Monthly Archives: April 2023

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Hungry Ghost by Victoria Ying

Valerie Chu is quiet, studious, and above all, thin. No one, not even her best friend Jordan, knows that she has been binging and purging for years. But when tragedy strikes, Val finds herself taking a good, hard look at her priorities, her choices, and her own body. The path to happiness may lead her away from her hometown and her mother’s toxic projections–but first she will have to find the strength to seek help.

Hungry Ghost is a tale of love, loss, mental health and obsession. Victoria poured aspects of her life into this story, as she said in her afterword Val is not me, but I was her. This is a beautifully told and illustrated graphic novel, I saw parts of myself in Val, trying to cope with the loss of a parent and it gave me a deeper understanding of people suffering with disordered eating and dysfunctional relationships. For all the heavy topics contained within, there is also a thread of hope woven throughout the story which leavens what could have been an otherwise grim and heartbreaking story. Safe to say for all the sadness, Hungry Ghost left me in a happy state, with renewed hope – and that is one of the things I hope for in the books I read these days!

Hungry Ghost handles the topics of eating disorders, loss and acceptance sensitively and with nuance giving insight for those wishing to know more and, hopefully, providing visibility to those thinking they are suffering alone . This will be an important addition to any collection and perfect for readers looking for works on mental health.

Hungry Ghost is written and illustrated by Victoria Ying and is published by First Second Books. It is out today.

Period Party

On April 8th, the Lucille H. Bluford branch of the Kansas City Public Library recently held a Period Party – a program designed for teens and tweens to come and learn about menstruation in a safe space, make crafts, and win prizes.

The craft was making pouches out of colorful duct tape to carrying menstrual products!

The Instructables website has a page on how to make duct tape pouches:

You can visit the Kansas city Public Library’s Facebook page to see the reaction this program had:

The Censorship of Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s Love in the Library

On Wednesday April 12, author Maggie Tokuda-Hall shared her experience of Scholastic wanting to feature her book Love in the Library in their Rising Voices Library

I reached out to the Scholastic communications team with some questions. You can read the text of the email I sent below.

Good afternoon, my name is Matt Imrie, I am the editor of the TeenLibrarian blog and newsletter, I hope that you are the correct person to contact about the questions I have about the recent post ( by author Maggie Tokuda-Hall that Scholastic recently made an offer to license her book Love in the Library contingent on removing the paragraph from the author’s note on racism. I have been writing a series of articles on challenges to books in school & public libraries and I am reaching out to Scholastic for comment on Maggie’s claims.

This is concerning, especially in the light of the current bans and challenges to books for young readers in school and public libraries that are occurring on a daily basis across the US.

Has Scholastic been engaged in censoring books to preclude the chance of challenges to works they publish? If so has this disproportionately affected authors & illustrators form minority communities or has this been happening cross the board?

They responded pretty promptly yesterday afternoon, attaching a message from Schoalstic President & CEO Peter Warwick:

No matter what Scholastic say or do now I fear the damage wrought by this harmful action may take a long time to heal, if it ever does.

The ripples are still being felt and will be for quite some time. Trust, once broken takes a long time to be rebuilt.

One of the original Scholastic Mentors, Joanna Ho posted a statement on her Instagram feed:

Dr Sayantani DasGupta a mentor for the Scholastic Rising Voices AANHPI Narratives collection resigned her mentorship:

Publishers Weekly has also covered the story here.

In this instance it appears that enough people stood up in solidarity to shake the walls of Scholastic enough to make them walk back their attempts at censorship. Once again it is a person from a minority group in the US that has been the focus of this attempt.

This is wrong and should not be happening, and it will not stop until enough of us stand together with the BIPOC people that bear the brunt of these attacks and demand genuine change and accountability so this does not keep happening.

Open Letter to Scholastic’s Education Solutions Division re: Censoring Authors:

Former mentor Dr DasGupta has also revealed that the exclusion of queer voices in previous Rising Voices collections was systemic:

The Foundations of the US Public Library Service are Cracking

The Missouri Legislature has voted to defund public libraries, I guess the Show Me State does not like people saying “Show me books with gay, trans and minority characters!” to Librarians. Apparently, Texas is trying to go down a similar route and Florida is an even hotter mess these days. A Michigan Library was also defunded and faces potential closure, even after thousands of dollars in donations were raised.

Moms for Liberty has also been incredibly active, as freedom of choice in reading material is not covered under their version of Liberty, they are now targeting a school in the district that my library serves, the librarian there resigned earlier this year and are active across the US.

Library boards are threatening closure when their attempts to remove books are declared unconstitutional rather than put them back on the shelves. Yesterday I saw a tweet from author Maggie Tokuda-Hall about being approached to license her book Love in the Library for their AANHPI narratives collection which would usually be a cause for celebration, except that they wanted to remove a word before the deal could go ahead.

Maggie has written about it on her blog – it is equal parts heart-breaking and infuriating, you can read it here:
Scholastic is one of the big dogs in the publishing world, they run book fairs in schools, in the UK they are the official book supplier for the Yoto Carnegie Book Awards, they are everywhere and usually do good work; so, I find it hard to believe that this move is a one-off, how many authors and illustrators have already decided to swallow a bitter pill to accept what appears to be a fantastic deal?

As the clamor to ban books in schools and libraries (and also alarmingly now in bookstores) has started growing louder how many publishers have begun moving behind the scenes to head off criticism instead of supporting their authors and illustrators and the readers who deserve access to books?

Diverse voices in the publishing world (& in libraries) are an incredibly small percentage, of the workforce and also what tis available in print. Hearing about this brazen move by Scholastic I fear that the numbers may become even smaller if publishers are moving to placate the outsize voices of those that are complaining or taking offence at diverse offerings in libraries. Library workers not purchasing works to avoid complaints is a creeping problem in libraries but if publishers are pre-emptively censoring works that they have or wish to make available then the whole edifice made up of publishers, bookstores and libraries becomes unsafe and unwelcoming for everyone.

As a public service Public Libraries are non-partisan and open to all (or they should be), but this new hostile environment being created by a minority of people that use libraries risks skewing the services and materials that libraries offer.

Nervosa by Hayley Gold

Unflinchingly honest and darkly humorous, Nervosa is a graphic memoir about disordered eating, chronic illness, and a profound relationship with hope.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. It is not a phase, a fad, or a choice. It is a debilitating illness, manifested in a distorted relationship with food, but which actually has more to do with issues of control. It is often a puzzle for doctors, therapists, parents, and friends. And so those who suffer from it are belittled, or tragically misunderstood, not only by society but by the healthcare system meant to treat it.

Nervosa is a no-holds-barred, richly textured portrait of one young woman’s experience. In her vividly imagined retelling, Hayley Gold lays bare a callous medical system seemingly disinterested in the very patients it is supposed to treat. And traces how her own life was irrevocably damaged by both the system and her own disorder. With brutal honesty and witty sarcastic humor, Gold offers a remarkably candid exploration of the search for hope in the darkness.

Reading Nervosa was akin to probing a gap in my jaw where a tooth was just removed, it hurt but I was unable to resist poking the hole with my tongue until the sensation of pain overwhelmed me.

God, I don’t know what to say really, this book is so good, I cried, I got angry and I put the book down one less time than I picked it up to read because I felt compelled to witness Hayley’s story. If you have had experiences with mental health, dysfunctional family relationships, run-ins with doctors and the medical world in general then this book may trigger you (remember that it is ok to put the book down if this happens).

Nervosa is important, it is the story of a life so far and as bleak as it gets it is still hopeful and as I get older I cherish hope wherever I find it!

So yes this is a short review, Nervosa is good – great even but it is painful and yet hopeful too. I think you should read it carefully. It is out now wherever you get your books.

Thanks to Street Noise Books who provided the review copy I read.

Street Noise is publishing some of the best non-fiction graphic narratives that I have ever read, I think you should check them out if you haven’t already!

Hayley Gold is a comic book writer and artist. She studied cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her first graphic novel, Letters to Margaret, published in 2021, is an exploration of culture wards through crossword puzzles and humor. Her work has been published in such anthologies as The Strumpet and World War 3 Illustrated. Hayley lives in New York City. She loves rabbits and the color cobalt blue.