Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: The Dog Days of Summer, by Cindy Shutts

One of my favorite events that my Library district, White Oak Library District, puts on is Dog Days of Summer.  It is hosted at our Crest Hill Branch. It is an annual celebration of all things dogs.  We have many pet rescues come and bring their animals to show off. We are so lucky to have seen animals who were adopted one year come back with their pet parents the next year. We are so excited to be back at this year after having to cancel due to the pandemic in 2020. What is great about this program is must of it takes outside.  This event takes place on August 28, 2021 starting at 10:00am. So if you are in the Illinois area please Join us!

I am having our Crest Hill Branch Manager, Amy Byrne here to answer some questions about Dog Days of Summer. She came up with the idea.

How did you come up with the idea for Dog Days?

I can’t claim full credit for our Dog Days of Summer event; I expanded on an idea a colleague at our Lockport Branch had. Since moving to the south Chicago suburbs in 2010, I noticed that there are A LOT of rescues in the area, particularly dog rescues that are home-based foster organizations without one physical location. The Crest Branch Library has a large outdoor space that’s perfect for outdoor gatherings, and it’s a perfect way to bring dogs to the library.

How do you prepare for Dog Days?

There’s a lot of preparation with many moving parts! This year, I started in March by talking with the store manager of PetSmart in Joliet to see if they were interested in being a partner in the event, and in what way PetSmart would be able to partner. As in past years, they’re donating 200 reusable PetSmart shopping totes with goodies inside.

Next, I emailed hundreds of rescues, veterinarians, clinics, small business retailers, services, nationally-known dog brands, etc. to announce the event and secure their space at the event. At this same time, I contacted Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s office to invite him and his League of Extraordinary Canines to open the day, and Deacon Kevin O’Donnell to offer pet blessings to those who want them – both said yes.

Because this is such a large-scale event, representatives for each of our three Branches are Pack Leaders for the different aspects of the event. The Pack Leaders choose staff to work on their committees to generate ideas, and get all of the work amongst their Pack finished. We have monthly Zoom meetings with the Pack Leaders from March through July, and then weekly Zoom meetings leading up to the event, with an in-person final meeting the week of Dog Days of Summer.

What types of rescues and other animal resources come to Dog Day?

All kinds! We have dog rescues that rescue all kinds of animals, some that only rescue dogs, some rescues that focus on a particular breed, size, or age. Additionally, veterinary clinics, specialty services like canine massage, service dogs, comfort dogs, foundations, trainers, and more. You can see who’s coming at http://whiteoaklibrary.org/Dog-Days-of-Summer

Charm, a good boy

What type of activities do you have for dogs that come to Dog Days?

This year, we’ll have an expanded and fun agility course, customizable bandanas you can decorate for your dog, and a yogurt bar with dog-safe toppings. Additionally, there are a series of contests for dogs and their humans, like peanut butter licking competitions, costume contests, and trick contests. We’re also offering a photo booth with fun props for dogs and humans, and you’ll be able to either take your own photos, or buy a print.

What type of activities do you have for the people who come to Dog Day?

In addition to all of the activities above, there will be demonstrations on canine massage, CPR, etiquette for approaching dogs, the dangers of puppy mills, and how hearing assist dogs change the lives of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There are also raffles with great items that are donated by brands like Earth Rated, Kong, and FURminator (Spectrum Brands). This year, tickets will be $0.25 each, or five for $1.00, and at the end of the event, we’ll draw the name of one rescue that’s in attendance to receive the money from the raffles.

New this year is a dog food and supply drive that will benefit Wet Nose Food Pantry. Anyone can drop off items, including gift cards, cash, or checks, to any of the three White Oak Library District Branches through August 31st.

For more pet centered programming, check out this previous TLT post:

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

Book Review: Pointe, Claw by Amber J. Keyser

Publisher’s description

pointe-clawJessie Vale dances in an elite ballet program. She has to be perfect to land a spot with the professional company. When Jessie is cast in an animalistic avant-garde production, her careful composure cracks wide open. Nothing has felt more dangerous.

Meanwhile, her friend Dawn McCormick’s world is full of holes. She wakes in strange places, bruised, battered, and unable to speak. The doctors are out of ideas.

These childhood friends are both running out of time. Jessie has one shot at her ballet dream. Dawn’s blackouts are getting worse. At every turn, they crash into the many ways girls are watched, judged, used, and discarded. Should they play it safe or go feral?



Amanda’s thoughts

Take my advice on this, please: read Carrie Mesrobian’s Just a Girl, Elana Arnold’s What Girls Are Made Of, and Amber Keyser’s Pointe, Claw all in a row just like I did. Especially taken together like this, they build a powerful examination of girlhood.


Amber and I are agency-mates and here is something from her bio there: “Amber is a former ballerina with a masters degree in zoology and a doctorate in genetics; she lives in Portland, Oregon.” I tell you this to say that really only Amber could have written this unique and very weird (I mean that in the best way) book. Pointe, Claw takes place in Portland and involves a ballerina and a girl, a bear, and lots of genetic questions. The cover made me extremely curious about the book, but I had NO IDEA what I was in for.


When we first meet Dawn, she is in some kind of rage. She seems feral (I word I wrote in my notes after reading the second page and that I now see is used in the description–really, there’s no other way to think of Dawn). She talks about “going dark,” about waking up not knowing where she’s been or how she got there or what on earth is going on with her. She is drawn to a bear that a sketchy neighbor keeps locked up in a cage on his property. Her cold and unsympathetic mother drags her to doctor after doctor, trying to figure out what is wrong with Dawn and how to “fix” her. Is it mental illness? Lyme disease? Drugs? What’s behind Dawn’s strange episodes?


Jessie, meanwhile, dances six hours a day, six days a week, and is about to learn to be feral in ways that will disturb, challenge, and ultimately change her. At first devastated to not be chosen to dance in the artistic director’s student showcase piece, she learns to embrace the freedom and wildness that comes from dancing in Vadim’s boundary-pushing piece. The dance is animalistic and “ugly, lustful, lonely,” opening Jessie to a side of herself she’s never considered before.


Once Jessie and Dawn’s lives intersect again (they were childhood friends), things become even more interesting. Together they will reminisce about their past and recover memories that felt long gone, as well as uncover secrets and truths. Dawn’s episodes increase and she begins to suspect what may be going on with her, as impossible as her theory seems. And while Jessie doesn’t fully understand what exactly is happening to Dawn, she’s there for her, understanding that no one has ever meant what Dawn has meant to her. 


This is absolutely 100% a book about what it means to inhabit a girl’s body. It’s a book about growing up, changing, seeing ourselves, and being seen. It’s about expectations, anger, jealousy, relationships, shame, love, friendship, and support. There is a constant conversation about women and women’s bodies–Jessie, her fellow dancers, Dawn, Dawn’s makeup-selling mother, the girls at the strip club, the men who observe all of them… there is SO MUCH to unpack and think about. Much like Vadim’s dance (which, by the way, I was left sobbing after the description of their performance), this book is experimental and risky. And, like his dance, it is successful and surprising. The metamorphosis each girl undergoes is powerful; Dawn’s is downright shocking. I can’t say enough good things about this strange, disturbing, and extremely compelling look at girlhood, bodies, and identities. Raw, weird, and wonderful. 


Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9781467775915

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group

Publication date: 04/01/2017