LIBRARY IDEA FOR NOVEMBER:

THANKSGIVING TRIVIA GAME: Looking for zero-prep Thanksgiving activities for middle school? This trivia game helps keep your students learning and engaged, even in the days before a holiday break. It’s zero-prep for you, and text and images are 99% editable.

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CHILDREN OF RAGNAROK:

Since Ragnarokthe great war between the gods and the forces of chaos—the human realm of the Midlands has become a desperate and dangerous place, bereft of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Eiric Halvorsen is among the luckier ones—his family has remained prosperous. But he stands to lose everything when he’s wrongly convicted by a rigged jury of murdering his modir and stepfadir. Also at risk is Eiric’s half-systir, Liv, who’s under suspicion for her interest in seidr, or magic. Then a powerful jarl steps in: He will pay the blood price if Eiric will lead a mission to the fabled Temple at the Grove—the rich stronghold of the wyrdspinners, the last practitioners of sorcery.

Spellsinger, musician, and runecaster Reginn Eiklund has spent her life performing at alehouses for the benefit of her master, Asger, a fire demon she is desperate to escape. After one performance that amazes even herself, two wyrdspinners in the audience make Reginn an irresistible offer: return with them to the Temple to be trained in seidr, forever free of Asger.

Eiric’s, Liv’s, and Reginn’s journeys converge in New Jotunheim, a paradise fueled by magic and the site of the Temple. They soon realize that a great evil lurks beneath the dazzling surface and that old betrayals and long-held grudges may fuel another cataclysmic war. It will require every gift and weapon at their command to prevent it.

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Yes No Maybe So: A Librarian’s Perspective

I read Yes No Maybe So on audiobook, and I think may be the first audiobook fiction I’ve ever finished. I do great with nonfiction audio, but I tend to have a hard time focusing on fiction audio. I give major props to the two narrators. They captured the emotions and voices of Jamie and Maya perfectly!

AUTHOR: Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PUBLICATION DATE: Feb. 4, 2020
PAGES: 448
GENRE: realistic fiction, romance
SETTING: Georgia, USA, modern day
GIVE IT TO: HS

SUMMARY

Jamie and Maya played together as young children, but they haven’t seen each other in years…until now. In the summer before their senior year, Jamie and Maya will volunteer to canvas for a Democratic political candidate in an historically red state.

THE SHORT VERSION

Cute romance with lots of important messages. Audiobook is fabulous!

WHAT I LIKED

The audiobook! As I mentioned, it is very difficult for me to focus on fiction audiobooks. So difficult, in fact, that I’m not sure I’ve ever actually finished a fiction audiobook. The best I’ve done is switch to the Kindle version in the middle of an audiobook.

The narrators for Jamie and Maya perfectly capture the characters’ emotions and voices. I could picture both Maya and Jamie, based on those two voices. They are 100% why I was able to complete this fiction audiobook entirely on audio.

The characters are well-defined. Maya is a bit…dramatic, but her reasons for getting upset are grounded in real frustrations that many teens feel. She doesn’t hold back when she doesn’t like something Jamie does, and I appreciate that she just comes out and says it. Too many teens and adults (myself included) just hold it in, but holding it in is not a healthy way to deal with frustration.

I liked that both Maya and Jamie have other friends outside each other. They become best friends over the course of the book, but they both spend time with others their age, too. Strong peer relationships outside the romance are not always a strong suit in YA romances.

Both families are strong and supportive, and the parents play a large role in their teens’ lives. Jamie and Maya don’t always agree with their parents, but the parents and teens show mutual respect and understanding. Another concept not often seen in YA romances.

I liked the relationship between Jamie and his 13-year old sister, Sophie. It’s realistic and sweet.

The book explores some tough issues including religious differences, discrimination, parental expectations, growing up, coming out, racism, and politics and elections. It’s very timely with a contentious presidential election coming up this year.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

I already mentioned my slight irritation with Maya’s dramatic moments.

Sophie’s friend Maddie is a real piece of work! Maddie will be quite a force when she gets into high school. She’s way too forward and aggressive in her crush on Jamie–a boy who is a whopping four years older than she is. That’s a huge age difference for a 13-year old! I felt they let Maddie’s behavior in a particular part of the story slide too easily. I know she’s only 13, but her thoughtless actions caused a whole lot of pain. She absolutely should have been called out on it.

Another thing that I can see being a problem is that the book leans left politically, quite hard actually. I don’t take any issue with that, but some might feel the book puts conservatives in a negative light. I had a 10th grade student a couple of years ago who really liked President Trump. She called me out once when I made a negative comment about Trump, telling me her teachers and the other students said things like that all the time. She seemed hurt by it, and she was right, of course–as teachers, we really should remain politically neutral. I was much more careful about that afterwards. She’s a smart girl, and I totally understand her stance on it (even if I disagree with her politically).

DIVERSITY

Very diverse! Jamie’s family is Jewish, and Maya’s family is Muslim (I want to say Pakistani?). Both families actively practice their faith, and religion is a huge part of Jamie’s and Maya’s characters. There are also three LGBT side characters.

LIBRARIANS WILL WANT TO KNOW

Themes: elections, political campaigns, religious freedom, discriminatory legislation, social media, Muslim, Jewish, wearing hijab, bat mitzvah, Ramadan, activism, racism, parental separation

Would adults like this book? yes; I’m in an Facebook book club for school librarians, and this book got lots of positive comments from the group.

Would I buy this for my high school library? yes

Would I buy this for my middle school library?no

TRIGGER WARNINGS

Language: I did the audiobook, which means I cannot search for specific language. I do remember a few F-bombs, but not very many.

Sexuality: mild; some kissing.

Violence: mild; one minor character is a horrible racist.

Drugs/Alcohol: none

Other: Lots of political discussion that leans left. More conservative students may take issue with it.

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