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SYNC Audiobooks: Summer 2017 season begins!

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Attention, audiobook fans! SYNC Audiobooks for Teens is back for another season. SYNC is a FREE summer reading program sponsored by AudioFile Magazine that pairs high-interest fiction and nonfiction audiobook titles based on weekly themes. Each week, participants can download two full audiobooks via the OverDrive App. Just download the app and sign up for notifications for when each weekly download is available (each Thursday morning at 7 am). It’s completely free, and the best part is, these titles are yours to keep! Check out the titles and sign up for updates here:  

Week 1 Titles:

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Week 2 Titles:

Feed by M.T. Anderson

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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April is a busy month. Jam-packed into a mere thirty days, we celebrate the following annual observances: School Library Month, National Poetry Month, National Autism Awareness Month, and Occupational Therapy Month. All of this in addition to spring break and Earth Day!

In honor of National Poetry Month and National Autism Awareness Month, we have some great new titles on display in our library. Here are two of my favorites:

For National Poetry Month: Ronit & Jamil by Pamela Laskin. This lovely novel in verse tells the story of Ronit, an Israeli girl, and Jamil, a Palestinian boy, who live on opposite sides of a barrier fence separating Israel and Gaza. Despite their differences and the conflict that divides them, when these teenagers meet, sparks fly. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the book unfolds in a series of poems in the alternating voices of Ronit and Jamil, interweaving samples of classic Persian verse, hip-hop, and text messages. Unlikely Shakespeare’s tragedy, this story ends on a hopeful note.

For Autism Awareness Month: Same But Different: Teen Life on the Autism Express by Holly Robinson Peete, Ryan Elizabeth Peete, and RJ Peete. Co-authored by two real-life teen siblings and their mom, this brave and funny book is written in the voices of the two twins. Charlie has autism; Callie does not. In alternating chapters, the twins swap stories about the roller coaster ride of growing up, including the challenges of school, dating, and bullying – with autism in the mix. Whether you have autism, a sibling with special needs, or you are or have ever been a teenager, this book is for you.

Come on up to the 2nd floor of the mansion, and celebrate the month of April – and the power of school libraries!

The Serpent King and 2017 Morris Award Finalists

In the months ahead, I’ll be highlighting new additions to our library collection that have recently won or been nominated for awards. One of the major awards in young adult literature is The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, which was first awarded in 2009. The Morris Award “honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.” YALSA recently announced the 2017 Morris Award Finalists. I’ll highlight one of these today.


The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is an unusual story about an unusual group of friends: Dill, a talented musician whose Pentecostal minister father is in jail for unspeakable crimes; Lydia, whose hipster fashion blog promises to launch her far away from their rural Tennessee town; and Travis, who finds meaning and, maybe, real love through his favorite fantasy series and online fandom. The novel unfolds in the third person, with alternating chapters devoted to the experience and perspectives of the three characters.

I loved these characters, their realness, and the complexity of their struggles. And it was refreshing to read a young adult novel set in the rural South, in which issues of poverty, class, and religion simmer in the foreground. Among other things, this book takes an honest and compelling look at the challenges facing working class young people, some of whom are the first in their families to consider applying for, let alone attending college. While the serpent theme was somewhat underdeveloped ( more snakes, please!), this debut novel by Jeff Zentner is full of brains and heart.

Reading Without Walls Challenge Update

I’m thrilled to share that 18 individuals (students and faculty) have signed up for the “Reading Without Walls” Challenge! It’s not too late to participate. See Ms. Murphey in the Library to sign up, and mark your calendar for Thursday, 12/15. We’ll have a party and book discussion in the Library during mentor period and lunch, with prizes and donuts for everyone who successfully completes the challenge. See below for criteria and proud RWW Challenge participant, Mr. Needham. 


Local Author/Illustrator Night at Children’s Book World: Friday, 11/4

On Friday, November 4th at 8 pm, Children’s Book World in Haverford will host their annual celebration of local authors and illustrators. Over 30 local authors and illustrators will attend, including Hill Top parent Gene Barretta. Come meet, chat, and get your books signed! See below for a full list of authors/illustrators. 



Creepy Reads

Halloween is just around the corner, so I’ve packed the library’s display shelves with creepy reads (and listens) to send a chill down your spine. Highlights include a great selection of graphic novels and nonfiction, such as an illustrated Macbeth by the great Gareth Hinds; Emily Carroll’s spooky and gorgeous fairy tale collection, Through the Woods; and the weird and wonderful The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan by Sean Michael Wilson and Michiru Morikawa. If you’re looking for an audiobook, check out The Diviners by Libba Bray, or dive into the history and sociology of cadavers with Mary Roach’s Stiff. Ready to take on a classic? Step into the world of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Don’t forget your flashlight!




On October 14th, Hill Top’s 8th grade attended a talk called “The Art of the Possible: Overcoming Adversity” with syndicated cartoonist, West Philly native, and Shipley alum Robb Armstrong. It was so inspiring to hear Robb’s life story – and to see him in action with his markers. After a long wait, we FINALLY received our copy of Robb’s new memoir, Fearless: A Cartoonist’s Guide to Life. It’s full of (literally) colorful stories about Robb’s rough and tumble siblings, dealing with early loss and hardship, and getting to meet his idol, Charles Schultz. Each chapter is bookended with an Art Lesson (“Learn to sketch fast and loose”) and a Life Lesson (“Stick to your dreams”). I love this book, and hope you will, too.