Saturday, February 6, 2016

This week at the library; or, fakewinterblues

One of my Rock 'n' Read book club attendees created
a model London Eye, after we read Siobhan Dowd's
The London Eye Mystery
What's happening in my head and at the library
  • Monday
    • Read with Pearl (cancelled)
    • Oy. Packing outreach baskets, sending out emails, meetings, meetings, planning, crazy. On top of all that it's not even snowing! And I can see the grass!
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions) (Pattie)
    • Bookaneers
    • Everyone was expecting vast amounts of snow. It rained. It slushed. It iced. I am disappointed. A fairly large group came to book club anyways though.
  • Wednesday
    • Winter Wigglers: Dance Party
    • Lakeland outreach tour (Jess)
    • It snowed for, like, 5 minutes. While I was walking to the car OF COURSE. Vast amounts of paperwork were tackled today.
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Messy Art Club: Valentines
    • Tap to Play
    • Eh. Everything was just kind of meh. Kids had fun making Valentines and Pattie and I discussed the woes of the world while cutting up cardboard squares since nobody came to Tap to Play
  • Friday
    • No kids programs, but I came in late b/c I was supervising the knit-in until 10pm. Very busy last few hours of the day!
Projects in Progress or Completed
  • New Take Home Storytimes - ABC and Penguins
  • Jess made a new I Spy Aquarium
  • Updating and putting together new toy bags
  • Paperwork - evaluations, continuing education, and performers
  • CE and Meetings
    • Department heads staff meeting
    • Youth Services department staff meeting
What the kids are reading
  • Pulled over 200 books for remote collections
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • easy readers - Tinkerbell and My little pony (don't have any at that low a level)
  • Fake Mustache
  • long discussion with small child about what books she can and can't read
  • More Branches books
  • Amulet
  • Request for middle grade nonfiction! Yay! Hidden like Anne Frank and Boys who challenged Hitler

Friday, February 5, 2016

Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Usually, I really don't care for these slice-of-life type of books and rarely buy them since the kids don't check them out often. But this one really grabbed me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cody is excited about the start of a wonderful summer. She's going to enjoy it with reading, watching ants, and hanging out with her family. But it's a little bumpier than expected with her teen brother Wyatt struggling at his science camp and in love and a maybe new friend named Spencer who has a lost cat. Not to mention her mom's new job that isn't going as well as she'd hoped. Fortunately, after some tears and struggles, all ends well.

I loved the depiction of a warm and loving family going through everyday problems. The characters are realistic and have fights and arguments, especially when Cody's ideas don't turn out as well as she'd hoped, but underneath they're basically kind and trying to do the right thing. Nobody dies, gets divorced, has life-threatening illnesses, etc. It's just a simple story of a happy summer with ups and downs.

Verdict: I really loved this - the writing was lovely, the characters realistic and people I'd want to meet, and whole story was just very happy. I liked that the main characters were diverse without it being the point of the story and that Springstubb didn't fall into the "diverse best friend" trap. On the other hand, I'm not sure how many kids would actually check this out. It's a little long for a beginning chapter book, but not quite long enough for the middle grade kids that will read this type of slice-of-life story. It would make a nice read-aloud for younger kids though. I'll have to think about it some more.

ISBN: 9780763658571; Published 2015 by Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Reindeer Girl by Holly Webb

Lotta is thrilled to take her first journey to Norway and meet her great-grandmother, her oldeforeldre. Even more, she can't wait to see real reindeer! Lotta slowly learns more about the reindeer and her Sami ancestors and their way of life. When she escapes a noisy party to hide with Oldeforeldre, she hears amazing stories and as she drifts off to sleep the stories become real...

Lotta awakes at a very different time and place; she is with a whole clan of Sami, following the reindeer. She experiences adventure, heartbreak, and the warmth of family before awaking. But her adventure has left a special surprise for both her and her great-grandmother.

The simple line illustrations carry over the same sweet, cozy feel of the cover. Although darker points are touched on - Sami children being forced to abandon their heritage and go to school, reindeer dying, etc. there is a gentle, happy feel to the story overall.

Verdict: I really liked this. It introduces a culture and history new to most readers, has cute animals, and is just an overall happy, interesting read. Not available in the US unfortunately though. I don't know how accurate the representation of the Sami is, but it's a nice introduction.

ISBN: 9781847154460; Published 2013 by Little Tiger Press; Purchased with personal funds; Donated to the library

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Small Readers: The Long Dog by Eric Seltzer

Cheerful rhymes and silly pictures fill this book that pays homage to the classic Go, Dogs, Go easy reader.

One after another the dogs parade through the book - cold dogs, hot dogs, black dogs white dogs and a little bit more, every few pages, of that long, long dog. How long is that dog? The book ends with a picture of all the dogs holding up goodbye signs and one last silly sign from the long dog.

The pictures are cheerful, if a little out of focus and fuzzy in some cases, especially in the small details. I personally thought the giant pink bow and skateboard of the gal dog and guy dog was a little annoying - there was no need to stereotype what is supposed to just be silly dogs after all.

The text is bold and clear with short, simple sentences and repeated phrases "This is a high dog./This is a low dog." and is a good fit for kids who need just a few words on each page.

Verdict: Not a stand-out, but a perfectly serviceable filler, especially if you're looking for more level one, very easy easy readers.

ISBN: 9780545746328; Published 2015 by Scholastic; Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils; Donated to the library

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sonya's Chickens by Phoebe Wahl

I feel like there was a little initial buzz about this book and then it seemed to slip from everyone's minds. This is too bad, because it's a wonderful book on several levels.

Sonya, a sturdy girl with rich, dark skin and exuberant curls, is given three speckled chicks by her father. Under her care, they grow into plump, healthy chickens and begin to provide eggs. But one night, there is a disturbance in the coop and when Sonya runs out to check...one chicken is gone. Her father comforts her by telling a story about the hungry fox who wants to feed her family. Sonya makes a grave for her lost chicken, but thinks also of the fox kits in the woods, no longer hungry. She and her family repair the coop and one day one of the eggs begins to hatch!

The illustrations are a rich blend of watercolor, collage and colored pencil. The landscape feels almost like a fantasy forest with towering flowers and tall trees. One of my favorite spreads is a night scene with the trees, buildings, and skyline dimly shown in the dark landscape adn a glowing moon and stars overhead.

It's not a perfect book; in places the text is too lengthy to make a good read-aloud and it occasionally strays into didacticism. However, the rich, lovely illustrations and the simple descriptions of caring for a beloved pet and accepting that sometimes sad things happen are heartfelt and touching.

Verdict: This is a good title to enjoy together with a special listener or to read in an abridged format with a younger group.

ISBN: 9781770497894; Published 2015 by Tundra; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Sunday, January 31, 2016

RA RA Read: Pink and Fancy Picture Books

Glittery, frilly, pink and princessey books are hugely popular with children and parents alike. I personally favor a little "anti-princess" in my pink book recommendations, so you'll see that reflected in some fractured fairy tales and "you can be fancy and still have fun" books.

