School Library Journal The world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens Thu, 02 Jul 2015 10:10:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 In the Recording Studio with Jack Gantos Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:28:59 +0000 The Trouble in Me.]]> gantos2a
Jack Gantos was in New York last week to record the audiobook of his upcoming release, The Trouble in Me (Farrar, Sept. 2015). The “autobiographical novel” features 14-year-old Jack Gantos and is set in Fort Lauderdale, FL. As Gantos explains in the preface, the novel is partly an attempt to figure out how he went from being a kid on the relatively “straight and narrow” path to winding up in jail, as detailed in his bestselling and award-winning memoir, Hole in My Life (Macmillan, 2002). After writing Hole, the author began looking back over his early life choices, searching for a moment that revealed “some character flaw” or “small weakness” that might account for his later career as a teen drug smuggler.

In The Trouble in Me, readers meet Jack’s older neighbor, Gary Pagoda, who has just come back from juvie, where he was sent for car theft. Infatuated by the ever-so-cool Gary, young Jack decides he will do whatever shenanigans it takes to be just like Gary. What follows is a wild, funny, and sometimes cringe-worthy descent into criminal mischief.

The author shared that he loves bringing his own books to life because he knows exactly how all of the characters should sound, but can’t imagine ever doing the same for other authors’ books. “I can’t do the voices,” he says, explaining that his western Pennsylvania accent is so strong that it’s instantly recognizable anywhere he goes in the world. He credits his teaching experience with helping him succeed as a narrator, since he’s accustomed to—and enjoys—people listening to him talk. His teaching experience is also informing his current work in progress: a how-to-write guide for kids that will have video and audio components and will be available in spring 2017.

]]> 0
Lee & Low Wins INDIEFAB Award; “Selma for Students” | News Bites Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:00:37 +0000 Honors, Prizes


Jason Low, publisher of Lee & Low Books.

Lee & Low Books was named the INDIEFAB Publisher of the Year by Foreward magazine, recognizing the minority-owned company’s commitment to diverse voices in children’s literature. Lee & Low has been known for its rich, multicultural titles for decades. “For more than 20 years, Jason Low and his talented team have continued an honorable mission of increasing the number of diverse books available for children,” said Foreword Reviews Publisher Victoria Sutherland at the June 26 announcement during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in San Francisco. “They are being honored by Foreword for more than books, however. We admire their leadership role in the indie publishing community.” Jason Low, publisher, said he was “completely surprised and flattered with the news. This honor inspires us to bring more equity to publishing.”

The National Book Foundation awarded its $10,000 Innovations in Reading Prize to Reach Incorporated. A Washington, DC–based nonprofit, Reach Incorporated hires struggling teen readers as reading tutors for elementary school students—these younger readers achieve 1.5 grade levels of growth per year of program participation. The Foundation also named four Honorable Mentions, each also striving to support reading in communities that need it most. Created in 2007, the Innovations in Reading Prize has supported a diverse range of individuals and organizations working locally, nationally, and internationally to create and sustain a lifelong love of reading. Read the full press release to learn more about the award and finalists.

The Youth Services Section of the New York Library Association announced Vivian Vande Velde as the winner of the 2015 Empire State Award for Excellence in Literature for Young People. Ms. Vande Velde will be honored at a luncheon on Friday, October 23, 2015 during the Association’s annual conference in Lake Placid, NY. First awarded in 1990, the Empire State Award is given to an author and/or illustrator currently residing in New York State to honor a significant body of work in the field of literature for young people. Visit the NYLA website for more information.

Anupama Vaid, CEO of ParentSquare, was one of 12 recipients of the 2015 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards. The awards were created by the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation and are designed to recognize the contributions of women entrepreneurs supporting the Santa Barbara County economy, as well as support the future economic growth through recognition and education of student entrepreneurs. Vaid won in the science and technology category. To view the full list of winners, please visit the foundation’s website. To learn more about ParentSquare and Anupama Vaid, click here.

ABC-CLIO Solutions received two Best Educational Software (BESSIE) Awards from the ComputED Gazette for its world history and world geography databases for high school students. World History: The Modern Era was recognized as the best “Social Studies Website,” and World Geography was recognized as the best “World Geography Website” for the 21st century. This is the fifth consecutive year at least one of the Solutions’ databases has received a BESSIE Award. To learn more about ABC-CLIO Solutions and to view the full list of winners, click here.


In collaboration with Smashwords, the Los Gatos (CA) High School published A Cup of Poetea, an anthology of original poetry written and designed by six LGHS freshmen honors English classes. Proceeds from sales of the ebook will help to finance expenses for the Class of 2018, such as junior and senior prom and future class reunions. The ebook is currently available for purchase on iTunes, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

LAUNCHES, Upgrades, and Partnerships

Simon & Schuster has announced that children’s book editor Caitlyn Dlouhy will launch an eponymous imprint, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. The newly formed imprint will reside within the larger Atheneum Books for Young Readers and will publish roughly 20 titles a year beginning in Spring 2016, with projects ranging from picture books to young adult works. Click here to view the full press release.

In celebration of the home entertainment debut of director Ava DuVernay’s Academy Award–winning film epic Selma and as part of the “Selma For Students” initiative, Paramount Home Media Distribution announced that every high school in the United States, both public and private, will receive a copy of the DVD free of charge. In addition, teachers can receive free companion study guides. Selma won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for “Glory” by Common & John Legend. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. Learn more about the initiative here.

LightSail announced advances in its personalized learning technology, including numerous motivation and reward features to incentivize students. In addition, LightSail has added new scaffolds for below-benchmark readers, as well as personalized word walls to support each student’s vocabulary acquisition and an in-text chat option for reading groups, allowing students to have social media–style dialogues directly in texts. Visit the website for an overview of LightSail’s new features.

More Bites

The Follett Corporation announced that its board of directors appointed Ray A. Griffith as the Company’s president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. He succeeds Mary Lee Schneider, who retired from Follett as president, chief executive officer, and director. Mr. Griffith, 61, has served as a member of Follett’s board of directors since February 2013. As president and CEO, he will continue to serve on the board. Click here for the full article.

]]> 0
“Paper Towns” and Other Epic Road Trip Titles in YA Lit Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:25:59 +0000 Paper Towns, check out the following selections, all of which feature summertime journeys and epic odysseys.]]> papertowns-tie-inThe buzz is building for Paper Towns (PG-13), the latest John Green book-to-big-screen production, which pulls into theaters on July 24. Based on the 2008 novel (Dutton), the film stars Nat Wolff, who also had a role in the last year’s runaway hit, The Fault in Our Stars. The carefully planned life of high school senior Quentin Jacobsen is upended when Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne), the beautiful and free-spirited girl next door with whom he has been infatuated for years, enlists him as partner in crime for a crazy, caper-filled night. When Margo goes missing the next morning, leaving behind a series of cryptic clues, it’s up to Quentin and his equally straitlaced friends to pile into the Jacobsen minivan and go in hot pursuit, embarking on an eventful and unforgettable road trip. Filmgoers and Green fans will want to ride along for Quentin’s adventures, so make sure to have plenty of copies of Paper Towns on hand, including the recently issued media tie-in edition (Penguin, 2015), which features an eye-catching movie poster cover.

There and back again

Wanderlust, personal quests, the unknown, escape from the confines of day-to-day life, or just a reckless sense of “Why not?”—there are plenty of reasons for road-tripping. Perfect summertime reads, these YA novels depict journeys that resonate with humor, adventure, romance, friendship, self-discovery, burgeoning independence, and the challenges and rewards of finding one’s way back home.

Friends and freeways

porcupine of truth_When his mother forces him to leave New York City to spend the summer with his dying father, an alcoholic whom he hasn’t seen in 14 years, 17-year-old loner Carson Smith feels displaced, to say the least. On his first day in Billings, MT, he meets Aisha Stinson, a smart and gorgeous African American girl who has been homeless since coming out as a lesbian to her father. Though romance is disappointingly out of the question, Carson finds himself inextricably drawn to Aisha, who appreciates his wisecracking quips, shares his penchant for questioning everything, and “gets” him in a way that no one ever has before. He invites her to stay with his family, and while cleaning up the basement, the teens discover evidence that Carson’s grandfather, whose long-ago disappearance ushered in three generations of woe, just might be traceable. The two set out on a road trip that takes them all the way to San Francisco, where they finally find the truth behind long-held Smith family secrets. Along the way, they also wrestle with questions about relationships, religion and faith, and finding a place to fit in. Starring a cast of delightfully diverse, distinctive, and often damaged characters, Bill Konigsberg’s The Porcupine of Truth (Scholastic, 2015; Gr 9 Up) is witty, poignant, and profound.

100 sidewaysTeens with a taste for the offbeat and irreverent will enjoy traveling 100 Sideways Miles (S. & S., 2014; Gr 9 Up) with Finn Easton. This singular 17-year-old suffers from epileptic seizures (the result of a freak accident in which a dead horse fell from a truck killing his mother when Finn was a child), measures time in terms of distance traveled (by the Earth in orbit—approximately 20 miles per second), and wonders if he’s a real boy or a fictional character created by his father (the author of a best-selling and controversial sci-fi novel featuring a protagonist who shares a striking resemblance to Finn along with his name). Luckily, his best friend, the attractive, tobacco-chewing, teacher-torturing Cade Hernandez, is around to keep Finn’s feet firmly grounded in their small town in California. Then Finn meets Julia Bishop, falls for her head over heels, and must say goodbye when she moves back to Chicago. Devastated, he leaves on a planned road trip with Cade to visit a college in Oklahoma, but unexpected events along the way inspire Finn to take his fate into his own hands and begin to chart his own course. Andrew Smith displays a knack for introducing ideas, manipulating and reshaping them like Play-Doh, and ultimately forming them into earth-shattering truths. The protagonist’s intelligent and thoughtful first-person narration is fresh, funny, and mesmerizing.

kissing in america_Much to the consternation of her feminist mom, 16-year-old Eva is obsessed with romance novels (she’s read 118 to date) and maintains a steadfast belief “in great love” (despite the never-been-kissed reality of life at her “nerd-heavy” Bronx, NY, school). Then, seemingly miraculously, the handsome boy she’s been crushing on for forever finally notices her. They share a passion for literature, as well as the emotional fallout from the loss of a family member (Eva’s father was killed in a plane crash two years earlier, and Will’s brother died as a baby). Just as things are heating up, Will is forced to move to his father’s home in Los Angeles. Determined to go cross-country and get her man, Eva convinces her brilliant best friend Annie Kimm to enter the two of them in a teen academic game show that films in L.A. and then talks her overprotective but emotionally distant mother into allowing them to travel there by bus. Their on-the-road adventures are many and varied, and while the romance doesn’t pan out exactly as desired, Eva’s experiences deepen her relationship with Annie, shed insight on her mother’s behavior, help her move beyond her father’s loss, and open her heart to a future filled with many different kinds of love. Embellished throughout with affecting quotes from poets, Margo Rabb’s Kissing in America (HarperCollins, 2015; Gr 9 Up) soars with wit, intelligence, and heart-lifting hope.

Family travels and travails

drive me crazyLana’s Grandpa Howe and Cassie’s Grandma Tess have just gotten married, and the newlyweds invite the two middle schoolers along on their eight-day honeymoon, tooling through the California countryside. Sincere and somewhat geeky Lana is genuinely excited about the trip and looks forward to forging a lifelong friendship with her new cousin. The more sophisticated Cassie, however, would prefer to remain home and solidify her social standing with the uber-popular Kendra. Though there are fun moments (flirting poolside with boys or crashing a rooftop wedding), both girls also wrestle with issues they keep carefully hidden away—Lana worries about her mother’s worsening health and Cassie obsesses over a rift with her former best friend. As the miles roll away, tensions in the backseat build, misunderstandings abound, and conflicts erupt. However, as each girl gradually learns to face her own problems and confide her fears and concerns in the other, a true bond is forged. Told from alternating viewpoints, Terra Elan McVoy’s Drive Me Crazy (HarperCollins, 2015; Gr 6-8) provides an enjoyable mélange of high-spirited antics, heartfelt issues, and ever-changing locales.

