Saturday, October 22, 2016

This week at the library; or, The calm before the storm

What's Happening
Maybe I shouldn't write these titles before the week begins. Calm? What calm? It was a crazy week!
  • Monday
    • Autism Support Group
    • I took the day off to finish some work at home - writing, reviewing, and some other projects. Like making a giraffe.
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • Very busy day. Catching up on all the things that accumulated over the weekend and my Monday off.
  • Wednesday
    • No outreach? What will we do? All the things. I swear the teens have gone insane. You leave for ONE DAY....
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies (open playgroup)
    • Lego Club
    • Some days all you can say is that nobody died (yes, the teens have been biking through the parking lot again. We have discussed this people!). I tried to get things done around my program etc. but it was just too busy.
  • Friday
    • We were closed for our staff work day. We had an all-staff meeting - we can only do this a couple times a year and even now not everyone can come, like my teen aides. We had some training for those who wanted/needed it on using the staff side of the catalog. Then we all worked on projects. Some major moving projects for the adult department, city guys came to help out with moving shelves, I worked on various projects and the basement. Went home a little before 4. I'll do pictures later of the rearrangement of the teen area.
Professional Development and Other Projects
  • I've been reading Melissa Stewart even more closely, as I chair the Cybils nonfiction category and this was a simple but clear post on why we Dewey - in neighborhoods and in our juvenile nonfiction section.
  • I made a short Utube video of our Lego Building Club over the years. Very short.
  • Working on Fairy Tale Adventure
  • Working on toy collection
Reader's Advisory
  • reluctant reader about 9, likes animals and riordan but only on audiobook. recommended dog diaries, heroes of olympus, and ninja meerkats
  • about 1st grade, ready for beginning chapter books but wants pictures, struggles to read comics. recommended Branches (esp. Boris)
  • seasons
  • animal tracks
  • Halloween crafts
  • high level reader who doesn't like "bad guys". Recommended Henry Reed, Farley Mowat, and Paddington. Parent also took Clementine.
  • easy reader questions. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Blast Back! Ancient Egypt by Nancy Ohlin, illustrated by Adam Larkum

I am so excited about this new series; it's a nonfiction, beginning chapter book which is perfect for my Magic Tree House fans and for my book clubs!

After a brief introduction, the book walks readers through the basic geography, religion, culture, and history of Ancient Egypt. It packs a lot of information into a little over 100 pages, including daily life, famous rulers, important events, and some natural history. The last few chapters talk about the end of the Ancient Egyptian civilization as it was conquered by the Romans and how archaeologists learn about the past, including the Rosetta Stone. It finishes with some of the legacy of Ancient Egypt.

The book includes a list of future topics for the series, a simple bibliography and biographies of the creators.

Larkum's line drawings add the perfect note of humor, while not caricaturing the customs or people. They have a classic cartoon feel and break the text up just enough.

I was rather disappointed with Little Bee's Hideous History series, but this is just right. It's the perfect length and interest level for beginning readers, includes a reasonable amount of information without being too graphic or one-sided, includes sources, and is both fun and informative. It's also available in both hardcover and paperback.

Verdict: I will buy them all! You should buy them all too! I can't wait to use them in book club. The only question in my mind now is where to put them - with our paperback beginning chapter series or in the juvenile nonfiction?

ISBN: 9781499801163; Published April 2016 by Little Bee; Review copy provided by the publisher at BEA

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner

[Digging through the archives...]

I write this on a cold evening in March when my internet has mysteriously died again, sigh, and I am on a review splurge. So.

Claire Boucher loves to ice skate. She skates on the pond by her family’s maple farm, she teaches smaller children in their skating club, and she’s been working for months on a solo routine for the Maple Show with her warm and beloved coach. She loves their maple farm, her best friend Natalie who is a keeps bees, and math. Then Groshev, a famous skating coach, shows up at the Maple Show and offers her a scholarship to train at Lake Placid. Claire isn’t sure how she feels about this. Her older cousin, Charlotte, is in training to be a professional skater and she knows it’s hard. She’s not sure she wants to give up so much. But everyone thinks it’s the opportunity of a lifetime, everyone is making sacrifices so she can go, so…she does.

She finds out it’s harder – and more painful - than she had expected. She barely has time for her schoolwork, let alone her friends and her family. Groshev isn’t warm and understanding like her old coach, and the competition is fierce. Worst of all, some of the other girls will do anything to discourage her, from mean whispers to vandalism. Is it worth it? Does Claire really want to be a professional ice skater? If she does, does she have what it takes?

Messner does an excellent job not only portraying the competition, ambition, and squabbles in an extremely competitive sport but also the real characters of the people involved. She doesn’t sugarcoat the emotional and physical hardships that accompany this competitive sport, but she also writes enthusiastically and beautifully about the people who enjoy it and the beauty of figure skating. Claire is a wonderful character, realistically excited and nervous about trying something new and difficult, confused and hurt as she tries to fit into another world, and finally triumphant as she stands up for herself and makes her own decisions. There is a little bit of innocent romance as she makes friends with a boy in her skating group, but the main focus of the story is on Claire and her trials and triumphs.

Verdict: Highly recommended. I think it’s mainly going to appeal to girls, since so much of the story is focused on Claire and her female friends and enemies, but it will definitely appeal to any middle grade or young teen girl who likes realistic stories, whether or not she’s into skating or other sports. I would really like to buy this one but I don’t think I can fit it into my budget; I’ve already bought a lot of “girl” realistic fiction this year. However, I will crunch a few more numbers and we’ll see…

[Revisited: This title is still in print and still popular in my library. I don't know that I've ever gotten any boys to read it, but girls like the mild romance and the ice skating aspect. The cover hasn't dated much and it's available in both hardcover, paperback, and prebound]

ISBN: 9780802720818; Published December 7, 2010 by Walker Childrens; Borrowed from another library; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Small Readers: The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat

Elephant and Piggie are gone but not forgotten. Mo Willems has started a new imprint, with stories introduced and epilogued by the duo, featuring a variety of fun, well-known authors and illustrators.

One of the first two books is written by Dan Santat, creator of Beekle and other favorites. Hippo, Croc, and the squirrel siblings have a plate of delicious cookies. But there are only three! Someone will not get a cookie! Or will they? Fractions and hilarity ensue.

I have loved Dan Santat ever since I encountered his illustrations in Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies (ask me about the stuffed vampire bunny with hypnotic eyes I sewed) but I have to admit this wasn't all I had hoped for. Is it funny? Yes. Is the addition of fractions subtly and skillfully done? Yes. Are the illustrations and speech bubbles delightfully positioned? Yes. Is it a good easy reader? Well....

Santat's style is colorful with sharp lines and edges but also tends toward the crowded and close-ups. I felt like a lot of the story was shouting in my face and the rapid jumps from capitals to smaller fonts was disconcerting. Also, for readers trying to practice fluency and comprehension, expecting them to pick up on the mathematical concepts is too much.

Verdict: Will kids love this? Absolutely. Should you buy it? Definitely. It's not necessarily what I'd promote as a great easy reader per say though. It will be a better choice as a read-together or for more advanced readers.

ISBN: 9781484726365; Published 2016 by Hyperion; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Imagine a city by Elise Hurst

This book took me back to many beloved British fantasy classics as soon as I saw its Victorian setting and black and white drawings.

The magical journey begins on an old-fashioned steam train as two children embark on an imaginative journey to a mysterious city where animals mingle with people and strange buildings tower over the crowds. The wind catches umbrellas, swooping the people and animals on the streets off to the next adventure and they fly through the sky on a floating fish, visit a library where the books come alive, and explore all the wonders of the imaginary world. The story ends with the marvelous world held in a globe and the children fast asleep on the train.

I loved the art but felt that it could easily have stood alone without the accompanying text. The words didn't add anything to the plot or the experience of the book itself and were a distraction from delving into the pictures. I don't generally care for rhyming picture books and thought the words were superfluous at best and saccharine at worst, "The past carries on/and sunlight is breathed in a murmuring song" accompanies pictures of a vaulted hall with giant sculptures, skeletons, flying fish and pterodactyls, and a mix of people from a lady wearing a kimono to a fox reading a brochure.

