Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Picture Book Review: Butterflies in Room 6: see how they grow by Caroline Arnold

Image: Charlesbridge
Butterflies in Room 6: see how they grow by Caroline Arnold. Unpgd. Charlesbridge, March, 2019. 9781580898942. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

I've worked with children between the ages of three to eighteen in the last thirty years. I am happy to have had such a wide range of experiences. I'm also lucky to love every age group. Really! I don't have a favorite age! There is something to love about each. Reading this delightful photo-essay made me nostalgic for elementary school though. The look of joy, of unbridled curiosity and unmasked enthusiasm on Mrs. Best's students was just happy-making. Yay! Hands on science!

Butterflies in Room 6 entices right from the cover. Full-color photos depict a variety of scenes from painted lady butterflies in the wild to the four stages of their life. The design is lovely as well from its heavy stock paper that will hold up to many readings to the leaf-shaped text "boxes" that contain extra information. The story of Mrs. Best's science activity is told clearly and accessibly with a large-ish, pleasing font. The candid shots of her students are precious and the more scientific shots and close-ups are helpfully labelled. Extra information is included in the back matter including, Butterfly Questions; a glossary; four websites and five books for further reading.

Butterflies in Room 6 is a great addition to any school library or elementary classroom!

Waiting on Wednesday: Cracking the Bell by Geoff Herbach

Cracking the Bell by Geoff Herbach. 272 p. HarperCollins Publishers, September 10, 2019. 9780062453143.

Publisher synopsis: Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a high school team captain.

Isaiah loves football. In fact, football saved Isaiah’s life, giving him structure and discipline after his sister’s death tore his family apart. But when Isaiah gets knocked out cold on the field, he learns there’s a lot more to lose than football.

While recovering from a concussion, Isaiah wonders what his life would look like without the game. All his friends are on the team, and Isaiah knows they can’t win without him. The scholarship offer from Cornell is only on the table if he keeps playing.

And without football, what would keep his family together? What would prevent him from sliding back into the habits that nearly destroyed him?

Isaiah must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the sport that gave him everything, even if playing football threatens to take away his future.

 I absolutely adored Herbach's Stupid Fast trilogy, Gabe Johnson Takes Over (except I read an arc called Fat Boy Vs. the Cheerleaders) and Anything You Want. I haven't gotten to Hooper, but have a voracious eighth grade reader who loved it. So, I must give him a heads up about this. He'll be at the high school when it releases.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

ALAAC19 - Saturday

Saturday morning I had a dilemma as often happens during these big conferences. Justice Sotomayor was speaking at the same time I had a panel by some authors whose work I enjoy. it was a panel called The Urgency of History: how librarians can prepare kids for their time. The panel was a mix of fiction and non-fiction authors - Gennifer Choldenko, Varian Johnson, Elizabeth Partridge, Marissa Moss and Sharon Robinson. They answered questions like, How do we bring kids and history together? What are some of the challenges? How do you deal with context? Whose past told in whose voice? Do you soften the ugly aspects? Interesting questions with fascinating answers. What was great about this particular panel was the chemistry. They really connected and had a great conversation.

After spending some time on the exhibit floor, I went to Best websites for teaching and learning. It's the last year of this committee as it stands. It is merging with Best Apps, which makes sense. Each site they chose seems to be something either I or one of my colleagues could use. 

Then I went to the always fun Disney preview. I grabbed a few arcs from a rapidly disappearing pile and sat down to enjoy the authors read from their upcoming books.

For the last few years, I have been privileged to be invited to the Penguin cocktail party. Last year, it was in this amazing space called the Art Garage. This year, it was in Culture House. The authors featured were Laurie Halse Anderson, Ruta Sepetys, Gabby Rivera, David Yoon and Renée Ahdieh. I have already read SHOUT with my eyes and with my ears and really cannot wait to dive into the other four.

My dinner event was cancelled so my conference pal, Barb Langridge of abookandahug and I invited another conference pal of mine, Mary Ann Scheuer of Great Kid Books and after finding our top choices of restaurants full and our energy flagging, grabbed dinner at a pasta place near my hotel. It was pricey but superb and the conversation was invigorating. 

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Reivew: Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. ~9 hours. Read by James Fouhey. HarperAudio, January, 2019. 9780062885203. (Review of audiobook borrowed from public library. Will purchase hc for my library.)

Teen Tuesday features Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Benn Philippe. This is the first-person account of sixteen-year-old Norris Kaplan as he navigates his reluctant move from Toronto, Canada to Austin, Texas. As a Black, hockey playing teen, he is sure Texas teens have preconceived notions about him. What he doesn't realize is that he has quite a few preconceived notions about them, which he records in his notebook. He promised his professor mom that he would give Austin a try. Yet, he classifies everyone he meets in his notebook from the cheerleaders to the jocks to the loners to the manic pixie dream girl he thinks he might love. What he doesn't expect is to actually like the individuals who step forward to befriend him. Hilarious and cringeworthy, this is an amazingly satisfying read. 

I absolutely loved new-to-me narrator, James Fouhey's performance. Pitch-perfect and perfectly paced, this is an audiobook I would happily reread with my ears. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French

Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French. Read by Humphrey Bower. Published by Bolinda Audio. (Review of book downloaded through Audiobooksync a couple of years ago.)

Greetings from Washington DC TMS readers! Today is the fourth day of my conference and I am having so much fun learning and talking to publishers about new books coming in the next few months. I have packed an entire suitcase with books and arcs to read and share with you! Guess what Raina Telgemeier fans? I got Guts!!! Not just sampler either! Oh! And there's a new Babysitters Club spin-off called Babysitters Little Sister. The first book is called Karen's Witch. It's cute.

So! Our first Middle Grade Monday of the summer features Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French. Jackie French is an Australian author best known to me as the author of Diary of a Wombat. Pennies for Hitler is the story of a school boy named Georg, the only child of a university professor and his wife. His father is not only British, but Jewish, though the family does not practice. That doesn't matter to a group of students who, at graduation, decide to throw their fellow students and their professor out the window because they are Jews. Georg's mother manages to grab her son and escape. She thinks quickly and also manages to smuggle him out of the country to England to live with his aunt in London.

This unique story is quite suspenseful and harrowing at times. I learned about an aspect of the war I never knew! An extensive author note at the end is quite fascinating!

It might be also be a bit difficult to find. I found it on my phone while I was browsing my library of audiobooks to read. I had downloaded through the Audiobooksync summer reading program and never got to it. Do you know about Audiobooksync? You can download two audiobooks a week for free! No strings attached!

I will have to buy a paperback for the library and will also buy the audiobook because the narration is terrific. If you enjoy historical fiction set during World War II, you will love this book.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

ALAAC19 - Friday

Friday was a long, eventful day and I was too tired to process and write about it last night. I should've because today was even more packed and I need to talk about both days. It's 8:30 PM and I am beat but in a good way. 

I spent Friday morning walking. After I registered, I headed to the Mall. I got there at the Museum of Natural History, which, I thought, maybe I will pop in. But the line was quite long. I mean, dinosaurs! So I turned right and walked. It was a gorgeous, breezy day with tons of interesting clouds. As I approached the Museum of American History, I considered going in, but it was so gorgeous, I decided to walk as much of the Mall as possible before my lunch date with Greystone Kids. 

I ended up walking clear down to the Lincoln Memorial. Saw Constitution Gardens, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Female Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial and WWII Memorial before wondering if I should hoof it 1.8 miles to Le Mirch. 

I wonder what the story is behind that downed tree!

Google Maps app is a curious thing. I thought I was headed in the right direction, then realized I was walking the wrong way. I grabbed a cab. 

Lunch was intimate and fascinating. Greystone Kids is an imprint of Greystone publishing house based in Canada. Patrice Aldana runs the imprint and is a woman with a mission. She is committed to publishing books from around the world. 

Holiday House hosted a cocktail hour at The Press Club and wow! What an event. Great authors in a storied venue. Fitting that Barry Wittenstein and Jerry Pinkney's book, A Place to Land, was featured at The Press Club as it is right across the street from the Willard, which is where MLK stayed the night before his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. I got to hold the finished copy of the book in my hands and it is GORGEOUS! I got to talk to Christian Robinson, Eric Velasquez, Matt Cordell, and Jerry Pinkney himself!


I had hoped to stop at my hotel to freshen up but walked the wrong way. Again. Then found my way to Simon & Schuster's Night of Novels at Bobby Van's Grille. Five authors were featured. They all spoke briefly about their books, then speed-dated. I had to leave a bit early to cab to the Library of Congress because I somehow lucked into snagging a ticket to the Coretta Scott King 50th anniversary gala!

It was magical! There was a program first, followed by a reception in the gallery. I was so stuffed from all the food all day, I could not partake. I also got really tired and left a bit early. I just could not process another conversation. 


I left a bit after sunset and was able to see this before grabbing a cab.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Fact Friday: Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's first bookmobile by Sharlee Glenn

Image: Abrams
Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's first bookmobile by Sharlee Glenn. 52 p. Abrams Books for Young Readers, April, 2018. 978141972875. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

The last Fact Friday of the school year features Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's first bookmobile by Sharlee Glenn. This is a book that warms my librarian heart. 

There weren't many career opportunities for women in the late 1800s. Indeed, most women were not encouraged to even obtain an education let alone a job. But Mary Lemist Titcomb insisted upon an education and ultimately trained to become a librarian, eventually working her way up to chief librarian. That was not enough, she identified a need - poor residents in the rural communities did not have access to books or libraries. She put together a mobile library on a horse-drawn carriage to bring the books to that community. 

The design of the book is absolutely gorgeous. Filled with fascinating vintage black and white photos and ephemera. Twelve pages of back matter attest to the research, love and care that went into this beautiful biography. This book begs to be read slowly.