Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney: Anthem Fleet lives in a city a lot like Batman’s Gotham. Everything thinks Anthem is lucky and has everything going for her. Everyone is wrong. When Anthem meets a boy from the bad part of town, it feels like her real life is finally starting. Then everything goes wrong. Then she dies. When Anthem wakes up she has a bionic heart that beats faster and makes her stronger and faster than should be humanly possible. Anthem’s old life is over. She is broken. But maybe her new heart will give Anthem what she needs to find a new life and help Bedlam the way no one else can.

Proxy by Alex LondonProxy by Alex London: The only thing that keeps Syd going is that his time as a proxy is almost over. No more punishments for crimes committed by his patron. No more being seen as less than everything by the system. Two more years and Syd will finally be free. Knox lives in the moment focusing on opportunities to create mayhem and catch a cheap thrill. Sometimes Knox gets caught. But then his proxy gets punished so really, who cares? Drawn together in the wake of a terrible wrong in a world where debts can be lethal, these unlikely allies will have to work together to try and tear down the system if they want to survive.

nthem Fleet lives in a city a lot like Batman’s Gotham. Everything thinks Anthem is lucky and has everything going for her. Everyone is wrong. When Anthem meets a boy from the bad part of town, it feels like her real life is finally starting. Then everything goes wrong. Then she dies. When Anthem wakes up she has a bionic heart that beats faster and makes her stronger and faster than should be humanly possible. Anthem’s old life is over. She is broken. But maybe her new heart will give Anthem what she needs to find a new life and help Bedlam the way no one else can.

Unspoken coverUnspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: Kami Glass knows that every town has a story. Sorry-in-the-Vale is no exception. Kami knows that her town’s past is tied to the Lynburns, the town’s founders, even if their manor house has been empty for years. But no one in town seems willing to tell that story to an intrepid girl reporter. But a lot of people don’t like talking to Kami. That’s what happens when your best friend seems to be an imaginary boy you talk to in your head. When the Lynburns return to town they bring many questions in their wake as well as something more sinister that will force Kami to question everything she thought she knew about her town, her friends, and even herself.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Thisby is never safe. Not when dangerous water horses are drawn to the island beaches. But it is never so dangers as on November first–race day. The racers keep their own counsel as to why they enter the race. All Sean Kendrick wants is Corr–the one water horse he can never have. Until this year–this race–at least. Puck Connolly has already lost much to the water horses of Thisby. But the race might be her only way to hold onto her brother before the mainland spirits him away forever, even if it means challenging Thisby’s most basic traditions as the first girl to ride on race day. Only one rider can win on race day–if they stay alive long enough to finish–and the stakes for Sean and Puck couldn’t be higher.

How to: Reader’s Advisory

(This post has been adapted from a handout I made for a presentation on Reader’s Advisory that I gave with a fellow YA Librarian at my place of employ on October 22, 2014 at a YA Specialist’s meeting. While you are welcome to reference and use the ideas and resources listed here, please do not quote or otherwise use this text without credit/linking back to this blog. I have also made this post into a page for easy locating.)

howtoRA

What is Reader’s Advisory?

  • Reader’s Advisory is the “art” of Library Science where librarians talk with patrons to determine the best reading recommendations possible—like a reference interview where there is no specific question or right answer.

Before You Start: Things to Consider

  • Know Your Collection: What books are generally in stock at your branch? What is always checked out? What books can you recall without being near the teen space? Which ones require shelf browsing?
    Remember: You don’t need to know the entire collection for effective RA interactions.
  • Know Your Strengths: What genres do you read or have wide experience with? Which authors can you talk about confidently? Is there one section in particular from which you often recommend?
    Remember: You don’t have to read every book to recommend it but it is a good idea to have a few in your wheelhouse outside of your default reading choices.
  • Know What Else is Out There: Where can you go to find other books outside of your chosen reading areas? Who can you trust for read-alike suggestions?
    Remember: You don’t have to know everything. You just need to know how to find it. The Resources section on the back of this handout offers several ideas about where to look for information.
  • Know Your Space: Where do teens congregate in your library? What books have strong browsing appeal? Set up displays and fliers in high traffic/visibility areas where teens can find them. Keep displays fresh and interesting by changing them regularly.
    Remember: Not everyone wants to talk to a librarian when they come into the library. Displays or fliers are a great way to suggest titles without requiring one-on-one interaction.

