Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Small Persons With Wings by Ellen Booraem

Mellie had a magical secret until the day it disappeared and everything's been downhill from there. Nobody told Mellie that the Small Person with Wings was a secret that shouldn't be shared. Nobody warned her what would happen if she told. But she did. Now her friend is gone, school is a misery, she has no friends, and she realizes in first grade that not even her parents believe her. That's it. No more imagination for Mellie! Unfortunately, she can't get rid of her past, and she has resigned herself to being "fairy fat" for the rest of her school career.

Then her nasty alcoholic grandfather dies, her parents inherit his rickety inn and bar, and Mellie has hopes that 8th grade in a new town will be different...until she sees the drunken fairy. Oops, small person with wings. Suddenly, all her scientific, mathematical facts aren't so helpful. She has to deal with enchanted clocks, a really nasty illusion curse, the annoying boy next door, and lots and lots of Small persons with wings. Will she finally grow into the grandeur her mother has been promising her, or will she be useless and friendless Fairy Fat forever?

Things I loved about this book:
  • I flipped it open at my desk to skim it and suddenly found I had read half of it. It was that enticing.
  • Mellie's weight is neither ignored nor made into the main issue of the book (except on the cover. God forbid publishers should show a stomach that's not svelte).
  • No romance. When her new friend Timmo tries out a kiss, Mellie doesn't suddenly discover that he's really cute and the kiss, although awkward is wonderful....I love Mellie's reaction. Just. So. Perfect.
  • Mellie is prickly. Mellie is tough. Mellie is growing into her grandeur. Mellie is my favorite character in a long time. Go Mellie!
  • Okay, I love all those little fairy houses at the end. It's the fascination of the miniature! I wrote a paper on it! It was very scholarly!
Verdict: Must, must, must have this for your library. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780803734715; Published January 2011 by Dial; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: What to expect when you're excepting larvae by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

I've seen quite a bit of buzz (heh heh heh) for this insect book and decided to take a look at it. So much fun! In question and answer format, Heos, presents facts about larvae and metamorphosis and the laying, hatching, and growth of insects.

She covers topics like what larvae eat - and who eats them, peoples' reactions to bugs, and a fun section on the demise of books and libraries as a haven for bookworms and other bugs. The text is in short, snappy sections, easily read aloud to a large group of preschool and up. I am always looking for more nonfiction read alouds and this one should be a hit!

The book includes a glossary, bibliography, and further reading and websites to check out for more information. I was pleased to see Nic Bishop's Butterflies and Moths listed as further reading. These lists often seem to consist of random mass-produced nonfiction but this one has some very nice titles on it.

Jorisch's illustrations are colorful and hilarious without being too cartoony. Worried mama butterflies, smug ladybug mothers, terrified aphids, and the most hilarious illustration of the food chain I've ever seen will make this book an instant hit!

Verdict: There are plenty of titles about insects, but this is the first I've seen that specifically covers larvae and the early cycle of insect life. It's informative, funny, and will appeal to kids from preschool up through third grade. Recommended!

ISBN: 9780761358589; Published April 2011 by Lerner; Egalley provided by publisher through Netgalley

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Can Read Carnival

Welcome to the August I Can Read Carnival! This is a great time to be thinking about early and beginning readers, as kids attend school for the first time or return after a summer (hopefully!) of reading.

At my public library, I encourage early and beginning readers by offering a large selection of easy readers and beginning chapter books which include a variety of formats and genres such as graphic novels, nonfiction, and magazines. I emphasize early literacy skills in my preschool programming and I offer after school programs for all ages, including preschool through the early grades, to encourage library use and literacy. How do you, or your local library, encourage early readers?

Easy Readers

Brimful Curiosities has a post on the ever-popular Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold. This series in no way has waned in popularity at my library - after purchasing 2nd copies of the whole series, I've found it's STILL not enough to meet demand!

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil has a great nonfiction easy reader, Ant Antics. Nonfiction easy readers are a new phenomenon at my library and a very popular one!

Beginning Chapter Books

Gail Gauthier (who has written several great beginning chapter books) at Original Content reviews After Happily Ever After: Cinderella and the Mean Queen by Tony Bradman

Kate at Secrets and Sharing Soda has a review of a new favorite series at my library, Stephanie Greene's Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade

I have a review of Julie Sternberg's Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie. Although this wasn't my favorite books, mainly for philosophical reasons, the little girls I gave the galley to really liked it. I also have a review from last year of a great series called Doyle and Fossey, Science Detectives by Michele Torrey. Over the past year, this series has proven to be extremely popular with beginning readers and their parents and I'm excited to highlight it again!

Picture Books and Other Links

Debbie Clement at Rainbows within Reach blogs about winning a 2011 Indie Award for Excellence for her picture book Red, White, and Blue, which is intended to be used in classrooms with younger grades. She also has an author interview video, where you can see some of the original quilts she created for the book.

Mary Ann Scheuer at Great Kids Books has several reviews of camping books, perfect for new and emerging readers to enjoy with an adult. She also has a fun blog post on books that play with your expectations, a good way to practice narrative skills with new readers!

