Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WWW Wednesdays

What are you currently reading?
Riot by Sarah Mussi
Life in Great Britain is at a boiling point. Unemployment and crime are at a record high. Businesses are failing. Cities are overcrowded. In an effort to fix things, politicians suggest a radical move: cut funding to support systems for the poor and force sterilization on drop-outs, criminals, and other "problem populations." Outraged, Tia and her hacker friends organize protests. They find themselves caught up in something much larger. 
This is a pretty exciting read so far and I look forward to finding out how it ends.
What did you recently finish reading?
Deliver Me by Kate Jarvik Birch
In the Union, every citizen is judged by a set of ideals at the age of 16. The best are made into soldiers or carriers. The rest are assigned to jobs. There is little interaction between genders and concepts like love, family, and thinking for ones-self are strictly prohibited.
It was a pretty good, quick read that reminded me pretty strongly of Lois Lowry's Giver quartet.
What do you think you will read next?
Swimmers by Amy Bright
Desperate to escape her quiet, controlled life of isolation and homeschooling, Poppy takes off on a bus trip with her neighbor's nephew Harper and his friend Lee to face the secrets Harper left behind at home.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ninja Librarians Recon Team Week 6

This is it. The final week of the Ninja Librarians Recon Team prompts. It's been a lot of fun. In fact, that's this week's prompt: Tells us your favorites. Your favorite part of the book. Your favorite part of the whole Ninja Librarians adventure, from reading the book to being a Recon Team member.

So, my favorite part of the book was definitely the beginning. I love the clutter and the chaos of the Barnes home. Miranda was a great, quirky little sister and her quirks nicely set up later events. And Dorrie is so wonderfully ordinary. It's a great beginning to a great book.

My favorite part of this whole experience (apart from the book) was the list from week 2. I loved compiling my list of things I would take out of books. It really stretched my creativity.  

Monday, April 28, 2014


This weekend I was experimenting with some new polymer clay figures. I'm toying with the idea of using some of my crafting to do some charity fund-raising. One of the ideas I designed was a turtle.

Ta da!

After I'd baked this little guy, I began to notice some problems. Most notably, that his neck is too narrow to hold up his big head. 

He tends to look like he is reading something.

So, here's take 2 with an internal wire supporting his head and a little more color planning. (The first turtle was made with random scraps which is why it is yellowish and pinkish)

Much better head placement.

If I'm going to use this little fellow for fund-raising, I'd like to give him a name. I'm open to any suggestions.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review - The Chance You Won't Return

Title: The Chance You Won't Return
Author: Annie Cardi
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Similar books: Crazy by Han Nolan
                     So B. It by Sarah Weeks

Summary: Alex has a lot of worries. She's flunking drivers ed. She fights with her mother all of the time. And she's crushing on a cute guy at school. Her life gets even more complicated when her mother begins to believe herself to be Amelia Earhart.
My opinion: Alex is a great character. Often selfish and impulsive, she lacks confidence in her daily life. Her shame and fear regarding her mother's illness and the responsibility thrust upon her as well as the consequences of the secrets she keeps from those closest to her really grow her as a character. Add in the sensitive but grimly realistic portrayal of mental illness, and this becomes the kind of book every teen should read.

Advanced reader copy provided by NetGalley.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Books on Screen

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

 Of the movies based on kid's books that I have seen, this effort from Walden Media does the best job of replicating the events of the book as well as the sensibility. A breath-taking movie that genuinely does justice to Lewis's master book (which is what made the nest two movies such a disappointment, but that's perhaps something to discuss in another post). Additionally, this movie makes a point of something we often miss when reading the book - the Prevensies are being evacuated during the London Blitz. Were it not fro the war, they wouldn't have found the wardrobe! Both the book and the movie are well worth your time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WWW Wednesdays

What are you currently reading?
She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Laureth's writer father is meant to be in Switzerland. The only problem: she just got an email saying a man found his notebook in New York City. When her father doesn't respond to any phone calls or texts, Laureth packs up her younger brother, steals her mother's credit card and gets on a plane.
I'm intrigued to see how this mystery plays out, especially to discover the tie-in of that title.
What did you recently finish reading?
How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker
With her family in financial trouble, overweight Emery agrees to be the focus of a weight-loss reality show. As she begins to lose weight and her fame grows, Emery must face a number of truths she's not sure she's ready for. 
An interesting book hitting two hot-button issues.
What do you think you will read next?
The Drowning by Rachel Ward 
I rather liked Ward's series The Numbers, so this book about a young man haunted by the memory (or maybe the ghost) of his dead brother is high on my list of "to read" books.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ninja Librarians Recon Team Week 5

The journey is almost over, friends. I'm going to miss these awesome prompts. Here's this week's prompt:
You're going on a quest to save a person who is being punished for standing up for the truth. What time period are you traveling to? Who are you trying to save? What are you taking with you?
The final requirement for this prompt, making it different than the others, is that we are instructed to answer with images. So here is my response.

I went with fairly recent history.
Muridke Pakistan, 1995
Iqbal Masih, 12 year old child labor activist

A really good disguise.
a riot shield
A bike, so we can make our getaway.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A trio of skirts

Ever since I came across Generation T I've made a number of different things out of t-shirts. Skirts in particular are quite comfortable. This week I made a skirt based on a Generation T design, but I'm not overly fond of it.
Just not doing it for me
I'm in the process of planning some fixes. Hopefully in a few weeks I can share new version of this skirt with you. For now, here are a few other skirts I've made, also based on Generation T designs.

This is the detail from the skirt above. It was a set of iron-on rhinestones.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review - Noggin

Title: Noggin
Author: John Corey Whaley
Genre: Sci-fi (though a strong case could be made for calling it realistic fiction)
Similar books: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
                     Everybody Sees the Ants by A S King
Trying. Not. To. Cry.
Summary: When treatment for his Leukemia failed, sixteen year old Travis Coates agreed to have his head cryogenically frozen. He figured if he ever got a new body it would be decades in the future and most everyone he knew would be gone. Instead he awakens in just five years. The world is very much the same but his loved ones have changed. Travis is a teen in the wrong time.
My Opinion: I absolutely adored Whaley's debut novel, Where Things Come Back, so I was both thrilled by and terrified of this novel. I should have known Whaley would not disappoint. Travis's humor about his situation keep this book from becoming maudlin as he attempts to adjust to his new life. Still, it's a pretty serious book addressing figuring out your place in the world, lost love, accepting change, and grief. This is stuff that many teenagers deal with, making it very relatable. Travis, of course, must also figure out how to cope with his sudden fame, people who consider him a miracle or an abomination and his sense of obligation to his body donor. Plus all of his friends, his girlfriend, are now adults while he remains a teen.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Graphic Novel Night

With the popularity of graphic novels at our library, we decided to devote an evening program to them. So, last night was Graphic Novel Night. We had three main activities.

1. Vote for your favorite graphic novel series.
    I had cover art from six of our most popular graphic novel series out on a table. Kids put a poker chip on their favorite cover.

2. Book talk of some lesser known and sadly under appreciated graphic novels.
    I pulled about 15 less popular graphic novels (including 1 manga) and 2 new graphic novels and did a quick pitch for why they should read each book.

3. Make your own graphic novel
    This was probably the longest portion of the program. After a quick talk about the steps to making comics and an explanation of the Marvel method, I set them loose to draw whatever they wanted. The cool part of this portion was the conversation that came up. The kids recommended graphic novels that we don't own and I had a great talk with a manga fan. Since I don't read much manga myself, I learned a lot from her. She recommended several series she thought I might like. I did the same for her with American graphic novels and traditional print novels.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WWW Wednesdays

What are you currently reading?
Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum
Colby's life implodes when her politician father simultaneously abandons the family and is indicted on fraud charges. Her mother and sisters are hard on her due to her weight and she has no school friends. Now they are moving into a trailer in a relative's back yard and must contend with a cousin who hates them. 

What did you recently finish reading?
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
When 16 year old cancer patient Travis Coates decided to have his head cryogenically frozen, he expected to reawaken decades in the future to a drastically different world. He awakens in just five years to discover life is pretty much the same. The people he knows, on the other hand are very different indeed.
This was my big "can't wait" book of the year so I was pretty excited to read it. Come back on Friday for my full review.
What do you think you'll read next?
Fragile Line by Brooklyn Skye 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ninja Librarians Recon Team Week 4

It's hard to believe I've been doing these prompts for 4 weeks already! For your enjoyment I present the fourth Ninja Librarians Recon Team prompt:
Which historical figure would you apprentice for and what would you learn?

After a lot of consideration (so many amazing people to choose from) I settled on naturalist William Bartram. As Bartram's apprentice I would learn to identify and classify plants, as well as how to accurately draw them for reference later. The advantage to being able to identify plants is no matter where you go, you'd know what is edible. It's an essential survival skill that I've always admired. I also think I'd benefit from some expert drawing tips. Plus, Bartram worked with a lot of historical figures in his life time. He was friends with Benjamin Franklin and it seems to me as his apprentice I'd stand a decent chance of meeting his famous friends, which would be completely awesome.

And if I didn't get accepted as Bartram's apprentice, I'd probably Hugh Lofting just so I could learn to write like him.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sketches and notes

Normally on Mondays I share a finished craft project with you. Here it is Monday and while I have several projects in progress, I don't have anything finished. So I thought this would be a good time to give you a peek at some of my in progress writing projects through pictures.

These first pictures are from my idea wall. It's made up of character sketches, maps and hcarts, summaries, and assorted notes for writing projects I'm working on.
Quite literally, this is the wall over my bed.

A character sketch with costume notes.

Hair styles

The rest of these pictures are from a graphic novel project I'm working on. These are mostly sketches that will be used for assorted panels.

The opening splash panel

An establishing shot

These guys are the main character, Auggie the sea snake, and his best friend Drake, a weedy sea dragon.

Auggie and a friend he meets late in the book, Gunner.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review: Don't Look Back

Title: Don't Look Back
Author: Jennifer Armentrout
Genre: Mystery
Similar books: Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin
                     The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
Nail-biting suspense

Summary: Sam wakes up in the woods, with no idea of who she is or what she is doing there. After she returns home and tries to put her life back together, she realizes she doesn't really like the person she had been. She'd like to take full advantage of this opportunity to reinvent herself. There's only one problem: her best friend is still missing. The best chance to find out what happened to Cassie is for Sam to remember. And someone wants Sam to stay quiet.
My Opinion: This book has really great pacing and it is just as much driven by character as by plot. The mystery of Sam and Cassie's disappearance is nicely blended with Sam's rediscovery of her old life. We begin to understand how Sam got to be such a cruel person the same way she does: in bits and pieces through stories told by those around her. Plus, the twist at the end is fantastic, with just enough hints in retrospect to make it believable without becoming obvious. A fantastic mystery for older teens.
Other Information: Don't Look Back releases April 15, 2014

Advanced Reader Copy provided by Netgalley

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Graphic Novel Spotlight: Rudyard Kipling's Just So Comics

Rudyard Kipling's Just So Comics by Rudyard Kipling and Pedro Rodriguez

Visuals are a great way to retell classic stories and improve the understanding of a modern audience. And this book has fantastic visuals. The pictures are very cartoony and appealing to small children. The expressions are dynamic and telling. Plus, they picked some of the best Just So stories for this volume. It has my favorite from childhood (The Elephant's Child) and my favorite from adulthood (How the Camel got his hump).

On a side note, is it just me or does the cartoon of Rudyard Kipling on the cover there look kind of like Teddy Roosevelt?


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

WWW Wednesdays

What are you currently reading?
Don't Look Back by Jennifer L Armentrout
I've only just started reading this one, so I don't have much of a sense of it yet. It opens pretty well. 
Sam wakes up in the forest, barefoot, with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She decides to reinvent herself. The only problem: her friend Cassie is still missing.
What did you recently finish reading?
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina
The best part of this book is the way it uses the concept of the unreliable narrator. Ashala's memories have been tampered with. For good reason. It's a complex plot with a world order that takes a little getting used to. A surprising amount of the book takes place literally in Ashala's head and memories. 
What do you think you'll read next?
Next on my list is High and Dry by Sarah Skilton
This book is described as high stakes crime fiction involving drugs, sports, and peer pressure. 
I'm tempted to jump ahead a few on the list and read The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell, instead.
The true story of three young men lynched in 1964 for trying to register African Americans to vote. This one promises to be a fascinating look into our history.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ninja Librarians Recon Team

This week's Ninja Librarians prompt is: What animal would you take with you if you were going on an adventure?

I thought long and hard about this. Without knowing what you might encounter on your adventure it's hard to say what animal would be most useful. I decided on a llama. Llamas are pack animals, so they could carry any supplies you needed. Being from a mountainous region, they are pretty fleet footed so you could potentially ride your llama if the terrain got bad. Llamas also have pretty thick hair, making them warm to snuggle up against. Not to mention the fact that llamas are just plain awesome.

All these prompts got you curious about The Ninja Librarians? Check out the website .

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Crafty Flashback

With my large order of finger puppets nearly finished, I hope to have new crafts to share with you soon. In the meantime, here are some crafts I've made in the past. 

This one is a Kindle cover with a pocket to store the charging cord

Anyone else remember the Teeny Little Super Guy from Sesame Street?

Big Bang Theory peg dolls


Saturday, April 5, 2014

My Willy Wonka face

I quite enjoy dressing up for programs, so when we came up with the idea for a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory event I knew I had to do something big. This costume is partly inspired by the description of Willy Wonka in the book and partly by the costume worn by Gene Wilder in the classic film. The costume was a hit with the young participants.

Interestingly, the only part of this costume purchased specifically for this event was the purple blazer. Those green pants are a regular part of my wardrobe.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Review - Plus One

Title: Plus One
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Genre: Distopia
Similar Books: The Giver by Lois Lowry
                     The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Slack-jawed engrossing
Summary: In Sol's world, the population is strictly divided - those who live in the day and those who live at night - and there are strict punishments for being out when you don't belong. When Sol's grandfather is dying, she set about to enact a desperate plan to fulfill his final wishes. In the process she gets caught up in a much bigger plot.
My Opinion: At face value this is a very standard teen book. If you let yourself go a little deeper, though, it becomes much more. Sol isn't trying to change the world, just to please her grandfather. She makes rash decisions with little regard for how they will affect the rest of her life (though she does acknowledge from the beginning that her actions are likely to land her in jail). Sol is stubborn almost to the point of becoming unlikable. Fama takes us on a remarkable journey to an amazing conclusion. I can't wait to give this book to patrons.
Other Information: Plus One releases April 8th.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by Netgalley.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Graphic Novel Spotlight: to dance

to dance: a ballerina's graphic novel by Siena Cherson Siegel

I call this one the graphic novel for people who don't like graphic novels. For those who think graphic novels are all about superheroes and monsters and junk (Poppycock of course). This book could hardly be any further removed from superheroes. A memoir of ballet, the images have a fluid sense, the grace of dance itself. Personally, I am quite fond of superhero books but I find myself fond of this book as well. It has a grace to it that is absent from a lot of books.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WWW Wednesdays

Today I'm taking the advice of my friend and coworker Abby* who suggests I try this prompt from Should Be Reading. WWW Wednesday asks three questions.

What are you currently reading?
Frenzy by Robert Lettrick
This is the story of 14 year old Heath who is trying to spend a relaxing summer at camp. All is going well when the animals in the surrounding forest begin to attack. This book reads with the intensity of a survival/horror movie.

What did you recently finish reading?
Alien Encounter by Charise Mericle Harper
A goofy book about nine year old Morgan and his new friend Lewis and their misadventures after seeing an alien. 

What do you think you'll read next?
Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

*Abby also has a blog that you should check out if you are so inclined. She is the Lupine Librarian.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ninja Librarians Recon Team

This week's Recon Team prompt is: Please name 10 scenes from a book that you'd want to experience.

Here is my list.

1. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt  -  drawing birds from the Audubon book with Doug
2. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick  -  watching the automaton work for the first time
3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfield  -  meeting the perspicacious loris or exploring the airship
4. Redwall by Brian Jacques  -  the first feast with all of the animals (that food sounds amazing and I'd like to hear the moles talking '"burr oi, zurr")
5. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis  -  the gathering of the Narnians at the stone table
6. Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman  -  Dinosaur Driving lessons (need I say more?)
7. The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting  -  meeting the Pushmi-pullyu
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling  -  Quidditch!
9. Airman by Eoin Colfer  -  Conor's first glider flight
10. Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse  -  Pretty much any scene because this book has Gussy Finknottle (which has got to be the funniest name ever) and Bertie trying to be as wise as Jeeves and failing on a spectacular level. 

On a side note, compiling this list has made me realize that most of my favorite scenes are far too dangerous to want to actually experience. Not sure what that says about me.