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26. Review: If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Dutton, a member of Penguin 2009; SPEAK, imprint of Penguin 2010. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Mia is in a coma.

There was a car accident.

She can see what is happening around her, but she cannot interact. She is not dead but she is not alive.

Her family is dead.

It's all her choice, whether to stay with the living. But what will her life be like, if her family is gone?

The Good: Confession: I did not read this when it first came out, in 2009. I skipped to the end of the book to find out her choice, then read other things.

Then I saw the trailer. And Chloe Grace Moretz's performance as Mia. And just from the trailer, I cried more than I cried in The Fault in Our Stars. Even though I have a pretty firm rule to not read books before movies, I broke the rule. In part because the trailer already seduced me into wanting to see the film version, and in part because even though that "read the end" moment had told me the ending, I wanted to know more about Mia and how how she got to that moment.

Looking for a book to make you cry buckets? Then this is the book for you. Yes, from the start you know there's been a car accident and her family is dead. You'd think that would mean, no tears because you already know the worst. So, why cry? Because If I Stay proceeds to flashback to Mia's family and OHMYGOD I love her parents. I want them to be MY parents. Mia is a teen who had a great, supportive family. Page after page just shows you the depth of what she has lost.

Page after page of If I Stay is also showing the depth of what Mia has to keep going: her best friend, her boyfriend, her music, her other family members. Her boyfriend! Adam, like Mia, is a musician, but entirely different music so that music isn't necessarily something they share. What they do share is respect and love and fun, and wow, Adam. I just loved him.

Seriously, Mia before the accident had a great life.

Reinvention and starting over is often the subject of novels, and there is something curiously appealing about suddenly having a clean slate. Typically, though, this is a fairly positive process in that it's a character's choice and what they are leaving is a place and people that they can return to. Vacations, holidays, changes in mind, all that means that what is left isn't really gone.

Mia is faced with a choice: does go back to a world where her life and the people in it will always be "behind" her? She was worried about the impact and changes leaving for college was going to be, and suddenly she has to face a life where those she thought she was leaving have left her.

Mia's going to be facing a life where no one shares her childhood memories. Or family jokes. Without the love and support of her parents.

Is that a life she wants? Is what she has left enough reason to stay?

I LOVED this book. Love, love, love. Who cares if its a 2009 title? It's a Favorite Book Read in 2014. Also -- I can't wait for the movie.



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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27. Sharing books with friends + summer magic

Oh how I love summer, especially the chance to see friends I don't get to see often enough. I spent the day yesterday visiting with Helen Huber, terrific librarian from Cathedral School for Boys, sharing book after book with each other. We walked down to Mrs. Dalloway's Books and each ended up with several books. I recommended two favorite books to Helen: The 13 Story Treehouse and The Port Chicago 50.

The cutest moment was watching two eight year old girls sitting near the chapter book section, sharing their favorite books with each other. They pointed out which Judy Moody books they had each read. One was excited about the new Never Girls book that was out, about Tinker bell and the Disney fairies.

Here are two books which Helen recommend that I would love to get copies for myself. I have only looked at them briefly, so I can't give a full review. But they looked wonderful.
Norman, Speak!
by Caroline Adderson
illustrated by Qin Leng
Groundswood, 2014
Amazon
Your local library
ages 4-8
When a young boy adopts Norman from the pet shelter, the boy can't figure out why his new dog can't understand anything he's saying to it --- until he's at the park and Norman runs up to a man who's calling to his own dog in Chinese. I adored the sweet, unexpected turn of the story, as the little boy and his family decide to take Chinese lessons.
The Beatles
by Mick Manning and Brita Granström
Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2014
Amazon
Your local library
ages 8-12
I love the way that Manning and Granström use a cartoon approach for this biography of the Beatles. They capture the energy and enthusiasm of the Beatles and provide plenty of information, all in a way that's very accessible to kids in 3rd through 5th grade. While I haven't read this book in detail yet, it looks like they strike just the right balance -- never overwhelming kids with too much information, but also not talking down to kids. I'm new to their work, and will definitely be watching out for more by this British pair.

Truly, it's a magical moment when friends get excited about sharing books. This happens in the school library all the time. I hope you're able to find a bit of this magic over the summer.

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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28. Reusable Book Tags

Returning from the ALA Conference, I was inspired by the notable tags used by the vendors on the exhibit floor.  I didn’t want to print up tags because with our library’s circulation, the books on display are constantly changing.  I needed a tag that was easy to see, but also adaptable to whatever book it was placed in.  Thankfully, I have a really creative staff at my branch and by brainstorming with my branch head and afterschool leader, we were able to create some fun and useful book tags.  To begin, I found some speech bubble post-it notes and laminated them.  (Moment of honesty:  These were a giveaway by Sam Hain Publishing at ALA this year.  There are so many benefits of going to conference beyond the great programming!)  When I cut them out, I kept a tail of laminated plastic on the end: 

postitIt’s a little hard to see in the picture, but I cut a slit into the tail so it would slide over a page in the book.  Now that it’s laminated, it can be written on with a dry erase marker.  (My after school leader told me about this and it’s revolutionized my life!)  Here is a picture of some of the books:

do not reshelveI added a security tag to the back of each post-it, so they won’t accidentally walk out the door inside the book. Because the security tag is white, you really don’t notice it.  Here is a group of books on display:

bookcaseThe picture is a bit dark, but they look great in person.  If we lose any, we’re only out a post-it and some lamination paper.  When I make more, I’m going to make the tails a little longer.  I was able to make 9 tags out of one lamination sheet, but I think 6 would be better.  This will allow the tail to be a little longer and fit more securely in the book.  I’m using them in my picture book area currently, but I think the possibilities are endless. 

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

Christopher Brown Headshot

Photo courtesy of Christopher Brown

Our guest blogger today is Christopher Brown. Chris is a librarian for the Wadsworth Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  He received is MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 and his MA from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2013.  His current books obsessions are The Sittin’ Up by Shelia P. Moses, the Green Knowe series by Lucy M. Boston, and Leah Wilcox’s Waking Beauty.  He’s probably book talking at least one of these titles right now.

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

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

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29. ALSC Member of the Month – Jenna Nemec-Loise

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions with ALSC member, Jenna Nemec-Loise.

1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

Courtesy photo from Jenna Nemec-Loise

Courtesy photo from Jenna Nemec-Loise

I’m a relationship architect, a community builder, and an early childhood specialist. I’m an Everyday Advocate for youth, families, and libraries. On occasion, I’ve been called Flannelboard Ace and Teen Volunteer Coordinator Extraordinaire. And I’ve been doing it all at school and public libraries in and around Chicago for 14 daring years. (You thought I was just going to say “children’s librarian,” didn’t you? Ha!)

2. Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

Doesn’t everyone join ALSC to be more awesome for the communities they serve? That’s certainly why I did! When I got my first job as a librarian at a small private school, I had no idea what I was doing. But I did know that in order to be awesome at my job, I had to do two things: (1) get an MLIS, which I earned two years later from Dominican University, and (2) join ALSC, which I did immediately. Guess which one started paying off right away?

I’m also a member of PLA and YALSA, and my involvement with both divisions has been equally rewarding.

3. What are you proudest of having accomplished in your professional career?

By far, it’s been my advocacy work on behalf of children, families, and libraries through ALSC-related opportunities.

Through a four-year term on the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee, I helped coordinate a 2012 membership survey on early learning partnerships. Our data not only contributed to the May 2013 IMLS Growing Young Minds report, but it also made it into the hands of a White House Domestic Policy Council member at National Library Legislative Day 2013 in Washington, D.C.

I’ve also been honored to serve as Member Content Editor of the ALSC Everyday Advocacy website and electronic newsletter since February 2013. Most recently, I had the privilege of representing ALSC and PLA during the 2014 Opening Minds Innovation Award showcase, where educators, administrators, policy makers, and funders voted Every Child Ready to Read @ your library as the next game changer in the early childhood field. What an incredible experience!

4. Favorite age of kids to work with?

Those babies! I can’t resist their fascination with everything and the sheer joy that comes from sharing books, songs, and rhymes with them. That magic is the elixir of my library life!

5. What’s one “rule” you wished every librarian followed?

People over paperwork.

In these days of budget cuts and staffing shortages, we have to arm ourselves daily with endless streams of facts, statistics, and anecdotes to ensure we stay relevant in our communities. It’s easy to get lost in this climate of urgency, bogged down by this report or that deadline. We have a choice, though, and it’s a simple one: Stay grounded.

The child standing in front of you deserves every ounce of your attention. For the precious minutes you have with him, make him feel like the Most Important Child in the World. The paperwork can wait; the child can’t.

6. What do you collect?

Is it too nerdy to say Folkmanis puppets? Because I’ve got about 50 of ‘em! They’re the biggest hit you can imagine at all my book sharing programs, and even the big kids get in on the fun when we bring them out at the library.

My first puppet was Mabel (a big wooly sheep), who was quickly followed by Snap (an alligator) and Wally (a camel). The fan favorite, though, is Otis, my big floppy sheepdog. The little ones love rubbing their faces in his fur!

7. Who is your role model? Why?

Hands down, it’s Fred Rogers.

As a young child, I desperately loved Mr. Rogers and his Land of Make-Believe. He piqued my sense of wonder and made me feel safe with his soft-spoken demeanor and familiar routines. When Mr. Rogers talked to me, I felt smart and important.

And that’s why I love Fred Rogers to this day. His respect for young children and every aspect of their physical, socioemotional, and psychosocial development inspires my adult passion for engaging in developmentally appropriate library practice.

(Funny Mr. Rogers story: My mom called the pediatrician once because she was concerned that I was talking out loud to no one. When Dr. Mabini asked what else I was doing, she told him I was watching Mr. Rogers on TV. Dr. Mabini chuckled and said, “Well, Mr. Rogers asks lots of questions. When someone asks you something, you answer him, right?”)

8. What’s the best thing you’ve learned this year?

I learned a new definition of advocacy that clarifies the whole murky business! During the ALA Advocacy Coordinating Group meeting in Las Vegas, Office of Library Advocacy Director Marci Merola defined advocacy as “turning passive support into educated action.” Awesome, right? (Thanks, Marci!)

9. Favorite part of being a children’s librarian?

Building relationships with children, families, and communities. My library building is starting to show its age, and our children’s collection could use some refreshing. But I know I’m doing something right when kids and families stop by just to say, “Hi, Miss Jenna!” I treasure those moments when I get to say in return, “I’m so glad you came by to see me today! Have I got a book for you…”

10. Do you have any pets?

I sure do! Trudy is my two-year-old mini-lop rabbit and the unofficial mascot of my library’s animal-themed summer program. Kids and families love hearing Trudy stories and seeing pictures of her various bunny shenanigans. (Trust me—there are many.)

I’m proud to say my little gal has inspired lots of reading this summer! Back in May, I challenged kids at my library to read 150,000 minutes as a group during our eight-week program. I promised that if they met this goal, I’d adopt a second rabbit as a mate for Trudy. With two weeks left to go, kids have read a whopping 120,000 minutes, so it looks like it’ll be double the bunny fun at my house come August!

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

Thanks, Jenna! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.


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30. Swift Boys and Me (2014)

The Swift Boys & Me. Kody Keplinger. 2014. Scholastic. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Having read The Swift Boys & Me, I'm not sure the book matches the cover. I think the cover is cute enough, mind you, but The Swift Boys & Me is not exactly a "cute" kind of book. For one thing, this coming-of-age novel is much more serious than you might suppose. I also don't like the fence, though I suppose it might work symbolically to show the new and uncomfortable distance between the heroine, Nola Sutton, and the three Swift brothers (Brian, Canaan, and Kevin). Still. In Nola's subdivision, there is only ONE house with a fenced in yard. All the other houses are fence-free. The children run and play WHEREVER they want, WHENEVER they want throughout the neighborhood. Teddy Ryan is the boy who lives in the fenced-in house. He is the boy in isolation, the boy with no friends.

So. The Swift Boys & Me is a coming-of-age novel. It opens with Nola witnessing something big, though she was clueless at the time. She sees Mr. Swift drive away late one night. She doesn't learn until later that his driving away meant he was LEAVING the family for good. Brian, Canaan, and Kevin react to their dad leaving in different ways. Though none of the ways really includes staying friends with Nola. Kevin, the youngest, stops talking. He blames himself for the last argument. Canaan, after the first forty-eight hours or so, decides that Nola is nothing to him. That he should start hanging out with other boys his age instead. He ends up getting in with a group of boys who thinks it's fun to step on dog's tails and spray paint mailboxes with bad words. And Brian, well, he essentially runs away from home skipping around from friend-to-friend-to-friend. This will be the very first summer that Nola remembers where she is NOT friends with the Swift brothers at all. Do you see why the description "Four friends. One summer." is a bit off?!

So since Nola is NOT friends with Canaan and Kevin and Brian, how does she spend her days?! She spends them working small jobs and hanging out with other neighborhood kids. She discovers that she LIKES spending time with other kids. Even Teddy Ryan. In fact, she might like like him. She also spends her time getting ready for her mom's wedding. She also is preparing to pack up and MOVE neighborhoods.

The Swift Boys & Me is definitely a book about changing and growing up. Nola is essentially preparing to say goodbye to what was. Changing neighborhoods isn't the only change in her future. She'll be starting middle school in the fall. The fact that she is no longer speaking to the Swift brothers (with the slight exception of Kevin who sometimes still comes around though he doesn't really speak) makes the change easier to accept.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. Review of the Day: The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis

MadmanPineyWoods Review of the Day: The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul CurtisThe Madman of Piney Woods
By Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0-545-63376-5
$16.99
Ages 9-12
On shelves September 30th

No author hits it out of the park every time. No matter how talented or clever a writer might be, if their heart isn’t in a project it shows. In the case of Christopher Paul Curtis, when he loves what he’s writing the sheets of paper on which he types practically set on fire. When he doesn’t? It’s like reading mold. There’s life there, but no energy. Now in the case of his Newbery Honor book Elijah of Buxton, Curtis was doing gangbuster work. His blend of history and humor is unparalleled and you need only look to Elijah to see Curtis at his best. With that in mind I approached the companion novel to Elijah titled The Madman of Piney Woods with some trepidation. A good companion book will add to the magic of the original. A poor one, detract. I needn’t have worried. While I wouldn’t quite put Madman on the same level as Elijah, what Curtis does here, with his theme of fear and what it can do to a human soul, is as profound and thought provoking as anything he’s written in the past. There is ample fodder here for young brains. The fact that it’s a hoot to read as well is just the icing on the cake.

Two boys. Two lives. It’s 1901, forty years after the events in Elijah of Buxton and Benji Alston has only one dream: To be the world’s greatest reporter. He even gets an apprenticeship on a real paper, though he finds there’s more to writing stories than he initially thought. Meanwhile Alvin Stockard, nicknamed Red, is determined to be a scientist. That is, when he’s not dodging the blows of his bitter Irish granny, Mother O’Toole. When the two boys meet they have a lot in common, in spite of the fact that Benji’s black and Red’s Irish. They’ve also had separate encounters with the legendary Madman of Piney Woods. Is the man an ex-slave or a convict or part lion? The truth is more complicated than that, and when the Madman is in trouble these two boys come to his aid and learn what it truly means to face fear.

Let’s be plainspoken about what this book really is. Curtis has mastered the art of the Tom Sawyerish novel. Sometimes it feels like books containing mischievous boys have fallen out of favor. Thank goodness for Christopher Paul Curtis then. What we have here is a good old-fashioned 1901 buddy comedy. Two boys getting into and out of scrapes. Wreaking havoc. Revenging themselves on their enemies / siblings (or at least Benji does). It’s downright Mark Twainish (if that’s a term). Much of the charm comes from the fact that Curtis knows from funny. Benji’s a wry-hearted bigheaded, egotistical, lovable imp. He can be canny and completely wrong-headed within the space of just a few sentences. Red, in contrast, is book smart with a more regulation-sized ego but as gullible as they come. Put Red and Benji together and it’s little wonder they’re friends. They compliment one another’s faults. With Elijah of Buxton I felt no need to know more about Elijah and Cooter’s adventures. With Madman I wouldn’t mind following Benji and Red’s exploits for a little bit longer.

One of the characteristics of Curtis’s writing that sets him apart from the historical fiction pack is his humor. Making the past funny is a trick. Pranks help. An egotistical character getting their comeuppance helps too. In fact, at one point Curtis perfectly defines the miracle of funny writing. Benji is pondering words and wordplay and the magic of certain letter combinations. Says he, “How is it possible that one person can use only words to make another person laugh?” How indeed. The remarkable thing isn’t that Curtis is funny, though. Rather, it’s the fact that he knows how to balance tone so well. The book will garner honest belly laughs on one page, then manage to wrench real emotion out of you the next. The best funny authors are adept at this switch. The worst leave you feeling queasy. And Curtis never, not ever, gives a reader a queasy feeling.

Normally I have a problem with books where characters act out-of-step with the times without any outside influence. For example, I once read a Civil War middle grade novel that shall remain nameless where a girl, without anyone in her life offering her any guidance, independently came up with the idea that “corsets restrict the mind”. Ugh. Anachronisms make me itch. With that in mind, I watched Red very carefully in this book. Here you have a boy effectively raised by a racist grandmother who is almost wholly without so much as a racist thought in his little ginger noggin. How do we account for this? Thankfully, Red’s father gives us an “out”, as it were. A good man who struggles with the amount of influence his mother-in-law may or may not have over her redheaded grandchild, Mr. Stockard is the just force in his son’s life that guides his good nature.

The preferred writing style of Christopher Paul Curtis that can be found in most of his novels is also found here. It initially appears deceptively simple. There will be a series of seemingly unrelated stories with familiar characters. Little interstitial moments will resonate with larger themes, but the book won’t feel like it’s going anywhere. Then, in the third act, BLAMMO! Curtis will hit you with everything he’s got. Murder, desperation, the works. He’s done it so often you can set your watch by it, but it still works, man. Now to be fair, when Curtis wrote Elijah of Buxton he sort of peaked. It’s hard to compete with the desperation that filled Elijah’s encounter with an enslaved family near the end. In Madman Curtis doesn’t even attempt to top it. In fact, he comes to his book’s climax from another angle entirely. There is some desperation (and not a little blood) but even so this is a more thoughtful third act. If Elijah asked the reader to feel, Madman asks the reader to think. Nothing wrong with that. It just doesn’t sock you in the gut quite as hard.

For me, it all comes down to the quotable sentences. And fortunately, in this book the writing is just chock full of wonderful lines. Things like, “An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and the same can be said of many an argument.” Or later, when talking about Red’s nickname, “It would be hard for even as good a debater as Spencer or the Holmely boy to disprove that a cardinal and a beet hadn’t been married and given birth to this boy. Then baptized him in a tub of red ink.” And I may have to conjure up this line in terms of discipline and kids: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, but you can sure make him stand there looking at the water for a long time.” Finally, on funerals: “Maybe it’s just me, but I always found it a little hard to celebrate when one of the folks in the room is dead.”

He also creates little moments that stay with you. Kissing a reflection only to have your lips stick to it. A girl’s teeth so rotted that her father has to turn his head when she kisses him to avoid the stench (kisses are treacherous things in Curtis novels). In this book I’ll probably long remember the boy who purposefully gets into fights to give himself a reason for the injuries wrought by his drunken father. And there’s even a moment near the end when the Madman’s identity is clarified that is a great example of Curtis playing with his audience. Before he gives anything away he makes it clear that the Madman could be one of two beloved characters from Elijah of Buxton. It’s agony waiting for him to clarify who exactly is who.

Character is king in the world of Mr. Curtis. A writer who manages to construct fully three-dimensional people out of mere words is one to watch. In this book, Curtis has the difficult task of making complete and whole a character through the eyes of two different-year-old boys. And when you consider that they’re working from the starting point of thinking that the guy’s insane, it’s going to be a tough slog to convince the reader otherwise. That said, once you get into the head of the “Madman” you get a profound sense not of his insanity but of his gentleness. His very existence reminded me of similar loners in literature like Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson or The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton, but unlike the men in those books this guy had a heart and a mind and a very distinctive past. And fears. Terrible, awful fears.

It’s that fear that gives Madman its true purpose. Red’s grandmother, Mother O’Toole, shares with the Madman a horrific past. They’re very different horrors (one based in sheer mind-blowing violence and the other in death, betrayal, and disgust) but the effects are the same. Out of these moments both people are suffering a kind of PTSD. This makes them two sides of the same coin. Equally wracked by horrible memories, they chose to handle those memories in different ways. The Madman gives up society but retains his soul. Mother O’Toole, in contrast, retains her sanity but gives up her soul. Yet by the end of the book the supposed Madman has returned to society and reconnected with his friends while the Irishwoman is last seen with her hair down (a classic madwoman trope as old as Shakespeare himself) scrubbing dishes until she bleeds to rid them of any trace of the race she hates so much. They have effectively switched places.

Much of what The Madman of Piney Woods does is ask what fear does to people. The Madman speaks eloquently of all too human monsters and what they can do to a man. Meanwhile Grandmother has suffered as well but it’s made her bitter and angry. When Red asks, “Doesn’t it seem only logical that if a person has been through all of the grief she has, they’d have nothing but compassion for anyone else who’s been through the same?” His father responds that “given enough time, fear is the great killer of the human spirit.” In her case it has taken her spirit and “has so horribly scarred it, condensing and strengthening and dishing out the same hatred that it has experienced.” But for some the opposite is true, hence the Madman. Two humans who have seen the worst of humanity. Two different reactions. And as with Elijah, where Curtis tackled slavery not through a slave but through a slave’s freeborn child, we hear about these things through kids who are “close enough to hear the echoes of the screams in [the adults’] nightmarish memories.” Certainly it rubs off onto the younger characters in different ways. In one chapter Benji wonders why the original settlers of Buxton, all ex-slaves, can’t just relax. Fear has shaped them so distinctly that he figures a town of “nervous old people” has raised him. Adversity can either build or destroy character, Curtis says. This book is the story of precisely that.

