Monthly Link Pack – May 2015

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– ICYMI – Best state in America: New Hampshire, for loving its libraries via The Washington Post

– How do you feel about eTextbooks? Putting a Dent in College Costs With Open-Source Textbooks via New York Times

– I’m curious about this app — Storehouse. It was a 2014 Apple Design Winner. They say it will “seamlessly combine photos, videos, and text into a beautiful story.” #worthatry

The Uni Project runs a program of pop-up reading rooms for New York City plazas, parks, and other public spaces. Something like this would be great in Prescott Park.

– is a project that takes on the problem of “link rot” or broken or defunct links in scholarship. via Harvard Law Today

– I learned a couple new tricks from this post – 8 Google search tips for book lovers.

– Do you need help creating bibliographies? Check out EasyBib. Another option is RefME. Just scan the barcode on the back of the book or paste a url into the site and RefMe will generate the reference for you.

– This is a fun read – “Stephen King’s “Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully – in Ten Minutes” BTW –We have King’s book, On writing : a memoir of the craft, in our collection.

– You can follow NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr. via Colossal. Which reminds me, a patron highly recommended Cosmos : a spacetime odyssey [DVD].

– Ok, so Wattpad sounds amazing. According to Common Sense Media it is “a place where teens and adults can publicly share their fiction writing in a blog-like format as well as read and comment on other people’s works.” Neat.

– SNAPSHOT of the 5 Most Popular Adult Books at PPL right now (05/01/15)

1. All the light we cannot see : a novel / Anthony Doerr.

2. The girl on the train / Paula Hawkins.

3. The nightingale / Kristin Hannah.

4. Memory man / David Baldacci.

5. The road to character / David Brooks.


The Monthly Link Pack is a blog series curated by Jennifer Moore, library clerk, maker, and sustainable style blogger. If you have a suggestion for something that should be included in a future blog post, email her at

Love is in the Air: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

a Little something different book coverA Little Something Different: Fourteen Viewpoints, One Love Story

by Sandy Hall

(Teen Fiction)

Spring is upon us and love is in the air, or between the pages, as in the case of A Little Something Different: Fourteen Viewpoints, One Love Story. Sometimes other people can see things about ourselves that we, for many different reasons, cannot.  Such is the case with Lea and Gabe, college students who can’t see love even when it’s right in front of them.  Luckily for them, practically everyone else can see the writing on the wall. The author uses people close to the couple, such as roommates and teachers, and people on the periphery of their lives, like bus drivers and baristas. Adding a little humor to the mix, the author also gives a campus squirrel a voice and even the squirrel knows that these two are meant to be together.  Gabe is very shy and Lea, though not exactly shy, is still finding her way as a college student and is reluctant to take risks. This very sweet story will have you rooting for these two from the first pages until the last!


This Youth book review was brought to you by Lisa Q. Harling. When not conducting Story Times or reading the best that kids’ authors have to offer, Lisa enjoys writing witty PSAs on Facebook, playing with her dogs and keeping up with her two adventurous sons. If you have suggestions for future book reviews, email her at

From the Director’s Pocket: April 2015

From the Director’s Pocket is a new series from – you guessed it! – our director, Steven K. Butzel. He’ll be sharing interesting links and stories with us each month. In March, he covered hacking, mindfulness, and a clean water project in Kenya.

1) Passover and

My family recently celebrated Passover, and I was responsible for leading this year’s seder. This meant picking out a haggadah, and so, for kicks, I explored some options online. That’s when I discovered, a simple platform that allows you to create a custom Passover seder using unique content, including readings, artwork and video clips, contributed by a broad community. I downloaded and used their Liberal Haggadah as well as an insert on “10 Plagues of Domestic Poverty” contributed by Avodah, a Jewish service corps. It was a big hit with everyone on a number of meaningful levels, so I highly recommend the site.


Some other available themed haggadahs include:

2) 3D Printing – New Filaments

As you may know, the library owns a 3D printer made by Makerbot, and we’re holding weekly demonstrations, usually in the lobby. In fact, using a link on our 3D Printing page, you can even submit a design for us to print out for you!

As we look toward the future, “the next big thing in consumer level 3D printing may not be the hardware itself, but rather the materials that these machines can print with.” (Source) At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, MakerBot debuted four new filaments which are expected to come to market this year. They refer to them as PLA+. PLA+ is a range of filaments that are PLA composites, featuring many quite interesting materials. The four new materials which will be released in 2015 include:

  • Lime PLA+
  • Maple Wood PLA+
  • Bronze PLA+
  • Iron PLA+

How cool is that!! I can’t wait to learn more so we can determine whether to purchase some of these new filaments. Stay tuned!

3) EdX Coding Courses: New Coding Skills Just A Click Away

The library is considering starting a coding community this fall, (something called a CoderDojo, in fact) so I’ve always got an eye out for free or affordable coding instruction and related resources. Here are a couple of free online courses that I came across on the website Both sound intriguing to me!

Introduction to Java Programming – Part 1. Learn the fundamental elements of Java programming and data abstraction.

Learn HTML5 from W3C. Learn HTML5 and core Web technologies directly from the organization creating them! Learn to code Web pages and Web sites the right way.


If you’d be interested in joining a community of coders at the library, including learners, instructors and organizers, please send me an email so I can add you to future communications on this topic.

That’s it for this month. Stay tuned for my next installment in May!

SteveFrom the Director’s Pocket is a blog series curated by Steve Butzel, Portsmouth Public Library director, dog lover, Phish (the band) aficionado, nonfiction reader, and natural resource, sustainable energy and international affairs enthusiast. If you have suggestions for something that should be included in a future blog post, email him at

Immigrant Fiction – Arrivals from Eastern Europe/Russia

CathyBlog4.29.15Landing in both England and America over the last two centuries, from Russia, Albania, Hungary, Ukraine, these parents and grandparents have stories that are ready to be brought to light.

shorthistoryA darkly comic novel with quirky characters,  A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (2005) is set in England.

He has it all worked out. She will care for him as he grows older and frailer. He will put a roof over her head, share his tiny pension with her until she finds that well-paid job… They will discuss art, literature, philosophy together in the evenings. She is a cultured woman, not a chatterbox peasant woman… She, like him, admires Constructivist art and abhors neoclassicism… a sound foundation for marriage.

Nikolai is concerned about his important research on the effects of the tractor on the 20th century, and how it “brought us to the brink of ruin through carelessness and overuse.”  The father of Nazda and Vera, he moves on from the death of his wife with the help of Valentina, his modern mail-order bride from the Ukraine.

The sisters, who are barely on speaking terms with each other, have to join forces to protect their father and in the meantime come to understand much about a long buried family history.  A humorous take on the challenges of sibling rivalry, and caring for aging parents, is put into perspective as the stories unfold.

speedoflightA Hidden Gem for its “poetry in prose” and complexity of characters is The Speed of Light by Elizabeth Rosner (2001). We get to know siblings Julian and Paula through broken snatches of stories and memories. The silence of their father after the horrors of the Holocaust, and the early death of their mother, means untold stories linger.

Dear Julian: I am staying in Pest, singing in Buda, crossing the Danube to get from one to the other. Today, wandering around the back streets… where Daddy might have grown up, I actually bent down to touch the cobblestones. They were all rounded and smooth and looking like they were the same ones he would have walked on as a child.  I felt so close to him and so far away.  I think my wings are getting tired… Love P.

Paula, an opera singer, travels to Europe on a professional and personal quest. She asks her housekeeper Sola, tormented with her own story of survival and fleeing, to assist Julian, who is brilliant but enclosed in a silent world of 16 TV screens, and spends his days writing scientific dictionary definitions.

I had a theory that my father gave up his language because it belonged to the killers; he could not live with the sounds of their voices inside his own.  In his new language, everything could be precise and unambiguous, he could speak in the vocabulary of science and never reveal his heart.  I embraced it too, the premise that everything had a reason, an explanation.

This novel is beautifully written, and many of my favorite passages are from Sola:

When it finally rains, there is a sigh in the world because it is such a relief, to finally break open.  The earth spreads its arms to welcome the water from heaven. And the laughter of the angels.

Listen to a great interview with author Elizabeth Rosner here!

triangleEncompassing life and creativity over the entire 20th century, Triangle by Katharine Weber (2006) focuses on “how we tell our stories, how we hear them and how history is forged from unverifiable truths.”

Immigrating from Russia, two sisters worked at a New York City factory in 1911. Esther was one of the few survivors of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and passed away at 106 at the West Village Jewish Home. Triangle tells the story of her granddaughter Rebecca and Rebecca’s partner George, a composer of such works as Sea Changes, based on tide charts, and Protein Rhapsodies. George has “unusual abilities – to see and hear patterns, to perceive the samenesses and the differences that other people didn’t notice, and to transpose those patterns and contrasts into musical forms.”

Rebecca and George seek to honor and respect Esther, at the same time protecting her story from Ruth, an investigative reporter determined to understand the discrepancies between Esther’s and other survivors’ accounts of the fire.

Meanwhile Esther’s story becomes like music itself – a theme and variation, a rondo whose motif returns each time a little more elaborated and explored, understanding deepening with each repetition. As in a symphony, the true story of what happened at the Triangle factory is declared in the first notes – yet it is fully revealed only when we’ve heard it all the way through to its final chords.

icecreamqueenOther stories published more recently and set in the early part of the 20th century include that of immigrant storyteller Malka, who arrive in New York City from Russia in 1913 in The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman (2014)  and Addie, who grows up in the North End of Boston in the early 1900s, in the very popular Boston Girl (2014) by Anita Diamant.

wearecalledThe struggles that cause folks to leave their homeland and the challenges they face once they arrive are consistent over the centuries.  We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride (2014) is a modern novel with several narrators. Social worker Roberta tries to work miracles – Avis, mother of a returning soldier turned policeman finds everything she thought was solid falling away beneath her – and Luis is haunted by one young boy and provides a life line for another.

In a  poignant story inspired by actual events in Las Vegas, 8-year-old Bashim’s “baba saw a slaughter right in the streets in Albania, and he yelled at the policeman who did it, and he didn’t run away fast enough, so he got put in prison.” The lives of three families and two veterans is indeed a story that will “break your heart – and then put it back together again.”

What are your favorite immigrant stories?

Hidden gems is a blog series by Cathy Okhuysen of the Public Services staff at PPL, lover of historical and general fiction and contemplative music singer. If you have suggestions for something that should be included in a future blog post, email her at

Looking for some good LOOT in Youth Services?

18938098Here’s a little secret – I love a good heist story. Art, jewels, artifacts, being launched into a world of daring,  intrigue, and glorious fiction – I love it all.  Just as its title would suggest, the middle grade novel Loot: How to Steal A Fortune by Jude Watson (Scholastic Press, 2014) falls solidly in this category and stands up to the challenge! For the 4-7th grade reader who enjoyed the 39 Clues (Scholastic Press, 2008) series, Loot will not disappoint. (In fact, Jude Watson is one of the authors of 39 Clues series).

Twelve-year-old March leads an unusual life. Unlike most kids his age, he does not go to school, hang out with his friends nor participate in clubs or sports teams.  Instead, he has grown up learning the craft of his father — a world renowned jewel thief.  The jewel thief’s jewel thief.  Traveling the world together, March has learned all the tricks of the trade which are about to be put to the ultimate test.

As the story opens, March watches his dad’s last heist go terribly wrong.  Soon March is bent over his dad, pocket heavy with stolen treasure, and hearing his father’s last words: FIND JEWELS.   As March dodges police and an assassin, he sets off on an epic adventure.  Along the way he discovers that “FIND JEWELS” was not instructions for a last heist, but rather “Find Jules” the name of his long lost twin sister!  That is just the tip of the bejeweled iceberg.  Orphanages, con-men, betrayal, corrupt cops and cursed jewels are just a few of the things that stand in the way of March and Jules disappearing into a life of luxury

What makes this story awesome?  It is filled with not one but seven clever capers all pulled off by sassy smart kids.  Like in 39 Clues, this brother-sister combo need each other to survive in this lonely world of thievery and make some fabulous friends along the way.  But, unlike 39 Clues, their relationships are complex.  I also appreciate that there is no sappy romance which would have diluted this story.  Loot: How to Steal a Fortune is just pure adventure with crazy twists and turns along the road.

For the middle grade reader looking for some high style adventure, this is a great book! From the moment you open it until the moment you close, you are on one wild ride! For similar heist-stories try these:

Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Mystery on Museum Mile  by Marcia Wells

Swindle by Gordon Korman

The Heist Society  by Ally Carter

MollieMollie is a Youth Service Library Assistant. While she loves a good heist story, she knows she would never stand up to the pressure. If you have suggestions for future heist stories please email her at

Mix Messages – Dancing in the Kitchen Mix

floyd 2-2Vengo

“Hey, I made you a mix tape.”

When I was a teenager in the eighties, those words meant magic could happen.
Mix-tapes were pocket sized treasures decorated with art, favorite lyrics, or magazine collages (in the eighties we loved ourselves a good magazine collage) and filled with new songs and artists. A mix could be a treasure map, guiding the listener to insights and feelings the mix-maker wanted known through the carefully crafted playlist. How many crushes were revealed by a mix tape? How many broken hearts mended with the help of a mix? Mixes captured moments, made for special occasions: a dance, a birthday, a road trip. Aren’t songs in a way time machines? Zipping us back to our past?

Mixes had a charming vulnerability. Not just from the feelings revealed by the mix, but the tape itself. Occasionally one would hear a clicking sound from the “play/record” buttons pressed too slowly. Mixes could include partial songs, when the mix maker missed the beginning after waiting hours by the radio (while probably crafting a magazine collage). Some tapes had blurry whirring sounds after being eaten and repaired with a pencil. Gutted and discarded cassettes were a silent testament to tapes damaged beyond the fix of a splice or a pencil, or of a relationship damaged beyond the repair of a mix.

Even as cassettes disappeared, I loved a good mix. I gave mix CDs as favors for my 30th Birthday Party, my Wedding, and friends’ baby showers. Mixes friends have made me through the years still get heavy rotation.

Using the Best Albums 2014, I thought it would be fun to make you a mix. From the CDs I listened to, I picked songs that are good for shaking winter out of our bones. Unlike many mixes, I didn’t select songs for the lyrics. Future playlists will have that criteria, but these songs are for getting down.


The playlist is also available on Spotify. The library is not endorsing Spotify, but you can hear the playlist if you use the site. You can join for free. Not all of the songs are available on Spotify. Another reason to swing by the library and check out the CDs.

Album titles link to the CD in the library catalog. The entire albums are worth a listen. Song titles link to the video on YouTube. I link you to the official video when possible.

Here’s my “Dancing in the Kitchen” Mix for you.

Ana Tijoux, “Somos Sur
Album: Vengo

Stromae, “Ta fete
Album: Racine Carree
It was hard to choose one song. I wanted to suggest at least five, but then it isn’t a “mix” as much as the CD. Give the album a listen!

Strand of Oaks, “Goshen ‘97
Album: Heal

St. Vincent, “Bring me your loves” (not the official video)
Album: St. Vincent

Hassan Hakmoun, “Ohio” (This song wasn’t available on Spotify – subbed with Balili)
Album: Unity

Alvvays “Adult Diversion
Album: Alvvays

Ty Segall, “Who’s producing you?
Album: Manipulator
(not available on Spotify and not the official video)

Black Keys, “Fever
Album: Turn Blue

Xylouris White, “Fandomas
Album: Goats

First Aid Kit, “My Silver Lining
Album:  Stay Gold
You might be swaying more than dancing to this song. This is one song I selected because of the lyrics. After this long winter, aren’t we all looking for our silver linings?

