Monday, January 21, 2013

Learning, Growing & Figuring It All Out!

I am well into my 2nd year as a library media specialist and each day I learn something new and  realize how much there is still to learn. On a constant quest to be a little bit more knowledgeable each day,  I have relied a lot on Twitter.  Through this tool, I have discovered books, tools, and  techniques that help me be a better librarian.  I have also "met" people who have offered advice and feedback that are important in order to grow. And in November, I was even asked to write a guest blog for The Nerdy Book Club, which was huge to me because many of the people I learn the most from on Twitter are part of The Nerdy Book Club!!

It is funny to look back over the last year and a half, and think about how often I felt like there was so much I didn't know, almost an unwritten code that I wasn't privy to.  Honestly, there are still hashtags I don't understand, ways to post that I'm unclear on, and great people I'm not following yet, but the learning that takes place every time I open Twitter is invaluable.  And I feel in awe of the people who seem to read 100's of books (even before they are able to be bought!), post about the books in their blogs, and then Tweet so effortlessly!

I have also been envious of the people in my PLN that were reading books before they were even able to be purchased!  HOW were they getting these books??  Part of that unknown area for me... And then I went to my first library conference, TLA last April.  WOW!  So many great sessions and so many treats to be had!  I discovered ARCs, and grew muscles over those three days of visiting the exhibit hall and dragging bags of books around!  I didn't even realize at the time the treasures I had, and the gifts I could share with my readers back at school!  But, TLA only comes around once a year...

Even though I have access to many books in my school library that I have yet to read,  there is still that desire to get the next book in a series as soon as you can, even before you can buy it!  Recently, that book was The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen.  Thanks to my librarian friend, Nitza, I had read, The False Prince, the first book in this series, last fall and could not wait until the next book came out.  People started talking about it on Twitter about a month ago, and I was so anxious to get my hands on the book.   THEN I  found out about from my Twitter friends!  For readers who blog, review and share with others, you can request ARC ebooks!  AND The Runaway King was one you could request! I couldn't believe my luck!! I submitted my information and requested books I was interested in, and amazingly enough, I was approved for The Runaway King as well as a couple other books that were all abuzz on Twitter!  I felt like I was now in on the secret!!  Thanks to my Twitter PLN, I get a little more knowledgeable each day!

I can't wait to share with you how FABULOUS The Runaway King is, but that is a post all on its own!

Happy Learning, Growing & Reading!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Holiday Reading

For clarification purposes, I had previously used this blog for one of my graduate classes while earning my MLS.  I've decided to now use it for sharing thoughts separate from my library blog.  As an elementary librarian, not all of the books I read are suitable for my students, but I would like to share them with someone!  So I will now use this blog for that purpose, as well as other reading I am doing!  I will then use my library blog to hi-light events in our library.  Now let's just hope I can keep up with both of these! 

I love holidays for a variety of reasons: spending time with family, catching up on rest AND the time it gives me to read!!  This past week, I have been spending a lot (just ask my husband!) of time reading!  I finished my Goodreads Reading Challenge just in the nick of time (on December 31st!!) by reading a few new picture books I had brought home from school.  Here are some of the books I have enjoyed this week:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I have heard about this book for quite awhile from many people on Twitter, but had yet to read it.  Since everyone gets books for Christmas in our house (surprise, right!) I bought this for my 14 year-old daughter.  She was going on a road trip a couple of days before Christmas, so I let her open it early.  It was finished before the road trip ended!  The book then went to my niece, who, by her own admissions, doesn't read much.  Two days later I got a text that said, "I finished the book yesterday!" and "It was so good!!"  Finally, it was my turn to read it!

Like them, I devoured the book and found it to be just as good as everyone was saying!  No surprise, it is a New York Times #1 Bestseller!

Hazel, a sixteen year-old diagnosed a few years earlier with cancer, meets Augustus at a cancer support group meeting and quickly falls in love with him.  The characters have a quirkiness about them, that has the reader falling in love with both of them! When Hazel shares with Gus her favorite book and the questions she has for the author about the ending of the book, Gus makes it his priority to connect her with the author. This book will make you laugh our loud and shed a few tears, and it will stay with you long after you finish it!

Pick up the book and a box of tissues and start reading!

Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team
by Audrey Vernick and Steven Salerno 
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book and learning about the Acerra family.  I've had this in my library for a few months and had seen talk of it through my Twitter PLN, so it was one I packed up to read during the holidays.  It is an easy to read book about this amazing family that consisted of 12 boys and four girls.  With 12 boys, who all loved playing baseball, it was a natural fit for them to form a baseball team.  I love reading a book and learning something new.  I didn't know that there were several family teams playing baseball around this same time.  Not only were the brothers great athletes, they also demonstrated good character.  Six of the brothers fought in World War II, and all six came back home.  This book is sure to be a favorite with baseball lovers, but is an enjoyable read for anyone!
Visit the Author's Website for more information about this remarkable family!
Twelve Kinds of Ice
 by Ellen Bryan Obed and Illustrated by Barbara McClintock
 If I could pick a theme for the books that I have read, without meaning to have a theme, it would seem it is FAMILY, which is very appropriate for this time of year when we are surrounded by family!  Twelve Kinds of Ice is a quiet, peaceful book about the coming of winter demonstrated by the thickening of ice.  Living in Texas, this is a book that allowed me to experience winter in a much different way than what I am accustomed to, which is a gift I am taking from this book. 
As the first signs of ice appears, one family prepares for another wonderful winter when they will be able to eventually create their very own ice skating rink to share with their family and friends. This is when the "Perfect Ice" has finally arrived.  The joy that this family experiences each winter, waiting through the different phases of ice, helps the reader enjoy  the simpler things in life.  This book is a wonderful example of how to really see and appreciate all that nature has to offer.
During this week I have read several other picture books and chapter books, and then finally I decided to make my goals for the new year.  I have set my goal for the Goodreads Challenge at 250, with an additional goal to remember to put all of my books into Goodreads!  :)  My hope is that I will reach this goal quickly and easily and then adjust accordingly!  Happy New Year and Happy Reading!!



Monday, August 1, 2011

Book List

Chapter Books:
The Tequila Worm- Pura Belpre
One Crazy Summer- Coretta Scott King
Out of My Mind- Bluebonnet
Wild Times at the Bed & Biscuit- Bluebonnet
Turtle in Paradise- Newbery
26 Fairmount Avenue- Newbery
Shiloh- Newbery
The Cricket in Times Square- Newbery
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda-Notable
When You Reach Me- New York Times Bestseller
The Hunger Games
The Witches- Most Challenged
Anastasia Krupnik- Most Challenged
Bridge to Terabithia- Most Challenged

Picture Books
First Day in Grapes- Pura Belpre
Goin' Someplace Special- Coretta Scott King
A Sick Day for Amos McGee- Caldecott
Henry's Freedom Box- Caldecott
Knuffle Bunny- Caldecott
Ella Sarah Gets Dressed- Caldecott
Goal!- Bluebonnet
The Duchess of Whimsy- Bluebonnet
The Quiet Book- Notable
Selavi- Notable
It's a Book- New York Times Bestseller
Interrupting Chicken- New York Times Bestseller
And Tango Makes Three- Most Challenged
In the Night Kitchen- Most Challenged

Anastasia Krupnik

Lowry, L. (1979). Anastasia Krupnik. New York: Random House.
This book is on the 100 Most Challenged List.

Anastasia Krupnik is, obviously, the main character in this series.  This first book introduces us to a precocious ten year old who is dealing with issues such as school crushes and her parents having a new baby. Anastasia is struggling with the impending birth of her new baby brother, and having been an only child for ten years, really sees not sense in it!  This reminded me of my oldest daughter and her reaction, as a 7 year old, to the news that she would be a big sister.  It was very similar to Anastasia's!  Anastasia seems wise beyond her years, and I'm sure that has to do with her parents treating her almost as a little adult.  She often treats them like they are all equals, even asking why they wouldn't have talked with her before deciding to have another child. One of the parts that I really identified with was when she spent days writing the poem for school.  With her dad being a poet, she obviously felt a lot of pressure to succeed on this assignment.  Poor Anastasia was devastated when the teacher gave her an F.  This is something that frequently happens in schools, when creative students are punished for their creativity.  The teacher, Mrs. Westvessel, was upset that Anastasia hadn't followed the directions exactly.  Anastasia probably spent much more time on her poem than the students who made up a quick little rhyming poem. Young readers will be able to sympathize with Anastasia and the lack of understanding from her teacher about her poem.   

After reading the first book, I was a little surprised it made it to the 100 Most Challenged List.  There are several references to beer and her father does let her drink the foam off the top, but I really didn't notice anything offensive or inappropriate.  In searching online about the challenges on the series, I did note that there are references to suicide and an adult magazine in the series, so I would assume that is why the series has been challenged.

When You Reach Me

Stead, R. (2009). When you reach me. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.
This book has been on the New York Times Bestseller for Children List.

When You Reach Me was a very engaging read that kept me interested until the very end.  With two story lines, one with Miranda's mom practicing to be on The $20,000 Pyramid show and the other with Miranda's friendships with various people (Sal, Marcus, Annemarie) in the story and how that plays a part of "the story" she is suppose to write.  The reader is left wondering what is going on and the only way to find out is to keep reading!  Miranda's favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time and this is about the only book she reads.  She begins a conversation with another student about time travel, which gets her mind going as well as the reader's mind. The reader knows this is important, but the author weaves such a tight story, that you aren't sure exactly how everything will play out.  There are also secondary characters that play important parts in the story, and again, it takes a little while for the reader to figure out exactly what role they play.  You know the laughing man (the crazy man on the street) is an important character, but you aren't quite sure what role he will play.  As you continue to read, you feel the loss that Miranda feels from the unraveling of her friendship with Sal.  You also cheer a little when Colin gets up the nerve to give her a kiss and she kisses him back.  Stead does an excellent job of capturing the reader and putting you right in the middle of the story.  You can even understand Miranda's confusion about time traveling as Marcus attempts to explain it all to her.  And then you are intrigued by the notes she gets throughout the story, trying to figure out who is writing them.  With the secondary story of Annemarie's epilepsy, it makes the reader wonder which friend's life will be saved.  All of these questions are answered at the end, leaving the reader with a feeling of satisfaction.

This is a great book that I can't wait to recommend to readers.  I was disappointed when my daughter told me she tried to read it and didn't really care for it.  I thought the story kept the reader interested, and other than the confusion of trying to understand time travel (whether you see yourself going if you get back 5 minutes before you left) it was a book that you didn't want to put down!

And Tango Makes Three

Richardson, J., & Parnell, P. (2005). And Tango makes three. New York: Simon & Schuster Books.
This is one of the Most Challenged books.  The story is about a penguin who has two dads instead of a mom and a dad.  In the book, this message is made very clear, so even though it is a true story, there appears to be a message in it also.

This is a true story about two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who developed a close friendship that led to them mimicking other penguin couples at the zoo.  The two penguins, Roy and Silo, did everything like the other penguin couples, other than actually have a baby penguin.  They even went so far as sitting on a rock, hoping that a baby penguin would hatch.  The zoo keeper eventually found them an egg, which they cared for until it hatched, and out came Tango, their very own baby penguin.  They then raised Tango and cared for her, like all the other penguin families at the zoo. It definitely has a "happily ever after" ending. 

This story is illustrated beautifully by Henry Cole.  These illustrations support the story and help the reader see the love between this penguin family.  The authors do make it clear throughout the story that these are two boy penguins, and how they didn't pay attention to the girl penguins.  At one point, their keeper says, "They must be in love."  As with other books, I wonder about the purpose of this book.  Is it to tell a story about two penguins at the zoo or is there an deeper message in the text?  Young readers would not understand the deeper message, but the adults in their world would, which is how this book became a "most challenged" book.  It is a sweet story, but I have discovered that it is not in any school library in my district.


Meyer, S. (2005). Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

The story starts off kind of ominous, with the narrator saying that she had never really thought about how she would die.  This page sets the tone for the whole book.  Bella, the main character goes to live with her dad in Washington State after her mom remarries.  She is a little uncertain about this, since she she hasn't been there in a while, but the alternative is less attractive.  Bella's dad, Charlie, tries to make things as comfortable as possible for her, and Bella tries to adjust to being a high school student in a new school.  Bella is immediately entranced with a strange looking boy named Edward Cullen, who she discovers is a foster child of a local doctor.  She has an uneasy feeling about Edward, but is also immensely attracted to him and it is obvious that the feeling is mutual.  To keep the story interesting, a couple of other boys are also interested in Bella.  Jacob Black, whose family Bella has known since she was little, comes into the story and develops a romantic interest in Bella.  Eventually Bella discovers that Edward is a vampire and that her life is constantly in danger when she is around him.  Add to that the love triangle that develops between her, Edward, and Jacob and you have a hard to put down read.  As the story develops, Edward shares secrets about his life with Bella, and even introduces her to his family, who are also vampires.  Bella finds that adusting to being in love with a vampire is much harder than adusting to a new home or a new school.  She also finds herself in dangerous situations with not only Edward (who is constantly fighting off his hunger for blood) but also his family.

Although the writing is simplistic, the storyline makes this a "can't put down" kind of book.  You keep reading to find out how things will turn out between Bella and Edward, and what role Jacob will play in the story and their developing relationship.  You keep reading to find out if Bella survives being friendly with a family of vampires, especially since the story begins with her contemplating her death.  The writing might not be considered the highest quality of literature, but the story does keep you reading!  Meyer's use of language helps paint a picture of Edward that helps the reader visualize his sparkly skin in the sunlight, or the color of his eyes which gives Bella an indication of his need for blood.  The writing is clear and descriptive, so the reader is easily able to "see" everything that is going on.  It is definitely an easy, enjoyable read!