Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CLCD and NoveList: A Case Study

Can CLCD be a Better Fit for Your Library than NoveList?

Readers’ Advisory and Collection Development are critical elements for libraries serving the public or students and teachers at all levels (elementary, secondary, and university). The Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD) and NoveList (an EBSCO product) both offer tools to help with those tasks. How do they compare?

At first glance, there are many similarities between the two databases. Both have large proprietary content in addition to their ability to provide information on specific titles. Both allow author, title, series, or keyword searches from their home page. Both have free monthly newsletters. Both link to similar titles on the same subject. Both provide access to teaching materials and discussion guides. Both indicate Awards, Honors, and Prizes won by a title and its Lexile level. Both have features allowing you to save items, create lists, and print. Both allow linkage to your OPAC for a fee.

A closer look at the two databases, however reveals some significant differences; perhaps the most notable is the content of listings. NoveList provides only titles of all level fiction recommended by its staff. Non-fiction is included in NoveList Plus, at extra cost. CLCD is comprehensive, including positively and negatively reviewed books and media, fiction and non-fiction, for the K-12 audience and the professionals serving them. Both list awards, honors, and prizes, CLCD is also more comprehensive in this area as well. A search on The Tale of Despereaux in both databases showed some significant differences.

In NoveList, a basic search on that title took me to one entry; in CLCD, a basic title search provided 14 results, including the graphic edition, movie editions, the Spanish edition, and Listening Library’s recorded book. The Results List clearly indicated for which listings there were reviews and/or curricular materials. In NoveList, you must click down one level to learn about curricular mate

Cindy Judd, librarian at Eastern Kentucky University’s CRC, uses both NoveList and CLCD, as do the School of Education students and faculty. Judd says she enthusiastically encourages use of CLCD over NoveList through class instruction and one-to-one mini-tutorials. The state of Kentucky only purchases the fiction component of NoveList for its member libraries, which Judd finds very limiting. “Budgets are tight; we’re thankful for the basic,” says Judd. “It’s not uncommon,” says Judd, “for faculty and students to initially lean toward using NoveList. They are  used to the EBSCO interface through their use of their other research databases and are comfortable with it. But when I show them how easy it is to use CLCD and how many more results pop up, they are sold.”

            Judd says that she likes the CLCD search page. “Everything is right there—the ability to search by author, title, subject, award, and a whole host of delimiters—there is no need to drill down a page and then scroll down the page to access delimiters.

            NoveList is definitely aimed more at quick Readers’ Advisory, with its Recommended Reads and Author-alikes readily available on the home page. Other reading recommendation, such as Grab and Go and If You Like… may be viewed by clicking on the Lists & Articles tab on the result page, as can relevant award lists. CLCD has links to the award or reading lists on a book’s Reviews page. “Themed book lists, assembled by CLCD staff, are lost on most users,” states Judd.” They are back on the Children’s Literature Home Page and not accessible from the database itself.”

            “Students do find CLCD text-heavy,” adds Judd. “There’s lots of print on both the results and reviews pages, in addition to the green and yellow dots (indicating reviews and curriculum tools). But once students are used to the layout, they really like what they get.”

            Judd goes on to say, “Bottom line—we are huge fans here at EKU. There are many pluses to using CLCD: it’s clean appearance, everything for searching is on the front page (not a click or two down), the prevalence of quality reviews from so many sources, and the rich, rich collection of titles. It truly is comprehensive and the price can’t be beaten! It is so very reasonable.”

            Both CLCD and NoveList offer free trials on their websites. Give each a try to see which product can best serve your library, classroom, or home needs—ultimately saving you time and money and giving you access to a comprehensive research tool.

Contributor: Peg Glisson

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Themed Reviews: Statue of Liberty

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

October 28, 2011 marks the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. The monument was given to America by France in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution but it has come to symbolize ideals like freedom and democracy in addition to international friendship.

The official dedication ceremony was held on October 28, 1886. Construction on the statue began in France in the early 1870s and was completed in 1885. It arrived in New York in June of 1885 and after being reassembled on Ellis Island that fall. The entire process took over 10 years.

To many, Lady Liberty is closely linked with immigration history. Situated on Ellis Island in the New York Bay, the monument greeted new arrivals who were coming to America hoping to make a new home. Browse the selections below for books to use in the classroom, library, or at home.

