Sunday, January 31, 2010

Katie Woo

I had several library appointments this week with media specialists. They're always looking for good, new, low-level fiction.

"Do you have any more Katie Woo?" one media specialist asked. "My kids loved those books."

Indeed, I do. Katie Woo has been a big hit since last fall when she debuted in a series by Capstone. Award winning author Fran Manushkin has created a spunky character that girls will love. Stop in at the Stone Arch Blog and see how the design team created Katie's stylish look.

New titles in the series:
Best Season Ever
Katie Goes Camping
Katie in the Kitchen
Make Believe Class
Moving Day
A Nervous Night

AR levels range from 1.8 to 2.8

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Playing Catch Up

I'm boggled down with appointments and deadlines. Maybe I'll get book recommendations posted later in the week.

In the meantime, stop by my friend Nancy I. Sander's blog, and check out the post from her book, D is for Drinking Gourd, An African American Alphabet. Also, take a look at Nancy's new book, America's Black Founders: Revolutionary Heroes and Early Leaders.

You'll like it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interview with Irene Latham

My sweet friend, Irene Latham, has agreed to answer some questions about her brand new middle-grades novel, Leaving Gee's Bend. Irene describes the book as "heart-touching tales of unexpected adventure." Irene's own journey discovering the quilts of Gee's Bend and writing her book was an adventure, too.

Tell us a little bit about Ludelphia Bennett, your main character.

Ludelphia is ten years old and only has one eye that works. But her other eye is always on the lookout for color -- because it might be a bit of cloth she can put into her quilt. She loves stitching more than anything. And she loves her mama, too.

Talk some about the setting of the book.

The story is set in 1932 Gee's Bend, Alabama, which is just southwest of Selma. It's a tiny little community that's tucked away in a curve of the Alabama River. There's only one road in or out, and it's forty miles long. So it's remained pretty isolated throughout its history. And it's populated by descendants of slaves, who, at the time of our story, are sharecroppers.

What curriculum ties have you identified for teachers who would like to use your book in their classroom?

I created a book discussion guide (available at my website with ties across the curriculum: language arts, social studies, math, music, art. The quilting component combined with the historical element makes for rich, accessible material.

Have you developed teacher helps or extended activities for classroom use with your book?

In addition to the book discussion guide I created, an activity guide created by Frankie Germany, a Mississippi teacher, is also available at my website. It has activites presented in a tic-tac-toe squares, and students are asked to choose three activities to complete the tic-tac-toe puzzle. Again, the activities presented span the curriculum, with activites such as creating a story quilt, designing a new book jacket, writing an acrostic poem.

Can you give us examples of what you might include in a school visit focused on Leaving Gee’s Bend?

I will present my first school program in Flint, Michigan, later this week. My presentation includes a powerpoint with actual research documents: Farm Security Administration photos taken by Arthur Rothstein, quilt images, and newspaper scans. I've also written two of the scenes as Reader's Theater and have some artifacts to share, such as a 1930's quilt, cotton bolls, a sack dress.

Would you share some highlights of your journey from the glimmer of idea to published book on the shelf?

First and foremost would be that life-changing day when I first viewed the quilts of Gee's Bend at the Whitney in New York City. After that, I really didn't set out to write a novel -- I was just feeding my obsession with everything Gee's Bend. So, a couple of years later, when I found myself writing story snippets set in Gee's Bend, it felt like something I was meant to do all along. Moving through the writing process, I had a huge breakthrough when I switched my manuscript from third person to first person -- finally, there she was, Ludelphia, a living breathing girl. Other highlights include seeing the cover art for the first time, viewing the dedication page in galley form, and reading letters from a group of students whose teacher read the ARC to them. It's such a feeling of connection, of coming full circle, to enter the life of a reader and to jointly experience a piece of literature that for so long existed only within myself. It really is the very best part.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Interview with Media Specialist, Becky Coreno

Becky Coreno

Media Specialist

Gentian Elementary School

Columbus, GA

I’m delighted to welcome a good friend and a wonderful media specialist, Becky Coreno, to my blog today. Becky is well-known in media circles for her generous spirit and her knowledge of the media center.

