Monday, October 31, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday! Please leave your links in the comments, or email them to jeanlittlelibrary(a)gmail(dot)com.

By the numbers...

300s (Social Sciences - Fashion, Life in General)
500s & 600s (Science - Trees, Plants, Animals, Math and Applied Science - Trains)
700s (Arts and Entertainment - Dance, Codes, Crafts, Sports)

Read Scary: Nonfiction Monday: Face to Face with Caterpillars by Darlyne Murawski

These aren't your favorite fuzzy caterpillars. These are the weird, the frightening, and the freakish!

Murawski introduces the reader to a fascinating variety of caterpillars through the lens of her research and photography. She explains the physiology of caterpillars, their food, defenses and more.

Each section on a part of the caterpillar's life cycle or habitat includes stunning photographs with extensive captions, projects like raising a caterpillar or experimenting with caterpillar sight, and anatomical drawings.

The book finishes with instructions on helping caterpillars survive, writing topics, a summary of the facts included in the book, glossary, additional reading, index, and notes from the author.

The Face to Face series is perfect for grade school children who want more in-depth information on various animals or are writing reports for school and this title is an excellent one. I would have liked to know a little more about the author/research ala Scientists in the Field, but that's the only drawback to this series in my opinion.

Verdict: This title and the others in the Face to Face series are highly recommended. A must-have for your nonfiction section, they are the perfect book to hand to kids who want to look at amazing photographs and explore the world of animals and bugs.

ISBN: 9781426300523; Published May 2007 by National Geographic; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Saturday, October 29, 2011

This week at the library; or, knee-deep in reviews

I am deeply immersed in reading and reviewing for the Cybils (reviews will start posting soon), completely reorganizing and editing my blog (I'm up to December 2008 so far!) and lots of other fun stuff. So, very briefly...

Make it and Take it on Tuesday - meh. I killed this program by taking it to twice a month instead of weekly. But weekly was just impossible - too much work, too much publicity, too much money for crafts and projects. Oh well. A couple kids wandered in, then some middle schoolers wandered in. We ended up with two paintings (the actual craft) and a bunch of shark's teeth necklaces (the middle schoolers remembered this from last time and wanted to fiddle with them again)

Preschool Interactive on Wednesday - had a good, big group. Will be posting storytime plans in the future as part of my blog revamp.

Messy Art Club on Wednesday. Slightly larger group than we've had before this fall. Moving Wednesday afternoons to 4pm (although this was what all the parents asked for) has NOT worked. We'll go back to 3:30 in January. I had a lot of people who didn't know each other and didn't want to, so it was depressingly quiet. I'm going to play background music in the future.

Scary Storytime/Mask Making/Scary movie marathon on Friday
Tons of kids for scary storytime - I will do this again with better publicity. I had expected the toddlers from the regular Friday morning storytime, but I got a lot of prek through 2nd grade and should have had scarier stories. About 50 people by the time we got to mask making.

I planned a movie showing because my director thought we'd have a new screen and system installed. Of course, we didn't. Had about 10 people for Max and Ruby, about 5 for Monster House, which stopped playing. A couple for Nightmare before Christmas who left partway through. A couple more when it was almost over, so I restarted it. and I cancelled the last movie, Scary Godmother, and went home since there was no one there.

Now I'm going to get back to reviewing and cooking and doing laundry and dishes and more blog revamping and tidying my porch garden for the winter and sewing and reviewing and....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Read Scary: Pilot & Huxley: The first adventure by Dan McGuiness

Huxley is worried about his family's complete and unexplainable disappearance. He goes over to his best friend Pilot's house and they discover they have a bigger problem on their hands: Pilot's overdue videogame is the one thing a group of aliens need to take over the world.

Dumped into another dimension by Death (he's been looking for a job with more potential) Pilot and Huxley are suddenly trapped in a strange world with a sea of bees, their only hope a *gag* girl - probably with "interdimensional girl germs." The next thing they know, they're climbing up the nose of a giant monster and into even grosser places, just trying to get home and return Pilot's videogame.

This comic left me pretty cold - the mixture of silliness and gross humor and the "an eleven year old drew me" art style should have given this a Captain Underpants flavor, but some of the gross humor is just too gross - like the fast food restaurant that offers rat vomit dipping sauce. There isn't any overt violence, but it's definitely there behind the scenes and some of the jokes seem too old for most 8-12 year olds. All the reviews I looked at mentioned South Park in conjunction with this - I've never watched it, but...isn't that adult?

Verdict: This will certainly appeal to a lot of eleven year old kids, but it's just as likely to gross out and annoy an equal number of kids and parents. I have plenty of funny comics with...let's say, more taste, so I'll pass on this one. When I'm looking for popular culture influenced comics, I might as well get Spongebob, which has a wider audience and is less likely to line up disgusted parents at my desk. I want to see a little more justification of a plot line that includes the characters climbing up a giant slug's anus.

Other reviews
Good Comics for Kids
Pink Me

ISBN: 9780545265041; Published January 2011 by Graphix; Borrowed from the library

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cybils Nonfiction Picture Books Nominations

 Picture yourself writing poetry: Using photos to inspire writing by Laura Salas

This book combines explanations of poetry with ideas for writing your own poem. The first spread introduces the beauty of poetry and how photographs can help inspire creativity and offers a five step writing process; prewrite, draft, revise, edit, publish. The following “chapters” (each chapter is about 3 pages long) encourage readers to get ideas from photos. Chapter one, explains some mechanics of writing, like adding sensory details and metaphors. Chapter two covers word choices – nouns, verbs, and more. The third chapter addresses characters and the final chapter discusses word arrangement. The book also includes a glossary, further resources, internet resources, and index.

Verdict: If you have a lot of kids interested in writing, specifically poetry, this would be a good additional purchase. It’s full of photographs and practical writing advice. If you mostly have kids who would rather die than set pen to page, save this title for the school library, as it will make a good resource for teachers.

ISBN: 978-1429672092; Published August 2011 by Capstone; Review copy provided by the publisher for Cybils

 In the bag: Margaret Knight wraps it up by Monica Kulling, illustrated by David Parkins

The Text: Simple paragraphs and brisk, cheerful dialogue tell the story of Mattie Knight, from her work in factories as a young girl to her first invention and successful court defense of her patent. After her family fell on hard times, Margaret Knight worked in a mill with her siblings. But she stuck to her love of machinery and invented devices to make the factory safer. She continued to work on her inventions until she created her first patented machine, which folded and glued paper bags. A man at the machine shop where she took her invention to have a model made tried to steal it, but she successfully defended her patent in court.

The Illustrations: Parkins’ illustrations are cheerful caricatures, showing long-nosed faces, historical clothing, and Mattie’s determination and struggles to pursue her career. The illustrations focus on people and characters and their reaction to and relationships with Knight. Knight’s clothing, often in bright reds and blues, stands out against the gray and brown-hued world around her.

The Extras: A brief note adds more information about Margaret Knight’s life and patents.

Verdict: A lively and interesting story, but sadly lacking in sources or further information. Did the author fictionalize the exchanges between Mattie and her contemporaries? Or are these actual quotes? There’s no way of knowing. An additional purchase if you need a lot of inventor biographies.

ISBN: 978-1770492394; Published October 2011 by Tundra; Review copy provided by publisher

Animal Fights by Catherine Ham

I can see making a book about animal fights, but…in poetry? Bad poetry, at that? Each page features a fight between two animals with a label, “Camel Fights” (just in case we couldn’t figure it out) and a single exclamation, “Bash!” etc. A photograph of the two animals and a colored outline around the accompanying poem completes the offering. The poetry…well, here’s a sample: “Rhinos are massive and lumpy/And really most horribly grumpy/They’ll fight for their space/With that horn on their face/Making all those around them quite jumpy.” That’s one of the better ones.

Additional animals fighting are pictured at the end as well as an index.

Verdict: The photographs are attractive and the layout bright and colorful, but the choice of poetry was just…weird. And the poetry is pretty bland and obviously forced to rhyme. Not recommended. 

ISBN: 978-0983201403; Published July 2011 by Early Light Books; Review copy provided by the publisher

 Wild Women of the Wild West by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Susan Guevara

This book explores some of the legendary women of the Wild West, some well-known, others more obscure. The book is illustrated with pen and ink caricatures and watercolor portraits of the various women. The introduction explains the history of the “Wild West”  and talks a little about some of the women we read about in the book. The book covers famous women like Calamity Jane, Mary Fields (Stagecoach Mary), Annie Oakley, Belle Starr, Sarah Winnemucca, Carry Nation, as well as more obscure women. Activists, public speakers, and warriors like Mary Lease, The-Other-Magpie, and Esther Hobart McQuigg Slack Morris. Entertainers, including Lola Montez and Lotta Crabtree, and businesswomen such as Dona Maria Gertrudis “La Tules” Barcelo, Polly Pry, Nellie Cashman, and Mary Ellen Pleasant. The book finishes with a time line, map, bibliography, and illustrator’s note.

This was a fascinating read, although some of the text was a bit uneven. Some of the stories read more like fiction, with a strong narrative swing, while others sound more like factual history.

Verdict: An interesting look at a wide variety of women in the Wild West with a good variety of occupations, ethnicities, and stories. Recommended.

ISBN: 978-0823416011; Published October 2011 by Holiday House; Review copy provided by publisher; Added to the library's wishlist

J. R. R. Tolkien by Alexandra Wallner, illustrated by John Wallner

Cartoonish drawings in pastels cover the pages of this biography of Tolkien, intended for young readers. The book covers his early life in South Africa and rural England, schooling in Birmingham, courtship of Edith Bratt, career in the army, family and professorship at Oxford. All throughout his life he was interested in writing stories and exploring imagination, but it was not until later in his life that he finally began to write the tales that would make him famous. The book ends with a time line, bibliography, and source notes.

The art is arranged like a game board, with various events highlighted with game cards, but this layout is never explained; does it reference something in Tolkien’s life, or did the illustrator just think it would be interesting?

Verdict: The book is a basic introduction to Tolkien, but the art and text has a very childish feel. I’m not sure what the audience for this would be; kids young enough not to be turned off by the cartoon illustrations and rather bland text would be too young even for Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Kids old enough to appreciate The Hobbit and his other works aren’t going to be interested in this picture book.

ISBN: 978-0823419517; Published August 2011 by Holiday House; Review copy provided by publisher

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Read Scary: Dragonbreath: Lair of the Bat Monster by Ursula Vernon

I adore Danny Dragonbreath. Most series, I lose interest around the second book, maybe the third if it's a really, really good series. And laughing after the first story? Nah, just doesn't happen. Dragonbreath is funny. Dragonbreath is weird. Dragonbreath is scary. Dragonbreath is hilarious and gross and exciting and imaginative. Basically, Dragonbreath is every nine or ten year old boy who walks into my library, some of my favorite patrons ever!

Danny Dragonbreath takes the back seat to his nervous friend Wendell in this bus ride to Mexico, because after some miscellaneous daydreaming, wandering through a jungle, etc. etc. he suddenly gets kidnapped! Unfortunately, his cousin Steve isn't exactly...he's not quite...he's not really a grown-up, at least not as Wendell would define it; someone who FIXES things! So it's up to Wendell. He's not prepared for this! "They had a system. Danny was fearless and Wendell was terrified, and it worked out between them."

Of course there's a happy ending, but in between there's enough terrifying moments to satisfy the shivers and goosebumps crowd with a big dose of gross and lots of bat facts. And the scene with the snake? Best. Worldbuilding. Scene. Ever.

I read this with a background accompaniment of Rocky and Bullwinkle and I think there's some similarities between the show and Ursula Vernon's writing. Both are completely insane, and both are completely logical. I mean, if you can take a bus to Japan, why not to Mexico? If you have a cousin who's a sea serpent, why not a mythical dragon figure? And if you have a mythical dragon (or any dragon) why not a.....well, I'll let you find out for yourself.

Verdict: What? You haven't bought it yet? Sheesh, put in a standing order!

ISBN: 9780803735255; Published March 2011 by Dial; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library; Added to my personal wishlist

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book Nominations

 Guardian team: On the job with Rena and Roo by Cat Urbigkit

When I first looked at the description of this book, I though “oh no, not another saccharine animal friends story. UGH.” Then I actually picked up the book, and, well, big furry dogs, they are a weakness of mine. Then I read it and…

I loved this book! And not just because of all the pictures of a delightfully furry little puppy, so, so cute, and her little floppy ears..

Ahem. So. Roo, an orphaned burro, and Rena, the runt puppy of a litter, are moved to a ranch in Wyoming to become sheep herd guardians. They are introduced to the lambs and to each other and slowly bond and become one herd, learning to work together to protect the sheep.

The text is simple, but doesn’t shy away from longer words, explaining them throughout the story. The real genius of this book is in the layout, which pairs a few sentences or a short paragraph with pictures of the burro, puppy, and lambs as they grow together. The story can be followed perfectly through the pictures, with the explanatory text adding a little more dimension and vocabulary.

Verdict: This would be a perfect read-aloud in storytime, great for kids interested in dogs, and incorporates factual information about raising sheep and the (very cute and furry!) animals that guard them. Simply perfect.

ISBN: 978-1590787700; Published September 2011 by Boyds Mills Press; Borrowed from the library; Added to the library's wishlist; Added to my personal wishlist

After the kill by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Catherine Stock

The author follows a lioness’ kill from tracking to killing, eating, and the other predators that also share the kill; vultures, hyenas, jackals, and maggots. The text is simple but dramatic, not shying away from the violent interactions between prey and predator and the various animals’ fights over the carcass. Additional information about the various animals and their relationships is included in small captions on several pages.

This book is well-written and would have been a great stomach-turning read for school visits or older kids in a storytime, but Catherine Stock's gentle watercolors are NOT suited for this text! Created in pencil, watercolor and gouache, her paintings seem to be trying to soften the harsh life and death drama of the story, but only succeed in confusing it. The animals are blurry, without form or line and it’s difficult to follow the action in the swirling, messy artwork. Besides which, maggots and watercolor simple don’t go together.

Verdict: I’d like to see a similar title with photographs or more detailed, concrete drawings. I don’t recommend this one.

ISBN: 978-1570917431; Published July 2011 by Charlesbridge; Borrowed from the library

 Zeal of zebras by WOOP Studios

This distinctive book introduces an alphabet of collective nouns with gorgeous art prints. Each spread has a collective noun “A pandemonium of parrots” accompanied by a small illustration and a few short paragraphs on the animal “In the Amazon, groups of parrots can be found at “salt licks,” naturally occurring deposits of salts and minerals that they eat to supplement their diets./What a pandemonium it is with all their screeching!” The facing page has a gorgeous art print incorporating the noun and alphabet letter into the art work and illustrating it in a fanciful way – for example, a troubling of goldfish shows a floating school of fish swirling about above their bowl.

Verdict: I was disappointed that no source information was given on where the collective nouns came from, but this is a fun alphabet book with marvelous illustrations that children and adults will enjoy.

ISBN: 978-1452104928; Published August 2011 by Chronicle; Borrowed from the library; Added to the library's wishlist

 Gorillas by Gail Gibbons

The author introduces us to gorillas in simple sentences with more information incorporated into her illustrations, using maps, captions, and additional text. She discusses gorilla behavior, why they are endangered, their habitat and how they interact with the world, and their family groupings. A final note gives more information about gorillas.
While I really enjoyed Gibbons’ recent nonfiction weather books, Tornadoes and Hurricans, I was disappointed in this title. Gibbons’ swirling illustrations (I’m going to go out on a limb and guess watercolors) are not detailed enough to fully delineate the accompanying text – for example, the page that shows gorillas’ emotions has four gorilla faces in panels, supposedly demonstrating “happy, worried, angry, aggressive” but the pictures are confusing; all of the faces and attidues look alike. Again, the illustrations supposedly showing different species of gorillas all look alike, as do the male and females. The map at the beginning bleeds into the other illustrations and inset panels of additional information and pictures make the pages crowded and bewildering.

Verdict: Gibbons’ factual books are generally well-received, but her art falls short in this volume and the confusing layout makes this book a disappointment. Not recommended.

ISBN: 978-0823422364; Published March 2011 by Holiday House; Borrowed from the library

Mystery math: A first book of algebra by David Adler, illustrated by Edward Miller

With cheery cartoon illustrations and a light storyline about Mandy and Billy, who are investigating a haunted house, Adler and Miller introduce basic algebraic concepts in a way that even very young children can understand. The story starts by explaining equations and how they need to be balanced, and how an algebraic equation is an equation with a mystery number. After a few more simple rules, we enter the haunted house of the story and are quickly involved in figuring out how many creepy ravens, spooky bats, skeletons and black kittens are in the story with the mathematical help of Igor. Additional information shows how to make a scale and solve more algebra equations.

Verdict: This book is a fun way to introduce algebra to kids interested in math. Best for an elementary age audience and more of a workbook than a story, so not a good choice for storytime or reading aloud. Try having a spooky math Halloween party with this book and do some creepy calculations!

ISBN: 978-0823422890; Published August 2011 by Holiday House; Borrowed from the library; Added to the library's wishlist

Monday, October 24, 2011

Read Scary: Nonfiction Monday: Monster Hunt by Jim Arnosky

Arnosky's exploration of mysterious creatures is more of a tribute to and celebration of wonder than it is a "scary monster" book. Framed by his own trips to Lake Champlain to search for the fabled lake monster "Champ", the exploration of the weird and wonderful moves lyrically through real and as yet mythical creatures, illustrated by Arnosky's luminescent art.

Arnosky looks first at charcharodons, massive prehistoric sharks. Could they still exist? No one knows, but it's possible. What about giant squids? Long thought to be mythical, scientists now know these "krakens" really do live in the ocean - but not much more about them.

Gorillas and Komodo dragons were thought to be myth, until they were discovered in the 1800s. What about Bigfoot? Many reliable people have reported sightings of this gorilla-like creature. If he did exist, what would he eat? How would he avoid humans?

While sea serpents seem too fantastical to be based in fact, what about lake monsters, especially the famous Loch Ness Monster and Lake Champlain's Champ. Could these creatures be plesiosaurs? Arnosky ends the exploration with the story of his own exploration of Lake Champlain with his wife and grandsons. He describes in words and paintings how they explored the bottom of the lake and discovered that large lake creatures could quite possibly survive there.

Verdict: This isn't the book for kids looking for chills and thrills or for a strictly scientific approach to cryptozoology. But it's a great book for sparking imagination and exploration and encouraging appreciation of the mysteries in the world around us. Recommended for elementary grades, especially kids who like stories about mythical monsters but nothing too scary.

ISBN: 9781423130284; Published July 2011 by Hyperion; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This week at the library; or, Featuring staff work day (because we don't work on the other days)

Monday. Extremely Frustrating Day. Do not want to talk about it. Grrrr.

Tuesday. 2 second grade class visits - class number one, very nice. Class number two, squirrelly beyond belief! The problem, I think, it twofold. First, these are community visits, so while one class visits me, the other visits the bank. Banks are boring. Banks also give out candy. So my second group consists of sugared, bored 2nd graders. The second problem is that these kids have already done the tour, heard the spiel, etc. etc. in kindergarten and 1st grade. Also, we would like more circulation. So I'm year...I will tell the teachers we are doing a new "program." Kindergarteners and 1st graders get a tour, storytime, and library cards. 2nd and 3rd graders get to come check out books and make a craft. I am hoping by then we will have tried out non-fine children's books and that will be an additional incentive.

Teen Cafe. This program was a mess. (hence some of my frustration on Monday). I didn't really prepare it well enough and lots of stuff went wrong at the last minute. We were supposed to make movies. Meh. I think the problem with this (besides not preparing it) is that I am really busy. My mind knows I am really busy. My mind pushes teen programming to the back because it is very low returns for the amount of effort. I have only once gotten 20 teens to attend a program - otherwise I have a few middle schoolers and that's it. I will continue to do Teen Cafe every month, but I am going to stick to low-tech, very, very, very simple things and food. It also doesn't help that I never visit the high school or 7th/8th grade at the middle school...We're doing a Breaking Dawn party next month, but one of the Friends of the library suggested that and is helping out and bringing friends so that's different. Oh, yeah, nobody came to this program. ZERO.

Wednesday. Preschool Interactive! I thought I was only going to have 3 kids, but then a bunch more came. However, it was a wiggly day and lots of them didn't want to stay in the room - but they all came back in for the art project!

Then the third 2nd grade class came - I changed my plan in mid-stride, after the "we've already seen this" remarks from the kids yesterday and the staff's "don't you ever get tired of giving that spiel? We have it memorized" so I just took the kids around and asked them what they remembered. Eh, it was ok.

And the fourth and final group, which weren't as squirrelly as yesterday's second group. Between the four groups I read: Book that eats people, Hampire, My Rhinoceros (sigh. I would really like this one, but they just don't get the humor, although they sit still for it) I'm a shark, and Pete the Cat I love my white shoes (a HUGE hit)

Lego Club - a dismal 20. I had so many parents complain that it was too early at 3:30, that when the schools started letting out 10 minutes later, I moved it to 4pm. This doesn't work - apparently more parents find it inconvenient to go home and come back again. I also think not going to the schools' open houses lost me some people - that's where a lot of my initial attendees came last year. Oh well. I'll extend the time in January to 3:30-5pm. Spent most of Lego club in the lobby talking to the Friend who is helping (i.e. doing all the work) of planning our Breaking Dawn party.

Thursday - my kindergarten group didn't show up. No idea what happened to them. Oh well. Got through a fair amount of publicity and other stuff on the desk. Doing my part for our circulation - between Cybils, my programs, and other stuff, I have hit 100 items checked out on my card!

Friday - Staff work day! Shifted all the holiday books and juvenile movies. Straightened, shifted, and dusted several sections I've been weeding so they're not as messy. Put new security cases on my Wii games and Disney/Pixar dvds. Worked on some more publicity. Everyone was done by 2pm, but I went to run errands for the library.

And that was my week!

Updated...Actually, Staff work day NEVER goes the way I think it will. I got all the holiday books shifted, which included shifting the juvenile biographies, shifting shelves, straightening, dusting, and all new signage. Got all the movies shifted, including moving our horrible metal shelves. Realized they were off. Shifted again. Shifted again. It was 3:30. I left to run errands. I'll have to do the security cases and the signage for the movies on Monday. Gah! Frustrating week.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Read Scary: My boyfriend is a monster: Made for each other by Paul Storrie, illustrated by Eldon Cowgur

Marie is dealing with a series of painful tragedies. Her parents have been killed in a car crash and she's living with her blind aunt. Then three girls at her school are also killed. But she has her music, she's dealing with it, everything is fine. Until she meets Tom. He's a new student too and even more mysterious than she is. They have an instant attraction and Marie starts thinking life may not be so bad after all...until she discovers Tom's grisly secret and there's a sudden increase of deaths in the sleepy small town.

Is Tom her true love? Or is he a monster inside as well as outside?

This black and white graphic novel is a fast-paced, often funny, irreverent mixture of horror and romance. There's no time for the reader to roll their eyes at the paranormal cliche of instant attraction, because immediately afterwards the bodies start piling up. Marie's calm acceptance of her new boyfriend's grisly (one might even say disgusting) origins is a little hard to swallow, but with events happening right and left we aren't given time to think about the holes in the story. And it's FUN! Funeral jokes, true lurrvve, zombies, monsters, mad scientists, and more all mixed up in one wacky package that will have the reading on the edge of their seat one moment and sawing "awwwww" the next.

Verdict: Fans of paranormal romance, horror, and humor will love these quick bite graphic novels. Perfect for a fast, fun read with some shivers down the spine. Strongly recommended for your teen graphic novel section.

ISBN: 9780761356011; Published April 2011 by Lerner; ARC received from publisher at ALA Midwinter; Purchased whole series for the library

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book Nominations

 Star of the sea: A day in the life of a starfish by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Joan Paley

Janet Halfmann’s simple text introduces children to the life cycle and habitat of the starfish. The text goes beyond simple sentences to create pictures helping children understand the starfish’s movements and habits. For example, “She inches along, twisting her flat body like a pretzel.” “Like a circus acrobat, she folds over two of her rays and grips the rocky shore with her sticky feet.”

Joan Paley’s illustrations are brightly colored and vibrant, using hand painted paper to create collages showing the starfish going about her everyday life. However, I found I wanted more detail in the illustrations than was expressed in this medium. Halfmann’s detailed text would have been better served by photographs or more intricate drawings showing the movements of the starfish in detail. Some of the illustrations were confusing, not matching the action described in the text. The flaming orange and rather lumpy starfish seemed rather static.

Verdict: A strong text redeems this book from the rather blah illustrations. I’m not aware of any other truly outstanding books on starfish, so I’d recommend adding this one. Halfmann’s story makes for a good read-aloud and the illustrations are passable, if not ideal.

ISBN: 978-0805090734; Published May 2011 by Henry Holt; Borrowed from the library

Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying Predators by Jim Arnosky

Arnosky’s gorgeous paintings introduce the reader to a selection of large and amazing birds. A simple table of contents lists the featured birds and marks which ones have a fold out page. The acrylic paint in the illustrations glows with color while the white chalk gives the art a softer edge, making these life-size birds appear larger than life. Arnosky’s illustration explains his interest in “the largest and most powerful” birds and how he and his wife Deanna researched and learned about these amazing creatures. In each section, Arnosky gives a personal anecdote about his experience with the birds, then facts about their diet, habitat, and species. Paintings include full pictures of the birds and smaller insets of their wings or claws. In every spread, Arnosky is careful to give information about size and scale. There are also silhouettes to aid in identifying various birds. The author’s note at the end gives locations for where these birds can be found, and a lengthy list of sources for more information about birds and field guides. A metric chart for converting the various measurements of the birds is also given.

Verdict: Beautifully illustrated, carefully researched, and written to appeal to children and adults, this book is a must have for your collection. Spend a little extra time and money to reinforce the fold-outs, because this book will be seeing a lot of use!

ISBN: 978-1402756610; Published April 2011 by Sterling; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

 Hatch! by Roxie Munro

Roxie Munro’s interactive book about eggs is a fun choice for story times, especially with an older or small group that can take time to pick out all the details in the pictures.

The introduction explains that the book will introduce birds and their eggs in a question and answer format and includes a “did you know?” quiz section, with the answers included in the copyright information on the facing page.

The first spread of each pair shows a clutch of eggs and asks “Can you guess whose eggs these are?” facing a big colored speech bubble that gives clues to the birds’ identity. Both of these are set against a plain cream background. The following spread gives the answer and describes the bird against a detailed illustration of the birds, their habitat, and a variety of animals hidden in the landscape. A list of also included animals is placed below the main text, giving additional seek and find fun. Featured birds include Baltimore orioles, great horned owls, emperor penguins, mallard ducks, cactus wrens, black-legged kittiwakes, ostriches, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and bald eagles.

The final page includes further resources about birds, both print and online, and a list of “fun bird words to learn.”

Verdict: This book is best for an elementary age audience – some of those clues are hard! But I’ve used it successfully with a preschool audience, shortening the chunks of text and inviting the kids to find the animals hidden in the landscapes. A fun book about a variety of birds and their eggs with an intriguing interactive component. Recommended.

ISBN: 978-0761458821; Published February 2011 by Marshall Cavendish; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

The case of the vanishing golden frogs by Sandra Markle

Millbrook press gives Houghton Mifflin’s Scientists in the Field series a run for their money with this fascinating investigation into the ongoing research into an ecological mystery.

The book’s pages are a brilliant yellow with splashy green leaves painted against the brilliant background. Against this colorful background, photographs of researchers, local people, maps, and the golden frogs themselves are strategically placed to blend with the bold text.

The story begins in 1996 when researchers discovered that the golden frogs of the Panama rain forest were rapidly dying. The book discusses the possible reasons for the deaths of the frogs and how the scientists have researched these possibilities. As Markle explains the scientist’s research into the possible reasons for the frogs’ death, she explains facets of the frogs life. For example, when investigating changes in habitat as a reason for the frogs’ death, she also includes spreads on what the frogs need in their habitat. Other reasons include pollution and skin diseases. Other frog researches joined in the search, finding a new kind of fungus that was killing frogs all over the world. The scientists tried to find out how the fungus was spreading and how it could be stopped, but meanwhile they needed to save the few remaining frogs so they created Project Golden Frog to collect and breed the remaining healthy frogs. Scientists are still trying to find a permanent cure, but meanwhile the only known healthy golden frogs live in aquariums. Their removal from the ecosystem of Panama affects the other animals in the food chain, but until scientists find a way to stop the deadly fungus, they cannot be returned to their environment.

An author’s note explains Sandra Markle’s interest in this fascinating story. Additional information discusses the difference between frogs and toads, how to help local frogs and get involved worldwide. A glossary, further resources, index, and photo acknowledgements are also included.

Verdict: This is a fascinating and well-written title. I appreciated that it discusses a scientific research project that was ongoing, reinforcing the idea that science is something that is still happening, not a cut and dried experiment with a definite end and beginning as kids too often see in school. It’s directed at a younger audience than the Scientist in the Field series (yes, I’m a big fan) and is a great introduction for elementary age kids into the world of science, research, and frogs.

ISBN: 978-0761351085; Published October 2011 by Millbrook Press; Borrowed from the library; Added to the library's wishlist

Time to eat by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have produced another excellent nonfiction book with their trademark paper collage illustrations. This small book, 8x8, is one of a set of three, Time to Eat, Time to Sleep, and Time for a Bath. Time to Eat has three threads of text; short, bold exclamatory sentences “Not shoots and leaves again!” and a simple sentence or brief paragraph about the animal, “The giant panda chews on bamboo shoots for twelve hours a day.”  The book has a simple introduction about the variety in animal diets and despite its small size features a surprising number of animals, including a chipmunk, toad, anaconda, pelican, blue whale, dung beetle, ostrich, and more. The book ends with a pictorial list of all the animals and further information on each one.

Verdict: Like most of Jenkins and Page’s work, this is a great nonfiction read-aloud for young children and an informative book for older readers. I would especially recommend buying and reading all three books together in this trilogy.

ISBN: 978-0547250328; Published March 2011 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Read Scary: Storm Runners by Roland Smith

One stormy day, Chase leaves his tools outside just before a storm. His dad goes out to get them and is struck by lightning.

One year later, Chase and his dad are following storms across the country. Although they spend more time together than ever before, even after the accident several years ago that killed his mom and little sister, Chase and his dad are farther apart than ever. Then Hurricane Emily strikes unexpectedly, and Chase must not only survive, he must do his best to help the two girls stranded with him. His dad has taught him every possibly emergency strategy, but will they stand up to gale force winds, rapidly rising floods, and Florida alligators?

After the brief setting of the prologue and a few chapters laying out Chase's new life and his arrival in Florida, the reader is plunged immediately into non-stop, heart-pounding action. The story alternates between Chase and his friends' desperate struggle for survival and Chase's dad's frantic efforts to find him in the middle of a huge hurricane while dealing with officials and reporters.

The story ends on a major cliffhanger; it's so sudden it's rather jarring. It felt as though Smith wrote a whole book and then the editor said "hey, let's make this a series" and just chopped it up. However, despite my dislike of series, I hate the massively thick volumes being churned out for middle grade readers even more, so I'll overlook the sudden ending.

Verdict: This will grab your reluctant readers by the throat and threaten them until they finish the story. I recommend waiting for at least the second volume and buying them together, since the ending is so sudden. Otherwise, you'll find yourself mobbed with desperate readers who absolutely must know what happens next NOW! I mean, really, how can you end a story in the eye of a hurricane with a leopard on the loose?

ISBN: 9780545081757; Published March 2011 by Scholastic; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book Nominations

 The mangrove tree: Planting trees to feed families by Cindy Trumbore, illustrated by Susan Roth

The Text: There are two threads of text running through this story. The basic story is told in a “This is the house that Jack built” style, with the mangrove trees that saved the people as the central players. This rhythmic text is placed on the background of illustrations. To the right of each spread, the story is told in more detail, about Dr. Gordon Sato, who taught the people of Hargigo on the Eritrean coast to grow mangrove trees, end the famine and fight back against poverty.

The Illustrations: Roth’s paper and fabric illustrations are warm backgrounds for the simple cumulative verse. She blends a surprising amount of detail into her simple textured illustrations and they are a good fit for the verse and more detailed information.

The Extras: Further information, background, photographs, sources and more are included in the lengthy afterword.

Verdict: A nice combination of verse for younger children and information for older children with plenty of additional information. However, I'm always wondering if these "activism" books really have a long enough shelf life to justify their purchase. Will kids still be interested in this movement in five years? Ten? Am I prejudiced because I don't personally care for Roth's illustration style? I'm not sure - you decide.

ISBN: 978-1600604591; Published May 2011 by Lee & Low; Borrowed from the library

Saving animals from oil spills by Stephen Person

 This latest addition to the Rescuing animals from disasters series focuses on the Gulf oil spill in 2010. Person takes us through real-life rescue stories, a simple explanation of the oil spill’s causes, how oil damages sea life, especially birds and turtles, and how rescue workers clean and return animals to the wild.

There is an overview of other oil spills, information on long-term damages, and stories of animals rescued from various oil spills. The facts are amply illustrated with a variety of photographs.

The Extras: As always, Bearport has a good selection of additional information, glossary, sources, and websites.

Verdict: This is an excellent title, not so specific that it will be outdated, but with plenty of up-to-date information. Recommended

ISBN: 978-1617722882; Published August 2011 by Bearport; Review copy provided by publisher

  Eco dogs by Judith Bauer Stamper

This latest addition to the Dog Heroes series brings together Bearport’s high interest subjects, photographs, and plentiful information to create another popular and well-written title.
The book features a variety of dogs who have been trained in search and detections that aid ecological research and rescue. 

Python Pete, a beagle, searches for Burmese Pythons, an invasive species in the Everglades, Jamberry, a black lab, helps scientists count seals in the Arctic. Some dogs help find turtle nests, some track scat for wildlife researchers. Information on the dogs' training and how they work, their teams, and how they are used in wildlife enforcement and scientific research is included throughout the book

The Extras: More facts about eco dogs, glossary, additional websites and bibliographies, are also included.

Verdict: This high-interest series will be a hit with kids who like animals and dramatic stories. 

ISBN: 978-1617721526; Published January 2011 by Bearport; Borrowed from the library

 First garden: The White House garden and how it grew by Robbin Gourley

The story begins with a brief introduction to the White Houses’ history and grounds, including a list of all the children who used its outdoor gardens. The author next introduces us to the current presidential family, the Obamas, and Michelle Obama’s decision to create a kitchen garden. More history on White House gardens is interspersed with the creation of the current garden by Mrs. Obama and some of the children from Bancroft Elementary School. Now the garden produces food for the White House, a nonprofit organization called Miriam’s Kitchen, and is a tourist destination for many people around the world

Gourley’s simple watercolors emphasize the colors and shapes of the garden and vegetables. Some of the spreads include quotes about the White House in italicized font around the edges of the picture. Some of the portraits of various historical figures have captions, which they need as it can be difficult to identify them from the washed-out features.

The Extras: Additional tips on gardening, healthy eating, and recipes from the White House are included as well as extensive further resources and websites.

Verdict: An interesting book, but will quickly be outdated when the White House occupants change. An additional purchase.

ISBN: 978-0547482248; Published April 2011 by Clarion; Borrowed from the library

How the weather works: A hands-on guide to our changing climate by Christiane Dorion, illustrated by Beverley Young

The Text and Illustrations: The text and illustrations in this book are smoothly integrated. Chunks of text are crammed together with small illustrations, flaps, pull tabs, and other moving parts to create a picture of the science of weather and changing climates. A general explanation of weather is followed by more detailed explanations of the water cycle, weather fronts, winds, meteorology, weather disasters, climate, a timeline of weather history, and a final section on global climate change.
Each spread is full of information, moving parts, illustrations, and text. The font is a casual script that looks hand-written and the pictures are colorful and cheerful.

The Extras: There are no sources or bibliographical information.

Verdict: This is an excellent introduction to weather, packed full of information, facts, and pictures. However, the moving parts make it a doubtful choice for a library and despite the title there is little information about climate change. There are quite a few general weather books out there that would be more long-lasting. This might be a good gift for a child interested in weather and science.

ISBN: 978-0763652623; Published February 2011 by Templar; Borrowed from the library

 Jane brocket’s clever concepts: Ruby, Violet, Lime, Looking for Color; Spiky, Slimy, Smooth, What is Texture

Both of these books are photographic delights and present an unusual look at concepts. A readable font presents short chunks of text about various textures and colors, “Raw eggs are wobbly and runny and slimy. They feel very funny.” and “Orange is hot and fiery. Copper berries, a tangerine sunset, amber peppers, and flame-colored flowers make every season feel warm.” The adjectives introduced in each section of text are highlighted in different colors. The text is a great introduction to a huge variety of vocabulary words describing colors and textures. The real stars of these books, however, are Jane Brocket’s photographs, chock full of color and texture. 

Verdict: These books are a visual feast, perfect for a storytime, classroom project, or reading on your own. Recommended.

Ruby Violet Lime
ISBN: 978-0761346128; Published September 2011 by Millbrook; Borrowed from the library

Spiky Slimy Smooth
ISBN: 978-0761346142; Published March 2011 by Millbrook; Borrowed from the library

Monday, October 17, 2011

Read Scary: Nonfiction Monday: Everything Sharks by Ruth Musgrave

I'm excited to show off a new book I bought for our library - Everything Sharks! You can never have too many "scary animal" books, and National Geographic Kids' Everything series has some great offerings.

This book is packed with tidbits of information, photos, art, facts, and more. There's a basic introduction to sharks, where we meet many different species and learn how a shark differs from a fish.
The second chapter tells us about a shark's life, from birth to diet and special abilities. We learn more about different shark species and some ancient shark history in the third chapter as well as how people study sharks and how sharks compare to humans. The last chapter includes more facts, but also blends in different activies and practical advice from avoiding shark attacks to making shark stamps.
Additional information includes how to help sharks who are threatened in the wild, where to go to see sharks in aquariums, a glossary combined with vocabulary-building exercises, and further resources.

This is a skimpier offering than National Geographic's Face to Face series, but well-suited for a younger audience that wants lots of facts and pictures. There's enough to whet the appetite of a younger reader or shark-enthusiast and the special activities are a nice touch.

Verdict: Highly recommended for all collections, add this one in conjunction with Face to Face with Sharks so kids who want to know more can move on to read further.

ISBN: 9781426308024; Published April 2011 by National Geographic; Borrowed from library; Purchased for the library

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This week at the library; or, This is fall??

It was 80+ on Sunday. My dahlias are blooming vigorously. I am annoyed. I do not like heat! Everything should be dead by now! I should not be sneezing!

Monday was Monday was Monday. Another staff meeting and then swinging around town to deliver flyers. Angela drove, I jumped in and out of the car.

Tuesday. I've been worrying on and off about whether making sharks' teeth necklaces will work. I advertised it before I'd actually tested it (always a bad idea, but it took me a while to get to the knitting group, where the woman who donated the sharks' teeth was going to show me how to make them into necklaces). So I had cardboard boxes in addition, which they could paint and glue shells to. Then I worried that they wouldn't dry fast enough and not enough people will come....I seem to be worrying a lot these days. Maybe I need more sleep? Four kids, 2 parents, and one younger sibling ended up hanging out. The sharks' teeth necklaces were too hard, but they loved the shell boxes - and a bunch of older kids wandered in to look at the sharks' teeth before the program. I feel like I've killed this program by taking it to twice a month - who can remember 2nd and 4th Tuesdays? But I am getting different kids, and they are checking out books. Is an average of 5 kids enough to justify the program? I don't know.

Wednesday was a loooooong day. I had a big group for Preschool Interactive, and ended up throwing in a couple extra stories, Fuddles by Vischer and Is everyone ready for fun? by Jan Thomas. Chick 'n' Pug didn't go over well, too subtle for this age group, I'll need to trade that one out. Jan Thomas was a big hit, as always. I had lots of new people!

My first visit from Lakeland - that's our county's special education school. Only 8 kids and they were amazing! This is a new group for me, and I tried to do things a little differently, using what teachers and friends have said and some common sense. We did a short tour, then read I'm a Shark and Pete the Cat I love my white shoes, then a second part of the tour, and one last story, Jan Thomas' Is everyone ready for fun? the whole thing was about 25 minutes and my only worry is that I talked too fast, but I can work on that - they're coming back every month.

Next Wednesday program was Messy Art Club, fingerpaint today! This will, I think, be the last time I do fingerpaint for Messy Art Club indoors. It's getting increasingly more time-consuming to clean up - I think because I have such a wider range of ages coming, or maybe it was just the particularly collection of kids today, or maybe I should have distributed the paint differently...anyways, it took me about an hour to clean up, paint got spilled on the rug, I had to mop the kitchen, and we're sticking to glue from now on.

Final Wednesday program was a visit from some cub scouts. I was awaiting this in trepidation, since I've had some very...rough visits, but this group was good. It helped that a couple kids were regular library visitors. I took them on a long tour, showed them all the staff areas, and read The Book that eats people and I'm a shark.

Bedtime! In case you're wondering how all this fit in, I got to work at 9:30 and got home at 7:30. Phew.

Thursday. Went in to work an hour late, because of marathon day yesterday. Computers all down. Kindergarten class couldn't come b/c of rain, so I went over to the school and did a storytime. Technology, it hates us.

Friday. Entire system still down, piles of books and movies in the back waiting to be checked in, lists of requested holds and renewals on paper, have to make guest passes for every single person who wants to use a computer. Argh!

Saturday. I went in a couple hours extra because the system came back online and it was CRAZY. What a week!

I've loaded more flannels!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cybils Nominations

Woo, pretty much everything I listed got nominated! Yay!

Easy Readers
*My nomination: Ponies by Laura Marsh*

Early Chapters
*My nomination: Princess Posey and the Perfect Present by Stephanie Greene*

Fantasy/Science Fiction
Middle Grade
*My nomination: Dragonbreath: Lair of the Bat Monster by Ursula Vernon*

Young Adult
*My nomination: Small persons with wings by Ellen Booraem* (Could be MG or YA, probably closer to MG, but I really wanted to do a Dragonbreath...yep, it got moved to MG)

Fiction Picture Book
Hocus Pocus by Sylvie Desrosiers 978-1554535774
In the meadow by Yukiko Kato 978-1592701087
**My nomination: Seasons by Anne Crausaz*

Graphic Novel
Elementary/Middle Grade
*My nomination: Mal and Chad by Stephen McCranie

Young Adult
*My nomination: My boyfriend is a monster: Made for each other by Evonne Tsang*

Middle Grade Fiction
Melonhead and the undercover operation by Katy Kelly 978-0385736596
Tink by Bodil Bredsdorff 978-0374312688
*My nomination: Calli be gold by Michele Hurwitz*

Nonfiction Picture Books (come on folks, pick me lots and lots of good books to read!)
Grasslands by Cathryn Sill 978-1561455591
*My nomination: Hatch! by Roxie Munro*

Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction
Dreadful fates by Tracey Turner 978-1554536443
*Start it up by Kenrya Rankin*

*can never really think of anything for this - I think I bought maybe 1 poetry book for the library last year*

Young Adult Fiction
*My Nomination: Chasing AllieCat by Rebecca Davis*

Read Scary: Sam & Friends Mysteries volumes 1 - 4 by Mary Labatt, illustrated by Jo Rioux

Talking dog and mystery lover Sam is back, along with her human friends Jennie and Beth. I looked at the first two books in this series back in 2009 and found them enjoyable and attractive, if a little repetitive of children's mystery tropes. I finally got around to purchasing the earlier volumes for my library and then received the fourth volume for review, so we're going to take another look at this series as a whole.

In their first adventure, Dracula Madness, Jennie, a ten year old girl, is miserable because her best friend has moved away, right before summer. Sam, a plump and furry sheepdog is miserable because she’s just been forced to move to a boring little town with no mysteries! But then Sam discovers Jennie is one of the special people she can communicate with and Jennie shows her the spookiest house in town and the mystery hunt is on! With another little girl, Beth, they solve the mystery of strange Mr. McIver – is Dracula really living in his basement?

In Lake Monster Mix-Up, Jennie, Beth, and Sam are staying at the lake. They hear some scary stories about a lake monster and decide to do a little research on their own. To their horror, they discover there really are monsters in the lake – or are there?

Their third adventure is the scariest of all – for Sam. In Mummy Mayhem, Sam is enjoying a peaceful, if boring, winter when she suddenly sees a huge white worm out of her window! Could it really be the mummy of the pharaoh Menopharsib, looking for a white dog to replace his pet dog who was mummified and then stolen? Who is leaving the mysterious – and delicious – beef jerky?

Finally, Sam and the girls team up again in Witches’ Brew to save Jennie from her new, strange neighbors. The girls and Sam are convinced the three sisters are witches, fattening up animals to eat. But Jennie’s mom won’t listen to them and hires them to babysit! Will they escape and save the animals?

These graphic novels are best suited for fans of beginning chapter mystery series like the Boxcar Children but want something with just a little spooky in it. Each mystery turns out to be a simple mix-up – Mr. McIver is an inventor, the lake monsters are scuba divers, the mummy an eccentric neighbor wrapping up against the cold, and the three sisters are animal rehabilitators. But there are plenty of chills along the way, enlivened by Sam’s sassy voice and Jennie and Beth’s wild imaginations.

The black and white panel art is simple, and well-designed for readers who have just moved on from easy readers to beginning chapter books and don’t need too much distraction from the text. All of the text is dialogue, with the action and emotions clearly shown in the art and expressions of the characters. The text is readable and clear, very important for a beginning chapter graphic novel.

Verdict: Add these to your graphic novel collection for kids who are still practicing their reading skills and want to ease slowly into comics without too much visual distraction. These are also a good suggestion for parents who want “calmer” stories and are worried about violence in the regular superhero comics. Boxcar Children meet Scooby-Doo!

Dracula Madness
ISBN: 9781554534180; Published February 2009.
Lake Monster Mix-Up
ISBN: 9781553378228; Published August 2009
Mummy Mayhem
ISBN: 9781554534708; Published September 2010
Witches’ Brew
ISBN: 9781554534722; Published March 2011

Review copies provided by publisher (Kids Can Press) through Raab Associates and/or purchased for the library.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Read scary: The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

This isn't really scary, but there are some definitely tense moments, so in it goes! Elizabeth is thrilled when her teacher recommends her for a job in the New York Circulating Material Repository. She is completely fascinated by the variety of things that are catalogued, shelved, and checked out to patrons. She's also fascinated and more than a little daunted by her fellow pages - the gorgeous and surprisingly friendly school basketball star Marc, the even more gorgeous Anjali. But then she meets the unreasonably rude and unfriendly Aaron and pretty soon she's aware that something else is Going On. And that something else centers around the marvelous, amazing, unbelievably and truly magic Grimm collection. items from fairy tales are real - and so is their magic. Elizabeth even gets to check them out! But things are going missing and there's something frightening happening. Who's to blame? Where will Elizabeth place her loyalties?
I loved the descriptions and the adventure and the fantasy. I was annoyed by the romance which seemed to fall out of nowhere and be rather unnecessary. Couldn't Elizabeth and a certain person who shall remain unnamed just be good friends fighting evil forces together? Did they have to get all mushy? The story was an exciting adventure fantasy until that point, at which it suddenly seemed to say "hey, I am a Young Adult Fantasy and all Young Adult Fantasies are supposed to have a Great Romance so I too must have a Great Romance." I did finish the book and loved the funny and clever denouement, but the romance was soooo unnecessary.

Verdict: The middle grade audience would really like this as a fantasy, and most of the romance is pretty mild, but there are a couple bits, esp. the mirror scene which say TEEN. The fantasy feels a bit young for teens though, so this book, although fun, floats for me in nowhereland. If you have the audience for a fun fantasy/adventure story with lush descriptions and a romance, go for it.

ISBN: 9780399250965; Published July 2010 by Puffin; ARC received from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2010

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Read Scary: Stuff that scares your pants off! by Glenn Murphy, illustrated by Mike Phillips

I scooped up this ARC at ALA Midwinter because it looked like one of those gross fact books that kids of all ages and both genders revel in. It turned out to be a lot more than just gross facts, but just as intriguing.

As the title says, this book is all about scary stuff. with photographs, cartoons, and humorous drawings, Glenn Murphy explores the scary stuff that's all around us.

The book looks at all possible fears and phobias, including wildlife, disasters, diseases, and the unknown. It ranges from common but unlikely-to-ever-happen fears like shark attacks, to less well-known fears like alektorophobia (fear of chickens). Murphy deals with various fears both as a scientist and psychologist, debunking the unlikely and just plain wrong, and giving practical and common sense tips on staying safe and dealing with emotional fears.

There are plenty of weird and wacky stories, scary pictures, facts, statistics, and gross foods and disasters to satisfy every factophile in your library.

Verdict: A little different than your usual weird and wacky fact book, this will definitely be popular and is a must have for your Halloween displays!

ISBN: 9781596436336; Published Feburary 2011 by Roaring Brook; ARC received from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011; Purchased for the library

Saturday, October 8, 2011

This week at the library; or, Yay Fall!

Monday - morning on the desk, left early for a committee meeting on Storywagon. Our consortium used to have grants to supply 4 summer performers to every library in two counties. Then we had 3. Now we are all clubbing together to take part of the costs and the consortium is scrambling for grants to cover the rest. Le sigh. Anyways, we figured out the three people we want this summer (although half our committee has left for other jobs in the last month). Came back for our own library's staff meeting, much discussion of our library survey (people always ask for evening and weekend programs, but they never come!) and changes we're making to the library layout.

Exciting news! I am an official reviewer for No Flying No Tights! Look! For really and truly! I am excited! Also somewhat terrified! It's like being asked to play with the cool kids (-:)

Tuesday - I'm not sure what happened to today. Work was definitely done, but I can't remember any individual moments. It was crazy.

Wednesday - Storytime + back pain = not fun. Kinda meh. Lego Club is slowly growing back. Slowly, slowly...

Thursday Quiet evening, cleaning out papers. Baby storytime is erupting and we have to do something about it. Right now, I think we're going to move tables so there's more room.

Friday Half day since I'm working tomorrow. More meetings.

Saturday It was Saturday. Nothing much to add, other than that it's HOT. It's not supposed to be hot in Wisconsin.

In other news, I am putting my flannel boards online on Picasa, you can see the slideshow below. Only one so far, but more soon I hope!

Flannel Boards

Friday, October 7, 2011

Read Scary: Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West

Yes, I received this ARC at ALA Midwinter 2010. Yes, I didn't read it until ALA Midwinter 2011. I would like to say that I actually wrote this review last February though! Sometimes the anticipation is more fun than the book.

Not in this case though. I was drawn into the story from the first page, completely enthralled by the dark house and its mysteries and Olive, one of the most interesting middle grade characters I've met for quite some time. All the classic elements of the best middle grade fantasy adventures are there: mostly absent parents, a mysterious house, a strange kid who might just be a new friend, and of course a magical animal or two. West adds some truly frightening moments with Olive's expeditions into the world on the other side of the pictures, a terrifying villain, and sly humor with the talking cats, each of whom have their own personality.

Verdict: West's debut well deserves its Cybils award for middle grade fantasy and will charm and delight kids who like a deeply satisfying fantasy with plenty of adventure, a little humor, and some chilly touches. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780803734401; Published June 2010 by Dial; ARC received at ALA Midwinter 2010; Purchased for the library.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Read Scary: Teeth: Vampire Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Yep, I'm actually reviewing a young adult book. This was pushed on me at ALA Midwinter and I meant to hand it out as a prize during the summer, but I glanced at it and then I started to read....

Windling and Datlow start out this star-studded collection with a look at vampires in legend and history - and very gruesome they all are! They talk about how vampires changed from disgusting creatures of horror to the dark, gothic, romantic figures they often are today in film and literature. And now the stories...

"Things to know about being dead by Genevieve Valentine" A teen girl rails against her fate when she's accidentally turned into jiang-shi, a kind of Chinese zombie/vampire. With her grandmother's help, she tries to deal with the problems of her new life. This isn't a cheerful story (hint: none of the stories in this book are cheerful) but there's some hope in the end for Suyin, even though she has to suffer a lot first.

"All Smiles by Steve Berman" Saul escapes from the "behavioral health care facility" his parents have consigned him to once he realizes it's more like a prison. But he discovers there's scarier things out there...

"Gap Year by Christopher Barzak" High school angst and identity crisis meets vampire hunger. Horror and further identity crises ensues.

"Bloody sunrise by Neil Gaiman" Umm...I'm not really into poetry?

"Flying by Delia Sherman" Lenka struggles to with her own fear over the leukemia she hopes is gone forever, her parents' overprotectiveness, and her desperate desire to return to the circus and the tightrope that is her life. Finally, she runs away and joins a small and very strange circus...

"Vampire Weather by Garth Nix" Secret mountain cult meets mainstreamed vampires meets burgeoning sexuality.

"Late Bloomer by Suzy McKee Charnas" Josh is desperate to please his parents and find his "talent." He's tried sciences, math, literature, art, and finally music. He's pretty sure he's really getting somewhere with his band and he doesn't mind working in the family's antique business too much, until some very strange customers show up. Josh thinks he finally has a chance to be different, amazing, talented, and a genius. Unfortunately, he's kind of dumb and messes the whole thing up.

"The list of definite endings by Kaaron Warren" Assisted suicide, vampire style.

"Best Friends Forever by Cecil Castellucci" A dying girl and a vampire meet and become best friends. Not at all what you're expecting.

"Sit the dead by Jeffrey Ford" Sometimes it's a good idea to find out a little more about your fiancee before you join in any family traditions...

"Sunbleached by Nathan Ballingrad" It's not a good idea to listen to vampires, no matter how good they sound. Because they will eat your whole family and take over your house. Really.

"Baby by Kathe Koja" Um...really, really creepy. and weird. Did I mention weird?

"In the future when all's well by Catherynne Valente" Vampirism as a sort of combination disease/drug. High school angst meets racism meets...I'm not sure exactly what.

"Transition by Melissa Marr" Um...didn't really read this one. A little to freaky for me. A little more romantic than some of the other offerings in this collection though. Except for all the parts where they kill people.

"History by Ellen Kushner" What happens when an obsessive historian meets a vampire who doesn't want to remember...

"The Perfect Dinner Party by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black" Psychotic vampires throw a dinner party.

"Slice of life by Lucius Shepard" Didn't really read this one.

"My generation by Emma Bull" or this one.

"Why light? by Tanith Lee" This one actually had an almost happy ending and was quite romantic.

Verdict: Hand this one to older teens and young adults looking for vampire stories with lots of blood and angst and for those who like more serious fantasy. The big names may draw in some readers, but more adults than teens I think.

ISBN: 9780061935152; Published April 2011 by HarperCollins; ARC received at ALA Midwinter 2011