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Book Review: Maybe We’re Electric

 

Maybe We’re Electric

– Val Emmich –

Poppy

Published 21 September 2021

♥♥♥♥

 

Secrets. The secrets we keep to protect ourselves and the secrets we keep for our family. Maybe We’re Electric is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about finding the balance between speaking out and staying silent.

Covering just one night (plus a bit at the end) Maybe We’re Electric brings Tegan and Mac together. They never would have crossed paths – thinking each other in a different world at their school. But Tegan and Mac have far more in common than they think. When a storm hits, they find themselves together in the Thomas Edison museum. Both are running from their family and themselves. Both know they need to speak up about the secrets they are keeping. Both know the fallout from doing so will have far reaching consequences. Over the course of one night they connect and share more than they expected. But can their blossoming relationship survive the night?

Tegan is a compelling – if unreliable – narrator. As she slowly opens up to Mac, we readers also slowly begin to understand the true depth of what she is running from.

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Professional Learning: Genrefication: Beyond the Buzzword

Professional Learning Genrefication: Beyond the Buzzword Webinar with EduWebinar

I had the great privilege of talking genrefication again by presenting a webinar with EduWebinar all about genrefication.

It was great to revisit my genrefication process, especially as I am looking to start all over again at my new school. It was also fascinating to revisit the research in this area and see what the current trends are.

If you would like to view the webinar, you can register for the recording at EduWebinar.

You will find my slides from the presentation below.

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Book Review: The Gilded Cage

 

The Gilded Cage

– Lynette Noni –

The Prison Healer #2

Clarion Books

Published 12 October 2021

♥♥♥♥/♥

 

Lynette Noni seems to take pleasure in her readers’ pain. That’s the only explanation for the cruel ending and the build up in this book that had me putting down the book and needing time away to just breathe and recover and psych myself up again for more torment. But it’s a good pain. Sometimes.

The Gilded Cage is the second book in The Prison Healer series. It picks up soon after the first book concluded. Kiva and Jaren have escaped Zalindov. Kiva and Tipp have moved into the River Palace with Jaren and his family. It’s a whole other world from the despair of the prison that was her home for so many years. While Jaren is ready to lay the world at Kiva’s feet – including fulfilling her dream of training at Silver Thorn healing academy, now Kiva is out of prison, she has the opportunity to reconnect with her brother and sister and rejoin the rebellion. Kiva is torn between her growing feelings for Jaren and his family and the knowledge that he will make a good king and her loyalty to the rebellion cause, seeking justice for her father and brother and fighting alongside her siblings.

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Book Review: Riverbend Gap

 

Riverbend Gap

– Denise Hunter –

A Riverbend Romance #1

Thomas Nelson

Published 19 October 2021

♥♥♥♥♥

 

I so enjoy reading Denise Hunter’s books. I know once I pick one up, I’ll just disappear into the world and characters she has crafted and I know that I will love every word. And that’s exactly what I got in Riverbend Gap. This book is the first in a new series (yay) that follows a family (yay, yay) living in a small rural town along the Appalachian Trail (more yay). Honestly, between the amazing romance, stunning scenery so beautifully described, the drama and tension and the great writing, I just loved this book.

Katelyn Loveland has a new job, new last name, new boyfriend and a new house. Moving to Riverbend Gap was her new start. But she’s also determined to get some closure from her past. The first step is scattering the ashes of her beloved younger brother. Then, she needs to find her biological mother and learn why she and her brother spent most of their lives in foster care. Not part of the plan was avoiding a deer and almost plunging to her death over the side of a mountain on the way to meet her new boyfriend’s family. When Cooper Robinson, Deputy Sheriff, comes to her rescue, she is relieved and grateful. The tense moments they share forge a deep connection. The only problem is that he is the brother of her new boyfriend. As circumstances through Cooper and Katelyn together again, it’s hard to ignore the deepening feelings between them.

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Book Review: If Not Us

 

If Not Us

– Mark Smith –

Text Publishing

Published 28 September 2021

♥♥♥♥

 

If Not Us is a standalone novel from the author of the Winter series. Mark Smith creates in If Not Us a story of growing up, falling in love and finding your voice to speak up and be heard. With themes of climate change action, grief, and first love, If Not Us is a relatable novel for teens with an authentic male narrator.

Hesse lives to surf. He works in a surf shop and spends his free time in the waves. His goal is to one day surf the reef called Razors, where his father disappeared at sea and died. When Hesse gets involved in his mother’s environmental group campaign to close a local coal mine and power station, Hesse is thrown into the spotlight. It means taking a stand and his voice becoming the key to the campaign. It also means standing against his friends, whose parents might lose their jobs if the mine is shut down. In the midst of it all, Hesse meets Fenna, an exchange student who is dealing with her own anxiety and decisions about whether to stay in Australia or return home. As the campaign heats up and Hesse’s feelings for Fenna deepen, Hesse has to decide what is most important to him.

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Resource: Cricut Refurbishment

Refurbishing a Cricut Machine

I have been fortunate to have a Cricut machine in each of my past 3 libraries. I love them. I love getting creative, love how these machines can make displays, signage and crafting activities easy. So, I was excited and – let’s be honest – relieved when my new library said they had a Cricut machine.

However, I was a little shocked when the Library team mentioned that they didn’t use it and found it easier to cut things by hand. Seriously? That didn’t make any sense to me. It only took the first time me getting it out to use it to understand where exactly they were coming from and why they were finding it so frustrating. I found it frustrating! It took longer than it should and even making a simple project wasn’t easy. Why? The machine had been given to the team without the proper tools and with no training or instruction. The mats were old and either had left over paper struck to them or had lost their stick altogether. And the team had only ever been told to use it with an iPad rather than on a desktop. It was like trying to use the machine with our hands tied behind our backs. Completely impractical and a waste of time.

Thanks to having used a Cricut before, I knew what it could and should be like. And I knew I could refurbish the machine to make it fun and easy to use. Here’s what I did.

How to update a machine

If you’ve decided to purchase a secondhand machine or have inherited an older machine for your library, here’s a few simple steps and tips to get the machine running again smoothly and so you can enjoy using it.

These tips are not going to help a machine that isn’t functioning properly – I leave that to someone with technological and mechanical knowledge, but these should help you get the basics of the machine working well.

Not sure if a Cricut is right for your Library? Check out my post Cutting machines in the Library which goes into the pros and cons.

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Ramblings: That time I created a viral video for my school library social media

That time I created a viral video for my school library social media – well almost

I had a bit of a surprise last week. I created a viral video for our school’s social media account. I must add a caveat. While I created it, I did have some help and technically it’s not a viral video, as Google tells me I have to have over 5 millions views and our video certainly didn’t do that. But! We reached over 23,000 views and over 600 likes. For us and our little social media account that was massive. And honestly a little scary. Here’s how it happened.

I relaunched our school library’s Instagram account this year. The Library Team had created it a few years ago, but it had been sitting dormant for a few years. When I joined the team this year, I wanted to start using it again. I had a great basis from which to work – just over 100 followers, most of whom were students. My goal was to increase engagement, promote the library and connect with both our school community and the wider school library community.

I’ve been posting regularly over the past three terms and when Instagram announced Reels, I happily gave them a try. I had been reluctant to join TikTok as I thought I wasn’t so great with videos – but maybe I need to rethink that.

Book Week 2021. We’ve got lots of competitions and events planned. The week prior, I am posting to our Instagram and trying to generate excitement about the following week’s events. I grab a 10 second video of the regulars playing Minecraft. I ask them for permission to share and then for some music suggestions. They chat a bit and argue over a good song and we finally select one. I add it, add a caption about next week’s comp, hit post and off we go. A week and a bit later, we have over 23k views and 651 likes. Our usual average for Reels views is 300-600 and the highest we’ve ever hit was just over 3000, so 23,000 was a massive leap. Same for likes.

This one Reel managed to reach more people, added lots of new followers to our account and generally created a buzz about our school library social media account. The boys were pretty impressed with their fame. I was curious. Was it the music? Was it the hashtags? Was it the algorithm magic? I’ve gone back to those boys for some more music suggestions and I’m going to try to recreate our success and see if it is possible. I’m also changing the way I interact with our social media account – focusing on engagement and student-driven posts and information.

I’ll continue to share my successes and failures here.

Is your school library on social media? Share in the comments below.

Professional Learning: September 2021

Professional Learning Opportunities September 2021

September has arrived, which means we survived Book Week and now turn our attention towards the end of the year. It’s been a big, exciting and I know stressful year for many. 

If you are in lockdown or just looking for some professional learning, then I hope this list of links, webinars, articles, podcasts and more is helpful. Most are targeted for school librarians, but many are transferable to any library or education setting. Please share it with your team, colleagues and network and contact me if there is a link you would like added to the list.  Happy learning. 

You can now sign up to receive these posts delivered straight to your inbox each month. 

Webinars

Genrefication

I’m so excited to be collaborating with EduWebinar (a fantastic source of PD) to present the webinar Genrefication: Beyond the Buzzword. Join us on September 15, 2021 at 7pm AEST. It’s free for EduWebinar members and $30 for non-members. You can find about more about what we’ll be discussing and register on the EduWebinar website. 

Genrefication:Beyond The Buzzword – Webinar – EduWebinar – Free for members, $30 non members – 15 September, 2021

 

SLAV is hosting a range of fantastic masterclass online webinars in September. The first is all about designing collections to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.

Masterclass series 2021 – Enriching Collections: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives – SLAV –  2 September 2021, 10am-12noon – Online – $120

This second masterclass is two hours long and investigates Orientation sessions. 

Masterclass series 2021 – Orientation – SLAV – 9 September 2021 – Online – $120

SLAV’s two and a half hour masterclass series offers ideas around why school libraries need to support multilingual students and how this impacts decision making around collection development.

Masterclass series 2021 – Multilingual School Libraries: Why and How? – SLAV – 16 September 2021 – Online – $120

 

I think we can all relate to the challenge of trying to engage reluctant readers with the joy of reading. ASLA are hosting a webinar on this topic with Libby Baker.

ASLA September Webinar 2021 – Strategies to Engage Reluctant Readers – 1 September, 2021, Online – $20 members, $40 non-members.

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Book Review: Duplex

 

Duplex

– Orson Scott Card –

Blackstone Publishing

Published 7 September 2021

♥♥♥♥/♥

 

Duplex is the companion novel to Lost and Found. It continues in the same vein – a mix of realistic fiction with a mystery twist. Again, the characters have micropowers – like superpowers but too small, insignificant or useless to be deemed super. They are pretty unique and cool, though.

Duplex is a book that takes a while to read. I enjoyed sinking into its slow pace. That’s not to say nothing happens in the story – it does, everything from guys attacking with guns to fake FBI attempted kidnappings. There’s just a lot of space for inner dialogue and time between events. Time for introspection and relationship building. There’s also just time for great writing and descriptions, a feature of Card’s work.

Life changes for Ryan when he finds his dad has moved out and is dividing their family home into a duplex. Soon, Ryan is sleeping on the couch (he doesn’t have a bedroom anymore) and the rooms on the other side of the new walls and staircase house the Horvat family. Ryan meets Bizzy Horvat at school. She can meet his sarcastic wit and quick jibes like no one he’s ever met. When Ryan reacts so quickly and without thought to a bee in Bizzy’s hair (much like he reacted to a bee that stung his sister), he is approached by a guy who claims to discover people who have micropowers. Ryan’s quick reflexes are apparently a micropower and it turns out that Bizzy and her mother also have micropowers and there are a group of people who will stop at nothing to kill the Horvat family. So, Ryan’s quick responses might just come in handy.

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Book Week: Wrap up 2021

Book Week – Wrap Up 2021

Well, as I write this, I can hardly believe that Book Week is over. At the same time, I feel so tired it might as well be the end of the year.

Grey background, black text reads CBCA Book Week, yellow text that reads Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds, characters on bottom of image

I love Book Week. Love the buzz it brings to my school and library. Love the excitement it generates online. Love how it gives libraries, books and reading the spotlight they deserve. Love how my school’s marketing team suddenly want to talk about what’s happening in the Library because the Book Week tag is good for their SEO. But this year, Book Week kind of took a back seat for me.

In previous years, in previous roles, I’d shape my whole planning around Book Week, the theme and the activities I had planned for the year. My new role and the tasks I’ve taken on this year, along with the climate of sudden lockdowns and online learning challenged me to look at Book Week in a different light and to reevaluate my planning and approach to this very special week.

Not top priority this year

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