Thursday, November 29, 2012

Afterschool: November

Here's what I did with my Afterschool visits in November!

We read:

Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Scott Campbell. Atheneum, 2011.

The kids LOVE this book and even remembered it from last year and requested that I bring it again. I read this to the group I saw right before Halloween. A zombie, having no luck with the ladies, puts out a personal ad and invites anyone who would like to meet him to show up to the Valentine's Day dance, with hilarious results. The illustrations are slightly creepy and the kids go nuts over it. I only wish the book was a little bigger so they could see the illustrations better. The text is a perfect length for sharing with the afterschool crowd, too. With the popularity of zombies right now*, this is a book that will have wide appeal, even outside its school-age audience.

The Book That Eats People by John Perry, illustrated by Mark Fearing. Tricycle Press, 2009.

This book was suggested as I was collecting ideas for non-Halloween scary picture books and after reading it I decided I had to share it with my group. This was another creepy hit that was perfect for my visit right before Halloween (and, like the zombie title, will have wide appeal after October as well). I made sure to play it up big that I had to be very careful with this book and if they wanted to look at it after we read it, they couldn't have any food on their fingers. ;)

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. Candlewick, 2012.

I think I maybe like this one even better than I Want My Hat Back. Before we started, I asked the kids to look at the cover and tell me what they thought the story was going to be about. After we'd finished, I asked them what they thought happened to the fish who stole a hat (resounding chorus of "HE ATE HIM!!!"). Pair this one with Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Scott Magoon and I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry for a really fun underwater-animals-eating-each-other storytime. :)

For our craft this month, in an effort to do SOMETHING that's not scratch art, we made I-Spy collages. We had volunteers cut up tons of old magazines and catalogs and brought bags full of the pictures and half-sheets of cardstock for the kids to make small collages. We chose to do half-sheets to cut down on the craft time since we usually only leave 15-20 minutes for the craft, but the kids got into it and I think they would have loved to do full sheets. We also brought glue with us. We didn't have enough glue sticks for everyone to have one, so we brought liquid glue bottles and poured out small amounts into coffee filters and gave all the kids q-tips to use to spread the glue. This is a cheap and pretty easy way to do glue with large groups and then we could throw away the coffee filters and q-tips so we didn't have anything messy to pack back up. Glue sticks or glue dots would also work. The kids loved sorting through all the little pictures and picking out ones to add to their collage. They especially liked pictures of animals and of any kind of recognizable characters. This was a fun and cheap craft, definitely one that's going into our roster for the afterschool visits.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2012 (so far)

Or, What Is Up With That PW List??

'Tis the season for the Best Books of 2012 lists, which makes me really happy. I haven't read as much this year as in previous years, so I can definitely use all the help I can get in reading this year's best titles. Publisher's Weekly was one of the first major outlets to publish their "Best Of" lists, which I perused with great excitement...

until I got to the Children's Nonfiction list.

While PW's other children's lists included a large selection of excellent books (11 picture books, 25 middle-grade/YA novels), the Best Children's Nonfiction of 2012 included only 4 books. Now, I have no problem with the books that made their very brief list, but there have been SO MANY other great children's nonfiction books published this year! Here are some awesome children's nonfiction books that did NOT appear on PW's list:

A Black Hole is NOT a Hole by Carolyn Crimini DeCristofano (Charlesbridge). The humorous, conversational tone of this book gives it high kid appeal, helping middle-graders wrap their heads around the mysteries of space.

Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (Flash Point). This National Book Award finalist is an espionage thriller starring physicists, army officers, and spies. It reads like fiction and has back matter that'll make your heart skip a beat (if you are a nerd like me).

Harlem's Little Blackbird by Renée Watson (Random House BFYR). This colorful picture book illustrates the life of Florence Mills, a popular black performer who entertained thousands in the early 1900s. The bright collage illustrations are paired perfectly with the text to bring this young performer to life for young readers.

Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Neverending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy & Alison Bank (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). I'm not kidding when I say that this biography of a disease has changed how I view so many different things. Tuberculosis is ALL OVER THE PLACE in books and movies and I never really paid it any mind until I read this book.

The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books). This collection of letters from top authors is a must for library shelves. It's the type of book that will mean something different for everyone and it's an important contribution to this year's YA nonfiction.

Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by Na Lu and Andrés Vera Martínez (Graphic Universe). This graphic novel memoir introduces children to life in China in the 1970s through stunning, emotional art.

The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity by Elizabeth Rusch (Houghton Mifflin). This is an incredible story of science and perseverance, of problem-solving from millions of miles away. Stunning photographs and fantastic back matter round out the book.

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter (Knopf). Illustrated by my favorite, Melissa Sweet, this book tells the story of Ruth Harkness's journey to bring back America's first panda. I was especially pleased to find a line in the author's note addressing how opinions about taking pandas from China have changed since the 1930s.

Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm (Blue Sky Press). This nonfiction picture book shines a light on the tiny plants that contribute a surprising amount to our ecosystem. The authors present a giant concept in an accessible way.

Superman Versus The Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate by Rick Bowers (National Geographic Children's Books). This fascinating history books weaves two riveting origin stories together: the beginnings of Superman and the development of the Ku Klux Klan.

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery (Houghton Mifflin). This excellent biography of Temple Grandin succeeds in prose and layout, pairing visually appealing photos and sidebars with an interesting story about a largely unsung hero of animals. 

Now, this is a list of my favorite children's and YA nonfiction books of 2012, but I certainly have NOT read everything published this year. Please let me know which of your favorites I may have missed so I can get caught up!

Monday, November 26, 2012

THE 13TH SIGN Preorder Contest!

Welcome to DAY CANCER of 13 Days of THE 13TH SIGN Preorder Contest! 
You guys might remember how much I enjoyed Kristin Tubb's middle grade novel Selling Hope, so I was very excited to find out that she's got a new book coming out! The 13th Sign is coming out in January and here's a synopsis from GoodReads: 
What if there was a 13th zodiac sign?

You’re no longer Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus, the healer, the 13th sign.

Your personality has changed. So has your mom’s and your best friend’s.

What about the rest of the world?

What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change—and infuriating the other 12 signs?

Jalen did it, and now she must use every ounce of her strength and cunning to send the signs back where they belong. Lives, including her own, depend on it.

This is definitely a book I'm looking forward to reading, so I'm happy to participate in the 13 Days of 13 SIGNS preorder contest! 
So. What is this contest all about?
If you preorder a copy of THE 13TH SIGN by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, you will be entered into a contest! Where you can WIN THINGS! And there are new prizes every day!
And. EVERY preorder will be *matched* by a $1.00 donation to RIF, a literacy program committed to placing books in the hands of kids who need them most.
What can I win TODAY?
If you preorder THE 13TH SIGN today, Monday, November 26, you could win:

-key charm
-star-shaped art supplies
-signed THE 13TH SIGN swag
-signed KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger bookmark
-a FREE 1-hour Skype session with a school or writer’s group of your choice
-signed paperback of AUTUMN WINIFRED OLIVER DOES THINGS DIFFERENT by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb
-a 13th SIGN tshirt

How do I enter?
Preorder THE 13TH SIGN! You can preorder it through AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound, or through your local independent bookstore. Then email your receipt TO KRISTIN at You will be entered into that day’s drawing, the grand prize drawing, and your purchase will be *matched* by a $1.00 donation to RIF!
Are there other ways to enter the contest?
Yep! You can be entered into the daily prize drawings by doing one or more of the following:
-Each preorder of THE 13TH SIGN = 10 entries into grand prize drawing and 10 entries into that day’s drawing
- Each person who blogs about the contest = 10 entries into that day’s drawing
-Each person who changes Twitter or Facebook avatar to cover = 5 entries into that day’s drawing (for each day it is present)
-Each Tweet or Facebook status mention of the book and contest = 2 entries for that day’s drawing (must include hashtag #the13thsign)
-Each RT of book and/or contest = 1 entry for that day’s drawing
BUT. You have to preorder THE 13TH SIGN to enter to win the grand prize and to have your purchase matched with a RIF donation.
ALSO. To make sure you get the correct amount of entries, please let Kristin know if you’ve done any of the above! You can email her at with everything you’ve done to enter.
What is the grand prize?
Nexus 7 ereader! BOOM. The grand prize will be given away on Kristin’s blog ( on Friday, December 7th.
How long does the preorder contest last?
13 days total! You can visit these other blogs for each day’s prizes:
DAY ARIES: The Book Vortex
DAY TAURUS: The Housework Can Wait
DAY GEMINI: Magnet 4 Books
DAY CANCER: Abby the Librarian
DAY LEO: Mother Daughter Book Club
DAY VIRGO: S. R. Johannes/Market My Words
DAY LIBRA: Elizabeth O. Dulemba
DAY SCORPIO: Citrus Reads
DAY OPHIUCHUS: Young Adult Books Central
DAY SAGITTARIUS: Bloggers [heart] Books
DAY CAPRICORN: – Middle Grade Mafioso
DAY AQUARIUS: Smack Dab in the Middle
DAY PISCES: From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors
Good luck! And don’t forget to take THE 13TH SIGN quiz!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

AudioSynced is coming up!

