Holding Up the Universe

holding up the universe

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

For fans of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ comes this young adult novel about two sixteen year olds conquering their external and internal demons…

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is a book told from the two main characters’ perspectives (Jack and Libby). Jack and Libby are high school juniors who attend Martin Van Buren High School in Amos, Indiana. Both characters have personal struggles that accompany them throughout their daily lives.

Jack has Prosopagnosia, a neurological disorder where people cannot recognize other people’s faces, even those of close loved ones. Jack has not confessed his condition to anyone until he meets Libby their junior year of high school. In addition to this, Jack is very angry with his dad’s poor choices and how they affect his family.

Libby is returning to school for the first time since fifth grade. She stopped attending after being bullied about her weight. Then her mother passed away suddenly. Libby gained a significant amount of weight following her mother’s death which ultimately resulted in her having to be cut out of her home and becoming an unwanted viral story. Through therapy, a strict meal plan, the help of various professionals, and encouragement from her father she makes a lot of strides and feels ready to return to school her junior year.

Libby dreams of joining the school’s dance team, the Damsels, since she loves to dance. Jack wants to fit in with his peers, but in his free time he creates things. Throughout the book Jack is working on a robot for his youngest brother, Dusty. Early on, Libby and Jack are brought together by an unfortunate encounter. They quickly learn new things about each other and begin to develop feelings. Will their relationship last? Will Jack come to terms with his disorder and tell others about it? Will Libby’s dancing moves wow the Damsels? You’ll have to read to find out!

Review by Cathy Liebenau

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Resources for Students and Parents Learning from Home


Participate in citizen/crowdsourced science activities that are perfect for adults and older teens.

Kids can read Ranger Rick magazine digital editions free for the next few months. Also explore crafts and fun activities on their website for free through June.

Explore the natural world with science activities for young learners from National Geographic Kids.

Learn about space through ebooks, games, and activities with NASA and Access Mars (NASA & Google).

Explore weather at National Weather Service.


Aquariums and Zoos

Tune in on weekdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. CST, for live Virtual Visits on the Sedgwick County Zoo Facebook page where they bring the Zoo to you with educational tidbits from our keepers and behind the scenes looks at some of your favorite animals.

Enjoy livestreams and educational content from aquariums and zoos across the world:
Atlanta Zoo
Cincinnati Zoo (YouTube link)
Explore.org Live Nature Cams
Georgia Aquarium
Houston Zoo
Monterey Bay Aquarium
National Aquarium
National Marine Sanctuaries
New England Aquarium
San Diego Zoo
Smithsonian National Zoo
Wildearth, South Africa- Live streaming safaris



Fun STEAM challenges and games from PBS Kids Design Squad.

Students of all ages can learn to code for free with fun games and activities.

Daily demos, activities & shows from Wichita’s Exploration Place on YouTube.



Free publications and lessons from the Math Learning Center for all grades.

Free math videos, interactive lessons, and more for all grades from PBS Kids.

Free math printables and online math games for students in preschool through 5th grade.



Have fun with free printables and activities from some of your favorite books from Brightly.

Discover new books with Booklist and Book Links, whose content is freely available until further notice.

Read free ebooks and eaudiobooks from APL with the Sunflower eLibrary.

Books with Blue – storytime from the Andover Police Department on Facebook Monday-Friday at 2:00 pm.

Take virtual tours of libraries around the world.

Free audiobooks perfect for readers aged 0-18. Enjoy books for the littlest listeners, tween and teen audiobooks, classics, and fairytales from Audible.

Older learners will enjoy this video library of non-fiction author interviews and presentations via CSPAN.


Arts and Culture

Free online guitar lessons for three months from Fender. No credit card required.

Visit famous museums and galleries for a virtual tour.

Learn history, art, culture, and the sciences with help from Smithsonian Lab.

Lunch doodles with Mo Willems, the author of the Elephant & Piggy books. Everyday at noon on YouTube.

Virtually explore US National Parks:
Bryce Canon National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park
Hawaii Volcano National Parks
Kenai Fjords National Park
National Park Service
Yellowstone National Park
Yosemite National Park
Grand Canyon National Park 


Virtual School Activities – live educational webcams, virtual tours/trips of museums and historical sights, and other fun educational activities.

Read Time for Kids digital editions free through the end of the school year.

New free daily activities and videos for young children and their families, part of the New York State Library early reading initiative.

Learners in pre-K to 9th grade can enjoy day-by-day projects and learn at home with free help from Scholastic.

Make learning at home easy with free videos, lesson plans, and activities for learners in PreK to 12th grade from PBS Kids.

Great free printables, free worksheets for writing prompts, telling time, math, sight words and more!


Kansas State Library Resources

Check out these resources available for free with your Kansas State Library card. Don’t have a Kansas State Library card? Send us an email, we can help!

(hint: click on the image below to open a PDF with clickable links!)

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New YA Fiction – February 2020

New YA Fiction

The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli

Solstice by Lorence Alison

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

The Queen’s Secret by Melissa De La Cruz

The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

The Seventh Sun by Lani Forbes

Together we Caught Fire by Eva Gibson

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

A Love Hate Thing by Whitney Grandison

Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Shadow Kiss by Rachelle Mead

We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlorya Mejia

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller

Larkin on the Shore by Jean Mills

Turtle under Ice by Juleah Rosario

What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel

Miss You, Love You, Hate You, Bye by Abby Sher

We, the Wildflowers by L.B. Simmons

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Rebelwing by Andrea Tang

This Train is Being Held by Ismee Williams

Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen

Blood Heir by Amelie Zhao

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