Wednesday, January 30, 2019

On Newbery Honor Books

Gold stars. Photo by Creativity103, used under Creative Commons license.

FIRST OF ALL, a hearty congratulations to the winners and honorees of the 2019 Youth Media Awards, announced Monday in Seattle. I'm pleased to say that I dragged my two roomies out of bed to come with me to the live announcements (they are NOT morning people). 

I have to say that I am especially pleased to see The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani win a Newbery Honor because that was a book of my heart this year, which means it was one of my own personal favorites. And it is always pleasing to see your favorites win an award and get an acknowledgement that others see the good in it, too. 

Now. We librarians get super excited about the Youth Media Awards. And we all have our favorite titles. And we LOVE IT when there are lots of honor books. The more the merrier, right? 

But I need to set the record straight on one thing. If there are only a few honor books selected for an award, that does NOT IN ANY WAY MEAN that there were no other books worthy of distinction. It means that these books selected were the ones that a diverse committee of 15 different people, people from different kinds of libraries, from different areas of the country, from different types of experiences and backgrounds, could all come to a consensus on. 

Have you ever tried to get a group to agree about anything? 
Have you ever tried to get a group of fifteen people to agree about anything? 

I guarantee you that every single person on the 2019 Newbery Committee had additional books that they would have loved to see get an Honor sticker. I guarantee that every person on that committee had at least one book that broke their heart a little bit when it didn't make the final list. 

My 2015 Newbery Committee was also a committee that "only" had two honor books. And yes, we heard the disappointed sounds from a room of thousands when the number was announced (especially on the heels of the 2015 Caldecott committee announcing SIX honor books). All I can say is that the winner and two honor books announced were the three books that our committee could come to a consensus on out of a field of dozens of wonderful books. 

That's how the process works. And it works that way to make the awards mean something. If I got to give a Newbery honor sticker to every book that I personally found amazing, that would be super fun for me, but it wouldn't mean much to the rest of the world. It's the consensus that makes the award mean something. It's why the committee ballots and re-ballots until a book meets the required score to be declared a winner. You can read more details about the process in the John Newbery Award Committee Manual and I highly recommend that you do so if you're curious about how it all works. 

One last little thing before I step down from my soapbox is this: 

Just because your favorite book didn't get a shiny sticker on it this weekend doesn't make it any less a favorite. I call these "books of your heart". Don't stop loving that book. Don't stop sharing that book and pushing it into the hands of children. Ultimately, it's not a shiny sticker that's going to get that book into the hands of every child who needs it. It's you, the gatekeeper. It's you the librarian, the teacher, the parent, the friend. Keep matching up your favorite books with their readers. THAT is what makes those books shine, not a sticker. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

ALA Midwinter Bound!

Today I'm headed West to Seattle for the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. I am super excited to attend some great programs, reconnect with colleagues from all over the country, and learn about all the great new books coming out this spring.

I will be live-blogging for the ALSC Blog, so make sure you jump over there to see my posts and the posts from the other live-bloggers throughout the conference! And follow me on Twitter @abbylibrarian for more frequent updates about the conference.

Here are some things I'll be doing at the conference:

And tons more. :) 

If you'll be at ALA Midwinter, I hope to see you! If you're left behind this year, don't forget to follow the hashtag #alamw19 to stay up to date on all the conference goings-on. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

2019 Books I'm Looking Forward To (Adult Edition)

Later this week, I'm headed to ALA Midwinter, where I'm sure I will discover a ton of upcoming books to be excited about. You can bet I'll be sharing those (kids and adult titles), probably on Twitter so make sure you're following me @abbylibrarian

But even before I head West to Seattle, there are some titles already on my radar that I'm excited for in 2019. Last week, I posted about some middle grade and YA books I'm looking forward to. Today it's time for adult books.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Berkley, May 2019). I LOVED Helen Hoang's first novel The Kiss Quotient and I've been eagerly anticipating this book since it was announced. I'm crossing my fingers that there might be copies at Midwinter, but it wasn't in LJ's galley guide, so I'm not holding my breath. 

Summary from Goodreads: 

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride. 
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection. 
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols (Atria, May 2019). This is being compared to The Martian, which I loved. Thriller set in space? Give. Me. Now. 

From Goodreads: 
An astronaut returns to Earth after losing her entire crew to an inexplicable disaster, but is her version of what happened in space the truth? Or is there more to the story…. A tense, psychological thriller perfect for fans of Dark Matter and The Martian.

After Catherine Wells’s ship experiences a deadly incident in deep space and loses contact with NASA, the entire world believes her dead. Miraculously—and mysteriously—she survived, but with little memory of what happened. Her reentry after a decade away is a turbulent one: her husband has moved on with another woman and the young daughter she left behind has grown into a teenager she barely recognizes. Catherine, too, is different. The long years alone changed her, and as she readjusts to being home, sometimes she feels disconnected and even, at times, deep rage toward her family and colleagues. There are periods of time she can’t account for, too, and she begins waking up in increasingly strange and worrisome locations, like restricted areas of NASA. Suddenly she’s questioning everything that happened up in space: how her crewmates died, how she survived, and now, what’s happening to her back on Earth. 
Smart, gripping, and compelling, this page-turning sci-fi thriller will leave you breathless.

The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit In by Ayser Salman (Skyhorse, March 2019). This one strikes me that it might be similar to Funny in Farsi and the middle grade novel by the same author It Ain't So Awful Falafel, which I loved. 

From Goodreads: 

You know that feeling of being at the wrong end of the table? Like you’re at a party but all the good stuff is happening out of earshot (#FOMO)? That’s life—especially for an immigrant. 
What happens when a shy, awkward Arab girl with a weird name and an unfortunate propensity toward facial hair is uprooted from her comfortable (albeit fascist-regimed) homeland of Iraq and thrust into the cold, alien town of Columbus, Ohio—with its Egg McMuffins, Barbie dolls, and kids playing doctor everywhere you turned? 
This is Ayser Salman’s story. First comes Emigration, then Naturalization, and finally Assimilation—trying to fit in among her blonde-haired, blue-eyed counterparts, and always feeling left out. On her journey to Americanhood, Ayser sees more naked butts at pre-kindergarten daycare that she would like, breaks one of her parents’ rules (“Thou shalt not participate as an actor in the school musical where a male cast member rests his head in thy lap”), and other things good Muslim Arab girls are not supposed to do. And, after the 9/11 attacks, she experiences the isolation of being a Muslim in her own country. It takes hours of therapy, fifty-five rounds of electrolysis, and some ill-advised romantic dalliances for Ayser to grow into a modern Arab American woman who embraces her cultural differences. 
Part memoir and part how-not-to guide, The Wrong End of the Table is everything you wanted to know about Arabs but were afraid to ask, with chapters such as “Tattoos and Other National Security Risks,” “You Can’t Blame Everything on Your Period; Sometimes You’re Going to Be a Crazy Bitch: and Other Advice from Mom,” and even an open letter to Trump. This is the story of every American outsider on a path to find themselves in a country of beautiful diversity.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Sourcebooks, May 2019). This historical novel based on Kentucky's pack horse librarians sounds fantastic. I've long been fascinated by the pack horse librarians. 

From Goodreads: 

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky. 
Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber (Forge, July 2019). I've heard this title being compared to Sarah Addison Allen, who is a favorite author of mine. 

From Goodreads: 
Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café. 
It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about. 
As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.
 So there are a handful of 2019 books that I'm looking forward to. What else are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

NoveList & LibraryReads Free Genre Webinars

Photo by Abhi Sharma

ETA (1/21/19): The archived webinar is now available! Go forth and learn!

You all. Yesterday, I attended the first free webinar in a new series on genres that NoveList and LibraryReads are partnering up to present. It. Was. Fantastic.

Even before the webinar started, attendees were suggesting their favorite sci-fi novels and talking about subgenres in the chat (which continued throughout the webinar - I copied and pasted the chat into a Word document to save it and it was 33 pages).

This first webinar in the series was on Science Fiction and I found it very engaging and helpful. We got an overview of the development of the genre from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to what's new and trending today. The slides had TONS of suggestions for books along the way. I could tell that they paid attention to being inclusive with many female authors and authors from different cultures and ethnicities represented.

After the overview of the genre presented by a member of the LibraryReads team, a NoveList team member spoke about appeal factors in the genre and how to use NoveList to search for books for sci-fi readers and narrow the searches down to find a great match. I think you'd get the most out of it if you're a NoveList subscriber, but even if you're not, there were still tons of information about the appeal factors in the genre and book suggestions that would are useful.

This webinar was a bit like my Reader's Advisory class in grad school boiled down to one hour. I LOVED that class, so I was definitely nerding out. If you are unfamiliar with genre fiction or just want a refresher or if you're not confident about searching NoveList or if you have staff that aren't using NoveList because they don't know how, this is a FANTASTIC RESOURCE.

The webinars are centered on adult reading, though there were definitely YA titles that I spotted throughout. If you work with teens or adults, it's well worth watching.

The full schedule of genre webinars for the year is posted on this NoveList blog post and the webinars will be archived in case you can't make the actual time. As soon as the sci-fi archive is available, I will post it.

ETA: The archived webinar is now available! Go forth and learn!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Books I'm Looking Forward To (Young Readers' Edition)

Has anyone else's 2019 gotten off to a SUPER BUSY start? My to-do list has been jam packed so far this month and I can only hope that things even out a little bit soon.

I have had some time to drool over these books coming out in 2019. Here are a handful I'm looking forward to, so you can add them to your TBR list, too. This is the Young Readers' Edition - look out for the Adult edition later this week!

Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle (Atheneum, February 2019). From publisher: 

In this powerful companion to her award-winning memoir Enchanted Air, Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle recounts her teenage years during the turbulent 1960s. 
Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.
Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.

I looooved Enchanted Air and it was one that was in my booktalk rotation when we were doing heavy outreach to schools. I'm excited for this companion memoir where Engle looks back at her teen years during the 1960s.

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala (HarperCollins, April 2019). From publisher:

Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.
Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.
Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.
Drawing inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology, the first book in Swati Teerdhala’s debut fantasy trilogy captivates with electric romance, stunning action, and the fierce bonds that hold people together—and that drive them apart.

This #ownvoices fantasy series starter is based on Hindu mythology. Yes, please! And look at that gorgeous cover!

How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons (Little, Brown, March 2019). From publisher: 

To Kill a Mockingbird meets One Crazy Summer in this powerful, bittersweet debut about one girl's journey to reconnect with her mother and learn the truth about her father in the tumultuous times of the Jim Crow South.
In the small town of Alcolu, South Carolina, in 1944, 12-year-old Ella spends her days fishing and running around with her best friend Henry and cousin Myrna. But life is not always so sunny for Ella, who gets bullied for her light skin tone, and whose mother is away pursuing a jazz singer dream in Boston.
So Ella is ecstatic when her mother invites her to visit for Christmas. Little does she expect the truths she will discover about her mother, the father she never knew and her family's most unlikely history.
And after a life-changing month, she returns South and is shocked by the news that her schoolmate George has been arrested for the murder of two local white girls.
Bittersweet and eye-opening, How High the Moon is a timeless novel about a girl finding herself in a world all but determined to hold her down.
Any book compared to One Crazy Summer is an automatic read for me - that is one of my favorite series!

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (Macmillan, May 2019). I'm cheating because I'm actually in the middle of the digital review copy right now, but I want YOU to know about this book and put it on your TBR. 

Teen K-Pop star Lucky has just finished her Asian tour and is about to have a major appearance on a US television show, an appearance that could be her big break in her home country. But, frustrated over how regimented her life has become, she gives her bodyguard the slip and heads out into Hong Kong in search of a hamburger (a very forbidden food on her strict diet). Where she meets...

Jack, who is also frustrated at his life. He's graduated high school but has no desire to go to college and study something sensible like finance, which is all his parents demand that he do. He's convinced them to let him take a gap year and he's interning at a bank and taking photographs for sleazy taboids on the side to pay the bills and get his start somewhere in photography, which is where his passion lies. 

Jack takes care of Lucky when they meet on the street - she's doped up on sleeping pills and he takes her back to his place to sleep. But when he recognizes her the next morning, a plan begins to form. If he can convince her to spend the day with him and take photos of her on the sly, they'll sell for tons of money to his tabloid, basically guaranteeing him a full time position. He thinks Lucky deserves it - it was her choice to go for a life of fame and fortune, after all. But as the two spend the day together and get to know each other, Jack's decision about whether to sell his photos doesn't seem so easy anymore. 

Hurrah for another fresh-faced and funny teen romance from Maurene Goo! 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (Penguin Young Readers, March 2019). From publisher: 

Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she's never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society's failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice-- and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.
Speak is a classic and I'm super excited for Anderson's memoir in verse.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Book to Screen Readalikes

If you got your Winter 2018 School Library Journal this month (or last month?), you may have seen my face smiling out at you!

If not, hop on over to to read my readalikes for a handful of recent and upcoming book-to-screen film and TV adaptations. Connecting media to books can be a GREAT gateway to reader's advisory, especially for kids who might not consider themselves "readers". I always, always think that a kid who self-describes as "not a reader" just hasn't met the right book yet.

As I read back over this article, I do notice a problem with it... TOO FEW DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE CHOICES. I promise I've noticed, I'm calling myself out on it, and I'm working on it: the next one will be better.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Look Back at 2018

2018 was my first full year in my new position as Collection Development Lead at my library and I did some things!
  • I got kudos from my boss at a leadership meeting for spending pretty much the entire collection budget for the first time in many years. 

  • I've been building my Personal Learning Network for adult collection development (Early Word Galley Chat has been great for this!) and learning so much about adult materials.

  • I set up a location in our ILS for our new branch and have been working on getting them the materials they need up there. 
  • I have learned soooo much about our ILS vendor. 

  • I revised our Collection Development Policy and set up an online form where patrons can suggest purchases.
  • I got us a subscription to Wowbrary and it's making our holds lists for new materials grow and grow!

  • I renewed our magazines and databases and set up systems to collect more data so that these renewals will be easier next year.
It's been a great year and I continue to love my job (although I continue to miss baby storytime...). I have goals for next year. LET'S DO THIS, 2019!