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Results 1 - 25 of 70,418
1. Guy Read: True Stories

Guys Read: True Stories  edited by Jon Scieszka illustrated by Brian Floca Walden Pond Press, 2014 ISBN: 9780061963827 On shelves: Sept. 16, 2014 Grades 4 and up The reviewer received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher. Author, Jon Scieszka, has dedicated his life to inspiring boys to read, and he's succeeding. Not only did he serve as the National Ambassador for Young People's

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2. The First 90 Days

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded Michael D. Watkins

I picked this up because Jessica Olin recommended it on Twitter as a follow up to her ALA panel on leadership, What I Really Want To Do Is Direct. If you don’t know, last September I made the leap from librarian to branch manager and in June, I transferred to a much bigger branch in our system.

Basically, the book looks what leaders need to do in the first 90 days (with some groundwork to lay before you start) at a new job, whether you’re new to the organization, new to the department, or just in a new role. It helps ease you into a new role to be successful, and to be successful relatively quickly.

One thing I really appreciated was how practical it was. Instead of being full of blithe platitudes, it was full of stuff like “you need to talk to your supervisor about x, y, and z. You need to talk to all of your direct reports about a, b, and c. You need to map out these 6 things.” Parts of it are a bit jargony, but explained well, and do give a useful framework to think and discuss certain things. It includes a lot of charts to fill in to help you think about the things he says you need to be thinking about.

He really stresses taking the time to learn different things (and he tells you what you need to learn) before you hit the ground running, to make sure you’re focusing on the right things for greatest impact and that you’re doing it in a way that’s most likely to succeed without burning bridges that shouldn’t be burned. It’s just extremely helpful and doable.

While its focus tends to be on high-level private sector/corporate transitions, the overall issues and Watkins instructions scale down and transfer pretty well, even to a public library. (I see he also has one on government jobs, but I haven’t read it and can’t comment on if it’s more applicable.)

I liked that the final chapter was about how professional transitions mean personal transitions, too, and working with your family and other people in your personal life to ease everything.

It also gets points for gender-inclusivity--the examples of new managers were evenly split between men and women, and when it talks about dealing with your new boss, the pronouns switch from he/him to she/her every other section.

Overall, it was really helpful, and I highly recommend that people transitioning into a new role read it, but preferably a month or two BEFORE the transition actually happens. I finished it on day 30, and while I still got a lot out of it, I would have gotten even more if I had finished it on day -30.


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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3. Strike: the farm workers fight for their rights By Larry Dane Brimmer

Strike: the farm workers fight for their rights By Larry Dane Brimmer Calkins Creek. October 2014 ISBN: 9781590789971 Grades 9 thru 12 I used an ARC given by the publisher to write this review. In 1965, a group of Filipino and Chicano farm workers, unhappy with their deplorable working conditions and substandard wages organized a strike against the grape industry. The strike, which

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4. #647 – The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

guardian herd 1 starfire

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The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire

Written by Jennifer Lynn Alvareztop-10-use-eb-trans
Harper/HarperCollins Children’s Books      9/23/2014
978-0-06-228606-2
Age 8 to 12              272 pages
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“Once every hundred years, a black foal is born, prophesied to either unite or destroy the five herds of flying horses that live in the land of Anok. He is fated to become the most powerful Pegasus in all of Anok. Star is this black foal. Even though Star has malformed wings that make him unable to fly, the leaders of each herd will take no risks and want to execute Star before his first birthday. With the help of his friends, Star must escape the clutches of the powerful leaders. His epic journey of self-discovery turns into a battle between good and evil that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.”

Opening

“Star trotted through the dense pine forest, alone.”

The Story

The Pegasi of Anok (mythical winged horses), consists of five herds each with their own leader—the over-stallions—and their own land. None crosses the borders without permission. Wars have been raging between these herds for hundreds of years. Star is a black foal born into the Sun Herd, led by Thunderwing. When Star’s mother died birthing Star, Thunderwing’s mate adopted him, much against her mate’s wishes.

Star, a black foal, was born under the Hundred Year Star. If he can remain alive until his first birthday, he will receive the star’s power, and then become either a destroyer or a healer. No one knows which he will become, not even Star, and this terrifies the over-stallions of each herd. The last black foal born under this star all thought would be a healer. He was a good weanling, but when he received the power, he became a destroyer and wrecked havoc in all the land of Anok. It is up to the over-stallion of the guardian herd—Thunderwing—to kill the black foal before his first birthday, or to let him live and receive his ultimate power. Thunderwing is as scared as the others are and plans to execute Star before his first birthday.

Only Star’s three friends and his adopted mother believe Star will be a healer and seek to keep Star alive so he can receive the power of the Hundred Year Star. The other weanlings (those under one-year of age) bully Star and his three friends, mainly because he cannot fly. He does not fit into his wings, and must walk every like a common horse—a terrible insult to a Pegasus.

One particular weanling has it in for Star and tries to kill him. But in doing so, he crosses into another herd’s land, starting a war. Between this new war and the majority of pegasi wanting him executed, Star knows he must be on his own. Can Star survive without his friends, tend to his own food and water, and remain hidden from all other pegasi? Whether or not Star can survive on his own will greatly determine his future. With five herds looking for him, Star’s odds of survival are slim.

Review

The Guardian Herd has every element a kid wants in an adventure. The author has created an imaginative, highly stylized world kids will appreciate. There are great characters that are easy to understand and like, even the terrifying bully Brackentail. This adventure has tons of action, some with violence. The violence is not bad until the final battle, making this book more appropriate for middle graders on the older end of their age-range.

There are many characters is The Guardian Herd. So many that the author starts with five pages of descriptions so kids know the herds and the pegasi in each herd. I found this section a tad overwhelming and skipped it altogether. I had no trouble remembering who was who and where they belonged. The only thing this list does, in my opinion, is make the story seem cumbersome and it might scare off a reader or two. I would drop it or place it at the end of the story.

Star is a wonderful character. Despite his worthless wings and inability to fly, Star has a warm personality, respects and honors his friends and adopted mare, and is braver than one would think given his situation and fate. Star is a character whose side you will quickly take up. When off on his own, Star’s humor—or the author’s humorous writing—had me in stitches. I loved his friend Crabwing and the things they did in and around the bay.

Granted, there is a huge war near the end of the story and the violence can be just shy of young adult territory, but I do not think it will give any kid nightmares, especially when the scenes that follow these battles are as strong and easy to envision. Once these scenes begin, the war becomes a distant memory. I think these final scenes will override any violent scenes a kid may linger on. The ending is extremely well written and strong. It was nothing as I imagined it might be. I cannot explain any further without spoilers, so this will have to do: the ending is fantastic. If the author does not hurry up and finish the next book, I may start stalking her blog.

The Guardian Herd may not be a New York Bestseller, yet, but it will entertain, and possibly teach your child a few things about friendship, respect, and loyalty. If not, they will still be completely engrossed for a few hours with an imaginative world that actually resembles our own world in many ways. I highly recommend this series for kids age 10 and up. Adults who love fantasy adventures will also enjoy The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire. This is Jennifer’s debut novel with HarperCollins—her first traditionally published book!

THE GUARDIAN HERD #1: STARFIRE. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Advanced Readers Copy received from the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

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Get your copy of The Guardian Herd: Starfire at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryHarperCollinsyour favorite book store.

Learn more about The Guardian Herd: Starfire HERE

**Also Available in Audio

Meet the author, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, at her website:    http://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com/

Find more exciting stories at the HarperCollins website:    http://www.harpercollins.com/

HarperCollins Children’s Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Here is a twelve-year-old kid’s view of The Guardian Herd #1:  Starfire. Read Erik’s review HERE

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Also by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

The Pet Washer

The Pet Washer

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Reviewed HERE

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guardian herd starfire

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: children's book reviews, Guardian Herd, HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperCollins Publishers, Hundred Year Star, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Land of Anok, middle grade novel, Pegasus, Starfire

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5. Andrew in Asia

Andrew Medlar getting ready for his trip to the Philippines

Andrew is reading Pedro and the Monkey by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Michael Hays (Morrow Junior Books, 1996) at the Dr. José Rizal sculpture in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Dr. Rizal (1861-1896) “is the Philippine national hero, the ‘father of his country,’ the founder of its modern literature, the inspirer of its educational system” (Reines, Bernard. A People’s Hero: Rizal of the Philippines. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1971.).

The National Library of the Philippines is sponsoring an International Conference of Children’s Librarianship in Tagaytay City next month and I’m very excited to be attending to represent ALSC! The theme of the conference is “Connecting and Linking of Information through Transformed Children’s Libraries to the Digital Era,” and I’ll be giving a presentation on the first evening, October 13,  on the topic of “Envisioning a 21st Century Children’s Library.”

This topic is right up ALSC’s alley as our core purpose is creating a better future for children through libraries, and I’m looking forward to reaching out and sharing how we’re moving together into our association’s envisioned future in which “libraries are recognized as vital to all children and the communities that support them.”

I would love your help in telling this story! What is your vision of a 21st Century Children’s Library for your community? We’re talking collections, technology, programming, spaces—and anything else you can think of. What innovations in library service to children can you imagine developing in the 85 years still to come in this century, and what traditions and proven tactics will we be carrying forward?

Please share your ideas you’d like me to spread around the world by September 16 in the comments section below or by clicking and submitting them here. If you have a picture of something special you’re doing now that you feel represents the future and you’d be willing for me to include it in the conference presentation, please e-mail them to me at andrewalsc@outlook.com. You can also tweet pictures and any other thoughts using #21stkidlib.

And please follow me on Twitter (@ammlib) where I’ll be gearing up for the trip by exploring Filipino folklore (find my reading list here), practicing ordering coffee in Filipino (Higit kape mangyaring), and warming up my taste buds at some of Chicago’s delicious Filipino restaurants. And throughout the trip (October 10-16) I’ll be sharing my experiences and the amazing ideas of our colleagues across the globe using #andrewinasia.

Thanks!

********************************************

Andrew Medlar is the 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect and the Assistant Chief, Technology, Content, & Innovation, at Chicago Public Library.

 

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6. Back to School

I've culled the TWT archives for posts you might want to read during the first month of the school year.

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7. 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
-13+
-Contest ends September 8

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



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8. Does Your Dog Go Suffer With Panic Anxiety Because of Loud Noises? Here's the Cure!

Does your dog seem to experience panic anxiety when he or she experiences loud noises such as thunder, lightning, and fireworks? Does your dog or your cat for that matter start to shave and quiver? Hide under furniture or behind furniture? Cower in the bathroom near the toilet.

Symptoms of Stress

If you see any of these signs, your animal is experiencing storm or loud noise phobia. There is a litany of other symptoms that you may see: your dog is pacing; your dog is looking for a place to hide; your dog pees on the floor; your dog is a nervous wreck; your dog looks at you with big brown eye that say “Please do something, just don’t sit there!”

A True Story

And how do you feel about all of this? Do you wish that you had a possible solution up your sleeve? Well, I’ve been there and done it. I’ve felt like racing to the vet through a howling storm, where all the traffic lights in my town and the next were down. I actually did this, and intersections were a gamble on living or not because there were other crazy people on the road, but not all were headed to their vet. Yes, there were a few close calls. And what did the vet do? The vet prescribed some mild medicine for Roscoe. So, that’s one solution: doggy medicine to calm raw nerves.

Other Possible Solutions?

1.     Hug Therapy —Maybe your dog just needs some extra hugs and reassurance. Snuggle up in a blanket and whisper soothing words to your dog. Don’t feed them a stack of treats. This might reinforce the behavior that you want to see fade. Just let your four-legged family member know it loved, and the world isn’t really ending.                               

2.     Thundershirt Therapy--for your dog or cat—According to the manufacturers, this shirt or sweater is 80% effective in reducing the stress of storms, travel, separation, and other anxiety causing events. Check out what PetSmart.com has to offer you and your four-legged buddy. The odds are in your favor.

3.     Be Proactive Therapy —Let rover become used to noise in general, especially if you get your dog as a puppy. Play your CDs periodically in the house over an extended period of time, and from day to day increase the volume, while rewarding him or her with treats. This will develop a liking for music and noise. It won’t become a big deal.
 
4.     If All Else Fails Therapy—race through the storm to see the vet, but be careful on the wet, slipper roads. Or better yet, be prepared with mild, safe medicated treats. If prescribed correctly, they will not turn your dog into a four-legged zombie. Certified veterinarians Know what they are doing.

BONUS: Ah, now you can relax, you have solved your dog’s problem by implementing one of the above four ideas.  So pour yourself a lemonade with lots of ice, and consider writing in your diary or journal how you solved this problem. Enjoy a laugh about the whole situation. If you have any emotional pain left you could even write about traumatized dog to get the pain out.

Does that suggestion sound farfetched? Like I said, I have been there, and here’s a poem that I wrote for Picture Poetry on Parade! Yes, it contains bathroom humor, but it also contains a subtle message: if your dog has this problem, it’s time to do something about it. And please don’t punish your dog for misbehaving. He’s not a “bad dog.”

THUNDER & LIGHTNING

CRASH! CRACK! CRASH!

RIPPLE, RIPPLE, CRASH!

BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!

  PITTER! PITTER CRASH!                                 

My dog who is afraid of nothing

is afraid of thunder & lightning.                                     

He hates BOOM! BOOM!

CRASH! CRACK! CRASH!

He hides under the table,

 shaking in terrible fear, 

refusing to do his “business” outside

 on the dark, wet lawn.                 

BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!

Poor Roscoe, hunched under the table… 

BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!

SLASH! SPLASH! PLOP!

 PLOP! Oh, no!

That’s mom’s new rug!  

She’s going to call you “BAD DOG! 

But you just hate thunder & lightning.
“I love you, Roscoe.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       but I don’t like cleaning up.






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9. Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border

All Four StarsComplete this rhyme:

Hello, I’m new here, and I’d like to play
Maybe now, maybe later – or even all day
I’ll make you chuckle deep down in your belly
and we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…

You chose “cupcake”, didn’t you? No? What about “French fries?” Not that either? Ok, I’ll bet you chose “meatball!” Well, in the delightfully fun picture book Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border, a young slice of peanut butter toast tries all of those options and then some to round out his rhyming request for a new friend. Peanut Butter is new in town and his mom sends him out to make some friends. Along the way he is rebuffed by the likes of a hamburger, egg, alphabet soup and more before finally finding an ideal match in, you guessed it, Jelly.

This sweet story of friendship and acceptance is illustrated with photographs of three dimensional objects manipulated on a bright outdoor backdrop. Each inanimate food item is brought to life simply with the addition of wire arms and legs. One particularly adorable moment occurs when Peanut Butter encounters Hamburger as he struggles to walk his “dogs.” Terry Border’s clever and thoughtfully laid out scenes are silly enough to make readers of all ages smile and want to flip through the pages time and time again. Peanut Butter & Cupcake is a perfect read aloud for preschoolers and kindergarteners who will get a big kick out of the mismatched food pairings throughout. “Peanut butter and hamburger? Noooooo!”

Posted by: Staci


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10. Bluebird by Lindsey Yankey




Bluebird is a beautiful and unusually illustrated children's book. The illustrations are done in a sparse, yet delicate style with the bluebird being one of a few featured colors on each page. The occasional flowery typeface and the collaged images add a touch of whimsy to the whole look. The bluebird is in search of his friend the wind, without whom he's convinced he can't fly. He looks high and low around the city and country encountering dandelion seeds, kites and scarves who also can't fly without the wind. In his search, he realizes that he's flown to the tallest building without his friend the wind. At the end of the book his friend returns, but the bluebird now knows he can also fly alone.

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11. You don’t have to write, you get to write.

After your students decorate their writer’s notebooks and you review your expectations, the notebooks go home.  This is exciting!  Who doesn’t love writing in a new notebook?!!? I’ll tell ya, there are plenty of… Continue reading

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12. Library Loot: Fifth Trip in August

New Loot:
  • Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington 
Leftover Loot:
  • The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.   

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. August Reflections

In August I read 51 books.

Picture books, early readers:

  1. Clifford Visits the Zoo. Norman Bridwell. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Dreidel. Caryn Yacowitz. Illustrated by David Slonim. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  3. If Kids Ran the World. Leo and Diane Dillon. 2014. Scholastic. 32 Pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. My Grandfather's Coat. Jim Aylesworth. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. The Night Parade. Lily Roscoe. Illustrated by David Walker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Noodle Magic. Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrated by Meilo So. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, The Wolf, and Grandma. Diane and Christyan Fox. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Thanksgiving for Emily Ann. Teresa Johnston. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  9. Fly Guy #14 Fly Guy's Amazing Tricks. Tedd Arnold. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  10. Petal and Poppy. (Level 2, Green Light Readers) Lisa Clough. Illustrated by Ed Briant. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  11. Petal and Poppy and the Penguin. (Level 2, Green Light Readers) Lisa Clough. Illustrated by Ed Briant. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Steve & Wessley in The Ice Cream Shop. (Level 1 Reader) J.E. Morris. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  13. Days of the Knights. (Level 2 Reader) Robert Neubecker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  14. Little Big Horse: Where's My Bike? (Level 1) Dave Horowitz. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  15. Drop It, Rocket! (Step 1) Tad Hills. 2014. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Book Thief. Markus Zusak. 2006. Random House. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
  2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo. 2006. Candlewick. 200 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Kate's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #2) Adele Whitby.  2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Beth's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #1) Adele Whitby. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
  5. The 101 Dalmatians. Dodie Smith. 1956/1989 Penguin. 192 pages. [Source: Owned Since Childhood] 
  6. The Glass Sentence. S.E. Grove. 2014. Penguin. 512 pages. [Source: Library]  
  7. Oliver and the Seawigs. Philip Reeve. Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]  
  9. Out of the Dust. Karen Hesse. 1997. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
  11. Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2014. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  13. The One. Kiera Cass. 2014. HarperCollins. 323 pages. [Source: Library]
Adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side. Damien Lewis. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. [Source: Library]  
  2. The Birth of Britain (History of the English Speaking People #1). Winston Churchill. 1956. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. The Red House Mystery. A.A. Milne. 1922. Dover. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought] 
  7. A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life. James Bowen. 2013. St. Martin's Press. 279 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. The Princess of Celle. Jean Plaidy. 1967/1985. Ballantine. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  9. The Convenient Marriage. By Georgette Heyer. (1934) Read by Richard Armitage. 2010. August 2010. Naxos Audiobooks. 5 hrs. 6 minutes. [Source: Review copy]
  10. Earth Awakens. Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. 2014. Tor. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. Charity Envieth Not. (George Knightley #1) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2009. CreateSpace. 260 pages. [Source: Library]  
  12. Lend Me Leave. (George Knightley #2) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2011. CreateSpace. 246 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Auschwitz Escape. Joel C. Rosenberg. 2014. Tyndale. 468 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Bridge to Haven. Francine Rivers. 2014. Tyndale House. 468 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. In Perfect Time. Sarah Sundin. 2014. Revell. 416 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Wonder-Working God. Jared C. Wilson. 2014. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. Centurion: Mark's Gospel As A Thriller. Ryan Casey Waller. 2013. Interlochen Ink. 190 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. Captured by Love. Jody Hedlund. 2014. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Miracle in a Dry Season. Sarah Loudin Thomas. 2014. Bethany House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  8. Making Sense of the Bible. David Whitehead. 2014. Bethany House. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  9. Sweet Mercy. Ann Tatlock. 2013. Bethany House. 400 pages. [Source: Gift]
  10. Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. John MacArthur. 2010. December 2010. Thomas Nelson. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]
  11. PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. 2014. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

I was lucky enough to hear Jacqueline Woodson speak about and read from Brown Girl Dreaming during the School Library Journal Day of Dialog last spring.  If any of you have seen Woodson before, you know she is charming, and dynamic and funny.  She read a few poems from the book and spoke of her family and writing life.  Like the rest of the librarians, I waited in line to speak with Ms. Woodson and have an arc signed, but 10 minutes or so into the wait I knew this arc wasn't going to be for me to keep.  Instead, I had it signed for a student and gave it to her when I saw her next.   So like so many others, I waited for the book birthday to get my hands on the hard cover copy on the day of its' release.

I'm not sure I can add much to the conversation around this book, as I agree with the buzz.  Brown Girl Dreaming is more than a book or a memoir....it is a gift.  We follow Jacqueline and her changing family from Ohio to South Carolina and up to NYC and each poem is a revelation of sorts that brings the reader through the timeline of Woodson's life.  From the "how to listen" haikus to poems like "sometimes, no words are needed", "stevie", and "as a child, i smelled the air" I found myself closing the book to pause again and again.

I had posted a photo of "stevie" on Instagram and commented that I was swooning over this book, and a friend commented that her copy is so dog-eared that she isn't going to share it with her students.  It made me comment back that this is the kind of book you carry around with you.  I will take the dust jacket off, and place it in my school bag.  And when the world gets to be a little too much, I will open the pages and gift myself with a little bit of magic.

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15. Chain Reaction Challenge

We’ve all seen Rube Goldberg machines: overly complicated machines that use everything from dominoes, to motors, to squirrels in order to complete a simple task. But have you ever thought about hosting a Rube Goldberg competition at your library?

Back in July, I hosted the Chain Reaction Challenge: an event where families were given supplies and two hours to construct a Rube Goldberg machine. I admit that I had my doubts about the program initially – especially since our target age was grades K– 5. However, I found that this is a great family program that emphasizes teamwork, critical thinking, and STEM!
CRC 1Interested in hosting your own Rube Goldberg program? Here are a few components you might consider:

Theme/Objective:

Our theme was Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’, and the objective was to have a golf ball roll from one side of the machine to the other and trigger the next machine (creating the chain reaction). While having a theme is pretty optional, it’s imperative to have an objective so that the teams know what they’re working toward. I felt that the golf balls were an excellent choice for this age group, but there are other objectives you could do, such as:

  • Machines must have dominoes
  • Machines must incorporate gravity in some way
  • Machines must involve matchbox cars
  • Machines must start and end with catapults
  • Machines must start and end with a string being pulled
  • Machines must involve trained squirrels (okay, I’m joking on that one)

Supplies:

While many Rube Goldberg machines require motors and technical aspects, we wanted this to be a simple, age-appropriate program. We told families that they were welcome to bring supplies from home, but we also provided a lot of simple, everyday items:

  • CRC 3Paper towel and toilet paper tubes
  • Small cardboard boxes (such as tissue boxes, frozen dinner boxes, etc.)
  • Lots of duct tape
  • String, yarn, wire, pipe cleaners
  • Legos, tinker toys, blocks
  • Various other toys
  • Things that make noise (bells, chimes, buzzers)
  • Things that roll (cars, cylinders, balls)
  • Wooden dowels
  • Balloons
  • Rulers, crayons, markers, scissors
  • Just about anything you can find

CRC 2

Maker Know-How

I was lucky enough to partner with a local nonprofit organization http://tekventure.org/ that specializes in the maker movement. Therefore, we had engineers on hand to mentor the teams and give them some ideas and suggestions for how to build their machines.

But you do not need engineers to run this program! You can just as easily start the program with a slideshow to demonstrate some simple machines (such as ramps, pendulums, etc.). Or even have handouts with suggestions on it. As a matter of fact, the teams that participated in this program came up with most of the ideas themselves, and many of them had zero maker experience prior to the program!

Awards

We had awards for ten different categories, such as: tallest machine, most colorful, most musical, etc. This worked well for us because we had five teams that participated, so each team was able to get two awards! However, the biggest reward was watching the finished machines run. There was a great sense of accomplishment for both kids and adults to see that they created a simple, working machine.

(all photos courtesy Guest Blogger)

********************************************

Erin WarzalaErin Warzala is a Children’s Librarian at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  She is passionate about early literacy, STEM/STEAM programming, books of all genres, and tea.  She blogs somewhat regularly at http://fallingflannelboards.wordpress.com/ and can be followed on Twitter at @fallingflannel.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

 

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16. Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, by Rick Riordan -- pure read-aloud fun (ages 9-14)

This week we began reading aloud Percy Jackson's Greek Gods with our 10-year-old. It is so much fun, I just have to share it -- even though we're barely a fraction into it. While I usually only share here books I've read in their entirety, I wanted to capture some of the laugh-out-loud moments we've been having. I also want to encourage you to keep reading aloud with your kids, even when they're reading proficiently on their own. That time together is pure gold -- treasure it and store up as much as you can.

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods
by Rick Riordan
illustrated by John Rocco
Disney Hyperion, 2014
Google Books preview
Your local library
Amazon
ages 9 - 14
Right from the introduction, it's clear that this is no ordinary retelling of the classic Greek myths. Percy is on top form, combining good natured humor and sarcastic wit:
"I hope I'm getting extra credit for this," Percy Jackson starts. "A publisher in New York asked me to write down what I know about the Greek gods, and I was like, 'Can we do this anonymously? Because I don't need the Olympians mad at me again.'"
While we haven't read the rest of the Percy Jackson novels together, my daughter knows plenty about them from her friends. She's curious about the Greek gods, but it's really Percy's voice that captured her attention.

Percy starts from the very beginning of time, with Chaos ("a gloomy, soupy mist with all the matter in the cosmos just drifting around"), Gaea the Earth Mother, and Ouranos the sky. Riordan packs a huge amount of detail into his tales, and we are finding it hard to keep track of all the names. So far, we've watched Kronos overthrow his father Ouranos, with the help of his four brothers Koios, Iapetus, Krios and Hyperion. And now Kronos is terrified that his father's curse will come true, and he will be destroyed by his own children. But the main characters are familiar to me, so I can help keep us on track.
"Without a word, (Ouranos) wrapped them in chains and tossed them into Tartarus like bags of recycling."

Want to have a taste of Percy's irreverent tone? Just read this chapter that begins the section on the Olympians and you'll see why this book has my 10 year old giggling each night:
"Why is Zeus always first?
Seriously, every book about the Greek gods has to start with this guy. Are we doing reverse alphabetical order? I know he's the king of Olympus and all--but trust me, this dude's ego does not need to get any bigger.
You know what? Forget him.
We're going to talk about the gods in the order they were born, women first. Take a backseat Zeus. We're starting with Hestia."
I just love the way Riordan infuses his retellings with plenty of modern attitudes. "Maybe you'll feel better about your own relatives, knowing that the first family in creation was also the first dysfunctional family." But he also doesn't skimp on the details, foreign names and intricate family trees. That's why this is working so terrifically as a read-aloud.

John Rocco's illustrations are magnificent. As Kirkus Reviews states, they "smoke and writhe on the page as if hit by lightning." Head over to John's blog to read more about his artwork and see sketches of some of the interior art as he is developing it.

An index, list of illustrations and suggestions for further reading are included in the back matter. My one complaint at this point is I wish there was a family tree and/or list of all the characters with a pronunciation guide. In the meantime, I think I will print out either this basic family tree from Encyclopedia Mythica.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Disney Hyperion Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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17. (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past

Calls for Papers and Proposals

The ALAN Review
Summer 2015: (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past
Submissions due November 1, 2014

Stories are dynamic, told and heard, accepted and revered, rejected and rewritten by readers who draw from their experiences and understandings to garner meaning from the words on the page.  In young adult texts, fiction and nonfiction, historical and contemporary and futuristic, this dynamism can encourage the critique of our collective past, helping us question assumptions about what came before and reconsider our responsibilities to the present and future. These texts can also help us consider the adolescent experience across time and place and explore the similarities and differences that shape reality as young people navigate and draft their own coming of age stories. This universality can foster a connection to others and reinforce our shared existence as members of a human community.  And yet, these texts can give emotional reality to names, dates, and other factual information, letting us imagine the voices of those who lived in other places and times and have sometimes been silenced in official accounts of history, ideally inspiring us honor these voices and generate a better future. Through these stories, we might come to reject a single narrative and develop empathy for individuals we never knew-and those we did and do and will. In this issue, we welcome articles that explore the relationship between young adult literature, history, stories, and readers.  We acknowledge that “every living soul is a book of their own history, which sits on the ever-growing shelf in the library of human memories” (Jack Gantos, Dead End in Norvelt). And that, “If you stare at the center of the universe, there is coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other” (David Levithan, Every Day).  Stories matter in this caring: “I leapt eagerly into books. The characters’ lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own” (Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy). As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.


Filed under: Opportunities, professional development Tagged: CFP. ALAN

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18. Two Get Into Art Books

Get Into Art: Animals. Susie Brooks. 2013. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 If you were going to draw an animal, what would it be? You have so much choice, it might be hard to decide! Animals are a great subject for artists because there are so many shapes, colors, and characters to choose from...Look at the different ways in which animals have inspired famous artists--and then let them inspire you, too!

What a fun concept book for sharing art with children! Get Into Art Animals shares twelve famous artworks with children. Facts about the artists are given for each work of art. In addition, there is a recommended hands-on art project inspired by each work. A glossary in the back defines art terms. There's also a list of everything you'll need to do all the projects.

The Snail, Henri Matisse, 1953
Suspense, Sir Edwin Landseer, 1861
Crinkly Giraffe, Alexander Calder, 1971
The Bird, Georges Braque, 1949
Peacock and Magpie, Edward Bawden, 1970
Fish (E59), M.C. Escher, 1942
Carnival of Harlequin, Joan Miro, 1924-1925
Totem Poles, Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick 1991 and Ellen Neel 1955
Yellow Cow, Franz Marc, 1911
Dragon Wish, Chinese artist 1600-1635
Portrait of Maurice, Andy Warhol, 1976
Jockeys in the Rain, Edgar Degas, 1883-1886

The project for "Totem Poles" is "Crafty Totem." Making your own totem pole out of a cardboard tube and paper. But my favorite may just be "Colorful Cats" a project inspired by Andy Warhol.
Colorful Cats
Warhol's silk-screen method was complicated, but you can get a similar effect with a simple stencil.
1. On a piece of card stock, draw the outline of an animal and carefully cut it out. You'll end up with two stencils like these. (Cut out the eyes, nose and mouth on the second stencil).
2 Lay stencil 1 on a piece of thick paper and attach it with paper clips. Sponge yellow paint all over it.
3. When the paint is dry, lift the stencil and move it slightly down and to one side. Sponge red paint unevenly over it and then leave it to dry.
4. Now lay stencil 2 on top of the picture and sponge blue paint over the holes. Leave it to dry, and then remove the stencil. Cut out the animal and stick it onto a colorful background. (You can print whiskers by dipping the edge of a strip of card stock in paint.)
Warhol often repeated his prints in different colors. Try making a set like this. (27)
Get Into Art: People. Susie Brooks. 2013. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Can you think of an art subject that's always around? Just look in a mirror for the answer! Artists often base their work on themselves or other people. Some create portraits to remember people by or characters to illustrate a story. Others capture feelings, actions, fashions, or imaginary faces. The great thing is that people are all different, and artists can bring them to life in many ways. See how people have inspired famous artists--then let them inspire you, too!

I have really enjoyed looking at both books in this art-appreciation series. Like the previous book, this one introduces twelve works of art to children. Facts about each artist are shared. Each work is connected to a hands-on art project. A project materials checklist and a glossary are included in the back.

Vertumnus, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, about 1590
Weeping Woman, Pablo Picasso, 1937
David, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1501-1504
The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893
Children's Games, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1560
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1, Gustav Klimt, 1907
A Sunday Afternoon On the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1884
Grotesque Faces, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500s
Egyptian Burial Mask, Ancient Egyptian craftspeople, around 3000 BC to A.D. 1st Century
Girl in Mirror, Roy Lichtenstein, 1964
Lawn Tennis, Eadweard Muybridge, 1887
Las Meninas, Diego Velazquez, 1656

There are so many great project ideas in this one! I find myself liking the projects better in Get Into Art People than in Get Into Art Animals. I'm not sure why! I like how the project for "David" is teaching proportion in drawing. It shows step by step how to draw a face (and body) in proper proportion. The Mummy Mask looks like so much fun!!! However, the example I'd like to share with you is inspired by the photograph action sequences of Eadweard Muybridge.
Action Snaps
To photograph your own action sequences you'll need a camera and a friend.
1. Decide what movement you are going to photograph. It's best if it's something that can be done slowly. Get your friend to try moving in slow motion and holding each stage of the pose. When you're ready to start, stand at a good distance from your subject so that he or she fills the camera frame.
2. Keep the same distance between you and your friend as you photograph each stage of the action. If your model moves in one direction, you should move too.
3. If you're photographing something quick, like a somersault, get your friend to repeat the movement and press the shutter button at a different stage each time.
4. Print out your photos and arrange them in sequence--or "stitch" them together on a computer.  (27)
I would recommend both of these books by Susie Brooks. 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. A Peek Inside My Writer’s Notebook

Launching writer's notebooks by giving kids a peek into my own

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20. NOT JUST A DOT by Loryn Brantz





This new picture book looks at a small dot that is feeling unimportant.   The author uses a number of different pictures to look at all the uses for a small dot.    

