Top 5: Newbery winners

Top 5: Newbery winners

Hello there!

I want to start making some quick top five lists and thought I’d start with Newbery winners since they are on my mind!

We started Nerdbery this week at school, which is where the school tries to work together and read all of the Newbery winners going back 50 years.  I am excited because the kids are exited!  Half of the books are already checked out.  Here are my favorites:


One of the many reasons why I love doing this challenge is that it forces me to go outside of my reading bubble and try something new.  I have been on the record many times saying that I have a heart of stone when it comes to books about animals.  I have never really been into them, but Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and The One and Only Ivan are two books that made me change my tune and I would have never read them without this challenge!

From the Mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The Westing Game are both classics that I have loved since childhood.  Probably because of the smart and young heroines!

The Crossover is my newest fave.  Kwame Alexander is an artist and his debut novel is perfection.  It has gotten so many kids through the library doors excited about books and reading because of this book and for that, I give him all of the awards!


dinner with the Romagnoli’s

dinner with the Romagnoli’s


T and I have a summer project that I have been excited about getting started all year.  He taught a class on the history of food at the high school and, to help prepare, we stopped by the cookbook section at the main library downtown.  There are over 120 shelves of cookbooks at the main library and we thought it would be fun to randomly pick a cookbook each week and try out a new recipe during the summer.


This week brought us to 641.692 also known as the seafood cookbook section.  Perfect timing for us because of all the leftover shrimp that we still had from the other night! So we looked through most of the books on the shelf and picked one:


The Romagnolis’ Italian Fish Cookbook was published in 1994 and written by Franco and Margaret Romagnoli, a couple that had a PBS cooking show from 1973 to 1975 called The Romagnoli’s Table. Sadly, I could not find any clips of this show on YouTube! But there were a lot of great articles about the Romagnoli family.  A lot of great information about how they were inspired by the success of Julia Child’s show and how Franco Romagnoli, then a camera man at WGBH in Boston pitched the idea to people at a dinner party at his house.  The show was an inspiration for many Italian chefs to come, including one of my favorites, Lidia Bastianich.

Okay so back to our dinner!  It is hard to ignore pasta when you are making Italian food, so we went with a recipe for scallops and shrimp (all that shrimp!) with penne pasta.  I am also using the project to start to learn how to cook, so I took care of the scallops, nbd.  We also put peas in instead of capers and red pepper flakes instead of hot sauce.



BKLST: Newbery

BKLST: Newbery

The Newbery award came out this week and the winner was a book called The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.  I had not heard of it before it won (I know, bad librarian!) but I did order it before the award went out so I feel like I am still ahead of the game.  drank

In honor of the Newbery award, here are some of my favorite past winners:

1. From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1968)

This is one of the books that made me want to become a librarian as a kid.  The idea being that if I was a librarian I wouldn’t have to wait in line to get my hands on this book! This, by the way, still holds true as I am the first person at the school who gets to read the most recent winner! The book made me want to run away to an art museum and live off of change that I found in a fountain at night.  It is also my favorite adventure book, something I wasn’t into before because most adventure books take place in the great outdoors!  Finally an adventure book for the indoor kids!

2. Bridge to Terabithia (1978)

I read this in the sixth grade and had never felt the devastation that I felt after reading about the fate of Leslie.  Yikes!  My feelings are summed up in this moment from The New Girl:


3. The One and Only Ivan (2013)

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book because I am usually not that into books about animals. But the story of a gorilla raising a baby elephant really pulled on my heartstrings and tear up at several points!  The fact that it is based on a true story got me too!

4. The Crossover (2015)

This book is a crowd pleaser!  It is a novel in verse about twins who play basketball and have a falling out because of a girl. I mean, that is a very simplistic summary of a book that talks about family, loss, basketball and friendship.  This is the book that I give to every reluctant reader that crosses my path and almost everyone loves it.


Reading Challenge

Reading Challenge


I started a reading challenge at school where students get a prize and entry into an “exclusive club” when they read a fiction series with three or more books.  I thought this accomplishment (easy for some, way harder for others) was worthy of a special prize so I made a logo for the club (Journeyperson Challenge Champions!) using Makr app (7 bucks for a cool logo that you can use anywhere) and made buttons with the help of my coworker/friend/maker space guru, Emily!  So fun!  This picture has two of my favorite non-Hunger Games-esque series: Chasing Vermeer is the first in Blue Balliett’s mystery series that mixes heists, math, art and friendship and Chains is the first in Laurie Halse Anderson’s historical fiction series about sisters who are sold into slavery to a family in New York City at the dawn of the Revolutionary War and become spies for the patriots.

So far I have 5 students who have finished a series and more that are working on it!  I am reading the Harry Potter series for the first time.  Kids are both surprised that I never read it and  jealous that I get to read it for the first time!

Library Lesson: Evaluating Websites

Library Lesson: Evaluating Websites

I have started a new routine with my Middle School classes, the first two weeks will usually have a demo, either a research demo or something interesting on the web.  We tackled evaluating websites last week! Hi there!  Here is a Google Slide that I have been using to explain how to evaluate websites!

This demo was based on the “CRAAP” test, which I shortened and switched the letters to make the “CARP” test.  I know, I know, I just didn’t need to deal with the giggles!  I even make a fun bookmark, feel free to print out and use at home!



Around the library

Around the library


I thought I would show you parts of my library from time to time.  I’m starting with a newly sorted “Step into Reading” (SIR) section.  Here you’ll find books for beginning readers. The books go from having just a few sight words on a page to whole chapters and last year, they were shelved in one big chunk.  This was problematic for a few reasons.  First, the books are so thin that they are difficult to shelve and find. Since the books were in order by author instead of level, it was tough for kids to find a book that matched their reading level.

So I decided it would be easier for everyone, the readers and the volunteers, if I grouped the books by reading level.  I ordered some durable bins from Scholastic (using book fair funds) and spent some time sorting the books.  Some things I ran into:

  • How do you know the level of the books?  You would think this would be easy because most beginning reader books have a number on their cover and spine.  Unfortunately, different publishers have different criteria when it comes to what is a level 1 book and level 2 book and so on.  So, in the end, I decided that the best way to sort the books would be to look at how many words are on a page of each book, the complexity of the language is taken in account as well, and sort them with similar titles.  This takes awhile but a benefit is that you will have a better knowledge of what is in your collection.  I ended up with levels 1-4 plus a bin of Non-Fiction (all levels), 2 bins of beginning chapter books, and a bin just for Cynthia Rylant (she is prolific!)
  • How will your volunteers know where to put the books?  I ordered boxes of colored stickers that would match the bins.  Every book has a sticker on it so my volunteers can just drop the book in the right bin and consider that book shelved.
  • Since the books are just dumped in bins, how are you going to be able to find a certain title? The thing about beginning reader books is that kids are not usually looking for a book by a particular author (unless that author is Mo Willems) so having the SIR books in order by author wasn’t very helpful in the first place. Beginning readers are a real big “judge a book by its cover” crowd so it makes more sense for the books to face out so that those beautiful covers can be judged!  I did add which bin the book is in on the catalog to help narrow a search for a certain book.

So there you have it!  This is the first of a few changes that I made of the summer.  My prediction is that it will make it much easier to find right fit books which will (hopefully) lead to more circulation of an often overlooked collection!

DC Day 2: Museums and Mother Ships

DC Day 2: Museums and Mother Ships

Once you get to DC, your days can be pretty cheap because there are 17 free museums in the city.  And these are museums that you can get lost in for days.  We picked two: the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

That National Gallery of Art is big big big! We got there at the end of the first day actually.  We waited around to take the tour but the tour guide had such a quiet voice that we slipped out and hung out with the 17th century Dutch art for awhile.  There were so many paintings that you see in art books there that it is like spotting celebrities.  I hit a wall when we got to the French Impressionists which was too bad.  We made promises that we’d go back the next day but, alas.  Too much to see!

Frommer’s gave us a good tip.  The National Portrait Gallery is open “late” as far as museums go.  While most close at around 5, this one is open till seven, so you can save it for last and not worry about being rushed.  Two of my favorites were a painting of Toni Morrison that was so realistic I could have sworn it was a photograph, and the iconic painting of the four female Supreme Court Justices, both current and retired.  And speaking of SCOTUS:


We went there!!  Some highlights: the movie you can watch about the Supreme Court.  All of the portraits of former justices, AND RUNNING INTO JUSTICE KAGAN!! We were walking up the stairs, we took a wrong turn and there she was with her clerks.  She looked over, and Trent and I froze with out mouths open and then she smiled and kept it moving.  Which was probably the right choice.  Trent beat me to the FB announcement:


Screenshot 2016-07-02 at 6.53.00 PM

We also visited my mothership, the Library of Congress.


I. Just Can’t.  First of all, the LOC is the most beautiful building I’ve even been in.  Inside and out, it was breathtaking:

Trust, I took a TON of pictures and Trent took a lot too (which were way better and I am using them here!).  Best believe there will be some power points created for my middle school classes, they are going to love it!