Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The Battle of the (Kids') Books has moved into Round Three with an unexpected turn (at least for this blogger).  Charles and Emma will have to stay behind.  The Lost Conspiracy moves into the finals.

The Lost Conspiracy kept me thinking long after I read it.  Its characters, including the volcanoes, were clever and deep.  But I fell in love with Charles and Emma and their children and their struggles and their Victorian life.  It saddens me to leave them behind.

  Megan Whalen Turner gives her reasoning in today's post.   Read it.  Read Charles and Emma and The Lost Conspiracy.  Read ALL the books in this contest.  You will not regret it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Battle of the Kids' Books

Shannon Hale sent Tales from Outer Suburbia on to the semi-finals!!!  And, alas, The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan bit the dust (groan).  The Battle draws ever closer to the conclusion.  Tomorrow, Round Three begins when Charles and Emma takes on The Lost Conspiracy.

The suspense is becoming almost unbearable.  The last four books are all soooooo good and so different from each other.  Stay tuned!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Round Two continues

Today, Marching for Freedom and A Season for Gifts entered the ring.  Although anything Richard Peck writes is clever and well-designed, a fictional family tale of life in the Midwest of the 1950s, even with the fascinating Mrs. Dowdel, is no match for the real life struggle of teens in the 1960s to earn basic rights for their families and themselves.

Christopher Paul Curtis does a great job of comparing these two books.  Marching for Freedom is walking on to Round Three. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Charles and Emma

I am catching up on the Battle of the Kids' Books and finished Deborah Heiligman's Charles and Emma : the Darwins' leap of faith, last night.  What an absolutely riveting story!  What likeable, devoted people!  The description of the way they managed to reconcile their differences of belief was hopeful and edifying.  I kept thinking, "This would make a great movie!"  A movie was made last year, Creation, that covered the same ground.  However, it's doubtful that that movie had Heiligman's sensitive touch and attention to research.

I have only two more books to read of the original 16 but I have chosen my final bracket.  I expect that Tales from Outer Suburbia will go head to head with Charles and Emma.  I will be happy if this is the case and I don't care which one wins.

Thanks go to the people at SLJ for coming up with this competition.   The past two weeks have led me into books I might have passed over.  It has been exciting and fun and although I know which books I want to go to the end of the line, I will be watching closely to see how the judges make the rest of their picks.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Round 2, Match 2

So, did Percy Jackson rise victorious?  Or did almost invisible Hathin of the Lace tribe finally get the credit she deserves?  Angela Johnson had to choose between The Last Olympian and The Lost Conspiracy today.  Last-lost, lost - last?  Which one won?  Angela has to admit, like Julius Lester did a few days ago, that certain types of books just don't appeal to her.  Her argument for her choice is convincing.  But, I never had a doubt who would go on to the next round.

Hathin has received more accolades for her hard work, dedication, sisterly devotion and Machiavellian strategies.  The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge will fight again.  Sorry, Percy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Yes, Battle of the Kids' Books fans, Round Two has already taken place.  M. T. Anderson had to choose between The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacquelyn Kelly and Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman.  My personal choice would be Calpurnia but my choice does not count, nor should it, since I only read the first two chapters of Charles and Emma.  Anderson gives a clever, and very full defense for his choice.  Read it.  And then read the books.  Perhaps, you will agree with me or perhaps you will agree with M. T. Anderson who chose....
Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman!  The Darwins move on to Round Three.

Tomorrow, Percy Jackson  from The Last Olympian will lock horns with the Lace from The Lost Conspiracy.  I KNEW I should have read those Percy Jackson books!!! My choice for this bracket is The Lost Conspiracy but once again it is not the best informed decision.  Which of these two book do YOU think should move on to Round Three?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reading to children

When should you stop reading out loud to or with your child?  Parents often ask teachers and liibrarians that question.  In this New York Times article, a school librarian and his daughter decided that the start of college was the right time to stop.

Jim Bronzina and his daughter, Kristin, started The Streak in fourth grade by aiming to read 100 nights in a row.  The Streak ended on Kristin's first day of college over 3000 nights later.

Most parents feel that reading with their children should end soon after the child is comfortable reading alone.  Jim Bronzina and I disagree.  Sometimes books need to be shared.  A nightly ritual of reading a chapter or two together creates a family language and a love of reading. 

So, slow down.  Grab that third or fifth grader and read a chapter of the first Percy Jackson novel or Dear Dumb Diary.  You only have to share ten minutes.  Maybe you and your child can beat the Bronzina's Streak. 

Some of my all-time favorite read-togethers include The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolien, almost anything by Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising series,  Little House on the Prairie  and the original, uncut Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne.  Start that last one early and revisit from time to time.  Children grow into Milne's dry British humor slowly.  Re-reading favorites is STRONGLY advised.

Nominate your favorite read-together books by responding to this post. 

Round One Is Done

Today marks the final match of Round One of The Battle of the Kids' Books.  Whew!  This has been a wild ride.  Today's judge, Julius Lester, had to choose between Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan and When Your Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Tan's book is a wonder of short stories and illustration.  Stead's book is an intriguing puzzle and sometimes a little creepy.  Lester explains clearly how a reader's experience and preferences color the reading experience.

The final winner of Round One is.....Tales from Outer Surburbia.    Half of the Parkland Community Library's YS staff was right in predicting today's winner.

Tomorrow, Round Two begins.  It is the Battle of the Evolutions!  Charles and Emma :The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman clashes with The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.  May the best book win!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Graphics rule!

The books in today's Battle of the Kids' Books' match are both visually striking.  Sweethearts of Rhythm is illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, one of the supreme beings of illustration.  Every painting is a treat.  Marilyn Nelson's poems tell the story of the first all-female swing band by letting the band instruments speak.  The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan is a graphic fairy tale about dust storms during the Depression and one boy's struggles with finding his place in a time of worry.  Done in grays and browns, this book gives the reader a lot to see and ponder.

Anita Silvey, the judge for today's match, points out that both books describe America's history in different almost equally appealing ways.  She chose The Storm in the Barn  to go on to Round 2.  Read her explanation.  And then, read both books to see if you agree.

Tomorrow's match between Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia and Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me is the final match in Round 1.  The Parkland Community Library YS staff is split between these great books.  Stay tuned!

As April approaches, the YS staff is preparing for National Poetry Month and National Kite Month with the Fly a Poem activity.  Check the Children's area for more information.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Battle is Joined Again

Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson went up against A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck this morning.  Cynthia Kadohata, author of Weedflower  and A Million Shades of Gray, had the difficult job of deciding which book will move on to the next round.  She describes her decision-making process on the BOKB website.

The Battle of the Kids' Books is a great way to make sure that books that deserve more attention are getting it.  Both of these titles are sequels to other books.  Peace, Locomotion is the second book about Lonnie, a foster child who is separated from his younger sister.  A Season of Gifts brings back the inimitable Mrs. Dowdel from A Long Way from Chicago and A Year down Yonder.   The Battle will send readers to discover the other books in these series and to other books by these talented authors.

So what book moved ahead today?  A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck will get to flex its muscles in round two.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

April - Fly a Poem!

April is National Poetry Month!  It is also National Kite Month!  So visit the Parkland Community Library during April and place a poem in the Poem Box.  The Youth Services Staff will put that poem on a kite and fly it from the ceiling in the Children's area.  Fly a Poem in April!

The poem can be a favorite poem written by someone else, or an original poem written by the person submitting the poem.  But the poet's name must be clearly and truthfully written on each poem.

Visit to sign up for a Poem-a-Day and to read poems by great American poets, present and past.

The Family Education site lists ideas for ways to involve families in poetry fun.  This site has corporate sponsors so expect some advertisements.

Gomber Kites has interesting links on its National Kite Month page.  Click on Five People Who Flew read how kites have aided with scientific research.  Further down the page are instructions on running kite workshops with some easy-to-make kite plans.

Get ready for April.  Find books on kites - and poetry - at the Parkland Community Library.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Today's winner

Marcelo in the Real World was up against Marching for Freedom in The Battle of the Kids' Books today.  These two books have very little in common, except the first four letters of each title.  One book deals with a fictional autistic teen's struggles to enter the "real" world, deal with father-son conflict, betrayal and love.  The other book describes the struggles of real black teens who stood up for Civil Rights in the eight months that led to the march on Selma. 

Struggling teens - that must be the other common thread in these two books.
So which book did Gary Schmidt, the judge du jour, pick to go to the next round in this contest?  And who came up with this match-up, anyway?  The winner is.....Marching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge.  Schmidt's reason is elegantly simple.  Read his opinion of both books here.

We get the weekend off, which is just time enough for everyone to read the next contestants, Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson and A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck.  Fiction against fiction on Monday.   Both books are worth reading and I will be happy with either title moving on to the next round.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

BOKB - the battle rages on

Each day is a surprise in the contest that is "The Battle of the Kid's Books".  (No more annoying parentheses, except my own!)

The edgy collaboration of graphics and supernatural romance that is Lips Touch: three times by Laini Taylor was unseated by a dense and involving fantasy by Frances Hardinge, The Lost ConspiracyThe judge for this round, Helen Frost, writes a very original explanation of her choice on the BOKB website today.  Read it.  It will make you want to read BOTH books as quickly as ever you can.  Christina Rossetti makes an extended appearance is Frost's apologia, making Frost's explanation even more enjoyable.  (I have wanted to use the word "apologia" all week!)

I am actually glad that my prediction was wrong, yesterday.  On to the next round!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

BO(K)B cont.

In this blogger's humble opinion,  Nancy Farmer made the better choice yesterday in moving The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate on to the next round in The Battle of the (Kids') Books.  (What is with those parentheses?)  (Already?)

Today the choice is between The Frog Scientist and The Last Olympian.  Candace Fleming chose our good friend, Percy Jackson, over the frogs.  The frogs are very attraction, though, and who doesn't enjoy learning more about nature?  Read both of these books and make your own decision.

Tomorrow,  Lips Touch is up against The Lost Conspiracy.   Supernatural kissing vs tribal politics and survival.  Hmmmm.  This is an interesting match.  

Monday, March 15, 2010

Battle of the Kids' Books

The first choice has been made.  The first book has gone on to the next round.  And what book was that?
Click here to read about the process that author, Jim Murphy, went through to make his decision between Deborah Heiligman's Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith and Phillip Hoose's Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice.

Have you finished reading?  Then, you know which book won.  For everyone else, the winner is..........Charles and Emma: the Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's contest between The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (YES!!  YES!!) by Jacqueline Kelly and Fire by Kristin Cashore.  May judge, Nancy Farmer, be led to the most sage of all decisions. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Battle of the Books

Correction!  First off, the library blogqueen goes by Betsy Bird.  Sorry.  Second, each judge gets to choose between two books only.  This makes the idea of voting for an Undead (or already eliminated) title even more appealing.  BECAUSE, what if the author/judge just doesn't have a feel for the book he or she eliminates?  Not every reader can fully appreciate every book.  The judges chosen for this year's Battle are more discerning than 99.786% of the reading public (I made that figure up), still...  Go to and click on the article about the Battle of the (Kids') Books in the right hand frame for a list of the books and the judges.  Or go to the last post in this blog and click on Betsy Bird's video.

Battle of the (Kids') Books

School Library Journal's Battle of the (Kids') Books has begun!  Elizabeth Bird, librarian blogqueen, has a YouTube intro to every book in the running.  Click here to view the video.  (BTW, did she get  a new hairstyle during this video, or is it just me?)  Anyway, this year, readers get a chance to override the judges' final decisions.  Every judge eliminates one book from the running until only two are left.  Then, the Final Judge (this year it is Katherine Paterson) chooses the Winner.  However, if a reader's favorite book gets cut out of the running, that reader can vote to have the book vie against the last two books.  The first cut happens tomorrow.  Go to to keep track of what is happening. 

One book that did not make the Battle this year, although it certainly would have been a serious contender, is Josh Berk's The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin.  Josh is at the Parkland Community Library TODAY at 1 pm.  Stop by to purchase a copy of his book and get it signed.  Josh will leave a handful of signed books at the library for people who can't make today's book signing.

Turn your clock's ahead tonight as we Spring Forth!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In like a lion, out like a lamb

On March 6th, children celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday by listening to the Black Rose Teen Tellers and by creating birthday posters for Dr. Seuss.  The birthday posters are on display in the Picture Book section for the next week or two.

On March 13th from 1 to 2 pm, Josh Berk will be here to talk about his teen book, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin.  Readers will recognize the setting for this novel about a teen who transfers from his school for the deaf to a regular high school and finds out that the hearing world is harder to navigate than he expected.  Berk has worked a couple of mysteries into this novel as well.

Juilene Osborne McKnight will tell Irish tales on Monday, March 16th at 7 pm.  Osborne McKnight is an author and storyteller who teaches courses in Celtic mythology and folklore throughout the Lehigh Valley.  This program will interest older children, teens and adults.

For Irish blessings, tales and trivia, check out the display in the center of the library.  Here is a website with more Irish sayings and blessings for the Gaelic at heart.

Looking ahead:
April is National Poetry Month and National Fly a Kite Month.  Here at the Parkland Community Library, April is Fly a Poem month.  Write a poem, limerick, haiku, and place it in the Poem box.  Youth Services staff members will put the poems on paper kites and fly them from the library ceiling.

National Library Week is April 11th to 17th.  On April 14th in the evening, the Lehigh Valley Zoo will bring some furry, scaly friends to the Parkland Community Library in celebration of National Library Week.