Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New children's and YA e-books added to NCLS!

Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman.

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

Challenger Deep is a deeply powerful and personal novel from one of today's most admired writers for teens. Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Speak, calls Challenger Deep "a brilliant journey across the dark sea of the mind; frightening, sensitive, and powerful. Simply extraordinary."
 
Detective Gordon: The First Case, by Ulf Nilsson. Illustrated by Gitte Spee.

Someone's stealing nuts from the forest, and it's up to Detective Gordon to catch the thief! Unfortunately, solving this crime means standing in the snow and waiting for a long time.... If only he had an assistant—someone small, fast, and clever―to help solve this terrible case. A brilliant detective story by one of Sweden's top children's writers and illustrated in full color throughout. A book to read alone or aloud!

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire's impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They've seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia's brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire's greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school's finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he's being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

The Game of Love and Death, by Martha Brockenbrough.

Not since The Book Thief has the character of Death played such an original and affecting part in a book for young people. Flora and Henry were born a few blocks from each other, innocent of the forces that might keep a white boy and an African American girl apart; years later they meet again and their mutual love of music sparks an even more powerful connection. But what Flora and Henry don't know is that they are pawns in a game played by the eternal adversaries Love and Death, here brilliantly reimagined as two extremely sympathetic and fascinating characters. Can their hearts and their wills overcome not only their earthly circumstances, but forces that have battled throughout history?

In the rainy Seattle of the 1920s, romance blooms among the jazz clubs, the mansions of the wealthy, and the shanty towns of the poor. But what is more powerful: love? Or death?

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls, by Holly Grant. Illustrated by Josie Portillo(Also available in audio, narrated by Rosalyn Landor.)

Anastasia is a completely average almost-eleven-year-old. That is, UNTIL her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident. UNTIL she's rescued by two long-lost great-aunties. And UNTIL she's taken to their delightful and, er, "authentic" Victorian home, St. Agony's Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

But something strange is going on at the asylum. Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are not who they say they are. So when she meets Ollie and Quentin, two mysterious brothers, the three join together to plot their great escape!

Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Robin Talley.

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal."

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

The Revelation of Louisa May, by Michaela MacColl.

Louisa May Alcott can hardly believe her ears—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and her father won't do anything to stop her. How is Louisa to find the time to write her stories if she has to add taking care of her father and sister to her list of chores? And why can't she escape the boredom of her small town to have an adventure of her own? Little does Louisa know just how interesting her small world is about to become. Before long she is juggling her stubborn father, a fugitive slave who is seeking safety along the Underground Railroad, and possibly even love where she least expects it. Add the mysterious murder of a slave catcher to the mix, and Louisa has her hands full.

Michaela MacColl has once again intertwined the facts of a beloved author's real life with a suspenseful fictional tale that will not only have readers on the edges of their seats but also, like Louisa, debating right versus wrong, family versus independence, and duty versus love.

Things We Know by Heart, by Jessi Kirby.

In this unforgettable teen romance that fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti will devour, Quinn Sullivan falls for the recipient of her boyfriend's donated heart, forming an unexpected connection that will leave readers utterly breathless.

After Quinn's boyfriend, Trent, dies in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the fragments of her now-unrecognizable life. But whoever received Trent's heart has mysteriously remained silent. The essence of a person, Quinn has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent's, then in a way she still has a piece of him.

Risking everything to find peace once and for all, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she's falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she's lost . . . and all that remains at stake.
 
The Trap, by Steven Arntson.

It's the summer of 1963, and something strange is afoot in the quiet town of Farro, Iowa. The school district's most notorious bully has gone missing without a trace, and furthermore, seventh grader Henry Nilsson and his friends have just found an odd book stashed in the woods by Longbelly Gulch—-a moldy instruction guide written to teach the art of "subtle travel," a kind of out-of-body experience. The foursome will soon discover that out-of-body life isn't so subtle after all—-there are some very real, and very dangerous, things happening out there in the woods.

The science fiction inventiveness of Madeleine L'Engle meets the social commentary of Gary Schmidt in this thrilling tale of missing persons, first crushes, embarrassing pajamas, and thought-provoking dilemmas.

Zeroboxer, by Fonda Lee.

Carr "the Raptor" Luka is a rising star in the weightless combat sport called zeroboxing. To help him win the championship title, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm—a personal marketing strategist. It isn't long before she's made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

But as his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that's fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. And when Carr learns of a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices place everything he holds dear into jeopardy, they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.

(All descriptions from OverDrive.) 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Guest Post: Canton's Living Library

On Saturday, April 18, Canton Free Library held a Living Library event. Director Emily Owen talks a little about the experience of organizing this nontraditional library program:

Living Libraries (or "Human Libraries") are events where patrons can "check out" a real person and hear his or her personal story first-hand. Living Libraries were started in Denmark as a way to fight prejudice, but we see our version as a way for people to get to know their community better and think about sharing their own stories.

Assemblywoman Addie Russell (right) participates in Canton's Living Library program.

The people available for "checkout" were:
-Assemblywoman Addie Russell, for an inside look at life in NY government;
-A martial artist and English teacher who struck up a letter-writing friendship with sci-fi author Ray Bradbury;
-Two Vietnam veterans who fell in love at Walter Reed Army Hospital;
-A wildlife biologist and professional ice carver who's also worked security for B.B. King and Ozzy Osbourne;
-A linguist, author and expert on the local Amish population;
-An agriculture consultant who works in Africa and Asia to help communities build sustainable food sources;
-The founder of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), an organization dedicated to preserving folk arts and traditions in our region.

On choosing participants:
We had some basic requirements-- the person needed to be interesting, they had to be chatty, and they had to be comfortable talking about themselves in front of total strangers! Carole [Berard], Krista [Briggs] and I met a few times to brainstorm a "long list" of local people who fit that bill (we also got input from the rest of the staff). Then we sort of refined it by approaching them like real books-- looking for a balanced collection that would be interesting for our target audience.

Sometimes we came up with a subject and found a "book" to fit it-- for example, we knew we wanted at least one person connected to Canton history, so we decided to ask Varick Chittenden, founder of Traditional Arts in Upstate NY and Dr. Karen Johnson Weiner, who studies Pennsylvania Dutch and the local Amish communities that speak it. Luckily, they both said yes!
Other times we had someone we HAD to fit in somewhere-- a few of us were already fascinated by patron Frank Palumbo's correspondence with Ray Bradbury, and Alan Leo got on the list when he regaled the staff with a story of being trapped in a car by a pack of hungry hyenas.
Other things we thought about were whether the person we wanted would be available for a Saturday program, and how they'd fit with the other people we'd chosen. Since we didn't know what to expect (and since adult programs usually get low attendance for us), we wanted people who would "work the room" and talk to each other.

Not everyone we asked said yes, but we were so happy with the mix that we ended up with. The one that surprised us most was Addie Russell-- she was on our list from the beginning, but we were almost sure she'd be too busy in Albany. She ended up staying for the whole program!

Getting the final list of "books" took a LONG time-- we probably started working on it in early 2014, and didn't sign up the last person until about 3 weeks before the event!

Advice to other libraries who want to try this program:
Give yourself lots of time (at least a year) and don't try to do it all on your own. We had a team of three for most of the planning-- Krista did the overall organizing, coordinated with the presenters and made publicity materials (flyers, brochures, signs etc.); Carole was in charge of refreshments and did a lot of the work of choosing "books" and figuring out who would work well together; and I sent press releases and talked to the newspaper. But we also had a lot of promotion help from Amanda, who writes our weekly newspaper column, and Val, who worked the day of the event. I think it would have been tough to do with fewer people-- unless they could have worked on it full time!

For resources, the HumanLibrary.org site has a lot of information, and there are some webinars and workshops out there that we found helpful.

A day, again.

Recently had a conversation about how the common misconception about what librarians do (read books all day, check books in and out) is based solely on the tasks the patron sees, and how those things are usually only the tip of the job description iceberg.* This goes double for system staff, because NOBODY EVER SEES WHAT WE DO WE ARE GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE. 

So, in the interest of pulling back the curtain a tiny bit, I thought I'd share my most recent Monday as a library consultant in a large, rural system. Enjoy:

7:54am. Arrive at NCLS. Sign in and sit down with my croissant and chai.

7:55am. Check e-mail, social media feeds, blog feed. Compile youth services roundup. I try to send out a short collection of youth services-related resources each day, depending on what my morning looks like.

9:09am. Work on OverDrive cart. I order e-books for children and teens in our system, and trying to create a current, balanced, diverse collection of titles within my budget is always a challenge.

9:41am. Prepare for meeting of Jefferson County libraries. Check the room, review talking points.

9:50am. Pre-meeting chat with early arrivals.

10:02am. Jefferson County library meeting. This group was originally a funding committee exploring the breakdown of county grant allocations, but has since expanded its efforts to include advocacy and outreach. Some of the libraries in our system already participate as a group in regionally specific activities like county fairs or festivals, and Jefferson meeting participants brainstormed ideas for their libraries. We also discussed our county funding advocacy campaign, since it's never too early to advocate for county funding!

11:15am. Discussion with library trustee regarding a question about the appropriate amount of insurance coverage for books.

11:28am. Lunch.

12:28pm. Work on blog post about new children's and YA e-books and intermittently respond to e-mail as it comes in. Composing the blog post entails copying and pasting book summaries and grabbing cover images (which doesn't take too long), and second-guessing my cart and double-checking reviews posted to Kirkus and School Library Journal (which does).

1:25pm. Write up the notes from the morning's meeting. Usually I wait entirely too long to do this, because I am the worst note taker ever and can never make sense of what I scribbled down during the meeting. Unfortunately, the longer I wait to make sense of my notes, the less sense they make. Trying to be better about this. 

1:41pm. Look for chocolate. Find chocolate. Eat chocolate.

1:42pm. Resume notes.

2:43pm. Take a lap around the building.

2:45pm. Check on how juvenile and YA e-books are circulating - which titles are checked out, which have holds.

2:48pm. Summoned to the front desk to help a gentleman in need of local professional book restoration service.

2:59pm. Touch base with my boss about the insurance question from earlier in the day since the only context I have for the term 'depreciation' is how it applies to a car as soon as you drive it off the lot.

3:12pm. Editing project. Fun fact: I will gladly look over, tighten, polish, deconstruct and/or reconstruct whatever first draft you put in front of me, whether it's a business letter, a news article, or a grant proposal.

3:22pm. Check the weather. It may snow later in the week, which is unacceptable, but not unheard of for this time of year in this neck of the woods.

3:23pm. Back to editing project.

3:58pm. Update NCLS Twitter account. I usually do this much earlier in the day, when I am putting off things like typing up meeting notes.

4:04pm. Sign timesheets for the Outreach department.

4:12pm. Discover the YALSA Top Ten Nominees for 2015 list and make sure I recognize at least a few of the titles.

4:21pm. Check blog feed quickly before going home for dinner.

4:29pm. Sign out for the day.

6:15pm. Back on the clock! Drive down to Belleville.

7pm. Board meeting of the Belleville Philomathean Free Library. As a library consultant, sometimes I'm invited to board meetings to help solve problems or provide support during difficult times, and other times I'm invited just because I haven't been for a visit in a while. This visit was of the latter variety, and even without a problem to solve, I was happy to field questions as they came up.

9:15pm. Home again, home again.

*And for the record, even though some librarians do check books in and out, I do not know a single one who reads books all day. Not even one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New children's and YA e-books added to NCLS!

All the Rage, by Courtney Summers.

The sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy's only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous.

But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn't speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won't now—but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, Courtney Summers' new novel All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them. 

Aqualicious by Victoria Kann. (Audio, narrated by Kathleen McInerney.)

Pinkalicious loves the beach, especially when she finds a miniature mermaid named Aqua tucked inside a shell! Pinkalicious and her brother, Peter, promise to help Aqua the merminnie find her way home—after they show her all of the pinkamazing things to do at the seashore. From building sand castles to surfing in the ocean, the trio has a ton of fun, but at the end of the day they realize home is not always what you think it is.

This splashy addition to the bestselling Pinkalicious library makes a day in the sun absolutely Aqualicious!

Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon.

From the creator of Dragonbreath comes a tale of witches, minions, and one fantastic castle, just right for fans of Roald Dahl and Tom Angleberger.

When Molly shows up on Castle Hangnail's doorstep to fill the vacancy for a wicked witch, the castle's minions are understandably dubious. After all, she is twelve years old, barely five feet tall, and quite polite. (The minions are used to tall, demanding evil sorceresses with razor-sharp cheekbones.) But the castle desperately needs a master or else the Board of Magic will decommission it, leaving all the minions without the home they love.

So when Molly assures them she is quite wicked indeed (So wicked! REALLY wicked!) and begins completing the tasks required by the Board of Magic for approval, everyone feels hopeful. Unfortunately, it turns out that Molly has quite a few secrets, including the biggest one of all: that she isn't who she says she is.

