Big Blue Marble Bookstore Young Adult Newsletter
October 10, 2016
   December front window
This is another election-season-inspired newsletter ... though not originally.  I was thinking, hey, time to highlight sf/fantasy -- how about I focus on dystopian novels?  And then I thought, you know, there are people right now living in some fairly dystopic realities; perhaps I can juxtapose them with each other. And then came the realisation that the sides in this election contest have great fears about the worlds that will come to pass if the opposition wins. And here we are:

So, first of all, ...hmm, I was going to say the GOP here, but so many  have jumped ship in recent weeks that I'll have to say Trump supporters...fear Americans of diverse backgrounds taking over the country.  (A valid fear, to be fair, as more of us gain power and voice.) As examples, they voice specters such as ' Taco Trucks on Every Corner,' the anti-immigration warning from the founder of Latinos for Trump, or commentator Rush Limbaugh's warning that an army of lesbian farmers is being recruited by the government. Of the two, the first is pure fantasy, and the second is loosely based on reality -- if, in reality, government recognition of existing people can be called "recruitment".  

Now, one person's dystopia can be another person's eutopia*. Many of us would welcome taco trucks on every corner , especially if they were supplied by the work of  a new generation of lesbian farmers . Those of us who feel that way have a rather different set of fears about what will happen should the opposition win. There are people right now living through the earliest crises brought on by climate change**, enduring the world of human trafficking, or surviving the vicious cycles of the criminal justice system. (See books below!) If we want those things to change, we need to make sure the world we aim for is that of tacos and lesbian farmers, and not that of science denial and divisiveness. If you're of voting age, please vote! If not yet, cheer on those who do.  Notes about voter registration in News box below.

*Eutopia is my own coining (though not mine alone): "good place," rather than utopia, which is "no place".
**Including, it turns out, the war in Syria, though I don't have a YA book for that. Suggestions welcomed!

I have now created an archive for these newsletters! As I'm no longer adding to the past-selections list on the book club page of our website, I've listed the most recent newsletters with the new recommendations in a post on our blog! Check it out.

More identity-based book recommendations on our  blog
- Celebrating Adoptive and Foster Families: A List of Books for Kids 

Take care, and keep reading! 
Books from Years Past...

Legend by Marie Lu 
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein 
Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede 
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith 
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick 
Every Day  by David Levithan
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers 
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler 
Divergent by Veronica Roth 
The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman 
Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore 

Highlighting: Dystopic Fantasy

  • Hunger Games boxed setThe Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • Legend, Prodigy, and Champion by Marie Lu
  • Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  • Ship Breaker and Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras by Scott Westerfeld
  • Little Brother and Homeland by Cory Doctorow
  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick 
Little Brother cover Ship Breaker cover  
Store News!

1) Not about the store in particular, but a reminder that tomorrow, October 11, is the voting registration deadline for Pennsylvania ( link to online registration). Delaware's is Oct. 15; New Jersey's Oct. 18.  Let's do this!  PA folk, you can check your status here.

2)  Writing News!
Submissions welcome for the fourth issue of  Mt. Airy Musers . It is a journal for kids, made by kids (ages 8-14)! The first three issues are on sale at the bookstore, and the submission period for the fourth issue is now open, extended through November 1. More information on our  Classes  page.

Musers on display

3) Playing Pokémon GO? Come battle for control of the Big Blue Marble Gym! Stop in on weekdays, tell us you're playing, and pick up a free soda!

4) Do you play D&D? On Thursdays at 5, we're hosting a weekly Dungeons & Dragons group meeting at the store, for kids ages 9-16. Come check it out!  (Dice and books available.)

5) We will be offering signed copies of this year's fabulous Kids' Literary Festival poster for sale! For details, email
Highlighting: Dystopic Reality

Ninth Ward cover
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes 
Quite a few plots of the sf/fantasy series I've highlighted here follow directly upon the heels of the devastation brought on by global climate change. One place that has already seen such devastation in reality is the city of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.  And now again, just during this writing, Haiti (in particular) in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. This book, by the author of Towers Falling, highlighted last month, takes place in New Orleans' low-lying Ninth Ward.
It is vital to have a government that recognizes the reality of climate change, if we're to have any hope of halting or reversing the tides, to avoid bringing on all those post-apocalyptic novels.

Sold by Patricia McCormick Sold cover
Lakshmi is a 13-year-old from Nepal who is sold into prostitution in India. Sold is a spare and devastating verse novel that tells her story and that of the circumscribed world in which she lives, until hope arrives, so alien to her now that she doesn't know whether or how to trust it.
Hillary Clinton has a plan.  And she has been working on this issue for decades.  Just saying.

- Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers and On the Run by Alice Goffman
On the Run isn't a YA book; it's a first person (by an outsider who embeds herself in the neighborhood) recording and analysis of the lives of people in a Philly neighborhood enmeshed in a vicious cycle of criminal justice and necessary injustice. Where attempts to get jobs or go to the hospital or attend public places are just as likely to land people in the system as the criminal acts they might undertake instead.
Lockdown is an unrelated story of a kid in juvenile detention who is offered a work project to help toward getting out -- and the place that made the connection for me is where he says that of course he wants to get out and not come back, but he's going back to exactly the same neighborhood where he went wrong before.  How is he going to escape the cycle?
Again, we need leaders who work toward breaking the cycles (even cycles they contributed to) that lead people into the criminal justice system. Who work to understand the problems of implicit bias and systemic racism in our country and work to confront them, rather than pretend they don't exist.

On the Run cover Lockdown cover

Big Blue Young Adult Book Discussion

For adults who read YA and teens who like to talk about books  


We had our final meeting on May 19. Newsletters will continue, with recommendations and reviews, and relevant events.  Feel free to send a review or comment!


Please join us on the fourth Thursday of the month (with some exceptions) for the Big Blue Young Adult Book Discussion, led by Jen Sheffield.  The young adult genre refers to the books under discussion; readers of all ages are welcome.  The books do not have to be big or blue, though that's always nice.


For a list of past selections, check out the Book Clubs page on the Big Blue Marble website. For links to the continuing newsletters and these new recommendations, see the bookstore blog.