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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: Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye PLUS Giveaway




Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

Release Date: 3/3/2015

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About the Book: Did you know a gravy boat can change your life? Charlotte and Tobias Eggers do. After a prank on their terrible nanny involving gravy and tadpoles ends in a misunderstanding, Charlotte and Tobias's father packs them in the car, drives them to the desert, and leaves them outside of Witherwood Reform School. Before he can change his mind, a car accident leaves him with amnesia. Charlotte and Tobias have no choice but to enter Witherwood Reform School with is odd teachers, fierce animals, and unending chocolate pudding. But Witterwood is no ordinary school-the headmaster has perfected mind control. Can Charlotte and Tobias escape before it's too late?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Obert Skye is a middle grade reader favorite at my library. He's a regular fixture at our local children's lit festival and he makes quite an impression on the kids. Each year I have a new group coming into the library asking for his books and eagerly wanting more. I'm delighted to report that Mr. Skye has a new series and it's one I know my fans will devour!

Charlotte and Tobias are pranksters and they're also very smart. They know to question things about their new school and they're determined to figure out the secrets of Witherwood. But what happens when the school gets the best of them and they get sucked in? And what happens when your father doesn't even remember that he's looking for you?

Witherwood Reform School is the first in a new series that is perfect for readers who enjoy their humor to be a little dark, their characters slightly mischievous, and mysteries with a side of suspense. Told in the vein of Lemony Snickett and Jason Segal's Nightmares, readers who want something that's just a bit dark, just a tad creepy, and with a slight silliness will be sure to be lining up to get their hands on this one. There are plenty of questions remaining about this mysterious reform school so readers will be eagerly anticipating book two.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher 


Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below to enter!
One entry per person
US Address only
Contest ends March 10
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2. New Blogs to Check Out!

I have the best staff in the world. I know all you other youth services managers think your staff is the greatest, but I'm here to tell you that while you might have an awesome staff, my youth services staff is truly amazing. I am constantly inspired by all they do and I feel so lucky to get to work with them every day.


Two of my amazing staff members have blogs that you really need to check out!


Pamela is one of my staff members who has a passion for tween services. She and one of my other staff, Miss. A, team up regularly to provide very fun and creative tween programs. We've always tried to provide programs for this age group, but with Pamela and Miss A as our tween power team, they are making it happen! She recently published an article with VOYA on last year's summer tween programs. She also works on our tween book groups and is pursuing her MLS and is already a fantastic librarian. The Moose is her favorite animal, which means anytime we get a new Moose picture book, it goes straight to Pamela!



I knew Valerie from the library world before she started working at my library and every time I got to talk to her, I thought she was so cool. So I was thrilled and delighted when she wanted to join our team! She is our teen librarian and she is bringing lots of energy and creativity into our teen department and I love watching her interact with the teens. She has great passive programs and is one of the most geekily awesome people I know. Valerie also loves Star Wars, Cosplay, and Sherlock which makes her even more cool.

Check out their blogs and they write about library programs, book reviews, and adventures in the library. They are both fantastic resources! I am lucky to have them!

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3. KEEP YA WEIRD: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith PLUS GIveaway

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About the Book: This is the history of the end of the world. After an accident in their small Iowa town, Austin and his best friend Robby, and his girlfriend Shann, are caught in the end of the world. Giant six-foot-tall unstoppable praying mantises are hatching. It's up to Robby and Austin to save the world. But Austin is dealing with teenage emotions and hormones and is caught between his love for Shann and Robby. Survival, hormones, and giant man-eating bugs-you know what I mean.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: There's a reason the tour for Grasshopper Jungle and the upcoming book The Alex Crow is titled "Keep YA Weird." Ask anyone about Grasshopper Jungle and I'm sure one of the first things they will say is "it's weird." Yep, it's weird. But it's also very good.

Yes, the book is about giant praying mantises that hatch, mate, and eat as they take over the world. But that's just one part and actually it's not the biggest part of the novel. This is more Austin's story about figuring out his history, his story, and dealing with his conflicted feelings about Robby and Shann. I saw someone describe it on Facebook as a "bi-gay-straight love triangle set at the end of the world" and I think that's a pretty good description.

We recently read Grasshopper Jungle  for my book club and I mentioned how it's a bit of a "coming-of-age" novel (even though I really hate that term) and someone else pointed out that they didn't think Austin ever really comes of age. Austin is "selfish" as Robby describes in the novel and I don't know that even by the end of the book he is less selfish or any less conflicted. But that's part of what makes Grasshopper Jungle so good. There are no happy endings or easily resolved conflicts. This is a history and history is messy and confusing. Life doesn't always make sense.

