Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Ate Dinner with a Goddess...

If only I had known....I signed up for a camp where I'm teaching teens HOW to work with technology and web 2.0 for their schoolwork, and am going to miss out on the chance to hear Teri Lesesne's booktalking workshop in Ft. Worth. So, I was thinking....what would top that? Of course, having dinner with the goddess herself. Amazing...great conversation, great advice, good stories and delicious food. Whoever will be seeing her presentation will continue to be amazed. Damn that I will miss it!!
Am currently working on Paul Volponi's Hurricane Song booktrailer. It should be done by tomorrow night!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

It’s 1969 and Bliss has made a major change in her life. She has lived most of her life in a hippy commune with her parents to living in genteel Atlanta with her grandmother after her parents flee to Canada. She doesn’t know social etiquette, doesn’t understand typical idioms (ie letting the pigeon out of the coop) and has never been to high school.
When her grandmother enrolls her in Crestview, Bliss is blissfully unaware of what really goes on in a high school. She doesn’t understand or know about social divide and so dives right into her first day. One thing she thinks she understands is the nature of people and those that are mean-spirited…or at least she thinks she does.
Bliss begins to make friends and enjoys her life, but there’s something about the school that doesn’t sit well with her, and it’s emanating from the third floor of Hamilton Hall….
Her life take a sudden change when an accident occurs and Bliss takes up for the underdog, Sandy. Sandy is overweight, smells bad, and has a reputation for being “unnatural” but Bliss puts that behind her and begins to eat lunch with her, spend time with her, and befriends her but also continues her friendships with her other girlfriends to achieve balance.
But there is something to the truth of rumors about Sandy…she is a little off. But Bliss is beginning to be very happy with her life, especially when the boy of her dreams, Mitchell takes notice of her. But her happiness becomes short-lived when she realizes that Sandy is changing into someone she wasn’t, and Bliss now cannot get away from her.
Sandy is intrigued with Hamilton Hall, especially room 313, and insists Bliss becomes a part of her assimilation with the entity that haunts this rooms, but Bliss will not comply…she not only fears this ghost, but is beginning to fear for herself. Although she tries to shun Sandy, it doesn’t work and things explode the night of the Winter Formal.

This is historical fiction very rarely seen, with a mix of fantasy thrown in with a theme of the supernatural a major part of the story. I’d call it historical fantasy fiction. With a touch of Stephen King (think “Carrie”) Myracle takes the era of free-love and brings to the forefront the macabre through plot, diary entries, and blurbs from 1960’s television as well as quotes and court documents from and about Charles Manson. It is a tightly woven novel of suspense, the supernatural, and teen high school experiences. Published by Amulet Books, Release date: September 2008.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cool way to show off book titles

I went to a website called AndreaMosaic ( and created a mosiac using bookcovers of books I've read. Here is the original photo and mosaic. Just another way to show off bookcovers on a webpage or in a booktalk!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Stories about Falling in Love by Four Incredible Authors

Niki Burnham begins with her story Last Stand. Toby and Amber have known each other since kindergarten and now in their junior year, they are about to celebrate their first year anniversary. Amber is, as Toby’s best friend puts it, “smokin’ hot!” while Toby is a sax player and fairly all-around nice guy. Their relationship couldn’t be better, until Amber decides that it’s time to go further. Tables are turned when Toby…a GUY…doesn’t want to. Stereotypes fall apart in this short story and the reader gets the chance to see what happens to the nice guy.
Don’t Mind Me by Terri Clark begins with an atypical relationship. The local football god is dating Dee, the local goth chick. After a night at the movies, Dee decides to take Rick where he has wanted to go with her all along. When things starts to get hot and heavy in the truck, they end up in a small accident, in which Dee seriously bumps her head. The effect of the wreck? She can now read minds and what she reads in Rick Travers’s mind is enough to make her sick. A book? About how to bag girls in all the school cliques AND make them say they love you??? Not only is she angry, but she decides to do something about it with her new ability, her best friend, and those that Rick have already ensnared. Readers will cheer for Dee and get to see the bad guy fall.
Ellen Hopkins writes Just Plain Lisa, where the title says it all. A senior in high school, Lisa knows she will go through her last year as a wallflower and accepts that fact as well as the lessons her parents have taught her about standing strong and being true to herself. But then Chet comes into the coffee shop she where she works, and for the first time in her life, Lisa has a boyfriend. Little by little, Lisa begins to change – first her make-up, then her hair, and soon her weight…all to please Chet, who is the one to “suggest” these changes. Has Lisa lost sight of her true self, or is she really doing this for herself? Hopkins hits on an issue that readers will be able to identify with and creates a situation and character that shows both strength and weakness.
Party Foul by Lynda Sandoval ends the novel. Summer romances are the sweetest and Mia has found hers in Paige. Although neither one has come out at school, they both understand each other, and love each other….until the day of the big senior party before school starts. Paige stops texting, stops talking, and completely ignores Mia, which breaks Mia’s heart. Has she been used? Was Paige just experimenting? Mia gets help and understanding from her best friend Allison (also gay, but strictly friends) and together, they decide it’s time that their high school join the 21st century. They start a club for everyone who has ever felt left out or alienated, and it draws some very interesting and surprising members. But will this be enough to mend Paige’s broken heart and the lies she’s been subjected to? Sandoval treats this theme with respect in a world where experimentation and alienation are becoming major parts of a teen’s life.
This book will capture the teen girl readers and hold their hearts as they read through these short stories. From breaking a stereotype to exacting revenge to changing to please others and a look at redemption, girls will find one story they can relate to. Akin to Tanya Lee Stone’s “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl,” this book will be sure to fly off the shelves and passed around from hand to hand. Keep plenty of copies handy! Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Stories about Falling Out of Love by Four Incredible Authors. (2008). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

The Good Neighbors Book One: The Kin by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

Rue Silver is not a happy girl. Not only has her mother disappeared, but her father is a complete wreck. In order to escape, she hangs out with her friends Justin and Lucy and her rocker boyfriend Dale. She also thinks she’s going insane, because she swears she can see things that aren’t there.
One night, while diving through an old abandoned building, Rue sees police at her house. When she races over there, she finds out her father has been arrested for the murder of a young college student, who was most recently sighted in the company of her father. The only person she can turn to is her father’s colleague, Professor Amanda Valis.
With problems seeming to pile up, Rue has for the first time, met relatives from her mother’s side, who are adamant about taking Rue with them. She’s seen her father’s secretary, Tam, in the coffeehouse she frequents and doesn’t like the sinister look of her grandfather, Aubrey. It is up to Rue to figure out who killed the college student and why, which will lead her down the path of her true heritage (part fairy/part human) and why her grandfather is so seriously interested in her.
Holly Black’s first graphic novel puts faces on both her human and non-human characters. With such solid hitters as Tithe and Ironside under her belt, this graphic novel will surely draw fans of her work to read a different format of fantasy as well as pull graphic novel readers into her book format. This graphic novel reflects Black’s style of fantasy writing and the character mirror those of her previous books. Sequel(s) to follow. Publication date: October 2008. The Good Neighbors Book One: The Kin. (2008). Black, Holly and Ted Naifeh. New York: Scholastic.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How I create digital booktrailers

Que pasa, amigos y amigas!
I've gotten SO MANY emails from librarians wanting to do this, so instead of sending out individual emails (shoo-wee!), I'll put it here so you can access it : ) BTW, thanks for taking the time to look at this and emailing me!!!
I thought about putting this on listserv, but it's kind of long (okay, it's REALLY long!!) but hey - it's my blog and what the can self-edit what you read and don't have to print it out or stick it in an email folder - it's all right here in a handy-dandy website with some other cool things I've done, reviewed and shown. I thought about writing this academically or with my own voice, and since it's summer, that means letting my hair down and just writing. If you'd like the more academic voice, let me know and I'll email that version. But like books, most people would rather read a great YA novel of today rather than The Scarlet Letter (I'm not knocking it, it still happens to be my ultimate favorite classic!) But you know what I mean....I hope....

Okay, let's strap into our seats and begin this amazing ride!

1. I use photostory and/or moviemaker. I'm actually liking moviemaker better because of the higher content of editing, but photostory will work just as well. They have some pretty cool effects too. I self-taught my way through both of these programs, and I have to say, if you don't know how to use these programs, start playing with it and get comfortable with them like you would with your new iPod or DVD system...and remember - technology is FUN!! If you'd rather be shown the way, see if an education service center has a workshop on this, get on YouTube and find a video tutorial, use the MS online help...there are several different avenues, so you can't say you don't know how. It's like shoeing a mule - hard at first and you may get your butt kicked, but after it's all said and done, the ride is smooth and you won't have to worry about infection or split hooves . If not, it may become a huge stumbling block and frustrating. Of course, there are other programs out there, but these were on my computer with Windows OS (I downloaded photostory free from the MS website).

DAY ONE: My next step is to find a book that goes BANG!!! in my mind. Although there are a HUGE amount of great books out there, sometimes one just hits me the right way and I can actually see a trailer in my mind as I'm reading this. Then I go to work...

DAY TWO: After reading, I start creating a list of words - I play word association with the book and it could be places, people, things, emotions, atmosphere, themes...if you look at the Jenna Fox video, I remembered blue being a prominent color in that book while Streams of Babel focused on the color red. I just look holistically at the book and start writing down words.

Next, I start looking for images from and/or as well as other free image sources (ie Library of Congress). I make sure I tell where I got my media from at the end of the trailer in order to fulfill use, and also make sure I use images I can modify, adapt, and build upon. I use my list and start searching for images that will highlight what I see. This is not only the exciting part of the process, but time-consuming!! I see so many I like, and them...BAM! I see another I like better, and it keeps building and the time I'm finished, I have TOO MANY and have to start deleting. Creativity is worth it though : )

DAY THREE: Time to go to work! I start uploading the images and putting them in order, and begin writing down captions, NOT PARAGRAPHS, onto the slides. These just come to me as I'm creating it. I've always been one of those people who don't write out an outline (can you tell from this blog?), but do it from the top of my head and go back and edit, edit, edit. This is going to sound cheesy, but I go back to when I was a kid in junior high. Remember those 8mm movies in science? I can hear the "blrrrrrrrrr" of the reel and hear the narrator's voice saying, "The mitochondria now begins to form..." it was always a man's voice and it seemed it was always the same man in every movie!! I think Marlin Perkins's Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom hired him as well!
Then the editing - and the clock starts ticking. I put it all in order, then start working with font, image and font color compatability, headings, effects, transitions, timing, word choice and placement, re-arranging text to images, music selection (I purchased mine from You get what you pay for!) Selecting music can take almost as much time as image gathering!; length of movie ( I try not to go over 2:30 -3:00 minutes max...anything over and I fear I may lose my audience. Not only that, but it means editing even more!) I believe digital booktalks have to have a limit, exactly like booktalks you do through voice...timing is crucial. And I do both at the same time, with more emphasis on traditional booktalking rather that a huge mass of videos. I still want to emphasize good reading, which I can do through traditional Bktlking. Typically, it's a 3:1 ration and about 30 books a booktalk.
And that's it....wah-la! A digital booktalk is born!! Time it takes? Not nine months (although it may feel like it!) but it does take hours. I timed myself on Streams of Babel and Jenna Fox and it averaged, without the reading, about 6-7 hours. So, dedication is essential. And yes, I have a 12 year old who is constantly bothering me every five minutes for a newer cell phone and help on her MySpace page as well as the multitude of sleepovers she has, and a husband who looks at me and says, "Who the hell are you? And what did you do with my wife?" I also fit it in with other things I enjoy doing, like sudoku (damn the person who introduced me to those evil puzzles!), reading of course, traveling to my favorite South Texas destination to float the Frio River, and other web 2.0 I play with.

And my zeal and vigor I get from creating these comes from a pantheon of places and people, plus I just wanted to use some big words in a sentence : ) But seriously, this is how I got here-
First was Dr. Teri Lesesne, whom I will always admire and strive to be like. She showed me my first digital booktrailer in her workshop and I thought, "Hey! This is a step into 21st century libraries!! I want to do, I WILL do that!" Dr. Robert Kenny, whose website was the first I came upon dedicated to booktrailers. I emailed him right away and let him know how amazing I thought this all was! I think more library schools should harness this concept and create their own digital booktrailer libraries using grad students and their creativity. He also wrote an amazing article that reflects how I feel about this format for books. Here's the link:
And of course from my students who love these when I booktalk and the librarians everywhere who can feel that first blush of excitement and are wanting to do this. The extras are getting emails from authors, which I just about fall out of my chair from when I read them, and continuing to learn, which will eventually...hopefully...sustainably...make these easier and easier to create. A year ago, I was hard-pressed to find sites dedicated to digital book trailers. Now, type in those magic words and they are EVERYWHERE! (you'll get more hits using book trailers as two words rather than one, but will get hits with either variation).
So, time to get on that old stubborn mule, shoe it, and ride down the trail into 21st century thinking - students crave it, want it, and it is some serious fun!! Next up...Paul Volponi's Hurricane Song. The film is already in my head : )

Adelante!! (Spanish word for onward/forward!)

May 2008 booktalks

these are past titles, I'm gearing up for the fall!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson

SPOILER ALERT!! This trailer contains parts of the book you may want to read BEFORE YOU WATCH THIS!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson

How much can you retain of your physical self before you're not "you" anymore? Eighty percent? Fifty percent? Ten percent? And if you had only a certain percentage of yourself left, is your soul still intact?

Jenna Fox has been adored and loved by her parents since she was a baby. Every step she made, every accomplishment she's ever done has been recorded on video - and Jenna watches every year she was alive, up to her sixteenth year. The thing is, she can't remember anything she watches.

Jenna wakes up from a coma after a year and her life and memory has altered. Her diet is different, her grandmother pushes her out of arms' reach, and her mother has become more protective than ever. All Jenna wants is a normal life, and the first step is going back to school.

There she meets several "outcasts" in an alternative school, where the big topics are Thoreaus' Walden Pond and the responsibility of the FSEB, the Federal Science Ethics Board.

Jenna slowly begins to recall memories and she struggles to find out what happened her seventeenth year. And then it hits her - the accident, the smell of death, her wanting to die - and the secret her parents have been keeping from her comes out. JWhat she finds out is that the only part of her is the true Jenna Fox - the rest of lab-created. Jenna doesn't know what she is - human or a science project.

Set in the future, this book deals with the possibility of science and medicine and what happens when science begins to slowly take over. It's a world of mutations, medical advances and questions of how far is too far? A crisp-written book that will make the reader wonder what will happen to Jenna and how she handles her life inside her own skin or as an back-up in a computer. Do memories make a person, or is it more than that?