Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reading Resolutions

Photo used under Creative Commons license
As 2010 is winding down, I know I'm not alone in thinking about some goals for 2011.  And I do have three reading resolutions for this coming year!

1.  I've signed up again for the Debut Authors Challenge, as hosted by The Story Siren.  I had such fun participating last year that I signed up right away for this year.  The goal of the challenge is to read and review twelve 2011 YA or Middle Grade debut novels, but my personal goal is 25.  (I know, I said 20 in my sign-up post, but I think I can do 25!)

2.  I'd like to read more adult books this year.  I said that last year and it didn't really end up happening, but I'm saying it again this year.  Sarah at GreenBean TeenQueen sent out a plea for book recommendations for adult titles and going through my LibraryThing records reminded me many of the great adult titles I've read.  I don't want to miss them!  So even though there's constant pressure to be reading something I can blog about, I need to make time for adult books, too.  And that leads us to...

3.  I'm resolving to remember that this blog is a hobby, not a job and that I read and blog because I love it, not because publishers/authors/blog readers are expecting me to post reviews.  That's not to say that I don't enjoy working with publishers and authors (I do!  Y'all rock!), but just to say that when I am stressed out and I want to read an adult book instead of a bloggable book or - gasp - even reread a book, it's okay.  And, also, to remember that these reading resolutions are for fun, too.  So if I don't end up reading a ton of adult books, that's okay, too. :)

There are my reading resolutions!  What about you?  Anyone have any reading resolutions this year?  Or blogging resolutions?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taking Off

Taking Off by Jenny Moss.  (Grades 8+)  Walker Books for Young Readers, January 2011.  310 pages.  Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.

It's 1985 in Houston, Texas and high school senior Annie has a secret.  She wants to be a poet.  Only, she's having a hard time admitting that to anyone, even to herself.  What kind of living can you make being a poet?  It seems an impossible dream.  So Annie's stuck.  While her best friend is going off to college next year and her boyfriend Mark wants her to stay in town and marry him, Annie is frozen by indecision.  And then she meets Christa McCauliffe, an ordinary high school teacher who was chosen from thousands of applicants to go into space on the Challenger.  Suddenly, Annie has a glimmer of hope.  If this ordinary teacher can reach for her dreams, why can't Annie?

The first thing I like about Taking Off is Jenny Moss's incredibly realistic portrayal of a teen at an impasse.  Senior year can be a paralyzing year - too many choices (or not enough choices) making a decision about one's future seem impossible.  Annie's definitely in that place.  Her mom's encouraging her to go to college, but Annie's not sure that's what she wants.  Annie starts some soul searching, inspired by her new idol Christa McCauliffe, and she begins to figure it out, but it's never an easy decision.  This is exactly what some of our teens are facing and they'll see themselves in Annie's dilemma.

I also really appreciated the historical details that Jenny Moss used to paint a picture of 1985-86.  She's not only used details from her own experiences, but she's filled in the gaps quite nicely with a bunch of research.  Jenny Moss captures the spark that Christa McCauliffe ignited in the nation.  And her author's note is wonderful, providing some additional biographical information about McCauliffe.  The final book will also include authors' memories of inspirational teachers and memories of Christa from her students (not included in the ARC).

As I was reading this book and booktalking it to our teen librarian, she asked me if I thought that the story would have as much impact on today's teens who would not have been born when the Challenger disaster happened.  Well, speaking as a reader who was three years old in January 1986 and has no memory of the event, I can tell you that it'll have an impact.  Jenny Moss provides many resources for students seeking further information about Christa McCauliffe and Challenger.

This book got me thinking about the future of publishing, honestly, and how neat it would be to read this as an e-book with multimedia tied into it.  You could listen to the music that Annie's dad blasts in the car as they road trip to Florida to see the launch.  You could watch videos of the Challenger disaster news coverage, like Annie watched in her hotel room after the explosion.  You could see photos of art cars of the time and portraits of the astronauts.

I'd recommend this title to fans of Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci for teens who liked the 80s setting and I'd recommend it to any teens interested in the Challenger disaster.

Taking Off will be on shelves January 4!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Before I Fall

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.  Grades 9+  HarperTeen, March 2010.  470 pages.  Review copy provided by my local library.

Samantha always thought that right before she died, she'd see a kind of "greatest hits" playlist of moments from her life.  It turns out it's not like that at all.  When Sam is in a terrible car crash on a stormy Friday night, she wakes up the next morning... and it's Friday again.  Is Sam destined to keep living the same terrible day over and over again forever?  Or is there something she can do to change destiny and save her own life?

Before I Fall is more than just a story about a popular high schooler's death.  It's a story about learning that there's more to people - even your best friends - than meets the eye.  It's a story about being yourself and about changing into the person you know you can be.  It's a story about mean girls, but it's also a story about finding love and hoping that it's not too late.  It's a story about it never being too late to make amends.

Lauren Oliver's debut novel kept me riveted for all 470 pages.  She has a very accessible style and right away I felt like I knew the main character of Samantha.  This is important because the way Samantha changes as she relives Friday, February 12 is what the story's all about.  No answers come easy to her and Sam will have to examine the way she's lived her life to figure out how to save the day.

The supporting characters were fleshed out and believable, especially Sam's best friend Lindsay.  Lindsay is definitely more than meets the eye and throughout the book Sam uncovers more details about Lindsay's past that explain why she is the way she is.  And Kent!  I loved Kent!  And several rather unsavory male characters - Ms. Oliver's not afraid to write a character that made me say out loud (more than once), "Augghh!  He's such a #@&*!"

I can definitely see why this 2010 debut has been garnering praise all over the blogosphere.  Check out more reviews at bookshelves of doom, DJ's Life in Fiction, The Reading Zone, Galley Smith, Reading Vacation (who reviewed the audio book!), YA Librarian Tales, Pop Culture Junkie, and Persnickety Snark (among others!).

I'd recommend this book to teens who like books that make them think about issues... like Hate List by Jennifer Brown or maybe Carolyn Mackler's books.

Before I Fall is on shelves now!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Soar, Elinor!

Soar, Elinor! by Tami Lewis Brown, illustrated by Francois Roca.  (Grades 1-3.)  Melanie Kroupa Books (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux), April 2010.  Unpaged.  Reviewed from library copy.  This book is a nominee for the 2010 Cybils Awards, and this review reflects only my own opinion. 

Elinor Smith took her first plane ride in 1917 when she was six years old.  From then on, she was hooked.  Her parents encouraged her to follow her dreams and in 1928, Elinor got her pilot's license.  She was, at age 16, the youngest person (boy or girl!) to get a pilot's license.  But still, many male pilots did not accept her.  How could she prove that she was just as good a pilot as any man?  By flying under New York City's four bridges, of course!

Soar, Elinor! is an inspiring story that's sure to add much to Women's History units and book lists.  You've got plenty on Amelia Earhart, so make room for Elinor Smith!  Elinor kept flying, even when men said she couldn't do it, even when the newspapers said she was just playing around and called her "The Flying Flapper".  The book does a nice job of showing what women went through in the 1920s.

Illustrator Francois Roca sets the scene with sweeping paintings of 1920s New York.  Many of the paintings fittingly show plenty of sky and I appreciate the fact that the sky looks different in every picture (different shades of blue, different cloud levels, etc.).  Details like the clothes people are wearing and expressions on people's faces add to the overall historical feel of the book.

You can tell that author Tami Lewis Brown cares about her subject and is passionate about flying. She includes a lovely author's note and source note, including photos of Elinor, her plane, and one of the bridges.  The author's note includes some additional information about Elinor (she was, at 89-years-old, the oldest person to "fly" the NASA Space Shuttle Simulator!).

Add this one to your Women's History Month displays, come March!

(Incidentally, I have to give Tami Lewis Brown a Kentucky shout-out!  She grew up in Prospect, KY, a town very close to my hometown of Louisville!)

Read more reviews at The Fourth Musketeer and Winged Victory.

And read more about author Tami Lewis Brown at Cynsations, Through the Tollbooth, and From the Mixed-Up Files.

Soar, Elinor! is on shelves now.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In My Mailbox #62

If you celebrate, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and got lots of good books to read!  It's time for In My Mailbox (hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, who will resume the roundups in 2011!) and I did get a handful of books for review this week.

And I'd like to take this opportunity, the last IMM of the year, to give a big shout-out to the publishers and authors who have sent me books this year.  I really appreciate it!  THANK YOU!  I'd further like to thank my libraries: The New Albany-Floyd County Public Library (where I work) and the Louisville Free Public Library (where I live) for providing me with books all year long.  Livelihood aside, I don't know what I'd do without libraries.

And now for this week's books... I'm really excited because they are all 2011 DEBUTS and I can hardly wait for 2011 to roll around so I can dig in!!

Click through to GoodReads for a plot summary of each book: 

Dark Parties by Sara Grant (Little, Brown, August 2011).  Dystopian debut with a cover that just grabs me!

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray (Little, Brown, July 2011).  A modern retelling of Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view.  

Forgotten by Cat Patrick (Little, Brown, June 2011).  "Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery". 

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Little, Brown, May 2011).  I requested this one because on Betsy's Little, Brown Spring Preview, she said: "Apparently editor Jennifer Hunt was so enthralled by I’ll Be There (no cover yet) by Holly Goldberg Sloan that when she first received it she read it line by line off of her Blackberry screen. It was just that good."

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson (Flux, January 2011).  POC debut - yes!

ETA (9:36am) - There was a nook color waiting for me under the Christmas tree yesterday!  I may not share ebooks purchased on a regular basis, but I did want to let you know that I downloaded my first* galley from NetGalley: 

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harrison (Harlequin Teen, January 2011).  This is a debut from a 20-year old author.

(Also, I will just quickly mention that I did purchase an ebook yesterday - Soulless by Gail Carriger - because it has been recommended to me by about a thousand people.  I am two chapters in and loooving it!  It's an adult pub, but has high crossover appeal.  And one thing I love about my ereader is the ability to look up words with the touch of a finger.  Very handy!)

* This is the first galley for the ereader, I mean.  I have downloaded galleys before, but since it is so cumbersome to read them on my laptop, I have not read very many that way.  If you are a book blogger, librarian, bookseller, etc., you should check out NetGalley!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

One of my Christmas traditions is to go over to my grandma's house on Christmas Eve to open presents (just grandparent presents).  And, of course, my brother and I will watch A Christmas Story on TBS when we get home.  Another of my traditions is to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol with my friends and eat red and green chocolate chip cookies (which we did last week!).

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I wish you joy and good times with friends and family and lots of books for the new year.

Abby the Librarian

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Favorites and My Best

Wondering what to read over your holiday break (if you get a break, that is...)?  Here are my favorite reads of 2010.  (No attempt has been made to balance this list!  This is my from-the-heart list of my favorites books I read this year.  Except I did leave out books that were sequels.)

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.  

Read my review here.  Both dealing with grief over different issues, Amy & Roger road trip from California to Connecticut, throwing their carefully planned route out the window and starting the healing process even as they start falling for each other.  Realistic characters bring this one to life and it's a book that makes you laugh and cry.  Plus, they go to Louisville on their road trip!!!!  (Although it is a little sad that two teenage characters in a novel have eaten at the Brown and I have never done that. ;)  This 2010 debut is a perfect summer read and it's the perfect thing to pull you out of the winter doldrums.  

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales.

Read my review here.  This book wins the I-Shouldn't-Have-Judged-It-By-Its-Cover Award.  I put off picking it up for way too long.  When I finally did pick it up, I discovered a realistic, sarcastic, funny, poignant story about Violet's junior year at an elite prep school.  Even as she's making witty observations about her classmates and teachers, Violet's worried about how things are changing between her and her best friend.  I couldn't put it down. This is another stellar 2010 debut.  (How I wish either of these titles had been recognized on the Morris shortlist, but alas...)

Dark Life by Kat Falls. 

