Wednesday, November 24, 2010

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

Let me just start by saying I absolutely love Jordan Sonnenblick's work.  I can always count on it to be honest and insightful without being preachy, and he always manages to somehow deal with life's ups and downs with a perfect dose of humor.

In this companion novel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (also a Lone Star in a previous year) Jeffrey has grown up a bit and is now in 8th grade.
*side note--if you have never read D G & D P it is a MUST READ.  An all-time fave. You don't have to read it to understand After Ever After, but it is an excellent read in and of itself.*

After Ever After features two middle school boys who have been friends since the 4th grade.  They have a lot in common, including the fact that both have had cancer. 


Middle school can be tough stuff.  I remember it like it was yesterday, perhaps because I still work with that age group.  Waking up feeling awkward in your own skin and worrying endlessly about what others thought--is my hair styled okay? do my jeans look stupid?  does he think I'm cute, too?  will people laugh at me?  Sonnenblick handles this age with such an honest voice.  I feel like I'm listening in on conversations taking place at my own school. 

I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book and fell in love with it immediately.  I've passed it (and my new copies) of it on to both boys and girls in every grade level at my school.  It simply resonates with them all.  While the main characters have both experienced cancer, this isn't a "cancer" book.  It is a book about friends...real, true friends.  It is a book about the perils of middle school.  About feeling puppy love and about growing up. 

I cannot recommend this book enough.  I feel so privileged that this book will be the very last booktalk I ever give at TLA as a member of the Lone Star list.  We got to choose one book to booktalk this year, and I chose After Ever After immediately. 

Get it. Read it. Love it.

Read on, gentle readers, read on...
Mrs. S.

p.s. on the eve of Thanksgiving I'd like to mention how very thankful I am for friends, family, and fabulous books.  I am also thankful for each and every one of you that takes a moment to read my little blog.  I appreciate you more than you know.  I'll leave you with a  photo of my two biggest reasons to be thankful this season.

Monday, November 15, 2010

*drum roll, please*

 Since it has now offically been announced I can post these....SO exciting!  I will post my personal reviews of each of these starting this week.  Keep in mind, these are my reviews--they do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and/or feelings of the committee as a group!


2011 Texas Lone Star Reading List

Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown, 2010.

Bell, Cathleen Davitt. Little Blog on the Prairie. Bloomsbury, 2010.

Brande, Robin. Fat Cat. Knopf, 2009.

Carter, Ally. Heist Society. Disney Hyperion, 2010.

Childs, Tera Lynn. Forgive My Fins. Katherine Tegen Books, 2010.

Condie, Ally. Matched. Dutton, 2010.

Deuker, Carl. Payback Time. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.

Dionne, Erin. The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet. Dial Books, 2010.

Falkner, Brian. Brain Jack. Random House, 2009.

Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron. Dial Books, 2010.

Gephart, Donna. How to Survive Middle School. Delacorte, 2010.

Golding, Julia. Dragonfly. Marshall Cavendish, 2009.

Henderson, Jason. Vampire Rising. HarperTeen, 2010.

Klass, David. Stuck on Earth. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2010.

Shulman, Polly. The Grimm Legacy. Putnam, 2010.

Shusterman, Neal. Bruiser. HarperTeen, 2010.

Sonnenblick, Jordan. After Ever After. Scholastic Press, 2010.

Stork, Francisco X. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010.

Wiles, Deborah. Countdown. Scholastic Press, 2010.

Yancy, Richard. The Monstrumologist. Simon & Schuster, 2009.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

it's the of the world as we know it

...and I feel fine.

For the past three years I've been blessed beyond measure to be a part of the fantastic Lone Star committee. 

It is a little (okay, maybe a LOT) weird to realize that my time on the committee is, as all good things eventually must, coming to an end. 

I will meet for my final vote/battle for the 20 new Lone Stars next weekend in the fair city of Austin. 

I have spent the past 3 years on a thrill ride of finding boxes of books piled up in front of my door, reading the heck out of them, and getting the opportunity to meet and talk with some truly amazing people---authors, publishers, and other amazing librarians. 

And to have had a voice in making one of the most incredible lists for middle school readers anywhere.
How lucky can a girl get?

Yeah, it has been one crazy-great ride.  The leaving is a bit bittersweet. 

I will certainly miss the Christmas-like boxes of books on my front porch and working so closely with some of the most amazing people I've met, but I am very ready to have the chance to read for pure pleasure again. To pick up a book that looks amazing to me, even if I'm quite sure it will never be a Lone Star, and to open it up and read it at a non-frenetic pace is a treat I've found myself missing more and more lately.  

And I have many tasks (some more fun than others) that I am ready to pick up again.  Like finishing that novel now that some of my time excuses will be gone.  Like cleaning the house.  ;), playing with photography  and scrapbooking.

After a bit of a break I do plan to volunteer for YART in some capacity again.  I want to help in whatever way I will be most useful to TLA, and someday I'd LOVE to apply for Tall Texans.

So I plan to enjoy the heck out of this next frantic-reading-packed week as it is my last hurrah.  This time next week I plan to be sipping some delicious hot tea and settling down with something along the lines of Janet Evonovich.

Yep, I feel fine.

Read on, gentle readers, read on.

Mrs. S

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Focus Walk


I learn so much from all the fine folks on my various list-serves.  One of them, the fabulous Alice Yucht, posted a link that will be WAY too familiar to those of us who work in the public school system. She apparently ran across it on another blog.

I didn't leave the regular classroom to leave teaching--in fact, I do it every day, but MAN does this video make me cringe with the memories of working at one of my previous schools, in particular.  Rarely is it the actual  teaching part of being a teacher that drives people out of the business in droves. Eerie, really, how close this comes to the reality tons of us work in on a daily basis.  It's this kind of mess that makes me beyond thrilled to be in my happy little home away from home---my wonderful school library.  Not a perfect world, but surely a bit closer to perfect than this.

 Make sure you watch it all the way to the end. 

Focus Walk

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to listen to Jimi Hendrix, and then possibly make your own movie. 

How do we make a meaningful shift occur in our world of education?  Any thoughts?


Awaiting your answers...

Read on, gentle readers, Read on.

Mrs. S.

p.s.Alice has a mean turkey recipe she posts every Thanksgiving for those of us on the list-serve.  That woman is surely a wonder!

p.p.s.  that super-funky-cool shot of Jimi is from http://www.jimihendrix.com/, a most intoxicating site to experience.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Librarian Heroes

If you've spent much time on my blog you know my favorite super-hero has got to be Batgirl.  Why?  Because she is a librarian, of course. 

I have a lovely library super-hero friend named Jennifer.  This woman is truly amazing and a gift to librarianship.  I noticed she had a super-cool posting on her fb page this week--all about librarian superheroes.  Of course, being the librarian ninja that I am, I had to check it out.  You can, too...just follow THIS link.

I absolutely love to be to be a caped crusader battling ignorance on a daily basis---even when not wearing a cape. (sidebar: I just might need to purchase a cape...seriously, how cool would that be?  and I would look much better in a cape than in a ninja suit.)

Take a look at the librarian heroes listed...you will be happy to discover just how many of us there are..oh, and don't forgot those "real-world" heroes that inspire our students and teachers every single day.

Read on, gentle readers, read on!

Mrs. S

Monday, October 25, 2010

Teen Read Week 2010















Here are some photos from our Teen Read Week celebration last week.  Now that I am *almost* recovered from the week, I can post these pics!

The entire school was able to meet with Mike Wimmer, who, as always, did a fantastic job.  He really is able to reach the kids--and I'm always so amazed by his talent. That talent made it extra-special for our GT artistic kids to get to work with him in a small group setting the following day.

We also brought in the Ellen Trout Zoo---did you check out the *lovely* hissing roaches from Madagascar.  They brought the cutest little hedgehog, too!   

And then came a school favorite....our murder mystery days.  I'm actually extending our TRW activites through tomorrow in order to be able to accommodate all the ELA classes.  This year we took part in the Rock and Roll Over Dead mystery.  Great fun was had by all! 

Wrestlemania Reading Challenges went out last week, NaNoWriMo preparations are in full swing, and the school is still in the midst of our One Book, One School---The Hunger Games. 

Hopefully with all these activities each and every member of our school family will experience something wonderful and amazing. 






Friday, October 15, 2010

Did I say upwards of 30?

how 'bout I counted this morning.  Over 70 students in the library. 

Life Rocks.

Friday morning--a quick note

It is 7:04 on Friday morning.  My duty doesn't officially begin for 6 more minutes and  I am fortunate enough to have administrators that realize my morning duty station needs to be in the library.  This is the calm before the storm.  I'm standing here at my circulation desk looking out over the library, and already we have 2 kids playing checkers, with 3 students watching. Two little girls are discussing a research project at on table, and 8 students are on the computers.  I have 3 that have turned in books and are busy looking for new ones.  Within about 6 more minutes I will have upwards of 30 students in my little middle school library. 

I love that my students love to be in the library. 

Life is good, my friends.  Life is good. 

Must run...off to assist the students...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo will soon be here and this year I am SUPER excited to announce that not only will I be *once again* attempting to complete the 50,000 word goal, but that several of my teacher friends are joining me this year!

Even more exciting than this....***drum roll, please***
Our STUDENTS will be participating in the kiddo version of this magnificent event!  Wowza! 

The folks at NaNoWriMo have amazing stuff for educators working with writing and cool stuff for the kids, too...I mean, absolutely amazing stuff...and most of it is..... *get this*.... FREE!

Check 'em out at:
http://www.nanowrimo.org/ (adult version)
http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/   (youth version)

and join us as we write the month away!  Get registered today!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Teen Read Week Cometh


Yes, it is coming up once again...the fabulous Teen Read Week.  I LOVE the theme this year, but sadly don't have the funds or the time to make all my TRW dreams come true.

No worries, though.  We will have a fabulous time celebrating teens and literacy on a shoestring budget...and you can, too!

The district is paying for amazing illustrator and artist extraordinaire Mike Wimmer to make a visit.  Hopefully we can work it out for him to come for another 1/2 day to work with a small group of our artistic GT kiddos.  He visited my campus long ago in another district and he is AMAZING with the students.  I am SO excited about this!

We are also having our wonderful little local zoo, The Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, TX , represented during TRW.  Charlotte is AMAZING over there and puts together really cool information about animals that always goes with our yearly theme----she even brings animal visitors each time.  Yes, middle school kids still think that's way cool.  ;)

Then, of course, we will have a Murder Mystery Day---Highsmith has really great (and VERY easy-to-use) kits and we happen to own on called Rock and Roll Over Dead---just perfect for this year's theme. 

We'll have several contests running, too...a song lyric writing contest, a caught you reading photography contest, and something I'm sure will come to me that works involving the teachers, too.  In the past we've done a match-the-baby-picture to the teacher, or match-the-pet-picture.  Not sure what we'll come up with, but I'd love to hear your ideas on the subject.

Obviously I'll have a few displays of awesome books that go well with this year's theme--fiction and non-fiction alike. 

I'm still considering having a Zumba class or two, and perhaps adding Karaoke at lunch time if I get really brave.

How about you?  How will you celebrate TRW?  One thing is for sure...Teen Read Week will Rock!

read on gentle readers, read on...
Mrs. S


http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/teenreading/trw/trw2010/home.cfm

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Use your influence

So I saw this video today on yahoo and thought it was just great.  Apparently it is the sensational video of the moment.  I honestly didn't know the catchphrase until the end of the video, but it has really stuck with me.  'Cause that's what we as educators try to do.  We try to use our influence.  Positively.  ;)



cute girl catchy dance @ Yahoo! Video

Working as a librarian is a calling. At least that's the way I see it. It is important to remember--- regardless of how tired or cranky one might feel about getting up at flipping 5:30 in the morning or how frustrating it can be to do work that is so amazing yet isn't often recognized as such---that we do have influence.
And it is up to us to use that power wisely.
Because at the end of the day it is MY job, my duty, and my privilege to be a servant leader.  To help others--teachers, students, administrators, parents, and other librarians--in any way I can.

And...maybe, just maybe...if we are really lucky to use my influence to create readers readers everywhere with plenty of words to read. 

So...I book talk with my kids and watch the books fly off the shelves.  I assist the teacher who *perhaps* was not as well-planned as she thought she was and needs something last minute.  I attempt to DAILY live my life as a positive, upbeat, super-geek-cool-intellectual-bad-bootie, ninja librarian reader. 

Today it went well.  :)  Tomorrow we start all over again. 

Cheers to all of you-

Read on, gentle readers, read on.
Mrs. S.



Monday, September 6, 2010

And so it begins...

This school year has gotten off to an excellent beginning.  For starters, I have a new administrative team all the way around.  I loved working with the previous administrators, but I am really enjoying the new group, as well.  So far, everyone has been very supportive of the library program--for which I am ever so grateful.  We now even have a librarian as our administrative liason to Central Office.  Cool stuff.

I've prettied up the library--two pics of some of my display areas are in today's post---the pirate-y one here and then a books to movies one.  I've catalogued what feels like a million or so books. 

I've passed out equipment and placed initial orders.  I've seen 22 classes thus far and am gearing up for another incredibly full week of library fun.  And maybe fitting in a bit of time to catch my breath and blog regularly again! 

My summer felt really hectic, but I have to admit I am really feeling all my activities right now.  I have piles of Lone Star hopefuls in my living room just waiting to be read (we use the boxes right now as our version of a baby gate--that's how many I have!)  I have some book reviews to write, and some plans to make for our One Book, One School kick-off in October along with the culminating activity of a Hunger Games Day.  I have Teen Read Week to prepare for--including a visit with illustrator Mike Wimmer.  I have the other "hat"  I wear at work--Gifted and Talented coordinator--to prepare for.  Did I mention my Girl Scout troop starts meeting again this week, my older daughter's dance class starts up again tomorrow night, I have a 15 month old and a hubby in grad school?  We won't go into the daily grind details that we all also share. 

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my job, and so it is tough for me sometimes to remember to cut myself a little slack.  To be okay with not doing everything perfectly.  To allow myself to be human.  Like I've mentioned before I'm a work in progress.  ;)

Thanks for sticking with me through the writing desert that is the beginning of a new school year.  I appreciate you guys more than you know!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

new year!

With all the new beginnings that August brings for us school librarian types, not to mention my oldest darling daughter turning 8 this month, I have been crazy busy and unable to fully complete my bloggifying duties!  :)  I promise to have many new things to add shortly--I'm shooting for next week.

In the meantime, you shouldn't be reading me right now anyhow because OBVIOUSLY you should be finishing up Mockingjay. 

Go.  READ.  Enjoy.

That is all.

Mrs. S

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Last Battle: With ‘Mockingjay’ on its way, Suzanne Collins weighs in on Katniss and the Capitol



Check out this great article from School Library Journal about the last book in the amazing Hunger Games trilog by Suzanne Collins!  I'm more than excited about its upcoming release on August 24th!  Since our school is reading The Hunger Game for our One Book, One School novel this year, everyone in my neck of the woods is anxiously anticipating this release. 

The Last Battle: With ‘Mockingjay’ on its way, Suzanne Collins weighs in on Katniss and the Capitol

Monday, August 2, 2010

work in progress

My blog is still a work in progress.  Heck, my life is still a work in progress! 



I have big plans for this blog--many cool things I hope to add.  Like readers, for example.  ;)  At any rate, it at least helps me to be semi-consistant in my writing. That in and of itself is important to me.

I've always been a writer.  Journals have been kept since I called them "diaries"  and they came with a kitty picture on the front and a lock that never actually worked all that well.  I've written stories, poems, snippets about life and things I find comical.  I've written about incidents so personal or so overwhelming (sometimes both) that they will never see the light of day.  I've written to find myself and also to get lost somewhere (anywhere) other than my real world.  Writing has been a constant, although I haven't always been consistant. 

What I haven't done before is to complete a novel.  And that is a challenge I would dearly love to take on and actually complete.  Definitely on my bucket list.

Over the course of the past 6 months I've had some occasions to believe that God is perhaps thumping me on the head and telling me to get on with it already.  That it's time to quit talking about writing a novel and just do it.  To throw caution to the wind and carve out some time from my already hectic with no respite in sight schedule and step out on faith that it will all work out.  No promises of publishing, just promises to myself of completion and honing the craft.

I don't know about you, but when I don't listen the first time, the thumps to the head get harder and more difficult to ignore.  And opportunities begin to present themselves. 

No more excuses.  It's time.

So, I've joined a writer's group----small but local so I'm able to meet without taking to much time away from the kiddos---and I've received encouragement from some amazing authors whom I have been privileged to meet because of the fabulous Lone Star committee dinners and parties I've been able to attend. 

I've had friends with similar interests email special tidbits of inspiration.  I've decided to attempt NaNoWriMo in November, and ran across a new challenge (well, new to me) on the ever-amazing Laurie Halse Anderson's blog yesterday--WFMAD--it involves writing just 15 minutes a day.  I can do this.

I'll keep you posted on my writing...and I'd love to hear from others who have the same goals.  Follow the links to the challenges (or create your own!) and join in on the writing fun.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Altered Books

Wondering what to do with mounds of weeded books? 

Might I suggest an altered book project?

