Wednesday, October 31, 2012


     A recent and furiously popular book in my library is Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood. The sequel, Girl of Nightmares, was released in August this year.
     The student who first urged me to get these books was in the library this morning, and said doubtfully, "We don't have Girl of Nightmares, yet, do we?"
     I said, "Why, yes, we DO! It just came in a few days ago."
     "REALLY?! 'Cause I will borrow the shit out of that!"
     I didn't even bother to say anything about the language, since it was used in such elated library context.

NOTE: We still have no actual book budget from the district, these new books I manage to get are all purchased through the "Amazon Associates Program," which is an ongoing fundraiser in which the school gets 4% of anything purchased through a specific link.

Friday, October 19, 2012


     Last week our field custodian brought me a textbook (the one you see above) he'd found out by the baseball field. Somebody had set the book on fire in the press box, then tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher stolen from the English wing.
     I have no idea if the same person set it on fire AND tried to put it out, but I like to imagine one of our hyper-disciplined over-achievers having a moment of wild rebellion and then panicking and trying to do damage control. Maybe sobbing, covered in flame-retardant foam, moaning, "What have I done....?"
     At any other school this would be a standard bit of vandalism, but here it's actually surprising.
     As you can see in the picture, it's kind of arty and fascinating, taken out of context. It left a drift of sandy particles all over my desk.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


     We get lots of calls from vendors trying to sell us books we can't afford. Nobody has any money right now, ESPECIALLY the school I work at, because we get no "special funding" whatsoever. But vendors don't back off, even when we let them know we haven't any money to spend.
     The Teacher Librarians used to have to take all those calls, since they were the ones who technically placed the orders. Which meant I (as a humble Library technician) was used to just passing the phone to the Librarian and not having to deal with the stupid vendors.
     Now that we have no site Librarians, I'm stuck with stupid vendor calls, and today I had a particularly awkward one.
     I've never pretended to be good on the phone. It is not one of my strengths. I HATE talking on the phone. When I answer the phone at work, I say, "Library," in a whaddyawant?! tone. My coworker friends have always made fun of me for it. They say things like, "No shit," or,"You are NOT a library. You are a human being," or they just imitate me saying "Library" in a drawling nasal tone that does NOT sound anything like me.
     When it is suggested that I try to nice things up a little by possibly adding, Good afternoon, or How can I help you, my response is, "I will not."
     I'm pretty sure I'm engaging and kind in person, though. Even solicitous.
     Anyway, this afternoon when I returned from lunch break, the phone rang. There was a lot of background noise because students were pouring into the library, which made it hard to hear. This is how the call went:

ME:  Library.

CALLER:  Hi, I'm _____ from _____ Publishing, and I (something unintelligible).

ME:  (Impatiently) What?!

CALLER:  Hi, I'm _____ from _____ Publishing, and (I wasn't paying attention and missed it).

ME:  Are you trying to sell me something? Because if you are you should know that we don't have any money, and even if we did you should really speak to the District Librarian.

CALLER:  Is there a number (unintelligible)?

ME:  Her phone number? I'm not sure what it is, actually, and I... Bye.

     I abruptly hung up the phone. What was THAT? I asked myself, puzzled by my own abrupt dismissal of the stupid vendor. Had I meant to hang up suddenly, like that? Was it a seizure? Then I realized I was probably just tired and didn't feel like explaining YET AGAIN our lack of funding, etc. I don't OWE these people anything.
     Was I lying when I said I didn't even have the number of the District Librarian? Not exactly. I think I do have it somewhere, but it would involve hunting around. Besides, the District Librarian's last name is unusual and difficult for people to spell, and I always end up having to repeat myself loudly about 10 times before they get it.
     Like I said, I don't owe these people anything.
     Good day, sir.

Friday, October 12, 2012

BIBLIOGRAPHY : RIYL the Bone graphic novel series by Jeff Smith

     (Pssst! "RIYL" stands for Recommended If You Like.)
     Here are some middle school to junior high-appropriate graphic novels, with fantasy and/or adventure elements. At both school libraries I've worked in, the students are CRAZY for Jeff Smith's Bone series. Before Scholastic started releasing the new full-color versions of them, I had already collected and read the entire original (black & white) series myself, and loved it.
     When the kids finish all the Bone books, they're hungry for something in the same genre. Amulet is the most popular one, but there are others out there. These books are all selected from my library's shelves, which means there are plenty more great titles out there, but these are just the ones we happen to have available for our students.

Rapunzel's Revenge by Hale, Hale, and Hale
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (#1 in series of same name)
Explorer: the Mystery Boxes anthology edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Pinky & Stinky by James Kochalka
The Royal Historian of Oz by Tommy Kovac and Andy Hirsch
Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew
The Sons of Liberty by Lagos, Lagos, and Walker (series)
Mal and Chad: the Biggest, Bestest Time Ever! by Stephen McCranie (series)
Prince of Persia by Mechner, Sina, Pham, and Puvilland
Mouse Guard by David Petersen (series)
The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier
Crogan's Vengeance by Chris Schweizer (series)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Shanower and Young (series)
Jellaby by Kean Soo (series)
Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
Kid Gravity by Walker and Jones (series)
Pandemonium by Chris Wooding and Cassandra Diaz

Also a possible fit for this list are graphic novel incarnations of some popular fantasy book series, like Pendragon by MacHale, Redwall by Jaques, and Percy Jackson by Riordan. The kids seem to like these okay, but they don't LOVE them. At least in my library, they seem to prefer the original novels. :)

Bonus "alternative format" titles (part novel, part comic)
Bone: Quest For the Spark by Sniegoski, Smith, and Hamaker (series)
The First Escape by G.P. Taylor (#1 of the Doppleganger Chronicles)
Malice by Chris Wooding and Dan Chernett (series)

DISCLOSURE: I put two books written by ME on the main list (Royal Historian of Oz and Wonderland) because I really think they fit. I don't normally do that kind of shameless self-promotion. But there it is. And isn't Andy Hirsch's cover art for Royal Historian of Oz beautiful?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BIBLIOGRAPHY : Dragons (middle grade to junior high level)

     One of our new little 7th graders is a voracious reader, and asks me EVERY DAY for more recommendations. He loves the Bone series of graphic novels, but also reads lots of junior high level fantasy. It's all I can do to keep up with his requests, but that's the part I love the most about this job.
     This morning he was checking out the last few books of Emily Rodda's Deltora Dragon's Nest series that he hasn't yet read, and asked me for more books like that, with dragons. There were more kids waiting in line behind him, so I told him I'd work on it later and have suggestions when he came back.
     Here's the stack of books I came up with:

How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (#1 in the series of the same name)
The Fire Within by Chris D'Lacey (#1 in the Last Dragon Chronicles)
Hatching Magic by Ann Downer (#1 in the series of the same name)
Dragon's Milk by Susan Fletcher (#1 of the Dragon Chronicles)
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
The Saint of Dragons by Jason Hightman (#1 in the series of the same name)
The Dragon of Cripple Creek by Troy Howell
Starfinder by John Marco
Here, There Be Dragons by James Owen (#1 of the Imaginarium Geographica)
Pillage by Obert Skye
The Dragon's Eye by Dugald Steer (#1 of the Dragonology Chronicles)
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (#1 of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles)
Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen (#1 in the Pit Dragon Trilogy)

     And no, I'm NOT putting Eragon on that list. There's not a kid alive who hasn't already read it or heard about it. That's like putting Harry Potter on a list of suggested fantasy titles. That just seems unnecessary. But it's acceptable to make a "RIYL (Recommended if you like) Harry Potter" list, or a "RIYL Eragon" list.
     DISCLOSURE: I'm actually not going to recommend The Dragon's Eye to this kid, because it's the first in a series, and we don't have the rest. The kids at this school are completists, and get really frustrated if they can't start with the first volume of a series, and read the ENTIRE series. I think that's cool. But it puts a lot of pressure on the library!
     He may have already read a few of the really popular books and/or series on this list, such as How To Train Your Dragon, and The Fire Within, but I wanted to include them anyway.

UPDATE: This morning the student came in and went through the stack I had pulled. Turns out he had already read How To Train Your Dragon, and Dragon Rider. The book he chose was Here, There Be Dragons. I told him that's actually the one I would probably choose, too!