Happy Shaking!

Mix Messages is written by library assistant Heather Armitage. She enjoys reading fiction and humorous essays, traveling, trying new vegetarian recipes, and dancing in the kitchen. She’s grateful her dog, Floyd, doesn’t judge her moves. If you have suggestions for future Mix Messages, please email her at

Monthly Link Pack – April 2015

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– Are you a good speller? Then you should take the New York Public Library’s Surprisingly Tricky Spelling Bee Quiz. No spell check. No auto-correct. No phoning a friend. Just you and the timer. Good Luck! Let us know how you do in the comments.

– My cousin told me about Unroll Me. It’s a service that identifies your subscription emails and allows you to unsubscribe from the ones you don’t want anymore, while keeping the ones you do want — like the library newsletter for instance.

– Every year, following the awards season, we create a list of award winning and noteworthy movies in our collection. You can place holds on these popular DVDs online yourself, or you can fill out one of these forms the next time you’re in the library.

– One of the library blogs I read on a regular basis is the Swiss Army Librarian. He has a regular blog feature called Reference Question of the Week. I always learn something new. I continue to believe that a public library would make a great setting for a sitcom. I’m thinking Portlandia meets Party Girl. #right

– Do you post videos on YouTube? If so, you might like to know about this fairly new feature on YouTube called cards. Cards make your videos more interactive.  They allow you to “inform your viewers about other videos, merchandise, playlists, websites and more.” I haven’t played with this feature yet but I’m sure I will. To learn more click here.

– The Highlights of My Day is a blog with a highlight from a book, everyday.

–  I’m a BIG podcast fan. One of the first podcast episodes that got me hooked was the Giant Pool of Money in 2008. Serial raised the bar in 2014. If you are looking for something new, check out this list of Best New Podcasts of 2015. If you’re not sure what a podcast is, or how to listen to them on your device — make a device help appointment.

– I thought I would write about Meerkat but I guess it’s dead already. You can read all about it here. Apparently, Periscope is the way to go now. Can we agree that Periscope is the best name for this type of app?

– You can download 100,000 Free Art Images in High-Resolution from The Getty or 422 Free Art Books from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. via Open Culture.

– If you are a real library geek you might actually enjoy this. I did. Ten hypnotic minutes of real-time book requests from the British Library’s book delivery system. via No Shelf Required.


– SNAPSHOT of the 5 Most Popular Adult Books at PPL right now (3/31/15)

1. The girl on the train / Paula Hawkins.

2. A spool of blue thread : a novel / Anne Tyler.

3. All the light we cannot see : a novel / Anthony Doerr.

4. The nightingale / Kristin Hannah.

5. Dead wake : the last crossing of the Lusitania / Erik Larson.


The Monthly Link Pack is a blog series curated by Jennifer Moore, library clerk, maker, and sustainable style blogger. If you have a suggestion for something that should be included in a future blog post, email her at


Transgender Teens & GLBTQ Reading

Lisa reviews teen literature about transgender identity and acceptance, and shares our Teen GLBTQ Reading List. 

xxxxxAlmost Perfectalmostperfect

by Brian Katcher

(Teen Fiction)

Almost Perfect is an almost perfect book which honestly deals with the sometimes hard truths that can accompany friendship, love, and sexuality. Sage is new to school after being homeschooled, and Logan is fresh from a breakup with his long-term girlfriend. The two become friends and, shortly thereafter, something more. When the relationship begins to take tentative steps toward the physical, Sage reveals that she is biologically a boy. Logan, initially angry, tries to understand his attraction to Sage and what it might mean about his own sexuality. The author captures the emotions of what both characters are feeling so convincingly that when I wasn’t reading the book I found my mind wandering back to the pages, worrying how these two would resolve their feelings for one another.

