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A Teen and Tween Librarian's thoughts on books, reading and adventures in the library.
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So I'm going to try my best to share my predictions and we'll see how close I can get (probably not close at all!) Here are my predictions (and hopes!) for Monday morning:
I wish I had come across this one when I was making my Mock Caldecott list because it would have made our final list for sure. If I was on the committee, this is one I would be championing for-the texture, the use of words in the art, the collage style-it's all fantastic.
I think this may be a strong year for honor books and we may end up with quite a few depending on how the committee discussion and voting shakes down.
I think this wordless book will be getting some love.
The detail! It's gotta count for something!
Caldecott Dark Horse:
I have two possible dark horses this year:
I've only recently been seeing Flashlight crop on other Mock lists. When this one came across my desk, myself and all of my staff immediately said Caldecott! I hope we're right!
Photography never does well in award discussions, but if any book can do it, I think Viva Frida can!
No surprise there-I think Brown Girl Dreaming is a shoe-in for the top title.
Maybe it's just because I adored this book and am attached to it personally, but I really would love to see Snicker get honored!
It would be great to see a book featuring an average kid and the writing here is above average!
Fantasy for the win please! I think Glass Sentence has fantastic world building that could help this one in the final push for an honor.
Newbery Dark Horse:
Please, please, please can a graphic novel win this year???
Last year showed us that beginning chapter books have a chance and if any early chapter book has a shot, I think Dory Fantasmagory can lend itself to some fantastic discussion. I would love to hear critical discussion about this one!
This one is tough because I think it's a close call between two books, but I think in the end it will be Grasshopper Jungle.
I think Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is the other book that could end up winning and it's a close call, but I think one will be the winner and one will be an honor book. I would love to see both with shiny stickers on them!
Andrew Smith is a powerhouse writer and I think he can pull of an epic Printz Win and Honor this year!
If we see any non-fiction honored this year by the Printz committee, I think it will the Romanovs.
Printz Dark Horse:
I had a hard time thinking of a Printz Dark Horse just because I think the contenders are so strong this year. But if I had to pick one, I think would go with:
What are your predictions this year? Anything I left out?
This year my library hosted our first ever Mock Newbery! We hosted it just for staff, but I think it would be great to host one with our patrons someday as well.
We had a shortlist of six titles that we read and discussed. After much discussion and voting, we came up with our winner and two honor books:
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Our group was impressed by the lyrical writing of Brown Girl Dreaming and how each poem stood alone but also contributed to the larger story. There were also comments on the characterization, which is very well drawn out. Even when we are introduced to a character with very little detail and background, we still felt that we knew them.
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
West of the Moon by Margi Preus
The group again loved the well developed characters in A Snicker of Magic. There was lots of discussion about the wonderful wordplay and excellent world building and setting. Our readers also loved that Jonah was a character with a disability without it being part of his character or defining him-he was just Jonah. There were many passionate readers who had a lot of support for this novel.
I have to say I was a bit surprised at the overwhelming love and support for West of the Moon from our group! I thought it would be one people didn't enjoy as much, but we had several members in our group who were very passionate about this one. They pointed out the world building and unique folklore style as high points of the novel. The author's note and factual information listed in the back were also a plus for our readers.
On Saturday we hosted our third annual Mock Caldecott program. This discussion is open to patrons and we had a group of 15 eager readers ready to discuss! The age range of our group was from age 5-adult and the kid's comments were some of the best! We started with ten on our shortlist and came up with a winner and three honor books:
It was a tough choice and we had a great discussion, but our ultimate winner was:
Have You Seen My Dragon by Steve Light
The group pointed out the unique style and how the book had a lot of great detail without feeling too overwhelmed by the pictures. The full page spreads worked well. One of our younger readers pointed out how only the items that were being counted were in color, which made the book unique and stand out. The group also mentioned how the artwork in this book worked far away and close up which was a plus. They were impressed by the artistic style in ink.
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
Have You Heard the Nesting Bird by Rita Gray, illustrated by Kenard Park
Firefly July by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
The group loved the interplay between light and dark in Flashlight and appreciated the cutouts on each page. One of my favorite comments was from our five-year-old member who did point out that animals can't hold flashlights and that part wasn't real.
In Have You Heard the Nesting Bird, the group mentioned the nature feel of each page and that while the artistic style had been done before, it appeared fresh and new with this book. There were full page spreads that you could get lost in and would love to have prints of. One of our teen members mentioned how some of the pages had too much white space which made it a bit distracting, which was something I hadn't thought about before when I looked at this book!
And our final honor book, Firefly July was chosen for the unique style and the way the art evoked the various seasons.
One of my favorite comments of the day was when one of our younger members, age 8, mentioned that her favorite from the shortlist was Grandfather Gandhi because of the use of fabric. I think she's a future committee member in the making!
I love our Mock Award programs and they are something I look forward to every year! I love hearing all of the great comments and thinking and discussing books in a new way.
We can't wait to find out what wins!
About the Book: (From Goodreads)-Winning what you want may cost you everything you love
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: As an avid reader and librarian who has a constantly huge TBR pile, it takes a lot for me to get into a series and want to read a sequel and keep a series on my radar. And oh my goodness, let me tell you that The Winner's Curse is a book that I am keeping on my radar and eagerly awaiting the next book in the series and I can't wait to keep going!
There are so many things to like about The Winner's Curse. First off, I really love Kestrel. She's a strong female character and I love seeing strong women in YA, especially young women who really come into their own and learn to stand up for themselves over the course of the book. She doesn't swoon for boys or need a guy to save her. Kestrel is uncovering the veiled world she's lived in and questioning what she has always thought she knew and her journey there is fantastic to read.
