Monday, March 30, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: Diving to a Deep-Sea Volcano by Kenneth Mallory

I have become deeply fascinated by the excellent Scientists in the Field series, so much so that I've accidentally bought duplicates for my library...oops. They're all so beautifully written! Such amazing photographs! Such clear explanations! And this one is no exception.

Kenneth Mallory does an excellent job of explaining how Rich Lutz and other scientists are exploring the effects and progression of deep-sea volcanos. The pictures show the mysterious creatures that live and die around these boiling vents of water and chemicals as well as the strange rock formation formed by lava deep underwater.

As always, my favorite part of the Scientists in the Field book is the introduction to a real scientist - Rich Lutz. His education and interest as a scientist is nicely woven throughout the text as well as how he started studying deep-sea volcanos.

Verdict; This is an inspiring and fascinating story for budding scientists or anyone interested in the mysterious deep in the ocean.

ISBN: 0618332057; Published October 2006 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Friday, March 27, 2009

The bear with the sticky paws by Clara Vulliamy

I admit it. I fell in love with this oddly didactic book and the terrifyingly button-eyed characters.

Naughty Lily, whose button-black eyes are definitely creepy, is having a temper tantrum when her mother leaves. But suddenly a fluffy white bear shows up and it's time to have fun! Until the bear with sticky paws makes a big mess - and won't clean up, take a bath, or....do anything Lily was supposed to do earlier. Finally he leaves Lily with the mess just as her mother arrives home and she promises contritely to clean everything up and gets a big hug.

There's some counting involved, although nothing organized. The delicate detail in the illustrations and the fancy games combined with the simple but lilting text make this a perfect choice for toddlers and little ones who look like potential Fancy Nancy fans.

Verdict: Delightful


ISBN: 978-1589250703; Published March 2008 by Tiger Tales; Borrowed from the library

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Daisy Dawson is on her way! by Steve Voake, illustrated by Jessica Meserve

I bought this book for the library back in 2008 and just noticed that the sequel is coming out in the US in May. I bought it for the cover and the cute description, but never actually read it....so I decided to see if it was worth getting the sequels.

Daisy Dawson is an independent individual and loves her morning walks to school....although she has a tendency to be late. One morning, she rescues a butterfly and mysteriously gains the power to talk to animals. Her new ability gets her into trouble, but makes life a lot more interesting too!

This is a charming and unique beginning chapter book. There were a few parts where the plot dragged a little and the description felt a bit long-winded, but on the whole the story is engaging and the characters - human and animal - delightful. I especially liked the strong ink and pencil illustrations, which made an excellent blend with the characters and plot.

Verdict: Not quite fantasy, not quite school story, not quite family story - there's something here for a wide variety of beginning readers, especially those who like animals. I'm definitely getting the rest of the series!

ISBN: 978-0763637408; Published March 2008 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Doggone Dogs! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow

David Catrow's unmistakeable pear-shaped figures romp through this exuberant counting and rhyming picture book without a pause. From early morning to evening, a raucous crew of plump doggies cause havoc, from the house to the park and back again. While the conscientious dog owner will want to point out that an obedient and well-trained dog is happier, healthier, and safer, these doggies are so full of joie de vive, that we simply can't grudge them a day of freedom.


Verdict: Highly recommended for fun reading at all times!


ISBN: 978-0803731578; Published October 2008 by Dial; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Homeschoolers are not crazy - a possibility

I have complained long and loud to my friends, neighbors, and completely unrelated people about the biased, ignorant, and plain boring portrayal of homeschoolers in juvenile and especially young adult literature.

Is there hope on the horizon? Fuse8 says maybe. Her Penguin librarian preview highlights an intriguing title: The Homeschool Liberation League by Lucy Frank. Her teens are reading it RIGHT NOW.

I await further developments. Which could happen even faster if I got my own copy! Hint, hint.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: Snake Scientist by Sy Montgomery, Photographs by Nic Bishop

Who likes wriggly snakes? Squirming masses of them? Bob Mason the Snake Scientist, that's who! And his amazing helpers, who together are learning some interesting facts about the huge numbers of garter snakes that mysteriously congregate in Manitoba, Canada. This Scientist in the Field book is a little simpler than others I've read/reviewed. The sentence structure is definitely aimed at younger readers, maybe upper elementary, but the content and excellent writing will attract readers of all ages. Nic Bishop's photographs are, of course, amazing. They portray the fascinating world of snakes without being too frightening or icky, if you're a non-snakes lover.

