All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Tweens Read Thursdays

All Four Stars

Pages- 288 
Age Range- Ages 8-12 
Release Date- July 10, 2014

The Story 

"It is hard to keep the flame of your passion alive, when you're not allowed to light a burner at home." 

Eleven-year-old Gladys Gatsby has a passion for cooking. When her parents are at work, Gladys secretly cooks in her kitchen. One day she decides to try and make Creme Brulee. Armed with her father's blow torch, she accidentally sets her parents kitchen curtains on fire. Luckily, her parents walk in just in time to put out the fire and to give Gladys a punishment. She is no longer allowed to cook. 
While in her culinary exile,  Gladys focuses on another secret passion - food reviews. When her class enters in a writing contest for the world famous New York Standard newspaper, Gladys enters a letter explaining her love for writing food reviews. She is sure to win, but the publisher mistakes her entry as a cover letter and hires her as a restaurant critic. It is Gladys dream job! Now Gladys must try to cover her first New York Standard assignment without getting caught. 

My Review

This was a delicious read for even the "pickiest eater." It has a strong theme of following your passion despite setbacks. I really liked how many obstacles Gladys had to face to write the review. I also enjoyed that it had many feelings that I think my tweens could relate to. For instance at the beginning of the story, Gladys does not have any friends and she feels like an outsider. When she starts to share her passion, she is able to find friends who share the same interests. It is the classic finding yourself book, but this gave Gladys Gatsby a wonderful character development with sweet humor that I think middle grade readers will flock to. I can't wait to recommend it to my food loving tweens. I know they will enjoy it as much as I did. 

Also, look for the sequel that comes out May 5, 2015!


Library Yoda (Throwback Tuesday)

This is a post I posted back in 2013 at my other blog. I was reading back through my posts, but this one interview I did for school really redirected my library career. I had to do a school assignment for my undergraduate library degree. The assignment was to interview a school librarian. This was shortly after I was hired as a youth service assistant at my library. 

 I will never forget how much I learned from this individual. Without further adieu here is my really goofy 2013 self. I hope you find this advice as valuable as I did. 

September 2013 

Today, I got the privilege of interviewing a well respected school librarian. I did not think much of it. It was a school assignment, and I just kept thinking - its early. Of course I had a pumpkin flavored coffee in tow (amazing btw), but point is I was reluctant to do this.

 Then she started talking and I am all... awwwww!

It was one of those moments where you wish this amazingly talented person could beam you their power. She did, but it was less Yoda-e.  First off, I am an almost librarian and I cannot not quote a book. Ready? How about now? *Cue scroll* 

Exactly!!! Take a chance, chase a dream cause ur not guaranteed tomorrow! Get out there and live life with no regrets!

There is a point to this. I promise. So a little background! I work at a public library, and I did not think I could learn anything from a school librarian. Of course I was wrong. Lesson 1 of day: You learn the most valuable things from most unexpected people.  She starts talking, and I find out she is one of the heads of the library, and she was a president for a well respected library organization (our state library organization). Lesson 2 : The most successful people are modest people. These people are not going to rub in your face their success. The people who parade their success around are not someone you want to learn from.

                     Instead of wanting to talk about herself, this lady wanted to know about me. 

Need a pick me up?  Just look at the baby with a watermelon hat.  I know I'm feeling better!

I probably looked something like this. I am at a cross roads in my life & it meant a lot she wanted to know about me. Not too many strangers want to know about where you came from, your job, boyfriend, and cat stories.

 She listened to me go on, and on, and on. Finally, after my long slightly psychotic ramble ... she stops me. She started to give me advice & she really lifted me up. 

1. She commended me on having my job. For those of you out there, good job! She talked about how important finding something you love, and doing it is. You are going to do something better if you love it. I have found it... finally! Cheeeckkk 

2. Next, she went in to how important collaboration is. No matter what field you are working in: join professional organizations, get involved, talk to other professionals! In addition, stay connected to the community. 

3. Know your users. No matter what you do, this is important. For example, if you were a teacher, you have to know your students. You have to know how they learn to best to teach them. You also need to have that relationship with them. Know their favorite t.v. shows or books. Knowing who are working with is often not given the importance it should. 

4. Go where you feel led to go. I was feeling torn about some things in my life, and she broke it down. If you want to go international. Go. Down south? Do it. Wanna stay here? We have a place for you. Never feel like you have to go some where for a job or what ever reason. Things will work out how they should 

5.  She went on to give me some leadership advice. Do not get angry. In fact, laugh it off. Negate the conversation in a group. The group will work problems out on their own. All you need to do is to listen and direct the conversation. In regards to complaints, listen. It is a habit to get mad and fight back. If you are at work and someone starts yelling, stop and listen. Generally, all they want is someone to listen to them. You generally do not have to do anything else. 

6. Finally, just do it! Now is the time to go after whatever your heart desires. If you want to be a writer, start writing. It can be scary, but do not live in the comfort of your life. With fear, there is growth. 

......& that concludes throwback Tuesday! 

The Illogical Valentine's Day Party

It is programming Saturday! 

Last week my tween partner in crime Miss A and I partnered to give our tweens something to do on Valentines day. 

What better way to do that then an Alice and Wonderland tea party? 

Like our last program, this program was low prep. 
Our main selling point for the tweens? Food 

We got Walmart sugar cookies on sale (about $2 for a dozen). For the actual tea party we just used  English Breakfast Tea that we found at Walmart as well. The total cost of this program was about $8. I don't know about you, but when you can find a program that is cost efficient that makes your tweens happy, it is a win! 

After we got the tea and cookies set up, Miss A. and I set out a few deck of cards on one table and some crafts on the other. We did not have too many crafts for this program. We thought that the tweens would mainly want  to talk and eat (they did). 

The crafts we did have were : 

We used the directions in the link above, but we modified it be Disney silhouettes. The kids used computer paper to put the strips of magazines on, and then we placed another computer sheet with the Disney silhouette over it. We finished it by placing a piece of contact paper over it.  I wish I had pictures for you, but I always get carried away talking with the kids that I forget. 

Alice and Wonderland Coloring sheets 

Coloring sheets tend to be really popular. I try to provide at least one for each of my programs. My tweens like to talk and do something simple. Having a simple coloring sheet out is a great outlet to give them something to do. 

Newspaper Hats  - Here is a cute tutorial of the hat

Granted, no one did the crafts....but they were there just in case!  We only had two younger tweens who wanted to color. The rest of the time, we played cards! 

I was amazed at how much the tweens loved sitting around eating and playing card games. They taught me a few new games that I never heard of, but it was a lot of fun. It just goes to show that sometimes the simplest things mean the most. 


I was really happy with the outcome of this program. I really enjoyed spending time with my tweens just playing games and talking. I had a blast. The only thing I wish I did was had less crafts. Sometimes, I tend to over prepare. I feel like you just never know what tweens will want, but I am glad I did have a few out just in case. This program made me realize that I need to have more games in my programs. I tend to just focus on crafts. Maybe I will do a game day next. 

What are you doing at your library? 

The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone

The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone 
By Jordan Stratford

I want you to picture Sherlock Holmes 

Now picture a middle grade novel with two intelligent girls solving crime in London. 

You will get: 

Age Range- 8-12
Pages- 240 
Published- January 6, 2015

The Story 

The world's first programmer, Ada Bryon, and the world's first science fiction author, Mary Shelly, come together in a historical fiction story. Set in the early 1800s, the girls are thrown in tutoring lessons together. Ada, finds a liking to reading newspapers. She understands everything, but people. While reading the newspaper, Ada notices several stories on crimes in the area. This revelation gives the girls an idea.  They will start their very own detective agency. Their first case quickly comes about. A young women asks the girls to find out who stole a valuable family jewelry piece from her, but this will not be an easy case. The young women's maid already turned herself in for the crime, but the woman is convinced it was not the maid. Ada and Mary must clear the name of the innocent maid before the real thief gets away! 

My Thoughts 

I adored this book. What is better then history, mystery, and science? This is the perfect STEM book for kids. It is not too intimidating, and it has beautiful pictures throughout the book. I enjoyed the hint of a Sherlock Holms plot. It was a little predictable, but it did have some twists to make  it a little different. I also liked that it addressed that women can do more. It was empowering and something I want to give to all of my young tween girls. 

I hope to see more independent and intelligent lady characters in more middle grade books. This one screams girl power.

My only complaint is that I think it will only appeal to a small audience. I am thankful to have another exciting mystery story I can recommend for younger readers though. 


Tween Disney Dance Program may wish for more tween library programming ideas. When coming up with tween programming, I am blessed to work for a wonderful & supportive library. I even have a partner in crime who assists me in my tween shenanigans. Our most recent program is a Disney dance party. It was wildly successful & really simple. 

The Program

For this program our main activity was listening to Disney music. All we did was create a Youtube playlist similar to this one: 

We also took song requests from the kids, and played a few of our favorites

Since we knew that the kids wouldn't want to dance right away, we set up several stations around the room. The first station was to build your own Lego Castle

Next we had a coloring station. We had simple Disney coloring pages out for the kids to color. This station & the Lego station was the most successful for the tweens. 

It is after all that awkward age where you want to be old but still want to do things that you did when you were young. I think the kids enjoyed these stations as an outlet for for their creativity. 

Besides these stations, we also had a snowflake making station (inspired by Disney's Frozen) 

& Finally....

Our last station was a voting station to vote on your favorite princess, the worst villain, and the most handsome prince.  

Surprisingly, this event was successful for both boys and girls. The boys flocked to the Lego station & the girls wanted to color. After the program, the kids wanted to check out all of the Disney movies and books we had available. It was the perfect way to show off our collection and connect with our tweens. 


I was a little surprised by the success of this event. During this school year, we have a hard time getting tweens to come into the library. I was feeling really discouraged, and wasn't expecting more then a few to show up. I was really surprised to have a crowd! I think a big part of this was due to changing the program to a Friday night. (Normally, we have our programs on Mondays) By having it on the weekend, it gives kids a safe  place to go on the weekend. Plus, parents who are off work also have time to take their kids to activities such as this one. I am hoping this magic time might continue to work. 

What I Learned 

The success of a program isn't based on numbers. 

This program was successful in numbers, but it was only successful because of the other not so successful programs. 

Programming at the library is about building community and connecting with our patrons. 

My unsuccessful programs where I only had one or two kids show up, came to this program because I  took time to connect with them.  By showing interest in tween interests, it helps to open that door for a connection.  Sometimes the smaller programs are where you can spend the most time connecting with tweens & you can get more ideas for future programming. 

Besides connecting with the tweens, it was due to collaboration of staff that made this program what it is. 

It takes a team to achieve a dream. 

Tweens are a difficult group to serve. I am thankful I work with such wonderful coworkers. It allows for collaboration and free flowing ideas. This program is a product of this collaboration of my coworkers & shows the importance of connecting and working with other people. The success of any program requires team work. The library is no different. 

Being a librarian is a special job & I look forward to doing even more programming. 

Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Remember when I said I would read this in August? Ya, I finally read it! 

Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Pages -336 
Age range- 8-12 years old 
Published- April 2014
Genre- Historical Adventure (with a little fantasy)
Themes- Social class, life, purpose, and love

Set in the 1900s in Canada, Boundless is about a boy named Will. Will has always wanted adventure. He longs for his dad's life building railroads & seeing Sasquatch. When he boards the Boundless train, Will gets what he has always wanted- adventure. On the Boundless train, holds a train car filled with treasures & someone is out to take it. Will figures out the plan to rob the train, and now  men are after him trying to murder him to keep him silent. Will finds refuge with the circus that is traveling on the train, but can Will trust them?  Nothing is what it seems. The only way to get help is to wait until the train stops. Until then, Will must stay alive and keep the treasure safe. 


This was an exciting adventure story. I do think this is a book suited for older tweens in middle school. It does have some swear words, a little romance, and violence that might be too much for some young readers. I did feel that at times this book was slow, but it was overall a good read. I enjoyed most that the story was set in Canada. This setting was a little bit different from the norm. It also had a lot of Canadian folk lore in it. I felt like this made it stand out from most reads. I think anyone who enjoys adventure will enjoy this historical adventure.