Tag Archives: conduct of life

Cicada by Shaun Tan

Cicada by Shaun Tan. January 29, 2019. Arthur A. Levine, 32 p. ISBN: 9781338298390.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8.

From the visionary Shaun Tan, an inspirational story for older picture book readers and beyond

Cicada tells the story of a hardworking little cicada who is completely unappreciated for what he does. But in the end, just when you think he’s given up, he makes a transformation into something ineffably beautiful. A metaphor for growing up? A bit of inspiration for the unappreciated striver in all of us? Yes, yes, and more.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 8))
Grades 6-9. From award-winning Tan comes another nonpareil picture book. Tan’s eponymous Cicada is a mistreated office worker in a grim office building, employed by a company truly Kafkaesque in its brutal devotion to minutiae. “Seventeen year,” says our protagonist. “No promotion. Human Resources say Cicada not human. Need no resources. Tok Tok Tok!” We see the Cicada retire quietly from its mundane, thankless job, homeless and impoverished—a pathos evenly played in Tan’s deft hand. Tan juxtaposes the heartrending despondency of the story with a new sense of wonder as we see the cicada begin anew outside of his dreary office, just as the muted tones of the man-made office building are ignited by the verdant, gleaming cicada itself. As Tan’s books often do, this seems to defy categorization—its themes, admittedly, are perhaps too mature for the standard picture-book crowd. But for older readers drawn to unusual narrative formats, this book could work wonders with its nuanced, hopeful depiction of individuality. Illustrated with graceful restraint, this book is a stirring vignette of a life lived against the grain.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2018)
Tan’s narratives often critique traditional office culture; this one features the inhumane treatment of the protagonist, a cicada dressed in a four-armed gray suit, complete with tie and pocket square. Oriented vertically, the insect does not reach the top of his human co-workers’ desks, thus skewing the perspective so their heads are not visible. The green data entry clerk works in a gray maze of cubicles. Despite his exceptional performance and strong work ethic, he must walk blocks to a bathroom and is physically bullied. Readers will recognize forms of marginalization throughout, i.e., the elevator buttons are too high, poverty forces residency in the office wall. Cicada language is primitive and rhythmic: “Seventeen year. No promotion. / Human resources say cicada not human. / Need no resources. / Tok Tok Tok!” The last line is a refrain following each brief description, suggesting both the sound of a clock (time passing) and the notion of cicada “talk.” Upon retiring, he ascends the long stairway to the skyscraper’s ledge. The oil paintings of shadowy, cramped spaces transition to a brightened sky; a split in Cicada’s body reveals a molten glow. An orange-red winged nymph emerges and joins a sky full of friends flying to the forest, where they have the last laugh. No Kafkaesque conclusion here; metamorphosis brings liberation and joy. Simultaneously sobering and uplifting, it will lead thoughtful readers to contemplate othering in their own lives. (Picture book. 12-adult)

About the Author

Shaun Tan (born 1974) is the illustrator and author of award-winning children’s books. After freelancing for some years from a studio at Mt. Lawley, Tan relocated to Melbourne, Victoria in 2007. Tan was the Illustrator in Residence at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Language Literacy and Arts Education for two weeks through an annual Fellowship offered by the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust. 2009 World Fantasy Award for Best Artist.
2011 he won his first Oscar in the Category Best Short Animated Film for his work The Lost Thing.

His website is www.shauntan.net

Teacher Resources

Cicada Teacher Resources

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Cicada on Amazon

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Lu by Jason Reynolds

Lu by Jason Reynolds. October 23, 2018. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 224 p. ISBN: 9781481450249.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 570.

Lu must learn to leave his ego on the sidelines if he wants to finally connect with others in the climax to the New York Times bestselling and award-winning Track series from Jason Reynolds. 

Lu was born to be cocaptain of the Defenders. Well, actually, he was born albino, but that’s got nothing to do with being a track star. Lu has swagger, plus the talent to back it up, and with all that—not to mention the gold chains and diamond earrings—no one’s gonna outshine him.

Lu knows he can lead Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and the team to victory at the championships, but it might not be as easy as it seems. Suddenly, there are hurdles in Lu’s way—literally and not-so-literally—and Lu needs to figure out, fast, what winning the gold really means.

Expect the unexpected in this final event in Jason Reynold’s award-winning and bestselling Track series.

Sequel to: Sunny

Part of Series: Track (Book 4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Marijuana

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 3))
Grades 5-8. Lu is the man, the kid, the guy. The one and only. Not only was he a miracle baby but he is albino. He’s special down to his gold chains and diamond earrings, but he feels a little less once-in-a-lifetime when his parents tell him they’re pregnant again. On top of this sobering news, he’s leading the Defenders alongside a cocaptain who isn’t pleased about sharing the title; and he’s training for the 110-meter hurdles, choking at every leap. As the championship approaches, can he prove his uniqueness one final time? As with the prior titles, the final installment in the four-book Track series is uplifting and moving, full of athletic energy and eye-level insight into the inner-city middle-school track-team experience. While it must be said that Lu has the least distinct voice of the four narrators—and given that Reynolds has proven himself to be an absolute master of voice, that is disappointing—this story is not a letdown. Virtually every subplot is a moving moral lesson on integrity, humility, or reconciliation, and Reynolds wraps up his powerful series with a surprising ending, all while scattering rewarding details about Ghost, Patina, and Sunny to let the reader truly revel in this multidimensional world as it comes to a close.

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2018)
It is an eventful summer for Lu, the co-captain of the Defenders track team, whose swagger is matched only by his speed. Not only does Lu discover that he is going to be a big brother but he is also preparing for the track championship and competing in a new event—the hurdles. As he soon learns, running hurdles is not just about getting over them, but also about how you perceive them. Lu comes to realize that everyone has hurdles—some are physical (Lu has albinism), some are emotional, some are created by others, and some are self-created. As preparations for the big meet continue, Lu learns a secret about his father that has the potential to upend their close relationship, and he also must face a nemesis from his past. Will Lu clear all his hurdles? In this fourth and final installment of the Track series (Ghost, rev. 11/16; Patina, rev. 11/17; Sunny, rev. 7/18), Reynolds explores redemption and how the people we love and admire the most are not exempt from individual challenges; however, focusing on the bigger picture—family, community, teamwork—helps us to navigate and overcome what gets in our way. Reynolds takes great care in crafting multidimensional characters who face real dilemmas and demonstrate that our shortcomings do not ultimately define who we are. monique harris

About the Author

After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he’s afraid he’ll forget it all before he gets home.

His website is www.jasonwritesbooks.com.

Teacher Resources

Lu on Common Sense Media

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Lu on Amazon

Lu on Barnes and Noble

Lu on Goodreads

Lu on LibraryThing

Lu Publisher Page

Speechless by Adam Schmitt

Speechless by Adam Schmitt. November 6, 2018. Candlewick Press, 304 p. ISBN: 9781536200928.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.8.

How do you give a eulogy when you can’t think of one good thing to say? A poignant, funny, and candid look at grief, family secrets, difficult people, and learning to look behind the facade.

As if being stuffed into last year’s dress pants at his cousin’s wake weren’t uncomfortable enough, thirteen-year-old Jimmy has just learned from his mother that he has to say a few words at the funeral the next day. Why him? What could he possibly say about his cousin, who ruined everything they did? He can’t recall one birthday party, family gathering, or school event with Patrick that didn’t result in injury or destruction. As Jimmy attempts to navigate the odd social norms of the wake, he draws on humor, heartfelt concern, and a good deal of angst while racking his brain and his memory for a decent and meaningful memory to share. But it’s not until faced with a microphone that the realization finally hits him: it’s not the words that are spoken that matter the most, but those that are truly heard.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Cruelty to animals, Mild language, Violence, Alcohol

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 5))
Grades 5-8. Honesty isn’t always pretty, but it courses through Schmitt’s debut in more ways than one. Jimmy, 13, is already uncomfortable at his cousin Patrick’s wake, but that distress escalates to panic when Jimmy’s mother informs him that he has to speak at tomorrow’s funeral. As he stands in the funeral home, he racks his brain for a nice memory of Patrick—the cousin he hated—to use for his eulogy. The narrative dips in and out of the wake to follow Jimmy’s memories of his 13-year-old cousin, none of which is appropriate for a speech. The temperamental boy ruined every toy or occasion he touched, but Schmitt drops clues that place Patrick on the autism spectrum, sadly undiagnosed and untreated. Complex family relationships surface with humor and candor, with adults painted as flawed and prone to delivering sharp words or even a smack. All these elements combine to make the reader as uneasy as Jimmy, who, through his recollections, gains a better understanding of the boy lying in the coffin and, ultimately, of himself.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 1, 2019)
Even at his cousin’s wake, Jimmy maintains his snarky persona that so irritates his parents and others around him. It is the day before the wake when Jimmy’s parents tell him that he must give a short eulogy for his 13-year-old cousin, Patrick. Immediately, Jimmy resists, as he can’t imagine any positive remarks he can make about Patrick, as Patrick had done nothing but ruin many pivotal moments in Jimmy’s life. “Patrick was the kind of guy who would kick your dog,” Jimmy explains to readers. “And not to see what the dog would do but what you would do.” Leading up to the time of the funeral, Jimmy reflects on different past experiences, times when Patrick always seemed to ruin every occasion. As the family gets closer to the actual funeral, these reflections help Jimmy to gain a more objective perspective of how troubled Patrick really was—not necessarily the intentionally destructive person Jimmy had painted Patrick to be. As Jimmy processes his memories, readers get an ever clearer understanding of a mentally ill child who desperately needs help but doesn’t get it. Schmitt simultaneously paints a realistic picture of a close but flawed family who must navigate the sudden death of a young family member and all the feelings that come with it. The book adheres to the white default. A complicated, hard, and heartfelt look at a child’s mental illness. (Fiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Adam P. Schmitt has lived outside of Chicago his entire life. His family currently lives in Oswego, IL, where the race of suburbia meets the quiet of farm country.

He met his wife on an awful blind date, but since she was after his money and fortune from being a public middle school teacher, they did end up going out again. They have two boys (Aidan, Anderson) who keep them busy with sports, cat videos, and traveling anywhere they can.

His days are spent as an educator, his nights as a husband, father, and writer.

His website is www.adamschmittwrites.com

Around the Web

Speechless on Amazon

Speechless on Barnes and Noble

Speechless on Goodreads

Speechless on LibraryThing

Speechless Publisher Page

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy. October 1, 2018. Carolrhoda Books, 424 p. ISBN: 9781512448467.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 940.

Disaffected teen historian Claudia McCarthy never expected to be in charge of Imperial Day Academy, but by accident, design, or scheme, she is pulled into the tumultuous and high-profile world of the Senate and Honor Council. Suddenly, Claudia is wielding power over her fellow students that she never expected to have and isn’t sure she wants.

Claudia vows to use her power to help the school. But there are forces aligned against her: shocking scandals, tyrants waiting in the wings, and political dilemmas with no easy answers. As Claudia struggles to be a force for good in the universe, she wrestles with the question: does power inevitably corrupt?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Mild sexual themes, Racism, Sexual assault, Strong language, Underage drinking, Violence, Ableism

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. The talented and dynamic McCoy (Camp So-and-So, 2017) tackles power, politics, and history in this loose retelling of I, Claudius. Imperial Day Academy, an elite prep school in Los Angeles, has teachers, administrators, and an elected student senate. But the true power at Imperial Day lies in the honor council, an elected group of students that uphold the school’s strict honor code. Claudia is a self-proclaimed outsider. With chronic health problems and an oft-mocked stutter, her proximity to power comes only from her benevolent older sister’s honor council position. But Claudia is also a student of history, and as she recounts the corrupt reigns of a string of honor council presidents for an unnamed jury, the reader will begin to realize that her years of studying political machines have turned Claudia into one herself. McCoy pulls off great feats of craft here, managing to keep the narrative riveting and suspenseful while focusing on minute details of student government. It becomes as difficult to tell whether Claudia is manipulating her classmates as it is to tell whether McCoy is manipulating her readers, both to delightful effect. Smart, witty, and featuring an unforgettable (and possibly unreliable) narrator, as well as a seamless stream of political history, the audience that finds this novel will be unable to put it down.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 1, 2018)
The last thing Claudia McCarthy wanted was power—that is, until she had some. After years of being teased for her limp and her speech impediment, Claudia enters her new high school, Imperial Day Academy, with only one goal in mind: to be as invisible as possible. That is, until her mortal enemy, the powerful Honor Council member Livia Drusus, orders her to run for Student Senate, thereby thrusting Claudia into the spotlight. Against all odds, Claudia wins her election and, after uncovering a financial scandal within the current Senate, becomes vice president. As Claudia becomes more and more powerful, she begins to question the motivations of everyone around her—including her own. This retelling of the novel I, Claudius (1934) is a gripping political thriller told through a complex narrator whose facility for coldhearted political calculation is exceeded only by her capacity for self-doubt. Claudia is white, and the story features a diverse set of characters who are neither immune to the impact of nor entirely defined by their race, queerness, or physical ability. This narratorial approach is particularly refreshing when it comes to Claudia: Most notably, unlike the majority of disabled characters in young adult fiction, Claudia falls in (reciprocated) love with a popular, nondisabled student. A disturbing, suspenseful coming-of-age story about power, corruption, and the choices we make both for ourselves and the ones we love. (Thriller. 16-adult)

