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1. Six things you need to do before the writing workshop year ends.

Next week, I will have to tear off the month of May from my office calendar and face June. This is always a rather terrifying moment for me - less than four weeks till the end of school...

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2. Graduate Student Reflections After Year One

Part of why I enjoy blogging for YALSA is that I can have my voice, as a librarian-in-training, be heard among other professionals. And so, I wanted to post a reflection after my first year in graduate school.

Year one was great. Choosing University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was the right choice for me. I feel challenged and surrounded by peers who are just as passionate about libraries as I am. These peers are also my friends, and together we explore Urbana-Champaign. The faculty have supported me in my endeavors and have shown me more resources than I can go through (thank goodness for websites like Diigo to keep track of all of them). My master plan has been changed but this professional has the ability to be flexible. I’ve embraced my revised path and feel even more confident than I did a year ago. Even sitting in graduation, hearing our dean speak, reminded me of why I joined this profession and all the things I have to look forward to. I think it’s truly an exciting time to be in library land.

In addition to academics, I have had plenty of professional experiences as well. From blogging for YALSA, to attending Midwinter, to even my job in the Urbana-Champaign community working with elementary students and teens. All of these experiences allow me to practice librarianship, to articulate my thoughts and opinions, and to share with other professionals my passion and my desire to continue to become a better librarian. I feel that I am always learning, continually rethinking what I thought was to be true. I have this near-perfect blend of in and out of classroom time. This past semester, I felt that every minute in the classroom helped to expand how I worked in the field. While it was sometimes overwhelming to have everything so inter-connected, these inter-connections told me I was taking advantage of this opportunity.

As I go into year two, I feel I still have so much to learn. I want to continue to soak in what I’m learning. The theory, the resources, the potential programming ideas. I will have a whole career to practice librarianship, but only one year left of living in the world of academia. This summer I want to continue to read and learn about what is going on in the field right now. What are libraries across the nation doing for our teens? And how can I continue to join the conversation?

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3. The Sky is Falling (2015)

The Sky is Falling. Mark Teague. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One day an acorn hit Chicken Little on the head. She popped up, screeching, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" "I don't think so," said Squirrel. Squirrel knew a thing or two about acorns. "See, it fell from a tree."

Premise/Plot: Chicken Little is convinced that the sky is falling when an acorn hits her on the head. Soon other chickens join her in that belief. (Not every animal on the farm is convinced. Not all get carried away). So what does a chicken getting carried away look like?! Well, in this book, it looks like DANCING. The book embraces the chicken-dancing concept. It keeps building and building. "They did the moonwalk, the mambo, and the twist." While Squirrel and his 'reasonable' friends (like Cat and Rabbit) know that the sky isn't falling, they are soon inspired to join in the dance because dancing is fun.

It was NO ACCIDENT that an acorn hit Chicken Little on the head. Though I admit I didn't catch this the first time I read it. There is a certain recurring character on each page. He's to be SEEN long before attention is called to him in the text. The FOX thought the chickens would react very differently if the sky were thought to be falling. And he was ready for his plan. But the dancing reaction, well, it leaves the Fox puzzled and a bit threatened. (He hates it when it is suggested that HE CAN'T DANCE.) Will the Fox have his way and enjoy chicken for lunch or dinner?!

My thoughts: I liked this one more than I thought I would. It improved upon second reading. I've now read it twice, and browsed it a third time. It's a clever book in a way. I'm not saying I love, love, love it. But I definitely enjoyed it!

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Seuss on Saturday #21

Sleep Book. Dr. Seuss. 1962. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence:
The news 
Just came in
From the County of Keck
That a very small bug
By the name of Van Vleck
Is yawning so wide
You can look down his neck.
This may not seem 
Very important, I know.
But it is. So I'm bothering 
Telling you so.

Premise/plot: A book to read at bedtime. It's addressed directly to readers, to you. Readers meet plenty of Seuss creations that are either already asleep or nearly so.

My thoughts: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book. I can't read it--even silently--without yawning. I love so many things about it including...
  • the time for night-brushing of teeth is at hand.
  • the number of sleepers is steadily growing. Bed is where more and more people are going.
  • the Audio-Telly-o-Tally-o Count, a machine that lets us know who is down and who's up
  • They're even asleep in the Zwieback Motel! And people don't usually sleep there too well.
  • moose dreaming of moose juice, goose dreaming of goose juice...
  • Ziffer-Zoof seeds, which nobody wants because nobody needs.
The Sleep Book is one of my favorite books by Dr. Seuss. I love the story, the rhythm and rhyme, the silliness.

Have you read The Sleep Book? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you think of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Dr. Seuss' ABC.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Sparky! by Jenny Offill



A little girl wants a pet, but her mother says she can only get a pet that doesn't need to be "walked, bathed or fed." After a visit to the library, she picks out the perfect pet from a book: a sloth. She orders one through the mail and Sparky as she calls him, lives up to his reputation as a lay about. The girl is determined to interact with him, but the only game he plays successfully is Statue. She tries one last time to impress her friend by putting on a show of sloth pet tricks. Once again, Sparky refuses to do anything. In the end, she learns to appreciate the sloth's slow companionship. This is a quiet book (as one might expect of a sloth), but the illustrations are cute and the underlying message of appreciating the low-key is a nice one. Winner of the Charlotte Zolotow award.

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6. Peace is an Offering by Anette LeBox




This book is basically an illustrated poem about ways to celebrate or express peace and walk away from a fight. The rhyming is relatively simple yet touching and the illustrations are adorably sweet.

                  "Peace is a joining not a pulling apart.
                   It's the courage to bear a wounded heart.....
                   Sing a quiet song.
                   Catch a falling star.
                   May peace walk beside you
                   Wherever you are."

Peace is an Offering has a classic, timeless quality which will help children see ways to be a friend and enjoy the quiet strength of peace.

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7. How Teamwork Brought Me Closer to Teens

When I started working at a multi-branch system, my whole world turned upside down; I came from the craziness of a single library system with a large teen population to a smaller branch with a tiny teen population.  Although this has thrown me for a bit of loop, I decided that in order to stay in touch with teens, and not let my years of experience lay by the way side, I will work more closely with my colleagues who do serve a large teen population. In other words I’d outsource myself.

What I mean by “outsourcing” is literally working more closely with colleagues to provide and implement new programs and services. Through these interactions, I have been able to step out of my home library branch and visit other branches to present, and implement, new programs and services. Although I still need to build up teen programming, at my main branch, I sincerely believe that we should not let an obvious factors like location, or lack of a teen audience, keep our ideas from getting to our colleagues and teens all over the city. In fact, for this summer, I was able to get two of my colleagues excited about a no sew blanket program; this singular program will be at three branches instead of one! Furthermore, the best thing about working with your colleagues is that they are just a phone call, or e-mail away, and are willing to try new things, and/or help us out in any way they can. More importantly, by co-hosting programs at different branches, we have access to information that will help us gauge the interests of the entire teen community.

Through these exclusive opportunities, we can not only get suggestions from actual teens, we can also get very valuable feedback, which could easily change the way we evaluate our programs and services. Either way, this is definitely a win-win situation for all of us since we can take this valuable information back to our branches and plan programs and services that will get teens into our buildings. By establishing a stronger connection between ourselves and our colleagues, we have a much better chance of finding out what teens are really looking for at our libraries and in our city. Not to mention, this partnership will allow us to get know our colleagues interests and talents, which is very advantageous and re-assuring because we know there are other people in our systems who are just as passionate as we are about serving teens.

Along with co- planning, and co-hosting programs with our colleagues, I want to continue the dialogue about taking the extra step in getting to know our teens. Although we may try every social media outlet we know and make a million flyers, we need to remember that if we want to know what teens want, we have to go into our communities and find out from the source itself. Again, we have our standard outreach programs and resources, but we need to keep trying other methods of connecting with teens. For example, if schools are having a volunteer fairs, we can pick up the phone and ask if we can set-up a booth. Another example: if we know teens are flooding the local coffee shop to study, why not drop off flyers there or maybe host a passive program at the venue. The sky is the limit with ideas so try one and run with it. However, don’t forget about the obvious factors, which are working with teachers and school administrators to get the word out that the library does offer teens programs and services. I know it can be a pain communicating with teachers and administrators, but persistence really pays off. Whether we invade the local high schools, create Teen Advisory Boards, visit other branch libraries, or hang out at Teen Centers, the best way to find out what teens want is to ask! This is the best data we could ever ask for so let’s run with it and work together to make it known that teens have a place in public libraries and, more importantly, that they have people in their corner who truly care about their interests and well-being.

Now that we have an idea of what teens want, and have a team of people who are willing to help makes these ideas a reality, the next part is to enjoy ourselves. Despite the countless amounts of hours we put into implementing programs, the real payoff is to see teens enjoy themselves and actually say they want to come back for the next program. More importantly, it’s imperative that we show our teens that we really enjoy these programs so get involved with them! Whether it’s an art project, a fitness program, or a presentation, become part of the program as well. One program that I had the most fun with was our Silent Library program, which involved a lot of prep and organization; I was literally exhausted, but, when I saw what these teens had to go through, my sides hurt from laughing so much, which made them laugh even more because I was in pain from laughing. Planning, and implementing programs, is only is a step towards having fun; the real fun is watching, and interacting, with our teens so dream big, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and enjoy!

 

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8. #698 – Jack and the Wild Life by Lisa Doan & Ivica Stevanovic

cover_Jack_and_the_Wildlife-330

#02 Jack and the Wild Life

Series: The Berenson Schemes
Written by Lisa Doan
Illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic
Darby Creek         9/01/2014
     144 pages    Age 9—12

“After a wild plan by his parents left Jack stranded in the Caribbean, the Berenson family decided to lay out some rules. Jack’s mom and dad agreed they wouldn’t take so many risks. Jack agreed he’d try to live life without worrying quite so much. Then Jack’s parents thought up another get-rich-quick scheme. Now the family’s driving around Kenya. An animal attack is about to send Jack up a tree—alone, with limited supplies. As Jack attempts to outsmart a ferocious honey badger and keep away from an angry elephant, he’ll have plenty of time to wonder if the Berenson Family Decision-Making Rules did enough to keep him out of trouble.” [book jacket]

Review
The Berenson family adults are constantly trying to find an easy way to make a fortune, conjuring up one odd scheme after another. Jack is the one that pays the price for these awful plans, while his parents wander through life unaware of most everything around them, including their missing son. This makes for many comical situations and gives the series its heart. This time, the Berensons fly to Africa, Jack in tow, because, as Dad tells Jack,

“Your mum and I have invented a brand-new kind of tourism . . . a surefire moneymaking opportunity.”

going to kenyaThey plan to build a tourist camp where people can live like a real Maasai tribe. Using mud, sticks, grass, and more mud, Jack’s parents plan to build the Maasai mud-huts tourists will gladly rent to experience tribal life (and a fence to keep out the lions). The best part of their plans, the two adults believe, is they need no money to build their attraction—Mother Nature supplies the materials. Jack is not thrilled. He finally had a “normal” life, a home, parents who held down real 9-to-5 jobs, and a new friend—Diana. Once summer began to fade into fall, Jack’s parents could no longer do that “grind.” But this time things will be different: Jack’s parents will plan ahead, not take any risks, and not lose Jack. Changing their ways proves more difficult than the parents thought, as things do not go as planned, risks are taken, and, well, Jack . . . he ends up in a tree.

Poor Jack, now he is in Africa, stuck up a tree, while his parents—yet to realize Jack flew out of the rented Jeep—are trying to find the guide for their new camp. Jack must protect himself from animals on the ground and the ones that can get past the fence he built around the tree. He sleeps in the tree, eats in the tree, and fears for his life—and the life of Mack, Diana’s stuffed monkey—in the tree. The last time his parents had a get-rich-quick scheme, Jack feared for his life on a deserted island. (#1 – Jack the Castaway reviewed here).

jack pageThe Berenson Schemes is a wonderful series, especially for kids that wish they could take control. With roles reversed, Jack acts more the parent, setting rules and following through. Meanwhile, Jack’s parents act more like spoiled, unruly children, who care about themselves first and Jack second. They do love their son, but cannot get it together as adults. In book #2, Jack and the Wild Life, the family has new decision-making rules in the hopes that Jack’s parents will be parents that are more responsible. As Jack makes a tree-bed out of duct tape and reads his Kenya guide, he thinks maybe the rules are not working as he had hoped they would.

I love the black and white illustrations. Stevanovic does a great a job of enhancing the story, giving readers a view into Jack’s situation and his emotions. I wish I had more images to show readers. The full-page illustrations are fantastic and have been in both books. By the end of the story, Jack’s parents may see the errors of their ways and promise Jack they will try harder to change . . . until the next edition, when they tire of being adults, devise a new scheme, and hook Jack into their plans. The Berenson Schemes #2: Jack and the Wild Life is great fun and I look forward to each new scheme and Jack’s consequences for merely being his parents’ child. Kids will love the mayhem Doan creates and the magic in Stevanovic’s illustrations. Book #3: Jack at the Helm, released this past March, 2015.

JACK AND THE WILD LIFE (THE BERENSON SCHEMES #2). Text copyright © 2014 by Lisa Doan. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Darby Creek, Minneapolis, MN.

Purchase Jack and the Wild Life at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesDarby Creek.

Learn more about Jack and the Wild Life HERE.
CCSS Guide for Teachers HERE.
Meet the author, Lisa Doan, at her website:  http://www.lisadoan.org/
Meet the illustrator, Ivica Stevanovic, at his website:  http://ivicastevanovicart.blogspot.com/
Find more middle grade books at the Darby Creek website:  http://bit.ly/DarbyCreek

Darby Creek is a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

The Berenson Schemes

#1 – Jack the Castaway

#1 – Jack the Castaway

#2 – Jack and the Wild Life

#2 – Jack and the Wild Life

JACK AT THE HELM 3

#3 – Jack at the Helm

 

 

 

#01 – Jack and the Castaway 2015 IPPY Gold Medalist for Juvenile fiction

x
x
.

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 518

jack and the wild life 2


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Africa, Darby Creek, family, get-rich-schemes, Inc., Ivica Stevanovic, Jack and the Wild Life, Jack at the Helm, Jack the Castaway, Kenya, Lerner Publishing Group, Lisa Doan

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9. Emerson Book Club Recommendations: Great summer reading plans! (ages 9-12)

Emerson's fantastic book club met today for our Summer Reading Celebration and 45 kids came to the library to have lunch together, swap book recommendations and share their love for reading. We had such a fun time!


Our book club welcomes all 4th and 5th graders. All spring, we've been talking about books we've been reading and encouraging friends to read the books we've liked. We will hold our Mock Newbery Club again next fall, so we've been paying special attention to the books published in 2015. Here are the titles our students have recommended so far for consideration:
All the Answers, by Kate Messner
Blackbird Fly, by Erin Entrada Kelly
Blue Birds, by Caroline Starr Rose
The Detective's Assistant, by Katherine Hannigan
Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Gone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia
Honey, by Sarah Weeks
Listen, Slowly, by Thanhha Lai
My Secret Guide to Paris, by Lisa Schroeder
Neon Aliens Ate My Homework, by Nick Cannon
Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman
The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Animals, by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce
Tiger Boy, by Mitali Perkins
The War that Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Wish Girl, by Nikki Loftin
It was so much fun hearing kids share about why they'd recommend a book to friends. The books that are getting the most love right now are definitely The Detective's Assistant, Echo, Fish in a Tree, and Gone Crazy in Alabama.

After sharing book recommendations, we took some time to write our own "to be read" lists. These lists help us look forward to the next book we want to read. It's a habit I want to instill in all my students. And so it was great to take a minute to write down our ideas and ask friends for recommendations.
We finished our celebration by taking "shelfies" -- pictures with our favorite books and with the books we want to read. It was a terrific celebration of our love of reading. Many thanks to Melissa Guerrette for her inspiring article on the Nerdy Book Club blog all about shelfies. I'm sure our sheflie celebration with get many many of our students talking about books they want to read.

Many thanks to all of the publishers who support our book club by sending us advanced copies. 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.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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10. Revisiting Palace of Stone

Palace of Stone. (Princess Academy #2) Shannon Hale. 2012. Bloomsbury. 323 pages. [Source: Library]

I definitely enjoyed rereading Shannon Hale's Palace of Stone, the sequel to Princess Academy. It was great to read these two books back to back. Having that continuity certainly helped me appreciate it all the more.

Miri is the heroine of Palace of Stone. Princess Academy concludes with Prince Steffan choosing Miri's friend, Britta, to be his wife. Britta and Steffan had known each other before and had fallen in love with each other. But Britta was not from Mount Eskel. Not until her father pushes her into a big deception: she MUST go live a year on Mount Eskel, she must be an orphan sent to live with oh-so-distant relatives on the mountain. She must attend the academy. No one but Miri and Britta and Steffan know the absolute truth. (Well, obviously her ambitious parents know.)

Palace of Stone opens with Miri and a handful of other Princess Academy graduates preparing to go with traders to the capital city. They have all been invited by Britta, they are her ladies. Miri will have an extra privilege as well. She'll be the first person from Mount Eskel to go to university. (Queen's Castle) She is thrilled and anxious and overwhelmed. She really WANTS to learn, to keep on learning, to absorb as much as she possibly can, so she can return to the village she loves and teach others what she's learned in her year away. She is a most eager and motivated student. She's also a great listener. She tries to stay close to Britta and the others, but, it isn't always easy since she's so busy.

And then there is of course her spying. Katar, the representative of Mount Eskel, her former classmate, has begged for Miri's help. She KNOWS that many are discontent and eager for revolution. But she can't seek these 'traitors' out herself and spy for the royal family. But Miri, well, she can be her eyes and ears. She may quite naturally come across these people at university or in the community. (Miri does have greater access, wider access, than some of the other girls.)

Miri learns all about the cause of 'the shoeless.' What she learns about the royal family, what she learns about the nobility, changes her. How can she LIKE such despicable people who are so cruel, so smug, so unfeeling?! She loves Britta, and, she wants to believe that Steffan isn't just like his father, but, she sees the rightness of the cause...

What will Miri do? What can she do? Will revolution come and change the kingdom forever? Or will Miri find a way to save the day?

Readers definitely meet a lot more characters in Palace of Stone. And the book is a quick, satisfying read. Her love of Peder remains strong throughout despite the fact that she's tempted a few times to entertain the attentions of another young man--a fellow student.

The book is beautifully complex in its characterization. It's easy to recommend both books. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - May 22, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between May 21 and May 27 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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12. Video Sunday: The Lord of the Jello

Morning, folks.  What’s that?  Why, yes. Yes, I would like to watch this video about Nathan Hale’s newest GN The Underground Abductor. Thank you! Seems to me the man has lucked out in terms of timing too. With people rallying to put Ms. Tubman on the $20 bill, it is now vastly important to learn more about her. Plus, you cannot read this book and not become an instantaneous Tubman fan.

So here in NYC we’ve a little something called the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards. Patrons nominate their local branches and the finalists have these cool videos. The first branch I ever worked in was my beloved Jefferson Market. Look at this and tell me it’s not the most gorgeous place you’ve ever seen.

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 8.40.05 PM

Jefferson Market Library from Well Exposed on Vimeo.

My castle.

Now lots of successful children’s authors use their money for good causes.  But really, opening an independent bookstore is just a great idea all around.  Jeff Kinney talks about his newly opened store here.  I love his reasoning behind not making it just a children’s store (though, frankly, that would have been a-okay with me too).

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 5.30.10 PM

For you Betsy Bird completists out there (hi, mom), here’s a chance to see me talk twice about digital stuff. Once around 6:36 and once around 24:20. This livestream video was done in celebration of a Kickstarter Campaign called Time Traveler Tours & Tales which seeks to meld interactive history with honest-to-goodness books. I was asked to speak about story and electronic media and libraries, so I did just that:

Doggone it. The Scholastic preview just went up and the books look fantastic.  And me not going to ALA either.  Oh, Book Expo . . . .

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 8.44.40 PM

And for our off-topic video today, this is sorta kinda on topic. If you want to stretch your definition of “children’s literature”.  Recently there’s been a lot of talk about what the 10 best pre-recorded sketches of Saturday Night Live this season were. My heart lies with The Middle Earth Office.  For fans of the British office, this is just gravy. Pure gravy.

 

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13. Reflecting: What kind of writer am I?

Before you plan to ask your students to reflect on the kinds of writers they are (for their end-of-year self-assessments), be sure you ask yourself "What kind of writer am I?"

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14. Peek-a-Boo Zoo

Board Book: Peek-a-Boo Zoo. Joyce Wan. 2015. Scholastic. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]

With brown fuzzy fur,
I grumble and growl.
I live in the woods
where I like to prowl.
Guess who?
Peek-a-boo!
Bear

Premise/plot: Zoo animals play peek-a-boo with young readers in Joyce Wan's Peek-a-Boo Zoo published by Scholastic.

My thoughts: I really loved, loved, loved Joyce Wan's You Are My Cupcake. I've been interested in Wan's books ever since. What did I like best about Peek-a-Boo Zoo? Well, I really liked the illustrations. The text is simple. It rhymes. Young readers can guess the animal and then lower the flap to see if they're right.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Coloring page days of rage + Caption Contest

coloringpages-sm

Original comic by Lisa Nowlain

OK, so clearly this is a rant. Sometimes rants aren’t productive, but sometimes they’re a funny and loud way to start a conversation (especially when they’re not being yelled into your face). As someone who is passionate about open-ended creativity and art, who has studied and practiced art in a variety of formats as well as been a children’s librarian, I do feel passionately about the subject.

Coloring pages are a great child-calmer, and we have some in the library. I’ve recently whipped up a couple that are a little more open-ended and they go like hotcakes, but I’ve also been experimenting with putting out blank sheets and they get filled up even faster!

All in all, there’s nothing wrong with having fond memories of doing coloring pages as a child, and they can be quite meditative. But if we’re going to be intentional with our storytimes – which is so important and I’m so grateful for the storytime warriors who are outlining this so clearly – I say we need to be equally intentional with our crafts and activities. Art has an incredible potential for plugging into early literacy practices and inspiring kids to be confident and self-actualizing, if we let it.

And if we let kids do it! Letting kids get messy, make mistakes, and learn that their work and process are valid are steps to building happy and healthy adults. A recent Opinion piece in the New York Times shows that over-structured classrooms don’t intervene in educational slides, and “Other research has found that early didactic instruction might actually worsen academic performance.” Instead, children need space to play and discover things on their own – and though the article doesn’t touch on them, I believe coloring pages are an example of overly-didactic art instruction. Another study, for instance, shows that creativity is decreasing in American schoolchildren, and points to the lack of freedom kids are given as the main reason. There is a lot of freedom in a blank page and an encouraging adult, and in the informal learning space a library can provide.

CAPTION CONTEST!

At the suggestion of the wonderful ALSC member and former president Mary Fellows, I’m hosting a caption contest (ala the New Yorker) for my next post! Give your best shot in the comments. Winner to be announced next post (sorry, no prizes, just glorious celebration of your wit).

Come up with a funny caption in the comments!

Come up with a funny caption in the comments!

More resources on process art and alternatives to coloring pages:

Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She is also an artist-type (see more at www.lisanowlain.com).

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16. OLW 2015 Check-In

How is your OLW serving you?

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17. Press Release Fun: The 2015 Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Awards

The Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Awards Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 12th biennial Awards.  The awards will be presented in a ceremony on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, at the White Plains (New York) Public Library. The program is open to the public.

The Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award was established in 1990 by librarians, storytellers and educators in Westchester County, New York, to honor Anne Izard, an extraordinary librarian, storyteller, and Children’s Services Consultant in the Westchester County Library System. The Award seeks to bring the riches of storytelling to greater public awareness by highlighting and promoting distinguished books on storytelling published for children and adults. Folklore, fiction, biography and historical stories must be entirely successful without consideration of graphic elements. Books which enrich a storyteller’s understanding of story, folk traditions, aesthetics, and methods of storytelling are also eligible. Books considered for the Twelfth Award were original material, reprints, or new English translations published in the United States between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014.

Recipients of the 12th Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Awards are:

Beyond the Briar Patch : Affrilachian Folktales, Food and Folklore by Lyn Ford [Parkhurst Brothers 2014]

The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman [Roaring Brook Press 2013]

Every Day a Holiday: A Storyteller’s Memoir by Elizabeth Ellis [Parkhurst Brothers 2014]

The Golden Age of Folk & Fairy Tales: From the Brothers Grimm to Andrew Lang by Jack Zipes [Hackett Publishing 2013]

The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff  [Peachtree Publishers 2014]

The King of Little Things by Bil Lepp [Peachtree Publishers  2013]

Mysterious Traveler by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham [Candlewick Press 2013]

Ol’ Clip Clop: A Ghost Story by Patricia C. McKissack [Holiday House 2013]

Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale by Marina Warner [Oxford University Press 2014]

Story by Story: Creating a Student Storytelling Troupe… by Karen Chace [Parkhurst Brothers 2014]

Teaching with Story by Margaret Read MacDonald, Jennifer MacDonald Whitman and Nathaniel Forest Whitman [August House 2014]

Whiskers, Tails & Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico by Judy Goldman [Charlesbridge 2013]

You Never Heard of Willie Mays?! by Jonah Winter [Schwartz & Wade Books 2013]

For more information, please contact Tata Canuelas, Chair, at tcanuelas@whiteplainsny.gov,  or  Ellen Tannenbaum, Co-Chair, at storyteller29@gmail.com .

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18. Annual 2015: Outdoor Fun Between Conference Sessions

This is a guest post from Susy Moorhead, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for the ALA Annual conference in San Francisco.

In a little over a month Annual will be upon us! The conference is always an amazing event and I am sure this year’s will be another one. Sometimes though you just need a break from the hubbub and somewhere outside is often a perfect fit. These are my suggestions of some places to go right around Moscone when you need to take a walk outdoors or get some fresh air.

The Moscone Center is comprised of 3 halls – North, South, and West. North & South are underground, so you’ll definitely want to head outside periodically.

The main entrances of Moscone are located between 3rd & 4th streets off of Howard Street.  If you have time between programs, for lunch, or even before or after your day at Moscone, here are some places close by to spend some time outside:

  • Yerba Buena Gardens is the closest large park and it is located just west of the main entrances to the North & South halls. It is between 3rd & 4th and Mission & Folsom. Here you can see the beautiful Martin Luther King Jr. memorial which is behind the waterfall. You will want to walk in the memorial from the north side. The waterfall lands in the largest fountain on the West Coast. If you pay close attention to the detail in the stone around the waterfall you will see our often present fog represented – you’ll probably be in the fog too. You can easily get lunch in the Metreon, which you will see to the south, and eat it on the grass.
  • Another park, a little farther from Moscone, where you can sit and eat lunch is South Park. Walk east and north four blocks to get there. It is between 2nd & 3rd street and Bryant & Brannan. This oval park was modeled after a London square in 1852. Initially it was only open to the residents immediately surrounding it. In the late 90s this was “ground zero” of the dot-com boom and after the bubble burst it quickly built up again as the site of web 2.0. It’s a beautiful spot away from the city. If you’ve read Confessions of Max Tivoli you might recognize this as a setting in the novel.
  • If you walk another two blocks east you will get to AT&T Park and there are lots of benches all along the water to sit and look at the Bay. Even though Otis Redding actually wrote "(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay" while in Sausalito, you may feel moved to sing it here as you gaze at the Bay Bridge and the Port of Oakland.  By the way, the Giants will be playing the Rockies during conference.
  • A pleasant longer walk is along the Embarcadero from AT&T Park to the Ferry Building. Either way it is a beautiful loop, a little over 3 miles, which you can do from Moscone.
    • You’ll get to walk under the Bay Bridge and marvel at how huge it really is.
    • Along the Embarcadero you’ll see Cupid’s Span, inspired by San Francisco’s reputation as the home of Eros, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. I always thought it was an ode to Tony Bennett’s signature song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and to me it can be both--and maybe you, too.
    • At various spots along the Embarcadero you’ll find white posts topped with yellow and black stripes that tell some of San Francisco’s waterfront history.
    • Be sure to go inside the Ferry Building. There are delicious and iconic food stands and restaurants from the Bay Area inside (just to name a few: The Slanted Door, Hog Island Oyster Company, and Cowgirl Creamery).

If you want to see more of San Francisco’s great outdoors there is going to be a bike ride around the City at 2pm on Friday. Here is a link to the Facebook invite – the ride is open to everyone. The ride will include the Mission Bay Branch Library, AT&T Park, the Embarcadero, Market Street, the Main Library, Valencia Street, Mission Branch Library, and the beautiful Mission Murals. There is a Bay Area BikeShare station close to Moscone at 3rd & Howard. It’s very easy to rent one for either 24 hours ($9) or 3 days ($22) – you just need a credit card. And if the entire ride isn’t for you, you can return your bike at other stations in the City (right now they are only downtown).

And last, if you want a drink to go with your fresh air there are a couple places close by to get one. Dirty Habit is 5 floors up from the street in the Hotel Palomar on 4th St. between Mission & Market.  They open at 5pm every day except Sunday. A beautiful place to go, especially after dark, for drinks and a meal is Claude Lane. It is located on the other side of Market St. parallel and west of Kearny St. (what 3rd St. becomes on the other side of Market). There are French and Spanish cafes and restaurants with beautiful patios and twinkly lights. You’ll think you’re in Europe! Really close by, but technically not outside, is the View Lounge on top of the Marriott Hotel on the corner of 4th & Mission St. Needless to say the view is amazing; check it out even if you don’t stay for a libation.

Have fun and don’t forget your layers! San Francisco can be really cold in the summer and you’ll hear this over and over again as a lot of visitors don’t initially believe it. You’ve been warned.

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19. Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear



"Julia, Child" is subtly deceptive. Though it has Julia Child's name in the title, it isn't a picture book biography of Julia as a child. The preface states that the book was inspired by, but not about Julia's childhood. However, the main character does love to cook. Julia and her friend Simca shop, take classes and whip up meals. They begin to notice that adults are too busy to savor food and life. So they decide to make some meals for them. The first foray turns out badly, since most adults "don't have the proper ingredients" and start fighting over the food. Julia and Simca's next effort fixes that: they make "smaller portions....just enough to feed the sensible children from whom these senseless grown-ups grew." This dinner party does the trick; the adults have a wonderful time and are more generous. In a nod to the other Julia, the girls write a book, "Mastering the Art of Childhood" for grownups. Overall, the book has sweet vintage illustrations and the message is a positive one, though more understandable for older kids.

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20. Now That You're Here Book Review

Title: Now That You're Here Author: Amy K. Nichols Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers Publication Date: December 9, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0385753890 304 pp. ARC provided by publisher Here's another book in the current parallel universes mini-trend, Now That You're Here by Amy K. Nichols. There's dual narration by Danny, a street artist in Phoenix who lands in his doppleganger's body

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21. Poet to Poet: Holly Thompson interviews Margarita Engle

I'm pleased to post another installment in my ongoing "Poet to Poet" series in which one poet interviews another poet about her/his new book. This time it's Holly Thompson and Margarita Engle who have very generously volunteered to participate. Both of these women write verse novels (and other works) that explore the intersection of the cultural and the personal. 

Holly Thompson is a poet and author who originally hails from Massachusetts, but lived in Japan for 20 years and writes about this cross-cultural, inter-cultural experience in sensitive and thoughtful novels in verse like Orchards, The Language Inside, and the forthcoming Falling into the Dragon's Mouth

Margarita Engle is the award-winning author of many novels and biographical works in verse such as The Poet Slave of Cuba, The Surrender Tree, Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba, The Firefly Letters; A Suffragette's Journey to CubaHurricane Dancers; The First Caribbean Pirate ShipwreckThe Wild BookMountain Dog, The Lightning Dreamer, and Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal. Her new book is Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir-- perhaps her most personal book yet! 

Here, Holly asks Margarita about writing, memoir, childhood and culture in a series of very compelling and thoughtful questions and responses. Enjoy!

Holly: Enchanted Air! This memoir covers your early years to your teens and encompasses some huge political intrusions on your young life as well as influences of artistic parents from different cultures. The book is large in scope yet focused on little moments. How did you balance the specific with the global as you set about writing this memoir? How did you keep from getting bogged down by background information about the major historical and political events and circumstances?

Margarita: Thank you so much for your interest in these details of the writing process, Holly.  I didn’t consciously set out to aim for balance.  This profoundly personal verse memoir was not planned in any structured way, but was simply scribbled from a time-ripened blend of raw emotions and natural instincts. I closed my eyes and remembered the aspects of my childhood that were important to me. Then I wrote about them.  Instead of trying to work facts and figures into the poems, I moved most of the political and historical surrealism of U.S.-Cuba relations to a timeline at the end of the book. The actual events of the Cold War are so hard to believe that I wanted to write them myself, before they are romanticized by writers of the future.

Holly: The Cuba of your childhood is vividly portrayed. Here is an excerpt that I love:

Tropical Windows

In this centuries-old house,
each floor-to-ceiling window
is truly an opening—no glass,
just twisted wrought iron bars
that let the sea breeze flow in
like a friendly spirit.

At night fireflies blink inside rooms,
and big, pale green luna moths float
like graceful wisps of moonlight.

In the morning, all those night creatures
vanish, replaced by cousins and neighbors
who peer in through the barred windows
to greet me and chat.

Holly: Throughout the poems, whether located in Cuba, the U.S. or Europe, the natural world is a touchstone, the discovery of flora and fauna in the wild a source of constant comfort for your young self. Family is also a thread in many of the poems. Can you discuss these two elements which are so central and often intricately woven together?

Margarita: I’m the daughter of artists, but ever since I was very little, I’ve been part poet, and part scientist. Tropical nature and the extended family were my two big personal discoveries during those childhood summers in Cuba, the two aspects of life that constantly astonished me. It would be fair to say that I fell in love with both the nature and culture of Cuba “at first sight,” just as my parents fell in love with each other at first sight. Childhood summers in Cuba determined my future. I studied botany, and became an agronomist.  I remembered family, and became a poet.

Holly: With a mother from Cuba, your childhood was deeply affected by the cold war and the extreme chill in U.S.-Cuba relations. The loss of your other home in Cuba is palpable in Enchanted Air. How might you speak to your young self about the recent, at last, warming/softening of relations between the two countries?

Margarita: The advanced review copy of Enchanted Air landed on my doorstep just as President Obama was making his December 17, 2014 announcement about a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations. For me, it felt like a prayer answered. I cried with joy. In the last paragraph of the historical note at the end of the manuscript, I had written:  “My hope is that by the time Enchanted Air goes to press, normal travel and trade might begin to be restored.” Amazingly, that is exactly what happened! I know God must have plenty of other written prayers to read, but in this case it felt like He might have glanced down at my scribbling, smiled, and said, “Oh, yeah, it’s about time those two stubborn countries stopped holding a grudge.” Of course, now I have to revise the historical note, something I’m doing with incredible gratitude. I just returned from a family visit to Cuba.  Diplomatic relations, travel, and trade aren’t completely normal yet. Most aspects have not yet actually changed, but just knowing that the process has started inspires hope. For the first time, during all my many return visits to Cuba since 1991, I was able to relax and go birdwatching, instead of just worrying about how to understand history, and how to help relatives.

Holly: As a teen, you traveled one summer with your family in Europe and spent a month in Spain. There, you seemed to discover that home can be in more than just two places, the U.S. and Cuba, and you seemed to gain an appreciation for your two languages. Can you speak about the comfort that travel brought you? How did your early experiences traveling between Cuba and the U.S. impact that later discovery of solace in new places?

Margarita: We visited several European countries that summer, but I only felt “at home” in Spain, partly because of the familiar language, and partly because we stayed in one town long enough to get to know people. During subsequent years I started traveling earnestly, first hitchhiking all over the U.S. during my late teens, and then, beginning in my early twenties, traveling all over Latin America on buses, trains, donkeys, and dugout canoes. It took decades for me to realize that wherever I went, a part of me was always searching for Cuba. Returning to the island in 1991 began a long, slow process of becoming whole again.  I am finally myself now, half American and half Cuban, just as I was during childhood.  Traveling helped me heal.

Sylvia: As a fellow traveler, I love that idea: of healing through travel. Thank you, Holly and Margarita for sharing so generously and for all your works that consider the intersection of the cultural, the personal, and the political. I am a big fan of you BOTH! And I think Enchanted Air is an amazing book, a beautiful blend of personal memories and a slice of history, as well as a coming-of-age story. I'm lucky enough to be able to dig deeply into this book to create a reader's guide for Enchanted Air-- more info on that later. 

Meanwhile, head on over to Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme where Matt Forrest is hosting Poetry Friday and has some good news of his own to share.


Image credits: YAReview.net; MargaritaEngle.com; Commons.Wikimedia.org; authorsforphilippines.wordpress.com; NoWaterRiver.com; blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu

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22. Week in Review: May 17-23

War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation. Cindy Hval. 2015. Casemate. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales. Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth. Translated by Maria Tatar. 2015. Penguin. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Wild Boy. Rob Lloyd-Jones. 2013. Candlewick Press. 295 pages. [Source: Review copy]
My Side of the Mountain. Jean Craighead George. 1959. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
Snow Treasure. Marie McSwigan. Illustrated by Mary Reardon. 1942. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
Shadow Scale. Rachel Hartman. 2015. Random House. 608 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Board Book: Peek-a-Boo Zoo. Joyce Wan. 2015. Scholastic. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Sleep Book. Dr. Seuss. 1962. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
The Sky is Falling. Mark Teague. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christy. Catherine Marshall. 1967. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]
God, Adam, and You: Biblical Creation Defended and Applied. Richard D. Phillips, editor. 2015. P&R. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Timothy Keller. 2014. Penguin. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

This week's recommendation(s):

I loved, loved, loved Snow Treasure. I loved War Bonds. I loved Christy. (I loved, loved, loved Dr. MacNeil.)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. My Side of the Mountain (1959)

My Side of the Mountain. Jean Craighead George. 1959. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

I found My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George to be strangely compelling. That is, I wasn't exactly expecting it to so compelling. I don't typically like adventure-survival-living-off-the-land books or becoming-one-with-nature books. It's also written in the first-person something that either really works (for me) or really doesn't.

Sam Gribley is the hero of My Side of the Mountain. He has run away from his oh-so-crowded home. He has traveled to the Catskill Mountain wilderness. He's heard his father talk about one of his ancestors having a homestead there, a long-abandoned homestead now. He's determined to find "his" land, and live on it, alone in the wilderness. He's read up on the subject. He's confident and determined, more determined than confident, perhaps. It isn't always easy for Sam. Though sometimes things do happen to go his way. The book spans about a year. In that year, plenty happens though not all of it will prove exciting to every reader. I was surprised by how many people he met and how many friends he made.

I think what I found most compelling about this one was the narrative voice. I don't think I was swept up into the adventure so much as I found myself liking Sam.

Have you read My Side of the Mountain? I'd love to hear what you thought of it!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in May

New Loot:
  • One Crow Alone S.D. Crockett
  • After the Snow by S.D. Crockett
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas
  • Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright
  • To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Biography by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Leftover Loot:
  • Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
  • I Wish That I Had Duck Feet by Dr. Seuss
  • Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
  • I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss
  • Miles from Nowhere by Amy Clipston
  • Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt
  •  Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
  • Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler
  • The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville
  • Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia 
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
  • The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
  • Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, translated by Richard Pevear
  • Murder at Mullings by Dorothy Cannell
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
  • The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
  • Cursed in the Act by Raymond Buckland
  • Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
  • The Search for the Red Dragon by James A. Owen
  • Indigo King by James A. Owen
  • The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  •  Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book
  • The Far Side of Evil by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
  • The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • One Summer by David Baldacci
  •  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    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 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Wild Boy (2013)

Wild Boy. Rob Lloyd-Jones. 2013. Candlewick Press. 295 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Prologue
Southwark, London, May 1838
That night, the night the showman came, the moon was the color of mud.

Do you love historical mysteries? compelling historical mysteries set in Victorian London?! Wild Boy is definitely one I'd recommend.

This murder-mystery stars two unlikely friends: the Wild Boy, a sideshow "freak," and Clarissa, a young acrobat and the daughter of the circus ringmaster. These two enemies--Wild Boy doesn't really have many friends--are pushed together under some strange circumstances. Wild Boy agrees, for better or worse, to help Clarissa find a rich person to pickpocket. What they pocket isn't money, but, a mysterious note warning someone--but WHO--that his (or her) life is in great danger. Wild Boy, who knows it is oh-so-risky to leave his sideshow "home," decides to brave it. He'll go in search of the would-be recipient. Surely he can figure out who the note was meant for before it's too late...

He does manage to find out WHO, and just in time to witness the crime--the murder. But the murderer was wearing a mask, and, I believe a cape as well. There are a handful of clues for him to work with, however. If he gets the chance. For Wild Boy, within minutes of the crime, becomes the prime suspect. He's an animal, after all, right?!

For Wild Boy to live long enough to solve the mystery, he'll need a little help from others...

I really LOVED Wild Boy. I loved Wild Boy himself. I loved the narrative. He had me hooked from the start. I also loved Clarissa. I thought the way these two were brought together was great. The atmosphere of this one--the setting, the description, the detail--it all worked quite well.

 Have you read Wild Boy? What did you think of it?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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