Libri Dilectio: October 2009

31 October 2009

Boo Boo Boo!

Yup, that’s me and my Molly doll. It’s always cool to dress up as your favorite book character/toy. What are you going to be this Halloween?

30 October 2009

Fanfare Friday: Catch the Moon

Catch the Moon, Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell

My co-worker, A, first introduced me to Elizabeth Mitchell a few months ago. I was unimpressed because it was too pretty and sweet. If you haven’t noticed, I’m drawn to more fun, silly music for kids, but this really grew on me. Elizabeth Mitchell and Lisa Loeb have very complimentary voices and the lack of lots of instrumentation make this CD easy to listen to.

I envision this being a pre/para naptime album since the songs are all very quiet and mellow. I like the addition of songs that children and adults will know already, like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I think it’s nice for kids to sometimes hear songs that are familiar mixed in with the new music.

My favorite songs on the album are Big Rock Candy Mountain and Catch the Moon. They are both nice, soothing songs that make me all relaxed and sleepy. Actually, since I’m listening to Catch the Moon right now, I’m feeling ready for a nap…maybe just a few min…zzzzzzz.

29 October 2009

An Obsession with Puppets

Hello. My name is Becky and…I’m a puppet-holic. A lifelong puppet-holic. I think I can trace it all back to Jim Henson, as so many probably can. That man was a GENIUS with a puppet…I mean muppet. Actually, my first dream job was muppeteer. At the mature age of 8 I wrote a letter to Frank Oz and included my design for my own muppet character. I can’t actually remember if I ever got a response, which probably means no.

I even loved the less flashy puppets. Remember Duso the Dolphin? Maybe not, but those of us who were in elementary school in the 90’s had the pleasure of listening to the school guidance counselors do little skits with the Duso puppet. I distinctly remember that my elementary school counselor made the body twitch around more often then actually moving the mouth (a rookie mistake) and I still paid attention.

Last week in storytime another librarian and I did a little mini puppet show about a farmer who had lost his hat and had to ask some animals if they’d seen it. The story itself is obviously very simple, but the kids were mesmerized by the puppets. I’ve never seen a quieter storytime group, and I was having as much fun as they were!

When I left my last job and moved here one of my coworkers gave me a puppet as a going away present. He’s a white mouse puppet that another old coworker/awesome friend named Faust. Now he’s my sidekick, Faust the Inexplicably French Mouse. He speaks with a French accent, frequently lapses into speaking French, has very little patience with me, and would someday like to rule the world, but for now he’ll settle for being king of the library. I used Faust in storytime last week and the kids really seemed to like him. Granted, they loved all the puppets, but I’d like to think that they really really liked Faust.

Yes, there is nothing like a puppet. You can make them say just about anything, no topic is off limits to a puppet. Kids will always love them. Yes, they can see your arm. Yes, they can see your mouth moving. And yes, they still love them. I highly recommend using puppets in storytimes whenever possible. Check out Folkmanis for a wide selection of GREAT puppets (that’s where Faust came from). They also have some excellent resources for longtime and new puppet enthusiasts.

I’ll leave this puppety post on the best note possible…an operatic one.

28 October 2009

Book Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Jeff Kinney
(Gr 4-7)

Summary from Amazon:
“It’s summer vacation, the weather’s great, and all the kids are having fun outside. So where’s Greg Heffley? Inside his house, playing video games with the shades drawn.
Greg, a self-confessed “indoor person,” is living out his ultimate summer fantasy: no responsibilities and no rules. But Greg’s mom has a different vision for an ideal summer . . . one packed with outdoor activities and “family togetherness.”
Whose vision will win out? Or will a new addition to the Heffley family change everything?”

I think I’ve made my feelings for Greg Heffley very clear. He gets kids of all ages, genders, and abilities to read, which I will never be unhappy about. He cracks me up and he is one of the most real junior high boys I’ve ever read.
With that being said, here is my first criticism of Greg. He’s getting to the point that I’m wondering if he has a conscience at all. His self centeredness is at an extreme. He doesn’t really have any friends and I wonder if he cares about anyone but himself at all. Maybe it’s time to start maturing him…just a little. I’d at least like to see him get a real friend. Rowley doesn’t really count because he doesn’t actually like him. Maybe Greg is like some other comic book characters who never actually age. Think about Fox Trot by Bill Amend. Those kids never get any older or more mature. Greg might be the eternal kid who just won’t ever learn anything more, in which case, I understand his character, but I can’t shake the need to see him have a friend.
I still love these books, they make me laugh, and I can’t get enough of Mrs. Heffley. She is adorable! I will definitely keep recommending these books to kids (not that they need the encouragement). I’m excited for the upcoming movie and very interested to see how they choose to show the Heffleys!

