Monday, September 18, 2017

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

2017, Crown Books for Young Readers

The Tower of Babel was created to reach the sky and it could only do something like this because mankind spoke the same language....

In the world of tomorrow, a new world, Genesis 11, has been found that is compatible to earth.  But what used to take years to get there, it only takes months now, thanks to the Babel Corporation.  And Babel has also found a highly lucrative mineral with endless possibilities.  Nyxia, a black substance, is an object that can be manipulated by your mind to create whatever you'd like, from a translator to a bullet-proof wall.

Emmett Atwater can't believe he was chosen.  Not only will he get to go to a new planet, Emmett also has added benefits, including his family and himself being taken care of for life. Coming from a struggling family and a mother who is slowly dying, Emmett does it out of love.  And he boards the ship.

When he boards the ship created and equipped with highly trained Babel Corporation staff, he finds out he's not the only one who has been selected.  There are nine others including Longwei, a highly competitive person; Jazzy, a girl from Georgia; and Azima, a strong girl from Africa and one of the last of her nomadic tribe.  They will be trained to work and survive on Genesis 11 as they mine nyxia during the duration of the space travel.  All ten are put through rigourous tests, including mind and body.  And they are also vying for position...only a few will make it to the finals.  The rest who don't will have most benefits taken away and sent back to earth.

For Emmett, this isn't an option.  He knows he has to make it or his mother will die.  But each member of the group of ten have their own personal reasons to make it as well.  But not all of them will, and some won't even survive the trip....

Another thing they don't know are the secrets the Babel Corporation is hiding from them.  There is a problem with nyxia, one with deadly outcomes.  On top of that are the inhabitants of the planet aren't friendly to outsiders.  But Babel has plans....

And like the story, the tower will topple and create chaos...

This novel is PACKED with action, suspense, and mystery to compel readers to find out what will happen next.  The reader is fortunate to become an outside observer of all the difficult training happening, as well as the mindsets and secret partnerships that are happening behind each other's backs.  The characters have very different personalities, leaving the reader wondering if what they're seeing is the truth or a cover.  Reading this is like taking a roller coaster ride where you never know if the seat belt is secure or not.  AMAZING science fiction read for all secondary JH/HS.  Highly recommended!  A plus?  It's a series!!!  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Five Ways to Step Up your Advocacy Game

I added the hyperlink where you can buy this...
I do NOT profit from it at all...just thought I'd share it :)

As librarians, we know the importance and impact the library and librarian make to our campuses and districts.  Librarians have always made headway into innovation and we need to make sure this also includes how we share what the library does through advocacy efforts aimed at decision-makers for our campuses and districts.  Here are five small ways we can show librarians and libraries do have an impact.  Best of all, it won't cost you anything but a little time and effort:

1. Change the library environment:  This won't cost any money whatsoever.  Librarians new to their positions or in a new library usually do this, but you shouldn't over look the library you may have been serving.  It's a simple context with a lot of sweat equity.  Sometimes we have so much to do we often overlook how the library design can be REIMAGINED simply by moving things around and creating new spaces.  What better way to capture your campus's attention than to rearrange furniture into different learning commons?  If you have the money, add elements like large screen collaboration stations, a Lego wall etc...Freshen it up, add some dimension, watch what happens next

2. Harness the power of social media:  I love my library PLNs...they show, teach and amaze me everyday.  But I have also noticed that the PLNs I am a part of can be insular.  We need to get outside of our online comfort zones to make a larger impact.  Use your social media to make sure your voice, ideas, impact can be showcased to those decision-makers.  Use hashtags that administrators on Twitter use and become part of the conversation that way.  Create a campus-based social media account such as Instagram so not only students and teachers can see what you're snapping photos of, but admin can too.  Be engaged in district-wide Twitter chats and let the library's voice be heard virtually.

3. Send out monthly newsletter to your campus touting the amazing things the library does and can do to your campus.  Focus your information on highlighting to important parts of the library and use your stats to help.  Include images from your social media accounts (and hyperlink them).  Showcase students interacting in the library with each other, their classes or alone.  Already do this?  How about taking it up a notch and sending this monthly to your district superintendent, curriculum coordinators, technology director or curriculum and instruction director? Don't keep it contained....let this information loose every single time you share it with your campus.  It may not be read, that's true.  What's even more true is that is just might....

4. Harness new and interesting ways to share the successes you and the library have had with (mostly) free webtools.  Turn that paper state of the library report into an infographic.  Then step up that infographic into a video using tools like Biteable.  Use Flipgrid to capture students, teachers and administrators giving video testimonies on how the library has helped them and share this with other librarians and decision-makers.  Nothing speaks louder than a student's voice, and this webtool can definitely help.  Kick it up by doing this monthly from different angles (a teacher's Flipgrid, your book club, a classroom etc).  How about creating a monthly Quizzizz for fun to engage your email recipients with what the library does?  Sharing can be as fun as you'd like, so try out new approaches.

5. Nothing is more loud and clear than your approach.  Be available, be approachable, leave your door open, show people you want to create a relationship with them.  Too often, our administrators see us as checking in and out books...MOVE to another area, DO something different, and SPEAK with your words and actions to prove that isn't the case.  It's easy to get caught in the trap of our office or circulation desk.  The hardest thing you could do is unglue yourself from the areas your feel most comfortable in (even if it's for an hour a day) to be seen differently.  They say it takes 30 days to create a new habit....test out this theory and see if it makes a difference.  It won't cost a thing....

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Sourcebooks Fire, August 2017

Sal's life is one of stealth and swiftness.  After a war that ruined the lands and completely annihilated Nacea and its people...his people, he had to resort to thievery in order to survive.  But one fateful encounter with a lady will change his path from one of stealing goods to one of stealing lives for revenge....

The queen now rules over the lands and has put an end to dark runes and magic.  But her reign is in  time of shifting and danger, where she must be protected at all costs.  To ensure the safety of the queen four Hands, or assassins are assigned to her:  Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal.  But when one of the hands die, an audition opens to replace this position.  Twenty-three people come forward to audition, from noblemen to thieves, including Sal and his thirst for vengeance of those nobles who killed his people.

But realization begins to dawn when the rules of the audition are explained.  Only one will survive and that person will become Opal.  Everyone who auditions will have the opportunity to kill or be killed.  It's a fight to the death and one Sal intends to win.

As the deadly audition begins, trickery and conniving create a cat and mouse game that slowly decimates the twenty-three to three...but who will win and become the new Hand?  And are the liaisons people they can trust or not?

Miller weaves a tale that will enthrall fantasy readers.  Although the book does contain violent episodes, it also contains elements of castles, magic, truth and romance.  Miller adeptly creates a world where even those you think are safe aren't, and those that are evil don't succumb to good. In the events that surround Sal and those he must fight against, lies a small but very unique part of the main character's life.  She introduces the reader to a gender fluid character, but like those assassins and auditioners in this book, she introduces him subtly and without fanfare, making this topic understated instead of in your face. For the more mature fantasy reader, the novel has hints of GoT readers will find and the story will have them begging for the next installment.  Highly recommended.  HS

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Copyright and the Classroom

This was a presentation I created for professional development for teachers.  It's something they really need to understand before school starts, so feel free to use it to teach the importance of copyright, fair use and Creative Commons.  This was created after reading Renee Hobbs's book, Copyright Clarity, a MUST READ for all educators, administrators and librarians!! Click below to get to the PDF of this presentation

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Young Adult Literature Resources and Booklist

Had an amazing day with librarians throughout the Dallas area!!  Here is the presentation I did for the Summit :)

Enjoy and start reading some great books TODAY!! :)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Smashing Research: Engaging Students and the Research Project

I and my friend, Sue Fitzgerald, had the honor of being chosen to present at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago this year.  When she and I talked about our topic, we thought it would be relevant to not only talk about the importance of research, but also how to make it more engaging and student-owned.  Here is the presentation (which I can't believe I forgot to add!!)
It contains ideas for:
Project-based learning
Smashing apps to create a digital research project
TON of websites
Unique ways to combine sites for projects
Examples of excellent student proejcts

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Five Important Things For the New School Year

Happy new school year!!  The gears are starting to turn and school openings are around the corner.  School campuses are caught up in a whirlwind of professional development, campus training, and many other things that will pull them from what they want to be doing - working in the library.  If you only get one day to do this, here are some things to keep in mind and keep your mind from whirling.

1 Everyone has that to-do list for the beginning of the school year.  There are some pretty important things on that list, but take a second look.  What are some of those things you can wait on?  Sometimes lists can be an overload and focusing on completing all of them isn't productive.  Instead of the frenzy of getting things done, look over and think what should come first


2. You can't do it all yourself (although we try!).  Being a librarian is being part of a collaborative environment.  Asking others for help and asking others to help are two very different but important activities we should do on a daily basis.  Be it your admin team, campus departments or even people outside your library walls (other librarians, consultants, virtual PLN) make a call or write an email. It will make a difference.


