I bit right into the fortune cookie to break it, and a piece of the paper ripped away and landed on my tongue. I spit it out, pulled the rest of the paper out from the rest of the cookie, and recombined them. It said, “Your judgement is a little off right now.” I should’ve taken a picture of it and posted it here, but instead I finished eating the cookie, threw both pieces of the fortune in the plastic sack along with the empty styrofoam container, turned the ignition, and drove back to work.

Digital Detritus, Top Ramen, and the Singularity

Tonight, on a whim on a Saturday evening, I opened the Vine app on my phone. The app immediately commenced an upload process. As I nervously watched that bright green bar grow from left to right, I vaguely recalled that I had once had trouble and repeated errors uploading a Vine I had made. However, I could not remember what it was about. After the upload errors I must have gotten distracted and closed the app, and never opened it again until now. I was curious but a little preemptively embarrassed as to what this video might be that was about to be shared. The curiosity won and I let the app go through its process. Within seconds it had successfully posted my little video, which turned out to be the one you see above of some humble but deliberate dinner preparations. Probably from some prior Saturday evening whim. 

Of special note is the fact that it was only last night that I erased and restored my phone from a backup. This means that my tenacious little ramen noodle clip managed to maintain and preserve itself through multiple app errors and crashes, and then weeks, possibly months later, a phone data backup and a fresh installation of the Vine app. Waiting, hoping for that one sweet moment when, by choice or accident, my all-powerful finger would touch the cursive v in the green square to open the app and allow it to once again attempt its upload process, all so that my little courageous video could join its glorious, eternally looping family in the cloud.

I think I ostensibly made this Vine to make fun of all the video recipes that my friends share on Facebook. I actually really do love this meal, though. I think I make it at least once a week. 

I have some confidence that on that day, the robots will still want to take care of us. We’ve spent all this time showing them what we love, so they will love it too.

Rabbit Holes

I really liked this TED talk I heard last night on my local public radio station about reinventing the encyclopedia game for the 21st century, feeding curiosity, going down rabbit holes, learning new things, etc. Without realizing it, I’ve pretty much been playing his exact game on Wikipedia and elsewhere on the Internet for years now. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s revelatory. Sometimes it is actually just a distraction from other better things to be doing.

The way he pulls together so many random things in his talk, in an almost poetic way, has inspired me to restart my previously infrequent #WhatWeLearnedToday posts. It has also apparently inspired me to expand beyond the world of 140 characters, a place I haven’t been for a while. I wanted to tweet my thoughts about this TED talk and I soon discovered I had a bit more to say than could fit in one tweet. I had kind of forgotten that there are other platforms and means of sharing things that are not bound by the strictures of Twitter or Facebook, so here we are. For nostalgia and to give a better idea of what I am talking about, here are some of my previous twitter-bound examples where I explored random items of interest and then bothered to share about what I learned to anyone who might care:

Speaking of rabbit holes, we received this beautiful new edition of Alice in Wonderland in the office with a box of review books.

Now I think I really need to read it again. Trying to decide if I could read it to my kids yet.

A Note About 'Okapi Robot Tree'

Screenshot of old Okapi Robot Tree Site

Okapi Robot Tree was a blog I maintained from time to time for a couple of years that centered primarily on children's literature, with occasional library and social media quandaries. So, not all that different from this blog. It began at the URL and then for some time could be found at It is now archived on this site via the Okapi Robot Tree tag, since I think some of the posts are decent and I wanted to preserve them.

Text of the Original "About" Page of Okapi Robot Tree

My name is Josh Whiting. I like children’s literature, and I am exploring and writing about it here. I may start writing it myself, too, but I’ll probably keep the specifics of that a secret. I am a digital resources manager and cataloging librarian for a public school district. I am a husband and a father of two little people. I run a school district library web site here. I try to keep my tweets slightly more professional and rational here. I write and tweet totally random stuff here, but mostly about music, art, culture, food, etc., and it’s probably not nearly as weird as I wish or hope it would be.

This is a work in progress, and I don’t just mean this blog.

Here are some foundational posts that explain a little more about my goals for this blog, and my experience and perspective:

About the Okapi

Three Tales of

Three Tales of My Father's Dragon

This is the first chapter book (technically 3 books in one) I read out loud to my son. We just finished it the other night. He liked it.

I read portions of it to my daughter, too, but she mostly rolled on the floor, climbed around on her bed, interjected random statements about My Little Pony, and otherwise didn’t pay attention to it. That’s okay.

mad stacks

Here is the stack of chapter books I gave him from which to choose the second chapter book we would read together.

Rainbow Magic Special Edition | Kylie the Carnival Fairy

Here is the book he chose from that stack.

My Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2014 (So Far)

[First posted on 2015.01.07 – Most recently bumped with updates on 2015.01.25]

2014 may be over, but I’m not over reading books from it. I may even continue to update this list from time to time as I read more books I didn’t get to in 2014 or that I discovered from everyone else’s great “Best of 2014” lists, in which case I’ll likely bump it to the top.

Feel free to read a littlbe bit into the order. They are roughly in descending order according to just how much I liked them.


The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

(The Riverman is my secret, dark-horse pick for the 2015 Newbery. I have to mention that in case it actually happens.)


Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

(Brown Girl Dreaming is my official prediction for the 2015 Newbery.)


A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

(I wish there was a cool debut middle grade author award.  I would give it to Natalie Lloyd for this book for sure.)


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


Revolution by Deborah Wiles


The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier


The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson


Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson


The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm


The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson


The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen


The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel


The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage