Saturday, May 30

Flannel Friday Roundup: May 29th

Hello and welcome to this week's round-up of Flannel Friday creations! While few in number, there is much to admire!

Friday, May 29

Flannel Friday: Superhero Logo Super Matchup

While I realize many librarians may already be "superhero-ed out," I've got yet another flannel to add for your summer reading repertoire!

Yesterday, we hosted our huge summer reading kickoff event. We had Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and even Merida (Disney princess superhero!) come out to get our patrons excited about this year's program. In addition to archery lessons and superhero training, I created some games and crafts for the kids. That's where this flannel comes in. It was a game kids could play matching a superhero to his corresponding logo.

Here's one kid playing the game in action:

He's doing a pretty good job, too!

Wednesday, May 27

Flannel Friday: May 29th Placeholder

Hello Flannel Friday friends! If you'd like to be included in this week's roundup, go ahead and post the links to your fantastic flannel feats in the comments below!

Flippin' fun alliteration will not be included. For reals.

Tuesday, May 26

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

Star Wars: Jedi Academy
(Jedi Academy #1)
Jeffrey Brown

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-0545505178
Publisher: Scholastic
Date of publication: August 27, 2013
Age: Grades 3 - 7
Genre: Science Fiction

Themes: The Force, bullies, friendship, students

Roan is looking forward to moving on to Pilot School, just like his brother, dad, and grandfather before him. To his horror and confusion, however, he is rejected admittance—and is mysteriously accepted to the Jedi Academy. Working with "the Force" and some sort of beam sword? Wrinkly, old green guys for teachers? What has Roan gotten into?

Part diary, part comic, this book is definitely a non-traditional format to draw non-traditional readers—and traditional readers alike. However, it was not my style. Still, it was good. Roan struggles with typical preteen/new school issues such as girls, new friends, bullies, and tough school subjects, but all while being a Jedi. So Roan is relatable, as well as admirable. Overall, however, the story was a bit dry—it's definitely more focused on the school drama than Jedi/Star Wars action. In the end, it's not my favorite, but I can see it as an easy recommendation for reluctant readers and Star Wars fans.

Readalikes include Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Friday, May 22

Professional Library Literature

Much like last week, I'm doing another laid back post. Mostly because these things are hilarious...

Have you seen Professional Library Literature? It's like...well, here, I'll just show you:

Classic covers made for the library. It is, indeed, professional library literature! Hilarious right? Here are my favorites...

Thursday, May 21

The False Prince

The False Prince
(The Ascendance Trilogy #1)
Jennifer A. Nielsen

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-0545284134
Publisher: Scholastic
Date of publication: April 1, 2012
Age: Grades 6 - 9
Genre: Fantasy

Themes: orphan, secrecy, scheming, truth, lies

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet he knows he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well. Who will win and at what cost? And what about the truth?

This book...irked me. But sometimes, it irked in a good way. Nielsen has expertly crafted a secret-filled, twisted-plot of a book that had me doubting myself quite a few times. But, in the end, it was still the predicted ending, which was a tad disappointing. But it was a good ending, which was satisfying...see how torn I am?

Also, characters were well-done. Sage was a really complex, amazing character who is extremely defiant and stubborn—so much so that I was getting annoyed with him. On the one hand, that's talented writing. On the other...I'm hesitant to read the other books in the trilogy. This is mostly based on personal preference. Overall, I'd still recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting, intriguing fantasy.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Tuesday, May 19

Fancy Nancy: Super Secret Suprise Party

Fancy Nancy: Super Secret Surprise Party
Written by Jane O'Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser & Ted Enik

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-0062269782
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date of publication: April 21, 2015
Age: Grades PreK - 2
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Themes: party, surprise, secrets, planning

Nancy is planning a party with her committee—that's a fancy word for a group with a job to do. But it's not just any party, but a super secret surprise party! So secret, she won't even say who the party is for! As she and her classmates prepare, can you guess who might be the star of the party?

Fancy Nancy is a great beginning reader series. Not only are the stories engaging, but they're great vocabulary builders. In this story, Nancy uses bigger words like, "beverages," "delectable," and "trustworthy," and then explains what they mean. There's also a list at the back reviewing the vocabulary. Nancy, herself, is also a great character—polite, caring, and fun. Great for girls and boys alike. I recommend this series, especially if your kids are fans of her picture books.  

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Monday, May 18

It's Only Stanley

It's Only Stanley
Written and illustrated by Jon Agee

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-0803739079
Publisher: Dial Books
Date of publication: March 17, 2015
Age: 5 - 8 years

Themes: pet dog, family relations, space travel, night noises

Mysterious noises keep waking up the Wimbledon family. "That's very odd," says Mr. Wimbledon each time, but when he returns from checking on the sounds, he's always reassuring: "It's only Stanley; he's fixing the oil tank." "It's only Stanley; he's clearing the bathtub drain." But what Stanley the dog is actually doing while his oblivious family goes back to bed is soon to be obvious...

This book, with the first read through, was pretty weird. But then I read it again, and it was more funny and more involved. It definitely takes a couple reads to find all of the little hints of humor, or hints to the story (think a little like Sam and Dave Dig a Hole). The rhyming text also adds magnificently to the story, especially at the end. The illustrations are super simple, but there's little things to look for, that add to the story and humor. So it was really fantastic, after a couple of times. I recommend it; see what you think.

The conniving pet with rhyming text makes it a good read-alike for Click, Clack, Moo and the other Barnyard Collection books.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Friday, May 15

Cover Reveal: Mysteries of Cove

Have you guys read J. Scott Savage? Because you should. He's got some great books for kids--author of the Farworld middle grade fantasy series and the Case File 13 middle grade monster series. He's actually been writing and publishing books for over ten years.

Turns out, he's releasing a new series soon, and it sounds awesome. Here's what he said about it...

"Like many of my books, the inspiration for my new series, Fires of Invention, came from the collision of two ideas. The first time the story occurred to me was while I was watching the musical Wicked with my wife. The moment I walked into the theater and saw the huge mechanical dragon above the stage, I thought, Wow! I have to write a story about that! A few weeks later, I was talking with my nephew, who is probably the most creative kid I know, but whose inventiveness often gets him into trouble, and I thought, What if a kid who had the talents of my nephew lived in a world where creativity was against the law? What if the kids were building . . . a steam-powered dragon? Bam! I had my story.

"Powered by great feedback from my agent, Michael Bourret, my good friend and author James Dashner, my publisher, Chris Schoebinger, and the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons, I wrote the entire first draft of the first volume in the series, Mysteries of Cove, in four weeks. This book is unlike anything I have ever written. There are elements of City of Ember, Dragon Riders, and Hugo in it all mashed up together in a world I fell in love with from the moment I started writing.

"I think what’s most exciting to me about this book is that it’s about giving yourself the freedom to imagine. To take chances. Too often we limit ourselves by only trying things we’re confident we can succeed at when what we need to do is give ourselves permission to fail. Often it is when we attempt things with no idea of how we can possibly pull them off that we achieve our greatest successes."

Doesn't that just pique your interest?? Well just check out the cover!

Yeah. Pretty much. Here's the blurb:

"STEAMPUNK! Plus Dragons! Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and 'invention' is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion--an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

"Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they've ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on--and quite possibly their very lives."

Hmm. I bet I can guess what they're building!! And it looks pretty awesome there on the cover! So, I don't know about you, but I'm gonna keep my eye out for this one, due to come out this fall.

Thursday, May 14

All the Answers

All the Answers
Kate Messner

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-1619633742
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Date of publication: January 27, 2015
Age: Grades 4 - 6
Genre: Fantastical Realistic Fiction

Themes: anxiety, courage, ethics, grandparents, family relationships, death

When Ava finds an old pencil, she doodles like she would with any other. But when she writes a question in the margin of her math quiz, she hears a clear answer in a voice no one else seems to hear. With the help of her friend Sophie, Ava figures out that the pencil will answer any factual question--but won't predict the future. Ava and Sophie discover all kinds of uses for the pencil, and Ava's confidence grows with each answer. But it's getting shorter with every sharpening, and when the pencil reveals a scary truth about Ava's family, she realizes that sometimes the bravest people are the ones who live without all the answers...

Yep, another Messner book in the same week. This one has potential. And really, some will really love it; I thought it was okay. The characters were really well done, but they were characters that I couldn't relate to, or enjoy. Ava has some pretty severe anxiety. And while this is a realistic issue, it got really tedious for me to read through so much worry and anxiety. Sophie is a little too flaky and her dad a bit too idiotic. Still, her grandfather and mother were great, with some good depth.

The story itself has a LOT going on; Ava has a lot to worry about. And yet, almost all of it gets tied up in a neat little bow pretty quickly at the end. It sort of killed the momentum of the book, to have everything working out, all of the sudden. I wish that it dealt more with how Ava was dealing with her anxiety about these variety of problems, rather than the solution to the problems themselves. That's the main point with the book, right? Dealing with anxiety and courage?

But overall, I liked it enough. I'd still recommend it to the right people. Also, it's a good readalike for The Fourteenth Goldfish.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Wednesday, May 13

Favorite Storytime Blogs

So I'm away from the library this week, taking some vacation time. But, I thought I'd still do a post today about storytimes. In this case: my favorite online resources for storytime ideas.

Yep, other blogs!

So without further ado, here are my go-to storytime idea blogs:

Tuesday, May 12

Rescue on the Oregon Trail

Rescue on the Oregon Trail
(Ranger in Time #1)
Written by Kate Messner, illustrated by Kelley McMorris

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-0545639149
Publisher: Scholastic
Date of publication: January 6, 2015
Age: Grades 2 - 5
Genre: Historical Fiction

Themes: pioneers, 19th century, search & rescue, time travel, golden retriever

Ranger almost passed the test to be a search & rescue dog but—SQUIRREL!—sometimes he's distracted. But one day, after a good squirrel chase, he digs up an old mysterious first aid kit in the garden. Suddenly, he's transported to the year 1850! There he meets Sam Abbott and his family (who are migrating west on the Oregon Trail) and arrives just in time to help the boy save his little sister. Ranger thinks his job is done, but the Oregon Trail can be dangerous, and the Abbotts need Ranger's help more than they realize!

Educational and full of adventure, this is a new series to give the kids who love Magic Tree House—especially those who also love dogs. Ranger really is an endearing and fun character, and Messner has some fun telling the story from his dogged (pun intended) point of view. The other characters were not quite as in-depth or as exciting as I may have hoped, but they get the job done. It's also a bit hard to fit an entire 5-month, 2000-mile journey into 125-page book. But for its target age group, this book is pretty good. I'd recommend it for sure.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Monday, May 11


Written and illustrated by Carson Ellis

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-0763665296
Publisher: Candlewick
Date of publication: February 24, 2015
Age: 3 - 7 years

Themes: dwellings, fantasy & reality, culture, stereotype

Home might be a house in the country, an apartment in the city, or even a shoe. Home may be on the road or the sea, in the realm of myth, or in the artist’s own studio. Messy or clean, tall or short, homes come in all shapes and sizes. What is your home like?

With handsome, subdued illustrations and simple text, this book is enjoyable for all ages. However, I was struck with the stereotypical depictions of some of the homes (black girl resides in an apartment with graffiti on outside, wigwams with Native Americans paired with colonizers on a big ship, Persians hide out with their gold and women, etc). The text also doesn't really lend itself to any sort of story or pattern; sometimes it's about opposites, sometimes it's about cultures, and sometimes it's totally mythical (moonians have homes on the moon). Though, this does allow for plenty of imagination as the reader's brain jumps through these different categories. In the end, it has good reader participation and the illustrations are pretty cute. See what you think.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Friday, May 8

A Laughing Librarian - Vol. 1 a sane librarian. Right? Right. So I'm going to post my favorite, hilarious book memes today. Because, yeah, Summer Reading is right around the corner and, yeah, some patrons do need to take a chill pill. But let's not focus on that, shall we?

