Sunday, March 29, 2009

Feltboard Fun

Most children's librarians have a few areas that they enjoy or specialize in more than others.  Some librarians are puppeteers, some are excellent at ferreting out free guest performers, some are handy with crafts.  Me, I'm a felt board kind of gal.

I'm a huge fan of Judy Sierra's wonderful book, The Flannel Board Storytelling Book.  The stories are easy and work well with young audiences.  The patterns are very, very easy to follow and turn out quite nicely.

Inspired by the cover, I decided to tackle The Enormous Turnip.  I'm rather pleased with it!  I did take a few liberties... I added the stripe to the turnip, as it just didn't look right to me without it.  I also added some spots on the dog, and stripes on the cat to make a proper orange tabby.  Gluing the pieces onto a black felt backing gives a nice almost stencil-like effect, I think.

But, oh, look at this!  Take away the turnip.  Add a nurse, and a piece of cheese, and now we have, The Farmer in the Dell!

I love that these little felt board characters can "star" in several different stories.  I'm thinking I may want to create a feltboard clock for the mouse, for Hickory Dickory Dock, and maybe one day I'll try to add a cow and other pieces for Hey Diddle, Diddle.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Yes, yes, I know, I'm late to the party, but I've recently (in the past year or so) discovered podcasts and have been listening to them while noodling around on the computer, or while reading.  Most of them are terribly, terribly geeky.  Consider yourself warned.

I like Wil Wheaton's occasional podcast, Radio Free Burrito.  It mostly features music and a bit of commentary from Mr. Wheaton.  Various random fans have begged him to appear on Geekson.  Geekson features four friends, sitting around a table, shooting the breeze about what's new in science-fiction.   

After listening to all of those, I was desperate to find something similar and dug up a couple of options.  Skepticality is hosted by Derek and Swoopy, and is solidly aimed at the science-loving, atheist set.  They bring a lot of interesting guests on for interviews, from Lori Lipman Brown with the Secular Coalition for America to authors like Scott Sigler, who advocates for digital publishing (and, in turn, does several podcasts of his own.)  Derek and Swoopy have mentioned several times (with scorn) the "woo-woo" podcast, put out by GhostHunters.  Naturally, I had to investigate for myself.

That also led me to Slice of Sci-Fi, one of the many online radio shows put out by FarPoint Media.  There are years of archives of those, and hundreds of hours to catch up on.  In some ways, I like Slice of Sci-Fi better than Geekson, because even though it has a more formal feel to it, I like that they have a woman, Summer Brooks, as a regular member of their cast.  The creators of FarPoint Media all have backgrounds in traditional radio, and in many ways their podcasts appear to follow the standard am radio format.  Two male co-hosts generally razz each other, a female co-host rounds out the trio, and several technical guys can be heard occasionally puttering about in the background.  Geekson does have very rare guest appearances by Lisa Lassek, but it just isn't the same.  I haven't gotten the chance to check out another FarPoint show yet: Dragon Page Cover to Cover, where the hosts interview sci-fi and fantasy authors.  Dragon Page has got archives going all the way back to 2000.

Another podcast which I'm very excited about is Daniel Pinkwater's new radio show.  There's only one episode up so far, but it sounds great!  I remember when Mr. Pinkwater used to do guest spots on NPR's All Things Considered and parents and teachers would go berserk trying to find the books mentioned on his show on Saturday mornings, as he'd always find the most wonderful, offbeat and obscure new children's stories.

I do feel I should mention the Los Angeles Public Library podcasts, even though it doesn't seem as if they've added any new children's authors in a while.  The Tattered Cover independent bookstore has a weekly podcast featuring author interviews called, Authors on Tour.  The recent Ann Brashares podcast was terrific.  

There's so much out there and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Laurie Halse Anderson

This past week, I had the opportunity to see Laurie Halse Anderson give a presentation and book signing. She was tall and slender, with long brown hair and a very relaxed, hip vibe. I was surprised, because she always looks so serious in her headshots!

There was a group of teens in the audience who showed up to get extra-credit for a high school English class. She won them over right away by asking if they had any quizzes on any of her books coming up, and if so, she'd be happy to help them "cheat" by telling them all the answers. She talked about how she feels the "classics" are overused in high school. She spoke at length about The Scarlet Letter, and how, as a teenager, she hated it! None of the symbolism made sense to her. She advocated for giving teens books about current topics that they are interested in and pointed out that the classics weren't going anywhere... you have your whole life to tackle them. Some of the issues covered in the classics seemed more relevant to her once she had the life experience to process it.

She showed off her literary tattoo, the first word from Beowulf, "Hwaet!" on her wrist. She chided her friend and fellow author, Sonia Sones, who was in the audience, "Where's your tattoo? C'mon, life's short! Ya gotta get some ink!" The teens in the audience all laughed at that remark. Her daughter has a matching tattoo, and she jokingly suggested that, these days, getting a tattoo together could be a great bonding activity to do with your parents.

She told us quite a bit about her new book, Wintergirls, about a girl who is haunted and struggling to overcome an eating disorder. It sounds like there are a lot of Persephone (from the Greek pantheon) references in it, as well as some Sleeping Beauty themes. And she talked a little about Speak, and how the publisher is coming out with a 10th anniversary edition. I only recently learned that Speak had been made into a movie a couple of years ago and she spoke a little bit about that as well. It was made for a very low budget, just about a million dollars. But it starred the then-unknown Kristen Stewart, now of Twilight fame. Anderson admitted that she’s not much of a Twilight fan, and doesn’t read much YA fiction at all, partly because she’s a picky reader, but mostly because she prefers to write her own stuff.

I’m glad I got the chance to see her, as I don’t think she visits the West Coast that often. I tried snapping some photos, but sadly, they’re all so blurry, none of them turned out! Even though Wintergirls sounds like it will be a very intense read, I’m now eager to get cracking at it, once my “books to be read” shelf dies down a bit.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ripped from the headlines

The Chosen One 

In a story ripped right from today’s headlines, this novel details Kyra’s harrowing escape from an orthodox polygamous cult. Intrigued by the premise, I picked up this ARC at ALA-Midwinter. The book is due to be published in June, 2009. Author Carol Lynch Williams seems like the Mormon answer to Judy Blume. With a few series about Mormon pioneer girls and a few other girls’ coming-of-age novels under her belt, this may finally be her moment to shine.

The story is riveting. Growing up home-schooled in a rural, isolated religious compound, 13-year-old Kyra doesn’t share the complete faith and unwavering fundamental Mormon principles of her father, three mothers and 20 brothers and sisters. Her burgeoning feelings for a young man in her community and growing uneasiness with the Prophet’s tightening grip on their families forces her to keep secrets.

One of Kyra’s few forbidden pleasures finally provides the key to her escape. Unbeknownst to her family, she’s been sneaking out to meet the local library book truck and devouring verboten treasures such as Bridge to Terabithia, The Borrowers, Harry Potter and Doctor Seuss.

When the Prophet declares that she is to be placed in marriage, as the seventh wife to her own 60-year-old uncle, Kyra spends the following weeks in a heightened state of panic. Her parents’ appeals to the Prophet fail to sway his decision. After Kyra receives a thorough beating, along with threats to her family, she feels she has no choice but to acquiesce to the marriage.

Initially intending just to say goodbye to Patrick the book truck driver, she ends up accepting his offer of a passage to safety. Unfortunately, the librarian is killed by the cult after a high-speed chase. This does allow Kyra access to the book mobile however, leading to a very suspenseful escape where she has to manage to drive the vehicle herself.

Featuring the high-stakes drama of a nightmarish trap that Kyra must manage to wriggle free of, I see no reason why this book couldn’t join the ranks of other arranged marriage YA novels such as Shabanu, Catherine Called Birdy or The Romance Reader.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

That's Some Goat


Oh, how I longed for a pet goat when I was a child! So many of my friends had goats and they gave them the dullest, most obvious names. Billy. Nanny. Cappy.

I swore if I were ever lucky enough to get a pet goat, surely I'd give it a name with a little more pizzazz than that. While "Trudy" had never crossed my mind as a potential name, it surely would have if this book had been around when I was younger.

Prolific children's book illustrator Henry Cole has put together a captivating goat tale. Esme goes with her grandfather to the county auction to look for an animal to purchase. Nothing feels quite right. Holsteins are too big. Grandmother is allergic to feathers, so birds are out. Pigs are too stinky.

Wonder of wonders, here in a corner of the barn is a sign, "'Trudy' Free to Good Home” Trudy, of course, turns out to be a shy looking goat, with just a hint of sass behind her demure eyelashes. Grandpa chortles that the price is right, and Esme and Trudy quickly become fast friends. Esme takes care of Trudy, reads to her and even talks to her about her day. Astute readers will notice little details such as Esme reading "Jack's Garden" (also by Henry Cole) to Trudy.

Soon, Esme notices that whenever Trudy retreats to her barn, snow is certain to follow. A steady following for the prognostic goat emerges and the local townsfolk don’t hesitate to make Trudy a media sensation. (One is reminded strongly of a particularly famous "Some Pig") One illustration shows a bumper sticker affixed to a neighbor's car, "I Get My Weather Reports from TRUDY" and shortly after, we see a two-page spread with late 50's model cars, pick-up trucks and news crews circled round Trudy's modest shed. An enterprising townsperson has even set up a hot cocoa stand.

This last time, it's not snow however, that keeps Trudy in, rather, it’s a brand new “kid” for her to take care of.

Cole's gentle acrylic illustrations are almost reminiscent of watercolor, with a nice balance between vignettes of Esme and Trudy and full-spread illustrations of the farm. I loved this book… for anyone wanting to look at a charming old-fashioned story about an unusual pet, this would be a terrific read.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Books Read in 2008

My goal this past year was to read 100 books (or more!) and... drumroll please! I managed to read only 98.


I was close. So close!
*shakes fist at sky*

I did include on the list a few books (a very few) that I only skimmed and a few very easy chapter books written for kids.

I did not include picture books. I'm sure if I included those, I'd have over a thousand, as I sometimes read well over a hundred picture books in a month for my job.

I read several series last year that I really enjoyed, mostly about vampires. Twilight, Vampire Academy, Sookie Stackhouse, House of Night, War of the Spider Queen (technically, this last isn't about vampires, but drow, still, they are evil creatures of the night).

Will I ever read over a hundred novels in a year? I just don't know. Maybe not? I really pushed myself this past year and I think I would have had more fun if I'd paced myself a little more. Maybe one of these years I'll be totting things up and pleasantly surprise myself at the end of the year, but I don't imagine I'll make as much of a conscious effort again anytime soon.

And, with no further ado, here is the complete list.

1 Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
2 Privilege - Ross Douglas Douthat
3 Turnabout - Margaret Haddix
4 The Shephard, The Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog - Dave Barry
5 Women Who Love Too Much - Robin Norwood
6 Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean - Justin Somper
7 Feathers - Jacqueline Woodson
8 The Secret of the Crocodiles - Karen Wallace
9 Escape - Carolyn Jessop and Laura Palmer
10 Beyond the Highland Mist - Karen Marie Moning
11 Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (and their employees) - Patrick M. Lencioni
12 Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish - Joe Mackall
13 A Drowned Maiden's Hair - Laura Amy Schlitz
14 I Heart My In-Laws: Falling in Love With His Family... Dina Koutas Poch
15 Extras - Scott Westerfeld

16 Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village - Laura Amy Schlitz

17 The Wednesday Wars - Gary D. Schmidt
18 Emma-Jean Lazurus Fell Out of a Tree - Lauren Tarshis

19 The City of Dreaming Books - Walter Moers
20 The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets: An Enola Holmes Mystery - Nancy Springer
21 Silent Partner: A Memoir of my Marriage - Dina Matos McGreevey
22 So Yesterday - Scott Westerfeld
23 DramaCon 1 - Svetlana Chmakova
24 DramaCon 2 - Svetlana Chmakova
25 DramaCon 3 - Svetlana Chmakova
26 The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America - Daniel Brook
27 Helping the Difficult Library Patron: New Approaches to Examining and Resolving a Long-Standing and Ongoing Problem - Kwasi Sarkodie-Mensah

28 Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys - ed. Melissa de la Cruz
29 Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken (re-read)
30 The Host - Stephenie Meyer
31 Living Among Meat Eaters - Carol J. Adams Mongolian
32 Cloud Houses: How to Make a Yurt and Live Comfortably - Dan Frank Kuehn
33 Yurts: Living in the Round - Becky Kemery
34 Big Ideas for Small Spaces - Christine Brun Abdelnour
35 How to Live in Small Spaces - Terence Conran
36 Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs - Elissa Wall with Lisa Pulitzer
37 The Showrunners: A Season Inside the Billion-Dollar Death-Defying, Madcap World of Television's Real Stars - David Wild

38 Devil May Cry - Sherrilyn Kenyon
39 Dead Man in Indian Creek - Mary Downing Hahn
40 Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Along with Difficult People - Brandon Toropov
41 The Declaration - Gemma Malley
42 Men Who Can't Love: How to Recognize a Commitment Phobic Man Before He Breaks Your Heart - Steven Carter and Julia Sokol
43 The Quality of Life Report - Meghan Daum
44 True Talents - David Lubar
45 Doing It For Money: The Agony and Ecstasy of Writing and Surviving in Hollywood - Darl G. Nickens

46 The Big Book of Candles: Over 40 Step-by-Step Candlemaking Projects - Heaser
47 Adding Character With Architectural Details - Paula Marshall
48 Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride - Helen Halstead
49 Sterkarm Kiss - Susan Price
50 Celebrity Detox - Rosie O'Donnell
51 Marked - P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
52 The Sea Trolls - Nancy Farmer
53 Betrayed - P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
54 Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
55 Little Brother - Cory Doctorow

56 My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru - Tim Guest
57 It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff - Peter Walsh
58 My Misspent Youth - Meghan Daum
59 Stori Telling - Tori Spelling
60 The Boyfriend Test - Wendy L. Walsh
61 Losing It - Valerie Bertinelli
62 Saffron Days in L.A.: Tales of a Buddhist Monk in America - Bhante Wolpola Piyananda
63 Defusing the Angry Patron - Rhea Joyce Rubin

64 Unwind - Neal Schusterman
65 Gifts - Ursula K. LeGuin
66 Confessions of a Backup Dancer - Tucker Shaw
67 Audrey Wait! - Robin Benway
68 Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library - Don Borchert
69 How to Organize Just About Everything - Peter Walsh
70 Alice's Birthday Pig - Tim Kennemore
71 Chosen - P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
72 Keeping the Night Watch - Hope Anita Smith
73 Does My Head Look Big in This? - Randa Abdel-Fattah
74 How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds 75 Lighter, 10 Times Better - Charla Krupp
75 Dissolution - Richard Lee Byers

76 Chasing Vermeer - Blue Balliett
77 Quiet Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian - Scott Douglas
78 Love Hina vol. 1 - Ken Akamatsu
79 The Audacity of Hope - Barack Obama
80 Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead
81 Insurrection - Thomas M. Reid
82 Untamed - P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
83 A Year in Van Nuys - Sandra Tsing Loh

84 Sarah Simpson's Rules for Living - Rebecca Rupp
85 Stopping a Stalker: A Cop's Guide to Making the System Work for You - Robert L. Snow
86 The Mouse Family Robinson - Dick King-Smith
87 Blubberland: The Dangers of Happiness - Elizabeth Farrelly
88 Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
89 When a Lady Misbehaves - Michelle Marcos
90 Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris

91 Love Hina vol. 2 - Ken Akamatsu
92 Airhead - Meg Cabot
93 Mother on Fire - Sandra Tsing Loh
94 Dead as a Doornail - Charlaine Harris
95 StarCross - Philip Reeve
96 Definitely Dead - Charlaine Harris
97 All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris
98 House Lust - Daniel McGinn

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I did today

  • Today I had a Toddler Storytime, followed by a Baby Storytime.  I had many puppets to "help" me and sang "I'm a Little Teapot" at least 4 times.
  • I cleared 3 carts worth of donated books.  (Mostly travel books from the late eighties, early nineties.)
  • Then, I had a brief meeting with my boss about how we’ll be rearranging the schedule when we’ll be short-staffed in the upcoming few weeks.  Storytime might get cancelled.
  • I drank 3 cups of coffee and ate two donuts to revive myself for the afternoon.
  • Then, I researched online which Spanish children's fiction to purchase. (I don't speak Spanish.)
  • I pulled about 60 picture books for a teacher doing a unit on “Cowboys”
  • Oh, I also taught senior citizens how to CUT and PASTE today on this fabulous thing called, "The Internets" (funniest question ever: "Can you just print out everything that's on the internet for me, so I can review it myself at home, before we get started on the real computer?")
  • I settled a disagreement between a disgruntled patron and a clerk.
  • I fumbled with creating some sample crafts for our "Spring Party" at the library tomorrow.
  • I helped someone request an extramural library loan of a rare book located in Colorado.
  • I drove home and admired the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.


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