Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John

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About the Book: Miles is not excited to be moving to Yawnee Valley-how exciting can a place be when there's a yawn right in the name? Miles was known as the best prankster in his old town, always pulling stunts on his friends. When he discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, Miles has to figure out who it is-and take the prankster down. Each one tries to one up each other, leading to more epic pranks and jokes in a hilarious prank war.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This book is sure to inspire tween pranksters everywhere! The Terrible Two is the hilarious tale of two epic pranksters had me cracking up. I listened to the audiobook, so while I'm sure the book itself is great (there are illustrations inside making a perfect book to give kids who are enjoying chapter books with illustrations) I loved the audiobook so very much. Adam Verner, the narrator, offers up a variety of voices for the characters and I laughed so much while I was listening-I especially loved his principal voice!

The pranks in this book are awesome and hysterical. These boys are not your average chalk in the eraser, whoopie cushion on the chair pranksters. They go above and beyond and their pranks are over the top that I know readers will get a kick of all their planning and pranking. The supporting characters are also very exaggerated, which adds to the humor. The principal comes from a long line of principals and he's a hapless leader. I loved the jokes about his speeches and principal lessons-I think adults would get a kick out of this book too.

The Terrible Two was a quick listen and a book I immediately went back to the library and started putting in the hands of my readers. It's perfect for readers who enjoy Jon Scieszka and when  kid asks for a funny book, I know exactly what to give them. But make sure you have your readers promise they won't pull any of the pranks they learn on you!

Full Disclosure: reviewed from audibook I checked out at my library

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

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About the Book: In 1909 London, girls are expected to follow the rules, behave, and marry well. But Victoria Darling wants none of those things-she wants to be an artist. Her passion for art takes a turn when she scandalizes her family by posing nude at her secret art class. She is pulled from her finishing school and returned home where her parents arrange a marriage for her to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky wants other things for her future-she wants to attend the Royal Academy of Art and she knows she can make it-but she has to finish her portfolio. She befriends a local policeman who becomes her muse and gets caught up in the burgeoning suffragette movement. Vicky wants to choose her own path and she is determined to make that happen.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I love historical drama set in this time period anyway, so I was sure to fall for this book, but there was so much happening and Vicky is such a fantastic strong character that I think I would have fallen head of heels for it anyway-even without the historical setting!

Vicky is a cross between Sybil Crowley and Arya Stark. She's passionate, she knows what she wants and she's not afraid to go after it herself. In a time where women were told to stay quiet and behave, Vicky doesn't listen. Instead she stays strong, follows her own path and makes her own way. It's not easy and she doesn't expect it to be, but that's also why she's incredibly tough. She knows what she's giving up to go after her dreams-she knows she's giving up a nice cozy future and while it takes her awhile to fully let it go, she comes to terms with it in the end and realizes that some dreams are worth working for.

I'll admit there were times I wanted to scream and Vicky and ask what she thought she was doing! While she eventually realizes that marriage to a stuffy rich boy is not the way to art filled future, she is somewhat naive about others. She thinks that she'll be able to fulfill her dream of attending art school once married and it took her a long time to figure out that wasn't going to happen! I saw that coming and would get frustrated with her, but I also had to remind myself that she was coming at it from a naive viewpoint and was acting exactly as I would expect her to-frustrating or not.

I adored the romance in this book and loved that Vicky wasn't all about focusing on Will, the policeman she befriends. There is romance in the book, but it's not the focus and it's not something Vicky spends a lot of time fretting about. Instead she is more concerned with her future and working with the suffragettes. I also loved the details and characters from Vicky's work with fighting for woman's rights. These women went through a lot to fight for equality and the author doesn't shy away from the way they were treated or the horrific things they experienced-from beatings to starving in prison and being force-fed. 

Vicky is an incredibly strong and thoughtful character and I loved her story. While the book dragged at times (which I think was especially noticeable while listening to it on audio) overall I really enjoyed it. Historical fiction readers, readers who enjoy strong female characters, and readers interested in women's rights are sure to enjoy this-and check it out on audio!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook I checked out from my library



Monday, June 15, 2015

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle

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About the Book: Nate is off to New York City to start auditions for E. T.: The Broadway Musical! The show is full of child actors, a director who no one thinks can actually pull this off, and understudies who are even crazier in person! Will the show make it to previews? Will Nate make his Broadway debut?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I adored Better Nate Than Ever  so very much. so I was thrilled to have Nate back and enjoy more of his naive optimism when it comes to show tunes, Broadway, and people and life in general.

As usual, Nate sees the good in everything around him and that makes him a very charming character. While the rest of the cast isn't sure this show is going to take off and just doing it for a job, Nate is there because he's living his dream and his belief that the show is magical makes it magical. He also could make Jordan, the lead child actor who is playing the role of Elliot into his nemesis, and while there is some early rivalry, Nate doesn't let that stop him from befriending Jordan-or the other kid actors. He even manages to make his way into the heart of one of the other E.T. understudies. Everyone who Nate comes in contact with really ends up falling for his charms-as do the readers, which makes this book so wonderful. Nate's optimism is infectious.

In addition to all the Broadway talk, show tunes references, and theater geek goodies galore, Tim Federle explores two tougher topics in a deftly and perfect way-the absence of Nate's parents and the topic of Nate's sexuality. While the topic of Nate's parents is hard to discuss in an otherwise happy-go-lucky feel of a book, but instead of getting too deep and bogged down, it's handled seamlessly in the story. Nate struggles with the absence of his parents, why they don't check in, why they don't seem happier for him, and why they don't share his passions and his dreams. But he finds comfort in his Aunt Heidi, who steps in as caretaker while he is in New York, and while I think it will take longer for Nate's dad to come around, I think there is hope for his mom to come visit him and see her son on stage someday.

Nate has a secret admirer in the book and he suspects it's one of the girls in the cast-and Nate isn't sure how he feels about that. And he's in for a surprise when he discovers who it is! The sweet, tender romance, of a gay boy isn't often explored in middle grade novels and again, the author does a great job fitting this into the story. Nate's romance is adorable and you just want to cheer him on throughout the entire book.

I listened the first book on audio and knew I had to listen to this one too. Tim Federle needs to narrate more audiobooks because he is awesome! Not only is his writing hilarious, but his narration is spot on. He nails the innocence of Nate, the overprotective stage parent, the tired (and a bit washed up) actors, the clueless director, the tough choreographer who rules the stage-they are all wonderfully created on audio via Federle's narration. I was so excited to see this auidobook win an Odyssey Honor!

While the book does have a bit of a 42nd Street ending, I thought it fit Nate's story well and loved seeing the world of Broadway through his eyes. I can't wait to read more from Tim Federle-my inner theater kid needs more!

Book Pairings: Jack & Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Weatherhead
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook sent by publisher

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

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About the Book: Felicity Pickle is tired of moving around is hoping that Midnight Gulch will finally be the place where her momma's wandering heart will settle down. Felicity is a word collector and she sees words floating all around the people and places of Midnight Gulch. It used to be a magical place, but the magic is long gone. But Felicity and her newfound friend Jonah just might be able to stir some of that magic back into Midnight Gulch-and into everyone who lives there.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:  Sometimes a narrator and a book were just made for each other and I think that's the case of Cassandra Morris and A Snicker of Magic. I mean, there's a reason that this book is an Odyssey Honor Book! Just listen to the preview from Audible!

Natalie Lloyd's debut novel oozes charm in such a good way that you want to curl up with Snicker, a bowl of delicious ice cream and read (or listen) all night long. This book has magic in it and it's the kind of magic that makes your heart sing and you just have to smile after you put the book down.

Felicity is the type of person who I want to be friends with. She smart and has some spunk, but she's also a bit shy, as being moved around has made her grow more into herself. She's nervous to get close to those around her because she knows her family may just up and leave again so it's hard to make friends. But she can't resist Jonah-and really, who could? If I want Felicity to be my friend, then I want Jonah there with us leading the way. Jonah is wonderful and funny and is the perfect pull to Felicity's shyness and they compliment each other beautifully. It's a fantastic friendship and I loved every moment of it.

The rest of the cast of characters are eccentric and delightful and the town of Midnight Gulch is a character all its own. I wish Midnight Gulch was a real place because I would love to visit-especially for that ice cream! (Did I mention there was ice cream that sounds so good it will make you so mad that it's fictional in this book?) Felicity and Midnight Gulch are a wonderful next step for readers who are looking for something after Anne of Green Gables or The Penderwicks. I think if they could, Anne and Felicity would be great literary kindred spirits. Reading A Snicker of Magic brought me back to those books I grew up on with the characters I wanted to be and I can see a young reader out there hoping she can grow up and become just like Felicity.

Cassandra Morris has a sweet voice with the perfect southern accent to really bring Midnight Gulch to life and her slow deliberate narration and drawl add to the atmosphere of the book. I loved this one on audio! If you have families looking for a great listen on a car ride, I would give this one a try.

If you read it or listen to it, A Snicker of Magic is an adorable and a splindiddly turn of words and phrases. Felicity is a word collector and Natalie Lloyd is a master of words herself. I can't wait to get lost in her book.

Book Pairings: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook sent by publisher for review

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Happy Audiobook Month!

Did you know June is Audiobook Month?
I don't remember exactly when I first started listening to audiobooks. Most likely from the time I was very, very young. I remember checking out book and cassette tape sets from my local library. You know, the ones that had a beep to tell you when to turn the page. Then as I got older, I checked out chapter books. I would listen to them at night before I would go to bed and then I'd have to remember where I left off and rewind the book in the morning! My most favorite audiobook to listen to as a kid was From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler-I listened to it so much I had parts of the book memorized. I'm sure most of the check outs on that audiobook from the library were from me!

I didn't listen to audiobooks after elementary school much and didn't give them much thought for a long time. Then when it turned out we were moving and it would be a 9 hour car ride, my mother-in-law suggested that we listen to audiobooks to help pass the time. Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan and I listened to Harry Potter and I fell in love with audiobooks all over again. 

Now I recommend audiobooks to every patron who comes into my library, I have a list of favorite narrators, I eagerly await the announcements of the Audies Awards and the Odyssey Awards each year, and I even review for AudioFile Magazine!

So to celebrate audiobook month, I plan on sharing lots of audiobook reviews this month. First up are a few that I reviewed for AudioFile Magazine and gave Earphones Awards to (the equivalent of a starred review) You can click on each title to read the full review.

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid-A thoughtful debut for teens wanting a road trip novel for summer

Loot by Jude Watson-A middle grade mystery perfect for listeners wanting an exciting read

Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly-A chilling tale that weaves fairy tales, Frankenstein, and magic together for older middle grade and YA listeners.


And a few others I reviewed that are well worth the listen!





Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Happy Release Day Circus Mirandus Giveaway!


I am so excited to share with you today about a beautiful debut novel, Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley. Myself and many other bloggers are celebrating this middle grade debut. There's even a letter from Cassie about how exciting it is to see her book enter to world today. Circus Mirandus has received three starred reviews and is an absolute gem of a book. Thanks so much to Word Spelunking for organizing this! More details about the book are below, as well as a Rafflecopter giveaway for a bunch of swag items, courtesy of Penguin Young Readers! Enter for a chance to win at the bottom of this post.

About the Book: Micah Tuttle believes in magic, even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve. Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real—and the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for. Readers will fall in love with Circus Miranduswhich celebrates the power of seeing magic in the world.

From Cassie:

Dear Readers,

Ages ago I hung a poster in my room with the words “The Circus Opens Summer 2015” in bold letters across the top. At the time, it seemed that Summer 2015 would never come. Now, miraculously, June 2 is here, and Circus Mirandus is springing up in bookshops all over the country.

In the story, those called to Circus Mirandus feel a change in the wind. They hear music on the air, pipes and drums leading them toward magic and hope and heart’s desires. Eventually they find themselves before the gates, standing, as I am now, on the threshold of somewhere both wonderful and unknowable.

As people read the pages into which I’ve poured so much time and self, I wonder what they’ll think of the world I’ve created. I wonder if they will love it as much as I do. It’s an exciting moment, stepping through these gates into a place I’ve imagined but never seen.

Thank you so much for making this journey with me. Thank you for supporting the book. Thank you, most of all, for believing.


Cassie Beasley


About Cassie Beasley:
CASSIE BEASLEY is from rural Georgia, where, when she's not writing, she helps out on the family pecan farm. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. CIRCUS MIRANDUS is her first novel.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8016035.Cassie_Beasley

Want to win a copy of Circus Mirandus?

Thanks to PenguinYoung Readers, 5 winners will receive:
  • Signed hardcover of CIRCUS MIRANDUS
  • Audio sampler
  • Animal crackers
  • Bookmarks (pack of 10)
  • Poster
 Giveaway will run from June 2nd until June 16th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 1, 2015

What It's Like to be a Public Librarian in the Summer

Happy Summer everyone! We are two weeks into our Summer Reading Program at my library (our program runs for 12 weeks!) and our programming starts today. I was inspired by my awesome friend Angie who tweeted this last week:


Summer is the MOST stressful time for a public librarian. BUT the secret they don't tell you is...it's also the most FUN.


(Miss P and me on the first day of Summer Reading!)

When people think of Summer, they still think of lazy days, lots of reading, vacations, and relaxing. When you become a public librarian your Summers become full of reading, programming, busy days, possibly working even more than you are scheduled to, and making it your mission (even more than usual) to get kids to read. This is can be tons of fun but it can also be stressful, exhausting, and incredibly rough.

I try to explain what it's like to my friends and family and even our regular patrons who wonder just why we're so busy. But it's hard to tell people what it's like unless they experience it from the front lines. To try and give you an idea, I looked up some stats to help tell the story. 

  • In January 2014 my library branch saw an average of 1,240 patrons walk through our doors each day.
  • In June 2014 that number increased to an average of 1,552 patrons each day.
  • Last year, my branch alone had 4,763 kids and teens participate in the Summer Reading Program (and remember, that's also kids and teens who are coming into our branch to check out books, pick up prizes, and attend programs-plus all the kids and parents who come & don't turn anything in for Summer Reading!)
  • This Summer my staff is taking on 13 weekly programs in addition to lots of special and extra programming that is going on. This includes 7 weekly storytimes, 2 STEAM programs, 1 Tween program, 1 Fandom Jr program for preschoolers, and 2 outside performers (jugglers, musicians, etc that we bring in for special programs)
So we are exhausted by the end of an entire summer of this! It's so tiring and we end up answering a lot of the same questions which can sometimes make you feel like a librarian robot:

"how do you participate in the Summer Reading Program?" 
"where is (enter popular series title)"
 "when is storytime?"
 "can you recommend any good books?"
 "my child is learning to read, where are books for them?"
"why are there no (enter popular series title) on the shelf?"

There is hardly time to breathe because the lines are long, the questions are endless, you are constantly putting things on hold because nothing is ever on the shelf. We try but the shelves get wiped of anything anyone wants in the first week and there are hold lists all Summer long! If someone does find a popular book, I tell them it's their lucky day! Plus you have non-stop programming and you better have gotten it all planned before Summer Reading started because there is absolutely no time to get off desk to plan anything (remember that long line of patrons with questions/needing to turn in prizes/put books on hold?) And if you're the manager, good luck trying to make any meetings during the Summer and you'll most likely end up working on the schedule from home because it's the only time you have to work on anything!

Yet, as crazy as it is, as Angie mentioned, it's also our favorite time of year. It can also be incredibly rewarding. We get to share lots of success stories from families about their kids reading and learning about the fun and joys of reading. We get to see kids learn to read and read their first books on their own. We get to share in a families joy over discovering a great new family audiobook on their recent road trip. We get to show kids, teens and parents that they Library has amazing things to offer and has something for everyone. And we get to experience amazing stories like these (all of which I experienced in the last two weeks):

Just a couple of weeks ago I had a young boy come in looking for some books but the ones he wanted were checked out. He said he had to do Summer Reading because his mom was forcing him to. I told him that no one should be forced to read and asked him some questions about what he was interested in. After listening to his likes and dislikes, I found him a couple books I thought he might enjoy, pulled them off the shelf, gave him a short book talk (aka commercial for the book), and told him that if they didn't look good, it was OK-it didn't hurt my feelings and we'd try again. He took both books, read the first chapter of each, then excitedly came back to the desk to tell me he loved both of them and couldn't wait to read them!

We have a family that moved to France temporarily and this is their first Summer away. They decided they loved the Summer Reading Program so much they printed off their gameboards in France and are looking forward to turning them in when they visit home this Summer to get their free books!

I'm at a branch where we see a drop in program attendance once kids reach school age. They come to the Library but it's often to study or get homework materials and we don't see them as much during the school year. But once Summer comes they all come back and I get to see some of my favorite kids again. It's like a giant homecoming and I love it!

Summer is also the time we do the most Reader's Advisory (the suggesting of books) and it's a blast. It's the thing my staff tells me over and over that they love about Summer because we get to share books we're excited about, hear what our kids are excited about, and in general have a feel good time about reading.

So my fellow youth services librarians-let's cheer each other on. We know it's hard, we know it's exhausting, but we also know it's rewarding and fun. We're helping people find the joy of the library, we're helping them find the joy of reading, and we're helping them find the joy of having a place of their own. Rebecca at Hafuboti has a great idea for #libraryyes Let's send some positive thoughts and love to each other this Summer. Let's remember to stay happy and positive and remember why we love our jobs. And let's remember to breathe, not stress, not worry, and enjoy the moment-let's have fun!

So next time you visit your Public Library or see your librarian, give them a hug, a smile, and maybe even some chocolate. And give them a high five and tell them you know how exhausting it is but remind them it's for a good cause. And they are fighting the good fight of Summer Reading.


For more about what Summer Reading is like, check out Angie's Letter to a Young Librarian about Summer Reading Programs.
 
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