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By: Becky Laney
Blog: Becky's Book Reviews
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Oliver and the Seawigs. Philip Reeve. Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
I didn't not like it. I could easily say I liked it well enough. But you know how there are certain books that you read and get excited about and just can't wait to talk about? This wasn't that kind of book for me. While there was not one thing about the book that I didn't like, I just didn't find myself loving it. I don't know why readers feel, in some ways, obligated to love everything they read.
I liked the opening paragraphs. "Oliver Crisp was only ten years old, but they had been a busy and exciting ten years, because Oliver's mother and father were explorers. They had met on top of Mount Everest. They had been married at the Lost Temple of Amon Hotep, and had spent their honeymoon searching for the elephants' graveyard. And when young Oliver was born, they simply bought themselves a back carrier and an off-road baby carriage and went right on exploring." See. It starts off cute and promising. And it doesn't disappoint. You know from the start what kind of book this will be. And you get just that.
I liked the characters. I liked Oliver Crisp. I liked the wandering albatross, Mr. Culpeper. I liked the near-sighted mermaid, Iris. I liked the island, Cliff. I liked how they met and became friends. You can certainly see this is a unique story.
I liked the pacing. It is a nice, imaginative adventure story starring unique characters.
I like the illustrations. I like the layout. Many kids, like Lewis Carroll's fictional Alice, do look for stories with plenty of pictures! It's a sign of it not being horribly dull. If you share Alice's opinion on books that is.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Over the last few years many ALA divisions, including ALSC, have transitioned to having more committees, tasks forces and other groups operate primarily if not wholly via virtual methods. While ALSC continues to acknowledge the need for several committees to conduct much of their work face to face, several committees have successfully transitioned to entirely virtual, and all committees are encouraged to make use of ALA Connect and other tools to conduct some of their work.
The change toward more virtual work provides numerous benefits to individual members as well the organization and profession as a whole.
• Recruiting a wider pool of members and talent – Many current and potential members do not have the luxury of travelling to conferences regularly. This may be due to cost, family commitments, health restrictions, job restrictions or other possible reasons. Previously some members did not seek appointment or turned down opportunities due to conference attendance requirements. The opportunity to participate regardless of these obstacles provides many members a greater sense of involvement and allows more of ALSC’s many talented members to participate and contribute.
• Recruitment and retention of members – The ability to contribute also encourages more members of the profession to initiate or continue membership.
• Increased productivity – Committees designated as virtual conduct few if any meetings face-to-face but tend to meet frequently – at least once per month. The ability to meet virtually, usually via ALA Connect’s chat feature, enables committees to have brief meetings often as opposed to waiting until conference to meet. Many face-to-face committees take advantage of the ability to meet virtually between conferences as well. The frequent meetings keep projects moving forward and allow committees to accomplish more.
• Better attendance at conference sessions – Members of virtual committees who are able to attend conference will have greater flexibility to attend and present sessions rather than being tied to committee meetings. It also enables members greater flexibility to serve on multiple committees either within ALSC or across divisions by freeing up conference meeting time.
Many virtual chairs and members of committees have had positive experiences serving on virtual committees:
“As co-chair of the Great Websites for Kids Committee (2012-2014), my mission is to work with a committee of nine members in maintaining the ALSC Great Websites site. Working virtually, committee members are able to accomplish a rigorous amount of work while keeping strict deadlines. At the same time we have established an online rapport and have had the luxury of occasionally meeting each other in person at midwinter or annual conferences. Committee members have often remarked how they feel that this committee is particularly unique in that we have been able to accomplish so much each year.” Kimberly Grad, Brooklyn (NY) Public Library
Virtual committees have some unique challenges. One of the biggest concerns virtual committee members mention is the challenge of achieving the rapport and personal connection with each other that people develop during face-to-face interaction. The META team is always seeking advice and tips for virtual committees and maintains a Best Practices resource on the ALSC wiki. If you have a suggestion or success story about developing the connections between virtual teams to share, please send to Jill Bickford at email@example.com.
– JIll Bickford for the Metamorphosis Team Task Force
The advantage of having a bookstore in the library is when it has a tendency towards brilliance. Take this recent list the employees of the Schwarzman Building of NYPL came up with. I can take no credit for this. It’s just smart stuff (and very useful for my ordering as well). With mild tweaks on my part:
READ the book: Alexander and the No Good Horrible Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, opening in October
READ the book: Here Be Monsters! by Adam Snow
BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, called The Boxtrolls, opening in September
READ the book: A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, called Paddington, opening in December)
READ the book: The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, called Home, opening in November
Plus, read How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell before the DVD of How to Train Your Dragon 2 hits the shelves in November.
