Monthly Archives: February 2011

Biographies for Fourth Graders

One of my first outreach visits this year was to a fourth grade class in the school right up the hill from where I work. The teacher requested I talk about biographies, so that the class would be ready to do their book report. I was already familiar with this assignment, as every winter we are deluged with 3/4 grade students who need to read a biography. They usually end up with a dry bio of Abraham Lincoln, or a 10 year old biography of Britney Spears (I exaggerate, I TOTALLY weeded that one out). So I found some fun bios to share with them. Here are a few highlights:

I opened reading a passage from Bad News for Outlaws Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal (Exceptional Social Studies Titles for Intermediate Grades) Which depicts the gun fight between Bass Reeves and a fugitive, and leaves the audience wanting more. We talked about how many people have lived that we’ve never heard of, and how we can read biographies to find out about new people or new things about people we already know.

Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry Biography of a legend.

Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean A Graphic Novel Biography.

Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country) Another perspective on an old standard.

And the best of the best, this is the book that I had to rip out of the hands of a crowd of excited boys: Knucklehead, more of a humorous memoir, but very well received. Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka


Doggie Dental Health

Oscar after trying to pull the fence down

February is Pet Dental Awareness month, which I sort of knew. The dental health of my pets is one of those things that I care about, but try to put out of my mind. It is like paying taxes, something I know I need to take care of and something that will never go away, but also something that is unpleasant and that I lack a lot of knowledge about. When I took Oscar for his routine physical earlier this month, the vet brought up the subject of his dental health.

I’m not an expert, but the vet emphasized that poor dental health can lead to heart and kidney problems as well as infections. Last year, Oscar had to have emergency dental surgery when he tried to pull the chain-link fence down with his teeth. He chipped a big chunk of his canine off and I was worried, but fortunately he didn’t expose the nerve and the vet said it was fine as it was. Unfortunately, Oscar needed three other teeth pulled due to crowding that had formed a second row of teeth on his bottom jaw. Since then plaque has taken up residence on his teeth with a vengeance.

Romeo, one of my favorite cats, mentioned a contest going on to promote dental health awareness, raise money for pets in need, and let people know that not all dental treats are created equally. Romeo says:

while there are tons of dental treats that claim to clean teeth, not all of them are proven to work. Fortunately, there’s an entity administered by the American Veterinary Dental College called the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Through clinical research and review, the VOHC determines which products on the market are effective to help prevent buildup of plaque and tartar. GREENIES® is one of those products.

Unfortunately for Oscar, I’ve been unable to find any dental treats with or without the seal of approval that he can eat with his food restrictions. Both of my dogs are allergic to rice and potatoes, which are almost always used as the starch in biscuit treats and are a staple in greenies. They are also allergic to beef, so no rawhides (which they don’t like to chew much anyhow).

So for my two little canines, it is tooth brushing and dental vet visits for both of them.

Outreach Overload

This year my resolution was to contact local schools and find ways to get into the class room or at least have them promote my programs there. I work in a fairly well off suburb, with probably three elementary schools within walking distance. But for the first year and a half of my time here, I had only done maybe three school visits and had two classes visit here. Mostly we have boy scouts and preschools coming for tours.

So at the first of the year I boldly sent off e-mails to the teachers in the elementary schools in the area, any e-mail I could find. I told them about our programs, and inviting them to contact me if they wanted me to visit. When I’d done this before, at a previous job, I’d received one e-mail back. This time I got at least 20 e-mails, some with thanks, but many wanting a visit, and the calls and e-mails keep coming in.

Success has meant trying to schedule visits in the meager hours of time I can escape the branch (ironically the one day that I have mostly free is the district’s early release day), but it has also meant many new programs to come up with to share. Since I didn’t really expect much of a response, I didn’t have scheduling requirements in mind. Now I’ve got to find a way to keep teachers inviting me, without having to constantly squeeze time out of a schedule stretched tight.

Any suggestions for good ways to communicate scheduling issues, while still encouraging teachers to invite us into the classroom?


Of Books and Dogs

A blog is an interesting thing, and some people say a thing of the past, but it seems like a good place to share my opinions on topics near and dear. As a librarian, books and related programming will feature prominently, as will topics connected to publishing. But I expect that the topics will hop around hither and yon to other subjects that interest me, such as my two dogs and my small efforts to help companion animals in need.