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Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag

Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag by Michael Anthony & Chai Simone

A rough-and-tumble Iraq War veteran is young and in love, and the last thing on his mind is food and the ethics of eating meat. But when his girlfriend becomes a vegetarian and animal rights activist, suddenly food is all he thinks about.

Just Another Meat-eating Dirtbag is a deceptively deep book masquerading as a light, humorous memoir of how love can make you do stupid things, animal cruelty, diet and how veterans reintegrate back into civilian life (and in some cases fail to).

I have read it three times over the past few months and had to ruminate on it before writing this review. Each time I read it I enjoyed it, and started rooting for Michael (at first) before his gaslighting attempts at turning his girlfriend away from her chosen path became apparent to me, and eventually to himself. I spent a good part of the book being wound up and dreading that Coconut (Michael’s girlfriend) would discover what he was doing and at the same time hoping that she would.

Does this story have a happy ending, or does Michael’s dirtbag doings have the required effect? Well that would be a massive spoiler, instead I will say hunt down this book in your local library or bookshop – you will not be disappointed that you do!

Honestly, this book more than any other has moved me to reconsider my diet, and the recommended reading list has added several titles to my TBR list.

An excellent addition to any collection of graphic memoirs and conversation starters on the ethics of meat eating, relationships and animal care!

This is Chai Simone’s debut graphic novel and I look forward to reading more works featuring her fantastic artwork!

Just Another Meat-eating Dirtbag is published by Street Noise Books and is available now!

New Year same Librarian!

2023 marks 16 years of TeenLibrarian (as blog, the newsletter is in its 17th year now).

I know that last year was fairly fallow with only one issue of the newsletter and sporadic updates on the site itself, with most of the heavy lifting done by my UK-based colleague and friend Caroline, with some news posts and reviews written by yours truly. This year I am planning on being more present here and put more newsletters out well.

One plus point for this year is that we are going back to in-person teen events and my teen group is kicking off again for the first time in over two years so I will be able to share whatever successful group sessions are run plus anything else that comes up this year.

As always I am always happy to run guest posts from library workers who are willing to share what they are working on or would like to trumpet and celebrate any successes they have had in their libraries – just let me know!

The Rise and Resurrection of Vampires in YA ~ Amy McCaw

I’ve been interested in vampires for as long as I can remember. Some time in those early readings of Point Horror, Anne Rice and Stephen King, vampires stood out to me. Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer in my early teens cemented the fascination. A lot of people I know are constant vampire readers like me, but every now and again they fall out of favour. So what vampire books do I think you should read, and why are we currently in yet another vampire heyday?

Twilight came out in 2005, igniting a fresh obsession with vampires and other supernatural beings that spread from the intended YA audience to adult readers. This sparked a flood of paranormal YA books, leaving publishers tentative to take on any more and readers seeking out vampires that were more sparkly than scary.

I enjoy all kinds of vampire books, so I was fine with that trend. Part of the reason I think vampire books continue to be revived is that there’s so much room for variety and reinvention.

Even in the 90s, The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith was exploring that vampires can be tortured souls with a conscience or witty murderous antagonists that might kiss or kill the main character. Later books like The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine did their own spin on vampire mythology (in this case, a town overrun with vampires that humans can’t leave once they enter). Holly Black also did her take on a vampire town in The Coldest Girl in Cold Town. For historical vampire fiction, try The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh, All These Bodies by Kendare Blake or Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco.

There’s also been a fun subgenre of vampire books that deal with contemporary issues alongside vampires. Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig; Big Bad Me by Aislinn O’Loughlin (also featuring werewolves); The Reluctant Vampire Queen by Jo Simmons; Vampires, Hearts and Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell fit nicely into this category.

You might be thinking that the current trend for dark academia is more your speed. If you want a boarding school book with vampires, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, Marked by PC and Kristen Cast and Crave by Tracy Wolff have got you covered.

Recently, even my ultimate vampire favourite Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been given a reboot. Kendare Blake is writing a trilogy set over a decade after season 7 of Buffy, first with In Every Generation and in January 2023 with One Girl in All the World. William Ritter has also given Spike the prequel novel he deserves in Bloody Fool for Love. I also need to check out Big Bad by Lily Anderson, set in an alternative reality Sunnydale in 1999.

So why are vampire books just as popular as they’ve ever been? YA horror is seeing a lot of mainstream success, with TV shows like Stranger Things and the Fear Street movie fueling the obsession. I also think the pandemic and recent world events have left people craving escapism more than ever, and visiting a world of fun scares and supernatural goings on is just what a lot of people need. I know I do.

