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1. Reading Like a Writer, Step-By-Step: Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts

This week at Two Writing Teachers will be sharing ideas about teaching writing with mentor texts: from published books, to student work, digital media, to teacher-created texts. This blog series will inspire you to dive in and find the perfect texts to learn from with your students.

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2. El día de los niños/El día de los libros 20th anniversary

Today is officially El día de los niños/El día de los libros, celebrated every April 30. And today is particularly special, since it’s the 20thanniversary of Día. This special celebration was conceived by and established by founder Pat Mora, author, poet, and literacy advocate. In March 1996, while being interviewed in Tucson, Arizona, she learned about the holiday El día de los niños celebrated in Mexico. Realizing that the United States had nothing similar, Pat proposed linking Children's Day, the celebration of childhood and children, with literacy and bilingualism, creating a new holiday: El día de los niños/El día de los libros.

Earlier this month, Pat also delivered the prestigious May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture in Santa Barbara, CA, “Bookjoy! Alegria en los Libros!” the Garvin Theatre at Santa Barbara City College. Fortunately, they recorded her talk and you can watch it in its entirety here

Meanwhile, here’s the official description of Día from the ALSC sponsor website: “El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day), commonly known as Día, is a celebration every day of children, families, and reading that culminates yearly on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.”

Check out the ALA/ALSC website for
free downloadable materials, tips for starting a book club, booklists, toolkits, and more. You can find even more info, help, and celebration videos at Pat’s websitePlus lesson plans here and even more resources here.

Share Pat’s celebratory picture book all about Día, Book Fiesta! and her poem about Día in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (below) to celebrate this special anniversary of this special day.


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3. An April-full of ALSC Adventures

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”

― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Welcome! (Taken at Arapahoe Library District's Koelbel Library)

Welcome! (Taken at Arapahoe Library District’s Koelbel Library)

I kicked off last month at the Illinois Youth Services Institute, in Normal, presenting on Media Mentorship with one of the co-authors of our white paper on the topic and newly elected “New to ALSC” Board member, Amy Koester, encouraging everybody in the audience (and you, too!) to tweet “I am a #mediamentor”. Congratulations to my fellow Prairie state children’s librarians who imagined and delivered a wonderful inaugural event.

Then I headed up several thousand feet to Denver, for the Public Library Association conference, the theme of which was “Be Extraordinary.” The week was absolutely that, and more, and you can discover some of the experiences there by looking back at the live blogging that several ALSC members did, including pictures from the awesome ALSC Happy Hour and from my invigorating visit, along with our Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter, to the beautiful Koelbel Library of the Arapahoe Library District, in Centennial, Colorado.

nlw-gene-yang-twitter-cover

I had an especially transformative National Library Week this year by visiting 5 libraries in 5 states in 5 days! I began at the Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library in Alexandria, Virginia, built in 1937 and named after, as its website says, “a humanitarian, social crusader and political reformer.” Then on to a building built more than three-quarters of a century later, the beautifully modern Silver Spring Library, part of the Montgomery County Public Libraries in Maryland, followed by a visit to the Tippecanoe County Public Library’s Downtown Library in Lafayette, Indiana, where the “people chairs” make for very comfy reading. Next, a stop back home at Chicago Public Library’s Hall Branch, where Charlemae Hill Rollins served as children’s librarian many decades ago. Then it was westward to the Oxnard Public Library’s Main Library in California, where it was clear upon entering their “Area Para Los Niños” that the community was having a very happy week! All of these visits to ALSC members and our libraries, along with my many others this year (which you can discover on Twitter with #ALSCtour) have made me even more amazed at the work we do and the libraries in which, and from which, we do it. Not to mention even more excited about celebrating these spaces at my President’s Program at Annual (Monday, 6/27, 1:00, Convention Center #W110A), and you can check out a quick video about it, filmed in Ms. Rollins children’s room, here:

On the Friday of National Library Week, the singular Pat Mora presented a joyous Arbuthnot Lecture–¡Alegría en los libros!–at the gorgeous Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and you can also enjoy it hereGracias to SBCC, the Santa Barbara Public Library System, and the University of California at Santa Barbara, which includes the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies. BTW, applications are now being accepted to host next year’s Arbuthnot Lecture starring Jacqueline Woodson, so please consider applying by May 15 here.

In Santa Barbara's fantastic new Central Library Children's Room with '16 Arbuthnot Chair Julie Corsaro & Children's Librarian Gwen. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

In Santa Barbara’s fantastic new Central Library Children’s Room with ’16 Arbuthnot Chair Julie Corsaro & Senior Youth Services Librarian Gwen Wagy. #BabiesNeedWordsEveryDay (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Then I was delighted to be reunited with Pat again several days later, this time in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 20th anniversary of El día de los niños/El día de los libros, the nationally recognized initiative founded by Pat that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. With support from ALA’s Washington Office we had a joyful morning of books (and cake!) at the U.S. Captiol along with Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), Sen. Jack Reed (RI).

Congressman Mark Takano of California reads "Book Fiesta!" while Pat Mora, me, and kids from CentroNia and Payne Elementary celebrate. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Congressman Mark Takano of California reads “Book Fiesta!” while Pat Mora, me, and kids from CentroNia and Payne Elementary School celebrate. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Thanks, everybody, for a delightful Día and an awesome April! I’m looking forward to May’s flowers and want to congratulate all of those who stood for election on this year’s ALSC ballot–both those who won and those whose names will I hope appear again soon!

The post An April-full of ALSC Adventures appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. April Reflections

Stand-Out Books Read in April 2016
  1. Churchill: The Power of Words. Winston S. Churchill. Edited by Martin Gilbert. Da Capo Press. 536 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. War Dogs. Kathryn Selbert. 2016. [April 2016] Charlesbridge. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. No Other Will Do. Karen Witemeyer. 2016. Bethany House. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. C.S. Lewis at War: The Dramatic Story Behind Mere Christianity. Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. Tyndale. 2 Discs. [Source: Library]
  6. Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 1599/2004. SparkNotes. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
5 Places Visited in April:
  1. Texas
  2. Bath and London (England)
  3. Russia
  4. Pakistan 
  5. Ecuador
Picture books:
  1. Absolutely One Thing. Lauren Child. 2016. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Bedtime for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1960/1996. HarperCollins. 32 pages.
  3. A Baby Sister for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1964/1992. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Bread and Jam for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1964/1992. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. A Birthday for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1968/1995. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. I Didn't Do It. Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest. Illustrated by Katy Schneider. 2010. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. War Dogs. Kathryn Selbert. 2016. [April 2016] Charlesbridge. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig. Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by Charlotte Voake. 2016. Random House. 44 pages. [Source: Library]
Early readers and chapter books:
  1. Eva and the New Owl. Rebecca Elliott. 2016. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. A Bargain for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1970/1992. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Best Friends for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1969/1994. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Frog and Toad Are Friends. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1970. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
Contemporary (General, realistic) fiction, all ages: 0
Speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages: 0

Historical fiction, all ages:
  1. I Survived the Hindenburg Disaster. Lauren Tarshis. 2016. Scholastic. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Mysteries, all ages:
  1. Murder in the Museum. John Rowland. 1938. Poisoned Pen Press. 250 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Death in the Tunnel. Miles Burton. 1936/2016. Poisoned Pen Press. 232 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Classics, all ages:
  1. Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 1599/2004. SparkNotes. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Doctor Zhivago. Boris Pasternak. Translated by John Bayley. 1957. 592 pages. [Source: Library]
Nonfiction, all ages:
  1. Churchill: The Power of Words. Winston S. Churchill. Edited by Martin Gilbert. Da Capo Press. 536 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. I Am Malala. Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick. 2014. Little Brown. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Death by Food Pyramid. Denise Minger. 2014. 292 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight--and What We Can Do About It. Harriet Brown. 2016. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Eat Fat, Get Thin. Why The Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health. Mark Hyman. Little, Brown. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. A Big Fat Crisis by Deborah Cohen. 2013. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Stuffed: An Insider's Look At Who's Really Making America Fat. Hank Cardello. 2009. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Secrets from the Eating Lab. Traci Mann. 2015. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian fiction:
  1. No Other Will Do. Karen Witemeyer. 2016. Bethany House. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. No Graven Image. Elisabeth Elliot. 1966. 267 pages. [Source: Inter-Library-Loan]
  3. C.S. Lewis at War: The Dramatic Story Behind Mere Christianity. Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. Tyndale. 2 Discs. [Source: Library]
Christian nonfiction: 
  1. Why Christ Came: 31 Meditations on the Incarnation. Joel R. Beeke & William Boekestein. 2013. Reformation Heritage. 108 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. God's Word, Our Story. Learning from the Book of Nehemiah. D.A. Carson and Kathleen B. Nielson, editors. 2016. Crossway. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Know the Creeds and Councils. Justin S. Holcomb. 2014. Zondervan. 183 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart. Robert J. Morgan. 2010. B&H Publishing. 288 pages. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Looking for Lovely. Annie F. Downs. 2016. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]    
  6. Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God. Joe Thorn. 2015. Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. The Pursuit of Holiness. Jerry Bridges. 1978. NavPress. 160 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  8. Why Bother With Church? Sam Allberry. 2016. Good Book Company.  [Source: Borrowed]
  9. Jesus Without Borders. Chad Gibbs. 2015. Zondervan. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Added to the List #23


The other day I was lucky enough to get a finished copy of Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle in the mail.  This is a book that was high on my TBR list for this spring so I squealed a bit when I opened my package.  Thanks so much Katherine Tegen Books and Harper Collins.  Here is the synopsis:

On the third night of the third month after a girl’s thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes.

The first wish is an impossible wish.
The second is a wish she can make come true herself.
And the third is the deepest wish of her secret heart.

Natasha is the oldest child in a family steeped in magic, though she’s not sure she believes in it. She’s full to bursting with wishes, however. She misses her mother, who disappeared nearly eight long years ago. She has a crush on one of the cutest boys in her class, and she thinks maybe it would be nice if her very first kiss came from him. And amid the chaos of a house full of sisters, aunts, and a father lost in grief, she aches to simply be...noticed.

So Natasha goes to the willow tree at the top of the hill on her Wishing Day, and she makes three wishes. What unfolds is beyond anything she could have imagined.

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6. Finish It May

My brain has been occupied with many, many things.  I have found it hard to focus on much of anything so my reading has fallen by the wayside.  I have a lot of books that I have started but not finished so my goal for May is to finish books I have started.  Here are four that I need to finish in May.  I would like to go into summer with a clean slate because I have a lot of books I want to read this summer!

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7. Children’s Literary Salon: The Art of Enthusiasm

We’re just hitting it out of the park now.  Fast on the heels of our last Salon with Jeanne Birdsall and N.D. Wilson (info below), this coming Saturday I managed to bring together the three kings of children’s book social media.  Behold!

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 10.09.33 PM

If you’d like to watch the discussion live, tune in 2:00 CST here.  And if you live in the area, you simply have to come.  Never before have these three been interviewed at the same time by . . . uh . . me.  Or possibly anyone else (note to self: check if this is true).

Curious about Travis Jonker’s picture, by the way?  As I recall it was made for him by video and film director Michel Gondry.  You can read Travis’s piece about it here.  John’s is by Dan Santat.  I’m going to need to ask Colby who did his.

By the way, did you miss our last Salon last Saturday when Jeanne Birdsall and N.D. Wilson spoke on the topic of how their personal belief systems inform their writing?  Good news!  Not only did I record the, quite frankly, killer talk but the sound quality was a lot better than last time.  Here’s the timeline of the video:

  • At 0:00 Nate is running a bit late but since it was a live feed I wanted to keep folks watching in the loop.
  • At 2:36 Jeanne Birdsall and I have a finger puppet show as we wait for Nate to show up.  I have flashbacks to my sock puppet interview from 8 years ago.
  • At 3:30 the talk begins.
  • And at 12:45 I tilt the screen back a bit so that it doesn’t look like our heads are all scraping the ceiling.

Enjoy!

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8. Eat Fat, Get Thin

Eat Fat, Get Thin. Why The Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health. Mark Hyman. Little, Brown. 400 pages. [Source: Library]

I almost wish that Eat Fat, Get Thin had been divided into two books. One book presenting the historical overview, the scientific research, and the essential philosophy behind the concept of eating fat to lose weight. The other book presenting his 21 day weight-loss plan. The first book which I imagine consisting of Part I and Part II (How Did We Get Into This Big, Fat Mess? and Separating Fat From Fiction), I would have given three stars. The second book which I imagine consisting of Part III and Part IV (The Eat Fat, Get Thin Plan and Eat Fat, Get Thin Cooking and Recipes), I would have given one star--or perhaps two--if I'm generous.

The premise of this one is simple. Fat has been demonized. It has been made the 'bad guy' by scientists, doctors, nutritionists, the government, the media, the food industry. But, Hyman argues, fat isn't all bad. Not all "fat" is created equal. Good fat far from being the 'bad guy' is the hero. Good fat is the hero we need as a country to rescue us from the obesity crisis. (So what is good fat? Think avocados, almonds, walnuts, olive oil, coconut oil, flax and chia seeds, olives, grass-fed beef, etc.) Diets high in good fat will help you lose weight, but, there is a catch. You have to give up eating a diet high in carbs and sugars. And you can never go back. Of course, I can't imagine *wanting* to go back. But still. That's one of those things you should know before spending time with this book.

The opening chapters are very readable. I think his writing becomes more complicated and complex in the second part. He returns to being readable in the third part, but, unfortunately he's switched from being an authentic-sounding doctor, to being an infomercial salesman.

I felt each page was saturated in a sales pitch. And also that there was a lot of 'product placement' going on as well. With every turn of the page, I heard a loud ka-ching, ka-ching. For example, buy this $70 spoonk acupressure mat; buy these $200 sheets that "ground" you to the earth's energy; buy these $50 light bulbs, etc. And that's not even mentioning the hundreds of dollars per month you'd be spending to buy all his "must-have" supplements. (Only PGX Fiber will do.) And then there's the cost of food. If he got paid a penny for every time he tells you to only buy organic, he'd be very, very rich. And he urges you to only buy organic, grass-fed, free-range, super-special meat. (You know, the stuff that costs you--at the very, very least $7 a pound but closer to $10 a pound.) Since his "diet" has you eliminating all beans and legumes--a cheaper source of protein to be sure--your only other option is organic, free-range, omega-enriched eggs. And these aren't as "cheap" as regular eggs.

I agree that it is best for your health, for your weight to give up refined/processed foods high in carbs, high in sugar, high in preservatives and additives. I agree that good fat is great for you. And if you can afford to strictly follow his plan down to every, single little detail, then perhaps you really will lose weight--a good amount of weight even...


But the book is new. Even if his 1000 participant trial run was on his plan a year ago, I don't think there's enough "evidence" that his plan is guaranteed to lead to "sustained weight loss." It simply hasn't been long enough to see if anyone who uses his 21-day plan is able to keep the weight off for five years or more! (Which is what 'sustained' weight loss is all about. 95% of the weight lost on "diets" and "plans" is not sustainable.) It would be interesting to see how 'successful' the plan is five years from now. (Though I have a small feeling that if participants gained the weight back, it would be seen as being their own fault for not following the plan 'well' enough.)

So what else should you know?

  • That the 21 day plan is the minimum, that, "the plan" is for however long it takes you to lose the weight you want to lose, need to lose. So your "21-day plan" might last a year or more.
  • While on the 21 day plan, the restricted food list is very, very, very long.
  • No processed food, no exceptions.
  • No dairy.
  • No alcohol.
  • Maximum of 2 cups per day--tea or coffee--unsweetened. He recommends adding coconut oil to coffee for your breakfast.
  • No (refined) vegetable oils. (Think: canola, corn, soy, sunflower, etc.)
  • No grains, no exceptions. (I could totally see why giving up gluten would be advisable. But this includes healthy grains like quinoa, steel-cut oats, brown rice.)
  • No beans, no exceptions.
  • Nothing sweet (not just sugar, not just high fructose corn syrup, but all artificial sweeteners (including stevia) and all natural sweeteners (agave, honey, maple syrup).
  • Also you're only allowed small allotments of fruit (half a cup per day). But *only* lemons, limes, kiwi, and watermelon. I may have forgotten the whole list. But it did not include peaches, pears, apples, grapes, strawberries, bananas, oranges, cherries, plums, pineapples, you know, the things you think of when you think FRUIT.
  • Small portions of "starchy" veggies (1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time, but, only 4 times a week) This includes beets, celeriac, parsnips, pumpkin, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash.
  • When you're ready to go off 'the diet plan' he has you transition to a "Pegan" diet that is a combination Paleo and Vegan. Some things are permanently gone forever and ever from your diet. Other things get added back into your diet in small increments, small portions, occasionally. You can add some dairy back in, for example, "locally sourced cheese from grass-fed, heirloom cows."
Quotes:
  • Dietary fat speeds up your metabolism, reduces your hunger, and stimulates fat burning. (16)
  • Dietary fat helps you reduce your overall calorie intake, not increase it. (17)
  • Dietary fat, and saturated fat specifically, does not cause heart disease. (17)
  • Dietary saturated fat raises the good kind of LDL and raises HDL (the "good cholesterol"). (17)
  • Dietary fat improves brain function and mood and helps prevent dementia. (17)
  • Food is not just a source of energy or calories. Food is information. It contains instructions that affect every biological function of your body. It is the stuff that controls everything. Food affects the expression of your genes and influences your hormones, brain chemistry, immune system, gut flora, and metabolism at every level. It works fast, in real time with every bite. This is the groundbreaking science of nutrigenomics. (56)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins. P.L. Travers. Illustrated by Mary Shepard. 1934/2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

If you want to find Cherry-Tree Lane all you have to do is ask the Policeman at the cross-roads. He will push his helmet slightly to one side, scratch his head thoughtfully, and then he will point his huge white-gloved finger and say: "First to your right, second to your left, sharp right again, and you're there. Good-morning."

Premise/plot: The Banks family is in need of a nanny. The children's idea of a 'perfect' nanny is far different from their parents idea. Mary Poppins is the practically-perfect nanny that transforms a family though this transformation is not overnight and without struggle. Each chapter is an adventure of sorts.




My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. It wasn't the first time I read it. I've reread it a few times even. Some chapters I love and adore. Other chapters I merely like. But if you haven't read it, I think it's one you should consider reading! It is really different from the movie and live musical.
 
My favorite song from the live musical is Practically Perfect.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Engaging with Preschool Writers

Last week, I encouraged a group of preschoolers to write books about their experiences. It went better than I expected.

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11. Exploratory Notebooks

Beginning to think about Exploratory Notebooks and easing into a research writing unit.

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12. The Rabbit Hole or “It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can’t suck.”

Rabbit Hole 2This is big. Maybe the biggest idea in the realm of children’s literature I’ve seen in years.  Possibly my entire career.  I don’t like using the term “gamechanger” but I can’t think of a better word in this particular case.

Okay.  So imagine, if you will, a new children’s book museum.  But where that term would usually invoke images of adult-centric locations, The Rabbit Hole is going to be immersive.  They’re bandying about the term “Explorastorium” which gets you a bit closer to what they’re doing.  Think of a children’s museum or an exploratorium, but instead of water tables and those blue bendy foam construction pieces you have kids bouncing in and out of their favorite books.  Imagine you literally walk into what appears to be scenes from the book itself.  You might have seen similar ideas done when museums do exhibits on famous authors of the past.  When NYPL did its “The ABC of It” exhibit you found yourself in The Great Green Room of Goodnight Moon.  And when there was a William Steig exhibit at the Jewish Museum of New York, you walked into a room where everything looked like it had been drawn by his hand.

But think bigger than that.

To get the full flavor, you need to sit down and read this article from The Kansas City Star: Rabbit Hole aims to make KC world capital of children’s books, top U.S. publishers sign on. From it you’ll get an inkling of what this space will be (watch the video there as well).  Otherwise how else are you going to hear about how this fall the folks behind the project are going to transform a city bus into the bus from “Last Stop on Market Street.”

Rabbit Hole 1An ambitious project set for the fall is the so-called Mobile Storybook. In cooperation with the KCATA, The Rabbit Hole crew would transform a city bus into the bus from “Last Stop on Market Street,” a 2015 Newbery and Caldecott winner by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. The unveiling would coincide with the national conference of the Urban Libraries Council, giving The Rabbit Hole more exposure. The story would unfold along the route with digital animations on LED window glass, audio landscapes, and sculptures of characters inside the bus. As riders board the bus, they can pick up copies of the book to read along. They can also “check out” the books and return them at any public library. Cowdin hopes the magic bus will run on both a regular route and customized tours.

And I thought the Crossover float in Evanston’s 4th of July parade last year was impressive.  Sheesh!

Rabbit Hole 3Even as I read about the hopes and dreams going into this campaign (“permanent features such as, perhaps, a giant version of Mike Mulligan’s steam shovel, Mary Anne, rising out of a hole, or the forest from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ where children can swing on branches with Max”) I am filled with an odd mixture of complete joy and incredible seething envy and jealousy.  It’s a good kind of seething envy and jealousy.  The kind where you suddenly want to be a part of this project so badly that you’ll do anything to make that happen.  Including giving money.

To make this space happen, an Indiegogo campaign is in the works.  Go to their site and you’ll see video after video after video about this space.  The one with the authors (Jon Scieszka, Brian Selznick, Kate DiCamillo, and more!) is particularly good.

Additionally, in this fundraiser you can purchase lots of fun things donated by many writers and illustrators, though any donation would be appreciated.

Guys, I don’t give money to anything.  But I’m going to give to this.  And I don’t usually tell you to give your hard earned cash to anything, but I think that this is important.

For more information, check out this interview Pete conducted with The Groove Juice Special Radio Hour For Children & Other Brave Souls.

Also be sure to check out the YouTube channel for The Rabbit Hole.  Great stuff there.

Rabbit Hole Map

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13. Manifesto for May

  • I will read what I want to read when I want to read it regardless of length. 
  • I will not allow the "need" to have a certain number of reviews to post keep me from reading the long books that I love and adore.
  • I will let myself abandon books that I'm not liking even if--maybe even especially if--they are review copies. (Why do I feel the need to keep reading?!?!)
  • I will be sensible at the library and not bring home twenty new books each weekend. I will try.
  • I will not automatically renew everything that is on my library card. I will be sensible and try to return the items I'm not going to be reading within two weeks.
  • I will make time for people and be thankful to be in the moment.
  • I will prioritize sleep over reading and blogging. Or try to at least.
  • I will create more top ten lists for the blog.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Misadventures of Grumpy Cat

The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat and Pokey, vol. 1 Ben McCool, Royal McGraw, Elliott Serrano, Ben Fisher, Steve Uy. 2016. Dynamite Entertainment. 104 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I didn't enjoy reading The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat (and Pokey!), at least not as much as I was expecting to--wanting to. I hoped my love of Grumpy Cat would outweigh my dislike of comic books. That wasn't the case at all. The portrayal of Grumpy Cat didn't really live up to my expectations either. More often than not, my reaction to a comic was: so what?

I wasn't expecting the weirdness in the collection: a couple of ghost stories, a time travel story, an alien encounter, and one about ancient Egyptian mummies.

Treasure Map--Grumpy Cat exerts a lot of energy in this one to set up Pokey for a trick: she buries a treasure map, pretends to be disinterested, refuses to cooperates, reluctantly agrees, dresses up as a ghost or two, etc. A "real" ghost ends this strip. I was less than enthused by this first comic.

Grumpy in HD--Grumpy gets Pokey and a dog into trouble with the humans in this one. It is about the remote control and how to "make" it work. It felt shorter and less annoying--which is a good thing.

Super-Pokey & Grumpy Cat in Paws of Justice--Pokey convinces Grumpy Cat to be his sidekick. Pokey having been inspired by watching superheroes on tv. There are costumes and everything. Can this duo prove heroic in the local neighborhood. This one is a bit over-the-top in a purely silly way. If I had to pick a favorite to like, it, might accidentally be this one.

Grumpy Cat Goes to Comic-Con--just one page, and, definitely one of the 'so what????' strips.

Cell Phone--Grumpy Cat and Pokey get into some trouble with a cell phone. At first Grumpy Cat was don't *try* to answer the phone, leave it alone, it's nothing but trouble waiting to happen. Then, she changes her mind when the human on the other end of the phone starts talking about bringing treats.
It doesn't end well for the cats.

Vincent Van Grump--In an effort to become famous, Grumpy tries her hand at singing, writing, and painting. Perhaps one of the better ones in the collection. At least it isn't otherworldly.

Grumpy Birthday to You--Grumpy Cat is grumpy about her birthday.

Detective Cats--Grumpy Cat and Pokey become detectives to solve a case--a case about missing food or missing treats or something like that. It was okay.

A Grump in Time--weird from start to finish and not in a good-weird way or a funny-weird way. Just weird-weird as in--so what????

Close Encounters of the Grumpy Kind--Pokey and Grumpy meet aliens. At this point I was ready for the book to be done already.

I Know What You Did Last Summer...I Just Don't Care--Fortunately there was just one more story. Unfortunately it was Halloween-themed. This one features the haunted house (again) and an Egyptian mummy-cat.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Make Your Library Sizzle, Not Fizzle

Awhile ago, I was on Twitter and tweeted:


I usually put out about two tweets a day (unless you catch me in a Twitterchat) and that day, my phone was dinging with notifications.  Looks like this resonated not only with librarians but educators and administrators as well.  And so, it got me thinking....what are some other things that we, as librarians, could tweak just a little, to make a HUGE impact?  Here is my top five list of
habit-breakers for librarians.

1. Evaluate your signage.  Our signage is used to direct, help, and inform but most all, it's put up to capture the attention our the library users.  But is the attention they're getting positive or negative? Students see enough negative signs telling them not to do this, or don't do that.  Librarians shouldn't fall into that quagmire of "no"s and "nay"s.  We need to rise above it and create signage that makes people at the most, smile and at the least, pay attention without frowning.  With space being a premium in libraries, use it to make our students and users want to obey the signs, not rally against them.

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Discover & Share this Reaction GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

2. Share and share...and keep sharing. It's difficult to admit the truth, but I'm going to do it...I'm a hoarder.  If I have one cute notepad, I have a hundred.  And I don't use them because they're too cute and I'll find something to do with it later.  Then five years from now, it'll still be there unused and perfectly archived.  That's okay with paper but it ISN'T okay with technology.  What happens if someone breaks it? What happens if it's never returned? This cost a lot of money.  Librarians can become Gollums with technology and over time, it's hard to keep up with all of my preciouses. And then the unthinkable happens - the precious becomes obsolete! So don't hold back on what we've purchased because innately, we purchased them to be used.  Have parameters, but along with that, have faith in your campus.

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3.  Look at the role you play.  What does the word librarian mean to you?  What does a librarian say or do?  If you were walking into a library, what would you like to see in a librarian?  Who are you describing?  If you see yourself in the description of a good librarian, that's good.  I have traits of a good librarian, but not every single one of them.  Oh,to please the masses!  So tweak what needs to be tweaked and flaunt what you got! And always know you're like (fill in the blank with all SORTS of similes that could work from wine to technology, to a new sweater et al!)...with time it just keeps getting better. 

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4. Focus on those other non-librarian things.  It's the small thing they don't teach in library school that could have tremendous impact.  Can anyone say feng shui?  Nothing feels as good as stepping into a library that's pleasant to be in. Be intentional in placement.  Be aware of smells (for real!!). Look at patterns and use them to your advantage. Everyone has a creative side!  Try something new, like convo bubbles in book displays or using tabletops for makerspaces (and sit at these for awhile and see what happens!).  Oh, I know there are those out there shaking their heads, thinking they don't have a creative side.  That's okay.  One word to cure that remedy:  Pinterest!

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5. Do something impactful with everything you do in the library. If you read, do so with a goal in mind of what you're going to do with all those great reads.  If you're online looking at sites, think about how you'll incorporate that into a lesson or with students.  Start creating curated lists of EVERYTHING to whip out when the time is right!  When you're making purchases consider the impact they will have on the library and the patrons you serve.  Don't just be a librarian, BE a librarian!  There is a difference.

