Monday, August 31, 2015

Using Memes in Education: Library Orientation

This year, I decided to use memes in the freshmen orientation for two reasons: 1. kids can relate to these (since they use and make them all the time themselves) and 2. let students know the library is more than rules, guidelines, and shushing. It can be fun, imaginative, creative, and inviting. I did a test drive with our new teachers for new teacher orientation, and although it was unexpected, they thoroughly enjoyed it! :) Basically, it's all about relationships, and this is a fun way to do it. Most of the memes I created myself using SUPER easy!!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Trailer: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Used a great new tool ( and LOVE IT!  Free to use, but also inexpensive for a lifetime purchase. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

App Review: Making Book Trailers the Easy Way with this Amazing Trinity!

In this new BYOD world we live in, creating videos has never been easier.  You don't have to lug around a laptop can create stunning videos straight from your iPhone or iPad.

Two newer apps that have come on the scene and made things a LOT easier are both from Adobe and are amazing!  I'm not saying this flippantly..I love these two apps!  Admittedly, book trailers take time, but with these apps and an iPad students can start easily using their camera roll or online sources.  I'll break down both apps as well as give hints on making using these easier.

So here's a breakdown for both-

Adobe Voice:
-search photos on your camera roll OR through a CC image search built-in
- add music Adobe provides or use music from your iPad.
-record your voice to narrate a book trailer
-you can add titles and text between images for a more traditional trailer
-manage how long an image stays on the screen (up to 5 seconds)
-add icons
- from 32 themes that automatically add movement to your video
-save your project to work on at different times before you publish
-it has an option to make it private or public
-share via social media, email, or add it to your camera roll
-available only on iPad

Adobe Clip:
- add either clips or images from your camera roll.  This app doesn't have a CC search, so shooting videos will be the best option for this app.  You can search for CC images in Google and save them to your camera roll as the best option for images 
- has a built-in trimmer so you can customize your video clips or add slo-mo
-add individual text slides between clips or images
-add music from the library provided or from your stash on your ipad
-selection from three transitions: fade in from black, fade out to black, crossfade between clips
-has a built-in image enhancer with 30 different filters
- publish and share the video on social media or through Adobe Creative Cloud (there isn't a private button on this one)
-available on iPhone or iPad

-mash up these apps with different apps like Whiteboard or Paper 53 to add text or videos
-think of other places to get CC images or videos like Instagram, Facebook or Vine
- download Google Slides or Docs to create unique text slides
- use an app called Downloads Plus lite to download and use CC friendly music from Purple Planet

And now to play with Adobe Slate, the newest app that helps make reports, newletters and other text-based documents beautiful by adding photos into them.

Razorhurst by Justine Larbelestier

Allen & Unwin, 2014

Kelpie has been on her own for most of her life.  She has vague memories of her childhood, but the street life in Razorhust is her home.  She's been fortunate, getting help from people in the city...whether dead or alive.  Kelpie lives on the streets of Razorhurst, a  part of Sydney divided between two gangsters, their henchmen, and a beautiful moll.  And it's when Kelpie steals into a home she shouldn't have that her world completely changes.

Looking at the murder scene was rough enough, but now the ghost of  is following her.  What's more, Kelpie is being used as cover by Dymphna, who thought she was smart enough to leave gang life, or at least take over.  With the law prohibiting guns in Australia in the 1930s, everyone thought gang violence would wane, but razors came out, just as deadly.

Dymphna and Kelpie are polar opposites.  Called the "Angel of Death" because all of her boyfriends end up dead,  Dymphna is well taken care of by Gloriana Nelson, who considers her one of her most valuable assets.  Beautiful, well-coifed and dressed, Dymphna exudes glamour, although her path in life is far from glamorous.  Kelpie, on the other hand, is small, looking more like a child (although she's a teenager), fiercely (or perhaps ferally) independent, and hasn't known the inside of a bath tub in a long time.  And while they may be different, they share one very important thing in common-they both can hear and see ghosts...

They're now both on the lam.  Mr. Davidson, one gang leader, is stalking Dymphna, where his stalking has very serious undertones.  Gloriana is also searching for her, for reasons she doesn't have to explain.  And friends of Kelpie's are also following her, trying to make sure both she and Dymphna stay alive.  But is that possible in a cat and mouse game of the 1930s, where lawlessness abounds and innocent lives are considered a small loss in the pursuit of glory, power and control?

What makes this book such a standout is how Justine Larbelestier creates a dual-genred novel (both supernatural and historical fiction) that wraps itself around real history  and biographies of Australia and Australians in this book.  Readers will not only get caught up in the storyline but also begin to make connections and differences  between both the U.S. and Australia and how gangsters shaped the country.  Although this book is filled with male characters, both good and bad, it's the two females that create the strength in this novel.  Larbelestier uses the ghostly characters as a backdrop to further strength Kelpie's and Dymphna's character flaws and attraction.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one and consider it a strong historical fiction novel for YA. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction and Houdini in the Spirit World

Crown, 2015

The 1920's was an unforgettable era in the United States, and the biggest event to impact many lives was the end of World War I.  Millions of people died, millions of families grieved.  Not only were there big events, but big personalities as well.  One of the grandest and boldest of Americans at the time was Harry Houdini.  There were also new trends and beliefs that began to sprout, and Spiritualism was taking over the world.  Together these three combinations would make for a fascinating story....

Sir Conan Doyle, English author, became entrenched and entranced with Spiritualism when we lost his son to the war.  Through mediums, he was able to talk to his son beyond the grave through a seance.  This became a passion that Doyle brought to the United States, which created a furor and controversy and the validity of mediums and their powers.

While speaking to throngs of people in auditoriums, Doyle was able to convince many that communication with the dead was a different kind of science.  What you may not be able to see doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  With that in mind, a very reputable publication as well as scientists and professionals from Harvard, began to investigate mediums to see if they could discern between a true medium and a charlatan.  Along with the investigation, a $5000.00 award would be given to a medium who truly had the gift.  One of the many professionals on this team was Harry Houdini.

Harry Houdini was a master of deception.  Having worked his way beyond vaudeville, Harry learned and knew all the tricks of the trade and could easily spot them.  One event that bolstered Harry's goal to exposing medium frauds was the death of his beloved mother.  Even Harry wanted to be swayed to believe mediums could connect him to his dear mother, but in the end, he realized there were con artists on every corner waiting to make money from the grief of another.  This he couldn't tolerate.

With believers on one side, and naysayers on another, a medium entered into the fray claiming she was the true embodiment of a medium.  Unlike others, this beautiful woman, Margery, was the wife of a doctor and lived in a wealthy area of New England.  She didn't need the money and because of her status, many were disposed to believe her talents and story.  Why would a high society lady lie?What could be her motive?  And Margery truly had talent...but was it real or not?  A war was about to begin between Margery and Harry.  Who would ultimately win?

Steeped not only in an interesting era of history, the author creates a story centered around two people, with many other characters woven throughout to make this another piece of history not taught in most textbooks (it always seems like the best stories are left out!)  Written in narrative format, this book is enjoyable to read, and the images were peculiarly interesting.  An excellent additional to any YA non-fiction section, this could most certainly be paired with excellent YA fiction, including Libba Bray's The Diviners books.  Recommended.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Viking, 2015

Peyton and Syndey, brother and sister, couldn't be more different from each other.  They're separated by not only personality, but today,by tables of lawyers in a courtroom.  Peyton, the gregarious, daredevil, is being tried for a felony crime.  Sydney is quietly sitting beside her parents, hiding her feelings, being a good girl.

It's been that way for as long as Sydney can remember.  Even as children, Peyton stole the energy and light from the room.  Now, as a teen, Sydney is hidden even farther away from the family dynamic.  After Peyton's conviction, her mother is personally entrenched in Peyton's situation and being the supportive parent her son needs.  Sydney's father doesn't help; he's allowed her mom to make all major decisions and never speaks up.

But she isn't quite invisible.  Peyton's friend Ames, is willing to help out the family whenever they need him.  Again, Sydney hides the trepidation she feels around him because her mother trusts him implicitly. Whatever is best for Peyton.

And then there are the whispers and rumors starting at school.  With her life inundated with Peyton's problems, Peyton's reputation, and how to help Peyton, Sydney cut ties and enrolls in a public high school, where she hopes no one knows who her brother is.  And it's on that first week that a pizza joint will change her life....

Layla and Mac, brother and sister, couldn't be more different from each other.  Layla is the one with the effervescent personality and goes through life headfirst and headstrong.  Mac is the one who is the rock, balancing his sister and his family's business while studying as hard as he can with that glimmer of hope he'll be able to leave this town and pursue his dream.  Their mother is involved in their lives but with love and wisdom while their father runs their pizza place successfully. Layla and Mac enjoy spending time together.  Layla may not play in the band Mac is in, but she does show up to every show, creating that energy only she can create.

And one day at their family's pizza joint, their lives will change course with a chance meeting with one girl...

Two different families, two people who want to find themselves, and emotional ties with both friends and family will come together, a pressure cooker ready to explode...

Sarah Dessen, delivers with her newest young adult novel.  What makes this novel work so well is the depth she writes about concerning relationships on all levels, emotional and internal conflict, growing up, and personal dreams and goals.  This isn't a sugary sweet book for girls - this is real life, which can be ugly, dangerous, and poignant.  Dessen balances these traits of real life with honesty, trust, and convictions.  The reader gets to live in both households and see how the other half lives, which is the strength of this novel.  Full of opposites, it creates balance.  Oh, I have no qualms this book will blow off the shelves, never to return.  Better buy two copies!
HIGHLY recommended upper junior high/high school.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Social Media and the Library

City of Savages by Kelly Lee

Saga Press, 2015

Skyler and Phee are two sisters with very different personalities. Skyler is the quiet one, thinking things through while Phee jumps into a situation not thinking about the consequences of her actions. Right now, they, along with their mother, are on the move to what was once Central Park in order to stay safe through the winter.  It's not what any of them want, it's what they need in order to survive.

New York City, including the island of Manhattan where the girls and their mother live, have undergone changes because of World War III and the Red Army that took over.  While their mother may remember the time before WWIII, Sklyer and Phee only know the broken down streets, the savages lurking in dark corners, and Rolladin and her lords, who rule the decimated population at the POW camp once known as Central Park.

Rolladin rules with an iron fist, and those rules must be obeyed. When Phee, Skyler and their mother arrive late for the head count, they know they're in trouble. Those who don't make it are forced to try and survive outside the POW camp, where many have tried and failed.  But for some reason, Rolladin has a soft spot for the girls and instead of kicking them out, she allows them in with one condition...Phee must be part of the annual street fights in order to win their family a spot inside.  While Phee sees this as an opportunity, quiet Skyler sees the danger in it, understanding how manipulative Rolladin can be.

After playing her part, Phee, Skyler and their mother are able to move back into camp, but one fateful night will change their situation.  One chance meeting with outsiders and a conversation overheard will change the girls' world and future as they know it.  Instead of seeing themselves as safe, they now understand they are actually prisoners and are willing to risk the outside in order to flee, along with their mother and the two strangers, from the madness.

What they don't realize is that madness can be found anywhere, especially in a world that is trying to right itself and the struggle for power over what's left becomes the new battlefront.

Kelly Lee writes an amazing dystopian YA novel with a larger than life backdrop of a bombed out NYC and the different survivors dwelling there.  They say opposites attract, and Lee uses this through point of view alternating narratives between the sisters and how they see the same situation in completely different ways.  This is what creates the solidity of this novel.  The characters are real, the history is real, and those in the background create a stark reality.  This is what I've been waiting for....a great, believable dystopian novel with a fast pace and abrupt surprises.  Another strong  point of this book, are the adult characters in it. While the two main characters are teenagers, Lee uses the adults to juxtapose the newer and older generations involved in the ultimate fight for power. While the two sisters are strong together, it's the adults helping them create and hone their strenghts while trying to survive the  fierce competition  for power. While the two sisters are strong together the adults help create and hone their streaks while trying to survive Recommended.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

2015, Balzer + Bray

Bone Gap is a small town where everyone knows each other on a first name basis.  It's also a small enough town where your personal life can become community property.  No one knows this better than Sean and Finn.  Living alone without any parents to help (and everyone knows how that happened), Sean works full time and looks after his younger brother who is still in high school.  Dreams were given up as well as the cameraderie brothers had.  Finn knows this only too well, but can do nothing about it.  He misses his older brother even though they're in the same room and when Roza left, the gap became larger in the brothers' relationship.

Roza came to Bone Gap quite unexpectedly.  Born and raised in Poland, she left her home country for the opportunity to be in America, but what she saw and experienced were darker and bleaker than she imagined.  Sean found Roza and gave her time to find herself again.  While others were struck by her beauty, Sean gazed at her beyond the beauty and began to fall in love with the woman.  No one had ever done that before.  In turn, Roza helps Sean and Finn find the bindings that loosened between them and she also became part of the family...until the day she disappeared.  Finn saw it happen, but there are gaps to what he saw.  He couldn't tell you what the man who took her looked like and wouldn't even be able to recognize him in a line-up because Finn is unable to recognize faces.

Petey likes to live in the solitary gaps she finds.  People talk about her, know her story, but do they really?  She's the pretty girl with an ugly face and the honeybees she helps tend with her mother allows her to take cover from what everyone says about her...until one night when Finn arrives at her house on a dark horse.  They go on the most magical ride, falling into the gaps between the world they live in and the other world that exists between.  The more Petey and Finn spend time together, the more their gaps are filled with much-needed love and acceptance.