Amy McCaw is the author of Mina and the Undead & Mina and the Slayers

Universal Music Group and The Reading Agency gift books by Black authors to libraries across the UK

As Black History Month reaches its conclusion, The Reading Agency and Universal Music Group (UMG) are pleased to announce the ‘Mark My Words’ campaign, providing copies of books by Black authors to libraries across the UK. The Reading Agency partnered with UMG through the company’s UK Task Force for Meaningful Change (UKTFMC), which focuses on the unique challenges facing the UK’s Black community.

The titles, including both fiction and non-fiction books for both children and adults, will be donated to local authority hubs across the UK. Selected collaboratively between UMG and The Reading Agency, the collection of engaging and accessible titles has been chosen to appeal to a broad audience of all reading levels.

The ‘Mark My Words’ campaign supports a joint commitment to social justice, championing the role that reading plays in tackling inequality. By gifting the titles directly into public libraries, ‘Mark My Words’ will ensure that the books are freely accessible to those who will benefit from them most.

Research on children’s books in the UK shows that published authors and illustrators do not reflect the UK population at large. In 2019, 8.68% of children’s book creators were people of colour, with just 2.86% being British people of colour.[1]Research demonstrates that children’s books can support young people in the exploration of themselves and others, providing recognition for readers who can identify, and insight and understanding for those who don’t.[2] Similarly for adults, studies show that writers of colour are ‘undervalued’ by the publishing industry, affecting the acquisition, promotion, and sales of their books.[3] A survey of writers across the UK found that while 13% of respondents identified as being from a minority ethnic background, only 9% earned more than £30,000 annually for their writing[4]. By gifting these books into libraries UMG and The Reading Agency hope to shine a light on Black authors and their creativity.

The series of gifted books will be announced in November and will include titles from the 2022 Quick Reads series, The Reading Agency’s life-changing programme which tackles the UK’s adult literacy crisis by helping less confident readers get reading.

The titles will be available to borrow in public libraries from early December and will be accompanied by a series of events in libraries across the country with some of the books’ authors. Full details of the events programme will be announced in the coming weeks. The children’s titles will also be supported with free Chatterbooks resources, consisting of activities designed to support children’s development by encouraging them to read and talk about books.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency says:“We are delighted to be partnering with Universal Music Group on this inspiring campaign. A key objective for The Reading Agency is to ensure the work and impact of The Reading Agency is reflective of the society in which we live and of those we serve. Working together on this campaign offers an exciting opportunity to fulfil some of these objectives and celebrate important books by excellent Black authors.”

Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Universal Music Group’s global Task Force for Meaningful Change says: “Supporting initiatives like ‘Mark My Words’ is extremely important for us. To be able to help place Black authors’ work into more hands, to help push Black stories into more spaces – it’s so important to this journey of empowerment, empathy, and unity that we are all on as a nation. We thank The Reading Agency for helping us to deliver such a powerful project.”

[1] We Need Diverse Books (2021); Ramdarshan Bold (2020), ‘Representation of people of colour among children’s book authors and illustrators’

[2] CLPE (2020) Reflecting Realities

[3] Saha and van Lente (2020), ‘Re:Thinking Diversity in Publishing

[4] Royal Society of Literature (2019), ‘A Room of My Own: What writers need to work today’

The Diverse Book Awards 2022

The Diverse Book Awards is now in its third year, showcasing the talent of marginalised voices. I’ve been lucky enough to read all of the books nominated for the children’s and YA lists to help whittle down to a long list, but yesterday the shortlist was revealed! The winner will be announced on the 20th October.


Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths by Maisie Chan, illustrated by Anh Cao (Piccadilly Press)

Hey You! by Dapo Adeola, Diane Ewan, Onyinye Iwu, Jade Orlando, Bec Glendining, Derick Brooks, Joelle Avelino, Dunni Mustapha, Kingsley Nebechi, Chanté Timothy, Nicole Miles, Camilla Sucre, Jobe Anderson, Alyissa Johnson, Chatlot Kristensen, Sharee Miller, Reggie Brown, Selom Sunu, Gladys Jose (Penguin Random House Children’s)

How I Saved the World In A Week by Polly Ho-Yen, illustrated by George Ermos (Simon & Schuster Children’s UK)

Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat (Simon & Schuster Children’s UK)

The Best Diwali Ever by Sonali Shah, illustrator Chaaya Prabhat (Scholastic)

The Lightning Catcher by Claire Weze (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell (Usborne)

The Very Merry Murder Club by Abiola Bello, Annabelle Sami, Benjamin Dean, Dominique Valente, Elle McNicoll, E.L. Norry, Maisie Chan, Roopa Farooki, Nizrana Farook, Patrice Lawrence, Joanna Williams, Serena Patel, Sharna Jackson, illustrated by Harry Woodgate. Edited by Robin Stevens and Serena Patel (Farshore)

Young Adult

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Usborne)

Being Amani by Annabelle Steele (Hashtag BLAK)

Skin of The Sea by Natasha Bowen (Penguin Random House Children’s)

Splinters of Sunshine by Patrice Lawrence (Hodder Children’s Books)

The Crossing by Manjeet Mann (Penguin Random House Children’s)

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (Hodder Children’s Books)

What We’re Scared Of by Keren David (Scholastic)

You’re The One That I Want by Simon James Green (Scholastic)


Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (Pan Macmillan)

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie (Oneworld)

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah (HQ)

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Viking Books)

The Day I Fell Off My Island by Yvonne Bailey-Smith (Myriad Editions)

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Viking Books)

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson (HQ)

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross (Faber)

For more info please email

For PR enquiries please email 

​Official blogger is Samia Aziz @readwithsamia

When Library Boards Turn

Library trustees are powerful advocates for libraries.  Through the coordination, hard work, and determination of trustees, new libraries have been built, budgets have been restored and increased, and new respect has been generated for the powerful role libraries play in communities and on campuses. As part of a trustee board, trustees serve on a volunteer basis, can be elected or appointed to a library board for a period of time, and are tasked with the duty of helping to direct the funds and policies of an institution. In general, the library board of trustees has a role in determining the mission of the library, setting the policy that governs the library, hiring and evaluating a library director, and overseeing the general management of the library.


A library board is a group of citizens responsible for the governing of a public library. Board members are the vital link between the library and its community. Board members serve as library advocates and leaders in developing responsible and creative library service to all members of the public. 


Library Boards are guided in their duties by the Library Mission as well as strategic plans and policies. These are in turn informed by the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, codes of ethics and more.

Library Boards that work well are virtually invisible, they exist to make sure that the Library is fulfilling its stated mission of serving the needs of the community.

Across the US there have been several Library Boards that have started turning on the Libraries that they ostensibly serve.

Mid-Continent Public Library Director Steven Potter resigned after the board led a campaign against diversity, equity and inclusion programs:

The current 12-member board, including four members appointed by each of three counties — Jackson, Clay and Platte — has been bent on blocking programs for LGBTQ youth and squashing moves to increase diversity.

The Niles-Maine Library District Board has been divided and at odds over controversial proposals brought forward by the new trustees, including the hiring of a political ally as a library consultant at $100 per hour and a freeze on hiring, capital projects and material purchases.

The changes led to the resignation of the Library Director, who in her letter of resignation warned the board that they are protectors, not destroyers, and you cannot allow anyone on the board or off the board to destroy this precious institution.

More information on the Coalition to save the Niles Maine Library can be found here:

Ideological divisions were on display at a recent ImagineIF Libraries Board retreat, with a trustee pushing against libraries offering hotspots to patrons that have no internet access and wanting to remove ALA language from ImagineIF policy (that would be the Library Bill of Rights and more. The board member went on to state that: trustees are supposed to be apolitical, and therefore being aligned with an organization that takes “leftist” political stances is not in the library’s best interest.

The neutrality of libraries is a discussion that needs to be had, but when board members openly rail against what they perceive to be “leftist stances and services” and agitate for their removal they are not being neutral, and when they try and edit library policies to silence voices and end services to patrons and marginalized communities then they are actively trying to create a hostile environment within the library service they oversee, making it unwelcoming to those they perceive as opposing their political views.

As more and more activists on the right attempt to paint libraries as havens of inappropriate materials, crawling with staff holding “leftist” views, the situation will become more fraught. Library Boards should be balanced, the moment they have a reactionary majority that views their ideological views as superior to those of others then “neutrality” goes out the window and services to underserved communities are cut and staff get forced out.

Right wing groups are working off a playbook first developed to take over school boards to control what is being taught to children and they are now focusing on libraries. With turnout in local elections traditionally low, it is easy for a group to get enough people organized to sway the vote.

Related Articles:

Libraries aren’t neutral ground in the fight for anti-racist education

Right-Wingers Are Taking Over Library Boards to Remove Books on Racism

Mid-Continent Public Library Board blasted as banned books comments suggest censorship

Is Qanon radicalizing your School Board?

Art Spiegelman’s Maus banned by Mcminn County School Board

In another shocking I can’t believe this is happening in the 21st century, the The Mcminn County School Board banned the Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel about the Holocaust.

