Friday, May 30, 2014


I'm headed to Book Expo America today!  

While I'm away getting great new books to review, you can find me blogging for ALSC today.

And don't forget to read today's STEM Friday posts.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pure Grit - a review

Today is a perfect day to highlight Mary Cronk Farrell's latest book which chronicles the actions of Army and Navy nurses serving in the Phillipines during WWII.  Although amazingly, none of the nurses perished during their harrowing years on the forward battle lines and in prison camps, their service to their country and the fighting men was nothing short of heroic.

Farrell, Mary Cronk. 2014. Pure Grit: How American WWII Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. New York: Abrams.

Pure Grit is a narrative nonfiction account, told with compelling human details. Photographs, quotes, correspondence, newspaper accounts, maps and military records were combined to create a gripping story that breathes new life into a little-known story that is fading from our collective memory.  Farrell was very fortunate to have interviewed the last surviving nurse of the seventy-nine who were taken as POWs by the Japanese.

Containing a Foreward, Introduction, Glossary, List of Nurses, Select Timeline, Endnotes, Bibliography, Web Sites for More Information, Acknowledgments, Image Credits and an exhaustive Index, Pure Grit could easily be considered a scholarly treatise on the topic — but Farrell has chosen to present her topic in a manner that simply cannot be ignored: a gripping story with personal and human details that will appeal to anyone over age 12 with even a passing interest in history.  Highly recommended.

Links of interest:
As you enjoy today's kick-off to the summer season, perhaps celebrating with friends or family or enjoying a well-deserved day off from work, consider participating in the National Moment of Remembrance.

From the U.S. Dept. of Veteran's Affairs: December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579 ...
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Picture Book Roundup: Historical fiction edition

Here are two fiction picture books that feature days gone by.  Both books should tickle your fancy and make fun read-alouds for school-aged children, K-2.

  • Kulling, Monica. 2014. The Tweedles Go Electric. Ontario, Canada: Groundwood. Ill. by Marie Lafrance.

The year is 1903, and the Tweedles are "a bunch of fuddy-duddies," according to their neighbors.  Even when they finally decide to purchase a car, neighbors still tease them,
"People don't want that.  They want noise.  They want smoke." ... "They want a car to sound and smell like a car." 
But rather than the latest in gas-powered autos, the Tweedles purchase a smart, green, electric car.

With a wink and a nod to the future of "green" transportation and women's empowerment, it is the youngest of the Tweedles, Frances, and the "green" car that save the day when an emergency arises.  Marie Lafrance's illustrations accurately evoke the era and are reminiscent of the style of Hergés Tin Tin.

With an illuminated capital I and leafy, gold flourishes, Brother Hugo and the Bear begins firmly planted in the monastical world of the Middle Ages,
It befell that on the first day of Lent, Brother Hugo could not return his library book.
As the reader soon discovers, a bear has eaten the monastery's beautifully illuminated copy of St. Augustine's letters.  It becomes Brother Hugo's job to painstakingly recreate the massive, illustrated tome —a job that "would have been full easy to endure if it had not been for the snuffling."  The source of the snuffling, we soon discover, is the bear, who has not yet had his fill of letters.  Written and illustrated with great reverence for the early art of book-making, Brother Hugo is humorous as well.  Both the monk and the bear are earnest and joyful.

Based loosely upon a true story, Brother Hugo, in combination with its included Historical Note, Glossary, Author's Note, and Illustrator's Note is illuminating for both children and adults.

  A Discussion Guide for Brother Hugo and the Bear.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine - an audiobook review

Angus, David. 2013. Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine. Read by Benjamin Soames. Naxos Audiobooks.

It is a shame that this compendium of influential people in the history of medicine is not available in print or e-book format.  It would be a great reference for students doing research or biography reports.  Don't let the audio book format deter you, however.  As I wrote in my review for AudioFile Magazine (linked below), Benjamin Soames conveys a fascination for his topic that is infectious! (pun intended)

Some of the people featured in Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine include:
Hippocrates, Galen, Hildegard of Bingen, Ibn Sina, Al-Razi, Andreas Vesalius, William Harvey, Edward Jenner, Crick and Watson.  You may not know their names, but their discoveries have benefitted you.  I'm not sure of the best audience for this book, but I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Read my review of  Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine for AudioFile Magazine here.

Listen to an audio sample of Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine here.

Read all of today's nonfiction reviews at the Nonfiction Monday blog!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

SYNC YA starts today!

As I do every year, here is my reminder about an absolutely wonderful free program!  If you haven't taken advantage of SYNC in the past, do it this year.  The selections (below) are outstanding, and many of them are books that appear on high school required summer reading lists.  This week's free books: WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)

 (from the SYNC website)
What is SYNC?

What?SYNC is a program that gives away two complete audiobook downloads–a current Young Adult title paired thematically with a Classic or Required Summer Reading title–each week to listeners ages 13+ while SYNC is in session each summer.
Titles are delivered through the OverDrive Media Console.  You can prepare for the program by downloading the software to your desktop and whichever device you anticipate listening on.
SYNC is dedicated to introducing the listening experience to the young adult audience and demonstrates that Required Reading can be completed by listening.
SYNC gives away 2 FREE audiobook downloads every week each summer. In 2014, 26 titles will be given away over 13 weeks starting May 15th.
Why?SYNC audiobook titles are given away in thematic pairs. Young Adult focused titles are partnered with classics, required reading titles and other thematically appropriate Young Adult tiles to encourage literacy and listening in young people across the country.
Who?SYNC is sponsored by AudioFile Magazine and titles are delivered through OverDrive Media Console.

SUMMER 2014 SYNC TITLE LINEUPMay 15 – May 21 WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)
May 22 – May 28CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden (Harper Audio)
OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles, Performed by Michael Sheen and a full cast (Naxos AudioBooks)
May 29 – June 4CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Narrated by Emma Galvin (Hachette Audio)
THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Richard E. Grant (Harper Audio)
June 5 – June 11ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)
June 12 – June 18CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)
June 19 – June 25I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, Narrated by Renée Raudman (Brilliance Audio)
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press)
June 26 – July 2FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, Narrated by Noah Galvin (Hachette Audio)
OCTOBER MOURNING: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister (Brilliance Audio)
July 3 – July 9TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman, Narrated by Gerard Doyle (Post Hypnotic Press)
PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Narrated by Jim Dale (Brilliance Audio)
July 10 – July 16CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose, Narrated by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)
WHILE THE WORLD WATCHED by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George, Narrated by Felicia Bullock (Oasis Audio)
July 17 – July 23THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren (Recorded Books)
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES II by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrated by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)
July 24 – July 30HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link, Performed by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf (L.A. Theatre Works)
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, Narrated by Scott Brick (Tantor Audio)
July 31 – August 6DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, Narrated by Andrew Eiden (Scholastic Audio)
THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, Narrated by Frank Muller (Recorded Books)
August 7 – August 13LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS by Ben Lesser, Narrated by Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser (Remembrance Publishing)
THE SHAWL by Cynthia Ozick, Narrated by Yelena Shmulenson (HighBridge Audio)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Giant - a review

Mary-Todd, Jonathan. 2014. The Giant. Minneapolis: Lerner.
(Advance Reader Copy)

The Giant is the latest in the Bareknuckle series featuring young  fighters in New York City, circa 1870.  Luc is the giant - a hulking, kind, illiterate young man who easily wins all of his bareknuckle fights.  The money he earns at the local fight club provides only shabby room and board with any small profit going to Mr. Chilton, the man who brought him from Canada to New York.  Life, however, is better than it was in Quebec; and Luc is not unhappy until a stranger with boxing kangaroos joins up with Mr. Chilton.  Thoughtful and kind, Luc is uncomfortable seeing the kangaroo, Genghis, forced to fight amidst the drunken crowds at the seedy Woodrat Club.

     One day in Quebec, when Luc was chopping wood, a few of the others dragged a man into camp.  The man had been hunting for furs when snow began to fall, covering some of the traps he'd set.  Soon the man stepped into one of them.  The older men brought him indoors before he could bleed out, but it took five of them together to pry the trap loose.
     Genghis's fight the night before worked like a trap on Luc.  Each thought of it was painful, but he could not shake the memory.  He had felt the drain throughout the morning, and he felt it in his room.
Unaccustomed to making decisions on his own, Luc's conscience finally compels him to act independently.

Bareknuckle is a "hi-lo" series, aimed at older, struggling or reluctant readers. There is an art to writing prose that appeals to young adults but needs only a minimal mastery of reading and vocabulary. Jonathan Mary-Todd capably handles the "hi-lo" genre.  Readers will be rewarded with a compelling story of self-determination and a taste of New York history.

For teachers:
  • Pages: 104
  • Reading Level: 4
  • Interest Level: 6-12
  • Ages: 11-18
  • ATOS Quiz #: 163032
  • ATOS AR Points: 2.00
  • ATOS: 4.90
  • Lexile Level: 760
On a related topic, check out this article, "Why Aren't Teens Reading Like They Used To?" 
Hi-lo books can be an option for the teen who doesn't read because he cannot read. As librarians and teachers, we should always have them on hand.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Free Comic Book Day

Today is Free Comic Book Day!

What are you waiting for?

Friday, May 2, 2014

After the Book Deal - a guest post by Jonathan Auxier

Today I'm pleased to welcome author Jonathan Auxier to Shelf-employed.  He is the author of Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes and The Night Gardener, and is traveling the blogosphere with a month-long series detailing the things he learned in his first year of publishing.  His post today is titled "Surviving No Shows."  

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier

The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!
AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!
Day Nine: Surviving No-Shows
Yesterday we talked about how to make the most of crowded festivals and conferences. Today, we’ll discuss the opposite problems: the dreaded no-show!
No-shows are the Lord Voldemort of book events. Authors are afraid to speak of them. Bookstores pretend they don’t exist. But they do exist. In fact, they are everywhere. Want proof? Go to three random signings at three different stores . . . I guarantee that at least one of them will be a no-show.

An Author’s Perspective
I was lucky when I launched Peter Nimble. My first three signing events were amazing, bringing 100+ people. But I knew from horror stories of author friends that this run would end, and boy did it. Two months into promoting, I hit a freak wall where I had a series of events where pretty much nobody showed up. It’s horrible and demoralizing. Even worse, you might find yourself secretly resenting the bookstore for not guaranteeing a turnout. But’s that’s completely backwards! You should never assume that a bookseller will attract people to events—they’re busy running a book store. Here’s the truth: It’s your job to bring people to them. Which means that you need to reach out to your own community. Don’t just tweet the event the morning of the event, reach out to friends and relatives in the area inviting them to come. Even a small handful people from your network showing up can save an event from disaster.

A Bookseller’s Perspective
The only people who hate no-shows more than authors are booksellers. Low turnouts are both embarrassing and frustrating. Bookstores can promote the heck out of your event—they can book school visits and make huge window displays ... and still no one will show up. Why? Because the universe is cruel, that’s why. After a few rough events, I started asking booksellers for advice. How did they wish authors handled these events? Their answers were brilliant, and comprise my advice below ...
How to Beat No-Show Events
1) Swing for the Fences
A professional does her job even when it’s no fun. No matter how few people show up to a signing, give them a full show with all your energy. So tell jokes, draw them pictures, talk to them about their favorite books and movies. Why not? It’s not like you have somewhere better to be!

2) Take Control of the Situation
The best advice I got about no-shows was from a bookseller in southern California. She said that as soon as it’s clear an event is a bust, the author should ask permission to move their signing table (and books) to the very front of the store—that way they can talk to every single person who walks through the door. I started doing this and it made a huge difference. Suddenly, I was selling 30-40 books at events where nobody showed up. (This will make booksellers into big fans!) There is an art to talking to strangers without being too pushy. But if you are genuinely passionate about your book, that should shine through. I have found that the best way to approach strangers is with the following question: “Do you have any readers in your life between 8-12?” If the person says “no,” they I leave them alone. But if the person says “yes” then we’re already on our way.
Of course, no one likes selling things to strangers. Do what it takes to get in the right frame of mind. (For me, that involves singing “Carrying the Banner” from NEWSIES at the top of my lungs.)

3) Become a Jr. Bookseller!
Your job involves much more than just standing behind a table signing books for adoring fans ...  especially when there are no fans. But even a small turnout is a chance to sell a lot of books. Don’t be satisfied with selling a copy of your own book to a customer, instead talk to the person to learn her favorite books—and then recommend similar works from the store shelves. In general, I make it a goal to sell 1-2other books to every person who buys my book. Consider how this looks from the bookseller perspective: even if you only sold a few of your own books, the event now led to significantly more sales for the store. Obviously, handselling takes a degree of awareness about a lot of different genres, but if you’re not already a serious reader, you probably have no business writing books in the first place.

4) Get to Know Your Bookseller
The last thing to consider is how a no-show actually provides a good opportunity. Without customers commanding your attention,you suddenly have a lot of time to spend hanging out with a bookseller! Talk to them about their store, and what they’re reading—make a genuine connection with a fellow booklover. Talk to them about your favorite books, and what inspired you to write. Remember: these are the people who will be tasked with trying to sell off your unsold stock ... or else return them to the publisher. This is a small industry, and you will likely be seeing one another again. Turn your next encounter into a happy reunion!

That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEAL! Next week we’ll be talking about the business of being a professional writer. Swing by, and please-oh-please spread the word!

JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores on May 20—why not come to his book launch party? You can visit him online at where he blogs about children's books old and new.

Although he doesn't mention library events, now I know that if I ever host an author visit that is a bust, I can just blame the author! Thank you for that comforting thought, Jonathan.  But speaking seriously, I take extraordinary measures to ensure that there is never a no-show event at my library, and I hope that all authors realize that while they may not sell many books during library visits, libraries themselves are a large market share.  Ask me how copies of each Wimpy Kid book my library owns and how many times each has had to be replaced for wear and tear! L.T.

If you missed my review of The Night Gardener, read it here.

Want to hear more from Jonathan Auxier?  Follow the rest of the blog tour or catch up on previous entries.

WEEK ONE: Before Your Book Comes Out
April 21 – “Finding Your Tribe” @ Shannon Messenger
April 22 – “Do I Really Need a Headshot?” @ Novel Novice
April 23 – “I Hate Networking” @ Charlotte’s Library
April 24 – “A Night at the Movies” @ The Lost Entwife
April 25 –  “Giveaways!” @ Smack Dab in the Middle

WEEK TWO: Your Book Launch
April 28 - “Can I have Your Autograph?” @ Haunted Orchid
April 29 –  “Cinderella at the Ball” @ The O.W.L.
May 1 - Being Heard in the Crowd @ The Misbehavin’ Librarian
May 2 – “The Loneliest Writer in the World” @ Shelf Employed

WEEK THREE: The Business of Being an Author
May 5 – “Back to the Grindstone” @ Word Spelunking
May 6 – “The Root of All Evil” @ The Compulsive Reader
May 7 – “Care and Feeding of Your Muse” @ Buried in Books
May 8 – “The Green-Eyed Monster” @ The Book Monsters
May 9 – “Death by 1000 Cuts” @ Waking Brain Cells

WEEK FOUR: Keeping Your Book Alive
May 12 – “A Cheering Squad of One” @ So I’m Fifty
May 13 – “This Part is Awkward” @ TBA
May 14 – “School Days” @ There’s a Book
May 15 – “Crowd Control” @ Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
May 16 – “Keeping the Magic Alive” @ Tif Talks Books

Beneath the Waves - a review

As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...