Monday, August 3, 2020

Heartstopper


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Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice Oseman. Grades 7+ 288 pages. Graphix, 2020. Review copy provided by my local library. 

Oh, this book, it did make me squee. This delightful graphic novel is the story of two high schoolers, Charlie and Nick. On the surface, they're complete opposites. Charlie's a brooding, openly gay drummer and Nick is a popular, athletic rugby star. They meet by chance, seated next to each other in class, and when Nick sees how fast Charlie can run in PE class, he invites him to join the school's rugby team. And although Charlie's best friend teases him for liking a straight, rugby player, Charlie agrees. 

One thing to know is that this is the first volume of the story and it ends on a cliffhanger that actually make me say "Noooooo" out loud. The next volume is due out in the US in November. But a further thing to know, which is possibly a slight spoiler, is that the entire graphic novel trilogy is a prequel to a teen novel starring Charlie's older sister, so if you're concerned about Charlie & Nick, you can go look that one up. There's a reason I'm filing this under "romance", is what I'm saying. 

Hand this to fans of Rainbow Rowell's Pumpkinheads or Kevin Panetta's Bloom

Friday, July 31, 2020

Baloney and Friends


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Baloney and Friends by Greg Pizzoli. Preschool - 2nd grade. 96 pages. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020. Review copy provided by my local library. 

This is the new book that I'm handing all my Elephant and Piggie fans. With the adorable cartoon illustrations and speech bubbles and the cast of silly characters, I think E&P readers will eat this one up. Put aside your reservations about an anthropomorphic pig named Baloney (scream emoji) and just enjoy the hijinks in the episodic chapters. In the three chapters and three mini comics, Baloney performs a magic show for his friends, braves the swimming pool, and more. Hand this one to newly independent readers who love to laugh; it's perfect for fans of Narwhal and Jelly, too. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Recent Books on Homeschooling: Update Your Collection!

If ever there's a time to add to and update your books on homeschooling, now is the time. With so many school districts uncertain about in-person school, virtual learning, and more, you'll likely have more families choosing homeschooling than ever before. So, what books do you need to have on your shelf? 

The answer to that is honestly as varied as your homeschooling families themselves. That's the whole point of homeschool: you can do it the way you want to do it, which means there's no STANDARD way to homeschool. You should definitely open lines of communication to your families who already homeschool to see how you can best support them. But what about folks who are new to homeschooling and just looking for resources to get started? Today I've got a list of books on homeschooling published in the last decade. 

Here's where I tell you that I am not and have never been a homeschooling parent, nor was I homeschooled myself. These are some of the new and recent homeschool books that I've purchased for my library and if you're looking for some newer titles to update your shelves,  they may fit the bill! 

First, for the librarians... 


I have to put in a plug for Helping Homeschoolers in the Library by Adrienne Furness. ALA Editions, 2008. Yes, it may be a little older, but it has some great information about different types of homeschooling, how to approach homeschoolers at your library, and how to design programs and services for homeschooling families. (This one I can give a personal recommendation for since I have read it and found it super useful as I was developing homeschool programs at my various libraries.) 

Now, recent books for parents new to homeschooling: 








The Everything Guide to Homeschooling: All You Need to Create the Best Curriculum and Learning Environment for Your Child by Sherri Lisenbach. Everything, 2015. This guide was revised and updated in 2015. 


Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Creative and Comprehensive Homeschool Curriculum by Rebecca Rupp. Broadway Books, 2020. This book was originally published in 2000 and an updated edition just came out this January. 





Homeschooling for Dummies by Jennifer Kaufeld. For Dummies, September 2020. You may laugh, but parents who are brand spanking new to homeschooling may be seeking this title out. First published in 2001, wait for the new edition coming in September. 



The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. Norton, 2016. This fourth edition came out in 2016. 



by E.D. Hirsch. Bantam, 2013-2015. 
You may have editions of these books from way back when, but K-4th were revised and updated starting in 2014, so make sure you have the newer editions if you think they'll be useful. If you don't want to purchase books from several years ago, a pro tip for figuring out what skills to cover in each grade level is to advise families to purchase a grade level workbook. They don't have to actually do all the worksheets, but it'll help them determine what skills to cover. (Credit to Janssen at Everyday Reading for the pro tip!)

What would you add to this list? Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Nest That Wren Built



The Nest That Wren Built by Randi Sonenshine, illustrated by Anne Hunter. Preschool - 1st grade. Candlewick Press, 2020. Review copy provided by my local library. 

This lovely book gives a detailed look into the life of a family of wrens as they build a nest, lay eggs, and raise their chicks. Using the cadence of The House that Jack Built, it has a wonderful rhythm and structure to the text, but the text is not cumulative so it doesn't get as cumbersome as that structure sometimes can. The book has wonderful vocabulary words and would make a good early literacy storytime choice. I love that it mentions all the different materials - rabbit fur, string, etc. - that go into the building of the nest. This is a book that takes it a step further than your typical birds-build-a-nest arc and it's a good choice for young naturalists. It's perfect for sharing in springtime or any time you want to learn about birds. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Friday Night Wrestlefest



Friday Night Wrestlefest by J.F. Fox, illustrated by Micah Player. Preschool - 2nd grade. Roaring Brook Press, 2020. Review copy provided by my local library. 

I knew just who I would hand this book to from the moment I picked it up. Do you have kids in your life that love wrestling? This book is their next bedtime story. Trust me. It's Friday night and after pizza for dinner, it's time for the family wrestling match. Meet Dangerous Daddoo and the twins, Peanut Brother and Jellyfish in the ultimate showdown. The book's written like a WWE announcer and the story has the same awesome moves and surprising twists as your favorite wrestling matches. 

Hand this to families with young wrestling fans or pair it with NiƱo Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales for an ultimate storytime showdown. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

We Are Not Free


Book cover image of We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee. Grades 7+. HMH Books for Young Readers. September 2020. Review copy provided by publisher. 

So, this book didn't have me at hello. It took me a little bit to get into it, but after the first chapter or two I couldn't put it down. This book is a masterpiece. It's not only a brilliant piece of historical fiction that brings the Japanese incarceration during WWII to brutal light for young readers, but it's a striking portrait of teen life. These kids are living in desert camps in the 1940s, but they're also falling in love and rebelling against their parents and playing sports and staying out too late and trying to figure out their futures. 

Each chapter is narrated by a different teen and the story unfolds over the years Japanese Americans (American citizens!) were held in prison camps. I wasn't sure how I would like that many narratives, but I loved that each chapter is unique and the narrators really stand out. It's an amazing accomplishment of writing. 

Hand this to fans of Ruta Sepetys, particularly her works that are told from multiple perspectives like Salt to the Sea and The Fountains of Silence. I would also hand it to fans of George Takei's wonderful graphic novel memoir They Called Us Enemy

Coming in September! Pre-order today! 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Virtual ALSC 101

I'm serving on ALSC's Membership Committee and I'd like to formally invite you to Virtual ALSC 101 on Saturday, August 1 from 7:00pm-8:00pm ET (4:00pm-5:00pm PT). Whether you are a new ALSC member, an experienced ALSC member looking to get more involved, or not an ALSC member yet at all, I think this is going to be a really fun event.

Check out Tanya Prax's post on the ALSC Blog to learn more about it and register now for this free, virtual event!  

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Hello There Again

Hi there. How's it going? Are you well? Are you working? Are you holding it together? 

I'm holding it together. I'm working. I'm as well as anyone can be right now. I'm reading again, which is lovely. I'm going to see about blogging again. We shall see. Here's what's up with me: 

Photo of Abby wearing a protective mask with due dates stamped on it and holding a paper with a long list of holds to pull


I'm back in the library full time with the option to work from home whenever I want. This is one benefit of having a "behind the scenes" job. Honestly, I find it stressful to work from home. It seems like everything takes five times as long and when I'm home I want to be home and not at work. So I am preferring to be in the office right now. 

Our library has just started the first phase of opening to the public by offering computer appointments and hold pickup and self-checkout. We're only allowing patrons into the lobby right now and we don't have any browsing set up. Our schools are supposed to go back next week (!!) and families have the option to choose virtual learning. 

Since we're only doing curbside pickup (no browsing), our holds pull list is massive every morning, particularly on Mondays, which is when I took the photo above. I try to help out as much as I can when the public and customer service teams get busy. 

Currently, our staff is working in 2 teams so that we don't have so many people in the building at once. Since I'm there every day, I'm trying to be careful to not get too close to anyone. I'm working out of one of our meeting rooms on the days when our assistant is in our office because I know the air stagnates in there. 

We debuted Grab Bags and Book Care Packages to try to get some of the collection moving. It's so sad to see our Children's Room crammed full of popular series when it's NOT supposed to be like that in the summer. There are Pigeon books on the shelf! And Dog Man! And Raina Telgemeier! 

Now, with school looming, we're looking at resources we can provide to help new homeschoolers and families tackling virtual learning as well as our teachers and students. 

It's hard. 

It's hard to not know what's going to happen. 
It's hard that things are changing so frequently. 
It's hard to concentrate on work when you're worried about getting sick, worried when coworkers call in sick (is it THE VIRUS?), worried about next year's budget... 

And that's how things are right now. We're working incredibly hard to provide the services that we can. It doesn't feel like enough and yet some days it feels like too much to handle. 

How are you? 

PS: Blogging about books is coming. I'm trying to figure out a way to make it sustainable, but I really miss sharing about great books on here. Coming soon. Stay tuned. 


Monday, July 20, 2020

If You Like Cursed



Have a fan of the new Netflix show Cursed, based on the YA book by Thomas Miller, illustrated by Frank Miller, in your house? This retelling of Arthurian legend asks the question: what if the sword Excaliber  had chosen a queen instead of a king? Nimue, the Lady in the Lake, is the starring role in this beautiful fantasy show. Outcast for her ability to use magic and on her own after religious zealots raze her village, Nimue is entrusted with a sword and told to deliver it to Merlin. But the way will not prove easy. 

So if you enjoyed this show and/or the book it's based on, what should you read next? I have some ideas. 

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White (Delacorte, 2019). This new series starter is another reimagining of Arthurian legend featuring a strong female lead, focusing on Guinevere's early days. Readers and viewers who are intrigued by fresh takes on Arthurian legend may enjoy this one. 

Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy (Little, Brown, 2019). Here's another recent King Arthur remix, this time set in space. This one also features a strong female lead as King Arthur is here reincarnated as seventeen-year-old Ari, a female king trying to stop a corrupt government with the help of teenage Merlin. 

Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke (Farar, Straus, & Giroux, 2020). Viewers and readers who love strong female-led fantasies may also enjoy this richly detailed quest story, loosely based on Arthurian legend. This is a standalone companion book to The Boneless Mercies, which is a female-led take on Beowulf, so that may be another title to seek out if strong heroines and literary retellings are your thing. 

Have you watched Cursed or read the book? What did you think? 


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Hello There

How's everybody doing? Keeping on keeping on?

Photo of Abby wearing her book mask and a #TeamKentucky shirt that reads "Healthy But Nervous"

Sorry it's been a minute, but you know how it is right now. Here's what's been up with me.

We've all been working from home at my library since we closed on March 16. I'm so thankful that we have not had furloughs, although working from home has been a much bigger struggle for me than I thought it would. It's definitely very different, even for those of us who are mostly behind the scenes and who have access to most of the things we do at the office.

This past week, we started staffing the library in small teams and taking book returns. We are not open to the public. Tomorrow we start curbside pickup of holds and we have pulled for sure over 800 holds (some of which were from before we closed or right after we had closed). I am now working in my office at the library two or three days a week, wearing a mask and being careful to maintain distance and clean everything after use. I will continue to work from home the other days.

It feels relatively amazing to be able to provide curbside pickup and get at least a small sampling of our collection going back out into people's hands. We have been promoting and booktalking our digital collection throughout, but it in no way truly compensates for our print collection. We are looking at ways to provide computer services soon. Our director has been amazing, coming up with a phased plan that focuses on providing what we can for our community while keeping staff and patrons as safe as possible. We're proceeding deliberately even as some parts of our community throw the doors wide open.

Collection Development's about to get really busy because our vendors will be starting shipments again this week. The past two months have not felt like any kind of a respite, but they really were compared to the cataloging work I've got ahead of me once our books start shipping. On the one hand, I'm anxious about it, but on the other hand it's another kind of relief because it'll give me focus. And then the rest of it - the blog posts and webinars and TLEUs - will just have to wait because getting the books out to people will be the priority. As it should be. And maybe work from home with its ample time to concentrate on cataloging (when I'm not in a Zoom meeting....) will turn into a positive again.

I'm struggling to read right now. I'm struggling to write because so much of my work from home tasks have been writing heavy. We're trying to update our staff blog almost every day. And I've been throwing myself into my side work for NoveList and writing for School Library Journal and the ALSC Blog. My own blog seems to be the place that I'm struggling with the most (if I'm honest, because it does not really pay me).

So things will probably be a little slow around here for awhile. I'm still around. We'll get back into business here with regular posts at some point. Time is weird right now. It's either crawling or flying and there doesn't seem to be an in-between. I would love for everything to go back to normal, but I'm sensible enough to know that it doesn't just happen like that. I'll take my small moments of normal, like being in the office and picking up the phone to quickly resolve a question, where I can. And we'll just keep on keeping on.

How are you?