Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ripper by Stefan Petrucha

Ripper by Stefan Petrucha.  Penguin, 2012.

All of his life, Carver Young has only known the orphanage he lives in.  It’s there that he met Delia, his closest friend, and Finn, his worst enemy.  It’s also the place he learned skills like picking locks and not being seen or heard, perfect skills for detecting.

Carver’s life has always been a mystery, and it’s one he’d like to solve.  Who was his father?  When hacking into his file, all he stole was a piece of paper dated July 18, 1889 with words like “boss,” and “knife,” and a description of Carver as an eight year old boy, including a unique mole he has. 

But now, it’s the year 1895 and the orphanage is closing down. Fourteen-year-old Carver has two options:  become adopted immediately by the wealthy clamoring to this “Prospective Parents Day” (mostly because the young police commissioner of New York City, Theodore Roosevelt, is there) become a street rat, selling papers or cleaning offal.   And this night is where Carver meets his fate – a Pinkteron Detective by the name of Hawking….

Carver isn’t sure what to make of this mysterious and surly man who has adopted him, but the more time he spends around Hawking, the more intriguing his situation becomes and the closer Carver gets to the mystery surrounding his father.  The New Pinkertons headquarters, carved deep under bustling New York City, has all the tools and people Carver needs to find out more about his father, and when he realizes who his father is, the more horror and bloodshed arrive at his doorstep.  Jack the Ripper is looking for his long-lost son….

Petrucha knows the Gilded Age and New York City well.  Not only his is novel a compelling and interesting mystery, but the scenery he writes about as well as the characters and inventions will take the reader back to that most interesting era of the late 1800’s.  Jack the Ripper has left the foggy streets of London to go head-to-head with Theodore Roosevelt, but will macabre cunning or intelligent bravado win?  Petrucha takes the reader to the very of the novel for it all to play out.  Readers may think they’re reading steampunk, but the author bases most everything on reality, including the New Pinkertons headquarters, on fact.  Of course there are a few exaggerations, but they work well in the book.  The end of the novel has a character and gadget glossary, which gives historical accuracy on everything Petrucha refers to.  This is an excellent book that will fascinate readers of both historical fiction and mystery fiction.  Highly recommended.

Common Core/Non Fiction Pair:  Secret Subway: the fascinating tale of an amazing feat of engineering.  Martin Sandler, author.  An illustrated overview of the history of New York's first subway that discusses why it was necessary to build, Alfred Beach's vision for the system and efforts to see it through, resistance to its construction, and other related topics.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Infographics take the "hurt" out of a report!

I've seen some very VERY nice infographics, and they are coming onto the forefront of creating and disseminating information.  I tried using Visual.ly, but just couldn't make it work and then fell in love with Piktochart....

So, I decided to take my State of the Library Report, a six page document you can find at this link (if you're so inclined to read the six pages)

and transformed it into this infographic, which has all the same information but in a more visual format.  (If you want to zoom in, you'll have to save it...I'm still trying to figure that out)
Love it!! 

I"m baaaaack (thanks Jack for that incredible movie line!)

Okay, so I took the summer off from everything except a few tweets here and there. This summer was just a time-out for me so get re-focused and enjoy bliss. Don't get me wrong, I love the library, librarianship, librarians...but I wanted to enjoy other things. I painted, swam, became a master at Tiny Wings, and cooked some savory and unsavory dishes. I vacationed, I slept, and I spent time planting trees and trying to keep them alive in this hellish heat.

But now, I'm back at work and there's something to be said about going back to work and getting back that professional focus. I want to be ON FIRE this year!! So, what do I have planned? Oh, so many things! First of all, this is the year I program! I've been saving emails, listening to what others have done, and will try to replicate these in the library. Here are a few ideas (not all my own ideas, so thanks virtual friends out there!)  We'll meet once a six weeks or monthly, depending on how good my group is :)

Blind Date a Book - wrap a book in brown paper wrapping and have them be checked out by my (hopefully) book club to read and swap.

Poetry Slam - So many ideas!  I'm following a thread right now about Blackout Poetry and Susan Smith has a wonderful idea dealing with words and pages.  I'm also going to try my hand at spine poetry as well

Book Club - I've heard many people talk about how hard it is to get a high school group going, but I'm still going to try.  I'll do it during lunches where there will be incentive (think food) as well as online through bookclubit

Book Bake-Off - I saw this last semester and loved the idea!  Read a book, bake something that's thematic or relevant to the book and display (tasting later!!)

Book Art - Who doesn't like a great craft now and then?  Who doesn't have weeded books they're getting rid of?  In comes book art for the book club.  It'll be all about cutting, shredding, pasting, and redesigning for library displays!

Book Techie - Let's get these kids involved!  I'll be setting up GoodReads and Shelfari with the students as well as getting each one to read an e-book from the collection.  I'll also try my hand at book trailers (of course!!)

I Dont Wanna Read Non-Fiction! - Get the club to choose and read non-fiction and create a web-based project about the book to be displayed on the library webpage

Booktalking by Genre - pick a favorite genre, read a book, booktalk it!

And so that's what I want to do this year besides the co-teaching with teachers, doing booktalks, helping with technology and databases and being involved on the state level.  You know, it may sound like a lot, but for high school librarians, it's something we can all handle and do, especially with capable help. 
Wish me luck in this endeavor!!!!!