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Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Fans of the Impossible LifeFans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This debut novel by Kate Scelsa will be a sure winner with teens! As you become ensconced in the tricky lives of Mira, Sebby, and Jeremy you root for these troubled adolescents whose worlds are in trouble as they find and protect one another. I loved Sebby's quote mirroring the book's title (p. 116), "May we live impossibly. Against all odds. May people look at us and wonder how such jewels can sparkle in the sad desert of the world. May we live the impossible life." I loved their personalities, their strong support for each other, and their insecurities. Mira, Sebby and Jeremy needed each other desperately but also recognized they would need to stand on their own two feet at some point to survive. A novel many teens will identify with; highly recommended.

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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many, many thanks to Penguin Group, Penguin Young Readers Group, Philomel Books and Net Galley for ARC of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. I just can’t stop gushing out this book! This masterful work of historical fiction is another excellent title BOTH adult and YA readers will want to read and not be able to put down!!! The young adult characters alternating their stories at the end of World War II all have secrets to hide yet they strive to survive and return to their homelands. My heart broke as I followed Joana, Florian, and Emilia with the masses of refugees who board the Wilhelm Gustloff ship. Joana is a Lithuanian nurse tortured by guilt. Florian is a Prussian with secrets and regrets but also an unwilling hunter and a reluctant hero. Emilia in her bright pink woolen cap, is a Polish girl fierce in loyalty and bravery. As their stories blend together, the reader lives their harsh reality of war, regret, and dreams. Ruta Sepetys takes a little known horrendous incident and crafts a mighty story you can’t put down; many times you will want to turn away from the horrors that are visited on poor innocents but the reader is engulfed in a story about war, it’s brutality, inhumanity and ultimately hope. Please read the Author Note for Ruta Sepetys’ insight and research on this little known incident in WW II history; it is essential to understanding the story. This is my new favorite book of hers, but I still love Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy!!! Ruta Sepetys is such a great historical fiction author who intricately weaves family, politics, war, love, and friendship into a sweeping story that will change the reader; it changed me. Look for this book February 2016, highly recommended.

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Urban/Street Literature Anxiety

I am a second-year public high school librarian in a suburban district serving a high population of kids who are "street savvy," listen to rap/hip hop, and express themselves using profanities as they cruise the hallways.  The descriptor is important because I need feedback regarding the place - if there is one - urban/street literature has in a public high school.

I picked up a title one student went on and on about and started getting itchy on page six and had a full-blown anxiety attack by page nine!   The story, at least the few pages I read, had lots of frank talk about sex and an abundance of profanity.  As one librarian noted, "...urban fiction focuses on the struggles of mostly young black men and women whose lives have been touched by crime and violence..."  I can see the book being checked out a lot because it offers what many students would see as their reality.  I have purchased the Port City High" and "Bluford" series that I would call Urban Lit Lite.

Censorship is a big deal for me.  Censorship might not be as big a deal to some parents or the Administration!  Do any of you offer titles from this list at your urban public high school?  Goodreads Hottest Urban Fiction  If so, what is your experience with it/them?

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It's Not A Book!

Word On The Street is a fantastic literacy festival that our team at Brainspace attends every year.

Since our inception back in June 2013, we've enjoyed meeting readers and seeing young faces light up when we demonstrate the augmented reality in our magazine. "Yes, thank you. It is a very smart magazine." "We do raise the bar on content for children. We think our audience is very capable and enjoys the opportunity to learn." Parents, teachers and librarians are always excited about what we're up to.

This year, a youngish man (early 30s) challenged us. In the nicest possible way. "So, why is this better than say going to the library?" I truly didn't know where to begin. In my mind, he was comparing apples and oranges. As my mind was recalculating the information to deliver an appropriate response, he asked again. "I mean, why wouldn't they just get all the information about something in a book?" Ah. Of course. This is the generation that has become accustomed to having a world of resources at their fingertips within seconds.

"You're right. A book is far more comprehensive than this is." I conceded. "However, our children don't necessarily want to know everything about every topic." I went on to explain that magazines serve a purpose. Consider it an appetizer to the main course. Magazines pique the palate and books nourish the need for more. Our articles provide a sample menu of subjects and delve into each area with just enough to tempt the palate to stimulate the craving for more. Does everyone enjoy math? I'd like to say yes but we know that some prefer music or history or something else. Does our article on robotics make anyone an expert after reading. Not a chance! But they may want to become experts. Bring on the books and the guidance to support the next engineer! 

At the risk of sounding like a child stomping her feet, magazines aren't and shouldn't be mere fluff for kids! They can be more than puzzles and games that serve as a distraction. A good magazine should tempt the mind, provoke thought and inspire greater learning.

Appetizers anyone?

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