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....

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Review: Zero by Tom Leveen

·         The review will first be posted the week of April 1, 2012.
·         Short summary from
Random House Children's Books
Random House BFYR
Pub Date:
April 24, 2012

Tom Leveen

Arts & Recreation: Performing Arts
Family & Everyday Life: Social Issues
Family & Everyday Life: Love & Romance

304 p

Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to talk to.
     For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn't materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero's parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she's so much more than a name.
TOM LEVEEN is a native of Arizona, living within sight of Camelback Mountain his entire life. He has been involved with live theatre as an actor and director since 1988, and has been the artistic director and co-founder of two theatre companies. Zero is his second novel. You can visit Tom at his Web site:
Dali & punk rock & college, oh my!

I didn’t like the beginning of this story until I read…

“Moist,” I call.
“That’s kind of a gross word, you know!” Dad shouts, laughing…”

In a lunchtime discussion I had with my colleagues a few years ago, I found out that some of them were skeeved out by the word ‘moist.’ It was fun to find out that, what I thought was a local hang up, crossed geographical boundaries. Since the mood around the main character, Zero, had lightened up, I, too, was able to lighten up to the self-deprecating 17 year old. 

Leveen portrays Zero as insecure but hopeful, as many just-graduated-from-high-school young adults are. In a Rory Gilmore Girl-esque manner, everything Zero has done until now hinged on her going to the art college of her dreams. But when scholarships don’t allow that to happen, Zero experiences a disquieting, shifting perception of herself. Having so many different monikers reflects her situation well; Zero is also called Amanda, Amy, and Z.

Confusing what she sees when she looks into posters instead of into mirrors for her reflection suggests the person she sees or doesn’t see. The reader further finds out that she has misperceptions of herself when her boyfriend, Mike, repeatedly tells her that she is nice-looking, and her mother buys clothes for her that are flattering – clothes that she never would have thought of choosing for herself.

It’s obvious that Leveen has done a lot of research for this book. What I thought were made-up names for punk bands and rockers turned out to be a conglomeration of real bands and people. After a brief excursion into the research myself, I found the following true references in Zero:

1.     Nightrage is a Swedish/Greek/Scandinavian death metal rock band 2001-2011
2.     Gothic Rainbow is a 1997 novel labeled “fairiepunk”
3.     D.I. Southern Cal band 1982-present & Casey Royer is real
4.     Ghost of Banquo a.k.a. Re-Enter Ghost of Banquo – British metal/scream/techno band 2007-08
5.     Pathos – thrash metal/progressive from Sweden since 1995
6.     Black Phantom [Crusades] – indie post-punk (2002)
7.     Minor Threat – hard core punk 1980-1983 & Ian MacKaye is a real person
8.     Jane’s Addiction & Perry Farrell
9.     [Red Hot] Chili Peppers

I made the not-so-giant-leap assumption, then, that Leveen’s artistic references to Dali, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Warhol, O’Keefe, Cassatt, Seurat, and Delacroix are also well-researched. Leveen uses the abstract and Gestalt-like artistic styles of Surrealism, Impressionism, Pointillism, and Cubism to emphasize the incomplete or fuzzy view Zero has of herself, her friendships, and her future.

I like the implications one can make from the juxtaposition of a punker with an artist. Stereotypes of intelligence, talent, aesthetics, and taste challenge the reader to become more involved with the book, especially if one does not have more experience with these topics other than pre-conceived notions. Teen readers do not have to know a great deal about either topic to retain interest in Zero’s societal challenges and self conflicts.

Leveen elevated the book’s appeal for me mostly because he wrote a story with an ending -- a believable, authentic ending that developed naturally from the experiences Zero endured. In spite of not being explicitly told about Zero five years from now – and that’s not what I would have wanted as a reader, anyway -- I was not left wondering why Zero made the decisions she made or how she was going to fare in the future. I was satisfied with Zero’s character development, and that’s a great thing to be able to say about a YA book.

Note: The sex, drugs and punk rock in this book more than allude to under-age drinking and a lesbian relationship. Both subjects belong in this soul-searching story.

Friday, March 30, 2012


  1. I pulled together a list of all of the topics NJASL conferences have covered from 2008-2011.
  2. Then I checked out another conference's current conference offerings ( and added more topics to the list of possibilities.
  3. I also included in the list all of the types of sessions NJASL has used 2008-2011 and added a few from ISTE. 
  4. Then I sent the list to the current Board of Trustees as a survey made through
  5. I've asked them to approve the survey to be sent to our membership to ascertain the types of things our members want and to help us determine the kind of conference (and the length of conference) that we want in the future.
Before I was asked to run for office, I asked to volunteer for the 2012 conference committee. In my note to the conference chair., I said the reason why I was volunteering was because the last conference felt 'antiquated.' My gut was apparently right. By performing this exercise in conference analysis, I was disturbed to discover, or perhaps my Rose-colored Glasses will allow me to see this as an enlightenment, how redundant our past four conferences have been! I don't have the numbers in front of me right now, but the topics and presenters sometimes repeated all four years! Are you kidding me??!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I chilled today. I want to do a membership survey about the parts of our conferences our members like before participating in a discussion of what the 2013 conference will consist.
I still have a lot to learn about the association. Lots to read; lots of people with whom I want to talk; lots of organization to ... um... organize.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 1: NJASL Vice Prez

I have been all excited to start looking things up about running the conference! Found the 'guide' documents - old and new - and began perusing them. I made a spread sheet of the past 5 years' worth of conference themes and of guest speakers.  I inquired about the budget and was told, "we'll talk." I received encouragement, too, and was told "it's your" -meaning my- conference. The contradictory, political, territorial stuff has already reared its head :-/ 

This is a 3-year commitment; I hope they know what they have in me when they asked me to volunteer. I'm an opinionated, sometimes stubborn,  Pollyanna who has never been shy. My rose-colored glasses and unfiltered thoughts put me out there, and I'm not easily reined in when I believe something strongly. I believe in the inherent good will of people, hence the Pollyannaism, which sometimes allows me to get disappointed or loud, or both.

And I've never been able not to care, which is both an asset and a flaw. All I hope is that this is more of a good experience than a disheartening one.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My book review: Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman

Jersey Angel
Random House Children's Books
Pub Date:
May 08, 2012
Beth Ann Bauman 
Wendy Lamb Books
FICTION - JUVENILE: Family & Everyday Life: Love & Romance
FICTION - JUVENILE: Family & Everyday Life: Social Issues
FICTION - JUVENILE: Gender-Specific: Girls & Women 
·      The review will first be posted the week of March 18, 2012.
·       Short summary from

An irresistible story about the real people behind the stereotypes of the Jersey Shore. About friendship and how it matters. About what it means to desire, to love, and to betray.
     It's the summer before senior year and the alluring Angel is ready to have fun. She's not like her best friend, Inggy, who has a steady boyfriend, good grades, and college plans. Angel isn't sure what she wants to do yet, but she has confidence and experience beyond her years. Still, her summer doesn't start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn't want to fool around anymore. He wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn't want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself spending more time with Inggy's boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves.
BETH ANN BAUMAN is the author of Beautiful Girls, a short story collection for adults, Rosie and Skate, and is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. Growing up, she spent summers on the Jersey Shore. She lives in New York City.

I loved this approximately 208 page book, until I reached page 208. It ended abruptly, almost like the author had to quickly finish up because dinner was almost ready, and she still had to set the table. I was reading a real story with genuine characters, and suddenly I was in a Disney movie where everything turned out okay and a rainbow appeared on the screen.
Let me backtrack. I do like this book, do expect that I will probably be getting it for my high schoollibrary, and do recommend it for older teens (probably 10th grade & up). Bauman created believable characters that I felt showed a reality that many young adult novels don't show: the female as the pursuer. Angel is a multifaceted character with a sex drive. She's a popular, pretty girl who isn't necessarily college material, but who realizes it and isn't pretentious - in spite of the fact that she hangs with rich friends who are going to college. However, she's also a "horndog" who is indiscriminate about the guys with whom she tries to satisfy her amorous nature. This includes her BFF's boyfriend and the guy who everyone thinks is still a virgin (and he is) and who will be one for a long time (not any more, thanks to Angel.)
Angel's friends each have their own personalities, and these come through well in Bauman's writing. Their morals, their relationships, and their actions all seem to reflect people who could really exist, and teen readers like that. The adult characters, in sticking within the genre's expectations, show the adults as flawed - divorced, distracted, and apologetic. Luckily, Bauman also creates teen characters who are imperfect, so there's plenty of room for readers to self-reflect upon their own reactions to the conflicts as the story unfolds.
"An irresistible story about the real people behind the stereotypes of the Jersey Shore. About friendship and how it matters. About what it means to desire, to love, and to betray."
I take issue, however, with the publisher's description of the book - using 'Jersey Shore' to attract readers is one thing (not necessarily a good thing, but that's a different discussion), but calling fictional characters "real" and then portraying the characters as horny and drunk doesn't offer any reality check (pardon the pun) to the stereotypes of the 'Jersey Shore.' The publisher goes on to say, "friendship and how it matters" and "to betray." If that's the case, then Jersey Angeldemonstrates that friendships often matter less than sex does.
Therefore, do not expect this book to eschew family values; you'll be disappointed. What will notdisappoint you, though, is the representation of "what it means to desire, to love, and to betray." I was compelled by this story from the beginning. Even decades after my own high school experience, the characters' actions resonated with me as true, possible, and likely. Teens will  appreciate seeing "real" teens reflected in what they read. I just hope they aren't disappointed that everything works out in the end; it often doesn't in the real world.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

My Book Review: Ferocity Summer by Alissa Grosso

Teens will love this book - older teens, that is. 

Ferocity Summer
Flux Books
Pub Date:
May 08, 2012
Alissa Grosso
FICTION - JUVENILE: Family & Everyday Life: Social Issues

·      The review will first be posted the week of March 4, 2012.
·       Short summary from

What happens when the only escape from crushing despair is betrayal?
It's the hottest summer on record in New Jersey and soon Scilla Davis must stand trial for her involvement in a deadly speedboat accident. With the possibility of conviction looming, life seems empty, unreal, and utterly hopeless. Watching her best friend Willow destroy herself with drugs and booze is especially painful. Yet Scilla can't manage to wrest Willow-or herself-from a path of self-destruction.
With a new drug called Ferocity sweeping the nation, an FBI agent is eager to make a bust. He offers Scilla a way out of this nightmare. But is she willing to betray her own drugdealing boyfriend?

I initially chose this book to review because it is set in New Jersey and so are my students and my school library. I'm glad I chose this book because most teenagers I know, regardless of their relationship -- or lack thereof -- to illegal, recreational drugs, deal with the issues of rebellion or at least of gaining independence from their "parental units." The main character, Priscilla (Scilla) is fraught with peer pressure and questionable self-esteem. The author, Alissa Grosso, does a great job of creating tension based on loyalty vs responsibility.
Scilla and her best friend Willow are financial opposites. Willow is an "upper, middle class" teen whose Mother spoils her in spite of her father's protests, while Scilla must work at the local Quik Mart in spite of a spate of recent robberies. Scilla has an on-again, off-again relationship with Willow's older brother, who is also a rich kid, but he supplements his income by dealing drugs. Scilla describes Willow and Randy's  parents as "nutjobs." Scilla lives with her mother, who "always has some reason to be unhappy with me," as well as with Scilla's friendship with Willow.

The story really began the prior summer when the three teens and Randy's friend, Tigue, borrow​ Tigue's parents' speed boat for a drunken joy ride. They ended up killing a passenger on another small boat. Their trial is at the end of this summer. Though many adults -- a court appointed attorney, her Social Studies teacher, an FBI agent, and her mom --  try to help Scilla maintain a record of good character until the trial begins, Scilla's loyalties are tested as she struggles between what her high, drunk and promiscuous peers expect of her and what the adults expect.
Whether as a matter of fairness, a reflection of humanity, or as a backdrop to highlight Scilla's attributes, the adults in the story are portrayed as flawed as the teens are. Scilla's mom holds a grudge against the upper, middle class; Willow's parents are disciplinary polar extremes; the FBI agent makes a pass at Scilla; and Pablo the Perpetually Stoned is, well, perpetually stoned.
As a bildungsroman, the reader begins to see the beginning of a more mature, more responsible Scilla as the story progresses. However, just as actual teenagers may take more than one summer to grow up, Scilla does not neatly reach her full maturation by the end of the story. This is painfully clear when Scilla doesn't accept Tigue's explanation of his primary culpability for the accident as he describes it in court.
Grosso draws recurring analogies of Scilla as Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. Making both military and personal comparisons between Scilla and Sherman distracted me from the story rather than enhanced my experience. Since I am not familiar with Sherman's story, I felt as though I was reading a (wholly unnecessary) frame story. It was as if I had to employ two different reading styles, seesawing back and forth between concentrating on understanding the connections between Scilla and Sherman or simply enjoying the teenagers' tales as they unfolded. 

Throughout the novel, I really enjoyed Grosso's snarky, sarcastic, but witty sense of humor. You'll forgive me if I don't list any of them here. I don't want to be like a movie trailer that gives away the punchline before you even get to see the movie. 

Remember that this book's premise is peer pressure, complete with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, and while they certainly are teen issues, I recommend Grosso's treatment of them for older teens. Unfortunately, though the repercussions are periodically  displayed, there are LOTS of drunk driving and under-the-influence driving incidents in the book. At no time do any of the underage teens hesitate to get into a car with any other teen - sober or not. Additionally, Scilla is quite open about her lesbian daydreams. That being said, the teen characters will appeal to real teens, and I will be purchasing this book for my high school's library.