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.