For the past few years at our campus we have recruited the art teachers to work with the art classes to create treasure from trash for an awesome display during Teen Read Week.  The kids love it, the art teachers love it, and I love that the old books are given a chance at a new creative life. 

As I weed our collection (an on-going task, of course)I place the best candidates for altered books in a special area.  These books are then delivered to the art teacher and the fun commences!  Each project is special and unique and the kids are so proud of their work.  These works of art attract a lot of people into the library to gaze upon them and marvel at the work. 

As a scrapbooker I had been aware of this "paper" craft for some time, but was really inspired to let loose with it after attending a workshop at a small library conference a few years back--the East Texas Library Summit--- put on by my good friend and colleague Sharon Gullet (a wonder of a gal!)  I've added a long list of websites put together by the arts girls who spoke on the topic, Ms. Allen & Ms. Merritt, so a special thank you to these ladies. 

Some of our students chose to make gifts for a parent, some chose to make "Dream" books, others made journals, and some created a work of art to hang on the wall.  Whatever they chose to do, they had a blast doing it and it got those creative juices flowing about possibilities.  And that's what life is all about, right?  The wonderful possibilities.

And thanks to the students from my middle school who made these awesome altered books! 




































































































http://www.altered-books.suite101/

http://www.alteredbookartists.com/

http://www.art-e-zine.co.uk/alteredbook.html

http://www.art-e-zine.co.uk/mb.html

http://www.logolalia.com/alteredbooks/

http://www.creativity-portal.com/howto/artscrafts/altered.books.html

http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/middle/Linda-books.htm

http://www.wikipedia.org/org/wiki/Altered_book

http://www.jennysartspace.com/alteredbooks/

http://www.ebsqart.com/artMagazine/za_271.html

http://www.altered-book.com/

http://www.alteredbookartists.com/gallery/index.html

http://www.centripetalnotion.com/2007/09/13/

http://www.portlandlibrary.com/programs/Altered.html

http://www.rockport.lib.me.us/outofBoundsAlteredBookProject.php

http://www.westportlibrary.org/specialevents/100th_birthday/alteredbooks.html

http://www.creativeartspaceforkids.org/children_art/kids_art_gallery/Altered-books/

http://www.rcs.k12.va.us/CSJH/ab_links.htm

http://www.userslib.com/2008/09/07/more-altered-books/

http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibit/freestylebooks/altered

http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/82891/

http://www.silvermoonstudios.com/Alteredbooks.html

http://www.jennysartspace.com/alteredbooks/index.html

http://www.ilovelibraries.org/news/libraryshowcase/altered.cfm

Monday, July 26, 2010

Let the water flow...

There have been *far too many to count* moments over the past few years in my professional life that the librarians in general (and perhaps me, in particular) have had to deal with...well, let's just say some unfairness.  I know we are not alone in this.  At one point or another we all have faced or will face (or maybe even continually face) obstacles that seem incredibly unfair. 

If you've read much of my blog you know that I have two simply amazing girls. The youngest is just a bit over 1 year and so we watch a lot of toddler shows at my house. With that being said, I have fallen a bit in love with the video posted.  We caught it on an episode of Jack's Big Music Show on Nick, Jr. (which, sadly, is no longer being made) and the little one loved it so much she danced the entire time.  My older one loves it because the star of the video is now in one of her favorite shows, Victorious (man, is this kid ever talented...he is flippin' amazing!)

Anyway, I decided to post this in the hopes that on those days that just feel like you're doing all you can to simply make it through; you've tied a knot and are just barely holding on, that perhaps this song will lift your spirits, too. 


Saturday, July 24, 2010

grrrr

Imagine my surprise when I checked my blog today to find that my background from "the cutest blog on the block" had been removed.  I have no idea what happened there, but it was quite unpleasant to find that my blog background had changed to plain black---making my words pretty much disappear.  Flippin' great. 

Now, I know there isn't any possible way for some blog-and-otherwise template creator site to let everyone who has ever used their creations know...Hey...we are deleting your choices...it might just wreck your work.  I get that.  But still...was a bit taken aback. 

So now here I sit, madly trying to fix my blog so it is at least readable with my now-angry 1 year old hitting my leg demanding that mama get off the dang computer.  She literally keeps pushing the slider thingy (that's techie speak for you uninformed) that holds the keyboard back into it's little hidey-hole.  Really lovely stuff. 

I have so many things to write about--we had to ship our computer off to be fixed (nope, it still isn't fixed, but we have custody of it this weekend anyway) and I felt lost as a goose.  I have read tons of books yet to be reviewed and am working on some library stuff (again with the techie speak--sorry!) that I'd love to share.  Maybe tonight when the wee one is asleep.

Until then,
Read on, gentle readers; read on.
Mrs. S

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

"Blood of my heart.
 Life of my life.
 Body of my body.
 Soul of my soul."

I just adore a wonderful Southern gothic novel.  There's something about the South--the languidness;
the history & humidity, I suppose, that has a certain je nais se quoi, if you will, for big stories.  Particularly for a novel that is rife with mystery and magic and painful regret.  Beautiful Creatures is just such a novel and I loved it even more than I supposed I would at first glance.

Gatlin, South Carolina is not a place where anything new happens...where much of anything at all happens, to tell the truth about it.  Ethan Wate has lived his whole life ready to blow out of town the first chance he gets.  He dreams of far-off universities and adventures around the globe.  His family has been here for generations. 

Lena Duchannes (rhymes with rain) doesn't just shake things up by moving into town to live with her reclusive, eccentric uncle--she forever changes Ethan's world when he realizes she is the girl of his dreams....literally.  There is a soul connection between the two that cannot be logically explained away or denied.  Of course, with Lena's family, that pretty much sums up, well, everything.

"There was a curse.
 There was a girl.
 And in the end, there was a grave."

Oh yes, there is much more than meets the eye in this seemingly placid Southern town. 

Lovely & intoxicating; lush & captivating--- this book is a must read.

You can visit the authors' website at: http://www.kamigarciamargaretstohl.com/.  And the official US fansite at http://castergirls.com/.
I can hardly wait for the sequel--Beautiful Darkness--due out in stores October 12th.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ah, the wisdom of the Old Spice guy...



'nuff said!
Read on, gentle readers; read on.
mrs. s

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge

Hathin is a member of the Lace, an ancient tribe of outcasts who wear constant smiles which show the glitter of their jeweled teeth.   She is the constant companion and caretaker of her sister Arilou, a member of the Lost---a group of people who have the ability to travel without their bodies and can, in fact, separate all their senses to experience different things at the same time.  For years their village has helped to hide signs that perhaps Arilou is not what she seems, and this ruse is threatened by the arrival of a set of Lost Inspectors. 

When the unthinkable happens and their village is destroyed Hathin knows it is up to her to save them  both.  She leads them to find a mysterious rogue group of Lace and begins her quest for vengeance by receiving the butterfly tattoo--the mark of the revengers. 

"Our enemies think that Lace make good victims and scapegoats.  They are wrong.  They think that they can strike at us and we will do nothing but scatter and hide.  They are wrong.

"You have been wronged beyond endurance by powerful foes, Hathin.  Pity them for not knowing what that means..."

This book is a gorgeous, lush, magical work.  It has lovely, rich characters and a haunting storyline; the stuff of dreams, and of nightmares.  Fraces Hardinge takes bits of many tribal cultures--their legends and  unique beliefs and weaves them together with a heaping dose of her own imagination to create a powerful story. 

I highly recommend this one, as well as her gorgeous Fly By Night novel.  For more information on s. Hardinge, you can visit her online at http://www.franceshardinge.com/.

Read on, gentle readers; read on.
s

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

just wondering...

I had an excellent Independence Day weekend as I got to read as my hubby drove on our way to visit family.  I have a stack of Lone Star hopefuls yet to tackle, but some of my recent reading has me wondering if I've really crossed that line.  You know, become, one of them.  Gotten O-L-D.

I've always been a believer in reading and in letting people choose what they wish to read.  I don't think of myself as a censor or a member of the dreaded reader police.  I am, however, a midde school librarian.  The patrons I serve are ages 11 to 16.  I have sweet little babies that come to me at age 11 as well as children who already have children of their own.  My patrons, my kiddos, my teachers run the gamut. 
With all that being said  I have noticed that when reading novels meant specifically for children (for that is, in fact, what they still are whether they like to think of themselves that way or not!) I NOTICE language and sexual situations more and more.  Not mild language, but F-bombs.  And I guess I'm really trying to figure out what I think about it all.  Apparently I'm not as bothered by violence in books for this age, but what can I say....not very European of me, is it? But then, I am not, in fact, European. 

Is this art imitating life?  Does life then imitate art?  Yes, yes, I KNOW they hear it in their music, in their movies, in the hallways.  Does that make it okay?  Even the kids themselves have told me it is more shocking to see it in a book than to hear it in a song.  They are already desensitized to it in music. 

The thing that gets me is that these are beautifully written, lovely books that I'm talking about---not trash by any means---that happen to have what I consider to be content that are for a mature audience.  If they were movies would these kids be allowed in without sneaking in? 

Any thoughts?

Read on, gentle readers; Read on!
s

Sunday, June 27, 2010

humor

Okay, okay....have many blonde friends in life, but even they can appreciate a good laugh now and again.  And you all know by now that I love me some library humor, right? 

Enjoy. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Tons of reading going on this summer, as usual.  I am always looking for books that I not only enjoy, but that I think my students will enjoy, as well.  One genre that I've loved since childhod is the fairy tale.  I suppose it is the mystery of magical beings and wishes come true that have always led me back to them.  I remember as a small kid I read and reread every fairy tale compilation that our public library owned.

The love of fairy tales has never left me, and while I do enjoy the 398.2 section of the library, I adore the new bunch of novelized fairy tales, Princess of Glass, among them. 

In this sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball (you don't have to read it first to totally get into this book), Jessica Day George spins a lovely retelling of the classic Cinderella story. 

Princess Poppy is sent on a political "royal exchange program" in a neighboring kingdom.  While there she meets a handsome young prince named Christian and a rather strange servant named Eleonora, and they all become intangled in a sinister magical plot by the evil godmother known as "The Corley". 

Filled with just the right amount of intrigue and romance, sprinkled with a liberl dose of magic, this book is a lovely read for those of you who also enjoy spending time in a world where wishes and magical dancing shoes really do exist. 

Read on, gentle readers; read on!
s

Monday, June 21, 2010

loose ends



Trying to finish up all my year-end library duties is not my most favorite task in the world.  In truth, by about mid-April I'm really ready to be fully into planning for next year--that's the fun stuff.  I try not to be aggravated about it; really I do, but there's just a little (okay, maybe not so little) part of me that wishes I could be like Samantha on Bewitched  and just wiggle my nose and be done with all the tasks that aren't at the top of my "Fun To Do" list.  Such as inventory.  And then the obligatory searching for all items that somehow got listed as missing, but are actually on the shelves (how DOES this keep happening?) 

My district no longer gives the librarians "extra" days to get these tasks accomplished, so I have been going up on Fridays and Saturdays (summer school the other days of the week going on in my library--we won't talk about that either) in order to tie up all these loose ends. 

We'll just keep it our secret that sometimes it is rather nice to have an entire room filled with quiet...the only noises are the ones I'm making and the soft beep of the scanner.  To have no one shouting "mama, I need..."  while the hubby takes care of the girls at home and I have a couple of hours of semi-blissful uninterrupted time!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rules to Rock By

I just read Rules to Rock By by Josh Farrar.  Finished it about 5 minutes ago.  LOVED it.  As my friend (and rocker) Teresa would say, this book

RAWWWKed. 

What do I LOVE about this book?  Well, for one, it has a great set of characters.  Not only do I feel like I know Annabelle (know her and wanted to be her when I was that age) but the supporting characters are real and full and glorious and flawed, as well.

After her parents ripped Annabelle's life apart by leaving Brooklyn everything wonderful about Annabelle disappeared.  Her abuela?  Still in Brooklyn.  Her band?  Still in Brooklyn. 

You get the picture. 

Her folks are indie rock artists in the band Benny and Joon who move to Rhode Island so they can afford to finish their latest album.  Only they seem to forget that they've never actually raised their kids---Abuela has always been there to do the real work on the homefront.  Now that they are on their own, the kids are eating pancakes made by the band's drummer most nights and left to struggle through their first days at a new school in a new town all by themselves.  Annabelle is determined to put together a new band to live out her rocker dreams while dealing with a new crowd of kids at school--none of whom seem especially friendly, and taking care of her kid brother, X. 

Figuring out her rules to rock by takes some work, but Annabelle gets the job done and definitely leaves us wanting more.  A few of her rules:

*rock stars don't jog.  They strut.
*Rock stars dare to dream.

Rock stars don't cry , either (not much, anyhow) but I love, love, love this passage from the book and needed to share it with you all:

Abuela had always been big on getting tears out of your system.  She said you needed to cry to put out the fires in your life, and that when you stopped you could take a look at what had burned down, and what hadn't.  So I just cried for a minute or two.  Abuela was probably the only person in the world who I'd let see me like that.  I knew it wouldn't change the way she looked at me, so it did't matter.  I just cried it out.


Okay, great passage--not the most rockin' passage in the book, but man, did it ever speak to me.  Thanks, Abuelita, for the great advice!

Josh Farrar has an interesting website--go visit it at:
http://www.rulestorockby.com/

You can read more about the book, watch a great book trailer (he just calls it a video--but that's what it is) and believe it or not, listen to some great music played by actual teen musicians playing as The Bungles, Annabelle's band (We Used to be Friends is my fave.)


The book isn't officially out until later this month (June 22nd according to amazon.com--click here to preorder)  but put this one on your "must read" list.  You can order the soundtrack, as well. 

And librarians looking for awesome middle school books for Teen Read Week--you've found one.  This year's theme Books with Beat @ your library, couldn't be more fitting!

I'll leave you with a pic of one of my own little rocker girls--notice the AC/DC onesie.  ;)


Read on, gentle readers; read on!
s

well then.

Feeling irritable today.  Perhaps its the loads of laundry yet to be folded and put away.  Or the millionth set of dishes yet to be washed.  Summer vacation is, in theory, an excellent thing.  This one just hasn't felt like vacation all that much, at least not yet. 

I've been doing a bit of planning for next year...trying to get my ducks in a row.  I've looked through LM_NET and TLC listserves and various and sundry blogs.  The world is filled with amazing ideas.  I mean, there are some really kickin' librarians out there doing incredible work.

It is as intimidating as it is inspiring. 

Man, I just wonder will I ever reach that point?  That point where I feel like yeah, I'm still learning, still growing and improving, but that I've pretty much made a positive mark on the planet? 

I suppose I do feel that way at times.  Perhaps just not when the laundry is calling incessantly.  ;)

Off to do more reading, reading, reading.  I LOVE being on the Lone Star committee--it is such an honor and a priviledge that I don't take for granted.  But, it is a ton of work as well. Thank goodness I love to read and I do it quickly!

More later-

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Payback Time

I was lucky enough to meet the fantastic Carl Deuker at TLA and pick up a copy of  this spring .  He is a thoroughly lovely individual.   So talented, yet so humble.  And do I ever admire the fact that he is able to find time to write his novels while still teaching 6th grade full time.  The man is an absolute wonder. 

I picked up an ARC for his newest work, Payback Time, and couldn't wait to read it---because to know Carl's work is to love Carl's work.  Payback Time is no exception, and may, in fact, be my new favorite of his. 

Daniel "Mitch" True is determined to be a famous reporter some day.  He wants to live in NYC and study at Columbia.  He wants to have his name known as a journalistic bigwig.  For now, though, Mitch is stuck at Abraham Lincoln High School in Seattle. 

After losing out on the editor's job of his school newspaper he realizes that perhaps head sports reporter isn't so bad.  After all, there is a chance of getting a byline in a real newspaper and kids mainly read the sports section of the school news anyhow.  Besides which...there is working with Kimi.  Kimi is the school's sports photographer, not to mention being both beautiful and brilliant.  Yeah, working with Kimi wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. 

While on assignment Mitch and Kimi begin to notice that something about the new kid on the football team just doesn't add up.  He has an amazing arm...when he thinks no one is looking.  He wants nothing to do with the rest of the team---or anyone else for that matter.  And so, the investigation begins.  What Mitch and Kimi uncover is unexpected and quite possibly dangerous for everyone involved.  You'll be amazed when....


Now, do I EVER give out all the goods on my book reviews?  Of course NOT.  I will include, however, for your reading pleasure,  a snippet I particularly like:

Once, when my dad and I were talking about college, he told me that I could major in anything I wanted as long as it wasn't philosophy.  "What's wrong with philosophy?" I asked.

"The logic part is useless," he said.  "People have never been and never will be logical."

 Now, go read the rest of it for yourself.  It comes out officially on September 6th and I can promise you it will take you on a thrilling ride filled with mystery and shocking secrets. 

And for me, hope.  Meeting Mr. Deuker really helped inspire me to find the time to write again.  This is something I struggle with, as it can be difficult to meld my dreams of writing with my real life time commitments.  I've heard so many authors talk about their amazing writing groups and how they structure their day and write for hours at a time.  That is great, except that I work full time (love my day job) and am a mom of two girls, a girl scout leader, a PTA board member....you know, my life is already full of real life obligations that I love, but make it difficult to find time to write.  So, thank you, Mr. Deuker.  You have inspired this librarian to remember her dreams of writing are important, too. 

Read on, gentle readers; read on.
Mrs. S

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Literary Gifts



bas bleu (French) [bɑ blø]
[Fr., blue stocking; bas, stocking, bleu, blue.]
A literary woman; a bluestocking

My Bas Bleu catalog arrived in the mail yesterday!  If you've never experienced this lovely catalog you simply must, must, must subscribe, or if you prefer...check out their online catalog.

While I do shop online (quite often actually) nothing compares to thumbing through a catalog, steaming mug of tea (or ice cold Diet Dr. Pepper--whatever your pleasure) in hand leisurely reading the witty snippets about each item.  This company is delightful and I feel like a better, smarter, more literary version of myself just perusing their offerings. 

My wish list is a bit ridiculous at this point.  I had a short conversation with my darling husband, who is a bit, well...gifting challenged ...and mentioned that I marked several items I liked should he ever feel the need to purchase a small gift for me.  One can hope.  I have also marked several items that would make perfect gifts for friends and family members who shall remain nameless as *hopefully* they are reading this post.  ;)

I'd love to share a few of my favorite things with you all.  Although there are no raindrops on roses, nor whiskers on kittens, perhaps you might come away with a few brown paper packages tied up with strings.

With images and words from their website; Enjoy!


"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" Board Game

#HG3312 $42.50



This is officially Bas Bleu’s favorite board game ever! The concept is simple: Your opponent reads you the first sentence(s) from a work of great literature—categories include children’s books, mysteries, nonfiction, novels, poetry, Shakespeare’s plays, and short stories—and you name the title and/or author. If you answer correctly, you get a cute little book token…collect eight and you win. The production value of “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” is top tier, from the wooden pawns and tokens to the “library card catalog” of clue cards. The difficulty of identifying the opening lines varies greatly, and we think giving clues makes the game more fun. For adults, two to four players or teams.

 (seriously, how awesome is that! although just between you and me I think I'd need to read the cards before playing the game--otherwise my lack of memorized knowledge could be a bit embarrassing)



Napoleon's Hemorrhoids: And Other Small Events That Changed History

Phil Mason
#UC9202 Hardcover, 253 pages; 2009 $22.95

This quirky collection of historical tidbits reveals how minor incidents can have momentous consequences. It’s a world of fascinating hypothetical contemplation. For example, what if the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna had accepted young Adolf Hitler’s application and he had become an artist or architect? And can you believe that heroin was created as a cold remedy and legally marketed as a wonder drug (starting a mass addiction in the process)? Sure to both amuse and amaze, Napoleon’s Hemorrhoids outlines all sorts of remarkably serendipitous—and disastrously unlucky—little occurrences that had big ramifications in the realms of politics, international relations, science, art, business, sports, and more. (CH)

(okay, so I'm a history buff as well...but the title alone makes me want to add this to my addiction, er...I mean collection of books)
 
Bag Ladies Novel Teas

#UC9842 $12.95

This handsomely packaged collection of twenty-five tea bags—with literary tags—invites you to “read ‘em and steep!” Each bag of tasty English Breakfast tea is adorned with a bookish quote from the likes of William Faulkner, C. S. Lewis, and Dr. Seuss. What a warm and witty way to add a little literary flair to every day! The box makes a great gift, too, for all your tea-sipping, book-loving friends.

(read 'em and steep...I love that!  See what I mean...witty!)




William and the Magic Ring: A Shadow Casting Bedtime Story

Laura Robinson
Illustrated by Laura Robinson and Suzanne Simson
#UC8412 Spiralbound, 32 pages; 1998 $19.95


Cuddle up tight for this one! You and your little one will have a delightfully spooky time with William and the Magic Ring. Just shine the powerful little flashlight (provided) on the laser-cut illustrations to cast cool spectral silhouettes on the bedroom wall. The eerie story, written in verse, is about facing your fears—but, rest assured, William inspires bravery and his adventure has a safe and happy ending! This gorgeously produced, enchantingly entertaining book really is a special treasure. For ages 4 and up. (CH)

(lovely, and I'm not altogether sure if I want it more for my daughter or for myself)
 
Be sure to check out this company. They have fabulous finds for literary friends of all ages. 
 
Read on, gentle readers; read on & shop. ;)
s

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

ch-ch-ch-changes


I am L-O-V-I-N' these summertime changes in my schedule.  It is fantabulous not to be rushing around like crazy each morning trying to get everyone ready for school (all in different buildings, mind you) and this more zen-like start to our day makes all the difference.

Well, for the most part. I mean, there are still plenty of blurry-eyed mornings when the baby decides that 6:00 is a perfectly acceptable time to greet the morning and I live on coffee, but I digress...

Now that I've had a full week off from school I feel refreshed enough to begin planning for next year's changes in earnest.  Giddiness ensues!


I love new beginnings and I suppose that is one reason that I love being a teacher-librarian so much.  At the end of every year I get to evaluate it, ponder and dream, and then make ch-ch-ch-changes for the year to come.  What deliciousness to be able to start fresh each August!

This will mark our third year doing the One Book, One School program and our new selection is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I really debated on whether or not to pick it just because as a former Lone Star title many of my kids have read it already.  Read it and LOVED it.  Read it and became FANATICAL followers of the series.  I took an impromptu survey of several kids I knew read it and they all basically foamed at the mouth with excitement over the thought of reading it as our school novel this year.  Well, all except the 8th graders--many of whom gave me  the stink eye since they are moving on to high school and won't be able to participate.  ;) 

And the change for the program? 

Well, other than the book itself we are not booking the fabu Mrs. Suzanne Collins to be a visiting author, as she doesn't do school visits.  Instead, we are "borrowing" an idea mentioned on the ever-so-amazing librarian list-serve LM_NET and hosting an actual HUNGER GAMES DAY!!!  I am beyond excited to make this happen! Rest assured pics & info will be posted.

Other changes in the air? 

One major change will be having a new principal on board.  I've only met him once, but I think he'll be fantastic.  And, as my retiring principal said to me in our end-of-year-evaluation conference--I plan on "getting ahold of him and indoctrinating him" in order to ensure that he understands what utter fabulousness a great library (and, ahem, librarian) can bring to the school. 

I will also be reworking the reference section.  You could also read that as "undoing" the reference section.  There simply isn't a need for it anymore and I have mounds of space that could be put to good use if those old tomes are put to pasture.  Some librarians have some guilt about weeding.  Not I, said the little red hen. :)

Going to attempt to rally the troops again this year to form a really strong League of Librarians (league of Just-us?...sorry, it's the Batgirl in me) to improve our collective mind.

Oh, and there's just so much more I have in store.  Including, apparently, being a poet.  ;)

More later,
always remember and never forget to read on, gentle readers; read on!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson


I've posted recently about the mounds of vampire fiction hitting the scene lately--not a complaint, mind you, just a fact.  I'm  at least a moderate fan of most of it---but my husband just can't stomach the thought of nice vampires.  We've had ---may I point out---ridiculous discussions on how that wouldn't happen "in real life".  Um, yeah, babe....no kidding.  I'm sure vampires wouldn't be particularly chummy in real life. 
Vampire Rising is a vampire book for boys (although girls will love it too) and I LOVE that we finally have one on the scene. 

Alex Van Helsing is a 14-year-old recently sent to boarding school in Switzerland.  Yeah, he's heard the stories related to his name his whole life, but he knows thats just fiction.  Right?  After a couple of very strange incounters with what could only be described as otherworldly opponents he begins to wonder.  He does, of course, find out that he is indeed a part of the legacy that the world thinks of as only fiction---he is a vampire hunter.

And these vampires aren't nice or vegan or friendly.  The action is kickin' and will keep you on the edge of your seat.  I love the twist thrown in at the end, by the way; and the literary references make this librarian's heart sing. 

This is Jason Henderson's first novel for teens---and I'm happy to give big props to this Texas author for delivering a thrilling ride!  I look forward to the next installment.

You can check out more about Jason at: http://www.alexvanhelsing.com/

Thursday, June 3, 2010

GaGa over Libraries

Summertime, and the living's easy...

well, maybe not easy, but I can at least access Youtube from home during the day since I'm not at school (love my job, just sayin') and find amazing videos to enjoy.  As I mentioned on my FB account yesterday I am a huge fan of library cheeze.  Yes, with a "z".  Here is a prime example, and I adore it. 

Add some GaGa to the Cheeze and you just really can't go wrong, can you? 


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

chaos

the baby is napping her late afternoon nap (early evening?  whatev.) and I really SHOULD be cleaning house.  Seriously.

my world is kind of chaotic right now.

and has been for about 2 years.  Yes, I said 2 YEARS.  grad school while working full time, reading voraciously and attempting to maintain some family life will do that to you.  Add a new baby to the mix (born in the middle of my 15 day comps window, no less) and, well, you see why my life is chaos.

My house has lots of stash and dash leftovers that I meant to get to.  Really.
My car, too.

But, summertime is here, thank goodness, which means it is time for me to seriously clear out the clutter and get reorganized so I can regain my mojo. 

That's right,
chaos has eaten a bit of my mojo

I want to write, to create, to read, to scrapbook, to dig into my geneology, to play with my girls, to bake, to excercise (um, I like to eat what I bake!) and then there's just the necessary time to be.

to breathe deeply.
to feel peaceful serenity.

hard to do in my current state. 

Off to clear the chaos. 

Read on, gentle readers, read on!
s

image from: http://www.megamohr.de/Chaos_preload.htm

The Bronte Sisters

found on Youtube--but created long before! I love this video--not only because I love the Bronte sisters, but also because it takes me back to the 70's toy commercials from my childhood. Sheer Genius!



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Creatures of the Night

Apparently I have been on an otherworldly creature kick as far as my YA reading goes.  Vampire novels are, of course, nothing new, but the sheer amount of them as at least tripled lately.  So, here are my latest forays into the genre.

The Evernight Series by Claudia Gray


And, Sucks to be me : the all-true confessions of Mina Hamilton, teen vampire (maybe) by Kimberly Pauley.

All of them are quite diverting reads.  In each case, interestingly enough, teenage girls must make the decision whether or not to become a "full" vampire, and both of them have parents who already are. 
I must admit that reading these books are great fun, but there is just a little part of me that remains slightly irritated that I didn't write the storyline I came up with a few years back.  See it was gonna take place at a very elite boarding school with a few scholarship townies invited in for dinner.  Sound familiar? 
I guess there's nothing new under the sun...um...or, the moon, as it were.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Yep, Batgirl was a Librarian

I've written on this topic before, but it defnitely bears repeating.  Batgirl was a librarian.  She was a butt-kicking superhero with amazing skills.  ( for my incredibly fantastic epistle on the subject check follow this link!)

Which brings to mind the age-old question.  (okay, maybe not age-old, but one I certainly wonder about a lot)  If you had any superpower, what would it be?

I never waver on my answer.  I would have the ability to stop time around me.  That way I could read or nap without taking away from my family or work time.  I could get all the books put in order, or scrapbook, or take a long hot bubble bath and never miss a beat with my kiddos---the ones at school and at home.


Since I wasn't born with this ability it looks like I'll need to start scouting out unguarded vats of some creepy radioactive goo in order to gain my rightful superpowers.  I"ll keep you posted on the results.


Vampires have cool superpowers, too, but that whole "undead" thing kinda unhinges me.  Oh, and I prefer to have a soul, but that's just me.  Wiches?  Voodoo Priestesses?  Too messy. 


I think I'll just stick to superheroes.