Thursday, September 30, 2010

Captain Small Pig by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Susan Varley

This story feels very British, from the seemingly old-fashioned costumes of the characters, to the simple events of the narrative. Unfortunately, I didn't really like it.

Small Pig is enthusiastic about everything - including a row on Blue Lake. Turkey doesn't like anything, and says so. Old Goat isn't really interested in rowing, but indulges Small Pig in everything he asks for. The pictures are charming and lovely with soft pastel hues and a strong pastoral style, but the story just felt very blah to me. Small Pig gets and idea, Turkey phoo-phoo's it, and Old Goat lets him do it. I can see why most of the reviews are favorable - it does have a certain amount of charm and there's a certain comfort in the simple narrative of a day on the lake, but it just didn't attract me.

Verdict: You may want to add it, based on the generally favorable reviews and the pleasant illustrations, but there just wasn't enough plot for my tastes; or, I think, for my patrons. We'd like another dinosaur story from Waddell, please!

ISBN: 978-1561455195; Published March 2010 by Peachtree; Borrowed from the library

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer by Carol Brendler, illustrated by Ard Hoyt

Winnie Finn loves earthworms. But nobody else seems to recognize their many fascinating qualities. Worst of all, there's no prize at the county fair for earthworms - and no prize means no prize money to get a new wagon.

Winnie asks her neighbors about a prize for worms, but they're all busy with their own fair efforts - corn, eggs, and puppies. Which gives Winnie an idea - maybe her worms can't win a prize, but she can still earn money for a new wagon!

Instructions in the back tell the reader how to create their own worm farm and there are a few extra resources about worms and worm farming.

The story isn't exactly logical - none of the would-be Fair contestants seem to have any idea how to care for their projects on their own and their characters are pretty silly. Mr. Abernathy appears to be gardening in a three-piece suit, Mrs. Yamasaki-O'Sheridan is completely dressed in traditional Japanese clothing with a Japanese garden in the background, while she feeds her chickens, and Mr. Peasley appears to have decided to raise Afghans, a dog breed I understand is rather expensive without having researched their habits or care.

Kids won't care about the illogical events though and everyone can enjoy the silly nonsensical story and cheer for Winnie's inventiveness in earning the money for her new wagon and turning what everyone thinks is an odd hobby into a small business. Ard Hoyt's illustrations are funny and lively and perfectly suit the exuberant, nonsensical story and Winnie's own delightful character.

Verdict: A fun introduction to worm farming in a delightfully silly story. If you don't already have materials on this topic, go ahead and add it.

ISBN: 978-0374384401; Published August 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Borrowed from the library

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One Pup's Up by Marsha Wilson Chall, illustrated by Henry Cole

One pup in a tangled heap of delightfully plump puppies is up! He sets off to explore...and soon more puppies follow, one by one, drinking water, tumbling playfully, and checking out the fire hydrant. After a meal in the "Line-'em-up Cafe" the pups wind down, have their bath, and collapse into a tangled heap of sleepy puppies pup's up!

Henry Cole's art is, as always, clean and full of life and humor. The splotchy, multicolored puppies are as adorable as puppies can be as they tumble and roll through the day. Some of the counting pages are easy, some are difficult with the puppies squooshed together. Chall's rhymes are bouncy and simple, although I found the switch between "pup" and "puppy" difficult in reading aloud. This story will work well in a mixed age storytime, with the varying difficult level in counting - and what child doesn't like puppies?

Verdict: Sweet pictures and a fun story. Recommended if you need additional concept books.

ISBN: 978-1416979609; Published June 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry; Borrowed from the library

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Bug Zoo by Nick Baker

I was delighted to find this DK press book at a neighboring library while I was browsing. I recently bought two gardening/outdoor books from DK, Ready Set Grow and Wildlife Gardening and they're both very popular!

This book focuses specifically on keeping bugs as pets. I have a few books on this subject, but this is the best one I've seen, ever! There's a quick little introduction to the idea of keeping bugs as pets, spreads on the equipment and materials you'll need, and then we plunge right into...the bugs! Each featured bug has a spread of information about the bug, including detailed photographs, identification of species, and where to find them, then the next page has all the instructions you need for capture, housing, and care.

The featured bugs include wood lice (or pillbugs, or roly-polys, as we called them), slugs & snails, aphids, caterpillers, worms, earwigs, ladybugs, spiders, crickets & katydids, pseudoscorpions, mosquito larvae, dragonfly larvae, and backswimmers. I was disappointed not to see mantises, which were a favorite bug pet when I was a kid, but I believe they can be difficult to find and are not as common as the bugs listed here. I was happy to see cockroaches were not listed. I do not like cockroaches. At all.

Like all DK books, every page is packed full of information, photographs, ideas, projects, and illustrations. This particular volume has the fun addition of little word balloons here and there to add a few giggles. There's also a detailed index and a very clear page of contents.

Verdict: Highly recommended! Weed your old bugs-in-a-jar books and buy a couple copies of this excellent volume instead. Perfect for summer messy crafts projects as well as everyday research and bug keeping.

ISBN: 978-0756661663; Published May 2010 by DK; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jimi sounds like a rainbow: a story of the young Jimi Hendrix by Gary Golio, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe

I know, I know. I said I wouldn't...but here I am again, reviewing a picture book biography. These things are so addictive! So many of them have amazing writing, gorgeous art...and absolutely no use in my library.

This one is, of course, about Jimi Hendrix. In rich, varied language, Golio tells the story of young Jimi's obsession with sounds and his interest in a wide variety of music - all of which he later incorporated into his own musical style. Golio talks about Jimi's imagination and how he tried to express himself through art and music. We see Jimi's first band, his first encounter with an electric guitar, and finally how he fulfilled his dream of playing the sounds and sights he saw and heard around him and in his imagination.

Javaka Steptoe's illustrations are painted in layers on plywood, giving a unique texture and feel to the backgrounds and characters she painted to accompany the story. The book finishes with two pages of detailed biography of Jimi Hendrix's adult life, an author's note addressing Hendrix's drug addictions, websites and books on dealing with alcohol and drug addictions, and an illustrator's note describing her techniques and inspiration. There's an additional page of resources about Jimi Hendrix's life; books, discography, and websites.

This is a lovely, detailed, beautifully written and illustrated book. And nobody is going to read it at my library. There's not much interest in older music here among teens; certainly none of our teens will pick up a book that looks like a picture book. Elementary students only want biographies that are 100 pages - the length required for school projects. I don't see any parents reading this aloud to their children, because of the lengthy text and the author's note and discussions about drug and alcohol addiction at the end of the story seem aimed at an older audience anyways.

Verdict: I'm still not adding picture book biographies, especially of musicians, to my library. There's just no audience. I do think this book might find an audience in a larger, more urban library. It might also be a good resource in a school library perhaps. I'd hate to not see it loved somewhere, because it's a great book - just not right for our library. I feel like that about a lot of picture book biographies. What on earth is one supposed to do with this troublesome genre?

For the people who read THE WHOLE REVIEW....GIVEAWAY! Leave me a comment about how you'd use this book in your library or school and I will choose a lucky winner! Deadline to enter, Oct. 1st.

ISBN: 978-0618852796; Published October 2010 by Clarion; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cat's Pajamas by Wallace Edwards

Hmm...not sure how I feel about this book. As you can see from the cover, the art is elaborate and ornate, with rich colors and details. Each page on the inside has a single illustration framed in a simple square border. The book opens with the definition of an idiom and each picture illustrates a different idiom. One or two sentences below the picture use the idiom in a sentence. The illustrations not only demonstrate the idiom, but also often include a humorous trick or play on the idiom. For example, the sentence "When it came to cartooning, Elsie had a lot to draw on" is illustrated by a picture of an elephant covered with cartoon drawings and holding a bunch of colored pencils. Small jokes are also included in some of the pictures. A list at the end, titled "Letting the cat out of the bag" explains the idioms in alphabetical order.

On the one hand, we are rather fond of guessing games and seek and find books here at my library. On the other hand, I feel this one is a bit complex for most children and the best audience is probably at least 2nd grade and up. It seems like a lot of picture books I'm seeing now are really designed with older kids in mind - or even adults (I'm looking at you Lane Smith). On the one hand, younger children will probably enjoy looking at the detailed pictures. On the other hand, what I really want more of in my picturebook section at my library are books that are great read-alouds for preschool and toddler storytime and books that will appeal to the preschool and toddler crowd.

Verdict: This would be an excellent choice for an elementary school library or a classroom, especially if you're teaching idioms. I think it's less useful in a public library collection and really depends on what you need in your collection. If you have Graeme Base fans, they will eat this one up!

