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So Mask Magazine is a “Reader Supported, Ad-free, Style + Culture for the Disappointed Generation” online publication. I know the editors, started subscribing and have really enjoyed it. I suggest you check it out as well. I was asked to write a buying guide of youth lit for it, and promptly and excitedly threw this thing together. Check it out, get some books to some kids or something!

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If you cared to go back into my display history (It’s easy to do just select “my job: displays” on the pull down menu on the left) you will see that nerd displays are a reoccurring theme in my library career. A fact that did not occur to me when I was putting this display together… I wonder what that reflects about me… However this is the first time that I’ve made a nerdy library display that went along with strictly nerdy themed books, so yeah still a first for me!

I choose like 2 of these books from my own knowledge and memory, but mostly they came from Chicopee Public Library’s Geek Out! Teens & Tech Book List. It’s a long and varied list with books almost any reader would be excited about.

The inspiration for the Pac Man board came from this collection of creative bulletin board ideas. I did it all free hand, except the eyes which were made with a giant hole punch and I printed then cut out the cherries (which ended up being such small and delicate shapes it didn’t save me anytime).

Graceling-RealmI want everyone to read these books, so I can talk to everybody about them!  They’re fantastic feminist fantasy (#fff could we get that started?) stories. They have enough story building to keep you immersed, but not so much that you get bogged down; they have amazing character development and totally enthralling relationships; and all while leaving me feel stoked and even empowered by how the interactions play out: They’re a dream come true to feminist fantasy readers. Since I’m so in love with this series it’s a fairly long blog post so feel free to jump to: my thoughts on Graceling, my thoughts on Fire, my thoughts on Bitterblue, or tl;dr

So, it starts with Graceling which tells the story of Katsa (Graceling came out before Hunger Games so it is NOT a Katniss rip off). In Katsa’s world gracelings are people who special abilities, these graces can be anything from good tree climbing to extra strength to physic abilities. You can tell gracelings apart because they all have two different colored eyes. Katsa is and graceling with an innate ability to kill, and because of her grace her king forces her to be a thug who enforces his rule, and she hates its. To rebel she created The Council, an underground network of people committed to thwarting the evil kings who rule the Seven Kingdoms. It’s pretty awesome.

Katsa being a rebel leader is totally effing cool, but for me, it’s only the beginning of the awesomeness. The rest of the Graceling review is going to be a bunch of spoilers, so read on at your own risk. Katsa discovers what her grace is when a creepy noble man makes crude remarks and then tries to touch Katsa, so she thrusts her hand at his faceand accidentally splinters his nose bone into his brain. Because that happens other people decide her grace must be killing, and that’s how she sees herself: a murderous monster. But throughout the narrative as she tells that story to different people, and more and more of her grace is shown (she can carry a man her own size up a long flight of stairs, she can make her body sleep or wake on command, she can start fires with wet kindling) it becomes clear that her grace isn’t killing at all: it’s survival. When she defended herself as a child from a man’s unwanted attention she was seen as a monster or a killer, when in reality she is a survivor. This revelation is thrill to read, and an important message I wish more people learned.

Another thing I love about this book is the romantic relationship she develops with a prince nick named Po. Katsa isn’t looking for love and is annoyed when it finds her in Po, mainly because she doesn’t want to get married and marriage is the only option she thinks is available. Katsa doesn’t want to marry Po because no matter how much freedom he allowed her he would always be giving her the freedom, it wouldn’t just be her own. But Katsa isn’t forced to chose between love and independence, Po suggests that they can still be together without getting married. This blows Katsa mind and allows her to create a partnership with Po on her own terms. And when they start having sex her takes herbs to prevent pregnancy, so you know, it promotes birth control. It’s incredibly refreshing and exciting, and allows feminist readers to just fall in love with the characters and enjoy the love story (which feminists want too sometimes!).

Another thing I adore about these books is that Katsa notices as she travels throughout the Seven Kingdoms that women and girls do not know how to defend themselves. It’s generally assumed that men and boys will look after females they’re related to, so when women and girls are harassed or attacked on their own they have no tools to fight back with. Katsa sees this obvious problem and starts teach women and girl’s how to fight, across the Seven Kingdoms,  both hand to hand and with different weapons!

