Zelda Program

I bet you are wondering, where is all the programming? 
Working full time & going to grad school has prevented me from sharing this, but it doesn't mean I have stopped doing tween programming at my library!

In the last several months, Alyssa and I have done a Halloween Scooby Doo program, an Elf themed Christmas party, and most recently we did a fandom party for Valentines Day. 

Out of all of these programs my favorite is a Zelda themed program.

The Zelda program was requested by our teen council. When it was relied to me that this program was requested, I become really excited. I am a HUGE Zelda fan, but I was stuck on how to make a game into a library program.  I had to go back to the game to get ideas. 

As I have mentioned in the past, stations seem to work best with our tweens. We stuck with this pattern and had several stations set up. Here is what we had:

-Paper Gem - Make your own paper rubees.
Using Pinterest, I came across this origami paper gem.

-Make your own paper masks- In the game, the character Link wears different masks for different powers. I printed out some masks for the kids to try to make.

Shooting Gallery- I originally planned to use a plastic bow and arrow to allow the kids to shoot a target a target on the white board. The day of the program, however, I discovered that the bow & arrow was broken. As I am learning to become a children's librarian, I think one of the most valuable skills is improvision.  I quickly colored a target and had participants use a ping pong ball to try to hit the target. This worked a lot better!

Defend your favorite Zelda game, and put the games in order- for this station, I had the kids try to put the games in order of their release. From there, participants were supposed to vote on their favorite Zelda game.

Potion Shop- The week before I did this program, I helped Ms. Val with a Harry Potter program. One of the activities we did for her Harry Potter program was play the game Bean Boozled. The tweens went CRAZY over it. They wanted to play the game again. To help meet this request, I created a "potion shop" similar to the game. Participants could play the game Bean Boozled or they could choose a jelly bean at random from a Jelly Belly variety pack and guess what the flavor was. This station was the most popular.

Play Super Smash Brothers & Coloring
From the past, I know Wii games are successful in tween programming. I wanted to set out a Zelda game, but was unsuccessful at finding one in time for the program. To help supplement this, I set up Super Smash Bros Brawl. Even though this isn't an exclusive Zelda game, it does have the character Link in it! I set out coloring sheets at this station so the people waiting on playing this game would have something to do. This turned into more of a boy and girl station. I had 5 boys flock instantly to the Wii and 4 girls that just wanted to color. Even though this didn't go as planned, it worked out well. The girls especially enjoyed eating Jelly Bellys, coloring, and talking about Zelda. The boys...well, they enjoyed the time on the Wii!


This program flowed really well, and we did have a higher attendance for a winter program. The most successful stations were the coloring, Jelly Bellys, and the Wii game. I think the tweens most enjoyed just meeting other people who shared their interest. 

What I learned

This program was a stretch. I had a lot of trouble coming up with activities.
The night before this program, the tween that requested this program came by the desk to talk to me. She expressed how much she appreciated that we did this program for her. My favorite comment from that conversation was that she said that she felt valued and that she was literally counting down the days until the program. Moments like these are so special to me.

This reminded me how important our teen council is.  I hope to someday be able to do a tween coucil of my own.  Does anyone do a tween council at their library?

If you are interested in the other programs that I mentioned, please let me know. I would be happy to talk about them with you. We are slowly preparing for summer reading tween programming.
What are you doing for tweens at your library?


Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda

Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda
By: Becky Albertalli

Release Date: April 17, 2015
Pages: 320
Grades- 8 and up

William C. Morris Award Winner
National Book Award Longlist
The Story 

Simon is a normal sixteen year old living in Georgia.

His family watches the Bachelor religiously

He has a Golden Retriever named Bieber (Named after Justin Bieber to be exact)

He is a huge Harry Potter fan

....and he is gay.

He isn't ready to tell anyone yet though. The only person that knows is Blue. Simon met Blue over an anonymous Tumbler page. Blue is gay too and goes to Simon's school, but they are anonymous to each other. Their quiet friendship is only evident within the emails they share with one another. One day, a classmate named Martin finds Simon's email pulled up on the library computer. He approaches Simon and tells him that he knows he is gay and found his emails to Blue.