READ the book: Dracula by Bram Stoker
BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, called Dracula Untold, opening in October
READ the book: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, called The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, opening in December
READ the book: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, opening in September
READ the book: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, opening in November
Plus, pick up John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, then make plans to catch the DVD when it’s released in mid-September
Each year after the Midwinter conference, YALSA releases a list of 25-30 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults. The list is the result of hundreds of hours of listening, discussion and debate by the nine-member Amazing Audiobooks committee. The committee also names the top 10 best titles of the year. Committee members generally serve two year terms. We are librarians, professors, and retirees. We work for public libraries, universities, schools, and community colleges. In addition to the nine committee members, we have one extraordinarily hard-working administrative assistant who does not cast votes, but does receive titles and can listen as much as she chooses.
In February, the committee begins gathering possible titles for the next year’s list. We get audiobooks in a number of different ways. First, we make suggestions. Any audiobook published in the last two years with relevance for teens is eligible for the list, so we seek out recent titles. We love to get suggestions from other librarians! If you’d like to nominate a title for Amazing Audiobooks, the form is here. We also receive boxes (and boxes and boxes) of submissions directly from publishers.
Each title, regardless of how it comes to the committee, is first assigned to a single committee member. That member listens to the book and casts a vote: yes, no, or maybe. A no vote means that the title is dropped from consideration. If the first listener votes ‘maybe,’ the book is assigned to a second listener. The two listeners then discuss the title, and either of them can cast a nominating ‘yes’ vote. A yes vote is considered an official nomination. Titles that receive an initial ‘yes’ are then assigned to 5 more members. Every nominated title is listened to by at least six members of the committee.
When the committee meets, first at Annual and then at Midwinter, we discuss all of the nominated titles and narrow our nominations down to the 25 to 30 that make up the final list.
Our evaluation criteria
Unlike some of the other selection committees, Amazing Audiobooks is not concerned with the literary quality of the titles on our list. In fact, aside from the consideration of teen appeal, we don’t care about story, plot, or character at all. Instead, we focus on the quality of the audiobook production. Production quality includes technical aspects of the recording but also factors like the success of the translation to audio from print, the match (or mismatch) of the performer and the text, and the use of voices, music, and sound effects.
When and where do you listen?
Each committee member listens a little differently. Many of us listen while commuting to work. Others listen on their computers at home. Because we listen so much (on average about 2 hours a day!), we tend to do other things at the same time. Sarah says, “I listen while cooking, cleaning, or gardening; I listen on the way to work, and then I listen at work before the branch is open.” Other committee members play computer games, work out, walk the dog, or even grocery shop while listening.
What tools do you use?
Some of our tools are listening tools, including different devices, headphones, and speakers.We often listen on our home computers, since it’s easier to take notes at home. Many of our members also listen while commuting, using the stereo or a portable device like an iPhone or MP3 player, paired with Bluetooth speakers. Most members use regular headphones or earbuds, but some of us have branched out and are using noise-isolating or noise-cancelling headphones.
In addition to listening tools, we use tools to record our notes. Most of our members use a checklist in order to keep track of evaluation criteria. We keep detailed notes as we listen. As Emily notes, “I try to be as specific as possible, writing down disc and track numbers for particularly great narration or production errors, mispronunciations or missed text cues.” Sometimes, when we’re listening while out and about, we use electronic note-taking methods. Kim uses Siri and Note on her iPhone, whereas Emily prefers to use Google Keep, which she can access on multiple devices. Sarah uses the voice recorder on her phone and transfers the notes to her computer when she gets home.
What do you listen for?
Evaluating audiobooks is complicated process. In order to stay focused, many of us have developed lists of what we listen for. Emily notes that she focuses first on evaluating the listening experience as a whole. She asks questions like, “Is the narrator a good fit for the text? Does she sound too young or too old? Does his interpretation of the characters match the author’s characterization? Does the narration highlight humor that might fall flat on the page?”
It is also important for us to evaluate production quality. In Emily’s words, “I listen for audible breaths, distractingly long pauses, abrupt changes in volume, and hisses or pops that indicate poor recording quality.” Linda adds that she looks out for changes in volume or sound quality, and sticky mouth sounds as well as missed text cues. As Linda comments, “If the character says something ‘in a weepy voice,’ I need to hear weeping in the narrator’s voice.” Some of these errors are more difficult to spot than others. Sarah notes, “Wet mouth sounds and the elusive p-pop are challenging, and I have to constantly remind myself to keep an eye out for them.” Production errors don’t necessarily knock a book out of the running, but we do want to make sure that flaws don’t prevent the reader from becoming truly immersed in the story.
Serving on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks committee is a real commitment, but it is also an incredibly rewarding experience. It is a privilege to work on behalf of teens and introduce them to some spectacular titles. If you have any questions about our committee, please don’t hesitate to contact our Committee Chair, Colleen Seisser.
Platform: iOS (with Android coming soon)
Have you ever wished that you kept a journal, but not been able to find the time? Want to track everything you do without announcing it to everyone you know? If so, Heyday is the app for you. This journaling app automates the process of tracking what you do each day while keeping all of the information private.
To get started with the app, you are asked to give it access to both the media library and the location data on your device. Heyday automatically compiles this information to create an entry for each day that data is collected on your device. Photos (and videos) that are pulled into the app are automatically made into a collage.
Though the app will work without any input, you can also customize each day’s entry by adding notes, rearranging the images, or adding additional location information. If you want, you can also change which images are included in the journal and how they are arranged in the day’s collage. Fans of Instagram and similar photo apps will be happy to know that you can also add separate filters to each of the images, which allows you to display your photos to their best effect. If you are particularly happy with one day’s collage, you can also share it to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or send it via email or text message from within the app. Alternatively, you can also save collages to your device’s media library, making it easy to use them in other apps or simply view them outside of the app.
Heyday truly makes daily journal entries as easy as possible. As an added feature, the app offers the option to create an account, which allows Heyday to automatically sync your journal with the cloud periodically so that you have a backup if anything happens to your device. However, even if you would prefer not to create an account or share your content outside of your device, you can use all of the features. Heyday is a great option for those who want to journal in theory but never manage to in practice.
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.
Please write your Slice of Life Story, share your link, and give at least 3 comments to other Slicers.
Interactive Writing? Yeah, I wasn’t a believer. I will admit this openly; I had kind of fought against it and did not see it working in my classroom until many years ago. What… Continue reading
A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life. James Bowen. 2013. St. Martin's Press. 279 pages. [Source: Library]
A Street Cat Named Bob is a simple story in many ways. It's the story of one man and his cat: how they found each other, how they changed each other's lives, how they got to be so close, so fast. At the time the book opens, James Bowen was a street musician--a busker--and a recovering drug addict. He had taken steps to get off the street--at one time he was homeless and addicted to drugs--but the road ahead was still long and uncertain. He sees a stray cat, "a ginger tom," near his building, he sees that it could use a little help. He's injured. He's hungry. He decides to take the cat in and nurse him back to health. He didn't know it at the time, but, Bob wouldn't be going anywhere. Bob had found his home.
If Bob had been an ordinary cat, readers would never have heard of him or James Bowen. Bob would not have become a YouTube star. But ordinary doesn't exactly describe Bob.
Bob wasn't content to stay at home and let James go off busking. He wanted to go along. He wanted in on the action. James found that with a cat, he was irresistible, or rather Bob was irresistible. Wherever he and Bob went, Bob got ATTENTION and ADORATION. Busking became a LOT easier for him when Bob was there sitting on his guitar case and looking cute and adorable. People wanted to take Bob's picture. People wanted to take video. People wanted to pet him. People wanted to give him treats. People wanted to KNIT him clothes. But busking was still rough and unpredictable as the book shows. Eventually, James and Bob gave it up and pursued one of the few things possible. He was still on the streets, still out with Bob, but, now he was selling a magazine, Big Issue, instead of a song.
The book, as I mentioned, is in a way simple, a story of man meets cat. Happy cat. Happy man. But it's also got a bit of a message. And by message, I don't mean the preachy kind. It's the story of a man who went from invisible to visible. He talks about how having the cat gave him back his humanity, his dignity. The book, in a way, is about how we see others. Do we see the homeless, the poor? Do we see them or brush them aside?
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
By: Miss O,
by Sally Sutton
and illustrated by Brain Lovelock. This is the third book by these creators following Demolition
and Road Work.
There are millions of books about building and children seem to love them all. Children love seeing a tall crane at work or a hole being dug in the street. Everytime I read a construction book I think of this catchy tune When I Build My House
. This book is not just about building a house. There is a very special place built at the end(I will let it be a surpise). This author uses lots of action words like Thonk, Clonk and Clap that kids will love acting out. Plus a full follow-up page at the end on machine facts. Children who are building fans will enjoy this title and they will love the place that is build at the end of the story.
Goal setting in a school library run by a single librarian can at times seem pointless. Some days my to-do list gets longer rather than shorter. Goals languish on the back burner while the fire in the middle of the library is tended to daily. It is tempting to just let the months unfold reacting to the greatest need. Being the only person responsible for multiple requests from teens, faculty and administration can mean our days are fractured and attempts to attend to long-range goals are frustrating and futile. In order to avoid this frustration I have developed the KIND method of goal setting and follow though. In short, this KIND acronym represents the following attributes, adapted to goal setting and getting things done; kindness, importance, noticeable and developing. (Photo by Enver Rahmanov (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
RULE ONE. Kindness. The first rule of goal setting for the solo librarian is to be kind. Be kind to yourself if you get off track from your goals. I put my new year’s goal on a list every year. When I make the annual list I look at past year’s list. There is one goal that is on the list year after year. Instead of beating myself up over the fact that it hasn’t been accomplished I put it on this year’s list and celebrate that I am determined and persistent in pursuing this important goal. By the way, the goal that keeps coming up on my list it is to establish a teen advisory group.
I put it on the list this year, again, because not only do I know it is important I know that one day I will get that TAG established. And without shame, I will say it is likely to be this year!
RULE TWO. Importance. Pick the goals that are important to you personally. Validate yourself as a professional. You care about your library and the students you serve. Don’t pick goals that you do not believe in fully. There are too many distractions in the year and if you do not pick goals that resonate with meaning for you you aren’t going to carve out the time to work on them. Goals that important to you and are also what teens want are goals that will keep you motivated throughout the year. An easy way to get input from students is to encourage them write a sentence or two on an index card describing their ideal library. Make a list of all the things you would like to accomplish in your library.
Include everything you thing would be happening in an ideal library.
Circle the top ten things you would like to work on.
Rank the top ten in order you would like to work on them.
When ranking consider how likely you might be able to work on this goal, or achieve the desired outcome. Put at least one goal that you know you can/will accomplish this year.
RULE THREE. Noticeable. Make sure the goals you choose to work on are noticed. For yourself, post your top goals where you can see them daily. For others, choose goals to work on that your teens and your administrators can see and relate to the value of the library you manage. You want to stay visible and let people see the value that the library, and you as the librarian add to the achievement of students.
RULE FOUR. Developing. Some of the goals you choose you just won’t get to, will fail, or will not work out the way you had planned. Make sure at least one of you goals is something that you can and will accomplish. Perhaps it is a program that you have already piloted successfully and your goal is to expand it. Nothing breeds success like success and it is important to see that you are setting and reaching goals. Be flexible when it comes to developing your goals over the year. I’m going to create a makerspace this year with the 3D printer as the focal point. As I develop this goal I see how it may be very possible that the students that I am working with in support of this goal may end up being the same students that head up the teen advisory group. I am planning to develop this goal from the ground up and I see that the need to be flexible when I empower others will be key to the success of these goals. I can embrace these goals as developing.
KIND goals. Those are my kind of goals. Flexible, accessible, accepting and empowering of our school’s teens. It is the same kind of library I like to foster. The only way to create a kind school library where young people feel accepted and appreciated is to start with the way we treat ourselves. If we are realistic about the competing demands for our time as a solo librarian we can begin to set realistic goals that we can and will achieve. Good luck as you plan your successes this academic year.
It’s almost that time again. Time for all of us school librarians and teachers to pack away the short-shorts, scrape off the beach sand, and start going to bed at a reasonable hour once more. Time for lesson plans, and inventory orders, and new September signage. It’s time for school, ladies and gentlemen, and the start of the next year of academic awesomeness.
Are you ready? Is your bag packed and stocked with notebooks, clean writing pens, and fresh, sharp crayons wrapped in perfect paper? New cardigans folded and washed? Back to school as a grown up can be a huge undertaking; supplies can get expensive, and the gear shift from summer to school can leave you feeling dizzy and suddenly stressed out.
If I had but two mottos in life to cling to, they would be:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Paying retail is for suckers.
So here are a few back to school necessities that won’t break your budget (or your brain), while still being fabulous.
Discounts Are Your Friend
They really, really are. And many stores offer teacher discounts to educators all year long (click for a handy dandy list.) Your ID can earn you a discount on everything from clothing to supplies to technology to magazines. My favorites include the Container Store (they also give a mean birthday discount) and Aerosoles. Awesome supplies AND comfortable shoes! What’s better than that?
Think Outside Your Box Store
Some of the best bulletin board and art supplies I’ve gotten have been snagged at the dollar store, and most of them aren’t paper. Anything from a shower curtain to a shoe tree can be made useful and awesome with a little imagination and some time.
No dollar stores near you? Try a closeout store like Lot Less or Big Lots for everything from a new backpack to cheap iPad/micro-USB chargers to folders. Even the clearance section of a TJ Maxx has some cool stuff to use/repurpose, if you don’t mind poking through.
Refresh Your Curriculum
Maybe you’re looking for a new way to teach a lesson, or use your iPad, or work with a smartboard. There are hundreds of online resources for educators seeking new ideas. Looking for an app to shine with? YALSA blog has you covered. Need a bit of inspiration for your bulletin board space? Pinterest makes it possible. Walk to talk to other educators from other schools to hear about best practices, classroom methods, research needs, or the best brand of binders to use? Reddit to the rescue.
Do Your Homework
Remember that anime series your kids were raving about all of last year? Or that game they couldn’t stop playing? Or that tv show they all watched? Yeah. Give it a try. Sit down and watch a few episodes of Attack on Titan, or play Minecraft for an afternoon. Your advisory or reading group will love that you gave it a shot, and even if you have no interest in continuing, just trying will count for a lot.
Establish a Goal
Your students and their parents are coming in this year with goals and hopes of their own, whether it’s to do better in math or to find someone to sit with at lunch. Make a goal of your own. Maybe it’s professional (“I want to improve my understanding of ___ in order to_____ so that I can _____ my library/teaching.”) Maybe it’s social (“I’m going to go out with people after work, and talk to that teacher in the foreign language department.”) Maybe it’s personal (“I’m not going to get crazy over _____.”) Pick something that you want out of this year, and try and remind yourself of it as you go.
