Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Woodpecker wants a waffle by Steve Breen

It's been many years since I celebrated the pitch-perfect humor of Steve Breen's Stick. Although he's done many things over the years, it's only now that I see, once again, that hilarious sense of humor and perfect timing show up in a picture book again - and this time his art style and writing has developed much further.

Benny the woodpecker wants a waffle. He's never had one before, he's not even sure what they are, but they smell oh-so-good and he's willing to do anything to get one. But no matter what clever plans he tries, he just can't get into the diner! Finally, Benny comes up with the most daring, explosive, dramatic plan ever...not to mention the most sneaky!

What I loved about this story was not just the surprise ending but that it was funny all the way through, which will hold the attention of kids who haven't developed enough to wait for a punch line. Breen's illustrations are light and cheerful with perky animals and jokes for adults to enjoy as well.

Verdict: Time to start planning those woodpecker and waffle storytimes!

ISBN: 9780062342577; Published 2016 by Harper; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, January 16, 2017

Nonfiction Monday: A Sea Turtle's Life by Ellen Lawrence

This is an addition to a fairly popular series, "Animal Diaries: Life Cycles". This series focuses on the life cycle of an animal, but frames it as a fictional diary of a child.

In this title, the child is a boy, Dylan, and he is learning about sea turtles with the help of his older brother. He learns about how they lay their eggs on the beach, what happens when they hatch, and the early life of a sea turtle. The "diary entries" record observations of this process. There are also additional facts included on most pages.

Back matter includes a "science lab" activity - to help save endangered sea turtles by making a poster - a picture glossary, brief index, 3 titles for further reading, and link to the publisher's website for more information.

I'm not wholly in love with this format; the mix of fiction and nonfiction makes me uneasy. However, the format works well for kids transitioning to more research-based material as well as giving teachers and students ideas for science projects. I would like to see more science-based activities in the back, especially in this title.

Verdict: This series adds variety to my animal section and I will continue purchasing new additions.

ISBN: 9781944102487; Published 2016 by Bearport; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Teen area transformation part 1

Our teen area has gone through many, many transformations. Originally, it was upstairs in a small nook. The key advantages of this were the complete lack of supervision, depressing surroundings, and a view into the lobby so patrons entering could be laughed at and/or horrified by teens making out in the windows (I have no idea why, but apparently privacy is no longer a thing).

Next, we moved the teens to what was previously the reference room (reference being dead). This was the older part of the library and there was some worry that they would damage the historical part of the building. They didn't (other than discovering that they could climb in and out the windows and throwing various things into the big dish light but that could have happened anywhere). They were closed to the upstairs offices (director and adult services) and the upstairs computer lab. They drove everyone crazy. Conclusion: Teens in the upstairs (quiet) floor is a ridiculous, bad idea.

So, we moved the teens downstairs. We've shifted the shelves around several times, as recently as October 2016, but the general arrangement is a long, narrow corridor for quieter studying (and which adults still flock to despite my best efforts) and a wider area for browsing and hanging out. The area is directly next to the children's area and in full view of the youth services desk. Now that we've got the arrangement set, it's time to consider what's in the area itself.

This year, thanks to a portion of the budget and a small grant, we're moving towards having a space for programming and hands-on making and activities. I'll be posting more updates as we add to the area, but this is what we're starting with.

This is the long, narrow corridor. Right now it has two large tables, one public computer station (open to adults), and a small soft seating area. The shelves hold young adult fiction, starting with storage, classics, and then A and so on. I plan to have two computers (18 and under only) together and re-tape the warning square outside the door (the door opens outwards and kids persist in sitting in front of it)

This is the entrance to the quiet corridor. More YA fiction on the slanted shelf and lots of cool reading suggestion posters by Jess. 

I've moved the seating around quite a bit here. The computer lab is not movable - the outlets are in the floor - and it basically ruins the whole space. One will go over by the wall, as mentioned before, another will move to the children's area, and the last will go....somewhere else.

You can see how the teen area is bordered directly by the children's area. The shelves to the right are new juvenile fiction and nonfiction. The long shelf with a blue display board on the end has manga and anime on the left side and Spanish, Parenting, and holiday books on the right.

A closer view of the hideous computer lab and the sign nobody ever reads. Only one small table is in the area right now. Once the computers are gone we'll be adding tables and chairs which can be moved around into different formations. We'll also have some ipads available in addition to the two 18 and under computers (and, of course, the kids can use any of the public computers as long as they're quiet in the quiet area and they all have chromebooks from school)

Pictured standing from the counter. Teen nonfiction, graphic novels (as opposed to manga), audiobooks and magazines on the right.

Our counter - it's hard to tell but there are outlets all along the back. The shelf at the end has Boredom Busters - various things for the kids to do. Our two red tractor chairs have lasted YEARS. We bought more and they were absolute crap. We're now looking for bar stools to have seating at the counter.

If you walk straight to the right of the teen area, through the nonfiction shelves, you come to the long open space in the children's area. Teens do hang out here too, although I try to keep it mainly for elementary kids. There are two colored tables and chairs (one has moved back and forth from the teen area) and this is where a second computer will be added from the teen area. Caregivers really like this computer as they can keep an eye on their kids at the activity table (it's a science display right now) or playing with the toys.

To the right of the activity table is our juvenile audiobooks, toys, and maker kits. There's a reading area on the other side of the shelf, which you can see here. It has a smaller table (which I just moved over) and cushions. Also the kids' magazines and big books.

We'll be keeping the teen maker kits (which will only be available for teens!) in a cupboard by the youth services desk for them to check out. I haven't figured out how we'll advertise them or organize them yet - i.e. if I'm doing a program in the teen area I don't want someone to check out the marble run to use. I'm super excited about our new changes and I'm planning a drop-in middle school book club to start next fall!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

This week at the library; or, Life Resumes

some of the endless baking for the bake sale.
What's happening
  • Monday
    • Playgroup with Pattie
    • Tiny Tots (Pattie)
    • Staff meeting and I packed 3 boxes, 5 baskets, and other assorted collections of books for schools! My trusty aide repaired the play kitchen and the duplo table.
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions) (Pattie)
    • Bookaneers
    • Sudden avalanche of work and panicked racing to get things done before my outreach tomorrow. Still piles of things on desk. Glitter everywhere (this doesn't actually bother me). Unpacked boxes of books, boxes of supplies, and fought with the copier. Then I went home and mixed masses of caramel and cookie dough for the upcoming bake sale. Remembered why I hate baking.
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies (Pattie)
    • Lego Club
    • The book & bake sale started today. Lego Club was a bit cramped and we only had tables from the Storyroom.
  • Friday
    • Outreach: Winter Animals
    • One outreach visit, desk shift, still cleaning off my desk. This week has been very difficult and stressful for everyone and I'm glad it is over.
Reader's Advisory
  • I survived
  • Suicide Squad books - further questions, taken in conjunction with my knowledge of the patron in question - gave them DC Superhero Girls. I will probably buy some Suicide Squad for the teen graphic novels.
  • Ghosts of the titanic by lawson
  • Wendy Mass read-alikes - Lauren Myracle, Michele Hurwitz
  • Easy nonfiction - Jump, National Geographic easy readers

Friday, January 13, 2017

Small Readers: The way the cookie crumbled by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illustrated by Kelly Kennedy

This entry in the "History of Fun Stuff" easy reader series is chock-full of chocolate and other tasty treats (and facts).

Who doesn't like a tasty cookie? Or two? Or three? (well, me to be honest - I don't actually like cookies ever since I went on a marathon baking spree back when I was a teenager. *shudder*) Shaffer starts with the evolution of cookies from simple bits of bread and biscuit to the sweet treats we know today. Along the way she adds plenty of interesting facts, from the origin of packed cookies in the Nabisco factory to Queen Elizabeth's habit of eating gingerbread in the shape of her advisors.

Back matter includes cookies from several different cultures, the science behind baking, a recipe with extra math, and a fun quiz on the history of cookies. There are no sources listed.

Kennedy's illustrations are cheerful cartoons of wide-eyed people throughout the ages, including several different races, all enjoying their sweet treats. The book is listed as a level 3, which for Simon Spotlight means the book is really closer to a beginning chapter book with large paragraphs of text, a clear but smaller font than is normally used in an easy reader, and more complex vocabulary and sentence structure.

Verdict: Kids who like fun facts enjoy this series and if you have a need for more upper-level easy readers this is a great series to add. I wouldn't use it for serious research, due to the lack of sources, but kids at this level who need something more challenging to read will enjoy it.

ISBN: 9781481461801; Published 2016 by Simon Spotlight; Review copy provided by author

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Poop Detectives: Working dogs in the field by Ginger Wadsworth

I loved Sniffer Dogs by Nancy Castaldo so much - was there anything else to say about dogs and their noses? Absolutely yes! While Sniffer Dogs covers the history and science of dogs and their noses, Poop Detectives gives us an in-depth look at a specific use for dogs; environmental and scientific research!

