Thursday, December 18, 2008

Have a Great Holiday Break!

*** Darn! I forgot to save this one in time.
We'll be dancing again in 2009! ***

From all of us at the Paideia Library!

No owls were touched in the making of this video.

Thanks to ElfYourself, from Office Max and JibJab.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Graphic Book Display in the Library

Did I get ya'? I tricked you! . . . no violence, nothing wicked here.

Just as "graphic novels" are narratives that show and tell a story with pictures and words, UnShelved Book Club is a series of book review/recommendations presented as multi-panel comic strips. Many of them feature books from the Paideia Library collection, and I've paired the comic with the book on some of our display areas. See if the Book Club comics don't pique your interest.

Click on the comic to see it full-size. Click on the book cover to go to its info in the library catalog.

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist
, a joint effort between YA authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, was made into a film earlier this year.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve.

and UnShelved Book Club's Mortal Engines.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What's On Your Table??

I just put up a new book display near the Reading Room. The theme is "What's On Your Table This Holiday Season? Think about it."

At Paideia we've been thinking deeply about food, sustainability and nutrition (and for my family I would add "nurturing" to that list). The Green Team's sustainable, no-waste Feast was a great success and we've got serious composting underway. The library has just added Michael Pollen's new book, In Defense of Food, to the collection, joining The Omnivore's Dilemma, Fast Food Nation and several other titles on food and food industry in the United States.

The display showcases these books, as well as several of the many different cultural and regional cookbooks we own (check 641.5 in both the JH/HS and Elementary libraries!) Food cooked at home, from scratch, is a fundamental part of changing food culture and industry for the better. Come by and check out a cookbook, or a thinking book, and start planning what will be on your table at your holiday celebrations.

Related Reading Lists

Mmm Mmm Good! - Cookbooks in the Library
Banish edible food-like products from your table. Try something new, or learn to cook old favorites from one of the many cultural, ethnic and regional cookbooks in the Paideia Library.

What's Left to Eat?
A list of books (and a DVD) on Western food culture, the food industry, eating locally, and other sustainable food industry topics.

Friday, November 21, 2008

PiLibrarian's Best YA Novels for Adult Readers (Part 1)

During a conversation with author Alex Sanchez in September, he mentioned several authors I hadn't heard of. I was beginning to feel quite out of things until I asked, "Are these authors for grownups?" Ahh, no wonder . . . it's all I can do to keep up with reading for my teenage audience.

Adult readers, do not dispair. I do have recommendations for you too! Every year, dozens of books are published and marketed to teen readers that many adults would enjoy, if they ever found them. Everyone knows about Harry Potter and Twilight: here's my list of Young Adult Novels for Adult Adults. Give one to yourself, or to any book-loving adult (or even a young adult reader). You may find yourself wondering why you never tried YA before.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation:
Volume 1: The Pox Party
Volume 2: The Kingdom on the Waves
by M. T. Anderson

This 2-volume tale of a boy raised in pre-Revolutionary Boston as an experiment (only slowly to realize that he and his African-born mother are, in fact, slaves) is dark and complex, told by multiple characters and writing styles in 18th century English. From a boyhood of violin and Greek lessons, to
betrayal, escape and counter-revolution, Octavian's life is stunning and disturbing history and fiction.
For more, read this Washington Post interview with the author, or the New York Times reviews: Vol.1 & Vol. 2.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

High school junior Hannah Baker gives a narrated city tour on 13 cassette tapes. On this tour are locations of events, both small and large, that led Hannah to her decision to kill herself a few weeks before the story opens. Fellow junior Clay Jenson is listening to the tapes and wondering why he is among the 13 people on Hannah's list to receive them. For anyone who works with or parents teenagers, 13 Reasons Why shows how the accumulation of hurts, bullying, petty behaviour and thoughtlessness can push a seemingly ok teen over the suicide brink.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

A fast-paced, snarky, funny, educational, subversive diatribe against Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, Internet censorship and lots of other things. In the wrong place at the wrong time (and skipping school, no less), 17-year-old Marcus is arrested and interrogated for days as a suspected terrorist. When he's abruptly released into the police state that had been San Francisco, Marcus uses his hacking talents and an old Xbox to create an alternate Internet, rallying teens across the city to action, and ultimately bringing down Homeland Security. When Big Brother starts watching, Little Brother stares right back.

Doctorow is a novelist, Creative Commons proponent, and co-editor of the popular BoingBoing weblog.
Little Brother has been used as the base for at least one secondary school course on civil liberties and tech literacy. Here's the New York Times review of Little Brother.

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes and almost immediate climate change occur when an asteriod collision permanently alters the orbit of the moon. Miranda's journal captures her Pennsylvania family's first year of transition to a new world -- a year of no electricity, sporadic communication, dwindling medical care and rising famine. A companion book, The Dead and the Gone (review), is equally powerful.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Miles goes off to boarding school looking for Rabelais' "Great Perhaps." His quest shifts to "Why" after his close friend, the magnetic, enigmatic, elusive Alaska, is killed (or kills herself) in a drunken car crash. A coming-of-age novel that I won't compare to (but which is possibly as good as) any.

John Green is an author to watch, not to mention smart, funny and tech-savvy. He also has a blog (start with this speech he gave to ALAN), a one-year-videoblog
with his brother Hank (Brotherhood 2.0), where they pioneered the word "nerdfighter."

More fiction and non-fiction titles to come . . . stay tuned.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Recently Read:
A Bunch of Boy Books

I know, it's not so cool to tag a novel a "girl book" or a "boy book," but go ahead and see who checks out the Princess Diaries or Twilight series, and who checks out Alex Rider books, and draw your own conclusions :-)

So I just read three new YA novels in a row with smart teenage guy characters working with universal teenage guy stuff -- friends, girls and parents. Each one has its own spin, and I recommend them all.

How Ya Like Me Now? is the latest novel from Brendan Halpin, author of Donorboy (a JH Reading Bowl book). It's about two cousins, Eddie and Alex, who end up sharing a room, school and a family, and become friends. Since his dad died, Eddie's been raising himself in the middle class suburbs while his mom kills her sorrow with OxyContin. DFCS enters the picture, Eddie moves in with Aunt Lily, Uncle Brian and smart, smooth, slacker Alex, and starts school at the decidedly different Francis Abernathy Center for Urban Education. On the wierd side, FA-CUE is an experimental school based on a business model (they have a CEO instead of a principle). On the difficult side, Eddie is going from an all-white school to being one of a tiny minority, and Alex isn't helping the transition much. On the plus side, at CUE, kids want to look at your A+ test, not beat you up for it. It's cool to be smart. Girls like it, too.

Sure, Eddie learns to fit in and be a regular kid. Alex starts to see that "reaching your full potential" (aka, "making As") feels pretty good. And you'll like how Eddie gets comfortable in his cool white dork skin, with lines like "Yes, I will now discontinue my fronting . . . you may or may not be aware, I am the mack. Kelvin pronounced it so."

Jennifer Bradbury's Shift is also about high school buddies changing their lives. Chris and Win, also known as chrisandwin, have been like twins since 4th grade, except blue-collar Chris has loving, almost over-attentive parents, while wealthy Win's parents are either controlling, disappointed or have forgotten him altogether.

They put together a plan to ride cross-country, from West Virginia to Seattle, after graduation. As usual, Chris does most of the work while Win does most of the talking, flirting and whining. Over a couple of thousand miles, Chris gets totally irritated with his buddy, so when Win rides off and leaves him on the side of the road in Montana, Chris finishes the trip on his own, goes home to start Georgia Tech, and figures "good riddance." At least until the FBI shows up.

When did the shift in their friendship happen? Did their lives shift for the better, or out of control? What happened to Win?

The final novel of the bunch is Unwind, by sci-fi/fantasy writer Neal Shusterman (Everlost, Full Tilt, Dread Locks). In this America, the pro-life/pro-choice factions have finally settled their differences and come to a workable compromise for both sides. Abortion is forbidden, and every conceived child is protected by law. However, if by the age of 13 a child isn't working out for the parents, they can choose to retroactively abort, or Unwind, the kid. Unwound kids don't die, really, it's just that 100% of their parts are "harvested" and sent off as transplants. They live on, sort of, in lots of other people.

Connor is sixteen when his parents sign the Unwind order. Anger and impulsivity work in his favor when he runs away, causes a huge traffic accident, becomes a legend and finds fellow Unwinds Risa and Lev, each being sent to "Harvest Camp" for different reasons. What happens to Connor and his fellow Unwinds as they desperately try to save their lives, will make you think about parents and teens, growing up and making mistakes, and where progress in medicine might take us. If you liked House of the Scorpion, Unwind is a great book for you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2 Things I Bet You Didn't Know You Could Do . . .

on Surpass Web Safari, the Paideia Library's online catalog.

1) Post your own Book Reviews

Love your summer reading choices? Want to recommend Reading Bowl books to others?? The page for every item in the catalog has a place for you to write and post a review.

Search for an item

• Scroll down on the page until you see Patron Reviews.
Posted reviews (if there are any yet) will display, along with a link for you to post your own.

• Complete the review form and submit it.
After one of the librarians approves the review, it'll appear on the item's page for everyone to see.

2) Check Your Account Online

Just like the big libraries!

• First you'll need to contact one of the librarians to get your initial login password (you'll be able to change it later)

• Go to Surpass Web Safari and click on the Login link at the bottom of the left sidebar. Enter your name (or your library card number if you know it) and password.

• When you're successfully logged in, you will see your name next to the Log Out Link in the horizontal purple bar across the top of the screen.

• You can now change your password, check what items you have checked out, and renew any overdue items. Most items have a renewal limit of 2 times.

Like these features? Let us know! Have any trouble with them, or have any suggestions for more cool stuff? Let us know that too!

I hope to hear from you soon.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recently Read:
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Maybe you've heard the story about the young man who stopped to help an unpopular, geeky classmate pick up a bunch of books he'd dropped on a Friday afternoon? Turns out, the lonely high schooler had just cleared out his locker and was on his way home to kill himself. That single act of kindness changed the teen's mind, he lived to grow and prosper, and become one of the nation's most highly respected minds.

Thirteen Reasons Why is the story of the other choice -- what happens when seemingly unconnected actions build into a series, and no single act of kindness appears to alter a lonely teen's chosen way out? Hannah Baker, in a voice clear and strong, takes classmate Clay Jensen on an audiotape tour of their hometown, and tells us exactly why she committed suicide a few weeks before the novel begins.

Clay has had a crush on Hannah for a long time. He wanted to ask her out, he got a job just so he could be near her, they even made out at a party once -- he was a perfect gentleman and still doesn't understand what happened that night. So when a box of cassette tapes arrives at his door, he can't figure out why he's on Hannah's list. What did he do to her?? Thirteen tapes, thirteen people, thirteen reasons why Hannah gave up on herself and life.

What have you done, or not done, that's a part of somebody else's pain? Can you fix it? Will you get another chance? Will Clay?

You might also want to read:

Nelson, Richard E.
The power to prevent suicide : a guide for teens helping teens / Richard E. Nelson and Judith C. Galas ;

Cobain, Bev, 1940-
When nothing matters anymore : a survival guide for depressed teens / by Bev Cobain ; edited by Eliz

A guide to understanding and coping with depression, discussing the different types, how and why the condition begins, how it may be linked to substance abuse or suicide, and how to get help.

Mayfield, Sue.
Drowning Anna / Sue Mayfield.

After being befriended by the most popular girl in her new school, the brainy and shy Anna is puzzled when their warm friendship descends into cruelty and violence.

Glenn, Mel.
Split image : a portrait in poems / Mel Glenn.

A series of poems reflect the thoughts and feelings of various people--students, the librarian, parents, the principal, and others--about the seemingly perfect Laura Li and her life inside and out of Tower High School.

Freymann-Weyr, Garret, 1965-
Stay with me / by Garret Freymann-Weyr.

When her sister kills herself, sixteen-year-old Leila goes looking for a reason and, instead, discovers great love, her family's true history, and what her own place in it is.

Fields, Terri, 1948-
After the death of Anna Gonzales / Terri Fields.

Poems written in the voices of forty-seven people, including students, teachers, and other school staff, record the aftermath of a high school student's suicide and the preoccupations of teen life.

Corrigan, Eireann, 1977-
You remind me of you : a poetry memoir / by Eireann Corrigan.

Autobiographical poems recount events in a teenager's life, including her battles with eating disorders, her time in treatment facilities, and the suicide of her boyfriend.

Now Showing:
Face Jugs by JH Artists

From art teacher Joe Cillo:

"The face jugs were created by my 8th Grade Art Foundations class. We talked about local families who have continued this clay tradition in North Georgia and referred to the book Brothers in Clay from our library.

Some History

Between 1810 and 1865, an abundance of functional pottery was produced in the remote Edgefield Potteries in South Carolina and sold to neighboring counties and states. Edgefield Potteries was worked in part by artisan slaves who turned the pots, pushed the wheels, carried the pottery and loaded the kilns. In their free time, some of the artisans made pottery of their own choice. Many of them chose to make jugs and pots now known as Face Vessels. These were often stoneware jugs modeled in the shape of human faces. They were most often alkaline glazed stoneware in simple, earthy tones. Though there are many gaps in historical data regarding the making, use and meaning of the face vessel pottery, there is no doubt that the vessels were original, functional artistic expressions of the African slave culture of the time. This all adds to the mystery of possible deeper meaning of the Face Vessels in the slave culture.

Few of the skilled potters who made Face Vessels have been identified by name and their inspiration for making face vessels is really unknown. Researchers speculate that the vessels may have had religious or burial significance, or that they reflect the complex responses of people attempting to live and maintain their personal identities under cruel and often difficult conditions.
Face vessels have been found along the routes of the Underground Railroad and on gravesites, both indicating how highly they were valued and how closely connected they were with the enslaved African American’s own culture.

Come see all 26 of these amazing works of art -- on display now in the Paideia Junior High and High School Library!

A few of the other books on African American art and artists in the Paidiea Library:


Bearing witness :contemporary works by African American women artists


Patton, Sharon F.
African-American art /


Freeman, Roland L., 1936-
A communion of the spirits :
African-American quilters, preservers, and their stories /


Ittmann, John W.
Dox Thrash : an African American master printmaker rediscovered /


The quilts of Gee's Bend /

Saturday, October 18, 2008

YA Author Alex Sanchez at Paideia

Novelist Alex Sanchez (Rainbow Boys trilogy, So Hard to Say, The God Box and others) spent yesterday morning with Junior High and High School students. The day started at 8:15 am with a talk in the Black Box to three JH classes (M&G, J&O, & J&T). He was introduced to the group by a huge fan, a JH student who has read all six of Alex's books and everything else the library owns in the gay and lesbian fiction category!

Alex anchors his talks with e-mails he's received from teens who have been supported, inspired or encouraged by his characters and stories, and weaves in his own story of growing up and coming out to his family. In a small group session with Junior High students, he talked at length about writing, how he writes, and about truth, fiction and life.
Writing fiction is about emotional honesty. It requires you to dig deep into your heart and find what's true. If you can do that, your writing will connect with others.
Alex spoke to our older students in a High School assembly. This talk incorporated many of the same stories and ideas, but was somewhat different in its focus.
Homophobic comments are like papercuts. Each one hurts a little, but it's not a big deal. At school, five, ten, twenty times every day - that's what is happening to a gay teen's heart.
While many of the students were open to and eager for his message, there are always a few students for whom gay and lesbian lives and dignity are difficult and uncomfortable topics. If our guests were only preaching to the choir, though, there would be no need to bring them.

Alex's visit connected on three levels -- as a writer, as a gay man who writes about gay teens, and as a Mexican-American writer. Teachers who continued the conversation in classes after the assembly found that this author visit was spoke deeply to many students, each in a different way, and all very powerfully.

Thank you Alex Sanchez, and thank you to all at Paideia who supported and sponsored this author visit!

For more information on the author visit

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"I Should Have Been a Librarian"

Well, duh!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Architectural Doghouses in the Library!

Every spring, each student in M & D's eight-&-nine year-old class chooses an architect to research. The final project includes a research notebook, a display board, and a doghouse designed in the style of the chosen artist. The best part is that the library gets to display the projects for several weeks!

This year the Paideia Library has the following architects "in the doghouse." Come see them all!

Mies van der Rohe
Julia Morgan
I.M. Pei
Philip Johnson
Kevin Roche
Richard Neutra
Antonio Gaudi
Arata Isozaki
Zaha Hadid
Aldo Rossi
Kenzo Tange
Leila Ross Wilburn
Christian de Port Zampare

Luis Barragan
Richard Meier
J. Neel Reid
Renzo Piano
Le Corbusier
Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron
Sir Norman Foster
Mario Botta
Frank Lloyd Wright
Hans Hollein
Santiago Calatrava

Monday, February 18, 2008

Python Picks Podcast #1:
Servant of the Shard

Last school year, we tried to launch a series of podcast booktalks. I made a few, and managed to recruit one student (an actor, dancer, martial arts student and all-around brave soul) to create a few others. It was a fun learning experience, but hasn't quite taken flight. I hate for all that hard work to be forgotten, so I've figured out how to embed the files into this site for others to hear.

Click the "play" arrow on the controls above to listen to the premiere student-created Python Pick, Servant of the Shard, a fantasy epic by R. A. Salvatore. Comments and feedback would be fantastic!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tutorial: How to Post a Book Review

This is my first attempt at creating a tutorial for the cool features on our Surpass WebSafari catalog. It's related to the Book A Month Challenge I'm featuring in the library this year (more on that later). The video's a bit rough, but it's a start. Play it and let me know how it works for you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Non-Fiction Monday:
Grief Girl: My True Story

Last night Dad told me they were crossing the road to go to a fruit stand when a speeding tow truck came out of nowhere and hit them.

Australian teen Erin Vincent was fourteen when she was half-orphaned on October 23, 1983. Only half on that day; her father survived the accident but suddenly died exactly one month later, never having left the hospital.

The three Vincent children, 18-year-old Tracy, 3-year-old Trent, and Erin, along with Tracy's boyfriend Chris, work to keep what remains of their family together. They are supported by a few neighborhood friends, but abandoned by many more. Tracy shoulders the parental role, Trent's the child, and Erin is somewhere in the middle. Tension and resentment builds between the sisters, their mother's parents (an altogether unpleasant couple) initiate a battle for custody of Trent, and their favorite uncle turns out be robbing the trust fund. As you can tell, Grief Girl is no rosy "how we bounced back" story. It's real.

Written in the present tense, there's a raw immediacy to the story that puts the reader inside Erin Vincent's life, and it's not a happy place to be. She's sure the accident is her fault, for thinking about it during angry times. There is virtually no emotional support for Erin, much of what is offered, she rejects as insincere, and what she finds, institutional powers try to forbid. For close to three years, Erin to bounces around inside her grief -- she's angry and sarcastic, she's disconnected, she pushes people away, and she's then alone, longing for connection. "I wish I could talk to someone who's been through it, someone who 'gets it.'" The writing is honest, she doesn't gloss over parental flaws -- her mom favored Tracy, and her dad sometimes had been physically abusive.

I'm not sure whether it's under-identification, or over-"getting it," but I finished the book feeling only so-so. This doesn't mean I don't recommend it. I do -- it's a real and powerful story, and everything that Erin went through speaks to the universal desire to connect, to be known and accepted. Erin's longing to find someone who "gets it" also expresses a need to find someone who "gets her." Everyone, in good times and bad, can identify with that.

- the
first chapter of Grief Girl at HarperCollins

- Erin talks about why she wrote Grief Girl & reads an excerpt
- biography, documentary, performance art, homage: a book trailer by Erin's husband Adam Knott

Grief Girl: My True Story was a 2008 Nominee for ALA's Best Books for Young Adults

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Author Visit a Big Success!

Last Thursday, January 31, the Paideia Library brought Young Adult author Alan Gratz to school for a day of teaching and discussing his path to becoming a successful YA writer. He had a fully packed day, meeting with 4 high school and junior high classes, and again with aspiring high school writers during lunch.

The day started with an all-male high school literature class, where Alan discussed writing the father-son relationship, and the all-male world of Samurai Shortstop. The discussion was really rolling when the period ended; they could have gone on for much longer.

In two junior high lit classes, Alan’s “author talk” discussed his life as a writer, including two rejected early novels, a stint as a scriptwriter for a true-crime TV series, and how he developed from a guy who hated research into one who has written meticulously researched, outlined and revised historical fiction. Alan showed a photograph of a man in traditional kimono and sandals, throwing out the first pitch in the 1915 Japanese high school baseball championships. It captured his imagination, and Samurai Shortstop became the story of the people in the photo.

In another JH class, Alan led a writing workshop in which students created the story of a photograph -- who's in the picture? where are they? why are they there? -- an idea that the teachers have turned into an autobiography writing exercise, using students’ own family pictures.

This was the first time I’ve planned and coordinated an author visit, and it was as stress-free as an author visit could possibly be. I hope they’ll all be as successful -- for the students, teachers, author and your friendly librarian.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Reading Across Borders #6/
Non-Fiction Monday:
After the Wall

After The Wall is a quick-reading trip into the mysterious territory of communist East Germany, in the years just before and after the end of the Berlin Wall. Your tour guide is a young German woman - who until 1989 was a typical young East German teen. When Jana Hensel was 13 years and 3 months old, her childhood ended. The Wall fell, her country was no more, and an entire nation's identity as "East Germans" disappeared overnight.

First published in Germany in 2002, Zonenkinder was a smash best-seller, on the best-seller charts first in hardback, then in paperback, for over two years. The dislocation/disorientation she describes makes me think of someone born on February 29 - the birthday was real, the child is real, but the date vanishes. Unlike Leap Day birthdays, though, the GDR won't be back.

Feeling insecure and ill-at-ease compared to their better-dressed and worldlier fellow (former West German) Germans, Hensel and her peers tried hard to pass as "regular" Germans. The ease with with other Europeans moved through the Western world made them see what had been normal and everyday in the Eastern Bloc had been, in fact, very different from the world outside.

At the ripe old age of 25, Jana Hensel writes:
Now, when I look back on those years before the Wall fell and the whole world changed around us, it seems like a far-away, fairy-tale time. . . It's not easy for people my age -- the last generation of GDR kids -- to remember the old days, because back then we wanted nothing more for them to hurry up and end . . . Nothing remains of our childhood country -- which is of course exactly what everyone wanted -- and now that we're grown up and it's almost too late, I suddenly miss all the lost memories.
In many ways, Hensel's no different from most young adults, questioning identity and allegiance, and feeling nostalgic for the pre-responsibility life. Who am I? Where did I come from? Can I go back? For years they had wanted to be just German, and the wish was granted. For everyone who was once "East German," there is nowhere back to go.