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Woodson, Jacqueline. 2014. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Penguin.
Despite the title, Brown Girl Dreaming is most certainly not just a book for brown girls or girls. Jacqueline Woodson's memoir-in-verse relates her journey to discover her passion for writing. Her story is framed by her large, loving family within the confines of the turbulent Civil Rights Era.
Sometimes a book is so well-received, so popular, that it seems that enough has been said (and said well); anything else would just be noise. Rather than add another Brown Girl Dreaming review to the hundreds of glowing ones already in print and cyberspace, I offer you links to other sites, interviews and reviews related to Brown Girl Dreaming. And, I'll pose a question on memoirs in children's literature.
First, the links:
And now something to ponder:
As a librarian who often helps students in choosing books for school assignments, I have written many times about the dreaded biography assignment
- excessive page requirements, narrow specifications, etc.
Obviously, a best choice for a children's book is one written by a noted children's author. Sadly, many (by no means all
!) biographies are formula-driven, series-type books that are not nearly as engaging as ones written by the best authors. Rare is the author of young people's literature who writes an autobiography for children
as Ms. Woodson has done. When such books exist, they are usually memoirs focusing only on the author's childhood years. This is perfectly appropriate because the reader can relate to that specified period of a person's lifetime. Jon Sciezska wrote one of my favorite memoirs for children, Knucklehead,
and Gary Paulsen's, How Angel Peterson Got his Name
also comes to mind as a stellar example. These books, however, don't often fit the formula required to answer common student assignment questions, i.e., birth, schooling, employment, marriages, accomplishments, children, death. Students are reluctant to choose a book that will leave them with a blank space(s) on an assignment.
I wonder what teachers, other librarians and parents think about this. Must the biography assignment be a traditional biography, or can a memoir (be it in verse, prose, or graphic format) be just as acceptable? I hate to see students turn away from a great book because it doesn't fit the mold. If we want students to be critical thinkers, it's time to think outside the box and make room for a more varied, more diverse selection of books.
The Night Gardener
. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library] A Tale of Two Cities
. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]Silver Like Dust
. Kimi Cunningham Grant. 2012. Pegasus. 288 pages. [Source: Library] Grave Mercy
. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]The Forbidden Flats (Sky Jumpers #2)
Peggy Eddleman. 2014. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]Magic in the Mix
. Annie Barrows. 2014. Bloomsbury. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]While Love Stirs
. Lorna Seilstad. 2014. Revell. 341 pages. [Source: Bought] Loving Jesus More
. Philip Graham Ryken. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Crossway.] Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven
(A Devotional Biography). James Bryan Smith. 2000. B&H. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]
This week's favorite:
I love, love, LOVE Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. It may just be my favorite book published in 2014.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Many of you probably know Gregory Maguire as the author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. I discovered it a year or so after it was published in 1995 in the bargain section of the bookstore where I worked and remember how thrilling it was to read back then. Long a fan of fairy tales, I was amazed to learn that a meal could be made of a behind the scenes, adult
After the publication of a recent School Library Journal article, I had the pleasure of speaking with three members of ALA’s REFORMA about the group’s Children in Crisis Project. Oralia Garza de Cortes and Patrick Sullivan spearheaded the project and we were also joined by Silvia Cisneros, current REFORMA President. Cisneros had made a donation drop off at the McAllen, TX detention center on September 10th.
Silvia Cisneros with donation drop off at McAllen.
I asked the trio about how easy is it to make a donation or offer support to the refugee children being held in these centers. All of them very quickly noted the level of difficulty; contracted defense workers will not allow the general public any individual contact with the children. Health and Human Services are allowed to accept two types of donations: blankets and books. As library workers we know the benefit of personal touch, but at the centers this is not an option. Cisneros notes that during her drop-off visit she delivered 225 books and these were received by Border Patrol Processing. A second donation drop-off occurred on October 17th at the Karnes City, TX distribution center.
In theory, the refugee minors can expect up to 72 hours in a detention center; REFORMA has heard that some children are spending nearly a month in these locations. Due process is slow without an American sponsor. The hope is that with access to books the children will find a bit of kindness and hope throughout this experience. REFORMA member Lucía M González created a bookplate that is pasted into each donated book: “Un libro es un compañero que te da luz y cobijo” (“A book is a companion that gives you light and shelter”).
I inquired about the presence of older youth and teens in the detention centers; Sullivan says that many of the minors who are crossing into the United States on their own tend to fall into this age group. He recounted a recent NPR story which interviewed a traumatized teen girl; her last experience in her native country before fleeing was to identify the body of her friend, a victim of brutal violence. REFORMA is looking to find book donors to offer titles more appropriate to this age group—career-based titles and biographies are in high demand.
What happens to these children and teens after they leave the centers? While awaiting court dates, many move on to a community shelter sponsored by groups such as the Catholic Church or the Southwest Key Program. It’s at this point that librarians will find an easier access point to working directly with youth. Sullivan and de Cortes recommend searching your area for any refugee shelters; they are generally very open to community outreach such as programming opportunities and library tours. Most refugee youth do not know how American libraries work, so exposing them to friendly staff and helpful resources can go a long way. Shelter staff may not be sure of which books or resources are the best for their group of youth, so the outreach effort can do double educational duty.
We have an incredible opportunity to reach traumatized youth and help them overcome the hurdles they face in order to find peace and happiness in their new country. YALSA members can connect with their regional/statewide REFORMA chapter to learn more, and can consider making donations via the CIC website. Sponsoring a local refugee shelter could be an amazing experience for a teen advisory board or other leadership group. REFORMA has a great set of resources to assist you in serving newly arrived Spanish-speaking community members. They’ve also collected a list of titles for Latino teens. I’m grateful for the chance I had to learn more about the refugee crisis and how librarians are helping—thank you Patrick, Oralia, and Silvia!
A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. This week we’re looking at ways libraries can use Instagram to market services. As librarians, we know that we provide our communities with so more than books, but how can we show patrons everything we have to offer? From audio books to online materials and wireless printing to smiling faces at the Information Desk, here’s a few ways to get that information out there. The key to this week’s installment is reading the captions — there are many different approaches libraries can take.
Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.
Froodle is a funny book, with lots of silly words for kids to say aloud. The story begins with a normal neighborhood filled with animals making normal sounds, bark, coo, cheep etc. Then a little brown sparrow decides to say something besides peep. Soon all the birds except for crow are saying weird things. Crow is not amused. Finally, he comes around and says, "Wuppy!" then the cats and dogs join in. It's verbal mayhem! Lots of puns (which will amuse the adults), simple pictures and fun words keep the story going in this book about a not-so-normal neighborhood.
This is a wordless picture book which is full of adventure. A boy drawing in his bed imagines himself on a safari and soon he is on the savannah with the animals. He has lunch with the zebras, rides on an elephant, shares his bread with monkeys and is chased by rhinos. Finally he draws himself back to his room, sketching his way across the savannah. At the end, he's at school showing his art to his classmates. To help differentiate between the imagined scenes and the "actual" scenes, Mr. Colon uses different techniques: colored pencil for the imagined and ink/watercolor for the realistic scenes. As with most kids, the imagined world is more lush and vivid than the real one.
By: Miss O,
Liz Prince talks as part of a panel on her new graphic memoir TOMBOY
This book takes a look at fitting in during her preteen and teen years and remaining true to herself even years later.
Liz Prince Talks TOMBOY
How she started -I came into prominence in the comic scene with books that are comprised of short, autobio gag comics, and those are something that are fairly easy for me to make; that doesn’t mean that they are worthless, they make a lot of people, and myself, very happy, but they are instant gratification for me as an artist. I can draw a short comic about my cats and post it online immediately and get some likes and “LOLs” and call it a day. These are the things that my fans have seen over the years. But behind the scenes, I had a few false starts on some larger projects.
Why she did this book -I drew this book because I was actively courted by the publisher, who was looking for non-fiction graphic novels by women. Other publishers have invited me to pitch a project to them before, but none had come to me saying that they really really wanted one. It took me about a year to have a project worth pitching: Zest Books is a teen/young adult publisher, and none of my other ideas for books would have worked for them, so it wasn’t easy for me to come up with a concept that I felt excited to work on, that would also fit the audience. And before I was confident in pitching this project, I had to be sure that I could actually fill a book with it. Tomboy is my story of growing up with gender identity issues. For the first half of my life I wanted to be a boy; this book deals with the reasons why, and the reactions to, my staunch refusal of being a girl. Before I pitched the book, I did an outline of what episodes I would discuss, and how long I felt the book would be. I guessed around 150 pages. I was presented a contract which gave me less than a year to complete the book; I signed in June 2013, the finished book was due March 15th, 2014. I was someone who had never successfully completed a graphic novel before, and I just jumped into an agreement that would have me completing one in about 9 months.
How she feels about the book -It ended up being more personal, and more about gender politics than I imagined it would. I know that people will feel very strongly about this book, both in a positive way, and in a negative way, but I take solace in knowing that both reactions will spark discussion on what gender should mean, and what it shouldn’t. I’ll put myself on the chopping block as a sacrificial lamb, if it can help us move forward, as a culture who can eschew gender stereotypes.
TAKE A LOOK! ZEST BOOKS IS SENDING ONE LUCKY WINNER A COPY OF THE BOOK!
Check out some other bloggers as they talk about Tomboy.
What factor has the most notable effect on student achievement?
There are questions in this world that it is always safe to ask a children’s librarian about his or her children. Prominent amongst them: “So what are your kids reading these days?”
The “kids” in question here would be the librarian’s children. Yet I’ll admit that when I’m asked, there’s always that brief moment of confusion on my part where my brain tries to access the answer. I read her four books less than 12 hours ago so why can’t I recall any of their titles? Eventually I’m able to piece together a list of her current obsessions (Fancy Nancy and the Frances books currently dominate) and all is well. And really, I like answering the question and I like, in turn, asking it of other folks.
Still, it gets me to thinking. I’m a children’s librarian. I read, eat, and breathe this stuff. My kids get a LOT of children’s books thrown at them on a regular basis, and yet I still sometimes struggle with coming up with an answer to, “So what are your kids reading these days?” If this question can prove difficult for me, what’s it like if you ask folks who aren’t in the business of children’s literature at all?
It seems to me the question cuts one of two ways. On the one had, it’s a great conversation starter. Your kid loves Ladybug Girl? Mine too! But at the same time, if used for evil instead of good, it could act as an awfully effective way to engage in shaming your fellow parent. The inherent assumption is that the other parent knows what their child is reading and, in fact, reads to them regularly. So for someone who suspected that their fellow parent was not engaging in this necessary activity, the question could be accusatory. What’s your kid reading, smart guy? Can you name the books? No? Why not?
Mind you, I’ve no doubt there are parents out there who, when asked, would merely shrug their shoulders and say, “My kid’s not much of a reader”. Then too there are the differences in asking the parent of a four-year-old the question versus a twelve-year-old. You could get some very different answers.
Still, when you consider the potential awkwardness (however justified) on the part of the other parent when asked this question, is it in the end rude to even ask? I feel like we should engage Miss Manners in this. What would she say?
Many ALSC Members are also YALSA members. At the request of the Chair of the 2015 MAE Jury Award for Best Literature for Teens, here is information about an Award in which many of you might be interested.
YALSA members who have run an exceptional reading or literature program in the 12 months leading up to Dec. 1, 2014 are eligible to apply for the 2015 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens, which recognizes an outstanding reading or literature program for young adults.
Do you run a spectacular teen book club that engages underserved audiences? Did your summer reading program or literature festival connect teens with literature in an innovative way? Is your Reader’s Advisory always three steps ahead of a trend? Have you connected teens to literature or helped them gain literacy skills via some other exciting means? Whether the program was large or small, if it was good, you could win $500 for yourself and an additional $500 for your library by applying for this award! Individual library branches may apply.
The MAE Award is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust. Applications and additional information about the award are available online. Applications must be submitted online by Dec. 1, 2014. For questions about the award, please contact the jury chair, Tony Carmack (email@example.com). The winner will be announced the week of Feb. 9, 2015.
Not a member of YALSA yet? It’s not too late to join so you can be eligible for this award. You can do so by contacting YALSA’s Membership Marketing Specialist, Letitia Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390. Recognize the great work you are doing to bring teens together with literature and apply today!
Written and illustrated by Cece Bell
Amulet Books; an imprint of Abrams. 2014
To write this review, I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library.
Everyone has a superpower. What is yours?
In El Deafo, author-illustrator Cece Bell shares her
experience growing up deaf.
I was a regular little kid. I played with my mom’s
From our good fellow in the field, Rocco Staino:
As chair of the ALA/CBC committee I am working with United for Libraries and the Children’s Book Council on an initiative for Children’s Book Week. It is our hope that during Children’s Book Week in 2015 that with your help United for Libraries can dedicate throughout the country at least 7 Literary Landmarks that are connected with a children’s book or author.
It would be great if you or your state organization would take the lead in nominating a possible Literary Landmark in your State. You may also want to work with your state’s Center for the Book.
Here are some helpful links that give you more information on Literary Landmarks.
Only 33 States have Literary Landmarks. Check to see if you state has at least one. If it doesn’t this is a great time to get one.
I have worked in having several sites designated as Literary Landmarks. Most recently we dedicated The Walt Whitman Birthplace a Literary Landmark. At the event we had a Congressman, State Senators and members of the NYS Assembly including the chair of the Library Committee. I am happy to say that the Landmark was cosponsored by Suffolk County Library Association, Suffolk School Library Media Association and the Lambda Literary Foundation.
Attached is a photo of the Librarians in attendance.
Feel free to contact me of Sally Gardner Reed or Jillian Kalonick (cc’d in this email) if you have any questions.
I’ve always been a diary and letter person. I have loads of journals from my childhood and post-college years. To this day, I relish letters I saved from my childhood since they’re a… Continue reading
We’re breaking weather records for warm days here in Texas with the temperature hitting 90 degree today. Ugh. We’re all ready for cooler Fall weather here, especially with Halloween and November right around the corner. So, to get in the spirit, I thought I’d share a list of poems about superstitions, beliefs, luck, magic, dreams, and nightmares
from my book, The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists
. I’ve even updated the list to add a few recent titles. Enjoy!
Poetry Books about Superstitions, Beliefs, Luck, Magic, Dreams, and Nightmares
Many works of poetry promote a sense of wonder. These titles focus especially on the world of superstitions, beliefs, luck, magic, dreams and nightmares-- all interpreted in a variety of ways.
Alarcón, Francisco X. 2005. Poems to Dream Together/ Poemas para Sonar Juntos. New York: Lee & Low.
Berry, James. 1991. Isn’t My Name Magical?: Sister and Brother Poems. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Clayton, Dallas. 2012. Make Magic! Do Good! Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Corcoran, Jill. Ed. 2012. Dare to Dream… Change the World. San Diego, CA: Kane Miller.
Cushman, Doug. 2012. Pigmares. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Cyrus, Kurt. 2013. Your Skeleton is Showing: Rhymes of Blunder from Six Feet Under. Ill. by Crab Scrambly. New York: Disney/Hyperion.
Denton, Graham. 2006. Silly Superstitions. London: Macmillan Children's Books.
Field, Edward. 1998. Magic Words: Poems. San Diego, CA: Gulliver Books/Harcourt Brace.
Grimes, Nikki. 2000. Shoe Magic. New York: Orchard.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2009. Sky Magic. Ill. by Mariusz Stawarski. New York: Dutton.
Hughes, Langston. (75th anniversary edition) 2007. The Dream Keeper (and seven additional poems). New York: Knopf.
Kennedy, X.J. 1989. Ghastlies, Goops, & Pincushions: Nonsense Verse. New York: McElderry.
Larios, Julie. 2008. Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Lewis, J. Patrick and Yolen, Jane. 2012. Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs. Ill. by Jeffrey Timmins. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Mado, Michio. 1998. The Magic Pocket. New York: McElderry.
Medina, Jane. 2004. The Dream on Blanca’s Wall. Honesdale, PA: Boyd’s Mill Press.
Prelutsky, Jack. 1976/1993. Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. New York: Greenwillow. Reprinted, New York: Mulberry Books.
Schertle, Alice. 1999. A Lucky Thing. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
Schwartz, Alvin. 1992. And the Green Grass Grew All Around: Folk Poetry from Everyone. New York: HarperCollins.
Sidman, Joyce. 2013. What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Whipple, Laura. Ed. 1996. Eric Carle’s Dragons, Dragons. New York: Philomel.
Winters, Ben H. 2013. Literally Disturbed: Tales to Keep You Up at Night. Penguin/Price Stern Sloan.
Wong, Janet S. 1994. Good Luck Gold and Other Poems. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Wong, Janet S. 2003. Knock on Wood: Poems about Superstitions. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Wong, Janet S. 2000. Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams. New York: Margaret K. McElderry
Yolen, Jane. 1996. Sacred Places. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
And for a list of specifically Halloween-themed poetry books, check out my previous post about Halloween poems here.
And if you know of any additional titles for me to add, please let me know!
Image credits: policemag.com;superstitionsof.com;gigabiting.com;melikedesign.com
Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2014. All rights reserved.
The Bechtel Library (image provided by Mary Gaither Marshall)
Little did I realize when arriving at the Gainesville Airport the evening of January 31, 2007, that the next month would be the highlight of my professional career. In 2005, as I was glancing through my most recent issue of Children and Libraries, I noticed Leslie Barban’s article, “Evolution of Children’s Literature Getting Sidetracked—Delightfully—at the Baldwin Library.” As I read the article, I thought, if only I could have that same experience. Before becoming a children’s librarian, I had worked for six years in rare book shops, so having the opportunity to research and read about children’s books would be a dream experience for me. In 2005, when both of my children were in college, I decided to apply for the 2006 Bechtel Fellowship. As part of the application, I needed to decide on a topic. The most difficult part of the process was determining which area of the collection to focus on. I decided to examine the papers of the founder of the collection, Ruth Baldwin. How did a librarian of modest means, form one of the greatest collection of children’s literature in the world? I sent my application in thinking that I would probably have to apply several times before I would receive the fellowship.
Mary in the Closed Stacks (photo courtesy of Mary Gaither Marshall)
In January 2006, I received a phone call at work from the ALA office. My first thought was that they were calling about my membership. I was shocked when the caller congratulated me on receiving the 2006 Bechtel Fellowship. After the call, I was bursting with excitement and couldn’t wait to tell my staff and director, and really, anyone who walked in the library, that I was going to spend a month reading children’s books and examining Ruth Baldwin’s letters and diaries at the University of Florida. Yes, I’m definitely a rare book geek.
Fortunately, my director at the Addison Public Library (Illinois), Mary Medjo MeZengue, was very supportive of my taking a month off from my usual responsibilities, to complete my Fellowship. We had just begun a new building project, so we carefully planned the best time for me to go to the Baldwin Library. We decided February 2007 would be the time when I was least needed for decisions. So I made arrangements with Rita Smith, then curator of the Baldwin, to spend the month. She placed me in contact with past Bechtel Fellowship winners and helped me to make local arrangements. I spent the month in a delightful cottage at the Sweetwater Bed and Breakfast about two miles from the campus. Each morning I would walk to the library and spend the day immersed in books, letters, diaries, and other papers. On the first day, Rita gave me a tour of the library and a one time only view of the closed stacks. After that, I had to request each item which was then brought to me. I was also able to interview Rita and several other faculty members who had known Ruth Baldwin. I would work steadily until the library closed at six. During the evenings and weekends, I would review my research and make plans for what I wanted to review the next day. I also read and responded to my work email and did collection development. I was amazed at how much of my work I was able to complete without every day distractions.
Mary with the Egolf Display (photo courtesy of Mary Gaither Marshall)
During the last week of my fellowship in 2007, a new addition of 2,800 illustrated American children’s books, dating from 1807-2003, formed and donated by Dr. Robert L. Egolf, arrived at the Baldwin Library. Because of my experience working with rare books, Rita gave me the opportunity to explore the boxes of books. Those of us in the Baldwin Library the day Dr. Egolf’s collection arrived, surely felt the same excitement that the University of Florida’s Smather’s Library staff felt almost 30 years before when Ruth Baldwin brought her magnificent collection to the University of Florida. On my last day at the Baldwin Library, I assisted Rita Smith in creating a display for the reception honoring Dr. Egolf’s donation.
Perhaps in the future, I will have the opportunity to return to the Baldwin and research these new additions to the Baldwin Library.
I encourage all of you who have the opportunity, to apply for the Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship. You too can receive $4,000 to spend a month reading and researching children’s books. The deadline is Saturday, November 1, 2014. Apply today!
Our guest blogger today is Mary Gaither Marshall. Mary is Assistant Director/Head of Children’s Services at the Addison Public Library.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.
There are a lot of great horror, but I have a group of students who want to read the genre, but don't care to get scared. And with that, the birth of this list began. This is a collaborative list, and I am so thankful to the librarians who helped are out there. Some I've read, some I haven't, but with collective expertise, this could be a helpful list for humorous horror :)
DEVILS AND DEMONS:
Soul Enchilada by David Maccinis Gill
Prom Dates from Hell Rosemary Clement-Moore
Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
Croak by Gina Damico
Killer Pizza Greg Taylor
Cold Cereal trilogy by Adam Rex
Warm Bodies Isaac Marion
Eat Brains Love Jeff Hart
Bad Taste in Boys Carrie Harris
The Infects Sean Beaudoin Gil’s All Fright Diner by Martinez
WITCHERY AND MAGIC
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer Lish McBride
Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
A Bad Day for Voodoo by Jeff Strand
Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side Beth Fantasky
Thirsty by MT Anderson
Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley
Fat Vampire by Adam Rex
Reform Vampire Support Group by Jinks
School Spirit by Rachel Hawkins
Intertwined by Gena Showalter
The Twelve-Fingered Boy by John Hornor Jacobs
The Savages by Matt Whyman
- Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks
- Missing Pieces of Me by Jean Van Leeuwen
- The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett
- Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson
- Greenglass House by Kate Milford
- A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas
- Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
- On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells
- The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian
- Twelve Drummers Drumming by C.c. Benison
- Claude at the Circus by Alex T. Smith
- Claude at the Beach by Alex T. Smith
- The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett
- Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer
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.
- Tumtum & Nutmeg The Rose Cottage Tales by Emily Bearn
- Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
- The Dark Lady by Irene Adler, translated by Chris Turner
- 4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie
- Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
- The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
- A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- When Santa Fell To Earth by Cornelia Funke
- The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]
I have now read Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers three times. (The first review
; the second review
.) It is a book that is a pleasure to reread. (Not every book is.) I enjoy Grave Mercy because it is intriguing and compelling.
It is set in Brittany in the late 1480s. You can read more about the time period in which this historical novel is set
. One of the central characters is Anne of Brittany
. Some might feel it is heavy on politics, but, I enjoyed the politics and the tension.
I wish the author had included more, at the very least more real names. For example, instead of "king of England" or "England's king" I wish she'd named him: Henry VII. There were places she could have been more specific, grounded the book more into history. I'd have LOVED an author's note. I'd have also loved an indication of which characters were historical people and which weren't.
Grave Mercy is not your traditional historical romance. (Well, now that I think about it. If Philippa Gregory can have witches and curses in her Cousins' War series, and be considered "historical" romance, then Grave Mercy might rightly be included as well.) For those that love, love, love romance, I think there is plenty of it in Grave Mercy. I think that is one of its most satisfying features. For those that love fantasy and/or mythology, I think it has some appeal as well. The heroine, Ismae, is Death's daughter and his handmaiden. She lives in a convent, of sorts, dedicated to serving Death. She is a trained assassin. She kills those that her lord (Death) has marked for death.
One of her assignments brings her close to Duval, the half-brother of Anne of Brittany. They share a common goal: to protect Anne, to protect Brittany. But she's been taught--trained--to trust no one, to love no one. So this assignment will test her certainly!
The book has plenty of action, drama, mystery, and politics.
"Are you drunk?" I try to put as much scorn into my words as he did.
"No. Yes. Perhaps a little. Definitely not enough." The bleakness is back and he turns to stare into the flames.
I am torn between wanting to leave him to wallow in his despair and wanting to rush to his side and chase that look from his eyes. That I long to do this appalls me, sets panic fluttering against my ribs.
"I suggest you return to your room," Duval says, his gaze still fixed woodenly on the fire. "Unless you have come to practice your lessons of seduction on me?" His mouth twists in bitter amusement. "That could well entertain me till sunrise."
I jerk my head back as if I have been slapped. "No, milord. I had thought only to pray for your soul if Madame Hivern had seen fit to poison you. Nothing more." And with that, I turn and flee the room, then bolt the door against the disturbing glimpse of both his soul and mine. Whatever games are being played here, he is master at them, and I will do well to remember that. (155)
"What is my fair assassin so afraid of? I wonder."
"I'm not afraid."
Duval tilts his head to the side. "No?" He studies me a long moment, then rises out of his chair. I hold my breath as he crosses to my bed. "Are you afraid I will draw closer, perhaps?" His voice is pitched low, little more than a purr. My breath catches in my throat, trapped by something I long to call fear but that doesn't feel like fear at all. (174)
His smile flashes, quick and surprising in the darkness. "When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice. I bid you good night." (218)
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Our Youth Services department recently underwent a freshening up. After reconfiguring our floor space and thinking about how it is used we decided to purchase several MacBook PROs for afterschool use. We had been circulating e-readers and tablets so this was a natural next step for us.
We made an initial purchase of eight laptops, and the kids went wild! We rolled out this new service a year ago and it has proven to be so popular that we had to invest in six more just to keep up with the demand.
So, how does this work you wonder? First, the laptops can only be used by children in grades 6-12th in our Youth Services department, they never leave the library. All one needs is a library card in good standing, a valid student ID and they are ready to borrow one. We ask each child to read and sign an agreement form that clearly states out the laptops may be used and we take a moment to discuss the terms of the agreement.
Our staff quickly realized this was an excellent opportunity to have more interaction with the children who are borrowing them. Not only was this a great way to learn their names, we now have the chance to talk to them about school, books, movies, etc. while we are preparing their laptop for use.
Everyone who registers to use a laptop is entered into a database. If there is a behavior infraction while using a laptop it is noted in the database. With over a thousand users, we have had only a few issues. Remarkably, none of these laptops have been damaged in anyway.
Each laptop comes loaded with a variety of popular applications kids really want. iPhoto, Garage Band, iMovie and Scratch 1.4 are a few that are in frequent use. Also popular is Face Time and Photo Booth. One might think these laptops are being borrowed for social media and gaming purposes, but I mostly observe them being used as a vehicle for creativity.
Recently, we began to offer technology classes specifically geared to children in grades 4 and up. We’ve held classes featuring programs such as Garage Band and iMovie where children created their own music or movies. Other well attended sessions featured Raspberry Pi; the credit card sized computer that can connect to a television and a keyboard and has quite a bit of functionality for something so small and Ardunio; an open source electronics platform that makes building interactive objects, such as robots more accessible.
It’s interesting to see just how adept these young people are with these types of programs and how eager they are to learn even more. If you have reached out to this age group I am interested to hear what you are doing, what’s worked and what hasn’t. I am always looking for the next big thing to offer.
Allison Santos, Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ
ALSC Digital Content Task Force
What factor has the most notable effect on student achievement?
Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937. 337 pages. [Source: Bought]
When Mr. William Faraday sat down to write his memoirs after fifty-eight years of blameless inactivity he found the work of inscribing the history of his life almost as tedious as living it had been and so, possessing a natural invention coupled with a gift for locating the easier path, he began to prevaricate a little upon the second page, working up to downright lying on the sixth and subsequent folios.
The book appeared at eighteen-and-sixpence, with frontispiece, in nineteen thirty-four and would have passed into the limbo of the remainder lists with thousands of its prototypes had not the quality of one of the wilder anecdotes in the chapters dealing with an India the author had never seen earned it a place in the news columns of a Sunday paper.
This paragraph called the memoirs to the attention of a critic who had not permitted his eminence to impair his appreciation of the absurd, and in the review which he afterwards wrote he pointed out that the work was pure fiction, not to say fantasy, and was incidentally one of the funniest books of the decade.
The public agreed with the critic and at the age of sixty-one William Faraday, author of Memoirs of an Old Buffer (republished at seven-and-six, seventy-fourth thousand), found himself a literary figure.
I was disappointed with this vintage mystery. While I absolutely loved the opening pages, by the end I found the whole book to be a mess. I admit it could be a mood thing. As much as I wanted to like it, even love it, perhaps I didn't have the patience to remember the large cast of suspects. Or perhaps the problem is that the characters aren't well drawn enough, aren't unique enough, to distinguish between. There were three or four characters that I could remember. But for the others, it was who is she again? who is he again? how does he fit into the group again? where did she come from?
Albert Campion has been invited into the inner circle of Jimmy Sutane and his friends. Sutane is in show business--the theater. Uncle William is, I believe, a mutual friend? Regardless, Uncle William is one of Campion's closest friends in the book. Anyway, Sutane invites Campion to his country house. There are many, many people there. Mostly his guests are in show business too--in the same currently running production. But a few are in his employ or in his family. By the end of the day, tragedy will strike and one of the guests will be dead.
The main reason I found this book to be a complete mess is Albert Campion. He is a horrible detective in this one. Why? Because at the party, he falls madly, deeply in LOVE with Jimmy Sutane's wife. He believes that they share a meaningful moment. In fact, he gets so swept up in the moment...he finds himself almost rushing across the room and taking her in his arms. At least he doesn't do that. But. Regardless. His inappropriate interest in Linda--Jimmy's wife--keeps him from using his brain for hundreds of pages. He doesn't want the murder to be solved just in case the murderer is someone that she cares about, just in case bringing the murderer to justice would make her feel bad. It's RIDICULOUS.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Blog: YALSA - Young Adult Library Services Association
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The Afterschool Alliance just published a study regarding after school programs in the United States. This is the third study of its kind, following in the results from the 2004 and 2009 studies. The group wants to document where and how children spend their time between 3 and 6 PM. The previous studies, along with this one, show that there is a demand for after school programs. However, more programming is needed to help reach the approximately 11.3 million children who are unsupervised after school.
The study is full of facts and figures. Such as: 18 percent (10.2 million) children participate in some after school program. This is an increase by nearly 2 million children when the study was conducted five years ago. We can only hope that number will continue to rise. Parents enroll their students in after school programs because it allows them to feel that their children are safe and also in an nurturing and creative environment. Parents that were polled were satisfied with their after school programs when the organization provided a snack, opportunity for physical activity, an environment to complete homework, and also a space for enrichment activities, such as STEM programs.
Income and ethnicity also played a role in the study; students from low-income families make up 45 percent of the students enrolled in after school programs and the most demand for after school programs is highest among African American families. This study confirmed that yes, we as a country are beginning to provide the after school programs our communities need, but a gap still exists.
So what does this mean for libraries and us as librarians? This is an opportunity to us to help out our community and potentially reach the population of people who feel underserved by after school programs. Of those 11.3 million children who are unsupervised, the majority are teens in middle and high school. For libraries, it can mean two things. The first is that we can either create some sort of informal (or formal) after school program or space for our teens to come to. If we foster an environment of learning and fun, we can help create a space the teens will flock to (at least, that’s what we hope). Our other option is reach out to after school programs in the area. We should ask ourselves, Where could the library fit in to their programming? Perhaps we could visit the program, or even just give them information about the library and events you offer. Regardless, establish some connection that says, “Hey, we’re the library and we are here for you.” If we can make our presence known, through establishing a place in our library or through outreach, we have the potential to make connections, ones that will last a long time. The study cited that students were more likely to continue the program into the summer. Hey, we do summer programming and wouldn’t it be great to get more kids involved? After school programs are our “in.” And in the process, we have the potential to do a lot of good.
So let’s get the conversation going. Are your libraries an after-school spot? What has worked for you? What has not? Since the study does not explicitly cite libraries as a spot for after-school program or programming, I’m curious to know what our librarians are already doing from that 3-6 PM time zone.
Do your children want to be something goulishly great on Halloween? Do monsters delight them? There's no doubt that The Monsterator
, with its bold promise of 625 monsters inside, will captivate many young readers who dream of something "screamingly scary."
The Monsteratorby Keith GravesRoaring Brook, 2014
Your local libraryAmazonages 5-9
*best new book*
Young Master Edgar Dreadbury finds your standard Halloween costumes a terrible bore. "I wish I could be something screamingly scary. / Something fanged and foul and horribly hairy!" Graves draws readers in with rhyming text that is a delight to read aloud, but he really grabs readers when Edgar steps into The Monsterator
. All of a sudden, Edgar is completely transformed "from his teeth to his toes."
|The Monsterator, by Keith Graves|
"When the machine finally quit,
Edgar crashed through the door.
He banged on his chests with his fists
|The Monsterator, by Keith Graves|
I love how Graves strikes just the right balance between frightening and fun for first and second graders. But what they will love most of all is the surprise at the end, when they can "monsterate" young Edgar, by turning a series of flaps to create hundreds of different creatures.
If you like this, you might like some of these other monsterish favorite picture books:
The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Macmillan Books. Illustrations of The Monsterator
are copyright ©2014 Keith Graves, used with permission of the publisher. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
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A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.
Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between October 24 – October 30 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.