Reader’s Advisory in Six Easy Questions

It is very rare for teen patrons to talk about books in terms of genre preferences or literary terms. Instead, it is sometimes easier to try and set up RA conversations in terms of binaries as posed in these easy questions.

  1. How do you feel about books set in a realistic setting or with plots that could happen in real life?
  2. How do you feel about fantasy books? Is a little fantasy okay?
  3. Do you like books with a romantic aspect?
  4. How do you feel about books with historical settings?
  5. How do you feel about mysteries?
  6. Have you read X books?—Couch this in terms of what’s popular now whether it’s If I Stay, Divergent or something else. (Asking in terms of The Hunger Games or Divergent is especially helpful to gauge the level of gore or violence that younger teens are comfortable with.)

Reader’s Advisory Resources

  • The Age of YA: A Timeline of Historical Fiction: http://www.epicreads.com/blog/the-age-of-ya-a-timeline-of-historical-fiction This site is a great list (in infographic timeline form of historical fiction by decade and period.
  • Blogs: Provided you can find bloggers you trust who are consistent in posting, blogs can be a great resource to stay on top of new and current titles. School Library Journal’s blogs are a great combination of professional library evaluation and conversational analysis. (Of course, I’m a fan of my own blog but the key here is really finding bloggers you can understand and trust whether that means you know that you generally agree with their tastes or even if it means that you disagree.)
  • Cozy Mysteries List: http://www.cozy-mystery.com/Cozy-Mysteries-by-Themes.html If you are looking for cozy mysteries, this site has them parsed out by author, theme and even new releases.
  • Cybils: http://www.cybils.com The Cybils Awards recognize children’s and YA authors/illustrators whose books combine literary merit and popular appeal. The award has two rounds which offers a shortlist and then an actual winner in a variety of categories for all ages (and even for book apps). This award is also judged and organized by bloggers so if you want to find some quality blogs, the participants here are always a good start!
  • Disability in Kid Lit: https://disabilityinkidlit.wordpress.com “Thoughtful portrayals of disability require more than memorizing a list of symptoms; we hope that sharing people’s day-to-day experiences, pet peeves, and thoughts on various disability-related topics will help readers and writers learn about the realities of disability, which are often quite different from what you read in books or see on TV.”
  • Diversity in YA: http://diversityinya.tumblr.com Created by authors Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon, this site posts guest posts from authors about their books and writing process to “celebrate young adult books about all kinds of diversity, from race to sexual orientation to gender identity and disability”.
  • Edgar Awards: http://www.theedgars.com/nominees.html The Edgar Awards are given to the best mysteries in a variety of categories including Children’s, Young Adult, Best First Novel and more. In addition to a winner, the Edgars also include a shortlist of nominees. It’s a great way to stay on top of what’s new and worth notice in the mystery world.
  • Fantastic Fiction: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk This site is a great one-stop shop to check out all of the books an author has written (including new titles) as well as seeing which series they have written and their order.
  • Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ This is another great way to find read-alikes and know if a book is worth recommending before you read it (especially if you add a lot of other librarians as your friends!).
  • KDL’s What’s Next Database: http://ww2.kdl.org/libcat/whatsnext.asp A one-stop shop to find series order for a variety of titles.
  • Lost Titles, Forgotten Rhymes: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/lost/novels.html This site offers some helpful information on how to go about tracking down a novel (or other written works) when you do not know the title or author.
  • Nebula Awards: http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards The Nebulas are an award given for science fiction and fantasy and are a great way to keep up with what is new and noteworthy for speculative fiction in a variety of categories including Young Adult and Best Short Story among others.
  • Review Resources: Review journals like Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly or School Library Journal give detailed book summaries as well as a rundown of what does and doesn’t work in a title. If you don’t subscribe to all of those or want to look at every site, another trick is to search for a book on BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com and then check out the editorial reviews section where all of the reviews will be compiled in one handy spot for each book.
  • Sci-Fi Vs. Fantasy Flow Chart: http://static02.mediaite.com/themarysue/uploads//2011/09/Optimized-SFSignalNPR100Flowchart-1-1.jpg This chart was made by Sci-fi Signal to navigate NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books and serves as a great primer for the different sub-genres found in both sci-fi and fantasy.
  • We Need Diverse Books: http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/ This site is the official home of the We Need Diverse Books movement that started as a hashtag. A great place to look for titles that are both diverse and often lesser-known.
  • What’s That Book?: http://www.whatsthatbook.com/ An online community where members help each other find forgotten book titles.
  • Which Book: http://www.openingthebook.com/whichbook/ This search site offers sliders that allows you to find books based on content (happy or sad? Beautiful or disgusting?) as well as options to search based on setting (including imaginary) as well as on character attributes (race, age, sexuality, gender).
  • YALSA Book Lists: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/bookawards/booklists/members If you are looking for a book in a specific category or demographic, chances are the Young Adult Library Services Association has either an award list or annual book list that can help ranging from the Alex Award for adult books with teen appeal to Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults which offers thematic lists each year.

