Archive for December, 2013

Can’t Let Go of LEGO

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013


I can’t let the Best of the Year go by without highlighting LEGO books (I’ve written before about how great the DK LEGO Readers are).

The classic LEGO brick was designed by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen in the 1940s. Christiansen began to make wooden toys after losing his job, and  soon designed an interlocking brick that would mimic the stacking ability of regular blocks, but allow for more creative building possibilities. He named his product “LEGO” after the Danish phrase leg godt, or “play well.”

LEGO has stood the test of time as a building toy with open-ended possibilities. There is no “right” way to play with LEGOs.

To add to the already strong interest, a LEGO movie is coming in February 2014.

It features some pretty great voices, including those of Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson.

Ed Note: Yes, but how could they have not used LEGO master, Eddie Izzard:

There will be tie-ins, of course.

9781465416971_31504  9781465416957_9f730   LEGO Tie-ins

Download  the  LEGO tie-ins spreadsheet.

For the holiday season, do not miss these three standouts from the LEGO “verse,” beginning with:

9780805096927Cool Creations in 35 Pieces, Sean Kenney, (Macmillan/Henry Holt YR)

The most recent volume fromrenowned LEGO artist Kenney gives kids step-by-step instructions to make robots, nutty animals and vehicles from steam engines to a jumbo jet.

And, two spectacular volumes from No Starch Press:

9781593275211   9781593275082_abd0f

LEGO Space: Building the Future, Peter Reid and Tim Goddard, (No Starch Press)

Goddard and Reid have created a coffee table book of a science fiction world completely made of LEGOs. We explore the architecture, technology and life on other planets as we enter the realm of space pirates, battle cruisers, mining camps and more.

Beautiful LEGO, Mike Doyle, (No Starch Press)

You know how those artfully arranged glossy full color shots of food lavishly displayed has been labeled “food porn” ? If I may be so rude, this is LEGO porn. Stylistically arranged LEGO creations lovingly presented to the fandom. As The Horn Book says, “Elevating the preschool building toy to high art, this book’s gorgeous photographs of hundreds of LEGO sculptures … go well beyond anything you’d see at a LEGOLAND theme park.”


Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

In a year-end video, HBO wraps up 2013 and offers brief (warning: VERY brief) glimpses of the upcoming year, including several shows based on books or with book connections:

The Leftovers —  based on the novel by Tom Perotta, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; tie-in scheduled for 5/6/14)

Olive Kitteridge —  based on the novel by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

The Normal Heart — adapted from the play by Larry Kramer, (Grove Press)

Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays — Crystal’s one-man show, (Hachette/Grand Central), to be taped before a live audience

The video also includes glimpses of continuations of other series based on books — Game of Thrones (spring release), Boardwalk Empire (begins Sept. 8) and True Blood (final season; summer release).

FIFTY SHADES And Mary Poppins

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Mary Poppins She Wrote  Fifty Shades of Grey

Q: What’s the link between Fifty Shades of Grey and the life of P. L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins?

A: Both have been adapted as movies (the latter titled Saving Mr. Banks), with scripts by Kelly Marcel.

Marcel, who was handpicked by E.L. James to adapt Fifty Shades of Greyspeaks to Vanity Fair about her process for each movie. One involved reading a bio of her subject, Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers by Valerie Lawson (S&S). The other, watching “lots of porn.”

Saving Mr. Banks opened in a limited run last week and will expand to more theater this Friday. Fifty Shades of Grey, currently filming in Vancouver, is scheduled for release on Feb. 13, 2015.

Flavia de Luce Tops LibraryReads for January

Monday, December 16th, 2013

The Dead in Their Vaulted ArchesThe number one title on the January LibraryReads list of ten library staff favorites for the month, released on Friday, features Alan Bradley’s almost-12-year-old detective, Flavia de Luce in her sixth adventure, The Dead In Their Vaulted Arches, (RH/Delacorte; RH Audio; BOT; Thorndike). Describing it, Nancy Russell of Ohio’s Columbus Metropolitan Library, says, “You’ll enjoy seeing new depths in Flavia – this novel takes the series in an exciting direction.”

Earlier this year, author Bradley talked about how pleased he is that director-producer Sam Mendes bought the film rights to the series for a 10-episode television series. The new title completes the original story arc, but with the TV series a possibility, Bradley is planning at least four more Flavia novels.

