Tag Archives: short stories

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp. September 18, 2018. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 320 p. ISBN: 9780374306502.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

This anthology explores disability in fictional tales told from the viewpoint of disabled characters, written by disabled creators. With stories in various genres about first loves, friendship, war, travel, and more, Unbroken will offer today’s teen readers a glimpse into the lives of disabled people in the past, present, and future.

The contributing authors are awardwinners, bestsellers, and newcomers including Kody Keplinger, Kristine Wyllys, Francisco X. Stork, William Alexander, Corinne Duyvis, Marieke Nijkamp, Dhonielle Clayton, Heidi Heilig, Katherine Locke, Karuna Riazi, Kayla Whaley, Keah Brown, and Fox Benwell. Each author identifies as disabled along a physical, mental, or neurodiverse axis―and their characters reflect this diversity.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. The 13 stories in this brilliant anthology feature teenagers with physical disabilities, mental illness, anxiety disorders, or autism. The authors of the stories are all people with various disabilities as well, and the stories themselves cover a range of genres. In the realistic “Britt and the Bike God,” by Kody Keplinger, a girl with retinitis pigmentosa rides the “stoker,” or back seat, of a tandem bicycle in her father’s biking club, and she’s both thrilled and horrified when her crush, a boy she thinks of as the “bike god,” is assigned to be her “captain.” Katherine Locke’s “Per Aspera Ad Astra” features a girl with agoraphobia who must overcome her disorder to save her planet. An abandoned carnival is the setting for the creepy “The Leap and the Fall,” by Kayla Whaley, with a protagonist in a wheelchair who must summon the will to rescue a friend, while Dhonielle Clayton’s advice columnist heroine in “Dear Nora James, You Know Nothing of Love” learns to not let her irritable bowel syndrome control her life. The stories feature wide variety and high quality, but most important, none of the teens at the center of the stories are defined by their disabilities. Teens disappointed by the lack of nuanced depictions of disability in YA fiction will cheer for these compassionate, engaging, and masterfully written stories.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2018)
Thirteen realistic, fantasy, and science-fiction stories starring disabled teenagers. These tales feature teens with different mental illnesses and physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities, but all share common threads: no overcoming disability, magical healing, or disability-as-metaphor; just kids shaped by their bodies and minds, their experiences, and the worlds they inhabit. The #ownvoices tales (all by disabled authors) feature a few standouts. Schneider Award winner Francisco X. Stork’s (Disappeared, 2017, etc.) protagonist is a cognitively disabled Mexican immigrant who hears voices and who makes a friend. Dhonielle Clayton’s (The Belles, 2018, etc.) heroine, a black girl with gastrointestinal disease, pens an advice column. William Alexander (A Festival of Ghosts, 2018, etc.) offers a cane-using Latinx boy with chronic pain who accidentally animates the spirit of Richard III. Disability drives the plots at different levels: Corinne Duyvis’ (On the Edge of Gone, 2016, etc.) cursed wish-granter, a 17-year-old girl who likes girls, may not even be noticeably autistic to some neurotypical readers, while the anxiety of Katherine Locke’s (The Spy with the Red Balloon, 2018, etc.) programming heroine might prevent her from saving her city during an extraplanetary attack. Heidi Heilig’s (For a Muse of Fire, 2018, etc.) heroine has mania and depression in ancient China, where her condition is seen as bad fate. For intersectional representations of disabled kids leading complex lives—sometimes painful, sometimes funny, never sentimentally inspirational—a vital collection. (Anthology. 13-17)

About the Editor

Marieke Nijkamp is the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of This Is Where It Ends. She is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, and geek. 

She currently resides in her home country, the Netherlands. Her website is www.mariekenijkamp.com/

Around the Web

Unbroken on Amazon

Unbroken on Barnes & Noble

Unbroken on Goodreads

Unbroken Publisher Page

Advertisements

The Creativity Project by Colby Sharp

The Creativity Project: An Awesomtastic Story Collection edited by Colby Sharp. March 13, 2018. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 288 p. ISBN: 9780316507813.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 4.9.

Book advocate Colby Sharp presents more than forty beloved, award-winning, diverse and bestselling authors and illustrators in a creative challenge! 

Colby Sharp invited more than forty authors and illustrators to provide story starters for each other; photos, drawings, poems, prose, or anything they could dream up. When they received their prompts, they responded by transforming these seeds into any form of creative work they wanted to share. 

The result is a stunning collection of words, art, poetry, and stories by some of our most celebrated children book creators. A section of extra story starters by every contributor provides fresh inspiration for readers to create works of their own. Here is an innovative book that offers something for every kind of reader and creator! 

With contributions by Sherman Alexie, Tom Angleberger, Jessixa Bagley, Tracey Baptiste, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Peter Brown, Lauren Castillo, Kate DiCamillo, Margarita Engle, Deborah Freedman, Adam Gidwitz, Chris Grabenstein, Jennifer L. Holm, Victoria Jamieson, Travis Jonker, Jess Keating, Laurie Keller, Jarret J. Krosoczka, Kirby Larson, Minh Lê, Grace Lin, Kate Messner, Daniel Nayeri, Naomi Shihab Nye, Debbie Ohi, R.J. Palacio, Linda Sue Park, Dav Pilkey, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Dan Santat, Gary Schmidt, John Schu, Colby Sharp, Bob Shea, Liesl Shurtliff, Lemony Snicket, Laurel Snyder, Javaka Steptoe, Mariko Tamaki, Linda Urban, Frank Viva, and Kat Yeh.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 4-6. This experiment is the brainchild of Sharp, educator and cofounder of the Nerdy Book Club, among other online book-related endeavors. Wanting to show both young people and teachers how the creative process begins and blossoms, Sharp asked authors and illustrators to send him story prompts and then respond to the prompts of fellow participants. The result is a fanciful, often unexpected, sometimes uneven mix of stories, artwork, and poetry. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s prompt is a photo of a difficult-to-discern animal. Linda Sue Park decides it’s a fox and writes an evocative poem about a fox and a trap. And then writes a note telling readers she knows it’s not a fox but that’s what sparked her imagination—and after all, that’s how creativity begins. Kate DiCamillo, Lemony Snicket, Grace Lin, Sophie Blackall, and Sherman Alexie are just some of the well-known names who participate. There’s plenty here to ignite kids’ imaginations and provide both laughs and food for thought. In the final pages, the participants offer prompts directly to the readers.

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2017)
A guide that encourages young writers to experiment and create. Well-known writers and illustrators here collaborate on a volume of writing prompts and the stories that result. Sharp invited contributors to submit creative prompts (“poems, photographs, drawings, anything”), and then each contributor used another’s prompt to create something—a story, a poem, a comic, an illustration. The experiment in “the way ideas can be story seeds that take root and blossom” must have been fun for the creators, but the fruits of their play have not yielded a collection that’s particularly useful to young writers. Many of the prompts are silly or vague, and the resulting stories, poems, and illustrations are, for the most part, lacking in substance. Kate DiCamillo leads off with a solid idea—using overheard dialogue for a short story told in dialogue. But Lemony Snicket’s response feels dashed off, a flip story likely to fall flat with readers. John Schu’s prompt, “My school librarian turned into a fly on the fifth day of fourth grade,” might sound Kafka-esque, but Sherman Alexie’s resultant poem feels like so much free association rather than a constructed work. A proliferation of exclamation points seemingly intended to boost enthusiasm may further act as a turnoff. An earnest attempt, but readers will find both better guides to creative writing and better short stories, poems, etc., elsewhere. (contributor biographies, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

About the Editor

Colby Sharp is a co-founder of the online community Nerdy Book Club and its off-shoot conference, Nerd Camp, two popular monthly Twitter chats, #Titletalk, #SharpSchu, and The Yarn, a podcast about bookmaking and the creative process.

His website is www.mrcolbysharp.com.

Teacher Resources

About The Creativity Project

Around the Web

The Creativity Project on Amazon

The Creativity Project on Goodreads

The Creativity Project 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

Us, In Progress by Lulu Delacre

Us, In Progress by Lulu Delacre. August 29, 2017. HarperCollins, 256 p. ISBN: 9780062392145.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.2; Lexile: 740.

Acclaimed author and Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre’s beautifully illustrated collection of twelve short stories is a groundbreaking look at the diverse Latinos who live in the United States.

In this book, you will meet many young Latinos living in the United States, from a young girl whose day at her father’s burrito truck surprises her to two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more.

Turn the pages to experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls whose families originally hail from many different countries; see their hardships, celebrate their victories, and come away with a better understanding of what it means to be Latino in the U.S. today.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Discrimination, Violence, Prejudice

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 3-7. Three-time Pura Belpré Award honoree Delacre offers up 12 short stories, beautifully written with candor, honesty, and perfect brevity, that explore what it means to be a Latinx in the U.S. today. These finely wrought and uniformly well-written stories, many based on true incidents, portray the wide range of cultural and geographic diversity within the Latinx community. They feature both male and female main characters and cover topics such as police abuse, the prevalence of prediabetes in the Latinx population, and the misconception that all Latinos are dark-skinned and poor. Many of the stories deal with community dynamics—how an unassuming member can make an indelible impression, Saturday school language classes, and bullying and family dysfunction—while others address larger social issues, such as guardianship related to deportation and immigration, unaccompanied minors crossing borders, and the 2012 DREAM Act. Delacre illustrates as well, providing a gorgeous mixed-media portrait of each story’s main character, and a glossary of Spanish words and phrases, organized by story, concludes the book. Delacre’s lyrical writing perfectly expresses what the characters are experiencing, and each story’s ending is honest and satisfying, if sometimes open-ended—much like real life. A collection not to be missed.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
This collection opens with “The Attack,” an all-too-timely account of a young Latino man with a disability being mistreated by the police. The twelve tales are all based on true events, appended with notes that explain where Delacre first learned of them and citing the article that informed each piece. The deliberate voice and close focus on each fictionalized protagonist turns each headline into a relatable story. At the beginning of each tale, Delacre includes intricate mixed-media character portraits, purposely unfinished, pencil drawings layered between pierced rice paper and incorporating newspaper clippings from her original sources. She also pairs each story with a refran; these sayings are translated in the back matter, which also includes a glossary of Spanish terms. The collection presents stories about health (in “Selfie,” Marla attempts to improve her pre-diabetic condition through cycling); about young people feeling shame over their parents’ jobs (“Burrito Man”); parents being deported (“Band-Aid”); and siblings who are undocumented (“The Secret”). In contrast, in “90,000 Children,” a twelve-year-old Latino boy aspires to be a Border Patrol agent. Delacre’s collection challenges existing misconceptions by giving readers an intimate and varied look into what it is like to be young and Latino in the United States today. sonia alejandra rodriguez

About the Author

Three-time Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre has been writing and illustrating children’s books since 1980. Born and raised in Puerto Rico to Argentinean parents, Delacre says her Latino heritage and her life experiences inform her work. Her 37 titles include Us, In Progress: Short Stories About Young LatinosArroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America, a Horn Book Fanfare Book in print for over 25 years; and Salsa Stories, an IRA Outstanding International Book. Her latest picture book ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! Descubriendo el bosque nublado; Olinguito, from A to Z! Unveiling the Cloud Forest has received 20 awards and honors including an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor and an ALA Notable for All Ages. Delacre has lectured internationally and served as a juror for the National Book Awards. She has exhibited at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; The Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators in New York; the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico and the Museum of Ponce in Puerto Rico among other venues.

Her website is www.luludelacre.com

Around the Web

Us, In Progress on Amazon

Us, In Progress on Goodreads

Us, In Progress on JLG

Us, In Progress Publisher Page

Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy edited by Ameriie. July 11, 2017. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 368 p. ISBN: 9781681193649.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 810.

Leave it to the heroes to save the world–villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like “Medusa,” Sherlock Holmes, and “Jack and the Beanstalk” provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains’ acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage–and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

Featuring writing from . . .

Authors: Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon

BookTubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel).

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Smoking, Criminal culture, Sexual assault, Murder

 

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 9-12. It’s true: everyone loves a character who’s a little bit bad. In the case of these 13 tales, that’s often a lot bad: collection editor and contributor Ameriie pairs 13 authors with 13 BookTubers tasked with creating stories that feature infamous villains from literature and fairy tales. The concept here is that the BookTuber provides the prompt, the author writes the story, and then the BookTuber provides commentary. Some prompts are more detailed than others, and inevitably, the best stories are often from the simplest plots: standouts include Susan Dennard’s “Shirly and Jim” (“a young Moriarty”), Cindy Pon’s “Beautiful Venom” (“Medusa. Go!”), Samantha Shannon’s “Marigold” (“Erl Queen retelling in nineteenth-century London”), and Andrew Smith’s “Julian Breaks Every Rule” (“A psychopath in a futuristic setting). A diverse array of high-profile authors are showcased (i.e., Renée Ahdieh, Adam Silvera, Victoria Schwab, Nicola Yoon), and the inclusion of the BookTubers is an interesting idea that allows for a range of perspectives. The concept alone is enough to draw readers, so stock up—it’s never been so fun to be bad..

Kirkus Reviews (May 15, 2017)
Are villains born evil, or do life circumstances force them to choose a dark path?Thirteen book bloggers challenge as many young-adult authors to write stories about the villains we love to hate. There are reimaginings of familiar fairy-tale and mythological villains alongside the nefarious adventures of the newly infamous. Benjamin Alderson’s challenge to Cindy Pon—“Medusa. Go!”—yields the origin story “Beautiful Venom,” which places the Greek myth in an Asian setting (the collection’s only sign of racial diversity). Samantha Shannon’s “Marigold” is an “Erl-Queen Retelling in Nineteenth-Century London” that grants the primary female character agency denied Victorian women in real life. “You, You, It’s All About You,” by Adam Silvera, introduces “A Female Teen Crime Lord Concealed by a Mask.” Slate, that story’s villain-protagonist, deals in mind-altering drugs in order to gain control of her life after an abusive childhood. Nicola Yoon’s chilling “Sera” is a “Gender-Flipped God of War” story about a young woman with terrifying powers who becomes deathly ill when she suppresses her true nature. Each story is followed by commentary from the blogger who set the challenge. Some react with thoughtful critical pieces, while others take a creative, metafictive approach to the fruits of their authors’ labors. Some stories don’t quite meet their challenges, but overall, this anthology is an explosively entertaining joy ride of villainous goodness. (Short stories/fantasy. 13-18)

About the Editor

Ameriie is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, producer, and writer of fiction. She is the editor of the villains anthology Because You Love to Hate Me. The daughter of a Korean artist and an American military officer, she was born in Massachusetts, raised all over the world, and graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s in English. She lives mostly in her imagination, but also on Earth with her husband, her parents and sister, and about seven billion other people.

Her website is www.Ameriie.com

Around the Web

Because You Love to Hate Me on Amazon

Because You Love to Hate Me on Goodreads

Because You Love to Hate Me on JLG

Because You Love to Hate Me Publisher Page

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains by Jon Scieszka

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains by Jon Scieszka. April 4, 2017. Walden Pond Press, 288 p. ISBN: 9780062385611.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.2.

Heroes and Villains, the seventh volume in Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read Library of Great Reading, is chock-full of adventure featuring an array of characters—with and without capes.

Featuring ten all-new, original stories that run the gamut from fantasy to comics to contemporary adventure to nonfiction, and featuring eleven of the most acclaimed, exciting writers for kids working today, this collection is the perfect book for you, whether you use your powers for good—or evil.

Authors include Laurie Halse Anderson, Cathy Camper and Raúl Gonzalez, Sharon Creech, Jack Gantos, Christopher Healy, Deborah Hopkinson, Ingrid Law, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Lemony Snicket, and Eugene Yelchin, with illustrations by Jeff Stokely.

Part of Series: Guys Read

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence

 

 

 

Teacher Resources

Guys Read website

Around the Web

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains on Amazon

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains on Goodreads

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains on JLG

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains Publisher Page

The World to Come by Jim Shepard

The World to Come: Stories by Jim Shepard. February 21, 2017. Knopf, 256p. ISBN: 9781524731809.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

“Without a doubt the most ambitious story writer in America,” according to The Daily Beast, Jim Shepard now delivers a new collection that spans borders and centuries with unrivaled mastery.

