There's No Place Like Home…

Cindy and Lynn: We are safely home from #alaac14 and all we can say, is that if we ever have to return to Las Vegas for an ALA conference, we want a super hero like Gene Luen Yang’s The Shadow Hero to accompany us. You’ll have to get the stories from others. Forget the cliche, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” the truth for us is that  we just hope to purge that experience from our memories…on to good books and what we read on the plane ride to home, sweet, home.

YaquiCindy: I started the flight by finishing a 2013 title that I had started before conference, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Candlewick). We had forgotten to do the 24 hour advance check in for our Southwest flight and with  C44 and C45 boarding passes knew we were not destined to sit together and would be squished into middle seats. I figured Meg Medina’s title would give me wide berth with my seat mates! No one would dare hog the arm rests when they saw what I was reading, right? Seriously, I just was eager to finish this fabulous story about bullying and so much more. Lynn blogged it as a solo last fall and you can read her thorough description and critique through the linked title above. I’m sorry that it took me so long to get to it but I’m glad that I finally did and I’ll be ready for the CCBC-net discussion of this title set to run the week of July 28. My middle school counselor loved this book and has used it with some of our 8th grade girls. There are a few matures scenes in the book and of course the realistic and appropriate title that will land this book mostly in public teen library or high school collections, but I am contemplating adding it to my middle school collection rather than just having copies in the counselor’s office now that I’ve read it. I’ll definitely want to have a discussion with my principal, but Medina’s book has so much to say to young women in this book that it is worth the “fight” to include it for my teens who will not be shocked by the title or the content. Piddy thinks back to her mother’s thoughtful comment, “The question is, What kind of person will you be?” Her aunt, Lila, has other advice for surviving tough school situations, including bullying:

It’s you that has the real strength in all this, Piddy. You just don’t know it yet. One day you’ll be so far from Parsons Boulevard, you’ll think you dreamed this hellhole. Her aspirations for me are blinking above like fireflies just out of reach.

Many of us felt the same way as we walked the strip…we’ll think we dreamed that hellhole.

Joey PigzaAfter turning the last page in Yaqui Delgado, I started The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza, Jack Gantos’ fifth and final book in the Joey series, says the advanced reader copy I was eager to pick up from the Farrar booth. Joey’s missing dad has had appearance-altering plastic surgery and his mother has had a baby and is suffering from postpartem depression and Joey is once again trying to hold things together in his family. We will probably have more to say about this book later in the summer; it publishes in early September and all of the books in the series have new cover art by Lane Smith.

Lynn:  One of my missions at this conference was to get my hands on a copy of Garth Nix’s Clariel (Harper, Oct. 2014) and the Harper people made me a happy soul!  So that is what I plunged into on the flight home.  It is every bit as good as I had hoped and I am only 30 pages from the end.  I’d be finished except I came home to full days with the older focus group and it’s been nonstop Clarielbiking, swimming and activities.  I reread the entire series recently but this is so good I am yearning to start all over again.

There are a couple of other treasures tempting me though.  Jandy Nelson has a new book called I’ll Give You the Sun (Penguin/Dial Sept. 2014).  I loved her writing in the The Sky is Everywhere (Penguin/Dial).  This new one is told in the two voices of a pair of twins, once incredibly close but three years later, barely speaking.  Can’t wait to read this!

Also high on my stack is Strike:  The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights (Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek Oct. 2014) by Larry Dane Brimner.  This is a high interest topic for me as our area depends heavily on migrant workers and many of the families have settled Strikehere.  I especially admired Brimner’s book Black & White (Boyds Mills 2011) so I am really looking forward to his work here.

And lastly,  it’s important to note that we loved the conference itself with all the amazing events and catching up with friends.  We just hope it is never in that unmentionable location again!  Have I mentioned that a glass of low-end white wine was $20 in our hotel????




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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