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1. Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton

I almost didn't review Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton. I reviewed Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zachary Ohara in April of this year and the world play of "wrecks" and "rex" feels a little done. But . . . well . . . Clanton draws a mean monster, an adorable uni-rabbit and an endearing little robot. And then there are the building blocks. Clanton does amazing

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2. The Spooky Box by Mark Gonyea

The Spooky Box by Mark GonyeaKnock, knock! What would you do if you found a box at your door? It’s not just any box though, it’s a spooky box! This small package could be filled with anything. There could be old bones or slithery snakes. When reading this book you will be presented with multiple items that could be contained in this mysterious black box. The narrator invites participation by eventually asking readers to open the box by lifting a page flap to discover what’s hiding inside.

This engaging picture book is perfect for Halloween celebrations since all the illustrations consist of only three colors: black, white, and a very light shade of orange. The suggestions for what could be in the box also reflect a Halloween theme with items like spiders and candy. This would be a wonderful story to spark creativity with either a large group or one-on-one. Children with wild imaginations will greatly enjoy this tale. So what do you think is hiding in the spooky box?

Posted by: Katie


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3. professional news and thank yous

future - digital divide images

This title sounds fancy but mostly I needed to play catch-up and this seems like the best way to do that. Hi. In the past month I’ve done two public speaking type things that went well and some other stuff. I’ve been remiss in sharing them in a timely fashion. So now I’m sharing them in a list fashion.

  • I went to Mississippi for the MLA Conference which was a great time. I led a facilitated discussion pre=conference which is the first real time I’ve done something like that. You can read the slides here: The Digital Divide and You which includes input from the discussion part of the afternoon. I stuck around for the conference and was very glad I did. I put some photos up here. Thank you MLA, the Mississippi Library Commission and especially MLA President Amanda Clay Powers for showing me a good time.
  • VLA hosted a table at VT’s first annual ComicCon. This was a hugely fun event and terrific for library outreach. We had free stickers and reading lists, a display of banned graphic novels and people could get their photos taken in our “Vermont Comic Reader’s License” booth which netted a ton of delightful photographs (more on facebook). We also sponsored one of the special guests — Dave Newell, Mr. McFeely from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood) and he did storytime at the booth with puppets. I staffed the table one of the days. Such a good time. Huge shout-outs to other planners: Helen Linda, Sam Maskell and Hannah Tracy.
  • Another MLA! This time the Massachusetts Small Libraries Conference (also the “first annual”) and I was the keynote speaker talking about how to Future-proof libraries. A combination of talking about what the challenges and unique positions small and rural libraries are in as well as some ways to nudge people towards getting interested in the online world. Notes and slides here. Big thanks to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners & the Massachusetts Library System.
  • I started writing for The Open Standard, Mozilla’s new online-writing thing. My first article, After Some Victories, the Time Has Come to Legally Define ‘Fair Use’, has been up for a while now. I’d love to know what you think.
  • Also I’m not sure if I was explicit in my “I’m moving on” post about MetaFilter but I’m still at least somewhat looking for work. I love Open Library and my local teaching but I’ve got a few more hours in my schedule and would be happy to do some more speaking, some consulting or some writing. I have a one-pager website that summarizes my skillset. Feel free to pass it along to people.

I gave a really quick “How to do an elevator speech” talk after lunch at MLA (the one in MA, not the one in MS) and it was really fun. All librarians should practice their elevator speeches. Here’s my one slide from that talk. You can probably get the gist of it.

how do to an elevator speech in one slide

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4. The Right Fight (2014)

The Right Fight. Chris Lynch. 2014. Scholastic. 192 pages. [Source: Library]

 I enjoyed Chris Lynch's The Right Fight. Roman, the protagonist, loves, loves, LOVES baseball. But he loves his country even more. That is why he enlisted even before America entered the war--the second world war. The book chronicles his early experiences in the war as a tank driver. Readers see him through training, war games, and going overseas, his various assignments and missions. (Most of the book sees him in North Africa). Readers experience it from his point of view and from a few letters as well. One sees how his fellow soldiers--the men in his tank specifically--form a family. One also sees the many (often-ugly) sides of war.

I enjoyed this one. I thought there was a good balance of action (war) and characterization. I liked getting to know Roman, his fiancee, his war buddies.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Poetry Re-Issue: I'm the Squeak Upon the Stair (a spooky Halloween poem)

This poem first ran here at Gottabook back in 2011.

I’M THE SQUEAK UPON THE STAIR...
by
Greg Pincus

I’m the squeak upon the stair...
Yet when you look, there’s no one there.
I’m howling winds, groaning floors,
Extinguished lights, slamming doors.
I’m flitting shadows, darkening skies,
Piercing screams, distant cries.
I’m all your fears – heard, felt, or seen.
I’m in your head. I’m Halloween.

Halloween is on Poetry Friday again (with the roundup hosted by Linda over at TeacherDance)! This makes me happier than peanut butter cups, I gotta say. May those of you who trick-or-treat have a happy, safe evening (same for those of you who don't, by the way). And... boo!