Series and authors
  • Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor
    • I really like Fancy Nancy because it combines lots of glitz with a down-to-earth family and everyday events and concerns for a child. There's also lots of fun vocabulary!
    • ISBN: 9780060542092
    • Multiple picture books, easy readers, chapter books, and 8x8 tie-ins are available.
  • Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann
    • I have to admit that I, personally, detest these books and some parents agree. The art is flat and lifeless and the stories are poorly written and overly preachy. However, that's definitely a minority opinion - these are extremely popular with most people.
    • ISBN: 9780060776398
    • Additional picture books and easy readers are available
  • Very Fairy Princess by Julie Andrews
    • These stories are similar to Fancy Nancy but with more emphasis on the pink and pretty-pretty than general fanciness. Most of them deal with some event at school or a friendship.
    • ISBN: 9780316040501
    • Sequels, easy readers, and some additional paperback 8x8s are available.
  • Jellybeans and the big dance by Laura Numeroff
    • These are everyday school stories, but there is a lot of glitter, some dancing, and Munsinger's illustrations of plump and fuzzy animals.
    • ISBN: 9780810993525
    • There are several sequels as well as a few board books, although I don't think they make good board book editions.
  • Sarah Gibb's fairy tales
    • While some reviewers find her retellings to be a little flat and blah, it doesn't really matter because her pictures are gorgeous and most small children can't sit still for a long fairy tale anyways.
    • ISBN: 9780807568040 (Rapunzel)
    • ISBN: 9780807506004 (Beauty and the Beast)
    • ISBN: 9780807566305 (The Princess Who Had No Kingdom)
    • ISBN: 9780007526291 (Sleeping Beauty)
Fancy Clothes
  • I had a favorite dress by Boni Ashburn
    • Delicate watercolors by Julia Denos.
    • ISBN: 9781419700163
    • Also a companion, I had a favorite hat
  • Princess Bess gets dressed by Margery Cuyler
    • Features extremely frilly underwear
    • ISBN: 9781416938330
  • Princess Gown by Linda Strauss
    • From the perspective of the family of tailors making the princess' fancy ballgown. The youngest daughter makes a mistake and then tries to fix it.
    • ISBN: 9780618862597 (out of print)
You can be fancy and still have fun (anti-princess books)
  • Princess and the pig by Jonathan Emmett
    • Older kids love this wacky fairy tale about a princess and a pig who change places
    • ISBN: 9780802723345
  • Olivia and the fairy princesses by Ian Falconer
    • Olivia doesn't get why all the other girls want to play is princesses.
    • ISBN: 9781442450271
  • April and Esme, Tooth Fairies by Bob Graham
    • Adorable little tooth fairies on their first mission.
    • ISBN: 9780763646837
  • Pink by Nan Gregory
    • A little girl dreams of having the fancy pink things her friends have, but her family can't afford it.
    • ISBN: 9780888997814 (out of print)
  • Paper princess by Elisa Kleven
    • Delicate, beautiful illustrations and a strong story.
    • ISBN: 9780525452317 (out of print)
  • Princess Super Kitty by Antoinette Portis
    • You can be a princess and a superhero!
    • ISBN: 9780061827259
  • Tea for Ruby by Sarah York
    • Robin Preiss Glasser, who does the illustrations for Fancy Nancy, illustrated this. A little girl tries to remember her manners when she has tea with the queen (aka grandma).
    • ISBN: 9781416954194
Other Titles
  • Princess says goodnight by Naomi Howland
    • ISBN: 9780061455254
  • Penny loves pink by Cori Doerrfeld
    • ISBN: 9780316054584
  • Dollhouse fairy by Jane Ray
    • ISBN: 9780763644116
  • Come to the fairies' ball by Jane Yolen
    • ISBN: 9781590784648

Saturday, January 30, 2016

This week at the library; or, We Melt All The Crayons

My girls, the M-Team. When they were posing with
the fruits of their labors, our first patron saw the new
kitchen and gravitated to it immediately!
What's happening in my head and at the library
  • Monday
    • Playgroup with Pattie
    • Read with Pearl (Jess)
    • Tiny Tots (sub for Pattie)
    • Emergency storytime in the evening - I basically just grabbed random books from the new ones I was checking in. Pearl came and was very white and fluffy. Felt vaguely disorganized but did plan department staff meeting and got through a bunch of misc. small stuff.
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions) (Pattie)
    • Middle School Madness: Dangerous Art
    • I worked on putting together toy bags whilst greeting toddlers in the morning, then I helped our charter school group create a Facebook group, then I went out to Sophos for middle school outreach. I'm only supposed to stay an hour, but the kids were so engrossed in melting crayons with my embossing tool that I stayed an extra 45 minutes!
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies (Pattie)
    • Lakeland Tour/Storytime (Jess)
    • Lego Club
    • Sent a short order for more Valentine's books. Trying to get together all the materials for the remote circulation bags next week and writing complicated emails about outreach and school performances in my head. Next, I will actually write them down and send them.
  • Friday
    • No programs. No school either. I went to a SRP workshop in the morning, had lunch with friends, and then came back and worked on reports, weeding, and toy bags in the afternoon. There may or may not have been an interval of cheese shopping in there.
  • Saturday
    • Pre-work breakfast involved tasty food and much discussion of book catalogs. Work was crazy busy, between people wanting in-depth reference and technology help (not on a Saturday!) tax appointments (next year adult services has promised we won't be doing this) and the local art association picking up their current pictures (I'm the only one tall enough to get the top row!) Phew.
Projects in Progress or Completed
  • Weeding 500s
  • Putting together toy bags
  • CE and Meetings
    • SRP Workshop
What the kids are reading
  • Request for Minecraft games on PS3 and XBOX360
  • Picture books on Washington and Lincoln (teacher saving me time!)
  • Kindergartener who wanted to read a chapter book - Sophia Martinez
  • Lego books, Star Wars
  • Courageous Princess - checked out, ordered the third one
  • Teen Titans Go - second time they've asked, encouraged them to place a hold
  • Tinker Bell
  • Dragonball Z
  • Wall-E
  • Tangled
  • Descendants Isle of the Lost (glad I bought 3 copies)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Shelter Pet Squad: Merlin by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Erin McGuire

Usually, I read the first book in a series, but the first title in this series, Jellybean, has been consistently checked out and since I needed to read this for Cybils I decided to start with the second one.

