Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Street of the Lifted Lorax

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

This summer at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, I especially enjoyed Seussville, and there I especially enjoyed The Street of the Lifted Lorax. 

The Lorax was one of Josh’s favorite bedtime books.  So much so, that he had it memorized and could recite long parts of it in his adorable one-year-old voice.  Timothy also loved it as a child.  Steve was the one who bought the book, and I will always remember his voice reading it and then Josh’s baby voice chiming in.

As a children’s librarian, it seems especially appropriate to celebrate The Lorax with this sequence of pictures:


They had a plaque quoting from the beginning of the book:


Here’s the devastation left behind after the Thneed factory ran out of truffula trees:


“On the end of a rope he lets down a tin pail and you have to toss in fifteen cents and a nail and the shell of a great-great-great-grandfather snail.”


“Then he grunts, ‘I will call you by Whisper-ma-Phone, for the secrets I tell are for your ears alone.'”


SLUPP!  Down slupps the Whisper-ma-Phone to your ear and the old Once-ler’s whispers are not very clear, since they have to come down through a snergelly hose, and he sounds as if he had smallish bees up his nose.

” ‘Now I’ll tell you,’ he says, with his teeth sounding gray, ‘how the Lorax got lifted and taken away…'”


They tried to put a more positive spin on it, but the stump below is supposed to say UNLESS:

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.

“SO . . .  Catch!” says the Once-ler.  He lets something fall.  “It’s a Truffula Seed.  It’s the last one of all!  You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.  And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.  Plant a new Truffula.  Treat it with care.  Give it clean water.  And feed it fresh air.  Grow a forest.  Protect it from axes that hack.  Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back.”


Booktalking Tornadoes

Friday, June 6th, 2008

I booktalked at three local elementary schools this week.  A lot of fun, but tremendously exhausting!

For the first and third schools, I had my co-worker Sue along, which does make it easier.  For the second school, I was alone in the morning, and was joined by my co-worker Kumud in the afternoon.  It definitely is nice to have someone share the talking!  Though I was relieved to prove to myself that I can, in fact, pull off a booktalk on my own.

The idea is that I’m going in to the local elementary schools and talking with each grade level.  First, I tell them about the summer reading program.  Then I let them choose from the books I brought along (from the featured books for the program) and I tell them how the books start, to try to pique their interest.

I have about a half-hour with each grade level, so it ends up being 20 to 25 minutes of talking.

I was nervous about it:  I became a librarian because I loved my job at Sembach Library so much.  But I never had to do anything like this at Sembach.  I didn’t even run programs at Sembach.  What if I don’t like it?  Will that mean I’m in the wrong job?

But it ended up being a whole lot of fun.  The elementary school kids are still cute and enthusiastic, and I am not trying to teach them anything — just tell them about something fun and tell them about some wonderful books.  When they do seem interested in the books, it’s a great feeling.

We did have some excitement on Wednesday, though.  It was the day I booktalked the morning alone, and the air conditioning was broken in the room where I was talking, which made it all the more tiring.

At the start of the next-to-last booktalk, the kids noticed the wind ferociously blowing outside with pouring rain and lightning and thunder.  I said, “Isn’t it great we’re warm and safe inside?” and kept talking.  But after awhile, they made me stop — because in the background, their tornado alarm was going off.

I was glad the teachers were in charge and not me!  The kids all knew what to do.  They went in the hallways and ducked and covered.  (It did not look very comfortable!)  Some of the kids were crying.  The power went out, and for a few moments there was no backup power, which was a bad moment of blackness.

The teachers had mercy on them and let the kids sit against the wall after about ten minutes.  I brought my bag with me into the hallway, so I was fortunate to have some reading material!  They had to stay in the hallways for at least a half-hour.

Driving back to the library, there were all kinds of branches and leaves in the road.  I had to detour because of a downed power line, and there was no power in the library.  But the books still worked!  I sat under an emergency light and counted beads — we are going to have a big jar of beads for people to guess the number.  And I need to get them counted first!

It turned out that all the schools in Fairfax County had the tornado warning.  Tim had to stay in the duck and cover position for a half-hour.  Many reported seeing funnel clouds, but thankfully, I didn’t hear of any touching down.

I was most stressed out, though, about the Algebra 2 Final Exam that my son had at 7 pm that night.  I called, and they had power, so the test was to go on, even though another wave of storms was predicted for 7:30.

Mapquest said it would take me a half-hour to drive to the test center, but of course it took a full hour.  Through rain and a couple of places where traffic lights weren’t working.  It was a very stressful drive.  Fortunately, the worst of the next wave of storms happened while we were in the building.  And at least now Tim is all DONE with Algebra 2.

But it ended up being an extremely exhausting day!  By the time I finished booktalking the next day, I was wiped out, and ended up getting a migraine just from tiredness.

However, it was still a lot of fun!  Next year I will try to make sure I schedule restful time after each booktalk and ask that I not be scheduled to man the information desk after a day of booktalking!  But now I have a weekend to recover before next week’s round of activities.

And when the preparation is all done and the Summer Reading Program is underway, I will get to celebrate by going up to Philadelphia to march in my graduation at Drexel!  On my birthday!  It will feel extra good to celebrate becoming a Librarian as I will have just completed my big event of the year for a children’s librarian — getting ready for the Summer Reading Program.

Go me!  🙂


Librarianship as a Calling

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Having finished Our Singular Strengths:  Meditations for Librarians, by Michael Gorman, today I’ve begun reading Our Own Selves:  More Meditations for Librarians, by the same author.

In the first meditation, he quotes from a book written in 1966 by Lawrence Clark Powell.  Gorman says:

In it, he summons up a vision of a library as a place formed by “good hands” that have made it orderly and efficient; by “good heads” that have not only shaped collections by intelligent choice but have also absorbed a good part of the knowledge contained in those collections; and “good hearts” that exercise service in humility — motivated by a love of people and learning….

Libraries are about service or they are about nothing.

That got me thinking about why I’m excited about being a librarian.

Today, I had several opportunities to help people find information, quite a few of which were Moms with kids.  That’s one thing I thoroughly enjoy doing.

I love books.  I love learning.  I love connecting people and books.  And I like helping people.

That’s why becoming a librarian isn’t just about finding a job to support myself.  It’s about finding a calling.

May I remember that!

Shelves made from Books! Too Delightful!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Okay, from a Library list, I just discovered the website

Click on “Gallery” and then go to “Funniest Shelves.”  Or use this link:

This artist makes bookshelves–from books!  The titles are part of the fun.  The first “funny” one has a shelf made with “Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty” supported by “All the King’s Men” and “Anatomy of a Murder”–with an eggbeater through it.

This does seem to be a good use for old books that have outlived their traditional usefulness.  He has an entire bookshelf built with an outdated Encyclopedia Britannica set.  I wish I had discovered this site a few weeks ago, when I was still taking Collection Development class.  I would have offered this as a solution for what to do with weeded books!

I did get a pang when I saw a shelf with a carpentry theme.  One of the books, Sawdust in His Shoes, was a children’s book that I loved when I was a kid.  It’s about a circus performer kid who has to leave the circus and can’t stand it–he ends up finding his way back to the circus.  I had forgotten all about that book, but I read it so many times.  I can think of quotations from it even as I write this.  Hmm.  I will get the author off of the picture and see if I can find a used copy.  Or maybe I should buy the shelf!

The Golden Compass

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

I went to see The Golden Compass movie last night.  I enjoyed the book, and there has been some controversy about the movie, particularly on library lists.  I did have reservations about the trilogy.  The author is an atheist, and did put that mind-set in his books.  In the third book, there’s a scene where “The Authority”–what the people of that world think of as God– is portrayed as a senile old man and dies.

Some of the internet rumors say that the movie is against the Catholic church.  I thought the Magisterium portrayed in the movie sounded more like a totalitarian government of our world than like the church of our world.  It wanted to control everyone and squelch independent thought.

But the Magisterium in the movie didn’t strike me as at all scary.  They say it’s trying to control everyone, but it seems to be failing miserably.  All the characters the movie follows are not giving in to the Magisterium’s wishes.

I brought my thirteen-year-old son to the movie, though he has not read the book.  He was not impressed.  I think the movie is more likely to keep him from reading the books than the other way around.  My personal opinion was that they tried to pack an epic book into the much shorter format of a movie–and it simply didn’t work.  The issues and plot points that seem important and earth-shaking in the book seem trivial and minor in the movie.

My son pointed out that Lyra says, “I thought I would lose you” to the armored bear–but that didn’t mean anything to him, because in the movie she had only just met the bear.  Condensing the timeline in the movie takes away much of the story’s impact.  I had to explain several things to him that weren’t clear in the movie, as well.

All in all, I think it’s kind of ironic that anyone protested against the movie, because I think that will be responsible for most of the attention it gets.  An excellent, well-done movie might influence people’s thinking–but I don’t think this particular movie would have a lot of impact on its own.

It was interesting.  I think the main point against the Magisterium was made that they were trying to “tell people what to do.”  Phillip Pullman seems to exalt free will as the ultimate value.  (Adam and Eve were noble for deciding to act how they wanted to act.)  This came out in both Lyra and Mrs. Coulter saying, “I don’t let anyone tell me what to do.”

Well, in Lyra, she came across as a bit of a spoiled brat.  As for Mrs. Coulter, what she was choosing to do was some pretty evil things.  Those things were sanctioned by the Magisterium, but they were clearly supposed to be horrific.

So instead of illustrating how wonderful it is to have free will, I felt like the movie illustrated that SOME rules are good, that everybody doing what’s right in his own eyes will facilitate chaos.

Just today, I read the line, “We looked at our pain and struggles, even our terror, and recognized God’s patience and his amazing gift of free will.”  (Patty Kirk, Confessions of an Amateur Believer.)

I’m not sure what religions Philip Pullman has encountered.  But I believe that free will is a gift of God.  I do believe that God has given us laws as guidelines–the designer telling us the best way to run our lives.  (Is an auto manufacturer impinging on our free will by telling us to keep oil in the engine?)  You can ignore Him and bring a lot of pain and suffering into your own life and the lives of those around you.

Even in the story, Lyra has a strong sense of justice–trying to restore stolen children, trying to restore a rightful king to his throne, and trying to keep her father from being killed.

But all told, the movie wasn’t nearly as thought-provoking or memorable as the book.  Kind of fun to watch the computerized creatures, but not the sort of movie that sticks with you.

Thing #14

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

The 14th “Thing” in our library’s program to do 23 Web 2.0 activities is to explore  It’s a site where you can search blogs.

I had some fun with it, searching for my own posts.  I did not find the Great Falls post I posted most recently, but I did find my goodreads post.  It was fun to look for authors I have recently quoted on Sonderquotes and find other people quoting the same authors.

Then I looked up a title of a book I just checked out, Keturah and Lord Death.  It came highly recommended on the YALSA-Book Listserv, and I thought it would be interesting to find bloggers reading YA literature.

Sure enough, I really like the sound of one of the first blogs I looked at–“Jane on Books,” (  with the subtitle–“I Love Kids’ Books.”  I’m going to have to start following that blog….

But wait, there’s more!

The Librarian Soul:

Talking Teen Books:

Everything Under the Sun:

The Book Blog:

Book Trail:

Pell Mel:

So Many Books, So Little Time:

Liz’s Book Buzz:

Wow!  I was only getting started!  I think I like this method of finding blogs I will enjoy following.  Probably too much.  It’s not like I need more blogs to follow!  But I did want to add to the Blogroll on my site, and I think I’ve hit on a good method.

Oh, by the way, everyone enjoyed the book!

Better than LibraryThing?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

I just found another site for cataloging your books–  It is positioned as social networking for readers.

It seems very similar to  However–and this is a big however–it doesn’t seem to charge you after you’ve entered 200 books.  It does allow you to post reviews and rate your books and all that good stuff.

I’m curious–Do people out there have an opinion on as opposed to  I’m thinking perhaps I should make a goodreads account and post my reviews to that site as well…  But I will probably only go with one of those two sites, and I already know of a few friends who use librarything.  What do you all think?