Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Approximately 70,000 young people are in juvenile detention or correctional facilities each night."

As a part of the In the Margins committee, I knew that I would be reading books that were out of my comfort zone. My most recent read Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross is certainly one of those books. I work in an urban school and many of my students have been in the juvenile justice system at one point or another. My husband has also worked at three different juvenile detention facilities. I am not a stranger to teens who have been in custody. However, to read the facts and statistics about youth incarceration in this country and them put them together with the childrens' stories is a much different matter entirely.

Juvenile in Justice is a project Richard Ross embarked on, in his words, ". . . to give a voice to those with the least amount of authority in any U.S. confinement system." He went into juvenile detention centers and correctional facilities across the country and talked to and photographed the kids who were confined within. Each page is a picture of a child along with a quote about his or her circumstances. The stark design gives even more power to the words of these youth.

This book is unique in that the stories, photographs, and statistics are combined. Most people have no idea of the reality of the juvenile justice system in our country, but Richard Ross provides a glimpse into a world that everyone who cares about the future of the children of the United States should examine.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A New Adventure

I work as a librarian in an urban district. It's no secret that I spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect book for each student. I think that collection development is a tricky science that most people completely underestimate. I have done some work for our alternative middle school in the past year that has made the process even more difficult. I want to make sure that every dollar I spend, each book we acquire, is the perfect book for our students.

A few months ago, a post came across the YALSA listserv. It was from Amy Cheney. She was seeking volunteers for a committee that would review street lit for teens, with a special focus on incarcerated teens. Although I do not work with teens who are incarcerated, I do work with teens who come from urban homes. They are always looking for books "about people like me." I responded to the call and crossed my fingers. I wasn't sure that I would be considered for the committee due to my lack of experience working on a selection committee and my current job, but I was hopeful that my interest and closely related experience would work in my favor.

I was excited to receive an e-mail yesterday confirming my seat on the In the Margins committee. I know that I am going to learn much in the coming year(s) that will benefit my students, as well as teens around the country. It is good to be shining a light on a genre that is either ignored or stigmatized. I know that much of what will appear on most of my colleagues' reading lists in the coming months won't appear on mine . . . and I'm up for the challenge. I'll keep you posted about how it goes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Have you been reading the Penguin Breathless Reads fall previews this week? Each day, Penguin has released a new preview that includes a few chapters of an upcoming book on Scribd. Today's book is Elizbeth Richards' Black City. I love the idea of getting a digital taste of what's to come from a publisher. Check out the four books release so far this week at Penguin's Scribd. I'm looking forward to seeing what's coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"And whether or not I face up to my critics, life will always be beautiful and messy. Always."

It started as a simple youth group assignment: write a story for the kids in Sunday School. For Luke Dorsey, a whirlwind of writing turned into a published book . . . with a book tour. Luke's brother Matt is assigned the task of getting him to each tour location, but Matt has other ideas, including a trip across Route 66 to repair his relationship with his girlfriend Alex. Throughout the road trip, Luke gives us glimpses back at the time he was writing the book and the story of his friendship with Fran, a fellow youth group member, unfolds as well.

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Anthony John is a story about friendship, but also about looking beyond appearances and finding out what lies beneath. Even though this is Luke's story, I really loved Fran. She's honest about the fact that she's trying to figure things out--and that it's hard to live with parents who have put her in a pressure cooker.

I've never traveled Route 66, but there is a part of me that wants to see all the roadside attractions. Although the trip was mostly a backdrop for the story, it was fun to follow along as Luke, Matt, Fran, and Alex crossed the country.

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip is available today from Dial Books. ARC from publisher.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Loved tried to make you happy, even if it was useless. Love would do anything to make you happy."

Promises. We all make them. How much harder is it to keep a promise? As she is dying, Shelby's mom asks her to keep three promises: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. It seems simple at first, but what happens if the promises contradict one another? Are there possible loopholes that would allow Shelby to circumvent the promises?

When Shelby's dad gets involved in planning the local Princess Ball, she realizes that she may have to break one of the promises or find a loophole that will allow her to make her own decision. With her best friends Ruby and Jonas at her side, she works to find a solution and, just maybe, find a closer relationship with her father in the process.

I love several things about this book. First, in order to live without restraint, Shelby has a life list with over 400 (!) to-do items listed. This is something I really need to do. I've talked about it, but somehow never actually made the list. I'm inspired to do so now. Second, Ruby and Jonas are great characters. They're honest and real, but also supportive. I hope for all kids to have deep friendships with people they can trust. Finally, I love the truth of the sometimes difficult and evolving relationship between Shelby and her father. Parent-child interactions are often frustrating and Pearce portrays the frequent misunderstandings truthfully.

Purity by Jackson Pearce will be published by Little, Brown on April 24, 2012. ARC from publisher.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Another Series. Seriously?