3. Learn a new tool this year.  Try something you've never tried before and work it into your presentations and curriculum with students.  There are a ton of great new tools out there from collaborative videos (Flipgrid) to curation (Follett Destiny Collections) to new Google tools (try Blocks) and so many more.  Look at ways you can use them, but more importantly, how your campus can use them.


4. The best libraries are one that are open and ready for anyone.  Look at your spaces and start defining them.  Creating a successful learning commons takes time, but with a little ingenuity, you can create one area that is different from what was there last year.  A table, some interesting bins of low tech makerspace, a 3-D printer, whiteboard paint, signage can all help create a feeling that there's something new and different.


5. Read.  That's pretty simple, right? the world of librarianism, it's easier said than done.
 Prfoessional needs of your own and others will play right into reading time.  Educators and librarians know reading makes an impact (It's the "R" in STREAM) so make sure you have time to read and share that love and excitement.  There's nothing like the feeling of changing even one student from a non-reader to a reader.


Friday, July 28, 2017

#NTXLibCamp Resources

Three years ago, a group of librarians in North Texas decided to create the first ever libcamp in our area.  From the beginning it has grown every year and this was no exception.  There were librarians from the area, but also librarians from Austin, Houston and El Paso who attended.  PLUS teachers were encouraged to come and we have several in the crowd as well.

But the most important takeaway from LibCamp was the mass of information wealth librarians across all grade levels, expertise, years of service and awesomeness contributed toward to make this such a great professional development experience!  

And if you have something that amazing, it needs to be shared.  A google doc of the event was archived for anyone who came to have access to, but I thought it was valuable enough to share it with everyone.  Please use/read/glean from it what you can to use at your school or share with your own personal PLN.  That's the beauty of's an amazing thing!  

Here's the link to the Google Doc from NTXLibcamp 17

Also, if you'd like to see them in Twitter format, search the #ntxlibcamp hashtag to catch a quick glimpse of the highlights :)

SUPER great before school starts!! :)  Have a Happy New (School) Year 2017-18!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Flatiron Books, 2017

Scarlett Dragna has been wanting to go to Caraval since she was ten.  Every year, she wrote a letter begging them to come to her tiny island so she and her sister can be enveloped in the mystery and magic that Caraval holds.  But there is no response....
And life goes on.  Scarlett and Tella have grown into young ladies under the cruel and watchful eyes of their governor father, who is heavy with his hand and empty with his heart.  Escape is something both girls want, but there is no way out.  Their father will hunt them down and the repercussions will be swift and hard.
But one day changes that...

Scarlett finally receives an invitation from Legend, the man who created Caraval.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience but it couldn't come at a worse time.  Scarlett is set to make a Duke (even though they haven't met) and will leave the island and be able to shelter her sister from the horrors of their daily life.  Go or stay?

On the day she receives her invitation, circumstances force to her to go to Caraval before time runs out.  Tella and Julian, both accomplices in abducting the staid Scarlett, go to the island where the sisters are separated.  All three make it to Caraval in time, and it's as magical as Scarlett thinks...but also more dangerous than she does. When she enters into Caraval, little does she know what she is getting into.  Thoughtful, staid, practical Scarlett quickly finds herself in conflict with not only her surroundings, but also the relationships she has with both her sister and the enigmatic Julian.
People aren't what they seem....don't always believe what you see...Caraval is as beautiful as it is dark.

Garber writes magic into this book not only through the plot but also with the beauty of her writing and words she chooses.  This book paints a vivid picture not only of the characters' real lives, but also the fantasy world people wish to get lost in.  Scarlett is a sharp contrast to the other characters, which adds to the depth of the relationships found in this novel and it reads quickly.  The story behind Caraval is enchanting and Garber instantly grabs the readers attention with her unique use of letters at the beginning of this novel.  Readers will be as captivated with Caraval as the characters.  This is the type of fantasy book I've been waiting for!!  Recommended for upper junior high and high school

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Growing Strong Librarians

I was asked to present a short presentation for new library directors on what librarians want from there perspective. I thought about the library directors/leaders I admire and why it was I did admire them so much. These are the attributes I came up with that I could find in all of those library leaders I look up to.