Just 5 Things with e.E. Charlton-Trujillo: Author of Fat Angie, When We Was Fierce, and more

Friday, June 24th! 5:45 to 6:30! At the PopTop Stage! Meet us for “It’s Not Just a G Thing: Exploring the LBTQ (and Beyond) in Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature.” In the hopes of getting you super-pumped for this panel, I’ve mini-interviewed the authors you’ll be hearing: Alex Gino, E.M. Kokie, and Robin Stevenson.Today, I’ll be taking to author, filmmaker, really-strong bear-hugger, and juggler of about a million other projjects, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo.

I had read Fat Angie while I was serving on the Rainbow List, and then, not long after, was lucky enough to hear e.E.’s acceptance speech at the Stonewall Book Awards Brunch. I think we were all blown away by her. She had the ability to totally captivate the room and connect with all of us so quickly. Really, I recommend listening to the whole thing. She’s just so warm, and funny, and completely inspiring. I think it was there, at the brunch, that e.E. kindly offered to show her new movie, At-Risk Summer, at my library in Brooklyn, for free.

To ensure a large enough audience, we contacted two schools to view the movie. Due to the large population we served, I had never seen any of the tweens and teens before, nor do I think I ever saw them again. Yet, in the short time it took to show the movie and have a Q+A with e.E., the students were talking about their concerns and fears about their lives in the most frank and honest manner. This is the effect e.E. has on people: You feel like you can tell her anything and your secrets will be safe, free from judgement, with her.

In addition, e.E. has two websites: Never Counted Out: A Creative Revolution to Empower At-Risk Youth, and Big Dreams Write, because apparently she never sleeps.

Here you go, everyone, the last of the mini-interviews:

Ingrid Abrams: When it comes to public speaking, you are a total powerhouse. Your speech at the 2014 Stonewall Brunch made everyone feel motivated, validated, and just totally inspired. Then, when you talked to the kids at my last library, after a showing of your movie At-Risk Summer, you had them opening up and participating in very honest and open conversations. What’s your secret to connecting so well with your audiences?

e.E. Charlton-Trujillo: I think the secret is seeing the value in every person I connect with, with a sincere desire to hear and understand each person’s story. It’s incredibly important not to be dismissive of someone else’s journey, and that requires actively listening. And of course, I have no shortage of enthusiasm. If I’m excited about what I do, audiences will be excited too.

IA: YA literature is becoming more inclusive with every new book, but, when it comes to protagonists, there’s a patent lack of body diversity. Fat/plus-sized characters are few and far between. Why was writing about a girl named Fat Angie important to you?

e.E.: It’s important in the way that any incarnation of a character who is struggling to be seen in the world and struggling with self-acceptance is important. And because there is no one like Fat Angie in teen lit, and young people needed someone like her. And because we all have things we struggle with, that we hurt from, that we have to fight to overcome. That’s what’s important – those are the universal truths that any reader can relate to. Angie’s story transcends race, gender, even sexual orientation.

IA:  Like the title of your movie suggests, you are juggling what seems like a thousand projects devoted to at-risk youth. What do you think is the biggest misconception about this group of kids and teens?

e.E.: The theory seems to be that these kids are uneducated, that they’re problem children, or criminals, or that they’re worthless, that they have no voice and what they have to say doesn’t matter. We lose sight of the fact that these are kids. Kids who face a behemoth of challenges, when what they really need is someone to say “I believe in you” – and mean it. They need to see their value mirrored back to them. So many of these kids have the richest, most exciting ideas. We just have to meet them where they are so they can access it.

IA: What do you do to relax? Do you relax?

e.E.: This is a tough one because I am always thinking about story or empowerment and the brains stays busy. I do meditate and often. It really clears out the noise. Anyone following my Instagram knows I document the world around me. Um, what else? Oh, I’m a music fiend … the full spectrum. And I film this little web-show on occasion called The Taste Buds with author CG Watson. We do it for fun, just because it’s goofy and people seem to enjoy some of our antics.

IA: If you could pick one fictional world to magically insert yourself into, what would it be?

e.E.: You know, if I were going to pick a fictional world it would be for my teen self. It would probably The Outsiders or The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Both are stories about stepping into your own voice and accepting and/or finding your tribe.


Just for funsies, I’m including two affectionately glitter-bombed pictures of e.E., just because I can:

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e.E. reminded me of this picture from my This is What a Librarian Looks Like days, and, if you’ve seen her aforementioned Instagram, you know this is her patented default face:

1111111111111eeeee

Oh, hey, e.E.’s upcoming book is called When We Was Fierce. It’s gotten crazy good reviews and you can look for it in August of this year.

Lastly, once again I kindly ask you to donate to the following:

e.E. also mentioned that she has been involved with an LGBTQ Book Donation Drive. Click through to donate books to the Orlando Youth Alliance.

I hope to see you all in Orlando. If you come to the panel, please come say hi.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Just 5 Things With Robin Stevenson: Author of “Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community”

Add it to your ALA schedulers: Friday, June 24, 5:45-6:30 at the PopTop Stage for “It’s Not Just a G Thing: Exploring the LBTQ (and Beyond) in Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature.” I’ll be moderating a panel of can’t miss authors: Alex Gino, E.M. Kokie, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, and Robin Stevenson, who I’ll be interviewing here. Come for an unscripted discussion about representation in LGBTQ middle grade and YA literature.

I am not going to name all of Robin’s books, because they are plentifulI will talk a bit about her latest book, Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community, which is an essential-to-your-collection non-fiction title that deals with the origin and the history of the Pride parade. The reviews are glowing: Canadian Materials says, “While many books on sexual minorities fail to recognize non-normative gender identities, Stevenson dives right into the complexities of intersex and transgender individuals and their struggles to fit into gay and lesbian movements.” Pride comes “Highly Recommended” from CM Magazine who calls it, “A fantastic achievement, a book that gives serious attention to often ignored groups within LGBT history…This is an incredibly detailed account, considering the short page count, and Pride should be shelved in school libraries and classrooms alike as a more contemporary companion to Ken Setterington’s Branded by the Pink Triangle.” If your library doesn’t own Pride, you need to rectify that quickly. For more info, see the trailer here.

And now, without further ado, here are Just 5 Things With Robin Stevenson:

Ingrid Abrams: In your book Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Communityyou
thoroughly examine a part of our collective history that is often ignored.
What is your favorite piece of queer history or trivia?

Robin Stevenson: It is SO hard to pick just one! I’ve been part of the LGBTQ community for more that 25 years, but when I did the research for this book, I  was amazed at how much of our community’s history I didn’t know. For example, I had never heard of bisexual activist Brenda Howard, who has been called the Mother of Pride. Brenda Howard was there at the Stonewall Riots in 1969, and she was one of the organizers of the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March to mark Stonewall’s anniversary– the event that is generally recognized as the very first Pride parade. Brenda Howard was one of the first people to promote the use of the word Pride. She was a member of the Gay Activists Alliance and the Gay Liberation Front through the 1970s, and she fought for the inclusion of bisexuality at a time when bi people were routinely excluded.

Another piece of history that I loved learning about (see, I really can’t pick just one!) was about the beginnings of LGBTQ high school activism. The first high school group was formed in the early 70s, at NYC’s George Washington High. Called the Gay International Youth Society, this group of mostly queer young people of color is probably the earliest forerunner of today’s high school Gay-Straight Alliances (and Queer Straight Alliances,
Gender-Sexuality Alliances, and Rainbow Clubs, and so on).

IA: Pride required a great deal of painstaking research. What was that
process like for you?

RS: It was incredibly interesting. Pride is my 20th book, but my first work of
non-fiction, and the writing process was completely different. Fiction,
for me, is fairly solitary (me, coffee, computer) but Pride was a very
collaborative effort. I read a lot, of course, but I also had the opportunity to talk to so many people- kids, teens and adults, both local and around the world- about what Pride meant to them. People- from age 10 to 80- shared stories, thoughts, memories and photographs. They offered to read drafts and gave me critical feedback and pointed out things I’d left out. They helped me make the book better, more engaging, and more
inclusive. I found it a very thought-provoking, moving experience and I learned a lot. As a result of writing Pride, I feel more connected with the LGBTQ community- our history, our youth, our victories and ongoing battles for freedom and equality.

IA: Are there any current authors of YA literature you’re excited about?

RS: So many! I am thrilled that there is a new book coming from Benjamin Alire
Saenz– I adored Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets Of The Universe,
and can’t wait to read The Inexplicable Logic of my Life (and the cover is
gorgeous!) Other recent books I have loved include Saving Montgomery Sole
by Mariko Tamaki, Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz, The Last Falling Leaves by
Fox Benwell (formerly published as Sarah Benwell), and The Scorpion Rules 
by Erin Bow. I am so looking forward to Erin Bow’s next book, Swan Riders,
and the new one from Fox Benwell, Kaleidoscope Song.

