Monday, December 30, 2013

Pizza, Love and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams

Henry Holt and Co, 2012

 Sophie Nicolaides has grown up around food. As the daughter of an Greek father and Italian mother, she knows all the flavors, even the ones in between. Every night she goes to her dad’s restaurant to help out with folding napkins and silverware, but her best days are when she’s helping in the kitchen.

 Sophie is resigned to a life of her family’s restaurant, only dreaming of what opportunities are available after she graduates. Until then, she’s content to hang out with her best friend Alex, even though he’s more family than friend. Well, maybe not family either…when he comes to the house or restaurant, Sophie feels butterflies in her stomach. She can’t stand the girls that flirt with Alex. She, well, she likes him more than a friend even if she won’t tell him. It’s another one of her dreams she can dream about.

 But one day, Alex comes in to the restaurant and rocks Sophie’s world. A popular food network is accepting applications for a new reality television series called Teen Test Kitchen, where teen contestants around the country will vie for a top spot, which includes a scholarship and an opportunity to attend the most prestigious culinary school. Sophie doesn’t think she’ll even try out, but with the excitement Alex creates makes her go for it. With her cooking her best lamb dish, Sophie makes it to the challenge and is off to California to compete. It’s her first time away from home, and she’s not quite sure what to expect.

 Being in a reality show and away from home is more than what Sophie bargains for. The competition is cut-throat, a good looking French student is attracting her attention, making her question her relationships, and a long-lost aunt that will reconnect Sophie to her mother, who died when Sophie was younger.

 Kathryn Williams writes a light romance for teens that creates balance between Sophie’s story and the side stories of the other contestants and characters in the book that are part of Sophie’s world. From her Italian father to the handsome and suave French student, Williams puts in more than enough flair to make this book come alive. It looks at the bright and dark side of reality television as well as all types of teens from around the country, including everyone from a California blonde to the Madison Avenue trust fund guy.
     Williams intersperses her narrative with authentic recipes readers can try out and this also makes this book stand out from other romance novels. Give this to readers who can’t get enough romance in their lives.

Paired non-fiction reading: any cookbook (of course) but also Andrew Zimmern’s Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild and Wonderful Foods or Carl Warner’s Food Landscapes.

If you like this, then you’ll like… anything written by author Siobhan Vivian and Maureen Johnson’s Girl at Sea or Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes.

Publisher book trailer:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Twinkle Tech! Four webtools that can transform the paperless classroom!

I was introduced to many of these sites via PLNs and colleagues and was intrigued with the possibilities and potential they had. These are one to definitely keep in mind as solid educational webtools! Includes a description and suggested curriculum tie-ins.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Curated Booklist/Booktrailer Using Thinglink

Here's my first project created through a culmination of the most recent books I've read and enjoyed.  The icons have cool book trailers or publisher/author sites.  I really like this tool!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

Simon and Schuster, 2013

London lives in a broken home with broken people.  Her father isn't at home much and their longest conversations are usually one sentence long.  It's still better than her mother.  She hasn't talked, or even acknowledged London, since the accident.  She hides in her room and if they are in the same room together, the avoidance hangs in the air like a heavy curtain.  London can no longer count on her best friend, her brother Zach, to help out.  He's gone too....

Since the accident, London's life has turned upside down.  The whispers in the school halls are filled with conversation and gossip that London was to blame for Zach's death.  Her best friend Heather can't be around her anymore and their friendship disappeared.  Rachel, Zach's girlfriend, left town and won't even take a call from her.  London had to leave Taylor, her boyfriend and Zach's best friend, because he constantly brought back memories she couldn't deal with.  Now, she's created a warm cocoon, keeping her safe and distant from everyone.  The only thing that keeps her company these days is her one-sided conversations with her brother and the depression that follows.

Then Jesse and Lili move from Utah to Florida, bringing with them the hope of a new start for London...

Lili doesn't know what's happened.  She finds London and begins to start a friendship with her, not really knowing that London is just playing the role.  But Lili doesn't give up and slowly but surely, a layer of the cocoon is torn away.

Jesse is the mysterious, new guy in school that makes London's heart skip a beat.  He's safe....for now.  And alternately, he notices London as well, even though her ex-best friend linked up with him.  London needs someone strong that can listen without passing judgement...someone other than Taylor. And another layer peels away...

But one penultimate day, the cocoon is stripped away, laying bare London's feelings not only for her parents, but for those she knew in her past and present life.  More than that, it forces London to realize and look at the truth of what happened to Zach and ultimately, her role in his death.

