Sunday, March 31, 2019

Kidlitcon 2019

Yes, I really only took pictures of the things that interested
me at the RISD art museum. Namely, textiles (and a few
ceramics and some Impressionists)
I can't honestly say I've been always wanting to go to Kidlitcon because I hate to travel, stay in hotels, go out to eat in strange places, and basically all the stuff that people love about conferences. But I did really want to do Kidlitcon at least once, and meet all the people I've only talked to online. Last fall I made the plunge and signed up, so when it got to March and everything was completely insane I couldn't back out! For a more comprehensive post, with pictures, see Ami's blog. And yes, most of the reason I went was to hang out with Ami. I wish she lived closer and/or we worked together! I also got to hang out with publicist Barbara Fisch, who I've only spoken to via email!

Anyways, I left early Thursday morning for a complicated travel scheme of driving, bus, and plane, then arrived Thursday afternoon and was kindly picked up by Charlotte and met up with various old Cybils friends. I also sat down and went through the guide to Providence and the conference (yes, normally I would have done this way in advance, but remember how I said everything went wombat-up? Yeah. I shoved some stuff in a bag the night before and asked my neighbor to watch my plants and that was as much preparation as I did.)

Friday sessions:
Keynote with LeUyen Pham
Yes, I enjoyed this keynote - Pham is amazing, funny, reflective, and just interesting. She talked about her own experiences as a child and a reader, how her Vietnamese heritage affected her, and her interactions with librarians and teachers. She also talked about her viewpoints changed and how that was reflected in her art.

STEM Stories
Anita Sanchez (Itch, Rotten, Leaflets three, let it be)
Richard Ho (Red Rover book on Mars coming out next fall)
Jason Viola (Science Comics: Polar Bears)
Sara Levine (Bone by Bone, Tooth by Tooth, Fossil by fossil, Flower talk)
Heidi Fiedler (Know-nonsense guides, editor)
Paula Willey (moderator)
Lots of insight into the process of nonfiction picture books, ideas for programming etc.

Charnaie Gordon
Lauren Neil
This was really good, very practical. I wrote up a lot of detailed notes I'm giving to my staff who do instagram, primarily for our teens, to hopefully bump our teen circulation.

Not just the Newbery
Shoshana Flax
Anamaria Anderson
Charlotte Taylor
As the presenters noted, there isn't a comprehensive list of children's literature awards - it's just too wide a field. However, if you're interested in awards affiliated with ALA try this list (participation varies from volunteering to running for election, but almost all require membership in ALA and physical attendance at several conferences. Ergo, expensive.) State awards are here, and I have an abbreviated list of the awards I use most often here.

Marketing picture books
Traci Sorell (We are grateful)
Michelle Cusolito (Flying deep)
Sarah Lynne Reul (Breaking news, and some lift-the-flap books that I might look at)
Jeanette Bradley (Love Mama - hadn't seen this before, very cute penguin book)
Christy Mihaly (Hey Hey Hay - I snapped that up the minute I saw it last year!)
This was really directed more at authors, talking about how to market your books and navigate your first year as a debut author, but I thought it might have some great ideas for marketing picture books and I did get some excellent suggestions for displays and promoting picture books. I also appreciated that Michelle Cusolito pointed out that you can't just walk into a library or bookstore and expect them to start promoting your work - you have to build relationships before hand. To be brutally honest, when somebody walks in and says "I've written a children's book" my first instinct is to run and hide, and assume it's probably crap. On the other hand, I have two patrons that I've known for many years, who are regular library patrons, read extensively in the children's area, and are interested in writing children's books. I'm happy to chat with them and will certainly promote their books if they get to that stage because I know they can take criticism and are working at their craft. Plus, I really, really want that cute picture book with photos...

LGBTQ positive picture books
Megan Dowd Lambert (Real sisters pretend)
Andrea Loney (Bunnybear)
Christian Trimmer (Teddy's favorite toy, Snow pony, also an editor)
Alli Harper
Jeanette Bradley (moderator)
The basic idea of this was that now that GLBTQ families are more mainstream, there need to be more mainstream picture books. There were a number of good examples of titles and discussion of what needs to be seen going forward. One thing that interested me was that this panel really typified the divide I've seen between urban/rural areas and different parts of the country. The mainstream acceptance that many of the people on this panel have seen/experienced is certainly not my experience in my small, midwestern town. Although it is more accepting in some ways (I've never had a challenge for a book with LGBTQ content and we have a small Pride fair in the summer) it's certainly not mainstream and absolutely not reflected in the attitudes of the average patron or staff. But I didn't want to harsh their buzz so I didn't bring this up. Also, Andrea Loney has absolutely awesome style (I got to talk to her later, not about literature but about hair...) and she looked fabulous every time I saw her at the conference.

Saturday sessions
Keynote with Varian Johnson
This focused mainly on being a writer and working through the difficulties anyone in a challenging profession faces.

Chapter Books
Debbi Michiko Florence (Jasmine Toguchi and has a new series coming this summer)
Kara Lareau (Infamous Ratsos)
Megan Frazer Blakemore (middle grade but has a chapter book series coming)
David A. Kelly (Baseball park mysteries and MVP)
Jarrett Lerner (moderator and author of EngiNerds)
This was a panel I was really looking forward to. It was very interesting to hear how the different authors approached their chapter book series and I feel I have been remiss in not reading more Megan Frazer Blakemore and also I bet she is a really awesome school librarian! Hearing the different approaches was helpful in narrowing down how and why I'm choosing chapter books, a pretty big selection area for me.

What makes a good comic/graphic novel
Mel Schuit
Alex Graudins (science comics the brain)
Laura M. Jimenez (academic)
LeUyen Pham
Admittedly, at this point I was just automatically attending anything with LeUyen Pham, she was just that good. There were some great points made about how kids read visually as opposed to textually, some good talking points I can use to talk to teachers and parents who are reluctant for their kids to read graphic novels, and then some really interesting views on how to read graphic novels more deeply - I think that will be a major talking point as well.

Book Blogger Salon
A bunch of bloggers hung out and chatted. The basic takeaway was that blogging is primarily a resource or home base to point people back to - if you want the social aspect of it, people are on instagram or twitter. I refuse to tweet, I just can't add that, so I accept that my blogs will gradually fade into the obscurity from whence they came, but since I have always written them as a resource, first for myself and then for other librarians, I'm ok with them not being a social media point.

Reaching Readers part I
Anika Denise (Planting stories most recently, also she has one coming out with Ruth Cummins)
Debbie Kovacs (editor)
Barbara Fisch (publicist - Blueslip Media)
Josh Funk (How to code a sandcastle)
Lee Wind (moderator and author)
This part of the session focused on reaching readers from the viewpoint of authors, publishers, and editors. I still think that all booktalks should be done by librarians. Editors just aren't good at them! Not if they're trying to grab kids' attention anyways.

Reaching Readers part II
Sam Musher (school librarian)
Melissa Fox (bookstore)
Karen Yingling (school librarian)
This was a panel I was really looking forward to and I was disappointed that Cindy Rodriguez, of Latinx in Kid Lit, was unable to be there. However, one cannot be disappointed when faced with the indefatigable Ms. Yingling and her riotous energy. I strongly suspect her of getting up before everyone else to run several miles and read a couple books. Lots of great suggestions on promoting books to readers, finding the right books, and some great discussions about diverse books and their readers.

The Frightful Fantastic
Tui T. Sutherland (Wings of Fire, editor of Warriors)
Antoine Revoy (a new graphic novel called Animus)
David Neilsen (Dr. Fell and the playground of doom)
S. R. Toliver (academic)
Paula Willey (moderator - she's a librarian and writes a blog about horror)
This was the panel that all my book club kids will be agog to hear about! So, yes kids, that was really Tui Sutherland, she was very funny and friendly, and I got two books signed for summer reading prizes. Otherwise, there was a really interesting take on "horror" or just scary elements in books and how the authors view them. It was especially interesting to see the different ways they view their audience, with some thinking of scary stories as a "safe" place for kids while others, who work with kids who have no safe place, see them as a way to work out what the kids are dealing with in everyday life. Also, to my young readers, Tui Sutherland said she was never going to kill off Kinkajou and there is a new book coming out this summer and the next graphic adaptation next fall.

And that was it! It was a pretty intense two days of sessions and there were also a lot of authors there who weren't on panels. A couple I chatted with or wanted to but missed were
Rebecca Caprara (Magic of Melwick Orchard and she has a middle grade novel in verse coming)
Anna Meriano (Love sugar magic - I wanted to go to her panel, but Ami went so I got her notes)
Barbara Dee (I missed out on telling her that the kids love her books!)

I had a few hours on Sunday so I walked around a little of Providence with Ami and then went to the RISD art museum with Barbara. Then taxi, plane, bus, car, and finally home! Now I have the week of spring break off and I am spring cleaning...

Saturday, March 30, 2019

This week at the library; or, Vacation!

Happening this week

  • Monday
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Craft-o-rama
  • Friday
    • Cupcake Wars
    • Free Lego Build
  • I got back from the kidlit conference late Sunday night and then I had the week off. I firmly refused to check my email so I have no idea what happened... except that one of my associates and an aide were also off, so the ship was held down by one part-time associate and one part-time aide. I hope they had fun and are still willing to work for me when I get back next Monday....

Friday, March 29, 2019

The collector by K. R. Alexander

I don't remember where I saw this recommended or reviewed, but I picked it up with some trepidation as I'm not generally a fan of horror. My ultimate conclusion thought was that it was more boring than scary.

Josie and her little sister, Anna, have moved with their mom to stay with their grandmother in a small town in the country. Josie is worried about starting a new school and her grandmother's deteriorating mental condition, which leads to her giving the girls some strange rules like no dolls in the house and never visiting the woods. After a rough start, Josie makes friend at school, Vanessa. But there's something a little... odd about Vanessa.


After much, much, much foreshadowing, it turns out that Vanessa is actually a childhood friend of their grandmother's. She's been preserved as a doll, sent out to lure more children into the terrifying house in the woods by Beryl, another childhood friend who is an evil witch. Josie eventually manages to defeat the witch and save her sister and the other children who were turned into dolls, but Vanessa (and the other children) return to their true ages and Vanessa disintegrates into ash and... magic. But Josie's grandmother starts recovering almost immediately and Josie now has real friends in school.

There was a LOT of atmospheric shadowing, but it was pretty obvious from the beginning that there was something off about Vanessa. Everything was quickly resolved at the end, except perhaps for the children who returned to their true ages and then had to explain where they'd been for so many years? This is never addressed. The plot felt pretty tried-and-true and I can see it being pushed aside by my horror fans who want really scary books.

Verdict: Kids who want mildly scary fare will enjoy this, but it's what I'd pick as a backlist title, if you need more books in a certain genre. It is only a little over 200 pages which is a bonus for readers who are reluctant to dive into the massive tomes that seem to be popular today.

