Monday, March 30, 2009

Twilight Zone: Looks Like Somebody's Been Hitting the Gym

(Cue teenage girls screaming and swooning and their mothers trying their hardest not to do so as well.)

What I find oddest? Edward is barely even in the book and isn't one to go around shirtless anyway. Isn't Jacob the shirtless star of New Moon?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March April Madness: SLJ's Battle of the Books

As March Madness continues and sports fans across the nation anxiously watch their NCAA brackets go down the toilet* booklovers can celebrate the triumph of real Cinderella stories (and similarly mourn the losses) in School Library Journal's Battle of the Books, which pits 16 of last year's best books against each other to see which is "the baddest of them all."

Seeing as books themselves can't really battle it out on the court, a panel of all-star authors have been chosen to select the winners. Titles encompass a readership from upper elementary through high school, which makes it interesting, but also difficult to choose a winner. On what merits is a book judged? Can Jon Sciezka's vote be bought? And does The Porcupine Year stand a chance against The Hunger Games?

The first round of the tournament begins the week of April 13th. If it were up to me, The Hunger Games would trounce everyone, but alas, while I think it will make it safely to Round 2, I'm predicting John Green to pass The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks onto Round 3. I suppose only time will tell. Pick your favorites and follow along on the SLJ blog.

* My bracket had Pittsburgh winning the tournament, and they lost in the Elite Eight to Villanova. Darn.

Twilight Zone: Comic Relief

Sure, you could spend a whole weekend devouring all of the books in the Twilight saga. But if you're not so predisposed to that idea, you can check out this comic by artist/author Lucy Knisley where one reluctant Twi-hard who did the above kindly distills her experience and then summarizes the four-book saga into a quick (an amazingly accurate and thorough!) 16 panels. Impressive.

Seeing it boiled down almost makes me wish for those hours spent reading back, and most assuredly makes me more than embarassed at proclaiming to a room full of people "I would leave my husband for Edward Cullen*." But who am I kidding? Those were some good angsty hours. Except for most of Breaking Dawn; I'll take those hours back any day.

Thanks (again) to Fuse #8 for the link.

* It should be noted that this was immediately after reading the first book and that my husband was travelling extensively for work and I probably hadn't seen him in about a month. I was sad and lonely, and Edward was my only hope.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Completely Off-Topic: Baghead Cat

This might just be one of the most hilarious YouTube videos I've ever seen.

Thank you to Best Week Ever for posting this gem and making my day.

That is all.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Parade of Awesome: Spring/Summer 2009

This spring and summer I will be embarking on an adventure which will henceforth be known as the "Parade of Awesome." It is a parade of exciting personal ventures (many of which are library related and will be blogged about, but some that will not) that will take me around the country and across the globe.

Just what might such a "Parade of Awesome" include? I'm glad you asked. In date order, I bring you the the calendar of events...

April 4-5: Conference for my summer position as Director of Workshops and Resources (one of the Operations Director roles) at Teach For America's Chicago Institute (actual conference is in Houston, TX)

April 5-11: Maxing and relaxing with my family-in-law on Hilton Head Island, SC

April 13: Day of shadowing at the middle school where I will work next year in Alexandria, VA

April 16-17: Koha (open source library software) Conference in Plano, TX

April 24-26: Conference for my summer position as Director of Workshops and Resources at Teach For America's Chicago Institute in Chicago, IL

April 27-29: NJLA Conference in Long Branch, NJ (I'm totally pumped to be attending both the pre-conference on Tween Services and GSBA Luncheon with John Green; my excitement for all of the terrific NJLA YA Section programs is a given)

May 3: Half-Marathon in Long Branch, NJ (goal is sub 2 hours)

May 4-18: Belated HONEYMOON in Italy!

May 19: Rutgers SCILS Convocation (though perhaps by then it'll be the SCI Convocation)

May 20-25: Wedding and festivities for friends in Denver, Co

May 29: BookExpo America in New York, NY (I can feel the Catching Fire ARC in my hands now!)

June 5: Little brother's Rock-n-Roll wedding at the Madison Hotel (pretty!)

