5th Grade Booktalks #1 (Graveyard Book, Rapunzel’s Revenge, Fake Mustache, Never Smile at a Monkey)

A few years ago when I was just starting library school it occurred to me that this blog could do a lot of things. It had already been a writing sample for my grad school application and scholarship applications. It already worked to demonstrate my expertise. But, I realized, as I learned about outreach and class visits, it could also serve as a repository for book talks.

Which I got to put into practice recently during my first ever class visit where I talked to a group of fifth graders.

After asking them what the library does (and filling in some gaps where they missed some things librarians do!) it was time for booktalks.

To prepare for booktalks I re-read the ones I had ready from blog reviews (or wrote a new one as needed). I then wrote the booktalks on post-its to stick to the back of the book and marked any pages I wanted to highlight. I don’t memorize booktalks and I didn’t read the post-its but just writing them out was a help in getting the salient points into my head for the visit. Since I also knew I’d be presenting to a group (rather than one patron) I also knew I wanted to keep things interactive much as I did for my talk about what the library and librarians do.

The Graveyard Book coverFirst I talked about The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Before my booktalk I told students that this book was a riff on The Jungle Book but with ghosts. Almost no one ever knows what that means because I guess The Jungle Book isn’t as popular with kids now as it was when I was a kid but I still like to mention it. Then I warned students that this book was scary and it had one of the scariest first pages I had ever seen. Then I showed them the page. I My booktalk for the students was basically the summary part of my review but shortened slightly (like my booktalk started at paragraph three if you really want to see what I did).

Next I talked about Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger which I have not read. I do know the plot, read reviews and skimmed the book. I’ve also talked it up a lot previously when I was working at the bookstore. In addition to talking about how much trouble a fake mustache can cause when your best friend tries to take over the world, I also showed a couple of the illustrations. Because kids love illustrations.

Rapunzel's Revenge coverAfter that I talked up Rapunzel’s Revenge by all of the Hales (I call them a Hale storm in my free time because it entertains me). Again my booktalk was distilled from my review. I also made sure to mention this was a retelling of Rapunzel with a wild west sensibility and also highlight some illustrations. I showed an early page and one where Rapunzel is using her braids as a lasso.

I rounded out the visit by talking about Never Smile at a Monkey by Steve Jenkins at the suggestion of Ingrid AKA the Magpie Librarian. I won’t lie, dear readers, I had doubts. But then I picked a couple pages at random talking about what you should and shouldn’t do and it basically blew the kids’ minds. I didn’t do a lot of prep for this one. Just post-it marked the pages and then read from the book about what a terrible idea it is to interact with any animal ever.

I then further blew the kids’ minds by giving them free stuff. Which I don’t actually recommend doing during the visit. It’s a lot easier to show the stuff and then hand it off to the teacher to give out later when the kids are no longer in the library.

The really cool thing (and I’m not taking much credit here because it was mostly the books being fantastic) is that I ran out of books. The kids were jostling to see who could look at or check out every single title I booktalked (which is why it’s also good to pick books that have multiple copies if possible). I’m not a rockstar or a rockstar librarian or anything but it was pretty cool.

As I have other class visits I might talk more about what did and didn’t work for my own reference (and for any readers who are interested) but while we’re all here, what books have you used for 5th grade class visits that were a huge success?

Monday Memories: A Map of the Known World

Monday Memories is a weekly feature hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. Just take a photo of a book from your personal library (or a library book that’s significant to you, etc.) and talk about why it matters. Is it your first ever signed book? The first book you reviewed on your blog? Whatever it is, write it up in a Monday Memories post and share it. Just please link back if you decide to join!

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Today for Monday Memories I’m talking about A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell.

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann SandellThis is one of the first arcs I read and reviewed on the blog. I received it in my first few months as a member of Amazon’s Vine program. It was also one of the first books I reviewed where an author added my review to their website. I also read this book right near one of the first signings I attended (the one I mentioned last Monday)

Because I’m an idiot, I didn’t bring this particular ARC to the signing BUT Lisa Ann Sandell was there and I got a cop of her verse novel Song of the Sparrow signed at the time. I also told Lisa I had already read and loved this forthcoming title. And if you read my summary of the signing you might notice that Lisa left a comment :)

I loved this book and still recommend it all the time and think about it a lot. What’s a book you still find yourself thinking about years later?

To join, click the Inlinkz frog below to link up. Then see what everyone else has to say :)

Week in Review: September 28

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This week on the blog you can check out:

This week was fairly uneventful which was nice and much needed. This month has been kind of hard because it’s the year mark for when my aunt died last year so my mom and I have been feeling it. Her birthday also would have been October first and Halloween was her favorite holiday so a lot of it is just not happy making. We are also nearing the year mark for mom’s brain surgery which is hitting me harder than it probably should but I’ll get over it eventually. I feel whiny talking about all of this because of course I don’t have a corner on the loss market, but it’s just hard. And it’s hard to be unhappy and not really know why until you look at a calendar and remember what happened the year before. I’m kind of looking forward to being past October but maybe it will have some good things in store that can make new memories. Who knows?

Mom and I got a ton of mail but I love mail so that was fine by me. Nothing interesting enough to write about except I have an ARC of Soul Print by Megan Miranda now thanks to Bloomsbury Kids.

As you read this I will be getting ready to go to a book signing with Nicole the Book Bandit as we do. After not seeing her for ages, I am very pleased by this.

Work is going well. I’m getting ready to start a crochet club and I might be blogging about my first ever school visit soon. I want to make more time to do things outside of work but it’s a process.

I’m also gearing up for Monday Memories which, if you have a blog or even if you don’t, I hope you’ll join!

How was your week?

Thirteen Reasons Why: A Banned Book Review

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherHannah Baker killed herself two weeks ago. No one knows exactly why, least of all Clay Jensen.

Clay had a crush on Hannah and watcher her from afar. He even saw her at a party once. Before.

But now, two weeks after her suicide, Clay comes home to find a box with his name on it. Inside the box are thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah before she killed herself. Each tape details one of the reasons that Hannah decided to take her own life.

Clay is one of them in Thirteen Reasons Why (2007) by Jay Asher.

Find it on Bookshop.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a haunting story told in Clay and Hannah’s alternating narrations as Clay deals with his guilt and grief over losing Hannah with flashbacks (from the tapes) of Hannah detailing the moments that led to her suicide.

This book was one of the ten most challenged books in 2012. The justification for the challenge was: “Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group.”

Starting this story with the knowledge that Hannah is already gone does little to diminish the emotional resonance of this story. Asher’s writing is evocative and taut as he brings Clay and Hannah painfully to life.

This is an honest story and one that isn’t always the easiest to read. Clay and Hannah both make mistakes as do many of the other people readers meet over the course of Hannah’s story. Ultimately it is these flaws that make the story so poignantly real.

Thirteen Reasons Why is an ideal book for readers who aren’t afraid to shed a few tears. This story is sure to linger with readers long after the story ends.

Possible Pairings: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson, The Secret Side of Empty by Maria J. Andreu, The After Girls by Leah Konen, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban, Falling Through Darkness by Carolyn MacCullough, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers, The List by Siobhan Vivian

Quick Displays for Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week from September 21 to September 27.

Banned Books Week is a week-long event to raise awareness about the dangers of banned books as well as to celebrate the intellectual freedom that people enjoy by reading books and having books available in their libraries or schools.

If you want to know more you can visit BannedBooks.Org. The American Library Association also has a handy Banned Books Week landing page with a lot more information. School Library Journal also has compiled many useful resources.

At my library we were floating around a lot of ideas but sadly a lot of our ideas came a bit too late to implement ahead of Banned Books Week.

But today I had some time to put together some quick displays based on these amazing Banned Books mugshots that the head of my department found here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/briangalindo/5-criminal-mugshots-of-characters-from-banned-books#2wgtn3j

We made color printouts of each mug shot with an attribution credit as well as a sign noting when Banned Books Week takes place. I had also wanted to start an interactive display/trivia thing to get teens free books so our first question is asking teens to identify the books from which the mugshots were selected to win a book.

Then I put out a lot of banned books from our collection.

Here’s the finished product:

Since this is not the only display space we have in the teen area, I decided to make another display.

For that display I had an extra mugshot of Holden and I made a quick sign in PicMonkey. For the sign I found a Lorem Ipsum image that I could use at the background and then added text to it saying “Exercise YOUR Right to Read” and again added the dates for Banned Books Week and put some books around it.

Here’s that display:

(If you have noticed a typo, don’t worry because I did too. When I went out to fix it I even saw a girl browsing some of the books on the tabletop display.)

Given the time spent, I’m pretty happy with how everything looks and I plan on using this sign/book display in future to keep things fresh because it’s a lot easier than having images mounted on walls (especially since we don’t have much wall space). I particularly like my sign talking about the right to read because it brings it back to the idea of intellectual freedom and I generally think anything with Lorem Ipsum involved looks pretty neat.

What are you doing to mark Banned Books Week at your school or library or blog or  just in your heart?

The Unbound: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The UnboundMackenzie Bishop is a Keeper for the the Archive–a library where the dead rest on shelves like books–where she works to keep violent Histories from escaping their shelves.

Last summer she almost lost her life to one such History.

In the intervening months Mac has tried to get her life back together–as much as it can be when she spends so much time lying to everyone she knows and lurking in shadows. But with nightmares that feel real, a new school, and members of the Archive who would sooner see her removed than recovered, Mackenzie isn’t sure how to get back to normal.

When people in town begin to disappear, Mac’s doubts about herself and her safety grow. The disappearances don’t seem to have anything in common. Except Mackenzie herself. Solving the disappearances could help Mac keep her freedom and reclaim some modicum of safety as she truly puts the past behind her. Failure could mean losing her memories, her place in the Archive and her life in The Unbound (2014) by Victoria Schwab.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Unbound is the sequel to Schwab’s novel The Archived. This book continues several weeks after the conclusion of The Archived with handy flashbacks and recaps to explain key events from the first book. The Unbound works well as a standalone however it does contain mild spoilers for The Archived.

Flashbacks and dreams lend an otherworldly quality to this eerie novel as Mackenzie tries to make sense of her life in the wake of fighting an escaped History. Despite her strong face, cracks are beginning to show in Mac’s carefully constructed armor; it is becoming harder to keep her life at the Archive separate from the life she pretends to lead.

While readers got a sense of Mac in the first book, they really get to know her in The Unbound. Mac’s unflinching loyalty to the Archive was already shaken but now it is shattered as much of what she knows about the Archive is thrown into question. Mac’s friends, a blend of familiar faces from book one as well as some new characters, add another dimension and levity to the story.

Schwab once again delivers a dazzling blend of mystery and fantasy in an entirely unique world in The Unbound. Vivid characters and breathtaking prose guarantee readers will be clamoring for a third book.

Possible Pairings: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis, The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, Havenfall by Sara Holland, House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough, Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan, The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman, Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesdays img by Miss Print

(While you’re here, please check out my latest Monday Memories post–maybe next week you can join!)

I may or may not be wildly behind on my reading schedule. But here are ten that are very high on my Fall TBR list because of review deadlines and what not.

  1. Beau, Lee, the Bomb & Me by Mary McKinley: I actually should have read this weeks ago!
  2. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick: See above!
  3. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith: Everyone tells me to read Smith. This one came up on Amazon Vine so I decided to try it.
  4. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay: Why wouldn’t a sleeping beauty retelling be on my TBR list?
  5. Pretty-Girl 13 by Liz Coley: I really, really don’t want to read this but I really, really have to.
  6. In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters: I haven’t met a historical fantasy I didn’t like.
  7. Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis: Creepy circus mystery? Yes please!
  8. How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller: School for villains? Obvs I’m in.
  9. Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt: It would be cool to read this BEFORE I go to a signing for Schmidt on September 28 but . . . yeah.
  10. The Time Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky: I have to read this by October 2 for a work thing. *laughs forever and ever*

I’m just going to curl into a ball now. Want to know even more about what I’m reading? Check out my September Reading Tracker.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

(Image made by me.)

Monday Memories: Suite Scarlett

Monday Memories is a weekly feature hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. Just take a photo of a book from your personal library (or a library book that’s significant to you, etc.) and talk about why it matters. Is it your first ever signed book? The first book you reviewed on your blog? Whatever it is, write it up in a Monday Memories post and share it. Just please link back if you decide to join!

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Today for Monday Memories I’m talking about Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. (This particular book is also special because it has the original hardcover packaging which, though the repackaging has grown on me, remains special. I hope by the time book 3 comes it will have a new package again so I can have three different incarnations on my shelves!)

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I love this book for a lot of reasons. It has a great heroine with a great family, humor and it’s set in New York. While I didn’t love the male lead in this one–that problem is more than fixed in book two. While everyone else enjoys MJ’s Shades of London books (which I like too), I wait patiently for news of Scarlett 3 because this series has everything I could possibly want.

This book is also special to me because it’s from one of the first book signings I ever attended back in 2009. At that point I had been blogging for two years, I was new to Amazon’s Vine program, new to the book world and new to library school–so many firsts! Another new thing at the time was the NYC Teen Author Festival and I decided to try it out even if that meant going it alone. 2009 was a very special TAF because I got to meet a lot of authors that haven’t done many signings since. This book in particular though was the one that drew me to the event. I”ll probably use the next couple MM posts to talk about other books from that signing.

To join, click the Inlinkz frog below to link up. Then see what everyone else has to say :)

Week in Review: September 21

missprintweekreview

LAST week on the blog you could have checked out:

THIS week on the blog you can check out:

In case you missed my pity party on Twitter, I was really sick this week and last week (along with all of my other online friends which, if you in the right mindset can make you really paranoid about germs spreading on the Internet). I got sick almost the moment I left work on Thursday night for a three day weekend and just started to feel better and person shaped on Thursday. I basically did nothing but sleep from Thursday through Monday of this week and the rest of this week has been triage to get through work and try to be a fully functioning human again. (Which I almost am now. FINALLY. And I think I even managed to not infect anyone else including coworkers and, more importantly, my mom.)

Which is all a long-winded way for me to say I was not up to making a Week in Review post last week.

This has been a pretty good object lesson about health being really important. I’m going to try to remember in future that I cannot let myself get so rundown. I am also, at Kayla’s advice, being more mindful of using hand sanitizer at work. I already washed my hands throughout the day but I’m hoping that in between will help. I know it’s just my immune system adjusting to working with the public (especially kids) again but I am so tired of being sick every month. I have literally been sick for every three day weekend I have had since I started this job.

In other news: I went to a back to school meeting for all the J and YA specialists in my library system this week. And my blog (along with several other excellent ones from coworkers) got a shoutout which was very flattering and nice.

I also think I mentioned that I am working as a team on a virtual reader advisory service at work now called BookMatch. I was one of the top book matchers this week. It was nice. It’s actually just nice in general to see at this new job that I have a lot of opportunities to grow and develop my skills and it’s even nicer to know that people are noticing.

Blog stuff got a little wonky with my Sickness of Death but that is getting back under control. I even have the answers for an author interview I am very (very, very, very) excited to share which had been lost in February (the author was on the road so it was hard to get in touch). And I am also in the very early stages of planning something that will hopefully be big(ish) in April.

My reading is completely out of control but mostly with books I want to read (for now). I’m currently reading a very coveted arc of Blue Lily, Lily Blue which I am alternating between wanting to savor and wanting to rush through to see what happens. After that I have My True Love Gave to Me on deck because I need the Christmas stories in my life stat. After that I shift gears to get back to some SLJ and committee work books.

Oh and I almost forgot! I got a bread machine! I got it for review from Amazon’s vine program and I am super excited to try it out. The machine is heavy and enormous but I have really high hopes. I’ve been wanting a bread machine for a couple of years so this is beyond amazing!

I’m also gearing up for Monday Memories which, if you have a blog or even if you don’t, I hope you’ll join!

How was your week?

Exquisite Captive: A Review

Exquisite Captive by Heather DemetriosNalia is a powerful jinni from the world of Arjinna. After a deadly coup killed almost everyone she cared about, Nalia was captured by a slave trader who sells jinn to humans. Since then she has been on the dark caravan of the jinni slave trade for three years.

Trapped in Hollywood and bound to a handsome master who is as ruthless as he is powerful, Nalia is desperate for the chance to return to Arjinna and rescue her captive brother. Unfortunately, that seems nearly impossible while bound to her master and the bottle that can hold her prisoner.

When Nalia agrees to a dangerous bargain with the leader of Arjinna’s revolution she will have to decide if any price can be too high for her freedom and the chance to save her brother in Exquisite Captive (2014) by Heather Demetrios.

Exquisite Captive is the first book in Demetrios’ Dark Caravan trilogy.

This gritty urban fantasy has a lot going for it. The Hollywood setting, as well as the descriptions of Arjinna, are lush and immediately evocative. Although some of the situations are stilted, most of the story here is exciting and fast-paced.

Nalia herself is a strong and capable heroine. Unfortunately she is also in the middle of an extremely lopsided (read: forced) love triangle. On one side we have Nalia’s master Malek and on the other Raf–leader of the Arjinnan revolution. Raf often feels like a one-note character with his efforts to save his people and his strong convictions. Malek is more nuanced but decidedly less sympathetic as every bit of character development is countered with a new act of villainy. The romance, such as it is, with both men seems to come out of nowhere as feelings bloom suddenly (with varying levels of returned feelings) for all of the characters.

The well-realized world of Arjinna is sadly overshadowed by stiff descriptions and numerous explanations of djinni hierarchies and Arjinnan culture. While it is all valuable information, the sheer volume can be daunting and makes an already long story feel even lengthier.

However, Demetrios does still craft a refreshingly diverse story here (albeit with some unfortunate stereotypes creeping in–most notably with Sergei). With nods to Arabian culture and tons of action, Exquisite Captive is an interesting blend of traditional jinni lore and urban fantasy elements. It is sure to appeal to readers looking for the next big thing in paranormal romances.

Possible Pairings: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Finnkin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney

*A more condensed version of this review appeared in the August 2014 issue of School Library Journal from which it can be seen in various sites online*