Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Blog 7: The Fairy Ring

The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie & Frances Fool the World

Author: Mary Losure

Publisher: Candlewick

Copyright Date: March 27, 2012

Age Range: 10 and up

Lexile Level: 940

Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth: 2012
Horn Book Fanfare 2012

Summary: Frances (age 9) and Elsie (age 15) are two young girls who are seemingly bored in their small England town during World War I. They decide one day to create fairies by drawing, coloring, and cutting out the small figures. They then set them in woods behind their house and took pictures with them to make it appear as though the fairies were real. Because technology at the time did not include photo editing and the photos were not as clear as they would be today, people believed they were real. The trick went so far as to fool the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, renowned Sherlock Holmes creator.

My Review: I thought the book was quick and enjoyable. I had heard of these fairy photographs but did not know anything substantial about the story. The author tries to get into the mindset of the children and why they did what they did. The book is very much a narrative nonfiction work, to the point where I wanted to question the details. Losure cited that much of the material came from Frances's own book, which made it more reliable. However, I am not sure how reliable she is because the book represents her as slightly neurotic and it is unclear whether she believed there really were fairies. All in all, I would recommend it to children who are interested in fairies and fantasies with a note to read more about the history of it.

Similar works: 
The Coming of the Fairies: the Cottingley Incident- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (This work was mentioned in The Fairy Ring as being written about Doyle's belief in the fairy pictures.)

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron- Mary Losure (For those that like the writing style of Ms. Losure comes this book about another little known bit of history.

The Fairy Bible: The Definitive Guide to the World of Fairies- Teresa Moorey (If you can't get enough of the idea of fairies, here is your guide to everything about them.)

Book Blog 6: How They Croaked

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

Author: Georgia Bragg & Kevin O'Malley

Publisher: Turtleback

Copyright Date: July 3, 2012

Age Range: 11 - 14 years

Lexile Level: 950

2012 International Reading Association Best Non-fiction Award
2012 ALSC ALA Notable Children’s Books List
2012 YALSA ALA Quick Picks List for Nonfiction
2011 Cybils Awards Finalist (nonfiction)

Summary: This creative and darkly humorous book describes the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 19 renowned people in history. It also explains, in many cases, what happened after their deaths. For example, Mozart was put into a body bag, doused in quicklime to decompose, and buried in an unmarked grave. After each chapter, there is an interesting fact sheet with information about the time period, the disease, etc. For Edgar Allen Poe, this included a description of tuberculosis (which his family suffered) and rabies (the disease which may have killed him).

Critique: Despite the morbid subject matter, this book is highly entertaining. The author keeps it humorous and lighthearted seemingly to not depress the reader. There are details included that one may have a hard time finding out for themselves; however, Bragg has a thorough source list in the back of the book so you can verify the information. I think older children would definitely enjoy this book because it's full of fun and interesting facts. More importantly, it is kind of gross and they will love to freak out their friends with what they learned.

Similar works: 
How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous- Georgia Bragg & Kevin O'Malley (If you enjoyed How They Croaked, you should read the second book this team has written about the epic mistakes people have made throughout history.)

Famous Phonies: Legends, Fakes, and Frauds Who Changed History- Brianna DuMont (This is another nonfiction title that uncovers the truth behind some famous historical figures.)

Bugged: How Insects Changed History- Sarah Albee (Since you've looked at how people have changed history, you should check out this title on how some of our smallest cohabitants have altered history as well.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Blog 5: Titanic- Voices from the Disaster

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster

Author: Deborah Hopkinson

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Copyright Date: April 1, 2012

Age Range: 8 and up

Lexile Level: 1040

 Robert F. Sibert Award honor book
 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction honor book

Summary: This book uses recollections and interviews from witnesses and survivors to put together the timeline of what happened aboard the Titanic and the aftermath of its sinking. The "voices" heard within range from third or steerage class to first class. There are accounts from passengers as well as workers on the ship. While it describes the emotions and actions of the people, the author also weaves in the mechanical details of the ship to explain why the Titanic sank. 

