Saturday, June 20, 2009

When authors dine...

Maureen Johnson's blog and tweets are always worthy of your time, but this account of her dinner with Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld is possibly, one of the funniest, laugh-out-loud things I have read in a long time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NPR Series: Three Books...

I confess I've never read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, but I did read
An Old-Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott and Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield as a young'un.

Three Books...
by Lizzie Skurnick

Buck Up: Life Lessons From Young Heroines

How the Hangman Lost His Heart

Review by entling no. 2

I am currently rediscovering the joy of reading. During my first semester of grad school, I didn't have time to truly read. Oh, I always had a book with me, to read before class, during breaks, or while consuming a meal. But these books were old friends, worn and battered from years of jostling in backpacks and purses.

During a recent visit home, I viewed, with alarm, the precariously teetering stacks and piles of books that have taken over several square feet of my mother’s bedroom. I offered to take several of the books that overflow our house.

How the Hangman Lost His Heart by K. M. Grant, Walker Books , 2007

is a book I have known about for some time. Last year, the entmother shared a book talk Grant did in England. Grant's humor was brilliant and the story of poor Uncle Frank's head, hilarious.

The story is set in the mid 18th century. Grant easily weaves the traditions and habits of the time with an engaging story that will grab a reader of any age. Alice, our heroine, is no blushing maid, nor is she a steely eyed shield-maiden. Alice is simply a young girl who wants to bury her beloved Uncle Frank's head with his body.

Poor Uncle Frank was executed for being a traitor to the King. The story opens with the execution, and treats the moments with as much good taste as possible. Alice, after meeting with her highly eccentric Aunt Ursula and rather dotty grandmother Lady Widdrington, goes to rescue her Uncle's head from the Temple Bar. The subsequent rescue and flight embroil Dan Skinslicker, the executioner, and Cpt. Hew Ffrench, a soldier originally tasked with arresting Alice.

This story was a joy to read while I sat out on a patio on campus during lunch. The lighthearted humor was an excellent distraction from a day that was, overall, not quite right.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Movie: The Hobbit

Casting News
They're back!

"Sir Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis will all be appearing in the new film version of The Hobbit, director Guillermo del Toro has confirmed."
del Toro: "We are just two geeks having an incredibly great time."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

For all us who love the printed word

Whether e-booked, audio-ed or between the covers, we love the books.

This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Radiant Girl

Radiant Girl by Andrea White, Bright Sky Press, 2008

The idea that the events surrounding the Chernobyl Disaster can now be classified as "historical fiction" is somewhat dismaying to me as I recall the news reports as a current event, not a historical one. Young people today though, have very little if any knowledge of the accident and the culpability of the government that could have prevented it.

Katya is anticipating cake and presents on her eleventh birthday and the celebration with her family and friends is wonderful. That night though, reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station goes critical and her life is never the same.

The reader will be incredulous at the breathtaking silence and then false assurances of safety from the Soviet government in the hours and days following the accident. Children were sent home from school with only a simple admonishment that "the outdoors is dangerous." Katya's father, who works at the plant, continues there despite having received a large dose of radiation on the night of the explosion. Katya's Uncle Victor warns them all of the danger but her father will not listen.

It is several days before families in the area are ordered to evacuate. Katya and her mother are put on a bus and sent to Kiev where they are met with suspicion and fear that they are radioactive.

Underlying the confusion and world-gone-mad emotions she is feeling, there is the mystery of the strange boy she met in the forest the night of the accident. He predicted the accident and warned Katya that her life was about to change. Was he real or was he an imaginary being from the folktales her grandmother used to tell her?

Katya learns the truth about radiation poisoning and the danger it poses for her country. She is worried and furious about her father's seemingly blind devotion to the Communist Party and a government that lied to the victims of the disaster and to the workers who are now part of the clean up.

Even though time provides some healing, the horrible legacy of Chernobyl stalks her family and her country. Ultimately Katya must find a way to move forward and put the past to rest. The idea of disaster and recovery is certainly relevant in the aftermath of September 11, Hurricane Katrina, and the worsening economic news of today.

White has done extensive research and visited the Dead Zone. Do read her very funny account, "Radioactive Author," of a school program where she discussed her visit there with the kids.

She provides a glossary, references and even footnotes facts within the story. Thinking as a teacher- librarian, this would be useful to share with students as a good example of documenting sources.

I liked this book so much. I admit I found myself mentally shouting, "Look out! Get out of there!" to the characters. This is a very moving story.

Semicolon Interview with Andrea White

Andrea White Website

Andrea White's Blog, Passionate Supporter

Monday, June 08, 2009

48 Hour Book Challenge Wrap Up

Wrapping Up

Books read: 2
Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. Hyperion, 2008 (5 hours)
Radiant Girl by Andrea White. Bright Sky Press, 2008 (2 hours)

Time Spent reading: 7 hours

Not so bad considering all that was going on this weekend.

Audiobooks listened to: 2
The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer, Katherine Kellgren (Narrator.) Recorded Books, 2007 (finished listening 1.5 hours)

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer, Katherine Kellgren (Narrator.) Recorded Books, 2007 (Began listening: 1.75 hours)

Can we just agree that Katherine Kellgren is one of the great audio book narrators of ALL time?

Listening Time: 3 hours, 15 min.

Total Time devoted to #48HBC = 10 hours, 15 min.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

48 Hour Book Challenge

Wide awake now and reading 3rd book in Cinda Williams Chima's "Heir" series, The Dragon Heir.

Have been stinging for months now over the ent nephew's astonishment that he had read a book before I had.

Finished Dragon Heir. The ent-nephew told me something happened to one of the characters and it made him sad. He was right. It made me sad too.

Starting second book, oohh, aaahh, wow....

Radiant Girl by Andrea White. Bright Sky Press, 2008

Given this busy weekend I am glad I was able to read one book, much less two. What a terrific book to end on for my 48 Hour Book Challenge. I will review the book in more depth later this week but I will say that I was completely engrossed in this story. This well written historical fiction considers what it must have been like to have been a living near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant when the disaster occured.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

48 Hour Book Challenge

Almost twelve hours in.

Will not disclose the title of the book I am reading as I worry the activities comsuming my afternoon will be a reflecton on the book. The book is very good, so far.

Began 7 a.m.-is
  • Reading --
  • Stopped reading to say good-by to Entling no. 1 and the entling-in-law who were returning home for another high school graduation --
  • Finished breakfast and ablutions --
  • Reading --
  • Discussion of profile for graduation computing hardware gift for new graduate --
  • Awakened new high school graduate, who is sleeping soundly after all night Project Grad party in order to prepare for another graduation party west of town --
  • Google mapped location of party that Engling no. 3 has been invited to --
  • Delivered the entling to her party --
  • Reading --
  • Fell into deep unrelenting nap. --
  • Roused briefly from nap and fell asleep again. --
  • Opened one eye. What is wrong with me? Post graduation letdown? Relief that I am finished (as a parent) with public education? Ooohhh, the TURKEY sandwhich I ate for lunch.

48 Hour Book Challenge

Visiting family, high school graduations, and children home for the festivities will not deter me from my participation in MotherReader's 48 Hour Book Challenge this year.

Oh, I may ONLY manage one book but it is fun to think that this is a weekend of reading all over the Kidlitosphere and beyond.

My theme this year will be: Books I should have read by now but never got around to.

Clocking in at 7 a.m. Saturday, June 6, 2009.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Donut Chef

It is National Donut Day!

The Donut Chef by Bob Staake, Golden Books, 2008

The first indication that civilization has arrived in a new neighborhood or subdivision is the opening of a donut shop.

This donut chef opens his new Donut Land shop and it is a great success. When another donut shop opens on the street, the competition becomes fierce as both stores offer discounts, extra frosting and exotic flavors to entice the public. In an emperor-has-no-clothes moment a little girl laments that she cannot get a plain glazed donut and the chef realizes that simple is best.
This cautionary culinary tale emphasises the virtue and value of doing one thing very well.

Staake's signature digital illustrations consist of the circles and geometric shapes that are perfect for a book about donuts.

To continue the celebration of donuts go enjoy GottaBook's ode to donuts, Doughnuts! Oh, Doughnuts!

Less fat and fewer calories!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The End of the Year in a School Library

Ah yes--the end of the school year is such an interesting time in a school library.

  1. Librarians run and run and print and print reports that present the grim statistics about the horrific number of books STILL checked out to students even though the end of school is just a few days away.

  2. Librarians send out MORE reminders and requests for the return of missing books.

  3. Librarians cheerfully call home phone numbers and leave messages requesting any kind of response or acknowledgment of the lost school library books.

  4. Librarians cheerfully walk to the shelves with students to look for the book that the student is positive he/she already returned or never checked-out in the first place, "no doubt about it, honest, they remember."

  5. Librarians cheerfully point out that the book is NOT on the shelf, therefore, it will be necessary for the student to look again.

  6. Librarians cheerfully suggest places the child can look for their library book.

  7. Librarians cheerfully invite book characters like, say, Viola Swamp, to go on the morning announcements to request the return of library books. Viola infers she will be roaming the hallways and looking into classrooms for library books

  8. The librarian's child, who is watching those morning announcements in horror, from her classroom, SWEARS her mother is NOT at school that day when her classmates suggest Viola bears a resemblance to her!

  9. Librarians cheerfully roll book carts down to 5th grade and request that everyone clean out their desks in the hope that lost library books will materialize.

  10. Librarians cheerfully roll book carts back to the library having netted at least twenty missing books that suddenly appeared in desks, on classroom counters and mixed in with classroom libraries.

  11. Librarians cheer and clap as the student, who was sure that he/she had already returned or had never checked out that book in the first place, "no doubt about it, honest, they remember," comes running in, beaming with joy announcing, "I found it, I found it!"

  12. Librarians cheerfully listen to teachers who explain they never checked out those materials for their classroom "no doubt about it, honest, they remember."

  13. Librarians gulp hard and hug children who present them with flowers, cookies, picture frames, and precious thank-you notes for a year that was full of reading and imagination.

School librarians, you've worked so hard all year.

Thank you.

Have a wonderful summer and try not to think about your library every day this summer.

Monday, June 01, 2009