Friday, December 31, 2010


Confession: Sometimes when I’m weeding books I read the last few pages of the book because once I know the plot I need to know what happens. And if I’m not going to read the whole book (because I’m like that) then I read the last few pages.

So the grocery store in Nancy’s neighborhood is having a contest to see who can guess the number of jelly beans in the jar and winner goes to space camp with friends.

(warning: the rest of this rant is spoilery so skip over if you care about the twist ending of THE NANCY DREW NOTEBOOKS #61 SPACE CASE!)

The boys buy a jar exactly the same size as the one the store is using and fill it with jelly beans and count them. And then brag about it on stage after winning for guessing exactly the right amount. And then get disqualified because they didn’t GUESS, they FIGURED IT OUT.

Lets ignore for a moment the fact that they shouldn’t have gotten it right on the nose (jelly beans settle differently, there’s always one or two malformed ones that may or may not count, etc.) and focus on what I think is a grave injustice. Yes what the boys did wasn’t necessarily in the spirit of the contest … but was it cheating? Was it worthy of being disqualified for? Is it really that much different than counting the amount of JBs on the bottom of the jar, counting how many deep JBs are going down the edge, and multiplying? Because that’s what I always did when I was little.

I dunno - I think that Nancy Drew winning in the end was kindof a cop out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Huntress by Malinda Lo

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Do y'all remember my love of Ask by Malinda Lo? Do you remember how I loved it so much that I forced one of my best friend to read it and she loved it too! Well if you took my advice and read it have I got exciting news for you! (If you haven't read it yet - GET ON IT! Please?) Malinda Lo has been hard at work on a prequel! Huntress by Malinda Lo will be out in April 2011 and I cannot wait. Look at that cover. LOOK AT THAT COVER! The description from Goodreads:

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Taninli, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo’s highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

Sounds amazing, yes? I can't wait!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

linkety link link links

The Green Bean Teen Queen (one of my favorite bloggers ever - why is she not in my side bar? Fixing that RIGHT NOW! Wow my sidebar is sparse. I need to add a ton into that.) had a contest a few weeks ago to win a slew of books from Scholastic. Guess who won? And SCORE! Two of the books are Christmas books (I Spy a Christmas Tree and It's Christmas David) - which will help my Advent Book calendar. We only owned around 10 wintery/holiday books already this year and I didn't get the idea until the day before Advent so I will admit that days 2 - 14 on my advent calendar are library books. Also two of the books I'd never even heard of (Captain Sky Blue and Tony Baloney) - which is disappointing (what kind of a children's librarian am I if I've never heard of EVERY BOOK EVER?) and exciting! Because who doesn't LOVE brand new books that are surprises even to me! And the last two books I already knew I needed to own. That spread in the middle of The Odious Ogre? The one with the temper tantrum? It just gets me every time.

I adore Pride and Prejudice so when Miss Elizabeth Bennet's inbox was leaked on the internet I have to admit that I read it - and giggled like nothing else. My favorite part? "Fwd: Hot! Chk out Bingley on a Horse! Jane Bennet"

Being a big ole geek and a big ole sap I loved Katie's Story about a Star Wars loving girl who got bullied about loving something "boyish" - and the internet jumped to her defense. I especially love (in this day and age where you hear awful bullying stories with schools not doing anything) that her school also jumped in to have a whole week dedicated to liking what you want to like and it all culminated on Friday with "Proud to be Me" day. I LOVE THIS!

Bonjour Cass has given us part one of A Guide to Reviewing GLBTQ books that is super informative and really should be read by everyone.

Not a children's book at all but A Song of Ice and Fire is being turned into what looks like the most kick-ass HBO series EVER. I love this series with a passion that I cannot even tell you. I need to reread - and soon! At least the first book ...

Also if you have an ALSC membership, there was a great piece in there recently about the baby SRP that I helped put together at my library. I'm super proud! It was beyond successful - we had to order extra prizes in the middle of the summer!

And that's basically it for book related thoughts! I'm making these wonderful looking cookies later this week and that, as they say, is that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lately I've been inundated with fantastic picture books on our New Books cart - so I'm going to share some of my absolute favorites. Quick little reviews - aaaand GO!

Sleepy, oh so Sleepy by Denise Fleming - I brought this book home last night on a whim because of a love of the cover and it was such a win. I love Denise Fleming's art - the narrator looks at various baby animals being "sleepy, oh so sleepy!" then asks where hir sleepy little baby is then off to look at more adorable sleepy baby animals. This is basically cute overload the picture book - and I mean that in the best possible way.

More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt ; illustrated by Troy Cummings is absolutely adorable and reminds me of stories that I tell Kins and Pips. I've got an idea in my head and I know where it's going ... "and then a WITCH came!" Only in this book the Kinses and Pipses keep yelling "MORE BEARS!" so the writer keeps adding in more and more bears and really it is complete fun. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

I've been hearing really good things about There's Going to be a Baby by John Burningham with illustrations by Helen Oxenbury for awhile so I was excited when it showed up on our New Books cart! All the buzz is worth it. A mother and son (side note: it's very obvious that it is a boy child in the bath so be forewarned that some parent may mention it) are discussing the new baby coming and what sorts of things the baby will do. Big brother is having problems envisioning the baby growing up but that just makes the conversation all the better! And Helen Oxenbury is always a favorite - I love her art - and this book is one of her best. The illustrations are perfect.

