CHMS Library News

Spring 2015, Vol. 1

Testing the Waters

Well, it seems that the weather has finally turned. All things being equal, we should be leaving the snow and ice behind for another year. On the school calendar, that means we are entering testing season. Over the next couple months, students and resources will be dedicated to the first full round of PARCC testing. Unfortunately, this year there are not enough computers in the building to test all the students at the same time. This means that the library will frequently be closed to students during the day. As it stands now, I am planning to be open during the lunch blocks (roughly 10:40--12:20) for individual student work and book checkout.


While I hate having to shut my door that much, there is one silver lining. Unlike past high stakes tests, students are allowed to read something after they finish. This is great news, and a great reason for kids to stop by the library! There are plenty of books and magazines to go around, and I will even have options for students who cannot checkout a book because of a fine. I am also more than willing to keep checked out books here for those students who are concerned about forgetting their reading material at home.

Upcoming Programs

Spring Amnesty

Do you know a student with a library fine? Now's the time to get it cleared!


It's Spring Amnesty at the library!


On Wednesday April 1st & Thursday April 2nd, students can come to the library and tell a school appropriate joke to have up to $1 cleared off their fine. If they make Mr. Bancells laugh, he'll clear the entire fine!


Please note: If a student has an overdue book, the book must be returned in order for the fine to be cleared.


Questions? See Mr. Bancells

The 1st Ever Testing Time Reading Challenge!

Check out and read two library books between now and May 29th, and students get to Graffiti the Glass!


  • Write your name

  • A farewell message

  • A bit of poetry

  • A favorite quote


Let’s cover the Library Windows!


Sign up in the library today and get a sweet treat just for getting started.


Turn in your reading list before 5/29 to leave a mark on Cherry Hill Middle. (before you leave for the summer)

Star Wars Night at the Book Fair

The 2nd Annual Star Wars Night at the Book Fair is May 21st, from 6-9. Come out to buy books, play Star Wars games, and meet your favorite characters from a galaxy far, far away!


The book fair runs from 5/18--5/22, but there's only 1 Star Wars Night!

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January & February, by the Numbers

  • School Days: 32
  • Items Checked Out: 842
  • Holds Placed: 106
  • Student Sign-ins: 896
  • Classes in: 139

(photo by Steve Johnson, via Flickr)

Book Spotlight

Sorrow's Knot, by Erin Bow

Filled with Native American influence, some may think it easy to dismiss this book as a publisher's effort at fostering diversity. That, however, would be a dangerous oversimplification. In her second novel, Erin Bow has crafted a compelling fantasy filled with ghosts, magic, and exotic scenery. At it's core, however, the story is powered by the conflicting emotions of friendship.


The story centers on three characters: Otter, Kestrel, & Cricket. Two girls and a boy, they grow up as best friends in the village of Westmost. It is a secluded place, occupied mostly by women, who must use the magic of the wards to keep the lurking dead at bay. Hiding in the shadows, the spirits of the dead come in a variety of forms. Some are small and black, powerful but easily handled. Others, like the fearsome White Hands, can bring madness and ruination with a single touch. When the dead and the magic which keeps them back begin to change, the three friends are forced to grow up quickly and face their fears, not all of which involve ghosts.


The magic at the heart of this book is based on knots and yarn, the binding of things (especially the dead). Like the world in which it works, the binding is based on Native American practices but, as Bow mentions in her Acknowledgements, the people of Westmost "are not meant to represent any particular indigenous culture." She has essentially done what authors like Tolkien did in The Lord of the Rings or Paolini with The Inheritance Cycle. Those books are clearly based on medieval Western Europe but are set in their own world. The same is true here. Bow's world (which seems to be nameless) is influenced by Native North American culture, especially tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Because the story is not about the culture per se, it becomes a dynamic backdrop for the plot and characters.


For all the excellence of Bow's world building, this novel is really about relationships. Instead of turning Otter, Kestrel, and Cricket into a love triangle, the author gives them a deep friendship which avoids such cliches. It's a hopeful presentation which allows the characters to lean on each other as conflicts arise with both the dead and the living. Cricket's relationship with her mother Willow is especially pivotal and difficult. As the Binder of Westmost, Willow is meant to protect the people with her magic and train her daughter to do the same. Something is wrong with the knots, with the magic, and Willow is becoming more and more erratic. Ultimately, how Otter deals with her mother's growing instability defines the course of the novel.

Teacher Shout-Outs!

Thank you to all the teachers who collaborated with the Library in January & February



  • Mr. Bennett--Book Selection
  • Ms. Butera--Dubbing Project & Creative Commons Lesson
  • Mr. Carver--Directed Research
  • Mrs. Gawel & Ms. Strasburg--Ethics Research Projects
  • Mr. Heess--Drug Research
  • Mrs. Keyes--Small Group Work
  • Mrs. Lisa--Intervention Group
  • Mr. Payne--Group Work
  • Mrs. Stauffer--Biography Research Project
  • Ms. Strasburg--Small Group Work
  • Ms. Tolley--Copyright Lesson & Creative Commons Lesson
  • Mrs. Weaber--Trail of Tears Project
  • Mrs. Wein & Mrs. McBride--Small Group Work

Student Policy Reminders

  • Students can check out 2 books at a time
  • Books are due after 3 weeks (21 days)
  • Magazines can be checked out for 5 school days
  • Overdue Fines are 10 cents per day, per item (except for Nooks--$1 per day)
  • There are a variety of ways to pay off an overdue fine, including Cougar Cash & canned goods.
  • Students can earn 1 Cougar Cash by turning their item in before the due date.
  • Students can earn 3 Cougar Cash by writing a review of their book and turning it in to Mr. Bancells
  • Students can recommend awesome books to their peers by turning in books to the Awesome Book Bin on the circulation counter.

(photo by Joe Crawford, via Wikimedia Commons)

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Mr. Chris Bancells believes grammar is important...even in graffiti. He has been the librarian at Cherry Hill Middle School for 3 years and an educator for 13. He is the author of the content above and can be reached using any of the methods below.