Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Belated Blogiversary to Me!

So 3 years ago on June 19th I started Welcome to my Tweendom as a companion to the now defunct Booktopia in order to highlight titles for the tweeners in your lives. I forgot my own blogiversary, but I am not being too hard on myself as June 19th was the last day of Kindergarten for my little one.

I have just packed an entire suitcase of books to read this summer, and will hopefully be adding to this blog as frequently as life without a school schedule will allow!

(Photo from

Emma Jean Lazarus Fell in Love - Audio Edition

I am a bit of a late-comer when it comes to audio books. Audio is a way of consuming that just seemed too passive to me. After all, I can read more quickly than I can listen. Frequent, long car rides with young children changed my mind, and I found myself listening to some classic children's titles with my girls. When I received my copy of Emma Jean Lazarus Fell in Love at a Random House preview a while back, I tucked it into my purse to bring home.

I read the first title of Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree when I was on the middle grade Cybils judging committee a couple of years ago. I liked Emma Jean just fine, but I certainly wasn't enamoured with her. She was just a bit too quirky for me. Don't get me wrong, we put it in the collection and actively hand sell it to many of our readers, it just wasn't the book for me.

So imagine my surprise and delight upon listening to the second title of Emma Jean Lazarus Fell in Love. This was the secret for me. Emma Jean simply must be read aloud.

The Spring Fling dance is right around the corner, and hormones are all a flutter in Emma Jean's school. This is the dance where the girls ask the boys, and this has Emma Jean looking specifically at Will Keeler like never before. She is pleased when she sees him, and is considering asking him to the dance. Colleen, however, is worried that Will (or more specifically Laura Gilroy who has a huge and obvious crush on Will) is going to laugh at her.

Colleen finds herself over-the-moon when she gets a note from a secret admirer in her locker. She wonders about who it could be, and she actually asks Emma Jean to help her solve the riddle. Colleen is happier than she has been in a long time and if finding joy in the little things, and just feels so much more "Colleen-er".

Can Colleen's and Emma Jean's friendship survive another round of Emma Jean's helping? Who actually wrote that note that ended up in Colleen's locker.

Lauren Tarshis has written a not-too-sweet story about changing friendships, shifting family, crushes and the 7th grade. Mamie Gummer is a suburb reader, and her slight changes in voice when it comes to Emma Jean and Colleen are perfect. Her reading made me like Emma Jean as a girl. This shift has me thinking about the power of audio books and the reader.

If anyone has any audio editions to recommend of tween titles that changed their mind about a book, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Around the Blogs

Jen Robinson has a really interesting post up at the Booklights blog all about reading levels. One of my favourite bits is as follows: "The short-term problem is that children can miss books that they would enjoy reading. Books about kids their own age, having relatable experiences. Fun books. Books with pictures! Instead, they can end up reading books before they are ready for them, which often leads to not appreciating the books, and never going back"." As a school librarian it is a constant struggle to try and find the good fits for the strong readers who are convinced that they are above reading kids books.

There are 2 books that have quickly made it to the top of my "to read" pile. You can find a great review of Jemma Hartman Camper Extrodinaire over at Planet Esme, and a review of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (which I have wanted to get my hands on since ALA in Devner) over at Scholastic's Kid Lit.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Storm in the Barn

Have you ever just been stopped cold by imagery? Matt Phelan has written and illustrated a graphic novel that even in arc form has risen to my list of all time favourites.

Jack is a child of the dust bowl. The rain stopped coming when he was just 7 years old, and since then he hasn't been much of a help. There is no farm work to do and his clumsy nature means that when he does try to help his dad, he usually just ends up knocking things over.

Many families are leaving town. There's nothing left but dust and sickness. Some are even being diagnosed with something called "dust dementia" which occurs when folks seem to see things in the dust that aren't there. Things like bright bursts of light from empty barns, and storm kings.

What is Jack seeing, and will he ever be able to help out and not be a burden?

I don't want to say too much about this extraordinary book since it is not due out until September, however, I could not help but share a bit since I have not seen a graphic novel that has pulled me in so quickly and so fully since Blankets, by Craig Thompson. This is a completely different book, but Phelan has raw emotion on every page from the atmospheric storms, to the drawn and wan faces of the people living through this incredible time in American History. The Dust Bowl has always been a fascinating subject matter, and The Storm in the Barn will most likely have readers looking for other information about the time period and the people who survived it. The book itself is chock full of historical detail from the popular Oz books, to rabbit drives, and snake superstitions. This is a title that I will happily buy in its finished form and pass on.

Thanks so much to Jesse for sharing this with me.

What the Tweens are Reading

A day late, but what the heck.

Yesterday our tweens were being interviewed by NYPL's Jack Martin about what books they have been loving lately. No real big surprises, but I thought I would share the findings with you!

Percy Jackson series

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

The Clique