Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Gilded Hour

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GORGEOUS COVER! I found this book on Goodreads through my black hole of clicking through their recommendations. Sometimes they really do know what they’re talking about. This book is set in 1883 and has drama, romance and mysterious death. Whaaat? I know, it’s awesome. The Sevard cousins are both female doctors. It’s like a New York City version of Dr Quinn Medicine Woman (which I own in it’s entirety on DVD). Anyway, Ana & Sophie are female doctor cousins who all of a sudden adopt 2 Italian orphans. The story moves from there as they then try to locate the newly acquired orphan’s brothers. Ana meets a detective sergeant and Sophie falls in love with an old friend. Oh and women are being killed through illegal abortions. Whoah. It’s intense, let me tell you. It’s also VERY long. But power through my friends, because it is a winner.

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Filed under adult, audiobooks, book review, ebooks, fiction

We Soldier On

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This past week, and for the next few weeks, my library has been (and will be) closed. There was an electrical situation that leaves us without power. We have no computers, no lights and (most alarmingly) no heat. We have been working out of Town Hall, bless their hearts. But this whole situation has given us a new perspective, or at least a perspective sometimes forgotten, of our library and libraries in general. We immediately started a focus group that could compile information on what patrons could still do without the building up and running. Luckily, we have a branch library that we could send people to for computers, materials and holds. We started calling places to hold our events and investigating local buildings that might let us use their space. We had to figure out something to do because not having a library or our services was not an option. We soldier on.

Ironically, I came from a library that had a similar situation. They had a flood in 2008 and were displaced. They did not have a branch library to fall back on like we do. It was horrible. They built a brand new library from the situation but it took a long time, a lot of people and a lot of money. I know that our situation will be fixed but it made all of us stop and think about what the library really means. Just because the building is closed doesn’t mean our services stop.

Having said all that, my blog might stop. Only because I’m rushing here and there and have no desk / computer to blog on : )

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Filed under adult, current news, day in the life

The Importance of Board Books

As an Early Lit specialist, I love board books. I love what they do for kids. I love that I can give them to parents who come to storytime but are afraid to check anything out for fear of ripped pages and chewed corners. Let me say this again, cuz I’ve said it before, a good children’s librarian won’t care if your child ruins a book or two. They will chock it up to learning and give you a smile. Please don’t misuse what I just said I let your child look at books unattended and have them destroy 10 of them. Your local children’s librarian will want to kill me for telling you what I just did if that’s what you took from it. I digress, I have some excess time this week due to problems with our main library and so I’m catching up on my Kirkus and School Library Journal. I came across this amazing interview with Christoper Franceschelli, an author of board books. This statement struck me so hard I had to share.

“It’s also true that all too often picture books are still far more likely to be taken seriously and be reviewed than board books. So it becomes far easier to publish some texts and illustrations as picture books even though they’re crying out to become a board book.”

I read Kirkus reviews in order to assist in my ordering decisions. Rarely, if ever, are there reviews on board books. They are just not seen the same way picture books are. WHY? Board books are given to our children at their most sponge-like time. They are learning EVERYTHING. They need quality literature. They need amazing illustrations. They need this and I’m so glad that someone else sees it. This is how much they need it. In another article in the same SLJ issue they talk about the 30 million-word gap. “Language exposure is what feeds early brain development… Children are not born smart, but parents help make them so through verbal interaction.” Talking to your babies and reading them books is SO important. Please read these articles and make an effort to re-vamp your board book section. If you’re a mom and you have a baby, check out some books! Don’t be afraid of drool and rips. Pleeeeease. And if your local children’s librarian makes you pay for that book, give her/him my number.

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Filed under 3+, children, fun facts

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

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I’ve seen a lot of buzz about this book. It’s on lists and reviews all over. We just got it at my library this week so I decided to read it real quick since Fridays tend to be slow. Katherine Applegate, as you may know, is the author of the Newbery award winning book, The One and Only Ivan, which I also read in one sitting.

This was a great book about a boy named Jackson. There are a few flashbacks to a time when his family was living in his car. It was at this time that Crenshaw, his imaginary cat friend, first appeared. The premise of the book is that Crenshaw is back! Jackson feels like he’s too old for imaginary friends (5th grader) and wants him to go away but this may be another time in his life when Jackson needs Crenshaw. There are a lot of themes in this book that sometimes get glossed over or ignored in children’s literature including homelessness and hunger. But this book does a great job talking about them and enforcing the idea that you should always tell the truth. Another book that I liked that addresses hunger in a kid friendly way is Maddi’s Fridge. In case you need a book like that. Anyway, this was a great book and I recommend it wholeheartedly. Definitely a discussion book, maybe even for a classroom.