xxxxrethinkingnormalRethinking Normal

by Katie Rain Hill

(Teen Biography)

Katie Rain Hill, a college student at the University of Tulsa, has bravely penned a very candid memoir about her transition from Luke to Katie at the age of 15. Thanks to journals, stories, and other materials she kept as a child, she was able to recall much about her younger self and share the story of what it felt like to be in the wrong gender. She talks about the discomfort she felt in her body from a very young age, her attraction to boys, and the ever widening gap of understanding between herself and her parents, particularly her father.  She maintains her searing honesty as she talks about the teasing she experienced in elementary school, dating in high school and later in college, and her friendships with other girls. Katie walks the reader through her first tentative steps toward living as a girl, through gender-reassignment surgery, and ultimately to her life beyond her parents’ home.

xxxxGracefully Grayson gracefullygrayson

by Ami Polonsky

(Youth Fiction)

Ami Polonsky’s short novel deals with a number of very serious issues in relatively few pages. She tackles the loss of a young child’s parents, bullying, and transgenderism without making the reader feel overwhelmed.  Grayson is in sixth grade and has learned that it is best to remain as quiet and as invisible as possible to avoid the scrutiny of other people. Grayson has long known that while she is outwardly a boy, she is in every other way a girl. But without anyone in whom she can confide, she suffers in silence and intense loneliness. In a surprise move, Grayson decides to audition for the school play for the part of Persephone. She does it for the opportunity to wear a beautiful gown and let other people see her as she really is, at least for the duration of the play. Grayson’s bravery forces the adults in her life, and her peers, to examine and judge themselves rather than her.

Additional GLBTQ Reading

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Fraternal twins and burgeoning artists Jude and Noah are inseparable until puberty hits and they find themselves competing for boys, a spot at an exclusive art school, and their parents’ affections. Told in alternating perspectives and time lines, with Noah’s chapters taking place when they are 13 and Jude’s when they are 16, this novel explores how it’s the people closest to us who have the power to both rend us utterly and knit us together. – – School Library Journal

Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

“High school senior Jamie has a crush on his best friend and finds ways to share that news with the help of several friends.”– Provided by publisher

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

In alternating chapters, eighteen-year-old Darcy Patel navigates the New York City publishing world and Lizzie, the heroine of Darcy’s novel, slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack and becomes a spirit guide, as both face many challenges and both fall in love.

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

High school junior Leila’s Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates at Armstead Academy, and if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. when a new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual, so she struggles to sort out her growing feelings by confiding in her old friends.

Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

Teen Biography. “Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning teen memoir.” — Provided by publisher

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Teen Nonfiction. “Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Each honest discussion, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.”   —

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is that they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl. Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt and her well-intentioned but old-fashioned grandmother. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

The summer after graduating from an Iowa high school, Dade Hamilton watches his parents’ marriage disintegrate, ends his long-term, secret relationship, comes out of the closet, and savors first love.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

When two teens, one gay and one straight, meet accidentally and discover that they share the same name, their lives become intertwined as one begins dating the other’s best friend, who produces a play revealing his relationship with them both.

I’ll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan

While trying to cope with his alcoholic mother and absent father, a lonely New York City teenager develops a confusing crush on another boy.

Love and Lies: Marisol’s Story by Ellen Wittlinger

When self-confident Marisol, moves to Cambridge, to work and try to write a novel, she falls under the spell of her beautiful but deceitful writing teacher.

Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan

Kyle and Judy’s parents announce they are taking in a fellow (and mysterious) student for a month. Kyle has just come out of the closet to his family and fears he’ll never know what it is like to date a guy. Judy is pretending to be born-again to attract a boy.  Both are intrigued with this new boy, who claims to be a vampire.

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

Fern feels invisible in her family, where grumpy eighteen-year-old Sarah is working at the family restaurant, fourteen-year-old Holden is struggling with school bullies and his emerging homosexuality, and adorable, three-year-old Charlie is always the center of attention, and when tragedy strikes, the fragile bond holding the family together is stretched almost to the breaking point.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Harry and Craig take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys. 

