Things That Make Me Laugh

It’s been an amusing week. Thought I would share some of my favorite moments thus far!

1) Munchkin’s response to my announcement that we are now leaving JoAnn Fabrics: “Damn it! I meant darn it! Darn it!”

2) A parent laughing so hard behind me after above incident. Not for what she said, but because I was mad that she knew to cover up the language, not the language itself. Hey! The higher functioning concerned me! What’s she saying on the playground!

3) My 4-year-old daughter catching her father in a lie at drop-off Sunday night. He said: “Megan didn’t want to come home tonight.” Munchkin: “That’s not true! Mom, I never said that! Daddy, that’s a fib!” The look on her face and then his was absolutely priceless. You go Munchkin!

4) A little boy singing “What Does the Fox Say” so hardcore yesterday, in the library, that he collapsed in a chair and stated “Wow, that song really gives you a good work out. Makes my abs feel STRONG!” Said boy is about 5.

5) My daughters reaction to slipping in ice: “Ow! Mom! I need ice skates!”

6) My daughters reaction to slipping in ice a few days later: “Oh man, not again! Momma! Would you buy me ice skates already!”

Hope everyone has a very fun, funny, and loving Thanksgiving!

 

Tower of Treasure

Tower of Treasure by Scott Chantler

Hi all! Hope you’re enjoying life!

So I decided to look at some of my all time favorite items in the library, GRAPHIC NOVELS! I am such a huge fan of juvenile graphic novels (and teen, and adult, pretty much anything with panels and a storyline) that its high time¬†I finally selected some new(er) ones and gave them my once over. Considering I’ve pretty much never found a graphic novel I didn’t like, these should all be positive reviews ūüėÄ

To start it off I chose the first book in a series that I’ve been wanting to read since I first scanned the cover. Three Thieves-Book One: Tower of Treasure¬†by Scott Chantler.

This is the introduction to the saga of Dessa, Topper, and Fisk, three performers in a traveling sideshow. Dessa¬†is a young acrobat, she is¬†looking for her twin brother who (we learn) was taken by a strange man who¬†Dessa¬†has very vague memories of. Upon arriving in Kingsbridge, the Royal City, Topper and Fisk decide that they are going to rob the Queen’s gold in the tower. Dessa, who is against any kind of thievery, refuses to help at first, but eventually gets dragged into the scheme. Upon being caught, the three have to fight to escape prison, and Dessa¬†discovers the one man that she has been searching for who can point her in the direction of her long-lost brother.

This GN (graphic novel) is A FANTASTIC introduction to this new saga. It reads quickly and easily and almost feels like a well-directed¬†television show. It’s full of action, mystery, and easy to discern flashbacks¬†and overlay of panels. It does not push the back story like some introductory novels do, but let’s the mystery unfold. You don’t really need to know everything, just yet, about this world. Dessa’s¬†discovery of the man she has been searching for is really the central point, the Tower heist is the backdrop to this discovery. This GN combines adventure, fantasy, mystery, and humor seamlessly. It’s a fantastic story with very fluid illustrations and characters that one will want to learn more about.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves adventure, particularly Three Musketeers or Robin Hood type adventures, and for those reluctant readers who “just can’t get into a book.” It’s a series that I’m rooting for and that I hope continues along the same path that this introduction hints at. I can’t wait to read the next installment!

Quick Facts

Author/Illustrator: Scott Chantler

Series: Three Thieves (This is the first book)

Publisher: Kids Can Press Ltd., Tonawanda, New York

Youth Services Meeting and Last Day Blues

Hey all, sorry for being so tardy on posts. This end of the semester is kicking my behind! I promise to get up information about some awesome kids cookbooks I have found, but they may not be individual entries like before.

So just wanted to blog quickly about a great experience Jen and Kori exposed me to today; they invited me to sit in on the county-wide (I think) Youth Services meeting. It was a very interesting experience.

Kori and Jen presented on the Every Child Ready to Read program/system that they have invested in and done some “workshops” with parents on. I’ve known about this program since they received it at the end of the Summer, I’ve kind of “lived” it with them, but I didn’t really know that much about its history¬†nor about its overall use¬†to the OCPL system. I just thought this was something new they were trying out. It was awesome to be able to see them present to their peers, hear the questions asked of them, their responses, etc.

I then was fortunate to hear the entire group discuss the OCPL¬†Five year Plan of Service that is about to be instituted in the county. Some of the points the group talked about, I thought, were not overly important (felt like it was nit-picky), other points however were extremely interesting. I won’t go into detail here (yet), because this plan of service hasn’t been approved yet, and issues discussed may be moot once the State gets its hands on the plan. However, the group dynamic is what really stood out to me.

There appeared to be a “click” of people with extremely positive attitude, those that were willing to be flexible¬†and to look ahead. Then there were those that were extremely negative. Their body¬†language alone spoke of their resistance to this plan and its was of measuring outcomes. Everytime¬†someone spoke I would either overhear them or they would speak out something negative about an idea. Yes, we are all aware that there is¬†no budget, yes we are aware that the state/county is asking a lot out of you. But does it kill you to try to find solutions to the problems? If the state is asking for outrageous demands wouldn’t it be better to show them that you are trying instead of sitting back¬†on your heels and saying “nothing I can do?”

To be able to sit in a room of “professional” children’s librarians/youth services librarians and hear them discuss points and argue over ways of going about doing things was so fantastic! I would’ve never thought being in a meeting could be so enthralling. It’s how I know I’ve chosen the right profession, when I get excited to just be in a room full of people like that.

Tomorrow is, technically, my last day of internship. I still have some stuff to work on for my project that I’m going to do from home, but my hours are up. I am so sad to be “leaving” the children’s circulation desk. But, I’m so honored to have had this experience. It has been fantastic working with¬†Kori and Jen and everyone here at the Manlius Library. I can’t thank them enough for everything they have taught me and all the opportunities they have given me. I’ve done a storytime, created a cultural pathfinder, worked on genre labels, gone on a school visit, participated in meetings, and have loved every minute of it. I will continue on with my paging duties so I will at least be continuing with an aspect of the library, but I will miss interacting with these kids on an almost daily basis. I’m hoping that the New Year will bring some great news, but I know that the library can’t just create money out of nowhere. Until then, at least I get to come a couple of days a week to this fantastic and awesome place!

NYLA Day #2 – Kids ROCK Your Library!

My second day at NYLA was much more low-key, but possibly better than the first day!

Myself and my two fellow librarians-to-be went to the 8am session of “Kids ROCK Your Library!” The Weedsport Junior Friends of the Library presented. Both the co-advisors and three of the junior officers (all sixth graders) were fantastic. I loved when the kids talked about their experiences, you could really feel how attached they were to not only their library, but to the group as a whole.

The Weedsport Junior Friends of the Library is quite a success story. Started about 10 years (give or take) ago, this group has expanded wildly. The group travels to the Washington D.C. National Book Festival every year (the kids even get to go to the press tent and interview authors), they’ve gone on trips to NYC to Scholastic and the New York Public Library, they’ve had many author visits, they’ve fundraised, helped keep their library clean, and even put on plays for the Red Hat Society (perhaps my favorite part of this story).

This is all accomplished by the kids. The advisors are literally that, advisors. They aren’t the organizers, the ones out stomping the streets, they show the kids how to do things and then let them out in the world. These kids raise all their own money ($350) to go to the National Book Fest, they do community service throughout their area to help not only their library but anyone who may call upon them, and they do this all of their own accord.

This group gave me so many good ideas that I hope to use some day. I mean, putting the power into a group of 3rd-8th graders may seem risky, but the Junior Friends are very realistic about what they expect out of each kid, and what happens if that kid cannot meet their expectations. That is, seemingly, the key to their success. I can’t wait to talk to Kori (Manlius Children’s Librarian) and give her the information I received from this session. Hopefully we may be able to use some of it to the benefit of the Manlius Children’s Library.

We then checked out the Saratoga Springs Public Library (seemed appropriate). They have a beautifully constructed Children’s and Teen Space. I loved their bookshelves and wished I could run out of their with about a dozen of them. They had taken some magazine bookshelves and used them to display their new picture books. I loved, also, how they had books on top of their shelves so that kids could see the pictures on the book covers, not just the spines.

I, also, “worked” the SU booth. I had a lot of fun talking to fellow students and those who organized SU’s presence at NYLA this year. I love how, whenever you are with SU personnel, you really do feel like you are accepted no matter who you are. The iSchool has a terrific group of people working for it to the benefit of both students and alumni.

Before we left I was able to do some minor sightseeing of Saratoga Springs as well. Myself and another of my fellow librarians-in-training took a windy walk through the Central Park and checked out the Carousel and the park in general. I wish that I felt safe doing that through parts of Syracuse, because there are so many parks that I would love to revisit and see again, but I would never dare walk alone in them or even in them period.