A beautiful and haunting novel in verse, Williams deftly creates a world around a tragic event that slowly crumbles into an avalanche, and the reader gets first row invitations to watch it happen.  Williams also uses an infected family nucleus, and more importantly, a simple teenager taken to the brink, to stop the avalanche, which gives this book an authentic foundation.  What made the family fall apart is the lure Williams uses, not allowing the reader the full story until the end, although enough hints are written throughout the novel to give them a curious sense of knowing what it could be.  Hand this book to those teens who enjoy reading a powerful novel in verse about family, loss and love.
Recommended for upper JH/HS.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Twitter 2013: My Year in Review

I love Twitter for one HUGE reason - I learn everyday from it.  There are some amazing people I follow that have shared so much!  It's hard to keep up with everything on my Twitterfeed, but that's why there's the handy dandy favorites!  When I see a link that I need to investigate further, a quote that means a lot to me, or a picture that sparks interest, I put it in my favorites.  So here are some of my most favorites on Twitter:

1 Dec
RT: : 8 Types Of Infographics & Which One To Use When [Infographic]

26 Nov

Thank you for keeping up w/book series in an easy search format! you guys ROCK! 

Great job! RT : For open house tonight

5 Good Places for Students to Find Public Domain Images

MT On my to-do list!Via@sue_fitz: RT:15 Cool Ways Libraries Can Use Vine to Create Social Videos from

Curious about YA historical fiction? Kim's genre guide and extensive reading list

Two Awesome Presentations on Digital Literacy for Teachers  

A2 I have students that read all day and are no better for it. I can read a French novel, that doesn't make me fluent in French. 

Educators take note The ultimate list of free stock photo sites for elearning

A great first sentence is a hot recipe for book love :-D 

I don't know if you are aware, but a couple great chats... 7-8 pm Tues., and 8-9 pm Wed. GREAT stuff!

We need to go to you as librarians first. Shame on us for forgetting. You are part of the viable curriculum! 

: The power of online collaboration....Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir - 'Lux Aurumque'

lecture in the 14th century. Look at the engagement of the last row...

I feel_______. You feel in the blank.

50 Terrific Twitter Feeds for School Librarians - Best Colleges Online via

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Inhuman by Kat Falls (Fetch #1)

2013, Scholastic

The United States is divided...not by politics or beliefs, but by those infected and those that test clean...

Lane lives on the western side of the Wall, where she and her friends wonder about the other side, known as the Feral Zone.  There is all kinds of speculation about it and more rumors than truth.  It's also not only hers, but everyone's, greatest fear to become infected. 

The Ferae Naturae virus starts slowly, with fever and the body going hot.  The second phase is the slow evolution of into a feral, a creature that is both human and animal.  This phase could last quite awhile but the third phase, and the most deadliest, can happen at any time.  It's when the animal side overtakes the human side and the infected  becomes a monster where there is no cure, only banishment into the Feral Zone...

Lane knows that to become infected, the body has to be exposed to blood or saliva for the virus to start attacking, but rarely does this happen inside the Wall.  She feels safe...until the the biohaz agents come knocking on the door and she is taken to the lab...

And it's there that Lane realizes that politics do play into both worlds. Director Spurling tells Lane the truth about her father and forces Lane to get what she wants outside of the Wall or her father faces death.  The only option Lane has is to venture into the dangerous Feral Zone and become a fetch...bringing back precious artifacts left behind by people during the mass exodus to the West. 

Lane realizes her father has been preparing her for this, but in the Feral Zone, nothing is off limits and humans become prey.  Can she trust the military and their politics or the scraps of humanity left in the Zone and their lack of trust in anyone that comes from behind the Wall?  Most importantly, will Lane survive, knowing there is a killer out there, preying on humans?

Kat Falls introduces YA readers into a different world in dystopian literature; one that revolves around man vs. nature, not just survival of the fittest.  There are no tests to take, just fighting the danger that is lurking in the undergrowth.  Fall's characters come alive, especially those minor characters that are in Phase Two of the virus, through her physical description coupled by the human personality that still exists.  Lane may start out weak, but she becomes a strong character through experiences, which are balanced instead of forced.  Falls also weaves two male characters into the novel that are polar opposites but ones that again reinforce the main character's (Lane's) strengths and imperfections when it comes to survival.  Chicago seems to have become the main setting of many dystopian novels, but this one has teeth of the vibrant and brutish world it has become through the descriptive writing Falls uses throughout her book.  Readers will watch and wait for the second book to be published.  Recommended for JH/HS. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Little, Brown and Co, 2013

Tana woke up after a night of partying in the bathtub.  Little did she know the tub is what saved her....

Sundown parties are popular now these days.  The danger and the thrill is what keeps teens up all night partying until dawn.  It could be considered a trend, now that Cold Towns have sprung up throughout the nation and world.  There are pre-requisites to a successful party: garlic, rosewater or holy water; stakes and crosses (although these really don't have an effect at all).  But at the party Tana went to, somehow the vampires made their way in, killing and gorging on everyone, creating a massacre.

There are vampires and then there are those well-known ones that go down in history.  The first vampire to begin infecting people was Caspar Morales.  His harmless forays into the human world to feed but not kill started the contagion and the quarantined cities, Cold Towns, the infected and the turned were placed in.  There were other vampires with reputations as well, including the Thorn of Istra, a much sought-after vampire that was supposedly caged for hundreds of years and went mad...thus becoming very very dangerous...

What happens when a person gets bitten?  Contrary to popular belief, they don't turn into vampires; instead, they go cold.  Dead but a limbo state between humanity and a soulless eternity.  It takes 40 days of complete isolation, away from any temptation to drink the blood of a human to shake off the cold.  Only a few make it...most succumb to the temptation and become new vampires, the most unstable kind because their thirst knows no bounds.

And now, Tana is heading to the first Cold Town ever created along with both a vampire named Gavriel and the guy at the party (Aidan) that Gavriel turned cold.  She's flirting with danger and knows the only thing she can do to save Aidan and get Gavriel out of her life is to go to Cold Town and try to survive.

But once inside, who can she trust?  Going into a Cold Town is like living in a parallel universe.  People are walking around with shunts in their veins, hoping to party with the undead.  The vampires revel in the crowd along with humans knowing there is a balance of power between the living and the dead.  But someone in the crowd is out to destroy this delicate balance to create chaos and get revenge.  And Tana finds herself in the middle of it all....

I'll admit, this is the first time in a long time that I've picked up a horror/supernatural book, especially about vampires, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Forget about the dark and sensual romance, this book has a slightly savage side, filled with deep and dark emotions that run rampant in all of the characters in the book. Black not only creates symbiotic relationships, but carries this theme into other aspects of her book, including society, the infection and struggle to overcome it, and the civilized/uncivilized worlds the characters find themselves in.  It's this power struggle that pushes the reader into the darker passages of the plot all the way through the book, hoping for a satisfying finale and gasping at the end, wanting more more MORE!  This book aligns itself more toward the adult novels of Anne Rice, so if you have readers who want more vampire and a little less romance, hand them this book. Is this a stand-alone or a series?  Hmmmm.....well done, Ms. Black!
Highly recommended for high school collections.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

Random House, 2013

Will is a normal guy, going to a normal high school, doing normal high school things. He keeps to himself, enjoys the sports of cross country and track, and goes through his days happy.  The only thing he'd really like is for his parents to stay in one place for more than two years, but he knows that's not going to happen.

One morning Will wakes up not knowing it is that pivotal day that will change his life.  First, he sees a black car idling nearby, following him into town as he warms up for a run.  He knows something is up, and he goes back to The Rules his father taught him:




After deterring the black car (with the assistance of a HUGE Australian in a wicked car!) Will goes to school only to be called to the principal's office.  A woman from The Center for Integrated Learning has come to talk to Will about his national state test...a perfect score.  While this is unimaginable (Will took the test in twenty minutes), Dr. Robbins sees his potential and asks if he'd like an opportunity to attend this prestigious academy. 


His mother also showed up at school shortly after the interview, and Will is bothered by his mother's appearance and habits.  He see his mother but...something weird is going on.  And the black car shows up again.  The last straw is a video his father sends him, telling Will to GET OUT NOW! 

All of this in one day. 

Now, on the run, the only place Will knows he can go is the Academy with Dr. Robbins, but getting there will prove to be difficult.  Once there, Will will come against more treachery and evil...more than he ever imagined...


Frost writes a page-turner that fantasy readers of all types (from modern-day to low to high) will go through quickly, demanding the sequel coming out January 2014.  Frost, originally an adult author, has transitioned himself into a new and fresh YA author, as evidenced in his first book.  The characters are unforgettable, and the more they connect with each other, the more memorable their separate identities become.  There are enough circumstances in the novel shrouding the mystery of the Paladin Prophecy that will help push the reader to find out who or what is behind the entire scheme that will destroy humanity.  Pair that with the unique abilities the main characters reveal to both themselves and the reader, and there is no turning back.  As an aside, Frost also co-wrote screenplays for the two Fantastic Four Movies.  This has parlayed into what makes his YA book such an attention grabber for readers (kudos on the cover too!)  Recommended JH/HS with an enthusiastic thumbs up!

Paired fiction:
Warrior Heir series by Cinda Chima Williams
The Alchemyst series by Michael Scott
The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bulletin Board Display Ideas

 Every teacher is required to have a bulletin board display (Standard Based Bulletin Boards) for their classroom, where the display is changed every six weeks.  Of course, there is more to it than just changing.  They have to put the TEKS covered, feedback on student work, highlight work that was above and beyond, etc etc etc...It takes a LOT of work and time.  And the library?  Nope...didn't get a bulletin board. So I resorted to using the windows of the library, but after awhile, it looked...trashy...just because I have a LOT of windows (think fishbowl).  The displays blocked the view and would curl if not taped correctly, and don't even get me started on Scotch tape and the remnants left behind.

Then, lo and behold!  A teacher had an extra bulletin board and asked if I would adopt it!  The clouds parted, the room filled with light and a choir of church boys sang a song of praise!  My mind started whirling about what kind of displays I would create, and best of all (one of those catch-22 things) I didn't have any guidelines but creativity on my side.  So off I went!  First place I looked was the listserv, where I found people who had collaboratively worked on booklists with similar themes (Thank you thank you thank you for sharing!!!).  Then it was onto Pinterest to see what else was out there (wow...AMAZED at the creativity!).  And have you ever heard of dumpster diving?  Well, I kind of did that too.  I'd see something I thought would be a great display and took it out of the trash and into the workroom.  Nothing like cardboard for 3-D effects!!

So then it was time to think about what kind of boards I'd like to do.  The ones starred are ones I took queues from through collaborative posts online.  Then I thought I better start thinking of my own themes (so use, borrow, share, post any of these ideas - it's what librarians do, right?)

*August-September:  Students Recommend:  hand out colorful shapes of post-its and ask students to write their favorite book of all time and their name.  Put these hodge-podge on the bulletin board (I had to use an outside window for this one and it looks better in person than in picture form)

*October:  Off With Their Heads!  Their Heads Are Off!:  a split bulletin board of books of bodies with no heads and those with heads and no bodies.  For Halloween, of course!

November:  Hardcopies to E-books:  another split bulletin board display of books in hardcopy format, and the other on e-book format using dumpster diving treasure! (got a poster from vendors and cut out the little book covers; pasted them on the front of the Mac cutout to look like apps). 

December:  Flurry of Series:  series books to get you through the Christmas break.  I'm even thinking of putting the books on snowflake cutouts

January: New Year, New Books: Display the newest titles in the library as well as a list of up and coming titles for the year

Do I even need to ask what I'm doing to February?  Again, dumpster diving for cardboard to glue streamer paper onto heart shapes

March: March Madness: It's all about basketball titles and...I'm struggling with this month.  You know why?  Here's what's commemorated for this month (from Wikipedia)
Irish-American Heritage Month
National Celery Month
National Colo-rectal Cancer Awareness Month
National Essential Tremor Awareness Month
National Nutrition Month
National Professional Social Work Month
National Women's History Month  ( I could definitely work with this topic!)
National kidney month

April: Eggstravaganza!  Only books about pregnancy and babies...JUST KIDDING!  Taking Time for Tayshas: Put up our state's recommended YA list, including annotations (Public School Library Month!)

May:  May I Recommend?:  This time I'll put up not only great YA reads I recommend, but also put out titles and covers of recommended reading for the summer.

So there they are in all of their glory, accentuated with "unique finds."  If you have any bulletin board ideas you'd like to share, please leave a comment :)  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard

2013, Simon and Schuster

Jeffrey Jacobson's world changed the day his father decided to disappear after he hands his son a folder. This file folder, which contains information about himself, would make Jeff question his existence, as well as answer the questions he has kept secret for so long...

Jeff grew up in a home with his father, a famous geneticist, who is now working on a secret project for DSTI, a private science/technology corporation.  Looking back, he could say he lived a fairly normal life - going to camp, taking trips to the museums with his father, hanging out at home...just normal stuff.  He remembers his dad taking him to work and showing him what he did, which included vats full of liquid with someone, or something, floating in them.  Little did he know that he was once in those vats too.

But now at 16, Jeff realizes the full potential of his father's work for DSTI.  Project Cain...a secret weapon the Department of Defense is secretly funding to create a new weapon, this time based on DNA and replication.  Jeff's  father has found XP-11, an anger gene found in a unique population of humans.  And the folder Jeff is holding contains information on a person  he was cloned from who carried that gene...Jeffrey Dahmer.

But the list didn't stop there. His father had taken genes from some other notorious killers to clone:
Henry Lee Lucas
Dennis Rader
Ted Bundy
David Berkowitz.

They are now teenagers, living at Massey Institute as guinea pigs, unbeknownst to what DSTI is doing. Their names?
Henry Roberts
Dennis Vliase
Ted Thompson
David Spanelli

On the outside they look normal, but on the inside, their genetic markers are taking control. Now, they've escaped and are looking for the others like them...

The experiment went way beyond genetics though.  All of the clones were raised in homes much like their original...being exposed to the same horrible childhoods their genetic "parent" experienced.  Jeff Jacobson was the one that got away.  His life wasn't anything like Jeff Dahmer's, but quite the opposite, even if his dad did creep him out at times.  Nature vs. Nurture...the ultimate experiment.

Now, Jeff  is with Shawn Castillo, an ex-military man contracted by the government to hunt down these killers.  They pave a road of death and destruction and it's only a matter of time when the escapees meet their pursuer, and the ultimate stand-off for power begins...

Girard writes a novel with a specific YA audience in mind. The book is filled with both fact and fiction not only about the original serial killers, but government conspiracy and science as well. Therein lies another aspect of this novel that will keep readers intrigued, and if they're like me, getting online to see if the author is telling fact or fiction.  Although the pace of the book can slow down at times, the driving question remains if the main character possesses the same murderous rage the other do.  Interestingly enough, Girard creates an adult parallel novel based on the viewpoint of Castillo, the mercenary extraordinaire, which plays into the questions and scenes veiled thoughout this YA novel.  I, for one, enjoyed this book and its concept. Recommended for mature teens.
Perfect pairing with Derf Backderf's non-fiction graphic novel, My Friend Dahmer.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Asylum by Madeleine Roux.  2013, HarperCollins
Dan is a geek, and he readily admits it.  His academic career is stellar and he's ready to go out and conquer the world.  His first step into post-high school?  A summer spent at the New Hampshire College Prep Program for gifted students.  And this summer, he'll be part of something more than the sum of its parts...

The college has a beautiful campus nestled into the background of the East Coast.  Quaint and picturesque, it's close enough to the small town of Camford but far enough away from the city to keep its own identity and anonymity.  The students that are accepted know they're attending this program to receive challenging coursework in a collegial environment.  While Dan and others venture into Camford, the residents there don't mix well with the students and keep their distance from campus.  They know the secret the buildings hold and even though the campus may be changing through renovation, the darkness never leaves and the townspeople still murmur among themselves about it's gruesome history.

Before it became part of the college, the Brookline Dorm that Dan and his friends, Abby and Jordan, will be living in was once part of a sanitarium for the criminally insane, where most of the patients endured probing experiments only to end up dying at the hands of a merciless doctor.  Dan has no idea about this until, unexpectedly, a door opens to a secret room and they dare to enter. But did they find the door, or did something....or someone...find them?
When they cross the theshold, they are in none other than the "good" doctor's office, complete with images of the patients and their records.  But there are more rooms to explore and the deeper Dan goes, the closer he comes to the danger that has eagerly waited for his arrival...The Sculptor has returned and he's ready to meet Dan.

Roux fills her book not only with a story of possession and revenge, she also adds images and notes throughout the book that coincide with the plot of the story.  The images also help solidify the story conjured up in the readers' minds.  At times, the writing and image pairing may be somewhat disjointed, but overall Roux does what she intended to do - create a horror read captured with more than words, which she most certainly does.  The characters in the book add to the appeal, with the central character creating a relationship with the reader through his emotional reactions to everything going on in his world. Roux also adds breadcrumbs the reader will pick up on that will lead them to the ending with satisfaction.  A great addition to your horror collection.  Recommended 7-12.  Fiction book pair:  Bliss by Lauren Myracle, Harry N. Abrams, 2008

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why Genrefy? The Hows and Whys I Decided to Change

I want to preface this by saying that genrefying a library isn’t a science or an art.  It’s based on loose parameters and how a librarian personally wants to shelve and separate.  This, more than anything, is what drives some librarians crazy because there isn’t a logical or standard sequence.  But for those who have blazed this trail, it can be a very rewarding experience. 

There is one person I’d like to thank for creating that spark in me, and that is Texas librarian Jennifer Turney ( ).  I heard it from her first at a conference and couldn’t WAIT to get back and begin! 

When I started this, I was wary but eager (such an oxymoron!) so I began with the one genre I thought was the biggest – supernatural.  Then it was time to tackle the stacks and I went through them rather quickly and pulled as much as I could out. These were set on library tables that weren’t used for classes and wouldn’t impede traffic or teaching.   
In Destiny, my library assistant and I began changing the spine labels so they looked like this:

The labels were then printed out by the dates they were created  (there’s an option in Destiny, which is the system we use) and began stickering (is that a word?) over the previous spine labels.   UH-OH… that became overwhelming and chaotic so the alternative was to work with just a table of books and print spine labels by barcode range.  PERFECT….each student aide was given a table they were responsible for and re-labeling was quick work.
While the stickering was going on, I went back into the stacks and used a fine tooth comb to pull out more books that were overlooked.  The first time I did this was by sight and familiarity.  This time, it was book by book, sometimes pulling it out and reading the CIP with the subjects on them to double check.  They got their own tables and the process continued.
Once the first genre was done and shelved, I fell in love with the concept (I had to see it, not just read about it….makes a HUGE difference!) Then I sat down and wrote all of the genres I’d like to see happen based on which types of books I’d seen come in and out through the years:
Supernatural (SUP)
Fantasy (FAN)
Historical Fiction (HIS)
Guy Reads (GUY)
Girls Reads (GLR)
Mystery (MYS)
Science Fiction (SCI)
Dystopia (DYS)
Novels in Verse (NIV)
Real Life Reads (RLR)
Adult/Classic (ADC)

Working one genre at a time, I did the same process over and over again until they were all done.  The time frame on this?  Months….sometimes I wanted to scream and cry when I came into work to see the mountains of books still waiting to be shelved, but in hindsight I realized that I had to go through some obstacles to learn ways around them. 

Now, when a bulk set of books come in from a vendor, I go straight to the catalog and re-print out spine labels.  It’s become a second hat. 

So, onto FAQs, why don’t we?

1.       How did you decide which genres to use? 
I did this through personal experience of reading and booktalking a lot of these titles as well as reading reviews.  There are other sources that helped guide me, including the subject headings for the book, which can be found on LOC, Titlewave and the CIP in the books. 

