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A Teen and Tween Librarian's thoughts on books, reading and adventures in the library.
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I love the idea of a superlative blog tour for First & Then by Emma Mills-such a fun blog tour! I was given the superlative of "Most Likely to Make You Cry on Public Transportation" and of course, I had to ask Emma herself which books make her cry:
I would have to say Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is the book that makes my cry the most! My father first read this book to my sister and I when we were kids, and I remember so clearly the overwhelming sense of loss I felt right along with Jesse. A beautiful—but tough to take!—book about grief. If I Stay The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – it has wrung the most book-fueled tears from me in my adulthood. Hazel’s relationship with her parents really gets to me. Marrying Malcolm Murgatroyd by Mame Farrell—I first read this in junior high and shed more than a few tears. Very bittersweet, lovely middle grade story.
Before I share my own list, I first need to tell you something-I don't cry too often at books. Which honestly, I find a bit strange because I'm an emotional person and I cry at just about everything else, but books really have to get me to get me bawling. And these books did! So fair warning when reading on public transportation (or anywhere!):
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling-OK, I admit this one is cheating a bit, because seriously, what HP fan can read this one (or pretty much any book from 4-on) without bawling like a baby?
by Gayle Forman-I cried so much at the end of this book and had to mourn that it was over. So I was incredibly grateful for the sequel-which yes, also make me cry.The War That Saved My Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley-Oh my goodness, this book just gets you in every emotional way and just tears at your heartstrings and makes you laugh and cry and smile all at the same time.P.S. I Love You
by Cecelia Ahern-I actually listened to this one on audiobook while driving-bad idea. It turned me into a blubbering mess and it was hard to sob and drive at the same time!
What books make you cry?
About the Book: Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
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Today I'm presenting at the Missouri Library Association/Kansas Library Association Join Conference! I'm presenting on "Need to Know YA of 2015" My session is only 45 minutes, so I sadly don't get to talk about very many books, so I made a long booklist of books I'm talking about as well as others to know. Here is my handout and booklist from the session. And if you're at the conference, I'd love to see you!
Need to Know YA 2015
MLA/KLA Joint Conference
Religious Extremism and Cults, End of the World Beliefs
Devoted by Jennifer Matthieu
Eden West by Pete Hautman
No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oaks
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Watch the Sky by Kristin Hubbard
Calvin by Martine Leavitt
Disappear Home by Laura Hurwitz
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes
Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Footer Davis is Probably Crazy by Susan Vaught
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
The Last Time We Said Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
The Law of Loving Others by Katie Axelrod
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Playlist For The Dead by Michelle Falkoff
Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
Twisted Fate by Norah Olson
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B by Tessa Toten
The View From Who I Was by Heather Sappenfield
Your Voice Is All I Hear by Leah Scheier
Retellings of Arabian Tales
A Thousand Nights L.K. Johnston
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury (coming in 2016)
Rebel of the Sands Alwyn Hamilton (coming in 2016)
Sequels and Popular Authors
The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
Another Day by David Levithan
Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mass
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Fairest and Winter by Marrisa Meyer
Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams Garcia
Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
I Crawl Through It by A.S. King
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Magus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
P.S. I Love You by Jenny Han
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Stand Off by Andrew Smith
Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Need to Know Middle Grade/Younger YA
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Monstrous by MaryKate Connolly
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susan Nielsen
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromley
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Buzz Books (with Some Issues)
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Hugely Buzzed Books-AKA-The Next Big Thing?
An Ember in the Sabaa Tahir
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin
Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas
Audacity by Melanie Crowder
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Ink and Ashes by Valynee E Maetani
Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
Lumberjanes Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder
The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
The Novice by Taran Matharu
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
A Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly
Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm
Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Tommy: The Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
Untwine by Edwidge Danticat
Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
Please welcome Sonia Gensler to GreenBeanTeenQueen
(photo credit: Eden Wilson Photography)
Writing horror for young readers
Growing up is scary and painful, and violent, and your body is doing weird things and you might, to your great horror, become something beastly and terrible on the other side. —Greg Ruth, “Why Horror is Good for You (and Even Better for Your Kids)” http://www.tor.com/2014/05/29/why-horror-is-good-for-you-and-even-better-for-your-kids/
Every day young people deal with horror landscapes, both physical and psychological. They face the gauntlet-like labyrinth of school hallways, and the confinement of overcrowded classrooms. They defend against emotional and/or physical bullying, all while feeling haunted by the “stupid” things they’ve said or done. In fact, young people often feel downright monstrous—their bodies are changing too quickly, or not quickly enough, their emotions are fraught with ups and downs, and the world just doesn’t make sense.
I know all this from having been a teenager, and also from having taught young people for ten years. These experiences have somehow led me to write a certain kind of horror.
A lot of horror is about gore, grotesquery, and jump scares—and there’s a cathartic benefit to that experience. I try to write the horror of mystery and dread. Gothic horror is all about dealing with extreme transitions, facing the uncanny, and acknowledging repressed emotions that insist on spilling out against your will. I write this sort of horror for the apprehensive teen that still lives inside me. Mostly I just wish to entertain, but I can’t help hoping that teen and tween readers will recognize parts of their own experience, see themselves in the protagonists who overcome their fears, and somehow feel less strange and alone.
About the BookAvery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.Unfortunately, Julian wants to film at Hilliard House, a looming, empty mansion that Grandma has absolutely forbidden her to enter. As terrified as Avery is of Grandma’s wrath, the allure of filmmaking is impossible to resist.As the kids explore the secrets of Hilliard house, eerie things begin to happen, and the “imaginary” dangers in their movie threaten to become very real. Have Avery and Julian awakened a menacing presence? Can they turn back before they go too far?
: Things that go bump in the night are just the beginning when a summer film project becomes a real-life ghost story!
About the Book: (from Goodreads) In modern-day London, two brilliant high school students, one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James "Mori" Moriarty, meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.
Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more.
FACT: Someone has been murdered in London's Regent's Park. The police have no leads.
FACT: Miss James "Mori"Moriarty and Sherlock "Lock" Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.
FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.
FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock's one rule--they must share every clue with each other--Mori is keeping secrets.
OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can't trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.
GreenBeanTeenQueen: “I'd love to know what inspired Ms. Petty to write about what her research process was like, how she updated Sherlock Holmes and what inspired her to write about Sherlock Holmes.”
Inspiration to Write Sherlock
I was rabbit-trailing through the internet, following links from other links into oblivion, when I came across this cool sounding article that was discussing how often heroes and villains in a nemesis relationship share character traits. And one of the observations by the writer was that it’s hard to judge that comparison for Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, because we only get to view Moriarty as a character through Sherlock’s eyes. No one else even meets him in passing. I hadn’t noticed that when I’d read the Sherlock stories as a kid, so it opened up this giant gap in the story for me. Because what if Sherlock lied to Watson?
Those kinds of “What if?” questions almost always lead to way more and eventually become larger book ideas for me. I started to wonder what if Sherlock and Moriarty had way more of a past then Sherlock let on? What if they’d known each other high school? What if something that happened back then turned them into enemies?
I can’t really pinpoint when I decided to make Moriarty a girl. It was just part of the questions process. I had the idea in my head as Sherlock and Moriarty playing rivals, but probably best friends when it came right down to it—those kinds of friends who hurt each other over and over, but out of some twisted love place. And then I randomly thought that it might be more interesting if Moriarty were a girl. No one would ever expect a girl to be the center of a criminal ring like that. She could so easily hide among the men who serve her. All of that really opened up a whole world to me, of a female villain/anti-hero—one who uses her intelligence instead of her sexuality as a weapon, one who plays the “bad boy” in the relationship with “good girl” Sherlock, one who is vaguely sociopathic and gets away with it like her male counterparts have forever. I was so excited about the idea of that, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I knew I had to write it.
This book was actually the first contemporary I’d ever written, which came with a lot more limitations than I thought it would. For example, London is not only a real city, but a really well-known and popular city. I was so used to being able to craft my own town that I found it intimidating to realize that I had to make sure this one was true to life. I had to get it right. But every time I started planning a research trip, some big family thing would happen making it impossible. So I dove into the research the way I would for any other detail in a story. I drew on everything I knew, read whatever I could get my hands on and watched anything I could find that was set in the city. I also was lucky enough to have friends who had lived in London offer to read the manuscript and help me fix anywhere that I’d misstepped.
