Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I am so delighted to see Carol Matas' The Burning Time back out in a new paperback edition from Orca http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Burning-Time/Carol-Matas/e/9781551436241/?itm=1 I read this book in 1994 when Delacorte published the original hardback edition and it has never left me. I can still see 15-year-old Rose hiding behind a screen, hearing her mother being tortured. These scenes are brutal as this book is written in first person from Rose's point of view. The setting is 17th century France when atypical women, like Rose's mother, are named as witches by other women being tortured until they name the other witches in their village. Rose's mother is an easy target for the lecherous priest as her father is dead and her brothers are away on business. Rose too is accused but she manages to escape, but only after she helps her mother make a difficult decision. When a teen tells me that historical fiction is boring, this is one of the books I offer him/her as an example of a historical novel that will immediately pull you in and not let you go, long after the reading is done. It has been 14 years since I first read this book and I opened it to the torture scene where her mother confesses to any and everything the priest accuses her of to stop the pain. I will start booktalking this one again.
Let's move the setting to Africa for the children's book of today - One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes.
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/One-Hen/Katie-Milway/e/9781554530281/?itm=1 This is a new Kids Can Press title. I really like the books that Kids Can Press publishes as they are often nonfiction titles that fill a niche that isn't filled by the larger publishers. Kojo, a young boy from the Ashanti region of Ghana, lives in a village where the families pool their savings so that one family can buy something important. When the loan is paid back, another family uses the money, and so on. When it is Kojo's mother's turn, she buys a cart so she can transport firewood to the market. With the few coins left over Kojo walks 2 hours to the nearest poultry farm and buys a chicken. With the money he makes from selling eggs, he adds more hens until he can build a chicken coop and eventually a farm where he also raises a family. Along with the narrative text there is a running text in larger print that reads to the rhythm of "This is the House That Jack Built". Although a fictional picture book, One Hen is based on the true story of Kwabeno Darko who invested his life saving, and along with a $1000 loan, started his own poultry farm. As a thriving business owner he, in turn, makes small loans to the villagers to start their own business. A short biography of Darko as well as information on donating to small loan programs is included. A very interesting book to use with children and even teens when discussing small businesses and how many of them start with a small loan and a lot of hard work at home before expanding into something bigger.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
On the children's book side, I am still moving my body to the rhythm of The First Music as told by Dylan Pritchett. This is an 2006 August House folktale so you may already have it on your shelves. I found my copy again when I was going through my shelves last night and remembered how much I like the story as well as the bold funky illustrations by Erin Bennett Banks. This is the story of how music began for the animals in Africa. Elephant stubbed his toe on a hollow log and in his frustration and hurt he thunked on it with his foot. What a great sound it made - "BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Padada BOOM!" Monkey started moving to the rythm and the leaves on the branch he danced on made a "Shh-ka-shh! Shh-ka-shh! Shh-ka-shh! Shh-ka-shh!" sound to add to it. Crane lost her balance as she danced and fell on crocodile's back who loved the tickling feeling on his scaly back - "Skee-de-lee! Key-key-key! Skee-de-lee! Key-key-key!" All the while the frogs watched quietly as they have short legs and cannot dance. But the frogs found their voice on the dawn of the 7th day - "Reep-reep-ree! Reep-reep-ree! Reep-reep-ree!" So, even if you have short arms or legs, you can still make music as the aimals of Africa do. I wish I had this book when I was an elementary school librarian - what fun during a primary storytime. Or, join with the music teacher to create a Reader's Theater piece with drums, shakers, etc. Oh what fun!! This one goes on my "gotta keep" shelf for when I have to read to little ones on short notice. :-)
I'll dance my way to the kitchen for another Diet Coke - Skee-de-lee!! :-)
Monday, June 23, 2008
Saw on Yahoo that George Carlin died this weekend. I was never a big fan of his, but he certainly is an icon of the 70s with his "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." I remember my older cousin listening to his album (yes - it was vinyl) and just hoot laughing over it. I just thought it was vulgar, but I grew up in a household where swearing just wasn't done. I got my mouth washed out with dish soap for calling an ant a bugger. I didn't know it was a bad word!
