Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tours, meetings, and chicken korma!

*Whew!* I'm back from my whirlwind trip to Anaheim for ALA's Annual Conference. I left almost before it started since my main thrust was my presentation at the Diversity Leadership Institute, which you can read about over at the ALSC blog! A truly inspiring and informative event!

After the Institute was over, I headed out with my colleague Lana for dinner and we ended up in Downtown Disney. It was quite a sight! We ended up having some pretty delicious tapas before calling it a night.

Next up was the ISS sponsored Independent School Libraries tour. We were fortunate enough to visit two incredibly different and amazing libraries. The first was at the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes. A beautiful facility with a reading room featuring beanbag chairs that our middle school kids would die for! Librarian Sarah Knetzer-Davis gave us a fabulous tour, and went above and beyond by delivering some of our ISS members back to conference so that they could make their sessions! Thank you Sarah!

Next up was the Crossroads School in Santa Monica. This felt a bit like home to me as Crossroads is a progressive school, and I have the feeling that many of the students there are quite similar to the ones I have! We visited the Middle and High School library, and it is an amazing site. Most of (if not all of) Crossroads is made up of buildings that used to be used for industrial purposes. The librarians there were great and it sounds like the library is a super active place during the school year, with the students really feeling at home there!

The afternoon was taken up with an ALSC 101 session. Even though I have been a librarian for YEARS (about 12 now), I have been active more with YALSA. Now I am looking to dive into ALSC, so I figured that I would head on over and meet some folks! We had a rousing get to know you fest, and I came away with a better sense of the organization (as well as an author contact for next year! Woot!)

Finding dinner on Friday night was a bit more difficult. Many places had an hour wait. Wandering home I happened upon Gandhi Palace, where I had some really, REALLY good Indian food. So if you are still at Conference and like Indian food, you really should head on over for some dinner!

Then a 4:10 a.m. wake up call this morning, and here I am back in NYC. I'm a bit sad that I didn't get a chance to head onto the exhibit floor, but I am happy to be home!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Off to Cali

Well, like so many of you, I am off to sunny California! I am very excited about this conference because not only am I attending, but I will also be presenting and blogging.

I will be representing my school at the Pre-conference on Diversity. I will be exploring the ways that the library can support school wide diversity efforts, and even spear head some of those efforts!

I will be blogging this for ALSC as well. So if you do not have a chance to come to the pre-conference, head on over to the ALSC blog to read all about it.

I am looking forward to going on some school tours while in Anaheim as well. I love seeing how other folks set things up!

Happy travels!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning

Aaah, a story set in the south read on a hundred degree day. The weather certainly got me in the mood for this one!

Violet Raines is sitting in church, pretty much minding her own business, when in walks the Gold family. They are late, and there is a bit of a buzz. There aren't usually strangers walking through church! Violet's best friend Lottie shoves a note in her hands reading "Don't you think she's pretty? She looks like a model! I wonder how old she is! Let's try to meet her after church!" (arc p.4). So it begins.

Melissa is quite glamorous. She does come from Detroit - the murder capital- after all. Lottie is quite drawn to Melissa and her interest in soap operas, make-up and celebrities. Violet's not quite ready for all of these girlie changes. She still likes hunting down the cups to get free brain freezes, squeezing into the tree cave, and hanging around with Eddie.

When lightning hits Lottie's house, she and her sisters need to find a place to stay. Violet wants her in her house, but Mrs. Gold who has a big house and doesn't have to go to work everyday, insists that Lottie and her sisters stay with them. Violet's heart is fit to break as she tries to navigate what it is to be eleven and not quite ready to move out of being a kid.

Danette Haworth has written a delightful story filled with memorable characters. The push and pull of a friendship between three girls rings so true, as does the subtle shift in the relationship between Eddie and Violet. There is an innocence to the story, but the situation is so universal. Violet is the kind of girl who will stay in your memory for quite some time.

Hate That Cat

I think that this book may have finally gotten me over my fear of sequels for good. The times have changed and sequels seem to be inevitable, and these days, they are often as good, or better, than the first!

Jack is back and lucky for him, Miss Stretchberry has moved up a year as well. (I work in a school and have seen this's not as rare as you may think. My friend's son had his teacher for 1st, 2nd and 4th grade!). He is back to writing poetry, and even though Miss Stretchberry asks for more words about Jack's dear departed Sky, he has no more words about Sky. Instead, he sets his sites on the mean, fat, black cat that he sees at the bus stop.

There are more poems about poems and about poets as well. Walter Dean Myers is back, as are Christopher Myers, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, plus mentions of others. Jack's Uncle Bill makes sure that he tells Jack his opinion of the famous poets as well as Jack's own short lines.

Maybe the most poignant piece of the book is the exploration of the relationship of Jack and his mom. Jack's mom is deaf, and Jack wonders how words exist in her head. He wonders how she "hears" his poems. A favourite of mine is Jack's June 5th entry of "This is Just to Say" (pg. 124-125 arc).

Interestingly enough, the mean old cat ends up doing something nice for Jack and his family, and while Sky will never be replaced, perhaps Jack can spread some of his love after all.

Creech has done it again. This book seems so effortless. It is a fast read, and is perfect for reluctant and avid readers alike, but there is so much much meat in the sparse words. I find myself amazed at these little books.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Rapunzel's Revenge

Rapunzel is tired of staying behind Mother Gothel's walls. Of course, there is enough to eat, some kind guards to play with, and a bit of exploring to do, but Rapunzel is still drawn to the wall. She thinks that if she can just look over it, she might make sense not only of her world, but of the strange dreams that she keeps having.

One day Rapunzel does get to the top of the wall and she can hardly believe what she sees. Beyond Mother Gothel's lush garden lies a virtual wasteland. Mines are dug out of the earth, and smoke stacks dot the horizon. Everything looks grey. Rapunzel also comes face to face with some of the workers from the mine camps. And one of them looks the woman in Rapunzel's dreams. It is her birth mother. Before she knows it, the guards have pulled Rapunzel away from her mother once more.

When Rapunzel does not bow to Mother Gothel's wishes, and calls her a liar, Mother Gothel has her henchman Brute take her away into the forest where she is housed, not in a tower, but in a tree. Mother Gothel's growth magic allows Rapunzel food, but a side effect is that Rapunzel's nails and hair keep growing at an alarming rate. Each year, Mother Gothel returns to see if Rapunzel has repented, and every year Rapunzel refuses. Before long, Rapunzel finds a way to escape, and must navigate a land filled with desperation in order to find her birth mother and save her from the mines.

A quest to rival the best of them is penned by Shannon and Dean Hale. Sidekicks, villains, kidnappers, and giant sea serpents fill these brightly illustrated pages. This is a fun read, that will appeal equally to girls and boys. A fractured fairytale that goes deeper, Rapunzel's Revenge is a must for graphic novel readers.