Many of my friends were incredibly generous with their time and experiences for all the different elements in the book. They also listened to my whines and worries and let me talk through plot elements until I’m sure they were sick of hearing about it. Doing your book research is vital. But I think it’s equally important for a writer to be humble enough to recognize their lack of experience and to seek out help from those who have lived through it. Really, approaching all of your research with humility is the best way to make sure you’re really learning and not just twisting another person’s lived experience into your own existing parameters.
I’ve never really been interested in writing a book in a historical time period, so I knew right away that I would be modernizing the characters. Really, though, I feel like that was a much easier task than doing the historical research to get late-Victorian London right. The harder part of the book idea was crafting the characters. I needed to present these two icons as real-to-life London teenagers. I knew if I stayed true to their ages and made them more real, I’d be sacrificing the slick/unflappable/cool image that people even slightly familiar with the stories and adaptations have come to expect. But in the end, I was okay with that. I didn’t want them to be already who they become anyway. I wanted this to be their start, and for the series to track how and why they go from that to who we know them to be as adults.
The Inspiration to Write
I was always a huge reader, but I never thought about becoming a writer until my high school English teacher, Author Terri Farley (Phantom Stallion series) read an assignment I'd turned in and basically told me I needed to be writing. So, I joined the school paper. Then, in college, when I was kind of over the Journalism thing, I applied for a fiction writing class with Author and Professor Susan Palwick, who later taught me one-on-one. She really helped me find my niche as a kidlit writer.
I joined SCBWI shortly after I graduated, and my very first regional conference critique (of a really horrible middle grade book) was from Ellen Hopkins, whose debut novel CRANK was coming out later that year (2004). She was very patient with my rookie writer ways and encouraged me to keep going. But I got pregnant soon after that and floundered for a bit with my writing until Author Cynthia Cotten read one of my silly LiveJournal posts one night and told me I should be writing YA. She pointed me in the direction of authors like Melissa Marr, Charles de Lint, and Holly Black. I was especially taken by Holly Black's Tithe series, and started writing my own YA within days of reading VALIANT.
A month ago I wrote a post about how often I see parents looking at their phones instead of engaging with their kids at the library, especially in programs. The feedback I received from this post called me judgy, said there was no way I could know the whole story, and that most likely these kids were being engaged at home. It's true you can never know the whole story, but I still believe it's all about balance.
I was inspired to write my original post because it's something I see happen a lot at the library, but it's also something very personal to me. Being glued to technology is something I see happen every day in my family.
This photo is of a recent family get together. My son is just off to the right of this picture, playing with toys and hoping to catch the attention of his family. Instead, they're plugged in to their phones (and the ironic thing is my father-in-law captured this family moment on his phone!) It frustrates me on a regular basis when I'm with family and instead of engaging with each other, especially with my toddler, they are hooked to their phones. Alerts go off, an article must be read, a text must be sent-it happens all the time. My husband and I are trying very hard to put our phones up and leave them out of reach and ignore them until after my son goes to bed. Are we perfect? Not at all. But we're trying to make engagement a priority.
Just look at this graph from Pew Internet Research about when people think it's OK to use their cellphones-it's a growing trend everywhere! (The entire article on mobile use
is a fascinating read-be sure to check it out!)
When we model that behavior of being plugged into technology, no matter where we are-home or the library, it shows our kids that technology is more important. Do we have to unplug completely forever? No. It's all about balance. So let me tell you another story.
I was at the library last week and I was roving the department, straightening books, cleaning up, and checking on patrons. We have a play area with early literacy toys and a really cool Eric Carle carpet and it's just off of the picture books, so it's perfect for families to hang out and engage. There was a young mom there with her nine-month-old son. She had actually brought a toy for him to play with (I'm not sure if she didn't know we had toys at the library, which is entirely possible, or if she just wanted to also bring something from home.) She had checked out an iPad from the library and was using it to type something up. As I was cleaning and straightening, I observed this mom. Even though she was plugged in to technology and would type on the iPad, she would pause every few minutes, look over at her son, talk to him, play with the toy with him and engage before she went back to her work. Later she and her son browsed through books together and she talked to him about what there was at the library and what books they were getting and she was fully focused on her child. She was using technology but she was also balancing it to engage with her son. That balance is so lost. Instead we end up making excuses as to why we need to be plugged in all the time.
A couple of days after that, I had a busy morning filled with lots of toddlers and their parents. And the entire morning made me smile because all morning long, I observed the parents talking to their kids, playing with toys, reading books, and talking to the other parents and making new friends. I overheard a dad singing with his daughter about putting the toys away and a mom showing her toddler and preschooler how to do the simple origami dog we had out as a passive activity. Watching the kids light up as they talked and played with the adults around them was awesome.
Yes, we need to use computers to get school work done. Yes, we need the library to be a place for our family to come and hang out. Yes we need to use the library computers to check email, take of something for work, or just play and have fun. We never know the whole story and we never know what someone is going through. But it only takes a moment to pause, look up, and engage. Sing a song with your kids at storytime. Laugh at a book together. Watch their puppet shows. It's all about balance. I hope we can all get there together.
Release Date: 9/1/2015
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About the Book:
Maddy has SCID, a disease which means she's allergic to everything. She never knows what could cause her to be sick, what could make her have an allergic reaction. She's been kept in her house with no one but her mom and nurse and her only access to the outside world is through the computer. Until the day Olly moves in next door, Maddy doesn't feel like she's missing out on much. Olly and Maddy develop a friendship online and Maddy starts to wonder if there could be more to her life. But if there was, it wouldn't end well for Maddy.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
I honestly don't know what it was about this book that made me devour it and enjoy every moment. I've thought about and tried to put my finger on it what it was exactly, but I can only guess. Nicola Yoon's writing is addictive and her characters are just so real that I cared about them from the very beginning. I loved Maddy from the start and I kept telling myself, "ok, just one more chapter and then I'll go to bed." Two nights of staying up way too late later, I had devoured this book. And after I read it, I wanted to talk about it, to tell everyone about it.
I think part of my addiction with this novel was that it hit at just the right time. I was wanting something I could just get lost in and want to gulp down in one sitting and Everything, Everything
really fit that for me. I was immediately drawn into Maddy's story, her life, and just like Maddy, I wanted to befriend Olly too. The storyline was different as well which really made me want to keep reading. It's a teen sickness/romance/friendship book but it's also not and I loved that about it. I also love the fact that Maddy is biracial and that's just a fact in the story. This isn't an issue story about race and Maddy's African American/Asian American background is part of who she is and I love that.
I really feel like teens are going to go crazy over this one and absolutely love it. It will for sure appeal to fans of stories like The Fault in Our Stars
and Eleanor and Park
, but I think even readers who don't typically read those books will enjoy this one-the hard part will be selling them on it. This is for sure one for readers who like sad books, but also for readers who like hopeful books and I hope readers won't shy away from it just because they think it will make them cry.
Sure, some of the story got a little silly, but that's also part of it's charm. Maddy and Olly are two teens who aren't always going to make the best choices and their actions fit with their characters. My heart broke and then was put back together and I loved every moment.
There's so much more I want to say about this book, but I feel like if I do, I'll ruin the experience for you and I want you to experience it like I did, so I won't say much more. Only that my warning is that if you pick this one up, you won't be putting it down until you're finished!Full Disclosure: Reviewed from e-galley sent by publisher for review
Release Date: 8/4/2015
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About the Book: Bridge survived an accident and as she left the hospital she was told she must have survived for a reason. Emily is embracing a new found popularity with boys at school and a crush on an older boy. And Tabitha is the friend who tells people like it is. Sherm is writing letters to his grandfather-but not sending them. And an unnamed narrator wanders the neighborhood on Valentines Day wondering about what makes a true friend. This cast of characters will connect and their lives will entwine and they'll figure out middle school together.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Librarian confession-sometimes I feel like I'm the only non Rebecca Stead fangirl. I mean, I liked Liar and Spy well enough and I When You Reached Me was ok, but I felt like the only person who didn't gush over it. Yet there's something about her writing-and the mad devotion from librarians all over-that keeps me reading.
I was actually very intrigued by this book because it's older middle grade/younger YA and I had a feeling that in Miss Stead's hands, that would be something magical. Then I read this quote that my friend Angie posted and raved about and I was hooked-I had to read Goodbye Stranger.
"That's what life is. Life is where you sleep and what you see when you wake up in the morning, and who you tell about your weird dream, and what you eat for breakfast and who you eat it with. Life isn't something that happens to you. It's something you make yourself, all the time."
