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1. Happy Fourth of July! Giveaway winner.

Hi everyone!
Moving day finally arrived this past weekend–one long day that has, thus far, lasted 96 hours (and counting). While everything is moved, my living space is boxish. The cats are not thrilled with all the booms and bangs of neighborhood fireworks, which, strangely, go off all day and night. For a state that has made fireworks illegal, there are a lot of fireworks going off.

Moving is never much fun, but I was fortunate to have hired a company that sent two energetic, polite, and very professional movers. Anyone interested in another’s cannot-fit-into-new-home stuff, a yard sale is . . . wait, I have a garage now . . . a garage sale will be held near the end of August. By then, I should have most of the boxes opened and sorted. Until then, the cats are enjoy climbing the stacked boxes and furniture and tromping in the empty boxes. Lucky cats.

Baby Girl (grey) and Theo (white) enjoy the familiarity of the bedroom.

Baby Girl (grey) and Theo (white) enjoy the familiarity of the bedroom.

Those who made a move after 15 years in one place will understand my current living situation. Those who have not, the pictures should help.

One side of living room.

One side of living room.

Kitchen:  big metal square is a built-in fridge (doesn't work).

Kitchen: big metal square is a built-in fridge (doesn’t work).

New Refrigerator:  ice maker not hooked-up, but still dispenses ice.

New Refrigerator: ice maker not hooked-up, but still dispenses ice.

The house was built in the 1940’s and has plaster walls, not drywall. All new to me and proving to be a challenge. “Just where is that stud?” Love the backyard, which is divided into 1/3rd front and 2/3rds back (fenced in), with the entire yard privacy fenced. Molly, a nine-year-old rescue dog, will be moving in once I have a living room. She loves the fenced in portion. The rescue yard does not have grass, so this was new for her.

Anytime you move into an older home, all sorts of problems seem to surface. This has led to some Bad News/Good News:  Basement leaks/but getting water-proofed. Bathroom is a mess. Last owner actually used double-sided table (Scotch tape) to keep shower wall attached to the wall. It didn’t work. Good news is the bathroom is being made over next week. Old tub out, walk-in shower in. Everything will be changed except the toilet (already new). A built-in oven across from the new fridge (doesn’t work), is getting pulled next week and a pantry built in that space. I even got to start a garden. Nothin fancy this year: tomatoes, peppers, radishes, carrots, and lettuce.

Reviews will be back on track after the July 4th holiday. I have a new writing room.

My new "writing room."

My new “writing room.”

This has been a rough year for me and book reviews have suffered for it. Things are going to turn around. I know it.  Enjoy the weekend’s activities, the food, festivities, family, and friends, and stay safe. See you after the 4th.

Oh, congratulations to Julie Harms Moen! Julie won the Guardian Herds tote bag and all the goodies inside it.


Filed under: Special Event Tagged: bathroom makeovers, boxes-upon-boxes, giveaway winner, moving day, old houses, rescue dogs

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2. Anime Collection Development & Programming: Part 1 – Anime Collection Development

Anime – it is a term that I have learned makes many librarians cringe. As soon as the subject is broached, they immediately pawn it off on a younger clerk or page who knows about such things. And you can't really blame them! The titles can be nearly impossible to spell and that's assuming the patron says it right. Between “seasons”, “collections”, and “OVAs” (Original Video Animation; basically straight to DVD without a theater or television release), each series has multiple versions. To top it off, since they aren't rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, it is hard to figure out what is appropriate for whom.

So when it comes time to do the collection development, this portion of the collection can be neglected and dated. Beyond this, librarians may be ignoring it as a useful programming tool to bring in one of our hardest demographics, the teens!

The good news is, you don't need to know much about anime to get started. In my job interview, I was asked what kind of programs I would like to implement for teens. I dug back into my days interning in grad school and helping their teen librarian host their wildly popular anime club. At the time of the interview, I had seen maybe 2 or 3 anime films. Suddenly, now I was “the anime guy” at my new job. I was asked to order all the anime movies for 10 branches.

First lets talk about what expectations you have with ordering this genre. Anime refers specifically to Japanese animation. For the most part, it is the same as any other movie or television show. You are still going to look at cost. You are still going to have to pick what format works best for your library. You are still going to be making judgment calls on what will circulate and what won't.

Unfortunately, quite a few titles are only available on Blu-ray right now, so if your library doesn't offer that you are just out of luck. Many of them come as Blu-ray/DVD combos. One possible problem with these, at least that I've noticed with our vendor, Midwest Tapes, is that they include the DVD “while supplies last”. I have not yet encountered a situation where they only sent me a Blu-ray and not the DVD, but they post it is a possibility.

Also, with these, if you don't normally circulate Blu-rays, you are paying Blu-ray price for just the DVD. You have to decide if that is worth it for your collection. I will skip over many of the Blu-ray/DVD combo packs unless it is an incredibly popular title. For example,  Attack on Titan came like this. Based on its popularity, I knew the library had to add it, so I bit the bullet and paid the price for it.

If your library is just starting to develop its collection, another factor to consider is how to display it. Are you going to interfile it with your other titles or is it going to have its own display? We recently decided to make our shelf locations uniform across all branches. At the time, some of our branches had an anime section and some did not. We debated briefly whether or not to interfile them with the other DVDs.

Here's my argument for anime having its own shelf location: People looking for anime typically just want anime and maybe manga (Japanese graphic novels). Not having that shelf location eliminates the browsing potential for them. At my branch, we have about 25,000 DVDs. Of those about 500 are anime. I don't think people picking up Sleepless In Seattle are going to think, “Oh and here's Sailor Moon! I've been meaning to watch that!” But if they have that dedicated shelf location, they very well may think, “While I've got Attack on Titan, I might as well get some Dragon Ball Z, oh and Fairy Tail too!”

Interfiling anime creates some problems of its own. Many of them are television shows, many are movies, so that further spreads them out. Also, most of them are in Japanese. So do you put it with your foreign collection?

That should give you some ideas to think about when ordering your anime collection. In the next part, I will talk about language selection, how to judge whether a title is appropriate for your teens, and give you a few helpful resources to help make title selection easier.

Jonathan Davis is the assistant branch manager and teen librarian at a large Indiana public library system (Lake County Public Library). He has ordered anime DVDs for 10 branches for nearly two years and has been running a successful teen anime club for most of this time. He received his MLS at Indiana University.

These articles are written in conjunction with a seminar on anime collection development and programming that were certified by the Indiana State Library that he presented in conjunction with his fellow teen librarian at Lake County Public Library, Jennifer Billingsley. This seminar will be presented again at the Indiana Library Federation Annual Conference in Indianapolis this November.

 

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3. July Blogging Break

It's time for our annual co-author summer vacation. But wait, we have lots to keep you going in the meantime!

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4. Review of the Day: The Case for Loving by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls

CaseLoving1The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage
By Selina Alko
Illustrated by Sean Qualls
Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic)
$18.99
ISBN: 978-0545478533
Ages 4-7
On shelves now.

When the Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015 that same-sex couples could marry in all fifty states, I found myself, like many parents of young children, in the position of trying to explain the ramifications to my offspring. Newly turned four, my daughter needed a bit of context. After all, as far as she was concerned gay people had always had the right to marry so what exactly was the big deal here? In times of change, my back up tends to be children’s books that discuss similar, but not identical, situations. And what book do I own that covers a court case involving the legality of people marrying? Why, none other than The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by creative couple Selina Alko and Sean Qualls. It’s almost too perfect that the book has come out the same year as this momentous court decision. Discussing the legal process, as well as the prejudices of the time, the book offers to parents like myself not just a window to the past, but a way of discussing present and future court cases that involve the personal lives of everyday people. Really, when you take all that into consideration, the fact that the book is also an amazing testament to the power of love itself . . . well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

In 1958 Richard Loving, a white man, fell in love with Mildred Jeter, a black/Native American woman. Residents of Virginia, they could not marry in their home state so they did so in Washington D.C. instead. Then they turned right around and went home to Virginia. Not long after they were interrupted in the night by a police invasion. They were charged with “unlawful cohabitation” and were told in no uncertain terms that if they were going to continue living together then they needed to leave Virginia. They did, but they also hired lawyers to plead their case. By 1967 the Lovings made it all the way to The Supreme Court where their lawyers read a prepared statement from Richard. It said, “Tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.” In a unanimous ruling, the laws restricting such marriages were struck down. The couple returned to Virginia, found a new house, and lived “happily (and legally) ever after.” An Author’s Note about her marriage to Sean Qualls (she is white and he is black) as well as a note about the art, Sources, and Suggestions for Further Reading appear at the end of the book.

CaseLoving2“How do you sue someone?” Here’s a challenge. Explain the concept of suing the government to a four-year-old brain. To do so, you may have to explain a lot of connected concepts along the way. What is a lawyer? And a court? And, for that matter, why are the laws (and cops) sometimes wrong? So when I pick up a book like The Case for Loving as a parent, I’m desperately hoping on some level that the authors have figured out how to break down these complex questions into something small children can understand and possibly even accept. In the case of this book, the legal process is explained as simply as possible. “They wanted to return to Virginia for good, so they hired lawyers to help fight for what was right.” And then later, “It was time to take the Loving case all the way to The Supreme Court.” Now the book doesn’t explain what The Supreme Court was necessarily, and that’s where the art comes in. Much of the heavy lifting is done by the illustrations, which show the judges sitting in a row, allowing parents like myself the chance to explain their role. Here you will not find a deep explanation of the legal process, but at least it shows a process and allows you to fill in the gaps for the young and curious.

It was very interesting to me to see how Alko and Qualls handled the art in this book. I’ve often noticed that editors like to choose Sean as an artist when they want an illustrator that can offset some of the darker aspects of a work. For example, take Margarita Engle’s magnificently sordid Pura Belpre Medal winner The Poet Slave of Cuba. A tale of torture, gore, and hope, Qualls’ art managed to represent the darkness with a lighter touch, while never taking away from the important story at hand. In The Case for Loving he has scaled the story down a bit and given it a simpler edge. His characters are a bit broader and more cartoonlike than those in, say, Dizzy. This is due in part to Alko’s contributions. As they say in their “About the Art” section at the back of the book, Alko’s art is all about bold colors and Sean’s is about subtle layers of color and texture. Together, they alleviate the tension in different scenes. Moments that could be particularly frightening, as when the police burst into the Lovings’ bedroom to arrest them, are cast instead as simply dramatic. I noticed too that characters were much smaller in this book than they tend to be in Sean’s others. It was interesting to note the moments when that illustrators made the faces of Richard and Virginia large. The page early in the book where Richard and Mildred look at one another over the book’s gutter pairs well with the page later in the book where their faces appear on posters behind bars against the words “Unlawful Cohabitation”. But aside from those two double spreads the family is small, often seen just outside their different respective homes. It seemed to be important to Qualls and Alko to show them as a family unit as often as possible.

CaseLoving3Few books are perfect, and Loving has its off-kilter moments from time to time. For example, it describes darker skin tones in terms of food. That’s not a crime, of course, but you rarely hear white skin described as “white as aged cheese” or “the color of creamy mayonnaise” so why is dark colored skin always edible? In this book Mildred is “a creamy caramel” and she lives where people ranged from “the color of chamomile tea” to darker shades. A side issue has arisen concerning Mildred’s identification as Native American and whether or not the original case made more of her African-American roots because it would build a stronger case in court. This is a far bigger issue than a picture book could hope to encompass, though I would be interested in a middle grade or young adult nonfiction book on the topic that went into the subject in a little more depth.

Recently I read my kid another nonfiction picture book chronicling injustice called Drum Dream Girl by the aforementioned Margarita Engle. In that book a young girl isn’t allowed to drum because of her gender. My daughter was absolutely flabbergasted by the notion. When I read her The Case for Loving she was similarly baffled. And when, someday, someone writes a book about the landmark decision made by The Supreme Court to allow gay couples to wed, so too will some future child be just as floored by what seems completely normal to them. Until then, this is certainly a book written and published at just the right time. Informative and heartfelt all at once, it works beyond the immediate need. Context is not an easy thing to come by when we discuss complex subjects with our kids. It takes a book like this to give us the words we so desperately need. Many thanks then for that.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Misc: Don’t forget to check out this incident that occurred involving this book and W. Kamau Bell’s treatment at Berkeley’s Elmwood Café.

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5. Upcoming Nonfiction Titles Discovered at ALA

Louise and I have returned from the West Coast after attending the American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco. One of the best parts of attending ALA is having opportunities to talk with authors, illustrators, editors and publicists about books that are on the horizon. A highlight was listening to Melissa Sweet talk about her art, and she showed us some photos of collages

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6. My Brother's Secret (2015)

My Brother's Secret. Dan Smith. 2015. Scholastic. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Karl Friedmann loves to play war games, and can't wait to join the Hitler Youth. But after his father's death, he begins to question the rightness of the war, and the rightness of the Nazi party. This change of heart isn't immediate, it's more of a journey as he observes what the war has done to his family, to his friends, to his neighborhood. Two people definitely make an impact on him: his older brother, who does have a secret, and his new best friend, a girl around his own age.

My Brother's Secret is an intense read with plenty of action and drama.

I definitely found it a compelling read--a quick one too! It was action-packed until the very end. I was almost sure there was no way they could resolve it with so few pages left, and, in a way, it did feel rushed. But still. Quite a read.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Reading Roundup: June 2015

By the Numbers
Teen: 13
Tween: 7
Children: 4

Sources
Review Copies: 11
Library: 11

Standouts
Teen: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
Riffing on both Rapunzel and the Princess and the Pea, this story about a frustrated, sheltered, and naive girl becoming a self-reliant young woman caught me hard. I just had to hang there through the slow start.
Tween: The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
This story of a grandfather who's discovered the fountain of youth and a granddaughter who's discovering science, and the way they both learn to accept that life is about change, tugged at my heart with its humor and emotional honesty.
Children: Locomotive by Brian Floca
Do you know a history-and-trains-obsessed kid? They will eat this up.

Because I Want To Awards
Precious Cinnamon Roll: Sebastian in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
The younger brother of the love interest, Sebastian is also a little boy who adores mermaids, and gets enormous flack for this love from his father and the town, but never lets that daunt him from dressing up as the princess of the sea. Ockler places no labels on him, other than "loves mermaids," and it's a beautiful thing.
Brains Not Brawn: The Doublecross by Jackson Pearce
A lot of books overtly express that value, but this one really lays it down by showing how Hale's intelligence and ability to coordinate a team stands him in much better stead in spycraft than being able to run a mile.

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8. My Top Transforming Takeaways from #alaac15

  • The Sunnyvale Library Make-HER blog offers fantastic inspiration. From: Conversation Starter: From Maker to Make-HER: Leveling the STEM Playing Field for Girls.
  • Look at your existing resources people, meeting rooms, digital, etc.   Are you using them to their greatest potential?  From  Session: So You Didn’t Get the Awesome Teen DigiTechnoSuperLab: Now What?  Joslyn Jones was funny, smart and offered valuable information.
  • Change is inevitable.  When the work environment is in transition, most everyone experiences anxiety.  You can control your situation in the long-term.  Transform yourself.  Make yourself more valuable to your library and community.   From: No Sugarcoating Allowed: Four Honest Perspectives on Change Management.
  • Social media is a powerful tool that can be used to connect not only with our customer base, but also with authors.  Virtual author visits anyone?  From: riding the shuttle bus with the energetic and cool School Librarian and ALSC Live Blogger Stacey Rattner.
  • Moving outside your comfort zone is a good thing.  Librarians are naturally helpful.  So if you need help navigating your first conference or getting a ride to the airport when it is all over, just ask.   ALSC also has a mentor program.  You can check it out here.
  • If you can’t make it to an in person event, try these online learning opportunities offered by ALSC.

I had a wonderful time at #alaac15.  I enjoyed learning and sharing with the amazing librarians, writers and artists.  Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and making my experience so grand.

Angela Chadbourne
Youth Services Librarian
Santa Clarita Public Library

The post My Top Transforming Takeaways from #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. Growing Healthy Readers and Eaters @ the Library

The time has finally arrived for summer reading, that magical time of year most youth services librarians simultaneously long for and dread. Planning and preparation begins months before the first child registers for the summer reading program (SRP) and I’m sure the last thing librarians want to do is add another task to their long summer reading to do list. Despite this ever-growing list, I encourage you to think about how you can incorporate nutritional literacy and free summer meals into your SRP planning list!

Last week kicked off the Grafton-Midview Public Library’s summer reading program as well as our free summer lunch program. This will be the second year the library has participated as a meal site in the free summer lunch program, serving free lunches to children eighteen years and younger Monday through Friday throughout our eight weeks of summer reading. The program is made possible by partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lorain County who are participants in the Kids Café program sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio. We have some special additions this year, including two outreach lunch sites staffed by library associates, an entire crew of summer lunch volunteers, and a vegetable and herb garden!

Vegetable Garden (photo by guest blogger) Herb Garden (photo by guest blogger)

The summer lunches have been a wonderful way to reach out to our community in new ways, build new partnerships, increase summer reading program participation and introduce various library services to new patrons as well as regular visitors. The library garden has also proven to be a great resource for our children’s librarians, Ms. Abby and Ms. Katie, to incorporate nutrition education into their summer storytimes as an extension of the nutrition information provided during the free lunches. I’m always surprised by the wealth of new faces and increased interaction I see at the children’s desk during SRP and the lunch program seems to have only increased the traffic in the children’s department since last summer.

There are plenty of great resources available for families and libraries interested in the how and why of free summer lunch programs. For starters visit the USDA Summer Food Service Program site, nokidhungry.org, feedingamerica.org, and Lunchatthelibrary.org, a great site put together by the California Library Association and the California Summer Meal Coalition. You can also encourage families in search of a free summer meal to download the free Range app, which not only helps locate the nearest free meal site but also the nearest public library. If patrons do not have smartphones or devices, librarians can always download Range to a library-owned tablet and allow families to use the app in-house to find the nearest meal.

Librarians can utilize summer lunch programs and library gardens not only through programming but as fun opportunities to promote library collections. Below are some awesome food-related materials great for children and tweens.

  • Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009-2013.This graphic novel series depicting a lunch lady who is a secret crime fighter is a perfect choice for chapter-book readers!
  • Whoopty-Whoop by Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Asian Man/Fun Fun Records, 2014. With high-energy songs like “All I Eat is Pizza” and “ I Like Cake” this album is sure to be a wiggle inducing addition to any food focused program for little kids and big kids.
  • Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller; Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Schwartz & Wade Books. 2013. Sophie’s new best friend is a squash, so what will she do when her friend begins to get squishy and spotty?
  • Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy. Workman Publishing Company. 1999. A classic non-fiction book that is full of great gardening tips and ideas for adults to share with children.
  • Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear; Illustrated by Julie Morstad. Tundra Books, 2014. A beautifully illustrated picture book about a girl named Julia and her friend Simca and their adventures in French cooking.

For more garden ideas, check out the new summer 2015 edition of Children & Libraries from ALSC. It has a stellar article from Sandy Kallunki, A Bumper Crop of Ideas, highlighting many awesome programs that can stem from library gardens. I hope that you will be inspired to plant a garden of your own and perhaps even add “become a summer meal site” to your SRP 2016 planning!

*****************************************************************************************

Courtesy of Guest Blogger

Courtesy of Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger today is Nicole Lee Martin. Nicole is a member of the Public Awareness Committee and the ALSC Valuation & Assessment Task Force. She is currently transitioning from her position as Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library, OH to Children’s Librarian at Rocky River Public Library, OH. You can reach her at nicole.binx@gmail.com.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

The post Growing Healthy Readers and Eaters @ the Library appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. The Great War ... - an audiobook review

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War by by David Almond, John Boyne, Tracy Chevalier, Ursula Dubosarsky, Timothee de Fombelle, Adele Geras, et al. | Read by Nico Evers-Swindell, JD Jackson, Gerard Doyle, Richard Halverson, Sarah Coomes, Nick Podehl
(2015, Brilliance Audio) is a powerful collection of short stories that view World Ward I and its repercussions from many different points of view.  

The link to my short review for AudioFile Magazine is below.  An audio sample is available at the link as well. Publisher recommended for grades 5 and up.




Note:
 I'm still working on a follow-up post to my trip to the American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco. It was a great experience.

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11. Interview with Lynne Jonell

SignCatFolks, one of the things I love about this job is the fact that I get to watch authors’ careers bloom and blossom.  I see authors starting out or at the beginning of their careers and watch as they garner praise and flourishes throughout the years.  Today’s example is author Lynne Jonell.  Back in 2007 I very much enjoyed her book Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat.  She’s written so much since then, but her latest is the one that caught my eye.  Recently Kirkus said of The Sign of the Cat in a starred review that, “Intriguing, well-drawn characters, evocatively described settings, plenty of action, and touches of humor combine to create an utterly satisfying adventure.”  The book follows the adventures of a boy who can communicate with cats.  So, right there.  You’ve got me.  Add in Lynne’s amazing answers to my questions (come for the interview, stay for the reference to a “squishing machine”) and you’ve got yourself a blog post, my friend.

Betsy Bird: Hello, Lynne!  So let’s just start with the basics from the get go.  Where did this book come from?  I mean to say, what was the impetus that made you want to write it?

Lynne Jonell: Hi, Betsy! The first and shallowest impetus for the book was that, back in 2006, I had sent a book off to my publisher but was still in full-steam-ahead writing mode. I wasn’t up for starting a whole new novel just yet, but I thought I could manage a chapter book.

Secondly, as a child, I had always wished I could speak the secret language of animals. Very quickly, a concept took shape—there would be a boy (I had never written about a boy, and it seemed like a new challenge), he could speak Cat (I love cats, plus it seemed that they would be privy to a lot of information—cats go everywhere, and no one worries about whether or not a cat is going to repeat what it hears), and he didn’t know what had happened to his father (every story needs a problem, right? I knew that much.)

Concepts won’t sustain a book for very long, though. For me, there has to be something underneath, some deeper thing that drives me to write a particular story. I usually have no idea what this thing is, or where it is rooted, but I can tell when it is there because I will have an image in my mind—something that haunts me.

EmmyIncredibleWhen I have a vivid picture—no matter that it makes no sense yet—I know there is power somewhere, there is energy enough for an entire book. Then I will begin to write toward that image. For example, Emmy & the Incredible Shrinking Rat started with a dream of a piece of green paper with a curved line, and later an image of a cane carved with the faces of little girls.

When I was beginning to toy around with The Sign of the Cat, I saw a boy and a kitten in the sea, struggling to stay afloat as the ship they’d been on sailed away into the night. There was a man on deck of the ship, too. He watched the boy without expression, and he did not give the alarm.

Soon more images began to come—a tiger, a squishing machine, Duncan hiding in a closet and watching with horror as a man dug into a pie—and I couldn’t fit them all into a chapter book. I picked up the story from time to time, playing around with it, but it wasn’t until 2010 that some of the pieces came together and I began to work seriously on the book. Now, of course, I know what the book means to me—and it’s full of personal references—but at the beginning, I didn’t have the faintest idea where it was going.

BB: You’re no stranger to the world of fantasy, but sometimes I feel like you tend to keep one foot rooted in the real world as well.  You’re not quite a magical realism writer, but when fantastical elements appear in your books they seem to happen in a world very much like our own.  Is there any particular reason for that, do you think?

lynnejonell-2011LJ: Yes, absolutely. My favorite books, as a child, were ones in which magical things happened to ordinary children, going about their ordinary business. Then suddenly—wham! The chemistry set made them invisible, the strange coin they picked up off the street gave them wishes, the nursery carpet turned out to contain the egg of a phoenix, the toy ship purchased in a dark and dusty shop could grow to carry four children, and fly… I loved the idea that maybe, just maybe, it might someday happen to me.

Children today may seem more sophisticated than we were, but that’s superficial… deep down, they are developmentally the same, and they believe in the possibility of magic a lot longer than you might think. I have had ten year olds ask me, very shyly, if the magic in my books was real.

That’s why I love to make the world of the book close to the child reader’s world. It seems as if the magic could happen to them, too, someday. And rather than magical realism, perhaps you could call my books “magical science”, because I always base the magic on some scientific concept, to make things even more plausible. For instance, in The Sign of the Cat, I was fascinated with the concept of critical periods of brain development.

There’s a famous study where normal kittens had their eyes covered for a few months after birth. When the covering was removed, the kittens were blind. Their eyes were normal, and there was nothing wrong with the optic nerve, but the connections between the brain and the optic nerve hadn’t been made during a crucial period. There are critical periods with hearing, too, and attachment (think imprinting, with baby ducks), and the acquisition of language.

I thought, what if there’s a critical period where humans had the ability to learn Cat? We wouldn’t know it, because cats can’t be bothered to teach anyone anything, and the chance would go by forever!

BB: What kinds of books did you read when you were a kid?  I’m crossing my fingers for the name “Edward Eager” to appear, just so’s you know.

PhoenixCarpetJL: Oh, sure, Edward Eager, of course—but his inspiration was E. Nesbit, and I loved her books even more. The Phoenix and the Carpet, and Five Children and It—masterpieces. I also adored Eleanor Cameron, anything by Ruth Chew (I loved The Wednesday Witch), Hilda Lewis (The Ship That Flew), Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the Narnia books of course, The Hobbit, anything by Elizabeth Enright, Eleanor Estes, Rudyard Kipling; I could go on and on…

I also had an abiding fascination with fiction about Native Americans—the different tribes, how they lived, the various cultures. I had a deep and secret longing to go back in time, before European settlers arrived, and be a Dakota boy. I wanted to be a boy because, in the books, they always had the adventures—and I also decided I would have to have perfect vision, because I was terribly nearsighted and I knew I couldn’t steal horses and count coup when I couldn’t see past my nose. I think this period was at its height when I was in fourth grade, and I remember many summer mornings where I’d grab my favorite stick and go off to some vacant lot or field where I would become that Dakota boy for hours on end.

BB: I once ran a children’s bookgroup and held up a new fantasy for them to peruse. One of them groaned audibly when they saw the number on the spine. “No more series!” she cried.  I don’t know that that kid was exactly the norm, but she did at least prove to me that there are kids out there that prefer standalone novels to series books.  Is The Sign of the Cat a standalone or the first in a series?  How did you come to make that decision?

 JL: The Sign of the Cat is a stand-alone. I don’t know how that decision was made, actually—it seems that the book made the decision for me. A reviewer said that Cat was a good “series starter” and I wondered where that came from! But I suppose that everyone, when a book ends, likes to wonder what happens next.

BB: Would you call yourself a “cat person”?  If so, do you think a non-cat person could ever write a book of this sort?

JL: I’m more a cat person than a dog person. I like the way cats are a little aloof, and don’t slobber all over you with their affection, and aren’t very needy—but they are capable of deep attachment once you get to know them. I like their independence.

rat-cookieBut I don’t own a cat, and I don’t think I needed to be a cat person to write this book. I am most definitely not a rat person, yet I wrote three books about rats!

BB: If you could speak the language of any kind of animal besides cats, what would it be?

JL: Birds. I would so love to fly… I think they might speak very poetically about flight, and they could come to my windowsill and tell me all about it.

BB: And finally, what are you working on next?

Castle_MenziesJL: I’m working on a time-travel book based in Scotland. And yes—there was an image with this book, too. The first was a postcard of Castle Menzies. My grandfather, whose clan it was, showed me the picture when I was a child, and I never forgot it.

The second image came 45 years later; I had a vivid mental picture of an acorn rolling out from a stone wall. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew that the stone wall was part of the castle, and I also knew that it was time to get to work on that particular book.

BB:  Well, many thanks to Ms. Jonell for joining us today.  Now about that “squishing machine” . . .

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12. ALSC Member of the Month – Sharon McClintock

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions with ALSC member, Sharon McClintock.

1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

Photo courtesy of Sharon McClintock

Photo courtesy of Sharon McClintock

I’ve been a Children’s Librarian for 15 years at the Mountain View Public Library in Mountain View, California. I present a baby storytime called Mother Goose & More, preschool storytimes, school age class visits and a 3rd/4th grade reading club named READ Quest. I coordinate our Parenting speaker series and recently started a Rubik’s Cube Club. I love providing readers’ advisory and reference service as well as managing our Parenting and Children’s Music collections. Not long ago a friend asked me what my dream job would be. I answered honestly, “I’m doing it!”

2. Why did you join ALSC?

I joined ALSC to benefit from the experience and knowledge of my colleagues around the country, and get inspiration from conferences, online courses and the ALSC Blog. Just last week I created a Kids’ Choice display that I read about on the blog in a post by Abby Johnson, and I took an excellent online course on Storytelling with Puppets last year. ALSC does so much to advance library services to children, including early literacy initiatives and the Youth Media Awards; I want to support and be a part of it.

3. If you could be on a reality show, which one would it be?

Dancing with the Stars! When I can, I join some of my librarian friends who get together regularly to watch this show and it’s so entertaining. I love dancing, and I’m looking forward to planning some preschool dance parties with a colleague this year.

4. If you could enjoy a dinner conversation with any author – living or dead – who would it be?

If I could fudge a little on “author” (though he did write some books for children and parents, he is much better known for his TV show) I would choose Fred Rogers, no question! His kindness, his wisdom, his incredible talent for explaining the most profound concepts in the simplest terms, have been a professional as well as a personal inspiration to me. He always encouraged and lifted up those around him, and he inspires me to do the same. Though I’m sure I often miss the mark, he is always there as a role model for me.

5. What’s the last book you recommended to a friend?

I recommended the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith to a friend who is visiting Botswana soon. I love those books, and am so happy that we now have a children’s version — the Precious Ramotswe Mysteries.

6. Favorite part of being a Children’s Librarian?

I adore children’s books and music and learning new nursery rhymes for storytime. But more than that I care about the children and parents I work with and love helping families create happy memories.

7. What is the last song you sang?

We sang Baby Shark in storytime yesterday, after reading Nick Sharratt’s brilliant Shark in the Park! Everyone, adults included, got a kick out of both!

8. What do you love most about working at your library?

Our staff is fantastic — kind, creative and very supportive. Once, someone in our Customer Services group said to me, “we’ve got your back.” What a lovely thing that was to hear, and I feel that support from my colleagues every day.

9. Who is the last person you said thank you to?

This morning I thanked an incredible volunteer who has helped me with our 3rd/4th grade reading club for the last several years and will be joining us again this summer. His name is Benson and he also happens to be my next door neighbor! I have wonderful teen volunteers who help with this program, but it’s so nice to have another dedicated adult in the room, as well.

10. Favorite age of kids to work with?

If I had to pick a favorite it would be toddlers. They are so cute and so affectionate. I’ve gotten some hugs from toddlers that I will never forget!

*********************************************************************************

Thanks, Sharon! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.

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13. The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John

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About the Book: Miles is not excited to be moving to Yawnee Valley-how exciting can a place be when there's a yawn right in the name? Miles was known as the best prankster in his old town, always pulling stunts on his friends. When he discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, Miles has to figure out who it is-and take the prankster down. Each one tries to one up each other, leading to more epic pranks and jokes in a hilarious prank war.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This book is sure to inspire tween pranksters everywhere! The Terrible Two is the hilarious tale of two epic pranksters had me cracking up. I listened to the audiobook, so while I'm sure the book itself is great (there are illustrations inside making a perfect book to give kids who are enjoying chapter books with illustrations) I loved the audiobook so very much. Adam Verner, the narrator, offers up a variety of voices for the characters and I laughed so much while I was listening-I especially loved his principal voice!

The pranks in this book are awesome and hysterical. These boys are not your average chalk in the eraser, whoopie cushion on the chair pranksters. They go above and beyond and their pranks are over the top that I know readers will get a kick of all their planning and pranking. The supporting characters are also very exaggerated, which adds to the humor. The principal comes from a long line of principals and he's a hapless leader. I loved the jokes about his speeches and principal lessons-I think adults would get a kick out of this book too.

The Terrible Two was a quick listen and a book I immediately went back to the library and started putting in the hands of my readers. It's perfect for readers who enjoy Jon Scieszka and when  kid asks for a funny book, I know exactly what to give them. But make sure you have your readers promise they won't pull any of the pranks they learn on you!

Full Disclosure: reviewed from audibook I checked out at my library

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14. Free books, receptions, networking, and more at #alaac15

#alasc15 is officially done! I can’t believe another conference has wrapped. It’s an event that I look forward to all year long! There is no better opportunity to reconnect with grad school friends, committee/group members, and meet new friends!!

Takeaways from this year:

Book fever/ Book FOMO were real conditions! Even though it was not my first exhibit, I felt myself (along with my peers) get swept up with book fever or FOMO (fear of missing out)! I kept grabbing books like a Black Friday shopper! As my conference roomie pointed out, the exhibit hall felt like the arcade scene from Percy Jackson– you could lose time and life force as you walked along!
After shipping back three boxes– I realized next time I need to have more discretion and pack an empty suitcase!

Award Receptions:
I won a scholarship this year to attend #alaac15 from the Freedom to Read Foundation. http://www.ftrf.org/news/232420/FTRF-names-Amy-Steinbauer-and-Gretchen-LeCheminant-as-Conable-Scholarship-recipients.htm
Since they paid for all the big expenses, I treated myself to three paid events- the Printz Award reception where I got to get loads of face time with one of my favorite authors-Jandy Nelson! If you love YA- this is a cool event to hear from YA authors and meet other librarians!

image

As I’ve reported before, I also went to the Bookmobile Lunch and the Caldecott/Newbery Awards receptions.

In the future, I may not be able to go to all– but if there’s an area you really love- treat yourself to a special event! They are lots of fun!

Networking:
I have two mentors- one from NMRT’s conference mentoring program last year, and one from the ALSC mentoring program. Annual is a great time for face to face interactions with them!

But, there are opportunities for networking everywhere at annual! Walking lost through a hotel, waiting for a shuttle, or geeking out about an author! Carry your business cards and your smile– and they will take you far! Having a ribbon with my Twitter handle gave me real connections with Twitter people– which was really fun!!

#alaac15 was awesome! Can’t wait to do it all again next year! Thanks for reading all my adventures!!

Amy Steinbauer is an Early Childhood Outreach Librarian in Beaumont, CA. Follow her on Twitter @Merbrarian

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15. The Cabinet of Earths, written by Anne Nesbet, 258 pp, RL 4

The Cabinet of Earths, debut novel from Anne Nesbet stands out above recent fantasy novels I have read for the creation of main character, twelve year old Maya. For me, Maya can take a place at the table with strong girl characters in fantasy novels alongside Hazel, hero of Anne Ursu's beautiful Breadcrumbs. At the head of this table is Lyra Belacqua, the fearless, complex, heartbreaking

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16. Gratitude

#alaac15 is all over. I’m back home in Denver, catching up on sleep, non-conference emails, and enjoying non-restaurant food. This is also a great time to reflect on all the amazing things that happened while I was at conference. The day before the conference began, my husband and I took the BART to downtown Berkeley and ate a delicious meal at Cafe Gratitude. The vegan menu requires diners to order their meals with gratitude. “I’ll have the I am Honoring [nachos] and the I am Luscious [chocolate smoothie].” It might sound cheesy (or should I say “non-dairy cheesy”?), but looking back on my conference experience there are so many things for which I’m grateful.

I am Rejuvenated [wheatgrass cleanser]
The spirit of sharing and collaboration at ALA conferences is one of the reasons I return each year. Sessions like Program-a-Looza, Guerrilla Storytime, and Diversity Dynamism: Mixing Resources and Making Connections have given me so many ideas to try at my own library or tuck away for future use.

I am Magical [black bean burger]
Hearing the inspiring words of so many authors and illustrators at award ceremonies and publisher events was magical. I was especially touched by the speeches at the Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast and the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet. These artists impressed me with their dedication to their art and to young readers everywhere.

I am Passionate [Orange, carrot, ginger juice]
There are so many passionate, intelligent, and thoughtful individuals who attend ALA conferences. I look forward to wonderful discussions with my colleagues from across the country. This year was no exception. From favorite books to programming ideas, from diversity to the ethnics of reviewing, I have gained a deeper understanding of many topics through the passionate words of others.

Thanks ALA and ALSC for such a wonderful conference! I’m sad that it’s over, but I’m looking forward to more rejuvenation, magic, and passion at Midwinter! Hope to see you all in Boston!

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17. Funny Face, Sunny Face (2015)

Funny Face, Sunny Face. Sally Symes. Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence:
Bunny face, sunny face, wake up...
with a funny face!
Bear hair, fair hair,
hardly any there hair.

Premise/plot: A day full of rhymes: morning to evening. This one is all about the rhyme. Also the rhythm, I suppose. But essentially it's a feel-good-to-read-aloud rhyming book for young children. Probably toddlers and preschoolers more than older ones.

My thoughts: This one is a cute book. I liked the rhymes for the most part. There weren't any that didn't work for me. And there were a handful that I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED. For example:
Sticky lips, licky lips
love-you
kiss-me-quickly lips.
and
new teeth,
chew teeth,
only one or
two teeth.
I didn't just love the text of , however. I loved many things about this one. It started charming me from the start. I really LOVE the endpapers of this one. It's a beautiful design. And the illustrations are precious as well.

This one would pair well with the sadly out-of-print Grump which I reviewed earlier this week.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, pictures by Garth Williams 97pp RL4

Written in 1958 and winner of the Newbery Honor, The Family Under the Bridge is the story of how an old hobo named Armand, who wants nothing of homes, responsibility and regular work, ends up with all of these as well as a family of children. Set in Paris, France in a time when hobos were more like wandering gypsies than the people living on the streets these days, the story follows Armand

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19. The Great Good Summer (2015)

The Great Good Summer. Liz Garton Scanlon. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

God is alive and well in Loomer, Texas, so I don't know why Mama had to go all the way to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida to find him, or to find herself, either.

The Great Good Summer reminded me, in a way, of Because of Winn Dixie. Ivy Green is almost as lovable a heroine as Opal herself. Her narrative voice is certainly strong throughout. Ivy's narration made the novel work well for me.

So Ivy's story, on the surface, is simple: her mom has recently left them (her and her dad) without a word as to where she's going and if she'll ever be back. Ivy and her Dad struggle with their new reality. Some things remain the same: Ivy's babysitting, weekly attendance at church; but some things are VERY different: her mom being gone, her never-subsiding-ache of wanting her mom back, her new friendship with a boy, Paul Dobbs, who most decidedly does NOT believe in God.

One of the book's greatest strengths is in the writing itself:
But the thing is, ideas are my talent. My only talent, really. My voice isn't right for singing, I freeze up in the spelling bee, and I can't shoot a basket to save my life. If I stop coming up with ideas, I'm not gonna have anything left to do or talk about. (5)
Personally, I think if you're an only child, you should automatically be issued a dog when you're born, as a consolation prize, but my mama and daddy disagree. (6)
"Daddy, what are we gonna say when people ask us about Mama?" I stir my bowl of milk. Daddy's right. I'm dawdling. "The truth, baby. They're church folks. Church folks understand other church folks." (23)
Paul isn't a redhead like his mama and sister, and he isn't exactly distinguished-looking either, but he is nice to look at. For a boy that I'm always getting a little mad at, I mean. (44)
I do find it interesting that faith in God is such a big part of this book. Not every character even believes in God. As I mentioned, Paul doesn't. And he challenges Ivy in several scenes, for better or worse. Why do you believe in a God you can't even see? Why do you think there is a God in the first place? How do you know he's real? Why aren't you more skeptical? But there are a handful of characters that do believe in God that do define themselves by their faith in God. And Ivy herself as emotional as she is, as angry as she becomes, does still believe in God.

Does the book get Christianity right? That's hard to say in a way. If your impression of Christianity is that it is a do religion: a do this, this, this, and that religion--a religion defined by things you do and things you don't do--I'm not sure there is enough gospel, enough grace, in The Great Good Summer to change that impression. If you (rightly) hold that Christianity is a done religion: what Christ has done for us, on our behalf, the price he paid to redeem us, to deliver us, then there aren't any passages that scream out heresy either. Though this passage makes me sad:
I hope you can forgive me sometime, Ivy. In the meantime I have to work on forgiving myself. And then it's up to God. That's the really awful thing about this whole mess--I was just trying to get closer to God, which makes it even bigger shame that I messed up as badly as I did." (183)
There were so many things I wanted to say to them both. Like it isn't about trying: trying to be better, or trying to do more. It's about trusting in what God has already done. It's about trusting that Jesus is enough. That God could not love you more than he already does. That he could not love you less either. That he really and truly has paid it all. 

I didn't quite love, love, love this one. But it certainly was worth reading.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. Passive Picture Book Programs

As a first year librarian, I was constantly looking for new passive programming ideas.  We had a passive “mystery box” program, that the children could participate in once a week. I was getting burnt out on trying to find 5 new items every Monday to fill the box, and the kids were getting frustrated that they had to wait a week to play again.  At other libraries, the mystery box works well when most children come just once a week, but our children come to the library every day after school and in the summer.  I felt like this type of passive programming was not as enriching as it could be.

Early this January, a new book came by my desk called, “28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World” by Charles R. Smith.   I flipped through this and immediately wanted to turn this into a daily passive program.  Each page of this book has an illustration of a famous black person, the date of the important event, a poem describing the person and event, and a paragraph at the bottom giving more detail.  I planned to put the book out on the reference desk, turning the page every day to reveal a new person and event during the month of February to celebrate Black History Month.  First, I created a handout to give children with general questions that could be applied to any page of the book; who, what, when?  The kids had to read the page, write the name of the famous person, what they did to change history, and when did it happen.  After they completed the questions, I would go over their answers and the page to make sure they fully understood the events and why they were so important.  They then would get a small reward of a piece of candy.  Other kids would come up, seeing a crowd around my desk, asking what was happening. I collected all answer sheets to tally the participation numbers.  The passive program was so popular that I would collect 80 answer sheets weekly.

