HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 7 – Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

Chinese CinderellaTitle: Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter
Author: Adeline Yen Mah
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Publication Date: August 2nd, 1999
Age Range: 12 and up
Lexile Reading Level: 960L

After her mother dies giving birth to her, Adeline is considered by her family to be unlucky. Her father eventually remarries, but Adeline and her siblings are treated poorly by her new stepmother while her step-siblings are spoiled. Despite the fact that Adeline does well in school and even wins some prizes, she still doesn’t feel the love from her family that she needs.

Not all youth necessarily understand that there are cultures out there that are different from their own. Even though the experiences detailed in this book occur long before any of today’s youth were alive, they will still be able to glean valuable insights on how other cultures might differ. They will also be able to empathize with the main character and understand how to deal with strong emotions. Readers who are interested in history, Chinese culture, or real-life fairy tale tie-ins will enjoy this book.

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 6 – Fourth Down and Inches by Carla Killough McClafferty

Fourth Down and InchesTitle: Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment
Author: Carla Killough McClafferty
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: November 1st, 2013
Age Range: 10 and up
Lexile Reading Level: No level

More and more evidence has been coming out recently that shows just how dangerous a sport football is. Concussions are all but guaranteed and can have dire consequences. This isn’t the first time that concerns have been raised about the number of concussions in football however. Back in 1905, the sport was basically given an ultimatum. After the season ended, nineteen players were dead and many others were seriously injured. The sport was told to either change or there would be no more football. Obviously, the game did change and over time protective equipment has gotten better. Unfortunately, that hasn’t solved all of football’s problems. With millions of young men playing this sport across the country, many are still concerned.

This book is great for reluctant readers who may prefer watching sports to reading books. Any casual sports fan knows that there is currently controversy surrounding football and the number of concussions that players receive. Concussions themselves are bad, but doctors and others are worried that there are other effects of football that have yet to reveal themselves. With the movie Concussion coming out last year as well, this topic may be more attractive to younger readers than it would have been in the past.

Librarians could create a book club where they read the book and discuss it and current issues. This would be a great way for kids to learn how to apply critical thinking to the things that they’re reading. Afterwards, they could watch the movie Concussion. Other sports books could be available to maybe spark football fans interest in reading:

Out of the Blue, Young Reader’s Edition by Victor Cruz
Through My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey, Young Reader’s Edition by Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker
Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry (adult)
Manning by Archie & Peyton Manning with John Underwood (adult)

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 5 – How to Fake a Moon Landing by Darryl Cunningham

How to Fake a Moon LandingTitle: How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial
Author: Darryl Cunningham
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Age Range: 12 and up
Lexile Reading Level: No Level

Cunningham addresses and discusses several different controversial topics in this book including the moon landing, climate change, and evolution. He uses hard science to debunk myths and prove conspiracy theories wrong.

The great thing about this book is that the author has very obviously done a lot of research. Instead of believing sensationalized news articles, he looks to science and data to prove whether or not well-known theories are correct. He states at the beginning of the book that while he believes the things he states in his book, he is open to changing his mind if the science is there to back it up. I think that’s a great lesson for kids to learn at a young age. It’s okay to have beliefs and convictions, but it’s also important to not closeHow to Fake a Moon Landing page our minds to other ideas that are logically/scientifically proven to be possible or correct.

While this book is fun in its current graphic novel format, the illustrations really don’t add much to the narrative. Having the text separated by panels may make it easier to read or process, but a lot of the book consists of speech bubbles over our narrator (see panels 2, 3, 4, and 6) or an aside from the narrator over a picture (see panel 5). It seems like the graphic novel format could have been utilized a little better with diagrams or more interesting illustrations.

Overall, I think this book is a great way to introduce youth to using science to inform decisions and beliefs. In addition, it may help them to be a little more informed about some controversial topics and could actually prove to be a launching pad for more in depth research. The library should also try to have resources that contradict the theories posed in this book just to have a balanced collection and to give patrons both sides of the “story”.

This would be a great book for a book club where youth could get together and discuss the different issues, whether Cunningham has them convinced, and why other people may not believe Cunningham’s arguments.

