Monday, October 29, 2012

Bankstreet Book Fest

Saturday was the the Backstreet Book Fest.
It was a wonderful day.  I got to talk to many people who share my day-to-day experiences. The whole group presentations were wonderful.  When there is video I promise to put a link here - I learned a lot about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books.  Mary Pope Osborne deserves a big thank you for her generous offer!

The best part of my day was the mock Geisel  award workshop. This was led by Caroline Ward who literally "wrote the book" for the Geisel award criteria. The Geisel award is for "a book for beginning readers who, through their literary and artistic achievements, demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading." We examined and discussed some of the contenders for this year's Geisel award.  Talking about literary excellence and the needs of beginning readers is something I don't often get a chance to do at a professional level.  Many fine librarians are hesitant to explore what beginning readers need.  It seems to smack a little to much of censorship to say that a reader needs books at a particular level or written in a particular way. But, realistically, what beginning readers really want are books that will support them as they learn to read. 

The verdict was unanimous.  Kevin Henkes Penny and her Doll is the best book for beginning reader that we looked at.  However it is very pink... For boys, Elephant and Piggy is still the best of the best.  We showed the most recent entry Let's Go For a Drive a lot of love. 

The problem is that writing really good books in a way that supports children who are learning how to read is really, really, hard.  We need more excellent authors to take up this gauntlet.  Thank you Kate Dicamillo for doing something that is hard, when you could just keep writing great books for older readers.  If you haven't read Bink and Golly, buy one for yourself and one for a friend. 

Three Little Pumpkins

On my circulation desk I have three miniature pumpkins. The first question is always "is it real?"  Usually a student will pick up a pumpkin when they ask this question.  Because this is often asked while students are on line to check out books, I answer briefly "yes, they are real pumpkins."  Many students will then identify them (a la three bears) as big, medium, and little.  Here I have some fun, saying that (picking up the largest of the three) this is a small pumpkin.  (pointing to the next) this is a smaller pumpkin, and this is my smallest pumpkin.  This explanation usually echoes back through the check out line, as students explain this to each other.  The pumpkins were 69cents each.  I'm glad I bought them.

Halloween and Sandy

Hello Sandy!  My do-list for tomorrow is rounding up materials to help students better understand storms and hurricanes, so I can be better prepared on Wednesday when we return to work.  Wednesday is also Halloween.  It will be a high impact day for the school librarian

Update on Sandy - no school on Halloween!  I hope to be back by Thursday.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

I haven't stopped reading, even if blogging fell off the radar!

Two yummy books from Net Galley:

Pale by Chris Wooding was exciting and thought provoking - until I realized it was a tease, and I only had the first few chapters!  So far, it seems like it would need almost no salesmanship - a book that could easily go viral.   This is an edgy take on some of the same themes from Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  A serum makes it possible for people come back from the dead and live for ever.  The only problem is that it only works for certain people and it is very expensive.  People are angry at the "pales" (people who are brought back and live forever) and society is crumbling.  I definitely want to finish the book!

Another delicious book:
The boy Sherlock Holmes; His Final Case.  by Shane Peacock

This is the end of a series that delivers on its promises.  I find that when watching a Sherlock Holmes TV take off, my mind wanders into the back story stunningly and believably provided here.  However, I feel that this would be a hard sell in my library.  Fun for me partly because I have enough background information to summon old London up in all its creepy glory.  (The description of Graves End is worth the price of admission! )  For kids who don't already know and love S.H.  - it just wouldn't be the same experience.