After the end of Black History Month, I brought the old mystery box back out, and the kids actually requested for the book to come back! I had to think quick and just my luck; another new book came my way, “Maps” by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski.  This fit one of my goals for the children perfectly; to teach them about world culture and that we are all world citizens. Each page has a different country with illustrations of historical buildings, native plants and animals, cultural food, sports, etc.  I created over a dozen questions that could pertain to any country’s map. The children would choose a random answer sheet with 4 questions. The first two questions were always the same on all the papers; country and capital.  The last two questions were different, so one child could potentially read the same map page multiple days, but answer different questions each time. The other questions were to name specific animals, food, historical buildings, famous people, bodies of water, ethnic food, sports, natural formations, major cities, language, size, and population.  The children would turn their answers, I would initiate a discussion about the country (would they like to visit, what about the culture is interesting to them), then they would receive a small prize. This, again, was very successful and popular.

slide1With the Summer Reading Challenge coming up, I created a passive book program.  I have two book clubs, one is preschool to second grade and the other is third to sixth grade. Each club has their own short picture book; I chose Iron Man books because of our superhero theme. Children can come up to the desk to get their club’s book, read it, and then answer a few short questions.  I have multiple sheets with different questions pertaining to each group’s book and the children will be able to participate once a day, choosing different questions for each new day.

I am very pleased with how successful these passive book programs have gone and I am excited to discover new books that will produce fun and education programs in the future.

********************************************

Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Angela Bronson. Angela has a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio. This is her ninth year working for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, and is currently a Children’s Librarian at Kent Branch Library. In the past, she was a Preschool Art Teacher for Bowling Green State University. She illustrated her first picture book this year titled, “Alora in the Clouds.” 

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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21. How To Catch A Mouse (2015)

How To Catch a Mouse. Philippa Leathers. 2015. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: This is Clemmie. Clemmie is a brave, fearsome mouse catcher. She is excellent at stalking and chasing. She is patient and alert. She knows everything about how to catch a mouse. In fact, Clemmie is such a fearsome mouse catcher that she has never even seen a mouse. All the mice are afraid of me, thinks Clemmie. 

Premise/plot: Clemmie is confident that she knows everything about how to catch a mouse. But does she know as much as she thinks she does? Could a mouse be right in plain sight and Clemmie not know about it? Perhaps! Hint: The illustrations are EVERYTHING to the story.

My thoughts: I loved the story. I did. I thought it was wonderful. I loved how the illustrations tell so much of the story. The illustrations communicate a lot to the reader. In addition, the illustrations are just so precious and adorable. I loved Clemmie as a character as well. And I loved the "new trick" that she learned towards the end of the book.

Definitely recommended to cat lovers!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. How I Became An Author

Ralph Fletcher, who is a beloved trade and professional book author, steps into our Author Spotlight.

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23. Librarian of Progress – it’s time

Librarian of PROgress. Let's start the conversation.

Librarian of PROgress. Let’s start the conversation.

People have been asking me, and they may be asking you, about the job opening for Librarian of Congress. I put together this little one-page website to give people a run down of the important issues as I see them. #nextloc

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24. Consult with Me in LA at the SCBWI Summer Conference



For the second year in a row, I'll be offering social media consultations at the big old SCBWI Summer Conference. If you're attending the event (and it's a great event), you can add me on just like you would a manuscript consultation. Last year, I filled up... but as of now, you can still sign up (until July 20th) as long as you're registered.

You can read all sorts of details about the consults courtesy of Lee Wind's posting at the SCBWI blog.  The short version is that the consult is designed to help you use your time online efficiently and effectively (and without stress, if possible). If you have unlimited time in your life, don't sign up. But if time, money, energy, and frustration levels are limited... this could be for you!

(In any case, by the way, if you're at the Conference, please say 'hi'!)

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25. Library Wars: Love and War



Library Wars: Love & War Kiiro Yumi, original concept Hiro Arikawa, translated from the Japanese by John Werry

This is a mega-review of vol. 1-13 (aka, the ones that are currently available in English)


The Library Freedom Act

Libraries have the freedom to acquire their collections.

Libraries have the freedom to circulate materials in their collections.

Libraries guarantee the privacy of their patrons.

Libraries oppose any type of censorship.

When libraries are imperiled, librarians will join together to secure their freedom.

In the not-to-distant future, Japan passes the "Media Betterment Act" which censors objectionable material. Librarians are against censorship and will fight to keep their collections free and available. Literally fight. Like, they made an army. To fight against the federal censors(and their army).

AND YOU WONDER WHY I LOVE THIS?!

I devoured this series. Like, read all of them in a week, often staying up way past bedtime because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I love the overall concept. Plus, not only is about people fighting to protect access to materials (with their literal lives!), but it's a shoju manga, so SO MUCH SEXUAL TENSION.

Our main character, Iku Kasahara wants to join the Library Defense Force to be like her "prince"-- a member who saved a book she wanted to buy from censorship. She has passion, but not a lot of skill and is driven hard by her Sargent Dojo (who, um, OBVIOUSLY is her "prince.") She eventually becomes the first woman on a super elite squad that has to both be an army fighter, but also an actual librarian. But, over the run of the series, this is far from the only relationship we see (I won't say my favorite, because it develops pretty late and is a bit of a spoiler.)

I love the politics and maneuvering the library forces do. I like the plotline where Kasahara's parents don't know what she does because she knows they won't approve. I love love love Kasahara's roommate, Asako Shibazaki. She's very beautiful and a bit aloof and a lot of people read her as shallow, but she has a lot going on beneath the surface. She's a librarian with some serious hidden talents. I love the way her character develops. (In fact, she might be my favorite character.)

I like that there are cultural end notes to explain things, and several bonus mangas at the end of most volumes to fill in some quiet moments.

The over-the-top melodrama of some of the relationship stuff gets old, but I'm starting to recognize that it's standard for a lot of shoju manga.

Overall though, I LOVE THIS SERIES and am trying to force all my coworkers to read it. (LIBRARIES BUILT AN ARMY TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF ACCESS FROM GOVERNMENT CENSORS. DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE.)

If I understand Wikipedia correctly, there are 15 total volumes in this series. 13 are out in English now, and the 14th comes out in October. Based on past publication schedules, I'm guessing the 15th will be out next April. My one regret? This is based on a novel series and the source material doesn't seem to be available in English.

Books Provided by... my local library

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