Sunday, April 19, 2015

Summer planning

This has nothing to do with this post
I just like my reticulata irises
This year I've been trying to get my programming to a more manageable level. I made goals, I revamped the summer reading program, and this is what I planned for the summer.

One change I made is that summer will now run from when school ends, June 5, to August 1. In the past we've gone a week or two into August, but no more. Programs won't resume until a week after Labor Day (school starts the day after Labor Day).

Of course there's Summer Reading - three programs for 0-3, 3-12, and 6th grade and up. Sign up for summer reading begins after Memorial Day, but kids can't actually get anything until the second week of June.

  • Mondays
    • Morning - Pattie does Playgroup, Jess is at the desk, 1 aide helps Pattie and 1 helps Jess as needed.
    • Afternoon - This is normally my off-desk time, but I will back up Jess and give her breaks as needed.
    • Evening - I go on the main information desk and Pattie will do Tiny Tots twice a month (4 total for the summer)
  • Tuesdays
    • Morning - I cover the desk, Pattie does 2 sessions of Toddlers 'n' Books
    • Afternoon - Jess covers the desk and I supervise Storywagon - a total of 7 performers this summer. 1 aide helps me set up (which usually involves breaking down all the tables so the kids can sit on the floor)
  • Wednesdays
    • I cover the desk all day, 1 aide is scheduled to give me a break for lunch. This is the day I told local schools they could bring groups to the library. They don't get a program (they can come on Tuesday for that) but I will be able to help them find books and sign up for summer reading.
  • Thursdays
    • Morning - 1 aide does summer reading until I come in at 10 and cover the desk. Pattie does Books 'n' Babies. 
    • Afternoon - Jess covers the desk, I go on the main information desk from 12-2 and then do after school clubs with 2 aides scheduled to help.
  • Fridays
    • Morning - 1 aide does summer reading while I do either Go Go Garden with Pattie or We Explore Favorite Artists on my own. One Friday is the big field trip for summer school kindergarteners, Pattie and 2 aides will help me that day.
    • Afternoon - I will cover the desk.
Other programs and schedules
   We're kicking off with a camp-out June 5th, Jess, 1 aide, and my director are helping me run it. Pattie and I are running a Safety Shower on kick-off day, June 6.
   The week ending in July 4th we only have two programs - a Toddler Drive-In on Tuesday afternoon and Stuffed Animal Sleepover for which people can drop their animals off on Thursday. 1 aide and myself and possibly some (carefully selected) teens are going to take the pictures on Friday while we're closed.
   August 1 we're having The Big Splash to end summer reading and programs.

So, overall for the summer I have planned

  • 8 weeks of programming and summer reading
  • 57 programs; 5 collaborative programs with Pattie, 32 storytimes or playgroups with Pattie solo, 7 performers (supervised by me), 14 family programs with me (not counting summer reading)
  • Both Jess and I will be on desk for about 20 hours a week each.
Some unpredictable things - the local pool will be reopening this summer. Summer school schedules have been changed around this year. Who knows what will happen? I have $500 to purchase additional books for summer reading - I'm buying extra copies of the titles we can't keep on the shelves (Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Smile, etc.) but I'm still kind of worried about having enough books. Last summer, especially when the big school visited, I had trouble finding enough books for everyone to checkout something they wanted and I'm already dealing with emptied shelves due to the popularity of the new Neighborhoods.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

This week at the library; or, We rise to the challenge

Some of the 200+ people who
came to the under the sea party.
Digging in the "sand" for shells.
What's going on in my head and at the library
  • April is always a stressful month. I tend to get sick a lot in April, which can go either way - it's stressful because I get sick or I get sick because I'm stressed. This year I'm determined to handle it and not just survive, miserably, until Mid-May. Summer aside, we have some of our biggest programs in April. Our giant, collaborative party, Battle of the Books, preschool visits, Chick Central, etc.
  • I hate our copier. It is EVIL.
  • Under the sea is our huge collaborative party. About 200+ people came - our door counter said 383, discounting regular library attendees and people going in and out, probably about 225.
  • Only 22 people at Lego Club...but almost all brand-new attendees! They will be back.
  • Puppet Story Theater - I usually get 1-2 performers for our kindergartens every year. As you saw last week, one of our kindergartens got the date mixed up and came a week early, so I only had one kindergarten this week. They were an amazing audience - really clicked with the show.
  • It's kind of a strange feeling but I realized that, for the first time in years, I have no major project on hand. I told our cataloger this and she spontaneously replied "OH NOOOOO" I promised I wasn't going to do any more major projects, especially involving cataloging or relabeling. Unless, you know, they're really shiny. I think I'm going to reorganize all the Legos.
Some Projects Completed This Week
  • Recorded three utube videos - Neighborhoods, Maker shelf, and unconventional superheroes booktalks (most of the work done by our adult services librarian - I just had to talk)
  • Finally finished the last Neighborhoods sign
  • Finished going through all the easy readers - made lists of paperbacks, needed replacements, and to weed and pulled all the nonfiction to be relabeled. I did not actually weed more than about 10 because I have no money for replacements.
  • Created a photo collage for the family (refrigerator door) bulletin board of all the Under the Sea photos
  • Tiny Tots (Jess)
  • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions) (Pattie)
  • Under The Sea
  • Middle School Madness (Jess)
  • Books 'n' Babies (Pattie)
  • Lego Club
  • Puppet Story Theater
Ongoing and New Stealth Programs and Displays
What the kids are reading; A Selection
  • This is why reader's advisory is complicated. I had a parent who wanted a read-alike for Shiloh and a child who wanted Captain Underpants. I gave them Winn-Dixie and Korman's Swindle, which the older child chimed in that it was great. Then the older reader wanted books as well - voracious reader, loves manga and fantasy/adventure, but the parents do not want anything with spirits and Harry Potter is out. I gave her Sherlock Bones and discussed several possible manga series and then Ingo and a couple other things.
  • Movie for family movie night with a 2, 4, and 6 year old. I was trying to fix my computer at the time and most of our movies are in a huge mess being security tagged - I couldn't find My Neighbor Totoro, which was what I wanted to recommend, but I gave them Wallace and Gromit.
  • Small child who wanted Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles books. I went through a lot of different things and he ended up with Lego Ninjago and Lego Chima comics.
  • Where is Dinosaur Vs. Potty? Second time we have gone looking for it for the same little girl who left in tears because we couldn't find it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

This ORQ. (he cave boy.) by David Elliott, illustrated by Lori Nichols

Both names of the creators sounded familiar, but I had to look in the back to realize that David Elliott did the poetry picture books (On the farm, In the sea) which I love to use in storytime and Lori Nichols did one of my favorite new books, Maple, and the sequel, Maple and Willow Together.

So, I had high hopes for this book and I was not disappointed. It is adorably fluffy and funny.

Orq loves his mammoth, Woma. Unfortunately, Orq's mother is not quite so enthusiastic. Orq tries to teach Woma tricks to endear him to his mother, but they all go disastrously wrong. Finally, Woma manages to do something heroic all on his own and is welcomed back into the cave....sort of. Elliott does a great job using "cave boy speak" to great humorous effect and kids will be laughing hysterically over this one.

I love Nichols' simple but effect artwork and this is no exception. Both Woma and Orq are adorably fuzzy, not to mention a bit scruffy as small children and mammoths tend to be. There are lots of hilarious little details, like Woma's growing size compared to their other friend, a prehistoric woodpecker as Woma first lifts her up to the nest and then, well, it's not Woma's fault he grew a lot bigger...

Verdict: This is going to be a hit in storytime and a new favorite for kids at my library, especially anyone whose parents have ever complained about their pet! Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781620915219; Published 2014 by Boyds Mills Press; Review copy provided by the publisher for Cybils

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Small Readers: Dragon goes ice skating adapted by Samantha Swank, based on an original TV episode written by Steve Westren

I requested a big stack of easy readers to look through, primarily titles that seemed to be series. When this one came, it was fairly obvious it was a tie-in to a tv show, but it took me some research to find that it was a Canadian tv show based on Dav Pilkey's Dragon series. This normally isn't at all the kind of thing I'd review, but I did have some thoughts on it after all.

Dragon, a lumpy clay figure who looks rather more like a dinosaur than a dragon in my opinion, is having trouble with the winter weather. His hat blows away and he falls down on the icy yard. So he puts on a helmet instead of a hat, thick ice skates, and tries again. He's still unsuccessful until his friend Beaver suggests holding onto a chair to practice and soon he's skating on his own. He then plays a game of hockey with his friend Alligator, more friends show up and they put on an ice-skating show, and the story ends with a little moral. "Dragon still fell down sometimes. But he always got back up!"

Stills of the tv show are laid out like photos in blue-edged frames. The background of the pages is light blue with a snowflake pattern. There are a couple full-spread images with the text laid out on the clear patches of ice. The text itself is a subtle dark blue. The background images are light enough not to distract from the reading but the font is a little smaller than I'd normally see in a beginning easy reader. The images aren't very attractive; claymation needs movement to bring it to life and the pictures mostly just look lumpy and and out of focus.

The particular book I'm reading is from a prebound company and this is one of the reasons I won't purchase their products - the cover is much lighter and more attractive while the interior art looks like a poor photocopy. This may or may not be due to the prebind company, but the close gutters, which cut off large portions of the artwork, certainly are. Losing parts of the frames around the pictures is very distracting. Sure, the book will probably last forever - but why would you want it to? As far as I know, the tv show is no longer aired, if it ever was in the US and I'd rather this dingy book fell apart as soon as possible so I could purchase something more appealing.

Verdict: Baker and Taylor has their own prebind version available for backorder, but I wouldn't recommend it. This is part of the reason I put easy readers into my tubs - so I don't have to spend a lot of money on fleetingly popular titles. By the time the paperbacks have fallen apart, the show is no longer of interest. Every library has their own collection development policies, but for me I've not only ruled out all prebind companies, I've also nixed all paperback easy readers unless they're going in the tubs (which, update, I can no longer do. So, no paperback easy readers ever!)

ISBN: 9780545200622; Published 2012 by Scholastic/Prebound by Penworthy; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Bunny the brave war horse by Elizabeth Macleod, illustrated by Marie Lafrance

2014 is the 100th anniversary of World War I, so I've been seeing a lot of WWI books coming out. Why you would want to commemorate a horrific world war I'm not sure, but it is what it is.

This is a picture book featuring a popular topic, animals in war. It's based on the true story of Bunny, one of the horses used in World War I. Bunny was a police horse chosen by the army. He and his rider, Bud, survive poison gas, help move supplies and wounded men, and pull cannons. After Bud is killed, his brother Tom is given Bunny and together they suffer the privations of war; Bunny is so hungry he eats his own blanket at one point. Bunny proves himself to Tom and the other soldiers and eventually the war is won and Tom returns home. Bunny, however, like all the other horses is left behind with farmers in Belgium.

A brief history of World War I, the 9th Battery, horses in war, and the end of war and the fate of the horses is included in the back. There are no sources listed or anything to delineate the difference between historical fact (which is apparently very thin on this story) and the author's imagination.

Lafrance's illustrations have a friendly, cartoon feel to them. The people look like wooden dolls and the battlefields are remarkably tidy. Review suggest this as a good introduction to World War I for young children; it doesn't shy away from the death, but the pictures and story are sanitized for younger readers and there is no blood or graphic depictions of violence. Which, frankly, to me makes no sense. Why would you want to introduce the concept of world war to a six year old anyways? Bunny always looks sturdy and healthy, even when he is starving. The battlefields are as orderly as a well-groomed park and the soldiers all look reasonably healthy and in good spirits.

Verdict: My review of this is pretty much personally biased. This is, in my opinion, a completely inappropriate introduction to a horrific war. I'm doubtful about the need to have books on world war for very young children anyways, but I certainly wouldn't recommend this one. The completely sanitized pictures convey nothing about the realities of war and make it look like they're going for a little vacation in Europe. This is just my opinion - many other review sources thought this was an excellent introduction to the war for young children. I won't be purchasing it for my library though.

