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Jacqueline Woodson Named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Jacqueline Woodson, author of the Newbery Medal and National Book Award winning novel Brown Girl Dreaming, has been named the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. 

Jacqueline will spend the next two years as ambassador traveling nationwide promoting her platform, "READING = HOPE x CHANGE (What's Your Equation?)," which encourages young people to think about "the moment they're living in, the power they possess, and the impact reading can have on showing them ways in which they can create the hope and the change they want to see in the world."

The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature program was founded in 2008 and "highlights the importance of young people's literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people." Previous ambassadors were Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, Walter Dean Myers, Kate DiCamillo and most recently, local author and illustrator Gene Luen Yang.

Congratulations Jacqueline. We look forward to seeing your amazing work! 

See the original Shelf Awareness article and learn more about Jacqueline Woodson and her role as The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. 



Teen Advisory Board Reviews- Ava

The following Review is by Teen Advisory Board President, Ava.

Ava is 14 years old and her favorite books include Under a Painted Sky, Outrun the Moon, and Graceling. 

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

"In Mackenzie Lee’s novel The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Henry “Monty” Montague, the protagonist, sets out on a final adventure around Europe with his friend and his sister. But when a gang of bandits attack them, the Grand Tour soon becomes a mission to end the evils that threaten their lives. At the same time, Monty must deal with his developing feelings for his best friend, who he may never see again.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is for fans of My Lady Jane. With larger than life characters, Lee knows how to make them realistic, illustrating both strengths and flaws that make them human. The character arcs flow smoothly and satisfy even the most reluctant of readers. 

Lee perfectly fits together words into action-packed sentences. The vivid descriptions of the character traits and setting paint clear pictures when read and never cease to stop until the very last page. I especially love the dialogue! Wit is sprinkled throughout the pages in the characters’ speech, and no extraneous words clog up the sentences.

Overall, if you want a book with great characters often underrepresented in YA, look no further! Lee is a great writer, and I will read any book she throws my way!"

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Viture is in stores now! 

Teen Advisory Board Reviews- Emily

The following books were reviewed by Teen Advisory Board Member Emily.

Emily is 14 and her favorite books include, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

All We Can Do Is Wait by Richard Lawson

All We Can Do Is Wait by Richard Lawson 

"In the aftermath of the collapse of a bridge, a group of teens meet in the waiting room of Massachusetts General Hospital. Jason and Alexa are siblings, whose relationship is rocky at best. Scott’s relationship with his girlfriend, Aimee, is… complicated, but he knows if he can just talk to her then everything will be okay. Skyler’s sister, Kate, has been her support system ever since her mom abandoned the two of them. As for Morgan, well, her dad hasn’t been okay for awhile. As these teens come to grips with the tragedy that has been forced upon them, tension is high, and age-old secrets and guilt will resurface.


All We Can Do Is Wait is heart-wrenching as you watch each character begin to grieve, regardless of how the victim they were waiting for turns out in the end. Every character is complex, engaging, and likeable. The story is told like a thriller, with each character’s backstory being revealed as the story progresses. As the reader gets closer and closer to the big reveal, secrets and guilt surface, causing each character to react in different ways. Alexis, Jason, Skyler, Scott, and Morgan each have their own developed backstory, and, since the story is told through flashbacks while simultaneously moving through the present, each person’s reaction is justified by their history. All We Can Do Is Wait covers important topics, like love, loss, and growing up, and readers will be quickly drawn to the main characters."


When My Heart Joins the Thousand by A. J. Steiger

When My Heart Joins the Thousand by A.J. Steiger

"Alvie Foster is a seventeen-year-old girl with Asperger’s who forms better relationships with the animals at the zoo she works at than other people. For now, Alvie struggles to survive until her eighteenth birthday without any severe accidents happening. If she makes it, she’ll be free to live on her own as an adult, but, should she fail, she’ll be sent back to the group home and become a ward of the state. When she meets Stanley, a boy who might be even stranger than her, Alvie finds herself getting close to him- too close. As her relationship with Stanley becomes more complicated, Alvie is forced to confront the demons in her past and maybe, just maybe, find hope for the future.


            Told in first person POV, When My Heart Joins the Thousand is an honest and haunting book that provides readers with an immersive introduction to a person with autism. Alvie is a funny and lovable main character, who readers can’t help but root for. Stanley is patient and understanding, in a world where Alvie has yet to have met anyone like that. Alvie and Stanley are the ultimate underdogs, and the reader can’t help but fall in love with them. Despite this, Alvie and Stanley both have flaws and insecurities, and each is equally afraid of hurting the other. As their relationship develops, they begin to reveal more about themselves to one another, which will force them both out of their comfort zone. Over the course of the book, Alvie has flashbacks to her childhood that eventually lead up to the traumatic event that led Alvie to pursue her goal of emancipation in the first place. As the reader learns more about Alvie’s past, Stanley learns of it at the same time. When My Heart Joins the Thousand takes the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions, with some truly dark scenes featured in the climax of the book. Nonetheless, the character development Alvie and Stanley go through within the story leads to an extremely satisfying ending that dismantles the stigma surrounding autism."


Both All We Can Do is Wait and When My Heart Joins the Thousand will be available February 6th 


Tony’s Best Friend

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, is a wonderful, bittersweet farewell.  Inspiration for this drink comes from the piece titled Memorial, where our narrator wonders how he can be considered Tony’s best friend because he hardly knew him.  Tony, recently deceased, possibly Greek, defintiely a painter, is answering no more questions.  Mr. Johnson, with few words, again leaves much for us to consider.

Tony's Best Friend

2 oz Metaxa
1 Barspoon Ouzo 
1 Sugar Cube
Lemon Peel for Garnish

Saturate sugar cube with Ouzo at the bottom of a glass.
Muddle until sugar dissolves. Add Metaxa. Stir. Add ice, stir until chilled.
Twist lemon over the drink and drop peel into the glass.