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

In Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death, Sahar and Nasrin love each other in secret until Nasrin’s parents announce their daughter’s arranged marriage and Sahar proposes a drastic solution.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Tired of being known as “the gay kid”, Rafe decides to assume a new persona when he comes east and enters an elite Massachusetts prep school–but trying to deny his identity has both complications and unexpected consequences.

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

Feeling humiliated and confused when his best friend Tessa rejects his love and reveals a long-held secret, Luke must decide if he should stand by Tessa when she invites a girl to the prom, sparking a firestorm of controversy in their small Indiana town.

 If I Told You So by Timothy Woodward

Sean Jackson’s choice is to take a landscaping job in Georgia with his father, or to stay in his small New Hampshire hometown and take a job at the local ice cream shop. He stays home and deals with the pressures of a young man who struggles with trying to tell his father that he is gay.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George

Jesse is having secret trysts with Emily, the popular student council vice president, but when they find themselves on opposite sides of a major issue and Jesse becomes more involved with a student activist, they must make a difficult decision.

Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Told from three viewpoints; Brendan, a wrestler, struggles to come to terms with his place on the transgender spectrum while Vanessa, the girl he loves, and Angel, a transgender acquaintance, try to help.

Love Drugged by James Klise

Jamie Baes has a simple strategy for surviving high school: fit in, keep a low profile, and above all, protect his secret–he’s gay. When a classmate discovers the truth, Jamie does all he can to change who he is.

Ash by Malinda Lo

In this variation on the Cinderella story, Ash grows up believing in the fairy realm that the king and his philosophers have sought to suppress, until one day she must choose between a handsome fairy cursed to love her and the King’s Huntress whom she loves.

How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity edited by Michael Cart

Presents twelve stories by contemporary, award-winning young adult authors, some presented in graphic or letter format, which explore themes of gender identity, love, and sexuality.  Shelved with the teen short story collection.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Astrid copes with her small town’s gossip and narrow-mindedness by staring at the sky and imagining that she’s sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying over her backyard. Maybe they’ll know what to do with it. Maybe it’ll make them happy. Maybe they’ll need it. Her mother doesn’t want it, her father’s always stoned, her sister’s too busy trying to fit in, and the people in her small town would never allow her to love the person she really wants to.

In Mike We Trust by P. E. Ryan

As Garth is wrestling with the promise he made his mother to wait a while before coming out, his somewhat secretive uncle shows up unexpectedly for an extended visit.


LisaThis Youth book review was brought to you by Lisa Q. Harling. When not conducting Story Times or reading the best that kids’ authors have to offer, Lisa enjoys writing witty PSAs on Facebook, playing with her dogs and keeping up with her two adventurous sons. If you have suggestions for future book reviews, email her at

Camp NaNoWriMo: April

campWriting shouldn’t just happen one month a year, and if challenges like NaNoWriMo are what get you moving you’re in luck! During your 2 month stay at Camp NaNoWriMo in April and May, you can write at a more leisurely pace. You can set your own word-count goal over 10,000 at any time during each monthly session.

One of the best parts of Camp NaNoWriMo is that all types of writing, not just novels, are allowed and encouraged! You can also choose to be placed into a digital “cabin” where you can meet new writers and participate in critiques and sharing sessions.

Here is the FAQ page for Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo: 

While we won’t be hosting any events at the library, we do encourage you to visit us and write in our cozy cubbies, in our sunny cafe (that might still have a view of a small snowy mountain range), or on our quaint couches.

Come April, I’m writing short stories. What about you?

As for graphic novel reviews, I’m almost finished with The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple, so look forward to that next time! Here are some things that I really like right now that you should check out.

