Monday, January 14, 2019

Book Review: You Can't Just Kiss Anyone You Want


This little gem has been out since 2017 but I just discovered it at the beginning of this year. Originally a European graphic novel, You Can't Just Kiss Anyone You Want by Marzena Sowa is only available in an e-book format in English at this time, and you can get it on Amazon.
I know, it looks like a kids book - but this story is definitely not for kids. Set in Stalin-era soviet Russia the story contains some harsh truths as seen through the eyes of a little boy, Viktor, who ties to kiss a cute girl during a movie. While being questioned about why he would do such a thing, Viktor's friends quickly begin to turn on him, telling the adults in their world secrets that could bring down Viktor's family.
You see, Viktor's father is a writer, and he may have writings in his possession that are definitely not allowed by the government. As we peek into Viktor's family's life as well as the lives of his principal and most poignantly, his teacher, we see why in the Stalinist government, you REALLY can't just kiss anyone you want. 

Warning: while it is not graphically represented, there is a suggested rape/sexual assault in this work.

Giving it 3/5 bookmarks due to its heartbreaking story and beautiful artwork. It loses points for just plain being too short.

Monday, January 7, 2019

I'm Back... Kinda (Or, Why the Blog Has Been On Hiatus)

Well, it's been a while hasn't it? Just under 5 months, to be precise. I have good, and fairly valid reasons though - I promise.

First of all, I have been getting used to my new job in teen services, so that has taken me some time. Tied to that is the fact that one of the first tasks I had on my plate when I took the new job was to launch a teen blog for my library district. You can check it out at TeenXing, it's pretty good. We feature works by our teens as well as book reviews and program updates.

Not only has the new work stuff kept me busy, I have also been struggling with some pretty serious health issues over the past couple of months. I've been diagnosed with a couple of autoimmune disorders, I had a cancer scare, and both my fiance (Oh yeah! I GOT ENGAGED PEOPLE!) and future mother in law have been very ill as well.

To top it off one of my dearest friends passed away very suddenly just a few weeks ago, leaving behind two college age kids and a terminally ill wife, which was just really crushing to all those who knew and loved him. He loved my blog though and was one of the people who kept asking why I had stopped, so I am getting back on track in part for him.

New book reviews are coming, new programming posts are coming, and probably a few posts whining about how crappy I feel and why life is rough right now. Librarianship is still the best job ever though, and I am so glad to share this blog and all my crazy adventures with all of you.

See you in the stacks!

~E.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Programming Post: Oregon Trail Live

If you are of a certain age, you might remember playing the original computer game version of Oregon Trail - one of the most notoriously difficult educational video games EVER created.
Or maybe you are a little younger and have played the game in its newest incarnation: the family-friendly card game you can get from Target.
Either way the game is super fun, actually teaches you a thing or two about history and how hard it was to be a pioneer - so of course I HAD to turn it into a live action teen program! Mostly I modified the card game and made my own decks of cards so here is how you can do it at your library:

Supplies you will need:

* 21 pieces of card stock or construction paper to create the board.
     The board can be any shape you want, as long as it fits whatever room you are doing it in.
     I decided on 21 pieces because the trail was around 2,100 miles, and this way each piece of paper       equals 100 miles.
* A 6-sided die, the bigger the better. Mine was legitimately huge, as I used a box. This was great but it did only last through one program, so you might want a more durable option.

I used a recycled speaker decoration from Summer Reading 2018's music theme. It died a noble death from being tossed about. 
* Print-outs of "supplies" deck of cards, 4 of each card per deck (choose one color for this deck):
     Food   -   Clean Water   -   Wagon Parts  -   Bullets   -   Medical Supplies   -   Clothes   -  Oxen
* Print-outs of "events" deck of cards (printed on different colored paper from the supplies)
     8 "Fort" cards
     6 "River Crossing" cards
     2 each of the following "calamities:"
           Typhoid - Measles - Cholera - Dysentery - Snake Bite - Bad Water - Oxen Have Died -       
           Starvation - Thief - Broken Arm - Snow Storm - Broken Wheel.

