Monday, August 29, 2016

The Elite

     The Selection series by Keira Cass is one of the least dystopian dystopian novel series for young adults that I have ever read. I have heard it referred to as "The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor" on several occasions, but this is not accurate - what it really is, what it merely is, is  The Bachelor set in the future, if the bachelor in question were a prince.
    So, if we think about the series as a reality show, the second book in the series, The Elite, would take place sometime in the middle of the season. Most of the girls have gone home, the home audience has chosen a favorite, and we can tell the bachelor in question is already starting to prefer a few girls over the others.
    At this stage in the game, America Singer, our protagonist, is one of just a few girls still in the game, but she still can't decide if she actually wants to be. She still has feeling for her childhood sweetheart, Aspen, who also happens to work in the palace. On top of that, America shockingly gets to see first hand the brutal punishment that can be handed down in her society to those who break the laws. It happens to someone very close to her heart and it makes her question everything she has ever believed, while at the same time turning her into public enemy #1, as far as Prince Maxon's father is concerned.
    At the same time, there are more attacks from the rebels, both Northern and Southern, and we learn a lot of secrets about how the country that was once the USA came to be in the state it is in in this vision of its future.
    Overall, not as interesting a chapter as the original, but it still kept me reading, and it did make me want to move on to the third book to see how this all wraps up.

Final rating: 3/5 bookmarks.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Evil Wives

     Have I told you all yet that one of my favorite shows of all time is Snapped?  Yeah, it seriously worries my boyfriend when I watch that, because for those of you who don't know, that show is 17 seasons and counting of true-crime stories about women who kill their boyfriends, husbands, dads, etc.
     So of course, I just had to read Evil Wives by John Marlowe, since this is basically that show, but in book form. Hardcore serial killer aficionados will not find much new in this compilation of short essays about some seriously messed up women from history. However, the short chapters and snappy writing makes a good primer for those who are interested in true crime tales and are looking for a place to start.
    The book does not delve deeply, it is merely a snack-sized intro to these women, many of whom have had several more in-depth tomes written about them in the years since they rose to infamy. It's pretty good as what it is: a gateway drug to the world of the criminally insane.

Final rating: 3/5 bookmarks.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Librarian Post True Tales of Library Programming #3: How to Host a Pokemon Go Gathering.

    Unless you have been living under a rock for the last two months or so, you have probably heard of the MASSIVELY popular Pokemon Go app which is available for both Iphones and Android devices. For those of you who are not too familiar with the game, the premise is simple - players can walk around their towns and capture cute little cartoon animals to try and collect all 150 different creatures. Certain landmarks in the community are "Pokestops" where players can collect supplies, or Gyms, where players can train their pets to make them stronger and claim bragging right for one of three in-game teams (Valor (red), Instinct (yellow) and Mystic (blue)). Since most libraries are either gyms or contain Pokestops, you should definitely consider offering some kind of Pokemon themed program.
   Do not assume this is a children's game. The vast majority of Pokemon Go players are adults in their 20's and 30's who grew up watching these cartoons. After all, they have been on air for 20 years now, and there is a great deal of nostalgia associated with this game for many of us. I in fact, am 36 and am, as of this writing, a level 15 member of team Mystic.

She totally looks exactly like me.

    As of this writing, my branch library has hosted 2 hugely successful Pokemon Go gatherings, so here is what we did to make the day special.

    First, my library contains 3 Pokestops, so we invested about $10 to buy enough Pokemon Coins in game to buy 6 "lures," modifications that actively attract a larger number of Pokemon to each stop. One lure lasts 30 minutes, so this gave us one hour of attraction time for each stop.
    Our first gathering was simply a social where people could meet and have fun. We made sure to have free bottles of cold water to hand out, because we are in Arizona and our typical summers are well into triple digit temperatures. (Luckily one of our 3 stops is actually inside the building). We also used our button maker to create team badges which were handed out on a first-come, first-served basis to anyone who asked for one. (If your library does not have a button maker, it is an AMAZING investment, you should try super hard to get one!)
Badges representing each team, and the unity team, for those who don't battle, or don't care to choose a team.
     For our second program, we chose to create a competition, to make it something a little bit different. We had 10 competition categories, which were:
1. Most number of Pokemon caught.
2. Highest CP catch (CP = combat points)
3. Highest HP catch (HP = hit points)
4. Largest Pokemon caught (for whomever caught the Pokemon with the highest weight)
5. Tiniest Rattata (lowest weight)
6. Fattest Pidgey (highest weight)
7. Most Geodudes
8. Most Pidgeys
9. Most Rattatas
10. Most Shandshrews
   We created small certificates and trophies for the winners.

 Here is what you need to make cool trophies of your own:

* Small white Styrofoam balls. You can buy these at any craft store in packs of 12. I made the mistake of using "rough" textured ones because I had them on hand already. They also come in a smooth texture that I think would have worked better. 
* Acrylic craft paint in red, white and black.
* Small paintbrushes (DO NOT use the foam kind, they will not work and make a huge mess).
* Gold spray paint.
*  Industrial glue, such as E6000.
For the bases, I used some empty spools from our register tape that we had laying around. 

My super neat and extremely carefully organized craft table. I know, you want to be me. 

First, I spray-painted the spools gold and let them dry thoroughly. 
Next, I painted one half of a ball red and let that dry. An ice cube tray works great for holding the balls and keeping them from rolling away while they dry.
Once the red is completely dry, paint a black line around the ball, and add a large black dot.
Make sure the black paint is COMPLETELY dry before adding a white dot in the center of the black dot. 
Once the balls are dry, glue them to the bases with E6000 and presto! Awesome trophies that people will love!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Librarian Post: Tue Tales of Library Programming #2 - Merry Grinchmas!

   Well, that was interesting. I never expected the post about my Clue program to be so darn popular, but I guess there are those out there interested in my goofy programs, so I think I will try to post one per month until you all get sick of them.
   So, that being said, and realizing it is still super hot out, I thought I would take everyone's mind off Summer Reading with a program for the holidays. This is a Way Back When program, as it was the first big themed program I ever did when I was a Library Assistant in Youth Services, so parts of my memories about it have become a little rusty. I will do my best to explain it as thoroughly as possible, and there will be cool pictures.
   Therefore, without further ado, I give you: "A Very Merry Grinchmas!" a holiday program based on themes from How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.

   At the beginning of the program, when the bulk of the audience has assembled. I get the kids portioned off into groups or teams. 4 teams seems to be, for me, the best number and works well regardless of the size of the crowd. I always choose the teams myself, never let the kids pick, because if you let them pick, they will just end up with their families or friends and what's the fun in that? The teams are chosen by asking the kids to get in a line in order of their birthdays.
    This has the added benefit of being an ice breaker, since they have to talk to each other to figure out whose birthday is when. Once everyone is in line, they count off 1, 2, 3, 4 and then all the 1's get together, all the 2's, etc. When the teams are in place it's time to play the first game.

Grinch Cake Walk

   For our first game, which was actually ocurring throughout the whole party, I cut out large Ginchy footprints out of green paper. One footprint also had a red paper heart on it. I laminaed the footprints and set them out in a large circle. 
   A teen volunteer was given a CD player and a CD with "You're A Mean One, Mister Grinch" burned on it a bunch of times. The volunteer would then play the song for a while, stopping it whenever it struck his fancy. When the music stopped, whoever was standing on the spot with the heart would get a green-frosted "Grinch-cake" (cupcakes topped with some cool Dr. Seuss puffy stickers I found and stuck onto toothpicks). 
   Make sure to tell the volunteers to limit the kids to one cupcake per person.
   A second volunteer dressed up as the Grinch for us and helped hand out cupcakes and took pictures with the kids. He was a huge hit!

Grinchy footprints. Notice the one with a heart that grew 3 sizes. 

The Grinch hands out cupcakes in the Grinch Cakewalk game.

    Tree Undecorating

     The first game we played was inspired by the scene in which the Grinch steals all the ornaments off the Who's Christmas Trees. I created 4 cartoonishly rendered trees from green butcher paper and taped the same number of ornaments to each tree (12-15 ornaments works well). The game was played as a relay race in which each member of the team got to run up to the tree (which was taped to the wall) and ripped off one ornament. I timed the teams to see who could get all the ornaments and the tree down fastest.

Un-decorating the Christmas trees. 
Teen volunteers were a huge help in running the program, especially with staffing limitations. 

   When working in Youth, I always saved our craft for last, since it's a good way to calm everyone down after physical activity, and so the kids and parents don't have to be carrying the craft around with them while trying to play games.
   For this program, our craft was making a paper bag puppet of Max, the Grinch's faithful dog companion. Max is very simple to make. you need:
1. A small brown paper lunch bag.
2. A pair of googly eyes.
3. A small brown pom-pom for the nose.
4. Cut out two vaguely peanut-shaped shapes out of black paper for ears.
5. A brown pipe-cleaner for his horn. Because he is a reindeer-dog. Of course.
6. A red marker, to color in a collar.
7. A small yellow construction paper circle, for his dog tag.

This is the only picture that survived where you can see Max. Sorry it's not great:

You can't tell, but my shirt had a huge Grinch face on it. I enjoy dressing for the program theme.