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1. Rise of the Wolf (2016)

Rise of the Wolf. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2016. Scholastic. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I was excited to read Rise of the Wolf, the sequel to Mark of the Thief. (I did not reread Mark of the Thief in order to 'prepare' for this one. But after the first two or three chapters, I found myself managing just fine to remember the characters and the details.)

Nic is the hero of the story. He's a former runaway slave who is now staying with his sometimes-good-sometimes-quite-evil grandfather, Radulf.

Livia is the younger sister of the hero. She is not as defiant perhaps as Nic, but, she is more loyal to her brother than her grandfather. (The two did just meet their grandfather, and they know that he was plotting against Rome.)

Aurelia is probably the strongest female character in the book, and Nic's potential love interest as well. She is resourceful, stubborn, and never backs away from a fight. Nic mostly trusts her intentions, but, sometimes--only sometimes--would prefer her to stay far, far away from the danger.

Crispus is someone Nic has a hard time fully trusting. He is Valerius' son. Valerius was a tricky sort of 'friend' to Nic in the first book. Nic is jealous--does he have cause?--that Aurelia is friends with Crispus. Crispus declares himself mostly-mainly loyal to Nic, unless, Nic should suddenly become a traitor-ish threat to the Roman empire, in which case Crispus would have a hard time still supporting him.

Radulf is a Roman general. His loyalties are definitely questionable. He's power-hungry, ambitious, and not above using his grandson to get what he wants. He doesn't make the best first impression...or second impression. When the book opens, readers learn that he chains his grandson up at night in his room so that he can't escape.

The Praetors. The super-bad guys who are after Nic for the entire book. They want Nic to give them the key so they can find the MALICE. And once they have the MALICE and the BULLA, they want Nic to make them a JUPITER STONE. These are all magical items that wield great power and threaten to destroy life as everyone knows it--completely upsetting the Roman empire.

The plot is simple: As Nic continues to learn and use magic, his life is threatened by the Praetors. If the Praetors didn't have his mother as prisoner, Nic might consider running away from his problems with his sister and friends. But. He wants to save everyone he loves. And this leads him into dozens of confrontations with the bad guys. He has dozens of close-calls. A few of these close calls involve chariot races. But not all of them. There is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE battle at the end. And the book ends in a crime-worthy cliffhanger.

So did I like it or love it? I think I found it super-compelling as I was reading it. I found the ending frustrating because it was just WRONG to end the book the way she does. But. I found it action-packed and interesting. I mentioned that Aurelia was a love-interest, but, I want to point out there is more action than romance. There are one or two scenes where feelings are discussed, but, it is far from being a romance novel.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Big Whopper

Big Whopper. Patricia Reilly Giff. 2010. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Big Whopper is the second book in Patricia Reilly Giff's Zigzag Kids series. The books are loosely connected, I believe, by the fact that all the main characters attend the same school, Zelda A. Zigzag elementary school. But the books do not share main characters. The book is narrated by Destiny Washington.

The theme this week for the after-school program at the school is discovery. Students are being encouraged to share what they've discovered with others on an art-project in the hall. Destiny Washington, the heroine, is discouraged and frustrated. She doesn't think she'll have even one discovery to share with others. In general, she's having a hard time of it. A few poor choices have her really down. Can she find a way to turn things around? A secondary story focuses on a cat...

While I enjoyed this one slightly more than the first book in the series, I still can't say that I am enjoying the series overall.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. A Book for Passionate Creators + a Giveaway

Have you lost your muse? Create Now is the kind of book you need to help you transform your creative process and get you inspired to write.

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4. First Love

First Love. 14 Warm and Glowing Stories Selected by Gay Head. 1963. Scholastic Book Services. 188 pages. [Source: Bought]

First Love is a vintage collection of short stories compiled by Gay Head for Scholastic in 1963. All of the stories chosen had been previously published in magazines. Most of the stories first appeared in the 1950s, though a few come from the 1940s and early 1960s. (If Barbie were real, this is the kind of book I could see her reading.)

The theme of this collection, is, of course, first love or young love. Some of the stories are narrated from the girl's perspective; some are, however, narrated from the guy's perspective. There is a pair of stories "Sixteen" and "Eighteen" that go together. "Sixteen" by Maureen Daly tells the girl's side of the story--how she went skating one winter's day, was suddenly grasped around the waist by a cute boy, and how they skated and chatted together for what seems like hours. He walked her home. He said he'd call. But he never did. "Eighteen" by Charlie Brodie tells HIS side of the story. Most of the stories are not interconnected.

One of my favorite stories is "Prelude" by Lucille Vaughan Payne. Essentially, this is a clean version of Valley Girl that predates the movie by quite a few decades. Nancy Hollister, the heroine, falls for Stephen Karoladis to the dismay of her popular friends. He is an absolute genius when it comes to music, playing the piano, to be exact. Nancy feels about music the same way he does--it's like they are meant to be. But. He is poor--really, truly poor, work after school as a janitor poor. He will never dress like her friends. And he'll never be able to afford to take her out to the places that her friends go with their dates. But the connection they feel is true and deep and strong. What will happen when he asks her to the prom? Will she go with him knowing that her friends will laugh and mock and bully?! This short story doesn't conclude with "Melt With You" but it ends well all the same! Since I'll never watch Valley Girl again, most likely, I'm glad to have found a clean alternative that puts a grin on my face.

