Category Archives: Conferences

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

Recommending books – to students, teachers, colleagues, friends, neighbors – is the bread and butter of any librarian worth her or his salt.  But as a librarian MOM, it’s a bit different.  Because Mom comes first, and not often will one’s child take mom’s advice – be it about slowing down on the slick grass or wearing a coat on a rainy day or trying a new title – without some resistance.  However, ‘resistance is futile’: this librarian mom doesn’t give up when it comes to books. My two children are starting to figure this out.  Case in point: James Nicol’s The Apprentice Witch.

At ALA in Orlando in June, I’d picked up a pre-release copy. Printed on 8×11 paper and bound by plastic combs, logic said that a book shared in such an early state must be exciting. After a quick read, the first person that came to mind was my daughter – this was similar to some of her favorite books.  But she was not interested in Mom’s opinion, even with a stellar booktalk.  So I tried a new tactic and started reading it aloud one night (this, by the way, is a great trick).  Within two chapters she was hooked, and so was my 7 year old son.  That night, they stayed up and she read aloud to him about Arianwyn and her “friends”.  She finished it less than a week later to rave review.  See for yourself.  🙂

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

summary & review by JMD, age 9

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol is a fascinating book to read. A young girl that is about 16 years of age named Arianwyn is becoming a witch, and according to schedule, every young girl that is her age that she can test to see if she can become a real witch. Everything seems to be going right when then something goes wrong… Arianwyn fails the test. Her punishment is to protect a small town, Lull, that Arianwyn soon finds out is a town with big problems.

I enjoyed reading The Apprentice Witch because there is a lot of magic and fantasy put into the book and those are things that I look for when I look at books. I recommend this book for ages 8 and up. Also, this book is for fans of the series Upside-Down Magic and Fairy Tale Reform School.

The Apprentice Witch is out July 25, 2017 in the US and released July 6, 2016 in the UK

And a little side note: It was serendipitous that I picked up this advance copy at Scholastic’s Chicken House reception. Chicken House is Scholastic’s publishing arm for titles originally published in the UK.  Little did I know at that time that I’d be moving to the UK!

 As seen at the 2017 London Book Fair at the Scholastic booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder

Does anyone else start reading a book by flipping to the author info page at the back to learn about a new writer?  Because I do.  Finding a way to connect with the author – from things we like to do to places we live – is part of my reader identity. This may be why I struggle to engage in ebooks…but that’s another post.

Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes

In Charlie & Mouse, the author page didn’t disappoint. Laurel Snyder lives in my childhood hometown of Atlanta, GA (though I’d love to ask her, “where in Atlanta?”, as GA folk usually live in a suburb – for me, Marietta). Even better, Emily Hughes is down the road from my new home in London on the shores of Brighton. These blurbs hooked me. Even better was the story they created together.

Siblings Charlie and Mouse star in four short, illustrated chapters showcasing an ideal life as a kid.  From waking up Mom in the early morning to conjuring up a plan to earn money to interacting with neighbors, these brothers are exactly what young readers need: a breath of reality in an overstimulating world. Snyder makes some lovely, forward-thinking choices in characterization: Mouse chooses to wear a pink tutu, their couple next door are Mr. Eric & Mr. Michael, and the boys themselves are mixed-race. These choices, though, are noticed almost as an afterthought, as the story’s engaging plot line and characterization are strong.  Add in the full-color illustrations from Emily Hughes and this story is a winner for sharing as a read-aloud or independent reading. The boys truly shine with the addition of their grandfather in the sequel, Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy. Two worthy additions to the newly-expanding transitional reader market, this is a must-purchase for all libraries.  Share with ages 4-10.

Charlie & Mouse releases April 11, 2017.  Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy releases October 3, 2017.

Two of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Chronicle/Abrams booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

2017 London Book Fair: a librarian’s recap

Last week was the 2017 London Book Fair.  The conference center where it was held was a mere 20 minute walk from my temp flat AND the cost was only £20 for three days. Having read their website, I wasn’t sure if it was for me…but I went. As my friend Shauna says, because why not?!

It was, in a word, massive.  Literally tens of thousands in attendance.  A gigantic, two-story conference floor with the most beautiful, diverse displays from publishers, companies, and countries across the world.

It was not, however, a “book fair” in the typical understanding of a librarian who has hosted book fairs.  Not so many books were on display, especially considering what is commonly seen at ALA, TLA, AASL, BookExpo and the like.  None were for sale.  No authors were there (okay, that’s a lie…there was one featured author each day on site).

What was it, then?  A time for publishers, buyers, agents, and studios to do business.  It was meetings, not sessions.  The publisher booths were packed with people, sitting at tables, discussing titles to be translated or foreign rights sold or merchandising deals made or sales abroad.  It was intense.  BUSY.  Less about readers and books, more about the business of books.  So I, who love reading and talking and connecting readers and new books, was so very out of my element.  It was okay, though.  Careful observation of booths led me to some new titles.  Chronicle Books came through as a huge winner with a display of new American books that made my heart soar.  Living in London, I’m finding, means a limited access to American titles – and certainly not immediate access. There were many fewer middle-grade and YA titles on display that I’d hoped, but that’s okay: ALA is in a few short months, after all.

So what did I see?  What stood out in the world of kidlit?  Take a look.  Look for reviews of these titles in the coming days and weeks – only the best quality books rated a photograph!  And enjoy an inside view of one of the largest book fairs in the world.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

 

 

Why I Conference

Recently, a friend asked me to share some of the highlights from a recent conference.  I talked about the sessions on diverse books, the moments chatting with authors/illustrators on the exhibit floor, and the advance titles perused and picked up.

What I couldn’t quite express was the value of my biggest takeaway: the opportunity to network with some of the best in the field of librarianship.

Attending numerous conferences this past year – including ALA Annual, AASL, NCCE & WLMA – has afforded me the opportunity to be surrounded by hundreds of professionals in the library and information technology worlds. It has taken practice, but walking into a session, meeting, vendor exhibit, or event alone and striking up a conversation is when the best ideas, information, and connections happen. Introverted to the core, it’s a struggle…but one that pays off in huge dividends. I’ve met a mentor in inspiring Susan, a conference friend in dedicated Beth (we meet up every year!), a passionate maker in Bethany, a like-minded colleague in Cheryl and more.

It was meeting Bethany through a mutual friend at NCCE that brought about a dream opportunity: to present at a regional T-L Summit on the Building a Better Collection: the best literature of 2016. With the fabulous Mike Fleming taking YA and me sharing kidlit, I’m hopeful this collaboration will continue for years to come. Getting out there and connecting with others builds relationships that improve my ability to teach, to learn, and to share.

And speaking of sharing: there were 48 titles in the BBC presentation. I’ll be blogging one a day for the next month and a half. If you love one, please comment. Because we all learn when we share and connect.