Monday, October 31, 2011

Alabama Virtual Library: Biography Reference Bank

One of the most useful AVL resources for students is the Biography Reference Bank. They can search for the names of historically significant or famous individuals related to a learning activity (each grade's social studies course of study is chock full of "famous people"), and can also perform as advanced or as basic a search as their needs and abilities require. Older students can define search parameters such as a person's year of birth, place of origin, date of death, and even the person's profession or activity of merit. These advanced search options provide students with experience in utilizing unique reference sources.

There are "Featured Biographies" each day that students can peruse to discover more unique, significant, and  interesting people as well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Library Fun for the Littles

We elementary school librarians are always on the lookout for fun, cutesy activities that are engaging to our young readers. Here are a few ideas I have gleaned from Pinterest recently that I hope to do with my students this year:

Story Art

Musical Books

Leaf Glitter (perfect for Lois Ehlert's Leaf Man book)

Name Skeletons 

Clipboard Organization and Storage

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Alabama Virtual Library

Alabama's education budgets have suffered considerably in recent years, but thankfully we still have access to the Alabama Virtual Library. This incredibly powerful tool provides equitable access for all Alabamians to quality resources and information. 

Remember the days when you were assigned those little blue AVL cards with the crazy user names and passwords? Thank goodness, those days are behind us! Now we have the benefit of geo-caching, which authenticates that a computer is in the state of Alabama and therefore grants access to the databases without requiring signing in. 

Now, if you still have some of those blue AVL cards, don't throw them away!!! Repurpose them as bookmarks or bulletin board decorations. 

If you need AVL bookmarks or mouse pads, simply ask and you shall receive! Contact the AVL helpdesk from the AVL's home page, and let them know how many you need. 

*We should all keep in mind that the Alabama Virtual Library's resources have already been cut many times. Usage statistics (broken down by district and sometimes even by school) are major players when the committee has to have the hard discussions over what to cut, so remember that the most important way we can preserve the AVL is to USE it! :)

There are database-specific posts with usage tips on the way. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Read 100,000

Looking for ways to increase reading scores? We can tell students to read all day, everyday, but Scholastic has created a neat tool to add some novelty to keeping up with reading minutes that kids will love! The program is called Read 100,000, and will allow kids to be a part of a Worldwide Record-Breaking reading team this summer. Here is how it works:

The school librarian sets up an account on the Scholastic website by registering your school to participate. Then students will be able to register their minutes by logging in to the "kids" sign in area. They create a username by "spinning the wheel!" One bonus of signing up for the program during the school year is that students will be accustomed to signing in to the site when summer starts. Then they can help read for a World Record. That way, all you have to tell them for a summer reading program is to continue using their Read 100,000 account. (There are other options for registering large numbers of students at once).

Reading logs, flyers, and sign up information are all located in the resources section of the webpage as are bookmarks and a certificate of achievement.

One nifty feature is the Reading Calculator which - no surprise here - adds up the minutes of reading for the individual student or the whole school. The point is to get the whole school to read 100,000 minutes.

Here's an example:

200 Students
x Reading 30 minutes a day
x 180 Days

That equals 108,000 minutes! There is no end to the mathematical calculations that can be done!

Now, all you have to do is meet with your language arts colleagues and plan a time for students to register on the site. My school is doing it during their Book Fair time. While some students browse, I will have others signing up for the program. The program runs through April 2012.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alabama School Libraries Week

The Alabama School Library Association works tirelessly on behalf of school librarians in our state. One of the newest efforts established by ASLA is Alabama School Libraries Week. This year ASLW is November 14-18th, and marks the third annual celebration of school libraries in our state. Alabama School Libraries Week helps us direct some much-needed focus on the wonderful programs we have established in our libraries. It is also an incredible opportunity for advocacy. 

How can you use ASLW to advocate for your library? 

2. Plan special activities to highlight the library. Invite a guest reader from your district's central office. Give out temporary tattoos for QR codes that link to your OPAC, website, wiki, or blog. Hold participation contests where you draw for door prizes of everyone who checks out a book on a certain day. Write newspaper articles about your school library and send it to the local media. There is a more comprehensive list available on the ASLA site. 
3. Use the postcards (printables on the ASLA site) to let students write notes to your legislators or central office staff giving your school library a shout-out. Let their powerful little voices be heard! 
4. Make a "Why I Love My Library" bulletin board for students to add their comments.

 Don't put it off...start planning your ASLW activities TODAY! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Alabama Library Media Online

Have you used your ALMO today?

ALMO is our pet name for the state department's webpage for Alabama school librarians. It's filled with pictures of Alabama school librarians in action and ways to hone your skills.

Check the First Friday page (under Professional Development) for a list of upcoming sessions and topics.

The Publications page will give you links to all official state documents for school librarians, as well as archived sessions from past First Fridays.

Check the Library Happenings page for everything from Alabama School Library Week (coming up November 14-18!) to photographs of new libraries being constructed around the state. If you are in a school with a newly constructed library, please send pictures to the state department to have your school featured on this page!

The Resources page is also filled with information that is specifically tailored to our needs in Alabama. It is being updated often, so be sure to share any tips or suggestions with the state department.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pinterest for Librarians

Pinterest is growing a name for itself in the world of education. A visual social bookmarking tool, it was once used mostly for DIY project ideas and home decor. 

We teachers, however, have a superpower of making things fit to suit our needs. In the past several months, I've noticed an explosion of educators using Pinterest to share and glean ideas that help with teaching strategies, classroom/library organization, and creative lesson ideas and printables. I've seen everything from bulletin boards to anchor charts posted on Pinterest, and the teachers are gobbling it up. So much that in the most recent update (a few weeks ago), Pinterest added a specific category just for education. Pretty nifty. 

Are you new to Pinterest? Here are a few basics...
1. Before you do anything, you must have an account. You can go to Pinterest and request an invite, OR I can send you an invite. Email me at mwilson518 at gmail for an invite or leave a comment and I'll send you one. 

To complete login, you have to click on a link Pinterest emails you and then log in with your Facebook or Twitter information. The point of this is that Pinterest wants to connect you with people you know who are already using Pinterest. 

2. How does it work? Pinterest is a visual bookmarking tool. I've also heard it referred to as a social catalog. You see something you like, and you "pin" it (which means saving it for later). To pin something, you categorize it to a "pinboard." You can use the defaults or you can change the names of your boards to suit your needs. You can add or delete pinboards as your heart so desires. That explains the catalog part. The social part of it is that you are viewing other people's pins and other people's pinboards on Pinterest (Yes, there is an app for that!)

3. Once you get your pinboards like you like them, start pinning things. If you are using Pinterest from your computer, you can click on "About" and go down to the "Pin It Button" page. This helps you install a bookmarklet that helps you pin things you see from elsewhere on the internet (as long as there is an image and a website associated with it, you can pin it.)

4. You can leave the pin descriptions as they are or you can edit them to suit your needs. What librarians love about Pinterest is that the nature of the tool is sharing resources, but it is impossible to do so without connecting the image to its original source (read: CITATION). As a matter of fact, Pinterest is pretty serious about copyright violation. Here's a glimpse at their policy:

5. So, with all this awesomeness...what's not to love?

Well, a word of caution...

*Pinterest is social in nature and you must understand that if you choose to peruse the entire Pinterest catalog, there may be pins you come across with offensive language or perhaps a tad more skin than you want to see. Therefore, this is not a tool for students. This is not a tool to use in plain sight of students (ex: do not browse on your projected desktop). Pinterest is an INCREDIBLY useful resource for teachers and use it wisely.

I showed Pinterest to some of the classroom teachers at my school and they have loved it. It gives them access to so many resources to use with their students, and our hallway displays prove just how creative some of their Pinterest ideas are. If you'd like to complete a training with your teachers, feel free to use my handout. 

6. Just one more thing! :) There are librarians on Pinterest whose pinboards you may want to follow. Here are a few to get you started:

Sharon Matney
Jessi Peterson
Elizabeth Eastman
Yours Truly

7. And yes, guys, Pinterest users seem to be mainly chicks. :) Don't let that scare you away, though!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Screen Recording Tools

Pinterest is one of the newest places to find creative ideas for lessons, teaching strategies, and classroom organization. I have a post in the works about Pinterest, coming to a browser near you very soon! 

Pinterest is also a place to find a bit of humor here and there. I  present to you, Exhibit A:

Like many of you, I have had this very conversation not only with my mother, but also with some of the tech-aphobic teachers with whom I've worked over the years. Advocating for technology integration is every bit as much about coaching and mentoring as it is providing exposure to new tools and resources. My standard phrase with teachers who are terrified of their computers is: You know way more than you think you do.

For those who really need that extra push to becoming confident using technology with their students, you may want to consider using a screen recording tool to provide them with short tech-support snippets or tutorials. Once you select a screen recording tool, you download the program to your computer and follow the simple instructions for capturing either images on your screen or recording a video of you manipulating and navigating content on your computer screen. You can even activate audio so that you can verbally coach users through the process. These pre-recorded "screencasts" can serve as a living anchor chart to which teachers can refer back later for assistance with computer-based activities.

Screen recording tools are incredibly powerful for visual learners. After all, telling someone how to do something is one thing, but showing them how is another!

Here is a very short example of a VERY basic screencast I've taken using Jing.

Screen recorders aren't just for tech support, either! You can also use them to record ways to access a database, or steps to take to retrieve citation information for a source. Because the screencasts generate a URL, you can post them anywhere from your OPAC to your wiki.

Teachers can utilize screencasting for students who are absent, or for unique tutorials to support English Learners. What other ways can you use/have you used screen recorders in the library?

Here are a few screen recorder tools...happy screencasting!

Community Clips



Just one more funny from Pinterest...

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Ever heard of HeLa cells? Want to recommend a book to discuss medical ethics in a high school English, Social Studies, or Science class? Here's a great one to start with - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (how did I miss it?). I pulled the review from Titlewave:

Library Journal (December 1, 2009)

This distinctive work skillfully puts a human face on the bioethical questions surrounding the HeLa cell line. Henrietta Lacks, an African American mother of five, was undergoing treatment for cancer at Johns Hopkins University in 1951 when tissue samples were removed without her knowledge or permission and used to create HeLa, the first "immortal" cell line. HeLa has been sold around the world and used in countless medical research applications, including the development of the polio vaccine. Science writer Skloot, who worked on this book for ten years, entwines Lacks's biography, the development of the HeLa cell line, and her own story of building a relationship with Lacks's children. Full of dialog and vivid detail, this reads like a novel, but the science behind the story is also deftly handled. Verdict While there are other titles on this controversy (e.g., Michael Gold's A Conspiracy of Cells: One Woman's Immortal Legacy-and the Medical Scandal It Caused), this is the most compelling account for general readers, especially those interested in questions of medical research ethics. Highly recommended. [See Skloot's essay, p. 126; Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/09.]-Carla Lee, Univ. of Virginia Lib., Charlottesville Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

The Young Reader's Edition is slated to be out this month. When I first read a review of this book, I thought it was such an abomination. I can only imagine discussing the subject with teens and how deeply offended they would be for the family of Henrietta Lacks. It would, in fact, make a great book club book and perhaps a service project for raising money for the Henrietta Lacks Foundation. The Foundation raises money for college tuition and various needs of her descendants. If this story couldn't spark a book club to life, I truly don't know what could.

What other books have begun as adult books and a young adult version has been published?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Publishing Student Books

Teaching young children about authors and illustrators through author studies or author adventures is good. Letting them become authors and illustrators is powerful!

In my first year as a classroom teacher (so many moons ago!) publishing student books meant having students use crayons/markers/colored pencils to draw out the illustrations and hand-write the content for each page, then physically binding them with either tape, metal clip rings, or those plastic comb things that tended to pop up in your face if you didn't get them positioned juuuust right. :)

Not that that isn't also a good option for publishing student work today!!! After all, the authorship process is basically the same no matter what tool you use. At the end of the day, publishing is publishing.


There are a few of the many services available that can take some of that labor off your hands and also provide your students with a polished, professionally-bound copy of their work that they would truly cherish for years to come. These are listed in no particular order, and no one is receiving any compensation whatsoever for their mention. They seem very useful resources  for use in a collaborative lesson in with classroom teachers or as an ongoing project in the computer lab. They will have their own respective planning tools to use in creating student work, as will be the payment process. Talk to your local school officials and financial record keepers about how to make these work for you!

Student Publishing

Student Treasures



Creative Memories


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going Mobile

It's no secret that mobile technology is revolutionizing society. Through apps and simple encoding updates, companies are taking mainstream web content and converting it to mobile-friendly format.


There are many schools of thought on this issue. The technology is less expensive and growing in prominence. Think about it. How many people do you know personally who had an iPhone/Droid/Blackberry or other "smart" device a few years ago? How many more have those devices today?

As librarians we really need to embrace this mobile technology revolution. Even in the most impoverished communities, many parents still have access to iPhones or other smart devices because they are available at an affordable cost. The reality for many of my students is that though they may not have a personal computer at home, they do have access to the internet through mobile devices.

One of the most important ways we can bridge the Digital Divide today is to make sure that all of our web-based library resources are enabled for mobile access. 

Is your OPAC mobile-friendly? If not, submit a request to the software company to include mobile capability in their next update. For some companies, this may mean devising an application to be downloaded through the respective app markets for mobile devices. For others, this may simply mean updating the encoding to detect mobile access (yes, they can detect everything from what operating system you are on to what web browser you are using) and adjusting sizing to fit the mobile screen.

Recently our very own Alabama Virtual Library updated its encoding for mobile-friendly use. This is a prime example of making every effort to enable equitable access to materials. My prediction is that the AVL's usage statistics for the mobile operating system will skyrocket!

Using the Overdrive iPhone app, Jefferson County Library Cooperative users can download audiobooks from the system's collection. JCLC patrons can also check out books for their Kindle or other mobile reading device.

How much more likely are you to use a web resource on your phone if everything fits the screen nicely and is easy to use, or if it's one where you have to scroll back and forth and up and down and you mistype because the data entry screens are too small (then too large, then too small...ugh!).

QR (quick response) codes are one of the fastest growing tools utilizing mobile technology.

Here are other resources on mobile technology in school libraries:

Library in Your Pocket

Mobile Libraries

Are our school libraries mobile?

Mobile technology is changing the relationship between libraries and their users...

So, what do you say? How is your library MOBILE?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Jeff Kinney)

My students are obsessed with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. At no less than 5 requests every single day, these items are hot commodities in my school library. At the end of the year I was finally able to wrangle the first installment to see for myself just what all the fuss is about.

The very first observation I had about this book was that Greg Heffley is a little jerk. He's narcissistic, rude to his parents, completely self-absorbed, and the most inconsiderate, selfish "friend" any kid could ever have. But, you know what? A lot of upper elementary/middle school boys are just like Greg Heffley. I suppose at the end of the say, it's all a part of their emotional development and that they are who they are at this stage for a reason. Still. He might be funny, but he's still a little tool.

And he is most definitely funny. Greg Heffley makes some pretty witty observations about the social order in schools that I think most educators and maybe even parents miss out on. There is a tinge of a "bully or be bullied" theme which I definitely believe is part of the under-the-table social interactions between students. Another observation I have is that the books are 5th grade level readers, which I think is overestimating a bit. These books are not exactly solid 5th grade level material. There are illustrative comics interspersed throughout, which make it even more popular with kids. These kiddos do love their graphic novels (sigh)...

Overall, it's a good set to have in the school library. As for me, I'm done with you, Greg Heffley. But I like that my kids like you, so maybe you were worth my time after all.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot)

Ever heard of something called HeLa cells? Yeah, umm, me either...not until a few months ago, anyway.

HeLa is a building block of cell science and a cornerstone of modern medical research. Among numerous other very interesting uses, HeLa cells were used in the first space missions to test the effects of space on human cells, they were used in nuclear experiments, and they were (and still are) used to develop important vaccines, chemotherapies, and radiation treatments that have and continue to save millions of human lives. HeLa is widely known in the medical science community as one of the most important tools in the development of modern medicine. The purchase and sale of HeLa cells for the purpose of medical research over time likely numbers somewhere in the billions.

This book goes into painstaking detail about the relevance of HeLa cells in the existence of mankind, but its primary purpose is to shed some light on how HeLa came to be...which went a little something like this:

Once upon a time there was a woman, a wife and mother to several children. She suffered several medical ailments on and off in her life, but one day she became very ill and was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The doctor treated her with radiation, but the cancer spread and in her very early thirties this young woman died. After her death, cells were removed from her body and used in an experiment of cell division. Unlike any other cell in that experiment, this woman's cells kept dividing. And kept dividing. And kept dividing. And even unto this very day, they are still continuing to divide. Because of this unique type of cell division and multiplication, the woman's cells were extremely valuable for a multitude of research purposes. The woman's name was Henrietta Lacks. Likely because it was the 1950's and even more likely because Henrietta Lacks was a black woman, her family was never informed of the cultivation of her cells for research and certainly not informed of their value. Today, Henrietta's family is trapped between an expired statute of limitations on the several infringements committed toward them and an understandable inability to trust anyone in the legal or medical communities after a lifetime of  betrayals they have experienced. They have lived 60 years of intense frustration, and no one in the Lacks family has lived happily ever after. 

What a sad, sad story. Henrietta Lacks left a legacy that has transformed medical science, yet her own children stated at one point that they were so poor that they couldn't even afford health insurance.

Somehow the author of this book won the trust of the Lacks family and was therefore able to put together this very comprehensive tale of Henrietta's life and background, her medical treatments, and the process of the discovery and subsequent uses of HeLa cells. It is incredibly thorough and in the author's own words was extensively fact-checked.

The thoughts that continued to run through my mind while trudging through the bits of cellular science history were that the real untold story here is that this family has been exploited in ways unimaginable. Their disadvantages due to poverty and race (at that time) made them easy prey for the people who they should have been able to trust: the doctors. What has been done to the Lacks family is positively inexcusable, and why no reparations have been made to Henrietta's descendants is beyond me.

In addition to her cells' contributions to science, the controversy surrounding Henrietta's family's experience has led to a revolution in the way patients are required to be informed and to give consent for their treatments or for bits removed from their bodies. What you and I take for granted in that stack of release, privacy, and consent forms we fill out at the doc's office or for pre-operative processing, Henrietta was never given the opportunity to consider. You can thank Henrietta Lacks for her seemingly ceaseless contributions to science, but you can also thank her for your right today as a patient to be informed and to give consent to procedures that involve your body and what is removed from it. And we can all thank Rebecca Skloot for telling Henrietta's story.

*The author used a portion of her earnings from sale of her book to establish the Henrietta Lacks Foundation, which is a foundation that provides scholarships and grants for descendants of Henrietta Lacks as well as descendants of other research subjects (ex: the Tuskegee experiments). Learn more about that here:

For more about the author and Henrietta's story, go to

Friday, October 7, 2011

Resources on the ASLA Website

Do you ever check out the Alabama School Library Association website? (

If you missed the ASLA Twitter chat session, then there are some resources listed on the site that you might like to try out!

Diane Quirk, a participant, and others mentioned several tools of the trade:

  • Popplet - a site for brainstorming ideas
  • Noterize - an App for combining typed text, written text, and audio
  • - presentation tool
  • - also for creating slide shows
The next Twitter chat session will take place Tuesday, November 1, at 7 p.m. CT

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Turning the Page...with AASL

AASL's National Conference theme is Turning the Page (photo credit: As I reflect on Turning the Page on my own career, I think of the new activities I have done so far this year and my own hopes and dreams for the future. Skype with an author. Check. (Really! It was the most fun thing in the world for the 6th grade class who spoke with Jennifer Nielsen, author of Elliott and the Pixie Plot (photo at left courtesy of Jennifer Nielsen's website).

She loved them as much as they loved her). Write a blog entry. Check. Stretch my Book Fair dollars with an online fair and promote online Wish Lists for teachers. Check.

But how else can I work to Turn the Page on my own career? I plan on doing more of the same, but I also want to stretch my horizons by reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, AASL's keynote speaker and author of the all-conference book. Click here to see an interview posted on AASL's website. I want to do all of the things listed on this blog: read the fantastic ideas posted by school librarians and experts in the field to glean new ideas, plan to attend as many conferences as possible (This year's ALLA will be in Birmingham in April and a school librarian is at the helm: Steven Yates, Mountain Brook High School librarian. What does he have in store for school librarians?), and lastly try out all the new tech ideas listed on the AASL website.

One more idea that all of us can do to Turn the Page, if not attending the AASL National Conference, is register for the AASL virtual conference. Register online by 4 p.m. on October 26. Registration for AASL members is $99.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy Trails to You!

*Today's post was written by Marcia Amason, one of the librarians at Shades Valley High School/JCIB. 

As librarians it is part of our job to make sure that students are equipped with the skills to research, evaluate, gather, communicate, and manage information.   Even though we spend much time teaching these necessary skills, we are not always aware if our students have mastered them or not.  So, when I read an article by Patricia L. Owen in the May/June 2010 issue of Library Media Connection about the assessment tool, Trails-9, I was delighted to find there is a valuable tool that provides precise evidence of student learning and achievement of information literacy skills.

TRAILS – 9 (Tools for Real-Time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) is a standards-driven information literacy test based on 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th grade standards and provides evidence of student learning of the information literacy skills. The assessment items are based on Ohio Academic Content Standards and the American Association of School Librarians' Information Power and Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. It is available free online and easy to access.  You can set up as many test sessions as needed and all student scores are password protected.   

“Why do Trails?
First, TRAILS-9 quickly captures a large amount of information about student learning.  By including questions in five areas of information literacy skills, you can get a thorough picture of student skill weaknesses and strengths.  Second, TRAILS-9 can be used for pre- and post-testing of students such as measuring differences in student learning from freshman year to graduation.  Third, the report module in TRAILS-9 provides easy access to student scores, both individually and as a group” (Owen 36).

At our school we are now using TRAILS with our Freshman Studies 9th grade classes.   Through the test results, which are generated in graph form, we are able to easily assess student learning, revise our information literacy instruction, and produce evidence of our library’s impact on student achievement. 

The website is

Remember, it is FREE!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Skyping and Webcasts: Some of the Benefits of Professional Magazines and Memberships in Professional Organizations

A fellow librarian, with just enough wiggle room within her budget for one professional publication, asked about the cost versus the benefit of professional magazine subscriptions. First, whether it's School Library Journal, Library Media Connection, or Booklist, they are all beneficial (please add more in the comment section). Occasionally, there are webcasts offered that involve no subscription at all. One thing's for sure: the publications all fit the budget just right with their free Skype offerings and Webcasts!

  • As a subscriber to School Library Journal there's still an opportunity to join a free live webcast event on October 13 from 1:15 to 2:00. Students can submit questions to James Patterson, author of Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, about writing, middle school, or anything they can think of.

  • Sometimes a publisher will offer a Skype event with an author. Sourcebooks recently did with author Jennifer Nielsen's Elliott and the Pixie Plot. Go ahead and download Skype to your computer to be prepared when an opportunity comes along. Sometimes free books are even thrown in.

  • Scholastic and Dear America are teaming up for a webcast with Lois Lowry, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Kirby Larsen on October 26 at 12 p.m. central time. Create a login at Scholastic and join the event (Scholastic is free, of course, but there are many professional resources here).

The big difference between Skyping and Webcasts is that Skyping can work with smaller audiences because more dialogue can take place (individuals can step up to the camera and speak; webcasts aren't usually set up that way). Also, a live stream of video is seen. Webcasts can accomodate a larger audience and multiple viewing areas. Skype allows up to three additional parties in different viewing areas that can be invited to join in on the video chat.

Almost all publications have a smaller free online version available for subscribing to, so look them up, log in and be ready scoop up information. It's there for the taking!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Review: Horseradish (Lemony Snicket)

Lemony Snicket (which I think is a pseudonym for Daniel Handler, and a writer who I find fabulously entertaining) is best known for his authorship of the Series of Unfortunate Events. I have a few books left to complete the series, but I know enough about them to know that A) Lemony Snicket is hilarious, and B) this series in particular is most delicious when consumed audibly.

Horseradish is a collection of maxims that are categorized by applicable areas of life (as Lemony Snicket sees them), including Home, Family, Literature, A Life of Mystery, the Mystery of Life, and An Overall Feeling of Doom that One Cannot Ever Escape No Matter What One Does, etc. There are some adages that are of a more serious nature, and others which seem serious but end silly. And then there are those that start silly and end serious. Something for everyone, you see.

Just a few of my favorites:

"No matter who you are, no matter where you live, and no matter how many people are chasing you, what you don't read is often as important as what you do read."

"A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late to read them."

"A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded."

"Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby - awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess."

"Just about everything in this world is easier said than done, with the exception of "systematically assisting Sisyphus's stealthy, cyst-susceptible sister," which is easier done than said."

Easily consumed in one sitting, Horseradish is sarcasm at its best.