Arin might be a bit on the broody side, but he's a strong character as well. I LOVE that there was not a love triangle in this book-thank you Ms. Rutkoski!!! Kestrel and Arin are both having to uncover long held truths and put aside prejudices they have about each other and this aspect of the novel is especially well written and developed. I really liked the interplay between them as they go from mistrust to an uneasy trust to a possible relationship that has too many barriers in its way. It's intriguing and makes the novel especially appealing.
The world building is also fantastic. It's hard to classify this book exactly-it's a bit fantasy, a bit historical, a bit dystopian, a bit romance, a bit adventure, a bit mystery, and a bit political intrigue. There really is something for everyone. And while there is a romantic plot line, it is not so central to the story that non-romance readers would be turned off from it.
I actually listened to this book on audio and I really enjoyed the various accents the narrator used throughout. It made the characters even more realistic and I thought it created even more intrigue. With a big surprise cliffhanger for the ending, readers will be eagerly anticipating the sequel!
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook checked out from my local library
The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price. What would you pay too much for?
As part of The Winner's Curse blog tour, participants have been asked what they would pay too much for. That is such a hard question!
My first answer when I saw this question was books-ha! I know Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan would say that's the truth! But I can't help it-I love books. And while I don't think I would spend thousands of dollars (or more) for a signed copy or a limited edition (I'm not that much of a collector), I do think in my own way I spend too much for books at times.
It's always a risk-taking a chance on a book that you may or may not like. If it turns out to be something you don't like, did you pay too much for it? Or what if you purchase a book and you don't ever end up reading it? And then it takes up room on your shelf (shelf space is valuable!!) and you keep telling yourself you promise you'll read it this year, but then another year passes and you still haven't read it? Was the price too high then? And like I tell my readers at the library all the time, life is too short to read bad books. It takes time to read-precious time out of your already busy day, so you want to make the most of it and read something that you will enjoy reading. You don't want it to be a chore. And if it becomes a chore, than it's not enjoyable anymore and you've paid too much by loosing your enjoyment of reading.
Maybe that's silly to think of books in that way. But with as much time as I spend thinking, researching, reading, talking, and writing about books, books make up a significant part of my life! I want to get what I paid for! Maybe that's why I should just stick to library books!
Want to win a copy of The Winner's Curse? Enter the giveaway below!
-One entry per person
-US address only
-One entry per person
-Contest ends January 30
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About the Book: Something strange is going on in the tiny coastal town of Liberty, Oregon. Cara has never seen a whale swim close enough for her to touch it—let alone knock her into the freezing water. Fortunately, cute newcomer David is there to save her, and the rescue leads to a bond deeper than Cara ever imagined.
So when she learns David’s interning as a teacher at her school, Cara is devastated. She turns to her best friend for support, but Rachel has changed. She’s suddenly into witchcraft & is becoming dangerously obsessed with her new boyfriend.
Cara has lost her best friend, discovered her soul mate is off limits, and has attracted the attention of a stalker. But she’s not completely alone. Her mysterious, gorgeous new friend Garren is there to support her. But is Garren possibly too perfect?
Swoon Reads is the perfect new imprint from Macmillan for romance readers. There are romances for every kind of reader and Save Me is a mash up of several different paranormal tropes. Mysterious new guys, strange small town happenings, and Readers who love paranormal, romance, and suspense are sure to fall in love with Save Me. Want to read it? Enter to win a copy!
-Open to US Addresses only
-Contest Ends January 24
-Fill out form to enter
Follow the Tour:
Jenny Elliott is a lifelong resident of Washington State and lives in Spokane with her husband and four kids. Writing fiction is her favorite method for avoiding insanity. Other avoidance techniques include reading, playing Scrabble, and browsing social media sites. Save Me is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter at @jennykelliott. Swoon Reads is the crowd-sourced teen romance imprint founded by Jean Feiwel and published under Feiwel and Friends, a division of Macmillan. Swoon Reads is a community where members are included in every step of the publishing process, from acquiring manuscripts to choosing cover directions. To find out more and discover the best in swoon-worthy novels visit SwoonReads.com or follow us on Twitter at @SwoonReads.
Me at the 2013 Youth Media Awards Announcement
I'm about to start another major award committee year. I can't wait to get started and I'm eager to meet my fellow committee members, share and talk books with them! Being on a committee is a lot of work and it's a huge undertaking! Here's what it's like being on a book award committee:
-June-July (about a year and a half before your actual term starts if you are to be elected): Find out that you have been asked to be on the ballot for a committee term in the upcoming ALA elections! Squeal loudly to your husband about this. Do not tell anyone else as this is top secret news.
-July-Mid-October-wait anxiously for more news.
-Mid-October-Finally hear more details about the election and learn that it is now on the ALA site so you can announce your news and tell friends you'd love if they voted for you!
-End October-November-Submit ballot information to ALA so you can have a cool bio on the election page. Fret of what to say and ask best library friends for lots of advice and editing help. They're awesome and cheer you on.
-December-March-Another long waiting game.
-End of March-ALA election! Cross fingers and hope people pick you.
-Early May-Election results are in! Friends say congrats on Facebook and you do a happy dance when you get the official phone call. Your library director screams in excitement and immediately tweets your news and your manager gives you a big hug and shares your excitement. Husband is excited but dreading the shifting of the bookshelves yet again and the amount of books coming. Small baby smiles and has no idea how many books will be read to him next year.
