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Jen Robinson's Book Page - 5 new articles



Sky Jumpers Book 2: The Forbidden Flats: Peggy Eddleman

Book: Sky Jumpers Book 2: The Forbidden Flats (iBooks link)
Author: Peggy Eddleman
Pages: 272
Age Range: 9-12

The Forbidden Flats is the second book in Peggy Eddleman's Sky Jumpers series (my review of Book 1 is here). Both books are set in a relatively near-term post-apocalyptic American West. One of the oldest adults remembers the pre-apocalyptic world, but most characters were born afterwards. Only small, spread out communities survive, with no means of communication between them.

The Forbidden Flats begins with an earthquake, which sets off a reaction that threatens the survival of the sheltered town of White Flats. A small team is sent on a mission to procure a mineral that will, if obtained in time, fix the problem (and save the town). The mineral is only available from a far-off settlement in the mountains. Among the members of the team are Hope, the 12-year-old heroine from the first Sky Jumpers book, and her two friends, Aaren and Brock. This high-stakes quest, particularly because there is a firm time constraint before disaster occurs, lends suspense to the book. 

Once nice thing about this second book in the series is that Hope (and thus the reader) gets a chance to see much more of the world than in the relatively sheltered first book. I always enjoy it when, in post-apocalyptic books, characters run across artifacts from modern day life. In The Forbidden Flats, Hope and the team visit people who live in the ruins of pre-apocalyptic cities. Hope sees things like asphalt for the first time in her life.

Eddleman's world-building for this series remains sharp - she has a strong grasp of what is the same and what is different from our own world. What comes across in particular detail in this new book is the impact of the apocalypse (environmental bombs) on the minerals in the earth. There are minerals newly created by the blasts, and other things that used to work that don't anymore. In particular, iron can no longer hold a magnetic charge, which greatly restricts and resumption of technology. This makes for an intriguing sub-quest in the book, one that I expect will be continued in future stories. 

The Forbidden Flats also fleshes out the character of Hope in more detail. She meets her uncle, the brother of the mother who died immediately after Hope's birth. Learning more about her mother, and getting to know her uncle, gives Hope some insights into her own character. There are a couple of other interesting new characters, too, one of which I suspect we'll see again.

But I do have to say that I felt that the existing secondary characters came across as a bit flat in this installment. It felt like I was supposed to remember what was special and unique about Aaren and Brock, rather than being able to see this through their words and actions. This stood out for me in particular because there's the tiniest hint about a romance brewing between Hope and Brock, but Brock feels like a bit of cipher. My feeling is that even if a book doesn't need to stand on its own in terms of plot and world-building (it may be necessary to have read the first book to understand what's going on), the characters should stand on their own in each book. 

Overall, though, The Forbidden Flats is a worthwhile successor to Sky Jumpers. The plot is suspenseful and full of twists, and readers get to learn more about the broader world in which Hope lives. Although the plot in this book is fully resolved, I see plenty of directions in which Eddleman can go in future books. Fans of the first book will definitely want to give this one a look. The Sky Jumpers series is nice in being a middle grade (vs. YA) post-apocalypse series, one that does NOT revolve around a dystopia, but instead shows people working together to build a new world. 

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).



Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 17

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Please note that I am NOT sharing the many, many tweets that I posted during last weekend's KidLitCon. You can see those by following the #KidLitCon hashtag. Links to KidLitCon roundups from other people's blogs can be found on this Kidlitosphere Central post (which I will continue to update). I'm also not sharing here various links that I shared to posts with suggested Cybils nominations, since nominations for the Cybils Awards have closed.

What I do have by way of links this week is many book lists, plus posts about the cybils awards, diversity, growing bookworms, reading, schools, and libraries.

