Saturday, March 26, 2011

I fell into a bookstore and ...

Took a trip to our local children’s book store, Cover to Cover, and bought some great books. Not all new titles, but still great. In a few weeks I will be attending the Virginia Hamilton Multicultural Conference, held every year at Kent State University. This year’s speakers will be Nikki Giovanni, Chris Raschka, and Charles R. Smith, Jr. and I picked up the following books to get autographed. The Grasshopper’s Song: an Aesop’s fable revisited was written by Nikki and illustrated by Chris, and is an interesting retelling of this famous fable. There is a trial to determine whether the grasshopper deserves a part of the ant’s winter supply of food, which is a new twist! The illustrations are rather subdued for a Raschka book, but the two work together very well. Another exciting purchase was The Mighty 12: Superheroes of Greek Myth told in rhyming form by Charles Smith. I love this book, with comic book-like illustrations by P. Craig Russell, it gives some information about the major gods and goddesses of Olympus, and without telling so much that I can’t put it in an elementary library! My boys will be so excited to examine this book as they continue to devour the Demi god series by Rick Riordin. The other book I picked up for signing that I believe will be very popular with my male readers was 12 Rounds to Glory: the story of Muhammad Ali.  Fantastic illustrations by Bryan Collier helped this title win the Coretta Scott King award, along with Smith’s poetic retelling of important events in the life of Ali.

I also picked up two books about rabbits, although they could not be more different. The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravatt, really intrigued me as it attempted to explain the Fibonacci problem, a math study I had to read more about after I finished enjoying the book. On a back sale shelf I found a retelling of Snow White by Melinda Copper in which the characters are illustrated as rabbits done in a detailed oil painting method. The evil step mother is a beautiful, but evil white cat.

My last book, Story Time by Edward Bloor, caught my interest as I read the blurb on the back of it. “Welcome to Whittaker Magnet School, where standardized testing truly is the work of the devil.” A middle school tale with reviews like this; “ a dark comedy that skewers the national craze for standardized testing,” and “a no-holds barred, deeply subversive tale about modern education …” This sounds like the kind of book I wish I had written! I’ll report on it once I have read it.

What great titles have you come across during spring break? I would love to hear about them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring break - time to reflect and recharge

This has been a rough couple of months and I am really ready for this break!  The school library world is on a wild roller coaster ride without an end in sight.  I know that many of us will be faced with the fact that our libraries will no longer be maintained by certified media specialists, and am wondering what this will mean for our students and faculty.  Just in case this is my last year in one building, in a functioning program I love, I am going to use this week to decide how I want to finish this school year.  Do I try and cram in all the internet 21st century skills I know they will need for the next few years, or do I go back to the original reason I got into this career and share great children's literature to anyone who comes near?  Do I hide in my media center and wallow in my misery; I can't believe this is happening?  Why are "they" doing this to me?  Or do I continue to be an advocate for the things I know are important in the educational lives of my students?
Honestly, I spent the weekend wallowing -- reading children's books, eating chocolate and generally pining for the "good all days", now I think I am ready for action!  How about you?