Tag Archives: growing up

Geektastic: Stories From the Nerd Herd by Holly Black and Cecil Castelucci

6 May

Cover of the book Geektastic

Geektastic is a compilation of short stories of all things geek and nerd inspired. This is a quick and creative read edited by Black and Castelluci. This is My Audition Monologue by Sarah Zarr  was a personal favorite. The beauty of this anthology is their is certainly something for everyone. Whether or not the reader will be enthralled from page 1 to the end is left for the reader to decide.


I enjoyed the variety of authors this book offers, but to be honest I was not all that smitten with most of the stories. A select few held my interest and others I just skimmed.

Suggested Library Activity:

Use this book for a book club. The variety of stories and topics discussed will get students talking.

Bibliographic Citation:

Black, H., & Castellucci, C. (2009). Geektastic: Stories from the nerd herd. New York: Little, Brown and Co.

Additional Book Review:

From Trekkers to science geeks, Buffy fanatics to Dungeon Masters, nerds of all persuasions are sure to find themselves in the pages of this anthology. It contains fun reads such as Black and Castellucci’s “Once You’re a Jedi, You’re a Jedi All the Way” in which a Klingon wakes with a Jedi in her hotel room while at a sci-fi convention, and Tracy Lynn’s “One of Us,” in which a cheerleader enlists the school nerds to teach her the basics of geekdom so she can impress her Trekker boyfriend. The collection also includes more profound fare such as Kelly Link’s moving and masterful “Secret Identity” about a 15-year-old girl who has pretended to be her 32-year-old sister on an online RPG. She must face the consequences of her lies when she arranges to meet the man with whom she has developed a relationship. Also included are stories by YA lit greats such as John Green, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, and M. T. Anderson. Each story is followed by a comic-book-style illustration offering information or advice such as “What Your Instrument Says About You” and “How to Look Cool and Not Drool in Front of Your Favorite Author.” Simultaneously addressing the isolation and loneliness that geeks can feel as well as the sense of camaraderie and community that can be found when one embraces a world or ideology in which he or she can completely invest, Geektastic is a completely dorky and utterly worthwhile read.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO

Campbell, H. (2009, August 1). Grades 5 and Up [ Book Review of Geektastic: Stories from the nerd] Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6674059.html


Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora

8 Apr

Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora

 This is a story about Tomas, a son of Mexican immigrant workers that travel seasonally from Texas to Iowa for work. Tomas describes the hot and arduous conditions his family works under and also describes the many things he does to entertain himself, namely reading. Tomas discovers the library and makes friends with the librarian. The two share books and language and Tomas uses the library to read about dinosaurs. At night, Tomas reads to his family in English. The day comes when Tomas’ family must leave and the librarian gives Tomas a beautiful book. This book is illustrated by Raul Colon. The illustrations show Tomas lost in the world of books from dinosaurs to snakebirds. The illustrations tend to be a bit too stylistic and cartoony, but they still effectively portray the characters in a somewhat realistic manner giving each character their own unique qualities. The illustrations also assist  the narrative of the story. For young readers, this is an enjoyable story describing realistic aspects of migrant workers while also demonstrating that kindness, generosity and love really do make a difference.


Upon first reading this book, I liked it. It would have been nice to have more background and context about  migrant workers, but I also don’t think this was the author’s intended purpose. In my opinion this book is ok, it leaves something to be desired.  However the illustrations by Raul Colon are simply beautiful. He effectively captures the mood of the story and quietly moves the narrative along.

Suggested Library Activity:

Have students create a Spanish/English dictionary using everyday expressions and words such as “hello” and “hola”. Have them illustrate the dictionary and act out the expressions and words with their peers.

Bibliographic Citation:

Mora, P. (2000). Tomas and the library lady. Albuquerque [New Mexico]: Dragonfly Books.

Additional Book Review:

Booklist (Vol. 93, No. 22 (August 1997))

“Ages 4-8. From the immigrant slums of New York City to the fields of California, it’s an elemental American experience: the uprooted child who finds a home in the library. Mora’s story is based on a true incident in the life of the famous writer Tomas Rivera, the son of migrant workers who became an education leader and university president. Far from his home in Texas, the small boy is working with his family picking corn in Iowa. Inspired by the Spanish stories his grandfather (Papa Grande) tells, Tomas goes to the library to find more stories. The librarian welcomes him into the cool, quiet reading room and gives him books in English that he reads to himself and to his family. He teaches her some Spanish words. Then, as in so many migrant stories, the boy must leave the home he has found. He has a new, sad word for her, “adios. It means goodbye.” Colon’s beautiful scratchboard illustrations, in his textured, glowingly colored, rhythmic style, capture the warmth and the dreams that the boy finds in the world of books. The pictures are upbeat; little stress is shown; even in the fields, the kids could be playing kick ball or listening to stories. Perhaps the most moving picture is that of the child outside the library door, his face pressed against the pane. In contrast is the peaceful space he finds inside, where he is free to imagine dinosaurs and wild adventure.”

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

7 Feb

Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius takes the reader on a journey through the life of Miss Rumphius also known as ” the lupine lady.” Miss Rumphius sets out to do things in her life, like going on a faraway journey to a tropical place or scattering lupines throughout the countryside. Miss Rumphius tells a tale that both the young and old can identify with. This story seems suited to older primary students, second to fifth grades, and gives the reader insight on growing old and the importance of setting your sights high and just plain following your heart. Cooney’s illustrations are brilliantly simple,painted in acrylics and emphasized with prisma-colors, the people are stylized and the pictures lend vitality to the narrative. This book could be used as an introduction to a myriad of lessons from writing to stewardship. It is certainly one to consider adding to your primary collection.

Book Cover


As a young child I envisioned all people as caretakers of the Earth. Getting older you see how people throw trash out their car windows, dump oil in to streams and many more unmentionable unkind acts towards mother Earth. This book reminded me that not all is lost. There is still hope and it can begin with one person- a Miss Rumphius if you will. We need many more Miss Rumphius’ , so read this book and share the importance of being good stewards of our planet with young readers.

Suggested Library Activity:

Use this book to teach a lesson on why we must take care of our environment. What Miss Rumphius do to make the world a beautiful place? What could you do? Have children create poster-collages (use recycled paper and materials) that illustrate and convey how they would keep the world beautiful.

Bibliographic Citation:

Cooney, B. (1982). Miss rumphius. New York: Viking Press.

Additional Book Review:

Miss Rumphius has a deep desire to leave the world more beautiful than she found it, an idea planted years earlier by her grandfather. She does what she can, spreading lupine seeds that grow in colorful splendor. Cooney delivers a strong message of our obligation to care for the environment. Video & audio avail. from Weston Woods.

Bock, L. (2003, February 1). Moral and Ethical Concepts [ Book review of Miss Rumphius]. School Library Online. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA272674.html