Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book Donations and Library Outreach Activity

Back in November 2016, I received an email from Mariecar Fernando of the Ayala Foundation (AFI). In charge of the education and teacher training arm of AFI, Ms. Fernando asked for books that we could possibly donate to their #MagingMagiting campaign. Looking at the old and grown out books donated by our students, teachers and parents that our library has gathered for donation to libraries who need it, I thought of giving them all to AFI's campaign.

One of the letters by a CENTEX grade 5 student
AFI has an immediate recipient of the books. One of their projects is the CENTEX schools where the books will stay. They have the staff and the manpower to deliver the books to the CENTEX public schools. They also have training programs and operational structures to make sure that the books will end up in the libraries of the CENTEX schools. So, AFI sent their people to get the books from us last January 2017.

A week ago, I received an envelope full of letters from grade 5 students of CENTEX Batangas. Each letter contains words of appreciation, gratitude and prayers of goodwill for me and for the school I work at. I do not know who these children are, but their letters speak of the wonder and the magic that our book donations brought them. In a school community where books and reading resources are scarce, this act of generosity goes a long way.

This inspired me to formally launch the library's classroom library project for a public elementary school and put together a catalog of recommended reads during our school assembly.

The catalog will contain book reviews by our Griffins.
Last 2016, during the Beacon academy Fair, we had a book fair that earned us 30 titles of books to start a classroom library for a K-3 class in a public school. This year, we earned enough money from the school fair to buy 30 more books. But donating a classroom library does not begin and end with a box or a bin of books to a class. It entails knowing the readers who will read the books, the teachers who use the books for instruction and the issue of sustainability needs to be addressed as well.

There is much work to be done.

Book Review (SPOILERS): Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne
Alwyn Hamilton
Viking, 2017

I will begin my review of Traitor to the Throne, the second installment to the Rebel of the Sands, with the quoted paragraphs.

 "In this backdrop, Amani struggles to find herself while Jin has his own agenda. Jin maybe fighting alongside his brother, but he dreams of freedom; of being in a place where he can truly be himself; where he is not beholden to anyone else; where he could be the master of his fate."

"But this is a dream yet to come. Or not. My guess is, since Amani has only discovered her true power at the end of the book, Jin has to make a decision somewhere in book 2. Fight or Flight? Can he do both? Will Amani continue to become her own hero despite her growing feelings for Jin? Will the Rebel Prince prevail? Is there a traitor waiting in the wings?"

These came from the book review I wrote about Rebel around June last year. If you wish to read my review before this one, just click the link that is highlighted. There are spoilers in this review, so, don't say I didn't warn you.

I am glad that most of my questions that came up in Rebel were answered in TraitorAmani did become the hero in book 2 to the point of leading the Rebellion to the next installment. Jin was gone most of the time, spying and gathering intelligence for the Rebellion. Jin and Amani's relationship have grown more intense as well as the political intrigue that envelopes them both. Since Amani was traded as a slave to join the Sultan's harem, I got a good look of the nature of the Rebellion's enemies and their battle plan. The Sultan is really evil.  

Traitor bespeaks of many messages for the reader to take it all in at once. I am still digesting the whole novel, actually. One of the messages I took away from Traitor that lingers still is this: those who love and stay loyal to the virtues and values that make us human in a time of conflict and war eventually die and get hurt. This is a more compelling read, for me, at least. But that is not saying that Traitor is better than Rebel. The latter is intriguingly beautiful and captivating. The former is breathtakingly exciting and ruthless at the same time. 

Sam's mind scape as he sneaks into Shazad's room.
What Hamilton began as narrative layering in Rebel, she continued so skillfully in Traitor. The legends and djinn lore she used as padding to the world she built for Miraji and its characters is an homage to the Arabian Nights. The crafting was well done that the legends and djinn lore she introduced in selected chapters made Miraji and its inhabitants more believable in a folkloric sense.

I am glad there are more djinns this time. And golems too! Shazad continues to kick ass. There is a rainbow moment between a demji and a human. New characters were introduced and a few good ones died. Sam is one of my favorites to emerge. While I wonder about Jin's prolonged stay in Xichia, and who funds the rebellion of the Rebel Prince, I also wonder what will become of Sam in book 3.

I will read Traitor to the Throne once more so I can post my guide for teachers and parents who wish to discuss the book with their teens. Here now is the link to the resource and reading guide I whipped up for Rebel of the Sands.

Rating: 5 Bookmarks

Gene Luen Yang Is 2017 Teen Tech Week Spokesperson

Teen Tech Week 2017 Poster
During Teen Tech Week last March 5-11, 2017, I launched the Book Spine Poetry Festival 2017 in school and presented two possible outreach activities during school assembly a week after. Having donated three boxes of books to the #MagingMagiting book drive campaign of the Ayala Foundation, I thought of putting together a presentation on developing classroom libraries and creating a catalog of recommended reads. The latter is a public service campaign and the former is literacy and reading advocacy project. Both library activities/projects drum up this year's Teen tech Week theme: Be the Source of Change.

I shall write about the projects in another post. For this blog post, I will talk about Teen Tech Week and its spokesperson, Gene Luen Yang.

Mr. Gene Luen Yang as chosen by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) as his year's Teen Tech Week ambassador has this to say about libraries and its services to young people:

“Libraries have always been about both information and wisdom. Library staff teach us to be wise and discerning about the information we consume,” said Yang. “Because of technology, our world is now more information-rich than ever before, which is why we are more in need of wisdom than ever before.”
Mr. Yang has won a Printz and an Eisner for his graphic novel, American Born Chinese. 


When I read American Born Chinese a few years back, I was immediately endeared to the main characters, Chinkee/The Monkey King, Jin Wang, a second generation Chinese American, and Danny an American teenager of Chinese heritage. The three characters all display flaws that, thanks to a recognition of making the most difficult choice and learning from mistakes, became their saving grace in the end. Mr. Yang sure did give his characters a difficult time as well as allowing them to go through personal and socio-cultural struggles to rise up better than where they started. Such is the ethical and somewhat didactic journey of Jin Wang and Danny. However, the Monkey King's legendary value set as a backdrop for Jin and Danny made American Born Chinese a fascinating read. It has a blending of the lessons of the past to the present day and ushers a reassuring future for Danny.

Mr. Yang has more works that are worthy of acquisition for your library shelf if you are developing your library's graphic novel collection. I recommend, The Eternal Smile, Level Up and the historical two volume graphic novel, Boxer and Saint, about the Boxer Rebellion.

Of the four, Level Up is a personal favorite because it is a coming of age story where the lead, a young college freshman realizes his purpose in life despite pressure from academic work and big expectations from family. How Asian, right? But, I suppose, this is a conflict that many young adults encounter too, regardless of race, color or religion.

Finding one's self can take a person a lifetime to do so. Perhaps, as librarians of young adult learners, we can help a bit by recommending reading materials and designing programs and projects that will create oaths for them to find and discover their identity.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Spine Poetry Festival 2017

March 21 is World Poetry Day and we are bringing back the Book Spine Poetry Festival. It begins on March 13, 2017 until April 3, 2017.

It is easy to do!

* Compose a poem or poems using the spine of books from the BA Library.

* Register your book spine poem to Mr. Flynn.

* The poems will be put on display from April 4-8, 2017 and everyone is invited and enjoined to vote on the poems.

* We are looking for poems that:
     - make us say What The Freak (WTF) is that?!
     - give us the chills 
     - touch our hearts
     - inspire
     - make us wonder
* Griffins who have poems as entry to the festival will get 5 book points for the book quota.

For samples of Book Spine Poems, read the poetry made by former students. These are posted on the doors of the BA Library.


Advanced happy World Poetry Day!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day 2017

To every woman out there who plays the role of mother and sister in families, friendships and communities, I salute you!

Dear Nanay is a poem in verse about a girl who misses her mother who is an Overseas Filipino Worker in Singapore.

Big Sister is a story of all sisters, big and small, who annoy us but love us just the same.

Teen Read Week 2017: Be the Source of Change


Monday, March 6, 2017

I Love Libraries: The Quezon City Public Library

Congratulations to the Quezon City Public Library (QCPL) for having a new building that was launched and opened to the public last February 7, 2017. You can read the official press releases from these websites and social media link: the press release found on the Philippine Information Agency website; another one published in the Manila Standard; and this one is from the Quezon City Public Affairs Office. Indeed, the QCPL people and their administrators know how to make themselves visible in print and online environments.

I have written about the many events and programs that the QCPL organized in the past. Their librarians have always been active in many literacy events and campaigns. Their library porgrams for their communities serve young children, families and elders of the community.

Last year in October, I conducted a Bibliotherapy workshop with Darrel Marco as my partner with the staff of the QCPL Main library and the staff assigned in their barangay reading centers. There I discovered the library's cafe! My first encounter of a cafe in a library was when I visited the Iriga Public Library many years ago. I don't know if the cafe is still there for I have not been to Iriga in years.

After our workshop, our librarian friends led us to the site where the new building was being built. How excited were the QCPL librarians! How proud! They told us of the many visitors they welcome and serve in the library every day and the new building will surely attract more people to come and use the library's resources. I won't be surprised at all. Back in 2013, my writer friend, Ime Morales, wrote an article for the blog about her visit to the old QCPL with her son Bowi. Read her guest post by clicking the highlighted link.

What further amazes me with QCPL is their management of the different reading centers in the barangays of Quezon City. Like a hub, the main library functions as its center providing and extending readers services for all ages. In 2009, the QCPL ran a workshop on storytelling for its senior citizens. They do not need a mascot for they have a reading hero and champion in the persona of Heneral Basa. Behind the green mask is Mr. Alistair Troy Lacsamana who, together with QCPL librarians, regularly visit areas and communities in Quezon City where people do not have the means to go to the barangay reading center.

If you are the city mayor, wouldn't you support and invest in this dynamic and service oriented professionals? I would! Visit their website for more information on current news and updates! 

Now, do me a favor. If you are from Quezon City, visit the new library if you haven't yet. Spread the word and support your city librarians. Participate in their events, activities and programs. This will help them get feedback and improve their services. They also do a lot of outreach activities. Donate books. Volunteer to tell stories. Help the library grow! It is not only a place where books are kept. It is a community center where we discover many things about ourselves, the society we belong to and the world we live in!


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I Love Libraries: The Book Stop

Of course!

So, for today's post (because this is supposedly a Valentine feature) I am featuring The Book Stop. It is a pop-up library where anyone and everyone is welcome to browse, read and engage in a book exchange program. This idea is not new, of course. I have heard about The Little Free Library, and seen one in a corner of the Glorieta Mall in Ayala, Makati, as well as the Book Exchange Project of Papemelroti Roces Ave., branch in Quezon City.

Be still my book loving heart.

Such out of the library box ideas are pleasant news. Access to books and reading materials are now within the community's reach. It does break the stereotype of the one building library, often looking isolated and intimidating, and puts the library at the hub of people's businesses and traffic.

The Book Stop, though not the first to adapt the book exchange concept, is unique in its own design of a reading space. Instead of bricks and cement for walls, there is none at all. Only shelves of steel (forgive me if I am wrong) and columns that hold up the shelves. The flooring and the seats are made of wood giving it a homey feel. At the Dai des Libro last April 2016, I first saw its novelty. It was such a pleasant surprise to find one in Molito in Alabang last year in December.

If you think that The Book Stop is something you wish to support, click the link I included in this post. Or, visit the Facebook Page of WTA Architecture and Design Studio. Yup. This community reading center is run by an architecture firm and design studio. It only goes to show that art and technology must work for the people who use them. The same idea goes to libraries. Technology is a big factor in managing and running a library. But, a library is also about the arts and humanities, where people matter a lot!

I'm tossing these ideas on how "traditional" libraries and book lovers can further enrich and partake in the reading community through The Book Stop.

a. Volunteer to do storytelling sessions and literacy activities. When I posted my selfie with The Book Stop, I got a PM from another volunteer if I wish to help out and do my bit.

b. Donate books. All sorts and different kinds of books.

c. Write about them on social media: FB, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs

d. Librarians' associations and organizations can try inviting the proponents of The Book Stop to run talks about developing reading centers in communities. We can learn a thing or two from the architects and the designers who set it all up.

e. If you know that The Book Stop is in your community, or near your neighborhood, go visit! Read! Bring your kids, your partner, lover, friend and colleagues!

Today is the last day of February. The month of hearts and the arts draws to a close. But let our love for books, reading, culture and the arts last the whole year through!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Alternative Class Days: Paper Art / Paper Sculptures Day 2

Ms. Liza Flores, guest facilitator
Our Alternative Class Days in school ended last Friday on a high note. What Liza Flores, our guest workshop facilitator, started with us on Day 1 we continued on the second day.

I set up the workshop space early that Friday morning. There was an area for materials and supplies, an area for reflection, a work area and a display area. There were fourteen students in the workshop and seven of them came in early. At 7.45 AM, they were all in their work table cutting, pasting, mounting and quietly creating to their hearts' desires. With the help of my co-teachers, we guided all fourteen of our students in finishing their paper art projects. Well, there was very little supervision from us. They seemed to have taken the input session of Liza like fish to water. 

Our Griffins produced paper art on interesting themes. Some picked their favorite games and leisure activities, a cartoon character, a few played around with colors. One of them did a 3D model of a train. There was a student who made a notebook and designed a paper art on the cover. One senior made paper flowers which he put in a paper cup. It's amazing how one student stepped up to challenge of making a pop-up paper art and a Beacon Academy inspired art work. Many chose to work individually, but there were a few who paired and worked together. 



Some works on display at the school lobby
Before ending the day with the exhibit of works, we asked the students to write their reflections. This will help us decide where to go further with paper art / paper sculptures. For one, I am thinking of setting aside 45 minutes of paper art sessions in the library. If there is one thing we discovered with the ACD on Paper Art, it is a good stress reliever! 

Since I played the role of mother hen on Day 1, I didn't get to do the art exercises which Liza conducted for the group. So, I made sure to do at least two paper art projects of my own. I couldn't decide what to do at first. Flowers and leaves are the easiest to do, but my love for books won over. I looked for patterns of the White Tree of Gondor, the lamp post in Narnia and images of my favorite characters in Spirited Away. After selecting images, I went to work.

The White Tree of Gondor
The tree of Gondor was so intricate, it took me two hours to finish the piece. But boy, oh boy! I felt so good afterwards. Then I moved on to make soot sprites. My homage to Hayao Miyazaki. The lamp post in Narnia was shelved for another time. I had to give instructions to students as they prepared for the exhibit of works at 2PM. Together, we set up the paper art exhibit.

At the end of the day, we all felt accomplished. All of us were simply happy creating art with friends and colleagues during the two days Alternative Class Days (ACD) in the academy.

Here is the link to my blog post on ACD Paper Art / Paper Sculptures Day 1.

I Love Bookmarks

February 25 is World Bookmark Day. I posted in my IG account a photo of bookmarks I use on my books at work. This fascination for bookmarks go farther back in high school. I had a mug or two filled with bookmarks I bought from bookstores. I used to make bookmarks and sell them for a very affordable price to my classmates.



Over the years, I would buy a bookmark or two and use them whenever I read. Somehow, the book became the home of the bookmark. It was only recently when my love for bookmarks resurfaced. I think I was looking for a new hobby to do that making bookmarks came to mind.

Here is my blog post on a felt bookmark I made. Another post on pompom bookmarks made of yarn. My writer friend, Bebang Siy got married three years ago and she and Poy, her fiance back then, designed their own bookmarks as a giveaway and invitation to wedding guests. Friends who know my fascination for bookmarks would give them to me as gifts or pasalubongs, especially those who traveled abroad and came back home.

I have received bookmarks from Spain, Turkey, Qatar, Dubai, Hawaii, London and New Zealand. Below is a photo of selected bookmarks that make up my collection.


For this week, I will be posting in the blog, my favorite bookmarks and the back story of each. Some bookmarks are still in the books I read. Others are in books that I have not finished reading yet. Many I keep in a container. I still have to find a way to care display and preserve these bookmarks. In the age of e-books and e-readers, the printed bookmarks are fast becoming novelty items with an artistic value of its own.
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