When We Collided by Emery Lord COVER REVEAL!

Do you love Emery Lord?

If you’ve read her first two books: Open Road Summer and The Start of Me & You then you’ll know the answer is obviously YES.  Her books are the exquisite and painful and lovely contemporary stories that are about romance, friendship, healing, and grief. Her work reminds me of early Sarah Dessen – that all too real ache. If you haven’t read them yet, rush out now and buy them/but them on hold at your library.  Then you can love her too.

When I was asked if I wanted an advance read of her next book, When We Collided I said yes faster than I could type the word.  And I read it on a work trip where it consumed my thoughts and made me constantly impatient to get back to reading it.  I held my breath through some parts, waiting for Lord to slip up or for the narrative to take a wrong turn.  But you know what?  It never did.  Not once.  It’s a page turner and a heart stopper and I think teens are going to swoon and sob over it.  I can’t wait for them to read it.

Now aren’t you ready to read the official summary and SEE THE AMAZING COVER?!

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and Jonah’s life suddenly seems brighter, better, and much more colorful. For Vivi, Jonah is the perfect project, her spontaneity balancing out the weight of his reality.

Their love becomes the answer to everything.

But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him. When Vivi and Jonah’s pasts collide with the present, will their love be strong enough to last?

In an emotional and evocative story of new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find love that will change them forever.

WhenWeCollided Cover_cata

Just … wow.  I was so hoping the cover wouldn’t be a photo or a girl in a dress…those work, but not for THIS story. I wanted something that captured Vivi’s spirit and creativity and this is IT. I love the color scheme, I love the watercolor-y handwriting of the title – I just love it all.

Don’t you want to add When We Collided to your GoodReads shelf?!

PLUS!!  IF YOU’RE GOING TO ALA Bloomsbury will have ARCs and I will be constantly reminding you to go ask for one.

You’ll be so glad to meet Vivi and Jonah and share their journey. And you won’t soon forget it.


A Few Recent Storytime Hits

I have many posts in the works that I promise to get posted in May!  BUT I wanted to make sure I got something posted for April so I could keep my streak of posting going. In the spirit of my December post of BOOKS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO I thought a fun and quick post would be a round-up of some books I’ve done in storytime over the past few months that have been really big hits.  I LOVE posts and recommendations on Twitter or Facebook, it always gives me new ideas and is there anything better than finding a new storytime book?  So why not share some of mine? Here’s some of my recent favorites.


How Hippo Says Hello and How Gator Says Good-bye by Abigail Samoun, illustrated by Sarah Watts These simple board books follow animals as they travel the world and learn to say “hello” and “good-bye” in a seven languages from Spanish to Arabic. The pictures share famous landmarks and each page has a simple one word with pronunciation.  I did these as opener/closer for a storytime and my international parents LOVED IT.  One of the moms squeezed her little girl into a joyous hug  with a huge smile when we got to India.  Lots of fun and a great way to introduce new vocabulary and a global touch to storytimes.  Please and Thank You are on the way.


WazDot? written and illustrated by Michael Slack A deceptively simple book about a little alien who finds himself on a farm this actually appealed to a huge range of kids. Kids LOVE guessing books and in this one they get to see outlined shadows to predict what will be on the next page.  My little kids loved it and the slightly older toddlers loved the noises and reactions from the little alien.  And they allllllll loved saying “Wazzzzzzzzz dot?!” as we turned the pages. The alien runs off from his school again (“Ooooh!” they whispered) and heads to  … town, leaving my kids begging for the sequel.


Why Are You Doing That? by Elisa Amado, illustrated bu Manuel Monroy Another predictive text with a few more words, this one still worked with a large age range.  A little boy named Chepito wanders around his house and neighborhood and asks the adults who are feeding chickens, tilling soil, and making food, “Why are you doing that?” The kids loved talking about what they saw and hearing the answers.  In our smaller town, it was great to have a book with a rural setting (“do you know anyone who raises their own chickens?”) and of course the diversity of the characters and their world was a big plus.  Lots of fun to pause and ask “And what do you think Chepito asked?” you can imagine what they shouted back!


Edgar’s Second Word by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Priscilla Burris This is a book I used with our older storytime session since it’s slightly longer.  Our older session (Ready, Set, Read) is for kids 4-7 so they are ready for longer stories with more plots, so this was a perfect fit.  Poor Hazel, her baby brother Edgar isn’t fun at all – he cries and throws fits and never wants to play.  But maybe Edgar is paying more attention (as he grows) than Hazel expects. The kids and parents both loved this – from seeing Edgar misbehave to the cute illustrations.  And, naturally, when Edgar says his second word and he and Hazel share a moment of sibling closeness, EVERYONE was grinning.  Big and little sibling loved this one.  It was part of a sibling storytime that was a lot of fun.

very big carrot

The Very Big Carrot written and illustrated by Satoe Tone The only problem with this book was the size – it’s a little smaller than a traditional picture book, but the illustrations are so luscious and detailed and weird. I took the time to walk it through the crowd. Some rabbits find a VERY BIG CARROT and can’t figure out what to do with it.  Should they make it into a plane? A beautiful house?  What if they …. “EAT IT! EAT IT! EAT IT!” screamed every kid in the room.  This was a nice treat in a bunny storytime.

bears bath

Bears in the Bath by Shirley Parenteau, illustrated by David Walker If you’re not using the BEARS series in storytime, you’re missing out.  So far there’s Bears on Chairs, Bears in Bed, and Bears and a Birthday.  They are fun, short, rhyming books about a set of four bears who make trouble.  The bears are each easily identified by color and the text is predictive and the right amount of silly. I used this one as part of a bath storytime (the older kids also got really into Who’s in the Tub by Sylvie Jones – but the younger ones didn’t quite get that one) and it was a big hit because of the muddy bears who just DON’T want a bath.  ALL of these books are great for storytime: the rhyme, the easy to fit multiple themes, the bears, the colors all lend themselves to re-telling and easy audience participation.4

SO!  There are just a few of my recent storytime hits – a few surprises (that weird carrot book!) with some familiar faces (the bears are back!) It’s always fun to try to figure out what worked with each crowd and why AND to take some chances to see how books will come alive with different ages and crowds.  That’s the magic of storytime and learning and learning every time.

What are some of YOUR recent storytime successes?  What are some books that surprised you or new books that worked in great ways?  Are there books you are looking forward to sharing? I think knowing what other people have used/tried/succeeded with (and even sometimes failed with…) in their real-life storytimes is the BEST kind of sharing and the BEST way to find new material, so I’d love to hear from you about some of your recent experiences. Leave a comment here or chat with me on Twitter.


10 Books You Can’t Miss in 2015

Where does the time go?  Can it possibly already be the twilight of 2014?  I have lots of posts planned – and even some started – but the chaos of December sneaked up on me while my back was turned.  BUT I promised myself I would try to post at least once a month no matter what and if I managed to keep that promise during SUMMER READING I sure couldn’t break it now.  Frantic for an interesting idea I could put together in not a ton of time, my lovely and dear friend Amy suggested a post of titles I’m looking forward to in 2015. Now, since I love talking about what I’m reading and lately I’m reading SO MANY upcoming titles I realized this was a perfect idea to get OTHERS reading them, talking about them, and getting them on their own radars. As Hans Landa would say: THAT’S A BINGO!

One (happy) disclaimer: you’ll notice there are no titles on the list that contain queer themes.  This is because in January, I will begin serving a 2 year term on the Stonewall Book Awards Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children & Young Adult’s Book Award Committee.  This has seriously been one of my life-long librarian goals and I am so excited to begin this work!  But it also means I can’t publicly discuss eligible material.

These will all (well, OK fine with one exception) be titles I have already read and loved.  Almost all of them I downloaded as digital galleys thanks to NetGalley or Edelweiss, which means YOU can go there and request them too!  Which you should!  Immediately! (thanks to all publishers who put electronic galleys up on these sites – it makes reading/reviewing so much easier.  Please continue to do this, especially making it available for us to read on an eReader device!) These aren’t full reviews, just a few sentences about why I think you should have this book on your TBR pile.  Mostly YA with a handful of other titles mixed in.  And, of course, I still have SO MUCH to read. (and I’m always up for suggestions, of course.)

So: with grateful, joyous thanks to anyone who read this blog during 2014 and a promise that I will keep sharing and writing in 2015 – onward to the list of titles you need to get on your 2015 radar NOW!

Bone Gap
by Laura Ruby (out 3/15) I don’t even know where to begin with this one other than I have never read another YA book like this.  It is a dark, lyrical magical realism story about how women, in particular, learn that they are more than their faces.  It’s atmospheric, brilliantly structured, scary, romantic, and empowering.  I think teens are going to be drawn to everything different about this one. A tour de force.