I am reading Lauren Myracle's Bliss
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/BLISS/Lauren-Myracle/e/9780810970717/?itm=1 and am loving every moment of it. It is set during the 1960s and she prefaces the chapters with quotes from the time period, many from Mayberry RFD. Bliss is the very naive daughter of hippie parents who gets dropped of with her wealthy conservative grandmother. She is attending an exclusive private school and quickly becomes caught between the friendship of the very weird and needy Sandy and a group of "normal" girls. Bliss has a gift and can hear voices from the other side and she is hearing a very creepy voice from one of the buildings, talking to her about blood and keys and how she is the answer. I can't wait to hear Lauren talk about Bliss at the Abrams' luncheon at ALA. Lauren has a wicked sense of humor and she's fun to listen to speak. Lauren's Internet Girls series is very popular. TTYL http://search.barnesandnoble.com/ttyl/Lauren-Myracle/e/9780810987883/?itm=1 was even popular with the guys at the Montessori School in the USVI. What better way for guys to understand how girls "work" than to read the books they do? Although I love these books, I adored Rhymes with Witches http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Rhymes-with-Witches/Lauren-Myracle/e/9780810992153/?itm=1 as it combines the bitchiness of cliches in schools with a very dark twist as to how these girls gain their power over the student body. Certainly will have teenage readers pondering how far they will go to be part of the most popular group of girls in school.
On the children's book front I read a very interesting occupations title - When I Grow Up: A Young Person's Guide to Interesting & Unusual Occupations by Jessica Loy. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/When-I-Grow-Up/Jessica-Loy/e/9780805077179/?itm=1
B&N lists this as a paperback, but I have the Holt hardback in front of me as I type this. Color photographs add to the textual description of unique professions that focus on a specific person working in this field. Occupations include alpaca farmers, a chocolatier, guitar makers, a pet photographer, a robotics engineer, a set designer, a kite designer, and a game designer. In other words, the occupations that may interest the students who are exploring beyond the "norm". A great addition to the occupations titles in any elementary school library.
Only 4 more days before I leave to ALA in Anaheim. I am looking forward to immersing myself in books and talking with book people. :)
Friday, June 20, 2008
The wonderful news is that the latest biopsy results showed the second extraction was a "clean" removal so other than the "pretty" scar I will have on my back, I can quit worrying about it. Had to chuckle when I was in today getting the stitches out and found out I am one of the few people who has skin that has an "angry" reaction to what you put on wounds to help them heal. As my friend Larry says, "Some of us were wired by non-union electricians!" :-) That would be me and then some. So poor Steve is still on bandage duty for another week.
And, the trip to Nashville went wonderfully yesterday. I cannot say enough good things about Vanderbilt's clinic, especially after the nightmare of dealing with the UK clinic. It was like night and day in how I was treated by everyone from the receptionist to Dr. Boomershine, who is wonderful. How can you not love a doc who has a wicked sense of humor and a tiny ring in his left ear? :-) He went over literally 10 years of blood work results with me, along with all the other results from tests that have been run on me. Basically, all the visits to various kinds of doctors and the tests they ran ruled everything else out. That leaves fibromyalgia. So, the initial diagnosis from a neurologist has been reconfirmed by a fibro specialist. And, I have a treatment plan to start working on and new meds. I am feeling so upbeat as to the future of being able to control this and enjoy life again that I don't mind, too much, that I am really sick to my stomach right now from the new medication. I can live with that as I know once my system gets used to it, it is going help the pain levels. Might be a couple of rough weeks as my system learns to accept it, but after 10 years of dealing with this, that is a blink of an eye in comparison.
