Thursday, January 31, 2013

And the winner is ...

Who won my giveaway for a $25 Biblio gift card?  Let's find out!

Congratulations, Wild Orchid!  I'll email you to confirm.  Please respond by Sunday.

Thank you to all who participated, and to the many more who follow this blog.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Graphic is Great: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

It has been too long since I've reviewed a graphic novel!  Let me share with you my thoughts on Drama by Raina Telgemeier.

Checkouts: Coming soon to both libraries
Typical reader: Tween and teen girls and anyone else interested in theater or Ms. Telgemeier's works
Source: I couldn't pass up a signed copy that was available at Snowbound Books!

Synopsis: Callie loves theater, and she's thrilled when her middle school's drama production is announced to be the musical Moon Over Mississippi.  Singing isn't her thing, but she'll still be happily busy backstage, making the set worthy of Broadway.  But relationship drama of all sorts can be a bit distracting ...

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

I read Smile by this author a couple years ago, when it showed up in a Scholastic book fair.  That book is a nonfiction graphic novel, an autobiography of Raina and her teeth.  It's both amusing and horrifying.  I'd really recommend it for anyone who has suffered orthodontics or cosmetic dental work - but is not too squeamish.

Ms. Telgemeier has a great, unique art style.  It's very expressive.  Would you get what I mean if I say that it's cartoony yet realistic?  Because that's what I feel it is.  There's also great attention to detail, with foreshadowing that's handled well.  For instance, Callie finds a dress in the theater's storage area that doesn't suit the play.  But there will be some use for it later!

This graphic novel is a lot of fun.  The characters are all so vivacious in their quirky, adolescent ways.  They strike me as being older than middle school students - and I honestly don't know of any middle schools that can put on such large theatrical productions - but then again, I do find my 7th graders to be mature until hormones hit their brains and make them weird, haha.  Anyway, the characters are quirky, trying to find their places in life, exploring the labyrinths of relationships, and pursuing their interests.

Callie is quite the adaptable protagonist.  She's perhaps a little boy-crazy, but she can also roll with the punches.  Through the play, she meets and befriends two brothers, Justin and Jesse.  She crushes on Justin, but quickly finds out through talking with him that he's gay.  (He's a bit stereotypically so, being flamboyant and into theater.)  Callie has no problem with this, treating him just as nicely as ever and setting her sights on Jesse, the shyer, quieter brother who will be on stage crew with her.

This review was delayed last week due to inclement weather - or maybe just poor maintenance practices on the part of the local internet service provider.  Anyway, I feel like this was meant to wait.  Last night I saw the local youth theater's production of The Little Mermaid, Jr. (all actors 18 and under) and it was fantastic.  It's fun to tie life's experiences in with a book you're currently reading, or have read.  Both the cast of the real-life play and the one in this book are so talented.  Plus, perhaps some of my students who were involved will want to continue thinking about theater, and read this book.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

No internet, no reviews

Hello, my dear readers.  I've been without internet for a few days, thanks either to a nasty cold snap or to Charter Communications' brilliant "work on the lines and not tell anyone" maintenance plan.  It's hard to write reviews without internet.

Hopefully the internet will be stable and I can get some reviews up in the next few days.  Thanks for understanding.

And don't forget to enter my drawing for the $25 gift certificate!  Enter before January 31.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Feature and Follow Fridays: January 11, 2013

Hello, and welcome to the blog of a librarian moonlighting as a librarian (AKA Moonlit Librarian)!  I'm participating in another Feature and Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  Thanks for stopping by.

Q: If you could choose one supernatural being/creature to really exists what would it be and why?

A: I'm going to be completely different and say, "Santa Claus."  What could be better than a timeless immortal who gives presents to deserving children?

Don't forget to enter my drawing for a $25 Biblio gift card!  You can find the entry form at

It's Elementary: In Our Mothers' House

It's been a while since I've written a review of a children's picture book!  What I have chosen to talk about today is interesting on many levels.  It's by a Michigan author.  And it's been challenged and banned in several school libraries in various places across the country.  That always makes for an attention-getting topic.

Let me tell you about In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco, and why it's caused a fuss.

Checkouts: Not owned by charter school library; own, but not yet checked out at the public/school library
Typical reader: People interested in banned books; fans of Ms. Polacco's works; families that are different
Source: I read it while I was cataloging it at the public/school library.  I admit that I've polished off a few picture books that way, while waiting for files to load or whatnot.  Guilty as charged!

Synopsis: Two women adopt three children and raise them in what seems to the children to be a perfectly normal, happy household.  Some neighbors don't accept them for some reason, but in this house, different does not mean wrong.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

This is a pleasant story about a family that adopts three ethnically diverse children and raises them in a warm, fun, loving home.  It follows the family from when the first daughter (the narrator) is adopted, through to the mothers' passing and how the son's family now lives in the house.  It's a very feel-good tale.

The real world, before and after the book, has not been so kind.  Ms. Polacco wrote this book after visiting a class and being inspired by the children she met.  That might sound sweet, but this story was pretty reactionary.  The children in the class she was visiting was reading essays to her, about their families.  One girl got up to read her essay, but was immediately asked by an aide to sit down.

"No don't come from a real family...sit down!" said the aide.

The girl came from a family of two mothers and two adopted siblings.

Ms. Polacco went back to her hotel room and wrote In Our Mothers' House that night.  (The account is taken from a guest post by Ms. Polacco on the American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights."  Read the full article here.)

