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Posts Tagged ‘Librarianship’

In an effort to update more consistantly I will be changing things up a little bit on the old blog here. This summer I hope to do absolutley nothing but read and then blog about what I’m reading. The first change I’m hoping to implement is a feature I’ve seen on a few blogs I follow called Top Ten Tuesday where bloggers will have a list of ten book-related somethings each Tuesday.

Last week I interviewed for a Children’s Librarian Position at a public library. This is a job I would LOVE to have. For this particular interview I did I was instructed to develop a presentation as if I were talking to children. I picked a storytime and I used one of my favorite children’s books ever: Zen Ties by Jon J. Muth.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel like the interview went really well. I should hear one way or another by Friday.
So! As I was preparing for and giving this presentation it hit me just how much I truly love children’s literature. The first exposure I ever had to literature was through these easy board books. I was so fortunate to have parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles who knew the value of reading and who shared it with me often and so I was reading before I ever went to school. Books were always a constant in my house and luckily for me right down the street from my childhood home was a branch of the local public library!

Top Ten Tuesday: Tuesday June 5, 2012: Top Ten Children’s Books 10-6 (stay tuned next week for 5-1):

10. Hey, Al. Author: Arthur Yorkins. Illustrator: Richard Egielski. Publication Date: 1986

Hey, AlAs we move through this list you will notice that I have a tendency to pick out books with animals in them. I have loved animals all of my life and books about animals were my absolute favorites growing up. That being the case, I didn’t read, or even hear of Hey, Al, a book of beautiful birds and one sweet pup, until I was doing my student teaching in an elementary school. As soon as I read it, I fell in love with it and knew that I was going to have to include this book in a lesson soon! This story is about a custodian named Al and his beloved Dog, Eddie. The two have a very hard life so when a bird mysteriously shows up and offers to take them to paradise, the two readily agree. They soon find that paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and venture back home, but the journey home isn’t going to be accomplished easily. The illustrations are beautiful and colorful and the best part of the book.The illustrations are so amazing that Hey, Al won the Caldecott in 1987. 4 out of 5 stars!

 9. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Author: Judith Viorst. Illustrator: Ray Cruz Publication Date: 1972

Book CoverWhen I was in first grade my school librarian read this book to us on our first visit to the library. What a coincidence because it just so happened that I was also in the throes of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day myself. I don’t remember what all had made my day so bad but I remember listening intently to the story. As the librarian read the book to us I found myself laughing out loud and found my own personal bad day melting away. This was one of the first times I discovered that a great book can take you out of your own life for a little while and help you escape from reality. The book became very popular over the years spawning a television show and a musical theater show. It also was named one of ALA’s notable children’s books and produced a sequel in which Alexander has a very good day. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

8. The Giving Tree. Author & Illustrator: Shel Silverstein. Publication Date: 1964
Cover to The Giving Tree, depicting the tree giving away an apple
How much did I cry when first I read The Giving Tree? A lot. I love this book, but I find myself resenting the boy. The book is about a boy who discovers a personified tree. The tree loves the boy so that he provides anything the boy asks- shade, food, wood, companionship.. and yet the boy never seemed to give anything back to the tree. I like this book because I feel like it was a book that shaped who I am as a person today in a huge way. I was so ashamed of the boys behavior and how he took the tree for granted that I never wanted to do that to anyone or anything in my life. As I read the book when I was older, through my tears, I discovered that to me, the tree is a metaphor for God (“and she loved a little boy very, very much- even more than she loved herself”) and the boy is representative of the human race as a whole. But that’s just me reading in to everything. The illustrations are typical Shel Silverstein drawings which is to say unique and adequate. There’s nothing overly special about them, they’re simple and to the point which is what makes them special.  4.5 out of 5 stars. Some people disagree with me about the illustrations though. Check out what I found online:

7. Stellaluna. Author & Illustrator: Janell Cannon. Publication Date: 1993.
Stellaluna is the story of a sweet fruit bat named Stellaluna that gets seperated from her mother and her siblings. She stumbles into a bird nest and becomes convinced that she is also a bird! The story shows Stellaluna trying to fit in as a bird, but there’s no changing it, she’s a bat. The illustrations are very vibrant and colorful and in my experience they hold children’s attention very well. This is another one of those animals stories that I just love. I had a hard time choosing which of Cannon’s books to include on this list (she also has Pinduli about a heyena and Verdi about a snake) but I went with this one because I remembered seeing it on Reading Rainbow as a child! Cannon won the Bat Conservation Award from the Organization for Bat Conservation in 2005 for this story! 4 out of 5 stars!

6. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. Author and Illustrator: Mo Willems. Publication Date: 2004.
Knufflebunny1.JPG

I laughed out loud as I read Knuffle Bunny the first time. I instantly fell in love with Mo Willems and devourered everything he’s written since then. Knuffle Bunny tells the story of Trixie and her dad who make their way through the city to the laundromat where Trixie has a great time. On the way home though she starts to get a little fussy and Dad can’t figure out why.  Upon their return home Mom immediatley knows what’s wrong- KB is MISSING! The book is awesome and I was so thrilled when two more KB books were published in the series. Through the three books we get to see little Trixie grow up and we watch her relationship with KB change and evolve. It was so reminiscent of my relationship with my stuffed dinosaur, Gunther, who was so loved that in the process of sleeping with Gunther nightly I broke his neck and pulled most of his fur out. The story is fun and fast paced but what really makes this book a gem is the illustrations. Willems blends photographs of NYC with hand-drawn pictures to create a realistic reading experience. 5 out of 5 stars!

Check back next Tuesday to see which books came in fifth-first place!

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It has been forever and a day since I have written a post, but it has been a heck of a few months for me. Since school got out G and I decided to spend the majority of our summer in the NC Mountains. I had hoped to be able to leave the school that I was at and move, preferably west. Before we left for the mountains, I had not heard anything from any of the schools I applied to so we decided to stick it out where we were for another year and then I would try again next summer. However, the townhouse that we were living in was way too expensive for what we got and we started to have some major problems with the Home Owners Association. So, we put a deposit down for a great stand alone house just down the road. It was roomier, cheaper and without an overbearing HOA. We had been in the mountains for a few weeks when I got a phone call to interview for a middle school position one county over from where we were (in the mountains). I interviewed and the very next day the principal called and offered me the position!

Great, but this meant that we just lost $900 in the deposit and we had to move across the state in about one week! Eek! In the end, we worked it all out and got moved (though it was a nightmare!) and I started my first day as a middle school librarian yesterday!

I love to read the daring librarian blog and I enjoy writing this blog (when I’m not rushing to move across North Carolina, that is!) and so I have decided to start a new blog that focuses on school librarianship. I wanted to do this last year and I rue the fact that I did not. However, I am now in a new school and at a new level and even though this will be my second year as an official, licensed librarian it still feels like I am a first year. The other blog (which I haven’t started yet so I don’t have a URL to share) will chronicle the year ahead. I will be sharing daily life as a MS librarian, relevant articles and issues in school librarianship as well as in public education in general, reviews of YA novels and anything library related.

But, back to this blog…

What have I been reading since I last wrote… Hmm, let me see… the last post I made was about Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home. It feels like so long ago that I read that book (and it kind of was- almost two months)! I read Finding Grace (which I won in a giveaway on GoodReads, so exciting), A Discovery of Witches, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Wench, A Visit From The Goon Squad, These Things Hidden, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Romiette and Julio (for the Battle of the Books competition this year. Another exciting thing about moving up to MS is that I get to coach a BOB team!), and I am currently reading the very lengthy first book in the Outlander series, aptly named Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Since it has been so long, I decided to not just pick one to write about, but rather to do a quick review of each one (save for Outlander since I have not finished it yet, but so far I am loving the book!)

Finding Grace by Sarah Pawley
I liked this book. I liked it. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I liked it. The main character, Grace, strongly reminded me of myself. She was a very precocious farm girl who loved to read. When her overbearing family attempted to force her into marriage, she runs away to Chicago to live with her older brother who had also fled the farm. There she meets and falls for an older man. However, as typical of stories, her past comes back to haunt her. I found this book to be typical. I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened in it. It was well written but it didn’t grab me, and in fact, it took me a while to buckle down and finish it.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I was so excited to read this book. I read about it on IndieBound as it was a recommended on and then it became a top wished-for book on there. I knew it would be great! It has vampires! It has witches! It has England! It has LIBRARIES! I did not like this book. It felt ridiculous and forced and it was nothing more than a grown-up version of Twilight. I skimmed the last fifty pages because I was so ready to read something, ANYTHING, else. which leads us to the next book I read, and enjoyed…

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This book was sent to me as a gift from my aunt who loved it. I took it with me to the beach and I ended up reading it all in one day. It wasn’t anything super special and I’m not exactly sure why it won the Pulitzer, but it was a good, quick and engaging read. It is confusing at times and it is told from multiple perspectives (but not in the Jodi Picoult way that I enjoy (see the review for These Things Hidden below). And as soon as you think that Oscar is going to be okay, he’s not. And that shouldn’t have surprised and affected me as much as it did since the book tells me that his life is going to be brief.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
This is another one that I had been excited to get my paws on since IndieBound raved about it. This one was good. It was so odd though. I finished this book in a chair on a riverbank in the NC Mountains. A man in a kayak rowed by and asked me what I was reading about. And I told him that I honestly was not sure! It’s bizarre and confusing and fun. When I was in Asheville I went to my very favorite bookstore and it was a recommended read there. Good choice, good read, but be warned, you will be craving lemon cake for weeks! (I had to cave in and bake one). Also, check out Synesthesia.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
I bought this one from a used bookstore. It caught my eye in Barnes and Noble one night and the cover said something about how this book is good for those that also enjoyed The Help (which you know I did as I named it my book of the year for 2010, yes even though it was released in 2009- get over it!). Since the cover promised a likeness to one of my favorite books I added it to my to-read list and finally caved and bought it when I realized that the library was never going to get their copy back. It was mediocre. I didn’t care much about the characters. And, it was nothing like The Help. Yeah, okay, so it dealt with slavery. So? Just because there is a book with African American women in it it automatically has to be like The Help? Don’t think so.

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
I first heard about this book from a Kindergarten teacher at my old school. She said she really enjoyed it and read it in her book club but she would really like to go back and read it again since everything kind of comes together in the end. Knowing each of the characters and how they connect to the main character, I totally see what she means. I then heard about this book on GoodReads as it was the book of the month pick for July. This book was my second Pulitzer winner I read this summer. I must say I enjoyed this one MUCH more than I did Oscar Wao. Beware though before going in that there are many, many characters in this book. So many that I had to make a character map that expanded into more than one page. All of the characters all are connected through the main one. Super confusing if you don’t read carefully, so do- I highly recommend this book!

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
If I have to choose one book to recommend from the list it’s this one. A mystery of sorts told through multi-character POVs (in a good Jodi Picoult way) with a surprise twist at the end. As soon as I finished this one I gave it to G’s mom to read and she devoured it in a day. I am so excited to read her other book The Weight of Silence

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
Common sense information. I wouldn’t bother.

Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper
This was the first Battle of the Books book I read. I just have to say that I am so thankful that not all YA novels are written this poorly, especially Drapers books! Her Hazelwood Trilogy is wildly popular and she wins so many Coretta Scott King awards I had such high hopes for this book. I saw what Draper was attempting to do here, but in my humble opinion she failed. It was a great idea, but it lacked any reality and I don’t think that teens are going to swallow this book. To me, it felt as if Draper wasn’t giving any intelligence credit to youngsters. I can only hope that the rest of the BOB books are better than this one. What a chore to get through.

Enough for now I have again written too much. I will try to write more frequently and smaller posts. Next up, my review of Outlander, stay tuned!

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