Most of the calamities require the players to use their supply cards to avoid death.

(I am sorry but I am NOT about to type out all the wording I used on each card. If you REALLY want them, you can always message me and I can e-mail the actual cards to you. Or make up your own, don't be lazy! Haha!)
* Print-Outs of "Independence Missouri" (the start) and "Willamette, Oregon," (the finish line)

My "supplies" cards. I used stock photos, and I laminated them.

Examples of one Fort card, one Calamity and one River Crossing card. 

Ok, so how do we play this thing?

Players will form a party of 6-8 individuals who will all "leave" from Independence, MO together. 

Each player starts the game with 2 randomly chosen supply cards (3 for smaller parties). It is perfectly fine for players to show their party what supplies they have, as they will be shared anyway.

Roll the die to choose the order the players will play in - high number goes first. 

Once an order is determined, you are ready to start down the trail. One at a time, each player will roll the die and if it lands on an even number the entire party advances one playing space. If a player rolls an odd number a card from the events deck must be drawn. (Again, please MESSAGE ME if you want me to send you my cards in an e-mail. I am NOT typing out each card again here. Too much work! It is a Publisher file. And you will have to mail me cookies. I like Chips Ahoy.)

       * If a player draws a FORT card, they may take 2 additional supplies cards.
       *If a player rolls a "CALAMITY" card, they must do what the card says. These may lead to the 
         death of the player or the entire party. If the entire party dies, the game ends. 
       * If a player draws a "RIVER CROSSING" card, they must roll the die again. An odd roll      
          means the party loses a supply card and stays in their spot, an even roll means the river has 
          been crossed safely and the party advances one space.

If a player draws a calamity that results in their death they leave the game but may donate any supply cards they have to other members of the party.  

The entire party "wins" if even ONE person makes it Oregon. Trust me, it doesn't happen often. The first time we did this program we played 7 times and made it to Oregon ONCE with ONE PERSON left in the party. 

Questions, comments or concerns? Shoot me an email using the links above or comment below!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Programming Post: Fandom Guess Who

Do you guys remember the old board game "Guess Who?" It was basically a 20-questions type of game where your opponent chose a character from a game board, then you asked them a series of yes/no questions to try and guess who they had chosen.

For those not familiar, it looked like this.

Since, as you know by now if you have ever read this blog, I happen to love turning  live-action versions of classic board and video games in to programs, I decided to update the game to be more appealing to my teens and created my own "Fandom Guess Who" game.

I created my game board on Publisher, on an 8.5" by 14" piece of paper. I chose 30 characters that I liked from a variety of different Fandoms (15 females and 15 males).

The fandoms I chose were:
Marvel
Disney
Steven Universe
Anime (Studio Ghibli, Dragon Ball and Naruto, to be more specific)
Harry Potter
Voltron
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
Riverdale
Star Wars
Rick and Morty
Video Games (Bendy and the Ink Machine and Super Mario)
Supernatural
Doctor Who and
Adventure Time.

I found images of each character standing alone, and used them to make a board that was 5 characters across by 5 characters down. Then I used the same images to create a deck of cards from which I could choose the character that was to be guessed.

This was my finished play board.

The rules were:
Only Yes/No type questions are allowed.
Only one question per person per round.
The group gets 20 questions total to make a guess, but guesses can be made at any time after the first question has been asked.
If you make a guess, and guess wrong, you you lose your next turn.
You may NOT ask any questions about a character's age.
You may NOT as any questions about a character's race, gender, species or skin color.
You may not ask any questions about a character's age.
You may not ask if a character is human or a cartoon.

Play can be done with any size group, (up to 20, since there are only 20 questions) but I would not recommend playing with more than 10 at a time to give everyone the chance to potentially ask at LEAST one question.

In addition to the board, each player needs some kind of marker to "block out" the characters they think have been excluded. If the boards are laminated, dry-erase markers are great, if not: beans, buttons or any small objects you have lots of will do.

It's a really easy and fun game, doesn't take a ton of work to put together, and costs virtually nothing. The teens enjoy it because they get to challenge and try to stump the staff while having fun. Plus you can play it any time, and practically anywhere.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My first grant!

Well happy happy day!
I have been warded my first grant!
I don't get money but what I do get is lots of books to start a reading group with underserved teens! It's the Great Stories Club grant from the ALA and my library has gotten it before, but we have a new partner organization. We'll be partnering with an organization called MIKID. That stands for Mentally Ill Kids in Distress. All the children and teens they serve have diagnosed mental illnesses, and many also have developmental and physical disabilities.
The grant works like this: you choose 4 books from a list that fit each of 2 themes: this year's themes are Empathy and Heroism. They give you 11 sets of each of the 8 books and then you create a book-club program around those selections.
Plus the project coordinators (that would be me) get a trip to Chicago for training! I've never been to Chicago so I am stoked!
In fact I am stoked about the entire thing!
Keep an eye open for posts about my adventures with the grant and the program!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Programming Post: How to Start a BookCrossing Project

Raise your hands if you're heard about BookCrossing!

In case you haven't, BookCrossing is a very cool free website that lets you "read and release" books and track their journeys around the world. How it works:
You create a profile.
You read some books.
You register the books you just read with the website and they are assigned a number (a BCID, in the lingo of the site) which you can then either write inside the book or use a little sticker to decorate the cover, like this one:
Once the book is registered and decorated, you either give the book to a friend (this is called a "controlled release") or you leave the book in a public place for someone else to find (this is called a "wild release").

The hope is that someone will find your book and log it as found. Hopefully they also leave you a little note as to where they are, what they thought of the book etc... and if you're lucky, they re-release the book so the cycle can continue over and over. 

Years ago, when I worked in Youth Services, I created  a profile for my Tween Advisory Group and we did a release of about a dozen books. The books started in southern Arizona and some made it as far as London and Paris, which was thrilling for the kids. Now I have set up an official book crossing zone in my new teen room, and we are starting the process all over again, in hopes people will share and love our books. It's a great passive program that takes very little effort (and is a GREAT way to get rid of some no longer wanted ARCs too, by the way!) and it gives the teens a chance to 1) be totally ninja and release books in creative locations 2) spread the joy of reading around the world 3) hear from people outside their immediate area who also love the books they love. 

I'll be keeping you all posted on how this goes! 

(Photo courtesy Dominique Sandoval) Our new Book Crossing Zone on day 1 of the project. By the end of the day we had 40 books donated to us and registered.

If you are already a member of BookCrossing, please send a friend request to YCLDTeens so you can keep track of what we're up to, and if you are NOT a member but choose to join because of this blog, please use YCLDTeens as your "referring member!" Thanks!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Summer Reading Begins!

Well, it's here!
This year, like we do most years, my library is participating in the national Collaborative Summer Reading Program, which means our theme is music.
Keep in mind that our last Teen Services Manager left just before the program crunch, and even though I TECHNICALLY started the job on May 7th, today, June 4th is my actual first day on the job.
Originally the plan was for me to continue to work half time at my old branch and half time in the teen department at our Main Library, but that did NOT happen and I really only got about 4 days of work in at the new space within the past month. I do not recommend trying to be a Branch Librarian AND a section manager at the same time, by the way, it is HORRIBLE and hard and stressful and bad! I'm just VERY happy that I have a great support staff who held down the fort admirably without much guidance from me. They even got some decorations up for me! Check out our cool Piano Window!

Window in our Teen Room. 
We've got some great programs planned over the next few months, so expect write-ups and photos to come!
Happy SRP!