ISBN: 9781338212242; Published 2018 by Scholastic; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Mia Mayhem is a superhero by Kara West, illustrated by Leeza Hernandez

Sometimes I read a book and wonder if I read the same thing other reviewers did. Or if I just totally missed something? This book really confused me at a couple points, but nobody else seemed to have that problem!

The story opens with Mia Macarooney promising there's really a good reason for the chaos around her - she's a superhero! She receives a letter inviting her to superhero school and her parents are excited that she's finally been accepted to their alma mater. Because they're both superheroes! Her mom can fly and her dad can talk to animals. Mia is excited, but the chaos that always surrounds her just seems to get worse, from her cat running away to exploding flower bags, torn screen doors, and it doesn't stop when she gets to the superhero academy. At first it's fun, meeting all the new teachers, getting a super suit, and having a special after-school secret. But then she has to take an exam and she's worried that she's failed being a superhero before she's even started! Luckily, Dr. Sue Perb knows just how to make Mia feel better and explain that being a superhero takes lots of time and training.

The black and white art includes some panels and full-page spreads. Mia has dark skin and curly hair, like her father, while her mother has straight dark hair and lighter brown skin. Her best friend at regular school is white, while the boy who saves her at superhero school is black. A wide range of skin tones are shown in Mia's public and superhero schools, but no visible disabilities.

This was a fun story of a little girl who keeps getting into trouble, no matter how hard she tries, with a supportive cast of parents, teachers, and friends. But there were several points in the story where I felt like I'd missed a page. When Mia sees a group of teachers? Students? And suddenly extrapolates one as her teacher, or the rapid jumping back and forth between the exams, where we never really learn how Mia did, and the structure of the superhero academy. Plus, her powers, or lack thereof, are really confusing. On the one hand, it accurately captures the confusion of starting a new school, superhero or not, but on the other hand a really readable and simple plot is absolutely necessary for a beginning chapter book, especially one as low level as this. My other caveat was simply that most of my readers don't really want non-traditional superheroes - they want Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. and while I got a few kids into Captain Awesome, I've never really gotten anyone else to read similar titles.

Verdict: Future books are sure to smooth out the plot difficulties and if you have an audience that likes spunky girls and superheroes this will probably be popular. I'm going to try it with my book club and see what they think before purchasing.

ISBN: 9781534432697; Published December 2018 by Little Simon; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Wiggles by Claire Zucchelli-Romer

Interactive picture books are all the rage, but they're often too complex for babies and toddlers. This fun title, however, will not only entertain little ones it will also increase fine motor skills.

Against the light blue pages, neon colors delineate die-cut patterns - dots, lines, zigzags, and wiggles. The text encourages little readers to follow the lines, making their fingers slide, tap, and dance! The book also includes multiple encouragements to tell the difference between right and left, using both hands together on the page. Readers can imagine waves, race tracks, and more as they follow the patterns.

It would be interesting to see if you could translate the book to a larger venue, maybe boards with sensory materials? So you could use it as a storytime activity.

Verdict: While not the best book for storytimes, unless you figure out a way to adapt it, this is a great book for one-on-one reading and encourages motor development as well as fun. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781452164755; Published 2018 by Chronicle; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The song of spring by Hendrik Jonas

An array of colorful birds appears in a green landscape to herald the spring and call to their mates. But one little bird can't remember his spring song. Each try produces the wrong call - but does net him some interesting friends like a dog, pig, and cow. Each encourages the little bird to keep trying, but he only ends up with the wrong animal! Finally, a strange sound brings their attention to another little bird who's having trouble with her spring sound and the little bird's tree is full of friends, even if they're not all birds!

The art is a mixture of soft pastels and printed and textured collages. Readers can see faint plaid lines on a tree trunk, and words stamped in the bushes among other secrets. The little bird is a sweet, fluffy little creature with a gray fluff of a crest and a red spot on his belly. The female bird looks similar, but has a snazzy pair of striped red stockings, smooth brown feathers, and a little clip. The art is placed against a white background and minimalist settings; a house, tree, and fence, a few bushes, and a single tree.

Verdict: If you're looking for more spring books, especially for younger children who will appreciate making animal sounds, this is a good additional purchase.

ISBN: 9783791373799; Published March 2019 by Prestel; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spring after spring: How Rachel Carson inspired the Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson

I do not dislike all picture book biographies, I just find very few that I think are actually useful and not just pointless artistic exercises. I was surprised and pleased to find this one met all of my (many) requirements.

The first half of the book tells the story of Rachel Carson's childhood; her love of exploration and nature, and the time she spent observing and listening to the world around her. The second half gives a simple overview of her pivotal research, showing the effects of pesticides, her presentation to President Kennedy, and a final joyful spread showing a diverse group of people enjoying the natural world she loved. A quiet night scene shows Carson continuing her observation and care of the natural world. An extensive author's note, notes, and bibliography offer more resources for older readers interested in learning more about Carson's brief but influential life.

Sisson's art is a large part of the appeal of this book for me; paneled drawings show Carson as a child exploring the world filled with birds, animals, and green. As an adult, a stark, dark panel shows the rapidly disappearing wildlife. Carefully drawn diagrams explain how pesticides affected the birds and wildlife. Young readers don't need a lot of context to understand Carson's story and the attractive, clear art is seamlessly blended with the narrative. While there are more aspects to Carson's life, such as the sexism she faced, and more history, including the tumultuous issues of the 1960s, Sisson has done a great job of explaining why Rachel Carson is important in a way that young children can easily understand.