Another favorite story is "Theme Song" by Dave Grubb. In this one, a young girl falls for a soldier with a broken heart or "broken heart." He's received a letter that "his girl" has taken up with someone new. Though there was a time he loved playing "their song" on the jukebox over and over and over and over again...he discovers that the "B side" of the record had never been played....much to Edith's delight. Hearts mend, and new love stories begin...

One of the more unusual stories in this collection, one that brings to mind the Sesame Street song "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other," is Epicac by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. This "romantic" short story is about a machine--a computer--who falls in love. It's more complicated than that. The narrator and the computer both fall in love with the same girl. And it's a science-fiction twist to Cyrano de Bergerac if you will. (The computer writes the poems that make the girl fall for the narrator.)

Essentially readers who discover this vintage, out-of-print, title will discover a LOT of variety. Each story is unique. Some stories are a bit odder than others.

"Blue Valentine" by Mary Gibbons comes to mind! In this story, a guy with great intentions doesn't think through his gift choice. Angelo, the hero of the story, is essentially a good, thoughtful guy. He wants his Valentine's Day gift to his girlfriend to be extraordinarily WONDERFUL, the best of the best, the best that his money can buy. But this gift gets him in BIG TROUBLE with her family. His choice? Well, Gibbons left that a mystery for readers to solve until the last few pages of this short story--probably for some shock value. So I'll do the same.

Another 'odd' story, for me, was The Walnut Trees a story about a girl's BIG, BIG crush on a teacher. (Hint: Don't cut your teacher's yearbook photo out and put it in a heart locket. It is SURE to fall off, open, and HIM be the one to pick it up and hand it back to you!)

Each story has a description of sorts, or tagline. I'll include these for each story:
  • Stardust by Virginia Laughlin: Her heart went into orbit when she looked at him...
  • A Girl Called Charlie by William Kehoe: She thought that her whole future depended on one date...
  • Blue Valentine by Mary Gibbons: Angelo found the wrong gift for the right girl...
  • The Walnut Trees by Virginia Akin: A dream can be fashioned from cobwebs...
  • Once Upon A Pullman by Florence Jane Soman: Instant charm was not his secret of success...
  • Epicac by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: Can a machine fall in love? This one did...
  • Sixteen by Maureen Daly: As she saw it...
  • Eighteen by Charlie Brodie: His side of the story...
  • Prelude by Lucille Vaughan Payne: Music gave her the answer...
  • Tomboy by Gertrude Schweitzer: She thought parties were stupid until one special night...
  • Bittersweet by Arlene Hale: It takes time to forget...
  • Who is Sylvia? by Laura Nelson Baker: Her name was like a haunting melody...
  • Theme Song by Dave Grubb: The young soldier might be the answer to Edith's dreams...
  • Tough Guy by Peter Brackett: He wore a chip on his shoulder to hide the secret in his heart...
Though the taglines might seem over-the-top ridiculous, the stories in this book were actually quite good and in some ways timeless. Some are better than others, I won't lie. But there were a few I really LOVED. And overall, it was even better than I thought it would be.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Switch by Ingrid Law, 368pp, RL 4



In 2009 Ingrid Law's debut middle grade novel, Savvy, won a Newbery Honor. I absolutely fell in love with the book that introduced the amazing Beaumont family and their special, supernatural abilities that surfaced exactly on one's thirteenth birthday, to the world. You can read my review here. And, as much as I loved Savvy, I am embarrassed to say that I did not read the follow up sort-of-sequel that came out in 2010, Scumble. Scumble featured a cousin of the now grown-up Mibs, who narrated Savvy as an almost thirteen-year-old, and I wanted more of the Beaumonts. Happily, Switch, this new, second sequel to Savvy does feature the Beaumont family again - and some new friends.

At the start of Switch, which begins ten years after Savvy ends, we meet narrator Gypsy Beaumont, a few months after her thirteenth birthday. Ten years on and the Beaumont household is a little different. The three oldest siblings have moved out. Mibs is twenty-three and engaged and Fish is married. Samson, the broody, reclusive six-year-old from Savvy now has his own savvy. Samson can turn invisible and, while he is invisible, he charges up like a battery, "giving him a storehouse of inner strength he could pass to other people with a touch." Then there is Tucker, the almost-eight-year-old baby of the family who wants to be big like everyone else so that he can have a savvy of his own. Even without her new savvy, the ability to see glimpses of people's pasts and futures, Gypsy is having some growing pains. Once a free spirited kid who loved to dance, twirl and put flowers in her hair, Gypsy has begun to question herself after her former best friend censors her.