Book Lists and Awards

Horn BOO! 2014, an annual 
selection of “spooktacular” new books for Halloween reviewed by @HornBook staff

Scary stories for beginning readers (ages 5-8) from @MaryAnnScheuer #kidlit

I am a sucker for #YAlit about Plagues & Epidemics. Luckily Kimberly from Stacked has a list:

Stacked: The Death Business in YA Fiction: A (Short) Reading List from @catagator #YALit

Picture Books: Our New Loves, a list of recent favorites from @StaceyLoscalzo #kidlit

7+ Kids' Books Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, featured by @mrskatiefitz #kidlit

From Easy Readers to First Chapter Books | Titles to Ease the Transition | Joy Fleishhacker in @sljournal

Great titles about 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai | @LibraryVoice in @sljournal

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Bones | New Books About the Human Body | Vicki Reutter in @sljournal

12 Picture Books to Inspire Artistic Creativity in kids from @momandkiddo #kidlit

Book Recommendations Based on Books You Already Love from @growingbbb #kidlit

The 2014 National Book Award Finalists have been announced. @tashrow has the scoop for Young People's Literature


Today's #Cybils Featured Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer reviewed by @Miss_Fictional @MacKidsBooks

Nominations for #Cybils Awards Now Closed to the general public, and open to publishers + authors #kidlit

Calling all publishers, authors, + app developers, the #Cybils awards will accept your nominations starting tomorrow

Share your suggestions for the new Featured Blogger selection at the #Cybils Awards. People who blog + love #kidlit


Why @GuardianBooks is holding a #diversity in children's book week via @bkshelvesofdoom #WeNeedDiverseBooks

See also #diverse voices: the 50 best culturally diverse children's books from @GuardianBooks #kidlit

Huge collection of other #diversity in #kidlit -themed links @bkshelvesofdoom today

DiverseYAInfographicWNDBLooking for a #diverse YA book? New Infographic from #WeNeedDiverseBooks by @TracyDeLopez shared @bkshelvesofdoom (click image to left to enlarge)

A Checklist to "See" Race/Culture in Kid/YA Books by @MitaliPerkins our keynote speaker at #KidLitCon

#WeNeedDiverseBooks -- recommending books from a wide range of perspectives (ages 4-14) by @MaryAnnScheuer

Shine a Bright Spotlight on Unsold #Diverse Books: An Idea Inspired by Hollywood’s Black List | @LatinosInKidLit

Black Speculative Fiction Month, Day 15:Author Alicia McCalla's Thoughts on #BSFM @dos_twinjas

Thirteen Scary YA Books: #Diverse Edition from @LEEandLOW via @bkshelvesofdoom #yalit

Events + Literacy Programs

Guys Lit Wire: Ballou Sr High School is moving into new digs & we want to celebrate that with our annual book fair!

Growing Bookworms

Parents who read to their children nurture more than #literary skills @AAPNews via @librareanne

Storyline-online-logoStoryline Online: a great resource spreading the joy of reading (ages 3-8) from @MaryAnnScheuer

Mommy Librarian's Story Time Secret #5: Sing Story Time Songs at Home from @mrskatiefitz

Guest post @BookChook by Amie Butchko | Bringing the Wow Factor to Reading #GrowingBookworms

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

"Stories provide a simplified simulation world that helps make sense of + learn to navigate our complex real world"

Great places to keep up with YA and Children's Books! from @yabooksandmore #kidlit #yalit

Historical Accuracy in Illustration: Shifting Standards or Stubborn Certainties? asks @fuseeight

Top Ten Reasons to Marry a Nerdy Book Club Member by @brianwyzlic + @rex_lisasaurus @NerdyBookClub


Great stuff! Six Good Reasons Why Family Conversation at Mealtimes is Still Important from @TrevorHCairney

Schools and Libraries

Should we level texts for students? asks @ReadByExample #reading

This is cool! Milwaukee Public Library Introduces Book Vending Kiosk | @WPR via @tashrow

Librarians React to Pew Study on Willingness to Disagree on Social Media @LibraryJournal via @tashrow

A new campaign: "can we throw away our reading logs? I actually think we can" says @StaceyLoscalzo

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.



Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy Book 3): Sarah Rees Brennan

Book: Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy, Book 3) (iBooks link)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Pages: 384
Age Range: 12 and up

Unmade is the conclusion of Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy trilogy, following Unspoken and Untold. I read a lot of books, but the Lynburn Legacy series has stayed in my head more than most. I think this is due to a combination of Brennan's strongly rendered Gothic tone, and her deep characterization of primary and secondary characters.

The Lynburn Legacy series is about a teen named Kami who lives in an English town historically ruled by the Lynburn family of sorcerers. When the Lynburns return after an absence, and one of them goes very bad (and power-mad), Kami finds herself defending her family and her town against impossible odds (but with a strong team of supporters, including two Lynburn teens). 

I hesitate to say too much about the plot of this third book, for fear of spoilers for the other two. So I will merely say that Unmade picks up following the cliffhanger ending of Untold, and takes heroine Kami through some dark times. A couple of the twists in Unmade shocked me, and were painful because I cared deeply about the characters. If I could have, I would have read this book straight through without once putting it down. 

What more can I say? Rather than a formal review, I will give you a few comments:

  • Kami rocks. She is strong and determined, and doesn't let even major losses stop her from doing what is right. She has a keen sense of self, but is also plausibly insecure (e.g. about whether people find her less attractive because she is of mixed race, in a very white village). 
  • Jared Lynburn, Kami's love interest, also rocks. He is unconventional and brittle, the survivor of a difficult upbringing. A particular bonus of this third book was watching his developing relationship with his snooty aunt, Lillian Lynburn. 
  • Lillian also rocks. She is not a nice person, but she is fiercely loyal, and cuts to the heart of things. Her reluctant banner with Kami's non-magical dad is priceless. Here's my favorite quote from Lillian: "I don't believe in telling children comforting lies. It lets them delay growing up. I want to lay all possible choices before my children, so they can decide what to do." (Of particular note about this quote is a certain ambiguity about who she means by "children", since only one of the kids in the book, Ash, is actually her biological child.)
  • Brennan incorporates diversity into Unmade, seamlessly and organically. There is a character coming to terms with wanting a lesbian relationship (and associated introspection/insecurity about that), as well some diversity or race and class, all tackled head-on.
  • Another nice thing: while not taking over or saving the day, parents play a significant role in the book. Here's Kami on that subject: "The first thing to do was slip away from her father, who might have questions about why she kept insisting on going back to the lair of ultimate evil. Kami saw why so many teenagers who had adventures in books were interestingly tragic orphans. Parents were a real buzzkill, adventure-wise." (Page 201) Kudos to Brennan for incorporating parents without killing the books's buzz. 

I think that fans of Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy trilogy will find Unmade to be a satisfying conclusion to the series. And for those who have not read these books, if you enjoy darkly atmospheric, supernatural YA romance, the Lynburn books are not to be missed. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: September 23, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).



Literacy Milestone: Getting Her First Library Card

LiteracyMilestoneAI wrote last week about my daughter reading (well, sounding out) her first book. By way of celebration, we went to the library the next day, to get her first library card. She was literally jumping up and down with excitement. Naturally, we had to check out books - a lot of books.

Apparently, she could have had her own library card when she was two (thank you, San Jose Public Library). But I'm glad that we waited until she was old enough to see it as a milestone herself, and to be excited about it. 


When she spoke to Grandma on the phone later that day she said:

"Grandma, I have good news! I got my own library card today."

Grandma was suitably impressed. As was the cashier at the restaurant where we picked up pizza the next day. And pretty much everyone else we've run across lately. 

