Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Leaping Librarian on Holiday Part 1

Greetings from Barcelona! 
I have been saving to take my daughter on a trip to Europe (originally it was just Paris) since I read an article in our local paper when she was 4 years old. Now she is 12 and we made it! 

We arrived yesterday and put in a full day. We are staying at Hotel Praktik Bakery. Yes! That means there is a full fledged bakery when you walk in! We tried it for lunch and it was quite yummy! Here I am:

To push through our jet lag, we took the hop on hop off tour bus which we didn't really just stayed out on. It was a great way to see the WHOLE city and learn some interesting facts, too. I had out the route map, circled where we want to explore more and even jotted down some notes. I found out the Barcelona Futbol Club was founded in 1899 and the stadium can hold 100,000 people. There are more than 100km cycle lanes here and more mopeds are registered here per capita than any other city in Europe. You see them everywhere! It's really cool to see the women ride them!  We need to  get to the Jardins because all the gardens are names after poets who wrote in Catalan. 

Speaking of poets, we got off the bus a little and explored the Barri Gotic neighborhood and stopped by the Museu de la Xocolata. Delish! Your entry ticket is a dark chocolate bar! Too bad we can't bring home any souvenirs from there. 

And why did I say, "Speaking of poets?" because I'm crazy and bought an extra copy of "The Crossover" with me and will be posing with it throughout. Here I am with it in front of a chocolate Louis Armstrong: 
Not only am I a leaping librarian, but I am crazy, too! 

We saw some great views of the city from our bus:

Tari has a real camera with a great eye for photography and is taking much better pictures than these with people's feet and heads in the way! 

Later, on real Barcelona dinner time at 10:30, we enjoyed a delicious meal of tapas here, recommended my cousin, Josh, who lives in Barcelona. We can't wait to see him tomorrow! 

Stay tuned for more leaps today! 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Circus Mirandus-Book Group #1

Meeting of the Minds at Panera!

This is how I know I love my job so much.  It's late afternoon in early July.  I am sitting in Panera waiting for seven rising 5th and 6th graders to show up and join me for some cookies and snacks and I am excited!  Wow! These kids were great! We squeezed into a booth and just talked about Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley for 45 minutes!

We discussed our questions, the genre, the theme, the settings, the plot, the characters, everything! And they were so excited to talk about it!  I really didn't have to bring them back on course at all! 

Here are some of their thoughts:
"The theme is courage because Micah was not afraid to stand up to Aunt Gertrudis and he still went into Circus Mirandus even when he didn't have a ticket."
"I'm like Micah because he always stood up for his beliefs."
"My favorite part was when Micah crossed the hole.  My favorite character was the Lightbender.  I like Jenny Mendoza because like her, I would have to see it to believe it."
"Thumbs Up!"
"I liked that it was about magic and fantasy.  I rate it a 4 1/2 [out of 5].  I liked that it started out with a normal life and then the story explained about Circus Mirandus."
"I like Chintzy because she has a lot of attitude."


"4 [out of 5].  I think that they should have mentioned more about Jenny.  I also think  ***SPOILER ALERT**** the grandpa should have stayed alive.  I liked how Grandpa Ephraim thought about Micah instead of himself."

There you go! From the mouths of students they all give it a THUMBS UP!

And of course, we LEAPT!



 A great time was had by all.  Happy reading folks! 

The next book group (Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman) 
will be held at the Castleton Public Library on Wednesday, July 15 at 4:30.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Circus Mirandus

Circus Mirandus

By Cassie Beasley

Can you believe this banner?  I want it for my library!!!!

Cassie wasn't at ALA but they gave away signed books and animal crackers! #Awesome

This book is another fabulous one in the magical realism genre.  If you liked Natalie Lloyd's Snicker of Magic last year you will love this!  When Micah Tuttle's grandfather, Ephraim, was younger he was in the magical Circus Mirandus.  The kind of circus we would all love to go to!  Now Ephraim is not well and he is asking to use his saved miracle from the past that he got from the "Lightbender." Micah, with the help of his friend, Jenny find the Circus Mirandus, the Lightbender and Mr. Head to try and get Ephraim's miracle and save him.  Wow.  Talk about magical.  It reminded me, too, of Megan Frazer Blakemore's delightful 2013 MG novel, The Water CastleCircus Mirandus is beautifully written with fabulous quotes you will hold on to for a long time.  I imagine that kids who like realistic fiction and/or fantasy are going to love it.

 Here are just a few of my favorite quotes. There are many more scattered throughout:

"It's important when you see magic, to recognize it." (p.34)

"Just because a magic is small doesn't mean it is unimportant…
Even the smallest magics can grow." (p.120)

"…when you try too hard to hold on to something, you break it…
Sometimes we need to let go so that other people can have their chance at the magic." (p.221)

Tomorrow I have a book group meeting at Panera to talk about the book!  I can't wait to hear what the kids thought!

VERY brief book reviews...

CRENSHAW by Katherine Applegate

I read Katherine Applegate's (The One and Only Ivan) newest book, Crenshaw, on the plane to ALA.  I'm surprised no one looked at me as a fool as I cried and had to search for my crumpled tissues at the bottom of my bag.  I got the book from NetGalley on my birthday but didn't have the chance to read it until then.  It's a beautiful story about a boy named Jackson and his oversized imaginary cat friend, Crenshaw.  Jackson's parents are not as financially stable as they used to be and together they are learning to deal with these hard times.  There are great connections to the Caldecott winner, Beekle by Dan Santat and award winning team of Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo with this year's Yard Sale. I can't wait to share it with students!  It comes out in print on September 22.  I'm sorry we all have to wait that long!

SUNNY SIDE UP by Jenni and Matt Holm 

This book took me right back to the mid-late 70s when I was going to Florida every April vacation with my father.  We got the early bird specials with my grandparents, ate the ambrosia at the buffet, took Eastern Airlines, and drank Tab.  But this book is not all about 70s Florida.  It's about family, friends, comics and superheroes and dealing with family secrets.  Once you start you won't want to put it down.  Matt's detailed illustrations with Jenni's text, make it a perfect combination on any kind of day in any season. Comes out August 25, 2015.

George by Alex Gino


4th grader, George, feels he's a girl on the inside.  Read George's story of her struggle of wanting to play the role of Charlotte in the school play, her friendship with her best friend, Kelly and her relationship with her Mom and older brother.  This book goes places that no other books have gone before in the MG category. We all know kids who might be like George.  Just the other night there was a Frontline episode about transgender kids like George.  (Growing Up Trans ) This book will speak to them.  As librarians we will have to be bold to put it on our shelves.  I hope I am.

ALA Post Blog #2--There's a 6 minute video involved! #alaac15

It has been on my list now for a week to blog about my experiences at ALA.  I'm not sure why I keep putting it off.  Maybe because if I actually reflect upon the experience, it means that it is actually a thing of the past and yet I want to hold on to the memories and feelings for a long time.

So far, I am.  I look at things differently ("Those glasses remind me of Jenni Holm's!").  I notice things from an ALA perspective.  Like when I should be glancing through 100's of pictures of kids at sleep away camp searching for the ones of my own children, I see other things, too ("See that random girl in that camp picture?  See what book she's reading? No?  Well, look more closely because I am noticing that she is reading El Deafo!") and I'm still thinking all about the magic of Kwame.  How lucky we were to connect last summer over Twitter when I first read The Crossover.  How even luckier I was to share the book with students in the fall.  How even luckier we were to Skype with him in January and luckiest to be at ALA to cheer him on and watch him gain 20,000 more followers.

And it all began at the airport:

I should have left that pillow at home.  Yes, I packed a lot.  See my previous blog post. 
Note that I think those of us from NY were the ONLY ones there who actually worked and went to school the day we left for San Francisco.  People couldn't believe it when I said, "My student gave me this lovely bag YESTERDAY!"

I decided to create an Animoto on my experience.  I was there to celebrate Kwame, so there are a lot of pictures of him.  It looks like all I did was pose with authors and illustrators.  I learned a lot.  I networked.  Just being there, I soaked it all in.  And I know as these weeks go by this summer, I will remember more and just think how lucky I was to be there.  Thanks to Kwame for giving me the nudge--He even THANKED all of us (Susan, Mary Ann, his friends at the table I was at) in his speech! We are the leaders of the KAFC*!

Here's the Animoto...

*Kwame Alexander Fan Club

Ok...This is now finished...I can move on and think about 2016.  I can review books (Sunny Side Up, Crenshaw, George, Circus Mirandus...I've read them all believe it or not.)  I am moving on but not forgetting...

Friday, July 3, 2015

I'm Baaaaaack!!!!! Part 1--Top 10 thoughts about attending a huge conference

I got home from ALA Tuesday night, spent the whole day Wednesday in the city, tried to pull myself together yesterday and here we are today.  I know that these posts about the conference will trickle in because I just can't say it all in one post.  Today will be my Top 15 words of wisdom about attending ALA (or really any other huge 20,000 participant conference!)

  1. Business Cards--Yes, it's good to bring them.  Yes, it's nice that mine were bright red.  But no, I did not need 500 of them at all.  I was getting into the habit of handing them out and then saying, "Please take one and then recycle it if you like."  Don't be shy--do hand them out but I'm not sure how many people I really expected to meet.  I thought my Twitter followers would increase exponentially.  Hmmmm....not.  I did make some new friends (yes, that's you, Carole) and having my card certainly came in handy there.
  2. Businees Cards part 2--When YOU get a business card, write down something to remind you of the person who gave it to you.  That way, when you get home, you know who they are.  I am finding myself making those notes now, which is a bit challenging.
  3. Wear funky clothes and you will get noticed!  Unless you don't want to, then wear clothes that will blend in.
  4. Don't be shy.  Just start talking to everyone.  Look down and see where they are from on their name tags.  I found myself almost wanting to ask someone at the store today where they were from and asking what kind of librarian they were,  thinking I was still at ALA.  Ha!  I caught myself before I embarrassed myself!
  5. Pack a box, packing tape and scissors, if you think you will be mailing things home.  I actually packed an extra duffle bag and brought two suitcases. I filled everything up and didn't have to pay for shipping or anything.  Take Southwest--2 bags fly with you for free.
  6. Plan on no sleep, really and truly.  You get in after midnight and then have to get up at 6 the next morning.  
  7. Unless you are a super dedicated runner, you won't work out.  I packed outfits to work out three times and I didn't run once.  Good luck to me tomorrow in a 4 mile race.
  8. Plan only the author signings that you really want and go to the exhibit hall then.  The rest of them will fall into your lap if you are around.  And, if you see a book that you've been eyeing from blogs and early reviews, ask the publisher and they may give you a book before it's even the signing time.
  9. If someone says, "Come to this party/event/etc"  GO.  You never know what you will find and who you will meet.  Saturday night my friend, Susan, took my under her wing and we ended up at four events/parties and it was truly a fun and memorable evening.  
  10. Everyone looks "geeky" carrying those bags so it's all good.
  11. Know that you will be using multiple means of transportation to get everywhere.  (See #9) I used Uber for the first time, traveled in lots of cabs, walked and used the shuttle, too.
  12. Bring your own water bottle, granola bars, snacks.  I brought some of those squeeze apple sauces from Trader Joes and they were perfect for a quick sugar rush.   
  13. If you make a couple of friends, you're golden.  (See #2--don't forget to get your new friend's card and write a note on it to remember who they are).
  14. Room in your suitcase is premium.  Check the weather.  I really didn't need to bring an umbrella to California.
  15. Clear out your iPhone space--You need to be able to take pictures immediatley.  OR bring a back up camera.  And if someone else takes a picture of you with their phone/camera have them text it to you right away or get their card and (See #2).
  16. And just HAVE FUN!