Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Anderson's YA Lit Con

Oh, Anderson's Bookshop.  The things you do to me.  I was all set to skip this year's YA Lit Conference because I'll be in Chicagoland the weekend before for a bunch of festivities related to a friend's wedding.  And then you sent me this:

It's kind of dark, but you can see that David Levithan and John Green are going to be there, right?  And, honestly, if it was just John, I might have still skipped it.  Not because I don't love him (I do), but because I get many more opportunities to see him now that he has moved to Indy.  But David Levithan?!  YES, PLEASE.  He's on my list of Authors I Really Want to See Someday.

And, apparently, someday is Saturday, September 25. :)

There will be other authors there that I am very excited about: Dana Reinhardt, Kenneth Oppel, Simone Elkeles, Kody Keplinger, and more.

I registered this morning and I'm aiming to convince as many of my buddies as I can to register also.  I've been to the YA Lit Con before and had a great time.  It's a great chance to hear authors speak.  So, who's with me?!

Livvie Owen Lived Here

Livvie Owen Lived Here by Sarah Dooley.  (Grades 6-9.) Feiwel & Friends, August 2010.  240 pages.  Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.

All Livvie wants is to go back to when things were good. Back when the whistle blew on the paper mill every day at 6 o'clock and they lived in the warm, yellow house and Orange Cat was still alive. But the paper mill's closed and if she can't keep her outbursts under control, her family's going to be evicted again. It's not easy for anyone to deal with change and for Livvie it's a particular struggle because she has autism. But Livvie can't go back, so she's going to have to find a way to move forward. 

Ms. Dooley puts the reader right into Livvie's thoughts, which is definitely an interesting experience since Livvie sees the world a little differently than your typical narrator.  Her heart is definitely in the right place - all she wants is for her family to be happy - but she's still working on controlling the pressure that builds up inside her and things often don't turn out the way she hopes. 

We're seeing more and more books with autistic narrators on the YA shelves, but one thing that makes Livvie stand out is the fact that her family is blue collar.  There was a conversation amongst the KidLitosphere folks about class in YA/children's lit awhile ago, so I'm always on the look out for books that feature protagonists that aren't upper-middle-class.  The Owens have rented various apartments over the years, often evicted because of Livvie's tantrums and behavior, no matter how hard Livvie tried to keep her cool.  Moving around to different apartments, parents that are unemployed or underemployed - these are problems that all kids today (with or without autism) have to deal with. It's really nice to see that reflected in this book. 

This is a thoughtful story with a lot of heart and Livvie will stick with readers for a long time.  I'd try this one on kids who enjoyed The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson or Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal for books about kids in lower socioeconomic environments.  I'd also try it on kids who enjoy stories about kids with autism spectrum disorders a la Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. 

Check out this post that author Sarah Dooley made on the MacKids blog.  Doing NaNoWriMo with her class of high schoolers with special needs inspired her to write this story! 

Livvie Owen Lived Here is on shelves now! 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In My Mailbox #45

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren.

This week I didn't get anything for review, but on Tuesday, I did get my shiny, blue copy of... Mockingjay!

And yes, I've read it, but I'm not going to post about it yet out of respect for those of you haven't read it yet.  I will say that it is very impressive and it's taken me a few days to process it.

That was a very, very exciting mailbox day. :)  How about you?  Anything exciting in your mailbox?

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Dream of YA Authors

Last night, I dreamed that Ned Vizzini came to my home to film a promo for his upcoming book Fat Vampire (which is actually written by Adam Rex, but in my dream was written by Ned Vizzini*).  Apparently he was going around the country, visiting random people and using them in his promos.  For some reason, though, he left before we were through or something and I chased after him to his van.

Lo and behold, he was traveling with John Green and I leaned in the window and explained that I was a blogger and I already had a tag on my blog called "my undying love for John Green" and I would make a tag for Vizzini.  The tag would either be "Ned Vizzini is an ass" or "Ned Vizzini is a dreamboat", depending on whether or not he decided to stay and finish the promo.  And then I woke up before he could choose.

So, Ned, if you're reading this, what'll it be?

*Ned Vizzini wrote the book It's Kind of a Funny Story, which I enjoyed when I read it in grad school.  It's been turned into a movie and I saw the trailer the other day when my brother and I saw Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.  Check it out:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

When the Stars Go Blue

When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer. (Grades 9 and up.) St. Martin's Griffin, November 2010.  336 pages.  Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.

All Soledad has ever wanted to do was be a dancer and now that she's graduating from a top performing arts school in Miami, she plans to head to New York for auditions... until Jonathan steps into her life and gives her an offer that will change everything. 

Jonathan is a lead trumpet player in a competitive horn and drum corps and they're performing music from Carmen this summer. They need a talented dancer to play the role of Carmen and he's basically offering the part to Soledad. It's something she'd never considered doing, but once she sees the corps perform, she's hooked. As she performs with the corps, and falls head over heels for Jonathan, Soledad has some choices to make about her future. Choices that are complicated by the arrival of Taz, a sensual soccer star from Spain whom Soledad just can't get out of her head. 

The rich descriptions of Soledad's dancing are what first drew me in to the book. Her blazing romance with Jonathan got me hooked. And then curiosity about how this retelling of Carmen would play out kept me going through the rest.

Okay, so when I started this book, I really had no idea what happened in Carmen.  So, I looked it up.  I'd highly recommend you read a summary of the opera before you read this book (if you're not already familiar with it).  The story is fine without knowing about Carmen, but it adds a whole new level and I think it's really well done.  

I love Ms. Ferrer's use of Spanish language in the book.  It feels true to the characters and adds to the feel of the book.  They're not constantly repeating themselves in English, but non-Spanish speakers can still easily figure out the meanings of the Spanish phrases.  This is how it's done!  The lush writing helps bring Soledad's dancing and the performances of the corps to life.  I'd love to see this book as a movie because I think that the music and dancing would be fabulous! 

Though there were a couple of parts that dragged a bit for me, overall this was a fantastic read. I'd definitely recommend it to fans of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles or anyone who loves watching dance movies (Center Stage, anyone?) as much as I do.

Actually, let's look at a little bit of Center Stage right now, shall we? 


When the Stars Go Blue will be on shelves November 23.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Conference and a Read!Fail

First of all, any Indiana children's or YA librarians going to CYPD on Sunday and/or Monday?  I will be there!  Come say hi!  Let's hang out!

And now, a confession: I didn't finish my own Summer Reading Challenge.  That's right!  I am a non-completer!  I get no prizes!!  Oh, well.

My challenge was to read (or listen to) six adult books between the middle of June and the end of August.  Well, August ends next week and I have only read three.

The adult books that I finished were:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My Life in France by Julia Child (audio) and 
The Red Thread by Ann Hood

I attribute this failure to the fact that I actually (comparatively) did not read much of anything this summer.  It was just so hot and work was so busy that when I got home, I had zero energy for anything but zoning out on the couch and watching TV on DVD.  (I think I am finally just now starting to get my reading mojo back.  Whew!)

Excuses, excuses, I know.

BUT this just goes to show you that even librarians sometimes don't make their Summer Reading goals.  Now, of course, we want all kids to read over the summer.  It helps them keep up their reading skills and stay on track for the next year of school.  But I'm pretty sure that I can speak for all librarians when I say that what we want more than kids reading over the summer is kids ENJOYING reading over the summer. 

Maybe that means that instead of the library's goal of reading 20 books, your child would do better with a goal of 5 books.  Maybe that means reading lots of magazines and graphic novels.  Maybe that means reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid ten times.  Maybe it means that you spend the whole summer reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire together.

Next summer, visit your local library and sign up for the Summer Reading Club.  OR if you don't have time to make it to the library or if you want to set different goals for your kids or your family, challenge yourself.  Maybe you want to see if you can read 500 books with your preschooler over the summer.  Maybe you want to see if your family can read aloud together every night for a month straight.  Maybe you want to read a book set in every different country in the whole world! 

Just remember that even if you don't meet the goal (be it the library's goal or your own), the important thing is to keep on reading and make reading a positive experience.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Books on the Spectrum

When I was a kid, I read Ann M. Martin's Inside Out (Scholastic, 1990), a novel about a boy who has a younger brother with autism.  It's been years since I've read it, but all I remember is that the younger brother screamed a lot and was totally locked inside his own world, a world into which his family could never enter.

With the Center for Disease Control estimating that an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, it's no wonder that there are a growing number of books on our shelves featuring narrators and characters with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.  Want to see what the world looks like from the perspective of a kid with an ASD or a sibling of a kid with autism?  Check out one of these books!

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (Dial, 2006).  It's 1935 and Moose Flannagan has just moved to Alcatraz. No, he's not a prisoner, he's just a kid. His dad has gotten a job as an electrician on the island with the hopes that he will earn enough money to send Moose's sister Natalie to a special school. Natalie is... different. Sometimes she's off in her own little world. She's great with numbers, but not great at interacting with people. Moose's mother has tried everything to help her and, Moose finds out, she will stop at nothing to cure her little girl. But Moose isn't so sure that his mom knows what's best for Natalie. And he might be the only one who can really stick up for her... if he's brave enough. (Grades 5-8.) See also the sequel, Al Capone Shines My Shoes (Dial, 2009). 

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (Simon & Schuster's Children's Publishing, 2009).  Twelve-year-old Jason has autism, so the world looks different to him.  He doesn't really have any friends because most kids can't see past his disability.  They think that if they can't understand you, you must not have anything to say and if you don't express your feelings like they do, you must not have any feelings.  All that changes when he meets PhoenixBird on an online writing website.  Emails from her are the highlight of Jason's day, but when he gets the chance to meet her at a conference, he must decide if he's brave enough to show her who he really is.  (Grades 4-7.) 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Vintage, 2004).  Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057.   Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world.  Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing. (Summary from Goodreads.) (Grades 9 and up.) 

Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis (Dial, 2007).  Emma Jean sees the world a bit differently from most of the seventh graders at her school. She is a master of observation, though she doesn't always understand why people act the way they do. She remains detached and it's very hard to get under her skin, so even though she doesn't have any friends her age, she's not bothered by that fact. When she comes upon Colleen crying in the bathroom, Emma Jean discovers that she can use her problem-solving abilities to help her fellow students. And so she proceeds to "help" Colleen with a project that eventually backfires mightily. (Grades 4-7.) See also the sequel, Emma Jean Lazarus Fell in Love (Dial, 2009). 

The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin (Hyperion, 2010).  Liana is an aspiring planetary scientist . . . and also a kissing addict. This summer, though, she plans to spend every kissworthy hour in the lab, studying stars. Hank has never been kissed. He’s smart and funny and very socially awkward, because he’s got Asperger’s syndrome. Hank’s plan for the summer is to work at a music store and save enough to buy the Fender Jazzmaster he craves. What neither Liana nor Hank plans for is their fateful meeting . . . in the women’s bathroom at the hospital. But their star-crossed encounter could be the very best kind. (Summary from Goodreads.) (Grades 8-12.) 

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly (Henry Holt, 2010).  Sixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn’t have friends. She has, as she’s often reminded, issues. Drea’s mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on "a touch of Asperger’s.”  Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders.  The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea’s preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea. (Summary from Goodreads.) (Grades 9-12.) 

Livvie Owen Lived Here by Sarah Dooley (Feiwel & Friends, 2010).  All Livvie wants is to go back to when things were good. Back when the whistle blew on the paper mill every day at 6 o'clock and they lived in the warm, yellow house and Orange Cat was still alive. But the paper mill's closed and if she can't keep her outbursts under control, her family's going to be evicted again. It's not easy for anyone to deal with change and for Livvie it's a particular struggle because she has autism. But Livvie can't go back, so she's going to have to find a way to move forward.  (Grades 6-9.) 

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd (David Fickling Books, 2007).  When Ted's cousin Salim disappears after riding the London Eye, everyone is frantic.  Ted comes up with several theories and sets about investigating them with the help of his older sister Kat.  When the adults can't find Salim, it just might take the efforts of a boy whose brain runs on a different operating system and his angsty older sister. (Grades 4-7.) 

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009).  17-year old Marcelo has his future planned out:  he'll work training horses this summer at his school, a special school for kids with disabilities. In the fall, he'll return to Paterson for his senior year and then go to college to study nursing.  Marcelo's dad has other plans for his summer, and the real world is more complicated, beautiful, and frightening than Marcelo could ever have imagined. (Grades 9-12.) 

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (Philomel, 2010).  Caitlin looks at the world a little differently because she has Asperger's Syndrome.  When she can't figure out something that comes naturally to most people, she's always been able to turn to her older brother Devon for help.  But after a tragic shooting rocks their small town, Devon is gone.  And Caitlin will have to figure out how to deal with her grief on her own. (Grades 4-7.) 

Piggy by Mireille Geus (Front Street, 2007).  Twelve-year-old Lizzy is autistic. She is taunted on the playground and around town, and the other kids call her Dizzy, after her tendency to daydream. One day the teasing is brought to an abrupt halt by another outsider—Peggy, called Piggy, an overweight, aggressive girl. The girls establish a fragile friendship that soon descends into something like manipulative abuse, and when they seek revenge on the playground bullies, things go too far. (Summary from Booklist review.) (Grades 6-10.) 

Rules by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic, 2006).  Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules - from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public" - in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal? (Summary from Goodreads.) (Grades 4-7.) 

Know more middle-grade or teen books about kids with autism?  What's missing from my list?  Leave 'em in the comments! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Candy Bomber

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell. (Grades 3-7.) Charlesbridge, July 2010. 110 pages. Review copy provided by publisher.

In accessible text and with many photos and other visual aids, Candy Bomber tells the story of Lt. Gail Halvorsen, an American Air Force pilot who delivered candy to hungry children in West Berlin after World War II.

At that time, Berlin was divided, with the Allied Forces controlling West Berlin and the Soviets controlling East Berlin.  Because Berlin was located within the Soviet territory of East Germany, the Soviets tried to force the Allies out of Berlin by blocking ground and water transportation.  The only way to get food and supplies into West Berlin was by air, so the Allies manned hundreds of flights to bring in the necessary staples.