Is there a resource you use that is not listed here? Let me know in the comments!

What to read after or instead of: The Fault in Our Stars

Even if you have never read a YA book in your life, you have probably heard about The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (TFIOS for short). Whether you have seen the movie, are number 594 in the hold queue, or just want more tear-jerking reads, these books should have you covered (spoiler: bring some tisssues!):

If you want more books about sick characters who transcend their illness (and maybe some tears):

TFIOSillness

  • Zac & Mia by A. J. Betts: Zac and Mia meet at the hospital. They would never be friends friends in the real world. But different rules apply in hospital.
  • Before I Die by Jenny Downham: Tessa knows she is dying. Instead of waiting to disappear without a trace, Tessa decides to complete her “before I die” list in the precious weeks she has left.
  • Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb: After her mother’s sudden death, Mia isn’t sure how to go on. Or even if she wants to.
  • Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon: Richard and Sylvie are the youngest people in the hospice. While everyone else tries to define them by their sickness or their treatments, Richard and Sylvie want to use the time they have left to live on their own terms.
  • Catch & Release by Blythe Woolston: Polly and Odd barely knew each other before they became the only survivors of a MRSA outbreak in their town. Dealing with the aftermath of the outbreak and the mental and physical scars they now carry, both Polly and Odd have to figure out who they are now that they’re supposedly recovered.

If you want to cry but in an achingly beautiful sort of way:

TFIOScrying

  • The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson: A ghost is tethered to the house on Water Street. She can see the danger circling. But even the ghost isn’t sure why she is still here watching the season unfold to its final, disastrous conclusion
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: Hannah Baker killed herself a few weeks ago. Clay Jensen has no idea why until he receives a package of tapes in the mail detailing the thirteen reasons that led to Hannah’s suicide.
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: A wealthy, respected family. Summers on a private island. Four friends, the Liars, who have the world at their fingertips. Until one accident–one mystery–changes all that and nothing can ever be the same
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews: Greg is a master at blending in with his best friend Earl until his parents force him to rekindle his childhood friendship with neighbor Rachel who is dying of leukemia. When Rachel stops treatment, the obvious thing to do is make a film for her.
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: A plane has crashed in Nazi-occupied France. The passenger and the pilot are best friends. One girl might be able to save herself while the other never stood a chance.

If you want a book that’s all about grieving:

TFIOSgrieving

  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman: Before the accident Mia had a lot of decisions to make about her future. Should she follow her first love–music–to Juilliard in New York? Should she stay on the West Coast to be with her boyfriend? But after the accident, Mia only has one choice. Should she stay?
  • Falling Through Darkness by Carolyn MacCullough: There was a crash. Something everyone else is calling an accident. Aidan is gone. But Ginny is left behind to piece together the shattered moments of her life with, and now without, him.
  • A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell: Cora’s life fell apart with a sudden crash. The Bradley family had been falling apart for some time, but when Cora’s older brother Nate dies in a car crash, everything is irreparably and irrevocably broken.
  • The Edge of Falling by Rebecca A. Serle: Caggie should have everything she could want growing up as part of New York City society. She had everything until she lost the most important thing. Nothing seems to matter quite so much now that her younger sister is dead. Drowned.
  • In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters: In 1918 the world is falling apart as the Spanish influenza runs rampant and the government sends young men to war. Mary Shelley Black watches others flock to seances and spirit photographers for comfort. Then her own boyfriend, dead in battle, appears to her as a spirit.

If you want a book with transformative friendships:

TFIOStransformativefriendships

  • And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard: Vacillating between guilt and anger, Emily Beam is sent to an all girls boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts in the aftermath of her boyfriend’s death. Surrounded by history from Emily Dickinson’s life, Emily delves into poetry and her new life hoping to escape.
  • The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban: When Tim finishes school he leaves behind a stack of CDs for Duncah. The CDs chronicle his own downfall and explain Duncan’s actual or perceived role in the final moments. Tim hopes Duncan can appreciate the rarity of this treasure and its ultimate value not just as an explanation but as the substance of Duncan’s own tragedy paper.
  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: Taylor Markham is used to having no one. But when the only person she can trust disappears Taylor discovers there is more to her own past, and the relationships she has with the other students at her school, as she becomes enmeshed in the annual territory wars between her school, the townies and a neighboring academy.
  • Fracture by Megan Miranda: Delaney was pulled out of the water by her best friend Decker after eleven minutes. That’s long enough to die. Long enough to change everything.
  • The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider: During a year spent redefining himself in the wake of his own tragedy, Ezra has to decide what it means when some people can’t–or won’t–move past their personal tragedy .

If you want another story about a character falling in love with a grenade:

TFIOSgrenade

  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson: Hayley and her father Andy have been on the road for the past five years. Sometimes riding in Andy’s rig. Sometimes laying low while Andy tries to hold down a job and Hayley does her version of homeschooling. But then everything stopped and Hayley has been moved back into a life she doesn’t want in a childhood home she refuses to remember.
  • Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper: You can beat a Roe Witch within an inch of her life, you can sicken her with strange magic and scar her, but you cannot kill a Roe Witch. If Avery Roe can unlock her magic in time with the help of a mysterious harpoon boy named Tane, she might be able to change her fate before she is murdered.
  • The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga: Fanboy knows exactly what he wants and he has a plan: a secret scheme that will get him out of his lame little town and prove his worth to everyone once and for all. When the mysterious and angry Goth Girl bursts into his life, he might even have an accomplice.
  • Damaged by Amy Reed: Kinsey Cole knows people can only bear so much bad fortune. That’s why everyone knows Kinsey’s best friend Camille died in a car accident when Kinsey was driving. It’s also why Kinsey hasn’t cried since the accident and is trying to avoid Camille’s boyfriend, Hunter, all while quietly falling apart.
  • Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: Every town in England has a story and Kami Glass thinks she knows hers. All of that changes when the Lynburns come back to Sorry-in-the-Vale. Their return brings many questions, as well as something more sinister, forcing Kami to question everything she thought she knew about her town, her friends, and even herself.