You are currently browsing the archives for June 2007.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 18 entries.

Capturing your heart

  • Posted on June 29, 2007 at 7:36 AM

Be warned! Attending conferences puts you at risk for having your heart captured at any moment. Perhaps by an author, by a librarian, by an illustrator, by a first-time attendee, or even by some stranger you meet on the streets of a city. I’m accustomed to feeling the heart strings tugged at my school. Small children and their passionately-committed teachers have that power. Are you prepared to be snared by authors?

While waiting for a bus at ALA I struck up a conversation with a stranger. (If you read my articles, you can see I practice what I preach.) Today I received an email from her indicating she had been inspired to begin blogging because of our conversation on how to merge writing with librarianship. Her new blog LearningReads has just one post "The Author Who Burgarlized My Heart" but she does mention one of my favorite books from this past year The Book Thief by the incredible author Markus Zusak. From Markus Zusak’s website he writes:

"In one moment, there was great kindness and great cruelty, and I saw it as the perfect story of how humans are. When I remembered those stories, I wanted to build them into a small book, like I said. The result was The Book Thief, and it came to mean much more to me than I could have imagined. No matter what anyone ever says about that book, whether good or bad, I know it was the best I could do, and I don’t think a writer can ask for more of himself than that."

When I was young I saw two horses walking with blinders on. My grandmother explained the purpose of these as "some horses panic when they see everything and they need help focusing on just taking the next step." Sometimes we need blinders. My friend Allison took my hand and told me to close my eyes so she could lead me out of a large meeting room before I was distracted by any of my other friends in the room. I had somewhere I HAD to be and needed to focus upon getting there instead of experiencing random moments of exhilarating friendship. Sometimes we have tasks to do that may bring controversy but we must stay focused on the end result and ignore the nay-sayers while we work.

Other times we need to remove our blinders and help others to see that they have been blinded. When it comes to seeing the world around us, we all wear blinders. Unfortunately these come off one tiny piece at a time and often through the books we read and with the people we interact. If you have read The Book Thief, your eyes may have been sent in a new direction that you didn’t even know was there. Your vision will have changed. If you only read the first few pages and didn’t understand what the buzz was about, read this blog post by Stefanie to see why you must read beyond 30 pages. You owe it to yourself to give this a try.

Good books and good authors help direct your eyes to new views. Here’s hoping that today you experience a moment of vision.

Be sure to tell me which books have most inspired you this year. I don’t care what category they are in: children’s, nonfiction, YA, adult.


  • Posted on June 28, 2007 at 11:09 AM

Book Bindings can be beautiful. One of the greatest finds during the Library of Congress reception was the sculptured bindings of Paul Bonet. I am so greatful for the chief of the rare book division helping me to find a way to stand far enough back to snap a quick photo of this binding, yet be close enough that you could see some of the details. Sometimes we discover things that change us. I love books. I love the words. I love the experience. I love the relationship you develop with a story. I love the feel of a good book. I love illuminated letters. I love borders. I love contemplating how the text and illustrations are so integrated. Now, I love a beautiful binding. I hope we can still provide these treasures to our students so they can share our love. 

You can learn so much from the internet when you develop a new love. The Library of Congress records were so stale compared to the beauty of this work. V & A publications features Paul Bonet’s work in their title The Art of the Book: From Medieval Manuscript to Graphic Novel.   I needed to gather all my sources to try to convey a sense of the power of bindings. 

I am still looking because we don’t have enough out there. Where are the Robert Sabuda’s of book binding for children. Why do I write about this on SLJ? Because my students love Inkheart featuring a book binder! Did you know that Inkdeath is supposed to be released in 2008? 

In the meantime if you find a publisher who is truly doing creative artistic bindings for children’s books, please comment here and let us know.

Nancy loses her purse

  • Posted on June 28, 2007 at 8:56 AM

Driving home from ALA my friend Nancy suddenly realized she had left her purse behind us 160 miles into Virginia at a Subway restaurant. Then begins the panic. Where were we when we stopped? These are the facts the group of 5 of us could remember:

  • possibly exit 150
  • the Subway was 1.4 or 1.5 miles from the exit
  • we turned right at the light and then left before the next intersection
  • it was in a strip, not a stand-alone
  • we think there was an office bldg, possibly insurance office next to it
  • two women were working there
  • Breast Cancer support ribbon posters were on the wall by the bathroom
  • there wasn’t a Papa John’s right there or a Pilot gas station
  • we were either in Roanoke or we were just north of it
  • we had been there at 1:45 p.m. EST
  • we were a distinct party with my son easily recallable (5’11" Chinese boy with long black hair longer than mine – they notice)

You would think we’d be able to easily locate this particular Subway. My son had bought my sandwich and no one had maintained a receipt. I had a napkin so I called the national phone number for customer care and we began the search for the specific Subway. Fortunately the gas station attendants where we stopped pointed out that Arby’s right next door offered free wi-fi (See the importance of access everywhere) so while I spent time on the phone, Nancy pulled out her laptop and we began the multi-pronged search. Allison rubbed Nancy’s back while she typed and kept encouraging her to hang in there. Michael and Tim made plans for us to turn around and go back the 160 plus miles to pinpoint the exact restaurant and took care of notifying people of our change in plans. I was bossy. 

When trouble in a call would hit and Nancy would be upset, I’d take the phone away and deal with it. Sometimes you need a bull-dog or a terrier on the trail. When everyone was ready to quit, we’d come up with a new way to search. We used the combination of the internet, the Subway website, Google Maps (which really need to put interstate exit numbers on them), and the people network to trace this specific place. You see, not all Subways are connected to each other, not all are listed in the phone book, and not all are listed online. When it came down to it, we had to describe on the cell phone over and over the facts that we knew and once we determined this wasn’t the correct place, we would ask for a suggestion and a phone number of a different possible place.  We called and left messages at the regional office and called the national corporate office twice even afterhours for their help. They responded to us immediately. 

Nancy was finally ready to quit an hour later, but I wasn’t budging until we had absolutely determined the exact Subway and whether they had found the purse or not. Finally! Success! We found the right restaurant. They found her purse. They are shipping it overnight and all will be well. This morning the regional office returned my calls and followed up to be sure Nancy and her purse were re-united. The folks at Arby’s were pleased and we could drive on the next 5 hours.

What did we learn from this incident?

  • Never give up.
  • Pay attention to where you are always. (Patricia Cornwell writes about criminals being so much more aware)
  • Keep the receipts of your restaurants.
  • When traveling in groups, somebody needs to do the final check before departure (Is everyone here? Purses? Coats? Keys? Laptops?)
  • Make sure you include an encourager in your group to keep everyone emotionally together.
  • Know who is the tough one to call on when you aren’t getting through to others.

Maybe there’s a thought for a children’s book here. People are always losing things.

WiFi where?

  • Posted on June 28, 2007 at 8:37 AM

When a conference like ALA ends, some people assume "it’s" over with the last session. Good conferences provide thinking for the next year. They inspire you. They motivate you. They inform you. They ignite you. They connect you to others. While the ALA conference has ended, I have not stopped writing about what occurred and what should continue to evolve from this. I’ll try to keep blog posts very short so you can easily glance this week, but I want to give you an idea, a taste, and a feel for what happens beyond a few programs at conference. 

Why didn’t I do this the entire time I was at conference? My hotel did not offer free wi-fi. Plain and simple. I had my computer with me, but I also had packets & notebooks for each type of meeting I was attending and I draw the line at hauling more than 50 pounds of stuff into the conference center at the beginning of the day when I fully intend to come out with several bags of books. I believe all library conferences should begin now to negotiate with conference hotels to provide free access during our conference. They can do this. If any cheap hotel on the interstate can offer free wi-fi, ALA with it’s bargaining power of tens of thousands of attendees can negotiate this. 