I'm in love with the cover of The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore. The actual story is wonderful as well but that cover! Just look at it! This is a story of a book lost in the forest and every animal uses it for a different purpose until a little boy comes along and reads the story inside - the story of the animals who found the book before the boy.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Fun

Little Boy: We are checking out SO MANY BOOKS!
LP: Yes you are!
LB: If we were checking out any more we'd need a HUGE GIANT CRANE!
LP: Maybe I'll send my pet dragon over to help you.
LB: I don't think those exist.
LP: Oop. You've found me out.
LB: I also don't believe in magic.
LP: !!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big Bouffant by Kate Hosford and ABC is for Circus by Patrick Hruby

Title: Big Bouffant
Author: Kate Hosford
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Pub Date: 04/01/2011 - APRIL FOOLS DAY!
Reviewed from: Galley from Netgalley

Title: ABC is for Circus
Author: Patrick Hruby
Publisher: Ammo Books
Pub Date: on sale now!
Reviewed from: Galley from Netgalley

Sidenotes: I put all the info at the top because I want to do more of a story dual review than a more regular review - because for me these two books will always be intertwined with tonight. Also I can't find either of these books on Indiebound so I'm linking to Amazon instead of to Indiebound. I'm still a huge fan of the little guy and fully encourage everyone to buy local. But whatever. Also? I'm typing this on my sister's laptop - a MacBook. OMG. There is no home key. And if I press ctrl + shift + arrow to highlight lots of text at once it doesn't let me. Not only does it not let me but it BEEPS at me and makes me all sorts of upset. Also it'll underline words it thinks are spelled wrong but there is no right click button! How am I supposed to right click without the ability to right click? That sounds like some sort of Zen meditation but it is actually a dire problem. And I'm sorry - I'm not even going to try to put pictures on here. I'm super fail with a Mac. I'll get better. But anyway - the books.

I used to talk a lot about my neurosis on this blog but then I found somewhere else to ramble incessantly so they haven't been on here recently and this blog can be a hair more professional. Tonight? The neuroses. What on earth does this have to do with books? Wait - I'll get there.

Pippa is a pretty easy sleeper but Kaylee has always been hard to get to bed. Tonight I'm taking care of my brother's girlfriend's son as well as both of my girls while my whole family is at the Notre Dame game. I only enjoy football in big groups of people I love which this game would have been but since someone had to stay home with the teeny tinys, I would much rather do that. And we all had a lovely night. And Pippa went to bed beautifully. And Aaron went to bed beautifully. And Kaylee lay in bed and whined and cried and called for me. I've learned to give her 15 minutes between goings in to see her. I hate it, it's hard, but the other option is lying in her bed for an hour or so until we both drift off to sleep and I wake up with a crick in my neck and a foot in my nostril. So tough love it is. And tonight it was hard. And I was sitting in my bed feeling sorry for myself and, "oh woe is me my brother's girlfriend is better at raising kids than I am, look her baby went right to sleep even though mine is 10 feet from him making enough noise to wake the dead." You know those nights, right?

And then I hear the pitter patter of little feet and there was Kaylee looking up at me with tear filled eyes, "Mom - the only thing that will ever make me happy ever is one book. One really good book."

We're on vacation and I thought I was being so smart by going to the second hand store (kid's books 15 for $1!) and buying a slew of paperbacks and only packing those. Light, small, and if they get lost or ripped on the journey it isn't such a big deal. The problem? While some of the books I brought are good (Tarzanna is my favorite), none are that perfect book, ya know? And I pulled Kaylee up onto my sister's amazingly tall guest bed and thought about how I would fix this conundrum. And then I remembered that the good folks at NetGalley had given me 2 picture books to review! So I pulled them out and they are both absolute winners, folks. I will be buying both of these for real. My favorite was Big Bouffant. Kaylee's favorite was ABC is for Circus but I think for both of us it was a pretty close tie. And the best part? After I read the books I carried Kaylee back to bed and she went right to sleep. MAGIC BOOKS!

The beginning of Big Bouffant reminds me of The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School. On Anabelle's first day of school she notices how everyone has one of just a few hair styles so she resolves to do something different and falls in love with her grandmother's bouffant. Her mother is skeptical of doing such an involved and strange hairdo on the girl so she tries to do it herself with ... severely weird results. And then her mother relents and she becomes an absolute hit at school with everyone (including the boys) joining in to see just how high they can get their hair. Holly Clifton-Brown's artwork is gorgeous and fun and made me want to join Anabelle's class. Their teacher was wearing plaid pants with an orange star-filled shirt on the first day - how can you not want to learn from a lady like that? And Kate Hosford's rhyming text was just fun to read to Kaylee. I love it when a book makes her giggle throughout - and with any luck she'll get over her hatred of having her hair brushed (which doesn't go so well with her fear of getting her hair cut) and let me give her a bouffant!

ABC is for Circus is just gorgeous. (Sidenote: since I had to look this book up on Amazon I discovered that the artist has also made this gorgeous puzzle. Kaylee is currently obsessed with both puzzles and princesses so a puzzle of a princess castle done by the artist of one of her favorite new books? I think I know what she's getting for Christmas.) It was full of words that Kaylee didn't know (calliope and kerchief) but now she does. I've found that ABC books are so much more fun now that Kaylee has a pretty firm grasp of not only what the ABCs are but how they work and finding unusual ABC books is always a good vocabulary builder. Also I feel I need to give major props to Patrick Hruby for really only having one word that isn't exactly perfect. Y is for Yellow. Usually a themed ABC book has a handful of letters that you can tell made the author really stretch for a word - but ever word in here is perfect. My favorite was the t for tiger - that was one gorgeous tiger.

Overall four enthusiastic thumbs up from both Kaylee and I and many thanks to everyone involved in these books at all for turning my terrible blues into a happy memory.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fun

I was helping a boy and his mother find a biography and when the mother asked the boy if he knew who Houdini was the boy replied, "Duuuuuh. I've read, like, a hundred books on Houdini."