Verdict: This is a good choice for use in classrooms and libraries for children interested in the natural world, female scientists, and some simple history about the environmental movement.

ISBN: 9781626728196; Published August 2018 by Roaring Brook; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, March 23, 2019

This week at the library; or, In which many more things happen

Happening at the library
  • Monday
    • Paws to Read
    • Manager's Meeting
    • Installation of new circulation/information desk
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • District Battle of the Books
    • VIP volunteers
    • What's Next: Teen Tech (special needs teens and young adults)
    • Installation of new circulation/information desk
  • Wednesday
    • Early literacy outreach storytimes: Rain (3 sessions)
    • Library on the Go: First grade (2 sessions)
    • Winter Wigglers: Fit Kids (2 sessions)
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Book Explosion: Minecraft
  • Friday
    • Free Lego Build
  • Worked 24.5 hours; 16 hours conference; 10 hours on desk; 6 programs
Notes of interest
  • Yes, we had a major installation of a new combined circulation/information desk.
  • I went in early on both Tuesday and Wednesday - the former at 8am to get BOB started and the latter for school visits which start around 8:30.
  • A LOT of kids, teachers, and people in general have flu or related plagues. I seem to have collected the respiratory thing that's going around. Better than the stomach virus I guess *knock on wood*.
  • I left on Thursday for kidlitcon and when I get back will be out for the week of spring break as will most of my staff. One teen aide and one associate will be doing craft-o-rama, free lego build, and Paws to Read and my associate is doing her first big teen program - Cupcake Wars!
  • So I'll be back in April.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Spooked! How a radio broadcast and The War of the Worlds sparked the 1938 invasion of America by Gail Jarrow

Jarrow writes fascinating and well-researched narrative nonfiction about little-known periods in history. This latest book is about Orson Welles's 1938 dramatized radio broadcast of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, which sparked a panic. Or did it?

From Welles's childhood and rise to fame, to worldwide events preceding World War II that contributed to the results, to the effect of radio and the reaction of newspapers, Jarrow has written an excellent account of the phenomena that is enshrined in popular myth and history as a major panic, demonstrating the gullibility of the American people. Readers will learn that fake news and hoaxes are certainly no new phenomena and perhaps even reflect on their own media consumption.

But, will there be readers? I found this fascinating - I knew of the Welles broadcast in a general way, although I'd never learned more details about it. I enjoyed the way Jarrow starts out with an attention-grabbing story of invasion and ends with the careers of those involved; many were blacklisted during the red scares and eventually moved away from the entertainment industry. She also did a great job of carefully researching her sources and evaluating the studies and reasons why newspapers hyped the effects, as well as how it affects news today. Unfortunately, I've found that Calkins Creek titles don't get a wide range of readers. They're textually fairly challenging, requiring a fluent and mature reader. Ideally, I'd give them to middle schoolers but there just aren't that many middle schoolers willing or able to read a thoughtful nonfiction title on an obscure historical event, no matter how well-written it is.

Verdict: I'm glad this is available in my system, but I can't justify buying it. I will probably pull it for 5th grade inquiry topics - some kids have chosen "hoaxes" in the past and this would be ideal - and see if that generates enough interest to make it worth purchasing.

ISBN: 9781629797762; Published 2018 by Calkins Creek; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Small Readers: Hide! by Steve Henry

This goofy easy reader is a nice addition to Holiday House's I Like To Read line of emergent readers.

Pat and Mike, an elephant and his pet fish, are out for a day in the boat. While Mike naps, Pat slips over the side to hang out with some other fish. At first it's all fun and games, but when a shark shows up, Pat is in trouble! Will anyone be able to save her from the shark?

Henry's cheerful cartoons show a red-striped goldfish, toothy grey shark, and determined gray elephant coming to the rescue. The ocean is populated with colorful cartoon fish, shy clams, and worried crabs.

This is a higher level, D, due to the more complex words used. The text is a larger font but not huge and not as heavy and dark as some easy readers. The book is carefully laid out so the text is always against a light, empty background. Levels A-C are harder to find, but this is a nice transitional easy reader for kids ready to move up.

Verdict: A good filler choice if you are looking for more low-level easy readers.

ISBN: 9780823437733; Published July 2018 by Holiday House; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Arf! Buzz! Cluck! A rather noisy alphabet by Eric Seltzer, illustrated by David Creighton-Pester

This colorful alphabet book is sure to be a favorite of wiggly babies and toddlers, especially those who like to make animal sounds!

The opening spread features a frame of excited animals, most making sounds, surrounding the introductory rhymes, "Hey! We are animals./We're noisy as can be./We chirp, we moo, we squeak/from letters A to Z!" Each following spread shows a collection of animals and several sounds or actions, organized alphabetically. One scene shows a green chicken yard with red chicken houses, yellow, orange, and red chickens, and a purple and blue rooster. They chirp, cluck, and cock-a-doodle-doo, covering letters C-D. Another spread shows a snowy landscape with walruses barking on the ice, orcas jumping in the water, and polar bears kissing, covering I-K. The story ends with a savanna scene; a zebra whinnies, ground squirrels excitedly twitter, a rhino yells, and a cheetah zooms through the scene to finish off W-Z.

Although not always absolutely accurate, or identifiable as a specific species, there's a nice variety of animals and the colorful pictures are very attractive. Even more fun is the wide range of actions and sounds for kids to mimic. The only drawback to using this in storytime is it's small size - it's 7x6 inches so would need to be used in a one-on-one reading or have multiple copies, especially since there's a lot packed into each page.