All the Rage by Courtney Summers (out 4/15) With no hyperbole: this book is going to become this generation’s Speak.  This is going to be the book that gets passed around from girl to girl, that gets pressed into hands with a whispered, “I know what this means.”  I’m not going to tell you this is an easy read, I’m not going to tell you it’s for everyone.  I am going to tell you that for some teens – this book will save their life.  And I mean it.

anna banana

Anna, Banana and the Friendship Split by Anica Mrose Rissi (out 5/15) Rissi begins a wonderful new early readers series in this story about two third grade best friends and their fight.  Transitional chapter book readers are one of the genres we get asked for the most at my library and everything about this book is going to be a hit with the kids: Anna’s warm, vulnerable, relatable voice, the small details that turn your third grade world, and even the sadness and anger that grown-ups often ignore in this age group.  And did I mention there’s a delightful multi-cultural cast?


The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman (out 5/15) I HATE fictional worlds where there is no consequence to magic.  And that’s part of the reason I love this book so much: there are spells here, that will do big and huge things but they come at a very steep cost for everyone in involved.  How much would you exchange for the chance to forget pain?  To keep your friends close? What would you think about the person who could do this magic?  Fantastic world-building and amazing character voice make this one stand out.  One of the best read-alikes for The Curseworkers I’ve found – magic isn’t easy because life isn’t easy.

roller girl

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (out 3/15) It’s finally here!  The book you’ll give to your readers after they’ve read all your Raina Telgemeier books so many times they have them memorized and they NEED something new. A beautiful, funny, empowering middle grade look at finding your path and the inner strength to be your own weird self  with awesome, athletic girls and women everywhere … I mean, what’s not to love? This will NEVER be on the shelves. (PS: my boyfriend the roller derby ref read this in one sitting, laughing with the delight the whole way.  Two thumbs up from him!)

0714AR2The Whisper by Aaron Starmer (out 3/15) I promised myself I wasn’t going to include ANY sequels on this list because that’d be a whole other list. BUT Y’ALL.  This book is the sequel to The Riverman and if you haven’t read that you should immediately stop reading this and go get The Riverman, start reading, and let it give you wild dreams. These two books exemplify one of my favorite things: high middle grade. And, better still, they are the kind of books that feel just right for how weird and scary and ever-changing it is to be a kid … and then you read them as an adult and see they’re scary as HELL.  Seriously.  Go.  Get it now. (best read-alike I’ve ever found for Coraline.)


Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (out 3/15) Another totally original voice and an experience unlike any I’ve ever had in YA.  THIS is what I’m talking about, people.  I loved that everyone in this book is a complicated character who doesn’t exist in shades of black and white, I love that another culture is given such breath, depth, and caring. I love that this is a book that will ask teens to look deeply into BIG questions. This book was wrenching and heart-fulling to read.  Nalia is the YA heroine we’ve been missing and I’m so glad the whole world will get to meet her soon.


The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh (out 1/15) Such original, funny, sweet middle grade that the narrative complexity of the text and the emotional growth of the characters sort of sneaks up on you.  I LOVE this kind of writing, this kind of depth, and I think it’s the kind that really engages middle grade readers and starts getting them ready for YA.  Just wonderful.  And I LOVE the way Yeh handles and addresses class issues and non-traditional family structure, two more things we need to see LOTS more of.

painted sky

Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (out 3/15) Everything I never knew I always wanted – that’s a lie, I always knew I wanted this.  I always knew that YA historical fiction was missing more complicated, exciting adventures for people of color and TA-DAH, Stacey Lee has given us just that.  This is another one that I think does a great job mixing readability (it’s a page turner) with literary merit. I yearned and dreamed and fought with these characters and I missed them when the book was over.  This is a fantastic debut that has SO MUCH going on – but it never feels like too much, Lee is THAT good.

And … the one I haven’t read yet but I am SO excited for that I think might actually pass out …


Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (out 6/15) Magical powers in a city!  A female lead who makes art, fights evil, and wields ancient powers. EVIL GENTRIFYING ANTHROPOLOGISTS WHO CO-OPT CULTURES! Was this book made just for me?! I mean for the love of God, look at the cover.  Also, I love-love-love Older’s adult short fiction so I can’t wait to see what he has in store for YA.


What fun!  I still had more books to talk about …. so you know that means I’ve just gotta do another one!  Now you tell me: which 2015 books should I put on my radar now?  Leave me a comment or talk to me on Twitter