This is not cheap chatter on my part. You see, I am now on council for ALA thanks to many people’s votes and I’d like to see a few things get done that are practical in addition to the philosophical. I understand the difference between guiding principles and micromanagement organization. Council is supposed to focus on the big picture so here is my view: LIBRARIANS NEED TO HAVE INTERNET ACCESS IN EVERY CONFERENCE HOTEL INCLUDING MEETING ROOMS WITHOUT EXCESSIVE CHARGES. We are the information leaders. We are the great connectors. We need access.

And yes, JW Marriott, I do object to paying $3.95 for 15 minutes of wi-fi in the lobby. I’ll continue to haul my computer to essential meetings, but excessive rates limit our conversation, our access to blogs, and our enabling others to participate virtually through us. I’m on it. Anyone else concerned?

How to Advocate

  • Posted on June 20, 2007 at 1:28 PM

Being a Cool Advocate on Hot Topics – isn’t that a great title for a session on federal legislative and policy issues affecting libraries in the 110th Congress? According to the description of this session at ALA, Stephanie Vance, "The Advocacy Guru," and the ALA Washington Office staff will update you on legislation and prepare you to be an advocate for libraries. Ask questions and play your way to effectively communicating with legislators. I’ve played in Stephanie’s sessions before and I like her prizes. You should play, too! 

Actually everyone should be an advocate for libraries. I preach this message. If you aren’t working on being a positive advocate yet you are the only person people see for your library, what kind of advocate are you? May I suggest you visit Stephanie’s site I learned that over 150,000 associations representing millions of members are lobbying each year. ALA is just one. We need to be working on advocacy at all levels: federal, state, local, organizational and grassroots. Have you seen the ALA-WO grassroots advocacy page? I think it has great information (even if I did help Erin in writing/editing/critiquing it).

For a different approach, don’t forget to check out the Library Marketing blog by Jill Stover. Jill states in her blog "I decided to write this blog because I’m learning a lot about marketing and how to apply it to my job, so I thought I’d share what I know with fellow librarians. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I’m definitely a marketing enthusiast who thinks that librarians need to know how to market their services. I hope that one day all librarians will learn to love marketing!"

Intellectual Freedom & My search for Controversy

  • Posted on June 18, 2007 at 7:22 AM

I’m having a radical moment. Usually when I prepare for a conference in the back of my mind I have a hidden agenda for the exhibit hall. Perhaps I’m looking for scary books for second graders, possible entries for the Volunteer State Book Award, potential winning picture books, horse books, new titles on Helen Keller, biographies on African-Americans (for fourth graders illustrating that the Civil Rights Movement, the Underground Railroad, football/basketball stars, and musicians are not the only African-Americans out there). The list usually goes on like this. But today I have resolved to seek controversy.

As I travel the exhibit hall for ALA Annual Conference in DC, I will be asking publishers which books they anticipate will be challenged, which could be controversial, and which books need to be championed to get into the hands of children. You see, I am happily reading all the interviews for the SBBT Summer BLog Blast Tour and today read 7-Imp (Seven Impossible Things Before  Breakfast)’s interview with Brent Hartinger. I felt compelled to start clicking through other links about him like the SLJ article on AS IF! by Debra Lau Whalen in 2006 and his own personal homepage Welcome to Brent’s Brain. I wanted to read more about his approach to Intellectual Freedom fighting so I went to his blog and to the AS IF blogspot with their mission statement: 
AS IF! (Authors Supporting Intellectual Freedom) champions those who stand against censorship, especially of books for and about teens. 

ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom is the main source I would use for all issues of censorship and challenges. Did you know they have a blog? Perhaps I need to expand my knowledge base of resources to fight for Intellectual Freedom. It doesn’t mean I’m going to tell parents which books they should censor. It means I want to proactively prepare for a wide variety of issues and challenges and prepare my brand-new principal for any possible parent concerns.  I want to be sure I have my principal on my team battling for student access to a wide-variety of materials.

I embrace a little controversy now and then (like the incredibly naive Michael Gorman posts) because we only grow in moments of dissonance or when gaps appear between what we thought we always knew and what might be a new reality. The SBBT itself came from a controversial decrying of kidlit blogs. You need to pay attention to what is happening here because it could change your basis of belief systems for children’s and young adult reviews. Perhaps you’ll cling to only review journals, perhaps you’ll embrace the diverse views available online, but what will happen from reading about the controvery is you will think and consider whether your views are valid or need tweaking. It’s the thinking process we need to engage.

Should make for an interesting exhibit hall tour. I’m looking forward to my tour through controversy. Who will join me?

S.O.S. Educators' Spotlight

  • Posted on June 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM
Ruth Small posted an intriguing note on LM_NET Thursday that caught my attention immediately. I blogged before on "Incidental Curiosity" and am always asking questions of children and teens about their habits. Ruth wrote: 

Do you ever wonder what kinds of questions your students ask just because they’re curious?

Have you been looking for motivating teaching strategies to use with at-risk students?

Want to create a wiki but don’t know where to start?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you will want to read the Spring/Summer 2007 edition of "Educators’ Spotlight Digest," the free, online magazine that puts the spotlight on you, the library media specialist.

In this issue, Dr. Joanne Silverstein describes her fascinating research on the kinds of questions kids ask online, some preservice librarians from New York City describe some winning strategies they have used to motivate students with a fear of failure, and Lyn Spencer describes how she went from wiki woes to wiki wows while collaborating with the fourth grade teacher team.

Just go to to read this and much more…

So I went to the website and was bowled over by that particular article. Dr. Silverstein, I am impressed. I have also been very impressed with Ruth Small and the S.O.S. project, so I asked Ruth to give us more information. 

Educators’ Spotlight Digest, created in 2006 and edited by Marilyn Arnone, is a free, online magazine targeting educators in K-12 and higher education who teach information literacy skills to students. ESD is part of the S.O.S. for Information Literacy project (funded by IMLS) and intended to showcase practitioners’ motivating teaching ideas and lessons taken directly from the S.O.S. database. One wonderful side effect has been that people now are sending in articles voluntarily about their experiences (e.g., Lyn Spencer’s article on wikis in the Spring/Summer 2007 issue) and we’re then turning their ideas into new

submissions to S.O.S.
ESD has a number of regular columns such as Teaching Tips, a Guest Writer column, and the College Connection, as well as two columns related to the resources of our two professional organization partners, AASL and ACRL.  My very favorite article, to date, was one that appeared in the Winter 2007 issue about two people who met while they were in our school media program at Syracuse, fell in love, and were married. They are now both in their own school libraries and they talk about how they
share ideas and help one another. It was a very sweet article; I loved it!

So here is your webwork today – 3 tasks. Subscribe to LM_NET if you haven’t already because you are limiting yourself professionally. Go to and see what you have been missing. Contribute via comments to this blog and others so you are part of the conversation.

Sea Turtles and Knowing Everything

  • Posted on June 14, 2007 at 6:05 AM

Thank you to the Librarian’s Internet Index for today’s links on sea turtles. I personally need to keep a list of sea turtle sources for first and second graders every year. I rely upon everyone there at LII to keep me current on a wide variety of areas. While many days the links flowing through my Bloglines account are trivial and not directly related to what I need that day, I keep scrolling through the list to find the new and the best sites so I can proactively plan for the next variation of a unit. 

National Geographic for Kids Turtles in Trouble – Endangered Sea Turtles Face Dangers on Sand and at Sea
Sea Turtles: Ambassadors of the Oceans "Why Save Sea Turtles?" Smithsonian National Zoological Park

If you are not a school librarian, you probably don’t truly grasp the breadth of knowledge school librarians must have to meet the needs of their patrons daily. If you have been in a school library for a single day, you have probably learned how to let your faculty know you

  • know a little about the subject
  • are excited that they have asked you to help improve the unit with new resources, techniques, and technologies
  • will gather some information and meet with them to plan in more depth within 1-2 days
  • will follow through.

We cannot know everything about everything. It is the nature of teaching to want to be able to know enough to inspire others to learn more while creating a constructivist environment with the learner in control. While we work to be the guide on the side, there is no guidebook big enough for the breadth of what we must know. I appreciate resources like LII, Tech Learning, TechDirt, and the ResourceShelf to keep throwing out new sites for me to swim through.

SBBT Schedule Wed-Sat

  • Posted on June 12, 2007 at 12:01 AM

Summer Blog Blast Tour Master Schedule part two Wednesday through Saturday:

Wednesday, June 20

Mitali Perkins by Vivian at Hip Writer Mama (
Svetlana Chmakova by Sarah Stevenson at Finding Wonderland (
Dana Reinhardt by Jackie at interactivereader (
Laura Ruby by Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy (
Holly Black by Gwenda at Shaken & Stirred (
Hilary McKay by Leila at Bookshelves of Doom (

Kirsten Miller by Erin at Miss Erin (
Chris Crutcher by Mindy at (
Julia Ann Peters by Elizabeth Bird at A Fuse #8 Production (
Carolyn Mackler by Gayle & Trisha at The YA YA YAs (

Thursday, June 21

Eddie Campbell by Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray (
Sara Zarr by Kelly Fineman (
Brent Hartinger by Jackie at interactivereader (

Justine Larbalestier by Kelly Herold at Big A, little a (
Cecil Castellucci by Gwenda at Shaken & Stirred (
Ysabeau Wilce by Little Willow (
Jordan Sonnenblick by Jen Robinson (
Chris Crutcher by Tanita at Finding Wonderland (
Kazu Kibuishi by Kimberly at lectitans (
Mitali Perkins by Eisha & Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (
Laura Ruby by Gayle & Trisha at The YA YA YAs (

Friday, June 22

Tim Tharp by Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray (
Justina Chen Headley by Kelly Herold at Big A, little a (
Ysabeau Wilce by Gwenda at Shaken & Stirred (
Dana Reinhardt by Little Willow (

Julie Ann Peters by Sarah Stevenson at Finding Wonderland (
Cecil Castellucci by Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy (
Bennett Madison by Leila at Bookshelves of Doom (
Holly Black by Eisha & Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (
Justine Larbalestier by Vivian at Hip Writer Mama (
Kirsten Miller by Elizabeth Bird at A Fuse #8 Production (

Saturday, June 23

Justina Chen Headley finishes out the week with Tanita at Finding Wonderland (

SBBT Schedule Sun-Tues

  • Posted on June 12, 2007 at 12:01 AM

Here’s the master schedule for the Summer Book Blast Tour. Please note that some authors will be interviewed on more than one site. Those bloggers have coordinated their questions so each blog will have something new to offer. You aren’t going to want to miss a single interview. Prepare to be blasted away.

Sunday, June 17

Gene Yang by Sarah (at Finding Wonderland (

Monday, June 18

Tom & Dorothy Hoobler by Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray (
Mitali Perkins by Kelly Herold at Big A, little a (
Sara Zarr by Jackie at interactivereader (
Justina Chen Headley by Vivian at Hip Writer Mama (
JustineLarbalestier by Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy (
Dana Reinhardt by Kimberly at lectitans (
Brent Hartinger by Eisha & Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (
Laura Ruby by Kelly Fineman (
Jordan Sonnenblick by Little Willow (
Ysabeau Wilce by Tanita at Finding Wonderland  (

Tuesday, June 19

Bennett Madison by Gwenda at Shaken & Stirred (
Shaun Tan by Elizabeth Bird at A Fuse #8 Production (now at
Chris Crutcher by Leila at Bookshelves of Doom (
Holly Black by Gayle & Trisha at The YA YA YAs (
Kazu Kibuishi by Sarah Stevenson at Finding Wonderland at (
Christopher Golden by Little Willow (
Cecil Castellucci by Mindy at (
David Brin by Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray (
Kirsten Miller by Jen Robinson (
Sara Zarr by Kelly Herold at Big A, little a (
Sonya Hartnett by Eisha & Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (