Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween. This holiday just isn't as much fun when you don't have a little one around. Mary called to say MJ was going trick or treating as Tigger but he doesn't like how warm the costume is. But, I am sure once he figures out he is getting candy out of the deal he will decide it is okay. He certainly takes after Gramma and Mom with his sweet tooth. Buffy offered to lend up her Fiona before and after Midnight costumes but Steve wasn't too keen on going out as a female ogre in a tiara! We'll be party poopers and stay home tonight.

I had written a long posting on Friday and lost it when I tried to spell check it. GRRR!! It was about Shyam Selvadurai's Swimming in the Monsoon Sea. What a beautifully written coming of age novel set in 1980s Sri Lanka. Fourteen-year-old Amrith, the "adopted" son of his mother's best friend, is quite naive and doesn't realize that his jealousy over his newly met older cousin's attraction to his "sister" is because he, himself, is sexually attracted to and in love with him. Discovering he is different from the other boys is not a welcome revelation to Amrith, but with time he comes to accept himself and his mother's death. Selvadurai is a gifted writer and if Funny Boy, his first novel written in 1994, is as beautifully crafted as Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, one cannot question why he received both the Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea is published by Tundra Books - one of the Canadian publishers I look at closely as their YA novels are always quite unique and wonderful for booktalking. Two of my favorite Tundra YA novels to booktalk are Mercy's Birds by Linda Holeman and More Than You Can Chew by Marnelle Tokio.

I'll end today's blog with a fun Halloween read for the little ones by Elizabeth Spurr - Halloween Sky Ride, a delightful rhyming Holiday House title. Witch Mildred is on her way to the Witches' Wobble, but along the way she picks up hitchhikers - a skeleton, a jack-o-lantern, a scared ghost, a cold mummy, a bat, and a lonely black cat - but the load is too much and the broom breaks. Not a problem - they are in the front yard of the Witches' Wobble. Big problem - all the food is gone - those greedy goblins ate all. Problem solved - the witch and her riders are welcomed with open arms to the neighbor's party where they eat candied apples and drink sweet lemonade. A delightful, not at all scary, look at some of our favorite Halloween characters.

Back to finding the top of my desk! The piles of books are teetering a bit to precariously for me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Thirteen papers later my brain is mush! Grading online is a bit different than having the paper in front of you on paper, but the mark changes option in Word allows me to make comments and corrections on the papers so I actually do better with it. I am just stuck in front of a computer while I grade. Was talking to Buffy on the phone a bit ago and she suggested I get my butt on the deck with the laptop while I write or grade so I can get some color in this white face of mine. I am probably the palest local on the island! But, I have less "laugh lines" on my face than most of the women down here my age! Not sure what is worse - lines or being fish belly white.

Steve and I are having withdrawal. Shipwreck is closed down for renovation and the whole staff is off on vacation together. The owner takes his staff on a cruise, or to Mexico, etc. every year. I think that is pretty cool, but I really want my 1/2 of a Shipwreck burger and fries fix on Saturdays! I had a club sandwich at Tickles last Sat. and it just wasn't the same.

Finished listening to Michael Gruber's Witch Boy yesterday. I was not thrilled with the narrator's voice, which had a negative impact on how much I could enjoy this book. It got a bit long in parts and the main character - a ugly foundling raised by a witch and called Lump - was not terribly likeable until the very end of the book where he redeemed himself. Woven into the tale are recognizable folktale characters, such as Hansel and Gretel, who have been lovingly raised by the witch in the forest. A bit different than the tale we all know. Lump's name is actually Rumplestiltskin so you can just imagine how that tale is interwoven into the story of Lump's mad obsession with the miller's daughter. Offer this one to the younger teens who are beyond Harry Potter - even if they don't get the references to the Grimm's tales they will enjoy the coming of age tale of an ugly foundling child who grows up to be a not so ugly man.

Before I read The Good Lion by Beryle Markham and adapted and illustrated by Don Brown I hadn't heard of Beryle Markham, who moved to East Africa when she was three. This picture book is one incident in her young life when a "tame" lion on a friend's property decided she was prey. She was not seriously hurt, but the lion was caged for the rest of his life. Markham was saddened by the lion being punished for his natural behavior. A picture book to share with older children or teens - a good discussion starter.

All for now. I am ready to chill and watch the news.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Getting a slow start this early Tuesday morning. I love being at Montessori once I get there, but it is the getting up and getting there that kills me. I am so NOT a morning person! But, I am such an anal person that I find great pleasure in locating the exact MARC record I need and adding the local holdings as I build the database for the online catalog and circulation.

During one of the power outages last week I curled up and read through the three ring binder full of snippets written by a very prolific writer who is also a parent at Montessori. Buffy and I chat about books, writing and just about everything else under the sun when she pops through the library in the morning. This collection should be called Sassy Snippets! She has a sassy tongue and wonderfully naughty sense of humor. I was laughing out loud at some of Jesse's antics (he told her he had a woody and when she looked down he indeed did - Woody was on his Toy Story undies!). This is the perfect example of how life experience defines how we react to a statement! And then my throat closed up and my eyes teared while reading about her unconditional love for her son. Buffy takes you through a myriad of feelings and responses - from disgust, to laughter, to tears, to meditation. Hopefully she will be able to publish some of these little gems in magazines or elsewhere as a collection.

Staying in the adult frame of mind this a.m. I am sending out a recommendation to all those other "hot" (as in flashes) women out there! If you want to feel like you are not alone in this read The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again by Nancy Thayer. It is hilarious. I related more to the younger group of women the Hot Flash club was mentoring, but at least I know what I have to look forward to in my 50s and 60s! What a hoot. This title is in the middle of three about this group of women. Now I need to order the other two from B&N. I picked this one up in the airport in Charlotte because the title on the cover made me laugh when I read it.

Straying back to the children's literature mode, I have to recommend Pamela Duncan Edwards' (author of the beloved Some Smug Slug) new book, The Bus Ride That Changed History: The Story of Rosa Parks from Houghton Mifflin. There are many books out there about Rosa Parks, but this one is unique in that it has a "The House that Jack Built" cumulative text that children will love to join in on as you read. Add to that the conversation balloons of children who are talking about what it was like to live during segregation - separate water fountains, etc. The children and their converation baloons are on the bottom of the page, below the large illustrations that go along with the text. A must have for school library collections.

Okay, time to load up the diet coke and head out.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Yahoo! The Internet is back up and working. We have so many problems with Innovative DSL Internet service down here. The drop rate is incredible. There are times we can't even stay online long enough to finish what we are doing on a web site. This morning was one of those times. I finally gave up and actually cleaned for awhile. How disgusting is that! But, it did force me to look through some of the children's books I have piled around the living room and find the 5 books for my latest Reader's Advisory column for Library Media Connection. Got that sent in a bit ago.

I also took some time out to sit in the sun and finish Tim Bowler's Apocalypse. Oh my - what an incredible book. I loved Firmament so I had a feeling I was going to like this one. And, when I read the blurb on the book jacket that refers to a family sailing into fog and wrecking on an island inhabited by a group of religious fanatics I was hooked into reading it. My hair still raises on my arms as I think of a 15 year old boy realizing that a naked man with a birth mark on his neck and face, who the islanders call the Devil, is his twin, just many years older than he is. And, that the tiny boat he bent over to pick up from the water that is handed to him through the waves by the very same man and caused him to lose focus and run their sailboat onto the rocks, is the prayer boat of the wild girl Ula. She was asking for help and some how the man thought Kit could be her savior. But, she is the one who keeps Kit alive on the island after his parents disappear. Add to that a shrieking sea serpent that causes waves of tidal wave proportion to cleanse the island, ghosts from long dead islanders who chill Kit to the bone, and blood thirsty fear-of-the-Devil crazed islanders, brandishing clubs. In other words, once you pick this book up to read it, it won't let you go, even after you have finished it. My brain is still roiling with questions and I know I am going to go back and read this one again. Adventure, mystery, intrigue, and horror all rolled up into one beautifully written novel. Oh my but Bowler is good!

Was working on a column discussing picture book biographies and really enjoyed the fictional account of Henry David Thoreau's time in his cabin and the fear that his woods would be used to make toothpicks! Check it out in The Trouble with Henry: The Tale of Walden Pond by Deborah O'Neal. You can't help but chuckle over his deaf aunt shouting out that he is nothing but "a crazy little rooster." :-)

All for now. The sun is setting and I do hope Steve is bringing home some diet coke. I am having withdrawal twitches as I type!

Friday, October 21, 2005

After reading what Wilma is doing to Cancun and could be doing to Florida in a few days I should not be fussing over our winds and rain squalls. But, I gotta admit I am getting tired of the rain. The white caps on the ocean are pretty though. I am just glad I am not on one of those ferries bound for St. John and Tortolla that are bouncing by.

We started watching The Chronicle of Riddick last night. What a strange movie! I am not a big SF movie person but this is one of those you just keep watching because it is so creepy. Guess we will finish it tonight - we have the director's un-cut version so it is looong. I never know what Steve is going to pick via our Blockbuster online. For awhile it was the old episode of The Prisoner. I could never figure out why the guy couldn't say anything in a normal tone of voice - he had to scream it. Gave me a headache.

But, Matthue Roth's Never Mind the Goldberg certainly didn't give me a headache. What a fun and educational reading experience. I now know a lot more about Orthodox Jews than I ever did before. That is one of the things I love about this book - a teen reader can relate to Hava as she is a typical teenager (has an attitude and love anything punk) in many ways, but her life is built around her religious views and mandates. Pretty hard to be in a heavy metal mosh pit and not touch a male in the crowd. Consume large amounts of alcohol, but only kosher varieties. Hava is one of the most delightful novel characters I have read about - the only true Orthodox Jew acting in a sitcom about an Orthodox Jewish family. The baby hollering "osser" all the time is hilarious. What I do wish was included is a glossary of the Yiddish terms that are used throughout the book. In most cases I could figure them out from the context, but an affirmative glossary would have helped. Although there are plenty of new 2005 YA novels to choose from, there isn't another one like this Scholastic Push offering - it is raw, gritty and very Jewish! :-) Booktalk it and it will find a wide readership. Also give Roth's website to the teens - Fun site to browse through - he is also a musician. As Hava says, "Oy vey, dude!"

Shoe Baby by Joyce Dunbar is sitting on my desk in front of me. I love the bright blue cover with the exuberant illustration of a smiling baby inside a giant shoe. What fun - the rhyming text has the baby visiting the ocean, the zoo, having tea with the King and Queen, while asking everyone, "How do you do?" Finally he falls asleep to wake up to a giant fussing over his lost shoe and a giant mother crying over her lost baby - who, of course, is the infant in the shoe. Great book to read aloud to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The rhyme romps along with the baby and the illustrations are bright and colorful enough to enchant a little one. It certainly is a delight for my tired eyes - reading glasses and all. Candlewick is a premier publisher of books for little ones!

Bagel and soy cream cheese for lunch - here I come! :-) Oy vey, dude! I love it. :-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

GRRR!! It is raining again! I woke up to a beautiful sunny day and even spent a few minutes outside reading in the sun - that is until my feet felt like they were frying. I also had a hummingbird buzzing my toes - it must have thought my pink toenails were some kind of flower! But now it has clouded over and is raining. And, I was bribing myself to write rubrics for my classes by promising myself a trip to the beach later on. I hope it clears up again. I am so sick of rain. I think I am getting webbed feet!

But at least it isn't snowing and freezing cold like in Kringle by Tony Abbott. For those of you who have been reading my blog, you know I am a Christmas freak. And when I saw this beautiful Scholastic book with the flying reindeer on the front I knew it was my next read. I finished it last night and what a fun read. Would make a wonderful family read aloud during the Holidays. A unique tale of how Kringle (Santa Claus) came into being. He was the son of parents who had helped the elves and they in return help Kringle save the world from the Goblins. The magical bell that his mother had found years before makes a sound that rings out his name. Kringle escapes from the Goblin attack and is taken in by the elves. Kringle is the child the Goblins seek, kidnapping all children in their path, both searching for him and feeding on their fear. Kringle knows he must rescue the children from the Goblins' underground den and does so with the help of the elves and the few humans that are left in the area after the Romans left. Quite a fascinating tale as the Nativity story is intertwined with Kringle's tale and that of the Longest Night of the Year.

Staying with the Christmas mode, Walter Wick has a new picture puzzle book - Can You See What I See? Night Before Christmas. I picked it up because I collect copies of the Night Before Christmas, but this is not an illustrated version of the poem. The poem is on the endpapers, but the pages are filled with Christmas ornaments, treats, decorations, etc. that children must find. I love the last blue-hued page with Santa's sleigh flying before the moon, with a small village below. This book will help fill those Christmas vacation hours for little ones. A gotta have under any child's Christmas tree.

It is still raining - harder than ever. Of well, guess that means I can't avoid writing those rubrics by escaping to the beach. Darn anyway!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Even the Diet Coke isn't helping wake me up this a.m. It is such a bummer to be jarred out of a dream by the alarm. And I think I had finally fallen back to sleep. I woke up at 2:22 - how weird is that - and then couldn't fall back to sleep. Kept thinking about all the things on my "to do" list, which seems to get longer every day. Living in the islands is not a vacation, vacationing in the islands is! The leak in the kitchen area finally stopped so I can now try to get this apt. back in order. I have books from one end of it to the other, from board books to upper level YA novels - what a mix!

Don't you just love the name Lola? I can hear Barry Manilow singing in my head! :-) Lola Douglas is the pen name under which Lara Zeises wrote True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet. The title suggests this might be just "fluff," but it isn't. Written in a combination of diary entries, letters to her party animal best friend back in Hollywood, and script like dialog, Morgan Carter relates the sometimes funny, often heartbreaking account of her losing battle with cocaine and alcohol and adjusting to living incognito as Claudia Miller, "typical" high school student in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Claudia/Morgan's interactions with the high school counselor and the people at AA are frank and poignant, leaving the reader little doubt about how painful it is for this self-centered rich brat to come to terms with who she was and what she must do to make sure she doesn't end up back in the same situation. But the joy of this book is Claudia becoming friends with Emily and Eli, a set of delightful twins who help this jaded teen realize normal teenage activities are actually fun. But Claudia is "outed" as Morgan by Debbie Ackerman, the girl Eli didn't choose instead of Claudia as the recipient of his affections. Claudia/Morgan's adventures aren't over as there is a book 2 coming in 2006. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the name dropping, from Paris Hilton to Katie Holmes and every hot young actor in between. I felt like I was reading an In Touch magazine, but then realized that this would have been this young starlet's world. Although necessary, the name dropping with date this book quickly, but not before lots of teenage girls will vicariously live the life of a Hollywood Starlet.

Gotta head out to Montessori!

Monday, October 17, 2005

It is thundering again! Or maybe it is still the herd of buffalo thundering through my digestive system! ARGH!!! I won't want to eat another buffalo burger for a long time after spending two days sick from the one at Jack's. It isn't until I get really sick that Steve tells me he was a bit worried when I said the burger didn't taste like it normally does - really salty. Guess that is a ploy to cover the taste of old meat. YUCK!!!

But, I did get some reading done while I was laying in bed. Finished up the final chapters of the 630 pages of The Dream Merchant, a Candlewick title. Maureen White, an authority on translated children's books, got me interested in translated titles when we worked together at UHCL so now I tend to look for the YA titles that are translations. They are typically quite unique and Isabel Hoving's The Dream Merchant certainly is and then some. The Gippart Corporation is so greedy and corrupt that they are using young children to do experimental dream and time traveling. Josh is only 12 when he is "hired" by Gippart to dream travel to find the Tembe in hopes that they can figure out how to travel through time so they can sell more of their products. They have already glutted the markets in real time as well as dream time. Three young humans and the ghost of Josh's twin sister do find the Tembe and help to end a generations long feud between two brothers. An absolutely fascinating book, all 630 pages of it! If this book were marketed like Harry Potter they would be selling kid size versions of the snake bracelet that Jericho gave her brother Josh - the bracelet that falsely convinced the Gippart team that Josh could travel through time.

Yahoo - Houghton Mifflin just reissued a paperback edition of David Macaulay's Black and White. I remember when this book won the Caldecott and all the talk about the multiple stories within. In 1990 this was a very unique book and still holds its own today in the world of children's publishing where format and style can, and often is, as intriguing as the story itself. Oh what fun! I can't wait to share this with our grandkids. :-)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

An overcast Saturday - humid and buggy. Even though I can hear thunder it looks like sun to the West though so we might be able to see a sunset. I took an afternoon nap after we ran errands in town and woke up to no Steve and no broken air conditioner. I hope that means he and the landlord are off to Home Depot to buy a new one! It is so sticky in here from the rainy weather. Makes me want to go back to sleep. Stopped in the new Jack's location in town. Sure is a strange set up. A bar and a few tall tables, but mainly gaming machines all along the walls. Had a buffalo burger, which I normally love but it is clearly a different cook at the new location. I like the atmosphere at the Jack's in Tutu much better - besides you get to sit outside and watch the iguanas running around and then browse the craft shops after you eat.

I changed a few of the titles in my YA Lit class for next semester and added Nancy Werlin's Double Helix now that it is in paperback. One of the best SF YA novels I have read. Nancy clearly did her research on genetics for this novel - very realistic. I thought of Werlin's novel when I read Margaret Peterson Haddix's Escape from Memory, even though the setting for the two novels is quite different. Double Helix is in a "normal" contemporary setting with the medical experimentation taking place in an underground lab beneath a "legitimate business". On the other hand Escape from Memory is set for most of the story in a Eastern European recreated village populated by people who had been relocated after Chernobyl. I had a difficult time suspending my disbelief of the village's possible existence in this day and age. Also, the female villain was a bit much. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read about a girl who discovers she is the daughter of scientists who had discovered how to makes copies of a person's memories and transfer this data via computer input and output. Although not as cleanly written as Werlin's novel, I do think teens will enjoy Escape from Memory, especially those teens who have already read other Haddix books. My favorite of hers is Turnabout, where the old women are becoming young again. Before I read that book I had never thought about what would happen if you un-aged to your birth!

Steve is doing yard work outside so I shall do some work inside putting books away. I need to find my "inner librarian" and do some shelving and weeding!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Another cloudy and dreary day. Oh well, I will be so busy in the library today after being gone for over a week that I won't notice. Hopefully the rain will stop so I don't have to use my trash cans under the leaks. Was watching the pelicans having their breakfast as they dove into the ocean below us. That was the one thing I missed about living above Brewer's Bay - the pelicans. There were flocks of them in the shallow waters near the runway. Guess they didn't mind being deafened by the landing and departing planes.

Forgot to take another book out of my luggage at the airport on the way home from Philly so I had to buy a book. Found S.E. Hinton's Hawkes Harbor. I really did enjoy it. A mix of a coming of age and a vampire story. It was published for the adult market, but I do think older teens would enjoy it as for most of the story the main character, Jaime, is an irresponsible 20 something. Guys would like the smuggling and gun running adventures as Jaime follows the unscrupulous Kell around the world, from one scam to another. Until he finds himself in Hawkes Harbor and listens to the tales of ghosts and treasure in the caves. Thinking there must be treasure in a chained closed coffin, Jaime unleashes a vampire who claims him as his unwilling servant. Jaime is at the brink of insanity due to his transformation and Grenville's cruelty and is hospitalized when he is shot while saving a friend from the vampire. He begins to heal at mental hospital and Grenville is also "healing", becoming human again with the help of a doctor. A bit of a convoluted story, but certainly one that keeps you reading. I finished it before the plane landed in St. Thomas and thoroughly enjoyed it. Certainly a departure from her earlier YA novels, but a fun read nevertheless.

For those who have enjoyed Yolen and Teague's other dinosaur books, add How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? to your collection, library or home. Little ones will love both the rhyming text about how not to, and how to, behave while eating as well as the humorous illustrations of multi-ethnic parents dealing with their dinosaur children at meal time. The facial expressions of the parents, the dinosaurs, and the family pets are a delight. What fun! For the young dinosaur aficionado, the end pages have the names of each of the dinosaurs depicted in the story. There is also a mini version of the book included.

Off to Montessori for the day.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The weather isn't a whole lot better back here in the islands than it was in Pittsburgh and Philly, just a bit warmer. Actually, a lot warmer! I don't need a jacket down here to stay warm. I'm sitting in front of a fan in a tank top and shorts, but it is blowing moist warm air on me as our air conditioner hasn't been fixed yet. Everything is on island time down here. It hasn't worked for close to two weeks and our landlord came down today and said he is checking into ordering parts! Who knows when they will come in if he does that. Adding to the moist air is the leak in our dining room/kitchen area ceiling. The puddle of water on the floor is not quite as big as it was a few days ago from what Steve says. Oh the joys of living in the islands! :-) But, I am not complaining too loudly as I sat outside this morning while the sun was still trying to shine through the clouds and read for a bit. It was such a delicious feeling to have my feet actually warm, hot in fact, than cold like they were in PA.

I finished reading Donna Jo Napoli's The King of Mulberry Street that I picked up the ARC for at the Random House booth at AASL. It just came out this month and is a great title to add to upper elementary and MS collections. An interesting immigrant tale about Dom, who is put on a ship as a stowaway when he is only 9 years old and figures out how to live on the streets, with the helps of another boy from Napoli. Dom is unique in that he is a Jew, something he needs to hide from his fellow street kids. Such prejudice back then between the different ethnic groups, who live in their own part of the NYC. Italians don't get along with the Irish, etc. Dom becomes street wise quickly and starts his own sandwich selling business on Wall Street where the business men will pay as much for a piece of a good Italian sandwich as what is paid for a whole sandwich in the neighborhood. This novel is based on stories Napoli heard about her own ancestors who came to America at a very young age. Would work well as a read aloud for Social Studies.

The students in my SJSU Literature for ages Birth-6 have been discussing emergent literacy and how important it is to share books with infants, no matter the age, even in the womb. The subject of sign language with little ones came up - a way of communicating before they are able to articulate words. I recently received a Houghton Mifflin book Let's Sign!: Every Baby's Guide to Communicating with Grownups by Kelly Ault. A wonderful book to share with little ones as you teach them basic sign language for "eat" to "sleep". Wish I had had this book when my kids were little as Mic had a speech impediment and I often couldn't understand him. He would have learned and used sign language quickly. We made up our own, but this book would have been a wonderful way to introduce it to both him and his sister, Mary.

Back to grading. I have chats with both of my YA Literature classes tonight.

Monday, October 10, 2005

GRRR!! I just had a whole posting written and I lost it because I am too quick with the back arrow icon! I forgot I lose things in MadChatter when I do that. I am visiting a friend who was the HS English teacher at Montessori in the VI. She moved back to the rural Philly area. It is a beautiful area - too bad it has been cold and overcast since I got here.

The American Association of School Librarians Conference in Pittsburgh was wonderful. My booktalking session Saturday morning was such fun to present to a full house. We ran out of handouts and they turned people away from the session because of the fire code regulations. Had to remind people they can access the bibliography of YA titles on the AASL website: Go to the Conference section and it should have a link to the handouts.

Spent over an hour at the Linworth booth after the presentation signing copies of both Tantalizing Tidbits for Teens and Tantalizing Tidbits for Middle Schoolers. We sold out of the HS edition and I made many promises that I would get the 2nd edition of the HS one out as soon as possible. All the positive feedback from the session and the books have me fired up to go back home and finish up the manuscript for the 2nd edition. It is so invigorating to be around other librarians who love YA literature as much as I do. :-)

Haven't had much time to read since I have been here but I did start a new one by Donna Jo Napoli. And, read Haddix's Escape from Memory. A very interesting SF title about implanting chips into the brain to gather a person's memories. I'll write more about it when I have time. Janna and I are off to do some shopping. I think I am going to have to buy some warm sox and a sweatshirt. BRRRRR!!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

There is actually a bit of blue sky out there this a.m. Yesterday was horrible. The rain just kept coming down in buckets. An old panel truck slid crossways in the middle of road on Donkey Hill so traffic was backed up for what seemed like miles. Thank goodness I was going the other way and was able to get around him. The kids were wild yesterday. Being cooped up inside was not helping their mood at all. We had the trash can under the leak in the roof and lots of mud on the floor from the kids trooping in and out. Then Steve and I came home to water dripping from the ceiling in our kitchen. At least it isn't in the corner where my bookcases are like last time. Now if the sun will stay out for a bit and dry up some of the standing water. Nevertheless, the mosquitoes are going to love all the new breeding places.

I have always been fascinated by the Selkie stories so I dove right into reading Betsy James Long Night Dance. What a cool book - it is part of the Seeker Chronicles. Now I want to read the second book, Dark Heart. Kat is the daughter of an Upslope man and a Hill woman. She bears the shame of her mother's heritage - her red hair. With her mother dead, Kat does all the housework in her father's home. Women are treated very poorly by the men and Kat is getting restless. She wants to go down to the ocean, which is forbidden to her. Giving in to the call of the sea Kat finds herself on the rocky beach singing a song she once heard in the Downshore village. She does not know it is a song that calls to the seal people, even when she finds the badly wounded young man on the shore. Her father is furious when Kat brings the wounded Nall home with her and she and her brother hide him in the barn until they can take him to the healer in the Downshore village. Here Kat discovers her true nature and seeks to learn of her Hill country family. James' writing is so descriptive you feel like you are with Kat as she takes the first steps to discover who she is and to allow herself to be loved.

Jennifer Eachus' Angel: A Tale of Wonder is a visual delight. A small sized picture book, with lush illustrations of a little girl and the young angel who comes to her and asks her to tell her what she knows about wonder. Young Lara asks her family what wonder is and the answers vary, but what Lara realizes is that it is the angels that make the world wonderful. A quiet beautiful book to share with anyone.

Now to spend the rest of the day grading!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Withdrawal big time!! Our Internet connection has been down - I went cold turkey all day yesterday and it wasn't a pretty sight - the constant trying to log in and first the sighs of frustration and then the #@@**!!!s of irritation! But, I did get my presentation for AASL finished and a book review for VOYA written so it wasn't a lost day. But I am so behind in grading!

Every time we get stormy weather, and we are supposed to have this windy rainy weather for the rest of the week, our Innovative DSL goes wonky. The power went out about 4 a.m. yesterday. No biggie as our air conditioner quit Sunday evening anyway! Who knows how long it will take for someone to come out and fix that. At least the weather is cool so we aren't miserable. Hopefully it won't be too warm in the library today.

Read Rachel Cohn's Pop Princess recently. Picked it up because I really liked Cohn's MS level novel Steps. A funny, yet heartfelt look at a young teen dealing with her father's new family in Australia. Cohn is also the author of Gingerbread and Shrimp, two other popular teen novels. Felt kind of silly sitting on the plane reading a book with a girl's bare midriff and a belly button stud on the front cover, but it was worth the interesting looks from fellow passengers. An eye opening look into the real world of a one hit wonder, (her name really is Wonder!) who realizes that being a pop princess is not what she wants out of her musical career. Perhaps taking some time out to go to college and major in music might not be a bad idea. But Wonder Blake has to learn from her own mistakes, including an infatuation with the guy who is in love with Kayla, the "real" pop star who Wonder is the opening act for and who was in the same band with Wonder's sister who died. Girls will love vicariously living the pop princess life with Wonder. Should help shatter some of those fantasies about what it would be like to be the next Britney Spears! :-)

Have been browsing through and "playing" with Imagine by Norman Messenger. The limited text and the delightful illustrations ask you to use your imagination - "Imagine a house without windows.. You wouldn't know if it was day or night." There are double page spreads where you need to find items, such as giants hidden in a Medieval looking landscape or the animals within a forest scene. Such fun. For the mathematically inclined there are also math puzzles on the top of each page. Those I ignored. I am NOT mathematically inclined! :-/ But, this is a an intriguing interactive picture book to share with children, especially those in 2nd through 6th grades. A wonderful family vacation book to keep a child entertained in the back seat of the car - as long as they don't get motion sick when they read!

The waves against the little island in the bay are splashing up higher than I have ever seen them. Could prove to be an interesting day. This weather better settle down before Thursday afternoon when I leave for AASL in Pittsburgh. Off to Montessori for the day.