About the Author

Mary McCoy is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. She has also been a contributor to On Bunker Hill and the 1947 project, where she wrote stories about Los Angeles’s notorious past. She grew up in western Pennsylvania and studied at Rhodes College and the University of Wisconsin. Mary now lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Her website is mary-mccoy.com.

Around the Web

I, Claudia on Amazon

I, Claudia on Barnes and Noble

I, Claudia on Goodreads

I, Claudia Publisher Page

Tradition by Brendan Kiely

Tradition by Brandan Kiely. May 1, 2018. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 352 p. ISBN: 9781481480345.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 710.

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Smoking, Discussions of rape

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. Meet two teens who become friends at a misogynistic, patriarchal private school, even as they are both drowning in secrets. Jamie Baxter, a football-player-turned-hockey-player, needs to keep it together for one last year or else miss his last shot at a scholarship. Meanwhile, Jules Devereux is trying to be a bold feminist in a school where girls are told to “not make a scene.” Their secrets spill out when a teen party goes horribly wrong, and Jamie has to decide if he will support Jules in her time of need, thereby breaking a long-standing tradition of silence. Kiely bravely explores rape culture and how it intersects with class and privilege, along the way making his characters speak to those in privileged positions “in a language they cannot ignore.” Kiely, coauthor with Jason Reynolds of All American Boys (2015), takes on an important, sensitive topic that should help connect readers to burgeoning social-justice movements; readers will find themselves rooting for the world not as it is, but as it might yet be.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2018)
A prestigious prep school enforces toxic masculinity.James Baxter is a scholarship kid intent on keeping his head down and not rocking the boat at highly acclaimed Fullbrook Academy. Meanwhile, Jules Devereux doesn’t mind ruffling feathers if it means changing a few minds. Together, the high school seniors unearth a vile, sexist ritual and the accompanying rot that has spread throughout Fullbrook’s culture. As Jules discovers her agency, James learns the first rule of being an ally: actively listening. The author’s plotting is loose, resulting in a novel that winds here and there, eschewing forward thrust in favor of a true exploration of the social dynamics at play. The novel avoids sermonizing, embedding themes in character arcs so well that every feminist argument emerges as a natural part of the story. Readers will find many aspects of the real world reflected in Fullbrook’s campus, beginning with institutions that have turned a blind eye to questionable and sordid practices because that’s the way things have always been done. As more organizations are subjected to scrutiny, this novel is a timely road map for those looking to find their places in this rapidly changing world. All major characters are white. A thoughtfully crafted argument for feminism and allyship. (Fiction. 12-16)

About the Author

Brendan Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York. His writing has appeared in Fiction, Guernica, The AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.

His website is www.brendankiely.com

Teacher Resources

Tradition Reading Guide

Around the Web

Tradition on Amazon

Tradition on Goodreads

Tradition  Publisher Page

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. May 8, 2018. Nancy Paulsen Books, 240 p. ISBN: 9780399544682.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.9; Lexile: 600.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Book Talk

Reviews

Booklist (April 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 15))
Grades 4-6. Pakistani Amal loves going to school and looks forward to becoming a teacher in the future. She only becomes aware of nuances in gender roles and the lack of opportunities afforded to girls after her father tells her that she must take care of the household while her mother recovers from childbirth. Amal hopes to continue her schooling once her mother is well, but that goal drifts further away when an accidental encounter lands her in a humongous heap of trouble. In order to spare her family from incurring further wrath and unfair consequences, Amal becomes an indentured servant to the odious Khan family. Readers will find that a little perseverance and a heart filled with hope can eventually surmount a harsh reality. Saeed fills her prose with lush descriptions of Pakistani life, while still managing to connect with readers whose surroundings and experiences will be starkly different. Hand to any reader who struggles with definitive gender roles, norms, and expectations held in place by societal structures.

Publishers Weekly (March 12, 2018)
Saeed (Written in the Stars) infuses this true-to-life story of unjust power dynamics in a poor Pakistani village with a palpable sense of dread regarding the fate of the inquisitive, industrious, poetry-loving titular character. Twelve-year-old Amal is troubled by her parents’ obvious distress that her newborn sibling is yet another girl, and she is vexed that her responsibilities as eldest daughter require her to run the household while her mother is bedridden. Amal unleashes her frustration on the wrong person when she talks back to Jawad Sahib, the wealthy landowner, who demands she work off her debt for the insult . Amal’s experience navigating an unfamiliar social hierarchy in the landlord’s lavish estate exposes her to pervasive gender inequities and unfair labor practices, like being charged for room and board but receiving no pay. While her growing indebtedness makes it unlikely she will ever leave, Amal’s ability to read grants her a dangerous opportunity to expose the landlord’s extensive corruption, if she dares. Saeed’s eloquent, suspenseful, eye-opening tale offers a window into the contemporary practice of indentured servitude and makes a compelling case for the power of girls’ education to transform systemic injustice. Ages 10-up

About the Author

Aisha Saeed also wrote Written in the Stars, and is a Pakistani-American writer, teacher, and attorney. She has been featured on MTV, the Huffington Post, NBC and the BBC, and her writings have appeared in publications including the journal ALAN and the Orlando Sentinel. As one of the founding members of the much talked about We Need Diverse Books Campaign, she is helping change the conversation about diverse books. Aisha lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and sons.

Her website is www.aishasaeed.com

Teacher Resources

Amal Unbound Teacher’s Guide

Around the Web

Amal Unbound on Amazon

Amal Unbound on Goodreads

Amal Unbound Publisher Page

La Fosa del Lobo (Wolf Hollow) by Lauren Wolk

La Fosa del Lobo (Wolf Hollow) by Lauren Wolk. May 1, 2018. Loqueleo, 280 p. ISBN: 9786070134272.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Spanish translation of: Wolf Hollow

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Bullying with the intent to do physical harm, Cruelty to animals, Anti-German sentiments during World War II, Frank descriptions of the harsh realities of war, Frank description of an injury, Death

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 15, 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 14))
Grades 5-8. Eleven-year-old Annabelle is living a relatively idyllic life on her family’s Pennsylvania farm, until its normalcy is interrupted by Betty Glengarry, who has been sent to live with her grandparents because she is “incorrigible.” Betty’s sullen presence quickly upsets the one-room school’s traditional pecking order, and Annabelle and her younger brothers are Betty’s favorite targets—until Annabelle stands up to her. Not to be outdone, Betty shifts her attention to Toby, a strange WWI veteran already saddled with a dubious reputation within the community. Wolk conjures an aura of unease and dread from the first chapter, even as her pastoral setting and Annabelle’s sunny family life seem to suggest that a happy ending is possible. The spare but hauntingly beautiful language paints every early morning walk to school, household chore, emotion, and rational and irrational thought in exquisite detail, while remaining true to Annabelle’s early-adolescent voice. Her craft notwithstanding, Wolk is relentless in her message: lies and secrets, even for the most noble of reasons, have unintended consequences, as Annabelle’s poignant dilemma reminds us long after the last page is turned. Perfectly pitched to be used in classrooms in conjunction with To Kill a Mockingbird.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 15, 2016)
Evil comes to rural Pennsylvania in an unlikely guise in this novel of the American homefront during World War II. Twelve-year-old Annabelle’s coming-of-age begins when newcomer Betty Glengarry, newly arrived from the city to stay with her grandparents “because she was incorrigible,” shakes her down for spare change in Wolf Hollow on the way to school. Betty’s crimes quickly escalate into shocking violence, but the adults won’t believe the sweet-looking blonde girl could be responsible and settle their suspicions on Toby, an unkempt World War I veteran who stalks the hills carrying not one, but three guns. Annabelle’s strategies for managing a situation she can’t fully understand are thoroughly, believably childlike, as is her single-minded faith in Betty’s guilt and Toby’s innocence. But her childlike faith implicates her in a dark and dangerous mystery that propels her into the adult world of moral gray spaces. Wolk builds her story deliberately through Annabelle’s past-tense narration in language that makes no compromises but is yet perfectly simple: “Back then, I didn’t know a word to describe Betty properly or what to call the thing that set her apart from the other children in that school.” She realizes her setting with gorgeous immediacy, introducing the culture of this all-white world of hollows, hills, and neighbors with confidence and cleareyed affection. Trusting its readers implicitly with its moral complexity, Wolk’s novel stuns. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

About the Author

Lauren Wolk is an award-winning poet and author of the bestselling Newbery Honor–winning Wolf Hollow, described by the New York Times Book Review as “full of grace and stark, brutal beauty.” She was born in Baltimore and has since lived in California, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Canada, and Ohio. She now lives with her family on Cape Cod.
Her website is www.laurenwolk.com

Around the Web

La Fosa del Lobo on Amazon

La Fosa del Lobo on Goodreads

La Fosa del Lobo Publisher Page

Troublemakers by Catherine Barter

Troublemakers by Catherine Barter. April 1, 2018. Carolhoda Books, 360 p. ISBN: 9781512475494.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 760.

When she was three, Alena’s activist mother died. She’s been raised by her half-brother and his boyfriend in East London, which is being targeted by a lone bomber. Alena desperately wants to know about her mother, but her brother won’t tell her anything.

Alena’s played by the rules all her life, but that’s over. When she starts digging up information herself and does something that costs her brother his job and puts the family in jeopardy, Alena discovers she can be a troublemaker–just like her mother.

Now she must figure out what sort of trouble she’s willing to get into to find out the truth.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Discrimination, Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 8-11. Alena has lived with her brother, Danny, since she was three. She knows he and his boyfriend share secrets about Alena and Danny’s mother’s troubled life. But every time Lena tries to talk to Danny about it, he shuts her down. At 15, Lena feels old enough to handle the truth, and if Danny won’t give it to her, well, she’ll start making trouble herself by trying to dig up the real story. Her two friends, Ollie and Tegan, will be there to help her through the triumphs and sorrows that soon come, as Lena tries to navigate her confusing past and uncertain future with a frightening present—an unknown person called the East End Bomber is terrorizing her area of London. Barter’s debut displays impressive skill and authenticity in relating issues of family secrets and grief. Readers will connect with Lena on her dramatic, heartrending journey as she begins to suss out the ambiguity of other people’s choices and fateful decisions that happened long before she was born.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 15, 2018)
A 15-year-old London girl struggles with family tensions against a backdrop of bombings, crime, and political skulduggery.Lena, whose mum died when she was only 3, has been lovingly raised by her brother, Danny (20 years her senior), and his partner, Nick. But Danny’s just gotten a job working for a law-and-order political candidate, and now there’s constant tension at home. There’s a bomber attacking East London supermarkets, and Danny’s boss—in statements Danny wrote for him—uses anti-crime language that Nick, who runs a hippie coffee shop that displays anti-establishment leaflets, despises. As the couple decide to separate to ease the tension in their relationship, Lena becomes increasingly curious about the mother she doesn’t remember, further infuriating her brother. Why is Danny so hostile toward their mother’s old friends? Real life is messy, Lena learns. As well as that: You don’t have to be political to be moral; good people sometimes do rotten things; doing right sometimes hurts the wrong people; and you don’t always get cinematic closure with the secrets of your past. Several secondary characters represent the multiculturalism of modern London; Lena and her family are assumed white. Amid a thoroughly contemporary story about terrorism, email leaks, and a divisive political climate, Lena’s coming-of-age is wonderfully individual and heartbreakingly real. (Realistic fiction. 12-16)

About the Author

Catherine Barter grew up in Warwickshire, and then lived in Norwich for ten years, where she worked in a library, a bookshop, and for an organisation campaigning for the rights of garment workers. After gaining a PhD in American literature, she ditched academia for the lucrative world of independent bookselling. Currently she lives in East London and co-manages Housmans, a radical independent bookshop in King’s Cross.

