Posted in Uncategorized

Virtual Programming makes anywhere a library

So we’re finishing up our second week of quarantine, and the news is maddening. Homeschooling is overwhelming for Gabe and for me; my 16-year-old Alex, is feeling it, too. There are six of us under this roof, along with our dog and our cat, so there’s a lot of togetherness happening.

This week, I started my virtual programming, and I loved it. Storytimes and craft times helped me feel connected to my Corona Kids, especially when our moms started posting pictures of my kiddos and their crafts. I miss them all so much; this was just… thank you. Thank you all, because I needed that.

I’m growing even closer to my colleagues in the system as we navigate virtual programming together. A few of us are now on a committee our library system created so we can get our programming out via the library Facebook Live page (and we’re still doing our own programming on the side, because who loves storytime more than a children’s librarian? Other than, you know, the kids). These have been bright moments during the darker times this week, and I’m counting on those to keep me going.

What’s up for this week? I’m working on a programming schedule now, but there will be more virtual goodies, more Duolingo conversation groups (I’m in a Spanish language group now), and more reading and blogging time. I need to build in more family time, because I see us all gravitating to our devices, and think we need a little more interaction.

Keep safe, stay home, and find joy in the small moments.

Posted in Adventure, Fiction, Horror, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Life imitates art in Girls Save the World in This One

Girls Save the World in This One, by Ash Parsons, (Apr. 2020, Philomel Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9780525515326

Ages 13+

Okay, imagine you’re going to a con where the cast of your favorite zombie-ridden post-apocalyptic show is appearing. You’ve hit the exhibit hall, taken pictures with the cosplayers, and are just sitting down to a panel with the whole cast… and the zombie apocalypse happens. For reals. That’s how it goes down for teens June, Siggy, and Imani, attending ZombieCon! in their little hometown. They’re sitting in on a panel with all the stars of their favorite zombie show, Human Wasteland, when all hell breaks loose. The girls have to put their zombie apocalypse skills to the test to survive, and June has to cope with the indignity of having her ex-BFF, Blair, who’s also at the con and on the run from the undead. DRAMA.

Girls Save the World in This One is FANTASTIC. I loved every single page of this hilarious action-adventure story, with relatable teens who are sick and tired of friendship drama, dumb boyfriends, and all of these freaking zombies! June, Imani, and Siggy are quick-thinking, smart, and their friendship bond is #squadgoals. June, in fabulous teen fashion, takes time to agonize over her damaged friendship with Blair while figuring out how to escape zombies and put up with obnoxious cable TV celebrities, and Blair – the friend on the outside looking in – is proof that desperate times can bring people closer. Fans of the other zombie show on cable TV will recognize some characters, and I love the fangirl’s dream come true that evolves throughout the book. Who will survive? You MUST read this to find out. Strong female characters, the power of friendship, and a burgeoning romance amidst the zombie apocalypse make this a must have.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Dewdrop is the cheerleader we all need right now

Dewdrop, by Katie O’Neill, (Apr. 2020, Oni Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781620106891

Ages 3-7

One of the ruling monarchs of All That is Adorable, Katie O’Neill – whom you may know from her Tea Dragon series, Aquicorn Cove, or Princess Princess Ever After graphic novels – now gives us a cheerleading axolotl named Dewdrop, in an upbeat, sweet graphic novel.

Dewdrop and his underwater friends are practicing their skills to show off at the yearly sports fair. Mia is a weightlifting turtle, Newman the newt is a musician, and three minnows fancy themselves as chefs. Dewdrop? He’s a cheerleader! And as his friends practice for the fair, Dewdrop visits each one of them to cheer them on and get them past their fears, which is perfect practice for his own skills: cheering! Dewdrop is a sweet story with tips about mindfulness, positivity, and friendship, and it turns some antiquated gender tropes on their heads: Dewdrop is male. A pink, cheerleading, adorable male. Mia is a female turtle, rocking a little flower head decoration, and she’s a weightlifter. Having a male character radiate positivity – something we’ve often seen as the female characters’ responsibility – sends a refreshing, reassuring message to all children about how easy it is to be a good friend. Katie O’Neill is fantastic at upending outdated gender roles, and Dewdrop continues to deliver upbeat, inspiring messages through colorful and bright artwork with charming characters.

Katie O’Neill is an award-winning author and graphic novelist. Her author webpage has more of her illustrations, information about her graphic novels, and an online store.

Want to learn more about axolotls? Live Science has pictures and facts, as does National Geographic. Author Jess Keating has the cutest axolotl coloring page, and her book, Cute As An Axolotl, is all about “nature’s cutest weirdos”.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Librarian Resistance! Don’t Check Out This Book by Kate Klise

Don’t Check Out This Book!, by Kate Klise/Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise, (March 2020, Algonquin), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-61620-976-6

Ages 8-12

In this testament to the librarian resistance, new school librarian Rita B. Danjerous moves into the town of Appleton, Illinois, a town that’s been dwindling. Heck, Rita’s there because the school received a “When All Else Fails” grant, and by enrolling Rita’s daughter, May B Danjerous (you’ll notice there’s no period after the B), the school will hit their minimum enrollment of 20 students to be allowed to stay open. Appleton Elementary School is not quite ready for a librarian like Rita, or a kid like May, but they’ll be glad the two are there: this is a mother-daughter duo who see things a little differently than most of the folks in Appleton, and they’re going to have to lock horns with the school board president, Ivana Beprawpa, who has her own ideas about how the school should be run… and dressed!

I loved this fun story that puts us librarians in such a good light! Rita is smart, savvy, and ready to work with what she’s got to make her library – in this case, a custodial closet, and then an apple cart – work. She creates a scandalous “Green Dot Collection” for kids who may be a little embarrassed to ask for books about certain subjects (which totally has my brain wheels turning for when my library opens back up); she pushes back against silly bureaucrats who operate with their own special interests in mind; and she encourages her daughter, and her library kids, to question everything and think independently. Written as a series of emails, newspaper articles, memos, sketches, and other forms of written communication, kids will devour this awesome book about the power of one person who sees things differently. A great idea for a book club read, too.

Kate Klise is the award-winning author of the 43 Old Cemetery Road series, which is a big hit in my library. Her author website has info about her books – most of which are illustrated by her sister, M. Sarah Klise! – and links to her blog and workshop information.

Posted in programs, Storytime

Virtual Programming Starting Tomorrow!

So I finally got it into gear, after this incredible, inspiring schedule that my colleague, Ashley, has going on this week as we librarians kick off our virtual programming. First, here’s Ashley’s schedule. Check out her out on Facebook Live and enjoy her programming – I made sure I wouldn’t conflict with her!

I’ve got a week of programming ready to go, too. Let’s start with the schedule, and I’ll break it down.

Tomorrow’s Dino Day: I’ve got my second and 11th graders starting Google Classroom, just like many of you, so I’m not doing programming until 3pm, so we can all get into the swing of things. At 3 pm, I’ll be doing a Facebook Live. Here’s my Facebook link. I’m new to all of this, so if I can find a way to send a link right before, I will.

Dino Day will kick off with a reading of Lindsay Ward’s book, Don’t Forget Dexter, a book you may know that I adore. After that, we’ll work on dino skeletons. I’m posting the template I’ll be using below. You can hand draw it if you don’t have a printer; just make a dinosaur(ish) shape. I’m going to trace the template on black paper so the “bones: show up, but you can use any color or texture paper you want. Cut a handful of Q-Tips in half, and have some glue stick ready.

Tuesday and Thursday, I’ve got storytime at 11, also through Facebook Live. These are the songs I’ll be using, so even if you can’t make it, feel free to add these songs to your day. I’m missing my Corona Kids something fierce, so I’m adding some Spanish songs in there in the hopes that some of my families will join me and sing along.

More about Wednesday-Friday crafts tomorrow. Be safe and be well.

Posted in Uncategorized

And on the sixth day, she got her act together

So I’ve been blogging and napping a lot this week. Working with Gabe as he gets ready to transition to online learning on Monday. Feeling sorry for myself, missing my library kids, badgering my administration to let me know when I can get training on virtual reference and start planning virtual storytimes.

And then, I saw my colleagues, who are likely doing the same thing, but they’re DOING STUFF. Creating their own graphics and getting Facebook Live programming out there, and they are AMAZING. So I’m going to be doing the same. I’m reviewing publisher guidelines for storytimes, and I’m pulling together some projects. I’ll be posting here SOON. Like, by end of day today. And I’m also pulling together a virtual knitting group at night time, so I’ll let you know when that happens.

Hang in there, everyone. We’ve got this.

Posted in picture books

Earth Hour Giveaway: The Stars Just Up the Street

What better to cheer up people than a giveaway? Read on for more about The Stars Just Up the Street, by Sue Soltis and beautifully illustrated by Christine Davenier!

The Stars Just Up the Street, by Sue Soltis/Illustrated by Christine Davenier,
(March 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763698348
Ages 4-8

This ode to the nighttime sky makes a smart and strong statement about pollution. Mabel is a young girl who loves the stars, but after hearing her father tell stories about growing up on the prairie, where the nighttime sky boasted thousands of stars, Mabel wants more. She plans ways to find more stars: climbing the tallest tree in her backyard, then going up to the hill in town; it doesn’t get much better. Mabel realizes that the lights from surrounding homes and the street lights block much of the sky’s view, so she and Grandpa begin asking neighbors, and, ultimately, the mayor, to turn off the lights, just for a little while. As the new moon arrives, the town gathers at the hill to watch the sky light up with thousands of stars, and a new tradition is born.

The Stars Just Up the Street is a story of advocacy, showing kids that they can affect change by asking; it also demonstrates the power of a little persistence. The story teaches kids (and adults) about pollution, and how it directly affects the night sky: and how we can begin restoring our planet just by turning off a light. Christine Davenier’s ink illustrations give us friendly faces and gorgeous night skies, where the stars come back to let us know they haven’t left us; we’ve just covered them up for a little while. What a great addition to an Earth Hour or Earth Day storytime, a nature storytime, or an anytime storytime.

Want to learn more about Earth Hour? Check out the website, and the World Wildlife Fund’s website, which has 7 fun activities to do in the dark (it’s a family-friendly site, folks!). also has 15 fun activities for Earth Hour, and Canadian website MomsTown has 60 kids’ activities. Earth Hour takes place on March 28th.


I’ve got two copies to give away, courtesy of publisher Candlewick Press. US addresses only, and no PO Boxes, please! Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance!