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Friday, January 27, 2017

Fun Pick: Trouble Makes a Comeback (book 2)

Trouble Makes a Comeback
by Stephanie Tromly
Kathy Dawson  Books
298 pages
ISBN: 9780525428411

From the front cover: "Digby's back. Trouble never looked so good."

Zoe Webster is finally getting her life on the "normal" high school track. She is starting to date the quarterback, she is making excellent grades, she has a "life," and for those kids on the outside looking in, it's a pretty sweet one at that. She might even  be said to be a popular girl. Just when Zoe's life is normal and she thinks she is happy, Digby returns! And oh, readers, you will be so glad....

In book one, Digby exits leaving Zoe dumbfounded and confused. They kissed! What did that kiss mean? Did it mean anything to Digby? Because Zoe remembers it quite well. Poor Zoe--with the handsome, popular but clueless quarterback by her side, she simply can't quit replaying that kiss with Digby.

Digby's back and in a big way. He's found more clues in the case and he feels that with Zoe's help, they can solve the mystery. Zoe is an unwilling participant who doesn't drag her feet for even an instant. Pretty soon, Digby is a guest in her home and her parents could not be happier because they think Digby is a fine young man. Cute boyfriend Austin couldn't disagree more. He is mad that Digby is now his girlfriend's roommate and BFF. This triangle thing is not even a triangle.
Readers know that the dynamic between Digby and Zoe is too strong for a third side--even if that side is a cute, popular quarterback. Austin can't match Digby in the brains, wit, personality, or banter departments.

The novel rollicks along at a breakneck speed with plenty of teen appeal, snarky dialog, Digby-isms, and the near slapstick smoldering romance in every scene is a thing of cinematic glory! Digby and Zoe may be the greatest pairing since "The Thin Man"  duo of Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy). --Hey, kiddies, if you  want to see Hollywood magic, check out "The Thin Man" series of movies! And no, I wasn't born then, either! I just appreciate true film making!

For readers who love a mystery and so much, much more,  this series is comic romance gold. If this does not get made into a movie, there is something wrong with the world. Readers are sure to laugh out loud at Digby's mannerisms, quirks and antics, and shake their head with wonder at the smart, spot-on  dialog. Tromly has mastered her characters and she could write for any comedy show anytime. I can't get enough of the rom-com chemistry of Zoe and Digby.

This is as much fun as you could ever have reading a book! Seriously.....

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. Some mature conversations.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Surviving/Thriving Your Book Conference or Book Festival--Tips,Tricks & Hacks

Surviving/Thriving Your State Library Conference or Book Festival

Texas Library Association   San Antonio 2017

B4 the Conference: 

1. Plan early! If your conference is in April (like Texas's), you need to begin planning in October.

2. Make sure and write down  the dates of the conference and plan your flight, drive or bus ride to the conference.

3. I have to travel over 9 hours (at least!) by car or fly the day before the conference to arrive in time for the kick-off day. Events on the first day start at 7:00 or 8:00 a.m.

4. Reserve your hotel room. I've always liked to have my own room, but if you don't mind, you can share with someone else. Make sure to find your roommate in advance and have a stand-by plan in case something falls through. If your roommate backs out, you are still on the hook for the cost of the entire room.

HELPFUL TIP: I don't like to stay at the Conference hotel that is right next to the event. There is so much foot traffic in and out of your hotel. Eating at the hotel is nearly impossible. Room service super slow. Elevators crowded and seem not to be in order. I stay at a hotel a bit further away for less traffic, quicker service, nicer eating experiences and instant elevators.

4. Get your travel request in. Every school district is different. Check what your district requires you to submit. Your district will probably pay for the conference fee, your plane ticket, hotel and per dium  for meals. Keep your meal receipts--make sure you have the itemized ones...not the credit card printed out fee. Your receipts can be turned in after you are home for payment to you. Be sure to turn in hotel itemized receipt as well. Your district may pay for Internet fees and parking fees if you used the garage.

5. Plan if you are attending any ticketed events. Texas offers all the colleges dinner nights, dinners with authors, Bluebonnet luncheon, several ticketed sessions, Texas tea with YA authors and other events. Payment is made in advance of conference. Make sure you have printed out your receipt of paid tickets. Take the receipts with you to events in case there is any mix-up.

6. If you have a blog or library web page, make sure that you print out business cards. Include your twitter handle on your cards and your website!

