Thursday, January 31, 2013

Exciting Times at the Library

Of course, aren't they all exciting times?

It was fantastic to get caught up in the excitement of the awards earlier this week. I didn't agree with all of the choices (Seraphina and I will have to agree to disagree) but I did agree with the love and excitement shown as they were awarded. Full list of winners can be found here. I've since ordered a few of the ones I'd not read - very excited.

I begin book talks today with students. This is such a vital and important part of my job and I love it so much. I'm busy cataloging books that I bought at Chapters recently and planning out what to say with each of them ("it's about the Titanic. And werewolves. Yes. Werewolves on the Titanic..."). I love it when kids talk back - respond - with their opinions on books as well. If you look at my Goodreads profile, you'll see that the ones on the 'Non-Word Reads' shelf are languishing as I try to get through ones for the booktalks. Ah well. I'm currently reading 'Dash and Lily's Book of Dares' and have fallen in love with it. Why are all of these teens so much cooler than I'll ever be? Ah well....

I recently got an ipad for the library - and have since ordered an ipad mini. On each I put quotes from books. This one has 'I am Selfish. I am brave'. The mini will have (I hope!) 'Maybe okay will be our always'. I'm hoping that putting these quotes will mean that it makes it that much more obvious that the connection between technology and books is there! I spent yesterday downloading apps - now I need to explore more and see what I need to do to make it the ultimate library tool. I did just download the YALSA book finder, so that might help! I spent about 20 minutes the other day making a video about the library - no plot, no focus - just to see how to do it in iMovie. It's an app I'll be recommending to teachers to use for book trailers or even general presentations. 20 minutes, no fuss, no muss - just a not great but looked fantastic horror movie trailer about the library.

It always amazes me how many things can happen in a library. The set for our school musical is over in the corner, a college is presenting here third period, a social justice class is scheduled for fourth period and I'm book talking during fifth period. My homeroom has been here, the PASS teacher has students scheduled all through the day. Our PD day will be here, the set will be gone! and prom decorations will be created. It's a cozy place.

Now... if the books would catalogue themselves.....

Monday, January 28, 2013

Reviews: Moonbird and Seraphina

Review: Moonbird: A year on the wind with the great survivor B95
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-374-30468-3
Reading Level: Grades 5 and up


Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Published by: Doubleday Canada, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-385-66839-2
Reading Level: Grades 9 and up

I've chosen to review Moonbird and Seraphina in the same entry NOT because they have overwhelming similarities but because what I have to say applies to both. One is a fiction novel about a half dragon caught up in a mystery, the other is a non fiction tale of a bird migration and of B95, a bird who has made the journey over 18 times - flying the distance one would travel from Earth to the Moon and halfway back again. So, no true similarities but one: I disliked both but knew I was reading good stuff.

I don't like dragons - or even half dragons and thus a plot surrounding them is not to my taste. 'Seraphina' reads well and the storyline is interesting - murder, intrigue, fighting between groups. However, make those groups dragons and humans and throw in descriptions on how to clean your scales and I'm out. I enjoyed it more in this second reading (I reviewed it previously for 'Resourcelinks and had a ARC). I can see literary merit in this book - well written, strong plot, well developed characters. I just did not like it. 

The same is true of 'Moonbird'. In this saga about the migration of the rufa red knot, we learn about the travel and diet patterns of this bird species. These birds travel from Terra del Fuego in South America to the breeding grounds of the Canadian Arctic. The migration habits of this group have been tracked as well as their population. Scientists have tagged and identified many of the rufa, tracking them year after year. B95 was tagged 18 years ago and is still flying. Given the fact that the population of the rufa has dropped 80% in the past 20 years, his survival is fairly epic. This is a full colour book, pullouts of bios, features and facts an dis nicely written. However, I couldn't find it in me to care for these birds. That sounds callous but honest - I thought the story was fascinating, I was just not inspired to help. I did like that they mentioned Parks Canada in the list of groups and resources of people for those who are inspired to help - Parks Canada does great work and should be mentioned.

Both books received a 4/5.

Good reads page Seraphina
Good Reads page Moonbird.