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A Teen and Tween Librarian's thoughts on books, reading and adventures in the library.
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1. Blog Tour: Pig and Small by Alex Latimer

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About the Book: Pig and Bug want to be friends, but their size difference is causing them trouble. Bug is too small to play chess and Pig is too big for Bug's presents. Can they find anything that they can do together?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Pig and Small is an adorable picture book about friendship. Pig and Bug work hard to be friends, but it's not always easy because of their size. But they find things they have in common and it makes their friendship stronger. It's a great story about working at friendship and finding things to do together as friends.

The illustrations add to the detail and humor-Bug sweating and pushing hard on a large chess piece, Pig chomping on a small cake in one bite. The illustrations add more for kids to talk about and discuss. The message that friendship doesn't always come easily is thoughtful and portrayed in a sweet and humorous way.

Pig and Small could also be a great addition to preschool storytimes and pair well with other seemingly mismatched friend stories.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by publisher

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2. Evil Librarian Blog Tour: Michelle Knudsen Guest Post

Please welcome Michelle Knudsen to GreenBeanTeenQueen! She's sharing a playlist of her favorite musical theater songs in honor of her latest book, Evil Librarian.

About the Book: (from Goodreads): #EvilLibrarian He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety)

Like Cyn, the main character in Evil Librarian, I love musical theater. In college, a bunch of my theater friends and I lived on the far edge of campus from where rehearsals usually were, and we got into the habit of listening to musical theater mix tapes during the drives there and back. I would often listen to my favorite songs from shows and sing along in the car when alone, too, but it was even more fun to do it with a few like-minded friends who could all sing different characters in the multi-part numbers. In honor of the Evil Librarian blog tour, I thought I’d put together a little playlist of some of my favorite musical theater songs — the ones that would definitely make it onto a playlist if I were making a new one today. These are in no particular order — it’s just a list, not a ranking. :)

1. “Quartet (A Model of Decorum and Tranquility” from Chess (U.S. version)
Chess is one of my all-time favorite musicals to listen to (both the Broadway and London versions, which are very different from each other) although I’ve never yet seen it performed on stage.

2. “I Heard Someone Crying” from The Secret Garden
This is one we used to sing together in the car on the way to rehearsal. I’ve never seen this one live either, although (of course) I’ve read the book it’s based on.

3. “Potiphar” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
They did this one my freshman year of high school, and it was a lot of fun to watch and listen to. I still really love all the music, but this is one of the songs I most often find randomly popping into my head.

4. “Belle” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
I’d go with the movie soundtrack version on this one. Does that still count? I saw the movie in the theater 10 times when it first came out. And I still love to sing this one in the car. And outside the car. I still know every word by heart.

5. “Any Moment: Moments in the Woods” from Into the Woods
It was hard deciding between this one and “On the Steps of the Palace.” Those are my two favorite songs to sing from this show. I saw the Public Theater “Sondheim in the Park” production in 2012 which was amazing (with the same two best friends mentioned in #7 below).

6. “One Day More” from Les Misérables
One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals of all time. I think I picked this one for this list over “Stars” (another of my favorites) because it’s got everyone in it, and I love big ensemble numbers so much.

7. “The Devil You Know” from Side Show
I first encountered Side Show at Broadway on Broadway in NYC with two of my best friends (the two friends Evil Librarian is dedicated to, actually) and I fell in love with it at once. I didn’t get to see it on Broadway before it closed, so I’m super excited about the revival opening this fall!

8. “Heaven on Their Minds” from Jesus Christ Superstar
I love to sing this one, but never where anyone can hear me. I know I can’t really sing it. I’m sure it sounds ridiculous and horrible when I try. But I love to anyway.

9. “Skid Row (Downtown)” from Little Shop of Horrors
We did this one in high school. It’s really not a good show for the chorus, at least in terms of stage time — except for a few small character parts, most of the chorus only got to sing in the opening and the finale. But it’s a fabulous show to watch/listen to. (I love the movie version, too, which is not always the case.)

10. “A Little Priest” from Sweeney Todd
I couldn’t end this list without including something from Sweeney Todd, which is the show Cyn and her classmates are doing in the book. One of my all-time favorites. If you’ve never seen it, buy or borrow a copy of the 1982 recording of the Angela Lansbury/George Hearn performance and watch! I love this song because it’s such a great example of the blending of the darkness and humor and madness and brilliance that runs through the entire show.

Follow the tour:
Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Random Chalk Talk
Books 4 Your Kids
Green Bean Teen Queen
Katie's Book Blog
Word Spelunking
Book Chic Club

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3. Blog Tour: Visions of the Future: Writers Talk About Their Apocalypses

I'm very excited to host the next stop in the Visions of the Future Tour from MacTeens. Emmy Layborne is talking about her post-apocalyptic world in her series Monument 14.

Ah! Post-apocalyptic visions of mass destruction - you are so varied, so specific and so horrible! It’s a pleasure to be here today talking about my own personal brand of ruination.

In the Monument 14 trilogy, an escalating series of environmental catastrophes results in a breach of chemical weapon storage facilities at NORAD. 

Two chemical weapons are released. One is a magnetized blackout cloud, designed to hover above the detonation site and jam all radio, television and cell signals. The other is a compound called MORS, which divides the population based on blood type, turning people with Type AB blood into paranoid freaks, people with A blood blister up and die almost immediately. Type O people become deranged, consumed with bloodlust, driven to slaughter indiscriminately. The fourth blood type, B, shows no outward symptoms. They’ve been made sterile and infertile, but otherwise they’re fine - and must witness the chaos and bloodshed around them.

Fourteen kids ranging in age from 5 to 18 wind up stranded together in the relative safety of an empty super store. Inside, they must band together to form a new society in order to survive the threats of their new world.

Once I finished Monument 14, I took a moment to ask myself: What is wrong with you, Emmy?
Why did you feel the need to cast the world into such darkness? Why did you have a mega-tsunami wipe out the eastern seaboard? (That happened in the chain of catastrophes I mentioned before.) Why did you set the epicenter of all this misery in Monument, Colorado - where your own mother-in-law lives?! 
Okay, so I can totally answer the first one. It had nothing to do with destroying my MIL’s hometown, I promise. I simply wanted a small town in Colorado, and I was familiar with Monument and knew I’d be visiting Monument 2-3 times a year to do additional research. I swear!

But why did I feel the need to create such a dark world? And why did my vision of the future have such a high body-count? One answer is that I created a dark world so that the inner light of my characters could shine through. There’s truth in it, but that seems a little easy, doesn’t it? 

Did I do it because I was following the trends? God, no. If I’d been following the trends I would have made the central character a girl and put her smack dab in the middle of a Niko/Jake love triangle!

I think my impulse to destroy the world comes from a sub-conscious recognition of a true need that young adults have. I think post-apocalyptic and dystopian YA literature originates from this: Teenagers need to destroy the world of their parents so that they can create their own, new worlds. 

And so, in the twisted, terrifying world of Monument, CO in the year 2024, I forced the characters to create a new social construct and to find out who they are - in a new (okay, terribly dark and violent) world. 
So there you have my rumination on the post-apocalyptic world I created in the Monument 14 trilogy. Hey, I’d love for you to read the series and tell me why you think I put the kids in such terrible danger.

Thanks again for having me here! If you’d like, follow me on on InstagramTwitter or like my author page over at Facebook. And over at www.emmylaybourne.com you’ll find giveaways and the latest news on the “Monument 14” movie deal. 

Be sure to follow the tour:
Monday: Andrew Smith at Cuddlebuggery 
Tuesday: Caragh O'Brien at Finding Wonderland
Wednesday: Farel Dalrymple at The Book Wars
Thursday: Here!
Friday: Carrie Ryan at Forever YA

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4. Blog Tour: Stanley's Garage by William Bee

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About the Book: It's another busy day for Stanley! His friends need help fixing their cars and Stanley and his garage is there to rescue them.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Stanley's adventure in his garage is perfect for transportation loving toddlers. William Bee's illustrations are bright and colorful. The color scheme and clear illustration style make this one that would work great in a group setting for storytime as well as one on one.

Stanley's friends all drive different colored cars, so there's a subtle inclusion of color introduction as well as a simplified insight into what cars need to run. Animals need help fixing a flat tire or getting gas and Stanley helps another friend whose car breaks down and needs a tow. The text is simple but offers a lot of great vocabulary (overheating, radiator, oil) which is a fantastic way to give young readers a look into how cars work.

The Stanley books follow the same format-Stanley helps his friends and then heads home for supper, a bath, and bed after a busy day. The repeating format, fun illustrations, and engaging text make this series stand out as a great toddler addition. A sure hit with young readers-be prepared to read about Stanley's adventures frequently!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher

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5. Tune In Tuesday

Welcome to the first ever 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. (Also, if anyone is super creative with making logos, would you make one for Tune In Tuesday?)


-I only recently discovered Bari Koral Family Rock Band and it's a new favorite of mine. When I looked the groups website, I noticed a blurb that said "Sheryl Crow for kids" and I couldn't agree more. 

The songs are catchy and folksy and perfect for kids of all ages and their grown ups. The album has a great indie folk feel and is one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to adults. I wouldn't be surprised if adults enjoyed listening to this one even without the kids around.

 I used some songs from this album at my most recent Bibliobop dance party and they were big hits. I used Bee with scarves and had the kids shake the scarves anytime the chorus came on about the bumblebee. It was a great slow versus fast song and I had one girl tell me that it was her favorite song of the day. I also used Give a Hug as an ending song and plan to use it in an upcoming storytime on friendship. I've also recently started using it as background music during activity and craft time during storytime and it's fantastic background music too! 

-Zee Avi is an artist who needs to produce more children's albums. Seriously, Ms. Avi-please getto work on that right now and children and parents everywhere will thank you. Nightlight  is a cover album full of lullabies ranging from Rainbow Connection to Don't Worry Be Happy to Mockingbird. There's also a Nightlight Medley which includes a Malaysian lullaby perfect for introducing kids to lullabies from around the world. (and would pair nicely with Putumayo Kids Dreamland) The entire collection is beautiful with Zee Avi's delicate and tender voice and gorgeous melodies combining to make a fantastic lullaby collection that's not just for kids-or bedtime. This album is perfect for anytime you want to put some lovely, peaceful music. 

I used Mockingbird as a parachute song at my dance party. It was the perfect tempo for the younger kids and a great calm song to slow things down after a full morning of dancing hard. This would be another great choice to also use as background playtime music anytime.


Abby the Librarian talks about using Asheba's Monkeys-this is one of my favorites too Abby! 

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6. Blog Tour: Stanley the Builder by William Bee PLUS Giveaway

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About the Book: Stanley is a helpful guinea pig who helps his friend Myrtle build a new house.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: When it comes to picture books, I can't help but do the storytime browse when I look through them. You know the one. You open a book, check the length of the text on the page and if it's a page long, you put it aside in the not for storytime pile. Yes, I know, longer picture books are great for lapsits and older readers, but I'm always on the lookout for simple text to use with my youngest storytime crowd.

New toddler books are hard to find so I am thrilled that William Bee's Stanley is here! Bright colors, simple text and fantastic vocabulary all make this a wonderful addition to toddler storytime.

Stanley builds Myrtle's house using a variety of trucks which is sure to be a hit with young readers. I love that in addition to the vocabulary of each vehicle used, there's also an introduction to the color of each vehicle. The colors are bright and vibrant and sure to engage young readers who will love looking at Stanley's adventures.

Along with his friend Charlie, Stanley builds Myrtle's house using concrete, bricks, nails and of course paint! 

The process of building is explained in a way that toddlers will understand. They're sure to want to read it again and again. And who can resist the adorable Stanley? 

Stanley is a great addition to toddler storytimes and would pair nicely with Lauren Thompson's Mouse Series

Would you like to win a copy? 
-One entry per person
-US Address only
-Contest ends September 8


Full Disclosure: Copy reviewed from galley received from publisher for review 

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7. Starry Night Blog Tour-Isabel Gillies Interview PLUS Giveaway

About the Book: (From Goodreads) Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wondering is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren's heart beats. In Isabel Gillie's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep? 

What inspired you to write for teens?

I ADORE teenagers! No joke. First of all, I loved being a teenager. It's so big. The highs and lows are clearly defined, but at the same time life is bewildering. All the unbelievable growing invigorated me. I fell in love for the first time, followed the grateful dead, did badly in school and then got my act together and did well, I got myself in to messes and got out of them (thankfully), made big decisions, went on adventures (in my mind sometimes), etc. It's an explosive time and I remember liking it even when it was happening to me. Second of all, I have three tweens in my house and I really love it. So far it's the best time I have ever had as a parent. They are interesting and funny and infuriating all in good ways. So I wanted to write about it. 

-You've previously written a memoir. Was it different to write a novel? Was it harder or easier?

HARDER! I wanted to try it, and I want to try it again, but man was it hard. It took me three 400+ page drafts and the first two stank pretty badly. I learned a ton. Everyday there was a new challenge that I had never met before. And the thing is, I am not a trained writer! I mean, my teachers in high school did the best they could, but I was a trained actress and never took a writing class. So I was in the dark for a lot of this process. But sometimes while I was writing, I felt swept away by the story and the emotions in the book. And the characters, I sort of fell in love with them. That stuff is magical. I adore writing memoir because it's all about getting what is inside out so someone else can feel it and hopefully identify, and there is a natural structure. You have to make your own structure in a novel and that is HARD. But it's fun. 

-What were some of your favorite books as a teen?

Well here is the deal with that. I was not a "reader". I was so dyslexic that I was traumatized by books until I was in my early twenties. I was not one of those kids that loved to curl up with a book. Infact that was my idea of cruel toucher. But one book I read in school really stuck with me and is popping into my head now. It's called Go Down Moses by William Faulkner. That book hit me like a ton of bricks. At it's core it's about a family, but it's also about slavery, and getting through hard times. It's not a light read by any means, and maybe it's good to read it in English class like I did --  but it's awesome. I might even read it again. 

Follow the tour to Paper Cuts and Love Is Not a Triangle

Enter to win a copy below!
-One entry per person
-US/Canada address only
-13+ to enter
-Contest ends September 6


  • Learn more about Isabel Gillies and Starry Night.
  • Add Starry Night to your to-read list on Goodreads.
  • Join in on social media with #StarryNight
  • Check out Isabel’s website, follow her on Twitter, ‘like’ her on Facebook, and follow her on Tumblr.
  • 0 Comments on Starry Night Blog Tour-Isabel Gillies Interview PLUS Giveaway as of 8/28/2014 8:13:00 AM
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    8. Get Ready for Tune In Tuesday!

    (Me and some of my fabulous librarian friends at the Little Brown dance party at ALA)

    I absolutely love to sing and dance! I take every chance I get to incorporate music into my storytimes and programming at the library. And I'm always on the lookout for new music. The more I've talked with other librarians who love to sing and dance, the more I've realized that we're always looking to share new ideas and favorite new songs. And so Tune In Tuesday was born! 

    Mark your calendars now. The first Tuesday of every month (which means next week, Tuesday, September 2!) is going to be the inaugural Tune In Tuesday post. GreenBeanTeenQueen will serve as the host, but if you'd like to host a month, chime in in the comments and let me know! 

    What should you post about? Any music (old or new) that you love to use in your library programming. Have you discovered a great new artist? Have you found the best new children's artist that you can't wait to  share? Have you found the perfect use for a favorite song? Tell us all about it!

    Does the blogging world really need another meme? Maybe not. But I'm hoping there are others like me who love music and are looking to find new ways to use it in their libraries. And I'm hoping by sharing our ideas in a monthly meme, we can gather ideas and share and expand our music collections. 

    So get your brainstorming on now and get ready to come back for the first Tune in Tuesday and share your post! 

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    9. ALSC Blog: Consistent Programming During Summer Reading

    Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about the programming formula my staff came up with this summer to offer consistent programs for all ages. 

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    10. Trends in Picture Books: Birds

    If there was one big trend in picture books this year, I would say it's birds. Last year I started noticing a trend in publishing across all ages about books being published featuring bird watching. Birds have always been a popular topic, yet this year it seems as though 2014 year of the bird in picture books. Take a look:

    -A silly story about a bird who is tired of the same old song, only to be met with some opposition. A nice simple commentary on accepting change and adapting that's great for storytime.

    -A sweet and funny story about a chicken who sets off on a big adventure to the city. Also, I love the illustrations.

    -Another bird on an adventure story with gorgeous illustrations. 

    -A chicken with arms? Odd but adorable! Another good choice for storytime and a sweet book about being different.

    -This one is fiction and has great rhyming text, but I love that is includes a lot of great facts about the birds and the homes they build.

    -A future with no birds so you can order a mechanical bird that you can design and create. Probably the most unusual addition to the bird trend. 

    Two Parrots by Rashin
    -A retelling of a classic tale from an Iranian author/illustrator. I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to more from Rashin.

    Any bird titles I missed? 

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    11. Bibliobop-AKA-Library Dance Party!

    I love to sing and dance so it's no surprise that Bibliobop is one of my favorite library programs! Play music and sing and dance with kids for about 45 minutes? Sign me up!

    Previously I've used a bunch of CDs and changed them out with each song but finally I have a speaker and an iPad to use for this program, so I felt pretty high tech with my most recent Bibliobop! (Ha! It doesn't take much!) Although I originally advertised Bibliobop for ages 2-6, it's really open  to all ages and in the Fall I'm changing the description to say infants-age 6. I usually end up with babies and toddler anyway and really, why not include them? They can dance too!

    The set up for Bibliobop is pretty simple. I have a display of music themed books and I have all my items I need up front. I put out a few chairs for the adults in the back (but I encourage them to dance too!) and I clear the floor. I always read a book to start and take a book break in the middle of dancing (mostly because Miss Sarah likes having a break in the middle!) I plan out my music and this time around I added everything into a playlist on iTunes and let it play which was awesome. I plan out ahead of time which songs I want to use for scarves, instruments, parachute, or any other special items but other than that we just dance. Some songs are action songs with movements telling us what to do and others are free dance songs-we just dance along to the music. I've started adding in more new music which the kids love (I used Let It Go with the parachute once and they freaked out!)

    Here's the most recent playlist/book list I used:

    Opening Book: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin-always a popular pick and I chose this one to start since our opening songs had a rap style and the song in this book is similar.

    Now it's time for the rules of Bibliobop!
    #1-Everyone dance in the middle of the room on the dancefloor, not by the doors, tables, or chairs. Also, be sure to watch out for your friends as they dance!
    #2-The big people in the room dance too-Miss Sarah isn't the only one dancing today! (I especially loved when I was 9 months pregnant and going in for an induction two days later and still did Bibliobop-my adults had no excuse not to dance along!) (Now, sometimes the adults will stop dancing about halfway through, and while it's usually OK, there have been a few times where it's become a distraction because they end up chatting and then the kids stop dancing or run around-and then into each other. To fix this, I give the adults a few songs of a break and then when we're close to the end, I stop the music and say, "Oh no! We forgot one of the rules of Bibliobop! We forgot rule #2-big people dance too! We only have two more songs left and we need to make them good ones. Everyone turn around and look at your big person and ask 'will you please come dance with me?'" The kids love it and it works like magic to get the adults dancing again.)
    #3-The most important rule-HAVE FUN! 

    And now we dance!

    A Tooty Ta by Ray Remesch-I don't know where I've been, but I only recently learned about this song! It's hilarious to watch the kids and I think it's going to become a storytime regular!

    Following Directions with Exercise by Mark D Pencil-A terrible name, but the kids love it. Our outreach department uses this with school age kids and they go crazy over it.

    If You're Happy and You Know It-Carol Hammett-It's a classic! I use this version because it's slow enough for my little ones.

    Happy by Pharrell-The kids get so excited when this comes on because they recognize it. But beware-it will be stuck in your head for days!

    Bee by Bari Koral Family Rock Band-This was my scarf song. I had the kids pretend their scarves were bees. During the slow sections we laid down and rested and then we heard a buzzing. During the fast part we danced and waved our scarves. I had one little girl comment that this was her favorite song of the day.

    Marching Medley by Ralph's World-A great movement song!

    Little Blue Car by Jennifer Gasoi-I liked the rhythm of this one for instruments so this was our instrument song

    Time for a book break!

    This one has a nice bluesy feel to the rhyming text and I had the kids recite "B-A-B-Y" along with me.

    Now we dance again!

    Dance Freeze Melt by Mr Eric and Mr Michael-The Learning Groove CDs are awesome and this a creative take on the freeze dance that is so much fun.

    Mover Music Jump Up by Imagination Movers-another movement song that's great for an activity song

    The Fox by Ylvis-My kids still love this one and it's fun to around to this crazy song-plus it just screams storytime, doesn't it?

    Mockingbird by Zee Avi-A nice quiet and soft song perfect for the parachute.

    Bop Til You Drop by Greg and Steve-Another fun take on the freeze dance this time including fall down.

    Give A Hug by Bari Koral Family Rock Band-A nice ending song to give hugs and wave to friends.

    Take A Little Nap by Ralph's World-I think this one is so funny I love ending with it!

    Phew! By that time it's time to leave and I have successfully completed my cardio workout for the day!

    Any song suggestions to use for future dance parties?

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    12. Wild Things Blog Tour Guest Post

    I knew from the first page of Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature that I was going to love this book. If you work in the world of children's and teen lit, you've most likely heard from others that they think children's lit is cute, sweet, and simple. But Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter D. Sieruta are out to prove everyone wrong. They've uncovered some wild acts of mischief in children's literature and it's an absolute blast to join them on the ride. Want an example of some fun they discovered? Check out this crazy tidbit from Betsy and Jules:

    Courtney Love’s Unlikely Connection to the Newbery Award Winning Book The Slave Dancer

    I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember how I first heard about this story.  Odds are SLJ reporter Rocco Staino is the one to credit.  You see, when Jules Danielson, Peter Sieruta, and I first started working on our book Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, we wanted to fill it to overflowing with some of the funniest, kookiest, craziest children’s book stories out there.  Everything from Robert McCloskey’s drunk ducklings to the true fate of Misty of Chincoteague.  And as we were writing the book we kept our eyes peeled for any new items that might fit the bill.  Well lo and behold in 2011 the article Paula Fox on a Roll came out.  On the surface it was a fairly innocuous piece about how the Newbery Award winning author was being inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame.  Ho hum.  Nothing much to catch the eye . . . until you get to the part near the bottom where Ms. Fox has this to say about, of all people, the singer Courtney Love.  Quote: “She is crazy, and to use a modern term, a psychopath.”  And why, precisely, would Ms. Fox weigh in on the woman who coined the phrase “Kinderwhore”?  Because it’s her own granddaughter.

