Monday, November 28, 2016

Gundpowder Girls by Tanya Anderson

Quindaro Press, 2016

The Civil War is the bloodiest war that happened in our country, killing millions and uprooting our country both economically and personally.  We've heard of places like Antietam and Gettysburg.  We also know the name of people associated with the Civil War, such as Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln.  Why do we know this?  Because it is taught in curriculum and found in textbooks.  But there is always the hidden documented history of the Civil War most people don't know about. These are true stories about the women of the Civil War.

Long, hot days at work, most of the time twelve hours of labor six days a week.  Coming home after walking to and from work stained with twelve hours of labor and dust.  Thinking about the danger of the job but knowing it needed to be done to keep a roof over their families heads and food on the table.

Most of the workers were considered women in that era.  Today, they would be considered children and teenagers.  Girls as young as 10 were chosen because they hands were small and quick, making for a more productive product.

The product?  Ammunition for the guns and muskets used by both sides of the Civil War.  Imagine sitting at a table filled with small metal balls, paper, string, and gunpowder everywhere.  There is no safety equipment nearby and no regulations keeping the workplace safe.  It was just the girls working together in cramped quarters, wearing the traditional heavy hoop skirts, working in a potentially life-threatening job.  And during the Civil War, three different tragedies occurred...

This book is the stories of not only the tragedies, but also about the girls themselves, and the investigation and outcome of those responsible.  Tanya Anderson shares with the reader not only the stories, but also her in-depth research and how she become intrigued with this part of the Civil War.  What is most impressive about this is that voice the book is written in.  This isn't a dry tome of American history, but voices of the victims, witnesses, and others that were part of these tragedies, including Abraham Lincoln.

What makes this a draw for teens is the size of this narrative non-fiction and the interest the author creates to pique interest in what will happen next.  Perfect for junior high and high school libraries, this should be on the shelves showing readers that women were passive bystanders of the Civil War, but involved in many ways in the conflict.  Highly recommended.

Fiction book pair:
Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

YA Poster: Great Non Fiction for Teens

I used to be a minimalist.  I believed that the library walls should be blank so the emphasis was on the books and displays on top of the shelves.

I have VERY MUCH changed my mind about that...

There are some great places to get YA Books posters:

From vendors Follett, Mackin, and Junior Library Guild
Epic Reads Blog
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Lunanshee's Lunacy

The last two are fellow librarians I absolutely love, both online and in person!  So I thought to myself that I need to start trying to create some themed YA book posters myself and emulate those I adminre.  So here's the beginning of my poster venture! As always, please feel free to download and print and post :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Laughed Until I (fill in the blank): Humor in YA literature

Yesterday, we had a great discussion on #readYAlit Twitter chat about humor in young adult literature.  It's a nebulous genre because humor can mean something completely differently to one person than another. 

Is humor universal?  That was one question that was tackled in our chat.  Genders, experiences, and type of humor are different elements of humor that play an important part in that question.  There is guy humor and there is girl humor.  How each gender approaches it can be wildly different and how authors use it can reflect those differences.  That isn't to say either gender can't read humor that relates more to one than the's just the appeal may lean toward one side more than the other.

And then there's humor that's found in serious books.  One participant wrote that humor is needed in YA literature to balance the realistic lives in fiction that can be dark and dangerous.  I have to be very careful about what I read so that I'm not focused on realistic fiction because of an incident that took places several years ago.  After booktalking, a student mentioned that it was depressing and she wasn't interested in any of them because of the mood I created with the titles I talked about.  And that student was now I find as many different genres, and include humor in it. 

There are many different places online to find titles about humor that could help out any library and those wanting the "fun" side of YA lit.  If you genrefy, does it have it's own genre or it is part of each major genre (one librarian on the chat had an EXCELLENT answer to that one!)? Would you include humorous titles with those darker novels where humor peeks in every now and then (think John Green)?  Those are questions that I believe are more personal decisions, but the great thing is the exchange of ideas our chat last night held. 

And if you need a title list, never fear!  Here are a few resources you can use:

Ebsco's Novelist of Humorous YA Fiction by Tom Reynolds

YALSA's Genre Guide to Young Adult Humor

Humor in YA Fiction Flowchart

And then there is that often looked over section where you can find MANY humorous titles: Non-fiction (and dewey)!!  Here's my list of non-fiction/dewey I've read that I couldn't help but chuckle and sometimes outright laugh at:

The Stupid Crook Book by Gregory Leland

Cake Wreck: when professional cakes go hilariously wrong by Jen Yates
How They Croaked: the awful ends of the awfully famous by Georgia Bragg
How They Choked: Failures, flops and flaws of the awfully famous by Georgia Bragg
Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And other adventures in the world's most polluted places by Andrew Blackwell
Historical Heartthrobs: 50 timeless crushes from Cleopatra to Camus by Kelly Murphy
I’m Down: A memoir by Mishna Wolff
We Should Hang Out Some Time: Embarrassingly, a true story by Josh Sundquist
Emily the Strange graphic novels by Rob Reger
Happy Bunny Books graphic novels (?) by Jim Benton

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Little, Brown and Co, 2015

1944.  Yael remembers her childhood....the needles poking into her thin frame, the straw in the mattress she shared with her mother in the barracks, the beatings, the deaths.  And she is reminded everyday by the tattoo on her arm put there by the Nazis.

1956.  Her tattoo is now covered by five wolves. and although Yael no longer sees it, the wolves remind her of those she loved who died.  She is no longer a young child, but a young woman and part of the resistance movement.  Twelve years after the horror of the concentration camp and the experimentation she went through with the Angel of Death doctor, life is still dangerous. 

Hitler is still in power, and the face of Europe has changed. There are now two world powers:  the Third Reich, and Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, ruled by Hirohito in Japan. The Soviet Union and Italy have fallen.  Hitler now uses areas in Europe and Africa as Lebensraum, a place for Aryan people to live, thrive and grow.

Yael is an integral part of the plan they have to get rid of Hitler once and for all.  Yael is special because she has unique abilities, ones she received from the experimentation done to her in the camps.  She can now change shapes, becoming someone totally different without anyone knowing who she truly is.  Even she is wonders who are what her true self is....

But that doesn't matter as much as getting close to Hitler.  And there is only one event where this could possibly happen - The Victor's Ball in Tokyo.  Every year, the Axis Tour happens, a cross country grueling motorcycle race.  Prague. Rome. Cairo. Baghdad. New Delhi. Dhaka. Hanoi. Shanghai. Tokyo.  Not all riders will see it to the end and only the victor will be allowed at the ball. 

Yael has stolen the identity of Germany's finest racer, a girl named Adele.  That was the easy part.  The difficult part is surviving the race and wondering who is telling the truth and who isn't.  Can she trust Adele's brother, who says he's there to protect her?  What about Luka, her old rival and lover, who says one thing that could mean another?  Most importantly, will Operation Valkyrie work and put an end to Hitler's reign?

How did this book slip through my hands?  I couldn't read this fast enough.  An alternate history dystopian book, this had all the elements to keep readers intrigued from the characters and their endgames to the fallout of Europe after WWII.  Descriptive in narrative, the reader will be pulled straight into the espionage as well as the life or death race that will leave them gasping at the end.  Sequel published this year (and I can't WAIT to read it!)  If you have readers wanting great dystopia in an alt history, give them this!  Highly recommended 7-12th grades.

Non-fiction book pair:
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow 
Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Books to Give To Teens Who....

I tried my hand at making an infographic, and first of all, I must say KUDOS to those who create the "What To Read If You Like..." et al.  They are time-consuming!

So in the middle of that, I thought, "hey, why not make a website instead?"  So using Adobe Spark Page, that's what I did :)  Here is the result:

What To Give Teens Who...