June 9-July 29: Rockin' out in the resource room with leveled readers, manipulatives, teaching guides and new teachers at Teach For America's Chicago Institute at our host university, Illinois Institute of Technology. (the photo is of one of last summer's resource rooms)

And then, in August, I'll probably do a few little things, like buy a house and move to Virginia.

Let the parade begin!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pump Up the Volume: It's a...Library Party!

I don't care if this is a children's song. It rocks my world.

Thanks to Fuse #8 for the link.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Review in Two: How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith

Being a teenager is hard; especially when the most abundant forms of employment - babysitting and camp counseling - are one-way tickets to the Terrorverse. To survive the horror movie you've unwittingly walked into, use this detailed guide with tips on navigating standard plot devices, when it's okay to check on that noise you heard upstairs (duh, never!) and how to outwit various slashers and make it to the final credits alive.

How To Survive a Horror Movie: All the Skills to Dodge the Kills
by Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Books, 2007

Hi. lar. ious. I picked up How to Survive a Horror Movie because it was recommended by several other young adult librarians, and I couldn't put it down. From page one the author has you laughing out loud at the contrived, yet no less frightening, plot lines and characters that are standard in horror movies. Each chapter focuses on a different type of horror movie genres and includes subsections like "What to Do if You Did Something Last Summer" and "How to Defeat a Killer Doll." The book does assume basic knowledge/viewership of horror classics, and includes a helpful appendix of "Additional Study Materials" (read: list of awesome, must-see horror movies from the various genres) to get you started.

Sample text:

"Your goal - your only goal - is to reach the nearest car or truck, get inside, and blow town as fast as inhumanly possible. If you reach an unoccupied vehicle first, get in (don't bother smashing the window - they left the car unlocked), lock the doors and pull down the driver's-side sun visor. The keys will simply drop into your lap. When you try to start the engine, it'll turn over again and again, but don't worry - it'll kick in as soon as the attacker(s) reaches the car and pounds on the windows." (p. 30-31)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Twilight Zone: Twi Tour Coming to a Town Near You!

Now usually I don't do this (post just minutes after posting), but...

The Twi Tour is coming to my hometown of Parsippany, NJ, and I think that (aside from the whole Hunger Games movie) this is some of the best news I've heard all week!

Sure, the movie was fairly terrible, and the casting was off, (and the book itself not a literary accomplishment) but I can't help but feel a certain sense of giggly anticipation knowing that thousands of screaming teenagers will descend upon my hometown for two days at the of August. And while I don't see myself shelling out my hard-earned cash on any of the various photo opportunities or autograph signings, I might just have to spend $20 to get into the convention and take pictures of all the crazed Twi-hards (for blogging purposes only, of course).

And O.M.G., there's a Vampire Ball and costume competition! This just keeps getting better.

The good news is that by some miraculous circumstance, the actors coming to Parsippany's convention are actually the only ones who I felt were well-cast. No "stuttering and long pauses are how my character talks" Kristen Stewart. No "skinny kid who smokes, drinks, eats fish and chips, has never been to the gym, and hunches his shoulders, yet somehow is a hunky strong vampire" Robert Pattinson. Thank G-d. That would only bring pandemonium of the very bad sort.

Let the Games Begin: Hunger Games, the Movie!

O.M.G. I saw this news this morning and am beside myself with excitement!

Suzanne Collins will be adapting the book to a screenplay herself, so I'm thinking that bodes well for a good book to movie translation. Plus, this is one of those books that you saw as a movie while reading it.

Now I'm going to start thinking about casting. Please no Dakota Fanning!*

*It's not that I'm anti-Dakota Fanning in general. I just think she's all wrong for this.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thirteen Reasons Why...You Should Read This Book

1. Clay Jensen comes home from school one day to find a brown bag filled with cassette tapes recorded by his crush, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

2. The tapes explain the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her young life.

3. Clay is one of the reasons.

6. The audio book features the narrator's voice and a separate voice for Hannah's tapes, so it feels like you're listening along with Clay.

7. You can follow along with the story through the interactive map on the book's website.

8. Even without the audio or the map, you are so quickly drawn into the story and it is so vivid and real in your head that you can't put it down.

9. The novel is former bookseller and library staffer Jay Asher's debut novel. And it's YA!

10. Jay Asher will respond to your book discussion group's questions...via cassette tape.

11. Word of mouth has grown the audience of the novel so much since it's 2007 release that for the past two weeks it has been the #3 bestselling chapter book on the New York Times rankings!

12. And speaking of was written up (albeit years after publication) in The New York Times.

13. Do you really need another reason? Just read it already! I promise you won't be disappointed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

College Kids, Reading and Activism

Sunday's Washington Post featured an article by Ron Charles about the reading interests (or lack there of) of college students. The author is troubled that the reading selections of today's college students aren't the revolutionary, politically charged, introspective reads of yesteryear. Instead, Charles laments, "Here we have a generation of young adults away from home for the first time, free to enjoy the most experimental period of their lives, yet they're choosing books like 13-year-old girls -- or their parents." Chief on a current college student's reading list: Twilight.

Yes, it's true, college students are reading Twilight. So are middle schoolers, high schoolers, young professionals, stay-at-home-moms, businessmen and grandparents. Everyone is reading Twilight. It's a phenomenon like Harry Potter where readership is not defined by a certain demographic. And it's one book for Pete's sake! (Okay, okay, it's four books - but it's not as though identifying as a person who has read Twilight means something other than that you are alive in the year 2009). Let's not make it out to be more than it is.

So yeah, college students are reading Twilight, and I guess it's the end of the world because this is evidently an indication that instead of a desire to change the world, it means they want to revert to the safety of childhood. I don't think anyone is going to argue that college students aren't as mature and independent as they once were. Extended adolescence - adultescence, if you will - is a fact of our twenty-first century that is plainly evident in the over-involvement of parents in their adult children's lives*, the "boomerang" generation, and the ever-increasing age at which young people are marrying and having children. To say that today's twenty-somethings aren't growing up and moving on to full-fledged adulthood as fast as they used to isn't a shock. But to demean their activism and engagement in critical thought just because they aren't reading Barthelme (who, by the way, I had too look up!), is foolish.

These same students are the motivated young people who propelled our nation to elect its first African-American president just a few short months ago. These same students are applying in droves (over 25,000 applications this year alone) to teach for two years in low-income communities through Teach For America. Yes, they drink a lot and aside from Twilight the other book that most have probably read is Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell - a book so repugnant that I can't understand how a movie version got an R rating instead of NC-17 or worse (if there even is worse). But they read a lot of textbooks and classics in all of their college coursework, and college is only getting more and more academically rigorous and it's more important than ever to be a well-rounded student who achieves inside and outside the classroom.

Give the kids a break. As noted in a previous post, it's not like publishers, booksellers or libraries are making any effort to appeal to the college set. So leave them be. At least they're reading during their minimal free time. They have a lifetime to read.

* Last summer I worked with college students and the day before they arrived a mother called concerned that the special sheets and comforter she had shipped for her son had not yet arrived in the mail. I assured her that he could go to Target and buy another set if it didn't arrive in time. She drove 7 hours the next day with a second set of bedding, made her son's bed and left. True story.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Consider Yourself Part of the Furniture...

May I introduce to you the newest member of the LibrariYAn family: the card catalog!

Found on on Monday afternoon, this little bundle of joy measures a precious 3' x 3' x 2' and comes in at just over 10 lbs. LibrariYAn and catalog are doing well and are looking forward to coming home in the next few days (pick up has been arranged for Wednesday).

Every librarian thinks her card catalog is the cutest, but this one really caught my eye with its unique small stature and single row of drawers beneath pull out shelves. I see a living room in her future! And I know, it's been said a million times, but it's true: no librarian knows love until she owns one of these.

Monday, March 9, 2009

PrePub Review in Two: The Unknowns: A Mystery by Benedict Carey

Spurred to action by a series of mathematical clues left behind by a missing math tutor, two seventh graders get in over their heads trying to solve a mystery by and using the skills and math strategies they were taught to save their trailer park community from certain danger. The Unknowns: A Mystery answers the eternal question "When am I ever going to use any of this stuff in real life?"

The Unknowns: A Mystery by Benedict Carey
Amulet Books, $16.95
Recommended for: Ages 9-12
Release Date: April 1, 2009

Other thoughts:
This was my first ARC, so I really wanted to love this book. It started out well enough, even though it take a few pages to get into the rhythm of the story. The the voice was a little campy, but it's written for middle schoolers, so that can be forgiven. About halfway through I was digging the mathematical puzzles and having serious flashbacks to algebra and geometry class.

Just as the story was starting to get good, however, it started to fall apart. The math and the storyline became a little confusing and a tad haphazard. New characters came onto the scene and the voice changed from a third-person observer reflecting on the events of that fateful summer to third-person omniscient. There were x and y axises with multiple lines on the plane, circles, and a clue on a piece of notebook paper that seems to have come from nowhere that was ever explained. As characters climbed around underground in the dark tunnels, I felt like I was in the dark and lacking sufficient detail about what exactly was going on and how the story would resolve. If it was this difficult for me, I'm not sure a middle schooler would be able to make it through at all.

The story had a great foundation, with a quirky math setting on the island of Adjacent, (named because it was located adjacent to the Folsum Energy plant) and a cast of loveable throwaway kids who used their street and school smarts to save their community when no one there cared enough even to notice something rotten was brewing under their feet. For the first few clues, the reader was even able to play along in figuring out the clues. But then, inexplicably, the momentum went away and the clues became random guesswork instead of math, there wasn't enough description of what was going on, and though it concluded with the kids saving the day, it wasn't as satisfying, because you weren't really sure how you got there. I enjoyed the story, but can't give it more than a C unless some serious editing takes place between ARC and publishing.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Grrr! I am on a bus headed to Virginia and the wireless isn't all it's cracked up to be, so my plan to post the cover art for Kristin Cashore's Fire (releasing in Fall 2009) has been foiled. Thus, you will just have to follow this link yourself and see it on her blog.

Now it's only the ARC cover, so the final cover could be different. But I hope not. I'm a big fan. I love the rich colors and layers to the artwork. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

(Twi)light at the End of the Tunnel!

I work in a public library and am most often stationed at the main reference desk. When I'm not putting my masters degree to good use refilling the paper in the printer I'm most often to be found assisting middle and high school students with their homework and research papers. Kids are always coming in looking for literary criticism on Fitzgerald and Faulkner and others of that ilk.

But I've noticed a trend among the female students. No longer is Jane Austen their go to gal. Nope. It's Emily Bronte.

Something tells me these Edward Cullen loving ladies aren't picking up Wuthering Heights just because they heard it was a fun read. Bella's favorite book has become the book of choice for this year's research paper, and I'll give credit where credit is due.

Good job, Stephenie Meyer! Your fans are moving on from the Twilight saga to bigger and better things. You've inspired throngs of teenage girls to read the classics. Or at least one of them.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Everybody Else Is Doing It...

so why can't I? I planned to do this this morning, but then there were hairs to cut and miles to run and jobs to work. Alas! Without further ado, I bring to you...

The Facebook 100 YA Books Meme

From Karen Brooks-Reese

The following list of books teens love, books teens should read, and books adults who serve teens should know about was compiled IN ABSOLUTELY NO SCIENTIFIC MANNER and should be taken with a very large grain of salt.Instructions:

Put an "X" next to the books you've read
Put a "+" next to the books you LOVE
Put a "*" next to the books you plan on reading
Tally your "X"s at the bottom
Share with your friends!

1. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Douglas Adams
2. Kit's Wilderness / David Almond *
3. Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian / Sherman Alexie *
4. Speak / Laurie Halse Anderson X+ (MOST favorite-ist book EVER!)
5. Feed / M.T. Anderson X
6. Flowers in the Attic / V.C. Andrews X (my FIRST adult book! I don’t count this as YA)
7. 13 Reasons Why / Jay Asher X
8. Am I Blue? / Marion Dane Bauer (editor)
9. Audrey Wait! / Robin Benway *
10. Weetzie Bat / Francesca Lia Block X
11. Tangerine / Edward Bloor *
12. Forever / Judy Blume X
13. What I Saw and How I Lied / Judy Blundell *
14. Tyrell / Coe Booth *
15. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants / Ann Brashares X
16. A Great and Terrible Beauty / Libba Bray *
17. The Princess Diaries / Meg Cabot *
18. The Stranger / Albert Camus X+ (I was big into existentialism in high school)
19. Ender's Game / Orson Scott Card
20. Postcards from No Man's Land / Aidan Chambers *
21. Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky *
22. And Then There Were None / Agatha Christie X (YA? Really?)
23. Gingerbread / Rachel Cohn *
24. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist / Rachel Cohn and David Levithan X
25. Artemis Fowl (series) / Eoin Colfer *
26. The Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins X+ (MOST favorite-ist book of 2008)
27. The Midwife's Apprentice / Karen Cushman
28. The Truth About Forever / Sarah Dessen *
29. Little Brother / Cory Doctorow X
30. A Northern Light / Jennifer Donnelly31. Tears of a Tiger / Sharon Draper
32. The House of the Scorpion / Nancy Farmer *
33. Breathing Underwater / Alex Flinn *
34. Stardust / Neil Gaiman35. Annie on My Mind / Nancy Garden *
36. What Happened to Cass McBride / Gail Giles
37. Fat Kid Rules the World / K.L. Going *
38. Lord of the Flies / William Golding *
39. Looking for Alaska / John Green X+
40. Bronx Masquerade / Nikki Grimes
41. Out of the Dust / Karen Hesse *
42. Hoot / Carl Hiaasen *
43. The Outsiders / S.E. Hinton X+
44. Crank / Ellen Hopkins *
45 The First Part Last / Angela Johnson *
46. Blood and Chocolate / Annette Curtis Klause *
47. Arrow's Flight / Mercedes Lackey
48. Hattie Big Sky / Kirby Larson
49. To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee X
50. Boy Meets Boy / David Levithan *
51. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks / E. Lockhart X+
52. The Giver / Lois Lowry X+
53. Number the Stars / Lois Lowry *
54. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie / David Lubar *
55. Inexcusable / Chris Lynch X (Boo and hiss! If I never read the name “Gigi Boudakien” again in my life, it will be a happy one)
56. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things / Carolyn Mackler *
57. Dragonsong / Anne McCaffrey
58. White Darkness / Geraldine McCaughrean *
59. Sold / Patricia McCormick *
60. Jellicoe Road / Melina Marchetta X+
61. Wicked Lovely / Melissa Marr
62. Twilight / Stephenie Meyer X+ (I confess.)
63. Dairy Queen / Catherine Murdock *
64. Fallen Angels / Walter Dean Myers
65. Monster / Walter Dean Myers * (I tried once. It didn’t work out. I’ll try again.)
66. Step From Heaven / An Na
67. Mama Day / Gloria Naylor
68. The Keys to the Kingdom (series) / Garth Nix
69. Sabriel / Garth Nix70. Airborn / Kenneth Oppel
71. Eragon / Christopher Paolini *
72. Hatchet / Gary Paulsen
73. Life As We Knew It / Susan Beth Pfeffer *
74. The Golden Compass / Phillip Pullman *
75. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging / Louise Rennison X+
76. The Lightning Thief / Rick Riordan
77. Always Running: La Vida Loca / Luis Rodriguez
78. how i live now / Meg Rosoff
79. Harry Potter (series) / J.K. Rowling X+
80. Holes / Louis Sachar *
81. Catcher in the Rye / J. D. Salinger * (I tried once. It didn’t work out. I’ll try again.)
82. Push / Sapphire83. Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi X84. Unwind / Neil Shusterman *
85. Coldest Winter Ever / Sister Souljah
86. Stargirl / Jerry Spinelli *
87. Chanda's Secrets / Allan Stratton
88. Tale of One Bad Rat / Brian Talbot
89. Rats Saw God / Rob Thomas *
90. Lord of the Rings / J.R.R. Tolkien (Watching the movies was quite enough, thank you!)
91. Stuck in Neutral / Terry Trueman *
92. Gossip Girl / Cecily Von Ziegesar X
93. Uglies / Scott Westerfeld X
94. Every Time a Rainbow Dies / Rita Williams-Garcia
95. Pedro and Me / Judd Winick
96. Hard Love / Ellen Wittlinger
97. American Born Chinese / Gene Luen Yang X
98. Elsewhere / Gabrielle Zevin *
99. I am the Messenger / Markus Zusak X
100. The Book Thief / Markus Zusak X+

