DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

January 2013

YouthMediaAwardsThe moment we’ve all been waiting for has come! Well, maybe we haven’t all been waiting for this, but if you are a children’s librarian or into children’s books, the American Library Association’s annual announcement of the best books and audiobooks in children’s and teen literature is pretty exciting stuff. So let’s get to it! DCPL Youth Services Librarians and staff recently had its own Mock Caldecott election, for which we chose Extra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen, so I was highly anticipating these results. The Caldecott is given to the illustrator with the most notable children’s picture book and this year marks the 75th anniversary of the award.

And the 2013 Caldecott Award goes to:

This Is Not My Hat illustrated and written by Jon Klassen


The honor books are:

Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds


Extra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett

extra yarn

Green illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger


One Cool Friend illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo


Sleep Like a Tiger illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue


Love these choices! I’m not too surprised with these winners and am thrilled that a few of my personal favorites were chosen, including, of course, Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen. He cleaned up this year by taking home an honor award and the top prize for This Is Not My Hat.  A follow up to his 2011 picture book, I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat is a must-read not just for its beautiful illustrations but for the very humorous storytelling with an ending that leaves readers a lot to ponder. You can check out some of his charming illustrations at http://jonklassen.tumblr.com/

I also loved that Creepy Carrots was chosen. With a description like this (from Simon and Schuster) how could it not be award winning? :

The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch in this clever picture book parable about a rabbit who fears his favorite treats are out to get him.

It’s funny and witty, and of course, creepy and makes for a great read-aloud!

What do you think of the Caldecott committee’s choices this year? Are there any books that you felt were more deserving?

The Newbery Award is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children and this year’s award went to Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan.


And the Newbery Honor Books are (click on the picture to take you to the catalog listing):





The Caldecott and Newbery are the highest of the awards but there are many other notable awards including the Coretta Scott King Award, Printz, Belpré and more. For a full list of winners, click here.


Over the weeks and weeks that this blog post idea had been brewing in my head, amazing things have been happening. The city of Atlanta was in the throes of football hysteria as our Falcons were beating themselves a path to the NFC Championship and possibly the Super Bowl. Atlantans were buzzing with excitement, anxiety and expectation for their Falcons. Buses, billboards and houses were festooned with the home team’s paraphernalia. I’d even begun engaging folks with the simple “How ’bout them Falcons?” greeting, sometimes opening the door for an avid football fan to hold court about statistics, history and analysis of a sport that is still a bit of a mystery to me.

But I’m finding that not knowing all of the ins-and-outs of football isn’t an outright impediment to enjoying a Sunday afternoon in front of the t.v, watching the game. That is especially true if you can catch the game with friends and family who don’t mind explaining how it all works—as long as you don’t ask too many inane questions or make too many comments about how cute Tony Gonzales is.

Of course, there also are great books in the Library that extol the wonders of football to the uninitiated, the intimidated or the indifferent-until-the-Falcons-have-a-winning-season type of prospective fan. Football for Dummies by Howie Long and John Czarnecki is an obvious first choice for me—I don’t mind admitting to dummyhood. Plus, you can never go wrong with a For Dummies book if you’re in need of straight-forward, easily digestible information.

But another excellent book for football novices is the well-written, extremely entertaining and lovably titled Get Your Own Damn Beer, I’m Watching The Game: A Woman’s Guide To Loving Pro Footballby actress, author and football wife Holly Robinson Peete. I’m thoroughly enjoying this book in which Peete shares anecdotes of her love for football and offers her knowledge and insight into the sport.

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Jan 25 2013

Book Pet Peeves

by Jimmy L

notes in the margin of a bookThe other day I was talking to some friends about how we treat our books. Turns out, everybody had a different set of rules on the matter. One person was against putting an open book face down on a surface to mark a page, something that I often do, especially when I just have to leave the room for a quick second. Another was against making notes or marks inside of a book. (We’re talking about personal books, of course—library books should never be marked in.)

In general, I am quite laid back about my books. Some of the things I’ll do to my books would make any librarian cringe. I love underlining (usually with a pencil) and taking notes in the margins. Even coffee stains don’t bother me, and often give a book that “lived-in” quality for me. That is also one of the reasons I almost always prefer ratty paperbacks over pristine hardcover editions—its bendability gives it a cozy feel. I find it hard to curl up in bed with a big honking hardcover with all those edges jabbing at me.

