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Newbery and Caldecott Banquet

  • Posted on June 30, 2008 at 6:30 PM

Yes. The speeches were as unbelievable as everyone in the blogosphere is saying. If you weren’t there, I feel very sorry for you. I’m almost embarrassed to share these photos with you because they can’t convey the wonder of the evening. The scripts won’t be able to express the author/illustrators brilliance, and the audio CD cannot recapture the magic of the evening. 

If you didn’t slide in after everyone had eaten to sit on the sidelines and listen, you ARE A MISSER! I’m so sorry for you. That is one of the secrets of ALA conference. It’s free to come in just to listen to the speeches. The dinner was not free but it was very good, so much better than typical banquet fare. You knew you were eating something a little special. 

I have tried to include you through this blog so you could see what’s happening at ALA.
I wish you would come next time. You missed the chance to see these gorgeous people!

ALA Conference Special Events Photos

  • Posted on June 30, 2008 at 12:08 PM

Here are some quick shots from some "special events" at the ALA conference and more exhibit info. 

Authors were signing throughout the conference. I slipped out of a meeting to get my copy of this book. (Don’t tell anyone) The author’s daughter experienced "madness" as a teen. This story appealed to me as the author’s family dealt with mental illness and the author recognized that I was a member of the club. I don’t think they have a MHI-ANON (mental health illness anonymous for families).  


The tea cup was immense. Filled with 3 teabags and a special promotion, I’ll remember to go read Three Cups of Tea.
Did you know they are going to create two different children’s versions? One is a reader’s version and the other is picture book based. Won’t be out until Spring, 2009, but I’m on the lookout.

Some author signing lines went out of booths, around corners, and down hallways.

The India for Everyone booth offered knowledgeable people and many resources. Plus we agree that this vendor is absolutely gorgeous so we had to take her picture.

Aha! Another booth with GEOLOGY RESOURCES. Mikaya Press has a great poster "Geology is boring.. NOT!" Love it. I need it.

Mo Willems is just soooo cool. I met his parents last night at a reception before the Caldecott/Newbery Banquet. While my preschool & autistic children loved Knuffle Bunny (1 & 2), I have a secret favorite for two other characters. 

Get there early if you want a signed ARC. Nancy Werlin gave out every ARC of her new book Impossible. If you notice, the empty display on the right has a sign telling people not to take those books because they are display copies only.

Candlewick Lunch:
So excited to visit Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and meet these young adults. They were readers, reviewers, musicians, and writers. Suzy (reading Falling Hard) is the teacher who brought them. Ed (in the calm shirt) is known for his reviewing of every notable book out there. While Betsy Franco was so frank and earnest in discussing her poetry collections by students, I enjoyed hearing the students’ comments most. Can’t wait for their books to start appearing. They have a very mature outlook on the writing process and accepting criticism. I can learn from them.

Affiliate Assembly Region IV  (TN, VA, KY, NC, SC, WV)

AASL Affiliate Assembly members gather twice during ALA Annual conference to share information throughout our regions and the nation. We also bring to the attention of AASL Board concerns and commendations. As I assume responsibilities for ALA Exec Board, I will have to give up my leadership as director-elect of Region 4. I wanted to simply share some photos to let you know we have fun together. You should be part. This is a special grassroots school library group that has an impact and is heard. In fact, AASL President-elect Ann M. Martin dropped by Region IV to listen carefully.

ALA Conference photos

  • Posted on June 30, 2008 at 10:08 AM

More photos. I am so visually oriented. Hopefully these pictures will communicate more to you than my ramblings.

Saw this Gnomon’s Workshop booth and was very curious. They offer DVD’s of graphical artist training. Who is their market? Middle School students up to professionals is the answer. 

I was impressed with the indepth training on graphic novel illustration, anime, and so much more. 

I’ve seen the high school curriculums with graphic design courses and those art teachers need these DVD’s.

Randal McKee has a new book on Chinese papercrafts. He designed an insect mask while I was there that would make a fun up-date to my masks for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. 

Vendors were frantically rolling this series of 4 posters to give attendees. While advertising their popular teen biographies, there is a clear message at the top. 

I could only remember 3. Were they Read Think Create and Speak or was it something else? I’m going to have to go back to the Mason Crest booth to doublecheck my notes. 

While I visited, I pled for them to ship a set of posters to my school so I wouldn’t crush them in my bags. They said "YES"! I need to ask more often.

I asked different vendors what they recommended and took snapshots so I wouldn’t forget.
What an opportunity?! 

Tell McFarland about your book proposal. Just that thought made going to the exhibit hall worthwhile. I decided to wander around and see if there were other options for this. Linworth Publishing and Paula Jackson are happy to share their publishing schedule if you are interested in writing for them. Several other publishers suggested I stop by to chat about article and book writing. Sometimes I forget that I’m a reader, not a writer, and get carried away with the thought that I, too, could be a book author. Oooo.

Author Sara Pennypacker was available to sign her latest Clementine book. I fell in love with Clementine, then adored the Talented Clementine. Now I understand that it’s because if I had a girl, she would be a cross between Piper Reed and Clementine

One of the secrets of the exhibit hall is that Sage Publishing offers beverages. Not just water, but Diet Pepsi. Thank you, Sage group! 

Bet you didn’t know that you can bring your families to ALA. These two adorable girls were gathering their loot (I mean maximizing their relationships with vendors) while their mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother worked. Don’t you wish you could bring your children with you? My sons could carry more books for me and I’d have their weight limits on the airlines. They don’t need as many clothes as I do anyway. I could fill their suitcases with books, too. I’m going to go call #3 and #4 sons and ask if they’d like to go to Midwinter in Denver this year. If you have younger children, ALA does have Child Care. The ALA-APA group and ALA are concerned with Workplace Wellness and those of us with children. Worth checking out. Yes, this might eliminate some of your "excuses" for professional involvement if you discover that you really can have a family and be active nationally, so be careful. Reading and thinking can be dangerous to complacency.

When I slipped away for a Young Adult luncheon with Candlewick Publishing, I noticed Richie Parthington dining in Downtown Disney. Made me feel like paparazzi as I snuck this picture. Due to the abilities of digital cameras, I could hold mine at the waist and sneak a shot while I was looking the other direction. Very sneaky.

A perk of all those hours of meetings I attend is that sometimes I can sit towards the front and take photos of the speakers. Here are two quick shots of Ron Reagan:

ALA Fun in an hour

  • Posted on June 29, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Only 55 minutes on Opening Day (Sat.) to race around the exhibit floor during ALA Annual Conference! How can I find any of the fun things in this HUGE room? I’m going to start posting some of these pictures and in-between board meetings I’ll add the description so it makes sense. I apologize for the word wrap and will fix this when I have time (about 2 a.m.).

There is a game occurring throughout the entire conference that focuses on teams working together to accumulate knowledge. It seemed to take some time for everyone to grasp the concept and realize how they could work together, but participants tell me they are very excited now that "they get it." Debbie Reese posted an interesting objection to this game on LM_NET this month if you’d like to visit an alternative view. Da Chen

What a great name! I couldn’t resist chatting with Chen Sying-Sheng. I appreciate Chinese calligraphy and the wishes for longevity and prosperity. Looking forward to reading the book, also. This is one autograph that I don’t want to lose.

You could see how many people visited Da Chen because we were all walking around with the book held open in our two hands and blowing gently to dry the ink. Reverence!

How many times have I begged and pleaded publishers for my books on rocks, minerals, soil, etc.? To the right are three books published by Jerry Wermund. One book – Earthscapes – includes photos from Jerry’s career in geology. The other two books I examined included lyrical verse and haiku. I have to have these books for my old elementary library. Jerry decided to write and publish these when he was visiting 1st grade classes and noticed the gaps in the libraries. We just do not have enough geology books in our libraries. Students want to see these books because they are "real" and grounded. They want to find an object and identify it. Thanks, Jerry.

Geology Books for Children

  1. The World According to Rock
  2. Focus on Minerals
  3. Earthscapes

Gaming! There are seats available and great games for free. Time to slip in before it gets crowded again. 

This was actually a very quiet booth as everyone was so focused while they played.

