Saturday, January 21, 2017

This week at the library; or, At least I didn't get stomach flu (yet)

What's happening this week
  • Monday
    • A gloomy day. It was very icy and school was canceled. I came in to work early - I had tried to make it to a visitation for a colleague's husband, but the roads were too bad and work was closer than home. We settled in to our offices and worked since there was really nobody in the library.
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions) (Pattie)
    • Rock 'n' Read
    • Everybody came in today to make up for lost time! Very busy, very full, all day long. I need a way to make sure kids who come to book club have working library cards. I can't just sign the books out to them because they come from other libraries...
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
    • Outreach: Animals in the Snow
    • Apparently all the schools have stomach flu. Woo. I did bills, cleaned up after yesterday's science mess, and left early.
  • Saturday
    • Busy, busy, busy, busy, busy.
  • Dollar General grant for summer reading
  • Easy Readers - weeding in progress.
    • Started work on easy reader section - the giant jump in circulation last year (increase of over 3,000) has had a deteriorating effect on the books and I'm going to be replacing swathes that are torn, stained, scribbled on, or just worn out. I also need additional copies of popular series (I did Elephant & Piggie and Fly Guy last year) and more emergent, low-level readers.
Professional Development
  • Webinar: Spreading the Word: Taking Early Literacy Messages to the Streets with Pamela Martin Díaz and Heather Grady of the Allen County Public Library
Real kids talk about books
  • Angel in my pocket by Ilene Cooper "It had a very happy ending. I think the angel coin made all the magic happen. There were some sad things, but I didn't cry at all."
  • Hundred Horses by Sarah Lean "I haven't finished it - I'm just to the part where the girls are good friends - but I can't wait to find out what happens. I really like it."
  • Wonderful Wizard of Oz (graphic novel edition by Shanower and Young) "this is one of my favorite books. I like it because it's like the book and it's a comic."
  • Science Comics: Coral Reefs by Maris Wicks "I learned lots of new things about coral reefs and the fish talking were funny. My favorite thing is the disco clam."
  • Women who broke the rules by Kathleen Krull (Dolley Madison and Judy Blume) "I liked the book about Dolley Madison best because I knew about her." (probably not allowed to read Blume)
  • Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler. A long summary of the story was given, which implied enthusiastic devouring of the story.
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio "You see the story from different perspectives. I think that's the best way to tell a story."
Reader's Advisory
  • Whatever after - I've got it on an order list somewhere
  • Easy readers
  • Lexiles - something short
  • Bone
  • Katie Woo

Friday, January 20, 2017

Animal Planet Chapter Books: Sharks!, Dinosaurs! by Lori Stein

This is a new series of beginning chapter, nonfiction books from Animal Planet.

The first title is Sharks! and the second is Dinosaurs! Both present a basic overview of the creature, their evolution, habitat and habits, and mentions of scientific discoveries about them. Dinosaurs includes a discussion of fossils and recent discoveries; Sharks covers their endangered status and a brief reference to shark attacks.

Both titles include photographs, current news clips, an attractive layout that includes colored borders and additional facts, further resources, glossary, and sources.

I'm of two minds about these books. On the one hand, I honestly found them dull. The information was presented reasonably well (although the references to shark attacks were not as clear as they might have been) and there were lots of facts and photographs but the books just didn't catch my interest. In short, I felt that they plodded and I felt the information could have been organized better.

On the other hand, I have a strong demand for easier chapter books and there really isn't much in the nonfiction realm for this reading level except National Geographic chapter books. This series is available in both paperback and hardcover and I'm experimenting this year with putting a nonfiction, paperback series into our juvenile series paperbacks (little bee's BlastBack series).

Verdict: I'm going to take these to my book club and see what the kids think and see how my one nonfiction series in juvenile series goes this year. Next year I'll decide whether to add these to the collection in hardcover or as a new series.

ISBN: 9781618934321

ISBN: 9781618931863

Published 2016 by Animal Planet; Review copies provided by publisherAnimal Planet Chapter Books: Sharks!, Dinosaurs! by Lori Stein

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Slowest Book Ever by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

This is a unique and fascinating collection of science and inspiration. There's just one thing about it that bothers me.

This compact book with its orange, black and white color scheme quite different from anything I've read recently. It's a collection of facts and information, but more importantly it's a collection of thoughts and ideas. It's divided up into sections like "slow nature thoughts - big, chewy thoughts for your brain" and "slow geology facts - knowledge to help your forehead fossilize." There are also facts about art, space, and the final two pages are designed for you to rest your face whilst considering the thoughts presented in the book.

Back matter includes a glossary, acknowledgements (very slow acknowledgements, naturally) and final notes.

Funny asides, jokes, and quirky cartoons fill the book with humor and interest and lighten the odd facts and thought prompts.

I can see this being a great book for classroom use, discussion prompts for book clubs and car trips, or just to dip into and ponder. There's just one thing that drives me absolutely crazy. The layout. There is absolutely no gutter. In fact, parts of the words disappear into the gutter. I thought maybe the book I'd borrowed had a printing error so I tried another copy - same thing. This doesn't seem to have bothered anyone else, but it drove me insane.

See what I mean? WHERE IS THE "T"??
Verdict: A really cool book and if the weird guttering doesn't bother you, have fun with it. Personally, I'll recommend this in ebook format because the gutter issue doesn't show up there. Yes, it's very petty. It REALLY annoyed me but apparently nobody else noticed.

ISBN: 9781620917831; Published 2016 by Boyds Mills; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Polar Bear Romp! illustrated by Beatrice Costamagna

little bee tends to not have listed authors for their board books - I assume they're written by an editorial team. Frankly, they're not very good. This series has lengthy, clunky text; "Teddy the polar bear was sad. He felt very alone because nobody wanted to play with him. The Arctic foxes made fun of him for being so big. Teddy felt sad and cried."

However, the art and movable aspect of the book makes it pretty awesome. It's a medium-sized rectangle with only five spreads. They alternate between thick, to accommodate the moving parts, and thinner cardboard. The art is a cheerful cartoons with big eyes and splashes of color, even in the white landscape.

Of course, the real draw of these books is the teeth! Yes, as you can see on the cover, every alternate page has big teeth that move up and down! The best one is the Dino Chomp! book, but every one is bound to be a winner with the kids who will enthusiastically "chomp" the books until they fall apart!

Verdict: Yes, they're totally a novelty, but so fun! Get at least one!

ISBN: 9781499803457; Published 2016 by little bee; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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