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SLJ Be Tween
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January 20, 2016
Welcome to tween town
Kiera Parrott, Reviews Director
Kiera Parrott photo
Whether you call them tweens, middle graders, upper elementary to middle school kids, or some other term, the age group covering roughly fourth through eighth grade is a critical time in a child’s life—especially as they come to understand their interests and what kinds of books and materials they love. Librarians serving kids in this age group do essential work through programs, services, outreach, readers’ advisory, homework help, and more. Be Tween is a brand-new monthly newsletter that brings you the best of SLJ’s coverage on everything middle grade—from books and author interviews to innovative program ideas and best practices.

In this debut issue, librarian Jennifer Wharton reminds us to use and highlight nonfiction when working with middle graders, offering tips on selecting and promoting great informational titles. In the Upper Deck, a new column focusing on books for readers in sixth through eighth grade, Tara Kron spotlights several recent and forthcoming titles that explore deep, dark themes and explains how sad—even frightening—stories empower young readers.

Speaking of dark themes, I chat with Sara Pennypacker (beloved author of the “Clementine” books) about her latest novel, which tackles serious themes of war and loss. And on a lighter note, check out the first in our new video series, the 30-Second Booktalk—I hope you’ll find it fun and useful.

What topics would YOU like to see covered in Be Tween each month? Send me your thoughts and suggestions.

You’re receiving this inaugural issue of Be Tween either because you’ve opted in or because you’re somebody we thought would be interested in the subject matter, based on your past activity with us. If that’s not the case, please feel free to opt out, and you won’t receive another issue.
Books & Reading
Selecting and Promoting Nonfiction in Your Library | Nonfiction Notions
By Jennifer Wharton
Book covers
Nonfiction Notions is a new column devoted to exploring and recommending middle grade nonfiction. Librarian Jennifer Wharton kicks it off by offering best practices for choosing titles that kids will love.


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Funny, Action-Packed, Poignant | Middle Grade Series Update
By Christopher Lassen
Book covers
Clear the shelves! Librarian Christopher Lassen rounds up a strong selection of new middle grade series and sequels, including the latest from Mike Lupica, J.A. White, and Michelle Paver.


Embracing the Darkness in Middle Grade Fiction | The Upper Deck
By Tara Kron
Tara Kron
A brand new column, the Upper Deck, recommends titles for upper middle grade through teen readers. Here, librarian Tara Kron looks at several recently acclaimed middle grade titles that explore dark, sometimes disturbing, issues—but that ultimately offer strength and hope.

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Brand New Middle Grade Debuts | SLJ Spotlight
By Kiera Parrott
Book covers
Is middle grade the new YA? After years of stellar young adult titles being squarely in the spotlight, it seems as if the tide is turning in favor of YA’s younger sibling, the middle grade novel. One indicator is the number of authors making their debuts this season—along with some well-known names trying their hands at middle grade fiction for the first time.


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Children's Services Librarian, King County Library System (Bellevue, WA)
On the Blogs
Middle School Monday—The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary | Teen Librarian Toolbox
By Robin Willis
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TLT blogger Robin Willis gives a strong review to The Night Parade, comparing the vivid imagery to Hayao Miyazaki films and recommending it for kids ages 10 to 13. 

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Last Stop for Nina | Heavy Medal
By Nina Lindsay
Nina Lindsay
Librarian Nina Lindsay bids a fond farewell to "Heavy Medal," SLJ's mock Newbery blog, as she embarks on new and varied experiences in evaluating children's literature. Her coblogger, Jonathan Hunt, will continue "Heavy Medal" in 2016. 


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2016 Battle of the Kids' Books (BOB) Contenders Announced
By Battle Commander
Battle Commander graphic
Some of the very best books published this past year go head-to-head in epic battles judged by big-name authors. Did your favorite make the cut this year? Stay tuned to the BOB blog for updates on the first showdown. 

War Through a Child’s—and a Fox’s—Eyes: Sara Pennypacker on Her New Novel, Pax
By Kiera Parrott
Sara Pennypacker
Sara Pennypacker talks about her affecting new middle grade novel, Pax, which has already garnered acclaim and much buzz.


Tracey Baptiste on Writing, Trinidadian Folklore, and Scary Stories
By Karen Yingling
Tracey Baptiste
Librarian Karen Yingling talks with Tracey Baptiste about her novel The Jumbies and the need for diverse representations in middle grade fiction.


Good Books Are Like Good Pranks: Chatting with the Terribly Funny Authors of "The Terrible Two" 
By Kiera Parrott
Cover of "The Terrible Two Get Worse"
Jokesters Mac Barnett and Jory John, whose latest "Terrible Two" book just hit shelves, chat about fooling kids, collaborative writing, and the subversive—yet honorable—underpinnings of pranking.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer | 30-Second Booktalk
By Kiera Parrott
Kiera Parrott
The first of a new video series featuring super short and handy 30-second booktalks. Here, we spotlight one of SLJ’s Best Books of 2015, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones.


Sharing the Newbery Love | Book Trailer Spotlight
By Kiera Parrott
Matt de la Peña
These short videos, featuring Newbery winner Matt de la Peña and Newbery honor authors Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Victoria Jamieson, are perfect for sharing in classrooms and libraries.

SLJ’s Day of Dialog Is Headed to Chicago!
School Library Journal Day of Dialog 2016
Planning is underway for the most anticipated librarian gathering of the year. On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, join us in Chicago as the best authors, editors, and publishers in the industry give us the inside scoop on the hottest books in the world of children’s and young adult literature. Take advantage of exclusive author signings, free ARCs, and the opportunity to network with colleagues from around the country in an intimate library-centric setting. Seats go quickly; register now to secure your spot!

Programs & Services
Parents, Privacy, and Pesky Sibs: A Middle School Perspective | Touch and Go
By Daryl Grabarek
Cover of "Middle School Confidential"
Titles in Annie Fox’s “Middle School Confidential” series have been popular with readers since they were first published. The books—and apps—tackle real-life situations and issues—from self-confidence and stress to friendships and crushes—that a group of fictional tweens and teens encounter, along with positive suggestions and commentary.


What Do Tweens Want?
By April Witteveen
Tweens at the San Mateo Public Library
In libraries, tweens often feel too old for children’s services but are wary of the world of young adults. Many youth services librarians are directly addressing the needs of this demographic by providing special spaces, programs, and services designed to meet the unique developmental needs of tweens. 

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