Friday, May 31, 2013

iPod Friday

(Picture adapted from jamona_cl on flicker)

At the end of the week I give myself a treat and listen to my iPod at work while processing books or working on the database.   These are my picks for today.                          What do you listen to at work?

  • Kings of Loen
  • Gulf of Michigan
  • Whiskey Epiphany

Friday, May 24, 2013

iPod Friday

(Picture adapted from jamona_cl on flicker)

At the end of the week I give myself a treat and listen to my iPod at work while processing books or working on the database.   These are my picks for today.                          What do you listen to at work?

  • Metallica
  • Headstones

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Heather Wells Mystery Series by Meg Cabot

Seriously. I just don’t get it. I go for months—literally—where nothing at all unusual happens to me. My days are a blur of dog-walking, work, and Golden Girl reruns. And then WHAM! In one day, I find ahead in a pot on a stove; get asked to play my songs at Joe’s Pub with none other than super-mega-rock-star Frank Robillard; and my dad gets out of jail, shows up in my local coffee shop,and asks to see me.
Why can’t things happen a little at a time? Like one day I find the head; another day Frank asks me to jam with him onstage; and another day my dad calls to let me know he’s out of jail and in my hometown. But I guess we don’t get to choose how things transpire (Size 14 is not Fat Either)

After talking about the book Jemima J by Jane Green, my Public Librarian mentioned I should give Meg Cabot's Heather Mills series a try.  I downloaded the first in the series, Size 12 is Not Fat, and quickly devoured this lite mix of Mystery and Chick-Lit.  It was like taking a bit  of one of those frozen cream puffs you can find at Costco.  Tasty, scrumptious, lite as air, and gone to quick.  So I downloaded the second in the series, Size 14 is Not Fat either.  Now I have holds on books #3 and #4 in the series. (There's  a romance looming and I want to see where it goes next!)

This is definitely light fare, but the star of the series, Heather Wells, is immediately likable, funny, doesn't take herself to seriously and is crushing on her local Barista.  I like that in my accidental sleuths.  I also like the pop culture references sprinkled throughout the series and her love of all things yummy.
“Grande café mocha, please,” I say. I’m totally not into foamy drinks with whipped cream on top of them, but it’s the first official day of spring semester (spring! Right!), and it’s really cold out and supposed to blizzard later... and I REALLY need a little pick-me-up to help me quit feeling so sorry for myself. Plus, you know, as long as I’m blowing five bucks on a cup of coffee, I might as well go for the gold. 
“One grande café mocha, coming up,” Barista Boy says, doing one of those flippy things with my cup.You know, twirling it, like it’s a gun and he’s an outlaw in a western. ...“Soy or nonfat?” he asks. Oh, God. I can’t face my first day back to work after break on nonfat milk. And soy?Soy? “Whole milk, please,” I say. I’ll be good later. At lunch I’ll just have a chicken parm and a salad, and maybe just a BITE of lo-cal frozen yogurt…(Size 14 is not Fat Either)
I sat on my couch this past Saturday and read this whole book in a few hours.  Easy to follow yet an always titillating mystery, Heather Wells again kept my interest and had me softly laughing out loud the much of the time.This book was airy, silly, yet still kept me interested in solving the crime du jour. It was the perfect brain candy for a relaxing afternoon.

About the Series:
Heather Wells used to be a teen pop sensation...until her label dropped her for gaining a few extra pounds. Now Heather's walked out on her famous ex,moved in with his brother (but will things stay platonic with Cooper forever?), lost a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather's perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York's top colleges...who knew it was nicknamed Death Dorm?

 So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective! But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong . . 

NEW #5: The Bride Wore Size 12 (due out in Sept 2013)

Monday, May 6, 2013

How Do you Plug in a Book?

Some days, I feel like this should be mandatory training for students.  I had students from a grade student class who, in all seriousness, didn't know what an encyclopedia was nor the vaguest concept of how it was arranged. After a demonstration I kept thinking, but you know how to count and the alphabet, HOW are you not understanding this?  In the end, I THINK I got through to them by explaining that it was a really, really big book that was broken into chapters so that someone could lift it.   If the power ever goes out during a research project, I will be seen as a genius for possessing the ability to find information in paper form.  Until then, I have a pretty, 28 volume paperweight.  With pictures.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Finding Books that "Look" Like You: Girls in Books

When students come to the library to select a book, I want them to not only feel welcome in the library, but to feel represented by the contents of their library. It is THEIR library and while I want them to explore new frontiers and make fresh discoveries, I also want each of them to see themselves and their own worlds in those books.  

Nine years ago, when I first started working at elementary school libraries in Ontario, I was amazed and shocked by the selections available to the JK-6 classes.  At the time I rotated between 11 schools which ran a wide gamut of economic and cultural populations.  Coming from a Catholic school education where books on adoption, divorce, multi-generational families and death were not to be seen (this was back in the 80's, I would hope the libraries there have been updated also), I was giddy over the fact that my libraries now had such topics. Looking at the stark difference between my students' appearance and the illustrations in the picture book collection, I knew an overhaul of the collection was in order.  The picture books seemed to only tell stories about blond, blue eyed nuclear families with a bouncy Irish Setter.  Almost all had a stay-at-home mom, and dad in a suit and happy, rosy cheeked children.  Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with the 1950's family archetype. I grew up with it and have fond memories of many of those titles.  I just don't want every book to look like that. And where were the books where girls wore the cape and saved the day?    During the next two years I devoured every children's book that had even a hint of diversity.  My co-workers laughed at me and my partner as we excitedly showed them each new batch of "diversity" books.  We we both new to the role and missed most of the nervous looks resulting from titles like Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron and Asha's Mums by Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse. They were much more at ease when students selected the less traditional  and less controversial, girl-power titles. I have listed some of the most popular ones below.  The word Princess appears in may of the title.  At first I thought that having Princess appear so often would be contrary to the intent of this list, but I think it actually works better this way.  When a student wants to fit in with his or her peers, who all seem to be in the princess phase, what better way to provide options than with books that expand the idea of what a princess is and looks like?

photo edited for free at www.pizap.comAmazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch
Marty Mcguire by Kate Messner
Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen

I am happy to encourage the enthusiasm my co-workers show for books with strong female characters, flaws and all.  Check out this website when you are looking for a just right book to inspire your  female students

Girls do not have to be relegated to the role of sidekick or damsel in distress; they can be the leaders, the heroes, the champions that save the day, find the cure, and go on the adventure. From the A Mighty Girl website.

A Mighty Girl was created after the the co founders started looking for "empowering and inspirational books" for young family members.  Users can search the book lists by topics such as Mighty Girls & Women, Fiction, History / Biography, Personal Development and Social Issues.  There are also filters for audience age, language and a multicultural option.  The multicultural fiction search is fantastic.  Have a look at the screen capture , which shows the many categories to select from.