Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Illustrated by Anne Lambelet. The Greystone Secrets #1. 416 p. HarperCollins Publishers, April 2, 2019. 9780062838377. 

Fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix will be happy to hear that she has a new series starting in April. The Strangers is book one of a series called The Greystone Secrets. The publisher synopsis is a bit mysterious, asking, "What makes you you?" The three Greystone siblings thought they knew until they hear reports about three missing children that sound like them. Then, their mother abruptly leaves on a business trip. No one writes suspense like Haddix.

Picture Book Review: Loops Repeat, Repeat by Patricia Stockland

Loops Repeat, Repeat by Patricia Stockland. Illustrated by SR. Sánchez. Music by Drew Temperante. 24 p. Cantata Learning, October, 2018. 9781684103904. (Review from finished copy received courtesy of publisher at SLJ Leadership Summit.)

Zippy rhyming text introduce the concept of sequencing for young coders-to-be in this brightly colored cheerful book. Backmatter contains the song lyrics, sheet music with QR code to link to the music, a glossary, three books to learn more and three guided reading activities making this a nice title to use with your youngest coders. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Teen Tuesday: Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant. 328 p. Kids Can Press, Limited. April, 2017. 9781771387927. (Own)

Teen Tuesday features Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant. Will one math tutor plus one cute new boy add up to high school romance? Seventeen-year-old Eva is a math genius and earns money tutoring her peers. She avoids touching anyone though and people think she's a germaphobe. She isn't. She senses the innermost thoughts and feelings of anyone she touches, including their belongings, and it's painful. She's happy to keep her distance until Zenn shows up for tutoring.

For someone who doesn't like romance, I liked this. Belief does need suspending and the end seemed a tad rushed after the leisurely pace of the book. Teen readers looking for romance, a broody crush and a quirky heroine will find much to like here. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Orphaned by Eliot Schrefer

Orphaned by Eliot Schrefer. Ape Quartet #4. 336 p. Scholastic, September, 2018. 9780545655057. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Middle Grade Monday features Orphaned by Eliot Schrefer. Book four in the Ape Quartet brings the reader back to prehistoric Rift Valley where Snub is dealing with sibling rivalry. Mother has a new baby. He looks like a worm and Snub doesn't like this intruder one bit. The security of her family unit, led by Silverback is disrupted when the land shifts and a volcano erupts, changing the landscape and their family forever.

The novel is told quite effectively in verse. The form lends itself to the startling imagery one might experience when fleeing disaster and attempting to survive. The short sentences and various rhythms enhance feelings of confusion, anger, exhaustion and fear.

Orphaned is a must-purchase for any library, like mine, that has the previous three books. Orphaned stands alone just like the rest. Orphaned would be a fantastic place to start if, for some reason this is the first you are hearing of the Ape Quartet. Your animal story loving readers will thank you for it.

Don't skip over the interview and other backmatter. This book was well-researched and the information is fascinating.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

PD: SLJ Summit 2018 Continued

Registration and breakfast started at 8:30. I am an early riser even on my days off, so I had a good three and a half hours to read, catch up on news and blog before heading downstairs. 

George Takei was the morning keynote, which pleased me but sent my conference buddy, Linda, into geek heaven. She had a Sulu doll, which she has been posing all over the place during her trip to NYC. I took a pic of him at the Abrams preview. 

Takei has a graphic novel, They Called Us the Enemy, coming out in the spring that looks to be a must-purchase addition. He spoke eloquently and powerfully about his experience being rounded up and shipped out to an American internment camp with his family at age five. So much of what he said resonated with me that I couldn't keep up with my notes. I tweeted out an early quote, "Lessons of the past are so easily forgotten." Most of his life has been devoted to activism and he still seems optimistic. His mission is to raise awareness of the fallibility of America. It is great but also dark.

The next session featured two teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They spoke about the before and after of February 14, 2017. They spoke passionately about their admiration for their students. They made clear that these students were thoughtful activists before the shooting. They discussed their book, We Say #neveragain: reporting by the Parkland journalists.

After that emotional start to the day, it was time for breakout sessions. I didn't take pictures from my first session, Owning the Power of Primary Sources in Student Learning by Tom Bober but I took tons of notes.

My second session was Teaching Tolerance Stand Up! Empowering LGBTQ Youth. It's always nice to attend a session and be reminded of a resource that is free and sometimes forgotten, Teaching Tolerance. 

Lunch was a nice buffet of salads and sandwich makings.

The afternoon sessions started with three librarians who started a library sustainability movement in New York State. That made me reflect on my own practice.

We we then entertained by Dan Zanes and Claudia Eliaza, who put on sensory-friendly performances for young people. 

After the break was the final panel moderated by Daryl Grabarek: Read Woke: a Movement Takes Hold. The authors who were able to attend were Ibi Zoboi, Renee Watson and her co-author Ellen Hagen. Cecily Lewis, founder of the Read Woke movement also spoke. 


Then there were free books and author signings followed by a cocktail party and more author signings! 

Nina Crews talking about Seeing into Tomorrow. This is a biography and twelve of Richard Wright's haiku illustrated with beautiful photo collages. 

 Charles Waters talking about Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of race, mistakes and friendship that he co-wrote with Irene Latham and I reviewed here

Duchess Harris talking about her biography of her grandmother, 

Then, I had the opportunity to have an extended conversation with Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner!

I was able to tag along with Monty Quehl from Abdo books to a cool little restaurant called Chez Moi where I got to talk to Duchess and some other librarians from around the country. I got home way too late and, of course, could not fall asleep. Then I slept very poorly, awakening frequently. 

Looking forward to our half-day of sessions before I train into Manhattan to take son #3 out for lunch!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

PD: SLJ Leadership Summit

I love professional development opportunities, especially when they are unique and utterly applicable to what I do. I want to be able to return to work recharged and with at least one new idea that I can implement immediately.

This is my second leadership summit. I attended my first in Nashville last year and became hooked. Links here and here and here.

I was excited that it is in Brooklyn this year and quite proud of myself for eschewing driving in and paying fifty dollars a night to house my car. My husband dropped me at the bus stop Thursday night for a 6:30 bus to the Port Authority. Turns out there was no 6:30 bus but one came at 6:42. A surprising number of people got on along the way. I listened to Property of the Rebel Librarian and finished it in my hotel room.

I caught the A train at about 8:30 and was surprised to have to stand. The subway just got more and more crowded as we travelled downtown. Who knew so many people return home so late?

My room is oddly furnished, curious use of Corian, and interesting but ineffective lighting. I slept fairly well for me.

Friday morning featured a publisher preview at Abrams. I was able to get my two school librarian friends from Georgia on the guest list and we trained three stops to lower Manhattan. Of course, we were early so we walked over to the 9/11 Memorial. St. Paul/ Trinity Church was not yet open. They were somberly impressed by the memorial. This was my third time visiting and I still had to wipe away tears. 

We loved the preview and left well fed and laden with arcs and posters. We walked the churchyard and checked out the gorgeous interior of the church. Definitely worth a visit if you're ever in NYC. 

I chose to attend the Mackin Focus Group for the afternoon. The group was led by Michelle Luhtala and the theme was "Guiding Positive Disruption in Your Learning Community." Twenty or so librarians from all over the U.S. shared challenges and things we are proud of. There was a brief discussion of AASL standards and, unfortunately, time ran out before we got to Mackin and their products that would help support our work. Note to self: stop by the booth and find out.

Later, there was an opening reception where we all mingled and networked and ran into old conference friends and met new ones. Follett had an exhibit of their book fair, so we perused that and authors were on hand to sign books.

This morning the conference proper opens.

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:

Sleep, My Bunny by Rosemary Wells. unpgd. Candlewick Press, November 13, 2018. 9780763692629.

Publisher synopsis: The owls and the crickets are singing together.

Outside the window, night falls in a vivid, expressionistic ode to Van Gogh. But inside the cozy house, in rooms lit with soft pastels, parents guide their little bunny through a universal routine: eating supper, putting toys away, taking a bath, reading a story, listening to a song. With gorgeous artwork and a simple poetic narrative offering the perfect script for a reassuring voice, Rosemary Wells gently ties nature’s rhythms to familiar ritual, creating a bedtime read-aloud certain to lull every small child into slumber.

I attended the Abrams preview yesterday and am very excited about their upcoming titles. We all received a Wimpy Kid bag with I am Human: a book of empathy in it. You can see the bag hanging on the back of the chair in this pic.

The space that Abrams occupies downtown is absolutely magical. I covet this library!


I am Human: a book of empathy by Susan Verde. Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. unpgd. Abrams, October, 2018. 9781419731655.

Publisher synopsis: I am human
I am a work in progress
Striving to be the best version of ME

From the picture book dream team behind I Am Yoga and I Am Peace comes the third book in their wellness series: I Am Human. A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family—millions strong.

Beast Rider by Tony Johnston and Maria Elena Fontanot de Rhoads. 176 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, March 19, 2019. 9781479733635

Publisher synopsis: Twelve-year-old Manuel leaves his small town in Mexico to join his older brother in Los Angeles. To cross the US border, he must become a “beast rider”—someone who hops on a train. The first time he tries, he is stopped by the Mexican police, who arrest and beat him. When he tries again, he is attacked by a Mexican gang and left for dead. Just when Manuel is ready to turn back, he finds new hope. Villagers clothe and feed him, help him find work, and eventually boost him back onto the train. When he finally arrives in LA and is reunited with his brother, he is elated. But the longer he’s there, the more he realizes that something isn’t right. Thrilling and heartfelt, Beast Rider is a coming-of-age story that reveals how a place and its people help to define you.

Up for Air by Laurie Morrison. 288 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, May 7, 2019. 9781419733666.

Publisher synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Annabelle struggles in school, no matter how hard she tries. But as soon as she dives into the pool, she’s unstoppable. She’s the fastest girl on the middle school swim team, and when she’s asked to join the high school team over the summer, everything changes. Suddenly, she’s got new friends, and a high school boy starts treating her like she’s somebody special—and Annabelle thinks she’ll finally stand out in a good way. She’ll do anything to fit in and help the team make it to the Labor Day Invitational, even if it means blowing off her old friends. But after a prank goes wrong, Annabelle is abandoned by the older boy and can’t swim. Who is she without the one thing she’s good at? Heartwarming and relatable, Up for Air is a story about where we find our self-worth.

A Suicide Bomber Sits in a Library by Jack Gantos. Illustrated by Dave McKean. 104 p. Abrams Comic Arts/ Abrams, May 13, 2019. 9781419728563. 

Publisher synopsis: “People stop thinking when they cease to read.” When a young boy enters a library wearing an explosive vest hidden underneath his lovely new red jacket, he only has one plan on his mind. But as he observes those around him becoming completely captivated by all of the wonderful books they are reading—books he has no ability to read—the boy can’t help but question his reasoning for being there. With Dave McKean’s unique mixed-media illustrations, bestselling author Jack Gantos brings to life the story of a young suicide bomber, his unquestionable duty to his beliefs, and the unexpected power of books to change lives.

The guest speaker was Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, who spoke about her upcoming picture book, Chicks Rule, which I want multiple copies of right now because it is so wonderful.

Sudipta graciously signed this final gift courtesy of Abrams,

I will try to talk about other books on Abrams' spring list soon! There is a lot to look forward to! Thanks to Jenny for inviting me.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Fact Friday: What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The story of extraordinary congresswoman Barbara Jordan. unpgd. Beach Lane Books, September, 2018. 9781481465618. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Celebrated biographer Barton penned a lovely tribute to Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. This gorgeous oversize book can't contain Jordan's energy, power and determination. It bursts from each page whether through Barton's lyrical prose or Holmes' bold collages. 

Barbara Jordan grew up in the Fifth Ward in Houston, Texas. Her intelligence and curiosity compelled her to speak, to ask questions and to study hard. She excelled in college and was accepted into law school at a time when women, especially women of color had difficulty gaining admission. Barton relates Jordan's story chronologically and uses the refrain, "What do you do with a voice like that?" effectively. Backmatter includes an author's note, a timeline and suggestions for reading and viewing. 

What do you do with a voice like that? is going into my picture book biography unit and should be in every school and public library. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

#tbt: Frindle by Andrew Clements

Frindle by Andrew Clements. Illustrated by Brian Selznick. Aladdin/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers, October, 1996. 9780689806698. (Own.)

Frindle, the story of Nick Allen, a fifth grader who likes to liven things up in class. Unfortunately for Nick, he gets no nonsense Mrs. Granger as a teacher. Nick tries to get her off-topic in class one day by asking her where words in the dictionary come from. His plan backfires when she assigns him an essay to write. His research inspires him to coin the word frindle for pen and it's war. Frindle was picture book writer Andrew Clements debut novel and was named a Teachers Top 100 Book for Children by the National Education Foundation in 2007 as well as numerous state book awards.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Friendship War by Andrew Clements

The Friendship War by Andrew Clements. 208 p. Random House Children's Books, January 8, 2019. 9780399557590.

Publisher synopsis: This is war. Okay--that's too dramatic. 
But no matter what this is called, so far I'm winning.
And it feels wonderful.

Grace and Ellie have been best friends since second grade. Ellie's always right in the center of everything--and Grace is usually happy to be Ellie's sidekick. But what happens when everything changes? This time it's Grace who suddenly has everyone's attention when she accidentally starts a new fad at school. It's a fad that has first her class, then her grade, and then the entire school collecting and trading and even fighting over . . . buttons?! A fad that might also get her in major trouble and could even be the end of Grace and Ellie's friendship. Because Ellie's not used to being one-upped by anybody. There's only one thing for Grace to do. With the help of Hank--the biggest button collector in the sixth grade--she will have to figure out a way to end the fad once and for all. But once a fad starts, can it be stopped?

Andrew Clements, the beloved author of Frindle, returns with a deliciously entertaining and deeply satisfying story that will resonate with anyone who's ever been in a classroom . . . or been a kid. A fad is a tough thing to kill, but then again, so is a friendship.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. Unabridged recording on nine compact discs, 10 hours. Read by Kim Man Guest, MacLeod Andrews, Shannon McManus, and Robbie Daymond. Listening Library, May, 2017. (Review of audiobook borrowed from public library. Own hardcover.)

Five stereotypical teens walk into detention one afternoon after being caught by a hard-ass teacher for having a cell phone in class. By the end of detention, one is dead. By the following day, the four are murder suspects. It seems Simon, was about to post incriminating details about each on the gossip app he created. In the eyes of the police, they all have a motive. 

Books like this are not my cup of tea. Several students recommended it to me and I always try to read books my students recommend. I am glad I did and glad I read with my ears. First, because the performances were spot-on perfect. Secondly, because I tend to read thrillers fast in one tense sitting because I can't stand the suspense. Being locked into the audio made me pay attention to clues. I kind of figured out who early but not the how. That kept me guessing. 

I also liked the fact that these "stereotypes" all had surprising depth and got over their prejudgment of each other to get to know one another. The suspense was high throughout. The big reveal was plausible. 

This won't be a shelf sitter. While it's a tad mature for the middle school crowd, my eighth graders who love fast-paced thrillers will be all over this. I am sorry it took me so long to get to this debut. I am now eager to get to the arc of the author's next book, Two Can Keep a Secret.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: The Principal Strikes Back by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

The Principal Strikes Back by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Jedi Academy #6. Scholastic Inc., July, 2018. 9781338188240. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Victor is heading back to Jedi Academy for his last year. He's kind of bummed because he's missing his sister, who graduated and he wants to get back on good terms with his classmates after last year. Unfortunately, there's a new principal at the school, a huge, mean droid who has a ton of new rules and all the teachers cowed. What's going one here?

This series is entertaining with its mix of graphic novel panels and sidebars such as Stargram posts, blogs, and web sites adding to the humor. The books are very popular at my school so this won't sit on the shelf!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

PD: Bookfest@bankstreet2018

Bookfest has been part of my professional life for most of the twenty years I've been doing this school library gig. It was held in a ball room at the New York Public Library mostly in the fall but there were a few times it happened in February. Occasionally, it coincided with NY Comic Con and that was a parking bummer. But it was easy to get to and the venue could accommodate many hundreds fairly easily and comfortably. 

Seven or so years ago, the program moved uptown to Bank Street College. What a disaster that was! The terribly uncomfortable auditorium only holds 200. The lunch was a logistical nightmare. There are just two elevators and the book discussions were held all over the school. Now, I am a stair user so that didn't bother me; but it bothered a great many. Props to the organizers though. They listened to the feedback and learned for the following year.

Still nightmarishly uncomfortable seating in the auditorium where we spend most of the day but other issues were addressed. Still two elevators and a lack of rest rooms. But they soldiered on and I kept signing up save for a year or so when I had conflicts. 

Yesterday was fun. The panels were fascinating. The keynote was inspiring. I bought some books. I won some books. I got a nice swag bag at the end. Here are some photos of the day. It was livestreamed and now archived for viewing.

Candace Fleming and Eric Rohman
Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson.

Panel 2 was all about author visits and how great they are for students.

Lisa Von Drasek spoke about writing boxes.

Chris Lassen led a graphic novel book discussion group.

Lunch was pretty good. Then, I shopped. I use the book, And Tango Makes Three in an eighth grade unit on censorship and was thrill to be able to grab the authors for an autograph!

I won some board books in the raffle and the afternoon panel was terrific!

The final keynote was delivered by Adam Gidwitz, who asked that no one live tweet, but "be present" as he copped to being a racist and a sexist and then acknowledged his white, male privilege and vowed to do better. Very inspiring!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review: 

One-third Nerd by Gennifer Choldenko. Illustrated by Églantine Ceulemans. 211 P. Wendy Lamb Books/ Random House Children's Books, January 29, 2019. 9781524718886.

Publisher synopsis: Fifth grade is not for amateurs, according to Liam. Luckily, he knows that being more than one-third nerd is not cool. Liam lives in the Bay area near San Francisco with his mom and two younger sisters. Dakota is fascinated by science and has a big personality but struggles to make friends; Izzy, a child with Down syndrome, makes friends easily and notices things that go past everyone else. Dad lives across town, but he's over a lot. And then there's Cupcake, their lovable German shepherd, who guards their basement apartment. 

Recently, Cupcake has a problem--she's peeing in the house. The kids need to make enough money to take her to the vet before their landlord upstairs finds out. And Mom and Dad have said if Cupcake doesn't stop, they will find her a new home. But the kids will never let Cupcake go. Can they save her?

I won this in a giveaway and couldn't be more thrilled because I adore everything the author has ever written!

Two Can Keep a Secret... If One is Dead by Karen M. McManus. 327 p. Delacorte Press/ Random House Children's Books, January 8, 2019. 9781984829085.

Publisher synopsis: Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery's never been there, but she's heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it's hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone has declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she's in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous--and most people aren't good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it's safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

I just finished this author's debut, One of Us is Lying and, while I typically don't like this type of mystery/ suspense/ thriller, I really enjoyed it. It'll be Tuesday's Teen Tuesday feature.

Purchased: Nothing!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Memes: Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice. Wow, it has been awhile since I posted a Friday Meme! It has been so busy since school started. This book demands attention!

I can't believe it has been twenty years since Speak was birthed. I can believe the impact the book has had on countless readers. It was such a privilege to hear Anderson talk earlier this month and to receive an arc of SHOUT. 

SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson. 290 p. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers Group, March 12, 2019. 9780670012107. 

Publisher synopsis: Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she's never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society's failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #MeToo and #TimesUp, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice— and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.

First Line: Kinda tough with blank verse. Here's the first stanza of the first poem: PRELUDE: mic test

this book smells like me
honey and strawberries
sunscreen, libraries
failures and sweat
green nights in the mountains
cold dawns by the sea

Page 56: IT, part 3-playing chicken with the devil

Lots of boys at my school played chicken,
countless varieties of the game.

Fact Friday: Back from the Brink: saving animals from extinction by Nancy F. Castaldo

Back from the Brink: saving animals from extinction by Nancy F. Castaldo. 168 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April, 2018. 9780544953437. (Review of purchased copy.)

Three pages into this, I had to pick my jaw up off the ground as I had never known that it was President Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency! I honestly had no idea he was such a green president. I can't remember if I tweeted or posted my astonishment to the author. Then, one of those funny strings of coincidences happened where that factoid seemed to pop up everywhere from quiz shows to news articles. I love it when that happens.

The book just got better from there. Castaldo did a fair amount of travel to research this book that highlights the conservation efforts of scientists and citizen scientists to save seven endangered animals, whooping cranes; wolves; bald eagles; American alligators, American bison, California condors and Galapagos tortoises. This is an attractively designed, well-organized book from the lovely descriptions of landscape to cogent explanations of what happened to each species to endanger its survival to suggestions about how young readers can help. Full-color, engaging photos bring the reader up close and personal. Text boxes designed to look like notebook pages provide sidebar information. Backmatter includes plentiful sources and books to read and websites for further information.

Back from the Brink is a fine addition to STEM collections. Your fact hounds and researchers will find much to like here.