Cath in the Hat has a post on upcoming books for new and beginning readers she's looking forward to. I agree with the excitement about Nursery Rhyme Comics - anything that includes Nick Bruel has got to be good!

Anastasia Suen at 5 Great Books has 5 great picture books for young readers on Labor Day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

This week at the library; or, vacation only happens in my head

I always think the week(s) without programs will be more relaxing than they are. This week I...

  • Dealt with a truly massive influx of people on Monday, including two deaf patrons (we have a couple of regular patrons who are deaf and we kinda have rapport in place, but new people are hard b/c there's a lot to explain about how things work) a large group home with a list of requests ranging from movies with scenarios to talk about to Godzilla and King Kong books. At least five new families visiting for the first time, and a woman who spoke very little English but who braved the language barrier to ask me for books on painting flowers, reminding me once again that the five languages I have studied are useless. Then we had the kids who wanted Fly Guy books, of which I just purchased second copies of every title and shelved them on Friday. They were all gone. I need third copies!
  • Realized that my new organization of programming resources is not quite right and needs a little adjustment. Still trying to find the perfect organization that will be flexible and efficient. So I went home and spent the evening reorganizing my preschool interactive programs.
  • Tuesday was more program planning, I'm happier with the organization now and have started working on building up Preschool Interactive plans to choose from throughout the fall
  • Wednesday. Still working on Preschool Interactive and other fall programming, school contacts/visits/letters, new books, cleaning off desk, cleaning out Storyroom for the fall, searching for missing books from the inventory...
  • Thursday. More of the same.
  • Friday. Almost done with Preschool Interactive plans! Need to start sending out school letters and contacting teachers, only two responses from my early pokes so far.
In other thoughts, I'm unsatisfied with my planning in general. It's not going far enough. I've worked hard the last three years to offer programming to as many age groups and demographics as possible. I can see the spots where I'm not serving certain populations. Of course, I always have ideas for improvement. I have well-attended programs in general, lots of positive feedback, but I don't feel as though I've really crafted a long-term vision for the youth services department. I'm trying to think of a way to put something together that would encompass a vision for all areas of the department, physical space, programming, collection, and service that works towards a sustainable overall view of the department's services and future. Does anyone have such a thing for their department they'd be willing to share? 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mr. Duck Means Business by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Jeff Mack

Mr. Duck does not want visitors. His pond is peppered with signs and he likes his quiet and very scheduled life. Then one day...a pig shows up! Then a cow! Then chicks! Suddenly, Mr. Duck's pond is full of animals and his peaceful life and quiet pond are in complete chaos. When he finally gets rid of all the animals, he realizes his life is missing something...and comes up with a compromise that will give everyone a little of what they want.

The basic plot, of course, is very similar to Bonny Becker's popular Visitor for Bear; both stories feature a curmudgeon who doesn't want company, or to have his quiet life disrupted. However, Mr. Duck is a more riotous romp, with an increasingly hilarious flood of excited animals and sounds. This story is more suited to a storytime and will be perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who are feeling a bit wiggly.

Jeff Mack's illustrations have humorous expressions and lots of texture and color throughout the illustrations especially in the animals' coats. This is the perfect story for younger kids who want a story they can oink and moo along with.

Verdict: Don't let the plot similarities stop you from adding this funny picture book to your collection. Great for storytimes on farm animals and just for fun! Recommended.

ISBN: 9781416985228; Published January 2011 by Simon & Schuster; Borrowed from the library

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Like pickle juice on a cookie by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

I’m not sure I can write about this beginning chapter book objectively, because I have some very strong opinions on what I think of as the American Daycare Culture and this book pinged off many of my ranting sensors. So, this is more of a rant than a review. Skip or read, as you prefer.

Ellie is going to tell us the story of her very bad August before third grade. One day, her parents sit her down and tell her the bad news: Bibi is leaving. Bibi has been her babysitter her whole life. Bibi, “makes me soup when I am sick…holds my feet when I do handstands…knows which of my teeth are loose…rubs my back when I am tired…”

In other words, Ellie’s parent is leaving. She’s the one who knows all Ellie’s routines, puts her to bed when her parents are late (which appears to be often) and picks her up from school. Ellie’s parents take a little time off work (punctuated with Very Important phone calls) to console Ellie, try to get her to be friends with the aggressive little girl downstairs, and finally find her another babysitter, Natalie, and Ellie learns to like her.

Can you feel the rant building? Yep. Why the heck did Ellie’s parents have a child? Bibi has apparently spent more time with her than her parents and witnessed all her childhood memories. Ellie’s parents are a little more caring than some neglectful parents, but not much, in my opinion. Ellie’s devastation when Bibi leaves verges on clinical depression but she’s quickly forced into accepting perky Natalie. In other words, her mother is gone and now she has a big sister. I see therapy ahead for Ellie, and some serious abandonment and relationship issues.

I’m feeling a bit ranty about this because of some of the problems we’ve been having with our library, as well as some work I’ve been doing with a why-the-heck-did-you-have-kids daycare, where parents can dump their kids off and the daycare dresses, feeds, and sends them to school, then picks them up after school, helps them with homework, feeds, and otherwise takes the place of their parents until the poor, busy people pick them up and take them home to bed. In a few years, many of those kids will be the 5th, 6th, and 7th graders – and younger siblings – who hang out at our library for two or more hours after school, often not going home or getting picked up by their parents until well five or even six.

