Monday, May 31, 2010

BEA Recap #3

(Hey, this is the third installment of my Book Expo recap. Don't miss the first and second installments!)

Thursday dawned cloudy and cooler (thank goodness!) than Wednesday. Jen was up early to get ready for the Adult Author Breakfast, emceed by Jon Stewart. The rest of us followed suit and we arrived at the Javits around 8:00. We were even farther back in the line on Thursday than we were on Wednesday! But I had mellowed out after a better night's sleep. I brought my suitcase and checked it so that we could make a speedy departure* to the airport to make our flights.

Thursday was better for me. I think it was mostly because I knew what to expect. I knew it was going to be absolutely crazy and I told myself that I was just going to pick up any books that looked interesting. On Wednesday, I had been very concerned with "getting my money's worth" and scoring enough titles on my list to make up for the $600+ that I spent to be at the conference. This is destructive thinking (and so shouldn't be the point of the event). On Thursday, I was able to let that go and just pick up books that looked interesting. It was a much better day for me (and probably for my companions, as well). It helps that Thursday was a smidgen less crazy. I actually met some of my publisher contacts while I was standing in line (NOT "on line") for things. And that was super cool. :)

I got separated from my companions almost immediately as we headed for HarperCollins and Disney/Hyperion first and then swung through Little, Brown. For some reason**, Little, Brown was an absolutely madhouse. I mean, wall-to-wall people. The people working the booth looked a little scared of us. Everyone was going every which way and it was crazy. But we got some good books. :)

I lost Kelly and Kim after that and I headed down to set up my box for the day (I love that shipping room!).I drew Batty on my box so that I could easily recognize it:

I wandered a bit, heading over to Candlewick, and then Jen was done with the breakfast and I met up with her. The two of us wandered. The only can't-miss thing on my agenda for Thursday was to get to Simon & Schuster and pick up an ARC of Forge, which Laurie Halse Anderson was signing. And I did it! I got in line about half an hour before her signing time and I was about 6th or 7th from the front.

Ms. Anderson was extremely nice and, when she saw I'm a blogger, she asked if I had reviewed any of her books and she asked me to email her a link if I review Forge. Of course, I happily agreed! I loved, loved, loved Chains and it ends on something of a cliffhanger, so I'm overjoyed to have Forge!***

After that, my day was made! Jen and I wandered over to the autographing areas and stood in a few short lines before we had to RUN to get everything done before our shuttle to the airport arrived. We divided and conquered to get our boxes packed up and shipped, get our suitcases out of the baggage check, and meet the shuttle...

...which turned out to be really funny when, after arriving at the airport by 3:00 or so and waiting for our respective 5:00 flights, they were both canceled due to weather and we ended up spending another night in New York. Argh. As stressful as that was, I'm glad that Jen was stuck with me and we could split a hotel room and spend one last night together!! We even ordered New York style pizza****! Yum!

I got up at 5am on Friday to catch my 8am flight back to Louisville. The lines were insane and they oversold my flight, but luckily I made it home, a mere 24 hours after we left the convention center and started our trek.

The most annoying thing? I passed on Book Blogger Con because it was going to be so much money to switch my flight and because I didn't want to spend the money on another night in a hotel. If I had known I'd have to stay anyway, I could have finished out my day at BEA and then stayed for Book Blogger Con! Oh, well.

So, BEA. It was a complete whirlwind. Absolute madness. But I'm so glad I went. It was great to meet up with so many cool people - bloggers and publicists. I can finally put faces to some of those names I see in my email! Will I go again? I think I will if I can trim the cost down a bit. I can't afford to spend this much money (and be away from work right when our Summer Reading Club is starting) every year. But, who knows... maybe I'll find some cheap plane tickets and coerce a NY friend into letting my stay with him... It could happen. :)

Coming soon: pics of the loot! Here's a little preview of the swag and a few of the books that I stuck in my carry-on luggage (Forge and four of the books we were given at the librarian dinner):

And tomorrow, I'll have a few more tidbits to round out the recap.

*Hah. HAHAHA. 

** Maybe it's because they have good books there? Or maybe because LB was giving out middle-grade grab bags (they had given out YA grab bags the day before). The grab bags were kinda like chum in the water. In a good way

*** And I sat down and read the entire thing on Saturday. It was wonderful! Review to come...

**** I guess in NY they just call it "pizza".

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BEA Recap #2

(Hey, this is my second recap of Book Expo America. Don't miss the first installment.) 

On Wednesday, Kelly, Kim, Jen, and I all woke up early and, though the exhibits didn't open until 9:00, we headed down there, arriving at the convention center at 8:15. Yeah, this is how far back we were in line:

You see that area right in the middle of the picture? Where you can kinda see the tiny, far-away lights of the convention hall? That's where the exhibits were. So we parked ourselves and came up with a game plan. We decided to hit up Penguin first and then the other big houses that were almost sure to have big giveaways at the start.

We counted down...

Jen demonstrated her excited, about-to-get-free-books dance:

And then it was 9:00 and they let us in to the hall.Yeah, I don't have any pictures of this part. You know why? Because it was mad crazy. It was throngs of people, all pushing against each other, all frantic for books. I don't even remember which books we picked up that first morning because it was so ridiculously crazy that I just took whatever was in a pile or thrust into my hands, stuffed it in my bag, and moved on.

It was about then that I realized that BEA was NOT going to be like the ALA Exhibits. It was a whole lot crazier than I expected. And on Wednesday it was pretty much crowded the entire day. The lines for autographs were insane (and the lines at the autographing area were extremely hard to manage - in places you had to push through four layers of people to even get to the line you wanted to be in). The in-booth autograph lines stretched way down the aisles, making navigating the main aisles somewhat difficult.

We quickly learned to cut down lesser-used aisles to avoid the crush*.

I was disappointed in the morning because the big booths were so crazy with people that it was impossible to talk to anyone. Many of the big publishers did not have a lot of different titles to give out (even if you asked), but only had hundreds of copies of the few galleys that were being signed at the show. This is absolutely fine, but it wasn't what I was expecting, so I was a little thrown.

After the mad rush of the morning, things calmed down a little bit. Also, we set up our boxes in the shipping room and lightened our loads a little. THE SHIPPING ROOM! This sounds ridiculous, but it was my favorite thing about BEA. It was calm down there. Quiet. You could go in and rest your ears for a little bit, unload your books, and go back to the hall with a bounce in your step. Also, everyone working there was very nice and helpful. I love the shipping room! Here's what it looked like:

Ahhh, the shipping room.

