Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

By Emily M. Danforth
480 pages
Pub. Date: Feb. 7 2012 by Balzer + Bray

    Life for thirteen-year-old Cameron Post had been pretty normal so far. Living in a small town in the late 1980s, she and her best friend Irene spend their summer just hanging out. Then Irene kisses Cameron and Cameron’s parents die in a car accident in the same day. Cameron’s world is turned upside down. Not only are parents gone, but she has to figure out what is going on with herself. Now add in the fact that Cameron’s
conservative Aunt Ruth has become her legal guarding and the reader begins
to see the double life Cameron starts to live.
     The Miseducation of Cameron Post will grab you in and not let you go. You fear that every time Cameron meets with a girl or even has the slightest crush on someone that she will be found out. It is also extremely important to factor in the time of this book. Set in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Internet, and all the quick availableness that comes with the World Wide Web, doesn’t exist yet. There is no online support/information for her to receive like today. There are no answers to the questions she has. She rents movies that might even contain the slightest hint of a lesbian love scene and scours through the issues of The Advocate that are secretly mailed to her. You know Cameron is going to be found out. The ominous feeling lingers through the entire first half of the book. The second half of the book picks up after her secret life is revealed and her Aunt Ruth sends her away to a boarding school that specialized in ‘de-gaying’ youths. To most, it is unthinkable that someone can pray away the gay, but it is important to remember that these schools to exist.
      How I heard about this book: A friend, and fellow librarian, had told me to check this out, which I did, but it sat at the bottom of my TBR for about two weeks. She mentioned the book again, but she sold me on it when she stated, “It has the most graphic girl on girl love scene I have ever read.” Sold. I went home and started reading right away. I wanted to see how graphic this got, because this is a young adult book. It was graphic. Not only are the scenes with Cameron and Coley pretty racy, but there was also an attempted suicide that went into all the gory details.
      What I like about this book: The story. Emily Danforth creates a great story that really captures the reader. Her writing style was very detailed and you had to pay attention to every sentence to catch the littlest of details. When a book gets you so riled up about a subject, about a character, you know that that is a good book.   
      What I didn’t like: The ending. I really wanted Cameron to turn 18
and sue Aunt Ruth for the tuition cost for the school. The cost of the school tuition was about $9,000 which came out of a trust left to Cameron from her parents. I know this is a little extreme, but I was so angry at Ruth for sending Cameron away. I mainly wanted Cameron to break away from the small town and her Aunt Ruth. Also, the length could have been shorted down some. At over 400 pages, this book took several days to read, just because of the precision of detail that I mentioned before. I fear that a lot of people won’t pick this book up because of the size. Those people are definitely missing out on an amazing story.

Friday, March 23, 2012

And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano

And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
32 pages - Roaring Book Press
Pub. Date - February 14, 2012
4.5 out of 5 stars

     Sometimes waiting on spring can feel like forever, especially when the colors of winter are all around. Brown, brown, brown everywhere you see. In And Then It’s Spring, a young boy and his loyal dog wait patiently and sometimes not so patiently for their garden to grow. The boy doesn’t understand why the seeds that he has planted won’t grow. Maybe some bears stomped on the seeds? Or some hungry birds found the seeds and decided they would be a perfect snack? No matter what the reason may be, the garden just is not growing. But maybe with a little time, plus some rain and sunshine, things will start to grow?
     And Then It’s Spring is a great resource to explain to children how the beautiful things that spring brings need time to grow. Through sparse text, children will be able to understand that gardening and growing take time, but with the help of rain and the sun, flowers and plants will sprout soon. First time author Julie Fogliano teams up with 2011 Caldecott Medal winner Erin E. Stead to create a striking and sweet story about the changing seasons. This is Stead’s first work since winning in 2011 for A Sick Day for Amos McGee. She uses woodblock printing techniques and pencils to create her stunning illustrations. As the story progresses the scenery and color scheme that Stead uses slowly become lighter, bringing in the slight changes of an oncoming spring.
      I pretty much had a geek out moment when I ran across this book. I love A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Love. That was my Caldecott pick for 2011, so it and Erin E. Stead will always have a special place in my heart. I love the simplicity and overall beauty of her art, which is clearly represented in And Then It's Spring. I would love for this to win the Caldecott for 2013 (I know it is early), but given her 2011 win, I don't think it will happen. Speaking of early front runners for Caldecott, check out Extra Yarn. That is (as of right now) my pick for 2013.

Ooooh and it even has its own book trailer!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Rare Titanic Family by Julie Hedgepeth Williams

 A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells' Story of Survival by Julie Hedgepeth Willams
Published: Spring 2012
208 pages - New South Books

        When Albert and Sylvia Caldwell decided to leave their mission work in
Siam and return to the United States, they never dreamed that they were in
for the journey of their lives. How could they ever imagine that the ship
they would be traveling on, the Titanic would forever be known as one of
the greatest disasters ever? Traveling with their 10-month-old son Alden,
the Caldwells set out on the voyage that would not only change their
lives, but history.
       In A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells’ Story of Survival,
Birmingham author Julie Hedgepeth Williams recounts the perilous
journey of the Titanic, but also the events that led up to the
Caldwells being on this infamous voyage. The author describes the
stories her great-uncle Albert told her and does her own extensive
research to piece together a harrowing account of survival, strength,
and courage. In one gripping moment, Albert must decide whether or
not to place his family on a lifeboat. This might seem like the
easiest decision in the world, knowing what we know now about
infamous night, but the passengers aboard the Titanic were told that
this was a ship that even God himself couldn’t sink. Also, the
circumstances of exactly how Albert ended up on a lifeboat, which was
strictly reserved for women and children, are quite suspenseful. A
Rare Titanic Family is not your ordinary Titanic book. Williams’
research reflects a new light on how the passengers on the Titanic
must have felt during this traumatic experience, but also the mania
that followed them after.

    Why I picked this book up? Word of mouth. My library happen to hear Ms. Williams speak at a function and was telling me about the book. Since April 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking we wanted to incorporate the book somehow. We decided to host a program with Ms. Williams, along with have the book featured as the April read for the library's book group. I also happen to hear Ms. Williams speak previously at a SLIS function for her book  Wings Of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers In Montgomery, Alabama, 1910.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Believe it or Not! Strange Library Interview Questions

So I decided to collect some strange Library Interview Questions. All these questions are true and have been asked on interviews. Thanks to everyone on Twitter who submitted their questions....especially to those who were scared this would make it back to their bosses. I hope you get a kick out of these or maybe some inspiration for your next round of interviews.

Make a flow chart of how to make a PB&J sandwich.

How would you decorate the teen department with no budget?

How are you with hamsters?

Do you have a library card?

What would do if the toilet overflowed in the library?

How would you use this in a program? (After being handed a flip camera)

Alabama or Auburn?  (It's a football thing...)

Have you ever been in a parade?

Do you like cats?

Why is a manhole cover round?

How does it feel to have worked for the library with the worst customer service

If money and time were no object what would you do?

What would you do if someone threw up?

What household appliance would you be?

How many ping pong balls do you think will fit in a 747? And how would you get them into a plane? Inside the passenger and cargo hold areas?

What creative things do you do?

If you were a magazine, which title would you be?

Would you mind hugging the patrons?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Boring Books....

So I was just lounging around my apartment reading a new book for my library's book group, when my boyfriend sauntered up. He took a look at the title (nonfiction book, fyi) and cover (I will admit, the cover is bad) and stated:

BF: Boring book?

So I took a little offense to this because I am a librarian and I really want BF to read more...

Me: No. It is actually a great story about survival and courage.

BF: What page are you on?

Me: Um.... 20.

BF: Because it's a boring book.

Me: It's a slow read.

BF: Because it's boring book...

Me: Yeah. :(

Sometimes you just have to admit when a book is boring.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book Group Selections

As I stated a few posts ago, I was given the opportunity to run the book group at my library. I don't know how long I will get to keep it because they are currently interviewing for a new head of Adult Services (who is technically suppose to run the group), but I am making sure to make my mark!

One of the first pieces of business I took care of was to make the book group year around. It had previously run from Sept to May, since the Adult Department was too busy in the Summer for the group. So since this has been changed we have to vote on books for the summer. We ended up changing out April pick to feature a local author, which I am very excited about. We took our old April pick, One Summer by David Baldacci, and moved it to June. Now we just had to fill the July through December spots. I don't know how most library book groups work, but in ours we let the members suggest titles then there is a vote (sometimes through e-mail or at an actual meeting). How I chose to set it up:

1. Took suggestions for titles - We set a 300 to 400 page limit on the books. Nothing over. As I said in the e-mail, we all loved Cutting for Stone, but we probably could all agree that 600 page was a little too much. I also stated that an author could only have one selection. Currently Jeannette Walls has two books on our current pick list (Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses) . This hasn't set too well with a few people in the group, especially since they think we are reading too many dysfunctional family books (and they are right).

2. Annotated List - I email the members out a list with the titles but with a two sentence description via WorldCat. It was time consuming for me, but it saved them from having to look up twenty different titles.

3. Voting. I created an online survey via SurveyMonkey so they could vote. I also told them that they could just reply to my email with their choices.

4. Time. I gave them from Wednesday to Sunday to vote. On Monday I will analyze the results. We are meeting on Tuesday to discuss Crooked Letter Crooked Letter and I will hand out the results on some sort of promotional flyer.

Here are the books they suggested (I suggested a few as well, like The Hunger Games)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Anthill: A Novel by E. O. Wilson
Come in and Cover Me by Gin Phillips (Local Author)
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress

How it all began : a novel by Penelope Lively.
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
Treason at Lisson Grove by Anne Perry
Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
Napoleon’s Buttons by Penny Le Couteur

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Things you find in picture books...
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