Thursday, August 31, 2006

I just had a great librarian moment. I was able to suggest some books to someone who LOVES Kate DiCamillo. It is a problem when you find an author whose works you like immensely. Those authors can never write fast enough to please the rest of us. Whenever I finish a book in a series I enjoy, I have a few days withdrawal and every book I pick up is NOT the right book.

I'm there right now. I want to read something fun, but with a little meat on its bones - no fluffy chick lit, or series mystery, right now. That's summer reading - for when I'm too frazzled to concentrate. I'm not sure I want fantasy. Maybe a complex mystery would suit. Everything I pick up is NOT the right title.

There is a cool database which is available to Pennsylvania library card holders called Novelist (There's a Novelist K-8, too). When you enter your favorite book's title, right under the entry that comes up is a button that says "Find similar books" or something like that. Then you just have to check off some themes that appeal to you and voila! a list of possible suspects appears. This database may be available to people in other states but in PA, you can get to Novelist through your library's website and PowerLibrary. So when you are searching for a good read similar to your last good read, Novelist and Novelist K-8 are both good sites to look at.

What have I read recently? Well, we're on a Meg Cabot kick this summer so I picked up her new 20-something novel "Size 12 is Not Fat". You got that right, Meg! It's a mystery and it is the first of three, so far. Heather (Last name forgotten) left school in her teens to be a pop singer and was successful to a degree until she wanted to write her own songs. Now she's the assistant residential director in a "residence hall" (college dorm) in New York City. Her ex-fiance is a still successful pop singer who did NOT demand to write his own songs. He shows up a couple of times in this book. And her landlord (she doesn't get to live in the residence hall) is her ex-fiance's big brother, who lets her live rent-free because Heather does his billing. He's a PI and he's hunky. Anyway, if Heather keeps the job for six months, she can take classes tuition free. This is her new plan for survival.

When a girl with no enemies or serious problems is found dead at the bottom of the residence hall elevator shaft, Heather begins to wonder - but when another shy freshman is also found dead (same elevator shaft), she thinks she has a killer in her dorm. Her landlord, Cooper, has to save her butt a couple of times and her ex shows up at inopportune moments. He is such a - what's a polite word for jerk that also insinuates that he's a wimp and a...well, he's that.

I also read "The Tale of Holly How" by Susan Wittig Albert. This is a mystery for adults but it has all these talking animals in it so that was a little weird. I enjoyed it though. One of the main adult characters is Beatrix Potter. Albert has a series of mysteries starring Potter (Beatrix) and since Potter was famous for anthropomorphizing the fauna of England's Cotswalds (or is it the Lake District, I forget) I guess talking animals are not out of place. Nice sense of place.

And I have been reading my brother's book - a self-help book - on how to be happy. It's good. I hope he finds a publisher. Then I will write about it here and everybody else can be happy, too.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and a friend has already challenged me to sign up for the event. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I have trouble writing 500 words in a week. But I just might do it this year. The website for this event is if any of you want to try it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The summer is drawing to a close. I know, for a lot of people, that is a sad thing but for Children's Library people - all over the country - there is a lightness of being. "Ahhh", Children's Library people are saying to themselves very quietly, "at long last, summer is almost over". So they are smiling more widely and they are even more ebullient than usual.
I, too, am smiling more widely these days - between the yawns.
I must report that the Black Rose Teen Tellers and I are winding up an excellent week of games, stories and fun for 14 lucky storytelling kids. Tomorrow we will run a full day of practice, more games, some interviews, and more games and then at noon, Moms, Dads and siblings will join us for a performance - which will include some of our favorite games! So very, very cool. I have the very best teen tellers in the entire world bar NONE!
Still, I must admit I relish some time without the excitement of a storytelling workshop. So tomorrow afternoon around 2 p.m. I will be able to relax for the weekend.
Next week, we have our Final Party on August 17 and our Final Teen event on Friday, the 18th - at 5:30 p.m. (which is not our Annual Volunteer Pizza Party - that's in early September). And then Summer Reading Club is all over except for the stats.

Okay, book time! Daniel Pinkwater is trying something new. He is posting the uncorrected, unedited manuscript of his new book "The Neddiad" online at I hope I didn't type that in twice or anything.

Since only the first two chapters are up now, I can't really tell where Pinkwater is going with this story. The main character's father moves the whole family from Chicago to Los Angeles because Ned, the main character, read a story about the Brown Derby restaurant in a magazine and wanted to go there. Interesting motivation for a cross country (almost) move. The story takes place in the late forties (or thereabouts). Pinkwater's books are always surprising so this is worth a look. The entire book will be online eventually, although by the time the book is published in April, the online book won't be finished. The publisher - Houghton Mifflin Children's books - is hoping that everyone will run out to buy the book. I will buy it for the library, that's for sure. I am a Daniel Pinkwater fan.

I have been reading a lot of books on teaching storytelling lately so I have nothing else to report. I have also spent way too much time visiting Brawny Academy and watching the extremely good-natured participants run the obstacles that Brawny Man sets for them. Check that out at . It's particularly funny for people who have brothers, long term boyfriends or husbands. I think guys will like it, too, because the whole thing is done in a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek sort of way. One of the obstacles looked interesting for our Ren Faire this October.

Enough! I have work to do and I must leave soon. Read please and let me know what you are reading!