Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book Review: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Vol. 1, Squirrel Power

Image from RRHS Catalog

As a trade hardcover, Squirrel Power—volume 1 of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl—collects issues 1-5 in which mutant Doreen Green and her sidekick Tippy-Toe begin college, best Kraven the Hunter, and save Earth from Galactus. Ostensibly, our heroine is attempting to blend in with non-superhero society and become a computer scientist, following in the footsteps of her idol Tony Stark. Unfortunately, she has more than a little trouble acclimating to student life. Set in the Avenger corner of the Marvel universe, Squirrel Power is chock full of not-so-casual, casual references to Iron Man, the Avengers, Stark Tower, Doctor Doom, and Thanos as well as allusions to Green’s possibly more suitable partners the X-men, Wolverine, and Deadpool. Written by Ryan North, creator of the fourteen-year running webcomic Dinosaur Comics (, this series is laden with the punny humor and zany commentary fans have come to expect from him. Squirrel Girl is a fast-paced, silly, self-aware romp that is full of wordplay and light on fan-service. Because its artwork is appealing but not overtly sexy, this title is easily appropriate for middle grade readers and beyond. The light-hearted references to itself and the conventions of its genre will find an audience in readers who likes having the “comic” in their comics. Moreover, allusions to other members of the Marvel universe strike the right balance between arcane and insipid in order to appeal to cannon heads and newcomers alike. In short, you would like this book if you like…Marvel’s Deadpool, Lumberjanes, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, and The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton.

- Christina Taylor, RRHS Librarian

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review: Doomed by Tracy Deebs

Image from RRHS Catalog

Feeling unwanted by the mother she’s always known, Pandora Walker can’t resist opening an email from the father she doesn’t remember—unwittingly unleashing cyber Armageddon and sending the entire world into panic. There is suddenly no Internet, no cellular service, no utilities, and no law enforcement. So, Pandora teams up with stepbrothers Eli and Theo to close the box that she has opened by besting her namesake, an allegorical MMO of her father’s making. Simultaneously, they’re forced to track down clues both online and in real life if they want to level up, beat the game, and save the world from a very literal self-destruction. Doomed is a high-energy page turner that will keep readers asking “what next?!” You would like this book if you like… sci-fi, cyberpunk, dystopian, and romance; Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, or Crewel by Gennifer Albin.

- Christina Taylor, DragonLibrary Staff

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Book Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Image from RRHS Catalog

Maddy is a girl who has SCID- a disease in which she is allergic to everything. Olly and his family move in across the street from Maddy and her mom. Maddy and Olly strike up an email relationship. Carla, Maddy's nurse, allows Olly into the house for a visit without her mom's knowledge. Maddy wants to know what it's like to live IN the world and takes steps to make it happen. How things turn out will surprise you. I definitely recommend this book; it is a great story of love, both familial and romantic. You would like this book if you like romance and adventure.

- Becky Seitsinger, DragonLibrary Staff

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fall of the Dragon Prince (The Forgotten Heirs Trilogy Bk. 1) by Dan Allen

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Years ago, the five realms were united byToran, the King. Rumor has it that Toran left an heir in each of the five realms and tied the success of each realm to the survival of his hidden heirs. Now that Toran has died, the realms are once again in turmoil, and only an heir can reunite them.
In the Erdali Realm, Reann, a highly intelligent serving girl in Toran’s estate, has taken it upon herself to try to find the heirs. Her mother was the translator for King Toran, before her death left Reann orphaned. King Toran took Reann in as a servant and left instruction for her to be cared for until her swiftly approaching eighteenth birthday. Reann is the unofficial librarian of the estate and uses all her spare time to research, knowing that she has only weeks left to solve the secret of the heirs before she will be kicked out of the estate. Then, a mysterious nobleman shows up with clues and employs her help in solving the riddle of the lost heirs. In the Montazi Realm, Terith has been raised as a dragon rider. He is the most gifted rider in his village and in charge of the raising and training of the war dragons. Terith will ride to represent his village in the upcoming race to win the right to marry the woman he loves. But his magic awakening has begun early, so he has to learn to control it to be successful in the race and defeat the dark traitor who will be racing against him Will the heirs be found in time to save the realms?