After another 2 1/2 hour journey home, I was so happy to see Megan. But, I have to say, I can’t wait for my next Conference. I learned so much from this experience and I can’t tell you how much I feel honored to be in a profession with the people who I met at NYLA 2011.

NYLA Day #1 – Sonia Manzano, Dave Lankes, and Great Food!

So with the help of an amazing professor and the accompaniment of two new fantastic librarians-in-training like myself, I’ve made it to my first conference. AND IT’S AWESOME!

So, today, woke up at 5:15am, showered and picked up my two fellow librarians-in-training. We proceeded to drive the 2 1/2 hours (give or take 1/2 an hour) to Saratoga Springs, NY to the 2011 NYLA Conference.

We were able to check-in, orient ourselves a bit, and then I got to go see Sonia Manzano (Maria from Sesame Street) talk at the Keynote Luncheon. It was very empowering and moving to hear her talk about early childhood education. It really reinforced my love of children and my passion to be a children’s librarian.

Sonia’s main message (at least to me) is that kids are resilient and adaptable and that they want to learn. That’s what makes them so fantastic! Their curiosity and compulsion of “why? why? why?” may be annoying to parents, but to an educator this is music to our ears. As people who often help shape young lives, it is up to us to not push these questions off and to not blow these kids aside. We shouldn’t pigeon-hole or label kids just because it is easy. We should always test ourselves to show them the world in new ways.

Sonia also talked about testing and how this creates problems for educators. As someone who does not deal with testing from an educator stand point but who hates tests vehemently (ADHD sufferers please stand up!) I could have stood up and applauded when she brought this up. Sonia said “testing is putting teachers in a bad position because they cannot see children as individuals.” HOW TRUE! Teachers care more about the tests than they do about the knowledge. It shouldn’t matter whether or not a child can take a test. It should only matter that this child has LEARNED something. The take away and life long knowledge is what is important. Not what they can spew out in thirty-five minutes on a sheet of multiple choice questions. Numbers are not knowledge, conversation and debate and critical thinking are.

The other great point that Sonia disscussed was the joy of children first learning to read. What I loved was that she highlighted not the struggle to read; the sounding out of letters and words, understanding the combinations. She highlighted that moment when it all “clicks.” When a child¬†understands there is INFORMATION behind the words. Sonia said “learning to read is like when a string of Christmas tree lights turns on when you finally find the bulb that was burnt out.”¬†I loved how she put this.¬†How absolutely positively true. I don’t know if we are all blessed with remembrance of that moment when our string of Christmas lights turned on (mine was “Beauty and the Beast,” it suddenly all clicked one night when I was reading to my mom). But most of us either yearn for that moment with children or have had the joy of experiencing it with children. As someone who strives to be an innovative children’s librarian this is definitely a speech I will carry with me for a long time.

After Sonia I was able to hang out in the Trade Show. With my minor connections to the Manlius Library (particularly the children’s room) I really felt more comfortable at the Trade Show than I thought I would. First off, I only felt the need to approach vendors that I may be able to take information back to the children’s library with. Second off, many of the vendors knew of the Manlius Library and/or Kori and were happy to talk to me about pretty much anything I wanted to talk about. It was easier to converse with them by¬†having some background and some grounds on which to talk. If I was just coming at them as a student who didn’t really want anything other than to chat about them because that I was supposed to do, I don’t feel my time spent at the Trade Show would have been as useful.¬†I took much “swag” away with me after having many fun conversations and learning lots of new things about fun innovations that I could implement in a children’s library some day. Oh to dream big on that one!

After checking in to our hotel down the street, thinking we had time to get settled, and realizing it was 3:45pm and we needed to be back at the Conference if we wanted to hear Dave Lanke’s awesome speech (we already knew it would be awesome) we quickly headed back down the street.

Dave Lankes, as always, was Daveheart. I haven’t had the privilege of one of his talks in a long time, and as always, I left feeling empowered and that I have picked the proper profession.

Dave’s message, at least I felt, was some of his “same old” in that we are not in the “stuff” business but in the knowledge business. However, even though I’ve heard him talk on this before, his emphasis on community involvement¬†really hit a chord with me, perhaps it’s because I’ve become more involved since the last I heard him talk. “You must work with your community in transformative social engagement” Dave implored us. Even though I haven’t thought about what I’m doing as that, HOW TRUE! One of the goals of librarianship is to make our communities better places, but how do we do that without involving our communities more? Librarians, in the past, have always decided what their communities needed. Slowly we have turned our backs to the crowd (loved that metaphor, stealing it from Dave) and not realizing that what we need is not in front of us (the “stuff”) but behind us (the “community.”) We need to turn back around and not only take from the community, but give back based on what we are taking from that community. We need to help give them what they are giving us. Even though it may not be what the library is “supposed” to be, doesn’t necessarily mean that the community isn’t craving this escape from the norm. In other words, rethinking the library should start with the community it is aimed at, not at what we think it should be.

Quite possibly my greatest take away from Dave’s speech was “…we don’t need collection development, we need connection development.” We need to stop thinking of our collection’s as our life source, as our means for existence. We need to think of the people and the space and atmosphere we provide to our people, our communities, as our top priority. Coming from a children’s library this is harder for me to wrap my mind around. Mostly because, the “stuff” is what the kids crave. But, I feel that at the Manlius¬†Children’s¬†Library,¬†we have also been able to take the pulse of our kids and find out what they are craving. Is it picture books? Graphic novels? Computers? A coloring table? That, I believe, is why I love the Manlius Library. They are constantly taking the pulse of their community and trying to make the smallest improvements to make their space better for what their community wants.

To end our busy day me and my two fellow librarians-in-training went to this fabulous restaurant called Olde Bryan Inn. It was terrific food! Anyone looking for somewhere to eat, I highly recommend it. I had the Chicken Cordon Bleu, and it wasn’t at all like I expected and it was fantastic!

Now, exhausted, we all sit with our faces in our laptops, waiting for the appropriate time to go to bed. Tomorrow is another busy day. Going to another speech, working at the iSchool SU Booth (come visit), and then 2 1/2 hours to home! I do miss my Megan (who now has a signed copy of “Maria’s” picture book for Christmas) and Mom right now! But I’m so happy I came. I’m learning and gaining so much out of this experience.

One more thing, school and getting ready for NYLA have completely swamped me. I will be putting my last Halloween Countdown book up this weekend, I absolutely promise! I hope you all enjoyed your Halloween and are getting ready for Thanksgiving (not yet Christmas, no matter how much music they’ve started to play on the radio!).

I JUST COMPLETED MY FIRST EVER STORYTIME!

So I’m on a storytime high right now. Even though a lot of people did not come (not unusual for this time of night) and even though there were moments where I felt the crickets, overall IT WAS AWESOME! Unfortunately I found my groove, and earned the kids trust, and I wanted to keep going but I had no more material. So I wanted to quickly jot down some thing I learned and impression.

So my line up was as follows:

“Monster Mash” with the Count and Sesame Street Characters as people came in the door.

Get the Wiggles out rhyme that I screwed up at the end because I couldn’t remember it. But the kids thought it was funny.

Handing out of lollipops (gotta have the candy ūüėÄ )

The Ugly Pumpkin (look for a blog post about this book tomorrow, it’s awesome!) Kids liked it, parents did too.

“Roll That Pumpkin Down To Town” with Elmo and the Count. Possibly will not use this song again. I thought it was fast enough, way too slow. I hadn’t developed enough trust with the one little girl for her to start dancing, the one little boy was just excited to have candy, and the 5 year old thought it was stupid. The toddler danced, but then headed out the door once she didn’t know what was going on. I should’ve used “Monster Mash” and not done a song as they came in the door.

The Runaway Pumpkin – tried to get the kids to say the alliteration of the “Bumpin’ Thumpin’, Bumpety Thumpety, Bumpin’ Thumpin’ Roll Away Pumpkin.” By the end I gave up and just said it. Again, the one little girl was still eyeing me, trying to decide if she liked me or not. Five year old thought it was stupid. Toddler was gone. Little boy was trying to say it to his Dad quietly.

“Where is Pumpkin” – Asked the kids to come up and take the characters off the board as I said there names. This went over really well. Except, the five-year old wanted to dominate. So I had to call out their names and ask them “Aiden, where is the spider?” We lost the whole singing part (good, because I can’t sing). I let the kids take home the characters (have extra characters at the ready next time) to trace and have for Halloween.

Even Monsters Need Haircuts – By now I had found my groove. The kids were sitting well and listening, I had almost completely won over the trust of the one little girl because now I had given her both candy and another fun thing to take home. Both the parents and the kids enjoyed this one. I skipped over a couple of parts because of the parents reactions and their demeanor (when the little boy leaves the house by himself and mentions it, I skipped that because I thought the one Mom may not like it).

My “Chocolate Chip Ghost” feltboard story – WENT OVER AWESOME! Again, though, the five-year old tried to dominate. I had to start calling out the kids names to get them to answer the colors so she wouldn’t always answer. Now I had really won over the one hesitant little girl, she was smiling and yelling out when I asked her what color she thought. The little boy was being very quiet and calm (the previous week he had been running EVERYWHERE!). The parents were smiling too and answering with their kids. I need to get more feltboard stories. I discovered that I’m a better storyteller than a singer. I need some better movement music that I don’t have to direct, that tells the kids what to do.

Shel Silverstein’s “Gruesome Story” Poem – the kids really got into this short poem. The parents were laughing when I said he was one of my favorites. It was a good segway and introduced a moment to explain poetry when the five-year old said “That’s a really short story.”

The final book was Where’s My Mummy – by now the little girl was on the floor in front of me. AN AWESOME AUDIENCE! This is the point I realized, she was just testing me out and seeing if she liked me. She sat down on the rug squares and “eeked” and tensed at all the right parts. The five year old knew the story, so when I “tromped, tromped, tromped” or “stopped and listened” she was mouthing the words with me. The little boy was half asleep in his father’s arm.

SO! After all that (bless those who read this far), I’ve discovered I’M AWESOME AT STORYTELLING! But I really need to find some better music and some feltboard characters that I can make up stories about. I’m even considering puppets, but I’ve never used them without feeling foolish. So perhaps I will stick with feltboards and awesome picture books for now. But, I’ve gotta say, THAT WAS AWESOME!! AWESOME!! I wish I could do it all over again and I could make these changes….hopefully there will be another time…..

Check for a new blog post tomorrow, and it’s almost Halloween!!

HELLO ALL!

Hello!

I thought I would give just an introduction before I started blogging about more interesting things.

I am a student at Syracuse Univeristy working towards my Masters in Library and Information Sciences with a Certificate of Advanced Study in Cultural Heritage Preservation (lot’s of big words!). My goal is to someday be¬†the Indiana Jones version of a Children’s librarian, aka “This copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear belongs in a museum!”

Me and Megan

That's Me - I'm Not The Baby

I am also extremely fortunate to work and intern at the Manlius Public Library. I am a page there (I put the books away and do other odd jobs) and I intern in the Children’s Library with two of the most fabulous librarians ever! All the people (librarians and pseudo-librarians) at the Manlius Library are fantastic! I have been so lucky and fortunate to learn from them all, talk shop and other things with them, and basically just being in their presence has validated my love of libraries and has proven to me that I have chosen the appropraite profession.

Other than that I am the¬†mother to a beautiful two year old little girl, Megan Faith. She is my reason to smile. I know it is a typical parental phrase, but she is my reason for breathing. I don’t know what I did without this little girl. Even in the terrible twos (and some days are very terrible) I wouldn’t trade her for anything else in the world.

Megan Faith

Yup, That's My Girl

This blog will most likely reflect the random things, thoughts, and moments that insight an explosion of thought in my brain as I finish up the last year and a half of my Masters. I am, also, going to focus on my love of Children’s Librarianship; the literature, learning, and zaniness that comes with interacting with “my” kids. The day I¬†have to leave the Manlius library I will cry giant tears. I love all the kids who walk through that door and they inspire me to work harder, come up with better ideas, and be the best librarian I can be.

To kick off my new attempt at blogging (I have failed as a blogger and hope to find within me a “blogging-ness”) I’ve decided to combine two of my favorite things in the whole world. For my family and friends who know me, and to update those new to my life, HALLOWEEN IS MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE ENTIRE YEAR!! To mark off this tremendous day, to help install a habit of blogging within me, and to brag about some of the awesome books I know about and work with every day at the library, I’m going to do a “Book Countdown To HALLOWEEN!” (Yes, I’m aware it’s just the middle of September, but I cannot contain my excitement a minute longer).¬†Every 2-3 days I will post a new blog about a great Halloween book to read during this awesome season! I will start with early readers (board/picture books) and work my way up to the Teen readers (aka YA).

So hello to all! I hope to read and respond to all your comments, questions, and general observations! And HAPPY EARLY HALLOWEEN!