Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Interview: Danielle and Delco Library Notes

This was homework for Sheila Ruth's Kidlitcon session on CSS and HTML, but it was also a chance to highlight a brand-new blogger. This is one of my favorite parts of Kidlitcon, discovering new or new-to-me bloggers and what they have to say.

Who are you and what is your blog?

I am Danielle Guardiola and I work at Delco Primary School as the school librarian. My blog, Delco Library Notes, is for teachers, parents, and kids, to showcase what the library is doing. I review books and talk about the skills that the kids are learning.

What got you into blogging?

I was exposed to social media resources during library school. I saw many early-grade/picture book blogs and thought I could do this as a way to showcase what the school library is doing for kids.

What do you hope to learn at KidlitCon?

I'm hoping to acquire practical tips on increasing the blog's reach, how to blog better, and how to keep myself consistently blogging.

After the conference was all over, I caught up with Danielle again to see how she'd liked her first Kidlitcon. If you notice a difference in the interview, it's because I just listened and took notes for the first section, but this second section I actually recorded and transcribed later.

So what did you learn from KidlitCon?

I think I got a big focus of what I want to start with my blog. Because the one that I have right now is for school, and the purpose of that one is just to inform parents of what we do in the library. But besides that, I want to start one where I'm reviewing literature. I've noticed a big need in bilingual books, that we sometimes don't find good quality bilingual books that are available for students. I've talked to several people who said they thought I could be a really good resource, so I think I found a really good focus. That's one major thing, and just a lot of practical tips on how to reach out to other people, how to stay connected with one another and just also be able to go to the Kidlitosphere website and find as much support as possible. That session about the burnout, I was like oh god, it's good I'm hearing this now.

Yeah! Well, it's something that happens to a lot of people . . .

[It's good] to know that you're not always going to get a lot of responses, that sometimes you're writing for yourself, and that's okay. So overall there was a wealth of information, but those are the three big things: a focus, a community, and a sense of a place where I can go for help, and just not to get overwhelmed.

Much thanks to Danielle, who let herself be interviewed (twice!) in the middle of what must have been a couple of dizzying days. Visit Delco Library Notes and say hi!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

KidlitCon 13

Every year, I set aside some vacation and make my way to KidlitCon, wherever it may be. It's been in D.C., Portland, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Seattle, and now Austin.

Other bloggers have done lovely roundups of the different sessions. Since I live-tweeted most of the sessions (see #kidlitcon13 for everybody's tweets) I won't attempt to be comprehensive, especially since the sessions aren't my primary reason for being there. They're useful and informative, don't get me wrong. The session on blogger burnout in particular gave me a lot to chew on, as did the session on diversity. I got to sharpen my tech skills and contemplate the future of blogging.

But my reason for being there was the people. Walking into the pre-con get-together and immediately getting a big hug from Pam of MotherReader, being able to say hello to Lee Wind and Jen Robinson for the first time in years, hanging out with Kelly Jensen of Stacked and Leila "Bookshelves of Doom" Roy and discussing the horrendous addiction that is Candy Crush (seriously, so many of us seemed to be playing it this weekend!), meeting Kim (also of Stacked), Sherry Early of Semicolon, and brand-new blogger Danielle of Delco Library Notes, and that was just in the first day! I also got to room with Sheila Ruth from Wands and Worlds, and dine with Charlotte Taylor and Melissa Fox of Booknut and Sarah Stevenson of Finding Wonderland, as well as many others that my brain is just a little too fried to remember.

I am not a person who loves meeting people, you have to understand. But I always, always love meeting people at KidlitCon, because I know without being told--by the fact of their presence--that they are kindred spirits, a term brought up in the future of blogging session. They love something that I love, and that's a pretty steady foundation. These folks do it for the same reason I do it; for the love of it. Some of us have been doing this for years; some have just started.

We all come at it from different directions. Our keynote speaker, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Lee Wind both discussed the diversity within ourselves. Sitting in a room with an archaeologist, a computer programmer, a film critic, many parents, and a number of librarians, I completely understood that! But we've all got that in common, our shared love of reading, of kidlit, and of spreading that love as far and wide as possible.

Thanks to the organizers, Pam, Jen, Sarah,  Kim, Kelly, and Leila. Also, Tanita from Finding Wonderland and Jackie of Interactive Reader (who both deserve some kind of award for putting in all this work and not even being able to make it!) for another lovely year.

Next year, the West Coast! Will you be there?

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

KidlitCon Ahoy!

This weekend I'll be on my way to KidlitCon, to hang out with friends old and new. Keep an eye on this space, and on Twitter under mosylu and the hashtag #kidlitcon13. I might actually say a few things. 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Book: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Published: 2013
Source: ARC acquired from publisher at ALA 2013

It's like the start of an urban legend. Tana Bach wakes up in a bathtub after a party so wild she doesn't remember most of it. But it's not her blood spattering the house. It's everyone else's. In the rush of the party, somebody forgot basic precautions and left a window open, letting the vampires in.

Among the mutilated bodies, she finds her ex-boyfriend, Aiden, tied to a bed. He’s going Cold, but not in the dead sense. It’s what they call someone who has been infected, but isn’t yet a vampire. You can survive going Cold, they say, but it will be up to eighty-eight days of craving blood past the point of madness. The safest place for him right now is Coldtown, the quarantined portion of the city where vampires reign supreme. But first they have to get there.

She also finds Gavriel, a fully-fledged vampire who agrees to help them in exchange for getting him safely to Coldtown ahead of the vampires pursuing him. Now Tana’s on the road with a stone-cold killer, an obnoxious ex that she has to keep human, and oh, she might be infected herself.

For me the best part of this book (besides the gritty toughness of Tana herself) was the world-building. How would the world react to vampires coming out the shadows and chomping down? Well, this one reacts with websites and Twitter feeds, and, naturally, reality shows. There are also border guards at Coldtown and PSAs on the TV. Coldtown itself is a far cry from the reality shows. And of course, there’s the nasty and twisted world of vampire politics, which is as classically Byzantine as every other vampire novel ever has promised.

In some ways this book is guilty of the things it's trying to undermine about vampires. There is a sensual glamor about her vampires, blood soaked as they are. But it’s that balance that makes this book (and vampires themselves, I guess) so intoxicating. They are stone cold killers with a sheen of glamor overlying the fangs, and to your own horror, you find yourself sympathizing with their ageless pain, at least until they start ripping throats out.

Lush, horrifying, gritty, and powerful, this is Holly Black at her very Holly-Black-est.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Reading Roundup: October 2013

By the Numbers
Teen: 10
Tween: 8
Children: 9

Review Copies: 8
Swapped: 2
Library: 15

Teen: Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin
This prequel/sequel to Impossible was in some ways awfully hard to read. Fenella and her quest are hard to support, but I got sucked in by seeing her brought back to life by the love of her family.
Tween: Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel
More of the American Fairy trilogy! This time Callie's caught in the glamorous web of Old Hollywood, which is of course the natural place for the glamorous Seelie Court. Do we doubt that she can extricate herself? Answer: No. We do not.
Children: Well Wished by Franny Billingsley
While I enjoyed the riffing on Heidi, what I most enjoyed was the realism of the friendship at the core of this novel. Because honestly? They didn't like each other most of the time, but they were friends because they were each other's only option.

Because I Want To Awards
Most Troubling: Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow
On the one hand, I really liked the way this was put together, narratively and thematically. On the other, the hazy background of generic Native-American-ness, without reference to specific tribes, is troubling to me.
Most Realistic Ending: Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes
With her mother deported and her dad barely around, Gaby tries to find her own home. My notes: "Omigosh. How much do I love the realism in the way this shook out? A LOT. I love it A LOT." Without giving anything away, it was positive without being sugary or unrealistic.
Just Right for Third-Graders: Velcome by Kevin O'Malley
This book purports to be packed with spoooooky Halloween stories, but in reality are punny groaners that mid-elementary types will get a massive kick out of. Think of it as "Silly Stories to Tell in the Dark."