So, as far as days go - this is a good one. No cancer, and a doctor who understand fibromyalgia and is working with me to control it. :-)
Sorry - not booktalk/review today. Feeling really yucky, but wanted y'all to know I am doing okay. I owe so many of you emails and I am sorry - I will get there, eventually. :-)
Monday, June 16, 2008
Open on my desk is Jan Greenberg's new poetry/art compilation, Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Side-by-Side/Jan-Greenberg/e/9780810994713/?itm=3 I was on the Printz committee in 2002 when we chose Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art as a Printz Honor book. I am a huge Georgia O'Keefe fan and I often open my copy to her art work and the accompanying poetry. Then I find myself browsing and reading others. Although the VOYA review I just read on B&N suggests a limited teen audience for Greenberg's new compilation, I beg to differ. I think teens are quite capable of enjoying ekphrasis. For more on this concept: http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Ecphrasis. Even young children are capable of understanding the connection between what we see and the words we put on paper - a conversation between two arts forms. We ask children to draw a picture about what we have read or they read to themselves both in school and at home. So, a teen's ability to understand and enjoy the connection of the art from around the world and poems, many of them translated, is a given, in my my opinion. I think many teens, especially those from diverse backgrounds, will savor this book, the art, the untranslated poem (even if unable to read it - the format is interesting) and the translation. Might even have a few girls writing their own poems about the good looking Florentine in the Botticelli - Portrait of a Young Man. The earnestness on his face makes me smile. Though not quite as "pretty" to look at is Memling's Portrait of a Young Woman, but what young woman doesn't dream of of a young man falling to his knees to breathlessly say, "Never have I beheld a woman like you." I can hear the sigh across America from teenage girls who wish the same. Were I her - I would indeed "permit him to touch my hand." Like her first collection for Abrams, I am smitten with Greenberg's second collection of art and poetry. And, I am positive I am not the only one. There will be teens who will be smitten as well.
On a humorous note - I also fell in love with Bruce Hale's Snoring Beauty with hilarious illustrations by Howard Fine. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Snoring-Beauty/Bruce-Hale/e/9780152163143/?itm=1 This new Harcourt title will have you in stitches, even if you are sorely lacking of sleep as are many of us who share a bed with someone who snores. The whole kingdom has to deal with the snoring in this wacky retelling of Sleep Beauty as indeed, the princess gets run over by a pie cart and is turned into a dragon that only a quince will awaken. Let's just say the fairies in this retelling are... ummmm... unique! The princess, now a quite huge purple dragon with red ruby lips and claws, is fast a sleep in the street, snoring loud enough to send people in search of a new kingdom to sleep in. So, tonight, instead of getting angry by the snoring dragon next to me, I will get the ear plugs as Prince Quince does, and grin and bear it! :-)
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Hadn't realized how it had been since I posted! Steve left for Orlando on the 6th and I have taken advantage of the time alone to catch up on work and recuperate from the surgery to have more tissue removed from my back. I went in on the 5th and Steve left the next day so they had to put a water proof bandage on the incision. Internal and external stitches so I hope they took enough tissue this time so that the second biopsy will come back negative. Been an interesting week as I still can't put a whole lot of pressure on my back so it makes sleeping difficult. I went in on Thursday to have the bandage changed and the incision checked. She put another water proof bandage on it but that came off yesterday. I got a fairly good look at it in the mirror - let's just say I won't be wearing low back dresses anymore. Luckily we have some very large bandages and I was able to, with a mirror in one hand the the bandage in the other, get it on top of the incision, but just barely. Would need an arm about 6" longer to have done it well.
Woke up at 5 a.m. as I crashed at 8 p.m. last night even though I had slept from 3:00 to 7:00. Guess I have been really over doing it. Spent from 8 a.m. until Mary called me about 2:30 working around the house. I laid down as my feet were sore while I talked to her and realized just how tired I was. I was getting sleepy while she talked so decided on a nap. Woke up at 7:00, ate a big chunk of watermelon for dinner and crawled back into bed. Sophie and I read Stephen King's Duma Key for a bit. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Duma-Key/Stephen-King/e/9781416552512/?itm=1 I haven't read a King novel in years, but I am enjoying this one immensely. No "f word" every 2 sentences like some of them. I have listened to a couple of King's novels and although I tend to skip over all the profanity in his books when reading them, you sure can't when listening to them. The main character, Edgar, is a wealthy contractor who loses his right arm and almost dies in an accident on a building site when a crane basically smashes his truck like a tin can. He also has brain damage that results in severe anger and the inability to find the right words, especially in times of stress. His wife files for divorce and in an attempt to deal with his loss of life and the lifestyle he has known for decades he rents a house on a remote Florida key. Duma Key calls to people with certain gifts and Edgar discovers that his phantom arm can help him draw stunningly eerie, yet beautiful paintings. I am at the point where he has just met the aging Elizabeth, who owns most of the key, and the "once a lawyer" recluse who takes care of her. It is going to get creepier I am sure, but I couldn't keep my eyes open and crashed.
Rather than creepy - utterly delightful is a good descriptor - is Maryrose Wood's How I Found the Perfect Dress http://search.barnesandnoble.com/How-I-Found-the-Perfect-Dress/Maryrose-Wood/e/9780425219393/?itm=1. The covers on both of the Wood's novels about now 17-year-old Morgan are eye catching. The bike tour crush, Colin, from the first book, Why I Let My Hair Grow Out http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Why-I-Let-My-Hair-Grow-Out/Maryrose-Wood/e/9780425213803/?itm=2 has come to the U.S. to attend a robotics competion, but he is so exhausted he barely can keep his eyes open to do his part in creating a robot, let alone spend time with Morgan. Colin has made it very clear that until she is older their relationship is not going to be anything other than a friendship, but the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Morgan, on another visit to the faerie kingdom (this time to a faerie dress maker and a Leprechaun's workshop), discovers that the faeries are enchanting anyone who cares about Morgan. Poor Colin spends his nights dancing at the faerie ball and wakes up more exhausted than when he went to sleep. Colin does not believe in faeries so it is up to Morgan to fix the problem with the help of a very grouchy Leprechaun, who wants a date to the faerie ball. Problem is - there aren't any female Leprechauns. Morgan decides that a female lawn gnome (yes - she can communicate with them) is about the right size. But it isn't going to be easy to get Colin to believe he is enchanted, let alone put on the ... "interesting" looking magical boots that will break the spell. I was right there with Morgan during the whole escapade and loved every moment of it, even her walk into the fountain (gate to the faery world) at the Junior Prom.
On the children's front, I have been indulging myself with the reprint editions of Jim Arnosky's All About series. Scholastic recently reprinted these books in paperback. I have the ones on manatees, frogs, alligators, sharks, and owls in front of me. When I was working in the Montessori library on St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the guy who had been the janitor/maintenance man there for a number of years told me that he would spend his free time in the library reading books from the nonfiction section. He was a fount of information on lots of things from his hours spent with the books. I agree with Gary as to the value of reading children's NF. I may not want to read an adult level books on any of the above animals, but I do enjoy reading the children's books as authors like Arnosky offer wonderful color illustrations along with a text that is easy to read. Factoids in smaller print highlight the illustrations, offering more information beyond the narrative style text . Did you know that baby manatee suckle from the mother's armpit? That was a new tidbit of information for me. I love manatees so this is the first of the series I revisited. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/All-about-Manatees/Jim-Arnosky/e/9780439903615/?itm=1 Although I would buy the hardback copies for a school library, this series is the perfect gift for elementary age boys and girls who prefer to read nonfiction over fiction. At $5.99 a piece these are affordable for home collections. Hand these to your kids on the way to the beach and they may be so busy reading and viewing Arnosky's cool illustrations that they won't be asking, "Are we there yet?"