Don’t be surprised if, after finishing this book, you find yourself reaching for your copy of Elijah of Buxton so as to remember some of these characters when they were young. Reaching deep, Curtis puts soul into the pages of its companion novel. In my more dreamy-eyed moments I fantasize about Curtis continuing the stories of Buxton every 40 years until he gets to the present day. It could be his equivalent of Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark House chronicles. Imagine if we shot forward another 40 years to 1941 and encountered a grown Benji and Red with their own families and fears. I doubt Curtis is planning on going that route, but whether or not this is the end of Buxton’s tales or just the beginning, The Madman of Piney Woods will leave child readers questioning what true trauma can do to a soul, and what they would do if it happened to them. Heady stuff. Funny stuff. Smart stuff. Good stuff. Better get your hands on this stuff.

On shelves September 30th.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

First Sentence: “The old soldiers say you never hear the bullet that kills you.”

Like This? Then Try:

Notes on the Cover:  As many of us are aware, in the past historical novels starring African-American boys have often consisted of silhouettes or dull brown sepia-toned tomes.  Christopher Paul Curtis’s books tend to be the exception to the rule, and this is clearly the most lively of his covers so far.  Two boys running in period clothing through the titular “piney woods”?  That kind of thing is rare as a peacock these days.  It’s still a little brown, but maybe I can sell it on the authors name and the fact that the books look like they’re running to/from trouble.  All in all, I like it.

Professional Reviews:

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32. Montessori Map Work by Bobby and June George, illustrated by Alyssa Nassner

Montessori Map Work is the fourth and my favorite of the Montessori series of board books Abrams Appleseed began publishing in 2012. All of the books by Bobby and June George, founder of the Baan Dek Montessori School in Sioux Falls, North Dakota, are invaluable and Alyssa Nassner's crisp illustrations. As they note in their letter to parents that introduces each book in the series, the

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33. call for proposals: REFORMA

The Call for Proposals to present at the Fifth REFORMA National Conference (RNC5) taking place in San Diego, CA, April 1-4, 2015, is now open! REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking


Please visit the website below to get the information and send your proposals for leading presentations, facilitating breakout sessions, or exhibiting posters. The conference’s theme is “Libraries Without Borders: Creating Our Future”. The 2014 REFORMA National Conference Program Committee will evaluate proposals for relevance to the conference theme, as well as clarity, originality, and timeliness.

http://reforma.org/rncv_cfp

 

Deadline is September 1, 2014.


Filed under: librarianship, Opportunities, professional development Tagged: ALA, Librarianship, REFORMA

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34. The Summer I Saved The World in 65 Days (2014)

The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days. Michele Weber Hurwitz. 2014. Random House. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

It starts with Mrs. Chung. And flowers. Marigolds. My grandmother believed in what she called STs--Simple Truths. This was one of her favorites: Things happen when they're meant to happen, and the sooner people realize that, the more content they'll be. 

I enjoyed reading The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days. Nina Ross, our heroine, is thirteen. In the fall, she'll be starting a new school, going to high school. She is not sure how she'll fit or even if she'll fit there. If there is one thing Nina knows is that so much is changing so fast. Not just for herself, but for her family, and for most if not all of her neighbors. For example, one neighbor, Mrs. Chung, has a broken leg. Another neighbor is expecting her fourth child! Every house, or, should that be every neighbor, has a story to share. Perhaps not a story they want shared.

Soon after the novel opens, Nina has the brilliant idea to anonymously "save" the neighborhood one tiny step at a time through one anonymous good deed per day. Nina wants to seek out opportunities to be kind and thoughtful. During the process, she learns a bit about herself, about life, about friendship and community.

I liked this one. I liked meeting all the neighbors. I liked the coming-of-age aspects of it. I liked Nina's optimism. Change can be intimidating, but, you have got to hold onto hope that change can be good too.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. Bugged: how insects changed history by Sarah Albee

Bugged: how insects changed history by Sarah Albee; Illustrations by Robert Leighton Walker Books. 2014 ISBN: 9780802734235 I reviewed a copy sent from the publisher. Perfect for grades 6 and up Sarah Albee (Poop Happened: a history of the world from the bottom up) is back with another romp through history. This time, Albee explains how insects have changed history. Insects have been

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36. I Am So Brave by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Sara Gillingham

I Am So Brave! is the newest book from Stephen Krensky and Sara Gillingham and the fourth in their series of board books celebrating the milestones along from toddlerhood to preschooler. I Can Do It Myself! and Now I Am Big! and I Can Do It Myself!. Rather than teaching facts to toddlers like most board books, Krensky's books focus on the things the accomplishments they have already

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37. Persnickety Computer Temporarily Ruling KLR — Darn It!

Aw, Gee! My computer is actually not completely fixed. Who would have thought. Please enjoy Howard B. Wigglebottom for one more day. I am working on getting a late review out for tomorrow. If not, relax, enjoy your time away from the comment boxes—thank you all for your comments, I love them—read a book, paint a picture, bake some brownies, or just have fun in the summer sun (unless you are here where the temperature is currently 50 degrees of cool.

In August, if the computer (and Best Buy Geeky squad cooperate), I will finally start posting on a personal blog I have had waiting in the WordPress wings since 2007. There is a DIY MFA: Conquer the Craft in 29 Days!  at diymfa.com if you are interested. I really have no idea what will be expected of me. I did the April, 30 Poetry days at Angie Karchner’s RhyPiBoMo (Rhyming Picture Book Month) and did well. That has actually encouraged me to try other things going on around the literary blogosphere.

Those posts will be at Loving Kidlit @ http://suemorris.wordpress.com/

Keep on stopping by and I will keeping on plugging away!

Up Coming Books include, in NO particular order:

The Lonely Crow  by Paul Stillabower

Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog by Jackie Clark Mancuso

The Ghost of Stonebridge Lane by Rpoberta Hoffer

Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor by Julie Anne Grasso

plus many new books from traditional publishers.

There are some terrific MG books, a great new odd alphabet book, a new set of board books for boys (and girls), and picture books to make your heart melt and your tongue giggle. So, darn it!, keep coming back. Eventually, the computer will give in and work or find itself alone in a dark, wet pasture.

Thanks for understanding and not leaving KLR behind. Enjoy Mr. Wigglebottom’s “trailer.”

Sue

rhypibomo-graduate-badge-e1398926047783

 


Filed under: Children's Books

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38. #617 – Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matter Howard Binkow & Reverend Ana and Taillefer Long

coverHoward B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matters

written by Howard Binkow & Reverend Ana

illustrated by Taillefer Long

Thunderbolt Publishing          1/01/2013

978-0-9826165-9-8

Age 4 to 8                 32 pages

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“Using humor and a light approach this book introduces to 5 to 8 year olds the concept “to have good manners is to do and say only what makes people feel good and comfortable.” The thirteenth book in the award winning Howard B. Wigglebottom series. Teacher and Counselor approved. Tips and lessons are included. Reviews and support resources are available at wedolisten.org”

Opening

“Howard Wigglebottom woke up very worried.”

The Story

Howard is worried about his friends not doing well in the Pup Scout’s Good Manners Competition. They compete in just five days. Oinky habitually burps, never saying, “Excuse me.”

Joey bumps into people and never says, “Excuse me.”  Kiki uses unkind words, which is not nice. Even the Snorton Twins lack patience, cutting in l line, not willing to wait their turn. Howard must deal with a very ragamuffin group for this year’s contest. He needs help and enlists a coach. All good teams have coaches, right? Howard decided to get a coach for the manners team.

Howard cannot find a grown-ups willing to coach. Then he asked Ms. Owlee, who observed each kid’s manners at home, school, the park, and everywhere else they went. When the team had gathers for a coaching session, Ms. Owlee had basically one thing to tell the team. Some may say it’s a trick, because it involves secret magical words, but if it is a secret, no one will find out. Can Ms. Owlee coach Howard’s Manners Team on to victory?

Review

Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matter deals with many rude and yucky behaviors. Howard’s team coach, Ms. Owlee, takes a different from most approach to the team’s bad manner problems. Ms. Owlee not only shows the kids the right thing to do in their particular situations, she also gets them to understand why good manners are so important. Some of the kids burp and others fart but no one said, “Excuse me.” Part of the problem is that we often find those behaviors funny. This is especially true with young boys and fathers—when mom is not around. To be honest, sometimes it is funny, yet still not nice.

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I like the secret magic words—two words—Ms. Owlee has the kids remember. Whenever they do something rude or gross, like fart or burp, they are to recall this secret. That, in turn, will help the kids remember to use manners. It works. This makes a lot of sense to me. If I know the reason behind something, I am more likely to comply with whatever it is. Understanding can go a long way in changing behavior. The next time Buzz sneezes, he remembers why he should show good manners and says, “Sorry for not covering my face.”  Well, it’s a start. Nothing in the story deals with actions, only good manner words.

The magical words work with all the team members, who are now ready for the Manners Competition. In the end, Howard is pleased with his team’s performance. The entire team is thrilled. The story is an interesting way of conveying good manners to young children. Ages  4 to 8, and even younger, need constant reminders about manners. Reading Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matter can entertain kids while instilling the good manners they so desperately need to learn at this age. Kids can read, or listen while someone else reads, the book over and over, ingraining the information and the difference between good and bad manners. Repetition is a master at helping children learn. This is why so many young children’s books use repetitive lines in the stories.

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The illustrations are cute. The animals all have human qualities and characteristics, a technique called anthropomorphism. The cute skunk, pig, alligator, dogs—Howard Wigglebottom is a bunny–, and many other animals, will entertain kids. They have bright eyes, big smiles, and wear a variety of clothes, some of which are funny. The mouse Kiki speaks to nicely reminds me of the Monopoly man, with his top hat and long circus-style coat. I love the turtle that needs a walker to get around. Her curved shell easy looks like a hunch back, or a woman with osteoarthritis. The characters, all animals, range from very young to very old. I like this mix of young and old, similar to what children see and deal with daily.

The Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matter is one in a series of books devoted to helping young children grow up with the characteristics they need for success. Series titles always begin, Howard B. Wigglebottom . . . Titles include . . . Learns to Listen; Learns About Bullies; Learns too Much of a Good Thing is Bad; On Yes and No: A Fable about Trust; and the Power of Giving:  A Christmas Story, to name a few in this ever-growing series (13 thus far). The Howard B. Wigglebottom stories are well-written, interesting stories that will hold children’s attention from start to finish; perfect for use in the classroom. Young children love to learn and they love to please, making this a great age to learn and reinforce good manners. With the gentle persuasiveness of Howard’s friend, Ms. Owlee—a very smart owl in deed—Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners Matter will help and encourage many children and their parents.

Oh, what was that? What are Ms. Owlee’s secret magical words? Well, it is a secret, and . . . you didn’t say, “Please.”

HOWARD B. WIGGLE BOTTOM AND MANNERS MATTER. Text copyright © 2013 by Howard Binkow Living Trust. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Taillefer Long. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Thunderbolt Publishing, through the distributor, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.

Buy Howard B. Wigglebottom and Manners  Matter at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryiTunesLerner BooksWeDoListenat your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about the  Howard B. Wigglebottom Series HERE.

**Meet the author, Howard Binkow, at his website:  https://wedolisten.org/

For an informative interview with Howard Binkow, go HERE.

**Meet the author, Reverend Ana, at her website:    https://wedolisten.org/

Meet the illustrator, Taillefer Long, at his website:    http://childrensillustrationartist.com/

**Find more Howard B. Wigglebottom books at the Thunderbolt Publishing website:    https://wedolisten.org/

Distributed by Lerner Publishing Group:        https://www.lernerbooks.com/

**Collectively called the We Do Listen Foundation @ wedolisten.org

poster  wigglebottoms manners.

Free Poster HERE.

Listen to Song, find Lessons and Reflections HERE.

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howard b wigglebottom
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copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series Tagged: bad manners, children's book reviews, good manners, Howard B. Wigglebottom, Howard Binkow, Lerner Publishing Group, picture books, Reverend Ana Rowe, Taillefer Long, Thunderbolt Publishing

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39. Youth Management School - For Real!


Before I begin, let me just say, any of us who work in youth services, whether official "managers" or line staff, are managing (or perhaps I should say juggling) alot all the time.

We each make decisions on collections, services, partnerships, intra-library collaborations, advocacy decisions, media matters, best use of our time/energy and a whole lot more. Sometimes we stay safely in the lane, following tradition, received wisdom or direction from above. Other times, after going to a workshop, webinar or social media peeps on the computer, we hop out of the lane and zoom to a better place.

So we all manage.

I have blogged about how excited I have been to find so many people sharing program and service ideas over the past few years. I can't say how important these ideas are for my practice and to my community. It led me to develop my first CE course this spring on Programming Mojo.  More recently I've been exploring great youth management ideas from bloggers like Erin , Cheryl and Abby and blogs like Library Lost and Found. It got me thinking more on how we manage our youth work and thinking again about how we all learn to approach our practice. Seems like there's lots to discover and and ideas to chat about.

If you want to join a conversation on youth management this fall, come to school with me!

I will be teaching a four week UW-Madison SLIS online course How Did You Manage THAT?!?! that looks at many of the issues we face each day in the youth services area. We'll learn and share together and have a great textbook to guide us (Managing Children's Services in Libraries by Adele Fasick and Leslie Holt - a book whose many editions throughout my career have served me well as a guide and a goad). Since this is an asynchronous course, you dip in each week at a time convenient for you.

I somehow think a class crowd-sourced blog will be involved again too. Hope you can join me and explore!

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40. Press Release Fun: Announcing the Ninth Annual Carle Honors

Media Alert

For Thursday, September 18th 2014

 

Contact: Alexandra Pearson

212.255.8455/ Alexandra@rosengrouppr.com

Ninth Annual Carle Honors

Celebrating Early Literacy and the Art of the Picture Book

2014 gala to fête author/illustrator Jerry Pinkney and other luminaries in the field

 

On Thursday, September 18, hundreds of children’s book artists, authors and advocates will come together to celebrate The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art’s ninth annual Carle Honors at Guastavino’s in New York City. This benefit gala will honor five individuals who have been instrumental in making children’s books a vibrant art form that supports art appreciation and early literacy.

 

When:             Thursday, September 18, 2014

5:30 pm Reception with cocktails, dinner fare, and silent auction

7:15 pm Presentation of The Carle Honors

8:00 pm Dessert, coffee, and auction

9:00 pm Auction close

Where:            Guastavino’s

                        409 East 59th Street

                        New York, NY 10022

 

Who:               Hosted by Eric and Barbara Carle, Museum co-founders

Presented by Tony and Angela DiTerlizzi

                        Charles and Deborah Royce, 2014 co-chairs

     

2014 Carle Honors honorees include:

·         Artist: Jerry Pinkney – Illustrator of more than 100 books for children and winner of numerous awards, including the 2010 Caldecott Medal for The Lion and the Mouse

·         Angel: Reach Out and Read – Promoters of early literacy and school readiness through programs in pediatric exam rooms nationwide; represented by Brian Gallagher and Dr. Perri Klass

·         Mentor: Henrietta M. Smith – Influential children’s librarian, scholar, and author; advocate for  quality and diversity in children’s literature

·         Bridge: Françoise Mouly – Publisher and editorial director for TOON Books, high-quality comics for young children; art editor of The New Yorker 

 

Why:               The Carle Honors awards recognize individuals in four distinct forms: Artist, for lifelong innovation in the field; Mentor, for the editors, designers, and educators who champion the art form; Angel, for those whose generous resources make picture book art exhibitions and education programs a reality; and Bridge, for individuals who have found inspired ways to bring the art of the picture book to larger audiences through work in other fields.

 

For just over a decade, The Eric Carle Museum has been collecting, preserving, presenting and celebrating picture books and their illustrations with the mission to foster a love of art and reading in all ages. The only full-scale museum of its kind in the United States, The Carle was the recipient of the 2013 Commonwealth Award for Creative Learning for its exceptional demonstration of the importance of creativity and innovation to student achievement and success. In addition, The Carle has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts which help bring nationally acclaimed artists to local schools that normally do not have access to picture books. The Carle Honors is a key fundraiser providing critical support for the Museum’s mission and programs.

 

Reservations: Individual Tickets: Patron Tickets are $600 per person, and include cocktails, dinner fare, presentation, dessert. Specially priced tickets for educators are available at $100 (includes only presentation and dessert).

 

Sponsor Tickets: New Individual Sponsor tickets are available for $750; sponsorship packages start at $5,000. New sponsor levels include a personal tour of The Carle’s exhibition, Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans, at the New-York Historical Society.

 

For more details or to purchase a sponsorship/ticket to the event, please call (413)-658-1118 or visit www.carlemuseum.org/carlehonors2014

 

For media credentials, additional press information and/or images, please contact Alexandra Pearson at Alexandra@rosengrouppr.com or 646-695-7048.

 

 

About The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art:

The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a non-profit organization in Amherst, MA, is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. The only full-scale museum of its kind in the United States, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world. In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy.

 

Eric and Barbara Carle founded the Museum in November 2002. Eric Carle is the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Since opening, the 40,000-foot facility has served more than half a million visitors, including over 30,000 schoolchildren. Its extensive resources include a collection of more than 12,000 picture book illustrations, three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren. Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 12 noon to 5 p.m. with special extended summer hours. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children under 18, and $22.50 for a family of four. For further information and directions, call 413-658-1100 or visit the Museum’s website at www.carlemuseum.org.


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41. My Pet Book by Bob Staake

I am a big fan of the work of Bob Staake and I hope you'll take time at the end of this review to explore his other books, many of which I have reviewed here. His newest picture book, My Pet BOOK, perfectly presents Staake's wacky sensibilities and his colorfully crowded world while expressing the joys of books and reading at the same time. Set in Smartytown, we meet a boy who wants a

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42. Top Ten Things You May Have Missed in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, the city of distractions, proved to be an entertaining and exciting location for my first Annual Conference. With so many wonderful restaurants, an energetic exhibit hall, and lots of great meetings and sessions to attend, it was very easy to miss out on something. The following list highlights 10 things you might have missed at Annual 2014:

1.  The Long but Super Fast Registration Line!

registration lineWith over 18,000 people attending ALA Annual in Las Vegas, it is no surprise that the registration lines got a little long. As nervous as I was when I first stepped into the line, it went incredibly fast! The staff did a fantastic job getting everyone in and out, all of our questions answered, and communicating their excitement for the conference. Thanks ALA staffers for your hard work leading up to and during the conference!

  1. The Banned Book Video Booth

IMG_0806The energy and excitement at the Banned Book Week Video booth was evident every time I walked by (located near the exhibit hall). Librarians and other library-loving individuals seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to read some of their favorite banned books and talk about the importance of intellectual freedom and free access to materials. One of my favorite moments of the conference was watching a captivating librarian read And Tango Makes Three!

  1. Networking Between Sessions and In The Exhibit Hall!

IMG_0809One of the highlights of every conference is networking with other passionate professionals in our field. While waiting in line to meet Marcus Zusak (who truly is a delight!), I met two charming librarians from around the US. What began as a quick chat about how excited we were to meet Zusak turned into a longer discussion about makerspaces and the maker movement in school and public libraries. Thanks Lynda Reynolds, Director of the Stillwater Public Library (Oklahoma) and Jessica Stewart, Librarian at The Meadows School in Nevada for the great conversation!

  1. Author Meet and Greets
IMG_0812 IMG_0817

Every time the exhibit hall was open, there seemed to be at least one fantastic author signing copies of our favorite books and answering some of our best questions. Each author seemed pleased when I told them I felt like I was meeting a rock star (which to us, authors and illustrators are our rock stars!). Two of my favorites this trip were Kadir Nelson and Tom Angleberger.

  1. Dinner with Friends from Afar

IMG_0814Conferences are some of the best times to get together with other professionals from near and far to eat dinner, relax, and enjoy both library and non library conversation. Las Vegas in particular had some of the best restaurants to choose from, and the air conditioning offered an appreciated chance to rehydrate and reenergize.

  1. The Scholastic Literary Brunch

IMG_0818Over a hundred youth librarians gathered in one of the ballrooms at Caesars one morning to eat, network, and listen to some wonderful authors talk about and read from their new books. In groups of three, authors performed an excerpt from their new books reader’s theater style. It was a really wonderful experience!

  1. The Starbucks Line (A Great Place for Networking!)

IMG_0837No surprise, but librarians love their coffee! The line at the Starbucks next to the exhibit hall always seemed to be out the door, but the coffee was good and the conversation was always great!

  1. The Comic Book, Graphic Novel, and Trade Paperback Aisle in the Exhibit Hall

IMG_0844As a first-time ALA Annual attendee, the comic book, graphic novel, and trade paperback aisle in the exhibit hall was an unexpected treat! While there, I got to meet so many wonderful artists and writers; Stacey King, an author for UDON Entertainment’s upcoming “Manga Classics” line was wonderful to talk to, signed my books, and posed for quite a few pictures!

  1. The ALSC Membership Meeting

The 2014 ALSC Membership Meeting offered a great opportunity to chat with other youth librarians, meet members of the ALSC board, hear about the awards and accomplishments of professionals in our field, and discuss the very important white paper The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children. If you have not read it yet, I encourage you to stop reading this blog and go check it out at http://www.ala.org/alsc/importance-diversity.

10. Your Flight!

IMG_0798Flight delays were plentiful on the way home from Annual due to thunderstorms in the Midwest and Northeast. Anyone flying anywhere near Chicago was probably stranded either in Vegas or somewhere along your route!

 

Thank you so much to everyone who agreed to be pictured in this blog and to everyone who made my first ALA Annual Conference such a wonderful experience! A very special thank you to everyone involved in helping me attend my first ALA Annual Conference, especially everyone involved in the Penguin Young Readers Group Award. I look forward to seeing everyone at Midwinter 2015 in Chicago and Annual 2015 in San Francisco!

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

IMG_0661Our guest blogger today is JoAnna Schofield.  JoAnna is an Early Childhood Librarian at the Highland Square Branch Library, part of the Akron-Summit County Public Library System in Akron, Ohio. She passionately enjoys her toddler, preschool, and school age programming and outreach. She is eagerly awaiting her great artists themed preschool story time series and her STEAM after school club this fall. When she is not connecting with the Highland Square community, she is training for her first half-marathon this September, spending time with her family at the Akron Zoo, and looking at the newest memes of Grumpy Cat. Her inspiration comes from her three beautiful children: Jackson (4), Parker (3), and Amelia Jane (16 months). She can be reached at jschofield@akronlibrary.org.

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

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

 

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43. Going Weekly-Prizeless (and Robot) Update


We are within ten days of the end of our SLP. We'll figure out final numbers and the upshot in August.

For now, we can say that we have stayed busy and lots of return-adventurers have come back to help us build our robot with their stickers. The excitement of the gamecard design and stickers seems great for the kids and we have YET to hear kids or parents bemoan no weekly doo-dads. While we also included a charity component (our Friends will donate money to the Human Society, Eco Park and Children's Museum based on the kids reading), this has not seemed as motivational as the very visual robot slowly building.

We dreamed the robot like this in this first mini-model. Staff had a little trepidation on how it would all work.  We used quarter sheets of paper that kids could sticker as they went along.  This is how our robot has been growing:


Early June

Early July

Late July
Kids have loved watching the robot get bigger and bigger. Staff has loved NOT dealing with weekly doo-dads. Has the fact that we aren't offering weekly prizes but only the book at the end affected overall return visits to the library? We may be surprised (unpleasantly or pleasantly). Stay tuned for final results next month when we shake out the numbers from our database!

To read about our journey, please stop here, here and here!















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44. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin

The Five Lives of Our Cat ZookYou probably have deduced from the title that this book has a pet with questionable health and are ready to move on to the next review because you don’t like sad stories about animals…but please don’t! This is a certainly a story that features a very sick cat, but also manages to be a feel good story, a slice of Oakland, CA urban life, a sweeping fairy tale, a love story, and realistic tale about a 10-year-old girl navigating her world.

Oona Armstrong is that 10 year-old girl and her life is a complicated one. Her father passed away after a long battle with cancer, her 5 year-old brother Freddy just recently started talking and eating again after the loss of their father, and her cat, Zook (short for Zucchini) is very old and very sick, and her mother has a new boyfriend named Dylan, but Oona refers to him only has “The Villian.”

Oona copes by telling whoppers; so many whoppers that she has a color coding system for all of the different types of whoppers she tells. The best whoppers are the stories she creates for Freddy. Fairy tales that are crafted from memories their father told her that help explain the world to a 5 year-old, including the four lives prior to the one that their cat Zook is currently living.

Oona’s whoppers get her into some trouble, but they also make her and Freddy’s life much more bearable and the beauty of this book is watching how those whoppers eventually help her family move on from very tough times. We have to experience some sorrow to find joy and this book is a perfect example of that.

Posted by: Kelly


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45. Dead Man's Knock

The Unwritten Vol. 3: Dead Man's Knock Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly

So, there’s a new Tommy Taylor book coming, and it’s terrible. But will Wilson Taylor show, or is this just a cabal ploy to get to Tom? Either way, this is one book release party with a body count.

Also, who is Lizzie? Is she really escaped from Dickens?

And here’s where I started to get a better sense of what, exactly is happening in this world, and it wasn’t really what I thought it would be, which is awesome. I like how it explores Lizzie’s backstory with a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type issue (although it was really hard to read by booklight!)

Oh, and Richie becomes a vampire.

It's hard to talk about this one without giving it all away. But mostly, this is the one where it starts to make sense and where I really started getting into the series.

Book Provided by... my local library

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

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46. The Poetry Friday Party is HERE!


Welcome to the Poetry Friday party!

Today is the perfect day to go public with our plans for our next installment in The Poetry Friday Anthology series! Drum roll…


The Poetry Friday Anthology for CELEBRATIONS!

We’ll be gathering poems related to more than 100 holidays (like Halloween and July 4th), occasions (like graduation and the first day of school), and odd and interesting events (like Left Handers Day or National Yo-Yo Day). Our audience will be young children and the librarians, teachers, and families who care for them. Once again, we’ll provide “Take 5” activities for every poem.

Plus, this time we’ll be experimenting with multiple formats, each containing separate poems that, together, will form the whole book:

*some poems in paperback
*some poems presented digitally
*some poems on Pocket Poems™ cards

Ready, set, write!
If you’re interested in contributing a poem, we’ll be sharing our guidelines in September; you can email us after Sept. 1 at info@pomelobooks if you'd like to know more then.


SAMPLE POEM
Meanwhile, here’s just a sample of what we’re planning—a sample poem and Take 5!activities to accompany the poem. What’s the celebration? It’s National Dog Day! Coming up on August 26, we’ll be celebrating the 10thanniversary of this canine commemoration, first initiated in 2004 by the National Dog Day Foundation.

Hooray for Dogs!
by Janet Wong

Hooray for
search-and-rescue dogs
who help us 
when we’re lost

Hooray for
dogs we boss around
who don’t mind 
being bossed

Hooray for
dogs who sit and stay
and play fetch
with a ball

Pugs and poodles,
mutts and labs—
we love you,
drool and all!

SAMPLE Take 5! ACTIVITIES

1. Before reading this poem aloud, display some picture books about dogs or a stuffed animal dog as a backdrop or prop. Read the poem aloud slowly and pause briefly between each stanza.

2. Share the poem again and invite children to chime in on the word, “Hooray” with zest and enthusiasm while you read the rest of the poem aloud.

3. Talk about the story behind this celebration also known as International Dog Day and National Dog Appreciation Day and how dogs are helpers: working with police, assisting those with visual or other impairments, in drug detection, searching for lost people, and pulling victims from wreckage, for example. (FYI: NationalDogDay.com)

4. Pair this poem with this picture book:
When You Wander: A Search-and-Rescue Dog Storyby Margarita Engle and illustrated by Mary Morgan (Holt, 2013). Read the book aloud and talk about the recommended steps for what to do when lost.

5. Follow up by reading aloud more poems about dogs, such as selections from:
*Ashman, Linda. 2008. Stella, Unleashed. New York: Sterling.
*Florian, Douglas. 2003. Bow Wow Meow Meow. San Diego: Harcourt.
*Franco, Betsy. 2011. A Dazzling Display of Dogs. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle.
*Rosen, Michael J. 2011. The Hound Dog’s Haiku and Other Poems for Dog Lovers. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
*Singer, Marilyn, 2012. Every Day's a Dog's Day: A Year in Poems. New York: Dial.


And don’t forget to check out our previous installments (each featuring previously unpublished poems and related Take 5! activities for every poem):

Now let us know what you’re up to on this Poetry Friday in the COMMENTS section below. We’ll be rounding up throughout the day.

Here's what our Poetry Friday party-goers are up to this week:

First up is Buffy Silverman who has posted an original poem that appears in this month's Ladybug Magazine. Congratulations, Buffy! Check it out here

Laura has a poem from J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyons' forthcoming collection, VOICES FROM THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON over at TeachingAuthors.


Linda is featuring a poem from INNER CHIMES over at WriteTime.


Monica has reviewed a rhyming picture book, BY WATER'S EDGE by Kay Barone, here.


Irene is sharing some of wonderful Walter Dean Myers's poems here




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Credits: Pictomizer.com; Giphy,com; Xray.fm/shows/hooray; NationalDogDay.com; TechInsights.com; BuzzInTown.com; PCCast.Blogspot.com; PomeloBooks

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47. Soon to Be Famous Author Winner, School Librarian Joanne Zienty

Soon to Be Famous Author Winner, School Librarian Joanne Zenty

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48. El Deafo, by Cece Bell

After an illness at age 4, Cece loses her hearing.  She is soon equipped with a hearing aid that involves wearing a pouch around her neck attached to some "ear globs".  Cece is happy to hear again, but now has to learn how to understand once more.  To top things off, Cece now has to go to a new school.

A good thing about the new school is the other kids are wearing hearing aids too, and Cece is learning some useful skills like lip reading and using visual, context and gestural clues to help in understanding.  Cece is just finding her way, when her family decides to leave the city and head to the country, where she will be going to a regular school.

Cece gets a brand-new-BIG-for-school-only-around-the-neck hearing aid (The Phonic Ear) that comes with a microphone for her teacher to wear and is superpowerful.  What nobody expects is that it comes with the added feature of having a super long range, allowing Cece to hear not only her teacher teaching, but whatever her teacher is doing when she is out of the room as well (yes...even *that*!).

Cece has to negotiate the things that all kids go through at school - including navigating a friend who is not-so-nice, and getting her first crush.  Things unique to her situation include dealing with friends who TALK TOO LOUD AND TOO SLOW, and those who refer to her as their "deaf friend".

This is more than a graphic memoir - it is a school and family story for all kids.  Cece is an imaginative and emotional kid with whom readers will identify.  There is an accessibility to Bell's art that immediate draws you in and you can't help but cheer with her successes and cringe with her tears.  Fans of Telgemeier and Varon will readily scoop this up off of the shelves, and it *will* be passed hand to hand.  I am certain I will see many doodles of Cece and her friends in the margins of writer's notebooks this coming school year.  Do yourself a favor...get more than one!

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49. I AM A WITCH’S CAT

We’re so excited to share with you I AM A WITCH’S CAT, available this week, written and illustrated by Harriet Muncaster.

I Am a Witch's Cat

We in the HCCB School & Library department are pretty huge fans of tiny things (dollhouse food, figurines, these amazing things . . . you name it), and we couldn’t be more delighted to have found a kindred spirit in Harriet Muncaster. Harriet’s book tells the story of a little girl who believes that her mother is a good witch and that she is a special witch’s cat, and it’s illustrated with photographs of handmade miniatures—characters, furniture, accessories, and details, all lovingly crafted and composed into scenes. We just love it to pieces.

Harriet was kind enough to give us a behind-the-scenes looks at her process for creating the fantastic art from I AM A WITCH’S CAT.

Harriet Muncaster:

I have always been fascinated by tiny things. When I was young I spent my time making miniature houses and clothes and writing minuscule fairy letters. That love of tiny things has never left me, and so, when I took illustration as my degree at university, it felt almost natural to start making my pictures in 3D. I create dollhouse-sized scenes (or sets, as I call them) out of cardboard and fabric and then photograph them to make a flat picture.

In these photos, you can see some of the process I go through to make the scenes. If it is a room, I usually start with a box-like shape and then put in the flooring and wallpaper. I either paint the wallpaper on or make it on the computer and stick it on as you would proper wallpaper (like in the bedroom scene below)!

Beginnings of the bedroom scene

Beginnings of the bedroom scene

 

The furniture is made from card stock. It gives me a lot of freedom to make everything from card because I can literally make it into any shape I like. I can use the card to make something really fancy or really plain and in whatever style I like.

I also like the way one can use lighting when creating a 3D picture. It is possible to really set the mood by using different sorts of atmospheric lighting. My favourite bit of lighting in the book is the scene where Witch’s Cat is saying goodbye to her Mom at the door and the coloured glass in the door is shining against the wall in a rainbow pattern. I got this effect by using coloured cellophane sweet wrappers and then shining a light behind them.

9

Experimenting with some lighting filters made from coloured cellophane chocolate wrappers as seen in the hallway scene

 

The hardest thing to make in the book was the trolley in the supermarket scenes. It took me absolutely ages and was extremely difficult and fiddly to make! It’s definitely the most delicate thing in the whole book.

8

The checkout scene in full, with trolley

 

One of my favourite things to make in the book was the patchwork quilt on the bed. I just love the colours in it, which are quite autumnal. I tried to incorporate a lot of autumnal colours into the room scenes, as it is a Halloween book.

1

Trying the mom character for size, with close-up of patchwork quilt

 

It feels very magical when a scene becomes finished and you can look right into it and touch it. It’s a real, tiny little world of its own with its own atmosphere and feel to it. I love how tangible it is!

5

Kitchen scene in the early stages

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Food boxes all ready to be put into the scene.

Thank you so much, Harriet!

Check out Harriet’s great blog for a whole lot of miniature inspiration, including a post about how she created the cover art for I AM A WITCH’S CAT. And in case you haven’t quite had your fill of tiny for the day, here are some bonus photos:

Hallway wallpaper design

Hallway wallpaper design

Design for some of the the food boxes in the shopping scene ready to be printed, cut out and folded into 3d boxes

Design for some of the the food boxes in the shopping scene ready to be printed, cut out, and folded into 3D boxes

Mom character. Checking everything is good with her position and the way she is holding the vacuum cleaner

Mom character. Checking everything is good with her position and the way she is holding the vacuum cleaner

Characters, furniture and accessories all neatly boxed up to be transported for exhibition

Characters, furniture, and accessories all neatly boxed up to be transported for exhibition

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50. Strobe Edge

Strobe Edge Io Sakisaka

I’m just going to review this entire (finished) series because I devoured them all together and it’s too hard for me to separate out each volume, especially as the review part (as opposed to the plot summary part) would basically be a copy/paste job from one volume to the next.

All the girls at Ninako’s school are in love with the quiet and elusive (and totally hot) Ren, but he’s turned them all down. Ninako doesn’t get it, until she ends up next to him on the train home one day. They end up together on the train a lot and become friends, until Ninako’s feelings turn to something more.

Ren rejects Ninanko romantically, because he already has a girlfriend, but the two stay friends as she tries to quash her feelings. Meanwhile, Ren’s former best friend has come to their school and falls for Ninanko. She likes Ando as a friend, but can’t return his love.

I loved Ninanko. She was a little hyper and a lot of fun. She's a bit taken aback when guys like her, but not because of a "but I'm so plain and boring" thing we usually see, but more that she's been too busy being awesome and having fun that she hasn't really noticed guys in that way before, so she's a bit bemused that guys have been noticing her. but she's a great friend and has a good outlook on life--it's not hard for the reader (and her friends) to see why guys like her.

I also like that she actually liked Ren in a way we don’t often see. So halfway through the series, Ren and his girlfriend break up (for reasons I won’t spoil). Everyone tells Ninanko to go for it because now’s her chance, but she doesn’t, because she see Ren’s hurting and he needs her as a friend right then. She really did understand Ren (because they were actual friends) and her love for him isn’t selfishly focused on her--it’s genuine love for him.

I also liked the depth that Sakisaka was able to give to some of the side characters (something you can do over 10 volumes). There are a few bonus stories at the end of volumes that often deal with side characters or something that happened before the series began.

In her many intro letters, Sakisaka says she wanted to capture that heady feeling of falling in love and that moment everything could change (she called the series strobe edge because she compares the feeling to being on the edge of a strobe light, which I really like.) Overall, I think she really succeeds. The series does drag a bit in the middle, which is something I may not have noticed if I hadn’t been binge-reading.

One thing I noticed with this series that I haven’t seen with others* is that we get a lot of letters from the author--both at the start of each volume, but also some random sidebars. I thought it was a fun touch and a behind-the-scenes look at her process and life.

Overall, a fun series that I enjoyed. (Also, shout-out to Drea, who when I asked her which of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens I should read first, pointed me in this direction. THANK YOU DREA!)

*Not that I’ve read a lot of other manga, especially shojo, this just might be a new thing for me

Book Provided by... my local library

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