Friday, July 19, 2019

Ready to Go Book Display: Binge Books

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. TV shows aren't the only thing you can binge!

Recommendations for Adults:

Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond (Feb 2019)

Set before the events of Stranger Things, this prequel novel follows Eleven's mother and her time as a test subject in the MKUltra program. 

The Handmaid's Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood and Renee Nault (Mar 2019)

A graphic novel adaptation based on Margaret Atwood's best-selling novel.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Sep 2019)

In this sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

Game of Thrones: The Storyboards by Will Simpson (May 2019)

This collection features storyboard art for Seasons 1-7 of Game of Thrones.

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way (Jul 2008)

In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born by women who had previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, "To save the world."

The first book in an original mystery series featuring twenty-eight-year-old Veronica Mars, back in action after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie.

Recommendations for Teens:

Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down by Gina McIntyre (Oct 2018)

Viewers can now immerse themselves in the world - or worlds - of Hawkins, Indiana, like never before.

Stranger Things: Runaway Max by Brenna Yovanoff (Jun 2019)

Explores Max Mayfield's past in California, and provides her perspective of making friends in Hawkins, Indiana.

Riverdale: The Day Before by Micol Ostow (Dec 2018)

Explores the lives of the teenagers of Riverdale before their sophomore year in high school, from Jughead and Archie's falling out and Betty's growing feelings for Archie to Veronica's life in New York City.

Riverdale: All New Stories by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Oct 2017)

The first collection of the comic book set in the universe of the TV series.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Sarah Rees Brennan (Jul 2019)

This prequel YA novel tells an all-new original story based on the Netflix series.

Slayer by Kiersten White (Jan 2019)

Set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first book in this series introduces our new slayer as she grapples with incredible power she is just beginning to understand.

Recommendations for Children:

Help Jughead Jones find the food hidden throughout the book.

Bob Ross and Peapod the Squirrel by Robb Pearlman and Bob Ross (Oct 2019)

The sweet story of painter Bob Ross, who helps his squirrel friend find the perfect home to live in.

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Sesame Street, beloved picture-book artists have each created an artwork interpreting a different line from "Sunny Day," the iconic Sesame Street theme song.

When Mazu, Rocky, Bill and Tiny - four young dinosaur friends - set off on a Gigantosaurus hunt, they're in for a wild adventure.

Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego? by Rebecca Tinker (Jan 2019)

For decades, people have asked the question: Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? But just who is this infamous and elusive globe-trotting thief?

After the sudden death of their parents, the three Baudelaire children must depend on each other and their wits when it turns out that the distant relative who is appointed their guardian is determined to use any means necessary to get their fortune.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Ready to Go Book Display: Back to School

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. Even though we are knee deep in summer reading we are featuring books for back to school.

Recommendations for Adults:

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (Jul 2019)
A previously happy group of friends and parents are nearly destroyed by their own competitiveness when an exclusive school for gifted children opens in the community.

The authors take us beyond the hype of reform and inside some of America's most innovative classrooms to show what is working - and what isn't.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen (Feb 2019)
A moving account of the extraordinary teenage survivors of Parkland who became activists and pushed back against the NRA and Congressional leaders - inspiring millions of Americans to join their grassroots #neveragain movement.

A smart, snappy, and comprehensive guide for the millions of adults who are thinking about going - or going back - to college and want to know how to do it right.

Recommendations for Teens:

Wilder Girls by Rory Power (Jul 2019)
Left to fend for themselves when their island boarding school is quarantined, three best friends watch their teachers die before their fellow students begin succumbing to feral violence, a situation that is further complicated when one of them goes missing.

The Academy by Katie Sise (May 2018)
After messing up one too many times, Frankie Brooks, a future fashion editor, finds herself at military school where she must learn how to cope with the impossible military drills and specialized classes.

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki (Apr 2015)
At a prep school for superheroes, mutants, and witches, paranormal abilities take a backseat to normal teen concerns.