But, for the Beaumonts, an even bigger censor - or buzzkill - is headed their way. Mrs. Beaumont's father, the beloved Grandpa Bomba, has passed away and his empty room is about to be filled by the narrow minded Grandma Pat, Mr. Beaumont's mother. Mr. Beaumont is the one family member without a savvy and his mother has always disapproved of his wife and their offspring, or the "fiendish horde of rabble-rousers," as she refers to them. Grandma Pat's neighbors, the Drs Kim, have let Mr. Beaumont know that his mother is suffering from Alzheimer's and can no longer live on her own. Grandma Pat is such a mean old sourpuss that breaking the news that she'll be moving in with them seems to throw the family into a swirling savvy-storm after which everyone's savvies switch. The perfect Mrs. Beaumont is now clumsy, instead of becoming invisible, Samson now bursts into flames and instead of seeing the past and the future, Gypsy finds that she can now stop time. Most surprisingly, little Tucker now has the ability to explode in size when he's upset, like the Stay Puft Marshmallow man, only to be shrunk back with candy.

Ingrid Law is one of the few kid's book authors I can think of who writes a great road trip novel, and Switch is definitely another one of them. Mrs. Beaumont, Gypsy and Tucker hit the road, with Samson driving, to pick up Grandma Pat in Evergreen, Colorado, with Mr. Beaumont following a day behind in a moving van. Upon arrival, they discover that Grandma Pat is worse off than they realized and that the fifteen-year-old daughter of the Drs. Kim, Nola, is the only person she is pleasant to. To make things worse, Gypsy had a vision of the future before arriving in Evergreen that showed Grandma Pat in a dusty old ball gown, a tiara and snow boots perched atop the clock tower of a very old building. Gypsy saw her own hands reaching out of the building to save her, but does not know if she succeeded. From the moment they reach Evergreen, Gypsy spends every minute trying to decode the vision and keep Grandma Pat from getting to the top of that tower. 

Law throws a whole heap of crazy things between Grandma Pat and that clock tower on a snowy night - like two car crashes, a blizzard, a pimply bully, a fellow named Del who has the same birthday as Gypsy (and Grandma Pat) and is not affected by her time stops (allowing him to say things like, "You and I appear to have an unmoving minute on our hands,"), make-up makeovers, Volcano Laverne's Hawaiian BBQ and Waffle House, a stollen kitten, a long-ago Winter Formal and a lost love. All this plus the switched savvies of the Beaumonts and it is definitely a wild, crazy, wacky ride - and Law's charming colloquialisms, made up words like "Sardoodledom" and everything I loved about Savvy comes rushing back to me.

And, as with Savvy, Switch is about family sticking by each other, even when you want to run away from someone like Grandma Patrice. Near then end of the novel Gypsy asks her Momma why she thinks their savvies got switched up. Mrs. Beaumont replies, "Maybe, sweetheart, when faced with a situation we can't change, we find extraordinary ways to change ourselves instead." This could be the tagline for the novel itself. When faced with the challenge of caring for a loved one, especially a less than friendly loved one, the Beaumonts changes themselves to meet the challenge. And that's what family does.




Source: Review Copy


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6. Eight new sites added to Great Websites for Kids

GWS logo

On behalf of the Great Websites for Kids Committee, I’d like to share our latest additions.  We’re happy to have some Spanish language sites to include this time, and wish to thank REFORMA for its assistance in providing us a representative.

If you missed our recent press release, the following are the newest sites added to Great Websites for Kids, the online resource featuring hundreds of links to exceptional websites for children.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics K-12  http://www.bls.gov/k12/home.htm      Bureau of Labor Statistics provides resources for students and educators on employment and career outlooks. Enjoy playing a game to understand a concept and use the resource section for school assignments all on one site!
  • Bystander Revolution   http://www.bystanderrevolution.org/ Search this site to find ideas about how to deal with bullying from folks who have been bullies, targets and bystanders.  Watch videos by subject and sign up to take your own stand against bullying!
  • Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius    http://pbskids.org/fetch/ruff/ Videos to help kids make good decisions about texting, sharing photos, and other media literacy topics.
  • Space Racers   http://spaceracers.org/en Kids can explore space through a series of videos, games and printable activities complete with NASA approved science.
  • PBS Kids Design Squad  http://pbskids.org/designsquad Kids can safely share their engineering ideas and sketches, and be inspired by how-to videos and real-world projects.
  • Virtual Museum of Canada   http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/about-vmc/   This online museum provides as diverse collection of online exhibits pertaining to Canadian hertiage. Virtual exhibits are provided by Canada’s museums, educational institutions and heritage organizations.
  • Disney Junior: Disney Latino (Spanish)  http://disneyjunior/disneylatino.com Interactive site with videos, games, princesses stories, and activities of popular Disney characters. It also includes links for smartphones applications. | Página interactiva con vídeos, juegos, cuentos de princesas y actividades de personajes populares de Disney. También incluye enlaces para applicaciones de teléfonos móviles.
  • Clic Clic Cuentos Interactivos (Spanish) http://www.cuentosinteractivos.org    Clic Clic Cuentos Interactivos is a fun interactive site that features imaginative problem solving and alternate versions of popular stories. | Clic Clic Cuentos Interactivos es una página interactiva divertida que contiene actividades de resolución de problemas y versiones alternas de cuentos populares.

We hope that you will find these and other Great Websites for Kids to be useful tools for you and your library patrons. Sites are searchable by keyword or eight classifications (Animals, The Arts, History & Biography, Literature & Languages, Mathematics & Computers, Reference Desk, Sciences, and Social Sciences). The committee works diligently to find and evaluate new sites, and to weed out previously added sites that haven’t maintained “great” status.

