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Book Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Yesterday, as part of the #SVYALit Project, we talked with Sharon Biggs Waller about A Mad, Wicked Folly. Yesterday’s chat was one of the few #SVYALit Project chats where I hadn’t already read the books before putting the project outline together. So I read AMWF this week. Here are my thoughts.

Victoria Darling wants nothing more than to be an artist. The problem is, she lives in London in the early 1900s and the only role that society has planned for her is wife and mother. And she doesn’t even get to choose who she will marry, that is dictated by things like station, class, and her parents.

When we first meet Vicky, she is sneaking away to take art classes. One fateful day, she agrees to pose nude for her class. When news gets back to her family, she is sent home in disgrace. Back at home, her family is trying to redeem their name and arrange for Vicky to marry a man, claiming she is lucky anyone will have her now. If Vicky doesn’t want to see her family fall from grace, she must play the role of dutiful daughter and wife successfully, but that also means that she must deny who she truly is and what she wants for herself.

At the same time, the Suffragette movement is starting to build and Vicky finds herself drawn to their cause. Why shouldn’t women get to vote, to go to college, to choose who they want to marry for themselves? She is also drawn to a man, a man who is not her fiancee’, but does turn out to be her artistic muse.

What we see in A Mad Wicked Folly is just what was at stake when women fought for their rights. For it’s not just Vicky who may lose, but she could cost her family everything: status, business contracts that allow them to support themselves. For Vicky, it means trying not only to get into an art school that will only let in a very small number of women, but trying to find a way to pay for it since she knows that her father who doesn’t believe in women’s education would never support it. In a way, some of the issues of this day very much mirror our current day: he who holds the purse strings has the greatest amount of power and influence.

As Waller mentioned in yesterday’s discussion, although Folly is specifically about the Suffragette movement, it is also a story about anyone who has ever come of age and had to make brave choices to sacrifice security and comfort to be faithful to their passion, to who they truly are inside. Throughout the story we see Vicky’s passion to art, he burning desire to study and grow and be considered among the great of her time, and you want for her to succeed. Anyone who has ever wrestled with acceptance can relate to Vicky’s struggle.

It was fascinating for me to be reading this right as the Women Against Feminism memes broke out on the Internet. Folly is a reminder of where Feminism came from, what it is, and why it mattered. And why it matters still today because although women have made tremendous strides, we know from stats like the percentage of women in Congress (around 20%) and from looking at women in the workforce (where they still make less on average then men doing the same job, where few boards have even a single female on them, and where women in the boardroom are still often assumed to be secretaries) that we still have a long ways to go in discussing equality. For a great take on Women Against Feminism, do be sure and check out what The Bloggess has to say. Sharks are mentioned. It is brilliant.

As a mother, I realized the importance of discussing these issues with my daughters when The Tween brought home a school assignment on pink paper asking her to choose a famous female Texan to study and report on. The boys were given a blue paper with a list of famous male Texans. And because our history books still favor men, there was a notable disparity in the types of people each group had to choose from. I am excited to be able to give this book to her to read and discuss to help her better understand just what those women fighting before her were fighting for, what they were fighting against, and how we must practice due diligence to make sure that those before us haven’t fought in vain – we can not let those rights slip away, and we must continue to fight for all rights to help create a just world that focuses on human rights. All human rights, because all people matter.

So, obviously, I highly recommend this book. I thought that it really took me not only into the time and helped me understand what was happening, but it did so through the eyes of a character who had a fiery passion and wrestled with her conscience to make difficult decisions that were not without cost, not only for her but for the people that she loved.

Published in January from Viking Juvenile.

The Next #SVYALit Project Google Hangout: It’s the End of the World as We Know It

For the next #SVYALit Project Google Hangout On Air, we’re going to look at what happens when the world falls apart: post apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. 