SISTERSIn her engaging graphic novel memoir, Raina Telgemeier re-creates the ups and downs of a classic family car trip as well as the wonders and woes of being Sisters (Scholastic, 2014; Gr 4 Up). In this follow-up to Smile (2010), 14-year-old Raina, younger sister Amara, little brother Will, and their mother pile into their aged baby-blue van for the drive from California to Colorado for a family reunion. Well-placed flashbacks provide the skinny on the intricacies of the sisters’ often-squabbling relationship as well as the story behind why Raina refuses to ride shotgun (it involves a rogue pet snake). The trip is filled with plenty of arguing and snarky attitude, but unexpected occurrences provide impetus for the girls to find common ground and ultimately appreciate the importance of family. Telgemeier’s succinct script and expressively drawn characters convey wide-ranging emotions and provide readers with plenty to chuckle about, relate to, and mull over.

signed sky harperIt’s the summer of 1972, and though Winston (named for the cigarette) hasn’t seen her mother since the aspiring performer fled New Smyrna Beach, FL, for Hollywood 11 years ago, the 15-year-old doesn’t much miss her. She has her brusque but loving grandmother to raise her; income from busing tables at Leon’s Seafood Restaurant, where Nanny works; and her secret dream of training to become a swimmer equal to her idol, Mark Spitz. Everything is hunky-dory until they receive a desperate-sounding letter Signed, Skye Harper (S & S, 2014; Gr 8 Up), Momma’s self-chosen stage name, asking, “Come git me,/Please.” In the blink of an eye, Nanny turns up with an RV “borrowed” from Leon, loads up the family (including dog Thelma and rooster Denny), and sets off to Las Vegas to retrieve her daughter. The trip gets even more interesting when they discover a stowaway hidden in the camper. Not only is the sweet-talking, guitar-strumming, genuinely endearing Steve the son of Leon, but he also happens to be the boy of Winston’s dreams. As their destination grows closer, Winston wonders if she will be able to open her heart to her absentee mother and share Nanny, who has suddenly turned from tough-as-nails to vulnerable. Narrated in rapid-fire yet lyrical chapters, Carol Lynch Williams’s novel features unforgettable characters, a strong sense of time and place, and powerful insights about what it means to be a family.

White knuckles on the wheel

there will be liesShelby Jane Cooper, 17, counts down eight days’ worth of events culminating with the incident that will “erase [her] from the world.” There Will Be Lies (Bloomsbury, 2015; Gr 9 Up) is a novel of taut suspense, twist-turning action, and stunning surprises. The narrator’s closely regimented life with her overprotective mother in Scottsdale, AZ, is shattered when the teen is hit by a car. The injuries aren’t life-threatening, but Mom suddenly transforms into a different person, hustling a hobbling Shelby from hospital to a rented car and setting off on an out-of-the-blue outing to the Grand Canyon. As they travel through the magnificent southwestern landscape, the trip begins to feel more on-the-run than meandering fun, and Shelby is faced with the startling truth that everything about her life just might be a lie. Meanwhile, a mysterious and magnetic boy (or is he a coyote, as in the Coyote of Navajo legend?) keeps turning up and leading her to a place called the Dreaming, where she is no longer deaf, interacts with talking animals, and discovers that she is fated to save this world—and her own—from destruction. Events on both fronts unfold with a page-turning pace, providing parallels and incongruities, colliding and coalescing in unexpected ways, and offering Shelby the opportunity to become captain of her own odyssey. Nick Lake’s spectacularly written journey of self-discovery will keep teens riveted and thinking about the story long after the book is closed.

devil you knowPart intoxicating romance and part psychological thriller, Trish Doller’s The Devil You Know (Bloomsbury, 2015; Gr 10 Up) is compulsively readable. It’s been all work and no play for Arcadia since her mother’s death, and the 18-year-old, tired of looking after her father and little brother, feels dead-ended in her small Florida town. On her way to a campfire party at a local park, she sees a handsome stranger and impulsively invites him along. Soon Matt is kissing Cadie’s friend Lindsey, but that’s okay, since Cadie later meets Matt’s cousin Noah, to whom she is head-spinningly attracted, despite indicators of his troubled past. The girls agree to accompany the boys on the next leg of their road trip, and though Lindsey later backs out with a quick text message, Cadie is still onboard. However, the fun- and passion-filled romp that she hoped for gradually turns into a deadly nightmare, and Cadie soon realizes that it will take all of her smarts and courage to get out alive. Tension and terror slowly build, along with the sizzling sexual—and soulful—connection between Cadie and Noah, making her actions believable if not wise. This fast-paced cautionary tale is scintillating and satisfying.

Lost…and found

LetsGetLostLeila, 17, traveling from Louisiana to Alaska to see the Northern Lights, meets four teens along the way and deeply impacts each of their lives. Hudson, a small-town mechanic with medical school aspirations, fixes her car, falls in love with her, and finds himself rethinking his dreams. Hitchhiker Bree, on the run from a family calamity, accepts a ride from Leila, drags her into several ill-thought-out (and illegal) escapades, and finally realizes it’s time to return to the sister she left behind. Elliot, staggering drunk after a bad night at prom, is practically run over by the protagonist, who then helps him win the girl he loves with a series of over-the-top eighties-movie-inspired antics. Sonia, still reeling from the untimely death of the love of her life, enlists the teen’s aid in returning a pair of missing wedding rings, and ultimately discovers that it’s okay to embrace a new romance. Told from each character’s viewpoint in multi-chapter sections, the story comes full circle to Leila, who reveals the tragic motivation for her journey and maps out a plan to find her own way home. Humorous, poignant, and wise, Adi Alsaid’s Let’s Get Lost (Harlequin, 2014; Gr 8 Up) is a soul-nourishing spree through the country and the ways of the heart.

Publication Information

ALSAID, Adi. Let’s Get Lost. Harlequin Teen. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211241; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780373211494; ebook $4.99. ISBN 9781460326718.

DROLLER, Trish. The Devil You Know. Bloomsbury. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619634169; ebook $12.99. ISBN 9781619634176.

GREEN, John. Paper Towns. media tie-in ed. Penguin. 2015. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780147517654.

KONIGSBERG, Bill. The Porcupine of Truth. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545648936; ebook $17.99. ISBN 9780545648943.

LAKE, Nick. There Will Be Lies. Bloomsbury. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619634404; ebook $12.99. ISBN 9781619634411.

MCCVOY, Terra Elan. Drive Me Crazy. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062322432; ebook $9.99. ISBN 9780062322456.

RABB, Margo. Kissing in America. HarperCollins. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062322371; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9780062322395.

SMITH, Andrew. 100 Sideways Miles. S. & S. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442444959; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4497-3; pap. $11.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4496-6 (Sept. 2015).

TELGEMEIER, Raina. Sisters. illus. by author. Scholastic. 2015. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780545540605.

WILLIAMS, Carol Lynch. Signed, Skye Harper. S & S/Paula Wiseman Bks. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481400329; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781481400336; ebook $8.99. ISBN 9781481400343.

]]> 0
Perfect Partners: Libraries and the Nationwide Pre–K Movement Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:34:17 +0000 1507-EarlyLearning-Header

Illustration by Nancy Carpenter

Last fall, the Queens Library in New York City became what is thought to be the first library in the country to open a pre–K class, in its Woodhaven branch. Teachers Andrea Clemente and Lisa Bohme meet with their students in a spacious room on the ground floor and are taking full advantage of the library’s resources. The children’s librarian visits the students frequently, playing his guitar and teaching them how to use iPads. The students have also had visits from subject-area experts, such as the science exhibit supervisor for the library system. Of course, they also have access to books, lots of books.

“On a weekly basis we take the children to the library so they can pick a book to take home for the weekend,” Clemente says. “They look forward to this activity every week.”

“It’s been, overall, a tremendous success,” says Joanne King, Queens Library’s director of communications. When registration opened for the program, 71 applications were submitted for 18 spaces.

The Queens program is a bold example of how libraries are showing leadership in the national movement to bolster early learning. As studies increasingly show that early learning supports later student achievement, financial investment on the national, state, and local level has increased. Libraries are showing that they can be ideal partners in this effort.

Funding on the rise

Enrollment and funding levels for state-funded pre–K programs across the country are now beginning to recover from the recession, according to the latest State Preschool Yearbook published annually by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. During the 2013–14 school year, state funding for pre–K increased by $116 million and enrollment in public pre–K classrooms increased by more than 8,500 four-year-olds—more than making up for funding cuts that led to the loss of 4,000 slots for children in the 2012–13 school year.

President Barack Obama has proposed a federal Preschool for All plan, which would allocate additional dollars to states in order to serve more children from moderate-income families. While some states have universal pre–K programs with no income cap for families, such as Georgia, New York, Oklahoma, and Florida, most states currently target their pre–K programs to children in low-income families. Eighteen states have also received either development or expansion grants from the U.S. Department of Education to improve their early-childhood education systems and serve more children.

The NIEER yearbook focuses mostly on state activity and doesn’t provide information on local efforts to expand access, as in New York City. But increasing spending—combined with the addition of new partners, such as libraries—could mean that states and localities are able to meet the demand for programs sooner than if they were searching for classroom space only in schools.


A pre–K classroom at the Woodhaven branch of the
Queens Library in New York City.

Preparations in Queens

The Queens program is part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to serve more than 73,000 four-year-olds in universal pre–K. The fact that schools have limited space for additional classrooms is not standing in the way. To meet the goal, the city is bringing pre–K to non-traditional spaces, with public libraries taking a role.

Queens Library’s Ravenswood branch, already a family literacy center, has also been approved for two classrooms. But King says capital improvements are needed at the site in order for the building to meet the strict licensing standards required for most early-childhood programs. At Woodhaven, that included adding small toilets to accommodate the children. The city departments of education, buildings, and health and mental hygiene all had to sign off on the facility before students could attend.

“We really had to work hand in hand with these three huge bureaucratic departments,” says Nick Buron, Queens Library vice president for public library services. “We didn’t just want to have a program. We wanted to have a great program.”

The New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the New York City Department of Design and Construction co-sponsored an event last year—called a charrette—in which representatives from city agencies, nonprofit organizations, and library systems brainstormed how to meet the design challenges faced by turning spaces traditionally used by adults into preschool classrooms. Other sites being recruited include homeless shelters, public housing buildings, and yeshivas, which have been given a set of guidelines for how to deliver full-day pre–K without violating strict religious beliefs and practices.

States have long used a mix of community-based providers, Head Start programs, and public schools to house pre–K classrooms. Inviting community-based providers to compete for pre–K funding not only provides additional classroom space, but is also seen as a strategy for improving the quality of those programs through additional training and resources. Those sites are also more likely to provide “wrap-around” care for the hours that the pre–K class is not in session—a support that many working parents need.

150701_EL-PQ1The power of literacy

Bringing libraries into that mix provides the early childhood field with a partner that is focused on literacy at a time when educators and policymakers are increasingly recognizing the importance of early language development.

“All learning is really dependent on reading,” says Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA)’s Washington, DC, office. “We’ve got to raise a nation of readers who read for pleasure.”

Susan B. Neuman, an education professor at New York University and an expert on early literacy, has observed how young children “effortlessly” interact with books in the library. They “read a few minutes—pretend read, that is—then go back to their play, then back again to books. It’s a delightful dance to see how young children integrate activities in their world.”

The Woodhaven pre–K class is also an example of how libraries are adapting to meet the needs of their communities, Sheketoff says. In some areas, libraries have hired job coaches to work with small business entrepreneurs; in others, nurses are on staff to assist people with finding healthcare services. “If you have a community that has a great need for a quality preschool, there is no better place than a library,” she says.

Buron adds that he sees the pre–K class as a sign that the mission of libraries is evolving from strictly providing informal education to delivering more formal education programming. The Queens system also created the position of an early-learning coordinator to oversee all services related to children from birth to age five, providing further evidence of the library’s shifting role. And it created an Early Learning Network to bring together a variety of government and nonprofit partners across the city working on early learning issues.