ISBN: 978-1554533084; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Notes on starting a Sewing Club at your library

We did a couple sewing-related crafts during our Make it and Take it programs last spring, and I decided to alternate Sewing Club and Lego Building Club on Wednesday afternoons. We had about 8 kids and a few parents show up, which was a manageable number. I put out lots of yarn (donated by our adult knitting group), misc. fabric, felt, and books with ideas. Almost everyone decided to make a stuffed animal out of a hat or glove from Make it! by Jane Bull (recycled crafts). I got the hats and gloves last year - you can get them for about 50 cents each at Walmart around March. They're pretty easy to make and the only sewing skill needed is basic stitching.

and needle threading. I forgot how time-consuming and frantic it was to keep all those needles threaded and un-knotted! Special thanks to one little girl who handed me her brilliant idea - tie your thread to the needle. This helped a lot, but I had to pull in my aide (who should have been shelving the massive carts of books and movies) to keep needles threaded and help out with the simple stuff.

Conclusion: Sewing Club is great! Make sure you have an assistant to help with needle threading and next time, after they finish their current projects, I think we're going to learn to hand-knit (except for the very ambitious and patient little girl who is making a doll out of felt. She's going to be working on that for a while) It's going to be exciting!

The Way of the Ninja & Making the Moose Out of Life

I reviewed The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear last year and basically didn't like the text, but loved the illustrations. I still don't like the text and I still love the illustrations! The ninja likes to play with his friends, cowboy and bear. But the ninja likes to do adventurous things, like jumping on beds and climbing trees. He persuades his friends to join him, instead of allowing them to choose what to play (picking flowers or painting pictures). They both get hurt and the ninja makes fun of them so they leave. Then the ninja is lonely and misses his friends - he goes to find them and works out a way that he can be adventurous, but not hurt his friends and join in their games. Everyone lives happily ever after. The pictures are adorably exquisite and I love that they handily translated the Japanese characters in a couple of the spreads. But the platitudes are just too much. I realize the story may be meant to be read tongue-in-cheek, but I don't think kids will see it that way. Of course, the fact that the text is didactic and cliched doesn't detract from kids enjoying this series and most parents WANT "issue" books anyways. I just don't like it personally.

Verdict: Add this one if you already have the original. It's popular with many parents and kids don't care about the didactism. And the pictures are lovely!

The Way of the Ninja by David Bruins, illustrated by Hilary Leung
ISBN: 978-1554536153; Published September 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates
[Nominated for Cybils]

This one I don't think even issue-happy parents will be clamoring for. The blocky, photoshopped illustrations tell the story of a moose who doesn't like to get wet, cold, or really enjoy anything outdoors. He searches for what he feels he's missing through meditation, on the internet, and "Praying to the Moose above". Finally, he realizes he needs to "take life by the antlers" to find what he's missing. He promptly sets sail in a convenient sailboat, gets caught in a storm, stranded on a desert island, and decides to make the best of things instead of giving in to circumstances. He creates a Robinson Crusoe-like life on the island with his new turtle friend Tuesday, gets rescued by a ship and enjoys a long cruise home, then happily greets his friends and invites them to go cliff-diving.

I'm not quite sure what the point of this story is. Sure, you could hand it to kids who spend their lives vegetating in front of the tv, but I don't really see them turning it off and going outside to explore based on this. Or the same things for kids who are scared to try new things. The book is very humorous, but the humor is waaaay over the heads of most kids. They're unlikely to pick up on the Robinson Crusoe joke (most adults are unlikely to pick up on this for that matter) or the finding yourself humor, or the golf ball epiphany. I think this story really had adults in mind - probably best as a graduation gift.

Verdict: A fun graduation gift, but not recommended for a children's library collection.

Making the moose out of life by Nicholas Oldland

ISBN: 978-1554535804; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Exciting Cybils news!

I am going to be a Round 1 judge again this year! I'm trying out a new category, Fiction Picture Books! To see the whole list of amazing picture book judges, and lots more fun and fascinating bloggers, check out the Cybils blog! I'm getting revved up to see if I can repeat my goal of last year - reviewing every nominated title in my category. There's a lot more picturebooks than easy readers and beginning chapter books, so we shall see...

Stanley's Little Sister by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Bill Slavin

Nobody asked Stanley if he wanted a cat in his house. His house wasn't supposed to have cat! But a cat there is. Stanley tries to be friendly anyhow, but it just gets him into more and more and more trouble. Stanley's friends give him lots of advice, but none of it works...until something unexpected happens.

The illustrations aren't my personal favorite, but they'll definitely appeal to kids with their scratchy, cartoonish quality and the humorously splay-legged dogs.

There's a nice rhythm to the plot as it builds and kids will enjoy listening to each disaster that strikes Stanley until he finally makes friends with the cat.

Verdict: There are quite a few "dealing with new sibling" picturebooks out there using the "new cat in a house with a dog" analogy, but if you need another one, this is a humorous look at the issue that kids will probably enjoy.

ISBN: 978-1554534876; Published September 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Looking closely in the rain forest by Frank Serafini

The first time I read this book I didn't like it. Why? Well, on the first spread there's a rhyming riddle "Look very closely/what do you see?/Sand dunes?/Pussy willow?/What could it be?" and the facing page shows a section of a photograph. You turn the page and the bold heading identifies the photograph, "It's a squirrel monkey" and then gives several paragraphs of information about the subject and the facing page shows a detailed photograph.

The first thing that went through my head was that this book was too old and too young. Toddlers who would enjoy the simple riddle rhymes wouldn't sit still for the lengthy informational paragraphs. Elementary-age children who would sit still for the paragraph were going to roll their eyes at the "baby rhymes."

Then I realized I was being inflexible and silly, not realizing how very, very useful this book could be with a little adaptation! Toddlers - read the rhymes and let them guess, then turn the page and help them identify the photograph. End of story, everyone has fun! Older kids, don't read the rhymes and just ask them to identify the circled section - then turn the page and read the information. They'll love it! First and second graders love guessing games, if they're not too babyish.

Now that I've wrapped my mind around it, this is a gorgeously photographed book that will work equally well for toddler storytime, school visits, and educational use by teachers. I am off to check out the other books in this series!

Verdict: Highly recommended, especially if you work with a range of ages.

ISBN: 978-1553375432; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hockey Opposites by Per-Henrick Gurth

I'm still not a fan of this series. I think the juxtaposition of everyday opposites (in/out, smiles/frowns) is confusing when paired with sports terms (defender/winger, home team/away team) and the blocky pictures don't make it clear what the sports terms mean. This, however, may well be because I simply don't understand how hockey works, other than that the main goal is to get the little black thing in the net. This one would probably be snatched up in an area where hockey is popular and by parents who are fans themselves and want to share their enthusiasm with their toddler.

Does anybody else use this series in storytime or with toddlers? How do they react to the concepts included?

Verdict: Optional, depending on your library area could be advisable.

ISBN: 978-1554532414; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thunder from the sea: Adventure on board the HMS Defender by Jeff Weigel

This is an historical sea story I'm much more excited about!

(Much more excited than what, you ask? I'm not quite sure. Maybe that John Paul Jones biography I was reading. This is what happens when you write 3 months worth of daily blog posts in advance and then, ahem, reorganize them constantly)

Jack Hoyton is only twelve when he enlists in the Royal Navy, but his first few months at sea change him forever, as he and the HMS Defender fight against Napoleon's forces.

The story doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of life at sea in the early 1800s. Brutal punishments, cramped spaces, bad food, and the daily dangers of sailing are increased by battles with the French and even betrayal from among Jack's new friends. Weigel conveys the danger, emotion, and history without being too graphic, so this is appropriate for 5th grade and up.

The riveting, action-packed story is filled in with accessible panels of historical information about daily life as well as politics and historical events. In addition to the exciting story and historical context, Weigel gives the characters depth and perspective, making their different circumstances and motivations live for the reader. The panels are clearly defined and the art is crisp and bold. I especially appreciate the very readable text - there's plenty of dialogue, action, and description crammed into the story, but you don't need a magnifying glass to read it!

Verdict: Buy it! Give it to kids who like comics, lots of action, history, or just a good story!

ISBN: 978-0399250897; Published May 2010 by Putnam; Borrowed from the library

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spell Checkers by Jamie S. Rich, Nicolas Hitori De, Joelle Jones

WARNING: This review contains annoyance, dislike, disappointment, some unpleasant quotations, and SPOILERS.

I'm extremely glad I requested this via inter-library loan from outside our system. I'd seen a few less-than-positive reviews, but the premise sounded intriguing and I liked the preview pages I saw, so I went ahead and found it in another library system. I'm glad I didn't order it because it was awful.

Three nasty teens are also witches (in a flashback later in the story, it's revealed that they stole their magic book from a Wiccan witch who only used it to do good. Her fate is left unknown, although it was probably unpleasant.) Unlike most teens in fantasy fiction, having gained powers from the spell book and by combining themselves into an even more powerful trio, they definitely don't use their powers for good, angst about their role, or worry about ethics. They use their magic to get whatever they want, and obviously all lesser humans are dirt beneath their oh-so-chic boots. One wonders why they bother attending high school at all, since they never study, often send golems to the classes they don't like, and have their parents under their control through use of their magic. Anyways, one day one of the girls finds graffiti on her locker. Then a second girl of the trio is targeted. Then their magic begins to weaken and they realize they've been cursed. After various fights and manipulation, they decide it's the third member doing it, go to her house during her party (she's used a spell to knock out her parents for the weekend) and publicly humiliate her. Which turns out to be a mistake, since the person who's really been doing it immediately bobs up. Turns out, one of the witches cheated her out of winning a spelling bee and she's been gunning for them ever since. She's learned magic solely to turn them against each other and stolen the boy they like....except, the three witches could care less about the boy. The distraught ex-speller calls up a demon, which promptly eats the hapless boy, and the three witches then proceed to trick him out of servitude to the ex-speller by offering their (non-existent) virginity. They dispose of the demon and look forward to the services of the ex-speller, now their slave.

The text is liberally sprinkled with obscenities, profanity, sexual innuendo, and verbal abuse. The girls' treatment of each other isn't actually much better than the way they control the school and it's clear that their friendship is completely dependent on their own comfort. As a picture of the sheer stupidity and nastiness of certain adolescents, I suppose one could call it realistic. There are a few humorous moments, but that's about it for redeeming qualities.

An additional gripe - it's labeled "Teen age 13+". I've heard complaints from other people about Oni Press' rating system (Courtney Crumrin for 7 year olds? I think not) but this is ridiculous. A little sample dialogue..."Sleep with one eye open and your legs closed, you slut! I'm going to rip you apart!" "Bring it on, you cow!" I thought that was the sample least likely to offend anybody. Profanity and obscenities when they're part of the story and contribute something to the plot or characters is one thing. But since there isn't really much of a plot and one certainly doesn't want any insight into the icky characters, it's rather unnecessary.

Verdict: A pointless story about nasty people with gratuitous foul language. Not recommended.

ISBN: 978-1934964323; Published May 2010 by Oni Press; Borrowed from the library

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lego Building Club was a SCREAMING success!

Finally, a program with instant popularity! It was popular, it was wild, it was chaotic. Partly it was chaotic because our youth services meeting, which usually ends at 1, went later and later and...I arrived back at the library at 3:25 and the program started at 3:30. Theoretically, we were supposed to do a theme, but I laid out the legos and opened the door as fast as I could and the kids were practically dancing with impatience. They poured in, pounced on the Legos, and were completely absorbed. We had around 30 attendees, mostly boys 7-10, with some younger kids, a few little girls who discovered the box of pink legos, and parents who enjoyed chatting together while their kids constructed creations! We put the finished Lego creations on display - next time I'm going to have paper and writing stuff available so kids can put their name and something about what they built. Yay Legos!

Kitten's Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes

These pictures are cool. There are probably fancier art terms to use, but I feel I've worn out fascinating, so...

The text is very simple - just rhyming quartets of all the different animals eating in the woodland, "Hummingbird sips/Caterpillar munches/Rabbit nibbles/Squirrel crunches." Very suitable for a toddler audience.

But the pictures are just soooo cool! It's mixed media, specifically "self-hardening clay, acrylic paint and mixed-media collage." It all blends together to create a rich and colorful landscape of autumn.

The different animals are exquisitely textured in clay, with various natural objects - leaves, acorns, bark, etc. scattered about the scenes. The paint blends it all together into a gorgeous scenic stroll through the autumn landscape.

Toddlers will enjoy the rich colors and intricate art. They'll especially enjoy playing hide-and-seek with the kitten, finding her hidden in each page. Perfect for an autumn storytime or browsing through with your little one.

Verdict: Highly recommended for your library's picturebook collection! You should also get the earlier volume, Kitten's Spring if you don't have it already. I look forward to finding more books by this ingenious artist.

ISBN: 978-1554533411; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First teen program was a success! Sort of.

I'm planning to have roughly one teen program per month. I tried to form a teen advisory board when I first started working at the library - one teen came, once, forcibly escorted by her mother. Not a success. I tried some teen programs last summer - a Twilight program, teen pizza party, etc. Middling to blah. So, I'm trying again.

I'm doing one teen crafty program and two bookclubs this fall. So far, no one has signed up for the book club *gloomy face*. But I had 7 kids at our teen program this evening. Of course...only one was actually a teen. Basically it was a group of 6 middle schoolers and 5th graders that like to hang out at the library after school. They sometimes get bored and horse around, but mostly they behave and I like them. We had some mixed candy left over from the summer reading program, which was a big draw, and we made Artist Trading Cards - everyone really liked playing with paint. The one teen felt she was too old for most of the kids, but she had finished her homework so she hung out anyways.

Ideally, of course, we'd like to have teens at our programs. But I'm perfectly happy with tweens - I think middle schoolers are fun, if occasionally needing squashing! Which brings me to a related thought....I'm looking forward to seeing how our Read Off Your Fines for Teen Read Week program goes and doing something similar for tweens. It drives me crazy how many of the kids who spend hours at the library every day don't have functional library cards. They forget them (you can check out once with id and then you have to have a library card), they lose them - repeatedly (the cost of replacing a library card increases every time you lose one). They forget to return books and have massive overdue fines, less frequently they lose materials or they get damaged....and no more library card. Of course, this rarely stops them from using the computer. They just trade cards around or "borrow" them from siblings. I have a sneaking suspicion that the ones that really like to read are "borrowing" books without checking them out as well. But it drives me crazy when I have a program and a kid is interested in a book...but can't check it out.

How do you handle this at your library? Suggestions? Solutions?

The Daily Comet: Boy saves earth from giant octopus! by Frank Asch, illustrated by Devin Asch

Hayward Palmer likes facts. Unfortunately, his dad works at The Daily Comet. Hayward knows none of that stuff is real. Elvis sightings? Bigfoot? Aliens? His dad just makes it all up.

Or does he? It takes a giant octopus, aliens in teacups (and saucers, naturally) and a street gimmick with surprising properties to change Hayward's mind...and give him the best school report ever!

This book hilariously blends tabloid headlines, 1950s era, with mischievous pop culture references and black and white art mimicking doctored photographs for a slyly humorous look at a know it all kid who gets a jolt to his preconceptions.

The text is lengthy - it's not really a read-aloud, unless you are able to do it in several sessions. Readers will need to have a little knowledge of classics tabloid stories, like Elvis sightings, Bigfoot, etc.

Verdict: Recommended for collections that serve elementary age students. Not an essential if your picture book collection focuses on read-alouds or younger children.

ISBN: 978-1554532810; Published September 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yay library programs!

I started our children's programming up again today. We're going to have Make it and Take it every Monday at 3:30. Kids age 6 - 12 come and make a craft, then pick a book from the new books I show off to check out. I was so happy (and relieved) that my two regular attendees from last spring showed up again! They're good friends, both in second grade now I think? and had lots of fun with paint and glitter and buttons making artist trading cards. Two new kids came, both boys, also second graders. They lost interest sooner, but had fun anyways. My goal is to average about 10 kids. *crosses fingers*

aaaand I've just realized that I TOTALLY FORGOT to take or send any flyers to the two parochial schools in town. I usually get some attendance from there. Have to fix that tomorrow. As well as writing two grants, second-in-a-row 8am staff meeting, morning shift on the desk, still trying to get my storytime plans just right for Thursday, new preschool visiting schedule (I've never done that before) and evening teen program. To which one teen said she might come.

Nonfiction Monday: Ultimate Trains by Peter McMahon, illustrated by Andy Mora

New train book! Train books are always good - you can never have too many. This one is a little different than your average train nonfiction...

Ultimate Trains is the first in a new series from Kids Can Press called Machines of the Future. It focuses on new designs in trains, specifically maglevs. The book begins with a table of contents, introduction, and safety note, since there are EXPERIMENTS included. After an illustrated timeline from the invention of the wheel to the Canadian Pacific Railway, the book explains steam engines - and gives instructions on how to build your own miniature steam engine, then explains the evolution of diesel and electric engines, the trains most commonly in use today. There's a brief discussion of how trains are environmentally responsible, and then we move right into the main part of the book: trains of the future, magnetic levitation trains, or maglevs. Interesting train facts, experiments, interviews, explanations of how magnets work, and descriptions of maglevs in operation today and possible trains of the future going under the ocean or out to space (shades of Timothy Zahn anyone?) fill the rest of the book, ending with a glossary and index.

I was disappointed that there were limited photographs in the book, which is mostly illustrated digitally (or so it looks to me, I am no expert). I think most kids prefer photographs in their nonfiction and I would have liked to see "real" trains. This book may appeal to serious train fans among younger children, but is best suited for older elementary or middle school kids interested in science and technology. The experiments are clearly written and well-illustrated - some would be suitable for younger children, but most would be better used with older elementary or sixth grade students.

The discussions of future trains, their impact on the environment, and their benefits was interesting and well-written, but I would have liked to see more opposing viewpoints. There's only a brief paragraph on the problems with these high-speed trains, saying that they use most of the trip accelerating and decelerating, require constant computer monitoring, and are vulnerable to wind shear, as well as track being expensive. I would have liked to see more discussions of safety issues (I personally wouldn't want to travel hundreds of miles an hour on something controlled by a computer, considering that we can't even get the internet to work at our library half the time...) and maybe some practical discussions of trains as public transportation. I've lived in a medium-sized city, medium-sized town, and small town, all without owning a car and having to depend on public transportation or my own legs. I have serious reservations about the practicality of public transportation. Anyways, that's a discussion for another time.

