Monday, August 19, 2013

KEEPER OF WONDER: Interview with Annie Pendergrass

For the next in our Keeper of Wonder series, may I introduce Annie! (@annievalene on Twitter) Another Huntsville, Alabama book girl, she's here to talk about picture books and more! 

So you're a librarian! Tell us about it.

My name is Annie Pendergrass and I never planned on being a librarian. I went to college to study Art History but ended up getting swept up in Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and an insatiable love for the English language and grammar. At the time, I decided the only path I could possibly take was to be an English teacher, but one day I overhead a classmate talking about her plans to get a degree in Library Science. I honestly had no idea that one could get a degree in Library Science and make a career in libraries but it planted the seed of curiosity. I went on to begin graduate work in education at Boston College and, not but a few weeks into my first semester, decided that what I really wanted to explore was librarianship! I then applied for graduate school at several universities known for their Library Science programs, began working circulation in my city’s library system, and the rest is history!

Tell us about your library.

My library, the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, is one of the busiest in my entire state of Alabama! We are a twelve branch system serving an extremely diverse population, from inner-city to rural areas. Each of our locations has its own unique atmosphere, but they all excel at providing what patrons want and making them feel that it truly is the public’s library. We are also proud of our extensive outreach efforts to children, the elderly, and other underserved populations. We consider children’s and family services to be our “bread and butter,” so to speak, and focus on high-quality programming for children and their families year-long. From puppet shows to arts and crafts, we do it all! (sounds like an amazing system!)

What was the most recent book request?

Being that I work with children, I always hear requests to read Go Away, Big Green Monster! Seriously, this is the book they always seem to remember and want to hear over and over again. Another book that every child gets excited about is Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes! Pull this title out of your book bag and you will undoubtedly be commanded to “Read it again!!! ”

What was your most recent book suggestion to a patron?

Because I work in Outreach Services I don’t have the daily interaction that some of our library staff have with patrons, but I find myself recommending books to my friends with small children a lot. Some of my favorites to tell them about: Pigeon books by Mo Willems, Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd, Bark George! by Jules Feiffer, and, of course, Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley.

What was your most recent book suggestion to a friend?

White Noise by Don DiLillo for adult reads, and the Pacy Lin series by Grace Lin for kid reads. (My TBR list is growing exponentially!)

If you could sit down to your favorite beverage with any current kidlit author, who would it be? And why?

Mo Willems!!! I feel like he totally changed what we expect from picture books: reading a Mo Willems book is like performance art, and when it works well it’s absolute, hilarious magic. Plus, I really admire an illustrator who can be so bold and simplistic while not sacrificing sophistication. (Oh fun one! I wonder what he'd drink?)

What book do you wish you had in your library but don’t?

Thankfully our collection is very well-rounded system-wide, but if the sky’s the limit I’d have to say that having a signed copy of any Harry Potter volume on display would be so awesome!

What’s the biggest librarian stereotype? How do you fit snugly within it? What makes you bust wholly out of it?

I think librarians can be viewed as boring, bland, unsociable and not prone to be the adventurous type. I am pretty unsociable once I leave work, but mainly because I find nothing more relaxing than going home, reading a good book or watching a good film, and escaping into my own world. As for busting wholly out of it where being boring and bland is concerned, there’s no room for a stick-in-the-mud at story time! We children’s librarians are singing and dancing fools who love to ham it up for the kids. Plus, is there anything more adventurous than working with the general public on a daily basis? (Ha! Truer words...)

Five favorite books of the past five years. 

1.) Just One Day by Gayle Forman 
2.) Wonder by R.J. Palacio 
3.) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
4.) Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly  
5.) Dumpling Days by Grace Lin

Thanks so much for stopping by Annie!


  1. More books to add to my list! And I totally agree--there's nothing more adventurous than working with the public ;)

  2. Thanks Jaye and Annie for this awesome interview! I met Mo Willems (briefly) and could have asked him about that dinner, but blew the chance and asked him a question about writing humor. ;)

    Love the new book recommends!

  3. I just got one of Mo Willem's books and really liked it(in fact I wanted to show it to my bro-in-law too, lol).

  4. I love Pete the Cat! Great interview!


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