Saturday, January 31, 2009

International Children's Digital Library

There was no Storytime this week due to inclement weather. Stay tuned next week for Library Gary's next Storytime report.

As with any normal American household, we get plenty of junk mail. Recently, we've been getting plenty of free magazines and even free subscriptions. So it was with great pleasure that the most recent issue of Family Fun (February 2009) has a brief article on the International Children's Digital Library.

This free site was quite amazing to me. While there may be a lack of mainstream books from the shelves of the bookstore, there are still plenty of books available to read. I think what I find most interesting is the fact that the books come from many, many countries. And the languages are just as diverse.

While the overall collection may not be that large, there's plenty to keep you busy for a bit. Even if you look at just the artwork.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Scourge of God by S. M. Stirling (review)

Title: The Scourge of God
Author: S. M. Stirling
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 450
Genre: Non-Fiction
Dewey Decimal: N/A
ISBN: 978-0-451-46228-2
Cost: $25.95

I've been a Stirling fan since Island in the Sea of Time came out in the late 90s. My fandom was renewed when Dies the Fire came out in 2004. But this is the first novel of his in the Nantucket/Emberverse series that I didn't enjoy that much (Conquistador wasn't a favorite either, but it was never part of this "Changed" land).

The first half was classic Stirling. Plenty of plot, characters, and action. The second half was a bit of a drag at times with sudden, geographic jumps. And the ending? Well, I don't want to ruin it, but it just didn't sit well with me.

I think the worst was the session of religious discussions that went completely over my head while Rudi's band was holed-up in the mountains. Maybe it was because it was a sudden jump from the oft-Wiccan heavy passages from previous novels, maybe it was the syntax of the speaker, maybe it was just me. But I muddled through it.

I was pleased to see that Rudi's band finally made it past the Rockies before ending up in Iowa on the banks of the Mississippi. And of course Rudi picked up some spare members for his journey east. At times it reminds me of how Jules Verne had each stereotype covered. What makes Stirling's work unique is that while each stereotype is covered, it's the stereotype that's different after the Change.

In the end, I'm disappointed in the ending and I think that will haunt me until I read the next book, The Sword of the Lady (due out in 2009). I could read the first six chapters free, but I'll hold off and let it settle a bit. I know I'm coming back to this series, but I think I need to get back to the books that started it all first. I know, I just know that Stirling will tie them together somehow.

*After some thought and another review of my notes, there are a few things I left out in my initial disappointment. We see the introduction of several new characters, such as BD and Virginia Kane. The religion of the CUT is fleshed out, which brings about some events that appear to be magic. While this is clearly our-world-but-changed (in 1998), magic has never really reared it's head. Call me a skeptic, but I'm still rooted in this "dimension." The chapters in the last book had more of a segue between them. Almost like conversations that carried on. I liked that but miss it. Chapters in this book end more on cliffhangers. And I do like that Mary and Ritva have some developing love interests. I think I like them better than Rudi. And what's up with the new Norse religion?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman (review)

Title: The Zookeeper's Wife
Author: Diane Ackerman
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 368
Genre: Non-Fiction
Dewey Decimal: 940.53 1835 Ack
ISBN: 978-0-393-06172-7
Cost: $0

With the movie Defiance out in theaters, the library has a mini-display of World War II themed books, specifically those involving Jews. As I passed by, I noticed a book I had already read, The Zookeeper's Wife.

This was a poignant story about a zookeeper and his wife surviving Poland during the Nazi invasion. While moments of the book are sad, it is by no means as sad and heart-wrenching as Elie Wiesel's Night. That book still haunts me.

Ackerman instead balances out the hardships with the life that carried on during the Nazi occupation. The passages were sad when the purges began and the ghettos sprang up, but there was hope yet when the zoo itself served as a haven for not only the animals, but also Jews and the Underground that tried to protect them.

I think what I enjoyed most was that this book covered a part of the war that I have never been too enthused about. Maybe it was the common misconception that the Jews were merely victims and never fought back or maybe it was the lack of media outlets turning the Jewish Underground into a source of romantic hero-worship that the American and English troops saw in movies and books. Either way, I enjoyed learning more about an area and a people that were clearly active in the fight against the Nazis.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Book News from around the Web

Corsair by Clive Cussler and Jack DuBrul is due to be released in March of 2009. While I was a fan of DuBrul's early work, he seems to have lost some talent by teaming up with Cussler.

A Jurrasic Park redux of sorts, How To Build a Dinosaur by Jack Horner and James Gorman, is due to be released in March of 2009. And no, this is NOT a fiction title.

Lamentation by Ken Scholes is stirring some buzz. I'll hold off until I can score a cheap or free copy before pronouncing judgement on its merits. Which means waiting until at least February 2009 when it's published. Unless someone has a spare copy? -hint-hint-

My wife is going to freak when she finds out that her 1980s-era idol turned 40. Last year! The good news is, Ringwald signed a new book deal.

Audio books are going DRM-free. Thank goodness!

Is Amazon releasing their new Kindle next week? Guess we'll need to wait to find out. But we do know they will be dropping certain e-book formats.

Did you know Superman was arrested for DWI? That's right, none other than Christopher Reeves was pulled over for driving while intoxicated with kryptonite.

Author Patrick Rothfuss comes up with an idea to reduce global warming all on his own. Learn how you can turn your "squirrel sauna" into a home-heating element.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 Award Winners

Newbery Medal
"The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman

Caldecott Medal
"The House in the Night," illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson

2010 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecturer
Kathleen T. Horning, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Cooperative Children's Book Center

(The Arbuthnot award honors an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children's literature, of any country, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site.)

Geisel Award
"Are You Ready to Play Outside?" written and illustrated by Mo Willems

(The Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year.)

Odyssey Award
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," written and narrated by Sherman Alexie

(The Odyssey Award will be awarded annually to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.)

Sibert Medal
"We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball" written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

(The Sibert Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year.)

Wilder Medal
Ashley Bryan

(The Wilder Medal honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.)


Monday, January 26, 2009

Combat and Survival - Volume 4

Title: Combat and Survival (Volume 4)
Author: H. S. Stuttman, Inc. Publishers
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 59
Genre: Non-Fiction
Dewey Decimal: 355.5 Com
ISBN: 0-87475-560-3
Cost: $0

We learn more and more everyday, and this series is proof of that. Did you know that the Mil Mi-24 Hind-D helicopter is 21.5 meters long? Neither did I, but now we both do. We also learn about the British military's SA-80, likely my third favorite assault rifle (after the P90 of Stargate fame and the Steyr Aug of Die Hard fame). Can't say as I've seen an SA-80 in a film though. And we learn more about survival in the wilds. Reminds me of a primitive Les Stroud.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gary at the Library

This week Library Dad met Library Daughter and Library Gary at the library for Storytime. The author that was due to appear rescheduled for sometime in February, so the theme was Bears.

If you've never been to Storytime, don't fret. Here's a blow-by-blow of what happened.

Pre-Game Warm-Up
Before Storytime, there's coloring. I'm not sure who enjoys it more, but Library Gary does have a knack for it. Library Daughter does a great job now of staying in the lines but still has some of the oddest color choices.

Get the wiggles out
Now, not The Wiggles that you see on TV kids, these are the wiggles in your pants. Those things that make you squirm around instead of siting still and paying attention. Once the wiggles were out, Miss Robin read Old Bear by Kevin Henkes.

Flannel Board
Next was a short story (more like a poem actually) that was told with little flannel bears on the flannel board. Next was a reading of Don’t Wake Up the Bear by Marjorie Dennis Murray. This one was my favorite.

Sing Song Sing
There was a little tune we sang about bears. The kids really enjoyed that one. Afterwards was the final story, Bear Feels Scared by Karma Wilson.

Storytime finished with a craft that was, obviously, bear-related. There were pre-cut bears for the kids to color and glue clothes onto.

Round Up
All up there were about twenty to twenty-five people (parents and children combined). There were also some grand-parents in attendance. In fact I ran into the mother of a childhood neighbor (and fellow high school alum). It was nice to catch-up on things for a few minutes.

Checking Out
I did not get a list of the books checked out yet, but I think there was only one for Library Son and another Buster DVD for Library Daughter. It makes me feel good that she thinks about getting a book for him. Library Dad did check-out a few more titles, keep an eye peeled for their reviews. Assuming I can get to them of course.

Next week's theme is the Moon. And make sure you wear your outside/play clothes. I hear there will be painting!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Last Week to Vote!

That's right folks, it's the last week to vote and it's looking like A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb will be my next titles.

For that one person that voted for The Scourge of God by S. M. Stirling, not to worry, I'll be finishing it soon. I just couldn't wait until someone voted for it!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

News Bites From Around the Web

First, a big shout-out to Mark and Liz of My Favourite Books for helping local libraries in the UK. They have a wonderful competition going on.

For those that don't know, Abe Lincoln's 200th birthday will be approaching soon. No, I don't think he's still alive like Elvis, however there is a bit of a local link to Lincoln as John Wilkes Booth escaped through our area. Most interesting is Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson, a novel that HBO turned into a miniseries.

Could your kid's college book not be a book next semester? The University of Texas at Austin is pioneering with publisher Wiley to give students e-textbooks. While this style of e-book was unheard of when I was in college, I certainly would have enjoyed spending less of my money on books for class and more of my money on silly toys.

And while e-books would save on printing, overhead, and overall costs, you would have thought publishers would embrace this a little more considering the poor economy. How poor is the economy? Publisher's Weekly was able to confirm a minimum of 1,200 jobs lost in the publishing industry. Sounds like publishers will be reading weight-loss-for-business books for awhile.

Haven't had enough of the dour economic news? Try this on for size. Barnes & Noble just cut 100 employees. Still don't believe me about the Borders/Barnes & Noble merger? Keep watching.

An interesting list of books from 2008. My favorites are:

As we can see here, young adult fantasy is hitting it big. Combine that with Jim C. Hines' latest report on how much money can be made overseas and things look promising again (better start submitting Mr. Zeleznik).

Want to know what our President reads? Check out this New York Times article to see what classics he reads.

NetGalley, my new-but-not-so-new source for galleys (aka ARCs or Advanced Reader Copies) is mentioned in this article. How interesting that people don't like the idea of e-galleys (or e-books) but they've continually been proven to work. Especially when they're free. Don't believe me that e-books work? Then check out this article.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Field Trip Today

That's right folks, Library Dad will be joining Library Daughter and our field correspondent Library Gary on-site for today's Storytime. Stay tuned for photos and more!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Alexander Cipher by Will Adams (review)

Title: The Alexander Cipher
Author: Will Adams
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 337 (in PDF)
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: unknown
ISBN: 0446404683
Cost: $0 (free through a Galley source)

So I mentioned this book before when I was in the process of reading it. Well, I'm done. And I want more.

Sure, sure, this author is writing something that will clearly end up in the part of the library as Dirk Pitt, Clive Cussler, and Jack DuBrul. And while most everything in the plot was fairly predictable, there was an oddly pleasant inclusion of small characters. Characters that didn't steal the limelight too much, but helped push the story forward. My favorite was the little girl who was sick with cancer. Yes, even she played a part in the quest to find Alexander's tomb.

Some of the jumping back and forth was a bit too much for me at times. About two-thirds of the way through the novel it really hopped around. I mean like a meth addict on a trampoline. But the action was ever present enough to keep you hooked through out the plot.

With that said, keep an eye out for this novel from Will Adams. It was published across the pond first in November of 2007, but should be appearing on our shores until March of 2009.

His next novel, The Exodus Quest, is already available in the UK, but won't be here until much later (I'd guess Spring of 2010).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Combat and Survival - Volume 3

Title: Combat and Survival (Volume 3)
Author: H. S. Stuttman, Inc. Publishers
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 59
Genre: Non-Fiction
Dewey Decimal: 355.5 Com
ISBN: 0-87475-560-3
Cost: $0

I know, I know, I've been doing a lot of these. But I intend to do one a week until I'm done with the series. Which leaves us with Volume 3. We have more self-defense, more G.I. Joe inspiring illustrations, and instructions on how to attack using combat helicopters. My favorite is the eye-poking.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gary at the Library

Library Gary returned to the library this week with Library Daughter to enjoy the week's theme of "Big and Little." Books read included Eddie Longpants by Mireille Levert, Big Shoe, Little Shoe by Denys Cazet, One Dark Night by Lisa Wheeler, and A Closer Look by Mary McCarthy.

This week's craft was an elephant mask. When Library Daughter put her mask on and asked me to pick her up, I gave her a look of shock and said I wasn't strong enough to pick up an elephant.

"But I'm a baby elephant" she said.
I replied "Well, even baby elephants are big."
"But Bapa Gary said they only weigh like five hundred pounds and that's like the size of a small car" she pleaded.
"But sweetie, I can't pick up a car" I concluded.

That's right, Library Dad can lift a large stack of books, but not a small car.

Library Gary and Library Daughter also did some coloring and brought home stickers.

Library Daughter renewed the following books this week:

Title: Sleepy in Seattle
Author: N/A
Illustrator: N/A
Discs: 1
Genre: Juvenile DVD
Dewey Decimal: DVD 917.97 Sle
ISBN: 1-59375-688-7
Cost: $0

Library Daughter checked out the following books this week:

Title: Big David, Little David
Author: S. E. Hinton
Illustrator: Alan Daniel
Pages: 30
Genre: Easy Reader
Dewey Decimal: E Hin
ISBN: 0-385-31093-5
Cost: $0

We haven't read this one yet, but it looks interesting. I mean, it has sharks in the bathtub, right?

Title: First 1 2 3
Author: Usborne Publishing
Illustrator: Stephanie Jones
Pages: 10
Genre: Board Book
Dewey Decimal: Board Book 334
ISBN: 0-7945-1219-4
Cost: $0

Library Daughter brought this one home for Library Son. He didn't seem too interested in it, but liked turning the pages.

Title: Where is Boots?
Author: Kiki Thorpe
Illustrator: Steve Savitsky
Pages: 16
Genre: Easy Reader
Dewey Decimal: E Tho
ISBN: 0-689-84775-0
Cost: $0

A simple Dora story, but this one has flaps. And as the title implies, we're looking for Boots.

Title: Diego Saves the Sloth
Author: Alexis Romay
Illustrator: Art Mawhinney
Pages: 22
Genre: Easy Reader
Dewey Decimal: E Rom
ISBN: 978-1-4169-3470-7
Cost: $0

Diego always saves an animal. This time it's the slow moving sloth. I wonder what his rescue pack will turn into?

Title: Franklin Has A Sleepover
Author: Paulette Bourgeois
Illustrator: Brenda Clark
Pages: 31
Genre: Easy Reader
Dewey Decimal: E Bou
ISBN: 0-590-61759-1
Cost: $0

Franklin has a sleepover with Bear. Any sleepover is incomplete without making a fort.

Next week's theme will be Pets.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Clone Wars by Karen Traviss

Title: The Clone Wars
Author: Karen Traviss
Illustrator: N/A
Discs: 7
Genre: Young People - Audio
Dewey Decimal: YP CD F Tra Clo
ISBN: 978-0-7393-7681-2
Cost: $0

Traviss (that's with two "s" on the end) has written some great Star Wars novels in the past so I fully expect this one to be just as good. She's delved into the Legacy of the Force series as well as her own Republic Commando series, both times with good attention to military detail. So while I haven't listened to (or read) this particular book, I'm sure it will be at least a decent listen (or read). And the artwork on the CDs is great too, if that helps you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Publisher's Weekly News Roundup

A new law could impact the price of books as well as what can be shipped to libraries. Does this mean prices will go up even more? Could libraries, schools, and bookstores try to recoup their expenses by charging a Lead Testing Fee?

A new kid on the comic block looks to diversify. Sounds fun to me, but I'd really like that Singapore investor to invest in my bank account right now.

This bookstore at the University of Texas was doomed to failure. Even a graduate of a small, state university knows the heaviest foot-traffic is in the center of campus.

Some company is paying another company to distribute e-books. Welcome to to three years ago. Meanwhile, iTunes had some issue with their e-book applications. Oops.

I'll predict it here and now. Borders and Barnes & Noble will merge in the next two years. Don't believe me? Read between the lines on some of these articles.

Want to read about a narcoleptic detective? Then check out The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay.

No? Then check out a more positive story as my previous employer (Books-A-Million) had decent numbers compared to competitors Borders and Barnes & Noble. Seems to point toward me previous prediction coming true.

Nope, I'm still not done with the Borders and Barnes & Noble merger. You can check this out to see more details behind my theory. Looks like Borders has some work cut out for them.

And I'll wrap up with an interesting link between genealogy and publishing. I knew fiction sold well, but who knew that fiction masquerading as non-fiction could cause such a stir.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Combat and Survival - Volume 2

Title: Combat and Survival (Volume 2)
Author: H. S. Stuttman, Inc. Publishers
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 60
Genre: Non-Fiction
Dewey Decimal: 355.5 Com
ISBN: 0-87475-560-3
Cost: $0

Highlights from this volume include blowing up bridges and more self-defense. To this day I still remember how to blow-up a bridge, just from this one little picture. Not that I plan on blowing any up or anything. We also start to see more about survival. But more on that later.

Monday, January 12, 2009

For Sale: Audio Book Publisher

Cost: $1.14 million

That's right, Inc. is reporting that Made For Success is looking to sell their company. They publish motivational and self-help DVDs and CDs. They also sell their works online through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes (and of course their own site).

The price includes over 100 CD titles, 500 DVD titles, 22 domain names, 2 trademarks, and a projected gross revenue of $275,000 for 2008 (down from $372,455 in 2007).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gary at the Library

Our special correspondent Library Gary reports in from the library on this week's Storytime.

This week's theme was Magic with readings from The Magic Hat by Mem Fox, Cinderella's Rat by Susan Meddaugh, and Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola. There were also some finger puppets and a craft! The craft this week was a rabbit in a magic hat.

Simply cut out a top hat form black construction paper. Then carefully cut a slit in the brim part for the bunny to come out of.

To make the bunny, print and cut out on white paper. Color as desired then tape a popsicle to the back. Hold the top hat upside down and your rabbit will come out!

In the end, Library Daughter came home with the following:

Title: Sleepy in Seattle
Author: N/A
Illustrator: N/A
Discs: 1
Genre: Juvenile DVD
Dewey Decimal: DVD 917.97 Sle
ISBN: 1-59375-688-7
Cost: $0

I've not seen the show yet, but I've seen plenty of Arthur and Buster's Postcards to know this is a very educational and fun series. Buster goes out into the real world and learns new things while real people interact with him (he's usually off camera, but he'll show up in a cartoon now and then).

Title: The Blue Door
Author: David McPhail
Illustrator: John O'Connor
Pages: 32
Genre: Easy Reader
Dewey Decimal: E McP
ISBN: 1-55041-647-2
Cost: $0

We haven't read this one yet, but it's a story about a fox and a rabbit.

Title: Maisy Goes to the Hospital
Author: Lucy Cousins
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 26
Genre: Easy Reader
Dewey Decimal: E Cou
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3377-6
Cost: $0

Library Mom and I swear Library Daughter has this book, but after much searching it couldn't be found. Either way, we've read it several times. Maisy breaks her leg, goes to the hospital, and makes a new friend.

Title: Franklin's Baby Sister
Author: Paulette Bourgeois
Illustrator: Brenda Clark
Pages: 30
Genre: Easy Reader
Dewey Decimal: E Bou
ISBN: 0-439-20378-3
Cost: $0

This is another frequent flyer around here as Library Dad has read it enough he made up his own words last night instead of reading it verbatim. Franklin is anxious to meet his new baby sister, but she won't be born until Spring. When she finally arrives, he gets to pick his sister's name.

Next week's theme will be Big and Little.