-May-July-Hear from committee chair and look up the others who were elected and friend them on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Start making connections with your fellow committee members. If you are appointed, this is about the time you would find out and the entire committee is formed.
-July-December-Read committee manual and start getting books from the suggested reading list to help you prepare. Read books on children's literature and evaluating children's literature. For Caldecott, there are also a lot of books on evaluating art and using art in picture books.
-December-Organize bookshelves and rearrange books and shelves to make room for committee books. Come up with a shelf system for "to read", "read", and "read again" books.
-January-Start making a list of books you want to take a look at. Look through publisher catalogs, look at Goodreads, anticipated book lists on blogs. Read review journals and check out reviews. While books will be sent to the committee for consideration, you can still put things on hold at the library and browse bookstore shelves for more ideas. Attend ALA Midwinter and have first in person meeting with fellow committee members and go over committee work and get to know each other. Squeal a lot in excitement!
-February-June-Read, read, read! More list making, review reading, and seeking out books. Lots of notetaking!
-June-Attend ALA Annual and attend committee meetings. Practice discussing titles that have been read so far, but no official nominations are in yet. This is more of a prep meeting for your big meeting in January and also to catch up with each other since your reading has been done in a vacuum up to this point.
-July-December-Read, read, and read some more! More notetaking, review reading and list making. More reorganizing of shelves and piling of books everywhere. Lots of saying no to hanging out with friends because you have to read. Typically nominations/suggestions are due from committee members in rounds with Caldecott and Newbery, but with Printz nominations/suggestions were open year round. Throughout this time you'll be getting emails from your chair with the nominations/suggestions from other committee members so you can prioritize your reading and know what you need to take an in depth look at for your January meeting. You should have a final list of all titles to be discussed by end of December-early January depending when the Midwinter meeting is.
-January-Mad rush to the finish line! Read, read, read, and notetaking like crazy! You need to be ready to defend the titles you feel strongly about and point out what makes them award worthy. What are the pros and cons? What works in this book that makes it stand out? What doesn't work in this book? Attend ALA Midwinter and spend three days sequestered in a room with your fellow committee members discussing and discussing and discussing and voting and voting and voting on the titles on the table. Sometimes it might be an easy discussion about a title and sometimes not. Sometimes you have to vote several times to get a winner and sometimes not. But at the end of it all you'll feel exhausted and exhilarated! On the Monday morning of the conference you'll wake up early and call your winners which is incredibly exciting (and honestly might make you cry!) Then you'll sit in the awards announcement and hope that everyone else is excited about your choices as you are. Then sit back and relax and celebrate your hard work!
-February-May-Relax! Take a reading break. Don't read anything in the genre or age group that you were reading in or don't read at all! That's OK!
-June-Attend ALA Annual and celebrate with your winning authors and publishers and committee members. Attend the awards banquet or reception and cheer for your authors and feel a major sense of accomplishment in all your hard work. Celebrate with family and thank them for their support in your year of epic reading!
It's a ton of work but also so very worth it! It's also made me a better librarian when it comes to evaluating materials for children and teens and reviewing books.
Have you served on a committee? Anything else to add? What was your year like?
It's the first Tuesday of the month, which means it's time for Tune In Tuesday. Tune In Tuesday where I share (and invite others to share) some of their favorite music to use in storytime and library programs-or just for fun!
This month's featured artist: Koo Koo Kangaroo! Really, this just goes to show that I should listen to the other youth services staff at our other branches when they suggest music. Our library has hosted Koo Koo Kangaroo in concert twice, but I sadly missed the shows both times. Then Ingrid at Magpie Librarian posted her toddler dance party playlist and it had an awesome song from Koo Koo Kangaroo and I just knew I had to include them in my upcoming dance party too!
I used Dinosaur Stomp:
I love that there's even a video you can share with dance moves if you wanted. I might do that in storytime sometime, but I didn't set up the video for the dance party. I just used the moves and got the kids dancing, stomping and chomping. I thought maybe it would be a bit long for my younger kids, but they loved it and had a blast stomping around. And all that stomping and chomping is a workout! This song would also pair well with Laurie Berkner's We Are the Dinosaurs for a dinosaur theme.
I also really love Wiggle It which is another great one to use with little kids and older kids alike!
has encouraged everyone to share their professional goals for 2015 and resolve to rock the year! Here are my professional goals for 2015 and how I hope to rock this year:
1. Create monthly stats and stories reports for my manager, administration, my staff and myself. Stats are gold in the library world. And stats and stories are a powerful way to communicate what we see every day in the library. I know the impact youth services in the library has on our community. I hear the feedback from our patrons. But how often do I share that with staff, managers, and administration? My goal is to create short reports highlighting something the youth services department did each month to share.
2. Time management professionally and personally. I'm entering into a committee year, which means tons of reading in my personal time. I also blog and review for review journals in addition to my job and my family and social life. I want to really focus on making sure I have good time management skills to balance everything I do and work on finding a balance between what I do for work and what I do for me.
3. Keep up! I am notorious for having stacks of review journals on my desk and a backlog in my feedreader. This goes along with time management I guess, but I want to take time to read the review journals, keep up with the blogs I read, and keep up with the various organizations I'm involved in. This also ties into my fourth goal:
4. Being OK with taking off desk time. I've gotten better at this in the last few months, but as a manager it's hard to take off desk time. I have so many things I need to do, the desk needs to be covered, I have patrons to help, I have to set up or plan a program, make the schedule, schedule outreach and special events, attend meetings, talk to staff, and so much more! I have a hard time consistently taking time off desk to work on these things and it's something I need to get better at doing.
