Monday, February 1, 2016

February Reading Challenge: Yes We Crab!


Caldecott is over, family birthdays are over for a few months, and life is starting to get back into a routine that doesn't include piles of picture books every evening. (Well, at least picture books to take notes with-Toddler GreenBean ensures we have piles of picture books to read every night!!)

I really want to get back to reading for fun and reading chapter books again, but I feel so overwhelmed and I don't know where to start! Enter my wonderful friends and our February Reading Challenge-Yes We Crab!

Five years ago I met these lovely ladies at ALA Midwinter: Angie, Abby, Katie, Kelly and Drea  I often tell people that our fist meeting was like going to summer camp, meeting your best friend, and then having to go back home. Luckily, we get to see each other at least once and sometimes twice a year at ALA and we keep up with each other via Twitter, Email, Facebook. We are always sharing program ideas, library talk, and what we're reading. So when the others all said they wanted to do a reading challenge, we all jumped at the chance and Yes We Crab was born.

It's easy to join in! All you have to do is set a goal for yourself and follow along. Post your progress on Twitter with the hastag #yeswecrab and we'll cheer you along! Your goal can be about reading, about keeping up with blogging-anything! 

My Yes We Crab Goal: Read 20 books (and yes, picture books totally count!!!!) and write a blog post at least once a week. 

What's your February Reading Goal? Can we do it? Yes We Crab!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My 2016 Caldecott Journey

Photo Credit: Horn Book


Just over a week later and I am still reeling from my amazing Caldecott year. Now comes the fun part of celebrating and sharing our winning titles! I had a wonderful time being part of the 2016 Caldecott Committee. Everyone was so kind, thoughtful, and caring and we really listened to each other as we shared and talked about books-and that made such a huge impact on me and my committee experience.

Our committee really bonded and even though we've only met in person a handful of times, I have had some of the best discussions about books with them and they are people I will always love and respect.
Photo credit: Rachel Payne
Being on the committee is a lot of work. Some people have asked me if it was easier or harder than when I was on Printz, and it's hard to say. In some ways, I felt I was reading more and getting more done with picture books-several pages of picture books also can mean several books whereas several pages of a chapter book can sometimes barely be a dent at all. But Caldecott was a completely different thing-analyzing art and illustration over the text which was very new to me. I cherish the experience and conversations I had with my fellow committee members-it's really made me look at picture books in a new way and I feel like I'm a better librarian because of it. I also truly believe that being on a committee helps you trust the process even more! 

The things that made such an impact on me in our committee discussions are also things that I think can help make an impact on any book discussion. Listen openly and listen to everyone, read, read, and read some more and take lots of notes, and learn to let go. I wish more book discussions could follow these practices-I think we would go far if we did! Even outside of book discussions, these are things that I plan to really focus on and practice at work-listening to everyone and learning to let go. I think doing so can make me a better manager and help me to serve our patrons even more. Who knew committee work had such broad implications on our lives? :)

I am so proud of our group and the work we did. If you haven't already, head on over to The Horn Book, where our amazing chair Rachel shares about our winners. I am so excited to share our books with the world and with the kids in my library. I'm already planning storytimes and outreach using these books and I hope you do too! If you do, I would love to hear about it!

Photo Credit: Elise Katz


After lots of reading and discussing, we eagerly got up early Monday morning to make our calls. Our phone calls were so incredible! Our illustrators cried, we cried, we cheered-it was joyous. I will never forget that moment when we told Sophie Blackall she was the 2016 Medal Winner and I broke down in tears as we cheered (and she cried on the other end of the phone-a surefire way to make sure the committee cries along with you!) I can't wait to be with my Caldecrew again in June at Annual-this time with our illustrators along with us to celebrate our hard work! 

To future award committees-you can do it! It will be a journey of a lifetime and savor every moment! To my Caldecrew-you are all amazing! Thank you for a wonderful experience that I will never forget! Thank you for letting me make 14 wonderful new best friends who I can't wait to see again and share books with! And to our five fantastically talented illustrators-thank you for creating beautiful art to share with the world. You make being a librarian the best job in the world!

Enjoy this year's winners-I know you will!







Thursday, December 31, 2015

Where Have You Been?

My blog has really suffered this year-but for a good reason!

I have been spending my time working on the 2016 Caldecott Committee! We're getting down to the wire now with our meetings starting next week, so this past month has been incredibly hectic.


Nope, no Caldecott eligible titles in this photo-this is my son's giant to-read pile, but you can use your imagination and pretend to understand the amount of reading I've been doing this year!

So, what is it like to be on an award committee? Well, it's lots and lots of reading. And then lots and lots of note-taking. Luckily, I've had some help in that area:



Now that Midwinter is getting closer, there's even more reading, note-taking, reading again, reading what others have said in their nominations and preparing your notes for what you want to say in all of your discussions. 

That's where I've been and what I'll be up to over the next couple weeks. There most likely won't be many new blog posts until Midwinter is over. I can't wait to see what all the other committees award at the Youth Media Awards Announcements! Here's to a great year of reading!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

ALSC Blog: Back to Basics

Today I'm  over at the ALSC Blog talking about how we're getting Back to Basics at my library.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Voyagers Giveaway


Voyagers: Project Alpha by D. J. MacHale

About the Book: Earth is in danger! Without a renewable source of clean energy, our planet will be toast in less than a year. There are 6 essential elements that, when properly combined, create a new power source. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy. And only a spaceship piloted by children can reach it and return to Earth safely. First the ideal team of four 12-year-olds must be chosen, and then the first element must be retrieved. There is not a mistake to be made, or a moment to lose. The source is out there. Voyagers is blasting off in 3, 2, 1…


GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I was thinking the other day about trends in middle grade lit and I realized that science fiction and stories set in space are becoming more popular. Add that to the multi-platform trend of middle grade books written by various authors (think 39 Clues, Spirit Animals) and you've got a winner. I know that I have an audience of readers ready to go crazy over Voyagers. I mean, what's more exciting than the idea that only kids can save the world and they have to go into space and have adventures in order to do so? In some ways, Voyagers could be likened to Star Trek for tweens if kids were sent on a mission. 

The books are action packed, part mystery, part science fiction, part adventure and they are lots of fun. The cast of characters is also diverse. I really love Piper, who is in a wheelchair, yet demonstrates that that won't stop her from traveling in space and being part of the team-she can do what everyone else can. (If you're a savvy reader, you'll figure out from the cover of book 1 who gets chosen for the mission, but there are still surprises along the way, so don't worry!) 

The additional elements on VoyagersHQ.com are engaging and fun. I love the videos of the possible candidates and the quiz-kids really get a chance to feel like they're part of the Voyagers mission. 

The series is fun and exciting and sure to be a hit with middle grade readers who are fascinated by space-and can also be a good intro into science fiction for young readers. 


Want to win The Voyagers Experience prize pack?




THE VOYAGERS EXPERIENCE prize pack
Get the full Voyagers experience! One (1) winner receives:
·         The first two books in the series;
·         Branded iPhone6 case and home GadgetGrip button to deck out your device while experiencing the Voyagers app.

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Random House Children’s Books.

FIll out the form below to enter! One entry per person. Contest ends 11/22


Friday, October 30, 2015

Flannel Friday: Buddy and the Bunnies by Bob Shea




Flannel Friday is a weekly roundup of posts about storytime and flannelboard ideas. You can visit the website here.

Librarian confession time-I am not a crafty librarian. Crafts for me mean fingerprints or play-dough. I wish I could knit cute puppets to use in storytime, but if I'm lucky, I can make an ok paper bag puppet. And my flannels just aren't pretty-so I rarely make them. (I'm more of a print it off from Kizclub and use magnets type of librarian!)

But I wanted a way to tell Buddy and the Bunnies by Bob Shea so that the kids knew who was talking. I'm reading the book, puppets weren't going to work. And since this is one of our state picture book award nominees, I'm planning on reading it a few times. In the past, the kids have had trouble knowing which character was speaking. So I made Buddy and Bunnies. While reading, I'll point to each character and move them on the flannel board to help the kids visualize who's speaking.

So here's my Buddy and Bunnies:


"I will eat you Bunnies!"


My first Buddy was a bit scary, so I had to make a happy Buddy too. 


The whole set. (Yes, I know the bunnies multiply by the end of the book, but I stuck with the original three to keep it simple) 




Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

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About the Book: After an accident leaves Samantha homeless and fatherless, she's not sure what to do. It's Missouri, 1849 and her dreams of being a musician are not going to be easy-she's a girl and she's Chinese American. Without a place to go, she's invited to a local hotel run by her landlord. But he has other plans for Samantha in mind-namely working in his brothel. Samantha fights back and finds herself needing to escape and fearing for her life. She meets a slave who works at the hotel named Annamae, who is also planning to run. So together they disguise themselves as boys and set off on the Oregon Trail to find Annamae's brother and and a new life for Samantha. As Sammy and Andy, they meet up with a group of cowboys who become unexpected allies. But if they knew the truth, the group could be in trouble-Annamae and Samantha are both wanted by the law. A powerful story of friendship and family.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Who knew the world needed a YA Western? It's not a genre I get asked about regularly (although here in Missouri I do get asked this question once in awhile). Stacey Lee knew we needed an amazing girl powered YA Western featuring a diverse cast of characters and lots of keep you up reading adventure-and I'm so glad she did!

At first glance, Under A Painted Sky might be a hard sell to readers. Like I said, it's not every day I get asked for the western genre or even historical fiction. But there's one way to sell this book-have readers just open it up and read the first chapter-or even the first two chapters. The book starts with such a bang and within just a few pages, our main characters have met up and are off on the trail. There's not much waiting around for the adventure to start-it's there from page one. And it never stops. Each chapter brings a new setback on the trail, a new hardship, a new adventure, a new crisis to overcome. The details of trail life are hard and brutal (and eye-opening for readers who might be very familiar with this period in history) But it's not all dreary. There is lots of humor injected into the story as well. I love Annamae and her various quips and the cowboys can be a jovial bunch.

The thing I loved most about Under a Painted Sky, aside from how fast paced the plot is, is how diverse the cast is. Sammy and Andy meet up with cowboys who are from Texas and one of the cowboys, Petey, is from Mexico. Along the trail they meet up with people who have come from all over-a group from France, a gang of boys from Scotland. I listened to this book on audio and this is where I really fell in love with the audio-the narrator does an excellent job with all the various languages and accents.

I will admit that Sammy is a bit too perfect at times. She has overcome a lot of odds in a society that is against her and while that makes her a strong character, it also felt a bit too perfect. She can speak many languages so she can translate along the trail, she can play the fiddle (mostly seen as a man's instrument), she is well educated. I liked that she fought against expectations, but at times it felt a bit too much for the novel overall. Sammy could always save the day.

The friendship that develops between Andy and Sammy is the strongest relationship overall. They develop a strong and powerful bond and it's a beautiful picture of female friendship. They have been through something very hard and it's not going to get easier from here-the road ahead of them is still full of many trials and tribulations. Yet through it all they grow close to each other and find family in each other. I loved seeing two strong female characters in this book and I enjoyed reading about both of them.

The cowboys-Petey, West, and Cay-add another element to the novel both of drama and fun. Cay is the most lighthearted-always joking, flirting with various girls they might meet up with, and having fun along the way. Petey and West are more serious with West having the most difficult background and prejudices to overcome. His story is handled deftly. Sammy develops feelings for West, but as she's keeping her true identity a secret from the boys, the romance isn't very angsty. And since they have bigger things to deal with-like surviving-there's not much dwelling on the idea of a starcrossed romance. There is still romance in the book, but it's not the main plot point and I felt that it was well done and added a nice depth to the novel without feeling out of place. The focus is on Andy and Sammy, their friendship and the overall trip to California.

I absolutely loved this book. I've been suggesting to everyone and couldn't stop talking about it after I read it. I even got Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan to read it (which is huge!) and he enjoyed it. (He loved that there wasn't much angst in it as well) I would recommend it on audio, as the narrator does a wonderful job, but reading it is just as enjoyable-I couldn't wait to get through the last disc and finished the last 80 pages by reading it myself. I can't wait to see what Stacey Lee has in store for us next-I'm sure it will be wonderful! Even if you think you don't need a YA Western, give Under A Painted Sky a try-you might be surprised to discover a book in a genre you never knew you enjoyed.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook checked out from my library and finished book received from publisher


 
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