“Idina” That Noise: Let It Go
Last year is last year. Whatever drama, angst, worries, nerves, tension, anger, frustration, or ennui that you felt as last year wound down, leave them there. This is a new year and a new day, and you can start as fresh as you want to. And just like fresh, clean sheets are always the best, be it bedding or loose-leaf, so is a new school year. Like my students tell me: “Just Idina that stuff. Let It Gooooooooooo!”
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light
Adulthood is childhood with no curfew. Until the school year starts up, and then you absolutely have a curfew if you don’t want to fall asleep at your desk. The summer exists for you to refresh yourself, rejuvenate your mind and body, and go back with a positive attitude and satisfyingly sunkissed. Plan something over your last few days of freedom and enjoy yourself while doing it. This is your summer, too, and you’ll be much happier come the slush and cold of February if you squeeze the last bit of August out of the tube now.
Veteran school librarians and newbies, alike: what are some of your favorite/absolute-musts for starting back with your right foot forward after a summer break?
Whether you’re a personal blogger, a designer, or an artist, Isola gives you a bright, clean space to showcase your work. Its minimalist design stays crisp across devices and screens of all sizes, with generous white space to keep the focus on your content.
Isola, a free theme, comes with numerous customization options, from featured images and custom header images to sleek post formats. Let’s take a look at three sites that are already using it to great effect.
Leon Scott, who writes thoughtful posts on design and technology on his aptly-named blog, makes the most of Isola‘s out-of-the-box look. He kept the layout simple and clean; all the widgets are tucked into a panel off screen.
Many of Leon’s posts — like the one shown above — include featured images, which establish their tone and also add a welcome burst of color.
The environmentally-conscious blogger who writes at Beyond the Black Mountain focuses on the intersection between fashion and eco-friendly living. Her site’s vibe echoes her approach elsewhere, with a stylish, spare look. A moody custom header image coupled with a retro serif font (Ambroise, which is available with the Custom Design upgrade) personalize Isola even further.
The blogger behind a dimpleate, based in Northern Virginia, has created a photo-heavy lifestyle blog that still maintains an airy, clean feel. She uses Isola‘s image and gallery post formats to highlight the beautiful images, linking them to her Flickr galleries for visitors who wish to explore more of her work.
Have you also customized Isola? Is there another theme you’d like to see featured here? Let us know in the comments.
Filed under: Customization
The Princess of Celle. Jean Plaidy. 1967/1985. Ballantine. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Princess of Celle felt longer than it actually was. Perhaps because the chapters were so long. Perhaps because the book was complicated. If it helps, it was necessarily complicated. It is the story of a dysfunctional German family, one of whom would come to the throne of England as George I.
I was a bit disappointed that George Lewis does not become George I until the epilogue of this one! I suppose I had the silly idea that this book would focus on the obviously unhappy marriage between George Lewis (George I) and Sophia Dorothea (the so-called Princess of Celle). And, in a way, it is. But George Lewis is one of the most unimportant characters in the whole book. Seriously. Readers get to know--for better or worse--his mother, his father, his uncle, his aunt, some of his brothers. But for George himself? Well, he gets a tiny fraction of the author's attention.
If I had to describe The Princess of Celle, I would say it was a tug of war between multiple generations of mistresses in a super dysfunctional German family. I would say that almost all the men in the novel are vile, power-hungry, lusty creatures with big egos. I would say that the mistresses in the novel are vile, power-hungry, lusty creatures with big egos. The wives, well, have to make the best of it. They may hate their husbands. They may hate the mistresses their husbands keep. They may be humiliated in public by those mistresses. But they can take comfort that their children are legitimate.
For better or worse, the "main" story of The Princess of Celle begins in the middle of the novel. It is at the halfway point that readers see Sophia Dorothea marry her cousin George Lewis. She had wanted to marry someone else, another cousin. He had not cared who he married. He was content to marry whomever pleased his mother...and his father. He very much cared about picking his own mistresses. But a wife?! Not worth his bother. It's not like he'll be enjoying her company!
Is Sophia Dorothea the main character? I'm not sure that she is if I'm honest. She's not the strongest character. The most obnoxious or ambitious or strong-willed. George Lewis's mother is SOMETHING. As is his father's mistress, Clara von Platen. I would say that Clara gets more time and attention from the novel than any other character in this one. What does Clara want? What will Clara do to get what she wants? Who will Clara hurt to get her way? How many lives can she destroy? How much power can she grab? How can she keep the power? Clara is a disgusting character, truly revolting.
Did I like Sophia Dorothea? Well. She may not be as horrid as Clara. Who could be?! But she could not keep my sympathy. Yes, to a certain point I could see why she was so miserable and so trapped. She could not escape her in-laws and her husband. Not that her husband stayed remotely close to her. He was off doing whatever, whenever, whoever. But court-life was miserable for her because of the dominant women: her mother-in-law and her father-in-law's mistress. There were people at court, namely Clara that hated her and were actively plotting against her, plotting to ruin her life thoroughly. It was almost Clara's one ambition in life to destroy Sophia Dorothea, or perhaps the right word is obsession.
A sick love triangle. What every book needs is a love triangle, right?! Sophia Dorothea falls for the same man as Clara. His name was Königsmarck. There was nothing about him that I could admire or respect. Because his love for Sophia Dorothea was oh-so-pure and oh-so-true, he satisfied his lusts with Clara. Until he went off to war and was thought to be missing in action. Then Sophia Dorothea rejoiced with his return! Of course, she abandoned her morals, she was so happy! Clara then takes evil to a whole new level. You see, Clara already hated her and despised her. She already was out to get her. But NOW...she was a million times more determined to win the day.
I did not like spending time with any of these characters. I really didn't.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Need some inspiration to write? Fall into a great book and read like a writer!
We hope that the kids of Syosset had a FIZZ BOOM BLAST time with their summer reading!!! Here is a recap of all our wonderful and exciting programs for the summer.
|Star Wars Day|
|Ice Cream in a Bag|
|Taste of Summer Cupcake Wars|
|Green Meadows Farm closing program|
|Fire and Ice closing program|
|For the Birds|
|Science of the Small|
posted by Josephine
Blog: Kid Lit Reviews
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Debut Illustrator
, Illustrator Spotlight
, digital medium
, Reyes Rosas
, Add a tag
Today, Kid L it Reviews is pleased to bring you an interview with Reyes Rosa, a sixteen-year-old, up-and-coming illustrator. He is here to also showcase some of his work which I think you will enjoy. (All art copyright © 2014 by Reyes Rosas.)
Hi, Reyes. Let’s start at the beginning. How old were you when you began seriously drawing?
I’m 16, now. And I began seriously drawing last year.
The illustrations here, how old were, Reyes when you created them?
I drew most of them recently.
What is it about illustrating that you like so well?
I find it fun and exciting to give characters life.
Is there anything you don’t like?
I love everything I do.
Reyes, who is your favorite artist and why?
I do not have a favorite artist. I don’t watch other illustrators.
Has a piece of art or character that influenced your art?
This is Kirby and he was my inspiration to start drawing when I was younger.
Kirby is your muse. How does Kirby influence you?
At the time, he seemed so fun and lively. And he could become anything he wanted, simply by inhaling it!
How old were you at the time?
I really don’t remember, but I think I was about 11
Until Kirby came along, how much did you draw?
Before that I really didn’t draw at all.
I love the interesting character study you did of a Kirby. I really like all the expressions and positions you included.
I love your art I have seen. The digital illustrations are fantastic an on the level of much I see today in picture books. How did you learn to make digital art?
I am a self taught artist and the program I mostly use is Colors 3D for digital art.
Did you have any help? Maybe a book on drawing?
I didn’t use any outside sources, I just started drawing.
Some of those art programs have a large learning-curve. No one helped you learn any of it?
No. I have done everything on my own, thru trial and error.
Color 3D is a new one for me. What are the advantages/disadvantages of using Color 3D?
Some of the advantages are that it is a very comfortable, easy to use program. It isn’t cluttered by any unnecessary options. And some of the disadvantages are that the program is a little limited in terms of image resolution and tools.
Was Color 3D difficult to learn?
The program itself did not take long to get comfortable with, but acquiring the skills took quite some time.
Have you tried using any of the usual programs illustrators like? (Illustrator, Photoshop, Manga 5, Corel Draw, or the open source Gimp)
I have not used any others because this one is the most comfortable for me to use. I have tried Gimp, but found that it is a little overcomplicated. And the others, I just don’t have the funds for.
Do you use a graphic pad?
I do not have a graphic pad, but I have wanted to try one. I use a stylus.
What is your normal process when creating illustrations? Do you sketch and then scan, paint and then scan to finish other areas? How do you get such great looking illustrations?
I usually just sketch within the program and then build the drawing from there.
Which part of the process do you enjoy most – sketching, painting, or digital illustration?
I love sketching and digital illustration. I don’t like the initial starting process of getting a rough sketch down, but I love the process of coloring and shading.
I know you would like to illustrate children’s books. Have you any experience?
I have worked with my mother on her kids cookbook doing the illustrations for it.
What you interests you about a career illustrating children’s books?
I like working in the children’s market because it’s more creative and less limited and lets me have more freedom in what I create.
Reyes you are a young man with lots of time ahead of you. Have you decided the life path you will take? Will it include art?
Yes, it will definitely include art and I would like to do 3D rendered animation in the future.
Have you thought about college and the art programs they have?
I have not thought about it yet, because I am only 16. But, my mom has thought about sending me to the Art Institute Of Chicago.
You’ve got to love moms. They are always one step ahead.
What do you do to relax?
I like to play video games.
What would be the most important advice you would give to young artist following you?
Never give up on any drawing, it might look bad at the start, but that’s only part of the process.
What would you like to get out of this interview?
I would like for you to share my art with others.
What is the next step for you and your art?
I want to take my art to where I can do this professionally and have someone represent me.
Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Reviews. In kids lit, an up and coming new artist interested in creating children’s books is exciting. Your innate talent is inspiring. I hope you become and accomplish all you wish to achieve.
Reyes is a self-taught digital artist and
pencil illustrator with a focus on character
art for video gaming and children’s literature.
He has been drawing since he was old enough
to hold a crayon. Reyes is a passionate guy who is
ready to take the next leap by pursuing art as a career.
Reyes is off the grid, but as been encouraged to build a blog so others may find him and his art.
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Filed under: Children's Books
, Debut Illustrator
, Illustrator Spotlight
, children's books
, digital medium
, Reyes Rosas
I'd like to say that I'm going on vacation, but it's really more of a migration—the annual road trip to deliver my two Jersey girls safely to their respective universities in North Carolina and Florida.
I know that I should have 8 days worth of reviews ready to post while I'm gone, but I don't work that far ahead. So, enjoy the end of your summer, and I'll see you next week!
As always, my thanks for your continued interest.
By: Miss O,
New Florida University Unveils Bookless LibraryAs for the electronic-only aspect of the library resources, Miller emphasized that it’s the information that’s key, not its form, and the student’s appropriate use of it. “We want our students to recognize when they have an information need,” she says, “and be able to locate the relevant information to apply it in a scholarly and, ultimately, professional way.”
Kathryn Miller, director of FPU’s library, in The Commons
Photo courtesy of Florida Polytechnic University
The other day I was doing some book shopping at Target to get a few new releases to have ready on the first day of school. While I was there I saw two books that stopped me in my tracks. The new Nancy Drew reissues.
I did not buy them right away. But, I took a picture and went home and reflected on the picture. By the time the evening rolled around I knew THEY HAD TO BE MINE. I could just see them displayed on my bookshelves.
I love the colors. I love, love the fonts. I love the illustration of the fashionable young detective. I love the label thingy on the side.
I have a crush on whomever designed these!!
Had you seen these yet? What do you think? What is a favorite re-issue cover of yours?
Full disclosure: I am not only a Children’s Librarian who advocates for inclusive programs and services for children with varying abilities, but I am also the parent of a child with a life-limiting genetic syndrome that causes significant developmental delays. I am motivated to a great extent by my daughter to ensure that libraries across the country have the tools and training needed to create and/or improve their offerings for people with disabilities. It is my goal to have her enjoy visiting the library as much as I did as a child.
Many libraries today are addressing the needs of children with special needs to ensure inclusion in story time programs and successful visits for materials and other resources. Sensory story times are the most popular offerings, but even a classic story time structure with simple modifications can be offered to include children with special needs. If you are just getting started with creating inclusive story times and need some basic information to get the ball rolling, there is a great webinar offered through Infopeople that was put together by staff from the Contra Costa County Library (CA) titled, Inclusive Library Programs for People with Intellectual Disabilities. The webinar is fully archived with access to the presentation materials including slides, handouts, and the Q & A Chat with the live participants. This webinar includes great information on creating inclusive programming for all ages as well as a segment focusing on Inclusive Story Time.
One of the resources suggested in the webinar to help you design appropriate content and develop a better understanding and awareness of the disabilities of children in your community is to connect with parents and professionals. Communication with parents can be twofold. It will provide insight into what parents feel are the needed adaptations and/or accommodations for their children to participate in a library story time, as well as create a channel for promoting your inclusive programming within the community. Parents of children with special needs seek each other out and build strong networks of their own. Getting the word out through these networks to promote your inclusive programs will help garner the participation and support you’ll need to make your program successful.
I have found many great resources for aiding youth librarians in educating themselves on getting started with programs and services to people with special needs. One of the common concerns among staff is having the knowledge and understanding for working with children with disabilities. I wasn’t prepared to be the mother to a child with significant health issues and developmental delays, but the more I worked with my daughter and cared for her, the more I have learned. This will be true of working with children with special needs in the library. You will learn more as you do more. You’ll be thrilled to see how happy parents and local professionals will be to help teach you what you need to know. Below is a list of several of the online resources I have recently found that can help you prepare for creating an inclusive environment for children of all abilities.
Info People Webinar (Archived from August 2013), Inclusive Library Programs for People with Intellectual Disabilities
Charlotte Mecklenburg County Library (Online Learning Archive)
Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies: Library Accessibility – What you need to know
SNAILS – Special Needs and Inclusive Library Services, a professional network of librarians in Illinois working towards increasing and improving inclusive services
Resources and Examples:
Brooklyn Public Library – The Child’s Place, Information on programs for children with and without disabilities. Also check out their pamphlet about “Universal Design”.
Skokie (IL) Public Library Resource List; a comprehensive list of print materials for adults and children
Center for Early Literacy Learning, resources for adapting activities during story time
Bethany Lafferty is the Assistant Branch Manager/Youth Services Department Head at Henderson Libraries – Green Valley Branch in Henderson, Nevada. She can be followed on Twitter with the handle @balaff1.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature is a behind-the-scenes look at the grown-up aspects of writing children's books written by three children's book specialists, Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter D. Sieruta, who passed away in 2012. Having been a fan of the blogs of Betsy Bird (fuse#8, which was picked up by School Library Journal a few years ago) and Julie
Are you getting nervous about the beginning of the school year? Will your child be able to make the transition to a new school, new teacher, new friends? There's nothing like the nervous excitement of the first day of school. Some kids are raring to go, while others are tentatively clinging to their parents. Whatever the case, try out these two new favorites to add some humor as you read about the first day of school.
by Sue Ganz-Schmitt
illustrated by Shane Prigmore
Your local library
“The countdown started. Dad and I checked the plans for my next big mission… I am ready to explore: Planet Kindergarten!”
|Planet Kindergarten, click to enlarge|
Starting school is certainly exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking. One imaginative little kid knows it might be just like blasting off into outer space. There are strange routines, new crewmembers, and you might even get a bit homesick.
Bold colors and a retro-style amp up the humor in this fun twist on getting used to a new school. You can definitely tell that Shane Prigmore
has an animator's background -- check out his blog
to see some of the fun inspiration he used in developing the artwork for this.
|Planet Kindergarten, click to enlarge|
I just love the way Ganz-Schmitt captures the joyful chaos of kindergarten. Share this with any kindergarten teacher, and she/he will love the line, "Gravity works differently here. We have to try hard to stay in our seats. And our hands go up a lot."
Mom, It's My First Day of Kindergarten!
by Hyewon Yum
Farrar Straus Giroux / Macmillan, 2012
Your local library
In a delightful turning of the tables, a five-year old boy can’t wait to start kindergarten and his mom is anxious about his going to a new school.
“Will you be okay in the big kids’ school? You’re still so little,” she frets.
“Mom, don’t worry. I’ll be fine, I am already five!” he declares as he dashes off to school.
The boy is full of confidence -- I just love the way that Hyewon Yum
shows this visually, with the kindergartner big and bold, and his mom small and blue. Until he peeks inside the classroom door ... and the roles reverse again.
Enjoy this video to get a sense of this delightful story and artwork:
I hope your little ones come home declaring, "Kindergarten is awesome!!!" The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Chronicle Books and Macmillan. 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
Amity by Micol Ostow. Egmont USA. Reviewed from ARC; publication date August 2014. My Teaser from April.The Plot:
Two families, years apart, move into the same house.
A house called Amity. A house in the middle of nowhere. A house with secrets, dark and deadly.
The Good: Amity
is about a haunted house; a house that is both haunted and that haunts its unfortunate inhabitants. It is told by two seventeen year olds, Connor and Gwen. Both have just moved into a new house. It is the same house, ten years apart. And both see what those around them cannot, or will not: that there is something terribly wrong with the house. Something supernaturally wrong.
As I said in the teaser, this scared the hell out of me. The title, Amity,
refers to another story about a haunted house, The Amityville Horror
. I read that original book at age thirteen, believing every word. Specific details have changed: the location of the house. The time period. The families. You don't have to read that book to "get" this one. That one book lead to several movies, several versions of the story, but all about a haunted house.
"Here is a house of ruin and rage, of death and deliverance, seated atop countless nameless unspoken souls
." Connor's story is the earlier story, when he and his siblings move into the empty house. Connor's family is one that looks so pretty on the outside (mom, dad, twins, little boy), much like the house they move into: "Probably from the outside it looked like we were doing better than we really were. That was Dad's thing -- make sure we looked like we were doing better, doing well."
What scared me about Connor's story was not so much his realizations that something was wrong with his house, but that he welcomed that darkness -- that Connor came to Amity with something already missing from his soul.
The present-day Gwen has a different set of problems than Connor, but part of those problems means that when she begins to see that something is wrong at Amity, people don't believe her. For Connor, the reader wonders how far he'll go; for Gwen, it's wondering whether she'll be able to stop history from repeating itself. And if she can, what will the cost be?
I love how the stories went back and forth between Connor and Gwen. I loved the various references to the original story. I loved how isolated and strange Amity was, further isolating Connor and Gwen's families. And I loved as both madness and haunting settled into both timeframes, those times began to merge.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham reminds me of a cheerier, more colorful version of Candace Fleming's wonderful Clever Jack Takes the Cake, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. In both Fleming and Pham's books a friend bakes a birthday cake for another friend and, in the process of delivering the cake things go awry. With a flock of crows, an ogre and a princess, Fleming's book has a definitely has
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One of my toddler’s favorite books right now is My Bus by Byron Barton. My son has taken quite a liking to Joe, the bus driver, and his dogs. In this story, the reader meets Joe and learns about his job picking up dogs and cats and driving them to their destinations. Joe has a busy day making lots of stops and dropping animals off at the boat, train, and plane. Besides for the bus, little vehicle lovers can see the animals sail, ride and fly away. The simple illustrations and minimal text appeal to the youngest readers. For slightly older readers, it is a nice introduction to addition and subtraction.
Posted by: Liz