We can always use your help!

If you know of a great site that you would like to have us consider, please submit your suggestion via this link: http://gws.ala.org/suggest-site. If you find broken links, etc. on the site, please alert us to that as well. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Members of the 2015 Great Websites for Kids Committee:

  • Lara Crews, co-chair, Forsyth County (North Carolina) Public Library
  • Lisa Taylor, co-chair, Ocean County (New Jersey) Library
  • Emily E. Bacon, Yorktown (Indiana) Public Library
  • Ariel Cummins, New Braunfels (Texas) Public Library
  • Jill Eisele, Bellwood (Illinois) Public Library
  • Krishna Grady, Darien (Connecticut) Library
  • Joanne Kelleher, Kings Park (New York) Central School District
  • Elizabeth Saxton, Tiffin, Ohio
  • Alia Shields, Cherry Hill (New Jersey) Public Library
  • Sujei Lugo (REFORMA Representative)

 

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7.

Winter recess is upon us.  We have some fun programs lined up for kids this week.  On Monday we will be showing the movie CinderellaNature Nick's Animal Adventures will be here on Wednesday with animals from all corners of the world!  Thursday marks the triumphant return of Lifesize Candyland.  We had so much fun with this program a few years ago (check out the photos below), so we are bringing it back.  Are you into robotics?  Then Maker Buddies is the program for you on Friday.  Finally, on Saturday we have two special guests visiting us.  WNBC reporter Ida Siegal will be here to talk about her new children's book series - Emma is on the Air and Chef Paula will conduct a hands-on workshop to make some yummy treats inspired by the books!






 We hope to see you next week!!!

Posted by Amy


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8. The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt, illustrated by Ross Collins, 290pp, RL 4



I have had The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt with illustrations by Ross Collins on my To Be Read shelf for a year now. The impending publication of the second book in this series, Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City, combined with the possible chance to have author Will Mabbitt visit here lit a fire under me and got me reading. Once I started, I couldn't stop! The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones is every bit as absurd and adventurous as the title, illustrations, blurbs and reviews promise. As one reviewer touted, Mabbitt's book is a bit like Monty Python meets Jack Sparrow. While this is definitely accurate, for me Mabel Jones and her crew call to mind the brilliant, equally creative but darker work of two of my favorites, Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart and their series, The Edge Chronicles. Mabbitt's story and Collins's illustrations are perfectly paired and the design of the book is fantastic. There is a great mix of fonts and font sizes and one fantastic spread where, in the midst of a massive storm at sea, the text slips and slides off the page! Mabel Jones's richly illustrated, patently hilarious adventures are an absolute MUST READ for everyone.

When an  omniscient (and very talkative) third person narrator first introduces us to Mabel Jones, she is about to be bagged by the kidnapper Omynus Hussh. Hussh, a slow loris who was kidnapped by Captain Idryss Ebenezer Split at birth, is a "dastardly breed: quiet as a peanut and sneaky as a woodlouse in a jar of raisins." Even if you have no idea what a woodlouse in a jar full of raisins is, it SOUNDS funny! And the names of the all animal crew! Mabbitt is a master of names. Besides Hussh and Split, there is Split's boat, the Feroshus Maggot, a pipe smoking goat pirate named Pelf, a mole who is the "best shortsighted lookout ever to have mistaken a pirate ship for an optician's shop," McMasters, and Mr. Clunes, an orangutan who is the strong and silent type. Finally, there is Old Sawbones, a crocodile who has a certificate in Advanced Nautical Surgery from the Butcher's Guild.

And how does Omynus Hussh know that Mabel is good for bagging? She was observed doing THE DEED - the deed that shows she is a pirate in the making. And what is this deed? Well, Mabel was observed picking her nose and eating her booger. And thus she was bagged. But not without some distress. Mabel got a good chomp on Hussh's paw, causing it to go septic, necessitating an amputation by Old Sawbones. Being fresh out of hooks, Sawbones attaches a doorknob to Hussh's stump in what has to be one of the funniest and saddest moments ever in a kid's book. And boy was Hussh sad - so sad he kept is paw with him, cradling it and talking to it like a friend (and a bit like Gollum with his Precious) while also harboring an increasing grudge against Mabel.





Of course the crew is outraged by the presence of a girl on board and they promptly prepare for her to walk the "greasy pole of certain death." But, this wouldn't be a story without Mabel and she manages to become part of the crew once they learn that she can read! Mabel becomes the key to helping the crew find a buried treasure by reuniting the pieces of the X that marks the spot which just happen to be in the hands of a handful of pirates who were once marooned with Captain Split's father.

The mystery of the missing X is actually pretty mysterious with an edge of creepy, reminding me of Stewart and Riddell's books all the more. There is a Haunted Sea, a sunken city and an army of the dead to contend with before the very dramatic and a tiny bit sad ending that also includes time travel. Happily, I get to dive right in to the next book in the series . . . 


Source: Review Copy

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9. Peppa Pig and The I Love You Game

Peppa Pig and the I Love You Game. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "It's Valentine's Day!" says Mummy Pig.

