Personal Best of 2012

Best Audiobook - The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater  (She plays the bagpipes!!! Enough said.)

Best Graphic Novel - Squish: Brave New Pond (I have resisted graphic novels, but I love Jennifer & Matthew Holm)

Best Creepy Book about Librarians- The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

Best Cozy Mystery Series featuring a Monkesque Librarian - The Miss Zukas series by Jo Dereske

Best World Building Novel - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Best Novel Written in Verse - A Girl Called Mister by Nikki Grimes (Poetry is difficult enough, but poetry arranged into a novel BRILLIANT!)


Truth in Fiction - The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan

It is never too late to be what you might have been ~ George Eliot

With such an opening I should have known that I would fall totally and completely in love with The One and Only Ivan.

Me being me, I would have to disagree with the use of the word 'never", but I generally agree with the premise of the above statement . If I didn't, I wouldn't have entered library school after 16 years as a classroom teacher, joined the Peace Corps (twice), or joined the blogging community.

"There's a difference, " Stella says gently, 
"between ' can't remember' and 'won't remember.'"
 "Memories are precious," Stella adds. "They help tell us who we are'

There is indeed a difference between can't and won't. Sometimes we won't remember because we can't deal with what the events in our past say about ourselves and others. Memories are indeed precious and are to be treasured. Memories are not who we are, nor are past events all that we are, but memories do help tell us who we are.

"They think I'm too old to cause trouble, " Stella says.
 "Old age," she says "is a powerful disguise."

This is SO true and it just made me laugh. HARD. It is truly amazing how some people, communities, institutions,  underestimate old people. Truth be told old people cause the most trouble in my experience. 


Post Read-a-Thon Update

Although the read-a-thon was not a personal success (meaning it was a comedy of errors), I had so much fun and will be ready for pure read-a-thon madness in April. I have to laugh at myself because the night before the marathon it would make sense to go to bed early, but I was out past midnight. It also makes sense to limit  appointments and errands. I start the day off with less than 6 hours of sleep and a 5 hour meeting. After the meeting I absolutely, positively had to go to the library (in the rain) to pick up items I had on hold. I get home during hour 9 of the read-a-thon, pop some popcorn and settle down with Winnie-the-Pooh and promptly nod off with that "silly old bear."

Book 1. The Best of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne 79 pages
I had never read Winnie-the-Pooh ( I was/am a Paddington fan ) and my first book of the read-a-thon was a bit of a letdown. Winnie-the-Pooh is not very bright.

Book 2. Alice in Blunderland by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
I wanted to read the Alice series for banned books week, but didn't get to it so this was my opportunity. I enoy Alice immensely. She is quite authentic and reminds me of many of my students. I will read the entire series at some point.

Book 3. 1+1=5 and Other Unlikely Additions by David LaRochelle Illustrated by Brenda Sexton. My favorite read of the read-a-thon. I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!

These wacky equations don't add up…or DO THEY?
1 goat + 1 unicorn = 3 horns!
1 set of triplets + 1 set of twins = 5 babies!
1 duet + 1 quartet = 6 musicians!
1 ant + 1 spider = 14 legs!
1 century + 1 decade = 110 years!

The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor Illustrated by Peter Parnall
This was my final book of the read-a-thon and it wins the prize for "most  profound line" Yes, I made that category up, but so what?

"Don't be
to learn
or anything."

"It's good to
with people
go alone."

"That way,"
he said,
"you can always
and listen
at the right time."

So here are the official questions and my responses for the end of the event meme:

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 9 of the read-a-thon , but hour 1 for me
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Gone Girl was a real page turner and I did stay up all night reading that one. Children's classics are very engaging. You can never go wrong rereading your favorite books from childhood.Who wouldn't want to hang out with Ramona and Beezus, Fudge, Ralph S. Mouse, and my beloved Anne of Green Gables?
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I have no suggestions. It was GREAT!
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I loved the cheerleaders on twitter and the posts on my blog.
  5. How many books did you read? I read four books, but I was totally exhausted and had a hectic day. I will read more books next time.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? The Best of Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Blunderland, 1+1=5 and Other Unlikely Additions, The Other Way to Listen
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? 1+1=5 and Other Unlikely Additions
  8. Which did you enjoy least? The Best of Winnie-the-Pooh
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I wasn't a cheerleader, but the cheerleaders rocked!
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I am very likely to participate in the Read-a-thon again. I would like to be a reader again.


Preparing for Dewey's Read-a-Thon

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon begins tomorrow. As I just learned that I did not get the youth services job that I blogged about earlier this week, I will be dedicating my precious reading time to comfort reads. My plan is to read only feel-good books tomorrow,  and that includes all of my favorite picture books, easy readers, middle grade and chapter books.

I doubt my ability to stay awake for 24 hours, but here is the plan such as it is. I will enjoy dinner out with a friend. I will then stop at the market for Mountain Dew, spiced apple cider,  and popcorn to keep me energized. At the official 6 AM start time (I am glad I read the FAQ's because I was planning to start at midnight) I will read my devotional for the 40 Days of Prayer for the Future of Friends, followed by the Seasons of God by Richard Blackaby. I am certain that I will begin to feel sleepy post inspirational fest, but I have a very important meeting to attend , so I will be taking a reading break to attend said meeting. Post meeting I plan to head on over to the public library so I can indulge in a wide range of children's books, and free myself to enjoy some random reading goodness. 

Some of my students suggested Dean Pitchford's The Big One-Oh, so I will definitely be reading that along with my personal favorites. No read-a-thon would be complete in my eyes without a dose of Charlotte's Web, Max's Words, The Boy Who Didn't Believe in Spring, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, Afrotina and the Three Bears, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Winnie the Pooh, and...


40 Days of Prayer for the Future of Friends

Tenth Month is shaping up to be quite an exciting month. I will learn if I am offered my first job as a librarian, participate in my first 24 hour read-a-thon, and participate in the 40 Days of Prayer. These are all exciting events and moments in my life, but at this precise moment I am most excited about the 40 Days of Prayer for the Future of Friends which begins tomorrow.

Our hope for this 40 Days of Prayer for the Future of Friends is that God will, indeed, use this time to gather us and reshape us. As our current FUM Triennial theme declares, we are: A Great People to Be Gathered — in Christ, in Community, for Mission. May we go even deeper in and further on in this season of intentional prayer and listening to Christ together.
As we continue to move faithfully into the 21st century, we are more clearly en­visioning FUM as a global association of orthodox Christian Quakers being gathered by Christ into a life of deep and transforming spiritual intimacy, beloved community, and faithful witness and ministry. We are:

• Gathered in Christ — As individual members and as a whole community, we seek to be transformed by the real presence of the risen Christ in our gatherings for worship and through the disciplined nurture of our communion with God. Through our intentional and faithful listening to Christ, we experi­ence his leadership and the power that transforms us into God’s image and enables us to do God’s will. As a great people being gathered, FUM commits to know, love, and obey the One who speaks to our condition.

• Gathered in Community — In a world often marked by division, violence, and injustice, FUM seeks to make visible an alternative — the beloved com­munity of Christ where love, forgiveness, truth, and compassion are nurtured and practiced. Through our diverse local meetings/churches, yearly meetings, and wider association, we partner together in ways that demonstrate the reconciling power of Christ and unite us in a common purpose. As a great people being gathered, FUM strives to live out Jesus’ prayer for his followers “…that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11).

• Gathered for Mission — As one expression of the body of Christ, we are called to continue Jesus’ ministry here on earth. As a community of ministers, we partner together across the world to heal, reconcile, work for justice and peace, evangelize and disciple, care for the earth, and gather people into fel­lowships where “Jesus Christ is known, loved, and obeyed as Teacher and Lord.” By equipping and resourcing individuals and groups, FUM seeks to faithfully respond to Jesus’ invitation and command to “go into all the world” in his name (Mark 16:15).

From 40 Days of Prayer for the Future of Friends: Introduction by Colin Saxton


The Best Part of the Interview: Storytime Fun

I recently interviewed for a position as a youth services librarian. As part of the interview process, candidates were required to perform a storytime that was videotaped and later posted to YouTube so that the entire staff could see all of the candidates. I enjoyed storytime immensely, but must admit that it was difficult for me to "perform" for a camera instead of a live audience of enraptured children and parents. Below is my storytime plan.

Welcome & Introduction

Opening songs
Hello, My Friends, Hello (repeated weekly)
The More We Read Together (repeated weekly) 

Clap Your Hands
Clap your hands, clap your hands,
Clap them just like me.
Touch your shoulders, touch your shoulders,
Touch them just like me.
Tap your knees, tap your knees,
Tap them just like me.
Shake your head, shake your head,
Shake it just like me.
Clap your hands, clap your hands.
Now let them quiet be.

Early Literacy Tip: Sing songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and point out the body parts as you name them. It’s a great way to increase vocabulary.

The theme for this week is Feathered Friends and today we will be working on the letter Bb. Our first book today is Birds by Kevin Henkes.

Book Birds by Kevin Henkes Illustrated by Laura Dronzek
Book Little Quack by LaurenThompson

Fingerplay/Action Rhyme/Song
In the Forest a song in ASL and English (to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”)

The RABBITS in the forest go hop, hop, hop,
Hop, hop, hop,hop, hop, hop
The RABBITS in the forest go hop, hop, hop,
All day long.

