Monday, January 30, 2017

Technology Review: Pandora

PANDORA is a popular, web-based personalized radio service.
After creating a login, users can create their own stations of music for their favorite artists or genre of music. Rather than playing specific songs and artists, the free service plays music the system thinks the user will like based on their listening preferences. Listeners use a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to indicate whether the song was a good choice. Over time, the system learns user likes and dislikes. Social media elements such as a profile and sharing options add depth to the experience. The service can be upgraded to remove ads.
Librarians will find Pandora to be an effective tool for helping students learn more about their musical preferences. It’s also an interesting way to explore music genres and cultural issues with teens.
To visit the website, to go

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Book Review: Duck on a Tractor

DUCK ON A TRACTOR by David Shannon is an hilarious farm-themed road trip featuring a duck who likes to drive.
When Duck figures out how to start the tractor, his farm animals friends jump on for an unforgettable ride. This humorous picture book will have children giggling from beginning to end. Young children will be attracted to the large, whimsical illustration featuring fascinating perspectives and quirky townspeople.
Librarians will find this book popular with children who enjoy animal and farm stories. Ask students to extend the experience by writing about Duck’s next transportation adventure.
To learn more about the author/illustrator, go to
Published by The Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic on September 13, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Technology Review:

AUDIOSEAR.CH is a search tool that helps users locate podcasts and radio programs.
Whether seeking a professional development program or children’s radio broadcast, this search tool helps users find useful audio programming. Users can search phrases, shows, topics, networks, or people. The tool provides a full text search as well as recommendation API for podcasts and radio.
In addition to the search engine, users can also see what’s trending on Twitter and popular with their reviewers.
Librarians should keep in mind that this resource isn’t specifically designed for students. However, it’s a useful tool for youth seeking an alternative to text-based information and print literature. Also, consider using it in working with at-risk and special needs students who may benefit from using their auditory senses for learning. Consider signing up for their Pod-A-Day podcast that provides podcast recommendations.
To try a search, go to

Thursday, January 26, 2017


KRYSIA by Krystyna Mihulka with Krystyna Poray Goddu is a memoir telling the story of a young Polish girl during World War II.
Krysia’s peaceful childhood is shattered when German troops invade Poland and her family is forced to leave their home and live in a Soviet work farm. Historical photographs add to the appeal of this remarkable story.
Librarians will find this courageous memoir provides a compelling way to discuss the struggles of families during war. Use this work along with other similar stories in a literature circle focusing on World War II memoirs.
Published by Chicago Review Press on January 1, 2017. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Technology Review: American Rhetoric

AMERICAN RHETORIC is a website containing over 5000 full-text audio and video versions of public speeches and other significant historical audio.
The Speech Bank is a database contains public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, and other media resources. Users can search by keyword or browse alphabetically. The works may include audio, video, a transcript, and/or links.
Of particular note is the Top 100 Speeches. This section contains significant American political speeches of the 20th century. The Rhetorical Literacy section includes 49 important speeches of 21st century America. Other areas of the website include speeches by President Obama, movie speeches, and figures in sound. A scholars section explores resources of interest to researchers and academics. Finally, an exercise section provides classroom resources.
Librarians will find the website contains many of the important speeches used in K-12 government and history classrooms. English teachers will find the figures of speech section particularly useful.
Although the advertising can be distracting the content is worth the hassle.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, January 23, 2017

Technology Review: Google's Advanced Video Search

The Google’s ADVANCED VIDEO SEARCH is a useful and often overlooked resource for locating video materials.
One of many search tools available at the Google website, users have many options for narrowing their results. First, the search tool offers options for word searches. Then, ideas are provided for narrowing results. Users can search by language, video length, posting date, video quality, and whether the video contains subtitles. Searches can also be conducted within a particular domain such as YouTube or National Geographic.
A particularly useful tool is SafeSearch. This option allows users to filter explicit results. Be sure to use the filter when searching for animal videos or you may be in for an unwelcome surprise.
Finally, links are provided to additional search strategies available through Google.
Librarians will find this tool to be a quick way to locate videos for classroom activities. Of particular note is the option to find videos by duration. For those working with children with special needs, be sure to note the choice to search for closed caption resources.
To try a Google Video search, go to

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Review: The Darkest Dark

THE DARKEST DARK by Chris Hadfield is based on the true story of a young boy who became an astronaut.
Set in the late 1960s, this beautifully illustrated picture book follows a young boy who pretends he’s an astronaut. His fear of the dark keeps him up at night until he dreams of being an astronaut. Discovering the beauty and power of space helps him overcome his fear.
The book concludes with a short biographical sketch by the author and family photos. Hadfield became the first Canadian to walk in space.
Librarians will find this attractive picture book to be an effective way to introduce biographies to young children. After reading the book, share photos and short videos from the author’s website to extend the experience.
To learn more about the astronaut author, go to
Published on September 6, 2016 by Little Brown, imprint of Hachette. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Digital Spotlight: Librivox

Contents: Librivox is a website containing public domain books for free in an audio format. Volunteers donate their time to record the books. The connection contains books from around the word. Users can browse the catalog by author, title, genre, subject, or language. A blog features news items and recent additions to the collection. Users can download the audiobooks on their computer or mobile device.
Classroom Connections: Students and teachers seeking audiobooks will find this free collection to be useful across the curriculum. While it’s best known for its many classic works of literature, it also contains children’s books and nonfiction works. The collection is particularly useful for special needs students and those that learn best through listening.
Featured Digital Objects:
Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
Aesop for Children
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
In addition to the website, the content is also available through both Apple and Google Play.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Technology Review: YALSA YouTube Channel

The YALSA YOU TUBE CHANNEL is sponsored by ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association.
This popular channel contains videos created by and for library staff working with teens. These engaging video segments explore practical teen services topics.
The Playlists Page contains over a dozen categories including Snack Breaks, Free Webinars on Demand, Teens & the Future of Libraries, and Top Teen Nominees Trailers.
Librarians working with teens will find this channel contains many useful resources related to library administration, professional development, and leadership topics.
To visit the channel, go to

Monday, January 16, 2017

Website Review: Oyez

The OYEZ: US SUPREME COURT MEDIA website contains over 2,000 recordings of oral arguments before the US Supreme Court.
Sponsored by the Illinois Institute of Technology, the website provides access to information about cases, justices, and news. It also provides a tour.
The Cases section for the website features US Supreme Court cases by term, year, and name. The name, description, dates (granted, argued, decided), citation link, facts of the case, question, and conclusion area provided for each case. In most cases, an audio file is provided of the oral arguments along with a transcript.
The Justices section contains information about each Justice and the cases they argued. The News section is displayed as a blog. It includes a news roundup, historical information, and other short articles. Each article contains tags that are easy to search. While most articles are text, a few contain video.
The U.S. Supreme Court 360 degree virtual tour is an engaging way to explore the court building and justice’ chambers.
Librarians will find this website useful for government classes as well as students interested in exploring social issues that have come before the court.
To explore the website, go to

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Book Review: My Washington DC

MY WASHINGTON DC by Kathy Jakobsen is a visually rich picture book exploring the key features of this important US city.
The story follows Becky and her friend Martin as they explore the many interesting sights of this capitol city. The detailed illustrations and informational text bring the locations alive for children.
Of particular note is the illustrator’s use of the book’s borders to embed interesting artifacts and visual information. The book concludes with a reader’s challenge that asks readers to spot details woven throughout the book.
Librarians will find the book to be an excellent addition to their social studies collection. Consider an assignment that connects the book with Google Maps to explore the buildings of Washington DC.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Little, Brown, an imprint of Hachette on September 6, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Technology Review: ALA YouTube Channel

The AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION maintains a YouTube channel containing news and information for librarians and library users.
Sponsored by ALA, the channel focuses on original programming aimed at library professionals and other ALA members. Programming includes professional development resources, publicity and advocacy tools, news, and information. Many of the videos are associated with popular initiatives such as Spark Advocacy and Libraries Transform.
Dozens of play lists are available including ALA Vlogs, Annual Conference video sets, and a financial learning series.
Librarians will find this channel useful in planning for administrative activities including marketing activities. However, there are also many useful resources for their own professional development.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review: Useless Bay

USELESS BAY by M.J. Beaufrand is a heart-pounding thriller with elements of magical realism.
The Gray quintuplets along with their adopted dog are known for their search-and-rescue skills. However the disappearance of a young boy and the discovery of his dead stepmother become a mystery that’s difficult for even the Gray siblings to solve.
Librarians will find that fans of mystery and detective novels will devour this exciting story set on Whidbey Island in Washington state. The magical realism and touch of romance will broaden its appeal. The short sentences and fast-paced approach make it an effective choice for reluctant readers.
Published by Amulet, a division of Harry N. Abrams on October 18, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Technology Review: Facebook Live Map

FACEBOOK LIVE MAP is a recent feature of the popular social networking website.
Facebook’s Live option allows a Facebook users to stream audio and video live. Viewers can interact with the live stream using Facebook’s regular comments feature.
A Live Map is provided that allows participants to participate in real-time events around the world. Examples include underwater field trips offered by an Aquarium in California, live craft demonstrations by hobbyists, National Park service historical re-enactments, and book release press conferences.
Librarians can easily share author talks with the world beyond the physical library. Or, participate in the many real-time educational programs offered by schools, libraries, museums, parks, and educational nonprofits.
Keep in mind that although well-known news agencies and other organizations stream live events, it’s also possible to find materials that are inappropriate for younger viewers. Consider pre-selecting an event and using it as a whole-class experience. Or, replaying a previously live event.
To visit the website, go to

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review: To Stay Alive

TO STAY ALIVE by Skila Brown tells the story of Mary Ann Graves and the tragic Donner Party.
Set in 1846, this young adult novel tells the fictionalized story of a young survivor of the Donner Party. Based on the real people, places, and events, Brown uses a novel-in-verse approach to share the hardships of the journey West.
Librarians will find this well-researched novel to be a nice companion to the many nonfiction works about the Donner Party already found in the library collection. Work with history teachers to create a class reading list that includes the growing number of historical novels-in-verse now available for middle and high school students. Students who enjoy books about survival will find this haunting, historical work to be a sober change of pace from other adventure stories.
Published by Candlewick on October 11, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Digital Collection: Making of America

Cornell University Library
Contents: This collection contains primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. It includes monographs and over 100,000 journal articles. Users can search or browse the collection. The collection includes dozens of 19th century journals such as Scientific American and Atlantic Monthly to explore.
Classroom Connections: Use the many journals as a source for informational reading material. Ask students to select an article to read. Then, challenge them to investigate how the article reflects the time when it was written.
Featured Digital Objects:
Civil War -
Scientific American -
To visit the collection,

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Book Review: In Plain Sight

IN PLAIN SIGHT by Richard Jackson and Jerry Pinkney is a multigenerational family story for children.
Winner of several book awards, this beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of a young girl and her grandfather who enjoy playing “lost and found” memory games together.
Librarians will find this multigenerational story an appealing way to discuss relationships with grandparents.
Published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan on September 20, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Digital Collection: Canadiana

Contents: This digital project was developed by a nonprofit to make Canada’s cultural heritage accessible online.Users can select from collections including early Canada, Heritage, Public Collections, and Student Voice. Within each section, users can browse or search for items of interest.
Classroom Connections: Use this collection to make comparisons across time periods and areas of the world. Focus on specific topics such as comparing the First Nations Peoples of Canada with the Native Americans of the United States using primary source documents as evidence.
Featured Digital Objects:
Early Canadiana Collections -
Heritage -
Public Collections -
To visit the collection,

Friday, January 06, 2017

Book Review: Wolf Keepers

WOLF KEEPERS by Elise Broach is an absorbing mystery adventure.
Written for middle grade readers, young Lizzie spend her time with the animals at a zoo. Her life changes when she encounters a runaway living at the zoo. Together she and her new friend investigate a mystery involving wolves that takes them on an adventure to Yosemite National Park.
Librarians will find this book appeals to a broad audience including those who enjoy mystery, adventures, and animals. The historical connections with John Muir provide the opportunity to connect to the origins of national parks. Animal lovers are sure to be attracted to both the setting and the engaging story.
Published by Henry Holt and Company on October 11, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Digital Collection: Calisphere

Contents: Calisphere provides a gateway to digital collections across the state of California from libraries, universities, and museums. Designed with educators in mind, it accesses over 400,000 images, texts, and recordings. Users can explore the collections or exhibitions. Or, use the search tool to conduct a keyword search.
Classroom Connections: The project includes a page specifically for educators with teaching resources. Many of the collections are geared to the K-12 curriculum such as Gold Rush Life.
Featured Digital Objects:
Dr. Suess Artwork -
Gold Rush Life -
San Francisco Earthquake and Fire -
To visit the collection at
To explore the educator section, go to

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Digital Collection: British History Online

Contents: This digital collection includes important primary and secondary sources focusing on the history of Britain and Ireland from 1300 through 1800. The resource includes maps, dataset, texts, and primary sources. Users can browse the collections, use subject guides, or try a keyword search.
Classroom Connections: Use this collection to learn more about life during this time period. Ask students to explore topics of interest and report on everyday activities such as the cost of items or the role of religion in people’s lives.
Featured Digital Objects:
Maps -
Economic -
Urban -
To visit the collection,

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Iron Cast

IRON CAST by Destiny Soria is an engaging fantasy with elements of mystery and an emphasis on friendship.
This fast-paced alternative history weaves a diverse cast of fascinating characters into an absorbing story exploring the world of an underground club. The author tells the story of friendship in a world of hemopathy and paranormal activity.
Librarians will find teens attracted to the social issues addressed in this alternative universe. Fans of The Diviners by Libba Bray will be happy to find another paranormal elements set a similar historical setting.
Published by Amulet on October 11, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Digital Collection: National Library of Medicine

Contents: The National Library of Medicine’s online resources include biomedical books, still images, videos, and more. The resources can be accessed by collection, subject, author, title, format, language, genre, or date.
Classroom Connections: From posters to videos, digital objects can bring science topics to life. Connecting medicine and history is an effective way to draw student interest to both science and history. Ask students to create a timeline of primary source documents tracing a topic such as cholera through history. Or, search for posters on a particular topic such as AIDS, malaria, or yellow fever and trace how the medical communications change over time.
Featured Digital Objects:
Cholera -
Tropical Disease -
Public Health & War -
Moving Pictures -
To visit the collection,

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Gunpowder Girls

GUNPOWDER GIRLS by Tanya Anderson tells the tragic story of 140 women and girls who were killed in arsenal explosions during the Civil War.
This quick-read is told in three parts including the catastrophes at Allegheny Arsenal, Confederate States Laboratory, and Washington Arsenal. The author weaves in primary source materials and interesting informational pages to bring the events to life for middle and high school readers. The book includes an epilogue, author’s note, endnotes, bibliography, recommended readings, and index.
Librarians will find this book to be a welcome addition to the history collection. Pair it with other little-known events in the American Civil War. Or, connect it with other tragedies in women’s history.
Published by Quindaro Press October 11, 2016. ARC from the publisher.