Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blog Tour: Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye PLUS Giveaway




Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

Release Date: 3/3/2015

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: Did you know a gravy boat can change your life? Charlotte and Tobias Eggers do. After a prank on their terrible nanny involving gravy and tadpoles ends in a misunderstanding, Charlotte and Tobias's father packs them in the car, drives them to the desert, and leaves them outside of Witherwood Reform School. Before he can change his mind, a car accident leaves him with amnesia. Charlotte and Tobias have no choice but to enter Witherwood Reform School with is odd teachers, fierce animals, and unending chocolate pudding. But Witterwood is no ordinary school-the headmaster has perfected mind control. Can Charlotte and Tobias escape before it's too late?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Obert Skye is a middle grade reader favorite at my library. He's a regular fixture at our local children's lit festival and he makes quite an impression on the kids. Each year I have a new group coming into the library asking for his books and eagerly wanting more. I'm delighted to report that Mr. Skye has a new series and it's one I know my fans will devour!

Charlotte and Tobias are pranksters and they're also very smart. They know to question things about their new school and they're determined to figure out the secrets of Witherwood. But what happens when the school gets the best of them and they get sucked in? And what happens when your father doesn't even remember that he's looking for you?

Witherwood Reform School is the first in a new series that is perfect for readers who enjoy their humor to be a little dark, their characters slightly mischievous, and mysteries with a side of suspense. Told in the vein of Lemony Snickett and Jason Segal's Nightmares, readers who want something that's just a bit dark, just a tad creepy, and with a slight silliness will be sure to be lining up to get their hands on this one. There are plenty of questions remaining about this mysterious reform school so readers will be eagerly anticipating book two.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher 


Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below to enter!
One entry per person
US Address only
Contest ends March 10



Follow the Witherwood Reform School Tour!

2/27: Mundie Kids

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Blogs to Check Out!

I have the best staff in the world. I know all you other youth services managers think your staff is the greatest, but I'm here to tell you that while you might have an awesome staff, my youth services staff is truly amazing. I am constantly inspired by all they do and I feel so lucky to get to work with them every day.

Two of my amazing staff members have blogs that you really need to check out!


Pamela is one of my staff members who has a passion for tween services. She and one of my other staff, Miss. A, team up regularly to provide very fun and creative tween programs. We've always tried to provide programs for this age group, but with Pamela and Miss A as our tween power team, they are making it happen! She recently published an article with VOYA on last year's summer tween programs. She also works on our tween book groups and is pursuing her MLS and is already a fantastic librarian. The Moose is her favorite animal, which means anytime we get a new Moose picture book, it goes straight to Pamela!



I knew Valerie from the library world before she started working at my library and every time I got to talk to her, I thought she was so cool. So I was thrilled and delighted when she wanted to join our team! She is our teen librarian and she is bringing lots of energy and creativity into our teen department and I love watching her interact with the teens. She has great passive programs and is one of the most geekily awesome people I know. Valerie also loves Star Wars, Cosplay, and Sherlock which makes her even more cool.

Check out their blogs and they write about library programs, book reviews, and adventures in the library. They are both fantastic resources! I am lucky to have them!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

KEEP YA WEIRD: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith PLUS GIveaway

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: This is the history of the end of the world. After an accident in their small Iowa town, Austin and his best friend Robby, and his girlfriend Shann, are caught in the end of the world. Giant six-foot-tall unstoppable praying mantises are hatching. It's up to Robby and Austin to save the world. But Austin is dealing with teenage emotions and hormones and is caught between his love for Shann and Robby. Survival, hormones, and giant man-eating bugs-you know what I mean.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: There's a reason the tour for Grasshopper Jungle and the upcoming book The Alex Crow is titled "Keep YA Weird." Ask anyone about Grasshopper Jungle and I'm sure one of the first things they will say is "it's weird." Yep, it's weird. But it's also very good.

Yes, the book is about giant praying mantises that hatch, mate, and eat as they take over the world. But that's just one part and actually it's not the biggest part of the novel. This is more Austin's story about figuring out his history, his story, and dealing with his conflicted feelings about Robby and Shann. I saw someone describe it on Facebook as a "bi-gay-straight love triangle set at the end of the world" and I think that's a pretty good description.

We recently read Grasshopper Jungle  for my book club and I mentioned how it's a bit of a "coming-of-age" novel (even though I really hate that term) and someone else pointed out that they didn't think Austin ever really comes of age. Austin is "selfish" as Robby describes in the novel and I don't know that even by the end of the book he is less selfish or any less conflicted. But that's part of what makes Grasshopper Jungle so good. There are no happy endings or easily resolved conflicts. This is a history and history is messy and confusing. Life doesn't always make sense.

I actually really loved Austin and Robby and loved their relationship. I liked Shann alright too, but I felt her character kind of got dropped about halfway through (this is Austin telling the story after all) but I would have liked to know more about Shann towards the end of the book as well. But back to Austin and Robby. Austin often refers to Robby as a hero and Robby is just so even-keeled and kind that I felt like I would be friends with Robby in real life. (I'd probably be friends with Austin too, but I think I would be just as annoyed with him as his friends are.) Robby really shines throughout, partly because of his actions and partly because of the way Austin talks about him. But Robby is a fantastic character and I absolutely loved the dialogue and the interplay between Robby and Austin.

Austin recording of history is honest and hilarious. He points out how roads converge and I found all of his recordings digging deeper into his own history as well as what else happened to have everyone end up at this moment fascinating. His job as historian is one he takes seriously and his comments are wry and serious which also makes them funny. And this is a teenage boy we're talking about here, recording a very honest history of being seventeen, so there is a lot of talk about being horny, having sex, and thinking about sex. Yet I never found any of it graphic or out of place. It fit Austin's history.
The most gruesome thing in the book is all of the bugs eating people, which would often feel very Twilight Zoney or like a B-Science Fiction movie.

There are many ways you could sell Grashopper Jungle to readers. It's a science fiction end of the world story, giant bugs who eat people, a love triangle, or a boy trying to get a handle on life and figure things out. But any way you sell it to readers, I think it will be enjoyed. It's a weird, crazy book that I had a ton of fun with.  And I'm so glad Andrew Smith is keeping YA weird.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley received at ALA conference from publisher

Thanks to Penguin and Keeping YA Weird, I have a copy of Grasshopper Jungle to giveaway! One lucky winner will get to enjoy the weirdness! Fill out the form below. One entry per person, US Address only please. Contest ends March 1. And stay tuned for more Keep YA Weird giveaways and a review of The Alex Crow!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

One Witch at a Time Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway


About the Book: In this reimagining of "Jack and the Beanstalk," an unsuspecting girl brings one witch's magic into another witch's province, stirring certain disaster.

One Witch at a Time is a sequel to The Brixen Witch, but it can completely stand alone. It's a fun fairy tale retelling with a new spin and fairy tale fans are sure to love it.

I got to ask Stacy DeKeyser about her writing and love of fairy tales-I'm hoping she decides to explore those unanswered questions in Hansel and Gretel and gives us another book!







-What inspired you to write books with a fairy tale/folklore theme?

It started with the Pied Piper. There are so many unexplained things in that story. Why didn’t the villagers pay the piper for getting rid of the rats? And then, why did the piper take it out on the kids? I decided to try and write my own version of the Pied Piper story that answered some of those questions. The result was The Brixen Witch. Writing that book made me realize that every fairy tale has unanswered questions. For example, “Jack and the Beanstalk”: If Jack is clever enough to climb the beanstalk and steal stuff from the giant, how can he also be dumb enough to trade a cow for a handful of dried beans? I love exploring those questions and trying to fill in the blanks with plausible answers.


-Why do you write for middle grade readers?

Those were the books that made me a reader. And the themes that middle grade books explore—finding your place in the world, coming to terms with all the craziness life throws at you—have limitless possibilities, and they are topics that I still struggle with every day. I never get tired of writing about them. Lastly, I think middle grade books tend to preserve the most classic, traditional form of storytelling. (Sort of like fairy tales!) A middle grade book needs a good plot that keeps moving, and characters you care about. And the best stories broaden a reader’s experience while they entertain. That’s what I love to read, and it’s what I try to write.

-What book (or books) would you recommend for someone wanting to start reading middle grade?

Oh, wow, where do I start?

Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) and Because of Winn Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) both prove that a short, simple story can be very satisfying and profound. Any book by Barbara O’Connor. Historical fiction (Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff is a favorite of mine) can make readers curious about the facts of history. If you think you don’t like poetry, try Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. And of course I love fantasy, especially Jonathan Stroud’s books. I love his long sentences and complex plots. I love how he never underestimates his readers.

-If you were trapped in a fairy tale, which one would you choose?


“Hansel and Gretel.” First of all, Gretel has a buddy, which would be nice. Secondly, she’s the hero of the story! She rescues her brother and kills the witch. And what’s going on with that witch, anyway? What makes her want to eat children? She’s clearly very clever, to build a whole cottage out of gingerbread. Couldn’t she put that talent to use for good instead of evil? I’d love to know her story.