Wadsworth opens the book with a fictional story of the choosing of a good poop detective and then talks about their training and the many uses scientists have found for them, from sniffing for poop to tracking animals, to finding plants!

Along the way she profiles various dogs and talks about their unique abilities, training, and how they've helped conservationists and scientists from sniffing out whale poop to discovering turtle nests.

The book includes plenty of photographs, sidebars of information, and even a section on the dogs' retirement and life after their working days are over. Back matter includes an author's note, acknowledgements, photo credits, glossary, resources, quotation sources, selected bibliography, and index. Phew! This is clearly a well-researched book and that shows in every lovingly-crafted section. I found myself fascinated by this look at how dogs and humans work together to save and research wildlife and the sidelight on how scientific research changes and adapts.

And, of course, there's lots of pictures of poop.

Verdict: Don't just hand this to dog lovers - any readers who enjoys science, animals, is thinking about career choices in those areas, or just likes to learn interesting and new things will get caught up in this book. This is definitely going on my booktalk list for next spring and I encourage you to try it out in your book clubs and on your tween readers. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781580896504; Published 2016 by Charlesbridge; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Baby Loves Quarks! by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan

While I fell in love with Spiro's other title, Baby loves Aerospace this one didn't quite hit the spot for me.

The titular baby is building a tower with blocks, and Spiro uses this as an example to show how everything in nature, and the universe, is built by quarks, molecules, etc., even baby. The earth-hued illustrations show cute little balls as the quarks which gather together to create all the things in the universe. The story ends with scientists smashing an atom and baby smashing a block tower.

I felt that this concept was too complex for a board book. It showed the atoms and molecules forming things like oxygen, methane, and water but I don't think kids will understand the idea of gases.

Verdict: This was fun, but the concept doesn't work well for the audience and format. If you're buying the whole series go ahead and add it, but it's not a priority.

ISBN: 9781580895408; Published 2016 by Charlesbridge; Review copy provided by the publisher for Cybils; Donated to the library

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Blocks by Irene Dickson

It seems like, more and more, picture books are written for an older audience. Sophisticated art and humor, lengthy text, older protagonists, all point towards a grade school audience. And yet, at the same time, the actual audience for picture books, at least in my library, gets younger and younger.

I am therefore thrilled when I find a simple picture book, beautifully illustrated, that has enough depth to catch the eye and interest of older children but also is suitable for our large toddler audience.

A thick cover with square die cuts sets the stage for a story that is all about blocks. "Ruby has red blocks." Her bright red shirt and shoes repeat the cheerful red blocks that she builds with. Then along comes Benji in blue socks, blue hoodie, with a blue wagon of blue blocks. Anyone who has dealt with toddlers or preschoolers knows what comes next - "Mine!" and a grand tumble. A little problem-solving and they are ok to play with red AND blue blocks. But what happens when Guy shows up with green blocks....?

I loved the blocky illustrations that look like sponge painting or prints. The simple text with clever notes - the alliteration of names and colors, the organization of the blocks, the matching end papers. Most of all, I loved the diversity. Irene Dickson doesn't just include children of color, she puts them front and center, starting the story with Ruby and giving her equal time with Benji.

Verdict: Perfect for reading on school visits, to toddlers, to older children who will pick up the subtle clues in the art, and before block parties. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780763686567; Published May 2016 by Nosy Crow; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, January 9, 2017

Nonfiction Monday: Disaster Zone: Ice Storms by Vanessa Black; Weather Watch: Fog by Jenny Fretland VanVoorst

Today I'm looking at two titles dealing with weather at two different levels.

Fog, from the series "Weather Watch" is a Bullfrog book. I put them in picture books, but I frequently recommend them to beginning readers as their simple text and trim size work well for this audience. This title uses simple sentences, "Some places are foggier than others. Where? Valleys." to explain where fog is most frequently found and how it is made. A simple index and picture glossary finish out the book.

This series includes titles on clouds, lightning, rain, snow, and wind. Weather is always a popular request for teachers and caregivers and kids interested in learning in the world around them will be happy to pick these titles up.

