Category: That Artsy Librarian

That Artsy Librarian | I’m Graduating!!

Posted December 8, 2016 by Jana in About Me, Personal, That Artsy Librarian / 8 Comments


That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

Guys. I had to interrupt my Bookish Little Christmas event to express my excitement because tomorrow is graduation! FINALLY. I presented my capstone paper (basically a thesis) last night after working on it and researching like crazy for an entire semester.

In response to the Young Adult Library Services Association’s 2013 national forum on the future of library services for teens and its resulting action report, I performed a study that aimed to discover what qualifications and skills teen librarians should possess in order to be successful in their careers. I analyzed the content of 200 job advertisements for teen librarian job positions in public libraries in the United States. My goal was to discover what the ideal teen librarian is like and whether or not libraries, scholars, and the American Library Association agree by comparing the study’s findings to contemporary literature on this topic. I collected job advertisements going back to January 2015 from three online job boards over the course of four months. I then organized the results into tables of various types of qualifications and skills and discussed the implications of the results and compared them to the literature. I also make recommendations for further research.

My professor/director of the department says I should submit it for publication because it’s so well done and informative! I’m seriously considering it because it was a ton of work. This is all SUPER exciting for me. I can’t believe that after 3.5 years of being a full time student (again), I’m finally done forever. I never have to do this again (I said this when I graduated with my Bachelor’s so…)! I have written hundreds of pages of literature reviews, case studies, analyses, discussions, marketing plans, research papers, proposed literature collections, and more. I’ve done projects in conjunction with local libraries. I’ve done multiple presentations and led discussions on several of them. I’ve done a bunch of group projects (ugh). I did an internship. And it’s FINALLY OVER! I don’t know that this will actually sink in until next semester starts and I find myself not getting ready for it.

I’m graduating with a 4.0 GPA, guys! This is the best Christmas present I could have given myself (see? I still swung this in a Christmas direction!)!

That Artsy Librarian | Just Finished My Second to Last Semester!

Posted May 27, 2016 by Jana in About Me, That Artsy Librarian / 7 Comments


That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my grad school experience, so I thought I’d do that today! I feel like I’ve been in school forever… And I have. I’ve been in grad school for three years. I honestly can’t believe it. I never thought I’d ever go to grad school, much less do a program that takes almost as long as my undergraduate degree.

I just finished up my second to last semester, and I took library marketing and collection development classes. In marketing I spent the semester writing marketing plans for a local library. The first plan was for the ENTIRE library: all of the services and programs available there. It was so complicated and long… 20 single-spaced pages. The second plan was just for the library’s teen services department and it was 16 single-spaced pages. It was fun, but super stressful because I was never really clear on what my teacher wanted. lol. I also made an 8-minute powerpoint audio/visual presentation for my first plan. The course also required I write reviews of scholarly publications and participate in weekly discussions on our required readings. It was a very intense course.

My collection development course was interesting… I was paired up with a classmate and we had to put together a 15-minute audio/visual presentation on weeding library collections. I also did a group assignment on the principles of collection development, which I did not find incredibly useful. The bulk of my final grade came from a 20-item collection I developed for the same library I used in my marketing class. I decided to do it on art and its influence on popular culture. Seeing as how I got my undergrad degree in art history, I thought this was a really fun topic and I enjoyed my 20+ hours of research. Not only did each collection item have to fit the theme, it also had to have positive professional reviews from publications such as Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. I spent a lot of time researching those and quoting them in my justifications for each item. I also had to fight for why the collection was necessary, how I would maintain the collection and add to it in the future, and I had to include an itemized list of prices and vendors. I also had to design a marketing tool to advertise the collection to the general public. We all know graphic design is my thing, and I made a large format poster that looks awesome.

I’ve always enjoyed collection development, and this was the third collection I developed for my program. I’ve also done a children’s picture book collection on multicultural friendships and a teen collection on post-apocalyptic topics (fiction, graphic novels, non-fiction, reference, DVDs, CDs, etc.). I find collection development to be a bit of a treasure hunt and I have a lot of fun searching for items. This has been something I’ve learned about myself since I joined the program, and I’m actually surprised! It’s a good kind of surprise, though.