5. Cover the YA desk once a week. This has been my goal since I became youth services manager three years ago and I finally have staff in place where I can make this happen. We have a separate YA and Children's department location, even though we're all together in one service and department umbrella. I want to continue to make sure we blend together as youth services and part of that for me is making sure I stay in touch with the YA department and the teens and spend time there once a week covering the desk. It also means we have more YA desk coverage and the department staffed more often.
What are you goals for rocking 2015?
It's the end of the year! My favorite part of year end festivities is all the best of lists. And of course, as a librarian and a reader, I have to make my own!
I couldn't pick just a top ten, so I decided to include different categories and include a long list of what my top picks area.
This are my personal favorites, books I've enjoyed for various reasons throughout the year, and what I felt were my personal top books of 2014. Also, it's hard to put them in a list order of what is number one, so I just did them alphabetically-I am a librarian after all!
I'd love to hear more suggestions if you have favorites too. My TBR pile is never too long! Ha!
Top 2014 Picture Books:
Chapter Books (Beginning Reader, Middle Grade & Young Adult)
- 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith-OK, yeah Smith's other book, Grasshopper Jungle, is on many year end best of lists, but for me 100 Sideways Miles was perfection. Great characters, lots of heart (in an honest and real way and not sappy), and great exploration of relationships. I also like examples of fantastic writing in parent/child relationships and this book has that.
- The Crossover by Kwame Alexander-Another fantastic example of a novel in verse, I especially love the use of various forms of poetry to express everything-from the characters feelings to a game of basketball.
- El Deafo by CeCe Bell-This book had me laughing so much. It was like talking to a childhood best friend at a sleepover. So honest and funny and a great graphic novel.
- Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid- This book just came at the right time and pulled me out of a slump. I loved the interconnecting stories and the characters and it had the right combination of humor, heart, and just a bit of sap and romance.
- The Young Elites by Marie Lu-Drama, secret organizations, powers, and politics. This was a fast paced adventure and I got lost in the story.
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Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
The houses of the Zodiac each have their own planets and strengths. Sixteen-year-old Rho Grace is a student from House Cancer. Her ability to read the stars has resulted in a unique vision, but her teachers dismiss her readers as false. When a blast strikes the moons of Cancer killing millions of people, Rho has a feeling that her mysterious vision was a prediction.
With the leader of Cancer killed in the blast, Rho is shocked when she is chosen to be the House's new guardian and leader. She's still having upsetting readers in the stars, but no one believes her. When a reading shows that two other signs are the next ones targeted for disaster, Rho believes that the ancient and exiled thirteenth sign, Ophiuchus, is back and seeking revenge. It's up to Rho to save the Zodiac and protect everyone. Along with her adviser and Royal Guard member Mathias and Hysan, a delegate from Libra, Rho must travel the galaxy and spread her warnings-before it's too late.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: When I was a teen, I was obsessed with astrology. I am a poster child for Gemini and I loved reading about the various signs of the Zodiac and what they meant. And I know it's not just me! So many of my teens love reading about astrology and Zodiac hits that fascination perfectly.
Zodiac is a fast paced space adventure. It's a mix of science fiction, fantasy, adventure and romance. The science is a bit goofy and not always explained and there's a love triangle that I don't think really needed to be there (sigh...why are there always love triangles?). But I can overlook those things for the fun that I had reading.
I hate when books take a long time to get the action going so I was thrilled that Zodiac kicks off and high speed and doesn't slow down. In the first twenty pages Rho has had an ominous vision and Cancer is sent into turmoil. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger so you have to keep reading and this book is easy to fly through.
While it might not be the perfect read for avid science fiction readers since some of the how's and what's and why's aren't always explained, for someone who likes science fiction light, this is a fun read. I wish there would have been a bit more background on how the Zodiac was formed. While it's not dystopian, the relationship between Rho and Mathias reminded me a bit of Tris and Four in Divergent.
Zodiac is a fun, fast paced adventure that I had a lot of fun reading. This is the start of a series and I'm excited to see where Rho heads next as she's trying to save the Zodiac.
On a side note, my library has been part of YALSA's Teens Top Ten Galley Groups and our teens get to review books. When we got copies of Zodiac in, they flew off the review shelf and the teens have been clamoring for them since! This is a a great recommendation for teens who enjoy reading about astrology, enjoy some lighter science fiction and adventure and romance.
Book Pairings: Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Divergent by Veronica Roth
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by the publisher
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Marshall is a skeptic when it comes to gingerbread men. He doesn't believe that they will run away. So when the cookies the class decorated disappear, Marshall uses his detective skills to solve the clues and find where the gingerbread men have run off to-and possibly believe in some magic along the way.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
I am always looking for fun holiday books and Catch That Cookie!
is one that can easily be added into that category. Marshall is hilarious as he tries to reason why the cookies couldn't have possibly run away with the clues that are left around the school. The clues rhyme and invite kids to shout out the answers as they join Marshall in his gingerbread hunt.
David Small's illustrations capture Marshall's curiosity and excitement perfectly. My favorite illustration is the tiny gingerbread men footprints that were left all over the gym. Marshall is determined to solve this mystery!Catch That Cookie!
could kick off your own gingerbread man hunt and become a holiday classic.
Where would my gingerbread man go?
Baby GreenBean has a special gingerbread man this year (since he can't eat cookies, but he can catch them!) Our gingerbread man is made from felt covered with sock monkeys and he's pretty sneaky as he runs all over the tree!
Review Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by publisher
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Today I'm over at the ALSC blog talking about some of the activities and programs we provide for our patrons during our storytime breaks.
Come check it out!
It's the first Tuesday of the month, which means it's time for Tune In Tuesday. Tune In Tuesday where I share (and invite others to share) some of their favorite music to use in storytime and library programs-or just for fun!
No More Monkeys by Asheba
I discover so much music thanks to Spotify, Pandora, and Songza, especially now that I listen to kid playlists with my son. When I was home on maternity leave earlier this year I listened to lots of various playlists and I discovered what I think is the best version of No More Monkeys ever!
You can find Asheba's Carribbean jam on either his No More Monkeys CD or on Animal Playground by Putumayo Kids. I was lucky enough to have Animal Playground in my library, so I immediately added it to my storytime repertoire.
I used this song last week in storytime to go along with our monkey themed storytime. I love it because it's catchy, bouncy, and you can't help but jump and sing along. The kids know the basic song of Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed, so they catch on to the lyrics easily and love to jump around like the monkeys and sing along. It's so much fun (and it's great exercise-you jump around with the kids in storytime and that's your cardio for the day, right?)
Take a listen-but be warned-you might just want to jump out of your seat and dance!
The Great Thanksgiving Escape
by Mark FearingAdd to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
What's a kid to do when it's another Thanksgiving at Grandma's full of relatives? Try to escape to the back yard and the swing set! Can they do it?GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
Escaping Thanksgiving family drama can be hard for anyone, especially if you're a kid. There are guard dogs, overly affectionate aunts, zombies, and the great hall of butts! Giving a kids-eye view of family gatherings, Gavin and his cousin Rhonda try to make a break for it through a family filled obstacle course.
These two kids who aren't babies anymore but are too old for the teenager table weave their way through family to find their place at Thanksgiving. It's a humorous take on surviving family gettogethers when you're that pesky in between age and can't seem to fit anywhere. Some of the humor I think will be understood more by adults than the kids but it's a silly book to enjoy together and a funny take on your usual Thanksgiving read.Full Disclosure: Reviewed from library copy
Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads
by Bob Shea, illustrated by Lane SmithAdd to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
The Terrible Toads are causing havoc all over Drywater Gulch. They are in need of a hero to solve their toad problem. Enter Sheriff Ryan, riding into town on his turtle. He might not know a lot about robbery and roping, but he sure knows a lot about dinosaurs. And that has to come in handy when catching criminals.
This is a perfect picture book pairing bringing together a hilarious duo. Lane Smith captures the Western-style wonderfully with brown and beige hues makes the reader feel as though they've landed in Drywater Gulch. Bob Shea's text is written to be read aloud. This book just begs to be read aloud with various accents and voices.
The reader will laugh along as the oblivious (or is he really?) Sheriff Ryan makes many observations about dinosaurs along the way. The humor comes from the Toads wanting the credit for their crimes and Sheriff Ryan and the Toads each outdoing each other with what really caused each incident.
Is Sheriff Ryan a smart sheriff who knew who to catch the criminals all along? Or does he just love dinosaurs? The book has such a hilarious twist that readers will be laughing and talking about it long after the book is finished. This is the perfect read aloud for school visits!Full Disclosure: Reviewed from advanced copy sent by publisher for review
This year we've seen lots of picture book biographies! Here are a few of my favorites:A Boy and A Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by Catia Chein
Add to Goodreads
About the Book: A shy boy who stutters find comfort in talking to animals.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Oh how I have my fingers crossed for a Schneider Award win for this book! (If you don't know about the Schneider Award, it is given to a book that "embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience." I believe that A Boy and A Jaguar does that perfectly. It's a powerful story told in a simple way. Alan Rabinowitz describes how he always had trouble speaking, that no one knew what to do about his stuttering and how he felt most at home when he was with animals. He talked to animals at the zoo and he practiced speaking to his pets at home. His love of animals combines with his desire to give animals a voice. As he studies jaguars and remembers the jaguar he saw and spoke to at the zoo, he becomes a powerful advocate for saving the jaguar. What I love most about this book is that it isn't a story about growing up and getting over a disability. It's a story of living with a disability and not letting it stop you from your dreams.
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Christian Robinson
About the Book: The fascinating story of entertainer Josephine Baker.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I was vaguely aware of Josephine Baker before reading this book, but only as someone who was a performer. I learned so much from this book and I was dazzled by the text and the art. It is the perfect tribute to such an eccentric and fabulous star. The text is told in a verse, poetic format that makes you feel the jazz and rhythm of Josephine. The illustrations match this perfectly adding the perfect amount of spark and energy. The illustrations jump off the page and dance before the readers eyes. It's a dazzling picture book biography that is absolutely stunning. I would have put this on my library's Mock Caldecott list if I didn't think the length would deter some of the younger readers (it's a longer picture book biography, coming in at just over 100 pages). But maybe Josephine will surprise us all with an award win this Winter!
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
About the Book: The story of Peter Roget, who created Roget's Thesaurus, the most widely used and continuously published thesaurus.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I feel like the theme of picture book biographies is sometimes "here's a quirky person and some facts that make them stand out and show that quirky is special." That's not a bad thing at all, but it sometimes gives picture book biographies a feel of simplicity and sameness (which I am sure Roget could have thought of better words!) And while that might be part of the message of The Right Word (Roget prefers to be alone, is shy, and loves to make lists of words), it feels different. The combination of text and illustrations blend together perfectly. Melissa Sweet uses letters, book pages, and a scrapbook style to create a visually stunning biography. Jen Bryant's text give insight into Roget's life without sounding too easy or simplistic. It's the perfect balance of fact and heart and brings readers into Roget's life. The Right Word was a book I finished and immediatly wanted to give to someone else to pour over, read, and enjoy all the illustrations. It's a beautiful package.
Full Disclosure: All titles reviewed from library copies
Mac Barnett is having a very good 2014! He has three picture book releases this year, all of which are delightful! Be sure to check them out!Sam and Dave Dig a HoleAdd to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
Sam and Dave are digging a hole and they won't give up until they find something spectacular.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
Mac Barnett teams up with Jon Klassen for another winner. Klassen's illustrations match the text perfectly and gives the feel of an outdoor adventure. Readers will spot the spectacular treasure that is hiding just out of Sam and Dave's reach and are sure to laugh when the get so close but then change directions. They'll also be sure to notice the dog is the only one who seems to have a nose for treasure hunting. A fun tale that is sure to inspire some digging of your own.President Taft is Stuck in the BathAdd to GoodreadsAbout the Book
: President Taft is stuck in the bath! How will he get out?GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
Mac Barnett takes on a presidential tall tale with humorous results. The president is stuck in the bath and everyone has an idea of how to help. The ideas get more and more ridiculous, from butter to explosions. There are also plenty of textual humor from the secretary of the treasury who responds with "throw money at the problem" to "the answer is inside you" from the secretary of the interior. Chris Van Dusen's illustrations are cartoonish and add to the humor of the tale. The end of the book provides some historical facts about President Taft and his bathtub. This would pair with King Bidgood's in the Bathtub
for a silly bathtime storytime.Telephone
Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
It's time for Peter to fly home, but his message about dinner gets scrambled along the telephone line.GreenBeanTeenQueen:
Remember the game telephone? Where what you start out saying ends up completely different? Mac Barnett and Jen Corace re-imagine the telephone game with a flock of birds on a telephone wire with hilarious results. Each new message gets more and more mixed up which is sure to leave young readers howling with delight. Each bird hears something new that makes sense to them and matches their own interests and hobbies. The illustrations reflect the each birds interests and helps the reader find clues as to why each bird heard what they did. A hilarious take on a the game of telephone perfect for reading aloud.Full Disclosure: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and President Taft is Stuck in the Bath reviewed from finished copies sent by the publishers. Telephone reviewed from library copy.
Please welcome Sarah Fine, author of Of Metal and Wishes, to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Sarah Fine is the author of Of Metal and Wishes.
About the Book: Sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic, housed in a slaughterhouse staffed by the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor. Wen often hears the whisper of a ghost in the slaughterhouse, a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. And after one of the Noor humiliates Wen, the ghost grants an impulsive wish of hers—brutally.
Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including the outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the ghost. As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen is torn between her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. Will she determine whom to trust before the factory explodes, taking her down with it?
The sequel, Of Dreams and Rust will be available in August 2015. You can find Sarah online at http://sarahfinebooks.com/
The Stomach and the Heart
Well. My book is a loose retelling of Phantom. But everything about this book—including the Ghost of the factory himself—was heavily influenced by another novel, which has haunted me from the time I first read it as a teenager.
Upton Sinclair began writing The Jungle at the end of 1904 after spending nearly two months in Chicago, studying the lives and travails of immigrant workers toiling away in the heavily industrialized meat-packing industry. There, he had witnessed how the dream of having one’s hard work repaid with some financial security for one’s family was being completely turned upside-down. Instead of work = fair pay, fair treatment, and a path to success, work = danger, risk, and the inescapable trap of debt and defeat. The system was devouring these people—big business controlled everything, profit was king, and worker’s rights? Virtually nonexistent.
Here’s a clip from Food, Inc., which I was watching the night I decided I needed to write Of Metal and Wishes. It’s less than five minutes long, but it will probably make you shake with rage. It brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it:
The Jungle is unflinching in its description of the meatpacking plants, and I did my best to give OMAW the same visceral feel. I didn’t want to shy away from hitting the reader “in the stomach.” I did research into how animals are slaughtered in these places, and it is gut-wrenching and horrific. I won’t link to any videos here, but if you go to Youtube and search for video of slaughterhouse machinery, you’ll find plenty of nightmare fuel.
But like Upton Sinclair, my goal wasn’t to make readers focus only on animal cruelty or the unsanitary way meat is sometimes handled before it enters the food supply. My greatest desire was to get readers thinking about those workers, the ones who come from desperate places, willing to offer their muscles and sweat in exchange for a fair wage and a chance to live and provide for the ones they love. The ones who so often get trampled and ignored. I purposely set the story outside of time and history because these issues existed over a hundred years ago, and they still exist now all over the world, including the US.
Of Metal and Wishes is a love story, yes. A sweet, poignant one, I think. But it’s also a story about people without power who struggle to survive and thrive in a system designed to crush them. I hope it hits readers in the heart.
*There are many organizations involved in the fight for justice for undocumented workers, and one of my favorites is the Southern Poverty Law Center, because they also focus on a number of other important social justice issues. If you go to their site you can get more information, and if you are so inclined, contribute to their efforts.
Hooray for Hat!
by Brian WonAdd to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
Elephant wakes up feeling grumpy. Until a delivery arrives at his door and a new hat cheers him up. Elephant wants to share his hat and along the way cheers up his friends.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
I'm a sucker for retro-style illustrations. There's just something about them that make me feel happy. Hooray for Hat!
features what could be called some retro-style illustrations and it fits the book perfectly.
Elephant is grumpy but his hat cheers him up. He visits his friends throughout the day and cheering them up with a hat of their own. The text is simple and the illustrations are bright and simple and not distracting making this a great storytime book. There's also a nice repetitive refrain of "Hooray for Hat" that kids can cheer along as the animals become happy.
This is a great story of how a simple act of kindness can make someone's day. This would be a great book to talk to kids about being kind, helping others, and paying it forward.
I've used this one in storytime a few times this year and each time I've read it it's been a bit hit. The kids catch on quickly to saying "hooray for hat" excitedly with each animal. And the joy the animals experience in sharing their gifts expands to the kids. The illustrations catch the expressions of the animals perfectly and the kids can see that and they get just as happy as each animal gets a new hat.
A fun picture book debut that is a great storytime addition.Full Disclosure: Reviewed from final copy borrowed from library
Welcome to Tune In Tuesday! What is Tune In Tuesday? It's a monthly round up about music-favorite songs, favorite albums, and favorite ways to use it in the library! If you have a Tune In Tuesday post this month, be sure to share it in the comments so I can add it to the round up-and let me know if you want to host next month.The Pop Ups: Appetite for Construction
I recently discovered The Pop Ups-a fantastic kids music duo from New York and I've become the biggest fan. I've been telling everyone I know about them and trying to get everyone to listen to their music. This is fantastically fun music that kids and parents will love!
The Pop Ups have three albums out, with Appetite for Construction
as the latest just released this year. I love all three and they are great for background music for programs at the library or play time at home. But I've also used several of their songs for programs.Check out a preview for Appetite for Construction.Robot Dance
: I've used this one in my dance party and as part of my geeky storytime. What's more geeky than robots? It's a lot of fun and a great imaginative and pretending song.Block House
: A song about blocks? It's the perfect opening song to kick off my block parties.Airband (from Outside Voices)
: I used this one in storytime and we jumped around like rock stars-tons of fun!
Be sure to check out The Pop Ups-I'm sure you'll become addicted to their music like I have!
November is Picture Book Month! To celebrate, throughout the month I will be sharing about picture books!Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
Buddy is a monster who wants to eat some bunnies. But these are smart bunnies who know just how to escape being monster dinner.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
Ok, so I will probably say that anything Bob Shea writes is wonderful and hilarious. But trust me, Don't Play With Your Food
is wonderful and hilarious!
Bob Shea masters writing humor that is appealing to kids and adults and I think he hits the perfect balance with this book. The bunnies are clever and adults will catch on quickly to the bunnies tactics. Kids might be a bit slower to understand exactly what the bunnies have in mind, but they will soon figure it out and be laughing along with the bunnies as they district Buddy with their plans.
Bob Shea also includes lots of clever jokes in the illustrations. It took me a few times reading it to notice the bunnies multiplying throughout each day. It's a small joke that works masterfully in the story.Don't Play With Your Food
is an absolute treat to read aloud. I've used it in storytime multiple times and each time it's a big hit. I love that you can create different voices for the characters. It also works well as a partner reading. I used this with a co-worker on an outreach event and one person played Buddy and one person played the bunnies. It was lots of fun to pair up. I think it could also be a fun speech or reader's theater piece for older students.
Add this one to your storytime and personal collection now if you want to be laughing out loud! It never fails-I crack up every time I read it!Full Disclosure: Reviewed from library copy
I'm excited to welcome middle grade author Shelby Bach to GreenBeanTeenQueen! If the middle grade readers at my library are anything like yours, fairy tales are huge!
About Shelby: Shelby Bach was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, but while writing the ever afters, she moved almost as many times as her main character. She came up with the idea for the series right before she left New York City, and she finished the first book, of giants and ice, in Montana—the second, of witches and wind, back in Charlotte. Driving up the West Coast to research the settings for the third book, of sorcery and snow, Shelby fell in love with Portland, Oregon and settled there. She would love to set up a Door Trek system in her apartment to visit her family and friends around the country, but she makes due with much slower and less fictional transportation. These days, while finishing up the fourth and final book, she also works part time for a real-life afterschool program. It is strangely similar to the one where her stories are set—except the students study math instead of fairy tales.
What Fairy Tales Taught Me About Plot I love adding new characters, and I especially love giving a side character a strong subplot of their own. Of course, this enthusiasm led to several unruly early drafts of my first novel, Of Giants and Ice, and as an inexperienced novelist, I spent weeks overwhelmed by the number of plot threads I was failing to keep straight and develop effectively. Somewhere around draft number five, I started to use the Rule of Threes to help me structure each of the story arcs. It was a good decision—both for my book and for my sanity. The Rule of Threes is usually explained as a pattern that occurs three times, which happens a lot in fairy tales. In some, these repetitions occur in just one section: for instance, at the end of “Cinderella,” three people try on the glass slipper the prince is carrying: the two stepsisters and Cinderella. Sometimes, these repetitions make up most of the fairy tale: for example, Jack climbs the Beanstalk three times. I took a fairy tale course in college that analyzed the Rule of Threes in more detail. (Believe it or not, this was one of the hardest classes I ever took at Vassar. Professor Darlington was a stickler for structure and precision in every paper. My grades suffered, but my writing improved.) First of all, plain repetition gets pretty boring, so our class examined what the three instances actually achieved within the fairy tale: the first one describes the process of actually climbing a beanstalk and sneaking around a giant’s house. The second instance establishes what part of that process is a pattern: Jack climbs the beanstalk again but steals a golden goose from the giant instead those gold coins. (It’s usually the shortest passage.) The third instance, however, breaks with what was established with the first two occurrences and leads to some sort of big change: the giant notices Jack stealing his harp and chases him down the beanstalk. Describing just one trip up the beanstalk would have made a fun story, because the first two instances establishes certain expectations, Jack’s third trip has a bigger impact. Limiting myself to three occurrences helped me tame the plot threads in Of Giants and Ice. It also forced me to make sure every scene in a certain arc served a purpose. An almost spoiler-free example is the subplot around Rory’s dad. Her parents are divorced, so readers don’t actually see her father in person in Of Giants and Ice. Rory does, however, speak to him on the phone—exactly three times. During the initial call, Rory’s father, a Hollywood director, invites her to a shoot in England during the summer. Rory knows immediately that she doesn’t want to go (he barely pays any attention to her while he’s filming a movie), but afraid of disappointing him, Rory tells him she’ll think about it. Her father doesn’t listen well—he starts telling her all about the actress he wants her to meet when they’re in England. This leads to her mother stepping in and Rory’s parents fighting. The second call takes place a few weeks later. Rory tries to talk to her father about something completely different, but he asks her when her school lets out—he wants to book her flight. She reminds him that she hasn’t made up her mind up and quickly ends the call before her mom can step in again. That’s a tiny step forward—she avoids a fight between her parents, but she still isn’t honest. The third call takes place after Rory has come back from her quest. She discovers from the tabloids that her father has started dating the actress he wanted her to meet in England, and Rory calls him up and tells him that she won’t go on the trip with him. Then she explains exactly how much it upsets her that she had to find out about his new girlfriend from an outside source. Because readers have seen Rory struggle to be honest about her feelings in the previous scenes, her strong stance in the final call has more oomph. This isn’t much different from most goals in fiction—to show how conflict has changed our characters—but the Rule of Threes was a helpful way to think about it, especially when working with an overwhelming amount of plot threads. As I mentioned earlier, the Rule of Threes was most helpful during the revision process—conscious repetition is easier to develop when you have a whole plot to work with. It’s also easier to recognize where plot threads intersect. In my second novel, Of Witches and Wind, I challenged myself to take several story arcs and see how many third instances I could pack into one scene. It tightened the book’s pacing and gave the ending a way more epic grand finale.
Find Shelby online:
About the Book: A snake finds himself in the wrong pit. Instead of a snake pit, he winds up in an orchestra pit and learns about the various instruments that make up an orchestra.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I have a music teacher mother so I was raised on music and books about music. I love finding books that I can use in storytime to introduce instruments and music to kids. Sometimes books that talk about the orchestra are a bit too long or detailed to use with a young audience. Johanna Wright fills that void with The Orchestra Pit.
As our snake finds his way through the orchestra pit, he discovers the various instruments and sections of the orchestra. He even discovers what the instruments sound like comparing the percussion to a gorilla and the horns to a elephant.
Younger readers might need a bit of help understanding that where an orchestra plays is called an orchestra pit and that each instrument has a unique sound. But The Orchestra Pit is the perfect starting point for that introduction. Read this one before you visit the symphony (or have the symphony visit the library for an instrument petting zoo and concert!) for an extra special treat.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent from publisher
Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A Summer Crop of Counting
by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky, illustrated by Susan SwanAdd to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
A family visits the local farmer's market to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
I always think it's fun to read books that introduce fruits and veggies to kids. It's a nice way to read about food and help them understand that fruits and vegetables are good to eat. (I don't know that reading about them makes them eat them at home, but I can try and help the parents out at least!)Cheers for a Dozen Ears
is the perfect book to add to my food themed storytime. It pairs wonderfully with Rah, Rah, Radishes. Y
ou can even add in the board book We're Going to Farmers Market
for a full storytime about fresh foods.
With rhythmic, rhyming text, the kids make sure to get all the items on their list. From eggplant to squash, peaches and green beans, the family counts as they add items to their cart. The bright colored illustrations capture the feel of a hot summer day.
A fun book that incorporates counting and food that makes a nice addition to storytime.Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by publisher for review
Little Elliot, Big City
by Mike CuratoAdd to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
Little Elliot is a little elephant who lives in a big city that is so much larger than he is. Elliot would love a cupcake but he's too small to reach. Will he get his treat?GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
Every year a book is released that is so adorable and sweet I just sigh with happiness each time I read it. Little Elliot, Big City
is that book for me in 2014.
Elliot is adorable-there's just no better way to describe him. I would love a little polka-dotted elephant friend and I would love to share a cupcake with Elliot.
Not only is the story of Elliot finding a friend in the big city sweet, but the illustrations add to the tenderness. Mike Curato captures emotion on Elliot's face as he has to be careful in crowds or when Elliot is too small to reach what we wants. But Elliot doesn't let his size get him down and he takes notice of the small things. The two page spread of Elliot looking sad after he can't get his cupcake is heartbreaking. I also think it's appropriate that the only person that notices Elliot in a crowd is a small child. Of course a child would have the innocence and wonder to notice Elliot. It's a picture that is so simple and also speaks volumes. When Elliot meets mouse and learns he can help someone else, the spread of Elliot feeling big and proud captures Elliot's monumental achievement.Little Elliot, Big City
is Mike Curato's debut picture book and I can't wait to see more from him. I think Elliot would make a nice storytime book and would pair wonderfully with A Sick Day for Amos McGee
about a storytime on sweet and tender friendship.Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher for review
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Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog sharing about my library's Dinovember display. Here's a sneak peek:
Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert