Thursday, January 31, 2013


Next is the Caldecott, celebrating its 75th year of awarding illustrators for their creativity.  This was my happy place because Jon Klassen won for "This Is Not My Hat".  If you have not read Klassen's books, please do so at the first opportunity.  They are delightful!  We all know it is wrong to take things that don't belong to us but the way Jon shows us that truth is far from didactic or preachy.  There were five honor books this year! (It's OK - they were celebrating their 75th birthday after all.)  "Creepy Carrots" illustrated by Peter Brown -a bunny is taking carrots that don't belong to him - see what the carrots do!; "Extra Yarn" illustrated by (guess who!) Jon Klassen! - a young girl spreads joy everywhere by knitting from a box of yarn that never runs out until an evil Archduke steals it from her; "Green" by Laura Vaccaro Seeger which pays homage to the color green - this one can be read over and over again; lots of new things to discover!  I have not personally read the last two -  "One Cool Friend" illustrated by David Small and "Sleep Like A Tiger" by Pamela Zagarenski so I will have to wait to talk about them. 

  Have you read any of these books?  What did you think of the awards?  Happy, sad, mad?  There are always other books out there that you would like to see win - but I was happy with this year's results.  It's rare that I have read so many - I don't know if that's because I made a concerted effort to read more of the books that had a bit of buzz surrounding them or if I was just "three times lucky" in my book choices this year.  I'm happy to tell you more about a specific title if you like - I just don't have the space to do it here. My first draft for my imaginary database has been submitted.  I am creating a database of award-winning children's books.  Based on an imaginary assignment at imaginary elementary schools.... but fortunately using REAL books!  


Tuesday, January 29, 2013


As many of you probably know, the Youth Media Awards were announced in Seattle yesterday. The announcements are made at the American Library Association's mid-year conference, which happened to be in Seattle this year - just for clarification.  

In library land, this is a big deal.  If you watch the YouTube from the announcements, you can sort of see and hear that it's a big deal - lots of yelling and clapping and screaming.  Apparently even the stage lights were excited - they kept flashing red which is called a "Ballyhoo".  I'll have to ask my son about that one...  

But just in case you have not heard about all the winners and honor books, I thought I would do a bit of a recap.  
The last book to be announced is the John Newbery - so I will start there.  Newbery's have been handed out since 1922.  (and I ALWAYS want to spell Newbery with two r's....)  Do the math - that's a lot of books!  There is the big winner and then there are honor books.  The winner this year was "The One and Only Ivan" by Katherine Applegate.  Remember the Animorph books?  My boys LOVED them!  This is the same Katherine Applegate.  Only Ivan is a book about a gorilla who lives in a glass cage in a mall.  It's a great book - and I'm very happy that it won!  The Honor books were "Splendors and Glooms" by Laura Amy Schlitz, "Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon" by Steve Sheinkin, and "Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage.  I have actually read three of the four winners (not Bomb) and I recommend them all.  "Splendors and Glooms" is a bit on the dark side; "Three Times Lucky" is just a fun Southern romp.  Bravo Newbery committee!

More to come later!  For now, I have to go work on my make believe collection for my make believe database for my very real class....  Oh - when I checked yesterday, the first three chapters of "Splendors and Glooms" was free on Amazon.  Not sure if that is still the case, though!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I finished two picture books today - one cute and one on the more serious side.  
We will start with cute - "It's All About Me-Ow" written and illustrated by Hudson Talbott.  This book was sitting on the cart, waiting to be shelved, and it caught my eye for two reasons.  One - my precious granddaughter likes to call kitty cats "Meeows" and two - one of the kittens on the cover looks a little bit like Motel, her kitty.  So I figured I had best read it!  It's quite adorable - the older, established cat of the household is teaching the new kittens all about the wonders of being a cat and having the appropriate catitude.  My favorite line is, "Purring - saying so much with so little."  If you have cats or if you like cats or even if you don't like cats (it will explain sooo much about cats), this is a must-read.  

It's All About Me-Ow

The next book is "Each Kindness" by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis.  I had the extraordinary pleasure of hearing Ms. Woodson speak at ALA a few years ago.  I don't know about you - but whenever I hear an author or illustrator talk about their work, it just opens up wonderful new layers of understanding behind what they have written and/or drawn.  After hearing her speak at ALA, I read "The Other Side", also illustrated by E. B. Lewis.  So when I heard about "Each Kindness", I knew I wanted to read it also. 
The story is told by Chloe.  One day, the principal brings a new girl into their class and she sits by Chloe.  The new girl tries to be friends, but Chloe does not want to be her friend.  So no matter how many times the girl reaches out to her, Chloe turns away.  The Bible tells us to "put on kindness" in Colossians 3:12.  This books is a gentle reminder of how important that is. 
 It's a picture book so it won't take long to read it - but it will stay with you for a long while.  

Each Kindness

Friday, January 18, 2013


and pass the vinegar and baking soda!  Today's movie adventure was "The Pirates:  Band of Misfits", also nominated for an Academy Award for Animated Feature. Pirates.  Charles Darwin.  And Queen Victoria as the bad guy - er - girl - er - monarch?   It was cute.  But I don't think it's Oscar material.  Though the vinegar and baking soda is pretty impressive.  

Yesterday's movie was "Mirror, Mirror" which is nominated for Best Costume Design.  I can't imagine it would be nominated for anything else.  I am not sure if it was poorly edited or just a bad script to start with - it had interesting bits.  I liked the mirror effect; I enjoyed the dwarfs, I liked Sean Bean as the King.  Small side notes I am glad I saw it because Armie Hammer, who played the Prince, is going to be the Lone Ranger.  And Lily Collins, who played Snow White, is going to be Clary Fray in City of Bones.  Now that should be interesting.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Yes - I think that sums up Frankenweenie fairly well.  And a bit of subtle humor; one review said, "Hilarious" but - I don't really think it was hilarious. Fun, yes - and it did spin quite a bit of  humor on old black and white horror movies.  I am attempting to watch the films nominated for Best Animated Feature Film before the Oscars.  I saw Paranorman and Brave in the theater and today I watched Frankenweenie.  If you are a fan of Tim Burton, you have probably already seen it.  If not - borrow it from your local library.  It is not one I would want to own but that's me.  I would love to see Paranorman win but I am guessing Brave will get the nod.  Unless the academy decides to let Mr. Burton have the Oscar...  Time will tell!  The Pirates: Band of Misfits is the next one we will watch.  I don't think Wreck-It Ralph will be available on DVD before the Oscars.  


On the Road to Mr. Mineo's

By Barbara O'Connor - 
I checked this book out from the library.  I had heard good buzz about it so decided to read it.  It's about life in a small South Carolina town - Meadville.  It's summer and it's hot - folks are stuck in their own rut; doing the same thing every day.  Until a one-legged pigeon named Sherman makes his appearance and brings a bit of chaos into everyone's life.  

This is a fun book.  It's short (192 pages) and each chapter in the book is also short which would make it a great read-aloud choice for elementary aged kids - 4th and 5th graders.  There is mention of both adults and kids "cussing" but no actual  "cuss words" appear in the book.  Lots of discussion possibilities about what they would have done in certain circumstances.  

On the Road to Mr. Mineo's

Monday, January 14, 2013

School's back in session!

(Think Alice Cooper song lyrics - only in reverse!)  And it looks like quite the challenging semester is up ahead.  In preparation, I finished one more back last night - The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.  This one is actually classified as adult fiction - though teens might enjoy reading it also.   It takes place on the Wolverine River in Alaska in 1920 (which is apparently fictional - since there is a Wolverine Creek in Alaska, but not a river).   Mabel and Jack are in their 50s and have moved to Alaska from Pennsylvania - homesteading in the Alaska wilderness.  They have no children - they did have one baby in PA, born prematurely, who did not survive.  And their longing for children is a driving force in the book.  The book has so many layers - I really enjoyed it.  It's a gentle read which is interesting when you consider that homesteading in Alaska is anything but gentle.  And it is also many different things - a retelling of an old Russian fairy tale; a tale of community and pitching in together to help a neighbor in need; a couple of love stories; a tale of remembering old passions (as in a passion for art, for example).  It also involves magical realism to some extent - which the author pretty much leaves up to you.  I think it would be an excellent book club choice because there will be those that love it, those that like it, and those that do not like it at all.  Below, from Eowyn's blog, are the US cover and the UK cover.  Which do you prefer?

Friday, January 11, 2013


At last - it is here!  Neil Gaiman's new book - "Chu's Day"!
Chu is a panda.  Chu sometimes sneezes.  Will he sneeze at the library?  Or at the diner?  You will just have to read this wonderful new picture book and find out!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eighth day of January

And another book is finished! I actually finished at 1:00 AM this morning
 so that counts for today, yes? 
The book added to my "Read" shelf is Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Geir.
This was book the second in the Ruby Red Trilogy. The book further develops the relationship between Gwyneth (Gwen) and Gideon, a fellow time travel gene carrier who is two years older than Gwyneth. We learn a bit more about the secrets behind the historical time travel society - The Guild. But the obvious answers are still not revealed to Gwen. As an adult reading the books, I find them somewhat predictable and a bit heavy on the "now he loves me, now he doesn't" view of life. But I do look forward to seeing how the mystery is resolved, how the secrets will be revealed and how Gwyneth will respond when they are. Recommended for tweens and YAs who enjoy a good love story, mystery, time travel and precocious gargoyles.


I also watched a movie today - "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". This was one that I had wanted to see for quite some time but decided to wait until I could borrow it from the library. With a cast of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Billy Nighy, Penelope Wilton - well, it would be sort of like Downton in India..... It was an enjoyable film. Nothing earth shattering - but a fun movie. I am still a bit perplexed that a rather rundown hotel in India - where the phones did not work well - had WiFi available for Dame Judith to keep up with her blog. But there you have it - India is a country full of surprises. And I have firmly assured my DH that I have absolutely no desire to go there.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Oh look - I finished another book!
This is the first in a series.   I would say the main element is time travel.  In the first book, we are introduced to two families that carry a time travel "gene".  Since her birth (on a date that was foretold!), Charlotte has been groomed to be the next time traveler.  Unfortunately, it turns out that the carrier of the gene is her cousin, Gwyneth.  There is a bit of history, a bit of romance and LOTS of unanswered questions.  I am looking forward to reading the next book, "Sapphire Blue", which will hopefully provide a few answers.  And maybe Gwyneth will heed the advice she has been given to "Trust no one."

I have committed to read fifty five books this year.  Three down!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sorry - my blog is being a bit strange -- but this is the second book I read this week - 

"Days of Blood and Starlight" by Laini Taylor - #2 in the "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" series. Seraphim and chimaera locked in a neverending battle. And Karou - the blue-haired girl we met in "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is back to try to reconcile who she is with her love for Akiva. Love and hate; death and resurrection; true friendship. I found it a bit confusing at first but the pieces finally started to fall into place. It is a series so if you want to read them all together, you'll have to wait a bit for Book #3 - also, not for the faint of heart and for the older end of the YA spectrum, methinks.

What have you been reading over the holidays?  Did you receive any books for Christmas?  Or did you give any?  I gave LOTS of books this year.  I received a cookbook and a devotion - "Heart of the Matter" from CCEF.  

Talk to you soon!

Happy 2013!

I am sorry I have neglected my blog - I did manage to finish up my first semester back to school!  Huzzah!  And then the holidays descended with a whoosh!  And even with a White Christmas - which in our neck of the woods is  a rarity!  

But I have been reading.  In fact, I even won a Kindle at Staff Development Day at my library.  So now I have lots of free books on my Kindle.  I think I may have actually even paid a small pittance for one of them....  

So let me tell you about a couple of YA books that I finished reading this week.  The first is "Crewel" by Gennifer Albin

Just to be fair - Amazon had the first five chapters of this book available for free on Kindle. Once I started reading it, I was hooked (not intending to pun the Crewel title...)
If you liked "The Giver" by Lois Lowry or "The Hunger Games" by Collins - or if you enjoyed the Matrix movies - then you should give "Crewel" a try. It is a post-apocalypse story and the premise is that our world is woven by women - called Spinsters - who are selected because of their abilities to weave on a loom. Adelice has reached the age to be tested but her parents do not want her to be a "Spinster" so they have trained her to hide her talent. And that is how the story begins - with Adelice being compelled to reveal her hidden talents and being swept into the world of the weavers. 
Very original premise. I will be interested to read the second book.

Crewel by Gennifer Albin