Tag Archives: netgalley

Fall Mixed Up

Fall Mixed Up Fall is just around the corner–I fervently hope so. Our fall storytime theme is actually scheduled for August, which happens ALL the time. It is quite hard to talk to kids about seasons changing when it is the hottest days of the year and before school is even back in session. I picked up the e-arc of Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka to read thinking of the upcoming season change and storytime theme, and I’m glad I did!

All of the traditional things that make up fall stories are mixed together, starting with the months and ending with the holidays. The words have a nice rhyme and rhythm, and the pictures are full of fun and whimsy. My favorite part is the beginning about the weather, such as:

Apples turn orange.
Pumpkins turn red.
Leaves float up into
blue skies overhead.

There are lots of books about fall, but this is a nice addition. If it was only out in August and not September, I’d like to read it to my preschoolers and older kids not yet back in school. They’d all enjoy sorting out all the mixed up things.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is one of those books that shaped my childhood, filled it with wonder, and prompted many flights of imagination on my part. My mother had a copy and I remember pouring over the images and creating stories in my head as I drifted off to sleep. One teacher even had us write a story to go along with an image of our choice, I think I wrote a 20 page fantasy based on the door knob moving. That I can remember almost twenty years later this writing experience, shows what a lasting impact this book had on my life. Of course I became a librarian not a writer.

Now almost thirty years later, the mysteries of the 14 drawings of Harris Burdick are back, but this time a group of talented and well known authors have each taken one story to tell. On one level this threatens to take away some of the mystery, and the introduction by Lemony Snicket suggests that these might be the real tales, dropped off by Burdick for noted children’s authors to find. But after reading them, I’m not sure that all of the mystery is explained away in these stories.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales / With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket While the stories are all very different, in tone, style, and subject, they were mostly well written and entertaining. The only one I struggled with was the first one, by Tabitha King, where I had a hard time following what was going on. That said, only one really seemed a perfect fit for the illustration, and that one was written by the illustrator. The other stories seemed to me to be one explanation of the illustration, but many times I’d read the story and then study the illustration and say “well, what about that part?” This, I think is a good thing. It would be a sad thing if these stories became the definitive answer to the mysteries of these images. The fact that someone could read these stories and say, “well, I would tell the story different,” is a good thing!

Among my favorite of the stories were Sherman Alexie’s funny and grim story of two strange siblings, Jules Fieffer’s dark tale of a children’s author consumed in a madness of his own making, Lois Lowry and Katie DiCamillo’s historical fiction stories based on the images, and M.T. Anderson’s darkly mysterious suburbia.

Definitely a recommended read, especially for children’s librarians who grew up loving the original.

Invisible Inkling, by Emily Jenkins

Invisible Inkling

“A thing about me is, I have an overbusy imagination. Everyone says so.
And it’s true. I’m not saying I don’t.
I imagine airplanes that argue with their pilots, drinks that change the color of your skin, and aliens who study human beings in science labs–all when I’m supposed to be doing something else.
Like cleaning my room.
Or listening.
Yeah.                                                                                                                                                              But here’s the thing about the invisible bandapat who’s been living in my laundry basket. He is not imaginary. Inkling is as real as you, or me. Or the Great Wall of China.”

Sometimes I think that “Overbusy imagination” is a perfect description of myself, though if I just limited my wonderings to such exciting things as aliens, talking planes and such it would be better. In Emily Jenkin’s upcoming book our hero Hank, who goes by his last name Wolowitz, deals with many of the challenges of a typical childhood, when his friend moves out before the start of school. His family has money trouble, and he is plagued by a bully. When he discovers a mysterious, furry, yet invisible creature in his family’s ice cream parlor it helps distract him from his worries.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read, perfect for those 2-3 graders who are worried about school, friends, and bullies. Release is scheduled for 4/26/2011.

As a librarian, I can wonder if the treatment of bullies in this book is realistic or appropriate, but I think kids will relish the thought that they could defeat a bully. While I hope that kids don’t take away the idea that every single person they talk to about being bothered by a bully will either deny that it is happening, blame them for being bullied, or offer excuses for the bully, the book doesn’t seem to support these as what should happen, just what does happen.

E-Books and NetGalley

Three years or so ago I decided it was the time to take the big plunge, to go digital, to get that e-reader and stop wasting money, space, and trees on paper books. Back then there were two real options, the Kindle or the Sony 505. At that time both were virtually the same price, but the Kindle was back ordered for an unknown time. The Sony, on the other hand, was available at Walmart or Target. Both were spendy, but my parents were willing to invest at my say so for a Christmas gift. Since the Sony came into my life, I’ve bought only the occasional paper back, picture book, and gift book for others. Now, most of my adult fiction reading and some of my juvenile fiction reading happens in ebook format, either purchased or checked out from the library. Recently I added a Kindle to my electronic gadgets, and I discovered the amazing service that is NetGalley.

A little backstory as to why NetGalley is amazing to me. I work in a medium sized public library system, where purchasing is done by committees formed by the professional staff. Emphasis is placed on educational materials and works of literary value, especially with adult materials. I try to find good popular adult materials to sneak in, since the people purchasing in those areas are not big popular fiction readers. This year, I’m purchasing all of the easy readers for the system (5 locations), some of the juvenile non-fiction, with a special fund to purchase juvenile biographies, local fiction, and assisting with picture book purchasing. Since this is only my second year here, and third purchasing cycle, I have no special contacts with publishers to get news of new series and books of interest sent to me. NetGalley provides a shortcut to finding out about new books, and helping me figure out what is new. This is especially important since we only purchase books March to August, so I need to know what is coming out in the future, to try to book ahead. Though I should say that this blog is entirely unconnected to my library, and the opinions are my own, and not that of the institution that employs me, which shall remain anonymous.

I do wish there were more juvenile non-fiction and easy reader titles in NetGalley, but I have been pleased with the selection I’ve found. In particular, I love that I can load these books onto one of my readers and discover new books to add to the library’s collection and not have to clutter my house with ARCs. Though I did have a moment when I wanted to book talk a book I’d read as an egalley and we hadn’t purchased it yet, so I couldn’t take it to show it to the kids at the school.

I’m hoping that I can use this new blog to share some of the exciting books I’ve discovered through NetGalley. In addition, I’d welcome books sent from authors or publishers for review, please e-mail me at sarah.oscar.meya@gmail.com.