Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Favorites

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. Bill Bryson is always a treat, but he’s gotten better with age. Now he detests stupid people more than he used to, and it comes across in his writing. His informative prose is very well-written, but the glimpses into his thought process are more hilarious than ever.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. A middle grade graphic novel about 12-year-old Astrid who finds a new hobby in roller derby. She expects her best friend to come along with her, since they’ve always done everything together, but instead they are growing apart. Loved this book, and can’t wait to read more by Jamieson.

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. Very emotional, dark young adult book, but not overwhelmingly dark. There is just enough hope and brightness to balance the book perfectly - not too depressing, not too overly perky. Carey has been living in a camper in the woods for year, taking care of her little sister while their mom leaves them alone for weeks at a time. When Carey and her sister are rescued, they have to fit in to a normal society they’re not familiar with.

Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud. I really loved the concept of this young adult book. The jacket blurb didn’t really explain much so I wasn’t sure what the story was about, but I started it and loved the writing so I kept going and was SO thrilled with the subject matter and how it was written. LOVE. Highly recommend. Can’t wait for more from this author.

The Single Feather by Ruth F. Hunt. Rachel is a thirty year old woman who uses a wheelchair, and after escaping from a heavily-guarded home, she lives independently in a new town in England. To try and get her old life back, she joins a local art group and makes friends with some of the locals. The story is really compelling, and I was very drawn in to find out what happened in Rachel’s past as her disability was caused by an accident, and she doesn’t reveal much about the home she escaped from. The ebook I read had a lot of punctuation errors, especially with quotation marks, which occasionally took me out of the story, but overall it’s a great book.

A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel. I started this book as an audiobook, and it was wonderfully read - I highly recommend it to those who have time to listen to audiobooks! My 2-year-old doesn’t give me much of a chance to listen peacefully, so after trying for a month I checked out the hardback so I could finish it - which I did in less than a day! I loved Pack of Dorks but I think I might have loved this one more… Alice has albinism so she is practically blind. When her family moves from her familiar Seattle to a new town called Sinkville (but it stinks from the paper mill, so it’s totally Stinkville), she has to try and be independent. Alice has always relied on a friend to help her get around, but now she has to make new friends and fit in, which is hard when you have albinism. Alice is a great character with a great voice, and the book is so realistic I’m still wondering how the characters are doing! Highly recommended.

Demon Dentist by David Walliams. I love David Walliams in Little Britain so I was excited to find out he has written loads of books (that’s me, late to the game as usual). I’m just happy that I’ve started reading his books, because this one was great! A strange new dentist moves to town, one who gives kids candy and makes her own toothpaste that burns through concrete. She's got to be up to something, right? Alfie is determined to uncover the tooth truth (sorry, couldn't resist!). Walliams cites Roald Dahl as his literary influence and I definitely see that, but in a good way, not a cheap imitation way. Can’t wait to read more of his, which I plan to buy since my library system only has two titles.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lucky Four Leaf Clovers!

Today a class from SRVS came to the library wearing green (I checked, pinching fingers poised!) to hear some St. Patrick's Day stories and make a craft.

I hate to say it, but I had a tough time finding decent books for this program. I thought there would be a lot of fun books about St. Patrick's Day, leprechauns, rainbows, and luck, but I didn't find much. I checked out about a dozen library books, but none of them stuck out to me as being fantastic to share. The two I ended up picking were, in my opinion, the best of the selection I had access to, but the audience didn't seem to care about the stories too much.

Luckily (see what I did there?), we had a fun craft planned! We made four leaf clovers by folding strips of green paper! This project would typically call for glue sticks, but the paper I had was more of a yardstick, so we had to use clear tape to make sure everything held together without popping loose.

After we folded and taped, we strung the clover onto necklaces so we could wear luck all day long. Some people even made extra clovers to take back to the learning center and spread the luck around!

I've also written about previous library programs for adults with disabilities.

Monday, March 14, 2016


I just wrote a curriculum of STEM programs for a rural library to hold for special education high school students. I was initially intimidated by the concept because I am a liberal arts major, a creative writing fellow, a librarian for the love of books. Thankfully I found tons of research and ideas for STEM programs online, especially on the YALSA wiki. The program ideas I came up with on my own, on the other hand, seemed more…artsy. Given my background, that’s not a huge surprise, but I felt defeated when I’d come up with what I thought was a great idea just to realize it’s too artsy.
See the whole "debate" at YALSAblog.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February Favorites

I read eighteen books this month - how did I find the time? I was so busy with schoolwork, my student association duties, and writing STEM programs for a rural library (more about that later). I'm only highlighting six of them, but you can find all my reviews on Goodreads. I'm thinking of doing an annual "Duds" post of books I read and then hated myself for reading, or books I started and couldn't finish. But let's not think about that type of book - let's focus on the great ones!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I’m not a big poetry fan, but I LOVE verse novels. Woodson’s story of her childhood is so beautiful, with exquisite imagery and emotion. I think this is the first book I’ve ever read by her, but now I’m eager to read more. I highly recommend this book.

George by Alex Gino. This book tackles an interesting, contemporary issue, and it does so in a way that pretty much every age level can understand, which I really appreciate. As someone who was born female and identifies as female, I wish there were prequels and sequels to this book, because I am very curious to know how and when George realized she was a girl, not a boy, and I really want to see how things progress in her life. I think this is a great subject for younger books to be written about, and look forward to more in general, and from this particular author.

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova. Middle grade graphic novel about a girl who is nervous about attending a new school, and fails to follow the rules she made for herself to fit in. Peppi joins the art club but can’t bring herself to speak up and share her ideas, and can’t bring herself to apologize to the boy she hurt on the first day. I love middle grade fiction, and when it's also in graphic novel form, it's so fun to read! You really get sucked into the story with the illustrations.

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson. Joshilyn Jackson is one of my favorite authors, and her books keep getting better and better. Paula is a divorce lawyer who has had countless identities in the past, thanks to her mom, who lived wherever she could find a boyfriend. Paula has been sending her mother money every month to “make good” on something that happened in the past - and that’s been all the contact she’s had with her mother. When she finally gets something from her mother, it’s not what she expected, and she has to deal with her past catching up to her rich (literally) present.

The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier. Robert Cormier was writing dark YA fiction before it was mainstream, and his last book doesn’t disappoint. Jason is twelve years old when he’s questioned in the murder of his seven-year-old friend. Most of the story is in the suspense between the interrogator and Jason, but the ending has an excellent twist, then another twist, then a knife to the gut. Amazing!

Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson. A collection of short stories about a school shooting, told in 17 different points of view by 17 different YA authors. A few of the stories fell flat, but most were amazing and interesting and emotional. Makes me want to re-read Columbine by Dave Cullen. This book has been popping in to my mind randomly since I read it, so I think that makes it a powerful read. I could see myself re-reading this one in a year or two.