Book review: iPads in the Library by Joel Nichols

I spend alot of time talking, dreaming, and designing with the librarians over at Little eLit. I also occasionally write posts for the Little eLit blog about kids and digital media. Here is an excerpt from a recent review I wrote about Joel Nichols’ new book, iPads in the Library: Using Tablet Technology to Enhance Programs for All Ages (Libraries Unlimited, 2013).

For librarians looking to integrate iPads and apps (also known as new media) into their library’s programming, there are no how-to guides. Most librarians getting started with iPads scour blog posts, presentations, and listserv comments, or rely on word of mouth for advice. Many librarians are forced to “reinvent the wheel” over and over again or decide to postpone their tablet-inclusive plans, not knowing where to start.
With the publication of his recent book, iPads in the Library, Joel Nichols is filling the void.

Want to read more? Check out the full review.

The Cloud Spinner and Extra Yarn

cloud spinner

Admittedly I was a little frazzled a couple of weeks ago as I prepared for my full day of outreach programs in between regular projects and library surprises. I needed some perfect books to read with the ESL kindergarten class at my day’s second stop. Then a lovely library patron came by on one of her weekly visits to return a stack of books. As I discharged them, I came across one that practically sparkled.  Luckily there was a lull at the front desk, because I had to read this one, and ultimately, tuck it into my “out the road” bag.

The Cloud Spinner by author Michael Catchpool with illustrations by Allison Jay ( Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012) is dreamy and magical with just a hint of the surreal. This special book features beautiful illustrations and a fantastical story that left a group of kindergarteners quiet and open mouthed as I read the soon-to-be classic tale. A young boy who weaves fine cloth from the clouds finds himself at the mercy of a greedy king who demands a wardrobe made of the boy’s wares. The story’s message, quietly and courageously proclaimed by one wise little boy, was not lost on this young crowd. “Enough is enough and not one stitch more.”

The soft illustrations are detail-rich and each page is edged like an old photograph, providing a great stage for the story as it is read aloud. The kids delighted in finding the big-bellied king’s castle in the landscape views and discovering the shapes of animals and things of all kinds in the white, gold, and crimson colored clouds.

Great for ages 5-8.

extra yarn

“That is not possible!”

So said a young storytime friend throughout Extra Yarn, the marvelous picture book by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jon Klassen (Balzer + Bray, 2012).

I quickly added Extra Yarn to my “out the road” bag once I’d picked The Cloud Spinner. I hadn’t read the 2013 Caldecott Honor Book aloud yet and this was a great opportunity.  The pair of stories featuring quiet heroes, villainous royals, and the fiber arts, was a good match.

Annabelle, who lives in a “cold little town where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys”  seems similar enough to any kid inhabiting rural Northern towns. That is until she finds a box of yarn that is never ending. She begins to transform town one knitted stitch at a time until a greedy archduke steals the box. He wasn’t meant to have the box and it finds its way back to Annabelle, again full of yarn.

Klassen’s typically uncluttered illustrations perfectly reflect the story, even couching the words on each matte page. In this book, the details are best experienced in the combination of text and images, not in one or the other. A favorite page? It must be the one with Annabelle knitting a sweater for a truck. “Little girl, said the archduke, I would like to buy that miraculous box of yarn. And I am willing to offer you one million dollars. No thank you, said Annabelle, who was knitting a sweater for a pickup truck.” Reading this page actually made the kids’ teacher laugh out loud.

Great for ages 5-8.

StoryTubes 2013

It’s been a busy few weeks. Lots of storytimes and outreach, planning the summer reading program, school visits, parenting, grad school, you name it. There never seems to be enough time in the day! This week is especially fun and busy.

Flash back to the early Winter. I was reading a discussion on the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s listserv and up popped a post about StoryTubes, a video project that encourages reading through the creation of short book trailers, combining books and technology. I love the idea of kids using video to create and tell stories and these filmmakers are getting their first taste of it, in many cases. And besides, who doesn’t think that hearing and watching kids take the time to reflect on a favorite book is absolutely wonderful? I became an instant fan. I was so excited about the project that I signed up to be a judge!

Lights! Camera! Action!

Fast forward to this week… It’s the hour of reckoning! I, along with several other judges from around the country, am in the process of voting for my favorites. I get to focus on the 5-7 year old age group. The videos are so thoughtful and entertaining! Sorry I can’t tell you the results yet, but you can watch the entries while you wait and vote for the runners up beginning March 29th.

We’ll be offering video making programs at my library again this summer and I can’t wait to see what’s created! Does your library offer video programs for kids or teens?

Hub Challenge, part 1

I’m happy to report that I’ve finished two of the twenty-five award winning books I am going to read or listen to for the YALSA Hub Challenge! I started with Drama, a graphic novel, and then listened to the audiobook version of The Fault in Our Stars. Next up? The Code Name Verity.

If you’re interested, check out my brief reviews of these first two on my Hub Reading Challenge page. What books have you read or listened to lately?

Review: The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit

Contpeter rabbitinuing a tale is hard to do and rarely done well.  Emma Thompson (yes, the actress) shows us that it is possible. Her new book  The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, inspired by the series of classic tales by Beatrix Potter, is a beautiful picture book with an entertaining story and excellent narration.  Thompson has captured the spirit of the little bunny. The Peter Rabbit of 2012, almost indistinguishable from the bunny of 1902, is equally mischievous and adventurous. Readers will be happy to know Peter is as charming as ever in his latest adventure.

“What I need…is a change of scene.” proclaims Peter Rabbit and so begins Thompson’s tale.  This is a story of the precocious Peter who finds himself on an auspicious journey to Scotland. Unfortunately for him, it happens to begin in the feared McGregor’s picnic basket. Peter is lured by “an interesting basket smelling of onions.” Mrs. McGregor almost gets her hands on the little bunny, but Peter is able to make a narrow escape. He finds himself shoeless, but no worse for the wear, in a forest thick with pines where he stumbles upon Finlay, a very large Scottish bunny who befriends him. Scottish games, a very large radish, and his eventual return home give Peter the anecdote to boredom he was looking for.

While the book and the illustrations are strong on their own, Thompson’s narration on the accompanying CD adds an extra touch. Her intimate relationship with the story and Peter the Rabbit permeate each word as they are read aloud with a beautiful cadence. Thompson’s authentic impersonation of a Scot brings the new characters to life in a way most readers could not. Even her strategic pauses are perfectly timed, leaving the reader and listener time to savor Eleanor Taylor’s images.

The story’s text is nestled amongst close-up scenes bidding the reader to peer further into the story and linger on each image’s detail. The muted watercolor is just right for Peter Rabbit’s little blue coat, the Scottish vegetation, and the interior of Finlay’s burrow. Even the dust cover and book plate (in the hardcover) are touched by the Peter Rabbit magic- both are thoughtfully illustrated and have the appearance of being chewed by one little bunny.

The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit is a must read, and a must listen, for kids 4-7. Available in hardcover or E-Book.