Recommendations for Children:

The Pigeon Has to Go to School! by Mo Willems (Jul 2019)
The Pigeon throws a fit over his worries about the first day of school, from heavy backpacks to finger paint on his feathers.

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Jul 2019)
A story about a confident little boy who takes pride in his first day of kindergarten, encouraging new students with a reassuring message about this exciting milestone.

My First Day of School by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (Jul 2019)
An introduction for young readers to the milestone experiences of the first day of school, featuring a diverse assortment of students meeting their teacher, making new friends, and more.

First Day of Groot! by Brendan Deneen and Cale Atkinson (Jul 2019)
Follow Rocket and Groot as they set off across the galaxy learning new lessons, developing new skills, and making new memories with friends along the way.

So Big! by Mike Wohnoutka (Jul 2019)
A simple, clever text paired with adorable animal characters makes school-day jitters seem not so big after all.

The School Book by Todd Parr (Jul 2019)
A introduction on all the things you can do at school.

If I Built a School by Chris Van Dusen (Aug 2019)
A boy fantasizes about his dream school - from classroom to cafeteria to library and playground.

My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown (Jun 2019)
Finding school boring and believing his teacher to be a robot, young Fred tries to think of ways to make his day more exciting, from pretending the classroom is filled with dinosaurs to imagining that tests are being mandated by an evil overlord.

Phoenix Goes to School by Michelle and Phoenix Finch (Jul 2018)
With encouragement from her mother, teacher, and a fellow student, Phoenix, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female, finds the courage to face the first day of school.

Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can't Go to School! by Christina Geist and Tim Bowers (Jul 2019)
This fun role-reversal picture book will help reluctant students see the appeal of school.

The 47 People You'll Meet in Middle School by Kristin Mahoney (Aug 2019)
Discover the ins and outs of middle school in this guide from an older sister to her younger sister.

Shadow School #1: Archimancy by J.A. White (Aug 2019)
Sixth-graders Cordelia, Agnes, and Benji go on a quest to unravel the secrets of Shadow School.

As summer comes to an end, Mr. Peanuts helps his friend, Rosie prepare her classroom and the school for the students' return.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Audio Books Aren't Cheating

How many times have you had this conversation?
Person: How do you find the time to read so much?
You: Well, I listen to audio books in the car and at the gym--
Person: Oh, so you're not REALLY reading! Audio books are cheating.

Well. Have we got news for these people! AUDIO BOOKS ARE NOT CHEATING!

FIRST of all. Why is it "cheating"? Is reading hard work that we are somehow skipping? I sure hope not. If reading is supposed to be work, then I have been doing it wrong for years!

The Basics

Let's take out the part of the equation that beginning readers (up to about fifth grade) need to be able to read and process what they're reading, by decoding the words and comprehending their meaning. As adults (and also as teens), we don't need practice decoding; we are reading for comprehension and enjoyment. As such... what does it matter how the information enters our brain?

What I usually ask people, if questioned about this topic, is if they can understand what they have heard. Do they need practice reading? No? Do they enjoy the stories? Yes? Can they talk about it later? Okay then! They have successfully internalized a story.

We must also consider those who are unable to read print. Are books in Braille truly "reading"? Can a person with vision issues say they are an avid reader, when their books are audible? I would argue that, yes, they can.

The Science

If you look at this from a perspective of science, the brain processes a story that is read in pretty much the same way as a story that is heard. University of Virginia Psychologist Daniel Willingham, author of Raising Kids Who Read: What Parents and Teachers Can Do, explains that, "for typical adults (who decode fluently) listening comprehension and reading comprehension [are] mostly the same thing. And experiments show very high correlations of scores on listening and reading comprehension tests in adults." So... yes, it's pretty much the same thing.

Dr. Willingham also objects to the often-chosen word, "cheating," in regards to reading. ​"Comparing audio books to cheating is like meeting a friend at Disneyland and saying 'you took a bus here? I drove myself, you big cheater.' The point is getting to and enjoying the destination. The point is not how you traveled." Hear, hear!

And Also

In his interview with CNN, Willingham also asks us to consider how the author wanted their work to be experienced. Newer books, such as Amy Poehler's Yes, Please are almost meant to be heard, and the inflections of the narrator (Poehler herself) add an extra element to the experience. Some titles, such as dense nonfiction, may be far more enjoyable to the reader than the listener, as they can easily flip back to reference previous passages. 

Of course, this leads us to the question of the drama: 
Is it cheating to read Shakespeare, when it was meant to be seen?

Let us know your thoughts here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Friday, May 24, 2019

You Don't Have to Love the Classics

I went to the Massachusetts Library Association conference last week and had a wonderful time. I got tons of great ideas, and I've already started working with staff to see if some things we learned about are feasible for our library. On the lighter side of things, there was a vendor table that asked us, what is your LEAST favorite book?

Answers were widely varied, and I know there was a fair amount of overlap between this topic and their other question, "what book inspires you?" What struck me was the number of "classic" books that people had listed as their least favorite.

What Makes a Classic?

The first question I had was, what makes a book a classic, anyway? The fact that it's well-known, or has lasted through the years? Many people have written entire books just trying to answer this question. I can't claim to be any more intelligent than they, but I can have my own thoughts on the matter.

Italo Calvino says that a classic is "a book which has never exhausted all it has to say to its readers." This is a lovely way to think of it, but I would argue that The Cat in the Hat is a classic and I have gotten pretty much all out of that one that I possibly can.

Mark Twain declared that a classic is, "something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read." That seems somewhat closer to the truth, though I find it very ironic that the works of Mark Twain are now, themselves, classics.

This also makes me wonder: Can a book lose "classic" status if people no longer enjoy it? There was a time when the Tom Swift science fiction books by Victor Appleton were on everyone's radar, but you might not have even heard of them today. (Fun fact: the TASER is actually named for the character; it stands for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle.)

Do We Have to Love Them?

No matter how you define the term, we all have several examples at the ready. Do we have to enjoy them (or pretend to)?

I used to joke that I was a terrible librarian because I can't stand the works of James Joyce. I have come to the conclusion, however, that it doesn't matter whether I like him, or any other author, or not. The real question is: Will I still make sure to find these works if someone wants them, or I think they might enjoy them? If yes, then it doesn't matter what my personal views are. You want Ulysses? Here it is!

The thing is: times change. In some cases, what was once acceptable and even normal is no longer okay; the Laura Ingalls Wilder books are a good example of this. While they are a product of their time, and we can still love the stories while being aware of the bias of the narrator, they are less popular now than they were, and may have a resurgence in popularity, or may fade away (like poor old Tom Swift).

Also, people change. Attitudes change. The sweet story you loved as a child might take on a whole new - sometimes disturbing - meaning as an adult. 

So, no. We don't have to love them. We can make up our own minds about classics -- but we also don't get to judge anyone else who decides they are still perfect.

Classics We Didn't Necessarily Love

Taken from the list at the conference and conversations that I've had with other librarians, I have compiled a short list of classics that are very divisive. What do you think? 

Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Why didn't you love it? "The title character wants to make friends so he rips off his shiny scales to share with his friends. This isn't sharing cookies at lunch - he mutilates himself so others like him. Disturbing."

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Why didn't you love it? "The tree gives her all for the little boy, to the point that she is left a dead stump with nothing left."

I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Why didn't you love it? "The mom breaks into her adult son's house to hold him in his sleep. CREEPY."

Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
Why didn't you love it? "That guy had a messed up view of human nature."

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Why didn't you love it? "I kept reading it thinking it must get better...and it didn't."

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Why didn't you love it? "Holden Caufield is such a spoiled brat!"

Friday, May 17, 2019

Ready to Go Book Display: By the Numbers

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. This month we are featuring book titles with numbers!