ISBN: 9781771380249; Published 2014 by Kids Can Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, April 11, 2015

This week at the library; or, April Showers

What's happening; in my head and at the library
Final picture of the Bring on the Spring
activity before taking it down for
Culver's coloring contest
  • Back to work. My desk was not as messy as I thought it was. Apparently we had a super busy week last week - we surpassed all our circulation goals, we broke 3,000 in picture book circulation for the month (a first!) and the children's area looked like a tornado went through it. It was awesome. I also had a patron compliment me on the gardening books I suggested last time they were in - they used them to plan their whole garden! My associate did amazing displays which I will be posting with our Under the Sea party in a few weeks.
  • Nobody came to Preschool Interactive, but we did finalize summer reading plans on Wednesday.
  • One of the reasons I have no desire to move up the management ladder is my extreme dislike of phone calls. I made multiple back to back phone calls on Thursday morning. UGH. Need chocolate to recover. Thursday was just annoying, from endless phone calls, to discovering I'd put the wrong time for next week's huge program on all the flyers that had already gone out, to not giving my associate enough information for a project and wasting her time (sorry again Jess) to the massive thunderstorms that dropped attendance at mad scientists club. All compounded by very little sleep the night before. Le sigh.
  • Ok, well that was an...unexpected development on Friday. I have a performer coming NEXT Friday and one of the schools got confused and showed up this morning! So instead of the 15-20 kids I was expecting for Favorite Artist, I suddenly had 100! However, it could have been a lot worse and I was able to adapt fairly easily. Luckily Mo Willems is one of the only two favorite artist programs that uses printables and no paint! The staff and my director stepped up and ran copies and collected every bottle of glue, crayon and marker, I did storytime and I was totally on fire, and then they colored pictures and made paper bag puppets (and I had enough paper bags!). Also, only one school got confused - if I'd had 200 kids I don't know what I would have done! Then the school was having a read-in so that was pretty crazy that evening with everybody demanding books.
  • Saturday - the local ham radio group came to demonstrate and do a "kids' day". I think maybe 20 people stopped by and that's probably generous. The weather was gorgeous and Saturday programs are hard to get people to come to here. Still, they seemed to enjoy setting up. I mostly worked in my office and then did periodic rounds to encourage people to go over there.
Stealth Programs
What the kids are reading, a selection
  • Talked about the new American Girl, Grace with some girls who are fans.
  • Picture books about blended families - drew a blank and asked on a listserv. Will be compiling a list later.
  • My Weirder School by Dan Gutman
  • Battle of the books list from another school
  • Mom said she liked one of my Civil War books, son was not enthusiastic. I talked up Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales and he agreed to try them (although not as enthusiastically as his mom)
  • A toddler mom mentioned she was reading chapter books aloud and was thrilled to find out there were Little House chapter books and I also recommended Daisy Dawson.
  • Wimpy Kid hard luck - checked out so I offered Big Nate or Nerds. He went with Big Nate but said he might try Nerds later.
  • Read-in requests - wrestling books and I recommended Dragonbreath
  • kid doing a science experiment on whether or not video games relieve stress. i got nothing...had to put books on hold
  • What the dog said by Reisfeld - do not own here
  • Bad Kitty - read-in
  • More read-in. More and more and more!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bird and Bear by Ann James

I usually like my picture book art a little stronger and more definite than you get in the lighter colors and lines of watercolor, but when I saw this my first thought was "Ernest and Celestine!" and it does have the feel of that sweet, classic series.

The endpapers echo Bear's striped shirt and give the book a summery, beach feeling before it even begins. The story opens with Bird waking Bear up to celebrate his birthday with a special present. They share breakfast and then decide to go visit Bear's other friend, who looks just like him. They check the weather, pack a picnic, and are on their way. When they arrive at the pier, they are delighted to discover that not only is Bear's friend there, but also a friend for Bird, who looks just like her too! When it turns out that their "friends" aren't exactly what they thought, there is some initial disappointment, but they both recover and eventually make their way home, discussing the nature of friendship and making plans for their next outing.

The art is arranged in small vignettes, a single page or even smaller two, three pictures on a page. Each shows Bear and Bird together with a few simple props or sketches of the surrounding scene. Although we only catch glimpses of the surrounding landscape; a park, the beach, a flight of steps, those few simple lines and washes of color capture the simple joy of a sunny day outdoors with a friend. I especially love the skillful way James' illustrates the water, with multiple colors swirling through its ripples.

Verdict: I wouldn't make this a storytime pick; the illustrations need to be viewed closely to catch all the delicate nuances and it's a slow, sweet story that isn't likely to hold the attention of a big, restless group. However, it would make the perfect, treasured one-on-one reading experience for a family or for a very small storytime with good listeners. It would also be a great way to introduce the concept of reflections for a science program. A lovely story, strongly evocative of the enjoyment of simple things.

ISBN: 9781499800371; Published 2015 by Little Bee Books; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Small Readers: Murilla Gorilla and the Hammock Problem by Jennifer Lloyd, illustrated by Jacqui Lee

I was skeptical about the first title in the series; it just seemed a little too quirky. However, I've gotten more into the series since then and really enjoyed this one, although I do still have a few reservations.

Murilla Gorilla's latest investigation is told in six brief chapters, suitable for an intermediate reader who has some fluency but isn't ready for full chapter books yet.

There's nothing but a stinky old shoe in Murilla's refrigerator, so she makes a trip to the market. Right away, she hears Okapi has a case for her. She makes her way through the market, greeting friends, until she reaches Okapi's hammock stall. The mystery: One of Okapi's hammocks has a hole in the middle! Murilla looks around with her magnifying glass, observes the scene of the crime, and writes down her clues in her notebook. Soon the trail leads to the river and Murilla must disguise herself to find the culprit. Murilla has solved the case, now she just needs to finish her shopping.

I really love Lee's artistic style. It has a clean, modern feel but with exciting colors and distinctive images. The endpapers show a pattern of Murilla in several poses and her crocodile friends fishing and swimming, all set against a bubbly light blue background with smiling blue and orange fish. Much of the deadpan humor in the series comes from the art, like the sequence where Murilla takes out a mirror instead of a magnifying glass, then detects her own foot.

My main reservation about this series is that it's set in the generic "African Rainforest". I can see where the creators didn't want to specifically identify a country, but there are so many books that kind of lump all the vast variety of cultures and landscapes into one "Africa" that this is bothersome to me. My other reservation is just that this is different - the setting, art, and even the text flow a little differently than the average easy reader. Kids learning to read at this stage generally are focusing on the mechanics of reading, not the content.

Verdict: Despite my reservations, I do think these are lovely books that would appeal to strong intermediate readers. They're adorable and quirky and kids who love mysteries, animals and humor will enjoy these. They'll just need a little extra booktalking to get them into the kids' hands, since they're a little different than the average easy reader.

ISBN: 9781927018477; Published 2014 by Simply Read; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, April 6, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Fatal Fever: Tracking down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow

I was absolutely fascinated by Jarrow's Red Madness, but I had a hard time seeing an audience for it at my library. This newest title, however, for some reason strikes me as a much easier sell with the the more prominent mystery aspect.

The book focuses on three characters who were pivotal in the fight against typhoid: George Soper and Sara Josephine Baker, public health officials, and Mary Mallon, who became known as "Typhoid Mary". The story moves back and forth between the confrontations with Mary and the struggle to decide what to do with the first known healthy typhoid carrier and Soper and Baker's fight to investigate, contain, and eradicate the deadly disease of typhoid. The final chapter talks about the continued threat of typhoid today and ongoing scientific study of the disease.

Back matter includes a psa to remind people to wash their hands, a photo montage of famous people who suffered from typhoid, glossary, timeline including outbreaks, a lengthy selection of further resources for more information, an author's note talking about how she became interested in writing this book and her writing process, source notes, bibliography, and index.

What made this, to me, so much more accessible than Jarrow's previous book (awesome though it was) was that the people in the story felt so much more immediate and relatable. It's also just a more engaging story overall - lots of elements of mystery and adventure with the added drama of death and disease. It was fascinating to see how Jarrow managed to portray the complicated issues of epidemics, quarantines, individual and collective rights from many different perspectives.

Verdict: This was absolutely riveting and I think will be of interest to any middle grade kids who are interested in history or just an exciting story. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781620915974; Published March 2015 by Calkins Creek; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Putting my money where my mouth is

In the past, I've tried to add to all my reviews whether or not I purchased the book for the library. However, that's come to be very difficult to do, since I frequently put items on a backlist, purchase them later, can't afford them....So I've decided to periodically collect a list of titles I've reviewed and also purchased. This doesn't include titles that were review copies and were donated to the library, which is indicated in the review. It's kind of a low percentage right now, since I've spent most of my budget on nonfiction for the neighborhoods this year though. For a complete list of new library materials, you can check out the library pinterest page!
Reviews coming soon (or sometime anyways)
  • The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham
  • Ranger in time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner
  • Rise of the Earth Dragon by Tracey West
  • Toto Trouble: Back to Crass by Thierry Coppee