Saturday, March 31, 2007

I'm experiencing morning sickness - no, not that kind! I am sick of waking up so early in the morning. Was up before 7:00 a.m. (By the way - the time noted for the entries is off by 3 hours) Between Sophie wandering around fussing and the sun coming in through the blinds I can't sleep in. GRRR!! We tied back the light blocking drapes so they would look nice when the condo is being shown and I don't want to mess with them so I get the morning sun in my eyes. And Sophie didn't let me sleep much last night as she is more than a bit upset with all the moving boxes all over the condo. The packers were here yesterday and while they were hauling in their boxes I put Sophie in her kennel. I was working in my office when I heard a weird caterwauling - didn't sound like Sophie. Then a short haired white and orange cat walked through my office. Apparently it had decided to come visit since the door was open and was taunting Sophie since she was in her kennel. First time I had ever seen that cat. I put the visitor out, closed the door, and let Sophie out of her kennel and she let me know in no uncertain terms with her voice and body language how she felt about another cat being in her domain. Let's just say it was a long day yesterday between worrying about Sophie getting out and the sound of screeching packing tape and scrunching paper coming from three different rooms in the condo. Four hours of that and I had a whopper of a headache when they left. So I get to live with this mess until Monday when the truck comes to pick it all up. I hope the rest of Steve's boxes from the islands arrive before then. The postal guy was hauling up the last two boxes of the first shipment that came in just as the packers arrived yesterday. If they don't show up by Monday they will get forwarded and we get to pay the forwarding costs. At least I don't have to deal with them until I open them in Lexington.

We closed on the house yesterday and I wasn't there. :-( Steve called me from the backyard - he was determining what kind of grass seed and fertilizer he needed to buy. He is a "house guy" - he needs a yard and a house to work on. That way he gets to buy "toys" at Home Depot. He met one of our new neighbors already and saw the other neighbor's little one toddling around the backyard so our grandkids will have others to play with when they visit. This is our first house Steve and I have bought together so this should prove to be interesting to see how we decorate it. We will be putting in new kitchen counter tops soon, even though the house is only 3 years old. The ones in there are really ugly and the renters the builder had in there were not easy on them. There is a switch for a garbage disposal, but no disposal so we will have one of those put in too. Also need to have the gas line put in for the fireplace. It is in for outside grill, but not the fireplace. Little weird things like that.

Seeing as I had an interesting day with my animal in the house yesterday, I have to talk about Sheila Keenan's Animals in the House: A History of Pets and People. A very funky and fun look at cats, dogs, rodents, fish, reptiles, etc. that we keep as pets, or I should say keep us as their humans. At least that is the case with cats. The text is very informal and speaks directly to the reader, which makes it very approachable for even the most reluctant reader. The merging of color photographs with funky borders and conversation balloons add to the appeal. Just flipping through the book makes you laugh - especially the way-cute pic of a ferret with its tongue sticking out the side of a wide open mouth. The history of the cat is extensive and fascinating - but it should be no surprise that I read that part first to anyone who knows my love of cats. This is not a well rounded look at pets as the emphasis is on cats and dogs. The first 79 of the 112 total pages is on them, with the rest on other types of pets. But, this is a gotta have book is elementary school libraries. What fun! The design and layout will have kids returning to it and sharing pics with each other - like the one of the guinea pig with a crown - you know England's Queen Elizabeth I had one as a royal pet. They were the rage among the royals. :-)

That's it for today. Need to get some of my "car stuff" packed so know for sure I can fit it all in.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Feel like a slug this morning from the pollen in the air. I think it has all settled into my head. I change my mind about how gorgeous those trees are out there in bloom! Took my car in to get the oil changed yesterday (first time - only a tad over 3000 miles on it so far) and received a free car wash. The car didn't sit in the parking lot here for but a few hours and was basically yellow with pollen again. I love Spring, but my itchy eyes are disagreeing. Would like to curl up and sleep for the day, but that isn't going to happen.

We close on the house on Friday but I won't be there. We cancelled the movers when we thought we were going to have problems with getting the builder to fix the inspection issues, but it worked out okay. So Steve will close without me. :-( I won't get to Lexington until some time on Tuesday as the driver won't be here until Monday. They packers will be here on Friday so I need to get my toaster oven and few other things put in the car. I'll believe I have a house when I walk in and Steve hands me my keys! Vegged last night and looked a the Improvements catalog for a bit - lots of cool stuff for houses and yards. Already have several pages turned down.

Did you ever just feel cold when you looked at a book? Chris Lynch's Sins of the Fathers made me feel cold right from the first look at the dark blue cover - a night time image of snow covered tree limbs framing a glowing window. Behind that window is Drew's bedroom, where he gets little sleep because his best friends since 1st grade at their Catholic school, Skitz and Hector, show in the middle of the night quite often. They go to their place - a huge tree near the river that someone has added steps to the V in the trunk. It is like a church pulpit. Skitz is never dressed for the weather and the coldness seeped into me as I imagined how cold he was in his sneakers and light jacket. BRRR!! Drew is the level headed one of the three. Hector wants to be a priest some day, if he can learn to control his temper and the need to pound on people, especially Skitz, who denies the beatings ever happen. Drew promises Hector to help him keep up if he ever falls behind, but worries about Hector's moods and headaches. There is more going on in Hector's life than he is telling Drew about. Skitz is "daffy as a box of frogs" as Lynch puts it, and without Drew and Hector to look after him he would have been kicked out of school by the nuns a long time ago. Much of their lives are controlled by Fathers Blarney, Mullarkey, and Shenanigan. I am not kidding - those are their names! Father Shenanigan is the one to beware of and Father Mullarkey loves rock and roll and drinks too much. Life isn't easy for these three 13-year-olds, but they are a tribe and they stick together. This book will make you laugh and cry and want to hug all three of the boys and force one of the Fathers to go to confession. Absolutely love this book! And so will MS/JH readers.

Need more caffeine to counteract the pollen drowsies!

Monday, March 26, 2007

The warm weather seems to have departed but it is still sunny. Sophie is upset because I won't leave the sliding door to the balcony open. In the 40s still - no way! Brrrr!!

Speaking of Brrrr - I just read a really cool book called The Snow Bay: The Arctic Childhood of Admiral Robert E. Peary's Daring Daughter by Katherine Kirkpatrick. The cover photograph of 18-month-old Marie dressed in fur from head to toe is adorable. Reminded me of the picture I have of Mic as an infant in a fox fur bunting. One of my favorite Alaska pictures. I related to the darkness of winter the Pearys experienced, though we never lived far enough north in Alaska that it stayed dark 24 hours a day, but when you work in an interior library with no windows it may as well be! This book is a visual treat because of the photographs. Between the informative text and the photographs that depict the culture and cold as no narrative can, Kirkpatrick has created a readily accessible biography for even the youngest future arctic explorer, male or female. :-) What makes this 50 page illustrated biography unique is that the older reader will pick up on the adept manner in which Kirkpatrick made Peary "human" rather than heroic. She did not shy away from addressing his Inuit children nor the fact that he thought it his right to remove the meteorites, even though the Inuits carved pieces off for tools. Kirkpatrick also addressed the lack of consideration Peary had for Henson's role in finding the Pole. All in all, a very well written biography about Peary's daughter, who, as an adult, was an advocate for Inuit rights in Greenland. When time allows I would like to read more about this very fascinating woman.

That's it for today. The guy should be here to disconnect the washer and dryer. For some strange reason the movers don't do that - a "technician" needs to come in to do that!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A gorgeous Sunday morning in Greenville. Sophie is sprawled out on her back in a sunbeam. It was so warm yesterday I had the balcony door open all day and she was back and forth from her little stool that she stands on so she can put her front paws and head up between the railings and watch people go by. She is so cute when she does that! She was out there at 8:00 last night when I closed it up. She is going to love the new house in Lexington. It appears we have come to an agreement with the builder and will be closing on the house on Friday. He isn't refinishing the hardwood floors or putting in the gas line for the fireplace but Steve said we'd take care of that. He is taking care of a pretty long list of other more important items. So I need to get the stuff I want to take with me to Lexington on Thursday in the car so they don't get packed this week. I am already groaning just thinking about the trips up and down the stairs. I have begun to really dislike stairs - or at least my hip has!

Seems appropriate on a Sunday morning to discuss Patrice Vecchione's poetry collection Faith & Doubt, which received a superb review in VOYA. A "gotta have" in any YA collection. I picked it up because of the title and the colorful dust jacket. The first thing on the front fly leaf is a wonderful quote from Martin Luther King , Jr. :
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

The poetry ranges from early Greeks to contemporary poets, with a few surprises such as a poem by Elizabeth I. The act of reading these poems takes little time in itself, but the pondering and thought process they provoke is lengthy. I have had this collection sitting on my desk and I find myself picking it up and re-reading the poems, sometimes out loud so I can hear the words. Poetry is always better aloud - in my opinion.

I keep going back to a poem by Yehundi Amichai called "The Place Where We are Right".
"From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.
The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.
But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place where the ruined house once stood. "

This poem resonates with me as I have a tendency to worry about the things I cannot control - perhaps that is a need to be "right". So, I am going to try harder to be a "mole"!

And that is where I shall leave this post for today, with my mole like nose loosening up the dirt so I can relish doubts and, more so, my thoughts of the people in this world, including heaven, whom I love. Really miss my mom in the Spring as I can see her tending to her baby tomato and cucumber plants in the hotbed my dad made for her. I can close my eyes and taste the twang of biting into a hot tiny tomato from her garden in the heat of the summer, which didn't last long in Upper Michigan.

Friday, March 23, 2007

For those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile you will note the change in format. Blogspot has been updated and I finally broke down and transferred my blog over to the new style. Not much has changed other than the left side. It is also easier to scroll through old posts as you can click on older posts at the end of the current ones and it will take you back a set. The text seems to be smaller, which is a bit of a pain on these old eyes, but it works. I thought about changing the orange heading, but it wakes me up in the morning so I left it alone. :-)

My poor thumb has pretty much healed after being burned badly by a plastic mug in flames. I know that seems pretty weird, but it really happened. I had been heating up tea in the mug in microwave at the Embassy Suites with no problem. We moved in the corporate apt. and that changed! Who would think to look first to make sure a plastic mug is not in flames and melting when you reach in for it. I got molten plastic on my right thumb and immediately stuck it under the cold water. Rather than screaming because it hurt so bad I think I was in a bit of shock and calmly told Steve I had burned my thumb and the mug was in flames in the microwave. At first he didn't believe me until I sternly said that I wasn't kidding. There really was a mug on fire in the microwave! I took two Tylenol PM and wrapped my thumb in a baggie of ice cubes and tried to sleep. When the blister popped the burn was various layers deep so it is healing slowly. I had no idea how much I used that thumb for - including opening my essential Diet Cokes! So I can add that scar to the one from the nasty deep cut on my middle right finger from tripping on the stairs and jamming my finger into a shard of glass from a broken bowl that was in the box I was taking to the dumpster. Steve cleaned the blood of the door the next day. Gross!! My poor right hand has had its share of "owies" lately! Almost afraid to reach for a knife or scissors!

I read Francesca Lia Block's Psyche in a Dress. A very quick read, but an unsettling read. It is written in verse and is a modern retelling of the Greek myth. I often feel like I have entered an urban fantasy draped in mystifying fog when I read Block's books - well at least most of them. Psyche is the daughter of a movie director who uses her in his films but shows her no warmth or attention. Eros comes to her in the dead of night to comfort her in her bed but her lack of self esteem causes her to push him away. She turns to Hades because she believes he is all she deserves and is "saved" for a time by her mother who had deserted her husband and daughter years before. A child enters the picture as happens in many of Block's books - the need for innocence and unconditional love. I will re-read this 116 page head-trip because the writing is so beautiful and because I know I didn't absorb it all in my first reading. Block's books are meant to be reread. To me, that is a sign of a great book - I don't want to just set it aside and move on to the next one. I want to think about it and go back to it after my initial thoughts have settled a bit. Oh my - what Block can do with so few words!

On to less fun stuff for the day!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I am having a terrible time getting myself going this morning. Woke up with a pounding headache so that didn't help any. But, the birds are singing and it is a gorgeous morning. Whatever the trees are that line the winding street into the condo complex are white with flowers. They look like huge white sticks of cotton candy from a distance. Absolutely gorgeous. Spring has most certainly arrived in Greenville. Makes me smile every time I drive in and out of here. How can you not love trees that bring in Spring with a riot of flowers and Autumn with a blaze of color?

The latest corporate apartment in Lexington is on the ground floor of the complex and has a sliding door out to a little grassy area. We sat there Sunday morning and watched several plump robins. Robins are one of, if not my favorite, birds. While growing up, there was a large lilac tree outside my bedroom window and I knew Spring was coming when the mother robin came back to her nest in that tree. The nest was just below my window so I could see the pale blue eggs and the tiny baby birds. I had saved pieces of shell that had fallen to the ground when the babies hatched, but who knows where that "treasure box" of childhood went. I cried when my dad removed the lilac years later. The roots were causing havoc with the septic system so it had to be removed, but the front yard of the house looks so barren without that lilac. My dad knew when the first lilacs bloomed, anywhere in our small rural area, and we pick some for my mom. My mom grew vegetables, but we brought her wild flowers. I can close my eyes and smell them. And, yes, even remember the taste of the blossoms. I have been told lilacs grow in Lexington!

I finished Cathy's Book by Stewart, Weisman, and Briggs. This book has been talked about a lot on listservs because of the blatant commercialism and from a practical stand point of a librarian, how to deal with the packet of "extras" that go along with it - the main character Cathy steals mementos from her older boyfriend Victor's desk. The reader gets to "sift" through them as Cathy does as she tries to find clues to who/what Victor is and why he stuck a needle in her arm. Did he drug her or was he drawing blood? After all, he works in a lab. Cathy is an artist so this journal style novel is adorned with drawings, which certainly give the book an "almost" graphic novel look. Honestly, for me the packet of mementos wasn't a big plus. I could have done fine without them and still enjoyed the book. I like to create my own "picture" of characters in my mind so the photograph of Victor was not a big plus for me. Impulsive, obsessive Cathy is a very likable character as is her nerdy best friend Emma. Emma is the level headed one until she think the family fortune is gone and she might not have a nest egg to start her own business with. So the two 17-year-olds are determined to find out what Victor is hiding. It is a fun mystery and I am sure teenage girls will love it. What fun! But, from a librarian's perspective it reminded me of The Jolly Postman series by Janet Ahlberg, with the various separate letters the kids kept "losing". The new formats are certainly keeping librarians on their toes!

All for today.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sorry it has been a few days since I posted. What a busy time! Arrived back in Greenville Sunday evening and crashed, happy to be in my own bed. Got up early yesterday to get Sophie from the "cat condo" and she was beside herself upset that I had left her. She caterwauled all the way back to the condo. Even an audiobook didn't quiet her down like it normally does in the car. Then she covered me in fur all day long. Poor baby - she sheds when she is upset. Right now she is sleeping in her bed by my feet. When I am home she doesn't let me out of her sight. She even slept through the night quietly last night. What a surprise that was! But, she was not happy when she realized I was headed to campus and leaving her home alone today. She was at the door when I opened it this evening.

I did actually read a book since I got home! It was a very quick read - Terry Trueman's 7 Days at the Hot Corner. I was anxious to read it as I so enjoyed Truman's presentation at the IBBY session at ALA Midwinter. He has a wicked sense of humor! And, I loved his first two books - Stuck in Neutral and Inside Out. I liked Cruise Control, but it didn't make my heart hurt like the other two did. But, before you read Cruise Control, read Stuck in Neutral first. Focus changes between two brothers - one who thinks his father wants to kill him. Trueman doesn't pull any punches in his early novels - they are, to a degree, based on his own children so they resonate a truth/pain that radiates from the page. They are raw. And, I suspect Trueman also knows baseball, due to the depth of detail he shares in 7 Days at the Hot Corner about what happens on the baseball field. But, it isn't the fact that the main character is a hotshot baseball player that intrigued me - it is the relationship between two best friends that changes when one admits that he is gay. Scott all of a sudden cannot think of anything but his friend Travis' blood all over him. Travis is gay so it is a good chance Scott is dying of AIDS - well, that is what Scott is hyperventilating about and heads off to the clinic to be tested. Even though he is reassured that it is unlikely he has been infected it is a very long seven days of waiting for the results - and Scott learns a lot about himself, his father, his best friend's parents, and one of the other baseball players. Like all of Trueman's books, this is a quick read, but it keeps niggle naggling at you and you want to read it again. And I will!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thought this was an appropriate picture of Michael to highlight the latest potty good news! :-) Can't remember if I caught him mid run for the bathroom or not, but it is a cute pic. As you can see - he is all boy! That monster truck on the floor is one toy I wanted a "real" monster to "accidentally" step on. It is not a quiet truck, nor is he a quiet boy when he plays with it. What is it with little boys and trucks?
The weather matches my mood today - cloudy and dreary. Our neighbors decided to have a very verbal fight on their balcony at 4:30 this morning. They could have been in our bedroom for as loud as it was. Steve gave up and got up, but I almost suffocated myself with a pillow over my head to try to sleep a bit more. On the positive side, Steve had plenty of time to make breakfast before he went to work so I woke up to a yummy breakfast burrito. Absolutely adore a man who cooks me breakfast! We are moving, but Steve wants to wait until Sunday. He'll move after I fly back to Greenville. I won't be back until the 29th so hopefully we will close on our new house a few days later.

I had the coolest phone call yesterday - it was my grandson Michael's jubilant voice telling me, "I pooped in the potty!" I don't know who was more happy - him or his mom. Gramma let him know how proud I am of him. He was so darn cute on the phone. Had to tell Steve the good news when I picked him up from work and he reminded me of how my grandchildren's body functions have been a central theme in our relationship, since day one. On our very first date my cell phone rang as we were looking through the pictures I had taken in Cuba. He figured it was the "get me the heck out of here" call that people set up for first dates. I was pretty embarrassed to get off the phone and tell him that was my daughter and my other grandson had peed in the potty for the first time. That opened the door to him telling me that Monica, his daughter, was pregnant so we knew grandchildren were going to be an integral part of our relationship. And I am glad, I love our grandchildren - they add such joy to our lives. Now if I could just get my act together and get up to see Kegan. Mary said he is up to 10 1/2 lbs. The little guy is growing and I am missing it!

This rainy weather - we even had hail yesterday - has me thinking about The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. What a way to spend a rainy day at home - much more fun than working on paperwork as I am. I loony cat spinning plates to entertain me sounds good about now. It is hard to believe that this book was Seuss's response to a Life magazine article about the boring beginning readers we subjected our children to and in 1957 he created this subversive and funny book of 223 words. It would be considered child abuse today to leave your kids alone like the mother did. And to have such wicked fun and get away with it - how subversive is that! No wonder kids love this character. My favorite is the cautionary fish! The popularity of the Cat resulted in Geisel and his wife creating the Beginner Books, many of which he wrote, but all inexpensive hardbacks that hold up to literally generations of readers. :-)

That's my bit of book trivia for today.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Can you feel me "vibrating" through the Internet? I am functioning on high octane flavored coffee and diet coke to keep myself going today. What a night! The neighbors across the way - it is barely two car widths between the garages - involved the whole complex in their garage party. The sound just echoes up between the tall building - it's like an echo chamber. They started at about 7:30 and ended at about 4:30 a.m. Don't know if that is because they passed out or if someone finally complained. They had grills outside and a pool table in the garage! Not only could you hear their shouts of elation or agony with each shot, you could even hear the pool balls hitting each other. At one point a couple got into an argument and the volume went ballistic. I had a pillow over my head and that didn't even work. Steve finally fell asleep when they quit but then he began to snore like a freight train coming through the bedroom. I figured I would get some sleep when he left, but our downstairs neighbor decided to open and close his garage door repeatedly. Gave up on sleep at that point.

I emailed Steve to see how he was doing and told him maybe he could crawl under his desk at lunch time for a nap! He said his boss accidentally kicked someone once who had been burning the midnight oil and had not woke up from his nap under the desk! The important thing to remember - nap under your own desk, not someone else's, especially the bosses!

After last night Steve is trying to push the closing on the house up to the end of March! I told him I was seriously not considering coming back from Greenville again until we were in the house! No one wants to be around me when I am sleep deprived. I am not a nice person!

Was reading an Associated Press blurb about a book challenge in Ramallah, West Bank. The Hamas-run Education Ministry rescinded their decision to "pull an anthology of Palestinian folk tales from school libraries and destroy copies, reportedly over mild sexual innuendo". Before the public outcry stopped them, over 1,500 copies of Speak Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales by Ibrahim Muhawi and Sharif Kanaana had been destroyed. The blurb states that "dozen of writers, academics and other intellectuals marched to protest the decision to pull the anthology." So clearly book bannings are not just a U.S. phenomena these days. I knew I recognized the name of this book and sure enough, I found it on Barnes and Noble online and recognized the cover. It was published in the U.S. back in 1989 by the U of California Press. I know I had it in at least a couple of the school libraries I worked in. Wonderful translations with great footnotes to help older students gain cultural knowledge. The authors were a bit like the Grimm Brothers in their wanderings to gather oral tales. Hopefully the Associated Press blurb will cause U.S. public and HS librarians to check to make sure it is in their collections. Nothing like a book banning to add to book sales! :-)

For the elementary age reader/storytime, go with a picture retelling of a tale from Speak Bird, Speak Again. Margaret Read McDonald has brought it to life for the primary age child. The little pot in Tunjur Tunjur Tunjur! is just like a sassy little kid. Boy does she learn her lesson when the king fills her with goat dung after she steals the queen's jewels. All Little Pot can do is call for her Mama! :-) The art is delightful in this 2006 Marshall Cavendish title. A must have for elementary school libraries. :-)

Now to less fun work than writing about books.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Monday afternoon from Kentucky. What a gorgeous day! I have the patio door open and the birds are chirping. I get to hear them between moving trucks and cars bouncing over the speed bumps in front of the apartment. We discovered, much to our dismay, that our neighbor with the garage below us is a night owl. The garage door woke us up, along with him revving his engine, as he came home at 2 a.m. Saturday night.

But, our apartment living should be short term, I hope, as we found a house! Granted, it is not the one I was sure we were going to buy, but we accepted the builder's counter-offer this morning so it looks like we are set to go. And I like this house much better! It has a turret shaped dining area that is so cool! On Saturday we drove up to Georgetown to see the house I fell in love with and another one that had just come on the market. We were about to go back up and look at the other house again yesterday to make a offer, but we decided we wanted to look at a couple more in Lexington before we bought a house out of town. So before the realtor picked us up yesterday afternoon I spent the morning online looking at the Multiple Listings site and found a house in Lexington I hadn't found before. I would have remembered the street name - Flying Ebony. There was an open house so we walked right in and fell in love with it. Steve will be a 10 minute drive from Lexmark and the house is less than a 5 minute drive from the grocery store. Heck, I could walk to the store if I were ambitious. And, the area across the street cannot be developed - it is a city park area and will have a walking trail in soon. The house is a year old so the sod has settled and some landscaping has been done. I can't wait to sit outside on the covered porch and watch Sophie playing outside again. She is going to have a ball in the green space area in the back yard. She'll be queen of the cats in a matter of days. :-)

Read the Lexington Sunday paper finally this a.m. and was intrigued by the Boston Globe article they included on Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. You may recognize this author's name from My Sister's Keeper, which is extremely popular with teens due to the issue addressed - a girl conceived in vitro, specifically so her blood, blood marrow, and potentially her kidney can keep her older sister alive. Is this a form of child abuse? This book certainly raises many issues, as will Nineteen Minutes, which is about a school shooting. Picoult donated advance copies of the book to 3 high schools, including the one her son attends in Hanover, NH. Administrators pulled it from a mandatory reading list due to the controversial nature of the book and the fact that some of the students thought the school in the book might be their's. Timing is everything, as is what is happening locally. A student in a nearby high school had fatally stabbed another student to death in the bathroom. I have not read Nineteen Minutes as I do not have a copy of it yet, but I have read a number of other school shooting books and feel there is no such thing as too many books that address this very serious issue. Bullying in schools and the potential outcome of such bullying should not be hidden from our teens. They are living it every day. Just off the top of my head I can think of four school shooting YA novels. The most recent one I read, Nancy Garden's Endgame, is about a new freshman in HS who becomes the target of the older school jock's. Being harassed in school is nothing new for Gray, but the HS athletes are more vicious with their bullying techniques than the MS bullies had been. Walter Dean Myers' Shooter addresses slightly older teens who have been the target of bullying for years and open fire in the school. This is a raw realistic cautionary tale of what can happen when the victims break under the pressure of harassment and abuse that the adults are not stopping. Todd Strasser's Give a Boy a Gun gets your attention immediately with the title. Two teens, bent on revenge, take the attendees of a high school dance hostage. It isn't a pretty book either. Francine Prose's After addresses the paranoia that can occur after a school shooting, resulting in the school becoming prison-like in relation to security and dress code. None of the books about school violence are happy reads, but the issue is not going to go away. Violence in our schools is something our teens need to be able to read about. A basic keyword search on B&N online for school violence resulted in 1,413 hits, with Nineteen Minutes as the # 1 title under "top match". I am going to read Picoult's newest and take another look again at her other books - she does have a way of tackling social issues that appeals to teens.

That's it for today. :-)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I can't believe our first week in Lexington had come to an end. It certainly has been more than a bit busy. We moved into the corporate apartment on Thursday, but I wasn't much help getting the luggage in. There is a wickedly steep set of stairs into the apartment. We are above the neighbor's garage so when their garage door opens and closes it sounds like the floor in the living room is groaning! My hip and stairs don't like each other so I am sitting on a heating pad as I type this. Trying to get it to loosen up a bit before we go look at houses. As far as I am concerned I found my house, but Steve hasn't seen it yet. The realtor has a few others for us to see as well.

The local TV stations have a strong emphasis on horse racing. :-) I love to read/hear the names of the horses - King of the Roxy just won a race. Steve is in the living room shouting at a horse race on right now. Nobiz Like Showbiz was my horse, but Steve's Scat Daddy just won. A very different emphasis here - basketball and horse racing. We are football people so we will just have to become Bengals fans, but lately they are being called the Bungles. But, these horse races are addictive - love to listen to the British sounding announcer call the races. Lava Man in the lead - think British accent! :-)

Big controversy about three junior girls who chose to say vagina at a school event. Interesting article about it : I saw the girls on the early NBC news yesterday along with the author of the Vagina Monologues. Thank goodness for girls like these - they will be our female leaders of tomorrow.

No time for much reading. I did read a couple of books, but can't discuss what I am reading for the Margaret A. Edwards Award - sorry!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

BRRRR!!! It is cold here in Lexington, KY! Not by Midwest standards, but certainly by Virgin Islands and North Carolina standards. It is still a beautiful area, even if a bit chilly at this time of the year. Have seen lots of foals out in the fields. They are so cute! Spent from 10-5 yesterday doing either drive-by looks at houses or actually going into the ones I wanted to see. Several houses later I found one that I would like Steve to look at. Sure feels weird to be opening up people's closets, etc. One of the houses had a shiny silver, very large trash can very prominent in the master bedroom. Not my choice for a clothes hamper! Nor was the house one I'd want to buy - the driveway was practically a cliff in pitch and height. But, the fun is the hunt and the realtor is picking me up at 10 again today.

Was looking the comments on Barnes and Noble about So Far From the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins: Apparently there is controversy brewing over the way the Japanese author portrays Koreans during WWII. This book was published back in the late 80s and was, and still is, used by many 6-8 grade teachers. In 1988 the 6th graders in the Alaskan school I was librarian for used it and loved it. McDougal even has a Literature Connections copy available. One has to keep in mind that the prejudices of the time period in which a book is set as well as those of the time period in which it was written, and those of the author, are evident in any book we read. Rather than banning a book because we don't agree with the author's impression of the situation - and most certainly Watkins has deep feelings about the Koreans as she was a Japanese child living in Korea - we should consider the fact that this is a fictional autobiography. Most certainly Koreans would have a different impression of what happened in their country during WWII than a young Japanese girl who was terrified as her family escaped Korea. Would I choose to use this book as required reading in a school with a large Korean population - probably not. Just as I would not use any of the Little House on the Prairie books in a school with a large Native American population.

Haven't had a free moment to read any new titles, but I can still wallow in discussions of books and there is always some book being challenged by someone. :-)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Figured I had better get a blog in while I can. Steve is off to bring the keys to the realtor so the condo can be shown while I am in Lexington house hunting. Oh what fun! It has to be more fun than cleaning and putting personal things away so the condo looks un-lived in! Poor Sophie was very upset as she knows Mom only cleans like that if a move is eminent or I am really upset about something. Steve pauses at the door when he sees me with windex or 409 in hand! :-/ She was even more upset when Steve put her in her carrier and we took her to the kennel. This is the first time for her so we got her a double cat condo and they will let her out to play with the house cats if she can handle it, or by herself if she can't. She was queen of the island cats in the neighborhood on St. Thomas so she will do fine. At least that is what I keep telling myself. I was all teary eyed when we left and Steve was teasing me that Sophie was saying, "Time to party!" I sure hope so.

I had to destress a bit during all of this and read Shannon Hale's Austenland. I am not a big Jane Austen fan so it was not the title that got my attention. It was the fact that Shannon Hale wrote it. She is one heck of a writer and I devoured Hale's Goose Girl and Princess Academy. Both are upper elementary/middle school titles, but this one is adult with YA appeal. Bloomsbury is cross marketing it for teens and adults. Smart move! For those who want to listen to a bit of the book, there is a sampler CD. More and more books include supplemental materials or abridgements on CD. I didn't listen to the sampler, as I do not like to listen to abridged books, so I can't tell you about it, but I loved the book. The protagonist is a 30 something woman who has had nothing but bad luck with guys. Well, no darn wonder - she expects them to act like Mr. Darcy and look like Colin Firth! A lunch with an ailing great-aunt who told her to get on with life instead of day dreaming about Austen character's in tight pants results in the very same aunt bequeathing Jane a trip to Austenland, where the imagination is supposed to take over and you become a character in a Regency-era environment. Feeling more than a bit of a fool, Jane goes along with it but is having great difficulty staying in character and invites herself into the gardener's home to watch a basketball game on his forbidden TV and one thing leads to another, but not that far as this is the Regency-era! I'd ruin the story if I said more, but I can say this is one fun romance. I found myself thinking in a silly British accent as I was reading it and laughing out loud at the antics of the other visitors. Offer this one to teenage girls and I don't think they will mind Jane's age, especially when they read her modern impression of boyfriends, of which she had had many starting very young, but kept none. Well, maybe one.... :-)

Steve just promised me a glass of wine so I am going to call it a day as I ache from one end to the other from boxing stuff, stooping, climbing, etc. The story of how I almost lost the tip of my finger will have to wait for another blog entry!