Saturday, June 24, 2017

Munro vs the Coyote

From NetGalley:
Munro vs. the Coyote by Darren Groth, Orca Book Publishers, publication date: October 17, 2017

I have to admit I'm not sure about the coyote. Why a coyote? Dunno. Don't care. (Well, I do, but ...) Regardless, I LOVE this book! Kept me interested the whole time. I loved going on Munro’s journey of wellness, of er . I enjoyed the characterizations of the main characters and the supporting characters; they all felt real and purposeful and relevant to the story. Darren Groth’s backstories and dialogue gave real dimension to each character’s role. Even Munro’s Canadian parents took the journey with him, and I rooted for them all to succeed. The storytelling provided real tenderness and conflict, doubts and supports, humor and fear. I highly recommend this book for high school libraries and public library YA collections. 

Friday, June 23, 2017


From NetGalley:

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo, published by Flux: Jolly Fish Press, SciFi/Fantasy, Teens & YA, Publish date: July 11, 2017

I read Consider, so I thought I'd see what's up in Contribute. Kristy Acevedo did some good things to help readers transition, i.e., remember, from one book to the next... but it took a while to get there. I was almost a third of the way through the book before I felt connected to this part of the story, and not because of a gap in continuity. There were just a lot of inconsistencies in this as a stand-alone story that made the beginning of this story drag for me. For ex., I got caught up in how the hologuides would know what a grain of rice is to explain nanoholocoms in that way. If Doctor A. arrived at about the same time Alex did (to be standing in line with her), then how did he know already what Skylucent was? Most importantly, how does an advanced society not know their 'guests' have disrupted the communication/tracking devices and believe that they are in sleep mode for such extended periods of time? Then Acevedo starts to hit her stride. I became engaged with the writing, "Soap doesn't equal tranquility," and "really down-to-earth"; I bet Acevedo couldn't wait to use that line LOL. Another great line is "Alexandra Lucas. Saved." Finally, I loved the author's play on the use of "Mississippi." Readers of The Hunger Games, who enjoy a young female protagonist, will enjoy this series as well. Alex is a humble and gracious heroine.

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You

From Netgalley:
36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant, published by Perseus Books, Running Press, Teens & YA, Publish date: October 17, 2017

Love, love, LOVE this book! Great dialogue, humor, and unsappy pathos. Likable, well-fleshed out lead characters (supporting characters enough for their supporting roles) embody a truly engaging, relatable YA story. The author does a great job using dialogue to create mood, especially in the opening scene; adept use of sentence structure produces the scene's chaos. [A quirky side note: the word 'raisin' is used twice in this book.] The scene in room 417 reminds me of a two-person "Breakfast Club;" that's a compliment. The author's descriptions are good and supply vivid images to enhance the story. I'm seriously enjoying the level of vocabulary used in this book, too; it's elevated yet accessible. Highly recommended for high school libraries.

Before I Let Go

From Netgalley: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp Published by SOURCEBOOKS Fire Mystery & Thrillers , Teens & YA Pub Date 23 Jan 2018

I'm surprised how disappointed I was with this title. I understand that the author is part of a diversity initiative, but the inclusion of some of the, um, inclusions seemed gratuitous. For example, in only one paragraph in the whole book was it thrown in that Corey had a black friend at school. It wasn't made relevant to the story; it wasn't necessary to the characterization or plot development; it was just thrown in for diversity's sake. That's not really my first disappointment, though. It's related to how many themes this one book tackles. Manic-depression, gays and lesbians, asexuality, suicide, the environment, precognition, superheroes, There were also a few Leitwortstils going on: the "endless day, endless night" song and "So be it." Nothing wrong with this device, but it felt excessive. The salmonberries motif was never resolved other than to allude to the fact that that "they don't grow here... The girl holds flowers that shouldn't be." The foreshadowing throughout the story was too obvious, too blatant -- luckily, none of the plot foreshadowing got mixed in with the prescient aspects of Kyra's malady. The superhero and the stars motifs left nothing to the reader's imagination; the author spelled out the metaphors through the characters' thoughts and dialog. I also had questions as to some of the characters' actions. For example, while I understand why a teen gets involved in life and cannot answer ever letter she receives, I don't understand why Corey didn't respond to Kyra's "I want to study myths, not star in one" letter. Also, how can the town folk keep accusing Corey of leaving when she was just a 17 year old girl who was moved by her mother's job situation and not someone who ran from the situation? How did Roshan, who didn't even know Corey seven months ago, know that the Hendersons "care about you [Corey], like a second daughter" ... Especially since Kyra was separated from her family for quite some time in the seven months since Corey left? Finally, was the seven months that Corey was gone enough time for the whole town to turn into the Stepford Wives? I guess I expected realistic fiction and got magical realism, which is irrelevant to my overall reaction to the storytelling. This would make a good book from which to teach metaphors and motifs, but it's not a must-have title for a school library.
Professional Reader and 10 Book Reviews

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I can only pretend I'm a city girl

I'm not very good at this city thing. Well, maybe just the public transportation thing. First, I printed out all of the schedules I (thought) I needed. I planned my trip backwards to get to edcampphilly before 8:00 am. I get to Ferry St. Station 7 min. Before my 7:02 train, and.... Realize at 7:07 to look at the schedule... I'd printed out Sunday instead of Saturday. Train comes at 7:12. Get to 8th & Market for the SEPTA 7:22, and the train is there when I get to the turnstile. I'm not sure if I give the token to the person at the window or put it in the turnstile, so I wait to ask, and of course, I didn't have to... Shudda used the turnstile and made the 7:22. Instead, I wait, ask, then use the turnstile while the 7:22 rolls away. Now waiting for the 7:37.
Which then comes at 7:38. 'sokay.
Now onto 34th st. to Penn and edcampphilly!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Sometimes I feel like the Whos in Whoville ... WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE!  ....wish we didn't have to shout :¤/

Out of context, this just sounds crazy. In context, it's the shout coming from every school librarians' brain. People accept the new technologies and all of their implications, yet they hold onto the stereotypical role of a school librarian. School librarians take the lead in educational technology and infusing it into student learning.

Here are some of the resources I've created over the years to help educate the educators and administrators about what school librarians do:

Many of the resources are linked through this page Ways to Collaborate with Your Librarian, but I've also linked the resources separately, too.

IMPORTANT: This is how we roll!

I am interested in finding out what teachers and supervisors who are not preparing to be school librarians receive as training regarding the collaboration process between school librarians and other classroom teachers. For example, do any undergrad or graduate level programs provide opportunities for pre-service teachers or supervisors to participate in guided collaboration experiences with a school librarian about topics such as

lesson or curriculum planning? shared planning time?

co-teaching experiences?

choosing appropriate teaching resources?

planning to teach research skills? critical thinking skills? problem-solving skills? information literacy skills?

incorporating technology for a product, not just as a tool?

librarians as a resource for professional development?

teachers’ roles in print and electronic collection development/curation?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

One more thing regarding pre-service teachers and supervisors...

Regarding... ascertain if there are any teacher preparation or supervisor preparation programs at the undergrad or masters level, which include a component that at least introduces these educators to what school librarians can do for them. This could be a guest lecturer session, a one-class lesson in a unit, an elective, anything that creates awareness (if not true understanding) of how school librarians make their jobs easier and more effective. 
If these types of programs or requirements exist, this is what I'd like to know...
  • How extensive are they? 
  • Who spearheaded their inclusion?
  • Under whose jurisdiction is their implementation? 
  • What librarianship information is (or isn't) being disseminated?
  • Are the efforts being assessed and how?
  • Who provides the instruction?
  • At what point in the preparation program is this instruction given?

Day blah, blah, blah: NJASL VP

Two parts to this post: (1) I hope to be the kind of leader who makes decisions with all of my stakeholders in mind, and with them participating, if possible! (2) If I had to pick a platform for my 3-year term, it would be 
" ascertain if there are any teacher preparation or supervisor preparation programs at the undergrad or masters level, which include a component that at least introduces these educators to what school librarians can do for them. This could be a guest lecturer session, a one-class lesson in a unit, an elective, anything that creates awareness (if not true understanding) of how school librarians make their jobs easier and more effective."
Part  (1): I sometimes get 'playing the game' mixed up with other interpersonal dynamics. It could be called 'confidence' in some cases and 'insecurity' in others -- ex., do I just do what I think is expected of me, do I just do what I think is right, or do I check in with others for their opinions. This is really only an issue when I perceive myself to be an outsider. The following might sound harsh, but my perception often views my participation as the outsider of a good-ol'-girls'-club who are trying - at least on the surface - to bring in 'new blood.' Pollyanna hopes that's not true, and it certainly isn't fair to think that in a professional situation. However, I've been called "unfiltered," and I think that's what both attracts and repels people to my style. I'll have to learn to mesh bold with tact. I am a good compromiser, but I also am vocal about my opinions. I feel offended when other make decisions for me, so I pledge to try not to unilaterally make decisions for others.

Part (2): Ever since my library school days (yeh, way back in 2006 LOL), I've been disgruntled [I love that word :o) ] about the push nature of our field. With all librarians can do for teachers, why do we have to push our services onto them? Why do teachers and administrators and curriculum coordinators not clamor at our doors, pulling our services toward their plans, activities, and attempts at fulfilling the content standards? Why are librarian services not introduced to pre-service teachers and those pursuing their supervisory certificates?

A brief what-have-I-been-doing catch-up: 4/13/12 - I went with Mary M., Patricia T., and Suzanne M. to see Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley, 3rd Legislative District (D-NJ) (C. M. Riley's NJ Legislature page). She is the Chair of the Higher Education Assembly Committee. We discussed two issues: Cumberland County libraries and the latest results of the NJ Library Study.

Monday, April 09, 2012

My Book Review: Narc by Crissa-Jean Chappell

·         The review will first be posted the week of April 8, 2012.
·         Short summary from
Flux Books
Pub Date:
August 08, 2012


Crissa-Jean Chappell

Realistic Fiction

288 p
"You're going to hate me forever when you learn my secret."
Seventeen-year-old stoner Aaron Foster was offered a choice: go to jail or turn undercover narc to find the dealer who's funneling drugs into Miami's Palm Hammock High School. But Aaron has never been good at getting close to people. He's human wallpaper, a stoner wastecase who's obsessed with video games and street magic.
With a cop from Narcotics breathing down his neck, Aaron gets himself invited to parties where the deals go down. To get close to the school's biggest players, Aaron lies to everyone-most of all, the cute but troubled Morgan Baskin. With the Everglades party on Halloween night-and a planned drug bust there-just days away, Aaron realizes that he's falling hard for Morgan . . . and trying to protect her could cost him everything. 

       I read this on a Kindle. That’s why I know that, when I was 44% of the way through, I almost threw in the towel. It wasn’t until I was 71% through the story that I began to have interest in Chappell’s characters. And I made it through to the end. Chappell redeemed herself; the book had a satisfying ending.

        In the beginning I found myself quite – very – extremely – confused by the setting of the story. I wasn’t sure if I had by accident skipped pages, forgotten what was happening, or was intentionally being befuddled as part of the author’s intentions. I also wasn’t sure if it was the setting that threw me off or if it was the progression of the plot. Initially, each scene introduced a new character, so I was then having difficulty placing characters into perspective with regards to their purpose to the storyline. Although the author introduced new characters, I didn’t feel like I was getting to know them, to understand their development and connection to the plot.
As far as motifs go, Chappell included two. The first was magic, magician-like magic. Coin tricks and levitation. The second was pigeons. Roof-top “sky rats” with babies. These two themes flowed well throughout the story and were not distracting; however, I do not feel like they were developed sufficiently enough to create thorough analogies to Aaron’s predicament. Aaron’s father, a war photographer, had recently died. Both from grief and from struggling to keep finances and family together, his distraught mother provided ineffective parenting. Aaron felt like it was up to him to protect his younger sister. (I believe the pigeon motif was intended to portray Aaron’s family dynamics.) Aaron’s other predicament involved the narc position that he agreed to assume in order to protect his younger sister, Haylie. It would take all sorts of magic and sleight-of-hand for Aaron to maintain his role of narc, especially since he began to have feelings for some of the people he would have to include in the potential bust, Morgan and Skully.

        Chappell’s writing accurately portrayed the wildfire nature of online social network posts, emails, phone photos, and instant messages. She used this phenomenon well to create the teenage interactions that allowed the story to progress the way it did. Aaron used the lack of privacy the Internet provides to research his potential targets for the police, to follow what people said about him during the story; he also used it to save his personal, unsent thoughts and tried to remove his history. Teen readers will relate well to Chappell’s use of the Internet as a conduit for the advancing action of the plot.

        Chappell finally created true plot tension towards the end of the story when the bust was supposed to go down. She allowed the reader to doubt the efficacy of Aaron’s plan and his ability to keep himself and his friends safe. Their quirky, unexpected rescue by some locals provided some tension release, while the reappearance of the police because of his narcotic agent-issued cell phone beacon adds back the realism to their dangerous situation.

        Ultimately, I enjoyed the ending because it did seem like it could happen. Aaron knew he couldn’t safely hang around his high school any more, so he got his GED instead.  Conveniently, his mom finished her schooling to be a nurse, which provided a plausible relocation for Aaron’s family. Aaron had one last chance meet-up with Morgan, and she turned out to have integrity, which made Aaron’s efforts all worth it. I’m glad I didn’t give up 44% of the way through the story, and I’m glad I got to experience Aaron’s vindication. All of this, nevertheless, did not make up for the whole book for me; I will probably not make this book part of my collection development plan.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Day , oh whatever... Lol... NJASL VP

The list-of-things-to-do to start a conf. for NJASL is 18 months out. That would make it July, 2012 to begin. Verbally, it has been suggested to start immediately; the first meeting date suggested to even begin discussing changes to the conference's format is in June. Yes, there are things I do not know that should make things all okay if there are people who do know things and they're comfortable with waiting. Patience is a virtue, Pollyanna!

I've been contacted by a meeting planner through an old friend not affiliated with NJASL. Her organization assists the organization planning the conference for free. Apparently, she gets paid by the conference venue. Not ready for her yet since the planning committee isn't going to even meet for two months ladeeda....