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1. Chromebooks Are Here!

It has always been First Book’s mission to provide access to new books for children in need.

When children today grow up they will depend not only on their reading skills, but also their skills with technology. That is why First Book is proud to offer new Chromebooks on its marketplace along with other great devices teachers can use to incorporate technology in their classrooms and lessons.

boy with laptop small image

There is no wrong way for a child to become a reader. Whether it’s through one imaginative picture book or the thousands of stories available online, when a child is able to access rich and varied content they improve their skills and flourish as readers.

These kinds of resources also offer children the opportunity to explore what fascinates them about their favorite books and stories, a chance they might not have otherwise. Many of the children First Book serves do not have consistent access to computers or the internet at home. By having Chromebooks or other devices in the classroom they can learn to do their own research to answer questions like, “how much do caterpillars really eat?” or “does the moon need to sleep?”


In First Book’s quest to ensure that every child has access to high-quality books and resources, technology resources like Chromebooks and tablets are the next frontier.

Visit the Devices section on the First Book Marketplace to learn more about Chromebooks and discover all of First Book’s newest technology offerings. Don’t hesitate though, certain resources are only available while supplies last!



The post Chromebooks Are Here! appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. Tween App Review Roundup

Did your tweens and teens get new tablets/devices during the winter holidays? If they haven’t already come into your library asking for advice about apps, they might be soon! Here are some already curated app reviews perfect for teens and tweens. This way you’ll be able to help your young patrons find exactly what they need for their new device!

Photo App:



Reviewed by Karen Jensen, Teen Librarian Toolbox

Review Excerpt: “FotoRus is an app that does multiple things. You can create a collage, add a sticker or edit like a pro using the pro edit feature. My two favorite things about FotoRus are the Mag Library feature (InstaMag) and the PIP (photo in a photo) feature.”


Storytelling App:



Reviewed by Joyce Valenza, Neverending Search

Review Excerpt: ” Plotagon encourages users to script a story–selecting locations; building dialogue;  adding emotions, attitudes and postures;  responding to characters; choosing sound effects and music.”


Art and Architecture App:


Apprentice Architect

Reviewed by Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal:

Excerpt from review: “Touch Press built a highly visual, interactive app with numerous opportunities for exploration, discovery, and creation in Apprentice Architect  (iOS, Free), an introduction to the new, Gehry-designed contemporary art museum in Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton.”


Poetry App:


Reviewed by Wendy Stevens, YALSA Blog

Excerpt from Review: “Lark, Storybird’s Poetry app, is a digital incarnation of a refrigerator magnet poetry set, inspiring creativity within a finite vocabulary set as you move and reorder the words it generates over an image.”


Puzzle Game App:


Last Voyage

Reviewed by Donna Block, YALSA Blog

Review Excerpt: “Last Voyage is an abstract puzzle game inspired by science fiction movies. It features hypnotic, minimalist graphics that often consist of simple geometric shapes; but also more cinematic scenes that pay homage to icons like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.”  (Bonus: mentions of other excellent puzzle game apps!)



Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe

Reviewed by Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Review Exerpt: “Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe immerses viewers in a spectacular look at the mysteries of our solar system and beyond.” (Bonus: on sale for $1.99 now!)


No matter what your tween or teen is interested in, there’s an app out there for them. Let this librarian-reviewed list of apps help you help your patrons!

Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a library consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

The post Tween App Review Roundup appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Ypulse Essentials: College Admissions And Student Debt, ‘Glee’ Gets Gomez And One Direction, iPad = Any Tablet

In the competitive landscape of college admissions (plenty of students get waitlisted and hold out hope that they’ll make it into an exclusive university. But in reality, not many students make it from waitlist to campus at the U.S.’s... Read the rest of this post

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4. Curious business

Children’s book illustrators and anyone absorbed in the curious business of children’s book illustration, Do you find it interesting, as I do that the big commercial for Google’s Nexus 7 features a little girl and her mom reading a Curious George story on the device? Google, in its elegant way used a simple illustrated page from [...]

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5. Digital Update: The New Tablet Scene for Comics

tablets Digital Update: The New Tablet Scene for Comics

by Bruce Lidl

With Thanksgiving (and the various themed shopping days that follow) now past us, the highpoint (or lowpoint depending on your viewpoint) of the annual shopping season has arrived in full force, and according to various trend observers, tablets are once again one of, if not the, thing to give or receive this year.  Unlike in previous years however, when “tablet” actually just meant “iPad,” in 2012 we are finally seeing a bit of diversity in the “portable device that is bigger than a smartphone but doesn’t have a keyboard” category, beyond just the offerings from Cupertino.  And considering what a great fit for comics tablets are proving to be, no matter the specific shape or size, not to mention the ever expanding offerings of digital comics, it is worth a glance to see how the landscape is shaping up for tablets and comics this year.

Amazon released the original Kindle Fire roughly a year ago, and while it has certainly not overtaken the tablet crown from the iPad, it did demonstrate that other companies could compete in the arena, particularly if their device had tight integration into broad content eco-systems (something that all the pre-Fire Android tablets sorely lacked).  Smaller, less powerful, but decidedly cheaper, the Kindle Fire expanded the Kindle brand beyond mere black and white eReaders and helped to legitimize the 7 inch form factor, despite Steve Jobs’ previous dismissals of that format.  Attempting to build on the first Kindle Fire’s success, Amazon has diversified its lineup of tablets this year, offering not just the original Kindle Fire ($159), but expanding with the Kindle Fire HD (same size and shape as original but better a 1280×800 screen, more powerful, etc for $199) and the Kindle Fire HD “8.9 (larger, better 1920×1200 screen, more powerful, etc. for $299).

Barnes & Noble technically beat Amazon to the punch with their Nook Color, a 7 inch Android skinned tablet very similar to the original Kindle Fire, but without the marketing power of Amazon, the Nook Color languished a bit compared to its Kindle competitor.  Nonetheless, B&N (with some financial assistance from Microsoft) is pushing ahead with tablets, and now has an improved Nook HD (better screen, more powerful, etc. for $199) and a larger 9 inch Nook HD+ ($269).  A third entry in the eReader-based Android-skinned tablet competition is the Canada-based Kobo, with a very Kindle Fire-like Kobo Vox ($179) and a newer Kobo Arc (better screen, more powerful, etc. $249).

The offerings from Amazon, B&N and Kobo share some fundamentals, notably they are essentially modified Android tablets, with strong integration with their respective online retailers. All of them do, however, allow the installation of Android apps so with some basic technical know-how they can each provide access to each other’s stores, or other independent markets.  An owner of a Nook HD could conceivably purchase content from B&N, Amazon or any of the comics publishers affiliated with Comixology, iVerse or their own stores (like Dark Horse).  Hence, preferences between these pretty similar devices will likely depend more on comfort with a particular retailer than any noticeable specification or app differences at a particular price point.

Of course, the hitherto dominant figure in the tablet world remains the iPad, and Apple continues to iterate the device now in its fourth generation.  The big news is, however, the introduction of the iPad mini, the first major deviation from the original iPad format, shrinking the screen down from 9.7 inches to 7.85, creating a tablet that is smaller, lighter and more ergonomic, if sacrificing some power and display resolution.  By all indications the iPad mini is proving to be very popular, and has even convinced some Apple observers that the mini is the logical development of the iPad, and the smaller format will become the “default” size ultimately.  On the other hand, the mini goes backwards from a resolution standpoint (1024 x 768) and is not a “retina” display, or even “high definition” by normal understanding.  While the mini obviously benefits from the maturity and depth of the overall iOS experience and App Store, from a specific comic perspective, the advantage the standard iPads have had in displaying graphic storytelling is somewhat blunted in this case.  For $199 the Amazon Kindle HD has a 7 inch display with a resolution of 1280×800, and while resolution is not the only factor when it comes to screen quality, it does create an interesting comparison to the $349 iPad mini.  The fourth generation non-mini iPad retains the larger screen size and high resolution display (2,048 × 1,536) of its predecessor, but did receive a computing power boost and starts at $499.

From a sheer visual quality standpoint, it is hard to beat reading comics on the larger, sharper iPad, but as we have already seen, Android competitors are not sitting still when it comes to resolution, and comics should look fantastic on any of the HD capable models from Amazon or B&N.  The most buzzed about Android tablet this year, however, remains the Nexus 7, the first tablet in Google’s Nexus line of quasi-flagship devices that receive special software attention from Google.  A relatively powerful device for its 7 inch screen size, with HD resolution, no retailer app restrictions and a guarantee of always receiving the latest version of the Android operating system, the Nexus 7 will appeal most to price sensitive power users at $199.  There is also a larger Nexus 10 available, but with a size, screen and price ($399) that borders on iPad territory it is not as compelling an option, although digital comics will certainly look great on it.

Surprisingly, at least to me, what may be the best current “over-all” tablet choice with a comics emphasis is the Barnes&Noble Nook HD+.  It has a large-ish size screen that displays digital comics excellently, has a pretty good price to performance ratio ($269 for the 16GB model), can be rooted for maximum flexibility and compatibility, and even has the ability to expand storage with microSD cards (up to 32GB added).  Still small and light enough to be read in bed comfortably, the Nook HD+ offers many of the benefits of the larger iPad, but at almost half the price.

dc comics nook Digital Update: The New Tablet Scene for ComicsAre you planning on giving or receiving a tablet this year?  Which one do you want, and why?

10 Comments on Digital Update: The New Tablet Scene for Comics, last added: 12/5/2012
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6. The Mobile Author, Part Two: Getting Organized

Part One: The Portable Office

Today, I'm going to cover some mobile apps you can use to manage your mobile workspace.

Organizing Your Workspace

A phone, tablet, or computer quickly becomes a disorganized pile of apps and files. You'll want to make it easier to find your things. It's the difference between having an organized workbench in your garage with all your tools sorted and safely stowed away and having your hammers and screwdrivers scattered throughout your house, stuffed into kitchen junk drawers, or hiding with the dust bunnies under the bed. I know that last "organization" method all too well.

When setting up your mobile writing space, the goal should be to have everything--writing programs, manuscripts, notes, schedules, files, and contacts--as readily available as they would be if you were sitting at your desk. Because you're packing everything into a smaller space, you might even discover that you can be more efficient with a tablet than you can be with all your stuff stacked in piles in and around your desk.

If your device provides multiple pages, take advantage of them. Keep all the icons for your most frequently used writing apps on one page so you don't have to search for them. If your device supports folders, use them to further organize your stuff. If folder support isn't built-in, there's an app for that.

Create shortcuts to your favorite websites (like, ahem, this blog) and keep them handy. Use an app like Pocket to store info you find on the Web so it's handy, even when you are not connected.

Apps that you want to access quickly, like your camera and your note-taking app, should never be more than a tap or two away. If you have to search for anything you need in your mobile office, you could probably organize your workspace better.

Your organization scheme should be a natural extension of the way you work, and will differ from person to person, but the key to a successful mobile office is keeping everything you need within easy reach. You should never have to look for anything.  It's just there.

Your Filing Cabinet

Of course, you'll want to have your files wherever you go. You can carry a flash drive or external hard disk (with an OTG cable, if you use a tablet) with you, but the cloud is perfect for storing essential files. If you use Google Drive, Dropbox, or a similar service, your files are available anywhere without requiring you to carry more stuff with you. 

If you have a file on one device but not the others, you can use a Bluetooth program, such as the aptly named Bluetooth File Transfer app, to copy the file between devices.

An app like Android's AirDroid is essential if you want to manage your mobile devices from your computer, including moving files around, without even plugging in a cable from the device to the computer. I don't know if there's a similar app on iOS devices, but if you use Android, this one is a must.

Manage your mobile device wirelessly with AirDroid

And, if you really want to get fancy, you can use a remote access app, such as PocketCloud (Android or iOS), to actually access your Windows or Mac computer from your mobile device. With one of these apps, your tablet or phone becomes a sort of remote control for your "real" computer. You can run programs on your computer and edit that file you forgot about, then transfer it to your Dropbox so it's available wherever you are.  You could even remotely access your computer, find the file you need, and use AirDroid to transfer the file directly to your tablet. These kinds of programs tend to run slower than using the computer itself, and feel a little glitchy, but they're great when needed--as long as your computer is turned on, even if you're not home. If you're computer is off or asleep, you can't access it.

The recently released Google Remote Desktop also lets you access your computer from your mobile devices (Android and iOS). It's similar to PocketCloud, but feels a little less laggy. There are some things I can do on PocketCloud that I haven't figured out yet on Remote Desktop, like keyboard combinations, and the way you move the cursor around is odd for a touch screen app, but it looks promising. Unlike PocketCloud, with Remote Desktop you can use your tablet and your computer at the same time, if you ever need to. Whatever you do on your remote desktop also shows up on your computer's screen.

Next Step

Now that your portable office is ready and organized, you'll want to organize your work. Come back next week to find out how to use your mobile device to track your time and your tasks, and to keep your project notes handy.

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7. The Tablet Takeover: What It Means For Reaching Millennials

Tablets were the top item on Millennials’ holiday wish lists — both young kids and older Millennials named the iPad as their most desired holiday gift. And many of them got what they wanted. According to stats released last week from Pew... Read the rest of this post

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8. The Chimerist: my and Laura Miller’s new site

ipad lock screen

One thing I really like about my friend Laura Miller is that she, like me, is fascinated by literature and technology, and interested in the places they meet. Sometimes that intersection feels like a lonely place to hang out.

We both have iPads and (though we’re appalled by Apple’s employment practices) are excited about the potential of tablet computers. But we haven’t found many sites that talk about them in the way we would like would like them to be talked about. So we decided to start The Chimerist: Two iPad lovers at the intersection of art, stories, and technology. My first post is here, and, if you’re also a tablet lover, we’re looking for your screenshots.

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9. Ypulse Essentials: Kids’ Choice Award Nominations, Tweens And Tablets, Pinterest Is Addictive

We just got an eyeful of the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award nominees (and we think these awards will be harder to call than the Grammys — who will win best movie: Muppets, Smurfs, Harry Potter, or Alvin & The Chipmunks?! We’ll... Read the rest of this post

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10. Antiquity and newfangleness

By Andrew Zurcher

The “Februarie” eclogue of Edmund Spenser’s pastoral collection, The Shepheardes Calender, was first published in 1579. It presents a conversation between two shepherds, a brash “Heardmans boye” called Cuddie and an old stick-in-the-mud named Thenot. The two of them meet on a cold winter day and get into an argument about age: Cuddie thinks Thenot is a wasted and weak-kneed whinger, while Thenot blames Cuddie for his heedless and slightly arrogant headstrongness. To support his position, Thenot tells a moralising tale about an ambitious young briar and a hoary oak. In his eagerness to flaunt his brave blooms full in the sun, the briar persuades a local husbandman to chop down the mossy tree; but the end of the tale turns bitter for the little plant when, deprived of the sheltering support of his onetime neighbour, he is utterly blown away in a heavy gale. Thenot is in the middle of applying the moral of his tale when Cuddie interrupts, and leaves in a huff – petulant and dismissive to the last. As the eclogue breaks off, the reader is caught in an old-fashioned and hackneyed dilemma: is it better to embrace the beautiful but rootless new, or cling to the solid, gnarled old?

June Aegloga Sexta. Source: New York Public Library.