Verdict: A great addition to storytime collections if you buy multiple board books, otherwise it will be a fun one-on-one read for caregivers.

ISBN: 9781534412972; Published July 2018 by Little Simon; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Marigold finds the magic words by Mike Malbrough

Marigold, the grumpy orange cat from Marigold bakes a cake returns for his birthday. Marigold has baked an amazing cake and is ready to entertain all his animal friends with magic tricks for his birthday. But those bedeviling birds are back again and no matter what magic words he uses, he just can't get rid of them! Being Marigold, he eventually loses his temper and makes EVERYONE disappear - including his friends. Marigold realizes he just needs a few magic words to get his friends (and, unfortunately, the birds) back again.

Pudgy orange Marigold goes through a wide variety of emotions, mostly ranging from frustration to anger with a side of embarrassment when he makes his clothes disappear! and kids are certain to giggle along with the show. The colorful birds explode chaotically across the page and Marigold's magic is richly and wildly illustrated.

Verdict: I like the first Marigold story better, with its surprise ending, but this one with a more traditional ending; Marigold discovering he needs his friends and needs to say "please" and "thank you" will probably appeal more to most caregivers. Kids will just like the part where Marigold ends up in his underwear!

ISBN: 9781524737436; Published March 2019 by Philomel/Penguin; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, March 18, 2019

Terrific tongues by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Jia Liu

This book is for anyone who finds a little gleeful pleasure in encouraging a roomful of toddlers to stick their tongues out at people. Heh heh heh.

The story opens with a cute monkey sticking out her tongue towards some ice cream and a description of all the tools a tongue can be. "If you had a tongue like a sword, you might be a ..." the picture accompanying this shows the monkey with a long, sharp tongue fencing. Who has a sword-like tongue? Turn the page and find out that it's a... woodpecker! A red-bellied woodpecker is shown using it's long, barbed tongue to extract insects while the monkey watches from high up in a tree. Additional information about the woodpecker is included in smaller type.

The guessing game continues with the tongues of a moth (straw), frog (party blower), snake (nose), bat (mop), okapi (washcloth), and more. The last spreads show the many uses of a human tongue and a spread of all the creatures and their tongues in the book. Back matter includes more information about the different animals and their tongues and some additional terrific tongues!

Liu's digital illustrations and the layout of the book may definitely bring Steve Jenkins and Robin Page's books to mind, but this is definitely its own animal. Liu's illustrations mimic cut paper but are more colorful and detailed, especially in the wider scenes. They also offer more humorous touches, like the monkey using its tongue like a washcloth, covered in birthday cake.

Verdict: The interactive elements and colorful, humorous illustrations make this new animal attribute stand out from the crowd and are sure to guarantee it a success in storytime. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781620917848; Published April 2018 by Boyds Mills Press; Purchased for the library

Saturday, March 16, 2019

This week at the library; or, I am still tired

Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Discovery Playgroup
    • Books for Bedtime
    • Paws to Read
    • Summer Reading YS Staff Meeting
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • VIP Volunteers
  • Wednesday
    • Lakeland School field trip
    • Winter Wigglers: Yoga
    • Meeting with new department head for Parks and Rec
  • Thursday
    • Outreach: 5th grade career fair
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Rock 'n' Read
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Worked 36 hours; 18 hours on desk; 3 programs
Projects and notes
  • Of course I have a cold or something now. Of course. A mix of respiratory and stomach bugs are sweeping the down - I seem to have the respiratory one. That's why this week is fairly brief b/c I feel so icky.
  • I left work early on Tuesday to make up for last week's extra hours and had my hair done - mermaid colors are fresh now!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mr. Penguin and the lost treasure by Alex T. Smith

I love several of Smith's picture books; could take or leave his Claude chapter book series, and, while I personally enjoyed it and thought it was funny, am doubtful about the audience for his latest book as well as having some concerns.

Originally published in the UK in 2017, this wacky book introduces the eccentric Mr. Penguin, who longs to be an adventurer and detective, but is hampered by his equally strong love of comfort (and lack of experience). However, when he gets a call from Miss Bones and her brother Montague, who need his help to find a treasure to save the Museum of Extraordinary Objects, he is on the case, along with his sidekick and assistant, Colin the spider! After many weird and wacky adventures, and with the help of their friend Edith Hedge "who lived in the park" Mr. Penguin successfully solves the case.


It turns out that the real Miss Bones has been kidnapped and the Miss Bones and her brother Montague are two (male) villains, jewel thieves in disguise. I didn't care for the plot point of having "Miss Bones" be disguised as a woman and the only person of color is Edith, who is mostly pushed aside at the end (despite having really solved the case herself). As Kirkus says, it reinforces "dominant race, gender, and class norms". This is also pretty long for the theme and plot - a little over 200 pages - while the book reads much younger, about 2nd grade.

The main reason I'm attracted to this series is that it reminds me irresistibly of Angleberger's weird but oddly popular Inspector Flytrap and also Rider Woofson, which I don't care for myself but which has several dedicated readers. Mr. Penguin is longer and more challenging and certainly won't be for every kid, but I can see my Flytrap fans, who keep begging me for more books that don't exist, falling all over this one!

Verdict: Not for every kid or library, but if you have fluent young readers who like the weird and wonderful, with a side of goofy humor, this should go over well.

ISBN: 9781682631201; Published April 2019 by Peachtree; ARC provided by publisher

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Small Readers: Mighty Truck: Traffic Tie-Up by Chris Barton, illustrated by Troy Cummings

Clarence, a dirty brown pick-up truck, has a secret. When he gets wet, he turns into Mighty Truck, a shiny red monster truck who saves the day! (A bubble before the title page gets readers up to speed on Mighty Truck's origins).

Stella the news chopper is flying high above the city, announcing traffic jams and other important news. Stella is LOUD, just like she should be... outside. But, unfortunately, she's loud inside too, and it's really annoying her friend Clarence. He decides to teach her how to use an inside voice - with an unexpected result. She starts using her inside voice outside too, and pretty soon traffic is stuck. Will anyone get to the big art show? Can Mighty Truck save the day?

Colorful cartoons decorate the pages and will definitely make kids think of the popular Cars franchise. The "moral" of the story, that Clarence needs to be more tactful and not criticize his friends is a bit off - Stella does need to learn to use an inside voice and an outside voice, just at the appropriate time and Clarence was actually really nice about teaching her how to have an inside voice.

The words are interspersed through the cartoons, in occasional speech bubbles, and between bubbles. The text is bold and dark and generally stands out well. This is a guided reading level K, so about medium.

Verdict: Not particularly stand-out, but a good filler with pleasing characters and a strong attraction for kids who like cars and trucks.

ISBN: 9780062344700; Published May 2018 by HarperCollins; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Jonny Lambert's Animal 1 2 3

I discovered Lambert's watercolor collages (I don't know if that's what they're really made of, but that's what they look like to me) a while ago and I've come to really enjoy the style. This is a simple but sweet board book with attractive images.

Each spread shows a few animals - some out in the open, some hidden, and asks the reader to count them. On alternate spreads, you lift a flap to see the full picture. So for four camels, you see two small camel calves and an adult, but if you look closely, you'll see there are extra legs behind the adult. Lift the flap (up) and you will see a second adult camel bringing the total to four. On the pages with no flaps, the animals are still challenging to spot because of their blended colors and shapes.

From the beginning; 1 bear is alone, lift the flap to see two flying dragonflies. One hippo and two noses are shown, lift the flap to see all three hippos. The fifth wolf of the pack is shown as only a flying tail until you lift the flap. Six mice have no flap. Seven lizards are shown on the page, but lift the flap to see two of them dance away. Eight penguins have no flap. Nine bees buzz across two full-page flaps and a field of sunflowers. Ten flamingos (no flap) are the final number and the last spread and page of the book shows the numbers and small pictures of each animal.

The flaps are the thickness and weight of the heavy board pages themselves. I don't think they actually need reinforcement, but maybe some extra tape along the hinge would be good. The book is on the larger side, 8.5x8.5 so it would make a good storytime choice as well, spreading out the flaps for a good look.

Verdict: A fun and well-done addition to any board book collection recommended.

ISBN: 9781465478450; Published November 2018 by DK; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Up the mountain path by Marianne Dubuc

Dubuc's pastel watercolors and colored pencils present a gentle but meaningful intergenerational story. The elderly Mrs. Badger has had many experiences and lived a full life. Every week, on Sunday, she walks up the neighboring mountain. One day, she meets a small cat on the way. She shares her food and invites the cat to go with her. She helps Lulu find a walking stick and keep going even when its hard. Finally, they reach the top of Sugarloaf Peak and together they see the world. Their weekly walks and observations continue, but one day Mrs. Badger is too tired to climb the mountain. Now Lulu climbs and comes back to tell her friend of all she's seen and bring her treasures. And one day, Lulu finds a new friend to whom she can pass on the wisdom she learned from Mrs. Badger.

Just so you know, Mrs. Badger doesn't die. This isn't a story about death but about generations sharing wisdom and the beauty of the natural world together. Dubuc's soft watercolors show a wonderful world of animals, nature, and other discoveries that the two friends make on their hiking trips and a lifetime of quiet nature observations and acceptance.

Verdict: While this may not be a storytime pick, it's a lovely story to read one-on-one with a child or in a classroom of older kids and talk about the things they can learn from adults - and what they can teach themselves, as well as fostering a love of nature and the ability to overcome difficulties.

ISBN: 9781616897239; Published October 2, 2018 by Princeton Architectural Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, March 11, 2019

Bugs don't hug: Six-legged parents adn their kids by Heather L. Montgomery, illustrated by Steven Stone

"Bugs aren't like us." So begins this silly, informative, and rather gross picture book about bugs. Bugs don't give hugs, serve scrambled eggs for breakfast, or... But wait! Mother crickets do lay extra eggs to feed their babies. Father beetles clean up their baby's droppings. Parent shield bugs find the perfect fruit for their picky eaters. Maybe bugs are kind of like humans after all?

Cartoon art contrasts realistic pictures of bugs with their offspring and caricatures showing bulgy-eyed, anthropomorphic bugs mimicking human behavior. The bright colors make for cute pictures, as long as you don't look too close... at dung beetles and their cakes of dung, burying beetles making a meal off a mouse corpse, or a mother pill big curling up with her larvae on her belly. This one isn't for the squeamish!

Back matter identifies each bug by their scientific name and gives more specific details about their habits and behavior. There are a few picture books listed for future reading and an author's note about scientific vs. playful language. There's a final note to parents gently suggesting they not pass on their bug phobias to little ones who are curious about the world around them.

Verdict: A great choice for storytimes or bug units, use this one to introduce kids to the ways we are all part of the natural world as well as to encourage interest in the bugs and creatures around us.

