Tuesday, April 27, 2010

To RSS or not to RSS

I will admit that I've always been a fan of the bookmark. I tend to keep up with my favorite sites, blogs and listservs (and I've been more of a listserv fangirl, having followed/participated on adbooks almost since its inception and on yalsa-bk for over 10 years now) but there is something nice about having information delivered to me. Assuming I can find somewhere to access it. And remember the password into bloglines.

Recounting Disasters and Epic stories

While adding annotations for Reality Rules II, not only have I come across some great books, but I also have been dealing with a common cataloguer's dilemma: into which sub genre does a book fall? This is why we have editors, per se, and both Jack Batten and Russell Freedman's books about WWI are very good: Batten's book, The War to End All Wars: the Story of World War I, was a nominee for YALSA's 2010 Award of Excellence for Young Adults, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Freedman's The War to End All Wars: World War One is a finalist for the 2011 list.

Should these books be entered in Defining Times? They were for Canada, perhaps not so much for the United States, and they would definitely fit in History's Darkest Hours, under Human Cruelties.

One I don't have any problem entering under that category, and another book I couldn't put down (and hadn't really wanted to pick up) was Dave Cullen's Columbine. The story of what really happened, and what went wrong in the tragedy and the aftermath as the survivors tried to pick up the pieces and the families of the slain fought for years to find out what happened despite the 'myths' perpetuated by the media and the investigators is presented by an investigator who has become the best authority on the subject.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Googling away

While I have been (or am in the process of being) won over by gmail and even google calendar, as it is rather nice to have access to information almost anywhere, I find many of Google's apps to be rather MUCH. I waited for my invitation to Google wave, only to find out that I didn't have any friends/colleagues with which to play.

I do like the map function on google earth, as I find it much easier to locate a strange place when I know what it actually looks like, as opposed to where Mapquest tells me it should be. Too often I'm told that I can turn somewhere that I can't and a street view will let me correct that. Little things like this will help google take over the 'net (resistance is futile...)

Animal Life

While getting ready for summer reading adventure outreach I have found myself drawn to animal books:

Seven-Footer Press's amazing Life Size Zoo, which will not only appeal to the upper elementary school audience that is the bread-and-butter audience for SRA but also a lot of the ESL tweens to whom I speak. The pictures in this book are amazing, making the animals accessible to kids who will never get a chance to come anywhere near them, and the information in this book supplements those pictures in a really fun way.

Kelly Milner Halls gives readers a tale about animals and the people who fought for them in Saving the Baghdad Zoo: a true story of hope and heroes. This moving story centers around Army Captain William Sumner, sent as an archaeologist to Iraq to preserve cultural treasures after the bombing of the city. The treasures he and a team of international volunteers ended up saving were the denizens of the Baghdad zoo, including pelicans, bears, lions, and priceless arabian horses.

One last, compulsively readable nonfiction book that I will admit I picked up solely for the cover is Rescue Ink: How Ten Guys Saved Countless Dogs And Cats, Twelve Horses, Five Pigs, One Duck, And A Few Turtles which, according to the cover, is about to become a reality tv show. This is the story of a group of large, burly and tattooed men who convince abusive animal owners to either treat their animals the way they ought to be treated (helping them to do so) or relinquish their ownership. I was prepared not to liek this book and found myself wondering what Batso, Big Mike, Angel and the guys would do next. Too bad we won't get the show in Canada.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Social Networking

I will freely admit to being a Facebook junkie. I find it very useful, especially as most of my friends and family live in other cities, States and countries. It put me back in touch with people I hadn't been able to reach in years (hi, old boys!) and lets me chat with people with whom I would never otherwise have had the occasion to meet.
I have become quite fond of some of the applications, too - but I can save my thoughts on Goodreads, etc., for next week.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dental dramas: Smile

Raina Telgemeier's Smile, a graphic memoir, starts with her going to the orthodontist merely to correct her overbite. This is traumatic enough to her: her sister teases her about her impending status as a "metal-mouth" although her friends tell her that it won't be too bad. She never expects the accident in which she knocks out her two front teeth, setting her on a traumatic orthodontic odyssey that involves a root canal, braces, headgear and successive retainers with fake front teeth while her own teeth were moved into the gap.

Raina is still undergoing the same journey as other girls her age, juggling thoughts of friends and boys while trying to deal with what they must think of her strange appearance. This is a book that will appeal not only to tweens and teens but to anyone who has had braces. My own years with headgear and the teeth I had pulled were painful enough, I can't imagine going through anything like this.

The book is presented in bold, visually appealing colours with an easily-read font and has been nominated for the 2011 Great Graphics for Teens list by the American Library Association.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wikipedia and reference tools

My weekly musing for CPL's 2.0 assignment is to reflect on Wikipedia. I will confess to having used Wikipedia as a reference source (and I do use "confess" here in the full sense of the word), as did Sarah Statz Cords, given that there wasn't a pre-existing definition to be found for 'Micro-history' elsewhere. In such cases, wikipedia can be very useful. Definitions and articles can, unfortunately, be altered by anyone, which makes it a starting point rather than any sort of definitive, authoritative or conclusive source on its own, but it can provide readers somewhere to go when they can't find answers anywhere else.

Who am I to write 'encyclopedia' articles, or even edit them? I am reminded of the Groucho Marx quote, "I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members."

Friday, April 2, 2010

SLJ's Battle of the Books

The Frog Scientist was announced this morning as the winner of the Undead Poll in the Undead Poll for School Library Journal's Battle of the Books and I couldn't be more delighted. It came as a complete surprise, but Jonathan Hunt, commentator for BOB, points readers to a positive review of the book from a fellow scientist that also pointed them to the vote.

Comments on that page wondered if the other books in the series (Scientists in the Field) were as good, and indeed they are. Almost all of them have been named to award lists. It's a great series and this is a truly terrific book. It shows a scientist with a passion for his work, a great demonstration of the scientific method and some really cool science. It was also one of the more relevant environmental books last year.
That means the final battle on Monday morning, to be judged by literary great Katherine Patterson, will be between Pamela S. Turner's The Frog Scientist, Elizabeth Partridge's Marching for Freedom, and Frances Hardinge's The Lost Conspiracy.

Read about all the battles and the posts from the Peanut Gallery at the SLJ site here.