Friday, December 2, 2016

ALSC Blog: Winter themed books for Storytime





Today I'm over at the ALSC blog talking about my new favorite winter themed storytime books. Please join me!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Blog Tour: Journey's End by Rachel Hawkins



Genre: Mystery/Contemporary
Release Date: 10/25/2016

About the Book: Nolie is spending the summer in Scotland in a small village with her scientist dad. He's there researching the Boundary-the mysterious fog at the edge of Journey's End. The fog seems to be moving closer but the town can't take any warnings of danger too seriously-the fog is their livelihood and tourism depends on it. Especially for Bel's family who runs a tour boat out to the Boundary. When Nolie and Bel strike up a friendship the two become entangled in the mystery of Journey's End the fog that may be making it's way to devour the town. When Albert appears, a boy who went into the fog in 1918 to light the legendary lighthouse, Bel and Nolie know something strange is happening in Journey's End it's up to them to save the town and stop the fog from claiming more lives. 

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:  Journey's End is a bit mystery, a bit of a friendship story, a bit of a spooky ghost story, and a lot of fun. I'm so excited to see Rachel Hawkins writing middle grade and she gets the voice and tween turmoil just right. In the midst of a mysterious fog creeping into town, this novel is about friendship and forgiveness. Bel is working through her hurt from her best friend growing up and ditching her for a new girl. Nolie is dealing with her parent's divorce and how that has changed her. The girls friendship with each other helps them find understanding and forgiveness. 
Add in some mysterious fog and a missing boy coming back 100 years later and you've got a very readable and likable mystery for middle grade readers. 

The mystery element is part paranormal, part legend, part ghost story and I think readers who enjoy ghostly happenings that aren't too spooky will enjoy this novel. Things never get too scary and there's also a good dose of humor from Nolie who likes to joke around and from Albert, adjusting to life in the twenty-first century. 

I listened to this book on audio and I loved the narrator's accents for each character. A bit southern for Nolie's Georgia accent, Bel's Scottish accent, and Albert's thicker brogue. I also liked that the audiobook added to some of the humor and upped the tension in certain scenes. I would suggest this in book and audiobook format to my interested readers. 

As part of the tour, I thought I would give my top reasons to check out Journey's End

My top three reasons to get your hands on Journey's End are:

1. It's the perfect read for a cold, foggy, wintery morning. Nothing better than reading about some creepy fog while you can look outside and see eerie fog yourself!

2. It's a ghostly story that's tame enough for readers looking for something gentle. I promise you won't be scared! But you may think twice about the weather!

3. It's ToddlerGreenBean approved! I had my print copy of this one sitting on the couch and every time it was out, ToddlerGreenBean would pick up and want to read it to me. Something about the cover fascinated him and I think he'll be enjoying this one in a few years! 

Be sure to keep Journey's End in mind if you have readers looking for light mysteries. It's a nice mix of stories I think it will find many fans. 

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook and book sent by publisher for review


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MLA 2016 Booklist-YA (and MG) Lit Update

For those of you that attended the Missouri Library Association Conference last week (or for those that missed it!) here is the booklist of titles I talked about. I'd love to hear your thoughts on them and if you have any favorites of 2016!

Trends:
Origin Stories & Retellings (fairy tales, classics, history retold, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland)
Sequels and Series
Contemporary Fiction continues to rise
Creative formats (Replica by Lauren Oliver, Between Worlds by Skip Brittenham)

Middle Grade/Young YA:
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz
It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan
Shadow Magic by Joshua Kahn
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Young Adult:
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
The Reader by Traci Chee
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
When We Collided by Emery Lord




Sunday, September 18, 2016

Celebrating Roal Dahl

2016 is the 100th birthday of Roald Dahl. The publisher of his books, Penguin Random House, has set up a special blog tour to celebrate the occasion.  

When I was in fourth grade, we read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I had always been a reader but something about this book made me really fall in love with it. I loved it so much that I  wrote a letter to Mr. Dahl telling him how much I enjoyed the book and probably other fourth grade things like about what I liked to do, that I loved to read, and all that kid letter writing stuff.

I didn't realize that Roald Dahl had passed away just a year before and I'm not sure my teacher did either. She sent my letter along to the publisher. Several weeks later I received a package at school that was full of Roald Dahl goodies-bookmarks, posters, a mobile (I think for James and the Giant Peach but I don't remember!) and other book swag. The publisher wrote me back and said they were sorry to let me know that Roald Dahl had recently passed away but they were so happy that I loved his books and they wanted to share some special things with me since I was a reader and a fan.

I was always an incredibly shy kid. I felt more comfortable with books and didn't like to talk much at school. I didn't have a lot of friends and never really felt like I fit in in elementary school.

Yet when that package of book swag arrived, I was suddenly the most popular girl in my class. Reading was cool. Everyone wanted to share in the excitement in hearing back from the publisher. We had read the book as a class and everyone was excited to see what I got. Since I took the initiative to write the letter to the author and share my love of the book, I was the hero of the class.

My popularity didn't last forever and I was OK with that. I didn't want it to. But I always remember the feeling that Roald Dahl and his US publisher gave shy fourth grader me. I felt like my love of books mattered. That I wasn't odd for loving to read and visiting the library every day I could. That it was cool to be a fan of an author and to write to the author and tell them how much you liked their books. The day I opened that box of swag all about Roald Dahl, I felt like being a reader was my super power.

I think that moment may have been one to put me on the path to librarianship, even if I didn't realize it at the time. Now I get to share the wonderfulness of Roald Dahl's books with numerous readers and help them discover their own reading super powers. His books are some of my forever go-to choices for reading aloud. There have been many fantastic audiobooks produced of his titles as well that I suggest for family listening. His books are classics and reach across generations and I believe they will continue to do so. He never spoke down to children and I think that's something children of any year and time period want-to be respected and to be heard. I know when I received that package in fourth grade, I felt as though I had been heard.

Thank you Roald Dahl for all of your wonderful contributions to children's literature and for making me feel

Tuesday, September 6, 2016








Alcatraz Series by Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Adventure
Release Date: 9/6/2016
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About the Book: (from publisher) The Dark Talent is the fifth action-packed fantasy adventure in the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series for young readers by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. This never-before-published, fast-paced, and funny novel is now available in a deluxe hardcover edition, illustrated by Hayley Lazo.

Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom
of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even
worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and
his friend, Bastille, is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the
Highbrary—known as The Library of Congress to Hushlanders—the seat of Evil
Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way
to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all?

“Like Lemony Snicket and superhero comics rolled into one.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review


GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I am so, so, very excited about this book release everyone! About nine years ago, not long after I first started working in the library, I came across a new book called Alcatraz Vs the Evil Librarians. I was looking for books for tween readers, especially books to suggest after Harry Potter, and this one just sounded so fun-a boy who has a talent of breaking things, a grandfather who shows up late to everything, and librarians who  have an evil plot to take over the world? I couldn't resist. 

I read the first Alcatraz book and I loved it. In fact, you can read my original review of Alcatraz Vs the Evil Librarians I posted not long after I started this blog! Since then, this series has been one of my go-to suggestions for tween and adult readers looking for a great series. I suggest it when they're looking for humor, fantasy, or just a good book. It's especially great as a family read aloud-there's something for everyone and I can really pull in adult readers with the fact that many are familiar with Brandon Sanderson's adult fantasy titles.

My patrons and I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the fifth book in the series-book one starts with an epic opening preview that we haven't gotten to see yet. I am so glad Tor Books was able to release all five of the Alcatraz series in beautiful new hardcover editions that are illustrated. I can't keep these books on my library shelf and I love having these new editions to hand to patrons. 

If you haven't discovered the Alcatraz Smedry series, you must do so! I know you won't be disappointed.  Of course, I can't tell them if I'm really an evil librarian or not, but if I was, I wouldn't be telling you to read this ridiculous fiction (or would I?)







Monday, September 5, 2016

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi


Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi 
Release Date: 8/30/2016 
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

About the Book: Alice was born in the magical world of Ferenwood but doesn't have any magic herself. In a land where color is magic, Alice is the lightest of all and doesn't fit in. The only person who ever made her feel special was Father-but he disappeared three years ago leaving Alice with her uncaring Mother and her three brothers. When Oliver Newbanks, an old nemesis, tells Alice that he needs help completing his task (the magical undertaking all children of Ferenwood must complete) and that he knows where Father is and can bring him home, Alice is faced with a tough choice. Oliver's magic lies in deciet and Alice is never sure if she can trust him but she wants Father home more than anything. The journey will be dangerous and take her into the odd land of Futhermore where nothing is as it seems and time must not be wasted. In a world filled with strange creatures and rules. Alice must find herself and her magic to bring Father home. 


GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: There's been a trend lately in middle grade fantasy with more books appearing for this age group that are quirky, magical, Alice in Wonderland-types. Futhermore firmly fits into that category. With a magical land that never quite makes sense, things are measured in time, twisting rules that you, numerous villages with various quirks and citizens who want to eat up visitors for their magic, Furthermore is quite a twisty read. 

Alice's story is a fine one for readers who enjoy this type of twisting and somewhat confusing and creative fantasy. But I can also see more sophisticated readers getting frustrated as well. The author can easily get characters out of various escapades by adding some new revelation. There are multiple asides from the author/narrator as well, but these don't always work and instead some of the humor that is supposed to be there falls a bit flat. The narrator interjections are inconsistent. It also takes a long time for more explanations of the world building, but once you get there I thought it was well done if a bit convenient at times. 

Alice's story takes awhile to get going and once we get to her adventures in Furthermore, the story is fun and there are lots of unique adventures that Alice and Oliver have. But I was very let down by the ending which felt too quickly wrapped up. It felt like we went through a lot of meandering and adventure only to have it solved in an instant. It was as though someone said "hey, this book is getting too long-wrap it up now and stop writing!" It felt too abrupt and too clean an ending and answer for such an epic adventure. After multiple chapters and pages of a journey, everything was wrapped up in about twenty pages, so I was left with little closure and this was a bit of a let down. 

I do think Futhermore would be a good choice for readers who enjoy Wonderland-esque tales and I think some readers will very much get into Alice's adventures and the wondrous world of Furthermore. It's an engaging enough read and I think young readers will enjoy it and I think it may have some limited reader appeal-at least from my experience with the fantasy readers at my library. I just wish there had been some tighter writing and more depth to the novel. I had higher hopes for this one and while I enjoyed it,  I can't say it will be memorable for long after I read it but I had fun while reading.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from purchased ebook from personal library

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Blog Tour: The Thing About Leftovers by C.C. Payne AUTHOR GUEST POST

Please welcome author C.C. Payne to GreenBeanTeenQueen! She's here to talk about her latest novel, The Thing About Leftovers and her favorite books featuring food.


About the Book: (From Goodreads): Fizzy is a good Southern girl who just wants to be perfect. And win the Southern Living cook-offThe being perfect part is hard though, since her parents’ divorced and everything in her life has changed. Wary of her too-perfect stepmom and her mom’s neat-freak, dismissive boyfriend, she’s often angry or upset and feels like a guest in both homes. She tells herself to face facts: She’s a “leftover” kid from a marriage that her parents want to forget. But she has to keep all of that to herself, because a good Southern girl never yells, or throws fits, or says anything that might hurt other people’s feelings—instead she throws her shoulders back, says yes ma’am, and tries to do better. So Fizzy tries her best, but it’s hard to stay quiet when her family keeps getting more complicated. Fortunately, the Southern Living cook-off gives her a welcome distraction, as do her new friends Miyoko and Zach, who have parent issues of their own. 


My Top Five Food-Themed Books:

 1.) The Thing About Leftovers by C. C. Payne (that's me!): In the South, we love you with our food. In this novel, 12-year-old Fizzy Russo does just thatattempting to love her parents, new stepparents, and new friends with fried chicken, cheese grits, Kentucky Hot Browns (an open faced sandwich with Texas Toast, turkey, ham and bacon, covered with Mornay sauce, smothered in cheese, topped with a slice of tomato and baked until gooey and browning at the edges) and the like, and to win their love in returnnot to mention The Southern Living Cook-Off. Fizzy believes that winning the cook-off that will cause everyone to forgive her and love her more. (I listed my own book first because if you stop reading here, I hope it's to go buy my book, and because I can't yet afford to be the kind of author who humbly never mentions her own workbut I TOTALLY aspire to be that kind of author, so please buy the book!)

2)  Close to Famous by Joan Bauer: 12-year-old Foster McFee is making the world a sweeter place one cupcake at a time! She makes some unlikely friends with her fabulous cupcake creations (I told you food is love!) including a retired, reclusive movie star, a would-be documentary filmmaker, and the folks down at Angry Wayne's Bar & Grill who sell her cupcakes for her. I love the way Foster overcomes, pushing herself, practicing, and persevering . . . in baking and in life.

3)  Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary: I wouldn't dare make a list without including this classic, Newbery Honor Book. Most chefs say they can tell a lot about another chef simply by what he or she does with an egg. And so it is with Ramona Quimby, who cracks an egg on her head in the school cafeteria. Plus, the food at her family's favorite restaurant, Whopper Burger, sounds deliciousI'd definitely like to have my next birthday party there!

4)  For a younger crowd, I recommend Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett because . . . mashed potato snow? Hamburger storms? Pancakes floating down from the sky? Sign me UP for that! This imaginative picture book, with detailed, delightful drawings, and great humor, remains a fave in my familyit's one that you truly never tire of reading aloud.


5)  For older readers, I recommend Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray, because when the going gets tough, the tough get baking! Ruth's first step to dealing with any problem is baking a cake"sweet potato bundt cake with rum-plumped raisins and spiced sugar glaze" or "apricot almond pound cake" and the like. And she shares her recipesas well as humor, warmth, and wisdomas she deals with her teenage daughter, college-student son, out-of-work husband, live-in mother, estranged father, and financial strain. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway



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Visit Cecelia's website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

About the Book: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan. But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED. In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything.


I am so excited to be participating in the blog tour for Flawed, Cecelia Ahern's YA debut. Cecelia is one of my favorite authors, so of course I jumped at the chance to ask her a few questions about her new book! 


You've published many novels, but this is your first for YA. What inspired you to make the jump to young adult fiction? Is writing for YA different than writing for adults?

I had no grand plan to write YA, what I did and what I always do is to write whatever story is most powerful in my head at the time. My novel THE BOOK OF TOMORROW was seen as a crossover book for YA and adult and I have had younger readers ever since I wrote PS I Love You so I didn't feel like I was taking a great leap or that I had to adjust my writing. What was different was the concept of the story, the pacy thriller like feel, the fact that it is saying a lot about the society that we are living in while maintaining the same feel as my other novels. I didn't have to adjust anything about my writing, I just got into the head of my character Celestine and saw the world from her eyes. I wrote the first draft in 6 weeks, it just flowed from me, I wrote it with passion and rage and with so much heart. This book had to be written, I had no choice in the matter! My heart was pounding the entire time, it was an overwhelming story to write from start to finish. 


Is there anything in your dystopian world that was inspired by current events? What gave you the idea to create this word?

I was inspired by the fact I believe we live in a judgemental world, one that is quick to publicly shame people, to finger point and hold people accountable for their mistakes,  or for their decisions that society deems to be a mistake. Society mocks and judges, and the opportunity for second chances  is rare.
Flawed is not set in the future, it is today, it is our modern world, contemporary society. It is everything we say and do to each other now, we already label people so I took it one step further by creating an actual morality court where The Guild and its 3 powerful judges reside.
Angelina Tinder was found Flawed because she travelled to a country where Euthanasia was legal and assisted her mother's death. The Guild branded her in her home country despite the fact she carried it out legally. This mirrors the abortion situation in Ireland where 12 women a day travel to the UK for abortions but it is illegal in Ireland. In the famous X case, the court stopped a 14 year old girl who was raped, from travelling to the UK for an abortion.

Flawed at Birth children are taken from their flawed parents at birth. This is similar to aboriginal children in Australia who were forcibly removed from their parents in order to "dilute the gene pool" and we had a similar case in Ireland where children were taken from single unmarried mothers and raised in state institutions.

A famous footballer who cheats on his wife is brought to a Flawed court but his wife becomes the media target as it's discussed why he cheated, whose fault it is, as I believe is the case in reality. 

Celestine's mother is a famous model who judges people by their appearance, as do many people. She feels she can't trust people who have any physical flaws and I fear there is a great pressure on teenagers, and all ages, to have a certain flawless appearance which is impossible & unattainable naturally.

Parents are found Flawed for removing their son who has cancer from hospital and trying to find alternative methods. This is based on a real case where parents of a boy were arrested for taking him from hospital. 

Of course the most obvious comparison is World War 2. The Flawed rules are similar to the anti - Jewish decrees and the Penal Laws in Ireland.

Everything I write about in Flawed is real. What's terrifying is reading this novel thinking how awful it would be and then realising these things have happened in our past, are happening in our present. You don't have to look far in this world to find regimes like that in Flawed.


Your first book was published when you were 21. Has your writing process changed as you've published more novels?

Flawed is my 13th novel and of course there's been a real growth in my writing, as you would hope for and expect over 13 years. I think they're deeper, darker and better. They are still emotional journeys about people going through difficult dark moments in their lives, with hope and humour.


You've written novels, short stories, plays and for TV. What do you enjoy about writing in different formats and styles? Do you think one comes more naturally than another?

Writing novels is my first love. I have such freedom in my novels to go wherever I want. I can work alone and truly create my own world. I enjoy the challenges that TV and film bring, the main difference being that they are collaborative processes and I work to a network's brief even if the network say they don't have a brief. They always do!! 

What were some of your favorite novels as a teen?

I don't remember the book choices being as ripe and plentiful as they are now but I did read a huge amount. I don't recall YA specialised sections in book stores so I just took what appealed to me from adult shelves. Early in my teens I read Sweet Valley High, the Babysitters Club, the Famous Five, then moved on to novels like Cane River by Lalita Tademy, John Grisham. The Diary of Anne Frank is my most read novel. I also loved Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon McKenna. 

One of the things I really enjoyed most about reading Flawed was how much it made me think about our current culture. How much time do we spend judging others or worrying about what people will think of us? Our culture is full of gossip, rumors, reality TV, and social media and each of those carries with it a way to form opinions on everyone and share our thoughts in a very public forum. Celestine is thrown into the middle of a battle and she's seen as the face for both sides-is she a hero for standing up to the Flawed or is she a catalyst for change? There is a lot to discuss and I think Flawed could make a great book discussion title!

Thanks to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, one lucky winner will receive a copy of Flawed as well as some swag from both sides of the pond!
-Contest open to ages 13+
-US/Canada address only
-Contest ends 4/12
-One entry per person




Follow the tour for more chances to win and to find out more about Flawed!

April 5- Nite Lite Book Reviews (US)
April 5- Two Chicks on Books (US)
April 5- Green Bean Teen Queen (US)
April 5- Writing.ie (Ireland)
April 5- Overflowing Library (UK)
April 6Icey Books (US)
April 6Supernatural Snark (US)
April 6- Paper Cuts Blog (US)
April 6Serendipity Reviews (UK)
April 6Bleach House Library (Ireland)
April 6Bart's Bookshelf (UK)
April 7- Forever Young Adult (US)
April 7Bumbles and Fairytales (US)
April 7Rainy Day Ramblings (US)
April 7Swoony Boys Podcast (US)
April 7A Daydreamer's Thoughts (UK)
April 7The Bibliomaniac (UK)
April 7Kirstyes (UK)
April 7Wrath Queen's Books (UK)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dear Books: Please Update Your Libraries

There is nothing worse than coming across a book you are really enjoying only to be pulled out of it because of some outdated and incorrect library reference. I know that authors and illustrators will not always get everything 100% accurate, but I when I read books that show a very dated stereotype, or something that is just so incorrect, I always wonder why. I feel like authors and illustrators should know better! And it's not just older books-it happens in new books too!

I recently read A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper and illustrated by Anna Raff. 


I absolutely loved this book! It's a creative look at libraries through the eyes of a library card. It's perfect for my outreach visits and storytimes about the library and promoting what value there is in a library card. Anna Raff gets major points for illustrating a very cool and hip librarian as well!

But the librarian tells card to shush and is a bit annoyed when he shows up. And then library card helps his new owner stamp across all his books and stamp dates to return them. There's also mostly talk about how you can check out lots of books at the library-but libraries are so much more than books! We have computers, movies, music, devices, toys, databases, downloadable content, programs, meeting spaces-so much to offer!

Sure, there are small libraries that still may use stamps-but most libraries don't. I feel like for an new book it could provide an updated view on libraries. 

And what about books that clearly violate a library policy? Most libraries I know have some sort of policy about unattended children. Libraries have an age limit to where children can be left alone. Yet in two recent picture books, the parents tell the kids "I'll be in the adult area-be back soon. Have fun!" leaving the kids alone. 



Sure, it's fiction, it's fun, and I wanted to love The Not So Quiet Library  but the librarian in me just couldn't take the Dad leaving the son (who appears to be pretty young!) alone in a multi-level library. It's a public building!!! My librarian self just couldn't get past it. I would be chasing him down explaining our unattended children policy and reminding him he needs to be with his child. Sigh...

I know, I know-let it go. But then it happened again! And this time in a book that's not a silly story but a book intended to teach readers about the library:



OK, maybe you can convince me that the boy in The Not So Quiet Library is old enough to be on his own but not true for the boy in Library Day! Especially when his Dad drops him off for storytime and leaves him there by himself! NOT OK! Not to mention how incredibly outdated this one is in its many references and illustrations of the library. This came out this year but it feels like it was written twenty years ago. I'm not the only one who has this problem-Goodreads is full of librarians who feel the same way.

And I hate when books show illustrations or photographs of a librarian reading a book at storytime, only they are holding the book the wrong way and not showing the pictures! That's not how you do it! That's not storytime! It's so frustrating!


(So this picture is really for no storytime happening, but I like it as an example of this is how you don't read your books in storytime! Show those pictures!!!)


Have any books shown libraries or librarians in a good light-or more realistic light-lately? Kwame Alexander gets the award here for the best representation of a librarian in recent literature. 



The school librarian in Booked is smart and funny, a bit nerdy and a bit cool (like many librarians I know!), is always encouraging the kids to read and try something new and is always searching for a book they will like. He cares about his students, is happy to have them in the library and encourages them to use the library and all its resources. 

Do you get frustrated with libraries in librarians in books? Any recent bad (or good) representations of libraries and librarians you've read recently? 


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Picture Book Review: Dig In by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Mary Peterson

Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Mary Peterson

Release Date: 3/1/2016

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As a librarian who does toddler storytime, I am always on the lookout for great new toddler books. It feels like I repeat the same books over and over with my little ones. So I get very excited when a book like Dig In! comes across my desk.

Dig In! is a child's exploration of playing outside in the dirt. From digging in the dirt to finding worms, snails, rocks and then water to make messy mud, each page takes a new experience or discovery and presents in from a young child's view. The text is simplistic enough that young children can follow along and the overall book is engaging and exciting. It's short enough to be read aloud in toddler storytime even with antsy toddlers.

The illustrations, which according to the book were created using linoleum block prints on paper with some digital touch ups, are bright and colorful. They really pop on each page which makes them great for a crowd. The block prints help everything have it's defined space and it adds a bit of texture to the dirt, which I think young readers will find especially engaging. It's almost as if you can reach your hand out and touch the dirt on the page.

As Springtime approaches, Dig In! is a great new choice to add to storytime. It's perfect for a messy storytime where you get to play in the mud and it's a wonderful encouragement to families to get outside and play.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from  copy sent by publisher for review

Monday, February 29, 2016

Yes We Crab Reading Challenge: Final Update


It's the end of February which means the end of Yes We Crab! I wanted to read 20 books this month and post once a week. My blogging goal failed, but I did make my reading goal of 20 books-yay!

Here's what I finished the month up with:

 My Dog's a Chicken by Susan McElroy Montanari, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
When a young girl isn't allowed to get a dog, she decides she'll turn a chicken into a dog. A pretty cute picture book for the K-2 crowd.

 A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper, illustrated by Anna Raff

-My new favorite book to read at Library-themed outreach events and storytimes! This is a unique look at libraries through the eyes of a library card. And it's adorable!

 Swap! by Steve Light

-I just love Steve Light's pen and ink illustrations. Did you ever play that game where you started out with something small then had to go all around to try and upgrade and swap your item for something bigger? That's what this reminded me of-only with pirates.

 Whoops! by Suzi Moore, illustrated by Russell Ayto

-A new pick for storytime. Three animals who can't make any sounds seek out a lady with a spell that might help-only things keep going wrong. This is a perfect read-aloud with a hilarious ending.

 Peep and Egg I'm Not Hatching by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Joyce Wan

-A very cute tale about having courage perfect for the preschool set. Plus it's illustrated by Joyce Wan so you know Peep and Egg are adorable.

 No, No, Gnome! by Ashly Anstee

-Who can resist gnomes? I love them! This is a nice gardening tale with a gnome twist. I'm saving for when I get all the requests for Spring/garden/planting books. 

 Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller

-Move over Mo Willems and Bob Shea! Perfect for fans of books that break the fourth wall and have a great sense of humor. I'm planning on writing more about this one-it's a great storytime option and read aloud!

 The New Guy (And Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding

-Contemporary YA Romance. Reviewed for Booklist

 A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shwan K. Stout 

-Historical MG-a great read for middle grade to compare historical events (thoughts and actions towards German-Americans in 1940s) to now. Reviewed for AudioFile.

 Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

-Regency YA romance-a tounge-in-cheek look at the regency era. Reviewed for Booklist.

 Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

-Another Kate DiCamillo novel-and it's brilliant! More to come soon when I write a longer review!

How did you do on your Yes We Crab Goals? Any great reads you found this month?












Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Yes We Crab Reading Challenge Update!


Well, we're halfway through the #YesWeCrab reading challenge that several of my friends and I decided to do for February. I'm doing OK-not reading as much as I wanted and not posting what I wanted at all, but that's fine-I can catch up!

You can see what Abby the Librarian has been reading as well-she's got a great update! And you can follow the hashtag #yeswecrab on Twitter and see what others are up to!

Here's what I've read so far this month:


-I listened to the audio version of this one and it was fantastic! A magical anthropological fantasy-such a great combination and so unique! I loved the characters and it made me think about cultural appropriation in the name of research which was fantastic. 


-Another audiobook, this time for review for AudioFile. Perfect for time travel fans-I loved the thought and detail put into the time travel elements in this one. Also be warned the cliffhanger is a doozy!


-A great contemporary YA debut from an adult author. Reviewed for Booklist. 


-New Adult-ish sequel to The Intern, reviewed for Booklist.


-A fantastic picture that is non-fiction told in a poetic verse. The illustrations are beautiful and the author's notes and endpapers add to the reading experience making this one accessible to a wide range of ages. This is a book to watch come award season. 


-A cute "field guide" for newborns. This one came across on the new cart at work and I had to look at it. It's sure to make any new parent laugh and smile. There's also a "A Baby's Guide to Surviving Mom" which I haven't seen yet, but I'm sure both can be added to the baby shower arsenal. 


-Once again, Hurley's illustration style and minimal prose create a perfect preschool storytime book, this time about the day in the life of a family of rabbits. I got nervous when the fox started to come after the rabbits, but thankfully the circle of life is just hinted at and no rabbits are harmed-phew! I could not have handled Jorey Hurley's adorable rabbits being eaten!



-A pig who wants to wear shoes? Elizabeth Rose Stanton has the perfect quirky sense of humor in both her text and illustrations to pull it off. Plus, there's a pig pooping which equals instant storytime classic.

 Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato

-There's going to be a wedding, but they're worms! Who's the bride and who's the groom? Does it matter? Such a cute book that can have broad appeal-from science tie-ins to marriage equality to just plain fun. I mean, how cute are those worms?




Monday, February 1, 2016

February Reading Challenge: Yes We Crab!


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My 2016 Caldecott Journey

Photo Credit: Horn Book


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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Elise Katz


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

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

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







 
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