My Review: Initially, I found the book difficult to read because of the changing characters and trying to remember who everyone was. However, by the time the iceberg hit, I was fully enthralled with the book and could not put it down. Because the book is being told through first hand accounts, it feels as though you are really there. You also get to hear stories from every aspect of the ship and can finally piece together everything that happened that night. I have been a bit obsessed with the Titanic since I was about 7 or 8, only a few years before the movie cam out. This has to be one of the best books I have read on the subject. It also provides enough of a narrative feel that even those who are hesitant to read nonfiction can easily dig into the story.

Similar works: 
Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on the Titanic- Gregory Mone (This is a fictional children's mystery that takes place on the Titanic; however, it includes very accurate details of the ship and events.)

A Night to Remember- Walter Lord (This is considered the unsurpassed account of what happened on board the Titanic. It would appeal to a more mature reader, but is considered a classic book.)

Explore Titanic- Peter Chrisp (For those that want to see more pictures and artifacts, this is the book to look for.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Blog 4: Witches!

Witches!: the Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem

Author: Rosalyn Schanzer

Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books

Copyright Date: September 13, 2011

Age Range:10 and up

Lexile Level: 1190

Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2011   
2012 Robert F. Sibert Honor Award
ALA Notable Children's Book
School Library Journal Starred Review and Best Book of the Year
NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book
NY Public Library's 25 Best Nonfiction Titles of 2011
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book

Summary: This book describes in vivid detail the events of the Salem Witch Trials. It begins with the accusations and a short history of how this community came to be and ends with the hangings and later reversal of charges against the accused. There are descriptions of each historical figure that took part in the trials from the accusers to the accused to the judges. The reader gains and in depth understanding of how this tragedy came to be and who the key players were.

My Review: While I have read some fictional works about witches and even one or two about the Salem Witch Trials, I had no real idea what happened during that period or the extent of the damage. While this is a children's book and has definite appeal to children with its pictures and easy text, the subject matter was at times difficult for even me to read. I would recommend this for older kids or to be read alongside an adult so they can talk over the details. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and feel like I have a better understanding of the historical events.

Similar works: 
You Wouldn't Want to Be a Salem Witch!: Bizarre Accusations You'd Rather Not Face- Jim Pipe (For the younger crowd, this book is a more light-hearted look at the horrors of the Salem Witch Trials.)

The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History- Jane Yolen (Another children's book about the Salem Witch Trials, but this one features beautiful illustrations.)

The Dreadful, Smelly Colonies: The Disgusting Details About Life in Colonial America- Elizabeth Raum (While not about the Salem Witch Trials, this book gives children an idea of what life was like during those times.)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Blog 3: Does This Book Make Me Look Fat

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

Authors: Edited by Marissa Walsh

Publisher: Clarion Books

Copyright Date: December 29, 2008

Age Range: 12 and up

Lexile Level: N/A

Summary: This book features short stories from well known youth authors such as Matt de la Pena, Ellen Hopkins, and Barry Lyga, to name a few. They feature a mix of mini memoirs and fictional stories with the theme being body image. Despite the title, not all of the stories are about being overweight; they include characters of all shapes and sizes trying to find their place in the world or society. Inside, you'll find a story where a dressing room mirror is the narrator describing the struggles of its viewers. Another shows that a makeover can change your life... sometimes not for the better. We also see that negative comments can often have more impact than positive ones.

My Review: This is a very entertaining read and while this book is about a serious subject (body image), it doesn't take itself too serious. There were many times that I found myself laughing along with the narrator at the absurdity of the situation. Overall, this is a great book for preteens and teens, as it shows that everyone goes through the awkwardness of accepting their body. It also shows that some insecurities never go away. My favorite quote came from the first story when Daniel Pinkwater is discussing being overweight and if he would ever want to change. He says "if I could be any size I wanted.... I think I'd rather be the size I am, but with a better wardrobe." I just feels that it shows that it doesn't matter about how big or small you are but how you feel and represent yourself. 

Similar works: 
Learning to Love the Girl in the Mirror: A Teenage Girl's Guide to Living a Happy and Healthy Life- Helena Grace Donald (The title really explains it all.)

No Body's Perfect- Kimberly Kirberger (This book is all about inspiring young women to love their bodies.)

The Ravenous Gown: And 14 More Tales About Real Beauty- Steffanni Raff (These modern fairy tales are about accepting your true beauty.)

