Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It's Cybils Time!

I am excited to announce that I was selected to be on the Fiction Picture Book and Board Book judging panel for Cybils once again! These are books nominated by YOU, the readers - or even the writers - not just books with some sort of big name connections. For a full explanation of what qualifies a book for this category, click here, then begin thinking about books you have read this year that just blew you away! 

Nominations begin October 1, and I will have a post up then of titles that I think deserve at least a look in their respective categories. I peruse the nominee lists in other categories with a stack of order cards in hand, because there are always some I haven't heard of but MUST have in my collection. Can't wait to start reading and reviewing for our category, as well as getting to know the rest of the panelists!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Open Season series by Annie Wendt Hemstock

I was very happy to find this series in a catalog recently (*yes, publishers, we still want to see print catalogs - we are ordering print materials, after all!). This is a subject area I have had requests for, but it has been hard to find an accessible series around an upper elementary reading level, that isn't sensationalist or too basic to be of any use.

 Some members of my family and my community hunt, others do not. Regardless of that choice, it is always good to be aware of laws and safety, so I started off by checking through this title:


Of course, hunting laws are going to vary by state, but Hemstock gives a good overview of things you need to find out before you head out. She explains licenses and stamps, bag limits and seasons, registering your kill and making sure you have not strayed into the wrong area. She also explains why laws are needed, both for humans and for animals, and what can happen if they are not followed.

The very first thing mentioned under safety is assuming a weapon is always loaded, which I was pleased to see. Hemstock also covers other hunting gear, weather concerns, and attire (did you know that most animals do not see bright orange as a bright color? I think I should have known that, but I didn't!)

Satisfied with that one, I moved on to:


Parts of this were almost word for word the speech my kids hear from NM Game and Fish every year. If anything, it was more detailed, and ends again with a section about safety and conservation.

Last I compared these two:

Many adults do not know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun. Either of these titles will explain the difference, both in how they fire and in when and where they are most likely to be used. Parts of the weapon, different gauges, types of ammunition, and of course laws and safety are all discussed. 

Now, while I like to shoot, I am not a hunter myself. Before I passed judgement I handed these over to my husband, a life-long hunter, to inspect. 

In these four titles he only found one small error, which is actually corrected in other places: Hunting with Shotguns says that all states require hunter education classes, but it actually varies from state to state. Other than that, he was quite impressed with the thoroughness and accuracy! We are both looking forward to receiving the other titles in the series (Bow Hunting and Hunting Gear)

If you have any small segment at all of your community that is interested in hunting, I can wholeheartedly recommend this series for your shelves!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review - Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown by Eric Litwin and Tom Lichtenheld

I am always happy to get a new title from Eric Litwin in my hands, but sad that this time I did not have time to interview him. (Beginning bloggers, Litwin is one of the easiest people in the world to interview! Just set up a tape recorder and let him start talking: you'll never be able to keep up taking notes by hand!) If you would like to check out some earlier interviews with him, all about early literacy and working with Lichtenheld, click here and here.


Groovy Joe first appeared with Ice Cream and Dinosaurs, which has quickly become one of our story time staples. I even used it in a recent workshop for reading mentors, as an example of giving kids a chance to participate and predict during a read-aloud. Dance Party Countdown continues with the same predictable (in a good way!) patterns, catchy phrases, and a danceable refrain (In disco style this time! Bonus, I can show off my moves!)

New to this title is the inclusion of a little math. The size of the crowd keeps doubling, but does that upset Joe? If you have read the first title, you know the answer to that! We also have the appearance of various musical instruments. Not sure I've ever seen a tuba used in disco music, but, to each his own! 

Lichtenheld's whimsy is again a perfect match to Litwin's sense of fun. The chipmunk in shades is back, and doggie band members range from an Elvis-like dalmatian to dachshund in a beret, all clearly having a great time.

A fun extension would be to have the kids name the pictured instruments they know, and look up the others. Have a musical instrument tasting party, where kids can hear the sounds each one makes and see how they are played. What type of music might include a tuba? A cello? An electric guitar? Play different types of music and see what instruments kids can pick out. I see this one getting a lot of mileage in the 2018 summer reading program, "Libraries Rock"!

The math of course offers more extensions. How far can your kids go in doubling the numbers? Try out the old story of the man who agrees to work for a penny on his first day, 2 cents the next, 4 cents the third, and so forth - how much would he have made in a week? A month? A year?

You'll want at least one copy of this one, probably more if you are going with the music theme this summer!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Review: Create with Duct Tape series

Here's an argument for the ages: is it "duck tape", or "duct tape"? I have always said duct tape, and held that "Duck" tape is a brand name, but I have had people correct me. Turns out, we are both right, but you'll have to read the introduction to find out why:



If you are a librarian, I do not have to tell you that DUCT tape crafts are very popular, especially with teens. We had a craft night this summer with all sorts of fun possibilities, and all anyone wanted to play with was the duct tape!

You may also know that it can be difficult to find simple, printable tutorials online (huge thanks to the librarians who had made their own and shared them with me!) I would have loved to have these books on hand - most projects are detailed in a two-page spread, making it easy to prop the book open and follow along as you work. The projects are also more diverse than the old duct tape wallets and bookmarks, while not requiring too many out-of-the-ordinary materials, or too much technical skill. And they are cute!

Web sites at the end of each book offer more ideas, a history of DUCK tape, and other related information.

I guess there's only one thing to do now - we'll have to schedule another crafting day so I can make use of these and the other titles in the series (Duct Tape Costumes and Duct Tape Fashion), which of course, we will also be ordering.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review: Too Big or Too Small? by Catherine Leblanc and Eve Tharlet


There seem to be several times in our life when we are either too big or too small for everything we want to do. My Christopher is eleven, just started middle school, and I'm sure feels like he is firmly stuck in that spot. Growing out of toddlerhood, as Little Bear is, is another such time.

Little Bear is clever enough to turn the tables on his parents, though. As Daddy reaches for something up high, Little Bear tells him he is much too small. When Mama snitches frosting, he scolds that she is much too big for that. Both parents realize what he is trying to tell them, and together they come up with some things that he is just the right size for.

A gentle story to share with your little one, to show them you recognize their frustrations, and to turn into a positive discussion.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Review: Even Fairies Fart by Jennifer Stinson and Rebecca Ashdown


Farts, underwear, boogers - they are all in vogue these days - to the point that a librarian might see this title and sigh, <sarcasm font> "Oh goodie, another one." <end sarcasm font>

There is a bit more to this title than just flatulence, however. There's nose-picking, too!

Seriously, though, here is the online description:

Turns out nobody is perfect! Queens and kings; giants and trolls, and yes, even princesses all make mistakes! In this endearing and hilarious picture book by Jennifer Stinson, young readers can take a peek into the marvelous mess-ups and ferocious faux-pas of fairy-tale characters.

The fairy tale creatures described in Stinson's rhyming verse and Ashdown's expressive illustrations sound a lot like any child you know. The mermaids don't want to comb their hair, and the troll (with pacifier necklace) gets put in time out for trying to cook the goat. Well, okay, none of my children have tried to cook a goat YET, but the hair thing is definitely a daily issue.

The paper jacket cover has shiny-smooth letters and sparkly glittery clouds, so between illustrations and title, both your princesses and your roughnecks should be intrigued. A cute read-aloud for a child or class who needs to hear the nobody's perfect message.