Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nanny X by Madelyn Rosenberg

10 year old Alison and her 8 year brother Jake know there is something different about their new nanny, a silver-haired grandma type who shows up for the job in a motorcycle jacket and mirrored sunglasses, but it’s not until they find out that she is really a secret agent working for NAP (the Nanny Action Patrol) that things start to make sense.

In no time Ali and Jake are joining in and using Nanny X’s diaper bag full of spy gadgets (including a diaper phone and sippy-cup audio surveillance) to help save a local park and recover stolen diamonds.

Nanny X is Mary Poppins with mobile devices.

Nanny X is Spy Kids with supervision.

Nanny X is Double-Oh-Seventy (ok, maybe more like 65).

And most importantly Nanny X is a fabulously fun mystery full of humor and silly gadgets.

Read an Excerpt of Nanny X here.
Find Nanny X at your local library or bookstore after September 15th.

Be sure to check out the Nanny X book trailer:

Many thanks to Madelyn Rosenberg for answering my 5 +1 questions. 

1. Do you have any personal nanny experience, either having one or being one? 

I didn’t have a nanny when I was a kid -- I think fewer of us did in the 1970s, even when we had two parents who worked. When my brother and I were super young, we had some neighbors who looked after us. And when we were older, we mostly watched Gilligan’s Island by ourselves until our mom came home. (Though we had some great babysitters at night.)

Fast forward to where I had kids of my own in Arlington, Va. I was lucky enough to have a flexible schedule, so I got to hang out with them, but when we’d go to the park, we’d see lots of kids with babysitters, nannies and au pairs. The au pairs were all in their early 20s and exotic and beautiful, and I started thinking about someone at the other end of the spectrum (I guess I sort of felt like I, myself, was at the other end of the spectrum). I knew some people a little older than me who were looking for new jobs -- not as nannies but in other fields-- and were worried about age discrimination. And then I started thinking about spies who were over the hill (the CIA isn’t too far from me). And when I thought about the gadgets a nanny-spy would use, out popped Nanny X. It was all very quick.

2. How would you finish this sentence: Authors are like secret agents…

...because they are always eavesdropping on the people around them, even if you never see them taking notes. And because writing is dangerous.

3. Siblings Alison and Jake both tell the story of Nanny X through alternating points of view. Did you always know that the story would be told by both of them? 

I started out thinking it was going to be Ali’s point of view, but I soon realized it would be much better to have both of them, for reasons beyond hoping to appeal to both genders. With two points of view, I was able to have Jake and Ali cover more ground. I could have them in different places at the same time, and that helped move the story forward. Plus, I really wanted someone who, like me, believed in Nanny X a little more from the start. And I wanted them to be able to argue in a way where the reader could choose sides without automatically siding with a single, dominant narrator.

4.  Nanny X has lots of awesome camouflaged spy gear including a diaper phone, a special sippy-cup for audio surveillance, and a baby bib GPS. Were there any ideas for nanny-gadgets that didn’t make the final book?

Yes! Sadly, I cut the nasal aspirator.

5. How would you finish this sentence: One thing you may not know about me… 

... is that I am a really lousy driver. When I was a kid, I once took a pillar out of our porch while backing out of the garage -- though I missed hitting the garage itself. (Which, now that I think about it, may have actually been a display of skill. Maybe? Yeah, no.)


One more thing: I am fascinated by collections (both physical and virtual) that bring people joy. Is there anything you collect or watch for in the world?

Hats! I also collect Winnie the Pooh books written in the languages of countries I visit. Only I don’t travel much so my only other editions are in French and Czech.

#1 The Phantom Tollbooth (Juster) This is the book that taught me how to play with words.

#2 A Wrinkle in Time (L’Engle) Sci fi! Smart women and girls! I cannot tell you the number I’ve times I’ve read this book.

#3 The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death (Pinkwater) If you’ve ever wondered what reviewers mean when they call a book a “romp,” it’s this. The book is completely transporting. I didn’t read it until I was an adult, but I’ve read it (and listened to Pinkwater’s fabulous audio) multiple times. My kids actually act out scenes from this book; we all love it that much.

#4 All of a Kind Family (Taylor) The first book I read where there were Jewish girls like me -- even if the rest of their lives were completely different. I so wanted a petticoat!

#5 Harriet the Spy (Fitzhugh) The quintessential textbook on spying and friendship. I’m also pretty sure this is the book that made me want to grow up to become a journalist.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, John! #MrSchuBDay

John & I (and Jarrett Krosoczka's Forehead - sorry, Jarrett) at ALA this summer in Las Vegas
To celebrate the birthday of my dear friend and amazing children's literature advocate, John Schumacher (AKA Mr Schu), I am passing on an advanced copy of El Deafo by Cece Bell, a book I am so incredibly excited about, and a book he took with him on his latest road trip this summer.

John reading El Deafo in front of Mary Tyler Moore's House this past summer
Check out those awesome blurbs!

This Giveaway will run TODAY ONLY from now until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday 8/28.
You must be at least 13 to enter.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Revolution by Deborah Wiles - A Soundtrack for a Book

by Deborah Wiles

Ok, so this is not really a review.

Many folks have had great things to say about Revolution
And I agree, Revolution is truly moving and amazing. 
But I am not going to go into all of the reasons why here, because as I said, this is not really a review.
I'm just going to highlight one thing that led to my staying up quite late listening to music via youtube videos.

Revolution is set during the summer of 1964 in Mississippi during what is known as "Freedom Summer." 

One of the many things that makes Revolution so powerful is how well it immerses the reader in the setting of 1964. At different transition points during the book, primary source materials (photos, documents, quotations, etc.) are presented in bold, visually captivating layouts. 

Tying each of these "episodes" together is a song. With lyrics big and bold through that section's pages. 

To me the songs were familiar, and as I read the lyrics, they resonated in my head as I continued to read. As the story lingered with me after I finished, I found myself on youtube seeking out different versions of the songs.

And that led me to this...

(click the above link to go to a youtube playlist of the videos embedded below)

Part 1 - Encampment

Part 2 - Maneuvers

Part 3 - Engagement

For more to get you into the mindset of 1964, visit Author Deborah Wiles' pinterest board: "REVOLUTION playlist - 1964"

*Yup, I know there are more songs mentioned in the book. 
And I also know that not all of my videos are circa 1964 performers etc. I picked versions I liked. 
You are welcome to do a search for your favorites.
Also, read Revolution. It IS truly moving and amazing. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

5 Things I learned from our Top Circulated Titles

It is the time of year to look at top checkouts.

Most of the time I just look at our top 10, but this year I looked at our top 50, and I saw definite patterns with the titles in the list. 

5 things I learned from looking at our top 50 checkouts for the year:

1. My role has power. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!
Books I love and "sell" to kids regularly are top check outs.

2. Kids like graphic novels and comics. Duh.
38% of our top 50 are comics or graphic novels, 56% if you include hybrids like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Bad Kitty. I'd call that statistically significant.

3. Author visits and skypes connect kids to their books.
14 of the books in our top 50 are by an author students have connected with in person or virtually.

4. The Maud Hart Lovelace Award (our state student choice award) is truly part of the reading culture at our school.
12 of the top 50 checkouts are nominees from our state award this past year. 

5.  There is no saturation point for Garfield or Star Wars
Every year there is a certain portion of my budget that goes to support the demand of stories about a fat, orange cat and stories set long ago in a galaxy far, far away.
I'm not sure who would win in a fight, but when considered as a collection of titles (all the Garfield books or all the Star Wars books) either could easily take down the collected checkouts of the monstrously popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series. And that's saying something.

Did you notice trends with your top checkouts?
What factors made a difference in your library?

The Top 50

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday5: Guyku by Bob Raczka & Peter H. Reynolds

Today's #Friday5: Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka and Peter H. Reynolds

I love finding 5s in picture book illustrations.

I love this sweet haiku illustration at the end of the book.
Two 5s!
Of course - it's haiku! 5-7-5
It's a fitting 5-find during poetry month.

Visit the official Haiku for Guys Headquarters.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday5: 5 with AJ Smith - Author/Illustrator of Even Monsters

Happy Book Release Week to Even Monsters by AJ Smith!

Today's Friday5: 

AJ Smith, Author/Illustrator of Even Monsters, finished my 5 sentence starters for today's Friday5! 

1. Monsters make the best…. not-so-subtle metaphors for kids.

2. The funniest thing… is everyday life. And you really do have to laugh to get through it sometimes! Tina Fey, Steve Martin, Jon Stewart -- These are funny, funny talented people, but they’re still no match for the comedy gems waiting to be realized on a visit to the supermarket, ride on the subway, or trip down memory lane. It’s all in perspective and how you interpret it, I think.

3. The best part about creating picture books… is the blank page before you begin. This part of it scares a lot of people. But this is where I get really excited. There are no limitations, no rules, and no mistakes at this stage of the game. Only creativity and fun! I’m finding it’s so important for me to carry this “color outside the lines” mantra throughout the rest of the process.

4. Something not many people know about me… I’ve met and worked on projects with Selma Blair, Gary Coleman, Whoopie Goldberg, and Soleil Moon Fry. I’ve been sat on by Lili Taylor, scolded by Cheri Oteri, scowled at by Wayne Gretzky, and had Jon Stewart buy me a beer once. I’m a veritable celeb magnet -- I’d have made a great socialite, were I only trendier, richer, more charismatic, and most certainly better looking.

5. AND One more thing… Books are important. Go buy one for your kids. Read it to them. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Be sure to check out the Kids' Monster Art Contest and gallery of monster art.

My pal Matthew Winner of the Let's Get Busy Podcast interviewed AJ Smith earlier this week  - which is where I first learned how Glubb's name is really pronounced.

Hear Glubb tell you all about it himself here:

Watch AJ Smith create his characters on an I Love Libraries poster

 Love the little cooties on every page!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday5: Reading Streak - 5 Fab Middle Grade Reads

#Friday5 for March 14th: 
5 Fab Middle Grade Books

Many times when I read a great book, the next book on the TBR pile has a hard time living up.
But there have been a few times where I have experienced streak - a perfect line up of titles one after another.

I remember in early 2012 reading The Mighty Miss Malone followed by The One and Only Ivan, and then Wonder. I felt like every book I started to read was pure gold.

I have had a few of these reading streaks, and the books become connected to each other in my mind.

Rump, The Center of Everything, The Water Castle, and The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp will always be connected to each other because of another wonderful reading streak last summer when I read these titles back to back.

Over this past week I felt I have been on another fabulous middle grade novel reading streak.

Thank you to all the #nerdybookclub folks who kept saying this was one not to miss. You were right!

Magical Realism is where it's at!

Most recently I read The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia
I cannot wait to share this with students in my library.
More books like this please!

And through it all The Bud and I have been reading aloud Mouseheart by Lisa Fiedler
If you ask The Bud to describe his perfect book he would say, "animals who go on a big adventure… with some fighting." Check, check... and check. 
Mouseheart has it all. 

Do you have books you associate with other titles because of reading them back to back?