These ten stories ring with voices belonging to–among others–English Arctic explorers in one of history’s most nightmarish expeditions, a young contemporary American negotiating the shockingly underreported hazards of our crude-oil trains, eighteenth-century French balloonists inventing manned flight, and two mid-nineteenth-century housewives trying to forge a connection despite their isolation on the frontier of settlement. In each case the personal is the political as these characters face everything from the emotional pitfalls of everyday life to historic catastrophes on a global scale. In his fifth collection, Shepard makes each of these wildly various worlds his own, and never before has he delineated anything like them so powerfully.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes; Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Shepard, a fiction writer with a remarkably intimate approach to historical subjects, returns to the short story following his novel, The Book of Aron (2015), winner of the PEN New England Award and the Sophie Brody Medal for Excellence in Jewish Literature, and a Carnegie Medal finalist. In this collection of 10 exceptionally powerful tales of courageous responsibility and criminal indifference set in the past and present, Shepard creates various states of emergency either diligently recorded in journals or conveyed in high-velocity, dialogue-driven dramas. With wit and compassion, he fictionalizes the doomed Arctic Franklin Expedition and the 1961 destruction by a violent storm of a precariously erected, manned radar tower off the East Coast. He tells the stories of imperiled crew members on a WWII submarine and two men on an overloaded, under-inspected oil train heading for disaster. Shepard’s fascination with technology also fuels a sweetly droll tale about the eighteenth-century French Montgolfier brothers and their hot-air balloons. In the heartbreaking title story, Shepard choreographs a slow domestic disaster in 1850s New England, where two lonely farm women discover a dangerous passion. Throughout this masterful, profoundly involving collection, Shepard elucidates with stirring precision the emotions of characters ambushed by terrifying powers beyond their control, whether a blizzard or an earthquake, the death of a child, or forbidden love.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2016)
Shepard’s fifth story collection—his first book since his well-received novel, The Book of Aron (2015), which was a Kirkus Prize finalist—demonstrates why he’s a writer who defies categorization. An extended bibliography shows just how meticulous Shepard’s research is, as usual. There’s nothing confessional in his work, no possibility of confusing the author with his protagonists, who include a frontier housewife in a loveless marriage (the title story), a French balloonist in the 18th century who is as impractical as he is imaginative (“The Ocean of Air”), and a British submariner in World War II “immersed in a haze of inertia” (“Telemachus”). Some of his stories take the form of diaries, and he writes in the language and cadence of the period, suggesting an occasional stylistic affinity with Conrad and Melville. Yet these aren’t historical fictions or period pieces but meditations on the past as prologue, on seeing the world to come (as the title has it) in the world that has been. This world is one in which impersonal bureaucracy trumps individual initiative at every turn, whether Shepard is writing about the seemingly predestined collapse of an Air Force information tower (“Safety Tips for Living Alone”), illuminating “the state of most of our railway infrastructure, which on a good day can look like the shittiest Third World footings and tracks on a bad day” (“Positive Train Control,” which has pages that read like investigative journalism), or a doomed 19th-century seafaring exploration (“HMS Terror”). In addition to institutional forces, fate and nature make humanity seem very small in these stories; so many of their protagonists are somehow feckless and hapless as they try to find some semblance of a lifeline in the most tenuous connections, in what the final story terms, with a tinge of irony, “the silver lining of their intimacy.” A stylist whose fictional expansiveness underscores his singularity.

About the Author

Jim Shepard was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and is the author of six novels, including most recently Project X, and four story collections, including the forthcoming You Think That’s Bad. His third collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize. Project X won the 2005 Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction, as well as the ALEX Award from the American Library Association. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, DoubleTake, the New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Playboy, and he was a columnist on film for the magazine The Believer. Four of his stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories and one for a Pushcart Prize. He’s won an Artists’ Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches at Williams College and lives in Williamstown with his wife Karen, his three children, and two beagles.

His website is jimshepard.wordpress.com.

Around the Web

The World to Come on Amazon

The World to Come on Goodreads

The World to Come on JLG

The World to Come Publisher Page

Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh

Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh. January 3, 2017. Crown Books for Young Readers, 240 p. ISBN: 9781101934609.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 4.5; Lexile: 800.

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Racism

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 2))
Grades 4-7. This collaboration with We Need Diverse Books has no single overarching theme. Instead, its 10 award-winning contributors bring their own diversity to individual, idiosyncratic stories that reflect a variety of themes and subjects. The book is dedicated to the late Walter Dean Myers, who is well represented in the collection with his satisfying story about a physically challenged boy, his father, and wheelchair basketball. Though the stories are roundly excellent—authors include Kelly J. Baptist, Grace Lin, Tim Tingle, and Meg Medina—a few do stand out. Matt de la Peña writes about a young Latino boy for whom basketball is a way out to a better life. Tim Federle tells a lighthearted story about Secret Santas and the gift of friendship. Then there is Jacqueline Woodson’s beautiful offering about love, loss, and an interracial friendship; Soman Chainani’s irresistible tale about a lonely American boy on vacation with his Auntie Mame of a grandmother; and Kwame Alexander’s teasingly imaginative story in verse about a boy who acquires a magic power—or does he? No matter if he doesn’t, for there’s plenty of magic in this collection to go around.

Kirkus Reviews starred (October 1, 2016)
Edited by We Need Diverse Books co-founder Oh, a collection of short stories that embraces a wide cultural spectrum of authorship. Readers feel the angst that comes with getting to know the cool new California girl at a Pennsylvania school in Tim Federle’s “Secret Samantha,” narrated by gender-nonconforming Sam. They’ll thrill to Grace Lin’s “The Difficult Path,” the tale of a young Chinese servant girl who is captured by pirates, who save her from an arranged marriage to a horrible young boy from a wealthy family. Kwame Alexander contributes a short story in verse about a young Star Wars geek who is head over heels with the school’s prettiest girl. Perhaps most poignantly, there is “Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push,” about a boy whose basketball-star father gives his wheelchair basketball team some crucial pointers, from Walter Dean Myers. These stories and others—from Matt de la Peña, Meg Medina, Kelly J. Baptist, Tim Tingle, Jacqueline Woodson, and Soman Chainani—ably contain universal themes: friendship, sibling rivalry, parental embarrassment, first crushes, and the trials and challenges that school can bring. Thumbnail biographies of the contributors and an introduction to the genesis and work of We Need Diverse Books round out the volume. A natural for middle school classrooms and libraries, this strong collection should find eager readers. (Anthology. 8-12)

About the Editor

Writer, lawyer, college instructor, donut-slayer, chocolate lover. Addicted to diet coke. Likes to quote extensively from the Princess Bride, Monty Python and Godfather movies. Never leaves home without her iphone, chapstick, a book and her American Express card.

For a more detailed bio, please check out her website at ellenoh.com.

Teacher Resources

Flying Lessons & Other Stories Teaching Guide

Around the Web

Flying Lessons & Other Stories on Amazon

Flying Lessons & Other Stories on Goodreads

Flying Lessons & Other Stories on JLG

Flying Lessons & Other Stories Publisher Page

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies by David Lubar

Seriously Shifted by David Lubar. September 13, 2016. Starscape, 205 p. ISBN: 9780765377265.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 630.

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies is the eighth collection of spooky short stories for ages 8 to 12 by the beloved author of the Nathan Abercrombie series, David Lubar. This is the perfect pick for reluctant young readers who like a few chills and a lot of laughs.

The appearance of a mysterious new girl in school stops her classmates cold. Black Friday shopping gets out of control for a mother and daughter. And stands full of screaming and shouting Bleacher Weenies are about to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Welcome to the Weenie Zone! Here are thirty-one hilarious and harrowing stories that will scare you, make you laugh, or get you to see the world in a whole new way. Find out where the author got the idea for each story at the end of the book.

Don’t be a weenie. Read these stories. If you dare!

Part of Series: Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2016)
The weird, warped weenies return for an eighth collection of tiny terror tales.Vampires stalk vampires that stalk vampires (to eat of course). A spelling mistake in special writing-assistance software at school introduces Hector to the Different, where the hyperbolic descriptions on video clips (“…will make you wet your pants!”) are lethally true. With conservation in mind, Serena works successfully to get the local werewolf placed on the endangered species list…and finds she’s suddenly the go-to girl for supernatural beings tired of being hunted to extinction. Lubar, king of the quick and twisty tale, sultan of the scary (and sometimes silly) short-short story, presents 30 more diminutive dips into the strange, the bizarre, and the unexpected. Most end badly for the protagonist or narrator; boys and girls are represented in equal number. It’s to be expected in a field of well over 200 weenies stories there will be some strikeouts; there are a few here. However, the final story alone is worth the price of a ticket to this game (coulrophobes, don’t even think about reading it!). The collection concludes with a section of story notes explaining the origins of these tales of time travel, revenge, fears come to life, and bullies getting their just deserts. Fans will be shivering and laughing…evilly. (Short stories. 9-12)

About the Author

David Lubar has written more than thirty books for teens and young readers. His novels, including Hidden Talents and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, are on reading lists across the country, saving countless students from a close encounter with Madam Bovary. His novel, Dunk, won Pennsylvania’s Young Adult Book Award and was used by the New Jersey Library Association for their One Book New Jersey program. His Weenies short story collections have sold more than two million copies. He is a popular speaker at schools and conferences around the country. He also designed and programmed many video games in an earlier eight-bit life, including Home Alone and Frogger 2. In his spare time, he takes naps on the couch.

He grew up in New Jersey, went to Rutgers, and now lives in Nazareth, PA with one awesome female and various annoying felines. You can visit him on the web at www.davidlubar.com.

Around the Web

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies on Amazon

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies on JLG

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies on Goodreads