The BIRDS in the forest go flap, flap, flap...
The SQUIRRELS in the forest go climb, climb, climb...
The DEER in the forest go run, run, run...
The FROGS in the forest go ribbit, ribbit, ribbit...
The BEARS in the forest go grr, grr, grr

Book The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend

Fingerplay/Action Rhyme/Song
*Shaker Song ( to the tune of “London Bridges is Falling Down”)

Shake your shaker in the air
shake it here shake it there
Shake your shaker in the air,
Shake your shaker.

Shake it high and shake it low.
Shake it yes and shake it no.
Shake it high and shake it low
Shake your shaker.

Shake it up and shake it down
Rub your shaker on the ground.
Shake it up and shake it down
Shake your shaker.

One, two, shake it on your shoe.
Three, four, shake it on the floor.
Five, six, stir and mix.
Seven, eight, stand up straight.
Nine, ten, wave to all your friends.

Closing song
Goodbye, My Friends, Goodbye

Thank attendees/Announcements of other relevant programs/Encourage checkout of displayed and/or other books

Materials: bird pattern, craft stick, crayons, googly eyes, and glue sticks,
Provide materials on a paper plate for caregivers and patrons to complete the craft together
1. Choose a bird and color the picture.
2. Glue the bird to a craft stick.
3. Share your storytime adventures with someone.


Banned Books Week September 30 - October 6, 2012

Banned Books Week begins today. Celebrate your freedom to read! This week I plan to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and start the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Please share your plans for Banned Books Week in the comments.


Truth in Fiction- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

There are many reasons I love to read fiction, but the primary reason is that carefully crafted words spoken by well-developed characters have the ability to speak truth to my circumstances in a wonderfully unique way...

The Night Circus

                                    From The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

"You believe you could not live with the pain. Such pain is not lived with. It is only endured."
Tsukiko to Celia

"You're not destined or chosen, I wish I could tell you that you were if that would make it easier, but it's not true. You're in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that's enough."
Celia to Bailey


Shout Out to the Feel-Good Librarian - 1

I consider the Feel-good Librarian my sort of librarian. I discovered her blog recently and believe that if we knew each other, we would be kindred spirits. We both enjoy walks and labyrinths, but more importantly we are inspired by the myriad of people who approach the reference desk. There are so many wonderful aspects of librarianship, but helping people access the information they want or need is the absolute best.
FGL does not blog anymore, but I enjoy interactions of the feel good variety with several library patrons, and so with a shout out to the FGL, I am going to share some of those interactions on this blog from time to time.

"The BBC Ladies" are two mature white-haired women who come into the library together promptly at 9am on Seventh Days. The first time we met, I overheard them whispering and giggling about some movie being "far too racy". I asked if they needed help finding anything and they said no, they were just browsing. I continued shelving DVDs  (now with a smile on my face) as they browsed the shelves. When they entered the library the following week, we greet one another with a smile, and I ask again if they need help finding anything. They give each other a look, and then look at me, the youngish looking African American woman standing in front of them.

BBC Lady #1: Oh we tend to like a different type of show.

Me: Okay. What kind of show are you looking for today?

BBC Lady #1: We like British comedies.

Me: Do you like Keeping Up Appearances?

BBC Ladies now wearing shocked looks on their faces and sporting a twinkle in their eyes

Me: Hyacinth Bucket (or Bouquet as Ms. Hyacinth likes to hear it pronounced) is a riot...

It was not a life changing moment, but it did change the tone of the day. The ladies and I enjoyed a wonderful chat about Hyacinth and her many exploits. We talked about EastEnders, Doc Martin, and the BBC Ladies even took my recommendation to check out Ballykissangel. Yes, I know Ballykissangel is set in Ireland and is not a  British comedy, but the priest who is transferred to BallyK is English, and yes the show did air on BBC.


My Summer Reading Journey

Seventh Month 18, 2012

Spring is my favorite season, but nothing beats summer as my favorite season for reading. I have been away from the blog for a while, but after reading this post, dear reader, you will know why. You see, I was busy reading. As an educator, Summer is the time for flexible scheduling of activities and for prolonged leisure reading. My local library does not have a summer reading program for adults, but that has not stopped me from having some reading fun. For the first time in my life I made some reading goals, participated in virtual book clubs, and completed reading challenges. 

My reading goals for the summer morphed along the way, but essentially I got caught up in the "new to me" genre of cozy mysteries which inspired Goal 1: Read the complete Elizabeth Elliot series by Irene Allen. I enjoyed reading the mysteries, but the characters and the overall portrayal of Friends is what kept me interested in this series. I enjoy reading mysteries, but if I only had to choose 1 reading goal this summer it would have been to read widely and outside of my "comfort zone". I didn't have to choose only one goal so in the interest of being specific Goal 2: Join a virtual book club. I actually joined two virtual book clubs, 1 for professional development, Level Up Book Club, and 1 for my personal development, 1Book140. Both book clubs are fun and participation has definitely had me reading books I wouldn't normally read.  An unexpected perk of these virtual book clubs has been meeting other teachers and librarians who inspire me with their passion for books, service to others, and librarianship. As a direct result of these book clubs, and subsequent blog reading, I decided to step things up and then came Goal 3: Complete some reading challenges. This is fun because I have gotten to do some pretty silly things, and have discovered some good books along the way. For example, choosing a book I have heard bad things about introduced me to The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall. I can honestly say that without this challenge I never would have read the book, and although the topic was a bit disturbing, it was an interesting read. On that note, dear reader, I am off to continue my summer reading journey.


6 Word Library Story Winner

Congratulations to @GrammaofBoys for submitting the winning entry: Helping students find answers. Excellent grades!


National Library Week - Fourth Month 8-14, 2012

Today concludes National Library Week. This week has been great. I had the opportunity to share my experiences at the Colorado Teen Literature Conference and I was introduced to the You belong @ your library: 6 word story sweepstakes. The most highly rated story will receive Season 1 of Brad Meltzer's Decoded on DVD. Brad Meltzer is National Library Week Honorary Chair of National Library Week 2012. If you didn't participate in National Library Week here is your chance to get involved and have some fun.... VOTE! I would love to know the story that won your vote and why. If you are so inclined please share your own 6 word library stories. Comments are encouraged and welcomed

I thoroughly enjoyed the contest and wrote several of my own 6 word stories (more on that later). The winner will be announced Fourth Month 23, 2012.


Trust Him More

Third Month 24, 2012

Yesterday was my birthday. I went to see The Hunger Games. Obviously it was a post 2006 birthday celebration. A few words of explanation: My dad died the day before my birthday in 2006. I was in New York watching my Knicks defeat the Celtics. That was my 2006 birthday celebration. Birthdays have not been the same since.

I am a HUGE birthday person. I start celebrating my birthday the first day of each year. There are 81 days from the new year to my birthday. I was in Baltimore for my 30th birthday and called my favorite local radio station to join the 30 and over birthday club.You see I love celebrating the anniversary of my birth. I love getting older. I am just as enthusiastic now that I am 41 as I was when I was 21.

That enthusiasm is dampened by memories of 2006. After celebrating the best birthday ever, I returned to Baltimore to a note that changed my life. I did as the note requested and made a phone call and was informed that my dad was dead. I made subsequent calls and within days went from seats at Madison Square Garden to seats in the front pew. I don't remember much about that time, but these things I do remember.
  • Countless people talking about my dad's "transition." Nobody used the words death or dead.

  • People who didn't know better offering me seemingly endless platitudes. They meant well.

  • The presence of the Morehouse contingent. They made me smile. "You can always tell a Morehouse man, but you can't tell him much."

  • A colleague of my dad's having a conversation with me. This was one of the most important conversations of my life.
I don't remember the woman's name. I don't remember the name of the church she pastored. I do know that this woman of God recognized my grief and responded in a loving way. She sat next to me and just began talking. She didn't touch me and she didn't pretend to know what I was experiencing in the moment. She told me she loved me. She told me she loved my dad. She told me that she loved God. She told me that she knew I trusted God, and I needed to TRUST HIM MORE. Three simple words that have had a huge impact on my life. This woman didn't question my trust in God; she simply exhorted me to Trust Him More. Powerful!

My dad adopted me when I was 20 years old and died, aka transitioned, when I was 35. I loved having a father figure and I loved having a dad even more. 15 years was not enough time for us to have together. However, I have been given more time and that time is a gift. I am still a  HUGE birthday person. God has given me the best birthday gift imaginable...life, and this year I will TRUST HIM MORE.

Thanks to my friends and family for the birthday gifts:
  • doc popcorn
  • Big Hunk candy bar
  • Sweet Factory treats - chocolate covered orange sticks, boston baked beans
  • earrings
  • The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales because "Everyone should have a little magic in their lives"


Thank You Dr. Seuss

Third Month 2, 2012
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! 

This post is dedicated to fans of Dr. Seuss old and new. I read this article and wanted to note two facts that brought a smile to my face.

Fact 4  The first recorded instance of the word “nerd” is in Seuss’ 1950 book, If I Ran the Zoo.
I am a nerd and I happen to like the word... Thank you Dr. Seuss

Fact 6  Dr. Seuss practiced what he preached: his first book, And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by 27 different publishers before it finally got picked up. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” Seuss once wrote. Try, try, try again, he did.

Thank You, Dr. Seuss!

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter won't mind." Theodore Geisel