Premise/plot: In celebration of Valentine's Day, Peppa Pig and her family name all of the many, many, many things they love. For example, Daddy Pig loves to make pancakes and George likes dinosaurs, or dine-saw, as the case may be. Peppa may just be the most vocal in the family. She names DOZENS of things that she loves. What will top her list? Can you guess?

My thoughts: I liked it well enough. I don't really think any Valentine's-Day themed book is going to top my best of list. But Peppa Pig is cute, fun, adorable. I love, love, love the TV show. And I'm almost always glad to see new picture books being released starring Peppa and her family. Anyone who enjoys the show will find this one fun, in my opinion. However, if you've never, ever seen the show, then this picture book will probably not quite work for you. Part of the fun is HEARING the characters talk and knowing their stories and backstories.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Parent Teacher Collection Re-Organization

Earlier this year, I took over the responsibility of the Parent Teacher Collection at my library. It was a natural fit since I had to keep bringing picture books to my boss and spending time together to figure out what collection a picture book like Todd Parr’s The Goodbye Book really belonged in.

I was also asked to re-organize the collection by de-Deweying and creating browseable subjects.

Instead of writing through every step, I made a quick infographic detailing my process:

[An infographic about developing a Parent Teacher Collection created by the author using Piktochart.]

[An infographic created by the author.]

Up-close photo of the spine labels of our Parent Teacher collection. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Up-close photo of our spine labels. [Photo courtesy of the author.]


Collection Facts:

  • Collection has ten shelves; roughly 650 books.
  • Books are a mixture of adult books and children’s materials.
  • We decided on seven main subjects: Development, Health, Relationships, Safety, School, Special Needs, and Travel.
  • There are sub-subjects under every main subject except Travel.
  • While the collection is mostly comprised of books, it does have some DVDs and software.
  • At the bottom (in the red polka dot totes) are our Parenting Packs, which are kits geared towards parents/caregivers to use during milestone events.
  • Books show up in the catalog with the full call number: PARENTS DEVELOPMENT POTTY WILLEMS.

Our Parent Teacher Collection new materials shelf -- shows the range of what we're buying. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Our New shelf — shows the range of what we’re buying. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Purchasing:

  • Books are purchased by the Kids & Teens staff members from the children’s non-fiction budget line.
  • Generally, books that are used WITH children are shelved in the Parent Teacher Collection. Books about child psychology, parenting memoirs, and academic materials are shelved downstairs in the Adult Services collection.
  • I consult with the Adult Services librarian who selects for the 600s. We have determined that we are okay with purchasing doubles of materials.

Reception:

Up-close picture of a Parenting Pack from the Parent Teacher Collection. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Up-close picture of a Parenting Pack. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

  • Every time I walk past the section, the shelves need to be straightened. This means that they’re being used!
  • I’m seeing 40% more of the collection moving based on recently returned books.
  • I see more browsers which is GREAT and the reason why we decided to de-Dewey the collection. Caregivers are often dealing with a difficult problem when they are looking in the Parent Teacher Collection. They might not be comfortable asking for help and may also want to get their information quickly. This project makes that possible.
  • A parent thanked me for integrating the picture books and parent books. It made finding the right resources a one-stop shop for her.
  • Another parent expressed gratitude that the subject she was looking for was all shelved together and easy to find.
  • Half of the Parenting Packs are currently checked out.

It’s only been a few months, but I think this is one of the best things I’ve done at the library. My co-workers are probably getting tired of hearing me squee every time I see the return cart packed with Parent Teacher Collection books. (I kid — they are all incredibly supportive!)

I’m still not 100% done and I never will be. I need to continually evaluate this collection and actively seek out new materials since they aren’t always readily available in traditional review journals. We’re also preparing a new marketing campaign to help show the organization of the shelves, as well as a brochure to help parents/caregivers navigate the section.

Do you have a Parent Teacher Collection? Any tips or tricks to share? Any questions for me? Let’s talk the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library
http://storytimekatie.com

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11. #824 – My Tummy Disaster by Scott Nelson – Heritage Builders

My Tummy Disaster SERIES: An Embarrassing to the Max Book Written and Illustrated by Scott Nelson Heritage Builders Publishing  6/23/2015 978-1-941437-54-4 32 pages   Ages 4—8 “Max is having a tough day at school. While his classmates are singing during chorus practice, our hero is at the back of the band room losing his breakfast …

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12. When Revision Doesn’t Work

I used to think professional workshops were where you would go to get answers, but now I know that the best ones are where you find more questions.

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13. Sometimes we only write in writing workshop

My sixth graders have been busy drafting their feature articles this week, and I had a series of mini lessons planned to begin each writing workshop day. My students, however, had other ideas.

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14. #STBAblogtour16 DAY THREE

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2016




The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At The Prosen People
Author interview

We're not sure what happened to the the interview on Shanghai Sukkah that was supposed to appear at Kristi's Book Nook today - we hope Kristi is okay and we'll bring you the interview ASAP. In the meantime, here is the Jewish Book Council's interview on The Hired Girl!

Be sure to check out yesterday's interviews on Adam and Thomas and Hereville, and get the rest of the blog tour schedule here.


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15. Great Websites for Kids

I'm back from vacation and blogging for ALSC today.
 
Click on over to the ALSC Blog and check out the list of eight new sites added to ALA's Great Websites for Kids, the online resource featuring hundreds of links to exceptional websites for children. [http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2016/02/eight-new-sites-added-to-great-websites-for-kids/]

Have a great weekend!

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16. #823 – Here Comes Valentine Cat by Deborah Underwood & Claudia Rueda

Here Comes Valentine Cat Series: Here Comes Cat Written by Deborah Underwood Illustrated by Claudia Rueda Dial Books for Young Readers    12/22/2015 978-0-525-42915-9 88 pages     Ages 3—5 Junior Library Guild Selection “Cat is no fan of VALENTINE’S DAY, especially when it brings a new dog to the neighborhood. “Ouch. I’m sorry, Cat. …

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17. Library Loot: The First Half of February

New Loot:
  • Illusion by Frank Peretti
  • Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
  • My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  • An Instance of the Fingerpost by Ian Pears
  • An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
  • Dance! Dance! Underpants by Bob Shea
  • Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson
  • My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody 
  • The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan
Leftover Loot:
  • N or M? by Agatha Christie
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  • Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones
  • Blood Royal by Eric Jager
  • A Sudden, Fearful Death by Anne Perry
  • Freedom's Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron
  • The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh by Kathryn Aalto
  • The Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell
  • Truman by David McCullough
  • Nurse Matilda the Collected Tales by Christianna Brand
  • The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
            Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City by Will Mabbit, illustrated by Ross Collins, 304pp, RL 4



Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City is the second book in Will Mabbitt and by Ross Collins's superb new series and, if possible, it's even better than the first, The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones. In the first book, Mabbitt introduced our hero who is conscripted into the life of a pirate because she was caught doing THE DEED (picking her nose and eating it) and allowed to stay (despite being a girl) because she can read. The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones is a panoramic sweeping story packed with richly detailed and very imaginative characters and places. With Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City, the story becomes more personal and urgent for Mabel.

When we see Mabel again, she is in her room, scratching her armpit and staring at a "funny-looking thing, all fat and helpless. Like a beetle grub. Kind of slimy, but kind of cute, too." It's Mabel's baby sister Maggie, and mere minutes after this sweet scene of sibling love, Maggie is taken out of her room by a nasty tasting, powerful creeping vine. Mabel grabs on to the last bit of the disappearing vine and finds herself in a wardrobe in another time and place - the Noo World, specifically, the City of Dreams, a sort of post-apocalyptic, dangerous civilization built upon the remains of New York City.


 Mabel in in America - and once again having an adventure in her pajamas, and this time bunny slippers as well. Once she gets her bearings, she heads off to the dwelling of Mr. Habib, a beak-collecting fortune teller who might be able to tell her where to find Maggie. Mable almost gets her nose snipped off to add to the collection, but she does get a lead and soon she in afloat again. This time, she has secured a position on a little paddle steamer, the Brown Trout, upon which she will be cruising down the Great Murky River to the Forbidden City, rumored to be under the thrall of a wicked sorceress. This expedition is being headed (and funded) by Professor Carruthers Badger-Badger, Phd and Timothy Speke, an otter who enjoys sketching and loves his damson jam. They are journeying to the Forbidden City to find a diamond the size of a gorilla's fist, seen in a faded advertisement from a magazine.

Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City finds the return of old friends, some of whom are now enemies, a flock of zombified egrets under the sway of the Witch Queen, a sunken high school full of skeleton students and the Scuttling Death, rival adventurer Sir Gideon Scapegrace and an epic climactic scene that will have you on the very edge of your seat as Mable prepares to make a huge sacrifice.

Not to fear, there will be another book in the Mabel Jones series! Without giving too much away, Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City ends with her staring out over the vast wasteland that was once New York City, picking her nose and wondering what happened to all the "hoomans."




The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones

A few of the many books by Ross Collins!






Source: Review Copy






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19. FROM THE BACKLIST - Aaron and Alexander: the Most Famous Duel in American History by Don Brown

Aaron and Alexander: the Most Famous Duel in American History Written and illustrated by Don Brown Roaring Brook Press. 2015 ISBN: 9781596439986 Grades 5 - 12 I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library. Aaron and Alexander could have been friends. They were alike in many ways. But the ways in which they were different made them the worst of enemies. Brown’s

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20. Out-of-Print Diversity

There is a perception that we’re all very sophisticated and educated these days, as opposed to the past.  That older books for children have a tendency to be racist or contain outdated ideas.

Not so.

In my *does the math* thirteen years as a children’s librarian I’ve discovered that you can find some real gems if you just dig deeply enough into a library’s backlist.  And just because a title came out twenty or thirty years ago, that doesn’t mean it’s any less forward thinking than our books today (in some cases, more so).

The other day someone asked me a very specific question:  If you could bring back in print any diverse out-of-print children’s book titles, what would they be?

Now the crazy thing is that the first two books I thought of are actually still in-print, albeit in ebook form.  I’ll put them here anyway since they deserve a wider readership.  The first is the delightful Lavender Green Magic by Andre Norton.  Considering the fact that even today I can count the number of middle grade fantasy novels starring African-American characters on one hand, Norton’s book deserves to be better known.

LavenderGreen

The other novel is Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton.  A slightly more difficult sell as a YA (a genre that I believe dates more quickly than its younger counterparts) it’s still a compelling read.