I actually really loved Austin and Robby and loved their relationship. I liked Shann alright too, but I felt her character kind of got dropped about halfway through (this is Austin telling the story after all) but I would have liked to know more about Shann towards the end of the book as well. But back to Austin and Robby. Austin often refers to Robby as a hero and Robby is just so even-keeled and kind that I felt like I would be friends with Robby in real life. (I'd probably be friends with Austin too, but I think I would be just as annoyed with him as his friends are.) Robby really shines throughout, partly because of his actions and partly because of the way Austin talks about him. But Robby is a fantastic character and I absolutely loved the dialogue and the interplay between Robby and Austin.

Austin recording of history is honest and hilarious. He points out how roads converge and I found all of his recordings digging deeper into his own history as well as what else happened to have everyone end up at this moment fascinating. His job as historian is one he takes seriously and his comments are wry and serious which also makes them funny. And this is a teenage boy we're talking about here, recording a very honest history of being seventeen, so there is a lot of talk about being horny, having sex, and thinking about sex. Yet I never found any of it graphic or out of place. It fit Austin's history.
The most gruesome thing in the book is all of the bugs eating people, which would often feel very Twilight Zoney or like a B-Science Fiction movie.

There are many ways you could sell Grashopper Jungle to readers. It's a science fiction end of the world story, giant bugs who eat people, a love triangle, or a boy trying to get a handle on life and figure things out. But any way you sell it to readers, I think it will be enjoyed. It's a weird, crazy book that I had a ton of fun with.  And I'm so glad Andrew Smith is keeping YA weird.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley received at ALA conference from publisher

Thanks to Penguin and Keeping YA Weird, I have a copy of Grasshopper Jungle to giveaway! One lucky winner will get to enjoy the weirdness! Fill out the form below. One entry per person, US Address only please. Contest ends March 1. And stay tuned for more Keep YA Weird giveaways and a review of The Alex Crow!

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4. One Witch at a Time Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway


About the Book: In this reimagining of "Jack and the Beanstalk," an unsuspecting girl brings one witch's magic into another witch's province, stirring certain disaster.

One Witch at a Time is a sequel to The Brixen Witch, but it can completely stand alone. It's a fun fairy tale retelling with a new spin and fairy tale fans are sure to love it.

I got to ask Stacy DeKeyser about her writing and love of fairy tales-I'm hoping she decides to explore those unanswered questions in Hansel and Gretel and gives us another book!







-What inspired you to write books with a fairy tale/folklore theme?

It started with the Pied Piper. There are so many unexplained things in that story. Why didn’t the villagers pay the piper for getting rid of the rats? And then, why did the piper take it out on the kids? I decided to try and write my own version of the Pied Piper story that answered some of those questions. The result was The Brixen Witch. Writing that book made me realize that every fairy tale has unanswered questions. For example, “Jack and the Beanstalk”: If Jack is clever enough to climb the beanstalk and steal stuff from the giant, how can he also be dumb enough to trade a cow for a handful of dried beans? I love exploring those questions and trying to fill in the blanks with plausible answers.


-Why do you write for middle grade readers?

Those were the books that made me a reader. And the themes that middle grade books explore—finding your place in the world, coming to terms with all the craziness life throws at you—have limitless possibilities, and they are topics that I still struggle with every day. I never get tired of writing about them. Lastly, I think middle grade books tend to preserve the most classic, traditional form of storytelling. (Sort of like fairy tales!) A middle grade book needs a good plot that keeps moving, and characters you care about. And the best stories broaden a reader’s experience while they entertain. That’s what I love to read, and it’s what I try to write.

-What book (or books) would you recommend for someone wanting to start reading middle grade?

Oh, wow, where do I start?

Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) and Because of Winn Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) both prove that a short, simple story can be very satisfying and profound. Any book by Barbara O’Connor. Historical fiction (Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff is a favorite of mine) can make readers curious about the facts of history. If you think you don’t like poetry, try Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. And of course I love fantasy, especially Jonathan Stroud’s books. I love his long sentences and complex plots. I love how he never underestimates his readers.

-If you were trapped in a fairy tale, which one would you choose?


“Hansel and Gretel.” First of all, Gretel has a buddy, which would be nice. Secondly, she’s the hero of the story! She rescues her brother and kills the witch. And what’s going on with that witch, anyway? What makes her want to eat children? She’s clearly very clever, to build a whole cottage out of gingerbread. Couldn’t she put that talent to use for good instead of evil? I’d love to know her story.

Stacy DeKeyser is the author of The Brixen Witch, which received two starred reviews and was a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Pick, and its sequel, One Witch at a Time, as well as the young adult novel, Jump the Cracks and two nonfiction books for young readers. She lives in Connecticut with her family. To learn more and to download a free, CCSS-aligned discussion guide, visit StacyDeKeyser.com.

