Friday, October 30, 2009

Storytime memories

A Halloween tradition, it was treat bag week for my student workers; a fun selection of sugar. As with other holiday's, it meant an increase in student teachers looking for appropriate picture books to share in the classroom this week. Almost every appropriate pumpkin, fall, Halloween, and slightly scary picture book is currently circulating. Helping students find story time holiday books always takes me back to my days in the public library as a children's librarian. Here are a few of my favorite read-alouds for Halloween, since I have been an academic librarian for over eight years, these titles are older (oldies but goodies).

And my favorite, Big Pumpkin, by Erica Silverman (drat). "They pulled and they tugged and they tugged and they pulled ..."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Not my picks

As I've mentioned before, another librarian on staff purchases children's literature with funds from a small endowment (very small). A large cart arrived on Friday afternoon and I had a few minutes this afternoon to peruse a few of the selected titles. Here is what's new to me:

I took The Miles Between to lunch this afternoon, but did not finish it (I did read the end). Late last week I went through two issues of Booklist and the most recent School Library Journal. I should have another cart of juvenile books in B & T by the end of the week. I love doing collection development for juvenile and young adult books.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The more I learn ...

New to my Bloglines account this morning was an article from PW Children's Bookshelf, It's the End of the World as We Know it. It caught my attention for two reasons, first discussing the possible demise of the current "vampire fiction" trend. Not long ago readers were bemoaning the end of the Harry Potter series and wondering what was next. Stephanie Meyer and Twilight was next for legions of young adult and adult fans (though I must in all fairness note I am not a fan). The second reason? Identifying steampunk and post-apocalyptic fiction as possibilities for the next big thing is interesting.

This is the second time in as many months I have heard the term steampunk fiction and the more I learn, the less I understand. In theory I know steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that features advanced technology in the victorian era. I have since learned there are sub-genres of steampunk that include the wild west -- think Wild, Wild West with Kevin Kline and Will Smith. The closest I could get for juvenile fiction was a reference to The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I dug a bit for more:
There was a reference to Dr. Who (OK, I get that) and now I wonder if the current SyFy hit Sanctuary could be steampunk. As to books, we just got a shipment of children's books yesterday ordered by a peer who very much enjoys fantasy. I think I'll take a look at what's arrived.

Completely new to me was the term "post-apocalyptic fiction;" the PW article and my searching highlighted Scott Westerfeld and his new title Leviathan. A quick search of the library catalog revealed we have four titles by Westerfeld, though subject headings were a bit more generic using dystopias, adventure, and science fiction. This particular genre is easier to grasp:
I think I'm ready to get back to reading. Where's my JAK novel?

Friday, October 09, 2009

1/2 way point

Midterm grades are due next Wednesday; this week marks the unofficial midway point for the fall semester. I graded for five hours this morning; submissions continued, the deadline drew near, and the atmosphere took an inevitable turn with hurried assignments lacking substance. At closing time the last group of students grudgingly left the library. Their unhappiness was palpable.

A blurb on ABC evening news tonight noted YouTube had reached a milestone of one billion viewers per day.

For some reason, these two unrelated items resulted in a vaguely baffling childhood memory; I don't care, Pierre. So, I searched YouTube and found cranky Pierre.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Angry Management

Mr. Nak has been hired by Global Community Health as a community counselor; charged with leading an anger management session populated by an eclectic group of students, Angry Management, by Chris Crutcher, tells their stories. Sarah and Angus have highly visible issues, Sarah was disfigured by abuse and Angus is a "big guy." Both slow to trust, their budding friendship evolves into a tentative relationship born during a deeply personal road trip west to help Sarah face her past. Montana writes for the school newspaper covering topics that are more often than not censored by the school board, lead by her adoptive father. Trey is a football star living with his grandmother, a down to earth woman battling cancer. Montana's article about the medicinal use of marijuana sparks controversy within their families and community. Matt and Marcus could not be more different; one deeply religious and the other openly gay, their paths cross when standing up to do the right thing ends in tragedy.

Each story is told in the distinctly different voice of the featured pair and tied together with short transcribed notes by the counselor. And while there are no clich├ęd happy endings, neither are there any real surprises. This is one of those novels where the end is not as important as getting there. It's about the journey.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

If the Witness Lied

If the Witness Lied, by Caroline B. Cooney. The Fountain family children have survived unimaginable tragedy; their father a victim of a horrific car accident and the youngest member of the family "blamed." To complicate matters, when expecting Tris, their mother was diagnosed with cancer and elected to forgo treatment in favor of a healthy baby. The family is scattered, Jack with Aunt Cheryl to care for Tris and sisters Smithy and Madison at boarding school and with Godparents. When Aunt Cheryl decides they should participate in a reality television series for closure, the siblings form a tenuous bond to protect Tris and in the process learn about themselves, and the lone witness to their father's accident.

Witness has a significantly disturbed character in Aunt Cheryl, moves along at a quick pace, and features teenage siblings that are surviving to the best of their ability, yet at the same time believably self absorbed. Once the siblings reunite and decide to take action things fall too quickly into place' final scenes are tidy and almost anti-climactic as they confirm the title and premise.

out of the habit

I am chagrined to admit it has been eight months (yikes) since my last children's literature book review (A Penguin Story, 2/11/09); or, for that matter, a book review of any kind. Once a pleasurable past-time, even an ingrained habit of sorts, writing a review has become a hurdle to overcome. I have put aside several books in the last month with good intentions. Each of those titles has been returned to the library, more than one overdue.

This evening I have a book in hand (actually on the end table) and forty-five minutes until NCIS.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Tim McGraw & Terrible Towels

The new Tim McGaw song/video features live footage from the nfl kickoff game; check out the Steeler fan's with their terrible towels and a "got six" t-shirt. It almost makes me forget Tim's a Titan's fan. Well, no one's perfect.