Book Blog 2: Finding Winnie

Finding Winnie: the True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear

Authors: Lindsay Mattick & Sophie Blackall

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright Date: October 20, 2015

Age Range: 3-6 Years

Lexile Level: 590

Notable Awards: 
Caldecott Medal Winner of 2016

Summary: Finding Winnie tells the story of a young veterinarian who happens to purchase a bear before heading off to war. He raises the bear, named Winnie, along with his fellow soldiers and they all grow immensely attached to Winnie. When they are called to battle, the vet brings Winnie to a zoo for safety where she eventually meets Christopher Robin Milne and his father and author A. A. Milne. The rest of the story becomes history. The author is the great granddaughter of the veterinarian and the book is written as a story she is telling her own son.

My Review: 
This book gives you all the feels you could possibly want, especially if you have ever been a fan of Winnie the Pooh. Most of us (myself included) never knew how Winnie the Pooh came to be. I knew that the characters created by Milne came from real life inspirations, but had no idea that there was a real bear or that she had such an amazing journey! Overall, the story is sweet and inspiring; the illustrations are gorgeous with great attention to detail. The only thing I would suggest is a warning to children that you should not try to keep a pet bear!

Similar works: 
Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh- Sally M. Walker (Another picture book depicting the story of Winnie the bear.)

The Real Winnie: A One-of-a-Kind Bear- Val Shushkewich (This is a longer chapter book for the older readers who want to know more about the history of Winnie.)

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest That Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood- Kathryn Aalto (Going beyond the bear, this book discusses the real Hundred Acre Wood with beautiful illustrations and photographs to connect you to the stories.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Blog 1: And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three  

Authors: Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Copyright Date: June 1, 2005

Age Range: 4-8 Years

Lexile Level: 720

Notable Awards:
ALA Notable Children's Book in 2006
ASPCA's Henry Bergh Award in 2005

And Tango Makes Three is a 32 page picture book about two male penguins, Roy and Silo, that fall in love at the Central Park Zoo. The couple soon realize that they would like to start a family like the other penguins around them so, with the help of zookeeper Gramsay, they hatch an egg together. The result is a little girl penguin named Tango. The book shows that the family is like every other one at the zoo- living, playing, and sleeping together. The watercolor illustrations throughout the book are very detailed and the passages on each page are no more than a paragraph in length.

My Review:
I had initially read this picture book years ago when it first came out because there was such hype about it being banned in schools and libraries. Despite it being 12 years later, it is still a hot button issue with many individuals that this book depicts two gay penguins. I personally think that the book is adorable and simply represents a loving family. Not only is it depicting an "alternative" family, but it is also giving some information about chinstrap penguins and their mating rituals. The only thing I found disappointing was not with the book itself, but finding out that after it was written, the two penguins actually separated and found different partners.

Similar works: 
Heather Has Two Mommies- Leslea Newman (A now classic LGBTQ picture book about a little girl growing up with lesbian mothers.)

Stella Brings the Family- Miriam B. Schiffer (A picture book about a little girl who decides to bring her two fathers to her school's Mother's Day celebration.)

I Am Jazz- Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings (A true life picture book about growing up as a transgender child.)


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Week 16 Prompt:

I feel like the biggest thing that has changed for me in regards to books is that I have less time as an adult to indulge in reading. When I was younger, especially in my teens, I would spend hours curled under a blanket with a stack of books next to me. I could go through 5-10 books in a weekend. Now, unless something is assigned like in this class, I can hardly get through a book a month. I work full-time and have far too much to read for school, plus I need to make time for family and friends. I usually get to read before I go to bed at night. I loved that we got to read five books this semester of our choosing because I was able to finally pick up books that I had been wanting to read for years. I understand that I can listen to books while I'm driving or doing other things, but as I described in a previous post, I have done that and it's just not my cup of tea. Unless I'm holding a book in my hands (yes, a real physical book!) I have a hard time focusing on the story.

With that being said, I feel that books and how we read them has already changed dramatically and I believe it will continue to change. Even if I don't particularly like it, right now, we can read pretty much wherever we are with the use of electronic devices such as e-readers and even our phones. We can also carry around hundreds and thousands of books and it weighs less than a pound. For those that are already avid readers, this is wonderful. For those that aren't, that is where I believe we will start to have interactive books, perhaps something that takes you into that world, like a video game would. This would encourage reluctant readers to pick up a book. As far as publishing- that has already changed as well. People are downloading a lot of their books on e-readers and now people can self-publish in e-formats and hence, don't need to find a publisher. I'm not certain how much this will change the industry but I definitely feel there could be less publishing companies, less jobs, and possibly an inflated book market. I guess only time will tell.

Week 15 Prompt:

Book Displays
This is the number one way that I, and I think most libraries, promote their fiction collections. Book display ideas are practically endless. You can go on Pinterest or just do a Google search to come up with thousands of ideas. They can be as simple as a shelf with a sign or something more elaborate that really draws people into the display. There can be props involved or promotional material available that relates to the books being displayed. 

Social Media
My library is connected to a website called Wowbrary that does a weekly update and newsletter letting people know what new materials we have gotten over the past week. We feature this each week on our Facebook page as well. It lets patrons know what is new and encourages them to check out or place holds on the items. We also have blogs that feature staff recommendations throughout our whole system. Occasionally, we will post fun little booklists that appeal to different readers.

Book Talks
I think book talks are a great way to introduce different books that people might not know about. I particularly like them for the middle and high school crowd. Teens seem hesitant to pick up a book that they haven't heard about. Doing book talks for schools, either in person or via video uploads, shows teens new material and gets them excited about books, especially since they can discuss them with their friends. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Week 14 Prompt:

Let me start out by telling a little story about an experience I had with a similar issue. Years ago I was in charge of doing the book displays at my branch library. It was February and I decided to have Black History Month display featuring mostly fiction works written by African Americans. I live in a slightly backwards and almost completely white town. That being said, one of my co-workers was very upset with my choice of display and said that if I wanted to have a Black History Month display then I should also have a display for every other race. I told her I would be more than happy to do a display for National Hispanic Month and so forth, but there isn't a national month for Caucasians and that most of my other displays already prominently feature white authors. We never really came to an agreement, but because she was not my supervisor (who had approved the display), I kept it up. The books didn't have a large circulation but that was beside the point. I felt it was necessary to display acceptance and equality in a public library because that is what we stand for- freedom.
As for whether I would create a separate section for LGBTQ and African American books, I don't think I would make a permanent location of either of them. I would do the same thing I did above; I would dedicate a display during Black History or Gay Pride. While it is important to highlight these topics, I don't want to divide them from the rest of the collection. That is creating a segregation of sorts in the library stacks. The library is essentially saying these books are different than the others and must be kept separate. Also, the patrons may feel targeted if they are browsing a section of just LGBTQ books. I also agree with the idea that it "disrupts serendipitous discovery of an author who might be different from the reader;" we want people to browse and expand their reading horizons.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Week Thirteen Prompt:

I guess it just seems obvious to me that we should encourage and promote the reading of YA literature and graphic novels by adults, or reading of any kind really. As a public library, we have no right to determine what is or is not appropriate, especially for grown adults. We promote and protect the freedom to read. Furthermore, many of these YA books are considered "crossovers" because they appeal to more than one audience. Their subject matter goes further than teeny bopper love story (which is also fine if that's what you like to read). Graphic novels can definitely be more than comics; Watchmen is considered one of the greatest novels ever written. 

With that being said, there are several things that can be done to ensure we are serving adults, such as myself, who enjoy YA literature and graphic novels. We can continue to promote these materials through displays and booklists. I created a list a few weeks back for my special topics paper that has YA books that will appeal to adults as well as teens. Librarians can also offer book discussions geared towards adults that discuss young adult works or graphic novels.

One of the most important things we can do because there is such a stigma towards reading these books is making sure that we have an excellent selection available online. This included ebooks and e-audiobooks. If people are embarrassed of showing the cover, as we saw in the case of romance books, ebooks allow them to keep their reading selection private. Along these same lines, librarians can offer online book discussions so that people can still share about their books but in the privacy of their own homes. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Week 13: Young Adult Annotation

