New York Times | What You’re Made Of
Anne Ursu, the author of Breadcrumbs, has written a lovely and sophisticated new middle-grade fantasy that asks readers to wrap their heads around abstractions and accept a lack of absolutes. There is no one bad guy, people are simultaneously greedy and miraculous, and even a monster deserves understanding. In The Real Boy, magic is unruly, and legends feel steady under the feet until a new bit of information rolls in like thunder and unsettles history.
Boston Globe | Out of the Easy and Navigating Early
Set in post-World War II Maine, Navigating Early is historical fiction. But it’s also a friendship story, a father-and-son story, a tale about grief and recovery and adventure. It is a story with shadows of magical realism interspersed with the stuff of fables and echoes of The Odyssey. Heartbreaking. Joyful. It is all these things.
BOSTON GLOBE | Lies in the Dust, Conversions, Unfinished Life of Addison Stone & I'll Give You the Sun
Jude and Noah come to understand the truth about their mother’s passions, the enormity of art, the madness of love, and the depth of their bond. The tidy ending requires as great a suspension of disbelief as the plot’s magical elements, an exquisite surrender to wonder and possibilities. As Grandma Sweetwine says to Jude, “You have to see the miracles for there to be miracles.”
New York Times | Chimeras, Angels and a Girl in Prague
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor ends with an anguished epiphany, the promise of a new adventure and, of course, what Emily Dickinson called “the thing with feathers” and what Brimstone calls “the real magic,” hope.
Boston Globe | The Walls Around Us and Read Between the Lines
The Walls Around Us is, like Suma’s 17 & Gone and Imaginary Girls, about female friendships and the darkness hearts can harbor. In her story, some people are guilty and damnable, and some are innocent and good—and the ones who fall in between are simply innocuous.
BOSTON GLOBE | VIOLENT ENDS EDITED BY SHAUN DAVID HUTCHINSON
With its fractured format, Violent Ends reflects what its story strives to make clear: People are divided into so many different selves with so many different secrets, that it’s all but impossible to answer “Why?”
New York Times | KIDS OF APPETITE, THE GRACES, REPLICA & EVERY HIDDEN THING
Arnold has a talent for stringing words together in just the right, jumbled order. His sentences are arrows. When Vic tells the sergeant interviewing him, “I’ve always wanted to be strong, Miss Mendes. I just wish there wasn’t so much fire,” it feels as if gravity has doubled down on your chest. But as Vic realizes, it’s much easier to face the flames when you know others are standing with you.
Education & Technology
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL | FAN FICTION TAKES FLIGHT
These young people don’t see fan fiction as something residing in a murky corner of the Internet but as a creative outlet: a way to express love for an author’s work, a venue for exploring sexuality and emotions, and a liberating space to share and receive feedback on writing.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL | YA AUTHORS WHO GIVE BACK
All of this good work raises a question: Are writers and readers just more empathetic? An October 2013 study published in Science found that “reading literary fiction may hone adults’ ToM [Theory of Mind], a complex and critical social capacity.” In non-geek speak, this means that psychologists determined that reading literary fiction increases empathy among adults.
CREATING ALTERNATIVE (EDUCATIONAL) REALITIES
VR creates an experience where learners, usually through headsets or special goggles such as Google Daydream or Oculus Rift, are fully immersed in a digital reality that’s completely separate from the real world. Examples of virtual reality include Google Earth and Hold the World with David Attenborough.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL | Dancing about Geometry: Bringing the Arts into STEM
Would you perform a ballet that was inspired by a geometry lecture? What about a puppet show about engineering? Sounds outright odd, right? But maybe dancing about math would feel less strange if you knew that young learners would never forget the lesson.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL | Inspire: Authors and the Creative Spark
Still, the power of inspiration is so significant that scientists have an interest in understanding it better. Studies have revealed important insight into inspiration’s role in human psychology and the creative process. Research supports what artists and writers know from experience: Inspiration is real, and though you can’t will it to appear, it can be encouraged to visit by having an open spirit and a prepared mind.
Pearson | 21st-century skills: Teaching empathy? It’s complicated.
Until recently, most people thought that empathy was something you were born with. You either had it or you didn’t. However, research gathered by scientists and doctors over the past few decades shows growing evidence that empathy can and should be taught.
Slate | Roald Dahl’s Matilda Turns 25
As children we read to escape—to enter fantasy worlds where a bespectacled boy can discover he’s a wizard or a brave girl can find a magical passage through a wardrobe. But we also read to find reflections of ourselves. Matilda was the first novel in which I, a shy, bookish child, saw myself.
To Kill a Mockingbird is perhaps our foremost example of the private reading experience writ larger by its communal–and now multigenerational–replication.
HORN BOOK MAGAZINE | WHAT MAKES A GOOD YA ROAD TRIP NOVEL?
How do I know a road trip book is really good? Because just like Kerouac’s roman candles, it makes me go “Awww!” at the end.
It’s impossible to predict what kind of world young women reading these novels 10, 15, 25 years from now will inhabit. Best-case scenario? Teens will be both amused and appalled by the idea of a society in which women’s bodies are not their own. Worst case? They’ll be living in one.
BUZZFEED | BEYOND MAGENTA
Cameron and the five other transgender young adults who are profiled in Susan Kuklin’s newest nonfiction work for teens, Beyond Magenta, have to create new gender terms. The old ones won’t work for them. They must grapple with stuff as seemingly arbitrary as pronoun usage as well as the complexities of sexuality, gender, and identity.
LA REVIEW OF BOOKS | THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH TURNS 50
Adults not only take short trips to the “Doldrums,” they make entire vacations out of existential despair. The adventure in Tollbooth doesn’t change; it’s the meaning we find in it that evolves.
Interviews & Profiles
BOSTON GLOBE | CAMBRIDGE’S LOIS LOWRY, ARCHITECT OF THE ORIGINAL YOUNG ADULT DYSTOPIA
The Giver is a precursor to these bestsellers and others in so many ways. It was a dystopian novel for young readers before post-apocalyptic settings became a trend; a title with adult appeal before parents started unabashedly perusing the teen sections of libraries; and beautifully written exploration of human connection when many thought children were not ready for such depth.
LA NAPOULE ART FOUNDATION | ARTIST WILL COTTON
“I think about audience a little bit, for sure. I mostly think about myself as audience, because I’m the only one I’m certain of. And what I want to do is believe this is a real place. And if there happens to be a figure in the picture, I want to feel like I could be that figure.”
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL | MEET MICHELLE COLTE, SLJ’S SCHOOL LIBRARIAN OF THE YEAR
Even though she has lived in Hawaii for 20 years, Colte still has a whisper of Wisconsin, her home state, in her voice. Her Twitter avatar shows a woman with a wide smile and a Dr. Seuss red-and-white striped Cat in the Hat topper pulled over dark blond hair. Judging by her tweets, it’s safe to bet that her favorite punctuation mark is the exclamation point.
Education leaders: If you reject the idea of either or and provide educators with the tools and support they need to give students both and, we just might realize that the horizon hasn’t disappeared after all, and “a new normal” will appear once we’ve created it.
Education | "Learning Loss" versus "Unfinished Learning" and Why We Use Both
In education, what we call things matter. Labels set expectations, impact how students see themselves and one another, influence instruction, and more. Because labels carry such weight, Curriculum Associates has chosen to use the term “unfinished learning” instead of “learning loss” when discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted students’ education progress.
For decades, reading instruction has centered on drilling students in skills and strategies. Knowledge has at best been seen as a tangential benefit and at worst as a distraction. However, recent research tells us we can’t ignore what knowledge advocates have been screaming with increasing desperation for a very long time: If we want to create a nation of readers and critical thinkers, then our reading programs need to give students something to think about.
Our names carry our family history, culture, and identities, and research shows that mispronouncing, not learning, or changing a student’s name can contribute to a student’s low sense of self-worth and feeling like they don’t belong. However, when educators get students’ names right (or at least keep trying to), it can lead to more welcoming classrooms, stronger student–teacher relationships, and a whole host of other positive outcomes that improve learning.