2.       Why did you want to genrefy?
TBH, this grew out of irritation at looking up a book in the catalog for a student, and then helping them find it in the stacks because they couldn’t….yes even in the fiction section.  Kids are kids, regardless if they’re looking for a book in 1st grade or as a senior in high school.  Plus, genrefying was beginning to trend, and I wanted to give it a chance before I dispelled it as being a fly-by-night idea (which it isn’t…more libraries are coming over to the “dark side”).  The difference was AMAZING!  Now kids know exactly where to go and since the sections are smaller, they can find what they’re looking for faster.

3.       What if a book belongs in more than one genre?
That’s going to be a personal call you make for yourself.  There isn’t a handbook on this, so you get to become the creator of it.  A lot of books found in Real Life Reads can also be part of the Guy Reads and Girl Reads sections.  I decided most of the darker, more serious reads would be in the RLR, which helped delineate them from the other aforementioned sections.  Also, if I have multiple copies of a book, I have been known to put them into different genre sections to get more circulation from them as well as meet the needs of readers of a particular genre (ie some fantasy books by Terry Brooks are in two different genres – FAN and ADC)

4.       What about new books that come in?  How do you determine where they go?
I never buy a book unless I’ve read a review, which helps jog my memory when I pick up a new book.  If my memory gets a little cloudy, I go straight to the CIP to read the summary and look at the subjects to guide me.  If there isn’t a CIP I read the inset and look online to verify subjects.  Doing this so many times, I realized that I could also select them by covers too.  If I see a pink cover with a guy and girl holding hands walking in the sunset…yep.  That’s a girl book.  A dragon is usually a dead giveaway as well as black covers with bloodthirsty vampires.  Dystopia covers are getting easier to discern as well.  It seems like they all have characters standing strong on the edge of a precipice looking over a world of destruction they now call home.  And then there is the author him or herself.  But I definitely stick with the first way, which has more logic and authority behind it.

5.       Are there any benefits of genrefying?
The obvious is that the patrons find titles easier and circulation has spiked.  There are other little things I realized later: A) I did a LOT of weeding in the process, which helped free up some shelf space.  B) It gave me a chance to look at all of the genres and see which ones I needed to buy more titles for so I could even out the collection; C) I could put series in order and replace whichever ones were missing; D) Made me even more aware of books I overlooked that I needed to do a reading re-visit on and how many I DID know, which made me happy!; E) It helped me with “if you liked this book, then you’ll like this one…” scenario;  F) It opened readers of a particular genre up to reading “outside the lines” and finding themselves reading from more than one genre

6.       What about signage?
Again, that’s a personal choice.  I created Wordle signs to put on the shelves and then bought cardboard letters we glittered to place on solid ends of the shelves.  The sky’s the limit with this one….

7.       Any other advice?
Always leave a shelf empty for each genre.
Know that this is an ongoing process (I’ll admit, I still have a section in the stacks I have to go through and finish.  Interestingly, these don’t get a lot of circulation…)
If you ever think of moving to a different library, leave information of  your genrefication process with the new librarian so they can make sense of it all

Only do this if YOU want to, not because everyone else does it.  It’s a commitment that’ll last the duration of your career in a particular library.  Embrace the change if you want to, NEVER if you feel you have to

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Superman Versus The Ku Klux Klan: the true story of how the iconic superhero battled the men of hate

By Rick Bowers.  National Geographic, 2012

The 1930s was a time of change in America.  People were just beginning to rise out of the the Great Depression but they still had a long road ahead of them.  Most people with jobs were considered lucky, and Jerry Siegal's family was one of the lucky ones.  The Siegel's lived in a small, safe Jewish community outside of Cleveland Ohio. Jerry went to a typical high school, but wasn't the typical teen. Instead of hanging out after school or going out with friends, Jerry would go to his attic and spend hours reading science fiction magazines or watch swash-bucklers like Zorro on the silver screen. With the help of his friend Joe Shuster, they would create one of the most famous and recognizable superheroes in American history.  What started out as a simple comic book fantasy in 1932 would become bigger than anything they could have dreamed of.

The South didn't fare much better than the Midwest during the Great Depression, and Southerners felt the desperation as well. This was the catalyst that brought the Ku Klux Klan rearing its ugly head in American history once more. The KKK began their sordid reign after the Civil War, but lost some steam and by the 1930's there wasn't much left of the group. Because of the tensions of the times, leaders saw a chance to revive the Klan to target men who would band together and fight for their rights, regardless of disreputable actions.  It was also during their second rise that a new symbol emerged from the KKK which would send fear throughout the nation...the burning cross.

Then there was a boy named Stetson Kennedy.  Growing up in Florida, Stetson was raised in a family based on Southern values.  He was considered free-spirited and spent a lot of his time playing outside, which exposed young Stetson to the shanties where "colored folk" lived and the poor treatment they endured by the whites was noticeable. This left a bad taste in his mouth that later would parlay into a career in exposing the KKK through the mightiest weapon of all...the pen.

With World War II looming in the distance and the fanatical rantings of a lunatic Chancellor in Germany, the KKK began a huge resurgence in membership and power, able to create death and destruction without any repercussions for their actions.  Little did they know that someone else was gaining followers more followers...Superman.  And after the War, he would take on the KKK in a showdown of morality that had lasting impact on Americans everywhere...

Bowers takes two of the most intriguing symbols of good and bad in the annals of American history and writes a narrative of their beginnings, the processes each went through to gain momentum in society, and the power they wielded in American culture.  He also weaves biographies of the creators and leaders of these two entities as well as those closely involved in each.  Bowers compliments his book by filling it with images of the time as well as an interesting afterword on all the people he wrote about in the book. The biggest draw for YA readers to this book is not only the intrigue of the KKK and Superman as iconic images of polar opposites, but the writing that is easily digestible and doesn't come across as textbookish.  Recommended for JH/HS

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Guardian by Julius Lester
any Superman comic book

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Harcourt, 2013

It has been a hundred years since the first of the Four Stages took place. It had a domino effect, leading one leader to drop bombs to decimate other countries...bombs that not only contained radiation but chemicals as well. The last Three Stages was the earth fighting back, creating devastation through natural disasters for years.  The United States, now the United Commonwealth, has colonies set up across the country to not only help civilization survive in a particular region, but also to give each colony a specific job to bolster the Commonwealth in general. The Tuscon Colony has specialists in oil refining.  Five Lakes Colony has a specialist genetically modifying plants to survive in a wasteland the Seven Stages has created, and this is where Cia Vale lives.

She knows her future is uncertain, and more than anything, she wishes she could be a part of the Testing, giving the top graduating students in every colony a chance at a better future. For the last 10 years, no one has been selected from Five Lakes. Cia knows it's a long shot, but continues to be hopeful....and her hopefulness is rewarded the next day when she finds out her name is on the list selected for the Testing. Although she's full of nervous excitement, her father is not happy for her.  He knows...he's been through it himself.  His only piece of advice before she departs is to not trust anyone.  And with that, Cia is transported via skimmer to Tosu City along with Tomas, Zalandri, and Malachi.

The testing will take place in four stages.
Stage One:  the written exam designed to test knowledge.
Stage Two: hands-on examines to test the transference of knowledge into practical use
Stage Three: to determine teamwork as well as assessing other teammates' strengths and weaknesses
Stage Four: testing decision-making and leadership abilities.

Not all will make the final cut.  Cia is up for the challenge and the further into the Testing she goes, the more she understands that it's not only about her abilities of meeting the demands of the tests, but the willingness to survive them as well....

At this moment, dystopia fiction is hot...and there is a lot being published out there for YA readers.  While some feel "empty," others have more substance. Well, YA dystopia lovers, rejoice!  Charbonneau takes the reader into the not only the aftermath of the Seven Stages, but also why they happened, which creates a rich historical background to the story, which make the present more understandable. The characters in the book receive no training or even advance notice about the Testing, which makes the plot thicken to the point where readers will wonder who will pass or fail and which character can they trust. While some proclaim this akin to the Hunger Games, I see it as something very different in the story itself because of all the aforementioned items.  Dystopia is will look the same. But this one has some serious flavor to it!  Sequel is out:  Independent Study. Recommended.

Infographic: Digital Literacy in the 21st Century Classroom and Library

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon

2013, Soho Teen

Three teens living three very different lives have one thing in common, and it will be this commonality that will drive them together.

17 year-old Anat is an Israeli being trained as a soldier.  She knows there will be consequences for her actions, but she doesn't care.  With planning and stealth, she's ready to leave her homeland to be with the love of her life, an Egyptian who's waiting for her on the other side. She's paid her way through a tunnel leading her to freedom, but little does she know the dangers that await her, until it's too late...

17 year-old Declan is a typical Irish teenager trying to make some extra cash.  All he has to do is take a package from one place to another, which doesn't seem that hard.  Until he notices two men trailing him.  The more he speeds up, the more they gain on him. Declan hits a brick wall, literally, and when he turns around, the men are holding guns and the bullets begin flying...

17 year old Sophie lies in bed weak and exhausted. Her family hovers nearby and all she wants is for it all to end.  Terminal cancer keeps her being the normal teen she wants to be, but it also left her with no option.  Now, in a hospital, Sophie knows it's only a matter of time.  And then the darkness begins...

All three wake up in a hospital they don't recall ever seeing.  When they venture out into the hall, they realize there are no doctors or nurses, only a hall with rows of doors.  They don't know each other, and there isn't a lot of trust in this situation, only confusion.  Its becomes even more confusing with the three venture upon three more people who have been there much longer than they have.

The world has changed.  It's not safe outside, but every one of them realizes they must get out there if they are to escape this prison of a hospital.  No one knows what truly lurks out in the dense overgrowth, but the risk is worth the escape.  Six people who have to rely on each other for person could end their lives.  Who can you trust?

Michelle Gagnon writes a science fiction book based on time continuum and parallels, which creates this strange new world readers will find themselves in without feeling lost.  The sense the book evokes is more mystery blended with science fiction, and that is the pairing that makes this book a fast read.  Gagnon's ability to write about six distinct teens creates a diverse canvas where each reader can pick and choose the character they feel are the strongest, and which ones will fall, and ultimately, which one the reader can trust. With such a vibrant background along with the characterization, there is no wonder why this book is a big draw for teen readers.  Recommended 7-12

Monday, September 30, 2013

And if you have any more time for Pinterest....

This is a compiled list I made from all the wonderful suggestions from librarians.  Give me a weekend without interruption!!

The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb: Narrative Non-fiction

World War II will always be remembered as the war that carved death and destruction throughout Europe. The Jewish people were the main target of this "Final Solution" and weren't safe in any country Germany overcame. Ghettos were created as temporary sites, then came the concentration camps...Auschwitz, Birkenau, Treblinka and more. Over 5 million Jews were sent to these death camps and died there. The survivors left and began a new Israeli nation, but they never forgot the horror they experienced.

 The men that played pivotal parts in the "Final Solution" were a group of high-ranked Nazis, given the task to eradicate the Jews. They were the faces of darkness and evil, burned into the memories of the Jewish people who went through the process of genocide. Adolf Eichmann was one of those faces burned into survivors' memories. As head of operations for the "Final Solution, he showed no emotion as he lied to Jews and sent them to be killed without a second thought. At the end of the war, Eichmann went into hiding and was never seen again...until thirteen years later...

While some people actively sought out where he was, there were others who happened to stumble upon the information, and once Eichmann was identified, Israel began an incredibly detailed plot to find, capture and bring him to justice on Israeli soil. This is their story.

 But Bascomb also writes a multi-layered non-fiction book that shows different viewpoints of Jewish survivors, leaders of nations, Nazi war criminals and their families, and innocent people who played a pivotal role in Eichmann's capture. It's also a book about spies and one of the best kept secrets of the time. From Germany to Israel, the United States to Argentina, Bascomb takes the reader on an epic journey to find justice to many who still bore the tattoos of survival. While teens today look at World War II as history from a long time ago, the day Eichmann was sentenced for his war crimes was only a mere fifteen years since the ending of the war and the horrors and scars the Nazi party left behind.

 Taking cues from traditional history of World War II, Bascomb builds on it with the most sensational news and retribution the Jewish nation of Israel went through in the early stages of building a nation. The spies who undertook this effort not only underwent physical stress and turmoil, but it also took an emotional toll on them by forcing them into Eichmann's life and  looking into the eyes of the man who killed their families and friends.

 This is one of those non-fiction books that will reach out to YA readers and keep them riveted until the last page. And when they're doing reading, this story will take them online to find out more. That's the first thing I did after reading the citations (which are interesting in and of itself). It's hard to wrap my mind around this hatred and cold-heartedness of the Nazis, and there were moments in the book that chilled me, but that's what a good book will do. HIGHLY recommended!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stung by Bethany Wiggins

2013, Walker Childrens.

Fiona wakes up to a world of horror.  Dust, death, decay...and demonized humans.  She can't possibly understand how or why she ended up here.  And it's not a nightmare either - it's real.  Looking down at her hand, she sees a tattoo, an oval with five lines extending from both sides.  What is it and why is it there?  She has no idea about anything and feels more than lost in a world she didn't fall asleep in.

Enter the new world of Denver Colorado.  Those who live inside the walls are protected, making sure they aren't contaminated.  There is food, medicine, clean water...everything one needs to live a healthy life, ensuring that humanity has a chance of survival.  The Bowen brothers are part of the militia willing to die to keep their city safe, including taking the most dangerous jobs available - guarding the gates from the humans turned monsters.

Then there are those outside of the wall.  They fight to survive, and many don't make it.  While some on the outside aren't as brutal, there are those who have no more understanding.  They've been completely taken over by the virus and have becoming killing machines.  Besides survival, the only common thing the Others have is that everyone of them bear the tattoo, some with two marks, some with five, some with ten.  And it's the Level 10s that are the deadliest, leaving no survivors...

The time it took for everything to change started slow and then overwhelmed.  The near extinction of bees prompted government intervention, which turned deadly.  Those who received treatment from deadly stings had no idea what it would do to them until it was too late.  Fiona was one of the unlucky ones.

Now, she's running on the outside trying to survive.  The more she runs, the closer she gets to the gates of the wall.  She knows there are things about her that's aren't normal, some things that have changed, making her anger dangerous.  And she's about to meet the militia head-on....

Wiggins writes a book full of intrigue and adventure and the path to world destruction was believable.  She lures the reader into not only a world divided, but one where trust is the most valuable commodity and the world isn't the only thing that's turned ugly.  Although the book begins slower that I anticipated, it didn't take long for me to visualize the world the main character now lives in.  The only disappointing factor was that Fiona is far different from those of Katniss and Tris. While they are kick-A girls, Fiona is much more feminine, not bearing the marks of a strong female equal in strength to strong male characters.  I'm sure the author took into consideration the circumstances of
Fiona's character and wrote about someone just entering this world, not having grown up in it.  I'm hoping to see changes in Fiona in the next installment.  Regardless of what type of girl it is, those readers who live and breathe dystopia will enjoy this story to the end.