Advanced Book Review: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School For Girls, By: Beth McMullen



This is the story of a young girl who enters a world unlike any she’s known. While the premise is familiar, the style of Abigail’s journey into the world of spies is anything but normal. Discovering that her mother is a legend in the field and having both allies and enemies seek to use her in their elaborate game of cloak and dagger tactics, Abigail struggles to survive so she can prove this can be her world too.

The main character is very realistic, most stories that focus on teens in adventure stories make them impossible capable of things most adults aren’t even capable of. Abigail is a young teenager, while she’s resilient she is not invulnerable. Sadly, the book never really takes time to allow Abigail to fully adapt even though she interacts with the spy world, she is treated more like a burden and possibly why the world lost its greatest secret agent in the form of her mother. The pacing is rapid at times and never really allows Abigail to earn her place in the world of spies mainly because the other characters, even her own allies outside of two close friends, undermine her at every turn.

As a start to a new series, it does present a beacon of hope that the adventures will be more in Abigail’s favor so that the more enjoyable elements of adventure and wit are no longer sidelined with the main protagonist.


LBSCI 737, Week 13: Annotated Bibliography for Adults to introduce American History to their Children

An Introduction to American History

Books to help start an interest in American History

Recommended for Children in Grades 3 and up

North Shore Public Library: Shoreham-Wading River, New York, 11786

American Revolution

Revolutionary friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. 2013. Written by Selene Castrovilla, Illustrated by Drazen Kozjan. Published by: Honesdale.

Based on the life of one of the more prominent soldiers fighting the 13 Colonies during the American Revolution, the book highlights Lafayette’s journey through the war and beyond. The story also features the friendship forged between him and the man who would become the Nation’s first president, General George Washington.

 It can be located in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J 973.3 Cas. Published by Honesdale.

A Picture book of George Washington. 1989. Written by David A. Adler, Illustrated by John & Alexandra Wallner. Published by: Holiday House.

A book that expresses the youth of George Washington as he grows to become the man that would be the First President of the United States. The drawings are well rendered with a focus on text that helps children read young George’s story while appreciating the bright, colorful, pictures. This is a good way of showing children that even George Washington was kid once and look what he became.

It can be located in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J B WASHINGTON


George vs George: the American Revolution as seen from both sides. 2004. Written by Rosalyn Schanzer. Published by: National Geographic.

This a book to help teach kids that war is not a battle of good vs evil always, it’s between two groups with leaders on each side not interested in losing. It helps to compare both George Washington and King George III, and their motivations as well as their actions shaped the future of the Country to be. The book is written with fewer pictures outside of colorful maps, a perfect book to step up from simply reading picture books.

It can be located in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J 973.3 SCH

Sybil Ludington’s midnight ride. 2000. Written by Marsha Amstel, Illustrated by Ellen Beier. Published by: Carolrhoda Books.

A short book about the other brave messenger who rode to warn her friends and neighbors that the British were coming, Sybil Ludington. Her race to help the American Revolution at the age of 16 was so profound that an afterword in the book discusses how there is a statue in her honor in Carmel, New York, on the very path she used in her heroic deed that shows women were heroes during that time as well.

It can be located in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J B Ludington

Civil Rights Movement

Freedom on the menu: the Greensboro sit-ins. 2005. Written by Carol Boston Weatherford, Illustrated paintings by Jerome Lagarrigu. Published by: Dial Books for Young Readers.

The Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of a child. It highlights various things that came to be during that time, separate water fountains, places that carted only to white people, the sit-in protests, and the arrival of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The book’s artwork is well-rendered and are dark colors illustrate this grim time in American History that needs to be known.

It can be located in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J PIC WEA


The Story of Ruby Bridges. 1995. Written by Robert Coles, Illustrated by George Ford. Published by: Scholastic.

This is the story one of the first black children to be allowed to attend an all-white school in the 1960’s. Ruby Bridges struggle to confront angry mobs of parents who threatened her and did not want their own children attending school with her is well drawn with a narrative that can introduce discussions of racism and the struggle to preserve for equality against desires to segregate.

It can found in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J B Bridges


The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist. 2017. Written by Cynthia Levinson, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

The Civil Rights movement from a young activist’s point of view, Audrey Faye Hendricks. An interesting thing about this book is that it points out the Ku Klux Klan and has the child have more direct connection Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., calling him ‘Mike’ since he was a guest at her home on multiple occasions. It’s a book that discusses the fight for equality against bigotry but more importantly about the bond of family to face this struggle together.

It can be found in the Children’s Section, Call Number: J B Hendricks

Freedom Summer. 2001. Written by Deborah Wiles, Illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

This book won the Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award (2002), Keats Book Award for New Writer and New Illustrator (2002), and the John Steptoe New Talent Author Award for Illustrator (2002), for its portrayal of a friendship challenged by new integration laws that make the local public pool a place of conflict in the Summer of 1964. The art beautifully renders the rural south while the two and their sincere bond of friendship against adversity is expressed in strong detail more than worthy of its awards.

It can be found in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J PIC WIL

The Barack Obama Years

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters. 2010. Written by Barack Obama, Illustrated by Loren Long. Published by: Alfred A. Knopf.

A book written by the 44th President of the United States, it details the various heroes of the past for their creativity, bravery, and patriotism that he feels can inspire his children as well as others. The books significance comes the reality that Barack Obama was the first black President, a testament that things have improved significantly and that the possibilities in the country have grown for all.

It can be found in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J PIC OBAMA

Who is Barack Obama? (Who Was?). 2010. Written by Roberta Edwards, Illustrated by John O’Brien. Published by: Grosset & Dunlap.

This is a book that discusses Barack Obama’s life and the steps that led him to the White House. Discussing his childhood, how he met the woman who become his wife, and his relationship with his family help to create a better understanding of the man who by becoming elected President changed the notion of who gets to lead this country forever.

It can be found in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J B OBAMA

Who is Michelle Obama? (Who Was?). 2013. Written by Megan Stine, Illustrated by John O’Brien. Published by: Gossett & Dunlap.

This is a biography of the First Lady to the 44th President of the United States, Michelle Obama. It discusses the events in her life from education, meeting her future husband, and her efforts to improve this country in her own amazing way. It gives the reader a better understanding of the First Lady who helped the country as it adjusted to many different changes.

It can be found in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J B OBAMA


Barack Obama: son of promise, child of hope. 2008. Written by Nikki Grimes, Illustrated by Bryan Collier. Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

The story of a young man who would be guided by the hope inspired in him by family that would help him become President of the United States. The art style is very detailed, showing various places in Obama’s life from Hawaii to Chicago, describing the journey that shaped him into the man he became. This New York Times Best Seller has the sealed mark of being recognized as a proper biography of the 44th President of the United States.

It can be found in the Children’s Room, Call Number: J B OB

LBSCI 737 GSLIS Week 13: A Comic Book for Kids

Image result for Ghosts Raina Telgemeier

Telgemeier, Raina. Ghosts. Graphix, 2016. 256 Pages. Tr. $15.30. 978-0545540612.

Good for ages 10 and up. (3rd Grade and up)

Common Core Connection through Teachers Pay Teachers

Here’s the link:

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Nominated for the GoodReads Choice Award for Graphic Novels and Comics in 2016, Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel focuses on the bond of family, growing up, and facing death in positive way. Taking place over the course of several months, culminating in Dio De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Catrina fights not only to deal with actual ghosts but the truth that her sister might soon join them (Telgemeier, 2016, p. 175-177). Children can enjoy this book for showing less terrifying view of how to face death, and that you don’t have to face it alone.

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LBSCI 737 GSLIS Week 12: NonFiction Apps for Librarians

These are apps that can help librarians as well as teachers when it comes to educating children with non fiction.

National Geographic Explorer

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Made is 2012, this app provides children with the means to study different geographic locations on the planet and the animals that live there. According to the article, “young children can read the text independently or activate the narration to aid them” (Potter, 2013, p. 2). This is a helpful app to educate students about the world by seeing all its wonders.

Barefoot World Atlas

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This is an app that allows kids to manipulate a map of the world see the geological locations and find specific facts. According to the article, “They can also tap on a feature such as the Imam Ali Mosque in Iraq, and a narrator will read a short paragraph” (Potter, 2013, p. 3). Reading about key locations will help children to better understand the different cultures that make up the world with these features.

The Magic School Bus: Oceans

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Made is 2010, this is an interactive reading of Scholastic book of the same name. Children who try the app “also incorporates photographs of sea animals, underwater videos, and educational games” (Potter, 2013, p.2). This app an be incredibly useful for reluctant readers, teaching them about different aspects of the world brought up in the main text, while also getting them interested in reading literature.

Why I chose this Article

The apps brought up in this post are among several provided on the list in the article, all of them developed around the idea of education and literary in the form of Nonfiction. These apps and others like them are important because they can educate children about world, animals in the world, different cultures, and through the readings help to make the act of reading more engrossing. This list proves that are learning apps out there that can further a child’s interest in education outside of a classroom setting and librarians need to promote that by finding these and similar apps. The key thing is to look for apps that present readings of literature, maps, other cultures, and have good reviews for being entertaining as well as educational. With technology progressing and becoming more integrated into the daily lives of everyone, especially children, librarians need to become aware of how these apps can benefit the educational growth of their patrons. The more this technology is understood, the easier it will be to improve on patronage by providing access to apps that expand on literature provided, especially when it comes to Nonfiction. For those interested, here’s the article with the list.

Works Cited

Potter, Cathy. 2013 Nonfiction Book Apps: Addressing CCSS and Engaging Students. School Library Monthly. Santa Barbara, 29(5). Pg. 11-13.

GSLIS 737 Week 11 Part 2: Diversity Post

A diverse collection has “cultural diversity…[which] includes shared characteristics that define how a person lives, thinks and creates meaning,” (Naidoo, 2014) which also includes social factors like sexual orientation, etc. that create a person’s unique culture. In other words, a diverse collection shows young patrons that their perspective is just one part of a very large whole – a world made up of billions of lives and perspectives. One of the most important results of a collection that contains these multitudes is giving patrons a sense of value; they matter because their stories matter. Representation is key in appealing to readers of all ages; if they cannot see themselves in the books available to them, they will be less engaged and feel undervalued and alone. According to a 2013 study questioning if school libraries were providing enough adequate LGBTQ-themed literature, the answer was a resounding no. LGBTQ youth are high risk, but this can be tempered by libraries providing diverse collections, as “research…shows that the library is ‘the most important information source’ for LTBTQ people” and “LGBTQ-themed literature provides LGBTQ teens with the opportunity to understand what it means to be queer…to know they are not alone, to connect with others like them…to affirm the fact that they are normal,” (Hughes-Hassell, Overberg & Harris, 2013). And so, providing LGBTQ literature for patrons struggling with their sexual orientation will prove to them that they have value because they are being acknowledged through representation. Representation is also important because it allows young patrons to see themselves in a positive light. The article “Criteria for the Selection of Young Adult Queer Literature” by Stephanie R. Logan argues to “…select queer literature that enhances languages and cognitive development in the language arts by providing a variety of vocabulary structures and forms” (p. 32). This can come in the form of narratives where people who are gay, gender-fluid, gender non-binary, etc. all have stories with a character of that specific sexuality where it is not the only facet of their character. A LGBTQ protagonist can be portrayed positively simply by having “…opportunities in which basic human rights are embraced and not denied,” (Logan, p. 33). Creating a criteria of literary value mixed with positive representation can result in a stronger collection in YA literature for a group who are struggling to understand themselves in the throes of adolescence.

Works Cited

Hughes-Hassell, Sandra, Overberg, E. & Harris, G.S. (2013). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ)-themed literature for teens: Are school libraries providing adequate collections? School Library Research, AASL. 16, 1-18.

Logan, S. R., and Lasswell, T. A. (2014). Criteria for the Selection of Young Adult Queer Literature. English Journal, High School edition; urbana 103.5. Pg. 30-41.

Naidoo, J.C. (2014). The importance of diversity in library programs and material collections for children. Association for Library Service to Children, ALA.


