Sunday, November 24, 2013


Connecticut's School Librarians seek stakeholder support.  From SLJ.

Beyond blood: what The Hunger Games can teach tweens.  From Time.

Inside stories of memorable books.  From PW.

The Common Core's absurd new reading guidelines.  From New Republic.

When it comes to writing, Matt de la Pena puts teenagers first.  From The Spokesman-Review.

Coming soon: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  Don't recognize that red-haired female elf on the movie poster?  That would be because she's not in the book.  From PW.

75-year-old kid's book by Gertrude Stein.  From NPR.

More Harry Potter stamps revealed! From

I disagree with this a lot.  If your child is too young for a book, don't read it to them until they're old enough.  Rather than editing the book to make it conform to your personal beliefs, have a conversation with your child about sections of the book you find troubling, or that don't coincide with your family values.  Child-Proofing Harry Potter.  From The New York Times.

13 young adult movie adaptations to look for.  From GotachaMovies.

After dystopia, what's next?  From The Christian Science Monitor.

SLJ reviews The Book Thief film.

NCAC honors YA author Sherman Alexie as defender of free speech.  From SLJ.

S.E. Hinton in the Twitter age.  From The New Yorker.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere back in New Mexico's Alamogordo High School.  From SLJ.

Judy Blume's books are getting some trendy new book covers.  From Entertainment Weekly.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

AASL: Sessions Day One

Friday began the break-out sessions.  I had a very mixed experience with the sessions.  Some of them were awesome, some of them were interested but applied to specifically to the library the presenter was from, and some of them were not great.

Because I was going to be going to so many sessions on research and inquiry and making yourself essential, I started out the day with a fun one.  I went to a session called Celebrating Diversity: The Brown Bookshelf Salutes Great Books for Kids.  The speakers were authors Gwendolyn Hooks and Kelly Starling-Lyons who also write for The Brown Bookshelf, a blog dedicated to "push[ing] awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers."  Both Hooks and Starling-Lyons spoke about how they had come to writing.  Starling-Lyons talked about the first time she saw a face that looked like hers on a book.  It was Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  It had an incredible impact on her.  Her "mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery."  Hooks and Starling-Lyons went through a list of recommended titles from picture books to YA that they feel well represents African American authors.  They had some of the books and had a little contest at the end to give some of them away.

The next session I attended was The Vision of Outstanding School Library Programs, being presented by Nancy Everhart.  The room it was being held in wasn't all that big, and it was completely packed, which people sitting on every spare piece of floor and huddled around the door.  You'd think they'd expect something called "The Vision of Outstanding School Library Programs" to be popular!  Everhart, who in 2010-2011 was AASL president conducted a tour of 38 school libraries across the country to find out what made an outstanding school library program.  It was interesting to hear the story of her travels, and the experiences she had, but I wanted something more concrete.  Even after reading her full article (in the most recent issue of Teacher Librarian), I still don't feel like I really know what makes and outstanding school library program.  Everhart used the AASL school library program rubric to asses each library, and the top libraries did have many things in common, like leadership, flexible learning spaces, support inquiry, a comprehensive emission.  But I wanted even MORE than that!  How do the libraries with little funding support reading when they don't have money to buy new materials?  How did they go about making connections with other teachers and administrators?  I wanted the nitty gritty, but it wasn't there.

AASL Opening Session

At the end of last week and part of last weekend I attended the 2013 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference.  This was the first time I'd ever been to AASL.  Like ALA, it moves location each year, and since this time it was conveniently located in Hartford, Connecticut, and since my library would pay for my registration, there was no reason not to go!  I enjoyed being at a conference where all the sessions focused specifically on school libraries, and to be able to meet and talk to so many other school librarians.

The open was Thursday evening, and after lots of announcements we were greeted by the mayor of Hartford, who told us all how much he valued school librarians and how important we were.  It was kind of hard to take him seriously, however, considering how few schools in Connecticut have school librarians at all.