IA: What’s your favorite guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasure?

RS: Binge-watching Netflix shows while baking cookies and muffins. Currently hooked on The Fosters– queer moms and teen angst!

IA: What’s your favorite question a reader has ever asked you?

RS: At a writing workshop a few weeks ago, an eleven year old asked me “How do
you feel when you are writing?” No one had ever asked me that before and it is a pretty awesome question. I’ve thought about it a lot, since then. I think it’s a good thing to pay attention to.


Robin, like Alex and Emily, is not safe from getting lovingly glitter-bombed. Sorry about it:

1robin
She really has great hair.

Because we’ll be in Orlando and talking Queer books, it’s important to remember how privileged we are to be doing so. Let’s be aware of each other, check in with each other, and take care of ourselves.

In that vein, please consider donating to the following:

I did so myself and encourage you to do the same. They take donations of any size. In addition, you can donate directly to The Center in Orlando (you can find their donation button on the top right-hand corner).

I hope to see you at our panel in Orlando! Come say hi!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Just 5 Things with E.M. Kokie: Author of “Personal Effects” and more

Welcome to my second in a series of mini-interviews with authors I’ll be paneling with at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. The panel is called It’s Not Just a G Thing: Exploring the LBTQ (and Beyond) in Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature, and I really hope you can make it for what I am 100% sure is going to be brimming with some compelling discussion about representation in YA and middle grade titles.

To get you totally hyped up about this all-star panel, I’m conducting mini-interviews with the participants. I’ve already interviewed the lovely Alex Gino and am now super pumped to share this talk with E.M. Kokie.

Hopefully you know E.M. (or Emily, as I’ll be sometimes calling her in this interview), from her novel Personal Effects, which is a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults and Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, and a 2013 IRA Young Adult Honor Book. It received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. School Library Journal said that, “Kokie beautifully crafts a story about the troubled relationships between an emotionally stunted father and his two sons,” and that it’s “a strong choice for reluctant readers and lovers of realistic fiction alike.” In addition, Emily is passionate about social justice issues, especially in the context of y0uth literature, and blogs about it over at The Pirate Tree. In fact you can read about fellow panelists e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Alex Gino over there. Check it out. It’s a great resource.

Oh, and did you know that she’s also a lawyer?

Now, if you please, here are Just 5 Things with E.M. Kokie:

Ingrid Abrams:  How has your background as a lawyer helped you as a writer?

Emily Kokie: I suppose my training as a lawyer helps with my writing, at least in terms of training the way I think and forcing me to become disciplined about writing and revision.  But I think it is more that I have natural tendencies that have helped me become both a lawyer and a writer. I think there is a reason we see so many writers for kids and teens who are also lawyers.  Effective lawyers are very good at putting themselves in other people’s shoes, figuring out what that other person thinks, wants, needs, and will compromise. Effective lawyers are natural storytellers — whether that story is persuading a client to imagine a future scenario, advocating for a client’s goals, examining the what-ifs of the application of laws, or, perhaps the height of storytelling, persuading a jury or court to accept your client’s version of events.  We are often called on to look at competing explanations, look at documents, and figure out what really happened. And so much of that is also what goes into making a good novel — being able to effectively tell someone else’s story, to know how they would feel and what they would want. To understand that people don’t always say what they mean or show who they really are, and so often the greatest truths of a story are hidden between bits of dialogue and action.

IA: Is there a current YA novel that you wish you had when you were a teen?

EK: Oh, there are many. I was a voracious reader, but I didn’t really find books about queer kids — few about queer adults, either — when I was an adolescent. And I didn’t know any out queer people, and the ones I suspected were queer were also people for whom the suspicion meant they were made fun of or ridiculed behind their backs. I didn’t want to be laughed at or worse. And I’d never even heard the term bisexual. So, I spent my teens and a good chunk of my twenties totally confused about my sexuality and worried something was wrong with me, or that I wouldn’t be able to have a good life if I was queer. If I had had books with queer teens then I might have understood myself sooner, and might have felt more able to be who I was. Books like Empress of the World by Sara Ryan, Ask The Passengers by A.S. King, Sister Mischief by Laura Goode, Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger, Ash by Malinda Lo — books that explored friendship and love and showed me queer girls living, loving, questioning, growing, etc. And books that would have expanded my world view beyond the heart of middle-class, predominantly-white suburbia, like How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang.

IA: On The Pirate Tree, you talk a lot about social justice issues. The term “social justice” can be really loaded. What does it mean to you?

