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Blog, News and Happenings

With such an attention-grabbing title, how can I NOT blog about it?  Plus it received starred reviews in School Library JournalPublishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and just about everywhere else you can star reviews.

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
Vancouver teenager Petula de Wilde is aware that her personality is the very opposite of her last name. Since her sister died two years earlier, Petula constantly washes her hands, avoids construction sites (lest she get killed by falling stray metal), and scours the Internet for articles on random and accidental deaths to add to her scrapbook. She no longer pursues her many (more optimistic) craft projects, nor does she speak to her former best friend. Things begin to change after a new boy with a prosthetic arm shows up in her mandated art therapy classes. Jacob is gregarious, confident, and determined to make Petula come out of her shell. His enthusiasm for life and his ability with a camera pull them together and allow them both to heal, but is Jacob all that he seems? Will Petula and the other art therapy students be able to help Jacob as much as he has helped them? Nielsen has created a compelling, precociously paranoid protagonist and a bevy of wisecracking, heartwarming characters. But perhaps the novel’s greatest strength is its handling of the characters’ very real burdens with sympathy, wit, and not an ounce of melodrama. Nielsen excels at depicting troubled, clever teenagers in familiar environments. VERDICT Readers who are looking for a darker, more urban, but similarly hopeful Sarah Dessen novel will find it in this poignant book. (School Library Journal)

Have you discovered The Friendship Garden series by Jenny Meyerhoff?  I was just thinking about it because the newest book in the series came out this month, and its title goes along with the Story Lab I'm doing this afternoon at 4 p.m.

Starry Skies and Fireflies
The fifth book in the Friendship Garden series finds Anna and her friends sleeping under the stars in the garden’s first-ever urban campout!
Calling all campers! The Friendship Garden is having a summer sleepover under the stars! Get ready for: 1. Ooey, gooey s’mores 2. Toasty camp fires 3. Ghosts??  Anna is excited for an end-of-summer party with her friends, but she is NOT excited for creepy stories. Anna doesn’t like the dark…or being scared! But her buddies at the Friendship Garden want to tell ghost stories and play scary games! And Anna doesn’t want to look like a ‘fraidy cat, so she decides that she’ll just skip the party instead.  Can Anna’s friends convince her that being scared is sometimes fun? Or will she miss out on the Friendship Garden’s party of the year?