Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Read it and weep (for joy)

Grace Lin is blogging about her experiences at ALA this year.

Whether she is describing a lovely vacation trip or her Newbery dinner dress hunt, her accounts make you feel like you are there. Gracenotes readers feel like they are a close friends who are privileged to share these moments with her.

Grace admits there were moments she had to try very hard not to cry at the luncheon Little, Brown gave in her honor. Read her eloquent words about Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

If you do not tear up, there is no hope for you. I am awash.

So so so so so happy for Grace.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Out of the ordinary animal stories

Shrews and beavers and elephants, oh my! Beaver Is Lost 

Beaver is Lost by Elisha Cooper. Schwartz & Wade, 2010

This nearly wordless story begins with the words,"Beaver is lost," and  follows a beaver riding a log down a river, to the logging truck, to a lumber yard in a big city.  We follow beaver in a sort of "make way for ducklings" fashion, across back yards, through swimming pools, and into storm drains as he travels through the city.  Unlike McCloskey's classic, beaver's progress is unremarked except by a dog, a mouse and a child. The busy people passing by seem to be completely unaware of his presences as he moves from left to right across the pages.  Cooper's watercolors are at once simple yet detailed.  The reader can easily follow his progress through the bustling panels.  Can Beaver find his way home?  

I immediately thought of how I would pair this book with a nonfiction book on beavers and their habitat.

The Taming of Lola: A Shrew StoryThe Taming of Lola, a Shrew Story: a picture book in five acts by Ellen Weiss, illustrated by Jerry Smath. Abrams, 2010

Lola is a contrarian in every way and excels at tantrum throwing, fit pitching and foot stomping.   When her cousin Lester arrives for a visit, Lola realizes she has met her match.  Lester can out-yell, out-scream and out-do any fuss Lola makes. You can only applaud the planning that brought these two egos together and it is fun to watch as this irresistible force meets this immovable object.  Jerry Smath's friendly illustrations enhance the comedy of a story with its roots in Shakespeare's classic play.

The ThingamabobThe Thingamabob by Il Sung Na. Knopf, 2008
Children will quickly identify the " thingamabob" that elephant finds. Elephant cannot fathom what this object is or what is its purpose.  Neither can his friends. When it begins to rain, they do figure out what the thingamabob is good for. Color and texture and elegant lines define the look and humor of this story.  Unusual, whimsical and very appealing.

Barry the Fish with FingersBarry, the Fish with Fingers by Sue Hendra.  Knopf, 2010
Long before chicken nuggets, there were fish fingers,  the frozen food of choice for kids' easy dinners on babysitter nights or evening PTA meetings. 

Most kids can spot them at 50 paces which is why the cover of this book will immediately resonate with ironic weirdness.  When a fish has fingers, there is nothing he cannot do. My favorite part, "Fingers mean FINGER PUPPETS!"  Life will never be boring again under the sea.  Fingers save lives too! 

I can't wait to use this as a read aloud. 

The Eensy Weensy Spider Freaks Out (Big Time)The Eensy Weensy Spider Freaks Out! (Big-Time!)  written and illustrated by Troy Cummings, Random House, 2010

Kids know the song, now they can learn "the rest of the story."   The eensy weensy spider is traumatized by her recent plunge "down the water spout" and vows to never climb again.  Lady Bug helps her rebuild her confidence one leg at at time until there are no heights she will not scale.  The story calls on the child's knowledge of the popular song and other spider/ladybug nursery rhymes.  

There are easy to read word balloons filled with funny dialog.  Spider's climbs are visualized with dotted and dashed lines so the reader can  follow the spider's progress.
Cummings' sketchy style  is a mix of retro cartoons overlaid with timeless Chuck Jones. Very fun.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Spilling Ink

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's HandbookSpilling Ink: a young writer's handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter, illustrated by Matt Phelan.  Roaring Brook, 2010

Over the years I have purchased many 'how to write' books for my entlings.  Avid readers all, they have all embarked on a writing life in one way or other.  

Spilling Ink is by far the best, most easy to read, and helpful "how to think about writing" handbook I have ever encountered for young (and not so young) writers.

Mazer and Potter have created a  book that is chock full of help, advice, and concrete ways to jump start characters, plots, settings, and dialogue. They offer methods for revising and critiquing. Each of the  short chapters is signed "by Ellen" or "by Anne" and concludes with a "I Dare You" challenge that underscores the point of the chapter.  Just perusing the "I Dare You"s will start imaginations spinning.
I DARE YOU:  Think of an event that you wouldn't ordinarily consider suspenseful. It might be waiting or the school bus, walking the dog, or visiting your grandparents. Create a situation in which this every day event suddenly becomes incredibly suspenseful. 

Their suggestions are practical, not abstract.  They share their own struggles with humor and candor.  They interview each other at the end of the book, sharing their early inspirations and adding more background about their writing lives. 

The book's design and organization  is thoughtful and well planned.  There was  not an index in my ARC but the table of contents can be scanned quickly.  Nicely-sized print with easy-on-the-eyes spacing encourages dipping in at any point or reading from the first page straight through to the end. Excellent use of white space and strategic placement of  Matt Phelan's illustrations further enhance the readability.  His boys and girls are of diverse ethnicities so any child can picture themselves as a young writer.  Phelan shows kids writing on computers, in notebooks, at desks and on window sills.

Potter and Mazer's discussion of different literary elements is useful not only to kids trying to write with them,  but for teachers trying to introduce them as a tool for literature interpretation.
Using Mazer's and  Potter's ideas for writing prompts could go a long way towards helping students understand these concepts.  It is easier to recognize a metaphor if you've had the experience of writing one. 

Do buy some copies for your library and then BOOK TALK it so they will know it is there.  Open it up so they see the kid friendly format.   This book could too easily disappear into the  800s of a library collection which would be a waste.  If there are  young'uns in your life who scribble away all day in notebooks, leave a copy of the book where they will find it.  Do tread gently.  Writing kids are fiercely protective of their writing and will brook no interference, no matter how kindly intended. 

When they do pick it up, Mazer and Potter are there with them, in the chair, on their bed, in the windowsill  as the ideas fly, offering assurance, encouragement and help.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Camp

BookPeople Bookstore in Austin, Texas, is such a great bookstore. They are the home of the original Camp Halfblood Day Camp. Over the years, the program has grown and they are now a licensed day camp with the great state of Texas.

In past years, BookPeople Literary Camps, have hosted a Kiki Strike camp and this year a new Ranger's Apprentice Camp, based on John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series was introduced. So much cool stuff to learn here!

Imagine being able to drop into your favorite book like this and hang out with other kids who love the books too.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Global Warming

Global Warming 
 Nonfiction Bummer!

As librarians know, children who enjoy nonfiction often identify their choices as "true" books.

Global Warming by Seymour Simon.  HarperCollins, 2010

Seymour Simon's books are beloved.  I can personally attest to the popularity of Lightning, Tornadoes, Sharks and Storms. The bindings of my library copies were loose and the page edges were softened from many turnings. The imprimatur of the Smithsonian Institution now gives his books additional authority.

Alas, I suspect this title has fallen victim to the Pluto Effect.  When Pluto lost its planet status, libraries had to scramble to update their space/planet collections. In the meantime, did the Pluto books get chucked-out?  It was still a dwarf planet. The information in the books was still accurate in many ways.  It was just the conclusion that Pluto was a planet that was the issue.  Was it enough to put up disclaimers until new material could be acquired?

Similarly, late in 2009, when data gathering problems and accusations of data loss, fabrication and manipulation at the  National Climatic Data Center  and  British University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit,  were revealed, seemingly de facto conclusions about the Earth's climate were called into question.  Even the vaunted IPCC had to apologize  for "misrepresenting" Himalayan glacier-melting data.  

The publishing cycle is long.  The folks at HarperCollins could not have foreseen Climategate.

Global warning
Simon addresses the issue of global warming by presenting the concept and outlining the possible causes.  He writes, "In 2007, a report by 2,500 scientists from 130 countries concluded that humans are responsible for much of the current warming."   

I checked the back for a 'works cited' or 'references' but the citation to this "2007 report" was not included.
Which report?
Who issued it?
I assume he is referring to the IPPC's 2007 report that won them a Nobel prize?  This book is an introduction to the subject.  Could he have not at least included the title of the report?
We teach kids to ALWAYS cite a direct reference. To not do that here is bad modeling.

Simon's writing style is always straight forward and engaging.   He explains the terminology well and presents a good overview of different sources of greenhouse gases and summarizes why scientists believe they are affecting the  climate.

Breathtaking photos of adorable polar bear families are featured inside the book and on the cover.  These animals have certainly become the poster child-animal for all global warming books.   They must have a deal with the WWF that no book on this subject can be published without their faces on the cover. 

The use of photographs is a Seymour Simon trademark.  In this title the photos are used to illustrate "concepts" of flooding, drought, air pollution etc. but slip towards reportage of Simon's speculations.

Simon repeats the much disputed claim that should the Antarctic ice cap melt, sea levels would rise 20 feet.  Although he qualifies it with " does not look as if the entire ice cap will melt any time soon..." the statement is illustrated with a photo of people, caught unaware, struggling through dangerous flood waters.  The photo, covering 2/3 of the page,  gives the impression that the flooding from rising sea levels could happen at any moment instead of over a millennia.

The rooftops of homes and red barns barely show above the flood waters  on page 18. The image is more reminiscent of  river flooding in Nashville or the Midwest than the coastal flooding it is supposed to be illustrating.  There are no captions so the reader has no idea where the photo was taken or what caused this flood.  If the goal is an emotional punch, the pictures work, but as photographic evidence of rising sea levels, I think not.

His juxtaposition of two photos of the Grinnell and Salamander Glaciers from 1957 and from 2004 is well done and depicts the retreat of the glaciers. The camera angle appears to be the same. 

He discusses  the threat to coral reefs caused by the El Niño weather pattern and even shares a frightening photo of a dead reef, bleached white.   Is the El Niño/El Niña pattern unnatural and the direct result of  global warming?   Did global warming cause the demise of this particular coral reef? This seems to be the implication.  Is this true?

Simon  admits the Earth's climate is "very complex, and many factors play important roles in determining how the climate changes." (p. 9)  He goes on to list some of the "natural variations" that could play a role.  Unfortunately, none of the "natural variations" are worthy of a photo apparently.  
A picture is worth, how many words?  
 Is it honest to show an industrial smokestack emitting--well, what is that exactly? Particulate? Or is it steam? (no captions) and NOT show the "natural" Mount Pinatubo eruption?

On page 27, Simon concedes, "Our planet may be going through a natural cycle of getting warmer" and acknowledges that there is a debate about what humans can do about it. Readers, without prior knowledge, will not gain any insight into the nature of the debate though.   The photos of cars, industry and city smog suggest the only explanation could be man-made global warming.  His earlier statement that "most scientists agree that something different is happening now."(p. 9) seems to imply the absence of debate which is  disingenuous as  large portions of the scientific community do  NOT agree that global warming is caused by humans. 

He lists the often-repeated things people can do to use less energy.  A photo of a wind turbine and a solar panel illustrate some alternative ways of energy production.   He does not share the environmental hazards posed by the fluorescent light bulbs he suggests nor the potential health risks from living near wind turbines.  The heavy burden on family budgets and nations' economies that higher energy costs will cause are also not addressed.

  • The climate needs to be studied. 
  • Data needs to be gathered. 
  • Scientists need to work, honestly to understand climate pattens and changes.  
  • Children benefit from an introduction to these issues but they deserve a balanced, not sensationalized presentation on  the subject.
    They want a "true" book.

    To sum up:
  1. Good on ya-s for including a good glossary and an index, along with a list of "Read More About It" websites, and for showcasing the case for man-made global warming.  The Seymour Simon book style photos are beautiful and high quality and sourced at the front of the book.

  2. Bummers for NO captions, NO list of of sources, and for photos with NO context, as well as questionable and manipulative photo choices and positioning. Bummers for dashing my hopes that the Smithsonian imprimatur would deliver an even-handed, kid friendly look at this issue. 
Simon's books have a long shelf life.  Hopefully, the next edition will  better documented and reflect new research.  I know page real estate is precious in a child's nonfiction but they should have squeezed in a list of sources for their speculations.  I hope they did more research than just watch one  movie.

That would be...inconvenient.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I am a Harry Potter Fan-atic

I totally enjoyed this review,
"Muggles Take Flight at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter"
in the NYTimes.

I want to goooooooooo.

I got a little teary watching the Genzlinger's video of Ollivander's Wand Shop.
Shoot, I get teary just hearing John William's theme music.

It HAS been a long three years.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Friday, June 11, 2010

Young Pelé: soccer's first star

In honor of the start of The World Cup and all the fans in my family who will be watching: This review originally appeared as a NonFiction Monday post in March 2008. Schwartz& Wade reminded me of this title in their FaceBook update today.

Young Pele: Soccer's First StarYoung Pelé: soccer's first star by Lesa Cline-Ransome, paintings by James E. Ransome; Schwartz&Wade Books, 2007

James Ransome's illustrations shine in this picture book biography of Edson do Nascimento, who would be known to the world as Pelé. Using the greens, yellows and blues of the Brazilian flag Ransome paints luminous scenes of Edson's school, family and soccer life.

Edson struggled in school and his first soccer ball was "a sock stuffed with rags, rolled up and tied with string." His inability to focus in class resulted in reprimands and punishments but soccer was always foremost in his mind. His team, the Shoeless Ones, became a force in the city's soccer leagues. His nickname, Pelé, was bestowed at this young age.

The author describes the work ethic of the team; they sold peanuts and shined shoes to earn money for uniforms. The reader is reminded that talent also requires practice, drills, coaching and teamwork to suceed.

There is much here for the young soccer enthusiast to enjoy. Pelé traps, heads, dribbles and boots the ball across the pages. The creators of this biography, score, indeed.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Finish

Well, I managed to read 5 books in total with two more titles that are DNF (did not finish,) 

Highlights of the challenge were Saving Juliet, Bamboo People and A Good Horse.

Did not finish Hurricane Gold and The Red Pyramid


Hours of Reading:  16 hours and 30 minutes

Hours of Listening: 1 hour and 06 minutes
Pages read:  1447 pages
Pages listened to:  Have no idea, the bizarre Southern belle accent drove me mad 
Blogging time:  6 hours and 45 min.

Time devoted to 5th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge (I owe it all to Treebeard and the entling who helped me play) = 25 hours and 21 min.

And a Thank YOU!

 I have to add my thanks to MotherReader who had the idea for this annual challenge 5 years ago.  She also helps organize the Kidlitosphere comment challenge in January. 

Our blogs WERE the beginning of this community that has become known as the Kidlitosphere and we have benefited and enjoyed sharing this passion and interest for children's and YA books with other folks who were equally interested and enthused.  Over time, we have found other ways to connect through Facebook and Twitter and conferences but in the beginning it was the blogs.  Both of these challenges provide us with the opportunity to refocus and comment and reconnect with each other through our blogs. 

I am very grateful that MR has kept the challenge tradition alive and that so many of you participate!  Thank you for all the comments and the fun!

Book 7: A Good Horse

A Good HorseA Good Horse by Jane Smiley.  Knopf, 2010.

The Georges and the JewelsThis is a WONDERFUL  horse story.  I loved every part of it.  I have not read The Georges and the Jewels but I am going to find it  ASAP. 

Abby Lovitt is a natural rider. She works hard on her family's California ranch where her parents train and trade horses.  Abby knows that most of the horses are not there forever but she loves them, especially Jack a beautiful gelding which she is is training herself.  

Jack's origins are called into question when the Lovitts receive a letter from a private investigator,  who is tracing the whereabouts of four mares that were stolen from a ranch in Texas. As the PI shares more and more information, the family realizes they may own a foal sired by the champion Jaipur.

Meanwhile, Abby is training a jumper Black George, another of the Lovitt horses.
This book is a horse lover's dream. There are detailed descriptions of the techniques of jumping and training horses in general.  Smiley deftly weaves in rich background on equine conformation, equipment, jodhpurs, riding boots, ranch life and horse care.

I must also make mention of the exquisite pen and ink drawings by Elaine Clayton that begin each chapter.  She as created detailed illustrations of equestrian equipment, tools, and apparel. There are precise renderings of different jumps, saddles, stirrups, boot hooks and hoof picks. 

Abby balances her school life and social life with her responsibilities at home.   Her family belongs to a Christian church that meets for many hours on Sunday  Her parents tithe and do not work on the Sabbath.  We learn that they do not own a television or attend movies.  Some  authors present parents with deep Christian beliefs like this as narrow minded, judgmental and unfair.  It is so easy to fall back on  the "rebellious teen vs  holy rollers" plot device but Smiley does not go there in this book.  There are issues in the family as a rift with Abby's brother has clearly developed because of her parents' beliefs but I have not read her earlier book about the family. 

I appreciated though, that Smiley does not mock these parents.  They are trying to balance their beliefs and Abby's needs.  Many teens participate in worship services and have a deep faith.  It is encouraging to find a  book where this is not depicted as something aberrant or sinister.

Interesting, now that I ponder it, that faith is an element in three of the books I finished during this challenge:  Bamboo People, Taken and A Good Horse

My copy of A Good Horse is an arc I picked up at TLA

Reading time for this book:  4 hrs
Pages: 246
Blogging/reviewing time:  1 hr.

Book 6: Audiobooking Hurricane Gold

Hurricane Gold (A Young James Bond Adventure) (Young Bond Series, Book 4)(Library Edition)I may have mentioned before how much I esteem the narration powers of British actor Nathaniel Parker.  His performance of the Artemis Fowl books is up there with Jim Dale's Harry Potter tour de force. 

Similarly, his Young James Bond readings are so well done that I only listen to the books.   His patrician tones are a perfect match for the Eton College educated Bond and his facility with voice characterizations works with the different characters brilliantly.

Needless to say, I have been awaiting the USA release of the Hurricane Gold audiobook rather anxiously.  As happens sometimes, there is a weird time lag between the time the book was released in the UK and over here but all is forgiven, I've downloaded the audiobook and WHAT????

These are not the dulcet tones of Nathaniel Parker!! This is Gerard Doyle who I enjoyed very VERY much reading Gideon the Cutpurse: Being the First Part of the Gideon Trilogy but this is James Bond!! 


Parker did record Hurricane Gold and the next book, By Royal Command and according to their website, I can still buy his version for a packet of $$ from BBC Audiobooks.  Apparently, Blackstone is now the distributer for the audiobooks here in the USA.  The first three were available through Random House Listening Library. The change must have been because of the money. I always tell my entlings, "follow the money."

My attempts at ILL the Nathaniel Parker version, through World Cat, from Australia were unsuccessful.   Drat and Blast. 

OK, so, for the challenge, I've been trying to give this new version a chance.   
No. Sorry.  

Doyle's attempt at an American  Southern accent sounds demented--as bad as, say, Dick Van Dyke attempting a Cockney accent.  

This is very sad for me.  Young James Bond Fail.

Audiobook listening time: 1 hr. 06  min.
Blogging time:  45 min.

Book 5: Taken

TakenTakenTaken by Edward Bloor.   Knopf, 2007

Bloor never disappoints me.  His subjects are always original. Taken is no exception. This story is set in a future where kidnapping protocols, victim behavior and survival techniques,  are taught as part of the school curriculum in the same way "fire safety" and "dental hygiene" are taught now.

The new year has just turned over to  2036 when Charity is taken.  As she lies strapped to a gurney, watching the clock, she prays that her father is paying the ransom and that she will soon be released unharmed. 
In order to quell her rising panic, she relives the weeks prior to the kidnapping in detail, trying to keep her mind preoccupied and off the looming threat. 

The book was originally published in 2007.  Charity refers to her research paper on  the issue of "The World Credit Crash" that has forced people to horde and hide their hard currency.  Given the troubles in the world economies today, that was pretty forward looking, I must say. 

Interesting to see the two covers for the book. The original shows a close-up of a chess board with the pieces in play.  The paperback edition is a scene from the book depicting Charity being taken from the compound in Florida where she lives.
Interesting book.  Glad I read it.  Semi-odd ending.  Trying to think if that was the best resolution.  Maybe so.

My copy was an ARC picked up at TLA a few years ago.  So good to be catching up, somewhat.

Reading time:  3 hours 45 min.
Pages read: 247 
Blogging/review writing:  30 min.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge update

Spending some time checking other blogs to see what everyone is reading. So many pages are turning in books I have never heard of.  

Blogging time:  1 hr. 15 min.

Now, almost at the half way point, time for some time sub totals:
Reading Time:  7 hrs. 45 min.
Pages Read:   954
Blogging/commenting/reviewing/blog reading:  4 hr. 30 min.
SubTotal:  12 hrs 15 min.

Back to reading.

Book 4: The Summer of Moonlight Secrets

The Summer of Moonlight SecretsThe Summer of Moonlight Secrets by Danette Haworth.  Walker Books, 2010

Summer at a historic hotel in Florida.  Allie Jo, daughter of the hotel owners, sees a mysterious girl emerge from the springs one night.  Who is she? What is she?

Cute boy, Chase,  there with father who is travel writer.  Secret of the girl a clue to what happened to his mother?

Ok, sort of cute story.   Great cover made me pick up the ARC.

Reading time:  1 hr. 45 min.
Pages:  227
Blogging time/review writing:  2 hours

Book 3: Bamboo People

Bamboo PeopleBamboo People by Mitali Perkins, Charlesbridge, 2010

Oh     My     Goodness!

Mitali Perkins has written something here that is so fine, so rare,  so beautiful, that I am loath to move on to another book too quickly because I want to think and remember and savor this exquisite story. 

Chiko only wants to become a teacher.  His father is a political prisoner of the Burmese government.  The army conscripts Chiko, forcing him into service.  Studious by nature, he is unprepared for this brutal life but a friendship with a savvy, streetwise conscript named Tai, saves him while he gains strength to endure the random cruelty of the captain who oversees his unit.

Tu Reh is a Karenni teen who has seen his life, his home and village disrupted and destroyed by the very army that Chiko is now a part of.  Their lives intersect and each of them must survive  the ugly hand that fate has dealt them.  

This is such a powerful and emotional story. Told in Chiko's and Tu Reh's voices, the chapters are short which keeps the story moving and will keep readers at all levels engaged.  

This is a beautiful tale of faith and hope.  I am pondering now the best way to booktalk it.  Kids MUST find this book.  

Reading time:  2 hrs

Pages read:  272

Book 2: Saving Juliet

So I began my 48 hours with  Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid.  Then I fell asleep.  (see previous post.)

Saving Juliet So.  rebooted this a.m. with: 
Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors.  Walker Books, 2008
I have had this on the TBR stack for a long time.
I would order this tomorrow for my junior high/high school library.  Romeo and Juliet is the play that introduces most students to Wm Shakespeare. As you recall, it ends badly for Romeo and Juliet.

Mimi Wallingford, the latest generation of a great acting dynasty (shades of Drew Barrymore) is performing with teen idol Troy Summer in Romeo and Juliet.  Her over-controlling mother is ruining her life, pilfering her trust fund and thwarting Mimi's plans to ditch the theater and study premed in college.  Troy Summers is a self centered jerk and stage fright is going to ruin her career anyway.  She wishes she could be anywhere else but Manhattan and finds herself in 16th century Verona in the middle of a feud between two families, the Capulets and the Montagues--oh, and some guy named Tybalt is trying to kill her. 


Time read:  2 hr 30 min. 
Pages:  256

Blogging time: 45 min.

Oh and be sure to check out Kelly Fineman's Brush Up Your Shakespeare Month Challenge

Book 1: The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1)HahahahahahahahahA!  
Well, here is some advice to people who are starting a reading challenge. 
Do NOT enjoy a delicious margarita with delicious dinner before starting a reading challenge. 

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan.  Hyperion, 2010

Time read:   1hr 30 min. -- then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Pages read:  119

Friday, June 04, 2010

Fifth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge

And I'm off on the annual adventure known as the 48 Hour Book Challenge. See the rules here at MotherReader's blog.  

Graduation parties to attend, church on Sunday and other demands on my time but I will see how much I can accomplish.  

Let the reading commence.

The Last Day of School

I got to sub in a library today and I was happy to be walking into a school on the very last day of the school year. 

There was a giddy frenzy in the steps of the children as they piled off buses and charged through the doors. "No running!"  I called to kids who were tearing past me early this morning and about to encounter the door with their craniums instead of their hands.  I think it is the only morning of the year where they run, headlong towards class.  Are they thinking "the sooner I get in here the sooner I'm free? "

The last day of school in a library is a equally fast paced as kids gleefully skip towards the desk with last minute book finds, 

"It was in the back seat of our car!"
There is also the doleful walk towards the desk, as they present a  last minute payment for lost books which is usually accompanied by heavy sighs and an anguished wad of dollar bills or a damp, sweaty personal check which has ridden to school in a hand or in a shoe.

"I always try to offer a hopeful, "If you find the book over the summer, you will get your money back!" but paying for lost library books is just a downer, no doubt about it. Receipts have to be written, change has to be made.  It all takes so much time.  The kids are leaving soon. Write the receipt faster!

The library staff makes repeated trips to the shelf,  looking one LAST time for the missing Predator book and begging teachers NOT to cover the librarian's office desk with globes and CD players to be checked in.  

Library person:  "Just leave them on the circulation desk. We will scan them in.

"Well, I don't want the stuff I'm checking in to get lost or mixed up with the kids' books.  I will just leave them here on your chair.  So, am I clear yet?
Library person thinking to self this is the 4th time she has cleared her chair today and it is not 10:30 a.m. yet:   *sigh*
The final bell rings, the voice on the intercom announces, "Teachers, all buses have been called," and for a few minutes, there is a total silence.  Often this is followed by loud hearty teacher laughter and at one point today, a jubilant shriek of happiness.  
Hmmm...wonder who was in that class this year? 

Still, there is no time to actually work for the library.  Carts of books still need cataloging because there is never enough time to finish that.  Fixed asset tag numbers have to be recorded in MARC records but there is no time as more equipment from the classrooms appears to be checked-in and teachers ask, "Am I clear yet?"  

Carts with overheads huddle around the circ desk waiting to be rolled to the central location where they will be cleaned over the summer .   Then the rush tapers off. 

As I left the building today,  bulletin boards were already dismantled and empty.  The hallways looked like an industrial Swiffer had swept away all traces of the year.  

The halls were quiet and the air was still as if the building was saying, "Just let me catch my breath for a moment and I'll be good to go again."