Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: Blue Gold

Title: Blue Gold
Author: Elizabeth Stewart
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth
                     For the Win by Cory Doctorow

Summary: The stories of three teen girls on three continents are connected by one thing - Coltan and the cellphones that use it. Sylvie is a refuge in Tanzania, her home in the Democratic Republic of Congo torn apart by the fight over Coltan. Laiping has taken a job in a cellphone factory in China, assembling phones that use coltan. In Canada, Fiona has made a risky decision to send her boyfriend a nude "selfie" with one of these phones.
My Opinion: While the connection between these girls is at best tenuous, each story is compelling and important. I found Sylvie's the strongest, Laiping's the most compelling, and Fiona's the most applicable to local teens. Most importantly, this book asks us to really think about the technology we use. Stewart even provides resources for mindful consumption, websites that list companies that use conflict-free materials and fair wage labor. Not perfect, but thought provoking and socially conscious.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by Netgalley

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Graphic Novels

I like to consider myself a graphic novel advocate. I see literary merit in a lot of graphic novels. So, about once a week I'll be sharing some graphic novel I find worthwhile with you. Please feel free to share your thoughts (and especially suggestions for similar graphic novels!) in the comments.
Redwall the Graphic Novel
By Brain Jacques; adapted by Stuart Moore

This is likely to be the only time you'll see an adapted graphic novel on this blog. Generally speaking, my opinion is if the original novel exists you should read that. I have a fondness for this one for two reasons. 1. This was my introduction to the world of Redwall. I'd found the first book hard to get into and the graphic novel hooked me in. I quickly read the traditional novel and six other Redwall books immediately after this graphic novel. (It's actually the way I'm most likely to recommend this one.) The art is absolutely amazing. There's this incredible attention to detail. Each panel is like an individual work of art.

One of my favorite bits - the tapestry of Martin the warrior

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What is Zippety wearing?

In a continuation of yesterday's introduction to our mascot, Zippety, I'd like to share Zippety's  most recent costume. This one is in anticipation of March 2, Dr. Seuss Day, and our week of Dr. Seuss themed storytimes.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Introducing Zippety

Two years ago, we decided our library needed a mascot. After a lot of discussion we decided we wanted something truly unique to our library. We made a sock doll and created a ballot with a list of names patrons could vote between. The general favorite was Zippety. Zippety lives on a shelf top in our children's area. He wears costumes, has several pen pals among our young patrons, and generally helps promote upcoming library events. I hope to post on here every time he wears a new costume, so keep and eye out for Zippety.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: A Snicker of Magic

This is the review form I intend to use on this blog. The most noticeable difference you'll see is the rating style. I'm often frustrated by 5 star or 1 to 10 rating systems. I feel like whatever number I choose doesn't accurately portray what I feel. Accordingly, I'll be using a picture system. The idea is that I (or any guest review I may have) will draw a face that expresses our feelings toward the book. If you'd like to see any other information in my reviews, just let me know. Now, without further ado, my first book review.

Title: A Snicker of Magic
Author: Natalie Lloyd
Genre: Mild Fantasy - one might use the term "magical realism"
Similar books: Savvy by Ingrid Law
                     The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
Summary: Felicity Pickle has just moved to Midnight Gulch, a town that used to be magic. She thinks it will be just another stop in a long string of short term stays with her wandering mother. As she begins to learn more about Midnight Gulch's magical history and makes freinds for the first time, she wonders if this plac ecould be home.

My opinion: What a beautiful, wonderful book. Lloyd paints with words while keeping the vocabulary accessible. This is a book you can practically live in. Everyone should read this amazing book.
More information: A Snicker of Magic releases February 25, 2014.

Advance Reader Copy provided by Netgalley

Thursday, February 20, 2014

School Vacation Crafts

This week is February break for the local school. During school vacations we have special programs every afternoon. In previous years these have been very detailed, very involved programs. Like Mad Science, Magic, and Mosaics.

Mad Science - Slime!
This year, for a variety of reasons, we needed to simplify. We named our programs Art, Craft, and Build, the idea being that we would provide materials and space but the actual projects would be up to participants. With three of us in the youth department we each took a program. Mine, which ran yesterday afternoon, was Craft. Or, as I like to call it, Crafterspace. 

Here are a few photos of things kids made at the program. 

I like how this sword has a handy carrying strap

This one is a hippo and it's frog friend

Probably the tallest robot I've ever seen

I'm told this one is a boat

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A crafty introduction

When I'm not reading or working, I enjoy doing a variety of hand-crafts. I've most recently finished:
    a pair of Dalek patterned, wool-bamboo blend mittens
Daleks are Doctor Who villains, for the un-initiated
    and my very own plush Snowy the dog
Likewise, Snowy is intrepid boy-reporter Tintin's faithful friend
In progress I have I knitted squid (photos coming soon, I hope).

My big project of the moment though, has been a large set of finger puppets for a friend to take on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. 
Here are some of my favorites so far.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Penguin Storytime

I do a weekly storytime for 4 and 5 year-olds. Usually we follow a pretty set structure.
    1. Four songs - a rhythm instrument song, a "follow the directions" song, an active song, and "Stand up, Sit down" (This last one is a perennial favorite and also serves as a transition to reading time as we always sing it last)
     2. Read Two books. Occasionally we do a felt board or puppet interaction between the books but this is very dependent on the mood of the kids.
    3. Craft.
    4. Goodbye

During Christmas break I decided to try something a little different. I knew I'd get older siblings at storytime (we don't have any kind of registration or restrictions). Plus, I'd just been given a penguin education kit and was anxious to try some of it out. So, for one week only, this was our schedule.

    1. Music - Let everyone clap hands like me; Shake my sillies out; Stand up, Sit down. We cut the rhythm instruments for time.
    2. Books - Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester (This is my all time favorite picture book. I apparently have several passages memorized - the moms noticed.
        One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo
    3. Activity 1 - Penguin eggs. We tried to walk with large plastic eggs on our feet. One of my little guys has feet so small that we could not get the egg to even sit on them! Luckily, a little hunting and our mild pack-rat tendencies turned up some mini eggs.

They still couldn't walk but the eggs stayed on their feet.
    4. Activity 2 - Which penguin are you?  My penguin kit had a life sized poster of an emperor penguin. The kids stood in front of the poster and measured up.

Four feet is awfully tall for a bird
    5. Craft - This penguin:


Monday, February 17, 2014

Review Policy

As a librarian, I read and review hundreds of books for children and teens every year. I welcome suggestions for books to review. I cannot guarantee that I will review every suggested book, though I will attempt to do so. Reviews I post will be as honest and fair as possible.

If you are an author or publisher, I'd love to review your book or participate in blog tours. You can contact me at:

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Hello there! My name is Martha and I've been a youth services librarian since 2010. I read a lot (some might say too much), write, and craft. I'm also a bit of a nerd. As I begin this blogging adventure, I plan to post book reviews, programs, craft projects, and other glimpses of my life. Thanks for joining me!