Dust from the Book Fairy

Archive for June 2008

I’ve just finished The Lightning Thief, and its sequel, Sea of Monsters, and loved them. The basic premise of the story is that the main character, Percy Jackson, discovers that not only do all the ancient Greek gods exist, but he is the son of one of them. (Telling you which one would spoil the first book a bit, so I’m not gonna). He goes to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for heroes–children of gods and mortal parents. The camp director is Dionysus, or Mr. D. On his way, he is attacked by the Minotaur. The adventures get better and better . Lightning Thief book cover

I’ve been teaching a summer enrichment program for rising sixth graders, and I wish I’d discovered these books while planning! They’d be a great introduction to Greek mythology.

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Morning Edition did a story about an upcoming movie based on the American Girl series of books. I just listened to it now, and got a thrill in the middle of doing the dishes.  (Mark this day on your calendar people!  Thrilled while doing dishes–an historic event!)  Now, I wonder what I can promise my husband to induce him to take me to this movie?

I LOVED these books as a child.  I think I read through the entire series multiple times–Borrow my limit from my school library, read them THAT NIGHT (or better yet, during school), return them in the morning, get more, lather, rinse, repeat, lather, rinse, repeat. I rediscovered them in my school library, and it’s still really difficult for me to read through that section of shelves without reading a couple. AGAIN.

As a kid, I got the American Girl catalogs in the mail.  I’m not sure if this was a failing in their marketing research or not.  There was no way in heckola my parents would have ever paid that much for a doll for me, much less for any of the stuff that you can get to go with it, but I loved drooling over the catalogs when they came.  If I’d been in charge of the checkbook, the company would have been well repaid for their postage.  Alas, it was not to be.  Couldn’t even talk my grandparents into one of the dolls. Sigh.

In the Morning Edition piece, a 26-year-old woman talks about her doll, Kit, which the movie is based on.   She still has it, of course, and recited some of the details of Kit’s story. Even though I never owned one of the dolls, I still remembered a lot about my favorite one–Samantha. She had the best clothes.  I wonder if there will be a series of movies–I hope they do her story next.

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After getting the grant to order some Playaway audio books for my library, I got to do the fun part: SHOPPING! (Shopping for books with NOT MY MONEY is my favorite part of this job). Poking around Follett Titlewave, I noticed that this year’s Caldecott was available on Playaway.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, you really must at least flip through it. It’s set in Paris, where Hugo lives in the walls of train station with his uncle and learns to are for the clocks of the station from him—until he disappears, abandoning Hugo to care for the clocks alone. Recently orphaned, all Hugo has of his father is a broken automaton (clockwork man) that he is determined to fix by stealing parts from the station’s toyshop. He’s caught by the toyshop owner who takes his father’s notebook of plans for fixing the automaton. In getting them back, Hugo discovers a secret about the toyshop owner, his automaton, and his love of movies.

So much of the story is told in gorgeous silvery pencil illustrations that I wondered how in the world Scholastic would manage to translate this to audio. We got it, and it has turned out to be one of the most popular audio titles at my library. For the most part, music and sound effects substitute for illustrations, but occasionally there are verbal descriptions that aren’t in the text. It is very interesting to follow along in the book while listening to the audio, which most of the kids seem to do.

I wonder if they consulted with the author about the audio version?

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So, another school year wound down. I’ve actually been out for almost three weeks, but I’ve been spending my time cleaning and decluttering, reading books written above a 5th grade level and reading other edublogs and libraryblogs. I was inspired by some of these, like IMC Guy to post a reflection on my school year. I hope that reflecting on what worked and what didn’t this year will help me keep the good stuff and focus on improving the not so good.

Worked:

  1. Collaborated more with my teachers this year. I got a few more to work with me on some projects. Still not quite true collaborative projects, but we went beyond dropping just the kids off for library time. Best of all, I think the reading coach at my school and I have developed a good working relationship. We’ve worked together on several projects like developing a larger professional library, planning family reading night and Read Across America activities, , and I think that’s all to the good.

  1. Ran a weekly trivia contest to increase student use of the library. This increased my foot traffic, and I was able to do some point-of-need teaching when I asked questions that required the students to use the computer catalog. Plus, just general goodwill towards the library. The prizes were paperback books.

  2. Adopt an Ugly book project. I still plan on getting the pictures I took of this uploaded. Some of these turned out really well, and the books got an updated look.

  3. Took the fifth grade classes lightly stepping through the blogosphere. I’d like to do more of that with my school library blog. I envision a page of student book reviews and recommendations.

  4. Used the school newsletter to communicate with parents better.

  5. Got a grant to add Playaway audio books, which stayed checked out and reserved the entire rest of the year!

  6. Weeded out old, moldy dinosaur & space nonfiction sections and replaced with new shiny books. Weeded out old & moldy chapter fiction.

  7. Started circulating magazines.

  8. Didn’t always dread the Kindergarten classes.

Needs Work:

  1. I need to map out my curriculum a bit better. I want fifth graders to leave me able to locate books easily using the catalog and the call numbers, choose an appropriate and reliable source in print sources, subscription database and on the interwebs, and correctly c ite a source and understand why they have to cite sources. And I want them all to have found books that they love to read. I just need to plan out how to get them there.

  2. Figure out ways to get kids to return their books on time. I still lost some this year, and that bothers me.

  3. Recruit some reliable volunteers to help during book fair. Try advertising it more.

  4. Investigate fund raisers that might be easier to handle than book fairs but that make just as much, since book fair is half my operating budget.

That’s a start. Any suggestions would be welcome!