Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My List of Top Ten YA Books of 2015


It's been a great year for YA books!  This year, I accomplished my goal of reading 50 books in different formats (I'm really enjoying the wonder of e-books) and among that list is the cream of the crop titles I absolutely got lost in.  These titles are a mix of fiction and non-fiction, graphic novel and short stories and everything in between.  These aren't in any particular rank or order (other than alphabetical), as all of these books were absolutely amazing!  There are more than ten I could absolutely put on this list, but I took my time and really thought about the titles I chose and why.  So walk with me through my top 10 best of the best book for teens....

1. All The Rage by Courtney Summers
What struck me about this book is the powerful theme it contains.  Romy, the main character, faces the most intense hardships of high school - bullying, isolation, and being taken advantage of against her will.  These take Romy to the brink of a breakdown but her strength, family and the few she can trust help her not only deal with what she went through, but also makes her realize her own self-worth.

2. All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder
When I can read in a book in one setting, I know it's a book that should be on this list.  Emerson knows she has less than 48 hours to live - not due to illness, but to a meteor bearing down on the U.S. This novel shows how not only what happens to her, but others who decide to live the rest of their lives by fulfilling lifelong dreams, falling in love, and granting forgiveness.  What grabbed me are the different threads of lives Schroeder writes about that begin to interweave in unusual ways leading to a beautiful ending.

3. The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
This is one of those books that people either loved or not and that's why it made my list.  Brooks' novel evokes powerful emotions from readers and what ultimately happens to the group of people who are victims of circumstance in this superbly suspenseful book.  Another reason why I put this book on the list is that the ending is so climactic and unexpected, most of the teens I know who've read it can't wrap their minds around the ending of it all.

4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Fantasy fiction has become (or still is) a popular genre, and while so many I've read recently take place in another time and world, this book doesn't. Rowell writes an urban fantasy with quirky characters and villains in today's world where wizards co-exists with Normals.  VERY reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, Rowell brings back the magical fun the characters and the school creates that makes it such a refreshing read.  It's all about relationships first, conflict second and the ability to combine lighthearted reading with some dark places the readers get to explore.

5. Drowned City by Don Brown
Brown brings back into the spotlight the horrors, mistakes and redemptive circumstances that created the disaster of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.  This book tells the story not only through words but the powerful images depicted on the pages, allowing those to not only read it, but truly look at what happened and allow it to resonate in them.  This is one of the best graphic novels I've read not only because it brings an important event up in teens lives, but also because although it's a quick read, it stays there long after the last page is turned.

6. Hitler's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly
There are a few titles from O'Reilly's Killing series that have been adapted for young adults, and when there is, they become an important part of a YA collection because of the hidden history behind the event and person.  This is about Hitler, but also about World War II and how his decisions led to the ultimate downfall of one of the most evil people in history.  O'Reilly writes without any political motive, which makes this a book for all readers.  You may not like the author, but try not to transfer bias to a great YA non-fiction book.

7. Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler
Follow five teens as they enter high school and begin their four year tour. Any teen will be able to find a character to identify with, whether it be the most popular girl in school or the geekiest kid to enter high school.  Not only do you get to see how they change physically (case in point: freshmen year class picture to senior year) but also the relationships and conflicts that begin to create the person they are.  Its' definitely a St. Elmo's Fire meets The Breakfast Club kind of book you'll fall into.

8. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
It's not the flashy Marvel or DC graphic novel, but it's definitely a contender in attracting readers' attention through the clever use of dialogue and character.  Stevenson creates a meld of genres in this book.  She mixes a little fantasy with a bit of science fiction and adds a touch of historical fiction to create a fabulous graphic novel about friendships and enemies that holds a deeper meaning in what it means to be a true confidante and mentor.  I chuckled all the way through this book through Stevenson's dry and witty humor between the characters, especially Nimona and her unique talents.

9. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
There have been books that have made me shed a tear or two because of it's emotional impact, but this one jerked them right out of me because of its plot of love and loss.  Blending difficult days spent behind bars with a love story with the beauty of  adoption and foster care, Schmidt creates a character that has the weight of the world on his shoulders as well as the promise of new beginnings.  This isn't a book with lots of pages (in fact, it won't take hardly any time to read) but it makes up for it through the large emotional reach it'll have once the last page is turned.

10. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April G. Tucholke
This short story collection has the best YA authors that have written stories that are truly from the dark side.  This is horror at its best because it comes in small or large doses, depending on how much the reader can handle.  This isn't for those who get nightmares from reading YA horror and supernatural, but will definitely delight those who enjoy walking on the side tainted by dark evil and revenge.

And one to grow on....

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This is a slice of science fiction that takes place completely in outer space. There aren't a hundred characters, planets and ships to keep track of.  One plot, one (or two) huge conflicts, and two main characters makes this book readable and enjoyable for those  who can't manage to keep track of too much.  The authors write the story through transcripts, text messages, secret documents and  file and this is what makes it a standout.  While reading this, I saw it as a movie in my mind...excellent sign of a great YA read!!

Now, bring on 2016!!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ten Ways Teacher Librarians Are Being Watched...and what you should do about it!

Ten Ways Teacher Librarians Are Being Watched

The big question school librarians need to ask themselves is, "What am I doing to drive students and teachers toward the library?"   

If your campus sees you reading, what are you doing with it? 

Tell them how you plan to share books with students. Create interactions between students and authors (in person, Skype, book festivals, comic cons).  Send out weekly book reviews via email, or get on your school television to play book trailers.  We always put out signs that say "Get Caught Reading."  We should also get caught.  Being a role model and getting excited about reading can only lead to more readers.

If your campus sees you on your computer, what are you creating or learning?

How do you share what you've learned with everyone? Email, infographics, word of mouth, posters…be creative!  Send out links to new tools you've used and let your campus know you're there to help them integrate it.  Use your technology in the library and halls by creating posters or anchor charts to help students as well as show off your mad skills

If your campus sees you behind the circ desk what services are you providing? 

Show them how you connect with people to create a user-friendly library. We are a customer-based service and they should always come first.  Make sure you always have a smile on your face no matter what.  Look at your signage and get rid of negative aspects and re-word them.  Give great eye contact instead of looking at your screen while they tell you what they need.  Patrons should ALWAYS come first.

If your campus sees you in the library, what are you doing with the space? 

Space is visual and shows people who the library reaches beyond just books and reading.  Makerspaces, learning commons, communal spaces, study areas are just a few.  Dress up the walls and shelves not only with books, but also with students projects.  And never let your displays go stale.  Change them up at least every month.  Students will notice...

If your campus doesn’t see you, where are you going? 

What types of professional development are you going to and how have you implemented it into the library?  Bring back ideas and implement them rather that tell everyone what a great conference it was.  Create an online resume to not only show what you've attended but what you've taught as well.  Professional development is two-sided, so make sure people know you're a teacher who CAN teach as well as a students who wants to learn.

If your campus sees you with a class what are you teaching? 

Work with teachers to create a collaboration of teaching, not a substitution for the teacher.  Together, create lessons on project based learning using technology, research, imagination.  Show off your skills by teaching new tools, talking about research in the 21st century...but most of all, be adaptable to ANY class, whether it's English lit or physics.  

If your campus sees you in the halls, why are you out of the library? 

Interacting with students and teachers outside of the library creates deeper relationships (and it makes them wonder why you’re “out of bounds”.) Be a mystery with a purpose.  Go talk to those teachers that never use the library and invite them in.  Ask questions about them both personally and professionally.  And don't be afraid to tell them about yourself both ways as well.  Bring handouts or bookmarks to give out during your walks to share library information and love.

If you campus sees you in a meeting, how are you involved? 

Being part of a team is the builder of great libraries and programs.  From leadership to PLC to virtual PLNs, get involved!  You are the voice of the library, one of those nebulous parts of the campus that doesn't have a department and only usually has one professional.  Make your voice count by showing how libraries can impact academics.

If your campus sees you online, what sites are they looking at? 

Make your online presence strong through the information you provide and accessibility to the sites you create or are a part of. Create a dynamic library website or use social media to show how the library can make a difference in students’ and teachers’ lives.  Take it from vitual to physical by creating bulletin boards centered around your social media.  Print out those tweets, posts and images and share them.

If your campus sees you between the stacks, what are you working on?

Reading is just part of what we do.  Displays, pulling books for resources, shelf talking are things that only happen between the stacks, and it’s an important space to invade regularly. Oftentimes students "hide out" in the stacks, perhaps to find a book, perhaps to hide.  Bring in your device and show them how they can find a book, download an e-book or follow your virtual bookshelf.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bookface NHS Style

I did this project a couple of years ago and decided it's once again time to do bookfaces with newer titles.  So here they are (most of the are new..some are just classics)!

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys: A Bloody Good Read!

Penguin, 2015

Let me begin by saying if you LOVE horror fiction, you MUST pick up this amazing story collection!  Written by some well-known YA authors (think Carrie Ryan and Jonathan Maberry to name a few), the stories compiled with make you cringe while you keep reading story after story to see what terror the next tale holds.

April Genevieve Tucholke put together an amazing compilation with the idea of writing a new story from classic ones not only from books, but also from movies and television as well.  Each author, at the end of their dark tale, lets the readers know what inspired them to create their short story.

But it's the short stories which are downright horror(ibly) amazing.  There are fourteen short stories altogether, but here's a quick rundown of my favorites:

The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma: Three girls, all friends, think they know about the creepy guy who lives next door. Leonard may have the neighborhood fooled with his kindness and baked goods, but the girls get creeped out every time he looks at them.  And one night, Leonard brings a beautiful girl home and Tasha, Katie-Marie and Paisley see him sneak her in but they never see her again, except a few times through windows.  Something's not right, and they're about to find out how not right the situation becomes...

In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan: Cassidy has seen him in the forest since she was seven years old.  It all began when she discovered a most beautiful spot in the woods with a table in the clearing.  Perfect for tea parties!  But she felt someone watching her and out stepped the March Hare, the size of a man, dressed like a man, but not a man at all.  She knew he was watching her, but was it for good or evil?  Now at seventeen, she goes back to the woods but it's not longer tea she brings with her.  Cassidy thought the horrible tea party she became a part of was in the past, but then she sees the shadow of the March Hare again...

Sleepless by Jay Kristoff: Justin is in love, even though he's never met her.  He doesn't even know her real name, just her online one: 2muchcoff33_girl.  Neither of them sleep very well and their online conversations go from cameraderie to flirting to beginning to actually want to meet each other.  Of course, there are barriers Justin will have to overcome, like his overprotective mother, who constantly reminds him of how evil girls are.  But it doesn't matter.  He knows she was fated for him.  He's taken his time wooing his last three girl friends, even if the relationships didn't work out, and he's willing to try again  with 2muchcoff33_girl because he knows she's different and they'll work things out....

Stitches by A.G. Howard: Sage, Clover and Oakley lost their Ma, the gentle one.  Now all they're left with is Pa, who drinks to much, disappears too long, and hits too hard.  They live in the middle of nowhere with very little but themselves until they meet The Collector and he changes their world.  Pa got in trouble in town and The Collector came to help.  He wants to make Pa a better person, and for each visit he makes to the house, the children begin to see a definite difference in Pa.  He's kinder, gentler, not prone to drink.  But when Clover finally finds out the horrible truth about why, she's intent on revenge and goes to seek The Collector to exact it...

A summary of this story collection is best summed up by April Genevieve Tucholke's dedication,

                                        "For everyone who read Stephen King
                                         when they were way too young."

Recommended upper HS and beyond

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Top 10 (plus one) Non-Fiction Titles Teens Will Scoop Up

Non-fiction titles can be a scary place for teens to venture into.  They think most non-fiction titles are boring compared to fiction titles, where they can live vicariously through the characters and plot.  

But who’s to say you can’t do that with a great non-fiction title?  

One thing all of these titles share (besides the fact they are non-fiction) is that they are also pieces of history or social issues textbooks don’t write about. 

Some have lots of texts, others have very few.  Some are graphic novels, others are narrative non-fiction.  Whatever they choose, all of these are full of illustrations and photographs, which is the draw that pulls teens to non-fiction.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

2015, G.P. Putnam's Sons

Ash is laying on the table, ready for another tattoo.  Rhys, her twin brother, can't stay beside her because he can't stand the pain or the sight of blood.  But their mother is there, putting another protection mark on her daughter...

Ash has seen the dead girl for quite awhile now. Although this frightens her, what's even more disturbing is how both she and the dead girl look alike.  No one else can see the dead girl, and now the sightings are becoming more frequent, even with the protection symbols on her body.

Ash and Rhys's mother spends most of her time upstairs in her workroom creating unusual and exotic perfumes to sell.  She also has quirky habits and tells the twins stories about a small town called Quivira and how she and their father were chosen to walk the corn in honor of Katia, who is an eternal being guarding the townspeople from being killed by Coronado, another eternal being who killed Katia's only daughter.  Ash and Rhys scoff at these stories and believe they sound more like a cult following than a quaint town.

Ash is prone to blackouts when she sees the dead girl and after having one, she rushes home knowing something is wrong.  Once she gets to their apartment, she and Rhys open her mother's workroom to find it filled with black crows, a dark omen, and the absence of their mother.

Ash has a gut feeling her mother is in danger and decides to drive to Kansas to find Quivira and bring her mother back.  Rhys is more reluctant, thinking they're driving into a dangerous cult and although he tries to dissuade her, it doesn't happen.  When they get to the point on the map where the town should be, they find themselves surrounded by corn fields with no town in sight.  Now they must walk the corn...

Kim Liggett has crafted a fantasy horror novel that takes the reader into two very different worlds - one we all know and understand, and the other a place that's more reminiscent of the 1800s and completely set apart from all humanity.  Her novel is also one of opposites.  Families within Quivira, the twins, Ash and Dane, and even the eternal ones all create a divide where the reader isn't sure who is telling the truth and who is lying.  As the novel progresses, so do the characters and with this progression, all is revealed with a surprising twist.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Best of 2015 - Booklists for Young Adults

At the end of every year, booklists start coming out.  Many of them are booklists that have been created by organizations such as ALA and state associations.  These titles have been vetted, read, discussed, and selected based on literary merit as one of the main driving forces creating certain lists. 
Others are quite different in that they're created by users and readers.  They aren't part of a committee and are part of a voting poll or survey to see what they feel is the best of 2015. 
Regardless of type of booklist, they're out!  It's also interesting to see how many of the same titles can be found on each list.  So how many of them have you read? :)

Here's a list with link of many of those booklists:

Morris Award Finalists (debut YA authors)

YALSA's Best of the Best Top Ten lists (from six different lists)

Texas Library Association TAYSHAS list (best YA books 2016 list)

Texas Library Association Maverick list (best YA graphic novels 2016 list)

National Book Award Lists (excellence in YA poetry, fiction and non-fiction)

Publishers Weekly Best YA Books of 2015

School Library Journal YA Best Books of 2015

Goodreads Best YA Fiction (based on readers' votes)

Goodreads Best YA Fantasy and Science Fiction (based on readers' votes)

The Telegraph's Best YA Books of 2015

Amazon's Best Books of the Year (So Far 2015)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Alive by Scott Sigler

Random House, 2015

Em woke up panicking in the dark.  She doesn't know where she was, doesn't know who she is, doesn't know why she is here.  Frantic, she broke out of the coffin she was in to find even more coffins in the same room. 
Some survived, others didn’t.  Those who did survive have five things in common:   

The last thing thing remember is their age: 12 years old
They are all wearing the same uniform, now too short on their grown bodies
Today is their birthday
They only know their last name (because of a label on the caskets)
They are all branded with a unique circle on their foreheads.

Savage.  Spingate. Bello. O’Malley. Yong.  Aramovsky.

The survivors find their way out of the enclosed room they came from only to find themselves in another terrifying mystery.  Outside, there is death and complete destruction.  Nothing is alive as they look at their escape route – a long hallway to nowhere containing other halls and rooms filled with the same details as the one they escaped.  Only no one in those rooms survived.  Then begins their walk to find their way out. 

Questions and memories begin to start conversations.  They remember vague things like their parents, a particular food, or a talent they possess but have no idea how.  The biggest question looming is who could possibly want to bury them alive for years and try to keep them alive?  They have so many things in common, but commonality doesn’t always weave a perfect pattern.

Long hallways and five strangers begin to strain their tenuous hold with each other.  Who can they trust?  Who should they follow?  Which one is dangerous?  But more importantly, where can they find food and water? 

Scott Sigler knows how to grab readers’ attention and hang it by a thread.  The readers follow these survivors on their harrowing journey knowing only what they know.  There is no omniscient perspective allowing the reader to know more, which makes this book such a suspenseful thrill ride.  We are more like the tail end of the line, watching what happens next, and what the reader does see are the personalities of each survivor coming more into focus.  One is the leader, the other is the lieutenant; the others are followers, willing or not.  It’s not until the reveal that the reader finally understands what is happening and why survival is so important.  The first chapter will grab you, the next ones will keep you in the story.  And then BOOM….realization finally happens and you’ll race to the end to find out the final ending.  First in a trilogy. 
Recommended upper JH/HS

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Perfect Websites for Booklovers and The Geek Tribe!

We live it.  We love it.  We are passionate about it.  And just what exactly is "it?"  The library, of course!  But it's beyond that.  Beyond books, beyond technology, beyond the due date stamp.  When it comes to librarians and their passions, let's just say we can be a tough crowd to buy gifts for.  But FEAR NOT!  Here is a list of 10 websites YOU can use (or tell someone who needs to know this!) to warm the heart of the most curmedgeonly, geekiest, book nerdiest, and alphabetically obsessed librarians out there!:

1. Mental Floss: http://store.mentalfloss.com/new-arrivals/
Not only does it have some pretty cool t-shirts, but some very unusual books which can't be found on booklists librarians use.

2. Klear Gear: http://www.kleargear.com/
You can get a better clue about what type of person a librarian is just by looking at their desk.  Why not splurge on some very unique desk and office decor.  There are tons of other geek things we'd all love  to show off our love for all things nerdy!

3.   Paddywax: http://www.paddywax.com/Shop/Library
It isn't enough we want to work in a library, but we love the smell too!  Nothing beats the smell of an old dead author and this website offers them all!  Edgar Allan Poe?  How about Jane Austen?  My personal favorite is John Steinbeck. Who knew he could smell so amazing?!?

4. Cafe Press: http://www.cafepress.com/+library+clothing?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=msn&utm_campaign=40356349&utm_content=357822031&utm_term=kwd-9644233571-bb-c
If you've never visited Cafe Press and looked through their extreme collection of clothing for library lovers, well now's your chance.  Super librarian?  Check.  Library Humor? Check.  Quotes? Check!  Too many to choose from, and all what a librarian would love

5. Think Geek: http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/jewelry/
This site is great for the guybrarian you know as well as the girlbrarian too!  I chose this particular link because who else would carry a Death Star or Yoda charm to put on a Pandora bracelet?  Yeah, and this is just tapping into the geek waiting for you when you open this puppy up!

6. Demeter Fragrance: http://demeterfragrance.com/paperback.html#  (or try Amazon)
What exactly does an old paperback smell like?  Should we even go there?  Well, fear not!  For those who love the smell (not moldy book, no no!!) then go ahead a splurge!  You too, can smell like an old paperback book!!

7. Gone Reading: http://gonereading.com/group/book-shaped-plates-platters/
Some of us have said we eat, drink, and breathe books.  Well, here's a site that could help your gastronomic endeavors.  Just put food on these book plates and let the eating begin! (check the clearance link...they're on sale!)

8. Out of Print: http://www.outofprintclothing.com/collections/womens-tees
Cool tees for ALL librarians!  From picture books to classics and other things, these are by far the best looking tees of the  bunch! They have some pretty cool coasters too, of all things sacred to libraries!

9. Zazzle. http://www.zazzle.com/librarian+mugs
This collection happens to be mugs.  Why a hot beverage, you ask?  Because nothing says I love books more than a hot cuppa and a good book.  NOTHING.... And for those of us who can't quite grasp drinking and books because of spillage, they have travel mugs with lids too.

10. American Library Association Store: http://www.alastore.ala.org/SearchResult.aspx?CategoryID=164&gclid=Cj0KEQiAjpGyBRDgrtLqzbHayb8BEiQANZauh4dUi5SXlBNNDldnxqdW-Zt0Ys4yxFFJna67kW5NqksaAnHh8P8HAQ
You call yourself a librarian? Yeah, well you're not a true librarian (or someone related to a true librarian) if you didn't put this store on the list! 

Happy Holidays Everyone!  Let the e-shopping BEGIN!!  *and if you happen to need my address for shipping purposes, just shoot me an email :)

image link: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/NUC_Christmas_Tree_S_Calhoun.jpg

Sketchnoting a book review: Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

2015, Knopf

I've been delving into the fascinating world of sketchnoting, and have been practicing my skills (and trust me, you should see the very first one I created....practice does help!)  I've seen professor Karin Perry from Sam Houston State University do book reviews via sketchnotes and decided to try it out. 

What is NOT in the sketchnote is my personal review. So this is what I think of this book:

WOWOWOW!!!  This is 599 pages of intense plot, conflict, and survival all set in a science fiction thrillfest based on documents, journals, e-mails, imessages, and high security reports... and even concrete poetry.  The format itself is enough to draw the reader in and it reads fast because of this.  The characters are an excellent mix of adults and teens, which makes this science fiction novel so believable.  Adding diagrams of the ships adds a deeper dimension for the readers as well as their mode of travel through wormholes.  This is a deep space chase that will grab you to turn the next page to see what happens.  Huge twist at the end - VERY unexpected!  One of the top 10 best books I've read this year! 
Highly recommended for JH/HS. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

All The Rage by Courtney Summers

2015, St. Martin's Griffin

Romy wakes up on a dusty road in the middle of nowhere.  She vaguely remembers the night.  The only evidence something bad has happened is written on her stomach in bright red lipstick…

 She always thought Kellen was the most beautiful boy in town, and when her best friend Penny gets them together at a party one night, Romy is more than thrilled.  But the day after the party, Romy walks through the halls of school hearing the whispers and innuendos.   Kellen is no longer beautiful…she sees him for the monster he truly is.  But no one will believe her, especially because Kellen is the sheriff’s son - untouchable, likable, respected.

Living in a small town, everyone knows about Romy’s father.  He’s no longer around and she lives with her mom and her boyfriend (even more rumors there).  It’s different…there is no more screaming or her having to rescue her father again.  She and her mom make ends meet. 

School is tougher because there are sharks in the water.

There’s Tina, who has thinks she knows the truth and makes Romy’s life a living nightmare by constantly belittling and shaming her in public.

There’s Alec and Brock, who bump Romy in the halls, making snide remarks and sharing what happened with everyone they know.

There’s Penny, who was her best friend and now doesn’t even meet her eyes in the hallways.

And then there’s Leon….
Romy and Leon work together at the diner, and slowly, he lets Romy know how much he likes her.  He lives in the next town over, and has no idea what Romy is going through internally and externally.  She begins to think there can be life after rape, but she is careful to make sure he is separated from knowing what happened.  In time, they become closer and are trust begins to build. 

But one night will change that.  

Romy is found on that dusty road, trying to piece together what happened.  Penny, her former best friend, has disappeared and everyone is desperate to try and find such a beautiful girl.  Romy believes it should have been the other way around…it would make life easier for her and she doesn’t deserve to live.  Everyone has made it clear. 

What she hasn’t told anyone is when Penny showed up at the diner.  And she knows the truth about Kellen.  She wants Romy to press charges….and now Penny can’t be found…

Powerful.  Emotional. This novel is gritty to not only the core of what happened to Romy, but also the emotional whipping she takes herself through everyday because of it.  This is a book for a mature reader because it takes the reader not only through the rape, but the ugly aftermath as well.  The intensity is purposeful, and Courtney Summers delivers this slowly to a very unexpected ending which is both shocking and redemptive.  Highly recommended for high school.

Book pairs:
Fault Line by Christa Desir 

                                  Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Makerspaces and the Tentative Librarian

I admit it...I haven't jumped into the makerspace pool yet.  I told myself I wanted to test the waters before I started investing time, energy (and money!) into one for the library.  I've been parts of conversations, read some materials and decided to give excuses instead of getting results.  I admit it, the idea kind of scared the living daylights out of me (especially the coding part!) because I have NO CLUE about the whole thing.  Ask me about library programs, books, educational technology, I got it.  I know how to collaborate, advocate, and integrate.

