Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh my Darling Blog, How I Have Neglected Thee!

Now that I live in the world of School Librarianship, there is little time for personal blogging.  I have a school blog which I update weekly but my poor Medicine for the Soul has been neglected.  

However, I have bronchitis and, therefore, a forced moment to relax, I want to check in and talk about some of the wonderful resources I have discovered since I began teaching:

Storyline Online:  

Want to present a story to students using your interactive whiteboard?  Hosted by the Screen Actors' Guild, Storyline Online features various celebrities reading a plethora of picture books- online for you.  These are famous titles like Harry the Dirty Dog and Rainbow Fish, being read by famous people like Betty White and Ernest Borgnine!  With my K-2 students, I seat them in front of my Promethean Board just like it is storytime.  My 3rd-5th graders have to access the site themselves, and then take notes on the story.  Who is the main character?  What is the main idea?  What was the conflict and resolution?  This is an excellent resource for getting students engaged in reading.  

World of Tales:  
Hosted by a young Bulgarian man named "Viktor" who simply loved the old tales and wanted to make a website about them, World of Tales is an excellent resource for Folk Tales, Fables, and Fairy Tales.  Viktor took most of his content from Project Gutenberg and some are his own translations.  On his site you can read, listen to, and in a few cases even watch stories online.  There are hours worth of discoveries to be made.  I used this site with my 3rd - 5th graders as the independent practice portion of a Folk Tales lesson.  My only caveat is that Viktor doesn't list his credentials on the site- so be sure to check other sources before using World of Tales for research purposes.  

Read, Write, Think

I know pretty much every educator is aware of this website.  I just want to reiterate what a life saver it is!  As the Library Media Specialist for a K-9 (soon to be K-12) school- you can imagine I have a LOT of lesson plans to write each week.  I teach K-5 Information Literacy, Middle School Computer Applications, and High School Research.  Sometimes, I just want to have it all done for me!  This website has helped me enormously with standards based content complete with rubric and handouts.  I highly recommend it!!!

Well....that's it for now.  I have a new copy of School Library Journal to read and some Goodreads reviews to update while I get over this yucky sickness.  I hope to check in again soon to report any new educational library discoveries I make.  In the meantime, keep reading to your children!

Friday, November 11, 2011

We Give Books!

Now that I am a School Librarian, I am always looking for ways to marry traditional library lessons with technology.  I recently discovered an excellent resource that gives me access to entire books online AND donates books to different charity campaigns.  The website is called We Give Books  and it is run by the philanthropic arm of the Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation. 

The campaign I have chosen to donate to is LitWorld, which brings books to the children of the Navajo Nation.  Every time I read my students one of the online books in the We Give Books library, I click on Give a Book.  The site then sends a book to my campaign.  It is simple and simply wonderful!  I encourage all of you to sign up and help out this admirable cause!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Daughter's Booktrailer!

My 11 year old daughter was watching me work on the book trailers and she was inspired to create her own.  Here is her book trailer for Laini Taylor's Blackbringer:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Trailers

My new position as the School Library Media Specialist at a wonderful new school in my area has been life-consuming but fabulous.  I am building a library from the ground up, defining my role in the school community, and proving to be a vital asset to the school.  I LOVE it. 

What I don't love is neglecting my blog!! 

So, I am going to share some of what I have been working on with my students. 

In my Middle School Computer Applications class, we have been working on making book trailers.  FYI, if you have switched to Windows 7 in your school- Photo Story 3 will NOT work with your operating system.  We had wanted to use Photo Story 3 but had to change our plans.  Instead, we used a handy little program called AnimotoAnimoto is incredibly user-friendly but doesn't allow for as many effects as Photo Story does.  Here is the book trailer example I made for my class so they could become familiar with the program:

The students are finishing up their trailers this week.  Next week, we are going to create another book trailer, this time using Windows Movie Maker.  I hope to have the students write up a short paper comparing the two programs and defending their preferred program. 

In my Advanced Research Practices class, we have been learning all the key elements to Research Paper writing.  Using the blessedly wonderful OWL at Purdue I have introduced the differences between APA and MLA styles.  Today we are going to really break down the research paper process by working through each important step. 

 in the media center is good!  I am missing my work with the K-5th graders...right now I am teaching them computers, but soon I will be functioning as their librarian.  (As soon as I get this library up and running.)  All of what I am doing is making me a better Teacher-Librarian.  I am so grateful!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Heart Cassandra Clare Again!

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading Clockwork Angel, I knew I was hooked on Cassandra Clare. While waiting for her to write the second Infernal Devices novel, I thought I'd start the Mortal Instruments series. At first I was a little sad to be leaving Victorian England for modern New York City- but that soon passed. Clare did NOT disappoint! What I love most about Clare is her ability to blindside me with her plot twists. I am usually rather good at predicting plot- and she is able to keep me guessing.

This series, as I mentioned, takes place in the present in NYC. Clarissa Fray and her best friend Simon decide to go out clubbing one night at a place called the Pandemonium Club (hmmm...)and there Clary's eyes are opened to a world she never knew existed. This world of demons, vampires, werewolves, nephilim, faeries, etc. has nothing to do with her, right? So...why can she she what most mundanes(humans)cannot?

I listened to this novel excellently performed by Ari Graynor.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 4, 2011

More Websites for Kids!

Parents and Teachers!  Check out the updates to my Websites for Kids page on this blog.  If your children or students have some down time and want to "play" on the computer- send them here!  The list is safe, educational, and will provide plenty of fun for rainy days.  There will never be a reason to hear them say...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Finally a Library in the Making!

For those of you who follow my blog, you know I took a position at a brand new school that didn't plan for a library.  I was hired as a Technology Media teacher but I have pushed my library agenda everyday.  Today I found out that not only will I be getting Destiny Circulation Software but I have a budget to order books!  Combine that with the hundreds of books the parents have donated, and we are going to have a nice beginning library!  It is sooooo much fun to be building a library program from scratch!  I promise I will keep you posted as things progress! 

Passion by Lauren Kate

PassionPassion by Lauren Kate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book #3 in the Fallen series is much different than the others. In this novel Luce and Daniel make their way through time trying to figure out how to stop the cycle of love and death that plagues them.

I know book #4 is going to be amazing and that book #3 is essential- but it leaves you COMPLETELY WANTING BOOK 4 TO COME OUT!

I found this read to be frustrating for two reasons. 1. Luce and Daniel keep missing one another- by a second. 2. Kate depicts God as an egomaniacal ninny who does not behave in a way that suggests that he (Kate refers to God as he- that is not my word) couldn't possibly be powerful or wise enough to be responsible for all of creation.

I enjoyed this book, but I was kind of disappointed. I am holding out hope for book #4.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reliable Sources

Want to test your students' knowledge of what makes a reliable source?  Direct them to the Cornell University Libraries' page on Differentiating Periodicals.  Then, send them to North Carolina State University's interactive "Anatomy of a Scholarly Article."

Here's a quick quiz you can try as well!

Articles Quiz

Question #1: What is the difference between The Onion and the National Enquirer?

Question #2: What type of article focuses on marketing to their reader?

Question #3: What type of article is contains inflammatory statements?

Question #4: Which type of article is written to give information but does not require peer-review?

Question #5: What type of article cannot be published without being reviewed by other professionals in the field?

Monday, August 22, 2011

In my free time...

So what do I do when I am not doing the library thing?  I sing...

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms, #1)Graceling by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brava Kristin Cashore! What a fabulous story of love, self-discovery, and the strength of human will! Graceling takes place in a fictional world called the Seven Kingdoms. In this land, children whose eyes turn two different colors possess special superhuman talents that are superior to those of the normal population. In the spirit of jealousy and fear, Gracelings are shunned from society, taken from their parents, and forced to serve their Kings.

Katsa, a young woman Graceling, has what she believes is a deadly grace with no redeeming power other than to kill. Her King forces her to be his assassin and thug in order to increase his power. Katsa loathes her King and wishes to free herself from his service.

Through her adventures Katsa discovers there is so much more to her than deadly skill. She also discovers there are graces far more deadly than her own.

More importantly, she discovers that love is more powerful than any grace.

I recommend this book to readers ages 14 and up due to mild sexual content.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Clockwork Angel has been my first introduction to Cassandra Clare- and I think I am hooked. This was such a well-written novel! Tessa Grey is the perfect heroine: smart, compassionate, fiery, and strong.

The mysteries woven in this novel are not all answered as this is the first in a series called the Infernal Devices, a prequel series to The Mortal Instruments. The story takes place in Victorian London, as Tessa arrives there from her home in New York City. She is a young woman, an orphan who recently lost her Aunt, and she has been sent a steamer ticket to London from her brother, Nathaniel. Nathaniel is all she has in the world now, so she travels to live with him. Upon arriving in London, Tessa's life changes irrevocably. Everything she thinks she knows about herself, her family and the world is about to come undone. Clare has created a world of angels and demons, vampires and lycanthropes, love and deception.