Ice Storms, from the series "Disaster Zone" is a Pogo book. I usually place these in juvenile nonfiction as they're aimed at an older audience. This title features photographs, blocks of colored backgrounds, and larger paragraphs of text with more complex vocabulary. This particular title narrates the development and possible consequences of a typical ice storm, explains the science behind the phenomena, and talks about some of the emergency measures needed to handle the storm. Several disastrous ice storms are referenced and tips for staying safe in a storm are listed. Back matter includes a science activity, glossary, index, and link to the publisher's website for more information.

I felt the emergency information given was rather general, but there's not much you can do in an ice storm besides stay home if possible anyways. It's a good level for intermediate readers and is dramatic without being overly graphic or frightening.

Verdict: Due to changes in our school's curriculum, I am suddenly in need of a large number of weather books. "Weather Watch" is a good supplementary text if you need additional weather books for a younger audience. "Disaster Zone" is an excellent series to update your older weather selections, especially with current weather disasters.

Fog
ISBN: 9781620313886

Ice Storms
ISBN: 9781620313992

Published 2016 by Jump!; Review copies provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Budget Numbers, Circulation Numbers, Programming Numbers, I Haz Them ALL (part 3 collection and circulation)

The Statistic Octopus
Picture me lovingly unfurling my fronds around my beloved circulation numbers.... ok, that went weird fast. I do like numbers and octopuses though.

So, our total children's and young adult circulation for 2016 was 131,770. Those of you doing the math will realize this does not match the collection numbers below exactly - this is because it includes all the holds from other libraries that come in to us. This increased through teacher requests and remote collections this year. This was a total increase of 7,268 from 2015.

Circulation and collection size
  • Board books circulated a total of 3,964.
    • This increased in the fall but was still 251 less than 2015 overall. I hope to continue getting the board books back up to a strong circulation level.
    • The collection increased overall by 112 titles.
  • Children's dvds (which includes blu-ray) circulated a total of 26,807. 
    • This was an increase of 130 from 2015. I don't really care, other than feeling that we have too many dvds and it's time to weed.
    • The collection increased by 459 - it's time to weed.
  • Easy Readers (including easy reader tub books) circulated a total of 12,333.
    •  This was an increase of 3,143 from 2015. This was our big success and we are THRILLED!
    • Collection increased by 304. I could definitely add more here.
  • Juvenile fiction (including new juvenile fiction and storage) circulated a total of 19,913. 
    • This was an increase of 1,641 from 2015.
    • It's hard to measure because this includes several areas, but the collection increased by about 600 I think. With the materials moved into storage, this is manageable.
  • Juvenile nonfiction circulated a total of 7,914.
    • This was an increase of 356 from 2015. Slowly but surely we are working on the promotion of this collection. Some of the materials will never reach the rapid circulation of other areas, but that doesn't mean we can't try!
    • The collection decreased by 471. I haven't replaced as much as I weeded, but clearly that hasn't harmed the circulation. Although we could do better! I need a lot more books here.
  • Picture books (including tub books) circulated a total of 30,164.
    • This was a decrease of 838 from 2015. I'm mainly pleased that the picture book circulation seems to have permanently eclipsed the movies and did not realistically expect the massive numbers of previous years to continue. I do plan to overhaul and update the neighborhoods in 2018 and do a little weeding of some of the more crowded areas, which I think will pull circulation up again. Meanwhile I am focusing on popular titles and subjects needed by teachers this year.
    • Well, that explains why we can't fit anything on the shelves....the collection size increased by 901. I didn't plan to weed next year, but it looks like I will need to do so.
  • Toys (including maker kits and, at the end of the year, audiobook kits) circulated a total of 572. 
    • Due to some changes and updates this number isn't wholly accurate, but it's a pretty decent number.
    • The collection decreased by 3 - I deleted a bunch of really ancient toys, removed some from circulation which need repairs/replacements, and had an unfortunately large number stolen. This is not usual! I also added several new things which is why the number stayed fairly steady.
  • Video games circulated a total of 3,255. 
    • This was an increase of 138 from 2015. I'm currently facing the slow demise of my wii games and trying to decide how to deal with this.
    • Collection increased by 42. I bought more than that, but with the wii games all dying...
  • My new collection, anime, circulated a total of 924.
  • My new collection of young adult nonfiction circulated a total of 441.
  • Young adult graphic novels and manga circulated a total of 2,469.
    •  This was a decrease of 128 from 2015.
    • I had an increase of only 45. I need to update this collection.
  • Young adult fiction circulated a total of 5,848. This was an increase of 454.
    • Thanks to our last-minute weed, the collection size decreased by 219 but we still had great circulation!