Hello, again!

So, after a long, mostly unplanned hiatus from blogging, I’ve decided to participate in the 48 Hour Book Challenge.  My start time is 11:11 p.m. on 6/19/15 (a little later than I expected, but here it goes!)

Here’s my TBR pile:


You may notice these books have a theme: summer.  Since we’re crossing over into that magical season, I thought I would read some books that take place in summer to try to uncover some of its mystery.  I’m aiming for 12 hours this weekend…wish me luck and happy summer!



Filed under 48 hour book challenge

The mystery is finally solved!

This story requires a little background information.  When I was growing up, I had a bookcase next to my bed.  On the side of the bookcase, there was a small poster that had something to do with reading.  A few years ago, I started thinking about that poster.  I could remember what it looked like:  a few kids were sitting on a piece of furniture in an old, Victorian living room reading books.  The cover of the books had beanie hats on them and it was like they were trying to solve a mystery of where the hats could be.  The funny part was that there were beanie hats hidden throughout the living room.  I thought there was a phrase on the poster, too.  Something like “Reading is a Mystery.”  I couldn’t remember every detail, but I remembered the style of the poster.  All these years later, it reminded me of Edward Gorey.  So, for the past couple of years, I’ve tried Google searches with every possible combination of the words I used in the description above without any luck.

Yesterday, I was on Etsy and thought, “maybe they have the poster.”  I found it!  (Ok, it was already sold, but with the extra information I found on the Etsy site (it was “Solve Mysteries–Read” not “Reading is a Mystery”) I was able to find a bookmark version on another site.  It turns out it was created for an ALA program (SRP perhaps?) in the mid 90s.

Thanks for Etsy shop GryphonVintage for pointing me in the right direction!

Thanks for Etsy shop GryphonVintage for pointing me in the right direction!

I can’t wait until the bookmark comes!  It will be a great addition to my collection 🙂


Filed under the joys of reading

Finding balance in library world

When I was a kid, I always dreamed of doing something creative with my life.  I wanted to be an artist, or a writer, or a Lego sculpture maker.  I wound up in library world, which is a perfect fit for me and allows for creativity, but my job definitely isn’t as “right-brained” as I would have imagined.

Image from:  huffingtonpost.com

Image from: huffingtonpost.com

Thinking about my job, I’m lucky to have the opportunity to exercise both halves of my brain.  Even in school this semester, I’ve written papers and shared my thoughts about books for youth and then flipped the switch in my brain to work on cataloging records.  Thankfully, we have a wonderful cataloger, so cataloging is not my responsibility at work, but it is fun and interesting to learn about another dimension of the profession.  At the circulation desk, I use my left brain for using exact match systems to search the catalog or a database, but then I get to be creative and design a bulletin board or a poster.

I’ve been reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain, and this has sparked a lot of thoughts about extroverts and introverts.  In some ways, my job requires me to demonstrate both qualities in different situations.  Programs and working on desk can demand an extroverted style, but I probably wouldn’t have my interest in books if I weren’t a true introvert at heart.  Both are crucial.

Librarians, do you feel the same sense of balance from your job?  Please share in the comments!

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Author Interview: Melissa Sweet discusses the role of illustrations in non-fiction picture books

When I heard we would be discussing Balloons over Broadway in my Nonfiction and the Common Core class, I contacted Melissa Sweet to see if she would be interested in sharing her thoughts on the importance of illustrations in youth non-fiction, with a focus on Balloons over Broadway. She happily agreed and also offered to share about her new book, The Right Word: Peter Roget and His Thesaurus.  Thank you for shedding light on this topic, Melissa!

How do illustrations enhance non-fiction books for children?

In researching Tony Sarg for Balloons Over Broadway, there was a vast amount of material that would never fit into a picture book.  The illustrations helped to tell the story, give the book depth and, with attention to design, the art could show many things there wasn’t room to say.

In thinking of the book like staging a play, (especially because Sarg performed with his marionettes on Broadway), the story starts on the endpapers. There,the Tony Sarg Marionettes book is placed open (with a little collaging so it said just what was important) which explains his love of toys and his childhood a bit more than I had room for in the body of the book. The idea to design the endpaper that way didn’t happen right away.

The art was created out of sequence so this was one of the last decisions. There’s a lot of trust in making a book that every detail will find it’s way, like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. This was the perfect placement and I loved it was in Sarg’s words.

On the title page we see puppets, toys, then the book opens with him playing with his toys and marionette, making it move– another theme in that Sarg’s art was all about movement. Some of those toys show up later in the book in his studio. He kept those toys his whole life. That doesn’t have to be stated in the text since it’s in the art. The three dimensional objects were the best way to convey that this was part of Tony’s process in making art. In some of my collages there are Sarg’s drawings from his marionette books, (it’s a long story as to why I used this old book I valued). The reader doesn’t need to have that pointed out, but to my eye his drawings add texture to my collages and feel different from my art which is the point of using collage.

The idea of the parade itself and how it changed each year was easier and more fun to show, rather than talk about.
There was a lot of information on the history of the Macy’s parade, but this book was not meant to focus on that parade. The Macy’s parade was my vehicle to tell  Sarg’s story and any details that dragged down the story had to be left out. In using the vintage street map of New York City alongside the art I was able to show the parade route from start to finish. That was a minor detail in that the long parade route tired the live animals. It wasn’t  imperative to the story, but a fun detail to know. Turning the book vertically when the elephant rises exaggerated the difference between that and the first parade which was low to the ground.

Then there is the defining moment, when Sarg discovers he could make upside down marionettes. How can an idea, concept, a thought be illustrated? After many sketches showing his facial expression– surprised, curious, wondering– none of that was working because it was more about Sarg’s reaction than him having an AHA! moment. The silhouette makes us see his body language and his concept. We can feel what he is thinking. Also, that page is in neutral colors, where the rest of the book is in full color, again giving emphasis to the silhouette. It helped to contrast Sarg alone in the quiet of his studio to the raucous riot of movement and color in the parade scenes.

In the back matter, (which is becoming one of my favorite parts of crafting a book) I had found the Macy’s advertisement and we got permission to use it.  That photo is, in essence, an object of proof. (A primary source?) Here is a real newspaper and the photo of the balloons alongside the people gives the sense of scale.

Truly, every square inch of the page is considered and the book as a whole needs to work with these details so it feels cohesive.  Keeping the text as spare as possible is part of integrating the words and pictures.  Most important, every decision needs to show and tell Sarg’s story reflecting all the verve and fun he had doing what he did, and convey the impact he had on the world of puppetry. As an illustrated book, we get a visceral and visual glimpse into Sarg’s life.

In my newest book, The Right Word: Peter Roget and His Thesaurus, the process was similar in that every word I drew had to point to Roget’s obsessive list making and how the Thesaurus came to be.

Melissa, thank you so much for sharing with us about your process.  Here’s a link to the book trailer for The Right Word:


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Bibliophile Read-a-force member interviewed on WABI

One of our members of the Bibliophile Read-a-force, Lilja, was interviewed yesterday about why she supports the library.  Check it out!


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To ban or not to ban, that is the question!


As Banned Books Week 2014 comes to a close, The Bibliophile Read-a-force (our book club for grades 6-8) met to discuss censorship.  I’ve worked as a librarian for 4 years and each year during Banned Book Week I’m always amazed at the list of banned books and the reasons why they have been banned or challenged.  This year was the first time I took a minute to really think about our right to information and the effect that banning a book could have.  The bibliophiles had a great discussion exploring potential reasons why people would feel the need to challenge a book, as well reasons why banning books could be detrimental to individuals and society as a whole.

It wasn’t all serious, of course:


Many of the bibliophiles also worked on logos for our upcoming Rainbow Readers Race color run (more info about that coming soon!)


How did you celebrate Banned Books Week?


Filed under book club, middle school group

Crazy Hair Day

The kids have read 1250 books so far this summer.  Today was Crazy Hair Day at the Ellsworth Public Library to celebrate this accomplishment!  Here’s my take on a bird’s nest:

DSC04886To be honest,  I was surprised that more patrons didn’t comment on or mention our crazy hair.  Maybe they thought this was our usual look at and didn’t want to offend us…


Filed under library life