A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: Young Adult

Publication Date: March 12, 2013

Number of Pages: 224 pages

Geographical Setting: Europe

Time Period: Present

Plot Summary: Conor is a thirteen year old boy who is haunted by a monster that walks outside his house in the middle of the night. The monster begins telling him stories with important lessons about loss and life attached to each one. At the same time, Conor is dealing with his mother's illness and her almost certain death. As her health deteriorates, Conor's anger and frustration, as well as his denial, with the situation reaches a breaking point. It is at these times that he and the "monster" appear to be one. Siobhan Dowd, author of young adult novels such as A Swift Pure Cry, wrote this shortly before her death from breast cancer. Patrick Ness, another renowned young adult author, finished the book. 
Subject Headings:    Self-actualization (Psychology) -- Fiction.        
            Monsters -- Fiction.        
            Mothers and sons -- Fiction.        
            Schools -- Fiction.        
            Single-parent families -- Fiction.        
            Breast -- Cancer -- Fiction.        
            Loss (Psychology) -- Fiction.        
            England -- Fiction.        

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Paranormal, Melancholy, Character-driven

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
  • The Nest- Kenneth Oppel
    Similar to A Monster Calls, this book deals with a young boy visited by creatures that promise to save his sick brother. 
  • Clay- David Almond
    In both of these books, boys deal with monstrous creatures of their own imaginations. 
  • Far Far Away- Tom McNeal
    Both tales include a supernatural spirit. In this, a teenage boy is aided by the ghost of Jacob Grimm when he is left to support his family. 
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
  • This Star Won’t Go Out- Esther Earl
    This is a collection of writings from Esther Grace Earl, an aspiring writer who died from thyroid cancer at age 16. 
  • Positive- Paige Rawl
    The author of this memoir was born with HIV and while she was in school, everyone found out and she was bullied to the point of suicidal thoughts. Both books deal with people being bullied, often for something they cannot control. 
  • The Burn Journals- Brent Runyon
    When Brent Runyon was a teenager, he set his body on fire in a suicide attempt and suffered third degree burns over most of his body.

Week Twelve Prompt:

Reader's Advisory Matrix
Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart

1. Where is the book on the narrative continuum?
Highly narrative (reads like fiction)

2. What is the subject of the book?
Celebrity memoir involving faith, growing up, mental illness, and coming out. 

3. What type of book is it?
Memoir style collection of narrative essays

4. Articulate appeal
  • What is the pacing of the book? 
    •  It reads very quickly.
  • Describe the characters of the book. 
    •  The main character is the author Hannah Hart. She is a YouTube cooking celebrity. Her character is sincere and easy to relate to even if you have not been in her situation.
  • How does the story feel? 
    •   Sincere, heartfelt, open, sometimes cringeworthy
  • What is the intent of the author? 
    •  To share her experience.
  • What is the focus of the story? 
    •  She is detailing her life from childhood to the present as she dealt with a bipolar, negligent mother and realizing that she is a lesbian.
  • Does the language matter? 
    •  Yes, in a way. Hannah is young and her writing reads like a friend or a blog.
  • Is the setting important and well described?
    •  The setting is not necessarily important; her story may have been the same no matter where she was located as a child. As an adult, the setting of California and New York are more important because you can see how she was able to make a career. Either way, most of the locations are well detailed. 
  • Are there details and, if so, of what?
    •  She details her mother's mental illness in great detail throughout the story, from when she was a child to an adult trying to find help for her. For example, she visits her mother's home and goes into almost grotesque detail about the amount of cockroaches and dirt layered in the house. 
  • Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials? Are they useful and clear? 
    • None
  • Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience?
    •  While this book is in no way a learning guide or tutorial, Hannah clearly wants people to understand her experience and have sympathy for those living with mental illness, as her mother was. 
5. Why would a reader enjoy this book (rank appeal)?.
1. Learning/experiencing                   2. Pace               3. Tone

Friday, March 24, 2017

Week Eleven Prompt:

           As long as they get people reading, I am all for ebooks and audiobooks. In my personal experience, however, I highly prefer reading physical books, though I have tried the different mediums. When reading an ebook, I don't feel as connected to the story and the book. I like to physically see how far along I am and be able to smell and feel the pages. As for audiobooks, I have listened to them quite a bit, but I'm still not a huge fan. I mostly listen when I am driving and often find myself distracted. Chapters will go by and I won't know what is going on in the book.
         That being said, the appeal of ebooks and audiobooks is evident and a great motivation for many people to read. Ebook devices allow you to carry around hundreds of books at a time, all in your pocket or purse. For those who are traveling, this is a huge appeal factor. They no longer have to dedicate space to a stack of books. They also appeal to those patrons with vision or reading problems.  Most devices allow you to change font, sizing, and even color to fit your needs. Then, if someone had a large font, it would feel like they are moving very quickly through the book because they have to flip pages more often. Also, as discussed in "Steaming Up the Circ Desk," many romance readers feel more comfortable reading on a device because they can keep the material private. No one will know they are reading erotica at the park.
         Audiobooks have their benefits as well. One I hear most often from patrons is that they are able to do things around the house or drive while listening to a book. This allows them to read in moments where they previously wouldn't have been able. I have heard complaints or experienced it myself where the narrator makes or breaks the book. Sometimes the narrator is so good that a patron will try to find all of the books they have narrated. Other times, they have had to turn off a book because the narrator is awful. I particularly enjoy when an author narrates their own books because then you can hear exactly how they wanted the book to sound. A great example of this is The Graveyard Book written and narrated on the audiobook by Neil Gaiman.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week 11: Historical Fiction Annotation

Sarah's Key
by Tatiana De Rosnay
Publication Date: September 30, 2008

Number of Pages: 295 pages

Geographical Setting: Paris, France

Time Period: 1942 & 2002

Plot Summary: 
Using a little known horror from French history, Tatiana De Rosnay weaves a tale between two women living 60 years apart. 

 In Paris of 1942, the French police, working with the Nazis, go house to house for all the Jews in what is known as the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. A young girl named Sarah finds herself dragged from home with her mother and father. Before she leaves, however, she locks her little brother in a hidden cabinet to keep him safe and promises him she will be back shortly. Little does she know, she will break this promise as she and her family are sent to concentration camps.  

Sixty years later, Julia is a journalist who is assigned to cover the anniversary events for the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. She is a middle aged woman who finds herself in a unhappy marriage and desperate for a change. As she researches her topic, she discovers connections between her and the young Sarah. This takes her on a journey that will change her life forever.

Subject Headings:    Jews--France--Fiction.
                                World War, 1939-1945 -- France -- Anniversaries,etc. -- Fiction.
                                Americans -- France -- Fiction.
                                Women authors -- Fiction.
                                Family secrets -- Fiction.
                                France -- History -- German occupation, 1940-1945 -- Fiction.
                                Paris (France) -- Fiction. 

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Character-driven, Compelling, Thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
  • The Paris Architect- Charles Belfoure: Like Sarah's Key, this historical novel is also set in France during WWII. It focuses on an architect given the task of creating hidden spaces for Jews to hide.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- Mary Ann Shaffer: Both novels discuss life under German occupation during World War II. It is about a woman that learns through letters about a secret society going against the Germans.
  • Orphan Train- Christina Baker Kline: While one takes place in France and the other in America, both novels deal with children who were separated from their families and have never found their place. 

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
  • Night- Elie Wiesel- The author's firsthand account of his time in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.
  • The Zookeeper's Wife- Diane Ackerman- The true story of a Polish couple who saved refugees during the Holocaust by hiding them in their zoo.
  • Born Survivors- Wendy Holden- This title tells the story of three young women who were pregnant and widowed during the Holocaust.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Book Club Experience

Circle of Readers Book Discussion
Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian

Who is asking the questions, is there a leader or do people take turns?
A retired reference librarian is the leader of the book club. She selects the books several months in advance and runs the meeting. At the beginning of the book club, she will read about the author to give some type of background to the story. She then asks questions from a sheet that she hands out before the session. 

If there is a leader, does the leader answer the questions as well or let the attendees respond first?

The reference librarian lets the attendees try to answer the questions first. She will then chip into the conversation with her own remarks. She is very responsive to all of their comments and really seems like she is listening to what is said instead of trying to move on or speak. 

What type of questions are asked? Any involving just yes or no answers?
The books come from a book kit that is put together for the library. The book kit includes a list of questions to consider when doing the book club that are pulled from the author's site. The librarian simply goes down this list of questions. They are very thoughtful questions that require intellectual answers, for example, "do you think words construct meaning differently than visual images do, whether drawn or photographed?" There was a lot of back and forth discussion on this question alone. None of the questions involve just yes or no answers; they all require a discussion. If there is a question that can be answered yes or no, then there is a secondary question involved, such as "Is Lucine's mother, Mairig, a bad or negligent mother? Why or why not?"

Do all attendees actively participate?
There were ten attendees at the book club and all of them participated throughout the discussion. Not only that, but they were very quick to participate. Everyone seemed to have something to say. There were only two men in the group and while they were quiet at first, they definitely opened up and started sharing the opinion. Overall, all of the attendees were very knowledgeable and worldly. 

Do any attendees swoop in and steal all the spotlight?
I did not witness any attendees trying to steal the spotlight. Everyone was very respectful of people's turns and opinions. This surprised me because there were very touchy subjects brought up such as politics and religion. I can say that there were two or three that were clearly regulars and liked to be the first to answer.  

What is the atmosphere of the discussion, where is it taking place at?
The atmosphere was open and welcoming. When I walked in, they immediately started telling me that I should come to more of their discussions and gave me the book for the next one. The discussion is held in the large meeting room of the Merrillville Branch of the Lake County Public Library. It's a big space to fill, but they still make it feel intimate. 

Are snacks or drinks provided?
Yep! They had plenty of snacks for people. There was coffee, tea, and water for beverages. The leader brought in St. Patrick's Day themed cookies and a cheese/cracker/bagel spread to eat. Many attendees grabbed a little plate when they came in and others even showed up early to snack. 

What types of books does this book club normally discuss?
This group focuses a lot on literary fiction. They also like to throw in non-fiction titles. Next month, they are reading The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Last month, they read Deep Down Dark. At the end of each meeting, the librarian likes to go around and have everyone rate the current book from 1-10. She keeps track of the ratings and at the end of the year, totals them up and declares the best and worst books of the year. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Special Topics Paper

My topic was looking at the trend of adults reading books labeled as “young adult” or “YA.” This also included looking at ways to promote it via passive reader’s advisory such as displays and book-lists. Young adult fiction is a massive market that only seems to be getting bigger every year and it is a major reader’s advisory topic. While it is of utmost importance to promote to the teen reader, adults are reading YA novels more than ever. One of the first major crossover series was Harry Potter. This paved the way for a lot of YA books and series, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, and the list goes on.
Crossover novels are books that appeal to different ages; in this case, they are YA books that appeal to adults. Because these books appeal to the “pleasures of literary reading,” adults are more inclined to pick them up or recommend them to a friend.
While it is true that the stigma is lessening to an extent, young adult fiction lovers still find that they are judged for the books they read. Observers or fellow readers will sometimes believe that they are only reading “children’s” books if they are 20 or older caught with a YA title.
The ability to reconnect with our formative years is one of the major appeals to the genre.  We, as adults, are able to connect to the emotions of our teenage selves. There is a genuineness or pureness to the feelings of a young adult. Those were often the most volatile, all consuming, high anxiety emotions we have ever felt. Teens seem to feel things more acutely because their focus is more narrowed; they are developing the ability to see the bigger picture. We can see this in some of our favorite YA novels, such as The Hunger Games when Katniss Everdeen begins to realize that her decisions impact the entire world.
Beyond the emotions captured in YA fiction, there are other qualities that can attract the adult reader. YA as a genre spans many other genres- from mystery to science fiction to romance. You can go to the shelf and find a book for just about anyone. Another important quality of YA fiction is length. 
  Young adult novels can be promoted using displays. Obviously there are displays that appeal to the teen audience, but an adult display can have a title like “Not Just for Teens.” Displays can also be placed in or around the adult section to show that they are being advertised for adults to read. This also helps the adults that may feel awkward browsing in the teen section if it’s located separately. Then there are always book-lists and handouts that can be placed at different service desks or in the sections they are promoting.
Through searching the internet and various websites, I found a handful of books that came up on several “Best YA for Adults” lists. The sites and lists used came from Refinery29, BuzzFeed, InStyle, and Flavorwire. While these are not “literary” sites, they are ones used often by the general public and give you a sense of what people are currently reading and what is trending. I've included the list in case anyone is interested.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
A Court of Thorn and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
Crank, Ellen Hopkins
Divergent, Veronica Roth
The Diviners, Libba Bray
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
I'll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson
Jellicoe Road, Melissa Marchetta
Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
Legend, Marie Lu
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
Monster, Walter Dean Myers
Paper Towns, John Green
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
Sabriel, Garth Nix
Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi
Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle