Sunday, November 9, 2008

wowza! It has been a L-O-N-G time!

Let me start by saying that sooooo much has happened in the past few months that I have totally neglected this blog. Sorry, guys! I aim to do better....really. So, here's the deal, in the course of the past 2 months:
  1. We've been heavily involved with our One Book, One School program and culminating author visit. I'll post pics later. It was fabulous and our school administrators are totally on board to do this again and to expand the project to include the entire district.
  2. Teen Read Week was spectacular as always. While I did pare down the events so that teachers could attempt to get our book for the above finished before the author visit, we still had a wonderful time with wonderful guests. Again, I will post pics soon.
  3. Our student visitors from Japan. Not only am I the librarian, but I am a student council sponsor and thus in charge of the welcome event for our visiting students. A great time was had by all. Do I even need to keep saying I'll post pics soon? I think not. Just assume it from this point forward. :)
  4. Book Fair. Ah, book fair. So glad to see it glad to see it go! We clean up tomorrow and resume "normal" library business.
  5. Last, but not least are three personal things....grad school projects for my Masters in Instructional Technology are going well, but obviously keep me busy, Lone Star reading has been wonderfully intense and I meet with the committee next weekend to finalize the list of 20 for next year, and....I'm 3 months pregnant. Yep, I've had the whole exhaustion and stupor that accompany the first trimester.

So, hopefully I'm back on track now, and will no longer neglect this blog!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ben Mikaelsen is at my school today!

I cannot tell you how excited I am that our One book, One School author will be speaking at our school this week! I'll post pics and much more info later today! Sorry I've been sooooo neglectful of this blog lately, but WHEW! life has been UNREAL!

Monday, October 6, 2008

One book, one school

I promise to post more this week! Life is sooooo crazy-busy in October for YA librarians that I have had to step back a bit from posting just to keep my sanity!

The GREAT news....everyone is absolutely loving our book Touching Spirit Bear! I have been so pleased to hear so many wonderful comments from the adults and the students about how much they love this book, and how excited we are to meet Ben Mikaelsen!

I have ordered the sequel and am eagerly awaiting it--the order went in mid-September, so maybe by the end of the month it will be in the library, too!

A GIANT thank you to all the librarians for helping me to make a one book, one school plan! And a giant thank you to all the teachers and students at Mike Moses Middle School for working this program! and last but not least, thank you to my school district for springing for Ben Mikaelsen! I appreciate you all more than you know. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Drum roll, please....

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am thrilled to announce our first One Book, One School selection: Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. Our entire school--adults and kids alike--are reading this book and will have the honor of Ben Mikaelsen visiting our school at the end of October. I want to thank the PTA for generously donating money to pay for 1/2 of the books we needed--that helped tremendously in purchasing copies for everyone. I'll have more OBOS news as time goes on....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What the Moon Saw

Also on the Lone Star list....
What the Moon Saw, by Laura Resau, is a lovely and beautifully written book. When I grow up, I hope to write as lyrically as Ms. Resau.
14 year old Clara Luna who has always lived in Maryland with her parents, has never even really thought much about her father's parents--after all, they've never met and her father doesn't discuss his past. However, all that changes when Clara goes to visit her grandparents in a remote village in Oaxaca, Mexico.
For the first time, Clara begins to experience her Mexican heritage. She also comes to see that her Abuelita is a healer with mystical understandings of the world, and she meets Pedro, a boy from the village, and feels the blush of first love.
I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. It is a beautifully written coming-of-age story that I highly recommend.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The wrath of IKE

Oh, how I hate to not be able to blog!
While I have actually enjoyed the peacefulness that "unplugging" brings, after a few days I begin jonesing for electricity.

Life is okay though. We have a propane grill and food over ice in a giant cooler.
The weather is lovely--temps at night in the mid-50's.
Our house does NOT have a tree through it. :)
Life is good.
And now, power has been restored at work--so I'm up here to write a quick blog, & charge my cell phone.

Hope everyone else is doing okay. I'll be back to my regular blogging as soon as possible.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Chance Fortune and the Outlaws

Chance Fortune and the Outlaws, by Shane Berryhill, is the next book from the Lone Star list to be reviewed here.

The story is set in a parallel universe in which Earth is exactly like a comic book from the 1950's---complete with superheroes and a superhero academy.

Now, I do like comics, really I do. After all, Batgirl was a librarian (check the archive for my super-fabulous post in July on this very topic.)

Sadly, this book just did not do it for me. I wanted to like it--I really tried to like it, but it just wasn't meant to be.

I think the premise is good--but when Disney's Sky High does it better, well...that's a sign you are in trouble.

Josh is a regular kid with superhero dreams. He sacrifices everything and works hard with his retired superhero mentor in order to get admitted into the academy. Unfortunately for Josh he doesn't have any "real" super powers, which makes getting in a bit tricky. Luckily for him, his mentor hatches a plan and decides that his power is being super lucky. Uh-huh, super lucky. Not a great super power, granted, but it does allow him entry into the famed academy. Fast-forward to the name change of Chance Fortune and the meeting of friends with names like Shocker and Psy-chick. They all become involved in fighting games that become deadly serious when a nefarious plot to rule the world is uncovered and Chance and his group, the Outlaws, must save the day.

Um....maybe it would work better in graphic novel form?

Those of you who are die-hard comic buffs will probably enjoy this book, but for the rest of you....I suggest you check this one out along with a couple of other books just in case it doesn't do it for you either. A sequel is coming soon....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Floating Island

The Floating Island, by Elizabeth Haydon, is the latest Lone Star book to be reviewed on my blog, and I must say I LOVED THIS BOOK!

Ven Polypheme is a wonderful main character in this epic adventure quest story (and yes, it IS all those things!) The premise of the story is that Ven's journals have been found by an archaeologist and they have been recreated to tell the story of his unusual life in this book. Ven is a Nain, which are a people that live very long lives (at 50 he is but a mere tween-ager)and who usually work underground. Ven's family, however, has taken a different path and are now known as the best shipbuilders around. It is on Ven's 50th birthday that he first has the opportunity to inspect the newest ship that has been built....and that is where the adventures begin. After being attacked by fire pirates, being saved by a mermaid and rescued by another ship the story gets even more adventurous (if you can believe that!)
The story reminds me a bit of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books in that Nains hold some similarities to hobbits, and this is an adventure/quest book. It is fabulous and I highly recommend it for both boys and girls.
A side note----I really don't get the cover. Not at all. isn't about a dragon, but whatever. Maybe the next installment in the series will shed some light upon this choice.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Beastly by Alix Flinn is also on the 2008-2009 Lone Star list.

Kyle Kingsbury is popular, gorgeous, and rich, and attends a posh high school in NYC. He is also a classic "mean boy"---vain and rude and an utter jerk to those he deems as being beneath him. After playing a cruel trick on a "weirdo" goth-girl by inviting her to a dance just to humiliate her, he gets zapped into showing his true colors by outwardly becoming the beastly creature he is on the inside. Yep, he's been cruel to the wrong girl----the "weirdo" goth chic is a witch and he has been zapped by her powers. He now must find true love as the beast in order to change back into himself.

So, this is obviously a modern-day retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast....

and it is FABULOUS. From the hilarious chat room messages, to the cold reality of his relationship (or lack thereof) with his self-centered anchorman father to realizing that who you are is not determined merely by the way you look or how much money you possess this book will enchant you.

Guys--since this story is told from the point of view of Kyle/the Beast YOU will enjoy it, too.

Plus, the cover is utterly cool, is it not?

Breathe: a ghost story

Continuing our Lone Star reviews....

If you like suspenseful ghost will enjoy Breathe by Cliff McNish.

12 year old Jack has just lost his dad. Now, Jack is not your average kid--he not only has terrible asthma, but well...he "feels" the history of objects when he touches them. He and his mom have just moved into an old farmhouse to try to start anew after his father's death. Of course, since the house is old Jack is able to feel the history of the house and know, for example, that someone died in the very bed he will be sleeping in. Instead of being all creeped-out (like I would be) he is actually rather comforted by his knowledge of the former inhabitants of the house.

And then he meets the ghost mother.

And things begin to get....ugly.

I won't tell you more than that! You'll just have to read the book to find out what happens...but it is VERY suspenseful and dramatic, I assure you! Come check it out, and be sure to tell me what you think of it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to school!

(by the way kids, this pic is from an old TV show about school called Welcome Back Kotter. If you don't think it's funny your parents will. Really. Go get them now and they will laugh hysterically. The sweathogs were greatness, but I digress....)

Today was a beautiful day seeing so many faces roaming the halls and waiting to get into the library. :) To my kiddos who are now at the high school--we miss you! To my new ones--welcome! And to my returning kids.....Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
Thanks to for the pic!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Wednesday Wars

Okay, so the cover of this book did NOT make me want to grab it and read it right away. I really really dislike this cover. The good news? The cover is NOT a reflection of the book.

The story takes place in 1967 with the Vietnam War playing out as a backdrop for Holling HoodHood (not a typo!) during his 7th grade year. As the only Presbyterian in his class, he is left each Wednesday with his teacher as the rest of his class either attends Catechism or Hebrew class. At first he is convinced his teacher, Mrs. Baker hates him because of this, and perhaps she does just a bit...but before too long she has him reading Shakespeare, trying to recapture giant rats gone wild, and eating the most scrumptious cream puffs you could ever imagine--the ones that aren't covered in chalk dust. There are many, many subplots to this book--Holling's peace-loving hippie-wanna-be sister and her angst, Mrs. Baker's husband who is fighting in Vietnam, Holling's dad the architect and their relationship shifts, bullies, and first loves. If you enjoy baseball, Shakespeare, or stories about growing up you will love this thoroughly enjoyable book.

Click here to read an interview with Gary Schmidt about this book.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Alchemyst : the secrets of the immortal Nicholas Flamel

This book, written by Michael Scott, is the 2nd of the 2008-2009 Lone Star books I'm reviewing, and I must say it is one thrilling ride! 15-year-old twins Sophie and Josh find themselves going from ordinary hum-drum lives to living the most surreal adventure imaginable in a matter of minutes. Their lives will be forever changed from this moment on...and the fate of the world is in their hands. The author has an amazing knowledge of "magical" historical characters and uses this superbly. From Nicholas Flamel himself, to ancient gods and goddesses to vampires and werepeople, the battle between good and evil is on--and it isn't always easy to tell the good guys from the bad. It appears that the twins have met their destiny--one that was prophesied in the famed book that Flamel and his wife have been the guardians of for centuries. As the *also* immortal Bette Davis once said, "Fasten your seat belts; it's going to be a bumpy night!"

I highly recommend this book--it's sooooo good you won't want to put it down. Fans of Harry Potter, or those who love books with mythological or otherwordly characters will devour this one.'s the first in a series. My copy has a teaser of the 2nd book at the end, along with notes about all the factual information in the book (yep, some of this stuff is REAL!)

So, get it. Read it. Love it.

Don't forget....the countdown is starts a week from tomorrow....see you soon!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Brothers, Boyfriends & Other Criminal Minds

Since school is about to start up for us again, I thought I'd start reviewing some of this year's Lone Star books. The first on the review list is Brothers, Boyfriends & Other Criminal Minds by April Lurie. Set in 1977 Brooklyn, the novel opens with, "Three murderers live on my block---two on opposite corners like a pair of bookends, and one right across the street from my house. Not the crazed, ax-wielding kind you might see in horror flicks, but genteel killers who go about business in Armani suits and Gucci shoes, their victims disappearing without a trace. This probably sounds creepy, and you might even wonder if I'm afraid for my life, but up until now I've always felt safe. That's because these men are members of La Cosa Nostra, This Thing of Ours. Most people call them Mafia."
Well, that got my attention! I've been a HUGE fan of anything mobster related since I was a little kid. My grandfather was a minister of a small church. One of the older members of his congregation was living a very quite life in his old age compared to his younger years---he actually had been the driver of the get-away car for notorious gangster Al Capone! After reading a book he had written about his life I became incredibly interested in learning all I could about this organization, if you will. Fascinating stuff. Not pretty, but fascinating nonetheless.

14-year-old April Lundquist lives in a very safe neighborhood in Brooklyn. (I mean, what petty criminal is gonna mess around with the Mob, right?) Things have been fine until the angst of her 9th grade year--her older brother Matt is apparently in love with the daughter of a very prominent member of the family, if you know what I mean, the guy she has been crushing on is maybe crushing back on her and her brother's best friend Little Joe is acting funny around her now, too. What is up with everyone? As if that isn't bad enough, her parents think she is an oddball and just don't get her fascination with Edgar Allen Poe, rock music, and the occasional skull candle. What's a girl to do?

I really like this book---and if boys can get past the hot pink cover I think some of you would like it, too. :) It's really a story of friendship and growing into yourself--figuring out who you are and what matters. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Shark Girl

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham is an excellent read. 15-year-old Jane Arrowood, a happy & beautiful girl as well as an outstanding artist, is happily hanging out at the beach with her family when disaster suddenly strikes. After surviving a harrowing shark attack (that has been plastered all over the news from a bystander's video) the doctors realize they cannot save her right arm and it is amputated above the elbow.
Her story is told in verse, and the sparse use of words is a powerful juxtaposition against the enormity of the emotions they convey.
As Jane grapples with her own feelings of anger and loss, her frustration at having to relearn how to do even simple things like opening jars--and her pain at losing--for a time, anyway--the activities that once defined her as "artist," "cook," and "normal teen" all make for a heart wrenching and powerful novel.
Those of you who are fans of Sonya Sones will love this novel, too! Warning: this book is obviously not all happiness and light. Be prepared with fresh hankies, a snuggly blanket, and a bit of comfort food--may I suggest warm chocolate chip cookies? Enjoy.

Let them eat cake

How's this for a stack of books???
Looks pretty good to me! I was absolutely amazed when I came across this picture---this looks like a stack of real books to me....and, as you know, I am a trained professional. *teehee*
It made me think, among other things such Marie Antoinette and who made this fabulous cake, about the tantalyzing tastiness of some books.
About how you look at the covers and just can't wait to discover what flavors the cake and fillings are within. About how authors have the incredible potential to fill us with wonderment of words.
It's a powerful thing, that.
The spoken and written word is filled with power and possibility.
I used to really long to be a writer of fabulous novels. I imagined what my life would be like...filled with interesting conversations with other wordsmiths, having people read with excitement thoughts that I had created, working in my jammies if I so chose; crafting absolute magic.
I now realize that I was not put on earth for that purpose--at least, it hasn't manifested itself yet. What I DO have the gift and ability to do is to read the works of others and then spread the word about them....captivate readers with my telling of these fabulous books, stories, and poems. Open the doors so that others may join me in the realm of wonderment and adventure that gifted authors have created.
I sincerely hope this blog will help me in that mission. And who knows? Maybe someone whose door I hold open now, will later realize that they have that gift of enticing readers with yummy morsels of writing. That would be a tasty treat indeed!

with shushing action, no less

I gotta tell you....I just LOVE these Nancy Pearl Librarian action figures--complete with comfy shoes and "shushing action." I love them so much I bought one when they first came out. Oh, the fun times we had. But alas, she got bumped from her perch on the top of my file cabinet (truly a place of honor) by a former student who shall remain nameless. Sadly, she was gravely injured in the accident. Yes, that's librarian action figure can no longer shush. In fact, she no longer has that arm. Oddly enough soon after "falling off" it completely disappeared--the arm, that is!

Now that my nameless student has gone on to the high school perhaps I can safely order a new action figure from the w-a-a-a-a-y cool Archie McPhee company. How can you not love a place that sells both zombie & librarian action figures and a wide range of items from bandages to lunch boxes that look like bacon and other meats?
Yes, thank goodness for the classic silliness of Archie McPhee--keep in mind that I was the only girl I knew who loved the 3 Stooges as a child and had a dad with a weird sense of humor to boot! Now go out and get yourself an action figure (or even the DE-luxe version) today!

oh, the lovely Gypsies...

What a summer! Not only have I read 2 Elvis books, but I've read 2 awesome books dealing with Gypsies, or the Romani or Rom, as they are also called.

So... I've always had a fascination with Gypsies. Maybe it has to do with the air of mystery, the life of adventure, song, dance and vivid colors. Or, maybe I owe it all to a certain boy I dated in high school who was of Romani descent....anyway, whatever it is, I have been and continue to be entranced by these nomadic and interesting people. They've gotten a bad rap throughout history--through equal parts fear of the mysterious and the deep divide on beliefs regarding work, owning things, etc., especially when compared to the Puritan group who settled in the new world. They've been persecuted forever--including by the Nazis.

The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner is a fabulous book that draws you into the lush and decaying world of France just as the Revolution is bubbling over. In it, a Gypsy boy named Yann who is gifted at throwing his voice and works for a magician becomes an unlikely hero after he meets the shy young heiress named Sido whose father is an utter aristocratic and hard-hearted fool. When the powerful and villainous Count Kalliovski decides to make Sido his pawn only Yann can oppose him. This book absolutely has it all--adventure, war, romance, a red necklace that shows up on the lovely necks of the recently murdered, mysterious characters of questionable descent, wealthy fools and wise paupers. I highly recommend it despite the fact that they put a blonde on the lovely cover when it should have been a brunette ;)

The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth was originally published in Australia as a six-book serious called The Chain of Charms. This book takes place in 17th century England.

Cousins Emilia and Luka travel with their Rom families to town where they hope to earn money for the dowry of another family member. Baba has warned them this will bring trouble--she has "read" it, and indeed, that is exactly what comes to pass. Family members are jailed and set to be hanged by the Puritans who despise Gypsies, but Luke and Emilia escape and go on a quest to save the rest of the family. I love the adventure and the historical aspects of this book--as Booklist puts it:
"Carefully woven into this exciting adventure story is the fascinating and horrifying recounting of the Puritanical religious fervor that cast a net of persecution over anything or anyone secular, including the joyous, rambling Rom. This chilling period in English history is documented in a final chapter, but it is illuminated as only fiction can through the exciting, mud-splattered, often violent adventures of Emilia and Luka."

This one is highly recommended, as well....but if you go looking for it just note that my cover is vastly different from the one pictured here!

Now, check out the cool photo of some actual Rom!
old photo

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

AP classes.....have you done your reading yet?

(image: thanks to

This post is especially for my students going into 9th grade. For those of you who are planning to be in the AP Language Arts class, please tell me you've finished your reading & your annotations.

Okay, least reassure me that you have finished the Wizard of Oz and are now diligently working on your science fiction choice....

Um...have you at least bought the books?

Seriously, you are down to less than 3 weeks. The assignment is tough. The class will be more so. It is a weeder--meaning, they make it intentionally difficult to make the people who are not serious about it leave.

The clock is ticking, my dears.....get started if you haven't already. And if you have? Well then, get finished! On the off-chance (judging by those of you I have spoken with recently) that you are finished, then good job! Go buy yourself a sno-cone to celebrate!

Best of luck to all of you!
Mrs. S

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Breaking Dawn---no spoilers, promise!

Yep, I was one of those crazy fans that showed up to get my book at midnight last night. I got to our local Hastings (sadly the ONLY book store in my town) about 11:20. While the crowd wasn't as large as I expected, there were quite a few people there--some in prom dresses, others like myself wearing a t-shirt and denim and trying not to look a hot mess at that hour, and still others wearing more goth-like garb. It was wonderful to see so many of my former students (you guys rock) playing Twilight trivia (congrats Hunter!) and eagerly awaiting the midnight hour....
After visiting with some friends the hour finally approached and we all took our spot in the long lines....did I say there weren't many people there? Ha! At this point they seemed to materialize out of thin air! After buying this book, I only stopped to buy some caffeine and then it was time to take my reading place on the couch. I finally made myself go to bed around 4:30 this morning---with about 1/4 of the book left to finish. I have a confession to make here...I did peek at the end and I never do that....but I couldn't help myself. Despite my droopy eyes I couldn't put the book down until I knew.....well, I wouldn't want to spoil anything here....It's now around 1:30 in the afternoon and the book is satisfyingly finished and I've taken a bit of time just to hold it inside me, ruminate on it, and just enjoy the fabulousness.
What can I say--I loved, loved, loved this book, and it is more mature than the others in the series. I would highly recommend it for 8th grade and up. I will absolutely blog about this book as soon as I feel like enough time has been given for it not to spoil things for the majority of Twilight fans....enjoy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Breaking Dawn trailer

There are many trailers out there--all trying to figure out just what will happen as dawn breaks on the new Twilight book. Here's one of them. August 2nd. I can't wait.


Tennyson by Lesley M. M. Blume is one of those Southern gothic novels that I find so very appealing to curl up with on a rainy day. During the depression, 11-year-old Tennyson Fontaine (yep, named after the poet) and her sister Hattie live a bohemian life out in the woods with their father, who turned his back on his Southern aristocratic roots, and their mother who has a poet's soul. When their mother runs off, they are sent to live with their eccentric old aunt (a must-have in any good Southern gothic novel, right?) in a crumbling Louisiana plantation home called Aigredoux (translation from French: bittersweet) while their father goes in search of her.
Tennyson, old for her years and a talented writer herself, starts having dreams and visions of the cruel past the house has seen, and begins writing down the old home's "memories"--both the bittersweet and the horrific from the time of the Civil War...sending them off to a New York magazine that her mother has always admired in an attempt to contact her mother.
I love the character of Tennyson, but I love the character of Aigredoux itself even more. It has the type of haunting beauty that often masks cruelty and moral decay, and possesses the kind of pride that comes before a fall.

The ending is more realistic than happily ever after, and I love that because it suits this work, just as the cover does.
I loved this book and recommend it for grades 7 and up.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen...Elvis is in the library...

It's not everyday that teens and tweens have the chance to read a new novel that involves Elvis, but all that is about to change. I've come across not 1 but 2 novels this summer that feature the King. Well, that feature dads that want to be the King, anyhow...

The first is called Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis, and I have to tell you I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's just right for those times when you want a sweet and tender read, or when you just want your teddy bear.

It's about a girl whose father leaves for Vegas to compete in an Elvis impersonator contest after having a fight with her mom, and involves a run-away hounddog, a trip down memory lane with a long-lost granny, fires and classic cars. Suffice it to say that all works out in the end, and no one ends up in Heartbreak Hotel. It truly is a sweet book.

(um, by the way kids, the words in italics are words that you will find amusing if you know some Elvis lyrics. If not, get your mother/auntie/grandma--trust me, it is clever and she'll love it!)

The second book is All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall. This time the main character is a boy, Josh, who goes to live with his dad in Chicago while his mother is away. He notices his dad has had a very interesting dye job at the airport, but never imagines then what his dad is now doing for a guessed it, he's an Elvis impersonator. This is a very different book from Love Me Tender, with a son who is angry and mortified about his father---and let's not even talk about his father's girlfriend and her daughter. Yep, Josh is definitely feeling All Shook Up, but eventually Josh and his dad come to understand one another. Funny and a bit sarcastic, this book will keep you entertained until Elvis has left the building.

Thankyou, thankyouverymuch.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Breaking Dawn

I know I'm amongst millions who are anxiously awaiting August 2nd. At that point, the rest of the world will be put on hold and I will do nothing but settle in for a long summer's read, with a glass of sweet iced tea at my side. Ah, life will be beautiful....

Have you planned which midnight release party you'll be attending? If not, check out The Twilight Saga for a party map.

Are you a member of Team Edward or Team Jacob? Me, I'm a Jacob fan. Now, dont' get me wrong....I could really sink my teeth into Edward, too, but there's something about that Jacob...
Anyway, in more Twilight news, the movie trailers are up and running. Click here to see them. I am so excited about this movie--I just really hope it lives up to my expectations.

I had the opportunity to meet Stephenie Meyer (again at my TLA conference) and it was a real fan highlight for me. She is an absolutely lovely individual, plus she commented on my Twilight Teez shirt, so we're basically best friends now. :)

The students at my school have participated in 2 Twilight book discussion groups, with more planned for the coming year. I'll be sure to post pics when the time comes. Until then, we can just all look forward to August 2nd.

Hunger Games

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is truly one of the most amazing books I've ever read...and believe me I read a lot. This is the first book that ever caused me to write the publisher to let them know just how amazing the book was.

I had the great pleasure of attending a breakfast at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, Texs during the Texas Library Association annual conference this past April. This breakfast was put on by the good folks at Scholastic Books and featured 3 amazing YA authors reading from their newest works. This is where I first met Ms. Collins. Just as an aside, not only is she an amazing author, but she is a truly delightful and humble person, as well.

As she read from the pages, I was spellbound. I mean it--I literally stopped eating my delicious filet mignon breakfast to better hear her voice as she channeled the main character, Katniss in a pivotal moment in the book.

The novel is set in a futuristic dystopian society where kids are sent from each of the 12 districts of Panem to battle to the death every year in the televised Hunger Games. When Katniss' gentle little sister is chosen to be one of the players, Katniss steps up to take her place. And so the adventure begins. She is taken off and treated like royalty as she and her district partner prepare for battle. And then it is time for the games to begin...and there's no choice but to play it through to the bitter end. Will Katniss survive? and what does it mean for her if she does...who will she have become in order to survive?

This book won't be officially available until October, but every student that I've handed an ARC (advanced reader's copy) has not been able to put it down either. I'm talking boys, girls, and adults alike are bowled over by this work. It is an amazing novel that I cannot recommend highly enough. Note: be prepared for the violence. All of it is important to the storyline, and not gratuitous. Librarians: Get ready to booktalk this and have it fly off the shelves---use this as a book group book and get ready for the animated and amazing discussions that will follow. Students: Get this book in your hands ASAP and read it! Oh, and don't bother making plans for the night you pick up the book--you'd just break them anyway. :)

Batgirl was a librarian!

In the spirit of the new Batman movie, I thought I'd give you a little background information on my favorite's Batgirl, of course! After all, she's a crime-fighting, bootie-kickin', book-lovin', way-cool librarian.

Barbara Gordan was actually the 2nd incarnation of Batgirl, but by far the best and most popular one. I've included the Youtube video of the never-aired pilot episode of the 60's Batman show (in all its kitschy glory)where we first meet Barbara Gordan.

Later, after being paralyzed by the Joker, Batgirl returns as the crimefighter "Oracle" who uses her amazing library skills to fight crime. As Wikipedia puts it, "in a world increasingly centered on technology and information, she possesses a genius-level intellect; photographic memory; deep knowledge of computers and electronics; expert skills as a hacker; and graduate training in library sciences." She not only fights crime, but she basically runs the whole shootin' match for every other superhero, too.
Yeah, we librarians are cool bunch.
And yeah, I want to be Batgirl when I grow up.

with thanks to for the super-cool pic. Check out their link on the right of my blog!
If you share a love for all things Batgirl, check out ALA's read posters--they have one
and it is greatness.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Mystery of the Third Lucretia

You know, it's been a long time since I read a really good, solid mystery book. Finally! One that isn't actually a horror novel pretending to be a mystery or one that's too silly/boring---I just want a great mystery needing to be solved.

Kari and Lucus (yep, another girl) are best friends who live in St. Paul. One day, while touring an art museum in Minneapolis, the girls run into a strange and angry man copying a Rembrant painting. And so the mystery begins. Before the book is over the girls will have traveled across the globe and solved an incredible puzzle involving disguises, kidnapping and yes, Rembrandt.

A thoroughly enjoyable read for girls in grades 6-10. Read also: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett.

Friday, July 18, 2008

City of Ember movie coming in October...

Check out the super-cool City of Ember movie preview stuff down at the bottom of my blog! I absolutely loved this beginning book in the trilogy by by Jeanne DuPrau.
The movie is set to be released on October 10th 2008 and I can't wait! I just hope it somewhat lives up to the book. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?
"For generations, the people of the City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of glittering lights. But Ember's once powerful generator is failing ... and the great lamps that illuminate the city are starting to flicker. "

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hot Chick Lit

Since I'm on the Texas Lone Star committee, I've had the opportunity to read lots of great books--including some chick lit this summer. Here are 3 I enjoyed, and I hope you enjoy them, as well.

Lucky by Rachel Vail

14 year old Phoebe and her friends are most definitely lucky girls, and Phoebe has always seemed the luckiest of all of them. She's beautiful, rich, and popular--what more could a girl want? She and her friends are planning a huge bash to celebrate their 8th grade graduation (think MTv's "My Super-Sweet-16 kind of shindig) when the unthinkable happenss. Her mom loses her high-powered job and suddenly the cash stops flowing in. Now, while her friends excitedly plan the party, it seems unattainable to her, and life is turned upside down. Fans of Meg Cabot will love LUCKY.

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

Kate is a very practical girl who hasn't been lucky in love. After winning an essay contest she goes to Verona, Italy to experience Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet for a summer session. She and her classmates learn just why the Bard's (as Shakespeare is known) work is still as relevant and real today as it was when it was written when life begins to imitate art. Those of you who love romance or theatre will enjoy this book. Those of you who love romance and theatre will adore it.

How Not to be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler
I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. I actually laughed right out loud (causing a few innocent bystanders to wonder about my sanity, I am sure) while reading it. Sugar Magnolia Dempsy (Maggie) and her wandering hippie parents have moved wherever the wind has taken them ever since Maggie can remember. Now that she's older, it gets more painful to leave friends and loved ones each time. Since her parents moved to Austin, Texas she's made a new plan. No longer will she try to fit in with the "populars", now she will purposefully make no friends--and therefore not be hurt when her family inevitably picks up and moves again. She dresses in weird and bizarre ways (even for Austin--Keep Austin Weird!) and joins the "nerdy" group when she has to join anything. Her plan completely backfires and the ensuing story is delicious.

For those of you who love to read ghost stories...

Here are 2 great ones! For the older set...The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein. This book is incredibly appealing--it really grabs you quickly and takes you for quite a wild ride. A creepy, haunting tale that made it difficult at times to read at night.

Zach's mother has just died, and his dad has remarried. They relocate to a new town that holds a very mysterious and old evil. Have you ever for a moment thought you saw an angry face in the trunk of a tree? Zach has. And now a vengeful ghost is out for revenge...and Zach. This is a great psychological thriller that has suprising twists and turns. You'll love it.

Fans of Mary Downing Hahn, you will not be disappointed in her latest and greatest ghost story! I liked it even better than Wait Till Helen Comes---and I LOVE that book.

Travis and his sister Corey unknowingly unleash evil in an attempt to play a prank at their grandmother's inn. Soon, all the lovely bad ones...and the really bad one chasing them are awakened again. A wonderfully scary story...and how cool is this cover???

Don't mess with the librarians

I'll be back with more book reviews by tomorrow, but until's another video that I just had to include.

Okay, this youtube video is just creepy enough to be fantastic. I love the vintage feel that the black & white gives it, and the librarians are soooo Stepford Wives meets evil genius. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Library Ninja

This youtube video KILLS me. I swear, I laugh my head off everytime I see it.

I believe I have a new goal for the year.....

become Sensei Insight FU, Library Ninja

(not that I don't LOVE technology...but still, ya gotta admit this is mighty clevah!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind is absolutely amazing. I've long been a fan of Neal Shusterman (who by the way is not only a brilliant writer but a fascinating dinner companion, as I found out at this past year's Texas Library Association conference)and enjoyed his previous works (I am a particular fan of The Schwa Was Here), but Unwind takes things to a whole new level.
Connor Lassiter founds out he is about to be unwound---you see, he lives in a time in which parents or guardians can choose to have their teens aged 13-18 "unwound" if they choose to do so. Got a troubled kid? Send him to a harvest camp and have him "unwound", that way you aren't really killing him---after all, his body parts will go on to someone who needs them, so in that sense he is just "living" in a different way. When Connor finds the paperwork that spells out his future he decides to run. If he can make it until he is 18 he'll be safe. Along the way he picks up two other kids destined for the same future, Risa, a ward of the state who is being unwound because while she is okay at certain things she isn't a genius at any of them, and after all, more space is needed in the state home, and Lev, a tithe, who has known since birth that his family was voluntarily unwinding him as a gift to God.
This is one of those books that will keep you on the edge of your seat while reading, and haunt you afterwards. It is incredibly disturbing and complex, and would be an excellent book for a group to discuss. I can't wait for school to be back in session so that I can talk this book with you guys! I HIGHLY recommend this book for grades 7 and up.

a busy, busy summer

I can't believe how long it has been since I posted to this blog. So, without making any excuses (which would all be valid ones!) let's just say that I'm going to start anew and attempt to post to the this blog a minium of 2 times per week. Okay? Thanks!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Knights read books!

So, I'm basically creating this blog for my students and former students of my middle school! As a middle school librarian I read A LOT and kids are always asking me for reading suggestions. Since several of them are leaving this year and moving on up to the high school I needed a good way to still have them contact me and talk books. Hopefully this will work and everyone will live happily ever after with a good book in hand and two on the shelf waiting. :)

Happy Reading,

The Diva Librarian,
Ms. S