EK: I think of social justice in terms of social conscience. To me it means being aware of and interested in the ways in which societies restrict the rights, opportunities, and lives of people without social or political power — whether those restrictions are issues like systemic racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia, constructs like toxic masculinity or imbalances of economic power, and even violence and war.

IA: What literary character, of any genre, would you least like to spend time with?

EK: Well, there are many. I read a lot. But probably the one with whom I would least like to spend time would be Randall Flagg from The Stand by Stephen King.

IA: You’re a huge Buffy fan. Who is your favorite Buffy-verse couple? Fanfic pairings totally count.

EK: And here is where I admit that fandom/fanfiction questions make me anxious, like admitting to deepest secrets and desires. But, I digress… None of the cannon pairings were my end-all-be-all pairings. Willow and Tara felt incredibly important and empowering to me at the time that relationship was first developing on the TV, but it also always felt very sweet to me. Not enough heat. I wish we had had longer to see where Giles/Jenny would have gone. Jenny had potential to be interesting. I wanted more  Faith (though I found the Faith/Wood cannon pairing boring and uninspired). I will admit to being intrigued by a lot of the Buffy/Spike dynamic, as highly problematic as it was (and we could talk for hours about that, and some of the later plot moments I wish had been handled differently).  But in fanfic I’ll read almost any pairing if well done. I am incredibly interested in layered stories that explore these characters as full-fledged adults (though not necessarily as portrayed in the post-series comics). Especially well-done Willow and Faith stories. I wish for a post-series Faith exploring her sexuality. And I was always fascinated with Giles, and the layers of that character — straight-laced facade, a lot of darkness, but good intentions, underneath.  And Giles’ practically-cannon pansexuality has made for a lot of interesting Giles-centric fanfiction. When I first found Buffy-verse fanfiction, I read a lot of Giles/Xander post-series stories and I hunted for Faith/Willow. But since I see almost all of the characters as having fluid sexuality, at least in fanfiction, there is almost no one I wouldn’t ship, if written well.


Since Alex’s post ended with a picture of them being lovingly glitter-bombed, I figured it was only fair that I did the same for Emily:

emkokie
This is how I show people I like them.

Did I mention Emily has a new book coming out in September of this year? Stay tuned for Radical and pre-order it here!

As I mentioned in the previous post, since we’ll be meeting in Orlando, I’d be remiss if I didn’t once again ask you to donate to the following:

I did so myself and encourage you to do the same. They take donations of any size. In addition, you can donate directly to The Center in Orlando (you can find their donation button on the top right-hand corner).

Check back in on Monday, when I’ll be talking with author Robin Stevenson.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Just 5 Things with Alex Gino: Author of “George”

It’s been four months since my last blog post, but I am still here, still librarian-ing, but honestly reeling from a huge career change. Please accept this interview with the tremendous author, Alex Gino, as my sincere apology.

Next week, at ALA in Orlando, I’ll be moderating a panel called It’s Not Just a G Thing: Exploring the LBTQ (and Beyond) in Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature, which features four authors I couldn’t be more super-pumped about: e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Alex Gino, E.M. Kokie, and Robin Stevenson. I thought it would be nice to use this blog as a platform to drum up some excitement for what I am sure to be is a powerful and fascinating discussion. In the next several days leading up to the conference, I hope you will enjoy a series of micro-interviews with these writers that I am thrilled to share the PopTop stage with. Let’s keep YA Queer, y’all.

I have already talked about introducing George to my new school’s fifth and sixth graders, and how special and privileged we were to have Alex Skype in with us. I’ll never forget how lucky I felt that our students could connect with Alex, who responded to their numerous questions with warmth, joy, honesty, and unending patience. After the Skype visit, a student said that she felt like she and Alex were friends now. Students don’t respond to every speaker in this manner, but that’s simply the impact of Alex’s radiant presence. If you haven’t seen Alex speak, I highly suggest you rectify that soon.

And now, I give to you, Just 5 Things with Alex Gino:

Ingrid Abrams: You were kind enough to Skype into my school to talk to my students about George and I know you’ve made lots of connections with your middle grade readers. Have you found any of your interactions with kids surprising?

Alex Gino: I’ve been surprised by the level of maturity and awareness I’ve experienced from kids. I had an 8th grader in Ann Arbor, MI introduce me to the term “gender-designated bathroom” which I love. Certainly, there’s a range of responses, but by and large, these kids have access to language and conversations I couldn’t have dreamed of as a child. I also find that kids tend to ask more interested questions than more adults do, but that doesn’t surprise me in the least.

