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26. Ten Illustrators To Follow Now

From sketches to digital art narratives, here’s a visual journey into the worlds of ten illustrators on WordPress.com.

Brad Young

The drawings at Brad Young Art capture life’s little moments. From pen and ink to watercolor, and gardening to food to neighborhood spots, it’s easy to get lost sifting through Brad’s mix of doodles and sketches.

Sarah Goodreau

Sarah Goodreau, an illustrator living in Amsterdam, has a distinct style marked with the warmth you’ll find in children’s picture books, as well as the mystery of surrealist landscapes. In addition to illustration, Sarah is interested in video and stop-motion animation.

Marc Taro Holmes

At Citizen Sketcher, Montreal-based artist Marc Taro Holmes chronicles his location sketching, travel drawing, and plein air painting. His work-in-progress is refreshing, from airy landscapes to spirited pieces full of movement. When viewing his work, you can picture his hand moving across the page.

Drew Dernavich

Artist Drew Dernavich works on a number of projects, from New Yorker cartoons to art for musical projects. At Words, Pictures, Humor, you’ll find highlights from his professional work.

Robert M Ball

London-based illustrator Robert M Ball shares a range of work on his blog, from his “Beautiful Death” series for HBO’s Game of Thrones to his new book, Dark Times

Lorna Alkana

Los Angeles artist Lorna Alkana experiments with multi-layered digital media and visual essays. It’s fun to read about — and see — her process of image manipulation.

Pete Scully

Urban sketcher Pete Scully organizes monthly sketchcrawls in Davis, California. An avid keeper of sketchbooks, he’s constantly doodling, bringing the world to life with his colorful, lighthearted illustrations.

Anna Totten

Just Look at My Face is Anna Totten’s virtual lost and found of doodles and illustrations. Playful and colorful, Anna’s work will put a smile on your face.

Slightly Chilled Porcupine

It’s easy to scroll through the black-and-white illustrations at Slightly Chilled Porcupine and lose track of time — at first glance, the drawings are simple, but the messages, while often quirky, are not to be dismissed. (Also, who doesn’t love porcupines?)

Danny Gregory

Award-winning artist Danny Gregory has written numerous books on art and creativity. (Fun fact: Pete Scully, mentioned above, is featured in one of them: An Illustrated Journey.) On Danny’s blog, you’ll find drawings, illustrated journaling, and essays. Be sure to also check out Sketchbook Skool, his six-week online art course.

Let Them Draw Cake," Danny Gregory
“Let Them Draw Cake,” Danny Gregory

Want more? Browse some of our favorite art and design blogs, or explore the illustration tag in the Reader.

Filed under: Community, WordPress.com

11 Comments on Ten Illustrators To Follow Now, last added: 8/15/2014
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27. Back to School: Learning About Your Community

A photo of The Toolbox hardware store by Tim GreenI think a lot about how libraries need find out the best ways to support the needs of specific communities. Often, we do that internally by talking about the teens and families that we know or that we think we know. We do that by going into the schools and talking to classrooms of teens and teachers. But, do we do that by really connecting with the community and finding out what their needs really are? I’m not so sure. Or, maybe I’m not sure we do it enough.

That’s why when I learned about the Community Tool Box I thought, “Wow this is amazing.” And, “This really gives me some good information about how to learn about the community from the community.” My favorite part of the website is the section labeled “Learn a Skill.” For one thing I really like the phrase “Learn a Skill,” It sounds positive and encouraging. But, more than that, the content is incredibly useful.

In the “Learn a Skill” section of the site you can learn about various aspects of working with community members and partners. There is information on promoting initiatives in a community and analyzing community problems. Sections on leadership and management and strategic planning with and for a community. And, there’s a section on community assessment and that’s what I think in this back to school time, if you can’t go through all of the materials on the site, start with this section.

One thing that really stands out to me in this section of the site is that it talks about how people tend to define community. For those working in libraries and teen services the community might be a particular geographic area but it can also be a school that you work with, a group of teens or partners that have a common interest or mission, a group of people that are similar in a particular way, and so on.

The site also includes tools and guides for assessing a community and its needs. You can access an amazing array of tools that will help to guide an assessment process that you might go through. The tools include a community description worksheet, interview guides, checklists, and PowerPoint presentations. There is a wealth of material available and I think it can all come in useful as you work to truly learn about who is in your community and what their needs really are.

As the “Understanding and Describing the Community” section of the site states:

“Understanding the community entails understanding it in a number of ways. Whether or not the community is defined geographically, it still has a geographic context — a setting that it exists in. Getting a clear sense of this setting may be key to a full understanding of it. At the same time, it’s important to understand the specific community you’re concerned with. You have to get to know its people — their culture, their concerns, and relationships — and to develop your own relationships with them as well.”

Why not make one of the things you do during back to school season truly learning about the community you serve? It will most certainly help you to provide excellent service to teens.

If you want to learn more about the communities you work with make sure to follow local Twitter feeds such as the local newspaper(s), city government, schools, community partners and agencies, and so on. Check out local websites to find the most useful Twitter hashtags for your specific part of the world.

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28. #638 – Benny Breakiron #2: Madame Adolphine by Peyo


Benny Breakiron #2: Madame Adolphine

by Pierre Culliford aka Peyo
Papercutz                           9/24/2013
Age 7 +                        54 pages
“Madame Adolphine is a kind, gentle old lady, and a good friend of the super-strong Benny Breakiron. So why is she robbing a bank, banging a man on the head with a mallet, and being thrown in the trunk of a car, with no memory of what happened? It’s up to Benny to get to the bottom of it . . . and stop it if he can.”


“Vivejoie-Grande, a cute, little city with provincial charm, that’s where Benny Breakiron lives.”

The Story

Benny has super-strength that works abominably well as long as he does not catch a cold. Colds knock Benny’s super-strength right out of him. Odd, but true. He can leap over buildings in one bound, out run any racecar, and is molding a rather interesting logical mind that he uses to solve many of the situations he faces.


Today, Benny plays a game of cowboys and Indians with Madame Adolphine, an older woman who looks to be in her eighty’s. When she runs out of steam, Benny carries her home and calls the doctor, who is not amused. Madame does not have a pulse and the good doctor figures out the trouble. Finally, Benny finds her identification and a phone number of a friend, who is glad to have the wondering woman back.

Later, Madame Adolphine frees herself with Benny’s help. He thinks her friend is abusing her and helps her get away from his home. This time, Madame Adolphine robs a gun store, a bank, and several people before hijacking a taxi and skedattling out of town. She is on to bigger heists. Her friend is frantic, as is Benny. The police arrest the real Madame Adolphine, placing her directly in jail due to the preponderance of evidence and witnesses, no passing go, no going home. Benny breaks her out of jail, then goes on the hunt for the robber, planning to bring her back and clear the real Madame Adolphine.


The Benny Breakiron comics are funny and kids, probably more boys than girls, will like the stories. I am amazed at Benny’s naivety and trust level considering this is not his first outing with criminals. When he asks the robot to return and she agrees, he believes her, returning on a train alone, convinced she will follow as soon as she “cleans up” her business. She has a major heist to pull with her criminal gang. Until Benny hears of the latest burglary, he is calmly riding home. Quickly he hops off the train, scaring a man who he had terrified so much while breaking the real Madame Adolphine out of jail he is close to a nervous breakdown. I was surprised that the law-abiding Benny would break anyone out f jail. I guess when he is sure of the person’s innocence it is okay. Not a great message but then comics are not about messages they are about fun.


Benny consistently dupes adults, especially the gang of strong criminals who think they can toss Benny out of the club, but are grossly mistaken when Benny beats them all to a pulp—in bloodless, humorous ways that is as safe as the roadrunner is for a seven-year-old. Even after Benny catches a cold causing the shutdown of his super-strength, the men are afraid. When they figure out Benny lost his powers they go after him but, thanks to the barkeep charged with keeping Benny locked up and who nurses Benny’s cold, Benny has recovered enough to restore his powers and shock the gangsters once more when he pulverizes them all.

In the end, police drop all charges against the real Madame Adolphine and the robot returns to its maker for disassembly. There is a twist, leaving the robot to her own devises once more and the real Madame Adolphine returning for disassembly. Does this mean the story will continue? I do not know and don’t see a new edition with Madame Adolphine in the story-line. I guess we must wait and see.

Kids who like lighter-fare comics, without a lot of violence and anger, will love Benny Breakiron. Benny is an everyday kid who happens to have strength unknown to man. He is a nice kid, a little naive, and maybe too trustworthy, but he always tries to do what is right, even if it means he must use his powers. Benny Breakiron is a good old-fashioned comic by the comic genius of his time—Peyo.

new c

BENNY BREAKIRON, #2: MADAME ADOLPHINE. Text and illustrations copright © 2013 by Peyo. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Papercutz, New York, NY.


Purchase Benny Breakiron #2: Madame Adolphine at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryiTunesPapercutzyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Benny Breakiron #2: Madame Adolphine HERE.

Meet the author / illustrator, Peyo, at the XX wiki:     http://smurfs.wikia.com/wiki/Peyo

Find more great comics at the Papercutz website:     http://www.papercutz.com/


Also by Peyo

The Smurfs #15: The Smurflings

The Smurfs #15: The Smurflings

The Smurfs Anthology #1

The Smurfs Anthology #1

Benny Breakiron #1: The Red Taxis

Benny Breakiron #1: The Red Taxis


Review of Smurflings #15 HERE

Review of Smurf Anthology #1 HERE

Review of Benny Breakiron #1 HERE





breakiron 2



copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Graphic Novel, Library Donated Books Tagged: Benny Breakiron, children's book reviews, comics, graphic novel, Madame Adolphine, Papercutz, Pierre Culliford aka Peyo, super-powers

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29. Writing History in Many Forms

Want some fresh ways to channel your students to write about history? This post offers some light and fast tips that could easily be turned into weighty and meaningful instruction.

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30. Video Sunday: Sneaky Peek Edition

Currently I am maxing and relaxing in Stratford, Ontario enjoying a play or two.  Just kidding.  By my calculations what I’m actually doing as you read this is driving hell-for-leather out of Canada back to New York City while seated in a rental car’s back seat next to a 3-year-old and a 13-week-old.  For hours.  And hours.  And hours.

As you digest that pleasant little mental image (fun fact: someone in this car gets carsick regularly and it’s not me) I’m going to do you a solid.  In case you missed it, we’ve been soliciting authors for special behind-the-scenes tidbits and facts about their 2014 books.  These appear one a day on our Wild Things blog (the blog that celebrates Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature).  So enjoy what we’ve posted so far and stay tuned because there’s a LOT more where these came from!

First up, a video so good you’d swear we paid to have it made.  It’s N.D. Wilson talking gators, football, burning sugarcane fields, and there’s a live recitation of Beowulf in here to make the ladies swoon (the Beowulf lovin’ ladies . . . which is to say my friend Lori Ess):

Christian Robinson was up next and he brought some thoughtful consideration to the depiction of nontraditional families:

Bethany Hegedus followed and her talk touched on spelling errors and matchmaking:

When authors and illustrators asked what kind of video to do I always pointed them to this video of Steve Light.  His talk involves runaway primates, which is as awesome as it sounds:

And speaking of primates, Katherine Applegate was a true class act, appearing alongside primate keeper Jody Carrigan to discuss Ivan the gorilla’s more mischievous streak:

How great is Jack Gantos?  We asked the man to plug his book and he plugged ours instead!  Class act, that one:

Greg Neri came by to talk about the five things you might not know about Johnny Cash, Letterman style:

Jon Scieszka put on a fez.  Would that everyone did.  A fez just makes everything good:

Lisa Brown’s art may contain the only time in history this particular piece of furniture has appeared in a picture book:

Aaron Starmer told a magnificent story from his own youth that will honestly make your heart bleed a little:

And today we have Lauren Castillo, featuring an editor beloved to many:

Like I say, there are many more to come.  Perhaps your favorite will be up soon!

share save 171 16 Video Sunday: Sneaky Peek Edition

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31. Words with Wings - a review

Below is my review from the August, 2014, edition of School Library Journal.

GRIMES, Nikki. Words with Wings. 1 CD. 41 min. Recorded
Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490609676. Playaway, digital

Gr 3–5— Gabriella is a dreamer, more like the father she visits than the mother she lives with every day. Since her parents separated, Gabby and her mother have moved, and she has enrolled in a new school. Always the class daydreamer, she's prepared for the teasing that she knows will come. Mention the word "butterfly," and her thoughts may soar out the classroom window on the imagined wings of a beautiful creature. Other words create thoughts that are more pensive. Sometimes it's easier to retreat into her imagination than to face her circumstances. Gabby's expectations for her new school are low, but her teacher and a quiet boy in the back of the room offer some hope in her new surroundings. With encouragement, perhaps a pen and paper can anchor the "words with wings" that set Gabby's mind adrift. Mutiyat Ade-Salu is perfectly cast for this story in verse, told in the first person in the present tense story. Her voice is youthful and likable, and as Gabriella's thoughts soar, plummet, and wander, so too does the voice of Ade-Salu. A perfect book for poets, dreamers, and reluctant readers.

Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

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32. Book Review: A Certain October by Angela Johnson

Book: A Certain October
Author: Angela Johnson
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

When she's in a horrible accident that kills a friend and severely injures her seven-year-old brother, Scotty feels responsible - for Kris's death, for Keone's injuries. It's all her fault, but there's no way she can make up for it. In the face of her helplessness, Scotty starts to do things to help other peoples' lives, and that might be just enough to get her through this October alive.

It's always hard for me to characterize an Angela Johnson book. They don't seem to have beginnings or ends, you feel like you're dropped in the middle of someone's life and then get plucked out again. I feel more as if I should like them than I actually do. But the jumbled tangle of emotion and uncertainty is awfully close to living inside Scotty's head. It's a quick and often confusing read. I'd give it only to people who are fans of Johnson's other work.

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33. Back to School Fun: Silly and Sweet (ages 3-6)

Summer is ending and soon kids will head back to school. Some are excited for new adventures, but many will be sad to see summer over. Help your kids talk about the changes that are coming with two new books that take a silly and sweet look at the new school year. These are both perfect for little kids starting preschool or kindergarten.

Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2014
ages 4-6
Lola is one cute little kitty, ready to pounce, play and explore. When she finds pink glasses, a stylish outfit and a backpack, she decides to join the rest of the kids on the school bus. "Hooray! Lola is going to school!" Lola has fun doing all sorts of activities at school -- writing, reading, painting, singing, and more. "Lola loved it all!" The story might be slight (dare I say fluffy like a kitty?), but it will help bring smiles to any little kid who's anxious about what happens at school. Lola's positive attitude is sure to rub off on them.
Monsters Love School
by Mike Austin
HarperCollins, 2014
Your local library
ages 3-6
Mike Austin's monsters bring even more silliness to the scene, while still helping kids who are feeling nervous about starting a new school year. Summer fun is ending and all the little monster head to school. Most are excited to see their friends-- “Oh Yeah! Monster School!!” But one little blue monster is worried: “School?! Gulp.”
Blue is sure that he already knows his “ABGs and 413s and XYDs,” so why does he need to go to school? Sure enough, once Blue gets to school he starts having fun. Just look at how great art class can be:
Austin’s playful monsters are sure to bring laughs, with their bright colors and googly eyes. Check out what Kirkus Reviews had to say about Monsters Love School:
"Austin has masterfully folded some valuable information about the first day of school into his funny tale, but the monsters are the big draw. Not the least bit scary, their simple shapes and accessories and scrawled style will likely have kids reaching for their own 'monster pencils, monster crayons, monster ink and brushes.'"
Looking for more Back to School book ideas? Check out this article in School Library Journal: Backpacks, Lunch Boxes, and Giggles Galore: Back-to-School Adventures, by Joy Fleishhacker.

The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, HarperCollins. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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34. District Days

Until September 7th, members of Congress will be at home tending to their constituents.  This time period, known as “District Days,” is a good time to touch base with both your Representatives in the House and your Senators to let them know about the importance of the work you do every day.

I know that most of you are tired, your Summer Reading program has just ended or is ending very soon and the start of the new school year is fast approaching, but here are some simple (and not so simple – for the energetic) things you can do:

  • If your summer reading challenge hasn’t ended yet and a big party to celebrate another successful summer is in the works, invite your legislators to it.  If it is over but you are hosting another event before Sept. 7th, invite them to that event.  You can find contact information for members here. The YALSA District Days site has some great information on how to plan an event and make it effective.
  • If your summer reading program is over, bring a photo album over to local Congressional offices, or if that won’t work, send it to them. You can ask kids to help you make it!  Some things you might include are:
    • Photos (of course) and or links to videos taken,
    • Statistics detailing the number of participants and the number of days, minutes or pages read (whatever measurement you use),
    • Statistics detailing the number of programs presented and the number of participants who attended,
    • Information linking the types of programs offered to their educational value (i.e. STEM programs, early literacy storytimes, etc.). http://www.edutopia.org/stw-college-career-stem-infographic; digitalyouth.ischool.uw.edu and click on the “Project Views” link,
    • Information on summer slip
    • Stories or comments from patrons about why they love summer reading and/or the library.
  • Personalized stories and numbers make a great combination. If an album won’t work, ask patrons to send comments individually to their representatives about how essential public libraries are to their daily lives.
  • Remember to check with your library administrators before the outreach begins to make sure everybody is on the same page.

Finally, if it is too late to do any of the above, remember to mark your calendars for a date in early June 2015 so that you can plan to participate next summer.  And, as always, stay tuned to this blog and our Everyday Advocacy weekly challenges for other things you can do during the year to advocate for your library.


Today’s post was written by Helen Bloch, Librarian 2 in Children’s Services at the Oakland Public Library, for the Advocacy and Legislation committee.

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35. Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, 372 pp, RL: TEEN

I bought Delicious!,  the debut work of fiction by restaurant critic, food writer (food memoirist might be a better moniker), former editor of Gourmet Magazine, Ruth Reichl as a gift for my mother, who is a decent cook and ardent reader of Reichl's work and that of other great food writers, and my aunt, a spectacular, thoughtful cook who does not read fiction. I thought I might borrow it (

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36. The alarming five-year pin

Five-year pinNot long ago I had a back-and-forth with MPOW’s head of HR, who is a great HR head, by the way (and after my spring HR class my admiration for her role deepened–talk about a complex role people take for granted, like, you know, library work). She told me I would be receiving my five-year pin, and I kept insisting it was too early. But in the end I said ok, I will receive my five-year pin, because the day of the ceremony was exactly six months from my five-year anniversary, and also because she wasn’t taking “no” for an answer.

I was startled to get here. Many people have elaborate career plans such as “I’m going to be the dean of an ARL library” or “I’m going to be the interplanetary guru of electronic resources.” My modus operandi has been more along the lines of, “Hey, that looks good,” or “I’m new in town, do you have a job for me?” This baggy approach to personal career management has had spectacularly uneven results, but it did result in my present position, which is an undeniably good fit for me, even, or perhaps especially, on the craziest days.

Everything I said about managerial leadership two years ago still holds, but I continue to have very good lessons-learned, and not all of them learned the hard way. So in the spirit of the ubiquitous listicles on the web, I present my top five:

* Campus relationships are key. Some years back I wrote a “guest response” piece for ACRL that took a position — likely in the minority — questioning the value of faculty status for librarians. I would soften that view today to say, after the manner of Pope Francis, if it works for your institution, who am I to judge? However, I do stick by the point lurking under my piece: faculty status is not a substitute for building and maintaining strong relations with all stakeholders on campus–not just the faculty, but key departments such as advising, tutoring, writing studios, orientation, admissions, campus ministry, and especially, campus services — my library may be hurting for a renovation, but it’s clean and, for its age, well-maintained.

* Sticking around has value. Those relationships don’t happen overnight, so another happy re-discovery is the joy of longevity. If you’ve been in the same library thirty years you and I may have different definitions for that term, but this job rivals only my job managing Librarians’ Internet Index (RIP) for longevity, assuming we allow for my military service being a series of smaller jobs within a larger eight-year job. People have arrived, served the university well, and departed, all on my watch, and I’ve seen a lot of change, as well as some things come full circle. And I’m still here, plugging away at the big things and the small things alike.

* Managerial leadership can be learned (parts of it, anyway). I have learned a lot on the job. Nevertheless, the doctoral program is helping me from many angles. There is the direct classroom experience of highly practical classes on human resources, strategic finance, managing in a political environment, fundraising, and so on. Then there is the scholarly aspect: research, reading, and writing (rinse, repeat). While  there is no substitute for integrity, common sense, optimism, and collegiality, learning how to write a case statement for fundraising is not a bad thing at all.

* The organization comes first. This rule manifests itself in many ways big and small. The boss gotta be the boss.  I prefer to ask “How?” or say “Not now, but let’s find a way to do this,” but sometimes “no” is the correct answer. If a key stakeholder relationship has been damaged, I need to repair it, even if I have to grovel (and trust me, I’ve groveled). If constructive feedback is warranted, I need to provide it (though constant positive feedback is crucial, too). Using Heifetz’ analogy, it’s up to me to clamber up to the balcony every now and then to see what’s happening on the dance floor, and then adjust as needed.

* Do what needs doing. Every institution has its own reality. In our case, I found myself writing an evacuation procedure, purchasing additional emergency response gear in case the lower level was not accessible, and leading the entire library, including student workers, in active-shooter training.  I also ensure we regularly update a small printout of everyone’s non-MPOW phone numbers and email so we can contact one another in emergencies. Was all of that “my” job? Yes, some of it was, but more importantly, it is my job to ensure we are prepared for emergencies, and human safety is non-negotiable.

Make sure you’ve fulfilled the bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy. In addition to improving our emergency response, in the last two years I’ve done what I could to make staff more comfortable and productive. The staff area, carved from a former “processing room,” is aesthetically sad, with worn cubicle panels, ugly tile, and hideous cabinets, but I patiently championed adding overhead fans to the staff area, which has increased staff comfort, and this summer the head of library IT and I built a “seated cost” budget plan to help us ensure staff are adequately equipped for their roles, with scheduled upgrades we can plan and budget for each year. Little things — a full-size fridge, a Keurig, a hydration station for filling water bottles — make a difference.

* Do what you can, and keep trying. As I wrote in 2012, I need to be mercilessly optimistic. Management and leadership have a certain household-laundry quality, with perpetual problems and challenges that mean the last sock is never washed. There are some big things that may not happen on my watch. But I don’t stop developing proposals and plans for improving the library that I share with key stakeholders, and this readiness, plus a variety of creative relationships, have led to improvements to the library, beginning with a refresh of the computers in that aging lab, on to a new reading area, to the first refresh of the furniture on the main level in the library’s 56 years. We’ve also increased our workforce in five years, and for that I can be justly proud, because our services define us.

Have fun with the silly stuff. Several months ago, the library — specifically, I and another librarian — were pulled into an elaborate time-sink of a project to secure permissions for an anthology of prayers and poetry the university will be self-publishing. I am here to tell you that most copyright workshops stop short of the truly practical guidance, which is how to chase down, stalk, wheedle, negotiate, and beg your way to get permissions for material, or even how to go back in a time machine, to when you first got wind of such a project, to insist that submissions be accompanied by little things such as authors, titles, and publishers. But as much as I grumble that this isn’t what I planned to do this summer, the reality is that our efforts are greatly appreciated, our guru-ness in copyright is further solidified, and the end result will be good.

Get (and maintain) a life. I have a loving spouse, two amusing cats, and a variety of interests, and oh yeah, a doctoral program.  I have heard about directors that work from dawn into the wee hours seven days a week, but I don’t know that their libraries are run any better than mine. I definitely put in my dues; I’m always the director, 24×7, and some periods are busier than others. But I’m no good to the institution if I’m frazzled and depleted. This has  also made me very selective with my speaking and conference activities, in part because I don’t want to be an absent boss, and also because catch-up is hell. Every once in a while I dose myself with “vitamin colleague,” checking in with peer directors for a phone call, Skype, or lunch, because there is some stuff I just can’t share with anyone else.

* Be fully present. Above, I referred to things happening “on my watch.” I have observed some directors take a job with their eyes fixed on their future goal (see above, “wanna be an ARL director”). I have seen others turn into what we called in the Air Force ROADies (for Retired On Active Duty). The sweet spot for me is to get in early every day, be present as much as possible, and be actively engaged with my role as library leader.

It’s possible to renew your present-ness. Last fall was a tough time: the second semester of the doctoral program was grueling, and there were other things going on at work that zombified me. I felt, later on, that I had checked out, even if I still got things done. But that was then and this is now. Nearly every day I drive through the gates of the university with a sense of anticipation;  to quote Thelma in Thelma and Louise, “I don’t ever remember feeling this awake.” (And if you’re tempted to make the inevitable “driving off a cliff” comment, remember that Thelma and Louise were choosing a life framed by that level of being present.) I am captaining a ship sailing toward our library’s vision, with my eye on the horizon as well as the decks, and I can feel the engines pulling us toward our future. It feels good.

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37. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week – August 15, 2014

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 August 15 and August 21 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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38. District Days 101: Planning an Event with a Politician

By: Annie Schutte is Director of Libraries and Center for Inquiry at the Maret School in Washington, DC.

Libraries are doing amazing work in our communities, so don’t you want your elected officials to know about it? Your senators and representatives are your direct link to federal policies that determine library funding, and they’re more likely to support programs when they have first-hand knowledge of how they work for their (and your) constituents. The best way to educate your elected officials is to invite them to an event at your library (see: District Days 101: How to Get an Elected Official to Your Library).

Follow these eight easy steps, and you should be well on your way to hosting a successful event for your elected official, your patrons, and your library.

1. Start with a pre-existing event. You don’t need to create something special for your elected official. Pick an event you’re already doing that would give you an opportunity to show off a library program or educate your Congressperson about the type of work your library is doing. An example would be asking a Congressperson to participate in the culminating summer reading event at your library.

2. Give the elected official something to do. It helps to have a clear role for your guest at the event. For example, you could have the Congressperson act as a judge for a contest, hand out awards teens as part of a program, give a speech, or even pitch in to help with a volunteer initiative.

3. Advertise, advertise, advertise. You’re going to want to aggressively market the event to your patrons any way you can. A crowded library will underscore how important your library is to the community. Ask your patrons and other librarians for ideas about how to get the word out.

4. Notify the media. Talk to the elected official’s press aide a couple weeks before the event to discuss ideas for media coverage and make sure the Congressperson is comfortable with any press you are planning on inviting. You should contact media a week prior to the event with information, adapting YALSA’s press release and media message or writing your own.

5. Take lots of photos. Make sure to line up a library staff member or volunteer to take high-quality photographs documenting the event. The pictures aren’t just for you and your library–the elected official’s office and members of the local press may want to use them, as well.

6. Provide educational materials. You may want to have available at the event some handouts or brochures about your library or the importance of libraries to teens and communities. YALSA has many free handouts available, as well as the Teens Need Libraries brochure.

7. Create a take-away packet. Give your elected official and his or her staff members something to take home with them besides just the memories. Put together a folder of information about your library for them. You may want to include a fact sheet about your library, a library card for the elected official, recent newspaper articles or photographs of library activities, a list of upcoming events, your business card, and YALSA’s Teens Need Libraries brochure.

8. Send a thank you note. Make sure to get names and contact information for any of the Congressperson’s staff members that attend the event so that you can send a follow-up note to the elected official, as well as any of their aides. You may also consider asking the staff members if you can sign them up for your regular newsletter, a library card, or other outreach efforts.

Good luck planning your event! For more information and resources, visit the YALSA District Days wiki.

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39. Week in Review: August 10-16

The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side. Damien Lewis. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
The Convenient Marriage. By Georgette Heyer. (1934) Read by Richard Armitage. 2010. August 2010. Naxos Audiobooks. 5 hrs. 6 minutes. [Source: Review copy]
Kate's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #2) Adele Whitby.  2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
Beth's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #1) Adele Whitby. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
The 101 Dalmatians. Dodie Smith. 1956/1989 Penguin. 192 pages. [Source: Owned Since Childhood]
The Glass Sentence. S.E. Grove. 2014. Penguin. 512 pages. [Source: Library] 
Charity Envieth Not. (George Knightley #1) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2009. CreateSpace. 260 pages. [Source: Library]
Lend Me Leave. (George Knightley #2) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2011. CreateSpace. 246 pages. [Source: Library]
The Wonder-Working God. Jared C. Wilson. 2014. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Centurion: Mark's Gospel As A Thriller. Ryan Casey Waller. 2013. Interlochen Ink. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]
Captured by Love. Jody Hedlund. 2014. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's favorite:

I'm going with nonfiction this week. For the record, I love, love, love The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer. I listened to the audio book narrated by Richard Armitage. It was WONDERFUL. But it was also abridged. I recommend it in spite of it being abridged because Armitage does such a fabulous job. But still I wish it had been unabridged.

The Dog Who Could Fly is my choice this week. I really loved it. I recommend it for those interested in World War II, OR in flying, OR anyone who is a dog lover! It was a compelling and memorable read.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. ALSC Member of the Month — Beth Munk

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

photo 1(1)

Photo courtesy of Beth Munk

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

I am the children’s services manager at the Kendallville Public Library. I have been overseeing programming, collections, and staff here for 10 years.

2. Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I joined ALSC around 4 years ago because I wanted to get more involved in the library profession.   I have served on various local and state agencies boards helping organizations to achieve their missions. I’ve been involved in the Indiana Library Federation and Children and Young Person Division (CYPD) conference planning committees for years but was really interested in taking things to the next level.   Joining ALSC has allowed me to connect with librarians across the country and discuss the future of our profession.

3. What motivates you?

Forward movement. People can be divided into two categories – Builders or Maintainers –I’m a builder. Builders are innovators, creators, and explorers. They not only get to create new services, projects, and programs, but they also get to find ways to expand and enhance what is already there.   I heard someone say once that they “hate sameness.” That’s me, I am consistently telling my staff that we did a great job, but what can we do to make it bigger? Better?

4. What are you proudest of having accomplished in your professional career?

The thing I’m most proud of in my professional career is helping to bring the library to LIFE for the youth of Kendallville. I have pushed myself and my staff to be “there” wherever that may be, and promote the connections in our life to what the library has to offer.

5. Favorite age of kids to work with?

I LOVE to work with students in the upper elementary (grades 3-6). This group is able to enjoy a great picture book and a fun activity, but are also able to delve into deep converstations and participate in a multi-step project.

6. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

When I was little I went through a variety of careers that I was interested in…the one the stuck around the longest, was that of the sports broadcaster.   I went to Purdue University and received a degree in communications with the hopes of landing an on air job in the news.

7. What’s one “rule” you wished every librarian followed?

I wish every librarian would follow the “rule” to sometimes, “just give them the pickle!” This is a story told by Bob Farrell on the importance of customer service.   Basically, it boils down to sometimes you have to break the “rules.” What’s your “pickle” in your job/library? Is it more important than a happy customer?

8. Movies or plays?

This is a tough one, because I love both.   For many years I have travelled to Stratford, Canada with a group of high school kids to enjoy the Shakespearean festival and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for any movie. BUT there is a time to curl up on the couch with your kids and belt out “Let it Snow,” just one more time.

9. Have you ever photobombed someone?

I do my very best to never ever be photographed for any reason, so I have never photobombed anyone, but almost every time someone sneaks a picture of me there is someone making some face in the background.

10. What do you love about your work?

I love so many things about my work, but probably my favorite part is meeting authors and listening to their stories about why they write, what they used to do, or just the silly things they have been through. This in itself is wonderful, but taking that to a group of 4th graders and getting the feeling that I’m giving them some secret insight into the book or author we’re discussing is awesome!


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

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

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41. The Belton Estate

The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]

 To state it simply: it was LOVE. I have loved quite a few Anthony Trollope novels in the past. So it wasn't a big, big surprise that I loved Belton Estate. Perhaps I was surprised by just how MUCH I loved, loved, loved it! It was completely satisfying and practically perfect.

Clara Amedroz is the heroine of The Belton Estate. When her brother dies--he committed suicide--Clara's future becomes uncertain. Her father's property is entailed. She's unable to inherit from her father despite his wishes. There was a slim possibility that an aunt-like figure--a wealthy woman, of course--could leave her something. But she's left out of that will as well.