ISBN: 9781580898164; Published September 2018 by Charlesbridge; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, March 9, 2019

This week at the library; or, I am too tired to come up with something clever

Happenings at the library this week:
  • I realized last week I missed the deadline for two grants I was looking at. I'm hoping the Friends will cover one and the other opens again in the summer, so I'll try to be ready next time.
  • Reports, preparing for summer reading meeting with staff next week, bills, preparation for the Maker Faire, and all manner of misc. things.
  • Maker Faire was exhausting, but worth it!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Two truths and a lie: Histories and Mysteries by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson

Another edition in Paquette and Thompson's excursion into critical thinking, this book focuses on historical incidents. The book is set up to tell three stories for each category - two are true, one is a lie. There are also lists of facts (can you find the one fake fact hidden there?) and additional information. Back matter includes the solutions, sources, and a resource guide.

A goofy monkey cartoon decorates the pages, participating in various stories. The backdrops are photographs, but some of them make the text difficult to read. The book is divided into history - there is a set of stories for ancient times, more recent (over 100 years ago), and relatively recent events. The next three chapters focus on geography - weird places and the people who live there (or do they?). The final section focuses on people, from Ben Franklin to interesting cultural notes (did you know marshmallows grow in Iceland? Or do they?)

Verdict: Readers and teachers who enjoyed the first book, will be excited to find more challenges in this title. Teachers and parents will also find this useful for lessons on sifting "fake news" from the real thing and thinking critically about what we read, in print and online.

ISBN: 9780062418869; Published June 2018 by Walden Pond Press; Purchased for the library

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Open Wide! The ultimate guide to teeth by Susan Grigsby

I don't know where I first saw this, but it looked really interesting and I've been intending to read it for... a while. I finally picked it up, and it was just as fun as it looked!

The opening endpapers have six fun questions, or "toothy tidbits" with answers on the back endpages. This sets the stage for a funny and informative journey through the world of dentition. There are sections explaining the general organization of mammal teeth, the different teeth used by rodents, insects, and fish, and the different uses for teeth from eating to defense, from hunting to tools. Not just wild animals are covered, but pets, dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. There are in-depth sections on primary (baby) teeth and permanent teeth, the history of tooth cleaning, dental hygiene, and even braces and orthodontia.

Back matter includes a variety of resources from online sites to museums, sources, acknowledgements, glossary, index, and credits.

I can see multiple uses for this handy and interesting book. Hand it to kids to dip into if they're interested in the human body, animals, teeth, dinosaurs, or history. Use it as a resource prior to dentist trips, wiggly teeth, or to soothe worries about the fate of baby teeth or future braces. Use it as a starting point for research, or just to pick up interesting facts to repeat (I'm thinking of teaching the seven-year-olds to say they're feeling grumpy because their lateral incisors are coming in...)

Verdict: Fun, informative, and definitely fills a gap, this is a toothsome book you will definitely want to have on your shelves. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781633221239; Published 2017 by Seagrass/Quarto; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Hi-Five Animals! by Ross Burach

This is promoted as a "Never Bored book!" and it is definitely not boring! Get those hands ready, because it's hi-five time!

In a series of brightly colored pictures, little readers have the opportunity to hi-five a variety of animals, from a crocodile to a shark, penguin to a polar bear. Not just regular hi-fives though, a round the back polar bear paw slap, lots of monkey paws - don't leave them hanging! and a good foot-stomping trunk slap are just a few of the fun options. The animals are goofy cartoons with exaggerated paws, trunks, and flippers that swing across blocks of color on the pages, yellow, blue, and green.

Additional instructions to growl, stomp, roar, or swing are included as well, adding to the fun of this bright little board book. It's a nice, solid square with high-contrast colors that will appeal to babies and toddlers alike.

Verdict: A must-have for your board book section, if you can afford to invest in a big set of these they'd make an awesome lapsit or toddler storytime choice.

ISBN: 9781338245677; Published August 2018 by Scholastic; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Hush up and hibernate! by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Howard McWilliam

I love books about bears, fall, and hibernation, but I get so disappointed when I find ones with great illustrations but factual inaccuracies! However, when I saw that Sandra Markle had written a picture book I was sure that would not be an issue - and it wasn't!

The leaves are changing color and winter is in the air and Mama Bear knows it's time to hibernate. Baby Bear is not so in love with the idea though. He's hungry! He's thirsty! He wants to catch a fish! His bed is too hard! Parents will laugh along with Baby Bear's delays until Mama Bear finally loses it and says "ENOUGH!" Baby Bear gives in and they are soon snoring away... until Baby Bear wakes up one more time, "is it spring yet?"

Back matter includes information on hibernation, how it works, which animals do and don't hibernate, and activities to try. There's also additional activities to explore.

This is definitely a fiction book - the very human expression of exasperation on Mama Bear's face will resonate with parents everywhere who have a non-napper - but it also incorporates true facts about bears. It shows the baby hibernating with the mother (seriously, I once found a really gorgeous book that had the baby bear being raised by the father), talks about which animals do and don't hibernate, and shows a nice picture of a cozy den in a tree with leaves.

Verdict: An excellent addition to storytimes about hibernation and to your picture book collection in general. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781943978366; Published 2018 by Persnickety Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, March 4, 2019

Little fox in the snow by Jonathan London, illustrated by Daniel Miyares

I will frankly admit that, along with many other librarians, teachers, and caregivers, I find the Froggy books to be... annoying. The kids want them read over and over again but... ugh. However! I am really thrilled at the nonfiction picture books London has been doing, each paired with a different, highly talented, illustrator.

This latest one is a single winter day in the life of a fox. In his den, the fox wakes to the morning light, hunts and catches a mouse and rabbit (only the mouse is shown being caught), and pauses for a drink. He smells a female fox, but then is chased by a wolverine and makes it back to safety with only inches to spare.

The text is written directly to the fox, "Little foxling, where will you go? You flow like a shadow across the fields. You leave little paw prints behind in the snow." The text is spare but lovely, presenting a realistic picture of the fox's life. Miyares' watercolors spread across the page, the fox's red coat a brilliant splash of color against the stark white and brown of the winter landscape. The sun glows in the sky, the wolverine's eyes flash. There's a great deal of beauty in the spare winter landscape of the forest and Miyares captures its beauty and harshness perfectly.

I've read this in several storytimes and while it's not the exuberant, funny type of story, it has a stark beauty that the kids actually respond very well to. Use a quiet voice and gestures to show the fox's movement and kids will be enthralled.

Verdict: A beautiful and informative nonfiction picture book. Note that it's eligible to be nominated for Cybils in 2019! I'm looking forward to adding this to my library. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780763688141; Published November 2018 by Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Sunday, March 3, 2019

RA RA Read: Middle Grade adventures across the genres

There's nothing like a good adventure story, especially if it's got humor, villains, and possibly even a little magic. Of course, most of these require the absence of parents or other grown-ups (unless they're mad scientists or evil or both) This is a mix of titles from my library; some are popular, some have passed out of popularity but I still recommend them, some are new!

Gadgets, Villains, and Secret Societies
  • 39 Clues by various authors (series)
  •; by Andy Briggs
  • Nerds by Michael Buckley (series)
  • Charlie Hernandez and the league of shadows by Ryan Calejo (series)
  • Masterminds by Gordon Korman (series)
  • Seven Wonders by Peter Lerangis (series)
  • Hitler's Secret; Winter's Bullet by William Osborne
  • Accelerati Trilogy by Neal Shusterman (series)
  • Explorer Academy by Trudi Trueit (series)
  • Rule of Thre3 by Eric Walters

Science Fiction

  • Books of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
  • Missing; Shadow Children by Margaret Peterson Haddix (series)
  • Sal and Gabi break the universe by Carlos Hernandez
  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Survival Adventures
  • Authors
    • Will Hobbs
    • Gary Paulsen
  • Titles and Series
    • My side of the mountain by Jean Craighead George
    • Stranded by Jeff Probst (series)
  • Dark game: True spy stories by Paul Janeczko
  • Ghosts in the fog by Samantha Seiple
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • Guts & Glory by Ben Thompson (series)
  • Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner
Updated March 2019

Saturday, March 2, 2019

This week at the library; or, Here comes March

Happening at the library this week
  • Monday
    • Discovery Playgroup
    • Books for Bedtime
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books
    • Art Workshop: Dream Worlds
    • OPtions Curriculum Fair
  • Wednesday
    • Winter Wigglers: Obstacle Course
    • Book-a-librarian sewing
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Ozobots with Girl Scouts
  • Friday
  • Worked 40.5 hours; 15 hours on desk; 5 programs
  • Continued working on neighborhoods - got through a couple more sections
  • I was only at the curriculum fair for a few hours, but I connected with several parents, made tons of buttons with the kids, and checked out several items
  • I used this post from Artful Parent for our dream worlds program
  • My two book-a-librarian clients both made a project and had fun!
  • Ozobots with the Girl Scouts was fun and exhausting. Not all 20 2nd graders came, but it sure felt like twice that number!

Friday, March 1, 2019

How we got to now: Six innovations that made the modern world by Steven Johnson

This is an adaptation for young readers of the adult bestseller. I'm often wary of young reader's adaptations, but even though I've never read the original I really enjoyed this one and look forward to introducing it to kids.

Johnson takes readers through six major innovations that changed the world. Not the wheel, fire, or computers and engines - think more modern and more generally. His six categories are Glass, Cold, Sound, Clean, Time, and Light. Each chapter explains the evolution of these things and how they affected the modern world. Glass includes the original uses of glass for ornament, into the creation of windows, lenses, and a powerful scientific and industrial tool in the shape of fiberglass. Cold seems like a convenience, until you think about the preservation of food and how it has radically changed life expectancy and the ability to move away from an agragarian society. Sound. From the first inventions of phonograph and telephone to sophisticated uses of sound waves today, here is another invention that has radically changed safety, survival, and our way of life.
Personally, I don't find most historical romances enjoyable because all I can think about is how dirty everything is. Being dirty isn't just a personal dislike; it's a huge aspect of health. Clean water, the ability to bathe and clean your clothing and home, clean food - it all depends on a series of complex medical and engineering advances. Modern society wouldn't be possible without advances in cleanliness and how it has affected health and life in general, as well as industry. Time is a more abstract concept; before clocks and mathematical equations, how did people know what time it was? Why did it matter? How has the invention of time-keeping systems and the standardization of time affected how we live today (well, how some people live. I personally have never quite grasped math+time). The final chapter on light addresses not just the practical aspects of creating light - candles, oil, and the whaling industry, the creation of the electric bulb and the ability to create light during the darkest of days and nights, but also the use of lasers, barcodes, and other scientific tools of light.

The book is amply illustrated with photographs, and includes copious back matter.

Verdict: Hand this to middle grade and middle school readers who are interested in science and history or to anyone who wants to think a little more deeply about how we got to where we are today - and where we're headed in the future.

ISBN: 9780425287781; Published October 16, 2018 by Viking; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library