Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Small Readers: I see a cat by Paul Meisel

An exuberant dog sees lots of exciting things out the window. A cat. A bird. A fly. The dog cannot go outside. It waits patiently. Mostly. Squirrels have to be barked at no matter what.

When the dog's owner, a stocky, dark-skinned little boy returns home, the dog is overjoyed and soon it is outside. Now it can chase the squirrel!

Meisel's humorous art is a nice match for the simple, level A text. Emergent readers will enjoy the humor as they practice their reading skills and may even recognize some familiar dog behavior.

Verdict: Meisel does an excellent emergent reader and this is a good addition to his series of dog-themed easy readers. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780823436804; Published 2017 by Holiday House; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Peep and Egg: I'm NOT taking a bath by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Joyce Wan

Sisters Peep and Egg are back and Egg is just as determined to stay away from new experiences as Peep is to make her enjoy them!

In their latest adventure, Egg has been playing with the pigs - with the result that she needs a bath! At least, that's what Peep thinks. Egg absolutely does not agree. Too wet, too bubbly, too splashy, there's something wrong with everything Peep suggests! Finally Peep gives up and takes off with her friends. But what are they up to? Maybe, just maybe, Egg will take a bath after all!

Joyce Wan is the queen of adorable and this latest book is no exception. The two plump little chicks, worried Egg and sweet Peep coming up with suggestions for Egg's bath are just adorable. Reluctant bathers and siblings will giggle at the silly story and parents will sigh over the cute toys and cuddly animals.

Verdict: Adorable fun for a bath-themed storytime and just the thing for a "never want to take a bath" toddler!

ISBN: 9780374303273; Published 2017 by Farrar Straus Giroux; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, November 20, 2017

Where the Buffalo Roam: Bison in America by Kate Waters

I don't usually purchase level 4 readers and when I do they go into juvenile, not into easy readers. However, I was interested to see this title on the history of buffalo and sometimes these titles, especially nonfiction, find an audience in my intermediate readers.

Brisk paragraphs, not full-page, but several sentences each, are alternated with photographs and primary source pictures like cave paintings. The book explains the habitat and behavior of bison, their predators and food, their family units and interesting behaviors like wallowing. There is a chapter devoted to the bison's role in history, including their use by Native American tribes. These are not delineated specifically, just referenced as "American Indians". Brief mention is made of the white settler's and US governments destruction of the bison herds in order to take the Native American tribe's lands. The final chapter addresses how conservation groups restored the bison and mentions that some American Indian Nation tribes manage bison herds on their land. A glossary is included but no sources are listed. The reading information at the front includes comprehension questions useful in a classroom or learning situation.

Verdict: This is a nice, basic resource for fluent, intermediate readers to learn both about the bison as an animal and a little basic US history. A good additional resource if you are expanding this area of your collection.

ISBN: 9780515159004; Published 2017 by Penguin Young Readers; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Saturday, November 18, 2017

This week at the library; or, Meetings and more meetings

What's happening
Another crazy week! Our last visit from Pearl - she takes the winter off, so we'll see her sweet fluffiness back in the spring. Our big holiday craft extravaganza was a huge hit - but there were some unexpected snags. Some we couldn't do anything about (mix-ups with the room booking, staff getting sick) and others I plan to alleviate next year - better marketing and signage, more staff, especially for the transition. Everything was covered in glitter. I spent most of Wednesday working on stuff for life-size candyland. My Thursday book club readers are a small but enthusiastic group. 5 is actually a perfect number, as they all fit around the table. They want to help make an unboxing video and I have promised we will do so as soon as I get new books next year. I interviewed some potential interns (for working with the teens) and attended a community meeting set up by the adult services staff to discuss our plans for a new service/program venture, a sort of social/activities group for older teens and adults in group homes and with developmental disabilities. I think it's going to be a pretty cool thing.

Book Explosion Picks (adventure)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Wedgie and Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors, illustrated by Barbara Fisinger

This book features a corgi and a guinea pig. It was clearly written FOR ME. Pause for dying over the cuteness.

So. The book is told in two voices. The first is Gizmo, the evil-genius guinea pig whose loyal human servant, Elliot, has abandoned him to a terrifying creature - the human girl Jasmine! Who dresses him up and carries him in her pocket! The second narrator is Wedgie, superhero corgi and all-around nice guy whose most exciting thing to do is find things to eat, go on walks, and play with his humans. Wedgie is thrilled that there are new humans to play with! Gizmo is Not Pleased. Neither is Elliot, who wanted it to stay just him, his dad, and Gizmo. Instead, he's gotten a new little sister and brother, a stepmother, annoying dog, lost his pet guinea pig (Jasmine is taking care of Gizmo while they get him a new cage) and Jasmine's Abuela is from Peru - will she, possibly, EAT GIZMO??!!

Gizmo's humorous and villainous voice is matched by Wedgie's raucous enthusiasm and both are interspersed with dialogue between the family members. By the end of the story, readers will have laughed themselves silly and also gotten to grow alongside Jasmine and Elliot who both learn to compromise a little as they blend their families. Not Gizmo though. Gizmo never compromises! Well, maybe for a few new Loyal Human Servants, as long as The Elderly One is not planning to cook him!

The glimpses of the family, seen both in humorous black and white art and through the eyes of their pets, show a mixed-race family with a variety of skin tones as well as their own unique personalities. The parents are loving but a little distracted and kids will thoroughly enjoy being the ones "in the know" as they follow along with the silly story.

Verdict: Be prepared for kids to threaten each other with "the dreaded Biju Ting Ting Scalp Massager", laugh hilariously at the "pool of a thousand pees" and name all future guinea pigs furry potatoes. Also, beware the sequel when Gizmo returns with a new, villainous plan!

ISBN: 9780062447630; Published 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pickle: The (formerly) anonymous prank club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker

I read this for my new book club, Book Explosion. I'd never read it and only booktalked it rarely, but it popped up on my radar when I was looking for funny books and my teen aides said they'd seen a lot of kids reading it back in grade school and middle school. So, I thought I'd try it out!

Ben thinks it's amazing when he acquires a whole room's worth of ballpit balls. His parents aren't so pleased and he has to get rid of them - fast. In a sudden burst of inspiration, he fills his homeroom with them and The League of Pickle Makers is born. He teams up with some other kids to have some fun and play pranks (and make pickles, since they do need a good cover). But of course things just can't be that easy. Sometimes it feels like aggressive Bean and new girl Sienna are trying to take over his club. He feels guilty for leaving out his former best friend Hector, but Hector tattled to his grandmother, the principal, one too many times - and about something Ben didn't even do! Then there all the hours Ben's parents are making him put in at their restaurant and you just know something is going to go wrong.

