Saturday, August 31, 2013

This week at the library; or, I have run out of clever things to say

Back to school display, created by aide
Random Thoughts and Commentary
  • August 31 is the last day to win fame and fortune (or at least read lots of awesome books) as a Cybils panelist! Apply now!
  • No programs this week, but they will be starting soon! Last week I met briefly with my director and we decided to cut back a little on the amount of publicity I was generating for the schools, so I only had a few more days' worth to complete and then I could get started on actual program planning, or keep working on it, since I've sort of been fiddling with it for a while. I finished the publicity on Tuesday, and then starting cleaning out the accumulated stacks of stuff behind my desk while I thought about programs. I have piles of recyclables, stuff jammed back onto the shelves, etc. I usually clean out at the end of each semester, but that hasn't happened for a while.
  • I finished cleaning out EVERYTHING on Friday. It took forever and I was miserable when I finished (we're having a heat wave. I was sticking to the reference desk on Thursday, kid you not) but I am so glad I finished. If you are friends with me on facebook, you can see the pictures of my beautifully clean office (-:)
  • One of my new stealth programs, or maybe it would be better considered a marketing venture, is display cases. I really love the libraries that have some kind of display cases where kids can sign up to display their creations and collections and my director was open to the idea, but when I looked at the prices for cases I just about fainted! However, after a little thought I realized we had some cases in our lobby that would work during the school year (we put the adult srp prizes in them in the summer) and I made a flyer, found a waiver for kids to sign, and ran it by the staff for any issues. I put all the flyers up last Friday and now I'm waiting anxiously to see if kids will sign up, although they probably won't see it until school starts next week.