There are two men who could potentially "save" Clara. Captain Frederic Aylmer is a young (and I'm assuming relatively handsome) relation of Mrs. Winterfield (the aunt-like figure to Clara). He is the one who inherits her estate. She really wanted Clara and Frederic to marry one another. She spoke often about how much she wanted these two to marry. Days after her death, Clara receives a proposal of sorts from Frederic. The other potential "savior" is Will Belton. He is a distant cousin. He is the one who will be inheriting Clara's father's estate. He visits. Unlike Mr. Collins (from Pride and Prejudice) he is charming and likable and within weeks--if not days--Clara and her father LOVE him. He loves, loves, loves Clara. He does. He seeks permission to marry her. Clara's father thinks that would be lovely. What a good son he'd be! He also proposes to Clara.

Which man is right for Clara? Which proposal will she accept? Will she have a happily ever after?

It was oh-so-easy for me to have a favorite! I adore Will Belton. I do. I just LOVE him. I enjoyed the characters in this one so very much. I loved getting to spend so much time with Clara. This is one of Trollope's "simple" novels. Instead of having three or more couples to keep up with, or, three or more stories to follow since not all stories may end up in romance, readers just get treated to one fully developed story. There are more characters, of course. We meet Clara's closest friend and her husband. We meet Frederic's family. His mother is SOMETHING. I thought the characterization was great. I also thought it was a very thoughtful novel.

I would recommend Belton Estate to anyone who loves classic romances or historical romances. It is a GREAT love story.

And what did Will Belton think about his cousin, insured as he was thus supposed to be against the dangers of love? He, also, lay awake for awhile that night, thinking over this new friendship. Or rather he thought of it walking about his room, and looking out at the bright harvest moon;—for with him to be in bed was to be asleep. He sat himself down, and he walked about, and he leaned out of the window into the cool night air; and he made some comparisons in his mind, and certain calculations; and he thought of his present home, and of his sister, and of his future prospects as they were concerned with the old place at which he was now staying; and he portrayed to himself, in his mind, Clara's head and face and figure and feet;—and he resolved that she should be his wife. He had never seen a girl who seemed to suit him so well. Though he had only been with her for a day, he swore to himself that he knew he could love her. Nay;—he swore to himself that he did love her. Then,—when he had quite made up his mind, he tumbled into his bed and was asleep in five minutes.
"But, my dear, why should not he fall in love with you? It would be the most proper, and also the most convenient thing in the world."
"I hate talking of falling in love;—as though a woman has nothing else to think of whenever she sees a man."
"A woman has nothing else to think of."
"I have,—a great deal else. And so has he."
"It's quite out of the question on his part, then?"  "Quite out of the question. I'm sure he likes me. I can see it in his face, and hear it in his voice, and am so happy that it is so. But it isn't in the way that you mean. Heaven knows that I may want a friend some of these days, and I feel that I may trust to him. His feelings to me will be always those of a brother." "Perhaps so. I have seen that fraternal love before under similar circumstances, and it has always ended in the same way."
"I hope it won't end in any way between us."
"But the joke is that this suspicion, as you call it,—which makes you so indignant,—is simply a suggestion that a thing should happen which, of all things in the world, would be the best for both of you."
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. Unwritten: On To Genesis

The Unwritten Vol. 5: On to Genesis Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Back story time! Through some fairly fun hijinks (involving explosions, the Cabal, and Madame Rauch), we see more of what Wilson Taylor was up to, both in the time before Tommy Taylor, but also in how he raised Tom and Lizzie. And the Cabal kicks its game up a notch.

So it doesn’t do much to develop overall plot, but it continues to answer some questions, and the back story is awesomely f-ed up. I like it involves comics-as-literature, and I like the introduction of The Tinker--an old-timey over-the-top superhero. It answers A LOT of questions and raises even more as the world and plot really start to make sense.

Book Provided by... my local library

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43. District Days 101: How to Get an Elected Official to Your Library

By: Annie Schutte is Director of Libraries and Center for Inquiry at the Maret School in Washington, DC.

It’s August in Washington, DC–four glorious weeks when the nation’s capitol empties out as congressional staffers sneak off for vacation and their bosses head back home to shake hands, kiss babies, and maybe even visit your library. But how do you get an elected to agree to come to an event at your library? Just follow these five easy steps:

1. Remember that elected officials work for you. Members of Congress may spend a lot of time off in Washington, but they’re there to represent you and your library patrons. They get long stretches of time away from DC so that they can connect with their constituents back home. One of the best ways for them to do that is to attend local events, but they’re probably not going to come to yours unless you extend an invitation. So what are you waiting for? Find out who your elected officials are and how to contact their local offices here: http://cqrcengage.com/ala/

2. Find out when your elected officials are home. All senators and representatives have a long break in August (this year it’s August 2 – September 7), but that’s not the only time you can expect to find them working out of their local district office. The House of Representatives has a number of long breaks throughout the year, and the Senate has scheduled times for district work, as well. You can see a full schedule on the official House of Representatives calendar and the Senate calendar.

3. Send an invitation. Mail a letter to your elected official’s local office four to six weeks in advance of the event, if possible. You can start by adapting this sample invitation letter. Make sure your invitation includes detailed information about the event, including the following:

  • Date, time, and location (consider offering multiple dates to increase your chances that he or she will be available)
  • Description of the event
  • Estimated event attendance, including size and the type of audience they’ll be interacting with (teens? parents? educators?)
  • The Congressperson’s role at the event, including if you would like them to speak
  • Information about your library that illustrates the reach you have into the community
  • Incentives to attend the event such as the opportunity to meet with voters, a clear purpose (judging a contest or receiving a recognition), or inviting local media outlets
  • Your contact information so they can get in touch to set up the event

4. Follow up with a phone call. One week after you send the letter, you should follow up with a phone call to the local office. Or better yet, ask someone with a connection to the elected official or a higher-up within your library system to help you out by taking on this task.

5. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out. You may not be able to get an elected official out to your library the first time you send an invitation. It’s good practice for the next time you have an event where you think an elected official could have a role. In the meantime, consider some of these options for getting the library on their radar:

  • Add their office to your newsletter mailing list
  • Send your representative a library card if he or she doesn’t already have one
  • Email office staff articles and photos to keep them up to date on the library’s accomplishments
  • Visit the local office yourself–schedule a visit with your elected official or the local staff to talk about your library, potentially even bringing some teens or library supporters with you to talk about their experiences

Good luck planning your event! For more information and resources, visit the YALSA District Days wiki.

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44. Library Loot: Third Trip in August

New Loot:
  • The Magic Half by Annie Barrows
  • The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman
  • Friends Help Each Other by Farrah McDoogle
  • Thank You Day by Farrah McDoogle
Leftover Loot:
  • Tudors Versus Stewarts by Linda Porter  
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
  • The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  •  Death of a Dowager by Joanna Campbell Slan
  •  Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke
  • Flight by Elephant by Andrew Martin 
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.    

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. GUIDE for Silver People by Margarita Engle

One hundred years ago today, the first ship passed through the newly completed Panama Canal changing the route through the Americas forever. Although this was and is celebrated as a technological achievement, I wasn't aware of the cost in human lives and ecological impact till I read Margarita Engle's vivid and compelling novel in verse, Silver People

I was fortunate enough to read an early copy of the book and create an educator's guide for sharing the book with young readers. You can download the guide here. To whet your appetite, here are just a few components to explore.

To set the stage for reading this novel in verse, identify the time frame (1906-1914) for the story’s setting as well as the place and geographical location (Panama). Talk about what was going on in the world at this time (during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency and prior to World War I) and locate Panama and the surrounding countries (particularly Cuba and Jamaica) on a map. Look for Bottle Alley, Lake Gatun, the Chagres River, the Gaillard Cut, and the island now known as Barro Colorado extensively studied by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Look for historical photos and documents that help provide a context for understanding the building of the Panama Canal. One resource is a jackdaw of facsimiles of primary source documents available at Jackdaw.com, specifically this collection: “Panama Canal: Building the 8th Wonder of the World.” This includes many maps, blueprints, ship’s dockets, personal letters and telegrams, ledgers, health records, period postcards, etc.

As students read or listen to this novel in verse, encourage them to visualize each of the main characters and talk about what they look like, what country they are from, what language they speak, how they feel about these events, and what dreams or goals they each have. Work together to draw character sketches or find magazine or web-based images for these characters.
  1. Mateo, from Cuba (our protagonist and a canal laborer who aspires to be an artist)
  2. Anita, from Panama (an orphan and herb girl, sweetheart of Mateo)
  3. Henry,from Jamaica (digger, friend of Mateo)
  4. *John Stevens (Chief Engineer) p. 43
  5. Old Maria (surrogate mother to Anita) p. 83
  6. *Theodore Roosevelt (U.S. President) p. 95
  7. Augusto(New York scientist and artist originally from Puerto Rico) p. 115-117
  8. *George W. Goethals (Chief Engineer) p. 149
  9. *Jackson Smith (Manager) p. 151
  10. *Gertrude Beeks (Welfare Department) p. 163
  11. *Harry Franck (Census Enumerator) p. 213

(*These characters are actual historical figures.)
Students could also each choose a favorite character and read aloud the poems from her/his perspective readers theater style.

Animals of the Panama Jungle
Each of the following animals is featured with a poem from its perspective. Students can choose one of these to prepare for oral reading, researching (online) images and sound effects to accompany their reading. One helpful resource is Animals.NationalGeographic.com
  1. Army ants p. 137
  2. Bullet ants p. 138
  3. Capuchin p. 200
  4. Crocodile p. 105
  5. Giant hissing cockroach p. 104
  6. Giant swallowtail butterflies p. 201
  7. Glass frogs p. 26
  8. Howler monkeys (see separate listings)
  9. Jaguar p. 106
  10. King Vulture p. 202
  11. Monkey-eating eagle p. 58
  12. Mosquitoes p. 172
  13. Poison Dart Frogs p. 231
  14. Poison dart tadpoles p. 245
  15. Quetzal p. 244
  16. Ruby-throated hummingbird p. 136
  17. Scarlet macaws p. 230
  18. Three-toed sloth p. 59
  19. Tree Viper p. 60
  20. Vampire bats p. 173-174
  21. Violet-Green swallows p. 175
Check out the GUIDE for more information on:
  • Teaching figurative language
  • Making STEM Connections: Engineering, Machinery, Math
  • Exploring themes
  • Offering literature links

Now head on over to Heidi's place for more Poetry Friday fun.

Image credits: welldonestuff.com;history.howstuffworks.com;paho.org;a-z-animals.com;revuemag.com

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46. Good for the Brain

Want to help your students focus better during independent writing time? A recent NY Times piece by Daniel J. Levitin may hold the key to making this happen in your classroom.

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47. #33 Convenient Marriage

The Convenient Marriage. By Georgette Heyer. (1934) Read by Richard Armitage. 2010. August 2010. Naxos Audiobooks. 5 hrs. 6 minutes. [Source: Review copy]

"Lady Winwood being denied, the morning caller inquired with some anxiety for Miss Winwood, or, in fact, for any of the young ladies. In face of the rumour which had come to her ears it would be too provoking if all the Winwood ladies were to withhold themselves."

I can't do justice in my review. I just can't. This audio book is perfect. Not practically perfect. But actually perfect. (Dare I say that Richard Armitage and Georgette Heyer go together better than chocolate and caramel?) Those five hours, well, they feel so delightfully delicious and satisfying. (An audio sample is available from Naxos Audiobooks).

The book itself is one of Georgette Heyer's best. I loved it the first time I read it. And I've appreciated it more with each rereading. (My first review is from 2009; my second review is from 2010; my third review is from 2013.) Best is a tricky word, I admit. Every single Heyer fan has strong opinions on what her "best" books are. And reading is subjective. And opinions can and do change over time. I know I struggle with having a favorite with Heyer BECAUSE whatever book I just read (by Heyer) I may just say is my favorite or best. That's one of the reasons why, last year, I wanted to challenge myself to read ALL of her romances in one year so that I could have them all fresh in my mind and decide--though not decide once and for all--which books were best, which books were definitely my favorites.

Heyer created dozens of heroes and heroines. But Lord Rule (Marcus) and Horatia (Horry) are probably among my favorite and best. They make a great couple!!! But the novel has great overall characterization. There are many characters to love! And in some cases, characters that you can't help loving-to-hate. Not many romance novels spend enough time with other characters, with "minor characters," so it is always wonderful to find.

From my first review:
We meet the Winwood family early on in The Convenient Marriage. We spy on them (in a way) as Mrs. Maulfrey comes to call--or should I say get the juicy gossip on the latest news in the family. Elizabeth, the oldest sister is upset and rightfully so. Her mother, Lady Winwood, has just agreed to an engagement between her and the rich Earl Rule. The problem? Elizabeth is in love with a poor (at least relatively speaking) soldier, a Mr. Edward Heron. Charlotte, the middle sister, doesn't see what the big deal is. After all, in her way of thinking marriage doesn't amount to much. She has no interest--so she claims--in becoming someone's wife. But the youngest sister, Horatia feels her sister's pain. And she's determined--though she stutters or stammers and has thick eyebrows--to do something to solve this dilemma. She gives Mr. Heron her word that she will not let their hearts be broken. Her plan is quite bold and quite wonderful. By that I mean it is deliciously entertaining. The first few chapters of this one are so full of promise. Especially the second and third chapters. If there was an award for the best-ever-second-chapter-in-a-book, I'd nominate The Convenient Marriage.

However, the book soon settles down. As you can probably guess from the title, it is about a marriage--a husband and wife. Marcus Drelincourt (a.k.a. The Earl, or Marcus, or simply 'Rule') and his wife, Horatia (or Horry). And since the marriage occurs early in the book--by page sixty--the reader knows that there must be some drama in the works. And indeed there is. There's the former (and somewhat still current) mistress who's jealous and spiteful, Lady Massey. There's the cousin-who-would-inherit-it-all-if-only-Rule-would-hurry-up-and-die, Mr. Crosby Drelincourt, a cousin. And the villainous and cold-hearted Lord Lethbridge. All three of these people add to the drama--each in their own little way. All want to get revenge on Rule. All want to see the happy little couple become miserable. And oh the plotting that goes on that tries to break up this pair!

Horatia's closest friend is her brother, Pelham. Though he's a bit of a gambler--and often an unlucky one at that--he's got a good heart. I don't know if it was Heyer's intent to make him so likable, so enjoyable, but I just really liked him in spite of his flaws. He truly had his sister's best interests at heart. And she does need someone to look out for her with all the villains roaming about the town (or should that be ton) out for revenge.

None of the characters in The Convenient Marriage are perfect. All are flawed in one way or another. But the relationships are genuinely enjoyable, and are quite well done. The atmosphere of The Convenient Marriage--much like Heyer's other novels--is so rich, so detailed, so luxuriously drawn. The society. The fashion. The wit. The charm. The dangers of being unique in a world where conformity reigns. The delicate balance between being respectable, being boring, and being the Talk or Toast of the ton.
From my second review:
Listening to the novel (abridged though it may be) gave me a greater appreciation for Georgette Heyer. Why? While I've always appreciated Heyer's dialogue--it being a chance for her characters to be witty, charming, or romantic--I appreciate it even more having heard it performed. The wit seems funnier. The action scenes even more dramatic. The love scenes even more romantic. I wouldn't have thought it possible for one narrator to convey the chemistry between two characters--but with Armitage narrating it works really well.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. #637 – Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle


Flora and the Flamingo

by Molly Idle
Chronicle Books        2013
978-1-4521-1006-6                             CALDECOTT HONOR BOOKtop-10-use-eb-trans
Age 4 to 8       32 pages

“Friendship is a beautiful dance. In this innovative wordless book, a tentative partnership blooms into an unlikely friendship between a girl named Flora and a graceful flamingo. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Artist Molly Idle has created a story full of humor and heart, with emotions that leap off the page, and memorable characters who are worthy of countless standing ovations.”


A flamingo, peacefully standing one-legged in the water, turns its head to look behind it and eyes one little girl, named Flora, standing one-legged in the water, imitating the flamingo, who then turns her head to look behind her.


Do you remember repeating everything your older sibling said or mimicking every movement, just because you could? Flora mimics the flamingo, but not to get the flamingo’s goat. The little girl, in her pink one-piece swimsuit and pink flowered swim cap, takes on the flamingo’s graceful movements and the two begin a beautiful duet.

Words would undeniably be a distraction in the story of Flora and the Flamingo. Movement flows from a variety of flip pages attached atop Flora or the flamingo on several of the pages. For example, Flora imitates the flamingo’s stance:  standing on one leg, head tucked under a wing. Flip down the flaps and the stances change. Both dancers remain on one leg, but now each twists her head toward the other, possibly checking to ensure the other is still there.


The flamingo is Flora’s mirror, or maybe Flora is the flamingo’s mirror. Each bend, each stretch, each turn, and each look magically appear on both characters at the same time. Flora and the Flamingo will make you giggle and grin. Young girls will love the mystical dance between these two unlikeliest of friends. Before a friendship can be established, the flamingo LETS Flora have it! The shock of flamingo’s sharp bleat flips Flora over and up, landing her on her rear, unhappy. Flora turns her back, refusing to play any longer, but the flamingo finds this worse than being shadowed. It offers Flora a wing, which Flora thinks about before allowing flamingo to help her to her feet.  (Are these two friends or siblings?)

At the moment of friendship, when Flora and the flamingo become dancing partners instead of solo acts, the spread takes on a drastic change. The two begin together on one page. They had begun their awkward dance with the flamingo firmly staying on the left page and Flora on the opposing right page of the spread. Now both are on the right page, figuratively and physically. Their movements become wider, and joyous. The two fly across the spread, smiling as they float, as if on ice. Then there is a big finale, as all great ballets should have. The finale is a wonderful dance only Flora and her flamingo can perform, together in the same spotlight, four pages in length. BRAVO!


Girls will love this graceful dance between friends, especially those little girls starting their first ballet lessons, wearing their pink tutus, and pink leotards, and some with pink ballet shoes, while others still will have pink ribbons in their hair. Flora is at her first class and flamingo is the instructor. This makes a wonderful baby-shower gift, when the parents-to-be know they have a girl on the way.  Flora and the Flamingo is a beautiful book, with brilliant illustrations that float across the pages. It is no surprise Flora and the Flamingo became a Caldecott Honor Book. The medal winner must have been an amazingly illustrated picture book to beat out these two graceful dancers.

FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO. Story and Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Molly Idle. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase  Flora and the Flamingo at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryiTunesChronicle Booksyour favorite bookstore.


Learn more about Flora and the Flamingo HERE.

Meet the author / illustrator, Molly Idle, at her website:      http://idleillustration.com/

Find more books that are luscious at the Chronicle Books website:    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/


Also by Molly Idle













Flora and the Penguin                    2014

Flora and the Penguin


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: ballet, birds, Caldecott Honnor Book, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, dance, flamingo, girl's picture book, Molly Idle, penguins, picture book, poetry in motion

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49. Hurray for Another Year of Intellectual Freedom!

ALSC Intellectual Freedom Commitee members are looking forward to a third year of BBW 2013contributing to the ALSC Blog. Our blog posts are usually scheduled for the third Saturday of the month and we have a whole pile of interesting topic ideas to work through.

The ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee serves as a liaison between ALSC and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee and all other groups within ALA concerned with intellectual freedom; we advise the division on matters before the Office of Intellectual Freedom and their implication for library service to children; we make recommendations to the ALA IF Committee for changes to policies regarding library service to children; and we promote in-service and continuing education.

This year we are planning to follow our blog posts with an intellectual freedom themed discussion on ALSC-L and we are looking at some options for intellectual freedom trainings for youth services librarians. We have a busy year ahead of us!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns for the ALSC IF Committee. We would love to hear from you!

Heather Acerro, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair

0 Comments on Hurray for Another Year of Intellectual Freedom! as of 8/16/2014 2:14:00 AM
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50. If You Ask Them

Stop lurking and start writing. It is the single most important thing you can do as a teacher of writing. It matters.

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