Gee-Haw Whimmy-Diddles and Other Non-Fiction Casualties O’ the Day

It’s not every day that a King’s bones are dug up.  So let’s celebrate with some bones we dug out of our non-fiction collection today!

Preface: I’ve been in my department head position for almost a year and a half.  I made a conscious effort not to kick off any big weeding projects until I had been on the job for a full year so I could get a good sense of our patrons and what the community was digging.  Now that I have a sense of things, we’re off to the races! While my colleagues do a brilliant job of all the nitty-gritty work, I take a quick pass through everything before it goes out the door.  I present to you the top casualties of the day.

Something about this super-jacked half rabbit/half man makes me cock my head in confusion. Same with the wolf/human and his spectacles.
Perhaps an ancestor of James Marshall’s Portly McSwine?
Copyright 1973!!! Note the author: I guess this is what Mr Green was up to pre-Looking For Alaska. This is essentially a compendium of Canadian Sasquatch sitings. I’ll be taking this treatise next time I head into the deep bush, for sure.

 

And, finally, the book that gave this post its name:

This little gem hasn’t circulated in 15 years. WHY THE HECK NOT!?

I am in love with this book.  My favorite excerpt:

Don’t hook this book

My young whippernap,

For nickels and dimes

It cost-ed my pap.

Don’t know if that qualifies as a whimmy-diddle or not.

I think it’s also worth noting that the author, a Mr. James Still, has a bio in the back of the book that says “Critics have hailed his verse and fiction for its beauty, humor, and integrity.”

And keeping with our old bones theme, I give you my favorite Grade 7 slow dance jam.

Post-ALA Midwinter Depression Spiral? Follow These 5 Easy Steps

Blurg.

That’s the sound of post-conference blues.  You’re overtired and feeling wired and crazed and still blinking from the Youth Media Awards light show and you come home and realize that you don’t have any eggs to hard-boil for breakfast and your favorite tights need washing and…BLURG.

Well, that’s how I was feeling Wednesday morning on my second day back at work post-ALA Midwinter.  But then I did some things that put a bit of the pep back in my pants.  If you’re having a D in the D (down in the dumps) day, follow my patented program.

Tip 1: Put Up Those Posters

For the most part, I’m an anti-swag person.  I hate lugging a bunch of stuff home and I live in fear of becoming one of those insane rolling suitcase librarians in the exhibits.  But I have started a nice little poster collection in my office and scored two additions this past weekend.  Behold, Olivia, matching perfectly with my office’s pink walls (yes, I have a boss that let me paint my office pink.  Though I originally tried for something more of the Pepto-Bismol variety but that was vetoed).

Don’t worry, those creases work themselves out over time.

I also made a bold statement by throwing this one for Lane Smith’s Abe Lincoln’s Dream right on the front of my office door.  This is a no-Confederate zone, y’all!

You know what people are going to think when they see this? Fancy.

Tip 2: Put a book you love (but many don’t know or under-love) up on display

My pick was Hamsters Holding Hands by Kass Reich, published by BC’s own Orca Books.  If this doesn’t cheer you up, you have major problems.  There is a HAMSTER holding a BALLOON ANIMAL.  Alternatively, you can put all the award winners from Monday up on display too for bonus points.

And remember this?

Tip 3: Weed Something Ghastly

Like this! Wheezy – a story about a little English boy with asthma published in 1988.

My favorite page is below where the little dude asks “Please could I have some of those leaflets for my asthma scrapbook?”  Then he joins “the Saturday Swimming Club for children with asthma” (YES, this is actually what it is called) and everything is hunky dory.  He probably grew up just fine.  I actually weeded this today, guys.  No jokes.

Tip 4: Order Those Winners You Missed

White Bicycle. ‘Nuff said (and it’s apparently third in a trilogy?! That’s gotta be some other record/gasp-worthy thing).

Tip 5: Have Someone Call You a Unicorn

I was helping out with a real reference question doozie on the desk when my girl Saundra sent me this email.  A good reminder of the power of a shout-out and what a boost it is to get compliments from colleagues.  Made my day and something I want to do more often for others.

And, if all else fails, pump some 90s jams.  I blasted this all the way home.  Just go ahead now.

um….(2013 ALA Youth Media Awards gasps and more)

BEST THING EVER.

That was Jon Klassen’s Twitter reaction to pulling a total Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen style Caldecott move by snagging both an honor and the medal at the ALA Youth Media Awards this morning.  As Uncle Jesse would say “Haaaave Mercy!”

Shannon Ozirny: Psychic

Now I know tons of people made actual predictions that came true, but I would just like to point y’all back to a little tweet I busted out 12 days ago:

That’s right.  Now, Three Time Lucky only got a Newbery Honor, but this makes me at least 1/2 psychic.

Freaking Out

This was my very first time attending the awards.  It was 14 hours ago and I still kinda feel like this.  It was beyond exciting.

I think the biggest thrill was Beverley Brenna winning a Printz Honor for White Bicycle.  I thought the name sounded familiar, and after some quick Googling, I confirmed that she is from Saskatchewan!  Me too!

Things That Make You Go…Gasp!

There were some particularly cray moments this morning for reals.  Gonna bust out the bullets for this one:

  • No Printz love for The Fault in Our Stars.  How does a book with a million starred reviews and a Time review quote of “Damn near genius” get jack?  Beats me.
  • No Illustration Honors for the Pura Belpre. Zip.
  • No Schneider love for Wonder.
  • An Artemis Fowl book got an Odyssey award.  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t said the words “Artemis Fowl” since about 2009.

Me Being an Idiot

The funny thing about conferences is that you are so busy running around and squealing when you run into people that you forget to eat.  This happened to me on Saturday.  Then I hit the sauce a bit and repeatedly called Kirby Larson “Clare.”  As in Clare Vanderpool.  Kirby is seriously the most gracious, upbeat, kind, wonderful person you will ever meet so she didn’t seem to mind at all, but STILL.  At least I was confusing her with another amazing Newbery talent and wasn’t calling her Francine Pascal or Lauren Conrad.

#1 Pal Award

Finally, a big shout-out to my ride or die pal Travis of 100 Scope Notes for hassling me (in a nice way) to get back in the saddle with my blog.  I bounced the majority of my tweets off of him this weekend and also about 93% of the content of this blog post after the ceremony, so if you’re digging it, you can thank him.  Travis followed me on Twitter back in the day when I had about 60 followers and he, along with the indefatigable ray of sunshine that is Mr. Schu, have been so supportive and made me feel utterly welcome at my first ALA conference back in Anaheim.  If it weren’t for the good people at Random House and the amazing Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz Memorial Scholarship that I won last year, I’m not sure that I would have made it to ALA and made some great friends.  So good stuff all around.

And in my perennial efforts to bring Jay-Z into everything, I give you this music-less tribute to Jay-Z’s favorite headwear, the Yankee cap.  I’m sure if anyone took it from him, he would go loco on them Klassen style (the best part is the random dudes they intersperse where you’re all “That’s not HOVA.”)

Sad.

All this joyful crying at the Olympics got me thinking: why not take a tearful look back at the last seven months to see just how many books have made me cry?  It’s only three so it won’t be too painful.

I should preface this by saying that I’m not a big crier while reading.  So 2012 has been a particularly productive year thus far.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.  Illustrations by Maira Kalman

Did this book make me cry out of sadness?  No.  Oh no. This book made me cry out of pure, unfiltered rage.  Is there anyone I hate more in this world than Ed Slaterton?  Probably not.

To counter the sadness and rage blackout, this Amazon interview with Handler and Kalman brings the LOLs.  I love how awkward the whole thing is with the interviewer and am especially tickled by their description of the “working process” that starts around 5:10.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Who doesn’t cry reading this book?  I mean, really.  The interesting thing about TFIOS is that it has a major Charlotte’s Web effect on me.  That means that I can be anywhere, doing anything, and reading the last line of the book will put tears in my eyes.  I was trying to pester our Summer Reading Club assistant into reading TFIOS and actually got damp peepers in front of her when I flipped to the back page.  And it convinced her to check out the book!  Note to librarians: teary eyes sell books.  And make you look like a crazypants.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd. Illustrations by Jim Kay.

Hoo boy, I have never, never cried so hard reading.  I literally had to put down the book, take off my glasses and put my head in my hands and sob.  That was followed by crying steadily for the last 40 pages.  It is such an exquisite, articulate, seemingly effortless portrayal of loss and self-doubt and fear.  Brilliant.

And you know, while we’re on this whole sad theme, let me also share the only book trailer to ever make me cry.  This is the trailer for Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been? by Dan Bar-el with illustrations by Rae Maté.

WHAT IF THE CAT NEVER CAME BACK!?! Oh, it makes me so sad.

And just for good measure, the movie that has made me cry the most is a bit of a shocker so I’ll throw it in here too.  It’s completely ridiculous, but I bawled through most of District 9.  I was so, so, so concerned for that little alien baby!  Thank goodness for the internet, because someone has made a bad quality clip montage of the alien baby with “Dust In the Wind” in the background! YES!

