Category: Youth Services

Let’s Make a Change…

Shannon Hale, YA author extraordinaire and writer of many strong female heroines, recently had a very thoughtful post that I encourage you to take a minute to read:

“I knew he loved me when he hocked a logie at my face.”

To summarize, Hale points out the strange acceptance of boys being mean/cruel/unkind to girls as a way to show that they like the girl and the scary kind of precedent that sets. Hale was adamant that it stop with her–that her daughters learn that it wasn’t ever okay for a boy to be mean, pull hair, bully and be rude under the guise of “liking” her.

And then I picked up the Bulletin Center for Children’s Book’s review of a new chapter book mystery series** which cheerfully (with exclamation points) celebrates that the rival boy treats the heroine miserably because he likes her.  It reminded me of Hale’s post and made me pause as I considered putting an order in for that book.  Reading other reviews I find phrases like “finds out why he’s been bullying her” and “learns how boys show affection in fourth grade.”  Considering I am being asked weekly for books on bullying, dealing with bullies, and moving on from a bullying situation (for crying out loud I have a book list on the subject), I have to ask if this is a valuable addition to my print collection.

I can understand that children, at times, don’t know how to relate to each other.  I’m well aware that boys can be very different from girls.  I know many men to whom I cannot begin to relate, understand, empathize with, etc etc. However, that holds true for a nearly equal number of women, and I would allow neither men nor women to mistreat me because we had difficulty relating to one another.

We can’t on one hand actively seek to end bullying in schools and among children and on the other equally active hand, tell boys it’s okay to bully and girls that it’s okay to accept bullying as a way to show affection.

So let’s change the standard of boys mistreating girls as a way to show affection and let’s find literature that at least doesn’t glorify it.

**I haven’t linked the book because I haven’t actually read it and the reviews don’t make it clear if there is some parental intervention for the bullying behavior or at least acknowledgment that it is inappropriate.

Wee Reads: The Mid-Session Update…

Checking back in as we’ve gotten through Week 4 of this first session of Wee Reads. Overall, I’d say it’s going swimmingly–the kids keep coming, they’re having a good time, and no one has melted down at the idea of separation.  I lost one kid because he and dad weren’t quite ready for a separation storytime, but they are attending a family storytime elsewhere. The other parents are right out the door, celebrating the idea of running across to the adult fiction section for a book by themselves.

For those playing the home edition (and yes, I’ll have a Google Doc of Reading Recommendations when this is all over)

Week 2:

We started off with Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin. The “Diary” series are wonderful because there is a TON of biology and fun facts dangled before you without really beating you over the head with pedantics of “this is a fly, it has wings.”

Once you start with the Diary of a Fly, one must then have Fly Guy! Tedd Arnold’s books are delightfully gross and small children this very unusual pet.

We did more ribbon dancing and then into our chapter book, continuing with Knights of the Kitchen Table by Jon Sciezska. So far, they’d knocked down a knight.

Week 3:

I had to squeeze a bit more in this week because my “back up” book was due. I always try to keep at least one back up book in the room in case something goes wrong, falls though, isn’t working, or turns into a 30 second read.

We started with Melanie Watt and Chester. This went okay…Chester is a bit more of a one-on-one I think…there is so much going between the characters and in the artwork. Perhaps it we’d had a bit more time to slow it down and talk it through…

Next was a classic Berenstain Bears. There are a lot of these in our easy readers: Inside Outside Upside Down and The Bear’s Vacation. I’m not a big fan of how Papa Bear is portrayed in a lot of the books, so I opted for The Spooky Old Tree. It has just enough repetition and fun to carry through and it reads very quickly.  And everyone knows what it feels like to get the shivers.

Then we read Egg Drop by Mini Grey.  This, along with the Book that Eats People, has easily become a new favorite of mine. The subversive humor is just enough for this age group to get–they know where the story is going and are willing to play along. And the adults are chuckling through the end.

With parents sent onwards, we did Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes (by popular request).  But I made them learn the second verse (blame the Blonde and Think Big): Ankles, elbows, feet and seat, feet and seat….

And then back to Knights of the Kitchen Table and King Arthur’s court, complete with a scary Merlin.

Week 4:

This week turned out to be “return of favorites”–somehow I’d missed that they turned Little Bear into a television show. I can’t say I’m thrilled about that.

We started with SkippyJon Jones and my horrific Spanish accent.  Somehow I always end up with Speedy Gonzalez. I inevitably apologize to the parents for my bad Spanish. Singing, I’m fine…reading with an intentional Spanish accent–not so much.

We did Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes again, this time with a twist. I asked them, for the first round of it, to imagine themselves doing it while encased in jello. Then of course, we had to shake the jello off before we did the second round and I asked what flavor jello they had been encased in. There are more flavors in small children’s heads than the company making the boxes is ever going to produce….

And another two chapters…we’re making headway through the book.

This will go up during “Week 5″….catch you back here for more!

Book Review: Leaving the Bellweathers

 **Reviewed from a library copy**

Leaving the Bellweathers
by Kristin Clark Venuti

Meet Benway, the long suffering butler to the Bellweather family. Bound by an ancestral oath of service (200 years no less), he’s spent his entire professional career keeping up with an inventing father, a mother who loves to repaint rooms, and their five children–who rescue dangerous animals, stand up for anyone who is opp, and create imaginative “art.”

Benway introduces each chapter with a journal entry as he counts down the days until he’ll be free to go Far Far Away from the family to enjoy peace and quiet. He’s examining cottages, planning a garden, searching for a replacement and getting ready for his tell-all book about the (which will finance said retirement) to debut. Only, life is never quiet at the Bellweather Lighthouse and chaotic adventures that SOMEONE must clean up after riot around his ears. Only when the children begin to realize that perhaps their much overworked but beloved butler might leave do they consider a change–only with the Bellweather children, change is never what one would consider quiet and normal.

Venuti’s debut appealed to me from the moment I started seeing reviews and the book lives up to the high praise bestowed upon it.  Benway has a strong, clearly defined and refined voice and one empathizes with the deep sighs he utters only when out of the sight of his clients. She includes perspectives from the children of the family as well, bringing depth and providing motivation and the clear thought process of children and teens with a mission–rather than just singularly focuses holy terrors.

It’s a fairly quick read, middle-elementary level but certainly enjoyable by most ages.

Day in the Life of the Hedgehog Librarian: Saturday

This is my third weekend this month, wrangled around from holiday swaps, usual weekend, and trying not to use all of my vacation time in January. It’ll mean 8 hours on the desk today–four of which midday I’ll have help from one of our part-time desk staff.

9:00 Back on desk. Check the calendar for any programs I’ve forgotten:  there’s an X-Box Tournament today for 13 and older. Our younger gamers (11-12) will be crabby about that but we’re partnering with local gaming store and there will be adult, guessing they put the age limits in place.

10:15 Remind myself that patrons may be reacting not to me personally but to something in their environment over which I have no control. I was friendly and polite, that’s all I can do. 

10:23 Grandparent looking for shape books.  Point out Green labels on picture book denoting “concept books.” (Shapes, ABC, Numbers, etc). Shoot email to Madame Storyteller, are we going to move those to a collected area?

10:30 Plans for this spring (maybe spring break ish?): go through the entire chapter book collection and figure out what series we own. Our Lady of Cataloging told me there’s no way to do this via Horizon and I’m still figuring out what all we have, what is a series I need to check on. I did a lot of work with the weeding last year so that cleaned out a bunch of the “we only have book 3” but I want a better sense so I can keep up with new releases. 

11:00 Chat with Dr. Knitter Mom who I know mostly online. Hear details of her sock club involvement. Drool accordingly. Share Unique Sheep Website.  Part time person joins me for desk.  Get to hold Patron Age 7 months. 

12:00 Consult with Circulation re this afternoon’s tournament. Apparently people drove in for this from a couple of hours away, are already waiting to queue to get onto team list (limited to 16 teams I think?).  Make call to TS Dude to determine what time he’ll be in to wrangle, confirm no early sign up.

12:17 Books to expand reading of a boy who likes graphic novels.  Suggest Something Wickedly Weird, Horrid Henry, Batman/Superman “chapter books”, and Dav Pilkey.  Working through the Baker and Taylor catalog with list of “popular series” and building a series list of ones I know we have.  Checking to see if there are any new titles I need to put on order. 

Lunch–Quite a lot of gamers congregating, which makes sense for a tournament with no entry fee.  No early sign up means they are standing in the center of the main floor lingering. When was the last time we had a big cluster of 20-something young men congregating in our library excitedly? Hmmmmm

1:47 Thinking about going to watch the horde descend to the basement at two–as the Garden Club tries to come upstairs.

1:55 Chat with parent about AWE Stations again.  Early literacy games, touch screens, plug and play…. WONDERFUL things. 

2:00  The gamers have descended to the basement.  Peace reigns once more on the main level.  I’m back to the series lists.

2:40 Remembering with coworker how to add a row to a table on new website–need to update reading lists for Newbery and Caldecott. Search staff wiki for log-in instructions for coworker to new site.Can’t find it, so email to Web designer. 

3:25 Patrons Age 7 and 5 (with mom) are here to pick up their display. We have a huge circular window with shelves (“the porthole”) where we have kids display collections one month at a time.  Littlest Pet Shop is on the way out–snowglobes should be arriving tomorrow. There is a full two year waiting list for this, it’s popular.

3:45 Patron Age 6 comes by to tell me he’s not coming to storytime Monday but will be in the next week. Homeschooling Mom and I discuss audiobooks for family to listen to at lunchtime.  Current choice is Beverly Cleary’s Mouse and the Motorcycle. Patron looking for plays and how to use self-check.

3:52 Winx movie? Putting holds on Psychic Academy graphic novels. 

4:16 Check book drop–we do this 3-4 times a day to verify that it went back down after the Circ Aides clear it. We have an ancient bookdrop that sinks slowly to ground level.  The noise it makes when it’s below zero is hard to describe. 

4:45  Wish patrons wouldn’t repeatedly rush in 15-5 minutes before we close to frantically grab things. The kids are instantly stressed, can’t take the time to browse and it triggers a lot of frustration for them–which means the library visit is rarely a happy one. 

4:54 One more hold on a Fairy Chronicles book.  Patron Age 12 needs to use the phone for a ride home.

Try again on Sunday for 1-5 on Desk….

Day in the Life of the Hedgehog Librarian: Last Thursday

I’m coming to this party a little late but I’m going to try and keep track today. Times are approximate


9 a.m. Desk time for four hours. Log into Horizon, Intranet, Meebo, Email, Google Reader. First patron is in just after doors open, dad looking for Clifford videos.

9:30  C brings down holds from Tech Services.  All of them are “mine” (chapter books): a new Tiara Club book (too insipid for words), Powerless by Matthew Cody (great cover, superhero kids losing their powers), and one of the Mother Daughter Book Club Books (sigh). 

9:45 : Questions about books on shadows and electricity. Patron decides Margaret Brown’s book Shadow is too scary for the three year olds she’ll be reading to.

10:05 Chinese New Year books.  Chinese New Year is Valentines Day this year.  We have a few picture books and a couple of non fiction books but not enough for a display.  Current displays are Hugs and Kisses and Dental Health.

10:08 Deaf patron looking for coloring books. We don’t have those in our collection.

10:23 Plot to become next Ron Roy/Vivian French.  Same story over and over and over….and the kids can’t get enough of them.

10:30 Phonics books with short vowel sounds…wade through shelf of phonics.  Lots of different varieties, but only one set that really has separate vowel sounds that will work.  Checking my own holds–I’d set everything to suspended while I was in Egypt.  Now things are back on and coming in droves. With teen books that I’m getting from other places and other things I’m just interested in seeing at “some point” I’m setting suspension dates on for a week or two out so that I’m not totally overwhelmed. So far five things in for me to pick up and four more on their way between work and personal cards. The pile of children’s books on my desk that I want to skim and decide if to order or recommend is getting high.

10:45 Adding D’s DVD orders to the system. She selects from the journals, I do the data entry. This is, I’m told,  because I type really fast. Only the teen librarian and I do our own data entry on orders. I’m too much of a control freak and shuffle lists around too much not to do it for myself. Check with one of our Ladies of Cataloging regarding when the acquisitions module will stop defaulting to 2009 codes. It takes just an extra second to change it to the 2010 code but those seconds add up and room for error is high when I’m going through a big list. Apparently software won’t let us change defaults until old budgets are closed.  But they’re just about finished upstairs. Inflexible proprietary software….*sigh*….

11:02 Fraggle Rock the complete animated series is out on DVD. Also, how do you have Season 1.3?

11:21 Started the day with 60 emails in my inbox. Would like to cut that number in half at minimum.

11:30 Sign up for National History Day Judging Training. Not sure if I can actually do the judging sessions, have to consult with day planner and actual dates/times. Teen Librarian and several Ref Libs do this, so desk coverage needs to be determined before I sign up. Still, at least training would be good. 

12:30 Finding books on divorce for Patron Age Tween’s mom. Never a favorite.

12:45 Children’s lit course from uni streams in.  This professor always pulls all of our versions of Cinderella for one of her sections.  We have about 30 from the various cultures.

1-ish Suck down a Soup-at-Hand.  I really want a 1/4 lb of sliced Boars Head turkey and a few slices of American.  But as I can’t find Boars Head in this state, going for straight calories.

1:30-3 ish Go through missing materials withdrawn in November and December. A lot of the Goosebumps books are gone. I weeded a bunch though so wondering if we’re overlapping somehow. I’ve finally replaced the really ratty originals with the new shiny repubs but I think Stine might be waning a little.  Start through a pile of ARCs that Madame Storyteller brought back from Midwinter. Actually got caught in one, which means I’ve *gasp* read at work and found one I really am looking forward to recommending this fall–not due out til mid-July.  Baffling at the number of books/series Kathryn Lasky has going at the moment (3 series: spiders, wolves, mermaids and 1 historical novel).

4:15 Visit with Knitter Patron Age 11.  Decide on spring project for her.  Discuss challenges of knitting with right hand in a cast.

til 5: Attempt to dig through more of my desk, trade journals, emails, etc.