Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where has this week gone to? It is already Thursday and I seem to have lost Monday - Wednesday. Actually Monday and Tuesday were spent bringing live the Fall Children's and YA Lit courses. I have students already selecting books for assignments. Our grad students in the LS Program at ECU are incredible go-getters and fantastic to work with. I couldn't have found a better group of students and faculty to call my professional family. Looking forward to seeing everyone on Monday. I am bringing brownies (rich and chocolaty and you absorb calories just by smelling them!) - but they are worth the splurge for our lunch get together. We'll all be zinging for the afternoon meeting.

I think Fall weather is approaching already. It has been cool at night and only in the mid 80s during the day. I am not complaining. I am not one for the heat anymore. When I first moved to Texas in the early 90s I couldn't get enough of it. Now, give me a book and a shade tree if I have to be outside. I can't wait for the trees to change color. This is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen for color, especially along the Kentucky River. We found a home for sale that backs up to the river - there is no back yard to speak of, just a steep bank down to the river. I could go for that! The sound of the river, maybe some deer around, etc. Can't wait to see the house as it has a screened in back porch. They say you can't go home, but I think I am trying to recreate the quietness of home. I remember as a child sitting in the swing for hours reading and not hearing anything but the birds and an occasional car going by. I didn't realize how blessed I was to grow up in the rural environment I did. At the time I hated it as there was no one to play with so I found my friends in books. What I wouldn't give for one of those leisurely walks with Mom on the back road over to the neighboring farm. And with Dad, to find the first lilacs in the spring. Guess I have had enough time being a "city girl" that I am ready to go back to my country girl roots, but with access to the mall, of course. :-) But, if I want that house in the country I have to get my act together and get things packed up around here so we can put this house on the market.

The top of the front cover of the ARC for Ruby's Imagine by Kim Antieau was peeking out of the top of my purse when I went in for my fibro massage and the therapist saw the deep purple butterfly and said, "Rebirth". I smiled and responded that yes, this book indeed is about rebirth, but the "labor pains" were horrendous - Hurricane Katrina. The eco/world centered language and speaking style of the main character, Ruby, is melodic and sweet as the nectar the hummingbirds Ruby speaks to. Ruby does not find it strange that she can speak to the trees, the birds, and other wild creatures. She remembers the white ally gator in the swamp but her grandmother, Mamaloose, abruptly tells her that is just her imagines, just like the two sisters she imagines. Ruby's innocence makes it difficult to see her as a young woman finishing up high school and accepted into Tulane to study swamp biology, but she is much smarter than most folks around her realize. She keeps it to herself. JayEl, her best friend since they were in elementary school, has feelings deeper than the baby-fingering hooking affection they show each other but he knows to wait. But, the hurricane isn't waiting for anyone and Ruby knows that - the Root People have told her so. At first no one believes her and many of them - Ruby and Mamaloose included, ride the storm out in their flooded houses, seeking refuge in attics which offer little shelter as the roofs are blown off. This is a beautiful book that touch at the heart strings and also causes us to ponder the travesty of how poorly our country responded to the devastation of a beloved city and its people. A book that, once read, will not be forgotten. Ruby never did like to call the area she lived in a ward, she referred to it this way - "I lives in the place where the wisteria dips over the fence to hold hands with the magnolia that dips down to say hello to the Place Where My Vegetables Grow". Ruby will plant again and New Orleans will rise out the dirt just like Ruby's garden. The rebirth will happen, is happening - folks like Ruby who know the city, different perhaps but still there, are the ones who will bring about the rebirth.

Antieau also wrote two other YA novels - Mercy Unbound and Broken Moon She is not an author to shy away from controversial issues. She is also a blogger - check it out at:

In one of the scenes in Ruby's Imagines she is soothing a scared little girl by telling her about the Milky Way and notes that in Finland it is called the Pathway of Birds. Well, that intrigued me, of course, and I thought would fun it would be to write a folk tale about this pathway. But, time for writing folk tales I do not have, but I did have time to read a hilarious one. Such A Prince by Dan Bar-el and illustrated by John Manders is a delightful take on the story of the three brothers who set out to "cure" the princess so they can marry her. In this version, the cure is 3 perfect peaches. And, of course there has to be a fairy godmother - whose name is Libby Gaborchik. The Gabor sisters would be chuckling over this name, as am I. She is there to help the youngest, scrawniest 3rd brother win the hand of the princess, of course. His peaches do indeed have the princess dancing and she is more than willing to marry this peasant but her father isn't keen on the idea. Remember - things often happen in 3s in folk tales, and this one is no exception. It takes the magic silver whistle Gaborchik gave Marvin to herd 100 rabbits (kind of like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, but not rats) into the castle. But the king determines they re not plump enough for the stew so they must go outside the castle gates to graze. The king and the queen both try to trick Marvin by showing up in disguise and asking for a rabbit, but in the end, as a good folk tale always does, the "littlest brother wins." Marvin weds the princess. A perfect read aloud for older elementary students, JH & HS as the humor is quirky and even a bit risque. Let's just say the King being tricked by Marvin into kissing his donkey 3 times comes back to bite him in the ... But, oh what fun. Manders' illustrations are delightfully comical. This one stays in my personal collection.

Now to pack up some more books for storage!