Thursday, December 13, 2012

Vacation Reading Suggestions

A selection of books that I have read and enjoyed - and that you can check out from the IHS library (if you get here first!

Faithful Place by Tana French. One great thing about Tana French's interlocking mysteries set in Dublin is that you can start with any one. An even better thing is how well they're written. This story of a detective drawn back into a mystery from his teen years will take you back and keep you up. 

REAMDE by Neal Stephenson.  A computer virus, hackers, gamers, mobsters, religious fundamentalists.  A fact paced global adventure that weighs in at several pounds.  

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.  A fable about the power of story.  Funny and sad by turns.  Perfect for reading aloud.  

Thud! by Terry Pratchett.  This more recent addition to the Discworld canon is a perfect place to plunge in.  Old tensions between dwarves and trolls are heating up and  Commander Sam Vimes of the City Watch is caught in the middle.  Add in wizards, vampires, and werewolves  (and that's just the watchmen) and you've got a caper worthy of this comic genius.

Why we Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Illustrated by Maira Kalman. A post-mortem of a high school relationship told through the box of mementos left behind.  Gorgeous paintings and a story that highlights the difficulty of connecting with someone while caught in the social landscape of your peers.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Educational Apps - A few to consider (Free!)

Apps, Apps everywhere and not sure which to buy?  No commitment necessary for these free tools. 

First for the readers out there -

Goodreads is a great way to find new books, keep track of books you read, write reviews and get suggestions for new books.  It is used widely by classes to share book reviews.  The app for this social site lets you use all the functions and also allows you to add books to your shelves by scanning the barcode on the back.  

Lisa's bookshelf: read

The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
The Fault in Our Stars

This app gives you access to the free books at Project Gutenberg.

For Math, Science and More -
From Wikipedia Commons, by Zephyris

If you've never used this"computational knowledge engine" this is the time to check it out.  Do  calculus, find our how many people have your name, learn more about an element or a color.  Apps are available for most mobile devices.

 The periodic table for quick reference and a molecular weight calculator.

"Simply tap to change RNA codons and related amino acid information will be displayed. Colourful pictures are available for every amino acid molecules. User also can browse information by selecting an amino acid from the list. "

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Need some vacation reading?

Some of the new books in the library . . . take one with you over break!


Out by Natsuo Kirino A tautly paced, suspenseful, claustrophobic thriller set in Japan.  Not for the faint of heart.

The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill Political intrigue and intricacies and bodies on the slab in Laos.

In the Woods by Tana French  A richly psychological mystery set in Ireland, I read it a second time - just as good when you know who did it!


How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston  With such chapters as "How to Be The Black Friend" and "Being Black Harvard", Thurston combines humor and the story of his life while challenging stereotypes of blackness.

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowlege No That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room by David Weinberger

Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization by Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller

Fiction Around the World

The Truth About Marie by Jean-Phillipe Toussaint  "down to the taste of grappa in their kisses"

Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin Moscow, 2028.

A Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh  An epic voyage to India during the Opium Wars.

Sequels and Prequels

The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure by James Dashner (second and third books in the Maze Runner Trilogy)

The Dead by Charlie Higson the Prequel to The Enemy  Zombies!

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore  Sequel to I am Number Four. Aliens!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Guideposts as we go Down the Rabbit Hole

One of the joys of the internet is diving in and finding something unexpected, something funny or inspiring, or just the right bit of information.  And when we have found that delightful something, what do we want to do but share it?  We create out of the vast miasma, a collection of things that we are recommending.  But how do we manage this crowd-sourced curating?

Maria Popova has proposed the Curator's Code.  This code says that we must give credit not only to the creator of the content where possible, but to our fellow curator's who have brought it to our attention.  She suggests two symbols to use.  The first(  ) stands for "via" and is used to denote the direct source where you found the information and the second () stand for HT or Hat Tip which allows you to give credit to "a link of indirect discovery, story lead or inspiration".  You can check out the Curator's Code website for how to get these neat symbols to appear in your blog or facebook post.

I am drawn to this way of leaving bread crumbs as we explore the forest of information, and so pleased at the term "Curator", a great word to describe what we are all becoming.

And Librarians are becoming the professional curators of information, here to lead you away from the kitten burritos and latest "S**t (insert demographic group here) say" towards the beautiful and useful.
A fellow librarian puts it well:

As our collections are changing, our role as the curator is – I believe – coming to the fore again. Now we’re being asked to curate collections of apps for the devices we check out, such as iPods and iPads. We’re assembling dioramas of software for our information commons computers... I feel like we’re an art museum trying to put together an exhibit for a whole new art movement that hasn’t really been defined yet.  
  Librarienne,   Catherine Sullivan (for introducing me to the idea of librarian as curator)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Millennial Feminism

"Can you be sure of getting your voice heard in a group where you are the only representative of your gender?"  When this question was asked of a group of students at International during the recent diversity day, every Girl said "no" and every Boy said "yes".  Whether we're calling it the 3rd wave or 4th,  and even if there is a tendency for some women to say, "I'm not a feminist, but...,"the women's movement remains relevant today.  But does it have a spokesperson?
The Sunday New York times (March 18th) asked why no one has replaced Gloria Steinem as the voice of feminism.  Their answer - in short - is that her legacy has dispersed into many different places.  Steinem herself says "Only a diverse group can symbolize a movement."  
One place where young feminists are making their voices heard is the blog the F-bomb started by Julie Zeilinger.  The "F" here stands for feminist, not the other f-word, but the intended double meaning speaks to the forthright uncensored voice of the blog.  Zeilinger made newsweek's list of 150 Fearless Women, but her blog is written by a variety of teenage women who speak elegantly about their experiences, about sex education, about machismo, about the media, about sexual assault, about perfectionism.   The internet has allowed the women from around the world to find community, and to make their voices heard.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day

In honor of International women's day I've reached back to a NYT bestseller from 2003 to suggest a book: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in books by Azar Nafisi I'm sure some of you read this when it came out, but if you never got around to it, consider coming to the library to check it out now.

Reading Lolita tells the story of Azar Nafisi a literature professor in Iran forced to resign her post who continues to teach seven of her students, meeting in her house to read classic western works, including  Lolita, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice.   These novels take a back seat to the lives of Azar and her students, but the transformative power of literature drives the memoir.

 This glimpse into the hearts and minds of women whose rights have been stripped away shows us their courage, their losses and their joys.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ada Lovelace and Women's History Month

Women's History month is around the corner.  In the International Library we will be expanding our diversity wall to include women who have changed history, who inspire you, and who are basically awesome.  Please bring pictures, quotes or objects to the library for inclusion in our ever expanding wall.
Or send your items to Lisa Shaner or Catherine Sullivan for inclusion - please be sure to tell us why you made your choice.

Below is a video I made about Ada Lovelace.  Lovelace can be called the first computer programmer and "Ada Lovelace Day" (October 16th this year) has been created as a day to recognize women who are engineers, programmers, and mathematicians.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Diversity Wall and Talking about Race

The Diversity Wall in the library is growing.  With many contributions from faculty and students spreading across the space.   In February the wall serves as a canvas to celebrate Black History, especially from the last 30 years. 
Next month is Women's History month and we will be asking everyone to contribute information about the women that inspire them.
While we are using these national events to focus the development of the diversity wall - we welcome all contributions of inspiration from diversity.
Please come visit and peruse! 

As the International community continues having discussions about diversity of all types, we are necessarily touching on sensitive topics including race.  The video below offers Jay Smooth's perspective on talking about race.  It's worth the 11 minutes to watch him speak about how to better have a conversation when you need to tell someone that something they said sounded racist, or when someone says that to you.  His message about making our conversations about what someone did, not about who they are applies to many situations. 

TEDxHampshireCollege - Jay Smooth - How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race

 "Jay Smooth is host of New York's longest running hip-hop radio show, the Underground Railroad on WBAI 99.5 FM in NY, and is an acclaimed commentator on politics and culture."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

YA Grows Up

Books written for teenagers can be, frankly, simplistic and melodramatic even when they are enjoyable.   Anyone who's spent some reading time in Forks, Washington can attest to that.  However, merely being marketed towards a younger audience doesn't mean a book is dumbed down, poorly written or lacks serious content.
An article by Laura Miller on reviews two recent YA books - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff.  Miller writes:
 If you were to skip “The Fault in Our Stars” — or another new novel, by YA luminary Meg Rosoff, “There Is No Dog” — because you assume that such books are less intelligent, well-written or emotionally complex than their adult counterparts, you would be most miserably mistaken.
 It makes no sense that the maudlin goo that is “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” should be classified as a work for adults, when “The Fault in Our Stars,” a far more mature rumination on the same themes, is regarded as a children’s book. Likewise, why should grown-ups be subjected to the cutesy “The Life of Pi” while teenagers get to revel in an astringent fable like “There Is No Dog”?
I can vouch for The Fault in Our Stars (and you can check it out in the International High School Library.)  Through the smooth witty voice of a 16-year-old girl the reader is led to question what it means to live a good life, what a hero really is, and the significance of death. The book also addresses the interconnections and complications between the reader, the writer, and the work of literature. I haven't read There is No Dog yet, but I know Meg Rosoff's work, and the premise of a teenage boy as the supreme deity promises to be magic in her hands.

Other books written for the YA audience (and available in the library) that cut the BS and tackle hard issues:

  • The Incredibly True Story of  Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Speak by Laura Halse Anderson
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Stuck in Neutral by Terry Truman
  • Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Celebrating 50 years of Film and Literature

In concert with our 50th anniversary, the International High School Library is displaying some of the award winning and best-selling books and movies from 1962, 1972, 1982, 1992 and 2002.  Come to the library to peruse winners of the Palm d'Or, books that topped the New York Times Bestsellers Lists, Caldecott Medal winners and Prix Goncourt winners among others. 
Here are some of the books and movies from 2002:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Black History on your iPhone/iPad

If you're looking for a dose of Black History at your fingertips, there are a few apps available.  None of these appear to offer any in depth analysis, but the easy access could serve to inspire further investigation.

Black History Facts
This app offers 530 facts and advertises that they come from every continent, offering some alternatives to Black History that is strictly focused on the United States.

Then and Now: Black History
 Gives information about 100 people in Black History.

Offers a fact for each day of the year.

Black History Quotes
Inspirational quotes from African American History

There is an innovative project under construction:

The Mobile Black History Project using Augmented Reality
Currently working within the Layar browser and covering 12 U.S. cities (not San Francisco), this app will allow users to point their phone or tablet at a location and learn about associated events in Black History.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Educreations : New iPad App turns your ipad into Interactive Smartboard

Educreations turns your iPad into a recordable whiteboard.  Educreations stands above other Apps such as Show and Screenchomp in terms of ease of use and design.  The most touted feature however is the ability to use multiple pages.  Read the Edudemic review or download the free App from iTunes and test for yourself.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Some Prize Winning Books and Movies from 1972 - 10 years after the school was founded.
Solyaris by Andrei Tarovsky
Cannes Grand Prix

#1 Bestselling fiction book

Prix Goncourt

Grand Prix du roman de l'Academie francaise
Newbery Award


Heinrich Boll
Nobel Prize for Literature

Best Picture and Best Actor at the
Academy Awards
Best Actess - Jane Fonda in Klute

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


In honor of our 50th anniversary, we have created a display of books and movies that were topping the charts in 1962.  

We still read some of the popular books from 50 yearas ago. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger is the most enduring of the bestsellers.  And the Hugo award winner that year, Stranger in a Strange Land is probably the source of the name for the SAT prep site just pitched to our 11th graders, Grockit.   

The movies that won oscars that year have proved to have even more staying power.  Lawernce of Arabia won best picture and the performance that won best actor is still shown in classrooms every year, Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird

1962 Bestsellers
1. Ship of FoolsKatherine Anne Porter 
2. Dearly Beloved: A Theme and Variations
3. A Shade of Difference, Allen Drury
4. Youngblood Hawke, Herman Wouk
5. Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger
6. Fail-Safe, Eugene Burdick and Havey Wheeler
7. Seven Days in MayFletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II 
8. The PrizeIrving Wallace
9. The Agony and the EcstasyIrving Stone
10. The ReiversWilliam Faulkner 

Coming up: Bestsellers and Award Winners from 1972, 1982, and 1992!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Surf Now, Read Later

It must be a fundamental law that you will discover the most interesting, useful information online when you have the least time to sit down and read it.  And then when you have some quiet time with your handheld device of choice (smartphones, tablets, and e-readers, oh my!) you end up playing angry birds because you can't remember where that list of the best 100 iPad apps was.

There are a lot of options out there for saving web content to view later - here are just two to consider:

Both require you to create a log in and work by giving you a bookmarklet to put in your bookmark bar so you can just click when you're on a page and the content will be saved to your account.

Read It Later
This app is currently implementing a new interface that looks great, includes a picture from the saved page, and seems very well suited to iPad use. Integrates with quite a few apps, including Flipboard and Zite.

A little more established and robust than Read It Later. Integrates with lots and lots of apps.  Exports to more formats (including epub, which interests me as a new Nook owner) for reading offline.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars (Amazon) by John Green was finally released today, and will arrive in the library soon. Whether this means anything to you is probably directly connected to whether you are familiar with the acronym "DFTBA" or the term "Nerdfighter."
John Green has written several bestselling books for young adults: Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines and (with co-author David Levithan) Will Grayson, Will Grayson.  All of his books have been well received but the pre-publication buzz for The Fault in Our Stars has been fueled primarily by an on-line community that John and his brother Hank (scientist and musician) created when they began communicating via a public video blog.  

The day that The Fault in Our Stars was made available for pre-order the book rose to number one on Amazon.  John's promise to sign every single pre-ordered book became a gargantuan task, chronicled with increasing absurdity in the continuing video blog between the brothers.  

The community of nerdfighters that John and Hank started has gone on to send planes full of supplies to Haiti, create a yearly IRL conference for you tube stars and fans, and to create the Project for Awesome where YouTube is taken over by videos promoting charities. More than $70,00 was raised by the project this year and will divided among those organizations that get the most votes. 

John and Hank Green remind us that the internet isn't all videos of cats and cyberbullying, it's also a place that can create real friendships and foster improvements in the world.  Or, as a nerdfighter would put it, "decrease world suck."

Here are John and Hank explaining How to be a Nerdfighter: 

DFTBA: Don't Forget to be Awesome
Nerdfighters: People who instead of being made up of cells and organs and stuff are actually made out of awesome. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One School, One Book: our first selection

The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our Brains by Nicolas Carr

Carr made a splash with his 2008 Atlantic Monthly Article "Is Google Making us Stupid?"  His book continues the theme and explores the ways that our constant connection to a digital flood of information is changing how we think and process ideas. Carr describes the loss of the ability for deep sustained thought.
Thanks to Mireille Rabate for the suggestion of this book as the first in our "One School, One Book" program.  There will be opportunities to discuss this book later in the year.  The high school library has copies of The Shallows available on kindles and in print.  So come check it out and see for yourself if you agree with Carr's arguments.

And for another perspective:
Review from NYT written by Jonah Lehrer, author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist (also available in the high school library)

Review on Slate

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book'em: What we're reading.

"Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously."  
- The Eyre Affair book jacket

Join the High School Book Club in reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.  We will discuss the book next Tuesday, January 10th,  at lunch in the library.
One of my personal favorites, this book combines science fiction with  references to literary classics and clever word play. The heroine, Thursday Next must contend with battling gangs of Baconians, a father lost in time, and  corporate tool Jack Schitt (with siblings Horse and Bull).    Then Jane Eyre goes missing and this LiteraTec agent must go to the source to save the beloved heroine.  Absurd and Hilarious, Fforde creates a world that will draw you in even if you (like me) have never read Jane Eyre.

Find out more on amazon or on the wikipedia page. 

For those who get hooked, there are five sequels where we meet a cast including cloned Neanderthals, Prometheus and a disastrously decisive Hamlet.