To tell you anything more would spoil the fun! This was an excellent read and I am definitely looking forward to the second novel in December 2011!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trying to Change an Entire Culture one School at a Time

My first week as the Technology Media Specialist at my school has been...unpredictable.  As I have said, the school doesn't have a library.  Even though it is brand new, it wasn't part of the design for the school to have a Library Media Center.  Each classroom teacher gets a set of books- but there is no library/information literacy education or library culture planned for the school.  THAT is what I intend to change.

I understand that there is a serious disconnect in this country between educators and libraries.  I know that most people don't understand how important the School Library is and how much the School Librarian can positively affect learning gains in a school.  I have reached out to my coworkers and most of them have responded with much enthusiasm.  There have been a few who think that books are going to disappear completely and children will just plug a USB into their skulls to do research- but I will turn them around.

Teacher Librarians have to reclaim their place of value in education and they can only do that by being visible and vocal in their schools.  I will have to give 110% all the time so that my coworkers will come to understand just how much I can do for our students.  I am up for the challenge.

The first thing I did was to cover up the words "computer lab" outside my door and replace them with something more befitting what will actually take place inside:

Then I spent time trying to convince my principal that I need a budget and space for books (and she seems to completely agree).   I have donated some books from home and done a bit of shopping for my collection (with my own money, of course) but this humble little beginning is a far cry from a collection:

I am interested to see how the next few years play out and if I truly get to serve as a teacher librarian.  Every great school needs a great library.  I hope I can make that happen.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jeremy Tankard!!!

Today was my last day working at the public library and what a treat it was!

Children's Librarian J.F. Sanborn and Author/Illustrator Jeremy Tankard

Jeremy Tankard visited us to present the story behind his success and show us a demonstration of how he illustrates his phenomenal books.  He then signed all of our personal copies!  It was lovely to meet him!

Jeremy Tankard signs my copy of Grumpy Bird

Jeremy talked about his childhood and how reading was something that took him a long time to "make peace" with.  His parents, two highly academic people, were concerned about their son's struggle with school.  It wasn't until an intuitive 2nd grade teacher told Jeremy that he didn't have to like reading, he just had to be able to read, that Jeremy began to break down his wall.   Though he was only seven years old, he loved to tell stories through his drawings.  He would create books of his own, using marker-drawn images and a few words.  His love of storytelling through art followed him to University and he went to art school in Canada.  Today, he is an accomplished artist, a writer, and a person who loves reading!   It warms my librarian heart! Jeremy Tankard has certainly created some wonderful stories that inspire little ones to crack open a book and a crack a smile:

Grumpy BirdGrumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of my favorite books to read with my children! I use different voices to animate each character and we always end up laughing together.

Bird is having a rough day and he wants nothing to do with playing! He certainly has no interest in flying! He decides to go for a walk to blow off some steam. His friends encounter him throughout his walk- but bird isn't interested in hanging out with them. Sometimes, however, our friends are just what we need to remind us of reasons to have fun!

Jeremy Tankard's illustrations are a gorgeous complement to his sweet, simple writing style. This book is an instant classic!

View all my reviews Boo Hoo BirdBoo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Follow Bird on another adventure!  Did you ever have a child milk a boo-boo for all the attention it's worth?  When Bird gets bonked on the noggin by a ball, not even a cookie         can dry his tears!  What can his friends do to make him feel better?  

View all my reviews Me Hungry!Me Hungry! by Jeremy Tankard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What is a cave-boy to do when his mama and papa are too busy to feed him? HE HUNT! Well- that isn't as easy as it sounds! When the animals are too sneaky or dangerous to get a spear into, Tankard's little cave-boy has to find a new approach to filling his belly.

I can't think of a better way to spend my final day at my beloved public library than meeting one of my favorite author/illustrators!   Thank you for coming to see us, Jeremy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Saying Goodbye to my Public Library Position

This week is my final week in my Public Library Position as I take up the Technology Media and Research Teacher Position on Friday.  This is a bittersweet transition for me as I have loved every moment of my time working in the amazing children's department at my library.  My story time theme this week was Goodbye, as this was a good way to explain to my little patrons that I would no longer be a part of their weekly routine.  The parents and children gave me such a beautiful send-off with baked goods, cards, gifts, and lots and lots of hugs!  I have been so lucky to work with these amazing families for the past four years...saying goodbye wasn't easy.

See You Later, Alligator!See You Later, Alligator! by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trying to find a book that teaches children about goodbyes (but isn't about death!) isn't easy! I was very pleased when I stumbled upon this one by Laura McGee Kvasnosky. As reptilian and amphibian parents drop their little ones off at River Bottom School their goodbyes are lighthearted and fun. Then, at the end of the school day when the little ones head home, they say goodbye to school with the same joviality. This book had my preschool students giggling and completely engaged.

We followed the reading of this book with a cute little goodbye rhyme written by Holly Karapetkova called "Goodbye Friends."  The images for this rhyme can be found online in a PDF Copyright © Dr. Jean Feldman.  As I placed each image on our magnetic board, we did an action that represented the creature's traits.  My favorite was "Better Swish, Jelly Fish."

Annie BananieAnnie Bananie by Leah Komaiko
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book to use for teaching children that goodbyes aren't easy, but can be endured. It is a fun, rhythmic, silly, and very perfectly juvenile story of two girls dealing with being apart now that one has moved away.

After reading Annie Bananie, I told the children I needed to say goodbye to all my puppet friends.  So, one by one, I took a puppet out of the big box and said goodbye.  The puppet responded to me in whatever animal sound was appropriate- with the children helping it along!

Our last activity was to recite a rhyme called "I Have a Nose"  while pointing to all the parts of the body indicated in the poem:

On my face, I have a nose.
And way down here, I have ten toes.
I have two eyes that I can blink.
I have a head to help me think.
I have a chin and very near.
I have two ears so I can hear.
Here are my arms to hold up high.
And here is my hand to wave goodbye.

To end the program, we sang the same closing song I have been singing with them for the past four years, a slightly revised version of the "See Ya Song" by Carole Demas and Paula Janis:

See ya, see ya
Hope you had a good, good time
Da dum
I hope you had a good, good morning
I know that I will see you again
Da dum
I know that I will see you again...

I will miss all of my little patrons as I move on to my new position.  The public library system has been very good to me and I am so grateful for the experiences I have gained there.

I am looking forward to meeting my new students and beginning my new adventure!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Halo (Halo, #1)Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto: Book #1

Finally, after weeks of FORCING myself to listen this audiobook, I have finished Halo. Let me begin by saying that Alexandra Adornetto is currently only 19 years old. She wrote Halo when she was 17 and it wasn't her first novel. This is a major undertaking for someone so young. As a creative writer, Adornetto does have talent. However, she needs guidance and a better editor!

This book is long-winded, moralistic and judgmental. It lacks cohesion and maturity. It reads like the work of an amateur.

The premise of Halo is that the Christian God has sent the archangel Gabriel and two female angels down to a small town called Venus Cove to combat the forces of darkness that are affecting the town. However, Bethany, the teenage angel who is the most human, falls deeply in love with a boy at school and this distracts her from her mission.

I don't think I have ever encountered a heroine more annoying, impotent, helpless, and unintelligent than Bethany Church. I don't believe for a moment that she possesses any angelic power. She is a whining, naive, melodramatic goody goody who lacks any appeal. Her relationship with Xavier Woods is nauseating and juvenile.  This would be completely acceptable if they were two normal high school kids- but Bethany is an ANGEL!  She should be strong and serene but, instead, her boyfriend coddles her like an infant.  There is no evidence that she is a powerful celestial being. She doesn't even realize when the villain enrolls in her high school (and I am not giving anything away here because it is PAINFULLY obvious!).

Adornetto has such stark judgments of people in Halo that it is offensive. The high-school kids that like to wear black and dress in an avant-garde manner are the ones who follow the path of evil. She only shows praise for students who are conservative and chaste.  It seems that, in her moral rubric, black lipstick and an appreciation for goth fashion mean you are destined for Hell.  You are likely to find this book on the shelves of more conservative Christian bookstores.  Halo is  highly dogmatic and very preachy.

I don't mind reading a novel that has a specific moral agenda- if that novel is well written. Halo is NOT well written. Adornetto needs a more attentive editor to help her slash countless tedious passages that ramble endlessly.  I get it, Xavier is gorgeous and Bethany's love for him is all-consuming...SO all-consuming that she pretty much forgets that she has any responsibility to humankind.  I found myself saying out loud "are you kidding me?" when listening to this book. The book was even more unpalatable because, unfortunately, Alexandra Adornetto read it herself.  Her young voice just heightened the whiny, weak, and pathetic demeanor of Bethany church.  I truly couldn't take the pouty, trembly, baby voice Adornetto chose to use when speaking as Bethany.

I would be lying if I said this book was a complete waste. There were scenes in which I was engrossed and moved to emotion. Those moments, however, were short-lived and ruined by serious overkill.

I think Adornetto has talent which, if properly developed, could produce some amazing work. She isn't there yet, however. I wish her the best of luck with her novels but I will not be recommending this series to any of my students.

I will end my review with a quote from Halo that literally made me laugh out loud:

“Just because you're a rugby player doesn't mean you can take on the forces of Heaven."


Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters: a lullaby by Jane Yolen

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy MonstersCreepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

This bedtime story follows two adorably boisterous monster children through their daily routine until it is time for sleep. They finish their school day, head for the park, and play and dance their whole way home. Mama Monster greets them at the door and begins their end of day ritual of dinner and bath-time. They may eat worm burgers, use stink soap, and have dangerous carnivorous plants in their home- but they are just typical kids.

Yolen's simple rhyming lullably is made beautifully creepy through the illustrations of Kelly Murphy. The pictures are both eerie and inviting. Your preschooler will not be frightened of these cute little monsters but will love for you to read this one over and over at bed-time!

View all my reviews

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Reviews Soon...

I don't like being behind in posting on my blog so I will check-in with the books I am reading.  I am currently listening to three YA Audio books: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, and Halo by Alexandra Adornetto.  Two of these books have been amazing so far and one of them is SO bad that it is taking all my will to get through it.  I will disclose which one as soon as I get through the grueling task of listening to it.

As for books in their print form, I am reading Passion by Lauren Kate (YA), The Wikkeling by Steven Arntson (Y), and Well Wished by Franny Billingsley (Y).  To be fair- Passion is getting most of my attention because it is the third in a YA trilogy that I love!

My last day at the public library is August 11th and then I begin a whole new chapter in my career as the Technology Media and Research Teacher at a K-9 school.  They are already asking me to get my endorsements in Gifted and Reading- so this will be an amazing opportunity!

As I acclimate to my new role, I may not post everyday- but I sure will try.  This blog means so much to me.  It keeps me connected to what I love best about library work and education.

I thank you for stopping by and, as always, I look forward to your input and ideas.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Technology Media Teacher!

The long search for the right position has come to an end!  I have accepted a position at a local school as their Technology Media Teacher.  This is a brand new school and, while they have classroom libraries, they do not have a School Library Media Center (yet).  My job will be to order books for the school, manage the collection, and incorporate literacy and reading into my technology lessons.  I will have a lot of creative freedom in this position and a great opportunity to teach Information Literacy, Transliteracy, and get children excited about reading and technology.  I hope to post my experiences here as I learn and grow from this new position.  Of course, I will keep my school anonymous.  I am looking forward to furthering my career as an Information Literacy Educator!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred

The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden StirredThe Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred to children is a delicious way to teach Spanish vocabulary, Spanish culture, and order of events in a story.

A Cazuela is a large terra-cotta pot used for cooking soups, stews, and casseroles. It is also the term used for the meals you cook inside of it. The Farm Maiden (campesina), the farmer (campesino) and all of the farm animals take part in preparing the food in the Cazuela. Each character and ingredient is first introduced in English and then repeated in Spanish. The cazuela in this story is making a delicious, traditional Spanish dessert, Arroz Con Leche (rice with milk). There is even an Arroz Con Leche recipe at the end of the story!

Filled with colorful adjectives and easy prose, Vamos tells a lovely story that children of any culture can enjoy. There is a glossary at the end of the book which can help non-Spanish speakers with the pronunciation of words. The illustrations by Rafael Lopez are warm, vivid and engaging.

Teacher-Librarians- be sure to use the Discussion and Activity Guide  provided on Samantha Vamos' website  when you teach this story!

What an excellent cultural resource for any library collection!

Yoga, Zumba, and Books!

Today in my Preschool @ the Library class the theme was EXERCISE!  We started off class with a good stretch and then read:

Get Up and Go!Get Up and Go! by Nancy Carlson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


After reading time, we did all the yoga moves depicted in this book:

Sleepy Little Yoga: A Toddler's Sleepy Book of YogaSleepy Little Yoga: A Toddler's Sleepy Book of Yoga by Rebecca Whitford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had the kids do each pose together on the story time rug while listening to Baby Mozart.  It was so sweet and they had a blast!

To liven things up a bit, we changed the CD to Reggaeton Ninos Vol.2 (specifically track #7) and I taught the kids some simple Zumba moves.  

My daughter and I take Zumba classes twice a week and we LOVE it.  It is an excellent way to exercise while really having fun.  

I taught my preschool students a simple Merengue step:

followed by the Zumba Cuban Salsa, which is a side to side Salsa instead of front to back.  The children were then given time to freestyle dance to music.  It was a wonderful program and everyone had fun! 

To learn more about why movement is such an important part of the learning process, vist Rae Pica's website Moving and Learning.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wildthorn- a Young Adult Novel

WildthornWildthorn by Jane Eagland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was amazing! I felt the entire spectrum of emotions as I poured through the pages of Wildthorn: longing, frustration, indignation, rage, love. Eagland captures the ignorance of the time period perfectly.

The dangerously male-dominated medical field in Victorian England was one in which any show of strong emotion or independence of thought displayed by women could be interpreted as instability or insanity. (Unfortunately, this ideology persisted well into the 20th century).
Louisa, a smart, academic, and strong-minded young woman has a difficult time living in a world that doesn't respect female intelligence. She longs to be a doctor, like her father. However, through the schemings of others, she winds up a victim of this very same profession. BUT-Louisa isn't a woman to underestimate.

This book is a tribute to the spirit of women that took us out of oppression and into a more equal society. It is also a testament to the gay rights movement which is still fighting for the equality they deserve.

This book should be in any Young Adult collection and can be enjoyed by people of any sexual orientation. Eagland beautifully conveys the message that love is love. Love saves us from the darkness in this world.

My only criticism of this book is that I found at least 4 typographical errors- so a better editing job needs to be done on the reprint.

I give this book 5 stars- for making me cry, making me feel, and gluing me to its pages.

Interest Level: 13 and up

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nicoletta Ceccoli, Illustrator

Nicoletta Ceccoli is an Italian illustrator and artist whose work has been featured in children's books in Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom.  Her work has a dark beauty and surreal quality- like a combination of Dali, Escher, and Porcelain dolls.  It is truly stunning.  As I have fallen in love with her work, I want to share it with you...

You may visit her website to see her gorgeous work, or you may check your local library to see some of the books she has illustrated.

The Girl in the Castle Inside the MuseumThe Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum by Kate Bernheimer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Breathtakingly beautiful! Nicoletta Ceccoli's illustrations are both eerie and lovely. They bring goosebumps to the flesh as they are simultaneously mysterious and entrancing. Kate Bernheimer's tale of a tiny girl, living in a castle, in a magical glass globe, in a museum is both heartbreaking and magical. Deeper still within the story lies the question- as we read her story, who is reading ours? A beautiful addition to any child's library, especially since it calls for a child's picture to be placed within. An almost frighteningly enticing story!

Horns and WrinklesHorns and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson

 A Dignity of DragonsA Dignity of Dragons by Jacqueline K. Ogburn

 How Robin Saved SpringHow Robin Saved Spring by Debbie Ouellet

 Firefighters in the DarkFirefighters in the Dark by Dashka Slater

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My New Favorite Internet Tool

Do you want your students/patrons to do an online search for an academic subject, but do not want all the unrelated clutter that can come from a search engine?  Want an online encyclopedia that isn't a wiki (which can be edited by anyone with internet access) but has a Wikipedia tab for those who love it?  Would you like this service to be free?

Ok- so, go to Mashpedia!

Unlike Wikipedia, Mashpedia isn't able to be edited by the public.  Mashpedia is a mashup encyclopedia that borrows real-time content from all over the web to answer queries.  It is NOT a search engine (which can search for any trivial, or very broad query).  Mashpedia is for academic and specific topic searches only.  The information is free and, therefore, is not peer reviewed for accuracy.  This means that, as with any online search tool, students/patrons will have to gather multiple sources and analyze their data for credibility.  However, this type of search tool will eliminate all the spam-like clutter and irrelevant information that can come through a typical search engine.  I REALLY like it (more than that copy-cat poser, Zomobo).  I will be using it a LOT at my library!

Awesome Transliteracy Poster!

Joyce Valenza of School Library Journal's Blog Neverendingsearch, created and posted this excellent poster all about what Teacher-Librarians do.  It is covered under an Attribution-Non-Commercial Creative Commons License, so you can print it and use it in your library (just don't sell it, or claim you created it!).  Perhaps I should paste one of these on the office door of the Superintendent of my county's school district!  Maybe then our schools would get their librarians back!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I've learned a new word today.  That is always an exciting thing. 


Don't know what it is?  Well, I am just starting to learn myself.  

According to Professor Sue Thomas:
Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

  My interpretation of Transliteracy is that it is simply the expansion of the term Literacy.  Today there are so many more ways to digest information than just the printed word.  While books are still a valid medium, there is an entire digital universe of information that we are exposed to as well.  This digital universe is multilayered.  Whereas books are two-dimensional physical objects that require an imagination to become multidimensional, digital information can be as layered and multidimensional as the operating system will allow. (Thank goodness books exist, however, because people must NEVER lose the ability to create images in their minds!!!)

   Being able to read is just the first step of transliteracy- one also needs to know how to operate the media through which they are consuming information.  A book needs very few instructions to use- open, read from left to right, close. However a computer, a Smartphone, a Nook or Kindle requires a type of literacy that goes beyond being able to read.  There is a technological literacy required to extract information from this medium. 

Libraries will have to become the places where this type of literacy can be taught.  We already teach basic computer classes and some libraries even teach classes on social networking online.  We will, however, have to expand this education service to include the world of portable computer devices.

From what I am reading Transliteracy and Information Literacy seem to be codependent terms.  As School Librarians, we are responsible for educating students to know how to analyze and dissect information for credibility, validity, and worth.  That is Information Literacy.  However, they will first have to know how to get access to that information.  Knowing how to access information begins with a core skill of Literacy and evolves into the broader set of skills (knowing how to operate multiple devices and formats) which is Transliteracy.  Once Transliteracy is accomplished, Information Literacy is the next step in the evolution of knowledge.

Now more than ever Librarians will be needed to act as guides, and libraries will be needed to provide equitable access in this revolutionary metamorphosis in the world of information.  The smart librarian will stay current in their knowledge and skills and will bend and sway with the changes ahead of us.  Ultimately, our job is to help people attain information- good information- accurate information.  In this new universe of instant information- people can get quite lost, or worse, misinformed.

KnowledgeWorks Foundation- Institute for the Future
Libraries and Transliteracy
Transliteracy Resource Group

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thank You Jo...for everything.

J.K. Rowling is one woman- and she has touched the entire world.  Her stories have brought reading back to a generation whose lives have become digitized and prepackaged.  She created a world that (almost) the entire planet fell in love with.

Today I saw the final Harry Potter movie and I wept as if I were saying goodbye to family.  I should say, I wept all over again, because I also wept when I read the final novel.  I can honestly say that I love those characters as if they wore actual flesh and bone.

I am not sure if Jo will ever touch pen to paper again in her life.  She certainly doesn't need to for money, or fame, or anything other than the desire to share her thoughts.

She is one woman and she has brought joy to so many.  I just want to publicly say thank you, Ms. Rowling.  Thank you for giving us Harry and Hogwarts and every intricate detail of Harry's world.

I don't believe any author, in the history of mankind, has reached more hearts than you have.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

OMG- Itsy Mitsy is sooooo CUTE!

Itsy Mitsy Runs AwayItsy Mitsy Runs Away by Elanna Allen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Itsy Mitsy is the CUTEST storybook child ever drawn. If CindyLou Who and Max,King of All Wild Things grew up and had a child together- Itsy Mitsy would be her.

This palm-sized, dinosaur-costumed, rebel has decided that bedtime is NOT for her and that she must run away. However, her broken-hearted father can't bear to let her go without at least helping her pack! She needs all the right gear to protect her from the Bedtime Beasties! (These Beasties look very similar to some well-known monsters that live on a famous street known for its sunny days!)

As the story begins to layer itself, the prose forms a pattern that little ones will enjoy. They will also love this tiny little heroine with super-human strength and spunky independence as she prepares to run away.

With lime green and orange as the dominating colors on the palest blue backdrop, Allen's characters pop off the page. This is a beautiful book that is super fun to read!

Recommended for ages 3-7.  Received Starred Reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus!

Visit Itsy Mitsy at her website!