27 October 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Hush Hush

This is a weekly meme run by MizB at Should Be Reading. Check it out for other Teaser Tuesday books. Here’s how it works.

1) Grab your current read
2) Open to a random page
3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
4)Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“Determined to prove my fear was all in my head, I headed down the tunnel, hearing the soft tap of my shoes on concrete. Shifting my backpack on my left shoulder, I calculated how long it would take to walk home, and whether or not I was up for taking the short-cut across the railroad tracks now that it was dusk.” –Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. pg 214.

26 October 2009

Book Review: Fire

Fire, Kristin Cashore
(Gr 9+)

Summary from Amazon (because I’m afraid of writing my own summary. I don’t want to spoil anything!):

“She is the last of her kind…

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.”

Fire is an instantly likeable character. I felt close to her from the beginning of the novel and was deeply involved in her story. I loved that her beauty is more of a curse than a gift. Fire is constantly faced with a dilemma, how much should she use the control she has over others?

Kristin Cashore’s writing style reminds me of Tamora Pierce. She creates the same sense of a world with countless stories going on around the one you’re reading. I love how real that makes the world feel. I have this sense of the Dells while I’m reading Fire, but I also remember the Seven Kingdoms from Graceling. I would recommend Tamora Pierce to teens who are ready for Kristin Cashore to write a third book already!

Without giving too much away, I love that Kristin Cashore writes male characters who I fall in love with. I’m sure most readers have book crushes, but mine are actually few and far between. I often like the male leads, but rarely fall for them with the female leads. However, Kristin Cashore is two for two on men that I want to jump off the page and sweep me away. Sigh.

This is a beautiful book that will pull readers deep into a world filled with monsters and people who do monstrous things. I actually liked it better then Graceling, and that’s saying a lot, because I loved Graceling. This is the type of book that begs to be discussed so I’ll have to hope that some of my friends/coworkers read it soon! Um, Kristin Cashore? I’d like another book now, please.

16 October 2009

Fanfare Friday: Trout Fishing in America

Infinity, Trout Fishing in America

Trout Fishing in America is a folk singing duo for kids. They’ve been nominated for multiple grammy awards (including one for this album!) and are very popular with listeners, both young and less young.

This album, first released in 2001, is full of catchy, fun songs for kids. I’m a particular fan of “Dinosaur in Your Bathtub.” It has all the things you’d expect from a great kids’ song, simple tune, easy to learn lyrics, and fun nonsense! I like to play this CD before storytime starts so I have something to dance around to. Seriously, try to listen to “My Best Day” without breaking into a spontaneous dance number.

This album combines several different musical styles to make a fun sound that kids will really enjoy. The song “Your Name Backwards” is something of a play along song and kids will have fun working out how to say their own name backwards. Mine’s Ykceb, I guess that’s prounounced Ekeb. Check out this great CD for lots of danceable, fun kids music! I couldn’t find a clip of a song from Infinity, but the band posted this news story on youtube and it’s definitely worth a watch. I want them to come to the library for a visit so badly now!

12 October 2009

The Wimpiest Day of 2009

Greg Heffley is the wimpiest (and most popular) kid around. The first three installments of his diary have all been best sellers and much sought after by boys and girls alike. Today the fourth book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, hits libraries and bookstores everywhere.