SweetWhispers

Both of those are available through Open Road Media as ebooks, of course.  You know one book that isn’t?  A book that’s about a black, female, space explorer with art from the Dillons?  I’ve mentioned it once before but it bears repeating:

blastoff

An interior image:

Blastoff

Get more information on the book at Stephanie Whelan’s blog Waiting to Tesseract.

And just to make myself feel old, I’m including here a book that was in-print when I first reviewed it back in 2006 but has since fall out.  The delightful early chapter book Younguncle Comes to Town by Vandana Singh.

Younguncle_cover_1

I know that there are many other out-of-print diverse books out there.  Can you think of any favorites of your own?

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21. #STBAblogtour16 DAY FIVE


 The "grand finale" of the 2016 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour is a virtual panel discussion amongst the various winning authors and illustrators. As always, this roundup is hosted by Barbara Krasner at The Whole Megillah.


The participants made comments about the experience like "Always inspiring to be included in a group of such accomplished, thoughtful authors and illustrators!" (Leslie Kimmelman), "It's wonderful to read all the blogs!" (Kathy Kacer), and "It has been an honor and a privilege getting to know all of you. See you in Charleston!" (Heidi Smith Hyde). We hope to see you as well, dear reader, in Charleston at the 51st Annual Association of Jewish Libraries conference where the Sydney Taylor winners will receive their awards!

The entire blog tour may be found here.


 

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22. A Talk With Pat Scales

Photo courtesy of Pat Scales

Photo courtesy of Pat Scales

Pat Scales is the 2016 recipient of the ALSC Distinguished Service Award, and we’re thrilled to have her share some memories of her years of working with children, families, librarians, and educators across the country. ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee member Miriam Lang Budin chatted with Pat via email:

Miriam Lang Budin: First of all, congratulations on receiving the 2016 ALSC Distinguished Service Award! What a well-deserved recognition of your many years of dedicated school librarianship, professional leadership, and continuing guidance to those of us in the trenches.

Do you have any funny stories about your work as a champion of intellectual freedom?

Pat Scales: Yes.  I helped an elementary school in the late 1980s deal with a parent who complained about William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble because “Sylvester has an out of body experience.”  She was, of course, referring to Sylvester turning into a rock.  I have used that book in teaching students about the freedom to read.  I told them about the complaint about the “pig policemen” in the 1970s, and then I told them about the later complaint.  They asked me to explain an out of body experience.  I had to say I didn’t know because I had never had one.

One of my favorite stories is the time I was teaching the First Amendment to eighth graders.  I told them that My Friend Flicka had been banned in Florida because of the word “bitch” in reference to a female dog.  I asked them to name other words that society has turned into slang.  A boy on the front row said, “pussy.”  The students didn’t hear him and asked me what he said.  I turned to the class and said, “John said pussy, and he’s absolutely right.”  I then recited ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat.’ Not one student laughed. Later the teacher and I invited the principal to the class to hear the lecture.  He was amazed by the students, and said it was one of the best lessons he had ever observed.  I turned to him and told him that I was sorry he missed “pussy.”  He collapsed on the floor laughing.

MLB: Have you ever been afraid for your safety when working in the field?

PS: No, not ever.  There were two incidents that happened when I was at a residential high school for the arts, but they didn’t frighten me.

I served on a panel at ALA about privacy and the Patriot Act. What we didn’t know until later was that some very conservative organizations had planted people in the audience.  When I returned home I received some very threatening telephone calls at work. Someone even wrote to our governor complaining about my views.  I was called from the governor’s office just to inform me that the governor stood behind me.  Security guards escorted me to my car for about a week.  I never heard anything more after that week.

A woman appeared in the library one day around 5:00 and began pulling books, marking specific pages with strips of paper, and stacking them on tables.  Most were art books that had nude paintings.  There were a few graphic novels that she added to the stacks.  She quickly fled when I asked her if I could help her.  Then I spotted a magazine that had my name on the label.  She had circled my name and written “the problem.” I never knew who she was.

MLB: Can you tell us about a satisfying victory?

PS: I worked with a group of citizens in Fayetteville, Arkansas who were fighting a woman who was leading a campaign to get any books that dealt with “sex” out of the school libraries.  The group addressed the school board in a kind of town hall meeting, and won their battle.  It was wonderful to see a community group rise in support of books, the right to read, and the right to seek information.

I was also an expert witness to the Annie on My Mind censorship trial in Olathe, Kansas. High school students sued the superintendent of schools after he pulled the book from the library shelves.  Garden’s book had been in the library for ten years, and there had never been a question until a gay/lesbian group wanted to gift the book to the school library. That made the superintendent nervous, and he dismissed the selection policy and the materials review policy, and banned the book. The students were brilliant, and they won the case.

MLB: Have there been any crushing defeats?

PS: Yes.  The Miami-Dade Public Schools removed Vamos a Cuba because they didn’t think it accurately represented life in the Communist country.  They cited the cover of the book where a young boy is smiling.  “No child would smile under the Castro regime.” There were other complaints: “Only the rich would wear the festival dress.” “The boy pulling the oxen was too clean and neat and didn’t represent hard work.”  The Florida ACLU took the case to court, and they called me as an expert witness. We won the case in the federal district court, but the school district appealed.  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is very conservative, and they ruled that the school board had not violated anyone’s First Amendment rights.  The book was permanently removed.