Reminder: November's AudioSynced Roundup will be posted here on Saturday! Did you get some listening in during your Thanksgiving travel this weekend or sometime this month? Review those audiobooks and send me a link so I can include it! Leave a link in comments or email to 

Happy listening!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Howie and I thank you for reading. :) 

I'm on a much-needed vacation this week, so Abby the Librarian's taking a short break. To everyone in the States, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. I'm definitely thankful for readers like you that make this whole blogging thing fun and interesting. I'll be back next week!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Look Back at Fall Storytime

Last week was our last week of Fall Storytime, so I want to take a look back at what we did.

Our library has traditionally offered registered storytimes in the spring and the fall. This year, we decided to split our storytimes into three 4-week sessions instead of two 6-week sessions. This was based on feedback from our patrons that it was easier for them to commit to a 4-week session than a 6- or 8-week session and also feedback from my staff that it was more manageable for them to plan and implement two 4-week sessions rather that one longer session.

I think it worked pretty well. We had a lot of the same kids sign up for both sessions, but we also had a handful that were no-shows for the first session, so after 4 weeks other families had a shot to sign up for those sessions. (We always try to get everyone in that wants to come and we very rarely have storytimes where everyone signed up shows up.)

This year, the way the schedule worked out we only had a week in between the sessions. I think it will be a little different next year when we'll have three weeks between the two fall sessions. Even though we asked families to sign up for each session, I know I had mostly repeats in my group and it did kinda feel like an 8-week session with a fall break.

We offered four different class times and families decided which to sign up for and attended at the same time each week. We offered:

  • Mondays at 10:00am
  • Tuesdays at 7:00pm
  • Thursdays at 11:00am
  • Thursdays at 4:30pm
In the spring, I think we will move our second morning session up to 10:00 because we had feedback that that was easier for families trying to fit lunch and naptime in. It's always a hard call because sometimes we have 15 different Head Start classes trying to schedule field trips to the library and all wanting to come at 10:00, but it seems like whenever we try to schedule our programs to accommodate this possibility, none of the Head Start teachers call for field trips.

In the spring, we will probably add another class time since we will FINALLY be back at full staff! Since we moved one of our baby storytimes to Monday afternoons, I think we will probably add a Wednesday morning session, but we'll just see how it goes.

Our evening class was very well-attended this time around and our afternoon class was okay. Hopefully by the spring we will have a better marketing plan in place and more people taking advantage of the programs we're offering.

For our fall sessions, we did storytimes on the following themes:

Session I:
Session II:
As you can see, there's no rhyme or reason to the themes we choose and I'm totally fine with that. I'd rather my staff have the freedom to pick a theme they're interested in and able to find lots of readalouds for than have them constrained to a larger theme. Plus, having a variety helps us ensure that there will be something of interest to everybody.

I asked my staff if they wanted to offer a winter series, but we elected instead to have several special programs (like library dance party and Lego Club) and to create take-home storytime kits while we're on our storytime break. So, goodbye to preschool storytime until the spring!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Grades 8+ St. Martin's Press, February 2013. 320 pages. Reviewed from egalley provided by NetGalley.

It all began on Eleanor's first day at her new school. It began with a bus ride. Anyone who's ridden the bus to school knows that it's a battle ground. It's early and dark and no one wants to give up a seat to themselves. Park was the only one who would move over, so that's where Eleanor sat. Park wasn't even sure why he did it. It's not because Eleanor was pretty, with those weird clothes and frizzy red hair. But it started something. Pretty soon Eleanor was reading his comics over his shoulder when she thought he wouldn't notice. And pretty soon they were both enjoying the same music, Park making mix tapes for her. And pretty soon they were inseparable. But everyone knows that teenage love doesn't last... or does it?

Eleanor & Park is a high stakes love story. Reading it was remembering what it was like to fall in love for the first time, that desperate need to be together, that feeling that somehow this was all going to get taken away the moment you let your guard down. And for Eleanor & Park, there's a lot at stake here, as Rainbow Rowell builds up to a gradual reveal that all is NOT well in Eleanor's world. I don't want to spoil anything, but I'll just say that I think the plot builds on itself really well. The reader gets a sense of what's coming, but that doesn't make it anticlimactic.

We see both Park's and Eleanor's view of this relationship as the narration switches back and forth between them. This book's incredibly character-driven, so it was right up my alley. I love that the reader gets to know both Park and Eleanor so intimately that it feels like they're real people. The book is set in 1986, but the love story is really timeless. Pop culture, music, and technology references place the reader in the time period. The setting will feel retro to teens and pleasingly familiar to adults, and I think it gives this novel a lot of crossover potential.