Alicia’s Total = 28

Kind of embarrassing, I suppose. Of course, there are at least 50-75 YA titles that I’ve read but aren’t on the list. Plus, I’ve only really been reading YA for the past year. So I guess it’s not so bad after all. There are definitely a lot of *s on the list. There is only so much time!

What titles would I add to the list?

Go Ask Alice/Anonymous (I hated it too, but it's quintessential YA)
Boy Toy/Barry Lyga
The Chocolate War/Robert Cormier
Pride and Prejudice/Jane Austen
Lovely Bones/Alice Siebold
Life of Pi/Yann Martel
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time/Mark Haddon

Others who have blogged their results:

Librarilly Blonde
Librarian By Day

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Underserved Populations: The "Other" Young Adults

In the library world, the term "young adult" is used to refer to individuals aged 12-18 (sometimes 21). In recent years, much attention has been paid to this group and to the historical lack of services and materials that cater to the interests of these young folk. Over the past ten years, however, publishers, authors, and librarians alike have dutifully tapped this market, giving rise to teen divisions of publishing houses, honors such as the Printz Award to recognize the contributions of young adult authors, "Young Adult" or "Teen Librarians" tasked with developing a collection and providing programming to teens, and of course, Nerdfighters.

But what about those other young adults? You know the ones I'm talking about. Those guys and gals in their post-high school/college years. Quarter-lifers. Twenty-somethings. The "real" young adults, who are both already adults, but still young and new to the scene of adulthood. Maybe I'm more sympathetic to the cause because I am one myself, but I find that this is truly the most underserved age-group, librarilly speaking. There's a sense that people in their twenties who are busy starting careers and settling into long-term romantic relationships aren't exactly the library demographic, but libraries also don't tend to offer programming that caters to their needs and interests. And so I wonder: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

It just may be a case of "if you build it, they will come." It worked for teens, right? So why can't it work for twenty-something young adults? Most of them are going to wind up at the library sooner or later as parents anyway. Why not bring them back sooner? I'm not saying it will be effortless, and I certainly don't think it's something that would catch on overnight. But with the proper foundation, I think it could really catch on. A lot of people in their twenties don't have a lot of money and could benefit from some free media. Think about it. The collection is already there, it just has to be marketed in the right place and in the right way:

* Commuters could save major duckets by checking out books (or CDs) of their favorite new releases instead of buying them at Barnes & Noble or
* And what about downloadable audio? You can do that from home!
* The library's DVD collection is ripe for replacing the monthly Netflix/Blockbuster subscription

And what about programming?

* A fiction book club where monthly reads feature protagonists in their twenties
* A non-fiction book club focusing on topics like jobs, relationships and finances
* Cooking classes on "Meals for One" (bonus: a nice way to meet other singles!)
* Displays including titles like Suze Orman's Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke and Abby Wilner and Alexandra Robbins' Quarter-Life Crisis,

But how to get 'em to the library in the first place? What about promoting events and the collection...

* through posters/flyers at the gym, restaurants, the supermarket, laundromat and bars?
* in the calendar and advertisement sections of area publications similar to On Tap, The Village Voice, and Time Out?
* via direct mail (or e-mail!) to patrons in the age demographic?

I think this could really work - especially in high population centers. I think I see the next wave of library patrons coming our way.