Friday, December 10, 2010

I Need a Hero!

Comic books have a long history of opposition, but they have managed to survive through the years because they allow readers to feel a sense of escapism. They allow readers to feel powerful and in control. They root for the little guy and the pursuit of justice.

Comic book history has shown that stories about superheroes rise in popularity during war, during strife, during times of need...

When times are tough, people need something to believe in. They need to know that there is hope. That there is something out there watching over them. They want to believe in heroes.

While we can't all don a cape and mask to track down the evils in society, we can be super in little ways.

  • Donate non-perishables to a food drive. 
  • Drop your spare change in the red kettle.
  • Pay that extra dollar at the pharmacy/supermarket counter for the add-on donation. 
  • Go through your closets and donate your gently used items to a shelter. 
  • Visit an elderly neighbor or a nursing home. 
  • Bring pet food or blankets to an animal shelter. 
  • Pay for the car behind you in the Toll Lane.
  • Hold the door open for the mother loaded down with bags and children. 
  • Have your children go through their old toys to donate to the children's floor at a hospital.
  • Give the hassled restaurant server a little extra in the tip.
What are some more ways that you can be super? As the holidays approach even closer, I challenge everyone to be someone's hero.

Digital Booktalks via YouTube

YouTube Booktrailer for Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book

Welcome to the new age of booktalks where Web 2.0 technologies are being utilized to make the booktalk experience a new and exciting one for librarians, teachers, and students. Lights! Cameras! Read! It’s time for booktalks to go digital.

Clark (2009) states that “Unlike many other reading incentive programs in public and school libraries, booktalking does not cost a penny” (p. 504). Digital Booktalks are another great free programming concept that can be utilized by many libraries. Some possibilities on how to extend the use of Digital Booktalks beyond the Librarian using them as promotion would be to allow young patrons to create their own videos. This can be done either as a library workshop or faced with a library with limited hours, it can also be incorporated as a contest-type program where patrons produce the videos on their own and hand them in to the librarian for posting.

Libraries can also use the idea of the Digital Booktalk as an additional source of a volunteer credit opportunity. Teen Advisory Groups can create these videos for volunteer credit and have the videos place on either the library website or the TAG Facebook Fan Page.

Belben (2007) gives a link to what looks to be a now extinct website that used to review book trailers using a “trailer park” theme. This hilarious take on website reviews can be incorporated in the library setting as well. Have teens create their own themed reviews. See how many trailers or booktalks can be found on the same book and then rate the best ones. Use some form of rating system like Sherlock Holmes’s pipe for mysteries or vampire fangs for supernatural genres.

There are many different websites out there that can explain how to make a Digital Booktalk. Valenza (2007) sums it up perfectly by saying “These videos are not all that hard to produce. Simply show some of the following examples to student readers who also know how to use such free or inexpensive production tools as: iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, GarageBand, VoiceThread, or Final Cut. Remind those students to use copyright-friendly images, sound, and video” (par. 5). Many digital cameras and cell phones now have features that allow them to take short video clips that can be uploaded to the computer. Also, while maybe not a preferred method of creating a Digital Booktalk, still photos may be used to introduce the concept to a beginner.

Digital Booktalks can be a great resource for inspiring reluctant readers to branch out and try new books. It bridges the gap for student’s understanding of the differences between a book and its movie counterpart. Production of a Digital Booktalk is simple enough that it can serve as a standalone program done outside of the library. It is also an enjoyable enterprise that gets students motivated to read as well as building upon their comprehension of the story by helping them make inferences and interpretations of what they read.  It can also be a valuable programming tool in the face of declining budgets and the trend towards incorporating Web 2.0 technologies to best serve new learning styles.

Belben, C. (2007 October). There are no booktalking police: alternatives to stand-and-deliver presentations. ''Library Media Connection, 26(2)'', 28-9.
Clark, R.C. (2009 February).  Listening to teens talk back. ''Voice of Youth Advocates, 31(6)'', 501-04.
Valenza, J. (2007 August). Booktalking 2.0 (2.0). ''School Library Journal''. Retrieved from

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some of My Favorite Things- Beach Bling

 No one can deny that the beach has soothing qualities; the sound of the waves crashing, smell of the salt air, the warm sand under foot. You can add that same feeling at home with a few simple decor touches. Beach Bling can bring to mind Serene Cape Cod Summers or Wild Key West Weekends depending at the style that you choose. I have to admit that I am a little bit of both. has some gorgeous stuff on their website that you can buy and even inspire to do-it-yourself. Everything is so pretty. I have always loved the look of blue and green sea glass. Check out their website this week for a special contest to win a $50 Gift Card. Click on the button on the right for a direct link.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cheating at a Million...

...Million Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Nothing is as satisfying as fresh baked cookies from the oven and the infamous Million Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies are probably some of the best. You are probably all familiar with the story...
A woman and her daughter are having lunch at <insert department store name> and decide to have cookies for dessert. The woman is so impressed by the cookie that she asks for the recipe. After being told no, she offers to buy the recipe. The waitress tells the woman that the recipe will cost two-fifty. Thinking this is a bargain, the woman tells the waitress to add it to her bill. One month later, she discovers while looking at her credit card statement that the cookie recipe cost her $250. Not able to convince the department store to take back the recipe and credit her money back, the woman proceeds to email the recipe to all of her friends and so on.
This story has been around for decades; the only thing that changes is the name of the
department store. The recipe is pretty much the same, a delicious cookie containing oatmeal, nuts, and chocolate chips. Here is a simple way to recreate the recipe without all the fuss.

2 eggs
2 sticks salted butter (softened)

1.   Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
2.   Stir softened butter and egg in medium bowl.
3.   Stir in both packets of cookie mix.
4.   Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased
cookie sheet.
5.   Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.
6.   Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet.

Makes approx. 4-5 dozen cookies.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Digital Booktalk: Dirty Little Secrets

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu ISBN 978-0802786609

Book Review: Ascendant

Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund ISBN 9780061490026

My brother recently asked this random question, "What mythical beast would you like to have with you in a fight?" Easy answer-Unicorn!

Some of you might be shaking your heads in puzzlement over why I would pick a creature adored by little girls in pig-tails. Those of you who read Peterfreund's Rampant are more in the know. Unicorns are not all rainbows and sunshine. They are killing murderous beasts once doomed to spend centuries hiding in the shadows, but no more. The beasts are back, they want revenge--they are hungry.

In the first book, Astrid learns that she is one of a group of girls descended from Alexander the Great, with the task of hunting down and killing a dangerous beast once believe to only exist in myth and legend. Oh, yeah, the girls have to be virgins too.

Now, the whole world knows that the unicorns really do exist. The Vatican has stepped in to help fund the Order, with a few modifications of course. Astrid's mom is trying to negotiate the rights to a televised expose, finding hunters is getting more difficult, her best friend is acting a little odd, and oh yeah, her relationship has just gone long distance. Frustrated, Astrid jumps on the chance to track down the guy who raped her cousin, a detour that leads her back to Gordian Pharmaceuticals, their new CEO, Unicorn medical testing, and the surprise appearance of her missing ex-boyfriend, Brandt.

Why I picked it up: I loved the first book and couldn’t wait to find out if they discovered the source of The Remedy.
Why I finished it: The whole book left me hooked. Just when I thought I had it figured out, there would be a new twist.
I’d give it to: Anyone sick of vampire romances, looking for a good book about girls with swords, crossbows, and alicorn knives.

Book Review: Magic Under Glass

Magic Under Glass By Jaclyn Dolamore. Bloomsbury, 2010. 978-1-59990-430-6

Nimira is a “Trouser Girl”, which means she makes her living as a singer and dancer in a two-bit music hall. She is not a native to the land of Lorinar. When Hollin Parry, Sorcerer, offers her the chance to be his private singer, accompanying his newly acquired piano-playing automaton, she jumps at the chance to escape the music hall.

The automaton has already scared away many singers who believed his moans and groans proved the automaton to be haunted. Then, there are the rumors regarding the death of Parry’s wife. Soon Nimira learns the secret of the automaton and the war building between the humans and the fairies.

Why I picked it up: I was curious about the storyline. I love stories that take established tales and then twist them into new creations.

Why I finished it: Dolamore weaves a wonderful web of conspiracy, magic, romance, and mystery. Not surprising that the author’s favorite classic is Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Though this novel takes place in a fictional setting it has all the elements of a Victorian Gothic Novel. I loved the book and am eagerly awaiting the sequel.

I’d give it to: Teens on up with an interest in fantasy novels, particularly to readers of Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reverse Tie-Dye

Some of my favorite things are simple things that can make great holiday gifts. Reverse Tie-Dye is my go to summer craft, but it is so creative that it can really be used year round. Rather than adding color, this process is taking the color away. The steps below are for a t-shirt, but try it with other clothing like jeans, tote bags, socks, hats, etc.
  1. Lay a brightly colored cotton shirt on a plastic covered flat surface; place a piece of cardboard inside the shirt between the layers.
  2. Pour liquid bleach into a spray bottle. For different effects, you may add water to dilute the solution.
  3. Place cardboard cutouts, chains, keys, buttons, really whatever on top of the shirt in whatever pattern you would like.
  4. Use the spray bottle to spray the shirt. Those covered areas are protected from the spray so they will retain their color, the uncovered areas will begin to lose their color. (Spray gingerly, get it too wet and the cotton will absorb the bleach into the covered areas as well.)
  5. Take objects off shirt and flip it, while still keeping the cardboard inside the shirt.
  6. Repeat steps 3 &4.
  7.  Let sit overnight.
  8. Wash alone so bleach will not affect other clothing.  
*Wear old clothing that you don’t mind getting bleach on. Use rubber gloves to protect your hands.