7. Take one extra rolling bag.  You will need it for free books that you take home! Not a problem if driving. If you are flying. Put your smaller bag inside your empty larger roller. Southwest allows two free bags.

8. Check shuttle bus schedules. If you are at a large state conference, shuttle buses may run a.m. and p.m. but shut down after 12 noon to 4. Make sure you are on the bus before noon or you're hoofing it back to your hotel. Not a problem unless you picked up too many free books!

9. Check downtown restaurants sites and menus. You want to have some idea of where to eat. Your hotel desk also has a map to downtown eateries and streets.

10. The city library or high school libraries may have events for visiting librarians. Check before you go.

11. Exchange phone numbers and email addresses with traveling buddies. It's important if you are staying in different hotels to text your friends and let them know of upcoming events. Sometimes tickets become available SUDDENLY and you can alert your friends. Last year, they let extra people in at one of the ticketed breakfast for FREE! 


1. Check in at your hotel. Plan your conference if you have not already done so. Mark your program and download to app for your conference. Also check the Twitter feed to see news and tweets about the conference. Twitter can get you some great swag and you'll meet up with other librarians, bloggers, writers and publishers.

2. Visit the conference site and check in/register the day before the event. If you wait until the morning of the conference, lines are LONG and you may miss your first event standing in a line. In Texas and other states I'm sure, you can pick up your badges and ribbons that designate what round tables or events you belong to. Also, if you don't have it already, and you are with the press, make sure you pick up your press passes.

3. Check with your hotel to see if you can get Internet for free or free breakfast. Some hotels offer snacks at happy hour as well.

4. Figure out where/when you will eat breakfast. Snacks and breakfast are offered at the convention center, but lines are long (Starbucks lines impossible, of course!). Your hotel may offer complimentary breakfast. Eat something because your options are limited. The snacks and meals at convention centers are overpriced. 


1. Day one is usually the Keynote speaker. In Texas the Keynotes have been AMAZING! I always go the the Keynote event. Librarians will be tweeting about this! If you're a Twitter fan, make sure to look up from your phone! Don't miss the entire conference because you are too busy tweeting it for someone else to experience it!

2. Make sure to leave several hours open for shopping/visiting booths at the conference. Publishers are eager to GIVE away free books!

3. Check your program for giveaways and signings. If it's a "hot" title or author, you may have to get in line over an hour early to get a book signed or a free copy.

4. Watch the Twitter feed for freebies and author sightings.

5. If you are invited to any free breakfasts, lunches, dinners or happy hours, be sure and attend. Free food and authors. Cool!

6. Network!

7. Have business cards to hand out and get cards!

8. Check your empty rolling bag at bag check when you enter the convention center. Use a backpack or over shoulder bag to collect free books. If they get super heavy, go by bag check and empty your carry bag into the rolling bag. Go back for more free books.

9. Most convention centers have a mailing center. If you are flying, mail your free books home to yourself from the conference. Airlines charge for heavy bags. If driving, then no problem. Also, hotels may have a mailing center.

10. Most downtown conference centers have restaurants near the convention center. You should plan ahead and know where you will eat lunch.

11. Be sure and go  to the Welcome party and fun events. In Texas, there is a book cart drill (hilarious), artist sketch off, night parties and dinners. There is also a golf tourney and a fun run. Sometimes there are yoga events and walking tours. One of the greatest and most fun and FUNNY classes is laughing yoga! Downward dog, anyone?

12. Don't over schedule. If you plan to visit back-to-back events all day every day, you can't network and you'll be to busy to enjoy the books/authors.

13. If you chose a session and realize that it's not for you, don't be afraid to get up and walk out. It is not considered rude at all. I know it seems so, but it happens constantly throughout all the events. If it's not for you and it won't help you, find another session that will.

14. Sometimes sessions are billed as one thing, but then the content is something else. Maybe you were looking for elementary ideas and the presenter(s) are giving high school content only. Don't be afraid of leaving.

15. Twitter has opened the door to a lot of new learning and sharing. Use the app!

After the conference: 

1. Get home and relax!

2. Look at your loot! I regularly come home with 100+ books!

3. Turn in all receipts to your secretary.

4. Make a file on your computer for all email addresses from business cards you collected.

5.  Blog or tweet about conference. Help others in your district attend next year.

6. Present what you learned to your district or city.

7. Plan new events for your program.

8. Plan your next conference.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sure to Become a Classic Pick: Wolf Hollow

Wolf Hollow
by Lauren Wolk
Dutton Children's Books
291 pages
ISBN" 9781101994825

Wolf Hollow is sure to become a classic of children's literature. It is the triumphant story of a rural childhood during World War II set in the hills and hollows of Pennsylvania's mountains. Annabelle lives on a farm where life is defined by the rising and setting of the sun and the passing of seasons. There are always chores to do before and after school: stock to be tended, stalls to be cleaned, food to be prepared, clothes to be washed. The list is never-ending, but Annabelle never complains. It is expected of children to help in the home and on the farm.

Life seems idyllic besides the work, but when Betty Glengarry moves in with her grandparents, she threatens Annabelle's quiet life. Betty has been shipped off to her grandparents in the country because she is "incorrigable." Annabelle thinks that Betty is just plain mean and evil.  Betty tells Annabelle to bring her something, or she will hurt Annabelle and her two younger brothers. Annabelle brings a penny, all that she has, and Betty laughs and hits her with a stick.

Annabelle decides she is not going to back down to Betty's threats after that. She does not want to tell her parents either. She decides that she will have to stand up to Betty. A silent witness who makes his home in the woods sees all. Toby, a silent loner who arrived after World War I, roams the hills around Annabelle's farm. She is not afraid of him. Toby is gentle and quiet. He just wants to be left alone. He leads a simple life, hunting what meat he can find, and Annabelle's mother makes sure to send a plate of food with Annabelle up the road where she will leave it for Toby to find. The next day the washed plate is always left right where Annabelle set it, and Annabelle knows that Toby got a decent meal.

As the taunting and bullying from Betty comes to a head, suddenly Betty finds another ally. Farm boy Andy comes to school and soon Betty is too smitten by his attentions to bother Annabelle until the day that someone hurts Annabelle's friend Ruth. A rock thrown from the trees on the hill  changes Ruth's life forever and affects the entire community.

Betty blames Toby by saying that he was probably aiming at Mr. Ansel's wagon or Mr. Ansel. Annabelle knows Toby would never hurt anyone, and she wants to prove his innocence.

The life lessons contained in Wolf Hollow are reason enough for everyone to read this book. WWII changed the landscape of America forever. Many boys did not come home, and those who did never talked about the horrors of war they faced. They became silent witnesses, like Toby. Maybe some became scapegoats for others' crimes and misdeeds.

It is brilliant that a child like Annabelle could see the shining light in Toby when the adults could not. Maybe they did not look for it or did not look deeply or long enough. Adults can  be too quick to judge. They can form opinions of a quiet loner. They may think he is crazy, or stupid, or a lazy bum or a threat. But a child sees his honestly, his care, and his grace.

Bring tissues. Wolf Hollow will both break your heart and refresh your spirit!

This is the BEST childhood classic I have read in a very long time. It reminds me of Charlotte's Web and A Secret Garden. Every child and every adult should read this book. Do NOT miss this one.
School book clubs and reading clubs must read this book!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

World Read Aloud Day

                                           World Read Aloud Day February 16, 2017

                                                             Skype in the Classroom 
                                                                Tips for Skype here
Be sure and sign up to Skype with an author with your kids! It's free! It's EPIC! 
Don't be left out....get out there and READ ALOUD! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Teen Tech Week Coming Soon: March 5-11, 2017

Sign up for Teen Tech Week March 5-11 
Create your Profile (you will receive an email with the link)
Download logos to use on your webpages, blogs, posters 
Teen Tech Week encourages students to use all the technology that the Library Media Center has to offer! Try something new!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Out of This World Pick: Mission To Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt

Mission To Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt
(Scientists in the Field book)
by Mary Kay Carson
Photos by Tom Uhlman
Illustrations by Jennifer Goldstick
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
73 pages
ISBN: 9780544416710

Editorial Reviews 

What a book! What a mission! It will make readers proud to be an American!

The first voyage to Pluto is the farthest that a mission has traveled at 3 billion miles, 4.8 billion kilometers) and it took 9 1/2 years! The mission is NASA's New Horizons Mission and is led by Alan Stern who dreamed of the mission for over 30 years.

Pluto and the Kuiper Belt has been shrouded in mystery since its discovery. Because it is so distant, scientists were unable to see it with telescopes until newer technology of the 2000's. New Horizons (the spacecraft) found that Pluto is covered with ice, carbon monoxide frost and snow with methane. Science believes there may be an underground ocean as well. It may take years to sort all the information gathered by New Horizons, but that is what excites NASA.

There are many firsts for this mission including the fact that New Horizons is the first mission to include an instrument built by a student. The spacecraft is able to get to Pluto and beyond because most of its electronics are in "hibernation" mode for years.

The book contains illustrations explaining the equipment and helpful diagrams enhance the text. Although cutting edge technology allowed the spacecraft to "hibernate," downloading photos from 3 billion miles away took two entire years from space! Imagine trying to view a photo on your phone that took two years to download!

Many early Pluto theories have been debunked by New Horizons Mission. Pluto is much larger than what scientists thought. Not just an ice planet, Pluto is changing planet geologically and may have ice volcanoes.

The mission is not over. New Horizons is currently on its journey to the Kuiper Belt. NASA estimates that New Horizons will arrive sometime in 2019 and then travel beyond into deep space until it runs out of plutonium.

Space enthusiasts will devour this fascinating book! Readers will be CAPTIVATED  by Carson's narration as she  presents scientific data in a accessible manner  and makes this a story worth reading. Photos from New Horizons are life-changing!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Non-Fiction Pick: Animals By the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics

Animals By the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics
by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
48 pages
ISBN: 9780544630925

*“Compelling visual presentation makes the information accessible and exciting. Highly recommended for all science collections.”
--School Library Journal, STARRED review

*”A special treat for all who love animal statisitcs.”

--Kirkus, STARRED review

Animals By the Numbers is a visual treat for the eyes. Visual learners and ELL/ESL students will love Jenkins's eye-catching infographics, charts, pictures and captions that convey  information about animals. Cut  and torn paper collages make up most of the infographics, and the design shines off the pages! 
Who doesn't want to know what animals live in the coldest places on earth (emporer Penguins or the little known tardigrade, known as the water bear, who can live at temperatures varying from -328° to 304° F) or what animals are the leading cause of death of humans (mosquitoes have the record)?
The colorful illustrations are a feast and the facts are surprising in many cases and educational in every case. 
This is a MUST HAVE for any science or animal buff and should be included in all library collections. I am gifting this book to a dear young reader I know.  
Bravo, Steve Jenkins, for making science super cool! 
Highly recommended grade 4-up. Any animal lover of  any age will love this book. 

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

World Building Pick: The Reader

The Reader
(Book One of Sea of Ink and Gold)
by Traci Chee
437 pages
ISBN: 9780399176777

If you read one book this entire year, make it this one! The Reader is that special. Master storyteller Traci Chee takes readers on a journey through time where anything can happen and what seems impossible is suddenly possible. To call this book an adventure book or a fantasy  or a pirate book or a dystopian book does it discredit. The Reader is...well, everything!

Sefia is on the run with her Aunt Nin. They hunt and trap, selling pelts at the market and sometimes stealing to stay alive. Sefia witnessed her father's brutal murder and vows to find the people responsible. When Nin is kidnapped and tortured, Sefia is on fire. No longer will she keep quiet. She will find those responsible and make them pay no matter what the cost is to Sefia herself.

Reading and books are unheard of in Sefia's world. It is a wonder then that she carries a square object in her pack, an object her father prized and hid from the world. When Sefia realizes that it is in fact a book, she knows to keep it hidden. Sefia studies the book's strange symbols and tries to unlock its secrets on her own. When she crosses paths with a strange boy in trouble, she helps him to safety and he seems bound to her forever.

The two meet legendary pirates when they accidentally stowaway on the pirate ship. Other forces are at work--dark forces that want the book. And there are librarians who will risk everything to save the book (my favorite!)

From the first page prologue, "Hello, If you're reading this, then maybe you know you ought to read everything. And maybe you know you ought to read deeply. Because there's witchery in these words and spellwork in the spine..." the reader will be swept away by the magic that is author Traci Chee.

Give this book to every reader! There is something in here for everyone. The premise of looking deeply...REALLY looking...reading deeply...searching for clues is genius! The Reader is that book that others will be compared to. It is that book that will win countless awards and rightly so.

One can only hope that book two will live up to book one's success.

So highly recommended I'm shouting it: READ THIS BOOK! READ IT NOW!
Grades 6-up. Violence, some bloody battles, no profanity, no sexual content.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.