That said, I do have my limits as well. I don’t like dog-earing pages, and while I’ll make liberal marks in a book, I cringe at marks made with a pen or highlighter (reminds me too much of college textbooks). Do you have any book pet peeves? Do you keep your books in pristine condition, or do you prefer a much-loved book with creases on the spine? Please share in the comments section.


Jan 23 2013

How I spent my fall vacation

by Dea Anne M

Back in October I took a “staycation” with a specific purpose in mind. There’s a spare room in my house that, over time, had become an impossible mess. Towering piles of paper sat on every available surface, and I do mean every available surface. I’m including the floor. Yellowing, long unread paperbacks jammed the book shelves. Craft supplies were stowed neatly in plastic boxes but I never used them because getting them out was an exercise in frustration. Dust and disorder reigned in that room and I hated going into it or even looking inside. My mission was to get the room cleaned out, organized, and ready for use as a dedicated art and craft studio. I am fully aware, of course, how fortunate I am to have enough space in my home to even contemplate such a project and this awareness served both to increase my frustration with what I had allowed the room to become and provided an impetus to get the project finished.

Tackling all that paper was the first step and it took me three full days to sort through, shred, organize, and file everything. Allow me to let that sink in with you for a moment. Three. Full. Days. I’m talking years worth of paper here – unopened junk mail, bank statements, long paid bills, stacks of receipts, tax returns – stuffed into canvas bags or stacked all over the previously mentioned surfaces. I guess the good thing is that if some official type had suddenly demanded that I produce the water bill I paid in February of  2005 then I would have been able to do so. Maybe. Finding said bill would have been a very different matter. Somewhere around the middle of the second day, I started feeling a lot of negative emotions about the whole process. “How did I let it get this bad?” I moaned. “What kind of person does that?” Fortunately, I realized that this sort of thinking wasn’t going to make the paper disappear by itself. I was lucky enough too to have access to fast and sturdy home paper shredder and finally the job was finished.

Do you need to wrangle your papers into some semblance of order? If so, then I trust you aren’t facing the same sort of disorder that I did but even if  you are, just know thatfinancial you can do it. You really can. My advice would be tackle the project and when it’s done keep it going. Go through your mail at least once a week and toss, shred, pay or respond, and file. Once a year, go through your files and do the same thing. Find out what records you need to keep and for how long and, honestly, I think going paperless when you can really helps although not everyone is comfortable with this and that’s okay too. Two resources from DCPL that I have found helpful are One Year to An Organized Financial Life: from your bills to your bank account, your home to your retirement, the week by week guide to achieving financial peace of mind by Regina Leeds and Russell Wild and Get It Together: organize your records so your family won’t have to by Melanie Cullen.

[read the rest of this post…]


Jan 21 2013

DCPL Mock Caldecott Winners

by Nancy M

untitledThis past year, DeKalb County Public Library Youth Services Librarians and staff have been reading, reviewing and voting on picture book titles leading up to our first ever Mock Caldecott election. The Caldecott Medal is a prestigious children’s award that has been given out since 1938 to the illustrator with the most distinguished picture book. Recently, we all came together for our final vote and here are the results:

The 2013 DCPL Mock Caldecott Medal goes to…

extra yarnExtra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen and written by Mac Barnett



Our Honor Books are:

bootandshoeBoot and Shoe written and illustrated by Marla Frazee



indexChloe written and illustrated by Peter McCarty



indexCindy Moo illustrated by Jeff Mack and written by Lori Mortensen



indexBear Has a Story to Tell illustrated by Erin Stead and written by Philip C. Stead


It was a tight election and there were many beautiful picture books to choose from in 2012. This was our third and final vote and you can check out our past finalists here. Here are some more picture books that did not make our final vote but are definitely worth a read. Click on the title to be taken to the DCPL catalog.









The real Caldecott Medal will be awarded on Monday, January 28 along with many other American Library Association children’s and young adult book awards including the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Book Award. You can view the winners here and check back to DCPLive that week for a listing and to share your thoughts.


Jan 18 2013

When Biting Is Not An Option

by Veronica W

He lay on the floor, arms outflung and legs thrashing furiously. As his head whipped from side to side, his wails shattered the relative peace of the store. When his mortified mother tried to pick him up, he became board stiff, then proceeded to kick and pummel her,  screaming “No!” as she carried him out. Mothers of obedient children looked on smugly and shook their heads, but for a fleeting moment I looked on with envy and thought, oh to be two years old again and able to give vent to my anger and frustration that way.

As adults, of course, we have to find other ways to deal with that urge to yell at the rude sales clerk or pulverize the lady behind you in the theater who insists on giving a running commentary during the movie. There are countless articles on the subject and books such as Anger Management for Dummies or Dr. Weisinger’s Anger Work-out Book may help. However when your stomach is churning with anger and frustration at your impotence in a situation, what do you do? Experts tell us to:

  • Breathe deeply
  • Count to ten ( or a hundred)
  • Walk away
  • Visit your “happy place”
  • Do something vigorous, like exercising
  • Pummel a pillow
  • Write a letter to the offending party

I have tried a couple of these and, depending  on the degree of heat, they often work. Sometimes however, on rare occasions, after pummeling the pillow, I bury my face in it and yell. Then it’s pistachio ice cream time. How about you?


Jan 16 2013

The Last Ringbearer

by Jesse M

The-Last-Ringbearer-by-Kirill-Eskov coverThere are two sides to every story. That’s the philosophy behind The Last Ringbearer, a tale set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth during the War of the Ring and told from the point of view of the “bad guys”. The Last Ringbearer was written by paleontologist Kirill Yeskov and published to acclaim in his native Russia in 1999. Fear of litigation by the Tolkien estate had until recently prevented its publication in English, but that changed in 2010 when Yisroel Markov posted his English translation of The Last Ringbearer as a free download. Fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will note a variety of substantial differences; Sauron and the Ring of Power rate only passing mention, and hobbits are completely absent from the tale. For more information and analysis of The Last Ringbearer, take a look at this article on the subject, or this book review. Banewreaker coverReaders interested in exploring this concept of the “bad guys” as sympathetic characters with a different point of view should also check out Jacqueline Carey’s Banewreaker, the first book (along with Godslayer) in a duology titled The Sundering, which like The Last Ringbearer was inspired by and based on The Lord of the Rings trilogy.


Jan 7 2013

Young Adult Literature …too fluffy?

by Amanda L

As a librarian who serves teens, I am always reading other blogs to find good reads, ideas for programming, etc. The organization, Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), has a blog called the Hub about Young Adult literature that I love to read.  Last month, Maria Kramer posted about a statement made in an article in England’s The Independent about the changes with the Common Core Standards and reading in America. The exact quote from The Independent which created a lot of discussion was “Tackling rich literature is the best way to prepare students for careers and college, said [Sandra] Stotsky, who blames mediocre national reading scores on weak young adult literature popular since the 1960s.”

The Jungle by Upton SinclairWhile reading both the Hub post and the article in The Independent, two thoughts immediately came to me. First, I read nonfiction books in social studies and science classes instead of English classes. I remember reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America in my high school freshman class in addition to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. These books helped make history come alive to me and gave context to what we were studying. The second thought is that while I do read literary works, they are not what I enjoy reading. I would rather read a plot driven book over a literary work any day. That having been said, I think reading a variety of books stretches one’s knowledge and taste. Ms. Kramer also cites a research study written by the National Literacy Trust which reveals that reading for pleasure is linked to a variety of literacy benefits including vocabulary building and self-confidence as a reader. The study also shows that those teens who read for pleasure perform at a higher level on reading comprehension portions of standardized tests. Finally, readers who can choose what they read enjoy reading more and are more motivated to read.

We've Got a JobEven as the core standards are rolled out over the next few years, more nonfiction for young adults will be written in the narrative form. I recently read all of the nominees for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. I especially enjoyed two of the  nominees because they made a period of history come alive.  Titanic: voices from the disaster by Deborah Hopkins was told through a variety of people and their written or oral accounts of their experience on the Titanic. She also included photographs and documents from the Titanic. The second nominee that I enjoyed was We’ve Got a Job: the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson. Similar to the Titanic book, We’ve Got a Job tackles the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March through the voices of several of the teen participants of this march. Their first hand accounts brought the civil rights movement to life for me.

Shelter by Harlan CobenEvery year YALSA has a variety of book awards and lists. The awards are announced during the Mid Winter Conference towards the end of January. This year the awards will be announced on January 28, 2013 and will be webcast. The book awards are for high quality literature broken into a variety of categories from first time author (Morris Award) to adult books with teen appeal (Alex Award). The only nominees that will be announced prior to the awards are the Excellence in Nonfiction and Morris Awards. I can’t wait to see which books will win and which will be nominated. Looking back at the young adult books that I have read this year that were released in 2012, my favorites so far are I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, BZRK by Michael Grant and Shelter by Harlan Coben. As with anything there will always be debates. Do you think young adult literature is too fluffy? What young  adult book or books have you read that were published this year that you would recommend?


Jan 4 2013

A Choice of Shots

by Veronica W

Wheezing, sneezing, sniffling, snorting, hacking, coughing; the not-so-cheery sounds of winter. The cold and flu season is here and if you haven’t been sick yet, but have stood in any line, handled money, grabbed a grocery cart or a doorknob or just glanced at a germ factory (aka a child), then run—don’t walk—to your nearest pharmacy…or pantry.

Many people swear by flu shots. I am not one of them. In fact, when a doctor asks if I am allergic to any medications, I tell him “only the injectable ones.” (Really, I do and he always pauses for a moment before he gets it and smiles)

Before taking all those truly expensive—and questionably effective—OTC meds, why not dig out your grandmother’s journal and look at some good ole home home remediesremedies. I’ll bet you have some of the ingredients on hand already. If nothing else, you’ll have a good laugh, which certainly will do you much good. Here are some “proven” cures.

  • Place a mustard plaster (dry mustard, flour and water paste in a cloth) on a congested chest
  • Tying a big red onion to the bedpost keeps the ones in the bed from having colds
  • Simmer a clove of garlic in a cup of milk and add a pat of butter before drinking
  • Eat a chocolate bar for a tickly throat  (Yes!)
  • Rub Vicks on your chest and feet
  • Suck on a clove of garlic
  • Tie a dirty sock around your neck when you go to bed if you have a sore throat
  • Mix a drink of lemon, honey and fresh onion juice
  • Stuff a moist wad of tobacco in an infected ear or blow tobacco smoke in it

If these don’t appeal to you, you can pore over some other remedies in The Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine, The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies or Honey, Mud, Maggots and Other Medical Marvels. Please note: Homemade chicken soup is in a category all by itself and is not only delicious and effective but has the added benefit of showing that someone loved you enough to make it. 

When all else fails, the hot toddy is a tried and true remedy. Make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add a teaspoon of honey, a small (!!!) shot of whiskey or bourbon, and a squeeze of lemon. Then bundle up and sweat it out.  Whatever you choose to do, I was told colds and flu are “three days coming, three days with you and three days going.” You do the math. If your home remedy can reduce that time, then please, please, please share it.  A-a-a-choo!


As we transition from the old year to the new, our thoughts naturally turn to contemplation of the future and what it holds in store for us. For those of us working in public libraries, it is a good opportunity to ask, “What should we be focusing on?”, and in order to help us make that determination, we need feedback from the communities we serve. That’s where you come in.

First of all, I’d like to invite you to participate in a short (roughly five minute) survey being conducted on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries Initiative.

The purpose of the survey is to help the Global Libraries Initiative identify opportunities to focus their current support of public libraries in ways that foster innovation and dramatically accelerate positive and lasting change in libraries throughout the U.S. and around the world.

To participate in the survey, click here.

Secondly, I’d like to invite you to provide your valuable feedback on a more local level. Currently DCPL is in the process of developing a strategic plan, and is soliciting input through public feedback sessions to help the Library set priorities for the next three years. While the majority of the sessions have already occurred, the final session takes place on Tuesday, January 8 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. at the Hairston Crossing Library, and we’d love to see you there! For more information, call 404.370.8450, ext. 2228.

Have a happy new year!