Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New e-books added to NCLS!

Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome, by Robby Novak and Brad Montague.

"This is LIFE, people! You've got air coming through your nose! You've got a heartbeat! That means it's time to do something!" announces Kid President in his book, Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome. From YouTube sensation (75 million views and counting!) to Hub Network summer series star, Kid President—ten-year-old Robby Novak—and his videos have inspired millions to dance more, to celebrate life, and to throw spontaneous parades.
In his Guide to Being Awesome, Kid President pulls together lists of awesome ideas to help the world, awesome interviews with his awesome celebrity friends (he has interviewed Beyoncé!), and a step-by-step guide to make pretty much everything a little bit awesomer. Grab a corn dog and settle in to your favorite comfy chair. Pretend it's your birthday! (In fact, treat everyone like it's THEIR birthday!) Kid President is here with a 240-page, full-color Guide to Being Awesome that'll spread love and inspire the world.

The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall. (Also available in audio, narrated by Susan Denaker.)

Springtime is finally arriving on Gardam Street, and there are surprises in store for each member of the family.

Some surprises are just wonderful, like neighbor Nick Geiger coming home from war. And some are ridiculous, like Batty's new dog-walking business. Batty is saving up her dog-walking money for an extra-special surprise for her family, which she plans to present on her upcoming birthday. But when some unwelcome surprises make themselves known, the best-laid plans fall apart.

Filled with all the heart, hilarity, and charm that has come to define this beloved clan, The Penderwicks in Spring is about fun and family and friends (and dogs), and what happens when you bring what's hidden into the bright light of the spring sun.

Beastkeeper, by Cat Hellisen. 

Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She's grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn't know that it's magic her parents are running from.

When Sarah's mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn't even know were still alive.

Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast . . . unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever. 

Under a Painted Sky, by Stacey Lee.

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you're a girl, and harder still if you're Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier.
But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the lighthearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it's a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship. 

(All descriptions from OverDrive.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Canton's Clash of the Readers

One of the most common requests I get as a youth services consultant is for information on teen programming. People want to do more for teens, but they don't know what to do or where to start.  I think that creating an inviting environment for teens and having someone on staff who has an affinity for that particular age group is a great place to start, but after that, the sky really is the limit, and teens love to help design their own programs.

Teen Services Specialist Krista Briggs from the Canton Free Library talks about the Clash of the Readers - an unconventional book trivia competition she held recently at her library:

The booklist consisted of four books: one fantasy, one realistic fiction, one nonfiction, and one award winner. We read Here There be Dragons, by James A. Owen; Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork; The Diary of Ma Yan, by Ma Yan; and Maggot Moon, by Sally Gardner.

Our execution was unorthodox, but it worked out and everyone had a great time. While answering questions, teens would often discuss the relevant scene in the book, and the result was a series of very insightful discussions on educations, poverty, love, and fascism that showed a great deal of critical thinking, which is exactly what I was hoping for!

We ended up with four teams, totaling six teens. Ages ranged from 12-15. There were also two teens, two tweens, and three children in the audience. We had many more teens register, but I suspect the registration period was too far removed from the event itself. A number of teens forgot they had registered and did not read the books in time. No worries! A lesson for the next one, and it definitely shows there is interest! We had a decent sized audience including parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. The audience even participated from time to time. It was very fun!

That sounds like a great event! It's so interesting; it sounds like what you did was a cross between a competition and a book club.

A cross between a competition and a book club is pretty much what I was thinking of doing to address the suggestions of the teens!

How did you come up with the idea for this program?

It was very loosely based on the Battle of the Books. We had a couple 7th graders who had graduated out of that program, and were looking for something else. That's where the idea began. What seems like many years ago, we held a Teen Read Week tournament which revolved around the Twilight series (when it was still wildly popular). It wasn't universally loved, but our teens loved it, and I've been looking for the same level of interest upon which to build a new program.

I contacted Julie Firman-Bailey in the Canton Central School District libraries, and we bounced ideas back and forth. We agreed that the booklist should be small, given the reading obligations of middle- and high-school students. And since we were doing this, it would be worthwhile to try to hit some common core points, so we decided on the genres: one scifi/fantasy, one realistic fiction, one nonfiction, and one award-winner. We also decided that the questions should be more in depth than what they may have been used to. I chose the scifi/fantasy, realistic fiction, and nonfiction books. Julie sent letters to teachers. Ultimately, we decided that it was the opinions of the teens that really mattered in the details.

I held a meeting at the middle school library, and spoke with Steve Molnar at the Little River Community School to hold another one there, to get a read on teen interest and gather their ideas. I asked them to vote on which award-winner would be included by giving them ballots based on the most recent list of Morris and Printz winners and runners-up. They also helped decide the day of the event, team size, prizes, and gave input on the desired format. They were thrilled to have an opportunity to build their own competition!​

Initially, the idea was to conduct two booklists, based on grade-level: grades 7-9 and grades 9-12. The overlap was meant to give those teens just transitioning out of middle school an opportunity to choose where they felt they belonged, or go where their friends were. That idea was scrapped for this year because the majority of the interest was in the lower grades, and the older teens were happy with that booklist. (Also, I'm enrolled in school full-time and knew I would be writing the majority of the questions myself, so I was secretly relieved to cut the work in half!) I do hold out hope that word of this success will spread and cultivate interest among older teens.​

I love the collaboration element with your local schools. That's great! What advice would you give to somebody wanting to try this program at their library?

I think our libraries are all very different, so it's hard to give advice that suits every segment of our varied teen patron populations. However, I definitely learned some lessons from the experience, which I could offer to someone wanting to try this program.

This program would not have had the range it did without collaboration with the schools. That's not always the easiest task, particularly in the teen years, but it helps if you can find just one ally in the schools, even if that ally is a teen who can talk to other teens to spread the word.

The success of this event owed a great deal to the collaboration with the teens as well. Giving them input gave them ownership over the program and made them feel invested in it. 

Similarly, at the event itself, my absolute favorite thing to see was teens holding up the question asking to discuss relevant aspects of the book after having answered a question. We had one girl who clearly knew the answer to the question, but could not remember the name of the character. Instead, she gave a detailed summary of the character, including his significance to the story. Audience members, competing teams, everyone agreed that she deserved the point, so we gave it to her! It was just so great to here such a full understanding of the book, rather than just memorized details! And that was just the most extreme example. After it was over, while everyone was eating lunch, they debated whether Maggot Moon was a historical re-imagining or a dystopian future; as well as whether it took place in Russia, England, Germany, or just a conquered Europe. I suppose the advice there is to embrace the disruption. Their enthusiasm for the books was so much more important than maintaining structure. 

Finally, during lunch, I gave them all surveys, even the teen audience members. Doing this gave me so much information! It showed me where we need to improve for next time, and what they really loved. The next time we do this it will be that much closer to the program the teens are actually looking for. 

Krista Briggs has worked at the Canton Free Library since 2006 and has served as the Teen Services Specialist since 2008.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guest Post: Norwood Wellness Fair

If you're working in a library staffed by only one or two people (as many of the libraries in our system are), it can be hard to get out of the building and into the community. However, when you're able to do it, it really pays off. Today, Rebecca Donnelly of the Norwood Public Library talks about her library's role in organizing a community wellness fair:

Last year, our outreach committee decided to try something new to let the community know that the library is there for them: we put together a wellness fair. We held it in August in the Norwood Municipal Building, and about 50 people attended. There were booths, a Zumba class, and some other fun stuff. We got some feedback saying we might have more luck at a less busy time of year, so the committee scheduled another fair for March 14, 2015.

This time, Raelee Simcox, NPL Board Vice-President and Outreach Committee Chair started early, contacting vendors, health care organizations, and anyone else we could think of that had something to do with wellness. We invited Literacy of Northern New York, WIC, Canton-Potsdam Hospital and Massena Memorial Hospital, a local dance school, Head Start, a gluten-free bakery, a karate instructor, a Pi-Yo class, a Reiki practitioner who works with animals, health food and supplement vendors, even the cast of the school musical, since we were holding this year's fair at the much larger Norwood-Norfolk Central School. Raelee managed to get the hospitals to sponsor advertising for the fair, and the school advertised it on their marquee. For the first time, we even paid for advertising ourselves in addition to our typical listings in the classifieds, knowing that this would be a big event. An article ran in the Daily Courier-Observer the morning of the fair.

In all, 329 people participated in our Wellness Fair, and it cost us about $125 in advertising and $75 for a supplement to our insurance policy, since we were holding it offsite. I'm excited about keeping this going, since the community really seemed to respond to it. What I like best is that it's something people don't really expect of the library, yet it's in keeping with our mission to connect our library community with information.

Rebecca Donnelly, director of Norwood Public Library.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

New e-books added to NCLS!

So, I'm trying a new format this week to feature new e-book titles for children, teens and adults. If I did it the old way, this blog post would be three miles long, so I figured I'd pull out the super-new or high-demand stuff and feature it, with a link to the entire e-book catalog at the end. Let me know what you think! 

Public School Superhero, by James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts. Illustrated by Cory Thomas.

Kenny Wright is a kid with a secret identity. In his mind, he's Stainlezz Steel, super-powered defender of the weak. In reality, he's a chess club devotee known as a "Grandma's Boy," a label that makes him an easy target for bullies. Kenny wants to bring a little more Steel to the real world, but the question is: can he recognize his own true strength before peer pressure forces him to make the worst choice of his life?

Featuring more than 150 pieces of line art and comic-style sequences, James Patterson's newest illustrated novel is a genuinely funny yet poignant look at middle school in a challenging urban setting, where a kid's life can depend on the everyday decisions he makes.   

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story, by David Levithan.

Watch out, ex-boyfriends, and get out of the way, homophobic coaches. Tiny Cooper has something to say - and he's going to say it in song.

Filled with honesty, humor, and "big, lively, belty" musical numbers, Hold Me Closer is the no-holds-barred (and many-bars-held) entirety of the beloved musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the award-winning bestseller by John Green and David Levithan.

Cold Betrayal, by J.A. Jance.

Ali Reynolds’s longtime friend and Taser-carrying nun, Sister Anselm, rushes to the bedside of a young pregnant woman hospitalized for severe injuries after she was hit by a car on a deserted Arizona highway. The girl had been running away from The Family, a polygamous cult with no patience for those who try to leave its ranks. Something about her strikes a chord in Sister Anselm, reminding her of a case she worked years before when another young girl wasn’t so lucky.

Meanwhile, married life agrees with Ali. But any hopes that she and her husband, B. Simpson, will finally slow down and relax now that they’ve tied the knot are dashed when Ali’s new daughter-in-law approaches her, desperate for help. The girl’s grandmother, Betsy, is in danger: she’s been receiving anonymous threats, and someone even broke into her home and turned on the gas burners in the middle of the night. But the local police think the elderly woman’s just not as sharp as she used to be.

While Ali struggles to find a way to protect Betsy before it’s too late, Sister Anselm needs her help as well, and the two race the clock to uncover the secrets that The Family has hidden for so long—before someone comes back to bury them forever.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson.

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds"--the fastest liner then in service--and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger's U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small--hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more--all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don't, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

Last One Home, by Debbie Macomber. Narrated by Rebecca Lowman.

Growing up, Cassie Carter and her sisters, Karen and Nichole, were incredibly close--until one fateful event drove them apart. After high school, Cassie ran away from home to marry the wrong man, throwing away a college scholarship and breaking her parents' hearts. To make matters worse, Cassie had always been their father's favorite--a sentiment that weighed heavily on her sisters and made Cassie's actions even harder to bear.

Now thirty-one, Cassie is back in Washington, living in Seattle with her daughter and hoping to leave her past behind. After ending a difficult marriage, Cassie is back on her own two feet, the pieces of her life slowly but surely coming together. Despite the strides Cassie's made, she hasn't been able to make peace with her sisters. Karen, the oldest, is a busy wife and mother, balancing her career with raising her two children. And Nichole, the youngest, is a stay-at-home mom whose husband indulges her every whim. Then one day, Cassie receives a letter from Karen, offering what Cassie thinks may be a chance to reconcile. And as Cassie opens herself up to new possibilities--making amends with her sisters, finding love once more--she realizes the power of compassion, and the promise of a fresh start.

Check out more new e-books added to the NCLS OverDrive catalog!

(All descriptions from OverDrive.)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A day.

When I first started my job as a library consultant, I worried that my workload would be largely contingent upon people calling me up with problems, and that if they didn't have any, I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

This is hilarious to me now.

I usually spend the first hour of my day in front of a screen, and now that we're coming out of winter, I can count on some intra-system travel at least once a week. But apart from that, every day is different, and even when your phone isn't ringing, there's always something to do. Here's a snapshot of this past Thursday:

7:54am: Arrived at NCLS. Checked and responded to e-mail, quickly scanned the blogs that I follow, compiled Youth Services Roundup e-mail for member libraries. Asked cubicle neighbor Matt Corey to draw a winner for this week's book giveaway, which segued into a conversation about the format and content of our library podcast.*

9am: New website meeting. As many of you know, we've updated our website, and it's looking pretty fancy.Walked through changes and  new features, discussed usability and standards.

10:30am: Drove to Canton. Reveled in the clear roads and melting snow. Processed the two-day early literacy training I'd just returned from the previous afternoon.

11:54am: Lunch at The Bagelry, while starting Bone Gap

12:20pm: Walked to the Canton Free Library** to visit with director (and former cubicle neighbor) Emily Owen.

1pm: Attended a meeting of the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES School Library System Council. I sit on the council for each of the three school library systems in our region and attend their meetings as regularly as I can. (Weather and scheduling conflicts notwithstanding.) Brought summer reading posters to share, gave a brief update, volunteered to present a session at an upcoming regional conference.

2:10pm: Back on the road to Watertown. Sang the whole way, worked on my Peggy Lee impression.***

3:30pm: Arrived back at NCLS. Checked and responded to e-mail, popped in on various social media accounts. Signed timesheets. Lamented the state of my desk. Pulled books for future giveaways. Organized supplies for the Administrative Breakfast of the Jefferson-Lewis BOCES School Library System - summer reading posters, bookmarks featuring our electronic resources, and some advance reader copies to give away.

4:29pm: Stared longingly at the brand new issue of School Library Journal on my desk. Flipped to the back page and checked out the starred reviews, vowing to read the rest later. We'll see how that goes.

4:31pm: Out like trout. Drove home with the windows down. Huzzah for a week of above-freezing temperatures!

And there you have it. A sort-of typical (no night meetings, no emergencies) spring day as a library youth services consultant.

*Oh, we're totally doing a podcast. Stay tuned. 

**Noticed for the first time that the exterior of the Canton Free Library reads 'Benton Library.' After a brief moment when I imagined Canton had once been called Benton, I made it a point to ask Emily, and she gave me the scoop.

***It's coming along.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New e-books added to NCLS!

Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby.

Bone Gap is the story of Roza, a beautiful girl who is taken from a quiet midwestern town and imprisoned by a mysterious man, and Finn, the only witness, who cannot forgive himself for being unable to identify her kidnapper.

As we follow them through their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

Catch You Later, Traitor, by Avi.

Twelve-year-old Pete Collison is a regular kid who loves Sam Spade detective books and radio crime dramas, but when an FBI agent shows up at Pete's doorstep accusing his father of being a Communist, Pete finds himself caught in a real-life mystery. Could there really be Commies in Pete's family?

At the same time, Pete's class turns against him, thanks to similar rumors spread by his own teacher; even Kat, Pete's best friend, feels the pressure to ditch him. As Pete follows the quickly accumulating clues, he begins to wonder if the truth could put his family's livelihood—and even their freedom—at risk.

In the tradition of his Newbery Honor book Nothing But the Truth, Avi's newest novel tells a funny, insightful story packed with realistic period detail of a boy in mid-twentieth-century America. Its unique look at what it felt like to be an average family caught in the wide net of the Red Scare has powerful relevance to contemporary questions of democracy and individual freedoms.

Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan.

Music, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this genre-defying masterpiece from storytelling maestro Pam Muñoz Ryan. Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, Echo pushes the boundaries of genre and form, and shows us what is possible in how we tell stories. The result is an impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

No Parking at the End Times, by Bryan Bliss.

Abigail's parents believed the world was going to end. And—of course—it didn't. But they've lost everything anyway. And she must decide: does she still believe in them? Or is it time to believe in herself? Fans of Sara Zarr, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell will connect with this moving debut.

Abigail's parents never should have made that first donation to that end-of-times preacher. Or the next, or the next. They shouldn't have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there for the "end of the world." Because now they're living in their van. And Aaron is full of anger, disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right.

But maybe it's too big a task for one teenage girl. Bryan Bliss's thoughtful debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.
The Only Game, by Mike Lupica.

Jack Callahan is the star of his baseball team and sixth grade is supposed to be his year. Undefeated season. Records shattered. Little League World Series. The works. That is, until he up and quits.

Jack’s best friend Gus can’t understand how Jack could leave a game that means more to them than anything else. But Jack is done. It’s a year of change. Jack’s brother has passed away, and though his family and friends and the whole town of Walton thinks baseball is just the thing he needs to move on, Jack feels it’s anything but.

In comes Cassie Bennett, star softball player, and the only person who seems to think Jack shouldn’t play if he doesn’t want to. As Jack and Cassie’s friendship deepens, their circle expands to include Teddy, a guy who’s been picked on because of his weight.

Time spent with these new friends unlocks something within Jack, and with their help and the support of his family and his old friends, Jack discovers sometimes it’s more than just the love of the game that keeps us moving—and he might just be able to find his way back to The Only Game

Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2), by Rachel Hartman.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself--for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people's minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she's held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?  

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower, by Greg Pizzoli.

In the early 1900s, Robert Miller, a.k.a. "Count Victor Lustig," moved to Paris hoping to be an artist. A con artist, that is. He used his ingenious scams on unsuspecting marks all over the world, from the Czech Republic, to Atlantic ocean liners, and across America. Tricky Vic pulled off his most daring con in 1925, when he managed to "sell" the Eiffel Tower to one of the city's most successful scrap metal dealers! Six weeks later, he tried to sell the Eiffel Tower all over again. Vic was never caught. For that particular scam, anyway...

Kids will love to read about Vic's thrilling life, and teachers will love the informational sidebars and back matter. Award-winner Greg Pizzoli's humorous and vibrant graphic style of illustration mark a bold approach to picture book biography.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, by Kate Messner. Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. 

In this exuberant and lyrical follow-up to the award-winning Over and Under the Snow, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves . . . and down in the dirt. Explore the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year!

Up in the garden, the world is full of green—leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt exists a busy world—earthworms dig, snakes hunt, skunks burrow—populated by all the animals that make a garden their home.

Vanishing Girls, by Lauren Oliver.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.
The Whispering Trees (The Thickety #2, by J.A. White. 

For fans of Neil Gaiman, The Whispering Trees, book two in the Thickety series by J. A. White. It is the story of a good witch, a bad witch, and a forest demon, trapped together in a world that is both enchanting and dangerous.

After Kara Westfall's village turns on her for practicing witchcraft, she and her brother, Taft, flee to the one place they know they won't be followed: the Thickety. Only this time the Forest Demon, Sordyr, is intent on keeping them there. Sordyr is not the Thickety's only danger: unknown magic lurks behind every twist and shadow of the path.

And then they discover Mary Kettle, an infamous witch with a horrifying past. She offers to lead them out of the Thickety while teaching Kara how to cast spells without a grimoire. The children are hesitant to trust her . . . but this could be their only chance to escape.

Or the first step down a dark and wicked path.

(All descriptions from OverDrive.) 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Yvonne Reff: New job for a familiar face.

The Watertown Daily Times recently did a lovely piece on the new director at Flower Memorial Library, which I missed completely. Not surprisingly. I might be handy with a road map and good at Jeopardy, but otherwise, quite a lot gets past me. 

But a blog interview with aforementioned new director was NOT gonna get past me, especially since I know the lady personally and she has helped me move my couch. Without further delay, then, my chat with Yvonne Reff:

Okay, so I'm gonna start with an easy question, and you can answer however you like: Who are you?

I am a Virgo who likes long walks on the beach. No, sorry, wrong questionnaire. I am a librarian who enjoys helping people and creating order from chaos.

How did you come to librarianship as a career?

As a child, I loved going to the library. When I heard about the Syracuse University’s MLS program, I decided to pursue it. With an MLS, I could combine my love of libraries and helping people. And maybe help another generation of kids learn to love to read.

Sounds like you loved to read as a kid. What were some of your favorite books?

I loved to read everything:  Winnie the Pooh, Anne of Green Gables. Then I started reading fables because there were so many fable books at the library. As I got older, I enjoyed science fiction like the I, Robot series and The Gods Themselves by Asimov and fantasy books like Lord of the Rings. But then I discovered Nancy Drew books and I have loved reading mysteries since then. Obviously, my favorite authors are the classic mystery writers – Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ellis Peters.  Some of my other favorite authors are Nevada Barr, Tony Hillerman, S.J Bolton, C.J. Box, Charlaine Harris, Darynda Jones (fun, fun books). Now that I am a little older, I find that I am being drawn to non-fiction books like biographies and history books.

You were at Flower for eight years as a reference librarian before becoming the director. Can you talk about some of the changes that the new job has brought? 

Before, I felt that I was helping people on a one-to-one basis. Now I feel as if I can help people on a whole, new, even bigger scale. That is very exciting and humbling at the same time.

What are you most looking forward to as director?

This is a hard question... I am looking forward most to helping people on a much larger scale. I am looking forward to helping people say "my library" instead of "the library."

Lovely. And now, the lightning round:

Coke or Pepsi?

Chocolate or vanilla?

Salt & vinegar or barbeque?
Salt & vinegar.


Although it's nice when there's a BBC/PBS crossover.
Oh, God, yes!

Pablo Picasso or Pablo Neruda?
(long pause.)

You can say neither.
 Neither. I just don't.

Paper or plastic?

Crossword or wordsearch?

Umbrella or poncho?

The Hobbit or-
The Hobbit.

And there you have it. Thanks to Yvonne for taking the time to chat with me, and congratulations once again!

*Photo shamelessly nabbed from the Watertown Daily Times. Shamelessly. I have no shame.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New e-books added to NCLS!

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, by Kody Keplinger.

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush, who calls Bianca the Duff—the designated ugly fat friend—of her crew.

But things aren't so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles), by Marissa Meyer. (Also available in audio, narrated by Rebecca Soler.)

Pure evil has a name, hides behind a mask of deceit, and uses her "glamour" to gain power. But who is Queen Levana? Long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress in The Lunar Chronicles, Levana lived a very different story—a story that has never been told . . . until now.  

New York Times –bestselling author Marissa Meyer reveals the story behind her fascinating villain in Fairest, an unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes a special full-color image of Levana's castle and an excerpt from Winter, the exciting conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles.

I Was Here, by Gayle Forman. 

When her best friend, Meg, drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg's college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there's a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can't open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend's death gets thrown into question.

Mars Evacuees, by Sophia McDougall.

From bestselling UK author Sophia McDougall comes one fresh and funny, adventure-filled tween debut about a group of kids evacuated to Mars! Perfect for fans of Artemis Fowl, this laugh-out-loud series is packed with nonstop fun. When Earth comes under attack by aliens, hilarious heroine Alice Dare and a select group of kids are sent to Mars. But things get very strange when the adults disappear into thin air, the kids face down an alien named Thsaaa, and Alice and her friends must save the galaxy!

For when plucky twelve-year-old Alice Dare learns she's being taken out of the Muckling Abbott School for Girls and sent to another planet, no one knows what to expect. This is one wild ride that will have kids chuckling the whole way through.

Moonpenny Island, by Tricia Springstubb.

Moonpenny is a tiny island in a great lake. When the summer people leave and the ferries stop running, just the tried-and-true islanders are left behind. Flor and her best, her perfect friend, Sylvie, are the only eleven-year-olds for miles and miles—and Flor couldn't be happier. But come the end of summer, unthinkable things begin to happen. Sylvie is suddenly, mysteriously, whisked away to school on the mainland. Flor's mother leaves to take care of Flor's sick grandmother and doesn't come back. Her big sister has a secret, and Flor fears it's a dangerous one.

Meanwhile, a geologist and his peculiar daughter arrive to excavate prehistoric trilobites, one of the first creatures to develop sight. Soon Flor is helping them. As her own ability to see her life on this little lump of limestone evolves, she faces truths about those she loves—and about herself—she never imagined.

My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!) by Alison DeCamp.

It is 1895. Stan is on a mission to find his long-lost father in the logging camps of Michigan. And he's embellishing all of it in his stupendous scrapbook.

There are many things that 11-year-old Stanley Slater would like to have in life, most of all, a father. But what if Stan's missing dad isn't "dearly departed" after all? Who better to find this absent hero/cowboy/outlaw than manly Stan himself? Unfortunately, Stan's fending off his impossible cousin Geri, evil Granny, and Mama's suitors like Cold-Blooded Killer Stinky Pete. If only he could join the River Drive, the most perilous adventure of all, where even a fellow's peavey is at risk.

It's a wild ride for Stan as he finds out about true manliness. But at least Stan has his scrapbook, full of 200 black-and-white 19th-century advertisements and photos, "augmented" with his commentary and doodles.

Stan's tale will leave readers in stitches, but not the kind that require medical attention. 

Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier.

The companion to Raina Telgemeier's #1 New York Times bestselling and Eisner Award-winning graphic memoir, Smile. Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.

Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

Thursdays with the Crown, by Jessica Day George.

Castle Glower has been acting weird, so it's no surprise when two towers transport Celie and her siblings to an unknown land. When they realize that no one from home is coming to get them, the kids—along with Celie's pet griffin Rufus—set out through the forest to figure out where they are and what's happened to their beloved Castle. Instead, they discover two wizards and an entire lost people, the oldest inhabitants of Castle Glower. And it seems they may know more of the Castle's secrets than Celie. But do they know how to get her back home?
This bestselling series continues with the story of the origin of Castle Glower. Readers who've been enchanted by the Castle's moving walls will be delighted by the Castle's rich and magical history.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley.

As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Albama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans. In this memoir, she shows today's young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.

Straightforward and inspiring, this beautifully illustrated memoir brings readers into the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, complementing Common Core classroom learning and bringing history alive for young readers. 

(All descriptions from OverDrive.)