Wednesday, December 20, 2006

That kind of day

I don't know where this penguin gif originated, but it arrived in my mail box this morning from a friend. After spending days trying to get information from people, and becoming increasingly frustrated by the task, it really made me laugh.

That said, it is not all that hard to determine which penguin I am.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Break in blogging

Due to a family health emergency, and the upcoming busy holiday season, I will be taking a blog posting break until after the New Year.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Peace to all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Max's Words

Today's picture book review is Max's Words, written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Boris Kulikov. This particular title has been on my shelf for most of the term. I enjoyed the story and loved the almost fanciful illustrations, but was not sure I could do the book justice with a short review for the resource center review blog. I do know that I needed to clean off my shelf since I was beginning to get library overdue notices via email. No one is exempt from over due books!

Max is part of a collecting family, his brother Benjamin collects stamps and his other brother Karl collects coins. Neither brother wants to share, so Max decides to begin his own hobby; he is going to collect words. As the collection takes form and substance, the words soon overflow Max’s desk to the floor and beyond, becoming a story. Text of each word chosen is highlighted with a bold, dark font, and the matching cutouts strewn gleefully across the page with the word baseball in the shape of a baseball bat, ice cream beginning with an ice cream cone, and hungry shown with a strategically placed bite. Illustrations enhance the developing story; at the beginning a forlorn Max is separated from the richly colored scenes of his brother’s collections. On subsequent pages, Max is a focal point, cleverly placed with his scissors and small words around him. Individual words become sentences and each sentence part of the story; illustrations are more vibrant, filling the page. A story about collecting becomes a story in itself, something children will thoroughly enjoy. This book would be a great introduction to creative writing in the classroom. Grades K-3.

Tags: Kate Banks, Boris Kulikov, Max's Words, Juvenile fiction, Picture books, Juvenile books

Monday, December 11, 2006

A first time for everything

The difference between Friday and today is bigger than the passing of a weekend. Friday was the last day of classes and my floor of the library was abuzz with students finishing projects, papers, articles, and the final portfolio for the lab class facilitated by the resource center. Lines for Ellison machines (all 6 0f them) were five or more deep, surpassed only by the line at the printer as people waited "patiently" for print jobs. There was a lot of commiserating chatter amongst the patrons as the hours counted down on our fall term.

This morning you could have heard the proverbial pin drop in the library. Every computer, with the exception of one dead one, was taken. The printer was busy as students were spread out on every available surface working diligently on final papers and projects. But the quiet was almost surreal. No cell phones were ringing, no music was playing, and there was no chatter. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. In fact, the only "noise" came from those of us working in the resource center.

A student came up and asked if he could shut the door. Wow! The resource center door has not been shut once in the six years I've worked. He was too polite to ask us to be quiet, but made his point none the less. It freaked my student workers. They looked at me, puzzled by the request. I told him to go ahead (he did). Then told the girls to open it again after the two chatterboxes (myself and another worker) left for the afternoon. Guess there's a first time for everything after all.

It was kind of humbling to realize the noisiest person in the library was me.


Tags: , , ,

Friday, December 08, 2006

Get Real

Get Real, by Betty Hicks, is a charming coming-of-age story narrated by thirteen (almost fourteen) year old Destiny Carter. Better known as “Dez,” Destiny has a best friend, parents who do not understand her, a younger brother Denny, and a yen to play the piano. Her avant-garde parents, a scientist mother who incessantly views the weather channel and a poet father who speaks in verse, are noisy, messy, and polar opposites of neatnik Dez. Best friend Jil is adopted and Dez perceives her family, the neat and proper Lewis’s, as picture perfect.

One afternoon Jil overhears her adoptive mother talking to her birth mother Jane, a single woman with another daughter who has decided she would like to get to know the daughter she gave up. As best friends are wont to do, Dez accompanies Jil to meet Jane. Instead of the ideal parent each girl thinks they want, both learn to accept and appreciate the honest parents they currently have. Neither set is perfect, but the girls cleverly differentiate between what consititues a mom or dad - and parents. Their reasoning is both simplistic and profound, "Parents make up stupid rules and worry about insane stuff - because they love you."(p. 167).

This could have been one among many best friend books stands out as Hicks gives teenage Dez a realistic and fresh voice. Consequently, as both girls struggle to find their own identity, each learns what constitutes friendship and family. The ending is sensibly satisfying without being sappy.


Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fudge, and well ... fudge

Ideally I don't mean fudge as an epithet, but actual homemade candy. Each year before winter break, I make several batches of fudge for my GA's and student workers in the resource center. It's a treat they look forward to and I enjoy providing. In fact, I have overheard students discussing with new hires that even though the library pay scale is not stellar, the fringe benefits of treats, and the all-important opportunity to do homework while at work make it worthwhile. Last week I found festive holiday tins and this evening I filled them with fudge before the meaningless football game started (it’s half time right now and sure looks cold in the ‘burgh). Tomorrow is the last day of classes and students soon depart, enjoying a month with family and friends. My holiday offering will be presented, complete with lovely little Ellison die nametags adding a festive touch! Chocolate during finals week; it’s a definite plan.

On to the other fudge, this time having a possible meaning related another less palatable word. Yesterday afternoon, for the first time in several semesters, the roll top laminator suffered a mishap and is out of order. A bit of background information, instead of turning it off and on we unplug it after finishing laminating jobs. Yes this is overkill, but it insures I sleep at night without wondering if it is going to burn down the library. The resource center is a help-yourself area and this pertains to the machinery as well. Many students are well versed in the use of the laminator and choose to complete their own projects with little or no assistance from IRC staff. In fact, most of them know to unplug it when they have finished without any prompting. Yesterday afternoon someone pulled the plug a bit off kilter and one of the prongs broke off in the outlet.

Yikes!

Yes, it was killing me not to just yank that sucker out of the outlet. I didn't, mostly because I did not know which of the breakers turned off that outlet (I'm not a complete idiot). I called the physical plant and they sent someone right over to remove the piece from the outlet. Unfortunately that means the laminator, used for larger jobs, is out of order until a new plug can be installed. A work order was processessed and labeled "urgent." The speed with which it is repaired all depends on who's definition of "urgent" is used. These things happen and it was definitely an accident.

Maybe I'll just eat some fudge and forget about it. Right now, the third quarter is about to begin, the Steelers are winning, and tomorrow is Friday.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bad Boy's Get Cookie! and Nightmare on Joe's Street

Two titles posted today as I added them to my book review blog at work. The first is Bad Boys Get Cookie by Margie Palatini and the second title a graphic novel based on the Time Warp trio television series, Nightmare on Joe's Street. I am a fan of previous titles by Palatini, specifically Oink!, Zoom Broom, and Piggie Pie, so I was looking forward to this new title. It is as clever as the others, but I was not as impressed with the illustrations (yes, I know, different artists rendered the images).

Bad boys Willy and Wally Wolf are back for another adventure and this time they want cookies! To satisfy their sweet tooth cravings the boys pose as private eyes, from the firm Dewey-Ketchum and Howe, to help Mr. Baker locate his recently escaped gingerbread cookie. Cole’s colorful illustrations highlight the ensuing mayhem as Willy and Wally track down the cookie in true Gingerbread Man fashion. Children will enjoy the cookie’s repetitive refrain, “Na-na-ni-na-na! Lookee! Lookee! You can’t get me I’m one smart cookie!” Eagle-eyed readers will recognize the boy’s Hansel and Gretel-like disguise as the cookie, the story, and maybe Willy and Wally, come to an end.

Nightmare on Joe’s Street is a graphic novel adaptation of the popular Time Warp Trio cartoon series. The story begins with a series character introduction along with a description and synopsis of the time warp device, a book, and a listing of “special guest stars” for the episode. In this episode, the monster appears in Joe’s house looking for his creator. Sam and Joe decide to warp back to the nineteenth century and return Frankenstein to Mary Shelley. Along the way the boys meet Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron as they use music to sooth the savage monster, prevent history from changing, and locate their lost book to return home successfully. Color illustrations appear to be screen shots of the television series and perform well in graphic novel format. Fans of Scieszka’s Time Warp book series may prefer the originals; this offering may appeal to a new group of readers as well as fans of the television show.

Since it is more challenging finding graphic novel titles specifically for a juvenile collection, I was very interested in Nightmare because of it's correlation with/to the original Time Warp Trio series by Sceiezka. I enjoyed the book, the illustrations were in color, and I could envision it being used as a starter lesson for lessons on historical authors. Several reviews mentioned the illustrations were indeed screen shots from the television series, but I was unable to verify that fact online or on the series website. I imagine if the first several volumes are popular, we can look forward to more of the same.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who's Who? Who am I? What?

I received a letter from Cambridge Who's Who in late October informing me I was "being considered for inclusion into the 2006/2007 Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women in Education 'honors Edition' of the Registry." The letter further explained:

The 2006/2007 edition of the Registry will include biographies of our country's most accomplished women. Recognition of this kind is an honor shared by thousands of executive and professional women throughout America each year.

Inclusion is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement. Upon final confirmation, you will be listed among thousands of accomplished women in the Cambridge Who's Who Registry.

For accuracy and publication deadlines please return to us your application form within five business days from the receipt of this letter. There is no cost to be included. (Letter, October 25, 2006)


It sat on my desk for several days and on a whim, I sent it back and did not think anything more about it. Until today. This afternoon I got a phone call from Cambridge Who's Who and after a short question and answer period I was congratulated and told my biography was accepted.

Great, but it was at that point the sales pitch commenced.

The price for being included in this edition ranged from $189 - $700 depending on the level of sponsorship (for want of a better word) I was prepared to purchase. I had no desire to make this decision spur of the moment and the longer I "waffled," the harder the sales push. She moved from the highest price to the lowest telling me that she did not want me to miss out on this opportunity. As the conversation contionued, at one point I was asked, "Don't you know who we are?" That was when my patience expired. I replied, "Yes, but I have no intention of making a purchase of this magnitude over the phone without any consideration." She relented and gave me until 5:30 pm this afternoon to decide.

Naturally, I began my research on this company after lunch. I started with my boss, who had never heard of them, and finished with a quick Google search. Findings ranged from a few happy consumers to seriously snarky reports of outright scam. I also found several mentions of this letter in other blogs from other librarians and professionals.

Negative research results:

Positive customer results:

Blogging about the directory:



An interesting discovery:


I was less than thrilled with the sales pitch, mostly because the representative was pushy and rude. (It is now 5:30 pm and I have missed her deadline.) The crux of the matter for me? If, as per the letter, it costs nothing to be included, why do I pay for a subscription and/or membership to join? My overall opinion is a negative one at this point. I do not know if I will get a second phone call tomorrow. But I will be sure to ask why there is such a push for subscription benefits when it clearly states there is not cost for inclusion.

Update: 12/12/06

Last Friday afternoon I received a second call from Rebecca at Cambridge Who's Who. I freely admit I did not expect to hear from the company after missing my deadline earlier in the week. However, when she started the entire sales pitch a second time, including wanting to ask me additional questions to further assess my qualifications for inclusion, I politely interrupted and told her we had this conversation last week. I also reminded her I had answered all of the secondary questions and that she already welcomed me to the "family" (so to speak).

I questioned why I was being asked to make a purchase when the invitation letter specifically noted "There is no cost to be included." The clearest part of her circular answer detailed benefits only offered subscribing customers. I declined the opportunity to make a purchase and admit to some curiosity regarding my inclusion in the upcoming edition of their registry. It is obvious I should have researched before sending in the application, but I was flattered, somewhat naive, and did not see the harm. Quite honestly, no harm no foul for the entire process because I have learned something.

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, November 30, 2006

After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away

An argument could be made for this fact; sometimes it is when you pick up a certain book to read that determines the impact it makes on you while reading. Not to dismiss the thought that a well-written book has impact regardless of when read, but often titles resonate with certain points in a reader's life and/or something that is happening when the book is selected. On the way to lunch this afternoon, I selected a book off of my shelf hoping I could read it through during my break. The book in question was After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away by Joyce Carol Oates.

I did not finish the book at lunch, however the following personal aside explains the introduction. My mother has been in the hospital since last Saturday. Her condition is not the result of a car accident, as is the case with Jenna in After the Wreck, but several factors have contributed in her being delirious (both meds and fever) various times throughout the week. Listening to her periods of lucidity interspersed with the medicated ramblings, I found myself wondering what she was thinking. How did her conversation make sense to her? In After the Wreck, the book opens with Jenna describing the car accident that took her mother's life and left her in serious condition. Oates describes Jenna's drug induced state as being "in the blue." It is a period of time when Jenna flies painlessly with the sea gulls and how she is often in that other place, viewing herself as a different person watching family and friends visit in the hospital. Reading the very poignant words presented by Oates touched me deeply as I continued through the hospital recovery time experienced by Jenna.

I have not yet completed this book, but at this point Jenna has shunned her father (he left her mother for another woman and lives in California with his new family) and moved in with her favorite aunt. Beginning a new school year, having to make new friends, being disfigured from the accident, and mourning the death of her mother, fifteen-year-old Jenna is having difficulty adjusting to the earth-shattering changes that have taken place in her life. Book reviews on Amazon hint at things to come, but I plan on finishing the book before exploring them further. Jenna is an intriguing and complex character, written with feeling, not pity. I look forward to continuing the journey.

Update: 12/6/06

I finished reading After the Wreck at lunch today. Oates deftly penned Jenna's depression, including bout's of self-destructivve behavior and her slow road to recovery, with a definite realistic edge. I was impressed with the depiction of Jenna's aunt and uncle, they were supportive and loving without being reduced to silly caricatures of concern. Also interesting was Jenna's "puppy" love for Crow, a charcter who befriended her but was found to be less than the perfect hero she had hoped to find. The ending was satisfactorily upbeat and without specific happily-ever-after-cookie-cutter endings.

Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bowing to pressure

A young adult (adolescent) literature professor assigned "The Book Thief" to her students as required readinig at the beginning of the term. She was very excited about the book and I put the library copy of the title on closed reserve for her class in case students had a hard time finding it for purchase. That in itself was an interesting scenario as she began our conversation about the book saying, "it's a great book, since you get all the good books I'm sure you already have it in our collection." No pressure and no where to go with that one; if I have purchased it I look bloody brilliant. Came out smelling like a rose since we had it in the collection. One of her students works in the library (reserves desk) and several others call the resource center home. If I had a quarter for every one of them who has asked me how I liked the book ....

So this afternoon, as I prepare to head out over the river and through the woods to Pennsylvania, I have checked "The Book Thief" out from reserves and will be reading it, time permitting and between cooking and shopping, over the holiday weekend. Yes, I have bowed to student peer pressure.

Happy Turkey Day and the beginning of the Christmas shopping mania. I will be blissfully without a computer until Monday of next week because vacation from work is also vacation from computers. This is a perfect time to wean myself away from blog statistics and veiws. Right?


Tags: , ,

Monday, November 20, 2006

Post 200: Shameless self promotion

Today I moved, a conservative estimate, 60 shelves of children's books in the juvenile stacks. After underestimating the amount of room necessary to have at least 6 inches of space at the end of each shelf, I shifted the first 1/4 of the collection another two sections to the right. About half way through the move I decided to take a break and check mail from last Friday (I was in Columbus for a meeting) and meandered down to the director's office. Inside my box I found a large, padded, mailing envelope. I didn't think much of it until the boss said, "Now that you are published, will you still talk to the rest of us?"

Hooray! It was my very own personal copy, actually copies, of my peer reviewed journal article! I had almost forgotten about it, the article was accepted for publication in May of 2005 after all, but the envelope contained two copies of the journal itself and an interesting bonus, several copies of just my article bound alone. It's odd seeing my name in print, beyond what we do in the library. I find it even stranger that I will be able to search a database and find my article. Yes, I am a bit giddy, maybe even disproportionately so, about the whole concept.

I was glad it came today because I really did not want my milestone post #200 to be my Thanksgiving horoscope from blogthings.

Tags: , , ,

Saturday, November 18, 2006

An oversight corrected

I use Technorati help tags on this blog, "ping" them when I post, and obviously have a Technorati account enabling me to do the tagging and pinging. I have laid claim to this blog, but do not pay much attention to it's ranking. Blissfully secure of my anonymity in the blogosphere I did not see the need because, quite frankly, my frequently mentioned statcounter addiction keeps me abreast of looks, views, pages, and so on and so forth. So I blather on here on a daily basis detailing whatever strikes my fancy and hope anyone who comes across my musings may find something on interest.

Today curiousity compelled me to look at my Technorati stats and I found two blog links. Huh, imagine that. I also noticed a fellow blogger who comments every once in a while has me listed on her blog links as well. Obviously, it's past time for me to return the favor. Below are the three blogs in question, two are children's literature related and the third library science and technology. I am also going to add them to my sidebar blogroll.

Thanks for the blogging plug! It is appreciated.

Tags: , , , , ,

198 and counting

After getting one hundred posts under my hypothetical belt several months ago, I determined it would be interesting to look at the second hundred and see how thing had changed. I cut my teeth on blogging through this personal effort and have since created three job related blogs, one collaborative blog, and continue to work with a professional organization for two others. Shouldn't that be enough?

I just spent a few minutes looking back through my first 197 posts and noticed, beyond being extremely fickle, things changed around post 53 when I found something worth blogging about consistently. Consider this trip down memory lane:

I was questioning this blog every few weeks before the ALA conference in New Orleans. The post from July 31 is the turning point; it is when I changed the format of the blog somewhat and decided to blog what I know ... libraries, children's literature, library technology, and pretty much whatever else I decided would be interesting (hence the post yesterday on the Monkees). So with this post, I am now two from two hundred. I am tempted to find two more things to blog about this weekend, besides how much I could care less about the "big game" this afternoon.

Tags: , ,

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hey, hey they were The Monkees

Surfing channels early this evening I found, and had to watch, The Monkees! The longer I watched, the worse it got. In all honestly I was never the biggest fan of Improv comedy, but the show was pretty awful (an appropriate oxymoron). I remember many of the tunes from the show because they were catchy, some written by the likes of Neil Diamond. As I child I know I had some of their music, dare I mention it, on 45's. Songs that come to mind are The Last Train to Clarksville, I'm a Believer, Steppin Stone, and the TV show themesong Hey, Hey We're the Monkees.As the episode finished I strained tired eyes to catch the year because what I do not remember is if I saw these first run or as Saturday morning reruns. I had my doubts since several sources note the original show ran from 1965 - 1968. However, The Monkees -Wikipedia mentions a resurgence of the show on Saturday morning television in the 70's as well as a second wave of their music in the 80's. If The Monkees were running on Saturday morning television with School House Rock, I was there; "Conjunction Junction, What's your Function?" and "I'm Just a Bill". After the credits ran, this same television station showed The Partridge Family. I sang along to the theme song and changed the channel.

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tote that barge, er ... book shelf

The quest to create more room in the juvenile stacks continues. Today's episode includes a late and somewhat dim bulb of brilliance. When I began this project adequately armed with bookends, a wide library truck/cart, and slightly ratty clothes (dust & crawling on the floor), I intentionally left two empty sections at the end of the run. My reasoning was sound in theory, it's always a good idea to leave a little bit of room just in case, but less than stellar in practice. Yesterday, after moving about a quarter of the collection I stopped to survey the titles yet to be moved. Much to my dismay the number of books remaining far outweighed, so to speak, the amount of room left within the designated area of the stacks. I did a quick back shift and created almost another entire section (five shelves), but still only had five empty areas for three quarters of the collection. Doubts crept in as to if it would be enough space to finish the task as planned. Especially when an entire section is needed at the beginning to expand the Newbery section from one to two. I decided to sleep on it and then ask for a second opinion the next morning. This morning it was painfully obvious to me, and to my second opinionated friend, I needed to either back up what I'd done two sections, condense some of what I had already moved, or do both. Since I need to do this right, not fast, I'll do both and still hope to meet a deadline of before Christmas break.

As I was moving books around, I noticed duplicates and triplicates of several older/classic titles such as Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and Anne of Green Gables. It was a simple matter to move them along with the other books, but a small persistent voice kept repeating something my boss said to me last week. "Have you considered weeding the juvenile collection?" My gut reaction was an emphatic NO! The books are small, they don't take up that much room, there is historical value in many of the titles, and I do not want too. I settled on the truth of "no" and added the quick opinion that I did not feel it was something to be taken lightly and would take it under consideration. The first reaction is one I'm standing by, but I do wonder if it's a mistake not to weed juvenile books with the same cold (yes, cold) thoroughness I use to weed curriculum textbooks.

Generally speaking, it is recommended K-12 curriculum textbooks only be held for five years because it is necessary to have updated materials that mirror what students and student teachers will find in a classroom. In my case, I have a few 1999 titles with the remainder of the collection 2000 forward. Unless I am building a historical textbook collection, older editions of curriculum textbooks are just old. The same can not be said for old juvenile books; hence my hesitation to weed with such narrow boundaries.

Print runs for children's books make it difficult to replace older editions. I was pulling books for a professor today who is using the Anita Silvey title 100 Best books for children. Luckily the book includes older and a few newer titles, but I found we are missing about a half dozen books on the list. I used worldcat and amazon to get isbn's, but a couple of them were out of print in basically every format. If I eliminate the third copy of Mary Poppins, will it be replaceable at a later date? Oddly enough, I just placed an order for second copies of the Harry Potter series. We have had so many individual titles missing, lost, lost and paid, and overdue that when book six came out the decision to place the series on general seven day reserve was made so we would have a copy while they are still available. Now, the newer editions will be placed on general reserve and the beat up copies returned to the circulating collection. Is a second copy of this series that much different than four copies of Winnie the Pooh?

Until I am comfortable making that decision, I will continue to move the collection and make room for new books. Where there's a will there's a way, but not until Monday. Tomorrow is a trip to Columbus for a meeting.

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What did you do today?

I get that question a lot, what does a librarian do all day? It depends on the librarian, type of library, and the job said librarian holds within the library. Working in an academic library resource center, I wear many hats and today the lovely hat continued to be moving children's books within the juvenile stacks. Last week my students moved those thirty years worth of practicums. Now it is my turn to shelf shift the entire juvenile collection and make room within the stacks to place the newest purchases. Don't get me wrong, it's great to have a budget enabling me to buy a relatively large selection of children's books. But dang, moving the whole collection is tedious and dusty work. Good thing I'm so anal about organization at work because as I move I'm able to straighten and make things look pretty. About a quarter of the way finished, this afternoon I determined I may have left too much empty shelving at the end. I'm going to get a second opinion on that, but will probably be shifting some more before moving on.

The news of a student being released from her job responsibilities, yes fired, has gone over amazingly well with my remaining student workers. No one has asked me why. No one has questioned the decision. No one really seems to care. Interestingly enough, a new hire from this term brought in a friend this evening who is looking for work. I haven't even posted the openings yet and may have a new hire. Between graduation, student teaching, and the firing I find myself three students less for next term. Hiring in the spring is best since there are fewer students taking the lab class and the responsibilities towards that end are less. Not that we have a smaller amount of people in the center, simply that the things they want are generally different.

I also began working on spending some money! Wooo-hooo. One of the best parts of this job is making decisions on what to purchase, further developing the collection (something that necessitates the need for all the aforementioned shelf shifting). I have listings of DVD's, books, materials kits, paper, toner, laminating film and all that jazz. I will need to go through the newest edition of Booklist and School Library Journal for my children's book purchase listing, but that's a fun job.

In my spare time, after providing reference and help with an assortment of class projects, I even managed to post somewhat intelligently to one of my professional blogs. I did also finish a juvenile book at lunch and can not for the life of me remember the title. More about the mystery book tomorrow. After lunch I did a quick check of my bloglines account and read a very interesting post on Argh Ink by Jennifer Crusie; Clue Cake, Anonymity, and Other Unprofessional Behavior. I look forward to reading her personal blog on Argh Ink, as well as her collaborative effort with Bob Mayer on the Crusie Mayer blog. (Note to the two people who read this blog, if you enjoy either of these authors or want to learn more about being a published author, check out those links). In this post, Jenny brilliantly discusses her frustration with anonymous bloggers taking authors to task in what may be construed as an effort to be more popular and drive readership to their blogs. Food for thought, check it out. Unfortunately, she's also chosen to utilize Blogger's comment moderation feature for this post, comments are accepted but will not show up until she decides if they should. I understand why she felt the need to take that step, but miss reading her loyal reader's comments. They are always an enlightened group.

And no, I'm not mentioning the post in an inane effort to drive more people to this blog.

Please.

I write this for me and it freaks me out the tiniest bit when I look at the stat counter for this site and see people are reading. Happy news, I've weaned myself off of looking at the stupid counter six and eight times a day. My hopeless stat obsessed self is now down to morning, lunch, and once in the evening. That's half what it used to be.

Now it's time for the finale of Dancing with the Stars. I'm SO hoping Emmitt wins. "Can't touch this!"

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Trilogies, a perfect set of three?

Having recently completed the final book in Nora Robert's newest trilogy, The Circle Trilogy, I found myself going back through some of her other trilogy/series. Most of are paperbacks; some with her current publisher Jove, and the older ones were Harlequin and/or Silhouette. Were I'm concerned, Nora Roberts could put her name on a cereal box and I'd buy it to read, same with Jayne Ann Krentz (or any of her other names) and Jennifer Crusie. Though the latter does not "do" trilogies, I did just buy her newest novella Hot Toy in a Christmas anthology Santa Baby. Anyway, after I finish a trilogy by a particular author I find myself compelled to go back through and read my favorite titles contained other trilogies they have published. I've noticed recently that most often, though not always, the book I am drawn to is the middle of the series. Consider these Nora Roberts titles:

  • The Circle Trilogy
    Morrigan's Cross (2006), Dance of the Gods (2006), Valley of Silence (2006)
  • In The Garden Trilogy
    Blue Dahlia (2004), Black Rose (2005), Red Lily (2005)
  • Key Trilogy
    Key of Light (2003), Key of Knowledge (2003) , Key of Valor (2004)
  • Three Sisters Trilogy
    Dance Upon the Air (2001), Heaven and Earth (2001), Face the Fire (2002)
  • The Irish Trilogy
    Jewels of the Sun(1999), Tears of the Moon (2000), and Heart of the Sea (2000)
  • Dream Trilogy
    Daring to Dream (1996), Holding the Dream (1997), Finding the Dream (1997)
  • The Stars of Mithra
    Hidden Star ( 1997), Captive Star (1997), Secret Star ( 1998)
  • The Concannon Sisters
    Born in Fire (1994), Born in Ice (1995), Born in Shame (1996)

... and these Jayne Ann Krentz titles:

  • Eclipse Bay
    Eclipse Bay (2001), Dawn in Eclipse Bay (2001), Summer in Eclipse Bay (2002)
  • The Curtain
    Amaryllis (1996), Zinnia (1997), Orchid (1998)

There are obviously more linked books than these, but they are nice sampling of what I mean. So I wonder, what is it about the magic number three? And, why do I usually like the middle book in the series. Keep in mind I am not an author and have no training either in the craft or as a reviewer of this genre of book. But it is my theory nonetheless. Here goes; I think the first book is "burdened" by setting up all three titles as well as having it's own story; the last book has to wrap everything up and stand alone; and this leaves the middle book free of obligations to do anything but tell a story. Obviously the theory is not without its flaws, in some instances I liked the first or last title best. And I haven't even touched on the magic of three within a single title like in The Three Fates or Montanna Sky. Regardless, I will be finishing Key of Valor this evening for the fifth or sixth time and will be saving my new Crusie for the weekend.

As long as these talented ladies keep writing, I'm a happy camper.

(Sigh, should it take four times for a post to publish? I think not!)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Taker

As many of my book related posts begin, today at lunch I finished The Taker, by J.M. Steele. Hyperion Books for Children, the link provided with J.M. Steele, notes the name is a pseudonym for "two New York entertainment industry professionals, neither of whom aced the SAT’s."

The Taker is the story of Carly, a high school junior, who suffers from test anxiety, has taken the SAT and earned a less than stellar score. Pressured by her parents to score well and attend a good school, her father is an alumnus of Princeton, Carly is at a loss how to handle the outside pressures and retake the test. Out of the blue, Carly receives a text message on her cell phone from "the Taker" who, for a price, will take the test for her and guarantees she gets a better score. He does not want money, but will ask for payment of another kind to be named later, and informs Carly she has to get a tutor and maintain that she is studying for the SAT so no one will be suspicious when her scores increase. Carly agrees to "the taker's" terms, setting in motion a chain of events that accurately reflect teenage life.

Carly has typical teenage problems with popularity which are exemplified by demands from her BMOC lacrosse playing boyfriend, the necessity of working with a nerdy SAT tutor, issues with a smarmy instructor conducting her SAT study course, and the fact that one of her best friends is working on an expose for the school newspaper regarding the increase in SAT test scores happening in their town. Steele's depiction of teenage life is on target. Carly is a popular girl who is a bit selfish, but not without redeeming qualities. It would be easy for secondary characters such as Carly's boyfriend Brad and her tutor Ronald to be clich├ęs; this is not the case as each character is an individual with some depth, such as it is.

The story moves along quickly, but the resolution of the SAT cheating ring and subsequent revelation of "the Taker's" identity are somewhat anticlimactic, almost too easy. I would like to have seen repercussions of some sort for Carly's plan to cheat on the SAT, even though she reconsiders and takes the test herself. Any teenager planning to take the SAT will understand Carly's dilemma and the pressures related to taking a test that has the ability to change the rest of your life, all of which ring true in this book.


Tags: , , ,

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Too much, and yet nothing to blog

I have hit the wall, metaphorically speaking, more than once during my quest to meet the challenge of writing everyday; posting on this blog. I can honestly say some days the topics were stretched too thin, some days there were topics that maybe should not have been put on the blog for God and everyone to see, some days I actually sounded a bit intelligent, some days I was a blithering idiot, and some days I forgot the mandate from my high school English teacher that "one sentence does not a paragraph make." She would be happy to see this paragraph at least has three sentences. Today? There is an over abundance of topics bouncing rampant around my brain that I actually have too much to blog about. Not only am I unsure where to begin, but also unsure what to include.

My week started with such hope. I had five blank days on my work calendar; a feat unheard of for the second week in November. They were a vision of beauty and a joy to behold.

I should have known better . . .

First a quick phone call on Monday and a meeting scheduled for next week moved up to Thursday of this week (today). I felt woefully unprepared, so I shuffled the piles on my desk to compose a detailed outline, sent it to the boss for an official "OK,” printed copies for library participants, and emailed the revisions to be disbursed amongst the larger committee. Crisis averted and resulting meeting painless.

One of the more challenging, and rewarding, aspects of my job is managing ten student workers and two GA's. I have management experience and am not unused to the trials, tribulations, and yes joys of work, scheduling and conflict. I hire good people, provide them with training, and give them the opportunity to do the job they were hired to do. Most of the time this philosophy works splendidly. When it does not, employees are warned, disciplined, and if necessary, fired. It is very rare a student is fired. As a result, the group is together for several years and often form a bond, they work as a team. As such, it is often both wonderful (no tattling and whining) and frustrating (if I don't know what's going on, I can't do anything about it) when they are reluctant to bring problems to my attention. Generally speaking and dependant on the student involved, problems are brought directly to me. Other times, they feel more comfortable expressing issues to the GA's who handles it, brings it to my attention, or does both. Because students feel a sense of camaraderie, it is challenging for them to tell the difference between ratting out a friend and bringing issues to me that I need to know. Today was one of those days; do what’s right, let me deal with the consequences, and make sure no one feels guilty for doing the right thing.

Add in search committee responsibilities and a binder with over 20 vitae's to review and evaluate.

Round out those things with the every day necessity of weeding, shelf shifting, working on web design, writing juvenile book reviews, and just running the resource center.

I'm ready for the weekend.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ooooh, oooh, I'm a happy girl

It's a good day. I have my very own copy of the newest J.D. Robb, aka Nora Robert's, book Born in Death (which I will savor regardless of the lackluster review by Publishers Weekly posted on Amazon), my very own copy of the new Sugarland CD, Enjoy the Ride, and a small bag of Ghiradelli caramel filled chocolate squares.

The chocolate is fleeting, but was a tasty snack while watching Dancing with the Stars.

Recent purchases, graphic novels

Since I talked about graphic novels in the previous post, I was compelled to check the new book shelf this morning and see what the most recent additions to the juvenile collection, graphic novels, were.