One day when Lt. Halvorsen was touring the city, he came across a group of kids watching the planes, hungry for any information about the outside world.  Halvorsen gave them two sticks of gum he had in his pocket and he had an idea - he would start dropping sweets for the children of Berlin.  Many pilots were willing to give up their candy rations for the kids and the project snowballed into "Operation Little Vittles", with candy companies and people all over the United States donating candy and homemade parachutes.

To me, this is a great example of the best kind of children's nonfiction - an interesting story, possibly unknown by many kids today, brought to life with readable text and archival photos and other visuals.  Author Michael Tunnell includes a great many photos, along with scanned-in letters and drawings from the kids who received the candy (and some who didn't!).

This is a story with great kid appeal.  Not only is it about candy (who doesn't love candy?), but the fact that the story is about children will allow today's kids to put themselves in that place.  The book's short enough that it's not overwhelming and the narrative moves along at a clip.  It'll appeal to kids interested in World War II, but I think it'll have great general appeal, too.

What can I say?  I just loved it!

Read more reviews at Everyday Reading, The Fourth Musketeer, and Wrapped in Foil.  

Candy Bomber is on shelves now!

And Happy Nonfiction Monday! Head on over to Playing By the Book for this week's roundup!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In My Mailbox #44

It's time for In My Mailbox, a weekly post about the books I've received in the mail.  Kristi at The Story Siren hosts the roundup, so head on over there to check out the books that bloggers got this week!

Man Gave Names to all the Animals by Bob Dylan, illustrated by Jim Arnosky (Sterling, September 2010).

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Houghton Mifflin, June 2010).  I loved Bartoletti's Hitler Youth, which I listened to on audio.  I think this one's going to be great as well! 

Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed by Sally M. Walker (Carolrhoda Books, October 2010).  *Squee!* I love Sally Walker's books! I was so excited to get this one and I can't wait to start it! 

Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie (Sterling, August 2010). 

Jumbee by Pamela Keyes (Dial, October 2010).  A retelling of Phantom? SIGN ME UP. 

So, very exciting books this week. And I'd better stop blogging and get reading (so I can blog some more). 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Around the interwebs

Oh, readers, enjoy these links while I am enjoying my day off, for this week I am a #SaturdayLibrarian.

So, Ellen Hopkins was dis-invited from the Teen Lit Fest in Humble, Texas.  Roger thinks that Ellen Hopkins needs to get over herself.  I'm just gonna throw this out there: something similar happened to Ms. Hopkins this time last year.  This time last year...  Which is to say, right around the corner from Banned Books Week.  There's no chance the folks in charge of Banned Books Week have orchestrated this whole thing, RIGHT?  I'm just saying... ;)

Skymall: The Hunger Games Edition. Need I say more? (Amazon better deliver my Mockingjay on Thursday, she said menacingly.)

Hey, little libraries, did you know about the Association for Rural and Small Libraries?  Word on the street is that they throw an awesome conference, packed with practical ideas for libraries with limited resources.  (I haven't been to their conference, I'm just repeating what I heard from a vendor.)  Denver's a bit far for me at the moment, but I'll be keeping an eye out for their future conferences for sure.

Trends in Fantasy Cover Art.  Swords and Glowy Magic are way down, but Dragons are holding strong.  Thanks to bookshelves of doom for the link.

Kristi at The Story Siren is interviewing people from publishing houses about blogger reviews and requesting review copies.  Get the details about what to include in your request, when to post reviews, when to send links, etc.  This is definitely interesting reading, especially if you're new to the game.  She's interviewed Penguin and Houghton Mifflin so far, with more to come!

Tie-Dyed and Prejudice.  Oh, Regretsy, you make me laugh so.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird

I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird: My Adventures Photographing Wild Animals from a Helicopter by Robert B. Haas. (Grades 3 and up with browsing appeal for younger kids, too.) National Geographic Kids, September 2010. 64 pages. Review copy provided by publisher.

Join photographer Robert Haas as he flies through the air taking photographs of all kinds of animals.  Haas travels the world, braving the freezing temperatures at high altitudes and the risk of falling to his death as he leans out of the helicopter, taking thousands of photos in search of the perfect shot.

Sometimes, it really pays off:

This is just one of the many stunning images included in I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird.  Haas gives kids information about his career and his adventures as he displays some of his most fabulous photographs.

The great strength of this book is definitely the photos. I mean, seriously - just show the above photo to a group of kids and you can be sure they'll be clamoring to page through it.  Haas also demonstrates a great respect for the natural world and a passion for preserving it.  Young animal lovers will find much inspiration in the pages of this book.

I do wish that the author had included more information on the technical aspects of his career - photos showing the equipment he uses would have been nice, as would a "day in the life"-type description of what exactly he does.  I realize that an aerial photographer's days are probably each very different, but I'm curious as to what one day would be like!

The focus here is definitely on adventures, which is something that kids will enjoy.  I think this is a book that'll serve a wide range of ages.  Kids who aren't quite reading well enough to absorb all the text will still enjoy the photos and I think even middle school kids might be inspired to start taking photos of their own.  Hand this to kids who love Ranger Rick and National  Geographic Kids magazines and any kids who love nature.

I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird will be on shelves September 14.

Happy Nonfiction Monday! Check out the roundup at Apples With Many Seeds.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

In My Mailbox #43

Welcome to this week's In My Mailbox post! In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren in which bloggers talk about the books they received in the mail or checked out from the library over the week. I haven't done one in several weeks, so I've got a lot to talk about!

First up is nonfiction. I got a copy of I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird: My Adventures Photographing Wild Animals from a Helicopter by Robert B. Haas (National Geographic Kids, Sept 2010). This book has a lot of fabulous photographs and I've got a review of it coming up tomorrow for Nonfiction Monday, so stay tuned for that.

I also got a package from Lee & Low with some fabulous books:

Amazing Faces edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet (June 2010). This is a collection of poems about diverse kids all over the country.

Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson (May 2010). There have been several books that have come out over the past couple years about Wangari Maathai, but I haven't read any of them, so I'm excited to read this one.

Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp by Trish Marx (July 2010). I was really excited to see this one because I didn't know about it and it looks really interesting.


House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan (Tor Starscape, November 2010). Fantasy! About horses!

Livvie Owen Lived Here by Sarah Dooley (Feiwel & Friends, August 2010). Eye-catching cover - check. Narrated by a girl with autism who BURNS DOWN HER HOUSE (how intriguing is that?!). Annnd it's a debut novel! Woo!

The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante (Putnam, January 2011). 2011 debut - keep your eyes out for this one!

When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer (St. Martin's Griffin, November 2010). What a gorgeous cover! Plus, it's about a Latina dancer annnd it's got some hot romance.

And a box from Scholastic!

Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi (September 2010). I've had kids asking for the next Amulet book, so they'll be really happy when we get this on our shelves in September!

Empty by Suzanne Weyn (October 2010). I literally did a happy dance when I saw this one in the box. I've been looking forward to this one. It's speculative fiction about a near future in which fossil fuels have run out.

George Washington's Spy: A Time Travel Adventure by Elvira Woodruff (November 2010). This is a sequel to George Washington's Socks.

Ghoul Strike! by Andrew Newbound (October 2010). Just from the cover, I know this is one that the kids in my library are going to pick up. This is a British import and debut novel.

Havoc by Chris Wooding (October 2010). This is a sequel to Malice.

Now You See Me... by Jane B. Mason and Sarah Hines Stephens (November 2010). This is from that Poison Apple series... I haven't read any in that series, but I'm definitely intrigued and I have a couple more on my TBR shelf, so I'm bumping them up.

You Are Not Here by Samantha Shutz (October 2010). Novel in verse.

Annnnd I bought a book when I was out of town last weekend. Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnik (Hyperion, 2010). It's told in tweets, emails, blog posts, etc. and I've read some good reviews around the blogosphere, so I'm excited to pick this one up.

Annnd also, you can see above an invitation to a book release party for Kelly Creagh's debut novel (coming out later this month and no, I have not been able to get my hands on it yet) Nevermore. The novel's a paranormal romance, due out August 31!

And THAT is what has been in my mailbox for the past few weeks. Whew! How about you? Anything fabulous in your mailbox this week?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Around the interwebs

Here's what I've been checking out on the interwebs this week (wish I had some scary Friday-the-13th links, but I do not)...

Kristi of The Story Siren is celebrating GLBT Lit Days August 9-20 over at The Story Siren. She's got giveaways, book reviews, and guest posts a-plenty, so head on over there and check it out. 

Sarah Rees Brennan has a great guest post at The Book Smuggler about why she writes YA. Definitely worth a look for all YA fans. Thanks to bookshelves of doom for the link. 

Have you heard of RAW INK Online? Developed by English students at Silver Creek High School, this interactive community is all about teens reading and writing and connecting with authors. This video explains a little about it, but what I really want you to check out is Mr. Hankins's book-lined classroom. I'll tell ya: my high school English classrooms did NOT look like that (sigh). 

RAW INK - EC Ning Summer Webstitute 2010 from ECNing on Vimeo.

By the by, RAW INK and Donalyn Miller will be hosting a Twitter chat about new and upcoming YA books on Sunday, August 15 at 8pm (Eastern). Follow #TitleTalk to tune in. 

I went to this workshop yesterday and one of the speakers pointed out a widget on the Yorba Linda Public Library website. Scroll down a bit and on the left-hand side you can see a feed of the books being checked in. Click on a title and it goes to the record in the catalog. It is awesome and kind of hypnotic. 

And speaking of things I learned at the workshop, was I the only one who missed that Amazon has sold more ebooks than hardcover books over the past three months? This is big, people!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stork by Wendy Delsol

Stork by Wendy Delsol. Grades 7-10. Candlewick, October 2010. Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher. 355 pages.

Katla is a true California girl. She lives for fashion and she hates the cold. So when her parents get divorced and she moves to her mother's hometown in Minnesota, Katla's sure that life's going to be a drag. The town doesn't even have a Starbucks!

But soon after Katla arrives in Norse Falls, strange things start happening. She discovers that she's part of an ancient order of magical women, the Stork Society, who guide undecided new souls to their mothers. And Katla meets Jack, a handsome senior to whom she's inexplicably drawn. As Katla gets to know her place among the Storks and gets closer to Jack, she'll figure out the truths that have been hidden from her.

Okay, here's what I liked about Stork:

- I liked the unusual fantasy lore. Stork is definitely something different from the scores of YA paranormals already on the shelves and that's what led me to pick it up. Parts of the story are inspired by Norse mythology, which is something we don't see a lot. It's refreshing to pick up something new and interesting. The way Ms. Delsol incorporates birds into the story was really cool.

- I liked Katla. She's spunky and her obsession with fashion adds some great details to the story. She's also a character that's easy to root for.

So, I liked those things, but...

(And some of this could totally be my shortened attention span this summer, but not all of it.)

I felt like the story took a long time to get where it was going. A lot happens in the book and some of it gets tied together at the end, and some of it doesn't. The end felt rushed, with a bunch of things getting neatly tied together in the last 30 pages or so. This wasn't a book I could sit down and read in one sitting. It took me weeks of picking it up and putting it down. I think that's partly because I wasn't completely in the right frame of mind for high-concept fantasy, but I think it's partly because there was a lot going on that didn't seem to be connected until the very end. And, although I liked Katla, her voice wasn't strong enough to carry me through when the plot didn't seem to be going anywhere.

So, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, BUT I sincerely hope that we'll see more from Wendy Delsol and I especially hope we'll see more unique takes on YA fantasy. Vampires and werewolves are fine (I am not on board with the whole angels thing), but it's really nice to see something different.

Read more reviews of Stork at 25 Hour Books, I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read, So Many Books, So Little Time, and Dreaming in Books.

Stork will be on shelves October 12!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I was going to read tonight...

but instead I wrote this post on the ALSC Blog: The Collection Development Line. It's about figuring out the line between having a balanced collection and having a collection that represents your population. I'd love it if you'd head over there and let me know your thoughts!

My first storytime

Gather round, lovelies, and I will tell you a story. It's a story about my first storytime*.

During grad school, I did a summer internship at the fabulous Monroe County Public Library. As part of the internship I had to plan and implement my own storytime, one of their "Tuesday Tales", a weekly drop-in storytime. I was nervous, but excited about doing it because I felt like it was my first step in putting together that repertoire that would help me get a job when I graduated.**

As the day approached, I put my storytime together. Based on my love for the story Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs***, I put together a food-themed storytime. I pulled some books to use, including The Beastly Feast by Bruce Goldstone and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. One of the librarians with which I was working pointed me to a Very Hungry Caterpillar puppet they had (and I thought "What? I don't just read books? I have to do other things?").

I was ready! I had my storytime books picked out. I had practiced using the puppet. I had my display books picked out. I was ready! And... I was nervous.

Like, incredibly nervous. Like... for a week beforehand, I had trouble sleeping because I was so nervous. The librarians at MCPL kindly went over my books with me and gave me their tips. But I was still nervous.

The fateful day came. I was probably ridiculously early to get everything all set up. The program room had a door that we would keep locked until we opened it up to start the program. About 15 minutes before the start time, kids started rattling the doorknob. I briefly considered just leaving the door locked and gettin' the heck out of there, but my supervisor was waiting to observe my program.

I took a deep breath. I took another deep breath. And I opened the door, let the kids in, and started my first storytime.

You know what? It was fine. I didn't have any problems with crowd control. The kids enjoyed the stories and I was able to keep their attention. They checked out books after the program and one kid asked me how caterpillars turn into butterflies (I stammered something like "You know, I bet we have a book about that! Go ask at the reference desk!"). And then it was over. And I was still alive.

Now, the thought of being that nervous over a simple storytime is funny to me****. My first storytime wasn't earth-shatteringly awesome, but it was fine. And I've learned something with every storytime I've done since. Now, four years later, I feel like I can pull together a storytime with a fair amount of ease. I have a collection of readaloud favorites and I have a better grasp on what makes a book a good choice for storytime.

The point of this story is that my first storytime was not easy. And it took me probably at least a dozen or more storytimes and programs to feel somewhat comfortable doing it. But it does get better. Whether you come down for or against the requirement for an MLS degree, I think we can all agree that librarianship is something that gets easier with practice, with experience.

Just remember that even the best librarians started somewhere.

So, if you've yet to do a storytime... or if you've done a couple but still get the butterflies beforehand... just rest assured that it gets easier. Keep doing it and someday you'll look back and laugh at all those sleepless nights.

* Okay, when I was working at the Big Corporate Bookstore, I did my share of storytimes, but those do not count because I did not know what I was doing and very few kids ever showed up and nobody cared if they were any good. And they were not good.

** I was right! Do an internship! It's the best thing you can do for your career while you're in school! (In my opinion...)

*** This was 2006 - long before the CWACOM movie came out. Just sayin'. 

**** Although, when I am stressed out at work, I will occasionally have a nightmare that I have to do storytime and can't find any books I want to use or can't remember the words to a song we're singing. And usually there are 100 or so kids waiting for me to get my act together and do the program. Other librarians have those dreams sometimes, too, right?  RIGHT? 

Photo from Franklin Park Library, used under Creative Commons license. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Around the interwebs

Hot. It's hottttt. So hot that maybe you don't have the energy to do anything except check out the following links:

It's important for kids to read over the summer - any children's librarian knows that - and the folks at On Our Minds @ Scholastic have a nice collection of links to articles about the "summer slide". Might come in handy for sharing with parents, teachers, and anyone concerned about kids.

I am sad that The Imaginary Librarian is hanging up her cardigan, but I love, love, love this Mario "Game Over" end-of-summer/video game book display.

Jennie of Biblio File celebrates her 30th birthday by blogging about the 30 most influential books in her life. I love seeing what books we have in common and her post's got me thinking about the most influential books in my life, too.

Are you checking out the Mockingjay blog tour?! Not only is it great for getting excited about the August 24th release date, but you can enter to win fabulous prizes! Check out the first stop at Galleysmith.

And speaking of Mockingjay, did you check out SLJ's interview with Suzanne Collins? Awesome sauce!

And Kristin Cashore shares her thoughts about writing scenes with physical intimacy. Working on a steamy scene in your own manuscript? Or just wondering what an author keeps in mind during the writing process? Either way, check it out.

All kids should be so lucky as to have a librarian like Mr. Schu at their school. John spent the summer traveling and, of course, reading! Check out his Animoto video to see all the places he read this summer. I love this video because he's showing the kids how much he values reading.

Reviewer X is back!!!

And on that note, I'm off. Actually, I'm in Atlanta right this very moment and tonight I'll be watching my baby brother graduate with his Master's from Georgia Tech! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Children's Librarian

8:30a - Arrive at the library, put stuff away, and turn on computer. I set up the small meeting room for the morning's programs.

9:10a - Check email. I get a reminder about Banned Books Week, so I check out the stuff on the ALA store. I really like this year's slogan and graphics!

9:35a - Our Reference manager stops by and we chat for a bit about upcoming meetings, Banned Books Week, and programs.

9:50a - I have an idea about a Guys Read display and I do a little searching for books we could put on it.

10:00a - It's time for Toddler Time, our storytime for 2's and 3's. T does the program, but I'm sitting in today because she'll be on vacation next week and I'll have to do the program. She shares songs, a few books, and some participation activities with them and then they have a brief play time.

10:40a - We're done with Toddler Time and setting up the room for the next program, when the manager from one of our local restaurants stops by to talk to me about a community event they're hosting. I get his name and number so I can call him back later and let him know if we'll be able to participate.

10:45a - T and I finish setting up for my program.

11:00a - It's time for our Float or Sink? program. This is a program for K-2nd graders. I share a couple of stories with them (Do Like a Duck Does by Judy Hindley and 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle) and I do a demonstration with a large, clear tub of water. I have several objects to test out (a pencil, a tennis ball, a plastic cow, a magnet, etc.) and I ask the kids if they think it'll float or sink. Then I put it in the water to see if it'll float or sink. After the demonstration, the kids get a chance to try out their own experiments with small tubs of water and baggies full of different objects. After the test it out, we get back together and talk about which of the objects sank and which floated.

11:30a - T helps me clean up the room and I write up a summary of the program for our files. We keep a binder of the programs we do. We write down what books we used, what crafts we did, what supplies the program used, how much they cost, and notes about how the program went. I record the attendance stats for the program.

12:05p - Lunch time!

1:05p - I'm back from lunch and I get the room set up for our afternoon program. More moving of tables and chairs... tablecloths, etc.

1:30p - I meet a new volunteer who wants to help out with our programs and shelf-reading (hooray!) and talk to a few other people in the library about various things.

1:45p - I burn a CD of images for a lady I'm doing a program with in August. I put it at the desk for her to pick up whenever she gets a chance.

2:00p - Our group arrives for the program. It's a group of 1st-3rd graders from a local daycare and they've requested stories and a craft. We share books about summer and then make a foam visor craft (we had the foam visors left over from last summer).

3:00p - The group takes off and we clean up the room. Happily, we can leave the tables and chairs up for a program we're doing tomorrow.

3:10p - I get a call from a librarian who read about our Life Sized Candy Land program and has some questions. I chat with her about the program for a bit. Librarians are always happy to share ideas!

3:30p - I have a meeting with my boss and two of the other department heads about collection development, particularly our periodicals collection. We're trying to determine if we can stop some of the magazines we subscribe to in order to trim the budget a bit. We look at circulation statistics and plan to do a survey to ask patrons for their input.

4:50p - I'm back at my desk where I send a few emails and read messages from the listservs I subscribe to.

5:05p - I make a to-do list for tomorrow and attempt to clean off my desk (a constant struggle...).

5:15p - I go out and straighten the department, filling up displays and cleaning up the New Book area. We keep books on the New Book shelves for several months or until we need more room in the section. We don't change the status in the computer, but we put a little blue dot on the spine which tells our pages that they get shelved in that section. When we want to pare down the section a bit, we just remove the blue dots and shelve them in the regular sections.

5:30p - Time to head home!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Winners, winners!

The random number generator has spoken! Congratulations to Lila D. who won the copy of Annexed, Diana C. who won the copy of Clockwork Angel, and Kristine M. who won the copy of Mostly Good Girls! Winners have been emailed and the books will go out either tomorrow or early next week.

Thanks to all who participated in my end-of-summer giveaway!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Firelight by Sophie Jordan. Grades 7 and up. HarperTeen, September 2010. Reviewed from ARC snagged at BEA. 323 pages.

Jacinda: The first fire-breathing draki born in thousands of years. When the pride tries to control her, her mother moves the family to the middle of the desert, hoping to protect Jacinda. But to Jacinda, it's torture. She can feel her draki side fading away as she's forced to enter the human world. The one bright spot is Will, a gorgeous boy with whom she feels an instant connection. He stirs the draki inside her whenever she's around him. But she can't let it go too far or else the world will know the draki's secret - that they can disguise themselves in human form. How can Jacinda keep her secret... when she can't stay away from Will?

Sometimes when it's summer and your job is very busy and you're a little stressed out, it gets hard to read books. I'd been having that problem this month, unable to stick with a book to the end, not wanting to read at all in favor of laying on the couch and watching TV. Until Firelight.

It was absolutely the perfect book for me at the moment that I read it. I love it when that happens. Once I picked it up, I didn't want to put it down. The romance sizzles off the page without being graphic and the interesting plot twists and draki lore kept me turning the pages.

For me, the book was very Twilight- esque. As in, the writing is repetitive and Jacinda is a character that lets things happen to her instead of doing things, but none of that really mattered because I was just really enjoying reading the book. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I'd hand this to Twilight fans immediately, if not sooner, and I think anyone who's looking for some escapist supernatural romance will dig this book.

Read more reviews at The Book Vault, Mindful Musings, Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf, and A Good Addiction (among others).

Firelight, Sophie Jordan's first YA novel, will be on shelves September 7.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kindergarten Day: USA and China

Kindergarten Day, USA and China: A Flip-Me-Over Book by Trish Marx and Ellen B. Senisi. Ages 4-6. Charlesbridge, July 2010. Unpaged. Review copy provided by publisher.

It's 9:00 in the morning and time to start a new day at kindergarten! And halfway across the world, it's 9:00 in the evening and kindergarteners in China are going to sleep. Kindergarten Day, USA and China takes a look at one day in an American kindergarten. Flip the book over and you can take a look at one day in a Chinese kindergarten!

Each spread covers an hour (or so) in a kindergarten class. We see kids learning to read, drawing pictures, playing outside, having lunch, celebrating a classmate's birthday, dealing with problems, and practicing telling time. A small clock at the bottom of the page shows the time (in America and in China) as we go through the day.

The overview of the day is necessarily brief, touching on just a few things that kindergarteners do. When we take a look at the Chinese side of the book, we find that Chinese kids do the same things as American kids. They read stories, play outside, celebrate birthdays, etc. A few Chinese words and characters are included on each spread of the Chinese side.

As the start of school draws near, librarians are sure to be reaching for the back-to-school books and this one will fit the bill with a nice multicultural aspect. The book will reassure kids just starting school with a clear depiction of some of the things they'll be doing. The book clearly comes down on the side of "We're all the same!", which is nice, but I would have liked to see more of the cultural differences between the two classes. Still, this book will definitely have an audience and we can always use more back-to-school titles.

Kindergarten Day, USA and China is on shelves now! Pick it up and add it to your back-to-school displays.

And happy Non-Fiction Monday! Head on over to Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian for this week's roundup!