Notes as the school year ends

To commemorate the end of our school year, I’ve compiled HVLA members’ chosen excerpts from page 20 of the books they were currently reading that spoke to them about the state of the world. These excerpts were chosen on Tuesday, May 26th at our final HVLA meeting. 

As I arranged and ordered these sentences to create a narrative, I reflected on the two weeks that have gone by since HVLA’s final meeting. We are sixteen days into protesting the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery and countless People of Color and people in LGBTQ communities by police and white supremacists and cases of COVID-19 cases are on the rise globally. Might we choose different books and excerpts that can speak to and guide us through this day? This moment?

There are a proliferation of anti-racist booklists circulating. Many of us are in the process of curating and sending out summer reading lists to our students. What is a booklist without active engagement? In the streets, people are risking their lives to speak out, listen and learn from each other. As an able-bodied white woman in a heteronormative family structure, now is the time for me to listen closely, fully engage in challenging my perspective, and hold up the rising leaders who are dismantling this toxic world.

This summer, join me in the streets. Let’s learn from our students, these young and fierce leaders. What books are they reading? What music are they listening to? How can we educate ourselves to support their inspiring work in leading us into a more just future?

Be safe, healthy and strong.

Black Lives Matter.



The Excerpts

(Click on the punctuation at the end of each excerpt to link to the book.)

She felt off this morning. She was still jumpy from her nightmare. She often had bad dreams, but last night’s was more vivid than ever before. 

She seemed to be in another world, as if floating on air.

“Is there a school?” Hanna asked.  It was always her first question. 

It was less a school, in fact, than an atelier run by a German painter whose true talent as a teacher lay in his ability to inspire.

I’m sure in your heads you’ve created every sort of speculation, from the likely and plausible to the wild and impossible.

He saw something in her face he never thought he’d see. Exhaustion.

The rest of the day follows a similar pattern, with minor variations: maybe she opens her curtains, maybe not; maybe breakfast, or maybe just coffee, which she takes upstairs to her room so she doesn’t have to see her family.

She told me how adding or taking away just one or two can change a character’s entire meaning. 

I guess for each one in the family it was different what was the hardest thing.

I glanced at Father. He hadn’t seemed weak until she said that he was.

The humiliation of the defeat was suffered by the whole French nation...

I can’t see everything inside it, but what I can see isn’t promising. 

I shouldn’t have raised my voice at her. I really try to be a good kid, but sometimes I get so angry.  

I can feel my eyes starting to sting from the salt.

A century later, the tradition–one that would go on indefinitely–of writing about the African was alive, and and well and more creative than ever. 

I noticed that the houses in Fort Smith were numbered but it was no city at all compared to Little Rock.  

“What’s going on?” Sierra’s hand wrapped around his arm. “Who is that?

As we left Encrucijada , I looked back for the last time in the vain hope of seeing Brígida appear in the door of the storage room, but she wasn’t there. 

I stayed in the doorway longer than I needed to.

Dad dashes over, nearly knocking the traditional wooden masks from the wall. He must have sensed there was a brag session going on.

Instead of performing, Ruby put her elbows on the back of their sofa and sighed heavily and watched the clouds drift past their window. She’d seen her father do this often when he had lost at Scrabble.

“How can you say it’s awesome?” said Janie.

Still, in his captivity, like a lower animal–like some impatient ape, or roused bear of the smaller species– the prisoner, now left solitary, had jumped upon the ledge, to lose no glimpse of this departure.  

“Whattya say we blow this popsicle stand, huh?

They’ll be fine. They’ll be better than fine. They’ll be great. 

10 Questions with Kyle Lukoff

Lisa Norberg, Acting Director of the Library at The Cooper Union and librarian at La Scuola d’Italia, spoke with Kyle Lukoff, author and librarian at Corlears, about writing, reading, and life in the library.

LN: First, congratulations on receiving the Stonewall Award for When Aidan Became a Brother. How has receiving national recognition for your work changed the way you think about your writing?  

KL: Thank you!

I think winning the Stonewall (and, prior to that, the generally good press it received) helped me trust my gut. See, it was really hard to find a publisher for Aidan. I had one editor suggest that I “team up with a talented writer,” and others give me vague, nebulous feedback saying that the story “didn’t work,” or that they “just didn’t love it.” My former agent wanted me to completely overhaul the story, but all of her suggestions involved deadnaming him, having strangers openly speculate about his gender, or include various transphobic microaggressions. Which I didn’t want to do. The last few months have proven that I was right to keep trying even when it probably made sense to give up. Which will hopefully translate to that level of confidence–or at least stubbornness–for future projects! Though who knows, that might not always be a good thing.

LN: You recently tweeted “I’m not a “real writer” I’m three very lonely creative children who like to make up stories about their imaginary friends stacked in a trench coat.” Do you think there is such a thing as a “real writer”? What’s your definition of a “real writer”?  

Continue reading “10 Questions with Kyle Lukoff”

HVLA Winter Meeting (with NYCSLA)

On February 12, librarians from both the public and independent school communities came together for a rare opportunity to comingle and collaborate in a workshop focused on the newly-revised (2019) Empire State Information Fluency Continuum (ESIFC) This multi-faceted document identifies discrete research skills and helps enable collaboration between teachers (content specialists) and librarians. What’s new in the “New IFC?” The addition of Design Thinking;  Multiple Literacies (e.g., visual and media); Social and Civic Responsibilities (e.g., diverse perspectives; digital citizenship) and Personal Growth and Agency (e.g., social/emotional growth, independent reading) to the standards. Continue reading “HVLA Winter Meeting (with NYCSLA)”

How To Host An Author- An Author’s POV

Ever wondered what an author visit is like from the author’s point of view? HVLA’s very own Kyle Lukoff, Librarian at Corlears School, and Stonewall Award-winning author of When Aidan Became a Brother, shares his insights.

I joined HVLA in the fall of 2012 when I was a brand-new librarian in my first year at the Corlears School in Chelsea. My school schedules author visits once a year, for our bookfair, and after a few years, I became responsible for coordinating those visits.

Then, in the fall of 2019, I took three months off from work to travel around the country with my second picture book, When Aidan Became a Brother. I made a lot of mistakes, and in doing so learned a lot about what goes into making a successful school visit. The HVLA board was generous enough to let me share some of what I learned with you! I’ve tried to include everything that I’ve discovered through trial and error, and also got two author friends (Michelle Knudsen and Traci Sorell) to look this over and add their thoughts. Of course, no one guide can account for every possible situation, and every individual author might have their own needs and preferences. But I hope this helps, especially when paired with clear and direct communication with the authors you’re working with.

Continue reading “How To Host An Author- An Author’s POV”

2020 Printzbery Results

Our annual Printzbery event was held Saturday, January 11, 2020. Twelve librarians gathered to discuss the merits of various MG and YA books published in 2019. In addition to awarding a Newbery, a Printz, and honors for each, our mock committee also awards a Printzbery to the most excellent book for 12-14 year olds (the overlapping ages for Newbery and Printz).

Without further ado, our winners are: Continue reading “2020 Printzbery Results”