Wednesday, May 2, 2018

April Meeting: Animaker PSA Videos

We had a slightly smaller but still very animated group for this month's meeting. Most of us seemed to have enjoyed It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas. No one had been familiar with the Iranian hostage crisis so we watched a brief History Channel clip to get some more context for the prejudice and hatred that Cindy experiences in the book. We talked a little bit about what's it like to be a new student in middle school and new to America.

Then, I showed a few sample PSA videos made using Animaker, the free, online, animated video creator that we would be using to make our own PSAs, preferably something that might have helped Cindy adjust to her new school. In spite of a few technology hiccups and time constraints that prevented some from completely finishing, the Bookshoppers created some very unique videos, as you'll see below!

Our next meeting will be on Monday, June 4th, and it will be our last meeting of this school year. We will be taking a break in July and August and will start up again at the end of September. For our last meeting, we didn't pick a book because I asked everyone to read one book and bring it to the meeting with them to booktalk it to the group. This will provide us with lots of great book ideas to read over the summer! Our activity is a surprise, but it will involve food so come hungry...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

March Meeting: LittleBits Moving Creations

We had a great March meeting, with good discussion about the graphic novel Cardboard by Doug TenNapel and lots of creative experimenting with LittleBits. Not everyone loved the book, and several Bookshoppers actually mentioned that they thought they would like it more. A few found it too creepy - cardboard monsters taking over the world feels a little too close to a zombie apocalypse... We talked about how the way TenNapel drew the characters immediately shaped our impressions of them; none of us would have wanted to be friends with Marcus, while Cam seemed awesome.

After talking a little bit about what we might make out of magic cardboard if we ever got some, we got to work on our activity for the evening. Since Cam and his dad made a person out of cardboard, I challenged the group to work alone or in small groups to create something that moved using  LittleBits circuits, cardboard, tape, paper plates, string, and more! Although most Bookshoppers had used LittleBits before, we watched a brief orientation video, and it just so happens that LittleBits had a current challenge up on their website that fit perfectly with our activity and provided more helpful inspiration.

The Bookshoppers got right to work experimenting with different moving pieces and testing out methods of attaching cardboard to make various creations. Trial and error was the name of the game, and it was awesome to see the Bookshoppers share techniques and help each other troubleshoot issues. Below are several pictures and videos documenting the creative process.

Although we ran out of time to formally submit our moving creations online for the LittleBits challenge, check out the impressive final products in the following pictures and videos!

Our next meeting will be on Monday, April 30th. We will be discussing It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas. See you next month!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Meeting: Science-Inspired Comics and Storyboard That

Even though we didn't all finish the entire book this month, we had a blast talking through some of the funniest entries in What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. Some group favorites were the comics in response to the question about crying so much you dehydrated yourself and the question about the number of cats needed to bring down a jet, assuming they can meow at the same resonant frequency as the plane. People submitted some VERY interesting scientific questions, and the author answered them with humor, smarts, and a good dose of sarcasm.

Since the comics were hilarious and looked so simple, we tried creating our own science-inspired comics. Some Bookshoppers took inspiration from the hypothetical science questions asked in the book, such as: What if a rainstorm dropped all of its water in a single drop?; and What if every day, every human had a 1% chance of being turned into a turkey, and every turkey had a 1% chance of being turned into a human? Our cartoons are below:

After hand drawing comics, we tried out the free online program Storyboard That, which has tons of different backgrounds and characters and props to help you create your own cartoons. It was super fun to play around with changing each character's clothes, body position, and facial expression so many Bookshoppers didn't get a chance to finish their comics. But it's a free web-based program, so I encouraged them to create an account with their own email addresses and keep playing around with it at home! Some of the Storyboard That scenes are shown below:

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Made with Storyboard That

Our next meeting will be on Monday, March 26th. We will be discussing Cardboard by Doug TenNapel and using LittleBits to build something together as a group. See you next month!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Meeting: Canva Book Covers

We had another lively meeting this month discussing When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Most Bookshoppers seemed to have enjoyed the book, especially the twist about Marcus and the Laughing Man. While we ate pizza and talked about time travel and if we would have been brave enough to do what Marcus had done, I set up a quick version of The $20,000 Pyramid, which is the game show that Miranda's mother is a contestant on near the end of the book. The group split up in pairs and took turns being the celebrity (giving clues for their partners to guess words and categories). It was a LOT harder than it seemed. 

I was impressed to hear that most of the Bookshop members successfully avoided seeing the cover while reading the book and were surprised by it when I unwrapped one of the books to show them the original cover. A new cover was designed for the paperback edition, but it doesn't seem like that much of an improvement to me. Most of them agreed that they probably wouldn't have picked the book up judging by the hardcover cover (both covers shown below).

Hardcover edition
Paperback edition

A few people mentioned that they had envisioned a person on the cover, or a letter, or a photograph of a city scene, and this was their chance to create that awesome new cover! We used Canva to design our own book covers; check them out below.

Front cover
Back cover

Front cover

Back cover

Front cover
Back cover

I would definitely be intrigued enough to pick up books with those covers!

Our next meeting will be Monday, February 26th. We will be discussing What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. This is an awesome book to browse through since it's organized by absurd hypothetical questions interspersed with hilarious cartoon depictions of those questions being tested out. We will be drawing cartoons depicting our own absurd questions, both by hand and using the online tool Storyboard That. See you next month!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December Meeting: Sculptris

On Monday, we ate lots of pizza, drew some funny (real and imagined) scenes from The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, and then, using a very cool, free, 3D modeling program called Sculptris, pretended we were students at the Magisterium with magical elemental abilities. It's hard to capture the program by just looking at the finished two-dimensional designs, but Sculptris basically provides you with a lump of virtual clay (you can start with either a sphere or a plane) and then you can manipulate it in a variety of ways. It definitely requires some patience and time as you play around with the different buttons and get used to the shortcut keys, and it would be even more fun if you used it on a tablet or a computer with touchscreen capabilities because then you could pull and push as if you're really sculpting clay, but the Bookshoppers took to the program surprisingly quickly and made some awesome designs. Enjoy some pictures and videos of the process as well as the finished designs below!


BirdyBird by Amy

Mad Cat by Amy

Bird by Avery

Dog by Avery

Untitled by Carson

Untitled by Chris

Head of Extreme Untimely Death by Gabriel

Medusa by Gabriel

Untitled by Isaac 

Untitled by Isaac

Untitled by Julia

Untitled by Arsalan

Our next meeting will be on Monday, January 29th. We will be discussing When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and designing new book covers with Canva. The book club books I distributed on Monday are covered with brown paper in the hopes that Bookshoppers won't be influenced in their designs by the current cover. If you do return the book before the meeting, please remove the brown paper before returning it so as not to confuse any other library staff. But don't peek at the cover!