Here I am with my new camel. She is so cute and keeps poking out of my hidden snack bag. I believe she is eating my vendor chocolates and storing up in case there is a candy shortage.
The California Library Association and Nancy Carstensen were having great fun promoting their summer reading program. Love the hat. More games. There is something wrong with this picture, isn’t there? How many times are the students actually waiting patiently for their turn while adults play? Maybe I look easily intimidated but they usually jostle me out of the way. Loved watching this lady head the soccer ball. At first I saw her from a distance and couldn’t imagine what on earth was wrong with her neck.
I’m such a fan of Big Cats by Elaine Landau. What a surprise? Elaine actually reads this blog. How exciting? I was afraid I was talking to myself again. 

Hi Elaine!

First – time exhibitors were throughout the exhibit hall. 

Loved this exhibit for the horse books and also the German Shepherd books. The author brings her beloved dog to school visits. We were able to commisurate that our babies (the shepherds) were getting older and shared tips for enabling them to have great qualities of life. 

I saw the trend for cowboy / cowgirl / Western adventures / Native American experience books were appearing at many booths. Can’t wait til my friend Lynn Caruthers discovers this booth. You’ll be able to hear her delight from CA to TN.

Danger! Danger! Free advanced reading copies (ARC’s) ahead.
Beware, people, they put magnets in these books that attract librarians. 

What’s the weight limit on my suitcase? 50 pounds? 

Hmm… how many books does it take to weigh 50 pounds?

I love little critters. These guys (or are they gals) from Overdrive  jumped into my bag. I swear. I don’t know how they got there. They remind me of Peeps in the library. Beware! You never know where they’ll show up in my middle school. Pan Asian Productions and Sheng D. Chiu have new animated video of their unique products. 

My family watched the Monkey King Tales this summer and we couldn’t locate any stories in our local library. The Monkey King is an important part of Chinese folklore. My father-in-law had been in the Chinese opera as a young boy in China so I was excited to see information on White Snake. There was even a Chinese zodiac book of interest. 

Can’t wait to see the animations! About time we had more English-Chinese materials available to embrace the cultural historical aspects of over 1 billion people on this planet.

Great photo of palms outsde the convention center. 

Don’t you wish you were walking with us through the lush foliage of California?

Jim with EBSCO is holding one of the "coolest" vendor swag items – a stain removal pen. It worked on the coffee on my sleeve and the chocolate on my hem (don’t ask!)
This puzzle is addictive. I love manipulatives. I can see this working in schools, also. Set a timer and students have 5 minutes to create a puzzle. There are 200 possible solutions so far. You can photograph the puzzle when a student completes it, label it with that student’s name and then force others to find a different solution. Very creative. During the conference this puzzle is a BOGO (buy one get one) and I’ve decided I NEED two puzzles asap. Sorry I didn’t have more time during that section. I’ll try to slip away at for 5 minutes later to catch some of my favorite authors. Fortunately I have a couple hours on Sunday if I don’t need to eat at all.  I have great roommates and Allison has stuffed my bag with snacks so I don’t need to stop at all. 

Shh! This is a secret. During that one hour of exhibit time, I picked up 3 bags of books for a weight of 60 pounds. Shhh! I’m hiding those bags from my roommates so they can’t tease me.

Allison Reviews Nikki & Deja

  • Posted on June 26, 2008 at 8:36 PM

Allison Roberts of Bargar Academy writes today on Nikki & Deja by Karen English and illustrated by Laura Freeman. Clarion Books/imprint of Houghton Mifflin,2007.

Nikki and Deja When Antonia, an arrogant new girl, comes to school, third-graders and best friends Nikki and Deja decide to form a club that would exclude her but find the results not what they expected. 

Did you ever have that very best friend when you were young? You did everything together. We all probably had one. We also probably had someone that no one liked and who tried to take your best friend away from you. 

Deja wants to start a drill club and not invite Antonia. Nikki does not have rhythm and is worried about being able to be in the club. Deja and Nikki’s friendship becomes estranged because of Nikki’s lack of rhythm and Antonia wanting Nikki to join her candy club.

This is a great story for girls that shows how true friendship comes through in the end. Here are some questions that could spark some discussion:

Why did Deja choose a club that she knew Nikki could not do?

What could Nikki and Deja have done to make Antonia feel welcomed?

Diane’s note:
Found this review on a website called Common Sense. How do you feel about sites that provide this type of information? Are they helping parents? Are they preventing challenges? Are they providing fuel for censorship? Be sure to read their "ten common sense beliefs" to know where they are coming from.

Also, great interview of the author Karen English on The Brown Bookshelf

Do you participate in GoodReads yet? If not, you may want to check out this approach to discussing books like Nikki & Deja.

Staples to the rescue

  • Posted on June 26, 2008 at 7:53 PM

Not the teeny-tiny metal that holds my paperwork together, but the red & white chain office superstore less than 3 miles from my house. Wed. night as I prepare to put suitcases in the car for my lovely trip to the airport at 4 a.m. I realize that <gasp> I have no business cards!

Some of you are thinking "so what? big deal." Remember I am transitioning jobs. My mail, my prizes, my books all will go astray since I can’t remember my new address yet. All the people I intend to befriend won’t be able to remember me. What if someone wants to send me a free book? What if an author wants to visit my school?

At 8:20 p.m. I’m visiting Trendity in the copy services at Staples to obtain plain, simple, text-filled cards. Before 8:45 p.m. I’m walking out with 500 business cards for only $14.95. Usually 100 cards costs $19.95 but they are running a special. 

I didn’t have to buy more ink for my home printer which I had just used up printing several thousand documents for AASL, ALA, council, etc. I didn’t have to buy the expensive business card stock. I didn’t have to design anything myself (which is good because I obsess for hours on cute icons). I didn’t have to swear at the printer when the paper went in sideways, the ink smeared, it jammed, etc. I didn’t have to wait for the ink to dry then separate all the cards and put them in a bag. 

Nope, I watched their machine spit out the extra heavy card stock and then a new machine I’d never seen cut them precisely. The clerk Trendity put them in two boxes precisely and I was out. So, Trendity, thank you for helping me out at the end of your very busy day and making sure I have a card to give to everyone. Since these are plain cards and don’t reflect my dynamic spirit, I intend to give them out to EVERYONE so I have an excuse to go back and make more interesting cards with pictures. Thank you Staples for helping me get the little things done so I can go focus on big issues.

OT: photos of MN/Capstone

  • Posted on June 25, 2008 at 9:14 AM

Yes, still procrastinating. Decided to share some photos with you of our trip to MN.

OT: packing

  • Posted on June 25, 2008 at 8:51 AM

Readers, I am procrastinating. I need to be packing for ALA Anaheim, reviewing about 200 books, re-reading all the AASL board, ALA council, and other documents, and going back to JFK to unpack boxes. Instead, I am fretting about the Inaugural Ball. I have to go this year. Worse, I have to stand where someone notices me and be announced. I can’t imagine anything worse. Oh, yes, then I have to walk across the room without falling down. 

Readers, there is a reason I hide behind my nice little blog here where no one can see me. I don’t do spotlights. I just want to do the work. Could I just slip in with the servers from the kitchen? 

Yikes! It gets worse. I have to wear a long dress. How can I go shopping for a long dress when I’m still going through the divorce and struggle to pay every bill? Let’s decide: electricity or new dress? Hmm! While I am very vain, I think the animals and children in my house would object to the 95 degree heat inside without electricity. 

So, I’m pulling out a dress from several years ago when I was much thinner. We are all going to ignore the fact that I’ve gained so much weight from stress. I am going to put myself in this dress and walk out there. Oh, no! It has spaghetti straps and I have no shoulders to hold up the top. Okay, Dress Barn is selling shawls so I’ll go get one of those really cheaply and skip buying coffee this month to pay for it. Here’s what it looks like on a hanger. 

Maybe I’ll post a picture of the dress on that night. I’m glad it’s black so I can hide in the shadows. Do me a favor and don’t look if you’re there then. I’ll be concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other and not falling. Thank goodness I only have to do this once. The next time someone asks me to serve in a capacity, I’m going to check on all spotlights required first. 

Oh, no, I just read the notes and they take our picture, too. Does this mean I have to do my hair? Don’t they know how many meetings I have that day? Anybody good with a few bobby pins? I don’t have time to deal with hair, too. There is a reason my hair is long. It’s called no time to get it cut every 6 weeks and no time to fuss in the morning with boys.  

You know what? This is so much stress that I’m going to throw some clothes in the case fast and go move several thousand books at JFK instead. I’d much rather work than worry about stuff like this. I didn’t have sisters growing up. I played cars with the neighbor boys and my brothers instead. Oh, look, the kittens have escaped again and are crawling all over Marshall. I have found another way to procrastinate and not focus on looks. PHEW! Saved from obsessing on looks. How do all of you glamorous people do this stuff? I just throw on a scarf and run out.

6th grader review # 2

  • Posted on June 25, 2008 at 8:37 AM

Laura Maynard, sixth grade student at Loftis Middle School and her aunt Allison Roberts share their thoughts:

Roscoe Riley Rules #1 – Never Glue Your Friends to ChairsRoscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs By Katherine Applegate Illustrated by Brian Biggs

By Katherine Applegate

Illustrated by Brian Biggs

HarperTrophy/imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

New York



According to Laura it is the most chaotic book she has ever read, but she absolutely loved it. Roscoe Riley is funny and slightly strange and has some good friends. 

Roscoe starts out in the time-out corner. He overhears his teacher talking to another teacher and draws the wrong conclusion. He is trying to save the teacher’s job.

The class is doing a performance about bees. The drummers can’t really behave. Their antennae don’t really fit their heads. Roscoe is sent back to class to get the antennae. He finds some glue and puts it on the antennae to keep them from moving. Then Roscoe gets the idea to put the glue on the drummer’s chairs so that they won’t get up and move around. At the end of the play when the drummers were asked to take off their antennae and go to the room, everyone realizes that something is wrong. The teacher, the parents, everyone couldn’t believe that he did that. The teacher understood Roscoe’s intentions.

He gets into trouble by trying to help. He doesn’t mean to cause problems, it just happens.

It is written in first person. Most of the time Roscoe is talking to you as opposed to the people in the story. 

Good read aloud for first graders. Second and third graders could read it independently.

Note from Diane:

Ever read a book that was so perfect for the age intended that you couldn’t wait to share it with others? That’s how I felt when I found Roscoe Riley. I just can’t stop sharing him with others. Everyone who has read Roscoe reads more. 

Don’t you appreciate hearing from a 6th grader about this book written for beginning readers? Do you have teachers and older students looking for read-alouds for younger classes? Remember Roscoe.

6th grade Guest Today

  • Posted on June 25, 2008 at 8:29 AM

Laura Maynard, sixth grade student at Loftis Middle School, and her aunt Cinder RabbitAllison Roberts of Bargar Academy share this review with you today.


Cinder Rabbit by Lynn E. Hazen

illustrated by Elyse Pastel

Henry Holt and Company

New York



Remember the days of class plays? The students/rabbits in Ms. Sparks’ class are going to be performing the play “Cinder Rabbit.” The characters in the play are the same characters in real life. For example, Winifred, the class bully, plays the part of the evil stepmother, and Frida, the helpful/positive attitude student, plays the fairy god rabbit. One of the funniest parts is that Charlie, the charming student in class, really liked trucks and wanted to be a truck driver in the play. The teacher had to keep telling him there wasn’t a truck driver in the play. The prince was not happy. 

Zoe, the main character, has a major problem. Wicked Winifred had told Zoe at some point that she couldn’t hop, and if she tried she would just make a fool of herself. Zoe believed what Winifred told her. When Ms. Sparks told Zoe that she had to lead the class in the Bunny Hop, she was worried about being not being able to hop. Fortunately, Frida convinced Zoe that she didn’t need to listen to what Winifred said, she needed to have confidence in herself. 

Laura was pulled into the story as if the characters had cast a spell on her. The story was funny because of the characters’ personalities and how the author exaggerated them.

This is a great beginning chapter book. It has some dialogue, but it is easy enough for young students to follow. The vocabulary is just right for first and second graders – not too hard, not too easy.