Monday, April 30, 2012

A Harry Potter Resurgence!!

I had a favorite librarian moment last week. A young patron, about age 9, came into the library a few weeks ago looking for the Harry Potter series. He had just started reading them and was looking for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite in the series). Of course, this started us talking about the Harry Potter series, what characters we liked, what our favorite scenes were, and how much we enjoyed the series. He came in again last week looking for book four since he had just devoured book three. His mom said he had just started reading the books and was obsessed with the series. Then, after each book was read, the entire family was watching the movies. I told them about Pottermore and how they should check it out-I wish I would have had Pottermore the first time I read the series! It was one of those wonderful moments as a librarian where you get to share with a reader about your favorite books-it's what makes my job worth getting up for every day.

After my discussion with my new favorite patron, I realized that I haven't seen a single Harry Potter book on the shelf at my library in weeks-or make that months! I'd noticed a lot of younger patrons coming into the library and asking for the Harry Potter books and it got me thinking about how Harry Potter is now having a resurgence. 

It's been five years since the last book came out, the movies are over, so why the sudden interest in Harry Potter? I'm sure the public opening of Pottermore and the fact that the books are now available as ebooks, didn't hurt Harry's popularity at all, but I'd been noticing patrons coming in asking for the books long before Pottermore went live. In fact, I looked up our circulation stats on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, just to see if I was correct about the series being popular again. Our library system owns 12 copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the books have been checked out 54 times from January 1st. With books having a checkout of three weeks, and that averaging out to about a checkout per book, per month, no wonder I haven't seen any copies of the books around this year. A checkout per month might not seem like a lot, but that's all 12 copies being checked out every week this year so far. And the audiobooks 7 audiobooks we own have circulated 26 times so far this year. These are books that are getting read A LOT!

Whenever there was a new Harry Potter book or movie coming out, you couldn't find a copy on the shelf. But after the craze about the movie or the re-reads before the next book was released was over, the books came back and sat on the shelf. But that's changing. There are no more movies and no more books in the series to help generate the interest. This is a book that's been out for thirteen years.

I think we're seeing readers who were too young to enjoy Harry Potter the first time around and kids of readers who read it when it first came out starting to read the series. I love being part of this next generation of Harry Potter readers. I love getting to talk to kids who are discovering and reading the series for the first time.

So I'm wondering. Has anyone else noticed a resurgence in Harry Potter? Do you have young readers discovering the series for the first time? Are your copies of Harry Potter being checked out more than usual this year?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tween Tuesday: The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen. Add your links below and discover new reads for tweens!
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Animal Fantasy

Release Date: 9/7/2010

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About the Book: Aldywn is a typical ally cat-trying to find food and running away from the local animal bounty hunter. When Aldywn is running for his life, he ducks into a pet store to escape. But this isn't just any pet store-it's a pet store for familiars, animal companions to wizards. Aldywn doesn't know anything about the wizarding world or magic, so it's just his luck that a young wizard chooses him to be his familiar!

Aldwyn tries to fake his way in his new home and pretends to be a magical cat. When the familiars young wizards are kidnapped, Aldwyn and his new familiar friends must help them before it's too late-and Aldwyn has to decide if he should reveal the truth or not.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I remember when this book first came out and it looked fun, but I'm not the biggest fan of animal fantasy, so I passed on it. I picked up it again for two reasons-1) it's nominated for our state book award and 2) a co-worker's third-grade son said it was the best book he ever read. So with those things pushing me to read The Familiars, I decided to give it a try.

The Familiars is very much The Warriors Series meets Harry Potter. (I was all excited to think of that "meets" line and than realized that Michael Buckley says the same thing on the back of the book-so much for being creative!:) It really is the best way to sell this book to tweens though and I think young fans of both series will enjoy The Familiars.

The Familiars has everything tweens will love-lots of adventure and excitement, humor, good guys versus bad guys, magic, danger, secrets and friendship. It's a non-stop adventure-filled ride and even though the book is long, it's easy to get caught up in the story and it ends up being a very fast paced read. Add in the fact that it's the start to a series, and I think this one will end up being very popular with tweens.

For adults, it's a bit predictable, but it's great for younger readers looking for excitement and adventure and a fun magical series. Since we put this out on our award shelf, it hasn't stayed long! Lots of fun for readers who enjoy magic and animals.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Judge a Book By It's Cover

I love looking at cover changes from hardcover to paperback. Some are good, some can be bad, and they're always interesting!

I'm highlighting cover changes that have happened mid-series this time around. I hate whey they change covers mid-series both as a librarian and a reader. It can be very frustrating as a librarian because now our first book in the series doesn't match what the teens are seeing online or in stores, so they don't think we have the book. And the cover that pulls up in the catalog now is different from what we actually have on our shelves. When a patron comes into the library asking for one cover and you show them a different one, it can be very frustrating-especially when working with kids and teens who only want the book they saw.

As a I reader, I just don't like when my books don't match.

So let's take a look at some series changes:

This is the hardcover for Black Hole Sun. I actually kind of like this cover-it's simple, but I think I can tell this is a science fiction book.

And here's the paperback. I like and I don't like it at the same time. I like that this one looks more action packed than the hardcover and I like that it really looks like a science fiction book-I know from the cover what to expect from the book. I do think the guy is brooding a little too much, although I guess I can see him as Durango-he can be somewhat moody.

This cover is OK, but it really doesn't say anything about secret societies or justice. It looks a bit like a generic mystery novel instead. So I can understand why the covers changed before book two was released.

But as much as I like this cover in general, I don't like it for this series. This looks like a 1940s noir murder mystery, which the book is not. I think it's even more misleading than the original cover.

I really like this cover. It's simple, yet I think it tells a lot about the book. It has a science fiction feel and I think it shows the struggle of the main character is a nice, simplistic way. She looks troubled and tortured, which fits the book exactly.

Here's the new cover. I think it's nice and it's more colorful which I like, but I think it really blends into everything else that's on the shelves right now. I also think it looks a bit paranormal meets science fiction.

I really like this cover-shiny, mysterious and colorful. I can tell it's a paranormal-something about the girl's eyes make her look like she has a secret and I'm interested in finding out what it is.

Secret is blow-she's a werewolf! This one doesn't have as much mystery or color to it and I'm just not a fan. I think the girl/wolf thing on the cover is just a bit creepy.

I liked this cover because it was different and it really stood out. But at the same time I can see where it lacks appeal for teens.

I'm OK with this cover change. I think it retains the mystery of the original cover, yet adds some teen appeal into the mix.

So what do you think? Do you like cover changes mid-series? Do you think the changes got the series right? Or should they have stayed with the originals?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

YA Movie News

-The search for a Catching Fire director didn't last long! Director Francis Lawrence, who directed I Am Legend and Water for Elephants, will be directing Catching Fire. I really like this choice-what does everyone else think??

-And speaking of The Hunger Games, the IMAX run for the movie has been extended to May 3. Did anyone see it in IMAX? What did you think?

-For all you Ender's Game fans, the producers have set a up a tumblr to follow the movie's production.

-According to Publisher's Weekly, Palomar Pictures has optioned the rights to Julie Kagawa's new series, Blood of Eden. Julie Kagawa also has a blog post up about the exciting news. Congrats Julie!

-Laika films, who made Coraline, optioned Philip Reeve's new novel, Goblins, which is out in the UK this year. They've also hired the director of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mark Gustafson, to direct. I love the idea about one of Philip Reeve's books being in stop motion animation-I think it really fits his writing style well. I'm also really hoping we get to read it over here in the US before the film is released! Thanks to Publisher's Weekly for the news!

-Stephenie Meyer's production company Fickle Fish Films has optioned Lois Duncan's 1974 novel Down a Dark Hall. It's been awhile since Lois Duncan books have been adapted for film, but this one is set in a boarding school, which I think is forever popular. The company also has a adaptation of Shannon Hale's novel, Austenland, starring Keri Russel in production. Thanks to Publisher's Weekly for the news.

-The Wimpy Kid movies keep coming! The trailer for Dog Days is out-thanks to Early Word for sharing it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's So Hard to Not Talk About Books!!-or my committee year so far

Credit: Anna Destefano, Facebook

As many of you know, I am serving on the 2013 Printz Committee, which means no YA reviews from me this year. I can't talk about YA books unless it's with my committee members, which I'm sure you can guess is really hard! But I thought I would share a little bit about my committee experience so far-and hopefully share advice for those you wanting to be part of a committee in the future.

-People in the YA book world know about the Printz Award. People in the non-bookish world or adult bookish world know about Caldecott and Newbery, but not the Printz. This is somewhat understandable-the award is a fairly new award. The first Printz Award was given in 2000, so it only has twelve years under its belt. What that means though is that we need to do our work to promote this award! Not just the committee members, but librarians, readers, teachers and bloggers. We need to spread the word. Read the books, recommend them to others, blog about them, use them in the classroom, make a display at the library. Share the love!! There are some amazing books that have won Printz medals and they need to be shared!