One of best elements of this book is its emphasis on how the profiled scientist ended up doing this job - his childhood interest, education, and how anyone can do it! Snake Scientist especially does a great job of debunking the mysterious scientist myth, showing Bob Mason as an ordinary guy who worked hard to follow his interests, even when he was told he couldn't do it. The narrative also emphasizes the importance of questions and curiousity in science and even has a list of questions in the back that the snake scientists are still working on.

Verdict: An excellent nonfiction for reading aloud, reluctant readers, or anyone interested in science or snakes.


ISBN: 978-0395871690; Published March 1999 by Houghton Mifflin (later editions still in print); Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library (not by me)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New books for my library!

Just back from a pilgrimage to Half Price Books...one of the few things I miss about Austin is the multiplicity of Half Price Book stores - here, I have to drive almost an hour. Ah well. I tried out the two in Madison and came home with:

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander (for my time fantasy collection - haven't read this)
Whispering mountain by Joan Aiken (a new paperback edition for my Joan Aiken collection)
Oops by Arthur Geisert (a really fascinating picturebook)
Merlin and the making of the king by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (I normally HATE Arthurian stuff, but I love Hyman's gorgeous illustrations...)
The Kitten Book by Jan Pfloog (an old childhood favorite)
Just so stories by Rudyard Kipling, illustrated by Safaya Salter (I am so THRILLED! This is the edition we had when I was little and I have been looking everywhere for it!)
Nearer Nature by Jim Arnosky (I'll probably trade this on Bookmooch when I've read it)
Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll (I've been looking for a cheaper version of this for ages - finally found a decent paperback for a decent price!)
Traveler in time by Alison Uttley (another one for my time fantasy collection that I have not read - very nice ex-library edition, with illustrations by Christine Price and a lovely cover)
Padre Porko by Robert Davis (another nice ex-library book - Padre Porko is a bit like Freddy the Pig)
We're going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (small book for my small book collection!)
Peter Rabbit goes to school: a replica of the antique original (another small book)
Stink and the great guinea pig express by Megan McDonald (for my guinea pig collection)
Egg thoughts and other Frances songs by Russell Hoban (I really want this on LP, b/c that's how I had it when I was little, but I remember most of the tunes...)
My little golden book of fairy tales, illustrated by Gordon Laite (I noticed the very pretty illustrations and thought I'd get it...)

and for Bookmooch trading...
Araminta Spookie: Vampire Brat by Angie Sage
Heir of Mystery by Philip Ardagh
Invasion of the boy snatchers by Lisi Harrison
Felix feels better by Rosemary Wells (actually got this for my guinea pig collection, then discovered when I got home that I already had it!)

and for the library...
Invasion of the boy snatchers & Revenge of the Wannabes by Lisi Harrison (we need extra copies!)

and LPs!
Soundtrack to Applause
New Christy Minstrels Wandering Minstrels
Return of the wayfaring stranger, Burl Ives
Barrel Full of Monkees
Burl Ives sings Little White Duck and other children's favorites
Soundtrack and story of the Aristocats
Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tower at Moonville by Stephen Elboz

Nathan has always feared his strange Uncle Jago, royal vermin catcher. When his family dies of typhoid, he is forced to live with his uncle, who turns out to be a nastier and more dangerous character than Nathan suspected. There seems to be no release from his miserable life, until he meets Sam, a boy unlike any other he's ever known. Sam is confident, outrageous, and always has a plan....and his latest plan involves Nathan in a lengthy deception, a strange school, and a mysterious scientist hidden in a tower.

There's a distinctly Dickensian flavor to this intermediate story. The grotesque characters don't have the humorous edge of Dahl's villains, but the dark, gritty underside of a Dickens portrait. Nathan's strange new school and the lingering menace of his uncle hold the reader breathless through the rather thin plot until reaching the satisfying although somewhat unbelievable conclusion.

Verdict: Elboz is a popular author of beginning chapters and intermediate fiction and fantasy in Britain. This fun adventure is worth doing a little digging to find for your American readers, especially those who enjoy stories of luckless orphans and zany adventures.

ISBN: 978-0192753281; Published November 2003 by Oxford; Received through Bookmooch

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford

Every once in a while I read a book and then desperately wish I had a kid I could grab....listen to me read this to you! Yes, I read picturebooks aloud in storytime, but it's not ENOUGH. Anyhow, I've thought and thought and can't figure out a way to do read-aloud programs for older kids that a. I can fit in my schedule and b. anybody would come to.

But this book has such charm.....that's a rather neglected term, for the reason (in my opinion) that charm isn't really something written today. Not sickly-sweet, sentimental, or twee, but good, robust charm. And it really only works with animal stories, at least for me. Wind in the Willows, Wakefield's Bottersnikes and Gumbles, L. M. Boston (sometimes) and now....The Wombles by Elizabeth Beresford. These teddy-bear like creatures live in a comfy burrow and have their own little squabbles, habits, and individual lives. They also have little excitements and tragedies, feasts and adventures....

I still don't think I've really defined what I'm saying...maybe it's written as adult animals that behave like children, as in Wind in the Willows? Or Paddington. Hmm....that might be it. It's sort of a bridge between adult and child.

Well, whatever, maybe you all can figure out what I mean.

Verdict: I don't think the majority of contemporary children will appreciate this. Sigh. Find a used copy for yourself if you feel the urge.

ISBN: N/A; Published by various publishers at different times. Mostly out of print, but I think you can find newer in print versions in the UK, through Book Depository; Received copy from Bookmooch

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How much do I love E. L. Konigsburg?

So, I am not really a fan of authors. No, I don't mean that I don't LIKE them, I just mean, that I am not a fan in the sense that....well, I'm just more interested in their books than them. Although some authors have very funny blogs and I would kinda like to meet Sarah Beth Durst who sounds cool...

Anyways. But E. L. Konigsburg is an author I feel very strongly about. I don't think I actually read her best-known work, Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler until I was older and it was ok, but when I was a young teen I read T-backs, T-shirts, COAT and Suit. It moved me profoundly and although I have not read it in many years I still take pieces of it out in my head and think them over.

So when I found out that E. L. Konigsburg was going to be speaking at a children's literature conference in Indianapolis when I lived in Champaign a few years ago I decided I must go.

This is how I went (I should say, first of all, that this was January):

I walked two miles to the bus station.

Took the Greyhound bus to Indianapolis and arrived around 10pm. Only it was really 11pm because I didn't know there was a time change.

Slept in the bus station until almost 6am. (If you are going to spend the night in a bus station, which I have done a couple times, I highly recommend Indianapolis. Someone has kindly broken the arms out of the long pew-like seating so you can almost lie down and sleep for half-hour stretches. Half-hour stretches because that's how frequently the train rumbles by overhead.)

Set out to find a city bus to get me to the college where the conference was. (I tried to call the bus company before I left to find out about schedules but I couldn't get anyone and there was only a very vague map on the internet)

Walked for about an hour (did I mention it was freezing cold and snowing?)

Got on a bus.

Was dropped off and told to walk a few streets over for another bus.

Got on another bus.

Was told it was the wrong bus, the other driver had directed me wrong, walked back and got on another bus.

Walked about a mile and finally found the college.

And then...at last I was rewarded! There were some other people there - Ed Young, who seemed very shy but was rather charming to listen to and April Pulley Sayre (I think) and somebody else but I was sort of dozing off by then....

And I heard - and saw! E. L. Konigsburg. A very dignified and firm lady, older than I had realized, but very authoritative and very centered. Most notable quote from her talk...."Multi-tasking is adultery of the mind". She talked about having space in life and art. It was gorgeous and worth the trip.

But the trip wasn't over. I hitched a ride with a very sweet school librarian to the nearby Half-Price Books (hey, I had to wait SOMEWHERE) and hung out there from around 5 to 9.

Then I carried my bags of books about a mile alongside a completely unlit and very deserted highway until I arrived at the bus stop at a hospital.

Did I mention it was snowing? Unfortunately, I was not alone. Despite the prominent NO SMOKING sign inside the bus shelter, I was quickly joined by about 10 smokers. So I spent half an hour sticking my head out of the shelter to breathe, until my lungs started freezing, then squishing back inside to warm up....

Bus finally arrived and I gratefully climbed on board, told the driver where I was going...."Oh, I can't take you there, they blocked all the streets off for ---- (some football rally or something).

I got dropped off in almost completely unlit streets and joined hordes of partially drunk fans.

Walked about half a mile and arrived at the bus station at around 10.

Went back to sleep on the semi-comfortable pews until 3am.

Took bus to Chicago (yeah, I know, but I had to go to Chicago to get to Champaign). Bus stops partway with broken window. Did I mention it was still snowing? Fortunately, the bus contained a fellow Texas, albeit from the western portion of the state who cheerfully proclaimed "duct tape and baling wire will fix anythang" and he had duct tape in his suitcase. Probably baling wire also, although that was not required.

Arrive at Chicago knowing I have an hour until I catch the next bus. Ask conductor I pass where bus is, as I am the kind of anal person who likes to sit right in front of the door. "Oh, that's us we're leaving". Ticket agent neglected to take into account time differences.

Arrive home around 10am and collapse.

But it was worth it all, yes.

Anyhow, the reason I am thinking of this now is that I finally located a copy of Konigsburg's TalkTalk, a book I have been longing to read for years but could never find....I have dipped into it a bit and it looks special.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: Traces by Paula Fox, illustrated by Karla Kuskin


Everything leaves a trace....frogs leave bubbles, we glimpse an animal's tail, a snail's trail. Paula Fox's poetical prose combined with Karla Kuskin's detailed illustrations will inspire further observation of the natural world, to see what other traces have been left behind.

The repetitive text is perfect for interactive story times and inspiring children's own version of traces.

Verdict: Recommended as a nonfiction read-aloud for storytimes especially


ISBN: 978-1932425437; Published April 2008 by Front Street Press; Borrowed from the library

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday Blues at the Library

Saturday was a lovely sunny day at the library and rather peaceful....but for some reason this brought home to me Things I Hate At The Library:

Kids hunched over the computer for hours when it's sunny outside. Get a life, kids!

Slightly "off" patrons (if you're a librarian you know what I mean) hanging around said kids. Ick.

Parents who tell kids, "no, we're just getting movies today, you can't have a book." Arrrgh!

Patrons with really vague reader's advisory questions 10 minutes before we close, "I'm looking for a story about a horse. I think it was in that area (points to our 10 shelves of adult fiction). I don't remember the author, title, or what it's about. Why can't you help me?"

Of course, there are the grandparents bringing their kids to play in the sunny children's area, and families raiding the new book section with squeals of delight, and many other lovely things, but sometimes....It's hard to be tactful.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chowder; The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder by Peter Brown

 Somehow, I had never realized Peter Brown has actually been around for a while. The first of his books I encountered was The Curious Garden. Pleasant, with enjoyable pictures, but we didn't get it for our library. Really, do we need any more New York books? No.

So, when I discovered he had some previous books I thought I'd take a look, starting with the Chowder stories. In the first story, Chowder is an unusual bulldog who doesn't fit in with the other dogs, no matter how much he tries. However, he finally discovers some friends who appreciate his unique view of life.

The second Chowder story is more of the same, with Chowder not feeling or acting like the other "Fabulous" dogs at dog camp. But with hard work and a bright idea, he finds his place.

I can see the appeal of these stories, the "unique child/animal who finds his/her place" is a popular and well-worn theme. Although I don't care for the style of art myself, I know some people, doubtless more educated about art than I, will appreciate the odd perspectives and lines and the clean landscapes.

Verdict: I just didn't care for them myself. I'm rather tired of the "I'm different and have to find a place for myself" theme in picturebooks and the art doesn't appeal to me. Sorry Chowder. You have lots of friends, you don't need me.

Chowder
ISBN: 0316011800; Published September 2006 by Little, Brown; Borrowed from the library

Fabulous Bouncing Chowder
ISBN: 0316011797; Published September 2007 by Little, Brown, Borrowed from the library

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry

This Big Book is kinda a Big Disappointment

This had some good reviews and looked pretty cool....so I bought it for the library, as we are doing poetry this month. I zipped it home last night for a quick preview.....and I'm rather disappointed.

