Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Books

2013 was a crazy year for me in my book life!

 In January I finished up my term on the 2013 Printz Committee. It was an amazing experience and I loved every minute of it. It was a ton of work, exhausting, and so much fun!


I loved celebrating with our authors at annual and it was so amazing to listen to their speeches and know that I was part of the committee that honored their books!


After Printz, I was an Audies judge which was a great way to take a break from committee work and listen to audiobooks. 

I fell into the after committee reading slump but at the same time I started reviewing for Booklist and AudioFile, which kept me reading. And at the end of the year (unless I finish some books on New Year's Eve, which is highly possible!) even with a reading slump, I read 125 (chapter and audio) books and 155 picture books this year, so I guess it wasn't much of a reading slump after all!

Even though there were a lot of books I missed that I wanted to read because most of my reading this year consisted of committee or review reading, I still read some great titles that I fell in love with. Here are some of my favorite reads from 2013, in no particular order:

That Is Not A Good Idea! by Mo Willems-I called this one my favorite of the year in January and it's stuck with me! I love the illustration style and how Willems mimics old talking pictures. There's also a fantastic twist and it's a blast to read once you know the end and discover the small nuances that tell the truth. It's a ton of fun to read to older audiences who get a kick out of the story.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown-This one is becoming another favorite of the year. The story of a tiger who wants to be a bit different is fantastic. I love how the illustrations feel like a nod to a old style of picture books while also adding a modern graphic design element.  

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen-A fantastic story about a child's fear of the dark and the illustrations are great at showing shadows and light. The tone of the book is perfect-just enough scare to match and understand a child's fear, but a nice understanding and comfort to it as well to help a child come to terms with their fear of the dark. 

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon-Such a fun, charming book that's a great intro to graphic novels for young readers.

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt-I loved the premise of a girl going vintage because life was simpler-and I adored the love interest in this book.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle-Mr. Federle won me over with his audiobook narration of Nate and Nate charmed his way into my broadway loving heart. I can't wait to find out what happens in Nate's sequel! A fantastic debut of 2013. 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell-While it took me awhile to catch up to everyone else and finally read this one, once I did, I loved it. One of my favorites of the year. 

Reality Boy by A.S. King-I've said for awhile that I think A.S. King gets better with each book and she proved me right with Reality Boy. Boy does she know how to tug at my heartstrings!

Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown-The Wimpy Kid-esque field is becoming a crowded one, but Jeff Brown managed to make it his own with this Star Wars graphic novel that had me laughing out loud. 

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley-I discovered this one via audiobook and I was introduced to a new author and series that I've really enjoy! Check it out if you enjoy romance!

The start of the new year comes with more reading-both for Audies and Cybils and still more reviewing. I'm hoping to catch up on some of the books still sitting in my TBR pile from this year and I'm looking forward to all the great releases coming in 2014. 

Do you have any favorite reads of 2013?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Trends in Picture Books: Robots (PLUS GIVEAWAY!)

Robots have always been a popular topic in children's literature, but it seems like the last two years, robots have taken over picture books! I first noticed it with one of my favorite books of 2012, Robot Zombie Frankenstein!


And the robot books just kept coming:



And some of this year's offering:






This is a trend I can fully get behind! I love robots and robot stories!



So of course, when I had the chance to read, Sometimes I Forget You're A Robot by Sam Brown, I knew I had to read it!

The cartoon illustrations are simple and reminiscent of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. A young boy dreams of having a robot, but when he gets his dream robot, it turns out his robot can't do anything he always thought robots should be able to do! This robot can't fly, swim or talk-he just beeps! But there's more to the robot than meets the eye and it just might be that his greatest strength is not being a robot, but being a friend.

It's a sweet tale of friendship between a boy and his robot. The pictures are bright and feel like a comic book. The story is one that leaves it open to have a discussion about expectations of friendship with young readers, but in a simplistic way that it doesn't come off as being message heavy. It's a lot of fun to see a robot that you sometimes forget is a robot and readjust your expectations. A great book to share on friendship.

Would you like to win a copy?

Fill out the form below for your chance to win a copy of Sometimes I Forget You're A Robot thanks to Penguin Books!

-One entry per person
-Ages 13+
-Contest ends January 2
-US Mailing Address Only










Friday, December 20, 2013

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway


I love Elizabeth Scott, so I am of course so excited about her newest release, Heartbeat. Just check out the amazing cover:


Front Cover

Back Cover

About the Book: 
Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.
But Emma can’t tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.
Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn’t have interested Old Emma. But New Emma—the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia—New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge. Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death—and maybe, for love?

Praise for Heartbeat

“An intense examination of a family coping with grief, this absorbing character study easily keeps pages turning.”

— Kirkus on Heartbeat
Credit: Matt Mendelsohn 
ELIZABETH SCOTT grew up in a town so small it didn’t even have a post office, though it did boast an impressive cattle population. She’s sold hardware and panty hose and had a memorable three-day stint in the dot-com industry, where she learned that she really didn’t want a career burning CDs. She lives just outside Washington, D.C., with her husband, and firmly believes you can never own too many books.
Want to read Heartbeat? As part of the Heartbeat blog tour, readers will have a chance to win 1 of 5 ARCs of Heartbeat-fill out the rafflecopter below to enter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

So You Want to Read Middle Grade: 2014 titles to look forward to


With the holidays almost here, this will be the last So You Want to Read Middle Grade post of 2013. Don't worry-the series will be back in 2014!!

As the year wraps up, I thought it would be fun to look ahead at the coming year of middle grade. Here are just a few of the middle grade books I'm looking forward to in 2014.



Ok, full disclosure, Natalie is a friend of mine I can't wait to read her debut! 



Holly is a local author who is making her middle grade debut and I'm so excited she's writing for a younger audience this time around!



This book has a comparison to From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler-I'm sold!



And this one is being compared to The Boxcar Children. It's a perfect year for nine-year-old Sarah!



A first daughter finds the diary of Alice Roosevelt-could only be fun!





I can't wait to see what happens to Nate-my favorite aspiring Broadway star!


Father son detectives and a book that causes readers to commit crimes-sounds like a blast!



An intergalactic tale told from the point of view of an alien just seems like a wonderfully hilarious premise.



A 1930s mystery with a talking cat? Yes please!



An adventure to save his dad set in a video game-sounds awesome!

And there's no cover yet, but The Ninja Librarians by Jennifer Downey sounds like a lot of fun!


What books are you looking forward to reading in 2014?



Monday, December 16, 2013

Delilah Dirk and Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Historical/Adventure/Graphic Novel

Release Date: 8/27/2013

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: Delilah Dirk has traveled all over the world and had many adventures. With her newfound friend Selim, Delilah decides that this adventure will lead her to rob from a rich and corrupt Sultan. Selim isn't so sure about Delilah's adventures, but one thing is certain-there is never a dull moment!

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Delilah Dirk is a bit Robin Hood, a bit Annie Oakley, and a lot of fun. She's an adventurer who never stops moving-and her adventures never seem to slow down. She feels she should help the poor and she has a flying ship. She is a very awesome strong female character who finds her way out of crazy situations and it's awesome to read it about-and lots of fun.

Selim is the straight man to Delilah's crazy and wild ways. He finds her to be a bit too much, but when he's not on an adventure with her, he finds himself a bit bored. You would think sparks would fly between the two and that they would have to meet cute and become romantically involved, but instead the author plays them off as more of a platonic odd couple. Neither Delilah nor Selim need romance which is refreshing. It's more about their friendship and crazy adventures than anything else.

The artwork is in full color and is nicely drawn, although some of the aspects of the people seem a bit exaggerated which can be a bit distracting. I also felt there were some plot points that were rushed and could have been explored more, but that may have been because while this is the first full length Delilah Dirk graphic novel, she's appeared in some short stories before.

Overall it's a lot of fun and a great addition to a graphic novel collection-especially for readers looking for strong independent females.

Book Pairings: Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen, Bad Girls by Jane Yolen

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by the publisher for review

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fat Boy Vs. The Cheerleaders Sneak Peek



Sourcebooks Fire has offered a special holiday sneak peek at one of their upcoming Spring releases. If you're looking for a great read that will make you laugh out loud, check out Geoff Herbach.

Check it out and be to sure to Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders to your reading list!


Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders

by Geoff Herbach

Sourcebooks Fire

MEMORANDUM

From: Henry P. Rodriguez, Attorney at Law

Submitted To: Seventh District Court, Otter County

Re: Case No. 1745321—Gardener et al v. MLA Independent School District

SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON JUNE 15, GABRIEL JOHNSON, A SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD FROM MINNEKOTA, MN, WAS APPREHENDED OUTSIDE CUB FOODS BY OFFICER REX McCOY. JOHNSON POSSESSED $17.75 IN SMALL BILLS AND CHANGE, WHICH HE CONFIRMED HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM THE VENDING MACHINE AT MINNEKOTA LAKE AREA HIGH SCHOOL.

POLICE SUGGESTED THE ALLEGED ROBBERY WAS RELATED TO A LARGER CONFLICT INVOLVING ASSAULT, VANDALISM, AND DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER THAT HAS COME TO BE KNOWN AS THE SPUNK RIVER WAR.

THE FOLLOWING TRANSCRIPT IS GABRIEL’S VERBATIM ACCOUNT, RECORDED IN A CONFERENCE ROOM AT THE MINNEKOTA POLICE DEPARTMENT BETWEEN 10 A.M. AND 5:40 P.M. ON JUNE 16.

WE SUBMIT THIS DOCUMENT AS CONTEXT FOR THE ABOVE NOTED CASE. THERE IS A SPECIFIC HUMAN COST WHEN THOSE IN POWER WIELD POWER ARROGANTLY. THIS CASE SUPPORTS A TEENAGER’S FIGHT FOR DIGNITY, OPPORTUNITY, AND FAIRNESS.

Chapter 1

Ripping off the pop machine last night wasn’t meant to be funny. It was my duty to all the geeks, burners and oddballs in school, because that machine sucks. Robbing it was serious business, okay?

Why are you laughing, Mr. Rodriguez?

I did it myself. I robbed the machine all by myself.

There were sheep in the school this morning? Real sheep?

How—? Oh, wait, I remember now. I must’ve let them in there by accident. Whoops. Like, left the door open after I robbed the machine and all those sheep wandered in by themselves.

No, it’s not funny, sir. Really.

I’m telling you, I’m the one who stole the money. It was eighteen dollars, but I lost a quarter when Officer McCoy roughed me up. Look at my chin! I have scrapes all over my stomach and knees, too.

That stupid pop machine. Stupid pop! It all started with that stupid…

Yeah I hate that machine! For so many reasons.

For instance, in May, me, Justin Cornell and Camille Gardener did this pop study for health class. The study was Camille’s idea, because she turned into a health nut when her dad started organic farming last year (they grew like two tomatoes and a one giant zucchini—they’re not the best farmers). Anyway, out of Camille’s concern for student health, she got us to study usage of the pop machine, her theory being that unhealthy kids would be the heaviest users.

Big, bad study, sir. Mr. Luken, our Health teacher, gave us passes to hang out in the cafeteria all day. We made a chart of jocks, brains, music geeks, gamers, burners, and “others” (sad sacks who are hard to categorize because they have no social connections to anyone) and we took note of who purchased a product from the pop machine and what specific product they purchased.

Almost nobody paid attention to us while we took notes. Only a couple said stuff like, “What are you staring at, dorks?” Seth Sellers, a jock, made fart sounds when he saw me.

This pop project was eye-opening, sir.

After school that day, me, Camille and Justin went to Bitterroot Coffee Shop down on Main Street to tally things up.

“Nick, Gamer, purchased three Pepsis in four hours,” Justin said.

“Kendra, Burner, four different pops in five hours,” Camille said.

“She’s pretty overweight,” Justin said.

“Not as big as Tiff, Other, who bought four bottles of Sierra Mist,” Camille said.

“Oh Lord Mother of all Balls,” I said.

Camille plugged the data into a spreadsheet, squinting.

Justin shook his head, sucked his latte and was all like, “Whoa.”

Then Camille sat back, sipped her green tea and was all like, “Just as I suspected.”

I smiled and said, “Holy Mother of all Balls, right?” I drank a mocha with whipped cream, which has a million calories, by the way.

Here’s the scoop, sir: Purchasers of pop at Minnekota Lake Area High School are fat asses, trailer park kids, addicted gamers, and burner chicks who eat cigarettes for breakfast. Dozens and dozens of these kids. Most of them went for second rounds later in the day. Some for thirds. A couple, fourths (me, for instance). Very few jocks purchased pop from the machine. (Seth Sellers bought one bottle of Pepsi late in the afternoon, so he was able to greet me with the aforementioned fart sounds.) Two cheerleaders purchased from the machine, but they both bought diet. That diet stuff will kill you, but not make you fat on the calories.

What does that tell you, Mr. Rodriguez?

I tried not to show my concern, but Justin and Camille were clearly concerned.

“You drink a lot of pop, Chunk,” Justin said. “Could be part of the problem,”

“Oh, is there a problem?” I said. “I wasn’t aware of a problem!” I smiled big and raised my fat mocha like I was making a toast.

“There’s a problem, Chunk,” Camille said. “A big problem.” She didn’t smile. She didn’t toast me.

“I’m just sayin’,” Justin said.

Yeah. Really. A problem. I drank a hell-ton of Code Red Mountain Dew every day—four bottles, five bottles—and the only pants that fit me were stretchy pants (elastic waistband, sir).

I knew it, too, knew pop was part of my issue. But, see, I also thought it was part of my success! I was winning by buying all that pop! All the vending machine money went to fund the band! I’m a trombone player, you know? That’s one badass, hilarious instrument, right? Trombone! Awesome instrument. I love band so much so I figured I was paying myself by drinking all that pop. Winning it huge.

No. Stupid.

The truth is, I’ve gained a load of weight in the last couple of years. Kids call me fat ass, sausages, fudge balls, butter balls, cake balls, lard ass, 8 Butt Johnson. All kinds of names. I laugh and go along with it, but those names hurt my feelings.

Even my stupid gym teacher calls me names!

The day after our pop study, I was depressed, so it took me a long time to get to school, so I was late to gym class, so Mr. McCartney ordered me to “orbit,” which means run laps. I didn’t want to get detention (McCartney had been threatening me with detention, because I make jokes and I’m quote unquote mouthy). So I did what I was told.

While I was jogging around the gym, Seth Sellers shouted, "Planet turd in orbit!"

I smiled. “Yeah, watch out, planet earth. This shit ball might crash out of the night sky!” I faked being out of control and weaved off course like I was crashing.

McCartney got pissed. “This isn’t a joke, Chunk,” he said. “This is a punishment.”

“Okay,” I said. “Sorry.” I jogged on, but when I got to the far end of the gym, Janessa Rogers, this nasty cheerleader, said, “Shake it, Chunk! Shake it!”

I puckered my lips duck-face style and started shaking my ass while I jogged.

Everybody laughed.

Everybody except McCartney. He freaked. Way out of control. His face turned dark red and sweat streamed down his forehead. He started yelling, "You wanna be a clown, Chunk? You wanna disrupt my class? Oh, you’re real hilarious!”

I stopped my ass shaking,

“God, I’m sick of it,” McCartney shouted.

I stopped jogging all together. Stared at him, because he was screaming. Everyone else stopped whacking their birds (we were in a badminton unit).

McCartney walked toward me fast. “I’m so sick of your baloney. Sick of your face.”

“My face?” I asked, because I was surprised, because I always thought McCartney sort of liked me, even if I annoyed him.

“Your fat face! Get out of my gym, you sack of shit. Get your fat ass out of here."

Everybody stared. Everybody’s mouth hung open.

I swallowed hard. Stared at McCartney for a second. Then said, "Okay.” I put my head down and bumbled out of there as fast as my fat legs could carry me.

Terrible. Teacher verbally assaults you like that?

Hey. Why are we talking about this, Mr. Rodriguez? Shouldn’t we be talking about how…how you’re going to keep me from going to jail or something? I’m a little nervous about my crime.

The whole story, huh? Okay. You asked for it. I can talk forever.

Pop. The night after I was kicked out of gym, I pulled five empty bottles of Code Red Mountain Dew out of my backpack (there isn’t recycling at school, so I bring my empties home). One bottle didn’t have a cap on it. A little Code Red dribbled out onto my bedroom rug. It made a little stain. I squinted at it and my heart beat hard.

This stain reminded me of Doris our cleaning lady back when Dad was trying to pick up the pieces after Mom hit the road (Mom ran away to Japan while I was in eighth grade, by the way).

Doris was a tiny old lady. She spilled dirty mop water on the carpet. She said, “Better laugh than cry.” She broke a lamp when she whacked it off a side table with the duster. “Better laugh than cry.”

Poor Doris! She was terrible. She could barely lift a broom, she was so old. Dad had to fire her, which made him cry (serious sobbing breakdown, which he did a lot back then), but what was he going to do? She plugged the toilet with Clorox wipes. She broke a whole set of plates. She fell off a stool and ripped down our shower curtain. Dad had no choice. But when the taxi dropped her off at our place on the day he actually fired her, he broke down like a weak-ass baby. “I’m sorry,” he cried. “I’m so sorry, Doris.”

Doris shrugged and smiled and put her coat back on. I was so nervous about how she would react. What if Doris cried about getting fired? What would we do then? But she didn't seem to care at all. "Better laugh than cry," she said. Then Dad drove her home.

And I exhaled. I relaxed. And I thought: Doris has it right, right? Better laugh than cry. I don’t want to be a fool sobbing mess like my dumb dad, who can’t deal with his wife leaving him (my mom left me, too, and I wanted to cry, but seriously, better laugh than cry). That became my whole way of dealing.

A couple years later, there I was, ass dancing in the high school hallway while Seth Sellers mocked me with fart sounds. Laughing all the way, man.

But I stared at that Code Red stain on my rug and my heart beat and I thought, that’s not funny. For the first time, sir, it occurred to me that my total lack of dignity is not remotely funny.

That feeling continued into the night.

Grandpa, who you met this morning, moved in with me and Dad last summer to help us out. He cooks really well and sort of cleans—better than Doris, I guess. After he got too old to be a professional body builder, Grandpa ran a diner in town and the dude can make comfort food like nobody’s business.

Yes, you heard me right, body-builder.

Why are you laughing?

Everybody in town knows about Grandpa. He was Mr. Minnesota 1977, Mr. Rodriguez. I'm serious. The ladies loved him. Grandpa was Arnold Schwarzenegger's main competition back in the day.

That's what he told me and I believe him.

Long story short, sir, that night Grandpa cooked up some steaks and a bunch of mushrooms in butter sauce and mashed potatoes and green beans and fixed us salads. The deal is I never ate the green beans or the salad part. I doubled up on mashed potatoes, because oh balls, yes, do I love the awesome flavor of my grandpa's cream cheese infused mashed potatoes.

While I was sucking down the potatoes, Grandpa stared at me. He said, "Boy, the lack of roughage in your diet accounts for that big gut of yours.”

I looked up, stared back at Grandpa’s pinched face. I remembered Mr. McCartney calling me a fat ass in gym. My heart sank. My chin quivered. "Big gut?" I asked.

"You heard me," he said.

I swallowed hard, thought I might cry, because all these names… But then my Doris philosophy kicked in. I said, “I’m out of here!” I put the rest of the potatoes in my mouth—a giant wad—jumped up from my chair and ass-danced out of the dining room.

“Sure love the spuds, don’t ya, ya Chunk,” Grandpa called after me.

“Ha ha ha!” my dad laughed.

Back downstairs in my room, I stared at the stain again. What the hell is so funny? Am I really just a joke? I pictured Doris’s quivery arms and unsteady gaze and her wrinkled old face.

Then it hit me! Oh man, I thought. Crap! You’re not Doris, you idiot.

Total realization, sir. Doris couldn’t help it that she was so old. What was she going to do? Cry about living so long she no longer had control of her body? Better laugh than cry makes sense for her. I, on the other hand, have a choice. I’m a powerful young buck. Ass dancing isn’t the only option, right?

Don’t get me wrong, sir, I like being funny. But I don’t like…

You asked for it! The whole story! This totally has to do with the pop machine.

See, I was already pretty crabby that last week of school. Because I tried to limit my Code Red intake to three bottles a day, because I didn’t want to be a victim anymore, didn’t want to just laugh it all off. I wanted to do something for myself. I’d become dependent on the sugar and caffeine in the freaking pop, okay?

 Justin and Camille both commented on my bad mood.

“Why so sad?” Justin asked while driving me to school.

“Someone hit you with the sad stick?” Camille asked during chemistry.

“Bah,” I replied to both of them. “Screw everything.”

See? I was already evolving the attitude that caused me to become the criminal I am today.

Then, Wednesday that last week of school we had the first tiny event of what has since come to be known as the Spunk River War.

What a stupid name. Spunk. That’s a bonehead name.

Sure thing, sir. Go ahead and get coffee. I’ll be here when you get back. Not like I can go anywhere.

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

So You Want to Read Middle Grade: Penguin Books 15 Books That Will Transform Your Kid Into a Reader


Middle grade readers can be picky readers, so Penguin Books has made a handy flowchart to help you find the perfect read for your middle grade reader (or non-reader).  


Thursday, December 5, 2013

How Do You Arrange Your Bookshelves?

Some friends and I were talking recently about how we arrange our bookshelves, especially when committee work comes involved. I had an elaborate arrangement when I was on the Printz Committee last year, with books arrange by books I needed to read, books read, and books that I needed to re-read. There were piles everywhere in my office and on my shelf.

Some of that organization has stayed with me even though my committee term is over. Plus, I'm a librarian and I like to organize things! 

Here's what the shelves in my office look like:


The first shelf is books I need to read/review/or are in my most current TBR pile. Towards the end of the shelf is when I start my collection of books, in alphabetical order by author's last name of course. 

I used to organize them by children's, YA, and adult, but I put them all together in the last couple of years and I think I like that better. There's a mix of books I have read and books I want to read, but I move them out of my big review pile after about a year and hope that someday I can read them!


I have a small collection of non-fiction-books I want to keep from grad school, various reader's advisory guides, and other topics I'm interested in, but it's mostly my library science collection.


The rest of my shelves are full of books in alphabetical order, but this last shelf is my Newbery and Caldecott Shelf. I have a goal to order all the Award winners. I need to add my Printz titles to this shelf as well. 

I just recently moved my library books to the living room because we added a new shelf to put the coming baby GreenBean's toys.


And of course, some of baby GreenBean's book collection made it out to this shelf but trust me, he has a bunch more in his room just waiting for him to read!

The rest of my books are in the bedroom. When I was on the Printz Committee last year, we realized we needed more bookshelves, a problem I always think is a good one! So Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan and I put all of our combined interest books-things we both like to read-on those shelves. We also put all our signed books and the books we used for guests to sign as our guest books at our wedding on those shelves. 

Between the two of us, we own a lot of books! And my organization may change every few years. Again, as a librarian, I do feel the need to refresh my collection now and than and I weed my books. I try to take out books that have been sitting on my shelf for years that I haven't read and I don't really think I will get to in the next year-I can always borrow them from the library if I want to read them! I also try to keep favorites, books I really want to keep in my TBR pile, and books I want to have on hand to book talk if I need to. Yes, I can always get book talk books from the library, but it's nice to have a collection of go to favorites to pull at the last minute if I need to. 

So how do you organize your shelves? Do you weed your shelves often and rearrange? 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

So You Want to Read Middle Grade: More of My Favorites


I kicked off this series about middle grade titles a few months ago with a few of my favorite middle grade titles. And since I love middle grade, and it is my blog after all, I thought I would take the chance to share a few more of my favorites-old and new. 


Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
-This was one of my favorite books growing up. I don't know how many times I read it, but each time I loved it even more. I loved reading Catherine's diary entries and she had such an attitude-I loved it!


Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

-Maybe it was because we shared a first name, maybe it was because it took place in Kansas, or maybe it was because I wanted to go back in time, but all those things combined made this book near and dear to my heart. The movies are also some of my favorites!

Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin
-Cats that could fly? Yes please! I was never an animal fantasy reader, but that changed with this book. I was all about this magical, mysterious cats and I really wanted to have one for a pet.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

-Oh how I wanted to be Anne! We were kindred spirits! We shared an imagination and both had quite the temper and I longed to have her red hair-and a romance with Gilbert Blythe.

The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney by Lauren Barnholdt

-I read this one back when I was starting out as a tween librarian and it was just a perfect mix of humor and tween romance. It's wonderful and one I love to recommend.


Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

-Seriously, read this book and try not to fall in love with Emma Jean Lazarus. It's just not possible. 


The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

-It takes a lot for me to really laugh out loud at a book and this book succeeded at getting me to laugh-a lot! It's so much fun and so creative-the whole series is awesome.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

So You Want to Read Middle Grade: Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan


My husband, aka, Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan just started his first year of teaching this Fall. He's teaching middle school geography. I asked him what his students were reading in school and here's what he's noticed as the most popular:


Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

-This series is standing the test of time and a new generation of readers is discovering it for the first time. It's one of the most popular choices among students.



The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan 

-Students were excited about the most recent release in this series and it's been circulating in my classroom.


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

-Not many of my students were as excited about this series-I'd say only about 15% of my students went to see Catching Fire over the weekend, but those that did see it were excited to talk about it and enjoy the series.

Other popular choices-

The students in my class also seem to be reading whatever is one our state book award list. I've also noticed a lot of my students reading Mike Lupica.

Want to write a guest post about middle grade? Contact me at greenbeanteenqueen at gmail dot com

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fandom Starts Early Storytime


Can you name all of The Hobbit characters?


I am a big geek and one of the things that I love about working in the library is that I get to work with people who share my love for geeky pop culture-both staff and patrons. I've been wanting to do a geeky storytime for awhile and finally hosted one a couple of weeks ago. Here's what I did:


To help set the mood, I had the kids walk into Hedwig’s Theme


Opening Song: Clap Your Hands by They Might Be Giants



Book: Star Wars ABC-I had the kids help out and call out the characters they knew when they came across them. They knew most of them and I had quite a few Star Wars fans in the group which made this book fun.


Song: Soft Kitty-when I announced this song, I got a big laugh from the parents in the room


Soft kitty,
Warm kitty,
Little ball of fur.
Happy kitty,
Sleepy kitty,
Purr, purr, purr.




Book: Robot Zombie Frankenstein by Annette Simon


Song: Robot Parade by They Might Be Giants


Rhyme: Star Trek Ok, not really a rhyme but I wanted something fun to add, so I had the kids help recite this while we practiced making the Vulcan salute.


"Space... The final frontier...
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.
Its continuing mission:
To explore strange new worlds...
To seek out new life; new civilisations...
To boldly go where no one has gone before!"




Read: Star Trek Opposites


Song: The Freeze by Greg and Steve-I introduced this song with a picture of Dr. Horrible and his freeze ray and explained that Dr. Horrible had a freeze ray that would make us freeze. I held up the picture of Dr. Horrible each time the music stopped and would say "oh no! Dr. Horrible got us again! Let's dance so he can't get us!" and the kids loved it.


Parachute: Firefly Theme Song-I printed off two picture of Serenity and attached them to a popsicle stick to give it some weight so it would fly. I told the kids we were going to help the ship fly in the parachute and we bounced the ship around in the parachute while the theme song played.


Stations:


-Make your own Dalek Craft-I used paper cups, dot stampers (which ended up being pretty messy), colored pom-poms, craft sticks and cotton swabs. The kids could decorate the cup and poke the craft stick and cotton swab in the cup to make it look like a Dalek. This one was messy but fun!


-Character Matching-I printed off photos of characters with their signature item (Kirk and the Enterprise, Han Solo and Millennium Falcon, the Doctor and the TARDIS, etc) and the kids had to match the characters with what they belonged to.


-Robot Shapes-To go along with Robot, Zombie, Frankenstein, I provided the kids with scraps of paper, markers, scissors and glue and had them create their own robots using various shapes.

-Superhero Mask Making-I used our diecut of a mask and gave the kids markers and string to create a superhero mask.

-Eraser Wookies-I got this idea from Art2D2's Guide to Folding and Drawing. Using a marker you make lines on an eraser, then stamp them onto paper. The lines look like fur and you can add a face and armor to your wookie.

-Name the characters in The Hobbit-I recycled this one from my Hobbit Day Celebration. I printed off the cast photos of all the dwarves, Gandalf and Bilbo and hung them in a row and had the kids and parents try to name each character. I did put them in alphabetical order to make it easier for everyone.

How it Went: I had a pretty good turnout for an evening storytime (I think I ended up with 18 kids and 12 adults). The crowd enjoyed the storytime and had lots of fun, but there weren't many truly geeky parents there as I had hoped. I didn't think I had picked obscure fandoms, but no one really seemed to know much about any of the fandoms except Star Wars (I did have one parent recognize Firefly). The kids were mostly excited about Star Wars. Even though they didn't know all the fandoms, they had a blast making the crafts and the mask making was the most popular station followed by the robots and the daleks. I felt like most of my crowd wasn't there specifically for the storytime but just happened to be in the library so attended because they were there. (We don't do registration for our storytimes and they are open to anyone, so I pulled in a big crowd from who was in the department.) I know at least one boy came just for the Star Wars book and activities which he was thrilled about!

I would love to repeat it and I think there are so many other fandoms to include and so much more you could do! I would like to figure out how to attract a more geeky appreciative audience, so I'm thinking of tying it in with another program we host or advertising it at the comic book and game store.

I had a blast and loved sharing all the geeky fandoms with the kids!

 
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