Thursday, June 23, 2016

Library GrabBag: #TeenTalk June 2016

It's time for another #TeenTalk!  This month Jessica and I book talked 6 books we think you should pick up this summer at your local library :)  I'm betting your local library has a summer reading program as well...you should check it out!


(This still makes me look totally crazy.  I'm only sort of totally crazy...)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

Now this week's list was a breeze :)  Doesn't hurt that I keep track of my reading in Goodreads and in a spreadsheet (cause I'm that kind of book nerd).  I've read some amazing titles (and not so amazing) the first half of this year, and I can't wait to see what I'll enjoy in late summer and fall.

What's on your list?  Happy reading!

By Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton
By Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristof

By Melissa Landers

By Maggie Stiefvater

5) Dumplin'
By Julie Murphy

By Cindy Anstey

By Ruta Sepetys

By Lisa Maxwell
By Sabaa Tahir

10) Hellohole
By Gina Damico
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Monday, June 20, 2016

My Lady Jane

Author: Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton
Info: HarperTeen, copyright 2016, 512 pages

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey.  In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history - because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne.  But those trifling problems aren't for Jane to worry about.  Jane gets to be Queen of England.

~Goodreads Description

I'm going to attempt to keep my gushing to a minimum.  I'm going to fail, but dear readers, at least I've tried.  This book.  THIS BOOK!  I've had my eye on this beauty for months and finally got my hands on the copy from my local library.  Okay.  Confession.  I basically bribed our cataloguer to move this to the top of the stack of books to prep for shelving so that I could read it first.  I'm selfish.  A selfish, selfish librarian.

It's the story of Lady Jane Grey, but not.  It's really The Princess Bride meets Lady Jane meets Ladyhawke.  Brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant.  Lady Jane is the king's cousin.  The king is sick, believed to be dying.  The king's advisor comes up with a scheme to put his son on the throne, persuading His Majesty to marry Jane with said son in preparation of His Royal Highnesses untimely demise.  There is scheming, and contriving, and marrying, and unexpectedly the magic of transformation as humans become any number of animals.  Sounds weird, but it really is as brilliant as I mentioned earlier.

The story is supported by a narrator...or narrators, the hilarious voice of our talented authors who break in from time to time to clear up some misconceptions about history and the conundrum of ropes.  There are also quite a few parenthetical sidenotes (and we all know how much I LOVE a good parenthetical sidenote!) that add humor and fun details.  The dialogue is quick and witty, the character development is spot on even with the bouncing around of perspectives between His Majesty (King Edward Tudor), Lady Jane, and Gifford (her gallant steed of a husband).  And the books is loaded with fun pop culture references, especially from The Princess Bride which is only the most excellent movie of all time.

I shrieked, I giggled, I cheered, I shared quotes ad nauseam to my reading buddy Jessica, and I planned on rushing to the nearest bookstore to get my own copy.  But wait, dear reader, I didn't have to because it was in this months #Uppercasebox!  What?!  I now own a signed copy of this book?!  It was a good day.  A really good day.

There's history you know, and lots of history that didn't happen (but totally should have).  There's magic and mayhem and a whole ton of genius.  You should run and get a copy.  Seriously.  Run.  Stop reading, get on your bike, the bus, whatever, and go get a copy today.  You won't be disappointed.  And if you are, I'm sorry for you.






 

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Johnstown Flood

The Johnstown FloodAuthor: David McCullough, Edward Herrmann (Narrator)
Info: Simon & Schuster, copyright 2005 ?, 302 pages

At the end of the last century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation's burgeoning industrial prosperity.  In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clak Frick, and Andrew Mellon.  Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was more about the dam.  Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johsntown, and killing more than 2,000 people.  It was a tragedy that became a national scandal.

~Goodreads Description

I've been itching to listen to another nonfiction audiobook, and with all the talk of new Gilmore Girls episodes hitting Netflix soonish, I really wanted an audiobook read by Edward Herrmann.  Which naturally led me back to David McCullough and finally to The Johnstown Flood.  Yes.  That's how my reading mind works when I'm not distracted by "OOO!  Shiny, pretty cover!"

As narratives go, McCullough knows how to tell a story.  It's a history lesson in the context of the lives of the people in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  He sets a stage, paints a picture, and then the catastrophe hits.  Only through providing context do you full understand the impact the the flood had on the area and why it was so controversial.

And it was.  Pennsylvania "big-wigs" want a place to summer and get back to nature.  "Big-wigs" build a dam to create a lake that they can fish in during the summer.  Dam isn't stable.  Down comes the rain and tragedy strikes.  Lives were lost that shouldn't have been lost.  It's a story about progress, industrialization, a flawed social hierarchy, and a beautiful town on the rise that was brutally washed away.

A fellow librarian, and history buff, said she made the trek to Johnstown on a family vacation.  While the kids weren't initially interested, they couldn't help but spout information they had gleaned from this historical markers they passed along the way.  That reminded me a lot of my family vacations which almost always include a stop at a historical monument of some sort.  I don't remember all of the details that I read on plaques and in museums, but I remember feeling thankful that my family respected history enough to take time, to embrace it and share it.  Hopefully one day I'll find my way to Johnstown - maybe on the same trip that I make my way back to Kitty Hawk to revisit the awesomeness of what the Wright brothers accomplished.



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Library GrabBag: Olympica Palooza #2 (South America)

This week in the Teen Room we explored South & Central America.  (Disclaimer: I was on vacation this week, so all the heavy lifting was left to Jessica (a.k.a Book Plots and Polka Dots)...you might have heard me talk about her a time or two.

As we determined last week - it's best to keep it simple for our Summer Camp crew and add some extras for our teens during the late afternoon, so we only prepped two activities for the early group.  I've marked those below.

Here was the game plan (with pictures this week!  Way to go Jessica!):

1) Scavenger Hunt - Each student was provided a scavenger hunt that was basically a fill in the blank exercise.  On each activity table was a sign that included a short blurb on the history/culture significance of what they would be completing.  The fill-in the blanks were tied directly to those short blurbs, the idea being - got to each table, complete the activity, read the sign, fill in the blanks.  -

Olympic-Palooza #2 (South America) Signs
Olympic-Palooza #2 (South America) Scavenger Hunt



2) ojo de Dios - A super easy craft that let us utilize supplies we already had on hand (thanks to our wonderful Children's Department and their craft cabinets).  In fact, both crafts this week didn't cost us a cent, and chances are you might have some of these items in your closets as well.

ojo de Dios are a Central America, specifically Mexican, religious offering that is also referred to as a Huichol cross.  All you need are some popsicle sticks and a little yarn.  I made a sample before the event and found the crafting process quite relaxing :)


3) Incan Masks (Summer Camp activity) - Talk about easy.  Jessica printed off Incan mask templates, our teen volunteers prepped 5x7 inch pieces of aluminum foil, and each participant was given a piece of cardstock and a pen.


4) Parque (Summer Camp activity) - Parques should probably look a little familiar.  It' plays a LOT like Sorry! which is kind of awesome since it's a game most kids are familiar with.  It's often found in Colombia, but boards may vary according to local variations.  We created our own Parques boards and printed them off.


5) Book Tasting - This is something we've started to adding to all of our teen programs as a way to introduce teens to new books to read.  Here's my blog post with a full explanation of the activity (Library GrabBag: Tickle Your Tastebuds with a Book Tasting).

Olympic-Palooza #2 (South America) Book Tasting Menu

6) Language Challenge - And finally we had a language challenge, in the hopes of showing participants about the diversity in cultures.  Participants were tasked with matching the Portuguese, Dutch, and Quechua words to the English "Hello", "Sorry", and "Thank You".  We used our magnetic wall board to make it easy to move the papers around until they go the right combination.


If you missed our Olympic-Palooza #1 (North America) activities you can find the blog post here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Girl From Everywhere

Author: Heidi Heillig
Info: Greenwillow Books, copyright 2016, 443 pages

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father's ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long her her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth -century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa.  Along the way they have found cremates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix's mother.  Even through getting it - and going there - could erase Nix's very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, and her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

~Goodreads Description

The first line of the description really grabbed me, "sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination."  Disappointingly, in this series starter, you get to experience very, very little of that journey.

Basic summary - Nix's father's, Captain Slate, has the ability to navigate to any time and place if he has access to a legitimate map.  What he wants most in the world is to return to nineteenth-century Hawaii, to a time when his wife is still alive.  Nix wants to escape the tense relationship she shares with her father and a life subject to his whims and obsession.  When the Captain is approached with a map, he must decide if the price he is being asked to pay is worth the chance to see his wife again.

Seriously.  I wanted to LOVE this book.  Time travel + pirates should have equaled a book that would end up on my own personal shelf.  I wanted more and didn't get it.  The characters were flat and boring which didn't help the slow plot.  It's not that I disliked Nix, but there's was nothing really to like about her.  She lacked personality, or at least the type of personality the main character needs to draw you in.  I felt the same way about the Captain.  The ending left you unsatisfied compared to what little you were told about him throughout the book.  I found myself wishing the story was really about Kashmir, the charismatic thief who had the potential to be interesting.

They took too few trips on their magical boat with their magical maps, and we were given too few glimpses of the adventures  they had gone on before.  

Hawaii was cool though.  I wouldn't have minded a little more traditional folklore and historical background.  And the cover is beautiful.  Took me far too long to see the face in the water, but the blue wave and red ship against the black background is gorgeous.

Not sure I'll take the time to see what happens in additional installments.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

10 Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2016

10 Most Anticipated Releases for the 
Second Half of 2016
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I'm still working my way through the books I was anticipating at the beginning of the year, but there are several I have my eye on and can't wait to get ahold of.


Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)
1) Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kirstoff
Release Date: October 18th
Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna's social life.  Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

Timekeeper (Timekeeper, #1)
2) Timekeeper by Tara Sim
Release Date: November 1st
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time-and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

Dead Girls Society
3) Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys
Release Date: November 8th
You are cordially invited to participate in a game of thrills and dares.  Tell no one, and come alone.  If you dare.

Heartless
4) Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: November 8th
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland - the infamous Queen of Hearts - she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

The Lost Property Office
5) The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal
Release Date: November 8th
Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things.  Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again.  If only he could find his father, who has disappeared without a trace.

This Is Our Story
6) This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Release Date: November 12th
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point.  Five boys went hunting.  Four came back.   The boys won't say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any of them...

Three Dark Crowns (Untitled, #1)
7) Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake 
Release Date: September 20th
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown, and each possessor of a coveted magic.

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)
8) A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: August 30th
A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia's brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison.

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)
9) Nevernight by Jay Kristof
Release Date: August 11th
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the power who destroyed her family.

Wax
10) Wax by Gina Damico
Release Date: August 2nd
Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as the home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory.  But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark nd unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady.

What's on your list?

Happy reading!


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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Library GrabBag: Olympic-Palooza #1 (North America)

Ahhh.  Summer reading has officially begun at my library.  Yesterday marked the first day of our programming schedule, and I think it's going to be a busy, crazy pants of a summer (in the best way possible).  I also think we need to make a few adjustments.  Things were learned yesterday.  Chaos ensued.  And now we regroup.

We are very fortunate to be able to partner for a day each week with our local Parks & Recreation department to program for the summer day camp they offer during the summer.  (Alas, our Parks & Rec group isn't anything like in the fictionally fantastic Pawnee, Indiana.  If only there were a Ron Swanson.  Sigh.  Anyhoo, partnering means we get to program for over 80 kids which is quite a feat.  The Children's Department tackled the larger (younger) group, and Teen Services prepared programs for the slightly smaller (older) group.

Our summer reading theme this year is "Reading Olympics," and we thought it would be cool to travel the world with our teens and introduce them to a variety of crafts and games from countries that will be participating in this year's summer Olympics.  Our first continent was North America (which we extended to include Central America for some variety).  Our activities were solid.  We planned on programming from 1-2pm with the camp and then resetting for our usual teen programming from 3-5pm.

Our 3-5pm participants rocked.  They laughed.  They crafted.  They stayed on point.

The 1-2pm campers...well, things got interesting, and that's where we'll need to adjust.  In all fairness, we had NO idea what to expect.  And not that we don't have experience programming with a younger crowd, it was just quite obvious very quickly that this was not a library-using crowd which changes the game just a bit.  Next week, the campers will only be getting 2 of the 6 activities, leaving a little space for them just to be kind of weird and goofy, cause that's definitely what they are :)

Jessica and I signed each participant up for the summer reading program at the beginning, while two very brave Teen Advisory Board members monitored the activities.  The idea is that each week when the campers come in, they can log their reading hours and check out new books along with completing some fun activities.  Luckily, next time, we won't both be occupied at the computer and will be able to give the TAB members a little more assistance which they needed.  Adjustments, dear readers.  Always adjustments.

Here was the game plan (and please forgive the lack of pictures with actual participants which I just realized we did not take - fail.  Epic, epic fail):

1) Scavenger Hunt - Each student was provided a scavenger hunt that was basically a fill in the blank exercise.  On each activity table was a sign that included a short blurb on the history/culture significance of what they would be completing.  The fill-in the blanks were tied directly to those short blurbs, the idea being - got to each table, complete the activity, read the sign, fill in the blanks.

On our last programming day in July we'll host "The Amazing Race Olympics" where they'll use some of the info they've gathered at each Tuesday event to complete the race.  The more attention you pay each week to the signs, the faster your race time will be.

Olympic-Palooza #1 (North America) Signs
Olympic-Palooza #1 (North America) Scavenger Hunt

2) String Art - We purchased foam board from Dollar Tree (we bought 10/used 5), small beading/sequins pins from Hobby Lobby (800 per box for $3.99), and a package of neon embroidery thread (24 skeins/$4.99) from Hobby Lobby as well.  The extra materials can easily be used for a program this fall or to put in a maker kit for a drop-in project anytime.  We provided each participant with a piece of foam board, string, pins, and an outline of the state of Indiana.  We were going to do the out of North America, but since it's also Indiana's Bicentennial, we thought we'd go local.

Campers had no idea what was happening.  Teen group later in the day had a blast.



3) Totem Poles - We ordered some small (3in x 8in) cardboard boxes on Amazon (100 boxes/$19.99).  Each participant decorated the edges of the boxes to represent either themselves or their family.  The goal was to collect each of those, stack them, and create a totem pole to display in the Teen Room this summer.



4) Kuna Mola Art - Originating in Panama, Kuna Mola art is usually found in textiles, but we used black construction paper and bright tissue paper to make colorful designs.

5) Hockey - When you think of Canada, well, a lot of things come to mind, but usually you end up at hockey at some point in the though process.  We used pool noodles, cones, and soft, small dodgeballs and let participants "shoot" on goal.

6) Book Tasting - This is something we've started to adding to all of our teen programs as a way to introduce teens to new books to read.  Here's my blog post with a full explanation of the activity (Library GrabBag: Tickle Your Tastebuds with a Book Tasting).

Olympic-Palooza #1 (North America) Book Tasting Menu

7) Language Challenge - And finally we had a language challenge, in the hopes of showing participants about the diversity in cultures.  Participants were tasked with matching the French, Spanish, and Inuktitut words to the English "Hello", "Sorry", and "Thank You".  We used our magnetic wall board to make it easy to move the papers around until they go the right combination.

Overall an excellent day.  Ultimately the cool thing about the summer camp is that we're introducing new kids to the library so that they can see we are far more than just a building of books.  It's also about relationship.  They'll get to know us a bit this summer, and then when, hopefully, they come in during their middle school years, they'll be comfortable visiting.  And they'll be reading this summer, keeping their brains fresh and moving until school starts at the end of July.
 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

10 Reasons I Love...Can you guess??

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love...
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

According to the little blurb on The Broke and the Bookish about today's Top Ten Tuesday, I can talk about whatever I want.  Hmmm... At first I considered getting all soap-boxy and discussing why I love my local library.  But it felt a little self-serving since I'm a librarian at my local library.  Pat yourself on the back why don't you...

Then I thought about gushing ad-nausea about one of my favorite TV shows, but a girl can only talk about Peaky Blinders for so long before she just gets annoying.

So I narrowed the possible topics to five - 10 Reasons I love 1) Disney movies, 2) Gnomes (Book Plots & Polka Dots suggestion) 3) Space fiction, 4) Zachary Levi, and 5) Popcorn.  The decision was hard, because I do, in fact, love all of these things.  But I started the process of elimination anyways.

Disney movie infatuation isn't uncommon.  Many a child of the 80s and 90s grew up watching the animated wonders and can sing the songs by heart.  I've also blogged about my trips to Disney World, so the discussion has already happened.

Then there were gnomes.  And I LOVE gnomes.  I'm not weird about it, I promise.  Sure,  I occasionally take my favorite gnome on road trips with me, but that's not really that weird.  People take Flat Stanley everywhere...same thing.  Mike gets enough love on this here blog, so I'm going to put him on the shelf for another day.

Zachary Levi.  Sigh.  Oh, Zachary Levi.  I'm only eliminating him because of that "weird" factor.  Or creepy.  We're going to go with weird.  I am determinedly not creepy.  He is fabulous and adorable and talented and I'll just leave it there (and strongly encourage you to watch Chuck on Netflix.  You won't regret it.)

And then there was popcorn, which just happens to be my lazy girl go-to dining option.  As fellow librarian Aubrey so wisely puts it...popcorn is corn + corn is a vegetable = a healthy meal.  While the reasons  I love it would probably just be a listing of flavors and toppings, I'll forgo that conversation as well.

Which leads me, by process of elimination, to SPACE FICTION!  Finally, you're probably thinking, she's going to get to the list!  Well, yes.  Yes I am.  And hopefully you're still reading after all of that :)

10 Reasons Why I Love Space Fiction
(Which is kind of a total cop-out saying "Space Fiction" so that I can discuss TV and movies along with books!)

Image result for arthur dent
1) Adventurous Characters
You don't go into space unless you believe you can survive in space (unless you're Arthur Dent or the crew from Galaxy Quest who didn't really plan on going to space.  They survived relatively well despite uncouth traveling companions and ridiculously dreary odds.)  Space fiction characters, for the most part, are daring, courageous creatures who dive head first into adventure.

2) Unfamiliar Settings
Even the most fantastical fantasy has elements that are familiar to us mere humans (or at least to this mere human).  I've walked through forests, camped outside around a fire, and "climbed" mountains (comparing myself, of course, to the Fellowship on their way to destroy the one ring :) But I've never, and will never (because doing so would be a poor life choice according to Gravity) go into space.  I have to use my imagination since I don't know what the darkness of the galaxy really looks like, or what it feels like to explore Serenity or the U.S.S. Enterprise.

3) Excitement of Exploration
I don't really consider myself an explorer.  Not sure I have the constitution to travel into unknown territories, but I like to believe, that if I really did have the chance, I would "explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations boldly go where no man has gone before."


4) Strange Mix of Hopeful and Depressing
I've not come across a space fiction that was all sunshine and rainbows.  While, by definition, human life surviving in space and moving easily throughout the galaxy, is fairly hopeful, it's also dark and grimy and horrifying.  A strange mix of hopeful and depressing, and I love it.


5) Space gear
Not all space gear is high-tech and awesomene
ss.  The Zenith in Melissa Lander's Starflight reminds me more of a dirty pirate ship than a super snazzy spacecraft.  But then I think if Ernest Cline's Armada with manned ships that can easily land on earth or the Bridge in any Star Trek series and I want to go there.

6) Quick travels
Everyone just seems to get everywhere a little quicker in space.  And when it does take a long time, they do the deep sleep thing and wake up where they are supposed to be.  Very convenient.

7) Aliens
Because aliens are cool.  All aliens.  Funny aliens like the rock stars in Chris McCoy's The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion or scary/not so scary bugs in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game - they're all cool.  Even crazy teacher aliens who want to steal human babies to repopulate the world in Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal.  SO totally cool.

8) Strong-independent females
I've not come across an space fiction that didn't include a strong, independent, no-nonsense girl, like Celeste from Mindee Arnett's Avalon, or Kady in Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof, or even Ripley from the Alien franchise.  Not always smart, but always stubborn and fierce and driven.

9) Danger with a sense of humor
Come on.  I mean, Firefly.  Hilarious and dangerous, all wrapped up into perfect series.  There's a reality that you're more than likely going to die if you go into space, so you'd better know how to laugh.  Mark Watney sure knew how to laugh in The Martian.

10) Endless Possibility
I know there is a decent amount of space fiction out there, but it feels like there is so much left to cover, so many other adventures to be had.  We're only limited by our imagination.  Galaxies of our own creation, new life, new experiences, all within the realm of human existence and behavior.  Can't wait to see what's out there.

Did I drop enough title/author combos? I have a few more on my list to read this year.

What do you love?

Happy reading!

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