Hot Dreams, music by Timber Timbre

Mr. Tall by Tony Earley


This post was written by Stacia Oparowski, a library assistant in technical services. Besides reading and reviewing graphic novels, she also participates each year in NaNoWriMo and writes the November updates. If you have a suggestion for a graphic novel she should review or if you would like a graphic novel recommendation, please email her at

Research Tips from Richard: Life at Harvard’s Widener Library

Researchers love making pilgrimages to the leading libraries in the world. The city of Boston is so blessed. For Portsmouth area residents, a trip to Boston amounts to a bus, train, or car ride, some fifty-seven miles south.    widener1

I know that an annual $250 fee for a Harvard College library card is not for everyone. ( Editor’s note: independent researchers can apply for a free, 3-month Visiting Researcher Card) This plastic card, however, opens up the resources of more than seventy libraries on campus, embracing a collection of more than seventeen million volumes, making it, in short, the largest academic collection in the world. For me, the cost is a bargain, and with one swipe of the card in the entrance gate, I share the same privileges as if I were the president of the university.

Every time I mount the steps of the Widener Library, the chief flagship depository, I know I am going to find something for the day’s effort. The periodical section is especially outstanding. All the electronic gadgetry is readily available. A superb staff is most helpful in every way. For a snack, one does not have to leave the building; a person simply heads to the basement café with its ample food and beverage vending machines. The whole experience is a researcher’s paradise.

But the Harvard library visit is not limited to the confines of Widener. While in Cambridge, one finds time to stroll around Harvard Square, a beat-of-life crossroads of every national, ethnic, racial, spiritual, religious, and political group. I am never alone, as vendors, students, street theatre, sidewalk musicians, panhandlers, and soapbox orators crowd the scene. Restaurants, bookstores, tobacco shops, ice cream parlors, and coffee houses abound.

For those inclined, one might wander over to the Revolution Books store, a place devoted to Communist, Socialist, and leftist literature. A red door marks the entrance. As a friend had gone to Red China as a tourist, I decided to stop by to purchase a few gifts.

mao1In keeping with my interests in libraries and as a historian, I recalled that Mao Zedong (also known as Mao Tse-Tung) had worked as a librarian at Peking University in 1918. Think of how world history might have changed if Mao had remained true to his library calling, along with writing poetry as a sideline. Who knows, Mao might have conceivably landed an exchange position at Widener as an expert on Chinese literature and culture. Mao chose to pursue a different career.

Speculation aside, I urge all committed students and scholars to at least walk around Harvard Square, and if so inclined to procure a Harvard library card. They will have the opportunity to search for rare and hard-to-get, even unique, items that he would not have discovered elsewhere.

For myself, I have enjoyed many happy hours at one of the finest library systems on the planet.

Happy treasure hunting!

To access the Harvard libraries, contact:
By e-mail:
By Web:
By telephone: 1-(617)-682-9043

RichardResearch Tips is written by Richard E. Winslow III, Local Historian Emeritus, who has worked in Special Collections at the Portsmouth Public Library for 30 years. He is a local historian and author on topics such as the Naval Shipyard, the Gundalow, submarines, shipbuilding, privateers, Frank Jones, and more.

  • Portsmouth Public Library

    603 427 1540

    Monday - Thursday 9 AM - 9 PM
    Friday 9 AM - 5:30 PM
    Saturday 9 AM - 5 PM

    Sunday (Sept. - May) 1 PM - 5 PM
    Sunday (June - August) Closed
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  • Being entertained by the Strathspey and Reel Society of New Hampshire. "Having Fun with Scottish Music!" Lionel Delevingne presents his brilliant and moving photos on the #antinuclear movement. If you missed this presentation, you can borrow his book, To The Village Square, from the library! Just a few of our young poets! Youth Poetry Night was a blast. Thank you to all who entered and everyone who read in the Open Mic. You're all superstars! PS: check out the winning poems in the cafe until June 15, courtesy of Infinite Imaging! Two Old Friends pleasing the crowd at the Portsmouth Public Library this afternoon. Great music! Lawn games as the sun emerges. Thanks to all the Seersucker Riders for letting the library join in!
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