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Results 26 - 50 of 70,679
26. Color for Baby: Four board books for baby featuring more than forty famous works by contemporary artists, Curated by Yana Peel

I'm not sure how much parents are thinking about cultural literacy when they are purchasing board books for toddlers. If this is something that matters to you or if you appreciate contemporary art, then you will seek out Color for Baby: Four board books for baby featuring more than forty famous works by contemporary artists, Curated by Yana Peel. If not, and you are fortunate enough to be

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27. The Cybils Judges - Including Me!

YOU GUYS.

I'm pleased as heck to share the news that I've been picked to be a Round 1 judge for the Cybils in the YA Speculative Fiction category.

What does that mean, exactly?

It means that from the beginning of the nomination period on October 1st, through the selections of the finalists that go live on New Year's Day, I'll be reading YA  fantasy and sci fi until my eyeballs fall out. I'll be stalking my library catalog, I'll be hunting down books at the store, I'll be stalking the ebook sales. 

But Bibliovore, I hear you say. Isn't that what you do anyway?

Yes, but I get to discuss and debate them with my fellow Round 1 judges! Honestly, that's why I love doing this. You can take the girl out of the English courses, but you can't take the English courses out of the girl. Right around Christmas, we'll be picking 5-7 finalists that will be sent on to Round 2. And then we'll all collapse in a heap and wait, oh, maybe about two hours before going to find another book to read.

These fellow judges are:

Sheila Ruth
Wands and Worlds
@sheilaruth

Karen Jensen
Teen Librarian’s Toolbox
@tlt16

Kim Baccellia
Kim Baccellia
@ixtumea

Allie Jones
In Bed With Books
@wearedevilcow

Kathy Burnette
The Brain Lair
@thebrainlair

Kimberly Francisco
Stacked Books
@kimberlymarief

I look forward to working with you! Congratulations to all the judges in all the categories and both rounds.

Pull together your nominations right now, folks, because I expect to have some awesome books to read come October! And since each book can only be nominated once, grab some backups, just to make sure that your favorites all get their day in front of a judge's eyeballs.

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28. I'm My Own Dog - I love it!

Stein, David Ezra. 2014. I'm My Own Dog. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.


I've got a few deadlines to meet so this will be short, but I couldn't let another day go by without shouting out to the virtual world, "I love this book!"

Funny, inventive, clever and touching, this book will work its way into your heart even as it has you laughing out loud.

This is no ordinary dog.  No one owns him, no sir!

Every morning when I look
in the mirror, I lick my own
face because I am so happy
to see me.
I say, "GOOD DOG.
I AM A GOOD DOG."
You'll think so, too!

Don't just take my word for it.  See more great reviews at

From the end papers,
The illustrations' line work was created using pen as well as a kids' marker hacked to dispense India Ink; it was then photocopied onto watercolor paper.  The painting was done in liquid watercolor, with a hint of crayon on the dog's muzzle.
Ingeniously childish - a perfect presentation of a delightfully independent dog with a soft spot as big as his heart.

Click here to see an inside spread from I'm My Own Dog.

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29. Hug a Book

In celebration of Scott Campbell's adorable new
 picture book, Hug Machine, publisher Simon & Schuster declared last week "Hug a Book" week.  Your children's librarians got in on the fun and we all hugged our favorite books.  Take a look:

http://catalog.syossetlibrary.org/search?/thow+do+dinosaurs/thow+do+dinosaurs/1%2C14%2C17%2CB/frameset&FF=thow+do+dinosaurs+say+i+love+you&1%2C1%2C

http://catalog.syossetlibrary.org/search/?searchtype=t&searcharg=llama+llama+red&sortdropdown=-&SORT=D&extended=0&SUBMIT=Search&searchlimits=&searchorigarg=tharry+potter+and+the+deathly

http://catalog.syossetlibrary.org/search?/twonder/twonder/1%2C166%2C226%2CB/frameset&FF=twonder&3%2C%2C7/indexsort=-

http://catalog.syossetlibrary.org/search?/tharry+potter+and+the+deathly/tharry+potter+and+the+deathly/1%2C5%2C18%2CB/frameset&FF=tharry+potter+and+the+deathly+hallows&2%2C%2C10/indexsort=-


http://catalog.syossetlibrary.org/search?/tharry+the+dirty+dog/tharry+the+dirty+dog/1%2C1%2C2%2CB/frameset&FF=tharry+the+dirty+dog&1%2C%2C2/indexsort=-

http://catalog.syossetlibrary.org/search?/tcity+of+ember/tcity+of+ember/1%2C2%2C7%2CB/frameset&FF=tcity+of+ember&1%2C%2C6/indexsort=-


Be sure to check out "Hug Machine" during your next visit!

http://catalog.syossetlibrary.org/search/?searchtype=t&SORT=D&searcharg=hug+machine


Posted by Amy

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30. Strategic Planning: Member Survey Closes Tomorrow

As you’ve no doubt heard, YALSA is currently conducting a survey to get member input on the next strategic plan. If you want to share your opinions with the Strategic Planning Task Force and YALSA’s Board of Directors, now is the time! Tomorrow (Wednesday, September 17) is the last day to fill out the 2014 member survey.

We can’t develop a strong strategic plan without hearing from as much of our membership as possible. Help YALSA help you by completing the survey online today. If you’ve already filled it out, take a moment to remind your YALSA peers to follow your awesome example by sharing the link with your network via email or social media.

And don’t forget, if you choose, you can enter your email address at the end of the survey for a chance to win a free teens and technology training kit (a $199 value).

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

The YALSA Strategic Planning Task Force

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31. Live Blogging from the ALSC Institute #ALSC14

Last night, the biennial ALSC Institute kicked off in Oakland, California with a Happy Hour. Today, the Institute will really begin and attendees will be treated to an amazing assortment of programming focusing on youth services; presentations by an incredible line-up of authors including Jamie Campbell Naidoo, Tim Federle, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Rita Williams-Garcia, Gene Luen Yang, Steve Sheinkin, Mac Barnett, Daniel Handler, Jennifer Holm, & Andrea Davis Pinkney; and many, many, many networking activities.

For the next few days, we will not have our regular, daily posts on this blog. Instead, we will have multiple shorter posts each day. To make it easier for everyone to follow the excitement on Twitter, each post will include the hashtag #ALSC14.

A HUGE “Thank You” to the seven bloggers who have committed to writing short “micro-posts” throughout this Institute so ALSC blog readers can have a feel for what is happening in Oakland:

    • Dan Bostrom
    • Erin WarzalaInstitute Badge 2014
    • Gesse Stark-Smith
    • Jill Hutchison
    • Karen Choy
    • Nicole Martin
    • Renee Grassi

We hope you enjoy these snippets of Institute attendance over the next few days. We’d love to know what interests you about the ALSC Institute. What do you hope the live bloggers snap a picture of or write a quick post about? Let us know in the comments below.

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32. My Thoughts: The Swap by Megan Shull


5 warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  Simple yet eye catching.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I was first made aware of this book thought Edelweiss, where HarperCollins had it up for review.  I downloaded it then, but it took me until almost the expiration to get around to reading it.  Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
“YOU BE ME...AND I'LL BE YOU.”

ELLIE spent the summer before seventh grade getting dropped by her best friend since forever. JACK spent it training in “The Cage” with his tough-as-nails brothers and hard-to-please dad. By the time middle school starts, they’re both ready for a change. And just as Jack’s thinking girls have it so easy, Ellie’s wishing she could be anyone but herself.

Then, BAM! They swap lives—and bodies!

Now Jack’s fending off mean girls at sleepover parties while Ellie’s reigning as the Prince of Thatcher Middle School. As their crazy weekend races on—and their feelings for each other grow—Ellie and Jack begin to realize that maybe the best way to learn how to be yourself is to spend a little time being someone else.
Romance?: Nope. But lots of talk of middle school type crushes.

My Thoughts:
When I first met both Ellie and Jack I thought there was no way this was going to work.  They were WAY too different.  There was a moment where I didn't know it I liked Ellie and really didn't like Jack's dad, but I wanted to see how the author would make the switch work, so I kept reading.  So glad I did!  The author handles it well and both characters are better versions of themselves and each other when they inhabit the others body.

Ellie starts out the book as a very typical, insecure middle school girl who is being dumped by her best friend who prefers to be a mean girl.  Ellie is also the target of much of the meanness and it has really knocked her for a loop.  She is short with her mother and only wants to desperately hold onto this friendship with a really horrible person.  She can't see any of the positives in her life and is even thinking of giving up soccer--something she is good at and loves to play--to avoid her ex-best friend.  She made my heart ache for every middle school girl who has these types of issues!

Jack is a very typical middle school boy.  He is darling, athletic and has a good group of friends.  He is also very shy and no good around girls, even though every girl at school has him at the top of their list.  His nickname, given to him by all the girls, is The Prince.  He also has four older brothers and an ex-military dad who the call The Captain, whose expectations for Jack and his brothers are so incredibly high that he has forgotten how to just relax and show his boys he loves them.

Ellie's' mom is divorced and Jack's dad is a widow.  Although this is not a plot of the story, the whole time I kept hoping their parents would meet and fall in love.  But this truly is Ellie and Jack's story, not their parents. 

When the swap happens they both handle it very well.  I think that there is some relief about not having to live your own life for a few days, and what they learn about themselves and each other makes them so much better after they switch back.  I love how the author handles the switch and what each character goes through.  It's all done very well and even though this is light and ties up very neatly with a bow, I couldn't have liked it more.

To Sum Up:  Great story for middle schoolers about never assuming someone else has an easier life and about listening to others when they say good things about you!

eGalley downloaded from Edelweiss.  Thanks HarperCollins!

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33. Littleland Around the World by Marion Billet

As a bookseller and parent, I was always surprised by the lack of Look-and-Find books for kids who weren't quiet ready for the intensity of the Where's Waldo books. Which is why I was so excited when I discovered Marion Billet's Littleland last year! And now we have Littleland: Around the World to add to the growing list of Look-and-Find books for toddlers. Billet's illustrations are bright

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34. #662 – Hatch, Little Egg by Édouard Manceau

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Hatch, Little Egg

Written & Illustrated by Édouard Manceau
Owlkids Books 9/15/2014
978-1-77147-077-3
Age 3 to 7 32 pages
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“The little bird is hatching! The little bird is hatching!

“Animals gather. Cameras Flash. The excitement builds. Is it happening? How much longer? Will the little bird live up to the crowd’s expectations? Get ready to find out! One . . . two . . . three . . . “

Opening

A reindeer, with a camera slung over his shoulder, rides his motorcycle. Where is he going? I have no idea. “Hey, Jack! Are you going to see the little bird hatch?”

Review

A flat tire has Jack stopped on the side of the road. Reindeer gives Jack a lift. As they travel, the road becomes congested with cars, bikes, and campers. Everyone is excited. Little bird will be hatching soon. With cameras in hand, the visitors walk toward the egg. Even a few bees have flown in for the occasion. I was hoping a couple of the bees would have a teeny-tiny camera. Actually, all the cameras are real, not an iPhone in sight. At the egg, a mouse raises her purse. She wears a black almost square hat and appears to be in charge of the gathering, or maybe she was just the first to arrive. The light-orange egg waits, sitting upright, unaware of the happenings around it.

“Ooooh! Here we go!”
“Hatch little egg!”
“Get ready! One, two, three . . . “

The egg cracks. The crowd’s excitement grows. Eyes widen in anticipation. The top of the egg pops off and the little bird is free. No one takes a picture. No one smiles. Everyone looks surprised, yet no one looks happy. Only the mouse has her arms stretch out as if to say, “Tada!” Someone else says,

“What on earth”

Everyone looks confused. Still, not one flash fills the area around the egg and it’s former tenant. He waves. Asks why no one wants to take his picture. No one moves. The mouse looks angry. One by one, the crowd disperses. They are disappointed, denied the show they came to see. The egg’s occupant is completely free and stands smiling as the crowds go home.  Why, what just happened? Something is wrong, or at least not right.

12-13_HatchLittleEgg

The illustrations in Hatch, Little Bird are wonderful. They are very similar to The Race (reviewed here). Bright eyes fill every car and bike. The enthusiasm is palatable. The happy crowd contains the reindeer, Jack (owl), birds, bears, and bees, the mouse, and at least one rhino. Really, it’s a zoo. Kids will love these animals and will understand both, what they came to see and why they leave disappointed.

The humorous twist is totally unexpected. Actually, I had no idea why this egg hatching was so important, at least to the crowd. There will be kids who will want to know how what came out of the egg, got into the egg. It’s a very good question. Slowly, turn the page. Pretty funny, I thought. Kids will think it is funny, too. They may not get the crowd-mentality, or even care, but they will get the twist, or the joke, if you will.

18-19_HatchLittleEgg

Kids will like Hatch, Little Bird and be able read it themselves after hearing the story once. They can go off and make up story after story about why they came, and what happened the day the egg hatched. Imaginations free to go wild or mild. This is one reason I like Mr. Manceau’s work. The other reason is the strange creatures he draws. Positioned against a white background, the creatures seem to pop off the page. Hatch, Little Bird is a goofy story with endless possibilities for your child’s imagination. A book they can read by themselves. Hatch, Little Bird, a French import, is a delightful picture book for young children. The multiple layers will tickle adults.

HATCH, LITTLE EGG. Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 Éditions Milan. Reproduced by permission of the US publisher, Owlkids Books, Berkeley, CA.
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Purchase Hatch, Little Bird at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryOwlkids Booksyour favorite local bookstore.
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Learn more about Hatch, Little Bird HERE
Meet the author/illustrator, Édouard Manceau, at his website:    http://edouardmanceau.blogspot.com/
Find more pictures books that delight at the Owlkids Books website:    http://www.owlkids.com/

Translated by Karen Li

Éditions Milan originally published Hatch, Little Bird in 2013, in France.
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Also by Édouard Manceau

Clic Clac

Clic Clac

Presto Change-O: A Book of Animal Magic

Presto Change-O: A Book of Animal Magic

My Little Library

My Little Library

The Race

The Race

 

 

Reviewed HERE
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 LOOK!  coming in 2015

LOOK! coming in 2015

 

 

 

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hatch little egg
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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Éditions Milan, Édouard Manceau, children's book reviews, egg hatching, Hatch, Karen Li, Little Egg, Owlkids Books, picture book, young children

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35. Review: Falling Into Place

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang. Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. 2014. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Liz Emerson, a high school junior, has crashed her car into a tree.

She planned it, oh so carefully, to look like an accident.

It wasn't.

Now, as she lies in the hospital, hovering between life and death, Falling Into Place examines just what led her to that fateful moment.

The Good: Falling Into Place has some seriously beautiful writing. I dog-eared (yes, dog-eared, don't tell) so many pages to mark passages where the language knocked me off my feet.

"But that afternoon, in the abandoned field by the elementary school, Liz pretended that they were. In love. She lied to herself. Her world was almost beautiful. She didn't care that it was false."

"Had the world always been like this? Why had it seemed so much kinder when she was younger? Why had it ever seemed beautiful?"

In some ways, Falling Into Place is the mirror-image of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah explains her suicide by naming the people who hurt her, who let her down, her gave her no reason to live. Liz's story, also is a list of the reasons she gives herself for aiming her car at a tree... except her reasons are not things done to her. No, Liz's reasons are the things she did to others.

A small aside: if you don't like any spoilers, go no further. Because my conversation will be mainly about the characters and who they are, and aren't, and for some that may be too much.

I'll be honest: Liz is a difficult person to feel sympathy for. Or, at least, it was difficult for me to feel any sympathy for her. I began liking her, the way you would any character, but as the way Liz treated others piled up, action upon action, I just -- couldn't. I felt sorry for her mother, as her daughter's life hung in the balance, because that is a terrible situation to be in. But Liz herself.....

Liz is the type that hurts people because she can. Because she feels it's better to hurt others first, before they can hurt her. Because she has some own deep childhood wounds -- a father who dies tragically, a distant mother who cannot connect either emotionally or physically with her only child. She is, inside, a hurt and jealous child: "It made her remember that there had once been a time when she was in love with the sunshine and the wind and each brief flight. It was like watching the sky change colors, his playing. And then it made her jealous, because Liz Emerson was never at peace like that. Not really. Not anymore."

Liz both recognizes what she does and hates what she does yet cannot stop herself; she knows she does hateful things but does nothing to stop or make amends. She thinks she cannot fix what she does, so she doesn't even try. Instead, her solution is to end herself. "She looked around and saw all of the broken things in her wake, and then she looked inside herself and saw the spidering cracks from the weight of all the things she had done. She hated what she was and didn't know how to change, and half an hour before she drove her car off the road, she that despite all of that, she didn't have enough force to stop the world from turning. But she had enough to stop her own."

And... despite the glimpse into who Liz is, and seeing those who both love her and forgive her, despite not wanting her dead, I find I cannot feel much for Liz. I feel for those who she breaks: there's at least one suicide, plus a handful of teens whose lives get sidelined with pregnancy, drug use, failures. It's nice that we see at least one of her victims put aside Liz's actions and words, see her vulnerability, forgive her, and get on with his own life instead of letting Liz ruin his whole future -- but it wasn't a real balance. Not to me. And Liz herself had nothing to do with it. One of her good friends thinks, "she doesn't remember when she turned into such an awful human being" and the friend is thinking about herself, but it could be about Liz, and the thing is -- they are awful. And they feel bad about it, when it all comes crashing down....but where do they go after that?

These are the teens who I hope against hope that the real life teens I know never, ever encounter. And that if they do -- they are the type who don't care what the Lizs of the world think or do.

What is frustrating about Liz is the obvious: her world, the world she wants to escape, is her own creation. She sees a cruel world because of who she is; and that Liz has shaped her reality to be her is something she doesn't recognize. She doesn't see that she can stop it by changing how she sees the world: by looking, once more, for the beauty she saw as a child.

But what matters about Falling into Place is not what Liz learns or does not -- it's what the reader figures out. That the reader realizes, like one of Liz's targets, that just because someone like Liz is "never careful with her life or anyone else's, and in her disregard was a coldness, a deep cruelty, a willingness to destroy anyone, everyone", there is no reason to let Liz destroy everything: "he found that there were still beautiful things in the world, and nothing could ever change that." What the reader can also see, as Liz's full life comes into view, that Liz's world is also the sum of her own choices, her own times of going for cruelty and power instead of understanding and kindness.

What also matters about Falling into Place is the language. It's beautiful writing, that makes the ugliness more bearable -- much like Liz herself looks for beauty, yearns for it. I look for the beauty in Falling into Place. And I find it, in how the story was told. In how the pieces fall into place. And how, finally -- I do find, underneath it all, that I have sympathy for Liz, after all. In how she and her world spun so far out of her control that she felt like there was only one answer.



Other reviews: Scott Reads It; The Perpetual Page-Turner; Queen Ella Bee Reads.




Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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36. My Parents Open Carry

  • My Parents Open CarryWhat obligation do public or school libraries have to purchase materials that present a range of views on controversial subjects?
  • Must every controversy be treated the same way?
  • How do our personal biases affect our purchasing decisions?
  • Should libraries take the opinions of their patrons or the ethos of their communities into consideration when making these decisions?
  • If there are no materials that meet our selection criteria, should we add materials of poor quality simply to ensure that all viewpoints are available?
  • Should well-known titles on controversial topics be retained once better-written books are available?
  • Is there a difference between adding donated materials and spending taxpayers’ money to purchase them?

These are a few of the questions which occurred to me in response to the recent discussions about MY PARENTS OPEN CARRY by Brian Jeffs and Nathan Nephew (White Feather Press). The publisher kindly sent me a review copy of the book in response to my emailed request and it arrived yesterday, giving me time to examine it carefully and to share it with my coworkers.

Though formatted as a picture book, the character whose parents “open carry” is a 13-year-old girl named Brenna. And despite the title, she doesn’t narrate the text. As the authors indicate in their, “…note to home school teachers: This book is an excellent text to use as a starting point on the discussion of the 2nd Amendment,” which suggests that they are hoping to reach a market with a broad age-range.

I was hoping the book would be well-enough written that I would find it a plausible purchase for our collection, but my hopes have not come to fruition. The text is tedious, the conversations are repetitious and attempts at descriptive writing fail to convey information.

Here are some examples of the writing:

“One morning, Brenna was sleeping and dreaming dreams only a 13-year-old girl would dream.” (p. 1)

“All in all, Brenna had a great day with her mom and dad. She again realized how much they loved her and how lucky she was to have parents that open carry.” (p. 21)

And then there are the creepier moments: “To increase Brenna’s awareness, her dad often tries to sneak up on her to catch her off guard; it’s a game they play.” (p. 15)

In addition, the robotic figures depicted in the illustrations with their stiff postures and eerie, fixed smiles are rather discomfiting.

I confess that the level of paranoia Jeffs and Nephew express to justify their need to carry guns in plain sight whenever they go out in public disturbs me, but I won’t debate the Second Amendment here. Whatever our personal opinions on the matter may be, we librarians still must grapple with the sorts of questions I’ve framed above.

I feel honor-bound, however, to point out that Jeffs and Nephew espouse the consumption of canned spinach and this is a sentiment that any right-minded person would find abhorrent. Fresh spinach is delicious and frozen spinach is an acceptable substitute in recipes calling for cooked spinach, but canned spinach is an abomination. The only proper use for a can of spinach that I can think of would be to aim at it during target practice.

But spinach aside, if this book had received a starred review, would you add it to your collection?

Miriam Lang Budin, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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37. book review: Shieldwolf Dawning

title: Shieldwolf Dawning516+sRTYYpL._AA160_

author: Selena Nemorin

date: Astraea Press; 2014

main character: Samarra

Shieldwolf Dawning is the first in a new speculative fiction series by Selena Nemorin. Samarra and her brother, Cassian, have been moved to Gaia, a planet with a deteriorating natural environment and are being raised by the Sairfangs after the death of the children’s parents. Their step-parent’s wealth protects them from the pollution and scarcities and provides Cassian with the best education money can buy. Samarra is stuck at home cleaning and doing chores. As sexist as this situation seems, it has more to do with Cassian’s future position in life rather than the fact that he’s a male. Samarra despises her situation. She’s impetuous and curious. Given the opportunity to leave her situation, she talks her brother into escaping with her. And so begins their adventure.

The book rattled my attention the mention of ‘all-terrain aircraft’!  Written in third person, the author still confines herself to the limited perception of the main character. That annoys me! Use that voice to fully develop a story with multiple character’s perspectives and with rich settings or stick to first person. Cassian is poorly developed which is tragic given how important he becomes at the end of the book. Time sequences were unequal in length and there were too many detailed situations that were never developed.

Shieldwolf Dawning is unique in two ways. First, it gives us an adventurous female of color  with blue dreads who often saves herself in situations. Second, it’s steeped in philosophy. Where knowledge of the field could provide a stronger appreciation for the book, I had none. I suspect that most teens without this knowledge will be as frustrated as I was with Samarra and never really invest in the story. She repeatedly wanders into situations that end up with negative consequences. Maybetwo-thirds of the way into the book when I was really tired of her doing this over and over again and I began to think that these wanderings might have something to do with stages of intellectual or moral development and that these curiosities were purposeful in her growth. This seemed to make sense to me when Samarra reasoned about moral judgment, truth and honestly.

Sheildwolf Dawning is an ambitious book that doesn’t quite reach it’s potential.


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: fantasy

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38. App of the Week: Touch Van Gogh

Touch Van GoghName: Touch Van Gogh
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

Previously, Yours, Vincent has been featured as an App of the Week, but now the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has released another, equally impressive app devoted to Van Gogh’s work. Called Touch Van Gogh, this app gives users the ability to fully explore eight of Van Gogh’s famous pieces: The Cottage, View from Theo’s Apartment, The Bedroom, Seascape at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Garden of the Asylum, and Daubigny’s Garden.

For each of the images, users are encouraged to “touch” the image to learn more about it, whether this means rubbing the image to unearth more information about damage the painting had sustained, revealing side-by-side comparisons of the original color of the paint, viewing X-rays of other paintings hidden on the canvas, or even exploring the back of the canvas to see parts of the painting that are normally hidden away. In all instances, the images are gorgeous and offer the next best thing to a trip to Amsterdam to visit the paintings in person.

The app has been around for some time, even winning the 2014 Heritage In Motion Award, but recently the number of paintings included in the app was doubled, so even those who have already explored it will want to take another look. You can see the app in action in the video below:

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know. And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog’s App of the Week Archive.

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39. The Unwritten Fables

The Unwritten Vol. 9: The Unwritten Fables Mike Carey, Bill Willingham, Peter Gross, Mark Buckingham

I was so excited for the one. Tom Taylor is trying to fix Leviathan and ends up in the middle of the witches from the 13th floor of Fables (which is my favorite comic) But, in the end… ugh.

Basically, it’s an alternate Fables universe where Mr. Dark has won and the Fables are barely hanging on (most won’t survive.) This is how alternate it is--Snow White is married to Mr. Dark and they’re keeping Bigby prisoner (and Mr. Dark has conquered all of Earth and is moving on to other realms.)

As such, the witches summon the “greatest wizard who never was, but might be” and end up with Tom Taylor as a stand-in for Tommy.

Now it’s a great concept--Fables who know they’re fictional, but they’re real and living in our world intersecting with this story about the power of story and where the line between fiction and reality is, and where it blurs. And it kinda touches on it, but not nearly as much as it could have, or should have. Instead, it ends up being a dark AU piece of Fables story, in which they get Tommy, Sue, and Peter to help fight their battles. It’s a rather horrifying look* at what could have happened in Fables, and it’s so Fables-centric, I’m not really sure what’s the point of having it as an Unwritten story instead of a Fables one. The only thing it really does is end in such a dramatic fashion to set up the Unwritten reboot. Not sure what this does to all the stories and threads that we still have resolve. I kinda wonder if Carey and Gross wrote themselves into a corner and this was the only way to get out.

That said, this series has kept me guessing the entire time, so I’ll withhold final judgement until we see what happens with the reboot.(But at the moment, I'm rather discontented.)

*And given how dark Fables has been recently, that’s really saying something. ALSO, when announcing the upcoming end of Fables Willingham has said that what comes up in the Unwritten crossover has consequences and now I’m really scared.

Book Provided by... my local library

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40. “Vacation”

Hello everyone!

I hope everyone is enjoying the reviews here at Kid Lit Reviews. These are not your normal reviews. I try to make them humorous when the book calls for it and let you see a glimpse of my personality in the review, without taking from the book. I hope you enjoy these longer reviews as much as I enjoy writing them. I never thought I would write so much each day. There would be no reason to do this without all of you.

I will be away for a few days, possibly a week. I will try to continue posting reviews as usual. If you find the same review the next day, I apologize. I hope that never happens more than two days in a row.  I must take a few days off to undergo surgery on my hip. Not a big deal, the hip simply no longer likes me, so I am replacing it for one that does. It is not easy living with a hip that works against you. The socket will be unoccupied as of tomorrow morning, if anyone knows of a good, loyal hip that needs a permanent home. It will be ready in about 6 weeks. This new tenant must be infection free and plan to stay that way. With all of you good readers out there, I hope someone knows of a hip without a bone to pick.

I plan to return full-time as soon as possible. Until then, I hope you enjoy the reviews that do post. I will reply to each and every comment when I return. Until then, please talk amongst yourselves, behave online, and do return. I will miss you. Off I must go, but I will be back before you know it.

Until then, please take care,

me

x

x

x

Sue M.

 


Filed under: Children's Books

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41. book review: Shieldwolf Dawning

title: Shieldwolf Dawning516+sRTYYpL._AA160_

author: Selena Nemorin

date: Astraea Press; 2014

main character: Samarra

Shieldwolf Dawning is the first in a new speculative fiction series by Selena Nemorin. Samarra and her brother, Cassian, have been moved to Gaia, a planet with a deteriorating natural environment and are being raised by the Sairfangs after the death of the children’s parents. Their step-parent’s wealth protects them from the pollution and scarcities and provides Cassian with the best education money can buy. Samarra is stuck at home cleaning and doing chores. As sexist as this situation seems, it has more to do with Cassian’s future position in life rather than the fact that he’s a male. Samarra despises her situation. She’s impetuous and curious. Given the opportunity to leave her situation, she talks her brother into escaping with her. And so begins their adventure.

The book rattled my attention the mention of ‘all-terrain aircraft’!  Written in third person, the author still confines herself to the limited perception of the main character. That annoys me! Use that voice to fully develop a story with multiple character’s perspectives and with rich settings or stick to first person. Cassian is poorly developed which is tragic given how important he becomes at the end of the book. Time sequences were unequal in length and there were too many detailed situations that were never developed.

Shieldwolf Dawning is unique in two ways. First, it gives us an adventurous female of color  with blue dreads who often saves herself in situations. Second, it’s steeped in philosophy. Where knowledge of the field could provide a stronger appreciation for the book, I had none. I suspect that most teens without this knowledge will be as frustrated as I was with Samarra and never really invest in the story. She repeatedly wanders into situations that end up with negative consequences. Maybetwo-thirds of the way into the book when I was really tired of her doing this over and over again and I began to think that these wanderings might have something to do with stages of intellectual or moral development and that these curiosities were purposeful in her growth. This seemed to make sense to me when Samarra reasoned about moral judgment, truth and honestly.

Sheildwolf Dawning is an ambitious book that doesn’t quite reach it’s potential.


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: fantasy

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42. Top Five Lessons to Teach to Writing Partners of All Ages Right Now

Writing partners can be an important source of inspiration and support for your kids. It’s the rare kid who truly wants to work alone all the time. Writing requires an audience, someone to give… Continue reading

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43. Giant Vehicles by Rod Green, illustrated by Stephen Biesty

Giant Vehicles is the fantastic new book by Rod Green, illustrated by the master of cross-sections, Stephen Biesty. Eight enormous, real-life vehicles. From the Super Train to the Airbus A380 to the biggest helicopter, rocket, cruise ship, submarine, container ship and, of course, the massive dump truck on the cover, a Caterpillar 797F. Although this is a board book with flaps to

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44. Wednesdays in the Tower (2013)

Wednesdays in the Tower. Jessica Day George. 2013. Bloomsbury. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

Even though it has only been two years since I've read Tuesdays at the Castle, I remembered very little about the characters and the plot. So I was hoping that Wednesdays in the Tower would not prove too tricky or challenging. Within pages, I was hooked. I read this one cover to cover without putting it down even once. I do have to say that it has a great opening which worked in its favor: "There are a lot of things that can hatch out of an egg. A chicken, for example. Or a dragon. And when the egg in question is the size of a pumpkin, and almost as orange, not to mention burning hot, you know that you're far more likely to get a dragon than a chicken."

Princess Celie and her family live at Castle Glower. The castle is without a doubt one of the more interesting in literature. This castle has a mind of its own. It does what it wants, when it wants. Usually on Tuesday is when it decides to add rooms, or, perhaps take away rooms. It isn't always adding or subtracting. Sometimes it's rearranging. One thing is for certain, only a handful of people know their way around all the rooms in the Castle. And Princess Celie is trying her best to provide a map or atlas of the ever-changing castle.

As I said, usually the castle is full of surprises on Tuesday. However, it is a Wednesday when Celie discovers a new room, and not just the room, but an egg. The castle leads Celie to this room again and again, but only when she's alone. Anytime she tries to bring someone else, to show them what she's found, it's vanished.

Essentially Wednesdays in the Tower concerns Celie and what hatches from the egg. Also about the magic of the castle as well, trying to understand how the castle works and why it does what it does when it does. In other words, the history of the Castle in general and how it connects with what hatched from the egg.

I found this a quick and enjoyable read. I liked Celie. I liked her siblings and parents. I liked getting to know her friends. I probably would have appreciated them all a bit more if I remembered Tuesdays at the Castle. But. Sometimes it's good to know that a book can be read alone or out of sequence.

The ending. Did it leave me wanting more? Yes. Was that how it should have been? I think so. Not that I'm a fan of cliffhanger endings. But. When the opening of a book and the ending of a book leave you wanting more it can't be a bad thing. Of course, if I'd read this book when it first came out, I might have felt frustrated. But the sequel will be out soon.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

What is it about the alphabet that gives artists the license to get weird?  Historically, the alphabet book is one of the earliest American children’s book forms.  You know.  “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”  That kind of thing.  I’m certain someone has already written, or is in the process of writing, the full-blooded history of American abecedarian outings for the young, so I won’t delve into such matters to any great length.

Now every year we get some wacky alphabet titles in the mix.  The usual art books.  Coffee table picture books, if you will.  I’m used to seeing one of them, two max, in a given year.  So you’ll forgive me for being so surprised when I saw not one, not two, but a whopping FIVE esoteric picture books come out in 2014 to varying degrees of artsy fartsyness. They’re also rather hugely enjoyable in their own odd little ways.

With that in mind we’ll begin with the most accessible and work our way out from there.

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

OnceUponAlphabet E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

You may have heard me mention this Jeffers title in my recent Newbery/Caldecott prediction list for the fall.  The book creates one short story per letter of the alphabet, making it a devilishly clever creation.  Definitely falls into the older kid category of picture bookdom, but I’d argue that the stories and art are so much fun that it won’t have a hard time maintaining a child’s attention.

Take Away the A by Michaël Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

TakeAwayA E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

And you thought they couldn’t come up with an original concept for a picture book anymore?  Ha!  Check this puppy out.  In it the book goes through the alphabet, taking away a single letter from each word so as to produce a new one. The text reads:

“Without the A
the BEAST is BEST.

Without the B
the BRIDE goes for a RIDE.

Without the C
the CHAIR has HAIR.”

Back me up on this when I say no one’s ever done this before.  They haven’t, right?  Just brilliant.

Work: An Occupational Alphabet by Kellen Hatanaka

Work E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

Now we’re getting a little more design-y.  The book is ostensibly a listing of different jobs by letter (though, as my husband pointed out, just try and make a living as an “explorer” or “mountaineer” these days).  Hatanaka has this smooth digital style that’s easy on the eyes.  I did actually attempt this one with my three-year-old, thinking (for some reason) that the lure of the jobs would hold her attention.  It didn’t but that could just mean it’s for older children.  Certainly there are a lot of visual gags in here that will appeal primarily to them.

Alphabetics: An Aesthetically Awesome Alliterated Alphabet Anthology

by Patrick and Traci Concepcion, ill. Dawid Ryski

Alphabetics E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

And here we go.  Your first clue that kids may or may not be the primary audience for this book?  Well, it contains a zombie smoking a cigarette (recall the recent cigar brouhaha with The Scarecrow’s Wedding?), a “sultry seafaring sailor” by the name of Stella, and a “hellacious Harley hog”.  On the other hand it had an entry on “Gus the gregarious giant with geek-chic glasses” which definitely appeals to the Portlandia in me.  This is sort of an Urban Outfitters alphabet book.  Looks nice in a small studio apartment.  Children need not necessarily apply.

Alphabetabum: An Album of Rare Photographs and Medium Verses by Chris Raschka and Vladimir Radunsky

Alphabetabum E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative
(Not to be confused with the other Chris Raschka alphabet book Talk to Me About the Alphabet)

Apparently these photos are from Radunsky’s personal collection with Raschka providing three line verses per letter.  They primarily feature West European, white kids and Kirkus was down on the book because it found it too snarky.  Not a problem I particularly had, though again I question whether or not an actual child would want to have anything to do with this book.  Rather, I would hand this to teen fans of Edward Gorey that buy old photos in antique stores for fun (which is to say, myself circa age 15).

Any others I may have missed that are in the same vein?  Surely there’s another one out there sporting a 2014 publication date.  Surely.

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46. President’s Report – July and August 2014

Greetings YALSA members! I hope all your back to school activities have gone well, and that you’re enjoying busy libraries and packed programs. I’m sending along a combined July / August President’s report this time around, but will be back to monthly reports after this.
Activities:

  • Attended ALA inauguration brunch following Annual 2014 closing Session
  • Conducted board orientation session for new board members
  • Conducted Board Development conversation regarding activities and duties of board standing committees
  • Finished appointments to 2016 Printz, Edwards, and Non-fiction committees
  • With executive Director, identified YALSA members to serve as liaisons or representatives to ALA Committees and Affiliate groups.
  • With YALSA Board, nominated YALSA representative for IFLA

Outreach and Media:

  • Spoke with Booklist, Christian Science Monitor, and Forbes about YA literature and genre trends.
  • Presented Future of Library services for and with Teens to Suffolk Cooperative Library System administrators .

Thank yous:

  • Thanks to all the chairs, committee members, and board members who completed their terms on June 30th, 2014.
  • Thanks to all the members who attended the “Deciding” what’s next for YALSA” program at ALA Annual and provided feedback to help shape the next strategic plan.
  • An enormous thanks to Dollar General for funding the new Android Teen Book Finder app and additional literacy projects. See a video of the projects here.

Statistics:

  • At the end of July, YALSA membership was at 5,130, up 0.9% over July 2013.
  • In June, YALSA raised $7,306.50. In July, YALSA raised $180.

Upcoming events

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47. Sisters

Sisters Raina Telgemeier

Raina, her sister Amara, her brother Will, and her mother are road-tripping to Colorado (her dad has to work and will fly out and meet them there.) Of course, Raina’s siblings drive her crazy and if she didn’t have her Walkman to drown them out, she’d go insane. The story alternates between the car trip and what happened before (Raina wishing for a sister, she and her sister fighting, the arrival of her brother, life in general in their cramped 2-bedroom apartment.)

As always, I love Telgemeier’s art and storytelling. I think the frame of the road trip works well. It’s also interesting because this focuses exclusively on her family, and as such, gives a different, more complex picture than the glimpses we saw in Smile. The other thing I liked was, when Raina and Amara reached their inevitable detente, they didn’t immediately become BFF. They gained a bit of understanding, but you know their relationship still wasn’t perfect.

Hilariously, I read this one a bit out-of-order. When I got it, I flipped to the middle just to kinda flip through it and I started reading. And then I got to the end, having only read the second half of the book. Then I had to go and read it again, but this time starting at the beginning.

It’s not my favorite of Telgemeier’s (she’s going to have a hard time topping Smile in my heart) but it’s still a great read.


Book Provided by... my local library

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48. Sometimes things don’t work out…

As a result of my work with ALSC committee, Liaisons with National Orgs Serving Youth, I’d had high hopes that this year’s Dia Day celebrations would be well attended by Big Brothers Big Sisters “Bigs” and “Littles” across the country. I’d worked with my liaison at the org in the months and weeks leading up to Dia, our anticipation building, getting more and more excited as April wound slowly towards the end of the month.  I’d even anticipated writing a blog post for ALSC featuring happy photos of Bigs and Littles participating in joyful parties celebrating multicultural books.

Please note the absence of aforementioned photos in this blog post.

While it’s possible that some Bigs might have taken their Littles to a Dia Day event, it definitely didn’t happen on the scale I’d imagined possible.

Bummer.

So, why did I choose to write about the experience of working towards a partnership initiative that essentially flopped? Because I think it’s important for us to reflect when programs fail, when kids don’t show up, or when the perfect book you picked for storytime turns out to be a dud with the audience. Go ahead and be bummed out, but don’t dwell on it, and don’t let it discourage you from trying again. More importantly, try to figure out what went wrong, and what you might do differently in the future.

In trying to identify why this flopped, here’s what I came up with:

  • I’d counted on most public libraries holding Dia Day events, and registering them with the Dia Day Event finder.  They didn’t.
  • Dia Day events were scheduled for a variety of dates over a two-three week period, making it challenging to message (nationally) where/when events were scheduled (locally).

I definitely want to try again to get Bigs to take their Littles to Dia events in future years, and I think with some effort it’s possible that it can happen.

We spend a lot of time celebrating our successes – Let’s remember that we can celebrate our failures, too, as long as we learn from them!

What have you learned from programs or initiatives that didn’t go off quite as planned or expected? Did you revamp and try again? Please share in the comments!

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

Sylvie Shaffer is the Middle and Upper School Librarian at Maret School in Washington DC. In addition to her work with ALSC’s Liaisons with National Organizations Serving Youth, she is also a member of DC area notable book selection committee Capitol Choices and has enjoyed serving in its 10-14 reading group since 2009.

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49. Death of a Schoolgirl (2012)

Death of a Schoolgirl (Jane Eyre Chronicles #1) Joanna Campbell Slan. 2012. Berkley Trade. 340 pages. [Source: Library]

My expectations were low, so I was quite pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable this Jane Eyre mystery was. It may not be perfectly perfect from start to finish. There might be a paragraph or two here and there that bothered me. (For example, I didn't understand why Mrs. Fairfax was pushing Jane Eyre to take the family diamonds with her on her visit to Adele's school. Here she was going to check on the child's welfare, and Mrs. Fairfax is urging her to take jewels so she can dress up for her hosts in London?! I don't know if part of me thought it was foreshadowing--for better or worse--but when she put them in her reticule, I wanted to shout WHY are you traveling with expensive jewelry?!?! Why?! And sure enough--predictably enough--Jane Eyre gets robbed on her way to London. See! I told you not to take the family jewels!) But for the most part, I found the book to be an entertaining read.

Mrs. Rochester (aka Jane Eyre) is a new mother. She loves, loves, loves her new baby boy. But. When she receives a short letter from Adele with a French message included asking--begging--for help, she decides to leave her husband and son behind to check on Adele at her boarding school. If all is well, if it is just Adele being Adele, being childish and wanting her own way, then she may leave her at the school. If the school is less than ideal, if she does not like what she sees--how she sees the children being treated, if she thinks Adele's misery is justifiable, then she may take her out of the school. Because Jane Eyre was beaten up by the thief, because she doesn't particularly look RICH and IMPORTANT, she is initially mistaken as the new German teacher who was supposed to arrive several weeks earlier. That first day Jane Eyre is a bit flabbergasted and too overwhelmed to correct anyone. She has just learned that one of Adele's classmates was murdered. Eventually, one of the teachers convinces Jane that she should continue the deception, that she should resume her teaching duties temporarily and watch over the students herself. She debates what is best. Should she take Adele immediately to safety and let others solve the crime? Or should she become an amateur detective herself and work as a team with others to help solve the case?

Is Jane Eyre the best detective ever? Not really. But to me that almost doesn't matter. I liked spending time in her company. The setting intrigued me. I had never placed Jane Eyre in the Regency time period. But here we have the sequel set during the reign of George IV, and Queen Caroline, the scandalous Queen Caroline has not died yet. This places the book within a specific time frame. The sprinkling of historical details may not speak to all readers. Little details can be easily dismissed or ignored. But to me it's the little things that help ground a book. The book does deal with prejudices and judgments: how the lower classes feel about the upper classes, how the poor feel about the rich, how the rich feel about the poor, do they see them as human, are they compassionate and kind, or, haughty or cruel. One of the characters is VERY prejudiced against French people. Again and again we see characters making judgments or being judged. Sometimes the people that are being judged in certain situations are making judgments about others just a chapter or two later.

There were places I loved this one. There were places I merely liked it. But at times it just felt RIGHT. Maybe it didn't feel RIGHT cover to cover. But I read it quickly and enjoyed it very much.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. Critique Group Check-In

How is your critique group going? See what others are saying!

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