Friday, June 26, 2020

Songbirds and Snakes

Set decades before the Hunger Games trilogy, "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" takes readers back to the 10th Hunger Games, featuring none other than Coriolanus Snow, who readers will recognize as the villainous president of Panem.

Author Suzanne Collins' decision to use the trilogy's villain as a potential "hero" in the prequel had some readers unsure about their excitement. A character already established as evil, Snow becoming the protagonist for the prequel makes this a villain origin story few would have been able to predict. Many readers took to social media to express their disappointment; nonetheless, it seems readers are just excited to delve back into the world Collins created, as many who reacted negatively to the premise still said they were planning to read it when it was released in May.

For the 10th Hunger Games, Snow was tapped to be a mentor to Lucy Gray Baird, a tribute selected from District 12 to fight in the battle-royale-style competition.

Back in June 2019, Lionsgate announced their interest in turning the prequel into a movie, an intent that was confirmed in April. It will be directed by Francis Lawrence, who has directed all of the Hunger Games movies.

More details have yet to be announced, so you still have plenty of time to get your hands on the book. Pick up a copy at BPL Click Here, or you can find ebook and audiobook copies on OverDrive and Hoopla.


This writing brought to you by Courtney Dobrzykowski

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Alex Awards

The 2020 Alex Awards were celebrated virtually last week. Administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association, and sponsored by the Margaret E. Edwards trust, the Alex Awards honor the top 10 adult books published during the previous year with appeal to readers between the ages of 12 and 18.

In case you missed it, here are the recipients:

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

In a dystopian future, where the world's population is believed to be only in the thousands, Griz lives on an isolated island. When a charismatic stranger arrives and absconds with one of the family's beloved dogs, the 16-year-old embarks on a quest to get her back.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh

A crew of 10 astronauts, 6 of whom are teens, set off on a 23-year journey to begin settling an uninhabited planet known as Terra-Two. This character driven sci-fi novel will draw teens into its orbit with interpersonal conflict.

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

In 1965, 15-year-old Ana Cancion leaves the Dominican Republic married to a man twice her age and eventually discovers her own voice in Washington Heights, New York. Though historical fiction, this powerful immigrant story is increasingly relevant today.

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

Kobabe's path to understanding gender and sexuality comes into beautiful focus in this graphic memoir, expressively illustrated with retro colors and simple lines. Readers will recognize a kindred spirit in Kobabe and/or gain insight into what it's like to identify outside of the cisgender/heterosexual norm.

High School by Sara Quin and Tegan Quin

Critically acclaimed indie rock duo Tegan and Sara Quin lay bare their teenage experiences, the oscillating euphoria and scintillation of first love, the jarring process of finding one's identity, and early forays into making music in this gorgeous dual memoir.

In Waves by AJ Dungo

In this beautiful graphic memoir, perfectly cast in muted beach tones, Dungo interweaves his story of first love with his girlfriend's passion for surfing, her heroism in the face of cancer, and a primer on the history of surfing.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

Roger and Dodger are twins, created in a lab in order to bestow their creator with the power to shape reality - but only if they don't figure out how to manifest that power for themselves first.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Idealistic Elwood and cynical Turner form an unlikely bond at Nickel Academy, a corrupt 1960s reform school, as they endure the abuse meted out by the sadistic warden. Their hear-wrenching story of physical and mental survival is based on the real-life experiences of children at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

In this quirky political rom-com, First Son Alex fakes a friendship with longtime rival Prince Henry of Britain when an incendiary photo of them is leaked to the tabloids. A genuine romance blossoms between the two, but it must be kept secret for the sake of Alex's mother's presidential reelection campaign.