First, there's a typo. Now, a typo is not a big deal in a novel or something because you just read past it, but in a book of poems? Bad, very bad. (Enquiring minds - it's on page 17, the second to the last line of Aileen Fisher's poem "Caterpillars" - "But that is more THAT I can do" - it should be THAN). Especially when you then spend the rest of the reading experience looking for more typos.

Then - and this is just weird - there's a couple spots where it looks like they were running out of ink, especially on page 114. I mean, big fancy book, you should check your ink cartridges, right?
Standards - people just don't have 'em anymore.

The art side is my biggest peeve. First, on page 117, for May Swenson's poem "Painting the Gate" David Gordon drew a boy with purple paint everywhere. Um....apparently he didn't read the poem, or just took some extreme artistic licence, because it's supposed to be BLUE. "Postal blue" to be specific. Which isn't even remotely purple.

Secondly, the book claims to be full of art by "award-winning artists." Well, yes there is some beautiful artwork by Chris Raschka, Lois Ehlert, Nancy Tafuri, Steven Kellogg (except for the picture on page 100 - judging by the hideous face, he had an off day). BUT, a large portion of the artwork is done by Robert Quackenbush (well-known yes, but I'm not aware of any awards), Paul Meisel, Laura Logan, and a couple others. Not that their art isn't nice or anything and maybe they've won a bunch of awards I'm not aware of but....

The exact numbers are: Laura Logan, 16. Her art is nice - pedestrian, not particularly outstanding, just...nice. Robert Quackenbush, 12. I really like his easy readers, but I've never been a fan of his rather dark and convoluted style. Paul Meisel, 12. Another unknown, at least to me, sometimes his art's really good, sometimes it's just boring. Chris Raschka, 12. Not my favorite, but I can appreciate it. Aliki, 11. Now there's an artist. No masterpieces, just simple, workable, well-done art. Steven Kellogg, 9. One of my favorites, but just doesn't seem to fit here. Derek Anderson, 9 - another pedestrian artist. Nice, but nothing special. Henry Cole, 9. An excellent realistic artist, plenty of strong feeling and color. Dan Yaccarino, 8. Not one of my favorites, but I can appreciate him. David Gordan, 8. Kinda an inferior copy of Henry Cole. Nancy Tafuri, 7. Beautiful. Just...beautiful. And our collage-y artists are at the end, with 5 for Lois Ehlert and 4 for Ashley Bryan. No need to say anything about them!

Now, the poems themselves are mostly a pretty good selection. Lots of classic Aileen Fisher, a nice mix of various authors, lots of undeservedly obscure Margaret Wise Brown, and so on. Plus some by Bill Martin Jr. Now "Storyteller" (pg. 80) is a good one, but "City Song" (pg. 68)? I mean, even if the collection is sort of commemorating the guy, you couldn't find anything better? It's horribly banal and after reading the other selections hits you with a flat plop.

Verdict: In conclusion - I'm not sorry I bought it. "Really?" Really. The poems are a pretty good selection, there is a lot of marvelous art, and I think people will be grabbed by the cover. It's just....it could have been so much better.


ISBN: 978-1416939719; Published November 2008 by Simon & Schuster; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Smitten: A Lint-Free Love Story by David Gordon


I don't often post "holiday-related" books, but this one was so perfect....not simperingly sweet and can be used at other times than Valentine's Day! (As proved by the fact that I'm posting it in March, ha ha).
A sock and a mitten are lost. They decide to team up and find their owners - and along the way have arguments, adventures, disasters, and triumphs.
In the end, they realize that they are perfect just the way they are; even with all their lumps, stains, and holes, they make a great pair!
Title: Smitten: A Lint-Free Love Story
Author: David Gordon

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sea Serpent and Me by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Catia Chien



Somehow, I missed this in the Cybils finalists. Now that I've seen it...I want it. Although I often see picturebooks I'll read again and again in storytime, there aren't many that are personal keepers, but this one - definitely. The lovely swooshy watercolors, splashy colors, dreamy underwater bits...they're just perfect. And the writing! It's a lovely story of friendship and letting go.

Anyhow, there are probably other reviewers out there who have reviewed this better because they were not feeling all gooey-eyed at the moment, but I hafta go so I can't look for them right now (-:)

Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Matt Phelan



A very hairy bear - with a very sweet smile - doesn't mind getting his no-hair nose wet, sticky, stung, or stained. But there's one thing his no-hair nose just can't bear....

It's hard to get a picture book to be cute, sweet, and comforting without being maudlin or twee, but Alice Schertle and Matt Phelan have created a strong story that will be enjoyed by both parents and children over and over again.

This is a sweet and furry story for fall, food, or especially bedtime. The warm and comforting progression of the story and the gentle and giggly illustrations will calm down little wigglers and get them ready to curl up for bed - just like the very hairy bear!

You can see some more of Matt Phelan's work on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast or on Matt Phelan's website

Verdict: Highly recommended - a great choice for both individual read-alouds and storytimes


ISBN: 978-0152165680; Published September 2007 by Harcourt; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library; Added to my personal wishlist

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

And the saga ends....


Jack's been a thief and con man, soldier, slave, and judge. He's traveled great physical and mental distances. But the saga is coming to an end and now he, along with Draycos, Alison, and Taneem, are making one final desperate strike to prevent the mass destruction of Draycos' people.
The sixth and final installment in the Dragonback series gets off to a slow start - and you will definitely need to read the previous books - but the final chapters are non-stop action and fans of the series will be happy with the well-rounded ending - and a few startling revelations.
Title: Dragon and Liberator
Author: Timothy Zahn

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: Swift by Robert Blake

A boy sets out with his father on his first hunting trip. Swift, their dog, accompanies them on their search for a bear. But bears can be dangerous - when disaster strikes, Johnnie must trust Swift to get him to help for his father.

This story is at first disconcerting - the characters appear to be contemporary, but the wilderness setting and the bear hunt for obviously needed food doesn't match. However, the author's afterword explains that this story is about homesteading families in Alaska. It's a fascinating little glimpse of the life of modern pioneers, which I hadn't heard of before.

The story is well-written with realistic reactions of the dog and people. The action moves swiftly and is shown not only in the taut style but also in vibrant paintings that accompany the text.

Verdict: This picture book is more suitable for older children, due to the length of the text and sometimes frightening story. Fans of heroic dog and adventure stories will be interested in this authentic look at the lives Alaskan homesteaders.


ISBN: 0399233830; Published September 2007 by Philomel; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library (not by me)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Collection Development; or, why I just bought the Petal Fairies by Daisy Meadows and not the Newbery Honors

So, I was trolling through the kidlitosphere, and feeling sorry for myself because, gosh darn it, I took ALL my antibiotics, and decongestants, and allergy medicine, and drank tons of gatorade and I still CAN'T BREATH when I came across a post from Ms. Yingling about how she chooses books for her 600 middle schoolers.

And I thought, that's IT. That is a much better explanation of a collection development policy than anything I EVER heard in library school, at least for a small library.

It's quite simple - you buy books you know people will read.

Now, I can't quite match Ms. Yingling's being able to put a name to every book - although I serve a fairly small town (pop. 8,000 more or less) we're also part of a consortium and we serve townships, so our service population is closer to 20,000. Plus, I've only been here since May.

But, I've gotten to know quite a few kids, immersed myself in our circ stats, and hovered over the new book shelf like a vulture.

And so....I didn't run out and buy the ALA award and honor books we're missing. I don't buy every starred review in SLJ. I miss out on the beautifully-written-and-angsty-ya-literature-with-deep-meaning. I regretfully abstain from buying beautifully illustrated picture books by Pinkney and Isadora (ok, ok, I bought a COUPLE) and no jazz books, ever, at all.

So, you ask, what the heck AM I buying?

Picturebooks and nonfiction - trucks, dinosaurs, and princesses. I am buying other things of course, but these are key. I think I have a fairly good eye for what kids and parents will love in the picture book area.

Fairy series and Star Wars. I have two large and enthusiastic groups of kids who love, love, love these books. I buy every Daisy Meadows as soon as it comes out, plus other series (if it's got glitter - they love it). And I've been replacing our giant Star Wars cross-sections and visual dictionaries as they fall to pieces from all the love.