This was probably the most work intensive semester I’ve had, hence the lack of activity going on here on the blog. I’ve done my best to keep up, but I know things slowed down a lot. I did get A’s in both classes, though! 100% in marketing and 99% in collection development, so my devotion pid off. Now I have a few months off to read and relax and enjoy the summer before jumping in to my final semester. I’m taking my last class this fall, and it’s my capstone course. Essentially, I will be designing and conducting a research study. My final paper of the program will be discussing the results of that study and their applications and relevancy to the field of information science. I already chose my topic, but more on that in a later post!

Yay summer!!!

That Artsy Librarian | My Young Adult Literature Class Reading List

Posted January 15, 2015 by Jana in That Artsy Librarian / 35 Comments


Another year, another semester! This Spring, I’m taking Introduction to Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature. I’m excited for both, but obviously I’m kind of REALLY excited about my YA Lit class! I’m posting the reading list here because I would LOVE opinions on which books are the best and which ones I need to steer clear of. Please, PLEASE give me your opinions because I’m so overwhelmed and some of these titles scare me! And holy MOLY, this is a lot of reading! I also have two textbooks in this class, plus the teacher assigns scholarly articles as well! I’m gonna be a busy girl!

Weeks 1 & 2: ALA Youth Media Awards
Choose 2: The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley, The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston, Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton.

Week 3: Series
Required: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Choose 2: A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper, The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Wake (Wake Series, Book 1) by Lisa McMann.

Week 4: Living and Dying
Required: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Choose 1: The Hate List by Jennifer Brown, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

Week 5: The Lives of Teens
Choose 2: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, In Darkness by Nick Lake, Pinned by Sharon Flake, The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes, Shine by Lauren Myracle, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

Week 6: The Past
Choose 2: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Mare’s War by Tanita Davis, Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano.

Week 7: Awards
Required: Printz Award Winning book (announced Feb. 2)
Choose 2: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, Sold by Patricia McCormick, A Step from Heaven by An Na, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.

Week 8: Cross-Overs
Choose 2: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni, Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neal Gaiman, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, The Radleys: A Novel by Matt Haig, The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell, Room by Emma Donoghue, Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

Week 9: Coming of Age and LGBTQ
Required: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Choose 1: The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd, Winger by Andrew Smith, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina.
Choose 1: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright, Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Week 10: Graphically Speaking
Required: The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Choose 2: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (2 books count as 1), The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman (2 books count as 1), The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2 books count as 1), Drama by Raina Telgmeier, The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Plus: Read a single YA manga title of your choice

Week 11: Real Lives
Required: The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
Choose 1: Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone, Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver, Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin W. Sandler, We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Y. Levinson, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy.

Week 12: Steampunk
Choose 1: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and Keith Thompson, Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices) by Cassandra Clare.
Choose 1 Film: 9, City of Ember, Coraline, The Golden Compass, Howl’s Moving Castle, Stardust.

Week 13: Book Challenges and Pushing Boundaries
Required: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going.
Choose 1: The Giver by Lois Lowry or Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Phew! I told you it was a lot of reading! So, help me out! In some situations I don’t have a choice, and in others I have a few things to choose between. Which books would you recommend I read? Which ones should I run away from? We all know I hate crying, but crying is inevitable with this list. So really, I’m looking for books that will not shred my soul.

That Artsy Librarian | This Semester Might Kill Me

Posted August 22, 2014 by Jana in About Me, That Artsy Librarian / 8 Comments


That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.


So, I officially began my second year of graduate school on Monday, and I am already stressing to the max. I guess it’s not the beginning of the semester unless I’m flailing throughout the first week, before realizing I can do this because I’ve done it before. The thing is, though, I’m serious this time! I might not survive!

I’m taking two classes this semester (my counselor considers this a full load, and I’d be rather nuts for trying to stack on three courses, thus the reason the program takes three years…). One of them is Library Programming for Children and Young Teens. This one should be fun! I get to visit libraries, visit children’s book sections, interview a children’s librarian, develop a program (with a CRAFT. This is artsy librarian to the FULLEST.), and then present the program to a group of kids. How fun does that sound!? I’ll be fine. It’s the OTHER class I’m scared of.

I’m also taking The Organization of Information this semester, which is a required core course or I would have stayed as far away from it as possible. Basically, this class’s name is fancy talk for Cataloging. *cringe* My professor is very nice and helpful so far, but I am worried my brain is just not big enough for this class. He has mentioned several times that it’s a complicated course. He has mentioned that we will need to read some of class readings multiple times before they sink in. And he has said we have to learn two (TWO) cataloging coding languages (AACR2 and RDA). WHAT. I don’t even understand this class enough to tell you what our projects are like. I’ve begun reading the manuals for the coding languages, and I guess I’m too dumb to even figure out what I’m reading. The manuals are written using English words, but the way they are strung together has me so confused that I would probably understand Japanese better. I’m terrified. TERRIFIED. I can only hope that things will make more sense as we continue through the course, because right now I look pitiful.

So, is anyone else worried about this semester/year?
Have any of you taken Cataloging and survived?
Do any of you know AACR2 or RDA? Will I survive?
Basically, I need a pep talk here.

That Artsy Librarian | It’s Crunch Time, People!

Posted April 14, 2014 by Jana in About Me, That Artsy Librarian / 14 Comments


That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

People. Life is crazy! And I have SO much school work, and the semester ends REALLY soon (like, the end of the month), and the weather is nice and the books I love are calling me, but all I have time for is school! I can’t blog, I’m barely reading, I’m not doing anything fun. Just writing stuff to turn in. This is majorly, MAJORLY crunch time and I feel like I am clawing my way to the end. So, naturally, I’ve had to slow down on blogging. I am so behind on writing my reviews and I’m behind on reading my review books. And everyone wants something from me! And I’m dealing with some health issues, and it’s like AHHHHHH!

So basically, I’m writing to let you know that I’m not dead. Yet. Things are sparse here, and they might be for another couple weeks but I am ALIVE! As the semester draws to a close and my first year of grad school is behind me, I’m just like, “Wow. I’m too old to be a student.” Stress is no longer a good thing! Haha. I’ll be ok!

Anyone else feeling like this? Spring fever coupled with school-needs-to-end-now syndrome is a tricky combination. How do you cope? Tell me I’m not alone. Please, just vent about how stressed you are.We can be friends. :)

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George | Book Review

Posted March 31, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Middle Grade, That Artsy Librarian / 2 Comments

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George | Book ReviewMy Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Series: Mountain #1
Published by Puffin on 1959
Genres: Survival
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Terribly unhappy in his family's crowded New York City apartment, Sam Gribley runs away to the solitude and danger of the mountains, where he finds a side of himself he never knew.

I read this book for my children’s literature class as part of my library and information science grad program. One of our assignments was to write a professional book review (like one that could be published in Publisher’s Weekly or Kirkus) of one of our books for the semester, and so I chose to review My Side of the Mountain!

Roughing it in the mountain wilderness never sounded so appealing! Sam Gribley, tired of his monotonous life in New York City, runs away with his parents’ permission to live a simpler life, equipped with only a few of the bare essentials. This is his account, written as though he were talking directly to the reader, of his yearlong adventure in the Catskills Mountains. He tells of his fight for survival, battles against the elements, love of nature, and wild animal friends. He describes his experiences of making fire, building a shelter, finding food, hunting animals, making clothes, and ultimately discovering what he is truly capable of. Readers are also along for the journey as Sam captures, raises, and trains a falcon named Frightful to be his constant and devoted companion. Mixed in with his exciting feats are pieces of advice he has for the reader on surviving the wilderness such as, “…the more you stroke and handle a falcon, the easier they are to train.”

Jean Craighead George has created a wonderfully timeless escape for readers, both male and female, even though the story is about the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of a young boy. The scenery leaps off the page, and the coordinating drawings and diagrams help the reader picture different contraptions Sam builds and also the wildlife of the region in which he lives. Young readers will open their imaginations to the possibilities found within the pages, and more seasoned readers might have to suspend a little disbelief while reading about some of Sam’s escapades, not to mention the fact that his parents let him go on such a dangerous adventure. In any case, Sam Gribley’s adventure will have readers tearing through the pages, and leave them dreaming of going on one of their very own someday.

5 Stars

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle | Book Thoughts

Posted March 27, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Middle Grade, That Artsy Librarian / 2 Comments

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle | Book ThoughtsA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Series: The Time Quintet #1
Published by Square Fish on January 1, 1962
Genres: Science Fiction, Time Travel
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
3 Stars

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".

Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

A Wrinkle in Time and I, sadly, did not click. I found it to be rather boring and, at times, confusing. I read it for my children’s literature class, and am so glad I did because it gives me more credibility in the field of youth services librarianship. I’m sad I didn’t love it, though, because it’s a classic that has been well-loved for a very long time! I’ve decided to not write a formal review and instead, have chosen to post some of my thoughts that I was required to write for my class. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the book!

This book focuses a lot on the battle between good and evil, which I have always enjoyed. These children are really put to the test as they participate in this battle. Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who all represent a kind of messenger from something good, whether it be a Heavenly place or somewhere else. I think it’s up to the reader to decide what “good” comes from, which can facilitate a lot of interesting discussions.

Battles between good and evil usually bring with them Christian or other religious undertones. I can pick out a lot of Christian themes especially, including the mention of Jesus. Light and dark, Heavenly messengers, resisting temptation, and the mention of books in the Bible also show up in the story. The books of Isaiah and John are quoted. This book has been challenged before, and I can see that these themes might be the reason. At the same time, though, I’m not sure all children would pick up on them.

Children will be able to relate to homely little Meg and misunderstood Charles Wallace. I think they will also enjoy the love within this family, which is another huge theme in the story. Love conquers all. I can see that their imaginations will be stimulated, however, I don’t think I would have been a science fiction lover if I had started out with this book. I enjoyed The Giver and The Time Machine much more.

3 Stars

That Artsy Librarian | My Children’s Lit Class Reading List

Posted March 13, 2014 by Jana in That Artsy Librarian / 8 Comments


That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

Last week Kel requested that I post my entire reading list for this semester’s children’s lit class. For the most part I have the option of choosing between a number of different titles. These titles are listed in my textbook, Essentials for Children’s Literature, in the genre indexes. Below, you will find my choices. If I review them on the blog, I’ll link you to my reviews. :)

Week 1: Newbery Medal Award
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Week 2: Other Book Awards
The Westing Games by Elixabeth Raskin
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Week 3: Poetry
Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart selected by Mary Ann Hoberman (anthology)
Around the World in Eighty Poems selected by James Berry (collection)
Behind the Museum Door: Poems to Celebrate the Wonders of Museums selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins (collection)

Week 4: Baby Books
Hello, Baby! by Mem Fox
Hello, Day! by Anita Lobel
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
Lemons are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Week 5: Picture Books
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (Caldecott)
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems (Caldecott)Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (Caldecott)
The Problem with Chickens by Bruce McMillan
Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson
Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Week 6: Beginning Readers
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassel (Geisel)
Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes (Geisel)
Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont (Geisel)Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas by Cynthia Rylant
Mr. Putter and Tabby See the Stars by Cynthia Rylant
Snowed in with Grandmother Silk by Carol Fenner
Ruby Lu, Brave and True by Lenore Look

Week 7: Folklore, Fairytales, Fables, and Myths
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola (folktale)
Stone Soup by Marica Brown (folktale)
Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter by Diane Stanley (fractured fairytale)
The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story by Judy Sierra (cultural fairytale version)
The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo (cultural fairytale version)
Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Meyer (fiarytale)
Beauty and the Beastly Children by Michael O. Tunnell (fractured fairytale)
The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty and the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep (cultural fairytale version)

Week 8: Fantasy and Science Fiction
A Wrinkle in Time my Madeleine L’Engle
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Week 9: Popular Children’s Books
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Keff Kinney
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Week 10: Contemporary Realism
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
The Double Digit Club by Marion Dane Bauer
The Summer Sherman Loved Me by Jane St. Anthony

Week 11: Historical Fiction, Mystery, and Adventure
Roland Wright, Future Knight by Tony Davis
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Week 12: Multicultural Literature
The Jamie and Angus Stories by Anne Fine

Week 13: Information Books
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Flemming
Leonardo da Vinci by Kathleen Krull
A sex ed book (I have not received the list of approved titles yet)
The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole
An art or music book (I have not received the list of approved titles yet)

Week 14: Graphic Novels and Non-Book Resources
Magic Pickle by Scott Morse
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hal

Week 15: Censorship and Banned Books
1 banned picture book (I have not received the list of approved titles yet)
1 banned picture book (I have not received the list of approved titles yet)
a banned fiction book (I have not received the list of approved titles yet)

And there you have it! It’s a LONG list of books, but I’m a week passed halfway through the semester and it has actually been a pretty fun class, even though it is a ton of work!

Have you read any of these books? Which ones do you like or dislike?

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo | Book Thoughts

Posted March 3, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Inner Child, Middle Grade, That Artsy Librarian / 5 Comments

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo | Book ThoughtsThe Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Published by Candlewick Press on September 9, 2008
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 272
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

While it is a TON of work, I am so thankful that my children’s lit class is forcing me to read so many of the books I missed out on as a kid. The following is not really a review, but more of my thoughts on the book from an educational perspective.

I love how the author speaks to the reader directly, either to ask them to think about what is happening on a more psychological level, or just to explain a complicated word she has used in her story. I think this is a wonderful way to write to children, as it includes them and makes them a part of the reading experience.

There are so many beautiful messages and lessons that can be found if you really think about the symbolism of this story. I can think of so many discussions that could be built off of the quotes below:

Finding/being oneself:

Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.

Despereaux stood before the Mouse Council, and he realized that he was a different mouse than he had been the last time he faced them. He had been to the dungeon and back up out of it. He knew things that they would never know; what they thought of him, he realized, did not matter, not at all.”
I particularly love this quote. It is so symbolic of our trials and tribulations changing us as we learn and grown from them.


Reader, you may ask this question; in fact, you must ask this question: Is it ridiculous for a very small, sickly, big-eared mouse to fall in love with a beautiful human princess named Pea? The answer is … yes. Of course, it’s ridiculous. Love is ridiculous. But love is also wonderful. And powerful.

Did you think that rats do not have hearts? Wrong. All living things have a heart. And the heart of any living thing can be broken.

There is a danger of loving: No matter how powerful you are, no matter how many kingdoms you rule, you cannot stop those you love from dying.

And hope is like love … a ridiculous, wonderful, powerful thing.

Reader, nothing is sweeter in this sad world than the sound of someone you love calling your name. Nothing.

Being discouraged:

Reader, do you believe that there is such a things as happily ever after? Or, like Despereaux, have you, too, begun to question the possibility of happy endings?

There is a lot of talk in the story about our actions having consequences, no matter how insignificant we think those actions are at the time.

Every action, reader, no matter how small, has a consequence.

Light and dark, and the symbolism of each: Light is thought of to be happiness and goodness. It’s music. It’s love. Dark is considered to be scary, evil, and sad.

Stories are lights. Light is precious in a world so dark.

“I think, said Roscuro, “that the meaning of life is light.”

That is, Pea was aware suddenly of how fragile her heart was, how much darkness was inside it, fighting, always, with the light. She did not like the rat. She would never like the rat, but she knew what she must do to save her own heart.

The world is dark and light is precious. Come closer, dear reader. You must trust me. I am telling you a story.

Basically, I loved The Tale of Despereaux. Despereaux is adorable, and when he fell in love with the princess I just melted. I feel like this book has a lot for everyone. Girls will love this royal story, filled with a castle and a princess and love. Boys will love the brave Despereaux and his journey to the dungeons to save the princess. Parents will love this because of all the hidden messages they can share with their children, as there are quite a few teaching moments. Some of these lessons are simply beautiful, and are a nice reminder for kids and adults alike.

5 Stars

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg | Book Thoughts

Posted February 5, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Inner Child, Middle Grade, That Artsy Librarian / 14 Comments

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg | Book ThoughtsFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on 1967
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 162
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort-she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She saved her money, and she invited her brother Jamie to go, mostly because be was a miser and would have money.

Claudia was a good organizer and Jamie bad some ideas, too; so the two took up residence at the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the Museum so beautiful she could not go home until she bad discovered its maker, a question that baffled the experts, too.

I’m grateful to be in a class that forces me to read all the books I missed out on when I hated reading as a child! Since this book is so widely known and loved, I figured I would just list out some of my thoughts on it instead of actually review it. These thoughts come from my required reading notes for class, so they are a bit more professional than my usual fangirl reviews. I will state outright, though, that I really enjoyed this book!

– I feel like many children will be able to relate to Claudia, the main girl in the story. She is 12 years old, the oldest child, the only girl in her family, and she feels under-appreciated. She has big dreams to do something important and be noticed. I know how hard it is to be the oldest child, and I think children will be able to empathize with her.

– Claudia is also very analytical and practical. She has a plan. She chooses to bring her brother, James, because he is levelheaded and has the most money. I love that Claudia is a thinker, and works through all possible outcomes. She’s also very mature and mild-mannered for her age. She really is a wonderful example.

– I love that James is so tight with his money, even though he can take it a bit too far and drive Claudia crazy, as she is used to nice things. This idea of the value of money is a very common theme across the entire book.

– Education is emphasized as being very important. Even though Claudia and Jamie have run away and are kind of on vacation, Claudia wants them to learn everything there is to learn about the museum. They study different exhibits together and join school group field trips. Claudia is also concerned about keeping up with current events, and wants to buy a newspaper. James is curious, and asks the tour guide questions about the exhibits. The children also go to the library to research Michelangelo’s life and work, in order to solve the mystery behind the angel statue. I really like that art is the focus, as art education is not offered as much in schools as it used to be.

– The mystery aspect of the story will appeal to many children. Claudia and James decide to try and discover whether or not Michelangelo carved the mysterious angel statue. As they find more and more clues, readers will anticipate and speculate the ending. The book also encourages reader participation, prompting them to make their own guesses.

– There are some funny moments that I’m sure kids will enjoy, like when James tries to communicate telepathically with Claudia.

– I thought it was incredibly sweet that when Sunday rolled around, Claudia was concerned about their spirituality. They end up going to a chapel in the Middle Ages exhibit to say their prayers. I found this to be a wonderful example of children doing the right thing, and think parents would appreciate this little scene.

All in all, this was a very sweet book. I loved the setting, as the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of my favorite places ever. I loved the relationship between the two children, and how they stick together and really bond. I loved their quirky little personalities, their values, curiosity, their maturity, and their consciences. I loved that they wanted so badly to make an important contribution to the art world. I really enjoyed the traditional language used, and you can tell this book was written during a different time. I will definitely be recommending this book to young readers, or readers who are young at heart. It was such a fun adventure!


This book was read for my Children’s Literature class as part of my Master’s in Library and Information Science program. It is also not a conventional book review, as the books is already so well-loved and well-known by so many people, that I would rather share my thoughts instead of review it.

4 Stars