Sunday, May 24, 2015

Book Review: Saint Anything

SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen is compelling work of contemporary young adult fiction.
After Sydney’s older brother is convicted of aggravated drunk driving, her parents have a difficult time adjusting to his incarceration. With problems at home, Sydney reaches out to members of a warm, caring family for the support and acceptance she needs.
Dessen’s conversational writing style is enjoyable to read. She manages to make everyday moments seem special without unnecessary drama. Her spectrum of fully developed characters will quietly immerse readers into this coming-of-age story.
While many teens seek out Dessen’s stories for the romance elements, her themes of self-discovery, family love, and friendship are at the heart of her young adult novels. These themes are particularly strong in SAINT ANYTHING. Librarians will welcome Dessen’s latest work of realistic fiction.
To learn more about this author, go to
P.S. After reading this YA novel, I wanted to watch the 1988 film Mystic Pizza while eating french fries.
Publishing by Viking on May 5, 2015.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Website Review: Inklewriter

INKLEWRITER is an easy-to-use, online tool for writing and publishing interactive stories.
This free tool lets students easily write branching stories that can be shared with the world. Begin by exploring the library of favorite and examples stories.
When youth are ready to write, they start a new story. The intuitive approach makes it easy to add text and create links to branches of the story. Basic text tools are provided as well as the option to add images. Users can easily switch between the writing and reading modes. The map and contents options help students visualize the sections of their story. Students can save their work and generate a URL that can be shared with their teacher and peers.
Although inklewriter houses stories for free through an affiliated website, the stories can also be downloaded or turned into an HTML file or Kindle e-book for a small fee. Resources are also provided to help users turn their stories into interactive games.
School librarians will enjoy helping their students write interactive stories. An education page discusses ideas for incorporating inklewriter into the classroom.
In 2012, inkle hosted a writing competition. The ten best stories are available as a free iPad app called Future Voices. In addition to their interactive writing site, the company is also known for their interactive games.
To get started writing interactive stories, go to
To follow their blog, go to
To download the Future Voices app, go to
To learn more, visit the website at

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Review: 125 COOL INVENTIONS

125 COOL INVENTIONS: SUPERSMART MACHINES AND WACKY GADGETS YOU NEVER KNEW YOU WANTED! is the latest amazing addition to the “125” collection from National Geographic Kids.
From a fish toilet tank and mobile sauna to a multicopter, this book is chuck-full of incredible inventions. Designed for middle-grade students, each two-page spread is filled with colorful photographs of inventions along with descriptions and interesting facts.
At three points in the book, sets of seven-related finds, gadgets, or ideas are presented. Otherwise, readers are bombarded with one invention after another in no particular order. However, a table of contents and index are provided for those interested in a particular topic or category of invention.
Youth never tire of these highly-illustrated National Geographic Kids books. They’re perfect for reluctant readers and those who enjoy short descriptions rather than long narratives. Highlighted words draw reader interest and feature key scientific ideas.
Lovers of engineering and inventions will flock to the library for this attractive and amazing book. Librarians might as well buy multiple copies with the library binding because this book will be in constant circulation.
Children can go to the website to vote for their favorite inventions at…/125-cool-inventions/.
Published by National Geographic Kids, May 12, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Website Review: The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes

THE INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is both a physical and virtual exhibition focusing on the famous fictional crime investigator.
Although it would be fun to experience the traveling exhibition in personal, the website presents lots of information about author Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous detective.
The Path to Baker Street section explores those people who inspired the creation of Sherlock Holmes and the characters in the stories. Historical photographs bring the time period to life.
The Popular Fellow section features the movie and television adaptations. It also provides links to Sherlockian Societies, fan sites, and trivia.
The Footsteps of Holmes connects the fictional aspects of the stories to the real forensic science. Short videos and images highlight Sherlock’s methods.
The Sherlock in the Classroom area includes information, activities, and resources that can be used independently or in combination with a physical tour.
Create a librarian display featuring the works of Sherlock Holmes as well as a laptop with the website. Incorporate the suggested activities to make the display interactive!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret

BALLET CAT: THE TOTALLY SECRET SECRET by Bob Shea is the first book in a charming new series for beginning readers aged 6 through 8.
After discussing activity options like making crafts and playing checkers, Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony decide to dance. However when Sparkles the Pony becomes sad, the two friends share secrets that make them both feel better.
Shea cleverly weaves assistance for beginning readers into his adorable story. For instance, changes in the font size help young readers better understand the nuances of the plot. In addition, many new words are repeated throughout the story providing opportunities for practice. The use of speech bubbles makes it clear to the reader, who is saying, what. The simple use of lines and colors will be welcomed by children who are easily distracted by complex illustrations.
Librarians seeking books for beginning readers will look forward to many more Ballet Cat books in the future. Also, use the book in a display featuring empathy and friendship.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 5, 2015.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

App Review: DIY Sun Science

DIY SUN SCIENCE is a science app designed to help families and educators learn about the sun through hands-on activities.
Designed by NASA and The Lawrence Hall of Science at UC-Berkeley, the app features multimedia information about sun science and thirteen hands-on activities.
The app’s inviting interface encourages users to conduct investigations using common household items, explore images and videos, or view live images of the sun.
The Activities section is divided into sunny day activities and projects that can be done any day. Each investigation begins with a question such as “What does the sun look like over time?” or “Can you spot the sunspots?”. Each activity includes a brief overview, age level, time commitment, materials, and step-by-step instructions. It concludes with an explanation of the science behind the activity, related videos, and other information.
The Images + Videos section provides to image galleries and short video clips on topics such as the dynamic sun, studying the sun, and Sun-Earth connections. It also sun videos from the past 48 hours.
The Sun Observatory section shows lives images of the sun from a NASA satellite. A slider is used to compare features as seen in different wavelengths. Students can explore different ways to look at the sun, learn more about the sun, and solve sun a puzzle.
Librarians will want to work with classroom science teachers to integrate this stunning app into the STEM curriculum.
Many of the activities and resources can also be accessed through a website at…/diy_sun_science.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights

STONEWALL: BREAKING OUT IN THE FIGHT FOR GAY RIGHTS by Ann Bausum is a powerful and timely work of nonfiction for today’s teens.
Bausum’s compelling narrative begins in the summer of 1969 at a bar in Greenwich Village, New York. What begins as a police raid on the Stonewall Inn soon erupts into riots in the street and cheers of “gay power.” In the days following the raid, emotions continued to run high as frustrated LGBT citizens began to organize. The raid had become a symbol of the oppression felt by thousands of gay and lesbian community members in the city. The rest of the book describes the gay pride movement of the 1970s, the impact of AIDs in the 1980s and 90s, and the changing public attitudes of the 2000s. The book concludes on an optimistic note focusing on the LGBT community’s rainbow symbol of diversity and unity.
Bausum is known for her carefully researched books focusing on social justice. From carefully describing the oppression experienced by generations of gay individuals to clearly explaining the tireless work of gay advocates, Bausum does a masterful job helping today’s young people understand how decades of struggle led to recent societal changes. In the book’s author notes, Bausum explains her motivation for writing a book about the gay rights movement at this point in American history. Her timing is perfect.
Librarian who have been waiting for an up-to-date LGBT history will be quick to add this outstanding work of nonfiction to their library collections. Filled with first hand accounts, historical quotes, and primary source documents, social studies teachers will find this book to be an excellent addition to their social justice curriculum.
Look for STONEWALL to appear on many “best of nonfiction” lists for 2015.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Viking on May 5, 2015.