Winter Break Reading Recommendations

What better way to spend your time away from ACE than to catch up on your leisure reading and dive into new, fictional worlds?

Sometimes revisiting cherished characters by rereading old favorites can be comforting in the cold weather, too.

If you’re looking for something with a setting to match the newly blustery outdoors, check these winter classics out:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Maybe you’d prefer to dive into the beginning of a rollicking serial adventure:

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Or maybe try out recommendations by friends of ACE:

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

What are your favorite winter break reads? What do you plan to read this December?

From the LOC collection of WPA posters

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ACE Library Book Donation Day

Dear Wonderful ACE Families,

Thursday, December 13, will be ACE’s first annual ACE Library Book Donation Day. Please bring any and all school age appropriate books you’d like to donate to the the second floor office, room 202, where a lovely designated box will await.

Our library is primarily donation based, so any contributions help to widen the available array of literature and information for our ever-thirsty readers.

Here are just a few areas of pronounced interest:

  • Graphic novels
  • Comics
  • Middle grade series
  • Biographies
  • Robotics/Computer science
  • Neuroscience
  • Origami
  • Architecture
  • History – world and American
  • Dictionaries
  • Art
  • Film – making of, history of, and animation
  • Video game design
  • Puzzles/games
  • Copies of The Hobbit
  • Copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate
  • Copies of any books by Rick Riordan

This list doesn’t begin to encompass the variety of passions that drive ACE students. So, when you’re culling your vast collections to make room for new holiday editions, please think of ACE and set aside whatever may be appropriate for our library. Your books will find a home full of eager and open minds here.

Donations are accepted year round, but mark December 13th as the official school wide day to bring in your pre-loved books.


The ACE Academy Library

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Library Tumblrs


Photo credit: Ourit Ben-Haim, Underground NYPL

Unlike standard library blogs, library Tumblrs tend to offer more visual impact, frequent updates, fluidity of content, and more varied contributors. Check out some of your librarian’s favorites below:

New York Public Library – Frequently updated and featuring content from a wealth of NYC area libraries, this is a stellar example of a library system fostering communities via information services and a shared love of reading, arts, and media.

Harry Ransom Center – Austin’s own HRC, an incredible resource for arts and humanities, regularly posts pieces from their vast photo, art, and written archives. They also give intriguing peaks into the conservation work done to preserve their impressive collection.

MoMA Library – Riddled with stunning images of their collection, the MoMA Tumblr always has something new for you to discover. It’s pretty easy to get lost in this Tumblr for a while.

Underground New York Public Library – A personal favorite – The Underground NYPL is a photo series by Ourit Ben-Haim featuring a visual library of the subway “Reading-Riders” of NYC. It’s both surprising and comforting to see what people choose to read during their daily commutes.


If you’d like to see more, let me know in 301. Otherwise, more engaging library links are always being collected and primed for posting!


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Texas Book Festival: Middle Grade and YA Author Recommendations

We’re just under a week away from the best book focused event of the year, the Texas Book Festival. This event occurs from 10 AM to 4:30 PM on Saturday, the 27th, and from 11 AM to 4:30 PM on Sunday, the 28th. There’s also the Lit Crawl event Saturday evening for adults, taking place on the East Side of town.

The Festival brings the country’s best authors to speak at the Texas State Capitol. Each panel is carefully curated to suit readers’ interests and bring together authors of similar themes and subjects. Unlike a general in-store book signing, the Festival offers you the chance to see your favorite authors discuss a variety of topics they’re passionate about with one another. Audience questions are fielded after each panel has concluded, and book signings take place ten minutes afterward in the tents outside the grounds.

The Festival is special to me in part because I worked there for two years while training to be a librarian, but also because it is an incredibly engaging event for readers of all ages with wide ranging interests.

So, to further encourage every ACE Library patron to attend, I’ve compiled some YA and Middle Grade author highlights appearing this year. Be sure to check these authors out!

  • Jon Scieszka – Were you ever a fan of the beloved The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales? Well, Scieszka co-authored that book, and wrote many other wildly popular, hilarious books as well (many of which we have in the library). His new series, Guys Read, focuses on compiling different writers’ work on subjects that appeal to boys specifically. This year, he’s promoting Guys Read: The Sports Pages.
  • Katherine Applegate  – The author of the popular Animorphs series is promoting the beginning of a new series called Eve and Adam, co-written with her husband, Michael Grant. In it, a girl whose just survived a nearly lethal car accident is given the task to build the “perfect boy” from the ground up, using intricate simulations.
  • Michael Grant – Applegate’s husband, who’s also promoting Adam and Eve, is the author of the wildly popular YA series, Gone.
  • Paulo Bacigalupi – Acclaimed author of the dystopian YA novel Shipbreaker (Printz winner and available in ACE Library), Bacigalupi will be discussing the new sequel, Drowned Cities – a book sure to be equally as dark and riveting as its precursor.
  • Hope Larson – Larson breathes new life into the classic story A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L’Engle – many copies available in the ACE Library) by revamping it into a stunning graphic novel.
  • Jacqueline Kelly – Author of the wonderful book, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Kelly returns with Return to the Willows, a sequel to the classic adventures of Mr. Toad in The Wind in the Willows.
  • Rebecca Stead – Stead won the Newbery Award for her book, When You Reach Me, and returns to discuss her new title, Liar and Spy. The description of Liar and Spy caught my interest immediately – a seventh grade boy newly transplanted to Brooklyn befriends another boy who enslists him as a fellow spy. But how far is too far when it comes to spy work for the boys?
  • Garth Nix – Nix wrote the critically acclaimed series featuring Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen (all available in our Library). His new offering is called The Monsters, and is the second book in the Troubletwisters series.
  • Dav Pilkey – The popular author of the Captain Underpants graphic novel series returns with Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. 
  • Maggie Stiefvater – Author of the popular werewolf series, Shiver, as well as the lauded The Scorpio Races, Stiefvater’s latest venture is the beginning of a trilogy titled The Raven Boys. Prep school boys, psychics, and ancient sleeping kings of unspeakable power fill this exciting read for young adults.
  • David Levithan – Co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Levithan returns with the curious and intriguing Every Day, in which the main character, “A,” wakes up every day in a new body. I’m sure you can imagine how interesting it gets from there.
  • E. Kristin Anderson – As part of the YA Lit Crawl event, Anderson and a plethora of YA authors will be discussing Anderson’s anthology, Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves. Anderson compiled the experiences of various authors and their ups and downs during their teenage lives to create a relatable, emotional, and therapeutic nonfiction read for teens.

These are just a handful of great authors to go and see speak this weekend at the Texas Book Festival.

I’ll try to post more recommendations as I come across authors I think you’ll all enjoy – whether they be nonfiction or picture books for younger children.

See you at the Festival!

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ACE Library Updates

Breaking news from the ACE Library:

  • We have a research database subscription! Access it by clicking on the Research Links tab above and following the log-in instructions. Explore, try search terms, and conduct your research using the database from anywhere with Internet access! For more information about how to effectively use this great research asset, come see me in room 301. I’ll also be making the rounds to show off our new resource in different classes in the coming weeks.
  • I have officially hit the 1,500th cataloged book. We’re nearly finished with cataloging the fiction library, and when this is accomplished, library cards will be distributed and we’ll try to have a mini celebration for our grand opening. Books can still be checked out via the paper check out system until this happens.
  • We’re now accepting parent volunteers to help catalog both the remaining fiction titles and all of the nonfiction library. Please email me at to schedule volunteer times. I’d love any help I can get!
  • We’re receiving some great donations! We can always find space for more, too! Please drop off any books – be they appropriate fiction titles for age range (K – 12) or nonfiction titles that could be of interest to our amazing gifted students. Students are really into researching neuroscience, origami, history, biographies, architecture, film studies, and robotics. Any great books are always welcome! We’re primarily donation based, so please, feel free to unload any books that students may have outgrown or that you think might be a good fit for our collections.

In other news, dragon books seem to be all the rage for ACE readers lately. Whether they’re from Chris D’Lacey’s The Last Dragon Chronicles or Emily Rodda’s many books based in Deltora, students can’t seem to get enough of them. Other popular series continue to be Jeff Kinney’s The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Lincoln Pierce’s Big Nate.

I’ve instated a Library Requests list where the students can write titles they’d like us to procure. Graphic novels in general seem to be a favorite.

These are just a few examples of books that we are lacking in numbers or that keep flying off our shelves in droves.

If anyone has any need for book recommendations, research assistance, or anything else library related, always know my door in 301 is open to all. I’ll post more updates about the ACE Library as they occur.

Thanks for reading!


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November: National Novel Writing Month


ACE Library Patrons and Parents,

November is approaching quickly and if there’s one writing endeavor to keep on your horizon in advance, it’s NANOWRIMO: National Novel Writing Month. This challenge encourages writers of all ages to work avidly on a novel, or other written work, for the entire month of November. The set goal is to complete 50,000 words, or 175 pages for adults – but these grand numbers needn’t scare you off. There’s now a NANOWRIMO for Young Writers, which encourages each writer to set reasonable, yet challenging self-imposed word count goals. The point of the project is to write every day of the month and see what you can come up with. 

If you’d like to officially participate, you can sign-up and create a free account on the NANWRIMO for Young Writers website. On November 25th, you can paste in your written work and have your word count verified. If you reach your project’s goal length, you win! 

Another great feature of the program is that you can access awesome resources including pep talks, workbooks, flyers, web badges, and helpful links. You can even learn how to meet fellow authors.

Even if you don’t formally join the project, it’s still a great motivator to start writing and gain momentum in making progress and completing your pieces. I know a lot of writers and creators at ACE, so if you have any interest in writing – maybe give NANOWRIMO for Young Writers a shot. It’s definitely a worthy endeavor no matter the end results.

You all have 19 days until November 1st, so start brainstorming and start exploring the website!

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Austin Teen Book Festival – This Weekend!

The Austin Teen Book Festival will be held at the Palmer Events Center from 9:30 AM to 5 PM this Saturday. With 36 well-known and up and coming YA authors featured on six panels, the ATBF is sure to be an all day fun-fest connecting teens to the authors they love. All fans of YA books are encouraged to come watch the authors speak on panels about a variety of subjects (“Real Life Happens,” “The Thrill of the Chase,” “Creature Comfort,” etc), get their books signed and meet the authors, meet fellow readers and fans, and explore what the on-site vendors have to offer. Did I mention there’s no entrance fee – it’s free?

It’s free.

Notable authors include:

  • Neil Shusterman, author of The Skinjacker Trilogy
  • Libba Bray, author of Going Bovine and The Diviners
  • Allie Condie, author of Matched (a new book in the ACE Library)
  • Ally Carter, author of Heist Society 
  • Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, authors of Beautiful Creatures

And many, many more authors of varying YA genres. There really is something for everyone.

For more information about the Austin Teen Book Festival, including panel lists and times, book prices, and directions to the Palmer Event Center, check out their website here.

Have fun on Saturday!

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