Liberty's Voice: The Story of Emma Lazarus
Erica Silverman
Illustrated by Stacey Schuett
            Interesting non-fiction is always in demand in classrooms and libraries. Liberty's Voice is an outstanding picture book biography of Emma Lazarus, author of "The New Colossus," the well-known poem on the base of The Statue of Liberty. The story of Emma Lazarus needs to be shared because her contributions to American history as well as the Jewish community deserve to be celebrated. The author's impeccable research brings Emma to life for young readers. A gifted young poet, Emma becomes a student of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emma's connection to her Jewish community is also well established. Emma writes political columns about the pogroms in Europe and poverty in America. Although raised in a wealthy family, Emma reaches out to those less fortunate in numerous ways. As a leader of social causes and a passionate humanitarian, Emma Lazarus is a perfect subject for school projects. The text is well written and full of interesting details, including Emma's initial refusal to write a poem for The Statue of Liberty. She replied to the request with "I am sorry. I cannot write to order. Poetry must come from the heart." Later, she is inspired and her creative process is beautifully described in the text: "And if the statue spoke to the world, what would she say? Emma listened. And wrote..." Emma's humility and passion make her an appealing and inspiring character for young students. The deeply hued illustrations have a magical quality with just enough historical detail, including a newspaper with the heading "Russian Jews Flee Homeland," to transport readers to back in time. There is a current surge of interest in Emma Lazarus. Another excellent picture book, Emma's Poem by Linda Glaser and Claire A. Nivola is more specifically focused on the writing of "The New Colossus," and would be an excellent companion to Liberty's Voice. Liberty's Voice is highly recommended for Judaic and public libraries. Category: In The Spotlight. 2011, Dutton, 32 pp., $17.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Barbara Bietz (Association of Jewish Libraries, May/June 2011).
ISBN: 9780525478591

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011 National Book Award Finalists

My Name is Not Easy
Debby Dahl Edwardson
Although readers may be familiar with the compulsory relocation of Native American children to boarding schools, where they were required to give up their language, their dress, their food, their religious beliefs, and even their names; there were other atrocities visited on them as this story of three Eskimo brothers makes clear. Luke, Bunna, and Isaac are sent to Sacred Heart Catholic boarding school, deep in the Alaskan interior and far from the icy waters and wide-open expanses of their Inupiaq village far to the north. Before they can even unpack, the youngest brother, Isaac, is inexplicably whisked away in the school’s station wagon--adopted out, without the family’s permission, to a home in Texas. Luke and Bunna struggle to make their way in this foreign environment, which is fraught with tension between the white kids, the Indians, and the Eskimos. Only the Eskimo children, however, are singled out to swallow radioactive iodine-131 as part of military-sponsored research into cold weather tolerance. The story is told mainly from Luke’s point of view, with alternating chapters told by four classmates--Amiq, the outspoken leader of the Eskimo kids; Chickie, the whitest kid but still an outsider; introspective Junior; and quiet, intense Donna. With the passing years, they forge alliances, experience first loves, and gain strength to return home and make changes. An author’s note identifies the factual episodes behind this well-told, compassionate, and ultimately hopeful tale. Although there are certainly numerous books providing insight into this shameful aspect of America’s imperialism, this provides the unique perspective of Alaskan natives, as well as historically based incidents involving civil disobedience and “peaceful” uses of atomic bombs--all noteworthy discussion starters. 2011, Marshall Cavendish,, $17.99. Ages 10 to 15. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780761459804

Inside Out and Back Again
Thanhha Lai
            The year is 1975, the end of the Vietnam War, and Saigon is about to fall to the Communists. But ten-year-old Hà is grateful that her family is not among the wealthy who are fleeing Vietnam: “I’m glad we’ve become poor/ so we can stay.” Even as she joins her mother and brother in grieving the absence of her father, missing in military action for nine long years, Hà savors the sight of the papayas ripening on in the back garden and the taste of sugary lotus seeds eaten for the New Year, with its promise of hope and joy. But before the new year is out, Hà and her family have become wartime refugees, trying to make a new life for themselves halfway around the world: “No one would believe me/ but at times/ I would choose/ wartime in Saigon/ over/ peacetime in Alabama.” In haunting poems based on her own childhood experiences as a refugee in the deep South, Lai shares the sting of American ignorance and prejudice, the stigma of being thought “dumb” for not yet being fluent in the perplexities of English language spelling and pronunciation, the kindness of new friends, and the slow acceptance of inevitable change: “Not the same/ but not bad.” Lai’s poems have the stabbing specificity of the Vietnamese refugee experience, but also speak to any sensitive child wrestling with the necessity to compromise with wrenching, world-shifting transitions. 2011, HarperCollins, $15.99. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780061962783

Flesh and Blood So Cheap
Albert Marrin
            On the afternoon of March 25, 1911 it was almost quitting time at the Triangle Shirtwaist garment factory in New York City. Then, without warning, a fire broke out. In a matter of minutes this blaze went out of control and raged through the garment factory. Exits were either clogged or locked and those workers who were able to get out onto the fire escape fell to their death when it collapsed under the weight of the workers. Women workers were seen in the windows of the shop as they called down from the ninth floor for help. Firemen arrived in a matter of minutes but found that their ladders could only reach the sixth floor. In less than a half hour 146 Triangle workers, many of whom were young immigrant women, died. This was to be the single deadliest day in New York City history until the tragic events of 9/11. In this title Marrin takes readers back to the terrible events affiliated with the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. But, while Marrin does an exceptional job of recounting this tragic event, he is even better at recreating the historical forces that led up to the fire as well as its consequences. In fact, Marrin is outstanding in describing the plight of immigrant workers in America during a time when labor unions were unheard of and employers had almost godlike authority. In addition, the author recounts the legislative reforms that occurred subsequent to the Triangle disaster as well as modern applications of the principles of human dignity and sweatshop exploitation reviewed in this truly outstanding book. 2011, Albert A. Knopf/Random House, $19.99. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780375868894

Franny Billingsley
            Briony is almost too busy hating herself to complete all of the tasks she has decided will serve as penance. She believes she is a witch, a fact that would certainly mean hanging in her rural English village, and there are days when she feels she deserves this fate, because she is certain her power lay behind the destruction of her stepmother and the disabling of her sister. On other days, however, Briony clings to life, finding joy enough to balance the guilt. A slowly developing, hard-won romance, new revelations about family she thought she had lost, and an awakening into her own strengths all shake up Briony and her village forever, and if she manages to survive all the new information, she will be much needed to help put things right in this strange little hamlet. Briony’s character is splendidly developed, with a rich balance of irreverence (carefully used in such a way that she still remains very much of her era, a slightly alternative early twentieth century), hostile insecurity, and stubbornness, all of which she uses to cover the generous, hopeful, romantic self that would leave her too vulnerable in the world. The Old Ones, various witches, elemental spirits, brownies, and other creatures that live all around and in Swampsea, are mysterious and otherworldly while also struggling with the same jealousies and simple (almost always unfulfilled) desires as the townsfolk themselves. Human or otherwise, everyone is, for the most part, just trying to survive, which makes Briony’s passion for actually thriving, for pushing beyond the idea that merely waking up is a measure of success, all the more extraordinary and moving. Fantasy fans will appreciate the lush, spooky setting, but romance fans will also likely find the tentative but promising relationship between Briony and the only man around who actually deserves her to be deeply satisfying. Review Code: R* -- Recommended. A book of special distinction. (c) Copyright 2006, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2011, Dial, 368p.; Reviewed from galleys, $17.99. Grades 7-10. Reviewer: April Spisak (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2011 (Vol.64, No.6))

Okay For Now
Gary D. Schmidt
            Readers may remember Doug Swieteck as a minor character in Schmidt’s Newbery Honor Book, The Wednesday Wars. Here we learn much more about him, as he and his family move from Long Island to a small town in upstate New York. Doug is miserable: he has no friends, he calls their new house “The Dump,” and his life is overshadowed by an older brother suspected of burglary. A thirteen-year-old trying to claim his identity, Doug encounters three formidable authority figures--his mean and whining father with hands quick to strike, a controlling principal obsessed with rules, and a cruel P.E. teacher who was once a U.S. Army drill sergeant. On the other hand, Doug acquires an amazing number of extraordinary allies, including an elderly librarian who turns out to be a superb art teacher, a brilliantly successful playwright, a wealthy mill owner reminiscent of Edmund Gwenn, and a smart, green-eyed girlfriend. Schmidt gives Doug some tough challenges, including helping his oldest brother Lucas, who has returned from Vietnam disabled and depressed. He also must adopt a quest to find and return missing Audubon prints to their folio at the library. As the year progresses, Doug’s life swings through gut-wrenching lows and exhilarating highs more numerous than one might expect in such a short time. When he accidentally triumphs in a Broadway play (with his hero Joe Pepitone in the audience), the plot verges on magic realism (or farce). It is followed swiftly by an unsettling conclusion. Yet the novel is riveting. Schmidt is especially inventive in his use of nine prints from Audubon’s Birds of America, weaving their artistic elements and the boy’s reflections on Audubon’s birds into a convincing metaphor for the transformative power of art. As Doug would say, “Terrific!” 2011, Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780547152608

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Malinda Lo

     The story of Cinderella is one beloved by millions of young children. Versions of the classic fairy tale can be found in cultures around the world. As a little girl Malinda Lo was especially fond of the Disney movie. Growing up she was a voracious reader and writer--when she was twelve she had a poem about her cat Fluffy published in Cats magazine. In high school her writing skewed towards fantasy, writing several stories including one she described as a knock-off of a favorite book, Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword. So it is not that surprising that Malinda is now the author of two young adult fantasy novels published by Little, Brown, and that her debut novel, Ash, is a retelling of Cinderella. When I heard Malinda speak at an ALAN workshop she recounted how the novel came about.

     Though Malinda loved creative writing growing up, it was neglected it after high school. She graduated from Wellesley College and later received master's degrees from Harvard and Stanford Universities. She spent some time as an editorial assistant at Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, was the managing editor at AfterEllen.com, and also worked as a journalist. When she made the decision to face her fears and try to write a novel, she decided that she wanted to write the book she had always wanted to read as a young person: a retelling of Cinderella. Malinda shared that she had loved reading Robin McKinley's fairy tale retellings, and had read and reread Beauty (a retelling of Beauty and the Beast) but had always wanted a retelling of Cinderella. As part of her research, she began by reading, and often rereading from her childhood, the many versions of Cinderella in hopes of understanding the core of the tale. What struck her the most was that grief was the central theme. The loss of parents drastically affects the protagonist.

     The plot and characters in Malinda's tale of Cinderella does differ from other versions. The fairy-godmother is not at all Disney-esque. Malinda still wanted a magical element in her novel, so she turned instead to Irish folklore and the idea that gifts come with a price. The difference that may have received the most attention was that of the love story. In her first draft her protagonist, Aisling--or Ash--marries Prince Aidan and has only a friendship with his huntress, Kaisa. But when a close friend read the draft she bluntly noted that the relationship felt boring. She pointed out to Malinda that Ash had more chemistry with Kaisa than Aidan.

     Malinda felt she was faced with two options: make the prince more charming or write a lesbian Cinderella. As a reader of LBGT fiction, and from her experience in publishing, Malinda knew the market and felt this second option was crazy and unsellable. So she tried to write a more charming prince. It didn't work. In all, Malinda spent eight years writing drafts of Ash. The end result is a young adult novel that was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Lambda Literary Award for Children's/Young Adult, and was a Kirkus 2009 Best Book for Children and Teens pick. Though Ash has her first gay relationship with Kaisa, Malinda shared that she feels her novel is not a coming out story because in the world she created being gay was not anything weird. The main core of the story is still about love and grief.

     Malinda's newest novel, Huntress, was published in April 2011, and is a prequel to Ash. Set in the same world, but in a time long before Ash, Aidan, and Kaisa, this new novel follows two teen girls from the Academy of Sages on a quest to rescue the Fairy Queen. Again, it is a fantasy adventure that is filled with strong and diverse female characters sure to please her fans. Malinda is working on her third novel, which she often shares updates about on her blog.

For more information about Malinda Lo, visit her site http://www.malindalo.com.

Contributor: Emily Griffin

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Themed Reviews: Columbus Day

Monday, October 10, 2011 is Columbus Day. A federal holiday since 1937—and celebrated since the 18th century—Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World in 1492. The Italian explorer set off on his voyage two months prior, supported by the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Intending to go to China, India, and other parts of Asia, Columbus actually landed in the Bahamas and thus became the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings colonized the northern territories of Greenland and Newfoundland.

Believing Cuba to be China, Columbus established the first Spanish colony in the Americas and returned to Spain bearing gold, spices, and other local products. Before his death in 1506, Columbus returned to the area several more times, but it was not until his third voyage that he realized he had discovered a continent previously unknown to Europeans—and not in fact, Asia.

Columbus Day is an excellent opportunity to learn about influential figures during this Age of Discovery and to discuss popular beliefs held by people at that time, such as the notion that Europeans did not know the Pacific Ocean existed. Browse the selections below for recent books about Christopher Columbus and this period in time. http://www.childrenslit.com/childrenslit/th_columbus.php

To learn more about the history of Columbus and how Columbus Day evolved visit: http://www.history.com/topics/columbus-day.

Prisoner of the Inquisition
Theresa Breslin
This book is outstanding. At once I couldn't put it down but could hardly continue and I'm sure I'll remember it forever. Most humbling of all is the fact that the fifteenth century Spanish Inquisition really did exist and such happenings really did happen. Theresa Breslin seems to bear the pain and humility of this coupled with tremendous respect for historical fact and accuracy and creates a truly remarkable work. Zarita and Saulo meet as teenagers one fateful day in the Spanish port of Las Conchas in 1490 and their lives are inextricably linked thereafter yet also forced apart. He is banished to life at sea as a slave but also amasses great navigational knowledge and learns first hand the problems facing Christopher Columbus to secure backing for his famous voyage of discovery. There is superb detail about the maps of the era and first ever globe. Simultaneously, Zarita is banished to a life of loneliness and confusion as her father remarries and the Inquisition oppresses the lives of everyone around. Then, as Saulo is free to seek revenge, Zarita is captured and it's only to wonder that the human race can show such courage and ever heal from such horror. Category: More Mature Young Adult Themes. Doubleday, D12.99. Reviewer: Gill Roberts (Carousel 46, November 2010).
ISBN: 9780385617031

Contributor: Emily Griffin