Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Gift-Buying Guide

Seems like this time of year everyone has a “Best of” list or a gift-buying guide, so I figured why shouldn’t I have one as well?

2011 Releases, in no particular order:
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen Good for: children who froth at the mouth when the alligator eats the monkeys during “Five Little Monkeys Swingin’ in the Tree”, meme lovers (this book has spawned a ton of imitators, check it out), Charley Harper fans.

Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton Good for: history nerds, literature nerds, middle and high schoolers who hate their history class, fans of Drunk History on funny or die.

Star Trek Book of Opposites by David Borgenicht. Good for: nerds with babies, nerds. Did I mention nerds? People who have trouble with opposites.

Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein Good for: Poetry lovers, children, Johnny Cash fans (you can check and see if they know that Shel wrote “A Boy Named Sue” and was actually quite a formidable musician in his own right (write? right)).

Press Here by Herve Tullet. Good for: anyone with a soul and a sense of wonder.

The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay. Good for: music geeks. Every time they read the book, they can play a different piece of music and totally change their experience.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Good for: Ironic fans of America’s Next Top Model, Toddlers and Tiaras, pretty much any reality show ever, crazysauce yet brave writing.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Good for: Romance fans, Francophiles, movie buffs.

Backlist Beauties, again in no particular order:
Boxed set of the Time Quartet by Madeline L’Engle. Good for: children who like speculative fiction, adults who like speculative fiction, those who like a faith message in their fiction, anyone who loves tall, gangly gingers (*raises hand*).

Anything by Russell Hoban. Good for: speculative fiction fans (Ridley Walker), children who sing to themselves (the Frances books), children and adults who are precociously philosophical (A Mouse and His Child).

Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Good for: people who give gifts out of their own selfish motivations rather than in the spirit of the season. You give this book to Twilight fans hoping to destroy their devotion to Mary Sue--I mean, Bella.

The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston. Good for: women and girls who feel like they’re never good or pretty enough, fans of Harold and Maude and Being There.

Suggested to me by my good friends on Twitter. I can’t personally recommend these, but I trust my Twitter pals:

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Recommended by:!/pnkrcklibrarian/status/145536086934949888

Aesop's Fables: A Pop-Up Book of Classic Tales by Kees Moerbeek, Bruce Whatley (Illustrator), Chris Beatrice (Illustrator)!/klmpeace/status/145591291500167168 (Kim also recommended Every Thing On It)

Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey
Recommended by:!/AbelUndercity/status/145517073093771264

Serious Men: A Novel by Manu Joseph
Recommended by:!/lizzieskurnick/status/145517852986834945

A Ship for The King by Richard Woodman
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Recommended by:!/kdnorthrup/status/145529889070657536,!/kdnorthrup/status/145529417022701570

You can find more information about all of these books via the Goodreads list I put together. Please try and support independent booksellers for your holiday gift giving, and you can always go to your local library to try before you buy. Happy holidays everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011


I’m not big on holidays. When I was growing up my family didn’t make a big deal out of celebrating, an attitude which I’ve continued as an adult. I certainly don’t humbug anyone else’s celebrations, but for myself, holidays are mostly days where I don’t have to be at work and can gleefully spend binge reading novels or watching a marathon of favorite television shows.

Holidays are also a time when I indulge my favorite pastime, Thinking Too Much About Things. Right now I’m sure every library has a display of Thanksgiving books out, and I can’t help but cringe when I think about how many of those books--especially ones for children--are full of blatant misrepresentations of the “first” Thanksgiving and Native American peoples.

The Oyate website, which I learned about in library school as a multicultural resource, lists recommended books on the topic of Thanksgiving. This list, unless I am missing something, lists six books. Six.

How many Thanksgiving books do you currently have on display? Sixty? One hundred and sixty? Are any of them the books recommended by Oyate as being the “...most culturally appropriate and historically accurate books” available? (The blog American Indians in Children’s Literature is also an excellent resource on this topic). And how many of the books in your collection are on Oyate’s list of books to avoid?

It’s our job as librarians to provide the best information for our users, using a variety of tools and skills to make these judgments. There’s no one out there, I think, willing to cull their collection so drastically to leave only six books on such a popular topic...but maybe we should be. Maybe we should just buy multiple copies of books that we know to be accurate and appropriate. Perhaps then more books that adhere to those standards would be published.

This might be why I don’t get too deeply involved in holidays. Eventually I end up in a morass of conflicting thoughts and feelings, wondering what the right way to celebrate is, what the right thing to do is. The curse of Thinking Too Much About Things.

Here’s the full list of books recommended by Oyate. You’ll notice that many of them have publication dates from the mid nineties, with the most current one being 2001.

Recommended Books about Thanksgiving
Bruchac, Margaret M. (Abenaki), and Catherine Grace O'Neill, 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2001, grades 4-up
Hunter, Sally M. (Ojibwe), Four Seasons of Corn: A Winnebago Tradition. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1997, grades 4-6.
Peters, Russell M. (Wampanoag), Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1992, grades 4-6.
Regguinti, Gordon (Ojibwe), The Sacred Harvest: Ojibway Wild Rice Gathering. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1992, grades 4-6.
Seale, Doris (Santee/Cree), Beverly Slapin, and Carolyn Silverman (Cherokee), eds., Thanksgiving: A Native Perspective. Berkeley: Oyate, 1998, teacher resource.
Swamp, Jake (Mohawk), Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message. New York: Lee & Low, 1995, all grades.
Wittstock, Laura Waterman (Seneca), Ininatig's Gift of Sugar: Traditional Native Sugarmaking. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1993, grades 4-6

On a cheerier note, I did ask my twitter librarian friends what they were thankful for this year. A lot of them were thankful for their jobs...period; others were thankful that their jobs are so challenging in many ways; others were thankful for great coworkers and wonderful patrons.

This year I’m thankful for all of those things. I’m thankful I’ve found different, enriching ways to develop as an information professional (including writing for this blog), and I’m thankful that I have a job that I enjoy and am good at, and I am thankful that librarians everywhere continue to fight the good fight for what they believe in.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Cybil Awards; or,"if you liked it then you should have put a medal on it."

Getting an award is a major achievement for any artist, and often provides a bump in prestige and notoriety than can make careers or break them. Awards are mostly joyous occasions (with some notable exceptions) that honor hard work and The American Library Association gives several awards every year, two of the most well known being the Newbery and the Caldecott, and of course there’s the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Prize, and my personal favorite, the Cybils awards.

So what are the Cybils? The cybils are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ book awards. If you’re not aware of/into the kidlit book blogging community, you’re missing some excellent reviews, discussions, interviews, and other invaluable resources, all written by extremely passionate and informed writers. I asked Anne Levy, the “Cybils Overlord” as she is known, why the book blogging community felt the need to start their own award and how they made it happen:

“The Cybils Awards began with a stray comment left on a book blog in 2006. The blogger complained the [now defunct] Quills were little more than a popularity contest, while her commenters moaned the ALA awards had gotten too snooty. So I chimed in saying if we’re all so smart, how come we don’t have our own awards? It didn’t take long for the comments, emails and blog posts to start flowing. Within days, we had a name , a blog, 80 volunteers and a mission to strike a middle ground, picking the books we found both literary and kid-friendly.’

“Now in our sixth season, Cybils boasts nearly 120 volunteers – all children’s and YA book bloggers – and just added an 11th genre, book apps. The contest spans from cradle to college, with books for tots and teens and everyone in between. Our schedule is roughly the same every year: nominations run Oct. 1st through 15th, with short lists posted on New Year’s Day and the winners announced on Valentine’s Day.”

I got involved with the Cybils last year, after they put a call out for judges in the easy reader/early chapter book category. I have to admit, it was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. I got to read a whole lot of books that I might not have picked up otherwise, and I was forced to put on my critical thinking hat while I was reading, which is something I don’t always think to do. This year I am a second round judge for YA Fantasy and Science Fiction, which I’m extremely excited about. Speculative fiction is my first love, and its an honor to be a part of the second round judging for such a popular and coveted category.

I think the Cybils awards are a unique addition to the award landscape. Beginning with the nomination process, the Cybils get people talking about and reviewing books for roughly five months, which is great for authors and publishers alike. The panelists and judges also get the chance to read widely and critically, which will make for better reviewers and reader’s advisors in the long run. And throughout the process, the teams of judges have deep, rich discussions about the books (and now book apps) that they are judging, which allows kidlit enthusiasts to meet new people and forge new relationships and partnerships.

So this fall and winter, keep an eye on the Cybils site. You’ll see reviews and updates periodically, and who knows--you might just discover your new favorite book in the process!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


After reading a truly wonderful (or truly awful) book, my first impulse is “I must talk to someone about this!” Then, I probably also need suggestions about what my next read should be. I do this in various ways--talking to coworkers, reading journals, and I subscribe to over twenty kid/ya lit blogs with my read feeder.

When I need nearly instant gratification, however, I use twitter. Twitter is one of my favorite networking and social tools. It’s a great way to connect with people outside of your own institution without having to worry about the travel budget or time away. I have my favorite folks on there, but I also thought I’d see who other people liked:

View "Connections!" on Storify

As you can see, it connected me with some authors and readers I hadn’t connected with before, which is always a lot of fun.

As much as I love using twitter, facebook, and google+, however, I still crave old fashioned face to face time with people, which is why I borrowed a page from Elizabeth Bird’s book and started (with encouragement from Michelle Bayuk and James Kennedy) a Chicagoland Area Kidlit Drink night. As I am writing this, our first outing is still in the future-uture-uture (that was a space/time echo if you weren’t sure), but I am hoping it will be a rousing success. I used a facebook group and my twitter to spread the word, but ultimately the goal is to get everyone in a room and have some great conversations about books, readers, and reading. (I’ll probably be posting a recap, so don’t you fret if you’re desperately curious about how it will go/how it went.)

What about you? After reading a great book, how do you connect with other people? Do you have a book club? A book review blog? Do you gush or rant on twitter or facebook? Let me know!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Favorite books this year (so far)

I’m terrible with summaries, so click through for synopses done by better people than I.

Young Adult
Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson. Beautiful, elegant speculative fiction, with a bit of mystery thrown in for good measure. You can read a detailed review on my blog here.
Chime by Frannie Billingsley. An original fairy-tale with a gothic flair. bonus factors: slow burning romance, a dark family secret, and fairy-folk. For fans of Victoria Holt, Jane Eyre, and swooning.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. There’s a character who spends the entire book with a tray stuck through her head. What else do you need to know? For fans of crazysauce.
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston. Woolston’s first novel, a Morris award winner, is tender, funny, and insightful. suitable for fans of John Green’s absorbing and deeply intelligent novels. I’ll be writing a more in-depth exploration of this title soon, but for now be content to know that I highly recommend it.

Middle Grade
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier. I wrote a little bit about this book and its author (and kittens) here, and even after this blurb I will have more to say about the book soon.
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. I just finished this Newbery award winning book and it was a very satisfying, wholesome book, the literary version of a meat and potatoes meal. I grew up in the Midwest and have family in Kansas, so the setting was very familiar and comforting to me, and I greatly enjoyed the story within a story technique employed by Vanderpool.

Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley. I like learning about larger periods of history through the narrow focus of a person’s life. This biography clearly outlined the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor and the unique nature of their partnership with honesty that never veered into sensationalism.

Adult Fiction
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook. Oh, my; I read this after entering a steampunk phase inspired by Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan. It’s super steampunk goodness and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I think it would make a good readalike for fans of Game of Thrones.

What are your favorite titles so far this year?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ding, Dong the Book Is Dead!

To anyone who is worried about the survival of the printed book I present this:

Yes, that is Captain Jean Luc Picard, enjoying a hardcover book in the 24th century.

Case closed. Books aren’t going anywhere.


Okay. Fine. So maybe only sexy, refined men will continue to read hardcover books, and the rest of us will make use of paperback books, e-books, audio books…Ugh, I can’t even get worked up about it. We still have movies even with the advent of tv. Some are still in black and white even with color film. Not every movie is in 3D yet. We still have stage plays, for pete’s sake. Although cassettes and 8 tracks are gone, we still have Cds (for the moment) and records (enjoying a new resurgence). Radio is still around, and if you include podcasts its more popular than ever. And while digital books might be taking a larger share of the market, regular ol’ paper books are still being sold, and after everyone figures out their preferred mode of reading, sales will probably even out between the two.

The thing is, I wouldn’t worry about any of our storytelling mediums, because people will always want and need stories, and people will always have preferences for how they want to experience those stories. In Chicago, where I live, I’ve attended a couple of the Moth Storyslams, which is just live storytelling on a theme, and that event sells out every single month. If live storytelling—the oldest form of storytelling there is—still has a home in this world, then the beloved book has absolutely nothing to worry about.

But you don’t have to take MY word for it—check out these other articles for corroboration!,2817,2384785,00.asp

Monday, July 25, 2011

Welcome to the Official BEA 2012 Librarian Blogger!

Before we introduce the 2012 Official BEA Librarian Blogger, we want to thank the 2011 Official BEA Librarian Blogger, Jill Dugas Hughes. We appreciate all of Jill’s work in helping BEA with our Librarian Blog for the 2011 event.

Now we would like to welcome the 2012 Official BEA Librarian Blogger: Julie Jurgens, Youth Services Librarian from Chicago, IL. Julie loves science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction, and can't imagine beginning the day without a good cup of coffee! Before attending library school, Julie (or Miss Julie if you're under 10) worked in early childhood education, which is a topic she'll gladly talk to you about as long as you let her. You can follow her on twitter at, and, of course, here on the Official BEA Librarian Blog!

Please give Julie a warm welcome to the BEA blogosphere. We’re thrilled to be working with Julie for 2012 and look forward to her thoughts, insights, and to her creating some dynamic conversations with all our Librarian followers about the industry and BEA!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pre BEA Conference Highlights

The BEA exhibit hall doesn't open until tomorrow, but I have already been very impressed with the pre-conference! WOW! First, I stopped by the BEA info booth where a very knowledgeable *person* walked me through all the reasons to download the BEA event app on my iPhone. She was right, the app was just what I needed to organize my day! It was much easier to navigate than the website.
Next, I attended a FABULOUS session:
The E-Book Era is Now. What does it look like from the consumer perspective? And what do we do about it? Kelly Gallagher, General Manager, Business Intelligence, RR. Bowker, clearly articulated the growth and potential of the eBook market. In October, eBook sales grew by approximately 11%. Gallagher predicted that Amazon is getting more seriously into the content space and will soon break into the publishing stratosphere. Today's eBook *power buyer* is 66% female (compared to just 49% in 2009), with a household income of $77K, who reads mostly romance. 50% of all eBooks sold are fiction. 18% of these *power buyers* represent a whopping 61% of the total eBook purchases and most have a dedicated eReader.
What does this mean for libraries????
1. Libraries who are not purchasing eBooks need to do so, fast.
2. Ebook subscription services need to change to meet the needs of the library consumer.
3. Libraries need to have these same types of consumer studies that the publishers have
*Note* Bowker and Library Journal are partnering together to do this! Yay! Press Release slated to go out today.
4. Libraries need to become experts on the different types of eReader devices and provide options for patrons to try them out and be trained on how to use them.
5. Libraries need to have *video tutorials* on how to use their eBook subscription service for the FIRST time. Downloading the applications is often confusing, even for a tech savy individual.
6. Libraries and Consortiums should hire tech-savy teams to create better electronic delivery experiences with more options for social networking, eg. sharing recommendations with a friend etc.
None of this is necessarily "new" but it is certainly interesting to have been able to see the consumer market research driving next generation models. I highly recommend librarians to look beyond the "Bea Loves Librarians" program tracks to find the cutting edge research and technology. To find out more about consumer attitudes surveys and to suggest questions, contact If you need a great speaker to discuss current markets and predicting the future of ebooks, was great!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Anticipating Demand: Rhyme and Reason @ BEA

Librarians, how do you anticipate demand? Do your collection development policies address how to anticipate demand? Do you even know where to begin? Come to BEA on Wednesday, May 25, to hear Wendy Bartlett and Nora Rawlinson present an intriguing topic: “Caught short when a debut novel suddenly leaps onto the NYT Best Seller list? This session explores how to anticipate demand and stay ahead of heavy holds, even with a limited budget.” Prior to heading to the session, take a look at these two sites: Early Word and NovelMovies. If you have your own suggestions for staying ahead of the demand (including patron driven acquisition models) you want to share, please post!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

eBooks and Publishers Demystified at BEA

How many of you really understand what the emerging eBook models distribution models actually entail?

As librarians, we know that eBooks is an inevitable, exciting time, which has created a buzz in our communities and some incredible challenges to the traditional library book circulation models. Almost as fast as I type, the eBook landscape is changing. No sooner thank we wrap our heads around the (need I say *challenges*) of the subscription model, we hit a brick wall with DRM *licensing* changes (26 anyone?)

Luckily in this information revolution world we are in, ways to examine this phenomenon are everywhere. Here are just a few that I can think of off of the top of my head! Please share your own experiences too...

Library Journal paved the way last year with their 2010 virtual eBook Summit. More than 2,500 librarians, publishers, vendors, and leaders came together to begin a shared conversation.

In 2005, Ohio was ahead of their time when they formed the state wide collaborative Ohio eBook Project.

COSLA released an eBook Feasibility Report for Public Libraries xxx which the call for a national buying pool was hotly reported by Library Journal.

Here in Connecticut, we responded by presenting a sold-out Trendspotting Symposium; eBooks: Collections at the Crossroads. Eli Neiburger rallied the troops with his keynote and a panel of industry leaders including Josh Marwell, Senior Editor, Harper Collins led to yet another Library Journal Article where the uncertain future of the 26 circulation model was brought to a national stage.

If you are anything like most librarians, the more you know about the eBook generation, the more you are craving to be part of the excitement. BEA is hosting a fantastic panel, moderated by Josh Hadro. I'm excited! Are you?

Selling Trade ebooks to Libraries: The Real Deal
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
11:00AM - 12:00PM

Location: 1E16
"In the last few years libraries have perceived a chilling effect in regard to trade ebook distribution models and library sales. Two of the ‘Big Six” publishers, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster do not sell ebooks to libraries. The new HarperCollins ‘26 Circs’ model via OverDrive has provoked anger in some and dismay in many. Librarians will discuss their ideas about how to transform ebook distribution models into a win/win for publishers, aggregators and library customers. These librarians will debunk the myths about libraries and ebooks How do libraries select ebooks? How can you facilitate sales via the library channel? What are the preferred terms of sale/lease, access models, etc.? Is piracy really a threat?"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BEA Librarian Favorites: Speed Dating with Children's Authors

Last week I was at the Connecticut Library Association Conference, and I had many conversations about BEA! Folks are busy planning their agendas using the My BEA Show Planner, which also has a mobile app for last minute changes.

I will be posting daily highlights about events that come highly recommended from librarians. If you have a favorite program for me to write about (or would like to write about it!) please email me:

Now, a highlight from Heather Baker, Head of Children's Services, Canton Public Library, endorsing the Speed Dating with Children's Authors Event. It was covered by NPR last year and more information can be found on the American Booksellers Association website.

"If you are attending [BEA] on Tuesday, this is my absolute favorite event...I know, you may have heard me gush about it before.

You leave with a pile of advanced copies and books, often signed by the authors, and you've MET all the authors before you leave! Truly a wonderful and incredibly memorable way to spend an hour and a half of your life."

Speed Dating With Children's Authors

Presented by the ABC Children's Group at ABA and the Children's Book Council.

10:30 am - 12:00 pm Rooms 1E09 and 1E10

Open to Booksellers, Librarians & Other Children's Book Professionals

Must reserve your spot in advance by emailing with your full name, store, library, or company affiliation, store address (street, city, state, and zip), and email address.

Get to know 19 children's book creators up close and personal! Authors and illustrators will move from table to table, stopping for quick get-to-know-you chats. This is a fun and easy way to get up to "speed" on some of the latest and greatest projects of the season.

Scheduled to appear:

· David A. Adler, Mystery Math: A First Book of Algebra (Holiday House)

· Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Trial By Fire / Every Other Day (Egmont)

· Jane Hampton Cook, What Does the President Look Like? (Kane Miller)

· James Dashner, The Death Cure (Random House)

· Laura Lee Gulledge, Page By Paige (Abrams)

· Jeff Hirsch, The Eleventh Plague (Scholastic)

· Carrie Jones, After Obsession (Bloomsbury)

· Alan Katz, Mosquitoes Are Ruining My Summer; Me Me Mine; Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking (Simon & Schuster)

· Jon Klassen, I Want My Hat Back (Candlewick)

· Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me (HarperCollins)

· Kate McMullan, Myth-o-Mania series (Capstone)

· Jennifer Roy, MindBlind (Marshall Cavendish)

· Marie Rutkoski, The Jewel of the Kalderash (Macmillan)

· Clete Smith, Aliens on Vacation (Disney)

· Ashley Spires, Binky Under Pressure (Kids Can)

· Susan Stockdale, Bring on the Birds (Peachtree)

· Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Little, Brown)

· Linda Urban, Hound Dog True (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

· Meg Wolitzer, The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman (Penguin)

Did you learn about a new book last year or make a new connection with a children's author at the speed dating event? Tell me your story!