If you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe:

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6. Good Things Come in Threes: Three Tech Tools For the Classroom, part 2

At an academy I went to not quite so long ago, someone said something that resonated with me deep inside.  What was basically said was that in the past, it was easy to keep up with the newest and shiniest tech tools online.  Now, it simply can't be done.  There is too much out there In today's edutech world, we now work at reinventing the tools we know and spend more time doing that than finding the latest and greatest (with different shelf lives to boot).
I'll always be a tech hound, sniffing out some really useful tools and sharing them on this blog, but I also believe in small portions that's more palatable.  So, here are three cool tools you may like:



1. Snapguide:  www.snapguide.com
This is a website or an app and is a great way to create those "how to" guides with text, images, links and most of all...imagination!  Snapguide is great in the classroom or with educators to help make navigation easier.  If nothing else, check out this website - SO many possibilities!!! Simple sign-in and start procedure.  Here's an example of one:
https://snapguide.com/guides/turn-an-old-book-into-tablet-case/


2. Cacoo:  www.cacoo.com
This site allows users to create diagrams, flowcharts and mindmaps from scratch or via a template.  Yes, there are others like that out there, but Cacoo goes one step further by allowing users to create them in real-time and chat with them while working.  You can open them to the public or keep them private and even export them as a pdf or png There are premium versions, and the free one allows 1 shared folders with up to 15 users at the same time and a .png download.  SO many possibilities and works well with all types of curricula.


3. Showbie: www.showbie.com
This is both a site and an app and is pretty cool!  I test drove this as a student AND teacher.  Okay...what happens is a teacher creates an assignment/class and gives students the code.  Students log in and upload their work. The advantage is the simplicity of the interface, the different types of products students can submit, and being to check and grade on your iPad OR laptop.


And as a side note, www.canva.com is a GREAT poster/infographic/presentation creator, is now an app, making it the first infographic tool that I know of you can use to create with iPad.  THANK YOU!! :)

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7. One Little Word: Silence

Did you pick one little word this year? How's it going?

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8. Firebird, by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers -- follow your dreams and soar (ages 6-10)

We want to teach our children to follow their dreams, to reach for the stars -- but we also want them to realize that it takes hard work, practice and perseverance to get there. Firebird is a beautiful, stirring new picture book by ballerina Misty Copeland that shares both of these messages, and more.
Firebird
Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird
by Misty Copeland
illustrated by Christopher Myers
G.P. Putnam's / Penguin, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 6-10
*best new book*
As you begin reading this picture book with children, you'll need to take on two voices, for Copeland creates a conversation between a young girl who dreams of dancing and herself as a professional ballerina. The girl looks up to Copeland, saying, "the space between you and me is longer than forever" -- how could I ever become as beautiful and graceful as you?
"you are the sky and clouds and air"
Firebird, by Misty Copeland & Christopher Myers
The real magic begins when Copeland turns to the young girl, reassuring her that she was once just as small, just as shy, that "you're just where I started." Through this poetic conversation, Copeland conveys that this young girl can become a professional dancer if she puts in the hours of work, sweat and practice.
"I was a dancer just like you
a dreaming shooting star of a girl
with work and worlds ahead"
Share this picture book with older students, perhaps 3rd and 4th graders, who can understand Copeland's poetic language and the interplay between the two characters. Encourage them to read this story more than once--it is one that really grew in my heart each time I read it.

Deepen their appreciation for Copeland's message by encouraging them to learn more about her as a professional dancer. Read her afterword, a note to the reader about why she wanted to write this story.
"My hopes are that people will feel empowered to be whatever they want to be... No matter what that dream is, you have the power to make it come true with hard work and dedication, despite what you look like or struggle with."
Students would find this ABC News interview very interesting:


Christopher Myers' artwork brings strength and grace to this story with dramatic lines and colors. The idea for this book was actually Chris's, as Misty told Jules Danielson in a recent Kirkus article. His mixed media collages contrast the bold colors of ballet with the young girl's grey concrete world, but they also juxtapose angular lines with the dancers' dynamic graceful movement.

I can't wait to hear what my students say about this. I think this is a book that they, too, will return to time and time again. The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Penguin Random House. Illustrations are copyright ©2014 Christopher Myers. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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9. West of the Moon (2014)

West of the Moon. Margi Preus. 2014. Abrams. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading Margi Preus' West of the Moon. Astri and her younger sister, Greta, have been left in the care of their aunt and uncle. Their father has gone to America. If all goes well, he will send for them. But their aunt and uncle aren't thrilled to have two additional mouths to feed, to put it kindly. The novel opens with the aunt selling Astri to a stranger, a goat farmer. Her time as his servant is unpleasant, horrible in fact. But she's planning an escape. Not just an escape, but a rescue mission too. She is planning on escaping, rescuing her sister, and somehow, someway, making it to America to find their father. Ambitious, yes, very much so. But Astri is resilient, strong, and determined.

The novel is titled West of the Moon. Throughout the book, Astri makes comparisons between her own life--her own miserable life--and fairy tales or folk tales. The one she uses most often is East of the Sun and West of the Moon. But there are other references as well.

West of the Moon is a historical coming of age story. It is a tale of survival. Astri is many things, as I've mentioned, but she's not perfect. Throughout the entire book, Astri is put into difficult situations, and sometimes a choice is required of her. Choices that will ultimately have consequences. Astri's decisions give readers something to think about perhaps.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Creating Beautiful Chalkboard Posters for FREE!

oh yeah....I'm all into this (right now. I'm sure I'll find something else later in the week to play with)

I LOVE posting pics of cool quotes on Twitter so I went to Google images to find one and I saw this AUDACIOUS chalkboard poster.

When I went to the site, of course they were for sale on Etsy, and I thought, "No way!  I'll learn how to do it on my own!"

So I cheated a little and found some hints and tricks from other sites and blogs and then just played around with it for awhile and waa-lah!  You too, can makes these fabulous posters from scratch to share, tweet, blog, or post on your website.  All you need are a couple of great quotes (there are billions online) and start creating!;

First, you have to find a chalkboard background.  If using a Creative Commons website, make sure you add the attribution at the bottom of the background.  Here's one from Alice Keeler on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alicegop/13318243535/in/photolist-4U2LU1-6WB15Q-4nnLFX-6WwZF2-6WB16f-6WwZEv-64jkeP-iezaRh-7Nwmv-6SRSMe-9jQxWq-mhTtNx-mhVm7A-8H4sE5-8H4sNq

There are other ways to create chalkboards as well.  If you want a simple black background, create one in powerpoint and save it as a .jpg  My favorite is going to www.picmonkey.com   Go to design, then click on textures and there's are two chalkboard backgrounds you can use.  Canva canva.com has a background as well.

Second, it's time to start looking for some fonts you can use.  I really like dafont.com  There are several that would work including Sketchblock, Blackboard, or Chalk Hand Lettering.  You can also just choose which ones tickle your fancy.  Another MUST font to download would be Dingbats. These will be used for decorating your chalkboard.

Third, find the platform you want to use. I use Powerpoint, but if you know of something else, you can do that as well.  You can absolutely design it completely in PicMonkey (which I did with this one) and use your own fonts.  You can also use Canva, but the fonts are set on it.  Whatever you choose, you're going to have fun!

Fourth, Think outside the box.  The one I created above is pretty simple, but think about the different colors you could use for text, more elaborate shapes you could use as well as the massive amount of other sites out there.

And that's it.  Setting the entire thing up will be the longest part, but after that, the sky's the limit! Have fun and chalk to your heart's content.  Best part of it all?  You don't have to slap the erasers on a tree outside and get chalkdust up your nose, in your clothes, drying out your skin...ahhhhh school days!



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11.

Great for #WorkingMoms & their kids http://buff.ly/1ntEItL Adventure Annie Goes to Work by Toni Buzzeo #kidlit CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS - ADVENTURE ANNIE GOES TO WORK by Toni Buzzeo

from Google+ RSS http://ift.tt/1wyY3tZ

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12. Cover Reveal: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents . . .

One of my favorite graphic novels this year was the awfully ambitious (and awfully good) The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents . . . MacBeth.  Any book that uses that much ketchup in its plotting has my instant love.  So when the folks at First Second asked if I wanted to present the cover reveal for the next book in the Stratford Zoo series, you can bet I said yep.

Good readers will remember which play was alluded to on the last page of the last book.  And here she is!

StratfordZooRomeo Cover Reveal: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents . . .

Author Ian Lendler puts it this way:

“When I travel to schools and ask if anyone has heard of Shakespeare, about half the students will raise their hands. They sort of vaguely know that he’s famous for some reason. But when I ask if anyone has heard of Romeo and Juliet, without fail, every hand in the room is raised. Everyone knows this story.

It has worked its way so deeply into world culture (not just Western culture, mind you), that it is easily the most adapted play in Shakespeare’s canon. Off the top of my head, the Romeo and Juliet story has been set in the world of Miami mafias, kung-fu street cops, a military school, ninjas, immigrants in the Bronx, L.A. high schools, alley cats, and garden gnomes. And why?

Because if you can’t root for two crazy kids in the throes of crazy love then your heart is made of stone. I fully confess that while I was writing this book, I found myself rooting for this cocky rooster and plucky bear to beat the odds. Unfortunately, Shakespeare had different plans for them.”

 

Artist Zack Giallongo concurs:

“I think what I love most about this book is the physical contrast between Romeo and Juliet. One is a small, wiry, brightly-colored bird. The other is a large, solid, earth-tone mammal. And yet, both are equally appealing, not only to one another, but to the readers. It’s clear, though, that despite the physical disparity, both have the same desires, the same wants, and the same problems. Both have parents that are louts, both have aggressive (and pompous) agents in the form of Tibbs and Mercutio, and both feel misunderstood. And isn’t that what we all feel from time to time? I hope that I got these feelings that Ian wrote into the book across with my drawings, and that we can understand one another, even if we’re a bear and a rooster.”

Looking forward to it, guys!  Keep up the good work.  Fingers crossed you do Tempest next.  I’d love to see the animal that gets to play Caliban.

 

share save 171 16 Cover Reveal: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents . . .

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13. App of the Week: Canva

Name:  Canva
Cost:  Free

Platform:  iPad

Canva app icon

Graphic design is a tricky business, and one that many of us don’t realize is part of our job description until we’re faced with a blank document and a list of almost-but-not-quite-right font choices.   Canva, a free, web-based application that lets you easily produce professional-looking designs, made this part of the job much easier for me when it debuted over a year ago.  Now, with the introduction of the iPad app, the possibilities are both endless and mobile.

To get started, sign up for an account with either your email address or Facebook account, allowing you to access your designs from both the iPad or web version of the app.  You can then choose from a list of templates that includes everything from blog/social media graphics to presentations and posters, each with dozens of templates of its own.  Tapping on the different elements included in the template lets you delete, reposition, change colors, or swap them with any of the other elements in the app’s extensive catalog of free and “premium” (none costing more than $1) icons and images.  You can also upload your own photos from your iPad’s photo stream and apply filters before including them in your design.
Canva

Designs can then be shared via the usual suspects (text, email, Twitter, and Facebook) or downloaded as a .png for the web or a .pdf for printing.  You’ll be prompted to pay for any premium images included in the design at this time (via in-app purchase) and the watermarks will be removed.

So far, I’ve used Canva’s web app to design everything from icons for our online calendar to posters for programs and thank you cards for presenters, and I’ve heard glowing reports from teens of their successes using it for both school projects and social media posts.

The iPad app is not without its bugs — pics can be slow to upload and there are sometimes hitches in the interface that you don’t see in the web version — however, the developers seem quick to respond to user feedback and offer updates.  Meanwhile, the ease of use, professional results, and potential for collaboration that the iPad version offers makes this a go-to for your toolkit.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week?  Let us know.  And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog’s App of the Week Archive.

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14. Reread #44 Frankenstein

Frankenstein. Mary Shelley. 1818/1831. Oxford World's Classics. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]

Almost every time I read it, I focus on something new, something that I might have missed, something that I hadn't considered before. I thought I would share my observations with you instead of a traditional review.

Stories. Frankenstein is a story within a story. But it's more than that. It's a text that utilizes stories and storytelling even within that framework. The first story, of course, is the one Robert Walton is communicating to his sister, Margaret, through letters. After the first few letters, Walton stops being so introspective and focuses on telling someone else's story. Victor Frankenstein's story. This is written in the letters in first person, as if Victor himself were telling the story--sharing it. Within that big story, are dozens of little stories. The story of how his parents met. The story of his birth and childhood. The story of how Elizabeth was adopted. The story of how he became interested in science. The story of his mother's death. The story of his going away to university. The story of his madness--his obsession--and how he came to create life. The story of his sickness and recovery. The story of his learning about his brother's death/murder. The story of Justine. You get the idea. Each story is crafted and shaped. These stories are how he sees himself and the world, his place in it. Some of the stories are personal and a vital part of the plot. Other stories are more like asides. But this isn't Victor's story alone. Midway through the book, readers learn the creature's story. Even though this is written in first person though the eyes of the creature--the monster--the words are for better or worse being filtered through Victor Frankenstein's memory. He's telling what the monster said. He's telling what the monster heard. And Robert Walton is then passing along Frankenstein's story of the events and conversations. The creature is a storyteller as well. He recalls his life, his memories, his desires and needs. But he also focuses in particular on one family, one French family living in exile. This section has multiple stories. Including one focusing on a young woman. Though it may seem like an aside to readers, the stories matter very much to the narrator, the creature. The stories are providing for him a framework of the world, of how it works, of what life and love are all about. The stories resonate with the creature. He has seen love. He has seen family. He has seen fellowship and community. Because he has seen this, he feels the lack of it in his own life. But it isn't just the unfolding story that he personally witnesses. He is also shaped by the stories--the words--in the books he oh-so-conveniently is able to read. Words and stories matter. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, the stories we share with others, they all matter. For example, I think the story the creature told himself over and over and over again was it is all Victor's fault. He made me. He gave me life. He made me this ugly, this revolting. He made me this large and strong. He left me--he abandoned me. He didn't love me. He never loved me. He rejected me. He made it so everyone would reject me. Why does everyone reject me? It's his fault. It's all his fault. He made me have killing-hands. He made me have killing-thoughts. He didn't show me a better way. He didn't teach me. He didn't raise me. I had to learn everything all by myself. It is his fault. I'm not responsible. Why would I be? It is his fault! If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be so miserable, so alone, so full of angst. I wouldn't feel pain or hunger or thirst. I wouldn't feel at all. The monster has his Job moments. One last thing, Victor Frankenstein speaks of the power of words, of persuasion. He warns that the creature has a way with words, that he can manipulate people by his persuasiveness. He warns Walton not to let himself be manipulated by the creature's story--his words and pleas. Is there any truth to this? Is the creature trying to masquerade himself as an angel of light? His actions say one thing: he's a killer, a murderer, he premeditates at least some of his crimes. His words say another: no one loves me, everyone runs from me, it's all HIS fault.

Questions. It's hard to read Frankenstein without questions. Who is the real monster? Who should be held responsible? Is there anyone who shouldn't be held responsible? Why is human life valued so little by ego-obsessed people? Why does Walton idolize Frankenstein?

Victor Frankenstein, Robert Walton, and the creature share a few things in common. They are introspective, moody, obsessed, and lonely. True, there are differences in their obsessions. Robert Walton is obsessed with glory, with adventure, with discovering the Northwest Passage. Walton has spent years if not decades obsessed with the North Pole, with the arctic regions. This started as a boy with books, with stories and words. His dream shifted slightly for a brief period of time when he wanted to be a poet, but, ultimately he came back to his first love. He didn't give up his poetic personality/nature however. Victor Frankenstein is first obsessed with science, with electricity, with creating life. This playing God leads to no good--it leads to madness and murder. I believe the madness started long before he was successful. I have never understood how he could piece together this creature--this eight-foot creature--and it is only when he is alive that he realizes that it is monstrous and ugly and unnatural and threatening. Why make it eight-feet? Why make it so unhuman? Regardless, having created life, he then becomes obsessed with destroying it--with murdering his demon-creation, his monster. His only reason to live is to track down and kill the monster. The monster's obsession? Well, he's driven by anger and pain. He wants to HURT Frankenstein. He is acting out, having murderous temper-tantrums all to get the attention of the one who gave him life, his father, his creator. He wants what he can't have. He wants love and acceptance. He wants to belong. He wants companionship and family. He wants to be happy. He wants to be treated fairly and humanely. He doesn't want to be judged based on appearances. He taunts and haunts his creator. He wants Frankenstein to be just as miserable and desperate as he is.

Quotes:

Robert Walton meets Victor Frankenstein:
In the morning, however, as soon as it was light, I went upon deck and found all the sailors busy on one side of the vessel, apparently talking to someone in the sea. It was, in fact, a sledge, like that we had seen before, which had drifted towards us in the night on a large fragment of ice. Only one dog remained alive; but there was a human being within it whom the sailors were persuading to enter the vessel. He was not, as the other traveller seemed to be, a savage inhabitant of some undiscovered island, but a European. When I appeared on deck the master said, "Here is our captain, and he will not allow you to perish on the open sea." On perceiving me, the stranger addressed me in English, although with a foreign accent. "Before I come on board your vessel," said he, "will you have the kindness to inform me whither you are bound?" You may conceive my astonishment on hearing such a question addressed to me from a man on the brink of destruction and to whom I should have supposed that my vessel would have been a resource which he would not have exchanged for the most precious wealth the earth can afford. I replied, however, that we were on a voyage of discovery towards the northern pole. Upon hearing this he appeared satisfied and consented to come on board. Good God! Margaret, if you had seen the man who thus capitulated for his safety, your surprise would have been boundless. His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering. I never saw a man in so wretched a condition. We attempted to carry him into the cabin, but as soon as he had quitted the fresh air he fainted. We accordingly brought him back to the deck and restored him to animation by rubbing him with brandy and forcing him to swallow a small quantity. As soon as he showed signs of life we wrapped him up in blankets and placed him near the chimney of the kitchen stove. By slow degrees he recovered and ate a little soup, which restored him wonderfully. Two days passed in this manner before he was able to speak, and I often feared that his sufferings had deprived him of understanding. When he had in some measure recovered, I removed him to my own cabin and attended on him as much as my duty would permit. I never saw a more interesting creature: his eyes have generally an expression of wildness, and even madness, but there are moments when, if anyone performs an act of kindness towards him or does him any the most trifling service, his whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equalled. But he is generally melancholy and despairing, and sometimes he gnashes his teeth, as if impatient of the weight of woes that oppresses him.
 Robert shares his big, big dream with Victor:
I was easily led by the sympathy which he evinced to use the language of my heart, to give utterance to the burning ardour of my soul and to say, with all the fervour that warmed me, how gladly I would sacrifice my fortune, my existence, my every hope, to the furtherance of my enterprise. One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race. At first I perceived that he tried to suppress his emotion; he placed his hands before his eyes, and my voice quivered and failed me as I beheld tears trickle fast from between his fingers; a groan burst from his heaving breast. I paused; at length he spoke, in broken accents: "Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of the intoxicating draught? Hear me; let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!"

And so it begins...
Yesterday the stranger said to me, "You may easily perceive, Captain Walton, that I have suffered great and unparalleled misfortunes. I had determined at one time that the memory of these evils should die with me, but you have won me to alter my determination. You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been. I do not know that the relation of my disasters will be useful to you; yet, when I reflect that you are pursuing the same course, exposing yourself to the same dangers which have rendered me what I am, I imagine that you may deduce an apt moral from my tale, one that may direct you if you succeed in your undertaking and console you in case of failure. He then told me that he would commence his narrative the next day when I should be at leisure. This promise drew from me the warmest thanks. I have resolved every night, when I am not imperatively occupied by my duties, to record, as nearly as possible in his own words, what he has related during the day. If I should be engaged, I will at least make notes. This manuscript will doubtless afford you the greatest pleasure; but to me, who know him, and who hear it from his own lips—with what interest and sympathy shall I read it in some future day! Even now, as I commence my task, his full-toned voice swells in my ears; his lustrous eyes dwell on me with all their melancholy sweetness; I see his thin hand raised in animation, while the lineaments of his face are irradiated by the soul within. Strange and harrowing must be his story, frightful the storm which embraced the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it—thus!
I've reviewed Frankenstein several times in the past. 2007. 2009. 2010. 2011

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Gabriel Finley & The Raven's Riddle (2014)

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle. George Hagen. 2014. Random House. 384 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I would say I enjoyed Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle, but, I'm not sure enjoyed is the right word. It kept me reading. I found it hard to put down. I wanted to know what happened next. Even if part of me didn't want to know. The book is creepy, or middle grade creepy which may or may not be satisfying enough for adult readers. There are ravens and valravens (vampire ravens), owls, robins, and perhaps a handful of other birds. Some working for good, some working for evil. There is some mythology and world-building. Gabriel Finley is the hero. This is his coming-of-age story. He's being raised by an aunt. She's strange and secretive and NEVER talks about his parents--well, in particular his father. As his birthday approaches, he begins to find out a bit about his family's past for better or worse. Turns out his father and uncle are a bit different or unique. Turns out he is different too. He can understand birds--ravens. He can hear them talking in his mind. Their is one in particular that is apparently destined to be his best friend, his other half.

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle is part coming of age novel and part adventure-quest-fantasy. The quest is both to save his father AND to save the world. All adventure quest stories have friends who help. Gabriel has several that he lets in on the secret. Abby and Pamela. And then there is Somes, a sometimes bully that just happens to come along at the right time to fall into this adventure.

I wanted to know what happened next. But at the same time, this one irritated and annoyed me. The hero didn't always seem so bright and clever.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Review: How We Fall

How We Fall by Kate Brauning. Merit Press. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot:  Jackie's feelings for Marcus are intense, but she tries to hide it. Oh, they flirt, and yes, there are stolen kisses. So why can't they just both admit that it's more than flirtation, why not go on a real date?

Jackie's afraid, afraid of what people will think. Marcus is her cousin. And, to make matters more sensitive, or at least Jackie more sensitive to what people will think, their families share one home. They live under the same roof.

Jackie has few people she can trust or turn to. Her older sister is at college; her parents wouldn't understand, or worse, would over react. Her best friend, Ellie, has disappeared and it's beginning to look like Ellie didn't run away but was kidnapped, or worse.

Breaking up with Marcus, or, rather, stopping things, doesn't help. Her feelings don't just go away, and seeing him with a new girl,, Sylvia, makes things worse. So Jackie tries seeing someone new, Will.

Jackie begins to pore over all emails and messages from Ellie, hoping to figure out what happened to Ellie. And she's surprised when a name turns up in an old email: Sylvia. Could Marcus's new friend have a connection to Ellie and her disappearance?

The Good: How We Fall looks at love and lust and desire. Jackie knows full well what other people are going to think about her and Marcus being together, and I'm sure there are readers who won't be able to get over the first cousin romance. As Jackie points out, though, it's not illegal; and at most, it means that in some states they wouldn't be able to marry. There was something so sweet, and heart-breaking, to have Jackie both trying to deny her feelings and love for Marcus, while doing searches to find colleges in states where marriage is possible. Add to it that Jackie is keeping her emotions and thoughts so close, from fear, that she hasn't shared this with Marcus.

Jackie's attraction to and love for Marcus is clear, and while the story is told from Jackie's point of view, it also becomes clear that what he feels for Jackie is true. On one level, How We Fall is, simply, about star-crossed lovers.

The star-crossed is made more complicated by the unique housing situation. About two or three years earlier (Jackie is now 16, Marcus a year older), the two families decided, for several reasons, to combine households and move in together. For Jackie and her older sister, that meant moving from California to rural Missouri. Her father, a lawyer, now does legal consulting from home; her mother works at the library. Her uncle works in a lawn and garden shop and her aunt takes care of the home, which also involves a working farm.

To use Jackie's words to describe her aunt and uncle: "Uncle Ward's opinions were a junk drawer combination of conservative family values, generous interpretations of self-restraint and normalcy, and questionable ideas Aunt Shelly found on the internet." Ward and Shelly have six children, ranging from twin toddlers to Marcus, the eldest.

The families share a home -- this isn't sharing land, or a building. It's using the same kitchen, the same living spaces, and trying to balance their values. It's not always easy; you can tell that sometimes Jackie's mother (Ward's sister) is biting her tongue about Shelley's judgments and rules. (Let's just say that Shelley isn't a fan of TV or movies while Jackie is looking to major in film in college.) Jackie has also gone from youngest child of two to an eldest child helping not only with chores, and selling their farm produce, and helping in the gardens and with the animals, but also babysitting her younger cousins.

Still, the families make it work. They are happy and functional; but it's also a financial decision. They are living a lifestyle, and in a home, that requires four adults working. But, to be honest, working "less", with a better quality of life, if that makes sense. Look at the father: he can return to law, but he's happier being a consultant. Jackie's mother is happy working at the library, but if the families split, she'd need to get a better paying job. I really loved that this book included this non-typical living argument, and that the arrangement works. And, I also think that more and more readers are going to identify with teens in home situations that are non-traditional.

As you can tell, the love story and the setting is what really captured my attention. There is also a mystery going on, the mystery of Ellie's disappearance, and I liked how this was handled. Jackie is not Veronica Mars; her friend lurks in the background, something that Ellie thinks about but, especially at first, doesn't obsess over. It's as time goes by, and it turns into a murder investigation, and Marcus's new girlfriend is revealed to have a link, that Jackie finds herself actively trying to learn more about Ellie's life to figure out what happened.

There is also Jackie's own new boyfriend, Will. One of the reasons I like Will is he ends up being such a good, understanding guy. Seriously, whether in real life or a book, when a person is confronted with a situation when they can be cruel or they can be kind -- when they can be judgmental or understanding -- when they be angry and lash out,or listen and be a friend? And they choose kind? It just makes my day; it reaffirms that people are good. And that was Will. Someone who is good.

Also, Will is cute. I said that How We Fall is also about desire, and that's true of Jackie and Marcus and Jackie and Will. Jackie is trying to figure out what she wants, and what she feels, and what is love, and what is love -- and it's a bit messy, made messier but the awkwardness of the situation and her thinking she is protecting everyone by not admitting to her feelings for Marcus. And then here is Will and yes he's fun to kiss cause he's older and hot and even with all this he is just such a good guy. And I love that this book shows the complexity of feeling, emotion, and desire that a teen girl feels.



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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17. Writing About Reading Begins With Thinking About Reading

Some weeks ago, when the school year was brand new, I wrote about setting up our Reading Journals for a year of writing about our reading.  Now we are approaching the end of… Continue reading

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18. Happy Halloween Ephemera

This marks the first year my daughter (now three) actually cared what her Halloween costume was.  She wanted to be a princess.  I brought home The Paper Bag Princess in response.  No worries.  She won’t be wearing a paper bag or anything.  I just wanted to combat the princess notion any which way.  And now – links!

  • Almost exactly a year ago I attended the Society of Illustrators show where some of the best picture book art of the year was on display.  At that time the show was honoring the late great artist Barbara Cooney (she of Miss Rumphius fame, amongst other things).  Her son, Barnaby Porter, was on hand to talk about her and in the course of his talk he explained what exactly she would do on Halloween.  I’ve remembered it ever since and figured some of you Cooney fans out there might get a kick of Rocco Staino’s recording of Barnaby’s memories.

  • Fair play to Brooklyn Public Library, by the way.  They take the cake when it comes to faux hauntings.  At NYPL we haven’t a single named ghost in the system.  I mean, we all know that the Ottendorfer branch is the haunted one, but I’d love a name to go along with all the mysterious goings on.
  • 19585 1 229x300 Happy Halloween EphemeraThe other day Adam Rex tweeted the following: “Game I play every October: try to discover a children’s character with a commercially available costume but NO sexy version of said costume.”  Challenge accepted!  Except . . . dang it.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  Not Amelia Bedelia.  Not Curious George (really, people?).  Not the aforementioned Paper Bag Princess (though those get really quite creative).  In the end, it turned out that Clifford the Big Red Dog was the only safe one left.  The same, I suspect, cannot be said for his companion Emily Elizabeth.
  • Finally, today is the day when the children’s book publishers all across this great nation doff their craziest book-related costumes.  If you want a taste of what that feels like, here‘s last years costuming kookiness.  Fun Extra: If you look at the Raven Boys crew, my husband’s the raven on the far right.  True story.

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19. Not SCARY scary

Halloween is this week. Isn’t that nuts?  I’ve had kids in my department for weeks, asking for Halloween books, for ghost stories, for scary stories.

And then there are the kids that want something maybe creepy, maybe suspenseful but “not SCARY scary.” I love these kids.  These kids are my kindred spirits because I hate being scared. I can’t watch a horror movie and I never read a Goosebumps book when i was younger. But I do enjoy suspense and a little gloom.  Take a look at these books for your kids who want to have some Halloween reading but want to be able to sleep at night:

Source: Goodreads

The Theodosia Throckmorton series by R.L. LaFevers: Theodosia can see curses and get rid of them. This comes in handy as her parents work in a museum and there are artifacts with curses everywhere.  This is a fantasy adventure and though there are some creepy parts, it’s mainly pure fun as Theo tries to save Britain from ancient Egyptian curses.  There are four of these.

Source: Goodreads

Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones.  This British import has some scary and violent parts, but for the most part it’s a…funny ghost story. A funny ghost story! I love it! Something weird is happening with London’s ghost and a paper-pusher from the Ghost Bureau is sent to investigate.

Source: Goodreads

Ah, the original hilariously macabre story.  This one is a bit gruesome (I mean, it’s Roald Dahl, right?), and features a whole lot of nasty witches, transforming into mice, and a conclusion that will make some grownups uncomfortable.  But it’s not terrifying; it’s actually pretty satisfying. I reread this one recently and it holds up splendidly. No nightmares, just cringes of disgust and laughter.

BONUS: Funnies!!

Source: Goodreads

Ok, maybe this one skews a little young, but even my older teens love these.  There’s a nostalgia aspect, plus, the ridiculous nature of all the horrible happenings to the Baudelaires is hard to resist.

Happy Halloween to you and all of your patrons of varying reading interests!

*
Our cross-poster from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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20. A Quick Guide to Workshop Lingo

Call it jargon, call it terminology, call it what you will. We have our own made-up words for things sometimes.

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21. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illustrated by Gilbert Ford

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and illustrated by Gilbert Ford is a revelation! I had no idea that this structure that I always thought of as a slightly sketchy carnival ride had such an interesting inception and remarkable beginning. When, with only ten months to go before the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, a contest is announced inviting Americans to outdo the star

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22. Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!  

Today I'll be Medusa, hosting the annual preschool Halloween storytime and parade at the library, but on the way to work, I'll be enjoying Neil Gaiman's Halloween gift to the world, Click-Clack the Rattlebag.


Today is your last chance to get a free download of Neil Gaiman's scary short story, Click-Clack the Rattlebag. It's available only through Audible.com.  Get yours before your time runs out! 

Have a great day.

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23. Press Release Fun: A Charlotte’s Web Celebration Par Excellence

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                  

LIEV SCHREIBER, DAVID HYDE PIERCE, JANE CURTIN, MICHAEL POTTS AND MORE

CELEBRATE THE BELOVED AUTHOR OF CHARLOTTE’S WEB WITH READINGS AND MUSIC  

 EBWhite 500x403 Press Release Fun: A Charlottes Web Celebration Par Excellence

Symphony Space, First Book – Manhattan and HarperCollins Publishers announce

A star-studded evening honoring E.B. White on November 16, 2014   

October 2, 2014 NEW YORK, N.Y.— After the success of last year’s sold-out event featuring Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan performing excerpts from Roald Dahl’s classics, Symphony Space and First Book – Manhattan team up once again.  This time, the annual event will showcase readings by the New Yorker writer and treasured children’s novelist E.B. White.

At Terrific Tails: A Celebration of E.B. WhiteLiev Schreiber (Ray Donovan), Tony Award-winner David Hyde Pierce (Frasier), Jane Curtin (Saturday Night LiveUnforgettable), and Michael Potts (True DetectiveThe Wire) will take the stage with other Broadway and Hollywood actors to perform the work of the cherished writer whose humorous and poignant stories and poetry include Charlotte’s WebStuart Little and Trumpet of the Swan.  The evening will also include special guest appearances from White’s granddaughter Martha White and his stepson Roger Angell (author and former editor of The New Yorker). Barbershop quartet Scollay Square will perform songs from the film version of Charlotte’s Web. In addition, bestselling author of The Lunch Lady series, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, will return to host the event.  Proceeds will benefit First Book – Manhattan www.firstbook.org/manhattan

E. B. White (1899 – 1985), the author of such beloved classics as Charlotte’s WebStuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. He died on October 1, 1985.

Mr. White is also the author of One Man’s MeatThe Second Tree from the Corner, and This Is New York. In addition, he co-authored the English language style guide, The Elements of Style, which is commonly known as “Strunk & White.” He won countless awards, including the 1971 National Medal for Literature and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which commended him for making a “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. In a letter to his fans, he answered, “No, they are imaginary tales . . . But real life is only one kind of life—there is also the life of the imagination.”


Serving the New York City metro area, First Book – Manhattan distributes thousands of brand new books to disadvantaged children and the programs that serve them. Founded in 2011, First Book’s local Manhattan Advisory Board has granted more than 7,000 books throughout the community and expects this December event to be their most successful fundraiser to date.

Each year, First Book – Manhattan distributes thousands of brand new books to disadvantaged children and the programs that serve them throughout the New York City metro area. Founded in 2011, First Book’s local Manhattan Chapter has granted more than 25,000 books to kids in need and looks forward to hosting its most successful fundraiser to date on November 16.

“The bar we set for our signature event last year was a high one to leap over, but the production we have planned this time around will surpass the expectations of anyone who enjoyed last year’s show,” said Sean Gallagher, chair of First Book – Manhattan. “Ultimately, our goal is to provide as many books as possible to the underserved children in our community. We want everyone who comes to our winter benefit to have a fantastic time, and to be inspired to support the kids in this community with action.”

Event Details

“Terrific Tails: A Celebration of E.B. White”

When: Sunday, November 16 at 5pm

Where: Symphony Space Peter Jay Sharp Theatre

Tickets: $25 each; available on-line or at the box office by calling 212-864-5400

http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/8497/Family-Literature/thalia-kids-book-club-terrific-tails-a-celebration-of-eb-white

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24. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Mac Barnett Jon Klassen are the brilliant team that brought us Extra Yarn, winner of the Caldecott Honor Medal. With Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, Barnett and Klassen have created yet another book that readers (and little listeners) will instantly bond with. Seemingly simple, this book will satisfy adults and kids and is sure to get repeated readings wherever it lands, in part because of the wry

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25. Not SCARY Scary

Halloween is this week. Isn’t that nuts?  I’ve had kids in my department for weeks, asking for Halloween books, for ghost stories, for scary stories.

And then there are the kids that want something maybe creepy, maybe suspenseful but “not SCARY scary.” I love these kids.  These kids are my kindred spirits because I hate being scared. I can’t watch a horror movie and I never read a Goosebumps book when i was younger. But I do enjoy suspense and a little gloom.  Take a look at these books for your kids who want to have some Halloween reading but want to be able to sleep at night:

Source: Goodreads

The Theodosia Throckmorton series by R.L. LaFevers: Theodosia can see curses and get rid of them. This comes in handy as her parents work in a museum and there are artifacts with curses everywhere.  This is a fantasy adventure and though there are some creepy parts, it’s mainly pure fun as Theo tries to save Britain from ancient Egyptian curses.  There are four of these.

Source: Goodreads

Constable and Toop by Gareth P. Jones.  This British import has some scary and violent parts, but for the most part it’s a…funny ghost story. A funny ghost story! I love it! Something weird is happening with London’s ghost and a paper-pusher from the Ghost Bureau is sent to investigate.

Source: Goodreads

Ah, the original hilariously macabre story.  This one is a bit gruesome (I mean, it’s Roald Dahl, right?), and features a whole lot of nasty witches, transforming into mice, and a conclusion that will make some grownups uncomfortable.  But it’s not terrifying; it’s actually pretty satisfying. I reread this one recently and it holds up splendidly. No nightmares, just cringes of disgust and laughter.

BONUS: Funnies!!

Source: Goodreads

Ok, maybe this one skews a little young, but even my older teens love these.  There’s a nostalgia aspect, plus, the ridiculous nature of all the horrible happenings to the Baudelaires is hard to resist.

Happy Halloween to you and all of your patrons of varying reading interests!

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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