The Austen Girls

Would she ever find a real-life husband? Would she even find a partner to dance with at tonight’s ball? She just didn’t know.
Anna Austen has always been told she must marry rich. Her future depends upon it. While her dear cousin Fanny has a little more choice, she too is under pressure to find a suitor.
But how can either girl know what she wants? Is finding love even an
option? The only person who seems to have answers is their Aunt Jane. She has never married. In fact, she’s perfectly happy, so surely being single can’t be such a bad thing?
The time will come for each of the Austen girls to become the heroines of
their own stories. Will they follow in Jane’s footsteps?
In this witty, sparkling novel of choices, popular historian LUCY WORSLEY brings alive the delightful life of Jane Austen as you’ve never seen it before.

Bloomsbury

This is Lucy’s fourth historical novel for Bloomsbury Children’s Books but the first (to my shame) I’ve read, I definitely want to pick up the others now though. It reads like an Austen novel, while managing to keep the story moving at a pace for younger modern teens to keep engaged. The setting is very evocative with real historical touches, I’m a little bit disappointed it isn’t an entirely true story! She very kindly answered some questions for TeenLibrarian:

What prompted you to discover Jane Austen led such an interesting life?

Well, on the face of it, Jane Austen lived quite a boring life. No one knew that she was a famous novelist, because she kept it secret. She never got married or did wild things, and she died quite young. And yet I think her life was terribly interesting, because she was so brave to decide that she wasn’t going to marry a rich man. (She did accept one proposal, but broke it off the next morning.) Instead, she became one of the very few professional female novelists of Georgian times. I did a lot of research about her real life, and I discovered that she gave out agony advice to her two young nieces as they grew up and had to decide themselves who they were going to marry. So I took the three characters from history, and spun a story around them! It’s only in my imagination that Jane Austen becomes a detective, or the rather lovely word that the Georgians used: a ‘thief-taker’.

Which is most satisfying: writing for TV, writing non-fiction, or writing fiction?

What I really like is a mix. Writing for TV is a very collaborative effort – a whole team works on it very closely together. Writing non-fiction is very slow and painstaking, you have to get all the facts right. By comparison, writing fiction is like flying! All you have to think about is the story. It’s nice to be able to switch between all three. (There’s another kind of writing that I do as well: writing very clear blocks of text for guidebooks or exhibitions or webpages in my work as a museum curator at Hampton Court Palace. That’s another challenge all of its own.)

When you started writing fiction did you originally intend it to be for a teen audience or did it evolve that way?

I decided around the age of 11 that I wanted to be a historian, and one of the reasons that I made that decision was through reading historical novels. So I wanted to write books that maybe … just possibly … the person who’s going to be doing my job and who’s going to be the curator at Hampton Court Palace in twenty years’ time might enjoy.

If you were given unlimited time & resources to research & write about a different person or event, who/what would you choose?

I would love to write about Agatha Christie, the detective story writer.

What is your favourite kind of book event to take part in?

I like going to a school or a festival with my box of props and dressing up outfits, and acting out silly scenes from history.

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

I’m always reading about five different books for different research projects, and usually they wouldn’t be of any interest to anyone else apart from the five people who are researching in that tiny corner of history. At the moment, though, I have been burning my way through many Agatha Christies – a nice relaxing thing to read when we’re all feeling anxious!

Lucy Worsley is, by day, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace State Apartments, the Banqueting House in Whitehall, and Kew Palace in Kew Gardens. By night, she is a writer and presenter.

Thank you Bloomsbury for sending me a proof copy, and Lucy for answering my questions!

The Austen Girls is out TODAY!

Self-care Reading List

Librarians & library workers need to practice self-care as we focus on adapting the work we do around stay at home orders and mandatory closures for the coronavirus. It is a stressful time for everyone and burnout is another very real threat! I personally am very bad at self care so I have been reading up on how to do this! These are some of the websites I have found useful in this regard:

https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/self-care-not-selfish/

https://schoollibrariansunited.libsyn.com/burnout-and-self-care

https://hacklibraryschool.com/2014/12/17/a-librarians-approach-to-self-care/

Professional Development Links for Library-folk

WebJunction Course Catalog

Library-specific courses and webinar recordings available for free to all library workers and volunteers. Through the generous support of OCLC and many state library agencies across the US, WebJunction provides timely and relevant learning content for you to access anytime, from anywhere.