-I've also noticed that people in the book and library world don't know about the Printz Award-or if they do, it's not given the respect of the Caldecott and Newbery Awards. Again, I think this is partly due to the age of the awards. One of my goals while I'm on the committee is to teach my library staff about the award and bring awareness to all the ALA awards. People may know of the awards that are given, but so many seem to get lost in the shuffle and aren't recognized outside of the kidlit and YA world. The more we can do to highlight these awards will help in getting them the respect they deserve. They are prestigious awards that need to be noticed! I would love any ideas others might have on how we can bring these awards into the forefront of the book world.

-You don't have to be an ALA member to nominate a title. (OK, yes I knew that before this year, but it's still worth repeating!!) If you read a book this year that you think the committee needs to take a look at, nominate it! The Printz nomination form is on the YALSA site and doesn't take long to fill out. Don't worry about making it sound all professional and critical. Just write why you think the book should be considered in your own words. Nominations are open for several of the YALSA awards-you can find the entire list of nomination forms on the YALSA site. So nominate away!

-There is a lot of reading. It's a lot of work. Yes, I know that sounds like a no-brainer. I mean, you're serving on a committee that is charged with reading a lot of books. But as much as you hear it from everyone, I don't think it really hits you until it starts happening to you. Until you start checking the mailbox and see towers of books. My advice? Be prepared. Clear out a space for your books. Use a sorting system or a labeling system. This helps A LOT when you're trying to organize your books. And really, who better to organize their books than librarians? You know we've all got organization systems happening for everything we read.

-Make sure you take a break. It's easy to start to feel overwhelmed and stressed, so make sure you take time to do other things besides read. And don't neglect your husband or your dogs-they won't like that very much.

-Have fun and enjoy every moment. This is your year to make one of your professional dreams happen and make sure you take time to savor the good moments!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tween Tuesday: Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen. Post about tween reads, share the link and discover some new reads!
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 10/12/2010

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About the Book: A group of students are having mixed feelings about starting fifth grade with a new teacher Mr. Terupt. Seven of the students share their stories-the bully, the shy student, the outcast, the smart kid, the one who hates school, the troublemaker, and the new girl. Never did they think they would care about their teacher-or each other. But when a tragedy strikes Mr. Terupt's classroom, the students join together and learn more about each other than Mr. Terupt could ever teach them.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I picked this book up because it's on our state book award list for grades 4-6 (The Mark Twain Award). Sometimes these books can be hit or miss, so I never go into reading the nominated titles with high expectations. Yet sometimes a book comes along that finds the perfect balance of sappy and sweet without being too much of one or the other. And when that happens, that book hits just the right notes and I know it deserves a spot on the list and the tweens that will be reading it that year will love-as will the adult readers.

Because of Mr. Terupt takes on a challenging premise-telling the story of a school year in seven different voices. Author Rob Buyea manages to make each story work and each voice is distinct. I never felt as though there was one character I didn't get to know as well as the others-each one is well developed and they all felt like real students to me.

The chapters are short which helps in making this book a fast paced read. I read it in one sitting and finished it quickly and I'm sure many tween readers will find themselves unable to put it down as well. It's not that it's action packed for full of adventure. I felt like I knew these kids, that I was part of their schoolyear and I wanted to find out what happened to them. I cared about each of their stories and I had to keep reading. I'm pleased to find a companion novel coming out later this year-I won't mind another trip back to the classroom with these kids!

Perfect for readers that enjoy quieter, character driven stories that have moments that will make you laugh and cry.

Book Pairings: Love Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur, Hound Dog True by Linda Urban

Full Disclosure: Checked out from my local library

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Storytime: Sarah's Favorite Books

I had to put together a storytime at the last minute when my staff called in sick, so I threw together what I called "Sarah's Favorite Books!" I used this plan twice-once with Toddlers and once with Preschool. I also included stations and crafts in this plan.

Honestly, I go back and forth on if I like stations and crafts-I like that they add an extension to the storytime, but I very often see them being used as playtime for the kids and the parents don't really understand that it's a time to play and talk about the books they've just heard. I think when we do stations, we need to explain their purpose. OK, enough soapboxing-here's the storytime plan:

Opening Song: Shake Your Sillies Out by The Wiggles

Literacy Skill: Love Books! I explained to parents that when they read books that they love and enjoy, that comes through in their reading and they are sharing that enjoyment with their kids. So make sure you read your favorite books with kids too!

Book: It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw-I used this one with both toddlers and preschool since we have it in a big book format-great for large storytime groups!

Song-Toddlers: These Are My Glasses by Laurie Berkner
Song-Preschool: Where Is Thumbkin by The Wiggles-preschool

(note: I've used These Are My Glasses with preschool before and they like it, but I really wanted an excuse to use Where Is Thumbkin since toddlers aren't coordinated enough yet for that song!)

Book-Toddlers:If You're a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca Emberly and Ed Emberly-Toddlers-This book is a great sing along and the toddlers love it!

Book-Preschool King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood-my all time favorite picture book! This is another one we had a big book format in and it's great so the kids can see the detailed illustrations.

Activity-Toddlers: The Freeze Song by Greg and Steve
Activity-Preschool: Listen and Move by Greg and Steve

(I love, love, love Greg and Steve and highly recommend them for storytime collections!)

Book: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean-This is another book I used with both sessions-I love how it can be used with all ages. The toddlers love the jazzy song and are beginning to recognize the colors and the preschoolers love the question and answer portions of the book. Plus the repetition in the text makes it easy to catch on and sing along.


Bubbles-from King Bidgood and just for fun with the toddlers

Music Station with instruments-from Pete


Monster Puppets-from If You're A Monster-I used circles of construction paper and glued them to popsicle sticks. The kids then glued on various scrap pieces of papers and used dot stickers and crayons to decorate their puppets.

Mask Making-from King Bidgood-Using the cuttout we have for masks, I made masks and gave the preschoolers dot stickers, scrap paper and crayons to decorate masks. We then  glued a posicle stick to one end so we could hold it up at the masquerade ball.

Spilt Milk Paper-I took various scrapes of white paper and had the kids tear (toddlers) or cut (preschool) the paper up into their own spilt milk/cloud shapes.

Gathering Back Together Song:

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

Closing Book:
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle-I've used this book as my closing book for about a year now and it's so fun to watch the kids learn how to move like the animals (espcially for toddlers!)

Closing Song: Skin-a-marink

If you need lyrics or more info on the crafts, let me know-I'm happy to share!

Friday, April 13, 2012

YA Movie News

-Beautiful Creatures had to make a last minute casting change before filming. Goodbye to the old Ethan (Jack O'Connell) and say hello to new Ethan-Alden Ehrenreich. What do you think? Jack O'Connell had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts, but I have to say I think Alden Ehrenreich looks more like I pictured Ethan.

-If you're interested in being an extra in the Beautiful Creatures film, there's an open casting call in New Orleans!

-I'm sure everyone has seen the news about Gary Ross not returning for Catching Fire. Like other fans, I am very saddened that he won't return-I thought he took care with the script and made a wonderful adaptation and stayed loyal to the books. I'm also not impressed with the shortlist that MTV posted-not sure if this is real or speculation. I would really hate it if Alfonso Cuaron directed-he directed what I think is the worst of the Harry Potter movies with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

-Writers have been named for the movie adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars-Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber will be adapting the book for the big screen. This duo wrote 500 Days of Summer, so I think it's a fantastic fit!

-Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, director of The Secret Life of Bees, is in talks to direct the film version of Before I Fall. According to Hollywood Reporter she will also do a rewrite of the script.

-There has been a lot of news about The Mortal Instruments movie and there has been speculation about the film actually being made. But an official release date has been set-the film will be hitting theaters August 23, 2013.

-Lilly Collins is becoming a book to movie queen-she's in talks to star in a film version of the upcoming YA novel When You Were Mine  by Rebecca Serle. The film is titled Rosaline and the story is a Romeo and Juliet retelling that shares Rosaline's side of the story.

-I was not excited about the Percy Jackson sequel, but I keep liking their new casting choices! The film has cast The Hunger Games' Levin Rambin to play Clarrise. (She played Glimmer in The Hunger Games) She's not exactly how I pictured Clarrise, but I think she'll have the attitude perfect! Filming starts next week.

-Early Word has a fantastic list of movies based on books coming in 2013.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

J.K. Rowling's New Book-Title & Release Date

I have been eagerly awaiting this news since I heard about J.K. Rowling's new book back in February. Today Little Brown has released more information to tease us readers with! The novel will be called The Casual Vacancy and will be published on September 27. The plot is being called "blacky comic" and according to Publishers Weekly:

 "The novel is set in a small English town called Pagford, which comes undone after one of its denizens, a man in his early 40s named Barry Fairweather, unexpectedly dies. The event shakes the town and reveals the rampant unrest bubbling under the surface in the deceptively perfect hamlet."

Here's the link to the full release from Publishers Weekly

So now that we have more details, will you be reading the book? Honestly, I would read it even if was my least favorite genres! I can't be the only one!:)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tween Tuesday: Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguiree and Rafael Rosado

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens! Join the fun, add your post below, and help us discover great reads for tweens!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic/Fantasy

Release Date: 4/10/2012

About the Book: Claudette dreams of being a giant slayer. But her village has no threats from giants since a giant slayer years ago. Claudette doesn't believe the stories though and she believes it's her duty to find and slay the giant that lives beyond her city. Along with her best friend Marie (an aspiring princess) and her brother Gaston (a pastry chef in the making), Claudette sets out on a fantastical journey to slay the giant and become a hero-so giants beware!!

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: If your library tweens are anything like mine, they are always asking for the graphic novel series Bone. Giants Beware is the perfect graphic novel to hand over to those readers who like humor mixed into their adventure fantasy. It reminded me of Bone crossed with The Princess Bride with a touch of the adventure from Amulet.

The full color illustrations make this graphic novel fun to read. There is a lot of detail in the artwork, which I always enjoy and I felt as though I really got to know the characters.  Claudette is strong and very spunky-she will get her way no matter what! She's a bit selfish and thinks of herself first, but she learns the importance of her friendship with Marie and Gaston along the way. And how could you not love Gaston and Marie? They both have dreams that might seem silly to anyone else, but they fully believe they can make them come true and you can't help but cheer them on. The three together make a delightful group that you would want to tag along with you on any adventure.

The supporting characters all felt fleshed out-from the townsfolk to Claudette and Gaston's father-each character was fully realized, even if they only appeared briefly. In many ways this graphic novel read like an animated film-the illustrations, the jokes, the characters-all could transition easily to the big screen which could make a nice selling point to readers.

Add this one to your graphic novel collection and I'm sure it will fly off your library shelf. While the story wraps up, there are some loose ends that leave a possibility of a sequel (or several) featuring Claudette, Marie and Gaston and I'm really hoping this isn't the last we've seen of them!

Book Pairings: How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell Bone by Jeff Smith, Amulet by Kazu Kabuishi

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy sent by publisher

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mirror Mirror Prize Pack Giveaway

If you read GreenBeanTeenQueen, you know I love celebrating the movies! So of course I was thrilled when I found out about this awesome Mirror Mirror Prize Pack for my readers!

One lucky winner will receive:
-$25 Fandango Gift Card
-Mirror Mirror: The Movie Novel

Two lucky runner ups will receive:
-Mirror Mirror: The Movie Novel

Prizeing courtesy of Relativity Media

About the film: One of the most beloved stories of all time is coming to life in the motion picture event for the whole family, Mirror Mirror.  A fresh and funny retelling of the Snow White legend, Mirror Mirror features breakout star Lily Collins (The Blind Side) as Snow White, a princess in exile, and Oscar®-winner Julia Roberts as the evil Queen who ruthlessly rules her captured kingdom. Seven courageous rebel dwarfs join forces with Snow White as she fights to reclaim her birthright and win her Prince in this magical comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal that will capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences the world over.  The film also stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the Prince, and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) as the hapless and bungling servant to the Queen.

Rated PG
Here are the giveaway rules:

-Open to US mailing addresses only
-Ages 13+
-Contest ends Friday April 13 at midnight CT
-One entry per person

Want to enter? Leave a comment below with your favorite fairy tale! Good luck! :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Blog Tour: Joanne Rocklin Guest Post

(photo credit: Gerry Nelson)

Welcome to the next stop on the tour for The Five Lives of our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin! I am thrilled to be hosting Ms. Rocklin today on the blog. As I love to do, I asked Ms. Rocklin to share her memories of the library and I found I related very much to her story! I was an indoor kid who loved spending my time at the library. I was shy and always found solace in books. That's what I love so much about sharing these stories-we find true kindred spirits! I'm sure many of you can relate! :)

My childhood library was a Catholic chapel in my Montreal neighborhood.
(photo: Benny Library, Montreal Quebec)

The fact that it was a converted chapel was unimportant to me, an imaginative Jewish girl. Books lined the walls, and a librarian in a sweater-set, rather than priestly robes, presided solemnly at the front desk. But to me, it was still a church, the very first one I’d ever been inside. It had high windows and soaring rafters, a clean, real-wood smell, and pious-looking people sitting very still. In other words, the works.

The library wasn’t very far away from my home, but too far to walk to by myself. I was always “dropped off,” to be “picked up” again in a couple of hours. And I did, indeed, experience a feeling of joyous weightlessness. I remember tugging the heavy front door and kind of floating into that quiet chapel. And not to carry the metaphor too far—I was ecstatic to be there. A couple of hours of heaven in the Chapel of Books.

No other kid I knew enjoyed the library as much as I did. Everyone else was ice skating or riding bikes or playing at one thing or another, usually involving a ball. I was terrible at sports. I was shy. Nerdy, I suppose. And I was teased. I should have gotten my eyeglasses sooner than I did; perhaps that would have helped. I felt very alone much of the time.

 Except in that chapel. There, I was in a room with other fortunate people, all of us reading our hearts out, all of us discovering the secret of life. The secret of life is reading! How miraculous, to visit other worlds, to meet terrific people like plucky Anne of Green Gables, adventurous Heidi, and strong Jo, of Little Women! To absorb the words of all those kind scientists whose books explained the world to me, a girl too timid to ask questions in class.

(photo: Joanne Rocklin as a tween, aprox. 11 years old)
Eventually, I discovered other kids with plans to read every author from A to Z, kids who kept journals, who wrote stories, whose books taught them confidence. When I visit schools, I like to tell students I was shy and nerdy, and how much happiness that little library provided. I watch their faces; I know they are listening. With books, you are never alone, I say. You will always find someone just like you, or someone to help you aspire to your best self.

I often contemplate the miracle of our alphabet, which creates words, which in turn create images and ideas and feelings to connect us. When words show up on my own blank pages, I take nothing for granted.

My early experience in that tiny chapel affected me deeply all of my life, and I still enter a library with reverence, and gratitude.

Thanks so much for sharing!! Be sure to check out The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook-you don't want to miss out on this charming book!

Tween Tuesday: The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin

Tween Tuesday is a meme hosted at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens! Join the fun and add your link below! (And yes, Tween Tuesday posts have been scarce-I'm deep in YA reading now, but I promise I'll post more tween posts in the coming weeks!)

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 4/1/2012

About the Book: Oona is worried about her cat Zook-he's not doing so well and Oona wants to figure out a way to break him out of the vet's office and bring him home. As Oona tries to take care of everything, she tells Fred that cats have nine lives, so they don't need to worry about Zook. Oona decides to make up the stories of Zook's previous lives. Oona always worries about her brother, Fred, who hasn't had the best appetite since their father died two years ago. And on top of that, Oona's mom has started to date The Villain...well, really Dylan-but Oona's sure he's a villain! Oona's determined to find out the truth about Zook's illness, and discover the truth about why her mom shouldn't be interested in The Villain and along the way she may just discover some truths about herself.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Alright fellow readers. Do you ever find yourself in the mood for a charming middle grade novel? One that hits all the right notes when it comes to family and growing up? And that maybe evens has the feel of some of the classics you read as a tween yourself? Add The Five Lives of our Cat Zook into your secret pile when you're looking for that special book.

Oona was a narrator that I liked and she made me laugh a lot. Her observations are smart and funny which made me like her. I also liked how much she took care of brother and taught him to read. She has many different theories about things-a name theory, a whopper theory-and each time Oona revealed a new theory, I liked her even more. She felt like a mix of Claudia (From the Mixed Up Files...) and Anne (Anne of Green Gables). She has some crazy ideas, but that's part of what I liked about her. She was loyal to her friends and family, even if meant coming up with a crazy idea of how to help them. Sure her plans didn't always work, but she had to try!

This is a very sweet book about a cat, siblings, and parents. Oona isn't quite ready for her mom to move on and Oona herself won't stop wearing her Dad's Raiders sweatshirt. While the book is about Zook and Oona's stories about Zook, it's also about grief and learning to live after a loss. Oona's story isn't obvious-we're not hit over the head with lessons that she's learned. Instead, she comes to an understanding slowly and we go through the process with her, which adds to the books charm.

I would recommend this one to readers who like family stories and animal stories and anyone looking for a good old fashioned book. You'll be glad you got to know Oona and Zook!

Book Pairings: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsell

Monday, April 2, 2012

Narnia Themed Playroom

I want this playroom! I used to figure out how to get to Narnia from my house (sadly, I didn't have a magic wardrobe). But this is the next best thing! Thanks to BoingBoing for sharing!!

Imagination Designs