Dots have all sorts of purposes. "How can this little girl ask for ice cream without you on the question mark?"   The author makes the dot realize how important it is in the world.

The reader learns that the whole world is seen as a dot if you go high enough.

This book takes a modernistic approach to explaining something simple and the illustrations do the same.  The cover is a combination of New York City and Outerspace.   The illustrations take me back images of the Jetsons. 
There are many books about dots and this title comes just in time for the International Dot Day Celebration on September 15.  Check out this new title

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21. Week in Review: August 24-30

The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Red House Mystery. A.A. Milne. 1922. Dover. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought]
The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]
Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2014. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. John MacArthur. 2010. December 2010. Thomas Nelson. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]
PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. 2014. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's favorite:

It wasn't as easy as you might think. I found many of these books charming and delightful or absorbing and compelling. But. There is something about The Daughter of Time that I just love and adore. I have to go with the book that I love most, right? But honorable mentions could definitely be given for Kiss of Deception and The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. Setting up the reading journal for a year of writing about reading

Ever since I began teaching, my students’ reading journals have been as much “the gateway to all the work we will be doing from September to June” (to borrow a phrase from a… Continue reading

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23. Youth Services Basics: Cross-Training by Building Confidence

Are staffers outside of youth services ever responsible for staffing your children’s desk in a programming pinch?  Would employees outside of your department feel comfortable and confident in providing this service or would they feel stunned like a deer caught in the headlights?

At our community branch library, information services staff members also staff our children’s services desk, and we receive a great number of children’s reference questions at our adult information services desk.  Staff members outside of youth services must be familiar with the needs of children and those that work with them. Being cross-trained to provide customer service to customers of all ages is a necessity, but how do we ensure that staffers receive the training necessary to handle the unique needs of our young customers?

My colleague recently presented training for library staff outside of youth services. Not meant as a substitute for advanced youth services training in reference or readers’ advisory, this overview highlighted many of the traditional questions staffers receive when they work in the children’s services department. This training served as a perfect introduction for those employees who may occasionally need to staff this service desk.

Where are the BOB books?     

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

During this youth services basics training, my colleague used questions that have been previously asked by customers as training examples. Just as when working in the information services department, training participants realized that questions are often not as simple as they appear.  The question, “where are the BOB books?” is a perfect example.  The answer could mean numerous things in our library system, depending on the needs of the library user, and could include a request for a standard beginning reader series; it could also serve as a request for the TV inspired books based off the popular Bob the Builder character, or the extremely popular Battle of the Books (BOB) competitions sponsored by our public school system.  Understanding how this one type of question, “where are your BOB books?” could mean various things to different people, was rated by attendees as one of the most valuable pieces of information they learned during the training.

Let’s Take a Tour

As part of the training, participants toured our children’s department at our Headquarters Library.  This touring component provided staffers with a close and personal look at our collection and was helpful to staffers from each of our branches as our youth services departments are structured similarly in each of our eight library locations.  By including this hands-on training component, participants were able to view exactly where items were located, from the juvenile biographies placed at the end of the children’s nonfiction collection to the difference among board books, picture books, and beginning readers.  Knowing our collection is critical in providing excellent customer service, and this tour helped our trainees gain confidence in providing that service for our young patrons.

Priorities of Programs and Services

Questions about children’s programming, and the specialized services offered within the children’s services department, are often questions asked by patrons.  Adults may frequently register their children to attend special programming, request information on how to duplicate the story time experience at home, or request tutoring resources. Staffers must be able to quickly address these questions while also being aware of the unique services offered within the children’s department, such as our picture book bundle service, where customers may check out a group of books organized by a specific theme. Children’s unique interests and needs must be understood by all staff, not just those librarians specializing in children’s services.

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

This training helped staff members without a background in children’s services to gain a better understanding of the interests and needs of our young patrons. Our goal is to prepare our colleagues to feel as comfortable and confident as they can when working with children and their families, instead of feeling caught like a deer in the headlights! What topics do you believe are important to introduce to staff members outside of your department if they were to staff your children’s desk? How do you ensure staffers are most effectively able to reach out to your customers?  Please share in the comments below!

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24. Review of the Day: Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

DoryFantasmagory1 362x500 Review of the Day: Dory Fantasmagory by Abby HanlonDory Fantasmagory
By Abby Hanlon
Dial (an imprint of Penguin)
$14.99
ISBN: 978-0-8037-4088-4
Ages 6-8
On shelves October 9th

Which of the following types of children’s books are, in your opinion, the most difficult to write: Board books, picture books, easy books (for emerging readers), early chapter books, or middle grade fiction (older chapter books)? The question is, by its very definition, unfair. They are all incredibly hard to do well. Now me, I have always felt that easy books must be the hardest to write. You have to take into account not just the controlled vocabulary but also the fact that the story is likely not going to exactly be War and Peace (The Cat in the Hat is considered exceptional for a reason, people). And right on the heels of easy books and their level of difficulty is the early chapter book. You have a bit more freedom with that format, but not by much. For a really good one there should be plenty of fun art alongside a story that strikes the reader as one-of-a-kind. It has to talk about something near and dear to the heart of the kid turning the pages, and if you manage to work in a bit of a metaphor along the way? Then you, my dear, have done the near impossible. The last book I saw work this well was the extraordinary Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett, a book that to this day I consider a successor to Where the Wild Things Are. I didn’t expect to see another book tread the same path for a while. After all, these kinds of stories are enormously difficult to write (or did I mention that already?). Enter Dory Fantasmagory. Oh. My. Goodness. Pick up my jaw from the floor and lob it my way because this book is AMAZING! Perfection of tone, plot, pacing, art, you name it. Author Abby Hanlon has taken a universal childhood desire (the wish of the younger sibling for the older ones to play with them) and turned it into a magnificent epic fantasy complete with sharp-toothed robbers, bearded fairy godmothers, and what may be the most realistic 6-year-old you’ll ever meet on a page. In a word, fantastico.

She’s six-years-old and the youngest of three. Born Dory, nicknamed Rascal, our heroine enjoys a rich fantasy life that involves seeing monsters everywhere and playing with her best imaginary friend Mary. She has to, you see, because her older siblings Luke and Violet refuse to play with her. One day, incensed by her incessant youth, Violet tells Rascal that if she keeps acting like a baby (her words) she’ll be snatched up by the sharp-toothed robber Mrs. Gobble Gracker (a cousin of Viola Swamp if the pictures are anything to go by). Rather than the intended effect of maturing their youngest sibling, this information causes Rascal to go on the warpath to defeat this new enemy. In the course of her playacting she pretends to be a dog (to escape Mrs. Gobble Gracker’s attention, naturally) and guess what? Luke, her older brother, has always wanted a dog! Suddenly he’s playing with her and Rascal is so ebullient with the attention that she refuses to change back. Now her mom’s upset, her siblings are as distant as ever, Mrs. Gobble Gracker may or may not be real, and things look bad for our hero. Fortunately, one uniquely disgusting act is all it will take to save the day and make things right again.

DoryFantasmagory2 300x192 Review of the Day: Dory Fantasmagory by Abby HanlonThis is what I like about the world of children’s books: You never know what amazingly talented book is going to come from an author next. Take Abby Hanlon. A former teacher, Ms. Hanlon wrote the totally respectable picture book Ralph Tells a Story. It published with Amazon and got nice reviews. I read it and liked it but I don’t think anyone having seen it would have predicted its follow up to be Dory here. It’s not just the art that swept me away, though it is delightful. The tiny bio that comes with this book says that its creator “taught herself to draw” after she was inspired by her students’ storytelling. Man oh geez, I wish I could teach myself to draw and end up with something half as good as what Hanlon has here. But while I liked the art, the book resonates as beautifully as it does because it hits on these weird little kid truths that adults forget as they grow older. For example, how does Rascal prove herself to her siblings in the end? By being the only one willing to stick her hand in a toilet for a bouncy ball. THAT feels realistic. And I love Rascal’s incessant ridiculous questions. “What is the opposite of a sandwich?” Lewis Carroll and Gollum ain’t got nuthin’ on this girl riddle-wise.

For me, another part of what Dory Fantasmagory does so well is get the emotional beats of this story dead to rights. First off, the premise itself. Rascal’s desperation to play with her older siblings is incredibly realistic. It’s the kind of need that could easily compel a child to act like a dog for whole days at a time if only it meant garnering the attention of her brother. When Rascal’s mother insists that she act like a girl, Rascal’s loyalties are divided. On the one hand, she’ll get in trouble with her mom if she doesn’t act like a kid. On the other hand, she has FINALLY gotten her brother’s attention!! What’s more, Rascal’s the kind of kid who’ll get so wrapped up in imaginings that she’ll misbehave without intending to, really. Parents reading this book will identify so closely to Rascal’s parents that they’ll be surprised how much they still manage to like the kid when all is said and done (there are no truer lines in the world than when her mom says to her dad, “It’s been a looooooooong day”). But even as they roll their eyes and groan and sigh at their youngest’s antics, please note that Rascal’s mom and dad do leave at least two empty chairs at the table for her imaginary companions. That ain’t small potatoes.

DoryFantasmagory3 219x300 Review of the Day: Dory Fantasmagory by Abby HanlonIt would have been simple for Hanlon to go the usual route with this book and make everything real to Abby without a single moment where she doubts her own imaginings. Lots of children’s books make use of that imaginative blurring between fact and fiction. What really caught by eye about Dory Fantasmagory, however, was the moment when Rascal realizes that in the midst of her storytelling she has lost her sister’s doll. She thinks, “Oh! Where did I put Cherry? I gave her to Mrs. Gobble Gracker, of course. But what did I REALLY ACTUALLY do with her?” This is the moment when the cracks in Rascal’s storytelling become apparent. She has to face facts and just for once see the world for what it is. And why? Because her older sister is upset. Rascal, you now see, would do absolutely anything for her siblings. She’d even destroy her own fantasy world if it meant making them happy.

Beyond the silliness and the jokes (of which there are plenty), Hanlon’s real talent here is how she can balance ridiculousness alongside honest-to-goodness heartwarming moments. If you look at the final picture in this book and don’t feel a wave of happy contentment then you, sir, have no soul. The book is a pure pleasure and bound to be just as amusing to kids as it is to adults. Like older works for children like Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Dory Fantasmagory manages to make a personality type that many kids would find annoying in real life (in this case, a younger sibling) into someone not only understandable but likeable and sympathetic. If it encourages only one big brother or sister to play with their younger sibs then it will have justified its existence in the universe. And I think it shall, folks. I think it shall. A true blue winner.

On shelves October 9th.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Professional Reviews: A star from Kirkus

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25. 2014 Reading Challenges: RIP IX

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings, (sign up) (reviews)
Title: RIP (Readers Imbibing Peril) IX
Duration: September and October
# of Books: at least 4, peril the first --

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

What I Read:

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2)
3)
4)
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6)
7)
8)

What I Recommend:


I read one book in the spring that I'd definitely recommend to others joining this challenge. The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman. 

What I Plan on Reading:

The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten
The Lost
The Attenbury Emeralds
The Late Scholar
Fahrenheit 451
Northanger Abbey
Death of a Schoolgirl
My Cousin Rachel

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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