Verdict: This is an upbeat, interesting, and well-designed book about contemporary and future trains and transportation. It won't have the wide audience of most train non-fiction, which is usually aimed at preschool or early elementary students, but the topic and presentation should draw interest from older elementary students and some middle school and even high school students interested in science. Recommended.

ISBN: 978-1554533664; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dotty craft ideas and...the winner!!

I got a lot of great book-based, imaginative play ideas inspired by the Dotty blog tour! Here is a list of all the fun suggestions:

I had our first grade classes create "Creatures that ate the Teacher" from the Jack Prelutsky poem.

Ever since we read The Magic Hat by Mem Fox, illustrated by Tricia Tusa, I've wanted to craft our own blue hat similar to the one illustrated in the book. Then we could have it fly from person to person, and using our imaginations, pretend that it changes each wearer into an animal of his/her choice. Or, it would also be fun to have each child make their own "magic hat."

During the crafting and pretend play I'd put on Laurie Berkner's "This Hat" song. The song reminds me a little of Fox's book.

We like Emma Dodd's Dog's Colorful Day--white dog, add spots and blotches. Or Elmer the patchwork elephant.

We're focusing on Pinkalicious this week, so pink cupcakes are way in, plus color mixing - painting pink flowers, counting pink pompoms, etc. And we made a doctor's black bag, too.

We made and decorated our own cookies with friends after reading "If you give a mouse a cookie."

Our best effort, I think, was the Amos and Boris paper on popsicle stick puppets.

After reading Fantastic Beasts (my son's currently obsessed with monsters and mythical creatures), we free handed monsters and dragons with sharpies and then painted with water colors. We also designed the castles they protect!

We read "The Polar Express" when the train is around the tree at Christmas.

Clifford has inspired many creative drawings over the years in our house.

After I read Goldilocks to my preschoolers, I let them act the story out. They can take turns playing different roles.

After reading the book: "Knut" (How one little polar bear captivated the world) we planned a trip to the zoo.

And the winner is.....CLARILINE with her Jack Prelutsky craft! Clariline, please email me your address (jeanlittlelibrary(at)gmail(dot)com) and I'll let Abrams know you're the chosen one for a copy of Dotty!

Binky to the rescue by Ashley Spires

Binky. Is. Back. Yay!! In the first Binky story, we met the intrepid space cat, who valiantly defends his family from aliens (bugs) despite the dangers, including the occasional "poot" of space gas. Now, in his neverending pursuit of aliens, Binky has, *gasp* fallen into outer space! Now Binky is up against the most dangerous alien of all....wasps. Will he survive? More importantly, will everyone make it back safely from...outer space?

There are so many nice things about the Binky series. First, it's very funny in a way that kids of all ages and adults can appreciate it. There's enough subtlety and irony that adults can enjoy it, but not so much that kids feel like it's going over their heads - or talking down to them. Binky has a genuinely original premise, lively narration, and snicker-worthy dialogue. The art isn't too complicated for beginning readers and the text and art perfectly complement each other. The text itself is in a nice block printing that's very accessible for new readers. Finally, it's got a simply lovely binding, a rare thing in a graphic novel.

This series is very popular in my library and I'm thrilled to see a sequel! Long may Binky fight against the aliens and explore outer space!

Verdict: Highly recommended, specifically for beginning and intermediate readers.

ISBN: 978-1554535972; Published September 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Don't touch that toad and other strange things adults tell you by Catherine Rondina, illustrated by Kevin Sylvester

"Meh. Another facty book about how stupid grown ups are. I will just skim it," I said to myself.

One hour later I had read it from beginning to end.

"Yeah, but who actually believes all this stuff anyways?" I said to myself.

Two days later, I realized I had quoted it to three different people, at least twice each.

Yep, we need this one.

With suitably kooky and humorous illustrations, Rondina walks us through Healthy Habits - did you know sugar doesn't make kids hyper? Wet hair has absolutely nothing to do with catching cold? Next up, we have Weird Science. Can you really scare someone to death? Is yawning contagious? How often should you brush your hair? Can a chicken live without its head? Next we have Food Fallacies. Does eating carrots improve your eyesight? Will you really get cramps if you go swimming after eating? Finally, we have Animal Tales, with the ever-popular will a toad give you warts? As well as other burning questions, like Is a dog's mouth cleaner than a human's? Will a falling cat always land on its feet? And Why do lemmings walk off cliffs - or do they? The book ends with a sly list of "Parentisms" just for fun.

This is a perfect book for reluctant readers or kids who like lists of facts, science, or debunking anything (in other words, every eleven-year-old that ever lived). The questions have a funny or silly scenario about the question, then a well-written explanation of whether or not it's true - or if it's unproven either way. This is a great one for school booktalks as well as fact displays or to hand out to your almanac and Guiness book of world record fans.

Verdict: A must-have for libraries serving elementary and middle school kids. Just don't be surprised if you find your young patrons quoting it back to you for the next couple months!

ISBN: 978-1554534548; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne

There are some books that you see all the time on the library shelves, they have a constant circulation, and one day you realize you haven't read a single one. This especially seems to happen to me with juvenile series. I did read some series when I was a child - Encyclopedia Brown, some Boxcar Children, etc. but was never very interested in beginning chapter books after I finished all the easy readers. So, the other day a kid asked for something to read like Magic Tree House. Usually, by the time a kid has gotten to the end of Magic Tree House they've gotten to a higher reading level and want something else to read. If not, I just pass them Canadian Flyer by Frieda Wishinsky. This kid definitely wanted a read-alike and I found myself at a loss. So, I decided to read some.

The first Magic Tree House story, Dinosaurs Before Dark tells how Jack and his younger sister Annie discover a mysterious tree house that transports them through time - back to the dinosaur age! With the help of a friendly dinosaur they manage to escape, learning some interesting facts about dinosaurs along the way as well as picking up a mysterious clue to the owner of the tree house. Fast forward through a couple books, and Dolphins at Daybreak, the tenth adventure, has Jack and Annie off on a mission to the beach at the request of Morgan le Fay, who apparently owns the tree house and is at odds with Merlin. Jack and Annie accidentally turn on the mini submarine they are looking at and take an exciting and scary trip through a coral reef and are rescued from a shark by two dolphins. Zipping way, way ahead to the secondary series, the Merlin Missions (which are a higher reading level), in Night of the New Magicians Jack and Annie are now apparently working for Merlin and have acquired a little magic. They travel to the 1889 Paris World Fair to rescue four "magicians" from an evil wizard. The magicians turn out to be famous inventors and Jack and Annie learn about their inventions and their life philosophies.

So, a nice little sample here. My conclusion...I don't think I would have been much interested in these myself as a child, but I can see the appeal. There's a little magic, a little history, a little adventure, some humor, basically a smorgasbord of plot and genre elements. I found the "lessons", especially in the Merlin Mission, rather obvious but many kids (and adults) like a certain amount of didactism. As far as recommending read-alikes...I'm still at a loss. What do you recommend as a read-alike for Magic Tree House?

Verdict: Undoubtedly, your library already owns them. I'm working on making sure we have 3 copies of each title (the shelf completely emptied out this summer) and replacing the grime-encrusted older copies.

Dinosaurs before dark
ISBN: 978-0375844058; Published May 2008 by Random House; Borrowed from the library

Dolphins at daybreak
ISBN: 978-0679883388; Published April 1997 by Random House; Borrowed from the library

Night of the new magicians
ISBN: 978-0375830358; Published March 2006 by Random House; Borrowed from the library

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Another reason I hate lexiles

They don't match in series. So, I have a girl about eleven who WANTS to read a book. But, she is only "allowed" to read at her lexile level. 1050 to 1200. She read the first book of Linda Buckley-Archer's Gideon trilogy and really liked it...but the second book was too low. So she can't finish the series. Can someone explain to me why J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is 1000, which is of course too low....while Jim Benton's Dear Dumb Diary is 1100+? Only the first one. The second one is in the 990s. Too low. Most books in the 1050-1200 range are nonfiction. But her teacher doesn't want her to read nonfiction - and she really wants to read fantasy anyways. I finally gave her Catherine Called Birdy. At least it's better written than the Sugar Creek Gang (although most of those have a higher lexile level)

This girl wants to read. If you go by the lexiles and Reading Counts tests, she's a good reader. Why should she be restricted by stupid numbers? Why can't she finish a series she's interested in? I guarantee in another year or two, she's not going to be interested in reading anymore. This is why teens don't read.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sons of Liberty by Alexander & Joseph Lagos, illustrated by Steve Walker & Oren Kramek

This is definitely a new concept for a graphic novel.

Two escaped slaves, captured by Benjamin Franklin's degenerate son, are accidentally given amazing powers when he uses them for his horrible experiments. They are then taken in by Benjamin Lay and taught secret arts of warfare.

That's the short version. Along the way we meet a variety of historical and imagined characters, violence, war, and Colonial culture and concerns. There's plenty of action, glowing eyes, horrible deaths, and dramatic confrontations, as well as a hefty mixture of history and fantasy. The art is dark and shadowed, blending superhero comic lines into historical backgrounds.

I think this could be quite popular with both teens and adults - the mixture of history and superhero fantasy is enthralling and I'd like to try displaying this with Lauria Halse Anderson's Chains, and Margaret Blair's Liberty or Death: The surprising story of runaway slaves who sided with the British during the American Revolution. However, there were a lot of wildly waving plot points. Despite the heavy doses of action and violence, this was definitely an origin story and seemed to kind of trail away. I'm not sure if the dark art will draw readers or not.

Verdict: I'll wait to see the second volume before purchasing for my library. Some of the reviews say elementary, but I'd put this in teen because of the violence.

ISBN: 0375856676; Published May 2010 by Random House; Borrowed from the library

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Anna Hibiscus (series) by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia

I've been eagerly awaiting this beginning chapter book series since I saw it mentioned online last year I've forgotten where of course! Sometimes, it seems like all beginning chapter books are the same. Actually, sometimes it seems like all children's books, realistic fiction at least, is the same. Kids' lives center around school, friends, and popularity. They have an argument with a friend, they don't have friends, they're having trouble in school, or they have a dead/divorced parent. Of course, that's what most kids worry about and deal with, so that's what they want to read about. But I'd like to think that some kids are interested in how kids in other cultures live. Those kids - and hopefully even the kids who are obsessed with popularity, media, and stuff - will find Anna Hibiscus intriguing, different, and completely delightful.

Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. We're never told exactly what country, but it's probably coastal Nigeria, since the author grew up in Nigeria and Anna lives near a big city near the coast. Anna lives in a compound with her Canadian mother, African father, and a huge family of cousins, aunts, uncles, and her twin baby brothers, benevolently ruled over by her wise grandparents.
In her first set of adventures, Anna's mother tries to have a family vacation with just her immediate family - and Anna and her mother realize just how much they need all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents! An aunt who has been in America returns home and everyone is worried that she will have forgotten African ways. Anna admires the orange sellers at their gates and disobeys grandfather to go sell oranges - resulting in a painful punishment and a hard lesson. Finally, Anna desperately wants to see snow and works out a way to make her dream come true!
In her second set of adventures, Anna is picked out to sing for a large audience, but it's her twin baby brothers who save the day when she freezes. Tired of all the fuss and painful braiding, Anna decides to opt out of braiding her hair - and learns the hard way that a few hours of pain is worth it! Anna's family tries out a new generator and decides sometimes the old ways are best. Finally, Anna gets her wish to go to the other side of the city but discovers it isn't at all what she had expected.
Anna is an exuberant, sympathetic character. Her very different culture and the poverty that surrounds her middle-class family are clearly portrayed without over-dramatizing issues or confusing explanations. Lauren Tobia's illustrations bring out the humor of the stories and the various characters, helping readers distinguish Anna's big, loving family. Beginning readers will be charmed by this glimpse into a fascinating, warm, exciting, lively world, very different from their own lives. I look forward to introducing our readers to Anna Hibiscus and encouraging them to try something new!

Verdict: Highly recommended! The only drawback is it can be difficult to get Kane Miller's books, especially complete series, through regular vendors. However, these are worth a little digging on Amazon, Book Depository, or ordering direct.

Anna Hibiscus
ISBN: 978-1935279730; Published June 2010 by Kane Miller; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

Hooray for Anna Hibiscus
ISBN: 978-1935279747; Published January 2010 by Kane Miller; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: The Good Garden by Katie Milway & Up We Grow by Deborah Hodges

This Monday I'm looking at two gardening/farm books - with a little more than just how-to-grow or cute-outdoor-crafts going on! Deborah Hodges' Up We Grow is a composite of several different small farms, specifically co-ops, which are practicing sustainable farming. The story is arranged by seasons, from spring to winter. Descriptions of farm life, planting, weeding, caring for livestock, and selling produce are interspersed with information on how sustainable farms care for the land and animals. The text also includes questions for younger children to answer and to spur ideas of small scale farming in your own yard or home. An end note explains how a sustainable farm is defined and gives a little more information about the farms pictured in this book. The photographs mostly feature children interacting in farm life and there are plenty of animals and equipment pictured to interest younger children. This enthusiastic, optimistic nonfiction will be enjoyed by beginning readers and listeners alike and perhaps inspire adults to try a little sustainable farming themselves - or search out their closest farmers' market.

Up We Grow! A Year in the Life of a Small, Local Farm by Deborah Hodges, photographs by Brian Harris

ISBN: 978-1554535613; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates
The Good Garden looks at sustainable farming from a slightly different angle. This story of a fictional family explains the work of Don Elias Sanchez, who taught Honduran farmers how to move beyond subsistence farming and, using sustainable farming, create a better life for their families. The story follows one young girl, Maria Luz Duarte for one year. Their land is worn out and cannot produce enough food to feed the family. When Maria Luz' father has to leave to find a job to support his family, they worry he won't earn enough money - and they'll lose their farm, like many other families. But when school begins, a new teacher arrives. The new teacher helps the children create a school garden using compost, terraces, and natural techniques to fertilize the soil and keep weeds and insects away. Maria Luz tries the new techniques at home and also tries growing a cash crop; radishes. With the teacher's support, Maria Luz' family and others bypass the middleman, Senor Coyote, and take their crops to market themselves. Their families have enough food now - and money for medical supplies and school. The new teacher moves on to teach another school the new ideas, leaving Mariz Luz and her family with more than enough food for the winter; now they have hope for a better future.

An end note explains the life and work of Don Elias Sanchez and what it means to be "food secure" or have a "food crisis". Ideas on how kids can help are included, as well as further information on the topic. Four organizations that work on rural development are spotlighted and there is a brief glossary of Spanish words from the story. The art is lovely and inspiring and the story broken into simple chapters so even smaller children can listen.

This would be an excellent book to use in a classroom or library program to encourage children to contribute as well as think about gardening for their own families. It's long for a read-aloud, but could be broken into sections for a multi-part program or classroom series. This would make a great resource for libraries that have a charity component for their summer reading program, something I hope to incorporate some day in the future!

The Good Garden is part of Kids Can Press' CitizenKid series, which simplifies global issues for elementary age children and gives them concrete things they can do to help, without making the issues scary or overwhelming. More resource materials specifically for teachers are available at More information on getting involved in rural development is available at or

The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault

ISBN: 978-1554534883; Published September 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blog Tour! Dotty by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Julia Denos

Welcome to the Dotty Blog Tour! To start us off, here is Erica Perl's own take on her new book, Dotty:
"A girl named Ida walks to school with Dotty, her big, spotted, extremely loyal imaginary friend. At school, she meets her teacher, Ms. Raymond, her classmates, and several of their imaginary friends! But as the year goes on, the imaginary friends start to disappear… all except Dotty, who has no intention of going anywhere. This leads to teasing and trouble on the playground, and a surprise ending. Let’s just say that Ms. Raymond may be an even more perceptive and creative teacher than Ida ever could have imagined."

I love this book in so many ways. First, the imagination and creativity of Dotty and her new friends is so beautifully expressed in Erica Perl's prose and then poured out over the pages in Julia Denos' gorgeous art. But I really love this story's soooo realistic. Um...realistic, you say? It's about a giant, spotted, imaginary friend! Yes. If you've ever worked with a bunch of kindergarteners (or any other grade for that matter) you will have observed how kids mature at different rates. Dotty is the perfect expression of a child who, while eager to try new things and experiences, doesn't want to leave behind all the things her peers have decided they've outgrown. It's a gorgeous, exuberant celebration of imagination and making your own choices. Ida's teacher is the ideal - she's firm that Ida (and Dotty) have to behave with the other children, but she's also supportive, in a delightful and surprising way, of Ida's imagination.

And speaking of imagination...Erica Perl has given us a wonderful series of ideas for using Dotty in some fun projects and storytimes!

"Since Dotty is about the enduring power of imagination (for kids and adults!), my topic today is imaginative play. I’m thrilled to discuss this because I am all about imagination AND using books as a jumping off point for imaginative play. First of all, one book I would suggest pairing Dotty with for storytime is Beatrice Schenk de Regniers’ May I Bring a Friend. I say this because it shares two things with Dotty: the suggestion of the unbelievable (bringing zoo animals to the palace is not so far off from bringing a giant horned beast to school) and the willingness of the adults involved to show their own imaginative sides. I also love May I Bring a Friend, so there’s that, too.

Imaginary friend game – May I Bring a Friend?
Supplies: one 3-foot-long string (a jump rope will work, too)
one crown/chair (“throne”)
Explain that you are the queen (or king, as the case might be) and you are giving a party. Give the first child the string (explain that this should be held at the end and NOT tied on anyone or anything) and tell him/her to choose a friend to hold the other end. Then, invite the pair to approach your throne. Tell the first child to ask “May I bring a friend?” Your response: “Tell me about your friend.” The child then needs to describe his friend either using real details like “His name is Jason and he has a brown shirt on” or pretend details, like “She’s Dotty and she has big horns and spots.” The friend should do his/her best to pretend to be what s/he is being described as. Quiz them for more detail (and, if you like, ham it up) but regardless of the answers, your response will ultimately be the refrain from May I Bring a Friend: “My dear, my dear, any friend of our friend is welcome here!” Then, as this pair joins you by your throne, have them pass the string to two more children. Repeat and encourage the kids who have “passed” to join the refrain. Once every pair has joined the party, cheer and move the party on to crafts!

DOTTY craft (so kids can make their own Dotty on a blue ribbon leash, or an imaginary creature of their own design)
Time: 10 - 15 minutes
Age: 2 and up
Supplies: paper plates (to form Dotty’s body - although it can be trimmed to more closely mimic her actual silhouette - and form a rigid base for glue and trimmings)
construction paper ribbon (ideally blue), 6-8” per child
wiggly eyes (optional)
jewels, cotton balls, and other fun trimmings
tape and/or glue
scissors for little hands
crayons and markers (extra fun with Do-a-Dot markers, to stay with the “Dotty” theme)
Prep: Cut strips of ribbon that are 6-8 inches long. Cut construction paper into shapes (triangles for Dotty’s horns, elongated rectangles for her legs, circles for her spots, etc.), leaving some construction paper and scissors out for kids who want to make their own shapes
Craft: Give each child a piece of blue ribbon (for those three and under, help make sure the ribbon ends up glued to the paper plate, not eaten!) to glue or tape to the paper plate as a leash. The paper plate “creatures” can then be accessorized with dots, eyes, horns and other shapes to make Dotty or an imaginary friend of the child’s own design.

Display Potential: You can make a great bulletin board out of the craft project because you can use an image of the book’s cover as the centerpiece and then have all of the ribbons leading out from it (like a giant sunburst) to each of the creatures the kids created). Slogan can be WE’RE DOTTY FOR BOOKS… AND FRIENDS! Or something like that…"

Erica's Dotty craft idea would also work for older kids as well - I've used picture books with strong imaginative themes in my tween Make it and Take it programs before. Last year, we used Jackie Morris' Tell Me a Dragon and created our own dragon art. This year, we're going to be making our own Chester stories, ala Melanie Watt. I can definitely see Dotty in our's the perfect vehicle for the paper mache craft I've been wanting to do! I'll make it a two-part program - the first Monday, we'll make our shapes, then the next Monday when they've dried it will be decoration time...and we'll have our own Dottys! Look for cool pictures on the library blog this spring!

What imaginative, book-related crafts can you think of? Abrams is going to give away one copy of Dotty and I have decided to make it a contest-ish. Post a comment with your own book-related, imaginative play craft and I'll choose one lucky winner!

Thanks to Erica Perl for her great ideas and to Abrams for sponsoring our giveaway. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the Dotty blog tour:

8/30 The Happy Nappy Bookseller
9/1 Alison’s Book Marks
9/2 A Patchwork of Books
9/4 Pragmatic Mom
9/7 Links to Literacy
9/8 The Book Bag Blog
9/9 The Hiding Spot
9/10 Bookmark, The First Book Blog

Oh, just realized I should put an end date on the giveaway....let's say...September 11th, so you have time to visit all Dotty's stops!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crushing the dreams part 7 THE END

Yay! Just young adult to go. Of course, then I get to tackle...the missing list. The 96-page missing list (ok, so a lot of it's adult. It still HURTS). What can we dump from the ya wishlist? I've already cleared out tons and tons of stuff...let's see what's left that can be cut:
  • Morganville Vampires (I get occasional requests, but I get occasional request for EVERY vampire series. This one has to be bought from Amazon for some reason, and it's just too much work)
  • Getting revenge on Lauren Wood (I don't like yellow covers. At this point, I'm being weirdly picky)
  • Once upon a time series (popular, but not that popular)
  • Ranger's Apprentice - unless many people ask for it
  • Belle of the brawl, Monster High - I'm not buying any more Lisi Harrison unless someone specifically asks for it
  • Good behavior by Nathan Henry
  • Planet pregnancy by Linda High
  • I thought about a Kimani Tru series, but nobody has ever asked me for them
  • Pretty little liars - no more series!
  • Birth of a killer by Darren Shan (Cirque isn't really that popular)
  • Shadows of the redwood by gillian summers (i have to cut SOME paranormal series SOMEWHERE)
  • Immortal beloved by Cate Tiernan
  • Brilliant by Rachel Vail (nobody noticed I forgot to buy the conclusion to the trilogy)
  • Num8ers by Rachel Ward (I am cutting the paranormal ruthlessly)
  • Matter of magic by Patricia Wrede (sniff)
  • Frontier Magic by Patricia Wrede (sniff sniff. I will buy copies for myself. We have the first, but it just wasn't popular enough)
  • I shall wear midnight (please don't kill me! my teens just aren't that into plain fantasy. seriously)
  • Elkeles' Paradise duo
  • Mockingjay (no, no we have one! I'm just not getting a second copy right now. maybe later)
  • bright young things by godbersen (pleeeease no more series)
  • demon's lexicon (i can't stand either of the covers. wack. there goes another paranormal)
  • exile of gigi lane (a patron asked for this, but i don't think anybody else is interested)
  • going too far by echols
  • pegasus by mckinley (i know, i know. my library neighbor is getting it)
  • ring of solomon (bartimaeus isn't really that popular here)
  • tell us we're home by budhos
  • you by benoit
  • bruiser by shusterman
Saved for next year:
  • Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser
  • Blank confession by Pete Hautman
  • Wicked series by Nancy Holder
  • Hunger by Jackie Kessler (am I the only person who think the description of this new series (gag) is hilarious? probably yes)
  • Hold me closer necromancer by Lish Macbride (i like the title)
  • Shadow Kiss and Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  • Thirst no. 2 & 3 by Christopher Pike
  • Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
  • Busted by John Antony (wait for pb)
  • three black swans by cooney
  • vampireville by schreiber (wait for pb)
Possibles being published in 2011:
  • Drought by Pam Bachorz (someone just stole Candor, so she's popular right?)
  • Red Glove by Holly Black (not sure if this series is going to be popular or not)
  • Sapphique by Catherine Fisher (I am SO SICK of sequels)
  • Cloaked by Alex Flinn
  • Plague by Michael Grant
  • Afterlife by Claudia Gray
  • Tale of two pretties (clique)
  • Real live boyfriends by E. Lockhart
  • Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
  • Cryer's cross by Lisa McMann
  • Last sacrifice by Richelle Mead
  • Recruit by Robert Muchamore
  • Kick by Walter Dean Myers
  • Speechless by Lauren Myracle
  • Angel by James Patterson
  • Once in a full moon by Ellen Schreiber (groan. another paranormal series)
  • Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight
  • Deadly little games by Laurie Stolarz
  • Invisible girl by Mary Stone
Phwa. Now just the YA gns. I'm mostly concerned next year with filling in manga collections and replacing our Star Wars with hardcovers. So this is what I'm dumping:
  • Baron the cat returns (I can't figure out if there's more of this or not)
  • Cat burglar black (it needed a sequel)
  • Clique the graphic novel
  • Crogan - the first one wasn't as popular as I'd hoped
  • No more Essential Marvel volumes. Some of the ones I have circ. and some don't. I'm going to get something else instead. Probably more Star Wars
  • Flower in a storm (too weird)
  • Foiled by Yolen
  • Shakespeare by Gareth Hinds
  • Pinocchio vampire slayer
  • Professor's daughter
  • Sons of liberty (might buy later if i like the sequel
  • Spell Checkers (I hated this one. look for a nasty review later this year)
  • Undertown by Pascoe (library teen asked for this, but it keeps going out of availability)
  • Silverfin - young bond (I decided not, although I really liked it. The prose books aren't too popular)
  • Girl Genius (it drives me nuts that we don't have this whole series. But every time I try to order it, it takes months to come or it never does. I am just letting it go. In 2012, I will buy the whole thing direct from the Foglio's website and be done)
This is what I plan to fill in and add for new next year, that I could have bought this year if I'd had the money:
  • I'm going to add Black Butler 1-4
  • Boys over flowers 1-5 (I have several volumes in the 30s. please do not ask me why)
  • Continue Cirque du Freak - it's very popular and there will be more in 2011
  • High School Debut 1-4 (I have volume 5. )
  • Library Wars 1-3
  • Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness and Dead Days
  • Miki Falls
  • Odyssey by Gareth Hinds
  • Oh My Goddess 2-6 (I have 1, 7-9, and 12)
  • Continue Rosario+Vampire (even if they keep stealing it)
  • Runaways volume 2-5 (I have volume 1)
  • Continue Star Wars Legacy
  • Add Vampire Knight 1-5
  • Yu gi oh 1-6 (I have volume 7)
Done! Done! Now I just have to go through the all the missing stuff and decide what to replace (theoretically, since I have no replacement money left) and what to leave. And the AV. And finish planning the storytimes. And put together the tween crafts. And write the Facebook event posts. How can I have so much left to do when I haven't had any programs all August?

