Archive for the ‘Librarical’ Category

Blogosphere niche: reviewing children’s books for out-loud reading

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

I read a lot of kid lit blogs, which often dictate what I buy for my library’s collection. It occurred to me just now that I would very much like to review children’s books, and specifically I think I have a knack for determining what kind of read they are. With pre-readers and early readers, there are a lot of options.

* Making up the story yourself, without reading the words (this requires a certain amount of storytelling illustrations)
* Stories where the words are the weight of the book (where the text tells most of the story)
* Stories where the illustrations are the weight of the book (where the illustrations shine)
* Stories to be read quietly at bedtime (quiet, cozy books with lots of small detail)
* Stories that are loud, raucous stories to read out loud (good for librarians doing storytime!)
* Stories that end up being playacted out
* Stories that are written so a early reader and a savvy reader read together

Along with reviewing the book as a whole, it would be nice to describe what kind of read it is.

So how do I start reviewing for a blog? I’d better email some of my favorite kid-book-bloggers to ask.

Bookchair doesn’t sound as good as Bibliochaise

Friday, December 28th, 2007

As I was coming up the creepy spiral stairs at the library this morning, I was reflecting on a conversation I had just had. I had been hit with one of those waves of feeling – the kind where you realize you had seemingly channeled your mom. Not only did I sound like her, but I acted like her too, during this brief dialog with my coworker.

This has been happening with increasing frequency since high school. At first it was the occasional motion (the best of which is captured on national television when I went to RAW Is WAR, and was startled by The Undertaker directly behind me.

Anyway, the point is, I was thinking about how I’m turning into my mom. Only not – I’m definitely like her, but with the changes that come from being my own person, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, traveling a different life path, etc. (Also, I don’t have her curls, something I’m still bitter about.) But like her enough that I’m pleased about it.

Then I had A Big Thought. It occurred to me that any child I have will probably be a lot like me. An insecure feeling swept me up. I thought to myself, “Am I good enough of a person to let that happen?”

Then I was all like “shit, yeah”, and continued walking up the stairs.
Much like the Cave Bookcase, this is the next in what I perceive to be a long line of library-inspired furniture:

The Bibliochaise

Bibliochaise

From PixieStixKidsPix

I’m totally Lupin.

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

I emailed the junior high Harry Potter club leader (also the junior high’s security officer) to let him know I was leaving the library, and to expect to be contacted by my replacement about upcoming Potter activities.

His words I will quote: The library job seems to be like the Defense Against the Dark Arts job!!! Nobody stays!!!

How true, Macy. How true.

(In case you’re trying to remember all the DATDA teacher’s names, I’ve already done the research: Quirrel, Lockhart, Lupin, Moody, Umbridge, Snape, then Carrows (if you count a straight up Dark Arts teacher).

Post request: The Amazon Kindle

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

I’ve had my first request for a post! I really like that Stephanie did this, because I’ve become out of the habit of posting (on the upside, I’ve picked up the habit of flossing), and I need to kick myself into gear.

Kindle

So, the Amazon Kindle. Stephanie wondered about my views on the cute little ‘wireless reading device’ that Amazon is pushing. As I am a librarian, the daughter of a librarian, a book lover, a reader, and a fixer of books, you’d think I’d HAAAAATE the idea of a digitalberg book.

I’ll give it to you in my new favorite format (that I learned about from reading soldering iron reviews):

The gut feeling on the device

+++++++++
*Much easier to read than previous versions of ebooks. Not as bit-tastic, and the screen doesn’t glow brightly, so it’s easier on the eyes.
*Don’t have to flip pages, leaving other hand free to eat snacks.
*Wireless means insta-access to more books. No waiting till the library opens, or for your Powell’s shipment
*Don’t need to have crap paperback copies of books you’re never going to read again cluttering your bookshelf.
*With one 10 oz. machine, you get hundreds of pounds of books – better for traveling.

————
*Requires electricity, which doesn’t work so hot after the zombie revolution, or in the bathtub.
*If no one publishes paper books, we’ll lose all the stories… after the zombie revolution.
*DRM (access control) may make lending a book impossible. I mean, I’m sure libraries will have different access than individuals, but I won’t be able to lend you my copy of Harry Potter.

Now, for what this all means, here’s my realistic look. Not everyone will be able to afford these babies, so I don’t think we have to worry about the death of paper publishing. My hope is that publishers will chose to treat good books by printing them on nicer paper, in fancier cases, and will become somewhat more collectible. I think mass market romance novels (and the like) will continue to be printed in their standard form. This is based somewhat on socioeconomic demographics, and on the exchangeable nature readers treat the books.

I think cover art is still important. Even with digital books, people judge books by their cover art! And I can imagine when you boot up a book, you’d see the cover art. It gets you in the mood for what you’re reading. It’s kind of like how our library system has cover images for lots of the books, so when you’re searching online, you can tell what the book is about. I think (especially for janky library software) it’s easier to tell if some thing’s a novel, nonfiction, kids, etc. based on the cover.

The Wall The Wall

I think the Kindle (and the others that will follow) will bring an ease to our paper use, boost the quality of existing paper publishing, increase the number of books written without going through publishers, and just like all the digital technology before it, continue to inspire a subculture of low-tech, self-published materials (like zines). I think because of DRM and technological limitations (at least until the next breakthrough) paper books and ebooks will live in symbiosis, maximizing the benefits of both.

If this post leaves your brain spinning and your heart racing, a great novel to read is Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. The plot revolves around a similar technology that allows a single book to act as the one-and-only resource needed for someone to navigate life. This book is one of my favorites. I also like that it’s described as “a postcyberpunk novel”. It’s so accessible as a story, and incredibly well-written. My mom would like it (if she hasn’t read it already – she kind of has a thing for Neal Stephenson books), my grandmother would like it, and my brother would like it. There. Read it!

Bookity update

Monday, November 26th, 2007

I work in a library. I love Goodreads. I love it when I read a friend’s review on Goodreads, then walk over to a shelf and now have the same book in my hands. That’s pretty powerful stuff, right there.

So now I have The Namesake in my hot little hands, and will begin reading it right after I finish The Pleasure of My Company. The Namesake was suggested to me by E, and The Pleasure of My Company (which I can only refer to as You Enjoy Myself) was introduced to me by Keem, who brought it up as a fine example of Steve Martin’s humor.

This is literary instant gratification. The instant novel’s gonna get you.

Turkey Day

Friday, November 16th, 2007

As a children’s librarian, I am obligated to celebrate the major holidays. For storytime today, I chose the rite-of-passage craft of making hand-turkeys. I’m sure I don’t even need to explain what they are, for everyone knows.

I’ll show you anyway, because it’s so quintessentially American:
Hand turkey

I’m not a big theme-girl, so I’ve never tried to craft a storytime theme all about bears, or about flowers, or whatever. Today, though, I felt the need to present a Thanksgiving-related series of stories. As I crouched near the Thanksgiving books, looking for age-appropriate stories, I realized that at least half of the stories were about turkeys. In every single book, the point of the story was that the assumption would be that the turkey would be eaten, and in the end, it would not. I don’t know if this is a common theme because it’s an early lesson in plot twists, or because secretly all children’s authors are vegetarian.

I could have easily made the theme of this week’s storytime “Where Meat Comes From”, and open the eyes of those three-year-olds who don’t realize that turkey is made out of turkeys. I chose not to. That’s not my fight. Not this time.

Still high

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I’m still glowing over yesterday’s storytime. I’ve vowed to buy a personal copy of The Lorax, so I can have it at the ready.

As I was biking to work this morning, I was remembering how awesome it was to throw together an opportunity, a solid story, and a really important lesson and make librarical magic. I was thinking about how great it would be if I could perform stories like this at a moment’s notice, maybe with a few finger puppets I keep in my bag, or a series of tattoos.

Then I remembered Richard’s idea of StoryMob. During our storytelling class in grad school, we had just finished a round of really stellar stories (and we were kind of high, like the children’s high I’m still on) and Richard had the idea of going out to the quad (open area at the University of Illinois) and running up to a group of lounging undergrads and telling them a story or two. The idea morphed into a guerrilla story performance crew.

I think at that point we went out for beers, and the idea was made into a Facebook group. It lingers there, and I know the UIllinois crew is working on it, but I’m wondering what I can do from here. Perhaps we need a site where we can submit stories, be they written, audio, or video. I’d totally record video of me accosting a group of children and making them happy. Maybe old people too.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Madeleine L’Engle is dead, long live Madeleine L’Engle.

She introduced me to tessering tessering in A Wrinkle in Time, and provided me with a quote that lived on my wall in high school and college. (Frustratingly, I can’t remember it, nor can I find it in the Interslice.)

Last night, Jason and I drove to Boston, and on the way, I read aloud the first two chapters of WiT. The consensus was that Charles Wallace, in all his infinite wisdom, is a little annoying. Still, the book holds great re-reading value, and we both enjoyed it.

Welcome back

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Yesterday was the first day of school for most of the area. It was nice to have the routine of only little kids coming in to my domain during the day, and a concentration of school-age kids after 3. I noted that of all the kids who came in, every single seventh grader announced to me that they were now in seventh grade. I thought that was pretty funny.

As much fun as summer vacation was, I’m glad to have some quiet time to catch up. I’m in the process of ordering some new toys and furniture for the kids room. We have a crate of donated toys, and plush things are really hard to keep clean. I’m looking for some fun stuff that would also make it though a dishwasher cycle.

Best idea ever.

Friday, August 17th, 2007

I really want to use the song “The Salmon Dance” from the newest Chemical Brothers album … for storytime.

Put your hands to the side, as silly as it seems,
And shake your body like a salmon floatin’ up stream!

All my peeps spend part of their life in fresh water
And part of their life in salt water.

I mean, how great is that? I guess the part about spawning and dying isn’t real appropriate. Neither is
When I first did the Salmon all the people just laughed
They looked around and stood like I was on crack
I heard somebody say out loud what the fuck is that
This nigga’s dancin like a fish while he’s doin’ the snap
.

And that’s why I write the impulsive things I think on my blog, instead of trying them out on unsuspecting kids and parents.