Wow. This year was a blur. I am completely exhausted, but am so excited to work on collection weeding, ordering, and reorganizing this summer (more on that later!) -- and to start next school year with a clearer vision for this no-longer-new position. I’m also so grateful for the opportunity to be home with my own two kids, to travel to new places with my family, and to READ even more this summer! These weeks are always such a blessed chance to recharge, and I am very aware of how lucky I am to have it.
The end of the school year was hectic, but fun and productive. We inventoried both collections, a charge led by my incredible library aides, and I worked on books to reorder with the help of our newly acquired Follett Challenge winnings!! I can’t wait for students and staff to see the books we’ve been able to add, especially in the nonfiction section at both libraries. We also hosted two more authors in the final days before school ended, because, why not?!
Daniel José Older spoke to our 3rd graders about his series The Dactyl Hill Squad. The unique historical fantasy premise engages readers from the start: the books take place in New York City during the Civil War, and dinosaurs roam the streets. Our heroine is named Magdalys Roca, and she possesses the special ability to communicate with dinos. Magdalys and her friends from the Colored Orphan Asylum must escape when draft riots break out, and some of them are kidnapped by an evil magistrate, Richard Riker,
who plans to sell them into slavery. I had read the first book in the series about a year ago, and couldn’t believe it when Anderson’s provided the opportunity to have him come to our school. Daniel has boundless energy as a presenter, and I highly recommend hearing him speak if you ever have the chance. He answered every one of our kids' off-the-wall questions, and they were absolutely buzzing with excitement after his visit!
Then, one week before school ended, Jennifer Nielsen came to Gower Middle School for a presentation with our entire student body, 5th-8th grade. This visit was provided by our Scholastic book fair rep (note to my fellow school librarians: don't be afraid to ask for perks from your book fair providers!), and I truly don’t know if I’ve ever been in the presence of such a gifted storyteller. Jennifer is the author of A Night Divided, which is about a family that is unexpectedly separated when the Berlin Wall is built in 1961. The research Jennifer had to conduct to write this book was extensive, and she shared other true stories about the ways people tried to escape to West Berlin. One tale involved a family building a hot air balloon together, failing on the first try, only to escape and succeed on a later second attempt. At one point, I glanced over my shoulder at our 8th graders, mere days away from graduating, and got goosebumps when I saw that she miraculously held their complete attention in that moment. The entire school was riveted and inspired by her message: “Never let it be said that the young are powerless or incapable. Never let it be said that youth is a liability… we will earn our three lines of history.”
I have a lot more work to do this summer, and I’ll be posting about my adventures as a new member of the Rebecca Caudill Award selection committee (sorry -- no hints about titles on the list), my favorite summer reads, and my projects organizing the collections in both school libraries! I have a feeling that will be an entire post itself. I’ll also be updating the rest of this website with new titles that I haven’t had a chance to add throughout the school year. Until then, take care, and happy reading!