Juvenile - lots of different things, but the most recent "winners" I've gotten:
  • Science Fair by Dave Barry and some other guy whose name I can't remember. The reviews were kinda blah, but I took one look at the cover and on to the order list it went. And I was right! It's checked out 2 or 3 times already and we've only had it a month or so.
  • Boys are Dogs by Leslie Margolis. The pink and lime cover caught my eye, I loved the blurb, and it was recommended by Meg Cabot, whose Allie Finkle series goes well here, so I gave it a shot....this one has gone BIG. It checked out from the new shelf right away and every time it comes in it goes out again.
  • All the Warriors tie-ins, manga, and so on.
  • More books "like Wimpy Kid" - Jim Benton's Dear Dumb Diary, Ellie McDoodle
  • Beginning chapter books - Mammoth Academy, Speck's Maybelle books
YA
  • vampire books. and werewolves. Clique. Gossip Girls. Fantasy with girly covers (hey, it's a genre to me).
  • Ellen Hopkins and more novels in verse and/or my life is unbelievably sick stories. (I'd never heard of Ellen Hopkins, but a teen asked me for them and no sooner had I got one than it was STOLEN so I got lots more right away.)
  • Memoirs and biographies of sad childhoods.
Stuff I'm looking to fill in:

I'm looking for good "adventure" stories both in YA and juvenile as I've been asked for these. I'm having trouble picking good ones that aren't fantasy - I've looked at several different series but haven't quite made up my mind.

Nonfiction is a whole other mess. Our nonfiction section is seriously, painfully, outdated. I'm mainly working on getting really good nonfiction for younger readers and updating the science/animals area right now. It's going to be long and arduous.

This all sounds a bit vague....and it is! I'm still working on finding out what the community wants/likes to
read, gaps in our collection, and so on. Plus, hey, I'm sick. I don't have to be coherent.

But this is kind of how I feel about collection development - I buy what people want to read, books I know I can talk people into reading because I love them, and yes, I will buy some things that are never going to have huge circ stats but that I know a few people will want to read.

How do you feel about collection development?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dorothy of Oz by Roger S. Baum, illustrated by Elizabeth Miles

I've been re-reading my Oz collection and scooped up the one Roger S. Baum I own to skim through again. Roger Baum is L. Frank Baum's great-grandson, but unfortunately didn't inherit his writing talent. His Oz books are better than much of the Oz fan material floating around, but far inferior to the originals or to Ruth Plumly Thompson, John R. Neill, or Jack Snow's contributions. Eric Shanower and Edward Einhorn are excellent contemporary Oz writers also. I can't remember why I kept this one however....it's poorly written, with heavy-handed interjections and explanations from the narrator, a whispy thin plot, and heavily coated with sentimentality.

Verdict: There are a few pleasant moments, but only very serious collectors will be interested in this book.

ISBN: 978-0688078485; Published October 1989 by HarperCollins; Purchased for my personal collection

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Footprints in the snow by Mei Matsuoka

Finally, a Real Wolf.

Wolf is tired of reading about all the nasty wolves in his books. He decides to write his own story about "Mr. Nice Wolf". But it's hard to go against your instincts.

I absolutely adore this book. I love the story-within-a-story page edgings, the blocky little mice, the sly endpapers with suitable book titles.
I could - and undoubtedly will in storytime - read over and over the perfect moment when Wolf gets completely caught up in his story and....oh, that rubber ducky! Heh, heh, heh.

And I absolutely am thrilled that here's one "villain" who ISN'T redeemed by a helpful friend. Sometimes wolves are....wolves.

Oh, and I love the sausagey squirrels. And the plump little birds. And the way the words wind around the footprints.

This is definitely going to be a storytime staple for a long time - I think I will use it in my upcoming preschool visits also!

Verdict: Highly recommended.


ISBN: 978-0805087925; Published October 2008 by Henry Holt; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library; Added to my personal wishlist

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: White Owl, Barn Owl by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Michael Foreman


A small girl and her grandpa put up a nesting box in a tree and wait for a barn owl to nest there. When the owl finally comes, it's a magical experience as she and her grandpa observe the great bird.

The narrative between grandfather and granddaughter is filled with simple facts about barn owls' habits and behavior. Additional information is included in captions around the illustrations.

Michael Foreman's illustrations include both blue-hued large paintings and smaller earth-toned images, all with his trademark spare beauty and detail.

Additional information about nesting boxes for owls and a brief index are included.

Verdict: A beautifully written and lovingly illustrated introduction to barn owls.


ISBN: 978-0763633646; Published April 2007 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library