The second book in the Graceling Realm series is Fire. Fire takes place in the same fantasy universe but on the other side of a very large mountain range, so they kingdoms don’t know about each other and it’s almost a different world. In this world there are not gracelings but there are monsters. Monsters exist in all species, they are exactly like their average animal counterpart except they are radiant bright colors, and they have seductive abilities. the main character of this book is named Fire, she is the last human monster, and she is named for her brilliantly bright red/orange/yellow/pink hair. Fire’s abilities allow her to sense other’s minds and with weak minded people suggest ideas and even control their actions.

(spoilers ahead, be warned) Monster abilities also make them disturbingly attractive, which in the animal kingdom makes the normal creature easy prey, but in Fire’s life puts her in danger. Fire’s monster attractiveness is a fairly spot on metaphor for gendered violence in contemporary society. Fire does everything she can to conceal her monster features, but no matter how she dresses weak minded people still flock to her. These people exhibit all types of behavior from gaping, fist fights against each other for her hand in marriage, and violence towards her. At one point of the book she’s traveling with an army across the country, and plays her violin during the nights; one day she comes back to camp to discover that a soldier smashed her violin to smithereens. She cries and blames herself her tempting him by playing it, but her friend and guard Musa assures her that is wasn’t her fault, is was his choice and his action. Fire drawing attention to herself and her instrument was not cause her someone to attack her or her belongings. Which is a theme the book returns to frequently, Fire is a supernaturally irresistible babe, and men can control control themselves around her, because that’s their responsibility.

Fire starts the book in a romantic/sexual relationship with a friend named Archer (in which she uses herbal birth controll), which she has to carefully negotiate because he has grown to be possessive of her. Throughout the story she asserts her independence in the relationship, she decides to travel multiple times despite Archer’s insistence that such things are unsafe. She aides an army in battle without telling him because she knows he would stop her. She continues to create and maintain relationships with people outside of Archer despite his jealousy. And all of these things she does that she decides are safe or worth while for her to do turn out ok, sometimes they are dangerous, sometimes she needs help, but she’s never shown as someone who should have listened to her man. She knows what she can handle and we trust her to make her own judgments. Ultimately after living a way from Archer for a few months when he comes to visit she breaks the romantic relationship with him off.

Another thing I love that Fire adds to the Graceling Realm is a femme and physically vulnerable heroine. Katsa , who is wonderful and I LOVE her, has strengths that aren’t necessarily relatable to many women: she can defend herself against anything that would do her harm. Fire doesn’t have that advantage, Fire can be hurt by people bigger and stronger then her, much like me and all other women I know. But Fire isn’t a wuss or a weakling (again, like most women I know) she has limitations, but she’s smart resourceful and knows how to use weapons. She defends herself from undesired romantic advances by stating boundaries, using her monster powers (when they can aide her), closing doors on men, and asking for help when she needs it. I am eternally enchanted by fiction stories the show different female presentations, and different ways women can be strong.

The last book in the series is Bitterblue. Bitterblue is the name of a young queen on the Garceling/Katsa side of the giant mountain range, who has no fantastic powers, and is trying to help her kingdom as they recover from a shared trauma. Her father, the ruler of the kingdom before her, had a grace that made people believe whatever he said; he would do horrible things and then make people forget them/think that they wanted them/or think that someone else had done them. So Bitterblue has a nearly impossible task of moving her kingdom forward with different groups of people having opposite ideas of how to do that, on top of  shorting though her own mangled memories, and like dating and having friends and stuff.

(spoilers ahead beware) So these books subscribe to the notion that what kingdoms need are good leaders, it’s shown throughout the first two books but we’re far more deeply immersed in that idea as Bitterblue struggles to be a good leader. This won’t be problematic to everyone, but it’s one of my least favorite parts as an Anarchist. I also know many leftist don’t like children’s stories casting royalty as heroes. To quote The Coup “Tell your teacher princesses are evil / that got their money cuz they killed people.” What I enjoy about her queenly struggles is how she comes to consciousness with how privileged she is, and how many people make her castle work and thus her lifestyle work. While reading about a queen coming to understand her privilege may not be super rad to all readers, I think it’s awesome that Cashore takes the time to explain how the castle works, who the castle employees, and all the many workers it takes for these fairy tales to happen. I also think for a privileged reader coming to consciousness with Bitterblue about how fricking lucky she is to want for nothing would be a pretty important read.

Despite this story being about #RoyaltyProblems it might actually be my favorite. Just because the scope of the book is so big. Dealing with entire country healing from such travesty, every character you meet is trying to deal with their own painful past. And it’s only through the telling of the narrative everyone’s stories are peeled back and revealed. The horrible things Bitterblue’s father did hurt everyone from distant farmers, to his advisors, to his family. And the effects this harm did still have hold on the kingdom today. What I think is brilliant about this book is the journey Bitterblue must go through to cut thought the layers of deception that are drawn around her, to keep her ignorant about how bad things still are in her kingdom.

What Bitterblue ultimately learns is that people close to her in the palace were working actively not only to keep her in dark, but to kill others that would try and bring the truth of her father’s reign to light, because they are culpable. These men who were terrorized and are now broken by the former king’s rule also helped him hurt others. These men who love Bitterblue and who Bitterblue loves, were forced into doing terrible things, and now would go to any lengths to stop those truths from coming to light. It’s heart breaking and it’s complicated and it’s incredibly realistic.

But it’s not just a downer book. It’s a story about resilience and varied resistance. It’s a story about friendship, truth, and healing. It’s a story where you see the benefits of Katsa’s fight lessons as Bitterblue defends herself. It’s a story where Bitterblue is given birth control herbs by multiple women in her life before she needs them. It’s a story where Bitterblue sleeps with a boy she doesn’t love because she wants to. It’s a story where punitive responses to crimes are shown as cruel and stopped. It’s a story with rich complicated characters who you cannot judge by their first appearance. It’s also a story where I think Cashore realized that she hadn’t written any gay characters into the previous books so every single possible side character is gay. But more then anything I think it is a story about love, how it comes in a myriad of forms and can sustain us even when it hurts us.

tl;dr these books have amazing messages:

  • Women can have varied gender presentation
  • Women can be strong in a myriad of ways
  • Women form underground rebel groups
  • Women have sex when they want, with birth control
  • Women can form romantic relationships on their own terms
  • Women who defend themselves aren’t monsters but survivors
  • Women teach each other how to fight and defend themselves
  • Men are responsible for their actions towards women
  • Women can make their own decisions about what risks they are willing to take
  • Men who try and control their partners should be dumped
  • Privilege is real and needs to be examined and recognized
  • Survivor’s stories must be told for healing to happen
  • Evil is complicated and can come from people you are close to and love

Please. Dear God. Read them.

I’ve been slacking on posting my displays. Eeek! So here’s the last three I’ve done:

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I’d seen a few different examples of color based book displays. I LOVE color coordinated bookshelves (for small personal collections, of course) and also enjoyed the simplistically beautiful idea of a color coordinated book display. AND it was the perfect book display to maintain during the summer, I just walked down the YA shelves and pulled blue books, easy, squeezy, back to SRPeasy!

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I made this one mid September. I had been trying to get a teen volunteer to do it since July, as soon as pride month was over, I’m anti-ghettoizing <insert marginalized group here> to their history (or in this case Pride) Month. She came up with the wording, but was always whisked away to a more important job before she could execute it. So I did it. It was colorful. I also included every YA nonfic title I could find, because some kids will be looking for resources beyond narrative.

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Here’s the one I just put up today! So while I would have wanted to leave up the Queer display for a full month, kid’s are ALWAYS asking for scary books. With October coming up I thought I’d give myself and the staff a break and meet a very real reader’s advisory need. The web’s easy to make, use a stapler and some yarn, make an x then a +, then spiral another piece of yarn around them. The letters were free hand, that was also easy for me- but I also find free handing block letters easy, so, grain of salt- just draw your block letters and then draw drips coming off the bottom and sides.

 

Book displays! I love ’em!

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I made a birthday card for one of our shelfers. One of my co-workers had found a picture of a gameboy birthday card online and asked if I thought I could make one (there were no instructions), and I gave it a shot.

What you need:

  • One piece of construction paper, color of your choosing
  • One 1/2 page print out of a Game Boy
  • A glue stick
  • Scissors
  • A black marker
  • A pixelated font or font generator

Fold the construction paper in half, like a hamburger.

Cut out the black pieces of the Game Boy, so: the direction pad, the A key, the B key, the screen, the select button, and the start button. Cut out the middle part of the screen so it’s a window.

Use a word processor and your pixalated font, or your font generator, to write out your card’s message in about the size of the screen’s window. Print it out, trace the outside of the screen (not the inside window, the black outline), cut the message out, then use your glue stick to attach it inside the the screen.

Glue your printed out pieces onto the construction paper at about the same spacing as the Game Boy (have the photo up as reference if you don’t have it memorized, that’s what I did). Then make the speaker holes with your black marker: start with the center, a square of four dots, then draw a square of dots around the last square over and over again until you think it’s about the correct size, then leave the corner dots off the last layer of the dots to give it that rounded look.

Then there’s the inside of the card. Since I had already written happy birthday on the outside I needed a new message… so I went for the contra code:

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It’s easy enough to make yourself with arrows and a pixalated font. But I have it formatted correctly in a .doc file so feel free to download it and use it if you want. Cut this piece out so you like the margins and glue it on the right side of the inside of the card.

And BAM that’s it!

Let me know if you have any questions, this is my first tutorial and I’m not sure how clear I was.

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Today an essay I wrote about this really great article by Tunette Powell and the causally racist responses it got when I posted it to the Storytime Underground facebook group got published on Storytime Underground‘s website. It’s a challenge to all of us White educators to think about how, even though none of us want to, we all have internalized racism; and if we really want that to change we need to acknowledge it, and actively work on it. I’m pretty proud of it and really greatful I had a few amazing friends to help me edit it. Please check it out here.

I also want to give a shout-out to Storytime Underground, which is an AMAZING resource for early childhood librarians; and also who sought me and other writers this week to engage in this topic when they saw the disparaging comments on facebook.  MAJOR thanks to Amy Koester the Storytime Underground founder, please check out her blog as it’s another incredible resource for librarians and other child care providers!

So I’m doing a femme edition of gender fluid kid’s books because books about gender nonconforming kids exploring masculinity or androgyny have not been available through any of the library systems I’ve had cards at. I have every  intention of creating a masculine and an androgynous edition of this blog post, if I can find and purchase relevant books, so please let me know about books that fit the bill!

My Princess Boy, by Cheryl Kilodavis

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My Princess boy is an absolutely fantastic book! It’s a nonfiction picture book written by a mother of a feminine boy, and just gives you a snap shot of their lives. You see her Princess Boy play with his father and brother, go to parties with his friends, enjoy going to school; but you also see how strangers react to him with laughter, and hurts him and his mother. One of the best things about this books is how it challenges it’s readers to consider how they would treat a princess boy. It’s also exciting that it tells the story of an accepting and loving Black family, I just wish the artist had drawn their faces…

Jacob’s New Dress, by Ian Hoffman

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Jacob’s New Dress is a lovely simple story of a boy who loves wearing dresses. He starts wearing them as he and his best friend find them in the costume box during free time in class; but he ultimately decides he want to wear one at school as just his outfit that day. The book feels like it could happen in real life: there’s a mean kid who tells him boys can’t wear dresses, his parents have to think about whether or not he should wear one to school. But his best friend and teacher always have his back, and his parents get behind him too, his mom even makes his dress. It’s a sweet validating little book.

10,000 Dresses, by Marcus Ewert

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10,000 dresses is a book about Bailey, a little girl who dreams of beautiful dresses every night; when she wakes up and tries to get her family to help her makes them they tell her that she’s a boy and boys don’t wear dresses. While it is sad that Bailey’s identity and dreams are denied by her family, the reason I love this book is because she goes out and finds someone who won’t. She wanders a way from her house and finds a girl who just happens to be trying to make dresses, and is thrilled Bailey has many dreams worth of dress inspiration. While of course all queer children hope their families will love and accept them for who they are, a lot of us grew to understand if we wanted a family that would love and accept all of us we had to go out into the world and find it. I love that the happy ending of this book is that Bailey finds a friend who thinks she’s the coolest girl ever.

Why would anyone create or approve this cover? It's terrifying! I literally cringed when I picked it up the self it!

Why would anyone create or approve this cover? It’s terrifying! I literally cringed when I picked it up the self it!

So, I dunno about your local library, but ours gets SWAPMED over the summer. Our usual well utilized building and collection goes into hyper-drive and you can often see 6-8 fully stocked book carts stocked and ready to be shelfed out in our stacks. Add to that one shelfer recently quit, and this little librarian is out shelfing daily.

Nothing too exciting to report, but I just wanted to show you a daily loosing battle I find myself fighting: the YA graphic novel area

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And, yes, right now the battle is won, but I would betcha nearly anything that an hour after we open this order will be destroyed. Le sigh.

 

Two absolutely wonderful friends of mine asked me for summer reading lists, quite a few weeks passed, and now I’m finally writing it (I’M THE WORST). I’m not a theory kid, I don’t care about the next “great American novel,” I like quick amusing compelling lit: I only read YA. Which is to say this is a summer YA book list. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you to read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, because there are plenty of amazing books that haven’t been turned into mainstream Hollywood movies (yet…). So here are some of my favorites:

The Summer Prince, By Alaya Dawn Johnson

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So, I’ve already reviewed this book, but it needs to be on this list because it’s perfect, so here it is. This dystopian novel takes place in Brazil (not the United States!), it only has POC in it, it’s so queer I didn’t realize that some relationships in it were queer at first (had to take off my heteronormative goggles), there’s a healthy affectionate polyamorous relationship in it, female masturbation, class divisions and oppression, rebellion (and difficulty choosing to commit to rebelling). It’s everything. Read it.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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This book is absolutely beautiful, Like, I can’t even, it’s just, dang. This is the story of two Chicano teen boys living in El Paso Texas who meet and instantly become friends, the carefully told narrative of their tender relationship is absolute ecstasy to read. This is one of the few books that I know of that explores a Questioning queer identity, which is absolutely genuine and excruciating.  One final point to make in this micro review about this story is how it depicts loving, supportive, and accepting Mexican American families (it’s a shame that such depictions are a rarity).

Eleanor & Park + Fangirl, By Rainbow Rowell

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Rainbow Rowell is my new favorite author, she tells deliciously rich stories, with the most lovable characters. John Green (another YA author worth reading) said it best : “[Rowell’s books] reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a [person], but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”

Eleanor & Park tells the story of two misfits who start to form a friendship as Eleanor reads comic books over Park’s shoulder on the school bus. It explores poverty and fat experiences, mixed race identities in mostly white towns, and non-masculine male identities with complete care and realness. It’s an absolute delight (I may or may not have framed fan art from this book on my bedroom wall).

Fangirl tells the story of Cather, her intense social anxieties, her twin sister pushing her a way, her incredibly popular online fanfics, her confusing relations with boys, her creative writing teacher pushing her to write original stories, her bitchy promiscuous and downright lovable roommate: all while negotiating her first year at college. Fangirl doesn’t hit the same amount of anti-oppression points as other books on this list, but it’s still marvelous, honest, and a entirely unique young woman’s narrative.

The Lunar Chronicles, By Marissa Meyer

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The Lunar Chronicles re-imagines classic fairy tales in a sci-fi future. For instance: Cinderella is a cyborg mechanic (I know! Right?), named Linh Cinder. Her prince charming is the crown prince of The Eastern Commonwealth (to simplify talking inter-planetary politics Meyers had all the countries conglomerate into continent sized nations. Fairly problematic as the last thing American youths need is a reinforced idea that Asia and Africa are countries…) which means both Cinder and her prince charming (the dreamiest man on Earth) are Asian- which I think is pretty cool. I can’t give a way too much more about the other twists on the fairy tales in the books without spoiling all over the place; but these are really fun girl centered narratives, where the girls get to be cool and baddass in ways distinct and unique from each other. The Chronicles aren’t over yet, Cress just came out this year, so we’ve got some waiting to do before the story concludes with Winter.

The Coldest Girl In Coldtown, By Holly Black

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Ok, so it’s a vampire book. And I wanna be very clear: I do not like vampire books. But The Coldest Girl In Coldtown is the exception to the rule. First of all Tana, our protagonist, has agency she makes her own choices about who and what she’s gonna be, and sticks with them no matter what some “dreamy” vampire thinks. It’s hella refreshing. Also the book spends a lot of time juxtaposing romanticized fantasies of vampires drinking human blood, with what the horrific violent and brutal reality of vampires sucking humans dry would be like. And the final thing I’ll share with you in this review is my favorite character: a transgender girl of color named Valentina, who’s identity is always respected, is crushed on by a punky vampire hunter named Jameson (another cool character I can’t get into now!), and who’s narrative was an amazing metaphor for young queers who flock to Urban Centers trying to find community and acceptance. It’s cool, read it.

Wandering Son, by Takako Shimura

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Wandering Son is a manga series that I’ve only been able to read the first book of so far (there’s at least 5 more…). It’s a sweet story about two gender non-conforming children. The first is Shuichi Nitori a feminine child who is MAAB. One day when working on a group project one of Shuichi Nitori’s classmates has them try on a headband and matter-of-factly says that they look like a girl. This fascinates and excites Shuichi Nitori, who instantly starts wearing their sisters accessories and dresses at home. Wondering Son is also the story Yoshino Takatsuki a masculine child who is FAAB, and gleefully discovers that with a shorter hair cut and their brother’s old school uniform they can wonder around the city and pass as a boy. It’s a sweet story about gender experimentation, self exploration, and building friendships with these experiences. Getting through 2-5 is the next thing on my reading list.

Locke & Key, by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez

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Trigger Warning: abusive relationships, violence, loss of family members. These graphic novels (6 trades in all) are incredibly dark, and often really creepy. And they’re amazing. The plot line is about a white family who moves to their ancestor’s house in Eastern Massachusetts after tragedy strikes, and then how the children begin to discover magic and a mystery within those walls. But thematically the story is about the magic that you have as a child and loose when you grow up, the intense way you love your friends when you’re a teenager, the incredible strength and ingenuity you can muster to protect your family, and forgiveness (not my usual favorite theme, but I dug it in this narrative). Despite it being about a white family the books go out of their way to discuss racism and racialized relationships, they also do a good job talking about class tensions in the Cape Cod. I also REALLY love the daughter in the books, Kinsey is one of the first (maybe only?) comic book girl(s) that I completely relate to. When reading them I found myself desperately wanting to be in them, not entirely unlike how I desperately wanted to go to Hogwarts.

I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly, illustrated by J.M. Ken Niimura

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Barbara is a social outcast, a trouble maker, but most importantly a killer of giants who wears bunny ears. Ok, so maybe the giants Barbara’s always talking about, worrying over, and setting traps for are in her head. And maybe her inability to connect with anything or anyone else is causing problems for her both at school and at home. But when a new girl comes to school someone else is finally interested in learning about this magical world that only Barbara can see. And perhaps the giants she must defeat are no longer something she uses to push people a way but may be a way to become closer with those she loves.

Ok, that’s my list. It’s by no means an exhaustive radical friendly YA list, it’s just the books that came to mind and stuck as I mulled this idea over. I hope you enjoy them, I’d be stoked to know what you think!

Since this reccent advent of turning every semi popular YA novel into a movie, it’s easy to write the original book off. And, to be fair, a lot of the books are worth writing off (ie Twilight), but there are a couple blockbuster movies whose source material is actually worth the hype. You’re not too cool for them, if you haven’t read them, you’re missing out.

The Hunger Games

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Ok, so The Hunger Games get a lot of flack, and some of it rightfully so, but I’d argue that the dumbest things about the trilogy is because of the movies NOT the books. The biggest example being: Katniss IS NOT WHITE in the books, she’s brown, and it’s discussed at great length in the books how brown people in District 11 have less privilege and more dangerous jobs, then the white people who live in town. However these books surely aren’t perfect, the love triangle is really annoying, but Katniss is such a rich and complicated charter with so many other things going on at any given time: it’s fairly easy to ignore. I think they’re fun, fast, and addictive books; that talk about state violence, imperialism, exploitative media, diverse abilities & strengths, and even revolution in truly compelling ways. They’re a an ideal summer read.

Harry Potter

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These are the Swedish covers, and my favorites!

I don’t know what you’ve been doing the last 16 years that was more important then participating in this well deserved global phenomenon, whatever it was, it’s no longer acceptable: just read them. One of my favorite things about the Harry Potter books is how they grow up along with Harry, the first few books read a bit like a Roald Dahl books- a little dark, but silly and fun, with only child like consequences- but as the books continue they get more mature and complex. The more you learn about Voldemort and the Death Eaters the less they seem like childish supernatural villains, and the more they resemble real life fascists. Which brings me to what I adore about these books: they’re obviously anti-fascist texts. They explain over and over again that while magical creatures are different from wizards, these differences do not make them lesser. A very cool massage for a youth book series, it’s not about equality and sameness, it’s about difference and respect. Although this diversity only stretches as far as centaurs and muggle-borns, not wizards of color, which is a serious problem with the books: diversity shouldn’t just be a metaphor. If that won’t wholly ruin the books for you, they show fantastic examples of anti-fascist organizing from life underground, to magical pirate radio, to student resistance groups. And while the movies really focus on Harry and his hero’s story, the books enforce over and over that this fight is EVERYONE’S fight, and every wizard is needed to fight against and defeat Voldemort.

programs/displays/book recs