One lucky winner will receive a set of Stacy DeKeyser’s bewitching reads for middle grades---ONE WITCH AT A TIME in hardcover and THE BRIXEN WITCH in paperback.  (U.S. addresses only. One entry per person. Contest ends February 20)

Leave a comment below to enter!



Follow the One Witch at a Time Tour for more about the book and more chances to win!


Mon, Feb 9
Cracking the Cover
Tues, Feb 10
Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Wed, Feb 11
Mother Daughter Book Club
Thurs, Feb 12
GreenBeanTeenQueen
Fri, Feb 13
The Book Monsters
Mon, Feb 16
Word Spelunking
Tues, Feb 17
Read Now, Sleep Later
Wed, Feb 18
Small Review
Thurs, Feb 19
Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Feb 20
The Flashlight Reader

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5. ALSC Blog: Committee Work Prep



Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog talking about how reading Good Night, Gorilla to baby GreenBean is helping me prepare for a year of committee year. Come join me!

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6. Book Awards: It's More Than Appeal


I love being part of the Youth Media Awards. There is nothing like being in that room during the announcements and eagerly awaiting the titles of each award to appear. I was thrilled, shocked, and surprised with this year's choices which always makes for a fun experience. 

One thing I saw on social media and heard in the crowd murmurings after the announcement over and over again was how pleased people were that this year the books had appeal. It always went along the line "finally, a book that's popular/I can teach/give to kids/put in my library/say I enjoyed." But that's not the point of the awards. Yes, it's nice when a chosen title is cherished and loved by many (it's never all-every book has a critic). But that's not the point of the awards. 



The Youth Media Awards such as the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz are given for excellence in literature to a child (or young adult for Printz) audience. These books are for excellence in text and art, for literary quality and merit. The criteria states "Committee members must consider excellence of presentation for a child audience."  Nowhere in the criteria of these awards does it say the books must be bestsellers, be popular, be teachable in a classroom, or have wide appeal for the majority of readers.

Why do we demand such appeal factors and popularity from our children's and young adult book awards? We don't hear such outcry and push back over adult literary awards such as the Pulitzer or the National Book Award. Do we expect only books for children and teens to be appealing and are we more accepting of "boring and not appealing" books winning adult literary awards? Or do we just have a hard time defining literary merit when it comes to books for youth and instead want to focus on the readability and popularity of a selected title?

One thing I thought about often when I served on the 2013 Printz Committee was how to define literary merit. It's something the committees think about and discuss a lot throughout the year-it's at the forefront of every reading and every conversation. One way I thought about it was how often I am told that children's and teen books have no literary merit, are fluff, or are not well written. For everyone who sees the value in books for youth there is always someone who does not. I thought about finding the book that proved this value-that showed that books for youth have just as much literary weight as any other award winning book. Sometimes those books of high literary quality aren't the bestselling, popular, most beloved books, and that's okay.

What we seem to forget during the Youth Media Awards is that there are books for every reader. Just because we deem something unappealing doesn't mean there isn't an audience for it.


Not everyone will love every book and that's okay. That's our right as readers. But we have to remember to respect each readers right and remember that the Youth Media Awards are given not because of popularity or supposed appeal, but for literary quality. And it's not our job to agree with all their choices or love each choice made, but to respect and appreciate the hard work each committee member put into this past year of reading and appreciate the search of literary merit in children's and young adult books, regardless of how appealing each title may appear. 

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7. Giveaway: The Tragic Age by Stefan Metcalf

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About the Book: (from Goodreads) This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.
 
Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul. 

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It's the age he's at.  The tragic age.  

Stephen Metcalfe's brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.


I created a playlist for The Tragic Age

-I think it's going to rain today by Randy Newman
-Love to hate you by Erasure
-I hate everyone by Get Set Go
-Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths
-Mad About You by Hooverphonic
-Girl Inform Me by The Shins 
-Do You Realize by The Flaming Lips
-Roxanne by The Police
Anything by Avenged Sevenfold


You want to read this book and I've got a chance for three lucky winners to win an ARC! 

One entry per person
Contest ends February 12
13+ older to enter
U.S. Address only please

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8. Re-Post: Dear Committee Member

(This post was orignially published in January 2014, but I think it's fitting that I have friends serving on the award committees this year and I want them to read this encouragement once again and know it's for them too!)

Dear Committee Member-

On the eve of the youth media awards and your committee announcements, I offer you some words of advice from someone who has been there before.

Your choices are amazing. You have done a fantastic job and worked the hardest you have ever worked over the past year. You have read, and re-read, and re-read yet again, taken notes, analyzed, and discussed titles in more depth than you ever thought possible. Your hard work is appreciated.