Verdict: Use this as a wordless book to inspire imagination in older children or for quiet readers to pore over on their own. An additional purchase, but one that will resonate with a number of readers.

ISBN: 9781101934579 ; Published October 2016 by Doubleday; F&G provided by publisher for review

Monday, October 17, 2016

Nonfiction Monday: Real or Fake? by Emily Krieger, illustrated by Tom Nick Cocotos

National Geographic rules in the genre of what I like to call "factoids"; collections of fun facts. This book challenges kids to analyze photos and "facts" and figure out which are real and which are fake.

The introduction gives three criteria for deciding what is true and what isn't; check the details, compare the story to your own experience, and be skeptical of things that sounds too good to be true.

The stories range from fake new stories (there will be six days of total darkness this December!) to gags that people took seriously, like the BBC's documentary about spaghetti trees. There's also wacky true tales, like the battle over guano-covered islands in the Pacific or elephants' ability to communicate long-distance through seismic signals.

Interspersed with these longer (four page) stories are quick quizzes of facts and photos. Some are odd jobs (Hotel Bed Warmer is an actual job) or multiple choice quizzes - mosquitoes, not sharks, are the deadliest animals on earth, etc. The photos include obviously photoshopped images as well as tricky perceptions and wacky poses.

The book is illustrated with a combination of photos, collages of images, and lots of splashy color and layouts.

Verdict: While kids will certainly enjoy skimming through this, I didn't feel that the brief introduction offered enough information on how to evaluate the information. So, I wouldn't use this for teaching information evaluation skills, but just for fun!

ISBN: 9781426324055; Published 2016 by National Geographic Kids; Review copy provided by publisher

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cybils Board Book Nominations Round-Up

I am so excited that Cybils has added a board book sub-category this year! Board books, along with easy readers and nonfiction, are one of my prime book interests. This also coincides with the jump in my library's board book circulation. After many years of averaging 300-400 a month, we dropped below 300 and it took a lot of hard work by myself and my staff over the summer and fall to get us back over that 300 number. I'm keeping track of everything that was nominated and which I've reviewed here.
  • All Aboard: National Parks
    • 9781423642367 
    • Not available
  • Baby Loves Aerospace
    • 9781580895415 
    • Not available
  • Baby Loves Quarks
    • 9781580895408 
    • Not available
  • Beach Baby
    • 9781459809543
    • On hold
  • Big Chickie, Little Chickie
    • 9780062342317 
    • To be reviewed
  • Black Cat & White Cat
    • 9781492637813 
    • To be reviewed
  • Brave little puppy
    • 9780399549458 
    • Not available
  • CityBlock
    • 9781419721892 
    • On hold (on order)
  • Cozy Classics: The Nutcracker
    • 9781452152486 
    • Not available
  • Cuauhtemoc: Shapes
    • 9780986109935 
    • Not available
  • Dinosaur Dance
    • 9781481480994 
    • On hold
  • Eek! Halloween!
    • 9780761193005 
    • On hold
  • Follow the yarn: A book of colors
    • 9780975490280 
    • Not available
  • Hamsters on the go
    • 9781459810167 
    • To be reviewed
  • Hello World: Solar System
    • 9780553521030 
    • On hold
  • I'm grumpy
    • 9780553533446 
    • On hold
  • I'm sunny
    • 9780553533460 
    • On hold
  • Incomplete Book of Awesome Things
    • 9780553459807 
    • Not available
  • Leo can swim
    • 9781580897259 
    • On hold
  • Les Miserables: A French Language Primer
    • 9781423642282 
    • Not available
  • Look! Birds!
    • 9781499801149 
    • On hold
  • Love is a Tutu
    • 9781937359812 
    • To be reviewed
  • Music is...
    • 9781481477024 
    • Not available
  • My first book of animal opposites
    • 9781623540623 
    • Not available
  • My heart fills with happiness
    • 9781459809574 
  • My little storybook: Monkey's day of play
    • 9781499802276 
    • To be reviewed
  • Night, Night Farm
    • 9780718088316 
    • Not available
  • Nosyhood
    • 9781938073939 
    • Not available
  • Numbers
    • 9781780553993 
    • Not available
  • Pets: Slide and Play
    • 9781609929152 
    • Not available
  • Shhh! I'm sleeping
    • 9781927271957 
    • Not available
  • Steam Train, Dream Train Colors
    • 9781452149158 
    • To be reviewed
  • This is not a book
    • 9780714871127 
    • To be reviewed
  • This Little Explorer
    • 9781481471756 
    • Not available
  • Counting Blessings
    • 9780310750727 
    • Not available
  • Two long ears
    • 9780764350399 
    • Not available

Cybils Fiction Picture Book Nominations Round-Up

Sometimes I keep track of all sorts of things for Cybils fiction picture books, when I'm on the judging panel. This year I am basically just keeping a list of all my reviews, both brief and comprehensive. I might add other things later...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

This week at the library; or, We plan all the things and realize that we may possibly have planned too many

What's happening at the library and in my head
  • Monday
    • Playgroup with Pattie
    • Tiny Tots (Pattie)
    • Read with Pearl
    • The day started. I was happy and upbeat. Then the printer happened. Now I hate everything.
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions) (Pattie)
    • Rock 'n' Read
    • Girl Scouts
    • Now the laminator hates me. WHY.
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
    • Workshop
Professional Development

  • Youth Services Workshop
    • Some great takeaways from the teen presentation by Emily Ellis and of course as always we enjoyed our colleague Abby Bussen's spirited presentation. She rocks!

Projects in progress and completed
  • Back to working on toys again. Updating, cleaning, repacking and more.
  • Cleaning out YA storage books
What the kids are reading
  • Week of Mondays (threw me b/c it was a kid and I couldn't place the book, then realized the older sibling wanted it)
  • Ugh lexiles. Talked the parent into taking Summer I saved the world anyways as well as Notebook of Doom.
  • I survived
  • Princess Pink
  • Bad Kitty
  • Mouse soup
  • books about puppies
  • storybook movies - Scholastic
  • construction
  • Pete the Cat
  • sports books for 4th grader
  • american chillers
  • baseball
  • hank the cowdog (we don't have any)
  • movie recommendations - found someone to appreciate wind in the willows!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Squish: Captain Disaster by Jennifer and Matthew Holm

[Digging through the archives...]

I purchased this for the library of course. Squish isn't quite as popular as Babymouse, but mostly because not all the kids have realized there's another series. I probably should have shelved Squish with Babymouse.

Squish tackles the world of sports in this title, joining a soccer team, the Water Fleas, and dealing with constant losing. He's thinking of himself as Captain Disaster, when he figures out how to play to his players' strengths and they start winning.

However, his friends, dad, and coach all insist that he's being mean by not allowing everyone a chance to play and have fun and that's what sports is all about (never mind the other teams who made fun of them when they lost). Squish lets his other friends play and they lose, but everyone has fun.

I don't remember the other Squish stories having quite as much sarcastic snark, but it's been a while since I read one and I don't think most kids would notice it anyways. I didn't care much for the message of this one myself, but mediocrity seems to be the goal in education now and a lot of parents and teachers will like this. The kids just like the weird amoebas.

Verdict: If you're buying Squish, and of course you are, buy it. Library bound. Feel free to roll your eyes in private if you, like me, are not an advocate of teaching children that hurty feelings are the most important things in the world.

[Revisited: Eventually I reorganized the graphic novels and both Babymouse and Squish are now shelved together under Holm (along with all her other titles). Squish shot up in popularity and we recently used it in book club to great enthusiasm from the kids. This particular title is not much of a stand out though the series as a whole is great.]

ISBN: 9780375843921; Published 2012 by Random House; Review copy provided by publisher (added to summer reading prizes); Purchased for the library.