Buzz

School Library Journal

Horn Book

Publisher’s Weekly

Kirkus

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Harry Potter Illustrated Edition

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Let me first just say how annoyed I am that Goodreads has this listed under the first edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone so I could in no way give it a new review with the illustrations. Okay, now that I got that off my chest let me tell you how amazing it is. This wonderful book is 256 pages and only 70 of them do not have illustrations. That’s 180 PAGES of illustrated images friends. I had some people calling the library the week this came out asking if we had the “Harry Potter graphic novel” and I wasn’t sure how to explain to them that that’s not what it is. Granted, it is advertised in a confusing way. Fully-illustrated edition to a normal individual does imply graphic novel. I knew it wasn’t because it would have obviously said graphic novel but still, it was hard to imagine what a fully-illustrated edition was going to look like. It is not disappointing, it is amazing. The illustrations are gorgeous. This one of Hagrid’s house (not my photo) I would rip out and frame if I thought I had anywhere appropriate to put it. Who am I kidding, I could put it anywhere. Gah!

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If you love Harry Potter as much as I do, get this book. Or at least go view it at your local library so you can say that you’ve basked in it’s glory. I was also telling my co-worker that sometimes I feel like kids younger than what I consider the HP target age group are reading the books. I would feel wonderful handing this edition to a younger HP reader because it has such gorgeous illustrations to draw them in. We also commented on how much bigger and longer the books are going to get as the series goes on (because surely they’ll do ALL THE BOOKS). This edition is roughly 50 pages shorter than the first text edition but that’s because it’s a lot bigger. You could maybe qualify it as a coffee table book, albeit small one. Deathly Hallows will certainly make a big coffee table book in illustrated edition.

Other buzz concerning HP Illustrated Edition

Entertainment Weekly

Gallery in The Guardian

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Filed under adult, book review, children, current news, fiction, young adult

Blankets by Craig Thompson

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This was a seriously personal graphic novel. Craig has doubts about his faith that I imagine resonate with lots of people who grew up in the church and have very religious parents (like myself). I love his drawings and I’m so glad he didn’t listen to the people around him who told him his art could not glorify God. Whether he draws for God or not doesn’t really matter, he’s an amazing artist. I loved how all of the chapters started out with him and his brother sharing a bed as children. What a great relationship, even if bad things happened to them in their younger years they had each other. I like that he seemed to rectify that relationship in his later teens and later when he came back for his graduation / wedding. In contrast, I didn’t like how the “relationship” with Raina had no serious closure. Sure, he called and told her he didn’t want to talk to her anymore but then nothing. No mention of how she never tried to call after that or contact him. It seemed a very abrupt ending to a relationship that was the main basis of the first 300 pages. I’m not one for open ended conclusions unless it’s specifically that way to set up for a sequel, and in this case there is not (as far as I know anyway). However, I enjoyed it a lot and I could see a lot of my questioning personality in Craig.

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The Marvels Q&A

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This. All of it. I got stalled on the wordy portion of Brian Selznick’s new novel, The Marvels. I’m so glad I read this Q&A he did with Entertainment Weekly. Mainly for the question below because I was personally thinking the same thing this guy thought (switch the words and pictures).

This book starts with 387 pages of illustrations before the text kicks in. Were there any doubts in your head that that was something that could work? Did this feel like an experiment to you?
Yes. They all feel like experiments because with each of them I’m trying to use the pictures and create a structure that I haven’t done before. So I was very worried about having almost a 400-page story in pictures and then suddenly jumping and having 200 pages of a completely different story set 90 years later. It felt very dicey. In fact, a friend of mine suggested I reverse it, because kids generally like looking at pictures more than they like reading. He said that if I have all the pictures [first], then make them read for 200 pages, they’re going to feel like they’re being punished. But if I have them read for 200 pages and then have them look at 400 pages of pictures, they’ll feel like it’s a reward. I thought that was an interesting observation, so I actually rewrote the entire book. It took me three days to restructure the entire book so that it would potentially work. And after three days of work, I was finally able to see that I had been right in the first place — it had to be the pictures first and then the words. The understanding was that if the picture story is compelling enough, then the word story will be satisfying because the reader will want to see how they come together and how the character in the second story comes to understand his connection to the first part of the story. I knew that it was a little tough, but I thought, “This is the way that it has to work.”

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Filed under children, current news, fiction, fun facts