When the announcement happens and your choices are known, just remember that your titles are amazing. You know why you honored the books you did and now you get to share those amazing titles with the world. You get to watch as others read them and discuss them and discover the intricacies in the plot, setting, characters, and voice that you did. Be proud that you get to share these titles with readers everywhere. Be proud that you have honored an author for their incredible work. Be proud that you get to highlight literary excellence in children's and young adult literature.

Be happy with your choices and don't listen to any naysayers. They don't know these titles as well as you and your fellow committee members. Remember it's not about popularity. That popular mock favorite that you didn't honor? It's OK. The obscure title that surprised everyone? It's OK. The title that everyone has mixed opinions on? It's OK. No matter what you choose, your titles are worth reading, worth knowing, and worth sharing. It doesn't matter if the honored titles don't match everyone's expectations-you know why your books were honored and be proud of giving these books a chance to shine. Feel good about sharing these fantastic titles with readers everywhere and giving them books to discover (or re-discover).

Understand that you just undertook a year of immense critical reading and it's OK to take a break from reading. Your work was exhausting and you deserve a chance to step away from books and not read for awhile. It doesn't make you a bad librarian or a bad reader-you deserve a break. Come back to reading when you're ready-and read something you want to read and find fun. And don't be surprised if the way you read has forever changed-you'll find yourself reading critically, but you can also give yourself a break and read for fun-and sometimes those things will intertwine.

Feel good about the work you did and be proud of your committee. Seek out your titles in a bookstore and library and feel proud when you see that shiny sticker placed on the cover.  Be excited when you get to booktalk one of your titles and share it with a reader. And share away-that's one of the best parts of committee work-sharing your titles with others and getting them to read the books you worked hard to honor.

Thank you for your amazing year of reading and re-reading. Thank you for taking the time to discuss titles with your fellow committee member. Thank you for working hard to shine a light on great titles and honoring the best children's and young adult literature has to offer. Thank you for your amazing list of titles and congrats on a job well done! We're all cheering you on!

Now sit back and enjoy celebrating your hard work over the next year!


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9. My ALA 2015 Awards Predictions

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:

Caldecott Prediction:
Winner:



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.

Honor Books:

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!

Newbery Prediction
Winner:


No surprise there-I think Brown Girl Dreaming is a shoe-in for the top title.

Honor Books:


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!

Printz Prediction
Winner:

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.


Honor Books: 


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?

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10. Mocking the Night Away: Mock Awards Results

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:



Winner: 
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.

Honor Books: 
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:



Winner: 
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.


Honor Books: 
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!

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11. Blog Tour: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski PLUS Giveaway



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!

GIVEAWAY
Want to win a copy of The Winner's Curse? Enter the giveaway below!
-One entry per person
-US  address only
-ages 13+
-One entry per person
-Contest ends January 30


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12. Save Me by Jenny Elliott Giveaway



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
-Ages 13+
-Contest Ends January 24
-Fill out form to enter


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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.

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13. The Life of a Committee Member

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.

-April-More waiting.

-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?


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14. Tune In Tuesday

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!


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15. Resolve to Rock in 2015


Storytime Underground 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?



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16. My Top Books of 2014


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:












  • Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales-I'm a sucker for unique illustrations and I love photographs and this book has a stunning use of both. 


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.






And One Adult Title:


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17. Zodiac by Romina Russell

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About 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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18. Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand, illustrated by David Small

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About the Book: 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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19. Guest Post: Sarah Fine, author of Of Metal and Wishes

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

“I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” Those are the words of Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, the book that influenced Of Metal and Wishes. Wait, you might be thinking. Isn’t Of Metal and Wishes a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera? What the heck is this nonsense about The Jungle?
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.
It might be tempting to assume that we don’t have these problems in the United States anymore. In so many ways, we’ve come so far, what with unions to protect workers’ rights, and news media that can report on injustice and distribute it quickly and widely. That assumption would be wrong, however. Meatpacking is one of the more dangerous professions one can have in this country—despite improvements made in the first half of the 20th century, partly due to the response to Upton Sinclair’s work. In the last few decades, the meatpacking industry has consolidated into a few powerful entities. And they have a habit of hiring undocumented workers, who carry all the risks on their back in the hope of earning decent money for their families. These people have little legal or economic leverage, so how can they defend themselves when they’re victimized?
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.

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20. Picture Book Month: Mac Barnett

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 Hole

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About 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 Bath

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About 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

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About 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.


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21. Picture Book Month: Picture Book Biographies

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

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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

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22. Picture Book Month: Kids Sheriff and the Terrible Toads

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea, illustrated by Lane Smith

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About 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.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: 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

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23. Picture Book Month: The Great Thanksgiving Escape

The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing

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About 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

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24. Tune In Tuesday

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!


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25. ALSC Blog: Providing Activities and Programs During Storytime Breaks

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!

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