The opening speaker was Tony Wagner.  Tony Wagner had spoken at my school last year, and I was unimpressed.  He has lots of large ideas and few concrete ways on how to execute those ideas, so I wasn't super excited.  Tony Wagner proceeded to give the exact same speech he'd given at my school.  The exact.  Same.  Speech.  No changes.  Nothing specifically that applied to librarians, you know, the people he was talking to.  He gave his same canned speech, all about the importance of critical thinking and how curriculum is all about test prep and shouldn't be.  And I don't disagree with those things.  Not at all.  Lots of cheering and clapping for what Wagner was saying.  But we're not administrators.  We don't get to decided if the schools we work on take tests or not.  We don't get too say what classroom teachers focus on.  There were lots of places where he could have made specific library connections, but he didn't.  That would have involved rewriting his speech.  So yeah.  That was a disappointment.

So, well played Tony Wagner.  You're traveling the country making tons of money and using the same speech over and over and everyone things you're the voice of the future.  Well play indeed.

That evening I went to an independent school library mixer.  There are so many people at these conferences it's sometimes hard to make connections.  At a mixer such as this it's much smaller and easier to talk to people.  All the librarians in their 20s and 30s managed to find each other, and then we talked about things like how much we loved The Baby-Sitter's Club books.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Uninvited by Sophie Jordan.

The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

Uninvited comes out January 28, 2013.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


The song "The Fox" (you know, "What does the fox say?") is going to be a book.  I can't image it's going to be a good one for read-alouds.  From Los Angeles Times.

SLJ reviews How I Live Now and Ender's Game.

Terry Pratchett revisits The Carpet People.  From NPR.

Did you know the story of 12 Years a Slave had already been told as a picture book?  From National Geographic.

Alexander for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day has been found.  From Deadline.

First look at Harry Potter stamps!  From

Take a look at the Divergent movie poster.  Our female character, the main character in the book, gets to face away from us so we can see both her boob and her ass.  The male supporting character faces us.  Nice choice, Red Wagon Entertainment.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.

For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

The Impossible Knife of Memory comes out January 7, 2014.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Living by Matt de la Pena

Shy is spending the summer working on a cruise ship.  It seems like a pretty great job, until, on his second trip out, he witnesses a man jump to his death.  Now he's being followed and questioned, even though Shy knows nothing about the man.  Then an enormous earthquake hits California, followed by a tsunami, destroying the ship.

This is the first book in a series.  I hadn't read anything by Matt de la Pena before, even though Mexican Whiteboy has been on my "to read" list forever.

The Living mixes two dystopia/science fiction elements together: natural disaster and virus outbreak.  Before the massive earthquake, we learn that Shy's grandmother and Carmen's (another cruise worker who Shy has a thing for) father both died of Romero disease, a new illness that's spreading over the Mexican border into California.  It kills very quickly, if you aren't diagnosed right away.  After the earthquake, which is huge, off the Richter scale, levels much of the West Coast, the disease runs rampant.  And there's a TERRIBLE SECRET behind the disease, and it's linked to that man Shy saw jump from the ship.

Aside from the dystopian aspects of the book, which yeah, is the main focus, there's a lot in there about class differences.  Shy is all too aware of the difference between him and the people who pay to be on the cruise.  Are their lives worth more than his?  It doesn't seem so, especially after the ship is gone, and Shy is on a lifeboat with a rich girl, Addie who wasn't all that friendly to him before and clearly looked down on him.  But through their shared experience of suffering, they grow closer.

Shy and Addie end up on one of the Hidden Island that are contacted with the company the man who committed suicide worked for.  Shy is reunited with the other ship survivors, only to discover the horrifying truth about Romero disease.  Addie disappears, supposedly with her father, who works with this company, but I'm sure they'll be reunited in a later book.  Shy feels like she betrayed him, even though he's sure Addie couldn't have known what was really going on.

It was a gripping story and I enjoyed it.  A good pick for science fiction fans and fans of dystopia alike.

The Living comes out November 12, 2013.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


A teen snags a $300,000 book deal by writing about her own experience using a 1950s etiquette guide.  From New York Post.

Why adults might turn to children's books.  From McLean's.

Literary classics for the teething set.  From The New York Times.

Five series your probably missed as a kid but should read as an adult.  From The Millions.

20 of the most beautiful children's books in the world.  From apartment therapy.

