Announcing… Auto Renew!

Go Team

We are so happy to tell you about a new library service we will be offering!  Starting October 1st, 2015, the auto-renew feature will go live!  Your library items will be automatically renewed for you, no questions asked!  They will be renewed up to 5 times as long as no other patrons have placed them on hold. You will still be allowed to manually renew your items, so the 5 times includes your manual renewals as well.  Items with holds, digital items, and items that have reached their maximum renewal limit, will not be renewed.  Patrons with more than $5 fines will also not be able to utilize this feature.  You will always be notified of the auto renewal.  We will never renew your items without informing you.  You will still be able to renew on the phone, in person, or online. There is no way to opt out of the auto renewal.  It will be applied to all library card holders across the board.  You will be notified of your auto renewal via text or email, whichever you have chosen. We are so certain you will love this new service, we stand behind it 100%!

Module 14: Exposed


Reference: Marcus, K. Exposed. (2011). New York: Random House, 2011.

Summary: A girl’s best friend stops speaking to her.  This happens all the time.  But it continues on past the normal time period it takes to get over a silly fight or small offense.  She eventually finds out that her best friend has had sex with her brother.  But it wasn’t just sex.  It was rape.  At first, she doesn’t believe her friend.  She wants so badly to believe her brother’s account of the story.  But even she must face the reality of the truth.  Her own flesh and blood brother is guilty of a violent act on her best friend.  It is the story of two losses: that of her best friend, and her faith in someone she thought she could trust, someone she looked up to, someone she admired.

Impressions: I really, really liked this story.  I found it very compelling, and an easy, fast read.  That is saying a lot for me because I take forever to read anything.  At first, I thought the fact that it was written in verse instead of prose would be distracting, and make it harder to read or to follow, but the opposite was true.  It made it much simpler.  I am much more interested to read books written in verse now.  I really want to read Glimpse because I heard it is similar to this one.

Review: In accessibly poetic free verse, a Cape Cod teen haltingly relates how her brother’s violent act changes things. Liz’s artistic photos feature her “forever-best friend” Kate, a dancer. They share childhood history and fond nicknames; Kate is Lizzie’s emotional core. At a sleepover, they quarrel: Liz insists Kate major in dance in college, insults Kate’s boyfriend and storms upstairs. Later that night, Liz’s brother finds Kate alone downstairs and rapes her. Although Mike claims it was “just sex,” this isn’t a who’s-telling-the-truth poser—not quite. Liz eventually believes Kate, but she can’t offer much to Kate verbally, and Kate can’t bear to see her anyway. Liz is frozen, stung by family upheaval and the loss of Kate, which “eats away at me / like a dirty old gull / picking at fresh prey.” Liz never places Kate’s trauma ahead of her own, which feels as realistically distressing as the ending’s lack of reconciliation and the lives capsized by an unrepentant sibling. Well-honed. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Review Reference: Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kimberly-marcus/exposed-marcus/

Library Use: Some questions for discussion could be: Have you ever been in a situation where you knew someone close to you had done something very wrong?  Would you tell your parents or another adult if you were in a similar situation?  When is it right to tell someone?  In a diary entry, put yourself in her shoes.  You know someone close to you has done something terribly wrong.  Do you tell?  Do you keep silent?  Who do you tell?  How do you feel about not telling?  How do you feel about telling? Put yourself in the shoes of the person who was wronged?  Should she tell?  Should she keep silent?  Why?  How would you feel in her shoes by telling or not telling?



Reference: Lee, H. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Warner Books.

Summary: Jem and Scout are the children of Atticus Finch, a lawyer and a widower.  This is the story of their adventures with their friend Dill during their coming-of-age years.  Dill is the one who is first so intrigued with their locked up neighbor, Boo Radley.   Atticus defends Tom Robinson, a black man, who is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white girl.  Scout diverts an attack on Atticus, and Boo Radley saves Jem and Scout’s lives from certain death when Mayella’s father tries to kill them.

Impressions:  How could anyone say anything bad about this book?  I don’t understand those who challenge it.  I suppose it is like challenging a piece of artwork.  It is someone’s story that they have poured out.  They chose to tell it like they told it for a reason.  It is their story.  It is not for us to challenge or censure any part of it. People have freedom of the press and a right to express themselves as they see fit.  This book is also a classic for a reason.  It has stood the test of time over and over again and proven itself worthy.  It tells of a specific time and place in history, and tells it in such a way that we perhaps may even come to grips with some of our own prejudices.  We see that it is pointless to judge a book by its cover, because we will continually be surprised by what we discover.  What appears “good” could be sinister, and what appears “bad” can be harmless. People have too many layers to only be “good” or “bad” people.  There is no such thing.  There is only humanity. Plain and simple.

Review: A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout’s (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem’s elbow, the death of her father’s enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930’s, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus’ lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella’s father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem’s emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia’s quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children’s “growing outward” have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader’s Digest; it should win many friends.

Review Reference: Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/harper-lee/to-kill-a-mockingbird/

Library Use: In small groups, have the students write two front pages of The Maycomb Gazette – one just after the trial of Tom Robinson and another after the death of Bob Ewell. Include a news article, feature, editorial, advice column, and illustrations with captions.  Each student could be assigned one column or article for the gazette.



Reference: Stewart, T. L. and Ellis, C. (2007). The Mysterious Benedict Society. New York: Little, Brown.

Summary: Four children are invited through a newspaper advertisement to attend a Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened.  Through a series of tests, they are deemed worthy of participation.  They go on a whimsical yet adventurous journey while learning moral lessons along the way.  With humor and intellect, this book is strangely reminiscent of a cross between Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket.

Impressions: I loved this book.  I thought it was fantastic.  It reminded me so much of Harry Potter, that I couldn’t understand why this series of books is not more popular.  I had never heard of it before.  I highly recommend it and I’m so glad I have it to recommend to others.

Review: Running long but hung about with cantrips to catch clever readers, Stewart’s children’s debut pits four exceptional youngsters, plus a quartet of adult allies, against a deranged inventor poised to inflict an involuntary “Improvement” on the world. Recruited by narcoleptic genius Mr. Benedict through a set of subtle tests of character, Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance are dispatched to the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened to find out how its brilliant founder, Ledroptha Curtain, is sending out powerful mental messages that are sowing worldwide discord. Gifted with complementary abilities that range from Reynie’s brilliance with detail to Constance’s universally infuriating contrariness, the four pursue their investigation between seemingly nonsensical lessons and encounters with sneering upper-class “Executives,” working up to a frantic climax well-stocked with twists and sudden reversals. Low in physical violence, while being rich in moral and ethical issues, as well as in appealingly complex characters and comedy sly and gross, this Lemony Snicket–style outing sprouts hooks for hearts and minds both—and, appropriately, sample pen-and-ink illustrations that look like Brett Helquist channeling Edward Gorey. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Review Reference: Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/trenton-lee-stewart/the-mysterious-benedict-society/

Library Use: The kids in The Mysterious Benedict Society learn Morse code to exchange information with Mr. Benedict while they are at the Learning Institute. Ask students to pick a partner and together have them create a poster displaying the Morse code. Then, have each pair of students prepare a creative way to send and receive a message using simple, readily available supplies like flags, flashlights, drums, or other tools. Student pairs can conduct a demonstration sending and receiving their message, and have the other students decode their meaning.


Reference: Mora, P. and Colón, R. (1997). Tomás and the Library Lady. New York: Knopf.

Summary: This is the story of Tomas, the son of migrant farm workers, who was scared to go to the library because it was a big intimidating building, but he overcame his fears when the librarian offered him some cold water and a book.  He reads until the library closes.  The librarian allows him to check out books on her own card.   He shares the stories he reads with his family.  He teaches the librarian a few Spanish words.  When they have to say goodbye, she gives him a book and he gives her pan dulce (sweet bread).

Impressions: The story is sweet, but uneventful.  To be honest, it is a little too simplistic and boring for me.  What drew me to it was because it was about a librarian, and there are not too many picture books about librarians, though there are some.  It is heartwarming and it gives you warm fuzzies, but perhaps he could have told more of what happened to him after he grew up.  It’s nice that as adults we know that he became a librarian and a chancellor, but maybe he could have incorporated that into the book.

Review:  A charming, true story about the encounter between the boy who would become chancellor at the University of California at Riverside and a librarian in Iowa. Tomas Rivera, child of migrant laborers, picks crops in Iowa in the summer and Texas in the winter, traveling from place to place in a worn old car. When he is not helping in the fields, Tomas likes to hear Papa Grande’s stories, which he knows by heart. Papa Grande sends him to the library downtown for new stories, but Tomas finds the building intimidating. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book. Tomas reads until the library closes, and leaves with books checked out on the librarian’s own card. For the rest of the summer, he shares books and stories with his family, and teaches the librarian some Spanish. At the end of the season, there are big hugs and a gift exchange: sweet bread from Tomas’s mother and a shiny new book from the librarian to keep. Colon’s dreamy illustrations capture the brief friendship and its life-altering effects in soft earth tones, using round sculptured shapes that often depict the boy right in the middle of whatever story realm he’s entered. (Picture book. 7-10)

Review Reference: Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/pat-mora/tomas-and-the-library-lady/

Library Use: The students can work together to make Pan Dulce (Mexican Sweet Bread).

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour; divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 2 eggs; beaten
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup flour
  1. Stir together yeast, water, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt until yeast dissolves and bubbles. Add 1-3/4 cups flour and beat well.
  2. Cover and let stand in slightly warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  3. Beat together shortening and remaining 1/2 cup sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs.
  4. Add to risen dough along with the remaining flour, beating well. Dough will be moderately soft.
  5. Cover and let rise again until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Turn out on a floured board.
  6. Divide dough into 12 equal size pieces and form each piece into a round flat bun, about 4 inches in diameter.
  7. Place buns on greased baking sheet. Spread topping on each bun.
  8. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 50 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake buns for about 15 minutes or until edges are golden.
TOPPING: Beat together until creamy sugar, shortening, salt and cinnamon, blending well. Add egg yolk and flour. Stir until crumbly.

Module 7: Speak


Reference: Anderson, L. Halse. Speak. (1999). New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

Summary: Speak is about a girl named Melinda who was raped at her best friend’s party.  After the assault, she calls the police.  Her friend ostracizes her for calling the police and “ruining” the party.  She becomes an outcast at school and known as “the girl who ruined the party.”  Melinda stops speaking.  She takes an art class and really gets into it.  She feels a connection with the art and with the art teacher.  Her assailant eventually tries to attack her again.  Finally, the truth comes out about what really happened that night at the party.

Impressions:  A good read.  A little trite and a bit predictable, but still a good book.  It is always good to have these types of books for every generation to be reminded that we don’t have to keep these kinds of secrets to ourselves.  Even if no one believes us, we should still tell someone.  It is not healthy to keep things bottled up inside.

Review: In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. Divided into the four marking periods of an academic year, the novel, narrated by Melinda Sordino, begins on her first day as a high school freshman. No one will sit with Melinda on the bus. At school, students call her names and harass her; her best friends from junior high scatter to different cliques and abandon her. Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers’ empathy. A girl at a school pep rally offers an explanation of the heroine’s pariah status when she confronts Melinda about calling the police at a summer party, resulting in several arrests. But readers do not learn why Melinda made the call until much later: a popular senior raped her that night and, because of her trauma, she barely speaks at all. Only through her work in art class, and with the support of a compassionate teacher there, does she begin to reach out to others and eventually find her voice. Through the first-person narration, the author makes Melinda’s pain palpable: “”I stand in the center aisle of the auditorium, a wounded zebra in a National Geographic special.”” Though the symbolism is sometimes heavy-handed, it is effective. The ending, in which her attacker comes after her once more, is the only part of the plot that feels forced. But the book’s overall gritty realism and Melinda’s hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired. Ages 12-up.

Review Reference: Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-374-37152-4

Library Use:  Journal entries: If this happened to you, what would you do?  Would you have told your friend?  Would you tell your parents?  Would you tell a nurse, doctor, or psychologist?  If you were her art teacher, and she opened this up to you, what would you do?  If you were her friend and she opened this up to you, would you believe her?  If you were the best friend of the rapist, what would you do?  Would you tell or keep silent?  How would you feel towards the boy who did it, as your friend?

staying fat

Reference: Crutcher, C. (1993). Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. New York, NY: Greenwillow.

Summary: Staying Fat is about an overweight boy named Moby, whose best friend, Sarah Byrnes, is a girl with burn marks on her face and arms.  When Moby starts swimming, he starts to lose weight, and probably correctly assumes that Sarah Byrnes will feel that they no longer have a connection and that they will drift apart.  So, he continues to eat a lot and stays heavy for her.  One day, Sarah Byrnes suddenly stops speaking or connecting with anyone at all.  She just sits at her desk and stares.   She is admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  After a few weeks of not speaking to anyone, she runs away from the hospital.  Her father, who has given the scars to Sarah Byrnes, comes after Moby because he correctly assumes that Moby will know where she is. She goes on a road trip with their Contemporary American Thought (CAT) teacher, in search of her mother, who abandoned her after she was burned by her father.  In a simultaneous parallel story, Moby’s supposed enemy, Mark Brittain, is an outspoken Christian who argues against abortion, while he takes his own girlfriend to get an abortion after getting her pregnant.  One night, after he realizes what he has done, Brittain tries to take his own life.  In the epilogue, Sarah Byrnes eventually gets adopted by their teacher, Mrs. Lemry, the day before she graduates from high school.

Impressions: I cannot say enough good things about this book.  It is absolutely amazing from start to finish.  It includes all the elements of a fantastic story.   There is suspense, action, drama, and humor.  Topics include abortion, obesity, child abuse, and more.  It is hard to believe that Chris Crutcher is not more famous than he is, (i.e. a household name) simply for this book alone.

Review:  Once again, Crutcher assembles a crew of misfits to tackle the Big Issues. Sarah Byrnes, her face hideously scarred from what she calls a childhood accident, sits silent and withdrawn in the psychiatric ward; her friend Eric (Moby), who has admired her since grade school as the toughest person he knows, wonders what could have finally pushed her over the edge. Between trenchant classroom confrontations over abortion and other religious controversies, exhausting swim team workouts, and a sudden relationship with a classmate, Eric loyally finds time to visit Sarah. Enter Virgil, her psychotic father, who speaks only in threats; in a terrifying passage, he stalks and stabs Eric in order to learn where Sarah (who has escaped) is hiding. Though Crutcher doesn’t always play fair in developing his themes–all the conservative Christians here are humorless dupes or hypocrites, and one tries to commit suicide after it comes out that his girlfriend had an abortion–his language, characters, and situations are vivid and often hilarious. In the end, he deals out just deserts all around: Eric gets a stepfather he can respect; Virgil, a vicious mauling plus 20 years in stir; Sarah, a new and loving set of parents. Readers may find the storybook ending a welcome relief, though it does seem forced after the pain that precedes it. Pulse-pounding, on both visceral and intellectual levels–a wild, brutal ride. (Fiction. YA)

Review Reference: Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/chris-crutcher/staying-fat-for-sarah-byrnes/

Library Use: The students can write a newspaper article similar to the one presented on pages 48-50 of the novel. Prior to writing their article, they can brainstorm and identify the: who, what, when, where, why and how of what they want their article to be about.  Another fun activity would be to hold a debate similar to the ones the students hold in their Contemporary American Though (CAT) class.  Parents could attend the debate, and the articles could be posted in the library.