All for now - I heard the newspaper just hit the front stoop so I am headed back to bed with the newspaper and the early news on TV.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
This is where I would like to be - walking on the beach in the evening with Steve. Am more than a bit stressed out right now and a walk on the beach sounds good. Yesterday afternoon the biopsy results on the mole I had removed from my back came in and they are positive. So, I have to go back in to the doc's and have a larger piece of tissue cut out. Not looking forward to it, as the initial mole removal wound (between the size of a dime and nickel) has not healed and I can't sit back on anything that pushes against it. I don't want to think about how sore it is going to be from a larger tissue removal. Right now the removal is scheduled for the 25th - only 2 days before I leave for ALA in Anaheim. Might be a miserable flight over.
The picture above was taken on our last evening on Tobago. I was not keeping up with Steve as I kept stopping to pick up shells and to look at the tiny jellyfish that were being washed in. Their "streamers" were bright blue - too pretty to be something that can leave a nasty sting. I was supposed to go to Orlando with Steve for a week while he attends a Microsoft workshop, but with my summer school work load and being on the "wait list" for any cancelled appointments with the doc I decided a week at home alone with Sophie is probably what I need to catch up a bit. Steve said he was going to take his golf clubs when I said I couldn't go - he won't miss me a bit!
The weather here in Lex is overcast, but at least I am not writing this in the middle of a nasty wind/rain/thunderstorm like yesterday morning. We didn't lose power, but we did lost the Internet connection. Steve's big gas grill was moved right across the back deck as were our rocking chairs. The wind threw the grill cover into the yard as well as the plastic table we had on the deck. So the new plants I bought are more than watered! I found two gorgeous square planters of purple and yellow pansies. ECU colors! :-)
Since the Internet was down for part of the morning yesterday I opened a big box of new books from Scholastic and I was hoping the power would stay out even longer. I was in second heaven to see several of Walter Dean Myer's older YA novels in paperback editions perfect for classroom use as they have additional information in the back of each one. Although it didn't get a lot of attention when it initially came out, one of my favorite Myers' books is The Glory Field. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Glory-Field/Walter-Dean-Myers/e/9780545055758/?itm=3 It takes the Lewis family from Sierra Leone in the 18th century to present day Harlem. The title refers to the family's land in South Carolina. Myers has a way of weaving factual historical events and information into his novels that are rich in family traditions, but do not shy away from subjects as intense as drug addiction. I will admit I am not any more intrigued by the cover on the new paperback edition as I was the stark black cover of the first edition hardback when it was published in 1996. But, I hope teens continue to read about the Lewis family who began their lives in America as slaves but found their own place in both South Carolina and Harlem.
I also am delighted to see the new pbk edition of Myers' Fallen Angels http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Glory-Field/Walter-Dean-Myers/e/9780545055758/?itm=3. I love the cover art for this book - very realistic. This particular Myers upper level YA novel is used so often in schools that there are even SparkNotes available for it. It was required reading in my YA literature for many years. I am sure teens will be looking for it after reading Myers' newest war novel Sunrise over Fallujah. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sunrise-over-Fallujah/Walter-Dean-Myers/e/9780439916240/?itm=3 I had the pleasure of listening to Myers talk about the research he did for this book, including the visit he had from the government because he was asking too many questions about the war in Iraq. Myers have family members who are "lifers" in the military so his view of this war is both heartfelt and well researched. My copy is sitting next to the bed and I have yet to start reading it. I read Fallen Angels when it came out years ago and I sobbed over this book, especially when an infant was used as a bomb. I will read Myers' newest book about yet another war we shouldn't have gotten ourselves into, but it will to have to wait for just a little bit more before I am ready for it. I cannot think of a YA author I have more respect for than Walter Dean Myers. He is a brilliant writer as well as one of the most genuinely kind men, but with a wicked sense of humor that "pops out" when you least expect it. I have been known to let out a very unlady like snort laugh at his presentations at conferences. For those of you who want to know more about this wonderful YA author - visit his web site: http://www.walterdeanmyers.net/
On a much more fun note - I read Wuv Bunnies from Outers Pace by David Elliott and illustrated by Ethan Long. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Wuv-Bunnies-from-Outers-Pace/David-Elliott/e/9780823419029/?itm=1 The cover states it is a graphic novel, but from my perspective it is a hilarious chapter book for kids with as much illustration as text. To me, graphic novel means the narrative text is limited, or in some cases, non-existent, and the dialog is in conversation balloons in "cells" of illustrations that work their way across the page and down. This book is a cross between a picture book and an early chapter book for lower elementary, but older readers will enjoy it too as it supremely ridiculous, thus making it fun for most readers, no matter their age. Two alien bunnies come from Outers Pace to warn Hercules Smith and his barking beagle Sheldon that the Funny Bunnies (not ha-ha funny, but weird funny) are coming to invade earth and turn humans into carrots. The Wuv Bunnies crack jokes continuously - real groaners, but you can't help laughing. All I can say is that I love this book and will have to purchase a copy for my grandsons as they aren't getting mine. When Steve is one of his groaner joke moods, I am going to pull out my copy of this book and give him a shot of the Wuv Bunnies jokes such as "What do crooks eat with their milk? Crookies!! GROAN!!!
That's it for today - been up since 6:00 and I am frantically trying to keep up with work and doctor's appointments, etc. I admit it may be a losing battle, but I am not giving up my time to Blog.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
I did a bit of that this a.m. - also watched Marie Antoinette with Kirstin Dunst. http://video.barnesandnoble.com/DVD/Marie-Antoinette/Kirsten-Dunst/e/043396159105/?itm=1 Very unusual revisionist style with music bordering on rock music, but it is a fun movie to watch.
Anyone who reads my blog knows I am a big Alice Hoffman fan and I couldn't resist taking some time out from children's and YA to read her adult novel The Ice Queen. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Ice-Queen/Alice-Hoffman/e/9780641852152/?itm=1 A 30-something miserable with her life librarian is struck by lightening and survives it, but can no longer see the color red. She becomes an unwilling participant in her brother's research on lightening victims. She isn't any more willing than the rest of the participants in his group in talking about how the physical and emotional trauma of the strike has changed her sex life, let alone her soul. Talking about the physical affect with the heart doctor is one thing, but she isn't about to let her involvement with the group get personal. She just isn't a warm woman that way. But, she certainly heats up when she begins a torrid, literally and figuratively, romance with a lightening victim whose skin is burning hot to the touch. I'll just let you take it from here, when I say they need a bathtub full of ice water to be intimate! Hoffman's books are intriguing because she deftly weaves a bit of fantasy into her often starkly realistic novels, but she creates characters so intriguing that the reader is swept into their lives, holding our breath, until the end. Fantastic book and one I'll keep to re-read at a later time. Older teenage girls who have read Hoffman's YA novels like Green Angel and Incantation may well enjoy this book even though the protagonist is much older.
Summer is just around the corner and we all need a good camping picture book to share with little ones. Otis and Rae and the Grumbling Splunk http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Otis-and-Rae-and-the-Grumbling-Splunk/Laura-Espinosa/e/9780618982066/?itm=1 by Laura and Leo Espinosa, a new Houghton Mifflin title fits the bill perfectly. And don't worry it's not too scary for even the youngest listener - the Splunk looks like a friendly orange bear with too short legs. Otis and Rae's heads look a bit like white marshmallows, which may sound a bit cannibalistic as many of us roast marshmallows when we camp, but these two little ones in blue and pink hats with ears are too adorable to think about eating. Wonder if this husband and wife team thought about marshmallows when they created these two best friends. Rae is the outgoing one and tells Otis scary stories while he munches on his favorite food - PB&B (peanut butter and banana sandwich). They do run into a Splunk but he turns out not to be such a bad guy and a PB&B takes care of the loud grumble that gave him his name. A delightful book for story time, no matter where you are reading it aloud - around a bonfire or during story time.
Now to see if Blackboard is back up so I can get some work done. This is the downside to being a DE professor - I am dependent upon the system working when I need it to, which doesn't always happen.