Fold Paper, Listen to Audiobooks, You Will

Today is Star Wars Day! So, grab a Star Wars themed book. We’ve got a bunch. The Shakespeare 20160504_092700editions. Novels of the movies. Jedi Academy. But I do love the Origami Yoda series (as evidenced by the poster in front of the circulation desk).

Want to make your own origami figures for Star Wars day? Then grab Art2-D2’s Guide to Folding and Doodling. Learn to draw speedy versions of your favorite Star Wars characters (pre-The Force Awakens). Or make your own origami cast (although you may need the novels to get origami instructions for all the characters). If you make any, be sure to stop by and show us!

Another exciting thing about today…it’s Sync ’16 Eve! Sync is the program that offers free audiobook download all summer long. Two books each week based on a theme. Each yeaSYNCHEAD-150x150r they add more titles and start the program earlier. This year…it starts tomorrow. The first two books are The Great Tennessee Monkey Trail and Vivian Apple at the End of the World. Each Thursday two new books will go up on the site. Once downloaded, they’re yours to keep. So take advantage. There are some ah-maze-ing books this summer. You can see the whole list here. Or grab a flyer from the library or at Mrs. Neft’s desk.

Alimentary, my dear readers

This is not a poetry book, even though it’s still April. But I’ve been enjoying it so much, I just had to talk about it.

Mary Roach has written some fascinating books. Want to know about death? Try Stiff. Want to know about the afterlife? Spook. (Maybe some of you who were part of The Unexplained might want to read that one.)  Want to know about life in space? She has tips on Packing for Mars.

20160429_091849But today’s book is about what happens when you eat. It’s called Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. If you’ve even wondered about the process of eating, this is the book for you. Things I’ve learned so far:

  1. The average human produces 2-3 pints of saliva a day.
  2. There was a guy who, as a result of being accidentally shot, lived the rest of his life with part of his stomach exposed. The doctor who treated him used this strange feature to do all sorts of experiments about digestion and stomach acid.
  3. Mexican dogs prefer spicier kibble than American dogs.
  4. It takes about 30 hours for food to pass through our bodies…the same amount of time it takes to travel by Amtrak from Seattle to Los Angeles.
  5. April 27th was National Hairball Awareness Day…and I failed to do something special for Skitty, my cat.

I’m only at the beginning of Chapter 6.

One of the things I love about Roach’s books is that she totally enjoys the research and the things she’s writing about. That means that her books are really fun to read. She makes everything interesting. And she’s wickedly funny.

If you want to learn something odd and laugh a lot while learning, pick up one of her books. We have all of the books mentioned in this post. I promise you’ll enjoy them.

Books in Verse

We haven’t had many opportunities to meet and talk about books in April. And there are so many great books in verse for Poetry Month. With the few remaining days, I have a couple to highlight.


Today’s book is The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. How do I love this book? Let me count the ways.*

  1. It’s about basketball. I’m not much of a sports fan, but there are two that get me: professional baseball and high school or college basketball. There’s a grace to basketball that comes through in the poetry. They go so well together.
  2. It’s about siblings. Josh has a twin brother Jordan. They should get along. They should be each other’s best friend. They’re not. And it’s complicated.
  3. It’s about family. Josh’s parents are real characters in the story. They’re not stupid adults; they’re not mean adults; they’re just real adults.
  4. Vocabulary. Okay, this is where my teacher dorkiness comes in. Every so often, Alexander will use a term in a poem. The next poem will be a definition of that term. Not a basketball person? Not sure what a crossover is? There’s a poem for that. You do know what a crossover is? Have you ever heard it described in verse?

The book is a quick read…but don’t blow through it too quickly. You’ll miss some of the beauty of the poetry and the basketball.

*Junk to anyone who can name the literary allusion there. Mrs. Selinsky, you are not eligible.


Podcast of the Week – Myths and Legends

logo-new_castleI happened upon the Myths and Legends podcast recently. I was installing a new podcast app on my phone and looking for some new things to listen to. This was listed in the  top ten, so I thought I’d give it a try.


Each week, host Jason takes on a tale from myth, legend, or folklore and delves into the details of the story. His passion seems to be for King Arthur. And he’ll approach the Arthurian legend in bits and pieces, and for each piece, he dedicates about three episodes. Between Arthurian tales, he takes on folk tales from around the world as well as classic fairy tales. But, obviously, he’s looking at the true, original versions, not the Disnefied tales we know from childhood (the Rapunzel episode has been one of my favorites).

And if it’s not enough to hear these great stories, he ends each episode with “The Creature of the Week.” These are very short stories about creatures that have their place in mythology and lore, but don’t have enough for necessarily an entire episode, such as the abatwa from South Africa, who don’t like it when you don’t notice them.

And the website has extra information if you’d like to know more about a story from a particular episode.

Another Opportunity for This Summer

I know that today should be a book, and I still have some great books in verse to share. But I found this yesterday and because of the deadline, it really can’t wait. As you may know, the Democratic National Convention will be held in Philadelphia this year, from July 25th through the 28th. This is the meeting where the Democratic Party will officially decide on its candidate for the November election.


Photo: Theresa Thompson, flickr

This first piece is only for those of you who are already 18, and seniors, if you’re looking for an interesting summer experience, you may want to look into this. The Democratic National Convention Committee has internship opportunities for “enthusiastic, politically-minded future leaders.”

From the web-site, “DNCC interns perform a wide range of responsibilities, including assisting senior staff, preparing memos, attending meetings and events, acting as the first point of contact to the convention by answering phones and greeting visitors at the front desk, assisting with special projects, and any other duties that are needed by the department head.”

The internships run from June 1st through August 5th. The application deadline is…FRIDAY. So if this interests you, you need to get a move on it. (Sorry about the short notice…this only came to my attention yesterday.) You need to fill out the application (which requires two essays and two letters of recommendation) and submit a resume. I am happy to help with any of this, including writing one of the letters. Just come see me.

If this sounds kind of exciting, but you’re not 18 yet, the Philadelphia DNC (also known as the “Host Committee”) has volunteer opportunities for those 14 and older. All of the information for that is on their website.

You do not need to be a Democrat in order to participate in this. You don’t have to be a Hilary or Bernie supporter. The friend through whom I learned about this is a Republican, but just thinks the experience would be phenomenal. And I have to agree with her! Political conventions only happen every 4 years. And with the Republican Convention having been in Philadelphia in 2000, it may be a while before we see another one here.

Opportunity of the Week – SPCA (and some other animal shelters)

One thing I’ve learned about Hill Top students…you all tend to have a special place in your heart for animals. So, I thought I’d give you a list of some animal shelters that are looking for volunteers. For most of these places, you need to be at least 16 and have parental approval to volunteer – although a few do have opportunities for younger volunteers.


My cousin Lauren (a librarian) and one of the dogs from the Delco SPCA

And remember, you can’t adopt them all.

All 4 Paws (Chester Springs)

Delaware County SPCA (Media)

Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals (Radnor)

Last Chance Ranch (Quakertown) – this is a shelter for horses

Main Line Animal Rescue (Chester Springs)

PALS (Wayne and Broomall) – this seems to be a cat rescue that works with some local pet stores

While there are many, many animal rescues and shelters in the area, I’ve only listed ones that are no kill shelters.

April Is…

…a lot of things. If you’ve been here long enough to remember the Great Snapple Incident of ’14 (maybe ’13), you’ll recall that it is both School Library Month and Occupational Therapy Month.

And it’s also National Poetry Month. Which I always find fun. And it’s a great time to highlight books written in verse, which I absolutely love. A book written in verse has such a different flow from a narrative story. There’s also a special beauty to reading poem after poem as they move together to form a whole story.


So, today’s book in verse is brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Woodson has written some great fiction (After Tupac and D Foster is one of my favorites). In this book, she not only turns to poetry, but also to memoir. This is her autobiography in verse. She tells of living in Ohio, then  moving to South Carolina to live with her grandparents, then moving again to New York with her mother. She tells about growing up in the era of Jim Crow laws. Of balancing religion in her life. Of finding new friends. Of struggling to learn. And of finding a voice in telling stories.

I really enjoyed this book. It won a few honors and awards last year when it came out, and for good reason. It would be an excellent choice for celebrating National Poetry Month.