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 4 – Shackleton by Nick Bertozzi

ShackletonTitle: Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey
Author: Nick Bertozzi
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Age Range: 12 to 18
Lexile Reading Level: GN620L

On Shackleton’s third trip to the Antarctic, he was determined to make it to the South Pole. Unfortunately, the conditions were not ideal and before the crew was even able to set foot on Antarctica, they were forced to turn back. It would take them over two years out on the ice before they were able to get help and make their way back home.

I’d heard about the story of Shackleton when my mother-in-law read a book about him and the crew of the Endurance (I believe it was, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, but I’m not sure). His story amazed me. I could not believe that they were out on the ice, in the elements, for so long and that none of his crew diedShackleton and his crew’s story is so amazing and I think Bertozzi does a really good job translating that story as a graphic novel. He notes at the beginning of the story that, “While [he] strove for historical accuracy in this book, there are some details of the story that are compressed for dramatic reasons”. But he encourages readers who are interested in more details to look to other sources to fill in the gaps. As a reader, I wondered what exactly he meant by having details of the story compressed. After reading the book, I think he means that events seem to happen more quickly in the graphic novel than they actually did in real life. Because of this, I would have appreciated a timeline included somewhere in the book so that I could see where the events were located in the context of other events.

The overall tone of the book is kept fairly light despite the grim events (see page below).shackleton page

In this scene, they had to operate on one of the crew member’s frostbitten toes. Note how the crew still treats this situation somewhat lightheartedly and even the crew member says afterwards, “They couldn’t kill me, lads!”.

This book would work great in an activity or book club about explorers. There could be different stations set up for each explorer with an activity or two that fit. Other books about other explorers:

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman (nonfiction)
Freedom Beyond the Sea by Waldtraut Lewin (fiction)
First Flight Around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race by Tim Grove (nonfiction)


HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 3 – Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Terrible Typhoid MaryTitle: Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
Age Range: 12 and up
Lexile Reading Level: 980

Mary Mallon was just a cook in New York City but unbeknownst to her, she was a living carrier of the disease Typhoid. Before doctors caught up with her she’d already been the cause of outbreaks in several families that she had worked for. When she refused treatment, she was “arrested” quarantined on a remote island. The case of Typhoid Mary has been a confusing one for years as other living carriers did not suffer similar fates and were generally allowed to live with their families. Mary alone was unjustly villain-ized by the local media at the time. With her name splashed across headlines and her new nickname, “Typhoid Mary”, Mary Mallon’s reputation was destroyed. This is her story from the beginning, when she is first informed that she is a living carrier, to the end of her life.

To young people, a world where germs are widely thought of as a myth is incomprehensible. Hygiene wasn’t as important and cities were often filthy places where disease was rampant. This book does a great job of helping the reader see the realities of what it was like to live in the 1900’s. Medicine was not nearly as advanced as it is now and a lot of medical treatments and operations were little better than guesswork. I think this book would do great in a display with other books featuring diseases–possible in a Fall or Winter month as cold and flu season is beginning. Here are some other books that could go in the display (both fiction and nonfiction):

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (fiction) – Spanish Influenza
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow (nonfiction) – Typhoid
When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS by James Cross Giblin and David Frampton (nonfiction) – Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (fiction) – Yellow Fever
The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing by Suzanne Jurmain (nonfiction) – Yellow Fever
Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks (fiction) – Tuberculosis

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 2 – Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell [ARC]

Loving vs. VirginiaTitle: Loving vs. Virginia
Author: Patricia Hruby Powell; illustrated by Shadra Strickland
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: January 1st, 2017
Age Range: 14-18

Loving vs. Viriginia was the hallmark case that overturned years of laws that made interracial marriage illegal. The story of Milly Jeter and Richard Loving is told in verse from alternating perspectives and readers will be inspired by the courage and love shown by both narrators. Milly and Richard didn’t mean to change any laws, they just wanted to live as a married couple near their families in Virginia. Unfortunately, Milly was black and Richard was white and interracial marriages were illegal in the state of Virginia. They were forced to start their young family while living in D.C., but both were miserable there. Luckily, a young lawyer believed in their case and ended up taking it all the way to the Supreme Court where they won.

This book details a case from our not too distant history as Americans. Laws banning interracial marriage existed as late as 2000 in some places. While both Milly and Richard had passed away before the author had the chance to interview them, Powell was able to speak with several people who knew them personally. She takes their stories and creates beautiful poems out of them. At the same time, Powell also incorporates documents and quotes from the time scattered throughout the book that help the reader to establish where the Lovings fit in with the overall Civil Rights Movement. While readers may pick this book up because of the underlying “love story”, they may find themselves interested in learning more about the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation in general. While this book deals with some heavier themes, the free verse narrative is accessible to younger readers as well.

As a reader, I really loved this book. I loved the way the author made such an impactful topic accessible and interesting to younger readers. My husband and I are a third generation interracial couple in my family. After reading this book, I found out that my grandparents (a white man and a Hispanic woman with dark skin) got married in the 60s and actually lived in the Virginia/D.C. area at the same time that the Lovings did (before the ban on interracial marriage was overturned). I’m grateful that this book prompted me to learn a little more about my own family history and I believe that it might make other readers, teens especially, interested in learning more as well.

This book is especially timely with the new movie Loving coming out on November 4th. Teens who watch the movie may be interested in learning more about the people and the case of Loving vs. Virginia specifically. This book would be perfect for those who aren’t especially strong readers or who simply want to read a little bit more about the case without getting in too deep.

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 1 – We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson

We Are the Ship Title: We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
Author: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Jump At The Sun
Publication Date: January 8, 2008
Age Range: 8-12 years
Lexile Reading Level:

We Are the Ship is a book about the history Negro League Baseball and how it fits in with the overall history of Major League Baseball. The author goes into detail about specific teams and players. Using realistic illustrations, the author is able to hit home the fact that this book is about real people and real baseball players. The book is divided into ten different sections–nine innings plus extra innings–and it is narrated by the collective voice of all those who played Negro League Baseball.

The foreword is written by Hank Aaron (a Negro/Major League Baseball player) which lends credibility to the book as a whole. Hank Aaron was around when some of the events detailed in the book happened. The book also includes end notes, a bibliography, and an index. Overall, the book seems to be historically accurate and those with doubts can look into the author’s sources. While the content is sound, the tone of the book is oddly upbeat and doesn’t seem to give heavy topics enough weight. The included illustrations are strikingly realistic and showcase each of the highlighted players as individuals. However, not all illustrations are historically accurate and the author explains about the artistic licenses he took with the illustrations in an author’s note at the end of the book.

Overall, this book would be a great read for any youth who are interested in the history of baseball. While many are probably familiar with the names Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, less will recognize the names Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. In addition, this book is also a good resource for introducing the topic of racism to younger children in a way that they may be able to process better.

HW Assignment: The Future of Reading (Prompt #10)

My reading habits have changed a lot since I was younger. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I used to have a much narrower focus when it came to what I read. I would go through these phases. First, I would only read fantasy books, then I would only read books with maps in them, then I only wanted to read Newbery books, then I only wanted to read books from two different authors, etc. Since then, I have come to appreciate all genres and read a wide variety of them. I still sometimes will get in “moods”, but they don’t last as long as they used to. Another way that my reading habits are different is that I read a lot more eBooks than I used to–mostly because they didn’t exist when I was a kid. The change happened after my freshman year of college when I realized I hadn’t read a book for fun all year. That’s when I looked into getting myself a Kindle and once I did, I was back full-force. Now I’m not so picky about what format my books are in. I’ll read hardcover, paperback, or eBook. I’ll even read the occasional audiobook.

I definitely think books will still be relevant 20 years from now. I see about the same percentage of the population reading–perhaps a small dip due to the prevalence of video games and TV/movies. I think it will only get easier to publish books and that a lot of smaller publishing houses will start to crop up. With this happening, I think we’ll see a surge in the number of eBooks available, but I don’t see that causing a decrease in the number of print books being published necessarily. With the whole “retro/vintage/hipster” movement, I think reading has become cool again, and I think that sentiment will linger as Millennials get older. As far as reading becoming more interactive goes, I definitely see that as a possibility. Already an author who I follow via social media sites is using “#buildabook” to interact with her audience and to have her readers pick certain elements of the book she’s working on. She’ll present two options via social media and her followers will vote. So far, readers have had the chance to pick what the male and female leads look like, what the female protagonist’s name is, and what her best friend’s name is too. With eBooks becoming more prevalent, I think that they too may start to become more interactive with links and possible puzzles to be solved before you can move on–maybe like a combination of a book and a video game. The bottom line is that I don’t think reading is going anywhere. Maybe it will change, but I think books will still be around for another few decades at least.

HW Assignment: Marketing Your Collection (Prompt #9)

While there are a lot of ways to market your collection, I think there are a few really successful ways that can get people excited about the books you have to offer and hopefully increase circulation. First, nothing gets the word out about what books you’re excited about than catchy displays. There are so many fun themes and topics you can run with–you’d be hard pressed to run out of ideas. Displays can be colorful and dramatic but still fit in with the library. One display in particular that I remember from my local library was a selection of “roadtrip kits”. Basically what they did, is they bundled together a couple of books that you could just grab to check out and head out on your trip without having to think too hard about it. Displays are a great way to bring attention to less utilized areas of your collection or to incorporate other types of media like movies, music, and audiobooks as well.

Another great way to market you collection is by creating booklists. Booklists serve a similar purpose to displays where they can draw attention to specific themes or topics. However, while displays get old after a while and need to be changed out, this is not necessarily the case with booklists. You could use the same booklists all year potentially, but you will want to make sure to keep them at least semi-current.

Lastly, I think it’s a great idea to do a “year in review” type activity for patrons. My library has done this a couple of years in a row and I think it’s really great. Basically, the librarians divide up into Children’s, Young Adult, and Adult groups and then give booktalks on their favorite books from the year. This is a wonderful way to bring attention to new collection items but to also increase circulation of specific books. I came away from that activity with multiple books to add to my TBR and it’s wonderful knowing that my library has all of them on the shelf.

HW Assignment: To Separate or Not to Separate (Prompt #8)

It’s interesting to consider whether or not libraries should separate LGBT and/or African American literature from the general collection. I can see that it would make things a lot easier for those readers who specifically want to read those types of books just from a locating standpoint. At the same time, I don’t think that separation like that would work in my local libraries.

I live in Provo, Utah which is predominantly populated by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Somewhat due to the influence of the church, a large portion of the community is very conservative. Since the community is so conservative, I think it would be an especially bad idea to separate out LGBT fiction into its own collection. It may be seen by some patrons as subtly promoting certain issues (such as gay rights) which is something that most of them do not support. Whether you agree or disagree with this mindset isn’t really the point. I think this shows that there isn’t much demand for a separate section in this case and at the same time, we would want to avoid angering or alienating patrons if possible.

As mentioned in the prompt, I also think this could be seen as a kind of segregation even though it’s not meant that way especially if we were to separate out African American fiction. I think a lot of patrons would just have the reaction of, “Why is this even necessary?” I don’t think that most patrons would understand or see this as a way for them to easily access material. In the end, I think they would just see it as unnecessarily drawing attention to the fact that these books are “different” from the rest of the collection. Instead, I think that libraries should utilize displays and other resources like lists to feature these sections of their collections. Black History Month would be a great time to feature African American literature and displays could easily be created for LGBT books as well. This way the library can still shine a spotlight on these sections of the collection, but it seems much more natural.

Lastly, I don’t think it’s appropriate to separate LGBT and African American fiction from the general collection because they’re not different genres (like mysteries or speculative fiction). While it’s true that YA isn’t necessarily it’s own genre either, I think those books are mostly aimed at a different audience whereas LGBT and African American fiction are not necessarily aimed at the audiences in their descriptors. They’re still meant for the general audience. I think it’s a good thing if someone were to pick up an LGBT or African American fiction book without realizing it. Who knows? Maybe they’ll end up finishing the book and have a new understanding or appreciation of a section of the collection that they would never have sought out in the first place.