The three pictured here were added in the last two book orders. I've just returned from the circulation desk after checking them out to "me" and adding them to my shelf of books to read. It was interesting to see two of the three, Sardine and Missouri Boy, are published by the same entity, First Second (:01). The Time Warp Trio book is a HarperTrophy publication. Even more intriguing is they are all three in color and bound with heavy stock as opposed to a cheaper paperback.

Here are the three titles:

Update: later that same afternoon ...
The graphic novel bulletin board is finished. It was interesting to see how many of the novels I had chosen to highlight were checked out.

Tags: , ,

Monday, November 06, 2006

Graphic Novels

Relax, I mean graphic in design and not graphic in content. As I type that sentence I am reminded of the looks I received from student workers when they heard me asking children's literature professors if they wanted me to buy graphic novels. Once I explained it as an expanding genre in children and young adult literature, they were humorously relieved. One of the speakers at the conference on Friday discussed graphic novel collection. I enjoyed the session for several reasons, not just because I won a couple of novels in a raffle. The presenter discussed publishers of graphic novels, the graphic novel reader base in his library, how to publicize the collection, and some history behind the current trend towards graphic novel collections in public libraries. This is where the difference between public library collections and academic library collections became obvious.

Generally speaking, a public library will have their juvenile collection separated into different categories; picture books (fiction), middle readers (fiction), young adult (fiction), maybe biographies, graphic novels (fiction and non-fiction), and juvenile non-fiction. This allows for a very "browseable" collection, something the public desires. Public libraries are also responsible for purchasing titles that the general public wants to read, hence the increase in the graphic novel collections. After all, the collection is in reality their tax dollars at work.

Academic libraries are different; there are different sets of “limitations,” or collection development policies, placed on the collection. Then there is the space. Shelving a graphic novel collection within the juvenile literature is challenging as the collection encompasses fiction, non-fiction, juvenile, and young adult literature whose sole purpose is to support the college of education curriculum. Furthermore, as a research library we use library of congress and the literature is shelved accordingly. A book purchased for the juvenile collection is either juvenile or it part of the regular collection. A juvenile/young adult purchase may be placed in the recreational area, but this rare. There is no graphic novel section in the library.

So what does this mean? If graphic novels are not currently being taught in a literature class, my collection, if indeed I even have one, is minimal at best. The question of do we need graphic novels must be addressed. After conferring with children's literature professors about graphic novel purchases, I found out that one of them is requiring his students read a graphic novel. Since his class had been ordering graphic novels from other libraries, a need was not being met, and this lead to the creation of a small graphic novel collection including both juvenile and young adult selections.

Currently, the library collection includes 63 graphic novels with roughly half of them (31) considered juvenile. There are classics by Jeff Smith (Bone) and Neil Gaiman, but the juvenile titles are more difficult and include graphic interpretations of classics such as the Wizard of Oz, Call of the Wild, Tarzan, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. To support this collection graphic novel bibliographies and history and criticism resources have been added to the resource center reference collection. While there are some who question the inclusion of graphic novels in an academic library, this genre deserves to be represented for the literature and art styles presented within.

Tags: , ,

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Post-conference blues & football

The last several days have been long-ish on driving and short on sleep. Not to whine, or maybe not to whine too much, it was an hour to the conference, overnight at the hotel, an all day conference followed by two hours home, several quick trips while home over the weekend, and then three hours back here this afternoon. All that an no football on the radio. No football on the computer, and obviously no football on the television. As usual, the Browns are on both the Cleveland and Columbus CBS stations.

Thursday afternoon I attended a preconference workshop on library marketing, aka market research. It was interesting, but very heavy on concepts of focus groups and follow-up surveys. I understand the marketing needs of both these functions. On the other hand, as someone who has lived through two LibQual survey endeavors, I also understand how futile the effort of getting the same group of people to respond on more than one occassion can become. I will look through my notes again and make more sense of the process. The conference was enjoyable and successful with a few irritations; more on that later.

I finished the last of the Nora Robert's Circle trilogy at the hotel Thursday evening. I was so engrossed with getting through the final battle I missed Grey's Anatomy! Two days until Born in Death. Yes, I am counting and planning how I will be able to read it Tuesday evening during Dancing with the Stars. It is all about priorities.

I also finished reading the children's book "Pish Posh." While it was well written, most of the characters were engaging, and it was interesting and flowed, I just did not care for the book. I feel the main character was a brat and had few redeeming qualitites, even at the culmination of the story. She was a product of her environment, but if I want to learn more about spoiled rich children, all I need to do is turn on the television.


Tags: ,

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Waiting, reading & workshops

I'm waiting for a reading class to finish, they are in the library doing language arts textbook evaluations because I have finally convinced faculty it's easier to drag the kids to the books than drag the books to the kids, and doing some computer updates up before heading out to a pre-conference marketing workshop. (pause) Now that everyone has left, in addition to reshelving the curriculum books I had to drag chairs back to their homes and reset tables. While doing so, I'm reminded of a book I read some time ago, All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten, by Robert Fulgham. I have the book at home somewhere and can not quote specifics, but I know for sure one of the things was "put things back where you found them."

It brought to mind a post I read yesterday on Read Roger, Ten Rules to Live By. He discussed "The Rights of the Reader" by Daniel Pennac andpointed readers to a downloadable PDF poster of these rights illustrated by Quentin Blake. Last night I picked up the third book of the new Nora Roberts trilogy, Valley of Silence, and used rule #2, the right to skip. Why? As many readers, I get invested with characters in a trilogy and want to know what happens. I am secure in the knowledge that Nora will provide either a happy ending or an ending to make me happy. This particular trilogy has a main character who is a vampire (not a fan of that), so I wanted to make sure his "after" was what I wanted for him. Note, I didn't say what might be right for the character, but what I wanted for the character. While not being a fan of the increasing vampire genre in romance fiction, Nora Roberts is a wonderful storyteller who draws me in regardless. Luckily, in this instance they ended up being one in the same. I was 95% sure they would be since the foreshadowing and the storyteller were indicating as much, but I didn't want to be disappointed.

No, reading the end of the book does not ruin the book. No matter how it ends, the journey to get there will be quality and I'll finish. That is unless, of course, I am looking at Pennac's rule #3, "The right not to finish a book." I have pretty much broken myself of the habit, but sometimes I just have to peek. As to Valley of Silence, Nora still has to finish off the bad guys, let good triumph over evil (yes!), and bring the story full circle. Something to look forward to later this evening.

Only another week until Born in Death hits the shelves. After reading the excerpt from Nora's web site, I'm chomping at the bit to have it in my hot little hands. I just finished re-reading Memories in Death for the umpteenth time and am more than ready for more of Eve and Roarke's story.

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

You just can't make this up ....

As seen this afternoon on the way back from lunch. Also overheard; three students warning anyone who would listen not to fall over the "hump."

And no, it is not in any way to be confused with a speed bump.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back to web site grindstone

The mark of a successful Halloween is getting through the day without anyone mentioning your costume, especially if you are not wearing one. Well, that and getting some good candy. I have to report for the first time since I started working in an academic library students wore costumes to class. Not a lot of them, but I did see Cruella De Ville with an exceptional wig and a lovely princess complete with crown. If it hadn't rained again today, I may have seen more.

Today being a frightful day, it was time to get down to the nuts and bolts of the web site redesign. Most of the design decisions have been made regarding the new pages. Now I must go back through the existing site and look at current pages, pdf handouts, and images to determine what stays and what goes. I have been dreading this endeavor. Why? When I first got adobe acrobat professional I was enamored with creating PDF items. As a result, the number of handouts bordered on astronomical last year. I have weeded the handout collection furiously in the last six months, but the list was destined to be lengthy.

I ventured into the web folder (the irc folder is one part of the entire library web site) and set the page view to "by type" to get everything in it's proper place. Then, I started my list and indeed checked it twice. By lunchtime, with a break for crawling on the counters to update the book review bulletin board, I had a completed list. Here goes:

  • html page total = 129
  • image total, jpegs & gifs = 201
  • remaining pdf handouts = 100

Naturally, I created a spreadsheet with three worksheets, one for each item type, and determined to list the names, page where the item lives (except of course for the html pages themselves), a description, and quick verification of if it stays or goes. Most of my afternoon was spent describing those 200 images, the bulk of which were mock Caldecott session shots. In some cases it was simple to determine what pictures should go, others will be a bit of a chore. I still have to match the pictures to the web pages and make sure planned updates work with what photos are getting the boot; that's what is on tap for tomorrow. It will probably take into next week to identify all of the other key elements. After that, I will be looking at the university web statistics. I plan to balance what I think should go with what the statistics support.

The IRC web site is well used, both on and off campus. The stats will let me know not only how the pages fair against the rest of the library web site, where many of the pages are consistently in the top ten, but also how they stack against each other. I already know I will not be getting rid of the children's author and information web pages. That alone narrows down the 129 html offerings by half. It is certainly easier to create the web site than it is to redesign an existing one.

It's time to go watch Emmit Smith dance and maybe vote for my favorites. Change that to definitely vote, the judges are annoying this evening!


Tags: , ,

Monday, October 30, 2006

Watching the clock

Looking at the magic of three. In retail, we displayed things in groups of three to give the eye something to look at, an interesting balance of sorts. It's still something I do, sometimes without thinking, when creating library displays, web pages, and even groups of photos at home. Today was a three day, only I noticed it in regard to time. Specifically the change to daylight savings. I won't whine about getting an extra hour sleep or being able to drive to work in the daylight. I will say I feel like a baby who has had her sleep pattern disrupted because it's only 9:30 pm or so and I am soooooo sleepy.

I am still updating various clocks at home to reflect daylight savings. Thank heavens the computer and my alarm clock update on their own so I at least have two places with the right time. I cannot seem to find the directions for changing the time on the CD player so the car has been an hour ahead all summer. It does not really matter since I use it to play music, not to know what time it is, but I have to admit it was sometimes disconcerting to get in the car if I was running late and not be sure ... now it has the right time. If only I had set my watch.

After publishing the previous post I viewed it to see how things looked, it's a sickness, right up there with the statistics obsession, and noticed the time stamp on the post, 2:54 pm. Interesting, I never noticed before by Blogger does not date stamp the time a post is published, but the time it was created. I wrote/compiled/created that post at home this evening, but added the photos from work and saved it as a draft because the Internet connection is vastly superior to what I'm using now (shocking). I don't know that it really matters, however it is interesting.

Mid-way through lunch today, about 1:45 pm, it dawned on me I had a meeting scheduled at the College of Ed building at 2:00 pm. I rushed my last bite of Fritos, filled my drink (needed the cola fix) and rushed back to the library to get my stuff, only to find my calendar said the meeting was at 4 pm and not 2 pm. I was so sure. Enough so that I call the queen of all important matters, the administrative assistant, to verify times before I went running over for a nonexistent meeting. Praise be the meeting was at four and I found remembered the two o'clock meeting time is for the 13th, a different committee at the College of Ed.

Time is on my side and I'm beat. I may just turn in early in an attempt to get things back into rhythm for tomorrow.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves - and - Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Another day, another two books reviewed on the children's blog at work. I've been whittling down my shelf of books to read and/or review before spending a lot of time on the web page redo. Between time sheets, updates, hours updates, and meetings, pretty much all I did accomplish today were the book reviews and a quick addition to my personal library page. The two today not only interesting, but just plain fun. The first, Eats, Shoots & Leaves may have somewhat limited use, but it is so cleverly done the book itself is amusing and worth reading regardless of the language arts lesson applied. Additionally, I am a bit of a comma queen (in case no one has noticed) and it would behoove me to take a few of these lessons to heart!

“Commas can create havoc when they are left out or are put in the wrong spot, and the results of misuse can be hilarious.” This smart picture book takes a unique look at commas and the important function they provide in English language sentence structure. Each set of pages displays the same sentence with and without commas, or with commas placed in strategically different positions. Cartoon illustrations accompany the text, providing witty representations of both sentences and aptly displaying the different meanings resulting from comma placement. In one set of pages sure to get a laugh, you see people outside of a gas station filling up their cars, “Eat here, and get gas.” The corresponding page depicts a restaurant serving beans, “Eat here and get gas.” Truss provides an introduction to the text, as well as explanations at the end regarding all the sentence structures used.

The second book today, Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road, is just brilliant. Each of the fourteen artists have answered the question in their own way. I spent several days pouring over the different pages and still haven't found my favorite. Since I'm a David Catrow fan, obviously his is at the top of the list. However, the lush beauty of Mary Grandpre's chicken crossing the road and the sweet picnic from Jerry Pinkney, just add to the well rounded collection. Each illustrator has a style of their own and that, combined with their wit, makes this a great book for anyone who loves children's literature to read and enjoy.

Fourteen children’s book artists answer the age old question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” and embellish greatly concerning what is on the other side. Each artist has a double page spread, illustrating his or her artistic interpretation on the query with spectacular results. Though not a wordless picture book, text is sparse and well placed. From John Agee’s chicken and possum to Chris Sheban’s baseball game gone awry, from the chicken eating in David Catrow’s “Diner Across the Road” to Christopher Raschka’s chicken questioning the sphinx, each illustration is unique to the artist, rich, colorful, and humorous. The book ends with a “Scoop from the Coop” where a question of a different kind is asked of each artist: “Why did the artist cross the road?” Students would enjoy using their own artistic talents to answer the same question.

Tags: , , , ,,

Sunday, October 29, 2006

2 + "I'm not Bobby"

Last weekend I was shopping at the outlets and went into the Book Warehouse. Much to my dismay, they were having a "store-going-out-of-business sale." I purchased many children's book there for my niece, including the three pictured on this post. The first Jules Feiffer book I bought was I Lost my Bear. I was working at the public library as a children's librarian and did many story times at two library branches. You can always tell when a book has been enjoyed at storytime when the children want to know if they can take the book you just finished reading home. After a while, the Monday storytimers knew to come in
after Friday storytime if they wanted a particular title. Since any book being used for storytime was checked out to me, it was also possible to request the title from another library and they would probably have it before the end of the week. I Lost my Bear was one of those books. It rang true to any child with siblings, or had lost a favorite toy. The illustrations, especially when the young girl found her bear, glowed with emotion. Despite Feiffer's propensity to use the phrase "I'll kill you" in his children's books, something that bothered me more than the kids, this remains a favorite of mine as well. I have my own copy, bought one for my niece, and got one for the library here when I started working.

When Bark, George was published, I bought it for the library and again, my niece. I think it is clever and sweet without being cloying. The illustrations in this offering are large, colorful, and uncomplicated. It's a great read-aloud title because children can tell what's coming next and want you to keep turning the pages to see if they are correct. The ending is classic and I won't spoil it for anyone by giving it away here. I've never read this book that someone doesn't ask for a second read before leaving the group.

Last weekend I found I'm not Bobby at the Book Warehouse. Perusing the shelves for a quick purchase, the Jules Feiffer name in print jumped off the book spine. Bobby, and a recent (to me at least) Herman Wouk title A Hole in Texas, were my purchases for the day. Bobby is hungry, cranky, and ignoring his mother's increasingly insistent calls to come home. Text and illustrations detail Bobby and his imagination. As he moves from lion, to airplane, to monster, and back, he becomes the things he imagines. One of the best sequences in the book is Bobby in space. He takes off in a rocket and we see trepidation and courage. In space his expression is one of utter joy, "This is what I wanted my whole life!" Turn the page and Bobby is alone, hungry, decides, "Space is stupid," and is worried about getting home in time for dinner. Throughout the book, the mother's words are deftly juxtaposed in and around the illustrations and the size of the text shows her increasing annoyance with Bobby, "You're in big trouble now, young man!" We don't see what happens, but we learn you can go home again.


Tags: , , , , ,

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Changes? I mean the weather, not the song that is now stuck in my head (wow, it was David Bowie from the 70's! and I don't want to think about why I would remember that from my childhood). Today while I chased my trash can down the alley it was snowing. On the way to the post office is sleeted and hailed. While at the ATM, there was some lovely rain. And on my way back home after snagging some yummy chocolate treats I felt I deserved after paying and mailing bills, the sun was shining. Amidst all of this the wind was blowing enough that there are power outages reported and one of the newscasters said he saw people actually blown over by the gusts.

Today is one of those days I really don't have anything intelligent, witty, or even sarcastic (believe it or not) to contribute to the blogosphere, but I am valiantly trying to keep the promise I made to myself concerning writing at least a little bit every day. Doesn't it count if I posted coherently on another blog? I think so. Unfortunately, I have the attention span of a five-year-old waiting for recess and do not care.

For heavens sake, now all that pop's in my head is that cartoon based on a Maurice Sendak book with a little boy named Pierre who sang a little ditty called "I don't care." It had to have been an after school special thing. Whew, found it. Seems it was a soundtrack from a television special based on Sendak's work and called Really Rosie, one of the songs was "Pierre."

Huh, that will teach me to blog when I am somewhat incoherent and have nothing to say. Even better, blogger won't save or post this entry. My Internet connection has been spotty, to say the least, today with all the windy weather. Either that, or my computer is conspiring to keep me from publishing drivel. Thank heavens there is an extra hours sleep tonight with daylight savings.

Tags: , , ,

Friday, October 27, 2006

Around the House the Fox Chased the Mouse & Alphabet Explosion

A cheater post today, I spent some time doing book reviews for the blog at work, and am going to post them here as well; Around the House the Fox Chased the Mouse: A Prepositional Tale, and Alphabet Explosion: Search and Count from Alien to Zebra. Yesterday my web page work fitting a Library Thing book widget on the resource center web site. It works beautifully, I chose to have the most recent book viewed on the widget and now every time I update a new book in my newly created library, it automatically displays the new title first. I am once again infatuated with using Library Thing.

Around the House the Fox Chased the Mouse, written by Rick Walton and illustrated by Jim Bradshaw:A rousing chase between fox and mouse, enhanced by colorful, cartoon like illustrations, teaches students simple prepositions. Throughout the story each page portrays a preposition and accompanying illustration ingeniously support the phrase. Text is simple and effective with the preposition highlighted with a bold, colorful font. Students will enjoy the comical reactions of observing farm animals and the double page spread for the word “until” is priceless! A surprise twist at the end tops off this story and begs rereading. This book could be just for fun, but is a nice classroom introduction to prepositions for young children and a possible refresher for older students.

The illustrations quite simply make this book and the ending begs for a sequal to be written detailing more adventures of fox and mouse. The link to more information on Jim Bradshaw go to his blog. There are additional pictures from the book available there on his post My 2nd book is here.

Alphabet Explosion: Search and Count from Alien to Zebra, written and illustrated by John Nickle: Not just another alphabet book, this captivating title combines the alphabet with a visual treasure hunt. Each page features a single letter, a collection of things beginning with that letter, and a numerical clue. For example, “S” has 47 items pictured including a snake, snail, squirrel in a show on skis, and a sheep wearing socks. Acrylic and spray paint illustrations range from lush representations of animals to simple pen and ink drawings, all clean and crisp making the items easy to find. Instructions and tips are present at the beginning of the book and a book ending answer key provides relief with explanations of each page. This would be a great rainy day activity for the whole class; some of the more difficult pages may require a collaborative effort.

Now is the time to admit just how much time we spent this morning pouring over this book with paper and pencil trying to find all of the things. I was a bit stymied with the "Impala" for letter "I" and had a student say she thought "E" should have one more because the elephant appears to be "elevated." Brainstorming with another student we thought it would be a cool beginning of the day or after recess activity. Put the book on an elmo and let the whole class particpate. All in all, both of these books were a great edition to the juvenile collection.