At some point in the morning, Jen and I met up with Sarah from The Reading Zone and we all traversed the booths together. Sarah is super awesome and I am so glad to have met her after all this time of reading her blog (and, last year, working on the Cybils with her!). We perused and scooped up ARCs and checked out the autographing lines until we were hungry and then we stopped for $8.00 crepes at a stand in the hall. We sat on the floor and ate them. :) The lovely Sarah Darer Littman (author of Confessions of a Closet Catholic and the upcoming Life, After**) joined us for a bit and it was nice to chat with her.

The afternoon was more of the same - scoping out books, requesting a few titles, and then my three original traveling companions and myself staked out the autograph lines. We stood in line for Zombies Vs. Unicorns, being signed by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier*** and then we stood in another long line for Anna Godbersen who, as it turns out, was signing Splendor and a sample chapter of her upcoming Bright Young Things. I remain hopeful that there will be ARCs of BYT to be had, but it wasn't available at this conference****.

After that, we were all pretty much beat and we headed back to the hotel. Jen and I ventured back out for KidLit Drink Night, but we were so hot and tired that we only stayed until about 8:30. There were a TON of people there (of whom I only recognized about three...). I did chat with Sheila of Wands and Worlds and Betsy of A Fuse #8 Production*****. If I had been braver, I would have chatted with a lot more people, but having dealt with the masses at BEA all day, I wasn't up to the task. I'm sorry to any of you that I missed! I promise that I will be more social at the next KidLit Drink Night I have the good fortune to attend. (Whenever that may be...)

I did have the pleasure of seeing Bobby, a friend of mine from library school, who works at the Brooklyn Public Library. By the way, please help him keep his job!! I hadn't seen him in several years, so it was lovely to get together with him.  

We all collapsed into bed at about 9:00pm, half excited about and half dreading the next day...

*Although the crush was kind of useful in some cases: "There's a bunch of people over there! They must be giving out something good! Let's go get it!"

** Which I have on my TBR shelf - I will make sure I get to it. It has a beautiful cover and Sarah gave me a poster of it!! 

*** Who asked if we were Team Unicorn or Team Zombie. TEAM UNICORN, ALL THE WAY!! In fact, at my last library I was *captain* of Team Unicorn!

**** Which was really disappointing at the time, especially as it had been listed in PW's Kids' Galleys to Grab list, BUT now that I am not exhausted and overwhelmed, I realize that I was being a brat and should not look free sample chapters in the mouth!! 

***** She is much taller than I thought she would be. And she had been to a Mockingjay party earlier in the evening - color me jealous!

In My Mailbox #35

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren! And even though I was at BEA this week, scooping up galleys, I came home to a box on my doorstep (such a nice thing to come home to)!

Here's what was inside:

Alcatraz Through the Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson (Scholastic Press, October? 2010).

The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby (Scholastic Press, October 2010). **Debut author!**

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford (Scholastic Press, September 2010).

The Cruisers by Walter Dean Myers (Scholastic Press, August 2010).

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian (Scholastic Press, September 2010).

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic Press, August 2010). 

We Could Be Brothers by Derrick Barnes (Scholastic Press, November 2010).

Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Scholastic Press, November 2010).

And that was my mailbox this week! Did you get anything in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

BEA Recap #1

BEA! (That's Book Expo America, by the way.)

I'm so glad I went - for the people, for the books, for the experience. And since I'm a little unwilling to admit that the whole crazy affair is already over, here's the first part of my BEA recap. And as I go through these recaps, you are going to notice that I was almost completely overwhelmed and hardly took any photographs worth posting. I will do better at the next event I attend. I promise.

I flew into NYC on Tuesday, May 25, and met Kelly of Stacked and Jen of NerdGirlBlogging at the airport*. We high-tailed it to our lovely hotel (the Wyndham Garden Hotel**) where Kim of Stacked was blithely napping (lucky girl). After a little refreshment and getting to know each other, we zipped off to the AAP/LJ Librarians' Dinner.

The Dinner was wonderful. First of all, free food in New York is nothing to scoff at. Second of all, there were great people there. The four of us ended up sitting with three New York librarians*** and a book club lady. Thirdly, they had five fabulous authors speaking: Cory Doctorow, Rachel Vincent, Jane Green****, Anne Fortier, and Ann Brashares. Fourthly, we got our first free books of the conference (copies of each of the speaking authors' latest books)*****!

And yes, the food was terrible. My favorite thing was how the "vegetarian" meal was literally the same thing as the regular meal but without any chicken on the plate. Oy. But there was wine! And cake! And it was free, so I am not going to complain!

Librarians, this dinner is definitely something to be aware of if you're planning on attending BEA. This year was (I believe) the fourth year they held it and I hope they continue! Something that struck me is how nearly all the authors shared stories of beloved libraries/librarians from when they were kids. Children's librarians, what we do is IMPORTANT. If done correctly, it'll be something kids remember when they're all grown up and writing books of their own. 

We made it an early evening on Tuesday since we were all freakin' exhausted and we planned to be up early the next morning for the opening of the BEA Exhibits...

Continue reading about my BEA shenanigans in the second installment!

*Can I just say: LaGuardia? Not my favorite. I will navigate O'Hare with the best of 'em, but please spare me LaGuardia...

** Our stay was fabulous! It's three blocks from Javits, a reasonable price (I believe it was $180/night, split between four of us), and very nice. I super recommend them!

*** We realized that at our table were librarians from NY, IA, TX, WI, and KY.  

**** Who Tweeted me after! I feel so special!!
***** It was the *squee* heard 'round the world. :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

May Pub Dates

Hey, y'all. The following books were reviewed from ARCs and are now on shelves!

Countdown by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic Press).

The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen (Feiwel & Friends).

Keeper by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum).

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Knopf Books for Young Readers).

Go check them out!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Starcrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce. (Grades 7+) Arthur A. Levine Books, October 2010. Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.

Celyn Contrare has many secrets. First of all, her name is not Celyn Contrare. And she's not the daughter of a merchant like she's told the family that took her in. Celyn's real name is Digger and she's a runaway, a talented thief, pickpocket, and spy who's disguised herself as a lady-in-waiting to a daughter of a noble family. But as the winter wears on in their mountain villa, Digger discovers that she's not the only one keeping secrets. And as Digger learns more about the families wintering at the villa, she becomes more and more certain that something bad is coming. Caught between people she's growing to care for and a man who could have her arrested, which side will she choose?