The man took Roza because she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.  He told her he would never hurt her until she came to love him.  He offers her the finest things in beautiful places, but whatever the facade may be, it is still a prison.  He also knows Finn is searching for Roza and is working to create a gap large enough where Roza will never be found.  Little does he know how resourceful, strong and patient his beautiful prize can be.

Told in alternating stories between Finn (for the most part) and Roza, the reader is immersed into a  beautiful story of reality and fantasy.  Roza's world is fantastical and horrible at the same time while Finn lives in the real world that is becoming more beautiful every day.  Ruby's writing flows with emotion and beauty, taking the reader beyond the pages to the heart of the book - one about the importance of relationships.  It's been awhile since I last cried while reading a book, and this one I couldn't help myself.  It wasn't out of sadness, but out of the beauty and deep strong characters Laura Ruby crafts in this novel.  Magical realism at it's best in this book.  Highly recommended.

Other magical realism book pairs:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Let's Do Some Summer Reading!

Usually, #readYAlit doesn't have summer chats, but this year, we are!  This is the brainchild of Diane Mankowski, an Illinois school librarian and Dayna Hart from British Columbia and myself will be sharing and helping as well :)  So come be a part of this!!

Monday, June 1, 2015

10 Ways Librarians Can Rage Against Conformity

Dylan Thomas had it right:
     "Do not go gentle into that good night...Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Okay, maybe rage isn't the exact word I'd use for librarians.  But the theme of this poem is exactly what I'd use for librarians.  It's amazing how fast libraries and our profession has altered in the last 10 years.  I remember having a card catalog still available in the school where I started my first job as librarian. (and no, it wasn't in the sixties or seventies either...more like the late 90's).

What Thomas is conveying in the poem is to never give up, never stop fighting the good fight, always move forward and onward despite difficult times.  With this rushing tide of change we are part of, when it comes to libraries and our roles in them, this is a theme we must adopt.  But it doesn't always mean you have to be on the frontline taking it all in at once. 

Moving forward doesn't have a speed limit as long as it continues to go forward.  Some librarians have moved quickly and embraced change while others are more tentative, waiting to see how things work, what is going to happen and then act on it. Collectively, we become that tide with change following in our wake.

Last night I was in an exceptional Twitter chat with Angela Maiers where the topic was "#youmatter. When was the last time someone said that to you?  When was the last time you said that to someone? So, I'm here to say you DO matter!  Not only do you matter, but what you do matters too.  Librarians shouldn't be pigeon-holed to a stereotype that keeps perpetuating and the further our profession moves forward, the more we will be valued for what we are today.  There should be no excuses, no reasons to not want to be professionally fierce.

And not wanting to change are the difficulties we must rage against, and they are our most powerful enemy. It's time to fight AGAINST dark days and be a part of the battalion who want better than what once was.  It's about goals we can make and do our best to fulfill; making and committing to a change (small or large) to make yourself part of the fast-paced change our profession now demands.

Oh, I'm not saying anyone should spend their entire summer working, but we all know that educators take their work with them even when summer break is happening.  Asking the "what if..." question and then pursuing it can make all the difference (and that's another poem by Frost for another day :)

Here are a few ideas:

1. Look at your procedures and tweak them to allow more fluidity.  It's not about the "stuff" but about the positive relationships you can create.

2. Take a web tool you've never used before and teach yourself through Youtube videos, tutorials on the website, or by Googling how to use it.  Make a goal to incorporate this into your library or teach it to a class.

3. Network.  More than that, bring in a positive perspective and shy away from those who network and bring complaints.  Even if you don't like something, find that one thing that made it good.

4. Read books.  Lots and lots of books (or as many as you possibly can).  Now take them and share them with your campus however you'd like.

5. Create an orientation presentation for students or new teachers. Delete the facts from the slides (because you're going to tell them) and adapt it to capture attention, not be read.

6. Attend a workshop and make it your goal to accomplish it during the school year, not one you just attended for summer credit.

7. Let someone or more than one know they matter and why.

8. Volunteer to be part of staff development.  It can be a variety of ways from offering equipment, helping with information, presenting, creating ideas.  The more involved you are, the more you'll be seen as part of the team.

9. Look at the library spaces and see what could be a possibility to accommodate students or classes. Think about everyone's needs, not just a specific audience.  Kids aren't quiet by does this impact the library? How can it be changed?

10. Challenge yourself to be available.  Not just behind the circulation desk or your office, but on the floor, in the halls, at events and functions.

Now let's make some waves!~~