IA:  Like me, you’re a glitter fanatic. If you had to survive on one color of glitter for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

AG: Really, you’re going to do this to me? I would have to go with traditional silver glitter. Which is not my favorite kind of glitter.  That would be purple. But silver glitter is more flexible. Also, I would like all glitter to be biodegradable and chemically-safe, please.

IA: You’re currently traveling the country in an RV, going to Chicago, NYC, and Richmond, among other places. What’s been your favorite stop so far?

AG: I’m not into “favorites”, because there are so many variables at stake, but I was surprised with how much I liked the Arkansas/Kentucky/Tennessee area.  Gorgeous rolling hills, stunning water, and I even enjoyed the cities I visited.  Chattanooga writers showed me a great time!

IA: What’s one thing you’d like educators to know about reading George with their students or library patrons?

AG: There is no age before which it is appropriate to learn more about yourself and others. Kids are already in the world, and are ready for the conversations.  You can meet kids at their developmental level without being condescending, and let them guide the conversation. Any fears you may have?  They’re yours.  Please don’t pass them on.

IA: Is there a book that got you hooked on reading?

AG: I was one of those annoying kids who read at 3, so I was hooked on reading the moment I was able to decode the letters on the page. But an early love was The Runaway Road by Stan Mack, about a highway that got bored of going to the mountains all the time, so it took a vacation to the beach, taking a family with it. Other childhood greats were Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and The Girl With The Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts.


I thought I’d conclude this interview with a picture that fills my heart with warmth and sparkles. Here’s Alex being totally doused in glitter after winning the Lambda Award for Children’s/Young Adult literature:

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I mean, really. This is too much.

Continue reading “Just 5 Things with Alex Gino: Author of “George””

Glasses and Dimples are My Forever Heroes: An interview with Dana and Lindsey of Jbrary

dimples and glasses

I’m not entirely sure how I first found Jbrary. Twitter, probably. I don’t remember. All I know is, my baby and toddler storytimes have improved 1000-fold since I started frequenting their site. From their bajillion YouTube videos featuring songs on every topic ever (their videos recently surpassed 1 million views! Crazy!), to their general posts about programming, Dana and Lindsey provide invaluable resources for youth librarians. I am a better librarian for having “discovered” Jbrary. If you’re a librarian working with children, especially those under the age of five, I high recommend getting familiar with the bloggy gift that is Jbrary.

Dana and Lindsey, whom I called Dimples and Glasses respectively, before taking the time to actually learn their names, were nice enough to answer some of my questions. I just want everyone to be as pumped about these two as I am. They really represent and embody that “spirit of sharing” vibe I really appreciate about youth librarians.

Jbrary? I salute you, the dynamic duo of children’s librarianship.

dimples and glasses

And now, the interview:


  1. How did you two meet? Did you know that you’d work well together from the beginning?

Dana (Dimples): We first met while doing our MLIS at the University of British Columbia (UBC). I think we bonded over the general craziness of school which blossomed into a friendship as we discovered our shared passion for all things youth services. I know I had a healthy respect for Lindsey as I watched her present in class and I relished any opportunity to work with her. The fact that I could pour my heart out to her over breakfast may also have had a role in cementing our friendship 🙂 When Jbrary started I don’t think either of us knew what it would turn into and just how well we’d work together. Lindsey, did you have any idea?!

Lindsey (Glasses):  I had hopes and dreams! When I started my MLIS at UBC I had just moved to the city and had zero friends in Vancouver.  Dana had an enthusiasm I absolutely loved, so I knew I wanted to become friends if I could convince her I was cool enough. I knew from class projects that we’d work well together.  Our personalities are a very natural fit.

  1. What inspired you to create Jbrary?

L: In one of my MLIS courses I was asked to create and present a storytime.  I kept trying to find songs I could listen to because I wasn’t familiar with many of the “tunes” people listed on their blogs. And the way I learn songs and rhymes is by hearing them, not reading the lyrics.  I did find the King County Library System’s Tell Me a Story song and rhyme database, but it wasn’t organized on YouTube.  I guess I just thought, “I’m running into this information need. A lot of other people are running into this information need. A free video platform exists that could fill this information need.” Initially I had a very narrow audience in mind – just children’s librarians – which was too narrow really. I’m proud of all the different people who use it now.

