Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day @ the Ridgeview Library

Having worked with middle school students through many Valentine's Days, I know that it can be a mixed bag of emotions, moods and overall craziness.  Well...I have always said...if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  So, we are promoting books through "Blind Date with a Book".

As students come into the library, we are giving them the chance to have a #blinddatewithabook.  The books are in plain brown paper bags with a very brief introduction.  If they choose to check it out, then they must agree to give the book a chance before deciding to continue reading it or returning it.



Yesterday, we had 10 different classes in the library to check out books.  I told them about the promotion, and many of them decided to test fate and try a blind date.

Best line of the day: "I'm going to leave the book in the bag because it reminds me of lunch, and I am hungry for words."

I know that it is cheesy, but I love it.  I love it when the students feel comfortable enough to share their crazy notions.  It is rather enlightening to their senses of humor and personality.

Yes, I love working with middle school students.  I count my blessings every day!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Threads by Ami Polonsky

Clara is a twelve year old American girl whose sister, Lola, has just died from cancer.  One of Clara's friends decides to take her out shopping to get her mind off of her grief.  Clara goes with her friend, but she does not want to be there.  She is hiding from her friend when she sees a purse and buys it on a whim.  When she gets home, she looks through it and finds a note.  The note is from a Chinese girl named Yuming telling of her plight in a factory in China.  Clara feels a strong pull to do something, and she knows that she must go to China.  Will she be able to do anything?  Was there a reason that the note made it to Clara out of all of the people in America?  Find out in Threads.

This book fascinated me due to the fact that it was told in the viewpoints of Clara and Yuming.  Polonsky tells us the story of these two girls as they intersect with each other.  I guess that my favorite part was the message that we are truly not alone in the world even if we do not know all that is going on around us.  I could go into more detail about this point, but I don't want to ruin the book for you.  So...read it, and reach out to talk to me about it.  It is a definite good read.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

From the publisher:
Girls started vanishing in the fall.
For Maggie Larsen, the town of Gill Creek is only a stopgap before college and freedom. Until she meets Pauline and Liam. What starts as an uneventful year suddenly changes. Someone is killing teenage girls, and the town reels from the tragedy. As Maggie's and Pauline's worlds collide and change around them, they will both experience love and loss. And by the end of the book...

This page turner had me guessing until the end exactly what was going on in this little town.  The story revolves around the three teens mentioned above--Maggie, Pauline and Liam; however, we also get to hear from a ghost who lived in the house where Maggie has moved into.  Why is the ghost there?  How does it link to the story?  I had my guesses, but Anderson did a wonderful job of telling the story and letting me try to figure it out.  I highly recommend this one.  You will not be disappointed.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Publisher's abstract:
Thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island in the summer of 1832. But when the two families she was supposed to travel with mysteriously cancel their trips, Charlotte finds herself the lone passenger on a long sea voyage with a cruel captain and a mutinous crew. Worse yet, soon after stepping aboard the ship, she becomes enmeshed in a conflict between them! What begins as an eagerly anticipated ocean crossing turns into a harrowing journey, where Charlotte gains a villainous enemy . . . and is put on trial for murder!

This book has been around for a very long time, but somehow I had not read it.  I decided it was time to change that and read the book.  I am so thankful that I did.  This is a historical fiction pageturner. 
Charlotte is only 13 years old, but her father holds a high position in the company that owns the ship on which she is traveling.  The crew is very glad that she is on board because they need a credible witness, but a witness to what exactly she is not quite sure.  I highly recommend this novel even though the cover is less than appealing.  We definitely have to look past the cover to get to this great read.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Somebody on this bus is going to be famous by JB Cheaney

Nine people ride the same school bus every day, but they share a stronger connection than that.  They just don't know it.  By looking at each of their stories through the months of the school year, Cheaney is able to weave this together by considering each person's story in a different month.

It is May, and the school bus goes off the road during a torrential rainstorm.  The students are put to the test, and no one is sure how this will end.  We as readers know that someone will become famous from this ordeal, but who will it be?

I must admit that she had me going there until the end.  I really did not figure out who was going to be famous.

I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rogers

Kammie moved to Texas, and she does not have a circle of friends.  She has decided that she wants to be friends with three girls at school, and they inform her of an initiation.  Kammie is desperate for friends, so she agrees.  The result of the initiation is a very bad haircut and her being stuck in a well. When Kammie first falls in, Kandy, Sandy and Mandy all stare at her with contempt instead of being concerned about her being stuck in the well.  Kammie quickly realizes that the girls are not people that she wants to be friends with, but that does not change the fact that she is stuck in the well.  The girls have abandoned her, and she is not sure if anyone will be able to get her out.  She just keeps slipping further down the well...
Rogers does a good job in this book of telling Kammie's story while she is stuck in the well.  We learn quickly that Kammie has had some hard knocks, and I don't mean the ones she is getting from the well.  She has had to learn quickly that people make mistakes--sometimes really big ones.  I recommend this book, and it is a fast read.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

xSTREAM

The evolution of xSTREAM @ Ridgeview Middle School

As I considered the many articles that I read about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities and how they fit into the library, I wondered how best to incorporate this into the Ridgeview Middle School Library.  We had some activities; I asked guest speakers to come in; I hosted makerspace events.  However, nothing seemed to be exactly what we envisioned for our students.

Then, I began reading more and how A had been added to the acronym to include Art.  It went from STEM to STEAM.  Okay, that sounds interesting, we could definitely ask the art teachers to come in, and I could offer arts and crafts activities as part of makerspace.  Again, this was fun, and I had a blast with the students who came to those after school events.

But, something was missing.  I have a good friend who told me about how she incorporated reading into the mix and titled it STREAM.   At the TLA conference this spring, our keynote speaker, LeVar Burton, also mentioned this idea.  Now, we are talking.  No matter what else we do, I believe that libraries should always focus on reading.  

I left that session energized, and ready to put something in place.  But, we needed something--a brand if you will.  So, with collaborating with Mrs. Young, RMS ITS, we thought that xSTREAM had a certain ring to it.  And, we believe that x stands for extraordinary, exemplary, extra-special, etc.

We took the idea to Mr. Mutscher, and he embraced it as well.  We have already put the first xSTREAM campus wide night event on the calendar for April.  I. CANNOT. WAIT.

Throughout this school year, everyone will see this brand--xSTREAM.  Now, you know how it started.  We hope that you will be a part of the story of what it will be at Ridgeview Middle School.