This quirky, richly illustrated novel is filled with humor, magic, and an unforgettable all-star cast of castle characters.

Gone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia. 

Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it's like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime.

Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles's half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven't spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that's been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

Powerful and humorous, this companion to the award-winning One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven will be enjoyed by fans of the first two books as well as by readers meeting these memorable sisters for the first time.

The Imaginary, by A.F. Harrold. Illustrated by Emily Gravett.

Rudger is Amanda Shuffleup's imaginary friend. Nobody else can see Rudger—until the evil Mr. Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr. Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumor has it that he even eats them. And now he's found Rudger.

Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. He needs to find Amanda before Mr. Bunting catches him—and before Amanda forgets him and he fades away to nothing. But how can an unreal boy stand alone in the real world?

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli.

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met.

Incredibly funny and poignant, this twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming out story—wrapped in a geek romance—is a knockout of a debut novel by Becky Albertalli.

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me, by Meredith Zeitlin.

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they're moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she's devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona's mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she's supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks... but no thanks.

In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.

Stolen Magic (A Tale of Two Castles #2) by Gail Carson Levine. 

Elodie, the dragon detective Meenore, and the kindly ogre Count Jonty Um are all on their way to Elodie's home island of Lahnt. Elodie has barely set foot on land before she learns that the Replica, a statue that keeps her island's deadly volcano from erupting, has been stolen! If the Replica isn't found in three days, a mountain will be destroyed. And when Elodie ends up alone with a cast of characters each of whom may be guilty, she has to use her wits to try to unravel a tangled web of lies.

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carson Levine has written an imaginative, fast-paced mystery that will be enjoyed by fans of A Tale of Two Castles as well as those meeting Elodie, Meenore, and Count Jonty Um for the first time.

The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other), by Geoff Rodkey.

This brand-new series by a popular screenwriter is pitch-perfect, contemporary comedy featuring twelve-year-old fraternal twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn't be more different...except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war! But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that's fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.

Told as a colorful "oral history" by the twins and their friends, and including photos, screenshots, chat logs, online gaming digital art, and text messages between their clueless parents, The Tapper Twins is a hilariously authentic showcase of what it's like to be in middle school in our digitally-saturated world.

The Truth Commission, by Susan Juby.

Open secrets are the heart of gossip — the obvious things that no one is brave or tactless enough to ask. Except for Normandy Pale and her friends. They are juniors at a high school for artistsl, and have no fear. They are the Truth Commission. Then, one of their truth targets says to Normandy: "If you want to know about the truth, you might want to look a little closer to home."

This dryly funny, knife-sharp novel, written as "narrative nonfiction" by Normandy herself, features footnotes, illustrations and a combination mystery/love story that will capture readers from the first page.

(All descriptions from OverDrive.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

School visit, otherwise entitled, No I Am Not Famous.

Mrs. Penny Slate, the school librarian at Hammond Central School, recently invited me to come visit with her third and first grade classes, and I was only too happy to accept. One of the biggest adjustments about moving from the children's department of a public library to working in youth services at a public library system is the conspicuous lack of children. And while I have grown to love the glorious, glorious quiet of my non-public workspace, I miss the kids and their stories/questions/surprise hugs.

My format was pretty basic - introduce myself, talk a little about public libraries and summer reading at their local library, share a book, and then invite questions.

For the third graders, I chose Chloe and the Lion, by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex. I asked first about the roles of the author and illustrator and which of them the students thought had the more important job. It was about a 50/50 split with one brave soul in the front row voting for both. After the story, I asked again, and many more students voted for both. This is one of my favorite read-alouds for elementary schoolers, because it's funny, it promotes discussion, and I get the chance to do a boatload of voices.

For the first graders, I chose Crankee Doodle, by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell. We started by singing the song Yankee Doodle, to make sure everyone had the context for understanding the book, which uses the lyrics as a framework for the plot. Afterwards, Mrs. Slate asked the kids if the book, in which one character stubbornly refuses every suggestion another character makes, reminded them of another book they might know. The kids jumped right on it with Green Eggs and Ham, which was great.

After the stories, Mrs. Slate called the students up in small groups for a book giveaway, and during this activity, I fielded questions from the third graders. I told the kids I would answer any questions they might have about books, libraries, or myself. Turns out, they didn't really have too many questions about books or libraries. But they really wanted to know about me.

How old are you?
Are you famous?
Do you travel a lot?
What kind of car do you drive?
Where do you live? Do you know any Smiths/Joneses/etc.?

But the absolute best question I got happened before my introduction to the third graders, when Mrs. Slate told the kids they had a special guest. A hand shot up. "Are you Mrs. Claus?"*

The first graders were a little too fidgety for Q&A, since they'd just come from a keyboarding class and were nearing the end of their ability to sit quietly. So, instead I taught them a rhyming song I learned when I was a summer camp counselor. Camp songs are gold when you need an impromptu activity for school-age kids. I highly recommend befriending a camp counselor and adding at least one or two to your bag of tricks. Even if you're not a librarian.

All in all, a great day. The kids enjoyed the stories - in fact, the first graders asked me to start right over again when I'd finished. I was able to promote public libraries and make a stronger connection with a school librarian in our system. (Talking shop with Mrs. Slate over lunch was an added bonus!) And the first graders ambushed me with enough surprise hugs to tide me over until my next school visit.

*And no, I was not in costume. Clearly, an affinity for cookies is something children can sense.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New children's and YA e-books added to NCLS

An Ambush of Tigers, by Betsy R. Rosenthal.

Have you ever heard of a prickle of porcupines? Or a tower of giraffes? What about a parcel of penguins?

This fun-filled romp through the animal kingdom introduces collective nouns for animals through wordplay. Clever rhymes and humorous illustrations bring these collective nouns to life in funny ways, making it easy to remember which terms and animals go together.

A glossary in the back matter offers further explanation of words used as collective nouns, such as sleuth meaning "detective." 

The Alex Crow, by Andrew Smith.

Skillfully blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, award-winning Grasshopper Jungle author Andrew Smith chronicles the story of Ariel, a refugee who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village.

Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, Ariel's story is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century... and a depressed, bionic reincarnated crow.

The Black Reckoning (Books of Beginning #3) by John Stephens.

The adventures of siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma come to a stunning conclusion when they must find the last Book of Beginning--the Book of Death--before the Dire Magnus does, for when all three books are united, their combined power will be unstoppable.

Soon Emma is on a journey to places both worldly and otherworldly, confronting terrifying monsters and ghosts, and what is darkest within herself. As the fabric of time begins to fray, she becomes the final piece of an extraordinary puzzle.

Only if she can master the powers of this most dangerous book will she, Kate, and Michael be able to save the world from the dramatic, deadly final confrontation between magical and ordinary people that the Dire Magnus has in store. 

Button Hill, by Michael Bradford.

Dekker isn't happy that he and his little sister, Riley, are stuck in Button Hill with their weird old great-aunt Primrose. When he discovers an old clock in the cellar, made entirely of bones and with a skull for a face, he doesn't think much about it.

But when Riley goes missing, a strange boy named Cobb appears in Button Hill. He tells Dekker that Button Hill sits on the border between Nightside and Dayside—and that Riley is in Nightside and may never return. In order to save her, Dekker must follow her into the darkness and sacrifice something he thought he couldn't live without.  

Eden West, by Pete Hautman.

Tackling faith, doubt, and transformation, National Book Award winner Pete Hautman explores a boy's unraveling allegiance to an insular cult. Twelve square miles of paradise, surrounded by an eight-foot-high chain-link fence: this is Nodd, the land of the Grace. It is all seventeen-year-old Jacob knows. Beyond the fence lies the World, a wicked, terrible place, doomed to destruction.

When the Archangel Zerachiel descends from Heaven, only the Grace will be spared the horrors of the Apocalypse. But something is rotten in paradise. A wolf invades Nodd, slaughtering the Grace's sheep. A new boy arrives from outside, and his scorn and disdain threaten to tarnish Jacob's contentment. Then, while patrolling the borders of Nodd, Jacob meets Lynna, a girl from the adjoining ranch, who tempts him to sample the forbidden Worldly pleasures that lie beyond the fence.

Jacob's faith, his devotion, and his grip on reality are tested as his feelings for Lynna blossom into something greater and the End Days grow ever closer. Eden West is the story of two worlds, two hearts, the power of faith, and the resilience of the human spirit.

In Mary's Garden, by Tina & Carson Kugler.

While the rest of her classmates were making pastries in cooking classes, Mary Nohl was making art—anything she fancied out of anything she could find. Inspiration struck Mary even when she wasn't looking for it. Mary used common objects to make uncommon art. And one day, her garden was a gallery.

Mary Nohl passed away in 2001 at the age of eighty-seven. Her famous garden gallery is located in the front yard of her Fox Point, Wisconsin, home to this day. 

Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys), by Amy Spalding.

Riley and her best guy friend, Reid, have made a pact: they'll help each other pursue their respective crushes, make something happen, and document the details in a shared notebook.


While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over a girl's heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, the guy she's been obsessed with forever. His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But between a chance meeting with a fellow musician in a record store and a brief tryst with a science-geek-turned-stud-not to mention Ted's own tentative attentions-cute guys are suddenly popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! As their love lives go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid's pact may prove to be more than they bargained for.

Filled with cute dogs, cute boys, and a few awkward hookups, this hilarious tale from Amy Spalding chronicles the soaring highs and embarrassing lows of dating in high school. 

Not Otherwise Specified, by Hannah Moskowitz.

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere—until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca might be Etta’s salvation…but can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself? 

Trombone Shorty, by Troy Andrews.

Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.

Along with esteemed illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, until he reached international stardom. Trombone Shorty is a celebration of the rich cultural history of New Orleans and the power of music.

The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die #2), by Danielle Paige.

In this sequel to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die, who is good—and who is actually Wicked?

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas. After a tornado swept through my trailer park, I ended up in Oz. But it wasn't like the Oz I knew from books and movies. Dorothy had returned, but she was now a ruthless dictator. Glinda could no longer be called the Good Witch. And the Wicked Witches who were left? They'd joined forces as the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and they wanted to recruit me.

My mission? Kill Dorothy.

Except my job as assassin didn't work out as planned. Dorothy is still alive. The Order has vanished. And the home I couldn't wait to leave behind might be in danger. Somehow, across a twisted and divided land, I have to find the Order, protect the true ruler of Oz, take Dorothy and her henchmen down—and try to figure out what I'm really doing here.


(All descriptions from OverDrive.)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Guest Post: Life-Size Board Game

If there's one thing librarians are always looking for, it's engaging, low-cost programs for kids and teens.* Ashley Pickett, the children's librarian at Flower Memorial Library in Watertown, talks about her experiment with running a life-size board game program for tweens:
 
On Tuesday, March 31st, we held the first of our tween programs at Flower Library--Life-size Sorry. We consider tweens those who are ages 9 to 12. We've held these programs in the past, but not consistently throughout the year--our goal is to have at least one program for them a month, and one per week during our Summer Reading Program. 
 
There were rumblings from this age group a couple years ago that 'there was nothing for them' and that 'this was too babyish,' meaning they weren't finding a place where they belonged in our past program offerings. Initially to start, we decided to simply take our teen programs down a notch to make them a little easier for tweens to handle. Now we're off and running with some ideas that make even our current teen and adult patrons envious!

The program took two librarians about a half hour to set up (and about another hour to actually create and print the game board-- I'm more than willing to share the game board with anyone who is interested!). Each piece of the board was printed on cardstock and taped down with masking tape. We wanted to use the kids as pieces, but didn't want to destroy our board so we purchased small cones that were about a foot high and used those instead. The kids were still excited to move "giant" pieces around the board. We ran the program from 2:30pm - 3:30pm during Spring Break, which was just enough time to finish a game with 1st and 2nd place winners. 
 
Ashley Pickett, left, and her tween crew trying out life-size Sorry.
 
I was originally concerned that we would get a rush of kids because of the date and pulled some of our regular board games out just so we had something to occupy them with, but we ended up with 13 players and things went pretty well! As much as I wanted to use giant cards too, we ended up using the cards from the regular Sorry game because it was just too much to print.

We ran the game just like you would a regular board game and the program was a blast! But as always, there are some things that I would definitely do differently next time...
 
-Print labels with their team color for kids to wear on their shirts. I had trouble remembering who was on what team at first!
 
-Assign teams as groups of kids came in. It was surprisingly hard to get them to divide into teams once the program started.
 
-Make a rule that only the team making the play can suggest moves. Other teams tried pressuring kids into moves and things got over-the-top competitive.
 
-Ask kids to sit down when it is not their turn. We had some problems with a few kids hopping all over the board and making the pieces out of place. It also made it hard for me to remember who was up next!

I was glad we...
 
-Asked the kids to help us come up with the game rules before we began playing. Turns out I have been playing the game a little differently than most my entire life!
 
-Teamed kids with their older siblings and encouraged parents to stay in the room. It helped when things got out of hand.
 
-Printed our board on cardstock. There is no way it would have survived as long as it did if it were on regular paper!

We had so much fun that I'm going to run a family Life-size Chutes and Ladders program this summer! We even joked about playing the game as a stress reliever during our next staff development day... :)
 
Sounds like a great time! Check out more children's room news and updates from the Flower Memorial Library on Facebook!
 
*And office supplies. There are a lot of stereotypes about librarians, but somehow our collective yearning for office supplies has gone unnoticed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New children's and YA e-books added to NCLS!

All the Answers, by Kate Messner.

What if your pencil had all the answers? Would you ace every test? Would you know what your teachers were thinking?

When Ava Anderson finds a scratched up pencil she doodles like she would with any other pencil. But when she writes a question in the margin of her math quiz, she hears a clear answer in a voice no one else seems to hear. With the help of her friend Sophie, Ava figures out that the pencil will answer factual questions only—those with definite right or wrong answers—but won't predict the future.

Ava and Sophie discover all kinds of uses for the pencil, and Ava's confidence grows with each answer. But it's getting shorter with every sharpening, and when the pencil reveals a scary truth about Ava's family, she realizes that sometimes the bravest people are the ones who live without all the answers...

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans, by Laurence Yep. (Also available in audio, narrated by Susan Denaker.)

Crusty dragon Miss Drake has a new pet human, precocious Winnie. Oddly enough, Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet--a ridiculous notion!

Unknown to most of its inhabitants, the City by the Bay is home to many mysterious and fantastic creatures, hidden beneath the parks, among the clouds, and even in plain sight. And Winnie wants to draw every new creature she encounters: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But Winnie's sketchbook is not what it seems. Somehow, her sketchlings have been set loose on the city streets! It will take Winnie and Miss Drake's combined efforts to put an end to the mayhem . . . before it's too late.

The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days, by Lisa Yee.

Lisa Yee gives us her most fascinating flawed genius since Millicent Min. Higgs Boson Bing has seven days left before his perfect high school career is completed. Then it's on to Harvard to fulfill the fantasy portrait of success that he and his parents have cultivated for the past four years. Four years of academic achievement. Four years of debate championships. Two years of dating the most popular girl in school. It was, literally, everything his parents could have wanted. Everything they wanted for Higgs's older brother Jeffrey, in fact. But something's not right. And when Higgs's girlfriend presents him with a seemingly innocent hypothetical question about whether or not he'd give her a kidney...the exposed fault lines reach straight down to the foundations of his life...

Read Between the Lines, by Jo Knowles.

Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger—the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. It won't be the last time a middle finger is raised on this day. Dreamer Claire envisions herself sitting in an artsy cafĂ©, filling a journal, but fate has other plans. One cheerleader dates a closeted basketball star; another questions just how, as a "big girl," she fits in. A group of boys scam drivers for beer money without remorse—or so it seems.

Over the course of a single day, these voices and others speak loud and clear about the complex dance that is life in a small town. They resonate in a gritty and unflinching portrayal of a day like any other, with ordinary traumas, heartbreak, and revenge. But on any given day, the line where presentation and perception meet is a tenuous one, so hard to discern. Unless, of course, one looks a little closer—and reads between the lines.  

The Tightrope Walkers, by David Almond.

A gentle visionary coming of age in the shadow of the shipyards of northern England, Dominic Hall is torn between extremes. On the one hand, he craves the freedom he feels when he steals away with the eccentric girl artist next door, Holly Stroud—his first and abiding love—to balance above the earth on a makeshift tightrope. With Holly, Dom dreams of a life different in every way from his shipbuilder dad's, a life fashioned of words and images and story. On the other hand, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to the brutal charms of Vincent McAlinden, a complex bully who awakens something wild and reckless and killing in Dom.

In a raw and beautifully crafted bildungsroman, David Almond reveals the rich inner world of a boy teetering on the edge of manhood, a boy so curious and open to impulse that we fear for him and question his balance—and ultimately exult in his triumphs.  

The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma.

On the outside, there's Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.

On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there's Amber, locked up for so long she can't imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls' darkest mysteries...

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

The Winner's Crime, by Marie Rutkoski.

A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin's freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She's working as a spy in the court. If caught, she'll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can't help searching for a way to change her ruthless world... and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret. 

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner's Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

(All descriptions from OverDrive.)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Makerspaces, and quilting towns.

One of my favorite recent quotes on Twitter goes like this: "It's hard to talk about Makerspaces and programming when your library can't even afford a color copier." True to a certain extent, this sentiment might hit home in the North Country, since most of our libraries are small and not exactly rocking huge budgets.

However, I feel like it's an unfair leap to assume that a makerspace is the same thing as, say, a 3-D printer. As I discovered during a recent trip to the Fayetteville Free Library, a makerspace can be many things, from a green screen and a camera to a box of donated craft supplies.*

Or... it could be awesome quilting equipment. Like the kind they just got up in Cape Vincent. The following announcement comes from library director Sharon Briggs:

The Cape Vincent Community Library has acquired an AccuQuilt machine (through a generous donation) and a selection of dies used to cut out quilt pieces like the AccuCut machine does with paper. It's wonderful!

For example, the machine will cut up to 10 layers of cotton fabric at one time, so the 2.5" strip die cuts 50 strips in one turn of the handle. The cuts are exact and so much more fun to do than cutting one rotary cut at a time. The machine is available for use by the public, but must remain here in the library. Folks can call and reserve a time to use the system; we've had a whole group of quilters make a day of it, cutting out multiple quilts.

We currently offer 12 different dies and are stocking the protective plastic sheets that must be used to protect the dies from the roller. They can be purchased at our cost which ranges from $5 - $18 depending on size and may be used multiple times before needing to be replaced.
Please feel free to call the library at 315-654-2132 with questions.

Et voila! A library makerspace, in our very own North Country. I understand that quilting is a pretty big deal in Cape Vincent, so I'm sure this machine has found a good home at the library. I'd be willing to bet that other libraries in our system would be successful in offering a similar service, whether it's a few sewing machines, some self-healing mats, or a box of scrap fabric. Or, if you're not a quilting town**, something else that speaks to the community.

The point is that makerspaces are basically the marriage of two things that libraries are known for - making communal property available to all, and encouraging lifelong learning. It's just that now the property is beginning to extend beyond books and media, and the lifelong learning is becoming more hands-on. Finding the means to fund such a project, whether through grants, donations, and/or some creative budget shuffling is certainly worth the effort. And perhaps worth at least as much a color copier. 

*Or, yes, a 3-D printer. 

**I just mentally movie pitched myself a Western set in a quilting town. Someone chewing tobacco might have uttered the words, "This here's a quiltin' town, mister. You won't find crochet hooks here. Better move along, now." This is what happens when I try to blog near the end of the workday.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New children's and YA e-books!

Blackbird Fly, by Erin Entrada Kelly.

Future rock star, or friendless misfit? That's no choice at all. Apple Yengko moved from the Philippines to Louisiana when she was little, and now that she is in middle school, she grapples with being different, with friends and backstabbers, and with following her dreams.

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. Her mother still cooks Filipino foods, speaks a mix of English and Cebuano, and chastises Apple for becoming "too American." It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple's class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple's friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is.

Erin Entrada Kelly deftly brings Apple's conflicted emotions to the page in her debut novel about family, friendship, popularity, and going your own way.

The Island of Dr. Libris, by Chris Grabenstein. (Also available in audio, narrated by Kirby Heyborne.)

What if your favorite characters came to life? Billy's spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there's Dr. Libris's private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It's almost as if the stories he's reading are coming to life! But that's impossible...isn't it? 

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, by Miranda Paul. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon.

Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.

The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.

Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person's actions really can make a difference in our world.

 The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds.

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

I'll Meet You There, by Heather Demetrios.

If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she's ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California's dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
  
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, by Teresa Toten.

Deep, understated, and wise, this engaging YA novel, winner of the Governor General's Award in Canada, is about more than the tough issue of teens dealing with obsessive-compulsive order. It also has romance, and a whodunit element that will keep readers guessing. Perfect for readers who love Eleanor & Park as well as All the Bright Places.

Adam Spencer Ross is almost fifteen, and he's got his hands full confronting the everyday problems that come with having divorced parents and a stepsibling. Add to that his obsessive-compulsive disorder and it's just about impossible for him to imagine ever falling in love. Adam's life changes, however, the instant he meets Robyn Plummer: he is hopelessly, desperately drawn to her. But is it possible to have a normal relationship when your life is anything but?

Filled with moments of deep emotion and unexpected humor, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B explores the complexities of living with OCD and offers the prospect of hope, happiness, and healing.

(All descriptions from OverDrive.)