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.)