And it does, at the worst possible moment. Ben has just successfully gotten the principal to pass his club's dish of escabeche as authentic pioneer fare (and a pickling entry) pointing out that even though all the textbooks and history books only show white people, people like him and a lot of his classmates were there too. Then Sienna, angry that her father has fallen through on his promise to come visit, ruins everything with a mean prank that backfires spectacularly. Next thing they know, Ben throws up on their fair entry, the principal has canceled ALL extracurricular activities, including sports, and everyone is angry at, well, everyone. Can Ben fix things? Is The League of Pickle Makers gone forever? And can he ever trust Hector again?

I have to admit I'm really not a fan of pranks in general. This comes from growing up cleaning things - while the students are laughing about a ketchup battle, I'm thinking about how long it's going to take me to scrub all the ketchup off the dining hall floor and tables and refill the bottles. However, this book wasn't so bad. While it's never blatantly in your face about it, there are several pointed remarks about how much work the club's hijinks make for the janitor and Ben is constantly anxious that all the pranks be funny, not mean or hurt anyone. Diversity is also a theme that runs through the book, pitting the out-of-touch principal against her more diverse students who don't see a reflection of themselves in the school's beloved Pioneer Fair. And it was quite funny.

Verdict: I can see why this has been a popular book for many years in our library; I recently weeded it due to condition and definitely will be replacing it with a new copy. I didn't get any of my book club kids to check it out, but they weren't quite the right audience for it - it definitely has kid appeal and some talking points too that make it a good choice.

ISBN: 9781596437654; Published 2012 by Roaring Brook Press; Purchased (a long time ago) for the library; Replacement copy to be ordered

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Small Readers: What is chasing duck? and There's a pest in the garden by Jan Thomas

Jan Thomas' silly picture books have been staples of storytime and recommendations for beginning readers for a long time; now she's branching out to write specific easy readers in a new series called "The Giggle Gang." I approve. My readers approve.

The hapless duck reappears in There's a pest in the gardenSomething is eating everything in the garden! There go the beans, what will he eat next? Corn! Poor sheep. The pest has eaten all the corn, her favorite! What will he eat next? Peas! Luckily, donkey does not like peas. What's this? Duck has an idea? But why is duck diving into the ground and what is his plan? Uh-oh. Maybe there's more than one pest in this garden!

Duck is up for more adventures in What is chasing duck? All Duck can say is "quack!" but his friends know it means something big, hairy, and with giant teeth is after them! Will they all run or will Dog convince them to stand and face up to what's after them? Phew, luckily it's just a squirrel - and he's brought a turnip that Duck dropped! Uh-oh. Squirrel has dropped her acorn. Now, what's chasing squirrel??

The text is bold and simple, but would fit for a beginning, rather than emergent, reader as they will need to decode various punctuation and some more complex words. However, all ages can enjoy this ridiculous stories that are good for lots of giggles. Thomas' trademark illustrations offer plenty of humor to accompany the deadpan text and fans are sure to snap these off the shelf along with Elephant and Piggie and Salina Yoon's Duck, Duck, Porcupine.

Verdict: I'm buying these as fast as they come out and they're flying off the shelves. A great addition to the popular toon genre for easy readers and sure to delight young fans of Jan Thomas.

What is chasing duck?
ISBN: 9780544939073

There's a pest in the garden!
ISBN: 9780544941656

Published 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pick a pine tree by Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis

I rarely review holiday books - they circulate only once a year and for Christmas books especially I have a superfluity. However, I will make an exception for an illustrator I really like - like Jarvis!

The cover has splashes of pine tree green against the white snow, and a sparkling red ribbon making the book look like a gift. The end papers are decorated with sparkling white snowflakes against a blue background. Simple, brisk rhymes tell the story of a biracial family choosing and decorating a pine tree. After a joyful meeting of friends and family and an explosion of decor, the tree shines forth in all its glory as a Christmas tree.

Jarvis' bright splashes of color really make this festive book. One page shows the glowing yellow light of an open door and lights against the cold blue of a winter night. Purple and silver tinsel sparks against the warm yellow walls, glowing against many different skin colors as the children and their friends happily deck the tree. A final spread is flipped vertically to make room for the glory of the decorated tree and the admiring decorates, including a dog and cat, sitting around it.

Verdict: The text is short and brisk enough to appeal to small children and Jarvis' bright, cheerful illustrations will make this a cozy book for the whole family to enjoy while preparing for decorating a Christmas tree. Sure to be a hit in my Christmas-themed town!

ISBN: 9780763695712; Published 2017 by Candlewick; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the the library


Monday, November 13, 2017

Girls who code: Learn to code and change the world by Reshma Saujani, Sarah Hutt, and Jeff Stern; illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi

Coding is a big buzzword in library circles right now. Week of code, coding programs for kids, etc. I've not much interest in the subject personally - I enjoyed logic courses long ago in my own high school studies and I'm willing to fiddle around with software until it does what it wants, but my general attitude towards technology is that I ignore it until I actually need something. Which is why I have a very, very old-style phone and two e-readers. Priorities!

I have a similar attitude towards my library programming. I've never been in favor of simply doing programs because they're the "in" thing. I look at our community, what's already offered by the schools, what resources people have and what they lack, and what the kids are interested in. In this case, I don't do much with coding or technology, especially not anything "educational." Our schools have extensive technology and maker lab equipment, far superior to anything I can put together, and with more qualified educators. Our middle school and high school also have robotics clubs, coding clubs, and there are nearby Girls Who Code clubs as well. A large number of members of the clubs, especially in middle school, are girls. So, I don't feel a need to recreate what another group is already doing well. What I DO want to do, is support the schools and their students in their interests. Which is why I bought this book!

Saujani beings by some of her own story, about how she got interested in coding, and some statistics about the barriers faced by girls going into coding. She explains why she wanted to found Girls Who Code and some of the cool things members have done. Then the book moves into the actual coding. The interesting thing is that this is not, per say, a "how to" book, although it does include activities and projects. It's more an explanation of how coding works, the logic and reasoning behind it, and how to get your mind into the right mindset to not be scared or unwilling to try coding. Saujani also talks a lot about working through problems and figuring out how to deal with bugs and roadblocks when coding as well as working with friends and choosing projects.

The book includes lots of interviews with real-life girls talking about the projects they've coded and brief biographies of famous women involved with coding and computers. There are also comic sections sprinkled throughout the book. Back matter includes a glossary and index. The book itself includes extensive references to websites and resources for young students to explore.

Verdict: This is a great introduction to coding as well as an encouragement to girls who feel daunted or scared of trying something new. It's explanations are simple and the narrative aspect of it will attract readers who think they "don't like math" or science. I've purchased one copy and it's checked out quite regularly, both to my girls who already code and those interested in starting, and I strongly recommend that all libraries have a copy for reference, whether or not you offer coding programs.

ISBN: 9780425287538; Published 2017 by Viking; Purchased for the library; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Saturday, November 11, 2017

This week at the library; or I am busy

What's happening
  • Monday
    • Manager's meeting
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • Lego Club
  • Wednesday
    • 5th grade field trips (2 sessions)
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Rock 'n' Read
  • Friday
    • Middle School Madness
Busy. Took Friday off to catch up on reviews and such. Busy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Adventures of Caveboy by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Eric Wight

This is another series in Bloomsbury's Read and Bloom imprint, similar to Scholastic's Branches. This title is humorous with colorful pictures by Eric Wight (creator of Frankie Pickle) and simple language (with lots of ooga booga!s). But the casual dismissal of the female characters just annoyed me so much I won't consider adding this one.

Caveboy is the main protagonist. His skin isn't white per say, but one strongly suspects it is dirt and not natural pigment that makes him a little darker, especially since his younger sister is a redhead. He finds his little sister annoying. This is meant to make him relatable, I suspect, but it's a tired trope and doesn't fit in to the rest of the story. Caveboy loves to play baseskull, but he does not love to practice, even though his family keeps reminding him that it's important. Finally, when playing with his little sister (who he neither thanks for playing with him nor acknowledges her pitching skill) he breaks his club.

Caveboy then sets out to find a new club. His parents' clubs are too big. His sister's club is too pretty. Heavens forbid he should have a club with a bow on it! When he sees the perfect club, even though it belongs to Mags, a dark-skinned cavegirl, he takes it. After some argument, he gives back the stolen club and Mags helps him search for a new club that is right for him. When he finds one with flowers on it, he thinks it's "too fancy" but it's just right for Mags, who willingly trades her club to him.

The two friends decide to race. Mags puts her club down on the ground so she can go faster, but Caveboy refuses to relinquish his club. When Mags gets lost during one of their races, and cries for help, Caveboy makes a difficult decision to go help his friend. He gets a hug for scaring away the scary spider and is embarrassed, but "because Mags is his friend, he hugs back."

Verdict: It's a cute story. The illustrations are fun. Kids will probably enjoy it. But it in no way stands out from the crowd of beginning chapter book series and the continued emphasis and subtle enforcement of gender stereotypes - girls like pretty/fancy things, boys don't, girls are scared of spiders and boys aren't, girls are more emotional, giving hugs, while boys only tolerate affection, etc. takes this off my list. Not recommended.

ISBN: 9781619639867; Published 2017 by Bloomsbury; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Slacker by Gordon Korman

It took me a while to get around to reading this one, but I've been recommending it since it came out as hilarious, knowing I could trust Gordon Korman. SPOILERS.

Cameron Boxer is a slacker. He's proud of it; he's worked hard to get where he is. Completely uninvolved in anything except video games, the height of his ambition is to win big $$ at an upcoming video game competition. But when he accidentally almost gets the house burned down, his parents give him an ultimatum: Get involved in something or his gaming will be cut off. Cameron panics - he doesn't have time in his busy schedule to actually DO stuff! Fortunately, one of his friends can hack into the school website and set up a fake club for them. The Positive Action Group, that sounds good. Now Cameron can get back to gaming and his life will go on as usual.

There's just one problem - kids want to get involved with the PAG. And Cameron is supposed to be the president! Wild hijinks ensue as fellow students, teachers, and even his own friends decide they want to do good deeds. Before Cam knows it, things are out of control, he's being threatened by the high school Fuzzies (a competing good deeds club) and then there's the whole Elvis-the-beaver thing... Will Cam be forced to give up his gamer lifestyle and actually, you know, get involved?

Korman's trademark humor abounds, from the football player who refers to himself in the third person to the extracurricular-obsessed high school Fuzzy president. Cam himself is a typical Korman anti-hero - he just doesn't want to get involved and can't understand why people won't leave him alone. The events are a little over the top, but along with a big dose of humor there's a subtle suggestion that maybe making a difference isn't as hard as you think - and kids can definitely make that difference.

Plus Cam's younger sister turns out to be his gaming arch-nemesis (and much better than him) which was hilarious also.

Verdict: A must-have in your collection - give it to your slacker gamers, kids who want to get involved, beaver fans, and anyone who likes a funny book.

ISBN: 9780545823159; Published April 2016 by Scholastic; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Floppers & Loppers by Stan Tekiela

Adventure Publications is a new publisher I looked at when I was at ALA in summer 2017. I've been looking at a few different books from them and I found one of their board books to review today.

Although it's not quite clear from the title, this is a book about animal ears. Each spread shows a photograph of an animal. There is a small white caption that labels the animal, an inset photograph showing a close up of their ear with a pop-out quote, and an additional fact about them in a brightly colored inset. So for a cricket there's a photograph of a cricket, an inset of their ear on their leg, and the text reads "This white spot on my leg is my ear!" and "Crickets' ears are on their front legs, below their knees."

The photo of an owl doesn't show its ears, which are hidden by feathers, but its feather tufts which are not ears (the text explains this). The book is a traditional square, sturdy cardboard, and the layout is fairly simple and uncluttered.

I like photographs for board books and simple illustrations. The concept of different creatures having different ears is probably best for at least a toddler age but even younger babies will enjoy looking at the animals. This is a good example of nonfiction in board books, as opposed to some other things which I will not mention here.

Verdict: A good addition to your board book collection.

ISBN: 9781591934240; Published 2013 by Adventure Publications; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Philomena's new glasses by Brenna Maloney

GUINEA PIGS!! WEARING GLASSES!!

Ahem. I admit it, I am as vulnerable to cute as the next person, especially if guinea pigs are involved.

This is a story of three sisters. Philomena, Audrey, and Nora Jane are very similar and yet a little different. But, as sisters, they like to do everything together. So when Philomena gets some snazzy purple glasses, Audrey and Nora Jane get glasses too.

Then Philomena gets a handbag for her glasses. Audrey thinks that would be useful - a place to keep snacks! Nora Jane is a little worried about all the things she's having to haul around though.

Finally, the sisters have a discussion and realize they don't always have to be exactly the same - they only need the things they're really using. Maybe...

The real draw of this is guinea pigs. In glasses. With handbags of snacks! Adorable. It would go well with a storytime on clothes or on things not having to be "fair" all the time.

Verdict: Fans of Nancy Rose's squirrel photography and guinea pig lovers will delight in this silly story. Guinea pigs!

ISBN: 9780425288146; Published 2017 by Viking; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Great Penguin Rescue: Saving the African Penguins by Sandra Markle

Kids are always interested in saving animals, especially if said animals are cute or fluffy. Sandra Markle continues playing on this popular theme in her latest science title.

Markle sets the scene with the plight of African penguins. Threatened by climate change, human incursion into their nesting sites, and overfishing, the rapid decline of colonies threatened the species survival. How could they be saved? Markle follows the careful scientific investigation and resulting attempts to save the penguin nesting sites along with the results.

Readers will not only get to follow a story of wildlife conservation (with lots of cute penguin photos) but also learn about the penguins themselves and the scientific methods used to investigate and stop the decline of their populations.

Markle's titles are always a quick pick for me when looking for book club nonfiction or recommending nonfiction to kids and teachers. They're well-written and researched, include excellent sources and back matter, and of course have a great layout and lots of cool photographs. I really like her two main series - wildlife conservation and scientific mysteries - and they circulate well in my library.

Verdict: Worth the extra $$ to purchase these library bound editions, they are sure to circulate regularly on any library shelf for years to come.

ISBN: 9781512413151; Published 2017 by Milbrook/Lerner; Purchased for the library

Saturday, November 4, 2017

This week at the library; or, November begins

What's Happening
I am tired. No school Monday or Tuesday. Huge crowds on Tuesday. 150 four year olds, teachers, and a class from the special education school came to Kohls Wild Theater on Wednesday. Still hadn't finished cleaning up the mess by Thursday. Good group for book club though. I didn't do much for the science fest - I was working on Candyland prep and a gazillion other things. I did spend a while carrying an ozobot going in circles around though. We had ozobots, spheros, a 3D printer, perler beads, and shrinky dinks. We also had some game developers and an astronomer from UW-Madison. I left at 5:30 to go join dinosaur fest at a local school. I was the reading corner. Got home around 9pm. Tired. Feet hurt.

Bookaneers Book Choices

Friday, November 3, 2017

Blastback: Ancient Greece by Nancy Ohlin, illustrated by Adam Larkum

This is the third of the Blastback! series I've read. I loved Ancient Egypt, felt meh about Vikings, and now I'm back to mostly loving Ancient Greece.

Ohlin explains the geographic makeup of ancient Greece, which was not a single landmass as most people think of countries in the modern world. City-states are defined as well as the climate and general economy. Various aspects of daily life are included; there are chapters on democracy, religion, philosophy, and other elements that continue to influence people today. Ohlin also covers the less-palatable aspects of Greek life, like slavery, the position women had (or didn't have), and the battles between the city states that eventually made them vulnerable to outside attack. Final chapters talk about archaeological and other research, including how people are still discovering new things about ancient Greece today. There is a page on Greek discoveries that are still used today and a brief bibliography.

I liked the cartoons better in this title. They seem to have more spirit and life than in Vikings and there are some rather pointed ones showing women looking indignant at their exclusion from public life. The book neatly skirts (heh) more adult aspects of Greek life, clothing statues and Olympian participants and making no mention of the some of the more risque aspects of the lives of the gods and philosophers. One interesting story was a retelling of Pandora's box that had her husband, Epimetheus, opening her box to release ills upon the world. I did a little research of my own and there are versions of the myth from that angle, but they're not commonly retold. It would make an interesting discussion point though. My other complaint is there's no pronunciation guide for the many Greek names and turns that are used.

Overall, this is a nice, simple introduction to ancient Greek life and culture for beginning readers. I would recommend it as a beginning to discussion, not to be read on its own though as it is very simplistic. Which is why I chose it for a book club discussion!

Verdict: Although I've found the quality of this series to be a little uneven, I still strongly recommend them as a unique addition to your beginning chapter series collection. Magic Tree House readers will enjoy them, as will those who like history and nonfiction. They're also great for sparking discussion about what to look for in nonfiction and encouraging kids to read and learn more about history.

ISBN: 9781499801187; Published 2016 by little bee; Purchased for the library

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The night fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Angela Barrett

I'm a little ashamed to admit I've never read this - I did buy it but was doubtful about the appeal. My readers are into fairy books, but more the Rainbow Magic type and this just sounded too...literary I guess. Anyways, I was thinking about choices for my 3rd-5th book club and somehow this one came up and I thought, hey, why not try it?

So, this is basically a lovely, lovely book from the physical format to the text to the art. It's the story of a night fairy, Flory, who at a very young age has her wings crunched by a bat and finds herself alone and helpless in a strange garden. Each chapter of her adventures is like a separate jewel, carefully polished and linked together until the end of the story, when she reconciles with the bat. Throughout each episode, Flory grows not only in her survival skills and knowledge, but also emotionally as she learns about friendship, selfishness, and that there are more important things than herself.

Miniature enthusiasts will adore the delicate paintings of Flory's flower-petal dresses, her squirrel companion, the hummingbird, and the description of her woodscraft. The book itself is on thick paper with lightly sparkling endpapers and covers and glossy art. An added dimension is the full-color images that show Flory with tanned skin and crinkly, dark hair.

The literary quality of this is cannot be denied and it will surely have appeal to readers who love reflective, descriptive stories. At only a little over 100 pages it's a very manageable length, although the smaller font and dense vocabulary may discourage some readers. After trying this in book club, as I expected, some kids didn't like it and didn't finish it - one really loved it though.

Verdict: I think this will be a good choice for my book club but it's not what I'd call a wildly popular book, even among fairy-fans. It's directed more at readers who like a quiet, fantastical read with lovely language. I wouldn't choose it if I did one book for all readers, but as a choice among other titles, it's a good addition.

ISBN: 9780763636746; Published 2010 by Candlewick; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Small Readers: Turtles by Laura Marsh

National Geographic easy readers are pretty standard buys for me; I have a lot of beginning readers who like nonfiction and I also find them a good choice for adult readers who need something that's a lower level but not too "kiddish." I usually only read them when I'm using them in a program though. I selected a couple titles we hadn't used yet for my upcoming September book club meeting and so I needed to read them first!

This is a pretty typical National Geographic easy reader, full of simple facts and colorful photos. It starts by explaining how turtles are categorized as reptiles, the difference between turtles and tortoises, and the general makeup of their bodies. Turtles' diets, habitat, and reproduction are all covered. There are also sections of interesting facts about turtles, a section on sea turtles, and descriptions of various unusual turtles. The final spread lists some of the challenges facing turtles and how kids can get involved from not keeping them as pets to collecting garbage. The back matter includes close-up pictures to solve and a simple picture glossary of four terms.

While there is an image of a turtles' skeleton, I would have liked to see a more clear statement that a turtle can NOT come out of its shell without dying. Kids see that way too often on cartoons and turtles are killed or injured often as a result. Other than this quibble, this is an excellent introduction to turtles. Although it's labeled a level 1 though, it's more suitable for more advanced/older readers. The vocabulary is generally simple but it does have more complex sentences, especially in the facts sections - those have smaller font as well. It would also be a good book for partner reading with the child reading the big, simpler sentences and the partner filling in the other text.

Verdict: The colorful photographs and interesting text make this a good addition to your nonfiction easy readers. I expect it to be a pick for many kids in my upcoming book club as well. Plus, who doesn't like turtle pictures?

ISBN: 9781426322945; Published 2016 by National Geographic Kids; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Marigold bakes a cake by Mike Malbrough

I thought this was hilarious, but appealing to my somewhat quirky/dark sense of humor may not be the best thing for a picture book....

Marigold, a very precise and perfectionist marmalade cat, is preparing for his weekly baking. Marigold is going to make the most perfect cake ever...when birds start appearing. Marigold tries getting rid of them, but nothing works and he ends up with a giant mess! After taking a walk to calm down, he discovers that the birds just really want to bake...

[SPOILER]

Unfortunately, they're no good at it! Turns out that some things just aren't for birds, as Marigold discovers in the last spread where, rolling pin waving and fangs out, he chases the birds out of his kitchen.

Malbrough is originally a teacher, artist, and has experience in graphic design which definitely shows in his debut picture book. The comic timing is just right and Marigold's expressions are some of the funniest parts of the book. The illustrations, including birds in hats, are lush and colorful and the brisk rhymes add a touch of alliterative humor.

The ending made me laugh uncontrollably - it certainly isn't the typical "let's all be friends together" ending of a picture book. This one will definitely appeal to older kids with a sense of humor and those who enjoy chaos.

Verdict: An additional purchase, but a fun one!

ISBN: 9781524737382; Published 2017 by Philomel; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, October 30, 2017

Amazon Adventure by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Keith Ellenbogen

Scientists in the Field is always doing something new; breaking new ground in showing the real lives and research of scientists, including a diversity of opinions and experiences by including non-Western perspectives and the lives and concerns of locals and how science and research affects them. This latest book continues that tradition by combining science, economics, and culture to show readers how something as small as aquarium fish can have a big impact on the lives of people.

Author Sy Montgomery, photographer Keith Ellenbogen, and aquarist Scott Dowd introduce readers to a small community on the banks of the Amazon river. Supported by the capture and export of piabas, small, brightly-colored fish, the community faces many challenges. Competing breeders in the US, the struggle to safely and humanely export fish, and well-meaning aquarists who are trying to avoid wild-caught fish. Montgomery weaves together the color and excitement of a local festival, the Scott Dowd's own journey as a scientist, the lives of locals, and a wider picture of the Amazon rainforest and it's current state to create a strong, multi-faceted narrative.

I really want to push this book at kid and parents and say READ THIS. It's all about science, making the world a better place, learning about other cultures! But it's hard to get kids, who often don't have the reading ability to tackle a challenging title like this, to relate to a book set so far away from their small town, midwestern lives. It's not often that a kid will pick this up on their own, when they'd rather read fantasy, or comics, or scary books, or National Geographic factoids. This is when I feel lucky that I have such a great relationship with our school district, teachers and librarians. They have gate-keeping abilities that I don't, as well as more access to kids. When I get requests for selections of high-level reading materials, science narratives, and research topics, I can use my expertise to recommend books like Amazon Adventure, which teachers aren't familiar with, and so get them into the hands - and hopefully minds - of readers.

Verdict: This is a powerful and hopeful book, full of interesting stories about the lives of people, scientists, and the river that they need to survive. It's one I definitely want to have on hand to recommend to the right reader and the right teacher to get it into the hands of kids who will be the future aquarists, authors, and scientists.

ISBN: 9780544352995; Published 2017 by Houghton Mifflin; Purchased for the library

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Easy Readers/Early Chapters Cybils Nominations

This is the full list of nominations for the category I'm a first-round panelist in, with reviews linked and notes to myself of what I have and haven't read. If there is no notation (or link) for a title, it's been reviewed on my shorter post blog, Flying off my bookshelf.

Easy Readers

  • Pre and easy readers
    • Ballet cat: What's your favorite favorite? by Bob Shea (review scheduled)
    • Elephant and Piggie like reading: The good-for-nothing button by Charise Mericle Harper (review scheduled)
    • I like the farm by Shelley Rotner
    • I see a cat by Paul Meisel (review scheduled)
    • Ninja on the farm by Luke Flowers
    • Pip sits by Mary Morgan
    • Pizza mouse by Michael Garland (on order at the library)
    • Pug & Pig: Trick or treat by Sue Gallion
    • There's a pest in the garden by Jan Thomas (review scheduled)
    • What is chasing duck? by Jan Thomas (review scheduled)
  • Intermediate easy readers
  • Bridging easy readers (moving to chapter books)
  • TV tie-ins and other titles
    • Adventures of little Miss Adeline Geneva Grace by Benjamin Nichols (N/A)
    • Break-out by Cordelia Evans
    • Felicia and the rat by Mauro Magellan (N/A)
    • Journey through the forbidden forest by Sheri Tan
    • Mater's backward ABC book by Lisa Wheeler
    • Miffy at the library by Maggie Testa
    • Moonlight meeting: the nocturnals by Tracey Hecht (N/A)
Early Chapters
  • General fiction
    • Absolutely Alfie and the furry, purry secret by Sally Warner (review copy, to read)
    • Barkus by Patricia MacLachlan
    • Beatrice Zinker, Upside down thinker by Shelley Johannes (review copy, to read)
    • Class act by Kelly Lyons (checked out to read)
    • Cody and the rules of life by Tricia Springstubb (checked out to read)
    • Curse of Einstein's pencil by Deborah Zemke
    • Daisy dreamer and the totally true imaginary friend by Anna Holly
    • Daisy dreamer and the world of make-believe by Anna Holly (checked out to read)
    • Fix-it friends: Have no fear by Nicole Kear (N/A)
    • Infamous Ratsos are not afraid by Kara LaReau (checked out to read)
    • Jake the fake keeps it real by Craig Robinson (checked out to read)
    • Jasmine Toguchi, mochi queen by Debbi Florence (checked out to read)
    • Lola Levine and the vacation dream by Monica Brown (checked out to read)
    • My fantastica family by Jacqueline Jules (checked out to read)
    • Octo-man and the headless monster by Jane Kelley
    • Overboard by Terry Lynn Johnson (checked out to read)
    • Piper Green and the fairy tree by Ellen Potter (checked out to read)
    • Piper Morgan to the rescue by Stephanie Faris (N/A)
    • Princess Pistachio and Maurice the magnificent by Marie-Louise Gay (checked out to read)
    • Rock star by Kelly Lyons (review copy to read)
    • Shai and Emmie star in break an egg by Quvenzhane Wallis (review copy to read)
    • Sprout Street Neighbors: Bon Voyage by Anna Alter (N/A)
    • Ugly cat and Pablo by Isabel Quintero
    • Under-the-bed Fred by Linda Bailey (review copy to read)
    • Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors (review to be posted)
    • Who gives a hoot? by Jacqueline Kelly (checked out to read)
    • You're amazing Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke (N/A)
    • Yours sincerely, giraffe by Megumi Iwasa
  • Fantasy
  • Mystery
    • Ada Lace on the case by Emily Calandrelli (checked out to read)
    • Ada Lace sees red by Emily Calandrelli (checked out to read)
    • Adventures of Charlie Chameleon by Ellen Buikema (N/A)
    • Christmas in Cooperstown by David Kelly (checked out to read)
    • Curious McCarthy's power of observation by Tory Christie (checked out to read)
    • Dark shadows by Doreen Cronin (checked out to read)
    • Inspector Flytrap in the goat who chewed too much by Tom Angleberger (checked out to read)
    • Wilcox and Griswold Mystery: The case of the poached egg by Robin Newman
  • TV tie-ins and other titles
    • Alvin and the superheroes by Lauren Forte (on order at the library)
    • Being Bree: Bree and the nametag worries by Christine Laforet (N/A)
    • Best videogame ever by Lauren Forte (on order at the library)
    • Boss Baby junior novelization by Tracey West (checked out to read)
    • Cars origin: Storm chasing by Dave Keane (checked out to read)
    • Cars origin: Struck by lightning by Dave Keane (checked out to read)
    • Elsie Jones and the book pirates by Sean McBride (N/A)
    • Enchanted snow globe collection by Melissa Stoller (N/A)
    • How to be a boss by Tina Gallo
    • Jaden Toussaint the greatest episode 4: attack of the swamp thing by Marti Dumas (N/A)
    • Jeremy's emotions by Tolga Yazar
    • Mystery of the Min Min lights by Janelle Diller (N/A)
    • Raccoon rescue by Christa Miller (N/A)
    • Sienna the cowgirl fairy by Alayne Kay Christian (N/A)
    • Very best Christmas tree ever by Mark Edgar Stephens

Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction Cybils Nominations

This is the full list of nominations for the category of which I am chair, elementary and middle grade nonfiction. I try to make sure I've read as many titles as possible, so as to be able to approve titles and moderate discussions. If there is no link or notation after the title, I've read it and reviewed it on Flying off my bookshelf, my short post blog.

Elementary Nonfiction
  • Biography
    • Adrift at sea by Marsha Skrypuch (checked out to read)
    • Balderdash: John Newbery by Michelle Markel
    • Big machines by Sherri Rinker
    • Caroline's comets by Emily McCully (checked out to read)
    • Chef Roy Choi and the street food remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
    • Dangerous Jane by Suzanne Slade
    • Danza!: Amalia Hern├índez by Duncan Tonatiuh
    • Frida Kahlo and her animalitos by Monica Brown
    • Girl who ran by Kristina Yee
    • Girl who thought in pictures by Julia Mosca
    • Grace Hopper, queen of computer code by Laurie Wallmark
    • Here come the Harlem Globetrotters by Larry Dobrow
    • I am Jim Henson by Brad Meltzer
    • Imagine that by Judy Sierra (checked out to read)
    • John Ronald's Dragons by Caroline McAlister
    • Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford
    • Lighter than air by Matthew Clark Smith (checked out to read)
    • Listen: How Pete Seeger got America singing by Leda Schubert
    • Long may she wave: the true story of Caroline Pickersgill by Kristen Fulton
    • Manjhi moves a mountain by Nancy Churnin (checked out to read)
    • Margaret and the moon by Dean Robbins
    • Martin's dream day by Kitty Kelley
    • Martina and Chrissie by Phil Bildner (checked out to read)
    • Maya Lin by Jeanne Walker Harvey
    • Muddy by Michael Mahin
    • Noah Webster's fighting words by Tracey Maurer (checked out to read)
    • Pocket full of colors by Amy Guglielmo
    • Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Jonah Winter
    • Schomburg by Carole Boston Weatherford
    • Shark lady by Jess Keating
    • Stand up and sing: Pete Seeger, folk music and the path to justice by Susanna Reich
    • Take a picture of me, James Van Der Zee by Andrea J. Loney
    • Time to act by Shana Corey
    • World is not a rectangle by Jeanette Winter (checked out to read)
  • History
    • Dazzle ships by Chris Barton
    • Founding fathers were spies by Patricia Lakin (to review)
    • Great wall of China by Nancy Ohlin (checked out to read)
    • Revolutionary rogues by Selene Castrovilla (read, to review)
    • Secret agents! Sharks! Ghost armies! by Laurie Calkhoven (to review)
    • Secret project by Jonah Winter
  • Science and Nature
    • Animals by the numbers by Steve Jenkins
    • Animals Illustrated: Walrus by Herve Paniaq (checked out to read)
    • Bear's life by Ian McAllister
    • Book of bridges by Cheryl Keely (checked out to read)
    • Can an aardvark bark? by Melissa Stewart
    • Crazy about cats by Owen Davey
    • Droughts by Melissa Stewart (reviewed tba)
    • Fantastic flowers by Susan Stockdale
    • Feathers and hair, what animals wear by Jennifer Ward
    • Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (checked out to read)
    • Hatching chicks in room 6 by Caroline Arnold
    • Hidden dangers by Lola Schaefer (checked out to read)
    • Hidden wildlife by Jim Arnosky (checked out to read)
    • How to survive as a firefly by Kristen Foote
    • I've got feet by Julie Murphy (N/A)
    • If you were the moon by Laura Purdie Salas
    • Insects by Sneed B. Collard (checked out to read)
    • Journey: The amazing story of OR-7 by Becky Elgin (N/A)
    • Money Math by David Adler
    • Moto and me by Suzi Ezsterhas
    • Night creepers by Linda Stanek (checked out to read)
    • Once upon a jungle by Laura Knowles (N/A)
    • Over and under the pond by Kate Messner (reviewed to post)
    • Penguin day by Nic Bishop (reviewed to post)
    • Poop sleuth by Gina Shaw
    • Robins, how they grow up by Eileen Christelow (reviewed to post)
    • Secret life of the red fox by Laurence Pringle
    • Shake a leg, egg by Kurt Cyrus
    • What makes a monster? by Jess Keating (checked out to read)
    • When planet earth was new by James Gladstone (checked out to read)
    • Wolf island by Ian McAllister (checked out to read)
    • Series by Ana Maria Rodriguez (N/A)
      • Secret of the bird's smart brains
      • Secret of the deceiving striped lizard
      • Secret of the green squiggly bombers
      • Secret of the scorpion-eating meerkat
      • Secret of the scuba-diving spider
      • Shocking secret of the electric eel
  • Social Sciences
    • Her right foot by Dave Eggers (checked out to read)
    • Nantucket sea monster by Darcy Pattinson (N/A)
    • Pedal power by Allan Drummond
    • Storyworlds: A moment in time by Thomas Hegbrook (checked out to read)
    • This is how we do it by Matt Lamothe
    • Tony and his elephants: best friends forever by Cathleen Burnham
    • Youngest marcher by Cynthia Levinson
    • What is hip-hop? by Eric Morse (checked out to read)
Middle Grade Nonfiction
  • Biography
    • 42 is not just a number by Doreen Rappaport
    • Adolf Hitler by James Buckley (checked out to read)
    • Amazing Hockey Stories: Connor McDavid by Lorna Nicholson (N/A)
    • Goodnight stories for rebel girls by Elena Favilli (checked out to read)
    • Jack the Ripper by Michael Burgan (checked out to read)
    • Kid authors by David Stabler (N/A)
    • Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr (N/A)
    • Our stories begin by Elissa Brent Weissman (checked out to read)
    • Pathfinders by Tonya Bolden (checked out to read)
    • Radiant child by Javaka Steptoe (checked out to read)
    • Red bandanna by Tom Rinaldi
    • Red Cloud by S. D. Nelson (checked out to read)
    • Who was Alexander Hamilton by Pam Pollack
    • Women who dared by Linda Skeers
  • History
  • Science and Nature
  • Social Sciences
    • Girls who code by Reshma Saujani (reviewed to post)
    • Innovation Nation by David Johnston (N/A)
    • Speaking our truth by Monique Smith (checked out to read)
    • Stormy seas by Mary Beth Leatherdale (checked out to read)
    • Strange fruit by Gary Golio
    • This book stinks! by Sarah Wassner Flynn
    • Two truths and a lie: It's alive! by Ammi-Joan Paquette (review to be posted)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

This week at the library; or, Goodbye October

What's happening
Managers' meeting on Monday, on Tuesday I found out I have to move a bunch of stuff in the basement - bittersweet since, on the one hand, the basement REALLY needs to be cleaned on the other...omg I just organized it in August! *sob*. Another small group at Messy Art Club. I'm continuing the after school clubs through May, but then I'm doing something else for the summer and will re-evaluate for the fall. An average of 20-30 people isn't bad, but it's not what I've been getting in the past. Very enthusiastic 1st graders - they played our five senses/guessing game and picked out books. For the first time in I can't remember how long, I did NOT have to haul stuff around in the basement! Because I made one of my aides do it all on Wednesday and Thursday... My staff and I shifted books mostly. I can see clearly the sections that need filling out in nonfiction now - I'm still going to need to weed more picture books though. When we change to neighborhoods in 2014 I had 4,000 titles. Now I have close to 6,000 and circ is slowing because it's so crowded! I went over to Health and Human services at the end of the day - my school colleague invited me to join in a county wellness initiative that's planned for May. I think this will tie in with our garden plans and possibly Library on the Go.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Humphrey's treasure hunt trouble by Betty G. Birney, illustrated by Priscilla Burris

This is the sixth and latest installment in Humphrey's Tiny Tales series, a younger version of the popular series "The world according to Humphrey." It features Humphrey the school hamster on little adventures with friends from school. Humphrey is quite eager to participate in everything, but sometimes disappointed that the kids can't understand his squeaks.

On this adventure, Humphrey has an important mission. He and the classroom frog have gone home with Garth (and his little brother Andy). Garth is making a treasure hunt for his classmates and he gives Humphrey the most important job of all - guarding the treasure chest that holds the prize! Humphrey does a good job, not taking even one peek, but in the middle of the night a thief takes the treasure chest! Can Humphrey solve the mystery and find a new treasure, or will the hunt be spoiled?

Burris light illustrations add interest and humor to the story, keeping beginning chapter readers going through the text. There's a larger font and more white space on the pages as well. This is one of the series that I think works well with a younger chapter book audience; even if they're not familiar with the longer Humphrey books, they can pick up the storylines with no problem and a class pet is always a popular character. I would like to compare the books and see how many of them feature diverse kids as opposed to them being the friends of the white kids who are featured, but I haven't had time to check each book.

Verdict: I have fans of both Humphrey series and this is a solid addition. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780399172311; Published 2017 by G. P. Putnam's Sons; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Thursday, October 26, 2017

All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

I'll be honest - this is not the type of book I personally enjoy. There's just too much interpersonal drama. BUT it's a book that the kids absolutely love and it's flying off the shelves faster than I can recommend it!

Jamieson returns to the world of friendship, drama, and middle school with an unusual setting - the Renaissance Faire. Imogene has been homeschooled and basically lived at the faire where her parents work. But now she's ready for a new adventure - middle school! She's happy with her quirky clothes, renfaire friends, and especially thrilled with her new status as a squire. But when she gets to middle school, none of that matters. Her renfaire friend is picked on by all the cool kids, the teachers are mean, and she sticks out like a sore thumb. Things just get worse and worse until, in her desire to be accepted and fit in, she does something really awful.

Now Imogene is an outcast at school and in her own family. Her little brother hates her, she's lost her squire status, she has to be tutored by the renfaire workers she's looked down on, and her erstwhile friends - on both sides - will have nothing to do with her. It will take some serious thought about what it really means to be a brave knight - and a friend - for Imogene to try and repair some of her damaged relationships and fix the things she's done wrong.

Jamieson's colorful art is reminiscent of Telgemeier's style, one of the reasons it makes a great read-alike - but she has a style all her own. Imogene's everyday life is interspersed with her own imaginative journeys into a fantasy world where she, a brave knight, slays dragons. The scenes in the Renaissance Faire will attract both faire aficionados and those who've never been, showing plenty of fun activity, a diverse group of people who work together as a family, and helping readers see both sides of Imogene's dilemma as she tries to fit in at school and still be true to her family and herself.

Jamieson does a really good job showing the difficulties Imogene gets into and how bullying isn't always simple and clear-cut. Imogene's parents at first assume she's being bullied, since she's different than the other kids, and are shocked and horrified when they find out what Imogene has done. Imogene herself has some hard lessons to learn, including taking a realistic look at the choices she's made and where she's ended up. The other kids and adults are all shown as relatable, fallible people. Parents make mistakes just like kids and nobody is all good or all bad. The story also addresses the difficulties of going from a more casual, homeschooled environment to a public school. While I could wish that the "hippie homeschooler" stereotype hadn't been used, this is a more realistic picture of adapting to middle school that both homeschooled and traditionally schooled kids can relate to.

Verdict: Readers who love the drama and angst of fitting in, figuring out friendships, growing up, and dealing with social anxieties will love this latest book, especially with its helping of faire fantasy on the side. A great read-alike for Telgemeier and other slice-of-life middle school comics. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780525429982; Published 2017 by Dial books for young readers/Penguin; Galley provided by publisher at ALA; Review copy provided by publisher and donated to the library; Purchased for the library (yes, we need all the copies)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Moo! Moo! What are you?

This is another republished title from the previously out of print line Begin Smart, originally published in 2008 in Canada. I was pleased when Sterling started reissuing these as they're very attractive to parents and most of ours have fallen apart.

This title uses the familiar refrain of "peek-a-boo" and die cut holes, paired with touch-and-feel elements. A typical spread says "peek-a-boo" with the last "o" being a die cut circle revealing the texture of the next animal. Meanwhile the page shows the current animal and encourages children to touch it, "I see a fuzzy dog. Can you pat it?" There is a patch of orange fur for a cat, curly brown hair for a dog, white wool for a sheep, smooth textured pink for a pig, and short black fuzz for a cow.

The art is childlike with big mouths, chicks decorating every page, and quickly sketched in lines and bold colors. The book is an extra-sturdy square of about 7x7 inches. Begin Smart includes a note to parents with recommendations on experiencing the book with their children and the back lists early literacy skills encouraged by the book.

Verdict: Touchy-feely books don't last forever, but you'll get a lot of excellent use out of this one before it falls apart (or gets icky!). Recommended.

ISBN: 9781454920847; This edition published January 2017 by Sterling; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The very fluffy kitty, Papillon by A. N. Kang

I had completely missed this book until I got to ALA and they were handing out magnets (which one of our circulation clerk's children are enjoying at this very moment). So, marketing works!

"Papillon is a big kitty. He is not fat. Just very fluffy." Thus begins the story of Papillon, a cat so fluffy he floats. Despite his owner's best intentions, dressing him in different costumes to keep him weighted down, Papillon is determined to float free. But when he sees a potential new friend, a little red bird, and goes outside to greet her... he floats away!

Fortunately, there is a happy ending with a compromise between Papillon and his owner Miss Tilly and Papillon's new friend.

The story is sweet and simple, gently quirky but with an adorable sweetness that listeners will sink into. For me, what really charmed me were the illustrations. Papillon is delightfully rounded and fluffy, with eyes that are often closed in sleep but occasionally pop open into sleepy dots. Readers can follow his friend, the little red bird, throughout the book from beginning to end and across the sometimes scary forest (in one scene the darkened forest shows an owl clutching a mouse and a snake eyeing some fledglings.

Verdict: Even if you didn't get any paper doll magnets (and I am totally in favor of a paper doll Papillon) you will adore this sweet story of a fluffy kitty and some good friends. I look forward to more stories about Papillon - the first one checked out almost before I could discharge it!

ISBN: 9781484717981; Published 2016 by Disney-Hyperion; Purchased for the library

Monday, October 23, 2017

Poison by Sarah Albee

I have been eagerly awaiting Sarah Albee's newest nonfiction title and here it is! Poison is, as she is careful to explain, not a how-to book (this didn't stop some coworkers from giving me leary looks over my lunch-time reading choices). It's not a grisly recounting of true-crime either, although some are included.

This book is a fascinating excursion through the history of poison, forensics, history, and food contaminants, up to the present-day. Albee talks about dangerous beauty products through the ages, how poison affected history, myths and legends, and the changes in poisoning caused by modern forensics and government involvement in food standards. Readers will learn about poisonous makeup, ink, paint, food, drink, plants, and much, much more.

Extensive sources, back matter, and further reading that includes fiction and fantasy as well as nonfiction are only a bonus to this gruesomely funny book. Pair it with Gail Jarrow's medical mysteries, Georgia Bragg's histories, and of course all of Sarah Albee's fans will want to read it! Great for starting discussions about how our food is affected by laws, the choices people make about their appearance, and, of course, historical poisonings!

Verdict: A fun choice for classroom, book club, or just on your own reading. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781101932230; Published 2017 by Crown; Purchased for the library

Saturday, October 21, 2017

This week at the library; or, It's finally fall and just in time for winter

A mouse! In my window sill! I shall call her Thomasina
What's happening
 - Another busy week! OPtions is a virtual charter school - I reported on their library field trip and mentioned some ways we could potentially collaborate next year - library garden, etc. Only 23 people at Mad Scientists Club. The weather is gorgeous and everyone is outside before winter hits! Also, I'm behind on publicity and outreach so haven't been connecting with as many kids. Still, the kids had an awesome time, mostly playing with the "real" marble run I keep in the library. I had a marketing meeting with my associate on Wednesday - eventually she'll take over the marketing, but she's still in training. It's a lot to learn! I left early on Wednesday and went on an epic journey to Walmart to use up the last of the supply budget. I had a very involved group on Thursday. They didn't necessarily want to talk about their book club books, but they very definitely wanted to discuss the books that they liked. These were all 5th graders and most are very busy with school so I didn't get a lot of books taken, but everyone took at least one! 
 - Friday I came in early for a big field trip from the special education school. We were trying something new with this size of group - about 30 kids - but it went pretty well. I took them on a brief tour through the children's area, then we read Go away big green monster (which they LOVED) and The Squeaky Door. They decorated gingerbread men (no particular reason, I just had a bunch of them) and put pennies in the wishing well on their way out. We're planning more field trips in the future and maybe having them attend some programs. One important note to remember for next time - I forgot that these kids are tall enough to push open the crash bar to the outside and inquisitive enough to do just that! I will need to put a barrier in front of it next time! I had a heavy stream of holds and requests to deal with and then the last program! My last sewing machine workshop was great - 2 people finished projects from last time, 2 tried some different things, including more pillows, 2 came in with partially finished projects which they completed, and 2 teens wandered over from middle school madness and fiddled around a bit. I really like the machine that was donated to us and I foresee many happy sewing days ahead (including finishing the hem on one project!). Now if only I can figure out where on earth I put all that fusible webbing...

Book Explosion Choices
Titles I haven't read yet
  • Crack in the sea by H. M. Bouwman
  • Defender of the realm by Mark Huckerby
  • Beanstalker by Kiersten White
  • If the magic fits by Susan Schmid
  • Moon princess by Barbara Laban
  • Prisoner of ice and snow by Ruth Lauren
  • Spirit hunters by Ellen Oh
  • Dash of dragon by Heidi Lang
  • Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde
  • Toads and diamonds by Heather Tomlinson