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A Teen and Tween Librarian's thoughts on books, reading and adventures in the library.
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Caldecott is over, family birthdays are over for a few months, and life is starting to get back into a routine that doesn't include piles of picture books every evening. (Well, at least picture books to take notes with-Toddler GreenBean ensures we have piles of picture books to read every night!!)
I really want to get back to reading for fun and reading chapter books again, but I feel so overwhelmed and I don't know where to start! Enter my wonderful friends and our February Reading Challenge-Yes We Crab!
Five years ago I met these lovely ladies at ALA Midwinter: Angie
I often tell people that our fist meeting was like going to summer camp, meeting your best friend, and then having to go back home. Luckily, we get to see each other at least once and sometimes twice a year at ALA and we keep up with each other via Twitter, Email, Facebook. We are always sharing program ideas, library talk, and what we're reading. So when the others all said they wanted to do a reading challenge, we all jumped at the chance and Yes We Crab was born.
It's easy to join in! All you have to do is set a goal for yourself and follow along. Post your progress on Twitter with the hastag #yeswecrab and we'll cheer you along! Your goal can be about reading, about keeping up with blogging-anything!
My Yes We Crab Goal: Read 20 books (and yes, picture books totally count!!!!) and write a blog post at least once a week.
What's your February Reading Goal? Can we do it? Yes We Crab!
Just over a week later and I am still reeling from my amazing Caldecott year. Now comes the fun part of celebrating and sharing our winning titles! I had a wonderful time being part of the 2016 Caldecott Committee. Everyone was so kind, thoughtful, and caring and we really listened to each other as we shared and talked about books-and that made such a huge impact on me and my committee experience.
Our committee really bonded and even though we've only met in person a handful of times, I have had some of the best discussions about books with them and they are people I will always love and respect.
|Photo credit: Rachel Payne|
Being on the committee is a lot of work. Some people have asked me if it was easier or harder than when I was on Printz, and it's hard to say. In some ways, I felt I was reading more and getting more done with picture books-several pages of picture books also can mean several books whereas several pages of a chapter book can sometimes barely be a dent at all. But Caldecott was a completely different thing-analyzing art and illustration over the text which was very new to me. I cherish the experience and conversations I had with my fellow committee members-it's really made me look at picture books in a new way and I feel like I'm a better librarian because of it. I also truly believe that being on a committee helps you trust the process even more!
The things that made such an impact on me in our committee discussions are also things that I think can help make an impact on any book discussion. Listen openly and listen to everyone, read, read, and read some more and take lots of notes, and learn to let go. I wish more book discussions could follow these practices-I think we would go far if we did! Even outside of book discussions, these are things that I plan to really focus on and practice at work-listening to everyone and learning to let go. I think doing so can make me a better manager and help me to serve our patrons even more. Who knew committee work had such broad implications on our lives? :)
I am so proud of our group and the work we did. If you haven't already, head on over to The Horn Book, where our amazing chair Rachel shares about our winners
. I am so excited to share our books with the world and with the kids in my library. I'm already planning storytimes and outreach using these books and I hope you do too! If you do, I would love to hear about it!
|Photo Credit: Elise Katz|
After lots of reading and discussing, we eagerly got up early Monday morning to make our calls. Our phone calls were so incredible! Our illustrators cried, we cried, we cheered-it was joyous. I will never forget that moment when we told Sophie Blackall she was the 2016 Medal Winner and I broke down in tears as we cheered (and she cried on the other end of the phone-a surefire way to make sure the committee cries along with you!) I can't wait to be with my Caldecrew again in June at Annual-this time with our illustrators along with us to celebrate our hard work!
To future award committees-you can do it! It will be a journey of a lifetime and savor every moment! To my Caldecrew-you are all amazing! Thank you for a wonderful experience that I will never forget! Thank you for letting me make 14 wonderful new best friends who I can't wait to see again and share books with! And to our five fantastically talented illustrators-thank you for creating beautiful art to share with the world. You make being a librarian the best job in the world!
Enjoy this year's winners-I know you will!
My blog has really suffered this year-but for a good reason!Nope, no Caldecott eligible titles in this photo-this is my son's giant to-read pile, but you can use your imagination and pretend to understand the amount of reading I've been doing this year!
I have been spending my time working on the 2016 Caldecott Committee! We're getting down to the wire now with our meetings starting next week, so this past month has been incredibly hectic.
So, what is it like to be on an award committee? Well, it's lots and lots of reading. And then lots and lots of note-taking. Luckily, I've had some help in that area:
Now that Midwinter is getting closer, there's even more reading, note-taking, reading again, reading what others have said in their nominations and preparing your notes for what you want to say in all of your discussions.
That's where I've been and what I'll be up to over the next couple weeks. There most likely won't be many new blog posts until Midwinter is over. I can't wait to see what all the other committees award at the Youth Media Awards Announcements! Here's to a great year of reading!
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Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about how we're getting Back to Basics at my library.
Voyagers: Project Alpha
by D. J. McHale
About the Book: Earth is in danger! Without a renewable source of clean energy, our planet will be toast in less than a year. There are 6 essential elements that, when properly combined, create a new power source. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy. And only a spaceship piloted by children can reach it and return to Earth safely. First the ideal team of four 12-year-olds must be chosen, and then the first element must be retrieved. There is not a mistake to be made, or a moment to lose. The source is out there. Voyagers is blasting off in 3, 2, 1…
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I was thinking the other day about trends in middle grade lit and I realized that science fiction and stories set in space are becoming more popular. Add that to the multi-platform trend of middle grade books written by various authors (think 39 Clues, Spirit Animals) and you've got a winner. I know that I have an audience of readers ready to go crazy over Voyagers. I mean, what's more exciting than the idea that only kids can save the world and they have to go into space and have adventures in order to do so? In some ways, Voyagers could be likened to Star Trek for tweens if kids were sent on a mission.
The books are action packed, part mystery, part science fiction, part adventure and they are lots of fun. The cast of characters is also diverse. I really love Piper, who is in a wheelchair, yet demonstrates that that won't stop her from traveling in space and being part of the team-she can do what everyone else can. (If you're a savvy reader, you'll figure out from the cover of book 1 who gets chosen for the mission, but there are still surprises along the way, so don't worry!)
The additional elements on VoyagersHQ.com are engaging and fun. I love the videos of the possible candidates and the quiz-kids really get a chance to feel like they're part of the Voyagers mission.
The series is fun and exciting and sure to be a hit with middle grade readers who are fascinated by space-and can also be a good intro into science fiction for young readers.
Want to win The Voyagers Experience prize pack?
THE VOYAGERS EXPERIENCE prize pack
Get the full Voyagers experience! One (1) winner receives:
· The first two books in the series;
· Branded iPhone6 case and home GadgetGrip button to deck out your device while experiencing the Voyagers app.
Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Random House Children’s Books.
FIll out the form below to enter! One entry per person. Contest ends 11/22
Flannel Friday is a weekly roundup of posts about storytime and flannelboard ideas. You can visit the website here
Librarian confession time-I am not a crafty librarian. Crafts for me mean fingerprints or play-dough. I wish I could knit cute puppets to use in storytime, but if I'm lucky, I can make an ok paper bag puppet. And my flannels just aren't pretty-so I rarely make them. (I'm more of a print it off from Kizclub
and use magnets type of librarian!)
But I wanted a way to tell Buddy and the Bunnies by Bob Shea
so that the kids knew who was talking. I'm reading the book, puppets weren't going to work. And since this is one of our state picture book award nominees, I'm planning on reading it a few times. In the past, the kids have had trouble knowing which character was speaking. So I made Buddy and Bunnies. While reading, I'll point to each character and move them on the flannel board to help the kids visualize who's speaking.
So here's my Buddy and Bunnies:
"I will eat you Bunnies!"
My first Buddy was a bit scary, so I had to make a happy Buddy too.
The whole set. (Yes, I know the bunnies multiply by the end of the book, but I stuck with the original three to keep it simple)
Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
After an accident leaves Samantha homeless and fatherless, she's not sure what to do. It's Missouri, 1849 and her dreams of being a musician are not going to be easy-she's a girl and she's Chinese American. Without a place to go, she's invited to a local hotel run by her landlord. But he has other plans for Samantha in mind-namely working in his brothel. Samantha fights back and finds herself needing to escape and fearing for her life. She meets a slave who works at the hotel named Annamae, who is also planning to run. So together they disguise themselves as boys and set off on the Oregon Trail to find Annamae's brother and and a new life for Samantha. As Sammy and Andy, they meet up with a group of cowboys who become unexpected allies. But if they knew the truth, the group could be in trouble-Annamae and Samantha are both wanted by the law. A powerful story of friendship and family.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
Who knew the world needed a YA Western? It's not a genre I get asked about regularly (although here in Missouri I do get asked this question once in awhile). Stacey Lee knew we needed an amazing girl powered YA Western featuring a diverse cast of characters and lots of keep you up reading adventure-and I'm so glad she did!
At first glance, Under A Painted Sky
might be a hard sell to readers. Like I said, it's not every day I get asked for the western genre or even historical fiction. But there's one way to sell this book-have readers just open it up and read the first chapter-or even the first two chapters. The book starts with such a bang and within just a few pages, our main characters have met up and are off on the trail. There's not much waiting around for the adventure to start-it's there from page one. And it never stops. Each chapter brings a new setback on the trail, a new hardship, a new adventure, a new crisis to overcome. The details of trail life are hard and brutal (and eye-opening for readers who might be very familiar with this period in history) But it's not all dreary. There is lots of humor injected into the story as well. I love Annamae and her various quips and the cowboys can be a jovial bunch.
The thing I loved most about Under a Painted Sky
, aside from how fast paced the plot is, is how diverse the cast is. Sammy and Andy meet up with cowboys who are from Texas and one of the cowboys, Petey, is from Mexico. Along the trail they meet up with people who have come from all over-a group from France, a gang of boys from Scotland. I listened to this book on audio and this is where I really fell in love with the audio-the narrator does an excellent job with all the various languages and accents.
I will admit that Sammy is a bit too perfect at times. She has overcome a lot of odds in a society that is against her and while that makes her a strong character, it also felt a bit too perfect. She can speak many languages so she can translate along the trail, she can play the fiddle (mostly seen as a man's instrument), she is well educated. I liked that she fought against expectations, but at times it felt a bit too much for the novel overall. Sammy could always save the day.
The friendship that develops between Andy and Sammy is the strongest relationship overall. They develop a strong and powerful bond and it's a beautiful picture of female friendship. They have been through something very hard and it's not going to get easier from here-the road ahead of them is still full of many trials and tribulations. Yet through it all they grow close to each other and find family in each other. I loved seeing two strong female characters in this book and I enjoyed reading about both of them.
The cowboys-Petey, West, and Cay-add another element to the novel both of drama and fun. Cay is the most lighthearted-always joking, flirting with various girls they might meet up with, and having fun along the way. Petey and West are more serious with West having the most difficult background and prejudices to overcome. His story is handled deftly. Sammy develops feelings for West, but as she's keeping her true identity a secret from the boys, the romance isn't very angsty. And since they have bigger things to deal with-like surviving-there's not much dwelling on the idea of a starcrossed romance. There is still romance in the book, but it's not the main plot point and I felt that it was well done and added a nice depth to the novel without feeling out of place. The focus is on Andy and Sammy, their friendship and the overall trip to California.
I absolutely loved this book. I've been suggesting to everyone and couldn't stop talking about it after I read it. I even got Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan to read it (which is huge!) and he enjoyed it. (He loved that there wasn't much angst in it as well) I would recommend it on audio, as the narrator does a wonderful job, but reading it is just as enjoyable-I couldn't wait to get through the last disc and finished the last 80 pages by reading it myself. I can't wait to see what Stacey Lee has in store for us next-I'm sure it will be wonderful! Even if you think you don't need a YA Western, give Under A Painted Sky
a try-you might be surprised to discover a book in a genre you never knew you enjoyed.Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook checked out from my library and finished book received from publisher
Sherri L. Smith's newest book is based on The Nutcracker. Taking on a classic story is always interesting and I love knowing how authors research and make a well known story their own, so I wanted to know more about the research process for The Toymaker's Apprentice.
Most people don’t realize that the Nutcracker ballet has its origins in an E.T.A. Hoffman story, Nussknacker und Mausekönig
published in 1816. Some thirty years later, Hoffman’s strange story caught the imagination of Alexandre Dumas—the man who wrote The Three Musketeers
and other popular novels. It was Dumas’ version that Tchiakovsky based his ballet upon. Luckily for me, as a kid, I fell in love with both the Hoffman story and the ballet. As an adult, I found myself still daydreaming about the mysterious godfather Drosselmeyer, and the story behind the story. So it wasn’t much of a stretch to think that one day I would tackle those questions for myself.
In my office is a blue binder stuffed to the gills with indexed pages: 18th
Century Clothing. Asia. Turkey. Arabic Cooking. Clockmaking. Nuts. You name it. When I finally decided to tackle this book, I amassed so much information that the novel sank. It disappeared from view under the weight of too many possibilities, which took me ten years to assimilate and resurface with a story worth telling.
It’s a strange thing when you are a writer. The book the world sees is only one version of a multiverse of books I’ve written or imagined, all a different variation on the same story. The version of Toymaker
that you will read took several passes of research. From that initial binder (I even recruited my mother into researching various time periods for me) to the last round of spelunking into the history and politics of 1815 Europe, and toy and clockmaking of the period, I did as much research as I could from libraries and a laptop in California. I read up on lifespans of the various animals in the books, and the land speed of mice versus humans. How to crack nuts. Christmas traditions in Nuremberg. I could give you a long list and sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump talking about shrimp.
The idea is, you find out as much as you can, set it in the back of your mind, and then tell the story. I find my brain will pull out the supporting details it needs to keep the story alive and moving forward. Because of this method, which is rather like sifting for gold, I am always researching stories whenever I read or learn about something new. I remember in patting myself on the back one day for inventing catacombs beneath the city of Nuremberg that worked perfectly for my story. Then I went back and looked at my notes. There are catacombs! And they still work as if I made them myself!
The best news for all us struggling writers out there is, if you’re midstream in a story and can’t come up with a good idea based on what you know, it doesn’t mean the story doesn’t work. You just need to do more research.
About the Book: (from Goodreads) Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family.
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
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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!
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!
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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!
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.
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.
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!