When do these kids interact with caring adults, other than a harassed teacher who’s dealing with 20 or more kids at the same time. From what they’ve told me, they spend their weekends watching tv and playing video games. Who listens to them when they have a problem at school, when they’re scared or worried? Who shows them there’s a world of education and experience outside the four walls of their school? Who makes sure they’re not getting bullied and teaches them how to interact with groups other than their peers? Who encourages their interests and expands their minds beyond homework and tv?

Well, transient nannies if they’re fortunate enough to live in Ellie’s world. If they’re not, a few more years down the road and they’ll be back in the library, functionally illiterate, unemployed, stuck in bad marriages or relationships, and producing more kids for the cycle to start over.

*deep breath* I did mention I felt strongly about this didn’t I? I’m not saying every woman should be a stay at home mom – or every father either. There are many caring parents who don’t spend every minute of the day with their children, who work hard to have time with their kids and arrange for the best possible situations for them. Many kids turn out fine without much contact with their parents. But it still makes me mad.

Verdict: If you live in an area where there are a lot of kids with nannies, you might consider this book. It could also be comforting for a child who’s lost a beloved teacher (*cough* educational babysitter *cough*). The publisher recommends ages 8-10, but the language has the stilted and choppy style of an easy reader, so I wouldn’t hand this to anyone over nine at the most and would say it’s best for much younger kids.

ISBN: 9780810984240; Published March 2011 by Amulet; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Wheels of Change: How women rode the bicycle to freedom by Sue Macy

This interesting micro history is full of fascinating tidbits and and packed with period photography and ephemera. But will kids read it?

Macy begins with the invention and gradual improvement of the bicycle, moving naturally into the changes it made in women's lives and society in general, from improved roads to advertising. She looks at the responses from women who encouraged the use of the bicycle for health and independence, from men who felt it made women too independent, and from women who thought it encouraged loose morals. Reactions from police, changes in fashion, professional cyclists and races, every conceivable aspect is addressed here.

The book includes excerpts from newspapers and magazines of the day, photographs, advertising, maps, quotes, and more. There is also a timeline, resources, and index, and sources of quotes and illustrations.

It's not a lengthy book - only 95 pages - and written in a brisk, fast-paced style. Large sections of text are broken up with insets of various information and ephemera, as well as illustrations.

I found it interesting, but how many kids are interested in the history of cycling and its effect on women's rights? I think we're back again to the public vs. school library. When kids check out nonfiction at my library, it's casual; they like animals or sports or books about machines or war, so they check them out. A small portion of circulation is kids who need books for specific assignments; biographies of a certain length, obscure inventors, weird animals, or biomes are the main topics. But kids are reading more challenging nonfiction - especially history, which doesn't circulate much. I fairly sure they're checking out more nonfiction from their school libraries, where they have a closer relationship with the school librarian and more immediate access to materials for assignments.

Verdict: Not a good fit for my library, due to lack of interest, but I would recommend this to a school library, especially a middle school or high school library, or to a large public library.

ISBN: 9781426307621; Published January 2011 by National Geographic; Borrowed from the library

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It may be 80 degrees outside, but fall is officially here!

Because I have a giant lovely box of review books from Raab, representing Kids Can Press, Goosebottom, Jane Yolen, and more! Things I'm especially looking forward to reading and reviewing over the next few weeks...

Kids Can Press' graphic novels have been really great, Sam &, Binky, and Tower of Treasure (Three Thieves), and I'm exciting to see new sequels and new series, all in great bindings of course. Yay KCP!
  • Big City Otto: Elephants Never Forget by Bill Slavin
    • Why has nobody ever thought to make more graphic novels about elephants?
  • Luz sees the light by Claudia Davila
  • Sign of the Black Rock by Scott Chantler (squee!!! it's the next Three Thieves book!!! It has an exciting cover!!!
  • Binky Under Pressure (yayyyyy!!! more Binky!!!)
And of course there are marvelous new picture books from KCP!!
  • Let's count to 100 by Masayuki Sebe. Someone asked me for a counting to 100 book several months ago and I couldn't find anything good. Now I need look no further! I read this to my friends at a BYOB party (bring your own book) and they all agreed it was a winner!
  • Hocus Pocus by Sylvie Desrosiers (we all loved this one too)
  • My name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee (fun color scheme!)
  • Kitten's Winter by Eugenie Fernandes (we LOVE this series!)
And exciting new nonfiction!
  • Biomimicry: inventions inspired by nature by Dora Lee (very cool illustrations)
  • Look at that building! by Scot Ritchie (this is the guy who did Follow that map, which is really cool)

Goosebottom Press has a new set in the Thinking Girls Treasury - Dastardly Dames. One of the things I really liked about their princess series was the many "non-standard" princesses they included and I'm pleased to see this set includes some lesser-known women as well.

And some exciting new offerings from Jane Yolen, including Sister Bear a Norse tale, which I'm very excited about and Snow in Summer, a retelling of Snow White set in Appalachia which looks middle grade or teen and has a very lovely cover.

