The Invisible Library

Hi Guys,

Today’s Thursday book review is The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman61eipzf7ihl-_sx328_bo1204203200_

First, let me start by asking this–what is it about novels that have any sort of book/library connotation, that makes you just have to pick them up? If it has the word book, books, library, librarian in the title I can’t resist. Maybe this is why so many books are about… books. Think about it. How many books have you read that have at least a subplot revolving around reading or a love of literature? A character working at a bookstore; a book collector; a book thief. There are a lot out there. I’m thinking it is an easy way to insert the readers into the story; an easy way to allow the reader to relate.

Anyway, mini-tangent over. The Invisible Library follows junior library agent, Irene, who is part spy, part detective. Irene works for a highly secretive and mysterious library. Her job is to collect rare works of fiction from different realities–different versions of the world. In this first book, Irene is sent to an alternate London where chaos reigns. In a steampunk-esq world where fairies, vampires and werewolves exist, Irene finds that she might just be in over her head. Irene and her increasingly mysterious assistant Kai, have to track down an extremely rare and dangerous book all while dodging politics, magic, long dead murderers and even massive electronic centipedes.

I don’t think I even read the back cover of this book before I dove in, so I had no preconceived notions. What I got was part detective novel, part high fantasy, part steampunk lit and part bookish nerd love. With a strong female character who was partial bad-ass, super smart and self confident but was also reliant on others and had a serious case of internal self doubt. Irene threw me for a loop in a good way. I thought she was going to be this strict, rules are rules kind of gal’, but instead we get a character with a lot of depth who knows how she is supposed to act and complies but internally is sort of a mess. I’m not shooting her down, I’m just saying there is a lot going on there.

For a story with so many different elements to it… again fairies, alternate realities and mechanical bugs…the story works. There was action, intrigue, rivalry, potential love interests, some serious secrets and of course books!

I could see this being a good book club book because it has a little of everything and could appeal to a wide range of readers. Yes, it does lean more toward the fantasy/sci-fi genre but there are so many other literary reference and genre crossovers, that it would work for a diverse group.

This was a quick, fun read with a lot going for it. As further enticement, the second book is on its way.

That’s all for today!

-M-

Chicka Chicka READING!

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Hi Guys,

This weekend I was able to put together a new bulletin board display, inspired by picture book classic: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! 

51hsu2qlyhl-_sx378_bo1204203200_ For those of you who are not familiar with this gem, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a picture book that uses fun rhymes to go through the alphabet.

“A told B, and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.”

All the letters of the alphabet race up the coconut tree, but it’s a tight squeeze… well you can guess the rest.

This was a display I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. The palm tree is the perfect icon for summer and the falling alphabet was just screaming to be spelled out into some library-ish term.

To begin building my display I started with my letters. I chose to spell out “READING” because it was a long enough word to look right but not too long to be squished.20160714_184305

I tried to use colors that complimented the story. My library does have an accucutter for lettering but the font just wasn’t right, so I printed mine out and cut them out myself.

I’ve been trying to think green lately so I’ve been laminating all of the displays, if at all possible. This way I can reuse elements in other displays and build up a cache of backups in case I ever don’t have time to create a whole new display.

Once20160714_184208 I was done with my letters I wor20160714_184231ked on my palm tree. In order to make the assembly easier I left the palms and base of the tree separate. This also allowed me to laminate the pieces.

With my palm tree and my letters
all I had left to do was measure out my background paper and, very gently, take down my current display.

I did run into a little issue when putting up the bulletin board. With the way I set my background I didn’t have quite enough room to fit the whole palm onto the tree at the right angle without some of the branches, branching–ha!–outside of the bulletin area. This actually was a happy accident because the palms looked like they were almost jumping out of the display. And of course last minute I had to add a happy sun.

Overall, this was a super fun and really easy display. This one took minimal effort and did not require a ton of tiny details. To put up this bulletin board I have to use a step ladder and lean over a fish tank, so having minimal “parts” is ideal.

I hope you enjoyed my Chicka Chicka Boom Boom inspired reading display!

-M-

The Story of Diva and Flea & Giraffes Can’t Dance

Hi Guys,

Not much new to report this week. Programs are in the works, displays are pretty much set for the summer, storytimes don’t start up again until September. I’m considering adding a new section to my blog: It happened at the library. Just a weekly round up of all the strange going-ons. If you’re a librarian you know what I’m talking about. We’ll see.

I did finish the Ascendance trilogy this week by Jennifer A. Nielsen. As usual, the first book was by far the best but as a whole the trilogy is worth a read. Frankly, I was surprised by how much torture and violence there was in general in the last two books. It was done tastefully and considering the things kids watch on TV and the internet these days, pales in comparison. But still, would be worth a read through first before deciding if it is appropriate for your little ones. Overall, a good story that kept me interested; the feels were there!

This week I figured I’d write two mini reviews.

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The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems & Tony DiTerlizzi

The Story of Diva and Flea is an early chapter book for 2nd-4th graders. The chapters are alternatively narrated by our main characters, Diva and Flea. Flea is a flanuer and he is one of the greats. He travels Paris on his own to see what he can see. Diva is a small dog who lives a secluded life in a fenced in courtyard in Paris, which she has never left. But Diva is well cared for and master of her small domain. A chance encounter causes these two unlikely friends to step outside their comfort zones and explore a different kind of life.

What drew my attention to this book were the beautiful illustrations that reminded me a little of the movie Lady and the Tramp. With that in mine, the story didn’t disappoint. I was expecting a rough and tumbled, streets smart cat and a sheltered but kind dog–and that is exactly what I got. I also love reading stand alone books from popular series authors, like Mo Willems, and seeing what else they can do.

This would be a great easy reader for kids who want to transition to longer chapter books. The font is not intimidating; there are still pictures to break up the text; and the chapters are short little snippits that are complete on their own but also pull together for a complete story. Yes, there are some French words in the story but the meanings are usually there in the context. Maybe a vocabulary list at the back would have been good but not necessary.

The Story of Diva and Flea was a short, early chapter book with beautiful illustrations and a relate-able theme of being brave and trying something new.


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Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

Giraffes Can’t Dance is a picture book new to my library. The cover caught my eye and I just had to pick it up. This picture book is about Gerald, a clumsy Giraffe who desperately wants to dance but who just can’t find his rhythm. He’d love to join in with the others at the annual Jungle Dance but all the other animals laugh at him and mock him and intimidated, Gerald goes off on his own. Down in the dumps, Gerald is given some words of wisdom from a cricket, who encourages him to be different and proud. Inspired, Gerald hears the music and moves to his own beat…a beat the other animals are wowed by and Gerald becomes the life of the party.

This picture book has a little of everything–Pleasing illustrations, good rhythm and rhyme, a fairly good pace and a lesson parents everywhere want to share: that being different is OK, so embrace what is different about you and make it your own.

The story itself is a little long for a storytime book but not so long that you wouldn’t be able to use it for a jungle theme. Because it rhymes it is a little difficult to shorten the story by skipping pages. There were also one or two pages where the rhymes were a little clunky to fit the story. But I think the kids would laugh at the different dances the animals do and at Gerald’s clumsy attempts at greatness–extra points if you attempt the dances yourself!

Overall, Giraffes Can’t Dance was a fun picture book with a great lesson. Honestly, if it rhymes or can be sung it is usually a go in my book.

That’s all for today!

-M-

The False Prince

Welcome to my first Thursday book review! I read quite a lot being a librarian. Anything from picture books to high fiction. My personal reading habits tend to lean toward fantasy or magical realism but really, I will give anything that speaks to me a try.

Odds are there will be small spoilers but I’ll do my best to keep them at a minimum.

Today I will be reviewing The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

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The kingdom of Carthya is on the brink of civil war as rumors of the assassination of the royal family spread rampant. Nobleman, Connor, plans to reunite his country by placing the second born prince, Jaron, on the throne. The only problem is that Jaron was lost at sea four years ago. Convinced of Jaron’s death, Connor “recruits” four orphans to play the part, including the troublesome Sage. Sage and the other boys are pinned against each other, each with their own agenda for wanting the throne. Can Sage navigate this tangled web of lies? And what will happen to him if he can’t?

The False Prince is the first book in the Ascendance Trilogy. For a first book in a trilogy, I thought Nielsen did a great job. The story had a great flow; witty dialogue and dynamic characters propelled the it forward.  The book is action packed and there are twists and turns around every corner.

One of the things I loved about this book were the transformations of the characters. Even supporting characters made leaps and bounds throughout the story. You’d have a gruff thug one second and a loyal sidekick the next. Arrogant brats became trembling puppy dogs, almost without you even realizing it’s happening and yet it does and it just fits.

Mini spoiler but not really… I really do have to commend Nielsen on her handling of Sage. You knew, knew, Sage was really the prince almost the whole story. It might have been meant as a surprise but the reader suspects almost from the start. Even so, Nielsen did such a spectacular job with this reveal, revealing the layers upon layers she embedded into the story. Just really well done.

The target audience for this book would be a mature 6th through 8th grade. There was quite a bit of violence in the story but done in a very tactful way. The violence was more of a dramatic buildup than scary or gory.

I am always hesitant to continue trilogies if I am satisfied with the story as a whole. I’m often afraid the story will be overdone or dragged out. But Nielsen left me with enough questions to want to continue, which is always a great motivator. We weren’t left with these gaping cliffhangers, which can drive readers–especially young ones–crazy. We were left with gaps in the story; little alluded to nuggets of missing information, propelling the story onward.

Ultimately, I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.

The Wow Factor

Using window paint to create summer read and learn displays. 

Hi Guys,

So a few days ago, I was told we needed a “Wow Factor” to get people walking into the library talking about summer reading. Being the display guru of the branch, I was chosen for this task. Now I’d already decorated the Children’s Room with summer themed reading displays:

 

 

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I wasn’t overly excited to do another summer reading display because it was a big task with a short deadline. But someone has to do it and it’s something I enjoy.

Our library has two entrances and we wanted something our patrons could see as they were walking into the building. I mentioned in passing–never a wise thing to do when a job needs doing–that window paint might be the quickest and easiest way to turn something out quickly. So that is what we decided to do.

20160702_093740            I settled on two different types of temporary window paint: basic car paint–the type kids decorate their cars with for weddings and graduation–and Crayola window paint for details.

Although my wrist was aching by the time I finished, the car window paint actually worked best. It was brighter and I could cover larger surfaces. It was also the easiest to “erase” when I made a mistake. Do be careful though, to get the brightest colors you have to squeeze while painting, which causes drips. Have a paper towel ready!

After taking care of logistics… who would clean the windows when summer was over and ensuring they wouldn’t get cleaned beforehand,  I drew out a rough plan and got to work.

Now I won’t lie, I was sooo intimidated working in this medium. I work great with cutouts and paper (check out my display page) but I don’t have the greatest freehand, so I won’t lie I moaned throughout the whole process.

For our upper level, technically the “adult” entrance, I stuck with the summer read & learn logos: IMG_20160702_164147

But downstairs, the “kids” and main entrance, I played around with the sports theme: IMG_20160702_163916On the tri-set of windows I played with a stadium and football theme. Including the Teen and Adult summer reading slogans.

IMG_20160702_164023On the opposite side of the doorways I went with the kids slogan and baseball and basketball. These were the easiest sports I could think of to display.

Ultimately, I was really pleased with these and within minutes of finishing my colleagues told me they were already getting asked about the windows and what the decorations were for.

Now, the real test will be: will they last and how hard will they be to get off in September. I guess we will just have to wait and see if any more window painting is in my future!

-M-

The Best Laid Plans…

Sometimes, the best laid plans go awry.

During the summer, across the nation, libraries of all sizes begin planning their summer reading activities. Many, if not all, libraries schedule STEM or STEAM programs. These are craft or activity based programs with an emphasis on: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and/or Math.

My library is no different. We try to plan STEAM programs that are both educational and fun for the kids. If it shoots, flies or floats it’s a winner. Yesterday was our first STEAM program of the summer and although it ended well, the prep had us shifting gears at the last minute.

Originally, we intended on making pom-pom poppers using cups and balloons.

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But we quickly realized we didn’t give ourselves enough time to experiment with materials and techniques. The day before the program we found out that mini cups don’t shoot, Styrofoam cups crumple when you put on the balloons and plastic cups left too many sharp edges. Yikes! Given more time we would have found a way to smooth the edges or reinforce the cups, but time was not our friend so on to Plan B!

As a librarian you have to be flexible. You have to be ready to shift gears at a moments notice. So that is what we did. Taking an inventory of the supplies we had on hand and doing some very quick Pinterest searches we decided on a floating ball activity:

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This was the perfect back up plan. It was quick, easy and we were able to make it our own. The kids had a blast decorating their funnels and hypothesizing what would float higher and how long they could get their items to stay in the air.

Overall, fun was had and we made it through the day!

-M-

Getting Started

Hi guys! Welcome to my blog.

Today’s post will be all about the whos, whats, whys and whens behind the creation of this blog. I know, I know but we all have to start somewhere.

I can honestly say, that I have no real ambitions behind this site other then creating a space where I can keep track of all of the things I do as a librarian. Clutter is not my friend; I believe in clean desks and frown on any filing system that involves piles.

Librarians do a lot. We aren’t just there to shhh people and answer book related questions. We do programming and storytimes. We are tech gurus and sounding boards. We’re a shoulder to cry on and Google with a face. We create inviting displays, are constantly cleaning up after our patrons and more…oh so much more.

I originally intended this as a private site–a portfolio of sorts I could share with friends and family. But librarians are all about the facilitation of knowledge; we want to share what we know not only with our patrons but with each other. So I decided that, even if I am the only one who looks at this blog… that’s OK. At least it will be out there and anyone who wants to view it can. So feel free to browse. Pick and choose. If any of my ideas can help you in someway, I will be a happy camper!

The layout–My intention for the blog is to post about things I do at the library. This will primarily revolve around storytimes, children’s programming and the displays I do for the children’s room. My goal is to post at least once a week, more depending on what I have going on. Depending on the subject of the post, I will archive it under one of the following: Programming, Displays, Book Reviews.

I plan on doing a book review every Thursday. Although I am primarily a fiction girl I do read J, YA and adult materials–so even though most of this site will have to do with my work with children, the book reviews will span ages.

I guess there is nothing else to do except to get started! Bare with me as I get more familiar with this process and using WordPress in general.

Thanks for visiting my toolbox!

-M-