While literally housing pre–K programs might be a new role for public libraries, systems across the country have increasingly become involved in efforts to improve children’s school readiness “as the science developed and as people learned more about what children need,” Sheketoff says. Those efforts are shifting away from traditional storytimes and more in the direction of family-oriented gatherings focused around books, according to Neuman and Donna Celano of La Salle University in Philadelphia.

“The result is that libraries are now often livelier, noisier places, featuring play zones and interactive stations designed to encourage parents to engage with their young children,” Celano and Neuman wrote in the April issue of Kappan. “Children’s areas in libraries are filled with activities, toys, and games as well as books.”

Celano and Neuman are conducting a national evaluation of Every Child Ready to Read, the ALA initiative focusing on the simple practices parents and caregivers can follow to develop early reading skills—read, talk, sing, write and play. When librarians model these practices with children and offer bilingual workshops for parents, or training sessions for providers, on continuing the experiences at home, the initiative effectively reaches high-need families and immigrant parents who might “not prioritize school readiness,” they write.


Children at a childcare center that has partnered with
the Multnomah County (OR) Library.

Ready for Kindergarten

The Multnomah (OR) County Library (MCL) is an active partner in promoting early literacy and working with school districts in the county. The system has a similar effort called Every Child a Reader, which emphasizes the same message to parents, but also involves delivering books to child-care centers and family child-care homes in the county. Librarians hold early literacy workshops for preschool teachers and send literacy specialists into centers to create environments that can boost students’ readiness for school.

“We’ve always been an educational partner to the schools,” says Renea Arnold, who coordinates early childhood services for MCL. She says housing pre–K classes in libraries “opens up a lot of opportunities,” such as intergenerational programs with seniors in the community and other family-oriented gatherings.

The Multnomah system has also been involved in Early Kindergarten Transition, a three-week summer program, which began in Portland Public Schools and is hosted by 32 schools across the county. The program targets children who have not had a preschool experience, such as those on Head Start waiting lists.

In addition to holding story sessions during the three weeks, the librarians who visit the schools get a chance to interact with the children’s parents, increasing the chances that the parents will visit their local library branch.

At such a session in the Parkrose School District last summer, Midland branch librarian Barbara Head told parents not to worry about reading books word for word to their children—it was just as important to have conversations and ask young children questions about the stories. “Give them some time to think,” she said.

STEM—in English and Spanish

Libraries are also becoming providers of STEM-focused experiences for adults and children, through science exhibitions and out-of-school programs such as maker spaces and robotics workshops. These services are considered critical in supporting children’s learning and attracting them to STEM-related careers.

While these library programs are often provided on a drop-in, come-and-go basis, a summer program at the New Brunswick (NJ) Free Public Library is taking another step toward a more structured format. Math and Science Story Time (MASST) uses stories, songs, and activities to engage preschoolers and their parents in math and science concepts drawn from the New Jersey Department of Education Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards.

Developed by Alissa Lange, an assistant research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, the program runs for eight weeks and features themes, such as “Do You Know How Plants Grow?” and “Are You Taller Than a Tiger?” Lange considered offering free books to families who attended at least four sessions as an incentive. But then she decided to give them a book to take home after each session that was related to the topic, and complemented the handout given to parents with ideas for at-home activities.

150701_EL-PQ2r“We wanted to capitalize on this opportunity to get more high-quality, age-appropriate, bilingual or Spanish-language STEM-themed books into the home—especially books on topics that the children were already excited about,” Lange says. “It was the most well-attended program at the children’s library, apart from their annual summer reading kickoff event, and the only Spanish-language program available.” Lange is now working on linking MASST to local preschool classrooms—almost as an extension of the curriculum—since preschool teachers bring their classes into the library once a week anyway during the spring.

As libraries in New York City look for a more prominent place in efforts to prepare young children for school, ALA last fall called for changes in federal education policy that would allow more library systems to take similar steps. Sheketoff sent a letter to the Department of Education asking that libraries become eligible to participate in the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program focusing on improving early learning outcomes.

“Our public library system stands ready to help improve early childhood education across the country,” she wrote, “but we can only do so if policies are crafted in a way that allows for better collaboration, coordination, and real partnerships between libraries and the various federal early learning programs, including SIG grants.”

In February, the department responded that local education agencies can partner with “external providers” to implement an early learning model. Sheketoff is also encouraged by the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ ConnectED Library Challenge, the effort announced by President Obama to see that every young child is signed up for a library card when they enter school as well as improve Internet access at schools and libraries nationally. This creates a greater opportunity, she says, for public and school librarians to work together to create a seamless learning experience for students.

Back at Queens Library’s Woodhaven branch, Clemente says she and Bohme have had to adjust to not having other teachers down the hall to gather ideas for their classroom. But they are combining their “individual experience to create a fun and interesting environment,” she says. The spacious room they occupy allows for a lot of physical activity, and the doors open to a small outdoor area.

While parents in Queens are pleased with this early-learning option—judging by the demand for slots—King has a few words of advice for other libraries wanting to host these programs.

“Do some consensus building in the neighborhood,” she advises. Getting the Woodhaven branch ready for pre–K last fall required a space long used by adults to be relocated to another part of the building. Since there wasn’t a lot of discussion about the change up front, some of those adults, and staff, were slightly disgruntled by the change. Buron says he wants patrons to see that Woodhaven and future branches holding pre–K classes are adding and expanding services, not swapping one for another.

It’s a winning situation for everyone, he says, adding that the pre–K parents often arrive every day with other children in tow. “When you provide universal pre–K, you’re really able to help the whole family,” he says. “These are our customers as well.”

With the Queens Library showing how a partnership between the library and a growing pre–K system can work, it’s likely that other communities will implement similar models in the future. Not only can libraries help meet the demand for space, but, as Neuman says, opening pre–K classes in libraries “would send an important message about the power of literacy and books to promote learning.”

Jacobson-Linda_Contrib_WebLinda Jacobson is a California-based education writer.

]]> 0
Resources from Mobile MegaShare | ISTE 2015 Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:42:35 +0000 The free exchange of resources and tips was fast and furious at the Mobile MegaShare, an ISTE 2015 preconference, held June 27 in Philadelphia. Organized by the ISTE Mobile Learning Network (MLN), the forum featured 17 stations dedicated to learning around mobile devices, with topics ranging from robotics to flipped classrooms. The rotation format allowed educator attendees to spend 45 minutes at each of four different stations. Here are some of takeaways:

Innovative Classrooms, Collaborative & Mobile w MakerEd and STEM

Led by Susan Wells (@wellssusan), educator and founder of Camptechterra, packed many resources into her presentation. Here are a few:

  • From top: Google Cardboard (photo by Othree), Cubetto, Osmo

    From top: Google Cardboard (photo by Othree),
    Cubetto, Osmo

    Google Cardboard is an inexpensive means to 3-D viewing. There are free apps available or, better yet, educators may use their own videos. Just think about the possibilities for virtual field trips for your students. A great way to reuse discarded cell phones.

  • Cubetto allows children to learn basic programming logic through a tactile programming interface. Kids write real programs for Cubetto, a small robot, using colorful blocks, providing a magical experience that hides all electronics inside a wooden board.
  • Kano Computer Kit Priced at about $150, this is a computer that students may build themselves and then use. What a great first step to understanding the world of computing.
  • Leap Motion allows the user to interact with a computer with the wave of the hand or lift of a finger. Using the Leap Motion controller makes the space between you and computer 3-dimensional and interactive!
  • Osmo (SLJ’s review) is a gaming accessory for iPads that incorporates real world objects into digital play by attaching a reflector and stand. Osmo comes with games, including Tangrams, Newton, Words and Masterpiece.
  • Daqri is a website for augmented reality, and one of the best things about it—it’s free.


Re-Designing Learning Spaces with Sally Lindgren and Laura Wood-Fernandez

The Great Prairie Area Education Agency in southeast Iowa has been studying how to redesign the K–12 classroom into a 21st century learning space. They believe that there are three tenets of classroom design:

  • The classroom furniture must be mobile and flexible.
  • Each collaborative area must have access to a digital display.
  • Each collaborative area must have a writeable surface.

This means that there is no teacher desk, no rows of student desks, and no “front of the room.” Classroom tables are designed to look like a jigsaw puzzle so they may be moved and rearranged, as needed.

ISTE_Laura_MtPleasantScience teacher Laura Wood-Fernandez shared how she uses a tablet to control all the digital displays in her classroom at Mount Pleasant Middle School. Her classroom was one of two that were funded through a $50,000 cost-matched STEM Council grant. A video provides more information.


Robots, Coding and Creativity with Laura Briggs and Teresa Grzec

Laura Briggs is teaching kindergarten next year, but calling it “technogarten” instead. Her co-presenter Teresa Grzec is a second grade teacher. Here some of the tools they recommended:

Bee-Bots offers a fun way to introduce coding to the very young. Using directional commands on the robot, students may program it to move over a plastic mat. Laura and Teresa shared how they use Bee-Bots for math and language arts. Educators may create their own poster-sized activity mats for creative thinking and problem solving.



Cubelets are a robots construction system that provides students an opportunity to create simple mobile and reactive Cubelet block robots. A brick adapter is available to combine Cubelets into LEGO creations.

LEGO WeDo and LEGO StoryStarter

The educators shared how LEGO tools have helped to increase their students’ interest in writing. A couple of their suggestion for managing LEGOS included:

  • Keep LEGO StoryStarter (SLJ’s review) sets in a cardboard lid for easy management of the sets.
  • Copy the list of pieces so students take over inventory control by checking the list when they complete a project.

A complete listing of all of the session choices, as well as a resource list, is available.

Donna Macdonald is the teacher librarian and technology integrationist at Orchard School in South Burlington, Vermont. Donna is also the president of ISTE’s Librarians Network.You may follow Donna on Twitter at @dsmacdonald or Orchard School at @OrchardVT.





]]> 0
Teaching With the #CharlestonSyllabus Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:04:59 +0000 EH_150630_CharlestonTweetThe day after the shootings in Charleston, SC, where a gunman opened fire in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and killed nine people during a Bible study, Keisha Blain found herself online looking for answers. Scrolling through Twitter, she came across a tweet posted by Chad Williams, chair of the African and Afro-American Studies Department at Brandeis University.

“You know what,” he wrote, “I just really need some of my white friends and colleagues to read some history books. That is all. #CharlestonSyllabus.”

At first Williams meant that hashtag — #CharlestonSyllabus — as more of a punchline. But it resonated with Blain, an incoming assistant professor at history at the University of Iowa who’d done similar projects for the African American Intellectual History Society. They started emailing, and very quickly an actual #CharlestonSyllabus was born. Suggestions of texts on issues like racial violence and the Confederate flag started pouring in.

“Within an hour, there was a moment when I was trying to copy and paste suggestions and I looked and saw something like 546 tweets,” Blain says. “I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to compile something of this volume.’”

The project continued to grow in popularity, generating some 10,000 tweets in the first day. Blain and Williams got help from a team of librarians from across the country, who helped pore through suggestions, sort them into categories, and tag them in WorldCat, the online resource that lets readers locate a book at their local library. The team worked quickly, knowing people wanting to talk about the roots of a crime like the Charleston shooting could benefit from a collection of primary sources and well-researched texts to inform their conversations.

“We can have a conversation about race—we should have a conversation about race—but we need to have an informed conversation about race,” Blain says.

The syllabus includes books organized on topics including slavery, South Carolina history, and racial violence. It also includes a selection of books for younger readers about topics including reconstruction, rebellion, and reform.

“I think teachers have an obligation to keep an eye on what’s happening out of the classroom because our students live in the world and so do we,” says Ileana Jiménez, an English teacher at New York’s Elisabeth Irwin High School who runs the website Feminist Teacher. She says it’s important to use texts like the ones highlighted in the #CharlestonSyllabus, many of which she uses already, to connect current events with broader topics like institutionalized violence against minority communities and the history of racism in the United States.

Jiménez says she’s using the #CharlestonSyllabus to look at how the materials can fit into her own syllabus and  curriculum for courses she teaches on feminism and American literature. “It has to be a balance between bringing in texts in response to things that are happening but keeping them institutionalized within our curriculum,” she says.

These documents are important because they show a deep desire to not just become informed but to act, Jiménez notes. “When these things trend, it’s because people want to do something,” she says, “and teachers can be at the front lines of that.”

The #CharlestonSyllabus and the #FergusonSyllabus

The #CharlestonSyllabus was informed by a similar document, the #FergusonSyllabus, developed by Georgetown professor Marcia Chatelain. That document became particularly useful within colleges, schools, and libraries, where educators used it to introduce new narratives and perspectives to their students.

“I find it really gratifying that educators are using the #FergusonSyllabus in a number of ways beyond teaching the crisis—it has expanded their own knowledge base, communities are forming book clubs to assist in talking about difficult dialogue, and others are using the syllabus to dig deeper on research topics,” Chatelain says.

Even though the Charleston shootings occurred just as most students across the United States were finishing the school year, Chatelain notes that documents like this can be powerful tools in informing what’s taught in the future. “Summer vacation allows us more time and space to think through a whole host of issues, it’s great to have the documents and the community behind it to consult and educate ourselves,” she says.

Blain has been in touch with educators and librarians across the country about the #CharlestonSyllabus, many of whom say they’re planning to use it in future classes or to inform future purchases of books. Elliot Brandow, a history librarian and bibliographer at Boston College who helped put together the syllabus, has used it to feature books on issues like racial violence more prominently, including in the entrance to the campus’s main library.

“It’s clear that this effort is resonating and serving a real need in a time of such overwhelming anguish,” Brandow says. “I hope that it can be useful at Boston College, especially when the majority of the campus community returns in the fall.”

It’s particularly important for young students to read from a diverse set of texts, Blain says, because what they learn in school will play a major role in how they understand issues surrounding race for the rest of their lives. She’s seen this happen while teaching the history of topics including the Confederate flag.

“I would find the students wouldn’t necessarily know the details—they’d heard the same narrative repeated over and over again,” Blain says. “As a teacher, I would assign readings and I’d say, ‘Let’s talk about this next time after you’ve read the history.’ And students come in thinking about something like the Confederate flag in a different way.”

However, she adds, “It doesn’t mean everyone will agree. People may disagree with what they read, but the whole idea is that they’ve actually read and they have exposure to these rich, complex issues without just talking about something [they don’t know] much about.”

matt collette_SmallMatt Collette is a reporter and radio producer in New York City. He has reported for organizations including NPR, WNYC, and Slate. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_pc.

]]> 0
ALA Addresses its Challenged Book List After Questioning by FiveThirtyEight Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:46:10 +0000 ALAChallengedBooksWheelExactly how many books are challenged—and banned—in schools and libraries across the country every year? We may never know.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) releases its Frequently Challenged Books list annually, identifying the “top ten most frequently challenged books…” on its site.

How that list is determined was the subject of a pointed story on the site FiveThirtyEight. In the June 22 post, journalist David Goldenberg calls out ALA for not disclosing how the challenged books list is tabulated when he asked for its data sources.

“To not release [the data] implies they have an agenda for the books they place on [the list],” says Carolyn Jo Starkey, a school librarian at Shades Valley High School in Irondale, AL, and an ALA member. “I would be interested in seeing where their data is coming from.”

OIF has been compiling information on challenged books since 1990, with statistics on why a book was challenged, who initiated the challenge, and the institution that received the challenge. OIF tabulates this information, which the organization defines as “…documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries,” according to the site. These lists are “not scientifically compiled,” reads the site. “Rather, it is a snapshot of the reports we receive every day.”

Still, this list is largely viewed as the definitive one on challenged books and is used in reporting by the Los Angeles Times, CNN, USA Today and School Library Journal. Schools and public libraries rely on the list as well, “trusting what [ALA] is saying,” according to one children’s librarian in a Wisconsin public library, who asked to go unnamed. And some librarians field questions from patrons who ask “…about a banned book and on occasion asking why it’s part of the collection,” says Scooter Hayes, youth services librarian at New Hanover County Public Library in Wilmington, NC. ALA’s list is clearly the predominant one of its kind, referred to by the library community and the general public. But is it, in fact, definitive as FiveThirtyEight asked in its story?

ALA says, no.

How the Challenged Books List is Determined

Kristin Pekoll, assistant director of OIF, says that the information ALA gathers on challenged books is from media accounts and people reporting challenges to the organization, either by by phone, email and through its website. They know they don’t hear about every challenge, she says, and they don’t believe the list includes every challenge to a book made over the year. Instead, it’s more like a “random sampling,” says Pekoll, adding that the organization has considered changing the way the list is presented, but did not offer details on how they could revamp it.

“We have had so many discussions about that in our office,” she says, about ALA referring to the list definitively as a “top ten.” “But a lot of this is how it’s been done for a long time and the list is branded this way.”

Whether the list derives from actual data or, as Pekoll says, a random sampling of collected information, that information remains useful, says Isaac Gilman, an ALA member and faculty librarian at Pacific University in Hillsborough, OR. It’s all in the way it’s reported—and should be released.

“Other information—like health records or education records—that is not created for the purpose of research (and carries with it an expectation of privacy) is still used for research very fruitfully,” writes Gilman by email. “And if the quality of the information in the database is of concern, then those who choose to conduct research (or report) based on it should be held accountable for the conclusions that they draw based on that data—but that isn’t a reason to withhold the data from them entirely.”

Transparency is expected today by readers and researchers, says Peter Hart, communication director for the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). “We are in an age where you do want to show people your work, and people want to know how you arrive at those numbers,” he says.

A Tool for Raising Awareness

But Pekoll believes people are missing the forest for the trees here. Acknowledging that the list is not definitive, Pekoll says that it’s actually intended to be a tool to raise awareness about censorship. The goal is to make people aware that the freedom to read whatever someone chooses to read is constantly being challenged. The placement of a specific book at the top spot? That’s less important, she says.

“It’s funny because there are people who put so much emphasis on that Number 1 spot to that ranking,” she says. “I just talked to a father today about The Giver (Houghton Mifflin, 1993). Four parents in his son’s class complained and want it taken out of the fifth grade curriculum. I don’t see The Giver in that Top 10. But it’s just as important a book as the Number 1 spot.”

Then why create a Number 1 at all? Or, as some members have asked, why not release the information used to generate the frequently challenged books list? Pekoll says, releasing all of the information puts librarians and others who report the information at risk of potentially losing their jobs—and the organization will not break that confidentiality. Sometimes librarians won’t even give her their name over the phone, she says. Beyond what ALA already releases, additional details could jeopardize its members at if made public, she adds.

“Hypothetically, let’s say that a book has been challenged six times with five reported from the media,” she says. “And someone knows the sixth is actually in Kansas. We don’t want someone deducing which library in Kansas went thorough the challenge or who might have talked to us.”

Protecting Confidentiality

Gilman says he understands that sharing all of ALA’s data on challenges could have a chilling effect on reports to OIF. But, he believes there should be a way to make that information available without making it identifiable. He also adds that as an academic librarian—one who encourages his own community to share research and data so it can be replicated and confirmed by others—it’s disheartening to him that his own group is not being as transparent as well.

“My area of librarianship is focused on open access and open data,” he says. “It’s hard for me to ask others in a professional organization to do something if my own professional organization isn’t doing that.”

Yet Wendy Stephens, ALA member and library media specialist at Cullman (AL) High School, says that challenges can be “such a political hot potato.” She understands why ALA is not making all the information around challenges public, she says. “I know that school librarians are probably less willing to talk with OIF or put themselves in that situation.”

And NCAC’s Hart adds that librarians are often pressured informally —which would not be reported in many cases. Yet those, less-official protests can have an affect. “That’s pressure applied another way,” he says. “And sends a message.”

And that is what OIF wants—to present “…how prevalent challenges are in our country,” rather than “definitive statistics,” says Pekoll. As to drawing back the curtain and revealing their information? That’s just never going to happen, she says. She notes that ALA is not a government or public agency, but a professional organization that has a responsibility to the librarian who may have taken a risk reporting a challenge—and not to those who want to see those details such as FiveThirtyEight.

“And when you have to weigh the transparency against the protection of confidentiality, we value the confidentiality more,” she says. “And we can’t gave both.”

]]> 0
James Patterson and Scholastic Name First Winners of School Library Grants Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:00:14 +0000 Patterson2

Students at P.S. 62, in the Richmond Hill section of Queens, NY, whose library received one of the grants.

James Patterson and the Scholastic Reading Club revealed the names of the first 127 schools to win Pledge to Libraries Grants, announced by the author and the publisher earlier this year. Each school earned between $1,000 and $10,000, totaling $500,000. The author also announced that he will increase his overall pledge to school libraries, from $1.5 million to $1.75 million.

More than 28,000 private and public schools submitted grant applications online. In order to apply, they answered one question: “What would your school library do with $1,000 to $10,000?”

The responses varied, but school representatives often wrote about budgets that could no longer pay for staffed librarians, shelves, books, and other materials.Many also expressed the hope that the continuing needs of students would be met.

“It just so happens that circulation activity at the Brighton (MA) High School (BHS) library is higher than any other Boston public high school,” said Patrick Tutwiler, headmaster of BHS, in a statement. “These funds will indeed enhance and expand the BHS library offerings. We are excited, as our kids deserve nothing less than a top-notch library…. All of the evidence points to the fact that libraries are on life-support. This is so nationwide, and in inner cities particularly.”


The Shades Valley High School in Birmingham, AL, also received a grant. Photo from school librarian Carolyn Jo Starkey

Scholastic Reading Club is matching each grant dollar with Scholastic Bonus Points that teachers can use for classroom materials and books.

At P.S 62, a Title 1 school in the Richmond Hill section of Queens, NY, 86 percent of the students are living in poverty. School librarian and grant recipient Teresa O’Brien-Israel talked about the difficulty her young charges face in getting their hands on books.

“Many of our families do not have the money to purchase books, and our local public library is not in close proximity to our school,” she said in a statement. “Our school library must be our students’ window to the world. Unfortunately, our books have an average copyright date of 2002, and the number of titles in our library is woefully inadequate.”

The winning elementary and high schools span the nation, from Eastside Elementary in Lake City, FL, to Vines High School in Plano, TX, to Loma Vista Middle School in Riverside, CA. The remaining $1.25 million will be awarded in additional stages throughout 2015.

“I’ve now read over a thousand letters from school librarians, teachers, and parents about the lack of resources at our country’s schools,” Patterson said in a statement. “How will children make it to high school without access to books? This is a huge problem—and we have to take action. I hope that education will become a major topic on Capitol Hill and in the upcoming presidential debates.”

Watch a thank-you video from Rhonda Massengale, library media specialist at W. P. Davidson High School in Mobile, AL. 
]]> 1
Scenes from the ALA National Conference | ALA 2015 Mon, 29 Jun 2015 16:00:39 +0000 Snapshots of honored authors, jubilant librarians, the newly engaged, and more from this weekend’s 2015 American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco.


El Deafo Newbery honoree author Cece Bell with El Deafo cake before the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet. Photo by Rocco Staino


2015 Newbery Committee chair Randall Enos with Newbery Medal Winner Kwame Alexander. Photo by Rocco Staino


Miriam Medow, children’s librarian at the Oakland Public Library, directs people to the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet. (Typo has been eliminated from the sign.) Photo by Rocco Staino


Sharon M. Draper, winner of the 2015 Margaret A. Edwards Award. Photo by Rebecca T. Miller


Authors Ashley Bryan, Sharon Draper, and Jason Reynolds at the Newbery-Caldecott-Wllder Banquet. Photo by Rocco Staino





John Steptoe Award winner Jason Reynolds, author of When I Was the Greatest (Atheneum), at the Coretta Scott King Awards breakfast. Photo by Rocco Staino


2015 Caldecott Committee chair Junko Yokota and Caldecott Medal winner Dan Santat. Photo by Rocco Staino


Author Mac Barnett (left) and illustrator Jon Klassen received a Caldecott Honor for Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Candlewick). Photo by Rocco Staino


Lauren Castillo (second from right), who earned a Caldecott Honor for Nana in the City (HMH), with her brother, mother, and father. Photo by Rocco Staino


Mazel tov! Librarians Josh Petrusa of the Irwin Library at Butler University and Suzanne Walker of the Indiana State Library became engaged at the conference. Photo by Rocco Staino


Last Stop on Market Street (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) illustrator Christian Robinson with his nana, who inspired the grandmother character in the book, at Penguin’s “Inside the Studio” event on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Kiera Parrott

SLJ senior reviews editor Shelley Diaz (left) with at the Candlewick party on Friday evening.

