News & Views

Morris County School Media Association

Letter from the President

Happy New Year Everyone,

Welcome to a new decade. (Since I am terrible at math I wrongly started last January’s newsletter with the same sentiment. Unfortunately, none of my editors caught the error.)

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with good food, socially distanced time with friends and family as well as some time to relax, unplug and recharge. I am looking forward to some of the amazing innovations our time learning from this pandemic and a new decade will bring.

This fall we had Barbara DeSantis present about using Adobe Spark in the Library/Classroom. Her Blog “Tech Tools” is a wealth of information for you and the teachers you work with. Please take a minute to check it out. I was able to share several notable articles with teachers in my district to make their daily hybrid learning courses easier to plan.

If you are looking for more engaging ideas that are library specific consider joining the following social media groups on Facebook: Future Ready Librarians, Middle School Librarian Exchange, Elementary School Librarian Exchange, Learning Librarians. Be in the know on what's coming your way by using Twitter and Instagram to follow great authors and get access to new materials being promoted by your students favorites. Look for common hashtags #mgbooks, #primarybooks, #booksforkids, #yabooks.

The NJASL fall conference was a delightful new experience and I hope you all were able to login and engage throughout the day. I am also looking forward to having you join us for our upcoming Best Books for Elementary, Middle & High School presentations by the Parsippany Public Librarians on January 20, 2021. The meeting will be presented via Zoom from 4:15pm - 5:30pm.

Please pre-register to receive the Zoom link here:

Excited to see you all soon,

Tara Collins

President, MCSMA

Best Books for Elementary School/Best Books for Middle School and High School

Wednesday, Jan. 20th, 4pm

This is an online event.

Children's and Teen Staff from the Parsippany Public Library will share their top picks for the best books from the past year! There will be concurrent presentations of selections for Elementary School Students and Middle/High School Students. Lists from both sessions will be made available.

This meeting is free for members and $10 for nonmembers to attend. Renew your membership online at

Please pre-register to receive the Zoom link here:

Follow Morris County School Media Association on social media!

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Book Review: Midnight Sun

Reviewed by Roxana Caivano

We called ourselves Twihards. We split off into factions - Team Edward vs Team Jacob. We went to midnight release parties at bookstores, midnight showings of the movies, we bought lots of collectables including dolls, lunchboxes, clothing, pillowcases, and jewelry, bought multiple copies of the books, and read them over and over and over again. Then we found a copy of Midnight Sun online, or at least half of Midnight Sun. It was Twilight from Edward’s point of view, and we were hooked. If we simply loved Twilight before, we were obsessed now. More! We needed more! How could Stephenie just stop before the meadow scene? How could she tease us like that? Then came the announcement...Stephenie was angry. Someone took Midnight Sun from her and leaked it online without her permission. She would have her revenge and would never finish it. We wept.

But now, twelve whole years later, she changed her mind. She finished it! Why now? Why when she was so angry twelve years ago? Who knows. Maybe she got bored in quarantine. Maybe she needed a new beach house. I read an article that said her mother bugged her to finish it and she finally went back to it, but it was a real pain in the neck to write (um, Steph... your legions of fans don’t want to hear you complain), but she didn’t think anyone would even want to read it twelve years later. Really, Stephanie??? We were so excited, once word leaked of the release, her website crashed. Some of us (ahem) reread the original series in preparation.

I never liked Bella. As much as I loved the original books, told from Bella’s POV, she always annoyed me. She was whiny and sullen and I could never empathize with her character. But Edward. Oh, Edward. Him, I liked. He was romantic, he was courteous, he was brilliant, he was nice, he was handsome, he drove fast cars, and he was old fashioned, like a character in a Jane Austen book. He was a sparkly, sexy vampire. Bella never appreciated him like I did! His character was just so much more interesting to me, which is why this book, to me, was so much better.

The Edward in this book is complex. Listening to him think is fascinating. He’s a vampire whose mind works at a different speed than that of a human’s. He’s able to consider a multitude of scenarios and make decisions in fractions of a second. He can read the minds of everyone around him (except for Bella’s, go figure). He’s kind, so even though he can hear the thoughts of others, he tries not to listen and invade their privacy. Edward loves with his entire being and is completely devoted to Bella. He cannot believe Bella actually loves him. How can someone love a monster? He knows, that as a vampire, he is no good for her, and shouldn’t be with her. The angst that he feels over his conflict is palpable. You just want to wrap him in your arms and tell him it will be okay. He worries incessantly about Bella — she’s a breakable human being and anything, anything, can happen to her. She could trip and fall. She could get hit by a car. Bella is such a magnet for danger, a stray meteorite could come crashing through her roof and kill her. Edward would save her from the meteorite by never letting her out of his sight (which, yes, in real life would be kind of creepy and stalker-ish, but I will always give Edward a pass!). And like a typical teenager, he wants a tangible memento of their first lunch together, and keeps the bottle cap from the iced tea she drank. Heavy sigh.

Because I had so recently reread Twilight, I was ready to compare and contrast the two. I was sure Stephenie followed the book, but of course the Librarian in me needed to make sure. There was a lot of switching back and forth between the two, reading one scene to make sure it followed the other. What I found is that Stephenie Meyer is really talented. She took inconsequential scenes from Twilight, something that may have only been half a sentence coming out of Bella’s mouth, and created whole scenes in Midnight Sun. For instance (feel free to skip over to the next paragraph here, there is a mild spoiler), in Twilight, when Bella was running from James, a vampire who was trying to kill her, she was at Edward’s house and getting ready to flee. She looked over her shoulder and saw Emmett (Edward’s brother) carrying a heavy looking bag over his shoulder. Inconsequential, right? They were running, he had a bag. But no. In Midnight Sun, Emmett and Edward were trying to trick James into thinking they put Bella in the bag and were secreting her away. How was it that she thought that through all those years ago? Why even mention Emmett had a bag in Twilight? It added absolutely nothing to the original story, but was pivotal in the new one. It was almost as if she was thinking ahead to writing from Edward’s point of view and needed to add those little details. Genius.

Midnight Sun also gives us more insight into the rest of the family’s histories. We learn more about each one of them, understand Alice’s gifts better, get to know Jasper, and see the real Rosalie for who she is. How is it that Emmett loves her so much??? Another mystery.

For those of us who loved Twilight, Midnight Sun is wonderful. It’s what we’ve been waiting for for all these twelve whole years. For those who thought Twilight was drivel, well, you probably won’t like this one either. Is it sappy? Yeah, probably. But for the Twihards amongst us, Midnight Sun is our long awaited due. As Edward would ask, ‘do I dazzle you?’ Yes Edward, yes you do.

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Have You Watched A Good Book Lately?

By Jill Mills

It’s always tricky business when books are translated to movies, either on the big or (during the pandemic) small screens, and how they are received. Like anything else, our expectations guide our reactions. I should have been better prepared when I settled in to watch the movie adaptation of one of my favorite books, The One and Only Ivan. Katherine Applegate’s Newbery Medal winning story so inspired me that I have led classes, research, and book clubs using her book. So, of course I eagerly anticipated the release of the movie. I couldn’t wait to see this story come to life.

With all that expectancy, is it any wonder the movie left me disappointed? How often do we say the same thing - the book was better! In this case, I felt much of what made The One and Only Ivan so poignant was the bravery Applegate showed by not shying away from the dark side of what the animals’ existence was inside their unfortunate habitat. The book told of the cramped, cold quarters that Ivan called home and even spoke to the abuse the elephants endured during training. It was difficult to read, but it made these animals, their courage, and their determination, all the more real and endearing. The movie missed this mark. Not that the animals’ quarters ever looked comfortable, but they certainly seemed more thoughtfully planned than what we know Ivan really experienced.

And is it just me, or were the celebrity voices just a distraction? In my opinion, when a story resonates so deeply with its readers, especially a children’s book, it shouldn’t need to rely on celebrities to garner attention. Do we really expect the intended audience to be impressed by Danny DeVito or Angelina Jolie in the cast? And in the worst waste of talent, Tony-award nominee, Phillipa Soo, as Thelma. I was bewildered as to why a voice such as hers would be reduced to a simple squawk. All of that said, I watched and enjoyed the movie hoping that readers will find a renewed interest in both The One and Only Ivan and The One and Only Bob.

Now, a completely delightful find was Enola Holmes on Netflix. I have the mystery series in my library, but have never read any of the books. Maybe it’s the lack of familiarity or expectation that allowed me to fully experience the movie without bias, but whatever it is, I really loved it! First, the ever-charming Millie Bobbie Brown as Enola grabs our attention from the opening line when she speaks directly to us and introduces the viewer to her unorthodox but empowered upbringing.

She’s a real renaissance young woman, having cultivated both physical and intellectual pursuits alongside her mother. Knowing anything about the Holmes name, we expect and are treated to a complicated and layered mystery. It begins with the disappearance of Enola’s mother and the reappearance of her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft. By continually breaking the fourth wall, Enola brings us along on all of her adventures, turning to the viewer as a companion and confidante and before long, we are experiencing everything with her. We are rooting for her through the entire story.

Despite running into many obstacles, Enola is intelligent, resourceful, and strong - demonstrating strength even through emotions. Her growth and determination are framed by the backstory of the British suffragettes and their fight for the vote. “Our future is up to us!” What a message for young (and not so young) viewers!

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