Recommendations for Adults:

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (Feb 1999)
A New Jersey bounty hunter with attitude, bail-bonds apprehension agent Stephanie Plum pursues a former vice cop, now on the run, with whom she shares a sordid history and a powerful chemistry.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Jun 2003)
Tells the story of the Buendia family, set against the background of the evolution and eventual decadence of a small South American town.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (Sep 2003)
Weaves three stories about 83-year-old Eddie, the head maintenance person at Ruby Point Amuseument park. Eddie meets 5 individuals in heaven each with a story to share, a secret to reveal and a lesson.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Nov 2005)
Working in Gaborone, Botswana, Precious Ramotswe investigates several local mysteries, including a search for a missing boy and the case of the clinic doctor with different personalities for different days of the week.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (Mar 2007)
In the aftermath of a horrific small-town school shooting, lawyer Jordan McAfee finds himself defending a youth who desperately needs someone on his side, while intrepid detective Patrick DuCharme works with a primary witness in the daughter of the superior court judge assigned to the case.

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (Apr 2014)
Born a free man in New York State in 1808, Solomon Northup was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841. He spent the next 12 years as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation, and during this time he was frequently abused and often afraid for his life.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Aug 2011)
Immersing himself in a technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty, and disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world's creator.

11/22/63 by Stephen King (Nov 2011)
Receiving a horrific essay from a GED student with a traumatic past, high-school English teacher Jake Epping is enlisted by a friend to travel back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a mission for which he must befriend troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald.

Recommendations for Teens:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2006, Anniversary Edition Dec 2016)
When Clay Jenkins receives a box containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends the night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Nov 2014)
When eighteen-year-old Marguerite Caine's father is killed, she must leap into different dimensions and versions of herself to catch her father's killer and avenge his murder.

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick (Mar 2012)
Finley, an unnaturally quiet boy who is the only white player on his high school's varsity basketball team, lives in a dismal Pennsylvania town that is ruled by the Irish mob. When his coach asks him to mentor a troubled African American student who has transferred there from an elite private school in California, he finds that they have a lot in common in spite of their apparent differences.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (Sep 2000)
In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (Jan 2011)
In rural Ohio, friendships and a beautiful girl prove distracting to a fifteen-year-old who has hidden on Earth for ten years waiting to develop the Legacies, or powers, he will need to rejoin the other six surviving Garde members and fight the Mogadorians who destroyed their planet, Lorien.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Sep 2015)
Offered a chance to participate in a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker recruits a team of talented associates to organize a plot that is threatened by their mutual enmity. 

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (Aug 2005)
When seventeen-year-old Ginny receives a packet of mysterious envelopes from her favorite aunt, she leaves New Jersey to criss-cross Europe on a sort of scavenger hunt that transforms her life.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (May 2017)
When one of five students in detention is found dead, his high-profile classmates - including a brainy intellectual, a popular beauty, a drug dealer on probation and an all-star athlete - are investigated and revealed to be the subjects of the victim's latest gossip postings.

Recommendations for Children:

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (Oct 1989)
The wolf gives his own outlandish version of what really happened when he tangled with the three little pigs. 

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Jan 2012)
When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.

A story-poem about the activities of such unusual animals as the Nook, Womp, Yink, Yap, Gack and the Zeds.

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone (Feb 2010)
Ruthie thinks nothing exciting will ever happen to her until her sixth-grade class visits the Art Institute of Chicago, where she and her best friend Jack discover a magic key that shrinks them to the size of gerbils and allows them to explore the Thorne Rooms - the collection of sixty-eight miniature rooms from various time periods and places - and discover their secrets.

How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague (Sep 2004)
Describes how a little dinosaur counts from one to ten, using the toys and other things around him.

High Five by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri (Apr 2019)
Animals present hand slapping skills to readers, just in time for the annual high five contest.

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass (Jan 2009)
After celebrating their first nine same-day birthdays together, Amanda and Leo, having fallen out of their tenth and not speaking to each other for the last year, prepare to celebrate their eleventh birthday separately but peculiar things begin to happen as the day of their birthday begins to repeat itself over and over again.

10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle (Jan 2010)
When a storm strikes a cargo ship, ten rubber ducks are tossed overboard and swept off in ten different directions. Based on a factual incident.