Saturday, November 30, 2019

Taking Stock

Total Books: 33/ 328
Total Posts: 38
Total Reviews: 20

Debut: 1/16
Audio: 8/91
Picture Books: 14/118

The Good: 28 books from reaching my 2019 GR goal! 

The Bad: Nothing, considering how swamped I am with grading. I didn't feature as many picture books as I had hoped.

The List:
297. Stargazing by Jen Wang (11/1)*
298. Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (11/2)
299. Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (11/2)
300. Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers (11/3)
301. Good Morning, Snowplow! by Deborah Bruss (11/3)
302. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (11/3)
303. The Greatest Adventure by Tony Piedra (11/4)
304. Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey (11/4)
305. Sorry by Joanna Cotler (11/5)
306. Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex (11/5)
307. Love and the Rocking Chair by Leo & Diane Dillon (11/6)*
308. Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham (11/8)* 
309. Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West (11/9)
310. Crush by Svetlana Chmakova (11/10)*
311. Wrecking Ball by Jeff Kinney(11/10)
312. I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberley Jones and Gilly Segal (11/10)
313. Camp Panda: helping cubs return to the wild by Catherine Thimmesh (11/11)
314. dancing at the PITY PARTY: a dead mom graphic memoir [sic] by Tyler Feder (11/13)*
315. Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention by Pip Jones (11/16)
316. All of a Sudden and Forever: help and healing after the Oklahoma City bombing by Chris Barton (11/16)
317. Taylor Before and After by Jennie Englund (SLJ) (11/17)
318. Furthermore by Tahareh Mafi (11/17)
319. This Book is Gray by Lindsay Ward (11/18)
320. Santa's Story by Will Hillenbrand (11/19)
321. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (11/22)
322. Growing Up Gorilla by Clare Hodgson Meeker (11/23)*
323. Seeing Gender: an illustrated guide to identity and expression by Iris Gottlieb (11/24)
324. Planting Stories: the life of librarian and storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamay Denise (11/26)
325. Buzzing with Questions: the inquisitive mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington (11/26)*
326. Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus (11/27)*
327. Educated by Tara Westover (11/27)*

328. Anthem by Deborah Wiles (11/30)*

Friday, November 29, 2019

Fact Friday: Growing Up Gorilla: how a zoo baby brought her family together by Clare Hodgson Meeker

Image: Lerner 

Growing Up Gorilla: how a zoo baby brought her family together
by Clare Hodgson Meeker. 48 p. Millbrook Press/ Lerner Publishing Group, September, 2019. 9781541542402. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Fact Friday features Growing Up Gorilla: how a zoo baby brought her family together by Clare Hodgson Meeker. Mothers, regardless of species learn how to be mothers from their mothers. What happens when a baby is rejected by her mother? Keepers at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, stepped in nineteen years ago to raise Nadiri when her Lowland Gorilla mama refused to care for her. Now that Nadiri was about to become a mother, zookeepers worried that she would also reject her infant and devised a care routine that would encourage Nadiri to bond with her infant. Look at that face on the cover. How could one not? 

Meeker relates the story conversationally, in short chapters filled with full-color photos, charts and text-boxes. Back matter consists of an Author's Note, Acknowledgments, Glossary, and a More About Gorillas section that lists two pages of books, websites and videos for curious readers. The bright pops of color throughout, such as purple lines framing the many pictures, red caption boxes and green backgrounds and accenting marks enliven the presentation. 

Growing Up Gorilla is an excellent addition to any STEM collection. Hand it to your animal lovers. It just might inspire the next generation of zoologists. 

Picture Book Review: This Book is Gray by Lindsay Ward

Image: lindsaymward

This Book is Gray by Lindsay Ward. Unpgd. Two Lion/ Amazon Publishing, December 1, 2019. 97811542043403. (Review of finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

If you are a person who skips the end-pages, dedication and title pages, stop right now! You absolutely must not. This book is adorbs as Lindsay Ward's books are wont to be. The primary and secondary colors are busy drawing a rainbow. Even Black and White have jobs drawing clouds. Poor gray is stuck on the sidelines. He moans, "They never let me color!" on the dedication page. On the title page, he resolves to "show them!" And so, he sets out to write and illustrate his own book, "the grayest book ever!" It is perfect until the primary colors get into the act. Blue asks, "Dude, where's all the color?" Soon, the secondary colors chime in. Poor Gray!

The dialogue is filled with puns, word-play and the familiar cadence of playground oneupmanship. The text does double-duty as readers learn color theory as well as inclusion. Astute readers will notice the entrance of Brown and may wonder where he fits in. Brown is neither primary, secondary nor achromatic, but a composite color. This is not noted and gives curious readers the opportunity to look it up. This Book is Gray would be a great introduction to color theory for elementary art teachers. 

The closing end-pages jar a bit visually. Part of both of the end-page is cut off by the flaps. Young readers will want to spread open the flaps to take in the full spread. It's going to be tough for librarians to tape down those covers! #librarianwoes. The front and back flap cover a third of each of the end-page.

This Book is Gray is a fun addition to any elementary, home or public library. Check out this terrific review at Babiestobookworms for great connecting activities to try with your students!

Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Brobarians, Rosco vs. the Baby, and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives in Peninsula, Ohio, with her family. Gray is one of her favorite colors. Learn more about her online at

Twitter: @lindsaymward

Thursday, November 28, 2019

#tbt: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales by Jon Scieszka

Image: Penguin Random House

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Lane Smith. 64 p. Viking/ Penguin Random House, October, 1992. 9780670844876.

#tbt features The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. This hilarious collection of fractured fairy tales was published in 1992 and won Smith a Caldecott Honor.  It was a story-time favorite when I was a K-8 librarian hoping to make learning the parts of a book fun. 

I hope that today brings joy to everyone gathering with friends and family.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Breaking Through by Sue Macy

Image: National Geographic

Breaking Through: how female athletes shattered stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties by Sue Macy. 96 p. National Geographic, February 4, 2020. 9781426336768.

Publisher synopsis: Award-winning author Sue Macy offers a fresh and timely account of women in sports in the 1920s, and how their determination, talent, and defiance in the face of criticism promoted women's rights, redefined femininity, and changed the course of history.

Macy offers a rare and fascinating glimpse into the journey of women's rights through the lens of women in sports during the pivotal decade of the 1920s. With elegant prose, poignant wit, and fascinating primary sources, Macy explores the many hurdles presented to female athletes as they stormed the field, stepped up to bat, and won the right to compete in sports. Featuring bold and talented heroines, this book documents how the social issues and morals of the decade--from politics to segregation to the media--helped shape the changing narratives around women and alter the course of history entirely. It is a fascinating window into a rich and seldom explored history, and also a topical reminder of the many discussions surrounding femininity and the role of women that continue today.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Teen Tuesday: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Image: Penguin Random House

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu. DC Icons #2. Unabridged e-audiobook. ~9 hours. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, January, 2018. 9780525525561. 

Teen Tuesday features book #2 of the DC Icons series in which popular YA authors imagine the teen years/ coming-of-age of four popular DC superheroes. Batman: nightwalker was written by Marie Lu, whose "Legend" trilogy is a TMS favorite. 

Billionaire Bruce Wayne is about to turn eighteen and will inherit his family's wealth. A terrorist organization called the Nightwalkers is targeting Gotham City's wealthiest citizens to murder and electronically steal their fortunes. The Gotham City PD captured Madeleine Wallace and imprisoned her in Arkham Asylum but she is not talking - except to Bruce Wayne, who happens to be doing community service for interfering with a police investigation. The police brass enlist Bruce's help. But can he trust either side?

This was perhaps the most intriguing of the four DC Icons books I read. Still, it felt a bit juvenile, cops and robber-ish, as in, improbable coincidences and plot holes. The new-to-me narrator was engaging and paced his performance well. The action was nearly non-stop making this plot-driven book appealing to those readers who crave page-turners. 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: Stargazing by Jen Wang

Image: Macmillan
Stargazing by Jen Wang. 224 p. First Second/ Macmillan, September, 2019. 9781250183880. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Middle Grade Monday features Stargazing by Jen Wang. Christine is a perfectionist. She plays the violin, goes to Chinese school, follows the rules and gets great grades, but there is always someone who is better than her. Moon is unconcerned with grades or rules. She's a vegetarian Buddhist who settles scores with her fists. Christine is fascinated. When Moon and her single mom fall on hard times and move into a cottage on Christine's property, the two form an unlikely friendship. It isn't always smooth, but Moon helps Christine loosen up and live a little. 

Stargazing is such a beguiling friendship story! Spot on dialogue and social interactions are gently depicted in words and with subtle and slightly muted artwork. It's a great choice for readers desiring #WNDB, friendship stories or graphic novels. Fans of Shannon Hale, Kayla Miller and Kristen Gudsnuk will eat this up and ask for more. Certainly a first-purchase!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Fact Friday: Camp Panda: helping cubs return to the wild by Catherine Thimmesh

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Fact Friday features Camp Panda: helping cubs return to the wild by Catherine Thimmesh. Just try and resist this Sibert Honor-winning book! One look at that cover should be enough. If not, then the engaging text and many crisp, clear full-color photos throughout should seal the deal!

An estimated 23,000 pandas roamed the wilds of China at one time. In the last 40 years, their population has been decimated by habitat loss, poaching and human overpopulation. Find out how scientists are attempting to help this endangered species. This includes wearing a panda suit and mask covered in panda urine and feces to mask the human smell. Scientists want the pandas to fear human contact. Baby pandas are not born with the instinct to survive. These skills are taught. The work is expensive and fascinating. Back matter includes source notes.

Camp Panda belongs in every collection. 

Picture Book Review: Santa's Story by Will Hillenbrand

Santa's Story by Will Hillenbrand. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, September, 2019. 9781542043380. (Review of finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

In addition to already being a fan of Will Willenbrand, I fell instantly in love with the cover! The snow, Santa's jaunty walk, the light from the lantern, everything just warmed and tickled. I don't know about you, but I am a faithful reader of dedication pages. Reading the author's touching dedication to his dad, who read the poem, "Twas the Night before Christmas" each Christmas Eve certainly stole my heart.

So. Santa is ready to launch on Christmas Eve. His sleigh is stuffed but the stable is empty. Where are the reindeer? As Santa searches, the reader sees what alliterative activity each reindeer is involved in frosty mostly double-page spreads featuring a variety of endearing woodland creatures as well as the eight reindeer. "Vixen vexed, "More snow!" as a snowman pushes a snowblower. Hilarity ensues. The illustrations are filled with little bits of visual humor.

Just in time, Santa remembers! Storytime! He forgot the reindeer's story! And what better than, Clement Moore's, Twas the Night before Christmas?

Santa's Story is an excellent addition to the Christmas holiday rotation!

Author bio: Will Hillenbrand has written and illustrated many beloved picture books, including Snowman’s Story, Down by the Barn, Mother Goose Picture Puzzles, and the Bear and Mole series. He has also illustrated dozens of books, including the Big Bear series by Maureen Wright. Will lives with his wife and son in Terrace Park, Ohio. You can find out more about him at
On Instagram: willhillenbrand

Thursday, November 21, 2019

#tbt: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

Image: David Fickling Books

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. 336 p. David Fickling Books/ Random House Children's Books, 2008. 9780375849763. (Own.)

#tbt features The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. The London Eye Mystery was Dowd's second book. It was published in England in 2007 and hit shelves in the U.S. in 2008. It is the story of how Ted, who has Asperger's and his sister, Kat solve the mystery of their missing cousin, Salim. Salim rode the London Eye up but never came back down. He seemed to disappear into thin air. The London Eye Mystery was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Dowd, unfortunately died in 2007; but three of her books were published posthumously. Bog Child won both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. In 2011, Patrick Ness completed A Monster Calls based on Dowd's notes. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: One Last Shot by John David Anderson

Image: Walden Pond Press Facebook Page

One Last Shot by John David Anderson. 336 p. Walden Pond Press/ HarperCollins Publishers, May 5, 2020.  9780062643926.

Heads up fans of John David Anderson! The author of Ms. Bixby's Last Day and Posted has a new book arriving in May. Waiting on Wednesday features One Last Shot. It is about a boy named Malcolm who does not share his father's competitive nature and love of sports until he discovers miniature golf. Turns out, he's very good at it. Each hole is like a puzzle to solve. Not only that, he's making friends and can escape the tension of his parents' arguing. Can mini-golf become an obsession?
Publisher synopsis: For as long as he can remember, Malcolm has never felt like he was good enough. Not for his parents, who have always seemed at odds with each other, with Malcolm caught in between. And especially not for his dad, whose competitive drive and love for sports Malcolm has never shared.

That is, until Malcolm discovers miniature golf, the one sport he actually enjoys. Maybe it’s the way in which every hole is a puzzle to be solved. Or the whimsy of the windmills and waterfalls that decorate the course. Or maybe it’s the slushies at the snack bar. But whatever the reason, something about mini golf just clicks for Malcolm. And best of all, it’s a sport his dad can’t possibly obsess over.

Or so Malcolm thinks.

Soon he is signed up for lessons and entered in tournaments. And yet, even as he becomes a better golfer and finds unexpected friends at the local course, be wonders if he might not always be a disappointment. But as the final match of the year draws closer, the tension between Malcolm’s parents reaches a breaking point, and it’s up to him to put the puzzle of his family back together again.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Teen Tuesday: Catwoman: soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Catwoman: soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas. DC Icons series #3. Unabridged e-audiobook. ~10 hours. Read by Julia Whelan. Random House/ Listening Library, August, 2018. 9780525595427. (Review of e-audio borrowed from public library. Own hc.)

Teen Tuesday features Catwoman: soul stealer by Sarah J. Maas. This is the third book of the DC Icons series in which popular YA authors imagine DC superheroes as teens. All is relatively quiet in Gotham City. Batman's away and his teen protege, Batwing, aka Luke Fox is keeping an eye on things. Enter one Holly Vanderhees, a rich socialite with a penchant for fundraisers. The only problem is that Holly is really Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, newly returned to Gotham City with a secret.

As someone who is not a superhero aficionado, I almost feel as though I should not weigh in on any of these books in the series. My experience with Batman was with the 1960s television show featuring Adam West as Batman. Robin was his sidekick. Catwoman was played by Julie Newmar. Who is this Batwing? Is this a new creation or have I missed something? Catwoman and Batman always seemed to have a thing. Why Batwing?

And, I have never read anything written by Sarah J. Maas! The worldbuilding was bleak, bleak, bleak as Gotham City is. The story flashes back to slowly inform readers of Selina's backstory. She's fierce. She's a survivor. She loves only her sick sister and will do anything to keep her safe. Redeemable qualities and yet...

I wrote on GR that I thought the book "curiously slow and bland." Thinking back now, that might've been partly the narrator's fault. Whelan's delivery had a measured, almost blasé coolness to it and there was a tremendous amount of detail. I'm glad I no longer give stars on GR; because I think I liked the book more than I thought. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Middle Grade Monday and Audio Review: The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris

Image: LBYR

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris. The Magic Misfits series #1. Unabridged e-audiobook. ~ 4 hours. Read by the author. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/ Hachette Audio, November, 2017. 9781478990796. (review of e-audiobook borrowed from public library. Own hc.) 

Middle Grade Monday features The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris. The Magic Misfits is book one of The Magic Misfits series. If you're a fan of The Mysterious Benedict Society mysteries or love magic or humorous stories or fast-paced adventure, you need to check out The Magic Misfits.

Carter runs away from his only family - an uncle who took him in when his parents disappeared. His reason for running? His uncle uses Carter and his talent for magic to scam unsuspecting people and Carter has had enough; so he hops a freight train to start a new life. After a brief brush with a nefarious carnival owner, he falls in with five illusionists who have chosen their own family.

Neil Patrick Harris narrates with his usual understated aplomb. The story moves swiftly. The characters are a varied lot. Readers who like a fast-paced, humorous adventure will find much to like here. 

I finally, finally got to this! The upside? I don't need to wait for the sequels! I bought all three when Harris appeared at a local Indie. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

AASL2019 - Part Four - Saturday Doings

Okay. I am officially running out of steam; but if I don't get this post written right now, I will never get back to it. My flight leaves tomorrow at 6AM, which means I need to be at the airport at 4, which means I'm rising between 3 and 3:30AM. 

I have bagged the closing session because I am on overload right now. AASL2019 was not the most memorable or successful one for me - partly my fault but also AASL's.

Three cancelled programs with no signage on the rooms to let folks know. Really? Was it that hard?

I ended with a totally incoherent session, which might color the tone of the rest of this post. I turned to a row-mate and asked, "Is it me or is this totally incoherent?" She agreed it was. Folks were leaving throughout. I was too darn tired to leave and, like the 26 disc disaster I am reading with my ears at present, I kept hoping that I could walk away with something to take back. Reader, I did not.

Exhibits seemed pretty small compared to other years. Perhaps the proximity in date to NCTE? I didn't grab as many arcs as in the past either. That's fine, my tbr pile is enormous. Just noticing. 

The morning kicked off beautifully with Jarrett Krosoczka's keynote. He's funny. He's humble and he writes and illustrates books that are damn good.

My first session was "Inclusive LGBTQIA+ Education: why it's important and how to be an advocate." Interesting. Lots of preaching to the choir. I took pictures of all her slides and will review them. I am happy that I have always tried to be inclusive in my collection. I am happy that I am now backed up by state law in NJ to have an inclusive collection and that LGBTQIA+ history and existence should be taught across the curriculum. Lots of notes, but one that pops out as a mantra: be prepared, not scared. 

I chose to attend "Best Websites for Teaching and Learning" even though I had the sneaking suspicion that I attended it at ALA Annual in DC. Once it got underway, I realized that I did. No matter. School was already out and I didn't review my conference notes once school started. My bad. Lots here to share with my colleagues. Good reminder.

The next session was another NO SHOW! 

So I jumped into another session, which I will not name because... see above. Incoherent. 

I suppose I should've done my due diligence and attended the closing session. I assume that's where feedback was requested, but I am conferenced-out and didn't want to finish in the dark for the third day in a row. 

All-in-all, glad I came. The next conference is in Salt Lake City in 2021. It's in October next time. Perhaps I will go once more. I do realize that an incredible amount of volunteer work goes into these conferences, but they are incredibly expensive. My district does not pay. I get the days as PD but use personal days if I have more than two conferences to attend in a school year. (And I always do!) I used to be able to deduct them, but no longer. So I guess I'm becoming a bit more demanding and less forgiving.

AASL2019 - Part Three

Yesterday (Friday) was the first full conference day. I woke early as usual, read in my room and lost track of the time. Scrambled to grab breakfast before the Morning Keynote. I went to the hotel restaurant and had so-o many delicious options, I had trouble choosing. Ended up with shrimp and grits and my, it was heavenly! And filling!

I had no idea what to expect from Dr. Adolph Brown but boy did he stir things up. After listening to a lengthy, adulatory introduction, a young man dressed in black received the mic. He barely said hello before music began blasting and he donned a sparkly jacket and danced his heart out.

Then another young man with dreads, an oversized hoodie and baggie pants and a backpack joined him. Turns out the man in black was Dr. Brown's godson. Dr. Brown turned up as his younger, needy self. 

He spoke about arriving at a superintendent's conference to speak dressed the way he was and the police were called within minutes. He commented that upon arrival at our conference, he received welcoming smiles. Yay librarians!

We all have implicit bias. We cannot deny this. Brown urged the audience to "Stop believing everything you think." This leads to confirmation bias, as the events at the super's conference confirm. Confirmation bias leads to micro-aggressions. 

He attended a Title I school, where he received a good education. "Title I describes how I eat, not how I learn." He had a school library with a librarian who helped him choose books. His favorite from childhood was John Henry.

He spoke for a long, long time. Yes, he was inspiring and provocative as well as entertaining as hell, but he did go overtime. Were it not for the spicy breakfast dish working on my insides, I probably wouldn't have minded. And, yes, he also had potty jokes in his presentation.

Exclusive Exhibit Hall time was next and I hopped on the line to receive Cassie Beasley's newest, Bootstrap Magician, a sequel to her beautiful debut, Circus Mirandus. 

Then, it was session time! My first session time started out with a bit of a dud. There were three sessions that I was interested in. The room was empty for one. No signage saying that it was cancelled or moved. I lost a bit of time finding the second room and missed the beginning of the session. It was interesting, not fascinating. But I did find a few new ideas to take away. 

There were seven sessions that I checked off for the second session. The one I ended up choosing was interesting but not something I would be able to implement at my library. 

Lunch was included but not a drink. Luckily, I only drink water and carry my own refillable water bottle, so I was fine, but there were quite a few grumbling about $4 sodas. Yikes! I strolled the exhibit aisles and sat and blogged. 

I had three things checked off for the post-lunch session but lost track of time and ended up arriving in the area late. ALL THE ROOMS WERE FULL TO CAPACITY! Gah! So I headed back to the exhibit hall. 

I checked off four possible sessions for the second afternoon slot and ended up choosing one called "Using Literature as a Spark for Social Justice." It was an author panel. I didn't notice the little red book logo next to the entry. The authors were all interesting. I had one of the books in my library already and noted the other titles to look up later. But, I was expecting a nitty-gritty, how-to session with ideas. Instead, it was a thoughtful conversation, which I appreciated and I took plenty of notes, but not what I was shopping for.

The afternoon session ended just in time to return to my hotel and attend SLJ's Evening of Dialog. That consisted of three panels: Graphically Speaking with Meg Cabot and Ridley Pearson: 

Tween Time: Must-Have Middle Grade Reads with Cassie Beasley, Rob Harrell and Jasmine Warga: 

Informed & Empowered: Notable Nonfiction with Chris Barton Holly Brochmann, Rafael Lopez and Jennifer Swanson:

Of course there was a signing afterward. I was glad I got Beasley's book at a morning signing because her line was long. I really wanted Chris Barton's newest picture book, All of a Sudden and Forever: help and healing after the Oklahoma City bombing. So I got on that line first. Then, I picked up Ridley Pearson's Super Sons: the Foxglove Mission and Meg Cabot's Black Canary: ignite. I was glad that I asked for Rob Harrell's book Wink at the booth because he ran out of books. 

All in all a fine day. Just as I was ready to curl up with the arc I'm reading to review in SLJ, I heard fireworks. I was only on the fourth floor, but I was able to catch the higher reaching fire works and the waning gibbous moon. I have no idea what the occasion was. Those girders are on the roof of the convention center. 

AASL2019 Continued

Well. my last post didn't include anything about the actual conference now, did it? Of course there were pre-conference workshops to attend for extra $$, but the conference itself began unofficially at 1PM with an idea lab in one of the ballrooms. Twenty or thirty tables were arrayed around the perimeter with a variety of displays. It was a lot to take in, but I was most taken with a portable, iPad-based studio. Our tricaster is a monster, difficult to learn and getting buggy, so it's good to know there are some more portable, user-friendly options out there for broadcasting.

The opening keynote was delivered by Ellen Oh, author, and one of the founders of WNDB - We Need Diverse Books. I have heard her speak before and never tire of listening to her patiently explain why everyone needs to see themselves in literature. She encouraged librarians to use their role as gatekeepers not to keep books out but to let them flow in. I have always been bothered by the term gatekeeper. It seemed negative to me. I like the idea of letting books flow in.

The exhibit hall opened at 5 and vendors were swarmed by school librarians eager for arcs, totes, food and other swag. I picked up a few arcs and said hi to a few reps I know. Then returned to my hotel to put my feet up and read. 

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.

I am actually at the AASL19 Conference in Louisville right now. This is my third AASL conference and I love the energy and camaraderie. Of course, there is an Exhibit Hall and I will try and show some restraint as I'm flying home. I packed my carry-on inside a bag I will check; but the last conference had me scrambling at check-in to take off some weight! I will highlight those next Saturday. Stay tuned.

A box arrived recently from Penguin.

For review:

Image: Penguin Random House

Dancing at the Pity Party: a dead mom graphic memoir by Tyler Feder. 202 p. Dial Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, April, 2020. 978-52555302.

Publisher synopsis: Part poignant cancer memoir and part humorous reflection on a motherless life, this debut graphic novel is extraordinarily comforting and engaging.

From before her mother’s first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler Feder tells her story in this graphic novel that is full of piercing–but also often funny–details. She shares the important post-death firsts, such as celebrating holidays without her mom, the utter despair of cleaning out her mom’s closet, ending old traditions and starting new ones, and the sting of having the “I’ve got to tell Mom about this” instinct and not being able to act on it. This memoir, bracingly candid and sweetly humorous, is for anyone struggling with loss who just wants someone to get it.

I actually read this Wednesday evening while waiting for my plane and blubbered. I will be reviewing it later in December but, it is a 2020 favorite!

Image: Penguin Random House

A Flicker of Courage by Deb Caletti. 246 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, January 7, 2020. 9781984813053.  

Publisher synopsis:Printz Award Honoree and National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti debuts in middle grade with a tongue-in-cheek hero's journey set in a town full of magic, mayhem, lighthouses... and evil.

The story takes place in a world much like ours, but at the same time not at all like ours, in which Vlad Luxor—a capricious, vain, infantile tyrant—rules over a town with an iron fist. He's an emperor with no clothes, but woe is the person who points that out—they could wind up turned into a squirrel or lizard or who knows what! For in this world, the evil leader also has magic, which he uses to punish anyone who speaks out against him.

But in every classic tale with a despicable villain, there must also be a truly noble hero—in this case, four of them! Henry, Apollo, Pirate Girl, and JoJo must be their most brave and clever to break the spell Vlad Luxor has cast on Apollo's brother, Rocco. For we can't have Rocco remain a naked lizard for the rest of his life, now can we?

I've been reading a bit online about this middle grade novel from a favorite YA author of mine. Kind of excited about this.

Image: Penguin Random House

Raise Your Voice: 12 protests that shaped America by Jeffrey Kluger. 216 p. Philomel Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, March 10, 2020. 978052551830.

Publisher synopsis: Rise up! Speak out! March! 

Protests and demonstrations have spread throughout the United States in recent years. They have pushed for change on women’s rights, racial equality, climate change, gun control, LGBTQI+ rights, and more. And while these marches may seem like a new phenomenon, they are really the continuation of a long line of Americans taking to their feet and raising their voices to cry out for justice.

From the Boston Tea Party to the suffragists, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to Stonewall, peaceful (and not-so-peaceful) protest has been a means of speaking up and enacting change from the very founding of America. This new collection recounts twelve of the major protests throughout the country’s history, detailing the people behind them, the causes they marched for, and the impact they had.

From the award-winning and bestselling author of Apollo 13 comes a book perfect for today’s new generation of activists.

Image: Penguin Random House
Wink by Rob Harrell. 316. p. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers Group, March 31, 2020. 9781984815149.

Publisher synopsis: A hilarious and heartwrenching story about surviving middle school–and an unthinkable diagnosis–while embracing life’s weirdness.

Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader. He doesn’t want to lose his hair, or wear a weird hat, or deal with the disappearing friends who don’t know what to say to “the cancer kid.” But with his recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer, blending in is off the table.

Based on Rob Harrell’s real life experience, and packed with comic panels and spot art, this incredibly personal and poignant novel is an unforgettable, heartbreaking, hilarious, and uplifting story of survival and finding the music, magic, and laughter in life’s weirdness.

Image: Penguin Random House

All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor. 483 p. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers Group, January 7, 2020. 9780399257308.

Publisher synopsis: The saga of the Logan family—made famous in the Newbery Medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry—concludes in a long-awaited and deeply fulfilling story.

In her tenth book, Mildred Taylor completes her sweeping saga about the Logan family of Mississippi, which is also the story of the civil rights movement in America of the 20th century. Cassie Logan, first met in Song of the Trees and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, is a young woman now, searching for her place in the world, a journey that takes her from Toledo to California, to law school in Boston, and, ultimately, in the 60s, home to Mississippi to participate in voter registration. She is witness to the now-historic events of the century: the Great Migration north, the rise of the civil rights movement, preceded and precipitated by the racist society of America, and the often violent confrontations that brought about change. Rich, compelling storytelling is Ms. Taylor's hallmark, and she fulfills expectations as she brings to a close the stirring family story that has absorbed her for over forty years. It is a story she was born to tell.

I read many, not all of the Logan family books and look forward to this personally; but I have an eighth grader who plowed through most of the series since fifth grade. When I told him there was a new one, his face just lit up.

Purchased: Nothing!

If you leave a comment, I will definitely stop by and try to comment back - unless commenters have to sign onto Discus or Wordpress or FB or anything that makes commenting difficult and gives my data to miners. But, I will definitely check your stack!

Friday, November 15, 2019

AASL2019 - Louisville, Kentucky

I only started attending AASL conferences in 2015. I would've in 2013, when it was in Connecticut, but I was undergoing chemotherapy at the time. Though I managed to work full-time and only miss a half day for my treatments, my energy level was definitely low and wouldn't have been able to support going to a conference. So 2015 in Columbus was my first. It happened to coincide with NJ's Teacher Convention weekend, which made going easier. It is VERY hard to get PD time in November in NJ! I went to 2017 in Phoenix as well thanks to the timing. When the dates came out last May with early bird registration, I didn't look at the calendar carefully enough. It didn't coincide with Teacher's Convention. That was last week. Oops. I thankfully got the days to attend and, here I am!

I flew in on Wednesday evening. I kind of white-knuckled it because I chose to book a 6PM flight as opposed to an 8PM flight. I thought I would leave school early as the last period is my prep; only I forgot the kids had a half day for parent-teacher conferences! Yikes!

The 8PM flight would've gotten me in a bit after ten if there were no delays. By the time I got a ride to the hotel and checked in, who knows what time it would be? So I opted for the earlier flight. As it was, I got to the airport with time to spare and then, my flight was delayed - in fifteen minute increments until we left over an hour late. Sigh. It was also a small plane with very little room for carry-on bags. I didn't bring any for this leg because I packed it inside of my checked bag. I have taken to doing that for these larger conferences to save on shipping boxes home. The cost of checking a bag is the same or less than shipping books home and I don't have to wait for the book mail. I just have to lug the bag. 

Thank goodness for rolling luggage!

I may not be able to stow my carry-on bag even though I paid extra to bring it on. The gate agent explained that I will be able to check it at the gate and pick it up at the gate in Newark.

Oh! I nearly forgot. I chose to drive myself and parked in the Economy Lot. I had a bit of anxiety about this since it wasn't on the monorail and I had to take a shuttle bus. I just missed one as I found a space. Luckily, there was another in ten minutes. While I waited, I noticed this:

That red is my coat reflecting off the metal. I picked up the receiver but there was no dial tone. So, there's that. Funnily enough, I spied another pay phone, this one a booth at the restaurant where I ate breakfast on Thursday.



Flying in Wednesday saved me from waking extra early for a flight out on Thursday and allowed me to take in a few Louisville sights before the conference began in the afternoon. 

I visited the Muhammad Ali Center, the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum and then took the Evan Williams Bourbon Tour, which was very interesting and informative. Louisville has a fascinating history!