Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This is a picture of the Margaret A. Edwards Committee and our award winning author, Orson Scott Card. The entire committee is dressed in blue, but we didn't talk about this before hand so I guess we are like-minded in color choices as well as award winning YA authors. :) I am going to miss working with Brenna, Kimberly, Erin, and Patty. Three redheads, one brunette and me, the blonde - our personalities are as different as our hair, but we worked well together. Being on this committee was one of the major highlights of my 20 year involvement in YALSA.

I am already busy with my YALSA Board duties. The emails are flying fast and furious and I am busy printing out documents to read and keep in folders. I can see I am going to have more than a few 3 ring binders full of documents and messages to keep me on track. I am going to enjoy every moment of the next 3 years on the Board.

Life is majorly crazy right now. I leave for Greenville in the a.m. for the COLRS workshop. COLRS is an IMLS grant that Drs. Harer and White co-coordinate and it includes a workshop each summer for the scholarship students as well as other students who wish to attend. I am doing booktalk presentations again since all my YA literature students have to present booktalks and this gives them a chance to see me in action. So, I need to get my books together along with all the other packing done for the trip. Will be longer than normal as I am meeting Mary in Greensboro for a couple of days. She is at a training workshop there so I'll go stay with her, work during the day, and we can go out to dinner and catch up in the evening. Michael's 5th birthday was Thursday and I missed his party on Saturday. I miss him and can't wait to see McKinley. Pictures are great, but not the real thing. And Kegan has grown so much and from the sounds of his voice behind Mary on the phone he is a rambunctious one.

My book for the day is Marc Aronson and Patty Campbell's (fellow MAE committee member) compilation of interviews, letters, essays, journal entries, short stories about war - War Is... A Hard Look at Warfare by Soldier, Survivors and Storytellers. - a Candlewick publication that will come out in September. Thanks to Patty, I had the opportunity to read the ARC. What a poignant mix of entries chosen by Patty, who is adamantly anti-war and Marc, who takes the opposite stand on war as being a necessary evil in the world. Their introductory essays would be wonderful read alouds in a secondary World or U.S. History classroom, or any other for that matter. Excellent classroom discussion starters. A great resource for debate teams as well. The entries by the soldiers, men and women, in Iraq brought tears to my eyes. This collection spans entries from letters written by a WWI soldier to a futuristic short story. A must have for every YA collection.

Now to get back to preparing for my trip. Can't wait to see the other LS faculty members. I am so fortunate to work with great colleagues.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A very humid early morning here in Lexington. Going to be 90 degrees by the weekend. I envy Steve spending the week in Redmond, WA where I am sure the weather is much nicer. He called a bit before 10:00 last night from Houston, anticipating getting in a 1 a.m. WA time. I never did get used to the 3 hour earlier time change while at ALA so I hope he does better.

Had a great time yesterday at the Kentucky School Library Media Association Summer Refresher Workshop in Louisville. I presented two booktalking sessions in the a.m. - a HS and a MS level one. Wrote 33 booktalks to prepare for the sessions so books were piled everywhere on my office floor before they were put in order and into the rolling suitcase. Also attended Teri Kirk's session on all the books she had read - what a wealth of titles. Also attended a session on blogs, podcasting, and wikis. Now to find time to play with the new web sites, etc. I learned about.

Just received the big box of books I sent home from ALA in Anaheim. I wish it has come in yesterday as my advanced reading copy of The Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo was in it.
I did include it on my list of MS level titles for my booktalking session yesterday, but I wanted to hold it up so they could see the cool, bold cover art. This is one of the most delightfully funny books for MS that I have read in quite some time. Ferraiolo, in his debut YA novel, uses the writing style found in the old hardball noir pulp fiction detective novels. Seventh grade private detective, Matt Stevens, "tough as a steak from the school cafeteria," accepts a job from Vinny Biggs, the head of the MS crime syndicate that includes everything from forged hall passes to black market candy. Matt is to retrieve the good luck charm - a hula girl statue - that Vinny had given Nicky Fingers. But, it gets more complicated when Nicky Fingers, who wanted out of the "life", is taken out. She has left behind the life of being an assassin before her little sister enters middle school. She couldn't stay in the "life" with Jenny in school. "It would be like a butcher trying to raise his kid vegetarian." But, now Nicole (no longer Nicky) is in the Outs. Once a kid's crotch is soaked by a squirt gun shooter where all can see his/her humiliation, there is no chance of getting back into the popular crowd. Who shot Nicky Fingers and can Matt figure out which of the two females showing interest in him is the right one? Matt will soon learn one of them is involved in Nicky's downfall. A laugh out loud funny mystery that would be a hoot to read aloud. I can just hear middle schoolers groaning in delight over the one liners. I have the squirt gun Abrams sent with the ARC in my office, but I haven't sent anyone into the "Outs" with it. :-)

Another humorous read aloud, but for the little ones, is Ping Pong Pig by Caroline Jayne Church. I picked it up because I love the cover art - Ping Pong, in mid-air, looks so much like the Clorox bottle pig Mic and I made together. I wonder whatever happened to that pig. Ping Pong is also reminiscent of the pink ceramic piggy bank that you must smash open to get to the change inside. Or, spend hours with a butter knife trying to slide the change out through the slot! Anyway, Ping Pong wants to fly, but all of his attempts are making more work for the other farm animals so they make him a trampoline. Even while he is in mid air, shouting, "I can fly!" the other animals remind him that pigs can't fly. Ping Pong uses his new trampoline to help around the farm. But then Ping Pong decides to fly higher than ever and jumps out of the apple tree onto his trampoline. Over the barn and straight into the pond! Ping Pong is delighted to learn that fish can fly too. :-) A perfect read aloud for the farm animal unit in preschool or kindergarten.

Now I am going for a morning walk before I start grading. Been up for 2 hours already and it is only 8 a.m.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I have so much to do to catch up from ALA that I don't know where to begin, so I'll start with the fun stuff first - this blog. Got back home late last night but our oldest granddaughter, Allyson, was up waiting to see me before she went to bed. What a smile on her face when I asked her if she enjoyed riding the horse. Steve took them out to the horse farm so the girls could see horses up close and personal. One of them almost munched some curls off of the top of Kadynce's head. Steve said her eyes were as big as saucers when she looked up and saw that big head coming at her through the fence. Wish I could have been there to see that, and her walking over the glass tank at the aquarium and seeing the crocs below her. I woke up this morning to Kady's voice and Monica shushing her but I got up and came out to see them for a bit before Steve took them all down to Mammoth Cave so I could have some peace and quiet to try and catch up with mail and work stuff.

ALA was wonderful as it always is. The best part is listening to the authors. Orson Scott Card is the most gentle and delightful man. The Margaret A. Edwards committee members got to sit and chat with him and his wife for a bit before the luncheon. He is a wealth of funny stories. An excellent speech as well. Like some of the other authors who have won this literary award for YA literature, he didn't realize he was writing for young adults. Teens do have a way of finding the books that speak to them, no matter which division of a publishing house they come out of. Ender's Game has several different reprints, with different covers, on the market. One of them is very tween friendly as this is a popular title in MS - However, I am not keen on this cover as it is so childish looking. An upper elementary age student may enjoy it as a SF adventure but there is so much more to this book in relation to mature themes that I'd hate to see it read too young. As Card stated, it is hard to determine the market for this book if using the old theory that kids like to read about other kids 2 years older than they are. Well, Ender is only 6 at the beginning of the book and addresses events that happened to him as a toddler, events that push the sense of disbelief to the boundaries of the reader's ability, but Card makes Ender's amazing intelligence believable. It works for me and pulls me into the books.

I am actually a bigger fan of Bean than I am of Ender. We get to meet him in more detail in Ender's Shadow , the other title honored by the award. This book takes him from his early years to his time in Ender's Dragon squad at Battle School. For more about Bean as he ages read Shadow of the Giant He has matured into an incredible young man with heartbreaking life events to deal with. I found that I preferred to listen to these books rather than read them as I felt more connected this way. Not sure why, but listening allowed me to absorb more of the background material that I missed when I read them. All I can say is that meeting and listening to Card given his acceptance speech was the highlight of the conference for me.

Lots more to talk about too, but that will have to wait until the next posting.