Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year's Eve! Don't think Steve and I will be partying tonight as we are both sick. I'm sitting at the desktop computer and looking out on Frenchman's Bay - a day sail charter boat is making its way back from Buck Island - a favorite snorkeling site for tourists. I call it the Johnny Depp boat as it looks a bit like a pirate ship with its red sails, etc. Speaking of Johnny Depp - we watching Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest yesterday. No where near as good as the first one - felt like a segue into the third one. Just didn't have the snort laugh factor that the first one had. And, talk about long - over 2 hours. We watched it in two sittings as I had to take a nap - this cold/flu is taking it out of me. We went into town for lunch at Shipwreck to share a hamburger and fries, which were delicious, and picked up the mail. That wore me out.

We also opened Christmas presents - Steve had to wrap a couple of mine as we picked them up at the mail place. Mail service down here is sloooow and then some. He introduced me to Lawrence Sander's McNally books awhile back, with the playboy amateur detective Archy McNally. They are just fun to read mysteries. My Christmas present is McNally's Files with includes the first three McNally books: McNally's Secret, McNally's Luck, and McNally's Risk. So I will have my mystery reading set for awhile. I think teen age guys would like these as they are fairly mild in the risque factor and it is a guy detective instead of the female ones I so often read about.

Speaking of Christmas books, Mary gave me Kristin Hannah's Christmas romance, Comfort & Joy. Reading this was a joy! I love a sappy romance, especially when I am sick and this has been wonderful reading, with Sophie curled up in my lap purring. And yes, teenage girls would love this novel, even though the characters are middle aged - it is just a fun sappy romance with a touch of "magic". Joy is in a plane accident and while she is in a coma she finds a lodge in Washington State where she spends several days and falls in love with the widowed owner, but she really is the "imaginary" friend of his little boy Bobby. If you believe in magic - you will love the ending. Finished it in bed with Sophie this morning - after breakfast in bed - French toast. Steve is sick too but he is still spoiling me with breakfast in bed. :-) The book is set in the rainy Pacific Northwest - very appropriate as I will be in Seattle for ALA Midwinter later in January. The setting reminded me a lot of Juneau, Alaska with the huge trees and the moss covered rocks, roofs, etc. Walking the trails by the Mendenhall Glacier felt like being in to a primeval forest. I expected Sasquatch to step out from behind a tree, or perhaps a dinosaur. I loved the quiet of that forest and though I fussed about the continuous rain when I lived there, it was a beautiful place.

All for today. I am working on the course documents for the Materials for Early Childhood course I am designing and teaching for the first time at ECU. Found a great new text to use with lots of storytime activities - Saroj Nadharni Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz' Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library. It came out in 2006 and should be a staple in every Public Library Children's Room professional collection. The finger plays and rhymes brought back great memories of when I taught Head Start in Galena, an Athabascan Indian village on the banks of the Yukon. What a time that was!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My one day home between trips and I just got back from picking up my new glasses. I am officially old - I now wear bifocals! I am too vain to wear the ones with the lines though. I am adjusting to where I need to have my head so I am looking through the part of the lens that works the best. I probably look like a dork, but that's fine. I was so frustrated with reaching for the reading glasses all the time and then leaving them somewhere. I wore glasses for most of my life before the lasik surgery 5 years ago so I am not having trouble adjusting to the glasses, just were to look through the lens.

The trip to Green Bay was wonderful. Christmas is more fun around little ones. We bundled up and walked through the Holiday light display at the Botanical Garden. I took lots of pictures. We also stopped by a house that has more lights than most neighborhoods. I wonder what the neighbors think of all the cars driving by and stopping. Michael loves the Thomas the Train set he received from his grandparents. Had to let him sleep with Emily, the green engine we gave him, and a piece of track. He liked his Santa gifts, but was so enamored with the train that the trucks and bulldozer were secondary. They won't be as soon as it warms up enough for him to play in the sandbox in their backyard. The chocolate in his stocking was a big hit. For Gramma too - I pigged out on dark chocolate covered almonds that were in my stocking!

I was given one Christmas "present" I am not too keen on - a very bad head cold. Even lost my voice for a couple of days. Three different planes yesterday and the take-offs and landings weren't much fun - ears didn't like it at all. By the time I got home last night and called Mary and Steve to tell them I was home I had only a squeak of a voice. Today I loaded up on cold medicine and cough drops at the drug store as they are so expensive in the islands. I fly out tomorrow, but no 15 minutes drive to the airport this time. I am flying out of RDU so I have to drive over to Raleigh - about an hour and 1/2 away. Good thing the flight doesn't go out until 11:00. But, while at Mary's I woke each morning to "Where's Gramma?" or "Is Gramma up yet?" at 6:00 a.m. so I sort of got used to getting up early. Groan!! I plan on sleeping in while in the islands.

We gave Michael a copy of The Polar Express movie and he loves it. Thought I had already given him the book by Van Allsburg, but we couldn't find it in his bookshelves. Hard to believe that book is over 20 years old now - came out in 1985. He also received Cars and we had fun watching that - I hadn't seen it. Very cute movie. Loved Doc's voice and had to look to see who it was - Paul Newman! Michael's favorite book for me to read to him while I was there is I Stink! by Kate McMullen. I had given it to him quite some time ago so he knew the fun parts. We had a great time using Austin Powers sounding voices to say, "Mount Trash-a-rama, Baby!" Mary and Scott just sat and watched us - Michael brings out my inner child and then some! :-) We also had fun with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, which was published in 1939. Don't think he understood that Mary Anne is powered by coal. He did love the sound of the names of the town's people, especial Mrs. McGillicuddy. My reading so far this Holiday Season has been limited to picture books and that is fine with me for now. I had a delightful Christmas snuggling and reading books with Michael.

Off to St. Thomas tomorrow. Headed out with manuscript pages with tons of corrections and notes on them. I have my work cut out for me!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Thought I would put in this picture of the evening cruise we watching go out and come back while we are Mallory Square in Key West. With Steve saying he is going sailing this weekend I am missing the ocean!
We are getting a pouring rain. It started when I left campus at 5:30 and by the time I got settled in at home it was coming down in buckets and hasn't stopped since. Mary said it had been doing the same thing in Green Bay. All I can think about is that we'd be like Denver is this were snow. I am so glad it isn't as I leave for Green Bay on the 7:10 jet out of here tomorrow morning. We barely get in the air before we land in Charlotte. I like flying the jet better than the prop planes. Will get into Green Bay around 2:00 and we are going to see the lights at the botanical gardens in the evening, if the rain stops. Can't wait to see Michael - he has been reminding his mom that the chair next to his at the dining room table is Gramma's. :-)

Talked to Steve tonight and he and his buddy Jeff, who lives on a sailboat, are headed out to the BVI Sunday to spend a couple of days wandering. He doesn't seem the least bit upset that I am not there for Christmas! But, I did get an early Christmas present from him yesterday - a heated keyboard! I haven't set it up yet, but it sounds neat. I am out of plug in spots in my surge protector so I need to get a bigger one so I can plug in the keyboard.

Been working on the manuscript every waking hour I can and am reminding myself of all the great books I have read and want to read. Was looking for a historical fiction title with a witchcraft theme and came across Sherryl Jordan's Raging Quiet, which is one of my all time favorite YA historical fiction titles. A young woman falls in love with the "village idiot" who is actually a deaf young man who is trying to speak. She teaches him a form of sign language to communicate and the villagers think she is a witch because of it. The scene where she must hold red hot iron bars in her hands to prove her innocence is also burned into my memory. So many books, so little time!

All for tonight. Will probably be a bit before I have a chance to write again as I am home for one day next week before leaving for St. Thomas on Friday. Just enough time to get repacked and go through my mail. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Finally - a morning I got to sleep in! I didn't even mind being woke up by the painters' ladder noises outside - just fell back to sleep. So now I am listening to the 24 hour Christmas music station and planning on a quiet work day at home.

Sorry about the heads in the pic - some of the lights at the Kansas City Plaza Christmas lighting ceremony

Enjoyed a bit of magazine reading when I first woke up - Hallmark Magazine, a new publication that I really like. Short articles and lots of cool photographs. Love the January issue full page picture of snow laden trees with the quote" "Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together. " Vesta M. Kelly.
Going to put this one on the wall in my office. I like looking at snow - not being in it! Talked to Mary last night and she said it had been in the 40s in Green Bay and rain was predicted so I doubt I am going to get a snowy White Christmas with them like I did a couple of years ago.

Haven't had much time to curl up with a novel, but while sitting in traffic while doing Christmas shopping I've been listening to New Spring by Robert Jordan. I have not read any of his other books, but I was given this audiobook at a conference. It sat for the longest time with the plastic still on it and I finally decided to go for it. And, I am so glad I did. Granted, I was not crazy about the beginning as I do not care for the male narrator's voice - his sighs and breathing drive me nuts. But, the woman narrator is very good and I find myself in the world of Moiraine and Siuan as they go through the 100 weaves to become Aes Sedai and search for the newborn who is the rebirth of the Dragon. This is one of those situations where an audiobook is a wonderful introduction to a new author as I would have had no idea how to pronounce some of the names. Siuan is Swan - easy enough! So, my time sitting in traffic on Greenville Blvd - the "center of the world" in Greenville - where all the stores are, has not been so bad - I have been in Jordan's fantasy world.

All for today. Need to get back to the manuscript.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A late morning with the newspaper as I was up until 1 a.m. last night. Couldn't sleep so I worked on the manuscript until midnight and then started a new Christmas book - A Covington Christmas by Joan Medlicott. I was surprised to find out she was born and raised on St. Thomas in the VI before moving to Western NC. She started writing the Covington titles at age 64. Covington, of course, is set in Western NC, outside of Asheville, which I am looking forward to visiting someday. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this mountain town. Anyway, the premise of the novel is that the new pastor finds old documents in the church attic to indicate 5 of the long term couples in the area are not married legally or in the eyes of the church. Where it goes from there I am not sure as that is as far as I got before the Sandman finally had time to come visit me. Thank goodness!

So I am most certainly getting a late start on the day and plan on getting a few hours of writing in before I head out to ToysRUs to find Emily - one of the Thomas the Train items that Michael wants. He is carrying the pamphlet with her picture around and says she is pretty, so I am more than happy to buy my macho grandson something he thinks is pretty!

I have the 808 page This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers next to me as I write. My next YA read, though many of the YA book lovers I interact with via listservs are not as willing to call this a YA novel due to the content, etc. I cannot say as I have not begun reading it yet. Some people read children's and YA novels as their "unconscious delight" leisure reading - it requires nothing more out of them than to enjoy the book. I don't read a children's or YA title that way - I am analyzing it as I read. Will I recommend it? Will I use it in a booktalk? What many read for just pleasure, I read professionally. Now my "unconscious delight" reading is wallowing in an adult novel that I know will have no YA or child appeal due to the age of the character and/or the theme/subject. Thank heavens for those - I need a break once in awhile. :-)

All for now.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Well, Fall semester 2006 has officially come to an end. The College of Education graduation ceremony was fairly painless as it was a small group this semester. It will be huge in May. Not one pair of flip-flops on the girls. Mostly black dress shoes, some with spike heels so high I have no idea how they even walked in them. A quiet audience compared to the graduations at SHSU years ago. There were a few, "That's my baby!" and one really cute, "That's my baby sister!" from a very proud older brother with a camera. :-)

Several of us went to lunch at Moe's Southwestern Grill and chatted to close out the semester. Already talking about changes we want to make for Spring semester and what classes will be on the schedule for the Fall. Most people live on a January through December calendar. Academics live on an August through May calendar with a gasp before the summer school run of two months with the joy of ALA Annual in June to break it up. And then the regular school year starts again. Holiday break plans of the group included skiing with their kids, visits to family in Ohio, spending the Holidays with friends in Arizona, etc. and for some of us a marathon writing time. I have a whole week, minus a couple of appointments, to get as much of the book done as I can before heading to Mary's on the 23rd.

Carol, Jami, Karen and I found our inner child and went to the Charlotte's Web matinee yesterday. What a cute movie. I detest spiders and was a bit grossed out by Charlotte's initial descent, but had to laugh at the horse fainting when he saw her. I felt itchy when her 514 babies hatched from the egg sack. Julia Roberts did a beautiful job of giving voice and character to Charlotte. I loved Templeton in the animated version and was as taken with the rat in this one. Nasty lovable creature! I had to chuckle over Jami and Karen crying when Charlotte dies, but I had tears in my eyes too - and of all things, over a spider! All in all, it was a delightful movie. We saw the previews for Bridge to Terabitha, very loosely based on Katherine Paterson's beloved children's book. Terabithia is brought to life as a creature inhabited fairyland with trees that have huge human like feet, etc. I will want to see this one for sure. As well as Miss Potter, with Renee Zelweiger playing Beatrix Potter. Lots of children's books and authors being brought to the screen. Let's just hope children watching these movies will ask for the books and/or parents will buy them. I can't wait to read Charlotte's Web to the grandkids. :-)

I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak last night. Oh my - what a beautifully written book. This is one that cries to be read aloud, but I have second thoughts about categorizing this as a YA novel as I am afraid it will not get the readership it deserves. To me this is an adult novel with teen appeal. It will not appeal to all teens as the narrator is death and the main character, Liesel, is a child for a majority of the book, but it certainly is not a book I would give to children to read. It has a dark but nostalgic feel of remembering the horrors of Nazi Germany. Liesel's book thievery and the connection these books give her to both her foster Papa and eventually to the very woman she steals books from is beautifully done. Zusak portrays, through Liesel's love of books and the connections she makes becaue of her stolen books, the power of words in a time when most people felt powerless and without a voice. Add this to the YA collections, but in the PL include a copy in the adult fiction area as well. I wish my mom were still alive so I could give a copy of this book for her - she, like Liesel, loved words.

On a less somber note, I am reading my birthday book from Steve - Get Your Own Damn Beer, I'm Watching the Game!: A Woman's Guide to Loving Pro Football by Holly Robinson Peete, wife of a retired football player and an actress. It is hilarious and very informative. Give this one as a Christmas present to the woman out there who have football crazed husbands and/or are football crazy themselves. I love her "10 All-Time Annoying Things We Should Never Say to Our Men During the Game" My favorites:

2. "Remember when your butt used to look like that?"
9. "You've already watched three quarters. Why can't we spend the last one talking about us?"

Peete has a wonderful sense of humor and a superb knowledge of the game as well.

All for this chilly Saturday a.m. Can't believe I have been up since 7 a.m., except for that fact that I crashed last night not too long after watching The Ghost Whisperer, my favorite Friday night show.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I keep waiting to hear the prancing and pawing of painter's boots on the balcony like I did Tuesday morning, but no such luck. They are painting the trim on the condos and early Tuesday a.m. I knew it wasn't Santa's reindeer I heard on the roof. By the time I got out into the livingroom they had already taken down the lights Steve put up. They reassured me they would put them back up when the paint dried. No such luck. So I guess I will be restringing lights when I get back from campus today.

We had our Dept. Holiday Luncheon yesterday and what fun. We gave our secret pals the books we had chosen for them to donate to the Homeless Shelter here in Greenville. I had Barbara's name and she loves her Golden Retriever so I found a really cool book, The Right Dog for the Job: Ira's Path from Service Dog to Guide Dog by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. Beautiful color photographs of Ira as a puppy to him as a trained guide dog. The text and the illustrations also showed his trainer brought him to her classroom so he could acclimate to noise and children. A gotta have Nonfiction title for elementary school libraries. I received a copy of Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends and we shared memories of particular poems from this book. Along with the secret pal donations, we collected two Zerox paper boxes full of books, from board books to adult novels, for the Homeless Shelter. This is part of our ALA Student Chapter activities so two of our students came to collection and deliver the books. Such a feel good event!

Lots of talk about the new Charlotte's Web movie. Jami and I had made plans to go on Friday, since that is opening day, but it is also our College of Education graduation ceremony day. So a bunch of us from the Dept. are getting together for lunch and then headed to the movies afterward. I have heard both good and bad reviews of the movie, but if it will bring kids to the library asking for E.B. White's wonderful book, which was one of our donations, then I am all for it.

As far as reading goes I finished Fannie Flagg's Redbird Christmas. What a delightful Christmas story of how a small Alabama town can bring an ailing man back to health. Oswald T. Campbell, an orphan with no family and doctor's order to spend what is supposed to be his last year of life in a warmer climate, ends up as a boarder in a private home intiny Lost River, Alabama. The women in town are delighted to have their second available male to pamper and before he knows it Oswald is feeling a lot better and has become fast friends with Patsy, a little abandoned girl, and Jack the Redbird who has free reign of the town's only store. I found myself smiling and sighing at the slow lifestyle of this little town. It is as much Patsy and Jack's story as it is Oswald's as the community adopts Patsy as she finds her voice while playing with Jack. The ending will bring tears to even the most grinchy reader's eyes. No bah humbugs here! :-)

I am also working my way through Zusak's The Book Thief. Although an absolutely stunning book, it is not exactly one to make you feel good. A little girl in Nazi Germany who steals books and finds herself reading them to the Jew they have hidden in the basement as well as in the neighbor's basement (designated the bomb shelter) during raids. Add the narrator, Death, to this scenario and you see why I have to put other "feel good" books into my reading schedule.

All for today.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Happy Monday to one and all. It was a very productive weekend for me - many hours working on the booktalks, with fun Christmas movies playing in the background. I even listened to the Best of the Andy Williams Christmas Specials on PBS. Did look up long enough to see, remember, and grimace over those awful red or green, right down to the shoes, outfits the Williams brothers used to wear. PBS is having their annual fund raiser and also aired the Tribute to James Taylor special. Now that was worth looking up for. The Dixie Chicks and Allison Krause were wonderful, as was Carole King. I enjoyed every moment of that special.

Being in the Christmas spirit, Karen and I went to the matinee yesterday to see Holiday, with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black. I am not a big Jude Law fan but he did a wonderful job of playing a single dad in this delightful Holiday movie. Diaz and Winslet's characters swap houses for the Holidays, both running from relationship break-ups. Winslet's character certainly gets the better setting - a California mansion for her rustic cottage in rural England, where Diaz's character is freezing her bippy off until she gets warmed up by Winslet's brother, played by Jude Law. I laughed and even got a bit teary eyed and overall, it was a wonderful couple hour break from writing.

As far as reading goes, I am currently into Zusak's The Book Thief, which I will wait and write about when I finish it. Not sure this was a good one to pick to read during the Holiday season as it is narrated by Death and set in Germany during WWII.

I did finish Mary Higgins Clark's Santa Cruise. As always, the bad guys are caught, just in the nick of time. You gotta love the two little bratty girls in this novel - the daughters of the mother who won their way on the cruise with her lengthy annual Christmas letter. She loves her daughters so much she hasn't a clue that the other adults on the cruise are not of like mind. You know the kind - the mother that writes about all the glorious things the family did the prior year. I'll keep that in mind as I write the Christmas letter in relation to the grandbabies! But the brats do pull the chair out from under, literally and figuratively, one of the bad guys on board. I liked Deck the Halls better - same set of characters, but they rescue private investigator Regan Reilly's kidnapped father.

Off to campus here in a bit. I have a new faculty gathering to share how our first semester at ECU went. As many years as I have been at this and with 4 different universities, I have to say, even though I have been as busy as a squirrel hiding nuts for the winter, it has been one of the best semesters I have had. What a wonderful group of students I have had in my courses.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Just got off the phone with Steve - our weekly Saturday a.m. call to catch up on what we didn't take care of via email. It appears my darling cat must really miss her Mommy. She is now grabbing Steve's hand and biting him when he works on his crossword puzzle in the morning. She normally only does that to me when I am petting her while reading and stop to turn the page. So I will be bringing her back with me in January. Going to be a busy Holiday for me. I leave for Mary's on the 23rd so I can join in the pleasure of a Christmas with a little one in the house. Then back home on the 27th, with time to wash and switch out winter clothes for island clothes and head to St. Thomas on the 29th. I was going to stay in NC and work on the book manuscript, but Steve suggested I might enjoy it more in the warm weather. I can take the laptop out on the deck and watch the boats go by as I do the final editing.

Attended the College of Education Christmas luncheon yesterday. Good food - bad music! It was karoke and a really bad rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. You'd think we educators could remember all the words to it, but no. Nor could I get the moves right for YMCA. No one has ever disputed my claim that I am clumsy and uncoordinated after they see me trying to do that!

Well, I finally finished listening to the many, many CDs in the audio book version of Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis. I have been fascinated with Morrison ever since overhearing my brother's girlfriend talk about how disgusted she was by his performance at a concert. They saw him while in Chicago on the Senior class trip. I wondered what was so disgusting about him and in later years found out about his borderline pornographic acts on stage. And found out a lot more about his really weird personal life in this tell all biography. Davis pulls no punches about Morrison's sex life, even when the listener wishes he would. I wonder what would have happened if he hadn't overdosed and died in a bathtub in Paris. Would he have gotten the distance from The Doors he wanted and become a true poet? His poetry is good enough to be studied in university courses - it certainly is dark and anguished. The Door music - I love some of it and detest a lot of it. Let's just say listening to this biography has closed the door on my fascination with Jim Morrison, but I do understand the fascination with the Lizard King, even with teens today. How he survived his lifestyle as long as he did amazes me!

That's it for today. It is a cold and sunny day out and I plan on spending it with the laptop, writing booktalks.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I think I am finally finished with grading for this semester. What a long process it has been, but the booktalking sessions my students presented in the high schools were so well received. Many of them were asked to return to present more books. I always find it interesting that so many of my students are elementary teachers or school librarians and they panic over the idea of having to present booktalks to teens. But, once they have done so they love it and want to do more.

I was in my office yesterday when a beautiful vase of roses arrived. The florist had called to find out if I would be in the office and said she had a delivery. I couldn't figure out why I would be getting flowers as my birthday was last Friday. They are from Annika and Niclas in Finland. Such a thoughtful gesture - and there was no snow on them either!

One of the other faculty members I work with at ECU, Jami Jones, has her first YA nonfiction title out with Scholastic. It is part of the Scholastic Choices series and is entitled Dealing With the Stuff Life Throws at You and Bouncing Back. A very visually appealing book with lots of photographs of teens and quizzes for young teen readers to fill out as they read about how to become resilient individuals in the face of stressful situations. Good lists of Web site resources. I especially like the coping strategies Jami suggests. A super addition to any MS/JH collection as well as public library collections.

All for now - I need to do some online shopping for my granddaughter - the important things in life - little girls who love Little Mermaids. :-)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I am missing Steve already! My wonderful husband gave me the most fantastic 50th birthday present - him! I received an email on Thursday telling me he was on the way to the airport and would I pick him up at 8:00 that evening. He said he couldn't have me celebrating my 50th alone. It was a heavenly couple of days of sleeping in, checking out all the Christmas stuff in the stores, afternoon naps, evening movies, and dinners out. I brought him to the airport here in Greenville early this a.m. and then came home and wrote a final exam for my YA literature course so I wouldn't feel sorry for myself.

Along with us just spending time together (the best present), Steve did a few things on my "honey do" list - he put the gorgeous shell plaques he gave me up above the jacuzzi in the master bathroom. They look great and give it a bit of an islandy feel. And, he put up icicle lights on the balcony top and wrapped color lighted garland around the rail. It looks so Christmasy! And, I now have a porch rocker out there so I can sit and enjoy the lights at night - that is if it warms up enough. It was in the 70s when he got here but it cooled off yesterday and was down right chilly at 6:00 a.m. when we headed out to the airport.

He only brought his carry on for clothes so he could bring two of my big Christmas boxes instead of luggage. So now I can put up my Nativity scene and start setting up my Christmas village in the nook in the dining room. I'll listen to/watch the Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Ghosts of Christmas Eve DVD that Steve gave me for my birthday while I decorate. They played in Green Bay last year and Mary was able to go see them - I am so jealous!

Poor Steve - he ended up watching Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in White Christmas with me for my birthday. Really poor guy - I was "singing" along to some of the songs - not a pretty sound at all! He got me back last night with Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Majorly weird movie set on the Texas/Mexico border with a young hot-shot border guard shooting Tommy Lee Jones' character's Mexican friend and ranch hand. Pete, Jones' character, goes off the deep end in his grief and promise to return Mel to his small hometown in Mexico. He kidnaps the border patrol guy and makes him dig up Mel's body and forces him to join his horseback journey to take the body back home, into desolate Mexico. I thought for sure I was going to have nightmares about corpses - each night Pete props Me'l's corpse up next to the border guard. Steve does have a tendency to pick really strange movies. I don't even want to go into the weirdness of Bubba Ho-tep, other than to say Elvis is alive in a nursing home and Pres. Johnson is really black (played by Ozzie Davis). Oh yeah - the Egyptian mummy wears cowboy boots!

Didn't have much time to read the last few days. Still reading Santa Cruise by Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol. A light Christmas mystery about a corrupt nephew taking advantage of his cruise ship owning uncle by smuggling aboard two fugitives who are dressed in Santa suits to disguise themselves. Let's just say his plan isn't working too well! :-) I had a few minutes to read in the mornings as Steve brought me breakfast in bed both mornings he was here. I love how he spoils me. Back to Luna bars now that he is gone back to the islands. :-) And back to grading for me right now.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oh dear - I just drove poor Steve nuts with my techno-idiocy. We spent a hour on the phone trying to figure what I did to make my laptop go wonky. Every time I tried to get "My Computer" to come up with the drives listed it locked up. But, it worked fine on campus. Just went wonky at home. Apparently I must have removed the USB Hub from the computer incorrectly - in other words I didn't power down or use the remove command from the tool bar. Boy do I learn the hard way! And poor Steve had to try to answer all my stupid questions and deal with my whining. I have the patience of gnat when my computer won't do what I want it to do when I want it to do it! He said it would be over an hour before he could settle back down to go to sleep - it is an hour later in the islands. As soon as we got off the phone I headed into the kitchen and put a few chunks of walnut cranberry oatmeal cookie batter baking in the toaster oven. I'll de-stress with sugar! That and I am watching the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center on CBS. Ooh - gotta get the Sarah McClachlan (sp?) Christmas CD. She is singing my favorite John Lennon Christmas song.

All this stress because I was trying to download the pictures I took in Key West and Kansas City. Apparently it is the flashdrive that was causing the problem so now I have to figure out how to use the cables to attach the camera to the computer - this could prove to be interesting! Perhaps another hour on the phone with Steve. Just the thought of figuring that out is causing a hot flash!

Bummer - I burned the dang cookies! I'm gonna eat them anyway!!!

I think I need to call it a night and go curl up with Mary Higgins Clark's Santa Cruise: A Holiday Mystery at Sea. :-) Just got it from the book club today. A cruise out of Miami to the Caribbean. Of course, a mystery ensues during the voyage with even a ghost sighting. I really need a light mystery right now. I am also reading Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down, which Steve had been given to read and he passed it on to me saying that he thought teens would like it. He knows that is a way to get me to read an adult novel! :-) It is a dark comedy to say the least - four unlikely companions find themselves bonding after they all appear on the roof of a London building, intent on suicide. Teens will relate to British broken hearted Jess and JJ, the American musician who is mourning his lack of fame. The two adults are a hoot as well. One of those books to offer to the older teens who like dark comedy! What a mix to be reading - a light mystery and a book on suicide attempts.

Gotta go - think my cookies are cool enough to eat, burnt edges and all.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Back home, in my favorite place - working in bed with my laptop. :-) BRRR!! 48 degrees outside this a.m. It is supposed to warm up to the 60s though so I am not complaining. Warmer than Key West was! Spent yesterday doing laundry and catching up on email and grading. Was a lazy Sunday a.m. with the newspaper. My favorite day of the week in that regard. Was so lazy I didn't even go to the grocery store like I should have. I am down to two Diet Cokes so a trip to the store today is essential! Spent the afternoon and evening grading and half watching Christmas movies on TCM. I love White Christmas. I watch it at least once a year if not more. Attending the Christmas lighting and fireworks ceremony with Steve's daughter Monica and the girls in the Plaza on Thanksgiving evening in KC got me in the spirit. Well, actually I was already in the spirit due to the lights Steve put up on the balcony in Key West. He isn't crazy about Christmas, but smiles as I indulge in my love of the Season and even left the radio on Christmas music while we were in KC. Friday night, before we left KC, we went to dinner at Steve's favorite Gate's barbecue (which I like but makes my lips burn when I eat it!) and on the way there and back he drove through areas with lots of lights. I was like a little kid. :-)

I have to write about the book I read while on vacation - Tripping to Somewhere by Kristopher Reisz. Wonderful, wonderful book about friendship, finding home, and accepting who you are. Sam and Gilly became fast friends from the moment Sam stepped in to protect Gilly from the lesbian taunting she let her "friend" pummel her with. Gilly doesn't hide her sexual preference, but she doesn't stand up for herself either. Now Sam, she stands up for herself and for Gilly, with profanity laced comebacks. Sam's home life with her mother and too friendly stepdad gives Sam a hard edge as she tries to protect herself from what she cannot control. Gilly is in love with Sam, but Sam makes it clear that their sexual relationship, to her, is a perk of their friendship. But Sam truly does care about Gilly and when she decides to find the Witches' Carnival, she knows without a doubt, even though Gilly doesn't, that Gilly will go with her. Gilly throws all caution to the wind and steals the dirty money her cop dad keeps hidden under the master bathroom sink. The girls can go far, in style, with $50,000. They do find the Witches' Carnival and Gilly falls in love with one of the women. Her infatuation takes them as far as London, with fake passports, as they try to prove to the witches that they belong with them. But only one of them can become part of the Witches' Carnival. Who needs this escape more - Sam or Gilly? I was with Sam and Gilly as they chased what most believed an urban legend - a group of witches (one being Christopher Marlowe) who can travel the world by writing their names on a piece of paper and using it as a passport. I could go on and on about this book but if I do I will give too much away for those who haven't read it yet. If you work with older teens and/or just want a fantastic read, you must read Tripping to Somewhere. Yes, it is laden with drugs, profanity, sex, rock music, but it all fits and does not distract from the "real" story - the relationship between two friends and what one is willing to sacrifice for the other. Give this fantastic "reading trip" to the teens who love Tithe and Valiant by Holly Black. Can't wait to booktalk this one. :-)

Much more fun to talk about books, but I have to try to finish up some grading before I head for campus.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Our IT person in the LSIT Department put a Macy's type parade of balloons, including the ECU Pirate, across our Dept. web page. Very cute!

I'm sitting on a heating pad as I type this - my hip is acting up again. Talk about feeling old! Guess it was all the sitting yesterday. A 4 hour drive to Ft. Lauderdale from Key West and then the plane. Midwest has large seats with foot rests, but I was so ready to get off the plane. We went for a walk this a.m. after breakfast to a nearby grocery store to get the essentials - Diet Coke and a heating pad. :-) Not sure which one more more essential by the time we got back to the room. I even resorted to drinking a bit of the bitter coffee at the breakfast buffet.

We are headed over to Steve's brother's for Thanksgiving dinner here in a bit. The best kind of dinners - ones where I don't have to cook! :-) It is still fairly warm, but both of us commented on how much fun Key West was and would like to be back down there in that gorgeous hotel room, bad weather or not. The one here at the Quarterage is nothing to write home about. But, it is very quiet compared to our hotel in KW. We had a family who decided to play hide-n-seek at 1:00 a.m., with the little girl screaming like a banshee as she was chased. Then they left and a partier moved in and woke us at about the same time for the next two nights, but with loud music and talking. We had no qualms of talking loudly as we went down for breakfast! :-)

I am enjoying my new SanDisk MP3 player - listening to Celia Rees' Pirates. Just got to the part when she arrives on the plantation in Jamaica and realizes exactly what her family does for the money they spend on fancy clothes and homes. The scene where she thinks the old woman is pile of animal bones in the road is so haunting. Saving one doesn't help any when the roadside and beach is littered with slaves who are past the point of being sugar field/mill workers. Almost looking forward to getting on a plane so I can listen for a few hours uninterrupted. :-) Already know something nasty has to happen with/to the nasty overseer.

All for today.
Written yesterday, but didn't get posted:

We just got in to Kansas City and it is warmer here than it was in Key West! We had a wonderful time in Florida, but it was jeans and jackets weather, with last night being the worst with the cold rain. Our first night was in Miami. Someone said Orlando got snow! Not typical Florida weather. Steve actually tried to wear shorts the first day but he changed into jeans too. The stores on Duval were making big bucks on hooded sweatshirts. We saw a couple of kids in the hotel heated pool, but I shuddered just to think what it would feel like to step out into the cold wind off the ocean.

We wandered around the shops and even bought a Christmas ornament or two. We stayed at the Ocean Key Resort at Zero Duval. What a wonderful place! We had a gorgeous room with the Jacuzzi from heaven. I was in it every night as I could see the TV from the tub. The package deal we had included 3 quick massages but we combined two of them into an hour massage yesterday afternoon and left the spa feeling like two noodles, but got it together in time to go out and watch the shows on Mallory Square. We never did get the great sunset show as the weather was so bad. Steve brought a set of Christmas lights and put them up on our balcony so we would know which one was ours from the Square. I took pics, but not sure yet how well they came out. The package also included breakfast in a delightful restaurant called The Tin Roof. I noshed on scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast with the most delicious berry jam and all the black tea I could drink. Any plans for dieting were left back in NC. I was none too happy to have to pass on the yummy breakfast this a.m. as we left for the 4 hour drive to Ft. Lauderdale before they even opened up. The best dinner we had was at The Hard Rock Cafe, which Steve isn't too keen on eating in. Can't you tell we haven'tt eaten yet this evening? I have food on the mind.

Friday, November 17, 2006

This is Michael, my three year old grandson, in his new Christmas truck shirt Gramma (me) gave him. I was tickling him - that's why he is making a weird face. I love being a Gramma! :-)
Spent the early evening at Starbucks where a group of us were listening to a wonderful singer who has spent time in Ireland. Her name is Jennifer - can't think of her last name right now, but what fun. There were wonderful Celtic ballads and a few of the Irish pub songs we joined in on. She has a range of music and even sang my favorite country song sung by both Keith Whitley and Allison Krause (I like Krause's version better), When You Say Nothing at All. Hated to leave, but knew I have computer stuff to do when I got home.

I am so proud of myself! I not only downloaded the digital pictures from my camera to the computer (Mary wanted the pic she took of Michael and I), but I also figured out how to download books from Audible to the SanDisk MP3 player I bought on sale, with a $5 coupon too! :-) So thrifty of me. I am going to be obnoxious about sending pics to everyone since I know how to do it now. It is so funny - I love technology, just not learning how to use it. I want to know how - by osmosis or something. I have the patience of a gnat so that doesn't help. I had a computer when DOS didn't exist yet - I had a Kaypro, the Apple II, and even one of the first IBM laptops that cost an arm and a leg back then. So I am not computer phobic, just lazy I guess.

I downloaded Pirates! by Celia Rees, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafizi, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audry Niffenger, and The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. I had already burned them to CD, but I didn't set it up right so the CD goes back to track one every time I turn the car off. GRRR. So now I have them all in one place and all I have to do is turn the player on and off and it starts where I left off. I am in heaven!! Wish I had done this a long time ago. I have my iPod for music, but hadn't gone the player route for books until now. I was amazed I was able to fit all 4 books on a 1GB player. I didn't have much left over, just a smidgen of memory, but I was so pleased with myself. I am all set for the trip now. The camera is empty and ready for me to snap pics in Key West and of the girls in Kansas City. Can't wait to see how much Kady has grown in the last month. Ally's birthday was today so I sure hope her gifts arrived - I was going to pack them in my suitcase but when Steve reminded me I had to pack for both warm and cold weather I decided sending them UPS was much wiser. Even stuck a couple of Christmas gifts in there too. Ally is 5 already.

My book for plane reading is Tripping to Somewhere by Kristopher Reisz - a Simon Pulse title. I was hoping to have it read by now, but work keeps getting in the way of my reading!

Music for the car ride between Miami and Key West is Alan Jackson's new ballads CD Like Red on a Rose. He has such a soothing voice. Allison Krause produced this CD and her gentle touch shows.

That's it for me tonight. I still need to pack. Have the iron heating up so I can get the major wrinkles out of my Dockers and jeans. Need to find my shorts for Key West too. Oh yeah - need to get my coat packed as soon as I get off the computer so I don't forget.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oh man - no Lost tonight and I missed the finale last week as I was on a plane while it was on. Steve taped it but the tape went "funky" at the very end. He said that was almost worse than not seeing it at all. I asked him to bring the tape with him anyway in case we have a VCR in our hotel room in Key West. We get a free massage with our room - boy am I looking forward to that! I love Key West - hope we have time to go through the Hemingway House again. One of the museums there has a lion drawn by Hemingway - his first book? A picture book? :-) Guess I will have to watch Bones tonight instead. I like it because it is a bit like NCSI. Mark Harmon is a lot better looking as an "old guy" than he was on St. Elsewhere, which Steve and I love to watch in reruns. I watched Jericho for a couple of weeks but it isn't holding my interest.

It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day - the leaves haven't all fallen yet. Oranges, reds, yellows, etc. I love this time of the year - cool enough to wear a sweater, but no need for a jacket yet. The forecast says it will get into the 30s at night this weekend. Maybe it will wait until I am gone on Saturday and will warm up again before I get back home.

We picked names for Secret Santa today at our faculty meeting. The cool part of this is that we are going to pick a book that we think our chosen colleague might have picked to give to the homeless shelter in Greenville. After we open the book from our secret Santa at our Christmas luncheon they will be donated to the homeless shelter. The ECU ALA Student Chapter is doing something similar. We have students all over NC and a few out of state, who will also donate books to their local homeless shelters. I love the idea of giving books to children and teens who are spending the Holidays in less than comfortable surroundings.

Who ever my secret Santa is might choose a YA fantasy novel to donate, like The Hunter's Moon by O.R. Melling. This is 2005 Amulet title that I had "misplaced" in the apartment in the islands. What a cool book! Set in Ireland, two cousins - one Irish and one American - set out on a road trip to find out if their belief in faeries just might be real. They find out just how real it is when Findabhair is kidnapped by the King of the Faeries and Gwen has to find her inner strength to bring her cousin back. Once into Faerie, Gwen realizes that maybe Findabhair doesn't want to leave - she has fallen in love with the King. Is she to be the human sacrifice that is required under the Hunter's Moon? Or, will the King fall in love with his human captive and not be willing to sacrifice her? Perhaps Gwen in her place? Such a delicious fantasy tale with a unsure of herself teenage female protagonist who discovers just how strong she really is. Now I want to find and read the second book in The Chronicles of Faerie, The Summer King. It introduces a new character and is again set in Ireland and includes Faeries, of course. :-) Offer these books to the girls who love Holly Black's Tithe.

All for today.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It is only a bit after 7 a.m. and I have already checked my email and finished my first Diet Coke for the day. My body has settled back into the comfort of my own bed and I am sleeping again! I love to travel but my body does not. Takes me days to get back in synch. By Saturday I will be feeling hunky dory and it will be time to get on a plane again headed for Florida. I am meeting Steve in Miami and we are spending a couple of days in Key West, which we both love, before flying to Kansas City for Thanksgiving. So I have to pack shorts and flip flops as well as winter clothes so we can wander through the outdoor Christmas lights displays in downtown Kansas City. We are staying near the plaza so I can get my Christmas decoration "fix". I have the battery charging for my digital camera so I can take lots of pictures. Ran to CVS yesterday to get wrapping paper for Ally's birthday gift and left with a 3 foot lighted Christmas tree too. Mary called me Sunday to say there were putting up their tree. She has certainly inherited her Mother's love of Christmas. Steve is bringing a golf bag full of my Christmas "stuff" that is still in the islands. I will be able to really decorate the condo this year. :-)

I was reading through Nancy Werlin's blog about the National Book Awards this a.m. I am so excited that her The Rules of Survival is on the list for young people's literature. Below is the full list in this category. Nancy is in good company, but I was blown away by Rules of Survival and really really really want it to win. Nancy deserves this recognition as she is one of today's best YA authors and her books just keep getting better. They are so suspenseful. And, Nancy has a wicked sense of humor - just go to her blog and check out the 4 inch killer black heels she bought for the ceremony. My ankles hurt just looking at them! The blog is a hoot!

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. One: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
Sold by Patricia McCormick
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

One of my latest reads takes me into the tween territory, rather than upper level YA like Nancy writes. I fell in love with Debi Gliori's Pure Dead Batty. I had a wonderful fantastical romp through the moldy and often creature occupied hallways and rooms of the Scottish "castle" StregaSchloss with the Strega Borgia family. This 5th book about an Italian family reminds me a bit of the Addams family in relation to the absurd humor, the talking creatures (love the lipstick wearing spiders) and the decidedly "weird" kids. Titus is the only one who tastes his mom's tainted dinner and ends up with a massive dose of testosterone and sprouts hair and muscles. Nanny McLachlan has disappeared and Dad Luciano has been charged with her murder. Mom Baci is pregnant again and under the "spell" of the dastardly lawyer whose intent is to keep Dad in prison. Pandora, the logical middle sister with the camera, develops photographs that she didn't take that prove to be leads as to what really happened to their Nanny. And baby Damp, whose magical powers are already greater than her wanna-be-a-witch Mom, is the one who literally holds the string that can bring her beloved Nanny back. You gotta love this toddler along with her accident prone familiar, a batty bat! After reading this delightful fantasy I plan on buying the other 4 titles to curl up with during the Holidays. Offer these to the tweens who love Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl and any other fantasy with a quirky edge. Or buy them for your adult friends who want a fun read in front the fire or at the beach this Holiday season.

That's it for this chilly Tuesday morning. The sun is shining and the some of the trees are still holding their glorious Fall colors. NC is beautiful in the Autumn. :-)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Oh boy- a new version of Blogger is available. But, I will wait a bit before I do that. I am still getting used to the new Yahoo email screens. So many updates, so little time! Had a discussion yesterday with a colleague about all the new technology "bells and whistles" we could incorporate into our online courses. But, technology for technology's sake, rather than adding value to the course is not my cup of tea. I am truly the "bookarian" one of my young patrons called me years ago. It has become my favorite descriptor for who I am. Not that I don't love everything else that goes on in a library, but I have a passion for books. Some of my friends have a passion for learning the newest technology related to our profession. My passion is books, in both print and audio format. I want to read or listen to the newest books for children and teens so that I can introduce them to anyone who will listen! I have a stack of articles next to me on audiobooks as I am about to write an article on children and audiobooks, which are referred to as "talking books" when doing a database search. Talking books - interesting term.

My early morning hours today were spent with Tarheel Libraries (a publication from the NC Library Association) and American Libraries. I read both from front to back. Am pondering what 4 characters I want on my NC "Drive for Libraries" license plate. :-) BKRN perhaps? Highlighted the statistic in American Libraries that listed the only age range with an increase in certified librarians is the 45 to 54 year old age group. Clear support that librarianship is a second career for many people. I love having students in my courses who have a base of life experience and years in the PreK-12 environment as teachers before they join the ranks of we subversive school librarians. :)

My late night hours last night were spent with Pete Hautman's Rash. No - I wasn't itching, but the other teens at the school Bo is kicked out of after he triggered a mass hysteria about a rash are indeed breaking out and itching. Soon everyone was covered in little red bumps and Bo became Typhoid Mary. That, along with his inability to control his temper, gets him sentenced to prison, which in this futuristic novel, includes making pizzas. People go to prison for the smallest offenses - this is how the government makes money - it sells the a felon's contract to a private company where the felon is then put to work for long hours with no pay. Slick deal for both the government and the companies involved. Bo gets sentenced to a pizza making facility in the Canadian tundra where the threat of being fed to the polar bears keeps most of the teenage guys working and eating pizza, even though they are sick of it. Bo is "promoted" to the Goldshirts and learns how to play football, which has been banned in the USSA (once the USA) for many years - too dangerous. People wear a helmet when going to a walk! Add to this craziness the Artificial Intelligence being Bork, who Bo created in school, and you have a fun read. Bork is able to get Bo out of prison, but will Bo be able to survive on the outside with no football and no fear of polar bears? :-) A funny but haunting look at a possible future I would have no desire to live in. I love Hautman's books, with Mr. Was still ranking as my favorite. Need to find a copy and reread it - such a cool historical fantasy.

Although the SLJ Summit and my time with Mary, Scott, and my grandson Michael were wonderful, I am so glad to be back home in Greenville. I sighed in relief when I walked into the condo late Wednesday night and have been sighing in contentment ever since. The weather is still wonderful and the trees are losing their colorful leaves. I love Autumn in NC! Now if Steve were here all would be right in my world. :-)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh my am I tired! I did get 7 hours of sleep last night, but it has been a hectic day. There are boxes of books in my office that I did not have time to open. And, boxes of books at home I did not have time to open, but I did get most of the two duffel bags unpacked this evening. I about killed myself hauling them up the stairs to the condo this morning so I wasn't about to unpack them until I had ended this day of work. The postal lady called me to ask if she could leave my mail in front of the door since there was too much to fit in the mail box. It is sitting at my feet, with the bills opened at least. I celebrated the end of this day by curling up in my pjs and eating strawberries while watching Lost after editing a proposal for a presentation another professor and I hope to do in the Spring on family violence and how YA novels can be used to introduce this difficult subject. First book that came to mind when Libby suggested a session on books about family violence is not a YA novel, it is a children's book, but is so intense it is unforgettable. What Jamie Saw by Coman is incredible. I used to read aloud in class the scene where the stepfather throws the baby across the room like a football and the mother reaches out catches the baby as if that is what she was put on earth to do and the gasp of my students echoed what I feel every time I read it. E.R. Frank's America is going to certainly be one of the YA books on family violence I will share. I found myself wanting to hug this teen as his pain radiated from the pages of this heartbreaking novel. But, I have too many deadlines before this presentation next semester that I need to set this thought aside and move on to writing an article on audio books!

I did read a wonderful fantasy novel on the way home yesterday, but I have no idea where I put it at the moment so it will have to wait until tomorrow to talk about. Good night!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Less than 2 hours and I leave for the airport. These 10 days have gone by fast, especially since I didn't get to the beach or to any of my favorite waterfront haunts. But, I am not complaining too loudly as I had Shipwreck burgers twice and Steve made his yummy stuffed baked potatoes for me. And, I got to have mommy/kitty time in the mornings with Sophie. She is staying down here due to her weight problem! Steve suggests we call her hippo-let after I suggested piglet, since she weighs too much to take her as carry on and US Air does not ship pets in cargo. Max is 15 lbs. and she weighs that without the carrier. So I will have to fly American in December as they don't have the restrictions. We brought her down on American. Not looking forward to her crying in the car from the airport in Raleigh to Greenville.

This apartment looks a lot less like a bachelor pad than it did when I arrived. Spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen and bathroom and picking up "stuff" all over the place. Whatever open space there is Steve fills up with change, crumpled receipts, smashed mail, and anything else that happened to end up in his pockets that day. I used to think we were bad with our purses, but women are nothing compared to guys and their pockets. I am amazed what can come out of his pockets at the end of a day. At least most of ours goes back into our purse when we look for something. Steve empties his pockets each night and only the keys and his wallet go back in the next morning. The rest of the "stuff" piles up in little heaps around the apartment. I found the kitchen counters and the coffee table but didn't even attempt his latest "deposits" on my desk and the dining room table. They can wait until December because I am sure they will be right there when I get back.

Finished Mary E Lyons' Letters from a Slave Boy: The Story of Joseph Jacobs, a companion novel to Letters from a Slave Girl, which Lyons wrote 15 years ago and is about Harriet Jacobs, one of the early female Abolitionists. Both of these books are fictional accounts based on Lyons' research. Very little is to be found about Joseph so she used historical information from the time period to create a credible young man. Joseph is taught to read and write by the young white boy he teaches to fish. They are friends until the other boy's father tells him that is not possible. Joseph discovers that his father is a white man who has purchased their papers, but has not set them free. The previous owner insists it was an illegal transaction and that he still owns them. Joseph writes letters to his mother, sister, uncle and others he meets during the 20 year period of mid 1800s this book covers. The letters are mostly written in a ledger and not sent. This format does not allow for the depth that a narrative style novel would have, but I do think it will appeal to MS age boys as Joseph joins a whaling crew, ends up in California during the Gold Rush, and "disappears" in Australia. I have not read the first book so I cannot compare the details from the time periods that overlap, but it is a credible addition to an upper elementary or MS library.

Should get some grading done before I haul the last of the two duffel bags out to the car. They are both under the max of 50 lbs. but still not easy for me to deal with. At the airport on St. Thomas you have to check in and after they weigh your luggage, you have to go through customs with luggage in tow. The last two times Steve and I flew together we used a porter. Not sure what I will do today - will probably have to do the same as Steve can't come into the customs area with me. Been up since before 6 a.m. so I hope I can at least doze part of the way to Charlotte. That is, unless they have a really good movie showing. :-)

Next entry will be from Greenville, or perhaps Chicago if I don't get to it before Friday a.m. Headed to the SLJ Summit.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A breezy Sunday afternoon. We went down to Shipwreck to have a burger for lunch. Yummy fries today - I don't want to think of the weight I have put on since I got down here. Steve has taken me out for all my favorite on island foods. We didn't stick around for football today as the Kansas City Chiefs' game was not being shown. So he is off to the office for a bit and to get more Diet Coke in case we run out before I leave. He knows how crabby I can get with out my caffeine fix in the a.m.!

Steve still has the head/chest cold thing he caught when we were in Kansas City. He wanted to go out to dinner last night but I told him it wasn't fair to the Halloween partiers for him to be coughing on them. Besides I wasn't in the mood to watch a bunch of drunk Draculas and Playboy Bunnies tottering about. We watched The Prairie Home Companion and called it an early night. That movie was worth what we paid for it - a free Blockbuster coupon. I don't like Garrison Keillor, but Steve loves his radio show. The best part was Kevin Kline as Guy Noir - the private detective. It was better than the Robin William's bomb we watched last weekend - RV. Williams has done some real stinkers in his career and this one is the worst I have seen. It can't even come close to Chevy Chase's family vacation movies. My movie choice last weekend was The Break-up with Jennifer Aniston. It was an okay movie, but I was prepared for a comedy and it really wasn't funny, just down right sad and depressing. A woman doing dumb things to get a jerk to appreciate her, but he is too self centered to even realize, much less care, why she is acting the way she is. So, it certainly didn't live up to the hype. The only movie I have seen in the last 2 weeks that I liked was The Devil Wears Prada, which I saw on the plane on the way down here. Meryl Streep did a fantastic job as a bitchy women's magazine publisher. Much better than her dorky role in The Prairie Home Companion. I have seen more movies in the last 2 weeks than I have in the last 2 months, other than the old ones I watch on TMC.

After the couple of depressing books I had read I needed a feel good book and found a copy of Barbara Park's The Graduation of Jake Moon in my bookcases. What a delightful, honest depiction of how a tween/young teen would feel about his beloved grandfather Skelly's Alzheimer's. Jake pretends he doesn't know Skelly when he and two other MS guys see Skelly get into the dumpster, but his feelings of guilt afterward eat away at him. All in all this is a beautiful story of a loving family who bicker and fight, but all love Skelly and do the best they can to help a once active and vibrant elderly man deal with an illness he isn't even aware he has. The graduation scene brought tears to my eyes. This is a must have book for every upper elementary and MS library. And, a gift to give to somone you know whose loved one has Alzheimer's.

Steve's dad has Alzheimer's and when his parents lived with us for a little while in Texas I was amazed by Steve's Mom's patience. Charlie was like a little child. He woke early and I would find him out in the dining area playing Solitaire. He would watch as I made my tea and bagel. I always asked him if he wanted a bagel and he would say no but when I turned around 1/2 of mine would be gone. So we kept the routine the same, with me asking and him saying no, but I made another 1/2 a bagel so he could sneak 1/2 of the first one I made. He didn't have a clue who I was or even who his son was most of the time, but he was always pleasant and kind. Now he is in a nursing home and knows no one. We bought him a Halloween card that plays music when you open it. Each time he opens it, will most likely be as if he hadn't heard it before. I imagine he will drive the nurses nuts with it, but it will entertain him. We hope, but who knows what is going on inside of his mind. I just hope what thought are there are good ones.

Sorry - not such a pleasant note to end this entry on. But, thinking about Alzheimer's has also caused me to think of my Gramma and how much I loved her, even when she didn't know who I was. I went back to Michigan to have my first baby and my mom told Gramma that I was her granddaughter and that I was going to have a baby. Gramma so innocently said, "Oh, I just thought she was really fat!" I have a picture of Gramma holding Mic at a week or so old. She had such a serene smile on her face. She didn't know the baby in her arms was her great-grandson, but I did and that picture still does my heart good. Not sure my current smile is as serene as her's was that day, but the memory certainly is making me smile.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Several sailboats in view through the window. Was out on the deck with Steve's binoculars to see what the deal was out by "my" island. There is a tiny island in the bay right in front of us that no one goes to, but somehow there is a white plastic chair on it. I want to go out there and just sit and read, but no way to get there. Anyway, some small power boat must have been having problems as a dinghy was out there too. No boat run up on the reef like before. If you don't have the reef charts, it looks like a great little short cut between the shore and the island, but the reef is very close to the surface there. More than a few rental boats have discovered that too late.

We went to Bottom's Up for the Wednesday spaghetti special last night. I have enough left over for two more meals. Sure was quiet in there - not high season yet. The big change was the new chairs - more comfortable that the plastic ones they used to have, but these new metal and mesh ones make it even more difficult to get near the bar so you don't slop spaghetti sauce all over you while you eat. We were the only non-boat people in the place. I envy them being able to just sit back and relax while watching a movie in the bar and then amble down to their boat for the night. I have never ambled anywhere in my life - I am too hyper. I was good - I didn't go through the books in the "library" there - I have more than I know what to do with. Looked like someone had brought in a whole box of them that there was no room for on the shelves. Most of it is really old stuff that has been gathering dust there for who knows how long.

Headed to Montessori tomorrow and will bring more books with me. Still have a bunch of them on the shelves in the apartment. Need to decide what I want to send back to NC. Guess I will send my cookbooks, though I am not sure why. We had to buy pots and pans so Steve and I could make spaghetti for dinner while he was in Greenville. Cooking for one is not my cup of tea - heck, cooking for more than one is not my cup of tea either! I just love to browse cookbooks and on a rare occasion, bake. Made brownies the day after I got down here.

I loved the movie Pay It Forward although I have not read the book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. But, when I saw The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance, a 2007 Knopf title, is writeen by Hyde I dove right in. It is not a happy book, but like so many of YA novels that address problems, this one has a light at the end of the tunnel. Thirteen-year-old Cynnie has been taking care of her little brother Bill, who has Down's Syndrome, for so long she sees herself more as his mother than older sister. Cynnie loves Bill more than anything else in life and clearly he feels the same - her name, well almost her name (Thynnie), is all he can say. Their mother spends her days in her robe, with a bottle of booze of one type or another at her side and cigarette hanging out of her fingers. Cynnie is afraid she will burn the house down so she is the mother in this situation as well. Since her dad died, a steady line of boyfriends have made their way in and out of their home and her mother's bedroom. It isn't until Zack, who was much younger than her mom, moved in that Cynnie started drinking and smoking on a regular basis. You could say that Zack got her started, so she is more than a bit surprised to see him in the mandated AA meeting she attends after smashing a car into a guard rail, while trying to run away with Bill. Cynnie becomes Cynthia as she works her way through the AA program - a young woman whose goal is to gain custody of her brother when she turns 18. This is a must have for any YA collection. Teens are becoming heavy drinkers at an earlier and early age - 13 is no surprise, sadly. They need to know there are people out there who can help them, even if their own family members cannot.

Okay - now to pack up those cookbooks before we lose power. It is thundering like crazy out there and getting dark.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why is it when you nap that you wake up grumpier and feeling more tired than before the nap? I woke up wide awake at 5 a.m. this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. Put the cat out at 5:30 and waited for Steve's alarm to go off so I could get up and read. So then at 8:30, I start to get tired and decide a nap for an hour or so would be good. Nope! I woke up grumpy, with an "I don't want to do anything" attitude. But, after listening to Mary talk about how tired she is working a full time job, a toddler in the house, and being pregnant, I decided whining was not the best way of dealing with my nap grumpies and got to work. I even washed a load of clothes and while I was outside thought about going to the beach, but that is as far as I got - a thought. It is still very hot down here!

The first thing I did was call US Air to make sure I had a reservation to take Sophie back with me and found out that basically I can't. They do not allow pets in cargo and she is too big to take as carry on. The pet and the carrier have to be less than 15 pounds and my chub of a cat is 15 lbs all by her lonesome. Called Steve to whine, but caught him at a bad time in the office so I didn't get to fuss about it. Looks like she is down here until Christmas and I will have to fly American in and out of Raleigh so I can take her back to NC with me. They will allow pets in cargo. GRRRRR!!! I am sure Steve is not going to be a happy camper as he is tired of being responsible for my cat and cleaning up her fur that flies all over. But, I can't very well starve her for a week to lose enough weight to cover the weight of a carrier.

So I buried myself in work. Just finished the review for Only 13: The True Story of Lon by Julia Manzanares and Derek Kent. It is listed as a memoir, but the story is from the first person point of view of a Thai woman who sold her virginity at age 13 and worked as a teenage prostitute in Bangkok and a seaside resort town in Thailand. She does not have pretty things to say about her country, her family, or Thai people in general. The bitterness she feels over having sold her body to send money home to an inappreciative family is scalding, but she never thought to stop doing so as it is expected of the oldest girl, who is often denied an education, to support her family. This is a culture I knew nothing about and, though this book is very poorly written, I couldn't help but want to know what this woman finally did to get herself out of the situation. She ends up marrying one of the men she had been seeing and moves to England with him, where they fight continuously, she attempts suicide, and then goes into a deep depression. Not a pretty book, but it certainly opened my eyes up to the sex-trade in Thailand that I had heard bits and pieces about in the past.

All for today. Other than my hour nap I have been working since 6 a.m. so I am ready to call it a day, at least for a bit!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I know for sure I am back in the islands since I woke up to the sound of the NFL channel both yesterday and today! Steve lives and breathes football this time of the year. We are off to Shipwreck for burgers for lunch here shortly so he can see if they are showing both the Chiefs and the Texans games on their many screens. We went shopping this a.m. up in Tutu as I drank the last Diet Coke for breakfast and he knows how grumpy I can get without my a.m. fix! The grocery stores are so different down here. The freezer aisle is full of ice cream that is so covered with freezer frost that you can't even read what kind it is. The cartons are beat up and battered. We also stopped at Blockbuster to pick up The Break-Up, one of the chick flicks I wanted to see. I figured I deserved it as we watched X-Files episodes last night. And, after watching football all day today.

No YA book to talk about today as I am not quite finished with the Thai girl bio I am reading. But, I did enjoy the picture book, Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler and Kevin O'Malley, published by Walker. Had to chuckle when I saw the title. Made me think of the comment one of the presenters at the NC School Library Media Assn. Conference said, "We leave no child untested"! Boy is that the truth. But, this book is actually quite interesting. Main character is a boy who doesn't like to read as he hasn't liked any of the books Miss Malarkey keeps offering him. He would rather play video games, but when his buddies, who also hadn't been reading, are now talking about books, he wonders if there is something to it. And, finally when the school has reached their goal of 1000 books, and the school year is about to end, Miss Malarkey knows enough about him that she has found a book that will catch his attention. Success! He is reading it in bed, under the covers with a flashlight, so he can finish it. He read the 1001 st book. Very cute book that every K-5 collection should have.

All for now. Two days in the islands and I am experiencing culture shock to say the least. Saw a few acquaintances when we went out for pizza at Sop Choppys last night. Brought Donna, the manager, some WalMart beef jerky she wanted. It is funny the things people crave down here, probably because they know they can't get them! We left as soon as a young woman came in, holding an almost empty champagne bottle, shouting a very loud and profane hello to her friends at the bar. Guess she was still celebrating a wedding she had gone to. Life revolves around the hangouts near the marinas for many of the Anglos who work down here, especially the young and single ones. One of the guys on the plane when I was coming back asked me if there are a lot of single women down here. I laughed and said no, that the men out number the women 10 to one. The women pick and choose and many of the young ones make their way through the guys on island, often never finding one they want a long term relationship with. Let's just say, the single women who stay on the island long term are more than a bit "unique"!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A very dreary day after lots of rain during the night. Glad the rain waited until Steve left so we weren't hauling in stuff in the rain. I love the room darkening drapes he hung in the bedroom. I am now sleeping through the dawn, but they didn't help at 2 a.m. when the girl across the way decided to have a party of one on her balcony. She must have been on her cell phone, but the drapes sure didn't block out her laughing. The downside of living in a condo - you can't control who moves in around you. But, I am feeling more at home here with our pictures on the walls, etc. I am looking at a Robert Lyn Nelson print of whales that I got in Hawaii back in the 1980s. Sadly, it has a water stain on it due to Steve's saltwater fish tank going wonky on us and spraying water all over. But, it has character now! :-) I have always wanted to go to Nelson's studio on Maui, but have yet to get there.

This has become the age of the "big book" when it comes to tween/teen novels. Rowling's Harry Potter titles just got larger and larger. I remember as a young teen choosing the thickest books on the shelf in my tiny K-12 school library as I knew it would last longer. Michener became one of my favorite authors - as much for the length of his books as the content. :-) The advanced reading copy of Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret is quite a heavy tome and is one I would have certainly pulled from the shelves. I want to get the review written for it before I leave for the islands so I don't have it weighing down my luggage! As 531 pages, you'd think this would be a long read, but it isn't due to the fact that a portion of the story is told via Selznick's detailed drawings. He uses a number of sequenced drawings rather than narrative to share the story of Hugo's life and obsession with the automaton his father had found in the attic of the museum he worked at. When his father dies in a fire at the museum, Hugo is forced to live with his drunkard uncle who is responsible for the clocks in the train station. Hugo finds the damaged mechanical man in the rubble of the museum and take it to his little room in the walls of the train station and begins to repair it, using the detailed drawings in his father's notebook and the parts he steals from the toymaker's booth in the station. Getting caught by the toymaker and being forced to work for the old man (Georges Melies, who did create automatons and was a filmmaker) changes Hugo's life forever, as the old man is the link to being able to complete the repairs on the mechanical man with the pen in his hand. An absolutely fascinating book about an orphaned boy and the link he has to a mysterious old man who is trying to forget his past and wonderful movies and automatons that he created. Readers will pick this book up because of the wonderful drawings and will linger long because of the fascinating story, based on historical research and fact.

Okay - time to get my act together for the day as I have meetings starting at 11:00 and going through the rest of the day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Woke up before 6 a.m. - thinking about all the stuff I have to get done before I leave for the islands on Friday. Weds. and Thurs. are pretty much booked with meetings so I need to get as much done today as I can. Need to finish up the proposal for the AASL Conference in Reno in 2007. I love presenting on YA books at that conference - the attendees love YA literature as much as I do. :-)

Was looking through the Quill Awards online at, which were announced last Tuesday. Since these are voted on by readers it was no surprise that Numeroff's If You Give a Pig a Pancake won in the children's illustrated book division. Kotwinkle's Walter the Farting Dog Goes on a Cruise was one of the nominees. I have to admit I love Walter - what a cool dog, just not in my house! Friends in Alaska made the mistake of giving their dog caribou meat, but that only happened once due to the stinky results of the wild meat going through his digestive system! I would have loved to see DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane win the Middle Grades division, but it is no surprise that a Lemony Snicket title won - The Penultimate Peril. All of the titles in the YA division were great, with Eldest by Paolini winning. My choice would have been Elsewhere by Zevin, but I am sure many others would have gone for Zusak's The Book Thief. I emailed Steve last night about the winner in the sports division - a book by a woman! :-) Told him I want my own copy of Get Your Own Damn Beer, I'm Watching the Game!: A Woman's Guide to Loving Pro Football by Holly Robinson Peet. He said I might be dangerous if I read this! It is no fun watching games without him as he isn't here to tell me - "Shh! We have neighbors!" I have a tendency to really get into the game. Anyway, there are tons of great books that won and were nominees. A good place to start when deciding on books to buy for friends and family for Christmas.

With everything going on around here I haven't had a chance to read much, but I did finish Feels Like Home by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo. And yes, that is how she wants her initials to appear - one lower, one upper. She is a native of South Texas, where this book is set, but she now lives in Madison, WI. Quite a climate change! Having lived in Texas for over a decade and driving or flying down to Brownsville and/or McAllen to teach LS courses when I taught for Sam Houston State University, I felt very comfortable in the Hispanic rich culture this novel so deftly brings to life. The friendship between the gringa, Mickey (the protagonist) and Christina, the atypical daughter in a Mexican family who has recently moved to the area to open a restaurant, is wonderful. Charlton-Trujillo writes Christina's dialog as a Spanish speaking teen would talk - a mix of Spanish and English. And, the fact that Christina's mother does not want her hanging out with a gringa is also very real. The novel begins at Mickey's father's funeral, when her older brother Danny returns to town after disappearing six years prior, after the death of his best friend at the HS football stadium. Mickey isn't ready to forgive him for leaving her, or for what happened to Roland, even if she can't remember exactly what happened that night. She does know that Danny flicking open that Zippo lighter makes her uneasy. Even Danny making references to Ponyboy and the other characters in Hinton's The Outsiders doesn't cause Mickey to let down her guard. "You ain't Darry and I ain't Ponyboy. This ain't The Outsiders... And there are no happy endings." She tries to block out the memories of them reading this book together, before he left. The references to this classic YA novel are prolific - it is practically a character unto itself. Any teen who hasn't read The Outsiders will want to read it after reading Feels Like Home. I have read it many times and I wanted to go find my copy to read again. Charlton-Trujillo takes the reader on the intense roller coaster of seventeen-year-old Mickey's emotions as she tries to come to terms with the abandonment by her mother and brother as a child and her father's recent death. Anger comes easy to Mickey, but tears and forgiveness do not.

Since I got up so early I am ready for my second Diet Coke and a bagel. :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

It feels like ages since I have had a chance to just sit down and "talk" on this blog. A very hectic couple of weeks with NCSLMA conference attendance and then time with Steve.

The NC School Library Media Association Conference in Winston-Salem was wonderful. My favorite part was the author luncheon as Linda Sue Park spoke and she was both eloquent and funny. She spoke about her life and her writing process. Most everyone knows about A Single Shard, but my favorite Park book is one that you hear little about - Archer's Quest. A 12-year-old boy's studies are rudely interrupted when an arrow flies into his bedroom and pins his baseball cap to the wall. Right behind it is Skillful Archer, who was born in 55 BC. This is a true "guy book" with a martial arts skilled time traveler who is also a Chinese noble who has formed his own kingdom, Koguryo, which is now Korea. Accustomed to being in charge he demands that Kevin help him find his way back home and to do so they must find the tiger he was riding when he fell through time. A well written fantasy that weaves ancient history into a modern day setting. Tweenage boys will love the archery and martial arts emphasis. A wonderful book for booktalking.

On the home front - I met Steve in Kansas City last Saturday, after a 4 hour delay due to mechanical difficulties with the plane here in Greenville. I ended up puddle jumping through Chicago to get to KC that evening. But, we did go directly to the hospital so I could hold our newest grandbaby. :-) Kadynce Anne has a full head of hair and is an active newborn. Poor Monica was exhausted as she had visitors all day and we were the last in the stream. I know I should have waited until the Sunday, but I knew we were leaving on Monday and I wanted to get two visits in during the weekend, which we did. Still am working on the baby quilt, but Kady won't know that it is going to be late.

After the hospital visit, Steve took me to the theme park that he worked at when he was a teenager so we could see the Halloween displays. We waited for 45 minutes to get into the Haunted "House" - actually a campground set-up - while surrounded by little boys who were as hyper as all get out. One was even hanging on the back of my jeans and we hadn't even gotten in yet. Closer to the entrance his fear got the best of him and he went back. Good thing as I would have spun him off of me like a whirling dervish! One of the ghouls chased me in circles around Steve, who thought it quite funny. I am a wuss when it comes to this kind of thing - ghouls jumping out and screaming at you, etc. I screamed so loud back at them I had a sore throat when we left. The worst was the toilet monster - it sprayed us with with what I hope was a mist of clean water! Steve loves Halloween as much as I love Christmas and I am sure I entertained him as much as the employees who knew they had someone they could torment!

Maybe it was the toilet water that did him in, as poor Steve woke up Monday morning with a horrible head cold. We drove back to Greenville through Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky, West Virginia, etc. What a beautiful two day drive - Mother Nature had her autumn paintbrush out and the trees were a splendor of oranges, yellows, and reds. I had forgotten how beautiful the Autumn is where there aren't palm trees! Wish Steve had been feeling better so he could have enjoyed it more. My neck got sore from having to look in every direction.

Even with his horrible head cold Steve was able to get a good portion of my "honey do" list done during the week. And, we watched the first 4 DVD's of Lost, season 2. I had not seen most of them so I had a few shocks. So now I have my O'Keefe print up from Mic and Mary and other artwork that makes it feel like home. And, he got the fireplace pilot light lit so I can flip a switch and have a fire in the evening. Now all I need is Sophie and I leave for the islands on Friday and will bring her back with me.

As much as I would like to just chat via the keyboard I have a meeting summary to write. Drat!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Busy, busy! Off to the NC School Library Media Assn. Conference in Winston-Salem in a few hours. Still haven't finished packing. Do have the important stuff in the suitcase - tea bags, Luna bars, honey wheat pretzels! :-) I am doing a booktalking presentation on Friday a.m. so I need to get my books packed too. Was up late grading last night so didn't have time to pack - needed some sleep, but was still up at 1 a.m. worrying about what I hadn't gotten done. Should have gotten back up and packed!

Went to the East Carolina Literary Homecoming on Saturday and had the pleasure of listening to James Ransome and Eliza Carbone talk about their craft. Ransome took us step by step through the process of how he creates his illustrations from photographs and showed us slides of his workshop and his children. I had him autograph an alphabet book, Quilt Alphabet, that he and his wife did together for our newest grandbaby, Kady, who will join us via C-section on Friday. Also bought Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl for MJ so I can read it to him. I love doing that story! I get to see him the first week of November - Yahoo!!

Carbone discussed her research process, which is extensive, even to the point of sitting out in hurricane force winds to get the feel of what a character would be experiencing! I came home with two of her YA novels, but didn't get them autographed as I missed her autographing session. :-( Can't wait to read Blood on the River - about James Town and Storm Warriors, which is set on the Outer Banks of NC and based on a true story of African American life saving crew.

Karen, Lindsey, Libby and I were sitting together at lunch, talking about the morning presenters and the local newspaper reporter came up to talk to us. Our comments about the Literary Homecoming made the front page of the Sunday paper! :-)

All for now - really do need to pack and take care of the last minute things before I load my stuff into Bonny (my car - since it is a 007, named after Bond, but a female version! I love Brosnan's Bond, but am not a Connery fan at all.) Karen is navigating so I don't get lost! :-)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Men in Trees - what a quirky show! I can't help but watch it. Having lived for over 15 years in Alaska I am picking at the show in relation to what is unrealistic. However, this show does have it right about life revolving around the local bar. Where else but in an Indian village on the banks of the Yukon do you have the HeadStart raffle in the local bar, with donations of smoked salmon, moose meat, etc.? That isn't on the show - that was part of my life in Alaska! As the HeadStart director I had to be at every raffle and hand out the prizes. A couple of local guys were trying to get me to raffle off a kiss (I was barely over 20 at time) but looking around at all the rotten and/or missing teeth I wasn't about to take that chance!

I have decided that living alone makes for very weird dinners! I started out with mixed nuts, picking out the good ones, and then moved on to Tofutti with dark chocolate chips mixed in. But, I did eat a healthy desert - a delicious ripe plum - so it wasn't a total disaster. All I can say is that right now I am really missing Steve's delicious stuffed baked potatoes!

Lots of hype about Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. Both are well known YA authors in their own right. Cohn wrote the popular Gingerbread and Shrimp. My favorite of Cohn's is her MS level Steps. She nails the feelings of a young teen who isn't ready to give up her daddy to a new family and accept weird Australian step-siblings. Levithan, best known for Boy Meets Boy, joins Cohn in this co-written Nick and Norah's night together, which begins with Nick asking Norah to be his girlfriend for 5 minutes so he won't look so needy when his ex-girlfriend Tris walks in with a new guy. I will honestly admit that the reason I would have picked this book up, without having heard about it to begin with, is the names - I love The Thin Man movies so Nick and Norah bring up visions of a humorous loving couple who tip way too many martinis. :-) Perhaps because these names had prior "lives" for me is part of why I did not connect with this book. Granted - I did immediately realize that this is one of those titles that has high appeal to older teens as Nick and Norah are at the point in their lives when they are leaving high school and entering the "real world". But, I got bored with the constant vulgar language and the club scene. I loved the way their relationship grew during the short period of time and how both of them moved toward becoming more confident as they got to know themselves through each other, but there was so much "junk" that distracted from the interpersonal dynamics that I kept saying to myself, get on with it! Will I recommend this book to teens? Oh yes! This is another one of those books that I don't love, but will booktalk and "advertise".

I am watching 20/20 about the difference between men and women. Interesting! And then I had better call it a night as I am attending the Literary Homecoming tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just read Ann Symons' email about how to apply for International School librarian positions and I had a touch of the wanderlust again. But, I squelched that quickly by reminding myself how much I missed living on the Mainland while on St. Thomas. Ann is in Moscow, after many years in Juneau, Alaska. The stereotype of the bun-wearing gum shoed librarian is no where to be seen in the ranks of the librarians who have held leadership positions in ALA. I know a librarian who wears three earrings in one ear and two in the other and favors cowboy boats over orthopedic shoes - that would be me! :-)

I haven't read the first title in the Ghosthunters series by Cornelia Funke, but I did read the second one, Ghosthunters and the Gruesome Invincible Lightening Ghost! The GILIG, as Hetty Hyssop and Tom call it, has taken over a seaside resort hotel and is turning the residents into mini lightening ghosts and blackening the walls of the hotel. Although Hetty is a delightfully feisty older woman and Tom her young sidekick is one brave kid, my favorite character is Hugo the Averagely Spooky Ghost (ASG). Hugo has a tendency to pull pranks and leaves his oozy slime everywhere, unless he wears shoes. His slime will come in very handy in defeating the GILIG. We think of Funke as a gifted author, but one has to see her funky :-) illustrations to realize she has a great visual comic sense of humor. Hugo is the coolest ASG around. I had such fun with this book, including the "Indispensable Alphabetical Appendix of Assorted Ghosts". My favorite is the IRG - Incredibly Revolting Ghost. Wonder how Funke illustrates that one. Elementary age boys will love these books and have a great time making up their own ghost appendix.

That is it for this beautiful Tuesday morning in Greenville. It is 88 degrees in STT and 61 degrees here. Quite a difference. Autumn has arrived in NC, but not to the VI.