Greg’s middle school misadventures started as a web comic on FunBrain. You can still read the first three books worth of web comics on the site. This is the way that I was introduced to Greg Heffley. It’s fun to read the web comics and then read the books, because they are slightly different. For instance, in the web comics, there is more emphasis on Greg’s religion. His family is Catholic and he has several during Mass or at church hijinks that didn’t make it into the novels. Reading the web version could be a fun way to get more excited for the first book, just in case you aren’t first in line at the library or couldn’t get a copy at the bookstore yet.
I don’t understand the librarians who don’t LOVE this series. Sure the humor is, as my mother says, “sophomoric,” but who doesn’t love that?! Yeah, Greg is pretty self centered, and a little bit of a whiner. Sounds a lot like most middle school boys (AND girls) to me! I made my entire family read the first three books over the summer and my brother’s reaction was priceless. Disclaimer, he’s NOT a reader, but he read all three in one sitting and really enjoyed them. He came to find me when he was finished and said, “These are hysterical, but was that author peeking into my bedroom when I was in junior high?” Most guys I know have had the same reaction. Funny books, but a little too true to life.
Greg Heffley cracks me up. I guess “sophomoric” humor really works on me, as well as legions of kids. Even though he’s a boy and a lot of what he deals with is nothing like what I was going through in middle school, I can somehow relate to him. I also think there’s a certain level of relief, like, “Wow, that’s what the boys were thinking about then?! Really?! No wonder they seemed like they were from another planet.” It’s funny to think what my middle school girl friends and I talked about and what the boys (who were what we talked about) were actually thinking/doing. Maybe all middle school girls should have to read these books, like assigned school reading. “See, this is why these boys aren’t ready to be boyfriends. Stop having crushes and go do your homework. Let them marinate longer, they just aren’t ready yet.”
My copy of Dog Days is in the mail while Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rodrick Rules, and The Last Straw are all hanging out on my bookshelves, well loved and just waiting for their new friend. Also, my Greg Heffley stand up and bookmarks are at the library hyping up the kids for Greg’s summer adventures. I can’t wait to get Dog Days into the hands of all the waiting kids!

10 October 2009

In My Mailbox: #4

This was a happy week in my mailbox! I pre-ordered a few books back in August and all but one of them came out this week, so here’s what I got (and am loving) this week.

Ice, Sarah Beth Durst
Fire, Kristin Cashore
The best week is one when 3 of your previous Waiting on Wednesday books show up in the mailbox! Yay, no more waiting!  But…which one should I read first…hmmmm.
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme masterminded by The Story Siren. Stop by her blog to peek inside other book bloggers’ mailboxes!

09 October 2009

Fanfare Friday: My Name is Cheech the School Bus Driver

My Name is Cheech the School Bus Driver, Cheech Marin

Okay, so this CD came out in 1992, but I didn’t know about it until Grad School. My Materials for Youth professor brought it in to class and played it for us (yeah youth classes are the best). I was instantly hooked! Granted, based on my age Cheech Marin is more the funny guy who did the voice of Tito in Oliver and Company than anything else, but that’s alright.

This CD cracks me up because its another one with fun songs for the kids, and little aside jokes for the parents. I’m pretty sure my mom would have a different impression of Cheech the School Bus Driver having, “fun and games along the way and who knows? We may even get there today.”

I love the title song the most, but I also like Trading Lunches. Check out this fun CD if you’ve never heard it and, if you have, maybe this will bring back fun memories! Wanna hear more? Watch this clip of Cheech performing on the Xuxa Celebration show

08 October 2009

Book Review: Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, Jarrett J. Krosoczka
(Gr 3-5)

Summary from Amazon:
“Serving justice . . . and lunch!
Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Little do they know, Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes—she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for LUNCH LADY!”

I already love Jarrett J. Krosoczka. I love Punk Farm and his recent Three Kisses for Tomie site. Alright, so I have absolutely no idea how to say his name, and will probably never try, but I love him. Lunch Lady is a cute idea and I liked it. There were lots of cute jokes and I loved Lunch Lady’s secret cave full of cafeteria themed secret agent gadgets. The story is pretty simple, but fun. The best part is Lunch Lady’s scooter! Everyone should fight crime on a scooter…with a spatula.
I’m excited to read Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians, for obvious reasons. Any book with librarians in the title is alright with me. Overall, I like Lunch Lady and will be recommending these books to the kids at the library. I will also frequently be using his picture books as they are a big hit in storytime!

07 October 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Splendor

Waiting on Wednesday is masterminded by Breaking the Spine. Check out her blog for more upcoming releases that bloggers are waiting patiently for.

Coming 27 October 2009
Splendor, Anna Godbersen
Synopsis from Amazon:
“New beginnings.

Shocking revelations.

Unexpected endings.

A spring turns into summer, Elizabeth relishes her new role as a young wife, while her sister, Diana, searches for adventure abroad. But when a surprising clue about their father’s death comes to light, the Holland girls wonder at what cost a life of splendor comes.

Carolina Broad, society’s newest darling, fans a flame from her past, oblivious to how it might burn her future. Penelope Schoonmaker is finally Manhattan royalty—but when a real prince visits the city, she covets a title that comes with a crown. Her husband, Henry, bravely went to war, only to discover that his father’s rule extends well beyond New York’s shores and that fighting for love may prove a losing battle.

In the dramatic conclusion to the bestselling Luxe series, New York’s most dazzling socialites chase dreams, cling to promises, and tempt fate. As society watches what will become of the city’s oldest families and newest fortunes, one question remains: Will its stars fade away or will they shine ever brighter?”

I originally picked up The Luxe, the first title in this four book series because of the oh so pretty cover. This series is crazy adicting and lots of fun. I am ridiculously excited to read the final book in the series! If you’ve never read any of them, you should.

06 October 2009

Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner, James Dashner
(Gr 7+)

Released into the wild: TODAY!
ARC sent to Library and I called DIBS! Will now pass it around to interested co-workers

Thomas doesn’t know who he is, or where he is. He wakes up in a box knowing only his own name. The box delivers him to the Glade, a place full of boys who all remember nothing about themselves, but their names. These boys don’t know why they’re there or who sent them. They do know that the only way to escape is to solve the massive Maze surrounding their Glade. Every day runners enter the Maze and try to map its ever changing passages and every night they return to the safety of the Glade to escape the monsters who come out after dark. Thomas is the newest boy to enter this world and he feels like he’s been there before, like something is calling him into the Maze, like he’s the one who can solve it.

James Dashner, also the author of the 13th Reality series, has written a story stuffed full of questions. Within the first few pages of the novel, Thomas’ and the reader’s heads will be swimming with all the things they don’t know and all the things they think they know. Dashner sets up a believable society, run by teenage boys. Like the boys of Lord of the Flies, they have their own form of government and elected leaders. Unlike Lord of the Flies, the order of the Glade actually holds. All tasks are divided up and assigned. Every boy has a job and every boy does his job. Thomas wants to be a runner, one of the explorers who venture out into the maze every day. Even on his first night in the Glade, Thomas feels strongly that this is something he is meant to do.

The characters of this story are incredibly interesting. Some boys are strong leaders and others are just lowly cleaners who want nothing more than to go home, even though they can’t remember it. My personal favorites (aside from Thomas) were Newt, the second in command and Minho, the keeper (manager/boss) of the runners. Both boys thought for themselves and had strong personalities. It was interesting to see the various ways Gladers responded to problems as well as catastrophes.

I already compared this novel to Lord of the Flies, but it also reminded me of The Hunger Games which is always good. I got the sense, from the beginning, that there was something deeper going on behind the Maze. Why were the boys there, if not so someone could watch them? This was further reinforced by the presence of electronic bugs that the boys say are how the Creators watch them.

The Maze Runner is the first of a trilogy; so of course, most of my questions went unanswered. If anything I ended the book with more then I started with! I was completely involved in this story from start to finish and enjoyed it very much. I highly recommend that anyone in the mood for an exciting story go out and get a copy of The Maze Runner.

Released into the Wild: Leviathan

Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld
(Gr 7+)

It’s time to decide. Are you a Clanker or a Darwinist? Not sure, then you need to check out Scott Westerfeld’s new book Levithan. It comes out today, so don’t wait, rush out right now and get a copy.

Want to know more? Check out my review. Hope you love it as much as I did!

05 October 2009

Released into the Wild: Fire

Fire, Kristin Cashore
 Hitting bookstores and libraries today!

Synopsis from Fantastic Fiction:
“She is the last of her kind…

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.”

Want to know more? You can read the first chapter here. Trust me, it will just make you want to read it more!

 I ordered my copy way back in August. Are you running out to get one today?

03 October 2009

Series Review: Avalon High Coronation

Avalon High Coronation: Volume 1 The Merlin Prophecy, Meg Cabot
(Gr 7-10)

Ellie has it all; the grades, the friends, and the boyfriend. Sure, she just might be the reincarnation of The Lady of the Lake and her boyfriend, Will, probably isn’t just a normal teenage quarterback, but actually King Arthur, but there are more important things on her plate right now. Things like being nominated for Homecoming Queen, or reconciling her boyfriend and his parents, or finally dealing with the fact that a few months earlier Will’s brother, Marco, tried to kill him.

This series is interesting because it actually starts with a book and then becomes a graphic novel. Avalon High introduces Ellie, Will, and the rest of the reincarnated bunch and then their stories continue in Manga form in Avalon High: Coronation. You can read the graphic novels without reading the novel first, but I think you’ll get less out of them.

 Coronation has the requisite super busty high school girls whose hair flows in that way that makes me think, “I wish I had Manga hair.” Aside from the super chesty leading ladies, this graphic novel series is pretty tame. Yes, Will is living with Ellie, but in a super platonic way. They have some kisses and he rushes into her room to save her from nightmares, but that’s it. This is a graphic novel that is definitely appropriate for junior high readers.

This is an interesting way to get teens interested in Arthurian legend. The story is a mix of high school teen drama and supernatural legend reincarnation fantasy. It should be a show on the CW! Just kidding, maybe. This is a cute series, which, in true Meg Cabot fashion, has a female protagonist who is very much her own person.

Avalon High: Coronation Volume 2 Homecoming, Meg Cabot
(Gr 7-10)

Ellie’s problems seem to just get bigger and bigger. Marco/Mordred is out of the mental institution and he may or may not be better. Morgan, obviously Morgan Le Fey, but not actually stated yet, hates Ellie and wants to force her out of the running for Homecoming Queen. What’s a girl to do when she might be the reincarnation of The Lady of the Lake and the fate of the world rests on her ability to convince her teenage boyfriend that he really is King Arthur?

The cover of this one is a little touch ridiculous. Ellie’s dress is pretty much ripped to shreds and Morgan looks like Jessica Rabbit. The story continues exactly where Volume 1 left off, with Ellie unexpectedly running into Marco. Marco seems to have made amends, but the shrewd reader/just about anyone can see that he’s still his evil old self.

Not too much happens in this installment, even though its longer then the first volume. A dinner with Will’s parents is quick and resolves nothing, Morgan threatens to tell Will that Ellie is cheating on him with Marco (she’s not, duh), and Jennifer/Guinevere is determined to find Ellie the perfect homecoming dress. Oh yeah, and Ellie still has to convince Will that he is actually King Arthur BEFORE the night of homecoming or…the world will end.  That world, always trying to end. Yeesh.

Volume 3 Hunter’s Moon came out September 1st and I’m waiting patiently for my hold to pop up at the library. Yes, I’m going to read it. I actually do like this series, although it may seem like I don’t. I find them to be just what I want them to be; quick, ridiculous, girly fluff. Ahhh…these go down like a big cup of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and pink sprinkles. Want to read an excerpt from the first volume? Check out Meg Cabot’s website!

02 October 2009

Fanfare Friday: B is for Bob

B is for Bob, Bob Marley
Ahhh, Bob Marley. Mellow songs for grown ups and kids. This CD has his classic songs, re-worked for kids. Ziggy Marley decided that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy his dad’s music, even preschoolers!
I especially love Three Little Birds and Stir it Up. This definitely doesn’t sound like a kid’s CD, but it’s appropriate for little ones and, obviously, grown ups will love it too! It’s a little like classic Raffi because the vocals are the strongest part of the songs. This CD will be great in the car and for calming down before naptime. Want to feel mellow right now? Check out this cartoon music video for my favorite song on the album, Three Little Birds. It’s so sweet! Mostly the manatees! =)

01 October 2009

Harry Potter Reading Challenge: October Update

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling
(all ages)

Harry Potter is just about to start his second year at Hogwarts when a house elf named Dobby suddenly appears in his bedroom. Dobby doesn’t want Harry to return to Hogwarts. He thinks Harry’s life is in danger, but Harry can’t stay on Privet Drive. His real life is in the Wizarding world. What dangers lie inside the hidden Chamber of Secrets and who is the heir of Slytherin? Harry’s got his work cut out for him in his second adventure.

I have always thought this book was the weakest in the series. I know the first time I read it, I liked it very much, but later, when I compared it to the rest of the books, I felt that it was too much like Sorcerer’s Stone. This time around I found new things in this book that made me change my opinion of it.

I still feel that this book and Sorcerer’s Stone form a kind of pairing within the series. They are the two decidedly middle grade titles in the series. Both of these books could be read by the youngest wizard enthusiast without scaring them too much or delving into topics they might not understand. Thinking back on it, there’s a reason I felt this was the weakest book. The series was growing up and so was I. This is they type of series that’s designed to be read year to year. I’m not sure how kids feel about it now (I mean obviously they still love it), but I know that the books for me were better because I had to wait in between each one. I grew up with these books, and loved them.

I decided to start listening to the audiobooks for this one (and I’ll continue to for all the rest) to keep myself from being able to read too fast or skim. I think this gave me a whole new level of enjoyment! Jim Dale really is a wonderful reader! I got so engrossed in the story that I almost didn’t mind my hour communte. Now I get a little frustrated that I can only listen to these in fifteen minute chunks. Not enough to move back, but you get the idea.

I’ve mentioned the Harry Potter Exhibit before, but now seemed like an appropriate time to show a picture from it. The only thing you’re allowed to take pictures of is the Ford Anglia from Chamber of Secrets that Harry and Ron flew to Hogwarts after they were unable to get on to Platform 9 3/4.

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