Lots more lovely things in the box, but these are the ones I'm really excited about. Look for in-depth reviews, coming soon!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

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

Phew! Summer reading over! I have two weeks to plan the fall programs in detail, order supplies, organize displays, do the publicity, etc. I'm also evaluating the summer reading program and thinking about how next year will be different!

This week I...

  • Finished all the September/October publicity (flyers, press releases, website, facebook, google calendar, brochures, and displays)
  • Put together the special display for September Make it and Take it
  • Wrote my share of the Sep/Oct newsletter
  • Visited CCBC with several other ys librarians in Madison
  • Summer reading report
  • Desk time, including Saturday
  • Had a visit from the YS consultant for our area
  • Reorganized all my programming resources and plans, check it out!
Question of the week: Do you think "well-written" and "good" books (and by that I mean books with good reviews, "depth", innovative formats, strong settings, etc.) automatically equal kid appeal?


Friday, August 19, 2011

Three hens and a peacock by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Henry Cole

A peacock suddenly shows up on a sleepy farm. Not knowing how farm animals are supposed to behave, he does what he does best; shows off his feathers and shrieks. He quickly becomes the big attraction for the farmstand and the farm is busier and happier than ever. Until the chickens decide they're doing all the work and the peacock isn't helping at all!

So they switch places for the day, with the dolled-up hens as roadside attractions and the peacock trying his best to lay eggs. But male peacocks, of course, can't lay eggs and ordinary hens, even in jewelry, aren't very impressive - or big enough to catch the attention of passing cars. Both sides realize their jobs are important and require more effort than they had expected. Reconciled to their own jobs, the peacock and the hens switch back and all is peaceful once more. Until...

The text is a little lengthy, but moves smoothly through the story, emphasizing the sounds of the farm and the clash of personalities between the different fowl. The real draw for this picture book is Henry Cole's illustrations from the sleepy dog to the pop-eyed chickens, with the rather feather-headed peacock providing giggles all the way with his transparent face showing every emotion, from worried to proud to determined to crestfallen.

This story is a funny retelling of the Norwegian folktale, sometimes called "The day the husband minded the house" where a husband scornful of his wife's labors switches places with her and discovers just how hard her job is. Henry Cole's illustrations are always fun and kids of all ages will enjoy this story.

Verdict: Not a required purchase, but an excellent book for storytimes and a good addition to any picture book collection.

ISBN: 9781561455645; Published March 2011 by Peachtree; Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fatty Legs: A True Story by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton & Christy Jordan-Fenton, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holms

I’ve looked at several different accounts of residential schools, the places where native Americans from different areas were sent to be “civilized”, in Canada specifically from the mid-1800s to the 1960s. This is the best story I’ve found so far for younger children to explain this tragic episode in history.

This is the true story of one of the authors, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, told with the help of her daughter-in-law, Christy Jordan-Fenton. Olemaun, a member of the Inuvialuktun people group of the western Arctic, is fascinated by the idea of reading. Her older sister, Ayouniq, has been to the residential school and is now called Rosie and she can read from the books their father gave her. Olemaun begs constantly to be allowed to attend the school, despite the warnings from both her father and Rosie of how the outsiders will humiliate her and crush her spirit. But Olemaun is stubborn and finally her father gives in. She will go to the outsider’s school. Olemaun is sure that she will learn to read right away and as long as she is good she will not be punished. She will quickly return to her family with her new skills and all will be well.

She is wrong. A cruel nun, who Olemaun dubs the Raven, cuts her hair, gives her a new name, Margaret, and jeers at her because she cannot speak English. She has one friend from her own tribe, Agnes, but the other girls make fun of them. Margaret learns, to her horror, that she will not learn to read for many months; there is no school in the summer, only work and constant abuse from the other girls, the nuns, and occasionally the brothers. She is humiliated, hungry, and angry. When it is finally time to learn to read, the cruel Raven humiliates Margaret for her ignorance.

But Margaret refuses to be broken. She studies hard and learns to read, write, and do arithmetic. She plans to learn as much as she can so she can go home before another tortuous summer. Then the letter comes. The ice has not broken, her parents cannot return, and she is trapped for another year. The Raven dictates her letters so she cannot write home to beg her parents to send someone, and when the girls go on radio to talk to their parents, they are given a script. Margaret still stands firm; she refuses to speak one word. The Raven’s final humiliation is a pair of bright red stockings, when all the other girls receive new grey ones. Now Margaret must suffer even more humiliation and abuse from the other girls. Even Agnes is reluctant to be her friend anymore and share in the abuse. But Margaret’s spirit remains strong and she finds a way to fight back and finally break the Raven’s hold over her. Margaret returns to her family the next year but it is a painful reunion as she must learn to be a member of her tribe again, rather than an outsider.

After notes explain what happened to Olemaun/Margaret after she returned to her family and discuss residential schools, how they damaged native tribes and how the children who suffered there are finally able to speak out against what happened to them. The small photos sprinkled throughout the book are footnoted to the back pages, where they appear full size. There are short biographical pieces on each of the authors and the illustrator. Liz Amini-Holmes’ illustrations are atmospheric and dark, showing Olemaun and her family, and her encounters with the nuns and other girls at the school. The illustrations add emotional depth to the retelling of Margaret’s story.

This is an excellent book to hand to 8-12 year olds as well as teens to explain the impact residential schools have had on native groups. The authors don’t shy away from the harsh realities, but the story is told in a way that doesn’t emphasize the abuse, but rather the indomitable spirit of Margaret. Children will be able to empathize with her trials, thinking of times they have been teased or had a teacher who disliked them, rather than seeing this as a remote historical event.

Verdict: Highly recommended for your nonfiction sections. Real stories always have much more of an impact than bland histories and this story really brings home a part of North American history many people are unfamiliar with. I’m going to put it in my biography section.

ISBN: 9781554512478; Published June 2010 by Annick; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: The Sea Wolves by Ian McAllister & Nicholas Read

When I read Ian McAllister's Salmon Bears about the amazing bears in the Great Bear Rainforest on the Northwestern coast, I was completely fascinated. I don't know why I never got around to reviewing that title, but believe me it is amazing. A beautifully written look into an entire habitat I had no idea existed. Completely...fascinating.

So, I was excited to see that McAllister has written a second book on another unique habitant of the Grea Bear Rainforest; the coastal wolves that share the forest with the bears. McAllister introduces us to these wolves by way of a brief history of the wolf and its poor treatment in history and wildlife management. Then we plunge right into the amazing lives of these wolves. They fish, swim, live on islands, and inhabit a beautiful and harsh landscape gorgeously caught by McAllister's photographs.

The story of the wolves is roughly arranged into seasons, showing how they live and survive in spring, summer, fall, and winter. The final two chapters talk about the threats the coastal wolves - and the Great Bear Rainforest - face from many sources, especially logging and oil. McAllister's passion and fascination with his subject is clear and he includes links to the various informational sources and support groups for the rainforest, many of which he is involved in or has created. For younger children, I would want a more balanced approach to the complicated issues facing the rainforest and the people and animals who live there, but this book is aimed at a middle grade to adult audience, which I would expect to recognize McAllister's passion for his subject and be capable of exploring the subject further for additional viewpoints.

Verdict: Animal fact books are often considered the domain of younger readers, but this book and Salmon Bears are two volumes that will grab the interest of tweens and teens still interested in animals and now wanting something with a little more depth and detail. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781554692064; Published October 2010 by Orca; Borrowed from the library

Saturday, August 13, 2011

This week at the library; or, IT'S FINALLY OVER

The last week. Will I make it through?

Sunday. Having run out of budget money, I dragooned several staff members into baking cookies for our final events and spent most of Sunday baking my own contributions.

8:45 Arrive at work
9-1:00 Desk time (A lot of weird stuff happened, but it pretty much does every Monday and I've forgotten specifics)
1:15 Lunch
1:30-3:00 Staff meeting (Why does our library have so many items destroyed by dogs? Where are the missing inventory lists? And other such fun topics)
3:00 Set up Storyroom for movie - move tables, bring out chairs, bring down screen from upstairs, set up AV cart *mutter mutter*
3:30 Opened the doors and immediately had 8 boys solemnly lined up in the chairs and surreptitiously poking each other. Ended up with about 20 people total for our showing of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. No problems with the food this time; nobody touched it. Asked the boys afterward why they didn't eat the cookies "Oh man, we can EAT those? Cool!" and 25 cookies disappeared in less than a minute.
5:00 Take down AV equipment, reset room for storytime the next morning.

12:00 Arrive at work, desk time. Realize I still don't have that night's movie, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, beg neighboring librarian to bring it over.
3:00 Desk time over, work on publicity for fall, set up room for movie, bring down AV cart, you get the idea
5:00 Go home for dinner. Walk back
6:45 Sara the librarian arrives with the movie. Unfortunately, there are no teens.
6:55 A teen comes.
7:00 Her friend shows up, we decide we'd rather watch Beastly (which Sara has in her magic bag) and the movie begins. I work on publicity in my office, through which I can see the Storyroom.
8:00 The computer shuts itself down and the library closes. I restart the computer and make sure everyone is ok staying late.
8:30 Movie ends, I reset the room, take down the AV cart, etc. etc. hang around outside with the girls to make sure they get picked up, and walk home.

9:00-1:00 Desk time. I cleverly traded with another staff member so I wouldn't be working too many nights this week, forgetting that I had to be here tonight anyways because I'm setting up the Scholastic Bookfair, so I just got myself an additional 4 hours at work, on the desk. Grarph. Change all fall teen programs to 6:00 instead of 6:30 to hopefully obviate any more unscheduled after hours programs, which has happened twice this summer now. Talk to Miss P after baby storytime about potential programming.
1:00-2:00 Setup for Lego Building Club, publicity, supervise volunteer.
2:00 Go home for lunch (I can't seem to remember or find anything to take with me to eat, but I live half a mile down the street so whatever)
3:00-5:00 Lego Building Club, very small group, just 20 kids, chat with parents, have an exasperated conversation with tweens we kicked out of the library that morning for being noisy who want to come back "Why don't you go to the park?"
"We went there. We got sweaty and there's no drinking fountain"
"What are you going to DO in the library?"
"Just read! ... and talk with our friends. Quietly! Just hang out"
"Why don't you hang out at home"
"There's no one there and we're not allowed to go home when there's no one there."
"Where do your parents expect you to be?"
5:00-7:30 Set up bookfair

8:00 Conference call sort of at home. Not really work-related, but thrown in there to show how CRAZY my life is this week.
8:45-10:00 Set up bookfair, move tables, figure out the register, set up Preschool Interactive, show volunteer how register works
10:00-11:30 We had a really good group for my last Preschool Interactive of the summer. Of course, all but about 3 of the kids are going into 4k/daycare/kindergarten and those 3 are going to be doing something else on my PI days. Sigh.
11:30-1:30 My turn to run the bookfair! Not a ton of people buying, but quite a few and I think it's worth the time and effort - although I might try not to schedule it concurrently with my busiest week next year!
1:30-2:00 I grab some lunch
2:00-5:00 Desk time, with some breaks for helping with the bookfair
5:00-5:30 Move tables, total receipts, etc. from bookfair.

8:15-9:00 I come in to set up the bookfair (because of our theft problem, I have to partially take down the fair every night and reset it in the morning) Then I go run errands and go home to bake cupcakes for tomorrow.
1:00-5:45 Back to work, cleaning piles of stuff off desk, help with bookfair, my wonderful summer intern showed up, but we sent her back home after an hour because I think she was going into labor!! set up stat project for aide, realize I don't have enough materials for craft project tomorrow, more bookfair stuff, worked on summer reading report, bring up Wii and stuff for teen program
5:45-7:30 Teen end of summer reading pizza party! Five girls came, only one of which was actually signed up for the duration of the program, another signed up two weeks ago, and the last three said they hadn't read this summer, although they assured me that they 1. usually read over the summer, 2. read, but only during school 3. read sometimes. They played some Wii and, disdaining my beading supplies requested thread for friendship bracelets, which I supplied. Then we had pizza and soda (and an unofficial burping contest) and finished up with library hide and seek, which is basically hiding in the dark library, waiting for the librarian (me) to find you, then screaming and running away. It helps if several people are asking "what are we doing?" throughout and some people are hiding while others are wandering around and running. But everyone had fun and several said they'd come to teen programs in the fall if I just did fun stuff and there was food (they requested a weekly lock-in and promised to bring more friends, but I don't think I can do that)
7:30-8:00 Some of the parents were late, so we hung out in front of the library and waited. I didn't want to leave them, although it wasn't dark, because it's pretty isolated there.
*Current teen culture trends I gathered: It is now cool to pretend to be a baby. No, really. Two of the girls had pacifiers, not the candy pacifiers I thought they were but REAL pacifiers. They informed me "it's cool to pretend to be a baby" and said one of their friends had a baby bottle. Okaaay. Also, glow-in-the-dark hair dye is potentially cool (only one of them had been allowed to use it) and "Squinkies" are not exactly cool (their younger siblings are really into them) they are marginally cute and might be cool if their younger sisters didn't really like them.*
I realize when I get home that the pinata, which I paid a local to make, isn't here! She was going to drop it off on Friday! Where is it? Aghhh!

9:00-10:30 I run to the store to get paper bags for our kite craft, then set up the bookfair for the day, print fall calendars for distribution, call to find out where my pinata is, call to find out where my cookies are, volunteers come in, set up for face painting, fill pinatas, set up for program.
10:30-11:30 Party! We made kites, die cut puppets, masks, frosted and ate cookies and cupcakes and fruit, went through two pinatas, face painting, and the bookfair was running. My bookfair volunteer needed more instruction on the register than I had time to give, so she came in and helped with the program with my teen volunteer and my aide ran the register. About 80 happy kids and parents, $16 in donations in addition to our bookfair totals (I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but each dollar represents a happy parent!). Handing out tickets for the face painting didn't work as well as I'd hoped and everything was very chaotic but fun!
11:30-1:00 Last people waiting for face painting, they hung out in the library until we called them. Lots of clean up - tissue and bits of stuff from pinatas, glitter from crafts, frosting, etc. and everything had to be moved back to the library. Vacuuming, scrubbing tables, we finally finished! My second bookfair volunteer came at 12 and things calmed down a little.
1:00-2:00 Sort money and start totalling bookfair receipts, go through books for repair, break down summer reading stuff, basically a little breathing space.
2:00-2:40 Take down bookfair - I had several volunteers so it went fast!
2:40-3:30 Final financial forms and I'll just get the check from the Friends on Monday and we're done! We made about $500 in Scholastic Dollars, which is GREAT!

Hard to believe, but the week is OVER! I am looking forward to going back to working 40 hour weeks, having lunch, and two weeks of no programs to plan the fall!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Girl Stolen by April Henry [SPOILERS]

Someone passed me this ARC earlier last year, and I sat down to skim it...and was immediately caught up in the lightning-fast action and tense atmosphere.

Cheyenne is sleeping in the car while her stepmother gets medicine for her pneumonia. Suddenly, the car is stolen and Cheyenne along with it. Griffin just needed the car for his dad, he hadn't meant to kidnap anybody. But he did. Now things are getting complicated fast - Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne's dad is wealthy, his men have a grudge against the rich girl who's had everything they haven't, and Griffin is, as he has always been, helpless before his dad's anger.

And Cheyenne is blind. Still trying to accept the accident that took her sight and her mom, Cheyenne has to draw even more on her inner strength to survive yet another ordeal.

This is a fast-moving thriller with deftly drawn characters and plenty of excitement, drama, and mystery.

Verdict: Hand this one to teens - male and female - who like tightly plotted thrillers and are fans of Gail Giles and Todd Strasser.

ISBN: 9780805090055; Published October 2010 by Henry Holt; ARC passed on from another librarian last summer.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: The Manatee Scientists by Peter Lourie

 The Manatee Scientists follows the work of two groups of scientists; one tracing the movements and numbers of manatees in Florida, the others researching the elusive manatees in the Amazon river. As Lourie discusses the scientist's work and interviews them on their progress and goals, he includes their thoughts and his own researches on conservation and the efforts needed to preserve an endangered species.

This addition to the Scientists in the Field series contains a lot of interesting information and is nicely put together, but it doesn't quite come up to the high standard of some of the other titles. I think the problem is there are too many topics - the more easily studied Florida manatees, the Amazonian manatees where research is just beginning, and the vast topic of conservation and the fight to save endangered species.

I think the book would have been improved if it had focused on the Amazonian manatees, which was the bulk of the book anyways. The connection between preservation of endangered species and working with native populations is one of the things I find fascinating about many titles in the series and I would have liked to see this explored further.

Verdict: Although not the best of the series, still a strong entry and manatees are a popular topic. I would recommend having this title for older kids and Nat'l Geographic's Face to Face with Manatees for younger readers.

ISBN: 9780547152547; Published April 2011 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Saturday, August 6, 2011

This week at the library; or, or, or, second to last week of summer reading


  • Last week I redid the entire set up of the storyroom for the movie Howl's Moving Castle and nobody came. This week I put out a few chairs and 20 people showed up. I also had parents complain (after the fact of course, when I couldn't do anything about it) that some kids were "too noisy" and "licked all the frosting off the cookies." more unsupervised movies? So, no more movies?
  • Program meeting - can I run Make it and Take it every week through the fall with only 200 left in my program and supply budget? Stay tuned....
  • Lots of volunteers showed up today.
  • I left at 2, since I had cancelled the evening book club (only one person checked out the book) and I had a meeting in Chicago at 6:30.

  • Picked up Sara-the-librarian from the next town and went to Michael Sullivan's talk on Connecting Boys With Books. It wasn't really anything I wasn't already familiar with - boys' brains develop slower/differently, lexiles suck, and kids should read what they want. While I can't do any of the school-related programs he suggests (and yeah, I get that it doesn't cost anything in the way of supplies, but when you're the only children's librarian and are doing collection development, reference/reader's advisory, publicity, and a minimum of 3 programs a week, time = money) some of his suggestions did spark off for me ideas on how to change Make it and Take it for the coming year. More later.
  • Got back barely in time for our afternoon program, Remnants of the Rainforest with Dino Tlachac of Natures Niche. If you ever have the opportunity to get this guy, DO IT. Our most successful program this year, nearly 200 people came, he was amazing, helped with setup, the kids loved him, the parents loved him, and the animals were seriously cool, everything from a Mata-Mata to a Guinea Pig!
  • We're just going to forget about that evening on the desk. It was a looooong day.
  • Sigh. Summer is over and my Preschool Interactive group drastically shrunk. Lots of my fave little girls are gone; summer visitors have returned home, teacher's kids are back in daycare, etc. etc. Sniff. Only about 8 girls today (and a couple boys for part of the program, but for some reason I ended up with a very female group this year)
  • Trying to do all the last-minute planning for all our final programs next week and start thinking seriously about the fall. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Miss Lina's Ballerinas by Grace Maccarone, illustrated by Christine Davenier

Sweet and perky rhymes accompany vibrant, glowing pink illustrations in the latest must-have ballet book for little girls who love all things dancing and dainty. Eight little girls dance all day under the instruction of Miss Lina. They dance in pairs and patterns...until a new little girl shows up at the ballet studio. Chaos ensues, until Miss Lina shows them how to divide into trios and they dance happily once again.

The text is light and frothy, with lines reminiscent of Madeline, "In a cozy white house, in the town of Messina,/eight little girls studied dance with Miss Lina." There are a few ballet terms sprinkled in and the rhymes move smoothly and pleasantly.

The real attraction in this book are Christine Davenier's glowing illustrations. Her perky little girls in Hallie Durand's Dessert chapter books are fleshed out in this homage to little girls and their love of dancing - and pink tutus. Each girl has a unique hairstyle and expression, ranging from serene to cheeky and they swirl and spin through the zoo, on the beach, at school, and at home in happy movement.

Verdict: You can never have too many pink ballet books and the glowing illustrations in this one will make it an instant favorite with children and adults alike. I'll have to see what budget I have left for picture books at the end of the year though...

ISBN: 9780312382438; Published October 2010 by Macmillan (Feiwel and Friends); Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Angel in my pocket by Ilene Cooper

    Bette's sister Barbra has been there for her ever since their mother died. Bette loves and resents her constant presence and when Barbra goes to college and starts building a new life for herself, Bette isn't sure what she feels. Bette stopped singing when her mother died and she's worried that her special performing arts school won't let her stay much longer. Then Bette's father rents out one of their apartments to a strange woman named Gabi. She beautiful and friendly and Bette hates her, but Gabi's warmth can't be denied for long. With Gabi's help and a somewhat combative friendship with Joe, an odd boy at school, she finds herself singing and happy again.
     Joe knows he doesn't belong at the stupid performing arts school like Bette. Joe releases his anger at himself, his father who abandoned them, and the world by bullying and stealing from Andy Minkus, a helpless kid at school. When he sees Bette's growing happiness, and the odd little coin she carries, he steals it. The coin doesn't magically fix his life, but the kindness of the stage manager, Michael, his own talents of carpentry, and Andy Minkus' decision to do good deeds for him change his life.

   Andy is surprised when Joe gives him an odd little coin, but he doesn't think he really needs a good luck piece, so he gives it to his twin sister, Vivi. Vivi used to be happy, best friends with Bette, and a star piano player at their school. She fought back against the asthma and enjoyed life. But when her asthma got worse and the medicine she had to take made her gain weight, she gave up. Appearances are important to Vivi and she can't stand the look of the person she's become. It takes a lot of patience and some honesty from Andy, Bette, and their new friend Joe before Vivi starts to have a balanced perspective on the world again. With the help of her new doctor, Dr. Raphael, and a handsome and romantic boy named Uri that she meets at her 13th birthday celebration, Vivi embraces life again and starts to feel beautiful once more.

The characters in this book were vividly portrayed and extremely interesting; which made the structure of the book problematic for me. Every time I started to feel invested in a character, the story wrenched on to the next section of plot. I don't know if this would bother kids, but having basically three completely separate stories in the book bugged me. The second thing that bugged me was Vivi's story. She's starting to feel better about herself, Dr. Raphael has some new ideas and medicines that are helping with her asthma, she's playing the piano again (although she doesn't miraculously get the accompaniment part she wants) and she's repairing her friendships. But that's not enough to completely "cure" her. Oh, no. She has to be validated by a stunningly handsome boy (with a scar of course, so he can sympathize with her) and get her first kiss. That was so....unnecessary and it really jarred on me. Andy's crush on Bette felt more natural and realistic, although he comes off as waaaay more mature than any other 13 year old boy I've ever met. But...seriously, Vivi basically needs a summer romance (yes, yes, he's an angel, I GET it) to feel good about herself. How long will that last? What if she doesn't find another boy who thinks she's beautiful? It's clear to me that Vivi is still very focused on appearances by the end of the story and if the miracle cure Dr. Raphael so handily produces doesn't slim her down, she's probably going to sink back into depression.

Of course, these are just the things that bugged me. It was interesting to see a middle grade book that deals, even lightly, with religion. The characters are nuanced and the stories have just enough drama to be fascinating and not enough to push it over the top. I don't think most kids will really care about the odd structure of the book or Vivi's shallowness. Despite the flaws, it's a good story and definitely worth handing to kids who like realistic fiction or want something with a little bit of mysticism about it.

Verdict: An additional purchase, but worth adding if you have fans of realistic contemporary fiction looking for something in the 9-13 age range that's not too mature but still deals with real issues.

ISBN: 9780312370145; Published March 2011 by Macmillan (Feiwel and Friends) March 2011; ARC provided by publisher

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Is that a fact? Can an old dog learn new tricks? and other questions about animals by Buffy Silverman, illustrated by Colin Thompson

You can never really have too many animal books or fact books. This entry in Lerner's Is that a fact? series combines these two most popular nonfiction subjects into a fun, fact-packed book. This collection of facts looks at old sayings about animals, devoting a spread to each old question. Questions include, "Can an alligator really live in the sewer?" "Do opossums really hang by their tails when they sleep?" and the titular "Can an old dog learn new tricks?".

There is a basic yes or no answer to each question, along with photographs on one page, then additional information and research on the facing page. The spread about training old dogs tell us yes, pets can be trained at any age, while the facing page explains that it takes longer to train an older dog, talks about memory and brain cells, and how research into older dogs' memory and learning abilities may help with older humans' memories and ability to learn.

The mixture of cartoons and photographs, with lots of panels and text balloons, colored text, different fonts, and backgrounds is eye-catching and will attract children who want a quick read with interesting facts and animals.

Verdict: This is a fun, if additional, series. This particular title doesn't really cover any new ground, but it's colorful and attractive and kids will enjoy reading this and other titles in the series. It's available in paperback and library bound - the paperback is more affordable, of course, but these are very slim volumes and may be lost on the shelf if you don't buy the more expensive library bound addition.

ISBN: 9780761364054; Published March 2010 by Lerner; Review copy provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011