Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Give the Gift of Reading

Last week, I did a presentation for my mom's women's group on great books to buy for kids this holiday season! I did brief booktalks for over 30 books that I love for kids of various ages. A lot of them are new this year, though some of them are favorites published within the last 10 years. I had a great audience of women who love and value reading, so it was a really fun program to do. Want to know my gift-giving choices? Here's my list:

(ETA: If the doc below looks like letters are missing, I have no idea why or what to do about it! Apologies!)

Give the Gift of Reading

(The list is embedded using Scridb. If you're viewing this in a blog reader, you may need to click through to see it. If you're not able to view it and would like a copy, shoot me an email and I'm happy to send it.)

A couple of notes about this list:

- I was asked to concentrate on picture books/easy readers and tweens, particularly boys.
- I included the Carl and Fancy Nancy readers to show my audience that some of kids' beloved picture books are also available as readers.
- I tried to include a fairly wide range of price-points, so you'll find some great stocking stuffers, as well as more expensive gift books.

And, of course, if you need more gift-giving ideas this holiday season, check out my Twelve Days of Giving (2009) and Twelve Days of Giving (2008), as well as MotherReader's Ways to Give a Book.

Monday, November 28, 2011

2012-2013 YHBA Picture Book Nominees

As promised, here's the list of 2012-2013 Young Hoosier Book Award Picture Book Nominees. Links go to my reviews & I've provided links to GoodReads, also. Here's a printer friendly list: 2012-2013 YHBA Nominees (please note: the first version on the ILF website and the copies distributed at the ILF Conference were missing three titles from the Middle Grade Category. This is the complete list).

2012-2013 Young Hoosier Book Award Picture Book Nominees

Art and Max by David Wiesner (GoodReads)

Chalk by Bill Thompson (GoodReads)

Chicken Big by Keith Graves (GoodReads)

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems (GoodReads)

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candice Fleming (GoodReads)

Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott (GoodReads)

Flora's Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall (GoodReads)

Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka (GoodReads)

Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter (GoodReads)

How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships by Steve Jenkins (GoodReads)

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (GoodReads)

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker (GoodReads)

Lots of Spots by Lois Ehlert (GoodReads)

My Garden by Kevin Henkes (GoodReads)

A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black (GoodReads)

Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy (GoodReads)

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton (GoodReads)

Stanza by Jill Esbaum (GoodReads)

Thank You, Miss Doover by Robin Pulver (GoodReads)

Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World's Smartest Horse by Emily Arnold McCully (GoodReads)


What do you think about this list? What titles should be considered for next year's list? Check out the criteria and nominate a title today!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reminder: AudioSynced!

HEY, don't forget that your AudioSynced Roundup is going to be right here at Abby the Librarian on December 1! If you listened to some audiobooks during your holiday road trips (or any other time during November!), write up a review or post and drop me a link so I can include it in the roundup. You can leave your link in the comments here or email me at abbylibrarian@gmail.com.

Didn't get to listen to any audiobooks this month? Neverfear - Kelly will have another roundup at Stacked next month.

Friday, November 25, 2011

2012-2013 YHBA Intermediate Nominees

As promised, here's the list of 2012-2013 Young Hoosier Book Award Intermediate Nominees. Links go to my reviews & I've provided links to GoodReads, also. Here's a printer friendly list: 2012-2013 YHBA Nominees (please note: the first version on the ILF website and the copies distributed at the ILF Conference were missing three titles from the Middle Grade Category. This is the complete list).

2012-2013 Young Hoosier Book Award Intermediate Nominees

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (GoodReads)

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett (GoodReads)

Crunch by Leslie Connor (GoodReads)

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman (GoodReads)

Eggs Over Evie by Alison Jackson (GoodReads)

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein (GoodReads)

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor (GoodReads)

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn (GoodReads)

Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859: A Tale of the Old West by Avi (GoodReads)

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery (GoodReads)

Kubla Khan: The Emperor of Everything by Kathleen Krull (GoodReads)

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur (GoodReads)

Nic Bishop Lizards by Nic Bishop (GoodReads)

Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz (GoodReads)

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (GoodReads)

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Cullerton Johnson (GoodReads)

Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins (GoodReads)

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (GoodReads)

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord (GoodReads)

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm (GoodReads)


What do you think about this list? What titles should be considered for next year's list? Check out the criteria and nominate a title today!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today is Thanksgiving in America, a day when we take a look at our lives and give thanks for the things we have. So, here are a few things I am thankful for:

- I'm thankful for my wonderful family and I'm thankful that I live close to them. After several years of traveling for the holidays, it's so nice not to have to travel to be with them!

- I'm thankful for a wonderful job and wonderful coworkers and employees who make each day a joy. I'm supremely lucky to have found a profession I love, a professional filled with people so passionate about what they do.

- I'm thankful for the support and friendship of the blog community. My life's been so enriched by this blog, I can't even tell you. I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it, so again, I'm thankful to have found a hobby/calling that is rewarding and has lead to some great friendships.

- I'm thankful for my choir. Again, this is something that has enriched my life greatly. I'd forgotten how much I love to make music until some coworkers badgered me into joining this group (so glad they did!).

And there are millions of other things I'm thankful for (like this book and this book and this book and this book and this book). But that's enough blogging: it's time to start cooking!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Your Radar: December

December's comin' right up, bringing with it the following books! (This list was culled from PW's On-Sale Calendar and my Baker & Taylor Carts.) And hey, for a glimpse at some great titles coming out this winter, check out Travis's post at 100 Scope Notes: 10 to Note: Winter Preview.


Beauty and the Beast by Jan Brett (December 8) - This is a rerelease of a 1989 title.

A Giant Crush by Gennifer Choldenko (December 22) - A new picture book by the author of Al Capone Does My Shirts.

Abe Lincoln at Last! (Magic Tree House #47) by Mary Pope Osborne (December 27).

Plant a Kiss by Amy Kraus Rosenthal (December 27).


Witch and Wizard: The Fire by James Patterson (December 5).

The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (December 6).

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (December 27).

What other December releases are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Audiobook Review: Like the Willow Tree

Dear America: Like the Willow Tree: Portland, Maine, 1918 by Lois Lowry, read by Sara Barnett. Grades 3-6. Scholastic Audiobooks, 2011. 4 hours 17 minutes. Review copy provided by my local library.

In 1918, the influenza epidemic took both of Lydia's parents, leaving her and her brother with no place to go except for the nearby Shaker community of Sabbathday Lake. Grieving her family and struggling to adjust to the Shakers' different way of life, Lydia wonders if she'll ever fit in.

Dear America. Honestly, I've avoided reading the books for a long time, even though they're super popular and I'm always recommending them to kids who have to read historical fiction. It wasn't until an adult patron exclaimed to me how fabulous the books were that I felt like I should give them a real chance. And now I'm kicking myself, wondering why it took me so long!

It's important to stress to kids that these books are fiction because, frankly, Like the Willow Tree could just as easily have been a real diary. Facts about the time period and events are woven seamlessly into the narrative and bring the place and time to life. At the end, I had to remind myself that Lydia wasn't a real girl. The plot was well-crafted, as starting life at the Shaker village gave Lydia a solid reason for writing about Shaker customs and beliefs as she learned them. The one thing missing is an author's note, an especially painful omission since the book is so realistic and it will be easy for kids to assume that this is an actual historic diary.

ETA: A helpful commenter pointed out that the printed version does have a historical note! Now I'm wondering if I might have stopped the audiobook too soon and missed it. -- 11/23/11

Narrator Sara Barnett was well-chosen for this role. She reads with a girlish inflection that is totally appropriate for an 11-year-old's diary and it adds to the authenticity of the audiobook. The book is read straight, not voiced at all, but again, that makes perfect sense for a diary. The pacing is nice and even and it's read clearly. I have respect for any narrator who sings snippets of songs in her book and Ms. Barnett is up to the challenge, singing the included Shaker songs in a high, clear voice. The music helps bring Shaker culture to life and choral music at the beginning and end of the audiobook help set the tone. I am definitely hoping that Ms. Barnett will continue creating children's audiobooks.

So, if you've been avoiding the Dear America books for some reason, I urge you to stop it right now and give this book a try. Recommend the series to your young readers looking for historical fiction (but be sure and emphasize that they are FICTION, not real diaries).

Like the Willow Tree is on shelves now.

Hey, I'm an Audible affiliate, so if you purchase things after clicking on the links here, I may get a small commission. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

2012-2013 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominees!!

This year, I had the privilege of joining a really awesome committee of librarians to work on the 2012-2013 Young Hoosier Book Award nominee list. And now, I'm proud to present to you the YHBA nominee lists! There are three lists put out every year: picture book, intermediate, and middle grades. Participating schools encourage kids to read books on the list and vote for their favorites. I'm going to do a separate post for each list and since I am serving on the Middle Grade Committee, I'm gonna start with that one!

Links go to my reviews & I've provided links to GoodReads, also. Here's a printer friendly list: 2012-2013 YHBA Nominees (please note: the first version on the ILF website and the copies distributed at the ILF Conference were missing three titles from the Middle Grade Category. This is the complete list).

2012-2013 Young Hoosier Book Award Middle Grade Nominees

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (GoodReads)

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick (GoodReads)

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins (GoodReads)

Borrowed Names: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie and Their Daughters by Jeannine Atkins (GoodReads)

The Crossing: How George Washington Saved the American Revolution by Jim Murphy (GoodReads)

Crunch by Leslie Connor (GoodReads)

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan (GoodReads)

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (GoodReads)

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson (GoodReads)

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel (GoodReads)

Happenstance Found by P.W. Cantanese (GoodReads)

The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns (GoodReads)

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Parker (GoodReads)

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by W. Rodman Philbrick (GoodReads)

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (GoodReads)

The Search for WondLa by Tony Diterlizzi (GoodReads)

Slob by Ellen Potter (GoodReads)

Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan (GoodReads)

Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz by Eva Moses Kor and Lisa Buccieri (GoodReads)

Virals by Kathy Reichs (GoodReads)


So, what do you think of our list? Have any titles that you think should be considered for next year's list? Check out the criteria and nominate a title today!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Around the Interwebs

It's been a crazy week with the ILF Annual Conference on Tuesday & Wednesday, but it's about time I do another roundup of awesome stuff from around the web:

What happens when a school library goes digital and gets rid of most of their books? For Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, it was a positive change. Thanks to Eli for the link.

Summer's posting about Muslim teens in YA Lit over at The Hub and more are suggested in the comments. Got any more to add to her list?

Circulating iPads to young children... Yep, the Darien Library is doing it and Kiera has all the info over at the ALSC Blog.

Over at the YALSA Blog, Gretchen's got the scoop on doing NaNoWriMo programming for teens and adults at your library.

The Labnsdowne Public Library's going over the moon with Oreos - a great moon program to remember for next summer!

And if you're starting to think about next summer, don't miss the California Library Association's program ideas for Summer 2012, which were recently presented at the CLA Conference. Thanks to Eva for the link.

Flannel Friday's got a Winter/Holiday Extravaganza planned for December 2, so start thinking about your favorite winter/holiday flannels to share!

And speaking of flannelboards, haven't you always wanted to be a Puffy Paint Master?

Hunger Games Jeopardy? YES, PLEASE. Alicia's got great posts about her Hunger Games programs over at The LibrariYAn. File this away for when the movie comes out!

SPEAKING OF HUNGER GAMES (if you're viewing this in a blog reader, you may need to click through):

What do you think about the Hunger Games trailer? Me, I know some things are going to be different than I pictured but I'm trying really hard to let all that go and just enjoy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Look Back at Fall Storytime

And Fall Storytime has come to an end... Let's take a look back at what we did!

Usually our storytime series lasts 6-8 weeks, but this fall we only held storytime for 4 weeks because I had a full-timer out on maternity leave earlier in the fall and this was all we could handle. It ended up being absolutely fine. I'm sure there were some patrons who would have liked it to go on longer, but I had at least one patron tell me she liked the shorter series because it was less of a commitment. I also feel like our attendance week to week was up, though our total registration wasn't quite as high as it has reached by the end of the series in the past. So, we didn't have quite as many signed up, but the people who signed up actually showed up. 

Due to the aforementioned short-staffed-ness, we also only offered four class times: 
  • Mondays at 11:00am
  • Tuesdays at 7:00pm
  • Wednesdays at 1:00pm
  • Thursdays at 11:00am
This time around, our evening class was actually pretty well attended, but our afternoon class was very small. I'd still like to try out a 4:00 afternoon session, but we'll see about that in the spring. We've also been talking about adding a new weekly drop-in program for ages 3-5, possibly a music & movement class. We're still very much in the planning stages of that right now. 

Our storytime logistics were basically the same as our spring storytime series. I started and ended with the same songs each week. I did the Memory Box each week. The take-home crafts continue to be awesome and loved by patrons and staff alike. This time around, we used the following themes: 
Something else I'd like to try next time is to designate one week as "Librarian's Favorites" and ask each of my storytime presenters to put together a storytime with some of their favorite readalouds. We're always doing themes because it's what our patrons expect and what we're used to, but I'd like to stretch my staff to think outside the theme. 

We'll offer preschool storytime in the spring, although I'm really thinking now about doing three 4-week storytime series instead of two longer (6-8 week) series. I can't add a winter series this year, though, because I have promised my staff that we're taking January completely off from programming. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crossover: All Men of Genius

All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen. Grades 9+ [adult, with high crossover appeal]. Tor, September 2011. 462 pages. Review copy provided by my local library.

Scientific genius Violet Adams wants nothing more than admission to Illyria College, Victorian London's most prestigious science academy. The problem? They don't admit women. So Violet disguises herself as her twin brother Ashton and gains admission, but it won't be easy to keep her secret while fending off advances from the Duke of Illyria's young cousin and dodging killer automata in the labyrinthine basement.

The character of Violet Adams drew me into this story and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with her. At 17, Violet longs to be taken seriously. She wants scientific debate, not pretty flowers. She wants to test out her inventions, not to test out different hairstyles. And whenever Violet feels like someone's not taking her seriously, she gets seriously offended. She's feisty and she's smart and she's brave, but she's not perfect - certain people see through her disguise with laughable ease and she lets her own indignation get the better of her sometimes.

In addition to Violet, Lev Rosen introduces us to a diverse, well-developed group of supporting characters. Violet's school gang is extremely entertaining, from Jack's experiments on ferrets to Toby's constant quest for a hangover cure (which, of course, requires much consumption at their favorite pub in order to test his prototypes). The reader also gets occasional glimpses into the lives of the Illyria professors and other characters (even a cameo from Dr. Jekyll...).

The tone of the book is light with plenty of humor and some romance woven in among the scientific experiments. The plot's pretty action-packed, including mysterious happenings in the basement of the school, a blackmailing student who somehow discovers more of the group's secrets than is ideal, and enough mad science to fill a school full of laboratories. There's a lot going on and it mostly works, though I think the writing could have been a little bit tighter. I found my interest lagging a tiny bit towards the end, even as the action barreled forward in madcap fashion. However, overall, I really enjoyed this novel and I hope there's more to come from Mr. Rosen.

All Men of Genius is published for adults, but I think it's going to have high crossover appeal with teens who enjoy steampunk. I'd hand it to fans of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, or Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet.

I picked up this book because of Ana and Thea's glowing review over at The Book Smugglers, so make sure you check out their review as well. You also may be interested in Lev Rosen's guest post on queer characters in steampunk over at The Story Siren.

All Men of Genius is on shelves now!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall Storytime: Pizza!

I'm glad lunchtime is right after my storytime because this week's stories definitely made me hungry! This week, we talked about pizza. It was our last week for fall storytime. Generally, our storytime series runs a little longer, but with one of our full-timers out on maternity leave this fall, we cut back. Next week, I'll have a look back over our fall storytimes. But this week, I give you my pizza storytime!

Opening Song: Glad to See You

Memory Box: This week's Memory Box item was a pizza cutter from Pizza at Sally's

Book: Curious George and the Pizza by Margaret Rey & Allen J. Shalleck. Kids love Curious George and this one is short enough to be a readaloud. 

Song: Baking Pizza. I passed out colorful scarves and as we sang this song together, we pretended the scarves were pizza dough. I did it once slowly to teach the kids the motions and then we did it again a little faster and they loved it!

(To the tune of Shortnin' Bread.) 

I can make a pizza! You can, too!
Listen and you'll know just what to do. 

Every little baker loves mixing, mixing
Every little baker loves mixing dough!

Every little baker loves kneading, kneading
Every little baked loves kneading dough!

Every little baker loves tossing, tossing
Every little baker loves tossing dough!

Book: Pizza at Sally's by Monica Wellington. This book goes through the steps of making pizza, from growing tomatoes and making cheese out of milk to baking it to putting it in a box for delivery. The younger siblings in the room got a little squirrelly during this book, but the older kids were into it. After a longer story, we were definitely ready for:

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. I said that since we'd been eating so much pizza this storytime, we needed to do a little exercise and work some of it off. Of course, we sang it regular, fast, and super fast! 

Book: Hi, Pizza Man! by Virginia Walter. This was the runaway hit of the storytime. As different animals (cat, dog, duck, snake, dinosaur, etc.) answer the door with a pizza, we have to greet each one! One of my young listeners said that there should have been a baby at the door one time.
Let's Make a Pizza!
 Felt Activity: Let's Make a Pizza! Super simple. I passed out pieces and when I called out their pieces, kids brought them up and we made our own pizza.

Ending Song: 
Do You Know What Time It Is? 

Take-Home Craft:
(What else?) Pizzas. We had some cardboard circles left over from something and we pre-cut pieces so that kids could glue it together and make their own "pizzas". Also included in the packets this week was a recipe for making pizza at home, so maybe some of the parents will try that out.

Alternate Books:

My thing with pizza picture books is that a lot of them tend to be the same thing over and over: the steps to make a pizza. So, pick the one or two that you like best and supplement with something a little different. Here are some books to consider: 

The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philemon Sturges (probably too long to read straight, but I'd paraphrase or make a felt story)
Pete's a Pizza by William Steig 
Pizza Pat by Rita Golden Gelman. We have a felt version of this story that I had waiting in the wings, but I cut storytime a little short this week since the kids were getting antsy.
The Saucy Scoop on Pizza by Catherine Ipcizade. A nice alternative with photo illustrations and some fun facts about pizza. 

You can also find some fun pizza songs and activities at What Happens in Storytime and check out Katie's flannel The Pizza That Sally Made.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Children's Librarian

Here's a day from a couple of weeks ago...!

11:45am - Arrive at work, put stuff away. Chat with staff about how the morning's programs went (one staff person went to visit three classes at a local preschool, another staff member presented preschool storytime at the library).

12:00pm - On desk. After the storytime crowd dissipates, it's pretty slow, so I straighten up the computer headphones and refill displays. While I'm on desk, I help a young patron find books about Chinese characters (we actually had a surprising number of them!).

12:15pm - Check email and realize that several teens have requested to sign up for the Zombie Prom via Facebook, but all the spots are taken. I give the bad news and devise a plan to give out free books to any teen who mentions that they saw me or the Teen Scene on Facebook.

1:30pm - My staff's all back from lunch and meetings and I grab the materials for next week's storytime so we can go over them. We also discuss a few storytime-related items.

2:00pm - I go upstairs to turn in my registration information for ALA Midwinter and discover that the library is going to cover my hotel and airfare in addition to my registration. I'm so thankful to have such a supportive administrative staff at my library! I know I'm quite lucky. :)

2:20pm - I meet with my boss and fill her in on Zombie Prom and various other goings-on.

3:00pm - I'm back in my office, working on music for Zombie Prom. I'm creating mix CDs with fun dance/hanging out music.

4:00pm - Break time!

5:00pm - Back from break, I chat with one of my staff members about things that need to happen to get ready for Zombie Prom. (Zombie Prom is taking over my life at this point...)

5:15 - 8:30pm - On desk. Tonight's a great night for reference questions and I answer the following:

- A homeschooling family just moved to the area and I told them all about our programs, local homeschooling resources, and gave them a tour of the library and my business card so they can contact me with questions or requests any time.

- A request for fractured fairy tales

- A request for what order the Warriors series go in and a list of all the books in each of the series

- A request for appealing nonfiction for a boy whose teacher told him to branch out into reading nonfiction. I gave him How to Survive Being Lost at Sea (and others in that series), You Wouldn't Want to Be on the Hindenburg (and let him know there are many others in that series if he liked that one), Aliens and UFOs... And his sister grabbed Life-Size Zoo and Exploding Ants from the pile I had pulled.

- Help with getting on a computer to type homework

- A question about our preschool storytimes and request for information about local moms' groups and homeschooling groups

8:15pm - Time to start closing up. I turn off computer monitors, shut down our print kiosk and computer admin program. I straighten everything, pick up stray books, and refill displays.

8:30pm - We shut down the library, lock everything up, and head home!

Monday, November 7, 2011

America is Under Attack

America is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown. Grades 3-6. August 2011. Unpaged. Review copy provided by my local library.

We all know that life in America changed on September 11, but the fact is that many of the kids we're working with now weren't born or were too young to remember September 11. We just marked the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks, so any kid under 10 years old wasn't around when it happened. They certainly have questions about it and America is Under Attack is going to provide many of the answers they're looking for.

It starts with a clear blue day in September and goes on to present the events of the day chronologically. The book concentrates on the World Trade Center attacks, but Don Brown also devotes spreads to the attack on the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93. He describes in detail the actions of people in and around the Twin Towers at the planes hit and the towers collapsed. His illustrations put the reader inside the buildings as the plane hits and on the ground with the firefighters as they run in on rescue missions. The text matches perfectly with the illustrations, connecting the events of the attacks with real stories of everyday heroes that flow together to create one organic picture of what happened. And the beauty is that this is all done on a child-friendly level.

Yes, many of the people we are introduced to did not survive (as we find out at the end), but the tragedy isn't emphasized in this tragic event. Instead, Mr. Brown emphasizes the heroic actions of regular people and how people came together to help one another that day.

The book deals squarely with the events on September 11, 2001 and only an afterword gives information on the aftermath of the attacks. Mr. Brown dedicates the book to the 15 people from his hometown of Merrick, NY who lost their lives that day and he lists them by name. The book also includes a bibliography and source notes.

This is an example of superb children's nonfiction and it's a great introduction for any child who's curious about what happened on that day.

Read more reviews at 100 Scope Notes, The Nonfiction Detectives, and Wizards Wireless (including her 7-year-old's reaction to the book).

America is Under Attack is on shelves now!

Happy Nonfiction Monday! This week's roundup is over at Charlotte's Library, so go check it out!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall Storytime: Fruit Salad

This week, we had a fruit salad storytime! Here's what I did:

Opening Song: Glad to See You

Memory Box: This week's Memory Box item was a spoon from The Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood.

Book: Gladys Goes Out to Lunch by Derek Anderson. At the zoo, Gladys eats bananas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One day she smells something amazing and goes in search of what food it might be. Is it pizza? No. Is it ice cream? No. It's banana bread! The large, colorful pictures make this one perfect for sharing and my group definitely dug it.

Book: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood. Definitely one of my storytime favorites and a favorite of the kids as well.

Felt: Five Red Strawberries (idea from Mel's Desk!). Instead of reading the rhyme, I used my mouse puppet to hide the strawberries, asking the kids to help me find the tall, skinny strawberry and the wide strawberry and the unripe strawberry. Although it's something different than we've done in my storytimes, I think the kids got a lot out of it.

You could, of course, also do this rhyme, which is a play on the Five Red Apples rhyme that I've done previously:

Five red strawberries, sweet to the core.
Bear came and ate one and then there were four.

Four red strawberries, sitting in a tree. 
Bear came and ate one and then there were three. 

Three red strawberries, one for you and you and you.
Bear came and ate one and then there were two. 

Two red strawberries, shining in the sun.
Bear came and ate one and then there was one. 

One red strawberry, left all alone. 
Bear came and ate one and then there was none.

Action Song: Fruit Salad Salsa by Laurie Berkner Band. I just played this song and we did the actions that go along with it (one hand out, shake shake shake, jumping, spinning around). I stopped the song just we went in and out, so I didn't play the whole thing. The kids liked it and one of the moms asked me what the CD was afterwards, so I guess the moms liked it, too!

Book: Jamberry by Bruce Degen. I love the language in this book and I told the kids before we started that we'd have some silly words in this book. Some of the kids were riveted with this one and some were distracted (but I think that the distracted kids would have been distracted by anything, it's not the book's fault!).

Felt Activity: Making fruit salad! I passed out the fruit and told the kids we were going to make our own fruit salad. I sang this song and as I called their fruit, kids were invited to bring it up to the board and put it on there.

(To the tune of Ten Little Indians or The Paw Paw Patch)

Add the strawberries to our fruit salad
Add the strawberries to our fruit salad
Add the strawberries to our fruit salad
Way down yonder in the library!

(Repeat with oranges, bananas, kiwis, and blueberries!)

Book: Little Mouse's Big Secret by Eric Battut. Little Mouse finds an apple and, wanting to have it all to himself, hides it by burying it in the ground behind him. Mouse is still telling everyone that he will NOT tell his secret, even as the apple tree begins to grow up behind him. I just wish the illustrations were a little easier to see, especially when the apple tree sprout is very small.

Ending Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

Take-Home Craft: Fruit Loop activities. I made this one up! Each packet had a fruit card (made from online clipart and printed on cardstock), a little bag of Fruit Loops, and a handout explaining different activities that they could do with their card. For example, they could match the colors of the Fruit Loops to the colors of the fruits on the card. They could line up the right number of Fruit Loops next to each fruit. They could string their Fruit Loops on a length of yarn (great for fine motor skills). And of course, they could eat their Fruit Loops as a snack!

Alternate Books:

If you don't like or don't have any of the above books, here are some others that would fit in fine:

Blueberry Mouse by Alice Low
A New House for Mouse by Petr Horacek
One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
Ten Apples Up on Top by Theo LeSieg (Dr. Seuss)
Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins
Too Many Pears by Valerie French

PS: I will never get "Fruit Salad Salsa" out of my head. Thanks, Laurie Berkner. :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back to Homeschool Party at the ALSC Blog

Today I'm posting over at the ALSC Blog about the Back to Homeschool Party we threw in September and some changes we've made to our Fantastic Friday program for homeschoolers! Please head over there and check it out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You Against Me

You Against Me by Jenny Downham. Grades 9+ David Fickling Books, September 2011. 416 pages. Reviewed from ARC snagged at ALA.

When Mikey's sister is assaulted, he can't contain his anger. He watches Karen cowering in their flat, unable to face the world outside after she was raped and he seethes. He can't rest until he's avenged his family by beating this guy to a pulp.

When Ellie's brother comes under attack, she stands by him. He's her perfect brother, the guy who's always protected her and looked out for her. She can't believe that these terrible accusations are true and she'll do anything she can to help him.

When Mikey and Ellie meet, they each have ulterior motives. Get to know the enemy, find chinks and weaknesses in the case, get details that will help the lawyer... But soon other feelings start to grow and Mikey and Ellie will each have to decide where they stand and how much they're willing to sacrifice for what they believe and what they feel.

This is an engrossing story about love, loyalty, and the shiftiness of truth. It's about finding out who your enemies are and then realizing that your definition of enemy is fluid and subject to change. It's about first love, that overpowering secret that lights you up from the inside.

Once I started reading it, I couldn't put the book down. I have a brother and it made me think about my family and what I would do, what he would do, if any of these events happened to us. But this book is more than a sibling story and I appreciated that the story flowed seamlessly from sibling story to romance to courtroom drama. There's a lot happening, but it all works.

I always tell people about my experience with Jenny Downham's first book Before I Die, a.k.a. The Book That Made Me Cry in the Middle of the Detroit Airport. It was one of those books that felt so real to me that I couldn't help but react to it. You Against Me is like that, too. Mikey and Ellie weren't just characters in a book; they became real to me.

Part of that might be in the language of the book. You Against Me was originally published in England last year, and the British slang and terms remain. While I occasionally had to look up a word to make sure I knew what it was (spanner, for example), I felt like the language helped to create an immediate sense of place.

I utterly believed in Mikey and Ellie's growing love. Their relationship developed steadily and realistically and it was a spot-on portrayal of first love. They both carry around these secret feelings, knowing that their families would freak out if they knew, making their relationship sizzle even while the writing's not graphic.

Of course, a book dealing with this subject matter is not going to be appropriate for all teens. Although there's nothing super graphic, it does talk about the incident and there are instances of drug use.

And one more thing: I just have to say that I dig the cover and LOVE the double meaning in the title.

This was one of my favorite books of 2011, so please don't miss it! You Against Me is on shelves now.