Getting one's first library card is a big deal. I can remember mine, actually, and I have a terrible memory. I hope that my daughter will remember getting hers. Certainly, her new bright green library card is going to get plenty of use. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook




KidLitCon and Cybils Update: Last Call to Nominate for 2014

Cybils-Logo-2014-NominatedTomorrow, October 15th, is the last day for the general public to nominate titles for consideration for this year's Cybils awards. Starting Thursday, we will be accepting nominations from publishers and authors through October 25th. Today at the Cybils site, Blog Editor Melissa Fox shared links to quite a few posts in which people have compiled lists of titles that have not yet been nominated. If you haven't nominated (or haven't nominated in all of the categories that you are interested in), these lists are a great source of ideas. 

The general goal of all Cybils nominations should be to recognize titles (published in English in the past year) that are well-written and kid-friendly. The Round 1 Cybils panelists are already hard at work gathering and reading the nominated titles. So far (with thanks to Sheila Ruth for designing our lovely database), there have been 786 eligible books nominated, 60% of which have been read by at least one panelist. Much more reading will be taking place over the next couple of months.

Personally, as a Round 1 judge in Fiction Picture Books, I've read 32 of 111 eligible titles. The hard part is not reading 111 picture books, of course, but getting hold of them from various library systems (which we try to do as much as possible, rather than imposing upon publishers). 

KidlitCon2014_cubeIn other news, the 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (aka KidLitCon) was a resounding success. Here is a slightly modified version of what I shared at the Kidlitosphere Central site:

KidLitCon was 50+ people talking in Sacramento over two days about children’s and young adult literature and blogging, and how to increase diversity in both. There was a tremendous energy in the room(s) at all times. It was exhilarating and exhausting. Keynote speaker Mitali Perkins was fabulous, as was Skype guest speaker Shannon Hale, and the many brave presenterslisted here. 

Below, you can see a photo of the KidLitCon organizing committee. Lots of other pictures are available by following links further below. 

KidLitCon: Brought to you by:
l-r: Maureen Kearney, seated. Standing, Tanita Davis, me (Jen Robinson), Charlotte Taylor, Melissa Fox, Reshama Deshmukh, and Sarah Stevenson. (Image credit to Tanita’s husband, David.)

Here are links to some roundups and followup posts from presenters (in Twitter format, because they were first shared there):

#KidLitCon, 2014: A Retrospective, Part I, from Tanita Davis, w/ great photos + insights 

Thoughts on #KidLitCon 2014 from @aquafortis | Small World, #Diverse Voices 

A Checklist to “See” Race/Culture in Kid/YA Books by @MitaliPerkins our keynote speaker at #KidLitCon 

Happy times at #Kidlitcon from @charlotteslib like @haleshannon Skyping from her rocking chair + calling@Book_Nut 

i am #kidlitcon | finding more people to play!!!, conference wrapup by @MayaGonzalezArt w/ cute child photos 

A bit late to post, but this was a mid-con Update from @MsYingling attending her first #KidLitCon 

#kidlitcon wrapup + PDF handout for reading + blogging diversely from presenter @shgmclicious 

Ten takeaways from #Kidlitcon 2014 from Leila @bkshelvesofdoom 

#KidLitCon wrapup and thoughts on #diversity from @CrazyQuilts 

Thoughts on #kidlitcon and on not being “too nice” in the call for #WedNeedDiverseBooks from @ZettaElliott 

Very interesting thoughts from Tanita Davis on the #KidlitCon, 2014: NOTEPAD FORUM and following #diverse bloggers 

#KidlitCon in Photos, 10 pictures shared by @Book_Nut 

With special thanks to Leila from Bookshelves of Doom for collecting many of these links. 

For more tidbits from the conference, do check out the #KidLitCon hashtag, where a number of folks were live-Tweeting during both days. 

And, in other important KidLitCon news, KidLitCon 2015 will be held in Baltimore, with thanks to Sheila Ruth andPaula W. More details to come! We will continue to share information at Kidlitosphere Central, as well as on the KidLitCon Twitter and Facebook accounts. Stay tuned…

Many, many thanks to everyone who participated in KidLitCon 2014. 

And now, get out and nominate books for the Cybils awards!