Crushing the dreams part 6

Now the nonfiction. I have to save most of my nonfiction budget for the many, many sets I plan to buy in January. Bearport is my publisher of choice. Never buy anything from Child's World. I bought a $20, library bound book from them in July and the binding is already disintegrating. Blah. Anyways, let's see what we can clear off the lists:
  • Ripleys Believe It Or Not! :--Enter If You Dare (someone stole our Ripleys book. I can't find an exact replacement for it and I'm feeling disgruntled about buying stuff so people can just STEAL IT)
  • Fairy tales - I'm not buying any fairy tales next year, I don't think. Except for Greban's Snow White. I want that one. 
  • Field guide to aliens by Olander
  • Name that dog by Peggy Archer (I'm still not buying poetry)
  • This is rocket science by Gloria Skurzynski
  • Junkyard science by Karen Young
  • Hive detectives, Extreme Scientists, Bat Scientists (I love Scientists in the Field, but I gotta buy sports series)
  • Weird but true: 300 outrageous facts (nat'l geo)
  • Truce by Jim Murphy. My library kids just aren't interested in history much.
  • Wild Swans (Why did they have to update it with a PINK cover?)
  • Eyewitness Bird (just bought a huge bird series)
  • Eyewitness Vote (I'm never gonna actually buy this)
  • Free Spirit Laugh and Learn (I got a couple for Tough Topics, but I don't think I want anymore right now or next year)
  • Real Vikings by Melvin Burger (I liked it, but will the kids read it?)
  • You can draw Transformers (found another drawing series I like better)
  • Goal! by Mark Stewart (I have a different sports series in mind)
Stuff I ran out of money for and will get next year (I'm on a different computer now, which formats things differently. Why yes, that does DRIVE ME INSANE):
  • Face to face National Geographic series - I need penguins, sharks, and several others.
  • National Geographic Kids The Ultimate Dinopedia :--Your Illustrated Reference To Every Dinosaur Ever Discovered (somebody STOLE the last dinosaur encyclopedia I bought. I am SO MAD. It was only a few months old!)
  • Bones :--Skeletons And How They Work by Steve Jenkins
  • Bug Zoo by Nick Baker
  • Iron Man: The ultimate guide
  • Sometimes it's grandmas and grandpas by Gayle Byrne (for our tough topics collection)
  • I'm getting a checkup by Marilyn Singer (also for tough topics)
  • Ancient Aztec (we have most of this nat'l geo series and it goes out whenever I put it on display)
  • Maybe a few fairy tales. Greban's Snow White, Craft's Twelve Dancing Princesses, Mayer's Baba Yaga and Vasilisa, and Ehrlich's Snow Queen. Oh, and maybe Bernadine's Rumpelstiltskin
  • All new crafts for mother's day and father's day by Kathy Ross (I personally think holiday-specific craft books are kinda blech, but I don't really like holidays. People asked for this, but I wasn't able to get it in time for the actual holidays)
  • Our countries first ladies by Ann Bausum (multiple biographies at one blow)
  • Eyewitness Titanic (you can never have too many Titanic books)
  • Garbage helps our garden grow (maybe. I hate spending $20 on these library bound nonfiction for little kids. They don't seem worth it. The books I mean)
That leaves me pretty clear for all the series we'll need next year. I'm thinking sports series and some more scary places, maybe a few more animal series...we'll see. At some point I am going to have to do something about the biography section. If I wait another 5-10 years I can just torch the entire shelf and start over...

Crushing the dreams part 5

The juvenile graphic novels *rubs hands*. This is a fairly small list and so will be a fairly happy list, unlike the angst and bleeding eyeballs that went into juvenile fiction. There's only a few things I've decided we're not going to get:
  • Avatar the last airbender - we don't seem to have much interest here
  • There's A Princess In The Palace by Zoe Alley - we have Wolf, but it doesn't check out much. Too big.
  • Grampa And Julie.--Shark Hunters by Czekaj, Jef
  • Polo - I would like to get these, but the couple we have just don't circulate much. Maybe someday when I move them from picturebooks to graphic novels, to be with Owly
  • City Of Spies by Susan Kim
  • Mouse Guard
  • Complete Peanuts - I think this would be stolen and it's kinda big and unwieldy for kids
  • Little Lulu - every time I order these, they become unavailable. I give up.
  • Twin Spica - meh, not as interesting as I thought it might be
  • Boxcar Children - if they ever sell these as a collection, I'll get it. But the paperbacks are very short and flimsy and the library bound copies are ridiculously expensive
Now that I have a good idea of what kids like, what holds up, etc. I am buying a lot more in hardcover. These are the series I'm adding to in 2011, hopefully in hardcover!
  • Adventures of Tintin volume 2 and 3. For some reason, volume 2 isn't available on my vendor, I'll have to get it from Amazon.
  • Wallace and Gromit. I'm really going to get these this time! I've been waffling, but somebody just stole all my W&G movies, so they're popular, right?
  • Wizards of Mickey volume 1 and 2 (and maybe 3, I think it comes out in hardback next year)
  • Wall-E: Out There
  • Trickster: Native American Tales (I wish this was available in library bound, b/c the paperback looks very poorly bound to me, but I think it's worth getting anyways)
  • Disney Fairies - I'm getting four volumes of the gns in trade hardcover
  • Asterix Omnibus volume 2 and volume 10 (I know, I know, but these are better value. They'll probably go out of print by the time I go to order them next year and I'l have to buy the individual ones anyways.)
  • Fairy Idol Kanon
  • Johnny Boo - volumes 1 and 2
  • Flight Explorer - paperback
  • Nancy Drew Girl Detective - first 5 in paperback.
  • World of Cars: Radiator Springs, The Rookie
  • Marvelous Land of Oz - I am so excited that they aren't stopping with Wizard of Oz! I hope they keep going through the whole Famous Forty...
  • Graphic Dinosaurs - I need about 5 more in this series
  • Filling in Dragon Ball Z through 10 (I have number 1, 4, and 19. Don't ask me why)
  • Thunder from the sea by Jeff Weigel
  • Swans in Space
This doesn't count the Star Wars series. There are always Star Wars series. I usually buy a bunch of library bound series from ABDO's Spotlight imprint in January as well.

Crushing the dreams part 2

We now turn the knife upon the easy reader lists. Hacking out:

  • Ant And Honey Bee :--A Pair Of Friends At Halloween by Megan McDonald
  • Annie and Snowball (we have some, but I was thinking of filling in the series) by Cynthia Rylant
  • Disney Fairies step into reading - I bought Rainbow Magic easy readers instead. Better bindings.
  • Best Friends :--The True Story Of Owen And Mzee by Roberta Edwards
  • Serengeti Journey :--On Safari In Africa by Gare Thompson
  • Underground Towns, Treetops, And Other Animal Hiding Places by Monica Halpern
  • Weedy Sea Dragons, Spitting Cobras, And Other Wild And Amazing Animals by Robyn O'Sullivan (Nat'l Geographic easy readers are just too expensive)
I have two easy readers on my list for next year - Ducks in a row by Jackie Urbanovic and Splat the cat sings flat by Rob Scotton

Easy readers don't seem to engender quite the fanaticism of picture books or young adult. I'm hoping to get more nonfiction next year - what are your favorite easy readers?

Crushing the dreams of authors everywhere; or, cleaning off my collection development lists

This is how my collection development works. First, you have to bear in mind that I am SERIOUSLY OBSESSED with col. dev. One of my little dreams is to someday be the collection development librarian for a huge system and spend my days doing nothing but buying children's and young adult materials. Ahhhh. I spend my evenings perusing blogs and reviews, carry lists of starred materials with me everywhere, and reference my copious order lists at least once a week, if not more often.

So, how it works. I use BWI, which is an excellent vendor with strong customer service and they let you make as many lists/carts as you want! I have a list each for board books, picture books, easy readers, juvenile series, juvenile fiction, juvenile graphic novels, juvenile nonfiction, young adult fiction, young adult graphic novels, young adult nonfiction, and replacements. Whenever I see something I want, I put it on one of these lists. Then I have actual order lists, labeled by month, September 2010, etc. Then I have wishlists for each genre. And lists of series that need to be filled in. You get the picture?

So, at some point in the year, I have to clean out the wishlists. I can't start my new year of lovely col. dev. with over a yearly budget's worth of items in the wishlists. So I have to *sniff* clean them out. I'm doing it a little earlier this year, because I have spent every cent of my money, except the stuff on my September, October, and November/December order lists.

Of course, we're not counting stuff that's being published in 2011 which is already on the order lists. Anyhow, the moment has arrived when I decide which books get to shimmy onto the potential order lists for next year and which books we wave a fond farewell to as we release them into the mists of no-budget-left-alas. In other words, I'm now going to stare at the computer screen until my eyes bleed and my brain ferments.

Board books we said goodbye to. Maybe we just lost the spark. Maybe we see something shinier. Maybe someday we'll come upon these again and realize what treasures we lost...but for now, goodbye to:

  • Ladybug Girl dresses up by Jackie Davis
  • Skippyjon Jones (series)
  • Baby Animal Families by Gyo Fujikawa
  • Animals go and Animals talk by Emily Bolam
  • Bear at home by Stella Blackstone
  • Counting by Emily Bolam
  • Eat - Blue apple books
  • Little kitty & little puppy by Jane Feder
  • You are my I love you by Maryann Love
  • Sheep In A Shop by Nancy Shaw
  • I Can Eat A Rainbow :--A Fun Look At Healthy Fruits And Vegetables by Annabel Karmel
  • Signing Smart :--My First Signs by Michelle Anthony
I didn't keep anything on the lists for next year.
Picture books. I love, love, love picture books. It makes me sad to see some of them go. Almost all of these I read and liked. Many of them I reviewed. But some must go so that others may stay and so goodbye to:
  • Brand-New Baby Blues by Kathi Appelt
  • The Eraserheads by Kate Banks
  • Miss Brooks Loves Books! (And I Don't) by Barbara Bottner
  • Snowmen All Year by Carolyn Buehner
  • One Pup's Up by Marsha Chall
  • Beach & Farm by Elisha Cooper
  • Hattie The Bad by Jane Devlin
  • Pet shop lullaby by Mary Fraser
  • There's Going To Be A Baby by John Burningham
  • Clarice Bean, What Planet Are You From? by Lauren Child
  • Magic Box :--A Magical Story by Katie Cleminson
  • Alfie Runs Away by Kenneth Cadow
  • Henry & The Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi
  • While The World Is Sleeping by Pamela Edwards
  • My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall
  • Cupcake :--A Journey To Special by Charise Harper
  • Hooray (series) by Kazuo Iwamura
  • Mirror by Suzy Lee
  • Bridget's Beret by Tom Lichtenheld
  • Alphabet books by Jerry Pallotta (we own several, I was thinking of filling in the series)
  • It's a book by Lane Smith
  • Quiet book by Deborah Underwood
  • Otis & Sydney And The Best Birthday Ever by Laura Numeroff
  • Mazeways :--A To Z by Roxie Munro
  • Red Ted And The Lost Things by Michael Rosen
  • The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez
  • Outfoxing The Fox by Friederike Rave
  • The Tyrannosaurus Game by Steven Kroll
  • The Monster Who Ate My Peas by Danny Schnitzlein
  • Brother Eagle, Sister Sky :--A Message From Chief Seattle illustrated by Susan Jeffers (this was a replacement for a damaged copy)
  • Dog And Bear :--Three To Get Ready by Laura Seeger
  • May There Always Be Sunshine :--A Traditional Song by Jim Gill
  • Soup Opera by Jim Gill (I've been meaning to get these since he visited us last year. Never have)
  • On A Windy Night by Nancy Day
  • Dark Night by Dorothee De Monfreid
  • Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia
  • The Bear With Sticky Paws by Clara Vulliamy
  • Doctor & Firefighter Ted by Andrea Beaty
  • Panda & Polar Bear by Matthew Baek
  • The Secret Knowledge Of Grown-Ups by David Wisniewski
  • Little Rabbit And The Meanest Mother On Earth by Kate Klise
  • Mermaid Dance by Marjorie Hakala
  • Quackenstein Hatches A Family by Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta
  • Butterfly birthday by Harriet Ziefert
  • Bats At The Ballgame by Brian Lies
  • Chicken dance by Tammi Sauer
Picture books that stayed on the list for next year - the few, the brave, the surivors:
  • 1 2 3 :--A Child's First Counting Book by Alison Jay
  • Feeding The Sheep by Leda Schubert
  • Red, Green, Blue: A First Book Of Colors by Alison Jay
  • Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson
  • Wonder bear by Nyeu, Tao
Picture books I want to see before deciding and if I decide yes will buy in 2011:
  • Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
  • Counting Goats by Mem Fox (illustrated by Jan Thomas)
  • Everything But The Horse by Holly Hobbie
  • Mad At Mommy by Sakai, Komako
  • Sneaky Sheep by Chris Monroe (why no more Monkey with a toolbelt?)
  • Two Dumb Ducks by Maxwell Eaton (and why no more Pinky and Max?)
Picture books being published in 2011 I will probably buy and so they're on the list:
  • Blue chameleon by Emily Gravett
  • Bring On Birds by Susan Stockdale
  • Froggy Goes To Hawaii by Jonathan London
  • Ladybug Girl And The Bug Squad Playdate by David Soman
  • Little white rabbit by Kevin Henkes
  • Mom: An Owner's Manual by Doreen Cronin
  • Silverlicious by Victoria Kann
  • Tallulah's Tutu by Marilyn Singer
  • Those Darn Squirrels And The Cat Next Door by Adam Rubin
  • What's in the egg, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson
  • You're finally here! by Melanie Watt
So...leave your horrified comments below. Argue for your favorites. Make a last-ditch stand for your beloved books. I have exactly 3.73 of my board book budget and 5.34 of my picture book budget left, so anything I add kicks something else off.

Crushing the dreams part 4

Juvenile fiction is HARD. I have a tendency to buy too much middle grade fantasy and not enough contemporary lit. But I don't feel the need to buy a lot of the starred review stuff - my library kids aren't generally interested in historical fiction etc. I can barely get One Crazy Summer to circulate! So. Here they go, sliding down the chute. Another library will get them perhaps, but not I:
  • Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
  • The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Ghost dog secrets by Peg Kehret
  • Ivy + Bean (I still want this series, but I don't feel my budget can handle buying THE ENTIRE THING)
  • Land of Elyon (We had a couple, one got stolen, they're not that popular anymore)
  • I'm not buying any more Judy Moody
  • No more sequels in the Simon Bloom series
  • Jenny Linsky/Cat Club series
  • Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker
  • House of dolls by Francesca Lia Block
  • Final cut by Fred Bowen
  • War games by Couloumbis, Audrey
  • Midnight curse by L. Falcone
  • The Truth About Horses, Friends, & My Life As A Coward by Sarah Gibson
  • Theodore Boone :--Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
  • Unearthly Asylum by Bracegirdle
  • Phineas L. Macguire (nobody looks at this one other than to say the kid looks like Harry Potter. won't buy the sequels. phooey)
  • The Little Bookroom :--Eleanor Farjeon's Short Stories For Children Chosen By Herself
  • Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer (maybe if it had a better cover...)
  • The Bear That Wasn't by Frank Tashlin (I was looking at the New York Review Collection)
  • Kid vs. Squid by Van Eekhout, Greg
  • Middleworld by Voelkel, Jon
  • Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh
  • Mysterious Howling by MaryRose Wood
  • Bobby Vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee
  • Misty Gordon And The Mystery Of The Ghost Pirates by Kim Kennedy
  • Princess And The Goblin by George McDonald
  • Word After Word After Word by Maclachlan, Patricia
  • Fantastic Secret Of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor
  • Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
  • No Such Thing As Dragons by Philip Reeve
  • Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry
  • Adventures of Benny by Steve Shreve
  • Familiars by Epstein
  • Framed by Gordan Korman (i'd like to get some of his other series)
  • Boom!, Or, (70,000 Light Years) by Mark Haddon (I loved it soo much. But that cover...)
  • As Simple As It Seems by Sarah Weeks
  • Bull rider by Williams, Suzanne
  • Countdown by Deborah Wiles
  • Otherworldlies by Jennifer Kogler
  • Turtle In Paradise by Jennifer Holm
Juvenile series-that-aren't-real-series because they're in juvenile fiction and which I still plan to fill in next year and sequels we didn't manage to get this year but I really, really promise we'll get in 2011 and survivors from the wishlist which managed to scrape onto next year's list:
  • How to train your dragon (only need 2 more volumes!)
  • Warriors (there are also more of these. every time I think I've bought them all another one appears)
  • Pendragon by MacHale (we're missing two)
  • Charlie Bone (we're only missing one)
  • Sisters Grimm (need 4 - but kids keep asking for this one)
  • Wild Times At The Bed & Biscuit by Joan Carris
  • Dragon Codices (we only have one, but it's been quite popular and these are very affordable)
  • E. Nesbit - going to get her classics from the New York Review collection
  • The Reinvention Of Moxie Roosevelt by Elizabeth Kimmel
  • Abigail Iris by Lisa Glatt
  • Mistress Masham's Repose by T. H. White
  • Comet In Moominland by Tove Jansson
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  • Worry week by Lindbergh, Anne
  • Batboy and Hero by Lupica
  • Archvillain by Barry Lyga
  • Prince among frogs
  • Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay
  • Palace Beautiful by Sarah Williams (I'm waiting for the paperback)
Juvenile fiction I want to look at when it's pub'd this fall and if it's good will buy next year:
  • The dead boys by Buckingham, Royce
  • Secret Life Of Ms. Finkleman by Ben Winters
  • The Ghost Of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Hahn
  • War horse by Morpurgo, Michael
  • Magnificent 12 by Michael Grant (the next 39 clues?)
  • Search for Wondla by DiTerlizzi
  • Girls' Best Friend by Leslie Margolis
Juvenile fiction being pub'd in 2011 which I will probably buy:
  • Ten by Lauren Myracle
  • Spaceheadz : Book #2! by Jon Scieszka
  • Maybelle At The Fair by Katie Speck
  • Dragonbreath: Lair Of The Bat Monster by Ursula Vernon
Argue for your favorites? Think something should have been saved for next year's list? Let me know!