Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Vintage titles

Last summer, while visiting Maine, I discovered The Cat at Night, a wonderful picture book by Dahlov Ipcar, a Maine author/illustrator, which was originally published in 1969 but was reissued in 2008.  I just discovered that her work has been a piece of the puzzle that has kept a small publishing house afloat despite the recent financial tribulations of many small presses.

The Cat at Night is truly a lovely, yet simple book about the unknown activities of our feline friends at night and the power of shadows to make the mundane mysterious.  The art is vibrant and clear, while the text is just enough to lead the reader through the story.

The link above goes to where you can get a peek at the art--I tried WorldCat but most libraries apparently don't have the reissued edition yet.  Another one to peruse at the bookstore or request from your local library (if no one asks, they don't always purchase...).

The full story of Islandport Press and Dahlov Ipcar's books is from Publisher's Weekly here:
It's Mainly Maine at Islandport

Building a library for your children

I have often gotten questions from parents about which books they should purchase to add to or begin their family library, in particular based on their children's ages and developmental stages.  While I can usually spout off a couple of titles, and there is an abundance of bibliographies and websites that cover children's literature, they are oftentimes overwhelming, especially to new parents or parents who are themselves English Language Learners.

The relatively new site Twenty by Jenny is the answer. 

Jenny Brown, (former teacher, children's book editor, and reviewer) give parents "the best 20 books for your child" in four age-based lists from birth to teenagers.  Beyond her lists of classics, she puts out a monthly newsletter that highlights one or two new books.  While it is read by many people in the children's book world, the site and newsletter are truly targeted at parents, and her enthusiasm for books and reading is infectious.  Take a look before your next visit to the library or bookstore with your children.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


First, I love audio books, or at least most audio books. I have checked out audio books on cassette tapes and cds from my local library for my children to listen to when we traveled since they were very young. They were introduced to Ramona, Henry and Ribsy to begin with, and eventually we made it through Heidi when my eldest was only in first or second grade. I also found them to be a great way to revisit a story we have read aloud: Reading aloud at bedtime, it took us a month or so to get through one of the early Harry Potter books, so that by the end they didn't remember all the details from the beginning. Several months after we finished it we listened to the audio book while travelling and they were able to put it all together better this second time. The obvious downside is that not all readers are good, or sometimes they simply don't fit my idea of how a character/narrator should sound.

These days I still check out cd audio books from the library, but I usually rip them into iTunes for portable listening. Mercer County libraries have a limited selection of playaways, but I have used them on occasion. They work well, and can be used in my car with the same adapter I use for my phone/ipod. The down side, of course is that it's one more gadgety thing to keep track of.

I have also purchased audio books through iTunes, often of titles I think my children will enjoy and/or that I need but are unavailable from my library.

I have looked into Listen NJ several times, but as the owner/user of an iphone for my audio, I have generally been dissapointed. I see that it is now possible to get some titles for the iphone, but the selections of available titles is quite limited and rather uneven: There seem to be more science fiction than general popular fiction, and with only one Jane Austen title available in the required format.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


First, I love the book review podcasts. I generally listen to the NYTimes Book Review, Nancy Pearl's BookLust and the Horn Book podcasts while I walk in the neighborhood. Most are pretty good, although I found it ironic that the only book review podcast with advertising is the one from NPR! I particularly like the ones that offer something more than what's in the print offerings, otherwise what's the point? I often skip through parts I'm not interested in, but I also find myself listening to things I wouldn't have heard before.

I just discovered Nancy Keane's Booktalks--Quick and Simple podcast, visible here but I can't seem to find a way to get it other than on iTunes, which works for me, but not everyone. Most of these are just a couple of minutes long, but when I subscribed and asked to "get all" I ended up downloading 732! Good thing they're all so short!

I also occasionally listen to other stuff like Jane Brody's health tidbits and my kids love Crazy Dave's Kid Show, a call-in show for kids based in central Iowa. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Award-winning sites and online tools

I've used google docs a couple of times now, for group projects, and it's a pretty good tool. I can't say it's got the best tools for typesetting and graphics, but it does make things easier to collaborate on. That was particularly good for an online class that included several group projects. The down side is that it is sometimes hard to tell if everyone has actually looked at a piece, even if they have not edited it. I guess that's an issue that's more about communication than anything else.

The web 2.o award-winning sites were okay. The education category was a bit disappointing, though, because I thought it would be more related to the world of education, rather than things that can educate users. I guess that's an assumption I make coming from the world of educators. A number of innovative sites, but only some were really useful. It was good to see that the most visible employment sites (monster and career builder) are also winners, too, in the event I have to use them.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Share a Story

Love this. Now there's a flier available on the site to share with your more paper-oriented friends!


I have worked with a couple of wikis myself, mostly for scheduling: We used them for scheduling volunteers for an education program at my church, so that if there were changes necessary, individuals could make them on their own. That was a wiki on the church website, and the wiki was in the password-protected area of the site--there were only a couple of passwords for the community, depending on what position members held (deacon, member, etc.).

I can definitely see a wiki being useful in a library as a resource for the staff, similar to a binder of information at the front desk used to be. In a school setting, I can see it being a valuable tool for teachers to share resources, and especially for a librarian to build a resource that teachers can access as well as add to for the greater good.