Monthly Archives: July 2013

Review: A Big Guy Took My Ball!

A Big Guy Took My Ball!
A Big Guy Took My Ball! by Mo Willems
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. Not my favorite Elephant & Piggie but Mo Willems is like Pixar to me — even his weaker books are still better than most!

Like most of the Elephant & Piggie tales, this story doesn’t end up where you think it will, and I think teaching kids to not always assume and expect things is a good idea. There’s a lot to talk about with a child in these very few pages – you could discuss what to do when you find something unattended, what is a bully, and about confrontation.

Not my favorite of the bunch but still lots of great moments.

Plus, this picture just broke my heart:

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Review: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nathan Hale (the author, not the spy) does a great job of making history fun for kids. This is a great book to give to young readers who have any interest in the Civil War, American History, or battles in general. Heck, even if you’re worried they are *losing* interest in the above, give it to them so they can find out about this historical adventure.

The premise of the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series is that Nathan Hale (the revolutionary war spy, not the author) was hit by a magical history book and now has all of American history in his brain. He uses his new skill to stall the hangman’s noose, telling them stories of the “future”. In “Big Bad Ironclad”, Hale tells them about the battles between the Merrimack and the Monitor during the Civil War.

Filled with lots of humor and action, this is a great pick for fans of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and those younger kids who ask for “books about war” but don’t want to read the dry tomes in the adult non-fiction collection.

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Ever wonder what a wacky librarian reads (or at least, wants to read and piles up on her desk for 3 weeks only to have to return them because someone else places a request?)

Well, WONDER NO MORE! 

Current checkouts:

The book of blood and shadow by Robin Wasserman (reading this as part of Books for the Beast in October)

Firecracker by David Iserson (writer for SNL and New Girl, how could I resist?)

Adventure of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks (I like her art style)

Nothing can possibly go wrong by Prudence Shen (art by Hicks…)

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad by Nathan Hale (graphic novel for kids that makes history fun?? I had to read it so I could request we buy it for the library).

“Wewease the seeecwet weapon!”

(bonus points if you know what movie I’m referencing in the post title)

I’m a geek and I love showing off my fandom pride. I love finding lanyards to wear to work to hold my name badge and, more importantly, stick my geeky buttons to represent a few of my favorite things:

My secret weapons

There have been some wonderful unintended consequences to wearing these buttons!

I wish I could tell you how many kids and teens ask me “Is that a Dalek pin?” while I’m helping them find a book. I’ve lost count. But it gives me a great way to break the ice with them and show them that librarians are people too, and we enjoy some of the same things they do. Talking to a teen about Doctor Who one day can make them feel comfortable approaching you for help on another day.

Same goes for my Mockingjay pin, which I’ve had compliments on from both teens and adults. I love the series and it gives me a chance to talk to them about young adult literature and usually upcoming programs (like our Catching Fire program, coming November 26th, just after the movie is released! Mark you calendars now!)

I also have an R2-D2 (a good way to show street cred to prove to the kids that you really are a Star Wars fan and not an adult pretending to “get it”), and my Greendale College lanyard (which I have retired for awhile because it was starting to get a little bit icky) was another fun one. I had many people ask where Greendale was but I had a few sly “Human Beings” who called me out on it.

I know it may sound silly – of course librarians are people too – but these little things can make you more approachable, take away that aura of “stuffiness” that seems to come with being a Librarian, and also make great conversation starters.

Review: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

I listened to this on my drive to work for a few weeks and I loved it. It felt like I was back in college, listening to a wonderful lecture series on the history of cooking and how humans have manipulated ingredients to create food.

Like In Defense of Food, Cooked is a mix of microhistories, anecdotes and a dash of politics (but just a dash). Less preachy than In Defense of Food, this book focuses on baking (bread), cooking with fire (BBQ), and fermentation (plants, dairy and alcohol). But within these three activities, Pollan finds a wealth of cultural and historical things to discuss. You will finish this this book full of random factoids about all the foods you eat and the science and stories behind them.

Be warned, you will find yourself craving some delicious barbecue, cheese, and beer before this book is through!

I highly recommend this in audiobook format, though it is a great read too. But Pollan’s conversational tone helps the hours on the road fly by. It would be a good listen for teens/young adults who will enjoy hearing those bits of history you never get in school.

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