Friday, December 19, 2014

Mock Readers

On one hand, I'm glad that the ALA Youth Media Awards (Newbery, Caldecott, and more) won't be announced until February 2. That gives me an entire month to catch up on titles that could be contenders. On the other hand, it means that we have to wait that much longer for the announcements!

Since it's getting close to awards time, I recently decided to check my favorite Mock Newbery/Caldecott/etc groups for their reading lists. What are Mock Newbery/Caldecott/etc groups? They are groups of readers that meet at a library, school, or elsewhere (bookstore, online, etc) to read and discuss potential picks for the major children's and young adult awards that will be announced on February 2, 2015. As the Newbery and Caldecott are the oldest and most well-known awards, the mock groups tend to focus on titles for those two groups.

So, who are these groups? What are they reading? Let's take a look:

School Library Journal is one of the premier review journals for youth services librarians. Their group is actually a blog (Heavy Medal) that accepts comments from anyone invested enough in the process to discuss the books. Bloggers have served on Newbery and other book committees in the past, so discussions are thorough and thoughtful.

Goodreads's Mock Newbery group is another venue for online discussion. Members must have a Goodreads account to participate.

I'm not sure how long Anderson's Bookshop's has had mock groups, but it's been going strong for several years (at least).  Their Mock Newbery list  includes several strong titles!

St. Joseph County library has two Mock Newbery groups (one for children and one for adults). Their list is quite good.

The Eva Perry branch of the Wake County Public Library system has had a Mock Newbery group for many years.Their list includes some titles that I haven't heard of, so will definitely investigate further!

The Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services posts revisions of their list, so it's interesting to see what's been dropped as the year progresses.

Allen County Public Library discusses their picks on their Pinterest board. Look for "2014 pin" for what they've read in 2014 (for the 2015 Newbery).

Mock Caldecott groups also abound:

The Horn Book Magazine is one of the most prestigious review journals of young people's literature. Their blog, Calling Caldecott, is open for all to comment (similar to Heavy Medal).

Allen County also has a dedicated Pinterest board for their Caldecott picks.

Goodreads's Mock Caldecott is another very active group.

Although the Printz Award (for YA literature) doesn't attract as many mock groups (probably for two reasons: the award is not as well known, and the award is lacking in specific criteria, unlike the Newbery and Caldecott, which means that it's harder to evaluate books that the committee might be considering), there are a few:

School Library Journal's Someday My Printz Will Come blog is an entertaining and educational blog written by former Printz committee members.

Eva Perry also runs a Mock Printz club.

Like Goodreads's other Mock groups, the Mock Printz  group discusses specific  titles and occasionally ruminates on issues surrounding the award.

You'll see that several titles show up in just about every list. I don't think anyone who follows children's literature closely will be surprised that Brown Girl Dreaming is one of the most named titles for the mock Newbery lists. The Fourteenth Goldfish and Rain Reign also appear on most lists.

As for Caldecott? Judging from discussions on blogs and listservs, seems like The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is a top pick (mine too; this book is quite special), along with The Farmer and the Clown. The Farmer and the Clown has been quite a surprise for me; I didn't expect that a wordless book (not extremely popular with our patrons) about a baby clown (!) would check out as much as it has since we've received it, but it has. Even one of my colleagues, who's normally not enthusiastic about wordless books, was charmed. (I have managed to resist its charms, apparently, but will need to take another look. It is a gorgeous book.)

And the Printz? They never pick my favorites, and there's no clear cut criteria, so I am hopeless with this award.

Who will be the big winners? Watch the big broadcast online on February 2!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, December 12, 2014

On the Shelf: For Future Reading

During Thanksgiving, I had a deadline for School Library Journal looming, so casual reading was not a possibility during my days off. With no assignment due over the Christmas holiday, I am free to read whatever I want! (I am honored to review for SLJ, but since I'm constantly taking notes and rereading several sections while working on my assignment, it's a different task than reading for pleasure.) I'm looking forward to reading these books in the upcoming weeks: 

I admire The Rock and the River and Camo Girl, so any new book from Kekla Magoon goes on my list. How it Went Down has earned superb reviews for its multi-faceted story of a community torn apart by a shooting in which multiple people offer differing accounts of what happened. 

