Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bounce Back: How to thrive in the face of adversity, setbacks, and losses by Karen Salmansohn

Strength in the face of adversity.  Author Salmansohn explains that this is what she needed to find after she was sexually assaulted.  It was hard.  This book is a result of her efforts to collect tools for her “resiliency toolbox”.  Among the 75 tips offered to the reader in brief (1-3 page) chapters are the obvious (tip #2 What you are going through right now is normal” and tip #3 “There is no such thing as normal.”) as well as the metaphorical (tip #51 "Anger is a boomerang.”)  Some, like #51, are followed by an assignment-- actionable steps the reader can take to implement the advice offered.  While students do not gravitate toward this title, social workers and librarians may want to have it on hand as a quick how-to.  Adults who work with incarcerated and detained youth may be interested in checking this book out for themselves.  Readers will note that while much of the advice is relevant to teens of both sexes, Salmansohn’s intended audience is adult women like herself.

Salmansohn, Karen.  Bounce Back:  How to thrive in the face of adversity, setbacks, and losses.  New York:  Workman Publishing Company, 2008. Print.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yuck! the things people eat by Neil Setchfield

Have you ever eaten kangaroo tail?  Snake on a stick?  Setchfield’s detailed photographs don’t seek to expand reader’s culinary horizons as much as they intend to “demonstrate that, when it comes to food, palatability is highly subjective.”  This concept can spark deep conversations and exploratory arguments leading to greater appreciation for cultural perspectives and global variety.  To be honest, though, this book usually grabs readers’ attention because of the visceral reactions and ensuing debates of readers.  Yuck!’s brief introduction is followed by chapters featuring bugs, sea creatures, four-legged animals, reptiles and amphibians, fowl, and processed foods/remains.  Back matter consists of one page of additional foods omitted and a short bibliography for further reading. This small 240 page volume is in frequent circulation among readers and non-readers alike.  Each double page spread includes a full color photograph faced by a square of text with a paragraph or two describing the delicacy and its context.  Recommended for independent reading, paired readings, and as a conversation starter on taste, preference, and cultural perspective.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Setchfield, Neil.  Yuck!  the things people eat.  London:  Merrell, 2010.  Print.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fresh for '01...You Suckas: A Boondocks Collection by Aaron McGruder

If you enjoyed watching The Boondocks on television; or the daily, though sometimes censored, comic strip published in the newspaper; and have missed Huey, Riley and the rest of the residents of Woodcrest, this book might be a good fit for you. The black and white cartoon illustrations compiled from the daily comic strip feature the residents of Woodcrest as Huey and Riley attempt to maintain their cultural identity in their suburban surroundings. Caesar, from Brooklyn, is a welcome addition to Woodcrest, and brings his own humor to the small suburban community. Students enjoy the comic strip format of the book as well as the humor of the characters and their antics. The political commentary is still surprisingly relevant more than a decade after the publication date and can serve as a springboard for discussions about current race relations and politics in America. --Bernardine Lowery-Crute

McGruder, Aaron. Fresh for ‘01...You Suckas. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2001. Print.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spotlight Interview: Bernardine Lowery-Crute

The Passages Academy Libraries team is thrilled to introduce Bernardine Lowery-Crute, Bronx Hope's new librarian.  Bernardine is an accomplished school librarian who will be providing library services to Bronx Hope's students and staff for the remainder of the school year.  Please join us in giving her a warm Passages Academy welcome. --Regan Schwartz 

RS: Can you tell our readers a little bit about your background in teaching and what you were doing before coming aboard the Passages Academy Library team?

BLC: I have worked as a teacher for the Department of Education since 1988. During that time I spent 14 years at the elementary level and taught 1st grade, kindergarten, third grade and library to grades K – 4. I then spent 10 years at the middle school level where I taught 6th and 8th grade English for one year and then library to grades 6 – 8.  Just before becoming a part of the Passages Library team the library in my middle school was closed and I was excessed.

RS: What is your favorite thing to read and your favorite place to read?

BLC: My taste in reading, like my taste in most things, tends to be very eclectic. I seem to go through phases where I just read one genre or another. Almost anything from suspense to mystery to romance to urban fiction can be my favorite for the moment. If I had to pick one favorite above all I would probably say crime drama/mystery. My favorite place to read is lying on the beach but since I only get to do that on vacation, I’d have to say lying in bed.

RS: What was your favorite book when you were a teenager?

BLC: When I was a teenager my favorite author would have been Donald Goines. I just could not get enough of him. His writing was real to me in that it reflected what I knew existed in my surroundings even if I led a life that was sheltered enough that it did not exist in my immediate presence.

RS: What do you like to do for fun when you're not reading?

BLC: When I’m not reading I love to lose myself in a movie. I go to the movies probably at least once every week. I love to sit in the dark with a bucket of popcorn and some Goobers and be entertained by the stories being told on the big screen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hubble: Imaging Space and Time by David Devorkin and Robert W. Smith

This large-format, stunning collection of full-color enhanced images from the Hubble telescope is perfect for those students who are fascinated by the natural world.  When my inquisitive students turn their wondering gaze to the sky, I’m ready with Hubble: Imaging Space and Time.  While the text is dense and somewhat inaccessible, it does not affect the book’s appeal.  Nearly every page contains large, detailed photos captured by the Hubble telescope, including planets, stars, nebulae, star clusters, galaxies, black holes, and galaxy clusters - rendered in fascinating detail with informative captions.  There are billions of galaxies in the universe, each with billions of stars - and Hubble: Imaging Space and Time is a fantastic introduction to them. Front matter includes a table of contents and foreword by Neil deGrasse Tyson and John Grunsfeld and back matter includes an index, endnotes, suggested reading, and about the authors. --Regan Schwartz

Devorkin, David and Robert W. Smith. Hubble: Imaging Space and Time. Washington D.C.: National Geographic, 2011. Print.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NBA Champions: New York Knicks by Aaron Frisch

Don’t like to read?  This book, and others in the NBA Champions series, have become some of the more heavily-relied upon go-to books.  Go-to, that is,  for students who tell me the first time I meet them in Belmont’s library that they “hate to read and don’t want to see nothing.”  If, in response to my questioning about other interests, they mention basketball, I can usually solicit the name of their favorite team, go to our sports section, and return, handily, with a title from this series.  Silent perusal of the book is most often what I observe next.  What’s inside?  Twenty-four full-color pages with historical pictures and one or two sentences per page.  The captions for the photos are short and accessible.  This book is perfect for the emergent reader who is a Knicks fan and struggling in an independent reading situation.  The text, while unthrilling, does a serviceable job of engaging the reader’s attention in a few facts about the Knicks.  Did you know they formed in 1946?  Or what “Knicks” is short for?  I didn’t either--until now.  A table of contents, an index and glossary make this a suitable pick for reading specialists introducing non-fiction.  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Frisch, Aaron.  NBA Champions: The New York Knicks.  Mankato:  Creative Paperbacks, 2012.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Guest Post: Words Unlocked

I began following What’s Good? in the Library several years ago, when I was helping to run a book club with youth charged and incarcerated as adults at DC Jail and searching desperately for new titles for our monthly “book ballot.” I found What’s Good? to be a resource in a way that standard curricula and book lists were not- the librarians posting reviews understood the unique circumstances of working in a detention setting, and embraced the challenge!

April is National Poetry Month, but it can be difficult to tie poetry into programming in a way that is real and relevant. When I heard about the Words Unlocked initiative from the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, I felt the same feeling of thankful recognition as when I discovered “What’s Good?” Designed specifically for educators working with youth in detention, the Words Unlocked wiki is loaded with free resources- downloadable lesson plans, worksheets, poem links and more. It also offers a great opportunity to engage nationwide- for educators through the online teacher community, and for youth by entering a national Poetry Contest, to be judged by esteemed authors Jimmy Santiago Baca and R. Dwayne Betts.

Last night, in a writing workshop at a youth detention center, one longtime participant remarked that poetry had changed his life. “Sometimes you have to write things into existence,” he told me.  “If I hadn’t written those poems, I wouldn’t have decided to make new choices.” To get involved, visit Words Unlocked today!

Check out:  http://wordsunlocked.wikispaces.com/  --Juliana Ratner

Juliana Martin Ratner has been writing with incarcerated youth since 2008. She currently facilitates a poetry workshop at New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Washington, DC through a collaboration between Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop and The Beat Within. She also assists the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings with outreach and special projects.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

We Skate Hardcore: Photographs from Brooklyn’s Southside by Vincent Cianni

This popular and evocative collection of mostly black and white photographs documents the vibrant inline skating culture that was thriving in the south side of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood in the 1990s.  Part photo-journalism and part personal history, We Skate Hardcore weaves the author’s narrative together with photographs (often accompanied by handwritten descriptions by subjects) and interviews.  Southside Williamsburg in the nineties was a neighborhood suffering from high crime and poverty rates.  This book is an homage to these young skaters’ passion and determination to build (sometimes literally!) a better future for themselves.  Additionally, We Skate Hardcore is a window into New York City’s recent history and a very interesting form of memoir, which Social Studies and English teachers may find useful in the classroom.  While the collection is almost entirely school-appropriate, librarians may hope that a vandal takes a scissor to the corner of a page of grainy color photos about fourteen pages from the book’s end. --Regan Schwartz

Cianni, V.  We Skate Hardcore: Photographs from Brooklyn’s Southside.  New York: New York University Press, 2004.  Print.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hip-Hop Rhyming Dictionary by Kevin M. Mitchell

If you like to write rap lyrics and could only pick one book to be stranded on a desert island (or locked in a small institutional room) with every night for a week, you would likely want to consider Mitchell’s reference work as you make your careful selection.  This pocket-sized paperback was designed for writers on the go, weighing in at a lightweight 180 pages.  One of my favorite lines from the intro reads “Words found offensive are … left out because there are only so many trees we can slay to make this book...”  The slim profile is part of the appeal for the reluctant readers and would-be prolific writer of rhymes.  In addition to the simple-to-use format we couldn’t get enough of in Scholastic’s now out-of-print rhyming dictionary, Mitchell includes accessible and engaging front matter.  These first fifteen pages feature an intro, an explanation of how the book works, five tips for writing, a brief history of rap, and a short bibliography of recommended reading.  Teachers of literacy, ELA and creative writing will find this essential and many a Passages student has articulated a desire not to return a borrowed copy to the library.  Multiple copies strongly recommended. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Mitchell, Kevin M.  Hip-Hop Rhyming Dictionary.  Los Angeles: Firebrand Music, 2003.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

“All art is theft.” - Pablo Picasso

This provocative quote opens this intriguing tome of creative advice, wherein Kleon goes on to  expound on his ten essential secrets to unleashing your creative potential in whatever way you can.  Organized like an exploded PowerPoint presentation, each tip is scrawled across a two-page spread, and then elucidated via cartoons, photos, graphic organizers, black-out poetry, and quotes from creative types ranging from John Cleese to Gustave Flaubert.  With advice like, “quit picking fights and go make something,” and “start copying,” Steal Like an Artist is sure to stoke the creative fires in many a frustrated creator.  Included are a list of next steps to take, recommended reading, and deleted scenes of advice that did not make the cut. --Regan Schwartz

Kleon, Austin.  Steal Like an Artist:10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.  New York: Workman Publishing, 2012.  Print.