I knew when I first read the description that kids would love this series and they certainly have. Suzannah loves animals but her apartment doesn't allow any pets so she gets involved with a local pet shelter. In this title, Suzannah and her friends encounter a ferret and learn about them and figure out the best way to get Merlin adopted to a happy home.

There are a couple things that set this series apart from the usual kids-involved-in-animal-shelter fare. First, Suzannah has to deal with being younger than all the other kids at the shelter. She's limited from participating in some activities and a major plotline in the book is how she tries to be seen as more mature in different ways, like choosing a longer book when they're learning about ferrets, but learns it's ok to ask for help.

I also liked that they showed the animals not just going to happy homes but all the work that went into caring for them and making sure the right people were adopting them. The art is fairly standard black and white pictures. It breaks the story up, but doesn't add a lot to the book in general.

Verdict: You can never have too many of this type of series and this is a popular one. A mildly diverse cast, plenty of helpful information, and a nice length between beginning chapter book and middle grade make this stand out a little from the rest. Definitely recommend this to your Critter Club, Puppy Place, Vet Volunteers, and Animal Ark fans.

ISBN: 9780545635998; Published 2015 by Scholastic; Purchased for the library

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Petlandia by Peter Hannan

Madame Wigglesworth manages to tolerate the humans who worship her until they turn their attention to a new object of adoration: A pup named Grub. She can't take it any more! A few evil schemes later and the human Finkleblurts are out of the house for good and Madame Wigglesworth has founded Petlandia. Naturally, she will be the first dictator, ahem, president that is. But she didn't count on lovestruck Honeybaked Hamster voting for....Grub?? Things escalate quickly to all-out civil war. Will peace ever return to Petlandia?

Hannan's scratchy black and white cartoons are an excellent fit for the story. Madame Wigglesworth's vampire-like fangs, the teeny-bopper Honeybaked, nasty rats, and droolingly ridiculous Grub snarl and fight their way through an increasingly untidy background, ending with a stomach-turning scene with worms.

On the one hand, I read this and thought "Bad Kitty for kids who like Cartoon Network". On the other hand, I read this and thought "this has no redeeming qualities other than being grossly funny". The characters are stupid and/or nasty, and the ending is ridiculous.

Verdict: Not surprisingly, the author has done a lot of work on Nickelodeon and fans of that brand of humor will eat this up. It's a graphic blend - primarily text with spot illustrations - so a nice compromise for parents who don't want their kids reading graphic novels. It's not over the top gross or crude, just has a rather icky feel to it. It reminded me of Apocalypse Bow-Wow only with an actual plot. I'm not exactly going to recommend it, but it will certainly circulate.

ISBN: 9780545162111; Published 2015 by Scholastic; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Small Readers: Katie Fry, Private Eye: The Lost Kitten by Katherine Cox, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Although I'm mostly looking for very beginning easy readers these days, I do occasionally pick up a fun new series for more intermediate beginning readers.

Katie Fry is small but smart. She uses the clues she finds to solve mysteries. When she hears about a lost kitten, she knows it's a mystery she can solve. Sherlock the kitten gives her some clues and she follows them back to find his lost home - and even comes up with an idea so she and Sherlock don't have to part ways at the end of the story.

Vanessa Brantley Newton's art is bright and cheerful with lots of details, unusual for an easy reader. I've enjoyed her art in other books but felt like her art was more fun than the books themselves. Katie Fry is a good match for her peppy, colorful pictures though.

Katie is an upbeat, smart character who's clever without being snarky or annoying. I was a little thrown off by the switch from the everyday mysteries she's solved at the beginning to the talking kitten, but I don't think kids will care.

Verdict: Give this one to kids who aren't quite ready for Critter Club but like mysteries with animals and cute pictures.

ISBN: 9780545666725; Published 2015 by Scholastic; Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils; Donated to the library