Her website is catherine-barter.com

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Troublemakers on Amazon

Troublemakers on Goodreads

Troublemakers Publisher Page

Hope Nation edited by Rose Brock

Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration edited by Rose Brock. February 27, 2018. Philomel Books, 304 p. ISBN: 9781524741679.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 940.

Hope is a decision, but it is a hard one to recognize in the face of oppression, belittlement, alienation, and defeat. To help embolden hope, here is a powerhouse collection of essays and personal stories that speak directly to teens and all YA readers. Featuring Angie Thomas, Marie Lu, Nicola Yoon, David Levithan, Libba Bray, Jason Reynolds, Renée Ahdieh, and many more!

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”–Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We all experience moments when we struggle to understand the state of the world, when we feel powerless and–in some cases–even hopeless. The teens of today are the caretakers of tomorrow, and yet it’s difficult for many to find joy or comfort in such a turbulent society. But in trying times, words are power.

Some of today’s most influential young adult authors come together in this highly personal collection of essays and original stories that offer moments of light in the darkness, and show that hope is a decision we all can make.

Like a modern day Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul or Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for TeensHope Nation acknowledges the pain and offers words of encouragement.

Authors include: Atia Abawi, Renee Ahdieh, Libba Bray, Howard Bryant, Ally Carter, Ally Condie, Christina Diaz Gonzales, Gayle Forman, Romina Garber, I. W. Gregario, Kate Hart, Bendan Kiely, David Levithan, Alex London, Marie Lu, Julie Murphy, Jason Reynolds, Aisha Saeed, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Jeff Zentner, and Nicola Yoon.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Drugs, Alcohol, Clinical discussion of genitalia by a urologist

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (April 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 16))
Grades 9-12. Hope is something many people struggle to understand, much less achieve, and teens are no exception. In this anthology of 21 essays, 1 short story, and 1 conversation, 24 YA authors pour their deepest emotions into a variety of interpretations of hope. Many write about survival in the current political climate. Others address marginalization or speak to being overwhelmed by a variety of internal and external influences. David Levithan reveals his feelings about today’s politics via a short-short story set at a march complete with pussy hats. Libba Bray shares a harrowing account of the car accident that left her with a prosthetic eye. Atia Abawi opens up about the prejudice she faced while working to become a TV news reporter. Romina Garber’s essay talks about the immigrant experience, perceived pressures, sacrifices, and labels. These and the other 20 authors come from diverse backgrounds that span race, religion, economic class, family makeup and stability, experience, age, country of birth, and sexual orientation. Yet they all overcame obstacles to their dreams through hope. Attitudes and tone differ from one piece to the next, but the essential point is that “hope is a decision,” and one that requires work. This amazing outpouring of strength and honesty offers inspirational personal accounts for every reader who wonders what to do when everything seems impossible.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2018)
Hope Nation brings together 24 top young adult authors who share personal essays about hope. Their audience is teenagers, but this collection is a treasure trove of wisdom for older readers too. It achieves this with stories from a wide array of perspectives and diverse identities: the struggles of being Muslim in a post–9/11 world as described by Aisha Saeed, the complex constrictions of life in the closet made plain by Alex London, and the terrifying anxieties of being black in contemporary America by Nic Stone, among others. Even if these authors’ stories do not exactly mirror each of their readers’, together they open the door to an investigation of what hope means. Although it can mean different things and present itself in innumerable ways, the underlying message of this anthology is that it is important to cling to hope: Use hope as a flashlight, a mantra, a walking stick, a tool for every circumstance life throws at human beings. This work comes at a crucial time, as many people struggle to find hope in a confusing and disappointing world. A salve when days are bleak. (Nonfiction anthology. 14-adult)

About the Editor

Dr. Rose Brock is a twenty-year veteran professor who has dedicated her career to turning teens into book lovers. Building relationships with readers through books is her superpower. In addition to her career as a librarian and educator, Dr. Brock is also very involved in helping to organize the North Texas Teen Book Festival, a one-day event, which hosts sixty authors and has an impressive annual attendance of over 3,500 teens and tweens. She also serves as a team leader of the International Literacy Association’s Young Adults’ Choices project, which empowers teens to read and select the best books of the year. Dr. Brock was named by the Texas Library Association as the recipient of the Siddie Joe Johnson Award, an award given by the Children’s Round Table to a librarian who demonstrates outstanding library service to children.

Around the Web

Hope Nation on Amazon

Hope Nation on Goodreads

Hope Nation Publisher Page

Rookie on Love by Tavi Gevinson

Rookie on Love edited by Tavi Gevinson. January 2, 2018. Razorbill, 288 p. ISBN: 9780448493992.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1010.

A single-subject anthology about the heart’s most powerful emotion, edited by Tavi Gevinson. Featuring exclusive, never-before-seen essays, poems, comics, and interviews from contributors like Jenny Zhang, Emma Straub, Hilton Als, Janet Mock, John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Gabourey Sidibe, Mitski, Alessia Cara, Etgar Keret, Margo Jefferson, Sarah Manguso, Durga Chew-Bose, and many more!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Underage drinking, Smoking

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. Seeking to expand their presence, the online magazine Rookie has devoted all-new content to this print edition. Wanting a subject that would be “totes chill, v. simple, and easy to understand,” they, tongue in cheek, went with love. The result of the open-ended prompt is this anthology of short stories, essays, poetry, interviews, comics, and more by “teens of all ages.” The contributors, diverse in race and sexual orientation, range from current teens to adults who vividly remember their teen years, including a few celebrities such as Gabourey Sidibe and Rainbow Rowell. As one would expect on the topic of love, there are pieces on first love, romance, unrequited love, and breaking up, while other pieces address intimacy, sisterly love, friendship, and even our love of dogs. The overarching and most powerful theme, however, is self-love. The writers aren’t talking narcissism, but the self-respect that goes into a healthy relationship. Each voice lends itself to universal truths about love, sometimes in no-holds-barred language, making this a good choice for YA and new adult collections.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 1, 2018)
Curated from Rookie, an online magazine dedicated to teens and founded in 2011 by a then-15-year-old Gevinson, this anthology offers tales of love from 45 different, diverse voices.Janet Mock professes unrequited love as a transgender girl of color who has an intense crush on the boy who lives two doors down from her. White writer Emma Straub describes the love affair she has with stories and how literature has been the soundtrack to her life, influencing her personal choices as well as her approach to writing. A delightful chapter, “Binary Planets Writing,” chronicles the relationship of black sisters Ogechi and Ugochi Egonu, growing together and then apart, showing that the love that exists within twinship doesn’t always mean sameness. Queer artist Sunny Betz offers a three-page comic about finally meeting an online friend in person when they decide to hit the road to see their favorite band. In “Karma,” African-American actress Gabourey Sidibe crafts a confessional of how, when true love escaped her at a young age, she chose to use her partners to get the attention and affection she felt she needed with a boomerang effect that she feels has led to her current lonely, single status. Containing poetry, essays, interviews, graphic short stories, and fiction, covering doggie love, Arthurian love, and grandmother love, the book offers a niche of love that all women can connect to. A thoughtful, light read celebrating a universal emotion. (Anthology. 12-18)

About the Editor

Tavi Gevinson is an American writer, magazine editor, actress and singer. Raised in Oak Park, Illinois, Gevinson came to public attention at the age of twelve because of her fashion blog Style Rookie. By the age of fifteen, she had shifted her focus to pop culture and feminist discussion. Gevinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online Rookie Magazine, aimed primarily at teenage girls. In both 2011 and 2012, she appeared on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Media list.

Teacher Resources

Rookie Magazine

Around the Web

Rookie on Love on Amazon

Rookie on Love on Goodreads

Rookie on Love Publisher Page