GSLIS Week 11: Book Review #4 Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, Vol.1 and 2 (Graphic Novel)

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This is graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book split into two volumes The Graveyard Book (2014). The story is about a body who survives the murder of his entire family as an infant by running to the nearby graveyard, there he is raised in seclusion and safety under the guidance of the spirits buried their and under the careful guardianship of a vampire named Silas. The reason why this book was challenged was due to the graphic violence shown using the visual medium, which includes an explicit page of the cut and bloody corpses of Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens by the killer Jack in volume 1 (Gaiman, p.2, 2014). While the images are rather grotesque, the two are relatively  harmless with only slightly scary imagery and very little violence. The story is more focused on how Bod grows from childhood into young adulthood and all the various individuals both living and dead he meets along the way. While the second volume is shorter, dealing more with Bod’s schooling and the truth behind his family’s murder, the two volumes combined convey the merits of life even when told among the tombstones. This book should be given to students in 5th or 6th grade, due to the intense images and violent nature of death expressed in the pages.

Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book, Vol.1. Harper Collins, 2014. 192 Pages. Tr. $12.33. 978-0062194817.

For Grades 5 and 6.

Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book, Vol.2. Harper Collins, 2014. 176 Pages. Tr. $14.89. 978-0062194831.

For Grades 5 and 6.

GSLIS Week 10: Comparing a Siber Award Winning Book to a National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Award Winner

Image result for Funny Bones Posada

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras (2015) by Duncan Tonatiuh won the Sibert Award in 2016. The award is given to authors who have “the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year” ( Duncan Tonatiuh’s book tells the life story of Posada and also teaches the reader how to make the same kinds of art he did, like lithography and engraving (p. 6-7, 2015). It teaches children about the artist, Spanish words for non-Spanish speakers, and asks readers to muse over the meaning behind Posada’s calaveras, Skeletons.


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Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (2015) by Don Tate won the NCSS’s Carter G. Woodson Book Award in 2016. The award is given for books that help “encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social studies books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and race relations sensitively and accurately” ( This story tells a child-friendly interpretation of George Moses Horton and the years he spent as a slave while learning to read and write.

Of the two books, I feel that Tonatiuh’s portrayal of Posada’s life is far more information-driven than Tate’s story about Horton. This is due to the fact that Posada’s life story, and the grim messages he expressed through calaveras was not sugar-coated to undermine the greater purpose of the images (Tonatiuh, 2015). Posada’s story is not dumbed down to hard the dark truth history tells of the violent of the Mexican Revolution. Horton’s time as a slave is written in a carefully worded way that erases the inhuman turmoil slaves were subjected to, painting the master’s hold on Horton as stubborn pride rather than the possible grim reality that Horton was seen more as property than servant (Tate, 2015). While both books discuss men who endured hardship to achieve artistic success in their own right, Posadas’ story also teaches the reader/listener how to become an artist like Posada, making it a more efficient teaching tool.



Tate, Don. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton. Peachtree Publishers, 2015. 36 Pages. Tr. $14.83. 978-1561458257.

Preferred Reading Age: 7-10 years and up.

Tonatiuh, Duncan. Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. Harry N. Abrams, 2015. 40 Pages. Tr. $11.55. 978-1419716478.

Preferred Reading Age: 6 to 10 years and up.

GSLIS 737 Week 9 Part 4: Book Review Part 3, Terry Pratchett’s “Dodger”

Image result for terry pratchett dodger amazon

This is a book designed for anyone interested in fantastic adventures that nod to literary classics, Dodger (2012). Terry Pratchett, of Disc World fame, created a story where a young scavenger of London’s sewers, Dodger, becomes involved in a international scandal after he saves a young woman one rainy night. This leads him on a path to better himself in the world as he faces off against murderous fiends and a very close shave from Sweeney Todd while an journalist named Charles Dickens scribbles little details about Dodger’s journey as if he plans to use the ideas later on. The books accolades include being nominated in 2013 for the Locas Award for Best Young Adult Literature and Michael L. Printz Award, as well as nominated in 2014 for the Carnegie Medal. This book is perfect for 6th Grade students since Dickens will most likely be discussed in their future English courses and this can act as an introduction to the world that created characters like Dodger. While there is action and danger, the greater message is that everyone has a chance to improve, if they are brave enough to try.

Pratchett, Terry. Dodger. HarperCollins, 2012. 368 Pages. Tr. $9.60. 978-0062009494.

For Grades 6 and up.

Week9 Post 3: Science Fiction vs Recognition?


The Newbery Award is awarded “to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The award has named fewer science fiction winners recently than in the past, but has also been criticized for selections that are less appealing to children. We have developed theories for why many of the recent Newbery award winners are not science fiction authors.

