I’d rather bring out the Princess Within my Teen than the Drama Queen

Princess WithinTitle: The Princess Within for Teens
Author: Serita Ann Jakes
Genre: YA Nonfiction
I requested this book from the publisher and was thrilled to receive it.

This title caught my eye. As the mother of a tween, I’m always looking for tools to assist me in guiding her on this life journey. You all know I’m a librarian and she’s an avid reader. This makes books a great tool. We’ve found that it’s easier for us to discuss the actions of characters or people in the book then direct personal statements. Maybe I’m avoiding conflict or eye rolling… I choose to believe I’m being resourceful. So there. Given that, I selected this title because of the description from Amazon:

Girls of all ages want to feel like Cinderella at the ball. But maybe you feel more like Cinderella beforethe ball–overlooked, inadequate, hurting, maybe even used and abused. Sometimes it’s hard to feel beautiful, in God’s eyes or your own, when something or someone has robbed you of your inner beauty.

Serita Ann Jakes understands those feelings. She knows how past failures and present hurts can prevent you from realizing your true identity in Jesus Christ. She has helped hundreds of girls work through personal struggles, and now she wants to help you. Whether you’re struggling with poor self-esteem, difficult friendships, family problems, secret shame, or something else, above all, she wants you to know, you are a princess! The daughter of a King!


Well, this is in keeping with our belief system so I thought I’d give it a try. I’ll be honest, the author totally flew over my head. I was so excited about the book that I didn’t pay any mind to the author. When I received the book and saw that Serita Ann Jakes wrote the book, I was excited. I expected current and dynamic. I can certainly attest that she delivered on this.

The book has 17 chapters. Each chapter covers a different topic. This arrangement makes this a great resource for the tough topics. No need to assign the reading for cover to cover if you are in a crisis situation right now, just flip to your particular challenge and drive forward. Each chapter includes a modern day verse of fairy tale, a current playlist, a narrative of this particular challenge in real life, a teaching with real life application of the Word, and a prompt to consider this application within the teen’s own life. Some chapters also include additional activities such as quizzes to aid girls in some self discovery.

What I liked about the book: The book is current. The playlist contains current artists and some classics. Current real life challenges are addressed such as social media. Jakes bares all in an effort to be true to the needs of young women. This honesty creates a book that isn’t preachy or authoritative. Instead Jakes is approachable and leads from a been-there-done-that perspective that would rarely be accepted from a parent but always from a ‘cool’ aunt.

What didn’t work for me: The obvious answer is that my daughter is a tween. The content of this book is beyond her level, more on that in a moment. But due to the current focus of this book, I’m concerned it would lose it’s appeal to my daughter by the time she’s ready for the content. To be clear, I think the topics will all still be relevant. But in 5 or 6 years, a teen might think that the older songs are an excuse to think the views are outdated. This book is the book that you buy now and give to a teen who needs it now.

Now about that content, Jakes pulls no punches. The first chapter opens with physical abuse and a gun to her head. Talk about jumping right in – to what felt like a shock of cold water to me! But this book isn’t written for me. It’s written for teens who might think grown ups don’t get it. Jakes makes it clear she does.

The only thing that really didn’t work for me was the unpredictability of the chapters. Sometimes I thought I knew right where she was going and felt led astray. For example in Chapter 2, Jakes talks about being the only one not invited to the party. We’ve all had the experience and in fact we just had that here not too long ago. Instead of a discussion about feeling left out, the chapter veered to body image issues. I think it’s safe to say, being left out of the party has happened to all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re thin, thick, or anywhere in between you need to learn to cope with sometimes being on the outside looking in. Let’s not blame that on weight, it’s just life. I didn’t see that turn in the road and felt led astray.

Recommendations: Given the direct delivery of sensitive content such as sexual activity, this book is best aimed at teens who are 16 or above. Although if you have a 14 or 15 year old who is veering off course a bit, this book might deliver the wake up call needed before they get in too deep. But all of us, teen or adult need to read Chapter 14, Where Did the Time Go about hurry-itis.