D: I’ll second that frustration while trying to learn new songs and rhymes. It felt horribly old fashioned to read the rhyme and have to track down someone who knew it, especially in this day and age! Lindsey (being the kickass librarian she is!) took it one step further though and started recording videos on her own. When we found ourselves in the same Social Media class and seeking a final project Lindsey pitched expanding her idea and I could not have been more excited to join her.

Continue reading “Glasses and Dimples are My Forever Heroes: An interview with Dana and Lindsey of Jbrary”

Cover Your Library in Glitter and Lights: An Interview with Rachel Moani

One of my most lurked on librarian blogs was run by the very talented Rachel Moani, a Youth Services Associate in Washington state. She posted the most beautiful and breathtaking library displays I had ever seen. Rachel’s library was populated by dinosaurs, massive flying dragons, candy-colored castles big enough to hide in, glittery lightning storms, and twinkling lights. I was totally enamored by the library atmosphere she created and could only imagine how captivated her child and teen patrons must be.

One day, that website disappeared, and I spent a while searching for where her work was now displayed. I found a Pinterest page, thankfully, but I set to work trying to actually find and contact Rachel. Through the magic of social media, I tracked her down for an interview. I want all of you to become super Rachel-fan-girls, just like me.

I hope you find Rachel’s work as exciting and important as I do.


Ingrid Abrams:  Which came first, the art or the librarianship? How did you come to combine them?

Rachel Moani: Art came first, though during the past five years in libraries I’ve attacked projects and learned skills I never would have thought to acquire if I wasn’t putting up a seasonal book display. I’ve been having a wild and enthusiastic love affair with cardboard thanks to libraries.  Before, I’d always been more of a doodler/painter. Working in a children’s section of a library with very neutral décor, adding color and vibrancy where I could made sense to me.

IA: What was the most complicated display you ever pulled off?

RM: I like a challenge, so most of them push my limits in some way, but if I had to choose I’d say my stegosaurus, I think. It’s in six parts, all together she’s 35 feet long and 15 feet high. Hanging each piece individually while making it look like it’s hung as one piece was a challenge. I looked up a picture of a little balsa wood stegosaurus toy model and blew it up x1bazillion. Mathematical. Though the thing that cracks me up is: I spent all summer perfecting the dinosaur skeleton (for the “Dig into Reading!” theme) and then Banned Books week totally surprised me. So I whipped up a little banned books display in a few rushed, distracted hours – and that was the one that hit it big. Practically no one noticed the dino- Lolz!

Dinosaur Construction (Rachel Moani)Banned Books Display At the Lacey Library

IA: How in the WORLD did you get that dragon to hang from the ceiling?

RM: I’m pretty lucky to have a really supportive Lacey City staff, they put in a set of pulleys for me, so I can lift my crafts into our vaulted library ceiling.  Figuring out dimensions/weight/material quantity is a fun way to brush up on all that high school math I never thought I’d use.The Dragon

IA: What kinds of reactions do staff and patrons have to your displays?

RM: My castle right now is really fun, because kids can tug and touch and pull on it. I’m surprised by how long it’s lasted, and that it seems to be dying so gracefully. I thought it would go in a blaze of ripped up glory after a month or two, but it’s been up almost a year! I am obsessed with Yayoi Kusama, the greatest polka dot artist of our time, and I wanted to make something inspired by her installations. So every time kids come to the library, they put one sticker on the castle. My regular patrons, even the babies, now automatically come to the desk to choose their sticker. Which means I get a patron interaction with every visit, even with the ones who have always been too shy to talk with me. Just look at some of the adorable things they write on them!

Put a sticker on the Castle!)

stickers castle

stickers castle 2

IA: Tell me about your favorite display.

RM: Oh, I loved my ‘Dream Big’ chapter book display. But it was all glitter, twinkle lights, and fairy tales, so no surprise there.

DreamBig3

IA: What advice do you have for non-artsy, non-craftily talented librarians who strive create stunning displays like yours?

RM: I get so many great ideas from other creative people out there, and I love helping a fellow book displayer out! I know Pinterest isn’t an ideal place to comment and get responses, but I do try to always  respond if someone has a specific craft question. Craft! Have Fun! Take suggestions from the children at your library! Be bold!


There are so many librarians I admire and aspire to be like, and Rachel is definitely one of them. It was such an honor to get to talk to her. If there’s a library in heaven, it looks like this. Click here to check out her gorgeous Pinterest page.

 ~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
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PS: Rachel keeps a visual diary, and she was kind enough to share this with me:
magpie