I do NOT have a clue about makerspaces.  And in this case, ignorance is NOT bliss.

That all changed the other day.

A good friend of mine was talking about her simple makerspace at school and what confused me more than anything was there was little to no technology involved in hers.  So, is this a true makerspace or do you HAVE to have technology embedded into it?  Is there a place for arts and crafts in a makerspace or not?

We took this conversation to a wonderful group of high school librari-friends (I love this PLN!) and began to talk all about makerspaces.  I was hung up on the whole definition of it, and one brilliant friend said this:
     "Makerspaces don't have just one definition, they have lots of different definitions."

And sometimes that's all I need to hear to make a difference.  When approaching makerspaces as this finite thing having to be planned (helpful hint given to me: works better if it's organic). I built walls around it, scaring myself off from even approaching it.  But that one sentence made me see less boundaries and more ideas.  

First, I needed to have a time set out for students to make.  Before/after school, during the school day when they are finished in their classes, and during lunches were all common ideas.  I'm fortunate that our campus just adopted a 37 minute time for students to go anywhere and spend their time the way they want to (unless they have mandatory tutorials).  Wah-laa!!  Got the time!

Next, I needed to have a place to set up my makerspace.  I have space in the library rarely used, is small and contained, and best of all, is connected to a computer lab.  Check!!

Okay, now for the ideas...I like the idea of upcycling and am beginning to see a concept.  But before that-

I'm immersing myself in reading and preparing for it.  Drills and saws in the library?  Ummmm....not there yet. I'm making a date to look at a real live makerspace in action first.  In the interim, I'm reading up on it. Here are a couple of articles I am making time to really read and think about:

Makerspace Resources and Programming Ideas: http://colleengraves.org/makerspace-resources-and-programming-ideas/   

Libraries as Makerspaces: http://www.slideshare.net/LYRASIS_PRODEV/libraries-as-makerspaces

Ideas for Makerspaces in the Library: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1PyJgMCXFJU8SAK6Mt9ZzUfBDNiEa56ZMA7Vg8ugGNsE/edit?copiedFromTrash

Libraries & makerspaces: A revolution?


Image citation: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/158647222/in/album-72157594159058020/

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

10+ Sites for Classroom Digital Projects

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

2015, HarperCollins

Take one slightly OCD supervillain with a penchant for science, one golden knight who works for the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics, and one superbad shape-shifter girl.

Swirl it all with a heavy dose of sarcastic humor, a heaping of death and destruction, and a taste of the days of Lancelot with a hint of today's science technology.

Read for a day (or two) and you'll see what an OUTSTANDING graphic novel this is!!

Ballister Blackheart is a supervillain.  He's created not only a name but a reputation for being the nemesis of the kingdom's golden boy, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin (and the humor begins...).  They've been fighting for years because of a joust gone wrong and nothing will mend the friendship they once shared.

And then along comes Nimona.  Such a cute girl with red hair...and a penchant to want to destroy, kill and maim.  She's a shapeshifter, and can replicate into anything in order to help Sir Blackheart take over the kingdom.  But there are a few slight problems.

He wants control and order, she lives in chaos.
He's not into hurting or killing people, she doesn't think twice about not doing it.
He's a seasoned veteran, who's been working on his reputation for awhile.  She's a young newbie, with lots of enthusiasm and curiosity.

Together, they are beginning to tear the kingdom apart (even though she's allergic to bananas  and can hardly watch a scary movie), especially after they find out what the Institution is truly up to.

The Director assigns Sir Goldenloin the task of killing the girl and capturing Blackheart, but he's not sure he can do it.  Go against the Institution and lose his place of glory or kill a little kid?  What's a knight to do?

Stevenson creates a graphic novel which not only tells a great story, but also brings about fits of laughter.  Her art is a spot-on delivery of building and creating characters and their personalities the reader understand through through the artwork Stevenson creates.  She carries it forward not only through artwork, but the subtle ways the characters interact and speak to each other all while an exciting tale is told.  No wonder this was nominated for the National Book Award....it's truly an excellent GN!    HIGHLY recommended for JH/HS

Friday, October 16, 2015

How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews

HarperTeen, 2015

 I was tasked by a student recently that most of the books I booktalked did not have a guy as the main character….so I went in search of some and this book popped.  SO glad it did! 

Adam Higgs recently moved to a new school, Nixon Collegiate, a complete opposite of where he went.  BMWs and Mercedes are standard issue cars here, and the cliques prove who has it and who copies it.  Adam fits into neither category.  In fact, he fits into only one – the loser category.  He’s carried this burden since forever.  Unlike his uber popular little sister and his athlete god status in high school brother, Adam has never been able to climb higher.  It’s just not in him.  His days consist of going to school, hanging out with Brian, the only friend he has from his old school, and seeing his brother Sam, now in a wheelchair from an injury his senior year but living independently.  Sam relives his glory days through stories and tells Adam he needs to experience it before it’s all over, but how?

Adam finds his inspiration in the movie Scarface. Kicked around, Scarface rises to the top slowly to find glory.  With that in mind, Adam takes what little money he makes at the local pizza and buys new clothes.  And the first opportunity to make a name for himself happens in chemistry.  Sarah freaking Bryant is his lab partner and when an assignment comes up, he takes it upon himself to do the work for the goddess, but at a price ten bucks a page and 50 bucks for an A.  Hey, if these people have the money, Adam figures it’s a way to make some. 

Soon his homework business begins to take off and people begin to notice how Sarah, Rob, Jessie, Alton and the others are seen with Adam.  With the growth of his business, Adam figures he can do a little more to win at high school.  Soon the homework business turns into fake IDs, turns into booze, turns into….bad.

And just when Adam is at the top of his game, his empire begins to crumble with huge consequences….

For guys wanting a guy book, this one is it, hands down.  And yes, ANY reader who enjoys real life reads will quickly snap this book up. Seen from the perspective of a teen zero to hero, the reader walks beside him at home, at work and at school to see the entire picture of a day in the life of Adam from Day One to the end.  You’ll want to warn him of the danger ahead, but can only stand there and watch the train wreck happen.  And that’s what makes this book amazing.  The plot and is solid, the characters very believable and the lives of everyone involved isn’t contrite.  Pair it up with 1-2 pages a chapter, and it reads fast...a true page-turner.    
Book pair:  Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder

Emerson and Vince are walking through the streets of Portland and it's pretty quiet...not a lot of traffic, not a lot of businesses open, very few people out.  It's been this way for awhile because everyone is spending time with their loved ones.  You see, in 28 hours, a meteor will hit the United States and those who survive will be few and far between.

Emerson and Vince just have each other.  They've been living on the streets and there is no one closer than each other.  With not much time left, both of them have made a pact to see the end of their world on their own terms, and with this in mind, they go to that jumping point in the city....and it's there that will change their lives.

Carl is standing on the bridge Emerson and Vince go to, and he saves their lives.  He tells the story of how he met someone who made a wish come true for him.  In turn, Carl is to pay it forward to five people, and Emerson and Vince will make his fifth wish happen.  When asked what they want, both of them reply with the only thing they've never really had an abundance of - money.  Carl gives him his wallet filled with money and has only one request...pay it forward.  People will be easy to find, you just have to look and see which ones have wishes or regrets and make them happen.

Emerson and Vince don't know what he's talking about until they meet people along the way as they make their way through town.  Until they see the one person who always wanted to go to Paris...and they make it happen for her.  They take two little girls home, but also take them on an adventure through a fairy tale.  And slowly, their friendship begins to change from that of friendship to one on a deeper level.

Emerson has a regret she's not sharing with Vince...the one that makes her want to go home one last time.  She knows if she tells him, he'll want to change the regret into reality, but it's so hard to go back after what she's been through...and it's too late, isn't it?

Part novel in verse, part prose, Schroeder is the weaver to lives.  Although many of the people Vince and Emerson meet are strangers, there is an invisible string that will weave their stories into one.  It's a story about what people do knowing their living their last days, but more than that, it's about the impact relationships have on one another, especially when viewed through different perspectives, even if it's the same situation.  Excellent quick read for high school!
Link to book trailer