Reason 1:  Literary bias has been around since well before the term sci-fi was coined in 1954, by Forrest J Ackerman (who also discovered Ray Bradbury).  Those genre fiction categories have been further defined for marketing purposes, thus cementing the literary bias as well. There have been times when a genre-fiction author has won an award for fiction, and been declared “not worthy” of that award because of the theme of their writing. Sven Birkerts’ review of Margret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake famously stated: “science fiction will never be Literature with a capital ‘L’” (New York Times, 18 May, 2003). Science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin herself said (about those who are literary snobs) “If it was realistic it was inherently better than anything imaginative and therefore the silliest realist was better than Tolkien.

Read more:

A judge, John Mullan, also complicates this because he saw the science fiction genre as trivial. He was quoted as saying that it was part of a “self-enclosed world.“. This mindset treats science fiction as a fringe interest, not worthy of literary acclaim usually preserved in minds of provincial judges as being of a wider popularity. The inability to see the merits in genres not typically part of one’s reading list affects the critique of the genre and compromises its possibility of being recognized.

Reason 2:  The number of awards specifically for science fiction writing have increased in the recent decades. An increase in specific genre literature awards might have started as a reaction to literary bias, in recognition of quality genre literature that was being overlooked, but the fact remains that genre literature has many awards to bestow on their authors and titles now. Exact causation and correlation are unclear in this case, but a relationship of some sort seems very likely.


Birkerts, S. (2003, May 17). Present at the Re-Creation. Retrieved from

Forrest J Ackerman, 92; Coined the Term ‘Sci-Fi’ (2008, December 07). Retrieved from

Gauld, T. (2013). You’re all just jealous of my jetpack [Cartoon]. In You’re all just jealous of my jetpack . Drawn and Quarterly.

Howell, J. (2016, October 06). Why science fiction authors can’t win. Retrieved from

McKinnon, A. T. (n.d.). Valid Criticism or Literary Snobbery? Retrieved from

Science fiction awards database. (2012). Retrieved from

Ursula Le Guin interview: sci-fi and fantasy snobbery, adaptations & trouble-making. (2015, April 07). Retrieved from

GSLIS 737 Week 9 Part 2: Reviewing the Podcasts, are they useful

Two podcasts I listened to were found on PW KidsCast, a podcast site where author’s of Children’s Literature were interviewed. The two authors were Holly M. Mcghee and Marcus Pfister, author of The Rainbow Fish (1992).

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Mcghee is a literary agent who decided to publish the book under her own name because of personal emotions that are expressed in the book. Her latest book, Matylda, Bright & Tender (2017). It is about a young girl coming to terms with looking after a yellow gecko, which echoes the author’s experiences with taking care of pet geckos at home. She believes that channeling the harder emotions is a very moving experience and that by digging deeper, the result is much stronger ( The interview focused more on the nature of the writer’s motivation than on specific details, so as not to spoil the book. This approach is something to consider so that reading the book will be a surprise even after parents/kids look up the reviews of the book.

Marcus Pfister’s interview was based around celebrating the 25th anniversary of Rainbow Fish (1992) and the upcoming eighth book You Can’t Win Them All, Rainbow Fish (2017). He commented about how his original protagonist was a sleepy owl and decided to make a story about a very colorful fish, to make a hero with problems who changes to improve and have kids identify with a less perfect character ( The idea that more complicated characters will reach children better than the perfect heroes is something to keep in mind when developing a collection of books for children and create a focus on finding flawed-but-redeemable heroes.

Podcasts compliment the research used when studying Children’s literature. It acts as a means of direct questioning when it comes to speaking to the authors as well as see how people in the business of publishing/writing Children’s literature perceive the business. When used with sites like the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database, the reviewer can search to see if there’s podcast by the author of the book to find more in-depth analysis that can contribute to researching a books relevance in libraries for children.

Works Cited

Mcghee, Holly M. Matylda, Bright and Tender. Candlewick, 2017. 224 pages. Tr. $9.65, 978-0763689513

Recommended Grade: PreK and up

Pfisher, Marcus. You Can’t Win Them All, Rainbow Fish. NorthSouth Books, 2017. 32 pages. Tr. $12.79, 978-0735842878 (Available, June 7th).

 Recommended Age: PreK and up.