Monday, March 30, 2009
Kenneth Mallory does an excellent job of explaining how Rich Lutz and other scientists are exploring the effects and progression of deep-sea volcanos. The pictures show the mysterious creatures that live and die around these boiling vents of water and chemicals as well as the strange rock formation formed by lava deep underwater.
As always, my favorite part of the Scientists in the Field book is the introduction to a real scientist - Rich Lutz. His education and interest as a scientist is nicely woven throughout the text as well as how he started studying deep-sea volcanos.
Verdict; This is an inspiring and fascinating story for budding scientists or anyone interested in the mysterious deep in the ocean.
ISBN: 0618332057; Published October 2006 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library
Friday, March 27, 2009
Naughty Lily, whose button-black eyes are definitely creepy, is having a temper tantrum when her mother leaves. But suddenly a fluffy white bear shows up and it's time to have fun! Until the bear with sticky paws makes a big mess - and won't clean up, take a bath, or....do anything Lily was supposed to do earlier. Finally he leaves Lily with the mess just as her mother arrives home and she promises contritely to clean everything up and gets a big hug.
There's some counting involved, although nothing organized. The delicate detail in the illustrations and the fancy games combined with the simple but lilting text make this a perfect choice for toddlers and little ones who look like potential Fancy Nancy fans.
ISBN: 978-1589250703; Published March 2008 by Tiger Tales; Borrowed from the library
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Daisy Dawson is an independent individual and loves her morning walks to school....although she has a tendency to be late. One morning, she rescues a butterfly and mysteriously gains the power to talk to animals. Her new ability gets her into trouble, but makes life a lot more interesting too!
This is a charming and unique beginning chapter book. There were a few parts where the plot dragged a little and the description felt a bit long-winded, but on the whole the story is engaging and the characters - human and animal - delightful. I especially liked the strong ink and pencil illustrations, which made an excellent blend with the characters and plot.
Verdict: Highly recommended for fun reading at all times!
ISBN: 978-0803731578; Published October 2008 by Dial; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Is there hope on the horizon? Fuse8 says maybe. Her Penguin librarian preview highlights an intriguing title: The Homeschool Liberation League by Lucy Frank. Her teens are reading it RIGHT NOW.
I await further developments. Which could happen even faster if I got my own copy! Hint, hint.
Monday, March 23, 2009
One of best elements of this book is its emphasis on how the profiled scientist ended up doing this job - his childhood interest, education, and how anyone can do it! Snake Scientist especially does a great job of debunking the mysterious scientist myth, showing Bob Mason as an ordinary guy who worked hard to follow his interests, even when he was told he couldn't do it. The narrative also emphasizes the importance of questions and curiousity in science and even has a list of questions in the back that the snake scientists are still working on.
Verdict: An excellent nonfiction for reading aloud, reluctant readers, or anyone interested in science or snakes.
ISBN: 978-0395871690; Published March 1999 by Houghton Mifflin (later editions still in print); Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library (not by me)
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander (for my time fantasy collection - haven't read this)
Whispering mountain by Joan Aiken (a new paperback edition for my Joan Aiken collection)
Oops by Arthur Geisert (a really fascinating picturebook)
Merlin and the making of the king by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (I normally HATE Arthurian stuff, but I love Hyman's gorgeous illustrations...)
The Kitten Book by Jan Pfloog (an old childhood favorite)
Just so stories by Rudyard Kipling, illustrated by Safaya Salter (I am so THRILLED! This is the edition we had when I was little and I have been looking everywhere for it!)
Nearer Nature by Jim Arnosky (I'll probably trade this on Bookmooch when I've read it)
Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll (I've been looking for a cheaper version of this for ages - finally found a decent paperback for a decent price!)
Traveler in time by Alison Uttley (another one for my time fantasy collection that I have not read - very nice ex-library edition, with illustrations by Christine Price and a lovely cover)
Padre Porko by Robert Davis (another nice ex-library book - Padre Porko is a bit like Freddy the Pig)
We're going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (small book for my small book collection!)
Peter Rabbit goes to school: a replica of the antique original (another small book)
Stink and the great guinea pig express by Megan McDonald (for my guinea pig collection)
Egg thoughts and other Frances songs by Russell Hoban (I really want this on LP, b/c that's how I had it when I was little, but I remember most of the tunes...)
My little golden book of fairy tales, illustrated by Gordon Laite (I noticed the very pretty illustrations and thought I'd get it...)
and for Bookmooch trading...
Araminta Spookie: Vampire Brat by Angie Sage
Heir of Mystery by Philip Ardagh
Invasion of the boy snatchers by Lisi Harrison
Felix feels better by Rosemary Wells (actually got this for my guinea pig collection, then discovered when I got home that I already had it!)
and for the library...
Invasion of the boy snatchers & Revenge of the Wannabes by Lisi Harrison (we need extra copies!)
Soundtrack to Applause
New Christy Minstrels Wandering Minstrels
Return of the wayfaring stranger, Burl Ives
Barrel Full of Monkees
Burl Ives sings Little White Duck and other children's favorites
Soundtrack and story of the Aristocats
Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky
Friday, March 20, 2009
There's a distinctly Dickensian flavor to this intermediate story. The grotesque characters don't have the humorous edge of Dahl's villains, but the dark, gritty underside of a Dickens portrait. Nathan's strange new school and the lingering menace of his uncle hold the reader breathless through the rather thin plot until reaching the satisfying although somewhat unbelievable conclusion.
Verdict: Elboz is a popular author of beginning chapters and intermediate fiction and fantasy in Britain. This fun adventure is worth doing a little digging to find for your American readers, especially those who enjoy stories of luckless orphans and zany adventures.
ISBN: 978-0192753281; Published November 2003 by Oxford; Received through Bookmooch
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
But this book has such charm.....that's a rather neglected term, for the reason (in my opinion) that charm isn't really something written today. Not sickly-sweet, sentimental, or twee, but good, robust charm. And it really only works with animal stories, at least for me. Wind in the Willows, Wakefield's Bottersnikes and Gumbles, L. M. Boston (sometimes) and now....The Wombles by Elizabeth Beresford. These teddy-bear like creatures live in a comfy burrow and have their own little squabbles, habits, and individual lives. They also have little excitements and tragedies, feasts and adventures....
I still don't think I've really defined what I'm saying...maybe it's written as adult animals that behave like children, as in Wind in the Willows? Or Paddington. Hmm....that might be it. It's sort of a bridge between adult and child.
Well, whatever, maybe you all can figure out what I mean.
Verdict: I don't think the majority of contemporary children will appreciate this. Sigh. Find a used copy for yourself if you feel the urge.
ISBN: N/A; Published by various publishers at different times. Mostly out of print, but I think you can find newer in print versions in the UK, through Book Depository; Received copy from Bookmooch
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Anyways. But E. L. Konigsburg is an author I feel very strongly about. I don't think I actually read her best-known work, Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler until I was older and it was ok, but when I was a young teen I read T-backs, T-shirts, COAT and Suit. It moved me profoundly and although I have not read it in many years I still take pieces of it out in my head and think them over.
So when I found out that E. L. Konigsburg was going to be speaking at a children's literature conference in Indianapolis when I lived in Champaign a few years ago I decided I must go.
This is how I went (I should say, first of all, that this was January):
I walked two miles to the bus station.
Took the Greyhound bus to Indianapolis and arrived around 10pm. Only it was really 11pm because I didn't know there was a time change.
Slept in the bus station until almost 6am. (If you are going to spend the night in a bus station, which I have done a couple times, I highly recommend Indianapolis. Someone has kindly broken the arms out of the long pew-like seating so you can almost lie down and sleep for half-hour stretches. Half-hour stretches because that's how frequently the train rumbles by overhead.)
Set out to find a city bus to get me to the college where the conference was. (I tried to call the bus company before I left to find out about schedules but I couldn't get anyone and there was only a very vague map on the internet)
Walked for about an hour (did I mention it was freezing cold and snowing?)
Got on a bus.
Was dropped off and told to walk a few streets over for another bus.
Got on another bus.
Was told it was the wrong bus, the other driver had directed me wrong, walked back and got on another bus.
Walked about a mile and finally found the college.
And then...at last I was rewarded! There were some other people there - Ed Young, who seemed very shy but was rather charming to listen to and April Pulley Sayre (I think) and somebody else but I was sort of dozing off by then....
And I heard - and saw! E. L. Konigsburg. A very dignified and firm lady, older than I had realized, but very authoritative and very centered. Most notable quote from her talk...."Multi-tasking is adultery of the mind". She talked about having space in life and art. It was gorgeous and worth the trip.
But the trip wasn't over. I hitched a ride with a very sweet school librarian to the nearby Half-Price Books (hey, I had to wait SOMEWHERE) and hung out there from around 5 to 9.
Then I carried my bags of books about a mile alongside a completely unlit and very deserted highway until I arrived at the bus stop at a hospital.
Did I mention it was snowing? Unfortunately, I was not alone. Despite the prominent NO SMOKING sign inside the bus shelter, I was quickly joined by about 10 smokers. So I spent half an hour sticking my head out of the shelter to breathe, until my lungs started freezing, then squishing back inside to warm up....
Bus finally arrived and I gratefully climbed on board, told the driver where I was going...."Oh, I can't take you there, they blocked all the streets off for ---- (some football rally or something).
I got dropped off in almost completely unlit streets and joined hordes of partially drunk fans.
Walked about half a mile and arrived at the bus station at around 10.
Went back to sleep on the semi-comfortable pews until 3am.
Took bus to Chicago (yeah, I know, but I had to go to Chicago to get to Champaign). Bus stops partway with broken window. Did I mention it was still snowing?
Arrive at Chicago knowing I have an hour until I catch the next bus. Ask conductor I pass where bus is, as I am the kind of anal person who likes to sit right in front of the door. "Oh, that's us we're leaving". Ticket agent neglected to take into account time differences.
Arrive home around 10am and collapse.
But it was worth it all, yes.
Anyhow, the reason I am thinking of this now is that I finally located a copy of Konigsburg's TalkTalk, a book I have been longing to read for years but could never find....I have dipped into it a bit and it looks special.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Everything leaves a trace....frogs leave bubbles, we glimpse an animal's tail, a snail's trail. Paula Fox's poetical prose combined with Karla Kuskin's detailed illustrations will inspire further observation of the natural world, to see what other traces have been left behind.
The repetitive text is perfect for interactive story times and inspiring children's own version of traces.
Verdict: Recommended as a nonfiction read-aloud for storytimes especially
ISBN: 978-1932425437; Published April 2008 by Front Street Press; Borrowed from the library
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Kids hunched over the computer for hours when it's sunny outside. Get a life, kids!
Slightly "off" patrons (if you're a librarian you know what I mean) hanging around said kids. Ick.
Parents who tell kids, "no, we're just getting movies today, you can't have a book." Arrrgh!
Patrons with really vague reader's advisory questions 10 minutes before we close, "I'm looking for a story about a horse. I think it was in that area (points to our 10 shelves of adult fiction). I don't remember the author, title, or what it's about. Why can't you help me?"
Of course, there are the grandparents bringing their kids to play in the sunny children's area, and families raiding the new book section with squeals of delight, and many other lovely things, but sometimes....It's hard to be tactful.
Friday, March 13, 2009
So, when I discovered he had some previous books I thought I'd take a look, starting with the Chowder stories. In the first story, Chowder is an unusual bulldog who doesn't fit in with the other dogs, no matter how much he tries. However, he finally discovers some friends who appreciate his unique view of life.
The second Chowder story is more of the same, with Chowder not feeling or acting like the other "Fabulous" dogs at dog camp. But with hard work and a bright idea, he finds his place.
I can see the appeal of these stories, the "unique child/animal who finds his/her place" is a popular and well-worn theme. Although I don't care for the style of art myself, I know some people, doubtless more educated about art than I, will appreciate the odd perspectives and lines and the clean landscapes.
Verdict: I just didn't care for them myself. I'm rather tired of the "I'm different and have to find a place for myself" theme in picturebooks and the art doesn't appeal to me. Sorry Chowder. You have lots of friends, you don't need me.
ISBN: 0316011800; Published September 2006 by Little, Brown; Borrowed from the library
Fabulous Bouncing Chowder
ISBN: 0316011797; Published September 2007 by Little, Brown, Borrowed from the library
Thursday, March 12, 2009
This had some good reviews and looked pretty cool....so I bought it for the library, as we are doing poetry this month. I zipped it home last night for a quick preview.....and I'm rather disappointed.
First, there's a typo. Now, a typo is not a big deal in a novel or something because you just read past it, but in a book of poems? Bad, very bad. (Enquiring minds - it's on page 17, the second to the last line of Aileen Fisher's poem "Caterpillars" - "But that is more THAT I can do" - it should be THAN). Especially when you then spend the rest of the reading experience looking for more typos.
Then - and this is just weird - there's a couple spots where it looks like they were running out of ink, especially on page 114. I mean, big fancy book, you should check your ink cartridges, right?
Standards - people just don't have 'em anymore.
The art side is my biggest peeve. First, on page 117, for May Swenson's poem "Painting the Gate" David Gordon drew a boy with purple paint everywhere. Um....apparently he didn't read the poem, or just took some extreme artistic licence, because it's supposed to be BLUE. "Postal blue" to be specific. Which isn't even remotely purple.
Secondly, the book claims to be full of art by "award-winning artists." Well, yes there is some beautiful artwork by Chris Raschka, Lois Ehlert, Nancy Tafuri, Steven Kellogg (except for the picture on page 100 - judging by the hideous face, he had an off day). BUT, a large portion of the artwork is done by Robert Quackenbush (well-known yes, but I'm not aware of any awards), Paul Meisel, Laura Logan, and a couple others. Not that their art isn't nice or anything and maybe they've won a bunch of awards I'm not aware of but....
The exact numbers are: Laura Logan, 16. Her art is nice - pedestrian, not particularly outstanding, just...nice. Robert Quackenbush, 12. I really like his easy readers, but I've never been a fan of his rather dark and convoluted style. Paul Meisel, 12. Another unknown, at least to me, sometimes his art's really good, sometimes it's just boring. Chris Raschka, 12. Not my favorite, but I can appreciate it. Aliki, 11. Now there's an artist. No masterpieces, just simple, workable, well-done art. Steven Kellogg, 9. One of my favorites, but just doesn't seem to fit here. Derek Anderson, 9 - another pedestrian artist. Nice, but nothing special. Henry Cole, 9. An excellent realistic artist, plenty of strong feeling and color. Dan Yaccarino, 8. Not one of my favorites, but I can appreciate him. David Gordan, 8. Kinda an inferior copy of Henry Cole. Nancy Tafuri, 7. Beautiful. Just...beautiful. And our collage-y artists are at the end, with 5 for Lois Ehlert and 4 for Ashley Bryan. No need to say anything about them!
Now, the poems themselves are mostly a pretty good selection. Lots of classic Aileen Fisher, a nice mix of various authors, lots of undeservedly obscure Margaret Wise Brown, and so on. Plus some by Bill Martin Jr. Now "Storyteller" (pg. 80) is a good one, but "City Song" (pg. 68)? I mean, even if the collection is sort of commemorating the guy, you couldn't find anything better? It's horribly banal and after reading the other selections hits you with a flat plop.
Verdict: In conclusion - I'm not sorry I bought it. "Really?" Really. The poems are a pretty good selection, there is a lot of marvelous art, and I think people will be grabbed by the cover. It's just....it could have been so much better.
ISBN: 978-1416939719; Published November 2008 by Simon & Schuster; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Somehow, I missed this in the Cybils finalists. Now that I've seen it...I want it. Although I often see picturebooks I'll read again and again in storytime, there aren't many that are personal keepers, but this one - definitely. The lovely swooshy watercolors, splashy colors, dreamy underwater bits...they're just perfect. And the writing! It's a lovely story of friendship and letting go.
Anyhow, there are probably other reviewers out there who have reviewed this better because they were not feeling all gooey-eyed at the moment, but I hafta go so I can't look for them right now (-:)
A very hairy bear - with a very sweet smile - doesn't mind getting his no-hair nose wet, sticky, stung, or stained. But there's one thing his no-hair nose just can't bear....
It's hard to get a picture book to be cute, sweet, and comforting without being maudlin or twee, but Alice Schertle and Matt Phelan have created a strong story that will be enjoyed by both parents and children over and over again.
This is a sweet and furry story for fall, food, or especially bedtime. The warm and comforting progression of the story and the gentle and giggly illustrations will calm down little wigglers and get them ready to curl up for bed - just like the very hairy bear!
You can see some more of Matt Phelan's work on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast or on Matt Phelan's website
Verdict: Highly recommended - a great choice for both individual read-alouds and storytimes
ISBN: 978-0152165680; Published September 2007 by Harcourt; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library; Added to my personal wishlist
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
ISBN: 0399233830; Published September 2007 by Philomel; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library (not by me)
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Collection Development; or, why I just bought the Petal Fairies by Daisy Meadows and not the Newbery Honors
And I thought, that's IT. That is a much better explanation of a collection development policy than anything I EVER heard in library school, at least for a small library.
It's quite simple - you buy books you know people will read.
Now, I can't quite match Ms. Yingling's being able to put a name to every book - although I serve a fairly small town (pop. 8,000 more or less) we're also part of a consortium and we serve townships, so our service population is closer to 20,000. Plus, I've only been here since May.
But, I've gotten to know quite a few kids, immersed myself in our circ stats, and hovered over the new book shelf like a vulture.
And so....I didn't run out and buy the ALA award and honor books we're missing. I don't buy every starred review in SLJ. I miss out on the beautifully-written-and-angsty-ya-literature-with-deep-meaning. I regretfully abstain from buying beautifully illustrated picture books by Pinkney and Isadora (ok, ok, I bought a COUPLE) and no jazz books, ever, at all.
So, you ask, what the heck AM I buying?
Picturebooks and nonfiction - trucks, dinosaurs, and princesses. I am buying other things of course, but these are key. I think I have a fairly good eye for what kids and parents will love in the picture book area.
Fairy series and Star Wars. I have two large and enthusiastic groups of kids who love, love, love these books. I buy every Daisy Meadows as soon as it comes out, plus other series (if it's got glitter - they love it). And I've been replacing our giant Star Wars cross-sections and visual dictionaries as they fall to pieces from all the love.
Juvenile - lots of different things, but the most recent "winners" I've gotten:
- Science Fair by Dave Barry and some other guy whose name I can't remember. The reviews were kinda blah, but I took one look at the cover and on to the order list it went. And I was right! It's checked out 2 or 3 times already and we've only had it a month or so.
- Boys are Dogs by Leslie Margolis. The pink and lime cover caught my eye, I loved the blurb, and it was recommended by Meg Cabot, whose Allie Finkle series goes well here, so I gave it a shot....this one has gone BIG. It checked out from the new shelf right away and every time it comes in it goes out again.
- All the Warriors tie-ins, manga, and so on.
- More books "like Wimpy Kid" - Jim Benton's Dear Dumb Diary, Ellie McDoodle
- Beginning chapter books - Mammoth Academy, Speck's Maybelle books
- vampire books. and werewolves. Clique. Gossip Girls. Fantasy with girly covers (hey, it's a genre to me).
- Ellen Hopkins and more novels in verse and/or my life is unbelievably sick stories. (I'd never heard of Ellen Hopkins, but a teen asked me for them and no sooner had I got one than it was STOLEN so I got lots more right away.)
- Memoirs and biographies of sad childhoods.
I'm looking for good "adventure" stories both in YA and juvenile as I've been asked for these. I'm having trouble picking good ones that aren't fantasy - I've looked at several different series but haven't quite made up my mind.
Nonfiction is a whole other mess. Our nonfiction section is seriously, painfully, outdated. I'm mainly working on getting really good nonfiction for younger readers and updating the science/animals area right now. It's going to be long and arduous.
This all sounds a bit vague....and it is! I'm still working on finding out what the community wants/likes to
read, gaps in our collection, and so on. Plus, hey, I'm sick. I don't have to be coherent.
But this is kind of how I feel about collection development - I buy what people want to read, books I know I can talk people into reading because I love them, and yes, I will buy some things that are never going to have huge circ stats but that I know a few people will want to read.
How do you feel about collection development?
Friday, March 6, 2009
Verdict: There are a few pleasant moments, but only very serious collectors will be interested in this book.
ISBN: 978-0688078485; Published October 1989 by HarperCollins; Purchased for my personal collection
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Wolf is tired of reading about all the nasty wolves in his books. He decides to write his own story about "Mr. Nice Wolf". But it's hard to go against your instincts.
I absolutely adore this book. I love the story-within-a-story page edgings, the blocky little mice, the sly endpapers with suitable book titles.
I could - and undoubtedly will in storytime - read over and over the perfect moment when Wolf gets completely caught up in his story and....oh, that rubber ducky! Heh, heh, heh.
And I absolutely am thrilled that here's one "villain" who ISN'T redeemed by a helpful friend. Sometimes wolves are....wolves.
Oh, and I love the sausagey squirrels. And the plump little birds. And the way the words wind around the footprints.
This is definitely going to be a storytime staple for a long time - I think I will use it in my upcoming preschool visits also!
Verdict: Highly recommended.
ISBN: 978-0805087925; Published October 2008 by Henry Holt; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library; Added to my personal wishlist
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I mean, you start out with Jiminy Cricket HOUSEBREAKING, then there's the whole clocks thing with the drunken guy in a tavern, kid with his pants down getting spanked, guy trying to chop a turkey's head off, another guy hunting. Then there's all the violence - Honest John wacking Gideon, and scary Pleasure Island - where they smoke! and drink! and play pool! Oh, and Jiminy getting himself an eyeful at the theater.
It's kinda fun to see it again, but...it's still weird. Not that the original story isn't weird, but still...and why is Figaro always a kitten? Poor little kitty, he never grows up....
Monday, March 2, 2009
Michael Foreman's illustrations include both blue-hued large paintings and smaller earth-toned images, all with his trademark spare beauty and detail.
ISBN: 978-0763633646; Published April 2007 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library