Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Break

Source: fb, reddit, anthropolgie

Well, here we are at winter break once again.  Most of my time will be spent traveling and reading.  Since I am not posting a top list this year, I am more interested than ever in hearing about your top picks for tweens!  Please use the comments to list your top 5 of the year!

Happy reading to all!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

On The Clipboard

Astronaut Academy, by Dave Roman

N.E.R.D.S. 3: The Cheerleaders of Doom, by Michael Buckley

Marzi, by Marzina Sowa and Sylvain Savoia

Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick

Friday, November 18, 2011

On the Clipboard

Holy cats!  I am up to my eyeballs in reading, and have been neglecting this here blog.  All apologies!  Without further ado, here's what our tweens have been checking out this week!

The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy

Ranger's Apprentice 10: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, by John Flanagan

Mercury, by Hope Larson

The Aviary, by Kathleen O'Dell

How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Crowell

So, what are your tweens reading these days?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Real Life Tween Reader

Mizzy is a reader who is what I consider open.  She is a passionate reader, and loves to tell you why she loved a particular story.  She is another reader who is happy to give us the gift of a test-drive for something where we want the reaction of a tween reader.  Here is what she has to say about her life as a reader!

Do you consider yourself a reader?
Yes, I consider myself a reader.

What are your favourite genres to read?
I think now, my favorite genres is like realistic fiction.  I still like a few fantasy books now and then.

How do you select the books you want to read?
I get most of my books from recommendations from friends or my teachers.

What is your favourite book so far?
My favorite book so far is called Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.

What is your favourite thing about reading?
My favorite thing about reading is probably just getting to sit down in a chair, opening up a novel and just passing the time with my nose in a book.

Do you read on an e-reader/phone/computer?
I personally don't really like e-readers because I just love being able to flip a page.

What kid of books do you think are the most popular with kids your age?  Why?
I'm pretty sure kids my age are starting to read more young-adult books because we all know we are getting older by the minute and we have an advantage of reading those books.

What are you currently reading?
Currently, I am reading Sweetly, by Jackson Pearce.             

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On the Clipboard

School is back and we are flying through September.  Books are circulating like mad, and here are some of the titles that have been checked out in the past week or so.

If you are new to this blog, these clipboard posts tell you what some of the students at my school have been checking out on their own for fun!

Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry, by Jonell

A Whole Nother Story, by Soup

Between Two Ends, by Ward

NERDS 2, by Buckley

Pish Posh, by Potter

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Ghost of the Un-finished Reviews

Let's face it.  Our lives are busy.  Many of us have families, we all have too much to read, plus the everyday business of life means that the best laid plans to blog, often do not come to fruition.  It is with a bit of a wry smile that I go through my old word documents and find snippets that didn't get finished and didn't get onto the blog. 

Here's a prime example of a bit that I wrote in November of 2010:

"Books like Moon Over Manifest are difficult to summarize since they are woven together so masterfully.  Set in Manifest Kansas, Abilene Tucker comes to town by herself on the train because her Daddy Gideon has a job working for the railroad in Iowa, and he has declared that it’s not fit living for a 12 year-old-girl.  Lots of folks who were in Manifest when Gideon was coming up still live there, and Abilene is to live with Shady…part-time preacher/ part-time saloon owner.  But old habits die hard, and instead of waiting for the train to pull into the station like the rest of the paying customers, she takes a leap because folks know that “it’s best to get a look at a place before it gets a look at you”. (p. 3)

Abilene sees some sights on her walk into town, but they don’t much resemble the vibrant and bustling town that her Daddy recently told her stories about..." 

I don't know what stopped me from finishing.  Perhaps it was a hungry daughter, or some curriculum tweaking.  Maybe I had to pick somebody up from a play-date or go grocery shopping. 

What are some titles that you ended up not blogging that came back to haunt you?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Just Wondering....


So, I have a question that I 've been wondering about for the past while.  I've been thinking deeply about tween reads and what makes them great.  I've also been thinking about the idea of tween / middle grade as a category.  My question(s) to you are as follows...What is your favourite middle grade/tween read of the past 10 years (and why).  What is your favourite middle grade/tween read of ALL time (and why)?

Thanks in advance! I can't wait to see which reads stuck with you!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blast from the Past -- Water Street, by Patricia Reilly Giff

Here is a book that I originally blurbed over at Booktopia.  It's a go-to historical fiction and one of my favorite NYC stories.

Bird and Thomas are growing up in a Brooklyn apartment just as the bridge is rising. Over on Water Street, Bird is the youngest of 3 - daughter of a bridge worker and a healer. Thomas is pretty much on his own - Da being down at the pub all the time.

Thomas dreams of being a writer. He has fashioned himself a notebook and makes sure to write everything down. He has a shadowy memory of a woman in lace sleeves who told him that writing can change it all.

Bird has her own dreams of following in her mother's footsteps and becoming a healer herself. She has a notebook where she writes down remedies ... sliced onion for bee stings, coal from the turf fire held under the nose for sneezing.

Bird always needs to fix things. She needs to get her brother Hughie to stop fighting in the backs of pubs. She needs to get sister Annie out of the box factory. She needs to save all her money to help her mother buy a farm in New Jersey.

Thomas needs to find his past and try to fix his family.

This is immigrant Brooklyn in the 1870s. Patricia Reilly Giff has managed to bring in so many aspects of daily immigrant life without making it seem like school. The streets come alive (especially when Thomas and Bird venture into Manhattan) with sights and sounds and smells. It was a pleasure to read about Brooklyn instead of the Bowery.

This book is equally suited for older tweens and younger teens. There is a bit of detailed gore described in some healing scenes that may have queasy readers blanching. Told in alternating chapters, the stories of Bird and Thomas come to life and are a pleasure to read.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blast from the Past -- The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls

This is one of those books I read years ago and blogged over at Booktopia. It's one of those books that went under the radar, but every time I hand it to a reader, they come back having loved it.

Poor Ivy. A Jinx has followed her since she broke a mirror almost seven years ago. No matter where she and her mother move, bad luck follows. In fact, getting to Gumm Street is the first good thing that has happened in a long time. Ivy and her mom have inherited Aunt V's old house.

Gumm Street happens to be the very street where Pru, Cat, and Franny live. You would think that 3 girls of the same age who live on the same street would be friends. Well, they used to be. Not any more. After all Pru is all stuck up with her nose perpetually in a book, Cat is a great big show off and queen of the cartwheels, and Franny has so many big ideas that she cannot possibly follow through with any of them!

When Ivy moves to the block, a piano is mysteriously delivered and the elusive Mr. Staccato - piano teacher extraordinaire - shows up to offer some lessons. Ivy's first lesson shows her that there is something else to Mr. Staccato besides piano! His dogs seem to talk, and he has a museum room filled with movie memorabilia from way before her time. The prize of which seems to be ruby slippers.

An adventure soon begins with the girls having to get together and work together to defeat the crazy Aunt Cha-Cha and her creepy nieces Bling-Bling and Coco. The girls travel to Spoz, then Spudz and each of them works to find their "unique talent" that Mr. Staccato has told them they possess.

I am not sure how to really describe the plot. Elise Primavera has written lots of plot! I think that kids who have read The Wizard of Oz series will get more out of this book than kids who have not read it. There is a large amount of magical realism, and necessary suspension of belief is required to get through. I did, however, really enjoy the book. I think that it is written on a couple of levels where older readers will get the wry writing style and younger readers will get an adventure story.

I had fun!

Friday, July 01, 2011


....and the living is easy.  At least easier than it is when we have to get out of bed at 4:45 a.m.

I had a wonderful time in steamy NOLA for ALA 2011.  Our session on Embedded Librarianship was well attended, the food was delicious, and as always the company was fab.  So onto summer I go.

I am so lucky to have an unplugged summertime retreat.  After the family time is over and the kids are tucked in bed, the books get read!  I am on the hunt for some more tweens to share their reading habits with me.

Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Like many of you, I will be soon taking to the sky and landing in New Orleans for ALA.  I am quite excited, not only to see all of your smiling faces, but because one of my best friends in the world lives there and I will finally get a chance to hang out with him and his adorable family.

I will be co-presenting a session on Embedded Librarianship along with the rest of the superb team of librarians from LREI and superstar Buffy Hamilton.  If you get a chance, you should swing on by!

I'm also on the outgoing side of the ALSC Library Service to Special Needs Children and their Caregivers Committee.  The program being put together by committee members (and guest speakers) is Sensory Storytime: Preschool Programming that Makes Sense for Kids with Autism.  This is a presentation that is bound to help libraries and patrons alike!

I will be out and about, so if you see me on the street or on the floor, please say hi!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blast from the Past - Maya Running, by Anjali Banerjee

Things around My Tweendom have been insanely busy lately, hence the blog pause that lasted much longer than anticipated.  Our tweens have left the building, our inventory is complete and we are furiously planning for the upcoming ALA in NOLA, summer grants and next year's curriculum.

To keep your thirst for all things books quenched, here is a book blurb from 2005 and my first blog, Booktopia. 

Be careful what you wish for!

How many times has that statement turned out to be true? For Maya Mukherjee, they should have been words to live by.

It's the mid 1970s in Manitoba, and Maya is not a happy girl. Her friends call her lunchtime dal "barf", her parents are making her hang out with the Ghose boys, she has a huge crush on Jamie, and Brian just called her the "N" word. The only bright spot is that Maya has convinced her parents to let her beautiful cousin Pinky come over from India for 3 weeks.

Pinky is beautiful and actually seems exotic to Maya, with her saris, kohl lined eyes and her Kathak dancing. Pinky has also brought along a golden statue of Ganesh. When Jamie's affections turn from Maya to Pinky, Maya turns to Ganesh for help. Little does she know that this sweet loving trickster god will turn her life upside down.

Even though Maya starts to live the life she thought she wanted, she is not feeling very good about it. Her parents are shadows of their former selves, and her friends just aren't themselves. And Jamie ... his adoration is becoming downright scary.

This is a  tween read that would be great for anyone who feels like the odd one out. The story obviously relies heavily on the author Anjali Banerjee's own life, and though it is dated in the 1970s, the journey for self discovery is a timeless one.

Monday, May 23, 2011

On the Clip Board

Frenzy.  That is school right now.  The kids are trying to check absolutely everything out that they possibly can before the last day!  Here are a few selections that were on the clipboard in the past few days!

Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide, by Leslie M. M. Blume

The Romeo and Juliet Code, by Phoebe Stone

Swords: An Artist's Devotion, by Ben Boos


Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull

Airman, by Eoin Colfer

What are your tweens reading these days?

Friday, May 13, 2011


I am always on the look out for books that support the curriculum at my school.  I am always on the look out for good books.  So imagine my delight when I found the perfect combination of the two while browsing my local public library shelves.
First off, Trickster is gorgeous.  It has shelf appeal and format appeal coming out the wazoo.  And then comes the content, which does everything else all kinds of justice.

As you can imagine, what lies within is a collection of trickster tales that are haunting, beautiful, humorous and clever all at once.  There are 20 tales in all, and readers will find some common threads between tales.  Azban and the Crayfish (Bruchac, Bruchac, & Dembicki) tells the story of a clever raccoon and a lying crayfish, while How Wildcat Caught A Turkey (Stands With Many & Sperry) tells a similar tale about a tricky rabbit and some not-so-lucky turkeys.  Not all of the stories feature animals alone as some may assume.   The tall tale of Moshup's Bridge (Perry, Piers & White), and When Coyote Decided to Get Married (Thorsgard & Arrington) are just two of the stories that feature human characters along side a cast of animals.

Stylistically, the art runs the gamut from hauntingly realistic illustrations to cartoon, yet the collection never feels disjointed.  Each story is like a fresh new breath, and the art simply compliments the feeling.

End-notes feature a statement from Matt Dembicki speaking of his inspiration to get this collection together.  After reading American Indian Trickster Tales, by Ortiz and Erdoes he realized how little he knew of Native American culture and wanted to put together a collection of tales in sequential format. Dembicki wanted to make sure that the stories were all written by Native American storytellers and that he had the support of the community.  The end product is this collection.   There are also mini biographies of all of the storytellers and artists involved in the creation of Trickster, and these are sure to give inspiration to budding storytellers and artists alike.

While I will be returning this collection to the library, I will also be going out to purchase it to live on my book shelf at home.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Real Life Tween Reader

"Lock" is a book-a-day-boy-reader.  He is a shining example of why the idea of boys as non-readers is in the realm of stereotype (at least in my own work place).  He keeps me on my toes, because not only does he read on average a book-a-day when he's on a roll, but he expects new and fresh recommendations each time!  He's pretty amenable to listening to suggestions, but he has a definite idea of what it is that he likes.

Do you consider yourself a reader? 
Yes, I consider myself a reader.  

What are your favorite genres to read? 
My favorite genres to read are fantasy fiction/ science fiction.

How do you select the books you want to read?  
I select my books by having people recommend them to me: parents, teachers, etc.

What is your favorite book so far?  
My favorite book of all time is probably Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

What is your favorite thing about reading?  
My favorite thing about reading is that it is an easy way to pass the time and there are always a lot of good books just waiting to be read.

Do you read on an e-reader/phone/computer?
No I do not read on an electronic device.

What kinds of books do you think are most popular with kids your age?  Why?  
I think that the most popular books with boys my age are fantasy fiction/ sci-fi. I think for girls a popular genre is Realistic fiction/ gossip fiction. Because for girls they can connect to it. And for boys we can enjoy different parts of it.

What are you currently reading?  
I am currently reading Airman by Eoin Colfer.

Friday, April 22, 2011

On the Clipboard

It's been a while!  While our schedule has been cuh-razy at school lately, the tweens are still reading up a storm.  Here's a little sampling of what's been on the clipboard lately!

 Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld
 If You're Reading This, It's Too Late, by Pseudonymous Bosch
 The Schwa Was Here, by Neal Shusterman
The Hound of Rowan, by Henry H. Neff
Rebel, by Willo Davis Roberts

What have your tweens been reading lately?

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Real Life Tween Reader

Sparkle is another reader who has been wandering around this library since she was 4. She will generally give anything a test drive, which is an invaluable service!  She's not shy about letting us know why a book works or why it doesn't!  It's fabulous to see a tween reader who knows what she likes, but is willing to give new things a chance.

Do you consider yourself a reader?
Yes, I do consider myself a reader.

What are your favorite genres to read?
Murder mysteries, fantasy, and humorous gruesome books.

How do you select the books you want to read?
I mostly ask for recommendations from librarians, or friends.

What is your favorite book so far?
My favorite book so far is A Tale Dark and Grimm because it is funny *and* bloody.

What is your favorite thing about reading?
My favorite thing about reading is learning the incredible character's story.

Do you read on an e-reader/phone/computer?
Nope.  Only the real kind of book.

What kinds of books do you think are the most popular with kids your age?  Why?
I have no idea.  I'm really not up to date on those things.

What are you currently reading?
I am reading The Romeo and Juliet Code.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Eve of National Poetry Month

I have always been someone who enjoys poetry.  From the time I was young and obsessed with Dennis Lee and Shel Silverstein, to my gothy teen years with Edgar Allan Poe, into adulthood and loving found poetry, poems have always been part of my life.

Many tweens are fans of poetry and often write their own.  Here are some links to use during National Poetry Month (and beyond!) to get poetry into the hands of tweens!

Online Magnetic Poetry
Tweens can drag words over to the "magnetic" board.  They can either save their work or start over again!

Gotta Book's 30 Poets in 30 Days
Come back daily to find previously unpublished works from poets such as Calef Brown, Arthur A. Levine,  and Eileen Spinelli!
Write A Poem with Jack Prelutsky
Click through and have Jack Prelutsky guide you through the poetry process!

Write an Autobiographical Poem
Use the template to craft your own poem, all about you!

Do you have some resources, or are you doing cool poetry activities with your tweens? Let me know, and I can add to the list!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tween Readers

Star is what I like to call a "stealth" reader.  She asks for recommendations occasionally, but more often than not, I'll just catch a glimpse of her legs heading up the stairs, or the door closing behind her.  Her name will be on the clipboard with a barcode number right beside.

Do you consider yourself a reader? Why or why not?
Of course!  I read almost all the time!  Reading is one of my favorite things.

What are your favorite genres to read?
I love to read mystery books and historical fiction.  I like mystery because sometimes I solve the mystery before the character (which is awesome)!  I like historical fiction because I like to hear about mostly true past.

What is your favorite book so far?
That's a tough one.  I love all the books I read but my favorites would have to be Mother Daughter Book Club because it is a very real book and you can relate to the characters,  Harry Potter because of the fiction aspect and adventure,  Gilda Joyce because of the mystery,  and The Westing Game because of...well...EVERYTHING.

What is your favorite thing about reading?
My favorite thing about reading would have to be being able to get to know the character and how they deal with life's little issues from chocolate magical jumping frogs to crushes.

Do you read on an e-reader/phone/computer?
I sometimes read on my kindle, but only at home.  I read a book on one once for a book club I was doing but I love the floppy pages of a book.  Plus I truly highly dislike  (notice I didn't say hate)  back light when I'm reading.

What kinds of books do you think are the most popular with kids your age?  Why?
I think kids love a graphic novel or a book about adventure (although graphic novels are often adventurey) but who wouldn't want to get lost in an adventure and pretend to do what the character is doing?

What are you currently reading?
Right now I am reading Much Ado About Anne the second book in the  Mother Daughter Book Club , after that I will read Dear Pen Pal the third book in the series.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

On the Clip Board

Here are some of the books that our tweens are reading these days!

Weird Nature, by John Downer

The Tale of Emily Windsnap, by Liz Kessler

Nature Girl, by Jane Kelley

Operation Red Jericho, by Joshua Mowll

Tiger Moon, by Antonia Michaelis

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Passion and Poison: Tales of Shape-Shifters, Ghosts, and Spirited Women

I was browsing my local public library the other day looking for tween titles that i hadn't seen before, and Passion and Poison caught my eye with its' fetching cover and creepy title.  Kids are always asking us for "scary" stories and it is sometimes difficult to find something scary that is still age appropriate at the same time.  This collection of original takes on traditional folklore motifs is just the thing.

Author Janice M. Del Negro wrote these tales to be read aloud, but even someone reading to him/herself is bound to get the chills somewhere in this collection.  There are 8 tales in all ranging from the more traditional ghost story "Skulls and Bones, Ghosts, and Gold", to the truly gory "The Severed Hand", with my favorite being the latter.

All of the stories are hauntingly illustrated by Vince Natale to great effect. Readers who have been fans of Gidwitz's recent Tale Dark and Grimm are certain to enjoy these dark and creepy tales.

Readers beware...not for the faint of heart!