This is definitely a love story, but it's not what you might think of as a typical romance story. There's a lot of meat to this book. I'd try it on fans of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan or The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. The feel of the book is much different from Rowell's adult novel Attachments, but they're both character-driven and both set in time periods that will have 30-somethings reminiscing.

Eleanor & Park will be on shelves February 26.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Abby's Favorite Books for Baby Gifts

I don't know about you, but my friends seem to be exploding with babies lately. I guess we're just at that age where everyone's starting to have kids, which means that we're at the age to be buying plenty of baby shower gifts (not to mention the upcoming holidays). And what better gift for a children's librarian to give than BOOKS? I've posted a list of some of my favorite baby gift books before, but here are some of my recent favorites.

Babybug Magazine. A perennial favorite of the parents at my library, this magazine is the gift that keeps on giving the whole year. The rhymes and short stories are perfect for sharing with babies and young children and the baby in question will get something in the mail almost every month (9 issues a year).

Clare Beaton's Farmyard Rhymes by Clare Beaton. I love Beaton's beautiful textile illustrations and I love giving nursery rhyme books, so this one is a win-win. Clare Beaton has several other rhyme books, including a Mother Goose collection. All make nice gifts.

Fifteen Animals! by Sandra Boynton. Boynton's books are board book classics - so funny and catchy with cute cartoon animal illustrations. This is definitely one of my favorites with a high dose of humor and plenty of animals.

It's a Little Book by Lane Smith. This book is an especially fitting gift for your bookish friends. Remember the jackass in Lane Smith's It's a Book? Well, the board book version doesn't have any potentially controversial language.

Llama Llama Zippity-Zoom by Anna Dewdney. I love the Llama Llama picture books and they're big hits with kids. These new board books are a great introduction to the Llama Llama character and perfect for sharing with wee ones.

Quiet, Loud by Leslie Patricelli. Leslie Patricelli's super cute illustrations lend themselves well to her series of concept board books. These are books that will grow well with babies as they grow to toddlers and start practicing these concepts.

We Belong Together by Joyce Wan. The kawaii illustrations in Joyce Wan's board books are perfectly paired with adorable similes describing how much baby is loved.

You Are My Sunshine by Caroline Jayne Church. Not only do I love the adorable illustrations (and the shiny cover you probably can't see in this image), but a song book encourages parents to sing with baby, encouraging early literacy skills.

What are some of your favorite books to give as baby gifts?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Becoming a Ballerina

Becoming a Ballerina: A Nutcracker Story by Lise Friedman & Mary Dowdle. Grades 3-6. Viking Juvenile, October 2012. 44 pages. Review copy provided by my local library.

Thirteen-year-old Fiona has been dancing for years, but she's about to take the stage in her first major role - playing Clara in The Nutcracker. Butterflies dance in her stomach as she thinks about her journey to get here: years of work, dancing smaller roles over the past several years, multiple auditions. What if she forgets the steps? What if she falls down? No matter what, the show must go on!

Beautiful, full-color photos and a narrative text take the reader through the whole process, from Fiona's auditions to rehearsals to opening night. Young ballet fans will find much to appreciate here in the story of one girl's journey to the stage, and I especially appreciate that the authors featured a young Japanese-American dancer. Kids who aren't familiar with ballet may still appreciate the story, but occasional undefined ballet terms might throw them for a loop.

This would also be a great book to share with a class or children going to see The Nutcracker. It doesn't go over the plot in detail, but it does give a glimpse of the hard work that leads up to the performance. Fiona talks about how she has to act out everything that's happening because there are no words in the performance. The photos show dancers in various stages of costume, from earlier rehearsals in leotards to dress rehearsals to the performance. There's also talk of the use of props and Fiona practicing to hit the Rat King with her slipper. All of these tidbits would give kids a further insight into the play.

I would have loved to see some back matter - maybe a glossary of ballet terms, a list of ballet books for further reading, or an author's note explaining how they worked with Fiona to make the book. But even without those things, it'll serve quite nicely as supplementary material for children interested in ballet or going to see the show.

As we get nearer to the holidays, performances of The Nutcracker start up in many cities, so this is one to buy for your library shelves if it's a perennial topic in your community. Pair this with To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel or A Young Dancer: The Life of an Ailey Student by Valerie Gladstone.

Becoming a Ballerina is on shelves now!

Happy Nonfiction Monday! Check out this week's roundup at The Flatt Perspective!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Got an Awesome Teen Program?

Submit it for the Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults program! Thanks to Justin Hoenke for bringing this program to my attention. Best of luck to anyone applying!

YALSA will select up to twenty-five innovative teen programs from all types of libraries to feature at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference and to include in a sixth edition of Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults. Successful applications will focus on programs that address new teen needs or interests, or that address ongoing teen needs or interests in an innovative or unique way. The top five programs will receive cash awards of $1000 each. Up to twenty “best of the rest” programs will receive cash awards of $250. Each award will be presented to the applicant’s institution for use with future teen programs and/or for the applicant’s travel to the 2013 conference to participate in the YALSA President’s Program.
EligibilityThe program described in the application must be a library-sponsored event, inside or outside the library, which appeals to a group rather than an individual. A program can be informational, recreational, educational, or all three.
  • The program described must have taken place in 2012 or be ongoing.
  • The program must be targeted at teens within the 12 – 18 age range.
  • All personal members of YALSA whose membership is current as of 12/17/12 are eligible to submit an application.
  • Only one application per YALSA member may be submitted.
CriteriaEach application will be judged on the basis of the:
  • Degree to which the program meets the needs of the teens in the community. (20 points)
  • Originality of the program (creative, innovative, unique). (30 points)
  • Degree to which the program reflects the ideals identified in YALSA’s national guidelines and competencies (at (20 points)
  • Overall quality of the program (well planned, promoted, organized, implemented, and evaluated). (20 points)
  • Clarity of the application (10 points)
Instructions1. The application must include a statement of support from the director of the public library, school principal, or the building-level administrator which is emailed to
2. Entries must be models of clarity and completeness.
3. The application must be submitted electronically via the online form at
4. All online forms and statements of support must be received no later than midnight (eastern) Dec. 17, 2012.
5. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
AnnouncementThe libraries selected with exemplary programs will be announced via press release the week of Feb. 4, 2013.
All of the selected programs will be invited to participate in YALSA’s President’s Program: Innovations in Teen Programming at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference. Prize money may be used to support travel and conference expenses.
All of the selected exemplary programs/services will be included in YALSA’s Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults, 6th edition, to be published in the fall of 2013.
Libraries receiving the cash awards will be recognized via press release and on the YALSA web site. A list of winning applicants will be included in the forthcoming book.
For questions contact: Letitia Smith, YALSA Membership Marketing Specialist, at or 1.800.545.2433 x4390

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Children's Librarian

As promised, here's another Day in the Life...!

10:00am - Today’s day started before I even got to work as I worked on an article I’m co-authoring on using blogs for teen collection development. It's based on a presentation that I did with a fellow librarian at the CYPD Conference last year.

11:00am - Writing done, draft sent off to co-author, now time to grab some lunch on my way to work. I pick up a sandwich and eat in the staff lounge before my shift begins.

12:00pm - On desk, catch up with staff member about various goings-on. It’s super quiet so I peruse the new books and select some to check out.

1:00pm - A little more work on the article and I help a homeschooler with a computer question.

1:20pm - Head back to my office to get some things done. Start answering emails and send out our article to a few trusted colleagues for general editing and looking-over.

2:00pm - Start adding things to a list of long-term projects I’d like to do with the department at some point and get off on a tangent thinking about reorganizing our picture book collection. I'm contemplating interfiling the holiday books (they already have holiday stickers) and pulling out the picture book nonfiction. But then I'm also quite intrigued by the "I Want a Truck Book" presentation by the folks at the Darien Library in Connecticut. Have a few Twitter conversations with other librarians who are thinking about it or starting the project.

3:00pm - Get responses back from colleagues about article and do some editing.

3:15pm - I work on putting together a cart of books to order in Baker & Taylor. We're wrapping up our budget year, so I'm trying to get my hands on as much significant stuff as I can to spend the rest of this year's money! My goal is always to own the Newbery and Caldecott winners (although sometimes they're a surprise!).

4:00pm - “Lunch” time! (Always so weird, the timing of meal breaks during an evening shift...) I grab a sandwich from our library cafe and take it to the staff lounge with Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (it's so good, you guys!).

5:00pm - On desk and our clerk is here until 7 tonight. It’s very slow so I do some work on an ILF presentation coming up in a couple of weeks.

6:15pm - Some small children are rough-housing in the stacks, so I head back there to break it up... parents nowhere in sight (of course). I find them some books to look at so that maybe they’ll settle down. (SOMEtimes that works.)

Answer the following reference questions:

- Where are Disney princess books?

- I need a fiction book about rodeos on a 6th grade reading level. I recommend Bull Rider by Suzanne Williams. Even though it’s only a 4.1 AR level, hopefully the teacher will accept it for the assignment. (Insert a short rant here... This particular assignment calls for kids to read a fiction and nonfiction book about the same subject. Now, if the teacher had let us know that the kids would be coming in, would could have pulled a bunch of choices for them. We could even have sent them to the classroom in a teacher collection. At the very least, we could have advised them that it would be much easier to find a fiction book first and then look for a nonfiction book about that subject. But now I've got kids who have already decided on their nonfiction topic looking for chapter fiction books about kangaroos, leopards, rodeos, etc. and then getting disappointed when the library doesn't have it. What I'm saying here is that I want teachers to know that librarians are here to help and we want you to use us!)

- I need short mysteries for a 4th grader. Another classroom is doing a genre assignment right now. We've had lots of kids coming in for mystery books. I recommended Geronimo Stilton, A to Z mysteries, and other mysteries by Ron Roy.

And one of my regular families was in tonight, so I also played puzzles with a Spanish-speaking 2-year-old and helped one of the older girls print something. 

8:10pm - The first closing announcement comes on and I start wrapping up my ILF presentation work and cleaning up the department. I turn off the computers that aren't being used, pick up any books left out around the department, and straighten up toys, chairs, and headphones. 

8:30pm - The library is closed, time to turn out lights and head on home! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fall Storytime: Homes

This was the last week of Fall Storytime! It's bittersweet, definitely. I will miss seeing my kids each Monday morning, but I'm also looking forward to a break, time to concentrate on some other programs and figure out what we want to do for storytime in the spring. We take a pretty long break because we have several annual holiday programs and when the weather is iffy in January and February we tend to have very low program attendance. Next week, we'll be breaking out the Take Home Storytimes that K has been working on, modeled after Amy's awesome storytime kits.

Our theme for this last week was homes and Miss T planned a fabulous storytime for us. The younger siblings in my group were super squirrelly this week, which was a bummer because this was a great storytime! I should have made an announcement at the beginning that parents should please take upset or distracted children out for a little break. That may have helped. Oh, well! Here's what I did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello. This has been a big hit with the kids and they were singing it along with me this week!

Memory Box: This week's Memory Box item was a possum from the book Purple Little Bird by Greg Foley.

Book: A New House for Mouse by Petr Horacek. I love this cute story and the colorful illustrations, but in retrospect it was very similar to Purple Little Bird (which had our Memory Box item), so I probably should have chosen something else. Both books were a tad long with all the super squirrelly little sibs in the room, too.

Felt: A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman. This rhyming book is really fun, but a bit long for storytime. Miss T turned a few verses into a felt story.

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. This group definitely needed to stand up and stretch, so I threw in one of my favorite songs. I always do it slow, fast, and then SUPERFAST!!!! And to sit back down...

Rhyme: Handy Spandy

Handy spandy sugar and candy, 
We all jump IN!
Handy spandy sugar and candy, 
We all jump OUT!
Handy spandy sugar and candy, 
We all jump UP!
Handy spandy sugar and candy, 

We all SIT DOWN! 

Book: Purple Little Bird by Greg Foley. This is a very colorful story and I think the illustrations are super cute. This book has possums in it, which were our Memory Box item this week.

Felt: Mr. Pine's Purple House by Leonard Kessler. Another story about a purple house! This storytime really made me want a purple house of my own...

Felt Activity: Miss T made felt pieces for all different kinds of homes (houses, apartments, mobile homes, barns, nests, etc.) and I passed them out to the kids. As I called for different types of homes, we built our neighborhood.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is? Since we use this song for baby storytime, toddler storytime, and preschool storytime, it's a very familiar song for most of our kids!

Craft: H is for Home.

Alternate Books: If you don't like or don't have any of the books I used, here are some others you might try!

Building a House by Byron Barton
Do Lions Live on Lily Pads? by Melanie Walsh (I had this one pulled, but ran out of time!)
The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson
In a People House by Dr. Seuss
Look Inside a Pueblo by Jenny Moss (or other Pebble Plus Look Inside books)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Grades 7+ Feiwel & Friends, February 2013. 452 pages. Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.

Scarlet's grandmother, the one person in the world that she cares about, has been taken and Scarlet won't rest until she finds her. When a young (kinda dreamy) street fighter who calls himself Wolf approaches her with information, Scarlet and Wolf set off across France in search of her. But all's not as it seems. Meanwhile, Linh Cinder is busy escaping from prison and becoming the world's most wanted fugitive, and Emperor Kai is trying to figure out how to keep the Commonwealth from imploding under pressure from the crazed Lunar Queen Levana. This second installment of the Lunar Chronicles will please fans of Cinder (voted one of this year's Teens' Top Ten!).

I loooooved Cinder and I faced this sequel with a mix of excitement and trepidation. I'm happy to report that Scarlet is a very satisfying sequel. Marissa Meyer takes a new cast of characters, a new fairy tale retelling in the same distant future world, and weaves it in seamlessly with the continuation of Cinder's story. It's a great mix with strong female leads and lots of action as Scarlet searches for her grandmother and the entire world searches for the missing Lunar Princess Selene.

There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. And sure, there are a few dreamy boys in there, as well, although the romance aspect is done with a light hand. I thought the touch of romance was nice and it didn't overpower the action-driven story.

I will say that I felt like the story dragged a bit towards the end. There was still plenty of action, but I found myself a little tired of fight scenes and skimming towards them to get to the end. No spoilers, but I felt like Meyer wrapped up this story nicely, while still creating excitement for the next book in the series.

I'm so glad that Cinder has been popular with teens and I know this sequel will be, as well. Both books have a unique take on fairy tale retellings, retaining essential elements and placing them in a well-built future world.

Scarlet will be on shelves February 5!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Invincible Microbe

Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank. Grades 7+ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 2012. 144 pages. Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.

TB is scary. Tuberculosis (TB) has been with us for as long as humans have been around, with millions of casualties. This highly contagious disease had no cure and many sufferers were relegated to sanatoriums until effective antibiotics were developed in the 1940s. Even today, drug-resistant strains are popping up around the world. In Invincible Microbe, authors Jim Murphy and Alison Blank introduce readers to this deadly disease, using a readable narrative nonfiction style and numerous archival photographs.

I love a good medical story and Invincible Microbe definitely fits the bill. In addition to being well-researched (extensive back matter is included) and informative, it tells a good story. This is the story of people, especially poor people and minorities, struggling against a foe of epidemic proportions. This is the story of human ingenuity as scientists worked feverishly to discover, test, and manufacture a cure for this devastating disease. This is the story of people thinking they had defeated the microbe, only to be sent back to the drawing board as cures failed and resistant strains developed.

The narrative style is very effective at imparting the information in a relateable way. Each chapter moves the reader briskly through the history of people and this illness as scientific discoveries translate into change. Laws are passed to try to clean up the tenements in major cities (breeding grounds for infectious disease), hygiene practices are promoted, isolation of patients is attempted.
The many archival photos included help to bring the reader into the story, showing exactly how it was back then.

In addition to information about tuberculosis, the book discusses how medical practices have evolved over the years, particularly with regards to minorities. While many people of color were ravaged by this disease, few hospitals or sanatoriums would admit them and governing bodies made it hard for people of color to become doctors and establish their own treatment facilities.

Waverly Hills today
Back matter is, of course, nicely done and extensive (we'd expect nothing else from Jim Murphy). The authors include a bibliography and source notes (including useful websites for current information) and an index (index not seen).

I had a bit of a special interest in this book because there's an abandoned TB sanatorium, Waverly Hills, located in my hometown of Louisville, KY. There's an archival photo of Waverly Hills included in the book, taken just after the sanatorium was closed in 1961. Legend has it that Waverly Hills is now haunted...

I'd try Invincible Microbe on any fans of medical stories or anyone interested in medicine or disease. Hand it to fans of Deadly by Julie Chibbaro or Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson or the nonfiction books Outbreak!: Plagues That Changed History by Bryn Barnard or Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman.

Invincible Microbe is on shelves now!

Happy Nonfiction Monday! You can find this week's roundup at Anastasia Suen's Booktalking blog, so make sure you check it out.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Get Real: Contemporary YA Lit is the Next Big Thing

My body is here in Southern Indiana this weekend, but my heart is in St. Louis with my fabulous colleagues at the 2012 YALSA YA Lit Symposium. Indeed, I had been working on a presentation with four of my very favorite teen librarians - Angie Manfredi, Katie Salo, Drea Sowers, and Kelly Jensen - but life happened and I was unable to attend the conference this weekend.

If you visit your local chain bookstore, chances are that the teen section is inundated with paranormal and fantasy titles. There's nothing wrong with that; those titles are certainly popular with teens. But know that teens are craving realistic fiction, too. Paranormal may be hot right now, but it's contemporary stories that are, have been, and will be the meat of the YA genre. Teens need books that reflect their experiences and allow them to experience other situations in a safe way. Teens need to see themselves in books, need books that talk about relationships and tough situations.

Our panel, Get Real: Contemporary YA Lit is "The Next Big Thing" talks about the importance of contemporary fiction and gives TONS of suggestions in a variety of genres. If you couldn't make it to the Symposium this year or if you're just looking for the handouts, I've got 'em here.

Here's the Prezi that the panel presented this morning:

Ya Lit Symposium Hand Out

If you're not sure where to start, check out this awesome Contemporary YA flowchart made by Kelly Jensen of STACKED.

Contemporary YA lit is something our teens need and something they're asking for! Hopefully these resources we've put together will help you in your quest to put the right book in the right hands.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall Storytime: Pumpkins

It was the perfect week to explore pumpkins in storytime, so here's what I did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello (they LOVE when we have our tongues say hello!)

Memory Box: This week's Memory Box item was a packet of seeds from Pumpkins. Having two fall sessions has been a little bit confusing as far as the Memory Box is concerned, but that's okay.

Rhyme: Five Little Pumpkins. This is a felt that we purchased long ago. We've changed the words a little bit because we know some of our families here don't celebrate Halloween:

Five little pumpkins, sitting on a gate.
The first one says, "Oh my it's getting late!"
The second one says, "There is frost in the air!"
The third one says, "We don't care!"
The fourth one says, "Let's run, run, run!"

The fifth one says, "Are you ready for some fun?"
Then whooooo went the wind and OUT went the lights,
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Book: Pumpkins by Ken Robbins. A LOT of the pumpkin books out there detail the growth of a pumpkin, from seed to vine to flower to pumpkin. I chose this one because it uses real photographs, which is something I like to share with my kids. We talked about what color pumpkins are, where we've seen pumpkins, and if anyone has gone to pick out pumpkins in a pumpkin patch.

Rhyme: Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater. This is from a felt nursery rhyme set that we purchased long ago.

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her. 
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.

Book: It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse by Laura Numeroff. This board book is a little bit small to share with a group, but I like that Mouse paints different expressions on his pumpkins. I asked the kids to show me their happy / sad / surprised / scary faces, too.

Felt: The Perfect Pumpkin. We have a pumpkin shape and lots of black shapes and together, we created some very silly pumpkin faces. I asked the kids what we should use for eyes, nose, and mouth and we tried several different combinations.

Felt: Build a Pumpkin Patch. Then I passed out our felt pumpkins and called kids up to put them on the board by using the colors they were wearing.

(To the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb)
If you're wearing red today, red today, red today,
If you're wearing red today, please come up!

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

Craft: This comes from Blissfully Domestic, via Pinterest! It's super easy and helps develop fine motor control. It's a pumpkin made from a green pipe cleaner and orange/yellow pony beads.

Alternate Books: I found that many of the books I looked at for this storytime were variations on the same thing (how a pumpkin grows), so I chose my favorite and went with it. Here are some other ideas:

Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino
It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall
Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Mary Peterson (several bloggers have used this title in their storytimes, but we didn't have it, so I've ordered it!)
The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff. Grades 9+ Egmont USA, 2009. 311 pages. Reviewed from purchased copy.

Andy Zansky is fat. He's also super smart and funny and kind and caring, but the kids at his high school just see the fat. And Andy's not okay with that, exactly, but he knows that's the way things are... until he meets (and immediately falls in love with) new girl April. Something has to change because he can't let April be one of those people who only see his mass. After a chance encounter with the school's golden boy, quarterback O. Douglas, Andy decides to go out for football. And everything will change.

This book waited for WAY TOO LONG on my to-be-read shelf and once I started it I didn't really put it down until I was done with it. Short chapters and a funny, relateable main character kept me turning the pages and I think those are exactly what gives this book teen appeal.

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have is a book about the way that people see you. Even though Andy has a lot of good qualities, a lot of the kids at his school can't see past the surface. I'd say that Andy can't really see through the surface either. He is what he's always been - a nerd, unpopular, nonathletic. That's what he sees reflected back at him from the kids at school and from his family, so Andy makes choices that don't rock the boat. He participates in Model UN. He doesn't really talk to girls. He puts up with the bullies as best he can.

When a chance encounter with one of the most popular guys in school leads to Andy trying out for football, everything begins to change. Andy begins to see himself differently and his choices reflect that. So, this is a story about the way the people might see you and how you let that affect your life.

It's also a great sports story. The sports and the humor are things that might appeal to you guy readers (and girl readers, too, of course). But really this is a story that a lot of kids can relate to and it deserves to find a wide audience.

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have is on shelves now, so don't let it fly under your radar!