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 http://www.thequills.org/2006.html, 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. :-)