Children’s Book Review: Miss Smith Reads Again

Garland, Micheal. (2006). Miss Smith reads again. Dutton Children’s Books.

In Miss Smith Reads Again, Zack’s teacher returns with her magic storybook to read The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When she begins reading the tale- POOF! The class is transported into the realm of dinosaurs. Read about the adventure they experience and learn about the joyful magic and power of reading. The book’s bold and colorful images coupled with the imaginative and informative plot line will appeal to children of all ages.  


“A fun-filled literary adventure.” —School Library Journal

“Readers will enjoy predicting what the next day’s story line will include. Garland’s bright art style is unusual enough to reinforce the fantastic nature of the story line. The apparently computer generated art seems to be a mixture of paper cutting and collage techniques combined with some dreamy backgrounds done in water color”- Children’s Literature

Learn about the author/illustrator Michael Garland!

In his own words: “I spent my childhood roaming the woods, playing sports, crossing the street without looking both ways and drawing. Drawing was the thing I did best. In school, when they passed out the paper and crayons, it was my day to shine….I started to think I might become an artist. After high school, I went Pratt Institute to study art. Soon after graduating, I sold my first illustration to True Confessions magazine. I was on my way; the beginning of a thirty-two year career illustrating everything you could imagine (Michael Garland Picture Books, 2006)”.

Indeed, Garland has had an impressive career as the illustrator of more than 50 children’s books (and counting!). His enchanting illustrations have garnered numerous awards, including two Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators. Today, he lives in New York with his wife and three children. You can visit him online at

Enjoyed this story? Check out the prequel to Miss Smith Reads Again, entitled Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook (2005).  Also watch for the newest title in the series due out fall 2010!

WIN Summer Reads from

Click here to WIN this summer’s best beach reads!

I will be adding some of these titles to my summer reading list. I am especially curious to read The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares (author of the Travelling Pants series).

Media Awareness

As the school year comes to a close, it is likely that children and youth will be spending more time online.  Although the Internet provides many benefits (including the opportunity to access learning material and games), many dangers remain for children.  Such dangers include: cyber-bulling, Internet porn, online predators, identity theft, scams, and hatred.

Since much of their time spent online is unsupervised, it is important for parents and educators to teach youth to be media aware. Media awareness, otherwise known as media literacy is an essential component that allows individuals to interpret and make informed decisions as users of information and media.  Living in a digital society, even children and youth need to be able to use, understand, inquire, create, communicate and think critically about media.

Under ‘Information for Parents’ the Ottawa Public Library also recognizes the need for media safety and states, “Every child who registers for Bopl’s Book Club must first listen to Bopl’s web safety talk. We have taken children’s safety very seriously in designing this website”. OPL ensures that all comments are reviewed by staff before put on the site, and encourages parents to visit the Media Awareness Network.

The OPL has many books, videos and other resources to increase your media awareness, including:

Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online
Anastasia Goodstein

 E-Parenting: Keeping Up With Your Tech-Savvy Kids
Sharon Cindrich

 Useful Websites…

Media Awareness Network
Resources and support for everyone interested in media and information literacy for young people.

Be Web Aware
A Canadian education program to help children go online safely.  Includes information for parents to manage Internet use.

Learning Francais…

Bonjour mes amis!

In an attempt to improve my French language skills, I have tried just about everything. Studying books, listening to audiobooks, french radio and television, the Rosetta Stone program, and most recently, Mango. What is Mango, you ask? According to their website, “Mango Languages is an online language-learning system teaching actual conversation skills for a wide variety of languages”.  Now here is the best part…. IT’S ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!  This database can be accessed by most public libraries, including the OPL. Using your library card you can register for your account, so that Mango is able to track your progress, and even record the time you spent studying.  The program itself is presented in slides (like a powerpoint presentation), with a natural articulate speaker reading them.  You can replay, skip ahead, or bookmark your favourite slides.  I liked that with every new lesson, you quickly repeat the important information learned from the previous lesson.  The program tests your knowledge by asking, ” do you remember how to say……?” and includes real life conversations you would participate in.  Overal, Mango Languages is hands-down the best language learning program I have ever used.  GET LEARNING!


This entry relates to how technology is changing the way we read books. Before I continue, I have to admit that I feel uneasy about calling listening to an audiobook “reading”. This is because the individual does not actually read the text, but listens to the text being read by someone else. So, for the remainder of this entry, I will refer to engaging with an audiobook as listening, rather than reading.

When choosing my audiobook, I returned to the online website of my home library (the Ottawa Public Library) as I knew of their wide range of genres for downloadable audiobooks. Even since last summer, it is evident that their digital media catalogue had grown considerably. The OPL has set up sections, including: what’s new, recently returned, popular titles, and Canadian authors. 

Today, most libraries allow for accessibility of audiobooks through a range of formats, including: CDs, cassette tapes, and downloadable digital formats (MP3). Audiobooks come in fully dramatized versions of the printed books, sometimes utilizing a complete cast, music and sound effects. I prefer no extra sound effects, as it often distracts me from the text. 

I choose to listen to the title ‘All Audio French” which taught the listener beginner lessons in French. I have tried to learn French via textbooks, but found this fun and interactive audiobook more effective. I especially enjoyed the tests sections after every lesson, where the speaker would ask you to give the corresponding word back in French and vice versa. I felt like I had my very own tutor!  Second, I used this audiobook while travelling and not only did it make the time go by faster, but I actually learned words and sentences by the time I reached my destination. Indeed, it would be dangerous to read an actual book while driving, but audiobooks open up new possibilities for the written word. However, I have learned that some genres and titles are better for multitasking.  Engaging in exercise or doing housework while listening to an audiobook may prove distracting. Engaging in other activities may take away some of your focus from the audiobook causing the individual to miss some important key parts of the book. 

Overall, I find it is easier to focus on the story when the book is physically in your hands. Many other individuals may find this true too, especially seniors who may feel intimidated by this new form of ‘reading’.Yet, in my opinion the advantages of audiobooks (especially in MP3 format) outweigh the disadvantages especially for libraries.  Audiobooks in MP3 format are much cheaper than other audio book methods, they occupy no physical space, and their quality is superb. Thus, knowing about this popular “reading” option is important to provide assistance to a growing number of patrons who utilize various formats of audiobooks.  Not only are audiobooks useful for all of the reasons mentioned above, but they are also useful for people who do not enjoy reading, or who experience trouble reading.

‘In Transit’

Hello, my soon-to-be faithful blog readers!

I must admit, this is my second attempt at a blog. A few close friends and I decided to blog about our everyday normal (or not so normal) life experiences as a way to keep in touch. Although it’s been years since any of us have updated our blogs, it’s sometimes funny to know that your old life is documented ‘somewhere out there’ in cyberspace.

However, as a recent Child & Youth studies &  Masters of Library and Information Science grad, this blog has an entirely different purpose than my last. Here (with possible rants and raves) you will find my reviews of books I’ve read, interesting library related articles,information, facts, and so on. Although I always knew what my blog would be about, selecting a blog title proved more difficult. Finally, I came up with ‘In transit’. Unfortunately, that title was already taken, so I decided on ‘Books in transit’. I liked the concept of ‘in transit’ as it not only relates to libraries, but my life in general. As a young professional, I have not yet decided on any of the major decisions in my life. The only thing I know for sure is that I am meant to be a Children’s/Youth Librarian and will stop at nothing to ensure that this becomes a possibility.

Please feel free to leave feedback, comment, questions, concerns! 🙂

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