Read my review here.  In a future America where global warming has made land a commodity, Ty and his family are underwater pioneers, living far under the sea.  When a Topsider girl appears, Ty gets wrapped up in her mission to find her brother and adventures ensue.  Nonstop action from the first page, and I can tell you that this book is flying off the shelves at my library.  I loved Kat Falls's carefully constructed speculative world and the gripping adventure story.  I'd hand this one to fans of The City of Ember in a heartbeat!  (Another 2010 debut... hmmmm...)

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord. 

Read my review here.  Her Maine island is the only home that eleven-year-old Tess has ever known and the thought that she might have to leave it is too much to bear.  When families on the island welcome foster children in order to increase the population enough to warrant having a school on the island, Tess is determined to make it work.  This book is a gem and it's my top Newbery pick this year. Quirky island characters, details about Maine lobster fishing, and Tess's effervescent personality made this a book that sticks with me.  

Smile by Raina Telgemeier.

Read my review here.  When an accident results in the loss of sixth-grade Raina's front teeth, it means several years of painful dental work.  Like middle school isn't painful enough!  I was a big fan of Ms. Telgemeier's adaptations of the Baby-Sitters Club books and I like Smile even more.  The tone of the book is frank, fresh, and genuine with bright, expressive pictures that bring the story to life.  This is definitely a book that many tween girls will relate to, and not just the ones with braces!  Ms. Telgemeier's graphic memoir transcends the basic plot line of her dental work and provides a look into one girl's journey through the treacherous halls of middle school.  This is another title that we can't keep on the shelves.  (And if you like Smile, do check out the Baby-Sitters Club graphic adaptations!  I love them, too!)

Read my review here.  In accessible text and with many photos and other visual aids, this book tells the story of Lt. Gail Halvorsen, an American Air Force pilot who delivered candy to hungry children in West Berlin after World War II.  It's a moving story and one that has a ton of kid appeal and the photos and other visual aids really brings the story to life.  It'll please history buffs, but it has a lot of appeal for the general public as well.  An important story, well-told.  Plus, it's about candy!!  Who doesn't love candy?! 

I'd also like to mention Hate List by Jennifer Brown (read my review here) because I read it this year, even though it was published in 2009.  I definitely kicked myself for waiting so long to pick it up because that story of a tragic school shooting and the girl caught in the middle of it is one that really resonated with me.  

I'd also like to mention a few audiobooks that really stood out (though they were not 2010 books): 

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, read by Anne Hathaway.  The books are already hilarious and Anne Hathaway absolutely brings them to life with her reading.  She multiplies the humor and creates a really excellent audiobook experience.  

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, read by Alan Cumming.  Read my review here.  Mr. Cumming's great talent with voices and accents made this a listening experience that I didn't want to end.  If you liked Leviathan, you also won't want to miss Behemoth on audiobook, also expertly narrated by Alan Cumming.  Read my review here.  

Have you read (or listened to) any of these titles?  What did you think?  

Hey, I'm an Audible affiliate, which means that if you purchase audiobooks after clicking on links here, I may get a commission. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fall for Anything

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers.  Grades 9+.  St. Martin's Griffin, December 2010.  230 pages.  Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.

Eddie's world was rocked when her art photographer father killed himself.  Her mother is a complete wreck, so Eddie's not only dealing with her own grief but worry about her mom.  Her best friend Milo is distracted by the arrival of his ex-girlfriend, back in town for the summer.  All Eddie can think about is why?

She meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father's, and he's the one person who seems to get her grief and her need for answers.  Together, they set out to decipher the clues left by Eddie's father's last photographs, but none of the answers will be easy.

Just... wow.

I am so glad that Kelly made me read this book. ;)  I haven't read any of Courtney Summers's other books, but you'd better believe I'm going to get my hands on them.

I was most impressed with the excellent writing.  Courtney shows the reader everything that Eddie is feeling without having to come out and tell us.  She manages to convey Eddie's emotions in the simplest sentences.  I really sat up and took notice when Eddie was telling us about her best friend Milo, a boy she's known since the second grade.  This is from page 9:

...By third grade, we weren't so outcast anymore, but we were beyond needing other people.  We still are.  Anyone else who happens on the both of us, they're just temps.

Like that girlfriend he had that one time.

That last sentence, so simple, is filled to the brim with Eddie's possessive love for Milo, her jealousy that he had a girlfriend, her hopes that Milo's done with that and back to being all hers, her dismissive feelings toward the girlfriend (saying it like she doesn't even remember her name.  Oh, Eddie knows her name all right.)

And can I just tell you how much I love Milo?  He's Eddie's constant, her rock.  He'll always be there for her, even if there is a 14-hour drive away (one way!).  And I will say without spoilers that a betrayal happens in this book and even though I had thought it might be coming, it still made me hold my breath when it finally came.

I will also say that, while there are hot boys and nice boys and attraction in this book, I don't know that I would call any of it romantic.  Eddie's reaching out to try to feel something through the haze of her grief.  

Fall for Anything is a powerful, accessible story about a girl dealing with her grief.  Eddie's voice is spot-on and some of her observations made me laugh out loud, even as I was mourning for her loss.  I would highly recommend this book to fans of books like Jennifer Brown's Hate List, Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, and Sarah Dessen's Just Listen.

Fall for Anything is on shelves now!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Audiobook Review: Behemoth

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, read by Alan Cumming.  Grades 7+.  Simon & Schuster Audio, 2010.  9 hours and 27 minutes.  Review copy provided by publisher. 

Okay, you all read Leviathan, yes?  (If you didn't, I must insist that you get it and read or listen to it as soon as possible.  It is fabulous.)

Behemoth continues the story of Alek, secret heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and Deryn, midshipman aboard the Darwinist airship Leviathan (really a girl, but disguised as a boy).  As World War I is building, Leviathan steams ahead to the Ottoman Empire in an attempt to foster peace, but nothing goes as planned.  Secrets will be revealed, alliances made and betrayed, in this second book in the Leviathan trilogy.

You guys, this audiobook is barkin' fantastic.

I'd love the book anyway - Scott Westerfeld continues his superb world-building and character development in this book - but hearing Alan Cumming's narration of the story is a wonderful experience.

All the things I loved about his recording of Leviathan are continued in this recording.  He's a master of voices and accents and accented voices.  What I mean to say is that all his German voices are different, all his British voices are different, even when the accent is the same.  I was amused by the lone American in the book, with his John Wayne-esque voice, but hey, it worked.

Not only is this a story that you can easily lose yourself in, this is a recording that you can easily lose yourself in.

I will say one word of warning:  if you tend to listen to audiobooks in the car while driving (exhibit A: me), you might want to read the print book first and then give the story a listen.  The political events and world building make for a very rich storyline and you won't want to miss any of the details as you're driving (like I'm sure I did).  To me, the story was definitely engaging enough to warrant a re-read (or re-listen, if you will).  And you'll want to make sure you've read Leviathan first.

Behemoth is on shelves now (both in book and audiobook form)!

Hey, I'm an Audible Affiliate, which means that if you purchase audiobooks through links on my site, I get a small commission! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Old Abe, War Hero

Old Abe, War Hero: The Civil War's Most Famous Mascot by Patrick Young, illustrated by Anne Lee.  (Grades 1-5.)  Kane/Miller, September 2010.  Unpaged.  Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils Award consideration (this review reflects only my own opinion).

You knew people fought in the Civil War, but how about an eagle?

Old Abe was a bald eagle, captured as a fledgling and traded to a farmer named Dan McCann.  The Civil War was raging, but Dan McCann could not fight because of his bad leg, so he donated the eagle to a company of Wisconsin soldiers who adopted him as their mascot (they named him Old Abe after president Lincoln).  Since Old Abe had been raised by humans, he had no fear of them and he quickly bonded with the soldiers, who carried him into battle on a wooden perch.  As bullets whizzed past, Old Abe inspired his company and bolstered their courage.  He even dragged an injured soldier out of battle and warned his company of an approaching Rebel soldier, leading to the capture of a Southern camp.  Old Abe retired in 1864, after participating in 25 battles, and was given a deluxe suite at the Wisconsin Capitol Building (complete with private bird bath!).

Old Abe, Eagle Hero is an interesting and engaging story that's perfect for history buffs or to add variety to a unit on the Civil War.  It's just the kind of nonfiction picture book I love - a little known story that turns out to be really cool.  The illustrations compliment the text, the blue, gray and orange color scheme nicely invoking the time period.  Anne Lee's depiction of Old Abe captures the movement of an eagle in flight and adds much to the text.

This is a true story that will capture the imaginations of young readers... BUT.  Where are the source notes?!  Albeit, the jacket flap tells me that Patrick Young is "the great-grandson of Capt. Victor Wolf, commander of Company C of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, 'the Eagle Company'" and "He grew up hearing stories about Old Abe from his grandmother and mother..."  And I learned from this interview with the author that he "did further research to expand and update the book" (an edition was published in 1965).

However.  I wonder how we're supposed to expect kids to learn to cite their work if we're not making source notes and citations a priority in our books for children.  A list of sources or an author's note explaining that the stories had been passed down through his family would have added so much to this book and raised the overall quality.

*steps off soap box*

All that said, it's still an engaging story about the Civil War and it's accessible for kids.

Check out more reviews at The Fourth Musketeer, Bull Runnings (includes further research about Old Abe's death and some photos!), Jean Little Library, the excelsior file (who points out many apparent factual inaccuracies...) and Not Just for Kids.

Old Abe, Eagle Hero is on shelves now!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In My Mailbox #61

It's Sunday, which means it's time for In My Mailbox, a weekly meme typically hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren (note: no more roundups in 2010 - she'll be hosting them again in 2011!).

I got one book in my mailbox this week:

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf (Mira Books [Harlequin], February 2011).

Summary from ARC:

When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind forever her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child.  Her former friends exult in her downfall.  Her sister, Brynn, faces the whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school.  It's Brynn - shy, quiet Brynn - who carries the burden of what really happened that night.  All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.

Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy.  And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

Oooh, it sounds kind of intense!

What did you get in your mailbox this week?  And what books are you hoping Santa's going to bring you??

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Audiobook Review: Ramona and her Father

Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary, read by Stockard Channing.  Grades K-3.  Listening Library, 2004. 2 hours, 8 minutes.  Review copy provided by my local library.

Ramona Quimby, spunky second-grader extraordinaire, is looking forward to the upcoming Christmas holiday when the Quimby family receives terrible news: Ramona's father has lost his job.  Ramona wishes she could do something to help.  Maybe someone would pay her a million dollars to be in a commercial!  Or maybe she can at least get her father to stop smoking.  As the Quimbys pinch their pennies, it's up to Ramona to keep their spirits up!

I loved all the Ramona books when I was a kid, but I think Ramona and her Father was my favorite.  And even though it's not about Christmas, I always think of it this time of year because it starts with Ramona making her Christmas list and it ends with the Nativity scene at their church.

The Ramona books are beloved by thousands and one of the nice things about them is that they don't seem dated.  Ramona and her Father will be particularly accessible to kids today because with the economy the way it is, a parent out of work is something that many kids can relate to (unfortunately!).

Stockard Channing does a nice job of narrating these audiobooks.  She has a very nice speaking voice.  My one complaint is that I do not care for her Ramona voice.  She makes Ramona sound like a silly little kid and, while, okay, Ramona is kind of a silly kid, she's more than that to young readers.  When I read these books as a child, I identified with Ramona.  I took her more seriously (and she takes herself more seriously) than Channing's voice gives her credit for.

That said, these are nice recordings and the Ramona books are a great choice for family listening.  They're short enough that you can use them for short trips around town or pick up several for a longer car ride.

Hey, I'm an Audible affiliate, which means that if you purchase items after clicking on links from this page, I may get a small commission. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Around the Interwebs

It's been a busy week for this librarian, but I do have a couple of things for you:

Have you seen this fan-made Hunger Games scene?  I won't lie: tears were streaming down my face.  They should let these people make the movie. :)

Thanks to Betsy at A Fuse #8 Production for the link.

Melina at Reading Vacation weighs in on ereaders.  Are they naughty or nice?  Check out one tween's take!  (Personally, I am hoping Santa has an ereader in his sack for me...!)

Over at Everday Reading, Kathi Appelt's got a guest post about the importance of reading aloud.  Here's a snippet:
Having experienced this magic, my huge longing is for every child to be read to every day. I have a deep-seated belief that if that were to happen, that if every child were read to every day, by a caring adult, the world as we know would make a shift.
Now, click over and read the rest.

At Youth Services Corner, Whitney's examining some great library teen websites.  If you're thinking about revamping, check out her post for some inspiration.

What are best practices for storytime?  And what are some things not to do in storytime?   Mel's asking these questions, so head on over to Mel's Desk and share your tips and tricks!

And on that note, I'm off.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

City Across Time

Peter Kent's City Across Time by Peter Kent.  (Grades 2-6.)  Kingfisher, May 2010.  48 pages.  Reviewed from library copy.  This title has been nominated for a Cybils Award, and this review reflects only my own opinion. 

What happens to the cities that have been here before us?  Peter Kent gives readers a look at a European city from the Stone Age through the twentieth century (and beyond)!  Detailed cut-away illustrations show layers of civilization, Romans building on top of Iron Age ruins, a medieval city popping up on top of Roman ruins, etc., with each spread giving a brief overview of the time period.

This is a great choice for showing kids the progression of time and demonstrating where artifacts come from.  Kent starts the book with an introduction and information about archaeologists and how they excavate ruins to find out about the people who used to live there.  The illustrations and facts will encourage kids to explore this book again and again, each time finding something new.

Kids will pore over the illustrations, flipping back and forth to see the progression of certain details.  For example, in the 16th Century spread, a family digs a well in their basement.  In the next spread, the 17th century where the village is being pillaged, we see someone hiding bags of coins in a hollowed out niche in the well.  In the 18th century spread, the well's been sealed off, the coins still safely hidden.  They stay hidden through the 19th and 20th centuries, until the 21st century, where we see someone's found them and is delighting in his newfound riches.  There are lots of details like the coin bags and kids will delight in flipping the pages back and forth to see what happens and where certain elements appear.

The book includes a glossary, an index, and a short section with further information on the different eras.  Websites are provided for each time period as resources for further research.

Check out another review at Sal's Fiction Addiction.

Peter Kent's City Across Time is on shelves now!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gingerbread House Best Practices

I've got a post up on the ALSC Blog on gingerbread house programs!  Have you done one at your library?  Head on over there and leave us a comment with tips and tricks!  Anyone have a blog post or photos of your gingerbread house program?  Leave me a comment and I'll include your link on the post.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Bones by Steve Jenkins.  (Grades K-5.)  Scholastic, 2010.  Unpaged.  Review copy provided by my local library.  This book has been nominated for a Cybils Award and this review reflects on my own opinion.

Bones.  They're inside you.  They're inside me.  And Steve Jenkins gives us the inside scoop in his latest book.  From femurs to ribs to skulls, Mr. Jenkins describes the various types of bones found in humans and animals.  He gives brief information and what the different bones do.  For example:

"The femur, or thigh bone, helps an animal stand and walk.  In animals that live on land, this bone is often the longest in the body."

And, of course, he includes his signature cut-paper illustrations.  Now, normally Steve Jenkins's illustrations are impressive.  In Bones, his illustrations are actually kind of mind-blowing.

In each spread, Mr. Jenkins includes bones or sometimes whole skeletons from different animals.  This allows for comparison between species and some surprising conclusions.  Take the first spread with pictures of arms, for instance.  Mr. Jenkins shows us a human arm, and the arms from a mole, a spider monkey, a gray whale, a turtle, and a fruit bat.  At first glance, they appear very different, but then I read the text:

"The forelimbs, or arms, of most bony animals and build from the same pieces: one large upper arm bone, two smaller forearm bones, a bunch of little wrist bones, and a set of finger bones.  Animals may vary greatly in size, and they may use their arms to do very different things, but their forelimbs all share the same basic set of bones."

After reading that, I went back to the illustrations and, sure enough, I could pick out the structures that they had in common.

Some skeletons are represented in their entirety - a human skeleton, a two-toed sloth, even a python with nearly 200 pairs of ribs.  And this is where I get really impressed.  The amount of painstaking work that went into creating these illustrations just blows my mind!  Some of the bones are shown actual size (which is really cool) and for the ones that are not, Mr. Jenkins includes a note about the scale.

In the back of the book are two spreads with additional information and fun facts about bones.  The only thing missing is a source note, though Mr. Jenkins does thank Darrin Lunde of the American Museum of Natural History for consulting.  And I'm not sure what my real feelings are about source notes in nonfiction picture books.  The librarian in me loves to have a source note, but probably kids don't look at them unless they're particularly curious, especially in titles geared towards younger readers.  So maybe I should get over it?

This is a particularly impressive offering by one of the central authors of children's nonfiction.

Bones is on shelves now!

Happy Nonfiction Monday!  Head on over to books together for this week's roundup!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In My Mailbox #60

Hi, all.  It's time again for In My Mailbox, a weekly glimpse into the content of my mailbox (only the fun things like books, of course!).  Kristi of The Story Siren hosts the roundup, so head on over there to see which books you might want to put on your radar!

Here's what I got this week:

ETA:  Oops!  I forgot one because I was reading it and it wasn't in my pile!: 

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow (Egmont USA, December 2010).  This is a 2010 debut and I know it's written by an author of color (and featuring an Asian-American protagonist), so I'm excited to read it!

Edges by Lena Roy (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, December 2010).  This is a 2010 debut

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers (St. Martin's Griffin, December 2010).  Kelly is going to be heartbroken if I don't like this one.  It has been getting some super reviews, so hopefully I will! :) 

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal (Egmont USA, January 2011).  This is a 2011 debut and there's a story behind why I requested this one.  The very first year I won NaNoWriMo, my story was about a girl who was secretly adopted at birth and raised as a princess.  Neither the girl nor the kingdom at large knew that the queen wasn't her biological mother.  When I read the blurb for this one, it sounded kind of similar (by coincidence, only!).  Obviously I'm intrigued by the idea and I had to see what a real writer would do with it!

Taking Off by Jenny Moss (Walker, January 2011).  Historical fiction set around the Challenger space shuttle explosion.  I actually just finished this one, so except a review soon!

And that's it for my mailbox!  I have been so busy lately that I feel like I haven't had any time to read... Luckily I've got a vacation coming up after Christmas, so I plan to do nothing but read, read, read! 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Again, not book related

but since it's the holidays...

My choir (the IUS Community Chorus) is singing at a holiday concert tomorrow and it'll be broadcast live on 90.5 WUOL radio!  You can listen over the internet, so if you don't have any other entertainment plans for 3:00 EST tomorrow (Sunday, Dec. 12), please tune in and hear us!  We are singing some really beautiful songs.  The Louisville Youth Choir and the Cardinal Singers will be performing as well!

Fa la la la la!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Ack, it's been a super crazy week and I completely forgot to draw a winner for the Huge Scholastic Giveaway!  Rest assured, the random number generator selected #16, Brianna K. from Arizona, and all is right with the world.

Thanks to everyone who played!


Last month for our homeschooler program, we shared some Native American stories and one of the stories I told was Coyote's Crying Song from the book Twenty Tellable Tales by Margaret Read MacDonald.

Now, when I was telling this story, I had to pretend to fall down.  Ideally, I would not trip over my own feet and actually fall down, but, well, ideally librarians would pull in six-figure salaries and we all know that's mostly not happening.  So the first time I pretended to fall down, I actually fell down and skinned my knee on the carpet.  Um, ow. 

That was the first impact. :)

But the greater impact came today at this month's homeschooler program.  After the program, a mom brought her two 5-year-old boys up to me and they told me how much they enjoyed the "wolf singing the song" from last month.  I was so happy to hear that the story had stuck with them and they had enjoyed it enough to remember it a month later.

Librarians, we have an impact on the kids we serve.  Maybe a small impact sometimes, but lots of times it's a big, huge impact (just ask published authors if they went to the library as a kid and more often than not you'll get a happy earful, I'd bet). 

Good for you for doing what you do.

Good for you for reading stories, playing video games with teens, providing a safe place to be and to learn, and spreading a love of literacy throughout your community. 

What you do is important.
Good for you.
Good for us.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hate List

Hate List by Jennifer Brown.  (Grades 9+)  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.  405 pages.  Reviewed from ARC picked up at ALA.

Valerie created the Hate List, a list of people and things that she hated, including the kids who bullied her and her boyfriend Nick.  When Nick opened fire on their classmates, killing several students and a teacher, Valerie was implicated in the crime, even though she was the one who stopped the massacre, getting herself shot in the process.  Now, she's returning to her school, a school that's supposedly mended its ways and embraced forgiveness.  Only, everything's the same.  And everything's different.  And Valerie just has to figure out how to live with what happened.

Okaaaay, this book sat on my shelf for ENTIRELY TOO LONG.  I am now kicking myself for not picking it up before because it is WONDERFUL.  Once I (finally!!) picked it up, I did not want to put it down.

What drew me in initially was the unveiling of the tragic school shooting from different points in time.  When we first join Valerie, she's procrastinating getting ready for her first day back at school after the summer.  In alternating chapters, we get her point of view as she faces everyone at school and flashbacks about the actual event.  We also meet the students and teacher who were killed and injured in a series of newspaper articles.  It's a very effective way of painting a complete picture of the event, through Valerie's eyes.

Valerie is a layered character with a lot going on.  She's dealing with her own guilt, facing the blame of everyone around her, and also missing her boyfriend. She loved Nick.  She knew he was angry (she was angry, too), but she had no idea he'd actually do something like this.  So, not only is she dealing with the aftermath of the shooting, but she's doing it without her boyfriend by her side.

I just loved the many facets of Valerie and she seemed utterly real to me.  I also loved the many, layered supporting characters, especially Valerie's parents.  They, too, seemed utterly real, trying to move on with their lives after something like this happened, never certain about what their daughter's role in the tragedy was.  Of course, there's Jessica, a popular girl who might have been killed except that Valerie pushed her down.  Jessica seems to have really changed since the incident, but after what Nick did Valerie can't trust her own judgment enough to know if Jessica's faking it.  And Dr. Hieler, Valerie's wonderfully supportive and non-scary psychiatrist.

The writing is excellent in that it disappears, leaving just the story and the characters for the reader to experience. It's perfectly suited to this book, which is all about self-reflection and coming-to-terms.  Not once did I pause over clunky phrasing or unrealistic dialog.  Instead, I felt like Valerie was there in front of me, telling me her story.

This is a moving portrayal of a tragic event and the road to recovery and forgiveness.  I highly recommend it for anyone who's concerned with the welfare of today's teens.  If you're looking for a book that will spark discussion, look no further.

This would make a great readalike for Amy Efaw's After (which I loved) and Laurie Halse Anderson's edgier books like Speak and Wintergirls.

Read more reviews at The Reading Zone, Persnickety Snark, YA Librarian Tales, A Patchwork of Books, Reading Rants, Everyday Reading, and Galleysmith (among many others).    

Hate List is on shelves now!  And lucky us, we won't have to wait tooooo long for Jennifer Brown's next novel.  Bitter End is slated to hit shelves in May 2011.  I will definitely be looking for it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fridays are Fantastic for Homeschoolers

A commenter on this blog wanted to know a little more about our programming for homeschoolers, so I'm here today to tell you about Fantastic Fridays, our monthly program for homeschoolers.

Fantastic Friday is held the second Friday of every month at 10:00am and we do something different each month.  We talked with some of the homeschooling families that frequent the library to figure out what would be a good date/time to try some programming for homeschoolers and found out that Friday mornings are usually pretty open (no religious meetings, etc.).  In addition to our normal program publicity (press releases to newspapers, library program calendar, library website), we send information to local homeschooling groups.

We started Fantastic Fridays in January 2010 and it's been quite a success.  We usually have between 10-30 kids each month, which is a great turnout at our library.  We advertise it for ages 5 and up, but the whole family is welcome and we really try to be flexible about allowing younger kids to participate if they come.  Sometimes we split the kids up into two groups and do a program for the younger kids and a different program for the older kids, but lately we've been leaning towards keeping everyone together.  For the times we split them up, we had a storytime and craft for the younger kids (approximately ages 5-8) and another activity for the older kids (book discussion, database workshop, tour of the teen area, etc.).  If we split them up, we let parents and kids decide which group they'd like to be in.

For the past few months, we've been keeping everyone together in one group and our attendance has been skewing younger.  We typically have kids ages 5-8 and maybe a few older kids (usually older siblings attending with younger ones).

The programs we've done include:

  • Bug stories and coffee filter butterflies (for younger, while the older kids had a tutorial on how to use the library's databases)
  • A "trip to Ireland" where we shared information, food, and music from Ireland
  • Superhero stories and making a superhero flip book (for younger, while the older kids had a book discussion) 
  • A family piñata workshop
  • Native American stories and making "totem poles" out of paper towel tubes 
In December, two of my staff members are doing "A Pioneer Christmas" and making corn husk dolls and cinnamon bread.  For next year, I'm planning a storytime and craft on snow in January and a Black History Month program where we'll share the work of black illustrators and do art in the same style.  The Indiana State Library has a collection of Big Idea Kits with materials for sharing math and science concepts with young children, so we may use one or more of those in the spring.  I'm also thinking about science projects or a poetry program...

Here's the secret: programming for homeschoolers doesn't have to be any different from your typical programming for the public.  We hold it on a weekday morning and we advertise it in specialized avenues, but otherwise it's exactly what we'd plan for the general public.  Sometimes (like the piñata program), we'll offer a program for our homeschoolers and then repeat it on an evening or afternoon for the general public. 

I do think it's a good idea to talk to some of your homeschooling families and get an idea of what dates and times might be best.  There may be special events at local museums, zoos, parks, churches, or other religious facilities that you don't know about that would affect your attendance.  

For our community, it's worked to have the program on the same day each month (second Friday).  We also have a signup sheet for the next month at each Fantastic Friday program.  That way if people have had a good time and want to go ahead and reserve their spot for the next month, they can!  We encourage registration because we leave it open for all ages and that way we can get an idea about how old the kids coming will be.

Who else does programming for homeschoolers?  What do you do?  How has it turned out? 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner.  (Grades 7+)  Dial, June 2010.  259 pages.  Review copy provided by my local library.

A car crash.
Julia died in a car crash.
No one saw it coming, least of all Cass.  Julia was her best friend.  Julia was the one she shared inside jokes with.  She loved Julia.  And now that Julia's gone, Cass is not sure where she fits in.  Yeah, she's kind of got theater friends, but they were Julia's friends, really.  And after they decide to put on the musical Julia had been writing, Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad, and Julia's boyfriend casts the evil Heather Halloway as the lead, Cass has to get away.

When she returns, Cass works on the musical, designing sets and catapults and booby traps.  And Heather works on costumes next to her in the theater basement.  Cass is sure she can never forgive Heather for the horrible way Heather treated her in middle school... but then they start getting to know each other.  And Cass starts to fall for Heather.

Alternating between Cass's present, working on the musical, and her past, biking to California in memory of Julia, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend pieces together Cass's path from grief to acceptance to moving on with her life.

Note: This book is not about zombies!  I guess I don't know why I kind of thought that it was.  But it's not!  At all!  There is not even one single zombie in this book (I don't think...).  And as a member of Team Unicorn, I appreciate that. :)

Ohhh, there were many things I loved about this novel.  First of all, I love the title and the cover.  They're eye-catching and will definitely attract teens to pick up the book.  I love Cass's circle of theater friends and their devotion to Julia.  I love the musical that they're putting on.

One of the things I love most is that it's a GLTB love story that doesn't center on the experience of coming out.  And it's more than a love story - it's about friends and grief and finding your place in the world.  The love story is just a part of what this book is.

Here's the thing, though.  I felt like Cass did not have a strong voice.  She kind of reminded me of DJ Schwenk from Dairy Queen in her self-deprecating way, but where DJ has a voice you can identify anywhere, I never really felt like I heard Cass's voice.  I kept getting the dialog between Cass and Heather mixed up and I didn't have a strong connection with Cass.

Bottom line: I think that Emily Horner is definitely an author to watch and I hope to see more from her in the future.  If she keeps the geeky-cool humor and intriguing situations and adds a more distinctive voice for her characters, we're all in for a treat.

Check out more reviews at The Story Siren, The Happy Nappy Bookseller, The Compulsive Reader and Forever Young Adult (among others).

And don't miss Emily's guest post at The Story Siren, part of her GLBT Lit Days feature that ran earlier this year.

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend is on shelves now!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Yucky Worms

Yucky Worms by Vivian French, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg.  (Grades K-3.)  Candlewick Press, February 2010.  29 pages.  Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils consideration (this review reflects only my own opinion).

Who knew that a book about worms could be so darned cute and interesting?  Vivian French and Jessica Ahlberg have paired up to make it happen.  Our story starts as a young boy is helping his grandma in the garden and she finds a worm.  "Yuck!", he says. "Throw it away!"  Grandma does not throw it away, but proceeds to tell him why worms are basically awesome.

Worms not only help put nutrients back into the soil, but their tunnels allow air and water to get down to plants' roots.  As Grandma's explaining this to her grandson, we see a cutaway of the worms moving below the soil, completely with additional wormy facts and cute commentaries from the worms themselves.

Illustrations include the anatomy of a worm, a cutaway showing worm tunnels underground (easy to see how they help plants get water and air), and a picture showing worms gathering deeper underground when it gets cold.  Funny little details make the illustrations interesting and humorous.  One of my favorites is a spread where Grandma's telling about the worm's many predators and the picture shows a mole holding a shopping list that reads: "Shopping List: Worm, Worm Worm, Worm".

Included in the back of the book are tips for observing and experimenting with worms (including a reminder to be respectful, as worms are living creatures).  This is a great choice for kids who love bugs or for anyone starting a garden.

Worms are definitely not yucky here, and this information-packed book provides a super introduction to these "underground farmers".

Yucky Worms is on shelves now!

Happy Nonfiction Monday!  Check out this week's roundup over at The Reading Tub!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In My Mailbox #59

It's Sunday, which means it's time to take a look in my mailbox and see what books arrived... (Kristi at The Story Siren hosts In My Mailbox - head over there for this week's roundup!).

This week I got one book for review:

Saraswati's Way by Monika Schroder (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010).

From the jacket flap: 

Twelve-year-old Akash knows that there is nothing he can do to change his situation.  It doesn't matter how easily he can find patterns of numbers in his head, or how badly he wants to know more than he will ever be able to learn from the village math teacher, Mr. Sudhir.  If the gods wanted a poor Indian boy to get a scholarship to go to the city school, it would happen.  At least that's what Akash has always been told. 

So Akash prays to the one god he thinks might be on his side - Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom.  But it seems even Saraswati doesn't want Akash to succeed.  And when things in his home life take a dreadful turn for the worse, he suddenly finds himself given away like the runt of the litter to work off his family's debt in the landlord's quarry.  Now Akash must make a decision.  Should he leave his fate in the hands of the gods, or fight to take charge of his own life? 

Sounds like a great book and I'm excited to read it!
How about you?  What did you get in your mailbox? 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Around the Interwebs

CC: RonAlmog
Happy Hanukkah!  Celebrate by picking up some great Hanukkah books, as recommended by Margo of The Fourth Musketeer

Speaking of gift-giving holidays, MotherReader shares a bunch of ways to wrap a book.  (You also won't want to miss her 105 ways to give a book.)   

The ladies at STACKED give us ten truths about blogging.  Which ones resonate with you? 

Hey, New York librarians!  Want to blog about it?  Urban Librarians Unite is soliciting submissions on a variety of topics.  If you've got something to say, here's your chance! 

Medallion Press has a new imprint, Ya-Ya, which will publish “young adults writing for young adults."  Seems to be a growing trend, eh?  Thanks to Leila of bookshelves of doom for the link. 

And Chad Beckerman's got a really neat post about the making of the book cover for Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald.  I love peeks into the process.  Um, and those yummy cookie photos?  They are making me hungry... :) Thanks to Travis at 100 Scope Notes for the link. 

Want to know what books kids are into?  Check out the hold shelves!  Travis of 100 Scope Notes is soliciting photos of your school and children's library hold shelves for an ongoing series.  Check out his first roundup: On Hold @ the Library: November '10

Go you have games at your library?  If your collection might need a little updating, check out posts by Franki at A Year of Reading where she talks about several games she has in her school library: Pentago, math games, Gobblet Gobblers and Square Up, and two Bingo games.    

Librarians, what do you wear to work?  If you've ever been curious about the dress codes in different types of libraries across the country, you're in luck!  Check out Librarian Wardrobe, a blog that features photos of real librarians' work outfits.

ALSC members, don't forget to submit your nominations for the Children's Notables lists!  Nominations for titles to be considered for these lists will be accepted until December 10 (that's a week from today), so make sure you get 'em in. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day in the Life of a Children's Librarian

8:40am - Arrive at library, put stuff away.

8:45a - Check email, work on a short article for the newsletter about upcoming holiday programs (Holidays in the Library and the Gingerbread House Workshop).

9:10a - Get my program room set up for Mother Goose on the Loose (baby storytime) and look over the materials I planned.

9:12a - Decide I don't like the book I chose for this week and pick out another.  You can never go wrong with The Wheels on the Bus by Paul O. Zelinsky!

9:20a - Talk with one of my staff members about creating a story prop for our visits to local afterschool programs.  She's great at figuring out how to make stuff.

9:25a - Continue getting ready for Mother Goose on the Loose.  (Get my felts in order, pull a CD for intro and playtime music, set up book display, etc.)

9:45a - Read email from listservs and make a to-do list for today.

10:00a - Mother Goose on the Loose!  Afterwards one of the moms tells me that her daughter has been talking about me at home.  I stay out in the department after the program and play with the kids for a little longer... alas...

11:00a - Go back to the office and sort through some surveys that we've been handing out to help one of our local early childhood organizations.

11:10a - Practice Coyote's Crying Song for the staff in the office.  I'm telling it for our homeschooler program later in the week.  They like it!

11:20a - Take the surveys upstairs to mail.

11:25a - Clean up the program room from MGOL.

11:30a - Work on book order.

12:10p - Chat with Anthony Nava, a local Cherokee and Pascua Yaqui Indian, who brings me some information about the programs he offers.  It's too late to book him for this November (we plan and publicize our programs at least a couple of months ahead of time), but I'd like to have him in the summer when we celebrate One World, Many Stories!

12:25p - Work on book order.

1:10p - Guess I'd better eat lunch, eh?

2:00p - Meet with the staff association (I'm the Vice President, which sounds more impressive than it really is... we're an association of four and we're all officers...).  We're planning the library's holiday party, so we discuss food, door prizes, entertainment, invitations, etc.

2:45p - I leave with one of my staff members for a visit to one of our YMCA Afterschool programs.  We've been visiting all the afterschool programs over the past couple of months and it has been great fun!  Our after school programs at the library have not had great attendance, so we're trying this out and it's been much more successful!

3:05p - Arrive at school and do our program.  We share stories for 15-25 minutes (length really depends on the kids - after sitting down at school all day they don't always want to sit and listen to many stories).  Then we do a simple craft.  Here's what we read:

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

Some Thanksgiving jokes from Let's Celebrate Thanksgiving by Connie Roop

Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard (the kids *love* this book!  Even if they've already heard it, they love to hear it again.  Which is good because I could read this one over and over and not get tired of it...)

Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt

And then we pass out paper, crayons, and leaves and do leaf rubbings with the kids.  Some of them have already done it (I say, "Great!  Then you're an expert!  Will you help your friends if they don't know how to do it?"), but many of them haven't.  It's simple, not messy, cheap, and the kids can be creative with their choices of colors.  I get leaves from the many, MANY different trees in my apartment complex to offer them lots of shape choices.

3:45p - We pack up and leave the school.

4:00p - We're back at the library and I leave a little early to make it to my choir rehearsal!

Just another day in the life...