Friday, April 14, 2017

Star-Crossed

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee. Grades 5-8. Aladdin, March 2017. 277 pages. Review copy provided by my local library.

Middle grade GLBT for the win, guys. Don't miss this one.

(Mild spoilers below - be aware!)

At its heart, this is a story of Mattie, an eighth grade girl, dealing with first crushes and playing a role in the class play. It just so happens that one of those crushes is on a girl, Gemma the new student from England who is cast as Juliet in the class production of Romeo and Juliet. This is confusing for Mattie - does she like Gemma just a lot as a friend or is it more than that? Could Gemma feel the same way? What will her classmates and friends think? Does this mean Mattie's a lesbian? Can she still like boys, too?

All of these questions are explored in a middle-school-appropriate way. There's no action except a couple of kisses in the play, but Dee still manages to craft a swoony love story (remember how those middle school crushes felt?!). Mattie's friends and family are all supportive and positive as she starts to reveal her feelings, and there's a scene where Mattie's teacher calls out a kid for using "gay" as an insult, so it's a supportive class environment, too. This is maybe idealistic, but I was fine with that. Let's give kids and teachers some ideals to aspire to. And the story is not at all about Mattie dealing with fallout from coming out or anything, but a much more introspective look at having a first same-sex crush, which again felt realistic for the age of the characters.

I appreciated Dee's choice of having the class play be Romeo and Juliet - there are a lot of parallels here between Mattie's feelings and Romeo's feelings, which he thinks he can't share because of his family's rivalry. There are secrets and layers of trust in both stories.

Hand this to tweens who like reading love stories and/or tweens interested in theater.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Currently Reading #1

I'm in the middle of some great books right now!

Here's what's currently on my bedside table (so to speak):


Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (Random House, 2016). I'm rereading this one for my book club and it is definitely holding up. I suggested this one for us because there has been so much in the news about immigrants and it's definitely a timely story. I love the characters and revisiting them has been nice. I'm excited to talk about this book with my book club ladies and see what everyone else thinks. 


My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor (Knopf, 2013), read by Rita Moreno (Random House Audio, 2013). I have been meaning to pick up Sonia Sotomayor's memoir for a long time and I am so glad that I finally started listening to it. The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at a young age, Sotomayor worked hard to become the first Hispanic Supreme Court judge. Her story is both interesting and inspiring as she aimed high and followed her dreams. The book is conversational in tone and reading about the early years of Sotomayor's life reminded me of my favorite Judy Blume books I read as a kid (a high compliment!). 


Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich (Random House, 2016). I am about a third of the way through this beautifully written medical history book that weaves together a personal family history with the history of the first lobotomies and the story of Patient HM, a man who had parts of his brain removed to combat epilepsy and lost short-term memory. I am so intrigued to see what author Luke Dittrich will weave in next! 


Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (Balzer + Bray, May 2017). I downloaded an e-galley of this title because I loved, loved, loved Dumplin' so much. I'm not too far into it yet (no lunchtime reading lately!), but liking it so far. There's some kind of brouhaha on GoodReads about people preemptively rating it based on being offended by the publisher's synopsis? But I'mma hold judgment until after I've read it. Like ya should. 

What are you currently reading??

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Leaders are Readers: A #PowerUp17 Book List

I had the GREAT pleasure of attending the first Power Up Conference in Leadership for Youth Services Managers and Staff at the University of Wisconsin - Madison last week. It was such an amazing two days and I am feeling really empowered (!!).

But the learning continues even now that I'm back home from conference. Not only will I be taking some time to read back over my notes, journal, and reflect, but I am busy tracking down all the great leadership and professional development books that were mentioned at the conference! Of course (since we're librarians), many of the presenters had book suggestions for us. And here's a compiled list. If you're looking to power up your leadership skills, start with these books!

Leaders are Readers: A #PowerUp17 Book List

**I did my best to write down as many book suggestions as I could, but of course I couldn't be in two sessions at once. If you remember any that I'm missing, please comment and I'll add them to the list!!**



The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything in Business by Patrick Lencioni (Josey-Bass, 2012).

Being the Boss: 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader by Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011).


 Brene Brown - This author was mentioned, though not a specific book.
Daring Greatly (Avery, 2012).
The Gifts of Imperfection (Hazeldon, 2010).
Rising Strong (Spiegel & Grau, 2015).



Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block (Berret-Koehler, 2008).

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson et. al. (McGraw-Hill, 2002).

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (Riverhead Books, 2009).

Effective Difficult Conversations by Catherine Soehner and Ann Darling (ALA Editions, 2017).




Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by James Collins (HarperBusiness, 2001).

It's Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace by Anne Kreamer (Random House, 2011).

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek (Portfolio, 2014).



Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandburg (Knopf, 2013).

Library 2020: Today's Leading Visionaries Describe Tomorrow's Library ed. by Joseph Janes (Scarecrow Press, 2013).

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer (Harper, 2006).



Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek (Portfolio, 2009).

Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press, 2007).

**What books did I miss? Please tell me in comments and I'll update!!**