  • I also put up a contest for the teens, to see who gets the ARC of Wild Card by Simone Elkeles that I got from Charlotte's Library. Will they see the sign? Will they participate? Who knows...
  • Imagine the worst Monday, where everything goes wrong, the patrons are grumpy, and weird stuff happens constantly. That was this week. We have an increasing problem of mysteriously missing holds, lots of grumpy patrons, and staff who are still exhausted from the summer.
  • Finally, this is what the schedule looks like for the fall.
    • Monday
      • 10am Coffee Kids and Conversation (Pattie) or Homeschoolers
      • I get to work at noon.
      • 12-5, off desk time in office (or twice monthly staff meetings, about 1-2 hours)
      • 4-5 Tail Waggin' Tutors (monthly)
      • 5-8, information desk
      • 6:30 Tiny Tots (Pattie, twice monthly)
    • Tuesday
      • 10am, 11am Toddlers 'n' Books (Pattie)
      • I hand out registration stickers at the door and work the children's desk 9-5
      • except for my monthly visit to three kindergarten classes in the morning, 10-12
    • Wednesday
      • 10am Preschool Interactive. The plan is to have 4k groups visit twice a month, on those days I will be working with them to check out books and do the art project from about 9:30 to 10, then they'll join everyone for storytime at 10, and leave when the families start the art project.
      • I have a monthly afternoon visit at 1:30 to a 4k class and Middle School Madness, 3-4:30 (monthly
      • Otherwise I'm at the children's desk from about noon to 5, unless I've been pulled for the information desk.
    • Thursday
      • Books 'n' Babies (Pattie)
      • I come in at 9:30, unless I'm doing my two monthly visits to a daycare, in which case I come in around 10:45.
      • Information desk 12-2
      • After school clubs 3:30-5
      • Clean-up. In theory, I leave at 5:30. In reality...
    • Friday
      • We Explore is irregular now, 2-3 times a month. Pattie does one of the We Explores.
      • If I'm not exploring, I'm at the children's desk 9-5.
      • Unless I've been asked to close, and then I'm on the information desk 3-6
      • Or I'm working Saturday, and then I just work a half-day on Friday.
    • Our cataloger is doing Teens on Screen on the 4th Thursday of the month and I have a few outreach and other one-time programs as well. I also will have visits from the two closest elementary schools and possibly the special education school. I have really scaled back this year!
And a little collection development. I put in my last order in November and I decided to put all the replacements in that order. I have been saving them up all year and it's a little depressing to realize that I have an entire month's order worth of replacements. So now I have to decide which books to replace and which to let go...
  • 10 little rubber ducks
    • our copy was icky and falling apart. yes.
  • Twelve terrible things
    • got ripped and so it's gone. It was quite popular, not terribly so, but definitely checked out. it the kind of thing people will come back and ask for? I feel not. no.
  • Adventures of Tintin: Crab with the golden claws and Shooting star
    • I have a couple of the old 3-in-1 editions and they are literally falling apart. These aren't huge circs, but I do have enough fans to make it worthwhile replacing them, which I'm doing a few at a time. yes.
  • Airplanes, DK
    • I have some hideously outdated airplane books. yes.
  • Amelia Rules, the meaning of life, what makes you happy, whole world's crazy
    • I am really kind of mad about these books. I bought them, in the new hardcovers, from BWI shortly before they went out of business. They have total crap bindings and fell apart almost immediately, but I can't return them to a business that no longer exists! I am replacing them so that if they fall apart AGAIN I can return them to Baker and Taylor with a hotly worded note. Atheneum, your bindings suck. furious, but yes.
  • Angry Birds playground animals
    • I'm a little annoyed that the hardcover feel apart after we'd only had it for about a year, but I'm investing in the library bound anyways. yes.
  • Armadillo from Amarillo
    • Personally, I wouldn't bother, but it's a BOB book and was in really bad condition. yes.
  • Baby bear Baby Bear what do you see (board book)
    • We're down to one picture book with 44 circs. yes.
  • Bear wants more
    • Literally fell apart. yes.
  • Berenstain bears and too much tv, count their blessings, in the dark
    • We had a collection that had pages ripped out. I'm replacing the grimy bound picture books as well with cheap paperbacks for the tub. yes.
  • Betsy-Tacy
    • We had 2 copies, neither of which was circ'ing. I deleted one and kept the classic Lenski cover, but that's still not going out, even though I put it on my "check out a lonely book" display for a month. So I'm replacing that one with the treasury of the first four books, with a newer cover. yes.
  • Big machines by Karen Wallace
    • I'm replacing a bunch of my paperback easy readers with hardcovers. They were in pretty bad condition. yes.
  • Biscuit, Biscuit and the baby, finds a friend
    • Missing or falling apart paperbacks. yes.
  • Black Beauty
    • I'm not so sure kids really read these classics, but the copy we had was really icky and my director requested that I replace it. yes.
  • Book that eats people
    • One of my two copies fell apart. yes.
  • Boxcar Children, Boxcar children 5-8
    • My hardcover of the first book fell apart, so I'm getting 2 copies of the paperback to replace it. I'm also replacing our weirdly warped hardcovers with paperbacks. yes.
  • Brown bear brown bear what do you see
    • I have two copies of the hardcover, a board book, and a book and puppet. I'm replacing a different board book version, the seek 'n' slide one, and getting a paperback copy of the book with cd included to go in the toy bag (the cd disappeared). Hmm. Do I need more Brown Bear? Yes.
  • Cactus's Secret 1
    • Some foul fiend stole the first volume. Grrr. Yes.
  • Capture by Kathryn Lasky
    • Fell apart. yes.
  • Chicken sisters
    • It fell apart, or was ripped, or went missing or something. Yes, it's Numeroff and Brett but I have so this really classic? Will people ask for it? They never have before. no.
  • Chocolate War
    • Does anybody get assigned to read this in school anymore? It's a classic I suppose. Our copy was a grimy paperback and I guess I have to replace it since it's gone. yes.
  • Cirque du Freak: Allies of the night, Living nightmare, Killers of the dawn
    • These keep getting stolen, left in the rain, falling apart, etc. yes.
  • Clifford and the grouchy neighbors
    • Tub books don't last forever. yes.
  • Complete Chronicles of Narnia
    • Personally, I think these things are unwieldy, but some people like them and they always check out when BOB times comes around. We had two copies and I deleted the most worn, so this is a replacement for that. yes.
  • Cool castles
    • I had 2 copies and one fell apart. yes.
  • Courtney Crumrin, coven of mystics
    • I keep going back and forth on continuing the replace the old bw paperbacks with the new hardcovers. I think they circulate better than the old bw do, although those are my personal favorites. yes.
  • Dinosaur's day by Ruth Thomson
    • Another paperback DK easy reader to be replaced with a newer, hardcover copy. yes.
  • Diving Dolphin by Karen Wallace
    • pb DK. yes.
  • Dolls' House by Rumer Godden
    • We had two copies, neither of which was circ'ing. I kept the classic one with the Tasha Tudor cover for a while, but I can't get it to circ. So, I'm deleting that one and ordering a copy of a newer collection from the UK, illustrated by Jane Ray, and hoping it's more popular. yes.
  • Don't look behind you, I know what you did last summer, Killing Mr. Griffin, Stranger with my face
    • I pulled a bunch of Lois Duncan to replace with newer covers earlier this year. Right now, I don't have any in the teen section so I'm trying just to replace a couple of the classics with paperbacks. yes.
  • Dora saves the enchanted forest etc.
    • Tub books don't last forever. yes.
  • Ducks in a row
    • Somebody scribbled in this easy reader. I like Jackie Urbanovic, so yes.
  • Ear the eye and the arm
    • I think my copy checked out...once in the last ten years. However, my director feels it's a classic, and maybe it will go again if I get a new cover. should I keep it in teen? Hmmm. yes.
  • Fat kid rules the world
    • Our copy of this has been missing for years and no one has asked for it. I thought there'd be more interest after we bought the movie, but no. The movie itself hasn't circ'd much. no.
  • Figure skating
    • Like all sports books, gets outdated fast. am replacing with a newer book in paperback. yes.
  • Frandidate
    • Missing or fell apart, can't remember which. yes.
  • Frindle
    • I'm down to one copy. yes.
  • Gabby and Gator
    • One the one hand, this was quite popular and I really like James Burks. On the other hand, the hardcover fell apart really fast. Well, I'll try it one more time...yes.
  • Glass by Ellen Hopkins
    • Periodically, I'll realize that all my Ellen Hopkins are missing. This one has been lost since 2011. yes.
  • Goodnight sweet pig
    • This checked out about 30 times from 2007 to 2010, when somebody checked it out and never brought it back. It's not coming back. Again, plenty of circs, but nobody has asked for this for over three years. no.
  • Hands by Lois Ehlert
    • Our copy, the book in the shape of hands, was falling apart. This is the newer edition. I don't know if it will be as popular, but I'll try it. yes.
  • Henry Reed Inc.
    • On the one hand, Henry Reed doesn't check out much and especially not this one, b/c it's a hideous brown library binding with frayed edges. On the other hand...I love Henry Reed and I'm not getting rid of the other titles anytime soon. I'm going to backorder the prebound of this and hope for the best. yes.
  • Hidden by P. C. Cast
    • Another one I have to regularly order b/c evil people steal them. However, I hate to put out the money for a hardcover when it will probably just get stolen again. I'm going to wait until next year and replace it in paperback. yes 2014
  • Hooray for fish
    • We loved this board book so much it fell apart. yes.
  • I want to be a ballerina
    • pb DK easy reader. yes.
  • Identical by Ellen Hopkins
    • Hey, somebody brought it back! I am amazed. no longer needs replacing!
  • If you give a pig a party
    • Checked out in 2008 and never returned. sigh. yes.
  • I'm mighty
    • Never did find out what happened to this. yes.
  • In the realm of the never fairies: the secret world of pixie hollow
    • I kept moving this around, trying to find a place for it, and then it finally fell apart after a gazillion circs. I'm going to replace it and put it back with the chapter books. yes.
  • Iridessa lost at sea
    • I'm planning to rejoin the paperback series with the chapter books at some point and then i'll think about replacing missing disney fairy books. no.
  • John Deere Big Digs and Construction Sites
    • I deleted some old construction books and was trying to replace them. Not sure if I can actually get this - Baker and Taylor's "available copies" are sometimes just dream copies that don't actually exist, but I will try. yes.
  • Joy the summer vacation fairy
    • I decided not to replace these. I buy new series all the time and when the old ones fall
  • Judy Moody predicts the future
    • This is a second copy to join or at some future time replace our paperback. it's a BOB book. yes.
  • Kiss for little bear
    • Another worn out paperback easy reader
  • Ladybug girl and bumblebee boy
    • This is a popular series. yes.
  • Last Olympian
    • I'm trying to get 2-3 copies of each of these and I ordered a box set earlier this summer, so I don't need another copy right now (although I probably will next year) no.
  • Liar by Larbalestier
    • We had this such a short time I feel like nobody really got a chance to read it before it was stolen, but...time moves on. no.
  • Life-size sharks
    • One of our copies fell apart and the other isn't looking so good. I'm just going to get one more right now. yes.
  • Lion the witch and the wardrobe
    • I am down to 0 copies! Ordering 2 more. yes.
  • Lon po po
    • It's a BOB book, which is why it fell apart so fast. yes.
  • Look and Find Disney Fairies
    • These things fall apart so easily, but the kids are nuts about them. yes.
  • Magic tree house; Monday with a mad genius, Tonight on the Titanic
    • I try to keep at least 2 copies of each book. yes.
  • Mal & Chad: Food fight
    • The paperback binding is crap, I'm replacing with a library bound. Expensive, but worth it. I hope. yes.
  • Maximum ride 5 (the manga)
    • Someone found it water-damaged on the shelf. yes.
  • Medusa plot (39 clues)
    • I don't remember what happened to this, but yes.
  • Monster magic (wonder woman)
    • Sometimes these little paperbacks from Stone Arch are great, sometimes they just fall apart. I don't know why. I think I've replaced and repaired this one twice, but I refuse to spend $20 on a prebound copy! replacing in paperback again. yes.
  • Morganville vampires, Glass houses and dead girls dance
    • All I'm missing is Glass houses, but the only available copy is an omnibus. This is another one that every time I think I have the whole series somebody takes off with one. GAH. yes.
  • Munch Munch
    • These are clip to your stroller mini board books (Maisy). People love them, but we're always losing the little holders and this time we lost the whole book! no.
  • Nanook and Pryce gone fishing
    • Torn beyond repair, must have. yes.
  • Nate the Great; Phony clue, Goes undercover, 
    • Replacements for falling apart paperbacks. yes.
  • Nim's Island
    • My paperback is in horrible condition, but the only copies apparently in print have the awful movie cover. I'm going to try to backorder a prebound copy with the original cover, but I'm not deleting my paperback until I'm sure I can get this one. yes.
  • Nightschool 4
    • These seem particularly susceptible to water damage for some reason. yes.
  • Off road racers (Cars tub books)
    • tub books aren't forever. yes.
  • Otto the book bear
    • Must have. yes.
  • Outsiders
    • Our old paperback is ratty to the extreme, but I don't know that this one is any better. It has a pretty blah cover. well, I'll get it anyways. yes.
  • Owl Moon
    • BOB book, ours was icky. yes.
  • Pendragon, merchant of death
    • Every time I think I have all of these I find I'm missing some. replacing in paperback. yes.
  • Perfect
    • Another missing Ellen Hopkins book. yes.
  • Picnic by McCully
    • I'm slowly going through the picture books, deciding which ancient and tattered copies to weed and which to replace with new copies. i use this one a lot in book bundles, so yes.
  • Pigs in pajamas by Maggie Smith
    • This was a review copy which we liked a lot, but it fell apart after a few months. nothing special, so not replacing. no.
  • Pokemon Diamond and Pearl 8
    • These make my head hurt, but the ones that do have specific numbers I try to keep the whole series. yes.
  • Princess Pigtoria
    • This was cute, but forgettable. no.
  • Puppy Mudge
    • paperback easy reader, yes.
  • Rabbits
    • Suddenly realized I had no wild rabbit books. Took forever to find something to buy. yes.
  • Rainbows
    • Somebody asked for rainbow books and we only had one horribly ancient thing from like the 1960s. yes.
  • Risky Rails (Thomas tub book)
    • Tub books aren't forever. yes.
  • Sarah plain and tall
    • I'm down to one book and it's a BOB book. yes.
  • Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
    • This has been stolen..twice now? Or maybe it's been a while since I replaced it. Anyways, it's worth replacing. yes.
  • Shadow of a bull
    • Personally, I feel that this newbery book should fade into the mists of time. i doubt any kid will ever read it. our current hardcover, in horrible condition, has gone out twice, over 10 years ago. however, it is an award winner and so i am replacing it with a paperback so we at least have it. yes.
  • Should I share my ice cream
    • Found it, so we don't need a replacement. no.
  • Smile by Telgemeier
    • I had 2 copies and one was stolen. I need 2 copies! yes.
  • Spider and the fly (illustrated by DiTerlizzi)
    • Not my cup of tea personally, but it's a BOB book and ours was falling apart. yes.
  • Squirrels
    • Like the rabbits, realized I didn't have anything but one ancient rodent book. yes.
  • Star wars legacy 9 (monster), Clone Wars adventures 8
    • I bought a bunch of Star Wars comics a few years ago and they're slowly disappearing or falling apart. yes.
  • Star Wars clone wars character encyclopedia
    • Kids love these DK star wars books, but they just don't last! So frustrating. I am trying to stop buying them and get other Star Wars stuff instead, but it's hard. I am going to let this one go and dream every night that Papercutz gets a Star Wars franchise license. no.
  • Staying fat for Sarah Burnes
    • Crutcher doesn't really check out much in my library, but this one fell apart (not from excessive circ though) so I'm getting a replacement. yes.
  • Stone Fox
    • BOB book. yes.
  • Stories Huey tells
    • Our copies just don't circulate. I am replacing with this one, which has a great cover, and hoping I can find the others, maybe through Amazon, if this one starts circ'ing. yes.
  • Summer of my German soldier
    • Can you tell I'm updating classics? No circs at all, but the new cover might make it go out again. I read this book and...did NOT like it, but it isn't the type of thing I'd like anyways. yes.
  • Sweet and spooky Halloween (disney)
    • tub books do not last forever...yes.
  • Syren
    • Was falling apart, but we repaired it. will see if i can wait a while longer before replacing. no.
  • Tale of Despereaux
    • No one has noticed yet that we are down to 0 copies, but it's only a matter of time. Plus, it's a BOB book. yes.
  • Thor's big adventure
    • have you noticed i replace a lot of tub books? they only cost about $2.5 and we get at least 30 circs out of them. well worth it, imo. yes.
  • Tracker by Paulsen
    • I moved all the Paulsen books to the juvenile section and am slowly replacing the really hideous-looking ones, which includes this. yes.
  • Trains by Hubbell
    • it fell apart. yes.
  • Trip to the zoo by Wallace
    • DK paperback easy reader. yes.
  • Trucks go by Steve Light
    • These board books don't last well, but they're so popular I replace them anyways. yes.
  • Tugg and Teeny jungle surprises
    • fell apart after less than a year. i won't buy any more books from this publisher, Sleeping Bear Press, if I can avoid it. no.
  • Vapor, rain and snow
    • replacing old rainbow book
  • Whale talk
    • again, Crutcher isn't a huge circ but some things you just have to have. yes.
  • When will this cruel war be over (dear america)
    • fell apart. These just sit on the shelf and then one kid will come in and check them all out, so worth replacing. yes.
  • Wolf who cried boy
    • fairly forgettable imo, but it's a BOB book. yes.
  • WWE triple H
    • missing DK easy reader. I just bought a new book on WWE wrestling, but it's probably still not enough. yes.
And that's the list! I may add a few more things before November actually rolls around, but that's the bulk of it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Very Big Carrot by Satoe Tone