This book is fantasy at its’ best! Fans of Eragon, Game of Thrones, and classic dragon fantasy will enjoy this. The characters are wonderfully written and likable. Readers will find themselves reading through the night, unable to put this down--unable to wait for the next book in the series... needing to know what happens to Reann and Terith! You would like this book if you like… Dragon Fantasy stories!

- Sara Pavone, DragonLibrary Staff

Friday, March 24, 2017

Music is the literature of the heart...

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.”

― Alphonse de Lamartine

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Strange Fruit, Volume 1: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History (Bk. 1 of Strange Fruit)

Image from RRHS Catalog

Gill presents several brief stories about Black Americans that are not typically included among the cannon of black history. Perilous and strange escapes from bondage, pioneers in various fields, and horrific yet forgotten episodes are all presented succinctly with a simple graphic charm. I'd recommend this book as a way to broaden the narrow view presented in many discussions of black history. There's little interaction with the historic grandees; W.E.B. DuBois makes a cameo, as does Teddy Roosevelt. The rest of the cast of characters will likely be new to you. Some escaped slavery and lived to tell a remarkable tale; others overcame social obstacles to achieve greatness. Gill relays these tales with humor and grace, often winking at folktale embellishments which place some stories closer to Washington's cherry tree than START II in terms of historical veracity. The art is simply done with occasional artistic flourishes and plenty of detail and easter eggs for the observant reader. You would like this book if you like… March, Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, or the Crogan Adventures.

~ RET3, Guest Reviewer

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Review: Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

Image from RRHS Catalog

Blue Riley's musician mother died from cancer. Her sister has sold her soul to the devil and run off to fulfill her dreams.  Blue makes a deal with the devil; she trades her musical voice for a chance to find her sister and bring her back.  Armed only with her mother's guitar and a pair of magical boots, Blue sets off across the country to find her sister.  As she travels, Blue finds out about the meaning of family and the unfairness of dealing with the devil. This novel of good vs. evil will keep readers turning the page.  The magical elements are believable and slight, and the characters seem like friends you would want to have.  Two thumbs up for this book! You would like this book if you like… Maggie Steifvater's Raven Boys series.

- Sara Pavone, DragonLibrary Staff

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

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Catrina and her family move to a purportedly haunted town on the coast of Northern California for the health of her younger sister, Maya. Although Cat wants nothing to do with ghosts, Maya is determined to meet one. As Dia de los Muertos approaches, Cat must figure out how to overcome her fears for both their sakes. Although Ghosts is a cute, fun read, some may take exception with the depiction of Hispanic culture and the relationship with ghosts. Nevertheless, this title would be a good addition to a middle grade or early high school collection. You would like this book if you like… Mercury by Hope Larson or Flutter by G. J. Linko.

- Christina Taylor, DragonLibrary Staff

Monday, March 6, 2017

High Ideals #RRockReads

Skipping up the steps of the grand institution that resides at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan, the language arts educator and public school librarian in me appreciates the majestic Beaux-Arts building that I’m about to enter. But the suppressed ten-year-old in me secretly hopes that Cee-Lo Green will burst forth from Patience—his marble prison—and offer up a modern rendition of “I’m a Mean Old Lion.” And even the sobering knowledge that no such whimsy will come to fruition on this day is incapable of sapping my joy.  Having waited these many years, the mere thought of spending my morning on a reading date in the hallowed halls of the New York Public Library prompts a hedonistic flush that can only be rivaled by the fond childhood memory of myself paying gold-lamé-clad homage to Ted Ross’ high-stepping, ousted leader of the pride.

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After a short jaunt down the first floor to room 117, I sigh, nestle into a chair, and take out my tablet to read. Basking in sensuous decadence, I glide my palms over the multi-hued inlaid wood that tops the banquet length table where I’m seated.  I stroke the sculpted table leg and note the many globes that have been tucked into this reading room’s various nooks and crannies. If only I’d taken a selfie.

Round Rock I.S.D. libraries are kicking off a literacy awareness social media campaign entitled #RRockReads. ​​It will start as a campus challenge over Spring Break, ​grow ​into a community challenge in April, and continue ​through the summer. The goal is to have students, faculty, staff, and community members read for fun, to learn, to create, to share, and to grow. Participants are encouraged to share pictures on Twitter and/or Instagram that demonstrate What? Where? or How? they are reading, to deploy the hashtag #RRockReads, and to tag their libraries and librarians (@rrhslib, @SaraSPavone, & @cetaylor05)

Spring 2017 Campaign T​imeline
  • March 1-19: Springbreak Campus #RRockReads Challenge
  • March 23: RRISD School Board, Superintendent, and Community Challenge for National School Library Month (April)
  • April: Continue to highlight our community of Readers!
  • April: National School Library Month
  • Summer: Grow our community of readers!
​ ​
As for my book adventure… opulent though it was, my NYPL reading escape was merely a well-appointed side room, while the main reading room was closed for renovation.

Clearly, I’ll simply have to return for the full experience. (And to get that selfie!)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Book Review: Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee, Peter David, and Colleen Doran

Image  from RRHS Catalog

Stan Lee details his history with and contribution to the comic book industry in this full-color graphic memoir. The comic book legend shares not only his legacy but also the story of how modern comics came to be and his involvement in that process—beginning with his impoverished childhood and pushing through to the current resurgence of the Marvel empire in movies.  Amazing Fantastic Incredible would be a good addition to an  established graphic nonfiction collection, as fans of the Marvel Entertainment movies will enjoy reading about the infamous Stan Lee. Furthermore, you would like this book if you like Dare to Disappoint by Özge Samanci, Filmish by  Edward Ross, or other graphic memoirs.

- Christina Taylor, DragonLibrary Staff

A Grinchmas Carol

Seuss was dead, to begin with – there’s no doubt about that. On September 21, 1991, Theodore Seuss Geisel departed this world, leaving behind many partners in mirth—among them a certain high school librarian upon whose circulation desk we now intrude.

Once upon a time, on Read Across America Eve, this librarian sat busy at her circulation desk—a cold place, colder still for the icy scowl affixed upon her visage at the sight of her director cheerily bursting in upon the scene and declaring “Merry National Read Across America! Literacy save you.”

“Bah!” said Librarian, “Humbug!” Anyone who goes about with ‘Merry National Read Across America’ on her lips should be boiled in her own pudding.

“Read Across America a humbug!” said Librarian’s director. “You don’t mean that, I am sure?”

“I do. It’s quite clear that Seuss’ works have little to offer the sophisticated needs of a secondary library! You keep Literacy in your way, and I’ll keep it in mine.”

But before the unperturbed director could offer a rejoinder, they were joined by a trio of preternatural presences: a faintly-visible mote suspended in a convenient sunbeam, an anthropomorphic feline in a preposterous chapeau, and a fuzzy orange potato with spindly limbs and a Wilford Brimley mustache.

Astonished at the sight, the bickering librarians stood agape a moment before a voice floated out of the dust-speck.

“I know what you’re thinking: Who are we? Well, since we’re not being paid by the word—like some authors we could name—we thought we‘d shortcut the whole arriving-at-the-stoke-of-the-hour schtick and quickly get this over with. We’re the Ghosts of National Read Across America Past, Present, and Future, and we’re going to show you, our curmudgeonly librarian, that the ideas which make Dr Seuss’ works timeless are present throughout your ‘sophisticated’ Young Adult world.”

Image from RRHS Catalog
Similar to Horton’s tale, stories with unseen worlds being discovered by the main character are common in Young Adult literature.  Frequently, the protagonist is singled out by fate and his or her life becomes complicated by the sudden introduction of the extraordinary into the quotidian.  Instead of hearing voices from Who knows what, our hero finds out that vampires are real or that he is a wizard. Some lesser known titles that feature this Seussian motif are Illusionarium by Heather Dixon, Illuminate by Aimee Agresti, and The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer.

Image from RRHS Catalog
Moreover, at any point in time, a zany character can happen by that turns a YA reader’s world topsy-turvy, driving a rollicking adventure that’s unbelievable. In the place of a Cat in a Hat may be a masked pirate king with familiar eyes, as in The Princess Bride by William Goldman; a troubled shape-shifting girl, as in Nimona by Noelle Stevenson; or a literally unbeatable super-heroine, as in Marvel’s Squirrel Girl, demanding attention and temporarily tearing the reader from her everyday world.

Image from RRHS Catalog
Finally, a world seemingly unlike our own can be uncannily similar in poignant ways—enough to make a teenager put down the glowing iThing and heed he who speaks for the trees. The deforested post-Loraxian waste of the Once-ler is a dystopia as sure as a rigid system of Myers-Briggs castes or a state-sanctioned gladiatorial bloodsport. In The Crewel World series by Gennifer Albin, The Selection series by Kierra Cass, and The Dragon Slayer of Trondheim series by E. K. Johnston, this same trope calls into question some rather disturbing aspects of our own world.

Still haunted by the the sight of the epitaph UNLESS, Librarian watched the wee mustachioed Ghost of Read Across America Future stalk off into the distance of the nonfiction stacks before turning to her colleague, unexpectedly giddy with excitement. “There’s still time! I haven’t missed it! I will honor Read Across America in my library, and keep it all year long!”

And, she was better than her word.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review: An Embers in the Ashes (An Embers in the Ashes, #1) by Sabaa Tahir

Image from RRHS Catalog

The main character, Laia, is off to save her brother after he's been arrested for treason. Under vicious tyranny, Laia meets Elias - a soldier trained in trying to enforce the empire's tyrannical methods. Elias, himself, is trying to escape the same dictatorship that Laia is.The setting of the book is reminiscent of a fantasy land based on ancient Rome and Turkey - similar to the Ottoman Empire during the Renaissance. Specifically, the Masks are an imperial guard much like the Sultan's Janissaries. Although this series is good, it would be better if George R.R. Martin collaborated with Sabaa Tahir.

- Brittany, Student

TCEA 2017

Standing on the MetroRail platform in the midwinter gloom, I greet a group of colleagues and giddily ask “Did you go yesterday, or is today your first day? Did you go to any good sessions?”

A half hour later, I extract myself from the sardinian quarters of the train, now much too intimately acquainted with my fellow educators gathered from the suburbs, the edge city, and midtown as we make our annual pilgrimage to the convention center. Next week, the daily commuters will happily reclaim their usual personal space and breathe more freely. Reveling in my freedom of movement, I scoot off the platform to encounter the bold banner above the glass doors, reading TCEA2017 Convention & Exposition: The Power of You.

The power of me, eh? Mighty as I am on a daily basis, like any heroine, I can still appreciate a quality power-up. Ms Pac-Man bow firmly affixed, I gobbled down sessions one after the next, hitting the occasional power pellet that inspired me to chase down the ghosties. These are the sessions that empowered me most:

Using Badges in Google Sheets, Alice Keeler

Keeler employs basic principles of gamification to increase student interest and engagement in the classroom. With digital badges, students can level up and take ownership of their own learning. Teachers can use badges to bring more fun to the classroom, allow students to “beat the boss” to prove mastery, and challenge students through enrichment activities that are unlockable achievements and not more grinding. As attendees, we received practical instruction as well as practical advice for creating and managing our own system of badges. Moreover, access to templates and instructions for getting started are available via the presenter’s web site.

The Best of Tech You Thought You Knew, Steve Dembo

When I attend conferences, I often find myself wearied by the intense emphasis on current trends—the harried dance that waltzes me into a stupor in pursuit of the latest and greatest chimera. Thus, I intentionally shunned the myriad sessions touting the same five buzzwords, instead choosing a session that promised to delve deeper into tools I already use. Introducing attendees to the Poll Everywhere’s Chrome Extension for Slides, Symbaloo’s lesson plans, WeVideo’s green screen & collaborative features, Padlet’s commenting and transferring features, and much more, Dembo’s session was an elixir that restored much-needed hearts to my health bar. His online resources are available via his TCEA17 website.

Gadgets, Leslie Fisher

Being a curmudgeonly gadget head, I am frequently of two minds at conferences—reviling the bandwagon of trendiness, yet enthralled by the the siren call of bright, shiny new tech. Ultimately, I found myself stranded on the shores of technolust writhing among the other waylaid sailors waiting for my heart to be rent by the harpie of high prices as we listened to the dulcet sounds of Leslie Fisher’s descriptions of new and novel apparatuses that do everything from translating sign language into speech to introducing music via coding. Although Fisher looked nothing like Gene Wilder as the infamous chocolatier, she, too, seemed to encourage us to follow her into a world of pure imagination where what we’d see would, indeed, defy explanation. A complete listing of the new chocolate factory wonders is available via the presenter’s web site at

The northbound MetroRail isn’t so crowded, and emits a useful complimentary wifi. These conveniences allowed me to continue enjoying the unprogrammed lifeblood of any good conference: the casual, Twitter-mediated networking that pervades the time between sessions and the lulls during them. The chance to relieve a bit of esprit d’escalier with presenters I saw, check out presenters I missed, and connect with other attendees who had the good questions & connections is an easy way to lock in the experience of a satisfying conference that has plenty of replay value.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen, #1)

Image from RRHS Catalog

A young thief's world is divided by the color of her blood. Those with silver blood have supernatural powers and rule the world. Those with red blood are considered inferior by the silver elite. Mare Barrow steals what she can to help her family survive. She is caught up in a series of tragic events while trying to help a friend. Mare finds herself in grave danger when it is discovered that she is different from other Reds. She has a power she doesn't understand and the Silvers fear. This book is very good; I enjoyed discovering how Mare learns about her world, her powers, and how she struggles to change how the Reds are treated. You would like this book if you like… fantasy or science fiction as it is a superhero type of story set in the future.

- Michael, RRHS Staff

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: Laughing at my Nightmare by Shane Burcaw

Cover from RRHS Catalog

Shane is a boy who has been in a wheel chair since the age of two. To function in his everyday life, he has to rely on others to help him do the simple tasks that other people take for granted. Shane shows his optimistic outlook on his life that is getting cut short. This book is one that I highly recommend if you want a personal perspective comedy. Personally, I like the way the writer interacts with the reader throughout the book. Its not your typical perspective of one that has a terminal disease. You would like this book if you like… books such as The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Me Before You By Jojo Moyes.

- Vanessa Garza, RRHS Student

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review: Love. Volume 2, The Fox by Federico Bertolucci

Image from RRHS Catalog

This graphic novel follows a fox as she hunts for food on an island filled with numerous other animals and a smoking volcano. I absolutely recommend this book to others; it fully utilizes the beautiful art work within the novel to tell a story with out words. You would love the book if you like graphic novels about animals or if you like graphic novels in general.

- Nathaniel, RRHS Student

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review: World War Z by Max Brook

Image from the RRHS Catalog

Max Books does a monstrous job as he recounts all the horrific events before, during, and after the events of  WWZ. As he travels all over the world gathering stories of the war, you learn all the different affects and effects of each and every country that suffered. You would like this book if you like… books about zombies.

- Gus, RRHS Student