Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Dove Craft

One of my colleagues created this wonderful dove pattern, cut out of a single paper plate. I hosted an after school craft program at our library last week, and here are the results.

Here's the sample that I made. It turned out so nice, I used it as a tree-topper.


And a close-up of the sample.


Here's one made by a seven year old. She decided to give her dove a pink scarf.


And this one, made by a three year old. I think it's cute!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I like these blogs!

A few blogs I've run across recently, that I like the looks of.

Hey Rabbit! by new author Sergio Ruzzier. Independent bookstores, classic kidslit, and plenty of sketches and behind-the-scenes look at his own work. I like it!


Ready for a bit of snark? Especially with Kirkus out of the way, we've got to get our negative reviews from somewhere.
I point to Books that Fail to fill the void.


Fellow blogspotter and proud Angeleno Ellen Bloom visits the Central Library in downtown L.A.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saying No

In the Library with the Lead Pipe recently posted an entry about how to say no. It's a timely piece I think. With budgets growing tighter and workloads increasing it does seem impossible to say no these days.

In my case, my problem is that I so greatly enjoy what I'm doing, it's easy for me to end up taking on too much. Opening our new branch has actually worn me out a bit more than I anticipated. I'm doing a weekly storytime, a weekly craft project for older kids, visiting schools and hosting school visits, computer classes for grade schoolers, writing professional book reviews. I'm also selecting new books to purchase, and soliciting book donations to try and keep our shelves from looking so empty. There's nothing on my list of things to do that I'd want to eliminate, it's simply that there aren't enough hours in the day!

I recently found out that I haven't been selected for any committees in ALA this year. On one hand, I'm bummed. But, perhaps it is a blessing in disguise. Right now, I'm working at max capacity. My only fear is that my current numbers will be seen as some kind of "baseline" that should be increased. As tired as I am, the idea of doing still more is tempting. If I could, I'd add a second weekly storytime, so I could do one exclusively for babies, and another for toddlers. I'd add a monthly book club for 3rd through 5th graders. I'd review even more books than I already am and I'd blog more. I worry though, about conserving my energy for the long haul. If training for marathons has taught me anything, it's the wisdom of pacing oneself. For now, I'm sticking with my current already-busy schedule.

By the end of the day, with shortened hours of daylight, it's already dark out and I find myself ready to just hibernate. Consequently, I've been doing a lot of reading and not as much blogging this past week. There's nothing that passes a winter evening so well, as reading in a comfy chair, in front of a crackling fire. I've raced through the whole Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. Read the entire Babymouse series (why did I put this off? They are so wonderful!) Read Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon, Ever and Blue Moon by Alyson Noel and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Friday after work, I was feeling completely wiped, but after a weekend of solid R&R I'm feeling ready to (cautiously) jump back in the fray.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Starred review

I'm very excited that a book I reviewed recently received a star from the School Library Journal. Whether or not a book gets a star is an editorial decision, but I was really rooting for this particular book to get that recognition and I'm so glad that it did!


ZIEFERT, Harriet, with Brian Stokes Mitchell. Lights on Broadway: A Theatrical Tour from A to Z. illus. by Elliot Kreloff. unpaged. w/CD. Blue Apple. 2009. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-1-934706-68-8. LC number unavailable.



K-Gr 5—A love letter to Broadway written with genuine warmth and professional-theater knowledge, this alphabet book features crisp, retro-style cartoon characters confidently racing about onstage and behind the scenes. Pleasantly busy pages capture the excitement of live theater and offer multiple entries for each letter. For example, "A" is for "audition," "actor," "audience," and "applause." "S" stands for "stage," "scenery," "set," and "script." Multiple sidebars offer further kid-friendly definitions. Plenty of star power is lent with quotes from luminaries such as Whoopi Goldberg, Liza Minelli, Steven Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, Carol Channing, and Kevin Kline. A CD single written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty performed by Mitchell is also included. A must for all collections, this book will be treasured by theater aficionados for years to come.—Madigan McGillicuddy, Los Angeles Public Library



I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Books about libraries

To celebrate our new library, I put together a display of books that feature libraries, books or reading.
Here's a partial listing of titles I selected.


Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat
by Sara Miller, illustrated by True Kelley
Houghton Mifflin
1997

Not about "books" per se, but I love the conceit. Sly, very humorous and probably the best use of notoriously difficult second person narration that I've ever seen.


Amelia Bedelia, Bookworm
by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynn Sweat
Greenwillow
2003

Literal-minded Amelia Bedelia helps out at her local library and as can be expected, gets into tons of trouble by doing everything "by the book."


What Do Authors Do?
by Eileen Christelow
Clarion
1995

In cartoon format, demystifies the writing and publishing process for young readers.


That Book Woman
by Helen Henson, illustrated by David Small
Atheneum
2008

Inspired by a traveling librarian, a young Appalachian boy in the 1930's learns to read.


Born to Read
by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown
Knopf
2008

Sam is addicted to reading.



My Librarian is a Camel
Margriet Ruurs
Boyd Mills Press
2005

This non-fiction title features full-color photos of kids around the world, eager to get books however they can.


The Library Dragon
by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Michael P. White
Peachtree Publishers
1994

Mrs. Lotta Scales, the new, suspiciously scaly librarian can get quite fired up when her books aren't treated right.


Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press
by Bruce Kosceilniak
Houghton Mifflin
2003

The true story of how the printing press was invented, with background information about the origins of written language.


Maisy Goes to the Library
by Lucy Cousins
Candlewick
2005

Another solid addition to the very popular Maisy series. The bold outline pictures and the simple story line encourages print motivation as Maisy finds a book, and enjoys a storytime at the library.


You Read to Me, I'll Read to You
by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberly
Little Brown
2001

Poetry for two voices, designed for adults to share with emerging readers.


The Wednesday Surprise
by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Donald Carrick
Clarion Books
1989

A child teaches her immigrant grandmother to read.


Wild About Books
by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown
Knopf
2003

Zoo animals go wild over the bookmobile that comes to visit them.

Library Mouse
by Daniel Kirk
Abrams Books
2007

A shy mouse sneaks out at night to gift the library with his literary creations.


Book! Book! Book!
by Deborah Bruss, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
Arthur A. Levine Books
2001

Animals at the farm demand a library storytime.


Library Lion
by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Candlewick
2006

A lion is welcome to stay in the library... as long as he doesn't break any rules.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Gathering Storm signing


As if I wasn't busy enough with opening a new library, last week I also had the opportunity to volunteer at a book signing for The Gathering Storm by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan, so even though my plate is pretty full these days, I jumped at the chance.


Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series was very close to completion on his death, just over two years ago. When he passed on, his widow, Harriet McDougal selected fantasy author Brandon Sanderson to complete the series. Sanderson is the author of the Mistborn Chronicles, Elantris, Warbreaker and the Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians middle-grade fiction series. Sanderson has now completed the third to last book of the Wheel of Time and was just finishing his four week tour as he came to the Los Angeles.


Myself and the other volunteers met Brandon Sanderson for dinner at a Roy's Hawaiian fusion restaurant across the street from Vroman's Bookstore. It was a pleasant evening, with temperatures in the mid to high 60's. As soon as our food arrived, Brandon requested a salt shaker. (He is notoriously fond of salt.) Someone asked if now that he was a father, if Brandon would ever end up writing things inspired by his son. He said, "No," because he'd heard that M. Night Shyamalan had written Lady in the Water based on a story for his children. We ended up talking about Shamalayan for a while. And Brandon said he felt that because his first few twist endings had gone so well, it seemed like Shyamalan was putting in a twist to everything, whether it needed one or not. He said he hoped that The Last Airbender, Shyamalan's current project would be successful for him. We didn't spend the whole night talking about Shyamalan, however.


Several of us asked Brandon what the status was on Robert Jordan's prequel novels, or Outrigger novels, and if those would ever be completed. Brandon responded by telling us that Harriet has said, "You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. And know when to walk away." And as to what that means, is anyone's guess. I asked Sanderson if there was any news on his Alcatraz series, and he said he'd completed the fourth book in the series and that a lot of major plotlines have been resolved. There's still plenty of questions left unanswered. It's possible he might return to it. But, for now, he has completed his contract on the Alcatraz books. He was much more excited about his upcoming projects. He said he might do a second trilogy set in the Mistborn world, taking place at least a hundred years after the events of the first trilogy. It would be urban fantasy, with magic and guns. He didn't use the word "steampunk" but that's how it sounded to me. He told us a little bit about his new Way of Kings series, which sounds like truly mega-epic fantasy, in a magic-rich environment with characters who wear powerful magic-imbued plate armor.


After dinner, we reconvened at the bookstore where we met with the store representative, who along with Brandon, outlined what everyone's roles would be for the evening. The store seemed a little underprepared -- they clearly weren't expecting the crowd of over 150 fans who gathered, and they sold out of nearly everything. Then again, Brandon wasn't number one on the New York Times bestseller list when he first booked the signing, either! Our store liaison explained that the store closed at 9 pm, and when Brandon told her that he'd never completed a signing before 10:30, she looked a little crestfallen, but quickly went about getting clearance for the store to stay open a little later.


The waiting crowd


The Storm Leaders handed out bumper stickers along with a Wheel of Time quiz and word search game to the crowd. A big shout-out to super-fan Bryan who'd snagged a front row seat and started the celebratory mood by saying, "On behalf of everyone, can I just say... Whoooo!" and let out an earth-shaking roar of appreciation, which was roundly applauded. Brandon said, "Can I get you to do that at every signing? That was awesome!"


Sanderson started out by explaining that he was nearing the end of a massive four-week tour, and apologized if he sounded a little "loopy". He then proceeded to give a wonderfully engaging talk, and answered a brief Q and A. A number of fans have probably heard the story of how he wanted to work with Tor publishing, because that was where Robert Jordan was published, and he shared that with the audience. He read from the prologue of The Gathering Storm, a passage that he said was nearly pure Jordan. During the Q and A session, he gave a couple of RAFOs.* Moraine? RAFO. Asmodean? RAFO. Someone in the audience asked "If a channeler opened a gateway, would it be possible for them to balefire themselves? What would happen?" Brandon said that he had heard Robert Jordan give a more ribald answer to that same question once, (RJ had responded something to the effect of, "You need to get laid.") but for Sanderson's part, all he could say was RAFO, as there's certain to be plenty of balefire at the Last Battle in the upcoming finale.


Before the signing, a signed poster and several Wheel of Time comic books were raffled off.


During the signing, I noticed that Brandon took a moment to chat with each and every person who stood in line. By the end of the night, his signature resembled a stylized loop more than anything else, but his energy and attention for the attendees never wavered.


With one of his youngest fans, an Alcatraz reader.


I spent nearly three hours canvassing the crowd of over 150 of the people who turned out for the signing. What struck me the most was the diversity of the group. There were fans who'd been reading Wheel of Time for over 15 years. There were a number of people who'd started the series about 6 months ago, and raced through the whole set to get caught up. There were even a few people who had just started reading WoT that night! I talked to a lot of Mistborn and Elantris fans who were new to the Wheel of Time, and a lot of Wheel of Time fans who were going back and enjoying Sanderson's epic fantasy novels. There were Alcatraz fans both young and old. People came from all over the Southland, but the person who traveled the longest flew down from Sacramento. Another person in line was from Houston. Parents really appreciated Brandon's announcement that people with young children, and those in wheelchairs, should feel free to come up to the start of the line. The way Brandon announced this reminded me of pre-flight boarding -- no doubt it something he has a lot of experience with, considering all the traveling he's been doing this month!


Chatting up the crowd


We gifted Brandon with a care basket, including cough drops, salty snacks and a set of blue foil Magic cards. At just after 10 pm, we gathered outside of the bookstore, for a picture, before Brandon headed back to his hotel and on to Seattle the next day.





*Read and Find Out

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Ever Shrinking Collection

I thought it would be fun to take a look at how our shelves are looking at the new branch.



Here we are, just before opening.



The stuffed animals were generously donated by someone in administration. The shelves are looking pretty full (but not overstuffed) and we are ready to finally be open!

Here we are, this photo was taken approximately five minutes after we opened our doors for the first time.


About a week later, here is local author, Brigitte Benchimol, reading from her book Jayden and the Magic Bubble: Discovering India. You'll notice the shelves behind her look a little less fluffy than they did before.
And this picture is after we'd been open for 10 days.
Those shelves look pretty saggy baggy don't they? It's not surprising, considering that we've had over 17 thousand people visit us in our first two weeks. Well, it's heartwarming to see so many people taking advantage of our fabulous collection. So, those books are out, all over town, but they'll be back. And in the meantime, we'll be shopping for more (as budget and time allows) to fill the shelves.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What a week

What a couple of weeks, actually!
Our new branch is open, and fully operational. It's been busy, and wonderful.

We hosted a huge event with the mayor and other city officials on Monday morning, followed by an "Open House" the next Saturday, hosted by our Friends of the Library group.

I've been meaning to post this for what seems like ages (but is only a few days, I suppose) breaks at work are pretty much nonexistent right now, and the shortened hours of daylight have left me feeling ready to hibernate like a bear by the time I get home from work.

I've got a few photos of our opening day to share.

Mayor Villaraigosa, Councilmember Eric Garcetti, and City Librarian Martín Gómez cut the ribbon.



Students from St. Teresa of Avila School Chorus sing at the opening event.



Mayor Villaraigosa and City Librarian Martín Gómez listen to the chorus.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vampire Week Day 7: Reformed Vampire Support Group



If "hell is being locked in a room with your friends" then 15-year-old Nina Harrison has served more than her fair share of time in hell. Turned into a vampire in 1973, Nina's spent the last 35 years attending an AA-style support group in the basement of a Catholic church with a small population of Australian vampires. They are catty and backbiting, and in general, sick of their situation, and sick of each other.

In a reaction against the shiny, super-powered vamps that are all the rage today, Nina and her rag-tag crew are complete weaklings. Vampirism is transferred by biting, and vampires don't age, but they must deal with debilitating malaise. They have about as much energy and enthusiasm as an Epstein-Barr sufferer. They crave human blood, but subsist on guinea pigs and endure stomach problems (including frequent vomiting) as a result. They slip into a unbreakable coma during daylight hours, and are so sensitive to light, they must wear sunglasses at night to avoid being blinded by car headlights or bright street lamps. In short, they are completely pathetic.

Most of the vampires struggle financially as well, finding it difficult to support themselves when they can only work night shifts and lack valid I.D.s. Nina probably has the easiest time, as she still lives with her elderly mother, and earns a decent living as the author of The Bloodstone Chronicles about Zadia Bloodstone, a fantasy vampire who is as sexy and energetic as the real vampires are not. Most of the other vampires turn to internet work from home jobs, or arrange shady under the table deals.

When Casimir, their vampire sire, is staked, Nina volunteers to travel with fellow vampire Dave, and their group leader, Father Ramon to investigate a lead on the case. Hoping to negotiate with the slayer, they feel certain when the person responsible sees how truly fragile and helpless they are, he'll give up hunting them. They soon uncover a werewolf fight club, and rescue good-looking Reuben from the menacing death match organizer Barry McKinnon. While I appreciated Nina's sense of humor, and enjoyed the Australian slang used liberally throughout the book, the sheer glumness of the vampires' situation made me feel like staking them would be a mercy. The sequel, The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group isn't due out until 2011, but I can't say that it will be eagerly anticipated.


I borrowed this book from the public library.

Vampire Week Day 6: Evernight

Evernight

by Claudia Gray

HarperTeen

2008


This story gets to a slow start as shy Bianca is getting ready to start at a new school, the Evernight Academy, an exclusive boarding school. An only child, she's extremely close to her parents. She's a little relieved that because her mother and father are both academics who have secured teaching positions at the school, so they won't be far. The tone of the book is moody, atmospheric and a bit gothic. However! There is a stupendous twist which changes EVERYTHING a little more than halfway through the book. Everybody you thought was normal: isn't. Everybody who you thought were the good guys? They're really the bad guys. Wow! It's an action-packed adventure after that, as Bianca and her boy-crush Lucas both come to terms with their heritage which, much like Romeo and Juliet, might make their romance impossible. Stick with it through the slow pace of first third of the book (don't cheat by turning directly to page 136!) and you'll be riveted by the end.




Stargazer

by Claudia Gray

HarperTeen

2009


Be warned: spoilers abound in this review! The cat is out of the bag in this second installment in the Evernight series. High school student Bianca is the daughter of two vampires. Her parents anticipate that she is on the cusp of changing over to become a full-fledged vampire soon. In the meantime, she is studying at Evernight Academy and has developed feelings for one of other students. Lucas secured his place at the school in order to spy for The Black Cross, a vigilante group of vampire hunters, but is now on the run. Bianca's arranged some secret meetings with him, and as a "cover" has started "dating" Balthazar, an older vampire at the school whom her parents approve of. While she's beginning to feel the effects of changing over into an undead, she's also beginning to question everything she's ever believed. She thought she was a rarity: a vampire child conceived of vampire parents. But, is she in fact a full-blooded human? Have her sweet-tempered parents been deceiving her? Has she actually been adopted (or stolen?) and have her parents just been "playing house" with her? She's also starting to wonder why school authorities have admitted human students (who are unaware of the vampiric history of the school) for the first time. These questions will be sure to resonate with older teens who are skeptical of authority. Top it off with Bianca's burgeoning powers, including seeing malevolent ghosts, and a dash of forbidden romance, this series is another go-to must for Twilight fans.

I borrowed all of these books from the public library.

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