I was intrigued by the illustrations in this little book, but I will admit the first time I read it I wasn't impressed by the plot, or lack thereof. However, the more I read it, the more I liked it.

I thought it was going to be a retelling of the folktale (sometimes it's a giant radish, sometimes a giant carrot - you know the one where they keep adding people to try to pull it out of the ground?) but it's a completely unique story. Six rabbits happen upon a giant carrot, a swirl of orange in the midst of a field of tiny orange carrots, surrounded by patterned leaves. The adorable shovel-bearing bunnies unearth the carrot and set off home, trying to think of a way to use it. Boat? Airplane? Could they make it into a sky garden or a house? All that thinking makes them hungry and they come up with the perfect use for such a very big carrot...dinner!

This is an elegant little book and the big draw for me were the imaginative, dreamy pictures. The little details on the rabbits add a note of humor. I loved the intricate background patterns and the lacy detail work on the carrot top.

Verdict: You could use this to spark some imagination play or just to enjoy the lovely art. It's too small to really work well in storytime, but as a one-on-one read-aloud I would recommend it.

ISBN: 9780802854261; Published July 2013 by Eerdmans; Review copy provided by the publisher; Added to the library's tentative order list

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Little Naomi, Little Chick by Avirama Golan, illustrated by Raaya Karas

Simple, poetic text follows Little Naomi throughout her day. She gets ready for preschool, enjoys a fun day with her friends and teachers, helps her mother, plays and finally gets ready for bed. But while Naomi enjoys her day, what is Little Chick doing?

This is a sweet and fun story. I reviewed it from a F&G (folded and bound) galley, so some things may change, but I really liked the format it was in. It's a rectangle, kind of like an oversized easy reader. On the left side of the page is the text describing Naomi's actions and always ending in the phrase "But not Little Chick." Under the text is a simple sketch of Naomi in action. On the right side of the page is a full illustration of Little Chick's parallel actions. When Naomi is making handprints with paint, the illustration shows Little Chick making muddy tracks across the yard. When Naomi is taking a bath, Little Chick and her friends are being washed down by their parents under a spigot, etc.

The crayon and pencil illustrations are soft and gently humorous and the text, translated from the original Hebrew is simply but sweetly written. I'm not sure that younger children will really grasp the more subtle humor of the two parallel days, but it's still a fun story even if you don't "get" it. Also, it's not easy to find books showing kids in preschool and I'm always looking for more titles.

Verdict: This won't be an instant bestseller like Fancy Nancy or Pete the Cat, but if you are looking for more everyday activity books, especially showing kids going to preschool, you'll want to add this title.

ISBN: 9780802854278; Published September 2013 by Eerdmans Young Readers; F&G provided by publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers; Added to the library possible orders list.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Ocean Counting by Janet Lawler, photographs by Brian Skerry

National Geographic has been doing a lot of nonfiction for kids in the past few years and I've started buying more of their titles for the youngest ones. Their colorful, simple photographs are very attractive although sometimes the text is a bit hit or miss.

This is a companion to the African Animal Alphabet book they put out a while ago and it has,  obviously, ocean creatures and counting.

Each page has a large-format number, headline text naming the animal, a few simple sentences with a question, and a smaller "did you know" box with a fact. The questions range from counting suggestions to more open-ended discussion starters.

Like all National Geographic's work, the photographs are fabulous and have a surprising variety for a simple counting book. The hammerhead sharks are shown in shadowy profile, some fish are shown against a stark blue background, while other creatures are in their environment; weeds, coral, etc. The book ends with two pages showing the animals in columns - you can count from 1-10, and then 10-1 on the facing page. There is a spread that gives brief facts about each animal including habitat and food. There's a note from the photographer and a map with a key to find the various animals. There are some counting activities with this, but they're not as good as the basic book. The final page has a brief glossary and more resources.

Verdict: This is a great book for young kids to browse and definitely for storytime. I like the different levels you can read it on; basic counting for the very young toddler, read the simple text for young preschool, and read the additional facts for older kids. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781426311161; Published 2013 by National Geographic; Purchased for the library

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Summer Programming 2013 edition: The review

So, summer is over (hellooooo fall programming!) and it's time to sit down and look at the numbers, the programs, and make some decisions about next summer while it's still fresh in my mind. Just a reminder, all my programs, links, documents, etc. are here.

Summer Reading Programs
  • Rubber Ducky Readers
    • 42 kids participated. Most of them left off their ages, so I can't tell specifics on that. A couple left off their names, and I assumed they were separate kids! 32 turned in June logs, 29 turned in July logs. I was aiming for 50, so I was not far off. Notes for next year - Despite the rubber ducky and sign on the box, many older kids took them as prizes. Not a big deal, but don't expect an accurate count from the prizes! I need to announce RDR in baby storytime every week, as many people came irregularly.
  • Dig into Reading
    • 470 kids participated. They turned in 1,963 bookmarks. The three elementary schools had about 100 kids each and the rest were from the middle school, outside of our school district, or under school age. 102 kids were ages 3-5 (and some toddlers who snuck in), 239 kids were ages 6-9 and 127 were ages 10-12.
    • Prizes. This year I mixed them up in the prize box, so kids could pick what they wanted, instead of only having one thing each week. It drives staff (and, ok, some parents) crazy waiting for them to choose, but I think choosing is one of the best parts! They could still turn in their last bookmark and get a prize after we ended, but most kids don't. It's just for the handful that come back late and panicked that they're going to miss their last prize.
      • We gave out 255 books (they're a prize only one week, so it depends who comes in that week. I have considered making it the first week prize, but I think people will still get confused back to when we gave out books at registration)
      • Hi-Bounce Balls from S&S Worldwide were our most popular prize. We gave out 467
      • Next most popular prizes included frog poppers, mini inflatable beach bags, color me hand puppets, mini playdough, bubbles, and fancy stickers.
      • Meh prizes - some kids liked them, some kids were meh, but they were cheap and we had a lot of them: Plastic snakes, wooden shapes to decorate, shark pencil toppers, and misc. stuff.
      • Prizes where they fell apart and I ended up throwing them away - cheap tire-shaped yoyos from S&S. Gotta remember, no moving parts!
  • Super Readers
    • 157 kids participated. Only 2 of them did Super Readers and not Dig into Reading, the rest did both, as intended. 130 of them completed the program, reading 14 hours. The rest read a combination, mostly 6 hours.
    • I had one parent complain that her kids didn't get the log at the beginning of summer, which is another justification for more staff since trying to run the summer reading program at the main information desk is really chaotic.
    • There was a lot of last-minute panic that we were going to run out of passes, but we didn't. Other than the county fair tickets, I had 200 of everything, so that was more than enough. I might keep the extra museum pass for the end next year, instead of giving them out the first week when kids "signed up".
  • The kids in these two programs read a combined total of 3,989 hours.
  • Teen summer reading. I only had about 20 kids participate in the past, but I let middle schoolers join this program this year (although they had to actually be in middle school, i.e. going into 7th grade next year at least) and we had 55 kids participate. They read 273 books and we gave out approximately 152 prizes, either books or candy. A lot of candy was, ahem, liberated though. I spent about $150 on this program, including the $25 Amazon gift certificate as the grand prize. You can see what the kids read here. It's just a sampling, but generally very little actual YA was read. Which kind of confirms what I have always secretly thought - it's mostly adults who read YA - and I'm going to cut my teen budget and JLG levels.
  • Daycare summer reading. 16 kids ages 3-9 participated at the daycare I visit during the school year. Next year I'm hoping to expand this program to include the large daycare in town, but that will mean having materials and prizes for over 100 kids, so it will depend if I'm able to put that together or not. I did two storytimes with them, at the beginning and the end, and took them 72 books to have over the summer.
  • Overall, the programs went really well. I would like to tweak the teens a little, maybe do something different than the grand prize, but that's it. June circulation was 12,994 (up from 11,333 in 2012) and July circulation was 13,896 (up from 11,431 in 2012). That's children's and YA materials only.

  • Our average program attendance last summer was 50. This year it was 35. That was what I was aiming for and much more manageable overall. We had 67 children's programs and an overall total of 2,365 attendance. People continued to participate in 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, reading over 3,000 books in June and about 2,000 books in July.
  • We also had 4 teen programs with a total of 36 attendees. Meh, it was ok. 10 kids came to see the Hobbit, some more kids wandered in to play Wii games, and 7 girls came to Girls Night Out. Moving it to August really dropped attendance, but I simply can't handle another prep-heavy program in June or July. I will need to do more marketing on this next year.
  • My big, fancy programs went from 100+ to an average of 60, since I required registration this year. I am very happy with that and feel that with only one staff member (me) assisted by a couple teen aides who are also supposed to be shelving etc. that's really all I can handle.
  • I only had a few outreach things this summer, other than the 2 visits to the daycare. I did my 5 back-to-back storytimes at summer school 1, but wasn't booked for summer school 2 (which was totally fine with me). I agreed to do something for our town's Festival of Summer, but it was rained out so we hung out in the library instead, again, fine by me. We had 42 animals for our stuffed animal sleepover.
  • Program breakdown
    • Preschool Interactive: 8 programs, 206 attendance
    • We Explore: 6 programs, 146 attendance
    • Messy Art Club: 3 programs,  111 attendance
    • Lego Club: 5 programs,  227 attendance
    • Storywagon
      • Creepy Crawly Zoo: 105
      • Puppet Story Theater: 80
      • Duke Otherwise: 82
      • Great Scott (magician): 118
    • Kick-off program, Welty Environmental Center: 60
    • Dance into Summer with Ella Bella Ballerina: 74
    • Angry Birds party: 68
    • Nature's Niche (live animal show): 100
    • Ending party, Book Experience: 43
    • Miss Pattie's storytimes
      • Tiny Tots (evening storytime): 4 programs, 85 attendance
      • Toddlers 'n' Books 10am session: 8 programs, 248 attendance
      • Toddlers 'n' Books 11am session: 8 programs,  175 attendance
      • Books 'n' Babies, storytime/playgroup: 7 programs, 287 attendance
Thoughts for next summer
  • Unless I get a summer assistant, which is an unlikely but beautiful dream of mine, I am seriously thinking about dropping Preschool Interactive next summer. Attendance is variable and it's a time-intensive program, so I think that's the best one to drop. I'm going to focus on having summer programs that are modeled around the after school clubs - things where lots of people can drop in, do something, and take off again. It's easy to forget over the months how crazy things were, so I am writing a note now to remind myself of how exhausting and frustrating summer can be. I did cut back in a couple areas, and need to remember to continue to do that, but there's simply too much for one person so something has to go.
  • I only did three outreach things over the summer - two visits to the daycare I had set up as my test site for the daycare summer reading and one visit to summer school. The bigger daycare brings kids to the library (this is not a planned thing, I'll just look out the window and see 20-40 kids disembarking from the bus. However, they are well-supervised and well-behaved and the teachers don't expect me to do tours or programs or anything, so it's all cool.) Could I do more outreach? Yes, but I think that will also be off the plate unless I get lots of assistants. I need to be in the library as much as possible over summer.
  • I know I said I wasn't going to change anything more, and I think I'm at a really good place with summer reading, but I might need to review the teen program. Only about 5 of the participants were 15 or older (this is a guess, since I don't have all their ages, but I do know most of them). The vast majority of participants were middle school kids. They were really excited that I let them join the teen program, as most of them feel the regular program is too young for them. However, this does mean the program was a lot more expensive - not only did I have to buy enough candy for up to 25 kids to get prizes each week, a lot of it when I wasn't watching. We also had a problem with the grand prize Amazon gift card which I don't think would have been an issue with an older winner. I think some of the thrill of being in the "teen" program might diminish if I call it something else, but I might just leave off the grand prize or do something different. Not sure what. We are going to have to move the prize table back up for the librarians to watch though, if I don't have someone at the children's desk consistently.
  • I'd really like to make a big push for more participation in summer reading. I have about 23% of the elementary-aged students in our town involved, but it could be higher! There are a lot of things I could do, but again it depends on staffing. I do think I can have my aides do more next year, since they will both be trained and a lot of the other staff issues we had (hopefully) won't exist. I want to get more marketing out and about town, maybe have someone at the grocery store fun day to hand out registration again, etc.
Final thought: In looking back on my summer reading goals and thoughts, I found this from my first solo summer reading program in 2009, when I first starting creating my own programs. These are the three goals I had for my library and myself during the summer.
  1. Encourage all children, especially reluctant readers, to read, including family and independent readers. Therefore, we need attainable goals and incentives.
  2. The prizes shouldn't outweigh the reading.
  3. Every child gets their own book.
This was my sixth summer reading program, counting the one I did when I first came, and I think these are still great goals and we're doing a good job of meeting them.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

This week at the library

Random Commentary
  • Cybils has begun! Now is the time to apply to be a panelist! I'm really excited at the revisions to the panel I chair - it is now Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction, instead of just picture books. World domination, here I come! Mwa ha ha! Anyways, sign up now! There are many awesome panels and if you don't have the time to commit to being a first round judge (LOTS of reading and discussion involved) there's always Round 2 to consider!
  • The homeschool meet 'n' greet turned out to be a used curriculum sale. We kind of got confused or something. Whatever. I just supplied my aide to move tables and some kids' crafts and snacks and looked in on them occasionally. I'll do the actual meet 'n' greet with a little talk about library resources in September I guess.
  • Publicity, planning, cleaning off my desk, cleaning out the storage room, rearranging space, more parks and rec drama, last numbers for summer reading, it was a busy week. It was also frustrating. When I tried to order some bookmarks from ALA graphics...the website insisted Wisconsin was a foreign country. I spent an hour at Best Buy waiting to be told that they didn't have what I needed to fix the library camera...on and on. Sigh. (I did get a discount at BB to get the piece I needed to fix MY camera, since I waited so long, so I guess I'm just going to stick with using my personal camera at work, which I've been doing for the last six months or so.)

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Never Girls: In a blink by Kiki Thorpe, illustrated by Jana Christy

I'm always torn by these company tie-ins. On the one hand, they tend to be really popular. Kids like easily recognizable characters, they like to continue the stories from tv that they love, they like the often pretty illustrations and slick marketing. On the other hand, the writing tends to be bland, if not downright painful, and the commercial elements make me feel squicky. I try to keep a balance in my collection and if I see something that I can recommend without wincing too much and I know it will circulate like crazy, I am on that series like that.

This series is a spin-off of the popular Disney Fairies/Tinker Bell franchise. Kate, Mia and Lainey are best friends, even if they have very different interests. Gabby, Mia's little sister, tags along. One day each of the girls hears or sees something magical ending in Gabby seeing an actual fairy, Prilla. Prilla accidentally "blinks" the four girls to Neverland and they have magical and sometimes frightening adventures before finding a way home...they hope. Or would they rather stay on in Neverland?

The plot is thin and the writing a bit wandering, but kids who are fans of Tinker Bell and the Disney Fairies will love the references to familiar magic places, fairies, and things. I also received a copy of the 3rd title in the series, A Dandelion Wish and the characters are more developed as the series continues. The combination of the girls and their everyday concerns and squabbles with the magical world of Neverland is done very well. I appreciated that Mia and Gabby throw in occasional Spanish, but their race isn't belabored and they get a primary part of the story, instead of being the token multicultural friend. I really love Jana Christy's sweet pictures and they're a perfect match for this series. They have a light, magical feel to them and combine the fantasy world of the fairies and the everyday world of the girls very well.

