Saturday, June 06, 2009

What a gorgeous day! Sat outside for awhile drooling over all the cool international sites in the Conde Nast Traveler magazine while poor Sophie hid from the mockingbirds before catching up a bit on email.

We spent the morning cleaning house as the realtor showed it this afternoon. The "looker" wanted to see the subdivision pool so maybe they were very interested. A house similar in size to ours sold down the street so sales are starting to pick up. We drove down to a restaurant on the Kentucky River for lunch. I am still tasting the burger - yuck!! Won't be ordering a burger there again, but what a gorgeous day to sit and watch the river. Two pontoon boats on the river - they have to be crazy with the logs and other debris in the river after all the rain we've had.

Cover art on the June 15th issue of Time shows a twitter posting on a iPhone. I had to chuckle as I read the article about sharing your life in 140 spurts. Twitter was not this big when I wrote the article for YALS on cell phone novel bestsellers in Japan. In the U.S., we are using the cell phone to "talk" to each other rather than for authoring books 140 characters at a time. I am perplexed as to why we need to share what we had for breakfast via our cell phones, but I guess it isn't much different than what I am doing right now on this blog, but in short bursts during the day. Perhaps if I twittered I might actually share the "stuff" I remind myself to add to the blog and then I don't find the time to blog for days and having long since forgotten the "tidbit" I wanted to share.

The article that caught my attention more than the cover story on the "cultural force" twitter has become is the Coeli Carr's "No Souvenirs" article about adding radio frequency identification (RFID) to surgical sponges so they can be tracked. In other words, if the surgeon "forgets" to remove all the sponges during your surgery they can track them! This may seem like a bit much but I think it is a superb idea. Doctors will be more careful and if a mistake should be made they can find the sponge. Mic had his adenoids removed when tubes were put in his ears and the doctor left a sponge behind. Poor Mic had a nasty nasal discharge and the pediatrician kept saying he had a rash under his nose and sinus trouble, but Mic was miserable. It took months of going to the pediatrician with no results until I finally went to a different ear, nose and throat doc than the one who did Mic's surgery. He looked up Mic's nose, and before I could blink, stuck a thin nosed pair of tweezers up there and pulled out the nastiest smelling gross piece of gauze you have ever seen or smelled. And, before I could insist I wanted it for "evidence," he rushed out and flushed it down the toilet. So much for being able to do anything about the discomfort Mic went through and the multiple trips to the pediatrician. Tracking surgical sponges - I say, yeah - go for it!

I mentioned the writing/children's literature degrees that the new YA authors have in my last blog. New YA author Tonya Cherie Hegamin is also high educated, with an MFA in Writing for Children and is an alum of a writer's retreat. Hegamin calls herself a poet, but I would say she is also a gifted novelist. Her debut YA novel M+O 4EVR is stunning. This beautifully crafted contemporary novel about two childhood friends who become very different teens, drifting apart as they mature, also includes a poignant tale of a runaway slave who falls in love with the Native American who helps her escape. O, whose given name is Opal, is raised by her grandmother, the storyteller who weaves the slavery tale into the stories she tells O and M (Marianne) when they are little girls. They play in the woods near the ravine where the slave girl ran to her death rather than be captured. M is running with the wild crowd, while O hides behind the hat she pulls low on her head and too big guy's clothes, watching her childhood friend, the one she loves, leave her behind. One of the teens will find herself at the edge of this ravine and make a choice that will affect both their families. This is not a novel written in verse, but the economy of words in this poignant debut is the work of a gifted poet, a gift author.

I read Hegamin's novel a couple of weeks ago, so when I started going through the new Houghton Mifflin titles I was delighted to find Hegamin's debut picture book, Most Loved in All the World, about a girl who is too little to help her mother pick cotton but not too little to carry water to the fields during the day and watch her mama work on a quilt at night that tells a story. Cozbi A. Cabrera's illustrations bring the little girl and her mama to live,l as well as the quilt that tells the story of freedom - the safe cabin, the tree with the moss on the north side, and the brightest star. Mama finishes the quilt, puts it over her arm, and takes her daughter into the night where she hands her, and the quilt, over to another woman who will take her to safety. Mama return to the fields and her role of helping other slaves escape to freedom. Hegamin includes an afterward for parents and teachers discussing the role quilts played in the Undeground Railroad as well as a short bibliography of further reading. Again, Hegamin beautifully exhibits her ability to tell a poignant story with an economy of words. A wonderful new title to share with children during storytime and to add to the recommended titles for teachers to use in their classroom during African History Month.

Sounds like they are having a party at the pool - hope they don't go too late. I don't mind being lulled to sleep by music, just not this kind of music! Now to finish watching Harper's Island - glad this is a TV show and not a R rated movie or I couldn't handle it. Kind of like Ten Little Indians with characters being killed off one by one.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I am sitting in the living room watching the news - we are getting good weather this weekend - up to the low 80s. :-) We have had so much rain and cold weather this week that Steve turned on the heat last night to take the chill out. Mary said they had frost warnings in Green Bay so I really shouldn't complain. I sat outside and brushed Sophie for a while this afternoon but we have 3 very irritating mockingbirds who make harassing Sophie their favorite thing to do. They will dive bomb her even if I am on the back porch with her. They must have a nest in a yard near us, but it is not in ours. We have a family of robins that we love but these dang mockingbirds are a pain with their screeching and pooping on our railings. Makes it difficult to enjoy the weather - we have the back door open and Sophie just came flying in! She must have gotten pecked. She will not try to swat at them and ignores them until they dive bomb her. Poor baby!

Since I have had to keep my foot elevated I had a chance to do some reading and I couldn't put down Graceling by Kristen Cashore It is a 2009 William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist and rightfully so. For a debut novel it is stunning. It is no surprise that Cashore has a master's in children's literature as clearly she has honed her craft. I find it very interesting, as I research new authors and their Debut YA novels, that a large number of these authors have master's degrees in children's literature and clearly envisioned a career as a youth literature author. This realization makes me even more intrigued to meet these new authors via their debut novels. Cashore introduces Katsa, a young woman who has been trained to be a killer and does the dirty work for her uncle, the King, breaking bones and cutting off fingers to terrorize anyone who crosses him. Katsa does not question her role as the King's killer until she meets a young prince who can hold his own both in hand to hand combat with her as they help each other hone their fighting skills. Katsa leaves their "practice" sessions barely winded, but Po limps away with bruises even though Katsa is holding back. Katsa is a Graceling - she has two different color eyes and she had grown up assuming her Grace is to kill. Po, who is also a Graceling, with a Grace he does not initially share with her, will help her find her true Grace as well as save a young girl from a king even more savage than Katsa's uncle. I cannot wait for the sequel and wish I had been at BEA to get an ARC. Check out Cashore's blog as it has the cover art for the sequel Fire It is fun to read about a new author who is an excited to meet the author as we YA readers are. :-) Cashore is fellow blogspot blogger! I can't wait to read about Katsa and Po's next adventure. This is a romance but if you booktalk it from Po's point of view you'll have male fantasy readers loving it as well. Katsa may be the main character, but Po is a very strong companion character who holds his own and then some! A must have in every HS level YA collection.

I wish Sophie would be a bit more sassy and fight off the mockingbirds as would Rotten Ralph, one of my favorite fictional cats, created by one of my favorite authors - Jack Gantos. He is as funny in life as Rotten Ralph is on paper. It is hard to believe Rotten Ralph has been around since 1976, but now we can enjoy another one of this sassy cat's escapades as he learns he is running out of cat lives - oh no! I chuckled my way through The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph Oh what a delight to revisit a bit of Ralph's adventures as he lost 8 of his 9 lives. But, you know he isn't going to settle down - well, maybe a little bit! Nicole Rubel illustrates this latest edition to the Rotten Ralph saga and if seeing this naughty cat in a baby bonnet doesn't make you laugh, you have lost your sense of humor! Set this out on display along with the older Rotten Ralph titles and you'll pull in readers as well as current fans.

All for now. Have a wonderful weekend and take at least a few minutes to meet a character in a new YA or children's book who you can share next week at work. Yes, it is okay for adults to read children's and YA literature even if they don't work with teens or children. Just go on vacation and note the number of adults reading youth titles. I am not a big Harry Potter fan but these books have certainly made reading children's and YA books "cool"!