I read anything by Ann M. Martin, so Rain Reign is a must read. She's drawn fabulous praise for her portrayal of a young girl with Aspergers dealing with the loss of her dog. 

Michaela DePrince's amazing and inspiring lifestory of her childhood in war-torn Sierra Leone to becoming one of the few African-American prima ballerinas sounds like a remarkable read. Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina is one of my top choices on my list. 

I hope you can find time to read an awesome book or two over the holidays! 

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.


Friday, December 05, 2014

Book Lists-O-Mania

I love lists. I love magazines. And this month's magazines and newspapers are filled with lists of 2014's best books, movies, music, and more. While there are a ton of lists available (check out Large Hearted Boy for the most comprehensive coverage), there are several that I look forward to every year:

NPR's Book Concierge is a neat interactive guide that goes beyond the usual best fiction/nonfiction/etc categories. Looking for a new biography read? Something "rather short"? "Tales From Around the World"? NPR has you covered.

School Library Journal is one of the most prestigious review journals for children's and young adult materials. Their recent list of their 2014 picks included many highlights:

Picture Books

My Bus (Byron Barton is a picture book genius, and ideal for transportation-loving toddlers and preschoolers.)

Middle School

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy (LOVE. Too bad it's not eligible for Newbery!)
Revolution (cannot wait for the conclusion of Deborah Wiles's trilogy. This is an astonishing achievement.)


The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus (my Caldecott 2015 pick! It is incredible!)
The Scraps Book: Notes From a Colorful Life (a great memoir by one of my favorite picture book artists)
The Family Romanov (one of Candace Fleming's bests, and that's saying a lot)
Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (I adore Joyce Sidman's poetry. Beautiful, informative, and one of a kind)
Brown Girl Dreaming (I think this is Jacqueline Woodson's Newbery year.)

Kirkus Reviews reviews adult fiction/nonfiction as well as children's/young adult books:


Beauty and the Beast (gorgeous retelling and illustrations)
Because They Marched (Russell Freedman's account of the Selma March is among his best.)
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond (remarkable read about family and identity)
Gus and Me (Keith Richards wrote a children's book. And it is lovely.)
Here Comes the Easter Cat (bust a gut funny.)
Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust (heartbreaking, gripping, and important)
Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads (hilarious and silly)


She is Not Invisible  (I'm not always a Sedgwick fan, but I couldn't put this down.)
A Time to Dance (mesmerizing read about second chances and a unique dance)
The Tyrant's Daughter (I hope a sequel is planned. Need to know what happens to Laila when she goes back home.)
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy (quirky read about precocious teens that didn't annoy me--that is hard to do).

Need more lists? Check out Publishers Weekly,  Library Journal (no children's/YA), and New York Times's lists for children/YA and adults.

I've been making my best books list too-but I have three weeks left before I need to return my books before I leave for Christmas! Will reveal my final picks  on January 2.

Hope everyone finds plenty of great reads for quiet holiday reading!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Winter is Coming

Ready or not, winter is on its way. (The official start of winter is December 21). Keep these in mind when it's too cold to do anything but curl up in your favorite blanket or relax by a roaring fire and read: 

Baby Bear Counts One is just as adorable and outstanding as Baby Bear Sees Blue.  As Baby Bear and his mother prepare for hibernation, they count the other animals preparing for winter.

As fun as nibbling a pumpkin with Mouse, running with Dog, or hopping with Frog sounds, The Busy Little Squirrel is much too concerned with preparing for winter. Nancy Tafuri's trademark style of big bold illustrations and simple text makes this a perfect read for toddlers (just like her other books!).

It's Snowing!, like Gail Gibbons's other nonfiction picture books, are attractive and fun reads that introduce basic concepts and topics to readers ready to tackle easy nonfiction. How snow is formed, places where it snows, and safety tips for winter storms.

Kevin Henkes's Old Bear is one of my top three favorite Kevin Henkes picture books (I can't choose just one; my other top favorites are Little White Rabbit and My Garden). While Old Bear slumbers through winter, he dreams of being a little cub again.

Il Sung Na's books are magical; I haven't read one that isn't sublime. Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons  features a little rabbit who investigates its surroundings while other creatures hibernate or migrate.  Rabbit has a surprise at the end of winter, too!

Joyce Sidman's nature poetry collections are exceptional (her non-nature poetry is fabulous as well!); not only are the poems and illustrations divine, but each poem is enhanced by paragraphs that explain the science behind the subject of the poem.  Winter Bees and  Other Poems of the Cold is centered on hibernation and migration; why snakes don't freeze during winter, how honeybees survive the cold, and other amazing survival instincts of animals. If you're not familiar with Sidman's work, you are in a treat (don't miss her Newbery Honor book, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night; as you can probably guess, it's all about creatures' habits of the night--the porcupette poem is fantastic).

Not only is winter approaching, but so are the holidays! If you're shopping with Amazon, please consider using this link when you make your purchases. Fauquier County Public Library will receive a portion of the proceeds. Thank you!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Authentic Reads for Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American/ American Indian Heritage Month, which makes this a great time to highlight my favorite children's/YA books featuring Native American characters/historical figures:

I reviewed The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood last December;

I always look for Christmas books that depict the holiday in unique situations and settings, which is why The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood  is a huge favorite.  Being the daughter of an Episcopal priest is not easy, especially when Virginia is expected to let everyone else choose gifts before she does from donations sent to the Rosebud Sioux reservation. Virginia needs a new coat to get her through the harsh South Dakota winter, and is thrilled when she spies a lovely gray fur coat in good condition among the recent donations.  She is heartbroken when another girl, unfriendly to Virginia, picks the coat.  It looks like Virginia will have to make do with her old coat--until a special box arrives.  I adore this book; the Sioux face harsh conditions on their reservation, but they are a tightly knit family and community oriented culture.  Make sure you pay attention to the illustrations; I always look for the Nativity pageant with its Sioux culture influences (the Three Wise Chiefs), and the American Indian dolls in Santa's sack. 

I included Code Talker in my 2009 roundup of titles for American Indian/Native American Heritage Month:

Joseph Bruchac is probably one of the best-known Native American authors (Abenaki) currently writing for children. I recommend all of his books, but particularly The Winter People (about the French-Indian War), his young adult novel, Geronimo, and Hidden Roots. My favorite Bruchac novel is Code Talker, a young adult novel about the Navajo code talkers of World War II. Too often, Native American history in children's books seems to begin with Columbus and end with the pioneers and Trail of Tears; it's rare to see children's or teen fiction dealing with any Native history other than those topics. Code Talker is an amazing read and a part of history that everyone should know. 

Diamond Willow was also included in that post:

Although I didn't warm to it immediately, Diamond Willoweventually became one of my most memorable reads in 2008. Willow is quite a remarkable young girl and on the verge of teendom, with all the confusion and changes that come with the teenage years. Her father's sled dogs are a big part of her life; while mushing to her grandparents' home, an accident reveals a heartbreaking family secret. It's a short yet hauntingly beautiful story. 

Hooked was one of my favorite reads in 2013:

Finding good YA literature about contemporary American Indian characters is difficult, so this realistic story of a American Indian high school golf champ is a bright spot.  When Fred (short for Fredericka) is invited to join her high school's golf team, she immediately faces trouble from the other golf team members.  Not only are they resistant to a girl joining their team, but their prejudice against American Indians is also a barrier. As you can guess, strained relations between the (more wealthy) local Caucasians and the American Indians living on the nearby reservation are key elements to the story (which include a relationship between Fred and a Caucasian boy, which causes conflict and suspicion on both sides) and social issues faced by many American Indians (poverty and alcoholism) are introduced, but it also features positive relationships between family members and friends.  Fichera's follow up to Hooked will be released in May. 

As was If I Ever Get Out of Here:

Historical fiction featuring American Indian characters are often set during the western expansion era, so a YA novel with American Indian characters set during the 1970s is quite welcomed.  This friendship story set in a military upstate New York town in 1975 is gripping and enormously heartbreaking; the music of the era plays a big part of the story (a playlist is helpfully included).

We have several of the "--for Kids With 21 Activities" books--they are good resources for projects that involve making something for a history project. Native American History for Kids: With 21 Activities gives a wide overview of Native American history and includes instructions for making culturally-appropriate items.

Rabbit's Snow Dance is a cautionary tale about the dangers of wanting something too much. Rabbit loves snow and wants it to snow year round, even in the summer! Using an Iroquois drum and song, he makes it snow--aggravating his friends in the process.  This is a fun and fantastic read aloud!

Sweetgrass Basket remains one of the most striking children's/YA novels written about the boarding schools established for Native American children in order to fully assimilate them into Caucasian American culture. Told from the perspective of two sisters, this is an eye-opening and unforgettable read about a shameful part in American history.

Before we know it, the Newbery and Caldecott winners (along with many other children's/YA awards) will be announced. I have quite a bit more to read before I list my picks! Look to your right to find my picks so far (I don't list a title until I have completed it).

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, November 07, 2014

National Memoir Writing Month

Many people know that November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but did you know that it is also National Memoir Writing Month? I'm a big fan of memoirs; after learning this interesting nugget of information, I collected the titles of my most memorable memoir reads.

Although memoirs and autobiographies are largely shelved in our biography section (with a few exceptions: war memoirs can be found in the history section, travel memoirs in travel, etc), there is a difference between memoirs and autobiographies.  A memoir focuses on one specific aspect of the writer's life, while an autobiography covers the entirety of the writer's life (up to the point of publication). Dreams From My Father and Decision Points are considered memoirs and not autobiographies for this very reason: Dreams From My Father focuses on Barack Obama's childhood and early adulthood with a strong emphasis on how his biracial identity and his absent father affected him, while Decision Points covers key aspects and crises of George W. Bush's presidency, how he dealt with them, and lessons that he learned from them.

With that in mind, here are some outstanding memoirs for children, young adults, and adults:


Brown Girl Dreaming is a National Book Award finalist and at the top of many people's Newbery 2015 picks (including mine). You can read my review of Woodson's exceptional memoir in verse here.

I first read The Endless Steppe when I was in elementary school; it's a harrowing read of a Polish family exiled to Siberia during World War II.

Although some elements of Beverly Cleary's childhood found their way into her stories, the mostly united and supportive families that she wrote about (save for her Newbery Medal book, Dear Mr. Henshaw, which was a significant departure) were a far cry from her Depression-era childhood and her chronically-depressed mother.   Girl From Yamhill/My Own Two Feet (two volumes) are must reads for Cleary fans (My Own Two Feet ends just after the publication of her first book, Henry Huggins).

Fans of Jon Scieszka's weird and wacky humor will be delighted by Knucklehead; his stories of growing up with five brothers will resonate with those who grew up in large families and those that wish they did! Adults who went to Catholic school in the 1960s will also get a kick out of this.

I reviewed The Pregnancy Project in 2012 (read my review here). Gaby Rodriguez's fake pregnancy project (undertaken with the knowledge of her boyfriend and several key adults) is a great springboard for discussions on stereotypes and gossip. (Young adult)

Under a Red Sky: Memoirs of a Childhood in Communist Romania  is a striking read of a young girl growing up in an unusual family at the height of Romania's communist era.  (Young adult)

Graphic memoirs (that is, written in graphic novel format--I wish we had a better term for graphic nonfiction!) have really exploded in recent years. Here are my favorites:

March: Book One is one of my top favorite reads of 2014; I cannot wait for the January 2015 release of the second entry in this trilogy. I reviewed Congressman John Lewis's memoir in January; this is exceptional reading for young adults and adults. (Adult nonfiction)

You can't talk about amazing graphic memoirs without mentioning Maus or  Persepolis. Maus is a brilliant evocation of Art Spiegelman's attempts to come to terms with his father's experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, which have understandably affected their relationship. Persepolis recounts Marjan Satrapi's childhood in Iran shortly after the overthrow of the Shah. (Adult nonfiction)

I'm a fan of everything created by Lucy Knisley, but Relish remains my favorite.  I reviewed this treat in February; don't read it if you are hungry! (Shelved in YA, but adults would enjoy as well.)

Smile is my favorite Raina Telgemeier graphic memoir. I reviewed this irresistible read in 2013. (young adult)

I reviewed To Dance in 2006; this middle-grade graphic memoir is ideal for preteen and teenage ballerinas. (children's nonfiction)

Of course, we have many riveting memoirs in our adult nonfiction collection:

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is a food memoir like no other; while most food-oriented memoirs are full of lush descriptions of plentiful eating, Anya von Bremzen's memoir is a tough read about her family's often harsh life during Russia's communist era. I reviewed this in December 2013, and it remains one of the most distinguished memoirs I have read.

There are many worthwhile memoirs about beloved dogs (Merle's Door, for one), but many end with the adored elderly dog dying. The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout is a welcome reprieve.

Reading Lolita in Tehran is an eye-opening and inspiring account of the author's secret book club for Iranian women.

Finally, The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, And the Power of Family is an occasionally irreverent (the author is a practicing Mormon who struggles with his faith at times), dark, and funny read about dealing with Tourette's, a complicated adoption process, and public librarianship.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mad for Magazines

Have you ever been in a reading slump? When you just can't get into a book, no matter what? I get them from time to time, even when I have a number of books checked out that I am interested in reading. When this happens, I usually turn to magazines. Luckily, now that we subscribe to Zinio, I can binge read any number of magazines without shelling out a bundle for them or waiting for the latest issue to circulate. Best of all, there's no pile of magazines waiting to be read and then recycled or returned to the library! If you're traveling for the holidays, our digital magazine collection will also free up space in your luggage. Unlike ebooks, these magazines will stay on your devices until you delete them (there's no due date!).

October 13, 2014 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek
I've also discovered magazines that I normally would have never thought would interest me. Bloomberg Businessweek, for one. I downloaded a recent issue because the cover article was about the recent woes of and changes to The Weather Channel (Yes, I remember when The Weather Channel was only about weather, and The History Channel was only about history documentaries, and you could actually learn something on The Learning Channel. Now, get off my lawn). After reading this week's issue that includes a fun and enlightening read about online entrepreneurs trying to make bra shopping a less aggravating experience, I'm now hooked on the magazine. (Did you know that you can sign up for email notifications when your favorite magazine has a new issue?)

November 01, 2014 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray

Now that it's almost November, the cooking and decorating magazines are laser-beam focused on Thanksgiving. Save your money for the holidays and download Country Living, Every Day With Rachel Ray, Family Circle, Food Magazine, Good Housekeeping (also available in Spanish), Martha Stewart Living, Taste of Home, and Woman's Day for inspirational--or aspirational--reading. Vegetarian Times is also available to support those who will have a tofu turkey at their family table.

One of the benefits of digital magazines is that you can hide your guilty pleasure reads. If you'd rather keep quiet the fact that you read Cosmopolitan (also available in Spanish), US Weekly, or Star magazine, your secret will be safe with Zinio. (You can even download back issues!)

November 01, 2014 issue of Popular Science

If science and technology are more your speed, consider Astronomy, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, PC Magazine, and PC World.  If you're an Apple devotee, Apple, iPhone + iPad Life, and MacWorld should satisfy readers who must have the latest iProduct.

October 01, 2014 issue of National Geographic Interactive

Nature lovers will flock to the latest editions of Bird Watching, Mother Earth News, and National Geographic. National Geographic Magazine's digital edition includes videos and extras that you won't find in the print magazine.

November 01, 2014 issue of Weight Watchers

If you already know that fitness is one of your 2015 resolutions, Eating Well, Men's Fitness, Men's Health, Prevention, Runner's World, Shape, Weight Watchers, and Yoga Journal magazines will provide plenty of encouragement.

This is just a sample of the magazines available through our Zinio collection. We also have American Girl, Seventeen, and  Skateboarder for young readers.  It's very easy to access our digital magazines. Simply go here and create a Zinio account!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.