    Hubba wha?

    There’s nothing better than discovering that two seemingly unrelated beings, famous in their own right, have a connection.  In the course of writing this book we had to ultimately cut out stories that talked about how Roald Dahl claimed that Beatrix Potter yelled at him as a child.  We eschewed mentioning that the great Arthur Ransome, author of the British-beloved novel Swallows and Amazons, married Trotsky’s daughter.  But you WILL find stories about how Roald Dahl got to know Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce veeeeeeeery well.  And, you’ll follow our little research path to get to know how precisely a writer like Paula Fox becomes a grandmother to a Courtney Love.

    Because to be perfectly honest with you, when it comes to the wide and wonderful world of children’s literature, nothing should surprise you.  There are some pretty wild people out there.

    Check out more wild and unexpected stories from Wild Things on the Wild Things tour and follow Betsy and Jules around the blogosphere for more intriguing stories. And be sure to get your hands on a copy of Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature-you don't want to  miss out on these unexpected and surprising stories!

    August 5: 100 Scope Notes
    August 6: There's A Book
    August 8: Guys Lit Wire
    Week of August 11: Book Riot
    August 14: Wendy on the Web
    August 20: The Book Nest

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    13. Frozen Sing-A-Long

    If you work with kids, you know what a phenomenon Frozen has become. So when I realized that I would be without a summer reading performer during the last week of our Summer Reading Program, I knew I had to plan something. Every Thursday at 1:00, we have a big performance (usually a hired performer but sometimes in house programs as well) and I knew that once our patrons got into the habit of coming to the library every Thursday during the summer, I couldn't skip the last week of July. 

    I decided to go with a Frozen Sing-A-Long since the movie was thankfully covered in our movie licensing at the library. I didn't really have many ideas of what to do exactly except sing to the songs in the movie while it played. But luckily my amazing friend Angie also hosted a sing-a-long and gave me a lot of great ideas.

    Since the program was planned after our programming booklet was published, we only advertised this event via fliers, word of mouth, and on the library website. I knew we'd have a good crowd but I wasn't sure how many to expect since it didn't utilize all our usual promotional methods. So I was shocked when I ended up with 150 kids and around 50 adults. Pretty good for a program planned and not heavily promoted! It didn't hurt that everyone who picked up a flier said "oh my kid will love this!" and then told their friends.

    I set up the room with a lot of floor space and some chairs out for the adults, which were quickly taken up. Part of the problem was that I didn't get to the room fast enough and a crowd of anxious people had already let themselves into room before I was ready and finished setting up! So the crowd management ended up not being as smooth as I would have liked. I ended up having to run around to catch everyone who came in (and ended up coming in both sets of doors since I couldn't close or lock one because I was trying to play catch up with people already there) to get them to fill out the prize drawing entry slips. My original plan was to have everyone enter through one door and fill the slip out on the way in, ensuring an entry for everyone and an easy head count method for me. Next time I know to close the set of doors I don't want them enter through and make sure staff are stationed by the doors to direct everyone inside. That's typically how the Thursday programs work anyway, but my overly anxious group sent this particular program into a bit of chaos. 

     My staff and I had made snowflake wands (diecut snowflakes on popsicle sticks) for the kids to wave around to each song-Angie's brilliant idea. We made 100 and one of my staff had to run back to the desk and make a bunch more to ensure every child had one. Between the crowd, the snowflake wands, and getting everyone entered into the drawing, the program actually started about fifteen minutes late. 

    Once I felt I had everyone mostly settled and asked if everyone had filled out an entry form for the prizes, I explained what we would be doing for the singing. I decided not to show the subtitles because I felt it would be too distracting and I didn't need them-the kids knew the songs. They were quoting along with the movie from the moment it started. I directed the kids during each song to sing along, but they didn't need my help. They knew all the words and motions and loved belting out the songs with other fans. I also made sure to applaud at the end of each song and tell our Frozen chorus how awesome they were-it was amazing to hear a room full of kids singing Let It Go at the top of their lungs!

    The group did get restless since I had a lot of younger kids and younger siblings attend, and after Let It Go, there aren't as many songs as frequently. Because of this, I decided to hold an intermission. I asked the kids if they knew what an intermission was and explained it was a short break. I used this time to do our prize drawings (I bought Frozen pens from the Target dollar spot) and told the kids to not worry if they didn't get a prize-they would still get something at the end. Then we went back to watching the movie. This worked pretty well and was a nice way to break up the movie.

    At the end of the movie, I passed out the goodies for everyone. I wanted everyone to go home with something, but I didn't want to spend time on a craft because I knew it would take forever and we'd never get to the movie. So with the help of staff, I passed out a paper doll packet using dolls from Paper Dolls by Cory. (Again, Angie's brilliant idea!) The kids liked having a craft to take home and it worked well because they could have fun and have a party at home without me having to facilitate a lot of cutting and folding. 

    Of course, no program is perfect and there were a few cons with this one. For one thing, the room was very crowded and with the adults pulling out every chair possible and bringing in huge strollers, the entryway often bottlenecked and it ended up very hard to maneuver around the room. Despite my best efforts to get the adults to be involved and sing with the kids and sit with them, many adults used this a babysitting time and sat in the back on their phones or reading a book and a few chatting with friends. I'm not sure what to do next time to encourage more involvement, but this is a recurring thing with our large summer reading performances.

    Even with the downsides and crazy huge crowd, the feedback was great. So many patrons told me how much they enjoyed it, thought it was a great idea, and asked how often we do events like that. I don't know if another sing-a-long for any other movie would be as popular, but it was pretty simple to put together and it was a lot of fun. And there's nothing like hearing a room of kids singing their hearts out! I had so many of our library staff and patrons standing the hallway and peeking in to watch the kids sing Let It Go which was fantastic promotion for the youth services department!

    Would I repeat it? Yes, but maybe with some more tweaks in how to handle the breaks between songs and a bit more crowd control. It was a pretty fun event and fairly easy to plan and implement. But do I want to listen to Let It Go anytime soon? Not really, I listened to it a lot to prepare for this event!

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    14. Batman Day at the Library-or How to Plan a Program in Three Days

    Batman loves the library

    Part of being a librarian means the ability to be flexible and spontaneous. When I got to work on Wednesday (which was Batman Day) I was told that we had been getting calls about a Batman Day at the Library celebration we were hosting on Saturday. Turns out we were advertised on the DC Comics Blog as a location hosting a Batman celebration on Saturday. (I think this occurred when I requested some promotional Batman items, but I'm not exactly sure) All I know is that we were given three days to plan an unexpected program. Luckily, I work with an amazing team (and a wonderfully nerdy team!) of people so we threw together an amazing program.

    Planning a program in just a few days took a lot of brainstorming and Batman research. But I'm amazingly lucky to work with a great group of people who all jumped on board and helped out. Everyone took on a task, worked together, and created a pretty incredible program that was a lot of fun. We tried to keep the activities simple and fun and stuck to a lot of basics like trivia, games, and crafts.

    Here's what we did:

    -Screenings of Batman The Animated Series. According to my husband, who is a big Batman fan, this series is the best of the animated series and might be the best incarnation of Batman on screen, so we knew it would be a hit as part of our party. 

    -Bat Trivia. I found several quizzes on Sporcle.com that I adapted for our Batman trivia. I made sure to have some that were easy (name the characters) to hard (who said it-Batman or Shakespeare?)

