Blog name: A Library Mama
Blog URL: http://alibrarymama.com
Your name: Katy Kramp
What genre(s) does your blog focus on?
Fantasy and science fiction for all ages are my favorite, though I write about a fair number of picture books and graphic novels as well.
Which book(s) would you suggest for a middle grade level reluctant reader?
That really depends on what that particular reader is most interested in! But lately I’ve been recommending one of our Cybils finalists, Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry. It’s fast-paced adventure featuring privateers in space (so fun!) and at just about 200 pages, is a lot less intimidating than the average middle grade novel these days.
I’ve also been talking up the Nick and Tesla series by Bob Pflugfelder, illustrated by Steve Hockensmith, for those who like a little more realism. These are mysteries also in the 200-age range, starring gadget-making twins, with instructions for the gadgets. The first book is Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab.
For readers right on the borderline of early chapter books and longer middle grade books, I love the Lulu series by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont (which starts with Lulu and the Duck in the Park) and the classic Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell.
Those are all prose novels, but often graphic novels are really important for helping reluctant readers bridge that gap between thinking in pictures and thinking in words. Personal favorites include Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke, Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman, the Mouse Guard books by David Peterson, Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado, and anything by Raina Telgemeier.
How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?
This month – gulp! – marks my eleventh year of book blogging. I started right around the time I got pregnant with my son because my on-line pregnancy group kept asking me what I was reading, and then wanting to go back to my old recommendations. I kept going after I joined an in-person parenting group. I found so many parents who had been readers before they had children. They often said that they didn’t have time for reading now, but it turned out that mostly they didn’t have time to go to a library or bookstore with their kids and pick something out for themselves. It’s so important for parents to keep reading, both for our own sanity and so our children can see us reading! As our children have gotten older, I’ve tried to deepen my coverage of the kids’ and teen books I’ve always read for myself to help parents match them up with their kids.
How has being a NetGalley member impacted your blogging?
NetGalley – oh, NetGalley! Why do you offer me so many new, enticing books to read, when there are already so many waiting for me on the library shelves? Now instead of just needing a book to read and at least one backup in print and on audio at all times, I need to have the same on my e-reader, too, or my book addiction starts twitching! More seriously, I really appreciate seeing what’s coming out, and besides letting me see those cool books early, being a NetGalley member has reminded me of the importance of communicating my thoughts back to the publisher, as well.
What is the most gratifying thing about being a book blogger?
The most gratifying thing is being able to help even more people find just that right book, especially if I can have conversations with people about the books. I’ve also gotten to know other wonderful book bloggers, which means discovering more authors and more discussions about the books we love.
Do you feel that your role as a blogger and as a librarian impact and/or influence each other?
Absolutely! I’m better at being a book blogger because of my experience helping people choose books in the library, while being a book blogger keeps me up-to-date on the books that are out there, which helps me do my work in the library better. I often find myself searching my old reviews for the title of a book I read a few years back that would be perfect for the patron in front of me. And while I know I’ll never be able to read all the books I want to, my fellow book bloggers help me seem more like I have with my patrons.
Are there certain questions you usually ask when trying to match someone with a book?
With reluctant readers especially, I usually ask what kinds of things they’re interested in, so I can find books to tie into their outside interests. Even though I think interest is more important than level, I usually ask kids about their reading level and how long a book they want to read. With kids and adults, I ask questions to figure out if they want genre or realistic fiction and whether they care more about plot or characters.
You work closely with the CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, can you explain the importance of these awards and a little about the nomination and awards process?
I love the CYBILS awards! I’ve been following them for a few years now, and was honored to serve as a Round 1 judge in the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category for the first time this fall. Here the way they work: In August, book bloggers apply to be judges, and find out in September if they made it or not. In October, books are nominated. From mid-October through December, the Round 1 judges read all the nominated books and come up with shortlists, which are announced January 1. Then the Round 2 judges take over and select one winner from each shortlist, which is announced February 14.
I love the CYBILS especially for several reasons:
One, the nominations are open – from October 1-15 each year, anyone can nominate one book in each of the categories. That means kids and teens can nominate their own favorite books, and small press or self-published books will get read right along with the books that get lots of hype.
Two, there are lots of categories, ranging from book apps to picture books to teen graphic novels. That means that if someone comes to the library looking for a book in a category that maybe I don’t read in so much myself, I can show them the Cybils categories and they can pick. Which leads me to
Three: the lists of finalists. I know it’s a good thing to have one final winner for simplicity, but my heart is with the list of five to seven books in each category that really showcase the breadth of good books in any given year. They are so helpful for giving people a choice without being overwhelming.
What is your favorite cover on NetGalley right now?
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein… no, wait, Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman.
If you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?
The easy answer here is the book that I carried in my suitcase the year I traveled with Up With People – Beauty by Robin McKinley. These days I do a lot less re-reading and there’s a lot more competition – I’d say Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater would be a close contender.
Thanks so much Katy and congratulations on 11 years blogging! Please make sure to check out A Library Mama and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight! *Interviewed by Tarah Theoret
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