Monday, August 25, 2014


School Library Journal's movie review of The Giver.

Hoping to rejuvenate the love for The Boxcar Children, a full-length animated feature film is released.  From PW.

Ferguson public library offers lessons for students in limbo.  From SLJ.

Waukesha school committee denies parent's request to ban The Kite Runner and Chinese Handcuffs. From Waukesha Now.

A Pennsylvania school board restores Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale to a summer reading list.  From TribLive.

Chaos Walking trilogy gets new paperback cover release.  I like the original covers, but all for anything that gets the series more attention!  From PW.

National library lock-in event features authors, games, and Minecraft.  From SLJ.

J.K. Rowling writes a story featuring minor Harry Potter character, the “Singing Sorceress."  From Salon.

Jarrett Krosoczka tells us why lunch ladies are heroes.  From TED.

E. Lockhart on We Were Liars.  From The Guardian.

New children's bookstore opens in Boston: Make Way for Ducklings Store.  From PW.

Young adult fiction and its rabid discontents.  From Pop Matters.

Literary fiction writers tackling YA.  From Ploughshares Literary Magazine.

Why death is so important in YA fiction.  From The Guardian.

Searching for Anne of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island.  From The New York Times.

All the things I didn't get when I read The Giver as a kid.  From Slate.

A tale of two polls: support for the Common Core.  From NPR.

Dr. Seuss as a political cartoonist.  From Book Patrol.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of her early life in beautiful verse.  Woodson had the unique experience of growing up in both the South and the North in the 60s and 70s.  She never felt completely at home in either place, always missing somewhere.  Although very young, she was aware of the dramatic cultural shifts happening around her, even if she didn't really understand them.

Another beautiful book from Jacqueline Woodson.  Woodson started off her life in Ohio.  Her father did not like where her mother came from, South Carolina, where Black people had to sit in the back of the bus and say "yes sir" and "no sir" to white people.  He never wanted any of his children to have that experience.  But when Woodson's mother and father separated, they returned to her mother's home.

South Carolina was very different from Ohio.  Woodson and her siblings had lots of new rules to learn.  Despite her mother telling them they "were as good as anyone else" that was not how it seemed.  Despite the things she observes, Woodson and her siblings love living with their grandparents.  Their mother is often away in New York though, and after a time, they all move to New York.

Another move, another completely different cultural experience.  It's the 70s now, and with it comes the Black Pride movement and the Black Panthers.  Woodson is still to young to really understand what's going on.  But she can see that there are places where only Black people live, and places where only white people live.

Over the course of the story, Woodson also expresses her growing love of writing and telling stories.
 Sometimes she spins fantastical stories about things she's done.  They're things she wishes she had done, or places she wishes she had gone too.  Doesn't that make them kind of true?  Her stories get her into trouble sometimes, but she never stops.

It's Woodson's life, but it reads like historical fiction.  Simple and engaging, yet so much going on behind it.

I wonder about shelving this.  It should go in nonfiction, right?  It's the story of her life, told in verse.  But a kid would be much more likely to stumble on this in the fiction section, with the rest of her books.  But it wouldn't be right to put it in fiction.  Thoughts?

brown girl dreaming comes out August 28, 2014.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Turtles of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

Aref Al-Amri has lived his whole life in Muscat, Oman.  Now his family is moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan so his parents can get Ph.D.s.  The last thing Aref wants to do is leave his home, friends, grandfather, and everything familiar.  In the last days before the move, Aref spends time with his grandfather, Sidi, enjoying his country.

This was a lovely, quiet book.  It was not what I was expecting.  When the book started and it was about a boy nervous about moving, I assumed the story would be about his nervousness, the move, being new, and then making new friends and realizing everything was fine.  That was not the story at all.  In fact, Aref does not even leave Oman for Michigan in the book.  It was entirely about Aref and Sidi enjoying the time they have together, doing things that Aref loves, and gradually learning to accept the move.

Aref struggles with the idea of leaving his home.  His father has gone on ahead to get their apartment ready, and Aref and his mother and packing up their home and getting ready to leave.  At least, that's what Aref is suppose to be doing.  He can't quite start packing his suitcase.  What can he possibly bring from his home?  None of the important things, like his friends or his cat or his entire rock collection.  Aref tries to express to his mother how he is feeling, but his mother, who clearly loves him very much, is busy and assures Aref that this is an adventure and he'll make friends and everything will be fine.

Aref finds solace and empathy in his grandfather Sidi.  Sidi lets Aref talk.  The two take a camping trip together, and go see sea turtles lying on the beach.  Turtles are Aref's favorite.  Sidi allows Aref to come around in his own time and his own way.  He is the one who finally helps Aref to pack his suitcase, and helps him to feel better about his cousins living in his house while he is away.

Over the course of the story, I was aware of how old Sidi was.  He gets tired sometimes, and is stiff.  Sidi mentions not being quite as spry as he once was.  I kept thinking how it was possible that Sidi might die before Aref and his family returns.  They will be in the U.S. for three years.  I think this was intentional.  I wonder if middle grade kids will pick up on it?

This is one of those books that might be a hard sell.  It's beautiful, but not a whole lot happens.  It's thoughtful and lovely and paints a beautiful picture of the country and family and life.  Maybe a good book to be read in a book group or in class where a discussion can be invovled.

The Turtles of Oman comes out August 26, 2014.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Books so good, they make you miss your subway stop.  From PW.

Penguin is getting a lot of flack for their new UK Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover.  Penguin is standing by it.  I think it makes no sense for the book and will deter boys from picking it up.  From Bustle and BBC News.

Essay contest launched in response to controversy over The Miseducation of Cameron Post.  From American Booksellers Association.

There's no end in sight.  The latest YA novel-turned-movie, The Maze Runner, is soon to be released.  From PW.

Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay, writes about the dear friends who were inspiration for the book, and how it helped with her grief.  From The New York Times.

Lois Lowry says The Giver’s movie cast elevated her original novel.  Viewers seem to disagree.  From The Washington Post.

An interview with Rainbow Rowell.  From The Guardian.

20 YA book covers that are actually gorgeous.  From Flavorwire.

This is what modern versions of The Baby-Sitters Club would look like.  From BuzzFeed.

Why The Hunger Games' killer Katniss is a great female role model.  From The Guardian.

A is for apocalypse: children’s books for the modern age.  From Electric Lite.

Hmm.  Weeding is a good thing, but I really hope the "hasn't been checked out in three years" isn't the only thing they're going on!  Boston Public Library push to reduce books stirs community complaints.  From The Boston Globe.

Great first lines from children's and YA books.  From The Guardian.

Middle grade vs. YA.  From Writer's Digest.

35 Harry Potter covers.  From BookRiot.

Tweeting Rainbow

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Amulet: Escape from Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi

The sixth book in Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series finds Navin and Alyson stranded in Lucien, a supposedly abandoned city, in a search for a beacon that must be activated.  Meanwhile, Emily, Vigo and Trellis head back into the Void with Max, where they confront the Voice itself.

Such an exciting volume!  Some really crucial and dramatic stuff happens!  I can't tell you what because it would totally ruin it! 

You definitely need to start from the beginning with this series.  I skipped a couple and I know I'm missing things.  I need to go back and read them all straight through.  It's definitely a series worth reading.

The development of the characters continues to build in each book.  We learn more and more about them, what motivates them, how far they are willing to go for their desires or their friends.

We meet some new characters that clearly are going to become a bigger part of the upcoming story, and some old characters we haven't seen in a bit are brought back in.

The art is beautiful as always.  Since I had an ARC, most of the book was black and white, but the first section was in the full color.  There are beautiful double paged spreads, close ups on characters to show emotion and the images always enhance, not just support the story.

I wish I could say more, but I'm hesitant because I want everyone to go and read this series and enjoy it!  Highly recommended.

Escape from Lucien comes out August 26, 2014.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gabriel Finley & the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen

 Gabriel Finley's father, Adam, has disappeared.  Not long after this happens, Gabriel rescues a baby raven named Paladin and learns his family's secret - the Finely's are capable of bonding with a raven.  They can communicate without talking and even merge into one another so then can fly or walk together.  Gabriel learns that his father is being held captive by Corax, a half man half raven who use to be Adam's brother, in the underground city of Avioplois.  Corax is convinced that Adam knows where the torc is, a necklace that grants wishes.  Gabriel and his three friends set out to rescue Gabriel's father.

I really enjoyed reading this.  Great characters, exciting adventures, and it leaves you wondering what will happen next.  I felt like I hadn't really read anything like it, which is saying something since most fantasy books follow a well-worn trope.  There was some really good world building going in the book.  We're given an ancient history lesson so we understand where Avioplois came from and the origins of the torc.  We learn that ravens and humans used to be best friends, until a terrible thing happened that made humans fear all ravens and lead to the creation of the evil valravens, who now serve Corax.

Riddles play an important part in the story.  Gabriel loves riddles, and so do ravens.  We learn that ravens always greet each other with a riddle because only true ravens laugh at riddles.  Valravens, the evil, undead ravens, never laugh.  There's lots of riddles in the books, and I would find myself trying to solve them before I read ahead.  I felt very clever, indeed, when I could.

Some spoilers

Friday, August 15, 2014


Something new an exciting today!  Brad Wirz over at GoneReading, "brilliant products for the reading lifestyle," very kindly offered us some of their products for review!  GoneReading has all sorts of book-themed things, from t-shirts to book shaped plates to trivia games.  I picked out three different products to try.

The first was this completely adorable reading log for kids called "Book Worm Journal."  This would be an awesome present for a middle school or younger kid.  There are pages where the owner can fill in their personal details, and then there are pages that ask what kinds of things they like to read about, and where they like to read.  There are sections to record new vocabulary they come across, tell what the book was about and rate it (there's a place for the kid to rate it and the parent to rate it, in case you're reading together).  The journal also encourages thinking beyond the story itself, asking kids to write what they think happens after the story is done. 
There's even space for kids to write a story of their own.  There are also little games like acrostics and mazes.  The journal is spiral bound, so it's easy to write in, and the printing is big and bold with wide spaced lines so younger kids will feel comfortable.  Over all super cute.  I'm just waiting for my friends' children to get a little bit older so I can give this to them.

Next up was this funny looking device called the Gimble Traveler.  It holds your book open when you're out on the beach or at the gym.  Or any other time you might need your book held open.  I think when it's holding a book it looks like an evil squid attacking your book.  But that's probably just me.  The Gimble can adjust to three different sizes and can hold a book up to 1 1/2 inches thick.  One of the loops that holds the pages down is larger than the other, so you want to put that one of the thicker side of the book.  I tried it at the gym while I was on the elliptical.  It was easy to use, and held the pages well.  I didn't have any problems pulling a page out from the right and slipping it under the left.

Last was a children's literature quiz card deck called Once Upon a Time.  On one side of the card is a question, such as "In 1949, an Irish-born scholar of literature and theology at Oxford began work on a series of adventure novels tracking the history of a magical fantasy world.  Name the author and his popular series, in which a lion plays a prominent part."  On the back is the answer plus additional information about the writer and his or her works.  Some of the questions I thought were pretty obscure, but I guess you have to have some hard ones in there!  I caught two mistakes, however.  The first was Madeline being describe as a Parisian orphan.  She's not an orphan.  She's just goes to boarding school.  We know she isn't an orphan because when she gets her appendix out she gets candy from Papa.  The second was a question about Where the Wild Things where the story was described as "dealt with a misbehaving boy's nighttime fears" which I think is totally off the mark.  Despite that, it would lots of fun to play with your fellow librarians or literary friends.  Especially if there were drinks.

Thank you so much to Brad for letting us try out some of their cool stuff.  And remember, it's never too early to start being a librarian.
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