SLJ senior reviews editor Shelley Diaz (left) with school librarian and SLJ Battle of the Kids’ Books Battle Commander Roxanne Hsu Feldman at the Chronicle Books party on Friday night. Photo by Rebecca T. Miller

2015 Margaret A Edwards Award recipient Sharon M. Draper (center) with Edwards Committee Chair Sophie Brookover (second from left) and other committee members at the Edwards Award brunch. Photo by Kiera Parrott


Avi with his book Sophia’s War (S. & S.). Photo by Rocco Staino


Papercut art master and author Nikki McClure with one of her works at the Abrams luncheon on Sunday. Photo by Kiera Parrott

ALA.CSK breakfast.dancing

Christian Robinson, Coretta Scott King Illustrator honoree for Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker (Chronicle), dances with Josephine author Patricia Hruby Powell at the Coretta Scott King Awards breakfast. Photo by Rocco Staino

]]> 0
First Class Graduates from Queens Library’s Pre-Kindergarten | Pictures of the Week Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:47:19 +0000 Queens2

Photos courtesy of Queens Library.

Families applauded, took pictures, and cried during the June 25 graduation ceremony for their children who completed Queens Library’s pre-K program at the Woodhaven branch, the first library-run pre-Kindergarten in the nation. New York City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz congratulated the graduates; Rep. Nydia Velasquez sent a representative with Congressional certificates; and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley gave each child a citation from the New York City Council. Queens Library has announced plans to launch a second pre-K at the Ravenswood branch in 2015-16.

Queens_5_Miss Andrea Confers the Degree

A degree is conferred.


Wueens_4_Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (right) speaks at the ceremony.


Queens_American the Beautiful

Waving the flag.

Read the full press release.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Joanne King, 718-990-0704 


Elected Officials Turn Out to Congratulate Them

WOODHAVEN, NY, June 25, 2015—Eighteen school-ready children took the next big step toward academic success as they “graduated” from Queens Library’s Pre-Kindergarten. Queens Library’s pre-K is the first library-run pre-K in the U.S. NY City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and Borough President Melinda Katz were there to congratulate them. Rep. Nydia Velasquez sent a representative with Congressional certificates and Council Member Crowley gave each child a citation from the City Council. Very proud families smiled, applauded, took photos and cried.

Queens Library is the first in the nation to provide formal early childhood education at its libraries, using dedicated, licensed early childhood educators hired by the library for the program. Queens Library received approval from NYC Department of Education last year. It has announced plans to open a second pre-K at Queens Library at Ravenswood in the coming school year, thanks to support from Borough President Katz and the Shoolman Foundation.

“Queens Library’s pre-kindergarten is a natural extension of our mission to provide impactful, lifelong learning resources. We are looking forward to expanding Queens Library’s pre-kindergarten to Ravenswood for the next school year. Education and libraries go together.” Bridget Quinn-Carey, Interim President and CEO, Queens Library.

Queens Library is an independent, not-for-profit corporation and is not affiliated with any other library. Queens Library serves a population of 2.3 million in one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the U.S. and has among the highest circulations of any public library system in the world.

]]> 0
ALA Releases National Policy Agenda for Libraries Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:09:50 +0000 ALA’s Policy Agenda for Libraries was released today as the 2015 ALA Annual Conference gets underway in San Francisco.

The full text document is available here. A four page executive summary is also available.

A foreword to the agenda written by Deborah Jacobs from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was also published.

Policy goals in the following areas are discussed in the report:

  • Education And Learning
  • Employment And Entrepreneurship
  • Health and Wellness
  • Government Information Services
  • Funding
  • Copyright and Licensing
  • Digital Content Systems
  • Broadband Access Adoption And Use
  • Library Related Functions in the Federal Government
  • Information Professionals

From ALA:

The agenda was developed in concert with major library organizations that serve on a Library Advisory Committee for the Policy Revolution! initiative and with input from a public comment period. Funding for this project is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of a three-year grant that also supports efforts to deepen national stakeholder engagement and increase library advocacy capacity.

“Libraries cannot wait to be invited to ‘the table.’ We need proactive, strategic and aligned advocacy to support national policies that advance the public’s interest in the digital age and support libraries as essential community assets,” writes Deborah Jacobs, director of the Global Libraries Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a foreword to the agenda.


”National decision makers often don’t understand the roles or capabilities of modern libraries,” said Alan S. Inouye, director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy and co-principal investigator of the Policy Revolution! initiative. “Thus, an underlying imperative of the agenda is communication about how modern libraries contribute to society. Progress on specific policy goals is significantly impeded if this broader understanding is lacking.”

More on the agenda later after reviewing it.


Executive Summary (4 pages; PDF)

Foreword by Deborah Jacobs from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (1 page; PDF)

Complete Agenda Document (18 pages; PDF)

]]> 0
An Ezra Jack Keats Grant Fosters Architectural Study Among Fourth Graders Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:45:22 +0000 Keats_poster

A poster for the In My Neighborhood project.

What happens when a public library, an elementary school, a university, and an architect collaborate in a mini-grant project? Sparks fly, imaginations soar, creativity blossoms, and the sky’s the limit.

Herrin, IL, where I work as a children’s librarian at the Herrin City Library, is a small, rural town located in the southern tip of the state in the heart of coal country. In the late 1800s, “hardworking Italian immigrants came to work in the coal mines, bringing with them cultural traditions and a rich heritage that continues to influence the city,” as reporter Adam Testa wrote in the Southern Illinoisan newspaper on September 27, 2014. Herrin’s downtown was a busy place with extra wide streets, and a multitude of department stores, banks, and hotels.

Our city has changed; mines have closed and big business is gone, but some of the old buildings with elaborate architectural Italianate elements remain. My application for a Mini Grant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation started with this thought. Why not look at the buildings and elements that make up a community while emulating the perspective of children’s author Ezra Jack Keats? The idea for the In My Neighborhood project was born.

The stories about Peter and his neighborhood friends depicted in Keats’s Apt 3, Louie, Goggles, and Whistle for Willie caught my interest. Keats celebrates the world of children, urbanism, and multiculturalism. In My Dog is Lost, the main character is helped by children from Chinatown, Little Italy, Park Avenue, and Harlem—multicultural neighborhoods. I wanted to explore the concept of neighborhoods, question what is unusual or striking about our community, and take a second look at Herrin’s historical buildings, many named after the people who lived or worked there. Mary’s Restaurant is located in an old Victorian home; the Harrison House is a two-story brick structure with three-foot-thick walls, built in 1868 by the city’s founding father; Thatchcot is an English style cottage that was the home to newspaperman Hal Trovillion; the Art Deco Post Office building, and the many beautiful old Herrin churches are just a few example of the eclectic building styles in our downtown area. I also wanted an opportunity to incorporate literacy and learning into an enjoyable activity.


Fourth-grade art students with their Keats-inspired collages, created after a discussion focusing on local architecture and community.

The city library and the Unit 4 school district frequently collaborate on community projects, so I pitched the idea of an enrichment activity combining art, literature, and creative thinking. Children would participate in a Keats author study, explore the concept of neighborhoods, study architectural styles, and create a collage of Herrin’s neighborhoods. Herrin Elementary School art instructor Brad Moore saw this as an ideal project for his fourth-grade students. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale was our first go-to source for experts and volunteers.


An Ezra Jack Keats author study session.

Educational Outreach Coordinator Beth Spezia, who works for SIUC-WSIL Public Broadcasting Station, introduced us to students from the university’s film school and school of education. Spezia is affiliated with SIU’s college of mass communication. Three student teachers from SIUC hosted presentations to the entire fourth grade in the Herrin Unit 4 school district, focusing on the books, artistic style, and life of Ezra Jack Keats. Jon Davey, professor of architecture, at the SIUC college of applied science and arts, presented an “A to Z” intro to architecture through the ages, pointing out architectural elements in rose windows, Grecian columns, facades, and oddities like “duck buildings.”  Herrin has its very own “duck building”— the Veterans of Foreign Wars facility with a real army helicopter on the roof. Davey ended the lecture by talking about R. Buckminster Fuller, who taught at SIUC in the 1960s. His iconic geodesic dome home still stands in Carbondale, IL. Fourth graders also tried their hands at constructing a miniature geodesic dome— a bucky ball.

Gail White, primary architect of White & Borgognoni  Architects in Carbondale, gave a PowerPoint presentation about historic downtown Herrin, pointing out three-cornered buildings, Italian influences such as red-clay tiled roofs, marble columns, and mosaics and focusing on the artistic marriage of art and functionality of the architecture field, all scaled to a fourth-grade learning level. SIUC cinematography students filmed the entire process (interviewing student teachers, professors, professionals, and children and documenting the resulting art work).

After immersing in ancient and local history, architecture, and the creative output of Fuller and Keats, Herrin’s fourth graders were ready to tackle their own creative projects under Moore’s guidance in the form of colorful collages.

The results were astounding. The students looked very closely at their community and raised questions about restoring historical buildings. The tiny project which began with the Ezra Jack Keats Mini Grant blossomed into an intergenerational community effort that benefited all participants. The children learned about architecture and created their own art to show off their talent. SIUC student teachers had an opportunity to polish their teaching skills with a unique project. SIUC cinematography student Kristopher Lewis filmed, edited, and produced a six-minute film, In My Neighborhood, for WSIU-PBS TV. Finished collages were prominently displayed during the week-long annual Memorial Day festival (Herrin Festa Italiana Art Exhibition). The Robert N Brewer Family Foundation, a local philanthropic organization that provides scholarships to area high school students, and the Herrin City Library also displayed the collages for public viewing.

Watch the video about In My Neighborhood.

Irena Just is children’s librarian at the Herrin City Library in Illinois.


]]> 1
The Epicenter of Geek Culture: Planning a “Con” at the Library Thu, 25 Jun 2015 20:22:28 +0000 Children’s librarian and 2015 Summer Teen speaker Marissa Lieberman shares how she successfully organized East Orange (NJ) Public Library’s first Tosho-con—a conference dedicated to anime and geek culture for tweens, teens, and their families.

East Orange (NJ) Public Library's Tosho-con committee (l. to r.: Nathalia Bermudez, Sabrina Sermons, Marissa Lieberman, Lisa O'Shaughnessy,  and Lina Belkewitch)

East Orange (NJ) Public Library’s Tosho-con committee (l. to r.: Nathalia Bermudez,
Sabrina Sermons, Marissa Lieberman, Lisa O’Shaughnessy, and Lina Belkewitch)

Reviving Tosho-con

People always ask me what the most rewarding aspect of planning a library convention is, and I always respond in the same way: seeing and feeling the energy as your library is transformed into an epicenter of geek culture. On June 20, more than 400 people of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities and a range of ages from across the tri-state area gathered at the East Orange Public Library (EOPL) in New Jersey, united by their love of anime, comics, and science fiction.

I became entranced by the world of anime and manga at the age of 12 and I love being able to share my passion with patrons by organizing events that bring them into the library, promote community, and encourage literacy, while offering a forum for fans. While working in my first library job, I had the opportunity to start a young adult anime club. It was with those amazing teens that I planned my first library anime convention in Nassau County, NY, running strong from 2010–12. Thanks to the support of EOPL’s administration and staff and the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received at the convention’s revival in New Jersey, Tosho-con (the name comes from, toshokan, the Japanese word for library) will continue as an annual event in East Orange.

The teens and tweens who participated in the Cosplay activities.

The teens and tweens who participated in the Cosplay activities.

Niche market

Conventions like San Diego or New York Comic Con are fun, massive events, but not everyone can—or wants to—attend. Both cost and travel to large conventions can be prohibitive for many. With successful library-located alternatives popping up around the country, public libraries have proven to be sustainable and viable environments for conventions. Most importantly, patrons can participate in planning and running the event, and these activities provide unique leadership opportunities for tweens and teens.

Libraries are already tasked with providing resources and services their communities. Graphic novels and manga encourage literacy, and if there is a following for those formats, as evidenced by high circulation and messy stacks, creating an anime and comic convention is just another program that your library can provide.

The North Jersey Anime and Manga Meetup Group (Attack on Titan cosplay). Photo by Holly Siederer

The North Jersey Anime and Manga Meetup Group (Attack on Titan cosplay).
Photo by Holly Siederer


My goal in hosting a convention has always been to create a safe space for fans to gather in an environment that mimics larger gathering with panels, crafts, cosplay contests, screenings, drawing workshops, special guests, and an artist alley.

Tosho-con takes about a year to prepare. At the EOPL, I worked with a committee of enthusiastic staff members spanning multiple departments and job titles, which added new perspectives and helped to get the entire library excited about our event. Members of our tween anime club also assisted in the planning, and they ran their own table at Tosho-con.

Tosho-con had 14 passive and active activities throughout the day, including a “Market Place” where vendors and artists sold artwork and merchandise. Programs including our “Doctor Who meetup,” “Comics 101,” “Tabletop Gaming,” “Paper Cosplay Contest” (think Project Runway), and a cosplay fashion show were planned and run in-house; others, such as our “Diversity in Comics” panel, a special effects make-up demonstration, a samurai sword performance, and an interactive program created by Pokemon voice actress Michele Knotz, were hosted by industry professionals.


From left: Cashae is Tosho-con’s original mascot winner. She is standing next to a giant version of her character, “Maemi Tomoko.”; Luke Hahn, cosplaying as Koenma from the series Yu Yu Hakusho.

As with any large-scale library program, there was a lot of planning. I like to think of that process as having two levels: micro and macro. On the micro level are the individual programs, designing and organizing them. Prep work is also included here. We created registration bags for attendees that included a badge, a raffle ticket, a free comic, and our program booklet. We decorated the library, and spent time wrapping the many raffle prizes. On the macro level, our committee considered how the programs should fit together in a way that made sense for our space. Marketing was also essential. Tosho-con has its own Facebook page, the event was posted to various convention websites, and our flyer was sent to the schools, local comic shops, city departments, and nearby public libraries.

Getting your library on board

cropped_Michele Knotz with E.O tween

A tween with Michele Knotz (Pokemon voice actress).

I have been fortunate to work in libraries where I did not have to convince the administration of the value of library conventions, but I know that many people have to defend the importance of funding one. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Be your own advocate: Staff will not get excited about the event, especially if they are not knowledgeable, unless you lead the way. Provide resources about comic cons, other library cons, anime, and manga and graphic novels, and if necessary, conduct a staff training workshop.  Have an elevator pitch ready and waiting that concisely and enthusiastically explains what it is that you are doing, why it fits within the library’s mission, and why the event should be a necessary part of your library’s programming.
  • Before you approach—research!: Before going to the library’s administration, put together a proposal that not only includes what comics, anime, and manga are, but an outline of how you plan to organize the event. Address what kind of budget will be needed, where the money will come from, where the money will go, and how the program will benefit the community. Make sure the event does not conflict with other events, and have at least some staff already on board with the project.
  • Community involvement: Whether you are applying for grants or trying to stay afloat in a tough economy, community partnership is always a key element for success. Conventions are a good opportunity to reach out to schools, local stores, or city departments. EOPL teamed up with the city’s Arts Council. They inducted our original mascot contest winner as their first teen member and promoted Tosho-con in the arts community. Tosho-con also fell within our city’s vision statement of “urban excellence and [to] become a destination city.”
  • Sponsorship: Look into getting donations for prizes to alleviate costs. Diamond Comic Distributors, Viz Media, and, of course, your local comic shops are all potential sponsors.
  • Size doesn’t matter: Conventions can be modified to fit any budget and any size library. The most successful programs at Tosho-con in New York were organized by teen volunteers. Interactive, fandom-based programs, such as “What Grinds My Gears?” cost no money to run. Working with a small budget in the past and with an unexpectedly sizable one this year, I had to consider the best use of the money after running successful programs for much less.
Jeffrey Osborne, a local artist who sold his art at the show. Photo by Kelly Gordon of Night and Day Anime Studios.

Jeffrey Osborne, a local artist who sold his art at the show.
Photo by Kelly Gordon of Night and Day Anime Studios.

Convention feedback

One of my favorite moments of the convention was when a parent from our community thanked me for planning the event in East Orange. She said she was grateful that we created an accepting environment and had representation from industry professionals who helped model to African American children that they should feel comfortable cosplaying and can be a part of the comic industry.


From left: E.O. tween Toonami cosplay.; Samurai Sword Soul, a samurai sword performance group.

Despite the hard work, library conventions are a rewarding experience, and I hope they continue to grow across the country.

Marissa Lieberman is a children’s librarian at the East Orange Public Library, NJ. She has worked at multiple libraries in the Nassau County, NY library system before relocating to New Jersey. She reviews books for School Library Journal, VOYA, and No Flying, No Tights. She is a contributor at Cosplay, Comics and Geek Culture in Libraries and has presented at New York Comic Con and other professional development events. Marissa will be presenting at SLJ’s 2015 SummerTeen on How to Run a Con at Your Library.

]]> 1
Style and Substance: Cavendish Square Digital | Reference Online Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:16:28 +0000 1506-RefOnline-CavendishSq

Featuring new updates to existing databases and a brand-new addition (It’s My State), Cavendish Square Digital provides useful material in a clean, clear format.

Cavendish Square Digital

Grade level Cavendish Square Digital (CSD) targets a wide range of users, depending on the database.

Cost Each collection is priced individually, with prices ranging from $477 to $1,749 per year. The databases within each collection can be purchased separately for $159 per year.

Overview Malleable, intuitive, and well organized, CSD provides substantive content. Since CSD’s acquisition of Marshall Cavendish in 2013, the old Marshall Cavendish databases have migrated over to the new Cavendish platform. All of the old databases have been updated in the new environment, and many of the old databases have article updates as well.

Content Think of CSD as a treasure chest. In the treasure chest are eight smaller chests called resources: biographies, science (animal and plants), science (general), science (health), social studies (American history), social studies (communities and cultures), social studies (general), and social studies (world history). In each smaller chest, or resource, a shining trove of databases awaits. For instance, the science (health) collection has several databases, including Diseases and Disorders, Family Health, Food and Nutrition, and a health encyclopedia.

All articles are based on the well-reviewed CSD print resources and are written accessibly and authoritatively. Now there are 55-plus databases, featuring content that students can make use of with ease. Teens can email, print, and share articles via dozens of social media platforms. Remote access is available, and there is no limit to the number of patrons who can use CSD at any given time.

An extensive collection of well-curated, beautifully presented photos, charts, diagrams, and time lines enhance the text. Clicking on the “Media Gallery” allows students to view all of the related images at once, minus the text.

“Research Tools,” which includes a bibliography, recommended reading, related websites, and, in some cases, a list of relevant “Places to Go,” is ideal for those looking to pursue a topic further.

Students and teachers will also appreciate that each article is accompanied by full citations in MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style.

Ease of use Students with a variety of learning styles will be able to access CSD effortlessly. On the home page, users begin by choosing between a visual and a list browse. For the visual browse, students select from a variety of images, each representing a different database. Under the list browse, students choose from databases accompanied by images and one-to-two sentence descriptions.

The articles are integrated to allow for searching throughout all of the resources with one search. The Google Translate feature lets students translate text into 80 languages, including Spanish and Russian. In addition, the articles contain a text-to-speech feature, allowing a male or female narrator to read the text aloud as the corresponding words are highlighted automatically. CSD is designed for use with tablets and smartphones.

New Features The full-color images and clean layout make the new interface not only attractive but accessible. It’s My State is a brand-new database, and the following resources were updated within the last year:

• Animal and Plant Anatomy
• Earth & Physical Science
• Life Sciences
• Exploring the Middle Ages
• Exploring American History
• How It Works
• Growing Up with Science
• Explorers and Exploration
• Facts About Drugs
• Renaissance and Reformation
• Ancient and Medieval World
• Exploring Ancient Civilizations
• Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology
• International Wildlife
• Inventors and Inventions

Verdict CSD is the standard by which other encyclopedia-style databases should be judged. CSD has style and substance: Steve Jobs and Tim Gunn would be proud.

Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

]]> 0
The Books of Summer | Listen In | June 2015 Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:26:27 +0000 1506-ListenIn-opener

Summer is the ideal time for audiobooks. With a break from classes, July and August allow time for relaxing when students can plug in their earbuds and choose their own reading. From our personal and professional experience, we recommend audiobooks as a satisfying way to keep everyone entertained on car trips of any length. These 12 titles will be welcomed by kids and teens for their own listening, but parents will love them, too. For more suggestions, try the summer reading lists at Sound Learning or the free downloads from Sync, which match up classic titles with new releases. Queue up a new and exciting audiobook—or a proven classic—and get listening!

Early Elementary

Cleary, Beverly. Ramona the Pest. 2 CDs. 2:35 hrs. Harper Audio. 2010. $14.99. ISBN 9780061774089. digital download.

K-Gr 4 –Universal themes of family, school, and growing up are highlighted here as Ramona Quimby heads off to kindergarten. Unsurprisingly, she has difficulty settling into a classroom routine. Stockard Channing channels Ramona’s energy, humor, and enthusiasm to perfection, and the happy ending will calm the fears of listeners worried about the next school year.

Frozen: The Junior Novelization. 2 CDs. 2:20 hrs. Blackstone. 2014. $24.95. ISBN 9781483019673. 1 MP3-CD, Playawy digital.

K-Gr 4 –Andi Arndt admirably gives voice to this novelization of Disney’s highly popular “Snow Queen” reimagining. With Frozen sing-alongs now a staple of library programming and a sequel to the movie in the works, families will enjoy a new way to continue their relationships with Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and the lovable snowman, Olaf.

Milne, A.A. The Collected Stories of Winnie the Pooh. 4 CDs. 4:20 hrs. Listening Library. 2009. $38. ISBN 9780307706102. digital download.

K-Gr 3 –A superb ensemble cast including Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, and Geoffrey Palmer gives full dramatic treatment to 20 stories from the world of Pooh. Fry captures the essence of the silly old bear, and Palmer is the consummate melancholic Eeyore. A splendid introduction to these classic tales for a new generation.

middle grade

Berry, Julie. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. 8 CDs. 9:24 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $45. ISBN 9780553396027. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –It is scandalous indeed when a band of seven descriptively named Victorian girls (Smooth Kitty, Pocked Louise, Disgraceful Mary Jane, etc.) turn to sleuthing in an attempt to discover the identity of their headmistress’s murderer. Jayne Entwistle’s fully voiced performance highlights the humor and plot twists of this 2015 Odyssey Honor winner.

Cowell, Cressida. How to Train Your Dragon. 4 CDs. 3:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2014. $20. ISBN 9781478954002. digital download.

Gr 3-6 –Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III may be the right leader for a new age, but first he must prove that brains really do trump brawn. David Tennant imbues each character in this wild tale with energy and humor, from the booming members of the Hairy Hooligan Tribe to the ominously cultured tones of a terrifying sea dragon.

Feiffer, Kate. The Problem with the Puddles. 3 CDs. 3:04 hrs. Listening Library. 2009. $25.50. ISBN 9780739381298. digital download.

Gr 3-5 –Clever plot twists abound in this silly story of Mr. and Mrs. Puddle, who can’t agree on anything. Accidentally leaving their dogs behind when returning home from a family vacation leads to hilarious misadventures and a surprise reunion. Halley Feiffer’s spot-on vocalizations fully capture the silliness and sarcasm of the outrageous tale.

Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. 7 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Harper Audio. 2014. $27.99. ISBN 9780062364463.

Gr 5-8 –Derek Jacobi leads an outstanding full cast in this new production of the 2009 Newbery Medal winner. Effective musical transitions build suspense as Bod/Nobody grows up among the benevolent graveyard inhabitants. Superb vocal interpretations of the many protagonists capture the elements of friendship, family, and murder. Gaiman concludes with a description of the story’s origin.

McKinley, Robin. Beauty. 6 CDs. 7 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. $51.75. ISBN 9781470360238. Playaway, digital download.

Gr 5-8 –Charlotte Parry’s nuanced reading of this fairy tale retelling will enchant listeners. From her spirited renditions of wealthy life in the city and her solid characterizations of country characters to a fearful voicing of the Beast, Parry embraces the core of the iconic story.

Mull, Brandon. Wild Born. (Spirit Animals, Bk. 1). 5 CDs. 5:37 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. $20.99. ISBN 9780545600385.

Gr 4-7 –This first title in the popular series features four young people joining forces to fight against the evil threatening Erdas, their world. A coming-of-age ritual bonds Conor, Abeke, Rollan, and Meilin with their spirit animals, creating a formidable group with the addition of a panda, falcon, wolf, and leopard. Each volume in the series is written by a different well-known author, with all audio versions narrated by Nicola Barber, whose expressive interpretations provide a nice cohesiveness.

young adult

MacHale, D.J. SYLO. 9 CDs. 10:40 hrs. Dreamscape. 2013. $59.99. ISBN 9781624068546.

Gr 7 Up –Tucker Pierce loves Pemberwick Island and plans to spend his high school years having fun and lying low. When the island is attacked by unknown forces and the government quarantines residents without warning, Tucker’s life changes forever. Andrew S. Bates employs accurate tone and pacing to create the world of this adventure trilogy opener.

Pratchett, Terry. Dodger. Digital download. 10:30 hrs. Harper Audio. 2012. $18.99. ISBN 9780062201959.

Gr 8 Up –The late master of the beloved Discworld books turns here to 19th-century London. Seventeen-year-old Dodger roams the sewers, scratching out a meager living. Then one night he rescues a young girl from the clutches of murderous ruffians, propelling himself into the midst of Victorian intelligentsia, hobnobbing with “Charlie” Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli. Historical fantasy mixes with Pratchett’s trademark humor for a rich tale that’s impeccably interpreted by Stephen Briggs.

Sharon Grover is Head of Youth Services at the Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, WI. Lizette (Liz) Hannegan was a school librarian and the district library supervisor for the Arlington (VA) Public Schools before her retirement.

]]> 0
MyLibraryNYC Brings Public Library Services to City Schools, 500,000+ Students Wed, 24 Jun 2015 20:05:45 +0000 A New York City school teacher and students, part of the MyLibraryNYC program

A New York City school teacher and students, part of the MyLibraryNYC program

While libraries continue to struggle in many school districts—things are looking up in New York. MyLibraryNYC—a unique partnership between the New York City Department of Education (NYC Public Schools) and the city’s three public library systems—is bringing library services back to school kids in the Big Apple.

“One of the things we really believe in is school libraries,” says Amie Wright, New York Public Library’s (NYPL) program manager of MyLibraryNYC, which also includes Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) and Queens Library. “We can’t underscore that enough. We only partner with schools with a school library and a librarian or teacher assigned to the library space.”

Now finishing its third year, the MyLibraryNYC program made its way into 488 pre-K–12 schools across the city this past school year, serving more than half a million students and over 60,000 educators. Wright believes it may be the largest school library partnership in the world.

While students and teachers certainly make good use of New York’s public libraries, MyLibraryNYC creates a uniquely tailored experience for children and schools. Teacher sets of library books can be ordered through an app—from multiple copies of a single title to a collection on a specific topic—and then delivered to them at their campus. Students and educators are also assigned unique accounts—with extended borrowing privileges and no overdue fines. Library staff visit schools to deliver book talks, database training, and other outreach activities. And school librarians receive professional development—learning what the public libraries can offer, and how the materials can support schools.

“Many [educators] don’t know what resources are available to teachers,” says Diana Plunkett, BPL’s manager of strategic initiatives. “When they find out, it’s like kids in a candy store.”

The success of the program has been clear. Students and educators holding MyLibraryNYC cards checked out nearly 190,000 items from BPL alone by the end of 2013-2014. This year, that number ballooned by almost 70 percent with nearly 320,000 items checked out by the end of April, says Plunkett.

MyLIbraryNYC Green-Lighted for 2015-16

Originally supported through a $5 million grant from Citibank, the program ran out of funding this June. But working together, the DOE and the three library systems reduced overhead, making it possible to run the program in 2015-2016 and hopefully beyond, says Richard Hasenyager, executive director of the office of library services for NYC Public Schools.

“We haven’t even considered a sunset date,” he says. “The commitment is to keep it for at least two to three years.”

The cost to participating schools has been $800 a year—$500 to host the Destiny catalog that all schools must adopt, and $300 to underwrite management of the program itself. That’s dropping to $650 for the coming year for schools that had been previously unable to apply, and Wright hopes that the lower fee might “open the program” to those schools.

Underpinning the entire program is the work that all three library systems invest in supporting school librarians and educators to help them understand what they can, in turn, offer to their students. School librarians and teachers then become evangelists for the public libraries.

“The more knowledge they gain in learning how to use our resources, they can then pass that on to their students and teachers,” says Daniel Nkansah, coordinator of children’s services for the Queens Library. “[Librarians] become almost the gateway of learning.”

Ultimately, the program may be doing more than helping just those schools that  can take part. Plunkett notes that feedback over the years has given them insight on how to best work with schools—even those that can’t participate in the program because they lack a school library, a teacher or school librarian who can act as a liaison (a NYC Public Schools requirement). And some simply can’t afford the cost. She says, the public library is eager to support as many schools, teachers and students as they can.

“In many ways what this program is letting us do is figure out ways to engage really deeply with the school community,” says Plunkett. “While the program may not benefit specifically all schools in Brooklyn, learning how to engage deeply with schools will benefit everybody.”

]]> 0
STEM-Themed Library Backpacks Encourage Outdoor Exploration Wed, 24 Jun 2015 19:58:24 +0000 MOBY picture

Contents of one of the STEM-themed backpacks.

Getting kids to spend time outside isn’t usually a challenge that libraries embrace. But at three systems across southeastern Massachusetts, librarians have launched the My Own BackYard (MOBY) program, designed to encourage children and their parents to discover the world around them by checking out kid-friendly backpacks full of STEM-themed goodies for them to take along on their exploring.

“Sometimes parents aren’t entirely comfortable getting outdoors,” says Susan Pizzolato, library director of the Mattapoisett Free Public Library, one of the three systems that run the MOBY program. “So if they take a backpack, it shows them things to do and becomes a learning experience for the entire family.”

The Mattapoisett library was joined by the Plumb Memorial Library in Rochester and the Elizabeth Taber Library in Marion in launching MOBY last year. To make it happen, they applied for—and won— a $10,000 LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and received the funds in October 2014. The money went into programs, hiring a science educator, Michelle Cusolito, and 50 backpacks—24 of which are already circulating—individualized for each of three regions and their local ecosystems.

One of the backpacks available at the Elizabeth Taber Library helps children explore local saltwater areas by including a net for catching fish and other ocean life, as well as a plant press. At Plumb Memorial Library, students can check out a stargazing kit with binoculars, star charts, and books that identify the phases of the moon. Mattapoisett patrons can use a snow-themed backpack oriented to the winter months to help identify different types of snowflakes.

Backpacks also include laminated information sheets, relevant books, and journals so that students can write their observations and share them with the next person who checks out the backpack.

In order to create the kits, librarians had to do some exploring themselves—by researching the subjects they were introducing to the kids. “We’re librarians, not scientists, so we had to learn about these topics,” says Gail Roberts, library director at Plumb Memorial Library. “I felt [that] if the topics were stimulating to me and my friends, they would be stimulating to others.” Students also had a say in what went into each pack: one young explorer suggested a pencil be included. (His request was fulfilled.)

Each backpack can be checked out for up to two weeks at a time. Those who can’t make it to the branch can still get in on the fun by visiting Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest to uncover nature-related activities in Massachusetts—and their own backyards.

“We believe libraries have a role to play in getting families outdoors and comfortable with nature,” says Pizzolato, noting that time out-of-doors fosters curiosity, risk-taking, and better health. Children who explore “grow up [to be]…better stewards of the environment.”

]]> 0
Fantasy novel “Shadow Scale” excels in audio format | Audio Pick Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:00:17 +0000 HARTMAN, Rachel. Shadow Scale. (Seraphina, Bk. 2). 15 CDs. 18:10 hrs. Listening Library. 2015. $60. ISBN 9780307968982. digital download. Gr 9 Up—To save Goreddi, Seraphina begins to search for other half-dragons in the hopes they can unite to stop dragons from damaging the fragile peace between humans and dragons. Her journey takes her to other regions in the Southlands, and some of the people she seeks prove to be malevolent. When her old nemesis, Jannoula, gains control of the other half-dragons’ [...]]]> shadowscaleHARTMAN, Rachel. Shadow Scale. (Seraphina, Bk. 2). 15 CDs. 18:10 hrs. Listening Library. 2015. $60. ISBN 9780307968982. digital download.
Gr 9 Up—To save Goreddi, Seraphina begins to search for other half-dragons in the hopes they can unite to stop dragons from damaging the fragile peace between humans and dragons. Her journey takes her to other regions in the Southlands, and some of the people she seeks prove to be malevolent. When her old nemesis, Jannoula, gains control of the other half-dragons’ minds, it will be up to Seraphina to figure out a way to save her friends, her home, and her prince, before all are lost. She uncovers shocking, hidden secrets that can save her world, but she will suffer losses before the end. Hartman revisits her enchanting world and creates an unforgettable cast of characters. Mandy Williams’s emotional narration weaves a spell on the audience, seamlessly creating different personalities and capturing the emotions and beauty of both the lands and their inhabitants. Listeners are drawn into the battles, the believable landscape, and the separate world inside Seraphina’s head. VERDICT The extraordinary world-building and characters make this a natural fit for those looking for a creative fantasy tale.–Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY

]]> 0
Apprentice Architect | Touch and Go Wed, 24 Jun 2015 11:05:22 +0000 From Apprentice Architect (Touch Press)

From Apprentice Architect (Fondation Louis Vuitton/Touch Press)

Through interactive activities users will have an opportunity to explore a museum designed by Frank Gehry and consider some of the decisions an architect makes about shape, color, pattern, and light as they design their own buildings. Kathleen S. Wilson reviews Apprentice Architect.

Architects have the ability to transform, inspire, and transcend on a grand scale, none more so than Frank Gehry, whose particular architectural vision is among the most distinctive in the world today. Terms such as post-structuralist and decontructivist are often bandied about when discussing his work, but words alone do not suffice. Architecture needs to be experienced to be understood. For this reason, Touch Press built a highly visual, interactive app with numerous opportunities for exploration, discovery, and creation in Apprentice Architect  (iOS, Free; Gr 3-6), an introduction to the new, Gehry-designed contemporary art museum in Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton.

Six activities form the core of the experience. Each one introduces a different aspect of the development of the building. “My Sketchbook” and “My Studio” focus on visualization and design. The first is a simple 2-D tool that can be used to create a sketch of an edifice by selecting shapes from Gehry’s palette of inspirational objects such as waves, sand dunes, and sailing ships, as well as colors, patterns, and backgrounds, then resizing, reshaping, and rotating them. “My Studio” is a 3-D tool for designing a building by manipulating glass sail and iceberg shapes, two of Gehry’s structural building blocks. Any number of shapes can be chosen by color (glass sails) or pattern (icebergs), then positioned, sized, rotated, stretched, and shrunk to form a simple 3-D model. A whimsical touch includes a slider that can be used to “blow wind” into the sails.

Other activities focus on exploring the structure of the museum and visual perspectives. “Look Around You” presents views from six vantage points inside the building and asks users to find the spot in the building they’d need to stand to see the views. “How Does This Work” offers high-resolution, panoramic images of four of the museum’s structural design features, which can be explored visually in 360 degrees and probed for further information.

The final two activities are more gamelike. “Where’s Frank,” a zoomable, cutaway graphic image of the museum’s interior with people visible on the various floors, invites children to find specific museum employees (a gardener, an engineer, a guide, a curator, a visitor, an artist, etc.) and learn more about the roles they play. Children are put in the role of a crane operator in “Take the Controls,” as they try to place glass panels into the curved roof of the museum without dropping (and breaking) them.

While visitors to Fondation Louis Vuitton will appreciate Apprentice Architect (the app has no sound, making it a discreet guide in the museum), children will also enjoy its engaging activities off-site. The text is available in English and French, the cartoonlike graphics are colorful and viewer-friendly, and the navigation is self-explanatory. Instructions for activities are available, if needed. When first entering the app, children can input their names. When leaving, they can choose to email themselves a certificate of their visit. If you’re looking for a fun, hands-on glimpse into Frank Gehry’s mind, creative genius, architectural style, and process, Apprentice Architect can’t be beat.—Kathleen S. Wilson, New York University, NY, NY

“When kids come to the Fondation, I want them to elevate their imagination, so they grow up thinking of architecture differently.”–Frank Gehry.

            For additional app reviews, visit our dedicated app webpage.



From Apprentice Architect (Fondation Louis Vuitton/Touch Press)

]]> 0
Poignant Intros to Immigration and Transgender Issues | SLJ Sneak Peek Tue, 23 Jun 2015 22:45:18 +0000 SLJ’s July 2015 issue.]]> Jairo Buitrago’s spare picture book presents a gentle portrayal of a family’s struggles with immigration. Alex Gino’s middle grade novel sensitively depicts George’s desire to identify as a girl even though her family and friends see her as a boy. SLJ‘s review editors selected a small handful of excellent and buzz-worthy titles to highlight in advance—you’ll find these titles and many more reviewed in our upcoming July 2015 issue.

Picture Books

two white rabbitsredstarBuitrago, Jairo. Two White Rabbits. tr. from Spanish by Elisa Amado. illus. by Rafael Yockteng. 32p. ebook available. Groundwood. Oct. 2015. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781554987412.

K-Gr 3 –A young girl and her father face challenges together as they move from place to place. They travel by foot and by train and are happy to catch a ride with passersby when they can. Sometimes their journey is delayed (or derailed) when they must stop because of soldiers or if father has to earn more money to continue along their way. Told entirely through the sensibility of the child, the narration informs readers that “the people who are taking us don’t always take us where we are going.” The young girl passes the time by counting the interesting items she sees such as animals, people, clouds, and stars. She is very curious about where they are headed, but never receives an answer to her query. Yet, she is content because she has her daddy and her two white rabbits. This simple, yet poignant picture book beautifully illustrates the life of one migrating family. Set in Central America or Mexico, it shows the arduous journey north to the United States in search of a better life. This book is a great tool for introducing immigration, and can be appreciated on many levels. The digitally created illustrations are detailed and full of expression, telling a story of love, struggle, and determination. VERDICT An important and timely picture book for every library collection.–Amy Shepherd, St. Anne’s Episcopal School, Middleton, DE

lenny and lucy_redstarStead, Philip C. Lenny & Lucy. illus. by Erin E. Stead. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Oct. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781596439320.

PreS-Gr 2 –Peter and his dog Harold are unhappy to find themselves on a journey with their dad through the dark woods on their way to a new home. Peter thinks the move is a terrible idea and if Harold weren’t a dog, even he would do something about it. However, the decision has been made and Peter strongly dislikes the ominous looking trees that sit waiting darkly across the wooden bridge by the new house. The woods could be filled with terrible creatures. That first night, Peter and Harold cannot sleep. The next day, Peter takes action by creating a watchman, Lenny, out of pillows and blankets to guard the bridge. This is better, but something is still not quite right. Lenny needs a friend. So Peter and Harold create Lucy and the four become fast friends, making the home by the woods not so bad after all. Then they welcome Millie, who lives next door and likes looking for owls. This timeless story of a boy using his imagination to cope with loss and acclimate to a new environment is sure to draw in readers of all ages. The text is wonderfully imaginative and the mysterious nature of the woods lends feelings of excitement and intrigue. The illustrations perfectly match the mood of the tale, with the backgrounds created in cold grayscale and the characters popping to life with warm oranges, greens, and blues. VERDICT A wonderfully creative story of resilience and friendship.–Amy Shepherd, St. Anne’s Episcopal School, Middleton, DE

Middle Grade

Fic-MiddleGr-Gino- GeorgeredstarGino, Alex. George. 240p. Scholastic. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545812542; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545812580.

Gr 4-6 –Before her mother and older brother Scott come home, George has a few, treasured moments to experience life as she’s always wanted to live it. She looks in the mirror and calls herself Melissa, combs her hair over her forehead to mimic the appearance of bangs, and reads glossy magazines full of ads for lipstick, perfume, and tampons. Once her mom and brother come home, however, the magazines must go back to their secret hiding place. While George has no doubt she’s a girl, her family relates to her as they always have: as a boy. George hopes that if she can secure the role of Charlotte in her class’s upcoming production of Charlotte’s Web, her mom will finally see her as a girl and be able to come to terms with the fact that George is transgender. With the help of her closest ally, Kelly, George attempts to get the rest of the world to accept her as she is. While children can have a sense of their gender identity as early as the age of three, children’s literature is shockingly bereft of trans* protagonists, especially where middle grade literature is concerned. George offers more than the novelty of an LGBTQ coming-out story, however. Here, what is most remarkable is the use of pronouns: While the world interacts with George as if she is a boy, the narrator only refers to her with female pronouns, which gives her girl-ness a stronger sense of validation. In addition, George comments on the fact that, in past years, gays and lesbians have achieved a certain amount of visibility and acceptance, while the trans* community is still largely ignored and misunderstood. George’s mother remarks that while she can handle having a gay child, she simply can’t accept her as “that kind of gay.” For George, as is the case for many LGBTQ youth, coming out is a process that she must repeat until she is properly recognized. There is pain in George, but not without the promise of a better tomorrow, even if tomorrow doesn’t arrive as soon as it should. VERDICT A required purchase for any collection that serves a middle grade population.–Ingrid Abrams, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

redstarHaydu, Corey Ann. Rules for Stealing Stars. 336p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Sept. Fic-MiddleGr-Haydu- Rules for Stealing Stars2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062352712.

Gr 4-7 –Silly’s family is in distress. Moving to their New Hampshire summer house, which was supposed to help, has only exacerbated her mother’s drinking problem. Silly’s father finds refuge in his academic study of fairy tales, leaving 11-year-old Silly and her three sisters to fend for themselves. Silly resents the fact that her siblings view her as the baby, and exclude her from the secrets they hide behind their bedroom doors. But the day their mother finally turns her wrath on Silly, the bedroom door cracks open and Astrid pulls Silly into the room to share their secret: the bedroom closet is a magic portal that allows the girls to escape to worlds of their creating. “We let the closet take care of us” Astrid explains, “and it always does.” Silly soon discovers other closets are magical as well, feeding what each girl needs. Not all the girls’ desires are benevolent, however, and as the summer wears on, the seductive alternative worlds begin to separate the sisters. Silly realizes the siren call of the closets may soon cause irreparable damage. Haydu masterfully portrays the stress of living with an alcoholic parent. While narrator Silly is most fully voiced, all four sisters are well developed and readers share their pain as they search to fill the void left by their mother, creating a pattern of ever-shifting alliances as they seek balance. But when one of the sisters gets trapped in a closet, the sisters must find the strength to break down doors, both literal and metaphorical. VERDICT A well-crafted blend of realism and fantasy. Give to fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting By 7s (Dial, 2013) and Sarah Weeks’s So B It (Harper, 2004).–Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District, Lancaster, PA


state of graceBadger, Hilary. State of Grace. 352p. ebook available. Capstone/Switch. Jul. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781630790158.

Gr 10 Up –Wren lives in paradise, where every day is a perfect mix of swimming, relaxing, eating luscious fresh fruit, and hooking up with her latest love interest. There is no shame and body image is appreciated, with clothing being optional. Thanks to Dot, Wren’s Creator, Wren believes that her world is perfect, and has no negative feelings. However, the teen begins to see cracks in her Creation as she experiences visions and conjures up memories, words, and images. These visions cause her to feel confusion and intense guilt. They occur more frequently when she meets Dennis, a regular boy who enters into Dot’s Creation. Wren and her friends work together to keep Dennis hidden from others and to find out why he was sent, in the process finding out much more than they bargained for. Badger crafts a beautiful dystopian world in her YA debut. The author dives deep into the soul of a teenager, providing an up-close look at guilt, depression, and crime. Badger creates a thought-provoking work, complete with riveting suspense, a fast pace, and a touch of romance. The line between truth and reality is often blurred, leaving readers questioning themselves, the belief system they were raised in, and the power of choice and their own voice. This novel sheds light on realistic issues that impact teens. VERDICT An excellent addition to young adult collections.–Erin Holt, Williamson County Public Library, Franklin, TN

Kagawa, Julie. Rogue. 464p. (Talon: Bk. 2). ebook available. Harlequin Teen. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBNKagawa_Rogue 9780373211463.

Gr 8 Up –This modern-day fantasy picks up right where Talon (Harlequin Teen, 2014) left off. Ember must convince Cobalt to help her rescue Garrett from what she believes will be his certain death. These three unlikely allies find themselves running from Talon and St. George operatives and fighting for both their lives and those of others. Told from multiple perspectives, this narrative will give readers more insight about the mysterious rogue dragon Cobalt, and will have them connecting with Dante (Ember’s twin) as he rises through the ranks in the very organization Ember repudiates. With romance taking a backseat to action and character backstory, this is a sequel that will leave readers waiting impatiently for the third installment. VERDICT A worthwhile read for fans of Talon and Kagawa’s other action-packed and satisfying fantasies.–Stephanie DeVincentis, Downers Grove North High School, IL


NFic-MiddleHS-Montgomery-The Octopus ScientistsredstarMontgomery, Sy. The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk. photos by Keith Ellenbogen. 80p. (Scientists in the Field). bibliog. ebook available. index. HMH. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544232709.

Gr 6-9 –Searching for octopuses along the coast of Moorea in French Polynesia might sound like a dream assignment. However, these elusive mollusks are master of deceptive camouflage: boneless wonders that can ooze into impossibly small spaces and that tend to change their locations abruptly, leaving merely a tidy stack of emptied shells from past meals. Montgomery and Ellenbogen join psychologist Jennifer Mather and her team as they methodically explore Moorea’s fringing reefs, recording finds of octopus dens and middens on geographic grids, meeting octopods here and there that peer curiously from their hiding places. Interspersed with this logical, systematic investigation is a series of fascinating asides: discussions of the Centre de Researches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement de Polynésie Française, of the intelligence of these evasive creatures and their amazing capability to change the color and texture of their skin, and of the coral habitats they select as dwelling places. Through sharply crafted text, Montgomery shares her enthusiasm with readers, and Ellenbogen’s vibrant color photos allow a crystalline window into a very special environment. This glimpse into an alien world and mind combines biology and psychology: an exciting pairing. VERDICT Another enticing entry in a series devoted to highlighting enthusiastic scientists hard at work in the fields they love.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. The Call of the Osprey. photos by William Muñoz. 80p. (Scientists in theNFic-MiddleHS-Patent-The Call of the Osprey Field). bibliog. index. HMH. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544232686. LC 2014016090.

Gr 5-8 –Patent’s lucid prose and Muñoz’s clear color photos work together to document the efforts of the Montana Osprey Project, which studies the negative effects of toxic metals released into the environment during mining operations on these raptors. The book follows three scientists—Erick Greene, Heiko Langner, and Rob Domenech—as they study established pairs during the nesting season. They band osprey chicks, take blood samples and feather clippings for chemical analysis, fit birds with electronic transmitters to follow their wanderings, scoop silt from riverbeds to check for pollutants, and focus two webcams on osprey nests to check on parenting skills and chick development. The trio also talk with wildlife biology students and cooperate with locals who are fascinated by ospreys. Sidebars abound on a wide variety of topics, many pertaining to the ospreys: their biology, food, nesting behaviors, and migration patterns. Others include biographical background on the three scientists, an article on a young student and her experiments on fish in metal-contaminated waters, and information about the use of mercury in mining operations and the dangers that baling twine poses to nest building ospreys. An extensive author’s note describes Patent’s experience with some very far-flung pollution. VERDICT An exciting addition to a stellar series.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

]]> 0