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<<May 2015>>
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1. Take action with #VLLD 15, and let your voice be heard!

As most of us can’t physically travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in National Library Legislative Day (NLLD)ALSC’s Advocacy and Legislation Committee has developed resources so you can contact Congressional leaders from home!

Check out these easy-to-use resources for taking action from your library community during the week of May 4-8, 2015.

Creating a Better Future Button

Image courtesy of ALSC

Contact Your U.S. Senators and Representatives 

Talking Points to Use with Legislators 

Letter to Congress Template 

Sample VLLD 15 Tweets

The post Take action with #VLLD 15, and let your voice be heard! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Reading Roundup: April 2015

By the Numbers
Teen: 7
Tween: 5
Children: 3

Review Copies: 6
Library: 7

Teen: Dead to Me by Mary McCoy
When the hospital calls, Alice is beyond astonished, because she hasn't seen or heard from her idolized sister Annie in four years. This was the very best kind of Hollywood noir mystery and I felt like I should be reading it with a cigarette and a bottle of scotch at my elbow.
Tween: P.S. Be Eleven / Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
Okay, these are two different books, but I have to count them together, if only because I picked up the second as soon as I was done with the first, just to spend more time with the Gauthier sisters as they learn more about themselves, their family, and their world.
Children: Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty
Sniffle. I teared up over this meditation on fathers and sons, and growing up without each other.

Because I Want To Awards
Eye-Opening: None of the Above by IW Gregorio
While it could veer into the clinical (every so often it sounded like a pamphlet on AIS, the biological trait that makes Kristin intersex), this was also notable for the way that friends and family reacted, and not always in the way that you'd think.
Fascinatingly Flawed: Lauren in Endangered by Lamar Giles
This one stayed on my TBR list because of the biracial main character, but I tore through it because of what was going on inside her. While Lauren thinks she's a Robin Hood, her actions were almost as reprehensible as those of her "secret admirer." Part of the fascination of this book was how she came to understand that.
How Did I Not Know This?: Candy Bomber by Michael O. Tunnell
First off, I didn't know anything about the Berlin Airlift, an audacious campaign to feed the people of West Berlin in the face of Russian blockades in 1948 and 1949. Second of all, I had no idea about the pilots who dropped candy and chocolate for the children of West Berlin. I loved this story, and even more so for being true.
Still Gathering My Thoughts: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
I just finished this last night and it's one of those that has to sit for awhile. Initial thoughts? Dark, sexy, tangled, and with some fascinating riffs on belief and religion.

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3. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #430: Featuring Frank Viva (sorta)

Dear kickers, I’m battling an ugly stomach bug this weekend, and since it’s best to be horizontal, I’ve got a short post today. I was going to feature the work of another illustrator, but I’ll have to do that later this week, since it was a much longer post.

I reviewed Frank Viva’s Outstanding in the Rain (Little, Brown, April 2015) over at BookPage (that is here), and I had planned on securing some of the beautiful spreads from the book to show you all. But again … you know, dastardly bug.

Instead, to keep things short so that I can lie back down, I’ll point you to these recent and quite wonderful posts at other places, posts all about the book — and with lots of art.

* Post at 32 Pages
* Post at Brain Pickings
* Write-up at the New York Times

Please do tell me: What are YOUR kicks this week?

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4. 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive

Youth services library staff have summer reading on the brain this time of year. My library is always looking for ways to make our summer reading program  as accessible and inclusive as possible. Renee Grassi’s post inspired me to create this list, 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive!

  1. Start by becoming familiar with materials in alternative formats. Examples include large print books or braille and audio materials.

  2. For patrons seeking sensory experiences while reading, look into having volunteers create tactile books. This can even be a craft program during the summer so that kids can create their own original books to interact with.

  3. Allow flexibility within the program when measuring success. For some readers, it may be more encouraging to define each “level” not by number of books read but amount of time spent reading or being read to.

  4. Determine if you can provide your summer reading program through the mail. My library mails braille and audio materials via the USPS to all our patrons. For our summer reading program, we send prizes, event calendars and more to the youth who have registered. This way, patrons who can’t visit the library can still take part in the program.

  5. Communicate with special education staff  at your local schools to see about outreach opportunities. These contacts will benefit you long after the conclusion of your summer reading program.

  6. Think of ways the summer reading program’s theme can be inclusive. This year, we’re focusing on heroes of all kinds. For the children at my library, we took this idea beyond Hollywood superheroes. For our patrons, a hero may be a teacher of the visually impaired, a service animal or the postal carrier who delivers their books to them.

  7. Review the way that participants report their progress. Are they using a log? Is there a website online they can make updates to? Make sure you provide options so that all kids feel comfortable registering and updating you on their progress!

  8. If your summer reading program involves storytimes, select books for an inclusive audience. There are many posts on the blog with great suggestions (here and here for starters) and also lists on Goodreads, like this one.

  9. When selecting the prizes your library uses for summer reading, make sure they are as inclusive as possible. In the past, my library has taken into consideration how tactile a prize is, if the object is high contrast and if it suits a wide age range.

  10. Communication is key. Use flyers and word of mouth to spread the word. Make sure your community knows that your library is a place where children of all abilities can take in the fun of summer reading.

  11. Bonus tip: Make sure you have fun while making your programs inclusive! :)

Do you have any suggestions to add to the list? What does your library do to increase its inclusiveness?


Courtesy photo from Jordan Boaz

Jordan Boaz is the Children’s Librarian for the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, a branch of the New York Public Library. She regularly plans innovative, inclusive programming and outreach for children with disabilities. Jordan is experienced with story times, summer reading programs and reader advisory. She currently serves on the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers committee. She can be reached at jordanboaz@nypl.org.


Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

The post 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Canonicity and an American Literature Survey Course

This term, I taught an American literature survey for the first time since I was a high school teacher, and since the demands of a college curriculum and schedule are quite different from those of a high school curriculum and schedule, it was a very new course for me. Indeed, I've never even taken such a course, as I was successful at avoiding all general surveys when I was an undergrad.

As someone who dislikes the nationalism endemic to the academic discipline of literature, I had a difficult time figuring out exactly what sort of approach to take to this course — American Literature 1865-present — when it was assigned to me. I wanted the course to be useful for students as they work their way toward other courses, but I didn't want to promote and strengthen the assumptions that separate literatures by national borders and promote it through nationalistic ideologies.

I decided that the best approach I could take would be to highlight the forces of canonicity and nationalism, to put the question of "American literature" at the forefront of the course. This would help with another problem endemic to surveys: that there is far more material available than can be covered in 15 weeks. The question of what we should read would become the substance of the course.


The first choice I made was to assign the appropriate volumes of the Norton Anthology of American Literature, not because it has the best selection, but because it is the most powerfully canonizing anthology for the discipline. Though the American canon of literature is not a list, the table of contents of the Norton Anthology is about as close as we can get to having that canon as a definable, concrete object.

Then I wanted to add a work that was highly influential and well known but also not part of the general, academic canon of American literature — something for contrast. For that, I picked A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the Library of America edition, which has an excellent, thorough introduction by Junot Díaz. I also wanted the students to see how critical writings can bolster canonicity, and so I added The Red Badge of Courage in the Norton Critical Edition. Next, I wanted something that would puzzle the students more, something not yet canonized but perhaps with the possibility of one day being so, and for that I chose Wild Seed by Octavia Butler (who is rapidly becoming an academic mainstay, particularly with her novel Kindred). Finally, I thought the Norton anthology's selection of plays was terrible, so I added Suzan-Lori Parks's Red Letter Plays, which are both in direct dialogue with the American literary canon and throwing a grenade at it.

The result was this syllabus. As with any first time teaching a course, I threw a lot against the wall to see what might stick. Overall, it worked pretty well, though if I teach the course again, I will change quite a bit.

The students seemed to like the idea of canonicity and exploring it, perhaps because half of them are English Teaching majors who may one day be arbiters of the canon in their own classrooms. Thinking about why we read what we read, and how we form opinions about the respectability of certain texts over others, was something they seemed to enjoy, and something most hadn't had a lot of opportunity to do in a classroom setting before.

Starting the course with three articles we could return to throughout the term was one of the best choices I made, and the three all worked well: Katha Pollitt's “Why We Read: Canon to the Right of Me” from The Nation and Reasonable Creatures; George E. Haggerty's “The Gay Canon” from American Literary History; and Arthur Krystal's “What We Lose If We Lose the Canon” from The Chronicle of Higher Education. We had to spend some real time working through the ideas in these essays, but they were excellent touchstones in that they each offered quite a different view of the canon and canonicity.

I structured the course in basically two halves: the first half was mostly prescriptive on my part: read this, this, and this and talk about it in class. It was a way to build up a common vocabulary, a common set of references. But the second half of the course was much more open. The group project, in which students researched and proposed a unit for an anthology of American literature of their own, worked particularly well because it forced them to make choices in ways they haven't had to make choices before, and to see the difficulty of it all. (One group that said their anthology unit was going to emphasize "diversity" ended up with a short story section of white men plus Zora Neale Hurston. "How are you defining diversity for this section?" I asked. They were befuddled. It was a good moment because it highlighted for them how easy it is to perpetuate the status quo if you don't pay close attention and actively try to work against that status quo [assuming that working against the status quo is what you want to do. I certainly didn't require it. They could've said their anthology was designed to uphold white supremacy; instead, they said their goal was to be diverse, by which they meant they wanted to include works by women and people of color.])

Originally, there were quite a few days at the end of the term listed on the schedule as TBA. We lost some of these because we had three classes cancelled for snow in the first half of the term, and I had to push a few things back. But there was still a bit of room for some choice of what to read at the end, even if my grand vision of the students discovering things through the group project that they'd like to spend more time on in class didn't quite pan out. I should have actually built that into the group project: Choose one thing from your anthology unit to assign to the whole class for one of our TBA days. The schedule just didn't work out, though, and so I fell back on asking for suggestions, which inevitably led to people saying they were happy to read anything but poetry. (They hate poetry, despite all my best efforts to show them how wonderful poetry can be. The poetry sections were uniformly the weakest parts of the proposed anthology units, and class discussions of even the most straightforward poems are painfully difficult. I love teaching poetry, so this makes me terribly sad. Next time I teach this course, I'm building even more poetry into it! Bwahahahahaaaa!) A couple of students are big fans of popular postmodernist writers (especially David Foster Wallace), so they wanted to make sure we read Pynchon's "Entropy" before the course ended, and we're doing that for our last day.

Though they haven't turned in their term papers, I've read their proposals, and it's interesting to see what captured their interest. Though we read around through a bunch of different things in the Norton anthology, at least half of the students are gravitating toward Red Badge of Courage, Wild Seed, or The Red Letter Plays. They have some great topics, but I was surprised to see that most didn't want to go farther afield, or to dig into one of the areas of the Norton that we hadn't spent much time on. Partly, this is probably the calculus of getting work done at the end of the term: go with what you are not only most interested in, but most confident you know what the person grading your paper thinks about the thing you're writing about. I suppose I could have required that their paper be about something we haven't read for class, but at the same time, I feel like we flew through everything and there's tons more to be discussed and investigated in any of the texts. They've come up with good topics and are doing good research on them all, so I'm really not going to complain.

In the future, I might be tempted to cut Wild Seed, even though the students liked it a lot, and it's a book I enjoy teaching. It just didn't fit closely enough into our discussions of canonicity to be worth spending the amount of time we spent on it, and in a course like this, with such a broad span of material and such a short amount of time to fit it all in, the readings should be ruthlessly focused. It would have been better to do the sort of "canon bootcamp" that Crane and Burroughs allowed and then apply the ideas we learned through those discussions to a bunch of different materials in the Norton. We did that to some extent, but with the snow days we got really off kilter. I especially wish we'd had more time to discuss two movements in particular: the Harlem Renaissance and Modernism. Each got one day, and that wasn't nearly enough. My hope was that the groups would investigate those movements (and others) more fully for their anthology projects, but they didn't.

One of our final readings was Delany's "Inside and Outside the Canon", which is dense and difficult for undergrads but well worth the time and effort. In fact, I'd be tempted to do it a week or so earlier if possible, because we needed time to apply some of its ideas more fully before students plunged into the term paper. I wonder, in fact, if it would be better as an ending to the first half of the course than the second... In any case, it's a keeper, but definitely needs time for discussion and working through.

If I teach the course again, I would certainly keep the Crane/Burroughs pairing. It worked beautifully, since the similarities and differences between the books, and between the writers of those books, were fruitful for discussion, and the Díaz intro to Princess of Mars is a gold mine. We could have benefitted from one more day with each book, in fact, since there was so much to talk about: constructions of masculinity, race, heroism; literary style; "realism"...

I would be tempted to add a graphic narrative of some sort to the course. The Norton anthology includes a few pages from Maus, but I would want a complete work. I'd need to think for a while about exactly what would be effective, but including comics of some sort would add another interesting twist to questions of canonicity and "literature".

Would I stick with the question of canonicity as a lens for a survey class in the future? Definitely. It's open enough to allow all sorts of ways of structuring the course, but it's focused enough to give some sense of coherence to a survey that could otherwise feel like a bunch of random texts strung together in chronological order for no apparent reason other than having been written by people somehow associated with the area of the planet currently called the United States of America.

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6. #687 – The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman & Deborah Zemke

Quick note: Not surprisingly, the motherboard died one last time, just days after arriving home from its last death. I am at the library and running out of time. Please excuse the unfinished post. I will get all images and links up as son as I can. I hope you enjoy the review, such as it is. ~Sue


The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake
Written by Robin Newman
Illustrated by Deborah Zemke
Creston Books          2015
40 pages            Age 7—9
“When food goes missing on Ed’s farm, Detectives Wilcox and Griswold do what it takes to track down the thieves. In this case, Miss Rabbit’s carrot cake has disappeared. Has it been stolen? Or eaten? Or both? Who dunnit?” [publisher]

Oh, my, a carrot cake has gone missing and Miss Rabbit, besides being crumbed by cake from head to toe (she did bake the now missing carrot cake), is hopping mad. Good thing the MFI’s are on the case, with Captain Griswold and Detective Wilcox as lead investigators. These two small Missing Food Investigator mice may have experience, but the layered Case of the Missing Carrot Cake just might be unsolvable.

I know detectives do not want to be viewed as cute, but cute is an apt word. From their gruff-looking MFI badge pictures, to their droll 1950’s cop-speech—think Friday of Dragnet—Griswold and Wilcox are all business, but adorable. The two made me laugh each time they spoke. Kids may not know who Sargent Friday was, but if a parent were to channel Sargent Friday while reading Detective Wilcox’s story, their children will at least get part of the joke.

“It was 10:00 Monday morning. The captain and I were working the day shift when we got our first call . . . Every day food goes missing from the farm. Sometimes it’s lost. Sometimes it’s stolen. Sometimes it just runs away.”

The first four chapters introduce the usual suspects: Fowler, the Owl (Alibi. He was picking up his dinner in the field); Porcini, the Pig (a convicted corn robber, he was with Miss Rabbit—she refused a refreshing hot cup of slop); Hot Dog, a dog (evidence is found! Hot Dog is, according to Wilcox, “in as pickle”); and . . . uh, oh. Where did suspect number four hide? I know there is a fourth, but, unlike Detective Wilcox, I am no missing food investigator.

The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake will delight readers. Kids will love the goofy characters, the illustrations, and the oft-used humor. Adults will also laugh, and sometimes groan, but always appreciate the humor and Wilcox’s Dragnet performance.

“Just give us the facts and nothing but the facts . . . “

The illustrations enhance the story on every page. The short chapters, just right for readers learning to read on their own, and illustrations that make each page come alive, kids will begin viewing reading as entertainment, rather than something one only does in school. Each of the seven characters is well-developed with distinctive personalities. I love Hot Dog, who towers over the detectives, yet gives them all due respect. Twists do occur, so do not get cozy with your solution to this case.

Will the MFI solve The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake? Will the residents of Ed’s Farm ever be safe from bakery thieves? To find out, check out Newman’s debut chapter book. I hope there are more cases to solve. The MFI detectives can delight readers again and again . . . they just need missing food to find.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING CARROT CAKE. Text copyright © 2015 by Robin Newman. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Deborah Zemke. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Creston Books,

Purchase The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake at Amazon—Book Depository—iTunes—Creston Books.

Learn more about The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake HERE.
Meet the author, Robin Newman, at her website:
Meet the illustrator, Deborah Zemke, at her website:
Find more chapter books at publisher, Creston Books, website: http://www.crestonbooks.com

Review Section: word count = 473

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

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Chapter Book, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Reluctant Readers Tagged: beginning to read on your own, book for boys, Creston Books, Deborah Zemke, Dragnet, mystery, Robin Newman, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, whimsical, witty

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7. Weekend Links: Children’s Book (and FUN) Galore!


What a busy week it has been with even more activity, books and special events to come! As you all know, I like to share some of my favorite links from fellow bloggers and moms that I encounter over the course of the week. Here are my top picks for this week:

{As a reading and play advocate, this post makes my heart SING!} 10 things kids wont forget from Learning and Exploring Through Play

Learn through play

This weather makes me think ROSES! Check out my Secret Garden Wednesday: Rosapalooza blog post from this week:


10 Biographies For Kids About Women Scientists and Explorers from I’m Not the Nanny


“The World Is as Big or as Small as You Make It” at Kid World Citizen

The World Is As Big Or As Small As You Make It Documentary- Kid World Citizen

8 Great Ways to Get FREE Books to Build A Child’s Library  via Growing Book By Book

Looking for free books for kids to build your child's library?  Here are 8 super clever ideas for finding books for free.

Recipe to Grow Adventurous Kids via @PragmaticMom

Recipe to Grow Adventurous Kids

{GOOD NEWS!} Libraries Are Paving The Way For Cultural Unity  via @HuffPostArts

What great book finds did YOU encounter this week?

Homeschooling can be complicated and frustrating, especially if you are overloaded with information. The good news is that you don’t have to figure it out alone. Donna Ashton’s The Waldorf Home School Handbook is a simple and step-by-step guide to creating and understanding a Waldorf-inspired homeschool plan. Within the pages of this all-in-one homeschooling guide parents will find information, samples of lesson plans and curriculum, helpful hints and the secrets behind the three Areas for Optimum Learning. Join Donna as she guides you through the Waldorf method and reveals how to educate your children in a nurturing and creative environment. Visit the Waldorf Homeschool Handbook info page HERE.

The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook

The post Weekend Links: Children’s Book (and FUN) Galore! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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8. Best Selling Picture Books | May 2015

This month our best selling picture book from our affiliate store remains the same. It's the gorgeously illustrated Sleep Like a Tiger, written by Mary Lougue and pictures by Pamela Zagarenski.

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9. Fog Diver Giveaway

This has been the Week of ARCs.  I received TWO copies of Fog Diver by Joel Ross and I'd love to gift one to somebody.

Chess is a tether diver.  He dives from an airborne salvage raft into the Fog that covers the earth. The Fog eventually poisons humans exposed to it, forcing people to live on the sides and tops of mountains.  The remains of human civilization lie beneath the Fog, just waiting to be retrieved by tether divers like Chess.  But Chess is different.  One of his eyes has Fog swirling inside it.  He hides this disfigurement the best he can with the help of the salvage raft's crew - Hazel, bossy, clever and brave; Swedish, the best pilot a raft could have but a wee bit paranoid; and Bea, the sweetest little gearhead around.  Chess's eye makes him the prey of the evil Lord Kodoc of the Roof-toppers and puts his crew mates and their foster mother, Mrs. E, in danger of capture, slavery or worse.

Set far in the future - the origin of the Fog is technical and strained this reader's credulity - the crew's conversation is peppered with pop culture references from the 20th and 21st centuries.  Ross mixes facts and fiction in these references in a humorous diversion from the fast paced action of the plot.

The crew flies, crashes and tumbles from one dangerous situation to another for the ENTIRE book.  And there are enough questions left at the end of the book to make a sequel, maybe more than, one a probability.  I say, a sequel is a necessity.

Ross designs a clever future world, laid waste by technology run amok.  Chess and his crew are a likeable close-knit family and Ross gives each character specific talents and personalities. 

Young readers won't care how the Fog began.  They WILL LOVE all the action and last-second escapes in this book.

If you'd like a copy of Fog Diver, which, alas, does not have any art or cover design on it, please comment below.   The book is due out on May 26th.  I will do my best to get it to you before then.

This giveaway offer ends on May 18th.  Remember, I choose the winner by putting your comments in the Oracular Yogurt Container and picking one.  So comment away!!

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10. Added to the List: The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon

Yesterday I got this book in the mail.  I had read the synopsis of this on Edelweiss and put it on my fall order for my library, but didn't add it to my TBR list because it just didn't seem to click for me.

There is just something that changes when you have the physical book in your hands.

First of all, it is a really amazing cover...illustrated by Marla Frazee, one of my favorite illustrators.  I love the colors and the font.  The cover reminds me a bit of Love Ruby Lavender, one of my favorite middle grade reads.  That script font is used throughout the book and I just love how it looks!
Re-reading the synopsis made me tear up a little bit so this book got added to my TBR and moved way up to the top!

Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

Ivy and Paul hatch a secret plan to find Ivy’s missing mom and say good-bye to the space shuttle in this evocative, heartfelt novel reminiscent of Each Little Bird that Sings and Because of Winn-Dixie. Ivy Green’s mama has gone off with a charismatic preacher called Hallelujah Dave to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida. At least that’s where Ivy and her dad think Mama is. But since the church has no website or phone number and Mama left no forwarding address, Ivy’s not entirely sure. She does know she’s missing Mama. And she’s starting to get just a little worried about her, too. Paul Dobbs, one of Ivy’s schoolmates, is also having a crummy summer. Paul has always wanted to be an astronaut, and now that NASA’s space shuttle program has been scrapped, it looks like his dream will never get off the ground. Although Ivy and Paul are an unlikely pair, it turns out they are the perfect allies for a runaway road trip to Florida—to look for Mama, to kiss the Space Shuttle good-bye, and maybe, just maybe, regain their faith in the things in life that are most important.

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11. One more time....please

Happy Saturday everyone and welcome to Storywraps.  So glad you can join me this morning.  Today we have our resident guest blogger, Natalie Finnigan here with us.  She is unwrapping something, that I am sure if you have kids, you will be very familiar with....

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12. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | May 2015

It's true TCBR readers are fans of Greek myths! That's why, this month, the National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology is The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book.

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13. Putting Into Practice What I Learned about Authentic Information Writing From Ralph Fletcher

The Monday morning after Ralph Fletcher’s presentation on Authentic Information Writing at Vassar College, I gathered my sixth graders at our reading area and shared what I had heard and learned....

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14. Ice Cream Summer (2015)

Ice Cream Summer. Peter Sis. 2015. [May] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Dear Grandpa, Thank you for your letter. So far, it's been a delicious summer. I am very busy. But don't worry, I am not forgetting about school. I read every day. I am conquering big words like tornado and explosion!

Premise/Plot: A young boy assures his grandpa--via letter--that his summer is going well, and that he's still hard at work learning many things (math, history, cartography, to name just a few). Readers see that all relates back to ice cream in one way or another making Ice Cream Summer a fitting title for the book. This young boy LOVES his ice cream.

My thoughts: I like this one very much! Though I can't enjoy ice cream, I am glad that others can. And the hero of Ice Cream Summer certainly ADORES ice cream. I imagine that every day of his summer involves ice cream. The word play was cute and fun, for the most part. For example, "As you can see, Grandpa, I've been working hard all summer (though I always take a break on sundaes)."

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Week in Review: April 26 - May 2

From May:

Lady Thief. A.C. Gaughen. 2014. Walker Books. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Green Eggs and Ham. Dr. Seuss. 1960. Random House. 62 pages. [Source: Library]
Ice Cream Summer. Peter Sis. 2015. [May] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Completely Clementine. Sara Pennypacker. 2015. Disney-Hyperion. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
From April:
Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen. 2012. Walker. 292 pages. [Source: Library]
Charlotte's Web. E.B. White. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1952. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Gone Away Lake. Elizabeth Enright. 1957. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
The Devil's Arithmetic. Jane Yolen. 1988. Penguin. 170 pages. [Source: Bought]
17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History. Andrew Morton. 2015. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
Dragon Spear. Jessica Day George. 2009. Bloomsbury USA. 248 pages. [Source: Library]A Travelogue of the Interior: Finding Your Voice and God's Heart in the Psalms. Karen Dabaghian. 2015. David C. Cook. 274 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Experiencing the New Birth: Studies in John 3. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 2015. Crossway. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Prince Caspian. C.S. Lewis. 1951. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's recommendation(s):

I loved rereading Scarlet and Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen. My review of the third book will be coming soon!

I loved rereading Charlotte's Web.

Devil's Arithmetic is a compelling read; I loved it more than Number the Stars. A lot more. So I definitely recommend it.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. I May Not Be Back For A Good While.

Completely washed out and exhausted so I may have been a bit snappy with some people of late.

I've written about comic book geek chic and how calling yourself a "nerd" is trendy -fashionable.  So, I have had three emails from companies addressing me as "Nerdblogger" to which my response WAS snappy and I pointed out I have read comics since I was about six years old and I'm now...58(?) so I was a comicker before their parents were probably born and I'm not jumping onto the comics bandwagon as a trendy.

I got one apology and an explanation that they throw the word around so much because they publish books that are quirky and nerdy.

I note a lot -a lot- more women are jumping onto this whole "nerdster" thing.  One in a blog stated that it was her way of trying to break into "pop culture and a media career". pfah! 

That is WHY I'll watch comicbookgirl19 vlogs because she has been into the whole thing before it became trendy.  You can check out her videos on You Tube -a link on the blog roll.

Now, I do apologise but THIS is the sort of thing I'm talking about and it is so OVER THE TOP it gave me a migraine. 

You see what I mean, right?  It's like an advert for "Geek Gear".

Women into comics, my mother used to read through them, I have never seen a problem with.  Women have always read comics but it is that Big Bang Theory syndrome AGAIN: "Girls do not go into comic shops!"  And if they do, even if they are "not pretty" (WTF???) they get stared at.  I actually pointed out to several regulars in the comic shops I used to go into (I've been dry three years now) that it was good to see women not just going for Manga books.  "What women?" I was asked.  "I've not seen any in here" I'm told. The last person said that I pointed to a group of three women buying comics and he seemed taken aback!

And they are women NOT "girls".  Sorry, I came from the time when women were fighting for equal rights and to not be called "girls" (basic biology -sorry, boys, hit puberty and you are an adult).

I know, I'm writing this and no one cares.  I'm sure women read this blog but why back the old man up, right?

I am a comicker.  I am NOT a "geek" or "nerd" -my name is on University and wildlife conference technical papers FFS.

I may not be back for a looooooooooooooong time.

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17. Promotion Tip

A free, easy to implement, promotion tip is to call your book by its name where talking about it.


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18. Best Books of April 2015

April 2015: 2 books and scripts read

With much of April spent onstage, backstage, and on sound stages, I did not have a lot of time to read. (Or sleep, but what else is new?)

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19. Ebay Comic Traders -Time To Name and Shame The Bad Ones ...

....In My Case to Around 2-4000 readers a day!

I made some Ebay purchases from a dealer called  hp.*saucy and it was a nightmare any comic fan/collector will understand.

"I received Avengers 400 yesterday, bent double. Bagged but no backing board. The outer packaging (I should NOT call it "packaging") was one side a piece of breakfast cereal box card and the other a flimsy piece of light corrugated card -held together by brown tape. I thought a one off and today I get Young All Stars in the SAME 'packaging' -again bent and twisted.  This is NOT how you package comics -cheap but sturdy packaging is available. ."

The response to this?

"Sorry to hear that the packages sent to you were damaged in the post. I consider cardboard backing the best way to protect comics, but our opinions clearly differ. I apologise if the packaging was inadequate on these occasions. The damage you describe does sound as if excessive force had been applied.
Kind regards,

So....now if I try to order something I get a message that I do not meet the sellers "criteria" for customers.  Ask why...nothing.

Seriously, you DO NOT take someone's money for a flimsy comic and send it with cereal box cardboard and then hissy fit because you get a complaint.

Destination Venus is another Ebay dealer I've bought from. Even a single comic gets a sturdy cardboard Comic Book Flash Mailer packaging.  THAT is how you send a comic -not in a brown A4 envelope, some birthday wrapping paper or worse.  I mean one of these:


Silver Acre comics.  Well, I kept getting the same message that I never met their criteria. No email response so I asked Ebay what was going on?  They told me it was the trader's doing.  I contacted the trader -yeah.  They'd sell to me. Off Ebay.  And they did.  Now? Still getting the same messages and they do not reply.

This tells me that (1) they are making so much money that they can afford to say "f you!" to comic buyers. (2) they really do not give a crap about the comics or how you get them so long as they get the money.  (3)  Package/comics damaged?  Complain -you get banned.

I now see WHY old pro collectors video record packages they receive and package openings.  I'm doing the same from now on.  AND I am naming and shaming the bad boys from now on...and I will NOT buy from Newcadia comics in the US again, either.  I don't even want to go into that!

You show the customer -me- some respect and the customer will keep giving you business.  Bad traders need to be named and I've given them all a chance to sort things out or respond.  If you have a blog and you get the same crap -name and shame don't just sit there taking it. It is YOUR money.

Here is something I posted before (no responses to it on the page) but the poster nails it http://www.ebay.co.uk/gds/The-proper-way-to-ship-comic-books-my-suggestion-/10000000002065018/g.html:

The Challenge:

I am often disappointed when I win an auction for a near-mint comic, wait in anticipation and when the package arrives, I find the comic is damaged.  It is not that I was sent a poor quality book, but that the item was damaged during the shipping process.  The situation is even worse when purchasing a CGC graded item.  Recently, I purchased a CGC graded copy of Amazing Spiderman 129.  The item arrived packaged in a "bubble-pack envelope".  As soon as I saw the envelope I said to myself "I am exhausted with receiving expensive items so carelessly packaged". Of course the item was damaged, cracked in several places.  The common response to a damaged item claim from a seller is "good thing you got the insurance" or "I will send a refund after you return the item .. ps. I do not refund shipping charges".  Who needs the hassle? Who needs the time and money that is wasted chasing damaged item claims?

Listen, I know we all look for ways to cut cost but some corners should not be cut.  Here are some "common sense" rules that should always be followed when considering the shipping of a graded or ungraded item. 

1.  Shipping Cost is not overhead !  The buyer pays the shipping ! The cost of shipping (if you calculated correctly) does not come out of your pocket.

2. Your postal provider does not care about your package any more than you do.  A "FRAGILE" stamp on a flimsy package does not cause a carrier to handle your package with acutal care.  And what happens when your package is in the cargo hold of a plane with a ton of other packages on top of it? Where is the care in handling then?

3.  The Post Office gives away "FREE" boxes in an effort to expedite your shipping needs.  So the "I couldn't find a box" excuse no longer applies.

4.  The money spent in ensuring a safe delivery, pales in comparison to the money you lose when your customer returns a damaged item, along with NEGATIVE feedback. 

The Solution: 
As mentioned previously, the solution is an inexpensive product called "CARDBOARD".  It is simple and easy to use, plus you can get tons of it absolutely FREE !

Packaging an ungraded item enjoys the same procedure as packaging a graded (CGC/PGX) item.

1. Take a cardboard box (stiff, flat, thick) and cut two pieces to the exact dimensions of your "BAGGED AND BOARDED" comic book or GRADED ITEM.

2. Put the item(s) between two pieces of cardboard and tape securely into place. Use clear scotch-type tape, not DUCT tape as I recently encountered in a bubble packed item.  Items should not be allowed to slide around between cardboard pieces or damage could still occur to the corners of the item.

3. Place cardboard-secured item into the appropriate sized box with loosely balled-up newspaper as a buffer or insulation.  The item should "float" inside the box because of the newspaper you put into the bottom of the box and on every possible side of the item.

4.  Close the box and shake gently side to side, listening to hear if the item is sliding around inside box.  If it is, add more newspaper to the top or bottom, or side to side because movement equals damage.

5.  The newspaper is loosely balled-up because less paper is less weight. On average three comics, packed in a PRIORITY MAIL box, should weigh 1 lb. 11 oz. or less and one CGC item should weigh the same.  The Post Office generally charges 4-7 dollars for Priority delivery (less than 2 lbs.) within the continental United States.

To pre-cut several pieces of card-board and to have a few boxes and newspaper on hand. This will save you time in the packing process. 

NEVER use BUBBLE-PACK envelopes for shipping comics!  They only protect against scratches not against impact damage which is the leading cause of damage to shipped items. Plus you will save money by using cardboard because you will never have to purchase another bubble-pack envelope.  You will also, save even more money by recycling your newspaper instead of buying bubble-wrap.

This is a cost effective option to securely ship graded and ungraded comics and to ensure a safe, undamaged delivery to your customer.  You will have peace-of-mind when shipping delicate and expensive items and your customers will return enthusiastic POSITIVE feedback for the care you have added in packaging their items. 

Thank you for reviewing this guide.


Now, the UK Post Office does not give away free boxes but the principles are the same. 

"Free postage" on an item is absolute bollox.  You are giving away a comic and making a loss?

No. Your price includes the postage.  Just check Ebay and you'll see it everywhere. 

Or you get an item at £1.00 which is 6 times cheaper than anywhere else -bargain! Uh, no. Check postage of £6.75 which, for some of the items involved I can tell you it will NOT cost to post (especially in a cheap jiffy bag) -you are paying the FULL PRICE for the item.

There are so many horror stories out there and 99% of the time the traders are rude, even try to blame YOU for THEIR bad packaging...in the hope you'll say "screw you!" and just give in.


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20. Completely Clementine (2015)

Completely Clementine. Sara Pennypacker. 2015. Disney-Hyperion. 192 pages. [Source: Library]

Completely Clementine is the seventh book in the series. Clementine is just as lovable as in earlier books. I continue to like the series very much. It's interesting to read Clementine so soon after reading all the Ramona books. I definitely love, love, love the Ramona books. But I solidly like the Clementine ones. I think I definitely would have liked them as a kid.

In this book:
  • Clementine struggles with saying goodbye to her favorite teacher
  • Clementine worries about if she's really ready for fourth grade like her teacher, her parents, and her principal say she is
  • Clementine nurtures her anger at her father for not suddenly becoming vegetarian; she refuses to speak to him for most of the book
  • Clementine anxiously waits for the birth of her baby sister
I perhaps could have done without the vegetarian element in the story. I'm not sure it's fair for a child to dictate what her parents eat in their own home. And I think she carries the silent treatment a bit too far.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–May 3th Edition

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

Ugh! Yesterday I woke up with a killer throat ache, and I feel like I’m coming down with a cold. Or my allergies are going berserk.  Either way, I spent most of the day in napping and reading. I have one of my favorite comfort foods, chicken in a spicy verde sauce, simmering the crockpot today.   I feel a little better, but I’ll this short and sweet. 

Had a good remainder of the horse show last weekend.  Elle won her championship class, but pilot error cost Pixie a chance to win one too.  I’m a little angry at myself for picking up the wrong canter lead right in front of the judge, so that’s something we will be working on for the run up to the next show later this month.

The weather here is finally feeling spring-like, with 70s all weekend long!  How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Check out my current contests!  See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

An Ember in Ashes (2.99 preorder for Kindle)

Double Feature


Blood Passage

Silver in the Blood

Legacy of Kings

Flight from Death

Sliver of Stardust

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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22. Interview: Courtney Summers

I first interviewed author Courtney Summers in 2008, shortly before her debut novel Cracked Up to Be was released. Seven years, five novels, and many tweets, Tumblr Q&As, and short stories later, her latest novel All the Rage is all the buzz, as is the #tothegirls campaign, which Courtney launched via Thunderclap on April 14th to remind girls everywhere that they are seen, heard and loved.

During her blog tour, I threw three questions Courtney's way. It was difficult, but somehow, I managed to resist the urge to ask her about her love for Pollito, the chicken in Despicable Me 2.

What inspired you to create #ToTheGirls?

I write for and about girls because I believe girls and their stories matter. I think we should take and make every opportunity we can to tell them so.

When you were a kid, were there any books or characters that you connected with strongly?

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with The Baby­-Sitters Club. I was so obsessed they inspired me to start baby­sitting . . . and that was not as fun as the novels led me to believe.

BUT. Those girls were so cool, so any time I could recognize a trait that I shared with any of the characters - from Claudia’s drawing (I loved to draw when I was younger) and her junk food obsession, to Mallory’s writing, to Kristy’s bossiness - I was thrilled beyond words. I felt like I could be as cool as them. Those books had such a positive impact on me and fueled my love of reading.

What's your favorite feature of the Supernatural Clue board game?

I love this question! My favourite part of the Supernatural Clue game is playing as Dean.And then taking it really personally when any of the other characters let him down by being whodunit. Especially if it’s Sam! :)

BONUS: Here's a little quote from ALL THE RAGE...

Follow the blog tour + learn more about Courtney Summers at her website.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Courtney Summers (2008)
Book Review: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Book Review: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Book Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
What Makes Courtney Summers Smile
So You Want to Read YA? Booklist by Little Willow at Stacked

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23. One Last Post And I'm Gone!

Ahhh. I do wish people would read posts before having as arse burger.

I did not ever -ever- state or hint that women should not be reading comics.  I encouraged my young niece to read comics when she was a tot so get it straight.  Read what is written.

If -if- any of the women currently jump onto the comic scene become real comickers then great.  The more the merrier and the same applies to all those men who are in the same category.

Mass buying huge stacks of comics then saying "I have no idea what this is -is it any good -leave a comment!" shows what you are.

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24. Seuss on Saturday #18

Green Eggs and Ham. Dr. Seuss. 1960. Random House. 62 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
I am Sam
Sam I am
That Sam-I-am!
That Sam-I-am!
I do not like that Sam-I-am!
Do you like green eggs and ham?
I do not like them,
I do not like
green eggs and ham.
Plot/Premise: Sam-I-am tries to convince the narrator to try something new: green eggs and ham. Sam I am is definitely persistent! He stays calm while the narrator doesn't! Who will prove more stubborn?!

My thoughts: Green Eggs and Ham is one I've read dozens of times. It's fun and playful. It's repetitive. What's not to love?!

Have you read Green Eggs and Ham? What did you think of it? Did you like it? love it? hate it? Is it one you grew up reading?

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Library Loot: First Trip in May

New Loot:
  • Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller 
Leftover Loot:
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
  • The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
  • Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, translated by Richard Pevear
  • Murder at Mullings by Dorothy Cannell
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
  • The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, translated by Christine Donougher
  • Cursed in the Act by Raymond Buckland
  • Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
  • The Search for the Red Dragon by James A. Owen
  • Indigo King by James A. Owen
  • The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  • Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
  • The Far Side of Evil by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
  • The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan
  • The Infernal Device & Others by Michael Kurland 
  • The Empress of India by Michael Kurland
  • Who Thinks Evil by Michael Kurland
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • One Summer by David Baldacci
  • Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Dr. Seuss's ABC
  • Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book
  • King's Cross by Timothy Keller
  • Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss
  • The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • Onion John by Joseph Krumgold  

      Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.  

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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