Shelf Challenge 2013

Since I started a new job on April 1st, I thought joining the 2013 Shelf Challenge would be a great way to start learning my new collection. If you're not familiar with Shelf Challenge, it's run by Matthew Winner (a 2013 Mover and Shaker, woot!) to celebrate School Library Month. In Matthew's words, here's how it works:

Your mission, if you choose to accept it:

Select a section of your library collection to read throughout the month of April. 
    • Make it manageable and appealing. (I'm planning to read the all of the "H" books in our everybody section, which will include Henkes and maybe some other unexpected favorites.)
  • Try to read every book in that section over the course of the month. 
    • For everybody books, read them cover to cover. For fiction, read the dust jackets or back cover descriptions. For Nonfiction/Informational, choose a section of Dewey and go nuts.
  • Share selected gems (and cringes) through a favorite social media outlet, such as ShelfariGoodReads, or through your blog or Twitter feed (use #shelfchallenge to connect with others).
I had originally planned to do the letter X, but it turns out that we only had one book on the shelf in our everybody section under X and I didn't really fancy reading about the X-Men, so I switched to Z. You're probably thinking I'm really lazy now, but I didn't want to take on too much with my new job as I've got storytimes and summer reading planning and all of that good stuff to take care of as well.

Here are some of the more memorable books I read:

The first one was The Pumpkin Blanket, a story about a little girl who sacrifices her beloved baby quilt to warm some of the pumpkins in her family's garden. It is very reminiscent of The Giving Tree and other stories about sacrifice. These are not favorites of mine, but are worth knowing for those patrons who do enjoy that type of story.

One noteworthy story was Countdown to Grandma's House by Debra Mostow Zakarin, which portrays a girl's HUGE excitement about going to grandma's house. Rather than a stereotypical "Granny," the grandmother in this story is relatively young and enjoys activities like gardening, painting nails, and flashlight games under the covers.

Another in my to-read pile was Baby Shower by Jane Breskin Zalben. This was the third book on the shelf and the first one that I had read previously. As with the first time I read this book, I was left with the distinct impression that it would be quite confusing to young children. Older children (elementary age) who are planning to attend a baby shower will find no information useful but may enjoy the literal "baby shower" that occurs in the story. Speaking of Zalben, the first one of hers I would recommend was Hey, Mama Goose. At my old library, I had many regular patrons who were (aspiring or current) elementary school teachers and I could see passing this one on for fairy tale or nursery rhyme units.

Zalben turned up again in Saturday Night at the Beastro. As a full picture book, I think this one is pretty lacking (2.6 stars average on GoodReads), but there is one section that would make for a fun read-aloud around Halloween. I'd start with the section that begins "This evening's food is, of course,/cuisine prepared without remorse" which leads into a long list of disgusting food. Teachers may enjoy the opportunity to introduce some of the vocabulary words which will be unfamiliar to most children.

A fun discovery was A Zeal of Zebras, an abcedary of collective nouns.  Each spread also includes non-fiction information about the animals. One of my favorites was "an embarrrassment of pandas," which has striking black, white, and red artwork with just a hint of green bamboo. Also appropriate was an "ostentation of peacocks," which suggests you replace your guard dog with a peacock. Fun fact: the staffers of Woop Studio (this book's authors) got started doing graphic design for the Harry Potter movies.

I have been fascinated by books with moving parts since I was a kid, so I thoroughly enjoyed Knick-Knack Paddywhack! as done by Paul Zelinsky. I had the opportunity several years ago to see Zelinsky speak at Western Michigan University during one of the Youth Literature Seminars and it was a fantastic experience. I hope they still do those seminars although I'm now on the other side of the state. Another Zelinsky treat was his version of Rumpelstiltskin, a Caldecott Honor book. Gorgeous!

One that surprised me with its touching words was Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zewibel. You will recgonize David Catrow's distinctive artwork, but it is very subdued to go with the sad ending of this story. I have a particular fondness for one of the trees in the yard of my childhood home so this resonated with me.

Books to try at storytime:
I Swapped My Dog by Harriet Ziefert Could flannelize this one!
Sleepy Book by Charlotte Zolotow
A Little Story about a BIG Turnip retold by Tatiana Zunshine (I have a flannel for this folk tale already!)

Total Number of books read: 41 (We have about 10,000 titles in our everybody section at my new library.)
Books I Had Read Before: 4
Total Number of pages: I was told there would be no math, but 41*32=1312, so that's an estimate
Mistakes found: 2! 1 book had been fixed with the pages out of order and I noticed that Lights on Broadway had this line in the text: "starred in [title of show], The Full Monty, The Little Mermaid" on the H is for House spread.

At first I was disappointed that there weren't more gems in the collection, but maybe this is an exercise in reminding me of just how difficult a great picture book is to find (and to create, no doubt).