Friday, September 28, 2012


Gleaned from today's reading of the ever-fascinating "Developing Library and Information Centers" 5th edition by C. Edwards Evans and Margaret Zarnosky Saponaro, published in 2005 by Libraries Unlimited(and thus quite outdated for this topic since e-publishing has turned everything on its head...) :   "Bibliomania is defined as 'excessive fondness for acquiring and possessing books'.  Most bibliomaniacs (librarians included) cannot stay out of bookstores and consider it a great feat of willpower and self-control if they manage to leave one without buying a book or two." (or three or four - especially if that store is Half-Priced Books, say I)

Friday, September 21, 2012

EAR CANDY - "Seraphina"

I finished listening to "Seraphina" by Rachel Hartman. 
Hartman - in her debut novel - has created a world where humans and dragons have created an uneasy peace treaty.  Very few humans actually like dragons - the find them to be monsters.  And for the dragons - well, they can take human form.  Usually the humans know that they are dragons - but not always.  The dragons could also wipe the humans out if they chose to do so - but they are very logical, mathematical creatures that feel they can learn something from the humans.  They also still fly and breathe fire - but only when they are in their dragon form.  

The story revolves around Seraphina Dombegh.  Who just happens to be part dragon and part human. The story opens with her being born - and her mother dying.  But Seraphina does not look like a dragon.  In fact, she looks like any other 16 year old girl.  It's what goes on in her head - and her extraordinary musical talent - that set her apart from others.  Her father is at a loss what to do with her so much of her growing up years are spent with her maternal Uncle Orma.  Who is indeed a dragon - but maintains human form as a music instructor.  Because of her musical abilities, Seraphina is chosen to be music mistress at the royal palace and teach harpsichord to Princess Glisselda.  Lots of court intrigue, romance, murder, etc.  

There has to be a sequel - we have to find out who the other grotesques are.  And what happens to Princess Glisselda.  And where Orma is.  And Kiggs!  What happens with Lucian Kiggs!?!  See - you know you want to read it, now.  Or listen to it.  It's long-ish.  The books is 400+ pages which puts the audio book at around 15 CDs, I think?  

And now I am listening to "The Sandcastle Girls" by Chris Bohjalian.  It's about monsters of a different sort - those that decide they want to wipe out an entire race of people.  In this case, it is the Turks who have decided to wipe out the Armenians.  The year is 1915 - which most people remember for WW1 but the Armenians remember as Holocaust.  This is based on a true story -- the Turks killed over 1 million Armenians.  The story is told from a 1915 perspective and also from modern day.  Thus the audiobook has two very distinct narrators.  I might be finished with it by next Friday!  Happy listening!  

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Or at least - one question to start with.  For one of my classes I have to respond to an article on the death of libraries.  So I am doing some VERY unscientific research on my own to see what people think.  I also need to come up with a more legitimate survey and I want to see if I am headed in the right direction.

So - here is the question.  You can comment here or on my Facebook page - whichever is easiest.  And I know I could create a poll but I need more information than a close-ended question allows.  

Do you use your public library?  If yes - how?  And if no - why not?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012


My assignment for this week is poetry!  I had to read books from a specific list and then select five that would work with my focus group (K-3rd grade).  I love poetry so that wasn't hard - I did have some difficulty finding the exact books listed in the textbook but I was able to find similar books by authors that were listed.  But first - one of my favorite poems by Shel Silverstein -- The Snowball.

I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be.
I thought I’d keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me.

I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first– – it wet the bed.

Now - on to the books!
Lewis, J. Patrick, pictures by Victoria Chess. A Hippopotamusn’t
Dial Book for Young Readers   1990

A timeless book of animal poems!  It made me smile.  I liked the fact that he used all different types of poetry – couplets, free verse, poems in the shape of the animal, limericks, and Haiku, to mention a few.  This would be a good introduction to poetry for the K – 3 group, picking simpler poems for the younger crowd while using the entire book with the older ones. 

Hughes, Langston; photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr. My People Atheneum 2009

Few people write more eloquently than Langston Hughes.  I have long been a fan of his which is why I am including both books.  This short poem (only 33 words) was written in the late 1920s during the Harlem Renaissance, a complex time for blacks.  Hughes wrote it to celebrate the pride he had for his race.  This book would be used with 5 and 6 year olds – we would read the book and then create a bulletin board with our own photographs.

Hughes, Langston; illustrated by E. B. Lewis The Negro Speaks of Rivers Disney/Jump at the Sun 2009

This one would be for the older end of my focus group.  Langston Hughes wrote this poem – connecting the history of black people with rivers – when he was only 17 (or 18) years old!  E. B. Lewis does an amazing job with his illustrations – which will help the seven and eight year olds interpret the poem for themselves. I would have a world map up on the wall so that, after reading the poem, we could identify the rivers and countries mentioned - and explore why Langston Hughes chose those examples.

Nelson, Kadir.  He's Got the Whole World In His Hands. Dial: 2005

I would use this book in conjunction with "My People" by Langston Hughes.  The world would be a good centerpiece for all the photographs. 

Prelutsky, Jack with paintings by Ted Rand. If Not for the Cat Greenwillow Books 2004

Not your typical Prelutsky – this is a delightful collection of 17 Haiku, each one a riddle about an animal.  Ted Rand has painted delightful double page illustrations, one to accompany each 17 syllable poem and reveal the answer to each riddle.  I would use some of the haiku in this book with 1st graders as a sort of mystery guessing game.  The vocabulary in some of the haiku is quite simple while in others it is more complex – this allows you to use a variety of haiku with different age groups.  For 2nd and 3rd graders, I would use the entire book as a unit to introduce haiku.  It could be used in an English class, a science class, and/or an art class –  it could easily be adapted to a variety of curriculums!   Or, in the library, you could have an entire month devoted to poetry (April, for example) and use this book to introduce Haiku for one of the sessions.  Then the kids could create their own Haiku or copy one of these and illustrate it.  

Sidman, Joyce illustrated by Paul Allen Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night
Houghton Mifflin books for Children 2010

A collection of poems about the night, again using a variety of poetry styles.  This book would be for the older, more accomplished readers in my group.   Mr. Allen’s illustrations were created by the process of relief printing using linoleum blocks.  There is a description of the printing process at the beginning of the book.  Accompanying each poem is a detailed description of the subject of the poem – for example, I learned that a baby porcupine is called a porcupette.   Wouldn't it be fun to do potato or vegetable printing to give the kids an idea of the process Mr. Allen used to create the pictures in the book?

Sidman, Joyce pictures by Beth Krommes Swirl by Swirl:  Spirals in Nature
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children October 4, 2011

This second Sidman collection could complement the Dark Emperor book by appealing to the younger children in my focus group.  It is a wonderful introduction to nature and, though not in a traditional rhyming poetry form, it is lyrical.  The author explores all the different places one can find spirals in nature.  There is further explanation at the end of the book. 

Friday, September 14, 2012


My assignment for my Children's Literature class this week was to review some of the journals that are published to help make choosing books a bit easier on the folks that purchase books for libraries.  

There are several such publications - The Hornbook and School Library Journal are devoted to children's literature.  Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, and Booklist review all types of books.  The Hornbook is my favorite.  I even received a subscription as a gift this year and I read it from cover to cover almost as soon as it arrives.  

The purpose of the assignment was to help us find current books to supplement the lists provided in our textbook.  Thus we had to look at reviews and select five books - all published in 2012 - that would be appropriate for my focus group (K-3). And I had to tie them together with a theme.  I chose singing as my theme and these are the books that I listed: 

Monkey and Elephant  by Carole Lexa Schaefer - I have not had a chance to read this one yet but it is compared to Lobel's "Frog and Toad" series.  It is divided into short chapters.  It's about Monkey and Elephant's friendship.  And, in one chapter, they need to sing to solve a problem.

It's Raining, It's Pouring by Peter, Paul and Mary - A lovely book illustrated by Christine Davenier.  The story opens with Grandpa hitting his head, of course.  And then it begins to rain.  There is a CD included so if you have never heard Peter, Paul, and Mary's version of the song, then you can listen - and sing along - as you read the book.  

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons  by Eric Litwin   - I love all of the Pete the Cat books.  Though this may be my favorite.  Pete has four buttons on his favorite shirt - unfortunately, one button pops off.  And then another.  But does he cry?  Goodness no!  He just keeps on singing.  

Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes - this is a new series of early readers about an adorable little mouse named Penny.  She comes home from school one day all ready to share her song with the family but - the babies are sleeping and she might wake them up! Will Penny ever get to sing her song?  What do YOU think will happen?  It's delightful - and there's more!  Penny and Her Doll and Penny and Her Marble are on the horizon.  

Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy  by Jan Thomas - This one actually has not even been published yet but - what can I say?  It has cows.  

Happy reading - and singing!  



Well, at least at Dowell Middle School.  Check out this Bookloose video on Youtube!  (thanks to Katie for letting me know about it.)  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

WONDER by R. J. Palacio  Wonder is by American writer R.J. Palacio.

This book resonated with me because my oldest son, James, was born with a cleft palate.  Though his was definitely nothing like August's - I could still relate a tiny bit to the surgeries and the feeding problems.  And I well remember going to the Cleft Palate Clinic and sitting in the waiting room with a dozen other families and small children in various stages of plastic surgery.  

The book is told from differing viewpoints which initially caught me by surprise because the first 80 pages is strictly from the viewpoint of August (or Auggie) and then suddenly we switch to - his sister, Via, I think.  And then to someone else.  Which was good - just unexpected.  I have read reviews that did not like some of the voices that were chosen - but I thought they all had good questions and viewpoints.  If they had not been there, then some things that Ms. Palacio wanted to say would have gone unsaid, I think.     

August is entering 5th grade.  He has a severe (emphasis on the word severe) facial deformity and he has been homeschooled up to this point but his parents think it would be a good idea for him to try school.  Not public school but a smaller private school.  He is understandably against this idea. At first.  But after he meets a couple of the kids, he decides to give it a try. And so the book covers Augie's first year of school.  

The book is all about kindness and putting others before you.  Also about not judging a book (or a boy, in this case) by its cover.  Actually, all the kids have hangups.  It's just that Augie's is very visible and so it takes a while to uncover what is going on with his sister and the kids that befriend (or don't befriend) Augie.   

I would really like to hear from kids that read the book and then reviewed it or talked about it.  I think it would make a great read-aloud in a middle school classroom.  There are so many areas that could be opened up for class discussion and class projects.  But in all the comments that I read, none of them were from children - they were all from adults.  The only one that came close was a mom who said her daughter had a hard time getting into the book.  Which, I suppose, is my point.  I don't know many 5th graders that would pick the book up to read it on their own.  Eighth or ninth graders might - if you can push the viewpoint of Auggie's older sister, Olivia (or Via).  She plays a major role in the book.  But I feel like this is yet another book with the word "Newbery" buzzing around it that really is not something children would read.  

I would recommend it - just keep a box of Kleenex close by because a few tears may flow. 


The following is not meant to be a political comment about anyone or anything - it is merely to remind folks that sometimes there is more at stake than we think.  The library in Troy, Michigan had an innovative way to respond to their funds being cut.  Watch the video!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I am guessing if you own an e-book reader, then you know about the price-fixing settlement reached last week on September 6th.  But there was more to all this than meets the eye.  I am not an expert on any of the legalities.  But as I was browsing through some library news, a few things caught my eye.

The first is - apparently with the new Kindle Fire there is a feature called Whispersync.  This allows you to switch back and forth between the audiobook version and the e-book version.  Of course, this also means that you have to pay for the audiobook version and the e-book version.  Apparently, Amazon has been trying to get this off the ground for quite some time but since e-book and audiobooks are two different creatures, they could not get the rights to do that.  You have always had the option to have a book read to you by the Kindle computer like voice but now you can actually have the professionally read (and often dramatized) audiobook version.  IF you pay for it, of course.  And, apparently, there may even be a version that will let you listen and read at the same time.  Remember those books you had when you were a kid?  They would "ding" when it was time to turn the page.  That sort of thing - Exciting stuff for reluctant readers and/or auditory learners!  

There is also apparently a Kindle Serials subscription where you can get serialized books.  Think Mr. King's "The Green Mile" only a' la Kindle.  For those too young to remember, when Stephen originally published  "The Green Mile" in 1996, it was in six small paperbacks published over a series of six months.  It was quite thrilling to wait for the next installment to appear, especially since there were several of us reading the book and speculating on what would happen next!  I am not sure how this will do - though I can say that books in series are very, very popular with the YA crowd.  

And now we wait to see if Amazon drastically cuts prices on their e-books.  Just in time for the holidays!  

If you want to read a bit more on all of this, you can read Hats off to Amazon by Mike Shatzkin, since it was the inspiration and source of much of this information.  He actually knows what he is talking about.  :-)

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Those of us who dwell in Libraryland (think Candyland only with books!) hear a lot of chatter about picture books.  Picture books are dying, picture books are terrible, teachers telling parents that Kindergarten and 1st and 2nd graders should not be reading or looking at picture books - they should focus on easy readers.  

Well, I love picture books.  And I am guessing that everyone out there in the internet world has at least one picture book that they remember fondly.  And, quite honestly, children are pretty discerning when it comes to what they think makes a good picture book.  

Candlewick is a publisher and they are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.  They have also chosen to celebrate the picture book. How, you ask?  By having a video every day on their website "We Believe in Picture Books".  The first video was posted on August 31st. It has two wonderful people (Elizabeth Bird and Travis Jonker) carrying on a conversation with just picture books.  I have not watched all of the videos and I am sure some are better than others.  But take a peek if you get a chance.  You never know what - or who - might show up.  

Friday, September 7, 2012


Urban Dictionary defines ear candy as "your favorite music or listening to an accent that you just adore".  Fridays may touch on that - but mostly it will be my own definition ~ whatever audio book I am currently listening to or possibly the one I just finished.  

Audio books can be expensive;  often twice as much or more than the book.  Though there are websites devoted to finding them free on the web, my audio books originate almost exclusively from the library.  

If you listen to audio books, then you know that the narrator makes a big difference in how much you enjoy or become sucked into the book.  The narrator for John Grisham's "Calico Joe" is Erik Singer and he does a fine job reading this book.  He also narrated Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture" - which was also very well done.  But "Calico Joe" is the last audio book I finished.  It is about baseball.  I am not a diehard baseball fan.  I usually watch the playoffs and the World Series if there's a team that I care about that makes it that far.  But I like Mr. Grisham on occasion so my dh and I decided to give this one a listen.  

It's a great story; short, an easy read (or listen).  And I learned a lot about baseball.  I had no idea that players intentionally hurt each other in retaliation for either real or perceived offenses.  I had no idea that a player would "charge the mound" - also in retaliation; usually because the pitcher had hit the person batting.  Who knew?  (Lots of people - just not me!)  

It's difficult to talk about the book without giving away spoilers.  The book jumps back and forth from modern day to 1973 when our narrator, Paul Tracey, was in love with baseball.  His dad, Warren,  pitched for the Mets.  Warren Tracey is not a nice guy.  Out of nowhere, 21 year old Joe Castle from Calico, Arkansas, made the leap from AA ball to play first base for the Cubs.  And he was an amazing player.  Paul idolized him.  Eventually, of course, the Mets played the Cubs.  Paul was in the stands and it's what happened during that game that is the basis for the book.  Great story; great characters.  Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I was pondering what to write for today's Kid Lit when my inbox gave me the answer!
Elizabeth O. Dulemba is an author, artist, illustrator, blogger, app creator, instructor, and major encourager,  - I have followed her blog for ages and used her coloring pages many times for my story hours.  She has wonderful news today that I am excited to share on my blog!

Her app - "Lula's Brew" is being turned into a book!  Here is Elizabeth's description of the book  -   Lula's Aunties want her to be a witch like them.  But Lula would rather study cookbooks than spell books (and hates to fly on a broom).  Lula wants to be a famous chef.  In desperation, the Aunties insist she try to make on last potion.  Lula secretly adds her cooking flair and creates a brew that bewitches the entire town, including her Aunties! 
    This fun rhyming tale transcends the typical Halloween story to appeal to cooks and "foodies" throughout the year.

If you would like to help spread the word or purchase a copy for your library or for your very own, just click to find out all the important details.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


And YA stands for Young Adult Lit!  September is a big publishing month so today's post will be a preview of a few books to look forward to in the fall.  I have not seen or read any of these - I have just read a bit about them.  And my interest was piqued.  

The first one is "The Raft" by S. A. Bodeen.  It's about a 15-year old girl named Robie.  Through a series of circumstances - including a plane crash - she ends up on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  And then on a deserted island.  The description reminded me of "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen but with a female protagonist.  I want to read this one!  

Next is Jasper Fforde's "The Last Dragonslayer".  The Hornbook review said it was similar to Terry Pratchett in tone.  Dragons.  Or possibly the last dragon.  And the Kazam Mystical Arts Management.  And a young girl named Jennifer Strange.  Mr. Fforde usually writes books for adults; I started reading "The Eyre Affair" but could not get into it.  But I might give "The Last Dragonslayer" a try.

Speaking of Terry Pratchett, he also has a new book coming out on September 25th - "Dodger".  I believe it is a cross between fantasy and historical Victorian England.  Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, and - of course - The Artful Dodger himself.  

And, of course, "Son" by Lois Lowry.  The long-awaited final book in the series that began with "The Giver".  

Libba Bray has a new series coming out for older teens - "The Diviners" is the first book.  I do enjoy Libba Bray!  I will need to check this one out.

Last, but not least, is Gary D. Schmidt's "What Came from the Stars".   The hero of our story is Tommy Pepper - 12 years old, mourning the death of his mother.  And then there is a planet in outer space.  And a chain that ends up in Tommy's lunchbox that originated on this planet.  It's said to have "Tolkienesque" language and if one likes Gaiman then...  'nuf said.  

I will post comments about which ones I actually manage to read!  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our State Fair is a great state fair...

Well, it's that time of year again,folks!  When the Dallas Morning News announces the Fried Food Winner - the 2012 Big Tex Choice Awards!  There were two - one for taste and one for creativity.  The most creative winner was Fried Bacon Cinnamon Rolls!  On a stick of course.  And the winner for tastiest went to Fried Jambalaya.  I will probably pass on that one but I might just try the bacon cinnamon rolls.  And I definitely want to try the Fried Pork Wings.  Yes - you read that correctly.  These must be those flying pigs we've heard about...  Be sure and check out the slide show on the link so you can peek at all eight of the finalists.  
The fair opens September 28th and closes October 21st.  Big Tex is 60 this year so you know it's just going to be one big party.  The Killdares are back.  And the Bird Show.  So "don't miss it - don't even be late!"  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mondays are for Memories

Virginia Lee Burton.  Does that name evoke any memories?  I honestly do not remember reading her books when I was a child.  But I do remember reading them to my children.  "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel", "Katy and the Big Snow", and "The Little House".  She actually wrote a few more than that - though not many.  She was an artist and her work includes more than her children's books.  
She wrote her books for her boys.  If they did not enjoy them or if there was a part where their interest wandered, she would go back and rewrite - or redraw - until it was something they enjoyed.  I found that to be a wonderful insight.  
My personal favorite was "The Little House".  The house really existed!  It was their house and they moved it off of a busy street into a field of daisies.  
Some might think that a book about a steam shovel or a snow plow might not be very interesting nowadays.  But I would encourage you to give Mrs. Burton's books a try.  They have underlying messages of friendship and perseverance that are never outdated.  Try pairing them with some of Kate McMullan's books such as "I Stink" or "I'm Dirty".  And then go out and visit a construction site so you and your children can watch the big machines at work!  I know my boys never tired of watching the street sweeper run through our alley when we lived in California.  
Something I learned while researching "Rascal" - it was adapted for a Japanese anime in 1977 - fifty two episodes!  It was titled "Rascal the Raccoon" and Sterling's name was changed to Robby.  Hayao Miyazaki was the key animator on twenty of the episodes.  And it also created a serious raccoon problem in Japan since children wanted to own their own baby raccoon...  Who knew?  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

1963 marked the publication of "Rascal, A Memoir of a Better Era" by Sterling North.  I turned seven that year and, at some point, my mother read the book to my brother and me.  The book is a remembrance of Sterling's childhood - the year he was eleven and raised a baby raccoon named Rascal.  His mother was dead, his father a bit distant and preoccupied.  This gave him plenty of time to have adventures with Rascal!  It is one of my favorites - and there is a lovely Norwegian neighbor who looks out for Sterling and helps him nurse the tiny raccoon.  One of the expressions they used was "Ishkabibble!  I should worry!"  Now, if you Google ishkabibble, you will come up with some interesting information - it was the name of a character on a TV show, some folks think it is made up Yiddish, etc.  But for me, it is a fondly remembered line from a beloved book.  Isn't it amazing how books touch our lives and shade our memories?  

So - this blog is all things bookish.  Some old; most new.  I hope to post daily but since I am currently pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Library Science, well -- you may end up reading some of my assignments.  

In an attempt to be semi-organized - 
Mondays will be for memories.  These are books that I remember from childhood.  Or that I read to my boys as they were growing up.

Tuesdays are Newsdays.  I hope to link to articles on wonderful new ideas for libraries and books.  For example, last Tuesday's Diane Reim Show, on NPR, was all about e-books and libraries.  Take a listen if you get a chance.  Or just read through the comments.  

Wednesdays are for YA - or Young Adult literature.  My YA news from last week is that Moira Young is publishing a sequel to "Blood Red Road"! It is titled "Rebel Heart" and will be released on October 30th.  Woo-hoo!  More adventures with Saba and Jack!

Thursdays will be all those wonderful children's books!  My granddaughter has discovered cabinet doors.  The opening and shutting of them.  I think it may be time for "Meeow and the Pots and Pans" by Sebastien Braun!

Friday is for audio books.  I have a 20 minute commute to the library on those days that I work.  And longer commutes to other places.  So I listen to audio tapes.  It's a good exercise in self-control because I have to restrain myself from finding a print copy of the book in order to keep reading!  Right now I am listening to "Seraphina" by Rachel Hartman.  It's about an alternate world - Medieval time frame - and dragons.  Need I say more?  

Saturday and Sunday will be for the odds and ends - the occasional adult book that I read.  I just finished "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce.  Hmmm.  I think I read a lot of British authors.  It is charming and poignant and not what you think it will be.  It has a tiny bit of bad language, though.  So be forewarned.  
Or it may be for the occasional movie that I see.  Or anything else that needs doing.

And so the journey begins.  Thanks for loving books and libraries.