I am opting not to hang on to this book due to the timeliness issues I stated previously. But I believe in the message and believe it will be well received by the Young Adults in my urban library system. Therefore, I’m turning it over to our Collection Development Librarian for consideration for it to be added to the collection.

What are your book recommendations for teen girls coping with life?


Week in Review: July 4th edition

Outreach, Business Services, Budgets. This week has had it all! Here’s my wrap up:

After a bit of a struggle, I’ve figured out how to download this video:

Community Spotlight – Henry Co. Library System from SCB TV 15 on Vimeo.

to archive for future use on my digital portfolio :) Yay me. I know it’s completely minor for most of you but I’ve had some pretty big fish to fry lately. If you want to see me – I’m the second half of the Library duo.

Other notables of the week:

I received The Princess Within for Teens: Discovering Your Royal Inheritance by Serita Ann Jakes for review. Bonus :)

I am working my way through editing book review submissions for Georgia Library Quarterly. Georgia Library Quarterly is the professional journal for Georgia Librarians in all fields. In addition to professional content, librarians offer book reviews. We review works both fiction and nonfiction which focus on Georgia and the South. This is my first time around editing for them in Chicago Manual of Style. I’m sure I’ll get quicker but right now the learning curve is creating a log jam with my time.

I have an Outreach Library! – I share most of this stuff on twitter -

I’ve been offered a free spot at a farmers market. My suggestion for libraries: Farmers Market: Be there. The farmers market was by far the best return on my time investment for all of my outreach efforts up to this point. Over 200 people walked by my booth. Of them, 40 or so stopped to learn more about the library and our services. Well over half of those were surprised by a service that they didn’t know we offered. Some were frequent library users. Most were not. I’m trying the ‘book dealer’ approaching to hooking users. I’m making non-circulating paperbacks available at the market and other outreach events. Hopefully they bring them back to me or one of our branches. Eventually, I’ll give enough books away for free that folks will be willing to get a library card for an even greater collection of FREE books!! 

Another big project: Business Services took a huge stride forward last week with a meeting between the Small Business Development Center, the Development Authority, SCORE & me (public library). I went in with my own concept of how to work with these entities. Good news: I shut my mouth and listened instead of speaking. I learned I was a bit off track AND exactly what they were looking for and willing to provide. I’m now very excited that this project is moving forward in a new direction with full support of some very good assets and contributors. When it’s really rolling out I’ll update you.

And on a personal note, life has been too busy to even really cook! Yikes. But I’m learning to appreciate yummy food that can be created in stages. Here’s what I’ve done step by step all week long: Homemade Twix bar cookies.

Pure food post:

Try some chicken & waffles on for size:

Cornbread waffles:
24 oz cornmeal
1/2 t baking soda
2 T maple syrup
2 c milk
5 eggs
1/2 c applesauce
1 t maple flavoring
1/2 t cinnamon
Mix well. Cook on waffle iron.
Warning these will fill ya up fast! No big eyes!!! I kept mine within a reasonable diet with grilled chicken, a sprinkle of cheddar & a side of seasoned beans.

And Then There Were Nuns…

and thenTitle: And Then There Were Nuns
Author: Jane Christmas
Copyright: 2013
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Checked out from the library

And Then There Were Nuns is a memoir sharing one woman’s journey to discerning her vocation. This is a particularly pressing matter as she’s facing the immediate choices of marriage vs. nunnery. She has a very understanding significant other and the blessing of time to explore the nunneries. Jane is a 2x divorcee who has felt the call to religious life and ignored it for a good portion of her life. She finally decides to fully explore the option just as her long-time boyfriend pops the question. She finds herself in the absurd circumstance of promising herself to both a spouse and potentially God. To resolve this nagging call and desire to serve, she decides to post-pone planning nuptials to visit a convent. The first convent visit doesn’t resolve the feelings but does force her to explore further. As readers, we end up on a year long journey through convents and abbeys of both Anglican and Catholic origins. We learn that she’s really peeling back layers to expose herself completely. Some of this exposes quite painful life experiences. We soon find that her journey may or may not be to discern her vocation but is absolutely to find healing. While she explored her inner thoughts and struggles, I laughed, cried and learned a lot to deepen my own spiritual practice.

One aspect of this book I just loved was her humor. Religion and self exploration can teeter on stuffy, self-righteous, dry. Not Jane! Jane lets it all hang out. I promise, this isn’t like one of those previews where only the funny parts are shown so your disappointed by the movie… the whole book is funny. But I need to share this story as it’s my favorite and the one I most identify with. Jane self describes as a driven over achiever. In one convent, she become convinced that she could master this nun stuff in 5 years tops. Yes, she confirms with herself, 5 years here and she’d be fit for Mother Superior. Her humility seems to lose it’s grip on her spirit and she becomes quite full of herself. But just as always seems to happen in those instances… she finds herself slipped right back into place. At the next observance of the Hours, she finds that she can’t keep her papers straight. She’s lost her place and her papers. One sticks in the shoe of the nun next to her. She is completely humiliated as she must collect her papers and herself. Sure, she can run this place – as soon as she can figure out how to get through a simple routine Hours without a ruckus.

I loved that I learned a lot about my own personal spiritual journey. I learned some new prayer techniques. I received some great recommendations for future reading. I didn’t love how she was treated in Catholic institutions. Some treatment of her as a child and as an adult is callus with religious superiority. Having been the recipient of this lately, my heart hurts for her as a child and even as a raw adult on an earnest spiritual journey. I understand the need to be true to ones own faith. I can not understand how this can’t happen with kindness as the package.

I will share my favorite pick up from the book: The Anglican Collect for Purity

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secretes are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy holy spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name: through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Chocolate Digestive Biscuits


Locomotive & Buffalo Burgers

locomotiveTitle: Locomotive 

Author: Brian Floca

Copyright: 2013

Caldecott Award Winner – and many more!

Checked out from the library per little man’s request.

We were waiting for the elevator in the children’s section and my son became very excited. The book, Locomotive, was in a display. Little Man announced that we had to get this book as well. It’s an Award Winner! He knows that this sort of endorsement would prompt me to up the book ration. I did. I’m a sucker for the Award books. I have not yet regretted picking one up.

Locomotive is the story of the railroad and a family’s westward journey. The book shares how the railroad was built and the Gold Rush. The story would be equally appealing to both boys and girls. Because of this, I would strongly recommend this title as a companion to a historical spine; either for a homeschooling family or classroom read-aloud. Each job on the train is described as well as the steam engine. This could easily be expanded into mechanical study for an older student in the family. We also learn some of how the trains communicate with each other and people at the stations through their ‘toot’ language. Throughout the family’s journey, we see the places they’ve passed through in beautiful illustrations. We took this opportunity to break out the maps and follow along.  We learn about what life was like on one of the early trains and in America during that time period. Much of the perspective is that of a child in the family which keeps the book from becoming dry with factual content. Indeed, given all of the learning activities that we were able to develop out of this book, one might think that we wore it out. But truly, the kids asked for it again and again. They enjoyed the story and the learning was just a byproduct. I guess that’s why this selection is such the award winner.


Buffalo Burgers (inspired by Easy Oven-Baked Cheeseburgers found here)

2# buffalo (or ground beef, or a mix of both)
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 c bread crumbs
Worchesire Sauce
Garlic Salt
6 or 7 slices cheese
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400. Mix ingredients from meat to pepper and pat evenly into 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Meat will pull in and give off some fat – how much fat depends on the kind of meat you choose. Top with cheese slices and return to oven until cheese melts. Serve on slider rolls.

Delish! (I like mine topped with a little steak sauce but everyone else went the classic route of ketchup, mustard & pickle)

Week in Review

Well good Friday morning! Can you believe we made it?!

Life is crazy busy lately with amazing things, so I think I’ll take some time to share these with you!

1st: Our library remains in fiscal crisis. Here it is in a nutshell:


Deadline is looming: July 1. We’ve made a commitment to not cut services until following Summer Reading Program which ends July 31st. The community support has been amazing but you can’t pay the bills with encouragement. We’ll just have to wait and see how that encouragement translates itself to the decision makers. Sometimes I wonder if a drive to switch from yearly budget discretionary allotment to mil rate funding would solve our problems… but then I see libraries with that brand of funding struggling too.

2: But life and library must go on. So I also spent part of this week visiting tattoo parlors :) I did have to promise hubby not to come home with any more – which I won’t!! Though I did joke I’d come home with this:



But boy o boy I love those places!! So what do tattoos have to do with the public library? We have a great digital magazine service called Zinio. Zinio is heavily used by a few. So we are attempting to determine whether it’s because people aren’t aware of it or aren’t interested. We’ve selected a couple of special interest titles to promote. One of these titles is Inked. I distributed flyers advertising Inked with information on how to access it with a library card. We’ll watch the circulation of these items and hopefully have a better overall view of the situation. One staff member did offer a bit of discouragement that magazines are only for the older generation. Which not only discouraged my efforts but also made me think – hey, did you just call me old? So what are your thoughts? Do you read magazines? Do you buy them?

Another peak of my week: Teaching soap making at one of our libraries. I’d planned for about 5. 18 showed. We had a really good time. I enjoy the interactive nature of soap making and sharing something I love so much with our patrons.


One more perk: I spent one whole day at the circulation desk. Patrons and patron service is the heart of my job and why I do what I do. With the whole budget crisis, I was feeling pretty burnt out. A day with those that we serve really recharged my batteries. It was a very good thing.

Finally: I have had the privilege of joining our state’s professional journal as an editor. Today is my first meeting and I’m excited and nervous. Wish me luck!

I’d love to hear what you & your libraries are up to this week!

The It List & a yummy summer shake

I’ve raved about Megan McCafferty before. I love the Jessica Darling series. If you haven’t read it, I’ll wrap it up for you right here: Strong young female loves herself enough to pursue her dreams despite boys. But she still loves the boy…. Young girls, we love(d) the boys. Some of us lost ourselves because of it. The Jessica Darling series is a great one for young women. But I have a young girl. And the content of the Jessica Darling series was just not appropriate for her yet.

Enter the prequel: The IT List by Megan McCafferty. Jessica Darling enters seventh grade. She has her best friend. She has her own personal style. She has a sister that was the IT girl of high school. She hasn’t a clue how this is going to turn out.

I enjoyed this prequel much more than other series that have attempted this feat. Frequently, a prequel feels like an attempt to monopolize on a series monetary success. I find that frequently a prequel offers very little to the actual story at all. Why bother?

I found The IT List to be very relevant – needed! I’m able to introduce this strong – though filled with self-doubt – young lady to my young lady when she needs her the most. My tween is just forming the teenager she’s going to be. If I wait until 17 to introduce her to the strong young lady, it’s too late!! Additionally, McCafferty actually ties in real references from the Jessica Darling series. In that series Jessica reflects upon middle school – and then she actually incorporates these references into The IT List. -Proof positive, it’s not an afterthought at all. It’s a wonderful continuation of a story I can get enough of.

So… inspired by the favorite comfort food of Jessica and her best friend, here’s my recipe:

Cap’t Crunch Berry Milk Shake

3/4 cup vanilla ice cream
3/4 cup Cap’t Crunch Berry cereal
1/2 cup milk
5 ice cubes
1/2 t vanilla
2 T sugar

Whip it all up in a blender and enjoy! I topped mine with a little Reddi-Whip. Mmmm.