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16. Library Loot: End of April

New Loot:
  • The Toymaker's Apprentice by Sherri L. Smith
  • Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains by Catriona McPherson
  • Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood
  • The Education of Ivy Blake by Ellen Airgood
  • The Runaway's Gold by Emilie Christie Burack
  • Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
  • The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
  • A Lion To Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
  • Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
  • The Pericles Commission by Gary Corby
  • Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
  • Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
  • Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen
  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Leftover Loot:

  • Peter Pan (Annotated Edition) Barrie
  • That's Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us by Erin Moore
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
  • Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss
  • The Three Year Swim Club by Julie Checkoway
  • Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell
  • Camille by Alexandre Dumas fils
  • I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Njood Ali
  • Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran by Shirin Ebadi
  • Proof by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones
  • Taking God At His Word by Kevin DeYoung 
              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

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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17. SOL Tuesday + a Donation Update

Last year we opened a Cafe Press store for people interested in buying some Slicer swag.  We received our commission from our store a couple of weeks ago and recently made another donation… Continue reading

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18. Announcing the Blog’s #TopTenContest

ALSC Blog Top Ten Contest

ALSC members are invited to submit their entries in the Top Ten Contest. Winners receive their choice of two prize categories! (Image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC members love lists! The ALSC Blog is holding a contest to find out which members have the best lists. And they don’t just have to be book lists. Keep in mind your audience: ALSC Blog readers are world travelers, children’s literature enthusiasts, pillars of knowledge, youth librarians, and community engagement specialists. Send us your top 10 and we’ll hold a vote for the top ten list of top ten lists!

Winners will be able to choose from two categories of prizes including individual 2016 Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet tickets. Participants must be personal members of ALSC. Lists must be submitted by Friday, May 13, 2016 at 5pm Eastern/4pm Central. Help us spread the contest by tweeting about is using the hashtag #toptencontest. For more information and rules, please see the Top Ten Contest tab.

The post Announcing the Blog’s #TopTenContest appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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19. Happy Monday! It's Children's Book Week

Just a reminder that it's Children's Book Week. #cbw16

There are plenty of resources available from the Children's Book Week Digital Toolkit.  I like to order the actual posters, but sadly, I forgot this year.  The good news is that there are plenty of last-minute event kits and activity sheets available for download [http://www.bookweekonline.com/activities].

Also, be sure to download this year's official CBW bookmark with art by Cece Bell. [http://www.bookweekonline.com/bookmark]
[http://bookweekonline.com//system/files/189/original/CeceBell2016BookmarkFINAL.compressed.pdf]


You can also add a Twibbon to your Twitter profile pic. (If you don't want it to completely obscure your profile pic, you will have an opportunity to shrink it.) [http://twibbon.com/Support/Children39s-Book-Week]

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20. Fans of "Unfortunate Events"! Your new Count Olaf!

Good Morning, Lemony Snicket Fans!


Hope you've had your breakfast.




Back in 2014, it was announced that Netflix would be adapting your favorite tales of woe into a television series. Years ago, the first three books were brought to the big screen with Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf. Since that time, many had expressed their displeasure with the movie. Not because it had an unhappy ending -- we expected that much -- but many felt that Carrey, though talented, missed the mark on what makes the Count so frightening. In short, Jim was just too goofy.




Jim Carrey as Count Olaf




Other complaints were with the film itself. The length. The tone. It just didn't feel right.


The news of a reboot was quite welcome. And then, it was announced that Neil Patrick Harris would be taking up the role of The Count. 
Can this face haunt our dreams?






Well, I was skeptical at first, until I caught some pictures of Harris on set? Look below, if you dare.  I believe he looks quite menacing!


Yes. Yes it can.








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21. Engaging with Preschool Writers

Last week, I encouraged a group of preschoolers to write books about their experiences. It went better than I expected.

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22. Wilder Times Ahead!

WilderBeverly Cleary                                           Ashley Bryan

Katherine Paterson                                  E.B. White

Donald Crews                                            Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton                                     Jerry Pinkney

What do all these talented people have in common?

They are just a few recipients of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award, presented  to “an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” First given in 1954 to Laura Ingalls Wilder, the award was originally presented every five years and has evolved; it is now given annually.

What author or illustrator do you think has made their mark on American children’s literature?  The 2017 Wilder Committee is seeking your suggestions of  authors and illustrators to be considered for next year’s award. Has your favorite author been recognized already? Check out the entire list of previous Wilder medal recipients. If not, let us know who you are thinking of and why!

So what exactly does “substantial and lasting contribution” mean? According to the criteria, these books “occupy an important place in literature for American children and that over the years children have read the books and that the books continue to be requested and read by children.”  If you are detail-oriented or historically minded, you might enjoy exploring the definitions and criteria behind the awards.  In reviewing these specifications, I can see the well-thought out process behind the awards, and it makes me appreciate the procedures that have been developed. Interestingly, the Wilder Award can be awarded posthumously, and regardless of a person’s place of residence.

Please submit your suggestions via the form at http://www.ala.org/alsc/wilder-medal-suggestion-form. Note: The page can only be accessed by ALSC members—so you must be logged into the ALA website to view the form.

Please share your ideas with us!

Happy reading,

Robin L.  Gibson, 2017 Wilder Award Committee member, Westerville Public Library, Westerville, Ohio

The post Wilder Times Ahead! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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23. 2016 ALSC Election Results

Many thanks to all of the candidates who ran for division office this year. We appreciate their willingness to put their names forward for the division. Here are the results from the 2016 ALSC elections:

Vice President/President-Elect

Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, Oakland, CA

Board of Directors

Karen MacPherson, Takoma Park Maryland Library, Takoma Park, MD

New to ALSC Board of Directors

Amy Koester, Skokie Public Library, Skokie, IL

Fiscal Officer

Paula Holmes, Upper St. Clair Library Board, Upper St Clair, PA

Newbery 2018 Committee

Angie Manfredi, Los Alamos County Library System, Los Alamos, NM
Sujei Lugo, Boston Public Library, Jamaica Plain, MA
Thaddeus Andracki, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago, IL
Janice Del Negro, Dominican University GSLIS, River Forest, IL
Catharine Potter, Falmouth Elementary School, Falmouth, ME
Carol Goldman, Queens Library, Forest Hills, NY
Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA
Susan Giffard, Ethical Culture School, New York, NY

Caldecott 2018 Committee

Sylvia Vardell, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX
Dean Schneider, Ensworth School, Nashville, TN
Katie Salo, Melrose Park, IL Jeanne McDermott, Amagansett Free Library, Amagansett, NY
Naphtali Faris, Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, MO
Michelle Young, Lihue Public Library, Lihue, HI
Sarah Hinkle, West Linn Public Library, West Linn, OR
Heather McNeil, Deschutes Public Library, Bend, OR

Sibert 2018 Committee

Madeline Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA
Mary Michell, Skokie Public Library, Skokie, IL
Debra Marshall, Wilson Elementary School, Coppell, TX
Adrienne Gillespie, Stoller Middle School, Portland, OR
Danielle Forest, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS

Wilder 2018 Committee

Viki Ash, San Antonio Public Library, San Antonio, TX
Susan Faust, Katherine Burke School, San Francisco, CA
Merri Lindgren, Cooperative Children’s Book Center / Univ of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI

Visit the ALA 2016 Election page.

The post 2016 ALSC Election Results appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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24. The Children's Homer

The Children's Homer. Padraic Colum. 1918/1982. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]

I really enjoyed reading Padraic Colum's The Children's Homer, a retelling--originally published in 1918--of the Iliad and the Odyssey. You should know from the start that it is a prose retelling.

The story opens by introducing readers to Telemachus, the now grown son of Odysseus. When Telemachus was just a baby--just a month old--his father went off to war, to fight in the Trojan War. The war took ten long, agonizing years. But it's been over for just as many--ten long years. Telemachus and his mother, Penelope, need to know: Is Odysseus dead or alive? If he's alive, where is he? Why hasn't he come home yet? They are not the only one curious. Plenty of men want to know too. But. They're hoping that Odysseus is dead and not alive. Why?! They want a chance at Penelope. They've come to "woo" her. That and to eat and drink a lot at the estate's expense. Telemachus wants it to stop. It angers him to see so many men about the place anxiously trying to become Penelope's new husband. So what can he do about it?

For one, he can set out on a quest of his own to see if he can find traces of his father's story. Because Telemachus has at least one or two gods or goddesses on his side, he is somewhat mostly successful. He hears ALL about the Trojan war. Not just about his father, but, about many men--many soldiers. Including Achilles and Hector and Paris. He also learns that his father survived the war and is trying to come back home.

The second half of the book is about Odysseus' journey back home and how he handled or resolved the situation with all those men chasing after his wife. It is mainly if not exclusively from Odysseus' point of view. Readers see a couple of happy reunions along the way.

Plenty of action and adventure happens in both sections as the war and its aftermath is recounted. It is an interesting read. Parts of it felt very familiar to me. Overall, it was just a pleasant, enjoyable read.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Book Review: On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Title: On the Edge of Gone
Author: Corinne Duyvis
Published: 2016
Source: NetGalley

Summary: On the eve of the apocalypse, Denise and her mom scramble to get to a shelter that will protect them (maybe) from the comet heading their way. Somehow, they luck onto a spaceship that plans to head for the stars. But can they keep their place?

First Impressions: Ahh this was good. Denise felt so real.

Later On: Like Duyvis's first book, Otherbound, this should have felt overstuffed, if we subscribe to publishing's prevailing mindset about intersectionality. A black autistic main character? With a trans sister? And a mother suffering from mental illness and addiction? (Not to mention it all takes place in the Netherlands, with Dutch characters.) But it works, oh how it works, and the reason it works is because these are details about their characters, not the plot. This is diversity in character building done right.

The focus is on Denise's struggle to carve out a place for herself and her family on the generation ship. Sometimes the reason it's a struggle is because of familiar autism characteristics, such as difficulties with social cues, hyper-focus on specific things, and sensory overstimulation, and how all these are ramped up by stress. However, it's also a struggle because of the shipboard bureaucracy, her mother's issues, worry over her sister, and oh yes. The world is ending. Denise's autism neither causes nor stands apart from any of that.

And finally, at the end, Denise finds her own place. She's not given it, she's not wedged in. She does things that are a challenge for her, she succeeds because of her own talents, and she earns her spot.

More: Waking Brain Cells
Disability in Kidlit

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