All new learners need to create an account. Select “Log in” at the top right of this page, and then “Create new account.” Once you’ve created your new account, explore the catalog of library-focused self-paced courses and webinars. Certificates of completion will be available to you after you have completed any course or webinar.
https://learn.webjunction.org/

Young Adult & Teen specific training:  
https://learn.webjunction.org/course/index.php?categoryid=25

School Library Journal Offers Temporary Free Access to Digital Content

https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=school-library-journal-offers-free-full-access-to-content-digitized-magazines-coronavirus-slj

Raising the Bar
Integrating Early Childhood Education into Librarian Professional Development

a four-part training series developed by the New York Public Library, in collaboration with CUNY’s Professional Development Institute and funded by the Institution of Museum and Library Services.
https://nypl.teachable.com/

Free Library Webconference: 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdSZu598n6w5ikj00_3eUxuK5n06iiqb7O47yN43kzHGEmUrw/viewform

Submit a piece to a Library ‘Zine

Historical Fiction Webinar

https://www.ebscohost.com/novelist-the-latest/blog-article/webinar-crash-course-in-historical-fiction

Middle Grade Magic Virtual Conference

https://vshow.on24.com/vshow/middlegrade2020/registration/16561

Teaching Social Justice: Navigating the Deep Waters of Equity in Early Childhood Programs

https://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.com/webinars/teaching-social-justice-navigating-the-deep-waters-of-equity-in-early-childhood-programs/

NoveList Webinars

https://www.ebscohost.com/novelist-the-latest/by_tag/tag/Webinars



Educational Resources

A short list of online educational resources :

Virtual Story-times

Storyline Online

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Readers include Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones, Betty White and dozens more.
https://www.storylineonline.net/

Publisher Permission Details for Virtual Story-times during the Coronavirus Crisis

This list will be updated as I find more publisher positions on virtual story-times

Scholastic: https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=scholastic-temporarily-revises-policy-for-online-read-alouds-coronavirus-copyright

Candlewick: https://twitter.com/Candlewick/status/1240645865301295107 (applies to Walker Books US as well)

Little Brown Young Readers: https://www.lbyr.com/little-brown-young-readers/lbyr-blog/lbyr-book-sharing-permission-statement/

Penguin Random House: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/penguin-random-house-temporary-open-license/

Simon & Schuster: https://www.simonandschuster.com/p/online-read-aloud-guidelines

Macmillan: https://us.macmillan.com/macmillan-content-use-guidelines/

Abrams: https://www.abramsbooks.com/abramskidspermission/

HarperCollins Childrens Books: https://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/?detailStory=harpercollins-childrens-books-outlines-online-reading-policy-coronavirus-covid19

Lerner Books: https://rights-permissions.lernerbooks.com/

Boyd Mills & Kane: https://boydsmillsandkane.com/permissions2020/

Lee & Low Books: https://blog.leeandlow.com/2020/03/20/lee-low-guidelines-for-virtual-book-read-alouds-during-covid-19/

Quirk Books: https://www.quirkbooks.com/post/want-read-quirk-books-kids-online-while-social-distancing-heres-how

Mo Willems: http://wernickpratt.com/covid-19-guidelines-for-online-enrichment/

UK Publishers

Hachette Children’s Books: https://twitter.com/PiersTorday/status/1241493636069670917

Walker Books UK: http://www.walker.co.uk/UserFiles/file/2020/Storytime,%20Reading%20and%20Virtual%20Book%20Promotion%20Guidelines_COVID-19.pdf

JK Rowling Harry Potter temporary open licence: https://www.jkrowling.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/TBP-Temporary-Open-Licence-Schools-2.pdf

Chicken House:

These are challenging times for all of us and we are particularly sensitive to the needs of children to continue their learning and to reap the many benefits that literature brings them. We at Chicken House and Scholastic are in full support of providing a wide range of online learning activities for kids during this time of school closures.
We have been moved by the numerous requests we’ve received from people across the country who are trying to address these needs by posting readings of books online for children to access. We want to support you in your efforts and ask that if you choose to read your book online to your students you follow these guidelines:
• At the beginning of your video, please state that you are presenting your reading “with permission from Chicken House books.”
• You post your reading through your school’s platform or another closed group or platform with limited access for your students. Should this not be possible please let me know.
• Since we view this as a way to compensate for the closure of schools, please delete your video or disable access no later than 5pm 30th April 2020.
By posting a reading, you are agreeing to abide by the above terms.

Usborne Books: https://faqs.usborne.com/article/83-id-like-to-make-a-recording-of-an-usborne-book

Faber Children’s: https://www.faber.co.uk/blog/a-message-from-our-faber-childrens-publisher/

Little Tiger Group: http://littletiger.co.uk/tiger-blog/little-tiger-group-permissions-policy-for-online-book-readings

Quirk Books: https://www.quirkbooks.com/post/want-read-quirk-books-kids-online-while-social-distancing-heres-how

Macmillan: https://www.panmacmillan.com/panmac/macmillan-content-use-guidelines

Australia

Books Create Australia, the collaboration between the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA), the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has announced a special arrangement for library storytimes during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For the duration of the pandemic, virtual story-times will be sanctioned by an industry agreement. It is the policy of the Boards of the APA and ASA that their members suspend any requirements for copyright permission to be sought, in order to allow libraries to make recordings or livestream storytimes so children aren’t denied this important and much-loved service.

https://www.alia.org.au/news/21007/book-industry-partners-come-agreement-copyright

Canada

 The Association of Canadian Publishers has formed the Read Aloud Canadian Books Program with Access Copyright.

The Program will allow, on a temporary basis, a waiver of licence fees related to the reading of all or part of select books from participating publishers and posting of the video recording online.

https://accesscopyright.ca/read-aloud/

If your library is closed and you have no access to storytimes or books, why not look at these resources

https://www.storylineonline.net/ The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.

Open Culture 6000 digitized kids books: http://www.openculture.com/2016/08/enter-an-archive-of-6000-historical-childrens-books-all-digitized-and-free-to-read-online.html

Mackin free (until the end of the year) offer: https://www.mackin.com/hq/resources/free-stuff/

Public domain children’s books at Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/search/?query=children%27s+books

https://librivox.org/ free public domain audiobooks read by volunteers around the world.

Read More →

Lost by Ele Fountain

Lola’s life is about to become unrecognisable. So is Lola.

Everything used to be comfortable. She lived in a big house with her family, where her biggest problems were arguing with her little brother or being told she couldn’t have a new phone. But as one disaster follows another, the threads of her home and family begin to unravel.

Cut off from everything she has known before, Lola must find a new way to survive.

Now, an ordinary girl must become extraordinary.

Pushkin Press

What inspired the setting for LOST?

The idea of a few misfortunes leading to the loss of something as elemental as your home seems like a far-fetched reality for most of us. The reality for millions of children is that they never had one in the first place. I wanted to write a story with a thread to tie these two realities together.

Did you consider writing it from more than one POV or was Lola always the narrator?

I wanted to stay with Lola’s POV throughout to highlight the contrast between where she had come from and where she ended up, and her sense of helplessness as events gathered speed.

Did you always have the end in mind or did it change as you got to know the characters?

I always had the end in mind, but of course stories evolve during writing; some of my favourite journeys have been those which end up in a slightly different place than originally intended! The only significant change is that the final ending is happier than in my first draft.

As an editor, what kind of stories do you most enjoy working on?

What I love most is the element of surprise when a new manuscript arrives – what will make it special? Wonderful books come in so many guises. A beautifully written page-turner will always be a winner for me, though.

What kind of author events do you prefer doing?

School events are one of the best things about being an author, and usually take you straight to the heart of a school: the library. My favourite events are those which allow time for a talk and then creative writing workshops afterwards. It seems a wonderful recipe for firing imaginations, and I am frequently astonished by the quality of the ideas the pupils come up with.

If young readers are appalled by the conditions Lola & Amit find themselves in, what would be the best first steps you’d suggest for making a difference to the lives of children in real life similar circumstances?

It’s a complex crisis with no single solution. Supporting rural communities to develop micro-industries of their own is one way to make them more attractive to younger generations, and provide jobs so that they don’t feel it’s essential to move to a big city. A more immediate way is to raise money for charities such as Save the Children, who provide relief for families during monsoon flooding and offer safe spaces for children with no home to go to.

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

I am currently reading Solo, an autobiography by the polar explorer Pen Haddow. I’ve also just finished Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy. My seven-year-old was reading it at the same time. When we talked about the book afterwards, my daughter said that she loved the ‘world’, and the fact that adults were included in the adventure, not just kids. I loved it too.

Can you give us a hint as to what you’re working on next?

See above (Solo by Pen Haddow). I’m not writing an autobiography about polar exploration, but there will definitely be some snow!

Ele Fountain (picture credit Debra Hurford-Brown)

Lost is published by Pushkin Press on 12th March 2020

Thank you for the review copy!

Love Your Body

What if every young girl loved her body? Love Your Body encourages you to admire and celebrate your body for all the amazing things it can do (like laugh, cry, hug, and feel) and to help you see that you are so much more than your body.

Bodies come in all different forms and abilities. All these bodies are different and all these bodies are good bodies. There is no size, ability, or color that is perfect. What makes you different makes you, you—and you are amazing!Love Your Body introduces the language of self-love and self-care to help build resilience, while representing and celebrating diverse bodies, encouraging you to appreciate your uniqueness.

This book was written for every girl, regardless of how you view your body. All girls deserve to be equipped with the tools to navigate an image-obsessed world.

Freedom is loving your body with all its “imperfections” and being the perfectly imperfect you!

Quarto
Love your Body is illustrated by Carol Rossetti

Love Your Body is a refreshingly honest look at how varied bodies are. It can be given to teens to help them think about a new way of looking at themselves, or shared with younger girls to talk about the message that they are amazing!

I really appreciated that, in the authors note, Jessica states “This book is written for girls, and those who identify as girls. However, the language used is not gendered and the overarching message is universal. Negative body image can affect anyone, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation.”.

She has written an extra piece for TeenLibrarian:

When I catch the train to work each morning, I look around me and no one person looks the same. The only thing we have in common is our difference.

Despite difference being the only thing that unites us, from about the age of 8 we want nothing more than to fit in, to meet this illusion of ‘normal’. It might have been a comment from a classmate or one of the parents at pick up, and suddenly you are aware that you are ‘short’, ‘tall’, ‘big’ or ‘skinny’. All of a sudden you realise that your body is being observed by others, and that you are something other than ‘normal’. Ever since that moment that you realised you were too tall, too short, too something, you developed a negative body image. 

Negative body image is often treated as a superficial issue, and something that is inevitable. When it is actuality, a negative body image can change the course of a young person’s life. In particular, a young women’s life, because our society tells girls and women that the most important thing about them is their appearance. 

When girls are worried about how their bodies look:

8 in 10 will avoid seeing friends or family, or trying out for a team or club.

7 in 10 will stop themselves from eating.

7 in 10 will not be assertive in their opinion or stick to their decision.

They even perform worse in maths, reading and comprehension. 

I am yet to meet a woman who hasn’t experienced a negative body image – it’s a feminist issue. It’s holding girls and women back. It’s the thief of our precious energy, and our joy.

We have to stop valuing bodies for how they look and start appreciating them for what they do for us. Because our bodies are incredible; they allow us to experience every good and wonderful thing this world has to offer. They are our homes. 

I wrote Love Your Body for my childhood self who hated being tall and just wanted so desperately to be ‘normal’. And because I was so sick of hearing people tell me ‘this is just how it is for girls’. We were not born despising our bodies, we were taught to, and we can make a decision to teach each other how to love our bodies again. 

Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders, illustrated by Carol Rossetti, publishing 3 March in hardback from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, £10.99. (Read alone 8-12 year-olds / Read together 6+).

Thanks to Fritha for sending me a review copy!

Grief Angels

15-year-old Owen Marlow is experiencing a great, disorienting loss after his father suddenly passed away and his mother moved them to a new town. None of his old friends knew how to confront his grief, so he’s given up on trying to make new ones. There is one guy at school who might prove to be different if he gives him a chance but lately, Owen has been overwhelmed by his sadness. He’s started to have strange, powerful hallucinations of skeletal birds circling above him. Owen tells himself that these visions are just his brain’s way of trying to cope – until one night, the birds descend and take him to an otherworldly forest. There, he is asked to go on a dangerous journey that promises to bring him the understanding he so desperately seeks – if he can survive it.

Grief Angels is an urgent and heartfelt look at the power of nostalgia and the many different forms of grief. It’s about young men learning how to share their stories, and teens discovering who they are, and who they might one day become.

Atom Books
Cover illustration by Leo Nickolls

Having never been one, I can’t be 100% sure, but my feelings are that David Owen writes teen boys *so well*. Owen and Duncan are just brilliant characters and reading about their growing friendship from both their perspectives, and how deeply they both feel things, really brought it to life. Owen’s grief is so raw and honest, the potential for it to overwhelm him is clear, while at the same time there is humour and self deprecation and a developing passion for Battlestar Gallactica…while Duncan has doubts about his friendships and himself and where it is all going. The writing is beautiful in places, witty in others, and hugely satisfying throughout.

I interviewed David just over a year ago when All the Lonely People was published, so do have a look there at his responses to some of my usual questions. I love that book but Grief Angels is so brilliant, definitely my favourite David Owen book and in my top 5 reads of 2020 so far, that I couldn’t resist asking a few more!

Your previous books included a fantastical element but this is the first to include a character being pulled into a completely different world. What inspired that?

Largely it was a tremendous act of self-indulgence! I read a lot of fantasy and have long fancied trying my hand at writing it. Having it alongside a contemporary narrative felt like a good way to experiment with writing more in that mode. Plus the ideas I had were better suited to that template – one set down by a number of books that I adore: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Skellig by David Almond, Eren by Simon P. Clark. Ultimately it felt quite natural to take a step beyond magic realism into having outright fantasy be a prominent aspect of the overall book.

The two voices are very distinct. Did you find one came to you more easily than the other?

Duncan’s voice came easiest, and therefore first, because the way he thinks – very self aware, wry, always searching for the humour in everything – is quite similar to how I think. The focus on humour in his voice also made him really fun to write.

Owen was a little harder to find. He needed to be more serious and thoughtful, but I didn’t want him to feel like a drag compared to Duncan! His internal pain and struggle needed to be clear without being overwhelming – I didn’t want the reader to find him difficult to be around the way his past friends did before they abandoned him. The answer came in thinking about why Duncan is so immediately struck by Owen – his honesty and openness is refreshing, but also he’s self aware and funny too. They’re actually quite similar people. Those are appealing attributes, and I built his voice from there.

I love your focus on male friendship. Why do you think it is important to have platonic relationships in YA?

The most important relationships most teenagers have are with their friends. Your friends at that age are one of the biggest influences on the person you become during the most significant transitional period of your life. You spend so much time with them, discover and explore your identity in relation to them, build memories together, have all the fights and reconciliations and drama. Losing those friends, whether you fall out spectacularly or simply drift apart, is often far more painful than the end of a romantic relationship. So writing about these platonic relationships, reflecting those experiences and helping young people to navigate them, is really important.

I felt I had something valuable and unique to say about the dynamic of friendships between teenage boys, and that formed the contemporary side of Grief Angels.

Have you had the opportunity to get feedback from teen boys?

I haven’t, to be honest. I don’t know any! I’m hoping my experience of having been a teen boy wasn’t radically different to how it is today!

Do you listen to music when you write?

I can never decide if I prefer writing with or without music! I’ll go through a phase where I’ll write with music on, and then a phase where I decide I concentrate better without it, before slowly creeping back to having music on. The truth is probably that it makes no material difference and at any given moment I’m trying to convince myself that my decision is making me better and more productive.

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

I’ve just finished The Loop by Ben Oliver. It’s a fast-paced, high concept YA dystopia for people who miss The Hunger Games and Maze Runner books. It’s out in April 2020.

Can you tell us anything about your current WIP?

I’m working on two things at the moment, neither of which are YA! I don’t want to say more than that because neither of them may ever see the light of day.

I haven’t abandoned YA – I just felt the need to try my hand at something new before getting cracking on my next YA project.

David Owen

Grief Angels is out on 5th March, thank you to Atom for sending me a copy.