I'm not being grouchy. I promise. I just really want a book to end. Ok, that's not exactly true. I love a series as much as the next reader. I often get attached to characters and want to know more of the story. I was thrilled when Chris Crutcher wrote Angry Management so I could follow up with several of my favorite characters and stories. However, I fell like right now I'm just waiting. And not even very patiently. What am I waiting for? Take a look and you'll see why I'm suffering:

At the end of Ashfall by Mike Mullin, he mentions a sequel . . . and promises a first chapter on his website. Although the first chapter is not there yet, the sequel, Ashen Winter, is scheduled to publish on October 8, 2012. I'm definitely looking forward to finding out what happens next for Alex and Darla. (As an aside, Mike is one of the most fun authors I've ever met. If you ever run into him, ask him how many swear words he can list for you.)

The first line of Delirium by Lauren Oliver is one of my all-time favorites. The end of the book, though, was a huge cliffhanger. I have been not-so-patiently waiting for Pandemonium to be published. Although I have ordered a copy for the library, I will be purchasing this one too because I already have a waiting list. February 28, 2012 can't come soon enough!

Confession: I am fascinated by MTV's "Sixteen and Pregnant." When I first started watching it, I told my friends that my next job would be working with pregnant teens. Due to this craziness, I was intrigued Megan McCafferty's Bumped. She has mentioned in interviews that she often wondered what the world would be like if every teen was like those from the show. After finishing the book, I had no idea that there would be a sequel. Imagine how excited I was to find that Thumped is going to be published on April 24, 2012. I can't really stomach the commercial nature of the MTV series any more, but this is a sequal I can't wait to read.

Wither by Laurn DeStefano is one of the many books I read over the summer when I was furiously reading through the YALSA BFYA nominations. I didn't look at covers or read descriptions, I just dove in and read book after book. I have to admit that this one left me with a bit of a creepy feeling--and lots of ideas about what might be coming in the sequel. Fever publishes on February 21, 2012, so I don't have to wait much longer to see what DeStefano has in store for Rhine and Gabriel.

I picked up an ARC of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson at ALA in New Orleans. The cover kind of freaked me out (not to mention the Jack the Ripper premise), so I left it alone for a while. However, once I picked it up I was totally sucked in. When I recommended it to one of my student's parents, she read it immediately--and began a serial killer reading jag (and we began a discussion about how one book leads to another). The "Shades of London" book two, The Madness Underneath, is listed for a January 2013 publication date according to GoodReads.

When I first started hearing buzz about Divergent by Veronica Roth, I couldn't wait to read it. And, of course, reading it meant thinking about just which group would I end up in if I live in the future Chicago? Candor? (that's probably a no) Abnegation? (maybe) Amity? (maybe) Dauntless? (uh, definitely not) Erudite? (not likely) I also nabbed some cool temporary tattoo swag at ALA last summer along with a signed copy of Divergent. I'm now salivating like crazy at the thought that there are ARCs of the sequel, Insurgent in the wild. I don't imagine I'll get my hands on one, but I'm content knowing that May 1, 2012 is just around the corner.

I finished Cinder by Marissa Meyer last week after it arrived at my library. I had read a review and purchased the book without having any idea that it was part of a series. However, as I kept reading, I began to realize that there just weren't enough pages left for a satisfying conclusion. Of course. I am anticipating book two in the trilogy, Scarlet, but it sounds like I may have to wait until 2013 to get my hands on it.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Blick was available on Net Galley and I'll admit that I avoided it. I was a little freaked out by the cover (I know, don't judge me). It was on the BFYA nomination list, so I ended up borrowing a copy from the public library and diving in. It was probably one of the bloodiest books I read in past year--and also one of the biggest cliffhangers. Shadows, book two in the trilogy, is scheduled to published September 11, 2012.

These are only a few of the second-in-a-series books I'm looking forward to. As if it's not bad enough to be left waiting for seconds, imagine . . . many of these are part of a trilogy--we'll soon be waiting for book three. My current most-anticipated book three? Easy: Seeds of America #3 Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson (uh, maybe tied with book three in Maureen Johnson's Scarlet series). In the meantime, there is a giant TBR stack of (hopefully) stand-alone books just waiting for me to dig in. What series/sequel are you most anticipating in 2012?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Top 10 (ish) of 2011

My Top 10 (ish) of 2011 (or: books I loved for various reasons . . . and I think you should read them):

10. Pinkney, Andrea Davis Bird in a Box
9. Zevin, Gabrielle All These Things I've Done
8. Taylor, Laini Daughter of Smoke and Bone
7. Castle, Jennifer The Beginning of After
6. Flack, Sophie Bunheads and Martinez, Jessica Virtuosity
5. Resau, Laura and Maria Virginia Farinango Queen of Water
4. Johnson, Maureen The Name of the Star
3. Gantos, Jack Dead End in Norvelt and Schmidt, Gary Okay for Now
2. Handler, Daniel and Maira Kalman Why We Broke Up
1. Sloan, Holly Goldberg I'll Be There

You probably didn't even notice that my top ten is really a top twelve, right? I actually have a couple of honorable mentions as well (I know, sick, right?) I don't think you want to miss The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt, Ashfall by Mike Mullin, or Ashes by Ilsa Bick. The first because I just love Reinhardt's writing. A-maz-ing. The last two because teens are going to be banging down your door for sequels, so you better know what they're talking about. Speaking of sequels . . . I need to do a post on that topic--so many good sequels coming in 2012! What are your top ten?