Picking Favorites: Sara Zarr, Carolyn Mackler, Harry Potter, AND Rick Riordan?

May 6, 2017

It’s been over a month since my last links round up, so there’s a lot happening here. Let’s dive in, shall we?


“Congresswoman Maxine Waters isn’t even reading these fools anymore. She has completely leveled up. She is like Scarlett Johansson in Lucy, that movie where she was using like 100% of her brain and she can control televisions and tell the future. That’s Maxine Waters. Except with reading. We don’t even have a word for what she’s doing yet.” — You Will Never, in Your Entire Life, Get the Best of Maxine Waters

The first teen readers of Carolyn Mackler’s highly decorated 2003 novel could be married and raising their own kids by now. And yet in the 14 years since the publication of her memorably titled The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, the drumbeat from those fans has been steady: “When are you going to write a sequel?”


Now Mackler can finally answer: “I have.” — Carolyn Mackler Expands on a YA Favorite

In other words, Norris explains, there are often altruistic reasons for the discrepancy — “but people who work in adoption say there’s one more reason, quite simply: It’s supply and demand.” — Six Words: ‘Black Babies Cost Less To Adopt’

The National Book Award finalist grew up on Judy Blume, Robert Cormier and M.E. Kerr, books where the lives of young adults were difficult in a gritty way — not the quirky way that’s become popular in the wake of John Green.


“There’s not like that whimsical road-trip cancer. … It’s more like everything is horrible and you just have to survive it,” Zarr says, laughing. — Sara Zarr explores sisterhood and struggles with poverty in Gem & Dixie

“All we know is what we know. All we survive is what we have to. Is it that bad? Is it okay? Is it just medium-bad? We don’t know. We only know what’s ours, and what it is to be us.” — Sara Zarr, telling my life story, in her Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust, Don’t Feel: Gem & Dixie, Lucy Barton, and Dysfunctional Family Systems tinyletter.

When I was 16 years old, I asked my Grannie if she’d heard what the preacher said. Whatever it was had confused me because it was illogical. It made zero sense.


“Oh, Kathy,” she said matter-of-factly. “You’re not supposed to actually listen to what he says. You’re supposed to make your grocery list or think about the week, or something like that.” — Monday Notes: Being Christ-like

“This—this clapping on every word for emphasis—is something that I have done since I was a cantankerous youth. To this day, if you catch me at a bar trying to explain to some man [insert the exhausting laundry list of topics here] I will almost certainly be doing the black girl clap. BECAUSE THIS IS A THING MANY OF US DO AND HAVE BEEN DOING LONG BEFORE THE INTERNET TRIED TO MURDER ME WITH ITS SELF-IMPORTANCE.” — Your Twitter Trend Analysis Is Not Deep, and It’s Probably Wrong (My daughter does the black girl clap, and she has spent most of her life around white people. Make of that what you will.)

“When women and nonwhite leaders advocate for other women and nonwhites, it highlights their low-status demographics, activating the stereotype of incompetence, and leads to worse performance ratings.” — Women and Minorities Are Penalized for Promoting Diversity

“The weird thing about having to write this essay at all is this: Who would have a problem with that? Doesn’t everyone want their brain surgery done by an expert surgeon rather than the guy who fixes their brakes? On the other hand, doesn’t everyone want their brakes fixed by an expert auto mechanic rather than a brain surgeon who has never fixed a flat?” — Why Expertise Matters

My former pastor (and still friend!) started a new church, and it was featured on The Today Show. If you live in Chicago, you should probably definitely check it out.

“We want to be church for and with people who’ve been turned out, turned off, or just left cold by church. We believe God welcomes all — and we have the stories of Jesus hanging out with all the ‘wrong’ folks to prove it — and so we do too.” — Chicago new church start attracts national attention before first worship service (This is yet another write up about my friend [and former minister] and his church!)

“The night before an essay is due, Student A writes her essay on id and ego in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse at 600 words/minute, while Student B writes his essay on the fallacy of division in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road at 500 words/minute. At what hour, the next day, will their grader step away from their essays and shriek like a wild banshee into his four-dollar-a-piece throw pillows?” — Math Problems for English Majors

“Every teacher has strengths and weaknesses. Have you ever tried to list yours? Doing so is a worthwhile activity.” — Understanding Our Strengths and Weaknesses as Teachers

“London Mom Katherine Peck was having a routine visit to the doctor’s office when she noticed what appeared to be an innocent children’s book about where babies come from, appropriately called Mummy Laid an Egg. It was written in 1995 by Babette Cole. Then Katherine picked up the book, and things got weird.” — Mom Discovers The Kama Sutra… For Kids

“Novels simulate the experience of thinking another person’s thoughts. I love television — I watch probably way too much — but when you’re watching TV, you’re not thinking the same thoughts. There’s no other way to do that than reading fiction. As close are you are to people you love, you will never think their thoughts or feel their feelings. That’s something the novel does that other forms cannot.” — Thinking Another Person’s Thoughts: The Millions Interviews Brit Bennett (Bennett wrote The Mothers, a novel I really enjoyed. This is an AWESOME interview about a lot of things, so you should read it even if you haven’t read her book. I’m so glad Jenny linked to it or I probably wouldn’t have seen it.)

“Friends, I have found a solution. Perhaps it will work for you!” — How I Slowed the Flood of Library Holds (This legit changed my life.)

According to Universal: “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will give guests a special opportunity to see, feel, and even taste what it’s like to celebrate the magic of Christmas in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.” — Christmas Is Coming To The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter In Florida

True North Bricks reimagines Harley Quinn’s origin story in LEGO minifigures and it is amazing.

“The problem with the YA bandwagon articles wasn’t that they wanted to celebrate how cool YA is. The problem with those listicles was that most of them, regardless of what superlative they were going for, were rounding up a bunch of books that share the label ‘I read this before I was old enough to vote,’ not YA. Harriet the Spy? Smart, feisty, subtly queer, awesome kid. YA? No. Harriet is 11 years old, and the book is for kids. Madeline? Adorable. Also a book with a large trim size, very few words, and a great deal of pictures, making it….a picturebook!” — There Is A Difference Between Middle Grade and Young Adult Lit, and It Does Matter (This is also why I get mad when the Harry Potter books are all shelved in children’s lit. Books 1-3 are middle grade. Books 5-7 are definitely YA. I would also argue Goblet of Fire as YA, but I think it could go either way.)

This Hamilton parody featuring Shakespeare (“My Plot” based on, of course, “My Shot”) is super fun.

Rick Riordan Presents (how to be a great ally and use your position to boost the voices of those from marginalized and underrepresented groups). A+ work there, Mr. Riordan.

My friend Jasmine wrote a book! See the cover reveal and read the synopsis here. You can also add the book on Goodreads. Diverse book bloggers who love romance, this will be especially appealing to you.

“If the students are the ones who have the breakthroughs, why are they thanking us? Because we created the conditions that made it possible.” — Helping Students Discover What They Can Do

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  1. K E Garland

    Wayment. Wayment. Wayment. I made the roundup with the likes of a Lucy reference, commentary about Maxine Waters, your friend who established a church and was featured on the Today Show, and Riordan? Well, I’m flattered. Thanks Doc!

    • Akilah

      Hey, you wrote the thing. (Also, I am not a doc, but thanks!)

      • K E Garland

        lol I gueeesss and oh I didn’t realize


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