State Librarian advocates for Michigan school librarians.  From SLJ.

Super cool, feminist bookstore Women and Children First is looking to sell.  From NPR.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The F- It List by Julie Halpern

Best friends Alex and Becca haven't spoken all summer after Becca did something terrible on the day of Alex's father's funeral.  On the first day of school when Alex is all ready to forgive her, she learns that Becca has been diagnosed with cancer.  Now Becca wants Alex to complete her bucket list (renamed the f- it list), just in case she isn't able to do it herself.

So now I've read two books in a row about death and overcoming guilt.  This one had a much lighter touch then Ketchup Clouds.  I'd read Julie Halpern's Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, which I loved, and this had the same light wit.

Alex was already dealing with a lot, what with the death of her father, and it feels, to her, that the bad things just keep on piling up.  And that she seems to be the common denominator.  She knows she didn't cause her father to die (he was killed in a taxi accident) or cause Becca to have cancer, but that doesn't stop the guilt she keeps feeling that she alive and healthy.  Becca deals with this by not allowing herself to really feel.

She quickly runs into a problem, however, when she starts spending more time with Leo, a guy from school Alex has always kind of had a crush on but never really talked to before.  Alex wants it to just be physically relationship.  Just something that can let her feel good for a little while, but won't get in the way of all the things she has going on.  But Leo is more than just that, and when Leo has a family death of his own, Alex can't stand it, and she bails.

I thought The F-It List did a great job showing how Alex felt she had to be strong and tough all the time, and how that and her feelings of guilt (and she really didn't have anything to be guilty for) lead her to shut herself off from everyone - her brothers, her mother, the boy who actually really liked her, all in the name of having to focus on Becca or take care of her mom.  Becca is the one who finally tells Alex to stop using other people as an excuse not to deal with her feelings, which is exactly what Alex was doing.

The book also had a pretty thoughtful portrayal of sex.  Alex and Leo have sex not long into their relationship, and while it's physically very satisfying, Alex is trying to keep feelings out of it, which is hard for both of them.  After being apart for a while, they start their relationship up again, but they hold off having sex for a while, allowing themselves to truly get to know each other beyond a physical relationship.

The F- It List comes out November 12, 2013.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Entertainment Weekly is having a contest to decide the best YA novel of all time!  Unfortunately, they don't quite seem to understand what YA is.

There's going to be a teenage Muslim girl superhero!  Go Marvel!  From The New York Times.

Publishers respond to Common Core.  From PW.

10 of the creepiest children's books kids love.  From babble.

Ender's Game and Orson Scott Card: a teachable moment.  From SLJ.

So you want to right a gay young adult novel.  From The Backlot

R.L. Stine on reviving Fear Street.  From Vulture.

A conversation with Tomie dePaola.  From PW.

Book to movie updates:  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo will be coming from New Line, and Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey will be coming from DreamWorks Animation.

Rebecca Stead is the first US author to win Guardian Kid Lit prize.  From SLJ.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine.

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine.

 Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

The Promise of Amazing comes out December 31, 2013.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

After a traumatic event in Zoe's life, she begins writing to Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate convicted of murdering his wife.  Zoe writes to Mr. Harris, telling him her story, knowing he'll understand, because they both were responsible for the death of someone they loved.

It was an interesting book, and I enjoyed it.  The framing devices worked well.  Zoe can't tell anyone the truth about what happened to her, and she feels safe writing to Mr. Harris.  First of all, she feels he'll understand.  Second, she doesn't use her real name or address, so no one can ever find her.  And finally, Mr. Harris is going to be executed.  Zoe is telling someone her secret, but soon there will once again be no one in the world who knows.

Zoe begins telling her story three months after the event happened, and writes throughout that year until the first anniversary on May 1, also the date that Mr. Harris is to get his lethal injection.  Zoe tells, in great detail, meeting two brothers, Aaron and Max at a party (although she doesn't know they're brothers at the time).  Zoe feels drawn to Aaron, but Max goes to her high school, is very popular and seems interested in Zoe.  Zoe and Max start hooking up, although Zoe keeps an eye out for Aaron (who is older and in college).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

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