Stacy DeKeyser is the author of The Brixen Witch, which received two starred reviews and was a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Pick, and its sequel, One Witch at a Time, as well as the young adult novel, Jump the Cracks and two nonfiction books for young readers. She lives in Connecticut with her family. To learn more and to download a free, CCSS-aligned discussion guide, visit StacyDeKeyser.com.

One lucky winner will receive a set of Stacy DeKeyser’s bewitching reads for middle grades---ONE WITCH AT A TIME in hardcover and THE BRIXEN WITCH in paperback.  (U.S. addresses only. One entry per person. Contest ends February 20)

Leave a comment below to enter!



Follow the One Witch at a Time Tour for more about the book and more chances to win!


Mon, Feb 9
Cracking the Cover
Tues, Feb 10
Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wed, Feb 11
Mother Daughter Book Club
Thurs, Feb 12
GreenBeanTeenQueen
Fri, Feb 13
The Book Monsters
Mon, Feb 16
Word Spelunking
Tues, Feb 17
Read Now, Sleep Later
Wed, Feb 18
Small Review
Thurs, Feb 19
Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Feb 20
The Flashlight Reader

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ALSC Blog: Committee Work Prep



Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about how reading Good Night, Gorilla to baby GreenBean is helping me prepare for a year of committee year. Come join me!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Awards: It's More Than Appeal


I love being part of the Youth Media Awards. There is nothing like being in that room during the announcements and eagerly awaiting the titles of each award to appear. I was thrilled, shocked, and surprised with this year's choices which always makes for a fun experience. 

One thing I saw on social media and heard in the crowd murmurings after the announcement over and over again was how pleased people were that this year the books had appeal. It always went along the line "finally, a book that's popular/I can teach/give to kids/put in my library/say I enjoyed." But that's not the point of the awards. Yes, it's nice when a chosen title is cherished and loved by many (it's never all-every book has a critic). But that's not the point of the awards. 



The Youth Media Awards such as the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz are given for excellence in literature to a child (or young adult for Printz) audience. These books are for excellence in text and art, for literary quality and merit. The criteria states "Committee members must consider excellence of presentation for a child audience."  Nowhere in the criteria of these awards does it say the books must be bestsellers, be popular, be teachable in a classroom, or have wide appeal for the majority of readers.

Why do we demand such appeal factors and popularity from our children's and young adult book awards? We don't hear such outcry and push back over adult literary awards such as the Pulitzer or the National Book Award. Do we expect only books for children and teens to be appealing and are we more accepting of "boring and not appealing" books winning adult literary awards? Or do we just have a hard time defining literary merit when it comes to books for youth and instead want to focus on the readability and popularity of a selected title?

One thing I thought about often when I served on the 2013 Printz Committee was how to define literary merit. It's something the committees think about and discuss a lot throughout the year-it's at the forefront of every reading and every conversation. One way I thought about it was how often I am told that children's and teen books have no literary merit, are fluff, or are not well written. For everyone who sees the value in books for youth there is always someone who does not. I thought about finding the book that proved this value-that showed that books for youth have just as much literary weight as any other award winning book. Sometimes those books of high literary quality aren't the bestselling, popular, most beloved books, and that's okay.

What we seem to forget during the Youth Media Awards is that there are books for every reader. Just because we deem something unappealing doesn't mean there isn't an audience for it.


Not everyone will love every book and that's okay. That's our right as readers. But we have to remember to respect each readers right and remember that the Youth Media Awards are given not because of popularity or supposed appeal, but for literary quality. And it's not our job to agree with all their choices or love each choice made, but to respect and appreciate the hard work each committee member put into this past year of reading and appreciate the search of literary merit in children's and young adult books, regardless of how appealing each title may appear. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Giveaway: The Tragic Age by Stefan Metcalf

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: (from Goodreads) This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.
 
Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul. 

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It's the age he's at.  The tragic age.  

Stephen Metcalfe's brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.


I created a playlist for The Tragic Age

-I think it's going to rain today by Randy Newman
-Love to hate you by Erasure
-I hate everyone by Get Set Go
-Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths
-Mad About You by Hooverphonic
-Girl Inform Me by The Shins 
-Do You Realize by The Flaming Lips
-Roxanne by The Police
Anything by Avenged Sevenfold


You want to read this book and I've got a chance for three lucky winners to win an ARC! 

One entry per person
Contest ends February 12
13+ older to enter
U.S. Address only please


 
Imagination Designs