Monday, October 30, 2017

Trell by Dick Lehr

2017, Candlewick Press

Trell only has one family picture with both of her parents in it.  It was taken on her 13th birthday.  Before that, it was always just one of them because the other had to take the picture.  It can get tough when your daddy, Romero Taylor, is in prison.  

Trell was just a few months old when her father was sentenced for murder of an innocent girl who was shot down during a gang shooting.  It's something the district attorney pursued heavily and it's now being brought up again because the DA is now running for mayor.  No one can forget poor Ruby and the senseless loss of life...

Except Trell is as certain as her father that he didn't commit the crime.

Trell knows about gangs, shootings and drug dealers.  She lives in an area of Boston riddled with them and more but she is trying to get away from it.  With the encouragement of her mother, she now attends the Weld, a private school in another area known for their academics.  People like Thumper Parrish, the local drug lord, scare her and she wants nothing to do with that type of life.  

But it's one visit and visitor that will change Trell's life.  Her father's case catches the attention of a new lawyer, one who is willing to fight for an appeal for Romero.  But it'll be an uphill battle to find evidence.  It'll also be a battle to stay one step ahead of those trying to hide the truth with threats, bullets, and brutality.

Dick Lehr writes a gripping YA novel set in today's urban landscape not only about the struggles of the main character, but also the fight for justice where system are flawed.  This is also a novel based on real life events of a murder that actually happened in Boston when Lehr was part of the Spotlight team of the Boston Globe. Urban realism is deftly written about in this novel and is one that should be on the shelves for those who live it and those who live vicariously through it.  Highly recommended.  JH/HS

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Great October Reads and Activities

Halloween is nearly upon us and it's a good time to cuddle up with a scary book on a long least for some of us.  If you know a teen who loves great horror, try these books with them.  I mixed fiction series with stand-alones; non-fiction titles that reflect horror; and even graphic novels and story collections. 

The PDF can be downloaded and made into posters, as a handout or used on a website.  There are links for the books with book trailers. The pdf can be found here

And if you're one to do activities with teens, create a murder mystery party and open the library a little later than usual.  School Library Journal also has a great online article that feature Halloween programs for K-12

However your celebrate October, have fun and let readers know all holidays and seasons are a great time to start reading! 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Feiwel and Friends, 2018  Pub date 03/2018
compliments of the publisher via Netgalley

     extremely or completely dark"

The year: 2087
Ship: USS John Muir

This ship is part of a group of ships jettisoned into outerspace  during the Exodus.

Tuck wakes up from stasis in a fog of questions.  The first thing he notices is the year: 2433.  Nearly four hundreds year of stasis has wrecked havoc on his physical self, which he desperately needs right now.  Because he has come face-to-face with a horrible bony, twitchy, and deadly alien that looks weirdly human.  The crew of the John Muir have either survived or evolved and a deadly war of survival is happening on a decrepit ship manned by no one but the AI, Dejah, and the ability to speak to each other silently through brain-embedded chips.  And silence is the key to survival against the griefers, mourners, and other monsters lurking everywhere.  Then he meets....

The year: 2435
Ship: Conquistador

This ship is an exploratory vessel aimed at finding viable soil and planets to re-establish humanity.  Earth is now dead, thanks to the terrorist plot Pitch Dark, and this ship, run by the Cruz family with the Smithson family as passengers, is one of their last hopes.

Laura (pronounced low-ra) has no fear except for one: Sebastian Smithson, heir to the powerful family who curates prized artifacts.  Her fear isn't based on him per se, but on the subjugator they have implanted in her, giving them total control over what she does.  But not tonight...she is hacking the system in order to free herself from this technology and tell her family and Mami, captain of the ship, about the mutiny the Smithsons are planning.  They've just found an age-old ship carrying extremely valuable cargo, which holds the key to humanity.  But then she sees the insignia of Pitch Dark appear before collision course between the two ships begins....

Survivors from two very different ships and times, Tuck and Laura meet and form a union to not only save themselves from the horrors within their ships, but also to ensure extinction of their race doesn't happen.  But they must fight not only physical monsters, but also the espionage of the Pitch Dark group, and the power struggle happening between families.  It's enough  to divide, but can they conquer? about edge of the seat reading!!  Alameda creates a interstellar world of two different ages of humanity that still mirror each other in their will to survive and control.  The monsters on the Muir are uniquely embodied human/monsters with destructive power created through the errors of humanity itself.  What makes this novel a standout isn't only the amazing narrative and storyline Alameda creates, but also the diversity she embues in the characters, where the main characters come from a proud line of Latino lineage.  This is a novel that will quickly become part of a lot of "TBR" lists and more.  HIGHLY recommended JH/HS.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Great K-12 library ideas!

I've shared quite a bit on my Twitter feed (@yabooksandmore) of great ideas I've seen in libraries I've visited since school started and I am BLOWN AWAY by the inventiveness of librarians from all grade levels.  As I know some of you may not be on Twitter, this blog post will help you see what I have and perhaps even inspire you to share ideas or even incorporate them into your own library spaces.

A savvy librarian uses bins for Pre-K to check out to save time shelving.  She made them eye-catching, and those are as endless as your imagination.  Even creating an eye-catching table space for them will excite young readers visually :)

Speaking of bins, this librarian used them to separate series so students knew how to grab the next one quickly without having to scour the shelves.  Quick and easy....perfect for readers wanting the next one!

Do your paperbacks get pushed to the back of the shelves only to be lost without as much checkout?  Here again, bins to the rescue!!  This librarian took all paperbacks for that section and put them in bins so they were more visible.  Genius!

Another great way to use displays creatively doesn't always happen in the shelves.  It can happen on top of them as well.  Look at what this librarian did with weeded reference. She used them not only to boost up the signage but also to act as a visual cue.  Get inventive and decorate the spines (bling it on!) or any way you'd like 

All this takes is a little work and a lot of red paper!  I don't think I have to say much about this display.  What's ingenious is that all of the books displayed are books to movies!

What a great way to show school spirit AND cover up some old furniture!  This middle school librarian took old t-shirts and used them to cover stools to update them and make the library more inviting.  Look at your furniture and see what you can cover with a t-shirt and a few DIY tricks :)

If you have a tight library and don't have space for a Lego wall, think outside the box by this librarian and use the backs of shelves to make them.  The shelf space under this can be used for storage and ties the space all together.  I also like that this librarian called her makerspace "I-space" for innovation, imagination, ingenuity etc....

Lastly, sewing machines in the library makerspace!!  LOVE!!!!