By far my favorite meme. So! Without further ado, a break from your workday:

Thursday, May 7

The Black Reckoning

The Black Reckoning
John Stephens

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-0375868726
Publisher: Knopf
Date of publication: April 7, 2015
Age: Grades 4 - 7
Genre: Fantasy

Themes: death, love, family relationships, good vs. evil, magic, prophecy

In the final book of the trilogy, it is up to the last sister, Emma, to get the final Book of Beginning: the Black Reckoning, which has power over death. Only with all three books will the kids—Kate, Michael and Emma—finally be able to defeat the enemy, the Dire Magnus. But to get the book, Emma will have to take a dangerous journey, not only to other worlds, but to the darkest part of herself. And what about the prophecy that warns of their deaths if the books are brought back together?

This book was a loooooong time coming after the first two in the series. Which I read so long ago, I don't even have their reviews on this blog. Or anywhere, really. But I knew that I loved them, and waited eagerly for this one...only to be a tad disappointed. The most likely reason being that I just forgot the main parts of the story and had lost my real appreciation for it. So, I'll try to review it in a more subjective manner...

Emma is a really annoying character. But in an on-purpose, sort of way: she's the youngest, she's felt ignored and that she needs to (literally) fight and scream for what she wants. She says "duh" a lot and isn't as smart as her siblings. So I don't think she quite fits into the whole "going on a dangerous magical quest" persona. In the end, she does do some growing up, and so it (kinda) works. Just not my favorite.

And the story as a whole? Pretty good, with the whole classic good vs evil, and love overcoming death and what not—if just unoriginal. In the end, I still like the series, I'm just not totally in love anymore. Great excitement for kids, though, and a good precursor to Harry Potter and the like.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Tuesday, May 5

Eva's Treetop Festival

Eva's Treetop Festival
(Owl Diaries #1)
Written and illustrated by Rebecca Elliott

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-0545683623
Publisher: Scholastic
Date of publication: January 6, 2015
Age: Grades K - 2

Themes: teamwork, friendship, planning,

Eva Wingdale gets in over her head when she offers to organize a spring festival at school. Even with her best friend Lucy's help, there is NO way she will get everything done in time. Will Eva have to ask Sue (a.k.a. Meanie McMeanerson) for help? Or will the festival have to be cancelled?

Owls are trendy, it's true, but they are my favorite animal. So I had high hopes for this book. Sadly, this is definitely more on the trendy side, with cutesy illustrations and the ever-popular diary format. So will it be a long-lasting, appreciated book? No. But it still gets the job done in a fun way.

Eva is a pretty awesome character with a strong personality; it's hard not to like her. There's lots of owl puns and jokes that I appreciated, as well as some actual, useful facts. There are a lot of made-up words (which might be hard for some readers) but overall, it's a great stepping stone into chapter books. The obvious precursor to books like Dear Dumb Diary or Dork Diaries. Give it a try and see what you think.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Monday, May 4

I Don't Like Koala

I Don't Like Koala
Written by Sean Ferrell, illustrated by Charles Santoso

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-1481400688
Publisher: Atheneum
Date of publication: April 14, 2015
Age: 4 - 7 years
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Themes: stuffed toys, creepy, communication, change of heart

Adam does not like Koala. Koala is a little creepy. He's sure Koala watches him. Adam tries explaining this to his parents. He tries putting Koala away—far away. He tries taking Koala on a long, long walk. Nothing works. Will Adam ever be rid of Koala?

This was cute. And funny. And clever. Which, to me, is the picture book trifecta. Adam is just a sad little kid that can't seem to communicate to his parents just how creepy this Koala is. When he tries to take matters into his own hands, it just gets cuter and clever-er. Like when he goes through forest and hills and rocks (house plants and couches and stairs) to hide the toy and it STILL somehow ends up in his arms when he wakes up in the morning. So funny! Simple illustrations and text, yet underlying implications, make it perfect for all ages. See if you like it, too.

Find it at your library or on Amazon