Monday, September 29, 2008

Ballots for Belva

Dewey: 305.42092 or B Lockwood

Ballots for Belva: The true story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency
by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Courtney A. Martin, Abrams Books, 2008

I always thought that Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice presidential candidate in our nation's history.

She was not.

I knew about the presidential candidacies of Margaret Chase Smith, Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug but I had never heard of Belva Lockwood.

This colorful picture book biography will be a timely addition for U.S. election units as this election year has seen the presidential candidacies of Hillary Clinton and the vice presidential run of Sarah Palin.

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen tells the fascinating story of Belva Lockwood who earned one of the first law diplomas ever awarded to a woman. Even though she had completed all the course work at the National University Law School, it refused to give her a diploma until she wrote to President U.S. Grant to demand her due.

She was the first woman to practice law in the federal court and the first to argue a case before the U. S. Supreme Court. She was nominated for President by the Equal Right Pary of the United States in 1884, while women still did not have the right to vote. Interestingly, some of the strongest opposition to her run for president came from women of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Ballot fraud probably denied Lockwood a substantial number of votes. She is officially credited with over 4,000 votes. Grover Cleveland's slim, winning vote margin in New York state was probably due to votes for Belva being counted for him.

A short glossary of election terms follows an informative author's note on Lockwood's remarkable achievements. A time line of women's suffrage in the United States is also included.

This is an interesting and engaging read about a little known corner of presidential election history.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

YA Books and More

Do check out the blog, YA Books and More by Texas high school uber-librarian Naomi Bates.

Bates reads and loves the books! (I mention that because IMHO that is an essential qualification to be a school librarian and it is not always the case.)

She generously shares her reviews and book trailers with Texas school librarians on the TLC listserv. I always find her views insightful and thought-provoking.

She needs to be added to every kidlitosphere blogroll.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Audiobook: The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père, narrated by John Lee, Blackstone Audiobooks, 2008

So let's say you are stuck without electricity and you discover that it really is not possible to knit by battery lantern light. Well, thank goodness you charged up your mp3 player beforehand and have this classic tale of intrigue and revenge to listen to.

I had NO idea that this audiobook was read by John Lee but at the first sound of his voice intoning his name I did a mental happy dance. This was going to be good, I thought.

I was correct.

Earlier this year, I thoroughly enjoyed Lee's reading of Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth. His voicing and characterization are always on the mark and very engaging. For this story he has created a wide range of accents and voices for characters who seemed to appear effortlessly in my imagination. His French accent is perfection.

I confess, I had never read this classic before and when I shared my delight in this recording with the entlings, they responded, "we know that story, we saw it on Wishbone."

Ah Wishbone, I have much to thank that little Jack Russell Terrier for. That really was a terrific program.

The Count of Monte Cristo is about justice, reward, revenge, retribution and forgiveness.

Just promoted to ship's captain and on the eve of his marriage, Edmond Dantes finds himself overtaken by events that have nothing to do with him. The political intrigues of others result in his unjust imprisonment in the Chateau d'If for fourteen years. During that time, he makes friends with the Abbé Faria who gives him directions to a fabulous treasure, if Edmond can have if he ever escapes. Edmond does escape, just not in the manner Wishbone did.

When the wealthy and pale-skinned Count of Monte Cristo appears on the Paris social scene, disasters begin to befall the villains who caused Edmond Dantes's misery.

I found it hard to believe this story was written over 150 years ago. Drugs, sex, stock market manipulation, specious banking schemes, and political machinations--as the old saying goes, "Ripped from today's headlines..." This is a totally enthralling story and a perfect audiobook listen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane: Ike

...and THAT was "only" a category 2 storm.

I continue to be full admiration for the people of the great state of Texas. Ike has knocked trees into homes, pummeled the power grid and pushed too much water into neighborhoods and cities. Whole neighborhoods on the coast have been washed away.

Still, people band together to help one another. Neighbors help spread tarps over roofs, they chop up fallen trees, they bring food to first responders who have run short of supplies at their deployment points. They pull people out of flooded cars (what were they thinking when they decided they could "make it" through that underpass is another question.) They offer their generator power to neighbors to keep refrigerators and freezers running.

Our block came out en mass to start the clean up Saturday afternoon. A neighbor we do not know began moving from yard to yard with his lawn mower and grass catcher to help "vacuum" up the leaves and twigs that carpeted the lawns. He saved us hours of raking time.

We still managed to fill 16 trash bags with broken tree branches, leaves and debris. As we raked and shoveled-up the mess I noticed leaves from trees that are nowhere near my house. The sides of our home are covered with minute shreds of leaves that had been flattened against the siding.

The return of power to our neighborhood was greeted with a cheers and celebratory dances. Alas, I have heard from friends just a few blocks away who still do not have power. It is interesting to realize how patchwork the power grid is.

We have invited them here if they need it. Happily a cool front has blown in and lifted the humidity. School is out until Wed., that is IF they can restore power at those schools that are without it right now.

Still, we were soooo... lucky. Other folks between here and the Bolivar Peninsula are having a rough time. Help is on hand but to repair and restore will take time and so much work.

Bless their hearts.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Dragon thinks this knitting project is very cool and wants a set for his library.

The pattern is free from Lion Brand Yarn.

Hurricane Literacy

No matter how ready I am for a storm, I always seem to think of additional things that we need at the last minute.

Yesterday morning after the entling got off to school I moseyed over to the local grocery store to acquire additional water, carbohydrates, fat and salt to augment the peanut butter and tuna in the pantry.

As I watched people quickly filling baskets with bleach, water and canned food, I congratulated myself on my earlier preparations. Still, I still managed to fill a basket with sundry items. While I waited in line to check out, I had the opportunity to eyeball other people's baskets. Did they have something I had not thought of?

Two things in their shopping carts stood out.

Apparently large cartons of Miller Light Beer are part of many, many Texans' Hurricane Preparedness kits.

The other thing that struck me was how many women were picking up copies of People Magazine, Us, Entertainment Weekly, and the other magazines that surround check-out lines at the grocery store. The average was 4 magazines per person.

So, in the face of looming electronic media outages, people will revert to reading.

Happily, here in the entwood, we have enough to read for an age!

The Great Storm

With the storm surge from Hurricane Ike now beginning to cover the roadways of Galveston I recalled one of the earliest posts I ever wrote for BookMoot back in 2004. I am reposting it here.

Stolen by the Sea by Anna Myers, Walker Books, 2001

On September 8, 1900 a devastating storm hit Galveston Texas. It remains the worst national disaster in the history of the United States. Translating the emotions of events such as these into a novel for children is challenging.

Maggie McKenna is an only child. She is jealous of the new brother or sister about to be born to her family. She also resents the attention and friendship her father gives an orphan boy named Felipe. In Stolen by the Sea by Anna Myers, Maggie is left at home in Galveston while her parents visit the doctor in Houston. The storm begins and Maggie watches the water rise.
Amazed, she realized the water was up to the first step. Thank heavens Papa had built the house up high. The water would never reach the house. Maggie was sure of that, but she still felt afraid. She was alone here with Myra, alone and cut off from the rest of the world. Beside her Bonnie whined, and Maggie patted the dog's head. "We're together. We'll be all right, won't we girl?"
Maggie must find the strength and will to survive as she and Felipe work together to live through the storm.

Galveston's Summer of the Storm, by Julie Lake, Texas Christian University Press , 2003

Abby Kate must extend a visit with her grandmother in Galveston when word reaches them that her brother Will, at home in Austin, has diphtheria. She feels odd to still be on the island so late in the season. When the storm begins the idea of spray so high it "is crashing up way above the street car trestle" is exciting. She begs permission to go down to the beach to see the waves.
...she was amazed at the number of people gathered to watch the waves. She felt like she was at some strange sort of party. With the island already flooding from high water, it was hard to tell where the beach ended and the ocean began. A few brave souls waded out in the wild surf and got soaked All around them, men and women pointed and shouted. No one had ever seen the waves so high.
Like many victims that day, Abby Kate must cling to prayer and a makeshift raft in order to live through the nightmare. Julie Lake continues the narrative through the storm's aftermath. Readers will have a good idea of how the citizens of Galveston regrouped to heal their city after the storm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricane: Ike

Dear Ike,
Please fizzle away. You've traveled so far. You are tired. I know you feel dizzy from all that swirling about.
Really, we all have things to do, places to be and people to see. This really is not a good time.

Begone. Vamoose. Ta-ta! BuhBye!

I'm not kidding.

Move along now, nothing to see here.
Submerge and never come back.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Jack: Secret Histories

Jack: Secret Histories by F. Paul Wilson, Tor Teen, 2008

My enthusiasm for Alex Rider, Jimmy Coates and the young James Bond series knows no bounds. The action, thriller, spy genre is great fun and I get a kick out of the young Bond books because of the allusions to the original Fleming novels that author, Charlie Higson weaves into his storytelling.

Alas, I have no knowledge of the Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson so when I received a copy of Jack: Secret Histories I was unprepared for the whoop of happiness and celebratory dance that entlling no. 2 performed. Apparently, she knows the books. She has offered her review.


Jack: Secret Histories is a novel that follows a common trend: take a popular crime fighter/secret agent/private detective and write about what they were like growing up. In this case, the character is Jack from the Repairman Jack series and The Adversary Cycle (also known as The Nightworld Cycle).

I’ve only read the first two Repairman Jacks and I must say that Jack is one of the most amazing characters I’ve ever encountered. He has no last name, no SSN and no official existence. He earns a living “fixing” problems for people who have no where else to turn. And he’s very good at it.

When the entmother, pulled this novel out of the mail, I did a squealing, bouncing happy dance in the living room because you can’t have enough Jack.

“They discovered the body on a rainy afternoon.”

Jack is just…Jack. Almost-fifteen years old, he is the youngest of three children and a loner in the small town of Johnston, New Jersey. The summer is waning and Jack and his two sort-of friends Weezy and Eddie are trying to squeeze the last bit of exploration in the nearby Piney Woods that they can.

First, they discover a series of mysterious mounds in a rarely frequented area of the Woods. Then they find a blank cube made of an unknown alloy that only Jack can open. And then they find a dead, rotting body.

Jack and Weezy aren’t like other teenagers. They don’t have nightmares about the body. Instead, they’re out to figure out more about the murdered man they found and where the black cube came from.

What they didn’t count on was the interference of the mysterious Lodge, or rather, the Ancient Septimus Fraternal Order, a secret society that traces its roots back to before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock.

And something seems to be awakening within Jack – a knack for fixing problems. Not broken toys or appliances, but … situations. It’s a heady feeling, a rush unlike anything he’s ever felt. And Jack likes it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Author: Jack Gantos