Thursday 3: The Near-Future in YA Fiction



The Hunger Games and Divergent offer a couple of possible futures for humanity, but they are set in well established futures that are removed from our world by an indeterminate number of years.  What about the near future?

In these three books, teens take on a world that’s kind of like ours but with a “what if?” at the center of the story.

What if an extreme religion took over?  In Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle, it doesn’t take long for the Church of America to become ubiquitous.  Vivian isn’t a believer in the predicted Rapture, but when her parents (and a lot of other people) disappear, she is determined to find out what happened.

What if a bank took over when the economy went really bad? That’s what happens in Hit by Delilah Dawson.  Too much debt? You just might become an indentured servant of Valor National Bank.

What if you could choose to forget? More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera is the least futuristic of any of these books, but the marketing material for this book sets it in a “near-future summer in the Bronx.”  In this future, there is a way to erase memories, and Aaron thinks that might be a way for him to forget a part of himself he doesn’t want to acknowledge.

Can you think of any others to add to this list?

Thursday 3: Limb Difference Awareness Month

April is a busy month for awareness.  Autism, Sexual Assault, and Poetry are probably the most well known, but I would like to acknowledge Limb Loss/Difference Awareness Month for obvious reasons.

I am pleased to report that there are a growing number of books for young readers that feature characters with limb differences. Here are three books for young readers that I recommend for understanding what it’s like to lose a limb or be born with a limb difference.


Dangerous by Shannon Hale is a science fiction novel about fighting aliens that features a heroine who was born with one arm.  She is awesome.  Read more of my thoughts about it here.

Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnichsen is a middle grade verse novel I referenced in this post.  The main character in the story was born with only two fingers on one hand.

One-Handed Catch by M.J. Auch is about a boy who loses his hand in an accident.  I reviewed it more thoroughly here.

These books are great choices for middle schoolers.  I offer more great books that I think can be used to open up discussions about differences in this article in Book Links Magazine from 2011: Just Like You–Helping Young People Understand Disabilities Through Books.

Thursday 3: Overlooked Books

Last year I kept my Thursday 3 posts over on my photo blog for the most part.  This year I thought I’d bring them over here.  This week I want to share three picture books from 2014 that did not win any big awards (that I know of) and may  have slipped through the cracks. 

Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear by Monica Carnesi is a sweet friendship story with a twist.  When winter comes Bear is ready to hibernate and Beatrice (a rabbit) tries and fails to sleep through the winter with her friend.  Instead, she finds a creative way to share her experience with her friend while allowing both of them to be who they are.  I loved the messages (be yourself! find creative solutions!), and the fact that the messages were subtle compared to the sweetness of the story.  Well worth sharing with your little ones whether they have found themselves in a similar situation or not.

Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin is another story of friendship and creative problem solving that may have some appeal to the maker/DIY crowd.  In this picture book from a debut author/illustrator, Brimsby’s friend moves away, and he is lonely.  He struggles, at first, to make new friends, but he uses his talents as a hat maker to get the attention of some birds.  It is a gentle, quiet story that I found quite charming. 

100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz isn’t a story at all.  It is, as the title suggests, a list of everyday happinesses in fun rhyming couplets.  I am an admitted idealist who can’t help but be drawn to a book that promises such positivity, but this book is sure to warm the hearts of readers of all ages and liven up storytimes with its bouncy rhymes. 

You can check out the books that did win big at the Youth Media Awards here.  It was a great year for books!


Thursday 3: New Teen Fiction

Teen fiction is my preferred reading material, and I’ve been rather immersed in it in recent weeks as I prepped for a presentation at the Minnesota Educational Media Organization Conference in which realistic teen fiction was my responsibility. Here are a
few of my favorites from my part of the presentation.

  • Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon – It’s a novel set in hospice care, so be ready to cry. But it’s also pretty funny.
  • The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider – This romance/coming-of-age novel reminded me a bit of Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas, which I loved.
  • Hostage Three by Nick Lake – I read this modern day pirate thriller in one sitting. It doesn’t come out until November, so add it to your library hold list now.

  • My apologies for the lack of links and pictures in this post. I am having some computer issues, and I used the WordPress app on my phone to write this post.

    Thursday 3: New Picture Books (and one bonus)

    Fall is a great time for books!  My Thursday Three for today features three newly available picture books:

    welcometo whenlions tortoiseandthehare

    • Welcome to Mamoko by Aleksandra Mizielinska – I love wordless picture books in general, but this is especially cool.  It gives a cast of characters at the beginning, and teh book is part seek-and-find, part story starter.  My daughter and I have had lots of fun with this one. :)
    • When Lions Roar by Robie Harris – Robie Harris is best known for her sex ed books for kids.  Here she teams up with one of my favorite illustrators to look at the things that scare us–from lions roaring to parents yelling–and how to calm down when we feel afraid.  Great for preschoolers.
    • The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney – This nearly wordless version of a familiar story is just as good as the author’s previous Caldecott-winning work.  Beautiful.
    • Bonus: Moo! by David LaRochelle – Technically this book isn’t on shelves until next week, but it is one you’ll want to watch for.  Super cute and fun.  Also minimal words, which seems to be a theme with me lately.  Here’s a trailer:

    Miss the last Thursday 3 post?  Check out Three Recent Reads

    A Thursday 3 for National Poetry Month

    There was a time when I lived and breathed poetry, but somewhere along the way I seem to have lost track of it.  Here is my attempt to re-connect with a lost love: discovering new poets.


    • Space, In Chains by Laura Kasischke –  This poet landed in my inbox via the Poem-a-Day email from the Academy of American Poets, and I was intrigued enough by what I read to seek out more of her work.
    • Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability – I’ve perused much of this collection, and the poet that stands out to me is Ona Gritz (also a picture book author and columnist).  She doesn’t just write about disability.  Her work is about parenting, stories, and relationships as well as her experiences as a person with cerebral palsy.
    • Real Karaoke People by Ed Bok Lee – I believe I became aware of Lee through MPR, perhaps it was this story from Euan Kerr, and I’ve been meaning to read more of his work for some time.

    Are you doing anything for National Poetry Month?  I particularly like Poem in Your Pocket Day, especially for kids.  Hennepin County Library has poetry related events all month long for local readers.

    Of course, it is also Autism Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so it’s a good month to challenge your preconceptions.

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  A portion of purchases made from these links may benefit this blog.  Thanks for your support!

    Thursday 3: Getting Ready for Easter

    I’m excited for Easter this year because my daughter will spend it with us rather than with her grandparents.  My parents usually have Ladybug spend her Spring Break with them, and last year it meant that she was there for Easter.  We still celebrated Spring officially at the May Day Festival like we always do, but Easter passed by without any colored eggs or baskets or bunnies.  This year, I’d like to make up for that.  After the winter we’ve had (are still having, it seems), we will be celebrating every spring related holiday we can find.   Our plans so far include a family lunch and fancy clothes  because it’s time to come out of our winter hibernation, dress up, and enjoy the weather–even if it doesn’t really feel quite like spring yet. :)

    In preparation for the festivities, we have been reading, of course.  Here are our picks:



    Chester’s Colorful Easter Eggs by Therese Smythe – A good choice to read before coloring eggs for the first time perhaps.  Cute and colorful picture book for preschoolers.

    The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen – Ever wonder where the Easter Bunny comes from?  Here’s a possibility.  I don’t think it’s canon or anything, but it’s a sweet story.  And it’s fun to speculate about the bunny’s back story.

    Minerva Louise and the Colorful Eggs by Janet Morgan Stoeke – Simple story for the very young about the silly hen who never seems to know what’s going on, which is a big factor in kid humor as I’ve written about before.

    You can read about our last Easter celebration (from 2011) here, complete with our spring related book picks from back then.

    Did you miss last week’s Thursday 3 on my photo blog?  3 Funny Graphic Novels for Kids

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  A portion of purchases made from these links may benefit this blog.  Thanks for your support! :)

    Thursday 3: Random Acts of Kindness

    No need to check your calendar.  I know it isn’t Thursday.  I’ve been dealing with computer issues all week, and it has made keeping up with my blog schedule a bit tricky.  But I didn’t want to let Random Acts of Kindness Week slip by without any mention after my colleague brought it to my attention on Books in Bloom, so here is a belated Thursday 3.

    Three Small Ways to Be Kind This Week (and beyond):

    • treatsomeoneShare your books.  This reminds me that I have been sorely neglecting the Little Free Library in my neighborhood.  Something about the weather lately has kept me from walking by it as often as I used to.  I will have to change that today.  I love leaving a book or two on my way to the store and noticing that the book is already gone when I walk by on my way home.  If you don’t have a Little Free Library nearby, you might send your books with our troops overseas with Operation Paperback, which was recently featured on The Blogunteer.
    • Treat someone.  My company treated us to Valentine’s Day cupcakes this past week, and I treated my 5 year-old to the heart-shaped ring from my cupcake.  Everyone was happy.  I’m thinking of who I might treat today.
    • Say something nice.  Positivity and appreciation are always great. If you need a little inspiration to see the positive, check out Ten Things I Love About You by Daniel Kirk (because picture books are the answer to everything in my world), in which two friends manage to see the positive qualities in each other even when you think they are getting on each other’s nerves.  It’s a lesson story, but it has the comedic timing to make it gentle enough to open a discussion with little kids about friendship issues.

    Or just smile.  It’s good for you.  :)


    Happy Random Acts of Kindness Week!

    Other posts about kindness: Choosing Kind and In the Spirit of Kindness

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  A portion of purchases made from these links benefits this blog.  Thanks for your support! :)



    Thursday 3: New-to-me Music of 2012

    Welcome to Thursday!  I decided to take a page from one of my favorite kidlit blogs and use Thursdays to feature three things that relate to each other in some way.  It won’t be every Thursday, and it’ll probably be mostly books, but this week I have some music for you.  It may not be new to you, but it was new to me in 2012.

    It feels right to start the Thursday 3 feature off with music I discovered in 2012 because it was a year of re-discovering music.  I don’t know if it is getting older (only in my early 30’s!) or busy or what it was that distracted me from music, but I was thoroughly distracted.  One of my goals for 2012 was to pay more attention, to seek out new music the way I used to, and write about it on this blog.  Perhaps you noticed?

    In any case, here are three Minneapolis bands I discovered and liked in 2012:

    • Prissy Clerks – I was late to the party on this one.  When they were chosen as a Picked to Click band, I was clueless.  I also found myself going back even further in time to discover Clara Salyer’s previous band, Total Babe.  
    • A. Wolf and her Claws – Aby Wolf is a singer-songwriter with a powerful voice and a diverse set of influences.  With “Her Claws” she creates minimal electro-pop.
    • Now, Now – Okay, I’m cheating a bit on this one because I’d heard of Now, Now for a couple of years at least. But I’m including them anyway because this year, I actually paid attention to them.  Of course, a lot of people are paying attention to them these days, including Jimmy Fallon.   Here is the video for “The Pull”:

    What new music have you discovered recently?  How do you find new music?