MLB: Is there an ongoing battle that you feel is especially important?

PS: We still deal with issues related to “labeling” of content in books, and restricting students to books on their “reading level” in school and public libraries.  This is extremely troubling, because this restricts young readers’ access to books they want, or information they need.  There are documented cases where books have been removed from a library based solely on a Common Sense Media review.  This site uses emoticons to label controversial issues in books and media.  It’s all taken out of context, and the folks working for them aren’t professionals. There are other websites that label in much the same way.

There have been many censorship cases related to “reading levels.”  Parents and teachers want their really “good” readers to read books that have “high reading levels.”  Sometimes these books are too mature for the reader.  For example, a newspaper in Arizona interviewed me when The Perks of Being a Wallflower was banned in an elementary school in Apache Junction.  The school had purchased the book because Accelerated Reader put it on the fourth-grade reading level.  This case prompted the State Superintendent to send a letter of “warning” to all school libraries in the state.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower isn’t appropriate for fourth-grade, and shouldn’t have been purchased for the elementary school.

No librarian should ever allow any company to determine what they purchase for their library.  We have a number of professional review journals to guide us.

MLB: What can we do to help?

PS: Talk the Talk.  Walk the Walk.  DO NOT succumb to pressure from organizations from the “right” or the “left.”  Review your selection policies and make sure they include statements related to “controversial” materials and cultural and historical accuracy.  Then stick to your policies.

Encourage state library associations to sponsor programs; enroll in webinars about the issues; write blogs and articles for journals and newsletters; and, sponsor Banned Books Week activities for kids and adults to make them aware of the issues.

Pat’s regular column in School Library Journal, Scales on Censorship, is a valuable resource for reasoned, practical responses to intellectual freedom concerns. Questions can be sent to pscales@bellsouth.net.

Thank you, Pat!

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23. Join the ALSC Community Forum on Summer Reading & Learning

ALSC Community ForumThe ALSC Board of Directors and ALSC President Andrew Medlar will be hosting an ALSC Community Forum live chat on the topic of summer reading & learning. This forum will include a live text discussion with the newly appointed ALSC Summer Reading & Learning Task Force.

Join us to discuss how libraries across the country are finding new and engaging ways to keep kids reading and learning in their communities and explore ways in which ALSC can help assist members in their work.

ALSC’s next forum will be held on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at:

  • 2pm Eastern
  • 1pm Central
  • 12pm Mountain
  • 11am Pacific

Members are invited to check out the National Summer Learning Association’s new Summer Learning Policy Snapshot in preparation for this discussion.

Accessing the Forum

ALSC Community Forums take place on Adobe Connect. A few days prior to the event, ALSC members will receive an email with a URL link to the forum. You can also find a direct link to the forum from the Community Forum site (member login required). A recorded webcast of the forum will be available after the live session has completed.

Participate via Twitter

Members who cannot participate in the live chat can participate via Twitter using the hashtag #alscforum. Questions and answers will be submitted to the forum as time allows.

Questions? Contact ALSC Membership and Marketing Manager, Dan Bostrom or by phone, 800-545-2433 ext 2164.

The post Join the ALSC Community Forum on Summer Reading & Learning appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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24. #STBAblogtour16 DAY FOUR

A little catch-up today with the Shanghai Sukkah interviews, and two new Blog Tour stops: Everybody Says Shalom and Stones on a Grave.

Be sure to check out yesterday's interview on The Hired Girl, and get the rest of the blog tour schedule here.

Catching up from WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2016
 
Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Kristi's Book Nook
Author & Illustrator Interviews  


THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2016
 
 
Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Talitha Shipman
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb
Author Interview

   
Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Randomly Reading
Author Interview and Book review


 

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25. Cover Reveal: The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg

You know where I lived for eleven years of my New York City life?  Harlem. You know where no one, aside from Walter Dean Myers, ever sets a middle grade novel?  Harlem.  Greenwich Village, Brooklyn, even Queens get more love than Harlem in books for 9-12 year olds.  So you might understand why I’m happy a middle grade novel is set there at long last.  Today’s cover reveal comes via YA-author-turned-middle-grade-writer Elizabeth Eulberg.  Ladies and gentlemen I give you . . .

GreatShelbyHolmes

The quick and dirty:

Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth grader. She’s nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen—always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes.

When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that’s eluded her up till now: a friend. The easy-going John isn’t sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that’ll take both their talents to crack.

Elizabeth Eulberg was born and raised in Wisconsin before heading off to college at Syracuse University and making a career in the New York City book biz. Now a full-time writer, she is the author of The Lonely Hearts ClubProm & PrejudiceTake a BowRevenge of the Girl with the Great PersonalityBetter Off Friends, and We Can Work it Out. She lives outside of Manhattan with her three guitars, two keyboards, and one drumstick. Visit her online at www.elizabetheulberg.com and on twitter at @ElizEulberg.

So that is that.  The book is on sale September 6th  and is the first in a three book series. Thanks to Lizzy Mason and the folks at Bloomsbury for the reveal.

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