There are apparently plenty of people who feel the same way the aide does.  The book has been pulled from library shelves in Texas and Utah.  The Davis School District in Utah kept the book behind the circulation counter and required parental permission for checkout; there has been a news-making lawsuit filed against the school district.  Parents there had complained that the book normalizes a lifestyle that they don't agree with.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and parents have every right to say what their underage children can and cannot read.  But they should not infringe upon others' rights to read what they please.  The librarians in the district had bought the book for the collection because there are students that come from homes with two mommies or two daddies.  Yet the community continues to treat the children as if they do not have the right to feel normal or happy.

Does your local library offer books to make everyone feel like they are a welcome part of society?  Or do you have a tale of a locally banned book, that could have possibly helped someone feel better about themselves?

Don't forget to enter my drawing for a $25 Biblio gift card!  You'll find the entry form here.  The giveaway ends January 31.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

100+ Follower Gift Card Giveaway!

Ladies and gentlemen, my giveaway is here!  Enter now to win a $25 gift card (yes, I increased the amount) to Biblio!

This giveaway is open to entries worldwide.  Biblio is an excellent site where you can find tons of new and used books, from thousands of book vendors of all sizes.  I hope you like this prize.  I look forward to awarding it to someone on Thursday, January 31!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!  The winner will be determined by a random number generator.  Hopefully I'll have more entries than something I can choose by rolling a d20, haha.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Coming soon: Gift card giveaway!

Stay tuned, my dear followers!  I've passed the 100-follower mark on GFC (Google Friends Connect), and am going to be offering a gift card as a giveaway prize.  After some careful consideration and searching for options, this is what I've decided on:

A Biblio gift card for $20!

Biblio is an online store where you can find new, used, and even out-of-print books.  It works with personal vendors and a variety of bookstores worldwide, but unlike Alibris, Amazon, or ABEbooks, it does not take a cut of the profit (unless things have changed since when I worked in a bookstore that used it).  All the money from the sale goes to the actual seller.

This giveaway will be open for anyone worldwide who wants a chance at winning the prize.  Just please keep in mind that $20 may not go as far with variable exchange rates.

I'll have the giveaway up in the next couple days!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Yay for YA: Choke, by Diana Lopez

I seem to have been on a bit of a teen problem novel kick lately.  Here's my review of a fairly new book called Choke by Diana Lopez.

Checkouts: New to the charter school library
Typical reader: Middle school and teen girls
Source: Scholastic book fair, recommended for the collection by a high school student

Synopsis: Windy is a fairly typical eighth grade girl, in the "general population" of her school hierarchy, wishing she could change her appearance, improve her grades and her status, that sort of thing.  She seems to hit a lucky break when a new girl, Nina, comes to school and befriends her.  Nina even wants to be "breath sisters," but as Windy finds out what this means, she's not so sure she wants to be a breath sister.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Let me start by saying that while this is written below the reading level of the intended audience, I understand why.  The author is a teacher who encountered the problem dealt with in this book, and to get out the warning to everyone likely to be intrigued by "the choking game," she had to write it more simply than the grade level.  It's like how newspaper articles are written approximately to the third grade reading level, so the largest literate audience can benefit from them.  The struggling, reluctant reader can read an interesting, current novel that doesn't get too preachy, just as the top student in the class can.

So, don't expect the prose to be breathtaking.  (Sorry, the pun just slipped out.)  The plot is a bit predictable, too.  The characters and the realism hold the book together, though.  Windy is as quirky as any protagonist you'd find in a John Green novel, and is realistic and well-rounded.  She has high and low points, interests that any middle school girl would have, and problems any could encounter as well.  Middle school is a tumultuous time of establishing pecking order, and a plot of the story lines deal with that.  And what teen or almost-teen doesn't want to fit in and be attractive?  But self-image issues are not the exclusive territory of the young, and Windy's perception of herself is mirrored by her father's struggle to be less Latino to get a job as a TV weatherman.

I didn't find the book to be preachy in its message, which is an important message indeed.  Asphyxiation is not something anyone should be experimenting with.  It's hard to imagine why anyone would try it, but in middle school, there's plenty of peer pressure, and tweens and teens are risk-takers.  People can end up with brain damage from it, or even die.  Remember actor David Carradine's death a few years back?  This isn't just something youngsters try.

On a happier subject, I've passed the 100 mark with GFC (Google Friends Connect) followers this weekend!  How exciting!  I'll be celebrating later this week with a giveaway.  Stay tuned for details.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday: January 4, 2013

Hello, and welcome to the blog of a librarian moonlighting as a librarian (AKA Moonlit Librarian)!  I'm participating in another Feature and Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  Thanks for stopping by.

Q: What New Year's blogging or writing resolution have you placed on yourself?

A: My resolution is not tied to the new year.  This is something I resolved to do after my Marvelous Michigan Month in October.  I want to read and review at least one book tied to Michigan each month.  This helps me out with both of my jobs, and it also establishes something to make me stand out from other book review blogs.  There are other librarian blogs, other blogs that focus on YA/children's books, other blogs that highlight Michigan books (but tend to be more about adult books).  I'd like to be a bit more unique, while maintaining my diverse array of what I review.

Other things I would like to do this year?  Well, it would be good to get back into the habit of writing the reviews in a more timely manner.  I read Choke by Diana Lopez back in early December, and am still only partway through writing my review.  Oops.  It is tough to maintain a review schedule, since I'm working six days a week, with long commutes, and a tendency to be busy on my days off.  I don't know how attainable this ideal is.

I would also like to have a giveaway after I hit 100 followers on Google Friends Connect.  (I'm really close!)  This would be much easier to do if IndieBound and its member bookstores still offered gift cards that could be used at any participating vendor.  I will not support Amazon.  What I may end up doing is making this really personal, and asking the winner for his or her nearest/preferred independent bookstore and placing a gift card order over the phone with that store.  Still trying to figure out the logistics on that.