Starcrossed is definitely a book that you can sink your teeth into. I was immediately intrigued by the world - a place with seven moons, each representing a different god or goddess. At one time, magic was abundant and people could worship whichever gods they chose, but then the King started an Inquisition, arresting and torturing all who worship any except Celys. Anyone with magic is arrested and years before Digger's birth, the Sarists (worshippers of the goddess of magic, Sar) staged an uprising and lost.

The plot is rife with political intrigue and everyone has a secret. Digger is adept at finding out these secrets, but the more she learns, the more complicated things become.

For me, it was somewhat uneven. I felt like some parts of it dragged and there was so much going on, so many different families and characters, that it was hard to keep all of it straight. I thought the action-y parts were superb - I couldn't put the book down, but then there'd be a stretch where everyone was just planning things and it would slow down again. I think it's a wonderfully rich and complex book, but it's definitely a book that takes some commitment.

I'd recommend Starcrossed to fans of Shannon Hale and Kristin Cashore. It especially reminded me of Kristin Cashore's Fire with its concentration on political intrigue.

Starcrossed will be on shelves October 1.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Real Quick Thoughts About BEA

Okay, I've hijacked J's computer so I could post a few real quick thoughts about BEA. My traveling companions have been lovely and I also had a great time today with Sarah from The Reading Zone. Sarah Darer Littman, author of the upcoming novel Life, After joined us for a mini lunch (8$ crepes eaten on the floor in the back of the exhibit hall!).

- BEA is crowded. OMG. I guess everything is a little more squashed together because it's all on one floor this year, but the signing lines were ridiculous. I still managed to get my hands on Zombies vs. Unicorns (signed by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, among others!) and a couple other choice picks.

- I am somewhat disappointed by the number of galleys that are not here. I know that makes me sound like a complete brat (and I'm trying not to be, I swear!), but there are many publishers who only have a handful of different galleys that they're doing signings for. I mean, of course I'm grateful for free books and I am very grateful for the wonderful publicists who have offered to send me things (a few have done that!).

- Bloomsbury/Walker is the winner (thus far) for niceness. Very enthusiastic publicists, many ARCs available, no qualms about handing them out and talking them up. Nicely played, Bloomsbury/Walker.

- Runner up is Disney/Hyperion for the rep who chased after me to offer to send me the book I had asked about that they didn't have there.

- They're not the only ones who have been very nice. Actually, pretty much everyone has been extremely nice (especially after things settled down a little bit - the mad rush at the beginning was ridonkulous...).

- The shipping area!!! It's my favorite place at the convention! Free boxes, nice people to help you carry them to the table to be mailed, everyone respects everyone else's boxes... It is awesome. I have shipped one box home and I am hoping to have another big box to ship tomorrow.

- KidLit Drink Night was sooo much fun. There were about a million people there. I chatted with the lovely Sheila Ruth of Wands and Worlds and the indomitable Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production, among others. We didn't stay terribly long because we were BEAT, but I'm so glad to have made an appearance.

And that's all I have time for right now. I'm going back to the exhibits tomorrow and hoping to scoop up a few more ARCs before we leave for the airport at 1 (and I begin the almost-12-hour journey home.... oy.....).

More later (including pictures!!!!) when I get home.

The DUFF: Designated Ugly, Fat Friend

The DUFF: Designated Ugly, Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger. Grades 9 and up. Poppy (an imprint of Little, Brown), September 2010. Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.

When Hamilton High School's most promiscuous male deems Bianca the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) of her group, Bianca throws her Cherry Coke in his face. But later it occurs to her that, between Casey, the modelesque cheerleader, and Jessica, the curvy blonde, maybe Bianca is the DUFF... And when things start to fall apart with her parents, Bianca is horrified to find herself swept up in a fling with Wesley the jerk. She hates absolutely everything about him... except for the way his kisses help her escape the stress in her life. But when Bianca finds herself thinking about Wesley more and more, she'll have to decide - when is enough enough?

I found this book to be unexpectedly delightful. 

For some reason, even though it's been getting a fair amount of buzz around the KidLitosphere, I wasn't that intrigued by The DUFF before I picked it up. Maybe that stemmed from negative impressions of the cover (which definitely does not depict someone ugly or fat) or maybe it was the idea of an 18-year-old author that gave me pause. I figured I'd pick it up since Little, Brown sent it to me, and I'm so glad I did! 

The DUFF is not just another fat-girl book (like maybe I'd suspected). In fact, The DUFF isn't a fat-girl book at all. It's a book about a normal teenage girl who's going through some issues and trying to deal with her stress. And she ends up choosing a somewhat destructive way to deal with her stress (as some teens are wont to do). But nothing's black and white here. As Bianca's fling with Wesley proceeds, they both begin to change their minds about each other. I love that Ms. Keplinger doesn't shy away from the complicated emotions that Bianca is feeling. She's able to explore this relationship without getting message-y and while providing a satisfying conclusion. 

And my qualms with the cover dissipated as I read the story. The book's not really about a fat girl. It's about those feelings that everyone has from time to time - feeling like you're not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough... As Bianca works through her issues in the book, she comes to realize that everyone feels like they're the DUFF at some point. Though Bianca might perceive herself as ugly and fat, that doesn't necessarily make it true. 

I'd recommend this book to fans of Elizabeth Scott for the realistic characters and complicated emotions. I'd also recommend it to fans of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles for the unlikely (and somewhat steamy) romance element. 

Kody Keplinger's definitely a debut author to watch and I certainly hope she finds time between her college classes to keep writing YA novels! 

The DUFF will be on shelves September 7, 2010.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And I'm off!

Earlyearly this morning, I'm off to NYC for BEA!
I will try to update from the convention, but it depends on if I can steal someone's laptop for a minute.
I am bringing my camera and hope to have lots of awesome pictures and tales with which to regale you!

I've got a review or two scheduled to post this week, so just in case I can't update from the road, you'll know I'm thinking of you. ;)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Hive Detectives

The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns. Grades 4-7. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, May 2010. Review copy provided by publisher.

So, Travis of 100 Scope Notes is hosting Nonfiction Monday today and he threw down the gauntlet by declaring this Nontraditional Nonfiction Monday and challenging us to create reviews that are a little out of the ordinary.

I had a bunch of ideas, but in the end I decided that you're going to have to work a little bit for this review. I give you The Hive Detectives: A Crossword Puzzle Review.

And in case you get stuck, here's the answer key.

Enjoy your puzzle and then go check out a copy of The Hive Detectives, a wonderful addition to the Scientists in the Field series. (And also, don't forget to head over to 100 Scope Notes for this week's Nontraditional Nonfiction Monday!)

The Hive Detectives is on shelves now!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In My Mailbox #34

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! Head on over there to see what books bloggers were thankful to receive this week.

I got a book in the mail this week. It was this book:

Fire Will Fall by Carol Plum-Ucci (Harcourt Children's Books, May 2010).

This is a sequel to Streams of Babel, which I have not read, but maybe I will check it out.

*Hey, this summary might contain spoilers for Streams of Babel! You have been warned!!*

From GoodReads:

ShadowStrike poisoned the water of Trinity Falls two moths ago. Now the Trinity Four, the teens most affected by the poison, have been isolated in a remote mansion under 24-hour medical care while scientists on four continents rush to discover a cure. Meanwhile, U.S. operatives scour the world for the bioterrorists responsible for this heinous crime, as two teen virtual spies, also infected, hunt for the criminals on the Internet. The danger remains real—for ShadowStrike has every reason to pursue the Trinity Four, and their evil plan will unleash a new designer virus that’s even deadlier than the first.

And that was my mailbox this week!
OH. But I can tell you that I also bought some books. I attended an author signing by three lovely ladies on Saturday and of course I bought their books so I could get them signed!

 The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy (Egmont USA, April 2010).

From GoodReads:

Sixteen year old outsider, Jess Parker, gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join a secret society of popular girls dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. The Cinderella Society guides all new recruits through its top secret ultimate life makeover. It’s all part of preparing them to face down the Wickeds and win. Determined not to let the Cindys down, Jess dives in with a passion. Finally, a chance to belong and show the world what she’s made of.

Jess’s transformation wins her the heart of her dream crush and a shot at uber-popularity. Until the Wickeds–led by Jess’s arch enemy–begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers the real force behind her exclusive society. It’s a high stakes battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys in power need Jess on special assignment. When the mission threatens to destroy her dream life come true, Jess is forced to choose between living a fairy tale and honoring the Sisterhood… and herself.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin Teen, February 2010).

From GoodReads:

Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series. 

 Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, February 2009).

From GoodReads:

Iris is ready for another hot, routine summer in her small Louisiana town, hanging around the Red Stripe grocery with her best friend, Collette, and traipsing through the cemetery telling each other spooky stories and pretending to cast spells. Except this summer, Iris doesn’t have to make up a story. This summer, one falls right in her lap.

Years ago, before Iris was born, a local boy named Elijah Landry disappeared. All that remained of him were whispers and hushed gossip in the church pews. Until this summer. A ghost begins to haunt Iris, and she’s certain it’s the ghost of Elijah. What really happened to him? And why, of all people, has he chosen Iris to come back to?

All three authors were super nice and it was so good to meet them! (Even though I am somewhat awkward with small talk and mostly just hovered around their table like an insect...)

Happy reading!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Plain Kate

Plain Kate by Erin Bow. Grades 6-10. Arthur A. Levine (an imprint of Scholastic), September 2010. Reviewed from ARC received from publisher.

Katerina, called Plain Kate, had always had a special talent for carving. Some said it was an unnatural talent, but Plain Kate didn't listen to them. She had plans - to become her father's apprentice and work with him, creating beautiful wooden things. But what happened instead is that Kate's father died and left her all alone. And then the white-faced witch showed up and offered her a heart's desire in exchange for her shadow.

Kate, with nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to, agrees to the deal. But what does living without a shadow mean? It's a bigger problem than Kate bargained for and she knows she must get her shadow back. Can she stop the events that have now been put into motion? Or will it mean certain death for them all?

I knew from the beginning that I was in for a treat with this book. Well, ACTUALLY, I suspected that I was in for a treat before the book arrived on my doorstep because at the Scholastic preview webcast, people were gushing about this book. And the writing is very fine. It's like you're sitting there and Erin Bow is weaving this tale and telling it to you in person.

It's beautiful and creepy and haunting all at once. And sad. It gets amazingly sad in some bits.

It reminded me of nothing so much as Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass and once I had that thought, I kept thinking of more and more parallels between the two books. They're both about spirited, special girls (though Lyra is more feisty... if I have one complaint about Plain Kate it's that things seem to happen TO Kate rather than her taking action and solving problems herself). Both heroines have an animal companion. Both Plain Kate and The Golden Compass are fantasy adventures that are not afraid to go to some dark places.

So, I'd definitely try this one on fans of His Dark Materials. I'd also try it on fans of A Curse Dark As Gold because it has that same brooding atmosphere throughout the book. Bad things are happening and you just know that things are going to get worse before they get better. A red flag for some (just so you're aware) is that there is some violence towards animals in the story. I know some readers are particularly sensitive to this, which is why I warn you (JEN).

Plain Kate will be on shelves September 1. This is a YA debut that you won't want to miss!

You never stop being a librarian

I'm having my staff over for dinner tonight and of course the evening wouldn't be complete without a little booktalking:

(Notice my oh-so-classy coffee table - a wooden shelf on top of an Office Depot box!)

(Also, that book on the bottom right corner? That's a picture book I wrote and illustrated in the first grade. Hee.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Around the interwebs: Almost all videos edition


Mmmkay, I've gotten it out of my system. Moving on...

Pairing Improv Everywhere with support for libraries? And Ghostbusters?? Awesome. Thanks to @JacksonPearce for the link.

And what do writers do when they get writer's block? Some writers use the opportunity to make an awesome video:

And, let's see, I have some non-video links around here somewhere... Ah, yes.

Are you Team Peetah or Team Gale? How about neither?! Patti at Oops...Wrong Cookie emphatically declares her alliance with Team Katniss.  Thanks to @TrishaYA for the link.

And Susan at Booklights answers the age-old question: What do librarians do all day? Click on over there for a peek inside one librarian's day.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

AudioSynced is comin' up..!

Hey, don't forget that the May AudioSynced Roundup will be right here at Abby (the) Librarian on June 1! I've been collecting some links in my reader, but if you want to make sure your May audiobook post is  included, leave a link to it in the comments or email me at

Then don't forget to tune in on June 1 to see what bloggers have to say about audiobooks this month!

What goes into a Summer Reading Club?

I mean, besides blood, sweat, and tears, of course.

Summer is nearly upon us! That means our lovely teachers and school media folk are giddy with excitement while our public librarians are steeling their wills (and perhaps having a stiff drink). I know you public librarians are well aware of the amount of work that goes into planning and implementing a Summer Reading Club, but I wanted to give the rest of y'all a little peek behind the scenes and share with you just how we go about planning a Summer Reading Club.

(Keep in mind that for most of this time, we're also doing at least three storytimes a week (sometimes 7+ storytimes a week) and doing the everyday parts of our jobs like putting in book orders, answering questions at the reference desk, working on book lists, attending meetings, etc.)

August 2009 - Whew! We breathe a sigh of relief. Summer Reading is over! Time to relax! Time to take vacations! Time to straighten the books, weed the collection, and do all those other tasks we had no time for over the summer. But there's no rest for the weary - we're already thinking about next year. I have a meeting with my staff to debrief after the Summer Reading Club. We talk about what we liked and didn't like about this year's program and we make notes for when we start planning the next one.

Yup, we'll take a few months "off", but planning will start sooner than you might have guessed...

November 2009 - It's already that time - time to be thinking about next year's Summer Reading Club. Funding doesn't grow on trees! I'm researching performers, putting in inquiries about fees and availability, so that I can get an accurate estimate of how much money I'll need to ask for from our Friends of the Library.

December 2009 - I submit our request to the Friends and get the money approved. It has to be done early so that if our Friends aren't able to fund the full amount, I have some time to find funding elsewhere. Luckily, this year the Friends are able to give us our requested amount.

January 2010 - New year, time to start brainstorming! Our library participates in the Collaborative Summer Reading Club, so our theme is already determined. We have a meeting with one of our neighboring libraries to discuss ideas for programming and sponsors. We work together to find businesses that will donate coupons as prizes.

February 2010 - I send out letters to local businesses to solicit donations of coupons and prizes. I also start booking performers.

March 2010 - We start planning our programs in earnest. We have to get a calendar ready by the beginning of May, so we need to nail down dates and figure out who's doing what. I finish confirming performers and call the local schools to set up visits. Some schools schedule visits right away and some take awhile to get back to me. I'm really appreciative of the schools that let us visit because I know they are taking time out of their day and it really helps us get the word out!

April 2010 - We're finalizing the calendar and collecting coupons and prizes from local businesses that are donating. We write up blurbs for our programs in order to advertise them, put all our programs into a calendar that we'll hand out at the schools (and we proofread and proofread and proofread...). We write lists of all the supplies we'll need for programs this summer. We budget and budget and budget. We put together a video to promote our Summer Reading Club and we decide what we're going to do on our school visits. We make literally thousands of copies of our summer program calendar to bring to the schools.

May 2010 - You might think this is an easier month because we're taking time off from our normal storytime programs, but May is crunch time! We're out visiting schools, we're making copies of coupons and having our wonderful teen volunteers cut them out and stamp them. We're putting together sign-up packets, planning programs for summer, purchasing supplies and prizes, designing and creating decorations for the department. We're testing our computer sign-up program to make sure it'll all go smoothly, submitting purchase orders so that our performers get paid. We're making sure that we're all on the same page as far as the rules for the club. And did I mention the school visits? This year, 15 of the local schools are letting us come and talk about the Summer Reading Club.

And all of this work is leading up to May 24 when our 2010 Summer Reading Club begins. Yeah, after all that work we still have 10 weeks of craziness ahead of us! But it's worth it to see so many kids enjoying the library and reading books all summer.

So, c'mon, parents, teachers and school librarians! We're ready for your kids! Send 'em our way!

(And you know what? We're already thinking about next year's SRC and this one hasn't even started yet!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Super Duper Waiting On Wednesday

Yes, I am one of the lucky ones going to Book Expo America next week*, so I thought that for Waiting on Wednesday today I'd share my Go Home Happy list. I have a fairly long list of books I'll be checking out, but there are the ones I'm particularly looking forward to. I don't know that all of them will be available at BEA, but I'll have my eyes out for them!

Going to BEA? You'll also want to check out Publisher's Weekly's Kids' Galleys to Grab!

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-Made Catastrophes by Lenore Look (Schwartz & Wade, September 2010).
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse, October 2010).
Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen (HarperCollins, October 2010).
The Candymakers by Wendy Mass (Little, Brown, October 2010). 
Clementine, Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker (Hyperion, July 2010).
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn (Knopf Books for Young Readers, October 2010). 
Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin (Dial, September 2010).
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, June, and May by Robin Benway (Razorbill, August 2010).
Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster's Children's Publishing, October 2010).
The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin (Hyperion, June 2010).
HALO by Alexandra Adornetto (Feiwel & Friends, September 2010).
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (Hyperion, October 2010).
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner (Dial, June 2010).
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, September 2010).
The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike (Harcourt Children's Books, September 2010).
The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb Books, September 2010).
Zombies Vs. Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (Margaret K. McElderry, September 2010).

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine! Head on over there and check it out.

*And by "one of the lucky ones" I actually mean one of the ones using vacation days and shelling out $$ for a plane ticket, hotel room, etc. because I decided I wanted to go.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kakapo Rescue

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop. (Grades 4-7.) Houghton Mifflin, May 2010. Review copy provided by publisher.

In the lush, ferny forests of Codfish Island in New Zealand, there lives a very strange bird. It is green in color, blending in with the forest floor on which it lives. It is flightless and weighs up to 9 pounds. It comes out at night and smells of honey. It's a kakapo and there are less than a hundred of them left in the world*.

The kakapo is one of many flightless birds that became threatened when humans invaded its territory, bringing with them many foreign predators. Its strong scent made it an easy target for cats and dogs, brought to the islands to hunt rats (which humans also introduced to the islands). Now, with so few kakapo left, it's up to humans to help out this dying species.

First, the remaining kakapo were transferred to Codfish Island, a small island off the coast of New Zealand. It's carefully controlled - no tourists are allowed and the scientists and volunteers that work on the island must disinfect everything they bring with them. Scientists try to help the kakapo by supplementing their food to encourage breeding and keeping careful track of the few eggs and chicks that kakapo produce. It's slow going - kakapo don't breed every year and scientists are still trying to figure out what triggers breeding. But every little bit helps as they try to bulk up the population of these wonderful birds.

This is another great entry in the Scientists in the Field series! Sy Montgomery's text is readable and accessible. Quick facts and short stories about the individual birds and people are presented in sidebars and inserts to the main text of the book. These inserts really help bring the kakapo to life and help the reader see that these strange birds, once kept as pets by travelers to New Zealand, do have distinct personalities. Of course, Nic Bishop's photographs of the flourishing landscapes are stunning, bringing you right into the heart of the issue. Also shown are photographs of some of New Zealand's other unique species.

This'll be an interesting book for any young naturalist to pick up, but it may be especially useful when those trusty endangered species reports come around again. Kudos to Montgomery and Bishop for fleshing out the story of such a rare bird and bringing it to the attention of many.

Just as you'd expect of any entry in the Scientists in the Field series, the book includes an index and resources for helping out the kakapo. Check out the website for the Kakapo Recovery Programme.

Happy Nonfiction Monday! The roundup is at Rasco From RIF this week - go check it out!

*At the time of the book's printing, there were 91 kakapo left. I see now from the Kakapo Recovery Programme website that there are over 100 birds living now!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

BEA Bound

I apologize to those readers not going to BEA (because I know how much that twinges - I went through it last year, which is why I made plans to attend BEA this year), but I'm going to take a minute here and send a shout-out to bloggers who are going to BEA next week. (If you're not able to come to BEA this year, do check out Armchair BEA!)

I will be there. Who else will be there? Can we arrange to get together?

ETA: I guess another good question to ask is how can we get in touch at the conference? I'm not going to post my phone number to the entire interwebs, but if you want my cell# so you can shoot me a text or something at the conference, just let me know! 

I now know that I was ridiculous when I attended the ALA Exhibits last year and I was all like "Hey, come find me! I'll be at the exhibits!". It was huge! And there's no way you could just FIND someone. (Although I did run into GreenBean TeenQueen and Wendy of Six Boxes of Books and I spotted Susan of Booklights from afar.) I'm still trying to work out some kind of feathered tiara or something so that I will be instantly recognizable.

I can tell you that I get into NYC Tuesday afternoon and I leave Thursday afternoon, so it'll be a whirlwind trip for me. (I'm so bummed to miss Book Blogger Con, I can't even tell you... but I bought  plane tickets before it was announced. Next year I will plan for it!) I am planning on attending Wednesday night's KidLit Drink Night and I believe my traveling companions and I will be hitting up Books of Wonder at some point.

(By the way, my traveling companions are Jen of NerdGirlBlogging and Kelly and Kimberly of Stacked.)

This is my first time attending BEA and I'm super excited. Drop me a comment if you're going to be there and let's figure out when/where we can meet up!

Don't Miss the Summer Blog Blast Tour

Check out this fabulous schedule of author interviews up at Chasing Ray: Summer Blog Blast Tour!

In My Mailbox #33

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. Head on over there to check out what bloggers got in their mailboxes this week.

This week, I got a very cute package:

Hmm... What could be in this very strangely shaped box, I wondered...

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka and Francesco Sedita, illustrated by Shane Prigmore. (Simon & Schuster's Children's Publishing, June 2010).

Summary from ARC:

The first day at a new school, in a new town, with new kids. Can Michael K's life get any weirder? Yes. It can. Much, MUCH weirder. How? 

1. Take three aliens (disguised as two fifth graders and the class hamster) who talk like walking advertisements. 

2. Add their mission to convince 3.14 million kids to say they are SPHDZ (or else Earth gets turned off). 

3. Mix in that they are sure Michael K. is the only one who can help!

And yep, Michael K.'s life is now officially, totally, completely weirder. (And this is just the first book.)

This looks very funny and I love me some Scieszka, so I'm excited to dive into it!

And that's it for my mailbox... did anything good come in your mailbox this week?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Around the interwebs

Lots of great links for y'all this week...
The official announcement of the 48-Hour Book Challenge!!! I'll be participating, how 'bout you??  

Children's nonfiction using Wikipedia as a source? No, thank you says Jennie of Biblio File. I agree that Wikipedia has its place, and its place is not as a source for nonfiction.

I don't know where I was while Neil Gaiman was being criticized for his hefty speaking fee, but he's got somethin' to say about it on his blog. If you missed it, too, check it out. Thanks to A Fuse #8 Production for the link.

Not everyone thinks that kids should be reading graphic novels. I know I've heard more than one teacher telling students to check out "real books" instead. Shannon Hale's got 10 reasons why kids should read graphic novels. Thanks to Confessions of a Bibliovore for the link.

Here's a little peek inside the making of the book Shark Vs. Train. (If you haven't checked out Shark Vs. Train, DO IT. It is awesome!)

You know you're a reader when... reminds us to fit reading into our days in any way possible. Thanks to The Reading Zone for the link.

And last, but certainly not least, Amanda at A Patchwork of Books is giving away a pile of books in celebration of her wedding anniversary.  Happy Anniversary, dear!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oh, by the way

I've got a post up on the ALSC Blog about my After School Adventures program. I know, I know - your head is going to explode if you think about anything other than SUMMER READING CLUB. But autumn will come again. Best to be prepared, eh?

(Coming soon: a post about just what all goes into planning a Summer Reading Club.)

Who Knows You Blog?

Sarah of GreenBean TeenQueen asked the question, "Who knows you blog?" and it got me thinking about blogging and professional development.

Lots of people know I blog. In fact, I think pretty much everyone in my personal life that I'm even somewhat close to knows I blog. My coworkers all know I blog and when I applied for the job I have now, I put my blog on my resume because I see my blog as a professional development tool.

Of course, my blog's a social tool as well and I've so enjoyed being a part of this wonderful community. But I think that with the growing popularity of social media tools in libraries, a well-maintained blog can be an asset in the job hunt. Here's why:

1. It shows off your social media/technical skills. Facebook and Twitter are hot. The better your skills with social media, computers, web design, etc., the more marketable you are. Social media's not going anywhere and many libraries have yet to jump on the bandwagon. You could be the one that takes them there!

2. If you review books, it shows that you're keeping up with what's being published. Bonus points if your reviews show that you can summarize a plot (good for booktalking) and you know what audience to which you'd recommend a book (good for readers' advisory).

3. Think of your blog as an extended version of your cover letter. The cover letter aims to explain why you should get a job in one page (or less). Your blog can be a place to show off the successful programs that you've done (or show what you've learned from unsuccessful programs). If you're still in school, your blog could be a place to share some of the projects you've worked on or programs you'd like to try someday. Or maybe you've read some articles on which you have opinions or you want to discuss what you're learning in your classes.

There are definitely a few things to watch out for if you're going to put your blog on your resume.

MAKE SURE YOUR WRITING IS PROFESSIONAL. I don't mean that it's of professional quality (though keeping a blog is a great way to practice your writing). I mean that you're not ranting about your unfair professor, posting pictures of the wild librarian party you went to last weekend, or posting private information about patrons. Remember that your Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media outlets you have should also be professional. If, in a fit of despair, you Tweet about how this is the worst day of your life, know that your boss (or potential boss) may be reading!

Your writing and the design of your blog are going to reflect on you. Make sure to proofread your posts before uploading them and make sure your blog layout is easy to read. Think about what you want potential employers to get out of reading your blog. Do you want them to see the programs you've done? Are you particularly proud of a certain post? Create links to these posts or sections and put them in an obvious spot near the top of your page. You can always rearrange after you get the job, but make sure the content you want them to find is in a place where they'll easily find it.

Be aware, also, that your potential new boss may not have the same feelings about blogs as you do. He or she may object to you posting something identifying which library you work at, for example. He or she may even ask you to take down certain posts. And would a library administrator reject you for a job because you blog? I don't know, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility completely. You'll have to decide what you're willing to compromise on and what risks you're willing to take. 

Of course, "going public" with your blog isn't for everyone. Should you include your blog on your resume? Well, that's up to you.

What do you think? Anyone else include your blog on your resume?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: Sit-In

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. (Grades 2-5.) Little Brown, 2010. Copy purchased from a lovely indie in Georgia: Little Shop of Stories.

This title has been nominated for the Cybils Award in Nonfiction Picture Books.  This review reflects my opinion, not necessarily the opinion of the nominating panel.

It was February 1, 1960 and the sign said WHITES ONLY, but four friends were tired of WHITES ONLY. Four friends decided to take a stand. They took a stand by sitting down at the Woolworth's lunch counter. David, Joseph, Franklin, and Ezell sat at the counter and asked to be served. And when they weren't served, they sat. Peacefully. Following the word of Dr. Martin Luther King who urged people to rise up in peaceful protest to fight for civil rights.

With lyrical prose and bright illustrations, husband-and-wife team Andrea and Brian Pinkney present the story of the Greensboro, NC sit-ins and all the sit-ins that happened across the nation until segregation was overturned and blacks and whites could sit at Woolworth's and eat lunch together.

This is an inspiring story with an uplifting tone - even in the face of hate, the students who sat at lunch counters were peaceful. They didn't fight back when protesters hurled angry words and coffee at them. These students, both black and white, concentrated on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King which are sprinkled throughout the text.

This is an important story and it's told in an accessible way, great for sharing with elementary students. Sections in the back of the book give additional information about Civil Rights and the sit-ins. A Civil Rights Timeline lays out events from 1954's Brown vs. Board of Education ruling to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And another spread at the end of the book gives additional facts about the sit-ins, including a photograph of some of the friends who started them.

The illustrations match really well with the tone of the book. The bright yellows, blues, and greens exude a hopeful feeling, just like the text of the book.

All in all, it's a beautiful book that'll add much to studies of Civil Rights and history. This is an important story that we should share with kids and Sit-In provides an accessible way to do so.

Check out this video of Andrea and Brian Pinkney talking about their book:

Read more reviews at Carol's Corner and Shelf Awareness.

Sit-In is on shelves now!

It's Nonfiction Monday! Head on over to Picture Book of the Day for the roundup!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

In My Mailbox #32

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. Head on over there to see what books showed up in bloggers' mailboxes this week!

Here's what my mailbox held for me this week:

The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, May 2010). I loved Tracking Trash, so I've been looking forward to this one for awhile.

How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, May 2010).

Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country) by Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, April 2010).

Paper Daughter by Jeanette Ingold (Houghton Mifflin, April 2010).

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Houghton Mifflin, April 2010).

The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry (Houghton Mifflin, April, 2010).

Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado (Putnam, April 2010).

For the Win by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen, May 2010).

And that was my mailbox! Did you get anything awesome in your mailbox?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Around the interwebs

So, there was this article in the Huffington Post: Faking Nice in the Blogosphere: Women and Book Reviews. And Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy has a response and a good collection of response posts from around the blogosphere. I don't really have anything to say about it except that it's my frakkin' blog, no one pays me to do it, and I'll write what I want. And, in fact, one of the reasons that I do not review books professionally is that I prefer to concentrate on buzz for good books rather than critical reviews of bad books. (Who wants to finish a bad book anyway? I mostly put them down...) And I don't give a hoot what Sarah McCarry thinks about that.

Who else is in the midst of Summer Reading Club visits to schools? Empathize or share ideas at the YALSA Blog (Summer Reading School Visits) and the ALSC Blog (Count Down to Summer Reading: School Visits). All I'm gonna say is that as of the time of this posting, we've got 3 down, 12 to go.

Travis of 100 Scope Notes pointed me to a post about dangerous statements for librarians to make. It's aimed at school media folk, but ALL librarians should take a look. Check it out. If you find yourself making any of the statements on the list, it might be time for a priority shift. We librarians (and probably most people reading this blog) know exactly why everyone should use the library and budgets should not be cut. The rest of the world has to be convinced.

Speaking of Travis, he's challenging us to post nontraditional book reviews for the Nonfiction Monday he's hosting on May 24. My thinking cap is officially on!

And that's all I've got for you this week - happy weekend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Serving Homeschoolers: Join the Listservs!

Want a free and easy way to connect with homeschoolers in your area, promote your programs, and get ideas for collection development? Join your local homeschooler listservs.

There is a large population of homeschooling families in my community and we've started to build up our services for them. We've started offering programming for them and I'm adding more homeschooling materials to our Parent/Teacher Shelves.One thing that has been extremely valuable to me in terms of helping me serve this population: homeschooler listservs.

I subscribed to the Indiana Homeschoolers Yahoo! Group and the more localized Hoosier Homeschool Network originally so I could promote our programs on their listservs. But I've found many unexpected benefits to keeping up with these listservs as well...

First of all, it makes me a part of their community. They're hearing from me at least once or twice a month when I post about our monthly homeschooler program. In my emails to the listserv, I always include my contact information and try to encourage parents to contact me with any questions they have. And it allows me to be part of their conversation. If I see a question about resources on a certain topic, I can chime in and let them know what the library has to offer.

What I'm hoping is that this makes me a "real person" to them, as opposed to THE LIBRARY, this faceless (possibly intimidating) building. You might feel uncomfortable going to THE LIBRARY to ask a question when you've never been there and don't quite know what you're doing. But hey, I'm not THE LIBRARY. I'm your friend Abby and I'm happy to help you.

Keeping an eye on the listservs also helps me stay on top of what programs other libraries and organizations are offering for homeschoolers. I might get some ideas for programs I want to offer at my library! Or if I want to connect with other librarians offering services for homeschoolers (to ask questions, to collaborate on something, etc.), I now have some contacts.

And these emails help me with collection development, as well. Often, parents who have newly decided to homeschool will ask for help and other families chime in with their favorite guides, books, and more. If I see a book recommendation come across on the listservs, I'll check it out and see if I want to add it to our collection.

Now, I don't always have time to pore over every single email from the listservs, but I at least skim the message topics (I get the listservs in a digest format, so just one email a day). And I try to read the full messages as often as I can.

Why not? It's a free and easy way to connect with homeschoolers (who are, in many cases, heavy library users!). You can find many local homeschool groups on Local and Homeschooling. Go sign up today!

PS: It is a really good idea to at least be aware of the homeschooling support groups in your area so you have information to give parents who may be considering homeschooling and might need some information.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Will Grayson made me do it

I wasn't kidding when I said that reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson made me put a bunch of David Levithan's books on hold at the library. I respectfully submit this afternoon's library haul as evidence:

21 Proms by many authors, including David Levithan (and John Green)
How They Met: And Other Stories
Wide Awake
Love is the Higher Law
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

(I've already read Boy Meets Boy.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. (Grades 9+) Dutton, April 2010. Copy purchased from my favorite local indie bookstore - Carmichael's

Will Grayson is a small nondescript planet orbiting around the sun of his best friend, Tiny Cooper, a 300-pound gay football player. Will has two rules by which he lives his life: 1) don't care too much and 2) shut up. Will thinks he can get by as long as he follows his rules. The problem? It's not much of a life Will's leading... Maybe the rules need to be changed...

will grayson is depressed. his only "friend" is a somewhat annoying girl named maura who wants to hook up with him, but... will's gay. he can't tell her that, so he keeps on swallowing his pills, complaining about the world, and waiting for isaac to come online each night so he can come alive. isaac is the light in will's world. they've never met, but will lives for their online conversations. when isaac suggests that they meet, will is thrilled... but things don't turn out like will had planned.

One fateful night in the city of Chicago, everything having gone wrong for both Will Graysons, the two of them will meet. And nothing will ever be the same.

Internet, can I tell you a confession?

I like John Green the person more than I like John Green's actual books. And, though I continue to read his books because he is adorable, I'm just not that into them. There are notable exceptions, though, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one of those exceptions.

Internet, I loved it!

With two YA powerhouses at the helm, it's hard to see how they could have gone off course. The book's compulsively readable and both Will Graysons undergo a great deal of character development. In fact, each Will Grayson is getting to know himself, something that most teens can identify with. And now that I think about it, I think both Will Graysons are learning some of the same things - learning to stand up for himself, learning to take risks, learning to define himself in the context of friendships, and learning not to blame the world for not meeting his own expectations. They're both learning all of these things, but in different ways, on different paths.

I guess I wish that Green's Will Grayson had been a little more fleshed out. I kept waiting to find out what had happened that was so terrible that he forced himself not to become attached to anyone. But maybe that's not the point. Maybe it wasn't something terrible that happened, but just all the little disappointments that pave one's life and really get to you when you're prone to angst (as some teens people are).

It's a book that I didn't want to put down, a book that I couldn't wait to pick up again (when I had to put it down... y'know, like to go to work and stuff). And that's pretty much all I ask for in a book. Will Green and Levithan team up again? One can only hope...

(Oh, and it's worth mentioning that I liked Levithan's part so much that I immediately requested 4 of Levithan's books from my local library. I have read some of his, but I need to get caught up!)

(It is also worth mentioning that if Hold Me Closer was an actual musical, I would so go see it.)

More reviews: Libri Delectio, Voracious YAppetite, and Stacked (among others). 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is on shelves now!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: Eco Mazes

EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures by Roxie Munro. (Grades 1-5.) Sterling Press, April 2010. Review copy provided by publisher.

One thing you learn quickly when you're a children's librarian: kids love to search for things. I defy you to keep I Spy books on the shelves (actually, I will tell you how to do that: hide them in the 700s). So EcoMazes, with a maze for each biome and the challenge to find animals of that habitat hidden in each spread, has built-in kid appeal. While it doesn't include a TON of information on these biomes, it will spice up the topic. EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures is a great book to have in classroom libraries if you do a unit on biomes.

The following biomes are covered: tropical rainforest, desert, coral reef, alpine high mountain, arctic polar, wetlands, tundra, grasslands, antarctic polar, savanna, conifer forest, and temperate forest. Each biome gets a spread with a maze and several animals to seek and find. The second half of the book revisits each spread with the answers to the maze and search and a couple of paragraphs of information about the habitat.

The book gets points for kid-appeal and for the variety of biomes included, but I am not a huge fan of the layout. For one thing, on the spreads where you're searching for animals, there are no identifying pictures included in the list of what you're looking for. You can tell me to look for a caiman, but if I have no idea what a caiman is, how can I find it?

Another problem is that the bulk of the actual information is included in the second half of the book with the answer keys. I don't see many kids pausing to read through those hidden paragraphs. I wish the information had been integrated with the mazes in some way. I also wish that maps had been included showing me where in the world these biomes can be found.

When combined with other books in a unit on biomes, these flaws may be less of an issue.

Read more reviews at Sage and Savvy and Booking Mama.

EcoMazes is on shelves now!

And today's Nonfiction Monday! Bookends has the round-up. Make sure you check it out.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

In My Mailbox #31

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Head on over there to see what bloggers got in their mailboxes this week!

And here's what I got this week:

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, May 2010).
Summary from ARC:

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and much-adored local priest Mark D. Brendan, agrees to act as her personal mentor. But when Father Mark's enthusiasm for Olivia's writing develops into something more, Olivia's emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can Olivia get out of it? 

And that's it! Just the one book this week and it looks like a good one. Kelly at Stacked already read it and said that it's a story she won't forget

Did you get anything special in the mail this week?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

AudioSynced - April Roundup!

Don't miss the April AudioSynced Roundup over at Stacked! Kelly's collected some fabulous audiobook news and reviews this month. Didn't review an audiobook in April? Don't worry - I'll have another round-up right here on June 1.

Now available: Dark Life

Hey guys, remember how much I loved Dark Life by Kat Falls? Well, it comes out today, so get thee to a bookseller (or a library, of course)!

Intricate speculative world, nonstop action, great characters... what more could you want?

And check out this interview with Ms. Falls on Scholastic's blog: