“When Greatness Calls…Average Answers”

We have a great new book in the library. I  read a review copy over the summer and it was so much fun to read. The League of Unexceptional Children by Gitty Daneshavri.


The Vice President has been kidnapped. He’s got secret codes. And he’s not good at keeping secrets. So he needs to be rescued as soon as possible. But sometimes, you need to make sure the bad guys don’t notice that you’re conducting a rescue. That’s when you turn to The League of Unexceptional Children.

For this particular mission, Jonathan and Shelley are newly recruited in the League. They are straight C students. The kids who live next to them, constantly assume they’re the new kids they heard moved into the neighborhood, even though they’ve all gone to school together since the 1st grade. And this ability to blend in, to go unnoticed, is their superpower.

Along the way, they have to deal with a crazy Community Patrol, an inept security guard (on whose watch the VP was kidnapped), a maniacal, musical genius, and a school nurse who may be hiding something (hmmm…maybe we should take a closer look at what Mrs. Butler is doing?).

This book was a lot of fun. Jonathan and Shelley are normal kids. Although Shelley may talk a little too much. And make up too many answers when she doesn’t know for sure. But through the course of the story they find what they’re really good at. This ends in a way that it could be the set up for a series. And I have to say, I wouldn’t mind going on another adventure with these two.

Materials Science and Engineering Day

Looking for something fun and interesting to do on Saturday. Consider checking out the Philly Materials Science and Engineering Day at Drexel University.


The even starts at 10AM. It’s free. And it’s geared towards everyone. (In other words, this isn’t just for juniors and seniors who want to be engineers…I may even be there with my 6-year-old niece.)

Apps of the Week – Test Prep Options

Well, since last week I spent a bit of time overwhelming the 10th and 11th graders with information about SATs and ACTs, I thought it might be kind if I started this week with some test prep options.

khanKhan Academy (iOS and Android)

Most of you are already familiar with Khan Academy from other classes. They are now the official test prep partner of the SAT. So, you can download the app and watch a number of videos on how to approach the different types of questions on the new version of the SAT. The app only has videos, but if you go to the website, you can also look at sample questions and take practice tests.

Daily Practice for the New SAT (iOS and Android)dailysat

This is the official app from the College Board. Get a random practice question each day. As with the practice questions on the College Board web site, you’ll get immediate feedback on your answers. The app gives the reasoning behind correct answers and will also explain why an answer is wrong. I haven’t had a chance to try it, but apparently you can download an answer sheet from the website, take a picture of it once you’ve finished a practice test, and the app will score it for you (although several reviews of the app indicated that this feature is still a little buggy).

ACT Question of the Day (web based)

The ACT also posts a question a day to help you prepare in short but regular intervals for the test. Like with the College Board, ACT will let you know why an answer is not correct and will give a detailed explanation of the correct answer. There is one official ACT prep app, but it is designed to work only with an online ACT test prep account, which is $40. If you’re interested in that, you can find more information about it here.

I Want to Believe

Back in the ’90s, I spent most of my Friday nights, and then my Sunday nights, hanging out with a group of friends watching The X-Files. It was a bonding experience. Needless to say, I’m very excited about the reboot that started last weekend (although I haven’t watched it yet, so don’t tell me anything…I’m rewatching the original series before starting the new one). My book for you today is related to this love of all things Mulder and Scully (and Skinner…I truly believe the Assistant Director is one of the more underrated characters in the show).


Over the summer, I had a chance to read a review copy of Weird Girl and What’s His Name by Meagan Brothers. I think I chose it mostly based on the title, because you know I love a good title. I didn’t know much else about it. But ended up really enjoying it.

Lula and Rory are the outcasts in the school and town – the eponymous Weird Girl and What’s His Name. They are one another’s best friends. And they bond over their shared love of The X-Files. But they have their issues. Lula is dealing with the knowledge that her mother dumped her with her grandparents and disappeared. Rory has some secrets he won’t even share with Lula. Then Lula disappears and things go topsy-turvy.

The first part of the book is told from Rory’s perspective. The second part from Lula’s. I loved how Brothers used this to give you insight into one person, while keeping you in the dark about the other. It really helped give you a sense of being confused by another person’s actions; it got you into their head.

This is a great story about the importance of friendship and the feeling of devastation when you feel that friend has betrayed you. It’s about feeling like an outcast and then actively trying to find your place in the world, whether it’s the larger world, or just the world of your family and your school. And it’s got lots of classic X-Files references.

Oh, and this is totally a “contemporary novel” so if you’re still looking for a book for Mrs. Selinsky’s independent reading, this would work!



That is…What Would David Bowie Read?

As I’m sure many of you have heard by now, the musician David Bowie passed away over the weekend. He was cool for a million different reasons, and if you want to talk about all of them, stop in an chat. For this post, I want to focus on one. He was a reader.


David Bowie’s READ poster for ALA

In 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London created a special exhibit called David Bowie is, which showcased his music and fashion. The curators of the exhibit also put together a list of David Bowie’s top 100 favorite books.

We don’t have a whole lot of them here in the library. But we do have a few. So, if you want to read like Bowie, here are a few titles to start.


From left to right: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1984 by George Orwell, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, As  Lay Dying by William Faulkner, and The Iliad by Homer. Not exactly light reading, but definitely interesting books.

But it made me think…can we come up with the Hill Top 100? What are the 100 books that we as a community would recommend to others? That we feel had the greatest influence on us. Stay tuned for a survey to hit your email in the next week or so.



Apps of the Week – Pre-mid-terms Version

Happy Monday! With mid-terms just a week away, I thought this post I found on Tumblr was quite relevant. It lists a bunch of apps intended to help you focus, de-stress, and concentrate. Not surprisingly, a lot of them are centered around sleeping, because the better you sleep, the better you can concentrate and the less stressed you feel. I also thought the sleep apps were quite relevant since the alumni who were here on Friday stressed the importance of being able to get yourself up in time for class.

The links to the apps in the original post are to the iOS versions. A few of them have Android equivalents. The Android links are below. For a description of the apps, see the Tumblr post.

And as long as we’re talking how to handle mid-term stress, check out this TED Talk on power poses and confidence. It’s one of my all time favorites.


New Book – New Author (1)

Each year, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) gives out several awards for young adult literature. We won’t find out most of the nominees until next week when the honor books (runners up) and winners are announced at a big conference that’s taking place in Boston. (That morning is the librarian equivalent of the Oscars…I’ll be live streaming the awards in the library that day.)

Two exceptions to this are the Non-fiction Award and the Morris Award. The nominees for those two awards are announce early in December. Which means I have a heads up on some awesome new books to order.

Today I’m featuring one of the Morris nominees. This is the award given for best debut book by a new author.


Leah Thomas’s Because You’ll Never Meet Me sounds fascinating. (I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it’s high on my list.) The story is about the friendship between Ollie and Moritz. Ollie lives in a secluded forest, away from the world because he is deathly allergic to electricity. Moritz lives in the city, but wishes there were fewer people around. He also has a weak heart and is kept alive by a pacemaker. So, he and Ollie can never meet. Instead, they write letters (real letters…on paper and everything).

The story is told in alternating perspectives. And I can’t wait to read it.