The Shepheardes Calender poses this gnarled horn of a problem in the middle of a printed book that, itself, has already begun to play in a very material way with the tensions between antiquity and newfangleness. Spenser’s eclogues are conspicuously modeled on those of Theocritus and Virgil, Marot and Mantuan. The poems were first published elaborated with E.K.’s prefaces, his introductions (or “Arguments”) to each of the twelve “aeglogae,” and his explanatory notes. These annotations are presented in a Roman type that contrasts visually with the black letter of Spenser’s poetry, framing it in a style that emulated early modern editions of Virgil’s eclogues, as well as the theological and legal texts that, in this humanist period, were often produced entirely engulfed in glosses and comments. Each of the eclogues is also accompanied by a woodcut, done in a rough style, and concludes with an “embleme” apiece for each of the eclogue’s interlocutors. These archaising features belie the novelty of Spenser’s project – the first complete set of original pastoral poems in English, and a collection that, in its allegorical engagement with the history of England’s recent and successive reformations, put this country and its fledgling literary culture on the map. Here at last was England’s Virgil, said Spenser himself. Just look at his book. But is it an old book, or a new book? Is it new-old, or old-new? What is the meaning of the new, if it be not interpreted by the old?

One of the most exciting aspects digitizing works such as in the Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO) project is

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11. Ypulse Essentials: Angry Birds Take On The Final Frontier, Generation Screwed?, Smokeless College Campuses

We expect workers and students will experience a massive dip in productivity next month… (Nope, not because of the March Madness tournament, but because of an all-new Angry Birds game. This time, the flustered fowl are flinging themselves... Read the rest of this post

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12. The Shift To Streaming Happens At Age 18

Millennials are used to getting what they want when they want it. They can get immediate answers to questions thanks to Google and Bing; they can read the news as it happens on Facebook and Twitter; and they can watch TV shows on their own schedules... Read the rest of this post

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13. Ypulse Essentials: The White House Gets Millennials, Tablets For Kids, Millennial Spending

Michelle Obama will be making her first appearance on Nick’s Kids’ Choice Awards this weekend (presenting Taylor Swift with the Big Help Award. The First Lady won the award herself in 2010 for the Let’s Move! Campaign. In other... Read the rest of this post

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14. Ypulse Essentials: Cartoon Network’s Upfront Announcements, ‘Anchorman’ Sequel In 2013, YouTube’s Search For Its Next Star

Cartoon Network is turning 20 this year, and it reveled in its position as the #1 network for 6 to 11 year old boys (during its upfront presentation this week. The network officially announced a few shows that we knew were coming — including... Read the rest of this post

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15. Ypulse Essentials: RIP HP TouchPad, The OED Adds More Gen Y Lingo, BBM Music?

Tablets are everywhere these days (but unfortunately HP couldn’t handle all the competition. Despite their huge marketing push with stars like Lea Michele and Russell Brand behind them — literally! — HP discontinued the device after less than... Read the rest of this post

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16. Ypulse Essentials: ‘Teens React’ Web Series, Digital Devices, Bieber’s Charity Christmas Album

Want to know which YouTube videos teens like the best (and their reactions to pop culture? Well now you can in the upcoming YouTube show aptly called “Teens React.” The Fine Brothers have been creating the web show “Kids React,” for years... Read the rest of this post

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17. Youth Research Roundup: Teens, Bullying & Social Media; New Ypulse Report; The Modern Family & More

Today we bring you another installment of the latest youth research available for sale or download. Remember if your company has comprehensive research for sale that focuses on youth between the ages of 8 and 24, email us to be included in the next... Read the rest of this post

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18. Ypulse Essentials: Facebook’s Open Graph In Action, Another ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Reboot, HootSuite University

Here’s a roundup of some of the best ways that brands are using Facebook’s new Open Graph (to encourage their fans to share their brand interactions on the site. We’re big fans of Ticketmaster’s mashup with Spotify’s... Read the rest of this post

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19. Ypulse Essentials: Shopping With Social Media, Kindle Fire Steals Market Share, Teens Take On Twitter

Pinterest is growing rapidly and has quickly become the #5 social network (in terms of driving retail traffic, behind Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Yahoo!, and ahead of Google+. It makes sense considering the site’s large female following... Read the rest of this post

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