Becky, tell us a about yourself and your experience in the library/media center.

I have been working in a library/media center almost since birth! No, just kidding, but I have worked since ninth grade in my high school library. I worked in my college library and started an elementary school library in 1971, before I graduated from college. Today, I am in my 38th year in an elementary school media center. I started as a “librarian” with plenty of books and a few filmstrips and cassette tapes. Now I am a “media specialist” who still has books with plenty of VRC tapes, CDs, DVDs, pod casting, voice threading, computers and software titles so numerous I can easily get mixed up using them if I don’t stay focused.

You've worked in the media center for a long time. What changes have you seen in recent years, both positive and negative?

Changes…….I have been a part of so many! My personal favorite change was when Georgia automated their media centers and the OPAC was created. It is the best change for students to have their card catalog of their media centers online so they can use them anytime at home, classroom or in the media center. OPAC stands for Online Public Access Catalog. It is a big improvement over the 50 drawer older version that was supposedly in alphabetical order. The negative change is that the position of a media specialist has so many duties to perform. We are still the librarian, the information specialist, the technology specialist, the tech who is supposed to be able to fix everything, and we still have books to shelve. There is never a dull moment in the media center with hard work and plenty of fun for everyone. Yes, I still love it!

How has the emphasis on standards changed your media center?

The emphasis on standards haven’t really changed for us because media specialists have always ordered materials for curriculum. The technology standards do require more individual help for each student in working on projects and more money to purchase needed equipment and up-to-date software programs, either for research or production.

In the current economy, how are your book-buying strategies changing?

The current economy has not been a friend to the media center. It is an easy place to make quick budget cuts in staff or in ordering materials. Materials for the media center have been going up in price just like everything else. Purchases are checked several times and put in order of need because we do not have the funds to purchase everything we need.

What trends do you see in students who frequent your library?

Reading trends of students can change from school to school and year to year. Our students at the moment love the graphic novels on any subject. They would not believe I had them in the 1960s called the “classic comic books.”

What are some of the most requested topics by students?

The most requested topics for students this year have been President Obama, GerĂ³nimo Stilton books, books about Georgia, and the graphic novels on social studies topics.

What book do you wish someone would write?

I wish an author would write about motivation for students. Why students need it and what would happen if they don’t take the opportunity to learn while in school. Let students know it is their job to learn so they can be productive adults. Maybe a time travel book would be good.

Some books Becky recently added to her collection:

A Journey through the Digestive System with Max Axiom, Super Scientist by Emily Sohn, Capstone Publishing

From the set, Economics in Action, by Crabtree Publishing:

What is Importing and Exporting?

What are Goods and Services?

What is Insurance?

What are Taxes?

What is Trade?

What is Scarcity of Resources?

Fancy Nancy: The Dazzling Book Report by Jane

O’Connor, (Turtleback-prebinder)

Veterans Day by Ansary, Mir Tamim, Heinemman-Raintree

Mysterious Cheese Thief by Geronimo Stilton (Turtleback-Prebinder)

Big Truck and Car Word Problems Starring Multiplication and Division

by Rebecca Wingard-Nelson, Enslow

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poetry Friday

It's late in the day, and the temperature is dropping again. Though it's nothing compared to the last week here in the Deep South. It makes me want to curl up beside a fire, wrap myself in fleece, and read a good book of poems. In honor of the day, the moment, the words, here's one from Emily Dickinson.

He ate and drank the precious Words --
His Spirit grew robust --
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was Dust --

He danced along the dingy Days
And this Bequest of Wings
Was but a Book -- What Liberty
A loosened spirit brings --

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blogging Book Reviews? Watch Out!

If you recommend books on your blog, you need to know this. The Federal Trade Commission issued new guidelines for bloggers. If you recommend a product, including books, you must “disclose material connections” for any product or service you endorse. No one seems to be sure yet how the FTC will enforce their new rules, but warnings and possible fines could be imposed.

I read about this first at Kristi Holl's blog, Writer's First Aid. For an easy to understand overview of the topic see Michael Hyatt's blog. Michael is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. His blog has recommendations for complying with the new guidelines. The disclaimer at the end of this post came from his blog post. Michael Cherenson, CEO for PRSA, says the guidelines are "advisory, but they will change the way public relations, advertising and marketing professionals need to approach certain strategies, tactics and heretofore best practices."

Because I am a book seller to schools, and many of my customers read my blog for book suggestions, I am choosing to use the disclaimer that states I receive books free, but am not required to recommend/review them. I only post recommendations for the books that I think are valuable and beneficial for my readers.

Thanks for continuing to stop by and visit with me.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Books!

I spent three freezing cold days in New Orleans last week attending the 2010 Delaney Book Launch. Many of our wonderful publishers were there with new books from their spring lists. I love new books. I love touching them, seeing the pictures, reading the text. I look forward to sharing them with you here on my blog.

I had lunch the first day with my boss at a hole in the wall restaurant in an alley behind the hotel in the French Quarter. I was glad it was daylight! I had coffee and beignets with my roommate at Cafe du Monde. I listened to publishers. I had more coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde with my daughter who drove over from Hattiesburg for the afternoon.

We ate dinner in front of a fire at a tiny little restaurant a few blocks from Jackson Square where we watched the Joan of Arc parade. It was the lady's birthday, and the parade came complete with Joan riding her horse with sword lifted, a fully armored knight, friars, maidens, and a host of somewhat normal people carrying lighted candles.

Here's an exciting new series from Bearport Publishing, called Amphibiana. What a great cover! It makes me want to read. How about you? It's high interest/low level reading. ATOS levels aren't in yet, but it should be about third grade reading level. With habitat maps, vivid photographs, and fact boxes, this series should be a hit with the kids. Natalie Lunis is the author of this one, but the set includes other writers.

Complete set includes:
Amazing Water Frogs
Leaping Ground Frogs
Little Newts
Slimy Salamanders
Tricky Tree Frogs
Warty Toads

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Wrong Voice

Happy New Year! Okay, I'm a bit late.

I started the new year feeling a little like this seagull. Stranded. Stuck between the shore and the sea. Disconnected. Doubting whether I could ever write a single word of interest to anyone. Who do I think I am? What in the world am I doing? Do I have anything of value worth saying? Why would anyone want to listen?

You get it. Right? I know you do if you're a writer. And if you're a reader, you probably get it, too. All of us are subject to attacks by the wrong voice. The one you tend to listen to when you shouldn't. The one that pounds you, one wave after another, with negative thoughts, discouragement, and flat-out lies.

So here are a few things that have helped me get off the sand bar. Maybe they will be helpful to you, too.

1. Identify the negative message. Write it down.

2. Ask yourself where it comes from. Is it the voice of the world around you trying to force you into a mold you don't fit? Is it a voice from the enemy of your soul who would be happy to destroy you? Is is a voice from a wounded place within yourself?

3. If it's from the world, then you have to decide where and how you want to fit into that world. Then refute the negative voice based on your choice. If it's from the enemy, know that he has been a liar from the beginning, and you don't have to listen. If it's from wounds within your heart, then find someone you can talk to, whether it's a counselor or a valued friend, and begin to walk toward healing.

3. Replace the lie with the truth. Write it down. Scripture calls this "taking every thought captive." Look back over your notes regularly. Listen to the right voice. Believe it.

4. Find community. Connect with people in a writer's group, a reading group, a Bible study, or church group. Find a community of people that are nurturing and encouraging, and be with them regularly.

May blessing and truth be yours as you begin a new day, a new year, a new book.