Review of Uprooted, by Naomi Novik


by Naomi Novik

Del Rey, New York, 2015. 438 pages.
Starred Review

Naomi Novik is the author of the brilliant books about Temeraire, a dragon who fought in the Napoleonic Wars in alternate-history England. This new book begins with a very different sort of dragon.

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.

Agnieszka is born in the year of the girls who will be 17 the next time a girl is chosen to go serve the Dragon for ten years. But she’s not worried for herself. Everyone is sure that her best friend, beautiful Kasia, is going to be the one chosen.

But the Dragon looks at Agnieszka and makes a quick decision that no one expects. He suddenly takes her back to his tower without even a chance to say good-by. It turns out that Agnieszka has magic.

But not long after she’s been serving the Dragon, and having learned just a little bit — messengers come to the tower when the wizard is gone, saying that the Wood has taken Kasia.

The great Wood is sinister and evil. No one has ever escaped it. But Agnieszka will not and cannot stand by. And she sets in motion a series of confrontation with dark forces inhabiting the Wood and stretching all the way to the king’s court.

This is a wonderfully absorbing story and I read it all avidly with only a few breaks for air. I should mention that with Agnieszka being seventeen years old, the only reason I can see for this not to be a young adult novel is that there is one quite explicit sex scene as well as many gruesome deaths. (I mentioned that the Wood is evil?)

I enjoyed the way the magic is described and how Agnieszka’s magic is different from that of the Dragon, more in the tradition of Baba Jaga.

This is a wonderful story of a peasant girl discovering power and using it to defend the helpless and make things right.

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ALA Annual Conference: 2015 Odyssey Award Program

2015 Odyssey Award Presentation

Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production
For children or young adults published in the US
Chair: Dawn Rutherford
On the committee you develop “Odyssey ears” So tuned to production notes
463 audiobooks screened.
More than 340 hours of listening each.

Honor Books:

Tim Federle

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle, narrated by Tim Federle
Tim Federle lived in the Bay Area when he was a child.
Our job as adults is to take our childhood weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
His weaknesses:
–Had a lisp.
–Had a sense of humor that got him sent to the principal’s office every day.
–Was a boy who loved musical theater
Becomes a platform instead of a demerit.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry, narrated by Jayne Entwistle
Jayne Entwistle

Jayne Entwistle

Books are like oxygen to a deep sea diver (from Flavia DeLuce)
In the theater, instant feedback. No immediate response with audiobooks.
Alone with the book — favorite place to be.
Proves the back and forth conversation, if not as immediate, is still alive.
As an only child, she was practically raised by books.
With this book, the book led her, rather than the other way around.
They had to pause it often because she was laughing too hard.
When she moved to LA, she cried out, “If only I could be paid to read.”

A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd, narrated by Cassandra Morris
heard a clip

2015 Award

H.O.R.S.E., by Christopher Myers
Narrated by Dion Graham and Christopher Myers


Dion and Christopher:
They read the whole book.
Christopher Myers:
One of the things authors get from ALA is to get outside the studio and get to see the people you’re talking to.
But this book was a conversation. They got to speak and listen both.
The Odyssey Award is about the skill of listening.
The Supreme Court decision was about listening.

Dion Graham: It is a conversation. What we do is about finding ways of listening to each other.

Let’s keep talking, and let’s keep listening!

ALA Annual Conference: Reading the Art in Caldecott Books

Reading the Art in Caldecott Award Books
What Makes a Picture Book Distinguished?

Gail Nordstrom
Coordinated Mock Newbery and Caldecott discussions
2002 Newbery committee, 2011 Caldecott committee
Heidi Hammond
School Librarian
Appointed to 2011 Caldecott committee

You must be a member of ALSC, and you must volunteer!
Wrote a book: Reading the Art in Caldecott Award Books: A Guide to the Illustrations

“Nothing happens accidentally in a picture book.” — K.T. Horning
The Adventures of Beekle, by Dan Santat
Notice: Dust jacket and book cover differ.
End papers have images — a variety of imaginary friends. Beekle’s purpose isn’t clear.
Color is important in Beekle. Full color in the imaginary world. Real world is dark and grim.
Playground is colored.
Beautifully balanced color in the tree.
Change of perspective. Detail, like tape on Beekle’s crown.
At the end, we learn Beekle’s purpose.

2014 Caldecott Medal: Locomotive
In this book, artistic expression as a whole.
Pen & Ink with water color — amazing detail.
Sense of speed. Tones give a sense of place and time.
There’s a second visual narrative in the illustrations.
Train has a diagonal line of energy. Great detail. Even bolts on the locomotive. Night scene. Coming right at you.
Font is used effectively.
Amazing end papers in this book.
Again dust jacket and boards have different images.

Elements of Art
Flora and the Flamingo: Color
Effective use of negative white space.
Line: Straight vertical line causes us to stop.
Molly Idle was an animator before illustrator — flaps add motion.
Diagonal line suggests movement.
Tree branches add balance
Color does evoke feeling and mood.
Creepy Carrots has a totally different feel.
Also minimal colors in One Cool Friend and use of white space.
Patterns used consistently.

This One Summer
Also minimal use of color. Indigo gives us a nostalgic feel.
Multiple images to suggest movement.
A variety of page and panel layouts.

Creative Spirits
Viva Frida — A new kind of art. Stop motion puppets, paint, photography, digital manipulation
Color is vibrant and intense.
Much texture
Begins with puppets and evolves into a dream world of acrylic paints.

The Right Word — collage and water color
Interesting shapes right from the start
Focus of each page is on a book cover
3D collage — lots of texture.
End papers goes from cluttered to ordered

The Noisy Paint Box
Expressionistic art — acrylic paint and paper collage.
Starts formal – art explodes with emotion later
Text becomes part of the illustrations

Dave the Potter
Light streams down on him.
Collage elements cut out of glossy photographs
Element of shape — roundness as he creates the bowl

Journey, by Aaron Becker
Different perspectives
Endpapers show different modes of transportation throughout the ages
Details of her room show her longing for travel

Me… Jane
Jane also makes a journey
Me… Jane is a circle story and first and last pictures reflect that.

Nana in the City
Vibrant colors
Spread before book begins lead to the city.
Grandma’s red accessories make her stand out.
Vignettes show action in quick sequence.
Page turn with boy marching right off the page.
They stand out from the crowd but blend in with the city.

Mr. Wuffles!
Water color and india ink
Layer upon layer to get the dimensionality of the cat.
Long thin panels with varying perspective
Mounted a camera to a broomstick to get a cat perspective
Color value change when we focus on the aliens. Different sense of space.
He worked with a linguist to develop a new language
Dust jacket and boards of books are totally different.

Sleep Like a Tiger.
Lots of pattern — acrylic paint on board, collage, digital manipulation.
Repeating motifs
Tiger is important
On moon, collage is the text of Tyger, by William Blake
Shape — rounded and comforting. Snail shape

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
Shape is very important here, and negative/positive space
Colors change subtly as they dig.
Visual vertical motion where they fall.

This is Not My Hat
All hand-lettered
Horizontal format
In the sea, but grounded with the tops of plants.
The images tell a very different story than the narrative.
Clear movement across the page toward the page turn
Has the unusual movement “backwards”
Opposing narrative — completely different from the narrative

A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Blue end papers match blue of Amos’s house. Red letters match red of balloon. Horizontal line carries action through.
Flourish at end of each line, different each page.
Vertical lines cause us to pause.
Woodblock printing causes texture.
The animals aren’t humorous, but have dignity.
Text balances the image.
Amos is touching almost every animal in the story.

Now groups talk about picture books.

ALA Annual Conference: YALSA Shark Tank Program Ideas

YALSA Shark Tank Program Ideas

This was a Young Adult Library Services Association program where members submitted ideas for programs, and “Sharks” critiqued them. (They were awfully nice sharks, but these were good ideas!) I didn’t stay to find out who won funding for their idea, but all had great potential!

Susan Del Rosario
Crystle Martin
K-Fai Steele
David ten Have

Program Ideas:
Pitch 12: Teens and Technology: Interactive 3D display
Virtual world of Minecraft brought to life in 3D.
Project: Have teens create 3D pieces for a display they curate.
Each piece printed on 3D printer and put into a display the teens curate.
Goals: Strengthening STEM skills and increasing engagement with the library
Outcomes: How many teens involved and what they learn.
Sharks: Using Minecraft to scale up to 3D modeling, etc. Takes their interest and builds on it.
Hope you’ll find some way to celebrate what they make.
One-on-one time and small groups to teach kids the software.
Want it to be super collaborative. Help them learn teamwork.
Seeing their pieces will be satisfying.

Jennifer Bishop from Maryland, Carroll County
Use subscription box model — crates exhibited on the public floor for exploration.
TABs will create videos on monthly crate unboxings.
Teens will learn new skills.
Ideas have teens come and innovate through play.
Open access exhibit model along with program model.
Will evaluate success based on surveys.
Plan to run for one year for around $1500.
Sharks: Encouraging teens themselves to promote on social media.
Have you thought about teens determining what is in the crates?
Part of survey will determine future crates.
Do librarians get to play with the crates, too? Staff is trained, too. Someone on each branch can assist.
How will the items survive? Need to get them into the hands of everyone. Teens have been very careful with them.
There will be sheets with some things you can do with each crate.
Encouraging other librarians: There are many resources out there to learn. A lot is trial and error. We can learn along with our teens. You don’t have to be an expert to start.

Katie McBride, Mill Valley Public Library, California.
Building History in 3D
Teach kids 3D modeling skills to build a historically accurate model of their town 100 years ago.
Time Walk project.
Use local history to get community engagement.
Building history in 3D will also impact the Mill Valley community.
Great example of how libraries can be curators.
Will engage students in the past and give them technological skills.
They’ll have groups of teens work on one building at a time.

Kristin Phelps, Whittier Middle School, Oklahoma
Make Your Library Space
They have a variety of borrowed tech toys. Do have access to experts.
Have teens decide what would best meet their learning goals.
Create a Makerspace environment.
Sharks: Use other people’s money as much as possible!
Teens loved the Littlebits. They tried things out before they decide what to purchase.
Has access to university professors, collaboration with university.
More important than tools is relationship with the teens.
Think about collaborative projects when building a makerspace.

Rika, Napa County Library, California
Incorporating Digital Literacy with College and Job Readiness
–Teens are entering the workforce without critical skills
–Youth unemployment is at an all-time high.
Talked and surveyed their teens in interests and what information they needed.
There was a felt need for what colleges and jobs are looking for.
Creating climbers — space in the library — symposium reaching out to community partners to supply this information.
Sharks: How does digital literacy fit into it?
Trying to show them how it links together. Where to go? Will try to have peer teaching, which builds leadership skills.

Shanna Miles, South Atlanta High School
American’s Next Top Maker
90% of kids are economically disadvantages.
10% of class of 2015 are the first in families to graduate from high school.
Many students have outside responsibilities.
Program involves creative competition.
Incentivize digital play in the library.
Students will apply, 6 best ideas will go to next round
Will have maker packs for the next level.
Categories: App development, music production, writing, game development
Final judging will be an assembly with the student body.
Prizes are opportunities toward entrepreneurship.

Sharks will consult on winners.

Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet


Notes from the Caldecott/Newbery/Wilder Banquet

Dan Santat Caldecott Winner
He’s 40, but he feels like a kid pretending to be an adult.
Still feels like he’s pretending to know what he’s doing.
11 years in publishing, over 60 books.
Santat is alphabetically next to Seuss, Sendak, and Silverstein.
Always wanted to believe hard work could mask any shortcomings.
Always worried he’d be discovered as an imposter.
Slow and steady career rise.
Navigated the process by reading reviews.
He reads every single review. To search for answers. What does it take to make a great book?
Had an opportunity to work at Google making google doodles. Would have provided financial security.
Was hoping his friends would tell him to keep it real and making books is what he’s meant to do.
Finally turned it down, because he knew he’d always wonder what he could have done.
Published 13 books in 2014. Terribly tired. Felt like he had nothing left to give. Learned he’s only human. Was angry at himself for being weak. Feeling that he’d peaked. And he couldn’t push himself any more.
He wants far more than he’s capable of. Keeps wanting to work harder.
Just before getting the call, he’d reminded himself he wasn’t good enough.
Maybe is a dangerous place to be.
Magic only happens in fairy tales and feel-good movies.
You just experienced the unimaginable becoming a reality.
After 10 years of working like a dog, he realizes this is a prize that can’t be earned, but he will always try to be worthy of it.
Let him feel he’s good enough. And not invisible.
Other authors and illustrators make it look effortless.
You are the stars in the sky.
Thank you for allowing me to shine with you.
Thanks his wife who supported the decision to decline the job offer from Google.
I’m still a kid pretending to be an adult. His agent tells him what he needs to hear.
Thank to bloggers — Betsy Bird, John Schu, Travis Jonker, Colby Sharp, Nerdy Book Club
A month before Beekle was published, he was worried about the ambiguity of the ending.
To his kids: “Beekle” was his kids’ word for Bicycle. How it feels to be loved unconditionally.
Despite our insecurities, it’s our nature to work our hardest.
You are my proof that I am able to produce something perfect in this world.

Kwame Alexander, The Crossover

When I was a child, I wanted to be a fireman and a doctor and a king.
Tonight I feel like a king.
Newbery trance is not kind to clarity and conciseness.
My first librarians were my parents.
Books lined the walls and floors of our home.
Librarian: All about joy and about books.

Honored to be in this room with so many pulchritudinous librarians.
“The most distinguished literature for children” — that sounds perfect.
Went to Key West to write the speech. Went to the Mel Fisher museum — a treasure hunter who found gold.
After 20+ rejections, he finally discovered gold.
About a family — not about his family but from his own familial experiences.
Editor: “Brightly shining yes in a sea of no.”
“How do you win the Newbery?”
Learn words, love words. “Your son intimidates the other children with his words.”

How do you win the Newbery? Be interesting.
Father always hosts a book fair the day after Thanksgiving.
Books are doors to a life of sustainability and success.
Was going to be a doctor.
— Took Organic Chemistry
— Took a course on poetry with Nikki Giovanni
“She smiles like your grandma used to do when you thought you said something profound, but you didn’t.”
“I can teach you to write poetry, but I can’t teach you to be interesting.”

Wrote his wife a poem a day for a year.
Poetry found him.
Use your words. Be interesting. Be eloquent.
His story of becoming a poet.
Living an authentic life, so you’ll have something authentic to write about.
You have to answer the call.
Write a poem that dances. That looks good.
Write a poem that is contagious!

Now that’s a speech!

Wilder Award: Donald Crews
Without his late wife, Ann Jonas, he wouldn’t have gotten on this journey.
They took the fork in the road.
He used to read to his grandma, Big Mama. She said he would go somewhere.
He developed a tendency to doodle in the margins more than work on the problem at hand.
Fork in the road: Applied to and was accepted to an Arts high school.
Teacher asked him about his plans — told him he would apply to Cooper Union.
Failure was impossible.
Fork in the road: Cooper Union.
Graphics teacher told him he didn’t have much talent, but he had the determination to figure out what to do.
Fork in the road: Ann Jonas followed him to Germany and they got married.
Included a book for children in his portfolio. — A to Z
First rejections were in German
Fork in the road: Freelance work.
Failure was impossible.
Fork in the road: Find something only you can do.
Fork in the road: Began to think about his picture books. Freight Train
First book as a full-time children’s book creator.
Parade has a cameo of himself.
Led to Big Mama’s, and now black people fundamental to the books.
Also encouraged Ann to try children’s books.
She supplied the courage to try to be successful artists in New York.
He unreservedly shares any honor with her.

Afterward, a highlight is going through the Receiving Line and getting to congratulate all the Award Winners in person.

ALA Annual Conference: All Hands on Tech

All Hands on Tech
Explore, Play and Imagine Interactive Tech Time in Kids’ Library Programming

Rachel Nard, Mary Beth Parks, Amy Tooley from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Children are growing up with a wide variety of tech that can support learning.
Not all tech is great. They did research.

Developed a plan, selected equipment, created app guidelines, integrated technology, evaluated the programs.

Build your case first. Look at community need.
Wanted to provide more than just access.
Wanted staff to communicate how they could support learning.
Wanted staff to be media mentors.
Began the project at locations where staff were comfortable with the technology.
Learned about best practices and research.

You can start small. It was scalable.
Developing a Plan
Looked at Fred Rogers Institute statement — was the basis for all their work.
Also used Littleelit as a resource.
Used ALSC resources related to digital media.
Set goals — wanted to create a tech team or a digital librarian position.
Wanted to have developmentally appropriate programs.
Identified outcomes and evaluation.
Researched equipment — selected iPads because of selected access.
Purchased an iPad, headphones, big grips for little hands, screen wipes.
Begin with a purchase, but start small.

Created App Selection Guidelines
Professional reviews
Recommendations/reputable sites
Cost & value
Use & accessibility

Approved App: Daisy the Dinosaur
Reviewed by SLJ. No ads. Free. User friendly. Easily integrated into existing programs. (Robotics program)
It’s a coding app.
Clean interface. Simple coding.

Unapproved App: Reading Rainbow
Peer recommendation. No ads. Fee-based beyond initial free download. User friendly. Easily integrated into existing programs. Ongoing pretty heavily fee-based.

Integrating technology: Programming
Created formal lesson plans for each program as they were starting out.
Very intentional about the use of iPads in the program.
Have used them in Early Literacy storytimes to many other programs.
Use them a lot during outreach.
After the program, check if the learning goals were met.

Program Exploration: Felt Board
Use in any way you’d use a physical felt board. You don’t have to cut out each piece.
Also works well for a storytelling app.
Always tells parents it’s not the app that helps the child learn, but the interaction with the parent that helps the child learn.
Always tell parents they need to be using apps with their child.

Make a Scene Farmyard (Free)
Good for a farm storytime. No gimmick or game, just putting animals in the farm.
Can be used during the storytime or give to families afterward. Always emphasize to parents what early literacy skills apps help.

Toca Robot Lab (school age)
STEM Super Science Program
With Pete’s Robot — ebook
Have used a Bee-bot — a basic, interactive robot
Toca Robot Lab has a maze to send the robot through.

Imagination Builders & Build and Play App
Works on drag and drop skills.

Gardening Thyme & Gro Garden App
Example: composting program and used Gro Garden app to explore how compost works.

Homeschool Explorations program & Leaf Snap app
Leaf Snap identifies leaves for you, with lots of info.

They’re trying to merge the creative with the analytical.

Summer Reading program and Word Girl app
Summer Reading Extravaganza and Code Fest
Had a technology tent with tech for all ages.
Hosted a CodeFest Jr. program
Used LittleBits.

Program Resource: Guided Access
Keeps the iPad locked on a single app.
Increases focus. Controls features. Password controlled. Timer function.

Program Evaluation
Based on evaluations, they did change some processes and accessories.
Phase 1: Did 470 programs reaching 10,597 children/caregivers.

Surveys throughout
Children’s Specialists Feedback

Planning for the future:
Ongoing professional development
Expanding use of technology
Seeking additional funding

Tips & Tricks:
Standardize passwords across all devices.
Choose iPad cases carefully.
Guided Access may be the key to your sanity.
Changed to Autobox cases. iPads are more durable than you’d think!
Managing devices takes longer than expected
Never underestimate the attraction of iPads for all ages.

Their website is

Evaluating programs made it easier to get funding.
They’re now using an app management system.