(incident happened earlier but I'm saving this for Friday fun. Because Friday is VACATION!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What they're reading now

Pippa loves books and for the first time ever she's showing book preference. It warms my librarian heart! The main object of her affections is Baby Dance by Ann Taylor. I love this book - it's to the tune of Hush Little Baby and any book I get to sing makes me happy. And the story is so perfect for our family - the mama is lying on the couch while the daddy is throwing the baby in the air. I don't know how Brandon always has so much energy after dinner but while I'm begging the girls to play board games or do puzzles with me, Brandon can muster the umpf to throw them in the air or play our favorite game of tick-tock. I love this book! Pips also shows a strong preference toward this gorgeous rendition of Pat-a-cake by R. A. Herman. I always have trouble reading this because it's got the traditional chant going along the top and a story of a baker baking along the bottom - it throws me off to read them both at once so I have to read it twice.

Kaylee cried when I left for work today. Did she cry because she was going to miss me? No. She was crying because I was returning Hat by Paul Hoffe. We're going on vacation tomorrow for a week and I wanted all library books returned before then. I'm thinking this one will either be re-checked out immidiately upon return and/or eventually bought for Kinsie. The story is very reminicent of New Socks - one of my absolute favorite books. A boy finds a hat on a park bench and he imagines all the wonderful things he could do with that hat! But then his mother reminds him of whoever the hat belongs to - who would need that hat to do all those wonderful things. It's adorable and great fun and I am sad I didn't know about it for the hat storytime I did 2 weeks ago! It's one of those books that I put on hold for the storytime but came in the day after - so Kaylee got it instead! And she is very grateful.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bless this Mouse by Lois Lowry

Title: Bless This Mouse
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub Date: 03/21/2011
Reviewed from: Galley from Netgalley

I have a bit of a strange relationship with Lois Lowry. For the most part I adore her books, and then every once in awhile I read a book that either doesn't excite me or that I completely hate and I don't know what to do with myself. How can I dislike a book by LL?

Fortunately I am exceptionally pleased to share that Bless This Mouse is fantastic. Beautiful! Fun! Heartwarming! Perhaps it's because of a childhood addiction to Brian Jacques, but Animal Fantasies will always have a special place in my heart and to see them done really well makes me beyond happy.

Hildegarde is the leader of a large group of mice that live in the church and she takes care of them well. She organizes how they will stay safe when the church celebrates the Feast of St. Francis and all the parishioners bring in their animals (including the cats!), she helps the families find places to stay together and hidden, and most importantly, she keeps a watch out for The Great X.

Despite the drama of the exterminators coming and the feast of St. Francis being moved inside, this was a quiet book - it almost seemed more like an extended character study of this group of mice - Hildegarde in particular. Lowry tiptoes into this world and writes what is there and who is there and how they behave and then just as quietly* she tiptoes out and leaves this world to continue revolving without her observation.

*For those of you who've read this book: yes, I know that final scene was dramatic and gorgeous but wasn't it also beautiful and quiet in it's own way?

This book was short and I feel like writing more about what happened will give away what little plot there is - so I'm just going to leave this with a hearty recommendation for anyone who is a fan of Brian Jaques, Edward Tulane, or who just wants a beautiful, gentle read.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Linkedy linkedy links, links, links

I'm starting to understand the appeal of the link-round-ups that everyone does. There are lots of things I want to mention but I don't know that I have enough to say about any of them to merit a whole post! So here is my first link-round-up.

So the YA book blogosphere is angry about James Frey. I talked about it to some friends yesterday and was all set to write something long and involved about what an arse James Frey is and how he's taking advantage of writers - demeaning his own profession - and he's showing complete disregard to young adults in general. Then I come around today and see that Maureen Johnson has once again said it first and said it best. A Chair, a fireplace, and a tea cozy also has a lovely take-down of Mr. Frey.

I've been using goodreads so much more lately for organizing my life. I've made a shelf of my favorite story-time books and have spent way too much time looking at the communal storytime shelf. The babies shelf is too full of praenting books and what to expect books to be much use for lapsit so I've started a shelf called lapsit and so far I'm the only one using that shelf so come and join me! I'm going to branch out into more specific genres for chapter books and such soon. Mel made this brilliant List of Picture books for Boys that I'm going to stick on a shelf soon for me to remember (and add too) because that's a question I get alot. What shelves do y'all use on goodreads? What is your favorite librarian-ey way to use goodreads?

I lent my friend Anna one of my favorite books ever and she LOVED IT! Life is wonderful.

I am also over the moon about ALA adding a Stonewall Children's and YA Literature award. People who think that kids of any age are too young to read about characters who are a part of the QUILTBAG community maybe shouldn't let their kids read books where anyone loves or gets married or has any sort of passionate feelings at all. (judgey LP is judgey)

The New York Times has released their list of the Best Picture Books of 2010. I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR! From now until Marchish is just list after list of good books and award after award for great books and it all makes me happy. And I'm going to be linking to a lot of lists in the future. Because I love them.

I had Hush, Hush checked out and I'd just barely started it - and the whole thing was making me feel icky so I did some googling to make sure I wasn't the only one aaaaand I am definitely not. So that book when on my goodreads Abandoned shelf. Because sometimes I just don't want to finish something.

When I was in library school, Michael Gorman was still president of the ALA and a common refrain in one of my classes was “WOW Michael Gorman is SUCH A curmudgeon! I love him!” Seriously. I just want to pat him on the head and tell him how adorable he is. That isn’t to say I agree with him about, pretty much, anything - but he is an adorable curmudgeon. This article about libraries reinventing themselves just reinforced that for me.

I've never read any Eva Ibbotson but Laura Amy Schlitz has inspired me. As soon as I'm done with The Amaranth Enchantment, she's up next for audiobooks.

There was one of those memes going around awhile back where you had to write a haiku to the item sitting on your right. I was rather proud of mine:
Boxcar children book
Missing many pages
Goodbye, cruel lib’ry
I've found that weeding is much more fun (and oh, it gets super fun if you're in the right mood) if you take the book that is to be weeded and say, "you ARE the weakest link! Goodbye!"

I'm sure there's more I want to comment on but I'll leave that for another post. In the meanwhile here is a picture my brother took of Kaylee and Pippa last week. They're getting SO BIG and I love them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fun

One of my favorite 3 year old patrons (excluding, of course, my own personal 3 year old patron) just came up to me with her hands in her pockets.

“I HAVE POCKETHS!” She yelled.

I put my hands in my pockets. “I have pockets too!” I said, a little louder than usual (the occasion seemed to call for noise).

Three year old looked at my coworker expectantly. “I have pockets too,” she hurriedly said.

“WE ALL HAVE POCKETS!” said my patron.

“It’s POCKET party!” I agreed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman

Title: The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable
Author: Dan Gutman
Publisher: HarperCollins (HarperCollins Children's)
Pub Date: 01/25/2011
Reviewed from: Galley from Netgalley

Dan Gutman was our City Reads author* two years ago and while he was always popular, since then our patrons have been insatiable for him. When Netgalley gave me the opportunity to read the first book in his next series, of course I jumped at the chance! This will help me be a better librarian give me MAJOR bragging rights with all the Dan Gutman fans I see on a daily basis!

*our version of one book/one community. We pick an author (preferably one who can show up and visit schools) and everyone reads that author instead of just one book)

Twins Coke and Pepsi* find out that they are part of a super secret government project called The Genius Files only when people start trying to kill them. They embark on a cross country road trip with their eccentric (and awesome) parents, try to survive, and try to figure out what the Genius Files are all about anyhow. The Genius Files isn't going to win itself a Newbery award and I'm doubt that it's going to stand the test of time and be a classic for decades to come - but that is part of what makes this book so much fun. The book encourages you to go to google maps or mapquest to track Coke and Pep's progress on their road trip, the twins google things they need to find out, and get excited about places on their trip with free wi-fi. This book has serious kid appeal and I can't wait to introduce it to my patrons!

*Yes, they know. And they've heard that joke. And that one.

Their names don't make it terribly obvious but Coke is a boy and Pepsi is a girl. Coke has a photographic memory but Pepsi has the wherewithal to be able to take all the clues they've been given and synthesize them into a working theory or crack the code or get them out of the situation. If you know me you know how much I love books where girls get to shine. Have you ever noticed how even when there's a female action hero she never gets to save the male? Either the male dies tragically or saves himself or if she does manage to save him it's not after some serious damage to him? Well Pepsi definitely gets to save Coke a few times in this book - and Coke gets to save Pep.

The writing is pure Gutman. Funny and personal and insightful. He draws you in on the first page and keeps you hanging on until the end. While not all the characters are completely fleshed out, this is the first book in what promises to be a substantial series and there are hints of fleshing out to come.

Overall I'd say your library would want this one - and you should read it yourself if you get a chance between all the holds it'll have. It'll only take you a day.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A story, by Kinsie Beth EE

The following story was narrated to Brandon by Kaylee yesterday morning while She, Patricia and him lounged in bed

The Story of the Three Four Orange Birds
By Kaylee Elizabeth EE

Once upon a time, there were three orange birds, and they were in their nest and they were very happy. There was a Kid bird a Baby bird and a Daddy bird. But then a Halloween witch came and cast a spell on them, and turned them into toys. She turned the kid bird into a jack-in-the-box and she turned the baby bird into a jack-in-the-box and she turned the daddy bird in to … a jack-in-the-box too! But then, they changed back, because they loved each other sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much. And then the princess named Susan came and helped them climb back into the nest in the top of the tree. And then, the mommy bird came home from work at the library, and she brought the kid bird three library books! and she brought the baby bird one too.
The end ever after.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

All Hallows Read

Being the Neil Gaiman Fangirl that I am, when NG declared Halloween a book giving holiday I decided to jump right in. My local thrift store sells used children's books 15 for a dollar so Kaylee and I went down there and had the absolute best time picking out 105 children's books which I then organized on one of our bookcases (top row: board books then picture books then readers. Bottom row: chapterbooks then nonfiction). Pippa the tiger here does her very best Vanna. We moved in March and our new neighborhood is HUGE and full of families with children so we figured we'd get a ton of kids! Tragically our house is on a little side road in the neighborhood so we only got 30ish kids. But they all enjoyed the books!

(also I know I'm a slacker and should have typed this up 2 weeks ago. If I tell blogger to publish it a week and a half ago can I bend the space/time continuum and be forgiven?)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy Banned Books Week!

As Banned Books Week starts the blogosphere is full of banned books posts. Some of my favorites so far?

Why are Parents Banning Books from the BBC

A Tribute to my Favorite Banned Book of all Time from The Olive Reader asks what your favorite banned book is. I just reread the Harry Potter series and am in full on fangirl love (look for a post in the near future about this) but I also adored Annie on my Mind. It's always hard to pick a favorite any sort of book, isn't it?

My good friend Anna has a post about the Pentagon banning a book as it gets published. Scary stuff - I want to support national security and all that but sometimes the power our government has gives me chills.

My favorite banned book post so far comes from Mundie Moms. Author Saundra Mitchell gives a beautiful look at why banned books were so important to her growing up. I have to admit I've never read anything by her before but you have to believe I put some on hold at the library after reading this post!

Library Outsourcing

So - the lovely Anna asked me what I thought about the whole outsourcing libraries thing that's all a kerfuffle right now and I ended up ranting and I feel like rambling in my blog now. Does anybody mind? I hope not. Here's what I said to her:

As Maureen Johnson said, how will outsourcers deal with book banning requests? I worry that outsourcing will have people worrying more about the bottom line and the library's image instead of the greater good. Sanitized libraries. We do so many programs that don't necessarily raise our circs (which would probably be the bottom line for a library?) but benefit the community.

having a preschool fair in a week or so - We've invited local preschools to come and set up booths in our huge room over on 95th street to educate the locals about what their options are. Does this help the library? Not really, but it helps our patrons. Why would a for profit company have a fair that tells parents, basically, instead of bringing your kids to storytime every day why not send them to preschool? That's not what we're doing, obvs, but I could see some corporate muckity muck thinking that way.

Also - collection development. I weed my collection fairy regularly. My goal is that each collection will have an average of 12 circs per item per year. Some books (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, etc.) will always have holds on them and thus will have 20 or more circs per year. Those books make it possible for me to keep books in the collection that only circ 4 or 5 times per year - and even some pet books that circ maybe once per year. But they're good books! And a kid is going to benefit from those books! So I will keep them until they fall apart - and maybe not reorder them, but not necessarily get rid of them, ya know?

I can see a for-profit library looking at, say, El Lector and say, "This book rarely circs. Why is it in the collection? GET RID OF IT!" But I think it has value. I think some kid is going to need that book. So I'm going to let it circ until it falls apart.

And that's what I think about library outsourcing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cute overload

So ... There is this other song I sing to Kaylee every night. Goodnight by Laurie Berkner. I sang it to her a lot and then I stopped singing it for awhile and that led to a rash of Kaylee getting up in the middle of the night and telling her that the animals were keeping her awake and I had to had to had to come sing to her. This has led to a goodnight ritual where I ask her which animals are keeping her awake then I sing the song to that animal. Tonight after I sang the song to the "cheek deer" (a kind of deer, apparently, that says, " cheek cheek cheek") she asked me which animal was keeping me awake. Since I'm in the middle of my epic rereading of the Harry Potter books the only animal I could think of that would top the cheek deer was the Crumple Horned Snorkak. So Kaylee sang to me, "I'm a little Snorkak and my Mommy loves me. I'm a little Snorkak and my Kaylee loves me. When they tuck me in to say goodnight they say, 'crumple crumple crumple' goodnight. Goodnight, goodnight! Goodnight little Snorkak goodnight. Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight goodnight goodnight."

I want to die from cute.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brontorina by James Howe

OH MAH GOODNESS! The lovely and amazing Abby the Librarian pointed me in the direction of Brontorina by James Howe with illustrations by Randy Cecil after my post the other day about Dinosaur Ballerinas. Apparently not only has dinosaur ballerinas been done, it has been done absurdly recently (this book is still on our "new books for staff to look through" shelf - my only excuse for not having seen it before is that coworker M is in charge of picture books and I'm in charge of chapter books so if I only have a few moments I look through the new chapter books first!), and it has been done absurdly well.

Brontorina is about a dinosaur who wants to join the ballet class but there are no shoes her size and she keeps bonking her head on the ceiling. She keeps trying, though, and her teacher and classmates are on her side.

While on the one hand I'm embarrassed that I wrote something so cringe-worthy when it had just been done I'm glad I hadn't read Brontorina already. I wouldn't have written my awful poetry then and I don't need one more excuse not to write!

Brontorina would be awesome in an older storytime - a 4,5,K or a school-age storytime. Check it out and enjoy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost

Speaking of award books do you know which book should have won ALL THE AWARDS* and actually won none** of the awards? Diamond Willow by Helen Frost. I recommended it for the Battle of the Books that my library helps with and it got chosen for this year so I get to spend extra time with it which makes me beyond happy! Diamond Willow is a beautiful book - I wanted to spend forever in this world with these characters! Lucky for me despite how short this book is, it is an easy book to savor. It invites the reader to go back over every page and really let that poem sink in.

*Ok, not all of the awards - Diamond Willow came out in 2008 and y'all know how I feel about The Graveyard Book, but if I can't use hyperbole in my own blog then where can I?

**actually while writing this review I've realized that it did win some awards - but it should have won MORE!

I didn't think I would like Diamond Willow when I first picked it up. Books written in poetry tend to be gimmicky (and yes, I know there are obvious and lovely exceptions to this) but Diamond Willow is anything but gimmicky and should not be disregarded because of the poetry. When Willow (the main character and main narrator) is narrating the book, each page is a poem. Hidden within each poem is a set of words in bold that creates another found sentence. It's hard to explain but if you see it you'll understand. Go check out the first 16 pages on FSG's website and you'll see. The hidden sentence explains more - the hidden meaning that Diamond is unwilling to say outright.

Very simply, Diamond Willow is about a 12 year old girl, Willow, who takes the sled dogs out in a storm to see her grandparents without her parent's permission and she gets caught in a storm. Willow is part Athabascan and her heritage comes into play as other narrators take over the book briefly because she is being watched over by the animals that are her ancestors. Can I tell you about how much I love that? There are so few books out there where Native people are shown living modern lives that are still rich in their cultural heritage. Diamond Willow neither shuffles the Athabascans off into the history books nor does it make Willow's heritage just a quirk - it is still a very real part of her life, her traditions, who she is.

I will never do this book justice in my review. You need to go read it. Now, please.

Diamond Willow will work especially well for girls in 4th grade and up who like thoughtful books, adventure books, nature books, books about dogs, books about snow - or really just good books.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mock Newbery

Mock Newbery season is here! I've found 3 lists so far - Early Words, Allen County Public Library (which will add more soon) and Anderson's Bookshop (note: their list isn't online yet).

I have compiled all the lists into one big Mock Newbery List on Goodreads. Note - since you have to go into Anderson's store to get their list I'm not going to tag their books with Anderson's, but I have added them to the list. Once they put their list online I'll link to it and tag all those books but since they're purposefully keeping it small for the moment I'm not going to expose their list too badly! (:

I love award season and Mock award season always makes me giddy with what is to come. I've successfully predicted the Newbery 2 years in a row (although I don't think that was much of a stretch. The Graveyard Book and When You Reach Me were both phenomenal and somewhat obvious?) so I feel the need to start reading all these books and seeing what I think! So far my favorite book that I've read this year is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia, so that's my current pick. I'll review that one soon and let y'all know what I think about the rest of the books on these lists!

So what about you? What books are you rooting for? Have you found any other Mock Newbery lists yet? Are you excited for award season?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I will never be a childrens' book author

I have this (not so) secret dream of writing picture books. My 3 year old loves princesses and ballerinas as well as dragons and aliens and dinosaurs and robots. It's hard to find many books that combine stereotypically girly motifs with stereotypical boy motifs (stupid mean Patriarchy and the gender binary!). Yes, there are some awesome books out there but for every Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots there are tons of regularly gendered books. Anyway - I spend a lot of time making up stories for Kaylee at night and someday I'm going to get them all written down - at the very least for my girls but my narcissism likes to tell me that the wider world needs more books about Robot Princesses and such.

Anyway today I found myself in need of a good brain doodle earlier so I started writing out the story of the dinosaur ballerinas.

As you can tell from the T-Rex in a tutu above, I will need an illustrator. An illustrator who isn't me. You know what else I will need? To stay away from my radical feminist dogma when writing a ridiculously awesome story about dinosaur ballerinas. It started out well enough with Prehistoric Prima Donnas Prancing Prettily. Then it became all about body issues and how dance magnifies every little flaw. The Apatosorus has a beautiful and graceful look neck but oh that posture. Stand up straight, Appy! The Tyrannosaurus Rex has beautiful posture but when she tries to hold her arms up in fifth position they were much to stubby for proper grace.

Teacher always comments
On Apatasaurous's graceful neck
"but such posture, Mon Cherie!
Stand up straight, your spine's a wreak!"

Now Tyranosaurous's posture
Makes Madam clap with glee
"But those arms, Mmselle Rex," she glowers,
"Elongate, please!"

It rhymes! Ish.

Don't think the publishers are going to jump on this one!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Family Friday

What am I doing creating another meme just for me that will probably be abandoned after one or two weeks? I was having so much fun with early literacy mondays and then I abandoned them. I have plans for screen-time Saturdays but don't know how far that will go if I even get that far.

The babies themselves and not just their reading choices have not been on my real live blog in far too long and I feel a need to share their brilliance with the whole world so please indulge me. I am a mother and therefore I am a bit narcissistic about my babies. They are brilliant and wonderful and they make me happy beyond all imagining.

Kaylee is three and wonderful. She's got this wild imagination and is always making up stories and demanding that I make up stories to tell her. She loves acting out fairy tales (especially the three little pigs) with her stuffed animals or truing to convince me to be the evil witch in some involved story she's made up about a princess and a dragon and a witch and "cackle mommy! Cackle more! And lock me in the tower! And then the Princess Kaylee ESCAPED from the evil witch and now look sad Mommy!"

Pippa is 16 months old and so affectionate. Her vocabulary is only a few words but she understands so much more. We were going to run errands the other day and I asked her where her shoes were. She brought me one green shoe. I said, "thank you, Pips, but this is only one shoe. We need two." (Here I held up 2 fingers). "can you find me the OTHER shoe?" Pippa nodded and ran off and came back with both of her brown shoes. She held them both up and said, "ooo?" She may have just found the matching pair before the other green one and "ooo" may have just been a random sound but in my head she can count at least to two. Yes? Yes.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

What the girls are reading now

Babybug is one of those magazines I have been meaning to subscribe the girls to forever. Now that we've bought a house and will not be randomly moving anymore I have no excuse! I do check them out from the library periodically - It had been while but I was inspired again when my coworker recently wrote on her blog that March 2010 was her baby's favorite Babybug ever so of course I had to check it out. Tragically someone had gotten to it first so I grabbed June 2010.

OH MAH GEE I am in love again! It has reinspired me to subscribe the girls to Babybug (as soon as I stop procrastinating). Kaylee's favorite part was a poem at the end called "Little Bug" that I think would be perfect for use during a 2s storytime* that is like a full body fingerplay. An Action poem! The minute I started reading it Kaylee jumped up and started doing the actions "Up on your toes, / In for a kiss! / Up on your toes, / and I hug you like this." It's absolutely way too much fun.

*2s have to come with their parents or guardians unlike 3s so the 2s have built-in hugging partners

My same wonderful coworker pointed me toward The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson and Marcellus Hall. It was on our new books cart and she encouraged me to take it home for the girls - one of the best suggestions ever! The Cow Loves Cookies is an absolute hit with both girls. Rhyming text brings you through a farmer's morning as he brings the animals their usual foods all the way through to his snack at the end with the cow. The farmer brings the cookies and the cow brings the milk! The rhyming is rhythmical and made Kins want to dance. The story repeats every animal it's gone through without being repetitive and stands up well to rereadings (which is key in a well-loved picture book). Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Baby Colors is another New Books cart find that I am beyond tickled about. Baby Colors is one of those rare lift-the-flap board books that will actually stand up to a baby's use. I can't tell you how many flaps have been pulled off or bent wrong in my household but these flaps are just as stury as the rest of the book - and the whole book in general is sturdier than the average board book. The words are basic but Pippa loves the colors and with her language skills just starting to bud it's fun to see her latch on to concepts and try to learn these colors.

And that is ... what they're reading now. (Saying that phrase puts Garth Brooks's song "What She's Doing Now" in my head. "What they're reading now ... is tons of awesome books. Filling up my shelves and emptying the lib'ry. I can hear them giggle each time I open this one and I wonder if they know ... what they're readin' now." Sorry - I am insane.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Favorite storybooks of the moment

When preparing for a Fairy Tales storytime awhile back a coworker introduced me to The End by David LaRochelle and Richard Egielski. I love it so much I'm going to use it agian in our GIANT TIME program in a few weeks! The story begins with "And they lived happily ever after. They lived happily ever after because ..." and it tells the story of the soggy knight falling in love with the clever princess backwards. I love it - I absolutely love it. At the end when everything comes together, kids as young as 3 were getting it as the their eyes lit up and they realized what happened to the lemons! So wonderful! And it is a perfect tie in for multiple early literacy points - Narrative Skills (most stories are told moving forward in time! Lets read one that moves BACKWARDS!), Print Motivation (books can be arranged so many ways! How do you feel about books that read like this?), Print Awareness (what was different about how that book was set up?). The storytime I read this in was huge - 87 kids! But I can't wait to use this in a more intimate setting - one of our age specific storytimes, a 3s or a 4,5,K where I can more easily start up a discussion about the book. I want to see if the kids can then tell the story back to me forward! Kaylee can, but one-on-one storytimes are different.

I pulled A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C Stead and Erin E Stead off the new books cart somewhat on a whim and I'm so glad I did. The book is a story about a zookeeper who befriends all the animals and when he wakes up sick one day his animal friends take the bus to see him. It's beautiful and adorable and somewhat perfect. Kaylee is definitely not reading yet, but on our way home from the library (husband had dropped her off just as I got off of work) Kaylee started acting a bit like a 3 year old (every once in awhile she remembers that 3 year olds are traditionally obnoxious) so I handed her the top book in the pile and she was enchanted the entire drive. She recounted the entire story to me as we drove ("look! He's playing checkers with his friend the elephant! Look, he's chasing after the turtle! ... Oh, he's in bed and he looks sad. Is he sick? ... His friends are sad. Why isn't he playing with his friends, Mommy? Look! The penguin is bringing him a balloon! He's playing checkers with his friend again!" etc.), and I can't tell you how much it warmed my heart that the pictures in this book are so beautiful and expressive that the Kins could get everything out of the book without me having ever read it to her before.

Friday, July 02, 2010

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Ok, so I've got things that need cleaned and other things that need organized and I have the cutest baby ever trying to crawl up into my lap (seriously - CUTEST BABY EVER. What, you don't believe me? Let me grab my phone and take a picture to prove it.

CUTEST BABY EVER! Pippa, meet the blog. Blog, meet Pippa. She's much bigger now.)

Anyway - I have very little time before my mother comes over with the elder daughter who she stole last night for a hotel sleepover, but I am trying to get in the habit of writing about books again! Which is to say, this one will be short, but this time I really am trying to be back!

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine and her sisters are sent by their father and Big Ma to spend the summer in California with their mother who they haven't seen since Fern the littlest "still needed her milk." Their mother wants little to do with them, shes so focused on her poetry, and sends them to the Black Panther's summer camp to keep them out of her hair.

This book is historical fiction, set in Oakland in the summer if 1968, and the time and place shine through, but this book is especially beautiful because of the characters. Everyone has a rich and complex history that makes you never want to put this book down. Fern, the youngest, is my favorite. She starts as a shy baby-doll carrying girl who can't stand up for herself and how she ends up? Amazing. And the language! I especially remember Delphine thinking about how her mother prays over her printing press.

There's the door! Gotta go. Seriously - Don't trust this super short and not good enough review. Read this book. It'll take you 2 lunch hours.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Random Links

When is a whitewashed cover not a whitewashed cover? When a publisher gives itself a reason to pretend that it isn't whitewashed. This article infuriated me, especially the quote, "When Cindy Pon was first trying to find a home for Silver Phoenix, she was told by an editor that 'Asian fantasy doesn't sell.' I'm sure people will look at the sales figures of Silver Phoenix and draw that same conclusion." WHATEVER. Kids LOVE being able to see themselves as the hero to a story and Asian kids read fantasy just as much as anybody else. I wish I had more in my RA head. (Do you know any more? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE leave them in the comments. My patrons are obsessed and I need more ideas!) (found via Notemily.)

My friend Nerdgasms linked to this interesting article about the possibilities that ebooks bring in terms of multimedia in ways that couldn't be done before.

I agree that the possibilities for the future of books are endless, but don't discount the old fashioned print version of the book as being incabable of multimedia! There are multimedia books out there. From the basic such as Stephanie Meyer posting track lists of what she thinks of as the soundtrack to her books. There are multiple poetry anthologies for kids that come with CDs of the authors (or other if the author isn’t available) reading the poems aloud. When I was a teen librarian I remember a mystery book with clues in the books as well as on webpages referenced in the book that really existed on the web. The Septimus Heap hardcover books all come with a CD-ROM that I haven’t checked out but I know kids get disappointed if the only book on shelf is the one with the missing CD-ROM.

Heck, Eric Carle. The Very Lonely Firefly. At the end, all the fireflies light up! The Very Quiet Cricket! When you turn the last page after (spoiler alert) the cricket learns to chirp, THE BOOK CHIRPS AT YOU!

So yes, I'm excited for what's coming, but I love what's here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Friday Fun (Saturday Edition)

My coworker is making monster flip books for a Franny K Stein program and we started discussing the proper number of eyes a monster should had. That led to a discussion of eyes on eyestalks.

I was anti eyestalks because the eyes were not as protected.

Coworker A said that eyes on eyestalks would be lovely because you can look around corners or behind you without having to turn.

I countered that if I had eyes on eyestalks I would constantly be paranoid that my eyes would get caught in elevator drawers. Or I'd move my eyestalk to look in a drawer just as someone slammed it. And really, I'd rather have less eye-mobility than have to worry about fragile eyes and fragile eye-stalks constantly.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Warning: If you come up to my desk and ask if we have any copies of The Neverending Story in, while I am searching in the catalog I will sing to you


And then when my coworker mocks me I will tell her that she is lucky the patron didn’t ask for The Princess Bride. When she asks me to sing THAT theme song, I will.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla

If there was any justice in the world I would have had this post done a few days ago for Cinqo de Mayo, but between two babies and buying a new house (!!!), I am an even bigger slacker than usual! But this book is fantastic! Anytime is the right time for Fiesta Babies.

Fiesta Babies is brand new to the library but I had to use it in a book-break* right away and it is being added to my list of no fail awesome books. The text is perfect for storytime - rhyming but not cloying, fun and bouncy, and just the right legnth. The pictures are colorful and vibrant and make you want to jump inside the pictures!

*a book break is kinda like a mini-storytime whenever I notice that the library is full of storytime-age kids. We read one book and maybe do one fingerplay sort of as a teaser for storytimes. It also works super well to clam down rowdy crowds who have started to throw plastic vegetables at each other.

I am especially a sucker for movement in books that can be copied by the kidlets during storytime. It's a book and a stretcher all in one! "K'mon, kids, stand up! 'Fiesta babies dance two by two' - Can you dance too? 'the cha-cha-cha ... and the choo-choo-choo!'" WAY TOO MUCH FUN!

In conclusion - I adore this book and you should check it out for a storytime or two.

Friday, May 07, 2010

I may have just had a conversation with my favorite 4 year old almost entirely in chicken.

(background - at the reference desk we give out hand stamps to anyone who asks for them. You want a chicken on your hand? Here ya go!)

4yo (pointing at the stamps): baaaaawk? bok bok bok ba-bawk baaaaawk!
LP (nodding and picking up the stamp): bok bok bwaaaaaaaawk.
4yo (holding out her hand): ba BAWK bok bok
LP (stamping): bok babawk bok booooook
4yo (waving): bok book babawk bok!


Monday, February 08, 2010


It's that time of week again - the weekend is over and work is restarted and we are all too tired to think about early literacy. Right? WRONG! Librarian Pirate is here to help! This week's skill is ...


Narrative skills are just what they sound like. Learning how a story is put together with a beginning, a middle, and an end. This doesn't mean teaching your child how to tell what the rising action, climax, and falling action of a story are - it's just telling stories so she (or he) can get the basics. When I come home I tend to ask my husband what he did today. Then I ask Kaylee what she did today. I do it in this order so I can sneakily help Kaylee to craft her narrative. eg:
LP: What did you do today, Kaylee?
K: Uhhh ...
LP: What did you have for breakfast!
LP: And then what did you do?
K: I played blocks! I played with PIPPA!
LP: That sounds like so much fun! What did you do next?
K: uh ...
LP: Did you go anywhere?
K: YES! Pippa and Daddy go on SCURSION* and I went TOO!
LP: Awesome! Where did you go?
K: We went to the NORTH POLE!**
LP: WOW! What did you do there?
K: We bought toilet paper and HOT DOGS! And I had hot dog, catsup, mac and cheese for lunch. PARTY IN MY TUMMY!

*Excursion. Calling it that instead of errands makes life seem so much more fun
**Not sure why she's been so obsessed with the North Pole lately. It started quite awhile after Christmas, but it makes her happy.

You get the picture! (Or do you want a LONGER account of Kaylee's fascinating day? I'm usually quite enthralled, but I am a bit biased. Now go forth and NARRATE!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Early Literacy Mondays

At my library (and at most libraries) we are big fans of early literacy and we try to promote it as much as possible to the parents that come to our storytimes. Often I have parents say to me that they don't know where to begin or what to do to encourage early literacy in their kids, but I'm finding that incorporating early literacy not only helps my child in later life, but it makes my life easier! So Mondays are the days that everyone is most exhausted, so I'm going to start posting my Early Literacy tips for Lazy Parents today - picking one of the 6 Early Literacy Skills and highlighting one way to incorporate that into your life easily.


This is the easiest of all the Early Literacy skills to incorporate and (in my opinion) the most important. Print Motivation means loving books and if your child doesn't think that books are fun and exciting, then she (or he) won't want to learn how to read them herself (or himself). To encourage print motivation, pick out books that you think would make your child happy. Bright colors, rhymes, things your child loves. I know Kaylee loves ladybugs so every time I see a new book about ladybugs I bring it home. Pippa and Kaylee both love books with pictures of babies so I pick those out all the time. But Librarian Pirate, you say, Didn't you say that these were tips for LAZY parents? Picking out books takes TIME! True, but you can always call ahead to your local library, ask your librarian for advice on great books for a 3 year old about trucks, and then your library visit is quick and painless! Depending on what services your library offers, you could even put books on hold online or on the phone and just stop by the hold shelf - no need to search anything out. BUT! The real laziness comes in after you've got some great books all picked out.

So it's Monday. I've had a LONG day and I'm tired. I get home from work and my 2 year old is trying to climb up my leg, she's so happy to see my. "PIGGY BACK RIDE, MOMMY! PIGGY BACK RIDE!" So I swing her up onto my back, give her a piggy back ride to the couch (with my last ounce of strength), then we snuggle on the couch and I read her some books picked out specifically to make her happy. I get to rest, we both get to snuggle, and Kaylee's love of books grows. The more I read to the girls, the more they love it and the more they crave that cuddle time. When Kaylee is getting too rambunctious I can sit her down and give her some books to read and I know she'll sit happily for 10/15 minutes enthralled by the pictures and the turning of pages. We even had the following conversation a few months back:

Kaylee: I love my family.
LP: We love you too. Who is in your family, do you know?
K: Yes.
LP: Mommy, Daddy, Pippa - who else?
K: No! Mommy, Daddy, Pippa are not my family!
LP: What?
K (clutching a book to her chest): Books. Books are my family.

Part of me wanted to laugh and be proud and part of me wanted to cry and convince her that I was her family. I settled for being proud and grabbing a family album to "read" to her.