Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why won't you give me a biscuit?

Are you wondering why Bingo has that quizzical look on his face? He's wondering why you haven't added to his biscuit meter. See, Southeastern Guide Dogs has one big fundraiser every year: their Feb. Walkathon, held this year on Feb. 27, 2010. Fred and I have pledged to raise $1500 for the walkathon and we are hoping that all of our blog readers, twitter friends, facebook friends, friend friends, coworkers and relatives will help us reach that goal.

We have a personalized biscuit meter that tracks our fundraising, which is kind of cool to watch fill up. If you want more info on the walkathon, you can click the link above. If you want to donate, you can click on our biscuit meter or this link: $1000 covers the medical care of a litter of puppies like Bingo. We figured medical care and a little for toys and leashes and harnesses.

Please help us reach our goal. We'll have the link on the right hand side of the blog. Your donations are tax deductible and ANY amount is a wonderful gift.

Bingo will thank you. Actually, he would just lick you and wag his tail vigorously, but that's quite something, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tales from Outer Suburbia Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A mix between graphic novel and short story collection, this odd little book is a real charmer. It is my new favorite book. It is so compelling both visually and textually. The stories are fascinating and the accompanying drawings are a hoot. Clearly Tan has an imaginative and twisted (in very delicious and wonderful Roald Dahl ways) mind and is a gifted artist.

I would recommend this book for middle and upper students and adults.

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Skim Skim by Mariko Tamaki

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amazing graphic novel. Beautiful story about a high school girl named Kimerly Keiko (Skim) Cameron, a would be Wiccan goth and how she is trying to make it through the day, the month, the year. Her best friend is really not so good, she thinks she has found love, but it breaks her heart. There is a suicide at school, drama in the hallway, drama at home and through it all Skim is trying to figure out who she is. This story is beautifully drawn. I highly recommend it.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Enchantment Emporium The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Great urban fantasy book! Made me want to run out and find her other books and read them. She has a marvelous way of setting up characters, creating relationships, setting a plot into motion and telling a tale. If the details can get a bit murky, I can live with it. The exact nature of the Aunties and the relationship with the Gale men and wizards is left a bit vague and a bit distrubing, but nonetheless, this is a great read. It has liberal amounts of humor, great characters, awesome dialogue and action.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Kindle in Every Backpack?

Recently I did some research for my headmaster on the feasability of using the Kindle instead of textbooks for our students. I came across a nice white paper that Thomas Freedman on the idea calling it A Kindle in Every Backpack. Freedman, a former Clinton policy wonk and a wonk for a short time in 2008 for Obama/Biden on technology issues, isn't particularly advocating the Kindle, but is saying the eTextbook idea is one that has merit.

Back when the Kindle first came out, I was very excited about it and bought one for my school library. Then I realized that I would be breaking all kinds of laws and contracts if I were to use it in a library setting as a library ebook delivery system. I wrote a column for YALS castigating Jeff Bezos for his shortsightedness in ignoring the school and library market.

Amazon seems to finally be making some strides in that direction with their new Kindle DX. This larger, more expensive version was created specifically for the eTextbook market. Amazon is working on a pilot program with the Kindle in conjunction with the following six colleges and universities: Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, Reed College, University of Texas at Austin and Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

I have several teachers who swear by the Kindle for all their reading. I do have to confess, that for traveling, it seem like a guilty pleasure, a toy a librarian should have on her Santa list. But, as for eTextbooks, I'm not sure the Kindle is the device.

From what I read, Stanza for Iphone is making great leaps, but it still is leaps and bounds behind the Kindle feature-wise. The major drawback seems to be that laptops are still the better delivery system for eTexbooks. However, for Freedman's argument, they don't make economic sense, therefore, something like a Kindle is more fitting in his economic model. Also, given the whispernet technology of the Kindle, the device doesn't depend on Internet access, which a laptop does. In a poor neighborhood, some parents couldn't afford to have Internet access, so what does it matter if you have a laptop? You won't get connected!

It's a puzzler. There does need to be something done. We can't continue to load down our 60 pound students with 70 pounds of books. We do need to consider the environmental impact.

And if you want to read a charming account of one man's descent into a reading hell (the Kindle) and how he came to understand its appeal, read Nicholoson Baker's Can the Kindle Really Improve on the Book?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Librarian Moment

I had a warm the heart librarian moment on Friday. It was our school pep rally and the day was quite filled with activity. Among the many things I had to do was meet with a donor for lunch so she could meet Bingo. I also had a Model United Nations club meeting that I had to attend midway through lunch, which made lunch a little rushed and harried.

I was very excited about MUN because I was going to unveil my Libguides for MUN, which I had spent a couple of weeks over the summer putting together for the kids. Libguides was created by Springshare and is a web 2.0 way for librarians to help students organize their research online.

MUN can be very difficult and scary for the first-timer. There are all sorts of rules to follow, dress codes, procedures. It is also a ton of fun with a very low work threshold. If you can get kids interested, they can really do well and it isn't a burden on their academic course load.

When I presented the Libguide for MUN, one of the head delegates turned to me and said, "This is amazing! You've put together what I would have spent 10 hours trying to find." My other teacher sponsor was delighted with it as well. It warmed the cockles of my librarian heart.

Ah, libguides, you are wonderful.