Missouri Gateway Nominees- Training and Read Alikes

I was tasked with reading this years Gateway nominees and presenting a mini training for other librarians in our district. I thought I would share my book-talks, slides, and read-alikes with my followers. I had mixed feeling about this year’s nominees. I felt that the group as a whole was rather depressing. There are a lot of heavy topics and not a lot of humor. On their own I feel that most of the books were pretty good stories but together they made me a bit bummed out. I really think that teens need some happy mixed in with hot topic books. I am hoping that next year includes a few books with humor. From the statistics at our library Eleanor and Park, 5th Wave, The Naturals, and Out of the easy, seem to be the most popular with our teens. My vote for the award winner is “Eleanor and Park.”

Read-Alikes for the Gateway Nominees-


Slide Presentation-


On my slides are a few book posters that I made on Canva. If you are interested, please message me and I will send them to you!


Multipurpose Library Puffs and a giveaway!

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So why am I posting a picture of giant pom poms? Because they are stinking awesome! They were an impulse purchase from Joann’s Fabric Store last year. I am a sucker for glittery objects and these were on clearance for under a dollar. My Mister was less than enthused and asked what I was going to do with them. I think I replied with “The real question is what can’t you do with them?!!”

When I took them to work, my fellow Librarians were pretty excited. I mean giant cheap pom-pom kind of excited. We really are easy to please! Since then I have used them in lots of programs.

  • They became Wuzzle fluffs for Dr. Seuss’s birthday celebration. The kids tossed them at the Cat’s hats.
  • They were asteroids and moon rocks for two Space story-times.
  • Teens threw them at each other for our Maze Runner program. They are really soft no matter how hard you throw them!
  • The white ones will be used for an indoor snowball fight.
  • The black pom-poms became rocks to throw at Orcs and trolls for our Hobbit Day party.

That is just a small example of what we have used them for. They are pretty durable for passing through that many programs and kids hands! It’s proof that sometimes the most random purchases can be super useful. You can still find them online here.

I am sure that we will come up with more ideas in the future. Till then … What would you use them for? The best answer gets a package of giant pom-poms of their own! Leave a comment below with your answer and I will pick my favorite. You have until September 30th to answer! Be creative and be wacky!


Photos of the day: Research

School is back in session. That means lots of kids are going to be hitting the books. I recommend utilizing your library as much as possible and asking your friendly library staff for help. Not that I am biased or anything like that!

Doing this can lead to this without the help of a Librarian:

It’s my job to help you find the right article and database for you needs. I actually like that part of my job!

We don’t bite! I promise. Unless it’s a full moon and then all bets are off! Seriously, I really like helping people find the right book or article for their research. I also love helping patrons learn how to use the databases.

Lots of Libraries offer this service as well as many other options to get the help that you need. We have an ask  a librarian chat set up that is monitored during open hours.

Finally, if you are doing a major project and are stuck be sure to do this:


Books challenged the most in 2013

Each year ALA releases a list of the books that receive the most challenges for the previous year. You can see the backlog here. The top 10 for 2013 are listed below with an explanation of what made them challenged.  Captain Underpants seems to always be on the list near the top so no surprises there. I was surprised by the “Bone” series making the top 10 this year.

While I have not personally had to deal with challenges, I have had to deal with age appropriate items when I worked at the schools. My previous job was at a Kindergarten through 4th grade building. Our library collection had been purchased as a starter kit. While it is easier to get books on the shelves with this method, it did lead to lots of weeding for age appropriate materials. There were many books that would be great for Junior High or High School readers but not great for Elementary students. Whatever was pulled was sent to another library in the district where those materials would be used. It could be viewed as censorship however, we saw it as getting books into the right readers hands.

That being said, I am curious as to what you all might think of our choices. Was this censorship?  I am thinking of exploring this topic a bit more in a future post depending on the response.

Here are the top 10 challenged books for 2013- (List taken from Christian Science Monitor and ALA)

1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

4. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Graphic Round-up- Ordinary People change the world

Each month I want to feature a new graphic novel for Children or Teens. My hope is to share titles that would be great for the library (either School or Public) and for personal use. I am always open for suggestions and I love to do reviews. If you know of a great series that every library should own please share in the comments below.

I really love graphic novels and comics. I think they are a great options for all kinds of readers. They are slowly gaining in popularity since geek is the new sheikh. Comics for kids have notoriously been lacking for many years in many areas. Thankfully, I am starting to see a wide variety in the publishing world. My favorites have been the History, Science and Biography graphics for kids. They are a great way to get across sometimes boring material in a new and memorable way.

Today’s graphics are a new series by the author Brad Meltzer. Fed up with the poor examples set by celebrities, he has created a series that celebrates ordinary people. These books showcase popular Historical figures in a whole new way.. as kids! The first two are about Abraham Lincoln and Amelia Earhart and were released this month. Before I review, I encourage you to check out the New York Daily News article: Brad Meltzer creates heroes for children

Abraham Lincoln only went to school for one year and still managed to be one of the most celebrated Presidents in American History. Through out the story Mr. Lincoln tells his story of overcoming ordinary obstacles that lead to great things as he becomes an adult. The story of how he stood up to bullies who were victimizing a turtle and then later himself, is a wonderful way to show that even  great people have hard moments. I really loved how it showed his humanity and gave kids tangible examples that they can use in real life. It’s truly heroic that he freed the slaves but that is something that takes a while for a child to grasp. They can understand what is means to be picked on. I also loved that he mentions that he will be on a Penny someday!

The illustrations are perfect for the story and the age of the readers. It is not so much a history book and more of an encouragement to be the best that you can be.. even on ordinary days.

Ages: 5-8 years (target) I recommend all ages!

Amelia Earhart was a little girl who never took “NO” for an answer. When someone told her that proper ladies don’t behave that way she ignored them and tried harder. Because of her daring and perseverance she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. This is a very inspiring book for girls and women that encourages you to pursue your dreams despite what others might say. This was my favorite so far. I loved seeing her as a little girl and watching her start her flying lessons. The fact that she wasn’t perfect from the beginning is something that lots of kids and adults can relate to. Plus her flight outfit is really charming!

Ages:  5-8 years (target) I recommend all ages!

The next books in the series will be about Rosa Parks and Albert Einstein. Rosa Parks will be released in June. I highly recommend both of these for Librarians, Parents and Teachers. They are so full of optimism and encouragement. It is a great way to show real heroes vs. pop divas.


2014 Newbery and Caldecott Winners announced!

The American Library Association has just announced the 2014 Youth Media Awards. I am very excited that one of my favorite titles won the Newbery. I thought I would share the list with my readers and my thoughts on the winners. Congrats to the Authors and Illustrators! Also, a shout out to the men and women on the awards committees. You had an extremely difficult task. The long months of reading, deciding, and agonizing are over. You chose the best of the best so don’t listen to the negatives! Well done!

Link to the list of 2014 award winners

Newbery 2014 Winner–  

Flora and Ulyssess: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell (illustrations)














What do you get when you mix a superhero squirrel and a young cynic? You get another brilliant story from the author Kate DiCamillo. Flora is a young cynic who would rather read her favorite comic series “Terrible things can happen to you” than deal with her Mother, a typewriter crazed romance novelist. One fateful day she rescues a squirrel after he is sucked up by a vacuum cleaner and her world forever changes. Ulysses is not just a squirrel but a budding superhero/poet in the making. Will their friendship last? Will Ulysses ever get a doughnut?

I highly recommend this book. I love how it is a story and graphic novel wrapped into one beautiful book. The illustrations are charming and the story is quirky with lots of heart.

Newbery Honor books:











Doll Bones,” written by Holly Black and published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.











The Year of Billy Miller,” written by Kevin Henkes and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.











One Came Home,” written by Amy Timberlake and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.










Paperboy,” written by Vince Vawter and published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.


We did a Mock Caldecott at the Public Library where I work a few weeks back. We chose Journey by Aaron Becker as the winner. Our honor choices were The Dark  by Lemony Snicket, Jon Klassen (Illustrations) and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywelt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

I honestly was surprised that Journey didn’t take the award this year. However, I am very pleased with the winner. It is a visually stunning book. The illustrations are vivid and bold. I also love that the fonts for the text are as beautiful as the illustrations. It is a great choice.

Caldecott Winner 2014-

Locomotive by Brian Floca (Author & Illustrator) 

Hop on board a train to the west! Learn all about Locomotives in this visually stunning book. Read all about steam engines, workers, train tracks and more in this fast moving picture book by Brian Floca. Not only are the illustrations a joy, the text is artistic and fun. This is a great book for all ages and a perfect fit for kids who are crazy about trains.

Caldecott Honor books-










Journey,” written and illustrated by Aaron Becker and published by Candlewick Press













Flora and the Flamingo,” written and illustrated by Molly Idle and published by Chronicle Books LLC









Mr. Wuffles!” written and illustrated by David Wiesner and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the winners or do you think that there were better choices? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Missouri Book Award nominees for 2014-2015

Below are the final nominees for the the Mark Twain and Show Me Reader awards for 2014-2015. So far I have read the Privateer’s Apprentice, Ordinary Magic and Chomp. I hope to post reviews on each book with discussion questions for children’s book clubs. Our library does a Chat and Chew program with the schools. The kids have one book to read each month from the Mark Twain list and then we meet in the school library for lunch and discussion. It’s a pretty fun program and starting to really gain momentum in our area. One elementary school does this program with the Show Me books for the second grade students.

This is a great way to partner with school librarians and bring attention to State book awards. Many school libraries cannot afford multiple copies of the award nominees so having the public library as a support is really helpful. It gives more students the opportunity to read these books. Plus, kids love to eat in the library!

Anyone else have a similar program that brings the public and school library together? I would love to hear about new programs and ideas.


Mark Twain- 4th Grade – 6th Grade


 Author  Title  Publisher
 Susan Verrico  Privateer’s Apprentice  Peachtree
 R.J. Palacio  Wonder  Alfred A. Knopf
 Lutricia Clifton  Freaky Fast Frankie Joe  Holiday House
 Kate Messner  Capture the Flag  Scholastic Press
 Caitlen Rubino-Bradway  Ordinary Magic  Bloomsbury
 Tim Green  Pinch Hit  HarperCollins
 Joanne Rocklin  The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook  Harry N. Abrams
 Amy Gordon  The Shadow Collector’s Apprentice  Holiday House
 Carl Hiaasen  Chomp  Alfred A. Knopf
 Frank N. McMillan, III  The Young Healer  Mackinac Island Press
 Christopher Paul Curtis  The Mighty Miss Malone  Wendy Lamb Books
 Rebecca Stead  Liar & Spy  Wendy Lamb Books



Show Me- Kindergarten – Second Grade


 Author  Illustrator  Title  Publisher
 Doreen Rapaport  Matt Travares  Helen’s Big World  Disney-Hyperion
 Aaron Reynolds  Peter Brown  Creepy Carrots!  Simon & Schuster
 Mary Casanova  Ard Hoyt  Some Cat!  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
 Rick Walton  Wes Hargis  I Need My Own Country  Bloomsbury
 Tony Buzzeo  David Small  One Cool Friend  Dial
 Sarah Stewart  David Small  The Quiet Place  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
 Jacqueline Woodson  E.B. Lewis  Each Kindness  Nancy Paulsen Books
 Jo S. Kittinger Thomas Gonzalez  The House on Dirty-Third Street  Peachtree
 Bill Harley  Adam Gustavson  Lost and Found  Peachtree
 David Shannon  Same  Jangles: a Big Fish Story  The Blue Sky Press