The Swallows by Lisa Lutz

The arrival of a new teacher with a complicated past ignites a student rebellion against Stonebridge Academy's misogynistic culture, which has gone unchecked for years.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Recently Added to the YA Bookshelf

Taking a look at some of the most recent additions gracing the shelves of our YA department.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

"This concluding volume in Collins's Hunger Games trilogy accomplishes a rare feat, the last installment being the best yet, a beautifully orchestrated and intelligent novel that succeeds on every level." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz

1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration - museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

"Fans of classics, romance, and feminism will be glad to see that Jo March has not lost her feisty essence. New readers and admirers of the original will cheer." -- School Library Journal

The Empire of Dreams by Rae Carson

Red Sparkle Stone is a foundling orphan with an odd name, a veiled past, and a mark of magic in her hair. But finally - after years and years of running, of fighting - she is about to be adopted into the royal family by Empress Elisa herself. She'll have a home, a family. Sixteen-year-old Red can hardly believe her luck. Then, in a stunning political masterstroke, the empress's greatest rival blocks the adoption, and everything Red has worked for crumbles before her eyes.

"A rewarding stand-alone novel with effortless plotting and deft characterizations." -- Kirkus Reviews

So This is Love: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim

What if Cinderella never tried on the glass slipper? Unable to prove that she's the missing princess, and unable to bear life under Lady Tremaine any longer, Cinderella attempts a fresh start, looking for work at the palace as a seamstress. But when the Grand Duke appoints her to serve under the king's visiting sister, Cinderella becomes witness to a grand conspiracy to take the king - and the prince - out of power, as well as a longstanding prejudice against fairies, including Cinderella's own Fairy Godmother.

"This book has all the expected elements of a Disney film: magic, romance and compelling characters. Lim has created a world reminiscent of our own through its politics and its expanded alternate universes." -- Daily Titan

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

"A strikingly original and accomplished debut, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea reads like an undiscovered classic with impressively modern flair." -- BookPage, starred review

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet - those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

"Magic and romance steeped in blood and betrayal...fans of the first volume will be pleased to have more of the same, with higher stakes and increasingly complicated questions of power and divinity." -- Kirkus Reviews

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

Zofia, a teenage Holocaust survivor, travels across post-war Europe as she searches for her younger brother and seeks to rebuild her shattered life.

"A heartbreaking and heartwarming story of survival, loss, and renewal. Sure to please a variety of readers; those interested in historical fiction, romance, and mystery will not be able to put this book down." -- School Library Journal, starred review

Hunting November by Adriana Mather

Surviving a few weeks at the world's most lethal boarding school was one thing. But now comes the real test: Can November Adley find her missing father before her enemies find her? Subterfuge is the name of the game in this thrilling sequel to Killing November.

"Mather has built a dark, intriguing universe. Between the boarding-school setting, the lessons in espionage, and the murder mystery, there's plenty to grab readers." -- Booklist

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass

When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked - and thrilled. After all, she's grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king's attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true. But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be.

"A headstrong heroine whom Cass's loyal following will champion." -- Publishers Weekly

The Burning by Laura Bates

Anna and her mother have moved hundreds of miles to put the past behind them. Anna hopes to make a fresh start and escape the harassment she's been subjected to. But then rumors and whispers start, and Anna tries to ignore what is happening by immersing herself in learning about Maggie, a local woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. A woman who was shamed. Silenced. And whose story has unsettling parallels to Anna's own.

"A painfully realistic, spellbinding novel." -- Shelf Awareness

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Black Canary

Dinah Lance - AKA superhero Black Canary - has a slew of appearances in comic books, TV shows and movies, but "Black Canary: Breaking Silence" will be her first novel.

Introduced in 1947 by DC Comics, Black Canary has been a role model for breaking gender barriers and changing Gotham City's laws against women's rights. This novel will also be the first time Black Canary is the main character of an adaptation, with all past appearances as a secondary character to another DC hero.

Author Alexandra Monir has taken on the task of sharing the story of Black Canary as she discovers her superpower: her voice. Using the "canary cry," Black Canary is able to create ultrasonic vibrations when she screams to cause damage to anything in its path, and is a master in several styles of hand-to-hand combat.

Taking place in the near-future under the dictatorship of the Court of Owls, Gotham City has become a society where women are forbidden to further their education or work, even going so far as refusing them the right to create music.

