March 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Sex in the Library and Music Programming Guide Stand Out in Crop of New Professional Reading Titles | Professional Reading Reviews

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SLJ140401w-BK_ProfessionalBeckett, Sandra L. Revisioning Red Riding Hood Around the World: An Anthology of International Retellings. 401p. (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies). bibliog. index. notes. reprods. Wayne State University Press. 2013. pap. $34.95. ISBN 9780814334799; ebk. ISBN 9780814339732. LC 2013942573.

The collection is comprised of 52 diverse, mostly contemporary retellings in poetry and prose from 24 countries; the oldest published in 1908, the most recent in 2011. The helpful introduction presents the rationale for thematic groupings. The majority of the entries are picture books and some vivid black-and-white or color illustrations from the works are included. The art is as varied as the tales. Detailed descriptions explain how the illustrations extend the text and add nuance to the story. Each entry is prefaced by information about the author and illustrator’s work in general and the piece in particular. These prefatory remarks are academic but accessible to older teens. The language of the tales is rich with cultural, historical, and political references. The traditional characters are often imaginatively recast. In the tragic “Little Red Riding Hood” by Japanese writer Iwasaki, the setting is World War II, the head covering is a disaster hood and the crime is committed not by a wolf, but by hungry humans. The wolf is a werewolf in the humorous Czech tale by Mikula and a lover in the Peruvian verse by Chicano in “Wolf in Love.” In a disturbingly sexual retelling “Mina, I Love You” by Joiret, Red Riding Hood is portrayed as teenage seductress and she-wolf. In the poem “My Wolf” by Bertier she is a girl in love, and in the cautionary poem by Claude Clement “A Little Red Riding Hood,” she survives the encounter but is left psychologically damaged. Many of the stories are meant for adults and include violent or sexual content. Others are fractured variants such as “Little Red Cap Another Way” by Pongrasic, which will be enjoyed by teens. Some of the tales are fun for all ages. Art and English teachers will find the work useful. Recommended for large public libraries and high schools.–Jackie Gropman, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, VA

redstarBrown, Amy. Let’s Start the Music: Programming for Primary Grades. 184p. bibliog. index. ALA. 2014. pap. $45. ISBN 9780838911662. LC 2013010871.

Brown, an experienced programmer in public library settings, makes a solid case for weaving multiple intelligences into primary grade programs. She explores several benefits of integrating music into story and literacy programs, then outlines simple strategies for all children’s staff to feature more music and instruments in their events. Brown shares 13 themed programs, ranging from sing-alongs and animals to fairy tales and food, and each theme includes an extensive list of books, songs, an activity, and an instrument craft. All topics include plenty of alternate story and song options, making these programs easily usable and modifiable by both veteran and novice programmers. Annotations of program elements are superb, leaving readers well equipped to offer musical programs immediately after reading. Appendices direct readers to even more ready-to-use program elements. An excellent addition to any public library professional collection.–Amy Koester, St. Charles City-County Library District, Wentzville, MO

Del Negro, Janice M. Folktales Aloud: Practical Advice for Playful Storytelling. 224p. ALA. 2013. pap. $47. ISBN 9780838911358; ebk. ISBN 9780838996324. LC 2013028036.

Folktales are an integral part of children’s literature and are the basis for many classic books librarians use daily in their work. These much loved tales are also the backbone of the art of storytelling. Unlike reading aloud and singing rhymes and finger plays in a storytime, storytelling is a way to engage and captivate your audience on another level. Del Negro leads novice tellers through the nuances of successful storytelling. She discusses how to best select tales that are appropriate for particular age groups, and how to turn simple words on a page into an engaging presentation that will capture your audience’s attention and imagination. While storytelling may feel intimidating for many, Del Negro’s assurances will impart confidence that those new to this practice may seek. The author provides more than 15 popular folktales that she has adapted and retold. These tales are captioned as Storycoaching and Del Negro does just that; coach readers on how to verbally interpret the tale in a way that they feel comfortable. Each chapter is broken out by age group. Advice is offered in a very practical way on how to approach this group and suggestions are made as to how to grab and hold their interest with pacing, movement and suspense. If you have even a passing interest in the art of storytelling, this guide is not to be missed.–Allison Santos, Princeton Public Library, NJ

Dietzel-Glair, Julie. Books in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Books Through Art, Games, Movement, Music, Playacting, and Props. 224p. illus. index. Neal Schuman. 2013. pap. $55. ISBN 978-1-55570-810-8. LC 2012040993.

If you’ve been looking for a way to add activities to your storytimes, look no further. Divided into six sections; art, games, movement, music, playacting, and props, this title provides detailed instructions on how to use children’s books and activites to engage preschool-aged children through movement. The author includes 500 books with strong movement tie-ins, and all have been published in the year 2000 or later. Many of these activities would be useful in storytimes for children with special needs. Whether you have a specific special needs program, or are including children with special needs in your regular storytimes, you will find these activities useful to those children who need more movement. In fact, these activities provide a good way of helping all preschool children succeed at your storytime programs. Activities range from creating art like the characters in the story to encouraging young children to pretend along with the characters in the book. Back matter includes art patterns, an author, title, and subject index. An excellent resource for public and school libraries.–Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY

redstarHeller, Mary Jo & Aarene Storms. Sex in the Library: A Guide to Sexual Content in Teen Literature. 120p. appendix. bibliog. index. VOYA. 2013. pap. $40.00. ISBN 978-1-61751-028-1.

The authors (a school and a public librarian) have been offering a workshop called Sex in the Library (SITL) for years. They conduct collaborative booktalks on titles with sexual content, while educating audiences on the role of librarians. They focus on the major differences between school and public library missions, budgets, selection criteria, and collection development policies. Sex in the Library is more than a humorous glimpse into their attempt to “lure” teens back into a love of reading. It’s also a guide for replication. Readers will learn how to plan and implement their own SITL, and the title includes advice on selling the idea to administrators, compiling booktalks and booklists, pitching books to boys, reviewing books, and dealing with snickers and occasional hecklers. The authors also cover the differences in conducting SITL for students, teachers, parents, and librarians. The book also contains resource lists at the end of many chapters, sample excerpts and book blurbs, an ample list of book reviews arranged by topic, resources for booktalking and a bibliography. The magic Heller and Storms have created might be difficult to put into practice in every community; however, they provide rationale and strategies that are hard to ignore. Even if SITL is not for your audience, the authors have devised a great collaborative booktalking format for multiple audiences that is worth the investment, and their plans could be adapted to other topics that would engage and educate audiences.–Adrienne L. Strock, Chicago Public Library

Holt, Leslie E. & Glen E. Holt. Success with Library Volunteers. 156p. index. notes. Teacher Ideas Press/Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $45. ISBN 9781610690485; ebk. ISBN 9781610690492. LC 2013033814.

Leslie Holt and Glen Holt, two library practitioners, create a clear and “ready to use” book on volunteers in the library. Success is the key to any program. The authors share practical examples from multiple libraries and instructions on how to make this happen in your library. Two of the specifically helpful sections are chapter four, “Planning” and chapter five, “Recruitment, Retention and Recognition.” In each of these chapters you will find exact steps that tell you what you need to do or not to do at your library. Build on your own volunteer program with proven successes from this book. The authors include new volunteer areas such as technology volunteers and virtual volunteers. Through quotes and articles, readers will understand the basics of volunteering. Be ready to “make volunteers so happy about their…experience that they spread your positive message to friends and family members alike.” Where past volunteer library books focus on managing or training, these authors offer essential new strategies on how to have a successful program and offer additional resources. Success with Library Volunteers is a must-read for any librarian who has volunteers or is thinking about adding a volunteer program.–Paige Bentley-Flannery, Deschutes Public Library, Bend, OR

Jones, Cherri & J. B. Petty. Multiethnic Books for the Middle-School Curriculum. 284p. appendix. diags. further reading. index. ALA. 2013. pap. $55.00. ISBN 9780838911631. LC 201204938.

This useful resource focuses on different ethnic and religious groups that are found in the U.S. and also on those groups that are experiencing major conflicts around the world. Fiction and nonfiction titles published in the last decade are included, and each bibliographic entry is carefully annotated with useful information. The authors, academic librarians with decades of experience, have also included the curricular area and content area standards that each book meets. The annotations are detailed enough that they would be helpful when planning booktalks. The authors also include informational books that present an “awareness of diversity”: they include titles that show multiethnic characters or photographs of multiethnic people, giving a broader image than that of a “white world” that they have discovered in many books for this age group. An extensive index is offered and is useful in finding a title that meets several criteria. A solid choice to any school library, especially where faculty is trying to adhere to the new Common Core Standards.–Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY

Maddigan, Beth & Susan Bloos. Community Library Programs That Work: Building Youth and Family Literacy. 213p. bibliog. index. Teacher Ideas Press/Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $45. ISBN 9781610692632; ebk. ISBN 9781610692649.

Ideas for ways in which libraries and other institutions can work together to promote literacy are collected from public and school libraries mainly from Canada and the U.S. (Nine chapters arranging the 41 programs thematically comprise the table of contents.) Each program is described in terms of the target audience, community connections, benefits to the organizations, how it works, budget and supplies and marketing. Black-and-white photos of hand-outs and displays are included with some of the descriptions, and contact information is provided. Public libraries are shown to consort with schools as well as museums, parks, chambers of commerce, and some international communities. Descriptions often include sidebars for “Scaling Down” or “Ramping Up.” Many of the programs are family oriented such as “Story Walk” in Bridgetown Nova Scotia, which uses panels of story boards on an outdoor trail to encourage physical activity and literacy. Programs that focus on international cultures are featured, such as the Diwali festival at the Fleetwood Branch in Surrey, British Columbia. An initiative developed by IFLA is a cultural exchange program in which Romanian children and Serbian children discuss books online. Another innovative partnership is the Newcomer’s Bus Tour in which the Brampton public library in conjunction with local businesses, recreation centers, and city hall offers bus tours to highlight the community’s attractions and services. A unique summer program in Saskatchewan, Canada in which teens suggest and complete a series of challenges is called “We Dare You”. Public libraries of all sizes and resources will find ideas traditional and digital in this browsable resource.–Jackie Gropman, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, VA

Preddy, Leslie B. School Library Makerspaces: Grades 6-12. 192p. appendix. bibliog. glossary. index. photos. websites. Teacher Ideas Press/Libraries Unlimited. 2013. pap. $45. ISBN 9781610694940; ebk. ISBN 9781610694957. LC 2013025274.

This guide to setting up and justifying a maker space begins promisingly with practical and helpful information on topics such as space and setup, budgeting, necessary materials and equipment and safety rules. Preddy connects the idea of the school library maker space with the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner as well as the common core and the STEM movement. She outlines the possibility of rewarding the makers with digital badges and participatory recognition. She also suggests that some of the making should be done in the school community for the greater good, rather than simply the making itself. The bulk of this book is made up of potential projects to do in the school makerspace, ranging from making lip balm and soap to weaving and storyboarding. The focus is on analog rather than digital, with the only tech-based project being creating a video. While this book may be of use to the solo practitioner, it suffers from poor design. Dark and shadowy photographs vary from project to project, cluttered pathfinder pages, as well as the orientation of directions, change from vertical to horizontal for a single project (pg. 110), making the instructions hard to understand. Much of the information contained within is available online in a more attractive format. Indeed, one of the sources sited ( has a free “playbook” available on this very subject.–Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York City

Sullivan, Michael. Raising Boy Readers. 176p. ALA. 2014. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781937589431. LC 2013011537.

Sullivan, author of Connecting Boys with Books 2 (2009) and Serving Boys through Readers Advisory (2010, both ALA) writes his first work for parents of boys. In a clear, conversational tone, he offers practical and reassuring advice on a range of topics, including how fathers influence what their sons read, what kind of physical environment fosters reading, and why reading large numbers of titles—even below grade level—is essential to making boys lifelong readers. The first half of the book features five chapters, each addressing the “whys” and “hows” of boy readers, concluding with a “big question” that pertains to the central topic. The chapter on “How Boys Read” discusses gender differences, brain science, the importance of reading aloud, ADHD concerns, and encouraging boys’ writing. The chapter’s “big question” asks if e-readers benefit boys: Sullivan says “yes” and makes a persuasive case. Detailed source notes at the end of each chapter demonstrate the author’s thorough research and make information easy to find. The second half of the book is an annotated list of more than 300 titles organized by grade level, elementary through high school. The same list is then reorganized by genre, subject, and grade levels. An index includes all 300 titles in the booklist and is well-organized for quick reference; the bibliography is comprehensive. While Sullivan’s stated audience is parents, educators and librarians will also find valuable insights in this volume.– Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.