Verdict: There are several other fairy series that are better-written from a literary standpoint, and if we're comparing my preference would be for the Fairy Bell Sisters series by Margaret McNamara, but this will definitely be a high-circulation item and it nicely combines friendship and fantasy in a way that's not overly sweet or too Disneyfied. If you have Disney fairy fans, or kids looking for beginning chapters with a little bit of magic, this will be perfect.

ISBN: 9780736427944; Published January 2013 by Stepping Stone/Random House; Review copy provided by the publisher; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

True Colors by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

I frequently buy books based on their covers. I feel no shame about this. That, after all, is what covers are for; to attract readers, to hook them on the book. I pride myself on knowing what covers will grab kids' attention and convince them to pick up a book. I can't always tell you how I know a cover will work, but when I first saw this one I knew it would. Something about the colors, the girl's stance, and the animals and I could tell you

  • This is historical fiction
  • Set in a small town, probably in the rural south and the girl will have some kind of quirky name
  • The girl has probably lost her parents but might just have family issues
  • A certain subset of 9-12 year old girls will fight to grab it off the shelf.
When I received a review copy, I quickly discovered that I was right on all counts except the geography - it's Vermont. The story is set in the 1950s, Blue, the main character, was a foundling and wants to know what happened to her mother, and the copy I bought for the library has been flying off the shelf all summer.

Is the story cliched? Heck yeah. You've got the girl with the quirky name, in a small town where everybody knows each other but they're hiding secrets. Blue's adoptive guardian isn't demonstrative but you know by the end she's going to realize how much she loves her. There's even the stereotyped "simple" man that animals naturally love and who is so gentle he never fights back, even against the stereotypically bad boys whose nasty father never stops their cruelty. There's the required natural disaster and the grand denouement, when Blue realizes that all the family she wants is right there in town.

Is there anything wrong with this? Nope. Well, except for the "brain-damaged/simple people are naturally good with animals and will never hurt anyone" stereotype, which really, really annoys me. The point is that that's why kids, and people, love genre fiction. You know what to expect and it's comforting to fall into the familiar tropes of the story. Just because it's not unique and doesn't have any unexpected twists (I'm not talking about the "big secret" at the end of the story - that's part of the expected tropes) doesn't mean it's not well-written, interesting, and fun to read.

Verdict: I long ago outgrew this particular genre and was never a big fan to start with, but as I said earlier, there are plenty of kids who will eat it up. This is a pretty good example of the genre and would make an excellent addition to any library.

ISBN: 9780375860997; Published 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf/Random House; Review copy provided by the publisher; Purchased for the library

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: DK craft/activity books

There are some "nonfiction" books that nobody seems to review. Series nonfiction and how-to/craft books seem to be the least popular. On the one hand, it's hard to review these titles; unless you have umpteen hours to do all the crafts/activities/recipes you can't really say what will or won't work and after a while they all start to look the same. Really, there's only so much you can do with seeds, glue, and paper. As I read through these three new books I found myself super annoyed - "ack, they repeated crafts" "do we really need more crappy crafts in the garden?"

Well, no. But that's the librarian's point of view. When you see everything it's easy to forget that a patron doesn't come in and see 10 identical craft books. Maybe the other books are checked out, or they just want a specific craft, or they grab the first thing that catches their eye. They're not going to sit down and read through the books cover to cover.

So, I don't feel I wasted the library's money after all (can you tell it's budget time?). Even if they have some drawbacks, I love DK's craft books. They have a wide variety of activities, are brightly-colored with lots of photographs, the instructions are clear and simple, and they're generally attractive. I especially like that their recipes are real food, even if some of it is a bit British.

Outdoor Crafts is similar to some of the gardening/craft books they've previously published. It's divided into three sections, Make It, Cook It, and Create It. The first section includes information about germination and gardening and has various garden projects. Lots of cute plant labels and creative containers. The cooking section has recipes for muffins, mini pumpkin pies, ice pops, herbal sun tea, red currant cordial, pepper hummus, vegetable chips, blueberry cheesecake, and kebabs. The pumpkin pies are a recycled recipe from a previous book (and why DK has so many recipes calling for puff pastry I do not know - I've never seen it in the store. Then again, I've never looked). I'm not sure currants grow around here - I've never seen them. I'm a bit doubtful about the vagueness of herbal sun tea. It has some suggestions, but kind of leaves it open-ended and I can see kids dumping any old plant in to steep. However, I doubt they'd drink it (or the tea itself, which doesn't sound too good). The final section, Create It, has some really clever crafts and activities. Making a fairy ring, flowerpot people, various kinds of gardens, sachets, stepping stones, corn paper, mini ponds, and topiary. One of the gardens is to make a mini cactus garden and it's themed "wild west" with little plastic Indians in the pot. This is vaguely disturbing, but I am somewhat resigned to the extremely odd attitude towards Native Americans found in many British children's books. The topiary is, to put it mildly, ambitious, but there is a simpler alternative included. Several pages of bug information and plant suggestions, a glossary and index complete the book.

The Big Book of Things To Make is a kind of random compendium of crafts, facts, and stuff. It's divided into three sections, Make It, Do It and Know It. The first section includes things like paper airplanes, pizza (from dough to toppings), science experiments, and a pinhole camera. The second section, Do It, brings back the Wild West cactus garden with even more plastic Indians (seriously British people, this view of Native Americans went out in the 1950s, or it should have!), flipbook animation, learning to juggle, make balloon animals, write a story, have a water fight, and more. The final section is even more random, ranging from trivia about robots to tips on spotting deadly snakes, to information on the seven wonders of the ancient world. This book is a really random collection, but I can see it being a great title to take along on vacation or hand the kids during a long summer day and tell them to just try something.

I am not going to say anything about the fact that the book of things to make and do is blue and the book of crafts and decor is pink. Nope, not going to say anything. Ahem.

The Big Book of Crafts and Activities actually could have been called The Big Book of Sleepover Activities and Party-Planning Ideas. Which is fine, nothing wrong with that, and there are lots of fun ideas in here. It has numerous chapters; Bedroom Makeover, Treat Yourself (how to make bath bombs, have a "pamper day" and your own chocolate truffles), Fashionistas, Watch it grow (includes a section on healthy eating), Friends Forever (make me banana pancakes and we will not be friends forever. Yuck. That's just me though). Culture shock includes some international dishes, customs, and how to trace your family tree. This is followed by Get Crafty, Summer Living (ice cream and making balloon animals are some highlights of this section), Food Heaven, Remember the Date (party planning), Sewing It and Activity Time (some crafts, but also party games).

The final chapter includes reading horoscopes, which might bother some people, but in a dip and try book like this you can't expect everything to be just right. Realistically, most of the activities in this book are going to be of interest to girls having sleepovers or planning parties with friends. Everything is pretty pink, in other words. Again, nothing wrong with that, and I frequently have girls asking for party/sleepover idea books and crafts to do, especially if they're babysitting, and this has a nice mix of ideas.

Verdict: Are these perfect? No. The bindings are ok, but nothing to write home about (I have a hate on for DK's bindings right now - Disney Fairies Encyclopedia, bought in May, circ'd 4 times, binding totally disintegrated on me. GRRAHGH). Some of the activities are repeated from book to book, some of them are things you could find in any craft book. There is the occasional minor typo and the odd Britishism. Do I regret buying these? Not at all and I heartily recommend them. They're affordable, colorful, attractive, and they have a huge variety of crafts, activities and ideas to spark kids' imaginations and provide something to do for those long summer days or the occasional crafty weekend moment. There's something for every child somewhere in these books and they make a great addition to our craft section.

All three titles were published in 2013 by Dorling Kindersley (DK) and purchased for the library

Outdoor Crafts
ISBN: 9781465408242

The Big Book of Things to Make
ISBN: 9781465402554

Big Book of Crafts and Activities
ISBN: 9781465402561

Saturday, August 17, 2013

This week at the library

Made you look! I was not at the library this week, so I have nothing to say! Vacation was fun (and hot) and I will be back hard at work on Monday. Coming soon....CYBILS and other fun stuff.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

I have to admit that I checked this out, kept it forever, returned it, checked it out again, and finally cracked it open. It was delightful. Not quite enough magic to be truly in my polite society fantasy collection, but close enough. It has all the delightful insanity of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate with none of the politics and angst that made me lose interest in the later books (none of the sexytimes either, but oh well it is a teen book).

Sophronia is a typical tomboy; she doesn't fit into polite society, prefers climbing to etiquette, and can't imagine why her sisters like all those "girly" things like dresses. That is, until she finds herself packed off to a very unique finishing school. Before she's even arrived, she's made a new friend, a new enemy, and discovered she has some surprising skills. But the story doesn't end there; mechanimals, eyelash-fluttering practice, sooties, vampires, werewolves, and more will all come her way before she even begins to be finished.

I love how Carriger brings out stereotypes and just when you're rolling your eyes and thinking "I've read that before" she suddenly flips them on their head. Sophronia is a tomboy and her mother is exasperated, but she agrees to pack her off more because she simply doesn't know what to do with her than because she's worried about conventions. Sophronia's friends aren't perfect paragons, they can be whiny, traitorous, sulky, and make mistakes, in other words, typical pre-teens. Sophronia herself is neither fighting for her independence nor completely lacking self-esteem. She quickly comes to see the value of "girly" things and discovers she has more skills than she knew, but she always has a core of inner stubbornness and self-identity that shine through, keeping her the main protagonist.

Verdict: As you can tell, I loved this story. Would I buy it for the library? Well...probably not. Steampunk and polite society fantasies seem to be much more popular with adults than kids or teens, at least at my library. It's actually kind of an odd book. It has a very clean, delightful adventure feeling (except for the parts where they talk about assassinations) that makes it feel more middle grade, but the way it's marketed and the reading level make it feel more young adult (not to mention the potential assassinations). If you have a lot of fans of Gail Carriger's books, definitely buy this one, otherwise I'd recommend it for your personal collections and enjoyment.

ISBN: 9780316190084; Published 2013 by Little, Brown; Donated to the library

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Circle: Book one of the Sidhe by Cindy Cipriano

Calum is nervous about starting sixth grade and can't get rid of his guilty feelings over the mysterious disappearance of his cousin, Finley. He's also feeling worried about his diminishing sidhe powers. When a new girl shows up in town, he doesn't expect to make friends with her and is surprised when he finds himself making a threesome with Laurel and his cousin Hagen. But Laurel's odd behavior around Hagen causes problems, there are new bullies at school to deal with, and mysterious whisperings of something wrong in the faerie mounds. Will Calum ever find Finley and discover Laurel's secret?

This story has a good basic plot; stolen kids, machinatons among the sidhe, and a magical bookstore. The author's experience as a middle school teacher shows through in realistic touches of how middle school kids think and feel. Overall, it shows promise for a debut author.

However, nothing really happens until the last chapter. There's a lot of dialogue and a lot of new names, almost every paragraph it feels. I felt like I never really got to know any of the characters and there were a lot of different plot points that petered off into nothing. Calum's changing friendship with Arlen, the bullying Sloan siblings, and Calum's various sidhe relatives with their familial and political issues are all touched on briefly and detract from the main plot of the story. The reader doesn't get a good feel for the fantasy element/sidhe world of the story and it's frustrating to have bits of information dribbled out here and there, half a chapter of action, and no real resolution for the story.

Verdict: There are promising points, but it needs stronger world-building and a lot of editing of characters and plot points to refine it. I did appreciate that it was a shorter book - it's hard to find middle grade titles that aren't over 300 pages anymore. The cover is not very eye-catching and the book is only available on Amazon (i.e. not available on my vendor Baker and Taylor). If you have really rabid faerie fans they might be willing to pick this up, but otherwise I'd stick with Michelle Harrison's 13 Treasures series, Magicalamity by Kate Saunders, and Laura Sullivan's Under the Green Hill for serious faerie fans. I do think this author shows promise and I'd be interested in seeing what she could do with a realistic fiction book about middle school, as those were the parts of the story that seemed strongest.

ISBN: 9781922200044; Published 2013 by Odyssey; ARC provided by author for review

Monday, August 12, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Wild Animal Neighbors by Ann Downer

I reviewed a very complete overview about urban wildlife last December, City Critters by Nicholas Read. I thought it was a really good overview, but unfortunately it proved a bit long for my library patrons and really hasn't circulated much. Sigh. So, when I saw Lerner had a similar title that was shorter, and I could pick it up on sale, I added it.

This is more a selection than an overview, with each chapter talking about a specific animal. Some, like the black bear in the introduction, are actual animals and some are more general, like raccoons. The book covers raccoons, mountain lions, crows, coyotes, flying foxes, sea turtles, and alligators. Each chapter tells some stories about how these animals live in an urban habitat and gives information about their habits, behavior, adaptation, and how they are faring in the cities.

The epilogue discusses some of the issues with wildlife in the city that were touched on in the different chapters and the book includes a bibliography, index, notes, and sources for further information.

Verdict: This is a better book for kids wanting to dip into interesting stories about animals in the city and learn some information along the way. It's not as in-depth as City Critters, but kids looking for some quick resources or an interesting read will enjoy it. I recommend purchasing both, but if you only have money for one I'd get Wild Animal Neighbors, since it will appeal to a larger audience.

ISBN: 9780761390213; Published 2013 Twenty-First Century Books/Lerner; Purchased at ALA Annual 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

This week at the library; or, The End of Summer! Will it be the end of me also?

Random Commentary
  • Monday needs only two words...EXPLODING TOILET
  • I was exhausted for most of this week (I counted it out and realized I'd only had about 20 hours of sleep the whole week. That may have contributed) and we had the usual patron outrage that their child didn't receive the prize/pass etc. that they wanted (one girl looked in the prize box, looked at me and said "all the good prizes are gone. these are the worst prizes I have ever seen.") but it is OVER.
  • aaaaand, that finishes the 9 weeks of summer! I am taking off tomorrow for a week; going home to Austin in August is not my ideal vacation, but it just worked out this way. I plan to sleep most of the time anyways. When I get back, I will be posting more about summer reading and statistics. You want a statistical breakdown of my prizes right? Well, you're going to get it.
  • Last year, this week almost killed me. I did Friday programs through August, I had a Scholastic bookfair the last weekend of summer reading (Thursday - Saturday) and when it came to that final end of summer reading party I Did Not Care. I just threw some stuff out there and about 25 people wandered in. Which was fine. However, I thought carefully about what I wanted for this year and in the future and we had no Friday programs in August, no bookfair, and a more specific end of summer program - The Book Experience - which I hope to make a tradition. On the one hand, it was disappointing b/c I had hoped to get people interested in volunteering to come in and run a table. On the other hand, it was really easy, not least b/c I told my aides they were basically in charge and to have fun.
  • Summer reading will continue unofficially - kids can still drop off their logs and bookmarks to pick up prizes, but we won't hand out any more materials, I've called the teen grand prize winner, and decided on the official Queen of Summer Reading.
  • See you in a week! I will probably not have internet access, so any comments you leave won't be approved until next weekend.
Selected highlights of the summer!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Magic Bone: Be careful what you sniff for by Nancy Krulik, illustrated by Sebastien Braun

Sparky is a typical, enthusiastic puppy. Even when he makes mistakes, he knows his owner, Josh, will always love him. But then a neighboring dog warns him that digging too many holes will get him taken to the pound! Can it be true?

Sparky doesn't believe him, until he finds a delicious bone in one of his holes and finds himself suddenly transported to a strange and terrifying place (but with wondrous smells). It's a magic bone and he's in London. He has some scary adventures, meets new friends, and makes it home in time to make up to Josh for his earlier mistakes.

Nancy Krulik is an experienced author of a lot of beginning and intermediate chapter series and she has just the perfect mixture of funny and informational. There are lots of points kids will like in this series - the information about famous places, Sparky's silly view of the world around him, and his puppyish enthusiasm. I can see kids collapsing in giggles as he yells at his paws for getting him into trouble.

I was surprised to realize Sebastien Braun had done the illustrations, because I always think of him in the context of his beautiful paintings for picture books, but he does a cartoon style very well too.

Verdict: I'd booktalk this as a cross between Flat Stanley and Down Girl and Sit, two favorite series at my library. If you also have fans of those series, this should be a popular addition.

ISBN: 9780448463995; Published 2013 by Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to the library's order list

Monday, August 5, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Mystery of Darwin's Frog by Marty Crump, illustrated by Steve Jenkins and Edel Rodriguez

We've been very froggy at the library recently, so I added another frog book to our repertoire, although this is for older kids.

The Darwin's Frog has a long and fascinated history as scientists slowly learned about its peculiar habits, most notably that the male frog incubates the young in his throat pouch. The story starts with the frogs' discovery and moves from the various discoveries scientists made about the frog up to present-day research and the author's own discoveries. Additional information at the back explains more about the frog, its conservation status and includes a glossary, additional information sources, bibliography, and index.

The book is illustrated with photographs, drawings by Steve Jenkins, and portraits of scientists by Edel Rodriguez.

I will admit to being somewhat disappointed that there were no actual photographs of the frog-birthing moment, but apparently these are quite rare. It's hard to categorize this book. It's quite short - only 40 pages including the back matter - but the reading level and text density is higher, making it definitely a middle grade book. It's nicely laid out and arranged, with lots of pictures and photographs of the frogs, but it just doesn't quite reach the standards of, say, The Frog Scientists or The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs.

Verdict: If you have a lot of serious frog fans, this would be a good additional purchase. Although it is about a unique subject, there are plenty of other frog books out there and this one isn't really necessary.

ISBN: 9781590788646; Published 2013 by Boyds Mills; Purchased for the library

Saturday, August 3, 2013

This week at the library; or, Coming into the home stretch

Random Commentary
  • Only one week left of programs!
  • Monday was Monday - I work Monday evening and the afternoon is supposed to be my off-desk time (sort of unofficially, the schedule isn't that defined) and I did manage to clear a lot of stuff off my desk, get ready for the new summer reading materials we'll need on August 1, clean out my email, write up a report for the budget, etc. but I feel like there was a lot left undone. Summer is like that. Then, of course, I just had to joke with a mom when we were commiserating about Mondays that at least I hadn't had to plunge any toilets and guess what I had to do before I closed?
  • Tuesday - Pattie was gone, so I did her Toddlers 'n' Books sessions. I just used my Preschool Interactive plan for Wednesday and cut a bunch of stuff from it. Then we had our big program of the summer, Nature's Niche. He brings live animals and stays for up to two hours, great value for the money. I am very firm about not just having animals for "fun". If you've got exotic animals I want to know why. He does rescue and rehabilitation and has certifications and degrees, so I feel comfortable having him. This year, I really pushed that this program was for older kids and we were going to limit at the door how many came in. One of my aides helped me set up, then she sanitized kids and I counted. We had 100 people, almost all elementary-school aged kids. I got to see the coatimundi again, which I adore. Yay!
  • Wednesday - Preschool Interactive and a meeting to discuss staffing, budgeting, and other fun things.
  • Thursday - I cancelled Books 'n' Babies b/c Pattie was gone. There's no point in subbing for this program, b/c it's the kind of thing where you have to build up the kids' trust and I got tired of the babies crying. Plus, babies aren't my thing. I put out toys, including our new ball pit!! and bubbles. We had our last Messy Art Club in the afternoon. We did quilts last year and it was a big hit. Smaller group this year, but VERY enthusiastic.
  • Friday - What a day. I ran errands most of the morning (including 2 hours spent at Walmart getting folders for 1,000 books before kindergarten - do they have to count every individual folder? yes. all 1,000 of them). Then I came in and did some stuff, then I went back home to eat something, then I came back for Girls Night Out. I was actually able to leave at 8:30pm (partly b/c I just dumped everything in my office)
  • Only one more week to go!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Agent Amelia: Ghost Diamond by Michael Broad

This is a collection of three short stories, or cases, solved by Agent Amelia. At first, I was expecting it to be either a mystery series or a silly fiction series (Amelia thinks she's an agent, everybody knows she's not, people she follows turn out to be ordinary, etc.) But it's...not.

In her first case, Amelia is going on a field trip and she suspects her teacher of wanting to steal the Ghost Diamond, which she could use to control the world. In her second case, cats are mysteriously disappearing all over the neighborhood and she suspects something nefarious is afoot. But how can villains be using cats to control the world? In her third case, Amelia is sure something strange is going on at the garden center - and she's right! But not only will she have to save the world, yet again, from a mad villain she'll also have to deal with her own nemesis, snooty Trudy Hart.

There's a light mixture of fun and mystery in these - the villains are over the top caricatures and Amelia has a lively, geeky, determination to pursue her chosen avocation no matter what people think of her. It seems like a long time since I've seen a chapter book with a protagonist like Amelia where the mysteries were actually real, not just all in her head, and I think kids would really enjoy it.

Verdict: Funny, mysterious, and with just enough peril to thrill intermediate readers ready for longer chapters. This would make a fun addition to any collection, especially if you have a lot of young mystery/spy fans.

ISBN: 9780761380566; Published 2011 by Darby Creek/Lerner; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to the library's order list