He will expose Simon to the school, unless he helps him to get with Simon's friend Abby. Cornered, Simon agrees to help.

Simon must now try to get his friend Abby to date Martin all the while trying to hide his secret and protecting Blue, but who is Blue?


I hate to admit it, but I don't read much LGBT literature. The LGBT books that I have read were just strictly about how the character was a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This really annoyed me because there is so much more to a person then this. What I loved about this book is that the character Simon is well developed.  He is just a normal kid.
The character has a wonderful family, hilarious friends, and is passionate about drama.

The bigger theme of this book is being afraid of showing your true self.  It was brilliant! I think this is a universal theme that a lot of people can relate to.

I also really enjoyed the mystery of trying to figure out who Blue was.
I stayed up late with Simon trying to figure it out.  (At one point I suspected everyone). When it was finally revealed, I flipped back through the book looking for clues that I might have missed.

What a great story!


There is a lot of swearing.
It is characteristic of the character, but for reader's advisory it is something to make note of.

Favorite Quote 

I don't remember openly giggling to a book in a long time.
This book had so many hilarious and relatable  quotes.

One of my favorite is:

"Awkwardness achievement unlocked." 
"Should we be filming this?"


This book is delightful. I would recommend it for grades 9 and up.

With its incredible plot line I can see why it was the winner of Morris Award.
 I look forward to sharing this book with my teens. 

Sweet Sounds and Farewell

Hello All,

I first, wanted to say how much I have enjoyed this blogging journey with you all and how much Pam and I appreciate your readership. It is now time for me to move on to other adventures, but I hope you will continue to support Pam as she remains one of the few voices and advocates for tweens in the library world! I promised you a while ago I would review certain audiobooks. Here are the remaining titles, with a brief thought about each one.  

The Unmapped Sea is one of the most vocally diverse single-narrator audiobooks I have ever listened to. Katherine Kellgren is utterly brilliant, and she could not share her brilliance with more worthy characters than the Incorrigibles. She astonished me with her masterful performance of at least fifteen distinct British and Russian accents. Possibly the most well-written middle grade book of 2015, The Unmapped Sea is extraordinarily witty, surprising, tender, and assuredly endearing. Even though the book is the fifth in a series and the only book out of that series I have read, I am in love with the Incorrigibles. If you like British things, then listen to this book. If you ever wondered what children who have been raised by wolves are really like, then please, listen to this book. If you are a human who enjoys well-written middle grade novels, then listen to this book!

For all of you who have listened to The True Meaning of Smekday, you are already in love with Bahni Turpin. Here is another reason to count her among your favorite narrators. Jump Back, Paul deftly utilizes the talents of Bahni Turpin and Dion Graham to bring to life a unique take on the life of Paul Lawrence Dunbar. This prolific poet is relatively unknown now, but everyone will recognize a line from one of his poems that became the iconic title of the Maya Angelou book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Told in alternating biographical account, read by Bahni Turpin, and poems performed by Dion Grahame, Jump Back, Paul will enthuse even those with little love for non-fiction (like me!) In the beginning, it is said that Paul's poems aren't meant to be read in silence, but heard! Listen to this one and revel in the delicious rhythm of the poems of Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

Randi Rhodes has the feel of one of the higher quality Disney Channel movies. This is why I think kids are really going to enjoy this one. (And it's probably why I enjoyed it so much, myself...) Spencer does a good job giving the characters multiple issues that will resonate with kids in a variety of situations. Randi Rhodes is one of the few on this list that does not have much added to it by the audiobook format. Despite Spencer's acting successes, she is only a mediocre narrator. The audiobook was undoubtedly enjoyable, but not impressive. Unlike Jump Back Paul, for example, this one could be read or listened to with virtually the same results.

The multi-narrator format of The Tapper Twins will make this one more appealing to some listeners, but Cassandra Morris is undoubtedly the strength of the audiobook. Her performance is spot on. Humorous and very true to the thoughts and feelings of tweens, The Tapper Twins was overall and enjoyable listen. However, I did find the characters occasionally annoying and did not feel like some of the more questionable hijinks were thoroughly condemned and discouraged. This is sure to be a favorite among siblings and will doubtless be listened to on many family road trips.

I have spoken to several kids who greatly enjoyed reading, Pip and I can understand why. Pearce and Stiefvater's world building is excellent. (You will find yourself driving down the road and wondering what happened to all the unicorn farms you distinctly remembered were on your commute..) In addition, once again, Cassandra Morris' performance is flawless. While there were times I became bored with the plot line, this audiobook has stayed with me. For lovers of the magical, the quirky, and a solid middle-grade formula, this is the book for you!

Farewell, and I hope to see you sometime in the library world!


When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad

Goodreads Synopsis

In the tradition of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and PIPPI LONGSTOCKING comes a heart-warming novel about love, family, grief, joy and the power of laughter and imagination. When Inge Maria arrives on the tiny island of Bornholm in Denmark to live with her grandmother, she's not sure what to expect. Her grandmother is stern, the people on the island are strange, and children are supposed to be seen and not heard.   But no matter how hard Inge tries to be good, mischief has a way of finding her. Could it be that a bit of mischief is exactly what Grandmother and the people of Bornholm need?


First of all, isn't the cover gorgeous? I was in love from the moment I saw it...
 Poor Inge Maria. She doesn't mean to cause trouble, (well, most of the time,) but mischief is determined to find her. If you are searching for a book fraught with hijinks and short, humorous accounts, When Mischief Came to Town is the story for you. The quirky writing is both occasionally shocking (perhaps due to cultural differences) and charming. Nannestad weaves a tale reminiscent of Pollyanna and Pippi Longstocking, that is simply hilarious. There are very few books that make me laugh out loud, but this was one of them! I found several incidents rather disturbing, such as Henry the turkey's almost early demise. In addition, Grandmother's parental skills are cold and fairly questionable in the beginning. Furthermore, Inge Maria is never truly made to face consequences for her not-always-innocent actions. However, the humor and heart of this story overcome most my misgivings and I would recommend this story to anyone looking for a good laugh!

Disclosure: I read an Advanced Reader Copy received from the publisher.

Lizzie and the Lost Baby by Cheryl Blackford

Goodreads Synopsis

Cheryl Blackford's debut novel is set in England during World War II and told from the dual perspectives of ten-year-old Lizzie, a homesick girl evacuated from bomb-blitzed Hull to the remote Yorkshire valley, and Elijah, a local gypsy boy. When Lizzie discovers an abandoned baby, her dangerous friendship with Elijah is put to the test. Will Lizzie be able to find the baby's parents? And if she does, can she and Elijah remain friends in a world clouded by prejudice and fear?


Lizzie and the Lost Baby delves into an issue of prejudice that has been haunting Europe for centuries, but is not often discussed. Gypsies have been treated with disdain since medieval times, sometimes because of wrongs they have committed, but other times simply because of who they are. In the case of Elijah's family, it seems the prejudice is due more to who they are than their actions. The way the village folk deal with his family is reminiscent of the treatment of African Americans in the United States received before the civil rights movement. It was refreshing to read a novel acknowledging this problem. (The only other story I can think of off the top of my head that addresses this is The Hunchback of Notre Dame.) Have you read any books that have handled this issue well? 

Despite the interesting topic, the character development throughout the entire book is poor. I found myself having a difficult time remaining interested in any of the characters and their problems, because they were so one-dimensional. Frankly, I was bored with this book. I first learned about Lizzie and the Lost Baby from a webinar and was quite intrigued. A book addressing prejudice against gypsies and displaced English children during the Blitz sounded like an engaging read for this history buff. Unfortunately, even my love for history could not overcome the lack of magic in this forgettable novel.

Disclosure: I read an Advanced Reader Copy received from the publisher.

What are your favorite current middle grade novels set in WWII?


An Interview with Lindsey Leavitt & Robin Mellom

Please welcome Lindsey Leavitt & Robin Mellom to Tween You & Me

The Pages Between Us 


About the book (from the publisher) 

Told in letters, posters, blog posts, homework assignments, and more, The Pages Between Us is a totally fun, totally earnest snapshot of middle grade friendship—and what it truly means to be there for someone during the ups, downs, and everything in between.

Piper and Olivia have been best friends since…well, forever. But they're distressed to find that their new middle school schedules aren't giving them enough together-time. Luckily, an idea sparks when Piper finds a cute, sparkly notebook to disguise as her "French Class" homework. It's genius—now the two BFFs can stick together all the time. And document their adventures—you know, for anthropology's sake.

But as the two navigate the tricky new world of sixth grade, they realize that they may need to branch out more than they originally thought. Their notebook, once a life raft, begins to feel like a big responsibility. Can they grow up, without growing apart?

Q&A Questions

1. What inspired you to write The Pages Between Us? 
Did you draw on memories or events from your own life?

Robin: When I was in junior high, my BFF and I kept a secret journal. We exchanged it between classes and made it look like it was a boring old history notebook. At first we wrote general “how my day is going” letters. But then it moved on to writing fiction for each other. Sometimes we would give each other a prompt and the other had to write the most bizarre story about it. Like: Write a story with the Pope and Papa Smurf as best friends. It got strange. But it was a blast! Later, when I became a writer, I wanted to use that notebook idea but I knew it would take another writing partner to do it justice. A perfect writing partner. I knew Lindsey through writing conferences and I loved her writing. I also knew her sense of humor was sassy, smart, and well...perfect. I popped the question and she accepted! We wrote emails to each other in the voice of 12 year old girls Piper and Olivia. After a while we had a book-size amount of emails. What I loved most was trying to make Lindsey laugh...just the way I’d tried to make my BFF laugh all those years ago.

Lindsey: YEP! See above :)

2. What do you hope kids will take away after reading your work?

Lindsey: 2 things: 1. Girls are funny. They’re not just funny “for a girl”. They are funny regardless of age, gender, or looks. And there are lots of different ways to be funny, and one of the BEST feelings is finding a friend who shares your sense of humor (amiright, robin?) 2. Just because your problems might seem small to someone else, doesn’t mean they aren’t big and valid to you. Middle school can be scary in so many different way, but it can also be fun.

Robin: I hope kids will see that we ALL feel worried when big changes happen. But finding the humor in those moments will help you through. Having a friend--a true and loyal friend who “gets” you--will always make anything that feels impossible...actually become...possible.

3. What were you like when you were a tween? 
Did you have any favorite authors that inspired you?  

Lindsey: I wore my hair the same way almost every day--half up/half down. Someone asked me what I looked like with my hair down, and I was scared to do a noticeable change, so I never wore my hair down. My pants were always too short. I was loud around boys I liked. I was loud around boys I didn’t like. I wrote letters to my future self, who lived on a farm and was married to a rancher from Montana (spoiler: didn’t happen). I was scared of failure. I loved my family, friends, and church. I never ate vegetables.

Robin: I was always the shortest and quietest kid in class. But in eighth grade I grew like a weed and was suddenly the tallest (but still rather quiet) (unlike Lindsey). But like Lindsey, my pants were always too short. My shins hurt. Mom would put a warm cloth on my legs at night and make me drink milk. She said it was the best way to deal with growing pains, but there was no internet back then so I’m sure she was just making it all up. I wrote stories and drew the cover and named the chapters. But I never shared them with anyone. I read Judy Blume. Over and over.

4. How has your teaching backgrounds helped you as a writer?

Lindsey: The best way for me to learn anything is to teach it. When I taught fifth grade, we wrote fractured fairy tales and I had to contribute a character. If the kids researched a state, so did I. I wrote during journal time. I read during reading time. And I worked through the revision process over and over again. That was a lot of my education before I began writing professionally. But mostly, teaching kids of all ages reminded me what my own fears and dreams were at those ages. As an author, it’s vital that I preserve that.Oh, I just read what Robin wrote. That too (YES, Robin answered most of these questions first. She is the star student in this pairing).

Robin: I spent several years teaching fifth grade. The following year they would move on to this strange and scary place called “Middle School.” I had to prepare my fifth graders for the transition and it was during this time in my life when I would answer their questions about all the changes they were about to face, that I realized this was a topic I wanted to write about. Being a tween...and dealing with change. I am weirdly/strangely/proudly obsessed with writing about kids who must deal with change.

5. Here at Tween You and Me, we believe strongly in advocacy for tweens. What advice would you offer librarians and other professionals who would also seek to be tween advocates?

Lindsey: I have 2 eleven-year-old daughters  (one biological, one step) who have super different interests and personalities. Sometimes we worry one kid isn’t growing up fast enough. Sometimes we worry the other daughter is growing up too fast! I really have to remind myself that they are individuals who will grow, develop and learn at their own speed and to make sure I’m not pushing them up or down. Middle school is such a balancing act that way, and I really applaud middle school librarians who create and atmosphere with literature and activities that appeal to such a broad range.

Robin: Tweens can be deeply thinking individuals. They are starting to ponder the BIG questions in life. What makes me happy? Is this feeling normal? How do I figure out who I am? So advocates should listen, listen, listen. Ask tweens for their input, their suggestions, their ideas. And also respect their need for silliness and fun. NO ONE knows how to have a good time like a group of tweens.   

6. You have a lot of new books coming out! Would you like to talk about those?

Lindsey: Yep! Robin and I are working on final revisions for the the next Pages Between Us book! She’ll tell you more. She’s good at that. In addition, I have a new early chapter book series releasing in May called COMMANDER IN CHEESE. It’s about a mouse family that lives in the White House and ohh, it’s adorable.

Robin: Book 2 of THE PAGES BETWEEN US gets wild and weird and it all surrounds the school’s Battle of the Books. If you’ve ever held one of these battles at your school, this book will make you snicker. At the same time, we dig deeper into Piper’s emotional life at home and Olivia’s vision of who she is and how she fits into this world. In addition, I have another new middle grade novel releasing next year titled CONFESSIONS FROM THE PRINCIPAL’S KID. (Yep, I was the kid of a principal.)

7. If you could go back into time and give your tween self some advice, what would it be? 

Lindsey: Let your hair down. Literally.

Tween Robin: That time when your dad cut your hair, it was cute. There was no need to wear turtlenecks in an attempt to hide your new bob. Just own it. In fact, anytime you’re worried about what other people think of you, remember that they also poop and burp and fart...EVEN THE COOL ONES. We are all humans...your job is to be a happy one. YOU GOT THIS.

Thank you so much for stopping by Lindsey & Robin!

If you would like to know more about these amazing ladies, please visit  Lindsey & Robin's websites: 

Robin Mellom
Lindsey Leavitt

The Pages Between Us will be on sale February 9th, 2016.  

The Door by the Staircase

The Door by the Staircase 
By: Katherine Marsh 


Release Date: January 5. 2016
Pages: 288
Age Range: 8 and up 

The Story 
Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can't stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn't go quite as well as she'd hoped, Mary fears she'll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever. 

The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary, and the matron's all too happy to get the girl off her hands. Soon, Mary is fed a hearty meal, dressed in a clean, new nightgown and shown to a soft bed with blankets piled high. She can hardly believe she isn't dreaming!

But when Mary begins to explore the strange nearby town with the help of her new friend, Jacob, she learns a terrifying secret about Madame Z's true identity.  

Madame Z is the historically terrify Baba Yaga. 

If Mary's not careful, her new home might just turn into a nightmare.

Story synopsis provided by Amazon 


I liked learning about the Russian Folklore that is sprinkled throughout this book. Marsh does a wonderful job of creating a creepy and yet  magical story line. It can be slow at times, but if you hang in there, you will be rewarded with a fantastic story. I especially enjoyed the twist at the end. It reminded me a great deal of Neil Gainman's Coraline. I think it reminded me of this book in regards to the parallel magical world. I would highly recommend paring this book  with a non-fiction book on Russian and Slavic Folklore or on Baba Yaga herself. If you have this history, it will help to make the story more enjoyable. 


This isn't for the faint of heart. It is definitely creepy. My biggest concern is finding an audience for this book. Even though it was beautifully crafted, I am not sure who to book talk this book to.  Perhaps if it is marketed as a magical fantasy story? 


I am seeing more and more books with Baba Yaga as a central character. In the publishing world, I  think this has become a trend. Although I did find it interesting, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. 

Baba Yaga

Here are some resources about the origins of Baba Yaga:

Baba-Yaga flying

If you like this book, you might like: 

- Pamela