    -Scavenger Hunt-my amazing staff pulled together to create some amazing scavenger hunts around the library (and these sneakily taught our kids all about the library!) One scavenger hunt included riddles from the Riddler that needed to be solved. The riddles were clues to the locations of the question marks around the library. The other scavenger hunt was a hunt down the villains around the library. We printed off pictures of the characters and hung them around the library for the kids to find.

    -Bat Villain shooting gallery. My awesome staff put this together as well and created a shooting gallery using nerf guns, styrofoam blocks, and pictures of various bat villains. This was recycled from our Star Wars program and worked well with Batman too. It was a huge hit and the kids loved it. It was also fun for the younger kids who couldn't do the scavenger hunt or trivia.

    -Batarang Toss-Using the diecut machine, we cut out dies and my staff created black and yellow boxes for the kids to toss bats into. Another good activity for the younger kids.
    -Build Gotham City-I couldn't have done this without my staff who again, pulled together to cover wooden blocks in black paper to create Gotham City building blocks. This was another option for the younger kids.

    -Batman Cubee crafts-printed off from the Cubee Craft website

    -A Batman Fan Discussion-my husband led this discussion for teens and adults about all things Batman-the best actor to portray Batman, best Bat Villain, best movie/TV Show, thoughts on the upcoming movie and Gotham TV Show, and various Batman theories. 

    -Lots of freebies and goodies! Thanks to our local comic book store and Random House, we were able to give away lots of great posters, Batman masks, buttons, tattoos, and comics. 

    Why yes, I actually get paid to dress up and pose with Batman! My job is awesome!

    And of course, the highlight of the program was having Batman at the library! I am very lucky that I was able to meet our local Batman. We have the most amazing guy in town that dresses up as Batman and makes appearances and I was able to book him for the morning to come take photos with the kids. It was a huge hit and the kids were in awe of him. The best was seeing the kids dressed up and being amazed that their favorite superhero was right in front of them! And I got to promote the library to Batman which was pretty awesome!

    We decorated the room with diecut bats and I cut out a skyline of Gotham City from a tri-fold science board that I had painted black with yellow windows. One of my amazing co-workers created a Bat Signal using a projector and Powerpoint that we projected onto the ceiling. I also used print outs of a Bat Signal on the floor to lead patrons down the concourse and around the corner to where the event was and where Batman was located for photos. Seeing a video of a previous Batman appearance, I made sure to have a barricade up to keep a line for photos going smoothly. 

    We promoted the program through our media channels, distributed fliers to local comic book stores, promoted in on library Facebook pages (and got coverage on Batman's page too!) as well as being advertised on our area visitor's bereau blog and on DC Comics blogs. For putting together a three day program, all of my staff and awesome co-workers came together wonderfully and helped spread the word. We ended up having over 100 people at the event, which was pretty impressive for doing something on such short notice! 

    Overall the program was incredibly well attended and well received. We had plenty of activities, but if we did it again, I would like to book a larger room, since we were in our smaller Story Hour Room. This way everything could be more spread out. All the activities ran themselves really well so staff didn't have to do much but mingle, restock supplies and hand out prizes. 

    It was a great success and I can't wait to host another Batman Day at the Library!

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    15. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

    Rating: 5/5 Stars

    Genre: Contemporary

    Release Date: 9/17/2013

    Add to Goodreads

    About the Book: Billy Miller is about to enter second grade-and that means a lot of new things are on the horizon. Billy is growing up and he's not quite sure what to think about it or how to navigate elementary school. He wants to be a responsible member of the family, help his younger sister and his working mom and stay at home dad. Second grade is going to be quite the year for Billy Miller.

    GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Every summer it seems like the early chapter books fly off the library shelves. As young beginning readers are starting to branch out and read chapter books on their own, books like Junie B Jones and Magic Tree House can't stay on the shelf. Yet every once in awhile I get a young reader who isn't interested in reading about girls-and there are oh-so-many titles about spunky, creative, engaging girls. So when I first read The Year of Billy Miller, I knew this was going to become my go-to book suggestion for those readers.

    Billy Miller deserves a spot next to Ramona, Junie B, Clementine, and Judy Moody. He navigates his second grade year with the excitement and trepidation that comes with that age. Kevin Henkes masterfully draws on Billy's emotions to make him a relateable and realistic character. Billy wants to help out at home and enjoy "kid-ish" activities, but is also wondering if maybe it's time to grow up. He's always called his dad Papa, but isn't sure if that's really okay anymore and thinks he should try calling him Dad. He has a nemesis at school that he's just not sure what to think of. He doesn't know if his teacher really likes him or not and he's nervous about it.

    Billy's little sister Sal is the perfect foil for Billy and they have the type of sibling relationship you would expect. Billy alternates between finding Sal cute and annoying and getting along and fighting with each other. Their relationship reminded me of my own siblings and Billy is your usual first born-he wants to be responsible, wants Sal to listen to him, but he always realizes that Sal is a good ally and friend.

    I recently gave this book to one of my avid readers who has flown through all of the other early chapter books I've given him and he was excited to pick up a book that looked like a bigger chapter book. While the text is still simple, the length of this one is longer than your typical beginning chapter book, so it's sure to please those readers who want a longer book.

    I was so excited to see The Year of Billy Miller chosen as a Newbery Honor. It's a wonderfully charming, heartfelt, funny beginning chapter book that is perfect to read aloud or read on your own. It's destined to be a classic.

    Book Pairings: Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary, Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

    Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy I checked out from my local library

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    16. Digitots: Take Two

    (My set up for digital storytime-iPad connected to a large screen TV and my storytelling stool)

    This past weekend I did my second Digitots Storytime. I am so glad my library is finally incorporating digital components in storytime and so far the response from patrons has been great. They love that we're highlighting apps for them to try with their kids, giving them a chance to see them and how their child interacts with an app, and it's a great way to model a wonderful use of media and how it can be beneficial. 

    For this storytime I decided to focus on more stories than game apps and modeled it much like my traditional print storytimes but using the iPad for most of my resources. I loaded my music onto the iPad so everything was all in one place. Since I didn't want the iTunes screen showing my playlist, because that's a bit boring, I used the Smoothie Feltboard app and created a screen that showed "digitots storytime" to put up when we were singing a song. (You can see it in the picture above.)

    Here's my plan from this month's Digitots Storytime:

    Song (played in iTunes): Doctor Knickerbocker by The Wiggles-a great movement and get ready song

    Llama Llama Red Pajama-Penguin Group USA-$4.99 I used this version to read the book to the kids and used the sound effects in the story to go along with the text. The kids seemed to like it okay and I really like the slight animations on the pages without it being too distracting. It's a good one to use as an introduction to reading a picture book on the iPad. But honestly, I didn't think this app/ibook was anything special, especially for the price. The music was also too loud (I should have turned the volume on the TV down after our song) and it over powered my reading of the story at times. It's also hard to find exactly where to press on the page to get the characters to make any noise or talk, which was a bit frustrating. I also played it for my staff and we agreed that the narrator, while having a nice calming voice, wasn't that energized by the story and we all preferred the read it ourselves option. 

    Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems-I used the print version of this one because I wanted to give the kids a basis for the story before we moved into using the app. It was also a great way to integrate both print and digital text into the storytime.

    Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App-Disney-$5.99-Yes, this one's a bit pricey, but it's totally worth it! You could easily do an entire digital storytime just using this app! There are three options for how you would like to run the pigeon story-a silly one made up for you, one where you choose options based on three choices, or one where you record your voice answering the questions. Since I had a younger group and I wasn't sure how shy they would be in recording their own answers, I chose the second option ("the chick") of giving them pictures to choose from and selecting those to fill in our story. The bus driver comes out and asks the group some questions and I let the kids pick what they would like the answers to be. Then once the pigeon arrived, we shook him up and he created the story we had just written together which ended up being titled "Don't Let The Pigeon Wear Purple Underwear" which the kids thought was hilarious! They loved that the things they picked ended up in the story. 

    I then used the "Draw the Pigeon" portion of the app. I asked the kids if they would like to learn how to draw the pigeon and gave each child a paper and crayon. Using the instructions Mo Willems give we drew along with him to create our pigeons. I drew mine on the iPad so it was projected on the screen and the kids followed along on paper. Their Pigeons turned out great! I love this option because it's a great way to connect the kids to the story as they get to create the character. It's also easy to go along at your own pace, so I could watch the group and make sure everyone was doing okay before we moved to the next step. If you can draw circles, triangles, and lines, you can draw a Pigeon drawing too!

    Song: Octopus by Charlotte Diamond (played on iTunes)-an oldie but a goodie and a fun action song 

    Toca Kitchen Monsters-Toca Boca-Free-I wanted to end with giving the kids a chance to play one on one with the iPad instead of just watching my activities on the screen, so I ended with Toca Kitchen Monsters. We chose a monster and then each child got the chance to feed the monster. The first round the kids had fun just feeding the monster. For the second round I showed them how they could also open the kitchen and cook the food in different ways. The most popular cooking methods were the microwave and the blender and much the kids surprise the monsters ate everything they cooked! I love Toca Boca apps and they are lots of fun. If you're looking for great kids apps, be sure to check out Toca Boca. I love using them in storytime and am always looking for new ways to incorporate them. 

    Overall this storytime worked well and it was fine to do it without a theme. Following the format of highlighting various apps worked great and the kids didn't care that there wasn't an overall theme to the stories. The parents also commented on how they enjoyed seeing the apps I used which was great.  

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    17. ALSC Blog: Learning From Other Professions

    Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about what I learned from attending a workshop for music educators. I found learning from another profession challenging and invigorating and it gave me lots of great new ideas! Any professions that you've learned from that you think librarians should collaborate with?

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    18. Summer Reading Program Revamped-So Far So Good!

    Our Fizz Boom Read Bulletin Board

    Sigh....oh Summer Reading Program. I love you and yet you tire me out year after year. This year I made a goal to go easy on myself and try to read picture books this summer. And while I've read some picture books, I still have sadly not been reading much at all! My grand total for books read (or listened to) in June was four, which is incredibly low for me. The Summer Reading Program is super busy/taking care of Baby GreenBean/working a lot is making me tired and cutting into my reading (and blogging) time! But there are some good things about SRP this year.

    This year we revamped the format of our Summer Reading Program and it's actually made things easier on the staff side which has been great. In past years the program was 3 levels, 12 hours of reading and 12 activities. This year we changed it to 2 levels, 10 hours of reading and eight activities. The activities are things like, read a book on the five senses or put an ice cube outside, one in the house, and one in the freezer and see which one melts first or build a reading fort. Level 1 awards the kids a coupon card with all sorts of freebie and discounted deals (we've done this prize for several years now and it's a huge draw). Level 2 gets them a Fine Waiver and a free book. That's it-no more stickers or bookmarks trying to make up a middle level that wasn't that exciting. In the past, Level 2 was a pretty wimpy level and this year, combining the fine waiver and the book make a much more interesting and fun prize.

    We also changed the teen program so that instead of weekly random prize drawings, every teen gets a book. Both the teen and kids prizes are the same-same levels, same amount of reading. The only difference is the teen program is online and there's no activities the teens have to do along with the reading.

    We were worried (it seems librarians are always worried about changes!) about how these changes would go. But so far, it's been great. The teens are very happy to get a book and it's great that every teen gets a bigger prize. (Before it was just the teens that won a random drawing who won a book or bigger prize).

    The teens get a chance to keep adding hours for a grand prize drawing of gift cards. And the kids get a chance to complete "Eager Readers" which they can complete more reading and activities and earn entries into grand prize drawings. This is a great way to keep the kids reading and making summer reading program last all summer, even for those who finish quickly.

    Add in our Tiny Tots program that has 16 activities for babies under 18 months to complete and earn two board books and an entry into a Tiny Tots gift basket and we've got successful summer reading programs for all ages.

    Streamlining our SRP this year has made it so much better on the staff side. It's so much easier to explain since every program follows the same basic format and prize structure. And our patrons haven't had any complaints about having a change in the amount of hours or taking out the random prize drawings for the teens. I haven't heard anyone say anything about missing a sticker or bookmark-maybe because we have bookmarks out at the desk for them to take if they want one.

    I think the key to a non-stressful summer reading program is to make sure it's simple. Simple to explain, simple to follow, and simple to complete. We have options to continue for those who read quickly but it's not so much reading to prevent those who pick up the program midway through to finish the entire game board. We're still super busy, as we are every summer, but I feel like the structure of our program makes so much more sense this year and we're all very happy about that!

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    19. Things I wish people knew about Summer Reading

    Ok, first off, I knew blogging with a baby would be hard. But my goodness, it's tough! Especially when he stops napping well and the moment he goes to bed I want to go to bed too because I've exhausted myself at work. But luckily I've got my handy iPad to blog from whole I'm holding Baby GreenBean, so please excuse any typos!

    We're almost a week into Summer Reading Program at my library. This is my eighth Summer Reading Program and it never fails that after a few days, I start to feel like a broken record saying the same things over and over again. I can give the Summer Reading spiel in my sleep-and have actually dreamt about it!

    Yet no matter how many times I go through another Summer Reading Program, there are always things that surprise me that people don't know. Here's my wish list of what I wish people knew about Summer Reading.

    -Listening to a book counts as reading. Yep, it might seem like a given to people who are avid readers or who work with kids, but every year I get the inevitable "but my child can't read yet" statement from parents. They're surprised that listening to a book, bring read to, or even audiobooks count as reading. Ice even said that maybe we should call it the Summer Reading and Listening Program,

    -All ages can participate-including babies and toddlers. Along with the my kid can't read yet camp are the parents who will only pick up a reading game board for their older kids and ignore baby. They don't think the younger ones can participate-but of course they can! I always encourage them to include everyone and mention that even when reading to the older kids, if baby is in the room, that counts-baby is listening! (See above!) The last two years my library has started a program just for babies which I love and it helps encourage those with younger kids to participate. 

    -Forget reading levels and read what you want! Every year I have parents or kids who are stuck on redding books at a certain level. And it's so frustrating! Not every book is catalogued in every leveling system, our library isn't organized by level, and so many times the kid is reading at a high level but a young age which makes it hard to find something of interest. Forget the reading levels-please!!! The best way to enhance and grow your child's reading skills and love of reading is to let them read what they want. Let them read for pleasure-that doesn't happen enough, or at all, during the school year, so let them have fun. I promise they will continue to grow as a reader and they will learn to love reading because they got to choose their own books.

    -I'm glad you love the prizes, but that's not what it's all about. I'm glad people love our program and we are super lucky that every child gets a book, a fine waiver card, and a big coupon card with lots of great area deals (many for free). But just because you finished the game board doesn't mean you have to stop reading. And the prizes are great, but please be honest and don't cheat. It's not about getting prizes but getting to choose what you want to read and have fun reading. That's the main focus and what it's all about. 

    -Just because a book is popular doesn't mean it's the best book for your child. Oh Summer Reading. What is it about this time of year that makes parents and grandparents only want the "popular books"? Seriously, if I had a new book every time someone asked where the popular books were, I'd have a very nice library! But here's the thing about Summer-the library gets so much more busy than during the school year. More books get checked out-including the popular ones. It doesn't matter if during the school year we have an entire shelf full of Magic Tree House, during the Summer they are all gone. And there's nothing more frustrating that an interaction with a patron who only wants what's "popular" and refuses to take anything else or try something new. My staff and I work hard all year long to create booklists and readalike lists and our job is to help you find something to read-and I do believe we're pretty awesome at it too! So trust us to help you instead of only relying in best sellers and popular books-there's so much more in the library and we can help you find it. And if you really want that popular book, we'd be happy to put you on hold for it. 

    Ok librarians, anything else you want to add? Or what about those who aren't librarians, what should librarians know about Summer Reading? 

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    20. Mouseheart Giveaway

     About the Book: Hopper is just an ordinary pet-shop mouse—until he escapes. Soon he finds himself below the bustling streets of Brooklyn, deep within the untamed tangles of transit tunnels, and in Atlantia, a glorious utopian rat civilization.

    But all is not as it seems. Hopper misses Pinkie and Pup, the siblings he lost in the escape attempt. Atlantia is constantly threatened by roving rebels who wish to bring the city to its knees. And there are cats everywhere, cats who would normally eat a rodent in a second, but leave the rats unharmed . . . and no one can seem to answer why.

    Soon Hopper is caught in the crosshairs of an epic battle, one that spans generations and species. As the clashes rage, Hopper learns terrible, extraordinary secrets. Deadly secrets about Atlantia. Painful secrets about his friends.

    And one powerful secret about himself.

    If you work with middle graders, you know that animal fantasy is huge. My middle graders are forever asking for books like Warriors or Redwall or The Familiars. And now I can add Mouseheart to my list of suggestions of what to read next. 

    This is the start to a series and it's full of adventure, action, great characters and a main character with lots of heart. I know my animal fantasy fans will love this one and I love that it's a series so they know more adventures are coming. 

    And if you have readers who like the book, be sure to tell them to visit the Mouseheart website
    The amazing folks at Simon & Schuster want to help get tweens reading this summer with a great prize pack of books! One lucky winner will receive The Search for Wondla, Mouseheart, and Belly Up (which was on our state award list a couple of years ago and my tween readers loved it!) If you're on need of some great summer reading picks, be sure to check out these books!

    Want to win copies for yourself?

    Fill out the form below to enter. 
    -Contest ends June 11
    -US Address Only
    -One Entry Per Person


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    21. ALSC Blog: It's Okay to Mess Up

    Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about why I think it's okay to mess up in storytime and a couple of the times I have! Come join me and share your own stories!

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    22. My First Digital Storytime

    So this past weekend, I was proud to finally give my library's fist digital storytime. We've been working towards digital storytimes for awhile so I was thrilled to have the chance to debut them as part of our Summer Reading Program this year. 

    How I Set It Up:

    To set up the storytime, I used an HDMI cable to attach the iPad to a large screen TV. This was very easy to do and a great way to project the apps to the group. It also gave me an easy way control the apps without having to worry about running the apps upside down or moving the iPad around the room so everyone could see. It did make me a bit more limited in my mobility, since I was tethered to the TV, but overall I felt that it worked out well.

    I decided to go with an animal theme for my first digital storytime. I wanted to use a lot of apps that were very interactive since my goal with our digital storytime is to promote the interactive nature of apps and the benefits of interacting with your child and screen time instead of using the screen and child alone. 

    What I Used:

    -Moo Ba La La La-Sandra Boynton-$3.99-I opened with this one and used the read myself option but used the animal sound effects and animations along with the story. The kids liked the animations and the story was a familiar, so it was a good opener and a nice way to ease into using a digital component. 

    -Five Green and Speckled Frogs-Software Smoothie-$2.99-I created a felt board story of this song (inspired by Cen Campbell of Little eLit!) and stored each felt board page in my photo stream. The kids were in awe of the felt board on the big screen and we counted each of the frogs at the start of each verse. They loved that the frog "jumped" into the water. I think this was my favorite app to use and I can't wait to create more felt boards on it. I'm terrible at crafts and making cute felt boards, so I think this is a nice alternative for non-crafty people like me.

    -Animal Sounds From the Farm-Curious Circus-$.99-The kids love this app. I've used it in other storytimes as well as Digitots and it's always a huge hit. I asked the kids what the animal sound would be and then pressed the name of the animal and then the animal itself for the sound. The animation is simple and the animal sounds are wonderful. I have several parents ask me about this one and want to download it for themselves each time I use it. 

    -Feed the Animals-Paper Boat Apps-$1.99-Since I had a small group, I was able to have each kid come up and choose what food they thought an animal would eat. They were great about taking turns and loved having the chance to play with the iPad themselves and watching it project onto the big screen. This one does go to a "you earned a new sticker" page after several animals, but I just skipped past it easily. It also does have some ads pop up after awhile, but they're easy to close out of. 

    -Bunny Fun: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes-Rosemary Wells-Auryn-(available in Stories Alive, price unavailable) I first played the song and had the kids sing and dance along. Then I had them gather up by me and told them we could record our own version of the song. Using the microphone and record option on the app, I recorded the kids and I singing the song. I then recorded the kids themselves without my lead. The parents clapped and the kids loved that they were part of a performance.

    -Toca Band-Toca Boca-$2.99-I ended with Toca Band and again giving each child a chance to play with the app. Each child chose something or someone to place in the band and we listened to the song we created.

    How It Went: 

    I was a bit nervous as to how the kids and the parents would respond to a digital storytime. Would the kids be engaged? Would the parents find it boring? I was very pleased with the response from both the kids and the adults. The kids loved watching the apps and familiar songs and stories appear on the big screen. They loved getting a chance to feed the animals and play with the Toca Band and interact with the iPad. And the parents really enjoyed that the kids got involved and they got to sample some new apps. Overall it was a great first digital storytime and I can't wait to do more!

    Have you done any digital storytimes? What apps are your favorites?

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    23. Bad Luck Girl Blog Tour: Author Interview with Sarah Zettel

    Please welcome Sarah Zettel to GreenBeanTeenQueen! Her amazing historical 
    fantasy series, The American Fairy Trilogy, concludes with book three, Bad
    Luck Girl.
    About Bad Luck Girl: After rescuing her parents from the Seelie king at Hearst Castle, Callie 
    is caught up in the war between the fairies of the Midnight Throne and the Sunlit Kingdoms. 
    By accident, she discovers that fairies aren’t the only magical creatures in the world. There’s also 
    Halfers, misfits that are half fairy and half other—half paper, half steel girder, half electric spark. 
    As the war heats up, Callie’s world falls apart. And even though she’s the child of prophecy, she doubts she can save the 
    Halfers, her people, her family, and Jack, let alone herself. Bad Luck Girl, they call Callie, and she’s starting to believe them.

    The American Fairy Trilogy is historical fantasy. What about history inspires 
    you to write?
    That’s a big question.  I guess the first reason would be because history is full 
    of people and people are endlessly fascinating and inspiring.  The actions of people 
    who did big things, small things, good things, bad things, both, who survived, who failed to, are the raw stuff 
    of stories.  Add to that a dramatic landscape, like, say, the Dust Bowl or Chicago in the age of Depression 
    and jazz, and how could anybody fail to find inspiration?  Plus, I am very much interested in the way things 
    work, and it’s only by studying history and trying to understand it that we find out how the present works, 
    and how the future might work. One of the reasons I write is to learn, and writing about history is one 
    heck of a way to learn about history.