Lincoln! (or, when pop culture aligns with your current obsession)

I am am so excited for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln which now has a release date of November 9.  The Chicago Tribune says this may be the year that the Lincoln wave “crests.”  Get me a surfboard, yo!

Now I have been late to the party on a few things.  When it comes to my Abraham Lincoln obsession, I’m about a century and a half late on that trend.

This all started in February.  I am an audiobook fiend as I am unable to read in a moving vehicle without spewing. I also like to spice up mundane tasks like folding laundry or steaming my dresses by listening to an audiobook (note: that last sentence is going to appear in the personal ad I post at age 85).  Basically, if I’m not reading a book I’m probably listening to one.

I randomly downloaded Chasing Lincoln’s Killer on audiobook.  I knew nothing about Lincoln other than the fact that he wore noteworthy hats.  Within 25 minutes of listening to James L. Swanson’s book, I was hooked.

There is no better audiobook in the world.  Will Patton narrates and he does an impeccable job.

This is the thing: I am Canadian.  Presidents don’t get much stage time on our curriculum. This is about the most excitement we get from a national leader (which, granted, was a big deal):

So before listening to Swanson’s book, I didn’t really get the Lincoln thing.  I certainly had no idea how insanely CRAY the events were before and after his assassination. The General Seward bit!?  Mother of Pearl, I almost had a heart attack.

Since listening to the audiobook of Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, I have watched several Lincoln documentaries and am slowly savouring Candace Fleming’s The Lincolns: a scrapbook look at Abraham and Mary.  No matter what is going on in my life, reading that dang scrapbook totally takes me away.  If I’m having a bad day, it always helps to know that I don’t have to tackle the abolition of slavery.  For some inexplicable reason, anything Lincoln-related has an uncanny ability to distract and comfort me.  This is exactly how those five-year-old boys who are obsessed with dinosaur books must feel.

So if The Chicago Tribune is right and the Lincoln wave is coming, that will no doubt trickle down to children’s books as all thing tend to do.  And I can’t wait.  It’s been tough for me to get Canuck kids and teens interested in Lincoln stuff (or, indoctrinate them with my obsession) because they have no point of reference and don’t really care about American presidents.  And there is so much great Lincoln stuff out there already, with some notable 2012 titles.  These are on my to-read list:

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship by Russell Freedman. Houghton MIfflin Harcourt, 2012

Magic Tree House #47: Abe Lincoln, At Last! by Mary Pope Osborne. Random House, 2012 (also has accompanying non-fiction Magic Tree House Fact Tracker)

Lincoln won the Caldecott,obvi. Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, 1940.
I need a bigger purse to carry this. Lincoln Shot by Barry Denenberg and Christopher Bing. Feiwel & Friends, 2008.

To close, here I am in a state of bliss outside the animatronic Lincoln Disneyland feature a few weeks ago post-ALA Saturday.  There was no line, because people are suckas and don’t realize that an animatronic Lincoln rivals Splash Mountain.

O Canada on the ALA Exhibit Floor

Yes, I’m still posting about ALA because it was my first one and dang exciting.  If you had just experienced Christmas for the first time on June 22, don’t you think you would still be blogging about it too? I thought so.

Previous to actually attending ALA, I would follow the conference hashtag on Twitter and feel generally sorry for myself that I had never attended.  These feelings of self-pity would really flare when I saw photos from the exhibit floor – “Oh look, there’s Mo Willems just casually strolling by!” someone would post along with a twitpic.  Way to rub it in.

The thing is, I was always really curious to see what the actual booths looked like – especially the booths of my beloved Canadian publishers.  No one really ever posted pictures of the exhibits themselves, just the fabulous people inhabiting them for four days.  So this post is basically for myself pre-June 22, 2012. But hopefully some of you who haven’t attended ALA, or didn’t get a chance to stop at the great Canadian kidlit booths, will be mildly interested.

Kids Can Press

Kids Can Press is the equivalent of the person who really gets the party started.  And, try as you might, it’s hard not to get excited about a Christmas Scaredy book. Behold their booth:

Groundwood Books

Has Groundwood ever published an unclassy book?  I think not.  I am also loving their new book, I Have the Right to Be a Child which teachers will be clamoring for in the Fall, I know. Because I won’t be working for National Geographic anytime soon, all I have is this photo of their banner.  Sigh. But it is a beautiful banner.

Tundra Books

One of my favourites and publisher of Susin Nielsen who I am apparently obsessed with judging by my last couple posts.  And the cover of The French Fry King makes me so happy.

Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Publisher of one of my faves, Shirley Woods – does anyone do books like Shirley Woods?  Novels about fictional animals (that don’t talk and aren’t creepily anthropomorphized!) that are an amazing hybrid of fiction and non-fiction and completely engaging/dramatic?

Annick Press

They do it all.  From the much-buzzed creep show of Erebos (which I still need to read but is never on the shelves) to Robert Munsch to non-fiction queen (and awesome gal) Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Annick is all awesome.

I somehow missed getting a picture of Orca’s booth, which is bad because I love them and they are the closest geographically to my apartment.  They are also coming out with a very interesting new YA series called Seven. The premise: a grandfather with a pretty interesting/adventurous past dies.  He has seven grandsons.  They all takes different paths and are presumably affected by grandpa’s death in different ways.  Each of the seven books is penned by a different, highly awesome Canadian author.  It sounds like a Canuck 39 Clues for teens.  Should be nifty.

Big apologies if I’m missing any Canadian youth publishers here.  It really was great fun to see them at the exhibits – felt like a little bit of home.

Let me close this blog post with a nod to the subpar Sbarro in the Hilton food court, provider of my lunch – a piece of cheese pizza – for three straight days at ALA.  Because I was entirely too busy and overstimulated to find a tastier, more nutritious option, I tip my hat to thee for being so convenient and having a way shorter line than the equally subpar Baja Fresh.


The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen

Let us all rise and give thanks for Susin Nielsen’s amazing new book:

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen. Pubs September 11, 2012

I picked this ARC up at the Tundra booth at ALA.  My pal Kay did too.  Before we even read it, we were tremendously excited.  We had a conversation that went roughly like this before the USBBY panel on writing about war for young people:

Kay: I got Susin Nielsen’s new –

Shannon: (interrupting as usual): Oh me too.  It looks really –

Kay and Shannon: (in unison) Really good.

Kay: I think this is going to be the one to really break her into the American market.

Shannon: Me too.  And then we can be all smug about it.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen tells the story of thirteen-year-old Henry and his dad.  They have just moved to Vancouver (the entire story takes place within a three block radius of my apartment which is so cool. But I digress).  Where is Henry’s mom?  She’s in a psychiatric facility in Ontario.  Why is she in a psychiatric facility?  Because Henry’s older brother, Jesse, took a hunting rifle to school and shot a classmate before shooting himself.  Henry is now being encouraged by his hippie therapist to keep a journal as a means to help process his feelings.  The results are hilarious and poignant and absolutely true-to-life.  In other words, you will LOL and you will :`(

That is a crying emoticon by the way – not some weird Canadian symbol used to review stellar books.

You will just fall in love with Henry.  He has gained a bit of weight since the tragedy and refers to his new un-svelte bits as his “wobblies.”  He loves wrestling.  He never fails to notice his female neighbour’s huge bazongas. When he shuts down emotionally, he will only talk in a robot voice. He is both sensitive and rude, deeply insightful and totally clueless.  He is Nielsen’s most authentic, hilarious character to date, which is really saying something because no one can write a middle grade character like Susin Nielsen.

This book also manages to deal with the aftermath of a school shooting in a way that is totally realistic without ever tipping over into melodrama.  Like The Fault in Our Stars was so much more than a cancer book, this is so much more than a school shooting book. There are some definite tougher moments, especially around the bullying that Henry’s brother endured before committing the murder-suicide, but they are quick and never unnecessary.  This is solid middle grade material that is ideal for Grades 6-8 and won’t traumatize your heartier Grade 5s.  I think some librarians might order it because of the subject matter, but they will be pleasantly surprised to find that it makes just as big of a contribution to their humour collection as their “issue” collection. Fans of Tom Angleberger and Jack Gantos will really dig this.

When I was trying to explain this book and Susin Nielsen to my mom, she quickly interjected “I know who Susin Nielsen is, Shannon.  I watched the credits of Degrassi. Credits are very important. Americans are really missing out on how awesome Degrassi Junior High was in the 1980s – the original series before Drake was on it.  The coolest thing about Degrassi was the ensemble nature of the cast.  A few episodes would focus on a handful of characters and then the focus would shift to other characters and their storylines.  Half the fun of watching Degrassi was seeing your favourite characters walk by in the background; the actors would be principal actors in one episode and extras the next. Nielsen wrote a whole bunch of Degrassi episodes, and her mad screenwriting skillz really shine in her novels as she also takes the ensemble approach with her books.  Ambrose from Word Nerd is on Henry’s school trivia team. Karen from Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom is Henry’s upstairs neighbour.  The list goes on.  I can’t tell you how much kids love making these connections and reporting them to us at the information desk.

So for those of you in the know about Susin Nielsen: this book lives up to everything you are expecting and more.  For those of you who are Nielsen neophytes, stock up on her stuff now so you can share in my smugness.