Other books on the list bring to light little-known aspects of the two world wars. In The Wind Is Not a River, (Harper/Ecco), author Brian Payton sets his WWII novel against the Japanese invasion of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. A Star for Mrs. Blake is set after WW I, when  Gold Star mothers were offered funds by the U.S. government to visit their sons’ graves in France. The novel imagines the journey of five of them, including one feisty small-town librarian.

9781612192642_ea593The list also includes a novel from indie Brooklyn publisher Melville House (their blog is one of the most entertaining and outspoken in publishing) with an attention-getting title, A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor.

Describing it, Jane Jorgenson, of Wisconsin’s Madison Public Library says, “Leonard works for Neetsa Pizza, a Pythagorean pizza chain, in the near-ish future. His job is to take calls, listen to complaints and help his customers achieve maximum pizza happiness. His employee manual gives him an answer for every scenario–until he gets a call from Marco, who seems to be calling from another time or space. Think of Terry Pratchett crossed with Douglas Adams.”

Many of the ten titles are available as eGalleys, so you can read them now and be ready to recommend them when they are published. Our downloadable spreadsheet, LibraryReads, Jan. includes information on eGalley availability, as well as alternate formats.

Remember to nominate your favorite forthcoming titles for LibraryReads!

To learn more, come to the LibraryReads program at Midwinter:

LibraryReads: Collaborative Discovery for
Librarians & Patrons
Saturday, Jan. 25, 11:30 – 12:30    PCC 114 Lecture Hall [PLEASE NOTE change in time and location]

Find out how to share the books you love with readers across the country and enhance your professional profile by participating in LibraryReads, the monthly, nationwide library staff picks list.

#libfaves13, The Roundup

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Librarians tweeted their favorite ten titles of the year in a countdown ending Dec. 10th.

We now have a ranked list of all the titles and it proves how eclectic and wide ranging librarian’s tastes are. With over 950 votes, only two titles received more than 25 and both are by the same author, Rainbow Rowell for Eleanor & Park and Fangirl (each from Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin; Listening Library; Thorndike).

As we noted earlier,  Eleanor & Park was also picked as one of the year’s best books by all the library sources (Kirkus, Horn Book, SLJ and PW) as well as several consumer sources (Amazon Editors Top 20, NPR Staff Picks and NYT Book Review Notable Children’s Books). Fangirl was the #1 LibraryReads pick for the inaugural, September list and was also picked by SLJ,  NYT Book Review as a Notable Children’s Books and by Amazon Editors for the best kids list.

The Human Division

One novel that ranked high with librarians, but has not shown up on other best lists is John Scalzi’s SF title, The Human Division (Macmillan/Tor; Brilliance Audio).

Librarians expressed their enjoyment, saying:

“… excellent space opera”

“Absolutely awesome SF. May be next year’s Hugo winner”

“… love his humor”

“The B team tries to save humanity!”

The real fun of the list is scrolling through to see the variety; Libfaves13. All Titles, Ranked. It’s great inspiration for readers advisors.

Thanks to Robin Beerbower, Stephanie Chase and Linda Johns for organizing #libfaves, now in its third year.

Sign up Now for ALA/AAP Events

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Several librarian favorites (e.g., Rainbow Rowell, Ransom Riggs, Wiley Cash) will appear at events sponsored by the Association of American Publishers (cosponsored this year by LibraryReads) at the upcoming Midwinter meeting. That may seem a long way off, but these limited-seating events fill up fast, so don’t put this off.

ALA Midwinter BookTalk Breakfast 2014 (AAP and LibraryReads)

Monday, January 27th from 8:30 – 10:00am
Philadelphia Convention Center, Room PCC-122 B

Official invitation here: ALA Midwinter Booktalk Breakfast 2014 Invitation

Space is limited. RSVP HERE with your interest in attending by Monday, January 13th. The AAP will send you a confirmation if they can accommodate your request. Author signings to follow the program.

9781455501762_bb289 9780802122346 9780062088253_0_Cover

9781594746123_cb57b   9781250049377_c5135

Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Living With A Wild God, (Hachette/Twelve)

Alice LaPlante, author of Circle of Wives, (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Ransom Riggs, Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Children (Quirk)

Rainbow Rowell, author of Landline (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin)

Wiley Cash, author of This Dark Road to Mercy (HarperCollins/Morrow)

ALA Midwinter 2014’s Best in Debut Authors (AAP and LibraryReads)

Saturday, January 25th from 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Philadelphia Convention Center
Room PCC-108B

Official invitation here: ALA Midwinter Debut Panel 2014 Invitation

Space is limited. RSVP HERE with your interest in attending by Monday, January 13th. AAP will send you a confirmation if they can accommodate your request. Author signings to follow the program.

9781617751943   9780762452705_3c8bd

Archetype  9781612192642_ea593

Laurie Loewenstein, author of Unmentionables (Akashic)

Leah Eskin, author of Slices of Life: A Food Writer Cooks through Many a Conundrum (Perseus/Running Press)

M.D. Waters, author of Archetype (Dutton)

Rachel Cantor, author of A Highly Unlikely Scenario (Melville House)

And, while you’re at it, add this to your calendar (no requirement to sign up for this one, however):


Sunday, January 26th from 3:00-4:00 pm
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
Room Franklin 07

Watch the librarians face off against our fearless authors in a ferocious battle, Family Feud  style. For more, including names of competing authors and librarians, click here — ALA Midwinter 2014 Library Family Feud flyer

Updated Best Books Spreadsheets

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Our latest roundup of the nonfiction best books picks (downloadable spreadsheet, 2013 — Best Books, Adult Nonfiction, Version 3) adds in  titles from 6 new lists, resulting in a total of 15 sources (listed on the spreadsheet; links are at the right, under Best Books), with 396 picks for 267 titles.

Five Days At Memorial   Going Clear

Tied at #1 with 8 picks each is:

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital,  Sheri Fink, (RH/Crown; RH Audio/BOT)  — includes a LibraryReads pick and top ten picks from LJ and NYT Book Review.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief , Wright, Lawrence.  (RH/Knopf)  — includes  PW and Washington Post top ten picks and National Book Award finalist.

Thanks You for Your Service   The Unwinding

Close behind, with 7 each:

Thank You for Your Service, David Finkel, (Macmillan/FSG/Sarah Crichton; Macmillan Audio

The Unwinding, George Packer, (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio) — (the National book award winner)

We expect the daily New York Times reviewers to weigh in next week, followed by  Booklist and the various ALA awards in January.

The latest spreadsheets to date are:

2013 — Best Books, Adult Fiction, Version 4

2013 — Best Books, Adult Nonfiction, Version 3

2013 — Best Books, Childrens and YA, Version 2


Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Sword_of_shannara_hardcoverThe book that was hailed as the next big thing in fantasy after The Lord of the Rings back in the ’70’s,  The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks, (RH/Del Rey; 1977) is now being seen as the next Game of Thrones, by MTV which has announced plans to adapt the entire 25-book saga (via The Hollywood Reporter).

The producers have secured a straight-to-series commitment (translated, if the network honchos like the script, they will get right to work on the series, bypassing the pilot stage).

978-0-345-52353-2   9780345540706   9780345540799_3efe0

The most recent title in the series, Witch Wraith (RH/Del Rey; RH Audio) was published in July. The first book in the Defenders of Shannara trilogy, supposedly the final books of the saga, The High Druid’s Blade is scheduled for publication in  March 2014. It will be followed in August by The Darkling Child (RH/Del Rey; RH Audio).

Updated Childrens and YA Best Books Spreadsheet Is Here!

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Horn Book‘s “Fanfare 2013,” the editors’ choices of the 30 best books published this year, was released today, so we’ve updated our roundup of all the children’s and teen best books list in a downloadable spreadsheet, for your use in end-of-the year ordering, displays, and to add to your ever-growing TBR lists —  2013 — Best Books, Childrens and YA, Version 2.

Eleanor & park  Mr. Wuffles!  9781596439245

The resulting list represents 435 picks for 280 titles from nine sources. The top three, with 7 picks each are:

Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin) — author Rowell has emerged as a huge favorite among both adult and YA librarians this year, for both this title and Fangirl, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin), which is on 3 best books lists, as well as being a LibraryReads #1 pick. Anticipation is strong for Rowell’s next adult title, Landline (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press), coming in July.

Mr. Wuffles!, David Wiesner, (HMH/Clarion Books) — a nearly wordless book filled with sly humor. See the model for Mr. Wuffles here:

Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang, (Macmillan/ First Second) — Says Hornbook, “Trust Gene Luen Yang to find the humor — as well as the adventure and historical significance — in China’s Boxer Rebellion.”

Oprah’s Third Book Club 2.0 Pick

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Invention of WingsOprah has announced the next title in her Book Club 2.0 series, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, (Penguin/Viking; Penguin Audio; Recorded Books; Thorndike), frustrating some readers because it won’t be available for a few more weeks (pub date is Jan. 7).

Librarians, however, can request eGalleys via Netgalley.

Previous titles in Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, were Wild by Cheryl Strayed (RH/Knopf) and Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (RH/Knopf).

#libfaves13 — Day Ten

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Below is our Storified version of the final day of #libfaves13.

The list of top picks is on BiblioCommons.

Others have created their own lists of favorites.

The Best Informational Books To Give Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013


Continuing our seventh annual best “books to give to kids you don’t know” round-up (see the first installment, here), we’re focusing on books that appeal to kids who are more interested in real things; real animals and real people, real places and real history. These are the kids who love to quiz their friends with questions like:

Did you know that basketball was invented by a guy from the YMCA?

…that Ben Franklin’s experiment with a kite and a key in a thunderstorm determined that lightning and electricity were one and the same?

…that turtles have a mouth with a hard beak but no teeth? Here are my favorites grouped by interest.


Hoop Genius

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball, John Coy (Lerner/Carolrhoda, Ages 5 and up).

In this book, we discover how James Naismith took a group of energetic young men and created a safe, exciting indoor game. Did you know that the original basket in basket ball was one for peaches and that every timea basket was made, play had to stop while someone climbed a ladder to retrieve the ball?

Below, author John Coy at the Celebration of Minnesota Children’s Authors and Illustrators, held September 21 in Red Wing, Minnesota.

A REAL hoop

Nelson Mandela, Kadir Nelson

Nelson Mandela, Kadir Nelson, (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan Books, Ages 6 and up).

Mandela’s recent death has brought more attention to this great man’s life. We are grateful to have the artwork of award winning artist, Kadir Nelson in this stirring biography. Shining a light on a person who inspires us to improve ourselves, our family and community, this book is a perfect Kwanzaa gift.


Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty , Russell Freedman, (Holiday House, Ages 10 and up)

Russell Freedman is a national treasure. His meticulously researched and engagingly written narrative brings new life to one of the most written about American Revolutionary figures.

When Stravinsky

When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot, written and illus. by Lauren Stringer, (Harcourt, Ages 7 and up).

Stringer expressive volume explores the sometimes fraught but always exciting collaboration of two of the most innovated artists of the previous century. In 1913, the avant-garde composer Igor Stravinsky composed The Rite of Spring (in French, Le Sacre du printemps) to be choreographed by the internationally renowned dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The collaboration was so shocking at the time that the debut performance ended with the audience rioting.

Be sure to also check out Stringer’s fascinating description of her research and creative process on her website.


The Flight of the Honey Bee

The Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber, illus. by Brian Lovelock, (Candlewick, Ages 6 and up).

Huber’s fact filled sentences and lyrical style are a perfect match for Lovelock’s sweeping watercolor, acrylic and colored pencil illustrations of bees dancing, working and in flight.


Bugs: A Stunning Pop-up Look at Insects, Spiders, and Other Creepy-Crawlies, George McGavin, Jim Kay, (Candlewick, Ages 5 and up).

Gorgeous, magnificent, exquisite, superb, and, yes, stunning … there aren’t enough adjectives to describe this pop-up books about bugs. Formatted to appear as a historic exhibit with a naturalist’s handwritten notes and period illustrations, it offers all the facts a young scientist could want and this wonderfully creepy pop-up of a scorpion ready to attack:

Bugs -- interior spread

More Kid-Favorite Topics 


Locomotive, Brian Floca, (S&SAtheneum, all ages).

Floca’s words echo the rhythm of a train wheels on the track as we journey west on the steam engine and his generous use of onomatopoeia creates a text that sings. Readers will revel in the historical accuracy of the detailed paintings and find themselves swept back in time by the extensive spreads.


Toilet: How It Works, David Macaulay, Sheila Keenan, illus. by David Macaulay, (My Readers Series, Macmillan/Roaring Brook/David Macaulay Studio, Ages  5 and up)

Longtime fans of Macaulay have always appreciated his attention to detail. Booktalking librarians take great delight in pointing out the toilets that appear in his previous works. This time, the toilet stars in its own easy reader and it is with glee that I recommend it to you now.

Defies Category

Go Chip Kidd

Go: A Kidd’s guide to Graphic Design, Chip Kidd, (Workman, Ages 10 and up — all the grown ups that you know)

Okay, even as I write this, I know I sound crazy. There are two books I want to give to all my family and friends who are over ten years old. This is one. Chip Kidd who changed the face of book cover design in a humorous, easy-going personal narrative explains what design is and how we are all capable of making intelligent design choices. Although Kidd is writing for kids, this volumes accessibility to anyone with an interest of how the world looks and how it got that way won’t be able to put it down.

#libfaves13 — Today is the Final Day!

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Did the organizers of #libfaves13 realize that today, the final day of librarians tweeting their favorite ten titles of the year is ALSO the title of a book on many best lists —  George Saunders’ Tenth of December, (Random House)?

Don’t let your favorites go unrecognized. Even if you haven’t joined in so far, it’s not too late. Use hashtag #libfaves13 to tweet your one favorite book of the year (meaning you read it this year, not necessarily the pub date), or write ten tweets for each of your ten favorites. Please include authors (last name is fine to save space), so the compilers can identify the correct titles. It also helps if you write the titles in all caps.

We’ve enjoyed seeing the range of titles and the creative ways librarians describe them (many would be great models for RA training). As one librarian noted, this “Reminds me I went into the right field.” Another, Claire S., @readerpants, showed how effective these 140 character readers advisories can be, by snapping her TBR pile and asking, “Think I’ve been following #libfaves13?” —

#libfaves TBR pile

We’ve put together each day’s tweets on (search #libfaves13). This year, the library marketers joined in with their own version, so also check out #LibMKTGfaves13.

Thanks to Robin Beerbower, Stephanie Chase and Linda Johns for organizing #libfaves, now in its third year.

We’re looking forward to this year’s roundup (check out last year’s here).

FIFTY SHADES Begins Filming

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Vancouver, Canada is standing in for Seattle, as Fifty Shades of Grey began filming last week.  A photo of the first, rather chaste, kiss between costars Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele) and Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey) flashed around the world today.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Several new cast members have signed on, including Marcia Gay Harden as Christian Grey’s mother and British singer-songwriter Rita Ora as his adopted sister, Mia.

One of the producers, Dan Brunetti, in an interview for the movie site, said he thought it “would be cool” if they released more explicit, NC-17 version a few weeks after the R-rated version arrives in theaters on Feb. 13, 2015. He notes, “What we’re kind of hearing from the fans is they want it dirty, they want it as close as possible [to the book]. We want to keep it elevated but also give the fans what they want.”

Two versions might solve that problem, with the side benefit of getting fans to pay twice.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, Rooted in Folk Music

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The  Coen brother’s latest movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, “marks the best limited start ever for Joel and Ethan Coen,” according to The Hollywood Reporter (translated, it opened in just 4 theaters, but pulled in more than $100,00 in each). It expands into more theaters on Dec. 20 and nationwide in January

9780306822162   Mayor of MacDougal Street

Inspired by real-life musician Dave Van Ronk’s memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, (Perseus/Da Capo Press; trade pbk tie-in; cover above, left), it stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman and Garrett Hedlund.

In the NYT, book critic Janet Maslin predicts that the film is “poised to generate a tidal wave of nostalgia — and stir interest among moviegoers who were unfamiliar with this milieu” and suggests fhe documentary (Greenwich Village: Music that Defined a Generation, now on DVD, Kino Lorber, $29.95), the movie soundtrack and a book as ways to learn more about “the folkie world that the Coens recreate so wittily and well.” The book is, of course, Van Ronk’s “sharp, cantankerous memoir.”

Trailer for Greenwich Village: Music that Defined a Generation.