It’s the End of the World as We Know It, what we can learn about current issues surrounding sexual violence through dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction

Date:September 24th (Noon Eastern)

Confirmed: Mindy McGinnis (NOT A DROP TO DRINK), Ilsa J. Bick (ASHES), and Elizabeth Fama (PLUS ONE)

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

In the near future, water is scarce. Some people will do anything to get it.  And some people will do anything to protect what little they have.  Lynn has never known a world in the before, all she knows is now.  She is used to living with her mom and protecting their water.  But there are wisps of smoke in the horizon.  People are coming.  Is Lynn ready? The companion novel, In a Handful of Dust, will be released in October 2014.

Ashes by Ilsa. J. Bick

“An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every  electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.” (Publisher’s Summary)

Ashes is the first book in a trilogy. Book two is Shadows and book 3 is Monsters.

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

After the deadly flu pandemic in the early 1900s, the population was divided into two groups: those who are permitted to walk around during the day and those who are forced to live their life only by night. It began as a temporary measure to help minimize contact between large groups and stop the transmission of the flu, but it has now evolved into a caste system. Sol is a Smudge, one of those forced to work at night and sleep by day. But in one last attempt to do something for her family, she plots to kidnap a baby – for just a moment – so that her dying grandfather can see his last born relative, a Ray, before he dies.

The #SVYALit Project Historical Fiction Google Hangout is Happening TODAY

Here’s a look at today’s discussion in the #SVYALit Project. Today’s topic is historical fiction and we’ll be discussing MAID OF SECRETS and MAID OF DECEPTION by Jennifer McGowan, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY by Sharon Biggs Waller and GILT by Katherine Longshore.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfMQtsqndt0]

Here’s a link to the Cuddlebuggery post on Sex Positive YA that is mentioned.

Here’s a link to the School Library Journal article I wrote on Slut Shaming with an example of a new sex positive YA title

Here are our lists of sex positive YA mentioned: Karen’s List  Christa’s List  Carrie’s List

Also, want to know more what we mean when we say Edwardian or Victorian or Tudor historical fiction? Jennifer McGowan and I wrote an article on YA Historical Fiction which will appear in your August 2014 issue of VOYA Magazine. We break down the various time periods and give you examples in our YA historical fiction reading timeline.

Take 5: Sharks!

I’m going to continue our Shark Week theme from yesterday, by sharing a Take 5 list with shark books. Technically, two of the books are not really shark books, but they have awesome shark scenes. If you have more titles to add to the list, please do so in the comments. I would hate to miss any!

Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop

Scholastic Book Description:

Dragged out to sea with nothing but a piece of trash to keep him afloat, Davey is certain things can’t get any worse…and then he spots a shark.

He couldn’t sleep. That’s how it all started.

When Davey wakes, just as the sun is rising, he can’t wait to slip out of the crammed hotel room he’s sharing with his family. Leave it to his parents and kid brother to waste an entire day of their vacation sleeping in! Davey heads for the beach, book and glasses in hand, not bothering to leave a note. As the sparkling ocean entices him, he decides he will just test the water. Never mind that “No Swimming” sign. But when the waves pull him farther and farther out to sea, Davey finds himself surrounded not only by water, but something else, something circling below the surface.

This book was brought to my attention on Twitter and I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t wait.

The Living by Matt da la Pena

I am including this book because 1) it is an awesome book and because 2) there are sharks.  Shy takes a job working on a cruise ship because it pays well. But while at sea, the big one hits and triggers powerful storms. When the cruise ship is thrown, there are few survivors, but they find themselves adrift at sea in the few rescue boats they could find. And while drifting at sea, there are, of course, sharks. The Living is a great read and I highly recommend it. I gave it a 4Q and 5P rating in my VOYA review.

Of Posiedon by Anna Banks

Emma and her best friend are swimming in the ocean when Emma sees a shark attack and kill her. But something else happens this day at the beach and Emma begins to realize that she is a not completely human. Soon Galen, the prince of Syrena, and co are watching over Emma as they try to help her realize who she is an accept her destiny.

Meg by Steve Alten

This book is not actually a YA title, but it is awesome and it goes on my list. I listened to this book on audio years ago while driving to my grandmother’s house and I purposely drove 1/2 past her house so I could finish the book, then I doubled back. It was that exciting. Basically, a previously thought extinct Megalodon surfaces and terrorizes. If you have seen any of the Mega Shark VS. whatever movies on SyFy then you know what a Meg is. There are more Meg books by Steve Alten. And if you can, definitely listen to the audio, it’s good.

Jaws by Peter Benchley

Yep, also not technically a YA title. But this is the grandaddy of all shark books and it should be on all the lists. I remember watching the movie for the first time sometime during the summer of the first and second grade. It was terrifying. And on Christmas Eve this year, the 5-year-old and I stayed up and watched it together for her first time while we waited for Santa, possibly the beginning of the weirdest family Christmas tradition ever. She asks to watch the movie all the time and the thing is, it’s still really awesome. So, if you haven’t, go read the book, but probably not at the beach because it might freak out the other beachgoers.

Book Review: Amity by Micol Ostow

At my previous library, we had a patron who would check out the Amityville Horror book over and over again. I am sure this book was written for him, and for all horror fans.

Publisher’s Book Description:

Connor’s family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she’s recovered from a psychotic break.

But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor’s nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren’t there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her?

Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again.

Alternating between parallel narratives, Amity is a tense and terrifying tale suggested by true-crime events that will satisfy even the most demanding horror fan.

Karen’s Thoughts:

Amity begins with a letter. In this letter, a young man, Connor is writing about a new family that has just moved in and quickly moved out of Amity. 

We then begin our story. It is told in alternating chapters from then, which is 10 years ago, and now. In between there are a few other interjections, such as reports from counselors.

Each timeline focuses on the inhabitants of Amity, a house that seems to be alive and have a will of its own. This has house windows that look like eyes. It doesn’t seem to want to be altered in any way so the walls are impenetrable, you can’t even push a nail into them to hang up a picture. And it seems to want to claim its residents as its own. In fact, both MCs notice how once they arrive, they almost never seem to leave, not even to go into town and look around. Of course, when they do, they get the side eye from town residents because they know the story of Amity.

“She was shot in the head!”

Like any good haunted house story, Amity begins slowly with those subtle hints that something might be wrong. Those glimpses outside a window where you think you see something. A faucet that drips blood. An infestation of bees.

Then the momentum builds. Desperation creeps up. And then all hell breaks loose.

At the end of the day what readers want to know is simple: Is it scary? And the answer is yes. It kept me on the edge of my seat as the tension built and I read impatiently to read what would happen next. It took me a few minutes to get used to the alternating rhythm of the story and figure out who was who, but as it built momentum and you fall into its groove it delivers.

Amidst all of the scary house happenings, this is also the story of two different families facing very real problems. Connor’s family in particular is very interesting. It is clear very early on that the father is abusive, which we begin to realize as the family tries to navigate through this ordeal while also navigating this father prone to violence. In many ways, this horror rivaled that of the house. The inhabitants of the house, and the complex family relationships that they try to navigate, are almost as horrific as the house itself. And in each story, there is a strong brother/sister relationship that is then put to the test as the house draws them in and tempts them to the dark side. It is what happens in these relationships that haunts more than the house itself because the strong siblings are forced to realize truths about who they are and watch as their families begin to change and then the thin string that holds them together is unwound. And as a reader you are left with this haunting truth: things change, families fall apart, and we are not always what we seem.

The house is not the only thing hiding scary truths.

Recommended. Amity releases in August from EgmontUSA. ISBN: 978-1-60684-156-3.

Middle Grade Monday – New Beginnings

Today was the first day of school for my students (weird calendar, we start about a month early.) For middle schoolers, every year is a new beginning – new teachers, new classrooms, new challenges, new opportunities. They need to see this reflected in the literature they read. They need to know it’s not just them needing to make new friends. They are not the only ones who are trying (and not always succeeding at) new things.

I’ve been switching back and forth between two Advance Copies of upcoming books that I think address this need in very different ways. The first is Always Abigail by Nancy J. Cavanaugh. Abigail has two best friends from elementary school, and the three of them are tight friends. They plan to take their middle school years by storm and become members of the prestigious pom pom squad. However, Abigail’s besties Alli and Cami end up in the same homeroom, while Abigail is stuck in another. They also make the pom pom squad, and Abigail does not.
I have to say, initially I was struck but how unlikable Abigail is. She’s consumed by the idea of being a part of her threesome of best friends and by being POPULAR. Nothing else seems to matter, including the feelings of other students who might stand in the way of her achieving her goals. Conversely, I think these are issues that a lot of middle grade students struggle with, and they will easily feel a kinship with Abigail. I’m excited to finish reading it.

The second book is Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. Callum Hunt has spent his life knowing two things – magic is dangerous and best left alone, and he is essentially crippled by an accident that shattered the bones of one of his legs as a child. Call’s father has continually warned him about the dangers of the Magisterium, a training school for teens with magical abilities. It’s been described as a place where teacher treat students’ lives as something to be toyed with, where danger waits around every corner, where nothing good can happen. Similarly, however, this seems to have been Call’s experience of life in the regular world up to the beginning of the book. He is somewhat of an outcast, both due to his physical limitations and his personality. When he does his best to fail at the “Iron Trial” which determines the students who will be trained at the Magisterium, he fails horribly, ensuring that he is one of the first candidates chosen. On the bus ride there, he is confused by the other students’ enthusiasm over being chosen. Haven’t they heard that they will be lucky to live out the year? Everything Call has learned about the Magisterium is challenged, as is quite a bit of what he ‘knows’ about himself.

Both of these titles represent the great challenges faced by middle school students, and they do it in equally good, if considerably different ways. I’m looking forward to introducing both of thm to my students this year.

TPiB: Shark Week!

On Wednesday evening, the gloriousness known as Sharknado 2 will be airing on SyFy. And should that not be your cup of tea, Shark Week is coming up soon on Discovery Channel. Basically, it’s that time of the year where it’s not safe to go into the water. Personally, I am a huge fan of sharks. Yes, I really have seen almost every one of those terrifically cheesy shark movies on SyFy. The ones with Debbie – excuse me, Deborah – Gibson. The ones withe Urkel. But not the one where they make fun of Jersey Shore, I tried to watch it but it was too terrible for even me. They even have one with a giant robot shark! That’s a great program idea right there. Well, not giant size, but making robot sharks. So as a shark lover, I give to you some collected program ideas to celebrate Sharknado 2 – or Shark Week for those of you who liked to go a little more high brow. Me, I can’t wait for them both!

Shark Jawbone Paracord Bracelet

This is not actually made with shark jawbones, in case that needs to be said. But here you can make a paracord bracelet, which is cool, that has shark in the name.

Fish Prints

Gyotaku is the Japenese art of fish printing. Sharks eat fish, plus these are cool, so I think they work. The Mr. was an art major at college and I have been to an event where they did this and it was fun. They used real fish, but you can buy kits that use plastic fish which you may want to purchase if you have an aversion to leaking fish guts, which some people do. You basically need something to print on, say a blank t-shirt. You need the fish, real or not, and you need printing ink – the ink used in printmaking, though I guess you could use paint if you would like – paint rollers, pans to pour the ink into, tablecloths, etc. You ink, or paint the fish, and slap it down on your t-shirt to transfer it. Then you get a glorious fish print. Click on the Fish Prints heading above for better directions.

Under Sea Aquariums

There are a lot of ways you can create some type of an undersea aquariums. If you have a blank wall to decorate, you could have your tweens and teens create one here AND decorate your library, it’s what we call win/win. You could use simple things like butcher paper, craft paper, pipe cleaners, beads, etc. Have them do this in your children’s area, put out a display of both fish AND back to school books and put together some punny saying about going back to SCHOOL. Because, you know, fish groups are called a school of fish.

Or you do an upcycle craft using baby food jars or empty water bottles to make little aquarium. You can buy plastic sharks in bulk to make this happen. Instructions can be found here: http://blog.chickabug.com/2012/03/how-to-make-under-the-sea-snow-globe-aquariums.html.

Shark Origami

I think the title kind of says it all. Click the link for instructions.

Crayon Resist Whale Shark

 I’ve always liked crayon resist painting. And, there’s science involved! I admit this is definitely for say the Tween set more so than your teens, but if you have stations and an awesome shark movie playing in the background – may I suggest Jaws? It’s covered under Movie Licensing USA – they may enjoy it.

Clothespin Shark

Yes, again, this one seems youngish. It was very hard to find older shark themed craft ideas. BUT, it’s back to school time and smack some magnets onto these bad boys and you could make a cool Sharknado themed locker. Don’t forget to add some blood!

Shark themed party outline at SheKnows
40 plus Shark Week activities at A Day in Our Shows

This site has 40 Shark Week crafts including making a cool shark themed watermelon, papercrafts and more.

And here is a cool shark themed manicure.

And here is a YouTube tutorial on how to build a Lego Shark

Basically, my thoughts are this:

  • Do a book display
  • Have Jaws playing in the background
  • Have food – it can be something simple like gummy fish/sharks or something elaborate like the watermelon shark
  • Have a few craft stations set up
  • Get out your smart phone and make Vine video of tweens & teens trying to do the dun dun, dun dun, dun dun dun dun theme music from Jaws. Or reciting some of its most famous lines: “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”
  • If you really want to get fancy, set up a photo booth station with shark fins and other fun beach items

Sunday Reflections: In Defense of No

One of my first jobs as a teenager involved working at a high end department store unique to Southern California, sort of a local Macy’s. One day a woman stood in front of my co-worker trying to return a pair of jeans without a receipt. The problem is, these jeans were a brand of jeans that we didn’t sell. In fact, they were the the name brand product line of Kmart; it was impossible to buy them anywhere but Kmart. So my friend told her she was sorry, but we couldn’t return those jeans because they were not in fact ours. This woman then proceeded to throw a verbal, hostile tantrum similar to those thrown by my 2-year-old. It wasn’t pretty, and more importantly – it wasn’t nice.

You can guess what happened next. The store manager came out and apologized for the store clerk and proceeded to return a pair of jeans that were then thrown in the trash because there was nothing we could do with them. In effect, this woman had now stolen basically $50.00 from our store, all under the guise of good customer service.

Somewhere along the line we developed the mantra that “the customer is always right”. But the truth is, they aren’t. And today I am going to make the controversial claim that sometimes, it’s okay to tell our library patrons no. This is controversial because I have seen time and time again that in order to provide good customer service, we should always say yes. We’re only a library some will claim, a dangerous thought in itself because if we devalue ourselves, why do we expect our patrons to value us. The truth is, sometimes saying no is in fact the right answer.

Let’s start with a basic premise: Library policy and procedures are good for a variety of reasons including:

1) Through analysis and discussion, library personnel develop a framework of policies and procedures that help ensure that a library system can meet the greatest number of needs for the greatest number of people in the most equitable way possible. They are a way of managing shared resources for a diverse community.

2) Library policies and procedures help staff to know and understand not only what behaviors are expected of them, but how to respond to various situations while working with the public in a way that promotes equal access to the library’s resources. They provide library staff with guidance by outlining expected behaviors.

3) Library policies and procedures helps patrons understand their responsibilities and the expectations of the library to further help make sure we can provide the highest quality of service to the greatest number of people. They help patrons understand what is expected of them to ensure that they can use these shared resources while also making sure that their fellow citizens can also use the same managed resources.

A basic scenario: Library A has put together a policy in which they state that overdue DVDs will accrue a fine of $1.00 a day for every day that a DVD is returned past its due date. So one day, when the patron comes up to check out, they are informed that they have $10.00 in fines for a DVD returned over due. The patron pays the fine, checks out, and goes about their daily task.

Later, another patron comes up to check out and learns that they also have a $10.00 fine for over due DVDs. The difference is, this time the patron gets angry. They start yelling at staff, they demand to speak to a manager, etc. The manager looks at the patron record and sees there is a note where staff state that just three months ago, the same scenario happened. So this argument the patron has made that they weren’t told about the due date or the fines and fees is all bluster, we have a record that indicates that they are familiar with the library’s fines and fees structure. But because the patron insists, the manager waives the fines and the patron checks out.

So patron A pays the fines and patron B gets off the hook for the fines.

This, I think, causes several problems:

1. The staff feels unsupported and, more importantly, confused about what their expectations are. They begin to fear enforcing the policies because they know they won’t be backed up. But they also fear not enforcing the policies, because they fear getting in trouble. They are now in a situation where they are unsure of what the correct course of action will be with each patron interaction.

2. The library has now treated patrons in very unequal ways. Some patrons are being made to pay fines while others are not. This is especially problematic when it becomes arbitrary as this can lead to scenarios of preferential treatment among some types of patrons and discrimination against others.

3. In addition, we have now reinforced this behavior in our patron and they have learned that if they are loud enough, if they are difficult enough, they can manipulate the staff to get their way. In fact, we have also just condoned the abuse and harassment of a staff member and a fellow citizen. There is a good chance when they want to get their way in future library transactions, they will resort much more quickly to engaging in aggressive behavior to try and force the library to suspend the rules for them.

And I use fines as an example, there are many more to choose from.

I recently read a discussion from someone who was upset because they went into the library right before closing with no library card and no photo identification to pick up a hold. Their hold was going to expire that day. They were very mad because the staff wouldn’t take their word that they were who they said they were and they went home empty handed. They were mad because the library asked for confirmation that the person standing before them verify their identity before handing materials held under a specific name for them.

Before I was married, I was Karen Maidenname. While I was in high school, my dad got remarried to a woman named Karen, so now she also was Karen Maidenname. In what I can only say is an incredible coincidence, our birthday was on the same day in the same month, though obviously several years apart. This woman was a mean, manipulative, dishonest woman. I lived through my early twenties fearing that she would one day walk in and wipe out my very unsubstantial bank account.

Years later, as I worked at the public library, I interacted with all kinds of people. People who were trying to find ways to escape abusive and controlling partners. People who were fighting family members who were trying to steal their money. People who were being stalked, people who were being threatened, people who were trying to deal with personal matters quietly and discreetly. And this is why patron confidentiality is so very important. This is why it matters that library staff know you are who you say you are. This is why we insist – and we should in fact insist – that patrons verify they are who they say they are before discussing any information about a patron, including handing them books put on hold. You don’t want to accidentally give personal information to the wrong person and put another in any type of jeopardy.

And the flip side to this is that when we are dealing with public libraries, it is easy for the public to forget that there are financial costs involved. I have seen patrons with fees upwards of $500.00. You really want us to make sure that the person standing before us is who they say they are because there are monetary costs attached to your library card.

Sometimes a no is about protecting patron privacy. Sometimes a no is about protecting the pocket books of our patrons. Sometimes a no is about making sure we are treating all of our patrons in the same, consistent manner.

We live in a world full of many, many people. Over 7 billion that last time I heard. Rules help us function; they help make sure that your rights and wishes don’t trample over your neighbors and their rights and wishes don’t trample over yours. And I’m not saying there are no bad rules. If you find that your library staff is repeatedly being asked to bend or ignore a rule, then it is time to re-examine that rule and whether or not it is the best model for serving the library and your community. There are, for example, many libraries that operate without charging overdue fines and if you find that you don’t really feel the need to enforce these rules, then dropping them seems like the best alternative.

We live in a world with mottos like “your way, right away” and “the customer is always right”. But the truth is, sometimes no is in fact the right answer. Sometimes no is the best answer because it means that you are treating all your patrons consistently and fairly, because you are protecting your patron’s privacy, and because you are protecting your community’s investment in your library by protecting your materials and resources. Sometimes, in fact, no can be the best patron service.

Friday Finds – July 25, 2014

This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Not All Educations are Created Equal
This is What Happened When The Tween Read EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS by A. S. King
Middle Grade Monday – How Much is Too Much?
TPiB: Brushbots
TPiB: Bristlebots, take II (or what happens when you give teens space to be creative)
Cover Reveal: The Undead – Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore
Caller 107 by Matthew Cox
A Couple of #SVYALit Links of Note on the Topic of Slut Shaming
Unconventional Book Discussion Groups: Using technology to take our book discussions outside the library
Around the Web

Free resources for teaching kids to code!

How will Kindle Unlimited affect indie authors?

Cool stuff to do with your iPhone.

PBS’s Frontline has an interactive map of trends in childhood homelessness.

Karen had an article – in SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL!
Shockingly, higher minimum wage is good for the economy.  Duh.

This is what happened when I tried to use Loom Magic books in a program, a Tween’s perspective

On Tuesday we had another Makerspace program, this time we busted out our Rainbow Loom books (seen above). I saw them recently in a journal and since I have a RL component to my Makerspace, buying them just made sense. Besides, I like books. And I like people checking out books. Books in a library are good. But this is what happened when we tried to use them . . .

This time, I brought The Tween to work with me because she is an expert Loomer at this point and she is has been coming to library programs since she was in diapers. This turned out to be a great idea because she set up the RL station for me. As you can tell, she does not get any librarian organization tendencies from me. Nope, none. And of course you should organize your Rainbow Loom bands into a rainbow – it’s right there in the title!

So then she decided to sit down and try making one of the creatures from one of the new books. Keep in mind that she has made many charms and creatures before, including a lovely snake with pony beads for eyes that she made The Mr. for Father’s Day. You know you’re jealous. She usually does this following YouTube tutorials, this is the first time she has tried to do a RL project using a book.

This time, she decided she would try making an alien for her lovely mother. I do love aliens. So she laid out all of her supplies and followed step one. And after following the instructions in step one the picture did not look the way it did in the picture that was labelled step one. She consulted me and as far as I can tell she had followed the instructions correctly. She stripped the Loom and started over again. Same results.  We tried three times and she abandoned this project. With half of her time spent and her frustration level high, she decided just to be social and do a simple fishtail bracelet. For the record, the only thing I can do is a fishtail bracelet. Go me!

At another table, another tween – again, an experienced loomer – also tried to use the books. She quickly abandoned her project.

A new loomer started making a complicated ghost, and at first she was very happy with the books. Soon, however, she called for reinforcements. Four of us gathered around trying to decipher the instructions and finish this ghost. When we went to remove it from the loom, it fell apart. So this once enthusiastic book user decided that she also found following the book instructions difficult and confusing.

In the end, we busted out the library devices and just decided to use YouTube tutorials.

I have mixed feelings about the books. I know that a lot of kids don’t have access to devices or the Internet at home so it’s nice for them to have the books to check out. At the same time, we didn’t have the best of luck using them – and again, I was working with some experienced Loomers.

The Tween’s final verdict is this: “They were not as useful as I hoped they would be. The steps were confusing and it was frustrating to try and follow them. I’ll just stick to YouTube.”

I would love to hear other people’s experience with trying the projects in one of these titles. Please share in the comments.