The ban which is already garnering accusations of Antisemitism happened due to accusations of “crudity” within the seminal work. Apparently the inclusion of words like “God Damn” and “naked pictures” (illustrations) of mouse women were considered beyond the pale

No mention was made of the inhumane treatment meted out to the Jewish characters portrayed in the book.

I utterly condemn this move of cultural vandalism by an organization that is supposed to oversee the education of the children in the schools controlled by the board.

The Mcminn County School Board


The School Board has released a statement via the schools Twitter feed doubling down on the ban, citing nudity and unnecessary language. You can read it below.

Jummy at the River School

Jummy has won a place at the River School, the finest girls’ boarding school in Nigeria.

Nothing can dampen her spirits, not even when she learns that her less fortunate best friend Caro won’t be joining her. By the Shine-Shine River, school is everything Jummy dreamt of, with friendly new girls, midnight feasts and sporting prizes. But when Caro suddenly arrives at the school to work, not to learn, Jummy must bring all her friends together to help …

A joyful, glorious collision of classic boarding-school story with vibrant 1990s Nigeria, based on Sabine’s own experience of boarding school in Nigeria. 

Chicken House Books

This really is a classic boarding school tale, with midnight feasts, friendships and rivalries, and mean teachers. It being set in Nigeria in the 1990s gives it another layer of interest for readers who may have never been there (or never seen it in a story), with a beautiful sense of place…and the potential for crocodiles in the river to cause trouble! I absolutely loved the descriptions of food and the voices were brilliant, with a story that highlights poverty and privilege at the same time as being about tested loyalties and the importance of friendship.

I asked Sabine Adeyinka a few questions:

As it is inspired by your experiences at a Nigerian boarding school, are many of the events things that happened in real life?

The place, emotion and setting are very similar to a regular Nigerian Boarding school in the 90s. However the actual story is completely fiction. I did have a friend who wasn’t able to continue her education after primary school and that stung. Her family just couldn’t afford it and there was nothing I could do at the time.

Which of the characters were you most like as a child?

A cross between Jummy herself and Rashidat (class clown) who appears once or twice.

Who was your favourite character to write?

Ngozi was quite enjoyable to write about as she was so contrary and determined. Owolabi was great too because he annoyed Jummy and that made me giggle when I wrote about him.

Jummy was discovered through the Chicken House open submissions, has the story changed much since that point?

The bulk of the story has remained the same but the strength and consistency (for example) of the characters greatly improved with the help of Chickenhouse.

Have you thought about the kind of events you would like to do with readers (imagining no pandemic!)?

Oh I’d love to sing the songs in the book with readers and create second verses. I’d love Q&A sessions as well especially about living and schooling in Nigeria.

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

Children of the quicksands by Efua Traore. It is a magical adventure also based in Nigeria. I’d recommend it to lovers of Jummy at the River School as it will enhance their understanding of what its like growing up in Nigeria.

Have you any further ideas for novels?

At the moment, all I can think of is more stories about the River School!

JUMMY AT THE RIVER SCHOOL by Sabine Adeyinka is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

Thank you Chicken House Books for the review copy and Sabine for the q&a.

Do have a look at the official blog tour from last week!

Libraries, the new front-line in the Culture Wars

The election of reactionary individuals to the board of the Niles-Maine Public Library in May gave me chills, back in 2020 I had been thinking about how the fragmented nature of the US Library system made it vulnerable to subversion by groups with specific views, but 2020 being 2020 gave a lot more to focus on than hypothetical threats to the public library system and I shelved that thought. The thoughts about the relative fragility of the US library system germinated in an article I wrote for the UK Library magazine The Youth Library Review in 2019 comparing the UK and US Public Library systems.

2021 has not been much better for libraries with wholescale challenges to many books for young readers about gender and sexuality and more that may faintly resemble what many on the right perceive to be Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Challenging Times

The Niles-Maine takeover provides a way forward for other reactionary groups that want to control their local libraries and the recent mega challenges to entire slates of reading materials provides an enhanced template for those who wish to stifle the free flow of information to young readers (and others).

This will happen with Library Boards if we do not take notice: “Anti-CRT” school board candidates are winning

Resources to push back against challenges and how to defend your libraries

Richard Price is Associate Professor of Political Science at Weber State University created the Adventures in Censorship website that tracks challenges to books in school and public libraries:

Angie Manfredi’s article on the freedom to read and what you can do to support your local libraries from encroaching censorship:

How to Fight Book Bans and Challenges: an Anti-Censorship Tool Kit

Become a Library Trustee:

Why you should sit on your library board:

Local library advocacy group celebrates rejection of harmful library policy proposals.

CRT Toolkit