    What does it feel like to have your trilogy come to an end?
    There’s a certain amount of relief.  It means I don’t have to work on it anymore.  For me, there comes
    a point when, no matter how much I love a story, I just never want to see it again.  There’s a certain amount
    of satisfaction as well, as there always is when you’ve finished a big job.  Of course, I’m a little sorry too. 
     I spent a lot of time with Callie, Jack and their world.  I had a lot of fun, a lot of frustration and I certainly
    learned a lot with and from the process of writing these books, and it’s always hard to let that go.  

    What are you working on next?
    I always have more projects in the hopper than is good for me, or my long-suffering, hard-working 
    agent. I’ve just finished the third book in my other YA historical trilogy: Palace of Spies.  Book #2 in that 
    series, Dangerous Deceptions, is coming out this November.  I have a mid-grade book about a girl who 
    finds unicorns and monsters living in the shopping mall her parents manage.  I’m working on another
    historical YA set in Greenwich Village during the Red Scare.  Oh, and did I mention the thriller,
    and the epic fantasy and…

    What time period would you travel back in time to if you could?
    Me, personally, I wouldn’t go back.  I like history, I enjoy the mental exercise of setting stories there.  
    But when it comes down to it, the past is a messy, uncomfortable place where I wouldn’t have had 
    many rights, not to mention conveniences like antibiotics and eyeglasses.  If I was going to time travel,
    I’d go forward, maybe fifty years?  Maybe a hundred?  See what the future holds.  

    Thanks to Green Bean Teen Queen for letting me stop by!

    Sarah Zettel

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    24. Cosplay Prom

    Me and my teen librarian J cosplaying as books.

    So I may have been ALA Left Behind this past weekend, but at least I got to have fun at the library with our fifth annual library prom! The themes over the years have changed (Moonlight Masquerade, Geek Prom, Zombie Prom, Nerd Prom-which apparently I never posted about!) This year, my teen librarian J came up with the idea for Cosplay Prom. It was a huge hit and the most popular prom we've done so far!

    Setting up the Event: 

    J actually did the setting up and we brainstormed ideas of what to put out to keep the teens entertained in case they didn't want to dance (which is always a possibility). He bought food supplies to make candy sushi and we also had some animal crackers out for a snack. We didn't provide drinks because it's messy and we have a cafe in the library that many teens purchase drinks from anyway, so we decided food was enough.

    For activities we had easy origami owls, paper bowtie making, pin the scar on Harry, bookmark making-(choose your fandom and design a bookmark) as well as some board games, Apples to Apples and Jenga. We also had a photo booth with props from the youth services costume stash for the teens to take photos. We didn't provide a camera since we felt the teens would have devices to take photos with.

    We ran music through the speakers in the auditorium and used Pandora and Songza and YouTube to play popular songs and song requests.

    How it Went: 

    The teens went all out when it came to costumes! They had a blast and several commented how excited they were to have a chance to cosplay because they never had the chance to anywhere else. We had the teens sign in as they came in which helped us keep a good head count as to how many attend (around 75 teens!)

    J and I made an announcement to start about what we had around the room and we kicked off the prom with some music. After a few minutes we put on The Cha-Cha Slide and that got the teens dancing-and they kept dancing all night!

    About halfway through the event we held a costume contest with the help of our pages and circ staff as the judges. As the teens came in, I felt so out of touch with my teens and pop culture! I recognized some fandoms, but there were others (especially the anime) that the teens had to teach me about. The most popular fandoms were Doctor Who, Homestuck, Hetalia, and Sherlock.  Some of the teens even cosplayed as characters from books they were writing which was very cool. The costume contest winner was a Steampunk cosplayer who had created his costume the night before!

    The most popular song was Let It Go, which the teens sang along to and was hilarious to watch. They also loved dancing and singing along to What Does the Fox Say, Gangam Style, Macarana, Cupid Shuffle-pretty much anything they could dance to. When we tried to play anything from a Top 40 playlist, they revolted and instead wanted theme songs and group dances. We also played themes for Sherlock, Doctor Who, Adventure Time, and a Doctor Who themed Time Warp Parody.

    The rest of the night was spent dancing and singing along and playing games. The teens danced most of the night and were sad when we had to close up. They requested we repeat the cosplay theme next year as well as asked to have it more often and longer.

    Things I Learned: 

    Overall, the event went smoothly and was a lot of fun. The only downside was the playlist. We didn't have a set playlist and tried to take song suggestions, but J and I weren't familiar with which made it hard to choose songs from their suggestion list. When we asked the teens for feedback at the end of the event, this was a big comment-that we didn't play the songs suggested. Next time I think we'll try to pre-make a playlist. The other issue this time around was the screen had to be down and projected for the computer and sound to work, so any video we played on YouTube ended up being played on the big screen. This was good and bad-it was fun to watch the Doctor Who and Harry Potter videos, but hard to manage because they could see everything that was being typed in and searched for.

    The teens enjoyed having additional activities out, which was great for those that didn't want to dance but I was surprised by how much of their time was spent just singing along to whatever songs came up on the playlist.

    Our proms have become an annual tradition each summer and I can't wait until next year!

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    25. Seek and Find Picture Books

    Recently I've noticed some books appearing on my library shelf that have a great seek and find feel to them. Seek and Find books are always popular, but sometimes it can be hard to find something new after my kids have gone through all the Where's Waldo books for the hundredth time. These might be a bit easier than finding Waldo in a sea of people, but they're still a lot of fun!

    The Bear's Song by Benajmin Chaud

    What a fun book! This is an oversized picture book that is one you will want to pour over the pages with. Papa Bear goes looking for Little Bear and they wind up in the city and then at the opera house. The details in each picture are fantastic-I wanted to look at everything that was happening with all the characters. Each scene has multiple stories happening all at once and it's fun to see what the surrounding characters are up to. The book is also a seek and find as the reader is looking for Little Bear and the bee he is chasing on every page (and he's not always easy to spot!)

    A delightful book that is perfect for a lapsit reading with preschoolers and up.

    Otto and his dad are driving into the city and there's so much to see and do. This is more of a seek and find and look at the pictures book than a book with much plot or story. It's very reminiscent of Richard Scarry's Busytown books-(in fact there's even a nod to Richard Scarry and Huckle-see if you can spot it!) The fun part of the book is that there's so much to see each time you pour over the pages you're sure to spot something new. Then when you've reach the end, turn it around and head home with Otto. I love the suggestion on the back to follow along the path with your own toy cars-the oversized board book format makes it perfect for that and it's a great way to encourage storytelling in young readers. 

    The illustrations might be a bit busy for some kids-there's a lot going on and it made me a bit dizzy looking at it all! But if you can handle a lot of motion and busyness in the pages, you're sure to have fun spotting the various characters, cars, and stores that pop up along the way. 

    A young boy is looking for his pet dragon all throughout the city. This one combines a counting book with a search and find. I have to say that even though the dragon is huge and you would think he'd be easy to spot, I had to scan the pages to find him a few times! Steve Light blends the dragon into the illustrations so well that he becomes part of each picture-he's a fountain at the zoo or hiding underground. The books is done is pen and ink drawings and it's masterfully illustrated. The detail is fantastic. The book is drawn almost entirely in black and white and as the numbers go up, so does the number of illustrated items that are featured in color. I also love the illustration of the dragon breath coming up through the manhole covers as the author mentions in his bio that was what his father told him the steam was when he was a child. This is very creative book that is meticulously drawn and a great way to combine a seek and find format with counting. 

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