Told throughout the course of several months (with one character's narration taking place all in one day), the novel takes interwoven storylines from a group of friends, and those that surround them, through their struggles with middle school. Seventh grade is a rough year. It's a time when friendships can change, relationships can blossom, and life can feel like it's turning upside down. And middle school is a time when life feels as though life is in a constant state of confusion. Growing up is hard and Rebecca Stead captures the awkwardness, confusion, and growing pains perfectly. As an adult, reading this book was like stepping back in time and remembering what it was like to be 13 again. As a young teen, I think readers will relate with the characters very strongly and with such a wide cast, I think they'll find someone they can identify with.
Bridge is struggling with trying to figure out who she is-she's been away from school and while her best friends are there, they seem to be changing around her and she's changing too, but she's not sure what that means. She's also becoming friends with Sherm which makes her wonder how can you be friends with a boy and what does that mean? Bridge is also struggling because she's taken the words of the nurse that she survived her accident for a reason to heart and she wants to discover what that reason is. I loved Bridge's shyness and her tentativeness into finding a club to join at school and how she slowly discovers where she belongs and that she fits.
Emily gets caught up in a texting-turned-sexting relationship and decides to send a photo to her crush which then gets sent around school. I loved how Miss Stead deftly handles this plotline. It's easy to see how Emily can get caught up and how she trusts those around her. It also discusses how society views girls and how girls are treated in situations like this and how often their treatment is unfair and their reputation is harmed while boys reputations are intact. It's a great commentary and something that is a must read and should be discussed with middle schoolers.
There's also the unnamed narrator, who is struggling with trying to let a best friend go because the truth is there about who the friend really is, but it's hard to say goodbye. And can you stop being friends with someone and have a new best friend? And can secrets really hurt friends?
Bridge's search for her identity and who she is, Sherm's broken relationship with his grandfather, Tabitha's struggle to grow up, and Emily's crush on an older boy. There is so much wonderful fodder here for great book discussions. And the writing is fantastic. Things are presented in a way that readers will understand, will relate to, and won't feel like an adult is talking down to them or doesn't understand. I think Goodbye Stranger could be a pick for a parent/child book discussion as well.
Rebecca Stead has finally won me over with this one. I really loved it. I kept wanting to go back to it, wanted to keep reading, and I was interested in all the characters. Everyone was well developed and the plot wove together wonderfully. I think Goodbye Stranger is an absolute must read of 2015 and a book that older tweens and young teens-and their parents-should get their hands on and hopefully read together.
Full Disclosure: Reviwed from e-galley received from publisher for review
Release Date: 8/4/2015
Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
After her parents divorce and Zoe moves with her mom to upstate New York, the last thing she expected was to meet someone like Digby. No one really likes Digby when they first meet him-he's eccentric and annoying and only shows up when he wants something. Zoe just wants to survive her junior year with good grades and no problems so she can move back to NYC with her dad and attend a private school for her senior year. But Digby will change all of that. When you're with Digby, you can't help but get pulled into his madcap schemes and (sometimes illegal) hijinks. Digby's on a planet all his own and Zoe can't help but get pulled in as Digby tries to solve the mystery of a local missing girl and discover if it has any connection to the disappearance of his sister years before.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
The book marketing this meets that for this book is perfect-imagine Veronica Mars mixed with a John Hughes movie with a touch of Sherlock. That pretty much sums up Trouble is a Friend of Mine
perfectly. There's lots of razor sharp dialogue and wit, plenty of pop-culture references, an amateur teen detective who somehow continues outsmart everyone around him, and a mystery to be solved. All that wraps up into a pretty hilarious and totally fun package and you just know going in, from the very first page, that just like Zoe, you're going to end up on Planet Digby too.
Tromly is a former screenwriter and that really comes across in her writing. The plot is very fast paced and the dialogue is snappy. It also reads like it could translate to the screen very easily (which I would love to see happen-this could be a great teen movie!) Zoe isn't the most well developed character. She's actually a bit bland, but I think part of that is purposeful for the novel as it allows the reader to jump right into Zoe's character and experience Digby for themselves. The rest of the supporting characters are funny, but a bit typical of teen novels-the cute popular boy, the mean rich girl, and the nerdy outcast. Yet all together, they do make for a pretty funny group and it works.
Digby on the other hand is such an enigma that you can't help but want to know more about him and follow along on his crazy escapades to solve whatever mystery he's surrounded himself with. The main focus of the novel is mystery and friendship and while you could read it as a romance (very slightly) that's not a main focus at all, which I really liked. This is one of those books I can hand to readers looking for a mystery and I know they'll be engaged with a great mystery without having to wade through lots of additional subplots about love triangles or family drama or forensic or paranomal elements. There's also plenty of humor and with the contemporary setting, so I think even non-mystery readers would be willing to give this one a try. And with the John Hughes comparisons, I also think Trouble is a Friend of Mine
has great crossover appeal!
I had a ton of fun reading it and there were several points in the book where I was disappointed my lunch break was up and I had to stop reading because I just wanted to read one more page. The story especially picks up speed once the group goes to the school formal, and the mystery solving really takes off. Sure the situations the teens get themselves into can be far fetched, but that's part of the fun. The ending is left very open, so fingers crossed we get to hear more from Digby soon!Full Disclosure: Reviewed from book sent by publisher for review
One of the most interesting parts of being a librarian is that I get to spend a lot of time observing the public. Every day is spent interacting with lots of different families and throughout the summer, I've noticed a trend that makes me very upset. It's been happening for awhile, but I've noticed it with more and more frequency.
Parents (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, babysitters-whoever!) do not look up from their phones and engage with their kids.
The library is a wonderful place to come and engage and play with your children, but so many adults use the library as a break or a babysitter. They come in, let the kids loose in the department and instead of creating a family trip, they spend their time engaged in their phone or computer. Over and over and I see these kids looking for someone to read a book to them, to play with them, to watch their puppet show. They wander around the children's department seeking out other kids to play with-sometimes with success, sometimes not. Kids come up to the desk and ask if we can be an audience for their puppet show and of course I try to say yes. Not just because I want to encourage these kids, but as a librarian, my job is to model early literacy skills and talking with kids about their puppet show is a great early literacy skill. But I can't always say yes-I have lots of patrons to help, programs to set up, questions to answer-contrary what people may think librarians do, we don't get to watch puppet shows and read books with kids all day.
The absolute worst and the thing that bothers me the most is when I see this happen in storytime or at our large Summer Reading Program Performers. (We bring in performers like singers, magicians, comedians, jugglers, etc once a week during the Summer.) Instead of engaging with kids during storytime (especially during preschoool storytime-that's when it's the worst!) adults let the kids sit up front while they sit in the back and use storytime as a thirty minute break to socialize, check Facebook, text. I see the kids excitedly signing or dancing to a new song or correctly guessing the animal in the book we're reading and look back to see their adult's proud faces, only to have the adults not looking at them.
During our big weekly Summer performers, I try not to put a lot of chairs out to encourage the adults to sit with their kids. But that doesn't stop grownups from finding a chair, unstacking a stack from the back and sitting in the back and using the performer as a babysitter. We recently hosted a Big Hero 6 Robot Build-Along and I was so excited to see that about half of the room took the opportunity to sit with their kids and create a robot out of boxes together. The other half sat off to the side and had social time with their phones and with friends instead of using it as a family program. I even overheard one parent say to her friend as she was walking in to the program "well, we'll see how it goes and if we can leave" to which I politely reminded her of the library's unattended children policy.
Engage with your kids and they will model your reading behavior!
We're wasting prime opportunities with our kids when we become distracted and engaged by something else. These programs and time spent at the library is hopefully growing a lifelong love of reading and the library and helping your child engage in early literacy skills which will help them become better readers and writers. My staff and I focus on early literacy skills in all of our storytimes, we work hard to create engaging programs for families, and the reason we have toys in our department is to encourage families and share ideas about how to incorporate the Roads to Reading (our early literacy program) at home. We want to share with families how they can Talk and Read, Sing and Rhyme, Play With Letters, Tell Stories, and Love Books anywhere and everywhere! But librarians can only do so much. Our hope is that we will help create readers, but that won't happen unless kids have that behavior modeled for them. And when adults are only engaged in screens instead of taking the time to engage with their kids, this opportunity is lost.
I try to mention this at the beginning of programs-how engaging with your kids means they will get so much more out of the program-but that only goes so far. I can only say so much and try so hard to get the message across.
I know it's tough. I know it's exhausting. I know you want a break. But the library is such a wonderful chance to connect and engage with kids. They are becoming involved in the community and learning about things that interest them. They are realizing the library has lots of wonderful things to offer. They walk into the library and are given their choice of all the materials there and they realize the world is open to them. This is a powerful thing.
So please, look up! Engage with your kids. Talk to them. Explore with them. Play with them. Create with them. Experience the library together. I promise your visit will be much more rewarding!
Raising a reader
I'd love to know ways you encourage parents to engage with their kids at your library. Any good tips and suggestions?
Fandom Starts Early Storytime Number 1
Fandom Starts Early Storytime Number 2
I've hosted two Fandom Starts Early Geeky Storytimes for kids and I knew it would be the perfect fit for LibraryCon. My previous Fandom storytimes have been OK, but I held them on Friday evenings, which are always a tough time to draw a crowd. Plus, I didn't get the true geeky families I was hoping for and I knew my audience at LibraryCon would appreciate and love a storytime based on fandoms.
I took some things that I've used before and added a few new things for the LibraryCon version. I actually had to adapt and change my plan at the last minute because my crowd ended up being much younger than I anticipated. So here's what we did for Fandom Starts Early LibraryCon!
(flying like superheroes)Opening Song: Hedwig's Theme
-I opened the doors had the kids walk in to Hedwig's Theme and welcomed everyone to Fandom Starts Early Storytime. I told the parents that it's fun to introduce their favorite fandoms to their kids and we have lots of great books to help do so. Plus, being a geek is awesome!
Song: The Freeze by Greg and Steve-I used a picture of Dr. Horrible and his freeze ray and every time he appeared, we had to freeze. You could also use Mr. Freeze for this.
Five superheroes ready to fly
Here comes a villain. Stop that guy!
This superhero can save the day.
Off he/she flies-up, up, and away!
Parachute: We tossed the TARDIS around in the parachute to the Doctor Who theme. (I printed off two photos of the TARDIS and glued some popsicle sticks between them to get it to bounce)
I had lots of activities set up around the room for the kids to do.
-Superhero mask making=with masks cut out from the diecut machine and various items to use to decorate
-Match the characters with their item (Han Solo with the Millennium Falcon, Kirk with the Enterprise, Harry with his broom, etc)
-Paint a Dalek-I printed off black and white pictures of a Dalek and let the kids use dot stampers to color the Dalek. Make sure to have wipes on hand!
-Match the Star Trek colors-I put up pictures of the Next Generation cast and sorted them by uniform colors (Red, Yellow, and Blue) and put out blocks to sort under each picture.
-Design your own house crest. I printed off a blank house crest template and let the kids create their own.
-Decorate the Death Star-my amazing teen librarian, Valerie painted over a globe with chalk paint and we now have a death star that can be drawn on with chalk. It's tons of fun and reusable!
I also had lots of comic books to give away to the kids and a big book display for various geeky books.
This was the most successful Fandom Starts Early Storytime because my crowd really appreciated the topic and thought it was lots of fun to get their kids talking about their fandoms. The kids really loved the superhero masks and the parents loved the matching game. I can't wait to do it again next year!
And I'm always looking for geeky storytime books so if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!
This is part of a three part series about the LibraryCon program we hosted at my library. Be sure to check out:
Many cool people who helped make LibraryCon awesome!
(photo credit: E.M. Ervin
So there were many, many things that went wonderfully at LibraryCon and we pulled off an amazingly fantastic event. I'm so proud of all the work that everyone did and what a fun program it turned out to be.
Here's what worked well:-Involve the local geek community.
We reached out to so many organizations, cosplay groups, gaming groups, authors, illustrators, and other area cons to create our booths. In turn, those groups gave us names of others to include. This worked well because it helped us find people who really wanted to be part of this event.
-Provide water! And food if possible.
We provided lots (over 100!) bottles of water for the people staffing tables and speaking on panels. They told us over and over again how thankful they were for this and it was such an easy thing to do! We also got a donation for lunch for our panelists and provided snacks for those staffing the booths, which was another nice treat. We also made sure we had staff available to sit at their booths while they took a break to eat.
-Have something for all ages.
We had a huge mix of ages from kids to adults and lots of families attend LibraryCon because we really wanted it to be a family friendly event. Our booths all had something fun to offer for all ages and having various Cosplay groups was a huge treat for the kids. We also had a Geeky Storytime, which was a huge hit with kids and parents. We could have added even more kid events and plan to do so for next year.-Have assigned tables clearly marked for vendors. Also be sure to have lots of extension cords and power strips on hand.
We had every table assigned and the list was left with the greeters at the front door. This made set up very easy and run smoothly.
Most of the feedback we had was positive, and the comments about what to change were actually very minor. But no event is absolutely perfect, so here's what I'd change for next year:-More Signage
-We had a whiteboard outside the panel room and had a flier with a schedule of events and room locations. Everything was kept in our main concourse of the library and the rooms are all located right off the concourse, so it was pretty well contained to the front. But people still requested more signage about what was happening where and where rooms were located.-Bring people into the library.
Since most of the event happened in the main concourse, there was very little traffic into the library. This was good (it kept noisy things up front) and bad (people didn't explore the library as much as they could have). We had a scavenger hunt happening in the stacks and not many people knew about it because they didn't make it back to the Children's Department. We also had some kids crafts there as well that got ignored after storytime. I would like to find a way to bring people into the library more and show off lots of library resources and geeky book displays next year. Also, bring over a lot of your Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Graphic Novel collections to highlight at your event. We created a last minute geeky kids book display and the books flew off the display!-Have a booth for the library.
This might seem like a no brainer, but we didn't think about it. We thought oh, hey, people are coming to the library so they'll find out about what we offer. But that wasn't the case. Next year, I want to have a booth for library card sign ups and have information about upcoming programs.-Create a hashtag.
Neither Valerie or I are very active on Twitter, so it didn't occur to either of us to create a hashtag for the event until the day of! This is a great way to collect pictures and feedback from attendees on social media and spread the word about your event.-Make sure you have enough trash cans.
Another silly one, but we noticed that by the end of the evening, the trash cans located in the concourse were overflowing! Something else we really hadn't thought about! But for the most part, there wasn't much trash to pick up and the event itself was very clean.-Offer even more things to do!
We only hosted three panels because this was our first LibraryCon. We spread them out throughout the afternoon because we were trying to think of when people would arrive, want to take breaks, eat, etc. As my husband pointed out to me, "people will eat when they want to eat-you just have events and let them figure it out." Next year, I think we don't have to worry about spacing things out and having breaks, but instead offer more panels, fandom meetups, and gaming demos.
Overall we had a fantastic event it was lots of fun. You don't need to have a huge budget to put on an amazing event. Our entire LibraryCon was put together on about $80, and most of that could have even been taken out and not really needed. Include your community and you will get a great response. I can't wait to do it all again-bigger and better-next year!
Since LibraryCon was such a huge event, I've split these posts up into three parts. Find Part One-Planning here and stay tuned for Part Three-What I'd Do Differently!
And check out Valerie's post about LibraryCon!
After lots of meetings, prep, and planning, LibraryCon was finally here!
(photo credit: Valerie)
On Friday, we set up the concourse and meeting rooms with our tables and labeled everything so everyone could find where they were assigned. I also set up for my Fandom Starts Early Geeky Storytime.
We started LibraryCon with a Friday night screening of a local webseries, Drifter
. They screened some episodes from Season 1 and then hosted a Q and A with some of the cast and creative team. We had a small but very interested turnout (we had around 30 people attend for this event). We weren't sure if it was the timing, the day, or having two days worth of events, but the people that came loved it. Valerie and I didn't know if we would have a small or big crowd the next day, but we went home excited for our main day of LibraryCon.
It was finally Saturday, the day of LibraryCon!
Our guests and "vendors" started arriving around 9:30 to start setting up. The first event of the day was Fandom Starts Early Geeky Storytime at 11:15. I had done this storytime twice before, but had always had a small crowd and not the geeky families I really wanted to draw in. This was the perfect opportunity to have those fandoms come together in a storytime and I had a great crowd of kids who loved making the TARDIS fly in a parachute, fly like superheroes, and read about Star Wars and Star Trek. We even got told by one of the parents that this storytime was "groovy!" Yay!
After storytime, it was time to start the main event. We had all of the guests and vendors set up and people could visit with each table. We had three panels throughout the day and honestly, we could have had even more. We put in a lot of time between each panel and we could have filled that time easily with other events. We had a Cosplay Panel, Author Panel, and Illustrator Panel.
(photo credit: Valerie)
The highest attendance was for the Cosplay panel. I'm not sure if it was the theme, the fact that it was the first one, or a combination of those things. We still had a good turnout for the other panels, but I think if we had spaced them together more, we would have had more people.
The crowd had lots of great questions at each panel and were very excited to have a chance to hear from each group. In between panels, con-goers visited with the various booths and each table got a lot of traffic and promotion. Our authors and illustrators commented several times about how great the event was and how they got to have a chance to talk to the people who came by.
People started arriving for the event around 11, just before the storytime started and LibraryCon really started to pick up around noon. Throughout the day we had 400 people attend our event. Most of the time was spent visiting with each table, talking to the people at the booths, and the teens spent a lot of time talking to the authors and illustrators and buying books and drawings! I saw many teens (and adults) leaving the event with bags full of great swag. In addition to the authors and illustrators selling items and many of the booths hosting giveaways or offering something special, we had a library prize board. We put together multiple prize packs and had a large whiteboard with photos of each prize pack, what was included, and a target age range for the prize pack up front at the greeter table. Guests could enter to win one of the prize packs and we called the winners the following week.
We had lots of water for all of our panelists and everyone staffing a table, which was greatly appreciated by all. We also had some food donated (thanks Chipotle!) for our special guests. We had staff scheduled as greeters, room attendants and floaters, so there was always library staff available to answer questions, welcome people to the event, and take care of room needs during the panels.
(photo credit: Valerie)
We had staff at the door throughout the event to pass out fliers which served as our schedule of events. It got pretty easy to spot who was coming for LibraryCon as the day went on-you could tell who was in costume and who wasn't. We did have several people who said they didn't know LibraryCon was happening that day but they were so excited they had come to the library and found out about all these great area organizations. There were still many confused faces from patrons as well who came into the library thinking it was a typical Saturday and discovered Storm Troopers, Deadpool, Ghostbusters, and Captain Jack Sparrow wandering around. Someone even came by and asked "what's the point of all this?" which gave us a wonderful opportunity to explain that the library is a community space and we had organized an event to promote and bring together the fan and pop culture communities in our area.
The best thing about our event was that many of the groups and guests knew each other from the area or other events. There was such a positive camaraderie between all the vendors throughout the day and that really carried over to everyone who attended. Even the people staffing the tables kept visiting other booths and tables and talking to each other and hanging out, so it was fun to see the geeky community really come together.
The final event of the evening was our documentary showing of The Midwest in Panels
. We kicked off the event with a Q and A featuring the owner of our local comic book store. Then we watched the documentary with a small but dedicated crowd who stuck it out for the entire day. While the documentary was showing, our vendors closed up and Valerie and I did a lot of clean up. We ended the event at 8:30 that evening and had about thirty minutes to clean up, put away last minute things, wrap things up before the library closed. It was a long day but it was totally worth it!
Two tired librarians after a long day of LibraryCon!
(photo credit: Valerie)
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I've been wanting to host a huge fan convention at the Library for awhile now and I knew it could be done! Many years ago I hosted a Mini-Anime Con for the teens and it was a great event and our Cosplay prom was always huge, so I knew we had an audience ready for an event like this. When I hired Valerie as the Teen Librarian, I knew she would make an excellent LibraryCon partner in crime and so our first annual LibraryCon was born!
(Here's myself and Valerie, all smiles and ready for an epic day!)
photo credit: ValerieThe planning:
Planning for this event started many, many months in advance. We are very lucky that our branch manager is a huge comic fan and fellow geek, so we had great support. The three of us met and had several brainstorming meetings of who to invite and we made a field trip over to our local comic book store to talk to the owner about local artists we should include. Valerie also made a trek to another area con that happens in the winter to scout out some possible guests for our event.
We had a date and had every possible space in the Library reserved. We came up with a schedule of events and then we started emailing and contacting people. We decided on three panels and ending the evening with something big, but we weren't sure just what yet. We put out a call to fellow staff and asked them who they knew and could connect us with. Valerie and I pooled together our geeky community connections and set up a list of people we wanted for panels or booths at our event.
We recruited people for a Cosplay Panel, Author Panel, and Illustrator Panel. Between the two of us, we were able to bring in guests for the panels (and many were friends of ours, so they offered to do the event for free-even better!) It worked out we each had two big events to host/moderate during the day of the Con.
We were able to have groups in the community have booths at the event which was a great way to showcase the geeky offerings our area has. We featured our local comic book store, a couple of local geeky podcasts, two area gaming and fan conventions, a gaming organization, a Ghostbusters group, a LARPing group, a Star Wars group, a local group called Eternal Armory
who makes amazing metal and costume pieces, and some local Cosplayers. These groups were all in our main concourse right when people walked in.
(The very crowded concourse full of geekiness!)
photo credit: Valerie
We made one of the meeting rooms located in the concourse our Author and Illustrator room, which worked out really well.
(Some of our great authors and illustrators!)
photo credit: Valerie
Then word started to spread and people started to contact us which was great. We honestly didn't expect such enthusiasm for our event and we ended up with about 13 tables/booths for groups and organizations in our concourse and around 14 tables for authors and illustrators. Through a friend of mine I met Captain Logan, who had recently filmed a documentary, The Midwest in Panels
, about comic book stores in the Midwest-and he was willing to let us screen in at our LibraryCon! Another great connection and win! The documentary is fantastic, by the way, and if you like comics you should check it out!
We organized a schedule and the amazing Valerie kept in contact with everyone leading up the event. Seriously, I couldn't have done it without her! I made a list of staff we would need and where and sent out a call for extra staff to help us out the day of LibraryCon.
Our Community Relations Department made us some amazing fliers and we took these to the stores that we would be at our event. We also found out at the event that dedicated fans passed out fliers around town for us and helped spread the word.
Then, we waited, stayed in contact with our guests, and excitedly promoted our event!Find out what happened at the event here: Library Con Part Two-The Big Event
and Library Con Part Three-What Worked Well and What I'd Do Differently
And check out Valerie's post about LibraryCon!
So the Meet the Music Hero was pretty much born from this book and Angie's post about doing a program around this book. I had read it and loved it and knew I had to include in this series. Plus, Melba was born and lived in Kansas City as a child, so I loved that there was a local connection to our state!
We started this program with going over some background info, talking about jazz and how girls didn't often play jazz. I talked about how picture book biographies are amazing because you can learn about people you never knew about! I told the kids that I hadn't known about Melba until I read this book and I'm glad I learned about her because her story is wonderful. Then we read Little Melba and her Big Trombone by Kathryn Russel-Brown.
We also got to make a week to week connection with this book and the previous week because Melba played with Charlie Parker!
Then we watched a video of Melba playing her trombone. I loved it when we could show a video of our hero because Pamela and I thought it made it so much more real for the kids.
Also, extra points for this video because it features an all girl jazz band!
Then we played more of Melba's music and let the kids check out the fun fact wall Pamela made.
We had them make "trombones" out of strawbees
. They were able to put the straws and connectors together to create whatever instrument they wanted to make, but they loved trying to make the slider on the trombone out of straws!
We also put out lots of books on display, especially titles about female musicians.
And this is what I get for not posting about this program until weeks later-I know we had another station, but I can't remember what it was!
We had a small but dedicated group this week and the parents were very engaged. I think they loved learning about someone they had never heard of as much as the kids did. As we read Melba's story, the parents said "wow!" almost as much as the kids which I thought was wonderful. I loved introducing them to a new musician and new book.
For our third week of Meet the Music Hero, I wanted to introduce the kids to jazz. I first fell in love with jazz when I was around 8-years-old, so I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce this style of music to kids. Plus, Charlie Parker has some Missouri ties (he was born and lived in Kansas City) and there are many great picture books about these two, so Miss Pamela and I thought it would be a great storytime.
We started by dancing to some jazzy music and moving around the room. Then Miss Pamela gave some background about Charlie and Dizzy, what instruments they played, and how Kansas City was a place for jazz. She showed pictures of each musician to the kids as well and had them try to puff out their cheeks like Dizzy.
Then it was storytime. We used the book Bird and Diz by Ed Young.
After reading the book, we had the kids watch some videos of Charlie and Dizzy playing music.
First up, a video of both of them playing (it was actually hard to find a clip of them playing together!):
Then, a great clip of Dizzy Gillespie playing on The Muppet Show:
Then it was time for our activity! This week we really combined art and music, which Miss Pamela and I loved. We gave the kids chalk and black construction paper. I told them to listen to the music and think about what the music made them imagine. Then we turned on the song Salt Peanuts
and had the kids create whatever kind of picture they wanted while they listened to the music. When the song was done, everyone held up their pictures and we talked about how we all thought of different things and drew different pictures but listened to the same song.
Then we played some more music and let the kids create and draw.
Miss Pamela made a "Did You Know" fact wall about our musicians and we put out additional biographies about various jazz musicians for the kids to read.
This was one of our biggest turn outs for our Meet the Music Hero program-we had 28 kids! I'm not sure if it was the theme or just good timing on our part (the department was very busy!) but about half the kids were repeat attendees from previous weeks which was nice to see. I loved being able to combine music and art for this week.
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For the Meet the Music Hero program that Miss Pamela and I did this summer, I wanted to make sure we highlighted musicians that were known and some that weren't as well known. I also wanted to include a diverse group of musicians. For week two, we chose Tito Puente.
I started with some basic facts about Tito Puente, told the kids about the instruments and music he played, and then read the fantastic picture book biography, Tito Puente Mambo King by Monica Brown.
Unlike our previous week's hero Mozart, I could show video clips featuring Tito Puente! He appeared on Sesame Street, so I used those to introduce his music.
I had some older kids who rolled their eyes a bit (Sesame Street-that's a baby show!) but the younger kids loved it!
I was also able to show a clip of Tito Puente performing live, which the kids loved. I even had them get up and try dancing the mambo along with the video!
I then passed out some rhythm sticks and used good old Hap Palmer's Tap Your Sticks
to give the kids a chance to try tapping their sticks to a rhythm and become musicians.
Then it was time for some activities:
-Nick Jr has a coloring pack of Hispanic Role Models
, including Tito Puente, so we put these out for the younger kids.
-Since Tito Puente played lots of instruments, we put out drums and pianos and various things like a box, coffee canisters and rhythm sticks to play with.
-I had the kids decorate their own "drumsticks" using crayons and Popsicle sticks and encouraged them to drum on anything they could think of!
-Miss Pamela created another awesome "Did You Know" fact wall with fun facts about Tito Puente and his music.
This week we had a much smaller turnout (only about 10 kids) but they all really enjoyed it and had lots of fun. They especially loved trying their hand at drumming!
So one Sunday afternoon I was working with Miss Pamela and I came across this fantastic blog post from Angie about her Meet the Music program. It got me thinking about programs and since were in the middle of planning for our Summer Reading Program, I immediately thought of a Meet the Music and Art Hero program. I asked Miss Pamela if she wanted to team up-she has more of an art background and I have a music background-and our program was born.
We decided to host a program on musicians once a week during the month of June (we dedicated July to artists). I went through picture book biographies and chose titles I thought would be good for storytime or to build a program around. This did limit us a bit, since I was looking for shorter books and I was working with ages 4-8 for the program. But you could adapt this program for any age and use longer books if you wanted.
The first week, we kicked things off with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
We started the program by giving the kids some background information on Mozart-his full name, date of birth, when he started playing and composing music, what he was famous for, why he's important, etc.
Then Miss Pamela read Play, Mozart, Play! by Peter Sis
. This was a great choice for our young audience and we had them repeat the "play, Mozart, play" refrain along with us.
I used some short Mozart pieces from Beethovan's Wig and had the kids shake the parachute along to the music and listen to when it slows, when it's fast, soft or loud.
I talked about how Mozart composed classical music and how classical music is often used in movies and TV and how a lot of classical pieces have become famous because of that. I made a short quiz of songs (things like the theme to Masterpiece Theater, songs from Fantasia, William Tell Overture, Ride of the Valkyries, In the Hall of the Mountain King, etc) I had the kids listen and tell me if they had ever heard the songs before and where-the adults had lots of fun with this too!
I didn't have a good movement song to go with one of Mozart's songs, so I used Tippy Toe from The Learning Groove
as a way to get the kids listening to thinking about classical music.
I then talked about how classical music can have a lot of secrets and surprises in it and you really have to listen to it and I had the kids lay down and listen to Haydn's Surprise Symphony, which is one of my favorite classical pieces-and if they don't know they jump in the middle which is always a lot of fun!
Then it was time for crafts and activities:
-Compose your own music-we set out various instruments and let the kids play-this got very loud because we put out a couple small pianos and some play drums!
-Musical staff thumbprints-I printed off a blank staff and had the kids use their thumprints to make the musical notes
-Mozart wigs-I had some white yarn already cut out for our superhero masks, so I reused the leftovers and had the kids gather the yarn all together to create wigs perfect for a classical composer.
-Mozart "Did You Know" fact wall-Pamela is amazing and created a did you know wall with some fun facts about Mozart.
We had a huge turnout for this program-27 kids!-which was much more than we were expecting. A lot of our homeschool families loved this program and decided to use it as a history unit, which was a fun idea. And we sneakily educated the adults about classical music and picture book biographies along with the kids, so it was a win-win all around!
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John
Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
Miles is not excited to be moving to Yawnee Valley-how exciting can a place be when there's a yawn right in the name? Miles was known as the best prankster in his old town, always pulling stunts on his friends. When he discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, Miles has to figure out who it is-and take the prankster down. Each one tries to one up each other, leading to more epic pranks and jokes in a hilarious prank war.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
This book is sure to inspire tween pranksters everywhere! The Terrible Two
is the hilarious tale of two epic pranksters had me cracking up. I listened to the audiobook, so while I'm sure the book itself is great (there are illustrations inside making a perfect book to give kids who are enjoying chapter books with illustrations) I loved the audiobook so very much. Adam Verner, the narrator
, offers up a variety of voices for the characters and I laughed so much while I was listening-I especially loved his principal voice!
The pranks in this book are awesome and hysterical. These boys are not your average chalk in the eraser, whoopie cushion on the chair pranksters. They go above and beyond and their pranks are over the top that I know readers will get a kick of all their planning and pranking. The supporting characters are also very exaggerated, which adds to the humor. The principal comes from a long line of principals and he's a hapless leader. I loved the jokes about his speeches and principal lessons-I think adults would get a kick out of this book too.The Terrible Two
was a quick listen and a book I immediately went back to the library and started putting in the hands of my readers. It's perfect for readers who enjoy Jon Scieszka and when kid asks for a funny book, I know exactly what to give them. But make sure you have your readers promise they won't pull any of the pranks they learn on you!Full Disclosure: reviewed from audibook I checked out at my librar
Summer is here at if you work in the Public Library, than Summer equals Summer Reading and Summer Reading Programs.
Summer Reading encourages kids to read during their school break, read for fun and enjoyment, and keep up their reading so they avoid the Summer Slide
. I think we do a great job promoting that kids should read during the Summer at my library and we have great involvement and feedback about our Summer Reading Program. Parents comment that kids were motivated to read, they had fun, and that they used the activities on the game board to create fun activities for their family over Summer. This is all great and I love it, but there is a very hard part to Summer Reading that happens each and every year. No matter how much I try, I always hear the following comments:
"Read real books."
"You can only read books on your level."
"Listening doesn't count in our house."
When I hear these or other similar statements, I have to try really hard to make sure I don't make this face:
Photo Credit: Flickr, Mindaugas Danys
Because that screaming child pretty much sums up how I feel anytime I hear someone discrediting any reading-of any genre, format, or suggested age and level.
Reading is supposed to be enjoyable and Summer Reading finally gives kids a chance to have a break from everyone telling them what to read all school year long. I still remember one of my teens telling me how high school pretty much ruined her reading life because she was sick and tired of being told to read at a higher Lexile level and being forced to read classics instead of the YA books she wanted to read. Do we really want to turn out kids into reading haters? They don't get enough choice in school, so let them have choice during Summer. If we want our kids to become readers, we know the best way to get them to read is to let them read what they want. The best way to increase their reading skills and reading levels (which let's be honest, I hate reading levels and think they are a lot of nonsense, but that's a post for another day!) is to let them read. Scholastic's 5th Annual Reading Report
shows that "Ninety-one percent of children ages 6–17 say “my favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.”
(And really, go read the whole thing-it's fantastic!)
When I give my Summer Reading Spiel to parents and kids, I stress that ANYTHING they read counts. Any format, any genre, reading aloud, reading silently, reading together, reading alone, looking at books for pre-readers, audiobooks, ebooks-ANYTHING! I make a big deal at my school presentations to the kids that I'm not going to tell them what to read, their teachers aren't going to tell them what to read, and that their parents aren't going to tell them what to read. And this year I told them that if they do, that they need to come talk to me, because I will tell them that Summer Reading is all about choice! (I haven't had anyone show up yelling at me yet, but I'm still waiting for that angry parent who is upset because I promised their kid free choice for Summer Reading!)
Parents seem to get the importance of Summer Reading. Yet they are shocked to discover they can read aloud, listen to audiobooks, or read comic books!
I try to point out that listening is a great way to read for auditory learners, it can help kids who are struggling readers with a longer text, it can help readers who need to follow along with text and read aloud, they are fantastic models for storytelling, and audio can be a way to share a book together as a family. I also love how audiobooks work great for kids who can't sit still and need to move around while reading-audiobooks can provide the best of both worlds-movement and reading.
I talk about how graphic novels aren't easier just because they have picture, but instead of creating a picture alone in your mind along with the text, readers have to evaluate text and pictures while reading! Graphic novels can also be a way for readers who need more of a visual element to read classics because there are illustrations to help explain the context.
We have a PowerPoint that advertises our programs, new books, and other Library info. I'm hoping to take some stats from these various reports and cycle through them on our slideshow to encourage parents to take note that reading in various formats is of course reading! I may not win every battle, but I'm going to try my hardest. And I will continue to stress to every child and parent that comes in my library that ANYTHING they read counts for Summer Reading. If you want your child to read, let them read what they want-any genre, any format, and a book of their choice-because that is what is going to get them to read.
Happy Summer everyone! We are two weeks into our Summer Reading Program at my library (our program runs for 12 weeks!) and our programming starts today. I was inspired by my awesome friend Angie who tweeted this last week:
Summer is the MOST stressful time for a public librarian. BUT the secret they don't tell you is...it's also the most FUN.
(Miss P and me on the first day of Summer Reading!)
When people think of Summer, they still think of lazy days, lots of reading, vacations, and relaxing. When you become a public librarian your Summers become full of reading, programming, busy days, possibly working even more than you are scheduled to, and making it your mission (even more than usual) to get kids to read. This is can be tons of fun but it can also be stressful, exhausting, and incredibly rough.
I try to explain what it's like to my friends and family and even our regular patrons who wonder just why we're so busy. But it's hard to tell people what it's like unless they experience it from the front lines. To try and give you an idea, I looked up some stats to help tell the story.
- In January 2014 my library branch saw an average of 1,240 patrons walk through our doors each day.
- In June 2014 that number increased to an average of 1,552 patrons each day.
- Last year, my branch alone had 4,763 kids and teens participate in the Summer Reading Program (and remember, that's also kids and teens who are coming into our branch to check out books, pick up prizes, and attend programs-plus all the kids and parents who come & don't turn anything in for Summer Reading!)
- This Summer my staff is taking on 13 weekly programs in addition to lots of special and extra programming that is going on. This includes 7 weekly storytimes, 2 STEAM programs, 1 Tween program, 1 Fandom Jr program for preschoolers, and 2 outside performers (jugglers, musicians, etc that we bring in for special programs)
So we are exhausted by the end of an entire summer of this! It's so tiring and we end up answering a lot of the same questions which can sometimes make you feel like a librarian robot:
"how do you participate in the Summer Reading Program?"
"where is (enter popular series title)"
"when is storytime?"
"can you recommend any good books?"
"my child is learning to read, where are books for them?"
"why are there no (enter popular series title) on the shelf?"
There is hardly time to breathe because the lines are long, the questions are endless, you are constantly putting things on hold because nothing is ever on the shelf. We try but the shelves get wiped of anything anyone wants in the first week and there are hold lists all Summer long! If someone does find a popular book, I tell them it's their lucky day! Plus you have non-stop programming and you better have gotten it all planned before Summer Reading started because there is absolutely no time to get off desk to plan anything (remember that long line of patrons with questions/needing to turn in prizes/put books on hold?) And if you're the manager, good luck trying to make any meetings during the Summer and you'll most likely end up working on the schedule from home because it's the only time you have to work on anything!
Yet, as crazy as it is, as Angie mentioned, it's also our favorite time of year. It can also be incredibly rewarding. We get to share lots of success stories from families about their kids reading and learning about the fun and joys of reading. We get to see kids learn to read and read their first books on their own. We get to share in a families joy over discovering a great new family audiobook on their recent road trip. We get to show kids, teens and parents that they Library has amazing things to offer and has something for everyone. And we get to experience amazing stories like these (all of which I experienced in the last two weeks):
Just a couple of weeks ago I had a young boy come in looking for some books but the ones he wanted were checked out. He said he had to do Summer Reading because his mom was forcing him to. I told him that no one should be forced to read and asked him some questions about what he was interested in. After listening to his likes and dislikes, I found him a couple books I thought he might enjoy, pulled them off the shelf, gave him a short book talk (aka commercial for the book), and told him that if they didn't look good, it was OK-it didn't hurt my feelings and we'd try again. He took both books, read the first chapter of each, then excitedly came back to the desk to tell me he loved both of them and couldn't wait to read them!
We have a family that moved to France temporarily and this is their first Summer away. They decided they loved the Summer Reading Program so much they printed off their gameboards in France and are looking forward to turning them in when they visit home this Summer to get their free books!
I'm at a branch where we see a drop in program attendance once kids reach school age. They come to the Library but it's often to study or get homework materials and we don't see them as much during the school year. But once Summer comes they all come back and I get to see some of my favorite kids again. It's like a giant homecoming and I love it!
Summer is also the time we do the most Reader's Advisory (the suggesting of books) and it's a blast. It's the thing my staff tells me over and over that they love about Summer because we get to share books we're excited about, hear what our kids are excited about, and in general have a feel good time about reading.
So my fellow youth services librarians-let's cheer each other on. We know it's hard, we know it's exhausting, but we also know it's rewarding and fun. We're helping people find the joy of the library, we're helping them find the joy of reading, and we're helping them find the joy of having a place of their own. Rebecca at Hafuboti has a great idea for #libraryyes
Let's send some positive thoughts and love to each other this Summer. Let's remember to stay happy and positive and remember why we love our jobs. And let's remember to breathe, not stress, not worry, and enjoy the moment-let's have fun!
So next time you visit your Public Library or see your librarian, give them a hug, a smile, and maybe even some chocolate. And give them a high five and tell them you know how exhausting it is but remind them it's for a good cause. And they are fighting the good fight of Summer Reading.For more about what Summer Reading is like, check out Angie's Letter to a Young Librarian about Summer Reading Programs.
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I am so excited to share with you today about a beautiful debut novel, Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley. Myself and many other bloggers are celebrating this middle grade debut. There's even a letter from Cassie about how exciting it is to see her book enter to world today. Circus Mirandus has received three starred reviews and is an absolute gem of a book. Thanks so much to Word Spelunking for organizing this! More details about the book are below, as well as a Rafflecopter giveaway for a bunch of swag items, courtesy of Penguin Young Readers! Enter for a chance to win at the bottom of this post.
About the Book: Micah Tuttle believes in magic, even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve. Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real—and the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for. Readers will fall in love with Circus Mirandus, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in the world.
Ages ago I hung a poster in my room with the words “The Circus Opens Summer 2015” in bold letters across the top. At the time, it seemed that Summer 2015 would never come. Now, miraculously, June 2 is here, and Circus Mirandus is springing up in bookshops all over the country. In the story, those called to Circus Mirandus feel a change in the wind. They hear music on the air, pipes and drums leading them toward magic and hope and heart’s desires. Eventually they find themselves before the gates, standing, as I am now, on the threshold of somewhere both wonderful and unknowable. As people read the pages into which I’ve poured so much time and self, I wonder what they’ll think of the world I’ve created. I wonder if they will love it as much as I do. It’s an exciting moment, stepping through these gates into a place I’ve imagined but never seen. Thank you so much for making this journey with me. Thank you for supporting the book. Thank you, most of all, for believing.
CASSIE BEASLEY is from rural Georgia, where, when she's not writing, she helps out on the family pecan farm. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. CIRCUS MIRANDUS
is her first novel.
Did you know June is Audiobook Month?
I don't remember exactly when I first started listening to audiobooks. Most likely from the time I was very, very young. I remember checking out book and cassette tape sets from my local library. You know, the ones that had a beep to tell you when to turn the page. Then as I got older, I checked out chapter books. I would listen to them at night before I would go to bed and then I'd have to remember where I left off and rewind the book in the morning! My most favorite audiobook to listen to as a kid was From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler-I listened to it so much I had parts of the book memorized. I'm sure most of the check outs on that audiobook from the library were from me!
I didn't listen to audiobooks after elementary school much and didn't give them much thought for a long time. Then when it turned out we were moving and it would be a 9 hour car ride, my mother-in-law suggested that we listen to audiobooks to help pass the time. Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan and I listened to Harry Potter and I fell in love with audiobooks all over again.
Now I recommend audiobooks to every patron who comes into my library, I have a list of favorite narrators, I eagerly await the announcements of the Audies Awards and the Odyssey Awards each year, and I even review for AudioFile Magazine!
So to celebrate audiobook month, I plan on sharing lots of audiobook reviews this month. First up are a few that I reviewed for AudioFile Magazine and gave Earphones Awards to (the equivalent of a starred review) You can click on each title to read the full review.
And a few others I reviewed that are well worth the listen!
Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
Felicity Pickle is tired of moving around is hoping that Midnight Gulch will finally be the place where her momma's wandering heart will settle down. Felicity is a word collector and she sees words floating all around the people and places of Midnight Gulch. It used to be a magical place, but the magic is long gone. But Felicity and her newfound friend Jonah just might be able to stir some of that magic back into Midnight Gulch-and into everyone who lives there.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says
: Sometimes a narrator and a book were just made for each other and I think that's the case of Cassandra Morris and A Snicker of Magic
. I mean, there's a reason that this book is an Odyssey Honor Book! Just listen to the preview from Audible
Natalie Lloyd's debut novel oozes charm in such a good way that you want to curl up with Snicker, a bowl of delicious ice cream and read (or listen) all night long. This book has magic in it and it's the kind of magic that makes your heart sing and you just have to smile after you put the book down.
Felicity is the type of person who I want to be friends with. She smart and has some spunk, but she's also a bit shy, as being moved around has made her grow more into herself. She's nervous to get close to those around her because she knows her family may just up and leave again so it's hard to make friends. But she can't resist Jonah-and really, who could? If I want Felicity to be my friend, then I want Jonah there with us leading the way. Jonah is wonderful and funny and is the perfect pull to Felicity's shyness and they compliment each other beautifully. It's a fantastic friendship and I loved every moment of it.
The rest of the cast of characters are eccentric and delightful and the town of Midnight Gulch is a character all its own. I wish Midnight Gulch was a real place because I would love to visit-especially for that ice cream! (Did I mention there was ice cream that sounds so good it will make you so mad that it's fictional in this book?) Felicity and Midnight Gulch are a wonderful next step for readers who are looking for something after Anne of Green Gables
or The Penderwicks
. I think if they could, Anne and Felicity would be great literary kindred spirits. Reading A Snicker of Magic brought me back to those books I grew up on with the characters I wanted to be and I can see a young reader out there hoping she can grow up and become just like Felicity.
Cassandra Morris has a sweet voice with the perfect southern accent to really bring Midnight Gulch to life and her slow deliberate narration and drawl add to the atmosphere of the book. I loved this one on audio! If you have families looking for a great listen on a car ride, I would give this one a try.
If you read it or listen to it, A Snicker of Magic
is an adorable and a splindiddly turn of words and phrases. Felicity is a word collector and Natalie Lloyd is a master of words herself. I can't wait to get lost in her book.
Book Pairings: The Penderwicks
by Jeanne Birdsall, Because of Winn-Dixie
by Kate DiCamillo, Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. MontgomeryFull Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook sent by publisher for review
Add to GoodreadsAudible Audiobook PreviewAbout the Book:
Nate is off to New York City to start auditions for E. T.: The Broadway Musical! The show is full of child actors, a director who no one thinks can actually pull this off, and understudies who are even crazier in person! Will the show make it to previews? Will Nate make his Broadway debut?GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
I adored Better Nate Than Ever
so very much. so I was thrilled to have Nate back and enjoy more of his naive optimism when it comes to show tunes, Broadway, and people and life in general.
As usual, Nate sees the good in everything around him and that makes him a very charming character. While the rest of the cast isn't sure this show is going to take off and just doing it for a job, Nate is there because he's living his dream and his belief that the show is magical makes it magical. He also could make Jordan, the lead child actor who is playing the role of Elliot into his nemesis, and while there is some early rivalry, Nate doesn't let that stop him from befriending Jordan-or the other kid actors. He even manages to make his way into the heart of one of the other E.T. understudies. Everyone who Nate comes in contact with really ends up falling for his charms-as do the readers, which makes this book so wonderful. Nate's optimism is infectious.
In addition to all the Broadway talk, show tunes references, and theater geek goodies galore, Tim Federle explores two tougher topics in a deftly and perfect way-the absence of Nate's parents and the topic of Nate's sexuality. While the topic of Nate's parents is hard to discuss in an otherwise happy-go-lucky feel of a book, but instead of getting too deep and bogged down, it's handled seamlessly in the story. Nate struggles with the absence of his parents, why they don't check in, why they don't seem happier for him, and why they don't share his passions and his dreams. But he finds comfort in his Aunt Heidi, who steps in as caretaker while he is in New York, and while I think it will take longer for Nate's dad to come around, I think there is hope for his mom to come visit him and see her son on stage someday.
Nate has a secret admirer in the book and he suspects it's one of the girls in the cast-and Nate isn't sure how he feels about that. And he's in for a surprise when he discovers who it is! The sweet, tender romance, of a gay boy isn't often explored in middle grade novels and again, the author does a great job fitting this into the story. Nate's romance is adorable and you just want to cheer him on throughout the entire book.
I listened the first book on audio and knew I had to listen to this one too. Tim Federle needs to narrate more audiobooks because he is awesome! Not only is his writing hilarious, but his narration is spot on. He nails the innocence of Nate, the overprotective stage parent, the tired (and a bit washed up) actors, the clueless director, the tough choreographer who rules the stage-they are all wonderfully created on audio via Federle's narration. I was so excited to see this auidobook win an Odyssey Honor!
While the book does have a bit of a 42nd Street
ending, I thought it fit Nate's story well and loved seeing the world of Broadway through his eyes. I can't wait to read more from Tim Federle-my inner theater kid needs more!
Book Pairings: Jack & Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate WeatherheadFull Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook sent by publisher
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About the Book:
In 1909 London, girls are expected to follow the rules, behave, and marry well. But Victoria Darling wants none of those things-she wants to be an artist. Her passion for art takes a turn when she scandalizes her family by posing nude at her secret art class. She is pulled from her finishing school and returned home where her parents arrange a marriage for her to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky wants other things for her future-she wants to attend the Royal Academy of Art and she knows she can make it-but she has to finish her portfolio. She befriends a local policeman who becomes her muse and gets caught up in the burgeoning suffragette movement. Vicky wants to choose her own path and she is determined to make that happen.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I love historical drama set in this time period anyway, so I was sure to fall for this book, but there was so much happening and Vicky is such a fantastic strong character that I think I would have fallen head of heels for it anyway-even without the historical setting!
Vicky is a cross between Sybil Crowley and Arya Stark. She's passionate, she knows what she wants and she's not afraid to go after it herself. In a time where women were told to stay quiet and behave, Vicky doesn't listen. Instead she stays strong, follows her own path and makes her own way. It's not easy and she doesn't expect it to be, but that's also why she's incredibly tough. She knows what she's giving up to go after her dreams-she knows she's giving up a nice cozy future and while it takes her awhile to fully let it go, she comes to terms with it in the end and realizes that some dreams are worth working for.
I'll admit there were times I wanted to scream and Vicky and ask what she thought she was doing! While she eventually realizes that marriage to a stuffy rich boy is not the way to art filled future, she is somewhat naive about others. She thinks that she'll be able to fulfill her dream of attending art school once married and it took her a long time to figure out that wasn't going to happen! I saw that coming and would get frustrated with her, but I also had to remind myself that she was coming at it from a naive viewpoint and was acting exactly as I would expect her to-frustrating or not.
I adored the romance in this book and loved that Vicky wasn't all about focusing on Will, the policeman she befriends. There is romance in the book, but it's not the focus and it's not something Vicky spends a lot of time fretting about. Instead she is more concerned with her future and working with the suffragettes. I also loved the details and characters from Vicky's work with fighting for woman's rights. These women went through a lot to fight for equality and the author doesn't shy away from the way they were treated or the horrific things they experienced-from beatings to starving in prison and being force-fed.
Vicky is an incredibly strong and thoughtful character and I loved her story. While the book dragged at times (which I think was especially noticeable while listening to it on audio) overall I really enjoyed it. Historical fiction readers, readers who enjoy strong female characters, and readers interested in women's rights are sure to enjoy this-and check it out on audio!
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook I checked out from my library