The origin of Black Canary has changed in adaptations over the year - from gaining them after a wizard curses her to being born with the inhuman power - so Monir will be able to begin Dinah's journey in a multitude of ways.

What we do know is that the story will follow Dinah as a 17-year-old student with a goal of taking down the rules that are in place against women. Also featured is her blossoming romance with fellow student Oliver Queen, who DC fans will recognize better by his alter ego, Green Arrow.

As she struggles with her identity in her high school years, Dinah hopes to find her voice and let her song of freedom be loud enough to effect change.

This is the fifth book Random House Books is publishing in the DC Icons series and is scheduled for a Dec. 29 release.


This writing brought to you by Courtney Dobrzykowski

Friday, June 5, 2020

Anti-Racism Books For Teens

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Harlem sophomore Xiomara Batista isn't saintly like her virtuous twin brother. And her tough exterior - she's always ready to fend off unwelcome advances and unkind words - hides questions and insecurities. As her confirmation nears (after two failed attempts), Xiomara begins to voice her uncertainties about the Catholic faith and patriarchal piety pressed on her by her mother and the church.

Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and the Michael L. Printz Award

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds

When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend.

A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book and recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children's Literature

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend - but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

A New York Times Bestseller and a William C. Morris Award Finalist

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.

#1 New York Times Bestseller, Printz Honor Book, and Coretta Scott King Honor Book

Black Enough Edited by Ibi Aanu Zoboi

An essential collection of captivating stories about what it's like to be young and Black in America.

"A breath of fresh air...nuanced and necessary." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Some bodies won't stay buried. Some stories need to be told. When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past...and the present.

A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books of the Year Pick and a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson

Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends on a mission -- they're sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women's Rights club. They post their work online and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by trolls. When things escalate in real life, the principal shuts the club down. Not willing to be silenced, Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices to heard.

2018 Newbery Honor Book and 2018 Coretta Scott King Author Award

How I Resist by Maureen Johnson

A collection of essays, songs, illustrations, and interviews about activism and hope.

"[Maureen Johnson] has done an exceptional job calling on different voices to share their wisdom and thoughts on making a difference." -- School Library Journal

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system.

An American Library Association Notable Book and Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

Stamped by Jason Reynolds

A history of racist and anti-racist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today.

#1 New York Times Bestseller and a USA Today Bestseller

Sunday, May 31, 2020

JK Rowling and The Ickabog

On May 26th, J.K. Rowling announced on Twitter that she would be releasing an unpublished manuscript online, chapter by chapter, every weekday through July 10th.  The Ickabog is a standalone fairy tale and has nothing to do with the Harry Potter universe, according to the bestselling author.

"The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power. To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn't intended to be read as a response to anything that's happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country."

Not only that, The Ickabog will be traditionally published in November 2020, and Rowling is conducting an international competition for children to illustrate it.

"Having decided to publish, I thought how wonderful it would be if children in lockdown, or otherwise needing distraction during the strange and difficult time we're passing through, illustrated the story for me. There will be suggestions about the illustrations we might need for each chapter on The Ickabog website, but nobody should feel constrained by these ideas. I want to see imaginations run wild! Creativity, inventiveness and effort are the most important things: we aren't necessarily looking for the most technical skill!"

Royalties from the sold copies will go to organizations helping those impacted by COVID-19.

Read the Story

Friday, May 29, 2020

Getting to Know...Mady

Introducing another valuable member of our YA volunteer team, Mady Blakely! An 11-year-old 6th grader, Mady has accumulated 19 hours to date.

My Favorite Book Genre: Fiction

Someone I Look Up To: My mom

My Favorite TV Show: The Worst Witch

A Topic That I Can Talk About For An Hour: Iceland

An Invention That I Would Uninvent: Music

Person I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island: Emma

My Happy Place: Home

My Spirit Animal: Bunny

Something Interesting About Myself: I Am Scared of Dogs

Future Plans: I want to be a cartographer.

Favorite Quote: "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." - Theodore Roosevelt