Vote!

voteYesterday, I was recuperating from a big library event I coordinated over the weekend. There won’t be a story time post today, but I’ll be back Friday with details about the event. For a sneek peek at what we were up to, scroll to the bottom of this post!

I do, however, have an announcement! Public voting has opened for the ALA Conversation Starter sessions at this summer’s conference in San Francisco. And I’m up for two of the sessions!

The first session is called “I Came, I Saw, I Crafted.” It’s about the creative programs I do, and how to adapt them to your library. There will be hands-on projects to try, tips, suggestions, and advice about bringing new programming to your library (regardless of staffing levels and budgets). You can read about the session (and vote!) here.

The second session is a collaboration with my colleagues at New York University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s called “Platypus: Non-Traditional Libraries Making Connections to Children, Literacy, Non-fiction, and the Arts.” The session is about our unusual libraries, our outreach programs, and how you might adapt our programs to your library. I’ll be talking about the work I do with our rare books and special collections (you can read more about the programs here). And you can read more about the session (aaaand vote!) here.

Please consider casting a vote for me. It would be fantastic to share some creative literacy and library love with you in San Francisco!

And now, as promised, a little peek at the subject of last Saturday’s event. Tune in Friday for details…

sneek peek pickle car

The Little Library That Could

cotsen bookThis week, Princeton University featured the Cotsen Children’s Library on their home page! In addition to a lovely article, there’s a short video that includes footage of our programs, interviews with some of our students, and shots of Bookscape, our public gallery for children. And yes, I’m in the video too!

A few blog connections: The chapter book I’m reading to the children at the beginning of the video is Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke. You can see the sword and shield project we did for the book here.

The picture book I’m reading to the younger children is Snail Boy by Leslie McGuirk. The accompanying project (a pull string snail and super-slow snail races) can be found here.

Jared Crooks is a University graduate student and the author of the book he’s leafing through! It’s titled The Several Strange Adventures of Max and Ding. You can read more about Jared, and see the robot backpacks we made at his story time, here.

jared's bookA big thank you to Danielle Alio, Multimedia Supervisor at Princeton University’s Office of Communications. You did a beautiful job capturing the spirit of our library in this video. Thank you so much.

Podcasts! Podcasts! Podcasts!

bibliofiles artwork by aliisa leeI’m delighted to announce that the BiblioFiles, our illuminating interviews with children’s book authors, are now available as podcasts! Download interviews with Phillip Pullman, Sharon Creech, Candace Fleming, Atinuke, Rebecca Stead, Gary Schmidt, Trenton Lee Stewart, M.T. Anderson, and more!

To visit the main site (which includes webcasts and interview transcripts), click here.
To visit podcast central, click here.

Interestingly enough, it was Lloyd Alexander who inspired this program.

Back in 2003, when I was still in graduate school, I decided to start reading children’s literature to counter all the academic reading I was tackling. Seeking some of my old favorites, I discovered that, happily, some authors had kept writing while I was detoured by college, working life, and graduate school. While reacquainting myself with Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain (“A Fflam thrives on danger!”), I found his 2003 book, The Gawgon and the Boy.

It’s a wonderful story about a boy named David who, after recovering from a life-threatening illness, is tutored by his Aunt Annie (a tough individual he secretly names “The Gawgon,” after the mythological monster, the Gorgon). However, as they spend more time together, the boy realizes what a true treasure the Gawgon is. I found the book to be lively, unique, and utterly heartwarming (later, I learned that it was also semiautobiographical, which makes it even more wondrous). So, at the tender age of 28, I wrote my first letter to an author, sharing how much I had loved reading his book.

And Mr. Alexander wrote back!

So I wrote him back!

And he wrote me back!

I wrote my last letter to him in 2006. I described how I had just moved to New Jersey, having accepted a job at the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University. I told him my greatest hope was to design creative literacy programs for children that would be worthy of the Gawgon. In the back of my mind, I had already decided that I once I got my legs under me, I would invite Mr. Alexander to the library for a visit.

Unfortunately, it was not to be; he passed away in 2007. I was incredibly saddened by the news. While I had already shared, through my letters, how much I loved his books, I would never get to truly voice my gratitude to him. I would never get to ask him questions about his writing and hear his responses. The conversation I wanted to have with him  about his characters, his inspirations, and his experiences was no longer possible. I decided that I needed to find a way to record and preserve conversations with the creators of brilliant, creative, beautiful, funny, and thoughtful children’s books.

Thus, the BiblioFiles. It took some time to get the program up and running, but in 2009, I aired my first interview with the enormously talented Kenneth Oppel. It was recorded in a tiny room at WPRB, a local radio station. Shortly after that, we moved to the University’s new Broadcast Center. Originally, the interviews were aired during the All-Ages Show, a children’s radio program. Then the interviews became webcasts, and our online archive was launched. Now, the interviews are downloadable as podcasts!

It’s my sincerest wish that you find inspiration in these interviews. Perhaps you’ll gain some good advice about writing, hear a character’s voice come to life, discover an interesting behind-the-scenes story, or simply learn what your favorite author’s laugh sounds like! I hope that the conversations evoke deeper connections to the books you love, and introduce you to new books you have yet to discover. Listen, laugh, ponder, discover, but most of all, enjoy.


BiblioFiles artwork by the super talented Aliisa Lee. 

Deepest heartfelt thanks to Dan Kearns, the Princeton University Broadcast Center’s sound engineer extraordinaire.

An additional shout out to Lance Harrington, the Broadcast Center’s resident wizard, for his endless patience and assistance in launching the podcast site!